13) The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth and other stories, by Roger Zelazny
I think this was Zelazny’s first published collection? Mostly stories from his peak early years in the 1960s; includes perhaps his two best pieces from that era, the title story (which I didn’t like at all on first reading it as a teenager, but which has grown on me since) and “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” which remains a favourite.
One of the things about keeping a booklog is that even if reading familiar material I’m considering it a bit more deeply than I used to. (Also, of course, I’ve read a couple of books about Zelazny and his works since last I read this collection.) So, for instance, the incredibly weak ending of “This Mortal Mountain” grates a bit more than before, and a couple of the other single-idea stories seem a bit overextended. But I liked rereading “The Keys to December”, “This Moment of the Storm” and “The Man Who Loved the Faioli”.
For some reason iBooks have decided to combine the stories published in the original collection of this name in 1971 with those included (along with “The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth” and “A Rose for Ecclesiastes”) in Four For Tomorrow, a collection published in 1967. (They also transferred the dedication “To My Mother” from Four For Tomorrow rather than the original “To Alan Huff”.) The two extra stories are “The Furies”, which remains excellent (though knowing Zelazny’s later works as we now do, we can see ideas recycled from it into both To Die In Italbar and Eye of Cat) and “The Graveyard Heart”, an eccentric choice, eighty pages in which nothing much happens, and poorly proofread to boot (especially the few German phrases, which are horribly mangled).
Anyway, glad I put some time into rereading this. (Cross-posting to .)
F said, “It’s got Uncle R in it!” – Indeed, there is a bit of a resemblance between Anne’s little brother and Christopher Ecclestone.
That was excellent. An existential Dalek, no less! The back-story of the Time War comes into clearer focus. The mutant inside was, as put it, “suitably squamous and rugose, not to mention dripping with mucus”. The three-way relationship between the Doctor, Rose and the Dalek. (Oh yeah, and Adam. Who is a bit pretty.)
I look forward to finding out what lies behind the phrase “Bad Wolf”…
10) Journey Around New York from A to Z, by Martha Day Zschock and Heather Zschock
11) Journey Around Washington DC from A to Z, by Martha Day Zschock
12) Journey Around Boston from A to Z, by Martha Day Zschock
Three nice books bought for F by my mother in preparation for our US trip next month. Not quite sure how much he’s taken in of the text, which is a bit advanced even for a five-year-old whose reading age is seven, but they are beautifully illustrated; probably more coffee-table books than children’s books. Nice to have, anyway.
Obligatory intro: if you wish me to ask questions of you, say so in a comment.
If you could host a dinner party for 3 live people, who would it be? (any motive, any people)I really really like international political gossip, especially over dinner, so the first two are dead easy – one of them I once shook hands with, the other I’ve met on several occasions: Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General, and Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief. Just listening to the two of them chatting about what they thought was really going on in the world would be fascinating.
The third is a bit more difficult. To balance out with my sf interests, there should really be an sf writer, but it’s difficult to think of one who wold either a) be at home in the complex world of international politics or b) might not be at home but would be a sufficiently attractive personality that it wouldn’t chill the atmosphere. I haven’t met him socially, though I have heard him speak a couple of times, and I wonder if Terry Pratchett might fit my criteria? (Solana after all has a Ph D in physics, so his nerdy side may not be that deeply buried.) If he doesn’t, then go for the safe option – international politics, but with a woman’s perspective, and invite Mary Robinson.
If you could host a dinner party for 3 dead people, who would it be? (any motive, any people)This response is definitely more literary. I’ve always loved the novels of Roger Zelazny, and similarly J.R.R. Tolkien, so to listen to the two of them comparing notes on myth-making and writing would be great. However to liven things up a bit I’d want George Bernard Shaw there for the first couple of courses. As a strict vegetarian and teetotaller he would disappear home about ten o’clock and then Zelazny, Tolkien and I could spend the rest of the evening slagging him off.
Who is the most influential/coolest/famous person to have bought you a drink?I’ve been at numerous diplomatic receptions down the years, some sponsored by foreign minsters, some by presidents, etc etc. Difficult to rank them in terms of influence/cool/fame! In terms of cool, which is a very personal ranking, I’d still rank Ken MacLeod ahead of any of the politicians, but I suspect he himself would reject the concept of being “cool”. In terms of influence, probably Solana, who has bought me not just drinks but entertained me (with several others) to lunch (as did his successor at NATO, Lord Robertson). In terms of fame, probably the royal wedding last year. Combining all three factors, I come back to Paddy Ashdown.
What first attracted you to Anne/Any cool storys about meeting?Heck, this is a more tricky one than you realise (though not so personal that I can’t answer it).
We met as undergraduates at Cambridge, but I arrived already equipped with a different girlfriend – we’d been pen-pals for three years, and were very much in lurve. Anne was this very serious mathematician girl in the same year as me (the other mathematicians including and ). I remember the day in June 1986, when their first year exam results came out, which was also the day of the college’s May Ball (and Clare had one of the most sought-after May Balls in Cambridge). I bumped into Anne wandering across Old Court and we headed up to the Senate House together to see how well everyone had done (my own results, as a Natural Scientist, weren’t coming out until after the end of term). As we walked, a sudden rain shower hit, and I think I said, “Let’s gloat about all the people going to the Ball tonight who will get wet!” (Somehow I knew that neither of us was going.) And she giggled most attractively, and I thought, Hmm, if I were a free man…
There were a couple more occasions when things almost clicked (but not quite) between us. It took a fancy dress party that she threw in February 1990, at a point that I knew that another friend of mine was interested in Anne, and I raised it with her. “No,” she said, “I’m not really interested in him. You’d be a different matter.” The moment wasn’t quite right, as my ex-girlfriend, with who I had once been very much in lurve, was staying with Anne that evening; but I pursued matters the next day, to a happy conclusion. (And my ex-girlfriend eventually married the other bloke.) (That’s not the same ex-girlfriend who became a nun. Obviously.)
