Welcome to my Blog - Ruud Leeuw

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Welcome to my Blog!The lion roars!!!
I hope to share here my irrepressible thoughts on news, music, books, arts and such like. In general these will be items, events and issues which I feel have no place on my website (which focusses on aviation history and my travel photography).

The item immediately below this would be the latest posting.

Anybody, providing he knows how to be amusing, has the right to talk about himself. - Charles Baudelaire
Esse est percipi (To be is to be perceived) ¬Bishop George Berkeley

Not even I understand everything I am ¬Aurelius Augustinus of Hippo

In 2013 I started a series of photo albums on Blurb.com, named '36Exp' (a subject adressed in 36 exposures, a reference to the exposures on most common rolls of 35 mm film: 12, 24 & 36.).
The books can be ordered directly from the Blurb.com website or Amazon.




Next of Kin - ITV series (2018)

Next Of Kin (2018) is a British crime drama series produced by ITV. It was first broadcast in january 2018.

GP Mona Shirani (Archie Panjabi), of Pakistani Background, lives in Londen with her husband Guy Harcourt (Jack Davenport), a political lobbyist. She has a young son Sammi and her mother lives in with them.
Life is brutally disrupted when her brother, who works as a volunteer in a medical practise in Lahore, Pakistan, is murdered by religious fanatics.
Mona's brother and student Danish ('Danny') has travelled in secrecy to Pakistan to enroll in a Madrasa (educational institution). His mother had payed for his air ticket but they kept it from the rest of the family.
At the same time as Mona's brother Kareem is murdered there is also a terrorist attack in London. More terror is expected and investigations lead to involvement of Danny.
Secrets come to light and while at first Mona and Guy are also under suspicion of involvement. Mona transferred UKL 12.000 to Danny from Guy's account for a deal to get Danny back home, to England. Suspected of sponsoring terrorism'. Thus Mona becomes involved in the ensuing investigation but was required to sign the official secrets act and this leads to a rift between Mona and Guy plus the other family members are confused and frustrated in all developments.
A very entertaining 6 episodes.




Japan through the Looking Glass by Alan MacFarlane
Japan Through the Looking Glass: Shaman to Shinto (2007)

In 2018 I visited Japan (links below) and while I enjoyed the many aethetics as subjects for my camera, I was also confused (even disappointed) for the lack of charme in many ways, the cash culture in the street (backwardness in modern society), excessive artificiality permeating customs and behavior.

Recently in Aberdeen's Waterstone bookshop I came across this book: 'Japan Through the Looking Glass'.
It is a study of Japan: its culture, religions, ideas, way of life, way of thinking.
After reading it I was (almost) just as confused for the gap in understanding is enormous, but much is explained or traced back in Japanese history.
Obvious comparisons are made with western (USA and the UK, also an island) life and culture, but China and other Asian countries don't come close either.

Alan MacFarlane is the author of several anthropological and historical books and articles on England, Nepal, China and Japan.
His interest in Japan began in 1990 when offered a visiting scholarship to Japan. Since then MacFarlane has visited Japan on multiple occations, and have developed friendships with several colleagues in Japan.
The book is a result of these trips, his constant searching and probing, as well as through his friendships there.

This book explores the Japanese people and traces the cause of customs and behavior. The reasoning are sometimes confusing but they can also be logical. A warning is stated: do not dissect Japan because it will fall apart. The sum and the total is very relevant to the Japanese.
The author adresses subjects like (a.o.) wealth, power, ideas and beliefs.
Something I found quite revealing was how the identity of the individual mirrors the relationship with 'the other' (visitor, group, relative, colleague, superior); and thus the identity of 'itself' changes. So much energy goes into these relations and communication (talk, writing, body language, presents, custom and many other forms). This is a grand cause of 'the gap' in understanding.

I like how the Japanes culture accepts certain foreign influences (e.g.religions, capitalism) but is only allowed to fit in, not to change too much of Japanese culture and custom.
The Japanese don't experience loss of face as much as the Chinese and they don't have the same enduring reverence for releatives in the afterlife. Shinto is not a religion such as christianity or buddhism and there is no struggle good versus bad (karma, hellfire).

I now understand that my frustration while walking the streets of Japan was due to lack of understanding and I hope to visit Japan again with new perspective. It will probably serve me well to read this book again!

Alan Donald James Macfarlane FBA FRHistS (b.20Dec1941 in Shillong, Meghalaya, India) is an anthropologist, a historian and a Professor Emeritus of King's College, Cambridge.
He is the author or editor of 20 books and numerous articles on the anthropology and history of England, Nepal, Japan and China. He has focused on comparative study of the origins and nature of the modern world.

My 2018 visit to Japan PAGE 1 + PAGE 2 + PAGE 3 + PAGE 4



Slot Loevestein (Castle)

Slot Loevestein (Castle)

Slot Loevestein (Castle)
Castle Loevestein's claim to fame: Hugo de Groot made his escape in a book chest.

Slot Loevestein (Castle)

The castle was built by the knight Dirc Loef van Horne (hence "Loef's stein" (stone) house) between 1357 and 1397. Until World War II Loevestein Castle was part of the Hollandic Water Line, the main Dutch defense line that was based on flooding a large area of land south and east of the western provinces.
Currently the castle is used as a medieval museum and function centre.

