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Showing posts from April, 2018

The character of Kazdim the Eunuch, Chief of Police, in Dennis Wheatley's 'The Eunuch of Stamboul' (with spoilers)

Dennis Wheatley was a popular author in early twentieth-century England. His novel The Eunuch of Stamboul enjoyed many printings with different cover designs, many of which illustrate the titular eunuch.
Wheatley dedicated his book to Capt. George "Peter" H. Hill, author of Go Spy the Land and Then Came the Dawn, who he credits as an influence. He also mentions the friendship of "Colonel Charles Davey and Mr. Norman Penzer, both of whom have known the mystery and romance of Stamboul."The author lays bare one of his guiding stereotypes about Turks late in the story. It will be helpful for us to see it up front:"Kazdim [the Eunuch] was so completely Oriental — subtle, shrewd, sadistic, but so certain of himself and showing so little of his emotions that it had seemed a waste of breath to bandy words with him, whereas the [Turkish] Prince was so much more a Western type that Swithin [the Englishman] felt almost as if he were up against an exceptionally depraved an…

The memoir of the Sudanese eunuch 'Omar' in 'Desert Royal' by Jean Sasson

As an American living in Saudi Arabia from 1978 to 1991, Jean Sasson befriended a Saudi princess and wrote three memoirs for her — Princess,Daughters of Arabia, and Desert Royal — in a first-person voice while keeping her anonymous. The princess has unfathomable wealth that her husband gives her to buy luxury clothes (a half-million U.S. dollars is a day's spending cash in New York City), and she has a good relationship with her husband based on mutual respect, although most of her female relatives do not have such luck with their husbands and many women in the country are married off young or treated as sex slaves. She struggles privately with her own alcoholism in a country where drinking is a crime.The middle of Desert Royal briefly features an 88-year-old eunuch who introduces himself as "Omar, of the Sudan." He is the servant of the princess's "eccentric" cousin; she had not realized that there were any eunuchs still living in Saudi Arabia. The princes…

Belief in God: Statistics

A 2003 Harris poll found that 90 percent of American adults believe in God, and that most also believe in heaven and hell (82 percent and 69 percent, respectively). More recently, a 2018 Pew Study found that 56 percent of Americans believe in “God as described in the Bible,” one-third believed in some other kind of God or higher power, and 10 percent had no such spiritual belief at all. Many believe that God protects them (77 percent), has rewarded them (67 percent), has punished them (40 percent), or talks to them (28 percent).Does all this belief change anyone's behavior? Perhaps not. It certainly drives religious behavior: In 2014, Pew found that 36 percent of Americans claimed to attend religious services at least once a week, while 30 percent never (or almost never) go at all. Personal belief and identity also drive the amount that people donate to congregations, religious charities, and religiously-branded charities. Outside of religious activity, however, the impact of beli…

Tanzania requires bloggers to register with the government for exorbitant fee

In Tanzania, if you use the Internet to post your writing, audio, or video, you must now register with the government for a license. It costs USD $930 per year, and the application form requests extensive financial information. The licensing requirement applies equally to individuals and media companies. The fee is an unattainable amount for most people, as the majority of those who work on farms, in restaurants, and in office support roles earn less than USD $1,500 per year (300,000 Tanzanian shillings per month).In 2011, the income of the richest 20 percent was nearly 8 times that of the poorest 80 percent.The registration fee would be about a week's income even for President Magufuli himself.According to a government press release written in Swahili, the public registration process opened April 21. People who are already providing content are required to register by May 5. Everyone else is required to register before they begin publishing. Publishing "content that causes …

Robert Greenblatt: Eunuchs in 'Search the Scriptures'

Robert B. Greenblatt was a mid-twentieth-century endocrinologist who contributed to the development of oral contraceptives.His book Search the Scriptures places a modern endocrinological interpretation on certain Biblical references. His first case examines the likelihood that Esau, who transferred his anticipated inheritance to his younger brother in exchange for lentils when he suddenly felt he was about to die of hunger, was probably hypoglycemic. This book has a chapter on eunuchs titled "And They Sang Like Cherubs." The epigraph is Matthew 19:12 and the leading questions are "Why emasculation? What is the role of the endocrine glands in the development of character and personality? Apart from some advice about how sex glands operate (noting Brown-Sequard's folly), most of Greenblatt's comments are of a historical nature. He acknowledges that servants were castrated "in the Orient, in the Middle East, and later in Greece and in the Roman Empire" sin…

Similarities of 'education,' 'strategic planning,' 'self-forgiveness'

Edgar Morin's "complex lessons in education" and Gergen and Vanourek's rules for strategic planning have some overlap. Combining them yields something like this:Test our assumptions / Detect error and illusionMaster the context / Grasp principles of pertinent knowledgeConfront uncertainties - Craft experiments
- Mitigate risk
Identify the required resources / Remain focused and flexibleUnderstand each other / Teach the human condition, earth identity, and ethicsFrom a coaching perspective, Jennifer-Crystal Johnson advises these steps for self-forgiveness. Awareness of "context" and "responsibility" is once again relevant, but here, the emphasis is less on building upon or exploiting that information and more about feeling the situation and knowing when to let the feelings go. There is value in being aware of thoughts that do not need to be had and actions that do not need to be taken.Begin with calm and peaceRemember your positive traitsSee the c…

James Comey: Trump presidency a "forest fire," seen optimistically

The Trump presidency is quickly eroding the norms of the office of the U.S. president. Will the United States emerge stronger, more aware of these norms and of their importance, and better able to uphold them in the future? To describe this possibility, Brian Klaas used the metaphor of a vaccine in his book The Despot's Apprentice in late 2017. In April 2018 in his book A Higher Loyalty, James Comey referred to "the forest fire that is the Trump presidency," a metaphor he explained as follows:”Yes, the current president will do significant damage in the short term. Important norms and traditions will be damaged by the flames. But forest fires, as painful as they can be, bring growth. ... There is reason to believe this fire will leave the presidency weaker and Congress and the courts stronger, just as the forest fire of Watergate did. There is a lot of good in that.”Having been fired by Trump for his refusal to cease the investigation into Russian interference in the 201…