<= 2003.02.25

2003.02.27 =>

that's good; "mobled queen" is good

Bulgaria, our new best friend.

Sketchy facts about Bulgaria rattle around: It has a town called Plovdiv; it wants to become big in the skiing industry; its secret service stabbed an exiled dissident writer in London with a poison-tipped umbrella—a ricin-tipped umbrella, in fact; its weight-lifting team was expelled from the Olympics in a drug scandal in 2000; it sent agents to kill the pope.

An insane Bulgarian lived down my hall freshman year in college. He was enormous and rowed on the crew team, which involved getting up in the dark of winter at 5 a.m. every day; his father was a physicist at Stanford's linear accelerator who had repeatedly set his bed on fire by falling asleep while smoking; he desperately wanted a girlfriend but didn't know how to go about it; he loved Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.; he slept on the lower bunk of his bed behind a sort of cave wall constructed from towels, in order to keep out the sounds of parties, raucous freshman that we were; and one night he came tearing down the hall after me because I was being too loud outside his room and bellowed at me for a solid five minutes before retreating back to his lair. The odd thing was that he apologized repeatedly the next day, even though I was patently the asshole in that case.

The shift among the Arab ruling and intellectual classes who identified with the West is a telling barometer in the Arab world. Anger at the United States appears greater than at any time since the 1967 Middle East war, greater even than during the headiest days of the 1950s, when Gamal Abdel Nasser ruled Egypt and made anti-imperialism a staple of his still-celebrated speeches. The fate of Iraqis and, to a greater degree, that of Palestinians have become pressing domestic issues.

The broad anger is evident in many ways: attacks on Americans and other Westerners in the Persian Gulf region, chants at protests that denounce "American terrorism" in the same breath as "Israeli aggression," and ongoing efforts to boycott McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Pizza Hut and other U.S. products. There are also more subtle signs. Well-to-do Jordanians are said to spurn invitations to dinners attended by Americans. Cairo taxi drivers occasionally decline to pick up foreigners in expatriate enclaves. In a culture that celebrates a tradition of hospitality, some even refuse to offer the almost requisite coffee or tea to an American visitor.

(To whoever wrote in asking about the authorship of "Journey of the Magi": yes, absence of quote box means it's original.)

 

<= 2003.02.25

2003.02.27 =>

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