Reflecting on Josh’s Experience

by bicyclemark

Josh Wolf doesn’t know me. But anyone reading this knows that in this wonderful jungle called the internet.. we know many people who don’t know us.

Tonight, as I sat here in my room in windy Amsterdam, I read through this piece he wrote from prison, describing what his average day consists of. It really had me sitting here and imagining. Not to mention appreciating and admiring what he is going through and its significance for all of us who struggle to be recognized and allowed to do this very under-respected type of journalistic work. I should will write to him.

Outside.

For tonight I quote one of his paragraphs, and hope you’ll read it fully, and remember all those out there who have been wrongly imprisoned.

Although I occasionally watch a bit of television during the evening, I try to devote the last hour or two before lockdown to responding to the correspondence I have received. Just before 8:45 PM, I go into the guard’s office and deliver whatever letters I have finished writing, and then fill up my mug with water from the drinking fountain. By that time, the guard has usually announced lockdown and we all scamper back to our cells where we wait out the rest of the night.

Heading North Thru BENELUX

by bicyclemark

Few words today, it’s sunday and I’m catching up on the American Football.

Suburban train near brussels.

Eventful train ride back from Brussels, which I’ll talk about tomorrow. During the ride I heard all about how Ed Bradley (of 60 mnutes) had died. Very sad to hear it… he was my favorite reporter on that program. Television news needed him.. the public needed him… out of all the old people working on the program, hadn’t figured he would go anytime soon. Thanks for your work Ed… made a difference in my life.

A Media Pact

by bicyclemark

First of all, I hereby promise that this will be the last post this week related to US congressional elections and US politics. Not because I’m one of those “lets not talk politics, it makes everyone upset” people… but rather because on this blog, I value the fact that the world is larger than just one country… plus its a personal blog.. so I could surely tell a story or two of interesting cultural learnings for make benefit of great internet.

Most of you probably don’t watch GW Bush press conferences. This because you value your mental health, time, ears, and intelligence. Watching him speak has been proven to put any of these at risk.
But I live in Amsterdam and things here are always in some sort of twilight zone, so I watch the press conferences… I guess because everyone has an unhealthy passtime.

So what I notice tonight, more than ever, is that exactly at a moment where the press should be asking tough questions and making this man explain all his vague promises and preminitions when it comes to the election, national issues, and the ever-so-vague “finish the mission” talk about Iraq…. instead of pressuring him to actually answer what the hell he has planned, they do the exact opposite. Throw the man softballs… and worst of all… and this one almost made me spit up my dinner all over innocent roomate: they joke with him!

Now I know some us like to joke on the job… hell I did.. when I had a job. But the relationship between media and president is not one of colleagues. They are monitors. Their role is to ensure he is doing his job, as leader of the country, properly and not misrepresenting or adopting policies that could prove detrimental. You know.. like sending thousands of people to their deaths.. that kind of thing.

A Media with such a role; acting as the fourth estate of checks and balances, would not be a media that shares inside jokes and winks and nudges with the president. They wouldn’t further allow the president to avoid doing his job or facing criticism by laughing at his jokes and responding with more jokes. That wouldn’t work very well, if they are to be a critical force that the president takes seriously.

But the fact is… they do this. They laugh it up. He calls them by their first names. He probably buys them booze, drugs, and sex like Nixon used to do for his campaign press.

Photo from Flickr member Luna Park  -- thanks!

My thought after once again seeing this sick and useless relationship… is an idea. A pact, if you will. The entire white house press core should take this oath.. make this pact.. for the good of the nation and to properly due their job as the fourth estate: promise to never ever laugh at the presidents’ joke during a press conference or an interview. Sure he’ll tell them often.. trying to avoid producing answers or revealing his dark secrets.. but the press should keep to this strict rule… and there should be dead silence anytime he tells one of his one line zingers. Dead silence! And wait for the president to answer the question.. or keep asking the same question if he tries to move on.

In my little imagination I can see it now… the great media stonewall… no more kidding around and laughing it up. Just watchdogs.. reporters… investigators.. who can joke around once the job is done and the president has gone back to his lonely corner.

Thats what I’d like. Just a little wish.

(If you seek post-election analysis not from the mainstream.. don’t look to me.. consult Liberty Cap)

Dams and Boats Weekend

by bicyclemark

This boating thing could really make one forget about all the problems in the world. I smell complacency everytime I lie back and stare at the cyclists riding by. Maybe it would help if I brought my powerbook and parked where I could catch some wifi and from there I could keep abreast to all the things happenning in different corners of the world. I was so busy learning how to manage the vessel today, I actually forgot to take photos or video – imagine that!

be040625But instead of going on and on about this very shallow reflection on canal cruising life, I think it would be better if I recommend you a blogger and an ongoing story that effects the lives of hundreds if not thousands: Dilip in Bombay is doing some excellent blog-journalism on dam building in India; specifically the Narmada Dam project. It’s an issue I have always come back to and has always stuck out in my mind. Mostly the influence of both a former professor of mine from India and the great Arundhati Roy, of course. I recommend his posts from this past week to get an idea and detailed arguements on the issue regarding the who, what, and why.

Meanwhile I’m off to sleep where I’ll likely dream about perfect boat parking spaces and ultimate frisbee tournaments. Apathy can’t be too far away.