Sunday, January 18, 2015

US journalists can be as dumb as they come

Fox News has a “specialist” named Nolan Peterson (a former GI) who informed the world, last week, that there are so-called No-Go Zones in certain parts of Paris which non-Muslims cannot enter. This dumb arsehole said that youths strutted around in these neighborhoods wearing T-shirts celebrating Bin Laden. Fox News went on to say that police could not enter such neighborhoods, and that the Muslims applied Sharia law in these zones.


Needless to say, everything that the liar Peterson related on Fox News was pure rubbish... but I have not yet understood his motivations in airing all this make-believe nonsense. Now, there are 2 million Americans who watch this shit, to learn about what’s supposed to be going on in France. Fortunately, there has been a massive TV campaign in France aimed at telling Fox News just how poorly informed they are. And they seem to have gotten around to understanding that they were transmitting pure bullshit.


I feel sorry for naive and well-intentioned Americans who have such rubbish rammed down their throats by stupid and unscrupulous would-be US "journalists".

Since 2003, an abominable lie about France and the French has become widespread in the US, designated by an expression that's popular with dumb US jerks: cheese-eating surrender monkeys. The idiots imagine that, in 1940, the French took one look at the approaching Nazi forces and promptly surrendered. There's little point in getting upset about such a total ignorance of the military events of that terrible epoch. As we say in French: Never try to explain things to arseholes; there's a danger that you might inform them!

BREAKING NEWS: Anne Hidalgo, Socialist mayor of Paris, has just announced (January 20) that the city will be taking Fox News to court over their outrageous "news", which prejudiced gravely and stupidly the French capital. In the following shoddy CNN interview, their interpreter sounds as if she has trouble understanding French, and the audio is not handled correctly:


I'm happy to see that the great city is standing up for itself against a band of dumb US arseholes.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Shawl

The Cournouze is like an old lady (or a young lady, for that matter) who has wrapped her shoulders in a white woolen shawl.

Click to enlarge

This is the first time this winter that a little snow has settled onto the slopes of our Bourne valley.

Anecdote. I was amused to discover, this morning, that my external surveillance camera looks upon every falling snowdrop as a potentially undesirable intruder. That’s to say, during the early hours of the morning, the camera emailed me a pile of uninteresting warning snapshots composed of big white blobs.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The problem is not Islamophobia, it’s Islam

There are several fine articles in the English-speaking press that criticize the ridiculous notion that Islamophobia would be a greater problem than Islam. Unfortunately, here in France, in the land of Charlie, citizens are not really free to tackle this primordial question, because any publicly-expressed negative remarks concerning the tenets of the religion of Mahomet can be construed immediately as an incitation to hate the “race” (?) of French citizens who adhere to this religion. And that’s a crime here in France.


This confusion has something to do with the French mindset. French people don’t seem to be able to distinguish clearly between ideas and individuals who claim to be adepts of those ideas. This goes back at least as far as Philippe Pétain. Many people of that epoch might be pardoned for looking upon the Maréchal as a lovable old fool, who had been a World War I myth, but his ideas—that’s to say, his acceptance of the Armistice—were totally abject. French people seem to have trouble realizing that many good people can adopt bad ideas, and that certain good ideas can even be held by people who are essentially bad. A typical example of the latter situation is the pedophile priest taking care of children in need.

At a superficial level, the suggestion by Pope Francis that you might have the right to punch somebody who insults your mother doesn’t sound very Christian to me. In fact, as Jerry Coyne demonstrates here, the pope was frighteningly close to condoning—indirectly, of course—the kalashnikov actions in Paris. See the frank reaction of a celebrated US humorist, Brian Keith Dalton, who pulls no punches:


Click here for a brilliant exposé of the “religion of peace” myth.


Clearly, our leaders who talk casually about blasphemy as if it were a crime, just like those who decry Islamophobia while insisting that Islam is a "religion of peace", are simply trying to appease their Muslim fellow citizens. Why? That’s a big and complex question, which I would not try to answer…

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Three days that shook France

It’s not easy to people outside France about the role in contemporary French society of a press organism such as Charlie Hebdo, and the immense sadness and fury of countless citizens when they see that a team of celebrated cartoonists has been decimated by dumb cunts armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, followed by the slaughter of innocent Jewish shoppers in Paris buying Shabbat supplies. Judging from world reactions to these tragedies, I gather though that countless observers in other nations realize fully what a shock this has been inside France. Some strongly symbolic images have reached us from abroard. In particular, there was Barack Obama visiting the French Embassy in Washington and finishing his written statement with Vive la France!


