On Driving in Beirut

In reading Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem comes an unlikely homage to my friend Scott Huler, who proclaims his love affair with lyrical brevity. Every taxi driver in Beirut, Friedman observes, knows the radio lexicon that developed during the Lebanese civil war: “a road described as amina is totally secured by army or police; a road described as salika is free of snipers or kidnappers, but not policed; hatherah means the road is passable, but with a roughly 30 percent chance of kidnapping or sniping; and finally, ghair amina means the road is unsafe at any speed.”

If only the State Department provided such practical information for travelers.