Friday, 28 December 2012

Crazy Crazy

I was already crazy
But you, you drive me crazy crazy
With your ups, your downs, your lefts and rights
It’s never just spot on

It’s a rollercoaster ride
One second flying high
The next everything stands still
But you’re always ready for the kill

It drives me crazy crazy
It makes me bounce around
Wanna send you to outer space
And I, I wanna stay on the ground

You are crazy crazy crazy
And I’m just crazy crazy
I used to be a one, you make me a two
Whenever you’re around
It doubles up, I’m getting like you
It doubles up from straight away crazy
To double crazy: crazy crazy
You drive me crazy crazy
You drive me crazy crazy crazy
Crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy…

Copyrighted. Use only by written permission.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The (digital) right to pretend

‘Let’s throw some sand into the cogs of the machine-readable life and just pretend now and then. Life without creative friction is an ideal of economists, but not a reflection of what makes us well-rounded, curious humans. You have the right to be silly or silent, the right to be inventive, the right to say no to algorithms, and most importantly, the right to be left alone, to have space to think about who matters to you and what not to share.’

from ‘Fake It! — Your Right To Digital Self-Defense

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Erasmus Experience — 25 portraits from 25 years of success

This autumn, I was commissioned by the association ANEFORE, via Luxembourg’s coolest publishing house Maison Moderne, to interview 25 former Erasmus students (well, including a current one and a professor) and write up a short portrait of each of them telling tales of their individual experiences.

Here is the resultdownloadable, free of charge! I hope you will enjoy it …and do contact me if you have writing or editing tasks for me!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Culinary Adventure: Spinach à la Cosovare

This dish is colourful and healthy — and takes only little time to prepare.

serves 2-3 persons
1 onion
4 normal-sized mushrooms
½ kg of fresh spinach (or frozen spinach cubes)
1 medium-sized carrot
1 cup of sweet corn
1 cup of dark rice
2 portions of processed cheese (that soft one that comes in triangles)
2 eggs
150-200 ml of yogurt
Vegeta
olive oil
½ ℓ of water

Finely slice the onion and the mushrooms. Fry them in olive oil for a couple of minutes, until the mushrooms look nicely fried.
Meanwhile, slice the carrot. Add it, along with spinach, corn, and rice. Then add water and Vegeta, according to your taste. Let it all boil at medium heat.
Add the cheese for it to melt in the mixture. When the rice has boiled enough (it is recommended to let it boil more than normal rice in order to give density to the dish), take the dish off the the fire (this whole process will have taken you about 20 minutes).
Finally, mix the eggs and the yoghurt well in a bowl. Add it to the mixture while stirring well and fast enough to avoid the egg-mix forming white clots but blending perfectly with the whole dish.
It is now ready to serve — provided it has a rather dense consistency rather than being too liquid.
Enjoy!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Erasmus As A Gateway To The World

Georges Lemmer, one of the 25 interviewees for the book I was contracted to write — ‘The Erasmus Experience’, presented ten days ago — has put the resulting portrait of himself on his blog and spiced it up with some really nice and artistic photos from his personal Erasmus experience. Have a look!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

« Merci et au revoir. »

Courriel envoyé à la chaîne luxembourgeoise de supermarchés Alima (info@alima.lu)

Madame, Monsieur,

Hier, à 16h13 selon le ticket de caisse, j’ai fait mes achats dans votre magasin près de la Bourse comme je le fais régulièrement. Je suis passé à la caisse 5 (de nouveau selon le ticket de caisse; sur celui-ci aucun nom d’employé n’apparaît). La dame à la caisse ne m’a même pas regardé — pourtant on me dit que je suis pas mal pour mon âge ; mais bon, cela dépend du goût personnel — ni salué. Elle a ignoré mon « bonjour ». Les seules mot qu’elle a prononcés étaient « onze trente », ce qui était le prix total de mes achats (si modeste parce que vos ampoules électriques sont très chères en comparaison avec d’autres magasins). Ce « onze trente » n’était pas accompagné d’un « s’il vous plaît » ; la réception de mon paiement pas suivi d’un « merci » ; et mes organes auditives n’ont pas détecté de « bonne journée » ou même de « au revoir ». Bref, Madame Caisse 5 m’a adressé que le montant.

Si un tel comportement — ou manque de comportement — se reproduit je me réserve le droit de choisir entre deux scénarios : ou bien attendre à la caisse sans payer, sans rien faire, jusqu’à ce que l’employé en question arrive à prononcer les mots si difficiles ; ou alors simplement laisser mes achats (d’habitude beaucoup plus nombreux et encombrants que les « onze trente ») et partir. Après, je vous enverrai bien sûr ma facture pour avoir gaspillé mon temps dans votre magasin.

Comme Alima n’est pas connu pour la politesse de ses employés, je vous suggère de mettre un panneau à chaque caisse, dans les cinq langues du pays, soulignant que vous chargez un supplément de politesse de base de 20 % (minimum 5 €) ; pour une politesse normale de 30 % (minimum 10 €) ; et pour le niveau VIP de 50 % (minimum 25 €). Cela vous permettrait aussi de mesurer si vos clients qui sont, après tout, le gagne-pain des employés aux niveaux inférieures ainsi que supérieures de la hiérarchie, se considèrent comme des VIP ou non.

Pour moi, chaque client devrait l’être.

Pour votre information, cette lettre est aussi publiée sur mon blog public.

Sur ceci, comme dit le ticket de caisse : « Merci et au revoir. » (le nombre de mots et 200 % du nombre de mots de Madame Caisse 5).

Réponse reçue le 22 novembre :
Monsieur,

Nous avons bien pris note de vos remarques et nous nous excusons pour le comportement de la caissière.

Notre souci est de servir nos clients aux mieux dans tous les rayons. Et particulièrement le dernier contact à la caisse qui est très important.

En espérant pouvoir vous servir bientôt dans notre magasin.

Meilleures salutations

Romy Hansen
Gérante

alima 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Highly recommended even if you don’t usually read poetry


A brand new release of an, in publishing terms, debuting young author:

Katie Hall — ‘Scribbling’


Katie Hall’s poems are of the rare kind that pierce right into your soul, leaving a tingling feeling under your skin, matched only by the speechless silence enveloping the roaring storms in your mind. In other words: They touch you. Not as soapy pathos — on contrary, they touch your deepest, poorly-lit spots because they are so real and relevant. No matter if you have lived situations similar to what the poems get into, you feel that you are right there, right in it. You empathise not with ‘the author’ or ‘a narrator’ …but with yourself. What makes Katie Hall’s poetry lie so close to our own struggles and doubts are their way of spinning around the swirl formed by the eternal dilemma between needing and resisting, between shame and desire. Ultimately, between honesty and pretence. To be read one by one, reflected upon, and then re-read. If you are up to it. ‘Cause you will discover sides of yourself that you had forgotten about or stowed away. Now, with Katie Hall, it is time to find it back.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Looking for, er, people

This classified-ad page is from 1968 and was published in the Observer and Gazette.

Notice how distinctly employers advertised for women or men, depending on the nature of the position to be filled. Today this would not only be unthinkable but also illegal. The Kodak advert even clearly lists which vacancies are for women, and which ones are for men.

(Click on the picture to see it in a larger and more readable version.)


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Free

I want to write something
But don’t know what
Don’t I feel anything?
Is nothing the matter?
Have I lost my talent?
Or just my mind?
‘Just’ my mind… ha…
As if that isn’t a big thing
Anymore
Furthermore
That’s all that’s left to lose
Everything else is gone
Squeezed like a cola can
And thrown away
Into a bigger can
Too much trash
Too little meaning
Now that I’ve trashed it all
There’s no meaning left at all
No mind
Except for one going mad
Slightly
Slowly
But surely
That’s all there is to write about
A mind that was
Am I out of it?
Out of my mind?
Or of everything?
I feel like I’m here
And yet only exist
Nothing more
Not alive
Even less dead
Just existing
Here
But not really now
Only the day after tomorrow
So what I gotta fill in
Are these lines
And tomorrow
And today
Now
Here
Where I am
After all
Here with me
With my words
That I didn’t find
Until now
Here
Where were they?
Where was I?
Where is my mind?
Was I with it?
Was it with me?
Is it with me?
Now?
Here?
Are you?
Are we?
Where — I don’t see you
I don’t see us
I only see me
Part of me
My fingers
Moving on the keyboard
Expressing what I thought
Was an empty mind
Empty thoughts
On an empty screen
Not anymore
Now it’s full
Of thoughts
But where are the emotions?
What is the matter?
Apart from dark
Intangible
Lost
Or never existing
At least not now
At least not here

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

Monday, 4 June 2012

Vulnerability Is The Way

‘[R]eal freedom requires that one exercise vulnerability rather than invulnerability. If freedom is the ability to live out the full potential of one’s possibilities and if the measure of one’s life is the intimacy, range and diversity of one’s relationships, then the more vulnerable one is, the more open he or she will be to creating meaningful and intimate relationships with others.’

‘Awareness of our common vulnerability and mortality is the essential foundation for empathizing with our fellow beings.’

Jeremy Rifkin
in ‘The Empathic Civilization — The Race To Global Consciousness In A World In Crisis’
(pp 157 and 236)

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Powerful scribblings

Some of my favorite Katie Hall poems from her recently released debut collection, Scribbling.

