The dustup between Paul Paul Kéré and Rémi Dandjinou over the Burkinabè army’s preparedness

Totally relevant for those who call for former President Compaoré’s return to “help” deal with the insurgency. From the comments section:

Cher Maître,Vous n’allez pas vous faire oublier un peu?Qu’est ce que le ministre a dit qui ne soit pas vrai? 1-Nous savons tous que les mutineries de 2011 ont achevé le désarmement de notre armée avec les armes qui ont été ramassées et confiées au RSP. 2- Nous savons aussi que c’est avec le courage seulement munis de quelques armes, parfois sans carburant que nos boys sont venus faire échouer un coup d’état ici. 3- Nous savons que la puissance de feu de notre pays était juste derrière Kosyam et que les super-militaires étaient là bas. 4- Nous savons aussi que là bas le grade ne comptait pas et que la discipline militaire était foulée au pied.Ce qui est plus grave : 5- Pendant des années le Boss que tu défends à affaiblie nos garnisons soit par des déménagements soit par le non renouvellement du matériel. 6- Alors que les hordes de bandits deferlaient sur le Mali ton Boss au lieu de prendre les mesures pour protéger nos frontières a vu en cela une mine d’or. Il accueille les réfugiés du Mali, deal avec les terroristes qui endeuillé nos frères Maliens, encaissé les commissions sur les libérations d’otages. Quel « VISIONNAIRE » fut-il?

Source: « L’armée burkinabé est une armée qui a été désarmée en 2009 pour permettre au régime de s’asseoir »: Me Paul Paul Kéré répond  au ministre Rémi Dandjinou  |

Posted in Politics

Great reporting by Abdel Aziz Nabaloum about lack of public services in village of Koumna in Loroum #Burkina #lwili

Situé dans la commune de Ouindigui dans la province du Lorum, Koumna est un village enclavé. Cerné dans ses limites géographiques par les eaux, cette localité connaît un problème d’accès aux infrastructures sociales de base, à l’eau et à l’assainissement. Un véritable calvaire pour les 6 043 âmes qui y vivent…Ouahigouya-Koumna, 39 kilomètres à parcourir, en passant par le village de Rambo. La route en terre battue est impraticable. La pluie de la veille, 1er septembre, a fortement arrosé les terres du Yatenga. Embourbé, le camion d’une société de cimenterie obstrue le passage. Il faut user de tact pour se frayer un chemin. Rambo-Koumna. Plus de tracé de voie. Il faut désormais se «débattre» comme un beau diable dans la broussaille pour parcourir les 5 Km qui sépare les deux localités.

Source: Village de Koumna dans le Nord : L’île des oubliés | Quotidien Sidwaya

Posted in Economy

What did Mulvaney actually say?

So the context of the rather raucous press conference was that Mulvaney wanted to say that the overall reason for aid holdup was corruption in Ukraine and Europeans not contributing. Rather lame of course because all that should have been happening before Congress approved the air. But maybe it is a brinksmanship game, and Mulvaney was making that point. But he committed an unforced error. From the White House transcript:

Q But to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is: Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happens as well.

MR. MULVANEY: We do that all the time with foreign policy. We were holding money at the same time for — what was it? The Northern Triangle countries. We were holding up aid at the Northern Triangle countries so that they would change their policies on immigration.

So he clearly agreed (previous sentences make clear this was no misunderstanding, or misspeaking) that an investigation into the Democratic server was one of the conditions for letting the military aid flow. So without some link from corruption in Ukraine to the Democratic server (which to my knowledge there is none… nor even any link of server to Ukraine) then Mulvaney indeed flubbed it.

Posted in United States

Looking forward to reading some new Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

If you saw my comments in Mookse on the story by Joyce Carol Oates, then you can easily tell why I happened to google Bynum during a break.

