Wednesday, December 31, 2008

MAKE IT HAPPY !

: the new year, the one about to begin, 2009 -
a new president for the US who at least understands what justice and human rights mean
20 years of free passage from east to west and west to east in Berlin and all of Germany
in only a few days, the new novel by Ph.Sollers, Voyageurs du Temps
13 years with my beloved Detti
such enthusiasm for reading and writing as never before
the sunshine and the intense winter-blue sky outside this very window

YES, there is plenty of cause to be HAPPY !
So, happy new year to everyone.
Bonne année nouvelle!
Frohes Neujahr.

Consider and be, consider being, be considerate, be the custodian of Being, HAPPILY !

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happiness Is Free

Happiness
Glück
bonheur
felicità
è / est / ist / is
only for the few who can enjoy what is free.
nur für die wenigen, die das Billige genießen können.
seulement pour les rares qui peuvent jouir sans payer.
per la minorità della gioia senza denari.

Le bonheur selon dante - Eden caché - Philippe Sollers

En réalité, personne ne veut du paradis parce qu'il est gratuit. La joie, le bonheur, l'amour sont gratuits. Un amour qui n'est pas gratuit n'est pas de l'amour. C'est la raison pour laquelle le bonheur réel ne peut être que farouchement clandestin dans un monde livré au calcul. Dante, dans sa jeunesse, a commencé par un coup de foudre, il termine sa «Comédie» par une fulguration illuminante. Maintenant, si la proposition «L'amour meut le soleil et les autres étoiles» vous est indifférente, ou si vous préférez, à ce sujet, hausser les épaules ou ricaner, libre à vous. Ce n'est ici que la réaction d'un petit fini qui a peur de l'infini. Le bonheur fait peur, il est très lourd à porter et à vivre. Il passe même pour une imbécillité, alors qu'il est la raison et l'intelligence mêmes. Comme l'a dit un excellent auteur, en renversant une proposition courante : «Pour vivre cachés, vivons heureux». Le bonheur rend invisible. C'est la grâce qu'il faut se souhaiter.

- Philippe Sollers
Le Nouvel Observateur - Nº2303 SEMAINE DU JEUDI 23 Décembre 2008

Dante's interpretation of JOY as Sollers once again patiently explains it. Above only the last few lines of an exquisite essay.
Consider, and BE happily, happy !

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pope Pompously Puffing - But Humans Can Think !

Maledictus proves had evil sounds pouring from the mouth of a robed pontifex, attacking gays as destructive of creation and the work of a god. (Were that the case, then fundamentalists would have no chance. Unfortunately, many of them are still on the road to a theocracy in a hell-car.)

Pour le Pape, l'homosexualité est coupable de détruire l'oeuvre de Dieu
-Prochoix, la revue pour le droit de choisir, dirigée par Caroline Fourest et Fiammetta Venner

Benoît XVI n'est pas prêt de renoncer à son rôle de pape ultra-conservateur puisqu'il a de nouveau attaqué l'homosexualité lors de son traditionnel discours de Noël. Benoît XVI y a expliqué que l'homme doit «se protéger lui-même contre sa propre destruction» citant à cet effet l'homosexualité :
«Tout ce que l'on désigne communément par le terme d'émancipation de l'identité de genre, se traduit en définitive par l'émancipation par l'homme de la création et de son
créateur». Le Pape a donc accusé l'homme d'être coupable de vouloir «se faire seul et disposer seul de ce qui le concerne». S'appuyant comme à l'accoutumée sur les dogmes pour pilonner le rationalisme, le pape a conclu qu'en agissant ainsi l'homme «vit contre la vérité et contre son créateur».
Les propos de Benoît XVI ont soulevé un tollé auprès des chrétiens chez qui le pape ne fait guère l'unanimité.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Over, Year Fading, Thinkers Die ...

And the kids had fun with their uncles again yesterday at their grandma's, so much fun that we got no photos of that (no hands free) only of the aftermath once all were gone and things were quieting down again.

And the year is fading and a great man has died, a great writer of the English language for the stage, a ready commentator of the malaise of our age.
HARALD PINTER was a man of brave words and critical judgement. His plays are essential to thinking the condition of man. His Nobel Prize Speech blasted the bushbaby playpen with all the appropriate epithets. At least Mr. Pinter lived long enough to see that the US was ready to reject the playpen and make a go with change. It would, however, have been good to have his critical voice still to accompany critically whatever path Obama will walk.
Thank you, Mr. Pinter, for enriching our world! You were a Christmas present for so many of us for so long!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Kids at Christmas

Yesterday at Heiko & Steffi's, the kids got a pack of toys etc. from Santa, who came and left while we were all singing "Jingle Bells"! (Yes, Lea is already learning English in the 1st grade and requested this one herself, had Steffi copy the music and lyrics for everyone.)
Today we're off to Edith's for traditional Christmas dinner at noon. The kids will be there also, which is a good thing, because, yesterday evening as we were leaving, I told Malte, who looked unhappy that everyone was leaving, just to pack his suitcase and come along. Well, as I was putting on my shoes, he disappeared and came back with his little travel case packed full of toy animals, cars, and his new farm tractor, ready to go with us. Only because we promised we would see him today at Edith's, and that he could bring his suitcase with him, as it was already packed, and that his dad, who'd had to go to work the late shift, would be glad to find him there in the morning and then come with him and Steffi and Lea, only then did he smile and agree to wait to see us today.
So, we have to go play and eat some more!



[This slideshow includes the previous holiday photos,
will contain those from today as well,
as soon as we're back and upload them.]

Monday, December 22, 2008

German Holidaily Report

Though today nervous exam candidates performed their best under my monitoring eyes and for my discriminating ears, yesterday saw us doing the family thing at Detlef's dad's with the latter's wife, her son and his girlfriend, Detlef's brother and his wife and their kids, and yours truly.
And so, below are a few choice photos to document the event, the method chosen this year to enable quick information access for all sides of the ocean.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rights !

In a First, Gay Rights Are Pressed at the U.N.
The New York Times, by NEIL MACFARQUHAR, December 18, 2008

UNITED NATIONS — An unprecedented declaration seeking to decriminalize homosexuality won the support of 66 countries in the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, but opponents criticized it as an attempt to legitimize pedophilia and other “deplorable acts.”
The United States refused to support the nonbinding measure, as did Russia, China, the Roman Catholic Church and members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The Holy See’s observer mission issued a statement saying that the declaration “challenges existing human rights norms.”
The declaration, sponsored by France with broad support in Europe and Latin America, condemned human rights violations based on homophobia, saying such measures run counter to the
universal declaration of human rights.
“How can we tolerate the fact that people are stoned, hanged, decapitated and tortured only because of their sexual orientation?” said Rama Yade, the French state secretary for human rights, noting that homosexuality is banned in nearly 80 countries and subject to the death penalty in at least six.

Click on this map to be able to zoom in on information about the stand of gay rights in various countries around the world.

