Thursday, December 31, 2009

We Made It !

To the end of 2009 ...

... and with a snow landscape all about us ...
... to slip into 2010 !
May the next year see mankind behave with more humanity and better assume his custodianship of Being!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Freiheit - Freedom - Libertà - Liberté

« das Wesen der Freiheit entspringt aus dem Wesen der Wahrheit; erst dieses anfängliche-seynsgeschichtliche Wesen der »Freiheit« geht hinter alle metaphysischen Fragen ... zurück und gibt zugleich die Möglichkeit, die Zugehörigkeit zum Sein anfänglich zu erfahren und die wesenshafte Durchwesung des Menschen von der Entbergung zu begreifen - als Ver-nehmung schon in der Be-freiung gründet - der sich im Unverborgenen, in dieses nach seiner Weise erstreckende Ausgriff »
-MH: GA Bd. 71 Das Ereignis; I.A.27, S.22-23

The essence of freedom arises out of the essence of truth; only this inceptional/beyng-historical essence of "freedom" goes beyond all metaphysical questions and at the same time provides the possibility of inceptionally experiencing belonging to Being and grasping the essential swaying through Man of revelation - as per-ception is already based in lib-eration - the outreach within, and stretching out in its own way into, the unconcealed.
-RG (English)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And The Rest Is Just Noise

Another item quoted, not because I'm lazy, but because it deserves reading...

Why the health care bill is the greatest social achievement of our time.
by Jonathan Chait, a senior editor of The New Republic
Insurers may be getting a lot of new customers, but that comes with the trade-off of a lot of unwanted regulation. There is more at work in the progressive revolt than an irrational attachment to the public plan or an executive distrust of private industry. The bizarre convergence of left-wing and right-wing paranoia echoes the forces that brought down the moderate consensus of the postwar era. The GOP retreat into Palinism represents one half of this collapse. The left’s revolt against health care reform represents the other. What has re-emerged in recent weeks is the spirit of the New Left--distrustful of evolutionary change, compromise between business and labor, and the practical tools of progressive reform. It is the spirit that rejected Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and Al Gore in 2000.
The New Left rejection of “corporate liberalism” came at what we now regard as the historical apex of American liberalism. At the moment of another historical triumph, liberals are retreating from politics into languor, rage, and other incarnations of anti-politics. One day they may look back upon this time with longing.
And, I might add, insurance coverage for all citizens is a duty of a functional state, not to mention that it is a feature of the German system since the administration of the quite conservative Bismarck in the 1870s and a commonplace in all European democratic countries. One country I can mention does NOT offer health care coverage for its citizens: CHINA, the oh-so-communist system "for the people" is as callous about its citizens dying or suffering from illness as the US system "for the people" has been up to now.
The health care reform bill deserves passage in both houses, quickly. Improvements can come after the cornerstone has been laid, and it is more than 100 years overdue!

Monday, December 28, 2009

F R E E D O M ! ! !

Freiheit, schöner Götterfunken !

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wonderful World

Our Xmas present to ourselves 2009
Yes, to continue Christmas pleasures, yesterday to the Pergamon Museum on the Museumsinsel (Our annual tickets were our presents to each other.) and today with friends to strip mines becoming incredible lakes to the south of the city. There is really so much beauty all around, just to reach out and touch.
Ausflug mit Rudi & Renate

Saturday, December 26, 2009

"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary..."

A country which charges someone with “inciting subversion of state power” and condemns him to prison for 11 years because he publicly in a petition calls for the respect of human rights in that country perhaps should indeed have its state power subverted!
On Christmas Day, December 25, 2009, CHINA condemned LIU XIAOBO to 11 years in prison for subversion because of his co-authorship and signing of the CHARTER 08, which endorses the following basic universal values - Freedom, Human Rights, Equality, Republicanism, Democracy, Constitutional Rule - and calls on the Chinese government to respect these in accordance with international agreements. The trial lasted three hours.
In support of LIU XIAOBO and of the CHARTER 08, I call on the P.R. China to grant in full all rights and reforms called for in that charter, free the falsely convicted and imprisoned LIU XIAOBO, and immediately to cease all persecution of any and all other signatories of that Charter 08, which I herewith consider myself also to have signed.