Rules
I am tired of rules!!!
Rules on how to behave,
rules on why to behave,
and when to behave.
Rules on how to think
and even not.
Rules on how to kill my time
because pleasure is a commodity I can't afford.
Rules on how to love,
and how to not,
Rules on who to love,
and who to not...
Constrictions anywhere and everywhere
I turn my look around,
hoping to see at least a face
that doesn't say: NO or Not, or Don't,
but Yes, and Go and Do...
But my look encounters no expression
of making me want to let go of me,
out of these chains of morality.
So I look down, with a grey look
and a torn heart, and a burning tear
for being so misunderstood...

Trinity
(extract)
I wonder what happens to those who meditate and search for the illumination. They empty their minds into the point of filling Mind with... I wonder what can fill a Mind other than thoughts, free and oppressed, open and suppressed, optimistic or pessimistic... And how can you fill an already filled cup or empty an always filling one when you stand under the source and your cup never gets reversed? Which is the appearance of Illumination? It means lighting, bring light forth, take light in, but I wonder whether Light needs emptiness or presence to shine upon.

Hanging...
I haven't seen myself in the mirror lately,
You saying that I am Beautiful, was enough.
I haven't used the comb for my hair,
thinking the glide of your fingers through them,
would give me the style I couldn't do myself.
I forgot to think about me,
because all I can think of, is us.
I left my body untouched,
waiting for a touch of yours...
I have left so many things undone,
so many words untold,
so many thoughts enclosed,
Waiting for the day...

Perseverance
Stay under the rain of my emotions
and feel them as they fall down on you,
in a frenzy of winter cold
to warm you up
as you hold on to your own world
filled with insecurities and quests,
passions and regrets.
Are you really so restless?
Are you really so empty as to not see
the horizons opening  in front of you?
Stay under my rain of emotions,
don't take shelter or hide, just let go,
and feel your deliverance as it comes...

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Because Man

I’m the Because Man
Because, man
That’s who I am
Man
And because
That’s
How I am
‘Cause that’s who I am
And who am I
Because I don’t know
What it is
That I cause
Woman…

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

Monday, 28 May 2012

Lost

A pain
A pain that stings
A pain that eats
A pain that treats
Me like someone
Who’s already lost

An ache
An ache that points
An ache that pushes
An ache that pulls
Out every strength of me
I’ve already lost

A heart
A heart that freezes
A heart that heats
A heart that beats
For someone else
Than just me

A mind
A mind that tries
A mind that creates
A mind that debates
With me like
I have nothing to say

A soul
A soul in rain
A soul in pain
A soul in vain
In me

©2012

Friday, 25 May 2012

Pandora’s Absence

A zero next to my Inbox
A blank window in Compose Mail
No content, no sound
No words, no life
Just blank and white
Where it’s usually black and white
And orange and purple and red and green
And anger and blabber and rage and grin
My box is clean
Unlike my sheet
My heart is full
Just like my head
And when I turn to you and say
Baby won’t you make my day
With stings of poison, stings of fun
Slaps in the face, and then a song
Some nonsense and some sense
Superfluous banter
Wise observations
Fun and puns
Smacks on backs
Waving of flags
In colour
In black and white
Whatever
As long
As this zero
Becomes one

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

Thursday, 24 May 2012

French Guyana

And with that
I shall return
Or rather get going
Or actually
Start
Exploring
French Guyana
(You know what I mean)
The country is out there
Right here
On the Net
On my lap
(On top of it)
Now I just need
To get on top of it
All

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

Jollygirl

Joll joll jollygirl
Jolly up again
All the way up
It's not so far
Just jolly up again

When you’ve jollied down
You know where you came from
It’s right up there
It’s just up there
So turn around, de-frown

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

Almost Carefully

Today I was almost careful
I nearly did something with care
I was about to handle
With care
But then didn’t
‘Cause I thought
Well, I almost thought
That I almost cared
But then realised
That I didn’t
Almost didn’t

What I at least did
And not just almost
Was bring a smile
To somebody’s face
A full smile
In the very middle
Of his almost shaven
And rather stupid
Face

Yes I did

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

Friday, 18 May 2012

Back Up

If you’re down
On the ground
Then get up
If not on your feet
At first
Then at least
On your knees
Soon it will hurt
So you can choose
To get down again
On the ground
Or get up
Further up
On your feet
And stand.
Too tired
To choose?
Then follow
My command:
Stand!

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Praise from Luxembourg’s toughest theatre critic

Luxembourg’s 10-minute-play festival review
At the Kinneksbond cultural centre in Mamer
For the second Luxembourg ten-minute-play festival this week at the Kinneksbond cultural centre in Mamer, the requirement that plays be written by local playwrights was dropped and entries invited from various parts of the world.

Of the eleven short plays on view therefore only three were by local writers. But if the change was due to uncertainty about local talents, those three demonstrated caution was maybe not necessary since they stood up well against the foreign competition.

In fact, easily the most successful in terms of audience response was the home grown “A Star to Steer Her By”, a vehicle both literally and metaphorically written and also directed by Erik Abbott and brilliantly played by Adrian Diffey, Chris Wilson, he at the steering wheel, determined to follow his own route, she in the passenger seat, initially querulous, later resigned, and by Andrew Stewart as an ever more frustrated satnav device.

Erik’s direction was lightly controlled, which was all that was needed given both the playing and his own script, but the pauses between the promptly ignored satnav instructions were perfectly timed. And just as it seemed the joke might wear out, yet another twist came along – as when the satnav, following a near upset, suddenly switches to German adding a dose of nationalism to the struggle between machine and self-willed – and eventually successful – man.

And the names of the villages on the route grew ever longer and more improbably rustic – I could hardly stop laughing, which is why I am sadly unable to quote you any of them.

Of the other two local ingredients, Celeste Koehler, whose Goodbye Avis was the best entry in the 2009 festival, came up with A Recipe to Remember, a successful sad but sweet depiction of two sisters charged with looking after their Alzheimer’s victim mother. The trap here would have been to make the piece too long or too maudlin or too banal, but the trap was avoided, both by the writer and the director (Bjørn Clausen, better known hereabouts as an actor).

All three parts were played by members of the Milne family, sisters Carolyn and Jacqueline as the two sisters, and mother Angela as the mother. Carolyn and Jacqueline were both convincing, describing both their problems with their mother, and their memories of happier times, but Angela rather stole the piece, sitting at a table mindlessly shuffling and stamping papers, until right at the end when some home made apple sauce triggers off a flash of memory or at least habit and she speaks for the first and only time.

The third local piece was an interesting offering from Barbara Hall, also better known as an actress, the enigmatic InterNed (sic), directed by Fran Potasnik. Ned (Adrian Diffey) sits in what seems to be a cell, with one door and a window, and the piece is one long soliloquy, which he and the director manage to hold your interest in. The text itself refers to The Dumb Waiter and Godot, more than hinting that surface appearances may not be as they seem.

What they seem to be is a prisoner in a cell (alone but remembering there having been a companion) fed occasionally from a trolley pushed through the door, and continually viewing from a small window a scene in which a car coming up to a colour changing traffic light either kills or does not kill – we don’t know, neither does Ned – a child. Eventually Ned finds the door open, and passes on through.

After theatre discussions showed how many different meanings might be assignable to the piece. Initially I went myself for a link to Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real, with Ned awaiting release from suffering, as Williams’ characters await their rescuing aircraft. Then I thought maybe Ned was the driver of a car that did so kill a boy, and now relives continually that experience. And then – but to each his own.

It seems to me that this short format, no matter how many minutes, favours raising questions more than answering them. InterNed does that in spades.

So perhaps at first sight does Pipedreams, directed by Timothy Lone and written by Sarah van Parys, Dutch but currently studying drama in Liverpool. Unlike InterNed however, there is no outer meaning here that makes sense even without interpretation. Nothing happens in InterNed that couldn’t happen in real life, whereas Pipedreams takes Pirandelloesque swipes at reality, with a narrator (Chris Albrecht) rearranging events at will in an attempt to make the lead female (Valerie Scott) find at least temporary happiness, though all he does is strengthen the unhappiness that has her apathetically sitting on her sofa.

Debt collectors pile up, each demanding payment at 5 pm; happily rollicking mourners strew flowers from the funeral of her husband, due to die the following week: and so on. A happy ending, gloomily predicts the narrator periodically, is impossible. Which may be the message of the play, if an unduly pessimistic one, though if we aren’t in Pirandello land we are well into Ionesco territory, where questions are not meant to be answered, or even asked.

The meaning of the play is not necessarily a more acceptable question than the meaning of life.

Literary links came to mind also with The Sum of Your Experience, in which a mugger (John Brigg) holds up a stranger (Victor Bonanno) to steal, not his money, but his dreams. Someone who lives on sucking out the memories and stories of passing strangers sounds like a Ray Bradbury character (though I don’t think he ever used the concept). Directed by Chris Wilson and written by American Trace Crawford the play narrowly escaped being too long, and was somewhat spoilt by an overloud, and, as far as one could tell, irrelevant foghorn effect, presumably to underline significant moments in the development, though the particular significance of each moment escaped me.

That apart the concept was interesting and the climax as the victim, shorn of his memories, stares at the gun the thief had given him in return, excellent, as was the pace with which the emotional tension built up, and the unobtrusive but effective movement around the stage, for which director and actors all deserve congratulation.

Airports and current conditions in them, at least in the US, though infection is threatened elsewhere, provided a backing for two pieces, a opening scene set in a busy lounge with pretty well everyone connected with the festival on stage as passengers baffled by impossible to follow announcements on the PA system; and an encounter of one passenger (Andrew Stewart) with two female security guards (Louisa Graf and Betsy Adams).