Homosexualité : deux tiers des pays du monde refusent un appel à la dépénalisation universelle
LEMONDE.FR avec AFP 19.12.08

C'est une simple déclaration, mais elle suscite un vent de fronde. Jeudi 18 décembre aux Nations unies, un appel historique à la dépénalisation universelle de l'homosexualité a été lancé par un tiers des pays du monde, sans parvenir à obtenir le soutien de certains poids lourds de l'organisation. Plusieurs Etats arabes, mais également le Vatican, les Etats-Unis, la Russie ou la Chine se sont ainsi opposés au texte présenté devant l'Assemblée générale, dont Rama Yade, secrétaire d'Etat française aux droits de l'homme, est l'une des inspiratrices.
N'engageant que ses signataires, cette "déclaration politique" ne revêt aucun caractère contraignant. Notamment signée par tous les pays de l'Union européenne, le Brésil, Israël et le Japon, elle place la question des droits des homosexuels, lesbiennes, bisexuels et transgenres à l'ordre du jour de l'Assemblée de l'ONU et se fonde sur le principe d'universalité des droits de l'homme, consacré dans la déclaration
universelle de ces droits. Il réaffirme encore "le principe de non-discrimination qui exige que les droits de l'homme s'appliquent de la même manière à chaque être humain, indépendamment de l'orientation sexuelle ou de l'identité de genre".
"En ce XXIe siècle, comment accepter que des personnes soient pourchassées, emprisonnées, torturées et exécutées en raison de leur orientation sexuelle ?", a lancé Rama Yade, après la lecture de l'appel, qualifiant d'"historique" l'initiative des "66".
All countries should finally sign this recognition of rights. The US can show a new direction under Obama and leave the Vatican and other fundamentalist "states" with the mud and muck of hatred on their faces!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Finally Barcelona's in Berlin

And Woody Allen provides an insight into American psyches once more while providing us with true entertainment. (As usual, we were the only ones in the cinema who laughed, but, well, globalization, you know...)

This is the official trailer, cause a movie at Christmas time is always a good idea.

Scheduling the Holidays

  • Today - fitness training already and now free to do whatever
  • Tomorrow - Coffee & cake, then supper with Rosi & Berni (Detlef's dad) and their kids with partners etc. (fourth Advent, semi-traditional)
  • Monday/Tuesday - work days - I'm the examinations board (easy for me)
  • Wednesday - Christmas Eve with Steffi & Heiko (Detlef's brother) and their kids and all the family that pulls in (children's free-for-all)
  • Thursday - Christmas Day #1 (Germany has two) - Holiday lunch/dinner at Edith's with her friend (traditional)
  • Friday - Christmas Day #2 - Time with Berlin friends (uncomplicated)
  • Weekend - rest (and at least by then more fitness training)

Details as they occur.

Attack Back Against Those Who Attack You

Onu, nuovo attacco Vaticano alla Francia "Abbatte la differenza uomo-donna" - esteri - Repubblica.it:

CITTA' DEL VATICANO - Il Vaticano torna a lanciare strali contro la mozione che la Francia ha presentato alle Nazioni Unite contro il perseguimento penale dell'omosessualità in vigore in diversi Paesi del mondo. In realtà, afferma l'Osservatore Romano in una nota intitolata 'Difesa dei diritti e ideologia', l'obiettivo non è quello di tutelare diritti fondamentali ma affermare
l'identità di genere che supera la differenza biologica uomo-donna e stabilisce che gli orientamenti sessuali sono frutto della cultura. Da qui la strada è aperta, per il quotidiano della Santa Sede, al matrimonio fra persone dello stesso sesso e all'adozione dei bambini da parte delle coppie gay così come alla procreazione assistita, tutto in base a un concetto astratto di individuo.

I hope the Vatican is absolutely right about all the implications of the UN declaration against discrimination and repression of gays in all countries! That is precisely the reason to be IN FAVOR of it! Rights to homosexuals everywhere NOW! (The Church has had enough money and enough time, now it's OUR TURN!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fun Videos - One French, One German

Watch this little French literary film! It's absolutely bearable! It's a silent film. You needn't speak French to understand it. It's called "Folding TINA 2".

You could also call it awesome. Es ist toll, super, wunderbÄr! Formidablement authentique!
And then watch the satirical review of the year 2008, German and international, with a cast of stars you will recognize most of wherever you come from.
von zdf
including
Song and dance numbers, bushbaby, Angie, Obama, Stevie Wonder, the German Army in Afghanistan, old bin L the renegade, Kotz-Koch, and tips on how to survive the economic crisis.

Restore the Rule of Law in the U.S. - Justice for All, Torture for None!

It is essential that the playpen be closed and sealed once and for all and its policies dumped into the deep blue sea before they drown what is left of democracy, liberty, and justice in our world!

Editorial - The Torture Report - NYTimes.com

Most Americans have long known that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the work of a few low-ranking sociopaths. All but President Bush’s most unquestioning supporters recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services.
Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.
The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.
It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America’s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.
The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the “war on terror” — the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally
reinterpreted the conventions.
[...]
Mr. Obama should consider proposals from groups like Human Rights Watch and the Brennan Center for Justice to appoint an independent panel to look into these and other egregious violations of the law. Like the 9/11 commission, it would examine in depth the decisions on prisoner treatment, as well as warrantless wiretapping, that eroded the rule of law and violated Americans’ most basic rights. Unless the nation and its leaders know precisely what went wrong in the last seven years, it will be impossible to fix it and make sure those terrible mistakes are not repeated.
We expect Mr. Obama to keep the promise he made over and over in the campaign — to cheering crowds at campaign rallies and in other places, including our office in New York. He said one of his first acts as president would be to order a review of all of Mr. Bush’s executive orders and reverse those that eroded civil liberties and the rule of law.
That job will fall to Eric Holder, a veteran prosecutor who has been chosen as attorney general, and Gregory Craig, a lawyer with extensive national security experience who has been selected as Mr. Obama’s White House counsel.
A good place for them to start would be to reverse Mr. Bush’s disastrous order of Feb. 7, 2002, declaring that the United States was no longer legally committed to comply with the Geneva Conventions.

ACT ACCORDING TO PRINCIPLE - JUSTICE IS NOT A MATTER FOR PLAYPENALERS!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chain-Gang Reasoning for the Playpen !

The Senate Intelligence Committee has reported on Chainy's involvement in torture approval and misleading of the US public and the world after 9/11 and for the Iraq war; the culprit himself remains playpen typically unapologetic, arrogantly maintaining his role of father knows best.
Watch the disturbing interview with ABC from the 15th, which includes the following zinger quote on using "harsh interrogation methods", i.e. torture: “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the [Central Intelligence] Agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do.. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.”
Another reason to feel relieved that the playpen will be closed down forever in a month.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No to a Few ...

NO to sciencelesstology! (You know what bunch of loons in a sect I mean.)
No to Cruising Tom! (You know what grinning front man I mean.)
No to a bad film with a bad premiere to make a bad position of a bad sect with a bad performance by a has-been actor seem like resistance.
No to his new film Valkyrie ! (German title: Operation Walküre)
No to fundamentalists of all sorts. (You know plenty and I mean them all.)
So DON'T go to see SciencelesstOfficerCruise's film! (By now you surely know what I mean, or check the papers, any papers, even the scandal sheets.)
Read instead a book about those few honorable people who plotted to murder the dictator-warmonger of the Third Reich (you know who I mean) and, unfortunately for Germany, themselves, and the world, failed and were executed. Von Stauffenberg was an upright resister, Cruising Tom is a fundamentalist propagandist!

Monday, December 15, 2008

BushBabyShoes

"These shoes are made for walking ...

... and that's just what they'll do. One of these days these shoes are gonna walk all over you."

It will be REALLY nice when the playpen is finally closed and the world can get serious again!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Being Gay Is A Human Right !

