Thursday, November 27, 2008

What if Jesus came back?

I read somewhere on the web something about the establishment of God's kingdom on Earth. The author of the article quoted the Book of Revelation ("he seventh angel blew his trumpet and there were loud voices shouting in heaven. The whole world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever") and assumed the times were bad for Jesus and co to come back here. Too much violence, too much bigotry, too many muslims...

But then I thought: let's assume Jesus decides to come back to see how we're doing, what would happen next? And I figured out he would have a tricky job on his hands.

First, I suppose he would reappear somewhere in the ancient Judah, where he used to preach in his prime. That means either in Israël or Palestine. In both cases, there's a chance he will receive the same warm welcoming the British Airborne experienced in Arnhem in September 1944 when the paratroopers of its Majesty landed on General Bittrich's 4th SS Panzer Division. The only point of uncertainty is whether the Jews will get him before the Muslims and how much money they will ask the US government to set him free.

Then, the guy will surely try to go back to his former business: preaching, healing and irritating people who have political power. The problem is that these three market segments are overcrowded and extra-competitive.

What concerns preaching, Jesus will have to start with an update. He founded a Church which doesn't exist anylonger. The initital start-up has experienced dismantlements, mergers and takeovers and he will have to choose a new preaching banner: will he go for Catholicism, Orthodoxism, Protestantism, Baptism, Evangelism, Mormonism? A real market study has to be run here. Will Jesus come back with a marketing expert?

Healing should be less of a winding road since humanity is presumably eager to get rid of AIDS, cancer, aging and other plagues. But what will the medical corporations say if a lunatic comes with a free treatment and makes their products obsolete? There are at least a million people in the western world whose house, car, home cinema and Hi-Fi equipment depends on HIV-related diseases in sub-saharan Africa. Will Jesus find them another job?

As for irritating people who own political power, Jesus will have to get familiar with modern communication. If he simply stands on his wood box to deliver his speeches, he will have trouble with the police or the Big Issue man who sells newspapers and hates people who shout louder than him.
So he'll have to go on TV, maybe in a talk-show. He will have to get used to make-up and commercial breaks, he will need another haircut and on top of that he will have to be ready to answer David Letterman's inquisitive questions, such as: "Have you ever imagined, Jesus, to have sex with Paris Hilton?" But will he be ready for that?

I'm sure people are in a hurry to see the Lord back in action. But they have to be patient, and they need to understand Jesus wouldn't be Jesus if he hadn't an answer to all these questions. The Holy Bible shows he's human like us. So give him a little time to think first.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Pet sounds

No, this is not an article about the Beach Boys. This is an article about dogs. So let's try to imagine you're a dog. Being a dog, your job basically consists in barking at the postman, eating the disgusting probiotic dogfood which your owner gives you, urinating here and there to mark your territory and sniffing at some other dog's ass once in a while to see whether it smells like the nasty turd that was layed in your backyard. But there is actually more in being a dog.

If you're a fan of Walt Disney's 101 Dalmatians, you can also offer your services as a matchmaker. You can do it the old-fashioned way, by joining your owner for a walk in the park and improvising a new Pongo ritual, or you can do it the modern way, by trying your paws on the PC's keyboard and adding to your owner's favorites the webpage http://www.datemypet.com.
Pet owners love to meet other pet owners, and it's only justice that a website should make it easier for them.

But would it not be justice as well to make it possible for us dogs to find a mating soul on the Internet? Is it fair for us dogs to be deprived of the outstanding breakthroughs of new technologies? Are we bound, as dogs, to sniff randomly at a hundred smelly asses before we find the perfect match? Just because we can't properly use mobile phones and condoms, should we be kept away from modernity?

If you find it unfair, if you find it outrageous, www.date-dog.com is here for you. It's a meeting website for dogs and it is already a huge success among the dog community. Thousands of dogs have already registered there and entered their profile.
For instance, Houbi the Bedlington Terrier from Toulouse has described himself as a sociable, intelligent and punchy single dog, and his profile has been viewed by 41 female dogs. Among them was Ophélie from Brittany, a romantic yorkshire who wrote on her profile: "I fancy going out, sleeping late and hugging :)"
They met and had a crush on eachother. If it happened to them, why shouldn't it happen to you? So my fellow dogs, come and register and at least give it a try. The first month is free and you can win a bone and a Playstation 3.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shortcuts

I was in the tube the other day with my beloved 18-year-old brother sitting next to me. I was reading a novel by Maupassant, and to be honest I was so much in it I couldn't even hear the roaring of the train.

The book was about a 19th century painter madly in love with a female socialite, Anne de Guilleroy. The guy was supposed to do her portrait, but after a few meetings, he begins to develop strong feelings towards her. So he tries to figure out how to turn the model into his mistress. Being a brillant talker, he skilfully injects in his conversation subtle innuendos and daring proposals.
She lets him talk the talk, waiting for the moment when he would walk the walk. But his first attempt to kiss her is somehow heavy-handed and after offering her lips in a moment of abandon, Anne de Guilleroy swiftly falls back to safer ground. She rejects him and leaves the room.

The poor fellow is at sea. He thinks about ways to redeem himself, but in the same time he doesn't want to give in. She goes back to his house the next day as if nothing happened and asks him to finish her portrait. But there is too much affectation in her apparent indifference for it to be true, and the painter feels that the battle is not completely lost. He affects indifference as well, and obediently limits his conversation to painting and art.
He's a better act than she is, and Anne de Guilleroy starts wondering whether the passion is gone. She's longing for his sweet talk again. Maybe she has feelings as well, and maybe she wants him to possess her. But being a society woman, she can't allow herself to show away too much. She must delay the surrender to add value to its price.
And so began the second act of an intricated foreplay whose ebb and flow promised to be as staggering as the atlantic tide...

I was about to learn about the long-expected outcome when my beloved brother interrupted my reading to show me a SMS he had just received from a girl called Charlotte, who he had been chatting with on the internet for two days:

"Hello, it's Charlotte. If you want, we can have sex tonight. My parents are away. Bring condoms if you have some, otherwise I think I have one or two left. See you. Love"

I threw away my book and we got off the train.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The golden age of concept

If you're familiar with mineral water, then you might be familiar with Evian mineral water. And if you're familiar with Evian mineral water, you may be familiar with the fact that Evian mineral water got its name from French town Evian-les-Bains, where the water takes its source.
And if none of this is new to you, you certainly know that Evian-les-Bains is a thermal town where old rich folks suffering from rheumatisms and varicose veins and younger rich folks suffering from being too young and too rich get hydrotherapy treatments when springtime comes.

20 years ago, the deal was pretty simple. You came to Evian-les-Bains with your rheumatisms and dollars, they splashed water on you for a few days or weeks and you went back home feeling 15 years younger. Then you naturally came back to smoking and drinking and died of a heart-attack a few years later.
Now things have changed. They still take your dollars and splash water on you, they still make you feel younger, but they give you the choice between seven options, which they call "day packages":

  • EVIAN DISCOVERY allows you to "savour relexation".
  • EVIAN LIBERTY intends to "relax you and hydrate and tone your body".
  • EVIAN ENERGIES procures "lasting relaxation and re-energising".
  • EVIAN HYDOR ZEN makes you "recover well-being and serenity".
  • EVIAN MINERAL makes you "feel so much better".
  • EVIAN REBIRTH draws on "vital energy to restore balance".
  • EVIAN SENSATIONS offers activities "full of heady excitement".
An old American patient suffering from serious articulatory problems came to Evian last summer at the request of his doctor. He found it hard to breath, he found it hard to move, he found it hard to talk. He came to the desk his prescription in hand and asked the receptionnist, whose sparkling eyes, flawless skin and perfect body shape were a living advert for Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, what they could do for his health.

The white lady at the desk gave him the menu above, the old man read it and was a bit confused. He sure wanted to recover well-being and serenity as well as restoring his balance with the help of vital energies, but he above all wanted to be cured.
The white lady understood perfectly well and informed him about Shiatsu harmony massage
, aimed at rebalancing the energetic flux for greater harmony between body and mind. She mentioned reflexology sessions, which by privileging your inner sensations made you aware of the present moment and freed your tensions. She was almost singing when boasting the virtues of Tai Ji quan, an energising corporal discipline which developed strength, suppleness, concentration and inner calm.