The Charter 08 begins as follows:

A hundred years have passed since the writing of China's first constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of the Democracy Wall in Beijing, and the tenth of China's signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.
and concludes thusly:
China, as a major nation of the world, as one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and as a member of the UN Council on Human Rights, should be contributing to peace for humankind and progress toward human rights. Unfortunately, we stand today as the only country among the major nations that remains mired in authoritarian politics. Our political system continues to produce human rights disasters and social crises, thereby not only constricting China's own development but also limiting the progress of all of human civilization. This must change, truly it must. The democratization of Chinese politics can be put off no longer.
Accordingly, we dare to put civic spirit into practice by announcing Charter 08. We hope that our fellow citizens who feel a similar sense of crisis, responsibility, and mission, whether they are inside the government or not, and regardless of their social status, will set aside small differences to embrace the broad goals of this citizens' movement. Together we can work for major changes in Chinese society and for the rapid establishment of a free, democratic, and constitutional country. We can bring to reality the goals and ideals that our people have incessantly been seeking for more than a hundred years, and can bring a brilliant new chapter to Chinese civilization.
May this light continue to illuminate the minds of thinking people everywhere and bring to a conclusion the repressive darkness the Chinese government seeks to maintain over one-and-a-half billion people!
May the governments of all other countries and the managers of all enterprises around the globe clearly make the release of LIU XIAOBO and the implementation of the reforms demanded in the Charter 08 a condition for all talks, negotiations, treaties, partnerships, cooperations, business deals, etc. with the government of the P.R. of China claiming to be a representative of the Chinese people!
The Chinese government MUST learn that we will NOT SUPPORT their repression in return for their money.
These universal values are noble goals, the Charter 08 is a noble document, and LIU XIAOBO is a noble human being!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve With the Kids

Malte and Lea got a visit from Santa Claus and a lot of family and a lot of presents...

And even a very short video mememento:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Considered Wishes

May you know and share love and joy in life in the year to come and spread the light of freedom to think and to be wherever you are !

Möget Ihr Liebe und Lebensfreude im kommenden Jahr kennen und teilen und Licht verbreiten, das Licht der Freiheit zu denken und zu sein, wo immer Ihr seid !

Que vous puissiez tous connaître et partager l'amour et la joie de vivre dans l'année à venir et étendre la lumière de la liberté de penser et d'être, où que vous êtes !

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wishing You and Yours ...

12 happy days for Christmas and a whole year of them following filled with the conscious joy of life!
Remember to care about all the other people who live on this planet with us!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Where Do You Think You Can Move to ?

How high above sea-level do you live? how far from the coast? how open out on the plains?
How much sun can you endure? rain? wind? hurricanes?
How big is your bunker? how secure? how well equipped?
How much time do you think is left? enough till your demise? your siblings'? the next generation's?
How much of a luxury do you still consider solidarity to be?

Or are we ALL in this together, on one planet with its limited resources, which will not grow, but to which we must adapt, if we care to survive. Roaches will certainly adapt, but will humans? The former cannot think, the latter can, but will they?


Le Figaro:

À défaut de nouveau traité, un compromis politique pourrait servir de socle à la poursuite des travaux.
«Le train a failli dérailler», déclarait un délégué. «Tenez-vous bien et attention à la fermeture des portières, la voiture repart», lançait de son côté Yvo de Boer, le chef de file de l'ONU pour le climat… Jeudi les participants à la conférence de Copenhague filaient volontiers la métaphore, soulagés de voir que le processus de négociation n'était pas mort. Pour autant, le pessimisme qui avait gangrené le Bella Center la veille était loin d'avoir disparu.
The Guardian:
UN secretariat initial draft shows gap of up to 4.2 gigatonnes of CO2 between present pledges and cuts required to limit rise to 2C.
A rise of 3C would mean up to 170 million more people suffering severe coastal floods and 550 million more at risk of hunger, according to the Stern economic review of climate change for the UK government – as well as leaving up to 50% of species facing extinction. Even a rise of 2C would lead to a sharp decline in tropical crop yields, more flooding and droughts.
Le Monde:
La journée de mercredi avait fini sur une note d'espoir, à la conférence mondiale sur le climat de Copenhague. La matinée de jeudi a paru en revanche mal engagée, jusqu'à ce que les pays en développement et les Danois, qui président aux discussions en tant que pays hôte, se mettent d'accord pour que deux textes restent en négociation : celui fixant des ambitions générales pour l'ensemble des pays de la planète, mais aussi celui prolongeant le protocole de Kyoto, qui fixe des objectifs contraignants de réduction des gaz à effet de serre aux pays développés.
La Reppublica:
Clima, pronta una bozza di accordoOggi l'incontro fra Obama e Jiabao

