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DASHIELL HAMMETT | BOOKS
As it happens, this book (1974) has an excellent introduction by Steven Marcus on Dashiell Hammett: that man led an 'interesting' life!
Dashiell Samuel Hammett was born in May 1894; his early years were spent in Philadelphia and Baltimore. He left high school at the age of 14. The first few years he worked odd jobs with indifferent success: on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, in factories and as a casual laborer. Writing on an advertisement one day landed him a job with the Pinkerton´s Detective Agency: work was challenging and exciting, dangerous even! It took him around the country and introduced him to all walks of life.
In 1918 he enlisted in the Ambulance Corps of the United States, became stationed near Baltimore. He came down with influenza, which led to tuberculosis.
In 1919 he returned to Pinkerton´s.
He became hospitalized during 1920 and 1921 in government hospitals, on the West Coast. Here he became involved with a nurse and they were married in 1920. In May 1921 he was discharged from the hospital, the married couple moved to San Francisco and started working there again for the Pinkerton´s.
During the years in San Francisco he developed an interest in writing, started with writing bits of verse, small sketches of his work as a detective and other apprentice work.
When he resigned and did other odd jobs, his health suffered and he became to realize he had little time left... He moved away from his family, found a cheap hotelroom and started writing. Sometimes he drank too much, lived on soup for days, but writing success was around the corner!
By the end of 1922 he appeared with some success in print and in Oct.1923 the first story featuring the Continental Op appeared. He made a name as an original talent, an innovator in a popular form of fiction, leading a new style, the "hard-boiled style" it became known as.
In 1929 Hammett invented Sam Spade and the Maltese Falcon became an instant success, made him famous.
During the late-1920s his marriage collapsed, two daughters were born of it. His life style included some heavy drinking, wild squandering of money and womanizing: he lived the part!
But he was also able to work with great self-discipline, working with great intensity.
Hammet moved from San Francisco to New York and suffered the Great Depression (1930), moving back to the West Coast. In Hollywood he found high-paying work in film projects. Here he met Lillian Hellman and they became involved in an impassioned and tempestuous relationship; while both were not always faithful to each other the relationship lasted 30 years, until his death.
By 1934 Hammett´s career as a creative writer was over, though he did not realize it at the time. He intended to write a play, but it never got written. He continued to work in the movie industry, during which time he became involved in left-wing and anti-fascist causes; he became a Marxist.
Hammett enlisted in the US Army during World War II, in spite of his bad health. He was sent to the Aleutians, where he edited a daily newspaper; he enjoyed his tour of duty. When he was discharged in 1945, he was 51, famous and faily affluent. But he had also contracted emphysema.
His drinking brough him down in 1948 and he managed to stop drinking entirely.
Senator Joseph McCarthy and his Cummunist witch hunt effected him to the extend that he spent time in jail. He stayed loyal to his causes. When he got out of prison he was exhausted and a very ill man. And he found he had been blacklisted in Hollywood, ended up broke as royalties and other payments had been blocked by governmental actions.
He withdrew and retired, living a quiet life until 1956, when he found his illness made it impossible to live alone. After that he lived with Lillian Hellman, under her care and companionship. In 1960 his lung conditioin had worsened and had become cancerous.
He died on 10Jan1961 and by his own wish was buried in the Arlington National Cemetery.
The Continental Op is a fictional character created by Dashiell Hammett. A private investigator employed as an operative of the Continental Detective Agency's San Francisco office, he never gives his name and so is known only by his job description.
The Op can, in many ways, be regarded as a protoype for the hardboiled detective later exemplified in such characters as Hammett's Sam Spade, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, and Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer, among others.
See also WIKIPEDIA
KUNSTKOPPEN | PHOTOGRAPHY
Every portrait tells it own story about culture . The exposition lasts until 02Jan 2011 and admission is free - though a visit to the AHM, for which you have to buy a ticket, is recommended too!
SNOECKS 2011 | BOOKS
The Snoecks 2011 edition has over 550 pages, measures about 23cm in height, is lavishly illustrated and features an enormous variety of articles.
The photo articles are more balanced this year in my opinion, still a lot of beauties (in itself photographed in very different styles by various photographers), but many other subjects are included too.
The long list of books published last year reminded me to buy a few in coming months.
I am not sure if this Snoecks publication is published in other languages than Dutch, though.
