Tag Archives: sadness

Even When The Chemical Weapons Are Gone, Violence And Despair Will Endure In Syria

A man bleeds in a northern Syria hospital after a ricochet bullet went through his foot. In a sense, he was lucky that the bullet did not stay in his body, which would have required surgery to remove. The hospital staff told us that until very recently th

Notwithstanding my remarkably horrendous coping with jet-lag, I have been following along — as best I can — with the developments in, around, and regarding Syria. From the hasty deal struck between Russia and the U.S. to account for Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, to the draft resolution currently underway — and meant for an imminent Security Council resolution — involving diplomats from the U.S., Russia, China, France and Britain, it seems like the Obama Administration has been able to avert a war, save face, and reinforce everyone’s favourite international norm.

But while it’s a very good thing the international arena is acting in unison over Assad’s use of chemical weapons, it makes little difference to the everyday Syrian — either fighting in the streets, or fighting to stay alive at home. The sad truth is, we’re in the early stages of a bloodletting in Syria that began nearly 94 years ago when one Brit (Sir Mark Sykes) and one Frenchman (Francois George-Picot) divided the Arab provinces — once belonging to the Ottoman Empire — between their two respective colonial powers. The Sykes-Picot Agreement (also known as the Asia Minor Agreement) of 1920 created the modern state of Syria as we now know it. 20130918-110243.jpgNo one living in Syria ever got a say in how their “nation” was constructed — both in terms of territory, and control. Syria was purposefully devised to pit the Shiite Alawite minority against the Sunni Arab majority, with a side-show consisting of Christians, Druze and Kurds (who are also Sunnis). The same principle (divide-and-rule) applied to Iraq, except the minority Sunnis were used to control the majority Shiites. The reason colonial powers constructed these cynical divisions is simple: appeal to the minority, train them, arm them, and use them to control the majority out of fear, oppression, and obligation. It’s how empires are made, and how they endure.

It should come as no surprise, then, that from Syria and Iraq we had (and have) two of the most brutal, horrific dictators of all time: Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad. They were (and are) manifestations of colonial manipulation; the products of two nations created under the weight of permanent warfare, oppression, and sectarian strife.

“Why do we have a brutal civil war in Syria?” is not the question we should be asking. We know why it’s happening. It’s the same reason we still have one raging in Iraq. The brutal and callous decades long oppression of the majority groups in both states broke free, at long last, with the Arab Spring. For better or worse, and due in large part to the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003, the bloodletting in Syria has only just begun. It won’t stop if and when the chemical weapons stockpiles are accounted for. Nor will it stop if and when Bashar al-Assad is removed from power. Notice for example how when the United States argues that it’s justified in arming the opposition, they make it plain that they intend to only support “moderate” rebels. What about the not-so-moderate rebels? What role will they play in a post-Assad Syria? The quixotic idea that any two sides in this conflict could reach a political agreement, untainted by blood and terror, is as likely as it was in Iraq — where a decade of occupation and trillions of dollars could not prevent 100,000+ deaths.

Innocent men, women and children are being murdered at staggering rates. Some have been gassed, but 99% have lost their lives to the real “weapons of mass destruction”: small munitions. The images of dead children, and the videos of crying mothers holding their lost loved ones are unbearably heartbreaking. But for every image of an innocent life lost, there’s a video of a rebel, or one of Assad’s soldiers, reminding the world through barbaric savagery that this is a sectarian fight to the death.

And no UN Resolution is going to change that.

(Photo: Freedom House)


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Poem of the Week

Anger of the Guns
Anger of the Guns (cc photo by Ben Powis)

The Next War

“War’s a joke for me and you,
While we know such dreams are true.”
Siegfried Sassoon

Out there, we’ve walked quite friendly up to Death,-
Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,-
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We’ve sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,-
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn’t writhe.
He’s spat at us with bullets and he’s coughed
Shrapnel. We chorussed when he sang aloft,
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.

Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier’s paid to kick against His powers.
We laughed, -knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars: when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.

Wilfred Owen

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Battling clinical depression with illustration


Allie Brosh, the brilliant cartoonist, is back doing what she does best. Check out this amazing array of illustration and insight as she battles clinical depression with some really awesome drawings.

At first, I’d try to explain that it’s not really negativity or sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.

But people want to help. So they try harder to make you feel hopeful and positive about the situation. You explain it again, hoping they’ll try a less hope-centric approach, but re-explaining your total inability to experience joy inevitably sounds kind of negative; like maybe you WANT to be depressed. The positivity starts coming out in a spray — a giant, desperate happiness sprinkler pointed directly at your face. And it keeps going like that until you’re having this weird argument where you’re trying to convince the person that you are far too hopeless for hope just so they’ll give up on their optimism crusade and let you go back to feeling bored and lonely by yourself.

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Daily roundup – April 16

We kicked off the day here at BaddiesBoogie with a couple of pieces regarding yesterday’s tragic events in Boston. Cato started us off with a touching article regarding our capacities to feel sadness and shed tears for those poor souls we can’t see lose their lives every day in places like Iraq, Syria and others. Then I offered some thoughts on terrorism and why our collective strength will always win out against the purveyors of such horror.

Elsewhere, I briefly considered Rand Paul’s continuing tour to convince African Americans that his party, the Republicans, do actually deserve black support since Abe Lincoln was once a Republican. Good luck convincing educated people that your version of history trumps everyone else’s.

Finally, your photo of the day featured some mind numbing shots taken by the great Michael Wolf, chronicling Honk Kong’s population density, then ended with our daily “Laugh Break!”, this time focusing on the scariest, funniest elevator ride in history.

See you tomorrow.


