Thursday, December 30, 2010

When an ex-KGB chief runs a country...

...and controls what the courts do with those who oppose him, it is little wonder that justice is not done. And so, whatever little Med may promise in the way of democratic reform and rule of law and respect for human rights, Russia remains under the iron fist of a master spy. Putin today had his way and had his judge sentence the "oil thief" K to 14 years in prison, meaning he has six more to go as he's already been in for 7+.
We had all better wake up and start screaming incessantly at all those countries and leaders trampling on justice and denying human rights to their citizens! It's a bad wave of devastating machinations that's rolling over the globe!

Russian tycoon Khodorkovsky sentenced to 14 years, signaling Putin hard line
The Washington Post, by Kathy Lally, Thursday, December 30, 2010
Although the conviction had been considered inevitable because of Putin's animosity toward Khodorkovsky, the length of the sentence was seen as an indication of whether Putin would permit the liberalization and rule of law that President Dmitry A. Medvedev has been endorsing.
The maximum sentence of 14 years seemed a resounding no to that question. It means Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, who were already serving eight years on related tax charges, will remain behind bars until 2017, with credit for time served.
"The full sentence of 14 years would indicate the end of Medvedev's modernization," Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said as the trial was drawing to a close. "You cannot talk about liberalization when the rule of law is so shamefully betrayed."

Shame indeed! Schande! Honte!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday Evening New Snow

It was still falling as we took this photo; by morning, well, you can imagine.

Monday, December 27, 2010

In Defense of an Oil Baron?

Is it necessary to protest against the guilty verdict announced by a Russian court against Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Moscow today? After all, he is super wealthy, certainly took advantage of every possibility to line his pockets available, but he is an opponent of Putin and has already been in prison for seven years awaiting the outcome of this trial on charges of embezzlement. Mr. Putin, only a few days ago, called him "a thief who belongs in jail", which is quite an impartial pronouncement from a Russian premier only a few day prior to the (postponed, for that reason?) announcement of the verdict.
Now we can all wait who knows how long for the other shoe to drop: the sentence, which will be the next indication of whether justice in Russia is possible these days.
Mr. Putin had earlier, back in 2000, warned Mikhail that he could keep his holdings if he did not interfere with the Kremlin and stayed out of politics. Mikhail Khodorkovsky did not stay out of politics and has therefore been staying in prison for quite some time.
Mr. Medvedev should sieze the opportunity to demonstrate the capacity of Russia to achieve and promote justice with independent courts, or, if necessary, with a presidential pardon or commutation of the sentence, whenever it finally comes.
And when WikiLeaks releases documents on the involvment of prosecution and judges in this case with Putin and his election and governmental machine, I will be sure to read them and all analyses true journalists provide of them.
Come on, Mother Russia, join the world of justice!

Imprisoned Russian Oil Tycoon Is Convicted Again
The New York Times, by CLIFFORD J. LEVY and ANDREW E. KRAMER, Published: December 27, 2010
Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky was found guilty Monday on embezzlement charges in a case seen as a sign of the Kremlin’s control of the justice system.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Intentionally Unbalanced News

Hungary's draconian new law to control and punish any media reports considered by an autonomous and unchecked board composed of members of the governing nationalist party to be objectionable, immoral, or not presenting a balanced view is contrary to all important aspects of the human right to freedom of expression! They have not even attempted to define the vague terms you can be charged with violaton of, and are rightly criticized for heading in the direction of totalitarian states and dictatorships in curtailment of freedom of the press. The aptest comparison is with the mustached dictatorship in White Russia.
Unfortunately, Hungary has the rotating presidency of the EU for the coming six months, and the recourse of Hungarians and Europeans concerned with freedom and democracy is an appeal to the European Court to strike down the Hungarian law and remind them that only states committed to human rights and democracy may be members of the European Union.
As this brief account is intentionally unbalanced, since I have no intention of considering any reasons for infringement on freedom of expression here, I do indeed hope Hungary will join China in blocking acces to my blog. That would be an honor.

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary's parliament passed legislation on Tuesday to tighten government control over news outlets which media watchdogs say is arbitrary and ill-defined.
The new National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH), dominated by people loyal to the ruling Fidesz party, will oversee all public news production and its powers will include levying big fines on private media that violate the law.
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn criticised the move in an interview with Reuters in Germany, saying the European Commission must take swift action against it.
"The plans clearly violate the spirit and the letter of EU treaties," Asselborn said, adding: "It raises the question whether such a country is worthy of leading the EU."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The New Universal Enemy

For all of those paranoid individuals, tea-drunken simplistic partiers, not-with-me-is-against-me antagonists, and others who just can't face themselves in a mirror without a scapegoat to blame for everything they don't like, we in Berlin have discovered the new universal enemy, the source of all terroristic disruptions, the fundamentalist of all times, the factor everyone must look under their beds to find, the one thing responsible for whatever doesn't work, the reason the trains, buses, trams, planes cannot transport us anymore, the threat to our modern day civilization, way of life, apple pie, and motherhood, the demon of the evil axis, the axis of evil itself ...


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ask Me, and I'll Tell You ...

Glad that my homeland, despite paling tea parties, is creeping slowly into the Twenty-first Century. Finally, gays who serve in the military do not have to hide to defend their country.

The Washington Post:

"The U.S. military will for the first time in history allow gays to serve openly after the Senate voted Saturday to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," the policy that has required such troops to hide their sexual identity or risk being expelled from the services."

The next step is to recognize gay union/marriage throughout the country, and then, for everyone, to make sure that the military will be made ever more unnecessary by achieving true and stable world peace.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just so you don't believe there's not any more ...

... SNOW in Berlin, here's a slide show beginning December 1 with the last mobile shot taken this morning on the way to an appointment.

News, Some Good, Some Bad, Some Absurd

Let's give the good news first. The House has voted to REPEAL the DADT regulation for the US military. Now it is time for the Senate also to acknowledge that you can defend your country whoever you may happen to prefer as a sex partner!

