Sunset worshippers

Where I live on the Italian west coast, near Rome, there is a beach bar. It is one of my three favourite bars in the whole world.

It is nothing more than a shack on the beach, but they have a tradition of celebrating sunsets.

They have a sound system spread over the beach, which envelops people into the wave of the music.

People, young and old, gather here every day, to celebrate the day, and the sunset closing the day.

Each day starting in spring and ending in late fall, people gather here by sunset, up to 1,000 people or more.

As the sun is setting, the music fades out, for a while. And as the last sun rays break through, this music plays in a daily tradition.

People stop talking, and stand up, holding hands, and look at the sunset, listening to the music, surrounded by the sound and sight of the last sun rays.

At the moment the sun disappears, every day, a guy comes up and gently hits a massive gong, while everyone applauds when the last rays break through. They applaud for one more day gone, one more sun gone, celebrating the sun set.

Remembering the day that went by, and thinking of the days that are still to come.

Celebrating what has been, and what is still to come. Celebrating love and the things that matter

Celebrating the sunset.

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UNESCO: Not exactly "Greening the Blue" - an open letter

Open letter to Irina Bokova, Director General UNESCO, Paris.

Dear Ms Bokova,

I attended a scientific conference - on climate change, above all - at UNESCO in July. I was very surprised that UNESCO does not have an up to date recycling policy, nor any infrastructure to separate recyclable waste and have it processed/disposed of. I could not find any bins to separate plastics, metal waste or clearly marked paper-only bins.

And that in the midst of a "Greening the Blue" campaign within the UN ( ), and good common sense and practice for all citizens, leave along UN staff.

I also take note of your "Staff Guide to Greening UNESCO" which urges your HQ staff to...:
"use your own bags to collect bottles, cans, wrappers, etc. Then carry them home for recycling in the designated yellow or white bins"

This might have been ok in the 60's, but, dear Ms Bokova, we are 2015, where any UN organization should show the lead in environmental protection, recycling and green-living awareness. Especially UNESCO.

I am very much looking forward to your answer on this, which will be published.


Peter Casier
Retired UN staff.

Officially, this is what Ms Bokova states on UNESCO's commitment to "Greening the UN":

"Limiting climate change requires a change of deep-rooted behaviours and a collective effort involving every individual. UNESCO promotes sustainability and is examining critically its greenhouse gas emissions so as to reduce the Organisation's carbon footprint."

As far as I am concerned: one needs to put his/her money where his/her mouth is. And UNESCO does not. Much bla-bla but no boum-boum, where UNESCO should lead by example.

Picture: A general waste bin at UNESCO headquarters in Paris (July 2015)... No recycling nor separating recycable wasts... In the year "2015-2015", as the song goes.

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As said in an earlier post, there is something to be said to define the border between press freedom, freedom of expression and just plain human decency.

In their recent post, Charlie Hebdo crossed the border, in my book.

Imagine it was one of your kids, and they would make fun of their death, their drowning...

As one person commented on my Facebook stream: "If death (of a child) is the subject of satire, what kind of humans are we?"

Sorry, Charlie Hebdo, but "#jenesuispluscharlie". Shame on you!

To put it more bluntly: Fuck you, Charlie Hebdo,.. May you rot in hell.

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Another view on our expedition to Heard Island

An excellent video by my friend James Brooks about our 1997 expedition to Heard Island in the Antarctic.

This video draws an excellent parallel between our expedition and the first scientific expedition in 1947, 50 years before ours. It features some unique historic perspective and old film footage.

The video was made in broadcast quality, geared for commercial TV stations.

Another video about this expedition, geared for the radio amateur public can be viewed here.
If you are interested in expeditions to really remote locations all over the world, check out James' other videos.


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#jesuischarlie, or not?

Nothing justifies curtailing the freedom of expression, press freedom, nor the killing of journalists. Nothing justifies the slaughtering of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and journalists.

But there is something to be said about tolerance and acceptance of other cultures.

If I look through some of the previous Charlie Hebdo cartoons (and I purposely did not publish any here, but look here and here), I hesitate between freedom of expression and the right to insult purposely.

We have the right to a freedom of expression, but I think nothing justifies intentionally insulting other cultures nor religions.

That is my take on it.

Cartoon courtesy David Pope

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The Afghan Quarterback

The coach had put together the perfect team for the Chicago Bears. The only thing that was missing was a good quarterback. He had scouted all the colleges and even the Canadian and European Leagues, but he couldn't find a ringer who could ensure a Super Bowl win.

Then one night while watching CNN he saw a war-zone scene in Afghanistan. In one corner of the background, he spotted a young Afghan soldier with a truly incredible arm. He threw a hand-grenade straight into a 15th story window 100 yards away. -KABOOM!

He threw another hand-grenade 75 yards away, right into a chimney. -KA-BLOOEY!

Then he threw another at a passing car going 90 mph. -BULLS-EYE!

"I've got to get this guy!" Coach said to himself. "He has the perfect arm!"

So, he brings him to the States and teaches him the great game of football. And the Bears go on to win the Super Bowl.

The young Afghan is hailed as the great hero of football, and when the coach asks him what he wants, all the young man wants is to call his mother.

"Mom," he says into the phone, "I just won the Super Bowl!"

"I don't want to talk to you, the old Muslim woman says. "You are not my son!"

"I don't think you understand, Mother," the young man pleads. "I've won the greatest sporting event in the world. I'm here among thousands of my adoring fans."

"No! Let me tell you!" his mother retorts. "At this very moment, there are gunshots all around us. The neighborhood is a pile of rubble. Your two brothers were beaten within an inch of their lives last week, and I have to keep your sister in the house so she doesn't get raped!" The old lady pauses, and then tearfully says,

"I will never forgive you for making us move to Chicago!

With thanks to TGIF-Jeff!

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