cogitationes me / Thoughts for myself [002.022.178]

VI. Thoughts (of the day) on human rights 

If you make your laws according to your religion and your moral then you are not a democracy. Your are a theocracy and you are no better than the Talibans. The Funding Fathers of the United States wrote the Constitution on the basis of the Separation of Church and State to avoid anything resembling what they wanted to escape — the totalitarianism and domination of a monarchy. If you go this way you are going backward…

Nobody is in favour of abortion. No one want an abortion. It is a solution that you take in last resort when you have exhausted all other possibilities (planned parenthood, contraceptive, adoption, etc.) and you have no other choices. Bad things happen (incest, rape, health issues for the baby, the mother or both) and if the need arise a woman should have the choice. No woman should be forced into a pregnancy that put her physical, mental or economical health in jeopardy. (Democrats and defenders of women’s rights should have better messaging!)

If you take away the right of women to chose what would be next? The same-sex marriage? The mixed-race marriage? The voting right of minorities? According to the extreme right none of those are guaranteed in the American Constitution. They say that life begins at conception (although some scientists say that a human brain is not completely formed until five or six year-old…) and therefore all those frozen embryos must be considered human. If they take full power of the country we could see the day when they force some women (Prisoners? Minorities? Underprivileged?) to carry those frozen embryos to term… Then we would not be far from what is considered science-fiction today (The Handmaid’s Tale anyone?)…

People will defend a right that they want. They will fight harder to defend a right that they had and lost… The Future will always be a struggle. Ours might be a socio-political war!

And now, for something completely different, maybe the worse war crime is for Europa to coward in front of the Russian scarecrow’s nuclear bluff, leaving the Ukrainians alone to stop the tide of his juvenile and distopic anger ???

[ Traduire ]

Shades: A Tale of Two Presidents

Shades-covFrom Pete Souza, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Obama: An Intimate Portrait, comes a potent commentary on the Presidency — and our country.

As Chief Official White House Photographer, Pete Souza spent more time alongside President Barack Obama than almost anyone else. His years photographing the President gave him an intimate behind-the-scenes view of the unique gravity of the Office of the Presidency — and the tremendous responsibility that comes with it. 

Now, as a concerned citizen observing the Trump administration, he is standing up and speaking out. Shade is a portrait in Presidential contrasts, telling the tale of the Obama and Trump administrations through a series of visual juxtapositions. Here, more than one hundred of Souza’s unforgettable images of President Obama deliver new power and meaning when framed by the tweets, news headlines, and quotes that defined the first 500 days of the Trump White House. 

What began with Souza’s Instagram posts soon after President Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 has become a potent commentary on the state of the Presidency, and our country. Some call this “throwing shade.” Souza calls it telling the truth. 

In Shade, Souza’s photographs are more than a rejoinder to the chaos, abuses of power, and destructive policies that now define our nation’s highest office. They are a reminder of a President we could believe in, and a courageous defense of American values.

[Text from publisher’s website]

Shades_p74-75This makes us realize how great it is NOT to “hear” Trump’s tweets anymore. Shades is a great coffee-table book made mostly of pictures taken during Obama’s presidency with short captions contrasting the subject of the photo with some stupid comment or action from Trump that day (or the day before) and that Souza posted on his Instagram account. Putting a picture on the internet is great fun, but publishing it in a picture book really immortalized it for posterity. It is a quick read, but you can admire the pictures as long as you want. That’s a great book.

Shades: A Tale of Two Presidents, by Pete Souza. New York: Little, Brown & Co, October 2018. 240 pg., Hardcover, 7 x 9.25 in., $12.99 US / $16.99 Can. ISBN: 978-0-316-42182-9. stars-3-0

For more information you can check the following websites:

[ AmazonGoodreadsGoogleNelliganWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 2018 by Pete Souza

[ Traduire ]

On Tyranny (Tim Snyder)

On-Tyranny-cov“The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

On Tyranny is a call to arms and a guide to resistance, with invaluable ideas for how we can preserve our freedoms in the uncertain years to come.”

[Text from publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

This is a tinny and short book (almost a pamphlet) that warns democracy in America is in danger, compares the current situation with how democracy died in Europe and, through twenty lessons of history, teaches us how to fight to protect it. The book opens with a quote by Leszek Kolakowski: “In politics, being deceived is no excuse.”

