Oh dear lord. I couldn't think of a "better" guy to have to spend years in prison, under torture, for no justifiable reason. What an incredible man. TOh dear lord. I couldn't think of a "better" guy to have to spend years in prison, under torture, for no justifiable reason. What an incredible man. Through all of his ordeals, he is seeking the good in everyone, even in the masked men who beat him. He sees the humanity in people performing some of the most inhumane acts.
But as Mohamedou puts it, one pretty much has to. His interrogators and prison guards are some of the only people he is to see for lengthy periods of time -- until the entire repetitive process starts over again with the next trained interrogator.
The "war on terror" is a complete hypocritical failure. Torture is but more terror. Mohamedou comes to recognize a lot of the people in this whole process are themselves trying to justify their own actions -- and Mohamedou being imprisoned is yet another attempt to justify even worse actions.
This is a very upsetting look at injustice. It's also interesting to see how people react to torture (some simply go crazy, says Mohamedou) and even more interesting is the relationship between the prisoners and the people in charge of them. Some of the oddest dynamics and friendships rise.
I primarily got this book for a "living" example of censorship, which is one of the most immediately eye-catching things about the diary. The text is full of black bars, mostly obscuring names and other "sensitive" data. In reality, it is haphazard and sometimes even puzzling -- it is clear the word "tears" is once blackened. Feminine pronouns are nearly always blackened out, except sometimes they miss one, and names and dates are often blackened, except when they sometimes miss those, too. This was very hastily and embarrassingly censored.
After putting the book down, I feel an extreme amount of respect for Slahi. I address this to him specifically, as I hope one day he will be able to see this: You feel like a very close friend and brother, and I admire your unshakable faith and humanity. I feel ashamed to be a part of a country that would not admit its wrong-doings for so long. I hope the tea invitation extends to me....more
Video games are a relatively new medium, which is really brought into perspective when reading this. Such a slow start to gaming... and then it all exVideo games are a relatively new medium, which is really brought into perspective when reading this. Such a slow start to gaming... and then it all explodes. Replay does a swell job of covering the starting point of video games. Soon it is clear though that it doesn't really know what thread to follow. It shuns a linear tale in favour of chapters devoted to specific subjects -- music and dance, MUDs, sims, indie, the era of Doom.
I know Nintendo well, so let's take Nintendo as an example. It talks much of Nintendo and the concept of virtual reality... yet nowhere is the Virtual Boy brought up (something I wanted to read about)! And I think the Gamecube only received two off-hand references. Clearly the book is not a comprehensive history but a quick dash through various highlights, and that's okay because it does it well. Don't expect much of modern gaming*, though.
The meat of the book is only around four-hundred pages, and the rest of the book is devoted to a list of recommended games from a variety of genres and across a multitude of platforms. I haven't scoured this yet like I need more games but it seems useful for specific recs.
*subject to mean something entirely different in just a short decade...more
"I often thought that the simple fact, the mechanical fact, is no closer to the truth than a vague feeling, rumor, vision. Why repeat the facts--they"I often thought that the simple fact, the mechanical fact, is no closer to the truth than a vague feeling, rumor, vision. Why repeat the facts--they cover up our feelings. The development of these feelings, the spilling of these feelings past the facts, is what fascinates me. I try to find them, collect them, protect them.
These people had already seen what for everyone else is still unknown. I feel like I was recording the future."...more
I've had a great curiosity for Greenland lately but after reading this, I'm going to have to shy away from it. The place seems very depressing to me nI've had a great curiosity for Greenland lately but after reading this, I'm going to have to shy away from it. The place seems very depressing to me now. This book is rather old, and the information on Greenland seems to be scarce and limited to the colonization of Greenland by others.
It's like an outsider looking in. There is very little information on the Inuit people but much on the nonnative people who came into contact with Greenland and tried to explore and settle there. Stefansson first goes into great detail on the voyages of people who might have spotted Greenland.
The text seems very rough in places because Stefansson might stray offtopic and try to get it back by some abrupt "But this isn't pertaining to our topic..." (this isn't an actual sentence from the book, but I've already returned the book and can't go find one myself) and this attempt fails and goes into some other diversion that must be brought on track.
The most interesting part of this book was its musings on the disappearance of the first Norse settlement in Greenland. It has a rather romantic view of the Norse people integrating with the Inuit and then abandoning their own settlements to hunt with them in the north until they mostly "vanish" except for their blood. This, however, is not backed up by modern DNA analysis apparently. The most likely explanation is the Norse's failure to adapt to live in the country (which is just about the opposite view Stefansson proposed as the likely explanation).
I learned from another source that Greenland has high suicide rate and alcohol problems, which further makes me very sad for the land. The status of Greenlandic seems grim considering Danish is used for higher education and by the government. It seems like their culture and the people are ignored. It seems like their culture is being lost to modernization.
If I pick up another book on Greenland I hope for one wherein I learn more on the people actually living there. I don't care about when so-and-so might have spotted a glimpse of Greenland, long, long ago....more
I'm not really a non-fiction reader-- I like a narrative, not dry recitations of facts. This is an informative and enjoyable account of the history ofI'm not really a non-fiction reader-- I like a narrative, not dry recitations of facts. This is an informative and enjoyable account of the history of the world, focusing on Islam and the middle east -- or "the middle world" -- beginning with the Persians and Zoroastrianism and ending with 9/11.
This book doesn't encompass everything. It's 347 pages if you're not including the index and bibliography. Think of it as an introduction, a really good one. Ansary remarks that "Islam can be seen as one world history among many that are unfolding simultaneously, each in some way incorporating all the others" (and also, "the middle world" being one that is often rather neglected by the West when looking at history.)
Really, I'm trying to expand my knowledge of history. I've tried Wikipedia but it's too dry. Ansary tells a good story, with glimmers of humour which were welcomed. And I think he is right in this viewpoint being rather neglected. I've never completed enough schooling to even take a world history class (hurrrrr, America) but I doubt I would have gained anything of value from it concerning Islam and the Middle East. I'd recommend to anyone looking for more insight regarding modern conflicts in that part of the world.
Now, finding more books concerning history that are readable......more
This is a collection of, basically, biographies of scientists during the Romantic period. The scientists, you will find, are wonderfully eccentric andThis is a collection of, basically, biographies of scientists during the Romantic period. The scientists, you will find, are wonderfully eccentric and very interesting to read about.
I can't help but wonder, why isn't all this taught in schools? It would make science so much more interesting. Joseph Banks traveling to Tahiti, William Herschel making telescopes and discovering Uranus, England and France both competing to fly in balloons-- and more.
I don't have much of a complaint at all, other than some people were more interesting than others, which is expected. It all flows together nicely, so even when the Joseph Banks chapter is done you still hear about him later on meeting or organizing something else!...more