FACEBOOK | SOCIAL MEDIA
Earlier this year I joined Facebook, after having made accounts on Flickr and YouTube in previous years. And sofar I've found it fascinating to keep in touch with friends and 'semi-strangers' this way.
In Feb. 2004 Facebook was launched by Mark Zuckenberg and three roommates (Eduardo Saverin, Chris Hughes, Dustin Moskovitz) at the University of Harvard. Peter Thiel invested $500.000 and by end-2004 some one million users had registered.
Mark Zuckenberg speaks English, French, Hebrew, Latin and Greek; these days he studies Mandarin. Because he is colourblind, blue has become the colour of Facebook. He was proclaimed Person of the Year 2010 by Time Magazine.
A man from Antwerp, Belgium walked for a year around with 2 scissors (16 cm!) in his intestines, which had been forgotten after surgery.
This news appeared in the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws yesterday.
Glen G. (50) suffered considerable pain, but the surgeon wouldn't listen. The fact that 2 scissors were found missing after surgery was solved at the time by taking two from another set.
Recently the man took the initiative to have x-rays: the scissors showed up clearly on the images.
The surgeon and the hospital admitted guilt, the hospital offered 5.000 euro in damages, but the man demanded 80.000 euro.
RICHARD CORY | POETRY
Richard Cory - Edwin Arlington Robinson
They say that Richard Cory owns one half of this whole town
with political connections to spread his wealth around
born into society a banker's only child
He had everything a man could want power, grace and style
But I work in his factory and I curse the life I'm living
and I curse my poverty and I wish that I could be
Oh I wish that I could be Oh I wish that I could be Richard Cory
The papers print his picture almost everywhere he goes
Richard Cory at the opera Richard Cory at a show
and the rumor of his parties and the orgies on his yacht
oh he surely must be happy with everything he's got
But I work in his factory and I curse the life I'm living
and I curse my poverty and I wish that I could be
Oh I wish that I could be Oh I wish that I could be Richard Cory
He freely gave to charity he had the common touch
and they were greatfull for his patronage and they thanked him very much
so my mind was filled with wonder when the evening headlines read
Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head
But I work in his factory and I curse the life I'm living
and I curse my poverty and I wish that I could be
Oh I wish that I could be Oh I wish that I could be Richard Cory
Richard Cory - Paul Simon
JOE BONAMASSA | MUSIC
It's sofar only my 2nd album I bought from Joe Bonamassa, but he has definitely won me over with his solid electric blues music!
The name of this album is Black Rock, and I am particularly pleased I bought the limited edition deluxe version. If all albums are produced like this, for this price, I am sure the people who merely download the music would think again.
Over the past week I've played it many times and my favourite songs are 'Blue and Evil' and 'Night Life'; the latter has B.B. King playing too, fantastic!
Excellent music and a beautifully produced album!
MILLENNIUM I - II - III | BOOKS
SYLVIA WITTEMAN | BOOKS
Sylvia Witteman write columns and is the (Dutch) author of a series of cookbooks. I like her columns very much, she is very witty, down to earth and a brilliant cynic.
In this mad world where everyone occasionally have to suffer bad spells and injustice by fate or misfortune, she can really brighten up your day.
For those who can read Dutch, her website is www.sylviawitteman.nl
Google has published its logos and doodles on Google.com/logos/
DUTCH WORDS THAT LEFT THEIR MARK ON AMERICAN ENGLISH | HISTORY
HOW SINTERKLAAS BECAME SANTA CLAUS...
In short: From Dutch Santa klaas, a dialectal variant of Sinterklaas, which is a corruption of Sint Nicolaas; adopted in the 17th century and very widespread.
The long version:
Every year,the Dutch Sinterklaas sails from Spain to the Netherlands on his steamship, surrounded by Black Petes, his attendants, who throw pepernoten (spice nuts) among the children.
On the evening of December 5th, the eve of his birthday, Sinterklaas lands on the roofs of houses on a horse, throwing presents down the chimney and into children's shoes put for that purpose at the fireplace.
But children who have been naughty don't get any presents. Naughty children run the risk of being taken back to Spain in the gunny sack of the Black Petes, to work in Sint's factory.
Sinterklaas can easily be identified as he is dressed somewhat as a cardinal: he wears a long red-and-white gown and a miter, he has a long white beard, rides a white horse and when he goes by foot he carries a staff and walks & talks in a dignified manner.