After a brief introduction about “History and Tyranny”, Snyder offers us twenty lessons: 1. Do no obey in advance: “most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given (…) a citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do”; 2. Defend institutions: “It is institutions that help us to preserve decency (…) choose an institution (…) an take its side”; 3. Beware of the one-party state: “The parties that (…) suppressed rivals (…) exploited a historic moment to make political life impossible for their opponent. So (…) support (…) the rules of democratic elections”; 4. Take responsibility for the face of the world: “Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate”; 5. Remember professional ethics: “When political leaders set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become more important. (…)authoritarians need obedient civil servants”; 6. Be wary of paramilitaries: “When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching with torches (…), the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come”; 7. Be reflective if you must be armed: “If you carry a weapon in public service (…) be ready to say no”; 8. Stand out: “The moment you set an example (…) others will follow”; 9. Be kind to our language: “Think up your own way of speaking (…) separate yourself from the internet. Read books”; 10. Believe in truth: “To abandon the facts is to abandon freedom”; 11. Investigate: “Figure things out for yourself (…) subscrib[e] to print media”; 12. Make eye contact and small talk: “stay in touch with your surroundings, break down social barriers, and understand whom you should and should not trust”; 13. Practice corporeal politics: “Get outside (…) Make new friends and march with them”; 14. Establish a private life: “Consider using alternative forms of the internet (…) Tyrants set the hook on which to hang you”; 15. Contribute to good causes: “Be active in organizations (…) pick a charity or two (…) you will have made a free choice that supports civil society and helps other to do good”; 16. Learn from peers in other countries: “no country is going to find a solution by itself”; 17. Listen for dangerous words: “extremism, terrorism, emergency, exception (…) the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary”; 18. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives: “Modern tyranny is terror management (…) terrorist attacks (…), disaster, (…) suspension of freedom of expression, (…) right to a fair trail”; 19. Be a patriot: “set a good exemple (…) for the generations to come”; 20. Be as courageous as you can: “If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die under tyranny.” He concludes with an epilogue about “History and Liberty.”

In other words: Complacency is the death of democracy. Hear that republicans? Wow. Everything in this book is so true. It should be read by everyone because the fight for our life is not over yet… It is a short but quite interesting reading. Well worth the time. 

On Tyranny; Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century, by Timothy Snyder. New York: Tim Duggan Books (an imprint of Crown Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House), February 2017. 128 pg., Softcover, 4-3/8 x 6-1/4, 9.99 US / $13.50 Can. ISBN: 978-0-8041-9011-4. stars-3-0

For more information you can check the following websites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 2017 by Timothy Snyder

[ Traduire ]

Thought of the day [002.020.282]

Debate after-thoughts

The VP debate was more civil but no one really answered the questions and Mike Pence was lying so much that, for an instant, I had the vision of the moderator being struck in the heart by the elongated nose of Pensoccio ! He was mild-mannered and yet as disrespectful as his master would have been to Kamala Harris. He should not even have been there as he should have been in quarantine in Washington because he was exposed to infected people and should be ready to take over the presidency if — gods forbid — something would happen to Trump.

All in all, it was another annoying debate that won’t change anyone’s opinion since everybody is already disgusted by American politics under this presidency. We cannot be nauseated more than we already are… However, Harris did well, stood her ground (I like the looks she gave Pence) but I am wondering if she should have avoided playing the same game and honestly answer more questions instead. On the other hand, Pence was so bland that he looked like a doll (Dull? Undead?). Even the fly on his head lost interest and flew over the cuckoo’s nest… Meanwhile Trump is planning to use his contagious personality in another rally hoping to make his campaign viral… Could it be a fetal mistake?

I can’t wait for November turd…

[ Traduire ? ]

March, vol. 2-3

Three years ago, in order to celebrate the Black History Month, I commented on the first volume of this biographical comics by John Lewis. And last month, as I was talking about the Congressman death, I urged people to read this series. Then it occurred to me that I should follow my own advice and read volume two and three…

Book Two

March-Book-Two-cov“After the success of the Nashville sit-in campaign, John Lewis is more committed than ever to changing the world through nonviolence — but as he and his fellow Freedom Riders board a bus into the vicious heart of the deep south, they will be tested like never before. Faced with beatings, police brutality, imprisonment, arson, and even murder, the movement’s young activists place their lives on the line while internal conflicts threaten to tear them apart.