The slain cartoonists would have been greatly amused by this image of Times Square:


And this solemn tribute from the United Nations headquarters:


In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was plunged into darkness as a sign of respect.


Among the 17 innocent victims, there were two in particular, Charb and Cabu, who had become the celebrated champions of satirical cartooning in France. We looked upon them as talented and lovable individuals, and it was unbearable to learn that they had died in such a stupid and brutal fashion.


Charb’s illustrations of Mahomet had maddened the Islamic killers, who were far too coarse and brutish to understand, let alone appreciate, our everyday concepts of satire.



The cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo never ceased to make fun of pompous adepts of the three so-called monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


The cartoonists considered—and it was their right to have and express such opinions—that the pages of the so-called holy books would make good toilet paper.


But I was always immensely impressed (as a keen student of the history of Judaism and Christianity) by the perspicacity of Charb’s awareness of the fine points of the subjects that he satirized, particularly in his albums on Mahomet (created with the assistance of a lovely lady named Zineb El Rhazoui).



A few months ago, I had contemplated contacting Charlie Hebdo to see if I might be able to collaborate upon the translation of the Charb/Zineb albums into English. Today, I believe more than ever that English editions of these albums should be published.

Today, throughout France, the proportions and intensity of public reactions to the horrible events of the last three days have been overwhelming. Never before has there been anything like it in France. And tomorrow, in Paris, the spectacle is likely to be utterly gigantic… with the presence of many foreign heads of state.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Outlaws

After this morning’s outrageous attack in Paris, the time has come to stop talking about Islamic actors in fuzzy terms. They are crazy homicidal outlaws, and must be treated as such.


As they said in the legendary Far West: WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE. Dead is definitely safer. Their distinguishing feature is a war cry: Allahu Akbar. God is greatest. If you hear somebody yelling out this war cry, don’t bother putting on white gloves and trying to reason with him, because he's almost certainly of a suicidal nature. Simply aim at his head and shoot! God (his or your’s, no matter) will protect you, and you might well have succeeded in eliminating yet another crazy Islamic bugger from the surface of our planet.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Rosalie’s duck

Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from wise and intelligent people and have revealed them to children."                                                                                — Matthew 11:25
I’m convinced that, if ever the individual referred to as Jesus had existed, he might indeed have said something like that. That's to say, Jesus—himself a bright fellow—surely understood that there was great clear-sightedness, discernment and rationality in the regard of a child.

Back in 1977, when I was driving around Scotland with my children, visiting places that I planned to mention in my forthcoming tourist guide to Great Britain, my 8-year-old son François provided us with a wonderful example of childhood wisdom. We were sitting on the shores of Loch Ness, and talking inevitably about the legendary monster.

Click to enlarge

François: “If ever the monster existed, down at the bottom of Loch Ness, it wouldn’t waste its time wondering whether or not we humans exist. So, why should we spend our time wondering whether or not the monster exists?” That was symmetrical reasoning of a high order.

A few years later on, at the Ruflet estate in Brittany, Christine was talking with the children about a serious family problem that had arisen. I don't recall the details, but it was quite complicated. No matter what solution was imagined, there was always a good reason why it wouldn’t work. So, everybody was moving around in circles, looking for some way of solving the problem. After a long pause in the discussion, young François voiced an unexpected opinion: “It’s like Rosalie’s duck.” 

Now, to understand that remark, you need to know that Rosalie was a rural lady (maybe a window by that time) who had spent her life in charge of the main farm at the Ruflet domain. For us, she was renowned for the excellent poultry she raised, which was constantly present on festive tables in Christine’s family context. And we must imagine that, in the midst of Rosalie’s chickens (with thighs like champion Breton cyclists), there was a duck.


Manya was rather angry to hear her brother’s remark. “François, here we are, talking about a serious family problem, which nobody seems to be able to solve. As soon as we think there’s an answer, it turns out to be wrong. Then we have to start looking for another possible answer. And stupidly, in the middle of our discussion, you start talking about Rosalie’s duck… which has nothing whatsoever to do with what we’re talking about.”

The reaction of François was simple but brilliant: “Manya, you’ve obviously never tried to catch Rosalie’s duck.” He went on to explain that he himself had often tried to catch Rosalie's duck. But, whenever he made an attempt to jump upon the bird, it vanished instantly to another spot. It was impossible to pin it down. And François had realized that this was the essence of the family problem that was being discussed.

