Archive for May, 2012

Long Pair Bond

May 30, 2012

Long Pair Bond

Fine musicians seem to be among Iceland’s most visible exports these days, and pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs is proof that jazz is as much a part of the picture as the pop of Björk or Sigur Ros. — — Time Out, New York

Icelandic jazz, trio Sunna Gunnlaugs with Toggi and Scott, recorded at a concert hall near home of Sunna Gunnlaugs.

Beautiful, haunting music. Excellent production!

Top Story in The Waverley Daily (Thursday 31 May 2012).

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Napa King – Protaras – Famagusta – Cape Greco

May 28, 2012

Napa King II

Napa King II replaced the original Napa King when it was destroyed by fire. Napa King II is a replica of the original Napa King, the main difference is that Napa King II is longer.

Napa King II was built by Captain Gregory who owns the only working boatyard in Cyprus.

Napa King II sails twice daily from the pier off Protaras Beach to the ghost town of Famagusta, then to Cape Greco where it drops anchor for about half an hour to allow people to go swimming off the back of the boat.

The coast from Protaras to Famagusta is surprisingly developed.

The boat does not go near Famugusta. It sails as far as a buoy that marks where the Green Line extends out the sea, then turns around. Famagusta is still some distance off. To see Famagusta you need a telescope or pair of binoculars!

At Cape Greco, Napa King II drops anchor allowing passengers, if they wish, to go swimming.

The entire trip is about two hours, including the half an hour stopover at Cape Greco.

Napa King II sets sail at 11am. Another trip in the afternoon.

Other boats set sail from the pier, but they go to either Cape Greco or Famugusta.

Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (Monday 28 May 2012).

Freedom

May 25, 2012

I fought for the courage to leave my job on the newspaper and launch myself into the adventure of writing a book, knowing full well that in my country no one in my country could make a living as a writer. I gave up after a year, after having written more than a thousand pages – pages of such genius that even I couldn’t understand them.

While I was fighting, I heard other people speaking in the name of freedom, and the more they defended this unique right, the more enslaved they seemed to be to their parent’s wishes, to a marriage in which they had promised to stay with the other person ‘for the rest of their lives, to the bathroom scales, to their diet, to half-finished projects, to lovers to who they were incapable of saying ‘No’ or ‘It’s over;, to weekends when they were obliged to have lunch with people who they didn’t even like. Slaves to luxury, to the appearance luxury, to the appearance of the appearance luxury. Slaves to a life they had not chosen, but which they had decided to live because someone had managed to convince them that it was all for the best. And so their identical days and nights passed, days and nights in which adventure was just a word in a book or an image on the television that was always on, and whenever a door opened they would say:

‘I’m not interested. I’m not in the mood.’

How could they possible know if they were in the mood or not if they had never tried? But there is no point in asking; the truth was they were afraid of any change that would upset the world they were used to.

Extract from The Zahir by Paulo Coelho.

For my lovely Russian friend Lena.

In search of my island

May 24, 2012

When I wrote The Zahir, the main character says: writing is getting lost at sea. It’s discovering your own untold story and trying to share it with others. It’s realizing, when you show it to people you have never seen, what is in your own soul. In the book, a famous writer on spiritual matters, who believes he has everything, loses the thing that is most precious to him: love. I have always wondered what would happen to a man if he had no one to dream about, and now I am answering that question for myself.

When I used to read biographies of writers, I always thought that when they said: “The book writes itself, the writer is just the typist”, they were simply trying to make their profession seem more interesting. I know now that this is absolutely true, no one knows why the current took them to that particular island and not to the one they wanted to reach. Then the obsessive re-drafting and editing begins, and when I can no longer bear to re-read the same words one more time, I send it to my publisher, where it is edited again, and then published.

And it is a constant source of surprise to me to discover that other people were also in search of that very island and that they find it in my book. One person tells another person about it, the mysterious chain grows, and what the writer thought of as a solitary exercise becomes a bridge, a boat, a means by which souls can travel and communicate.

From then on, I am no longer the man lost in the storm: I find myself through my readers, I understand what I wrote when I see that others understand it too, but never before. On a few rare occasions, like the one that is about to take place, I manage to look those people in the eye and then I understand that my soul is not alone.

Once I heard an interviewer ask Paul McCartney: “Could you sum up the Beatles’ message in one sentence?” Tired of hearing the same question myself, I assumed McCartney would give some ironic response, after all, given the complexity of human beings, how can anyone possibly sum up a whole body of work in a few words?

But Paul said: “Yes, I can.” And he went on: “All you need is love. Do you want me to say more?”

No, said the interviewer, he didn’t. There was nothing more to be said. The Zahir could be summed up in the same way.

— Paulo Coelho

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Writers write because they love to write, musicians because they love to play music.