Document - United Nations: General assembly to address sexual orientation and gender identity - Statement affirms promise of Universal Declaration of Human Rights Amnesty International:

"The draft statement condemns violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also condemns killings and executions, torture, arbitrary arrest, and deprivation of economic, social, and cultural rights on those grounds."


The statement proposed for adoption in the UN General Assembly, supported by ALL EU countries:
1 - We reaffirm the principle of universality of human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose 60th anniversary is celebrated this year, Article 1 of which proclaims that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”;
2 - We reaffirm that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, as set out in Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2 of the International Covenants on Civil and Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as in article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
3 - We reaffirm the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity;
4 - We are deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity;
5 - We are also disturbed that violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity, and that these practices undermine the integrity and dignity of those subjected to these abuses;
6 - We condemn the human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur, in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health;
7 - We recall the statement in 2006 before the Human Rights Council by fifty four countries requesting the President of the Council to provide an opportunity, at an appropriate future session of the Council, for discussing these violations;
8 - We commend the attention paid to these issues by special procedures of the Human Rights Council and treaty bodies and encourage them to continue to integrate consideration of human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity within their relevant mandates;
9 - We welcome the adoption of Resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity” by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States during its 38th session in 3 June 2008 *;
10 - We call upon all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to commit to promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity;
11 - We urge States to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention.
12 - We urge States to ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice;
13 - We urge States to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity.
*OASAG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) HUMAN RIGHTS, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, AND GENDER IDENTITY (Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 3, 2008)
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, REAFFIRMING: That the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in that Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status; That the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man establishes that every human being has the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person; CONSIDERING that the OAS Charter proclaims that the historic mission of America is to offer to man a land of liberty and a favorable environment for the development of his personality and the realization of his just aspirations; REAFFIRMING the principles of universality, indivisibility, and interdependence of human rights; and TAKING NOTE with concern acts of violence and related human rights violations perpetrated against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,
RESOLVES:
1. To express concern about acts of violence and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
2. To request that the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) include on its agenda, before the thirty-ninth regular session of the General Assembly, the topic of “Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”
3. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-ninth regular session on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the resources allocated in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lighting Up the World !




See the Amnesty International site on the commemoration ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, for example.

And never forget to utter your opinion on whatever you wish to!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Human Rights Day 2008


Human Rights Day 2008:

"On this Human Rights Day, it is my hope that we will all act on our collective responsibility to uphold the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration. We can only honour the towering vision of that inspiring document when its principles are fully applied everywhere, for everyone."
-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Important Anniversary

Tomorrow, December 10, is the sixtieth anniversary of the proclamation of the UN General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Here the link to find this important document in ALL languages.
May this birthday remind us all to do everything possible and necessary to implement and secure these rights everywhere!

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Preamble
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, therefore,
The General Assembly,
Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.


Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme
Préambule
Considérant que la reconnaissance de la dignité inhérente à tous les membres de la famille humaine et de leurs droits égaux et inaliénables constitue le fondement de la liberté, de la justice et de la paix dans le monde,
Considérant que la méconnaissance et le mépris des droits de l'homme ont conduit à des actes de barbarie qui révoltent la conscience de l'humanité et que l'avènement d'un monde où les êtres humains seront libres de parler et de croire, libérés de la terreur et de la misère, a été proclamé comme la plus haute aspiration de l'homme,
Considérant qu'il est essentiel que les droits de l'homme soient protégés par un régime de droit pour que l'homme ne soit pas contraint, en suprême recours, à la révolte contre la tyrannie et l'oppression,
Considérant qu'il est essentiel d'encourager le développement de relations amicales entre nations,
Considérant que dans la Charte les peuples des Nations Unies ont proclamé à nouveau leur foi dans les droits fondamentaux de l'homme, dans la dignité et la valeur de la personne humaine, dans l'égalité des droits des hommes et des femmes, et qu'ils se sont déclarés résolus à favoriser le progrès social et à instaurer de meilleures conditions de vie dans une liberté plus grande,
Considérant que les Etats Membres se sont engagés à assurer, en coopération avec l'Organisation des Nations Unies, le respect universel et effectif des droits de l'homme et des libertés fondamentales,
Considérant qu'une conception commune de ces droits et libertés est de la plus haute importance pour remplir pleinement cet engagement,
L'Assemblée générale
Proclame la présente Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme comme l'idéal commun à atteindre par tous les peuples et toutes les nations afin que tous les individus et tous les organes de la société, ayant cette Déclaration constamment à l'esprit, s'efforcent, par l'enseignement et l'éducation, de développer le respect de ces droits et libertés et d'en assurer, par des mesures progressives d'ordre national et international, la reconnaissance et l'application universelles et effectives, tant parmi les populations des Etats Membres eux-mêmes que parmi celles des territoires placés sous leur juridiction.

Allgemeine Erklärung der Menschenrechte
PRÄAMBEL
Da die Anerkennung der angeborenen Würde und der gleichen und unveräußerlichen Rechte aller Mitglieder der Gemeinschaft der Menschen die Grundlage von Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit und Frieden in der Welt bildet,
da die Nichtanerkennung und Verachtung der Menschenrechte zu Akten der Barbarei geführt haben, die das Gewissen der Menschheit mit Empörung erfüllen, und da verkündet worden ist, daß einer Welt, in der die Menschen Rede- und Glaubensfreiheit und Freiheit von Furcht und Not genießen, das höchste Streben des Menschen gilt,
da es notwendig ist, die Menschenrechte durch die Herrschaft des Rechtes zu schützen, damit der Mensch nicht gezwungen wird, als letztes Mittel zum Aufstand gegen Tyrannei und Unterdrückung zu greifen,
da es notwendig ist, die Entwicklung freundschaftlicher Beziehungen zwischen den Nationen zu fördern,
da die Völker der Vereinten Nationen in der Charta ihren Glauben an die grundlegenden Menschenrechte, an die Würde und den Wert der menschlichen Person und an die Gleichberechtigung von Mann und Frau erneut bekräftigt und beschlossen haben, den sozialen Fortschritt und bessere Lebensbedingungen in größerer Freiheit zu fördern,
da die Mitgliedstaaten sich verpflichtet haben, in Zusammenarbeit mit den Vereinten Nationen auf die allgemeine Achtung und Einhaltung der Menschenrechte und Grundfreiheiten hinzuwirken,
da ein gemeinsames Verständnis dieser Rechte und Freiheiten von größter Wichtigkeit für
die volle Erfüllung dieser Verpflichtung ist,
verkündet die
Generalversammlung
diese Allgemeine Erklärung der Menschenrechte als das von allen Völkern und Nationen zu erreichende gemeinsame Ideal, damit jeder einzelne und alle Organe der Gesellschaft sich diese Erklärung stets gegenwärtig halten und sich bemühen, durch Unterricht und Erziehung die Achtung vor diesen Rechten und Freiheiten zu fördern und durch fortschreitende nationale und internationale Maßnahmen ihre allgemeine und tatsächliche Anerkennung und Einhaltung durch die Bevölkerung der Mitgliedstaaten selbst wie auch durch die Bevölkerung der ihrer Hoheitsgewalt unterstehenden Gebiete zu gewährleisten.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wirsing-Roulade



Wirsing is Savoy cabbage, something between turnip greens and spinach, with sturdy leaves which enables you (or in this case the wonderful Berlin mom Edith) to make roulade (rolls with spiced groundbeef inside) of them. Add tasty veggies, spices etc. for a sauce to simmer them in forever and eat them with potatoes.