Chinese American writer Sarah Shun-lien Bynum is causing waves across the Atlantic with an auction and six-figure deal for two books with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, as buzz around a UK deal begins.The short story collection and novel were bought at auction by Jenna Johnson, executive editor at FSG, from Bill Clegg at The Clegg agency for North American rights. FSG will publish the story collection, Likes, in winter 2021 and the novel in winter 2023. It was understood to be a be a high six-figure advance … FSG described Likes as “a short story collection exploring friendship and motherhood, celebrity and obsession, love and loneliness, which weaves in elements of contemporary life – including social media, fairy tale, and myth”.

Source: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum signs six-figure two-book deal with FSG | The Bookseller

Posted in Burkina Faso

“Novels are machines for falsely generating belief”… essay on fiction, by Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books

Great essay on writing (and reading) fiction by Zadie Smith.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

I’m sure I’m not the first novelist to dig up that old Whitman chestnut in defense of our indefensible art. And it would be easy enough at this point to march onward and write a triumphalist defense of fiction, ridiculing those who hold the very practice in suspicion—the type of reader who wonders how a man wrote Anna Karenina, or why Zora Neale Hurston once wrote a book with no black people in it, or why a gay woman like Patricia Highsmith spent so much time imagining herself into the life of an (ostensibly) straight white man called Ripley. But I don’t write fiction in a triumphalist spirit and I can’t defend it in that way either. Besides which, a counter-voice in my head detects, in Whitman’s lines, not a little entitlement. Containing multitudes sounds, just now, like an act of colonization. Who is this Whitman, and who does he think he is, containing anyone? Let Whitman speak for Whitman—I’ll speak for myself, thank you very much. How can Whitman—white, gay, American—possibly contain, say, a black polysexual British girl or a nonbinary Palestinian or a Republican Baptist from Atlanta?

Source: Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction | by Zadie Smith | The New York Review of Books

HT: Bill Sundstrom

Posted in Reading

The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

3687My neighborhood book group read this and we had a fun discussion. This is a great novel. Sure some parts are no longer politically correct, but you have to read past that. Chandler’s writing is so literary: crafted, thoughtful, evocative. Practically every page the modern reader is impressed by his sentences, vocabulary, metaphors, and style. And the plot is convoluted enough that you are impelled to go back to certain sections and read them again, and get a wonderful feeling of satisfaction as you see pieces link together. And it’s LA….

Posted in Book and film reviews

Fiasco, by Thomas Ricks

indexFrom 2006. Not the best-written book. Lots of vignettes, often little narrative flow. He drops characters that he should be coming back to: Cheney is never mentioned after page 100 for example. I don’t think any Iraqi leaders other than Chalabi and Moqtada al-Sadr are mentioned, and even then only tangentially. But if you want to be convinced that the whole invasion and occupation was a fiasco, and the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz were responsible, this is a great introduction and heard to beat. I was convinced. Usually I am pretty skeptical. I remember my parents had The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Shirer (they kept it out of sight, in the garage… imagine!), and that kind of a book about the Iraq invasion would be worth reading.

Posted in Book and film reviews

Adam and Allison Grant rewrite children’s books and much fiction: “Noble deed doers, you should first lecture the victims and help them help themselves more otherwise you are an enabler…”

OK I’m making fun a little, but their essay on The Giving Tree just rubs me the wrong way. Instead of marveling at the moral ambiguity of the book, the impulse is to “fix” it by explaining to you child what the right “lesson” is. Assume your child will take away the “wrong” lesson, too.

But my book club just finished reading and discussing The Big Sleep, and I guess I do not think the novel would have been very good if Marlowe had taken a few days off after telling Vivian, “Eddie Mars and his crew play too rough: I think I’m risking too much of my self for values I am not sure I can articulate, I need some me time and I’ll get back to you later…”

Posted in Burkina Faso

Great article in The New York Times about rural America and public services

I watched the fight unfold with a sense of sadness, anger and frustration. I started arguing. It didn’t work. The pay request was pulled from the Quorum Court’s agenda.I didn’t realize it at first, but the fight over the library was rolled up into a bigger one about the library building, and an even bigger fight than that, about the county government, what it should pay for, and how and whether people should be taxed at all. The library fight was, itself, a fight over the future of rural America, what it meant to choose to live in a county like mine, what my neighbors were willing to do for one another, what they were willing to sacrifice to foster a sense of community here.The answer was, for the most part, not very much.