In fact, Rosalie's duck was behaving like a run-of-the-mill quantum event. The animal was acting with the elusiveness of an electron. These days, I’ve got around to thinking that, in my forthcoming philosophical autobiography to be entitled We are Such Stuff, I may well use the expression Rosalie’s duck as the title of my chapter on the greatest metaphysical question ever asked (dixit Heidegger):

Why is there something rather than nothingness?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Darwin guy close to getting a Darwin Award

In this blog, here, I’ve already mentioned the prestigious annual Darwin Awards. They’re necessarily posthumous awards, because a winner has to have done something immensely stupid, to such an extent that he kills himself, whereby benefiting humanity through the removal of his ugly chromosomes from the human gene pool. The standards for receiving this award might appear to be excessively high, but the underlying idea is that, if a candidate doesn’t kill himself, then he wasn’t stupid enough to deserve a prize. You might say that such a failed candidate demonstrates, through his survival, that he wasn’t sufficiently altruistic or self-abnegating, with respect to his fellow men, to be a winner.

In the case of the following fellow, with a shirt hiding his face, all I can say is that he came bloody close to getting an award. The ATM [automated teller machine] that he succeeded in blowing up knocked him backwards onto the ground, but the explosion didn’t have quite enough force to blow his stupid head off. Pity.


I was most impressed by the way in which the guy got back up immediately onto his feet, tore the shirt off his face, and headed off away from the camera. When I was a kid in Australia, we had a nice expression that sums up this kind of sporting prowess:
He took off like a bat out of Hell.

This would have been a particularly poignant Darwin Award, because the fellow’s act took place in Winnellie, which happens to be a suburb of the Northern Territory town of Darwin. What a shame he failed.

Incidentally, among the comments of well-wishers who appreciated this fascinating video, I was really pissed off by an American who talked as if our hero were a citizen of God’s Own Country… and moreover a Republican. Bloody pretentious Yanks. It’s time they realized that, Down Under, we’ve got individuals who are just as brilliantly idiotic as the dumbest US specimens.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Luxuriant flames

Here at Gamone, it would be an exaggeration to claim that it’s cold… unless, of course, you were to go wandering around on the slopes—Aussie style at this time of the year—dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and thongs. I prefer to be wrapped up constantly, day and night, in garments made out of the fabulous textile known as polar fleece. I believe that the latest stuff I purchased (through the Internet) is made out of recycled plastic bottles.

Meanwhile, I burn a lot of wood, non-stop, almost day and night. Sure, it’s a luxury, but Fitzroy and I lose no sleep fretting about the idea that we might be privileged rural dwellers. I’m too preoccupied by the tasks of cleaning up the stove every morning, and carting in a new supply of firewood. Then I think of nothing more than warming up my toes, while my dog (often in my lap) likes to combine the warmth of my body with the heat hitting his backside. It’s all very calculated, almost scientific.


Utter luxury (in which I’ve never yet indulged) would consist of lighting up simultaneously the closed fireplace at the other end of the living room. I’ll do this (I promise) if one or other of our children—or maybe even me—were to decide to organize, say, a marriage reception here at Gamone in the midst of winter... and if it were truly cold enough, of course, to justify all the flames. In fact, I’m so enchanted by that luxurious idea of utter flaming warmth in my living room that I really must start looking around for a bride. Or maybe my dog might reveal his secret nuptial plans.

Escaping from DNA detection

Over the last month or so, in the context of my work on a future book about Gamone, I’ve been investigating haphazardly and half-heartedly the genealogy of various local families, just to obtain (if possible) a slightly less fuzzy idea of who’s who. At one point, I happened to say to one of our female municipal representatives that it would be an interesting idea if some of the people here were to carry out DNA-testing, in order to gain a better understanding of the evolution of certain time-honored families. It was if I had suggested that they should grab a shotgun and fire at their feet.

In my enthusiasm for science and technology in general, and for genetics in particular, it’s true that I often tend to forget that many of my fellow citizens look upon DNA analysis as some kind of necessarily evil. For them, it belongs to the morbid category of crime detection, forensic tests, unsolved murders, Big Brother… At a less dramatic level, DNA analysis is likely to land you in trouble when it reveals that you’re not really the individual you thought you were, and that your alleged biological ancestors weren’t exactly the individuals they claimed to be. Eons of prehistoric experiences have taught us that there’s no point in waking up sleeping dogs. There are things that are better left unknown. And how might a genealogist such as myself disagree? Click here for a summary of a sleeping dog that was rudely awakened in our Skyvington household, recently, by DNA analysis.

Maybe, therefore, we should look into ways of protecting ourselves from the inevitably nasty consequences of DNA testing. Click here to see an imaginative video on this theme.

Why doesn’t a bright scientist simply invent a gadget (maybe a smartphone app) that would simply neutralize our personal DNA, turning it off (a little like unsubscribing from a Facebook account), so that nobody—not even Islamic jihadists or North Koreans—would be capable of attacking us?