You can enjoy them until you're ready to pop and then keep eating, as we did yesterday for lunch. A great visit in Köpenick and a great cook. A feast!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Snow Is Attempting To Do Something

Since the morning post, two down, it has been snowing on and off, flurry like, but not to much avail, as the streets melt it as fast as it falls. Perhaps it looks nice in the forests around and in town, but today provided no chance to check.

But plastic is over!
Perhaps more snow will fall tonight and tomorrow will be a white wonderland on the way to my ending group's last session in the morning.

L'Infini 105


Wonderful to have already received this latest issue of a quarterly publication full of thought and language at their best!
Here the link to the Sollers site with full table of contents and links to some of the articles included. Worth clicking, worth reading, worth spending time with!

Where's the Snow?

I keep asking that question, because they keep threatening it will come and I'd love to see a lot of it, but, well, it just hasn't amounted to much of anything here yet. We did have those couple of mornings of white dusting, but it was all mush and melt before we ever made it out the door with a camera.
U.S. friends and family are all ranting about their Thanksgiving festivities, and I'm glad they had fun, but we are just patiently working on until the real holidays come. Tomorrow I'm seeing one class off on their last day with my usual final difficult program mixing Mother Goose and Shakespeare, will however regale them as well with 'Twas the Night Before...
Next week the next-to-the-last session before Xmas with another group of English afficionados followed by the final one the week thereafter and two days of monitoring written and assessing oral exam performance for another group's international certification diploma at the beginning of Christmas week.
All not such a load, hardly any stress, and all the more importantly, I've almost finished with the magnus opus on plastics (thermo, engineering, etc.), intend to kill it off today, as it is truly one of the most boring things ever written in any language. And I've had to deal with it in TWO.

By the way: I'm pleased about O's selection of Hillary for Sec. of State, had always hoped they would finally come around and work together. He can keep her in the right direction and she can use her mettle where it counts.

Enough procrastination: I must return to the plastics, test to distinguish them at this point, and wrap up the whole thing before it renders me incapable of touching a plastic bag, a keyboard, or any of the nearly all other things made of that stuff. Give me paper, metal, wood, glass, flesh. And give me real words!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Here It's Christmas Markets

And while NYC had the Macy's Parade, in Berlin, countless Weihnachtsmärkte have opened, as this report from Ukrainian TV on youtube demonstrates with shots of several of them. So, Advent has opened .... and international is the least you can say about this season here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey No,

No bloated stomach, no extra food, no holiday, but today's Friday and we have the weekend, too.
And a parrot chatting on your shoulder is far more enjoyable than a turkey grumbling in your belly.
All the best to family and friends....
And don't forget: thankfulness has to do with thoughtfulness: consider, think, and be joyful that you are alive!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day and fun listening to NPR's debunking of some myths about who ate what with whom and when on that first thanksgiving.

Pour fêter son 100e anniversaire !

On November 28, he will turn 100 years old, the anthropologist and literary beacon Claude Lévi-Strauss.

Le Figaro - Livres : Lévi-Strauss, de l'Amazonie au Collège de France:

Un jour, peut-être dira-t-on du XXe siècle qu'il fut celui de Lévi-Strauss. Non seulement parce que celui-ci y vécut la quasi-intégralité de sa vie mais surtout parce que son œuvre a changé notre regard sur ceux que nous appelions, il y a seulement quelques décennies, les «sauvages». Après Montaigne, est-il un penseur qui a plus contribué que lui à comprendre l'humanité avec d'autres lunettes que celles de la seule raison occidentale ?

Entretiens croisés sur Claude Lévi-Strauss

Stéphane Martin: "Pour remonter à plus loin, j'ai lu 'Tristes Tropiques' pour la première fois quand j'avais treize ans, et ça a illuminé mon univers. Ça m'a donné le goût des voyages, le goût de l'autre, de connaître l'autre, un autre monde que celui dans lequel je suis né."

Les 100 ans de Claude Lévi-Strauss, par Dominique Dhombres

Claude Lévi-Strauss aura 100 ans le 28 novembre. France 5 devançait un peu cet anniversaire en diffusant, lundi 24 novembre, l'étonnant film de l'ethnologue brésilien Marcelo Fortaleza Flores sur le séjour de l'intéressé en 1938 auprès des Indiens Nambikwara, en Amazonie. Claude Lévi-Strauss a passé plusieurs années au Brésil, de 1935 à 1939. Il consacre aux Nambikwara plusieurs chapitres de Tristes Tropiques, l'ouvrage inclassable, paru en 1955, qui l'a rendu célèbre.
Claude Lévi-Strauss voulait écrire un roman. Il a vite renoncé, mais a gardé le titre qu'il avait en tête. La mélancolie et l'humour dominent dans ce curieux hybride de compte rendu de voyage, d'essai philosophique et de récit initiatique. "Une expédition ethnographique dans le
Brésil central se prépare au carrefour Réaumur-Sébastopol. On y trouve réunis les grossistes en articles de couture et de mode ; c'est là qu'on peut espérer découvrir les produits propres à satisfaire les goûts difficiles des Indiens", écrit-il.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Making the BBC Good

May Gore Vidal continue to thrive, enjoy improved health, and appear more often on television of the English speaking variety so as to raise its quality, as he does each time he speaks on the bube tube. May he continue to write and observe the americana on which he so trenchantly comments and which he so thoroughly comprehends. There are many who rightly fear his intellect and perspicacity; I welcome it and revel in his every turn of phrase. May those he sears with his remarks vanish long before he does!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

This Promise Must Be Kept !

“As President, I will close Guantánamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions”– Barack Obama, 8/1/07

Closing this facility which is in violation of ALL law and principles of justice would be an act in harmony with the demands on the President-Elect I made in my posting of November 7th. Amidst the financial crisis still threatening the world, we must not lose sight of the greater issues that decide whether we maintain human society and thought or merely become expressions of bank accounts and salaries.
I maintain my humanity and am not a mere number. Stand up for justice everywhere!
And below, the video from ACLU summarizing the horror of Guantánamo and the necessity of closing it. The difficulty of what to do with the inmates may not justify its continuation. Those with no homeland to be returned to or that accepts them must be granted living facilities elsewhere OR charged for a crime in a constitutional court of law.


video

Close GITMO and End Military Commissions !

Saturday, November 22, 2008

News to Like

It's a pleasure to give some links and summaries to some really positive developments reported in the NYTimes and elsewhere, stories that are already bettering the image of the US in Europe and reaping praise that America can indeed resume good defense of human and civil rights and restore justice to its proper position stage center!

Judge Declares Five Detainees Held Illegally
By WILLIAM GLABERSON
Published: November 21, 2008

A federal judge ordered the release of five Algerian men held at Guantánamo Bay for nearly seven years.

Clinton Is Said to Accept Offer of Secretary of State Position
By PETER BAKER and HELENE COOPER
Published: November 22, 2008
Two confidants said Hillary Rodham Clinton will give up her Senate seat and accept the nomination for secretary of state after talks with the president-elect about her role.

Activists Seek to Tie ‘Milk’ to a Campaign for Gay Rights
By MICHAEL CIEPLY
Published: November 22, 2008
The release of “Milk,” a film that portrays gay rights battles of 30 years ago, is being complicated by a new culture war over homosexual marriage.

