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Welcome to my Blog!The lion roars!!!
I hope to share here my irrepressible thoughts on news, music, books, arts and such like. In general these will be items, events and issues which I feel have no place on my website (which focusses on aviation history and my travel photography).

The item immediately below this would be the latest posting.

Anybody, providing he knows how to be amusing, has the right to talk about himself. - Charles Baudelaire
Esse est percipi (To be is to be perceived) - Bishop George Berkeley

In 2013 I started a series of photo albums on Blurb.com, named '36Exp' (a subject adressed in 36 exposures, a reference to the exposures on most common rolls of 35 mm film: 12, 24 & 36.). The books can be ordered directly from the Blurb.com website.




False Hope?
Found in my letterbox today; false hope?



Nuclear Power Plants
Illustrations through Google Images, (Graphic from
http://cenvironment.blogspot.com/2009/03/is-new-nuclear-power-plant-renaissance.html )

The number of nuclear power plants on this globe is growing, like in China 13 are in production but 37 plants are being built. This will bring China close to France, which has 58; Japan has 54, including the Fukushima nuclear powerplant.
The United States have the largest number of nuclear plants: 104.
But if one considers the density of nuclear power plants and ignores country borders (radioactive clouds will do too), West-Europe has the highest density: 130. Not counting Russia.
Worldwide there are 442.
[Vrij Nederland (NL) 19Mar2011, quotes www.iaea.org as source.]


Flat Earth News by Nick Davies

Another excerpt of this wonderful, even vital book, vital to anyone who takes its news from the media (online, in print, on television) seriously.

It is particularly striking that, during the 1950s, as both the PR industry and the cold-war apparatus of propaganda took off in the United States, there was a loud chorus of concern. This is when Vance Packard published The Hidden Persuaders, warning that 'Americans have become the most manipulated people outside the Iron Curtain'.
This is when Daniel Boorstin was researching The Image, warning that 'the making of the illusions which flood our experience has become the business of America'.
Those warnings went unheeded. The bounderies of acceptability have slowly tipped backwards; what was America's problem is now the world's; what was scandalous is now merely normal.
Somewhere out there, the truth is dying.
(taken from the last chapter in Part Three, 'Hidden Persuaders, -The Propaganda Puzzle-'





An interesting website I stumbled upon.

'EYEcurious' is a blog written by Marc Feustel about photography and all things related. 
His background is in Japanese photography, but EYEcurious travels to as many photographic territories as possible through exhibition and book reviews, photographer interviews, random thoughts and a few experiments.



Nuclear explosion at  Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

Radiation levels at a quake-stricken Japanese nuclear plant are reported to have reached levels harmful to human health, after a third blast and a fire.
The warning comes after the plant was rocked by a third blast which appears to have damaged one of the reactors' containment systems for the first time.
If it is breached there are fears of more serious radioactive leaks. [Source: BBC News]

Future discussion about use and safety of nuclear power will be greatly influenced by these events.



Joan Fontcuberta - Landscapes Without Memory

In the FOAM photography gallery in Amsterdam the exhibition 'Landscapes without Memory' was on display 26Nov10 - 27Feb11.

In 'Landscapes without Memory', Fontcuberta has co-opted a piece of computer software originally designed for military or scientific use in rendering 3-dimensional images of landscapes.
The software enables the user to build photo-realistic models based on information scanned from 2-dimensional sources—usually satellite surveys or cartographic data. The result gives the user the illusion of navigating in 3 dimensions which had previously been visualized only as a flat image.
With this widely available freeware as his starting point, Fontcuberta has created the two series that constitute his Landscapes without Memory.
Fontcuberta feeds the software fragments of pictures by Turner, Cézanne, Dalí, Stieglitz, Weston, and others, forcing the program to interpret a variety of landscape masterworks as 'real'. The contours and tones of these painted and photographic landscapes are transformed into three-dimensional mountains, rivers, valleys, and clouds. With remarkable results.





Kurt Vonnegut was captured and survived the firestorm in which 135,000 German civilians perished, more than the number of deaths in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined

In 'Slaughterhouse Five' (or 'the Children's Crusade', subtitled 'A Duty-Dance with Death') author Kurt Vonnegut sees the main character of the book, Billy Pilgrim (a very young foot soldier), captured in the Battle of the Bulge and quartered in a Dresden slaughterhouse. Here he and other prisoners are employed in the production of a vitamin supplement for pregnant women.
During the 13Feb1945 bombing by Allied aircraft, the POW's take shelter in an underground meat locker. When they emerge, the city has been levelled and they are forced to dig corpses out of the rubble.

Billy Pilgrim becomes unstuck in time and we see him 'travelling in time': back to his WW2 memories, the disaster and tragedies are vivdly described (Billy gives up in life), while also looking at the period after WW2 (his marriage and career).
But he's also involved in 'inter-galactic' travel to Tralfamadore; he was abducted when he was 44 years old and put in a zoo, later joined there by another Earthling woman, Montana Wildhack, who becomes mother of his child.
Meanwhile, Billy Pilgrim becomes estranged to his daughter, who is trying to take care of him but doesn't understand him anymore (Billy tries to tell the world about Tralfamadore and Tralfamadorians, but the world he describes is uncomprehensible to anyone but himself).