What a contrast with Santa Claus, who arrives from the North Pole flying through the sky on his reindeer-drawn sleigh with jingling bells. He too distributes presents, but does so on Christmas Eve december 24th, for which children hang stockings from the chimney.
Santa Claus is a chubby man, who shouts 'ho! ho! ho!' and is dressed in a red and white suit, is aided by elves who make the presents for him.
So how did Sinterklaas become Santa Claus?
It is important to note that most paraphernalia surrounding Sinterklaas did not become part of the holiday in the Low Countries until the 19th century.
The Sinterklaas holiday that the Dutch settlers introduced on the East Coast of the US in the 17th century was different from its present-day version. It has been customary since the 16th century at least for children in the Low Countries to put their shoe in front of, or hangstockings on, the hearth on Dec. 5th, the day before the name day of Saint Nicholas (which is contacted into Sinterklaas), to find a present in the next morning.
In the course of the 16th century, the Reformation increasingly gained a foothold in the Low Countries, and the Catholic saints were renounced. In the 17th century, certain municipal authorities even went so far as to prohibit the celebration of Saint Nicholas. To no avail, however, as the holiday was very popular among young and old.
There is no doubt that the New Netherlanders definitely brought this popular custom to the US.
From a baker's receipt from 1675 it appears that Miss Van Rensselaer had bought sinterklaesgoet and, in 1773, Sinterklaas suddenly appeared in New York, never to depart. By then he was already called Santa Claus, after the Dutch dialectal for Sante Klaas.
WIKILEAKS | NEWS
LIEUTENANT BLUEBERRY | COMIC BOOKS
My interest was rekindled recently when I was given the Blueberry film on dvd; it came with a warning: it isn't as good as the books! And indeed it isn't. For one thing I could have done without the lengthy computer graphics on ghosts and other tiring visuals. But the 'photography' was good and it was a nice surprise to see Eddy Izzard as Prosit, the conniving Prussian officer. IMDB.com
ONLY IN AFRICA | REMARKABLE NEWS
Further details have emerged regarding the crash of Filair's plane (a Let 410) in Bandundu on 25Aug10.
A statement made to investigators by the surviving female passemger suggested the aircraft crashed after a crocodile tore its way out of a large sports bag and caused panic in the cabin. A sudden stampede of terrified passengers caused the aircraft to lose balance and tip over in mid air.
Twenty occupants died, one survived.
"One of the passengers had hidden the animal, which he planned to sell, in a big sports bag, from which the reptile escaped as the plane began its descent into Bandundu. The terrified air hostess hurried towards the cockpit, followed by the passengers. The aircraft was then sent off-balance despite the desperate efforts by the pilot", said the report.
The crocodile survived the crash, but was later killed with a machete by rescuers sifting through the wreckage.
British pilot Chris Wilson was acting as the plane's first officer alongside Belgian pilot Danny Philemotte, who owned and managed Filair.
[World Airline Fleets News - no.266, Oct.2010]
SUPER COMPUTER | SCIENCE
China's Tianhe-1A supercomputer has been confirmed as the most powerful in the world.
Confirmation came with the publication of the latest list of the Top 500 supercomputers on the planet.
The Tianhe-1A has a peak speed of 2.57 petaflops, far higher than the US XT5 Jaguar, which can manage 1.76 petaflops.
The top seven supercomputers on the list can now all carry out at least one petaflop, which is the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second!
The US maintains its spot as the nation with the most supercomputers in the Top 500 list and China is now second.
DUTCH | LANGUAGE
Worldwide some 23 million people speak Dutch in their daily life.
except in the Netherlands and in Flanders (Belgium), Dutch can be heard in 18 countries; according a recent review published by the 'Nederlandse Taalunie'.
It isn't always spoken in the purest form; in northern parts of France, around Dunkirk, a dialect of Dutch is being spoken. In South Africa they speak a variant of Dutch, and in Namibia again a variant of the African-Dutch.
On many of the Dutch Antilles they learn Dutch at school, although many speak Papiamentu in their daily life; this is a language that was formed from Spanish, Portugese, Dutch, English, French and African languages.
In Surinam over 90 percent of the people speak Dutch.
Due to massive emigration during the 1950s and 1960s from Holland to Australia, about 300.000 people can claim to be descendants from the Dutch, but only a few still speak the language. The same for Canada, a few years ago some 158.000 Canadians still spoke or Dutch at home, with their fellow emigrants and relatives in Europe. The same in New Zealand for ca. 29.000 people.