The struggle goes on!

And Obama continues to think to prepare to help...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Eating Chilli With an Old Friend

She's back from her exile in Karlsruhe, actually she's been back for more than a month, but her move and her company's move, which prompted hers back to the Berlin she left to take the job a few years back, had so monopolized our dear friend's time and energy that we had not yet been able to get together, until yesterday.

And that was to help her with one tiny aspect of her move, getting her old or her new second-hand computer up and running before the telephone company comes on Thursday to hook up her phone and dsl connection. You'd think it'd be easy, but, as she confirmed with various stories as examples, it turned out to be typical of the whole move, her company's and hers.

The old computer had gotten some quirks and she couldn't resolve them, so first move files to a usb stick. OK. Then start up the new second-hand one from some friend: American profiles on that one prevented it from operating properly with her German keyboard, and it didn't have some programs she had on the other. So, fix it, open the cd drawer to alter the profile and guess what. The drawer just won't open. Makes it as useful as the proverbial screen-doored submarine!

All right: clean up the old one. All done, super, then virus check: clean. Then make sure it has a socket for a LAN cable so she can use it for the DSL connection. Surprise: it's so old it doesn't have such a socket! So today she's off to buy a new computer, which was not in the plan, but now proves necessary.

Anyhow, she had made an enormous pot of chilli for Detlef & me for coming to fix her computer, and we got to eat it anyway and heard the stories to prove that this little problem was really only minor.

(The following are mere pithy summaries)

THE REFRIGERATOR STORY
Since July her 2-year-old fridge has been heating instead of cooling. Under guarantee still, it was serviced several times by the company to no avail. Then not being able to fix it, they refused to replace it. The whole thing is going to court, even though her guarantee is iron-clad and the lawyer says it's an open and shut case. He costs nothing, cause she has legal insurance. The fridge company has left her without a fridge for nearly half a year and she had to bring it to Berlin with her even though she is to have a new one in her place here, cause the lawyer told her to.

THE OPEN SPACE STORY
Her firm has dispensed with wall and evidently with any facilitating of work in the new headquarters here. There's a central printer-copy-fax-scanner-machine for her "community" of more than 30 staff members of all echelons sitting cheek and jowl with aisles through the desks instead of corridors, and you have to run to it and log in for it to print whatever you sent to it, wait, then go back to your desk. But the coffee machines are good, all agree: they even make latte macchiato!

THE BUILT-IN KITCHEN STORY
Nothing has arrived yet, though it was all ordered months ago for October 1, no oven, range, sink, counter tops, washer, dryer, dishwasher, new fridge. Every call produces a new promise of coming soon, now by the end of November.

THE DEPOSIT STORY
The landlord of her old apartment, given plenty of notice but apparently unable to rent the place anew, is now playing games about her deposit even though she's paid double rent for October and November. Now a lawyer has to go with her to turn in the keys and do a walk-through with her to ensure that she gets her deposit back. Till now that landlord had always claimed that there'd never be a problem about anything, just don't worry.

The only thing that make's her life possible is that she can use her former husband's place just around the corner until hers is finally completed as he's out of town and won't be back til early January.

So we wish her an end to these on-going sagas by Christmas so she can finally enjoy getting moved back to Berlin by the same company she had to leave it for. She surely deserves some peace of mind now....

And the chilli was as good as ever; plus she had brought me more of those special French notebooks with the unique ruled paper that you can only get there. (Karlsruhe is only a stone's throw from la RF.)

And we now believe she's back, cause we saw her, talked with her, and ate a meal she cooked and we are truly glad we can now get to see our dear friend more often.
So give her a break everybody, she's the best cook in Berlin and has a sense of fair play that is a gift to all who know her. She deserves fairness, too!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Let's Make These Fake Headlines Real !

I can only applaud the fake NYT issue yesterday, dated July 4, 2009, as a truly patriotic issue. If this much positive happens in the first six months of next year, the world will truly be a better place. Some excerpted examples are listed under the link(s) below, with which you can view the entire issue as well as download your very own PDF copy of it there too (via the permalink)! Preserve the word of hope and act to help fulfill the dream!

The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia:
Iraq War Ends
Troops to Return Immediately
By Jude Shinbin
Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were brought to an unceremonious close today.
U.S. Army helicopters begin moving troops and equipment from Saddam Hussein's former Baghdad palace. (COURTESY ARMY.MIL)
Ex-Secretary Apologizes for W.M.D. Scare
300,000 Troops Never Faced Risk of Instant Obliteration
By Frank Larimore
Ex-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice reassured soldiers that the Bush administration had known well before the invasion that Saddam Hussein lacked weapons of mass destruction.
Court Indicts Bush on High Treason Charge
By Bart Garzon
George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, was indicted Monday on charges of high treason.

Society & Politics »
National Health Insurance Act Passes
The United States National Health Insurance Act is expected to be signed into law shortly.
Popular Pressure Ushers Recent Progressive Tilt
Grassroots advocacy the source of sweeping legislation, study says.
USA Patriot Act Repealed
The controversial USA PATRIOT Act was repealed by Congress by a vote of 99-1 in the Senate and 520 to 18 in the House.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Crisis & What to Do About It

The Crisis & What to Do About It - The New York Review of Books
By George Soros

The salient feature of the current financial crisis is that it was not caused by some external shock like OPEC raising the price of oil or a particular country or financial institution defaulting. The crisis was generated by the financial system itself. This fact—that the defect was inherent in the system —contradicts the prevailing theory, which holds that financial markets tend toward equilibrium and that deviations from the equilibrium either occur in a random manner or are caused by some sudden external event to which markets have difficulty adjusting. The severity and amplitude of the crisis provides convincing evidence that there is something fundamentally wrong with this prevailing theory and with the approach to market regulation that has gone with it. To understand what has happened, and what should be done to avoid such a catastrophic crisis in the future, will require a new way of thinking about how markets work.

Perhaps it is worth taking the time to read this thoughtful piece in the NYRB!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Fateful Date !

Today is one of those days to be ever remembered for many vital reasons, here the most important, the ones we should all recall:

November Revolution 1918 Novemberrevolution:
Maximilian von Baden announces the abdication of / verkündet die Abdankung von Kaiser Wilhelm II. Philipp Scheidemann proclaims from the Reichstag portal the "German Republic" / ruft vom Reichstagsgebäude aus die „deutsche Republik“ aus. At the same time / gleichzeitig verkündet vom Berliner Stadtschloss aus Karl Liebknecht proclaims from the Berlin City Palace the German / die deutsche Räterepublik.

Pogrom Night 1938 Reichspogromnacht:
Attacks on Jews and Jewish establishments, businesses, synagogues burned, police and fire department under orders only to protect non-Jewish property.
Übergriffen gegen Juden und jüdische Einrichtungen, Synagogen in Brand gesteckt, Polizei und Feuerwehr haben Weisung, nur nichtjüdisches Eigentum zu schützen.

Fall of the Berlin Wall 1989 Fall der Berliner Mauer The fall of the Berlin Wall - November 1989

And, in 1957, the birth of my beloved sister TERRI !

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hiddensee Is Fantastic

one more photo to prove it

many more in the slide show below in the first Hiddensee post

Do Not Disappoint Us!

