Before going off to New York for two weeks, I was planning to put up a post on Bertolt's brother and Kurt's sister. Unfortunately, my internet research has yielded slim pickings for non-German speakers like myself.
Walter was a professor of paper production, he wrote this book about the Brechts and, in 1972, he won the Lampén Medal of the Finnish Paper Engineers Association. Of Ruth, I discovered that Kurt wrote a piece of music for her confirmation (a precursor of the batmitzvah ceremony originating in 19th century Reform Judaism in Germany) and subsequently wrote her a couple of letters. Other than that: bupkes.
Of course, if none of this interests you and it's actually the Finnish Paper Engineers Association that floats your boat, there's loads of stuff. Start here.
The Corneliu M Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation 2005 has been won by The Bridge, a book of poems by Marin Sorescu, everybody's favourite Romanian poet (well, mine anyway), translated by Adam J Sorkin and Lidia Vianu. Sorescu died at the end of 1996. Here are a couple of his last poems.
Most of you will be disappointed to learn that you missed the third annual Goatapalooza festival, which took place last weekend in Marshall County, Tennessee. The "Goats, Music and More Festival" honouring all things goat, was initally launched as a way to increase tourism in Marshall County. "It's similar to Mule Day in Maury County," said Gina Jones, who works in the Chamber of Commerce. More information is available here.
But don't despair. If you live in the Seattle area, you can still make Ratapalooza on 12 November.
The Financial Times yesterday reported on a South African draft law aimed at curbing mercenary activities. According to the report, the law would effectively bar South African nationals from working for the US or UK military in Iraq, but give them leave to take part in the 'insurgency'.
The bill, a copy of which has been made available to the Financial Times, also has extraordinary extra-territorial sweep, in that it would also apply to non South Africans travelling in the country.
It would mean that senior executives of companies working as contractors in war zones such as Iraq would face arrest should they visit South Africa - even if their actions were legal in both their own country and the country in which they were operating. ... The bill bars people from acting as combatants for private gain in armed conflict and also forbids the recruitment, training, supporting or financing of such combatants. Most controversially, it bars the provision of many services in conflict zones.
But the bill makes a specific exemption for acts "committed during a struggle waged by peoples in the exercise or furtherance of their legitimate right" to national liberation, self-determination, independence against colonialism or "resistance against occupation, aggression or domination by alien or foreign forces". ... The move to strengthen the law comes largely in reaction to last year's foiled coup plot in Equatorial Guinea, apparently planned in South Africa, and the US-led war in Iraq, where more than 1,000 South Africans are estimated to be working. Professor Kader Asmal, chairman of parliament's defence committee, told the FT last September that MPs wanted to "close the loopholes" in the existing law.
There has been a lot of discussion – I'm not sure it qualifies as debate – in the British press recently about the pros and cons of different pieces of proposed legislation. Current hot topics are one bill outlawing glorification of terrorism and another addressing expressions of religious hatred. Putting my cards on the table, I have signed a PEN petition against the latter and am undecided on the former. (I'd be happier if the bill tackled promotion or active support of terrrorism rather than glorification, but I might still be prepared to back it. I don't think we're on the road to a police state here.)
I'm sure this has been covered elsewhere, but it seems that oponents of legislation, or indeed of any course of political action, fall into two categories: those whose opposition is based on what they perceive as the intended consequences of the legislation and those who are repelled by what they see as the unintended consequences of the legislation. The latter do not impute evil motives to the framers, but feel that the actions of the legislators, while perhaps well-intentioned, could lead to bad results.
I'm wondering, just wondering (not sure), if the same distinction can be drawn among proponents of particular pieces of legislation or political action.
(I'm writing this while listening to Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain – which I mention only to point out that there is an album by Stewart Curtis' K-Groove called Smoked Salmon Salsa, on which there is a track entitled Sketches of Chrane. Worth a listen.)
Living within a short walking distance of Stamford Hill in North London, I have long been intrigued by the range of chassidic hats. Hasidism is an umbrella term for a number of different groupings around particular 'rebbes' and towns of origin and my assumption was always that the different hats reflected different allegiances. Apparently, it's not so simple. If your knowledge of the difference between shtreimels and spodeks is sketchy, this Brooklyn mini-study will help.
When I was at school long, long ago, I hated (really hated) athletics, especially the run-up to Sports Day and the consequent need to demonstrate a degree of willing in such ludicrous events as 100 metre hurdles and 400 metre relay races. I clearly remember, on one occasion, a teacher (I believe Mr Cole, the physics teacher) standing on the sports field at Mount Pleasant High School in Harare (then Salisbury) shouting through a megaphone: "Schwartz and Myers, I know you're hiding somewhere in the changing room, come out NOW!"
Different times, different context: I'm happy to take the baton from Norm with a minimum of fumbling and run with this meme.
Directions: 1. Go into your archive. 2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to). 3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to). 4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
My 23rd post was called 'Neckties and mercenaries (as promised)'.
The 5th sentence was:
I’d put my money on the Croatian connection myself (though cracking a school tie like a whip made a very pleasing noise, when I was a certain age).
Putting the two (Norm's and mine) together, you get this:
The officials said the former leader, who during his rule slept in lush palaces while many ordinary Iraqis lived in poverty, was found "cowering" in a basement in a home raided by coalition soldiers. I’d put my money on the Croatian connection myself (though cracking a school tie like a whip made a very pleasing noise, when I was a certain age).
Make of that what you will.
Next up, how about Will? I'm talking individual rather than collective. Wouldn't want to encourage any drunken squabbling.
PS. Since Myers went on to design the Psion personal organiser, I reckon it's safe to assume that he too overcame the handicap of being 'crap at sport' at a Rhodesian school.