During all this chirruping, the old man had to stand as he wasn't offered a seat. He soon felt a weakness in his right leg and, as the freshly cleaned floor was a bit slippery, he fell on his head and broke his neck. By the time the ambulance came, he was dead. Dead at the gates of Heaven, listening to one of his angels chanting the Coming of the golden age of concept.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Talk Radio

Oliver Stone's Talk Radio took its inspiration from a real event: the murder of liberal Denver radio personality Alan Berg at the behest of a militant right-wing hate group. Here is the story: Barry Champlain is a provocative radio talk-show host, whose racy eloquence and inflammatory views stirs up both love and hate among his listeners. He's witty, cynical and self-indulgent, while his fucked-up fans seem born to advertise for the dark side of America: he gets calls from drug-abusers, suicidal teenagers and angry neo-nazis from all parts of Denver.

Fame comes rapidly and the show gets promoted to national broadcast. And the real troubles begin. One night Barry pushes one caller just a bit too far, and just before hanging up the phone, he hears a scary voice saying: "I know your face, Jew. I know where you live. I'll find you soon." Two days later he gets shot in the street, just a few meters away from the studio.

For some, this is the story of a guy who wittingly played with fire and eventually got burn. In a sense, they're right. To give people a chance to unleash their darkest instincts is to play with fire. Especially people whose audience is usually limited to police stations, intensive care units, bums and drug dealers.

But this film goes beyond the case of Barry Champlain/Alan Berg. Barry here operates as the lightning rod of society. He sure takes pleasure at riding the lightning, but he discovers pretty soon that the game he started is endless, and that it takes no rules. People suffering daily from anger and frustration, lack of money, lack of love and lack of recognition should be happy to find a soapbox and someone to talk to, even if he's an act. But they're not. They feel even worse.

In all their misery, they still have more respect for the racist cop or the corrupted politician, because these two stay where they belong. Barry doesn't. They can take the lies from the nababs above, because they've been groomed to and because they have no choice. But they won't take the truth from a simple radio host whose
outspokenness is a constant offence to the system that didn't favor them, but which they look up to as an almighty God.
These people won't shoot the President. But given a chance, they will shoot the one guy who has the guts - or the freedom - to call it an act at the face of the world.

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Anonymous said...

One of the common-shared problems associated with surfing on the internet is that you catch all sorts of worms and virus if you're not careful enough. As for the blogger, one of the most wide-spread bacterias he may get exposed to is the self-called "Anonymous said..."
This is it how it works: you post a thread, "Anomynous said..." comes into contact with it and infects the "comment" cell. It then duplicates its ADN and maliciously multiplies itself. You then find your dear little blog struggling with all kind of parasites, ranging from "I read your shit" to " buy yourself a life" or "Shut up you moron"

As most viruses do, the "Anonymous said..." bacteria stays in the organism for a few days or a few weeks, depending on its resilience. I probably caught my bacteria (whose devastating effects can be examined in some of the previous posts) by leaving my URL on one those broad-mindening american forums I've recently visited. I was careless, I fucked without condom, so I take the blame for it. A bacteria can't be held responsable for its actions. I can.

Some webmasters and bloggers deal with worms and bacterias by deleting their posts. I won't do that for three reasons.

1: braindead stupidity cannot freely express oneself in the real world, because there it bears a name and a face and is likely to get first-hand punishment. Internet is much more democratic than that, since it allows stupidity to travel unchallenged from a website to another. I like that. I think it's cool.

2: the act of blogging implies the hope for readers, hence the hope for comments. My "Anonymous said..." bacteria writes comments, which is better than nothing. I will take all that the Web can give: hate, abuse, anger, innuendos, despise, calomny, cynism, discrediting attempts and, once in a while, witty and delightful plaudits or critics backed by real arguments. But i'm not longing for that too much

3: I was running short of ideas, and my bacteria gave me two new ideas: a) imagining a new form of porn featuring double-penis guys and double-head chicks (try to imagine the number of mathematical possibilities here); b) writing about the freedom of speech and more precisely about Oliver Stone's 1985 film, Talk Radio.

So to "Anonymous said..." and other bacterias to come:

Kind regards, and see you soon.

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Election Day

"Who do I usually vote for, mum?" When election day gets close, the countdown is set on for another crucial choice: shall I vote for Mr X or shall I vote for Mrs Y?

Mum doesn't have to face such a dilemma. She used to when she was young, but these times are over now. Even before Mr X declared himself a candidate for the country's presidency, she knew she would give him her vote. Her ideas are engraved since one of Mr X's fellow campaigners assured her of a job and a flat in the city.

So 20-year old Dwaine has to turn to someone else. Most of his friends trust Mrs Y. They more exactly hate Mr X. "He's a cunning politician, they say. He changes sides every two weeks to fool the electors. But he won't fool us. Everyone knows he's a liberal son of a bitch and a far-right sympathizer." And then Dwayne and his friends light a joint in front of the University entrance and read out loud a satirical tract from a far-left fanzine.

But Dwaine is still not convinced. He's a natural-born citizen and he wants to get a larger picture. So he goes in the evening to Mrs Y's meeting and he listens to her speech. She says it's time for change, she says it's time for justice, she says the other side is bad. And Dwaine comes home with a resolution: "I will vote for Mrs Y."
But mum has turned the TV on. She's watching a talk-show. A fierce and intense debate between two political experts takes place, and new pieces of information he had not heard about before flow to his ears: unemployment, interest rates, savings, indebtedness of the State, security, ecology, foreign policy, nuclear energy... It gives him the hell of a headache. He's asking mum what she thinks of both of them, but she merely answers. "All I know is that the guy on the left can't talk properly, she says. He gets angry all the time and always interrupts the other."

But then Dwaine realizes the guy on the left is one of Mrs Y's supporters. And he says to himself: "if he can't talk properly and gets angry all the time, maybe it is because his opponent is too good for him. Maybe he has no argument." So he gives himself another day to make up his mind.

The next morning he goes to an off-licence, buys himself a couple of beers and two papers. He gets home and reads them. In the first one, there is an interview of Mr X. It says it's time for change, it says it's time for justice, it says the other side is bad. Dwaine wonders who was the first to come up with this key-statement, since both candidates claim ownership. So he goes on the Internet and starts his investigation. He gets 1,147 results for "it's time for change" and 1,254 results for "it's time for justice".
He surprisingly finds out that neither Mr X, nor Mrs Y have a monopoly on it. Hundreds of politicians, some of them dead for 40 decades, said exactly the same thing. Dwaine is completely lost. He drinks his two cans of beer and buys another 10. "In Vino veritas", his Latin teacher said.

The day of the election, Dwaine wakes up at 12 with a nasty hangover. He forgot about the election. He doesn't give a shit no more. But he's a citizen and he will do his duty. So he gets on the street and walks to the polling station. He's looking for a sign. A decisive event that will make him decide. At the market corner, a tall black guy asks him for a fag. He says he doesn't have one and he gets punched in the face. He's bleeding. He's humiliated. He runs to the polling station and puts his vote into the ballot box without a minute of hesitation. He voted for Mr X, whom he heard say the word "security" one time more than Mrs Y.

His job is done. His duty is performed. Now Dwaine can start thinking at last about something else.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Citizen of the world

For all his wisdom, Master Socrates lost an occasion to shut it when he said 2400 years ago: "I am not an Athenian, I am not a Greek. I am a citizen of the world." Don't get me wrong: that was, back in its context, a wonderful statement; a well-thought provocation towards his judges and a daring dig at the Greek's bigotry and self-centeredness.

But the problem of brillant quotes is that they raise the attention of not so brillant quote recyclers who never miss a chance to use them in every social context, where reputations are made and laurel wreathes are given. At the weekly Grammy Awards of self-righteous yuppies, one can always be sure of finding, standing between the gay-friendly of the month and the feminist of the year, the new self-processed "Citizen of the world".

I met one last week, and I tried to understand what she (since it was a she-citizen of the world) meant by that. First, she meant that she was not a woman, but an individual. She was a woman all right, but she didn't want people to look at her that way. "Feminity", according to her, was a male invention meant to confine women to an ascribed role. She developped this idea and I thought "All right, she may be right on certain points."

Then, she said that she didn't feel like a French or a European person, but as a member of humanity. It was pure chance that she was born in France and that she learnt the language, and she didn't feel any different from an Eskimo or a Papuan. I thought again: "Well, why not?"