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Crying for the ones we can’t see

Written by Cato,

I cried yesterday. And while I suppose I might cry more than most American men, I’d bet money that most would give me a pass for yesterday’s tears. The images that came out of Boston were gruesome, and frankly images of blood soaking the streets of one of America’s great cities are not something to which most of us are accustomed.

But there are parts of the world where bloodbaths are common; where innocent people go about their days, trying for a bit of normalcy, and BOOM . . . nothing will be the same.

Iraq is one of those places.

“‘Two vehicles managed to reach the entrance of Baghdad airport and were left parked there. While we were doing routine searches, the two cars exploded seconds apart. Two passengers traveling to the airport were killed,’ a police source said, cited Reuters.

“Witnesses blamed authorities for being unable to provide adequate security: ‘I blame those who call themselves politicians in government [and] the security forces . . . for this bad security situation. They are doing nothing to help the people, and are only looking out for their benefits,’ said Qassim Saad, a Baghdad teacher who witnessed one of the blasts.”

I didn’t cry when I read about Iraq; when I saw images of a blood soaked car and twisted metal in the street I abstractly knew how awful yesterday was for Iraqis, and I sincerely wished for their safety. But I just couldn’t make the connection. Maybe it’s too far away or looks too much like the movies or maybe it’s just a moral failure on my part. I hope it’s just a pitfall of semiotics.

But when I saw this guy, shaking and holding a blood soaked American flag, it was too much for me.

He’s been identified as Carlos Arredondo, a Costa Rican immigrant whose Marine son died in action in Iraq in 2004. The day he learned of his son’s death, Arredondo ​locked himself in a van with five gallons of gasoline and a propane torch and set the van on fire. He survived, became a peace activist, and was among the spectators who rushed toward the fumes after the explosion today. Arredondo was at the marathon to cheer for a runner who’d dedicated their race to his son. After tying a tourniquet onto the young man’s legs and wheeling him past the finish line to emergency help, Arredondo, seen badly shaken and trembling in this video, gripping a small American flag drenched in blood, talks to some bystanders on the street about the explosion:

I wonder how I would feel if I saw a blood soaked Iraqi flag or Sudanese flag, or the flags of any number of countries where violence on a mass scale is common. I wonder how any of us would feel. I hope we would cry.

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Social isolation significantly associated with increased mortality

Thanks to this new study in the Proceedings the of National Academy of Sciences, you can all now begin to feel considerably worse for not calling your grandparents. It turns out that while feeling lonely won’t kill you, actually being lonely very well might. The likelihood is actually increased a staggering and unbelievable 26 percent.

Extracted from the study’s abstract:

We found that mortality was higher among more socially isolated and more lonely participants. However, after adjusting statistically for demographic factors and baseline health, social isolation remained significantly associated with mortality (hazard ratio 1.26, 95% confidence interval, 1.08–1.48 for the top quintile of isolation), but loneliness did not (hazard ratio 0.92, 95% confidence interval, 0.78–1.09). The association of social isolation with mortality was unchanged when loneliness was included in the model. Both social isolation and loneliness were associated with increased mortality. However, the effect of loneliness was not independent of demographic characteristics or health problems and did not contribute to the risk associated with social isolation. Although both isolation and loneliness impair quality of life and well-being, efforts to reduce isolation are likely to be more relevant to mortality.

Researchers in the field of public health have known for a long time that there was a connection between isolation, loneliness and death. What’s been unclear is the link between that of feeling lonely and the impact it may have on one’s health. They’ve also been curious as to whether the feelings attributed to loneliness and social isolation are dependent on one another, or can exist separately.

Well, these researchers set out to find an answer. They studied 6,500 men and women who participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA) in 2004 and 2005. They measured the participants on feelings of loneliness and objective measures of social isolation. And then they looked at mortality rates over the next seven years. When they first began compiling data, both social isolation and loneliness were associated with rising mortality. After they began controlling for other factors (demographic and baseline health), only social isolation remained strongly associated with increased mortality.

But you might ask yourself how it can be that isolation is connected to rising mortality and not loneliness? The two seem to go hand in hand after all. The distinction comes when you consider not the emotional aspects of isolation, which could very well be loneliness, but rather the practical aspects of living bereft of contact and assistance. Those that live socially isolated have less people around them helping them make good decisions; like going to doctor in a timely manner, or controlling a diet etc,.

The message from all of this: call your grandparents. Reducing their isolation is integral to ensuring their health.

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Poem of the week – March 24, 2013

Sadness of the moon.

Tonight the moon dreams with more indolence,
Like a lovely woman on a bed of cushions
Who fondles with a light and listless hand
The contour of her breasts before falling asleep;
On the satiny back of the billowing clouds,
Languishing, she lets herself fall into long swoons
And casts her eyes over the white phantoms
That rise in the azure like blossoming flowers.
When, in her lazy listlessness,
She sometimes sheds a furtive tear upon this globe,
A pious poet, enemy of sleep,
In the hollow of his hand catches this pale tear,
With the iridescent reflections of opal,
And hides it in his heart afar from the sun’s eyes.
– Charles Baudelaire, Flowers of Evil

Tristesses de la lune

Ce soir, la lune rêve avec plus de paresse;
Ainsi qu’une beauté, sur de nombreux coussins,
Qui d’une main distraite et légère caresse
Avant de s’endormir le contour de ses seins,
Sur le dos satiné des molles avalanches,
Mourante, elle se livre aux longues pâmoisons,
Et promène ses yeux sur les visions blanches
Qui montent dans l’azur comme des floraisons.
Quand parfois sur ce globe, en sa langueur oisive,
Elle laisse filer une larme furtive,
Un poète pieux, ennemi du sommeil,
Dans le creux de sa main prend cette larme pâle,
Aux reflets irisés comme un fragment d’opale,
Et la met dans son coeur loin des yeux du soleil.

– fleurs du mal

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