Sunday reading

July 29, 2007 § 2 Comments

I encourage all of you to read this excellent article about the resurgence of ice as a valuable commodity in Iraq.  It is a sensitive account of the country’s slide from prosperity into poverty, told as an historical tale about a wholly unremarkable substance.

If you read the article through to the end, you will notice an italicized footnote crediting the five Iraqi journalists who contributed reporting to the piece.  Then you will see one more line, standing separately and unadorned: “Mr. Hassan was killed July 13.”

And then you will think about how little it takes to completely destroy a civilization.

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§ 2 Responses to Sunday reading

  • When I lived in Jos (Nigeria), we didn’t always have electricity and when we did it wasn’t reliable. It wasn’t a big deal. Milk was powdered. (You could also buy fermented milk from the bowls pastoral women carried in on their heads every day). Vegetables were bought fresh daily. Meat could be preserved by cutting it into chunks, boiling it, then drying it by deep-frying it in palm oil. Bottled drinks could be kept cool by storing them in the shade under damp leaves or a damp towel.

    The fuss over ice in Iraq feels exaggerated to me, but I think I know why.

    Mean highs in Jos, Nigeria range from 24 in July and August (the peak of the rainy season) to 30 in March and April (the hot season). Similarly, mean lows range from 13 to 18.

    Mean highs in Baghdad, Iraq range from 14 to 42. Mean lows range from 3 to 24. The fuss over ice isn’t exaggerated: the climate is.

  • Vila H. says:

    The five-day forecast for Baghdad.

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