Religion came into consideration and she of course denied the impact of being a Christian, a Muslim or a polytheistic bloke from New Guinea. These were all personal beliefs and everyone was free to express one's belief. It didn't interract with the rest.

We said eachother goodbye and on the way back home, I told myself how lucky I was to have met a person whose extraordinary power of transcendence made her at the same time a man and a woman, a French and a Libyan, a Christian and a Muslim.
I wondered why I spent so much time and money learning about interculturality, languages and religions, since a simple chat in a Parisian café was enough to get a complete overlook on humanity. We just have to deny them and stay what we are, and where we are. Peacefully, effortlessly, with a medal around our neck saying: "Citizen of the world".

I thought Socrates meant we had to open ourselves to other cultures and share our views on things. I was maybe off-target. He more certainly meant that he considered himself beyond the Athenian law and its army of narrow-minded law-makers. By proclaming himself a citizen of the world, he was pleading for an universal justice which would not hide behind a wall of silly traditions.
But 2400 years later, nobody gives a shit about the real meaning of that. The packaging is cool enough not to care too much about the actual content.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

A short introduction to: the far-left crusader

Television is a wonderful thing. It shows news, advertising, weather forecast, soap operas, sports, sex, music and films. But what makes television truly wonderful is that it shows to the population exotic things which people rarely have a chance to see.
These exotic things mostly consist in tropical islands, remote seashores, rain forests and magnificent birds. But there are things, or rather people, which are even more exotic than that and whose extraordinary vision of the world leaves the simple-minded TV viewer in a state of mental catharsis close to divine revelation whenever they hear their words.

These people are the far-left activists. Gutted by the prejudices in our western societies, fueled by the hate of injustice and discriminations, they fight like crusaders on every piece of land and give a hard time to every infidel who stands in their way, be it the corrupted cynics who lead the country, the brutal cops who give ill-treatment to their unlucky victims or the unthinking ignorant crowd that goes shopping on friday afternoon while people are starving at the other hand of the planet.

But they have more in store than that. They have the power to redefine the language and to unmask those who use it to feed their fascist propaganda. They read Orwell's 1984 and understood the power of Newspeak. The real war has to be a war of words and a war on words.

The other day, during a TV debate, one of them crusaders heard a guest say the word "race". This crusader reacted by asking: "Excuse-me, what do you mean by 'race'?"
The guest didn't expect that question. He thought everyone had opened a dictionnary once in his life and had come across this definition: "Race (noun): A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics including skin color, hair type, body proportions, and skull measurements."
So, he just answered: "Well, the color of the skin. You are black an I am white."

The crusader was petrified. She asked for more: "So in your opinion, the fact that I am black and that you are white makes me belong to another race than yours?"
The guest replied: "Yes, of course." The crusader couldn't hold her breath. She couldn't believe what she heard. The only problem here is that she had been militating for miscegenation since she was 18, and it was the guest's turn to ask: "How can there be a miscegenation, which you advocate for, if there are no races?"

The crusader didn't even answer. Her ears were closed now, while her friends from "SOS Racism" were already preparing their press release to express their surprise and indignation at Mr Guest's rehabilitation of the ugly "theory of races".

Nevermind the fact that Mr Guest clearly said later that Hitler's sacralization of the races was twice as ridiculous (the infidel is only entitled to say stupid things), nevermind the fact that militating for miscegenation implies indeed miscegenation, and nevermind the fact that an association called 'SOS Racism' was meant to fight racism (which may be understood by some as discrimination between races), the crusader won on two points.

1: she succeeded in turning half of the population against potentially useful progressist ideas by discrediting those who are expected to defend them.

2: she made Alfred Jarry and his Ubu the King laugh in his grave, which had not happened since the Monty Python released The Life of Brian back in 1979.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Greetings

When people haven't seen each other for a while, they usually ask "what's up?" if they're from Crenshaw mafia, "how do you do?" if they're from 19th century England, "how have you been?" if they're from 19th century England but don't want to face it, or simply "what have you been up to?" if they're just normal.

The problem is that in 90% of the cases, the answer will be "Well, nothing special" or "I'm fine", which is pure bore and a waste of words. Hence the following question: how to turn greetings into something utterly informative? The answer is: by changing the initial question, and moving from "what have you been up to?" to "what have you not been up to?"

To illustrate this, here is an example of a chat between two friends starting with this latter line. It's been recorded by CCTV in the London Tube, at Picadilly Station the 15/10/2008. I got the tape by asking my brother to screw a female employee of the company.

"Oh, Hello, Travis. It's been a while. What have you not been up to?
- Well, Ted, I haven't banged your wife, for a start. I could have the other evening when I met her in a pub, but I didn't. What about you?
- Well, I haven't learnt about that. So I haven't smashed your face with a baseball bat and I haven't stamped my feet on your 45£ suit. Anything else?
- I didn't find another job, I didn't fly to Sri Lanka and I didn't change my mind about never going there. I also haven't bought myself a new car because I haven't got the money to do so. I haven't tried to rob your apartment because I knew I couldn't find a way to unlock your door.
- Couldn't you? That's a shame. I haven't thought about that at all. Besides, I haven't learnt to use correctly the preterit and the perfect tense, which is okay because Sandra hasn't told me anything about that. She hasn't told me anything at all the last three months, when I think about it.
- Well, Ted, I've been glad to see you. I hope we'll find more time soon to catch up.
- All right then, Travis. So long."

A bit more lively, ain't it? Now, you know exactly what to do the next time you meet someone you really don't like but with whom you still want to be polite.

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Newspeak

Judith Mudd is the Head of the British Sociological Association. She woke up on tuesday morning, had breakfast with her husband (tea, eggs and bacon) and gave fish cakes to her dog. She took her car and drove to her work. While driving, she thought about lines she read in bed in George Orwell's 1984:
"You haven't a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston. Even when you write it you're still thinking in Oldspeak. I've read some of those pieces that you write in The Times occasionally. They're good enough, but they're translations. In your heart you'd prefer to stick to Oldspeak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning. You don't grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year?"


She parked her car in front of the company building, said "Hello" at the reception desk and stepped in the elevator. And she thought again. "Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it."

She took her phone to call her collaborators for an emergency meeting. She told each one of them how important that was. And so, at 10, all of them left their occupations and hurried to the main meeting room. Before she started to speak, she tried once more to remember what she read the night before. "Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won't be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect."
And then she said what she had to say, people heard what they had to hear.

A few months later, her husband was reading the Telegraph in the garden. Judith Mudd was in the garden too, trimming the hedge. Her husband found an article, which he began to read out loud:

"Publishers and universities are outlawing dozens of seemingly innocuous words in case they cause offence. Banned phrases on the list, which was originally drawn up by sociologists, include Old Masters, which has been used for centuries to refer to great painters - almost all of whom were in fact male. It is claimed that the term discriminates against women and should be replaced by "classic artists". The list of banned words was written by the British Sociological Association, whose members include dozens of professors, lecturers and researchers. The list of allegedly racist words includes immigrants, developing nations and black, while so-called "disablist" terms include patient, the elderly and special needs.
It comes after one council outlawed the allegedly sexist phrase "man on the street", and another banned staff from saying "brainstorm" in case it offended people with epilepsy (...)
The list of racist terms features black, which "can be used in a racist sense" and should be changed to "black peoples" or "black communities". Immigrants is said to have "racist overtones" because of its association with "immigration legislation", while developing nations - intended as a more sensitive replacement for Third World - is "prejudical" because it implies a comparison with developed countries.
Although not included on the Policy Press list, the BSA warns authors against using civilisation because of its “racist overtones that derive from a colonialist perception of the world”.

He dropped the paper, looked at his wife and said: "Oh darling, I'm so proud of you. Don't you think we should invite the Spencers tonight to share this achievement?" She shrugged her shoulders and answered: "It's no big deal, you know. Just a little step further on the road of progress."

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The thing on the right

Now, what's this? I strongly advise the reader here to first have a look at "the thing on the left", which you will find by downscrolling the November box. Done? All right. What we'll do here is follow the usual procedure and try to guess what this thing is by finding out what it's not.

This thing on the right is not one of Jackson Pollock's early paintings. They surely have in common the absence of the mannerisms of "good painting," which gives them both generosity and expressive power. But the vertical directionality down to the weave, distinct from any device of perspective, was the hallmark of Pollock's work, and the thing on the right seems more focused on what John Ruskin called "extended gravity": elements are floating around an invisible midpoint, and their rounded shapes suggests the waltz of celestial bodies.