"Clima positivo" e tante ore di lavoro notturno per cercare con tenacia un accordo sulle misure da prendere per frenare il riscaldamento del pianeta. Negoziati ad oltranza a Copenaghen dove il vertice dell'Onu sul clima è arrivato veramente in dirittura d'arrivo con l'arrivo dei leader. In attesa dell'entrata in scena di Barack Obama, prevista per questa mattina, i capi di Stato e di governo si sono rimboccati le maniche e hanno iniziato a negoziare sul serio, anche attraverso una girandola di colloqui bilaterali che arriveranno al culmine oggi con gli incontri che il presidente americano avrà - qui a Copenaghen - con il premier cinese Wen Jiabao, con il presidente russo Dmitri Medvedev e brasiliano Ignacio Lula da Silva.
The Washington Post:
Yet most analysts have diminished expectations for the document that leaders may ultimately sign Friday. Rather than a formal new treaty, most are expecting a political agreement that would form the basis for a broader, more detailed accord perhaps by mid-2010.
The current emissions cuts that would be incorporated as part of any future pact have come under fire as too weak to curb dangerous global warming. An internal U.N. analysis that surfaced Thursday afternoon predicted that even under the most ambitious targets countries have pledged, future global temperature rise is likely to exceed 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to do something before it is too late. If all people and all nations cannot manage to work together on this, then each individual can forget about trying to protect himself alone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Finally Closing It...

More and more steps are being taken to close Guantánamo, the bushbaby playpen of injustice, and bring the detainees to trial or repatriation.
Just as Obama promised before election and proclaimed immediately after inauguration, this facility and the contradiction to principles of Justice will be eliminated.

U.S. to announce transfer of detainees to Ill. prison (The Washington Post)
CHICAGO -- Dozens of terrorism suspects being held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be moved to a little-used Illinois state prison that will be acquired and upgraded by the federal government, an Obama administration official said.
The critical step toward fulfilling President Obama's pledge to shut the Guantanamo detention center will be announced Tuesday, said the official, who reported that Obama has ordered the acquisition of the eight-year-old Thomson Correctional Center, about 150 miles northwest of Chicago.
Washington (CNN) -- A limited number of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison will be transferred to a prison in Illinois, President Obama will announce Tuesday, a senior administration official said. The exact number is "hard to pin down because categories of detainees may shift. While 100 may be the upper limit, the actual number at well below that (75 or perhaps even less)," said another senior official, who is not authorized to discuss the issue with the media.
Obama and Gitmo: Big steps on policy and politics (USA Today)

"Out of everybody I've talked to, very, very few people are scared," says Todd Baker, owner of a bait shop in Thomson. "Most people are happy to get jobs here There will be more people going to the restaurants, shopping -- and going fishing."
Thomson Mayor Jerry Hebeler says that although "you're not going to satisfy everybody," he thinks most residents' concerns about security when terrorism detainees are moved to the prison have been eased. "I'd never chase jobs if I thought it was going to jeopardize security and safety," he says.
The Obama administration will make the news official later today. Don't know if the president himself will speak, or if the White House will issue some kind of paper announcement. The plan includes federal acquisition of the Thomson, which is currently state-owned.
Throughout his presidency, Obama has said that holding prisoners at Gitmo for indefinite periods of time has undermined America's reputation for fairness in the world, and handed a recruiting tool to al-Qaeda terrorists. In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech last week, he said:

Even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed.
And I say: Action is being taken where it has long been overdue!