What is your best memory?Sorry to be cliched, but getting married was the best thing that ever happened to me, with the births of the three kids chasing closely behind!
What is your favourite Belgian food/drink?I’m still getting to grips with the art of cooking those mysterious vegetables known here as chicons/witloof, translated into English variously as “Belgian endives” or “chicory” (but not what we normally think of as chicory). They’re fascinating to cook as well as rather nice to eat.
Belgian food is generally fantastic. (Though I had to laugh a few months ago at a posh lunch in the European Parliament when the canteen attempted to present a sushi starter as if it was a standard Belgian haute cuisine dish.) There are a few standard vegetable which they do interesting things with – the mysterious chicons/witloof, also asparagus; but even leaving that aside they understand sauces and meat and vegetables.
However the beer even outweighs the food. I sit here with a bottle of Kasteel Blond, at 11% as strong as the average wine and very chewy and tasty. My tastes generally run between the Hoegaarden and the Leffe families, with some room for experimentation in the Orval direction (and in the summertime, which is imminent, a gueuze or a kriek can really hit the spot. So I have to say, much as I enjoy the food, I really appreciate the beer.
If you had to recommend one science fiction book to someone who’d never read anything of the genre, what would it be?Sort-of short answer – I actually ranked the books and stories that won both the Hugo and Nebula awards on exactly that criterion a few years back. The ones that I thought then were “the kind of thing you could lend a non-sf reader in reasonable confidence that they would enjoy it and thank you for sharing it with them” included:
Of the lot, I would say my best recommendation as a “gateway” sf text (for someone who hadn’t read it before) would be “Flowers for Algernon”, the original novella version. I would hope most of the others have the same effect, though I’m aware that in one or two cases my personal enthusiasms are perhaps making me over-optimistic!
What is your earliest memory?Walking around the block some day in the spring of 1970 when I was 3.
How much are you looking forward to Dr. Who on Saturday?!A lot!
Listen. If you really wanted to join the P.F.J., you’d have to really hate the Romans.
Oh, yeah? How much?
Right. You’re in.
But seriously though, this new series has been just great. I haven’t properly blogged about it yet, but I’ve enjoyed almost every minute. And the fact that the Daleks are back…!!!!!!!
I’ve made my prediction for the 628 seats in England, Scotland and Wales over at Anthony Wells’s site.
My prediction is:
Lab 338 inc Speaker (-65)
Con 215 (+50)
LD 65 (+14)
SNP 5 (+1)
My methodology has nothing to do with projected vote shares on Martin Baxter’s model (which everyone should have a go at, BTW). It’s based entirely on taking the current entries of Anthony’s site, ranking them in order, and taking the ones that caught my eye as being about two thirds to three quarters of the way along the range starting from the end nearer the status quo. (ie for a party with 100 seats, where punters have guessed randomly that they will win between 100 and 200 seats, my “method”, such as it is, predicts they will get 165-175.) Basically my gut feeling is that two-thirds to three quarters of people underestimate the electoral shift, and the rest overestimate it.
I note with discomfort that according to Martin’s algorithm, based on a uniform swing, my prediction requires the Tories to get at least as many votes as Labour and the Lib Dems to get over 27%. (I can’t quite get the exact figures from his site because my drop in the Labour share gives the Nationalists a couple more seats than I predict.) Obviously I think this vote share is unlikely. But tactical voting may achieve many strange things…
A leaflet printed in Alliance Party colours of yellow and blue, headed ‘Thinking of Voting Alliance’, has been distributed widely in Northern Ireland. It is clearly intended to confuse Alliance supporters.
The publishers urge Alliance supporters to vote for the Ulster Unionists, wrongly claiming that the UUP supports Alliance ideals such as a shared future. (It is laughable that the Ulster Unionists claim to want a shared future. It was David Trimble, as First Minister, who blocked progress on a community relations strategy – a report by Jeremy Harbison called “A Shared Future” – for over a year.) There is also a graph that gives incorrect figures for party support at the Assembly election.
The PO Box given by the publishers is registered to a design company on the Holywood Road in East Belfast. This company has printed a number of leaflets for the Ulster Unionists this year. Despite this, UUP staff apparently first claimed not to know the company and then that this was merely ‘a bizarre coincidence’.
This leaflet has been distributed in at least six constituencies. Given the scale of the operation, there is a strong likelihood that those responsible are in breach of the criminal law regarding electoral
In November last, David Trimble offered a peerage to the Alliance Party in return for standing down from the election in five constituencies. That shabby offer was rejected outright. The behaviour of the Ulster Unionists over recent months shows how far they have moved to the right, seeking to outflank the DUP. This leaflet is clearly a sign of desperation.
I took today off work; leaving her mother in charge of the small beings, Anne and I headed up to the Hoge Veluwe area of the Netherlands, a little island of high ground amidst the flatness, which is also a national park.
We stayed in the rather classy Hotel Sterrenberg, very nice dinner, bed and breakfast, and then struck into the heart of the park to visit the Kröller-Müller Museum. I’m not a particular art fan myself but I loved looking around the museum’s sculpture garden – here, for instance, is the Needle Tower of Kenneth Snelson taken from below:
There were a couple of others that I really liked, this set of shapes:
and this levitating lady:
But the largest exhibit was one you could actually climb inside, Jean Dubuffet’s Enamel Garden, whose original French name now has quite different overtones (Le Jardin d’Email). Here’s Anne, reclining determinedly:
and here’s the context:
and looking the other way to where I was standing:
Then it was back inside to the art museum, where photography was not allowed, and in any case half of it is being rebuilt (a good reason to go back again next year). Inside, we wandered around until we found this:
and in case we were in any doubt about who it was by, just along the wall was this:
Numerous other great artists there (mainly late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) but those two made the biggest impression on me.