From 1619 the castle became a prison for political prisoners. One famous inmate was the eminent lawyer, poet and politician Hugo de Groot (Hugo Grotius) often presented as the "father of modern international law", who was serving a controversially imposed life sentence from 1619.
In 1621, his wife Maria van Reigersberch, who was also staying at the castle, hid with him in a book chest that was regularly brought for them.

en.wikipedia.org:_Dutch_Water_Line (Hollandse Water Linie)
More impressions of this visit on Flickr.com



Annie M.G. Schmidt - Simpele zielen en nog wat

I must confess I had never read a book by this writer prior to this (my translation) 'Simple minds and other stuff') though she stands out in Dutch culture, an icon no less.
Annie M. G. Schmidt (often referred to simplie as "Annie MG") wrote in the 1950s (!) these weekly contributions for the newspaper Het Parool. Columns we would call them these days.
They were light of nature, personal but reflected the actuality and realities of those days.
Problems seemed smaller, the planet was apparently not on the brink of destruction. The horizon was closer to home. The columns remain surpringly 'fresh' and enjoyable to this day.

She wrote poetry, songs, books, plays, musicals and radio and television drama for adults; she's also
well-known for children's books. I knew of her from the tv-series I watched in the 1960s.

The columns in this booklet reflect the first part of the 1950s and I thought them very readable, not moldy at all. For a large part due to the wry humor drawn from the pen of Annie M.G.
Fore those interested in nostalgia, the columns date from september 1950 to december 1955.
The books ends with a mother, Marie, writing to her daughter emigrated to Australia 14 letters with the heading `Lieve Lientje. Marie is a woman of modest means and a limited view on life outside her own, one of many in those days I presume for life was much different 70 years ago.

The humour of Annie Schmidt is both refreshing as well as a little cynical. I was pleased to finally have read something by her who  stems from the days of 'before my time'.

Anna Maria Geertruida 'Annie' Schmidt (b.20May1911 - d.21May1995) was a Dutch writer.
She has been referred to as the mother of the Dutch theatrical song and and the queen of Dutch children's literature,. She has been praised for her "delicious Dutch idiom" and is considered to be one of the greatest Dutch writers.
She used euthanasia a day after her 84th birthday.
An ultimate honour was extended to her posthumously, in 2007, when a group of Dutch historians compiled the ' Canon of Dutch History' and included Schmidt, alongside national icons such as Vincent van Gogh and Anne Frank. However, the Canon I understand is under review this year or the next and Annie's window to Dutch society may lose its place in this 'Canon' for another person.




Midnight Sun - tv-series

Midnight Sun - tv-series

Midnight Sun - tv-series

Midnight Sun - tv-series

Midnight Sun (French: Jour polaire, Swedish: Midnattssol) is a Swedish-French crime television series which aired for one season on 'Sveriges Television' on 2016.
As 'Midnight Sun', the series debuted on Australia's SBS on 12Jan17. I watched it from a Lumiere dvd boxset.

Anders Harnesk (Gustaf Hammarsten) and Kahina Zadi (Leïla Bekhti) are the two main protagonists. The pair investigate the rather cruel and staged death of a French national in the far north of Sweden, near Kiruna. It is the first in a series of mysterious, ritualistic killings.
A large part of the town community seems to hide a common secret. Another plotline is about the Sámi people, a minority, they are being looked down upon; their culture and discrimination is woven into the story line, including a shaman and young activists standing up for their way of life.

Kahina is from the French OCRVP, sent to a country alien to her, colliding with Sámi way of life while she is also dealing with a teenage son, looking for answers, showing up in her life and opening unhealed traumas. Kahina originates from a Berber background, got herself pregnant at the age of 15 and her son was brought up by her mother while he was told that Kahina was his sister who went away; until he found out about the truth.
Anders is not a policeman but rather the District Attorney; however the investigating inspector dies on the job and Anders is requested to take charge of the investigation as the local constabulary is understaffed. Anders is seperated from his wife and has his 16 year old daughter visiting for the summer; he is summoning up the courage to tell her he is gay and in a relationship.
The serial killer is found to be working down a list of 22 people, a motive remains unclear and no one of the potential victims comes forward for feeling threatened: the 22 have all something to hide?

I quite liked the series, esspecially the role of Gustaf Hammersten. Leïla Bekhti played a dramatic role close to the edge of overdramatizing (to my taste). The scenery, with the contrasting humongous mine, is magnificent.




Robert Frank passed on (Sep.2019)

Robert Frank, the Swiss-American photographer and filmmaker, died on September 9, 2019 at the age
of 94.
Frank's work in the mid-20th century United States - including his seminal 1958 book 'The Americans' - helped define his legacy as a nuanced, uncompromising, and at times controversial artist.

In 1949, the new editor of Camera magazine, Walter Laubli (1902–1991), published a substantial portfolio of Jakob Tuggener pictures made at upper-class entertainments and in factories, alongside the work of the 25 year-old Frank who had just returned to his native Switzerland after two years abroad, with pages including some of his first pictures from New York. The magazine promoted the two as representatives of the 'new photography' of Switzerland.

Tuggener was a role model for the younger artist, first mentioned to him by Frank's boss and mentor, Zurich commercial photographer Michael Wolgensinger (1913–1990) who understood that Frank was unsuited to the more mercenary application of the medium. Tuggener, as a serious artist who had left the commercial world behind, was the "one Frank really did love, from among all Swiss photographers," according to Guido Magnaguagno and Fabrik, as a photo book, was a model for Frank's Les Américains ('The Americans') published ten years later in Paris by Delpire, in 1958.[7]

He soon left to travel in South America and Europe. He created another hand-made book of photographs that he shot in Peru, and returned to the U.S. in 1950. That year was momentous for Frank, who, after meeting Edward Steichen, participated in the group show 51 American Photographers at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); he also married fellow artist Mary Frank née Mary Lockspeiser, with whom he had two children, Andrea and Pablo.[8]

Though he was initially optimistic about the United States' society and culture, Frank's perspective quickly changed as he confronted the fast pace of American life and what he saw as an overemphasis on money. He now saw America as an often bleak and lonely place, a perspective that became evident in his later photography.