The first, with no text credited but concept and direction credited to Deborah Anderson, the co-ordinating director of the evening as a whole, named simply AIRPORT got the evening off to a cheerful start, and the second Cavity Search, by the experienced American playwright Brett Hursey, and also directed by Deborah Anderson, was well acted and directed, but the simple joke ran on far too long. Another sufferer probably from taking the ten-minute tag too seriously.

In contrast, the tiny sentimental if oddly named GRTC-Metropolitan Rapid Transit, by Irene Ziegler, another experienced American, directed by Timothy Lone, ran for under five minutes and was perfectly tailored to that time. A small girl (Dana Smits) on a bus reaches the terminus, sits there waiting to return, tells the driver (Karl Pierce) and one passenger (Marie-Paule Brimeyer) she is not lost, and explains she rides so she can hear her mother’s voice on the PA system. When the bus starts off again, her mother’s voice comes on.

Simple, short, unaffected, all that one needs, and all that one gets. Why she has to ride the bus to hear her mother, we don’t know. We don’t even know if she has to ride the bus. And it doesn’t really matter.

A fantastic miniature.

30-Love, by Terry McFadden, a Hollywood writer, and directed by Deborah Anderson, could have done with a better title. The theme is OK – the divorce negotiations between a husband and wife as to who gets how much are initially symbolised by them playing tennis and changing the score board presumably in theory as each scores points. But the board quickly goes to 15-0 then 30-0 as the husband gets two concessions – and there it sticks, never referred to again or changed in the entire course of the play, although of course the audience is waiting for something to happen with it.

In the negotiations the two finally settle, with a serious hint that they may resume relations. So the hanging 30-0 scoreboard makes no sense. ‘Deuce’ would seem to be called for, but then I assume the title would have to change.

It’s sad because apart from that the piece is well directed and acted (by Karl Pierce and Fran Potasnik).

The two remaining plays rather got away from me. The Circle of Life Can Make One Dizzy was a David Ives–like piece by Canadian Len Cuthbert and directed by Chris Wilson, concerning a married couple (Victor Bonanno and Elaine Falzon) who can get together for only ten minutes a week, given their work timetables – he is an airline pilot, she a Broadway actress. He suggests it’s time they started a family, she explains how that is impossible.

I can see no reason that justifies going on for ten minutes nor why it has any serious interest apart from its implausibility. Or that it would do even if I could have understood all that the wife was saying.

Finally there was American James McLinden’s Deer, apparently an examination of teenage angst and family relationships as displayed by a family of deer (Louisa Graf, Lena Hoss, Valerie Scott and Noa Smits) wearing variable sized crowns of antlers but otherwise undistinguishable. Despite the normal talents of director Erik Abbott, they seemed to move randomly across, and on and off stage, but anyway since I couldn’t understand what the young deer was saying to the elder ones, or tell the difference beween them apart from the familiar figure of Valerie Scott, I don’t really know how random they were.

But that was exceptional. The whole evening was a distinct advance from the original festival, and presumably bodes well for the future.

Even though I will continue to grumble about the use of the term ‘ten-minute’ play.

By Graham Cleverley

on Wort.lu, 12 May 2012

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Online

I seem to not be able to express anything recently. Or at least face to face and eye to eye. I am all the time online. In my bed online, in the coffee store online, with my friends online, with my family online, with my work online, in my feelings online, I'm having a degree online, I even have sex online. Is this the new trend where our world is heading to, or is it just me? Trying to avoid the reality by being online. It even hurts online, you know?

It hurts because there is no contact which may open your eyes and your heart, or make you slap the face of a person because you feel so damn raging today. And when you can't do this, you keep suppressing your feelings into a pit-hole inside your soul, because it is too fucking difficult to communicate recently.

Communicate...is there a word such as commuticate? Not the word deriving from "commute", but the word formed by "to be mute together - co-mute"... This is no communication. And yet we, the world in its entirety, brags that we have reached the peak of Communication efficiency. Communication my ass! This is not communication. People are forgetting to express their feelings due to this technological development. We more and more hide behind the curtains of our screens, putting curtains to our heart and soul.

We bring people closer, but in the meantime, we drift each-other's emotions into God forgotten edges of humanity.

I write " I love you", but there is no tone of voice, no trembling emotions, no sweaty palms, no rising heartbeats, no fear of reply, or the thrill of watching his emotions live as he might/might not, say that back, one fold, or one hundred fold, or not at all. There is only a white blank line in the "reply" or "inbox", to which your eyes constantly look for an answer, which may never come. Or if it comes, it comes with the same bloody coldness you have written it. With a big lie, a big fat human lie to make us feel as if there is any emotion out there, because hey, we communicate.

And so, we lie because we are online, but never "inline". We fall in love or out of love, we hate and create, we even establish in this virtual reality, without really touching anything. It is so amazing, and yet so sad. To lock yourself inside four walls, wherever, in your house or office, in a bar or else, and instead of living by the moments life serves you, you live by the moments you write and read in a virtual space, which is only that, a surreal reality served to us by a fistful of photons travelling through the ether around the world in fractions of seconds.

Yes, we are closer. We come under each-other's clothes, we lie in the same bed, we stretch our hand in front of the screen to cuddle a loving face, and our world shines because of these glimpses.

But what happens when the screen is turned off?

I live my life, you live yours, and so do they, because one cannot be stupid enough as to feed him/herself with photons and bytes which turn to images or letters. And surely not stupid enough as to feel a touch that isn't there, want a kiss that isn't given, feel the heat when there is none, and more overly, TRUST what is being written.

Are we then, losers or winners in this world of global communication? Information speed is almost dazzling, but do we also convey emotions and feelings?

Are we soon to head in a world of senseless emotions where feelings will be triggered by "you've got mail" alerts and not by the bell ringing in your door to bring the ones you love most inside your world, in your embrace and into you, and where a look in the eye, a wave of the hand, a touch of the hair, a kiss on the neck and slide of fingers upon naked skin would give rise to a hormonal clash within your body, to make you want to make love, be a better person, be responsive to all outer signals, and most importantly, BE THERE for real and not live in cyberspaces designated to speed up connections, improve communication and inform the world in a hasty paste.

Or are we rather eager to living in some fantastic computer wallpapers rather than exploring the world like a Phileas Fogg of modern times? All it takes is a click... SHUT DOWN!!!...

And you get back "inline" and not online.

by Katie Hall — the text is yet to be published in print

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

"Plastik"tüten aus Naturmaterial im Recycling-Center abgelehnt

Brief an Naturata:

Hallo Naturata-Freunde

Seit Langem bin ich Naturata-Kunde und seit der Einführung von den biologisch abbaubaren Tüten für Frucht und Gemüse werfe ich diese in den Containern für Gartenabfälle.

Heute morgen wurde ich dabei zum ersten Mal "erfasst", und ich hatte Schwierigkeiten, den Mitarbeiter der "Centre de Recyclage" verständlich zu machen, dass es sich bei den Tüten tatsächlich um abbaubares Bio-Material handelte, und natürlich kein Plastik war, das ich da im Gartenabfallcontainer reingeworfen hatte.

Vielleicht wäre es sinnvoll, wenn Sie sich an der "Service d'hygiène" (in Luxemburg Stadt: hygiene@vdl.lu) wenden um denen die Tüte zu präsentieren, damit sie es den Mitarbeitern weitersagen können, dass sie (die Tüten, nicht die Mitarabeiter) in den Gartenabfallcontainern gehören :)

Im Voraus besten Dank!
MfG Bjørn Clasen, Rollengergronn


Antwort:

Sehr geehrter Herr Bjørn Clasen,

besten Dank für ihre Anfrage.  Wir möchten Ihnen zu unserer durchsichtigen biologisch, abbaubaren, kompostierbaren Tüte aus Maisstärke ohne OGM folgendes mitteilen.
Diese Tüte ist für uns die zur Zeit unseres Wissens nach beste Alternative, die wir finden konnten und daher auch an dem „Keimling-Logo“ zu erkennen.

1)    Wir sind davon ausgegangen, dass diese kompostierbare Tüte auch für Biogasanlagen kein Problem darstellt. Dem ist aber anscheinend nicht so. Nach einem Telefonat mit dem Service d’Hygiène von der Stadt Luxemburg wurden wir eines Besseren belehrt. Die Tüte sei dafür nicht geeignet, da die Vergärung viel schneller abläuft als eine Verrottung oder Kompostierung. Das Resultat sei, dass die Arbeiter der Biogasanlage immer wieder die Tüten aus dem Fermenter herausfischen müssen.

2)    Dass nun aber bei Gartenabfall, der meines Wissens ja kompostiert wird, dies auch der Fall ist, davon habe ich aber zur Zeit noch nichts gehört. Wir haben Kontakt mit dem Service d’Hygiène aufgenommen. Es ist so, dass in die Gartenabfallcontainer nur Grünschnitt, Holzschnitt, Rasenschnitt reingehört. Dies alles wird dann kompostiert. Da ja unsere Tüten auch kompostiert wird meinte ich , dass das doch möglich sein sollte. Mir wurde dann gesagt,“ …war die kompostierbare Tüte leer oder mit Lebensmittelresten gefüllt, mit Lebensmittelresten geht ja auch nicht…“.
Hier kann es aber auch sein, dass die benutzte Technik dem Stand der Weiterentwicklung von unseren Tüten nicht standhält. „Jede Kompostanlage muss professionell betrieben werden und dazu gehört es auch, sich mit der Kompostierbarkeit von Materialien auseinandersetzen, denen im Verpackungsbereich die Zukunft gehört. Unsere Tasche kompostiert innerhalb von 2 bis 3 Wochen in industriellen Kompostanlagen CO2 –neutral.  In Österreich werden viele Millionen Bioabfallbeutel pro Jahr aus demselben Material wie Ihre Taschen eingesetzt, ohne dass es zu Problemen kommt „ so der Hersteller unserer Tüte.

