Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sophies World

Jostein Gaarder, Fiction/Non Fiction
Rating: Stirfried bittergourd

I finally managed to get though all 500+ pages of Sophie’s World this year after trying every year since I was 14(my enthusiasm always dies somewhere around page 165). The book is about a girl called Sophie who one day begins to receive letters from a mysterious stranger. Mind you, this isn’t a Scandinavian paedophile story (Sophie lives in Norway) –Sophie’s World is about the History of Philosophy. Seriously. There’s stuff on Socrates and Plato, Jesus Christ, all the way up to Freud and Karl Marx. Not the sort of thing you’d stomach as a kid but something you grow to love as an adult (hence the title).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

On Dignity

"Please stop, the man is being executed, please stop." The man. Not the monster, the butcher, the tyrant. Saddam's killers have achieved the impossible: they have made us feel sympathy for him, for his grace under pressure. There may not have been dignity in the dying, but there was courage. A five-star death.

Stephen Moss of The Guardian expresses what I couldn't.

Monday, January 01, 2007

On Saddam Hussein

I found photos of Saddam Hussein's execution inappropriately splashed on the front pages of newspapers everywhere. It's not very pleasant to wake up in the morning and see a photo of some guy with a noose round his neck facing his execution even if he was obviously a very bad man.

You could argue that we've seen photos of casualties from wars, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, the tsunami. Unfortunately we hardly ever know much about who they were. But we know a lot about the late Saddam Hussein. Media coverage of his dictatorial rule allowed us nuggets of information which made him more real and more human to me.

Did we really have to repay an eye for an eye though. Yes he was a really evil man and I'm sure his inhumane acts of violence weren't exactly respectful to human dignity.

Being sentenced to death is no walk in the park. Those who sentenced him were, I assume, on relatively higher moral ground. They could have at least allowed him the right to a dignified death rather that the media circus it turned out to be.