Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Killers cover Bright Eyes, terrorism postpones Killers

Only one of those nouns is to be taken literally...

This Killers cover of Bright Eyes is great.

A couple weeks ago the Killers concert in Amsterdam was postponed due to terrorism. IKEA was also affected. Terrorism really sucks.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Smug, rich, and genetic freaks

From Spiegel Online International:

Twins Suspected in Spectacular Jewelry Heist Set Free

Saved by their indistinguishable DNA, identical twins suspected in a massive jewelry heist have been set free. Neither could be exclusively linked to the DNA evidence.

German police say at least one of the identical twin brothers Hassan and Abbas O. may have perpetrated a recent multimillion euro jewelry heist in Berlin. But because of their indistinguishable DNA, neither can be individually linked to the crime. Both were set free on Wednesday.

In the early morning hours of February 25, three masked men broke into Germany's famous luxury department store Kaufhaus Des Westens (KaDeWe). Video cameras show how they climbed into the store's grand main hall, broke open cabinets and display cases and made off with an estimated €5 million worth of jewelry and watches.

When police found traces of DNA on a glove left at the scene of the crime, it seemed that the criminals responsible for Germany's most spectacular heist in years would be caught. But the DNA led to not one but two suspects -- 27-year-old identical, or monozygotic, twins with near-identical DNA.

German law stipulates that each criminal must be individually proven guilty. The problem in the case of the O. brothers is that their twin DNA is so similar that neither can be exclusively linked to the evidence using current methods of DNA analysis. So even though both have criminal records and may have committed the heist together, Hassan and Abbas O. have been set free.

Both brothers have stolidly refused to comment ever since their arrests on February 11. Since no further evidence has become available, police cannot detain them.

"Those who remain silent are not necessarily covering up their guilt, but rather simply making use of their constitutional rights," Hassan O.'s lawyer Axel Weimann told Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper on Wednesday. He also noted that the glove with DNA evidence was not necessarily proof that either twin had been at the scene of the crime, since it could have been placed there by someone else in order to frame the brothers.

According to the daily, the twins sent a message that they were "proud of the German constitutional state and gave it their thanks."

There is still no trace of a third suspect -- or the loot.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Look into my eyes

Brazilian President Lula blames blue-eyed people for the economic crisis; Maureen Dowd hilariously responds with a history of blue-eyed envy. As she points out, blue-eyed dominance has been waning since she was a child.

More than just a general shift of beauty standards, the decline of the blue-eyed ideal comes also from genetic mixing. Blue eyes are on the decline, as more brown-eyed folks are raising in the ranks, procreating with baby blues, then dominating the recessive blue-eyed gene. It's nice to see that people are becoming more color-blind when it comes to choosing a mate (so long as that mate is also successful and rich). Plus, we should really stop the blue-eyed incest. Turns out we're all related. The comments section in that last link is gold. Blue-eyed racism raises its ugly--er, beautiful--head as people feel the need to point out the beauty of the blue eyes led to their natural selection.

Actually, they say the same thing about blondes. But not everyone agrees. Says some blonde model:
“I don’t think being blonde makes you more ripe for sexual activity. It’s much more to do with personality than what you look like. Beauty is much deeper than the colour of your hair.”
Deep, indeed.

Reminds me something my Swedish friend told me about why Swedish girls are so attractive. Apparently, the story goes that the vikings took all the beautiful girls from England and brought them back to Sweden with them. I guess that also explains why British girls are so unattractive. I keed, I keed.

As for the financial crisis, I think we should blame people with penises. Seriously, if we're going to attack a phenotype, that one catches most of them.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's a shame joke t-shirts are only cool if you're a thirteen year old boy...

There's a video that goes along with this, but it's a little much.

Tortuous road to justice

The same Spanish judge responsible for the arrest of Chilean dictator Pinochet in 1998 is now trying to bring justice to the American torture defenders.

According to Harper Magazine's Scott Horton, an anonymous source named UC Berkeley's John Yoo and former attorney general Alberto Gonzales as being targets in the criminal probe. While such probes usually amount to more of a public shaming than an actual carrying out of justice (sound familiar?), that kind of shaming can be important. John Yoo got a hero's welcome at CMC last year (as did Karl Rove this year). I'd love to see the school renouncing both of them on account of them being war criminals, as well as huge jerks.