3)    Als Lösung bliebe zur Zeit da nur die schwarze Tonne für den normalen Hausmüll.

Als Fazit muss hier leider gesagt werden, dass die Abfallwirtschaft hier noch Nachbesserungspotential hat. Wir von NATURATA lassen das natürlich nicht auf uns beruhen, sondern wir werden einen Brief diesbezüglich an die Gemeinde Luxemburg schreiben.

Entschuldigung, dass ich Ihnen keine bessere Lösung anbieten konnte.

Mit besten Grüßen

Roland Majerus
NATURATA SA
adm.délégué

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Åbenbart ikke særlig

Denne “gåde” optræder i en annonce på eb.dk i dag.


Dem, der har lavet opgaven lader til ikke selv at være for kloge.

I hvert fald stemmer ingen af svarmulighederne.

Jeg kan se 30 kvadrater. Plus måske rammen?

Jeg har ikke målt efter.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Final Challenge!

Did you find out? Actually, it wasn’t that difficult after all …once you got on the right path. Here’s what I have come up with — tell me if you have the same, or another answer, by commenting on the post.

If the prisoner wants to know whether Room VIII is empty or not, the answer he gets must be crucial to solve the whole puzzle. So let’s take that room as our point of departure.

We know already that Room VIII cannot contain a woman, as its sign says it hosts a tiger, and the sign on the woman’s door is correct. Leaves us with two possibilities: Room VIII is either empty or hosts a tiger.

It will not help us much to assume it is empty. Then its sign can be either true or false. So let’s assume there is actually a tiger in Room VIII. This means the sign is not correct. The sign gives two statements, with an ‘and’ in between. If one or both statements are false, the sign is false, as it should be if there is indeed a tiger behind the door. The first statement ‘this room hosts a tiger’ is true (so we assume for now) — ergo, the second ‘Room IX is empty’ must be false for the sign to be false.

So Room IX is not empty. It contains either a woman or a tiger. Again, its sign gives two statements linked by an ‘and’. The first statement says the room contains a tiger. If there is a woman in it, the sign must tell the truth, which it then can’t as it talks about that tiger. So… it does contain a tiger. And, as with Room VIII, the second statement must be false in order for the sign to be false. The sign on Room VI therefore tells the truth (because the sign on Room IX, lying, says that it doesn’t). Let’s keep in mind (write down) that Room VI either hosts a woman or is empty.

The sign on Room VI says that the sign on Room III is false. This one gives two statements, this time linked by an ‘or’, meaning that both statements must be incorrect in order for the sign as a whole to be false. To take the second statement first (you’ll see in a second that in this case, that’s easier, in order to keep some sort of overview): ‘sign VII is lying’ …so sign VII must be true, and sign VII says the woman is not in Room I. Now that is good to know, let’s write it down too.

…and continue with the first of the two statements on Room III, which is also false (see the paragraph just above): ‘sign V tells the truth’. So it does not. Sign V is yet another two statements linked by an ‘or’. They are both false, according to the logic explained just before. For one, this means that Room II is indeed empty, as its sign states. OK. It also means that sign IV is lying.

Sign IV says that sign I is incorrect. So it is correct …that ‘the woman is in a room with an uneven number’. We know from two paragraphs further up that she is not in Room I. We also know that she is not in Room III as its sign is false. Same goes for Room V (go up just one paragraph from here), and for Room IX (go up three paragraphs from here).

Leaves us with one room carrying an uneven number: Room VII. A quick check: The sign on this room must tell the truth if the woman is indeed behind the door. It says that the woman is not in Room I. Indeed, as she cannot be in two rooms.

One doubt remains though! The premise for this string of logic was that Room VIII is not empty. But what if it is, what if that’s the answer the king gave the prisoner? Can he use that answer to follow a different logic and reach the solution in a different way, or even reach a different solution?

I would like to have your answers to this! Comment below if you have it!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Final Challenge!

Now we’re finally talking! This seventh and last and ultimate logical challenge should be able to keep your brain cells busy for a little while. Read on.

‘It’s terrible!’, said the king. ‘I cannot seem to make the challenges difficult enough to have even one of those damn prisoners eaten! I will give it one more chance, one last challenge, which requires the prisoner to really exercise his thinking!’
The minister, as usual, agreed.

And the king was not exaggerating. The seventh prisoner was not given two, nor three doors to choose from — but no less than nine! The king told him that only one of the rooms hosted a woman. Each of the others might be empty …or host a hungry tiger.

He also said to the prisoner that the sign on the door hiding the woman would be true, those on the doors (if any) hiding a tiger would be lying, and those (if any) leading to an empty room could be either true or false.

Here is what the signs said:
ROOM I: THE WOMAN IS IN A ROOM WITH AN UNEVEN NUMBER
ROOM II: THIS ROOM IS EMPTY
ROOM III: EITHER SIGN V TELLS THE TRUTH, OR SIGN VII IS LYING
ROOM IV: SIGN I IS LYING
ROOM V: SIGN II IS LYING OR SIGN IV TELLS THE TRUTH
ROOM VI: SIGN III IS LYING
ROOM VII: THE WOMAN IS NOT IN ROOM I
ROOM VIII: THIS ROOM HOSTS A TIGER, AND ROOM IX IS EMPTY
ROOM IX: THIS ROOM HOSTS A TIGER, AND SIGN VI IS LYING
The prisoner looked at the doors, read the signs, and reflected for a long time. He then said, angrily: ‘This challenge cannot be logically solved! That is not fair!’
‘Yes, I know!’, replied the king, laughing.
‘Easy for you to laugh’, said the prisoner and added: ‘At least give me one hint: Is Room VIII empty or not?’
The king was a fair person, and, impressed by the prisoner’s clear-mindedness, he did tell him whether Room VIII was empty or not.
When the prisoner had this answer, he also knew, after quite a bit more thinking, where the woman was hiding.
Which room did he choose?
Take a deep breath, and probably pen and paper, and a bit of time and peace. And do post your answer and how you reached your conclusion. ‘Cause I don’t have the solution anymore…
I hope you have enjoyed these two weeks of logical challenges. And may you find your woman too, or your tiger.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Sixth Challenge

A bit more tricky, or at least time-consuming, yesterday’s challenge, wasn’t it?

The solution is that the woman is in Room I and the tiger in Room II. This is the only combination that fits with the signs on the doors and the conditions given as to whether they tell the truth or not.

But let’s look at the different possibilities in detail anyway.

If the woman is in Room I, that sign tells the truth, meaning that Room III is empty. The tiger must thus be in Room II, which fits with the sign on that door telling a lie.

This already rules out the second of second possibility, which would be a woman in Room I, an empty Room II, and a tiger in Room III — ‘cause then the sign on Room I would lie and cannot contain the woman.

If the tiger is in Room I, this sign is lying, meaning that the woman would be in Room III. She cannot be, as the sign on her door must tell the truth. (And, just for the thought experiment, if instead Room III is empty, the sign on the tiger’s door would not be lying as it is supposed to.)

Leaves us two theoretical possibilities, both implying that Room I is empty. As the sign on the empty room can both tell the truth or a lie, we have to move on to assumptions about who or what is in Room II. If it’s the woman, the sign on her room tells the truth …but it doesn’t, as Room I cannot both be empty and contain the tiger.

If instead the tiger is in Room II, it fits that that sign is lying. It leaves Room III for the woman …but that sign says the room is empty, which is a lie.

Therefore, the only valid possibility is the first one: Woman in I, tiger in II, and Room III is empty. The sixth prisoner can walk away a happy man with his new bride!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Sixth Challenge

Pretty cool solution yesterday, wasn’t it? Though still not that difficult. Hang on for the last two challenges as this is where the real fun begins.

The king told the sixth prisoner that one of the three rooms would host a woman, another one a tiger, and the last one would be empty. He also explained that the sign to the door hiding a woman would be correct, the one hiding a tiger would lie, and the one to the empty room could be either lying or telling the truth.

Here is what the signs read:
ROOM I: ROOM III IS EMPTY
ROOM II: THE TIGER IS IN ROOM I
ROOM III: THIS ROOM IS EMPTY
The prisoner happened to know the woman who was behind one of the three doors, and he was eager to marry her. So even though it would be better to open the door to the empty room than the one hiding the hungry tiger, he clearly preferred to find the woman behind the door.

Can you figure out where the woman is, and where the tiger is?

This is the before-last challenge. Its solution will be published here tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow follows the seventh, last and ultimate challenge …to which I do not have the solution! Can you help?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Fifth Challenge

One or none of the three signs tell the truth. Let’s assume that the one on Room I does tell the truth. That would mean there is a tiger in that room. It would also mean that the two other signs are both lying. For Room II that could fit, as it would hide a tiger. However, that would make the sign on Room III correct — so we can rule out that possibility.

So how about the sign on Room II… if it tells the truth, the two other signs do not… but the one on Room I should then contain a woman. As there is a woman in only one of the rooms, this possibility can be discarded as well.

Maybe the sign on Room III is correct, making the two others lie. That would mean there is a woman in Room I, a tiger in Room II, and as the signs do not give any indications of what is behind the third door, there could be a tiger. In other words, this could be a possibility.

