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.


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 -

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 -
"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


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

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


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.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Awesome, as in: made of

You know who I'm talking about: yes, John Green, who read to and discussed with several classes in a Kreuzberg school today, an actor reading excerpts from the published German version of Looking for Alaska, and yours truly translating John's English remarks into German and the kids' German questions into English for him.
And yes, I got the answers to the questions I was charged with by my internet contacts (you know who you are) and accomplished the missions requested.
Berlin is awesome, as is its Kreuzberg borough, according to John.
The school director took some photos which I will try to get my hands on (or my computer bits and bytes onto) and share them with those interested.
One quote from JG to the kids, pertinent prior to tonight's veepbate:
"I have to be honest with you, it's not the politicians or the system alone that has to be changed in America, no, it's the people, the way they think... They have to become more open and tolerant."
The Kreuzberg kids cheered when they got the German version of that one!