But their courage will attract the notice of powerful allies, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy… and once Lewis is elected chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, this 23-year-old will be thrust into the national spotlight, becoming one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement and a central figure in the landmark 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”

[Text from publisher’s website and the inside flap; see also the back cover]

March: Book Two, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Marietta GA: Top Shelf Productions, January 2015. 192 pg., Softcover, 6.5″ x 9.5″, 19.95 US / $25.95 Can. ISBN: 978-1-60309-400-9.

Book Three

March-Book-Three-cov“By the fall of 1963, the Civil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, and as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is guiding the tip of the spear. Through relentless direct action, SNCC continues to force the nation to confront its own blatant injustice, but for every step forward, the danger grows more intense: Jim Crow strikes back through legal tricks, intimidation, violence, and death. The only hope for lasting change is to give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression: “One Man, One Vote.”

To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative campaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and an all-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television. With these new struggles come new allies, new opponents, and an unpredictable new president who might be both at once. But fractures within the movement are deepening … even as 25-year-old John Lewis prepares to risk everything in a historic showdown high above the Alabama river, in a town called Selma.”

[Text from publisher’s website and the inside flap; see also the back cover]

March: Book Three, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Marietta GA: Top Shelf Productions, August 2016. 256 pg., Softcover, 6.5″ x 9.5″, 19.99 US / $25.95 Can. ISBN: 978-1-60309-402-3.

After introducing John Lewis in Book One and explaining how he cames to be involved in the civil rights movement by joining the Nashville students nonviolent protests against segregation, we see him pushing forward, in Book Two, by participating in the Freedom Riders actions. His determination, despite the increasingly violent response to the movement, bring him to a leadership position as the chairman of the SNCC and to a speaking spot at the landmark March on Washington.

Book Two, pages 47 & 150

In Book Three, Lewis is involved with the organization of the Mississippi Freedom Summer. College students flock to the South to register as many as possible Black voters. Despite the fact that the Fifteenth Amendment gave the African-Americans the right to vote, they were facing unjust registration suppression (poll taxes and literacy tests). The project goal was to publicize and counteract this injustice, but it was met with great terror and intimidation (including the tragic events recalled in the movie Mississipi Burning). They also created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in order to put delegates at the Democratic National Convention with great controversy. It failed but prompted Lyndon B. Johnson to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The protests, and the violent response from the South authorities, continue to escalate up to the march from Selma to Montgomery (on March 7, 1965) where Lewis led six-hundred marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and was gravely wounded. This event was a turning point that brought national and international attention to the question and prompted Johnson to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Interestingly, through the recounting of his involvement, Lewis doesn’t shy from talking about the dissent within the various civil rights organizations (mainly the SNCC, CORE, NAACP, and SCLC) and even to sometimes criticize the positions of Martin Luther King or Malcom X.

Book Three, pages 30 & 86

The storytelling of March is excellent and compelling. It is well supported and illustrated by the pretty good black and white art of Nate Powell. However it is sometime quite dark (lots of ink!) and the text in some speech balloons is way too small for my eyes — I guess the artist wanted to express the sound level of distant speech. This book is a real history lesson, and the perfect way to learn about the Civil Right Movement.

Strangely, everything I read in this comics sounds familiar. It seems that what’s happening right nowBlack Lives Matter, the increasing violence against minorities and even from the government itself — is eerily similar to the situation during the civil rights movement. We all thought that our society had made great progress since then, but sixty years later we realize that we find ourselves at the same point! The disease is apparently running deeper. It laid more or less dormant for a while but seems to have been awaken by the “insult” of having a black president, creating a slow resentment. Now, with the strong encouragement and even its institutionalization by President Trump,  there’s an increasingly strong push back against all civil rights (of the ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender or all sort of minorities) by the conservative Republicans (mostly the religious right). The United States are really in need of strong and comprehensive reforms to address this pervasive problem…

History is repeating itself (to quote Battlestar Galactica, “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again” — which seems inspired by the Bible, Ecclesiastes 1:9) but it shouldn’t ! That’s why reading this comic is extremely important. If you understand the problem of the civil rights in the fifties and sixties — the what, why, who, where and how of it — you will understand what’s happening now: what it means, why it is so important. And maybe we will start to see how all this pervasive ethno-socio-economic inequity could be solved. 