Billy is one of few who survive a plane crash; his father-in-law dies in the crash. His wife dies as result of a car accident while driving to the hospital Billy has been put in.

During the time of writing Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King are murdered; compared to the publicity these events get, the bombing and massacre of 135.000 people is merely a footnote in history.
But so it goes.

www.vonnegutweb.com - a review



tsunami hit Japan
Days after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, the deathtoll keeps rising and the devastation is quoted as the largest crisis for Japan since World War II.
The earthquake caused considerable damage, the tsunami too with a huge deathtoll. Forces of such magnitude boggles the mind. At this time we await on the consequences to disrupted and damaged nuclear reactors.
The world holds it breath and prays for relief; our sympathy is with the hard-hit Japanese people.
Photo: BBC News
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12726297


THE FRY CHRONICLES - an autobiography| BOOKS

Stephen Fry's 'fry chronicles'

What I knew of Mr Stephen Fry was limited to the roles he played in the Blackadder series (Lord Melchett, later as General Melchett), the Kingdom series, playing country lawyer Peter Kingdom and episodes of A Bit of Fry & Laurie, with Hugh Laurie. More recent his role as quizmaster in QI and Stephen Fry in America where he drives in a London cab through all 50 states of the United States.
There is rarely an actor I would take the trouble of reading an autobiography, but Mr Fry was sufficiently intriguing...

This is actually the second autobiography, an earlier episode of his life was detailed in 'Moab is my Washpot'; I haven't read that one yet.

This autobiography covers the decade or so after he'd done his shameful late-teen jail stint for credit-card theft, and made it, despite his appetites, his addiction, his self-admitted 'slyness', to Cambridge University.
Most of his time there was spent on performing, and even writing, (in) plays; among others, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson, became good friends and their life was lived with huge zest for life and optimism, from one grand idea to another, but without a clear plan for the future.
Having said that, Mr Fry also writes with such an open honesty on his self-doubt, his personal angst, which at some point goes on and on, that the less firm of mind my need a box of kleenex to deal with their tears...

The book is written with such flair, in a style quintessentially English, with a love for words and a cadence and rhythmic flow of sentences, that it would be nice to read almost without any subject at all. Which is certainly not the case here, because Stephen Fry details his career, emotions and many, many people he met during his career to fame.

Note with its 'Contents': all chapters start with a 'C' and there are a lot of them. Just a funny detail in these Chronicles!

Something I read and really could relate to, was this: the only true sin in Fry's world is incuriosity. He doesn't despise people who don't know anything, but he despises, truly despises, the fact that they don't want to know anything, ever... Quite!




Beck crime drama

Martin Beck is a fictional Swedish police detective who is the main character in a series of ten novels by Sjöwall and Wahlöö, collectively titled The Story of a Crime. The stories are often seen largely from his perspective and are frequently referred to as the Martin Beck stories.
Throughout the novels, he goes from being an unhappily married man and father to two young teenagers, to a divorced man in an unmarried relationship. Beck also gets several promotions, seemingly much to the chagrin of everyone involved, including himself. In the novels he is a tall man who smokes. In The Abominable Man he is shot and severely wounded.
All of the novels have been produced as movies, although some appeared with different titles and three have been filmed outside Sweden. In the movies, the first actor to play Martin Beck was Keve Hjelm in 1967. Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt also portrayed Beck in 1976. In 1993 and 1994, Gösta Ekman played the character in six movies based on the novels, as of 1997 Martin Beck is played by Peter Haber.
The most notable actor (to American audiences) to play Martin Beck abroad was Walter Matthau, who in 1973 played him in the movie called The Laughing Policeman, though his character was called 'Jake Martin'.
Martin Beck has also been played by Jan Decleir and Derek Jacobi. Roseanna is the only novel that has been filmed twice.

Peter Alexander Haber (born December 12, 1952 in Stockholm) is a ´Swedish actor. He grew up in Södertälje and in Remscheid, Germany. In 1987 he was hired by the Stockholm City Theatre where he was active until 1994.
The most famous roles that Haber has played are the father Rudolf in the series Sune, Carl Hamilton in "Fiendens fiende" (Enemy's Enemy) and Martin Beck from 1997–2010. Haber has been married since 1990 to the actor Lena T. Hansson.




Canon EOS 7D

A few months ago I was considering replacing my EOS 50D with the 60D; things turned out differently: I bought the EOS 7D.
The photos of the Tony Joe White gig were made with the EOS 7D, shot with ISO 3200. And some of the videos shown on YouTube of this gig were filmed with the 7D. I found the camera, with the batterypack attached, quite heavy to hold steady, but the quality was satisfactorily; I then fell back on my Canon SX20 IS for more relaxed filming (another advantage was the unfolding viewing screen).
Anyway, I am pleased with the EOS 7D, so here is some info on it.

