Monthly Archives: May 2009

Whale Song

Love in the Time of Cholera Covers


A book I’ve long intended to read, I was a bit disappointed when the only copy at the bookstore was (apparently) the design from the film poster. A red rose? What an unfortunate cover (bottom right). Last summer I saw a beautiful cover of a friend’s copy from Spain. Searching for it proved to be unsuccessful, but I did find some others which would all be preferable to the one I have. It’s interesting that on two covers the title is most prominent, while on the other two the author is.  I would have most liked the cover on the bottom left, with the title and the author reversed. The contents of the book are what make it a beautiful or disappointing read, but the cover design should always be well thought out.

Al Jazeera interview with ‘Fighting the Silence’ filmmakers

Dutch filmmakers Ilse and Femke van Velzen recently appeared on the Al Jazeera documentary channel Witness to discuss their 2007 film ‘Fighting the Silence’ about rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Presenter Rageh Omaar asked them how they were able to encourage the women to speak to them about an act that is considered so shameful in Congolese society. Isle and Femke respond that they found the women through local women activists. Because the women who had been raped trusted these activists, Isle and Femke were able to more easily create a bond of trust with them. Secondly, the women were told exactly why they would be doing the interviews. But the biggest motivation was that they wanted to share their story. Ilse and Femke state that they did not want to victimize the women. Yet, I wonder, how can they walk the fine line between not victimizing them women in order to show their real strength and needing to create sympathy within the audience? The goal of documentary films about human rights is not just to extend knowledge to the audience, but, I believe, to create action and encourage the audience to see what small part they can play in fighting for the right’s of others.

The Real Rock Stars

This new Intel ad, from their recently-launched ‘Sponsors of Tomorrow’ campaign, is spot on. Today’s real rock stars should be the brains behind all the technology that has changed our lives and prompted the world in new directions. And, in many ways, they are. I wonder how many people would opt for a free computer over free concert tickets. I know I would.

Right now, I’m knee-deep in a research project about future technology and I must say it’s really inspiring. Intel’s Exploratory Research Projects, NTT DoCoMo’s (the Japanese rock stars of all that is mobile) Mobile Society Research Institute, and Singularity University (to-be-opened in June, sponsored in part by Google, of course), to name a few examples, are all scheming away for the next big breakthrough. Rock stars to be.

I Love My Bike

benefits of a bicycle

(via Something Changed, dearsir, owlsgo)

Hurray for Amsterdam, the city of bikes! Portland is on its way too (apparently). I’ll judge firsthand when I go on a Hip Homespun Bike Tour of Portland next Sunday with a German-speaking tour guide to practice!

The Future is Bright

As I prepared to bike home from work in the rain and bike, I decided to do a little comparison between the weather in Amsterdam…

amsterdam weather

Not exactly summer weather, but not too bad. But the weather in Portland…

portland weather

Looks good. See you Friday then!

So Far

books so far

After buying a new book for my upcoming flight to the other edge of the world, I decided to assess what I have read since the start of the year. Here is a summary of what I’ve gone through and a bit of background on how I came to read it:

Three Cups of Tea
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
My parents came to visit me in the fall and my father arrived with this book in hand. When he finished reading it towards the end of the trip, he gave it to me.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
A Christmas gift that I enjoyed while in Berlin and also the first Coehlo book I have read. It will not be the last.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
I read this back in 2006, but left my copy somewhere in Cambodia. Christopher was even more inspiring the second time around.

Sister of My Heart
by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
I found this book among a pile of freebies on the landing of my old apartment last summer. It tells the story of two girls in India, growing up and learning that changed relationships can never break a bond.

Everything is Illuminated
by Jonathan Safran Foer
I must admit, I first saw the film. The version I watched, however, didn’t have subtitles, so the parts in Ukranian were lost on me (which ended up being over half the film). So, I read the book then re-watched the film. The book is far superior.

Wonderful Fool by Shusaku Endo
The latest venture in my love for Japanese fiction was also found on the apartment landing. No, that’s wrong. I found it at a used book market at the Dam. Yes, I can see from inside cover that I paid €4,50.

Annette Vallon
by James Tipton
Last summer, the Goethe Institute was under restoration and, apparently, also cleaning out their library. I was biking past and stopped to look at the books displayed on the table. Gratis. I’m not sure what this book about the French Revolution (written in English) was doing there, but I happily took it, intrigued by the quote on the back cover, “Be careful reader: my troubles started because I read novels.”

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
A book lingering from my undergraduate years, complete with five critical essays at the end, which (yes) I did read. A good book for banter in a university classroom, but I mostly enjoyed the essays at the end. A bit of theory that I’ve been starved of since finishing my MA.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
A book I grabbed from the overflowing bookcase of my parents when I was visiting in February. In my haste, I failed to notice that it was the abridged version.

The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

Ha! I posted this entry before I noticed that I forgot to write about this book. Indeed, that’s just about how memorable it is. I think it’s riding on the popularity of The Da Vinci Code (which I haven’t read), or something. A visiting friend decided to leave it with me.

Persuasion by Jane Austen
The last of Miss Austen’s six glorious novels that I had to read. She never fails to impress, please, and challenge. She is undoubtedly one of my favorite writers and I look forward to returning to her beautiful words again.

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
Inspired by his first book, I purchased this at a bookstore. An enjoyable, humorous read. I look forward to his next.

The Red Notebook
by Paul Auster
A collection of short, true stories. Unfathomable coincidences and curious events of happenstance. I have only read Timbuktu prior to this, but there are several more works by Auster waiting on the shelf.