After that we were pretty much museumed out.
The Hoge Veluwe has this nice system where there are a large number of white bicycles owned by the park, available for any park users to pick up as long as you put them back where you found them. So from the museum, we had a decent bike ride up to Mrs Kröller-Müller’s hunting lodge, and a somewhat longer way back due to, er, map-reading error. Then a decent (and suitably late) lunch, a look around the visitors’ centre, and home after a satisfying break.
We took a detour on the way back to see a place that had long fascinated me: the town of Baarle-Hertog/Baarle-Nassau where the Belgian border jumps north by a few miles and plays leap-frog among the houses of a typical Dutch village. It would have been better to have gone there with a map to show exactly what the quirks of the border are; there’s very little to indicate it on the ground, and nothing worth photographing. Still at least I know now.
I’ve had 203 entries to the predictions contest so far (actually, quite a few more, but I’m being quite strict about people having good reason to submit anonymous entries).
In order of increasing interest, the predictions are:
All 203 see DUP leader Ian Paisley holding North Antrim.
All 203 think the DUP will hold Strangford.
202 think that SF will hold Mid Ulster (SDLP gain 1).
202 think SF leader Gerry Adams will hold West Belfast (UUP gain 1).
201 believe that the DUP will hold East Belfast (UUP gain 2).
200 think the DUP will hold East Londonderry (UUP gain 3)
198 believe that SF will hold West Tyrone (Ind gain 3, SDLP gain 2).
195 believe that the DUP will hold North Belfast (SF gain 8).
194 think the DUP will hang on to Lagan Valley, (UUP regain 9).
192 expect SF to take Newry and Armagh, (SDLP hold 11).
190 forecast the the SDLP will hold South Down (SF gain 13).
190 think SF will hold Fermanagh and South Tyrone, (DUP gain 10, UUP gain 2, SDLP gain 1)
174 see the DUP gaining East Antrim from the UUP (UUP hold 28, Alliance gain 1).
164 think the UUP will hold North Down (DUP gain 38, Alliance gain 1).
117 expect the DUP to capture Upper Bann, with 85 believing that UUP leader David Trimble can hold the seat, and one believing that this is the year that the Workers Party make a historic breakthough.
114 think the UUP will hold South Antrim, with 88 forecasting a DUP gain and one free-thinker who says that the SDLP will come through the middle.
111 think SDLP leader Mark Durkan can hold Foyle, as opposed to 92 who think that SF will take the seat.
81 think the DUP will gain South Belfast; 61 see an SDLP gain. 58 think the UUP will hold the seat and 3 optimists see it falling to SF.
Just talked to the guy who was offered the job I was interviewed for two weeks ago. He told me he’d accepted it, then had a look at the organisation’s finances and backed out as fast as he could. So not getting it appears to have been a blessing in disguise (partly because I fear I might have been beguiled by my own non-existent financial talents).
Good stuff, scenes from the life of a thirtysomething living in the Dutch town of Groningen, mainly about funny things that happened to her walking down the street, at a gig, in a bar, drawing comic strips, thinking about drawing comic strips, attempting (unsuccessfully) to meditate, trying out a vibrator with her boyfriend, etc. An example from the book is here, translated into English. Another one partly in English is here.
My favourite page was a three frame story (on page 97). In the first frame she’s cycling to a TV interview, thinking about what she’s going to say, and the writing in the thought bubbles is all neat, orderly and well organised. In the middle frame the camera is on her, and the writing in the speech bubbles shows that she is all over the place, letters changing size and wobbling up and down the page. In the third frame, of course, she’s cycling home again and the writing in the thought bubbles is all neat, orderly and well organised and full of what she should have said to the cameraman. The punchline is that she was actually being interviewed about the increasing use of surveillance cameras (to which she is opposed) in inner-city Groningen:
HET WERKT BIJVOORBEELD IN ENGELAND OOK NIET, DUS EH…
which I hope gives the idea. It’s the kind of stage fright I often worry about suffering from (but thank heavens rarely do).
The book includes a sticker with a prize offered to the person who sends the publishers a photo of the most original place to have stuck it. An interesting thought…
Nu We Toch Hier Zijn, by Barbara Stok. Looks like fun. (But jeepers, she needs to do something about her website – the writing is so small I can hardly read it.)
The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall. Of course today is the anniversary of the Pazzi conspiracy in 1478.
It’s also the anniversary of the Chernobyl explosion (1986), the bombing of Guernica (1937) and of my birth (1967).
I had planned to do a whole web-page about people who share my exact date of birth, but that’ll have to be next year now. Meantime I shall commemorate my almost-colleague Amy Biehl, celebrate with Trish Doller, and ponder the lessons for us all from the horoscope of Marianne Jean-Baptiste.
Speaking from the podium (Senator Roelants du Vivier listens intently in the background)
Edited to add: Today’s business in Dutch and French. Although advertised, there were no representatives from Italy, the UK, Serbia-Montenegro or the UN, and Flahaut sent his chef de cabinet rather than turn up himself. I spoke in English – there was simultaneous translation three ways.
Started the day in a meeting with Əli Kərimli, the embattled opposition leader of a country I deal with, whose plans for western support for his rise to power are surely doomed because nobody can spell his name. (Or his country’s name, for that matter.)
Then lunch with Vladimir Drobnjak, Croatia’s Chief Negotiator in its plans to join the European Union, who was in need of cheering up.
Then most of the afternoon spent on Cyprus, meetings with the European Commission and with colleagues.
That’s the kind of stuff I like. If I could do just that – interesting meetings with motivated people, who care about their subject but also feel that I can help them out – and leave all the management and editing stuff, I’d be a happy boy.
If somewhat less well paid.
