Saturday, December 16, 2017

Der Ezor, Syria

When Raqqa (made ISIS capital in 2014) fell in October, Islamic State's locus of power shifted to Der Ezor, another city on the Euphrates. In early November, however, ISIS forces were routed from Der Ezor. Lest you think Syria is returning to normal, remember that Der Ezor is back in the hands of the government, but Raqqa is now under Kurdish control. [1993]

Friday, December 15, 2017

Riga, Latvia

Every year, about this time, the Library of Congress adds another 25 films to the National Film Registry. It includes the most culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant films of all time. Guess what 1997 film, popular all over the world, was just added to the list. [2003]

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Marrakech, Morocco

Think ancient history is irrelevant? Tell that to these girls on Jma El Fina in Marrakech. They just got their hands adorned with henna, continuing an artform that goes back to the Bronze Age. Henna is a dye made from the leaves of the henna shrub. [2017]

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Why do we turn fountains off in the winter? They should use sleet as their inspiration. Keep the water above freezing while in the ducts, spray it high into the air, and let the droplets freeze on the way down. The sound effects might be just as cool as the visuals. [2011]

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Battambang, Cambodia

It seems like cockles are for sale in every Cambodian market. They may be turned into street food (sometimes raw) or a meal. Can you see why these bivalves, found and farmed throughout coastal Asia, are called blood cockles? In fact, they do contain a hemoglobin liquid. But, alas, they are not true cockles (like they have in Europe). [2016]

Monday, December 11, 2017

Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

A yarn bomb (and many more like it) has been dropped on Edinburgh: "Leith says No to Trams". An Edinburgh tram line extension to Leith has long been on the agenda, but apparently some in Leith oppose the idea. Do you think opponents are the come-here gentry or the born-here locals? [2017]

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ironton, Ohio, USA

In Methodist Churches all across the land, advent wreaths will be a central part of worship today as thousands of congregants utter these words: "On this second Sunday of Advent, we light this candle to remind us that the God of Creation calls us home to love all that we meet." [2017]