April 26th, 2006

happy

26 April 1967

Happy 39th birthday to:

Trish Doller, self-described "morning radio jock, punk rock mom, high priestess of DIY, bleeding-heart liberal and all-around awesome babe"
Simon Le Roux, South Africa-born architect and set designer for Finland's Ismo Dance Company
Dominic Jermey OBE of the British Embassy in Madrid
The Reverend Andrew Karnley, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Monrovia
Marianne Jean-Baptiste, actress (Secrets and Lies, Without A Trace television series) and composer
Glen Jacobs, aka Kane, "professional wrestler"
Rainer Salzgeber, Austrian skiing champion
Monte Warden, country musician
Philippe Bertaud, jazz guitarist
Sascha Draeger, German actor and voice-over artist
Klaus Merk, trainer of the Berman national ice-hockey team
Hindy Najman, theologian
Cornelia Schaub, Zürich city councillor
Ludwig Stefan, mayor of the east German city of Königs Wusterhausen
Tim Moore, member of the Michigan State House of Representatives
Francesco Primo Vaccari of the Italian Institute of Biometeorology
Brian K. Lawson, Michigan lawyer
Petr Šulc, CFO of Zentiva
Toomas Tõniste, Estonian winner of two Olympic sailing medals
Alf Kåre Tveit, Norwegian footballer
Konstantin G. Kozhevnikov, president of the Russian Golf Federation
Randy Patterson, American racing driver (stock)
Wolfram Centner, German racing driver (sidecar)
Lorenzo Ward, defensive backfield coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies
Andy Schmeltzer, midfielder of the Charleston Batteries
Sean Boxall, Scottish snooker player
Milan Dvořák, Czech chemist
Zvi Pasman, biochemist
Swen-Uwe Volker, German journalist
Stefan Wiemer, Swiss seismologist
Renee Maritza Vargas, Peruvian sculptor
Marcel Raaymakers, drummer with Dutch band No Fuzz
Kathy Manners, artist

and me!
politics

The Apricot is Erupting

As one often does on birthdays, I've been trying to pin down an elusive detail from many years in the past. In the summer of 1989 I saw a play in a London theatre, set on a Greek island. In the first act, set several decades ago, a young American writer had a homosexual affair with a local chap. In the second act, set in the present day, the same guy, much older, is being cared for in his declining years. The play ends with a volcano exploding, and the old man, who has problems finding the right words, uttering the immortal line "The apricot is erupting!"

Well, the power of Google has tracked it down. Just doing a search on "greek island" play homosexual volcano pulls a New York Times review of a more recent production of Michael Sherman's "A Madhouse in Goa" as the first hit. Investigating a bit further, I find to my surprise that the production I saw starred Rupert Graves and Vanessa Redgrave. I have seen fewer than half a dozen London shows, and am amazed that I had forgotten the star quality of the production. What I do remember is that it really wasn't a very good play, and at one point Larry Lamb (playing the writer in the second act) started visibly giggling at the end of one of his scenes.

Anyway, just thought you would like to know. The birthday link (which I had also forgotten) is that the second act of the play explicitly references the Chernobyl disaster, which of course happened on my 19th birthday.
war

April Books 10) You, The People, 11) International Governance...

10) You, The People: The United Nations, Transitional Administration and State-Building, by Simon Chesterman
11) International Governance of War-Torn Territories: Rule and Reconstruction, by Richard Caplan

Two books on very similar topics. Don't really have the energy to review either right now. Chesterman's slightly the better read, though also less accurately titled in that he deals with post-1995 Bosnia and post-2003 Iraq, neither of which is really UN per se. Both very good and detailed.

The three real killers for international interventions post-conflict are, according to both writers:

i) wishful thinking about conditions on the ground, rather than proper planning for the circumstances of the mission, often driven by domestic political pressures on key players
ii) failure to establish purpose of the mission (and thus conditions for eventually terminating it) right at the very start
iii) failure to establish rule of law very early on in the process, ie police, courts, enforcement mechanisms.

Very useful food for thought, anyway.

While on the plane I also read Spyridon Kotsovilis' paper on Greece's policy towards Macedonia, picked up on a Google trawl since he references me briefly in a footnote. An attractive argument about international relations in general, and how the Realists and Constructivists are Both Wrong; unfortunately his English lets him down in one or two key places, but I think I basically agree with what he's saying and must read more of the writers he references positively (other than myself).