Here, dear Barack Obama, are the expectations, no, the demands, I consider essential for you to meet; and they are mere guidelines, not hurdles, thus leaving you much leeway to surprise me positively, to draw fresh tears of joy from my eyes:

  • Continue always to think before acting or speaking and ever to display and explain, as you have so far again and again impressed me by doing, the intricacies of your process of conidering the matter at hand. That for you thought entails listening to other opinions, most intently to those far different from your own view, you have often proclaimed. I greatly admire this and consider it essential to the constant thinking I have here set down as my first demand on you.
  • Justice, true justice, fairness, equal and universal civil and human rights must always be the guiding principle of your thoughts and actions. This demand is absolute and I will measure you and your governance by your efforts to attain and preserve freedom and justice for all, whoever they may be, and guaranteeing them all those same rights to think and express those thoughts as freely as I expect you to do yourself. No fiats, no privilege, no seclusion.
  • Negotiate with other countries sincerely, openly, honestly, constantly to resolve the common problems facing mankind, to mediate, defuse, obviate conflicts between countries, peoples, regions, to enhance international governance, to respect and adhere to international law, to act in concert with international organizations composed of equal partners to take military actions as a last resort against those who refuse, ignore, violate negotiation in order to maintain world peace and the security and safety of individual countries and their citizens.
  • Accept and encourage global authorities for all matters beyond the jurisdiction of any one country to ensure that global operators may not avoid laws and rules of a particular country by simply operating elsewhere. This means abiding by the decisions of such international organization.
  • Promote mankind, the worth of each human on this earth, before any fiscal, business, monetary, diplomatic, or political goal. Man IS the measure!
  • You will have understood, dear Barack Obama, that I expect, demand, you to adhere to and promote, indeed, Enlightenment and its principles against all forms of fundamentalist or absolutist or totalitarianizing ideology or religion, to shine ever more light into quotidian shadows in order to reveal and promote those principles of Enlightenment on which the US and all world partners for freedom, justice, and human rights are founded. As long as any one of us does not enjoy all human rights, no one of us can be secure in his own. This must never be forgotten.

Is that too much to demad of you, Barack Obama, my President-Elect? I think it is the least I have a right to expect of you.

Please do not disappoint me and all the rest of us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Free At Last !

Yes, that's how I felt this morning here on our magic island when we turned on CNN to learn that Obama had hit 338 electoral votes; that's also how I feel now: FREE AT LAST ! We probably couldn't have slept at all if the indicators had been any different, and at 4am our time it was already looking good before the west coast came in.




[Hiddensee remains wonderful: new pix now in the slide show in the previous posting below.
This one only to give a jubilant hello to a world with a decent US President-Elect.]

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hiddensee Between Halloween & Election Day

Nice easy arrival with perfect connections from tram to train to train to bus to ferry got us to the island around 3pm Saturday, our landlady Dorina waiting with smiles and the keys to the house we have all to ourselves this time (which also results in infrequent surfing online & blogging as the caretaker has also already left for the season and he had the wlan there, now we're sitting in a café). Went across the street to visit our old friends the Forkerts, who were the ones who used to take care of the house, but now they're at the stage that others must take care of them. Happy faces, though, for coffee & cake with them.
Fireplace heated up for the evening, we lounged around and went to a pitch black coast (cloudy) with ethereal lights of civilization glimmering on the horizons.
Rented bikes and rode to the north end of the island Sunday, today to the lighthouse and cliffs, and it's a WONDERFUL FOG here since dawn... only then was it briefly clear.
Below some selected pics, more as we get back over to the internet café.

AND VOTE FOR OBAMA TOMORROW!

Friday, October 31, 2008

What We Can See Tomorrow ...


... you can get a virtual glimpse of today

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Making My Life More Fun

I'm beginning to believe that as of next Wednesday morning it will be a lot more fun being an American in Europe, that it will be a lot easier to explain to Europeans that we can and do think and care about human rights. I think it will then be a lot easier to extoll the great ideals of the American Constiution, the Bill of Rights, the goals of the founding fathers. It will then be a lot easier for people here to believe me and all other Americans when we speak of democracy, freedom, justice, civil rights, human rights, and a better world.

O, my fellow citizens, please help me to wake up Wednesday morning with that new brightness in my life, with that new illumination glowing for the entire world, with a hint of nobility in the human endeavour! Our homeland can again serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for many noble aspirations worldwide! Please help that shining Wednesday morning dawn!

Think, Be Honest, Face Challenges, Listen, Involve

That is what a man, a good man, is promising Americans: to think constantly and not claim perfection, to be honest with the citizenry and the world, to listen to critics, friends, Americans, and other countries, to involve citizens in decisions and all countries in the effort to find solutions to world problems.

No, he will not be a perfect president, but he will be a good president! Perfection is a dream of fundamentalists, and the playpen was full of such and the world is threatened by such. We need leaders who can think and dare to do so. Think carefully and vote for this man for president of the United States.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Another Endorsement

THE FINANCIAL TIMES: October 26 2008 19:31
Editorial comment - Obama is the better choice:

Obama is the better choice
US presidential elections involve a fabulous expense of time, effort and money. Doubtless it is all too much – but, by the end, nobody can complain that the candidates have been too little scrutinised. We have learnt a lot about Barack Obama and John McCain during this Campaign. In our view, it is enough to be confident that Mr Obama is the right choice.



Hey, folks, even the business world, the often parasitic leech and callous fiend of our age, has discovered that Obama is a better choice, perhaps comprehending that the world must be held together if they hope to continue doing business at all, that the US must regain respect in the world if American companies are to be considered as anything other than the cause of worldwide economic trouble, that loyalty to the principles of freedom and justice are of benefit even to those in search of profit.

So GET OUT THE VOTE - VOTE FOR OBAMA - MAKE SURE YOUR FRIENDS DO TOO

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Endorsement to Remember

Just have to love the playpen at play and relish in the hope they'll all soon only have rattles to shake back down in Texas. (Thanks to the AWESOME Darth Rachel for helping this reach OLD EUROPE !)

Lights of a light nature

Finally, as evidently thousands of others, we yesterday evening went out to see the colorful illuminations on the last night of this year's Festival of Lights. (On the linked site, there are many more and better photos than we managed.)
Once at the tv-tower, we realized there were also to be fireworks at 9:30, so we decided to do the bits from there to Unter den Linden, including the Cathedral with laser painting, take a bus to the Brandenburg Gate, and then again from there to the Siegessäule, farthest on our spontaneous plan, then hop back on a bus for Alex and be there in plenty of time for the fireworks.
But the bus quit at Schl0ß Bellevue, one stop before Siegessäule, as there was also some run of a few dozen people with light rods or such, or whatever, but it was only a couple of hundred meters to walk there, and the bus would have to turn around anyway, so, we thought, we'll still make it back in time.
Well, the sms info service said a proper bus would come at 9:06, 9:08, and 9:14 at the Bellevue stop, which the first two indeed did, but were so full they wouldn't let anyone board. The next one still hadn't arrived at 9:20, so we walked to the S-Bahn station and caught a train at 9:28, through the window saw the fireworks begin promptly at 9:30, and found them over when we disembarked at Hackescher Markt, an ideal vantage point just off from the tv-tower, the area where they were launched. We got off the train, by the way, at 9:37, so the entire firework show couldn't have been more than 5 minutes.
Our advantage: there were such mobs that the tram from there directly to our house was already filled to overflowing at the second stop. We had seats by boarding at the start at the train station. By the Alexander Platz stop, the tram was a sardine can, the second of the two stops on the Platz not possible for anyone to board.
Yep, Berlin is a party, and EVERYBODY always goes on the last night, including us. But we got a seat and had fun. Had we seen the fireworks from closeup we would have had to wait forever to get on a tram home.
Below the meagre personal evidence:


Above, the still photos that amounted to anything; and below, the short video of the laser painting on Berlin's Cathedral at the top of Unter den Linden and at the River Spree


Friday, October 24, 2008

By the way, drunken right-of-way, hooray !