Fine Feathered Friend

Well, Malte wants an Indian headdress for Xmas, and Koko has decided to let us use a lot of his feathers shed in the last year, so we're going to spend some handicraft time in the next days to create a war bonnet for our German nephew with a lot of green feathers tinged with red & blue. It should turn out to look at least similar to this Smithsonian exhibition piece.
Once we have some results, latest after Christmas Eve when the kids in Neuenhagen get their presents, we'll post some photographic evidence of our mastery of the craft here.
We're telling him it's an Indian peace-bonnet, connected with peace pipes, as Koko insists, which is also the reason parrots did not often allow the use of their feathers for these creations! But, as Malte is to be an enlightened peaceful creature, Koko was more than willing!
And after lunch, and visiting a department store for some material, this much progress has been made: Now it's time to get to a sewing machine to do the final facing and attach the elastic band for the back. We also have some beads to attach for decoration. Nothing like doing handicrafts for the holidays!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Other Handkerchiefs

... in no particular, and therefore quite substantial, order:

  • two or three arrowheads in a sandbox
  • pinestraw floored forest
  • needles in a pillow
  • flying from the low campus wall
  • nonboxedspaghetti
  • restaurant baby spoon
  • high converting jesus freaks
  • fuck-the-war demo
  • words words words
  • billig
  • talking to a wall
  • mirror mirror everywhere
  • asphalt in the park
  • hold the bottle for me
  • a red chip of concrete
  • which way is home?
  • honey mustard before 9/11
  • the wallet
  • green eyes
  • bethink

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nobel Prize Congratulations ...

... to Herta Müller for the Prize in Literature 2009. Her voice and her WORDS are pillows for those suffering repression.
Here you can read her incredibly moving lecture, in the original German, or in the official Nobel (and I find acceptable) English translation. I have excerpted a couple of passages below, but PLEASE take the time to read her entire talk, for then you will understand why this writer is a true Nobel Prize Laureate.

Jedes Wort weiß etwas vom Teufelskreis
7. Dezember 2009

HAST DU EIN TASCHENTUCH, fragte die Mutter jeden Morgen am Haustor, bevor ich auf die Straße ging. Ich hatte keines. Und weil ich keines hatte, ging ich noch mal ins Zimmer zurück und nahm mir ein Taschentuch. Ich hatte jeden Morgen keines, weil ich jeden Morgen auf die Frage wartete. Das Taschentuch war der Beweis, daß die Mutter mich am Morgen behütet. [...]
Innerhalb einer Woche kam dreimal frühmorgens ein riesengroßer dickknochiger Mann mit funkelnd blauen Augen, ein Koloß vom Geheimdienst in mein Büro. [...]
Das dritte Mal setzte er sich und ich blieb stehen, denn er hatte seine Aktentasche auf meinen Stuhl gelegt. Ich wagte es nicht, sie auf den Boden zu stellen. Er beschimpfte mich als stockdumm, arbeitsfaul, als Flittchen, so verdorben wie eine streunende Hündin. Die Tulpen schob er knapp an den Tischrand, auf die Tischmitte legte er ein leeres Blatt Papier und einen Stift. Er brüllte: Schreiben. Ich schrieb im Stehen, was er mir diktierte – meinen Namen mit Geburtsdatum und Adresse. Dann aber, daß ich unabhängig von Nähe oder Verwandtschaft niemandem sage, daß ich ... jetzt kam das schreckliche Wort: colaborez, daß ich kollaboriere. Dieses Wort schrieb ich nicht mehr. Ich legte den Stift hin und ging zum Fenster, sah auf die staubige Straße hinaus. Sie war nicht asphaltiert, Schlaglöcher und bucklige Häuser. Diese ruinierte Gasse hieß auch noch Strada Gloriei, Straße des Ruhms. Auf der Straße des Ruhms saß eine Katze im nackten Maulbeerbaum. Es war die Fabrikskatze mit dem zerrissenen Ohr. Über ihr eine frühe Sonne wie eine gelbe Trommel. Ich sagte: N-am caracterul, ich hab nicht diesen Charakter. Ich sagte es der Straße draußen. Das Wort CHARAKTER machte den Geheimdienstmann hysterisch. Er zerriß das Blatt und warf die Schnipsel auf den Boden. Wahrscheinlich fiel ihm ein, daß er seinem Chef den Anwerbungsversuch präsentieren muß, denn er bückte sich, sammelte alle Fetzen in die Hand und warf sie in seine Aktentasche. Dann seufzte er tief und warf in seiner Niederlage die Blumenvase mit den Tulpen an die Wand. Sie zerschellte und es knirschte, als wären Zähne in der Luft. Mit der Aktentasche unterm Arm sagte er leis: Dir wird es noch leidtun, wir ersäufen dich im Fluß. Ich sagte wie zu mir selbst: Wenn ich das unterschreibe, kann ich nicht mehr mit mir leben, dann muß ich es selber tun. Besser Sie machen es. Da stand hier die Bürotür schon offen und er war weg. Und draußen auf der Strada Gloriei war die Fabrikskatze vom Baum aufs Hausdach gesprungen. Ein Ast federte wie ein Trampolin. [...]
Kurz vor meiner Emigration aus Rumänien wurde meine Mutter frühmorgens vom Dorfpolizisten abgeholt. Sie war schon am Tor, als ihr einfiel, HAST DU EIN TASCHENTUCH. Sie hatte keines. Obwohl der Polizist ungeduldig war, ging sie noch mal ins Haus zurück und nahm sich ein Taschentuch. Auf der Wache tobte der Polizist. Das Rumänisch meiner Mutter reichte nicht, um sein Geschrei zu verstehen. Dann verließ er das Büro und schloß die Tür von außen ab. Den ganzen Tag saß meine Mutter eingesperrt da. Die ersten Stunden saß sie an seinem Tisch und weinte. Dann ging sie auf und ab und begann mit dem tränennassen Taschentuch den Staub von den Möbeln zu wischen. Dann nahm sie den Wassereimer aus der Ecke und das Handtuch vom Nagel an der Wand und wischte den Boden. Ich war entsetzt, als sie mir das erzählte. Wie kannst Du dem das Büro putzen, fragte ich. Sie sagte, ohne sich zu genieren, ich habe mir Arbeit gesucht, daß die Zeit vergeht. Und das Büro war so dreckig. Gut, daß ich mir eins von den großen Männertaschentüchern mitgenommen hatte. [...]
Ich wünsche mir, ich könnte einen Satz sagen, für alle, denen man in Diktaturen alle Tage, bis heute, die Würde nimmt – und sei es ein Satz mit dem Wort Taschentuch. Und sei es die Frage: HABT IHR EIN TASCHENTUCH.
Kann es sein, daß die Frage nach dem Taschentuch seit jeher gar nicht das Taschentuch meint, sondern die akute Einsamkeit des Menschen.