In the United States ca. 5 million people are descendants of the Dutch; figures of the year 2000 claim some 150.00o people still spoke Dutch at home.
In Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, some elderly people speak or understand Dutch; but since a lot of historic material in Indonesian archives are written in Dutch, each year around 20.000 Indonesian students learn Dutch to read and study these documents.
HERMAN BROOD | ART
EXTRADITED: VIKTOR BOUT ON HIS WAY TO THE U.S | NEWS
See also my item below, dated 07Oct10
CROSSROADS - GUITAR FESTIVAL | MUSIC
The Crossroads Guitar Festival is a music festival and benefit concert first held in 2004 and again in 2007 and 2010. The above image is from the 2010 DVD.
STEVE McCURRY | PHOTOGRAPHY
This weekend my book collection was expanded by this large format photography book.
A word on the photographer and the million miles travelled, documented by his wonderful photography
ROY LICHTENSTEIN | ART
Roy Lichtenstein (October 27, 1923 – September 29, 1997) was a prominent American pop artist. During the 1960s his paintings were exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City and along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist and others he became a leading figure in the new art movement. His work defined the basic premise of pop art better than any other through parody.
JIM SPILSBURY | BOOKS
RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY | NEWS
The Russians have their own interpretation of democracy: it doesn't include freedom of speech!
Earlier this week leading journalist Oleg Kashin was severely beaten up: broken legs, broken fingers and a broken jaw; so for the time being he isn't going anywhere, not going to speak up and it is hard to type or write with broken fingers... A point clearly made, esspecially considering the location: it took place a 10 minutes' walk away from the Kremlin!
He was soon followed by Anatoliy Adamchuk, from the Zhukovskiye Vesti suburban Moscow weekly, he suffered concussion and head injuries.
On Oct.17th tv journalist Natalia Arhiptsevoy was shot in the leg while in a restaurant. And on June 27th Dimitry Okkert, another tv journalist, was found in his apartment stabbed to death.
Obviously this isn't done by thugs from the KGB these days, but by hardcore criminals with 'business interests'.
Journalist Anna Politkovskaja was killed in front of her house in Moscow on 07Oct06; she wrote critical on Russia's involvement in the Chechen Republic (Chechnya). So governmental interests and involvement shouldn't be ruled out.
The Molodaya Gvardiya ('The Young Guard'), which hasn't been named Putinjugend for nothing, had Oleg Kashin labelled as a traitor; they had a caption with his photo their website stating 'Will Be Punished'.
On the index for Freedom of Press, which lists 196 countries, Russia is on 175...
The wife of recently dismished Mayor of Moscow, Jelena Baturina, managed to become the richest woman of Russia by trading real estate; she was allowed to buy forestry cheap and sell it for a for a thousandfold. Journalists exposing this sort of injustice risk their life.
NEWSPAPER EXTINCTION TIMELINE
Ross Dawson is of opinion that printed newspapers will vanish from our daily life. Since each country embrace the digital use in different ways, the end to these newspapers will vary from country to country. He published a fascinating timeline.
The striped areas will see newspapers disappear in metropolitan areas before regional areas.
The USA is expected to see printed newspapers disappear in 2017; well, many of them seem to have sports as their main news item, so that wouldn't be so surprising - but 2017 is only 7 years away!
Next would be UK and Iceland, in 2019, followed one year later by Canada and Norway. The Dutch newspapers will see their printing machines come to a grinding halt in 2027 and I am comfortable with the time that remains for us.
The second image has the factors that will carry the printed newspapers to doom: cost development on printing versus e-readers, etc - bandwidth availability - degree of urbanization and literacy - regulations and (financial) support - advertising focussing on digital platforms - willingness to pay for news.
HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY | BOOK
In the late 1970s I was introduced to a comedy radioplay by my friend Stuart Brighton. He had it on LP and made a tape for me. Consequently I bought several of the Pan books, as I was completely sold to the weird humor by the author Douglas Adams.
During this time guidebooks were starting to appear but still a long way off from any common availability and popularity. I remember the difficulties I had in obraining information on travel in Tunesia during the early 1980s, though I did find a thorough guidebook for my travels through Indonesia at that time.
So a guidebook for travelling outer space was quite absurd and stretching the imagination in a wonderful way.