Oh yeah, and a certain Brussels correspondent for a certain Northern Ireland newspaper offered to interview me, before getting a reply from the editorial department in Belfast to the effect that “ lives in Belgium” is Not News. Oh well.
Ako pogledate Evropu, postoji samo jedna granica koja sa istorijskog, geografskog, lingvistickog, etnickog i svakog drugog stanovišta ima smisla: to je granica izmedu Francuske i Engleske.
When you look at Europe, there is only one border that makes sense for historical, geographical, linguistic, ethnic and all other reasons: that is the border between France and England.
Nikolas Vajt, direktor Medunarodne krizne grupe za Balkan
Ekonomist, 25. april
Dokument Medunarodne krizne grupe “Kosovo ka konacnom statusu”, u kome se, na 42 strane, uglavnom zagovara nezavisnost Kosova, u Srbiji nije zavredio narocitu pažnju; nije baš da je bio ignorisan, ali je ocigledna bila tendencija da mu se umanji znacaj. Ta vrsta odbrane imala je efekte zabijanja glave u pesak, jer ova nevladina medunarodna organizacija, sa sedištem u Briselu (kojoj je u opisu delovanja “politicka analiza dogadaja u zemljama u kojima postoji rizik od izbijanja oružanog sukoba”) ni najmanje nije za potcenjivanje, što najbolje potvrduje lista njenih finansijera (videti okvir “Licna karta MKG). Nedavno je, pak, pomenuti dokument u njujorškom Medunarodnom pres centru predstavio Nikolas Vajt (Nicholas Whyte), direktor evropskog programa ove organizacije. Vajt je roden u Belfastu, što je cinjenica koja se ispostavila kao važna za ovaj razgovor.
Ekonomist: Dokument koji je Vaša organizacija nedavno objavila bavi se faktorima kosovske krize, a rešenje problema pronalazi u nezavisnom Kosovu. Možete li nam ukratko navesti zakljucke do kojih ste došli?
Nikolas Vajt: Kosovo se približilo rešavanju finalnog statusa, i to je cinjenica koju analiziramo u dokumentu. Naša percepcija je da to znaci nezavisnost, ili pak rešenje koje je veoma blizu nezavisnosti. Na medunarodnim faktorima je da porade ukoliko žele da proces prode mirno. U dokumentu se nalazi i niz preporuka koje se pre svega odnose na narod Kosova i ticu se poštovanja ljudskih prava i prava manjina. Iako se o tome možda još uvek ne prica javno, primetili smo da medunarodna zajednica sve više prihvata ovaj koncept rešenja situacije na Kosovu. Takode, primetili smo promene i u samoj regiji.
Ekonomist: O kojim je tacno promenama rec?
N. Vajt: Pre svega na Kosovu, i to u pogledu sigurnosti.
Ekonomist: Sudeci prema izveštajima beogradskih medija, to tako ne izgleda. Vi sigurno imate neki primer kojim biste mogli da potkrepite ovu tvrdnju?
N. Vajt: Pa evo, predaja Haradinaja, premijera Kosova medunarodnom sudu za ratne zlocine. Tada su stvari mogle da krenu u pogrešnom pravcu, moglo je da dode do eskalacije sukoba, ali nije. Naravno, reci da nasilja na Kosovu nema, prosto ne bi bilo tacno. Ali je naša procena da se stanje popravlja. Ohrabrujuce deluje što su razliciti incidenti prošli bez ozbiljnog nasilja. Još više ohrabruju glasovi koji dolaze iz Beograda. U prvom trenutku Vlada Srbije bila je šokirana onim što smo rekli, ali je onda zakljucila da ako vec postoji proces, da je onda bolje da se i oni ukljuce i da budu njegov deo. Sada vidimo da su stavovi srpskih zvanicnika mnogo fleksibilniji nego što su bili ranije. Vidimo raskol izmedu umerene i tvrde politicke struje. Isto se primecuje i unutar pravoslavne crkve. Takode, cini nam se da umerena struja trenutno preovladuje.
Ekonomist: Rekli ste da ce Kosovo biti ili nezavisno ili da ce postojati u nekoj formi koja je veoma bliska nezavisnosti. Šta to tacno znaci?
N. Vajt: To znaci da ubuduce srpski ambasador nece predstavljati Kosovo. Srbi su mi, naravno, skrenuli pažnju na to kako su ranije Belorusija i Ukrajina imale posebne predstavnike u Ujedinjenim nacijama, iako su bile u okviru jedne države. Ali to su bila cudna i prošla vremena. Moje licno mišljenje je da ukoliko odredena teritorija vec funkcioniše samostalno, onda nema preterano svrhe da se pretvaramo da to ne vidimo.
Ekonomist: Dobro, ali zar ne postoje i neki drugaciji predlozi Beograda?
N. Vajt: Na koje rešenje mislite? Iz Beograda se cuju predlozi tipa – nezavisnost bez suvereniteta. Ali molim vas, šta to tacno znaci? Takva rešenja mi se cine prilicno teološka. Kao da ga je predložio neko koga su vaspitavale kaluderice iz Belfasta. Ali ako ce neki takav predlog da olakša proces, onda zašto da ne.
Ekonomist: Postoji i predlog o podeli Kosova. Zar Vam se to ne cini kao pravednije rešenje? Ovako može da izgleda kao da su kosovski Albanci zapravo nagradeni za ponašanje koje je i u vašem dokumentu ocenjeno kao “ocajan odnos prema manjinama”?
N. Vajt: Pre svega, kad govorimo o podeli – treba da se zapitamo – kakva podela. Na koji nacin?
Ekonomist: Takav koji bi i Srbima i Albancima na Kosovu dao prostora za život.
N. Vajt: Mi bismo mnogo radije videli Kosovo na kome Albanci postupaju sa manjinama na ispravan nacin. Ne cini nam se da je opcija u kojoj iseljavate i preseljavate ljude dobra.