Treasures from the Golden Age of cartography (2019)

Treasures from the Golden Age of cartography

Treasures from the Golden Age of cartography

Treasures from the Golden Age of cartography

Treasures from the Golden Age of cartography

Treasures from the Golden Age of cartography

Yesterday made a fine visit to The Royal Palace of Amsterdam in Amsterdam (Dutch: 'Koninklijk Paleis van Amsterdam' or 'Paleis op de Dam').
It is one of 3 palaces in the Netherlands which are at the disposal of the monarch by Act of Parliament. It is situated on the west side of Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam.
The opportunity arose through an fine exhibition on cartography during the Dutch 'Golden Age' (17th century).
The exhibition was excellent but we stood in awe of the opulence of the Royal Palace.

The palace was built as a city hall during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. The building became the royal palace of King Louis Napoleon and later of the Dutch Royal House.

More on www.flickr.com



Keep Faith, British tv-series (crime drama)

'Keep Faith'  is a Welsh tv drama which returned to BBC One on 23Jul19 . This is the 2nd series.
I was a little confused at first, doing my best grasp the plot without the benefit of having watched the 1st series.
Eve Myles plays the role of the titular Faith Howells, partner in a law firm and mother of three.
I don't remember her from the Broadchurch series, allegedly Faith is her finest screen role to date.

I found it a handicap not to have watched the first series of Keep Faith, struggling with why her husband was in jail (also partner in the same law firm of which his father Tom seemed to be the founder).
Faith is blackmailed by Gael, boss of a trucking company, suspected of trafficking and money laundering.
While plotlines of the first series continue into the 2nd series, the conviction of the wife of a farmer with land development ambitions is the murder plot; she is supposed to have her husband killed with a shotgun.
Gael (Anastasia Hille) is suspected to have obstructed the development plans and meddled in farmer William's marriage and bribed a city official to obstructed the development plans.
Faith is blackmailed to play a part in a company takeover planned by Gael, vital for her money laundering schemes. She is connected to an Irish criminal network.

A body is found half buried in the dunes and a suicide also plays a role. Inspector Breeze (Rhashan Stone) from London finds it hard to uncover the truth, being lied to by about everybody involved. He in turns uses blackmail to obtain cooperation by Evan, Faith' husband released from jail on parole, and Faith.
Steve (Mark Lewis Jones), a truckdriver in Gael's company with an agenda of his own, holds a candle for Faith.

Faith is supported by Cerys (Hannah Daniel) in the murder inquiry of the farmer. Cerys is much more objective than Faith, who is all over the place emotionally most of the time. Cerys also has dealings on the side, obscured from the law firm.
Evan (Bradley Freegard) pulls all kind of strings from jail and remains in a secret relationships with Gael.
There is much drama concerning the 3 children of Faith, their safety threatened by an unscrupulous Gael.

I watched all 6 episodes but missing the first series was a handicap and drama involving Faith too often ended in hysterics, a bit too much for me. I don't think I am keen to watch a 3rd series (if and when).



Dirt Meridian by Andrew Moore, photography

Dirt Meridian by Andrew Moore, photography

Dirt Meridian by Andrew Moore, photography

Dirt Meridian by Andrew Moore, photography

Dirt Meridian by Andrew Moore, photography

No longitude in the United States carries the weight of the 100th Meridian. It’s the dividing line that bisects the US contient almost exactly in half between the green fertile east and arid lands of the west.
These days it remains most commonly known as 'Flyover Country'.

Photographer Andrew Moore brings this land to life in 'Dirt Meridian'.
Having worked this line since 2005, Moore combines aerial and traditional large-format photography to depict the restrained terrain and mixes in the stories of families defiantly connected to the challenging landscape along the area west of the 100th Meridian in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.
While I found my favourite and most beautiful photo among the aerial images, in a general sense I prefer the ground shots with people portrayed.

'Dirt Meridian' is in part about the legacy of the settler’s ambition and failure on these arid high plains, as well as the evolving story of this region of the country.
In a time when climate change, drought and energy exploration are increasingly at the forefront of national concerns, the book speaks of a land subject to extreme weather conditions, where water and resources have always been scarce.

To capture the expanse of the landscape Moore took to the air in a low-flying plane, using a specially modified, extremely high-resolution digital camera mounted under the wing.
His pilot, Doug Dean, flew close to the ground, maintaining the relation with the landscape, which we lose when flying in an airliner high above the ground.
From above we still register the details: sand, tumbleweed, turkey, bunch stem, buffalo, meadow, cow, rick of hay, creek, sunflower, sand, et cetera. A house, a windmill or a barn seem driftwood in a sea or ocean. The landscape has a relentless timelessness while we see man-made structures as tolerated or bound for inevitable decay.

Photography: Andrew Moore
Pilot: Doug Dean
Preface ​by ​Kent​ Haruf.
Text ​by ​Toby​ Jurovics,​ Inara​ Verzemnieks




My Soul to Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

'My Soul to Take' is #2 in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series, by Yrsa Sigurdardottir.
Like her first novel, 'Last Rituals' (discussed MyBlog 2019Q2), Icelandic writer Sigurdottir's 2nd book also features attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir; she starts to grow on me, Arnaldur Indridason still my no.1 Icelandic crime author, Yrsa is not far behind.

