Sunday, May 31, 2009

Superhighway? This is the Autobahn.


My biggest news of the week is unfortunately once again related to my solitary pastimes and not to all the great work I’m doing. (Though I did start teaching at the nedi neswi this week and so have a brand new group of women I’m completely smitten with; and I did manage to secure new housing and make arrangements to move next week; and I have collected 40 percent of the paperwork I need to bring to the Ministry of Youth and Sports this week so my five scholarship kids can go to summer camp.)

My dear friend Anny introduced me to my new best friend this week. I am calling her Bouchra, which is Darija for “woman who brings good news.” She comes in a sleek, elegant package, and she’s fast. Oh, she’s fast. If she were a woman in Morocco, she’d be hshuma bzzf.

But she’s not a woman. She’s my beautiful new Internet modem. She connects directly to my Mac. No more extra software. No more 20-minute waits while a page loads. No more crashes. No more individually downloading every podcast. ITunes works. Facebook works. And, if I can sell the old modem for half price, I’ll cover most of the cost of my splurge.

So you can imagine my past 24 hours. I’ve barely risen from the ponj in my innerwebs stupor.

In my resulting obsessive speed-surfing, today alone I have found the following:

* Nicholas Kristof’s Sunday column of international “travel tips.”  Most of his advice is just practical suggestions for navigating any crowded tourist area, whether it’s a developing country or not. The comments on his related blog post take him to task for being overly titillating, implying foreign countries are all dangerous war zones and you’d be crazy to travel without a helmet and flack jacket. I don’t agree. But the blog also mentions an inaccuracy involving Morocco, and my reply got onto his comments page. Shades of Steve Martin in “The Jerk” – I’m somebody now!

* An article on upcoming local elections across Morocco that mentions an increased quota – 12 percent – for female officeholders. I hope to read more about women politicians in coming weeks.

* A Facebook group called Stop Sexual Harassment in Morocco. Harassment by men can seem overwhelming and never-ending here; it’s important to remember that it’s perpetuated by a tiny minority of very vocal young men. Contrary to the common stereotype of developing countries being backward and “not knowing any better” than societies in the west, plenty of Moroccan women and men know that harassment is wrong, and I’m so proud to see active efforts to denounce it. Most of it’s in French and Arabic, but if you’re on FB, join the group and add to the numbers!

* The sad news of the murder of Dr. George Tiller. (I’m not a journalist anymore, so I can call this what it is and not clean it up with “homicide.”) I met Dr. Tiller once, briefly, at a fundraiser. His patient, quiet demeanor spoke to a persisent dedication to helping women facing the most painful decision they’ll ever make, for reasons outsiders can never fully understand. He bravely continued to help women in the face of threatened and actual violence – a previous shooting, never-ending protests surrounding his home and clinic, and a series of attempts to co-opt the legal system to prevent him from providing a legal medical service. My heart goes out to his family, his coworkers, and everyone who stands up against the hypocrites.

Quotes of the day:

“A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” — William Shedd

“If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.” — E. Joseph Cossman

“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” — Unknown

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My dad covered Dr. Tiller for a long time, including most of the "Summer of Mercy" bullshit, and I could tell that my dad was sad when I told him about the murder yesterday.

It's too bad that people portrayed him as a place where women could stop if they were in labor and were having second thoughts. Late term abortion isn't designed as birth is a measure to save the mother if the pregnancy is threatening her life. Before I moved to the newspaper where we worked together, I was living in Missouri, and there was a ballot measure that banned late term abortion, which the measure's proponents called, well, you know what term they use. But nobody mentioned that no late term abortions had been performed in the state in years.

I was at my parents' house last night and was talking to my mom about the murder, and we were talking about the potential for backlash. "This is going to make people like me write a check to Planned Parenthood tonight," my mom said.

You know who I am. Glad to see you're online more!