We may also think about some experimental work of Philip Guston. But the thing on the right is clearly too apolitical for that, and for all its underground figurative imagination, it seems to only gather abstract to capture the germ of an intimate feeling, while Guston's canvas paintings clearly pushed allegory further and never lacked a pictural sense of judgment.

The thing on the right is also reminiscent of Adalbert Trillhaase's "naïve paintings". Same fresh and a-contemporary approach, same attention brought to colors, same apparent clumsiness, in addition to an archaïc dealing of subconscious frames. But in that case, where are the intangible elements that give naïve painting its chloroformic essence? Where are the references about the absence and the presence altogether of an old folk culture?

No. The thing on the right is a painting from twelve-year-old Alice Barnes, currently in Year 10 in a Birmingham college. She showed it to her mum and dad one evening and they said "that's wonderful, darling" and then turned the TV on to watch the local news.

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The thing on the left

Now, what is that? Think carefully before answering. If I can give you a guessing tip, the best thing to do here is to clear the ground and try to figure out what this thing on the left is not.

This thing on the left is not a drawing. It's a painting. It it were a drawing, there wouldn't be these paint drips and this grey background with gouache streaks that clearly advocate for the use of a paintbrush.

This thing on the left is not a child's painting intended to be pasted up on the wall of a classroom in some american primary school. If it were, it would have been removed and burnt by a member of the staff or another child, since it carries a political statement. This cannot be tolerated for obvious reasons. A primary school is not a place to express one's controversial opinion about the world.

This thing on the left is neither the work of some old man jailed in a lunatic asylum for repeted rape and sodomy attempts on guinea-pigs. This thing on the left sure looks weird, but not that weird. It's almost symetrical, nearly cohesive and it cannot have been made under the disrupting influence of a mental crisis.

Now, I tell you what this thing on the left is. It's a handmade painting of German artist A.R. Penck (born Ralf Winkler), born in 1939 in Dresden. Like all his other works, it testifies for the parting of Germany and it echoes the contradictions between the eastern and western political systems. It's influenced by Paul Klee's work and mixes the flatness of Egyptian or Mayan writing with the crudity of the late black paintings by Jackson Pollock. At the moment, it's exhibited in the Frankfurt Kunsthalle and is considered by some as his personal masterpiece.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Trolls and Axes: A World of Bancraft

Let's start with a definition: "An Internet troll, or simply troll in internet slang is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion." (Wikipedia)

And now a second one:
"The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millenia to shape, split and cut wood, harvest timber, as a weapon and a ceremonial or heraldic symbol. Antique axes and their modern reproductions, like the tomahawk, often had a simple, straight haft with a circular cross-section that wedged onto the axe-head without the aid of wedges or pins. Modern hafts are curved for better grip and to aid in the swinging motion, and are mounted securely to the head." (Wikipedia as well)

To be more specific, the link between the troll and the axe is that the axe can be used to smash the troll's head and get rid of his threatening presence. But that's an image of course. In modern times, the troll is not really a troll and the axe is not really an axe. We already know what the modern troll is. It's well-explained in the definition above. But what is the axe?

The axe is protean (meaning it can take several forms).

The administator's axe is the bankick, the administrator being the druid of the village. It's a powerful weapon that makes the troll disappear in one click. But before you can use it, you need to upgrade your character. You basically need 150 points of magic to get it, but once you have it, you're the master of the map. You can even resurrect the dead troll and throw it against your ennemies.

The standard player's axe is the report. You don't need experience to use it, but it's more efficient when you're a senior player. All you need here is a simple right click with the mouse and then you have to fill a form: "This person broke the rules of the forum by posting a sexist thread plus he made fun about my own thread dealing with vegetarian food." You won't destroy the troll at once with that weapon, but if many players use it at the same time and combine their energy, that could raise the attention of the druid who'll decide to use his magic.

Another axe is the nasty reply. This is the most common defense against the troll. Verbal abuse is not very powerful against an upgraded troll, but it's a fast and simple answer to the threat. Irony, combined with smileys (like in: "I supposed what you wrote was meant to be funny, sorry if I didn't laugh"), is a bit more effective, but not quite enough. Ignoring is by far the best defense. But like in the report situation, it has to be built as a team. If one breaks the rule and attacks uncovered, the battle is lost and the troll wins.

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Forums in Latium

As someone said back in the 80's, "I remember well what I didn't forget." I visited Roma once, the real one, the living capital of the lost Roman world. I was just a kid, but I remember it. And I visited the forum there, at least what remains of it.
Every roman city had a forum back then: an open public place where citizens discussed about the city's daily business. Now that democracy rhymes with modernity, forum has become a discussion board on the internet.

Does that mean people discuss the world's daily business? Sure it does. I visited the other day an American forum and posted a new thread about politics in the medias and the bad treatment some candidates received. I was told to fuck off. And so I did fuck off and I came back with something new: I copied and pasted an article about low-cost Christmas decorations. That was a massive success.

"99 cent, dollar stores, Walmart have inexpensive xmas decorations. Many charities and self help groups make and sell xmas decorations too", said nitram.

"Um, I guess you could string together some Cheerios, or if you really want to wow them with a splash of color - some Fruit Loops - and put them on the tree like garland", said Twinkle Toes.

"I just saw in Martha Stewart, maybe, to string the popcorn alternating with fresh cranberries. It looked beautiful. Don't know how low cost that is, I think cranberries are about $1 per bag. Don't know how many bags one would need, though, probably no more than two. My question was how long will something like this last?" was mommytotwo's contribution.

And finally deerislesmile said: "One of my first, very broke, Christmases, I hung Hershey's miniatures and added some beer caps hanging on wire. It was like a Redneck Christmas, but it was festive."

I thought I was accepted by the parliament, and so my confidence grew. I posted a thread about social issues in western countries. But the deputees didn't vote the motion. Some called me a troll, others just said "lame". I was kicked out of the Forum and banned for a while from the political scene. I switched off my computer and harped on my poor condition.
And then, at the lowest point of my career, I found this one topic that would bring me redemption and political acceptance from my peers. I bravely switched on my computer, I went straight at the forum pages and as I stood in front of the assembly, with defiant faces staring at me, I posted a new thread: "Success Tips for Transplanting and Moving Garden Plants".

I got 675 views and 42 replies, Senior members gave me loads of positive ratings. I was accepted. I was a democrat. I was a member. A true member of a true forum. A forum in Latium.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

That was enough

I caught myself the other day rummaging through my wallet to find money to buy cigarettes. I could just round up 3 euros and 45 cents and I thought at this moment: a few years beforehand, that would have been enough. Then I went to a bar to meet a friend of mine. He's got a master degree in Physics, but he's still looking for a job. It's been nearly six months now. I listened to his story, then I said to him: "well, you've got what it takes to work for a company. A few decades back in time, I'm pretty sure that was enough."

Another guy I know was thinking about getting a flat in Paris to move in with his girlfriend. He had cash, she was working, they weren't listed terrorists. So I thought that was enough. But then he told me about the queue lines in front of every apartment and the time it took to get an answer from the estate agency, and so I changed my mind.

I would fancy having a boat one day and sail across the Mediterranean Sea. I could call here and there at every port I see, chasing the seagulls and dancing with the dolphins. All I would need is a bit of money to buy myself a small craft. I'm sure there was a time when that was enough. But I recently learned about the bunch of authorizations you need to make this dream come true and the cost of docking in the smallest French port, and I figured out that wasn't.

One of my cousins lives in Madagascar. She invited me there and that was nice of her. "Can I come right now?" I said. I wanted to, that was enough. But she told me I first needed vaccination against hepatitis A and B, rabies, malaria, diphteria, tetanus and measles plus a 50-euro visa. I was a bit puzzled and I asked her: "will that be enough?"

So I went back home with kind of low spirits. I served myself a glass of whisky to cheer me up and I turned the TV on. It was a popular music show. A girl stood behind a microphone and was singing a song she didn't write about something she didn't know. Then she talked about her and said that music was her life. But she had many other things in mind. She'd soon be part of a movie and had started writing a book. Well, as she wasn't exactly a writer either, someone she knows would do the job.