Every word knows something of a vicious circle
Nobel Lecture
December 7, 2009

DO YOU HAVE A HANDKERCHIEF was the question my mother asked me every morning, standing by the gate to our house, before I went out onto the street. I didn’t have a handkerchief. And because I didn’t, I would go back inside and get one. I never had a handkerchief because I would always wait for her question. The handkerchief was proof that my mother was looking after me in the morning. [...]
Three times in one week a visitor showed up at my office early in the morning: an enormous, thick-boned man with sparkling blue eyes—a colossus from the Securitate. [...]
The third time he sat down but I stayed standing, because he had set his briefcase on my chair. I didn’t dare move it to the floor. He called me stupid, said I was a shirker and a slut, as corrupted as a stray bitch. He shoved the tulips close to the edge of the desk, then put an empty sheet of paper and a pen in the middle of the desktop. He yelled at me: Write. Without sitting down, I wrote what he dictated—my name, date of birth and address. Next, that I would tell no one, no matter how close a friend or relative, that I… and then came the terrible word: colaborez—I am collaborating. At that point I stopped writing. I put down the pen and went to the window and looked out onto the dusty street, unpaved and full of potholes, and at all the humpbacked houses. On top of everything else this street was called Strada Gloriei—Glory Street. On Glory Street a cat was sitting in a bare mulberry tree. It was the factory cat with the torn ear. And above the cat the early morning sun was shining like a yellow drum. I said: N-am caracterul—I don’t have the character for this. I said it to the street outside. The word CHARACTER made the Securitate man hysterical. He tore up the sheet of paper and threw the pieces on the floor. Then he probably realized he would have to show his boss that he had tried to recruit me, because he bent over, picked up the scraps and tossed them into his briefcase. After that he gave a deep sigh and, defeated, hurled the vase with the tulips against the wall. As it shattered it made a grinding sound, as though the air had teeth. With his briefcase under his arm he said quietly: You’ll be sorry, we’ll drown you in the river. I said as if to myself: If I sign that, I won’t be able to live with myself anymore, and I’ll have to do it on my own. So it’s better if you do it. By then the office door was already open and he was gone. And outside on the Strada Gloriei the factory cat had jumped from the tree onto the roof of the building. One branch was bouncing like a trampoline. [...]
Early one morning, shortly before I emigrated from Romania, a village policeman came for my mother. She was already at the gate, when it occurred to her: DO YOU HAVE A HANDKERCHIEF. She didn’t. Even though the policeman was impatient, she went back inside to get a handkerchief. At the station the policeman flew into a rage. My mother’s Romanian was too limited to understand his screaming. So he left the office and bolted the door from the outside. My mother sat there locked up the whole day. The first hours she sat on his desk and cried. Then she paced up and down and began using the handkerchief that was wet with her tears to dust the furniture. After that she took the water bucket out of the corner and the towel off the hook on the wall and mopped the floor. I was horrified when she told me. How can you clean the office for him like that I asked. She said, without embarrassment: I was looking for some work to pass the time. And the office was so dirty. Good thing I took one of the large men’s handkerchiefs with me. [...]
I wish I could utter a sentence for all those whom dictatorships deprive of dignity every day, up to and including the present—a sentence, perhaps, containing the word handkerchief. Or else the question: DO YOU HAVE A HANDKERCHIEF?
Can it be that the question about the handkerchief was never about the handkerchief at all, but rather about the acute solitude of a human being?
- Translated by Philip Boehm