House votes again to end 'don't ask, don't tell'
By Ed O'Keefe Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, December 15, 2010; 11:16 PM
House lawmakers on Wednesday again approved a bill to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law, delivering renewed momentum to the years-long campaign to end the ban on gays in the military ahead of a possible Senate vote next week.
Next, there is indeed some very bad news, the continuing effort of the US government to block WikiLeaks. This is no terrorist organization; quite the contrary, it is dedicated to making available to all any information that is left in the open by any organization anywhere. That there is so much from the US and so little from other countries indicates no bias, but rather that the US is perhaps much laxer about how many people get to read all those things they don't want anyone to read.
I continue to maintain that the information I have attained via the research that Le Monde, The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel have done on those leaked documents is all news that I find important to know and wish I had had access to sooner. Perhaps the bushbaby wouldn't have been able to start an illegal war in Iraq if such had flooded the media back then! Even more alarming is the news that Pentagon computers and military branch computers are now blocking access to sites reporting from those files, such as The New York Times. I wonder if they include The Guardian (British after all) or recognize what's in El Pais. These efforts remind me very disturbingly of what China does to censor the internet and to block its citizens access to information and their right to express their opinions. Protecting freedoms against the encroachment of exaggerated security concerns is one of the reasons I voted for you, Mr. Obama, so do something NOW to stop this encroachment on freedom of speech!
by Charles Savage, The New York Times, Dec. 15,2010
Since WikiLeaks began making public large caches of classified United States government documents this year, Justice Department officials have been struggling to come up with a way to charge Mr. Assange with a crime. Among other things, they have studied several statutes that criminalize the dissemination of restricted information under certain circumstances, including the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986.
But while prosecutors have used such laws to go after leakers and hackers, they have never successfully prosecuted recipients of leaked information for passing it on to others — an activity that can fall under the First Amendment’s strong protections of speech and press freedoms.
And the last bit is a ridiculous item about fundamentalists again banning art. What is alarming this time is that the fundamentalists are Catholics and that they are banning art in Washington, DC, while skipping out on the discussion about that art in New York City. No religion has the right to determine what is art, nor do they have the right to block anyone's access to any form of expression. Let them preach from their own pulpits, pound on their own altars, raise their voices from their own minarets, but leave me free to look at whatever I want to, even a picture of a man from Nazareth or one from Medina/Mecca covered with anything they may find objectionable.
The Washington Post
Local arts activists led a protest march from the Transformer art space at 14th and P streets NW to the National Portrait Gallery, where officials recently removed a work of video art depicting Christ with ants crawling over him after complaints from a Catholic organization and members of Congress.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Snowman is living and working in Berlin these days!

not only in the mountains, my friends, but also in the city of Berlin

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Human Rights Day 2010

Yesterday was Human Rights Day, this years theme was the fight to end discrimination.

Fittingly for this day, LIU XIAOBO was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in absentia. He is a determined fighter for human rights and reminds us that the basis of human rights in general is freedom of expression.

I salute Liu Xiaobo as well as all others who struggle for human rights. We, in democracies, have it easier to protect those rights we have, even when they may at times be infringed upon; but the truly courageous are those who live in countries that imprison them for demanding human rights. Incarcerating, torturing, impeding someone who is merely trying freely to speak or write his opinion is an unconscienable act under any system anywhere. We humans all have bodies subject to pain and spirits that are only human because we can freely think and speak; this is why human rights are universal-

Thursday, December 9, 2010


You, too, can sign this appeal to demand China not only to free the Nobel Peace Prize winner 2010 Liu Xiaobo, but also to honor him!

Here, the text of the appeal from the internationales literaturfestival berlin, followed by the English and German links to the site where you can sign :

Appeal for Freedom for Liu Xiaobo

The internationales literaturfestival berlin appeals for a signing of this letter and a worldwide reading on 20th March 2011 of the ‘Charter 08’ and the poem ‘You wait for me with Dust’ by Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 2010.
Liu Xiaobo is currently the world’s only winner of the Nobel Peace Prize still held in detention. In 2009, after co-authoring ‘Charter 08’, a manifesto calling for greater freedoms and democracy in China, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to eleven years in prison on a spurious charge of “inciting subversion of state power”. His continued imprisonment is a basic breach of human rights, and also a violation of China’s own constitution where Article 35 states that “Citizens of
the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration”.
1936 was the last time neither the winner, German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, nor any of his family members, could go to Oslo to collect the Nobel Peace Prize. They were all barred from leaving Nazi Germany. This historical comparison should disturb the Chinese government. China has made extraordinary economic progress over the last few decades. The country is now the world’s second largest economy, and a powerful player on the global stage.
China is rightly proud of these achievements, but it should also value democracy.
The preamble to ‘Charter 08’ states that “Chinese citizens are becoming increasingly aware that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values shared by all humankind, and that democracy, republicanism, and constitutional government make up the basic institutional framework of modern politics. A “modernization” bereft of these universal values and this basic political framework is a disastrous process that deprives people of their rights, rots away their humanity, and destroys their dignity. Where is China headed in the 21st century? Will it continue with this “modernization” under authoritarian rule, or will it endorse universal values, join the mainstream civilization, and build a democratic form of government?”
Now is China’s chance to take a magnanimous step towards democracy. China can do this immediately – by showing pride that one of its citizens, Liu Xiaobo, has received the world’s greatest award in recognition of a struggle to uphold human rights. This award should be an honour for China, too.
In 2005, Liu Xiaobo wrote:
“Didn't they say that China was in a golden moment of historical peak, and that the state of human rights is at the very best? Didn't they say that the present government wants to treat "the people as the foundation" in order to build a "harmonious society"? Then why is the government which has built the golden and almighty China so panicky? Why in this "harmonious society" in which "the people are the foundation" are I and other dissidents treated like trash to be stomped upon? Why must the "harmonious society" be constructed only with police officers posted at stations?”
It does not befit a great country to denounce the Nobel Peace Prize, expand the restrictive security net around a peace laureate to include his friends and relatives, and persuade foreign diplomats to boycott the prize ceremony. Since the prize announcement, there has been no let-up in the harassment of Liu’s family and supporters, and all others attempting free speech activities in China. Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, is under house arrest. Several Chinese human rights activists have been prevented from leaving the country in case they go to Oslo, and Liu’s brothers are pessimistic about their chances of being able to travel in his place.
Chinese citizens make up one fifth of the world’s population. Liu Xiaobo’s case is not the story of one man: he is a symbol of the aspirations and treatment of 1.3 billion people.
The call for worldwide readings of ‘Charter 08’, and Liu Xiaobo’s poem ‘You Wait for me with Dust’, signify support for the campaigner, and a call for his release from prison.
A courageous activist all his life, Liu Xiaobo once wrote that “in a dictatorial country, open letters signed by individuals or groups form an important method for the civilians to resist dictatorship and fight for freedom.” And so we, citizens of the world, sign this appeal – some with our names, and many, many more with our voices, which will be raised on 20th March 2011 to read Liu’s words – and show solidarity with him, and others in China, who are not free to say what they want.
We will continue to speak up until there is an end to the unjust incarceration of Liu Xiaobo, and others like him.


English language site for signing the appeal
I have signed it and would be very pleased if everyone else who reads it does the same!