The infrastructure in the UK was undergoing an important change. Many villages lost income when bypasses were introduced; traffic was led around the towns for all sorts of good reasons, but those who made money from people stopping (e.g. for gas, food or beverages) complained bitterly. The play (and of course the book) starts with the fact that planet Earth is going to be demolished to make way for an interstellar bypass by the ruthless Vogons...
Arthur Dent escapes with help from his friend Ford Prefect (an alien from planet Betelgeuse, who took his name from a popular British car) is in fact an undercover researcher for the Hitchhiker's Guide (which has in large comforting letters Don't Panic' on the cover) and so these two embark on a confusing trip though space. They meet all kind of weird and wonderful characters such as Zaphod Beeblebrox and the depressed android Marvin.
Marvin, Zaphod, Ford and Arthur
They also encounter a computer as large as a planet, which was built for the purpose of finding the answer 'to life and everything', but the answer provided, after decades ('42') of waiting, needs further research...
The film that was made of it was nice and entertaining, but I like the book(s) because it has lots and lots more.
NOTHING WORSE THAN AN EDUCATED FOOL | OPINION
Childish, but effective, ridicule of US President Barack Obama
The Mr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde qualities of the United States had struck me a long time ago.
How religious conservatists can be so vehemetly pro death penalty; and long term imprisonment.
A country which always speaks of the family and family values being the cornerstone and fabric of society, has the highest percentage of divorce.
A country which wants to do good in the world, exercise its sense of human rights abroad, refuses to share its wealth among less fortunate fellow countrymen.
In terms of foreign policies the USA seemed more or less in balance most of the time, though one could point the finger towards the fact that the Yanks have no trouble fighting a war abroad. And President G W Bush may have started making stupid statements political acceptable upon his statement “those who are not with us, are against us!”.
These days the USA are divided as black and white; outlooks on a way of life come to a head during the election of the Senate Nov. 2nd, the socalled Mid Term Elections. The outcome may well be felt around the globe.
While I value the freedom of speech, I cannot stand stupidity. And many seem to have taken leave of their senses. Behind the loud outcries of protest lies not a difference in ideals, but rather powerful strategies involving false information via the media.
Even more simplified: at the core lies greed.
President of the US, Barack Obama (elected less than two years ago), has included in his program measures to protect also the less fortunate in American society, restore jobs and to reorganize health care. These are included in a package which include many other programs, but are hit upon as they are identified as ‘socialist’ (çommunist' even!).
A frightingly large part of the Yanks don’t want to spend a dime on other people’s welfare and easily lend their ear to forces opposing these policies.
The Vietnam War was lost because of the media. Television demonstrated its power: comments repeated over and over, and footage. The Americans showed their military power, we saw planes dropping their bombs and were impressed by their killing power. Europe was still grateful for being freed from by the Nazis by the American warmachine and easily identified as the good guys. Hollywood showed us on the screen how life should be regarded: there were good guys and bad guys; the bad guys got killed.
On television the underdog won more and more sympathy and the war was lost because support fell away. Military supremacy lost against media information. Even the government of a superpower lost against media information.
These days we see revolution through the media without military involvement. Don’t underestimate it: a cry for Obama’s impeachment is being voiced loud and clear by members of the Tea Party.
The Gulf Wars were started on misinformation and false pretense.What is good for wars could proof useful for elections too.
The ingredients for the new revolution: a small core of powerful people (their objective: power and profits), a number of media-qualified faces willing to be identified for this (their gain: political power), television (their gain: profit through rise in popularity), false information (tv commercials, interviews by politicians and celebrities), an audience (their gain: reassurance no one will take their money away).
To name some names to the above: the Koch brothers (channelling millions of dollars for rightwing causes, including the Tea Party).
Politicians like Sarah Palin.
Tea Party members.
People funding vast amounts through organizations such as CitizensUnited.org can remain anonymous.
Keywords in these elections are FALSE INFORMATION.
Fox News is spreading the muck expediently. It has become the voice of the Republican Party in the US, in their desperate struggle to regain power in the White House. The trick is to mix fact and fiction carefully I thought, but now this care has been abandoned and the bullshit is unbelievable.
And that is where the stupidity factor comes in, far and wide.
In less than two years in office, 18% of the Americans believe that Obama is a muslim, 27% believe he (probably) wasn’t born in the USA…. Twenty seven percent!