Baltasar Garzon has a long history of fighting the good fight, and doing so righteously. A couple years ago he had this to say about the War on Terror (from the New York Times):

"A model like Guantánamo is an insult to countries that respect laws," Judge Garzón said in an interview during a counterterrorism conference in Florence in late May. "It delegitimizes us. It is a place that needs to disappear immediately."

Garzon is known for being tough on terrorism as well as on world leaders/criminals. I'm impressed by his creative application of universal jurisdiction in trying those who have committed crimes against humanity. Many European countries have invoked this principle and I'm optimistic that eventually one will take. Once it does, the impunity celebrated by Bush and his cronies will hopefully start to crumble.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tina Fey's Twitter gives me a complex about my Facebook statuses

They are mostly about food. I really love her.


Let's put our cards on the table: I dutch oven you -hilarious. You dutch oven me -I barf in the bed.
4:44 AM Mar 11th from web

Amos probably didn't start out Famous, but with cookies this good, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
10:55 AM Feb 12th from web

Am I eating a Caramello bar for lunch? Yes. Yes I am.
12:06 PM Feb 3rd from web

What does Monica Lewinski say to her new boyfriend? "It's close, but it's no cigar."
8:28 AM Jan 20th from web

I like my men like my peanut butter: chunky.
7:45 PM Jan 19th from web

Are Eggrolls just Chinese Hotpockets?
2:22 PM Jan 16th from web

I don't know why I even bother chewing corn anymore.
2:45 PM Jan 13th from web

I'm not ashamed to admit this can of cheetos has been rolling around my desk drawer since 2006. And they're still good.
7:26 AM Jan 9th from web

You tell the sandwich artist "a dab of mayo" and they slather it. It's almost like they're not being paid a living wage or something.
8:44 PM Dec 22nd, 2008 from web

Somewhere a man named Barack Obama sits on a toilet and thinks the same thing I do: I need to trim my toe nails.
11:11 AM Nov 15th, 2008 from web

Why do they say, "I'm Prairie Doggin' it", when "I'm doin' a turdle!" would make more sense. And be punny.
9:37 AM Nov 13th, 2008 from web

"But Daddy, Obama's kids are getting a puppy, why can't I?" Because Daddy voted for McCain.
9:05 PM Nov 4th, 2008 from web

8:02 PM Nov 4th, 2008 from web

Is it too early for nachos?
6:42 AM Nov 3rd, 2008 from web

Halloween is good because I can pretend I'm buying candy to give away.
10:15 AM Oct 18th, 2008 from web

So basically jazz is amazing. But only old jazz! None of this midi bullshit. Fuck you smooth jazz.
3:44 PM Oct 13th, 2008 from web

My aborted fetus knows more about economic policy than John McCain.
10:51 AM Oct 7th, 2008 from web

Has anyone else noticed that the Whatchamacallit is seriously underrepresented in many of today's fine vending machines?
9:41 AM Oct 6th, 2008 from web

I'm a multitasker. Which is why I nap on the toilet.
5:54 PM Oct 5th, 2008 from web

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Down and out down under

It's been an interesting week in Australia.
  1. A retired judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and Federal Court of Australia was sentenced to three years imprisonment (with a non-parole period of two years), for attempting to pervert the course of justice. You can read the sentencing judgment here. A recipient of Australia’s second highest civilian honour and previously deemed a national living treasure, Marcus Einfeld was the first (serving or retired) judge to be imprisoned in Australia. He perjured himself while trying to avoid a $77 speeding fine. In US currency, that’s about $53. He told police, the Courts and pretty much everyone else (including national television) that a friend of his was driving the car at the time the speed camera clicked. Trouble was, the person Einfeld was trying to pin the crime on died in 2003. Wtf mate.
  2. Heads of government in Australian states are called premiers. Today, Anna Bligh became the first female in Australian political history to be elected premier in her own right.
  3. Australia’s Prime Minister wants to give 8.7 million of us nine hundred bucks, just because he’s a nice guy (and we’re sliding into recession). This guy thinks it’s unconstitutional. Thanks, guy.
  4. Two Australians died in Afghanistan.
In other (older and less Australian) news, Bob Dylan is releasing a new studio album, the first since the much overrated Modern Times (in 2006). I’ll use that as an excuse to post some of my favourite Dylan videos.

I haven't seen all of Eat the Document, but these two clips are really cool.

It’s also World Poetry Day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Betcha think this song is about you...

As a friend of mine put it, a few times a year, Jon Stewart saves America.

Thanks, Jon.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Who loves math?


I'm so glad that congress has officially proclaimed tomorrow, March 14, to be National Pi Day. I'm even happier to note that this was debated for a full forty minutes before they even voted on it. It's ok, we all know the economic crises of the future are being thwarted by the promotion of Pi Day today. And how bout that roll call? Proving once and for all that 5 in 86 Republicans hate math.

Anyway, what does one do on Pi Day?

Here are suggestions!

1. Send all your friends (even the Republicans) a Pi Day ecard.
2. Write a Pi-ku.
3. Memorize as much of Pi as you can.
4. Bake and eat delicious pi[e]s! My favorite is pecan.

Happy Pi Day, everyone!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sí podemos!

El Salvador goes to the polls on Saturday, and things are looking positive for an FMLN victory. Mauricio Funes, the party's presidential nominee and former El Salvadoran TV personality, is helping to solidify the new, tamer image of the once revolutionary guerrilla organization.

The right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) has held control of the government in El Salvador since 1989, thanks in no small part to the political pressures of the United States. ARENA was eager to receive all W. in particular had to offer ($$$) and implemented not only economic policies that would make Milton Freedman cry with joy, but human rights abuses that made many more weep in despair. And then there's their joining the Coalition of the Willing, the only Latin American country to do so. Thanks, guys! In return, you get...one of the highest crime rates in the world. And freedom, of course.

As Dick Cheney said (and really sorry for making everyone remember Dick Cheney) in 2004: "[T]oday El Salvador is a whale of a lot better because we held free elections."

Free elections? Really?

In 2004, several members of the U.S. congress threatened to block remittances of El Salvadoran workers if FMLN won the elections. This time around, more than thirty members of the U.S. congress have signed a letter to President Obama calling for non-interference in the elections.

In an ironic turn of events in both the U.S. and El Salvador, this election has FMLN tying itself to the new U.S.American government. Funes has been using an image of Barack Obama , as well his catch-phrase, in FMLN campaign advertisements. Of course, there are those who scoff at such a comparison. The once radical Obama (in the eyes of the conservative news media) becomes a holy beacon of American values when compared to the next Hugo Chavez. William Booth is quick to point out the long-standing friendship between ARENA-led El Salvador and the U.S.:

Funes's opponent is Rodrigo Ávila, 44, former chief of the National Police, who represents the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), which was formed by Cold War conservatives and was the winner of the last four presidential contests. Ávila says Funes is a puppet who will serve his true masters -- the FMLN hardliners who want to turn El Salvador into a Venezuelan satellite, under the influence of President Hugo Chávez.

As for the Obama comparison, Ávila is skeptical. "I don't know what he's talking about," Ávila said in an interview before a midday rally at a soccer field in San Vicente on Sunday, as he was being mobbed by women and children wanting a hug. "He's claiming a lot of different things. I don't know about the comparison. Obama speaks English. Obama graduated from college."

Ávila speaks fluent English and graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in industrial engineering. He also attended the FBI National Academy. Funes speaks little English and did not finish his literature degree at the University of Central America.

Obama speaks English? Really? Obama lives in America! How 'bout this one: Obama's monolingual too. Also, only about 1/3 of El Salvadorans even make it past the ninth grade. Man of the people, perhaps? But really, way to take a ridiculous campaign statement and try to pretend it's relevant, Booth. Next thing you know, Avila will be claiming he's just like Alvin Ailey because their names both start with "A" and you'll be all like, ahh yes, and here's a list of other people whose last names start with "A." But then again, if women and children love him...

Clearly, Funes is piggy-backing on the power of change. As Roger Atwood noted in Mother Jones:
Just as Americans overcame the nonsense about Obama being a Muslim or terrorist, so Salvadorans can overcome the fear of electing a leftist as president.
It's only fitting that a change in American politics can help bring about change worldwide.Yes we can? Sí podemos!

Felix Frankfurter

For some unknown reason, I have acquired a recent interest in Israel. While leafing through the pages of one of Felix Frankfurter's books of papers and addresses, I found an address given in tribute to Israel on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

The address is curiously realist. Frankfurter noted that "paeans of praise are so spent upon [Israel] that I think there is hardly a realization, even on the part of those who see what has been done, of what had to be undone." He highlighted the achievement by quoting Mark Twain from 1869:
"Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies ... Nazareth is forlorn ... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Saviour's presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, good will to men, is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye ... Palestine is desolate and unlovely ... It is sacred to poetry and tradition - it is dream-land."
Frankfurter then notes, "now, 1869 is not so long ago". That comment is at once a celebration of the achievement of Israel (as Frankfurter puts it, "Miraculous? Yes; but yet not superhuman") and a reminder of the recency of its desolation. 

And why is this important for everyone?
"What we are celebrating is neither sectarian nor parochial. It is not restrictive in significance nor local in need. I do not think I use the language of hyperbole if I say that history, democracy, and civilization are vindicated by the beginning of the second decade of Israel."
The constant hope is that Israel, like the US, lives up to its potential, continues to replicate its previous triumphs and remains worthy of the extraordinary people who forged its existence.

Frankfurter was by all accounts an excellent judge, but his path to the bench was by no means certain. In a piece published in the Reader's Digest in 1956, Frankfurter mentioned that when he was fresh out of law school, he secured a position at a leading law firm. This was no mean feat given that the law firms of the day never took Jewish clerks. "[O]ut of a generous motive", a partner at the firm urged Frankfurter to change his name. The young clerk refused, replying that his name "is part of me". The similarity to Doctor Zhivago is striking: to grasp the meaning of the world's wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Michael Chabon, the awkward teen years

I dunno...it might be good, might be really lame. Has a Laurel Canyon feel to it. My Michael Chabon experience is limited to the first 100 pages of The Yiddish Policemen's Union (which was good, I just had to leave it in Berlin) but he's supposed to be a literary genius and stuff. And nothing beats a movie that allows you to pretend like you've read the works of literary geniuses (ahem, Everything is Illuminated, ahem, Atonement). Here are those trailers, for those of us who can't be bothered to even watch the films at all:

"An unprecedented cultural and historical disaster"

REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Cologne's archive collapse called 'cultural catastrophe'
Hundreds of thousands of documents and items, some dating back to the Middle Ages, were buried when the six-story building collapsed, and two people are missing and feared dead. The other employees and visitors escaped before the building crumbled to the ground.
In addition, the building housed papers belonging to Konrad Adenauer, West Germany's first postwar chancellor, who signed the reparations agreement with Israel; correspondences by the poet Paul Celan, author of "Death Fugue"; and papers of the writer Guenther Grass, also a Nobel laureate, and of Gottfried Boehm, a recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize; as well as the archive of a newspaper edited by Karl Marx.
This is devastating.

I used to think about memory as something personal, private, and arbitrary - serendipitous remembering, reluctant forgetting, and vice versa, all at your own pace. Not so. As a librarian-in training, I've learned to appreciate the immense effort, sustained over a hundred lifetimes, that goes into preserving a cultural heritage. And yet, I worry sometimes about the quality of our memories. Should we preserve the @So-and-so Twitter updates between politicians and celebrities as the modern equivalent of literary correspondence? To do so is like comparing a non-stick pan flaking cancerous shards of its coating to an old-school cast-iron skillet.

It pains me to think about all hundreds of thousands of skillets being forgotten in Cologne.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Herb and Dorothy

How can an 82-year-old former postal clerk and and 72-year-old librarian amass one of the most important collections of modern art around today? Looks like one part inspiration, one part dedication, and one part love (awww).

And somebody thought to make a movie about them! Thank goodness...

If anyone happens to be in or near Louisville on March 22 or March 26, go to the Speed Art Museum to see this film. It looks delightful.

Watch the trailer! Watch the trailer!

Shooting the shooter: Israeli law-breaking caught on tape

Last year, B'Tselem decided to give ordinary Palestinians cameras so they could record any abuses to their rights committed by police or soldiers. The project, which has been going on for over a year, has been largely successful. Of course, these kinds of videos are highly contested by articulate and suspicious Israeli advocates, but sometimes the footage speaks for itself.

The most recent example shows an Israeli soldier shooting a Palestinian protestor at close range with a rubber bullet. It's clear that the soldier is subdued, unarmed, and posing no threat to the soldier. This incident is being investigated by the Israeli army. Comforting? Not exactly...

The International Law Observer drew my attention to this story, as well as to this report by Yesh Din of how internal Israeli military law enforcement punishes soldiers who violate the law. I haven't gotten through the entire document (it's 131 pages), but from what I've skimmed it's clear not only are there many examples of such violations, there are also many more which go unpunished. Even if you believe that Israeli law prevents and punishes crimes of individuals, you can't argue against the, at the very least, tolerance within Israeli society for such behaviors. These kinds of incidents should provoke outrage, but instead the Israeli PR machine tries to pretend this kind of incident is an anomaly.

