Last Tuesday, in a California courtroom, a judge sentenced 23-year-old Casey Nocket to two years’ probation and 200 hours of community service after Nocket pleaded guilty to seven counts of damaging government property. Over the span of about a month in 2014, Ms Nocket had used indelible markers to paint large cartoonish figures on prominent rock surfaces in various national parks in California, Colorado, Utah, and Oregon; she had then posted photos of her doodles to Instagram.
News accounts of Ms Nocket’s exploits invariably use terms like “vandalism” and “vandalized”. This was a characterization to which the defendant objected during the court proceedings, and I would have to agree with her: real Vandals don’t deserve such a comparison.
Frustrated ISIS militants holding the city of Palmyra yesterday beheaded 82-year-old archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad.
When Islamic State fighters first began to move in on the city — a UNESCO World Heritage site which dates back to Roman times — Asaad, the director of antiquities for Palmyra, moved everything portable into hiding. Once the city had fallen into ISIS hands, the militants began looting the site, hoping to sell priceless artifacts to wealthy collectors in the US, Europe and Asia to help fund their activities in the region. They captured al-Asaad and tortured him for a month, before finally beheading him yesterday and leaving his mutilated body hanging from a post.
Khaled al-Asaad never revealed the hiding place of the treasures that he was holding in trust for future generations.
As an artist fascinated by history, places like Palmyra resonate for me on many levels; I can’t help but see its survival into my lifetime as a bridge reaching across two thousand years, connecting me with the Romans who built the city and created many of its treasures. People like me depend on people like al-Asaad to protect that bridge.
I’m not one of those people who believes that all victims are automatically heroes, but I think Khaled al-Asaad deserves to be called a hero.
I was poking around among the bookshelves a day or so ago, looking for something to entertain me as the first cool weather of the season settles in, when I spotted my rather tattered Penguin Classics copy of the Histories of Herodotus.
In my younger days, my father often expressed concern that I was becoming prey to a languid intellectualism that he feared would leave me ill-equipped for life in the Real World in the unlikely event that I should ever shamble into it. In retrospect, he was probably correct: fortunately, he had a plan to address the problem.
Jobs. Lots of jobs.
No job was too small, too filthy, or too ill-suited to my temperament (which was, admittedly, opposed to work in almost any form) as long as it paid. From the moment I was old enough to get a work permit, Dad was unsparing in his efforts to get the most out of the twenty-dollar fee. Loading hay, working on a garbage truck, cleaning offices, flipping burgers: I was a busy boy.
Today I’m doing something a little different, in recognition of Memorial Day: I’m inviting a guest to speak to my readers. My mother was a child living at Hickam Field on the Hawaiian island of Oahu when it was bombed by Japanese planes on December 7, 1941. Needless to say, she remembers the occasion well, and has offered to write about it here. I’ve added a few sidebar notes for historical context, and edited very slightly for length, but otherwise, these are her own words. Enjoy!
Last weekend a friend of mine referred to Rick Santorum in conversation as a Philistine , meaning someone — well, someone like Rick Santorum. I didn’t say anything at the time, (which is unusual for me, I know) but I feel that it’s important to set the record straight: Rick Santorum is nothing like a Philistine.
There’s something jarring about looking around on a beautiful Spring day and seeing teenagers roaming the sunlit streets in Goth gear. Even after all this time, the black clothes, eyeliner, and prison-white skin all seem better suited to overcast skies and dim, windowless indoor spaces than balmy breezes and tulips. I have no particular issue with the look — I was in high school in the 1970’s, so I have much to answer for myself, as far as teen fashion goes — but I wonder if many of these kids realize where the whole thing started.