Reading this book is an absolute must. It is an easy way to understand a complex problem that affects all our lives — but mostly the black lives. It really matter. Read it. Now. stars-4-0

For more information you can check the following websites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 2015-2016 John Lewis and Andrew Aydin.

[ Traduire ]

RIP John Lewis

March-Lewis-covSadly, Congressman John Lewis died yesterday [BBCCNNGoogle  NYTUSA Today]. He was a hero of the American Civil Right Movement, one of the “Big Six”. In March 1965, he received a severe head injury during the “Bloody Sunday” as he led protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge while attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery. Since 1988 he has held a seat at the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district. He must be remembered for his accomplishments which are even more important in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement.

I also want to remind everybody that John Lewis (in collaboration with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell) wrote a biographical comic book retelling his struggle. More than ever it is worth a look…

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsWikipediaWorldCat ]

[ Traduire ]

Pictorial chronicle [002.020.113]

Jour de la Terre

[ iPhone 11 Pro, le printemps dans VSP, 2020/04/20-22]

En ce jour de la Terre il est important d’avoir une bonne pensée pour cette planète qui nous nourrit et nous fait vivre malgré tous les abus que nous lui faisons subir. Cette année-ci est bien spéciale puisque c’est non seulement le cinquantième anniversaire de l’événement mais aussi parce que le confinement et la distanciation sociale que nous expérimentons en raison de la COVID-19 nous fait réaliser qu’il est possible et facile de réduire nos déplacements et notre consommation afin d’alléger le fardeau que l’humain impose à la planète. C’est quelque chose que nous devrions essayer de faire tous les jours de toutes les années. Pour la pérennité de la planète… [ Translate ]

Le chat du rabbin 9. La reine du Shabbat

le_chat_du_rabbin_9-cov“Le rabbin revient sur un élément ancien, fondateur du principe de départ de la série mythique de Joann Sfar. Le jour de l’enterrement de sa femme, il décide de garder un chat. Le chat. Pour Zlabya. Pour ne pas « être deux ». Des années plus tard, le chat se mit à parler. Un événement hors du commun qui questionna le rabbin sur sa foi, ses croyances, autant qu’il joua un rôle dans le désir de liberté et d’indépendance de la jeune Zlabya. Nous suivons Zlabya dans une aventure située entre le tome 1 et 2.”

[Texte du site de l’éditeur; voir aussi la couverture arrière]


Page 9

Le Malka des Lions raconte à des enfants incrédules l’histoire du chat du rabbin. Comme preuve il leur présente la longue tresse coupée de Zlabya, puis raconte l’histoire du jour où, se sentant incomprise, elle avait fugué de la maison et s’est fait passé pour un homme afin de pouvoir sortir avec sa copine Oreillette sans se faire emmerder par les hommes. Une fable féministe où Sfar ne manque pas, comme toujours, d’écorcher la religion (particulièrement la sienne, le judaïsme) au passage. Il discours sur l’absurdité de la religion et sur la névrose du juif, qui étouffe car il se sent pris entre les règles religieuses qui interdisent trop de choses et l’étrange hostilité du monde (l’antisémitisme). Si la situation est oppressante pour le juif Maghrébins, elle l’est d’autant plus pour la femme juive…


Page 10

J’avais peur que le chat du rabbin n’ait plus rien à dire mais, rassurez-vous, Sfar a plus d’un tour dans son sac. Grâce à un judicieux retour en arrière le félin philosophe retrouve toute sa verve. Il récapitule d’abord l’histoire du chat, et donc l’album est un peu lent à partir, mais dès la page quarante-six c’est le début du véritable récit. J’aime bien l’écriture de Sfar qui aborde des sujets difficiles avec humour. Il y a toujours quelques bon gags dans ses albums. J’adore l’épisode où, tant bien que mal, le rabbin essai de donner son sermon à la synagogue et ses ouailles n’arrêtent pas de l’interrompre: “C’est vrai peut-être que les juifs c’est les meilleurs pour raconter les histoires juives. Mais raconter une histoire juive à des juifs, pardon, mais c’est la croix.” 