This time, Thora finds herself representing the eccentric, dope-smoking owner of a new-age health resort when he becomes prime suspect for the murder of the architect who converted his property.
Thora is involved because Jonah, the wellness resort owner, wants to renege on the recent purchase of a farm because he is convinced the place is haunted and the previous owners must have known. Since Thora sees obvious difficulties in settling this dispute she accepts a weekend free of charge in the resort for fact finding while succumbing to some luxurious relaxation! When the police come for Jonah he requests her council in this matter too and Thora loves a mystery.

The place, originally a farm in a remote area of Iceland, is not only haunted but Gudmundsdottir's investigations turn up some very nasty secrets. All kinds of nasty business between relations surface: adultery, an illegitimate child, multiple murders and even the Nazis seem to have played a role.

The style of writing is pleasantly meandering, Thora works her curiosity around the police investigations and Matthew, the German lawyer and lover from 'The Last Rituals', is over for a friendly visit and their chemistry adds romance and humor.
The farms, burned down sheds, stones with mysterious verses, a baby repeated crying in the dense fog: it's all portrayed wonderfully atmospheric.

Gudmundsdottir has a wry sense of humour, keeping her children and her ex-husband at arms length, giving priority to her investigations even while her son's fifteen year old girlfriend may deliver a baby at any moment (making her a grandmother!).

Entertaining crime novel, although at times I had some difficulty remembering the who-is-who for the complicated relations and Icelandic names. But certainly recommended reading.
Not all crime fiction novels by Yrsa Sigurdardottir have as the main protagonist Thora Gudmundsdottir, such as The Legacy (with detective Huldar and child psychologist Freya) - which is equally compelling (maybe even more so: MyBlog2020Q3)


Other books by Yrsa S. on my blog:
2019Q2 - Last Rituals + 2016Q3 - The Undesired + 2016Q4 - Someone To Watch Over Me + 2018Q4 - The Day is Dark.



Public Enemy tv-series

Public Enemy tv-series

Public Enemy tv-series

Public Enemy (French: Ennemi Public) is a Belgian French-language crime thriller based loosely on the Marc Dutroux case.
The 10-part first season aired on La Une in Belgium from 1 May to 29 May 2016 and the series has been renewed for a 2nd season.

Convicted serial child killer Guy Béranger is released after serving 20 years in prison. Hated by the public, Béranger takes refuge in a remote monastery where a lone police officer, Chloe Muller, is sent to guard him.
When a local girl goes missing, tensions quickly rise in the community.
Chloe is still suffering from a trauma caused by the disappearance of her younger sister when they were children. Her past has a bearing on the present; Béranger claims he can help her find her sister Jessica but she fears Béranger is trying to influence her for his own gain.
The arrival of the child killer is a stain on the image of the village, it jeopardizes the local funding of a beer brewing initiative set up by the owner to save his tavern and would also save the abbey because their source of income, had-made furniture, has all but dried up.
The community is convinced Béranger needs to go and emotions run high, even to the point men are prepared to take up arms to kill him and bury him somewhere in the woods.
At some point Chloe is the last line of defense for Béranger, while having no sympathy for him she is convinced he can't be the culprit they are after. Even the local police chief Michael Charlier who supported her search for a long time, abandons her, convinced she is chasing ghosts caused by her trauma.




Collapse by Jared Diamond - how societies choose to fail or survive
'How Societies Choose To Fail Or Survive'

Every other year or so I come across a non-fiction book that has a huge impact on me, for the subject(s) adressed and/or the way it was written. 'Collapse' is such a book, both for the subject as well as the clear style of writing.

In Collapse, Jared Diamond first defines collapse: "a drastic decrease in human population size and/or political/economic/social complexity, over a considerable area, for an extended time."
He then reviews the causes of historical and pre-historical instances of societal collapse—particularly those involving significant influences from environmental changes, the effects of climate change, hostile neighbors, trade partners, and the society's response to the foregoing four challenges—and considers the success or failure different societies have had in coping with such threats.
'Choose' should be read here as countries / societies haven taken the wrong options or chosen to ignore changes and taking appropriate measures.

Considering the astonishing cavalcade of different peoples and cultures from across the planet adressed here, I was constantly amazed by the clarity of the author.

Soo what caused some of these societies (such as the Mayan civilisation or the people of Easter Island) to collapse, while others facing similar challenges managed to survive? And what can we learn from history here?
Was it simply a straightforward abuse of their physical environment that precipitated their demise?
Gradually we see to be a lot more complex, with several equally influential factors involved. Not surprisingly we see climate change as a severe contributing factor but also the presence of hostile neighbours, any involvement in trade, and a host of different response mechanisms on the part of those facing potential collapse.
Each collapse or near-collapse throws up a different balance of those key factors. Jared Diamond slowly unravels the knots and manages to paint a clear picture.

Diamond is at pains to stress the objectivity he has brought to bear on a sequence of collapse scenarios that often continue to generate serious controversy.
This pursuit of objectivity drives him into a depth of detail, and sometimes repetition, that at times the reader may find disrupting the narrative but for me, much less of an expert nor of an academic background, that same repetition helped me to keep the narrative.

The diversity of the case studies he uses (both past and present) is extraordinary.
Ranging from the highlands of New Guinea to the Pitcairn and Henderson Islands, from Greenland and Iceland to Rwanda and the Maya, from Haiti and the Dominican Republic to the US southwest and China - with many an additional stop-off in between.
His starting point is close to home: Montana. Also for me, having done some holiday travelling there.
While not yet collapsed the telling warning signs are there and Jared Diamond himself witnessed the changes over decennia; we see gloomy clouds gathering, over the farming community, the environment. Causes and concerns are elaborated on.

