Welcome to the latest edition of Ramble, a compilation of what I have been pondering, learning and enjoying for the past week or so.
Now, grab a beverage and let’s begin.
Check out these drone views of Giza:
Check out the graffiti at the top:
(I can see a '1917' inscribed at the top...)
Read the piece here.
What I am Reading:
So the Olympics was great. I thought there was kind of a weird moment, however, when the 16 year old Guan Chenchen won the women's balance beam final. It looked like she had no idea how to react. She looked like a lost child. Which she kind of was, I suppose. This article does a good job on the whole 'teen gymnast' thing.
"Over the past five years, women’s gymnastics has faced a reckoning with itself that started with the horrifying revelation that for more than two decades, longtime USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar had been sexually abusing hundreds of girls and women under the guise of medical treatment. Gymnasts spoke out, not just about sex abuse, but also about other forms of trauma that the sport had inflicted on them: psychologically abusive coaches who demeaned them at every turn and forced them to train while injured; officials who commented on their weight, leading them down the path to eating disorders; and institutions that knew enough to intervene but ignored the problem."
The piece paints a way out of the weird "lets make children do flips all day every day with overbearing coaches being their main adult influence" thing with some examples of gymnastics programs that did it differently - with actual adult gymnasts competing at elite levels - like the Dutch and Brazilian programs. And then of course there is Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan who competed on vault at age 46 at the Tokyo Games — her eighth and final Olympics.
"Our abandonment of the Afghans who helped us, counted on us, and staked their lives on us is a final, gratuitous shame that we could have avoided."
This is tragic. A harrowing indictment of our nation-bulding efforts over the last 20 years. Playing out in real time. Right now.
I mean, this is from August 16, 2021:
Kabul has fallen. After twenty years of fighting, the Taliban will have taken the country back in two weeks. Afghanistan's president has fled. Afghans who can are fleeing to Kabul airport. There are not enough flights. Or Visas. Or western democratic haste, competence or care.
There are desperate and strained claims from politicians (American) that this is nothing like the fall of Saigon.
It appears to be almost exactly like the fall of Saigon, just less green, and more distant from the ocean.
These people fought with us against a shared enemy. We have left them to deal with it themselves. (Yep, that goes for Vietnam and Afghanistan...)
How have we repeated history again on live television? Leaving our brothers and sisters when the barbarians are at the gate...
What I am Watching:
I suppose this is a good time to plug Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s ten-part, 18-hour documentary series, The Vietnam War. A masterpiece. Vietnam was before my time, so my images of the fall of Saigon come from here.
What I am Listening to:
And I suppose the 'Masterly Inactivity Versus Micromanaging' episode of the 'Cautionary Tales' podcast is good for some background on Afghanistan being the graveyard of empires:
"Lady Sale...was part of a bloody and ignominious British retreat from Afghanistan in 1842. The arrogant colonial invaders had thought intervening in Afghan affairs and dominating the country would be easy - they were wrong. Lady Sale was among the lucky few to escape with her life."
"To a surprising extent the war-lords in shining armour, the apostles of martial virtues, tend not to die fighting when the time comes. History is full of ignominious getaways by the great and famous."
- George Orwell
And on War:
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his."
- General George S. Patton
Before we Finish:
Honestly, I think our politicians are a thoroughly underwhelming mob. However, we play with the hand we are dealt. So I, for the first time ever, I have sent a message to a politician with my concerns for our fellow Afghans.
Prime Minister Morrison literally has a contact page here.
Thank you once again for reading along with me.
If you found something you liked, let me know.
If you think I can do something a little smoother, please let me know.