Ekonomist: Sigurno imate i nekakvu argumentaciju?
N. Vajt: Zbog moguceg izbijanja “domino efekta”. Kad pocnete da pomerate jedne granice, onda odmah dovodite u pitanje i neke druge. Postoji rezolucija 1244 kojom su ta pitanja definisana, i treba je se pridržavati. Ako pogledate Evropu, postoji samo jedna granica koja sa istorijskog, geografskog, lingvistickog, etnickog i svakog drugog stanovišta ima smisla: to je granica izmedu Francuske i Engleske. Princip po kome se oslanjamo na granice koje su utvrdene istorijski možda nije najbolji, ali je jedan od onih koji funkcionišu. Mada bi odgovor na vaše pitanje mogao da bude i kraci: jer ne vidim na koji nacin možete da napravite bolje granice. A razlog zbog koga mi podržavamo ideju da Albanci imaju vecu kontrolu nad Kosovom nije zbog nagrade, vec stoga što oni tamo žive.
Ekonomist: Kao i Srbi. I Romi.
N. Vajt: Da, zato je neophodno da i oni budu ukljuceni. Ali je cinjenica da je cak i pre konflikta na teritoriji Kosova živelo 95 odsto albanskog stanovništva.
Ekonomist: Svakodnevni dogadaji svedoce o tome da nealbansko stanovništvo nije bezbedno na Kosovu. Zar Vam se ne cini da ta cinjenica govori protiv teze o nezavisnom Kosovu?
N. Vajt: Naprotiv. Rešenje pitanja sigurnosti manjina je upravo u tome da Albanci dodu na vlast i da onda oni budu odgovorni za sve što se dešava. Naravno, pre nego što se proglasi nezavisnost Kosova, manjine bi morale da budu zašticene. Da li ja želim da se to tako desi? Da. Da li ce se to tako desiti? Sudeci prema situaciji na terenu – danas to izgleda izvesnije nego ranije. Danas postoji policija Kosova koja jeste multietnicka. U njoj ima i Srba, koji su, srazmerno broju koji ih danas živi na Kosovu, prilicno dobro zastupljeni. To nije slucaj sa Kosovskim zaštitnim korpusom. I to ce biti jedna od bitnih stavki u procesu pregovaranja.
Ekonomist: Oponentima ideje o nezavisnom Kosovu slogan vaše organizacije “Radimo na sprecavanju konflikata širom sveta” mora zvucati ironicno. Vaš predlog ce ispuniti maksimalisticke težnje kosovskih Albanaca, ali ce se istovremeno kao posledica sigurno pojaviti neki broj nezadovoljnih Srba. Drugim recima, ne cini li Vam se da ako se vaše preporuke realizuju, da može doci do novog konflikta?
N. Vajt: Naša preporuka je bazirana na proceni da se time što se finalni status ne rešava, zapravo povecava stepen verovatnoce da ce konflikt biti izazvan. Cinjenica je da medunarodna zajednica nece moci da održi mir na Kosovu, ukoliko na to ne pristane lokalno stanovništvo.
Ekonomist: Šta možete odgovoriti onima koji bi Vam rekli da su težnje lokalnog stanovništva da Kosovo postane deo Albanije?
N. Vajt: Za takav razvoj situacije ne postoji dovoljno entuzijazma sa Albanske strane! A to je, verujem, jedan od bitnih preduslova da bi do spajanja dve teritorije došlo!
Ekonomist: Sigurni ste? Kako onda tumacite postojanje oružanih grupa koje kao jedan od svojih javno deklarisanih ciljeva imaju borbu za Veliku Albaniju?
N. Vajt: Ovo pitanje sam baš dosta istraživao tokom prošle godine. Pre svega, sigurno je da postoji odredeni sentiment kad je u pitanju stav – svi Albanci u jednoj državi. Ali cim pitate bilo kog Albanca iz Albanije da u tom pravcu ucini bilo kakvu žrtvu, videcete da on nece biti voljan da to uradi. Albanci cak ni ne glasaju za politicke stranke koji imaju tu opciju u svom programu. Ni na Kosovu, ni u Albaniji, ni u Makedoniji. A oni koji bi i glasali za njih, ne bi se borili za tu stvar.
Ekonomist: Izuzev pripadnika oružanih organizacija kakva je na primer ANA?
N. Vajt: Da, ANA mi je poznata. Razgovarao sam sa njihovim pristalicama. Znate, odrastao sam u Belfastu i stoga mogu da vam kažem da mi pripadnici Ane ne deluju preterano ubedljivo. Šta su oni uradili u poslednje vreme? Bacili su bombu na kola Ibrahima Rugove. Mada, slažem se, iako to nije dramaticno opasna aktivnost, ljudi sa oružjem i glupim idejama jesu opasni. I oni svakako predstavljaju pretnju sigurnosti koju ne treba gubiti iz vida.
Hteo bih da vam kažem jednu drugu stvar o kojoj možete više da procitate na našem web sajtu. Pripadnici KLA, baš kao i oružane formacije Ali Ahmetija koji su bili aktivni u Makedoniji, zapoceli su svoju delatnost sa idejom o Velikoj Albaniji, da bi se obe kasnije odmakle od te ideje. U oba slucaja je teško reci šta je uzrok, a šta posledica, ali je evidentno da su prestali sa panalbanizmom u trenutku kad su dobili veca prava. Upravo tada su poceli da budu šire prihvaceni, i na Kosovu i u okviru Makedonije. Dakle, naravno da možemo da kažemo da postoje ljudi koji zastupaju tezu o Velikoj Albaniji, i naravno da su neki od tih ljudi naoružani, ali kao što znate u regionu ionako svi imaju oružje.