And so I leaned back in my sofa, listening to the girl, and I let a smile come to my face. And as she started massacring another famous song, I gladly said to myself: "I guess back then, that at least wasn't enough"

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Talking about a revolution

Et puisque le pape Paul VI a dit que seule la langue française permettait d'exprimer "la magistrature de l'essentiel", cette courte page consacrée au roman Les dieux ont soif d'Anatole France sera rédigée en français. Pour tout dire, la seule pensée d'évoquer la Révolution dans la langue d'Elisabeth II, du Duc d'Edimbourgh et de sa bande de clébards hirsutes qu'il emmène chasser le cerf dans la forêt de Windsor me file la nausée.

Anatole France, donc, nous entraîne dans Les dieux ont soif au coeur de la Terreur, épisode sanglant de la Révolution Française hanté par les terrifiantes figures de Danton, Marat et Robespierre.
Evariste Gamelin, artiste peintre parisien vivant avec sa mère, n'a au début du roman qu'un poids mineur dans les affaires de son pays. En bon citoyen, il respecte la Convention, idolâtre L'Ami du Peuple (le ci-devant Marat) et voue une aversion de circonstance aux aristocrates, curés et autres résidus de l'Ancien Régime. Mais un jour, une femme riche liée aux milieux contre-révolutionnaires et soucieuse d'assurer ses arrières le fait nommer juré au Comité de Salut Public.

L'inoffensif Gamelin découvre alors la salle du Tribunal et son cénacle d'accusateurs publics en même temps que leur gadget fétiche, la guillotine. Commence à défiler sous ses yeux la colonne des ennemis supposés de la Nation: chefs d'armée accusés d'avoir battu en retraite, filles de rien soupçonnées d'avoir fricoté avec des anglais, nobles coupables d'être restés au pays, fédéralistes à la solde de la monarchie, scribouillards de mansarde taxés de correspondance avec l'étranger, clochards avinés pris à crier "Vive le Roi"...
Devant cette succession hétéroclite de parias, Gamelin est peu à peu gagné par la paranoïa ambiante et commence à craindre pour l'avenir de la France, qu'il voit rongée de l'intérieur par la gangrène contre-révolutionnaire. L'assassinat de Marat dans sa baignoire achève de le convertir au "Tout-Révolution", et dès lors c'est avec un plaisir presque sadomasochiste qu'il enverra à l'échaffaud tout ce que Paris compte d'habitants ou presque, à commencer par son beau-frère, son vieil ami Brotteaux et même la citoyenne qui l'avait fait nommer juré.

L'épuration est colossale: les têtes tombent à toute les pages. Et comme plus tard du côté du camarade Lénine, c'est dans ses rangs que la Révolution trouve ses meilleures victimes. Si bien que quand vient l'heure de juger Robespierre, le tribunal de la Commune n'est plus composé que de "rentiers", de "bourgeois cossus", de "gros commerçants", de "têtes poudrées" et de "ventres à breloques".
La sarabande s'achève avec la mise à mort de Robespierre, et Gamelin n'échappe pas au dernier coup de filet. Il est conduit à la Concorde dans l'anonymat d'une fin de Révolution qui aura vu la naissance de l'esprit français moderne: un savoureux mélange de paresse et d'exaltation, d'idéaux sans lendemain et d'héroïsme de gala.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Anonymous Rebelius

Uncle Plato was a visionary man, an outstanding child abuser and a first-class philosopher, no question about that. His oligarchy/democracy/anarchy triptych and his theory about the propensity of democracy to decay into anarchy are still relevant today, for most of its parts. But for all the intellectual spice of his grotto's allegory, he couldn't match Corneille's Alcandre on one point: foreseeing. The advent of the Anonymous Rebelius: he didn't see that one coming.

In the human evolution process, Anonymous Rebelius was preceded by Anonymous Democratus. Anonymous Democratus was not easy to handle. He complained about laws, started a few revolutions and wars, claimed power and regularly barked for social changes. Sometimes Anonymous Democratus made silly mistakes, like sitting Napoleon in a throne or Hitler in an armchair, but he tried to learn from that. He sent his children to school, studied the past and gave his best to make his life a worthy one.

He didn't mind to be anonymous as long as he remained democratus. He wanted to be consulted every now and then on the march of the world, the price of vegetables and the TV programs. Even when he didn't vote, he wanted the right to vote. Even if he hated school, he felt it was right to have school obligations. Even if he couldn't stand authority, he was relieved to see police cars patrolling in his street.
Anonymous Democratus desired recognition as well. He sure admitted he would never be Churchill, Balzac or Elvis Presley. He heard their speeches, read their books and listened to their songs without angry feeling. He just wanted to be spotted by some as an individual, whether it was for his working skills, community commitments or love-making capacities. He could go back from work in the evening with a clear conscience. If he was an artist, he would fight his way to self-achievement. If no one knew his face, it was alright by him, as long as many knew his works.

But after a while, Anonymous Democratus went through a middle-age crisis. He looked back in history and couldn't see anylonger the starting point of democracy. He was surrounded by it, as his father and his grandfather were before him. Everybody was democratus, and despite what he read in history books, he began to consider that everybody always was. Some tribes were not democratus yet, but then they were africanus or musulmanus, and that said all. A few democratus napalm bombings or tank action and things would be sorted out soon.
And so Anonymous Democratus thought that it was time to move on. Democracy was granted at birth, it was only a case now of not staying anonymous...

Anonymous Rebelius was born in 1987, on October the 3rd. He can't sing, he can't write, he can't act, he can't work, he can't think, he can't talk, he can't learn, he can't teach, he can't swim, he can't cook. But his website has been visited by 5,000,000 viewers, he's been invited to every broadcasted TV and radio show on Earth. He made the News headlines and is hungry for more. Teenage girls wet their pants by staring at his photos on the Web. He made thousands of babies all over the world without even using his penis. He's the one name they won't forget, the one face they won't miss, until there are so many of them that he'll be lost in the crowd.

For what will happen once the queue lines in front of casting agencies will be 50 kilometers long, once everyone's story and pictures will be published online, once each individual owns his duplicate on Facebook? What will happen when Anonymous Rebelius will look around and see nothing else but other Anonymous Rebelius? He won't find it cool. He won't find it trendy. He will look back in history and maybe look with a dash of regret at the wise and quiet Anonymous Democratus.

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The touristic tour series: Los Angeles, USA

Another 4-day travel package to our new destination: Los Angeles

Day 1: Landing at the Los Angeles International Airport at 10 PM. Full body inspection at the Customs for bacteria checkout. 3-hour waiting for luggage delivery and another 3 hours to find the exit gate. Night bus transfer to the hotel with television sets above each sit broadcasting bodybuilding TV shows. Breakfast at the hotel on arrival: two eggs, sourdough toast, coffee or chocolate splash and fresh orange juice.
Morning visit of Beverly Hills ghetto on trolley. Regular stops to allow tour participants to take pictures of Brenda's house and Dylan's college. Day view of Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica by bus. 2 miles down Angeles crest Scenic byway, interchange on SR1 overlapping I-405, then eastbound exit to Riverside Drive after reaching Verdugo Road's forty-fourth traffic light. Confused replies to participants asking where Melrose Place is.
Lunch in a macrobiotic restaurant located on 7119 Melrose Avenue. Menu: baked tortilla strips, brussel sprouts and sparkling mineral water. Digestive coyote shooting contest on Glendale freeway. Unlimited ammo. Rest of the afternoon free.
Dinner at the the hotel, then night party at the Beckhams' featuring Keanu Reeves and Britney Spears.

Day 2: Early departure to Crenshaw under police escort. Short stop to Baldwin Village. Freestyle rap exhibition followed by live street execution of three members from the Black P. Stones. 1992 riots testimonial tour with video projection of the Rodney King beating, along with a listening of George Bush Sr speech about the "brutality of mob" violently challenging "good and decent policemen". Quick shopping in a gun shop and short explanations to tour participants who wondered why they couldn't see one single shop like that in Beverly Hills the morning before.
Lunch in a filthy mexican bar and live abortion of a Puerto Rican girl in the toilets. Other questions from participants who definitely can't understand what's going on here.
4-hour transfer to the Dodger Stadium to watch a baseball game between the L.A. Dodgers and the New York Giants. Thunders of applause for Greg Maddux peerless split-fingered fastball and final victory for the Dodgers.
Night party at Snood Dogg's villa featuring Jay-O-Felony and Kurupt: snuff movie scenario-writing session with Dimitri Kuznetsov's cousin, video-gaming in the living room, sex orgy at the stairs and dope smoking by the swimming pool. Police inspection at 3 in the morning easily dealt with via coke and dollars.