41% of the Republicans believe this to be true.
And 14% of the entire US population believe that Obama is the anti-Christ; 25% of the Republicans are convinced this is true. Outrageous.
USofA=Utter Stupidity of America
Profile of the Tea Party member: he/she is predominantly white, over 43 and well educated.
Nothing worse than an educated fool…
I bring back to mind the ‘greed factor’ and the unwillingness to share for welfare of others, inspite of their religious ‘commitment’.
There is no clear political agenda for the Tea Party; the main aim of the anti-Obama hysteria seems to be to cripple Obama’s political power and cut his political program short.
That would also be the aim for the ‘puppeteers’ behind the scene and behind this upheaval.
Late in the day, common sense got a voice too, when talkshow hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen brought a huge crowd to Washington D.C.
Jon (above, right) organized his ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’ and Stephen (above, left) his ironic ‘March to Keep Fear Alive’ and over 200.000 people supported this with their presence.
Their may yet be hope for common sense to prevail in the US, but I fear that the gullable & uneducated as well as the less informed will easily be won over by the tsunami of false information in the media, feeding on dissatisfaction, uncertainties and other dark emotions. And funded by rightwing conservatists and rich capatalists.
Meanwhile an obscene amount of money will be spent on these congressional elections: over US$3.3bn is expected to be circulated. OpenSecrets.org can be checked for this sad state of affair.
If the Republicans gain overwhelming majority in the Senate, Obama will be severely handicapped in fullfilling his political program and may even only serve one term, proclaimed a failure.
This Tea Party upheaval may well be recognized as a revolution in years to come.
But it should also be identified as being instigated not for morals, the fight for human rights or democracy, but simply for power and greed.
THE KILLING II (FORBRYDELSEN II) | DVD REVIEW
The Killing I left me very much impressed with this Scandinavian crime drama and full of anticipation I sat and watched The Killing II (Forbrydelsen II). And I was not disappointed.
This Danish DR 1 television production was just as fascinating as the previous series, but this time the drama took 'only' 10 episodes to be told.
This past week my life was lived around these episodes...
Sofie Gråbøl again plays police inspector Sarah Lund, a bit more aware of human relations around her but only barely. She is as single minded and determined as ever, and has the support of her chief, the stern and commanding (what a face!) Lennart Brix, played by Morten Suurballe.
Mikael Birkkjaer plays Sarah Lund's collegue, Ulrik Strange. He finds a way to cooperate with Lund, but many a time he is as dumbfounded by her as Jan Meyer in The Killing I.
Again three plotlines unfold along parallel lines:
1. investigation in the murder of a lawyer and several military,
2. newly appointed Secretary of Justice Thomas Buch (played by Nicolas Bro) fights against political intrige, and
3. Jens Peter Raben escapes from medical imprisonment to seek answers (troubled by loss of memory) into allegations and fighting estrangement by his wife (daughter of his military commander) and his young son.
Each episode has twists and turns, preparing for the final episode which has yet more surprises. Dark and compelling until the very last minute.
Cannot wait until The Killing III and Sarah Lund makes her reappearance!
MOHAMMED MOST POPULAR BOY NAME IN GREAT BRITAIN| NEWS
A total of 7,549 newborns were given 12 variations of the Islamic prophet Mohammed’s name last year, such as Muhammad, Mohammad, Muhammed, Mohamed, Mohamad, Muhamed, Mohammod, Mahamed, Muhamad, Mahammed and Mohmmed, and still more possible...
It shot up from third the previous year, overtaking Jack, which had topped the list for the past 14 years but was relegated to third spot.
The second most popular boy’s name, Oliver, was given to 7,364 babies.
Harry and Alfie came in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Olivia topped the list for little girls for the second year in a row, behind Ruby and Chloe.
REUTERS - OUR WORLD NOW  | BOOK
GOOD AND BAD IN THE LOW COUNTRIES | NEWS
The Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index ranked the Netherlands on 1st place for its retirement income system, which comprises a flat-rate public pension and a quasi-mandatory earnings-related occupational pension linked to industrial agreements.
Most employees belong to these occupational schemes which are industry-wide defined benefit plans with the earnings measure based on lifetime average earnings.
If you survive the healthcare here, you may await a decent pension...
ARNALDUR INDRIDASON | WRITER
Arnaldur Indriðason (born 28 January 1961) is an Icelandic writer of crime fiction. He has repeatedly proved to be the most popular writer in Iceland in recent years, topping bestseller lists year after year.