European Advanced SLR Camera 2010-2011: Canon EOS 7D
During extensive development, Canon went back to the drawing board, listening to photographers worldwide in order to design the EOS 7D to meet their specific needs. Incorporating a 18 MP APS-C CMOS sensor, the EOS 7D also features Dual DIGIC 4 processors to offer fast, high-quality performance in all light conditions, an ISO range expandable to 12,800 and continuous shooting at 8 frames per second – without the need for additional accessories.

Commenting on the Canon EOS 7D the EISA judging panel said: “Thanks to its new 19 cross-type AF points, its extremely high ISO settings and a burst mode that allows up to eight frames to be captured in one second, the Canon EOS 7D is the natural choice when it comes to photographing action and sport. The camera uses Canon’s powerful DIGIC 4 processor and an 18-million-pixel APS-C CMOS sensor, which combine to deliver high-quality still pictures and Full HD 1080p movie capture. Though moderately priced, the EOS 7D has a rugged magnesium alloy body shell, is environmentally sealed, and offers a bright, 1x magnification, 100% viewfinder.”





Tony Joe White
Tony Joe White in 'De Boerderij', Zoetermeer (NL) 16Feb2011

Tony Joe White (b. July 23, 1943, Oak Grove, Louisiana) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist best known for his 1969 hit 'Polk Salad Annie'; 'Rainy Night in Georgia', which he wrote but was firstly made popular by Brook Benton in 1970; and 'Steamy Windows', a hit for Tina Turner in 1989. 'Polk Salad Annie' was also recorded by Elvis Presley and Tom Jones.

Tony Joe White was born one of seven children and raised on a cotton farm near the small town of Oak Grove, Louisiana. When Tony Joe was 16, Charles, the oldest of the White children, brought home a Lightnin' Hopkins album and started teaching blues guitar to his younger brother.

In 1967, White signed with Monument Records, which operated from a recording studio in the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, Tennessee, and produced a variety of sounds, including rock and roll, country and Western, and rhythm and blues. Billy Swan was his producer.

Over the next three years, White released four singles with no commercial success stateside, although 'Soul Francisco' was a hit in France. 'Polk Salad Annie' had been released for nine months and written off as a failure by his record label when it finally entered the U.S. charts in July 1969. It climbed into the Top Ten by early August, eventually reaching No. 8, becoming White's biggest hit.

Between 1976 and 1983, White released three more albums, each on a different label. Trying to combine his own swamp-rock sound with the popular disco music at the time, the results were not met with success, and White gave up his career as a singer and concentrated on writing songs.

In 1989, White produced Tina Turner's 'Foreign Affair' album. Playing a variety of instruments on the album, he also wrote four songs, including the title song and the hit single 'Steamy Windows'. As a result of this he became managed by Roger Davies, who was Turner's manager at the time, and he obtained a new contract with Polydor.
The resulting album, 1991's 'Closer to the Truth' was a commercial success and put White back in the spotlight.
In the 1990s, White toured Germany and France with Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton.

In 2000, Hip-O Records released 'One Hot July' in the U.S., giving White his first new major-label domestic release in 17 years. The critically acclaimed 'The Beginning' appeared on Swamp Records in 2001, followed by 'Heroines', featuring several duets with female vocalists including Jessi Colter, Shelby Lynne, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and Michelle White.

White's album entitled 'Uncovered' was released in September 2006 and featured collaborations with Mark Knopfler, Michael McDonald, Eric Clapton, and J. J. Cale.
Deep Cuts was released in 2008, produced by his son Jody, reproducing previously recorded songs. And this was followed by 'The Shine' in 2010, with all new songs, recorded in his familiar laid-back style, described as 'raw and real'.
'Season Man' and 'Tell Me Why' are my favourites of TJW's latest album, but 'Closer To The Truth' is my all time favourite album, a monument in music...

Source of the above mostly found on: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Joe_White
See also www.tonyjoewhite.com

Recordings during the gig at Zoetermeer:

Season Man www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdHyrKbGnPo
Tell Me Why www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e6A--0JFbo
Polk Salad Annie www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-MCrrGCa8Y
Steamy Windows www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gXiZHxARsA
Do You Have A Garterbelt www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6exhiY6V6c


WINNERS GALLERY 2011 | World Press Photo of the Year 2010

World Press Photo



Irene Huss

Like many contemporary Swedish crime writers, such as Henning Mankell, Helene Tursten concocts police procedurals that address social issues. Naturally, there's a murder mystery and plenty of careful, routine police work, but that's just the simple path; all around, the landscape is rustling with societal tensions.

Irene Huss, Tursten's eponymous protagonist, is a 40-something wife, mother, cop, detective and judo expert. She doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of her job, but neither does she exactly embrace them. She is an ordinary person with loved ones, her job isn't something she does because she's tough or obsessed. She's a cop, not a crusader, and she just wants to improve her world a little bit at a time.
Huss (played by actress Angela Kovacs) has her insecurites too: at one point she suspects her husband, a gourmet-cook and owner of a restaurant, of having an affair; only to find her loved ones were preparing a surprise for her 40th burthday. Social issues are also adressed through her relation with her teenage daughters; e.g. Jenny, one of her daughters, falls in love with a boy who happens to be a skinhead in a punk band and is found listening to racist lyrics.