Still, let’s check if all three signs are lying: Woman in Room I, tiger in Room II… but then the sign on Room III is not lying. So that one’s out as well.

The prisoner should open the door to Room I this time!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Fifth Challenge

‘Dammit!’, the king was in a rage, ‘Both prisoners chose the right door again. I have to make it more difficult, for my own and for my people’s entertainment. I will add one more room, place a tiger in two of them, and a woman in the last one. Let’s see how the prisoners will handle that challenge!’ he said.
‘What a superb idea!’ said the minister.

The three signs read:
ROOM I: THERE IS A TIGER IN THIS ROOM
ROOM II: THERE IS A WOMAN IN THIS ROOM
ROOM III: THERE IS A TIGER IN ROOM II
The king told that day’s prisoner that no more than one of the signs was correct.

Where was the woman?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Fourth Challenge

So how was yesterday’s logical exercise? Still too easy? Let’s crank it up a notch then. That’s what our friend the king did. But that’s for tomorrow. Let’s first look at the (best) answer to yesterday’s challenge.

If the sign on the door to Room I tells the truth, there would be a woman in both rooms. That, however, is impossible, as Room II would have to contain a tiger to tell the truth.

Therefore, the sign on Room I must be lying. There is thus a tiger behind it. And it does matter which door you choose — ergo there must be a woman in the other room, Room II. Also, it then fits that the sign on this door is lying too.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Fourth Challenge

This challenge was a favourite of the king’s.

The signs on the doors for the second prisoner to choose between read:
ROOM I: IT WON’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHICH DOOR YOU CHOOSE
ROOM II: THERE IS A WOMAN IN THE OTHER ROOM
Remember that if there was a woman behind door #1, the sign on the door told the truth — but if there was a tiger behind it, the sign told a lie. As for the sign on door #2, it was the opposite: If there was a woman behind it, the sign would be false, and if there was a tiger behind it, the sign would be true.

Also remember that both rooms might contain a woman, or both a tiger, or of course there might be a woman in one room and a tiger in the other.

What would you choose, if you were in this prisoner’s shoes?

Monday, 13 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Third Challenge

The prisoner got it right this time as well, even though the challenge had become a little trickier. This was the logic that made him make the right choice:

As the two signs say exactly the same thing, they are either both true or both false. This means there must be a woman in one of the rooms and a tiger in the other — according to the instruction given by the king for this day’s two challenges.

If there is a woman in Room I, its sign tells the truth. If the sign tells the truth, there is also a woman in Room II. And if there is a woman in Room II, the sign on its door tells a lie. So that is not possible.

Ergo, Room I must contain a tiger. This fits with the sign on its door telling a lie. Also, as there must be a woman in Room II, it fits that that sign tells the truth.

So Room II it is! But what about the next prisoner’s challenge? It’s one of the king’s favourite challenges, so check it out. Tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Third Challenge

‘The first two days of my new scheme have been a fiasco!’, the king said to his minister. ‘Both prisoners solved the logical problem I had set up for them. I will make the challenges more difficult!’
‘Splendid idea!’, said the minister.

On this day, as it was a public holiday, two prisoners had to face the challenge. They were both given the instruction that if there was a woman behind door #1, the sign on the door told the truth — but if there was a tiger behind it, the sign told a lie. As for the sign on door #2, it was the opposite: If there was a woman behind it, the sign would be false, and if there was a tiger behind it, the sign would be true.

There was still the possibility that both rooms could contain a woman, or both a tiger, or of course there might be a woman in one of the rooms and a tiger in the other.

The first prisoner was shown two doors with the following signs:
ROOM I: THERE IS A WOMAN IN BOTH ROOMS
ROOM II: THERE IS A WOMAN IN BOTH ROOMS

So which door should the prisoner choose?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Second Challenge

Got yesterday’s challenge? Got it solved?
Well, it wasn’t very difficult, was it?

Here’s the solution:

Since either both signs tell the truth or both tell a lie, it means that if the sign on Room I is true, the one on Room II is true as well. Therefore, there must be a tiger in Room I and a woman in Room II.

It is not possible that both signs tell a lie. That would imply, according to sign #1, that there is no woman, only tigers — and as sign #2 says there is a tiger, this one cannot be lying as well.

Hence, both signs tell the truth, and the prisoner will find his bride behind the door to Room II.

Tomorrow we’ll be back with a bit more of a challenge. Do check it out, it’s fun!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Second Challenge

So the first prisoner who was subject to the eccentric king’s new scheme not only saved his life but could even leave the arena with a lovely wife.

The king now changed the signs on the two doors and chose new tennants for the rooms behind them. The signs now read:
ROOM I: THERE IS A WOMAN IN AT LEAST ONE OF THE ROOMS
ROOM II: THERE IS A TIGER IN THE OTHER ROOM
‘Are the signs telling the truth?’, asked this second day’s prisoner.
‘Either they are both true or they both tell a lie’, was the king’s reply.

Which room should the prisoner pick?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to First Challenge

Let us assume that the sign on the door to Room I tells the truth. This would mean that there is a woman in that room, and a tiger in Room II.

It would also mean that the sign on the door to Room II tells a lie. This cannot be the case, as it says that there is a woman in one room and a tiger in the other.

Therefore, the sign on Room II must be true: There is indeed a woman behind one door, and a tiger behind the other.

As there is a true and a false sign, the sign on Room I must be the false one. In other words, Room I contains the tiger, and Room II the woman. The prisoner, unless he is tired of life, should choose door #2.

Easy no? Tomorrow’s challenge will be slightly less straight-forward. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The First Challenge

The day came when the king started his new experiment for punishing — or rewarding — his prisoners. The king explained to the chosen prisoner that each of the two rooms could contain either a woman or a tiger …but that there might be a tiger in both rooms, or a woman in both rooms.

‘What if there is a tiger in both rooms?’, the prisoner asked.
‘Well, then you are just unlucky’, was the king’s reply.
‘And if there is a woman in both rooms?’, asked the prisoner.
‘Then… you’re just lucky!’, replied the king, ‘Stupid question, isn't it?’
‘OK, but let's assume then that there is a woman in one of the rooms and a tiger in the other. What will happen then?’, the prisoner continued.
‘In that case it is for you to pick the right one, simple as that!’
‘But… how can I know which door to pick?’
The king then pointed at the signs he had put on the doors to the two rooms:
ROOM I: THIS ROOM CONTAINS A WOMAN, AND THE OTHER ONE CONTAINS A TIGER
ROOM II: ONE OF THESE ROOMS CONTAINS A WOMAN, AND ONE OF THEM A TIGER
‘Is it true what the signs say’, the prisoner now asked.
‘One of them tells the truth. But the other one tells a lie’, was the king’s answer.

If you were the prisoner, which door would you choose (provided that you prefer to meet the woman rather than the tiger…)?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Introduction

Over the next two weeks, I will post seven fun and increasingly complicated mathematical exercises. But hey, read on! I said they were fun! The seven exercises are part of the same story. Each other day I will give you one challenge to think about and solve, and each other day you will get the solution …except on the last day, as I actually no longer have the answer to that last and most complex challenge. So stay tuned! :)

You may know the short story ‘The Lady, Or The Tiger?’ by Frank R. Stockton. It tells how a prisoner is forced to choose between two doors — one room contains a lady, and the other one a tiger. If he chooses the former, he will marry the lady, but if he chooses the latter, he will probably end up as lunch.

A king had read the story, and it gave him an idea. ‘This is exactly how I should like to treat my own prisoners,’ he said to his minister, ‘but I will not leave things to blind chance. I will put a sign on each door, and in each case I will tell the prisoner something about these signs. If the prisoner is smart and knows how to think logically, he will save his life, and will even win himself a beautiful bride.’

‘What a brilliant idea, your highness,’ said the minister.

Does this intrigue you? If yes, check out my blog tomorrow for the first challenge. We will start very lightly and build up from there…

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Why is the protection of fundamental rights needed in the EU
and how has the initial problem been resolved (until now)?

1. Introduction: Why are fundamental rights needed
If members of a society do not have rights, there is no or only a weak base for making rules for that society. Rights reflect values, and it is upon values — intended to prop up the common good — that a society is built. Rules cannot exist without rights, as they are based upon them, rather than vice versa: It would not make sense for a society to construct rules and then base the rights on them afterwards.

Nevertheless, this is more or less what happened during the first half century of the European Communities’, and later the European Union’s, existence. In the beginning, the formalised cooperation between six independent countries was mainly a political project calling for a common approach within a few rather specific areas. With time, this cooperation grew larger in terms of participating countries, wider in terms of policy areas falling under its wings, and deeper in terms of involving not just the upper spheres of political decision-makers but also going further and further down into people’s lives.

This is where a common approach to the basic aspect of rights starts to become a necessity. Each society, each member state of the European Union is built on rights for its citizens or inhabitants — be it explicitly, formally or informally. These rights may differ from country to country, and in an ever more tightly-knit community between nations, agreeing on a set of common rights for each and every of its meanwhile half a billion inhabitants would seem to be essential in order to continue the progression towards common goals that serve the European Union as a whole, and each person as an individual.

2. The past
Certain specific rights were laid down already in earlier treaties, such as equality between the sexes in 1957 by means of Article 119 of the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community 1 (now Article 157 in the Lisbon Treaty), and consumer protection in 1992 by means of Article 129a of the Treaty on European Union 2 (now Article 12 in the Lisbon Treaty).