I only recently became aware of his books, although the Inspector Erlendur series started in the late 1990s.
The first two titles don't seem to be readily available in an English translation, but after reading these two titles 'The Draining Lake' and 'Arctic Chill' I found myself quickly ordering the other titles too.
Synir duftsins (Sons of Dust, 1997)
Dauðarósir (Silent Kill, 1998)
Mýrin (Tainted Blood, also known as Jar City, 2000) xxx
Grafarþögn (Silence of the Grave, 2001) xxx
Röddin (Voices, 2003) xxx
Kleifarvatn (The Draining Lake, 2004)
Vetrarborgin (Arctic Chill, 2005)
Harðskafi (Hypothermia, 2007) xxxx
Stories are written around events we could read about in the paper; the relations between Inspector Erlendur and his collegues Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg play their part, as well as Erlendur's troubled relations with his children and his own past - his little brother disappeared, never to be found, on a trip he made when a child with his father and brother.
And there is the backdrop of Iceland with its political issues, harsh climate, etc. I have fond memories of visiting Iceland in 2007.
WINGS OF THE NORTH by DICK TURNER | BOOKS
Excerpt from backcover:
... the cold fear when
Dick Turner started a life as a trapper in 1930 entering the Northwest Territories. When he had sat up a business many years later, (1958, aged 47) he decided to take flying lessons and buy a light plane to fly stores to his trading post; he particpated in Medical flights and took trappers in & out of The Bush.
I thank Dirk Septer for giving me this book. Delightful reading.
KARL MAY | BOOKS
Karl Friedrich May (February 25, 1842 – March 30, 1912) was a German writer, noted mainly for books set in the American Old West, (best known for the characters of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand) and similar books set in the Orient and Middle East (with Kara Ben Nemsi and Hadschi Halef Omar). In addition, he wrote stories set in his native Germany, in China and in South America. May also wrote poetry and a play, as well as composing music; he was proficient with several musical instruments. May's musical version of Ave Maria became very well known.
Karl May had a substantial influence on a number of well-known German-speaking people - and on the German population itself. The popularity of his writing, and indeed, his (practically always German) protagonists, are considered by some as having filled a lack in the German psyche which had few popular heroes until the 19th Century. His readers longed to escape from an industrialised, capitalist society, an escape which May offered them
Extensive details on Karl May can be found on Wikipedia
AVIATION HUMOR | LINK
EOS 60D | PHOTO EQUIPMENT
Hmm, should I replace my EOS 50D with the new EOS 60D? Or is the EOS 7D the way to go...
Academic really, as I don't have requirement nor the budget for it right now. But dwelling on the possibility is nice.
CONNY COLL by CONRAD KOBBE | BOOKS
I could not find much on the writer, except that Conrad Kobbe was a pseudonym for K. Kölbl and he was German (like Karl May of Old Shatterhand fame).
VSS ENTERPRISE MADE SUCCESSFUL TESTFLIGHT | AVIATION
Virgin Galactic, one of the companies in the lead for developing the world’s first commercial tourist space flight business, says it has just successfully completed the first piloted free flight of SpaceShipTwo, alias the “VSS Enterprise.” The spaceship was released from its mothership at an altitude of 45,000 feet.
During its first flight this past weekend, the spaceship carried out a clean release of the spaceship from its mothership, flew free, and glided back and landed at Mojave Air and Space Port in California.
Virgin is employing Burt Rutan’s successful SpaceShipOne model, winner of the Ansari X Prize for achieving suborbital flight, for its fleet of spacecraft. For $200,000 a ticket, passengers will be taken into suborbital flight — crossing the 62-mile threshold into space and achieving weightlessness for about five minutes. The spacecraft will then glide softly back to terra firma.
The fact that commercial aviation is struggling 'today' with a world-wide economic crisis and a general downturn in aviation economics, it is quite surprising to see that this doesn't seem to slow this project down.
See also this subject on Wikipedia
LIU XIAOBO AWARDED NOBEL PRIZE | WORLD NEWS
The reaction by the Chinese government, on Lia Xiaobo's being awarded the Nobel Peace prize, made the distance between Western democratic thinking and democratic values in China painfully clear : lightyears!
Liu Xiaobo (born 28 December 1955) is a Chinese intellectual, writer, and human rights activist and a political prisoner in China.