The World Has Become Snow

A week ago today it started snowing, and now it shows no sign of stopping ever again!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Countries Against the Nobel Peace Prize

Caving in to pressure from the People's (!) Republic (!) of China, 18 additional countries have declined invitations to attend the ceremony in Oslo to present
the award in a couple of days. Of course, HIS chair will also remain empty, because China continues to hold the
in prison and keeps his wife under arrest, forbidding her to attend as well. China has warned his relatives not to attend, and has already hindered many of his supporters attempting to leave the country, perhaps to be in Oslo in a couple of days.
Most shameful, after the utter shame China itself has, is the announcement of Navi Pillay, UN Human Rights Commissioner, of South African origin, that whe will not attend. That's what I call standing up for Human Rights, lady! Shame on you!
Russia, Pakistan, Saudi-Arabia, Kasachstan, Columbia, Tunesia, Serbia, Iraq (!), Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan (!), Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Sudan, Ukraine, Cuba, and Morocco prefer to bow to the Chinese tramplers of human rights, thus share the shame of China, claiming that the author of
Charter 08
is a common criminal.
Well, then, I'm a common criminal, too, because I believe
very much deserves this prize, is a shining example of civil courage against dictators and violators of human rights, and I would very much like to go to Oslo and watch the ceremony. There will be 19 empty seats for countries snubbing the Nobel Peace Prize, one from the UN, so there would be more than enough room. The most horrid empty chair will be the one
should occupy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Leadership for Europe!

Finally someone has said what is all too obvious: the apprentices running around with the mantle of government positions casually and stylishly draped over their shoulders are none too sure what they need to do, for Europe or their individual countries. And indeed, the tasks are the same for both; what is good the European Union is all that is good for any individual member country.
Now former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has spoken up and put his finger in the wound of dilettantism. Here, a few excerpts in English, followed by the links to the original English version of the interview with David Marsh and the German and English translations.

Schmidt: Leadership wanted in Europe

I would say that, in general, Europe lacks leaders. It lacks people in high positions in the national states or in the European institutions with sufficient overview of domestic and international questions and sufficient power of judgment.
Additionally, the present German government is composed of people who are learning their business on the job. They have no previous experience in world political affairs or in world economic affairs. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is a man whom I wish well and for whom I have great personal respect. He well understands budgetary and taxation problems. But when it comes to international money markets or capital markets or the banking system or the supervision of banks or shadow banks, this is all new to him. The same goes for [Chancellor Angela] Merkel. This is not to say anything negative about Schäuble or anything negative about Merkel, but we need people in high office who understand the economic world of today.
One very important figure was [former European Commission President] Jacques Delors . He has been replaced by people whose name one doesn’t really know. And the same goes for permanent secretaries and the chairmen of various commissions and for prime ministers and — what is his name — [European Council President Herman] Van Rompuy? And he has a so-called foreign secretary — a British lady, her name is not necessary to know either. The same goes, more or less, for the European Parliament. The only figure who sticks out in the European institutions is [European Central Bank President Jean-Claude] Trichet. I’m not sure how strong he is inside the European Central Bank, But, as far as I can see, he hasn’t made a major mistake so far.
One of the weakest points in the global economy is that there is no control of the behavior of financial managers. You can divide mankind into three categories. In the first category are normal people like you and me. We may have once stolen an apple from a neighbor’s trees when we were boys, or we may have taken a bar of chocolate from a supermarket without paying for it. But otherwise we are dependable, normal human beings. Then secondly you have a small category of people with a criminal character. And thirdly you have investment bankers. That includes all the dealers and the deal makers. They all sail under different names, but they’re all the same.

Helmut Schmidt im Interview: „Im tiefsten Herzen sind die Bundesbanker Reaktionäre“ (bei am 07.12.2010 veröffentlicht)

Entretien avec Helmut Schmidt, ancien chancelier allemand (1974-1982) : "L'Europe manque de dirigeants"

For Venice

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Was it a wicker chair that leaked?

Germany's make-believe Foreign Minister Westernwave claimed he would pay no attention to the leaks about him being arrogant, aggressive, and incompetent, but ended up so pissed that he fired his office manager for talking to the US ambassador in Berlin, which was the man's job at that time as "party liaison with foreign representatives". Angela Merkel is so very teflon that she brought a cartoon about her being labled the teflon chancellor by wicker leaks and laughed about it with her arrogant vice-chancellor and foreign minister during a meeting of parliament, which she considers disturbing and unimportant, because they debate what she had already decided to have her ministers do.

I've actually not heard anything about any of the German politicians portrayed in those cables between the Berlin embassy and Washington that is not, I believe, entirely true and which I did not already think myself, as well as do most of the people I know.
And about Berlusconi and Sarkozy, well that was also all old news. That Qadaffi let nuclear material lie around in the desert without any supervision also doesn't really suprise me either, and I think it's good that we got to know about it.

Actually I don't really see what everybody (especially Hillary) got all upset about, although the wicker chair should concentrate on the dictators and commando countries around the world some, such as China, Iran, N.Korea, even Russia, because they should really use a lot more exposure. I'd like to know what those jerks say among themselves about officials in the rest of the world, where free speech is an essential right!

Consider this tidbit The New York Times reports from the wicker chair leaks about China:

Cables Discuss Vast Hacking by a China That Fears the Web
As China ratcheted up the pressure on Google to censor its Internet searches last year, the American Embassy sent a secret cable to Washington detailing why top Chinese leaders had become so obsessed with the Internet search company: they were Googling themselves.
The May 18, 2009, cable, titled “Google China Paying Price for Resisting Censorship,” quoted a well-placed source as saying that Li Changchun, a member of China’s top ruling body, the Politburo Standing Committee, and the country’s senior propaganda official, was taken aback to discover that he could conduct Chinese-language searches on Google’s main international Web site. When Mr. Li typed his name into the search engine at, he found “results critical of him.”
That cable from American diplomats was one of many made public by WikiLeaks that portray China’s leadership as nearly obsessed with the threat posed by the Internet to their grip on power — and, the reverse, by the opportunities it offered them, through hacking, to obtain secrets stored in computers of its rivals, especially the United States.
Extensive Chinese hacking operations, including one leveled at Google, are a central theme in the cables. The hacking operations began earlier and were aimed at a wider array of American government and military data than generally known, including attacks on computers of American diplomats preparing positions on a climate change treaty.
One cable, dated early this year, quoted a Chinese person with family connections to the elite as saying that Mr. Li himself directed an attack on Google’s servers in the United States, though that claim has been called into question. In an interview with The New York Times, the person cited in the cable said that Mr. Li personally led a campaign against Google’s operations in China but that to his knowledge had no role in the hacking attack.
The cables catalog the heavy pressure that was placed on Google to comply with local censorship laws, as well as Google’s willingness to comply — up to a point. That coercion began building years before the company finally decided to pull out of China last spring in the wake of the successful hacking attack on its home servers, which yielded Chinese dissidents’ e-mail accounts as well as Google’s proprietary source code.
The cables also reveal that a surveillance system dubbed Ghostnet that stole information from the computers used by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and South Asian governments and was uncovered in 2009 was linked to a second broad series of break-ins into American government computers code-named Byzantine Hades. Government investigators were able to make a “tenuous connection” between those break-ins and the People’s Liberation Army.
The documents also reveal that in 2008 German intelligence briefed American officials on similar attacks beginning in 2006 against the German government, including military, economic, science and technology, commercial, diplomatic, and research and development targets. The Germans described the attacks as preceding events like the German government’s meetings with the Chinese government.

