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For a few weeks in July news coverage of the (Syrian) refugee question seemed to disappear. Trumped by American politics. One might have wondered whether it was still an issue at all were it not for occasional tweets like the following:

Intelligent and involving. “Your phone is now a refugee’s phone.” Watch this on your mobile if you can. https://t.co/WlRSOaC02NSimonNRicketts on Twitter: 1

Or Politiken’s dark Sommerferie comic on the backpage – the section of the newspaper that could once be referred to, as Suzanne Vega did in Tom’s Diner, as “the funnies.”

With the viral picture of Omran Daqneesh and stories of Australian camps, it’s all in the forefront again.


  1. That impressive short film is part of a BBC Voices of Refugees research report. 

101 Words – 069

Today’s note is being written somewhere high over Africa on a flight to Johannesburg. Technically already the next calendar day, but psychologically still the same one that began with a flight to London and a transfer so that our little family can join the South African part of our big family.

Dreamt last night that I was caught up in a crowd of refugees being stopped by German police. I could fortunately step over to an official and show them my passport which guaranteed my freedom to move on. They had a few questions about my name, but that was it.

101 Words – 039

Thinking over responses to the refugee crisis during the last weeks I’m struck by what seems to be a discrepancy between positive will on the part of many individuals and reluctance on the part of politicians. Encouraging to see personal follow-up on media coverage.

Revisiting the fourth of the Cage/Feldman Radio Happenings and their discussion of the, at the time, pressing issue of the Vietnam war: Cage offers that he would like to see a composing action rather than a critical one, i.e. applying oneself to a solution.

On Aeon a poetic response to the stories of refugee children.

101 Words – 031

Yesterday Unyazi, today some gems from the Lightning Notes interview with Paul Ford.

Is there a widely accepted convention we should stop accepting?
That you’ve failed somehow.

On a personal level I couldn’t agree more. Yet as societies there’s so much we seem to be failing at miserably – the Syrian refugee crisis for example. How are those aspects entangled?

Also, thinking back on some considerations made when starting this series:

All human effort is worth preserving if possible. That is one of the great things about living now is we can see more of what makes humans humans than ever before.

101 Words – 029

Exhausted, too tired to think, what comes to mind are the news highlights from the last few days: The refugee crisis overshadowing everything else, turning the rest of my Twitter timeline into trivia. Amongst all that the new Google logo is probably the most discussed topic. And amongst all that Matthew Butterick’s take on bright colours cloaking dubious business practices stands out from the offered improvements to kerning and proportions, fascinating as they are.

Europe feeling the pain. Learning. What’s important?

I’d like to use the last words of this note on something constructive, but that’ll have to wait for tomorrow.

101 Words – 028

An increasing stream in my timeline. 1800 refugees arriving via ferry in Piraeus. Or were they migrants? Immigrants? (I arrived there once via ferry too.) A story about how Denmark in 1956 sent a train to Vienna to offer 1000 Hungarians asylum. The heartbreaking picture of the little Syrian boy. Today, on seeing another photograph of him being carried away, I broke down. Having recently become a parent myself brought the reality of that picture into my body – too close to holding my daughter. Empathy? Politics. But hope too: people gathering at the stations in Munich and Vienna to welcome refugees.