An Austrian drunk driving at double the speed limit (142 kmh) totalled his car and successfully ended his life a good week ago, to the benefit of the world and the troubling grief of his native Austrian state Kärnten, luckily did not injure the other driver and car he raced to pass on his way, one supposes, to uphold rights and decency once more.
Those who rush to uphold values are the ones you'd better get out of the way of when they're behind the wheel, of a car, or, far worse, of a state or country. This is another one whose only suitable eulogy consists of two words: "Good Riddance!"

And the Austrian Nobel Prize Author Elfriede Jelinek has also suitably memorialized her fellow countryman Haider in this text published on her website:

NYTimes Endorsement of Barack Obama

Time for the world and the States to move on, move ahead, move up, to move at all !

Editorial - Barack Obama - Editorial Board - Endorsement - NYTimes.com:

Hyperbole is the currency of presidential campaigns, but this year the nation’s future truly hangs in the balance.
The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush’s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image and a government systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens — whether they are fleeing a hurricane’s floodwaters, searching for affordable health care or struggling to hold on to their homes, jobs, savings and pensions in the midst of a financial crisis that was foretold and preventable.
As tough as the times are, the selection of a new president is easy. After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States.
...
The nation’s problems are simply too grave to be reduced to slashing “robo-calls” and negative ads. This country needs sensible leadership, compassionate leadership, honest leadership and strong leadership. Barack Obama has shown that he has all of those qualities.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vote NOW, Vote EARLY, Vote ABSENTEE, but VOTE !

You can already vote early or absentee in many states AND abroad. Make sure you do. Make sure you vote for CHANGE. Bring America back to the position of respect it has sadly lost in the world through 8 years of a playpenal bushbaby presidency trampling on American ideals and international cooperation for peace, justice, freedom, and survival on our common planet!

End of a House Slave ?

Just a suggestion: Perhaps we have witnessed, in recent days, a house slave finally managing to escape from the playpen of his master, admitting all he did wrong by ever letting himself be used there, and trying to make up for some horrible actions he took, as at the UN with that fake evidence about Iraq he presented. (I'm talking about Colin P, of course.) Perhaps he's attempting to free himself totally from the shackles of the abusers and lend support to one pointing to the light.
(A question: Is there any chance the Oreo-Cookie-Condy can also make a break from her self-imposed imprisonment? Probably not, since she even considers the Equal Opportunity laws, which gave her one, are unfair. She's got an awful lot to learn.)

Meanwhile, here, the Chairman of the Deutsche Bank announced he would be ashamed to accept any guarantees or equity funds from the state rescue package he helped the German government fashion to rescue the financial sector he and his cronies had a part in steering into the oblivion of trashy investments based on less than a hope and a prayer. He also generally offered to "forego" his bonus payments this year, as if he or any banker anywhere deserved any.
Angie popped a few buttons upon hearing this, and the Finance Minister reminded Mr. Ackermann that he had been involved in the whole thing from the word go and called his remarks out of place.

Whatever happened to hairshirts for penitents? What ever happened to penitence? or shame? or simple decency? What ever happened to the ability to think straight? or to think at all?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner 10/16/08

The roast as high art. The winner gracious, the Cardinal red, the loser grinning. May it remain so.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Two More Endorsements

Barack Obama for president - Los Angeles Times:
"We need a leader who demonstrates thoughtful calm and grace under pressure, one not prone to volatile gesture or capricious pronouncement. We need a leader well-grounded in the intellectual and legal foundations of American freedom. Yet we ask that the same person also possess the spark and passion to inspire the best within us: creativity, generosity and a fierce defense of justice and liberty.
The Times without hesitation endorses Barack Obama for president."


Barack Obama for president - THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
"On Nov. 4 we're going to elect a president to lead us through a perilous time and restore in us a common sense of national purpose.
The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to endorse him today for president of the United States. ...
This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party's nominee for president. ...
It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barack Obama for President

Barack Obama for President - washingtonpost.com:
"THE NOMINATING process this year produced two unusually talented and qualified presidential candidates. There are few public figures we have respected more over the years than Sen. John McCain. Yet it is without ambivalence that we endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president."

The first newspaper editorial endorsement already TODAY !

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Debating Raised to Art

Because of the debate last night, I suppose, and, well, cause I've alway thought someone should do it, and these kids did, so I'm posting their video version, though I'd still like to see it with Dustin Hoffman and Raoul Julia, or George Clooney and Brat Pitt, or even more so on the stage with any really excellent actors. So much more illuminating than the typical Q&A session! And if you have never read the text, well, you should....



An Encounter With An Interviewer, by Mark Twain from Mark Keller on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Awesome Revisited

Today the kind librarian of the Carl-von-Ossietzky-Oberschule sent me a CD with copies of the photos he took of John Green and me (and the class and others there of course) during his reading and discussion with the students there on October 2 during the internationales literaturfestival berlin. Apparently, I, as translator, had at least as much fun as John did. Check out the selection below.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Palin(g)

Though she should be Palin(g) with shame, she's probably only Palin(g) with fright that her so very dirty tricks were revealed quickly enough before the election to show the world how long her "moral" and "ethical" "values" have already been Palin(g)! Those who carry their moral virtues around like a banner into battle are always the ones demanding police actions against everyone else and license to abuse for themselves. If you are patriotic, you needn't wrap yourself in the flag; cloth only hides dirt. Shame on you, you ever more Palin(g) mirage of a veep candidate!

The New York Times / U.S. / Politics
Alaska Inquiry Concludes Palin Abused Powers
By SERGE F. KOVALESKI, Published: October 11, 2008
"Gov. Sarah Palin abused the powers of her office by pressuring subordinates to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired, an investigation has concluded."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Also Hopeful !

Yes, hope, I added to my own hope and hopefulness in the world with a very practical measure this afternoon:
I received, from the State Board of Elections in NY, my special federal voter absentee ballot, marked it CORRECTLY, thoughtfully, with the conviction that change is possible, sealed it in the inner envelope, that in the outer envelope with the address in Manhattan, and promptly brought the whole thing to the post office around the corner here and paid €1.70 to have it airmailed to the States.
That really felt good !

Félicitations pour un écrivain libre

Le Clézio, always daring to think, never remaining fixedly of one or the other nationality, a great universalist, a model European, a trenchant writer in the French language, of human warmth, once wrote, "I am convinced that we are free. Writing is a way of expressing that liberty." This statement alone is worthy of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Le Clézio won it yesterday for much, much more. Congratulations.

See also Sollers' piece originally from 1995 on the occasion of the appearance of Le Clézio's book of interviews Ailleurs [Elsewhere]:

Le Clézio par Sollers
LE MONDE DES LIVRES 09.10.08

Ces temps-ci, les philosophes et les écrivains nous parlent très peu concrètement de la liberté. Mais c'est qu'ils se croient coupables. Ils ont tort.