Perhaps more importantly, the Treaty on European Union also established that:
‘The Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law.’ 3
This was the first time that a European Community or Union treaty directly mentioned fundamental rights. However, without establishing its own definitions of the rights, it instead referred to those set out by the Council of Europe 42 years before. As every member state of the European Union was already a member of the Council of Europe at its time of accession 4, it was nothing new to commit to this Convention. What was new was that the European Union as such committed to them, formally.

Until then, the protection of fundamental rights had been taken care of not through treaties but through case law. During the years, the European Court of Justice has ruled in a number of interesting cases involving questions of fundamental rights. One such case was the Schmidberger case, in which the Court of Justice ended up ruling that freedom of speech prevails over the free movement of goods principle. 5 Other examples include the Nold case, emphasising that the European Communities’ citizens are protected by international and national human rights principles, 6 and the Stauder case, which can be considered an early example of protection of personal data. 7

3. The present
Since late 2000, the fundamental rights of the citizens of and inhabitants in any European Union member state are protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. 8 That is the theory. For, proclaimed by the three legislative institutions of the European — the Council, the Parliament and the Commission — there were doubts whether the charter was actually legally binding. Moreover, the United Kingdom had reserves about the Charter, as had both the meanwhile new member states Czech Republic and Poland when the Charter was referred to directly in the Lisbon Treaty, 9 amending the Treaty on European Union, and thus making it legally binding from 1 December 2009 when the Lisbon Treaty entered into force. All of these three member states were granted an opt-out in a Protocol to the Treaty.

The Lisbon Treaty also includes a Protocol to the Treaty on European Union, opening up for the possibility of applying for accession to the European Court of Human Rights 10 — again, as an entity, as the ‘European Union’ in itself, in addition to its member states already being members of the Court.

Meanwhile, in 2007, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights was established. 11 This advisory body was set up to observe and verify whether the people of European Union have the rights granted to them by the agreed charters.

4. The future
In a time where the European Union, the entire European continent, and the World as a whole seems to be in a phase of transition, discussions on fundamental rights mushroom perhaps more than ever. Ever more apocalyptic predictions on our Planet’s ecological balance together with a financial end economical crisis raise questions on how our current way of life can, could, should or even must be reshaped into a future society based on sustainability.

This is why fundamental rights in a not very distant future might have a less individualistic focus, along the line of the ideas of Jeremy Rifkin, adviser to the European Union and to heads of state around the World:
‘We are so used to thinking of property as the right to exclude others from the use or benefit of something that we’ve lost sight of the fact that in previous times property was also defined as the right not to be excluded from the use or enjoyment of something. […] In a collaborative economy, the right of inclusion becomes more important in establishing economic and social relationships than the right of exclusion.’ 12

by Bjørn Clasen

Sources
1 European Economic Community: Title III — Social Policy, Chapter 1 — Social Provisions, Article 119 of Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (Publishing Services of the European Communities, Luxembourg 1957). Quoted here from Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l’Europe (http://tiny.cc/rometreaty)
1 European Communities: Title XI — Consumer Protection, Article 129a of Treaty on European Union, signed at Maastricht on 7 February 1992. Official Journal of the European Communities C 191 of 29 July 1992 (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg 1992), p 25
3 Ibidem, Title I — Common Provisions, Article F(2). p 5
4 Member states of the Council of Europe, 2011, Wikipedia 11 December 2011 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_states_of_the_Council_of_Europe)
5 Court of Justice of the European Union: Judgment of the Court of 12 June 2003, Case C-112/00 — Eugen Schmidberger, Internationale Transporte und Planzüge v Republik Österreich. European Court reports 2003 (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg 2003), pp I-5694 – I-5725
6 European Court of Justice: Judgment of the Court of 14 May 1974, Case 4-73 — J. Nold, Kohlen- und Baustoffgroßhandlung v Commission of the European Communities. European Court reports 1974 (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg 1974), p 491
7 European Court of Justice: Judgment of the Court of 12 November 1969, Case 29-69 — Erich Stauder v City of Ulm - Sozialamt. European Court reports 1969 (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg 1969), p 419
8 European Parliament, Council, Commission: Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Official Journal of the European Union C 303 of 14 December 2007 (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg 2007), pp 1-35
9 European Union: Title I — Common Provisions, Article 6 of Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union (Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg 2010), p 19
10 European Union: Protocol relating to Article 6(2) of the Treaty on European Union on the accession of the Union to the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, to the Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, signed at Lisbon, 13 December 2007. Official Journal of the European Union C 306 of 17 December 2007 (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg 2007), p 155
11 Council of the European Union: Council Regulation (EC) No 168/2007 of 15 February 2007 establishing a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Official Journal of the European Union L 53 of 22 February 2007 (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg 2007), pp 1-14
12 Jeremy Rifkin: From Belongings To Belonging, in The Empathic Civilization — The Race To Global Consciousness In A World In Crisis (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, New York 2009), pp 541-542

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Institutional Architecture of the European Union IV:
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Introduced by the Amsterdam Treaty (1999), the High Representative was in charge for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. With the Treaty of Lisbon (2009), the post also took over the responsibilities hitherto covered by the External Relations Commissioner, and at the same time changing to the current name.

Until the entry into force of the amendments laid out in the Lisbon Treaty, the Secretary General of the Council of the European Union held the High Representative post. With Lisbon, the post became a separate one, and British Commissioner Catherine Ashton became the first one to take office.

Remaining Commissioner for External Relations and Vice-President of the Commission, the High Representative is in charge of external affairs, which is why s/he is often considered the equivalent of a country’s Foreign Minister. The High Representative holds a number of other offices, such as President of the Foreign Affairs Council (i.e. the Council of the European Union consisting of each member state’s Ministers for Foreign Affairs) and President of the European Defence Agency, established in 2004. Interestingly, de facto the High Representative can probably not be of Danish nationality, as Denmark has opted out of this Agency. However, there is nothing in the Treaties (de jure) preventing a Dane from taking this office.

Moreover, the High Representative was Secretary General of the now defunct Western European Union. Importantly, s/he also takes part in European Council meetings but cannot vote as s/he is not an actual member of the European Council.

by Bjørn Clasen

Some reference sources
Catherine Ashton’s page on the official European Union website and Glossary
Unofficial website of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
European Defence Agency’s offical website

Monday, 30 January 2012

Institutional Architecture of the European Union III:
The terms supranational and intergovernmental

When we talk about ‘supranational’, we talk about a body that rules ‘over’ (=supra) the national governments. This means that the countries who by convention, for example a treaty, are under supranational authority, must follow decisions taken by that authority.

‘Intergovernmental’, on the other hand, means ‘between governments’. In other words, governments of at least two countries make decisions between them, and other countries’ governments can choose not to fall under that decision.

The difference is thus that if a group of independent nations are members of a supranational community, it is the community that takes certain decisions, according to the rules laid out between the nations in question to form this community, and each nation falls under these decisions — whereas in an intergovernmental community, each member can opt in or opt out on a single-case basis, each thus keeping their full independence.

by Bjørn Clasen

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Institutional Architecture of the European Union II:
How the European Commission is appointed

The European Council appoints a Commission President, usually among a current or recent Head of Government in one of the member states, and taking into account the latest European Parliament elections. The appointed President is subject to approval by the Parliament. Should it reject the proposal, the European Council must appoint a new one within a month. Once the nominated President is approved by vote of the European Parliament, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is appointed, the President asks the governments of each member state, except her or his own and that of the High Representative, to suggest one Commissioner.

When portfolios are distributed among these candidates, the proposed Commission, also known as ‘the College’, must be appointed by the Council. Then, the European Parliament holds hearings at which its Members can ask questions to each Commissioner candidate and to the appointed Commission President. The Parliament may approve the entire prospect Commission or reject the entire prospect Commission, though not single members. However, should the Parliament reject the proposed set of Commissioners, the hearings will have shown who are the candidates it does not want to approve. In this case, the designated Commission President will ask the member state(s) who have suggested the candidate(s) in question to make a new choice, and again, the proposed Commission in its entirety has to be approved by the Parliament.

When the Parliament has voted for a College, the European Council puts it into office. The European Commission has a standard term of five years. Should a Commission be forced to resign, as it happened to the Santer Commission, the new College is appointed by the same procedure as described above, for the remainder of the current term.

Read more on the Wikipedia subpage on the appointment of the European Commission.

by Bjørn Clasen

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Institutional Architecture of the European Union I:
European Council

Today’s blogpost and those of the three following days continue in the sign of the European Union. More precisely, they will — very briefly — explain some European Union institutions.

The European Council appoints a Commission President, usually among a current or recent Head of Government in one of the member states. The appointed President is subject to approval by the European Parliament. Should the Parliament reject the proposal, the European Council must appoint a new one within a month. Once the nominated President is approved by vote of the European Parliament, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is appointed, the President asks the governments of each member state, except her or his own and that of the High Representative, to suggest one Commissioner.

When portfolios are distributed among these candidates, the proposed Commission, also known as ‘the College’, must be appointed by the Council. Then, the European Parliament holds hearings at which its Members can ask questions to each Commissioner candidate and to the appointed Commission President. The Parliament may approve the entire prospect Commission or reject the entire prospect Commission, though not single members. However, should the Parliament reject the proposed set of Commissioners, the hearings will have shown who are the candidates it does not want to approve. In this case, the designated Commission President will ask the member state(s) who have suggested the candidate(s) in question to make a new choice, and again, the proposed Commission in its entirety has to be approved by the Parliament.

When the Parliament has voted for a College, the European Council puts it into office. The European Commission has a standard term of five years. Should a Commission be forced to resign, as it happened to the Santer Commission, the new College is appointed by the same procedure as described above, for the remainder of the current term.

