Monday, January 31, 2005 / Arts & Weekend - Rooms with an Atlantic view

I came across this link in the wonderful North Atlantic Skyline blog. It's an article in the Financial Times about Renvyle House Hotel. The Hotel is situated on one of the wildest parts of the very wild west of Ireland. It holds some very fond memories for me. When I was sixteen, my friend Stephen and I came across an ad in the newspaper looking for "entertainers", willing to play two week stints in a prestigous hotel in Connemara. We promptly wrote a reply letter, blowing our meagre entertaining skills into a world class music act. The hotel brought us up for an audition, and somehow we managed to convince to hire us for a summer stint. More fun than you could shake a very big stick at. We were 16, pretended we were 20 and in college so we could drink. It was such an eye opener. Back the Steve and I were convinced that we were on our way to rock and roll stardom and this was the first step on the ladder. / Arts & Weekend - Rooms with an Atlantic view

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Claude J. Letulle

Seven years ago, I had the privilege of going to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. My wife and I were taken by a friend of who warned that we might not feel like doing anything but reflecting afterwards. She was right.

There are the very obvious reasons for the museum's existence but it is also a unique piece of architecture with incredible emotional impact. It somehow manages to evoke the oppressiveness and disorientation of the concentration camps, but to me, it occasionally felt uplifting. I can't really explain it, but it was, in many ways, an almost spiritual experience. Today is the 60th anniversary of Auschwitz, and seems an appropriate time to link to the museum's website.

It is also an appropriate time to remember our common humanity. While there are fewer totalitarian states today that at any other time in our history, we are still very far from a peaceful democratic planet. Today is a good day to think of those dissenters who languish in jail in N. Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe, most of the Arab countries, Burma/Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, China, Cuba etc. The list is still long. Particularly, we should remember those in the Darfur region of Sudan. This is yet another genocide. It should also give pause to all of us in the U.S., regardless of our political persuasion that Amnesty International needs to highlight U.S. human rights abuses during the war on terror on it's website. There is of course no comparison between the U.S. and any of the above countries, but we cannot barter our freedoms for security. Benjamin Franklin's quote may be a little over used these days, but it was never truer:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

When you enter the Holocaust Museum, they give you a booklet with three pages. The booklet contains the history of a Nazi victim. On each floor you can check what happened to them during the war, and if they were still alive at any given stage. I was delighted that the man in the my booklet, and the woman in our friend Virginia's booklet, both survived. Sadly, the women whose history my wife was following, perished. The man in my booklet was French resistance fighter, Claude J. Letulle. I googled Msr. Letulle, and it seems he moved to Louisiana, and in 1987 he wrote a book called Nightmare Memoir: Four Years As a Prisoner of the Nazis. It could be a coincidence - there could have been more than one Claude Letulle in the camps - but it is probably unlikely that both would have survived. I know what my next read is going to be. This posting is dedicated to Msr. Letulle; I sincerely hope he is still alive. His survivial and the survival of others like him, while the Nazi's Thousand Year Reich exists only in history books, is the ultimate victory.

Fourteen years ago, while working in Munich I visited Dachau. There, in English, French, Russian, German and Hebrew, are the words:

"Never Again"

Unfortunately, this is not yet true as proved in Stalin's USSR, Milosivic's Serbia, Rwanda, East Timor, the Kurds in Iraq and today in Darfur. We can take some hope in the fact the many of regimes that committed these attrocities are all history and some of the chief perpetrators are under lock and key. However, the dreadful fact is that other genocides are still likely.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Guardian Unlimited - What Machiavelli could teach Brown and Blair

This is an interesting article from The Guardian about the relationship between politicians and the modern electorate as seen through Machiavellian ideas. While I was back in Ireland it really struck me how people only perceive politics and politicians as corrupt and venal. While Ireland seems to have suffered through many political corruption scandals, it has also transformed from an impoverished, religion dominated backwater into one of the most admired, progressive and prosperous countries in the world. However, you wouldn't know this from chatting to people. It seems when politicians act like politicians they are vilified for it - but no one seems to understand that if they stopped the deal making, spinning and media manipulation they wouldn't last five minutes in office! Of course this is not an excuse for corruption and incompetence, (which may be the worse offence), but in a democracy stating your beliefs and intentions openly could be career suicide.

Guardian Unlimited | Arts critics | What Machiavelli could teach Brown and Blair

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The New York Times - It's Time to Spray DDT

This is a very interesting OP-ED from the NY Times. Nicholas Kristoff writes about how it is time to re-evalaute DDT in the fight against Malaria. My personal politics tend toward the moderate liberal side of things, and I believe very strongly in a long term holistic planning with regard to environmental issues. Thus spraying DDT would very much have been on my list of bad things to do. This article may have changed my mind. Malaria is one of the words greatest threats; it kills two million people every year.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: It's Time to Spray DDT

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Castlegregory Rainbow

The weather around the Dingle Peninsula was even more inclement than usual, but in a wild and wonderful way. Dramatic and changeable at the best of times, it was positively manic last week. Gales morphed into glorious winter sunshine, which cooled rapidly to an arctic chill. All in all good weather suited to two things: enjoying the West's famously convivial hostelries, and chasing rainbows. No photos of the latter, but as to the former see above.

Sunset over Brandon Bay.

I was looking for some surf, ( Brandon Bay, 15 miles long has several good breaks), when the clouds broke. The wife and I bought a house nearby five years back and over the years I have taken many photos of the bay and Mount Brandon in the background, and it never looks the same twice. The Dingle Peninsula is renowned for its light as this photo proves.