Ekonomist: Kosovo je, na žalost, globalno poznato po tome što ima veliki problem, na primer, sa krijumcarenjem oružja. Kako vaša organizacija posmatra ekonomski razvoj entiteta koji ce uskoro postati nezavisan, a koji je mahom baziran na ilegalnim delatnostima? Možemo li uopšte govoriti o ekonomskoj održivosti nezavisnog Kosova?
N. Vajt: Pitanje ekonomske održivosti nije limitirano na Kosovo. Štaviše, cini mi se da biste pitanje ekonomske održivosti mogli da postavite za svaku zemlju u regionu, sa izuzetkom Grcke i Bugarske. Na Kosovu se ovi problemi rešavaju sa teškocama upravo zato što ono nije suverena država. Postoji problem krijumcarenja, i to baš zato što ne postoji vlada koja bi bila odgovorna pred ostatkom medunarodne zajednice.
Ekonomist:Vi, dakle, ocekujete da probleme kao što su trgovina ženama i krijumcarenje oružja, koje onolika medunarodna zajednica do sad nije uspela da reši na Kosovu, budu uspešno rešeni pošto Kosovo postane nezavisno?
N. Vajt: Ne, ono što ja kažem je da do sad niko nije ni mogao da pocne da rešava ova pitanja na odgovarajuci nacin.
Ekonomist: Ali i u Bosni je prisutna medunarodna zajednica, pa se nekako cini da se sa tim problemima izlazi na kraj.
N. Vajt: Ja sad necu da poredim gde je bolje, a gde gore. Ostaje cinjenica da su neophodne lokalne policijske snage da se uhvate u koštac sa problemom, jer rešenje koje mogu da ponude medunarodne snage na terenu nije dugorocno. Takode, ukoliko Kosovo ne dobije nezavisnost, ekonomska situacija ce biti sve gora i gora. Niko nece ulagati u Kosovo sve dok ne bude izvesno kome ono pripada. Taj isti razlog sprecava i dolazak medunarodnih finansijskih organizacija, jer za sada ne postoji vlada koja bi se pojavila u ulozi garanta.
Ekonomist: Neko cinican bi Vam rekao da je odvajanje Kosovo uzaludna delatnost, jer ce ono ionako biti deo Ujedinjene Evrope?
N. Vajt: Na ovaj ili onaj nacin, izvesno je da ce Kosovo postati deo te zajednice. Ekonomski je vec prilicno integrisan u smislu da se poslovi najviše sklapaju sa evropskim zemljama. Moje licno magicno rešenje – ne samo za Kosovo, nego za ekonomska pitanja celog regiona – je da se EU vrati na liberalni režim viza. Jer, kako sada stvari stoje, cini mi se da restrikcije favorizuju krijumcarenje, a kažnjavaju poštene putnike. Takode, ovaj sistem ohrabruje ljude iz regiona da uzimaju bugarske, rumunske ili hrvatske pasoše, legalno ili ne, da bi dobili lakši ulazak u EU. Ukoliko bi se Evropa otvorila, to bi pospešilo razvoj citavog regiona.
O razvoju dogadaja
Specijalni predstavnik generalnog sekretara UN Soren Jessen-Petersen, koji je trenutno zadužen za Kosovo, sledeceg meseca ce napisati izveštaj za Savet bezbednosti. Savet bezbednosti ce onda da imenuje nekog od starijih zvanicnika, moguce je Kai Aidu (Kai Eide), Norveškog ambasadora u NATO, mada ovo još uvek nije sigurno, koliko je nama poznato – mesto još nije nikome ponudeno. On ce, dalje, napraviti detaljan izveštaj o situaciji na Kosovu da bi ustanovio da li ono ide u pravcu finalnog statusa. Naša pretpostavka je da ce odgovor na to pitanje biti pozitivan. Onda ce u drugoj polovini godine druga visoko rangirana osoba dati zvanican predlog rešenja za Kosovo. To rešenje bi trebalo da bude takvo da ga prihvate sve strane, kaže Nikolas Vajt.
Licna karta MKG
Medunarodna krizna grupa je internacionalna organizacija sa sedištem u Briselu i više od 100 zaposlenih na pet kontinenata, ciji je cilj rad na “sprecavanju i rešavanju tragicnih sukoba”. Na osnovu informacija prikupljenih sa terena, MKG izdaje izveštaje koji sadrže prakticne preporuke glavnim donosiocima odluka u medunarodnoj zajednici. Predsedavajuci organizacije je Lord Paten, bivši evropski komesar za spoljnu politiku, a predsednik je Garet Evans, bivši ministar spoljnih poslova Austrije. Sudeci prema sajtu organizacije, korisnici usluga MKG su ministarstva inostranih poslova i medunarodne organizacije. Medu finansijerima MKG izlistane su brojne vlade evropskih država, americke fondacije kao što su “Ford” i “Carnegie Corporation”, te Fond za otvoreno društvo. Ukupno oko 70 razlicitih organizacija. Pored sedišta u Briselu, MKG još ima predstavništva u Njujorku, Vašingtonu, Moskvi i Londonu, te 19 kancelarija na terenu. Izveštaji MKG su dostupni na internet stranici organizacije www.crisisgroup.org.
Upravo smo objavili izveštaj o Sandžaku. Cini nam se da je Medunarodna zajednica potpuno zaboravila na ovaj deo regiona, otuda naslov dokumenta: “Srpski Sandžak i dalje zaboravljen”. Naš zakljucak je da nema mnogo stvari zbog kojih treba brinuti, mada on i dalje ostaje potencijalno trusno podrucje. Kad je u pitanju Makedonija i tu sam umereno optimistican. Ove godine je bio prisutan neprijatno visok nivo lažiranja na lokalnim izborima, ali su i makedonski i albanski politicari pristupili rešavanju stvari na prilicno zreo nacin. Što se tice Bosne, tamo smo zatvorili kancelariju, što verujem da dovoljno govori o situaciji na terenu. Bosna je skoro dostigla nivo na kome je samoodrživa, ali je i dalje ocekuje ozbiljna reforma policije. Generalno posmatrano, za sve zemlje u regionu važi da imaju tešku ekonomsku situaciju i ne uvek dovoljno kompetentne politicare, kaže Nikolas Vajt.