Happy Winter Solstice greetings to all of my friends
in the Northern Hemisphere,
and complementary Summer Solstice greetings
to those in the Antipodes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sydney loony

Here in France, as elsewhere, Sydney’s terrible ordeal was front-page news, and we could follow events in real time, not only through the Internet, but on French TV news. At an early stage of the affair, I was impressed by a short video by a Wollongong academic, Adam Dolnik, who pointed out that the armed guy with hostages in the Lindt coffee shop on Martin Place was surely a lone loony, rather than a dyed-in-the-wool Islamic terrorist, because the dumb bugger hadn’t even been able to turn up with the appropriate “Islamic State” flag for his evil purposes.

As the day wore on, and fragments of information started to appear concerning the guy’s criminal background, I couldn’t understand (and I still don’t) why Australian media refrained from even hinting at his identity. After all, this dangerous fruitcake had become a minor media celebrity in Sydney… and I even stumbled across a Wikipedia page [click here] concerning the fake sheikh.


A photo of the Lindt window, flashed throughout the world, displayed an extraordinary juxtaposition of contrasting elements: the sort of image that will surely go down in the annals of news photography.


In the early hours of a sad morning, we learnt that there were two innocent martyrs: Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson.


I've just watched a fine video summary of the tragedy, from Channel 7, entitled Window two, hostage down. [I refrain from trying to provide a workable link to this video, but you might be able to use the title to access it.]

This calamity unfolded in a Sydney street, Martin Place, that was transformed long ago into a sanctuary devoted to the victims of warfare. On the eve of the centenary of Gallipoli, the Islamic loony committed a senseless crime whose consequences will be etched forever—in the spirit of this place—in the memory of the nation.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

De-extinction

The awkward term “de-extinction” designates the idea of recreating a living organism that had become extinct. This idea gives rise to two quite different questions:

• First, of course, it’s a matter of deciding how to attempt to perform such a de-extinction operation, at a purely technological level.

• Second, there’s the question of the ethical implications of such an act. In other words: Would we have a right, morally and socially, to perform such-and-such a de-extinction operation?

The de-extinction of dinosaurs would appear to be a failure at both levels. So, you should feel free to go ahead with plans for a nice wedding, say, with no fear of unexpected interruptions.


Things get somewhat more complicated when we envisage the de-extinction of Neanderthals.


Let’s suppose that we did in fact succeed in carrying out a successful de-extinction operation. What would you then do with such a fellow? It would be unwise to let him wander around freely as if he were a normal citizen of the world, because he would surely run into trouble, for countless obvious reasons. You could always try to get him adopted by a nice family of well-off God-fearing American Republicans. Or maybe you might think about packing him off to an outback cattle station in Australia to work as a jackeroo. But, as Donald Rumsfeld put it, there would be certain unknown unknowns… including the ugly idea that our Neanderthal friend might be enticed into becoming a militant in a jihadist organization.

The de-extinction of a woolly mammoth would appear to be a far more reasonable project.


On the one hand, with the help of modern elephants, the operation is probably feasible, and there would be room enough in the wilderness of lands such as Canada or Siberia to organize an ideal home-place for the resurrected creature, and maybe create a family environment.

In my native Australia, there are two fascinating candidates for de-extinction. The first is an amazing creature that was last seen as recently as 1985: the Gastric brooding frog.


Its mode of reproduction was really weird. The female swallows her fertilized eggs and then uses her stomach as a womb, finally giving birth to baby frogs through her mouth (as you can see in the above photo).

The other perfect candidate for de-extinction is the Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, which became extinct in 1936.


An Australian scientist, Mike Archer, has made a brilliant presentation of the case for de-extinction of these two creatures. Click here to watch his fascinating talk on this subject. At one point in his talk, Archer presents an old-timer who led him to his bush hut which used to be visited by Tasmanian tigers. And he introduces the marvelous theme of maybe keeping these animals as pets. Personally, I almost broke into tears of emotion when I heard Mike Archer making his case for this aspect of a de-extinction project. I looked fondly at this painting of a Thylacine and her pup:


And I said to myself that, since my dog Fitzroy has now developed the regular habit of sleeping inside the house, his charming old kennel is free to receive a guest.


So, if ever Mike Archer were looking for a nice place to house one of his future Thylacine pups, Fitzroy and I would be more than happy to receive such an adorable creature at Gamone. As for the idea of also accepting the Neanderthal fellow, to look after the tiger pup, I’m prepared to look into the question… but I would probably prefer a Neanderthal maiden who wouldn’t mind combining her Thylacine-care activities with housekeeping work at Gamone.