You can read more on the European Council page on the official European Union website and the Wikipedia subpages on the President of the European Council.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

History of European Integration V:
Amsterdam and Nice Treaty

The fifth and last short text of this assignment is about the treaties laying the ground for enlarging the European Union East and South. Thank you for reading, and for quoting correctly.

Both the Treaty of Amsterdam, signed in 1997 and entered into force in 1999, and the Nice Treaty, signed in 2001 and entered into force in 2003, are amendments of the Treaty on European Union. They were designed to prepare for a vast enlargement that was approaching realisation in the course of the decade following the collapse of the authoritarian regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. A European Union of twice as many member states called for modifications of the decision-making procedures in order to stay effective.

Changes were to a large extent of a mathematical nature, in terms of vote weightings and numbers of European Parliament members per country. In the centre of these discussions — or battles — were the balance between big and small member states, as well as internally between the big member states, notably founding members France and the meanwhile reunified and now thus much larger Germany. 1 2

None of the two treaties really managed to provide a satisfactory framework for the wished-for improved effectiveness. That is how talks of a European Union constitution started and ultimately the Lisbon Treaty became the new legal framework for continuous European integration.

by Bjørn Clasen, 2011

Sources
1 Hartmut Marhold: History of European Integration, 5.1.2.2 — Monetary Union, Amsterdam Treaty and “left overs”, and 5.2.1.2 — In the lowlands of integration policy: the Nice Treaty (Course text for the participants of the Certificate and first year of the Master programme of the Centre international de formation européenne
2 Historiasiglo20.org: The Treaty of Amsterdam (1997)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

History of European Integration IV:
Maastricht Treaty

The fourth part of my short account of European Union treaties. Introducing: the €uro!

Whereas the Single European Act had bound together the three European treaties, the Maastricht Treaty continued the integration — into a union, which is why its official name is ‘Treaty on European Union’. Although amended by the Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties, the Maastricht Treaty is largely what the present-day European Union is based upon. Not only did it introduce the three-pillar structure — adding the Common Foreign and Security Policy as well as Justice and Home Affairs to the already existing European Community — it also established the criteria for taking the European Monetary Union to its ultimate third stage, i.e. introducing a common currency, the euro. 1

The Treaty on European Union was signed on 7 February 1992 and entered into force only 20 months later on 1 November 1993 after quite a bit of nail-biting over its ratification in several member states. Notably Denmark and the United Kingdom were granted exceptions from certain parts of the Treaty. 2 For example, the United Kingdom was exempt from being bound by the social dimension, 3 which, along with the extension of the European Union’s competencies to other fields such as education and culture, health and environmental issues, further increased the common European influence on aspects close to the citizens’ everyday life.

by Bjørn Clasen, 2011

Sources
1 euro know: Maastricht Treaty
2 BBC News A-Z of Europe: Maastricht Treaty
3 Jens Engelbredt: Den Europæiske Unions Historie — Den Sociale Dimension

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

History of European Integration III:
Single European Act

This next step in the European Union’s development went towards a real internal market. Something we — more or less — take for granted today. If you want to use parts of the text, thank you for quoting accordingly.

By the mid-eighties it was high time for the European Communities, meanwhile enlarged three times and now counting twelve member states, to take the internal market into its decisive phase. This was done through the Single European Act, signed in Luxembourg and Den Haag in 1986, and entering into force the following year. 1

A main purpose of the Single European Act was to have a fully functioning internal market by the end of 1992. 2 The means was to boost decision-making in the European Communities, by adding areas for which only a qualified majority within the Council of Ministers was needed in order to pass legislation, as well as by giving the European Parliament more power. Also, the European Court of First Instance was established, 3 and the European Council was officialised. 4

With these institutional modifications, the Single European Act was a major turn towards stronger integration and away from national sovereignty. Facing the ever-increasing competitiveness from especially the USA and East Asia, a common approach from the member states was needed to keep up with these and possible new competitors on the world trade scene, and to avoid a new crisis like in the 1970s. 5

by Bjørn Clasen, 2011

Sources
1 Wikipedia article: Single European Act
2 The Europa website: Summaries of EU legislation — The Single European Act
3 Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l’Europe: The Single European Act
4 Historiasiglo20.org: The Single European Act and the road toward the Treaty of the European Union (1986-1992)
5 Hartmut Marhold: History of European Integration, 4.2.1.2 — The “Single European Act”: A revolution in disguise (1985/87) (Course text for the participants of the Certificate and first year of the Master programme of the Centre international de formation européenne

Monday, 23 January 2012

History of European Integration II:
Rome Treaties

The second short text on the European Union is about the Rome Treaties, a milestone towards integration.

Signed in 1957 by the same six countries and entered into force on 1 January 1958, the two Treaties of Rome founded the European Economic Community and Euratom. It is in the former that for the first time, we see the ‘four freedoms’ that became crucial to European integration: the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital. 1 In other words, this is where a common market — in principle within all trade areas, not just coal and steel — is established and converting the territories of the six member states into a single customs area without internal customs borders and a common external customs border.

Although the base was already established with the European Coal and Steel Community, it is also with the Treaties of Rome that most of the European institutions we know today were set up:
‘The institutional balance is based on a triangle consisting of the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament, all three of which are called upon to work together. The Council prepares the standards, the Commission drafts the proposals and the Parliament plays an advisory role. Another body is also involved in the decision-making procedure in an advisory capacity, namely the Economic and Social Committee.’ 2
All subsequent treaties increasing European integration are amendments to the Treaties of Rome. Even more than the Treaty of Paris which marked the first steps, they can thus be regarded as the base foundation of what is now the European Union of 27 countries.

by Bjørn Clasen, 2011

Sources
1 The Europa website: Summaries of EU legislation — Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, EEC Treaty — original text (non-consolidated version)
2 Ibidem: ‘Institutions’, first paragraph

Sunday, 22 January 2012

History of European Integration I:
A short account of the European Community of Coal and Steel

It’s EU time. Over the next couple of weeks, I will post short texts on different aspects of the European Union. They were all part of some small assignments that I wrote in December. Please be aware of the sources, quote correctly, including from ‘my own’ texts. And if you have questions, just comment on the post. Most of all: Enjoy. You might learn something :)

We start of with, well, the first treaty.


The European Community of Coal and Steel was established by the Treaty of Paris, which was signed in 1951 and entered into force in 1952. The signatory countries were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and The Netherlands. 1 It came about in the aftermath of World War II, which had left the European continent and the European people split between hope for a more peaceful future and a state of fear of another devastating conflict. Armed conflict requires weapons, and at the time, a country’s ability to produce weapons depended especially on two factors: Access to coal and access to steel. 2

This is why France’s Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, came up with a proposal to put the production of both these resources under a common ‘High Authority’ 3, instead of keeping the control of the production nationalised. Schuman presented his idea in a declaration on 9 May 1950. To this day, 9 May is celebrated in European circles as ‘Europe Day’, marking the very beginnings of what has since become a tight and binding co-operation between 27 European countries so far.

The European Community of Coal and Steel was an indirect success. During the first couple of decades of its existence, coal production in the member states went down, and the increase in steel production was nowhere as strong as in for example Japan or the Soviet Union. However, trade between the member states was strengthened, and the European Community of Coal and Steel proved to be the first step in a common market, which kept growing both in terms of trade areas and geographically. Moreover, a series of welfare measures for mine workers marked the first steps of a new integrated solidarity between member states. But most importantly, peace was kept in Europe. 4

The Treaty of Paris expired in 2002 and, meanwhile having been integrated into the Maastricht Treaty and subsequent European Union treaties, it was not renewed.

by Bjørn Clasen, 2011

Sources
1 The Europa website: Summaries of EU legislation — Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, ECSC Treaty
2 Hartmut Marhold: History of European Integration, 2.1.2.1 — Jean Monnet’s Plan, origins and circumstances (Course text for the participants of the Certificate and first year of the Master programme of the Centre international de formation européenne)
3 The Schuman Declaration
4 The history of the ECSC: Good times and bad, by Gilbert Mathieu (Le Monde, 9 May 1970)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Forfrosne roser

Her er så den anden af mine mildest talt ufærdige historier, jeg fandt i nogle gamle digitale gemmer. Faktisk er det kun en indledning. Har du lyst til at skrive videre på den, eller har du blot en ide til det videre forløb, er du yderst velkommen til at kommentere.

Det var en af disse dage, hvor temperaturen lå, så rimkrystallerne i de vinterdvalende græstotter hverken kunne fryses helt hårde eller smelte nok til at flyde ud. Faktisk smuldrede de ved de mindste vindpust langs den hårde jordoverflade, selvom vinden slet ikke var så råkold og hård, som den kan være, når vinteren er begyndt at vise tænder.

Han sad nede ved fjorden, på dét sted bag den gamle fabrik, hvor man kunne køre lige ud i vandet — eller nu på isen — hvis man havde for meget fart på før det snævre sving. I vintertågen flød alle omgivelserne ud i ét hernede. Den halvfrosne fjord, betonkanten på bredden, den sandgrå fabriksmur, de træer, der også om sommeren var stort set nøgne, himlen — det hele var indhyllet i en snigende dis af rim og støv.

Friday, 20 January 2012

”Spontan Fiktion”
(En eksperimentalfortælling af Bjørn HBC)

I nogle gamle digitale gemmer fandt jeg et par historier, som jeg var begyndt på, men så heller ikke mere. Her er den ene. Har du lyst til at skrive videre på den, eller har du blot en ide til det videre forløb, er du yderst velkommen til at kommentere.