© Le Monde.fr

Friday

Be positive, world, think of something that costs nothing! That bankers have royally mucked it up should not surprise anyone. That anyone still wants to privatize ANYthing in public hands should be a sign of their critical insanity and by no means be acted on. That private companies receiving state aide should be placed to that in extent in public/state/taxpayer ownership is clear. If we all share the risk, then we should all participate in any potential gain.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Peep, Peep, Peep : Cheap Veep

She's full of fun, that maverick of McPain, as long as she gets no nearer presidential power than Anchorage.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

In Hommage to Mahmud Darwisch

Worldwide reading in memory of Mahmoud Darwish on 5 October 2008

… Denk an den Anderen
Denk an den Andern
Wenn du dein Frühstück bereitest, denk an den Andern
und vergiss nicht das Futter der Tauben.
Wenn du in deine Kriege ziehst, denk an den Andern
und vergiss nicht jene, die Frieden fordern.
Wenn du deine Wasserrechnung begleichst, denk an die Andern,
die ihr Wasser aus den Wolken saugen müssen.
Wenn du zu deinem Hause zurückkehrst, deinem Hause, denk an den
Andern und vergiss nicht das Volk in den Zelten.
Wenn du schlafen willst und die Sterne zählst, denk an den Andern,
der hat keinen Raum zum Schlafen.
Wenn du dich mit Wortspielen befreist, denk an den Andern
und denk an jene, die die Freiheit der Rede verloren.
Wenn du an die Anderen in der Ferne denkst, denke an dich,
und sage : wäre ich doch eine Kerze im Dunkeln.
- Mahmoud Darwish: 2005 / Übersetzer: : Hakam Abd al-Hadi

The Berlin International Literature Festival is appealing for a worldwide reading of Mahmoud Darwish's poetry on 5 October 2008. The activities accompanying this event are designed not only to honour the poet's body of work but also his commitment to promoting peaceful and fair coexistence between Arabs and Israelis. This appeal is directed at cultural institutions, radio stations, schools, universities, theatres and all other Darwish enthusiasts the world over.
Mahmoud Darwish was one of the best-loved Arab lyricists of modern times and counts among the most eminent poets in the history of world literature. Thousands flocked to hear his readings, and his volumes of poetry have been published in the hundreds and thousands. Numerous pieces have been translated into more than 30 different languages. His poems have been transformed into folksongs and many of his verses have taken on the character of proverbs. Darwish's poetry draws inspiration from the tradition of ancient Arab poetry and Modernist influences and borrows from the style and language of both the Qur'an and the Bible. Few other poets have displayed such dedication to articulating a vision of a meaningful, real and fair peace between Arabs and Israelis, which furthers a dialogue between two voices and two different outlooks on life, while ensuring that one does not impose its view upon the other.
In the tradition of ancient Arab poetry, the poet assumes the role of spokesperson for his people. And despite Darwish's move away from this role since the 1990s, many readers still viewed him as Palestine's literary ambassador to the last.
Mahmoud Darwish was born in 1941 in the village of Al-Birweh near Acre. In 1948, he fled to Lebanon and returned after the foundation of the state of Israel. He worked as an editor for various political and cultural journals in Haifa. After being imprisoned on numerous occasions, he left Israel in 1970 and went into exile. He has lived in Moscow, Cairo, Beirut, Paris and, most recently, in Amman and Ramallah. In 1987, he was elected to the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and helped draft the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988. He left the organization in 1993 in protest against the signing of the Oslo Accords. He received numerous awards, including the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom in 2001 and the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize in 2003. Darwish died on 9 August 2008 following heart surgery. He was buried in the West Bank city of Ramallah and granted a state funeral.

The appeal has been signed by:Hector Abad, Colombia; Tariq Ali, Pakistan; Amal al-Jubouri, Iraq/Germany; John Ashbery, USA; Margaret Atwood, Canada; Daniel Barenboim, Argentina/Germany; Bei Dao, China/USA; Mohammed Bennis, Morocco; Philipp Blom, Germany/Austria; Rachid Boudjedra, Algeria; Breyten Breytenbach, South Africa; André Brink, South Africa; Monika Carbe, Germany; Dilip Chitre, India; John M. Coetzee, South Afrika; Edgardo Cozarinsky, Argentina; Nuruddin Farah, Somalia/South Africa; Enrique Fierro, Uruguay; Jon Fosse, Norway; Antje Grabenhorst, Germany; Nadine Gordimer, South Africa; Ha Jin, China; Qassim Haddad, Bahrain; Milton Hatoum, Brazil; Seamus Heaney, Ireland; Mofidul Hoque, Bangladesh; Jabbar Yassin Hussin, Iraq/France; Nancy Huston, Canada/France; Elfriede Jelinek, Austria; Adel Karasholi, Syria/Germany; Navid Kermani, Germany; Friedrich Kröhnke, Germany; Abdellatif Laabi, Morocco/France; Zakes Mda, South Africa; Pauline Melville, Guyana/Great Britain; Paul Muldoon, Northern Ireland/USA; Charl-Pierre Naudé, South Africa; Claudia Ott, Germany; Michael Palmer, USA; Shailja Patel, Kenya; Jean Portante, Luxemburg; Fernando Rendón, Colombia; Alberto Ruy-Sánchez, Mexico; Joachim Sartorius; Germany; K.S. Satchidanandan, India; Nasrin Siege, Iran/Germany; Wole Soyinka, Nigeria; Shashi Tharoor, India; Lina Tibi, Syria; Tzvetan Todorov, Bulgaria/France; Anne Waldmann, USA; Marina Warner, Great Britain; Eliot Weinberger, USA; Renate Welsh-Rabady, Austria; Yang Lian, China/Great Britain

internationales literaturfestival berlin
5.10.2008_19.00_Haus der Berliner Festspiele Große Bühne
Hommage an Mahmud Darwisch im Rahmen einer weltweiten Lesung
“Mahmud ist fort. Das Exil ist vorüber“, schrieb Breyten Breytenbach kurz nach dem Tod des großen palästinensischen Dichters Mahmud Darwisch. „Für uns alle“, so Breytenbach, „war er ein Maßstab. Vielleicht bleiben wir irgendwo stehen, weil wir über uns Vogelgeflatter hören, und wir halten schützend eine Hand über unsere geblendeten Augen, während wir den Himmel absuchen. In diesem Rhythmus der Vögel wird er für mich fortleben.“ Frank Arnold, Volker Braun, Margarita Broich, Leila Chammaa, Tina Engel, Kathleen Gallego Zapata, Astrid Gorvin, Qassim Haddad, Amal al-Jubouri, Marel Khalifa, Adel Karasholi, Naomi Krauss, Jutta Lampe, Geno Lechner, Marie Löcker, Julia Malik, Chun Mei Tan, Friedhelm Ptok, Joachim Sartorius, Roland Schäfer, Nina West u. a. lesen Gedichte von Darwisch in deutscher Übersetzung. Claudia Ott würdigt den Autor und zeichnet die Stationen seines Lebens nach.
Es werden Übersetzungen von Hakam Abdel-Hadi / Rüdiger Vorbrüggen, Evelyn Agbaria, Mustafa Al-Sleiman / Volker Braun, Christine Battermann, Farouk S. Beydoun, Johanna und Moustapha Haikal, Adel Karasholi, Khalid al-Maaly / Heribert Becker, Stephan Milich, Angelika Neuwirth, Günther Orth, Claudia Ott, Annemarie Schimmel und Stefan Weidner gelesen.