Moje licno magicno rešenje – ne samo za Kosovo, nego za ekonomska pitanja celog regiona – je da se EU vrati na liberalni režim viza
Priština, otvoreni grad
Odmah bi trebalo poceti sa radom na kampanji “Priština -otvoren grad”. Ova kampanja bi obuhvatila i prakticne mere koje bi stanovnike obližnjih srpskih enklava privukle da dolaze u glavni grad, kao što su uvodenje redovne autobuske linije; distribucija nalepnica za izlog po prodavnicama na kojima na pozadini na kojoj je prikazana albanska zastava piše – “govorimo srpski”; postavljanje znakova slicnog izgleda na ulazima u grad na kojima bi pisalo “Priština – otvoreni grad”; promovisanje slobode kretanja u glavnom gradu preko radija i televizije; prikazivanje filmova u bioskopima u Prištini koji su pored albanskog titlovani i na srpskom jeziku; pružanje podrške otvaranju jedne strateške, velike knjižare sa velikom ponudom knjiga na albanskom, engleskom, srpskom, bošnjackom i hrvatskom; i otklanjanje ogranicenja koja onemogucavaju Srbima pristup stotinama hiljada srpskih knjiga u “narodnoj” biblioteci (dok bi istovremeno biblioteku trebalo bolje prilagoditi potrebama svih korisnika). Na Univerzitetu u Prištini neka predavanja mogla bi biti na srpskom/bošnjackom i engleskom.
(Odlomak iz studije, poglavlje “Udovoljavanje potrebama kosovskih Srba i drugih manjina”, strana 17)
Kosovo se približilo rešavanju finalnog statusa; naša percepcija je da to znaci nezavisnost ili, pak, rešenje koje je veoma blizu nezavisnosti
A true breath of sanity in the mad world of Northern Irish politics is the weekly Portadown News, edited by Newton Emerson. I’ve just been spending a few minutes looking over his recent election coverage. His piss-take of the Ulster Unionist Party’s dire election slogan “Decent People…Vote Ulster Unionist” is hilarious but also (for obvious reasons) made me wince:
His commentary on news coverage of the Pope’s death takes a typically local angle:
And he manages to make me glad to have got the hell out of the place, while at the same time bringing home how much I miss that vicious sarcasm which constitutes the “crack”:
And on similar lines, from quite an early point in the Portadown News’ run:
Back at the end of 2001, Newton Emerson annoyed certain people in Northern Ireland politics to the extent that they managed to get him sacked from his job. The reward has been that he is now one of the most visible political commentators in the media. Long may he continue.
Basically very good. Teetered on the edge of being too complex for late-night reading (I seem to have spent most of the last week feeling very sleepy) but I managed. Far future setting, almost all characters are women (hardly any men left alive), vibrant Mars vs failing Earth, nanotechnology, advanced military tech and also raising the dead. Will buy more by her.
My German collection of Arthur C. Clarke stories, Ein Treffen Mit Medusa, contains one of the most unintentionally funny editorial comments I have ever encountered. Editor and translator Michael Nagula, attempting to explain the punchline of “Neutronenflut” (“Neutron Tide”) to the puzzled German reader, tells us:
Ihr besonderer Witz rührt vom plötzlichen Wechsel der Perspektive her.
Its exceptional joke is rooted in the sudden change of perspective.
This is a glorious failure to get the point of the story, reflected in his translation of its final paragraph:
»Es fällt mir wirklich nicht leicht, das zu sagen.« Er seufzte schwer. »Aber das einzige noch identifizierbar Teil des Stolzes der Raumflotte der Vereinigten Staaten war – ein sternverformter Schraubenschlüssel.«
In German it looks rather mysterious and completely humourless; what is so funny about an American spaceship being entirely destroyed, apart from one small item dropped from some astronaut’s toolkit? (I am reminded of the gap in cultures satirised in that great line from Black Adder: “How lucky you English are to find the toilet so amusing. For us, it is a mundane and functional item. For you, it is the basis of an entire culture!”) Because of course the original punchline to the story, while not actual toilet humour, is an excruciatingly awful pun:
“I really hate to say this.” He sighed. “But the only identifiable fragment of the pride of the United States Space Navy was – one star-mangled spanner.”
A dozen vintage Clarke short stories from the early years of his career (1945-1953). More than half I already knew – I see that “A Walk in the Dark”, “Rescue Party”, “The Curse”, and “The Possessed” were also in The Nine Billion Names of God, and “Trouble with the Natives”, “The Forgotten Enemy” and “The Fires Within” are in Of Time and Stars, of which I still have a battered Puffin copy. Oddly, “A Walk in the Dark”, “Rescue Party”, and “The Possessed” are rather weak stories to have been collected twice; all three of them basically long set-ups for a rather trivial punchline (“It’s in front of you!” “Humans are smarter than you think!” and “Lemmings!”). “The Curse” works rather better, partly because the punchline is tragic rather than funny, but mainly because it is much shorter.
“Trouble with the Natives” is sheer slapstick, but I’ve always liked it. “The Fires Within” is another favourite of mine which manages the twist of perception while maintaining the tone of sinister tragedy well. “The Forgotten Enemy” I’ve always felt is over-rated; scientifically (as Clarke admits in the prologue) it’s a bit implausible, and the enemy turns out to be one that you can literally walk away from; I don’t feel the denouement satisfies the build-up.