He has served as President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center since 2003. On 8 December 2008, Liu was detained in response to his participation with Charter 08. He was formally arrested on 23 June 2009, on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power." He was tried on the same charges on 23 December 2009, and sentenced to eleven years' imprisonment and two years' deprivation of political rights on 25 December 2009.
During his 4th prison term, he won the Nobel Peace Prize on 8 October 2010, for 'his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.' [Wikepedia]
The Bangkok Post 05Oct2010
What would be in the paperbag, I wonder?
See also the update on 16NOV10.
THE SH*T MY DAD SAYS | BOOK
Justin Halpern's career seemed at one time spiralling down... As a part-time comedy writer he needed a second job, as a waiter, to make a living; his longtime girlfriend dumped him and Justin moved temporarily in with his parents again, not an easy move to make for a 28-year old.
His father shares his wisdom with his son to get him back on his feet in Life.
But his 73 year-old dad, Sam Halpern, is no saint and doesn't mince words... At some point Justin decides to use Twitter to share his amazement of his father's outrageous utterances, word for word, broadcasting them to an ever increasing audience in cyberspace.
Twitter led to the compilation of this book, which in turn is scheduled to lead to a CBS sitcom starring William Shatner! Rags to riches all over again!
I cannot imagine how CBS will translate Sam Halpern's acrid comments: explicitness generally doesn't go well with the hypocrite Yankee Puritans. Two examples:
ON ENTERTAINING THE NOTION OF GETTING A TATTOO
'You can do what you want. But I can also do what I want. And what I'll be doing is telling everyone how fucking stupid your tattoo is.'
'Call me if something's on fire, and don't screw in my bed.'
MY PHOTOS IN PRINT | PHOTOGRAPHY
Quite pleased with yet another photobook on recent travels. In this book I managed to squeeze over 500 images and scans in 120 pages; it was compiled using (free) HEMA software, uploaded & printed by this Dutch franchise. The size is 30cmx30cm, hardcover.
Sofar I've done 6 of these albums.
My only criticism would be its rather limited choice of borders on the photos (compared to e.g. Dixons), but I like the size very much.
A selection of my travel photos can be found on http://travel.ruudleeuw.com
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FUTURE | BOOK
I came across this book in a bookshop in Gibsons Landing, B.C. and until that moment I did not know the actor Michael J. Fox was a writer too! This one is his latest, after having also published 'Lucky Man' and 'Always Looking Up'.
It is a charming, funny book with a very positive tune to it. I would like to quote, something MJF picked up too, origin unknown:
A professor stands before his class with a cardboard box. From inside he produces a large, clear, empty pickle jar, and then a series of golf ball-sized rocks, which he then drops one by one into the jar until they reach the brim.
"So?" the teacher asks, "Who thinks the jar is full?"
Hands shoot up, and a quick scan of the room confirms unanimity - yes, it is full.
Next out of the box, a bag of sand, which the professor pours in amongst the rocks. Tiny grains cascade over, around, and in between the larger stones until there is no space left.
"Is it full now?" A show of hands and a chorus of voices responds - yes, it is full.
Now the professor smiles. "But wait." Both hands disappear into the box and reemerge simultaneously, each holding a can of beer. He pours the amber nectar into the jar with the rocks and sand.
Once the din of the students subsides to a collective chuckle, the professor confidently declares, "Now it is full."
"This jar represents your life," he continues. "Make sure the first ingredients are the big stuff... the rocks - your family, your work, your career, your passions. The rest is just sand, minutiae. It's in there. It may even be important. But it's not your first priority."
"What about the beer?" a kid in the back yells out.
"Well," comes the answer, "After everything else, you always have room for a couple of beers with friends."
The Dutch Low Countries are not automatically associated with finds from the Stone Age and here is a find of the remains of a human skeleton!
Last week (Sep.2010) archaeologists in Swifterbant found a grave with human skeletal remains.
The grave has been preserved because it was located under the groundwater level. The age and sex of the person remain as yet unsure, at least for weeks to come.
The burial seems to be dating from the period 8000 – 4500 BC. It could turn out to be the oldest preserved skeleton of the Netherlands.
So far this 'title' belongs to Trijntje uit Hardinxveld-Giessendam, who was discovered in 1997 during the excavations in the Betuweroute. She lived around ca. 5500 BC.
News fragments and photo’s of last week are on this website: