Great news photo

Mount Merapi releases pyroclastic flow as seen from Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 1, 2010. Indonesia's most volatile volcano unleashed its most powerful eruption in a deadly week Monday, spewing searing clouds of gas and debris thousands of feet (meters) into the air. There were no immediate reports of new casualties. (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

This is an amazing photo that really struck me today. A volcanic eruption always makes for sensational images but this particular picture really tells the story of the drama of the eruption in an exotic locale (the silhouetted palm trees are very evocative). Photojournalism at it’s absolute best.

The Scales of Justice…

So the verdict of the Moussaouï trial is in and it will be life in jail instead of the death penalty. After the protracted and often contentious proceedings what can we conclude ?

Beyond the morality of the debate on the death penalty itself, there is a lot to be said for this trial and the way it was conducted. Due process was fairly applied and arrived at a verdict in the way the judicial system is supposed to. A potential terrorist and fanatic islamist will be put behind bars for life (a clear message to any others who might harbor the idea that this is a good career path). And the USA finally once again shows what it stands for: a moral beacon of light in stark opposition to the “dark ages” mentality of the Islamist movements.

It’s a true shame that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 this clear moral superiority was sacrificed in the name of expediency resulting in the judicial horror at Guantanamo Bay. As is pointed out in this excellent editorial in the New York Times, the loss of moral superiority was pointless and the result of the Moussaouï trial only serves to further highlight this fact.

4 more years…

I don’t know what to say… I am beyond disappointed. So I’ll just change the subject and repeat a joke I heard this morning on French radio :

” A man is someone who one day came out of woman and spends all his life trying to get back into one. ”

I know, it’s pathetic… But anything is better then listening to the news.

Blast from the Past

Browsing through my iTunes library on my computer, I came across the “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag” by Country Joe & the Fish which was performed to memorable effect at the legendary Woodstock festival in 1969. I used to watch the Woodstock documentary with my sisters until we knew all the songs by heart even though all three of us were born after the event. And this song was one of our favorites. We didn’t however really register the nature of the protest or the feeling that could permeate an audience and make them all sing along. We just thought it was a catchy tune and that must be why everyone knew the song. Well today, in september 2004, with the daily depressing news coming out of Iraq, the bombs, the hostages, the chaos, the casualties, I find the song is just as relevant as ever. The atmosphere that surrounds what’s going on in Iraq seems to me as depressing as Vietnam (though without the draft). The political process in the USA and the debate about Iraq seems even more stifled than that surrounding Vietnam. One feels demoralised by it all and just feels like yelling that old infamous Fish cheer all over again: “Give me an F. Give me a U. Give me a C. Give me a K. What’s that spell ? What’s that spell ? What’s that spell ? ”

Given the newfound relevance (in my eyes) of the song, I also found updated lyrics to it on the Country Joe site:

Fixin’ to Lie Rag
by Randall Bart

Come on all you Americans.
Bush is President again.
He found a guy who’s really bad.
The name’s Saddam. He’s in Baghdad.
So show some ID, take off your shoes.
What have you got to lose?

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we searching for?
George said it, it must be true.
I believe in W.
And it’s five, six, seven,
Tell me who I should hate.
There’s no need to wonder why,
‘Cause Presidents never lie.

The USA’s the worldwide cop,
And evildoers must be stopped.
Saddam’s got nukes and poison gas.
Let’s go kick him in the ass.
Conquer the land, sell off the oil.
To the victor goes the spoil.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we searching for?
George said it, it must be true.
I believe in W.
And it’s five, six, seven,
Tell me who I should hate.
There’s no need to wonder why,
‘Cause Presidents never lie.

Now there’s rebuilding to be done.
Halliburton is the one.
Cheney says they have the skills.
We’re the ones who pay the bills.
So give up your rights. Write me a check.
We’ll make the whole world a wreck.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we paying for?
Dick said it, it must be spent.
He’s our Vice President.
And it’s five, six, seven,
Tell me who I should hate.
There’s no need to wonder why.
Vice Presidents never lie.

Bumper Sticker of the day

Bumper stickers often capture the spirit of the moment and express opinions about the driver’s take on things. They can be cruel, venomous, hilarious, ironic, cynical… They’re our modern equivalent to the Roman’s lapidar phrase. I came across one I particularly enjoyed yesterday :

Bush : like a rock, only dumber.

Which neatly captures all the issues surrounding this presidential election 😉

The Wall…

In Jerusalem, a journalist heard about an old Jew who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time. So she went to check it out.

She goes to the Western Wall and there he is! She watches him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turns to leave, she approaches him for an interview.

“I’m Rebecca Smith from CNN. Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?”

“For about 50 years.”

“50 years! That’s amazing! What do you pray for?”

“I pray for peace between the Jews and the Arabs. I pray for all the hatred to stop and I pray for our children to grow up in safety and friendship.”

“How do you feel after doing this for 50 years?”

“Like I’m talking to a fuckin’ wall.”