It is something my lovely Russian friend Lena and I discussed as we sat on a beach by the sea, me getting burnt.

I have just finished reading The Eight. A gift from Lainee which I will now gift to Lena.

I am now reading The Zahir. I desired to read The Zahir and there was The Zahir waiting for me to pick it up.

My first encounter with Paulo Coelho was a lovely Lithuanian girl sat by a river reading The Zahir.

The cry of the desert

May 24, 2012

As soon as he arrived in Marrakesh, Morocco, a missionary decided he would stroll through the desert at the city’s boundary every morning. On his first stroll he noticed a man lying on the sand, caressing the ground with his hands and leaning his ears towards the earth.

“He is mad,” the missionary said to himself. But he saw the man every morning during his walks and after a month, intrigued by that strange behaviour, he decided to approach the stranger.

He knelt beside him and asked, in broken Arabic, “What are you doing?”

“I keep the desert company and offer solace for its loneliness and its tears.”

“I didn’t know the desert was capable of crying.”

“It cries every day, because it dreams of being useful to mankind and turning into a huge garden where people could cultivate, flowers and sheep.”

“Well, then, tell the desert it accomplishes its mission very well,” said the missionary. “Every time I walk here, I am able to understand the true dimension of the human being, as its open space allows me to see how small we are before God. When I look at its sands, I imagine the millions of people in the world who were raised alike although the world isn’t always fair towards everyone. Its mountains help me meditate. As I see the sun rising on the horizon, my soul fills with joy and I get closer to the Creator.”

The missionary left the man and went back to his daily chores. To his surprise, he found him the next morning at the same place, in the same position.

“Did you tell the desert everything I told you?” he asked.

The man nodded.

“And even so it keeps crying?”

“I can hear each of its sobs,” answered the man, his head tilted towards the ground.

“Now it is crying because it spent thousands of years thinking it was completely useless and wasted all this time blaspheming God and its own destiny.”

“Well, then tell the desert that despite having a short lifespan, we human beings spend much of our days thinking we are useless. We rarely find the reason for our destiny and think God has been unfair to us. When a moment finally arrives in which we are shown the reason why we were born, we think it is too late to change and keep on suffering. And as the desert, we blame ourselves for the time we have wasted.”

“I am not sure the desert will bother to hear it,” said the man.

“It is used to suffering and it can’t see things differently.”

“So then let us do what I always do when I feel people have lost faith. Let us pray.”

Both of them went down on their knees and prayed; one turned to Mecca as he was a Muslim and the other joined his hands in prayer, as he was Catholic. They prayed, each one to his own God.

The next day when the missionary resumed his daily walk, the man was no longer there. The ground where he used to embrace the sand seemed to be wet as if a small spring had formed. During the following months that spring grew and the city’s residents built a well around it.

The place is now called “The Well of the Desert’s Tears”. It is said that those who drink its water will be able to transform the reason of their suffering into the reason of their joy and will end up finding their true destiny.

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Stop forced marriage and female genital mutilation

May 23, 2012

Every year tens of thousands of girls aged 11-13 from Muslim families are sent back to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries to be raped.

Tens of thousands of young girls and women in the UK are subjected to female genital mutilation every year. Often held down by family members, often their own mothers and sisters who force them to be butchered.

Why does everyone turn a blind eye? Why has no one been prosecuted?

It is time to end forced marriage, rape by any other name, time to end female genital mutilation.

A petition against female genital mutilation has been launched on Avaaz, please sign.

TesseracT – April – Shadowboxer

May 23, 2012

I watched this video without the sound (mainly because I am in the Midlde East and the computer has no sound).

I would recommend watch without the sound.

Amazing filming. Very sad.

Where is it, I thought?

It could be Iceland, Sweden, Norway, even Moscow.

It is Oslo.

Like all music from Shadowboxer you can listen to, download from bandcamp.

Lyrics of April

A deep engrained lust for possession
Modern sundowns break me
I like to watch things burn down, soft and gently
I need to watch her abused ’til I’m satisfied
Never… Never…
See tonight through bloodshot eyes
I’ll wait until you can see me here
Left so long alone
Undressed tonight, forsaken skin
You mean nothing, nothing
No you mean nothing to me
Won’t you feel bad while you’re trashing out?
Makes me feel sick to know she’s had enough
Time and time again
You see tonight through bloodshot eyes
You mean nothing, nothing
No you mean nothing at all

I’ll never say a word of this
I swear, I swear
Never… Never…
I hope you know
I live tonight through methadone highs
This life is over

Twitter shut down account of opponents of London 2012 Olympics

May 23, 2012

The Twitter account of protest group Space Hijackers has been suspended following a complaint by the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics.

Once again we are seeing the copyright thugs in action. Draconian legislation has been passed to protect the branding of the London 2012 Olympics and their sponsors.