The five new stories for me were “Technical Error”, an entertaining engineering story with a Fourth Dimension twist; “The Parasite”, a rather unsuccessful attempt at time-travelling horror; “The Awakening”, a brief but effective Sleeper Outlives Humanity story (though this has been done better since by others, eg Zelazny’s “Go Starless in the Night”); “Jupiter Five”, an early attempt at the themes later more successfully developed in Rendezvous With Rama which unfortunately falls a bit flat in its characterisation; and my personal favourite of the bunch, “Time’s Arrow”, which brings paleontologists and time-travelling physicists together – and although I saw the punchline coming from miles away, I still thought it was carried off well.
Part of my weekend reading is the Turkey City Lexicon. I suspect that Clarke broke a number of these rules and got away with it; but those were more innocent times, over fifty years ago.
I’ve suddenly realised I have a German translation of this collection and The Wind From The Sun bought nineteen years ago, and probably not read since then.
I missed last week’s Doctor Who since I was in Albania, and we forgot to video it. So I’ve downloaded a file from BitTorrent with the intimidating filename doctor_who_2005.1×04.aliens_of_london.ws_pdtv_xvid-fov.avi.torrent – and now I find I cannot play it. Or at least, I can play the audio but not the video bits. I’ve never used BitTorrent before, and have now reached the end of my googling abilities (basically downloading various media players that claim they can play xvid files, and then finding that they won’t play this one). Anyone out there know how I can do it?
Long long ago, perhaps in the early 1980s, I remember reading a collection of stories about alien landings, by British authors I think. Two stand out in my mind not because of the plot but because of particular twists of phrase. Do they ring bells for anyone else, to help me identify the collection? (I think it was a large but thin illustrated hardback, on the lines of the Doctor Who annuals but aimed at a slightly older audience.)
Story #1: Our hero is in conversation with aliens who are going through his personal possessions. One of them notes, “Your driving licence is endorsed.” He retorts, “Most people’s are.”
Story #2: Our second hero is exploring a recently landed UFO. He comes to a fork in the corridor, and must choose which way to go. The omniscient narrator notes somthing on the lines of, “It has been demonstrated that most people, given a choice of two alternatives, pick the wrong one 85% of the time. On this occasion, [our hero] was not among the lucky fifteen.”
Any help much appreciated.Probably best to post responses not here but at rasfw once my copy of this query shows up there.
In a startling bit of news, the 2000 year old bureacracy based in Rome, virtually the last relic of a society founded nearly three thousand years ago, the final echo of Classical civilization, has elected to steer a conservative path. I know _I_ was completely taken by surprise.
I had planned a minor part for him as a hitman for the mystical-nut branch of the Gestapo in the 1963 frame story of my alternate-WWII novel, on the assumption that he would continue being a pretty obscure figure. Not at all sure I still want to do that.
Meanwhile , stretching beyond breaking point an analogy used by several others, opines:
I reckon Benedict XVI will be the Chernenko of Catholicism. Dead within a year and replaced by a younger reformist. Hang on, was John Paul II supposed to be the younger reformist? That’ll make Ratzinger Boris Yeltsin, then. No, that analogy fails on every level.
Tell you what, he can be one of the hardliners who briefly overthrew Gorbachev in a failed coup.
The Catholic Church is a bit like the Soviet Union, as long as you ignore all the details. That’s what I’m saying. has a considered collection of links.
More deeply than this, the advent of Benedict XVI is making me re-evaluate exactly what I do believe about Authority and Revelation, about Scripture, Tradition and Reason, about why I am not just a Catholic but a Roman Catholic.
…this aged, scholarly, conservative, uncharismatic Bavarian theologian will surely hasten precisely the de-Christianisation of Europe that he aims to reverse. At the end of his papacy, Europe may again be as un-Christian as it was when St Benedict, one of the patron saints of Europe, founded his pioneering monastic order, the Benedictines, 15 centuries ago… Europe is now the most secular continent on earth… An American Baptist missionary website puts things in perspective. “Western Europe,” it states, “is … one of the world’s most difficult mission fields. Most missiologists compare it to the Muslim-held Middle East when it comes to responsiveness to the gospel.” Voltaire would be proud of us.
Finally, a point that occurred to me and that I haven’t seen covered by anyone else. Does anyone else find it weird that, rather than fuming abut the Whore of Babylon and idolatry, American evangelicals seemed to embrace John Paul II and now Benedict XVI as valued and worthy allies in the wider battle against liberalism? Has this been a recent development, or was it always there and I just didn’t notice because of the blinkers I acquired with my Northern Ireland upbringing?
(I should say that I don’t perceive the Vatican as having similar cuddly feelings about the American right; a two thousand year old institution with nominally over four times the US population among its adherents has seen a lot of them come and go over the centuries.)
I would add to this that there are a couple of entertaining antipope Benedicts in the historical record: the Avignon line of the Great Schism started of course with (Anti)Pope Clement VII (born 1342, reigned 1378-1394), elected when the cardinals thought better of their first choice in 1378, Urban VI (not coincidentally, the last Pope elected who wasn’t already a cardinal).Clement died in 1394 and his supporters elected Pedro Martinez de Luna, born in 1328, as (Anti)Pope Benedict XIII. Benedict XIII’s position gradually eroded, he managed to get deposed by two different church Councils (Pisa in 1409 and Constance in 1418); but he soldiered on regardless until dying in his mid 90’s in 1423.
Rather inefficiently, Benedict XIII left it to the last minute to prepare for the succession, and appointed four cardinals (according to legend) just a few days before he died. Three of them agreed on (Anti)Pope Clement VIII(Anti)Pope Benedict XIV. Garnier is supposed to have lasted six or seven years as a very secret Pope, and then died, leaving a very small college of loyal cardinals who turned to Jean Carrier as his successor. Carrier took the exceptionally eccentric step of calling himself not Benedict XV, but Benedict XIV the second. His end is obscure.