The next chapter is more exotic and drastic: Easter Island ("the clearest example of a society that destroyed itself by overexploiting its own resources"), which he invites the reader to see as a "metaphor,
a worst-case scenario for what may lie ahead of us in our own future".
The ways and amount of research the author quotes from is truly astounding and he breaks it down to layman terms of understanding without being patronizing.

For those interested in the role of big business, Diamond devotes a whole chapter to examining the behaviour of oil, mining and forestry companies around the world. Again he steers well away from an accusatory tone, mentions 'sinners' and ' saints', expands on his own experiences in Papua New Guinea for both the good and the bad.
He is also realistic about consumer's behaviour and interest.
My favourite chapters were about Montana, Iceland and Greenland, the Anasazi, Dominican Republic versus Haiti, Chnia and 'Mining' Australia. But also the pages he wrote about the Puffins, smaller 'fun facts' relating to the subject (a.o. I have visited Farne Islands a.k.a. 'Puffin Island').

Diamond reserves his most insightful analysis for the more 'irrational' reasons why we are not as yet responding to the scale and urgency of today's converging environmental problems.
While the book dates from 2005 it even has greater actuality and urgency today.

There is the pursuit of short-term gratification and the defence of future generations' long-term interests.
He reminds people that we are already witnessing the conditions for collapse in a number of different countries: "Just as in the past, countries that are environmentally stressed, overpopulated, or both, become at risk of getting politically stressed, and of their governments collapsing.
When people are desperate, undernourished and without hope, they blame their governments, which they see as responsible for or unable to solve their problems. They try to emigrate at any cost.
Note the USA versus immigrants today as well as Europe dealing with the flow of immigrants crossing the Mediterranean.
We may see further escalations, displaced or stricken people fighting each other over land, they start
civil wars. They figure that they have nothing to lose, so they become terrorists, or they support or tolerate terrorism.

Interestingly, however, Diamond chooses not to conclude his arguments on that apocalyptic note. Reverting to the inference of his subtitle ("how societies choose to fail or survive"), he briefly reviews the intriguing history of the Netherlands, the country with the highest level of environmental awareness and membership of environmental organisations anywhere in the world.
One-fifth of the total land mass of the Netherlands is below sea level, reclaimed from the sea over centuries, and protected by a complex system of dykes and pumping operations. These reclaimed lands are called 'polders' and the Dutch have a clear sense of themselves as "all down in the polders together - we've learned throughout history that we're all living in the same polder, and that our survival depends on each other's survival".
This is a country that has chosen to avoid collapse through a combination of solidarity and smart engineering.

Jared Mason Diamond (b.10Sep1937) is an American geographer, anthropologist, historian, and author best known for his popular science books The Third Chimpanzee (1991); Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997, awarded a Pulitzer Prize); Collapse (2005); and The World Until Yesterday (2012). Originally trained in physiology, Diamond is known for drawing from a variety of fields, including anthropology, ecology, geography, and evolutionary biology.
He is a professor of geography at UCLA.




Never too many books



Below The Surface (series 1)

'Below the Surface' (Danish: Gidseltagningen) is a Danish action hostage thriller drama tv-series.
The 8 episodes focuses on an act of terrorism committed on the Copenhagen Metro, where 15 people are taken hostage.
Former soldier Philip Nørgaard (Johannes Lassen), who is head of the PET Terror Task Force, tries to save the hostages with help from members of his elite team.
The basis for the series was adapted from a series of conversations between Barfoed and Danish photographer Daniel Rye, who lived as a hostage within the terrorist organisation of Islamic State in Syria for more than a year.

Philip still suffers from a trauma caused by the 6 months he was held hostage in Afghanistan; gradually we learn about the circumstances. He thinks he recognizes one of the hostage takers by an expression,
but officials insist his Afghan torturer died in a drone attack.
While the three terrorists have demanded a ransom for the release, other reasons seem to exist too. Their deed is connected to events in the Helmand province. All three show military skills and are well armed; their preparations are impeccable. Also, they have accomplices above ground..
Naja Toft (Parika Steen) is a blogging journalist and the terrorists do their communications through her. They know the government don't pay ransom to terrorists, but through the journalist a crowdfunding is started to meet the demands in order to free the hostages.
We learn about several hostages, not all survive. The ending has, true to form, an unexpected twist.
Each episode shows unexpected plot changes and often end in a cliffhanger... It is hard to stop watching, each ending compelling to watch another episode!
Top quality 'scandi-noir'!

The second season premiered on 26Mar19 in Denmark. See my review on BLOG-2019Q4.




Bulletproof, crime fiction tv-series

Bulletproof, crime fiction tv-series

Bulletproof is a British television drama series, created by and starring Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters, that was first broadcast on Sky One, on 15May2018.
The series follows National Crime Agency (NCA) detectives, and best friends, Aaron Bishop (Clarke) and Ronnie Pike Jr. (Walters). They investigate some of the country's most dangerous criminals, including traffickers, drug dealers and armed robbers, whilst being overseen by their boss Sarah Tanner (Lindsey Coulson).
Walters and Clarke commented to Deadline Hollywood that the series was inspired by films such as Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys, quoting that "the humour and funny moments come from the relationships between the characters."
The series opening theme, "All Goes Wrong", was also personally chosen by Clarke and Walters.

The series is fast-paced and much more focussed on entertainment (fast cars, explosions, raids with guns drawn) than an attempt on being realistic or even an interesting mystery plot.
I would say too American rather than British. Barely entertaining to my taste, perhaps 2 stars out of five.




'Bedrieglijke Zaken'

Commissario Guido Brunetti dredges up dark secrets from Italy's anti-Semitic past in his captivating eleventh case.
As usual the location is Venice, Italy and the tone very critical if not condemning of certain aspects of Italy's society: government, burocracy and corruption.