... and congratulations to Barack Obama, whose lecture today accepting the Peace Prize 2009 was an exercise in humility, honesty, determination, and promise. Here the link to the full text, and a couple of excerpts below.
I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations -- that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.
And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who've received this prize -- Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela -- my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women -- some known, some obscure to all but those they help -- to be far more deserving of this honor than I.
But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by 42 other countries -- including Norway -- in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.
Still, we are at war, and I'm responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill, and some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the costs of armed conflict -- filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other. [...]
Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. (Applause.) And we honor -- we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard. [...]
This brings me to a second point -- the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting. [...]
But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached -- their fundamental faith in human progress -- that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.
For if we lose that faith -- if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace -- then we lose what's best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.
Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."
Let us reach for the world that ought to be -- that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. (Applause.)
Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he's outgunned, but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school -- because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child's dreams.
Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress; that's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.
So, this evening, tomorrow, every day, think of those who are subjected to repression and deprived of their rights, who yearn for peace in all its fullness, think of them as individuals, consider a single individual, hungry and determined, sweating and impatient, opening his/her mouth to speak... And LISTEN!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

An Approach Better Than Strategy

Thank you, Hendrik Hertzberg, for explaining cogently in The New Yorker how it is when we only have
Bad Choices:
The Afghanistan strategy:

There are no good options for the United States in Afghanistan. That has been the conventional wisdom for some years now, and this time the conventional wisdom—the reigning cliché—happens to be true. President Obama did not pretend otherwise in his address at West Point last week. [...]
The botched war in Afghanistan, like the economic crisis and the broken health-care system, is an inheritance from which Obama is trying to extricate the country. In each case, the institutional, historical, and political constraints under which a President must operate mean that the solutions—or, if there are no solutions, the ameliorations—are doomed to be nearly as messy as the problems. If there is no Obama Doctrine, there is an Obama approach—undergirded by humane values but also by a respect for reality. The most telling signpost in Obama’s speech may have been neither his call for more troops nor his timeline for removing them but his use of a quotation from another President who inherited a seemingly intractable war: “Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.” That was Dwight D. Eisenhower, in one of the homelier passages from his canonical farewell address, delivered the year Barack Obama was born. President Eisenhower’s point was that a nation’s security is all of a piece—that military actions do not inhabit a separate universe but must be weighed on the same scale, and be subject to the same judgments, as a nation’s other vital concerns. That seems to be President Obama’s point as well. ♦

Learning French ...

... and other languages hexagonally explained, i.e. cloud nine:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

By Special Invitation Only

Thanks to Erich, who invited us to come with him, we had the great pleasure of hearing Rosana live in the Babylon Theater yesterday evening. All I can say is: great voice, great mood, great personality, a lot of fun.
And for those of you who have not yet heard of her....