Posted in Burkina Faso

Trivia from movie version of The Big Sleep

bsconladyFrom a great blog post on the film The Big Sleep:

Agnes Lowzier, the saleslady at Geiger’s bookstore and Joe Brody’s accomplice, played by Sonia Darrin. Although her face is very familiar it’s difficult to find information on her. She’s appeared in only seven films, all but one of which were uncredited. It’s odd she was uncredited in The Big Sleep because she had as much screen time and dialog as Carmen.

Mystery Solved!

In 2016 Ms. Alice Griffin very kindly contacted me to provide a link to an article with an interview with Sonia Darrin explaining why she didn’t receive screen credits. After filming but before the first release, Ms. Darrin’s agent got into a violent argument with studio head Jack Warner. As a consequence, Mr. Warner declared he would never hire anyone connected with the agent and had Ms. Darrin’s name stricken from the screen credits. He might have gone as far as cutting her from the movie altogether, but her scenes were too important to do so. Ms. Darrin’s career never took off after that and she moved to New York, where she was successful as a top model. I’d like to express my profound appreciation to Alice Griffin for resolving this mystery. (Thanks, Alice!)

Posted in Book and film reviews

UEMOA : La masse salariale du Burkina a dépassé la norme –

Burkina on a public employee spending spress?

Selon la commission chargée des politiques économiques et de la fiscalité intérieure de l’Uemoa, la masse salariale du Burkina présente un taux de 48%, dépassant ainsi la norme Uemoa qui est de 35 %. L’annonce a été faite lundi à Ouagadougou au cours d’une conférence de presse de cette commission qui a présenté le rapport de la surveillance multilatérale de l’espace Uemoa.« Les Etats ont beaucoup de charges, et donc si dans un Etat on consacre l’ensemble des ressources pour la rémunération des salaires, il n’y aura plus assez de ressources pour les investissements et donc l’idéal est de ne pas dépasser 35%. », a indiqué Félicien Arigdo directeur de la surveillance macro-économique de l’UEMOA.

Source: UEMOA : La masse salariale du Burkina a dépassé la norme –

Posted in Economy

Looking forward to Yo la Tengo in SF on Tuesday!

Posted in Book and film reviews

Naomi Novik, Spinning Silver

I wanted some light reading after my trip to Burkina Faso, and Leslie had checked this fantasy novel out of the library. I enjoyed the good writing, and the deep character development. But the mixing of realistic shtetl Jews in a fantasy novel just bugged me throughout. Seemed like she needed to invent a comparable imaginary group like the European Jews. Not actually have the exact same culture in a fantasy novel! Still, what do I know? Reviewers from Vox and New York Times really liked the novel.

Posted in Book and film reviews

Three movies on Air France: Sibel, Yoomeddine, and EXT. Night.

I like flying on Air France because i get to see a lot of the Cannes film entries, and a huge selection of global movies. This recent trip three quite decent movies are worth watching if you have access.

Sibel is from Çagla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti, and inevitably can be compared to Mustangs (about daughters growing up in village Turkey). The cinematography is gorgeous, the plot interesting. This review from Variety is spot-on. Not a perfect film, and some glaring issues, but still very interesting to watch.

Variety says about Yomeddine: “A lovingly-made, character-driven road movie that occasionally dips into sentimentality yet has moments that honestly play on the heartstrings.” And if you have ever traveled in Egypt, even better. This is a movie to watch with your intelligent, inquisitive 10 year-old. They will remember it for life if you take the time.

Another Egyptian movie, Egyptian Ahmad Abdalla’s picture, EXT. Night, was fascinating. Again, some plot issues, but really goes on a nice tour of night-time Cairo.


Posted in Book and film reviews

The Girls of Slender Means, by Muriel Spark

If you are looking for a short novel to read, The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark is one of the best novels I have read in a decade. Within five pages you start admiring Spark’s writing, and as you get deeper into the novel you increasingly realize how amazing she is. She captures intense settings and actions with a few crafty sentences. Everything is in your mind.