The study, funded, inter alia, by the European Union; various Jewish and Israeli NGOs; and the German, Dutch, and British governments, is one to be taken seriously, not covered up.

On a related note, check out this article by Valentina Azarov about defining civilians in Gaza and Israel within the scope of international law.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I need a bigger bed.

Despite the advanced state of digital animation and the romance of traditional animation (an animator drawing by the light of a single lamp, the pile of finished pages growing with each passing hour), I find myself increasingly partial to stop-motion projects. Stop-motion allows for plenty of artistic innovation while retaining a sense of play with the clumsy-halt-jerk of its signature movements; the slight catch between each frame lets the moment settle - it expands, and lends greater poignancy to what we are shown. A picture is worth a thousand words, and when each sweeping gesture is dissected into hundreds of photographs or frames, each incremental movement becomes a story unto itself. The story multiplies.

From the exaggerated clay-comedy in Wallace and Gromit, to the magical charm of Henry Selick's high-tech Coraline, to the unconventional grace of Israeli musician Oren Lavie's music video for "Her Morning Elegance," stop-motion animation gives me a lot to think about during my recreational criticism of pop culture topics.

Take a look:

Springtime in The Hague

Last Monday, I started noticing little purple buds popping out of the ground. Springtime! I had been so worried about winter in The Hague and not only did it end, it ended ahead of schedule!

Spring also means that toads (or Padden, in Dutch) are coming out of hibernation. And they need my help! I volunteered to help the toads cross the road. Despite the toad hate I've been hearing from my co-interns, I'm happy to help.

Also, happy Purim!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Execution of Justice

According to this article, Sharon Keller, presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, stands accused by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with incompetence, violating her duties and casting public discredit on the judiciary.

Apparently Judge Keller refused to extend the hours of her clerk's office to allow a convicted man to file an appeal only hours before he was due to be executed. The execution was carried out. If there weren't so much at stake the circumstances of Judge Keller's refusal would be comic.

The article quotes Judge Keller and her views on criminal justice. When interviewed by Frontline on an unrelated matter (another appeal against a sentence of death), Judge Keller mused that "[w]e can't give new trials to everyone who establishes, after conviction, that they might be innocent". Why not? Because there would be "no finality in the criminal justice system, and finality is important".

It is true enough that in some jurisdictions, a convicted appellant bears the burden of proof of innocence. That appears to be the case in Texas, at any rate. But it is almost grotesque to speak of "finality" in the context of someone trying to halt an impending execution. There's not much that is more "final" than staring your mortality in the face.

It's good that the American practice of electing judges has not caught on. In her campaign for a spot on the Court of Criminal Appeals, Judge Keller sold herself as "pro-prosecution". We all know that judges can't be absolutely objective when it comes to deciding cases, but there is an ideal to aspire to. And to be unashamedly "pro-prosecution"? I'm not an expert on Texan criminal law, but there is a presumption of innocence, right?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Don't get lost, it's only Scotland!

I wa going to post something on this really adorable Human Highway video, but then I found a cover of Neil Young's "Human Highway" that I deemed worthier. It's a cover by a German guy with a good voice for this song (not so great for his Dylan covers, but what can you do). Plus, watching this is just like driving through the Scottish countryside. What a good way to spend three minutes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Irene Sendler

I got a kind of strange forwarded email yesterday which called An Inconvenient Truth Al Gore's "slide show" on global warming...

Thinking it was anti-global warming activists (they are the best...such relativists in their doubting of science), I scrolled down and found it to actually be about this female Oskar Schindler, who I had never heard of. Turns out, it's legit. (The email writers were mad that she lost the bid for the Nobel Peace Prize to Gore...didn't realize Nobel Peace Prize candidate supporters were such sore losers).

Anyway, this lady smuggled out hundreds of babies in handbags, and thousands more through other means, from the Warsaw Ghetto. Pretty amazing.

She died last year at 98.

But really, supporters of Irene Sendler probably shouldn't hate on Gore...seriously, why don't they hate on Schindler or something, he was part of the problem before being part of the solution and they made a movie ABOUT him. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before Irene gets her own biopic (starring Angelina Jolie), but even then she'll still be called the "female Oskar Schindler" for time eternity.

Kinda like this French Anne Frank.

A little less conversation...

Elvis Perkins, who is named for Presley, looks like John Lennon, and sounds like Costello, just released this new live video (thanks to Stereogum):

It's pretty good, but it's no "While You Were Sleeping," which I listened to on repeat for about a day while writing my thesis last year. Here's that, for good measure:

And, turns out, he's coming to Amsterdam on April 3rd!