The murder of a young woman draws Commissario Brunetti into buried secrets dating back to WW2.
When one of his wife Paola's students comes to visit him, with a strange and vague interest in investigating the possibility of a pardon for a crime committed by her grandfather many years ago, Commissario Brunetti thinks little of it, beyond being attracted and intrigued by the girl's intelligence
and moral seriousness. But when she is found dead, Claudia Leonardo is suddenly no longer simply Paola's student, but Brunetti's case...
Claudia seems to have no discernible living family - her only familial relationship is with an elderly Austrian woman, who was the lover of her grandfather, but was not herself Claudia's grandmother. Brunetti is both intrigued and stunned by the extraordinary art collection the old woman keeps in her small, unprepossessing flat. When she in turn is found dead, the case seems to be about to open up long buried secrets of collaboration and the exploitation of Italian Jews during the war, secrets few in Italy are happy to explore.

Other titles by Donna Leon are discussed on (a.o.) MyBlog 2015Q1, 2018Q2, 2019Q1, 2019q2, 2020q2.




Deventer Boekenmarkt





Pleasant & rewarding visit to the 'Deventer Boekenmarkt' yesterday!
The annual bookmarket is the largest of Europe, thousands of books for sale at some 850 stalls.
Endless browsing and always good for a few interesting titles.

Most people look for books, others take in the event from one of the many terraces having a drink or snack, a few people take photos. I do all of the above!

My Flickr.com



ENGLAND by Don McCullin
I am so fond of that photo on the left!

ENGLAND by Don McCullin

ENGLAND by Don McCullin

ENGLAND by Don McCullin

ENGLAND by Don McCullin

ENGLAND by Don McCullin

ENGLAND by Don McCullin

ENGLAND by Don McCullin

ENGLAND by Don McCullin
A hidden selfie

Sir Don McCullin's view of England is rooted in his wartime childhood and growing up around Finsbury Park in the 1950s.

'In England' has McCullin combining some of his greatest work with a selection of new photographs.
He continues in the same black and white tradition as he did between foreign assignments for the Sunday Times in the 1960s and 1970s, when his view of a deprived Britain seemed as dark as the conflict zones from which he'd just escaped.
This book marks his return to the cities and landscape he knew as a young photographer.

I shied away from his work for many years, knowing very little of his work beyond his war photography. But since I read his biography Unreasonable Behaviour (MyBlog 2018Q2) and recently acquired his 'Retrospective' (MyBlog 2019Q2) I have become an enthusiastic collector of his work!

Published by Jonathan Cape, Random House UK (2009?)

MyBlog2018Q2 on Unreasonable Behaviour
www.youtube.com - Don McCullin - Looking for England (2019)



Riviera, tv-series
Christos (oldest son), Georgina (2nd wife), Adam (son) and Irina (1st wife)

Riviera, tv-series
Georgina with Robert Carter, Georgina, Constantine and daughter Ada

Riviera is a television drama which premiered on Sky Atlantic on 15June 2017.
Sky Atlantic is a British pay television channel owned by Sky Limited. The channel is primarily dedicated to imported programmes from the United States and holds the domestic rights to HBO and Showtime programming, along with other original series. This series has a distinct American flavor: glamorous women, fast cars, explosions, violence.
Riviera features an international cast: Julia Stiles (Nicky in the Bourne film series), Lena Olin (wonderfully Machiavellian), Adrian Lester, Iwan Rheon, Dimitri Leonidas and Roxane Duran.
The plot, I thought, was good and full of unexpected twists and turns. Unamerican: good guys get hurt
too and no rosy ending, though there is that bit of sailing into the setting sun.

This 1st series (there seems to be a 2nd and 3rd series already) is set in the French Riviera.
Georgina Clios, an American art curator whose life is turned upside down after the death of her billionaire husband Constantine Clios when a big yacht is blown up and all occupants perish.
Constantine with his privately-owned Clios Bank was involved in shady art deals, of which Georgina (Julia) was not aware. His ex wife Irina (Lena) was more aware of how Constantine had acquired his wealth. The 3 children were all raised 'with a silver spoon' while Georgina comes from a modest background; differences show and relations get heated at times.
After Constantine's death the Clios bank sees important clients vanish and she turns to a local godfather of crime and casino owner, whom she knows well, and invites his account to the Clios bank, knowing full well his money is tainted with blood and crime.
There is a Russian twist when it becomes apparent that a computer disk, codenamed Elena, exists with incriminating evidence of an international criminal network with strong Russian connections. It was thought to have gone down with the ship but reappears.
Georgina becomes immersed in a world of lies, double-dealing and crime, as she seeks to uncover the truth about her husband's death.




Informer - BBC crime drama series

Informer - BBC crime drama series

'Informer' is a British television drama series, created for the BBC in 2018.
The six-part (I watched it in 3 parts) series stars Nabhaan Rizwan and Paddy Considine.

Raza (Nabhaan Rizwan) is a young second-generation British Pakistani man from London who is
coerced into informing by Gabe (Paddy Considine), a counterterrorism officer for the fictional Counter-Terrorism Special Unit (CTSU).
Gabriel or 'Gabe' is haunted by his past undercover work for the Met's Special Branch, he struggles to balance his workload with time for his wife and daughter and is not doing too good, esspecially when his past is catching up with his alter ego: Charlie Goodwood.
DS Gabe waters is assisted by DC Holly Morten (Bel Powley); the latter has difficulty dealing with Gabe's attitudes which seems to have a Jekyll and Hyde momentum.
Parallel to the inquiry of a bomb plot there is this inquiry into a coffeeshop shooting, the backflashes we are treated with create a secondary thrilling plot and gradually the drama deepens. While the how and why remains unclear for a very long time, it is clear that Gabe's wife Emily Waters (by Jessica Raine) is
at the scene.
Excellent suspense!