I also quite like how Huss and her associates in the Violent Crimes division of the Göteborg Police Department convene for work meetings in rather unglamorous, cramped quarters of their head office.
Helene Tursten's Sweden may not be a rose-colored land, but neither is it a place of unrelenting gloom.
This dvd box offers 6 episodes, each lasting 90 minutes; the titles were: The Torso (Den Krossade tanghästen),The Horse Figurine (Guldkalven), The Fire Dance (Elddansen), The Night Round (Nattrond), The Glass Devil (Glasdjävulen), and The Gold Digger (Tatuerad torso). They were produced by Illusion Film and Yellow Bird Films (the company that produced in Sweden the Kurt Wallander series with Krister Henriksson, as well as the Stieg Larsson series).

Helene Tursten (b.1954, in Gothenburg) is a Swedish writer of crime fiction. The main character in her stories is Detective Inspector Irene Huss. Before becoming an author, Tursten worked as a nurse and then a dentist, but was forced to leave due to illness. During her illness she worked as a translator of medical articles.

Northern Lights, review of the book 'Detective Inspector Huss'  by Helene Tursten (published in Sweden in 1998, in the UK  published by Soho Press in 2003. Review by Caroline Cummins)



W. Eugene Smith - photography

Today I had the pleasure of visiting the FOAM Gallry in Amsterdam; the main exhibition of the three they had on display was -in my view- the one by W. Eugene Smith, 'More Real Than Reality'.
I found the photography, the subjects as well as the photographer profoundly moving.

The gallery provided a booklet and I quote some of the writing by Enrica Viganò:
'The creative obsession: between virtue and curse.
For W. Eugene Smith, the core of his creative obsession was to make his truth become images and have the entire process of communication under his direct control Documenting reality was only a starting point. Rendering the emotions that reality evoked in photographs was the only possible, authentic way to write with light. For him, the personal integrity and social function of photography were inseperable from the need to create images alive with his thoughts and feelings."

Smith' photography in the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's permeates involvement. His social documentary for Life magazine, his photography with Magnum Photos, all bring out emotions.
His involvement with 'Minamata' goes far beyond merely photography (it shows what photography can mean in terms of world changing tool!). For him personally it had live changing consequences too.

It was a great disappointment to find that the gallery did not have any books of W. Eugene Smith in store anymore; I left my name on a list for whenever they find replenishment.


The FOAM gallery did a find job with this exhibition, very neatly done: www.foam.org

Some more photos and information HERE...



Faces of Tomorrow
Amsterdam, the Netherlands - Vondel Park 2004.07.18

What is the face of London, New York, Paris? What does a Londoner, a New Yorker, a Parisian look like?
The Face of Tomorrow is a concept for a series of photographs that addresses the effects of globalization on identity.
The Face of Tomorrow attempts to find this face by taking photographs of the current inhabitants and compositing their faces to create a typical face. What we get is a new person - a mix of all the people in that city. A face that doesn't exist right now, but a face, it seems, of someone quite real the Face of Tomorrow...


Ian Rankin - Fleshmarket Close

This was the first book I read by Ian Rankin. I'd seen the tv-series Rebus and liked the stories, fine acting by John Hannah and Ken Stott. In a secondhand bookshop on Vancouver Island I bought a number of fairly recent Ian Rankin crime stories, this one was the first I read.
And I liked it very much, looking forward to the other books.

Fleshmarket Close is a 2004 crime novel by Ian Rankin, and is named after a real close off Cockburn Street, Edinburgh. It is the fifteenth of the Inspector Rebus novels.
"Fleshmarket" is the Scots term butcher's market. It was released in the USA under the title Fleshmarket Alley. The novel was the basis for the second episode in the second Rebus television series starring Ken Stott which was aired in 2006.
Detective Inspector John Rebus has no desk to work from, as a hint from his superiors that he should consider retirement, but he and his protegee Siobhan Clarke are still investigating some seemingly unconnected cases. The sister of a dead rape victim is missing; skeletons turn up embedded in a concrete floor; a Kurdish journalist is brutally murdered; and the son of a Glasgow gangster has moved into the Edinburgh vice scene.
The book uses two new settings; a sink estate divided between racist thugs and refugees (based on Wester Hailes), and a small town whose economy is dominated by an internment camp for asylum-seekers (based on Dungavel).

Ian Rankin on Wikipedia



Aaltje van Uylenburgh by Rembrandt van Rijn

Aeltje Uylenburgh, painted by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1632. Considered one of the finest Rembrandts in private hands. It is seen here on display at Mauritshuis in The Hague, on loan.

Portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh, aged 62 (1632).
This masterpiece has been lent by Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo of Naples, Florida, collectors of Dutch and Flemish art. Along with the Rembrandt, they have on show important works by Hendrick Avercamp, Frans Hals, Adriaen van Ostade, and Gerrit Dou .
The Van Otterloos acquired Portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh, aged 62, in 2005 from a Dutch art dealer, who purchased it in 2000 from the estate of the late Baroness Batsheva de Rothchild, a member of the French arm of the dynastic banking family that had owned the painting for three generations.