Quite honestly, I'm glad to know, and to know that the whole world (with the exception of those living in China) knows about the disgusting trampling on free information and opinion that China perpetrates!

Let's here the shenanigans of Putin's new Russian secret police as well.

Keep that wicker chair rocking, and just remember that people have always some day found out when you say something "bad" even if true about someone else!

And then enjoy this great song and dance number cartoon by Mark Fiore about the loss of diplomatic secrecy.

Have fun, and don't forget to watch those gaps in your wicker chair.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Here we go again ...

It snowed a lot last night, the tram was already late and slow, and the S-Bahn, the by now nearly eternal problem child of Berlin mass transit managed to do a great DISSERVICE to all commuters. Only because I go the other way around on the ring than recommended could I get in the train at all, and that was the last station that everyone waiting managed to board. Two stations later, no one else could fit into the train and there must have been a 5-6 person deep mob lining the entire edge of the platform - a wonder no one fell in the gap. It took me 65 minutes in the S-Bahn for a stretch that normally takes 20-25 minutes. But then I'm an early bird and still managed to arrive on time. (Normally I'm a good thirty minutes early.) On the way home I could also shoot some cell phone pics of nicer scenery, as well as out our window only a few minutes ago.
And it's only December 2 !

**** UPDATE, Saturday, December 4: It's now official. The S-Bahn only managed to have HALF (52%) of its operating stock on the rails yesterday, which was an "improvement" from Thursday! Only 32% were "on time", which doesn't make clear that those that were late were sometimes more than one hour late! And before it got cold and snowed, the S-Bahn management promised they had everything under control and prepared so that what happened last winter wouldn't happen this winter. Well, they've broken their promise again!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thinkerly Thinking

  • Questioning
  • Detachment from beings
  • Contemplation of Being
  • No-ing, no-ment, nothingness=Being
  • Attunement to the tuning of Being
  • Inception without causation
  • Ab-grounding rather than effecting
  • Poetry
  • Taciturnity
  • Being ises Being.
  • Thinking is thanking.

Look and think about ....

Friday, November 26, 2010

In Berlin it's WHITE Friday...

Temperatures hovering around 0°C (32°F) and dropping as the first dusting of snow of the season has transformed the fir trees at our balcony.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving !

If I had a pumpkin and if I had some real sweet potatoes, I would do this today. Perhaps I will see what my local supermarket has to offer, as it is not at all easy here to make anything close to the traditional American Thanksgiving treats, but I'd love to bake a pumpkin pie for this evening after work, since we sure will not be having turkey anywhere during the day that my American friends and relatives observe with family and friends and full bellies at home on holiday today.

• 1 (2 1/2-pound / good 1 kilo) pumpkin (or half of a 5 pound / 2.5 kilo pumpkin)
• 1 pound (ca. 500 grams) sweet potatoes
• 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
• 1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
• 3 eggs
• 2 egg yolks
• 2 cup (480 ml) light brown sugar, packed and leveled
• 3/4 cup (180 ml) Steen's cane syrup
• 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon (approximately 1/4 of a pod) freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
• 9-inch flaky pie crusts
• 1/4 cup (60 ml) cinnamon sugar, to top
• 1/4 cup (60 ml) raw sugar, to top
• Sweetened whipped cream (optional), for garnish
1. Quarter pumpkin and scoop out seeds. Roast pumpkin and sweet potatoes in a 350-degree F oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until sweet potatoes are soft in the center. After cooling, peel off and discard the pumpkin skin and puree meat in a blender or food processor. Peel the sweet potatoes and puree as well. Combine pumpkin and sweet potato purees with the heavy cream and milk.
2. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, cane syrup, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and white pepper.
3. Blend pumpkin and spice mixtures and divide between two 9-inch pie crusts. Sprinkle tops of pies liberally with cinnamon sugar and raw sugar.
4. Bake at 325° F (ca. 165° C) for 45 to 55 minutes, or until pumpkin filling is set. Allow to cool for 1 to 2 hours and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled, with sweetened whipped cream if desired.
[Source: "delish"]

Enjoy your holiday or working day everybody!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thinking of Fear of Fear

Well, we're supposed to be afraid, shivering in our boots, trembling every time we see a backpack, suitcase, briefcase on the bus, subway, tram, train. There are machine-gun toting policemen roaming the central train station, the Christmas markets that just opened today, the major squares in town. They have closed access to the dome of the Reichstag for visitors. And they keep telling everyone not to panic.
Today, they say, is the day when the danger of a terrorist strike in Berlin (and Germany on the whole) becomes REAL. So they hike up the threat level and the police presence, and the police union has already said they are over the limit, can't manage any more, need help. And the Innenminister call for just-in-case storage of online and phone and mobile data, again, even though there last effort to enact such was struck down by the Constitutional Court.
A train has been evacuated, a couple of railway stations, and who knows what else by now, because the citizens, not in a panic, are reporting everything they see standing around anywhere.
And this is the day on which JFK was assassinated in 1963; I'm still waiting for the conspiracy theory that links today with that.
Anyhow, I've ridden bus, tram, subway already today, and now I'll just stay in, not for fear of terror, but because it's a nastily rainy day outside.
Have they checked the contents of those Xmas trees on the markets? and the ginger bread? and the stockings and wool hats? What about those Xmas caroussels? all that Glühwein (spiced wine)? And those candied nuts, apples, hearts? There may be a Scrooge at work here somewhere.

"Oder ist die Versagung das verborgenste Wort? [...]
Und doch sind wir die Brücke selbst zwischen dem Seienden und dem Seyn."
[MH:GA Bd.74, I, Die Sage, §9, S.11]

Meanwhile, over in the US, they're patting everyone down for their trip home for Thanksgiving!

Lets just tell those against our way of life that we have no intention - ever - of giving it up!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Never forget how good, how great, how beautiful, how unique, how spectacular YOU are!

The real crime these days is that anyone is made to feel unworthy because of his/her sexuality. It is shameful for the US and every other country where gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders face discrimination that their societies have remained so bigotted, biased, backwards, and brutal.

WAKE UP and THINK. We are all in this together!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Freedom for Nobel Peace Prize Winner(s)!

Now that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been freed from "house arrest" in Myanmar/Burma and has appropriately enough, as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, called for unity in her country and democracy and respect for human rights, it is time for that other trampler of human rights and democracy, China, to free another, more recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo!

May the Burmese acknowledge the need, the urgent need, for basic human rights and no longer threaten this political activist, but instead move forward in allowing information, access to information, freedom of expression, and respect for the people.

I would like to see a seminar, live-streamed on the web, of all living winners of the Nobel Peace Prize on the importance of the rights to life, liberty, and freedom of expression. No moderation should be necessary.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Result of a test...

As a result of testing some ebook readers for a journalist friend who is to do a feature on them and needed some guinea pigs to interview about their experience with these slick devices, I have begun to wonder how they will yellow, why they don't have pleasant smells dependent on the country of their publication, why Mark Twain looks exactly like William Shakespeare, and why the pads don't respond to fingers that have been outside in the real autumn world.
I suppose I am simply glad to be paper bound, still write with ink myself in a paper notebook when it truly matters, enjoy the different weights sizes feels scents typefaces of that fabulous innovation called BOOK.
And can truly recommend this video assessment of that invention, in Spanish with English subtitles, but intuitively comprehensible, genial and ingenious. Take the time to watch, enjoy ...

... and now go read a book!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11, 1918 / 1940 /1944

Do not forget why this date became "Veterans' Day" and remember what it means to defend freedom against tyranny!
Celebration of November 11 in Paris in 1944, video at this link.
Remember Armistice Day, the day the Germans finally surrender in the "War to end all wars"!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

They're not going to like it...

... and probably don't care about drinking tea at all. Instead of being so stubbornly hateful and backward in their semblance of thinking, they should rather contemplate the proper use of the tea they claim to party with.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

First World problems are the trick; the treat remains a mere possibility...

With thanks to a couple of my favorite nyc monsters, joey & rachel...

Thursday, October 28, 2010


The costumes and masks are real this year: the abominable Sarah-Palin-Baked-Alaska nasaling at the podium and tea-party racists holding out their pinky fingers while kicking back the beer.

Trick or treat means:
reversal of progress at the monsters' behest or the timid continuation of efforts to modernize a country in the grips of religious and ideological fundamentalism. The monsters are afraid and becoming ever more frightening. It's time to drive them out this Halloween, not only in the US, but in Germany, France, Italy, The Netherlands as well, which are only those lands that immediately occur to me where similar hate-and-fear-mongering tactics are at work these days.

In the US, the pumpkin will rot or bloom two days after Halloween.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Festival of Lights

Just a few snapshots of only a few sights only a few minutes from our doorstep...

Friday, October 22, 2010

A President Who Cares!

Thank you, President Obama, for these wise words and this sorely needed solace for those mocked for their sexuality. And hopefully, those whose sense of self-worth rests only on the crumbly foundation of demeaning others will consider that perhaps THEY are the ones who should be ostracized!
Moreover, Mr. Obama, it is time for you to do all possible in the federal sector to grant equal rights to LGBT citizens, especially, rescind DADT!

Here the text of Mr. Obama's brief remarks from October 21 and a video of the same...

Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the deaths of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives. As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart. It's something that just shouldn't happen in this country.
We've got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage -- that it's some inevitable part of growing up. It's not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all of our kids. And to every young person out there you need to know that if you're in trouble, there are caring adults who can help.
I don't know what it's like to be picked on for being gay. But I do know what it's like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don't belong. It's tough. And for a lot of kids, the sense of being alone or apart -- I know can just wear on you. And when you're teased or bullied, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself -- for being different, or for not fitting in with everybody else.
But what I want to say is this. You are not alone. You didn't do anything wrong. You didn't do anything to deserve being bullied. And there is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. And so, if you ever feel like because of bullying, because of what people are saying, that you're getting down on yourself, you've got to make sure to reach out to people you trust. Whether it's your parents, teachers, folks that you know care about you just the way you are. You've got to reach out to them, don't feel like you're in this by yourself.
The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. And more than that, with time you're going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. You'll look back on the struggles you've faced with compassion and wisdom. And that's not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this country a better place.
It will mean that you'll be more likely to help fight discrimination -- not just against LGBT Americans, but discrimination in all its forms. It means you'll be more likely to understand personally and deeply why it's so important that as adults we set an example in our own lives and that we treat everybody with respect. That we are able to see the world through other people's eyes and stand in their shoes so that we never lose sight of what binds us together.
As a nation we're founded on the belief that all of us are equal and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness; to make the most of our talents; to speak our minds; to not fit in; most of all, to be true to ourselves. That's the freedom that enriches all of us. That's what America is all about. And every day, it gets better.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Notwendige Wiederholung // Necessary Repetition

Aus der aktuellen Debatte leite ich die Notwendigkeit ab, einen alten Aufsatz hier wieder zu verlinken. Es geht um die "Leitkultur", und sie tut mir auch sehr leid.

Übrigens tut es der Zeit auch leid, dass dieser Begriff wieder ausgegraben wurde!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Enfance et jeunesse d’un écrivain français

The new issue of L'Infini has arrived, no. 112, and contains more worth (re)reading than most bookshops.

One piece well worth it is the joint conference of Kristeva and Sollers at the Collège des Bernardins on last June 29. This link also provides audio files of the same.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Can Never Happen ...

Only death can conclusively happen, but it can, paradoxically, never happen to ME, as I then will no longer BE there, since my being-there is into death, but halted by it, so death can never happen to my being-there, only to my having-been-there, which is also an eternal presence, spawned not out of the past, but out of the FUTURE. It is so wonderful that we can think.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Me, Too!

Successful gay foreign, and I read a lot of books.
Erfolgreicher schwuler Ausländer, und ich lese auch viele Bücher.
Étranger pédé couronné du succès, et je lis beaucoup de livres.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo

A wonderful decision for peace and human rights was made today as the Nobel Peace Prize Committee decided to award the prize this year to
Liu Xiaobo
China is now attempting to prevent its inhabitants (I refrain from calling then citizens) from learning of this wonderful honor for a Chinese dissident fighting for the rights of all Chinese people in that so-called People's Republic of commando capitalists.
He has been imprisoned again since the end of last year, and his wife received the news, is now herself subject to Chinese efforts to prevent her from communicating with the press. Ms. Liu told Agence France Presse, "I strongly ask that the Chinese government release Liu Xiaobo. I want to thank everyone for supporting Liu Xiaobo. I want to thank the Nobel committee, Vaclav Havel, the Dalai Lama and all those people that have supported Liu Xiaobo." Later, she told Reuters, "They are forcing me to leave Beijing. They want me to go to Liaoning to see Xiaobo. They want to distance me from the media."

Here is the FINAL STATEMENT Liu Xiaobo published on December 23, 2009, before he was imprisoned once more:

June 1989 was the major turning point in my 50 years on life’s road. Before that, I was a member of the first group of students after restoration of the college entrance examination after the Cultural Revolution (1977); my career was s smooth ride from undergraduate to grad student through to Ph.D.
After graduation I stayed on as a lecturer at Beijing Normal University. On the podium, I was a popular teacher, well received by students. I was at the same time a public intellectual. In the 1980s I published articles and books that created an impact, was frequently invited to speak in various places, and was invited to go abroad to Europe and the U.S. as a visiting scholar. What I required of myself was: both as a person and in my writing, I had to live with honesty, responsibility and dignity.
Subsequently, because I had returned from the U.S. to take part in the 1989 movement, I was imprisoned for “counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement to crime,” losing the platform which was my passion; I was never again allowed publish or speak in public in China. Simply for expressing divergent political views and taking part in a peaceful and democratic movement, a teacher loses his podium, a writer loses the right to publish, and a public intellectual loses the chance to speak publicly, which is a sad thing, both for myself as an individual, and for China after three decades of reform and opening up.
Thinking about it, my most dramatic experiences after June Fourth have all linked with courts; the two opportunities I had to speak in public have been provided by trials held in the People’s Intermediate Court in Beijing, one in January 1991 and one now. Although the charges on each occasion were different, they were in essence the same, both being crimes of expression.
Twenty years on, the innocent souls of June Fourth do not yet rest in peace, and I, who had been drawn into the path of dissidence by the passions of June Fourth, after leaving the Qincheng Prison in 1991, lost in the right to speak openly in my own country, and could only do so through overseas media, and hence was monitored for many years; placed under surveillance (May 1995 – January 1996); educated through labor (October 1996 – October 1999), and now once again am thrust into the dock by enemies in the regime.
But I still want to tell the regime that deprives me of my freedom, I stand by the belief I expressed twenty years ago in my “June Second Hunger Strike Declaration” — I have no enemies, and no hatred. None of the police who have monitored, arrested and interrogated me, the prosecutors who prosecuted me, or the judges who sentence me, are my enemies. While I’m unable to accept your surveillance, arrest, prosecution or sentencing, I respect your professions and personalities, including Zhang Rongge and Pan Xueqing who act for the prosecution at present. I was aware of your respect and sincerity in your interrogation of me on December 3.
For hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy. I hope therefore to be able to transcend my personal vicissitudes in understanding the development of the state and changes in society, to counter the hostility of the regime with the best of intentions, and defuse hate with love.
As we all know, reform and opening up brought about development of the state and change in society. In my view, it began with abandoning “taking class struggle as the key link,” which had been the ruling principle of the Mao era. We committed ourselves instead to economic development and social harmony. The process of abandoning the “philosophy of struggle” was one of gradually diluting the mentality of enmity, eliminating the psychology of hatred, and pressing out the “wolf’s milk” in which our humanity had been steeped. It was this process that provided a relaxed environment for the reform and opening up at home and abroad, for the restoration of mutual love between people, and soft humane soil for the peaceful coexistence of different values and different interests, and thus provided the explosion of popular creativity and the rehabilitation of warmheartedness with incentives consistent with human nature.
Externally abandoning “anti-imperialism and anti-revisionism,” and internally, abandoning “class struggle” may be called the basic premise of the continuance of China’s reform and opening up to this day. The market orientation of the economy; the cultural trend toward diversity; and the gradual change of order to the rule of law, all benefited from the dilution of this mentality of enmity. Even in the political field, where progress is slowest, dilution of the mentality of enmity also made political power ever more tolerant of diversity in society, the intensity persecution of dissidents has declined substantially, and characterization of the 1989 movement has changed from an “instigated rebellion” to a “political upheaval.”
The dilution of the mentality of enmity made the political power gradually accept the universality of human rights. In 1998, the Chinese government promised the world it would sign the the two international human rights conventions of the U.N., marking China’s recognition of universal human rights standards; in 2004, the National People’s Congress for the first time inscribed into the constitution that “the state respects and safeguards human rights,” signaling that human rights had become one of the fundamental principles of the rule of law. In the meantime, the present regime also proposed “putting people first” and “creating a harmonious society,” which signaled progress in the Party’s concept of rule.
This macro-level progress was discernible as well in my own experiences since being arrested.
While I insist on my innocence, and that the accusations against me are unconstitutional, in the year and more since I lost my freedom, I’ve experienced two places of detention, four pretrial police officers, three prosecutors and two judges. In their handling of the case, there has been no lack of respect, no time overruns and no forced confessions. Their calm and rational attitude has over and again demonstrated goodwill. I was transferred on June 23 from the residential surveillance to Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau Detention Center No. 1, known as “Beikan.” I saw progress in surveillance in the six months I spent there.
I spent time in the old Beikan (Banbuqiao) in 1996, and compared with the Beikan of a decade ago, there has been great improvement in the hardware of facilities and software of management.
In particular, Beikan’s innovative humane management based on respecting the rights and dignity of detainees, implementing more flexible management of the will be flexible to the detainees words and deeds, embodied in the Warm broadcast and Repentance, the music played before meals, and when waking up and going to sleep, gave detainees feelings of dignity and warmth, stimulating their consciousness of keeping order in their cells and opposing the warders sense of themselves as lords of the jail, detainees, providing not only a humanized living environment, but greatly improved the detainees’ environment and mindset for litigation, I had close contact with Liu Zhen, in charge of my cell. People feel warmed by his respect and care for detainees, reflected in the management of every detail, and permeating his every word and deed. Getting to know the sincere, honest, responsible, goodhearted Liu Zhen really was a piece of good luck for me in Beikan.
Political beliefs are based on such convictions and personal experiences; I firmly believe that China’s political progress will never stop, and I’m full of optimistic expectations of freedom coming to China in the future, because no force can block the human desire for freedom. China will eventually become a country of the rule of law in which human rights are supreme. I’m also looking forward to such progress being reflected in the trial of this case, and look forward to the full court’s just verdict — one that can stand the test of history.
Ask me what has been my most fortunate experience of the past two decades, and I’d say it was gaining the selfless love of my wife, Liu Xia. She cannot be present in the courtroom today, but I still want to tell you, sweetheart, that I’m confident that your love for me will be as
always. Over the years, in my non-free life, our love has contained bitterness imposed by the external environment, but is boundless in afterthought. I am sentenced to a visible prison while you are waiting in an invisible one. Your love is sunlight that transcends prison walls and bars, stroking every inch of my skin, warming my every cell, letting me maintain my inner calm, magnanimous and bright, so that every minute in prison is full of meaning. But my love for you is full of guilt and regret, sometimes heavy enough hobble my steps. I am a hard stone in the wilderness, putting up with the pummeling of raging storms, and too cold for anyone to dare touch. But my love is hard, sharp, and can penetrate any obstacles. Even if I am crushed into powder, I will embrace you with the ashes.
Given your love, sweetheart, I would face my forthcoming trial calmly, with no regrets about my choice and looking forward to tomorrow optimistically. I look forward to my country being a land of free expression, where all citizens’ speeches are treated the same; here, different values, ideas, beliefs, political views… both compete with each other and coexist peacefully; here, majority and minority opinions will be given equal guarantees, in particular, political views different from those in power will be fully respected and protected; here, all political views will be spread in the sunlight for the people to choose; all citizens will be able to express their political views without fear, and will never be politically persecuted for voicing dissent; I hope to be the last victim of China’s endless literary inquisition, and that after this no one else will ever be jailed for their speech.
Freedom of expression is the basis of human rights, the source of humanity and the mother of truth. To block freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, to strangle humanity and to suppress the truth.
I do not feel guilty for following my constitutional right to freedom of expression, for fulfilling my social responsibility as a Chinese citizen. Even if accused of it, I would have no complaints. Thank you!


is a human very deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In all humility, I, too, congratulate him and urge CHINA to release him from prison and restore him to full rights and allow him to publish, speak, and travel ... something that country must also allow all of it's citizens, so that they may be considered citizens.

Here the Nobel Peace Prize announcement:

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2010

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 to Liu Xiaobo for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace. Such rights are a prerequisite for the "fraternity between nations" of which Alfred Nobel wrote in his will.

Over the past decades, China has achieved economic advances to which history can hardly show any equal. The country now has the world's second largest economy; hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. Scope for political participation has also broadened.

China's new status must entail increased responsibility. China is in breach of several international agreements to which it is a signatory, as well as of its own provisions concerning political rights. Article 35 of China's constitution lays down that "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration". In practice, these freedoms have proved to be distinctly curtailed for China's citizens.

For over two decades, Liu Xiaobo has been a strong spokesman for the application of fundamental human rights also in China. He took part in the Tiananmen protests in 1989; he was a leading author behind Charter 08, the manifesto of such rights in China which was published on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 10th of December 2008. The following year, Liu was sentenced to eleven years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights for
“inciting subversion of state power". Liu has consistently maintained that the sentence violates both China's own constitution and fundamental human rights.

The campaign to establish universal human rights also in China is being waged by many Chinese, both in China itself and abroad. Through the severe punishment meted out to him, Liu has become the foremost symbol of this wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China.

Oslo, October 8, 2010

"The Nobel Peace Prize 2010 - Press Release". 8 Oct 2010

And how the Chinese attempt to prevent Liu's wife from speaking to the press after the announcement:

Les journalistes ne peuvent approcher la femme de Liu Xiaobo
Uploaded by Mediapart. - Watch the latest news videos.

L'opposant chinois Liu Xiaobo reçoit le prix Nobel de la paix 2010

Friedensnobelpreis 2010
Menschenrechtler in China nach Auszeichnung Lius festgenommen
"Dass Liu Xiaobo den Friedensnobelpreis erhält, empört Peking. Nun gab es erste Festnahmen. Die Frau Lius hat Peking verlassen. Unklar ist, ob sie dazu gezwungen wurde."
Report from Die Zeit.

It Really Does Get Better !

For any gay kids worried about how their life will develop, check out this video and the channel to provide support. "It Gets Better"
And Detlef and I are another testimony about how absolutely fantastic a life of love can be.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Twenty Years

Yes, today is the 2oth anniversary of German unification. Since midnight, 20 years ago, the GDR ceased to exist and became part and parcel of the FRG under the already existing constitution. And 20 years + of freedom to travel back and forth within this my home city of Berlin is worth celebrating, as is all the other progress that has been made.
Now, let us hope that no new enemies and slogans are used to block the people from thinking, let us hope that solidarity remains the highest principle of the social fabric of this country, let us hope that those who have more do not envy those who have less, and let us hope that those who govern do not forget who the people are they work for!

Happy Birthday, Germany...

Und, Herrn Bundespräsidenten Wulff, ich bedanke mich für Ihre Rede heute zur Einheit. Thank you for this statement, among others, in your thoughtful speech. Here the link to the speech in full, in deutscher Sprache.
Ein freiheitliches Land wie unseres - es lebt von Vielfalt, es lebt von unterschiedlichen Lebensentwürfen, es lebt von Aufgeschlossenheit für neue Ideen. Sonst kann es nicht bestehen. Zu viel Gleichheit erstickt die eigene Anstrengung und ist nur um den Preis der Unfreiheit zu haben. Das Land muss Verschiedenheit aushalten. Es muss sie wollen. Aber: Zu große Unterschiede gefährden den Zusammenhalt. Daraus folgt für mich: Vielfalt schätzen, Risse in unserer Gesellschaft schließen - das bewahrt vor Illusionen, das schafft echten Zusammenhalt.
Yes, the Federal President's speech on the 2oth anniversary of Germany positively surprised me; I am quite willing to compliment him for it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stop Fanaticism !

Put an end, please, finally, to fanaticism and the ranting of fanatics. The best method to halt them is to speak openly, freely, without tabus and without hatred, always in the defense of liberty and always against the coopting of the word liberty to shroud efforts to limit the freedom of others.

This is not about any particular religion, ideology, political party, but about fanatics - people who have ceased to think and simply utter phrases learned by rote that are no longer reflected. If you do not THINK, you are NOT free!

Today in Berlin, the rabble-rousing fanatic from Holland, Wilders, who would like to forbid only one religion, Islam, for its fanaticism, is to appear at a "secret" site to give a speech. Hopefully no one will make it besides those protesting against his simplistic one-sided view of the world. Would he be as adamant about the fundamentalist activities of Christians, Jews, Mormons, Janes? Or has he simply smelled the dirty backside of power, the way up through the intestines of the thoughtless masses he tries to thrill, to reach and take over their brains once and for all? Who will he put on his list for expulsion next? A thoughtful German-language analysis of his rhetoric is to be found in Die Zeit.

Oh, but that all would simply begin to think, and then all this religious, political, ideological fanaticism would disappear. Thinking means questioning. The answers are by far less important.

And for today, here is a link to find the way to oppose the "secret" speech by the crutch of the new Dutch government. (What a shame for The Netherlands!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Democracy Is Loud!

Flemming Rose, announcing the publication of his 499-page book Tyranny of Silence on the publication of the 12 Mohammed caricatures in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten yesterday, quite pertinently, poignantly, and accurately expressed what the whole business is about: "Words should be answered with words. That's all we have in a democracy, and if we give that up, we will be locked in a tyranny of silence."

