Friday, February 11, 2005

The News this Week and More New York

Some big news this week that I neglected to write about earlier:
  • Israelis and Palestinians declared a ceasefire.
  • North Korea declared that it has nuclear weapons.

    Today my editing teacher gave us a quiz on the location of all the countries in Africa. I don't remember ever studying Africa's geography, so preparing for this quiz made me realize how little I know about the continent. I've heard references to many of these countries in the news--Somalia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, among others--but never knew where they were located. Then there were the countries I knew absolutely nothing about--Gambia, Mauritania, etc.--though I was familiar with their names. Then there were the countries I never even knew existed, like Cabinda and Western Sahara. In this country at least, I think there is a tendency to lump all the countries in Africa into one entity, like, oh, that person's from Africa though it'd sound vague if you said, oh, that person's from Europe. After studying for this quiz, I think I have more of an appreciation for the cultural and ethnic differences that must exist between all these different African countries.

    I don't know why E.B. White wasn't introduced to me earlier. I don't recall ever having to read any of his essays; I'd always thought he was just a children's book writer. Jeff let me borrow the Essays of E.B. White, and so far I've read "Death of a Pig," "Coon Tree," "A Report in January," "The Geese," and "Here Is New York." I love his writing style and voice. He's got this way of wryly pointing things out and he makes these connections I'd never thought of before. I can particularly appreciate "Here Is New York," as I live in the city. I really like his use of this one extended metaphor (I think, it's been awhile since I've studied English):

    When I went down to lunch a few minutes ago I noticed that the man sitting next to me (about eighteen inches away along the wall) was Fred Stone. The eighteen inches were both the connection and the separation that New York provides for its inhabitants. ... The governor came to town. I heard the siren scream, but that was all there was to that--an eighteen-inch margin again. A man was killed by a falling cornice. I was not a party to the tragedy, and again the inches counted heavily. ... The quality in New York that insulates its inhabitants from life may simply weaken them as individuals. Perhaps it is healthier to live in a community where, when a cornice falls, you feel the blow; where, when the governor passes, you see at any rate his hat.

    I've often wondered myself whether or not it'd be better elsewhere.

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