Friday, January 22, 2010

For All My Friends who Follow the Team at Fenway

Just found this online, and think it needs to be shared. It's not even Spring Training yet - can't we all be friends? Er, no.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Banning the Burqa

The wearing of a burqa is an issue which evokes extreme reactions across a spectrum. In democracies that pride themselves on a variety of freedoms, one might think that choice of clothing should not be a problem. On the other hand, many people find the burqa offensive. India Knight wrote an interesting piece in the Times a couple of weeks ago. She was discussing a potential law in France that would fine women wearing the burqa or niqab in public. According to her, the French government considers wearing a burqa to be an in-your-face action by extremists, rather than a religious prescription. Her response is that

"I find this whole subject uncomfortable because I don’t really know what I think; I change my mind constantly. I start off, as most people would, from the point of view that everyone should be allowed to wear what they like, regardless of how peculiar it might strike others as being, without being dictated to."

That seems pretty clear to me. What I may think the custom says about the lives of the people who observe it, e.g., oppression of women, is my opinion, but surely not any basis for enacting its prohibition. On the other hand, as Knight also says

"The bottom line, I guess, is that you have to fall into line with the country you’re living in. I was in Marrakesh a couple of months ago and, as ever, was treated to the sight of idiot tourists wandering around the souks half-naked, complaining loudly about unwelcome attention and taking photographs of the picturesque natives without asking first. So you could argue that banning the burqa is a variant on the same thing: stopping people offending the social mores of the country they find themselves in."

The thing is, I find it hard to be offended by an item of clothing. It's not like it is a yellow star or a pink triangle. On the other hand, I would rather be able to see people's faces if I am to interact with them. I have not had much interaction with burqaed women, though. Anyway, I'm afraid that this all has a lot more to do with the Western response to those terrorists who claim to be acting according to Islamic teachings. Of course it is important to try and stay safe. Laws governing clothing, however, aren't the way to go.

India Knight's article is here

The Epitome of Angelic

Sadly this is only a picture of a photo (the negative was lost many years ago). It is, however, generally held to be a representation of the sister of ravaj at her most beautiful moment of childhood. Happily, while no longer necessarily angelic, she continues to shine.

Krakow Cuisine

As Piotr and his friends from Krakow set up their exhibition in the Czech Scrolls Museum, we have had some interesting conversations about Jewish life in the area. Ancient relatives of the ravaj lived in villages round and about, so a trip to Poland may be taking place in the not-too-distant future. With that in mind, I did some googling, and came up with this fine Jewish restaurant :-)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sneaky Sister!

The sister of ravaj, who screams razorblades if one tries to photograph her, nicked this little pic last Boxing Day down at Mecca. Although we won, the football we played was incredibly bad, as reflected by the look on my face.

Homer Simpson Quotes

I am sooooo procrastinating. In that mode, I have found some Homer Simpson quotes on the BBC website and feel the need to share them:

• [Reading computer manual] "To start, press any key. Where's the 'Any' key?"

• "I want to share something with you: The three little sentences that will get you through life.
Number 1: Cover for me.
Number 2: Oh, good idea, Boss!
Number 3: It was like that when I got here."

• "Pffft, English. Who needs that? I'm never going to England."

• Homer: "Well, he's got all the money in the world, but there's one thing he can't buy."
Marge: "What's that?"
Homer: [thinks] "A dinosaur."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rest in Peace Miep Gies

I remember watching the Oscars one year, when a film about Anne Frank won an award. The film-maker came onstage with an old lady beside him, and suddenly I sounded like the Roadrunner as I pointed to the screen crying "Miep, Miep!" In one of the obits below she is quoted regarding her decision to go to the Academy Awards having been based on the fact that Anne had loved Hollywood so much.

Miep lived to a ripe old age - 100 - yet it is still sad that she has gone. Now it's all just history, since the last witness is dead.

"Miep Gies devoted herself to sustaining Anne Frank's legacy, answering letters from all over the world. In 1987 she published a book, Anne Frank Remembered. In it she observed: "I am not a hero. I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did and more – much more – during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the heart of those of us who bear witness.""
The Telegraph

"When Otto Frank finally returned to Amsterdam in the summer of 1945, it was to find that Miep Gies had kept the business going despite nearly starving during the terrible final winter of the conflict. With nowhere to live, Otto Frank moved in with the Gies family and stayed with them for seven years until he moved to Switzerland to be close to his mother."
The Times

"After Otto Frank's death in 1980, she continued to campaign against Holocaust deniers and refute allegations that the diary was a forgery."
The Guardian

"A small woman — just a shade over 5 feet tall — whose hair had turned white, she bore a single remembrance of those days in the hiding place, a black onyx ring with a diamond in the center, worn on her left hand. It was a gift from Auguste von Pels, one of the doomed Jews she had sheltered."
NY Times

Friday, January 08, 2010

Piglet in O'Hare Airport

On the way back to London from a delightful Thanksgiving in Appleton, Piglet stops to chat with an old friend.

Perils of Facebook

It's been a while, I know. My three regular readers have either given up, e-mailed me to check I still have all my fingers, or followed me to Facebook. What can I say? I was seduced by the chance to see pictures of the grown-up children of people I had not seen since Junior (Middle) School. Am I sated? Not quite, I think. Shots of weddings of friends of my sister still have a bit of a hold on me, although I no longer play any word games with annoying strangers who score so many points you'd like to think they are cheating but really you are just ticked off that you aren't getting any better. Anyway, just wanted to pop in and wish you all a happy secular new year!