Danish book republishes Prophet Muhammad cartoons

Perhaps reading the account of what happened after the paper published the political cartoons would help remind us what freedom of expression and thought is all about and help us to get more people to use words and art and refrain from employing weapons and violence!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Better Literature

Strange, isn't it, that the best literature is most often the target of attempted book banning. If you have not yet read any of the classics on the list of English-language works challenged, you have missed some of the greatest literature of all times. Then go on to read works in other languages and be happy that your native censors cannot decipher them. People attempt to ban books because they fear ideas. I fear iconoclasts and people who seek to perpetrate violence against ideas and the people who have, read, or share them. Read a banned book today: it's good for you.

Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Ulysses, by James Joyce
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
1984, by George Orwell
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Native Son, by Richard Wright
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
Sophie's Choice, by William Styron
Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
Women in Love, by DH Lawrence
The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

Source: American Library Association; follow the link to see how recent some of these moves are and how alarming the reasons given.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How Old Are You?

The year of your birth gives NO information whatsoever about your age ; so many of those born in years chronologically following my own are, despite their misinformed counting of years, older than I will ever be. Think, and you are young. Be, individually, and you are young.

Philippe Sollers once again hit the nail on the head. Look at the self-proclaimed "young man" seated opposite him, compare both, and you, too, will realize how senile that youngster is and how much younger Sollers remains.

« Qui est quelqu’un dans tout ça, voilà ma question. S’il y a quelqu’un, quel qu’il soit, c’est vraiment quelqu’un de jeune. »

Friday, September 24, 2010

Perhaps Before It's Too Late ?

"Reinventing Fire™ has two main goals: to create a clear and practical vision of a fossil-fuel-free future for the United States, backed up by quantitative analysis, and to map a pathway to achieve that future, led largely by business."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How Beautiful Is Liberty !

Happy is he who as Ulysees has traveled and recognized how beautiful liberty is.

Georges Brassens : Heureux Qui Comme Ulysse

Heureux qui comme Ulysse
A fait un beau voyage.
Heureux qui comme Ulysse
A vu cent paysages

Et puis a retrouvé
Après maintes traversées
Le pays des vertes années

Par un petit matin d'été
Quand le soleil vous chante au cœur
Qu'elle est belle la liberté, la liberté

Quand on est mieux ici qu'ailleurs
Quand un ami fait le bonheur
Qu'elle est belle la liberté, la liberté

Avec le soleil et le vent
Avec la pluie et le beau temps
On vivait bien content
Mon cheval, ma Provence et moi
Mon cheval, ma Provence et moi

Heureux qui comme Ulysse
A fait un beau voyage
Heureux qui comme Ulysse
A vu cent paysages
Et puis a retrouvé
Après maintes traversées
Le pays des vertes années

Par un joli matin d'été
Quand le soleil vous chante au coeur
Qu'elle est belle la liberté, la liberté

Quand c'en est fini des malheurs
Quand un ami sèche vos pleurs
Qu'elle est belle la liberté, la liberté

Battu de soleil et de vent
Perdu au milieu des étangs
On vivra bien content
Mon cheval, ma Camargue et moi
Mon cheval, ma Camargue et moi...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What are we fighting for?

On Religion - Muslim Prayer Room Was Part of Life at Twin Towers -

Over the next few days, noticing some fellow Muslims on the job, Mr. Abdus-Salaam voiced an equally essential question: “So where do you pray at?” And so he learned about the Muslim prayer room on the 17th floor of the south tower.
He went there regularly in the months to come, first doing the ablution known as wudu in a washroom fitted for cleansing hands, face and feet, and then facing toward Mecca to intone the salat prayer. On any given day, Mr. Abdus-Salaam’s companions in the prayer room might include financial analysts, carpenters, receptionists, secretaries and ironworkers. There were American natives, immigrants who had earned citizenship, visitors conducting international business — the whole Muslim spectrum of nationality and race.
Leaping down the stairs on Sept. 11, 2001, when he had been installing ceiling speakers for a reinsurance company on the 49th floor, Mr. Abdus-Salaam had a brief, panicked thought. He didn’t see any of the Muslims he recognized from the prayer room. Where were they? Had they managed to evacuate?
He staggered out to the gathering place at Broadway and Vesey. From that corner, he watched the south tower collapse, to be followed soon by the north one. Somewhere in the smoking, burning mountain of rubble lay whatever remained of the prayer room, and also of some of the Muslims who had used it.

So open up the pearly gates, cause if we keep on as in recent weeks, then Arlo Guthrie was right, and "we're all gonna die."

A Way for Two

There is a way, a way for two,
Who hold each other's hands.
There is a dream, a dream for two,
Who, blue-eyed, count the stars.

When time has come, and years have gone,
They wander through the night.
When storms have come, and rivers flood,
They smile through rain-pearled lips.

Where bells have rung, and bombs have sung,
Their souls merge with their hearts.
Where whores have tricked, and muggers won,
Their cheeks and faces touch.

Lovers sing and lovers cry and lovers sigh,
But hearts still sing and mouths can laugh, when love is in their eye.

-Richard Gardner

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Memoriam

Never forget ...

9 11

... what religious hatred can do!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Restored Colonnade at Alte Nationalgalerie

La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.

Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'ènfants,
Doux commeles hautbois, verts comme les prairies
– Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.

-- Charles Baudelaire

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jewels !


de Charles Baudelaire

La très-chère était nue, et, connaissant mon coeur,
Elle n'avait gardé que ses bijoux sonores,
Dont le riche attirail lui donnait l'air vainqueur
Qu'ont dans leurs jours heureux les esclaves des Mores.

Quand il jette en dansant son bruit vif et moqueur,
Ce monde rayonnant de métal et de pierre
Me ravit en extase, et j'aime avec fureur
Les choses où le son se mêle à la lumière.

Elle était donc couchée et se laissait aimer,
Et du haut du divan elle souriait d'aise
A mon amour profond et doux comme la mer,
Qui vers elle montait comme vers sa falaise.

Les yeux fixés sur moi, comme un tigre dompté,
D'un air vague et rêveur elle essayait des poses,
Et la candeur unie à la lubricité
Donnait un charme neuf à ses métamorphoses.

Et son bras et sa jambe, et sa cuisse et ses reins,
Polis comme de l'huile, onduleux comme un cygne,
Passaient devant mes yeux clairvoyants et sereins;
Et son ventre et ses seins, ces grappes de ma vigne,

S'avançaient, plus câlins que les anges du mal,
Pour troubler le repos où mon âme était mise,
Et pour la déranger du rocher de cristal
Où, calme et solitaire, elle s'était assise.

Je croyais voir unis par un nouveau dessin
Les hanches de l'Antiope au buste d'un imberbe,
Tant sa taille faisait ressortir son bassin !
Sur ce teint fauve et brun le fard était superbe !

— Et la lampe s'étant résignée à mourir,
Comme le foyer seul illuminait la chambre,
Chaque fois qu'il poussait un flamboyant soupir,
Il inondait de sang cette peau couleur d'ambre.