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.

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
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
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
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)

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.

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!

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 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.