Day 3: horrible hangover and immediate repatriation in hearse of participants who ODed during their sleep. E-mails sent to their families. Relaxing day for the others at Cal State L.A. Fitness Center, with body massage and boiling-hot bath. Jogging and tennis playing with Monica Seles.
Cancellation of the long-expected afternoon visit to Holywood, due to the sudden strike of the gardeners who didn't see why they were the only ones around not being given a hand-job by Meg Ryan.
Transfer to the L.A. airport. Take-off by night. Bodybuilding show on screens. Eternal regrets to have to fly back and rejoin his wife in Nottingham.

For further investigation:
http://www.losangeles.com/attractions/

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Monday, November 10, 2008

The touristic tour series: Lagos, Nigeria

Here it is: the first complete 4-day tour package for happy western holiday-makers. First destination: Lagos.

Day one
: Arrival at Murtala Mohammed International Airport at 4PM, two days after schedule due to hijack attempt during the flight. Living passengers lead to the Sheraton Hotel in a bullet-proof private bus. Wounded passengers carried in ambulance to the main Lagos hospital. Dead ones left in the plane for police body search. Evening free.

Day 2: Breakfast at the Sheraton, followed by a quick visit to the hospital. Best wishes of recovery to the passengers who accidentaly didn't die during the night due to nosocomial infections. Then, a nice walk through the town with a trilingual Nigerian guide. This walk may include free-for-all bag-snatching and authentic verbal abuse depending on the weather.
Around noon, commented overview of the pile of electronic waste dumped in a swamp near the Lagos market. Random shopping at the market, with an exceptional range of genuine farm products including: chicken infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus and raw meat offering 94% bacterial contamination rate.

Lunch in a sleazy restaurant without air conditionning. Main and only plate: Tsire Suya, which basically consists in roasted boneless meat of either mutton, beef, or goat previously infected by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus or Escherichia coli.
Collective afternoon visit at the police station. Group complaint lodging about wallets and other belongings lost or stolen in the market.
Evening: introduction to knife-crime and man-slaughtering on Lagos trendy beaches. Night bathing with tiger sharks. Live concert of Afrobeat star Femi Kuti, free befriending with dope addicts and world culture activists.

Day 3 (only between
outbreaks of cholera and malaria): excursion to the beautiful Osun district. Departure at 8 in the morning. On arrival, visit of a traditional African village plagued with polio and ethnic war. Shaking hands with the CIA agent delivering weapons to the local militia (pictures are not authorized).
Afternoon: genuine indigenous dancing featuring Yoruba percussion performed by starving musicians dressed-up for the occasion. End of the afternoon: goodbye to the musicians who must go back to Lagos and get their check from the travel company second head office.
Evening: Return to Lagos with a few hand-made baskets and a hundred counterfeited Nike shoes.

Day 4: departure from the
Murtala Mohammed International Airport at 8 in the morning. Sad farewells between the tour members and promises to organize a social event somewhere in Long Island to exchange pictures and MPEG films. At home, turning on the TV and real surprise in front of a journalistic report saying that Nigeria wasn't the best of place to visit at the moment. Cocktail drinking on the coach and love-making with a business partner. Sleeping and dreaming of the next holidays.

For further information and experience sharing: http://www.holiday-weather.com/lagos/holiday-reviews.html

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There must be a reason for that

Today in the tube, ignoring the morning rush, a young woman properly dressed was laying on the main stairway in a posture of meditation. Her eyes were closed but here face looked serene. Commuters had to go round her to get to the platform and that didn't trouble her. There must be a reason for that. Somewhere on the wall of the station, someone wrote "Black mask, white power", obviously referring to the US elections. There must be a reason for that. Later in the street, I totally ignored a Rumanian beggar who held a little boy on her knes. There must be a reason for that. Jennifer Aniston left her current boyfriend and thinks about getting back with John Mayer. There must be a reason for that. Young Mary cried in her room when she heard the news. There must be a reason for that.

The Arctic Monkeys sold 363,735 albums in one week thanks to a three-chord single published on the web. In the meantime, Lambchop frontman Kurt Wagner, praised for his subtle songwriting and his musical diversity, has just started making money with it, after putting down parquet floors for 10 years to earn his living. There must be a reason for that.
Holywood legends Errol Flyn, Clark Gable, Rock Hudson and Cary Grant were all living archetypes of virility at the time and kissed so many girls on screen you couldn't count them all. And yet they were all gays. For homosexuality-related Broke Back Mountain, on the other hand, producers chose to cast two heterosexual actors. There must be a reason for that.

Self-professed socialist Ségolène Royal lead her side to defeat in 2007 against a opponent who was under huge media fire and symbolized for many Jacques Chirac's disastrous second mandate. Yet her political motion was recently chosen by left-wing activists and she now stands first in line for the next campaign, which she's certain to lose again. There must be a reason for that.

People get drunk on friday night, fuck random people without condom, wake up the next day with headache, Gonorrhea and vomit on their shirt and say "never again" to their flatmate. Yet they do it again the following week. There must be a reason for that. Britons do the same but don't even pretend to regret anything. They just can't wait for the next week-end to come. There must be a reason for that.

Concert organizers and state officials know about the dangers of overloud music. But they let retarded DJ's killing reckless teenagers night after night with tinnitus and endless ear whistles. There must be a reason for that. People are not allowed to say "Fuck" on TV but they can show their ass on the stage and ruin other people's reputation. There must be a reason for that.

Paul told Stephanie one day he couldn't stand Sophie. Two months later he dumped the former and married the latter. There must be a reason for that. Jenny knows she shouldn't take the car drunk but then she goes and then she dies. There must be a reason for that. Jamie told his friends from West Ham it was pointless to fight every week-end with the chaves from East Ham. One morning her mother found him dead on the street. There must be a reason for that.

This could go on forever. But at the end of the day, people will just say that people are people, and they need no reason for that.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Family blog

"Hello, my name is Wendy and I am three-months old. I'm gaining weight very fast. Yesterday I went to the doctor's office with my dad to have them check a diaper rash that was making me very upset. I feel better now.
I spend 98% of my time in my baby's bed and sometimes I'm a bit bored. So I cry and my mummy comes and holds me. I don't like when she tickles me though, I can't stand tickeling. It makes me dribble. Sometimes I think my mummy is a little bit stupid. She smiles all the time even when there is nothing funny.

My daddy has a digital camera. He loves to take pictures of me. Hundreds of them. And then he posts the pictures on the web and asks people to leave comments. This is so nice. Many people will know me now. It's a shame I can't reply to the comments myself.
Yesterday I defecated in my nappy. It really smelled like shit, but my mummy changed my nappy and put the dirty one in a bin. I wish my daddy had taken a photo of my shit and posted it on the web, so everybody could have seen it.

It's not just about me in the family. We also have a dog and a hamster. My dog's name is Timmy and my hamster's name is Pimmy. Sometimes it's confusing people because they want to call Timmy but they say "Pimmy" instead. But it doesn't make any real difference because hamsters don't answer to their name.
My daddy has made a video of me and Timmy. He posted it in our family blog too. It says: "Hello guys! This is Wendy and our hamster Timmy, they're having a great time together!"

I also have a big brother, Justin. My daddy took him to the Kindergarden for the first time the other day. This is very interesting to know and so he added a special entry on the family blog. It says: " Andrew loves school! He is so good at it, too! At our first parent teacher conference, we learned just how good Andrew is at school! He was almost perfect on all his testing, he knows almost every word he needs to know for the year right now! He also loves Spanish! The teacher is recommending additional math at home so he can be challenged! I'm so proud of my bright boy!"

I'm not so proud of my family, so if someone hears this call, please report them to the police. Otherwise I'll find a way to kill myself. It's the only way to make them stop adding pictures on the net. But even then I'm not sure. Poor, poor, poor me..."

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Pub-crawling

And so it's friday night, you walk off your place and gets in the street. You are about to meet friends for a nice dinner out, you're in real good mood. But then someone comes towards you with a baseball bat and smashes your head. You fall on the pavement. You see a thousand stars dancing in your head. You're stun. And when you wake up, you're in Kettering, East Midlands, England. What do you do next?