For residents of London, the London 2012 Olympics will be a nightmare summer.

Space Hijackers, whose account has been blocked following a complaint by the London 2012 Olympics, were hardly likely to bring down the International Olympic Committee (more’s the pity) and capitalism along with it (not through Twitter at least). One can only conclude that this is an act of petty, vindictive censorship, hardly in the spirit of plurality and inclusiveness the Olympics is supposed to promote.

And who are the major the sponsors of the London 2012 Games, not the brands who are being protected, but the public. The long-suffereing public who in London at least are going to have a summer of misery whilst the unwanted Games take place.

Shame on twitter who gave in to the London 2012 Olympics.

Women’s Rights are Non-Negotiable in Afghanistan

May 22, 2012

More than ten years after the overthrow of the Taliban, modest advances have been made for girls and women in Afghanistan, but much remains to be done. Peace talks between the Taliban, Afghan government and the U.S. jeopardize even these modest gains as the U.S. searches for a quick exit.

Amnesty International urges the U.S. government to adopt an action plan for Afghan women to ensure that their rights are not traded away in the transition. The U.S. should make clear that human rights are non-negotiable and ensure mechanisms are in place to uphold those rights after any agreement is reached.

Meryl Streep, Sting, Joan Baez, Cynthia Nixon, Yoko Ono and Sir Patrick Stewart signed their names to an Amnesty International open letter released Sunday to President Obama and President Karzai, calling on them to give women a voice in the conversation about Afghanistan’s future. The letter was released by Amnesty International as it staged a “Shadow Summit for Afghan Women” hours before the NATO Summit got underway in Chicago.

Joining the artists as signatories were authors, including Stephen King, Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner) and playwright Lynn Nottage (Ruined, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark).

Signatories included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, feminist Gloria Steinem, Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi, along with a roster of leading Afghan women’s rights advocates.

“The women of Afghanistan have come too far to see their rights vanish,” said Frank Januzzi, head of Amnesty International USA’s Washington office. “They must be part of the conversation about the future of Afghanistan or that future will look very bleak indeed. No one wants a return to the days when the Taliban banned women and girls from schools and work, and held them as virtual prisoners in their own country. This would be the ultimate catastrophe after a decade of gains for women. We hope the voices of these notable signatories will add to the pressure on Presidents Obama and Karzai to follow through on the promise of human rights for all women in Afghanistan.”

Amnesty International urged Presidents Obama and Karzai to adopt eight key steps to make sure Afghan woman can continue the progress they have made on rights and freedoms after the troops leave in 2014.

‘Father of the Internet’ warns Web freedom is under attack

May 21, 2012

“Father of the Internet” Vint Cerf on Monday warned that Internet freedom is under threat from governments around the world, including the United States.

“Political structures … are often scared by the possibility that the general public might figure out that they don’t want them in power,” he said.

He sounded the alarm about the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), arguing the group is poised to assume the role of global Internet cop.

“There is strong indication that the Internet will enter the picture [for the ITU],” Cerf said at the Freedom to Connect conference.

Cerf said the ITU is likely to try and lock in mandatory intellectual property protections as a backdoor for easy Web surveillance.

Even good-faith efforts at Internet policymaking should be viewed with skepticism, Cerf said, because balancing freedom and security “isn’t something that government alone is going to figure out.”

He criticized the Cybersecurity and Intelligence Protection Act (CISPA), legislation passed by the House to encourage companies to share information about cyber threats with the government, because it lacks “adequate constraints” on how the information is used.

But Cerf said he has the “optimistic belief” that attempts by hostile governments to restrict access will be circumvented by resourceful engineers around the world.

“If someone stops me from communicating, I’ll find a way around it,” he said.

Cerf also urged vigilante groups such as Anonymous to stop using cyberattacks as a means of activism, saying the hackings are counterproductive.

“I don’t think lawlessness is our friend,” he said.

Ultimately, there is a legitimate role for law enforcement on the Web, he said, adding that “it would be bad for us as a community to say … that all the good things outweigh the bad.”

“That’s not a credible position to take,” he said.

Cerf said activists and regulators alike harm themselves by using terms like “cybercrime” because they suggest that “every bad thing that happens on the Internet is a crime.”

“Some are just bugs,” Cerf said, while suggesting a better goal for policymakers should be “cybersafety.”

Cerf, a computer scientist who was instrumental in the Internet’s creation and is now employed by Google as its “Internet evangelist,” said officials in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe are using intellectual property and cybersecurity issues “as an excuse for constraining what we can and can’t do on the ‘net.”

Originally published in The Hill.

Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the internet, has warned that Internet freedom is under threat from governments around the world, including the United States, UK and EU.

Vinc Cerf has warned that officials in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe are using intellectual property and cybersecurity issues “as an excuse for constraining what we can and can’t do on the ‘net.”

I could not agree more!