1.

Sveden piblede ned fra hans tindinger, ned over kinderne. Efter tre kvarter i romaskinen, ved håndvægtene og på løbebåndet var ømheden i leddene ved at bide fra sig. Han slukkede for løbebåndet og lagde for første gang mærke til, at det var et Carl Zeiss-fabrikat. Mærkeligt, tænkte han ganske flygtigt, jeg troede sgu kun, at de lavede kikkerter.

Under omklædningsrummets hårtørrer fik han så sin vision for første gang. Han så denne kvinde med langt, lyst hår stå midt i rummet. Hun smilede til ham — vistnok — men da han kiggede op, var hun væk. Hm. Sær dag. Først havde han lagt mærke til, hvilket firma, der havde fabrikeret løbebåndet. En maskine, som han havde brugt flere gange om ugen i næsten trekvart år — og netop i dag opdagede han maskinens navn. Og nu altså en smilende blondine, som var i mændenes omklædningsrum, og som ikke var der alligevel. You need sleep, Ben!

Egentlig var Ben, hvad mange kunne finde på at kalde ”ganske almindelig”. Benny Nicolaj Jørgensen, sidst i 20’erne, ungkarl, boede i en lejlighed i en Odense-forstad. Og — okay — han var arbejdsløs, men dét var jo for så vidt også ”almindeligt”. Han havde mistet sit job for små to måneder siden — et job han havde haft i otte år! Pludselig var han blevet fritstillet, som det hed, og han havde været fuldstændigt ligeglad med hvorfor, men det var vistnok det sædvanlige med, at firmaet flyttede til Portugal.

Ben faldt i søvn, så snart han var hjemme fra kondicentret.

2.

Biip-biip, biip-biip… Det irriterende, digitale vækkeur bippede Ben ud af hans søvn. Klokken var 8.30, så han havde sovet hele fjorten timer! Lidt tummelumsk og uden tidsfornemmelse vaklede han ud i køkkenet, men gik hurtigt tilbage til soveværelset igen, for det var hans time manager, han ville kigge i. Jo, den lå på natbordet. Han tog den, men inden han fik den åbnet, syntes han pludselig, at han havde set noget mærkeligt ude i gangen, da han var gået tilbage fra køkkenet. Det var bare først nået fra hans søvnige nethinder gennem hans forvirrede hjernefiltre og frem til opmærksomheden nu.

Ben flintrede ud i gangen — jo, ganske rigtigt: katten lå og var død! Den lå på måtten foran indgangsdøren. Ben var stadig rundt på gulvet, for i stedet for at kigge nærmere på katten, gik han ind til sofabordet og tænkte på, at det også var den satans dørmåtte. Han havde aldrig gidet at investere i en måtte, men når nu han havde fået en af mosteren i gave for nylig, kunne han jo lige så godt bruge den.

Der var ikke skyggen af rationalitet i Bens tankegang, for måtten havde jo ikke andet med kattens død at gøre, end at katten lå på måtten. Men han undersøgte hverken kattens død, blondinen, der ikke var der, eller mærket på løbebåndet nærmere.

3.

(ja… hvad sker der videre?)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Aggression in Albania XIII:
Everybody who is exposed to political violence, is psychologically traumatized

The conclusion to the essay on Albania in 1997, as given by the author, a 17-year old who wishes to remain anonymous.

I believe it is true, with certain exceptions, but it is true. I have been there, I have seen violence, I have witnessed it and I know what dimensions it can reach, what consequences it can produce. I have seen my nation on the flares of monstrosity as an observer, as an Albanian and as a terrified human being. I have tried to give a name to this creature of evil, but I could not. I have tried to give a reason, an explanation why we chose the worst way of reacting, but I couldn’t, till I understood that we were TRAUMATIZED.

Why all this violence? Was this a response toward the violence to which the Albanians were submitted during the past? More than 3400 people were dead during 97. Can any fact justify this?

I think any psychologist would be more than happy to study the patterns of behavior, the social structure of the Albanian society, the political influences and the psychology and mentality of the Albanians. All human, social, political, and cultural processes developed in Albania are singular and unique phenomena with incredibly speedy paces.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Aggression in Albania XII: December ’90… (continued)

The touching and disquieting essay about Albania, written by a 17-year old, is reaching a climax, building a bridge of explanation between the 1990 events and those in 1997.

Now I ask, in front of all the atrocities witnessed, in front of the discrimination and disdain that human beings were faced with, how were they supposed to act against? How were they supposed to oppose and raise their voice for justice?
I remember the frustration of my parents; their fear to talk in front of us, because of a word that might leave the doors of my home; a word that could send my father in jail; that could humiliate and destruct my mother. I remember my father fearing the worst for us and working his all to prevent it. He was a high rank officer and a professor, and for this he was always under surveillance. I remember my mother sewing clothes staying up all night in order to save some money for her three children. She was head of finances and yet she couldn’t provide all necessary things for the family. I am not talking about luxury. I am talking about necessary living.

Another question comes to my mind. Was that political violence? Was that a massive collective psychological trauma inflicted to my people? Because if it is, I presume I can justify my country for being what it is, for being the way it is, and I can justify my people of being who they are. But does the world think the same as I?
Maybe so far, I have exaggerated with the description I depicted on the past systems. But you can’t know what a nation is, unless you know its past. And you can’t know a human being, unless you know his past, his strivings in life, his emotions and his feelings; unless you know him.

Almost every Albanian has faced political violence, be it aggressive, passive or indirect. What were the consequences of this violence?

Let’s face ’97 once more. The nation was separated into two major poles or forces, the Albanian Democratic Party and the Albanian Socialist Party. In the mean time, the nation was separated into two major geographical zones, north and south. A strange and unexpected phenomenon was created. The north opposed to south and vice versa. On the other hand, political poles had a membership of militants. Organized crime and gangs were spread all over Albania. It was unsafe everywhere. The public order was totally reversed. Anarchy and chaos prevailed all over.

People started to hate each other for their political belonging. It was so fearful to see that we had become enemies of ourselves. Political polarization was the cause of all that. It was a similar effect to the arithmetic progression of a chain reaction. It started from the leadership. Leaders of both parties were not fully aware that any statement or stand they could take would create an increasing reaction of masses against each other. One was either a militant, or a complete ignorer of politics. Chances to find persons that might enter the second group were very small. Violence was exercised from militant groups toward each other. Opposition and position were in “fighting positions” all the time.

The anarchy of each day was terrifying those who were longing to see again some good and shiny days. But it seemed as if the days to come were going to be gloomy days for the Albanians.

The collective trauma accumulated for 50 years, was now provoked and fueled by the recent events. It was a massive “flashback” to Albania. A flashback experienced during the clashes of ’91 violently crushed by the dying regime of dictatorship. A subsequent traumatizing collective experience that the Albanians lived throughout the whole history. If a post traumatic stress disorder can be devastating for a person, how vast can it be if experienced by 100 persons, 1 000 persons, by 3 500 000 persons? I think it can reach tragic and fatal dimensions. I believe that a tragic dimension was extended in the Albania of ’97 where violence, aggression, maltreatments and losses were the only things going on.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Aggression in Albania XI: December ’90…

Part XI of the essay on Albania, written by an anonymous 17-year old, now takes us into the middle of the action of what happened in the country in 1990. The thesis of the essay is that ‘Everybody who is exposed to political violence, is psychologically traumatized’.

Students in the University of Tirana organized a massive disruption of lectures and in sign of discontent from the system and regime, entered a strike of hunger. All the population of Tirana was in solidarity with the requests of the students. In this regard, the miners of Valias (a coal mine in the vicinity of Tirana) entered a hunger strike within the mine. The rest of Albania was surprised with these new events. People started to escape the country and run for the borders with Greece and Yugoslavia. But almost all who attempted to escape were murdered by the secret services or by the border guards. It was a very dark moment for Albania. You could see dead bodies being pulled in the center of the town by military and police cars, to show to the inhabitants that this would happen to all who would try. People were terrified. For the first time, the real face of the dictatorship was being shown to the Albanians. Horror, fear and condemnation started to arise all of a sudden. All that pressure held within for almost 50 years was now materializing with massive opposition. But now, the rage was far greater than the fear and the horror. Now it was time to shout out loud against all injustice and prosecution. It was time to abolish the mask of democracy and show the true picture of an inhuman system that humiliated and destroyed the very core of the Albanian nation.

It is strange how the laws of physics can be applicable in explaining the human nature. The more you press the piston in an empty container, the more power it gains to outbreak from the pressure charged on it. The same goes for men. The more you press over men, and the more they bear, the more it is likely for them to explode into outrageous behavior. Indeed this happened in February ’91. Massive revolts and uprising were reported all over Albania. The Albanians were tired of living the illusion of being the only democratic country worldwide. They were tired of living apart as if they were quarantined from the rest of the world. This quarantine called Albania was populated by a nation who during all its existence were striving and fighting for one sole thing; a thing called FREEDOM. After year 1945 freedom was brought to Albania, but it was not freedom at all. It was liberation from the Nazi-fascist dictatorship, in order to bring the country into another sort of fascism, that fascism called communist dictatorship. It had nothing to do with communism itself. Communism was meant to be the most efficient system to be applied during all mankind history. It was a system where all were equal, where all were one, and one were all. But it was not this communism that was applied in Albania, or in USSR, or in any other eastern country, or even at all. It was a system that obliged men to behave like machines subdued in service of these new “Pharaohs” of modern times.