First you go to the Earl of Dalkeith. It's off the main street opposite the pizza place, you can't miss it. The definite place for a friday night starter. Hundreds of guys carrying hundreds of pints, talking loud but still under control. Under your feet, a nice carpet. Above your head, a mighty roof. And all around you, men and women sharing their views on the next Irish band. This pub is the cheapest in town, so you drink up a couple of Carlings and then you go out for a smoke. A 12 year-old teen tries to get in the place, the bouncer asks for her ID, she shows her mum's driving licence and he lets her in.

Then you go to the Watercress, just a few steps further down the street. A massive bloke serves you at the bar a pint of San Minguel. This pub is very quiet. A couple of bar-hopping hotties tease eachother and you cant' but notice them. They're definitely in their thirties, maybe in their forties. You go and ask them politely how much they charge for one night and they tell you to piss off. You take shelter in the garden and light yourself another fag. They follow you and scream at you, you're a bit scared now and so you leave.

Your third stop is the Cherry Tree. A traditional english pub serving traditional english ales. You stand at the bar since there is not seat, and the guy next to you starts a conversation about De Gaulle. Nobody listens to him but you, you find it quite interesting. He's totally pissed, that's for sure. But you're not exactly sober yourself. You order a pint of Guiness and think about spending the whole evening there. But then a terrible smell of shit and organic decay lands to your nose. Someone just farted and you don't want to know who it is. Time to move on.

The streets are busy now. Everybody is kind of pissed and fights arouse here and there. Someone lies on the ground, he's got blood on his face. He asks you for a cigarette and you drop one. He's completely at sea and he cannot even catch it. He says "Cheers, anyway" and you keep on walking. The Peacock is awaiting you now.
Inside the pub, a bunch of girls with bunny ears dance and drink blue cocktails with 120% sugar in it. Some bald stocky guy gets near and squeezes their tits one by one. They let him do and even laugh. So you try do the same, but the result is quite different. One of the girls spits in your face, another one kicks your balls. And then you remember Jarvis Cocker's lyrics : "Nobody wants to be your friend cos' you're not from round here..." and you walk off the pub before it turns ugly.

The Prince of Wales is your last chance. The last place open in town. It's so packed inside you can merely move. Oxygen has been replaced by beer fumes. You manage to get to the bar and wait 20 minutes for the barmaid to take your order. You say "vodka", she says "what?", you say "vodka" again, she says "Ok" and you just realize it's so noisy in there that no one would hear a trombone. You're so drunk that you're eager to socialize at any cost. So you go to the dance floor and move your ass on Blondie's Heart of Glass. But then you slip on someone's vomit and fall. The problem is you fell at the start of the next song which is a punk one. Those ready to pick you up are now trampling on you. You suffocate, you scream and then you die.

When you wake up, the guy with the baseball bat is still there. He smiles at you and leaves. You call your friends and tell them you won't make it tonight. They ask you why and you reply: "I think I've just met Santa Cruz."

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Do I want to fuck her?

That was quite a day. I almost forgot I had to attend a lesson at university. Then I almost forgot someone had to do a presentation during that lesson. And I also almost forgot it was the blonde Milena who was doing the presentation.

It's ten past two when I arrive in the classroom, and she has already started. She wears a grey dress, black skin-tights and yellow heels. I sit on the nearest chair and I realize she also wears a necklace, a watch and a bracelet. She's tall, she's blonde, she's from Poland and she speaks to us about Christian Dior's communication policy.
She uses Powerpoint to back her speaking. Grey slides follow one another and I can't take my eyes off her. The way she says "python bag" and "crocodile skin" is cold and sexy. She got her hair streaked and it definitely suits her. I really want to fuck her at this precise moment.

But then she doesn't look at me when she hands me the company's catalogue. A real step backwards. Even the price booklet smells like Christian Dior's Midnight Poison, and I feel I'm about to commit a crime. The crisis passes on and her voice tames me once again.
"You've probably heard of John Galliano and Kriss von Asche, she says. They both worked for Christian Dior." I don't want to hear that shit, it makes me ashamed to be myself. Plus she really sounds posh when she says that and I'm scared of posh girls.

"We import stuff from Milan, Berlin and also from Dubai", she adds. "Would you go there with me?", I ask her silently. Probably if I was John fucking Galliano. Fame and money, that's all you care for, isn't it, bitch? I keep all that for myself and she moves on to another topic. "The company offers cocktails and gives private parties, she says. All the staff is welcome to join. It's important to make the employees feel like they're part of a team." So she's really posh, then. I can visualize her strinding along the 2nd floor of some parisian private hotel, holding a glass of champagne and ignoring the guys who stare at her. I don't want to fuck her anymore.

The presentation comes to and end. She gives us a last piece of information. "Did you know Christian Dior invented the scissors for left-handers?" Mr Teacher knew. We didn't. We were too obsessed by her to really listen to anything she said. When it's all finished, Mr Teacher claps his hands and invites us to do the same.
Then he asks us if we have something to ask. I raise my hand and say: "Sorry, Milena, I'm afraid my question is totally irrelevant. But can I still ask it?"
She looks embarrased. Everybody stares at me. But she gives me her permission, and so I ask: "Do I want to fuck you?"

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I looked at you

"I looked at you, you looked at me. I smiled at you, you smiled at me." Who said it was all bleak in Jim Morrison's elegiac world? Between two lines of cocain, the guy always found time to write a song or tag his name on a girl's ass.
But Jim's agenda cannot be seen as a school model. For most of us underachieving idiots, the New Year's eve party song would rather go like "I looked at her, she looked at him. I followed her, She slept with him." So what's the problem here and what are the solutions?

The problem here is that you are at Stephen Philips' party, you're drunk and thirsty for love but the targets are so many you can't fix yourself on one. And just when you think you found the right girl, she takes the hand of someone else and goes with him in the upstairs bathroom.
You're not Jim Morrison, so you can't throw your glass of whisky at her face and say "I'm gonna drink you now". You're not Bret Easton Ellis, so you can't simply walk to her and say: "Hey, I've got 543 friends waiting for me in a villa near the seaside, do you want to join?" You have to come with something else.

First tip: try reversing the lyrics. Things would be easier if it were like "She looked at me, I noticed her". Human beings are no different from other mammals: the female gives the first push (most of the time a non verbal one) and the male rushes in.
So stop striding along the rooms with a glass in your hand, and give a look around, chasing information, watching out for a sign. Unless you look like Michael from the Cherry Tree, some girl will have spotted you. But standing still is the key to get a proper view.

Second tip: don't put yourself under too much stress. It's scientifically proved that the woman knows after 3 seconds whether she finds you attractive enough to consider a body connection. All the bullshit you will say is a mere socializer. So spit it out but don't rely too much on it. As they like to put it, "it's not what he says, it's the way he says it."

Third tip: leave her alone at some part, and come back later. Competition is the name of the game. Girls usually don't like being cornered for too long. Unlike us, they like dancing, chatting and readjusting their hair in front of the mirror. Don't block the way between her and the rest of the world. The time she'll spend on her own is probably as fruitful - even more - than the time you spent chatting her up.

Fourth tip: don't go to the bathroom to jerk off. It's tantalizing to do that, to unleash the devil and get your mind back. But the devil inside you is what you need here. An apparent erection looks terrible to us, and it certainly brings us back to what we really are, but all signs of mating are welcome.

Here you are, folks. Enjoy your meal the next time you party at Stephen Philips' place, and try to tag some ass during the night. You probably won't meet me there, since I will be surfing on http://www.city-of-brides.com/profiles/ukrainian-girls/ to find a girl for my father. But bring me back a pants or two to show me your good work.

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The losing side

In normal democracies, main elections are won - or lost - on an average 53/47 % balance. Barack Obama hasn't exactly edged Mc Cain out of the presidency. He secured a pretty comfortable victory. Still, the figures show that the gap between the two candidates isn't wider than in previous elections: 62,443,218 votes for Obama (52%) and 55,386,310 for Mc Cain (48%).

In France, however, 80% of the people surveyed by French medias declared themselves Obama supporters, and would have voted for him if they were American citizens. I would probably have voted for Obama myself. But are these figures not a bit too extravagant not to deserve some form of cross-examination?

Today on TV news, female newscaster Elise Lucet couldn't hide her joy. One may have thought she was still under the spell of an intense love-making night with whoever bangs her at the moment. But she wasn't. She was genuinely pleased with Obama's victory and didn't need to hide it since her state of mind is (apparently) shared by 80% of the French population.