J’avais trouvé les derniers albums un peu décevants mais celui-ci nous offre à nouveau un récit fort, intéressant, intriguant et divertissant. Par contre, j’ai toujours des réserves quand au style de Sfar, caractérisé par les planches à six cases (il s’y tient les trois-quart de l’album), son dessin ondulant qui donne aux planches une apparence un peu brouillonne et criarde, de même que le texte des bulles parfois difficile à déchiffrer. Mais, bon, c’est son style: avec le temps on s’y habitue et ce n’est plus une distraction. Ses histoires sont suffisamment enrichissantes et amusantes pour qu’on lui pardonne cet écart.

Comme toujours (et même plus) c’est une excellente lecture. À lire absolument, surtout pour les amateurs de chats et de métaphysique! Et Sfar nous annonce déjà un dixième album intitulé “Retournez chez vous!”

Le chat du rabbin, 9: La Reine de Shabbat, par Joann Sfar. Paris: Dargaud (Coll. Poisson Pilote), octobre 2019. 76 pages. 22.5 x 29.8 cm, 15,00 € / $C 26.95, ISBN 978-2205-07950-0. Pour lectorat adolescent (12 ans et plus). stars-4-0

Vous trouverez plus d’information sur les sites suivants:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

© Dargaud 2019.

Voir aussi mes commentaires sur les volumes précédents:

chat-rabbin-tome-1-bar-mitsva chat-rabbin-2-malka-lions chat-rabbin-3-exode chat-rabbin-4-paradis-terrestre
chat-rabbin-5-jerusalem-d-afrique chat_du_rabbin_6-cov Chat_du_Rabbin-v7-cov ChatDuRabbin08-cov

[ Translate ]

They called us enemy

They-Called-Us-EnemyGeorge Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s—and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In a stunning graphic memoir, Takei revisits his haunting childhood in American concentration camps, as one of over 100,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon—and America itself—in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.

[Text from the publisher’s site; see also the backcover]

The second season of the TV series The Terror, subtitled Infamy, was set in a Japanese-American internment camp around old Japanese ghost stories. It was quite interesting (stars-3-5). George Takei, of Star Trek fame, who had experienced the camps in his childhood, was asked to be a consultant and, since he is also an actor, to be a member of the cast. He incorporated a lot of his own experience into the TV series. This comic memoir, where Takei recounts the whole traumatic experience of the internment camps, could be a good companion book to the TV series.


The storytelling is excellent as it not only chronicles the daily life of his family inside the camp, how he felt as a four-year-old and what was the impact on his later life, but it also tells us of the journey that brought him to want to share this story. However, if it is presented has a book for all ages, it should probably more appropriately targets a teenage readership as the story is very serious, with references to policies and politics that kids would probably not understand.

The artwork is generally nice but often a little crude and simplistic with an overuse of screentone to add shades and textures. The story would have been better served by a more professional graphic style. However, this look was probably chosen to make the book feel more accessible.

Overall, it is a very interesting comics about an important (but little known) part of American history that should be a mandatory reading in civics or history classes all over America. A must (particularly now).

They called us enemy, co-written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker. Marietta: Top Shelf Comics (imprint of IDW Publishing), July 2019. 208 pages, 6.5 x 19 in, $US 19.99 / $C 25.99. ISBN 978-1-60309-450-4. For teenage readers (12+). stars-3-5

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 2019 George Takei

[ Traduire ]


Jour du souvenir

Souvenons-nous de quoi, au juste ?
Que de chair à cannon il a fallut servir…
Pour les intérêts d’un empire mourant ?

Qu’on nous avait promis que ce serait…
Une guerre pour qu’il n’y en ait plus jamais ?
Que pour les autres on meure vaillamment…
Mais refusons d’agir pour assurer l’avenir ?

Moi, j’oublierais volontiers ces temps injuste !


[ Translate ]