What constitution?

It's great that Obama is our new pres and all, but since we basically allowed Bush and his cronies to do whatever they wanted for eight years, haven't we set ourselves up to continue to serve under a dictatorship, albeit a currently more benevolent one? Bush's disregard for the constitution doesn't just show what a jerk he was (though that's part of it), it also shows what apathetic, lazy civilians we are.

Now we know that the CIA destroyed 92 tapes which probably recorded torture and that the Bush administration tried to invoke "law" when overriding law. Scott Horton calls this Bush's disposable constitution, but wait, isn't that our constitution? Just because we elected a smart guy president doesn't mean that we've reclaimed anything. So far, it just looks like we are discovering to what extent our rights were trampled on before. Why should we even bother with rights? Let's just wait for Obama to start handing out lollipops...

Anyhow, here's Rachel Maddow's take on it:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not a robot, but a ghost

Andrew Bird with Mucca Pazza - "Fitz & The Dizzyspells”

Andrew Bird's supposed to get all mainstream and stuff with his new album. And here I thought opening for Rufus Wainwright at the Hollywood Bowl was mainstream plenty. Can't believe the trouble I'm having getting this album here in Dutch-land.

Carla Del Ponte and Reruns in the Balkans

Former ICTY and ICTR prosecutor Carla Del Ponte's new book looks into allegations that Albanians kidnapped and murdered Serbs in Kosovo in 1999 and at the failure of UN and NATO officials to look into this issue. The ICTY's intra-homepage featured this article from Newsweek today, which points to another issue: Del Ponte's Swiss-induced travel ban.

Del Ponte, who is currently the Swiss embassador to Argentina, is officially banned from touring with her book on account of her diplomatic duties. The article highlights Switzerland's tenuous relations with Russia following the former's recognition of Kosovo's independence as a factor in the politically-based decision.

It's fitting that a book thats content is already mired in controversy would face additional hurdles upon publication. Del Ponte, who was ousted from the ICTR for, according to Del Ponte, pursuing Tutsis and Hutus alike, is no stranger to extreme dislike. Even her Amazon.com review mentions that there are billboards in Belgrade that call her a whore. I couldn't find those specifically (and I did look, because that's pretty ridiculous), but I did find this one from 2005, which apparently says, "There's going to be a rerun."


According to an article published by the Henry Jackson Society, there will be somewhat of a rerun in Bosnia if things keep on the path they're on. Looks like it's not only Del Ponte's book that's falling on deaf ears, but also the entire point of her prosecuting war criminals at the Tribunal. Not that I'm blaming her; it's just sad.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Play me, I'm yours...

While trying to figure out today what city is halfway between Amsterdam and Sydney (to no avail...Google Maps won't let you walk or drive across oceans), I came across this art project in Sydney that placed public pianos all over the city. For most of January, these pianos were available for anyone to play or decorate. This is way better than the horses of Lexington. Maybe if they had been real horses that we could've gotten some use out of...

The idea of pianos as a public, shared, and free commodity has also been embraced by the main library in Amsterdam, where a piano in the foyer is open and available for anyone to play. The Amsterdam library is pretty wonderful in general. It was a main attraction during my excursion to the big city with friends last weekend. Click on the link above for more pictures.

David Foster Wallace

I had been in Berlin nearly two weeks when I heard that David Foster Wallace committed suicide at his home in Claremont. I never met him, but his celebrity-status at Pomona College combined with his well-known perennial depression had me intrigued by his persona. A successful writer struggling to, and seemingly succeeding at, getting his shit together. Now you go back and read his stories, analyze his behavior, and it just seems inevitable.

Another of his stories was published in the New Yorker this week, a story about an office droid struggling with boredom and against insanity. They've been publishing lots of his pieces in the months since he died and the depression is palpable in them. It's like going back and listening to Elliot Smith.

I just found this article in Rolling Stone , in which my friend Bennett was quoted:
In early May, at the end of the school year, he sat down with some graduating seniors from his fiction class at a nearby cafe. Wallace answered their jittery writer's-future questions. "He got choked up at the end," recalls Bennett Sims, one of his students. "He started to tell us how much he would miss us, and he began to cry. And because I had never seen Dave cry, I thought he was just joking. Then, awfully, he sniffled and said, 'Go ahead and laugh — here I am crying — but I really am going to miss all of you.' "

"This was not an ending anyone would have wanted for him, but it was the ending he chose."