The answer of this enigma is to be found on the losing side. Whenever images were shown of John Mc Cain and his supporters, you couldn't see anything but white dickheads reading out the bible and listening to country music. Every middle-aged guy looked like the bearded white-hair pervert of Oliver Stone's U-Turn. No black people, no children. There must have been some in the crowd, but the cameraman ignored them. They didn't fit the cast.

Then we had a short coverage about Alabama, where Mc Cain got 60% on his name. It wasn't to praise the beauty of the place, but just to remind us that Alabama was once the cradle of the Ku-Klux-Klan.

This is just like what French medias did all over the US campaign and before that. Showing the republicans as unevolved, racist, war-hungry sons of bitches. American people obviously know better than that. For if they didn't, the country would be shifting to civil war. But they already had one and moved on from that point. By voting Obama, they maybe showed they didn't want another good vs evil four-year soap-opera. French medias would love it.

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The man who'll save the world

So this is it. The new CEO of humanity has just been elected. Barack Obama is in for a five-year membership. Jenny Mitchell learned the news in her cosy Manhattan flat overlooking the New York upper bay. She couldn't meet her friends from the democrat committee who kept watching CNN all day long in a lounge bar of the sixth avenue, drinking cocktails and eating peanuts. Well, she could, but she dared not to.

For this election meant a lot to her. Another disappointment like the election of George W. in 2000 and his reelection in 2004, and she would have thrown herself under a car. A big one. A Ford, or a garbage truck. So she chose to stay at home, a box of killing pills on her night table, just next to her mobile phone.

Friends kept sending SMS updates of the latest polls, she barely looked at them. She was too tense for that. "Come on, she said. Pull yourself together. Maybe I should ring Nick." Nick is her ex-boyfriend. She kicked him out of her flat when she found him fooling around with Carole and he didn't even have his pants on.
But on that day she felt she needed him. He was a democrat too, after all. One of the good guys. And he had a wonderful penis. So she may have called him, but she didn't. The strength of women, I suppose.

But then she heard the bursts of joy in the streets. Friends called her one after another to share the delight of victory. The end of Texan rules. The end of Irak war. A hope for less social injustice. The image of America restaured abroad. If Obama was here she would kiss him. After asking Michelle's permission of course. What a nice couple they are.

Tomorrow morning, democrat upper Manhattan yuppies will go to their jobs with a smile on their face. Republican yuppies will surely not smile. But neither will they cry. And in 6 month time you won't be able to see a difference between the former and the latter. Same suit, same tie, same job, same perspectives.
Barack Obama will perhaps not save the world. He didn't promise that. But he made Jenny Mitchell happy for one day. And in 6 month time, all the subprimes she sold to save her job and her ass will be forgotten like the phases of the moon.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

There's something about Laurence

I like Laurence. She's my friend. She's really really nice but above all, she's open-minded. She never judges anybody, or anything, unless she's dead sure the judgment is safe, and that's if 98.7% of the world population said it was. To make it short, she's the opposite of a snobbish person.

Sometimes on saturday afternoon we take a walk in the Montsouris public park. She holds my harm, I let her do so and I point my finger here and there at some nightingale singing in a tree. She finds it cute. And so the two of us walk and talk about things.

"Sandra took me to this rap concert, I say. I don't like rap all right. But this band really sucked."
"You can't say that, she replies. I'm sure people in the audience liked it, plus I think that every form of art deserves credit."

We get by the river and linger on the bridge. I look at her and say: "Michel's been nasty to Elise. He cheats on her every friday night. And he beats her up as well."
She gives a yawn and answers: "People shouldn't be too harsh on him. He must have some personal problems and that's the reason why he does that. We never really know what's going on behind the doors, do we?"

We lay for a while on the grass. Children play football around us. Shady ideas cross my mind. "I wonder whether islamist terrorists are real muslims, cos' if it's so, that's really scary." She gives me one of her funny looks and says: "We should read the Coran. Maybe we would understand better about them."

We reach the exit gate and step in the avenue. "I can't understand a god damned thing about modern art. It's like this Pierre Soulages guy. 200 paintings colored in black and white. No shapes. No variation. Can you imagine that?"
"Come on, Pierre, she replies. How many modern art exhibitions have you been to? It takes time to appreciate it."

We beg eachother goodbye in front of the bus stop. We get along so fine it's a mistery we never kissed. I add a final word: "By the way I changed my window shades. You know, the orange ones. I replaced them with blue ones." She stares at me angrily and says: "How could you possibly do that? It doesn't suit your apartment at all. Blue goes with white, don't you know that?"

I didn't know that, no. But I know there is something about Laurence...

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Animal lover

Usually, the word "revisionism" refers to attention-seeking right-wing politicians or historians who claim that the nazi concentration camps consisted in leisure resorts for homeless people. I think it's about time to give this concept a second birth by using it in another area, and that's zoology.

Many scientists make a habit of breaking the neck of common-shared ideas about the animal world. One of their hobby-horses is to point at people who, in their opinion, clearly overreact to the unsupported threat caused by lovely animals such as sharks, snakes, tigers, bats, spiders, scorpions crocodiles and britons.

Based on the trustworthy opinion of these scientists, here is a short list of harmless animals you can definitely swim with or keep as a pet:

White sharks: they may look nasty, but they're only attracted to areas with fish activity. Besides, they're not agressive and just "inquisitive" (says Theo Ferreira, founder and director of the Great White Shark project). To be all right, just make sure you lack conversation and avoid areas where fishes live (which I think is called the sea, by the way)

Lions: "A lion can be dangerous because it induces fear in human beings. In the absence of human beings, lions are not dangerous" (Gordon Graham). So the matter is settled, then. Make sure you're invisible or dress up as something else (a gazelle or a zebra, for instance) and they will leave you in peace.

Snakes: Always keep in mind that they are shy creatures and will not attack unless bothered. "Snakes don't really want to do humans any harm. In most snakebite accidents, it was the human that provoked the snake into biting." (www.scienceray.com) It's true that in most cases, the guy who was bitten forgot to introduce himself properly or didn't ring the doorbell.

Bats: "It's true that they can transmit rabies. But simple rules of caution such as avoiding bats with a strange behaviour will minimize the risk." (Dr Laetitia Barlerin, veterinarian) Fair enough, but can someone tell me what is a bat's normal behaviour?

Britons: "People should remember that half of all violent crime is fuelled by alcohol." says Shadow UK Home Secretary David Davis. But then he adds: "More than 8 million Britons are problem drinkers" So is it safe to keep a briton as a pet? Of yourse it is. I've got one in my closet. The only thing to remember is you must not keep a beer and a briton in the same cage.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

the curious case of the happy hamster rolling his wheel on a moving walkway

Folks, I have great news for you. Forget what astrology told you. You're neither a taurus, a fish, a pig or a snake, you're a happy hamster rolling your wheel on a moving walkway.

The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said that "you [could] never step in the same river twice" and so gave a timeless image of the linearity of life: time is always moving like the ever-changing water flowing in the riverbed.
But then rivers flow into the seas, water evaporates and condenses into clouds, the clouds bring back the fugitive under the form of falling rain. And that's the circularity of life.

Stone monks from Tibet ODed one night and woke up the next day with the doctrine of reincarnation. That was the first cool attempt to combine the two perspectives. It was even cool enough to convince some of us sceptical braindead materialists to buy a tibetan dress and avoid walking on ground insects. The ant you nearly crushed could be Yitzhak Rabin's second cousin and you don't want to be called an anti-Semitic bastard, do you?

My metaphor of the hamster rolling his wheel on a moving walkway avoids such mishappenings and it has the advantage of depicting the whole life process. Two perpetual motions coexist without interacting. A first movement you can control (you roll your wheel at your own speed), a second movement you can't control (that's the moving walkway).
Rolling his wheel provides the hamster with an illusion of freedom, while the moving walkway sets the limits of this freedom, and gives to every hamster the same main tempo.

This fair combination of self-determination and bound temporality makes every hamster happy. The element of fun is brought by the race (the fit hamsters can try and overtake the unfit hamsters) and the fact that in the end there won't be a winner or a loser (every hamster will fall and die at the far end of the walkway) ensures a friendly atmosphere.

So every hamster on his starting block: one, two, three, go!

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