New York - Amsterdam, Retour (Sacha de Boer)

New York - Amsterdam, Retour (Sacha de Boer)

New York - Amsterdam, Retour (Sacha de Boer)

New York - Amsterdam, Retour (Sacha de Boer)

New York - Amsterdam, Retour (Sacha de Boer)

’Retour New York-Amsterdam’ is a book by photographer Sacha de Boer, published in 2009.
A book about Dutch artists in New York and American artists in Amsterdam.
Based on an idea by Sandi Gehring, a fascinating concept.

Amsterdam has a real pull for American artists: various painters, sculptors, photographers and other visual artists call the Dutch capital home.
At the same time, many Dutch artists are drawn to New York.
In this book of photographs and interviews, Sacha de Boer examines 16 expatriate artists and their studios on both sides of the Atlantic. Why did these artists choose to live and work in New York or Amsterdam? What is the special appeal of their adopted cities?
How do these very different cities inspire these foreign artists?
The book includes interviews with Charlotte Dumas, David Lindbergh, Heather Jeltes-Davis, Liselot van der Heijden, Leo de Goede, Sebastiaan Bremer, Karen Birnholz, Betsy Green, Hans Broek and Helen Verhoeven.
The text is both in Dutch as well as in English. English translation is by Jane Hedley-Prole.

Sacha de Boer is a photographer, journalist and former news anchor for the Dutch broadcaster NOS.




Blood Hunt by Ian Rankin - crime fiction novel

This is not an Inspector Rebus novel, but a stand alone thriller novel by Ian Rankin. Originally published under pseudonym Jack Harvey, I believe). In my mind a rather 'run of the mill' novel but even for Mr Rankin it is hard to compete with the police scoundrel Rebus.
I would label it 'average', but the detailed and distinct atmospheric descriptions of the Scottish landscape (and weather!) has Ian Rankin's signature all over it and as an overall story the book is sufficiently entertaining.

We have here Gordon Reeve, ex-SAS soldier, now operating a survival course for weekend warriors on Skivald, a small island off South Uist, Scotland. He lives there with his wife and son Allan. The marriage seems to be progressing so-so but we have to make our own guesses as to why this is. Most likely because Gordon still struggles with PTSD ('red mist') from an assignment in the Falklands War and is less communicative than he should be.
When he receives word that his brother Jim, a freelance journalist in California, has committed suicide, Gordon flies off to San Diego to claim his body. Despite the assurances of local cop Mike McCluskey that Jim did indeed kill himself, Gordon finds too many facts contradictory or down right suspicious and strongly suspects it was murder.
When he follows up on Jim's last assignment he notices he's soon being tailed, hassled and shot at... Also a talk to a driver/fixer temporary assistent of Jim makes his suspicions stronger.
But there is no clear motive for a murder as there is no trace of Jim's research or findings.
While 'Blood Hunt' was published in 1995, the story is very actual because at the core is a global pesticide conspiracy and influence on our food chain.
Thus we get to Co-World Chemicals and its head honch Mr. Kosigin, described as a business man with a very common appearance. And we come the Machiavellian Jeffrey Allerdyce of D.C.'s Alliance Investigation.
Kosigin sends his enforcer to deal with Gordon Reeve and as it turns out he is Gordon's Falklands campaign nemesis, the mercenary Jay.
Outnumbered and hunted Gordon manages to draw Jay and his party of blood hounds back to the Scotish wildlands he knows so well and prepares for the show down. Of course Gordon and Jay are the last men standing and a score can be settled.

Gordon Reeve is a bit too much of an invincible character to my taste, with his SAS military background, secretive friends, truth drug and secret bank stash. Neverthless, an entertaining reading of fiction.




The Flatey Enigma - Icelandic tv crime drama

The Flatey Enigma - Icelandic tv crime drama

The Flatey Enigma - Icelandic tv crime drama

The Flatey Enigma - Icelandic tv crime drama

The Flatey Enigma - Icelandic tv crime drama

The Flatey Enigma - Icelandic tv crime drama
From: online trailer www.mysterytribune.com

Set in 1971, the series follows Jóhanna, a professor of Nordic Studies, returns to an island community from her home in France to bury her father and deal with his estate. She travels with her nine years old son Snorri but is known in the community as an unmarried mother: a taboo in those days.

Her father was retired but worked obsessively on solving a mystery: a medieval manuscript 'Flateyjargátuthe' containing a 600 year old mystery of the last Norse King's grave hidden on one of the many islands, important in Icelandic culture and folklore.
Jóanna is promised a publishing deal if she will share her father's documents who claimed to have solved the mystery.
Except he hasn't!
Jóanna takes it upon herself to resolve this to safeguard her publication.

But then a visiting Danish scientist is murdered on one of the neighbouring islands; he had stolen a document, a map, from Joanna's father upon his visit to the wake, believing it could be where the warlord's grave is. 

The police officer Brynjar is sent from Reykjavik to solve this murder.
Ten years prior to current affairs Brynjar and Jóhanna had been in a relation; he abused her and she left, returning home, fleeing the bullying Brynjar.
When she found out she was pregnant and told her father, he was more concerned with his reputation and sent her back to Brynjar. Instead she ended up in France and never told him he'd become a father of a son.

When Brynjar meets Jóhanna and finds out he (himself from an unloving foster upbringing and craving a family) was unknowingly a father for 10 years, he tries desperately to implicate Jóhanna for the murder and thus claim her son. His unsympathetic character becomes apparent.