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606–1669), a native of Leiden, The Netherlands, painted Portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh aged 62, shortly after he moved to Amsterdam in 1631.
It is a striking portrait of the wife of the minister Johannes Sylvius, both of whom were friends of Rembrandt. Aeltje also was the cousin to Rembrandt’s wife-to-be, Saskia, and to the prominent Amsterdam art dealer Hendrick Uylenburgh. The painting depicts an elderly woman with rosy cheeks and warm, brown eyes. At the upper left, Rembrandt has inscribed her age; at the upper right, he has signed and dated the portrait. Aeltje’s traditional cap appears by turns solid and translucent, and a sharp, sinuous brushstroke delineates its edge. The artist has successfully captured the stiffness of his sitter’s starched, white collar as well as the feathering at the neck of her fur-trimmed garment. The oval painting reflects Rembrandt’s familiar use of black-on-black tones.
[Source: www.theartwolf.com/news/rembrandt-mfa.htm]

This portrait was on display as part of the exhibition 'Made in Holland', highlights of a collection of Eijk and Rose-Marie de Mol van Otterloo; 44 Old Dutch masterpieces. A wonderful collection.
'Thanks for sharing' we say these days!

Rembrandt on Wikipedia



WAR by Eddy van Wessel

'WAR, my personal story', is a photo exhibition (11Dec2010-06Mar2011) of Eddy van Wessel's work in Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan - showing the horror in the aftermath of wars of recent years. Death, destruction and despair preserved for history by Eddy's fine photography and courage to get to the scene of 'crime'.
One particular shocking photo showed someone who had been hanged in the streets of Grozny, the photo was made from what looked like a bomb crater and the caption told us that minutes after the photo had been taken Eddy himself was under fire...

The photos were on display in the catacombs of Woerden's Castle (near Utrecht), which has been converted to a cultural centre and includes a fine dining restaurant.

More photos by me of this exhibition HERE...



Last night I was watching on dvd the film 'The Green Zone', with Matt Damon. Matt Damon as Roy Miller in The Green Zone
That kind of film usually would not rate in my Top Ten of films, but I like Matt Damon as an action hero (his third collaboration with Director Paul Greengass: The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Supremecy) and the story actually isn't bad either, quite fascinating in fact.

Matt Damon plays Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, who leads a team of military looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), and while he seeks in and around Baghdad he can't find any. The official line is they have good 'intel', he finds himself stonewalled by his superiors when he shows the leads are bogus...
He discovers that before the US troops invaded Iraq (because of the WMD), a meeting had taken place with a high ranking member of the Ba'ath party, who admitted there weren't any WMD. Miller attempts to find this politician, but is obstructed by Americans who see this as a threat to the official policies and not in the interest of 'installing Democracy in Iraq'.
Miller also finds how the media has been duped, selling the story of the WMD to the public for the government.

Now back to real life.
It so happens that former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter tried to persuade journalists to listen to his evidence about the lack of any WMD, during the build-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Ritter did get some coverage, but his statements were balanced by counter-statements from government sources who insisted he was wrong. And, of course, when government agencies produced 'new leads' to the WMD's, Ritter wasn't called to counter-balance those reports.

From Wikipedia:
"In the Pitt interview, Ritter also remarked on several examples of members of the Bush or Clinton administration making statements he "knew to be misleading or false" with regard to Iraqi WMD’s.
In his letter of resignation, Ritter said the Security Council's reaction to Iraq's decision earlier that month to suspend co-operation with the inspection team made a mockery of the disarmament work. Ritter later said, in an interview, that he resigned from his role as a United Nations weapons inspector over inconsistencies between United Nations Security Council Resolution 1154 and how it was implemented."

Truth is often stranger than fiction. We now know the American government, and the British, lied to sell the war on Iraq to the public and taxpayer. And the media was too easily duped and degraded to a propaganda instrument.

I was shocked to read in the same Wikipedia article that Ritter was arrested in April 2001 and again in June 2001 in connection with police stings in which officers posed as under-aged girls to arrange meetings of a sexual nature. Ritter is scheduled to face trial on other criminal charges on March 8, 2011.
Knowing how governments like to trump up sex charges to discredit someone who is successfully opposing the government (Julian Assange and the Swedish sex charges quickly comes to mind), I cannot help but feel Ritter is being targeted by Uncle Sam's agencies?!

Perhaps a sequel in it to the Green Zone..?

Green Zone on IMDB
Scott Ritter on Wikipedia



Like in many countries the government in the Netherlands is applying cuts in spending. While a military re-entry in Afghanistan is being considered (having withdrawn only a few months ago), the government budget cuts seem to focus mainly on education, culture and care in its widest shape and form.
The (minority) government in power consist of 2 parties, one of which was severely beaten at the last elections, punished for its previous spell in power. The Prime Minister Mark Rutte is hell-bend on getting his targets but also on a tight lease by the PVV party, a special construction to keep the VVD and CDA parties governing.
The PVV head honcho is Geert Wilders, who has surrounded himself by people who appear regularly in the media with character flaws or have kept stum about convictions in their pasts. The party has made a name for themselves using one-liners befitting ill-informed citizens or punching their 'primary emotions' button.