Virgilia Patterson in The New York Times wrote, in 1963 when the book appeared: “Admirers of Miss Spark’s last and brilliant little tale, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” may find “The Girls of Slender Means” more oblique and ambiguous. The abrupt shifts in time are less easy to follow, and the verses she quotes with such poignant effect may not seem relevant to those who do not remember the context of the poems she quotes from (as, for instance, “Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” in which one nun goes to her death unafraid). Furthermore, the book’s end may appear arbitrarily drastic to those who do not have a religious view of fate. But those who seek new dimensions in their reading will find this to be Miss Spark’s most interesting piece of work. “

Posted in Book and film reviews

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

220px-OPioneersOur neighborhood book group decided not to read this for next time, but I was intrigued by the “pitch” and so got it from the library. It is a good, solid, novel: not much to talk about in terms of literary style unless you are really into the poetry of the prairie, which is not my thing. But the portrait of small-town Nebraska in the 1800s, with the Swedish and Bohemian and French immigrants, and the struggle to establish a prosperous farm, and the sociology of being a semi-independent woman, is quite interesting. Cather is most interesting with her matter of fact descriptions of daily routines or special events, like the fairs.  The story arc is rather melodramatic.

I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in American history. And by the way, some of them read a lot of books in their spare time. O Readers!

Posted in Book and film reviews

The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes

shining-girlsThe Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes is a time-travel serial murder novel. So, I love most time-travel novels. I am not a fan of serial murder novels. About halfway through I started skimming: I am almost never interested in how bone-knife-artery-floor interactions work, no matter how literary. The “ordinary life” American history recounted through the time travel device was well-done, but someone like me might often just prefer to read primary sources or work by historians. So, altogether, well-written, but not my genre.

HT: Carmen McCain for recommending

Posted in Book and film reviews

My Mortal Enemy, by Willa Cather

cat.cs005.025My Mortal Enemy, by Willa Cather, is a short novel first published in 1926. Pretty bitter. An unforgettable protagonist, who cuts through platitudes, is complex and a bit unfathomable even to a perceptive narrator. The writing is excellent. Here is an excellent article by Charles Johanningsmeier about who might have been the inspiration for the novel, which apparently is a bit perplexing for Cather scholars.

What prompted Cather to write about the McClures in early 1925, though, was learning about McClure’s pathetic position during her 1924 meeting with him. Possessing detailed knowledge both of the McClures’ courtship and their current situation, Cather commenced her novel about the lies, contradictions, and disappointments involved in such a seemingly passionate love affair, and the disillusionment of one who wants so very much to believe in it. The numerous parallels between the stories of the Henshawes and the McClures make identification of these persons as Cather’s models unmistakable; furthermore, the evolution of Nellie’s relationship with the Henshawes is closely mirrored by Cather’s relationship with the McClures, and with S. S. McClure in particular.

More is in the article. Fascinating!


Posted in Book and film reviews

Recent reading: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Our neighborhood book group read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and I loved it! Oddly, as I was reading it I had the distinct feeling I had already read it, but I could not remember anything. Thinking a lot about this short book really paid off: as you browse it for nuance, you find it on practically every page. Little details that you passed by in the first reading, you suddenly realize are quite important. It is intense and compact, and a wonderful study in ambiguity. From the perspective of the book group discussion, let me say it is a “Yes” to the following question: “Is there a short novel that good readers can spend more than an hour trying to dissect what actually is happening?” The narrator is unreliable, and tells you that right away. And he is very unlikable, but he is telling such an interesting story. And he is really very perceptive, at least in his self-serving understanding of those around him.

Posted in Book and film reviews

Recent reading: He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope

He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope proved to be a fine summer novel. Like most of Trollope, it is long.  So 20-30 pages a day means it takes a month to finish. But the reading is quite rewarding. Keen insights into the situation of a certain class of women, who have occupied the popular imaginary for more than a century: the constrained, corseted, almost imprisoned Victorian young women, whose entire social identity depends on the men in their social orbit. Trollope here concentrates almost entirely on the women’s point of view. Gripping!

Posted in Book and film reviews