The murder seems to be related to the Flateyjargát and Jóhanna makes every effort to find the solution.
It does not help her situation that she is in a relationship with a young photographer, Kjartan; she's labelled a woman with loose morals, an unfit mother and Brynjar becomes very jealous. Stubbornly she refuses to make amend to Brynjar nor the community, but Jóhanna has to face her deepest fear: the man she ran away from ten years ago and his ability to take her son Snorri away from her.

Based on a bestseller by Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson.
Viktor Arnar has twice been the Icelandic nominee for the Glass Key award, which is awarded by Skandinaviska Kriminalselskapet (Crime Writers of Scandinavia). Three of his five novels have been translated into German, and 'Flateyjargáta' was published in English as 'The Flatey Enigma' in February 2012.

Margrét Örnólfsdóttir wrote the scenario of the 4-episode mini-series based on the book; she was also involved in the other Icelandic series 'Prisoners' (Fangar), 'Trapped' and 'Case'. The first two were discussed elsewhere on my blog, including other Icelandic crime series.
First broadcasted in 2018 on Icelandic tv RUV.

Cast (a.o.): Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir (Jóhanna), Stefán Hallur Stefánsson (Brynjar), Hilmir Jensson (Kjartan), Sigurður Sigurjónsson (Grímur Hreppstjóri).

www.mijnserie.nl/the-flatey-enigma/  (NL)



Follow the Money, season 3

Follow the Money, season 3

'Follow the Money' (Danish: Bedrag, 'Fraud') is a Danish financial crime thriller that has now run for three seasons.
The original series, set in the renewable energy business in Denmark, was first broadcast in Denmark in January 2016 with 10 episodes; the 2nd series was broadcast in October-November 2016, which continues the stories of most of the characters from the first series, but the main focus on a bank practising P2P lending and their attempted takeover by a bank whose chair, Knud Christensen, was behind the fraud case investigated in the 1st season.
This 3rd series was first aired in January 2019; it focuses on two of the main characters from the previous series: Alf Rybjerg on the law enforcement side and Nicky Rasmussen on the criminal side of
the fence.
It was (a.o.) broadcasted on BBC Four in the UK from 06Apr2019.

Alf heads a task force to find the kingpin of large illegal hash imports; he suffers from insomnia and resorts to illegal drugs, causing (emotional) side effects. Alf is also in a relationship with the District Attorney, who is married.
Nicky has spent 2 years in Spain and exploits his contacts in Spain to distribute hash in Denmark. He thought he left his wife and baby well provided for, with a stash of drug money, but now finds she has handed over the money to the police, collapsed mentally and taken into care while their son went to relatives for foster care.
Nicky is determined to become a proper father for his son Milas, but his business keeps getting in the way.

There is a 3rd important character at play here: bank clerk Anna Hansen is asked by her husband Soren to release a loan which is blocked for suspected money laundering. She gets passed by promotion to branch manager after 24 years of faithful work and is bitter; she approves the loan and this leads to more money laundering deals and she finds she is good at it. She also likes the rewards.

Alf is contacted bij the Chief of Police, who helps him when Alf needs to bypass his superior. But the Chief has an agenda of his own and Alf finds the special (secret) relationship has strings attached.
Nicky gets into a relationship with Sahar, who is good with his son Milas, but she does not approve of Nicky's business (they follow the same business course).

For some reason it was Nicky that I had the most sympathy with.
Ten episodes of conflict, personal dramas, a flood of crime and hardened criminals, an innocent victim, corruption in the police: this is top quality scandi noir so don't expect too much happy endings!




Foto Festival Naarden 2019
Photos by Koos Breugel en Eddy van Wessel on display while entering Naarden-Vesting

Foto Festival Naarden 2019
The displays have a unique setting, both inside and outside the defense works

Foto Festival Naarden 2019
Stephan Vanfleteren

Foto Festival Naarden 2019
Ernst Coppejans - 'Sold' (about human trafficking)

Foto Festival Naarden 2019
Robin de Puy - 'Randy'

Foto Festival Naarden 2019

Foto Festival Naarden 2019
Otto Snoek - Rotterdam captured in panorama format

Foto Festival Naarden 2019
Eddy van Wessel - The Road to the Caliphate (Syria)

Theme of 2019: Dutch Masters & Marvelous Misfits
The 2019 event of FFN has been made with the intention to honour and include the misfit.
The misfits presented at the FotoFestival are greater masters than they are given credit for – they are marvelous misfits.
Curators of the FotoFestival Naarden 2019 were Koos Breukel and Hedy van Erp.

It struck me that as a photo manifestation it had less presence in the streets of Naarden-Vesting than on previous editions. I came away somewhat less in awe. Still, I found very interesting photography on display, with work by Stephan Vanfleteren and Eddy van Wessel for me as the most impressive.
But 'misfits' does narrow the choice of subjects down, I hope next time the theme will allow more variation in photography than people and portraits.

I overheard two volunteers talking, one of whom said 'there will be another edition, inspite of the losses incurred' (in Dutch of course).
It was my impression that the ticket fee was higher that previously and more photography was behind a steward checking the tickets, taken photos out off the public domain, probably in an effort to balance the books. I hope they work it out, it is a fantastic event.

As in previous editions there is also a series of exhibitions organised as 'Festival OFF', free of charge and on display in stores. But I found these much less accessable, often inside small establishments instead of in windows and I saw very little of the 26 allegedly on display.
The setting in Naarden-Vesting as the location of FFN is truly unique, both inside the defense works as well as outside. And on any day Naarden-Vesting is a nice place to visit.

More photos on Flickr.com




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Created: 01-APR-2019