I have the distinct impression the Dutch government also condones more violence towards anyone upholding the law or their political course (career?).

Below article describes (in Dutch, but the photo speaks a universal laguage) how the riot police took action on a demonstration protesting against cuts in th education budget; newspaper articles later described how most who were arrested needed to be released and only 7 remained appeared for the magistrate for having thrown stones and THROWING FENCES DOWN... Phewww!

An aspiring, and inspired, journalist/reporter went to the frontline and recorded on JAN. 21st:
Dutch Democracy unlimited

Rop Gonggrijp also knows about dealings with the law. Coincidentally he wrote the following a few days ago:

"There’s this article in the dutch press today which covers a provincial candidate for the PVV (the party of Geert Wilders). He’s a cop (or maybe ex-cop, the article doesn’t say) who in 2003 got a fine for beating a suspect that was already in handcuffs. But it’s not that fact that bothers me enough to blog about it. It’s the explanation by the PVV member of national parliament, himself a long-time ex-cop, charged with helping to select the candidates:
MP André Elissen, who helped select the candidates, calls it 'a small incident'. “In the current day and age, this would be handled with a stern talking to. In that time, a police officer wasn’t allowed to do anything.“
Never mind these people’s opinions. They might be fine upstanding citizens (although I’m guessing we probably disagree on some pretty fundamental issues). I just mostly wonder if it’s true what’s said here. Are we really at the point where dutch cops can beat suspects in handcuffs and risk nothing but maybe a stern talking to? So it’s like what? Getting donuts for yourself only? Coming to work late? Not properly filling out some form? Leaving the headlights on again?

Sign o' the Times? God help us.


DUTCH WORDS THAT LEFT THEIR MARK ON AMERICAN ENGLISH Waffle- a crisp cake made of pancake batter baked in a waffle iron, eaten hot with butter or molasses.
From Dutch WAFEL meaning a light, flat pastry with a diamond-shaped pattern, adopted in the 17th or 18th century. The Dutch pastry name WAFEL is derived from WEVEN ('to weave') and related to German Wabe ('honeycomb').

Sea Bass, any of the fishes of the family Serranidae, esspecially the black sea bass, found along the Atlantic Coast. Probably from the Dutch ZEEBAARS, adopted in the 17th or 18th century.

Span, a pair of horses, mules, or other animals usually matched in looks and action, and driven together. From Dutch SPAN, meaning ' two or more yoked draft animals', adopted in 17th or 18th century and still in use.

Burgomaster, the chief magistrate of a town. From Dutch BURGEMEESTER, meaning ' chief magistrate of a town'; borrowed in 17th century and now a historical term.

Bush, woods. From Dutch BOS (or older BOSCH), meaning woods, forest. Borrowed in the 17th century. Bushwick was originally named Boswijck, until it was transferred to the English in 1664. Flatbush was Vlak-bosch in Dutch (meaning level forest).

Canal, from Dutch KANAAL, meaning 'channel, artificial watercourse, irrigation ditch'.

Stoop, a porch, platform, entrance stairway, or a small varanda at a house door. From Dutch STOEP, previously 'stone steps at the entrance of a house', adopted in the 17th century and still in use.

Bakery, a place where baked products are made and sold, a bake-house or baker's shop. Probably from Dutch BAKKERIJ, meaning Baker's Shop. The British English counterpart is Baker's Shop.

Dollar, from Dutch DALER, adopted in 17th century. The Dutch coin DAALDER (formerly Daler) is derived from Low German name daler, which in turn is derived from High German Thaler, a shortened form of Joachimst(h)aler - a coin minted from silver from the mine in Joachimsthal (present-day Jachymov in north Bohemia in the Czech Republic).
These coins were produced from 1519 onwards.
In the Low Countries the name DALER was also used to refer to coins that were minted in Dutch provinces from as early as 1538. The name Daler was adopted in British English and spelled in a variety of ways, e.g.: daler, dallor and dolor. In the 17th century occasionally as Dollar. The monetary units in England however, were pounds, shillings and pence.
The Dutch brought their DAALDERS to New Netherland. The first coins that they brought were known as LEEUWENDAALDERS, daalders which were minted in the Low Countries from 1575 onwards and featured a lion. This name was adopted into American English as LION DOLLAR, while the name DOLLER was used simulteously. Another name was Dog Dollar.

In 2011, while visiting Scotland, I came across a Daaler coin, check HERE..



News is now a product, a business where commercial rules apply: maxium output, fast turnover, against minimal costs.
This resulted in cuts in staff, less time to find stories, less time to check facts, collapse of old supply lines, the rise of PR and wire agencies as an inherently inadequate substitute, truth-telling collapsing into high-speed processing...

The American media critic Ben Bagdikian has traced the corporate takeover in the United States.
In 1997, he wrote about the corporations producing America's newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books and films: 'With each passing year... the number of controlling firms in all these media has shrunk: from 50 corporations in 1984 to 26 in 1987, followed by 23 in 1990, and then as the borders between the different media began to blur, to less than 20 in 1993. In 1996 the number of media corporations with dominant power in society is closer to 10.'
By 2004 he found, the US media were dominated by just 5 companies: Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany and Viacom.
These coporations have imposed their grocers' logic on the profession. According to the Newspaper Association of America, the number of people employed in the industry there fell by 18% between 1990 and 2004.

Source: FLAT EARTH NEWS -by Nick Davies


In Amsterdam, but I know of more cities here in the Netherlands applying the same regulations, they have found new measures to deal with the problem of parking space for cars.
Effective Feb.2011 people who live in appartment buildings which have in-house parking space, can no longer apply for a parking permit outside in the streets.
So if a person previously paid for a parking permit in the street, costing e.g. euro 17,50 a month, he will now be forced to buy a parking space, costing anywhere near euro 35.000!

I know of someone who was confronted by a similar situation and has been forced to park his car away from his house in a parking free-zone, forcing him to walk kilometers between house and car! The city council wasn't even moved by the fact that due to circumstances beyong his control he was unemployed.

The Netherlands these days, see a greater division between the 'HAVES' &'HAVE-NOTS'



Fundamenten vna de Stad
A rather remarkable book, of a type I don't read very often: very technical.
The book is a compilation of columns written by Ad Tissink for the newspaper Het Parool (published in The Netherlands, largely focusses on Amsterdam).
This book is all about building on very soggy soil. Amsterdam is built on a material as solid as pea soup, really.
I never realized so many piles were driven into the gound while building and expanding Amsterdam over the centuries. And in such variety. Truly a science and some may even say: a scientific form of art!
Consider this: the Royal Palace on the Dam alone has been built on 13.658 piles!

The old piles were made of wood and that's still good material (if they remain under water), but these days they are also made to order of various materials suited to the task. Concrete can be poured or injected, for all sorts of tasks. Viruses and bacteria play a role. The piles can be hammered in but besides big bangs there are also ways to hammer them 'quietly', or press them down, or rotate them...
And the specialised jobs that go with this work is amazing too.

Truly an interesting book, though it may only be available in Dutch.



This website / blog by the New York Times shows remarkable photography, often has explanation of where & when plus link for further information. Great to explore!



Streets Of The World

Streets of the World by Jeroen Swolfs:
"For the first time in history it is possible to visit all countries in the world in a free, transparent and fast way. It's possible; therefor I want to see and do it. I want to find out what the world looks like in our time. How far have we come, how much are we alike and how different are we. I want to meet the people from my time. To capture a small part, but a part indeed of their lives.
Today mankind as a species is more connected than ever. The very serious problems we face today are global. Climate change, worldwide poverty and terrorism are not regional problems, but the shared problems of a divided world.
Modern information networks such as television and the internet make the problems of someone on the other side of the world our own, whether we like it or not.
This is why I think it is time for a project that shows the world as one world. By taking photos and making films in the streets of the world, in all the capitals of the world, I hope to be able to make a comparison between those streets.
The combination of these streets will create a portrait of what our world looks like today. A positive look on what humanity looks like at the beginning of the 21st century. All countries. Thus making visible what humanity is."
Jeroen Swolfs: www.streetsoftheworld.com/about_me


Heroin is not a poison.
Contrary to popular belief, pure heroin, properly handled , is a benign drug.

In the words of a 1965 New York study by Dr Richard Brotman: 'Medical knowledge has long since laid to rest the myth that opiates observably harm the body.' Contrary to popular belief, it is rather difficult to kill yourself with heroin: the gap between a therapeutic and a fatal dose is far wider than it is, for example, with paracetamol. It is addictive - and that is a good reason not to use it - but its most notable side effect on the physical, mental and moral condition of its users is constipation. The truth is that all of its illness and misery and death which are associated with heroin are, in fact, the effects not of the drug itself but of the black market on which it is sold. as a result of this war against drugs.
Black-market heroin becomes poisonous and dangerous because unsrcupulous dealers cut it with all kinds of pollutants to increase their profit. Black-market addicts contract diseases, because they use dirty injecting equipment. Black-market users overdose accidentally, because they have no idea of the purity of the batch they are using. Black-market addicts are thin, not because the drug makes them thin, but because they have to give all their money to dealers. Black-market addicts commit crime, not because the drug makes them immoral, but because they have no other way to fund their habit.

For decades, pharmaceutical heroin was prescribed by doctors to patients who had become addicted after operations, particularly soldiers who had undergone battlefield surgery. They spent years on a legal supply: it did them no damage, and they led healthy, fruitful lives. Enid Bagnold, for example, who wrote National Velvet, was prescribed it after a hip operation and then spent twelve years injecting up to 350mg a day. Enid - as far as history records - never mugged a single person or sold her body in the streets, but died quietly in bed at the age of ninety-one.
Until the American prohibitionists closed him down in the 1920s, Dr Willis Butler ran a famous clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, for some of these 'therapeuric addicts'. Among his patients, he included four doctors, two church ministers, two retired judges, an attorney, an architect, a newspaper editor, a musician from the symphony orchestra, a printer, two glass blowers and the mother of the commissioner of police. None of them showed any ill effect from the years which they spent on Dr Butler's prescriptions. And, as Dr Butler later recalled: 'I never found one we could give an overdose to, even if we had wanted to. I saw one man take twelve grains intravenously at one time. He stood up and said, "There, that's just fine," and went on about his business.'

The truth about the prohibition of heroin is that it creates the very problems which it pretends to solve: causing the sickness and death which it claims to be preventing; provoking the crime and disorder which it wants to stop.

Flat Earth News / Nick Davies; a fascinating book on news being widely accepted as the truth, until someone actually checks & verifies it.

>>Prohibition is business<< -Al Capone



It is like the sun never existed.
The light looks like filtered
through a wet cloth.
God' s curtains only half opened.
A dripping world,
droplets echo
the faint ticking of heating pipes.

Pigeons move up a branch,
silent and without pleasure,
they sit
and shit on parked cars.

The world drips.
In slow motion, it waits for me
made up in faded watercolours
and shades of grey.

When I think of finding things to do,
the phone rings.
It is the garage, car reported ready from repairs.
So I will collect it
and pigeons can shit on it;
pleasure found
in the falling rain.



Daniel Rosenthal

Came across this remarkable website, with excellent social documentary by Daniel Rosenthal; his photography shows huge commitment and involvement.

Daniel was born in 1973, in Wiesbaden (Germany).
After receiving a diploma in photodesign from Lette-School-Berlin, Daniel worked as a newsphotographer for several papers and later on studied photojournalism at the London College of Communication. Since then he specialized in reportage photography for a number of national and international clients covering news, social topics and personal projects worldwide. His work was published in GEO, Stern, de Volkskrant, Chrismon, Greenpeace magazine, Focus, Profil, Sunday Times Magazine, Independent Saturday Magazine, Vrij Nederland...
Daniel is a regular contributor for the newspaper 'De Volkskrant' in the Netherlands and had exhibitions in London, New York, Berlin. He published "Mitten am Rand", a photobook on the plight of street children in Berlin.
Daniel is currently based in Berlin, Germany.





I am a huge fan of Wikipedia, in spite of the cynical reactions one may hear when quoting from Wikipedia.

Every year Wikipedia has to pass the hat for fund-raising, to continue its existence. It offers a huge amount of information, all the work is done by volunteers. Still, funding is required of course.
The growing amount of information needs maintenance, so while growing it will need an increasing amount of maintenance...
By the end of 2009 Wikipedia found a budget of 7.5 million sufficient.
This time the aim was to bring in 20 million euro, by the end of 2010, but the mark showed 12 million euro (16 million US dollars). Fortunately this will be sufficient to continue throughout 2011.
The average donation was 22 euro.
Let us hope Wikipedia can continue its good work, it is said that some 400 million people browse the Free Online Encyclopedia!




Rich Hall

Saw the rudely funny Rich Hall on the BBC a few nights ago: Rich Hall with Special Guests Otis Lee Crenshaw (his alter ego, see above!) and the Honky Tonk A**holes in “Hell No I Ain’t Happy”: absolutely HILARIOUS!!!

Rich Hall (b. 10Jun54) is an American stand-up comedian, writer, playwright and occasional musician, notably known as a regular guest on British panel shows. He currently lives in London with his wife Karen and their daughter, Dixie Rae.
Outside his homeland, Hall has also achieved popularity in the United Kingdom, where he has lived on-and-off for twenty-three years. He spends part of his time during the off-seasons writing plays in the United States where he has a small ranch just outside Livingston, Montana. The rest of the time is spent in London, where he owns a flat. Hall is a guest on popular BBC panel quiz shows, most notably as a regular guest on QI.


Billy Collins - Poetry

A few months ago I bought a book by Dutch writer, Kees van Kooten, who introduced me to the poetry of Billy Collins with this book.
Van Kooten 'translated' 26 poems and added comments to them; the words, style and humor come across clearly. Both writers made me happy reader!
Subsequently I purchased 'Nine Horses' by Billy Collins, which is among the pile of books I am reading now.
While reading a newspaper it is often a pleasant moment to read about some rare good news and indeed a few pages of poetry by Billy Collins has the same effect on me.

It´s only a cold, cloud-hooded weekday
in the middle of winter,
but I am sitting up in my body
like a man riding an elephant
draped with a carpet of red and gold,
his turban askew,
singing a song about the return of the cranes.

And I am inside my own head
like a tiny homunculus,
a creature so excited over his naked existence
that he scurries all day
from one eye socket to the other
just to see what scenes are unfolding before me,
what streets, what pastures.

And to think that just hours ago
I was as sour as Samuel Johnson
with a few bad sherries in him,
quarreling in a corner of the Rat and Parrot,
full of scorn for the impertinence of men,
the inconstancy of women.

And to think further that I have no idea
what might have uplifted me,
unless it was when I first opened
the front door to look at the sky
so extensive and burdened with snow,
or was it this morning
when I walked along the reservoir?

Was it when the dog
scared up some ducks off the water
and I stopped to watch them flapping low
over the frozen surface,
and I counted them in flight,
all seven - the leader and six hurrying behind.

Ignorance - Nine Horses


See also my blogs 2013Q3 and 2017Q4




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Created: 02-JAN-2011