Lyrics to Para Nada :¿Para qué? Para nada¿Para qué? ¿Para qué? Para nada¿Para qué andar descalza sin rumbo?¿Para qué izar las velas del mundo?¿Para qué? Para nada¿Para qué rebajar la condena?¿Para qué si te mata la pena?¿Para qué? ¿Para qué? Para nada¿Para qué echar perfume a la vida?¿Para qué si te escuece la herida?¿Para qué? Para nada¿Para qué continuar viviendo deprisabuscando la suerte en la mierda que pisas?Te vas a volver a quedar sin volar ¿Para qué?Para nada, para nada¿Para qué? ¿Para qué? Para nada¿Para qué fusilar el olvido?¿Para qué si te pones a tiro?¿Para qué? Para nada¿Para qué una tregua de abrazos?Ni matar ni morir a balazos¿Para qué? ¿Para qué? Para nada¿Para qué continuar viviendo deprisabuscando la suerte en la mierda que pisas?Te vas a volver a quedar sin soñar ¿Para qué?Para nada, para nada¿Para qué? ¿Para qué? Para nadaPara nada, para nada¿Para qué? ¿Para qué?Para nada te vale una vida varadaHoy te toca romper la barajaporque anclado ni subes ni bajasPara ser, para estar, para echar a volarHoy te toca soltar las amarras¿Para qué emborracharte de olvidosi te vas a beber lo vivido?¿Cómo que para qué? Porque puedesY sé que si quieres te sobran la alas¿Cómo qué para nada? ¿Cómo qué para nada?¿Cómo qué para nada? ¿Cómo qué para nada?

and her own site...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Where is Bin Laden?

Where is Bin Laden?

They have no idea. Do you? Does he? Does it matter? Do you want to invite him to Christmas dinner? Bring him to Manhattan for a trial? Or let him die of old age in the wonderfully scenic Afghan-Pakistan mountain region? Let's just leave him in a cave.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

J’apporte les croissants chez Philippe Sollers

France Inter.
Le dimanche 22 novembre dernier au petit matin dans le studio de
Philippe Sollers...

1. Et me voici donc boulevard Port-Royal, dans le 5e arrondissement de Paris... (20’49) Studio : studio d’enregistrement, étude. Un lieu de silence complet. Un peu de poussières...

2. C’est une guerre... Plus personne ne lit (15’55). Tout le monde croit pouvoir écrire...

3. La chance, c’est vraiment le fond du problème (7’29). La Providence. Je regarde beaucoup les arbres et les fleurs.

4. Philippe Joyaux (8’50). Hyde et Jekill. Les IRM. Le dimanche, c’est le jour où je travaille le plus. Je vais jouer. Enfant je reste. La chose littéraire a beaucoup à voir avec la médecine.

Le 5 à 7 du WE (France Inter)

Here, the permanent link to the four sound files of the interview listed above.

And, finally, congratulations to this true writer on his latest birthday last Saturday. It would be glorious if everyone were so young at the age of 73!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do It Right

Trembling about the prospects, leary of the consequences, a modicum of trust in his intelligence and judgement is what I can express for Obama in this strategy to END the involvement in Afghanistan WITHOUT plunging the world or that country into the chaos of unchecked terrorist activity.
May this agenda succeed, may Obama succeed, may the American troops he deploys, and those the governments of Germany, France, Britain, Canada and other countries send or maintain in the fray, all succeed and return home physically unscathed and emotionally and mentally sound.

Obama's Address on the New Strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, December 2, 2009

Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.
To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al-Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government, so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future.
The 30,000 additional troops that I'm announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010, the fastest possible pace, so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers.
Now, let me be clear. None of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an enduring test of our free society and our leadership in the world. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies.
So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict, not just how we wage wars. We'll have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. Where Al Qaida and its allies attempt to establish a foothold -- whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere -- they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.
We'll have to use diplomacy, because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone. I've spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships. And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world, one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.
And, finally, we must draw on the strength of our values, for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not. That's why we must promote our values by living them at home, which is why I've prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation's resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours.
It's easy to forget that, when this war began, we were united, bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. I believe...
I believe with every fiber of my being that we, as Americans, can still come together behind a common purpose, for our values are not simply words written into parchment. They are a creed that calls us together and that has carried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, as one people.
America, we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes.
HERE, you can watch and listen to the speech while following the transcript of the text synched to sound and video, courtesy of The New York Times: Interactive video and transcript of President Obama’s speech at the United States Military Academy.

And here, just the video of the speech at West Point itself: