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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Hell Is An Understatement

Report from the “bloody, crumbling” Central African Republic, where Christians and Muslims are at war. The danger is “unequaled anywhere in present-day Africa”. Street lynchings “are so common that they cease to be news”. In the capital, Bangui, the Red Cross operates “an on-demand sanitation service that, within an hour of being called, will show up to collect human bodies, whether chopped up or left intact” (6,070 words)

All Bets Are Off

Sad story of Intrade, bookmaker which diversified from sports betting into prediction markets, trading futures contracts based on world events: “If the event occurred (Argo to win Best Picture), the contract was worth $10. If it didn’t (Mitt Romney to win the presidency), the contract was worth nothing”. But Intrade didn’t have much luck predicting its own future: the CEO died on Everest in 2011 and the company collapsed a year later (5,500 words)

Sam Harris On Martial Arts And Atheism

Interview. The advocate of atheism is also an expert on self-defence — martial arts, knife-fighting, guns — and happy to share some tips: “A knife attack is always a disaster for an unarmed person. A person who is seriously intent upon killing you with a knife is not going to attack in the way you’ve learned to expect from martial-arts class. Getting cut with a knife of any size is physiologically horrible in a way that few people realize” (2,889 words)

Outrageous Freedom

Gay rights in Uganda. “A broad societal revulsion toward homosexuality has erupted into frank attempts to identify, persecute, and ultimately execute gays.” But gays push back, seize initiative, switch roles. Struggle not over yet

How A Salafi Preacher Came For My Soul

“They repel other conservative Muslims, who don’t like being told how wrong and doomed they are. As a result, Salafis spend a lot of time wooing outsiders. A non-religious, non-Muslim journalist like me would be a major prize”

Trouble In Timbuktu

Portrait of African city taken lately by Tuareg rebels. Wreathed in fantasy and romance. Grew rich on the salt trade. “One could think of Timbuktu as the farthest inland port city in the world, and of the Sahara as its ocean”

Running The Asylum

At a clinic in Peshawar. “Today is a good day for Raja. His eyes bug out, and his lips are pulled back in a huge grin that reveals teeth the color of brown sugar, looking so rotten that a swig of water might wash them away entirely”

Temporary Autonomous Zone

Letter from Kurdistan. Seven years after the American invasion, Iraqi Kurds no longer fear attacks from Arab south, nor war with Turkey. Peace and prosperity has made region attractive to Arabs, Turks, foreign investors

Masque Of Africa

Marvellously warm and wise review of Naipaul’s book on Africa—in which Africa, as it were, gets off lightly. “It’s like finding out that the elderly Ezra Pound wrote an epic poem about Jewish bankers”

Camel-Milk Chocolate

It screams and it stinks. Is there anything to be said for the camel? Well, in Dubai they make a “pungent” chocolate from its milk

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