Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
In among the worn out middle-aged whores are scads of bike rental stands. Inasmuch as they've seen some more use than usual, they didn't sell (rent) like hotcakes. In fact, todays transit strike was a write-off, and a victory for the forces encouraging the dismemberment of individual responsibility.
One paper recommended along with the suggestion that people sleep at their jobs, ollerbading or skatebordingr at ones' peril on the “charming” cobblestone pavement. Good luck with all that.
"I have sworn before a picture of the old and mourned comrade Stalin that I won't rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated"
Did [Che Guevara] keep a picture of Josef Stalin at home?asks Benjamin Duffy.
Che's idolatry is bad enough, but it's even worse that Stalin was its object. Che once signed a letter to his aunt as "Stalin II," and even placed flowers on Stalin's tomb when visiting the USSR in 1960. If Che wanted to follow in the footsteps of his hero, he succeeded brilliantly.
…The future T-shirt icon … proclaimed to the press that his ideal societal model was Kim Il-Sung's North Korea. North Korea has been arguably the most unlivable spot on earth since the end of World War II. Guevara traveled there in 1965, saw the brutality and poverty with his own eyes, and then made it his goal to import that system to Latin America. As a champion of the poor, Che aspired to emulate a society that truly benefits its poorest inhabitants -anyone not named Kim Jong-il or Kim Il-Sung.
Most of the whining about Che's death seems to revolve around the fact that he was executed without trial, and that it was carried out by another one of those "U.S.-backed dictatorships" that they talk so much about. Well, that's true. Che was executed without a trial, and our country's relationship with Bolivia was one of many deals with the devil consecrated during the Cold War. Leftists always have a problem with U.S.-backed dictatorships, but never with Stalinist and Maoist stooges like — well, like Che Guevara.
…Actually, Che was a big fan of execution without a fair trial. As he once remarked, "To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary...These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate."
…So Che executed hundreds of people, and he's the hero. Felix Rodriguez executed Che, and he's the villain. Whose face belongs on a T-shirt?
Deep in the Gallic soul resides the notion that work is exploitation, a ruse concocted by American robber barons, best regulated and minimized and offset by hours of idleness. The demise of the Soviet Union left France leading the counter-capitalist school.Thus speaks Roger Cohen in his article of Christine Lagarde, France's finance minister aka "the anti-Descartes by declaring the French should think less to work more."
In an interview, Lagarde says that more than two decades at a U.S. corporation taught her: "The more hours you worked, the more hours you billed, the more profit you could generate for yourself and your firm. That was the mantra."
The equivalent mantra in the French bureaucracy might be: The fewer hours you work, the more vacation you take, the more time you have to grumble about the state of the universe, and the smarter you feel, especially compared to workaholic dingbats across the Atlantic with no time for boules.
To have similar work condition as the general public is not acceptable to transit workers, who are, as it is, already civil servants, are accorded with benefits employees and businesses have to struggle to create under legal mandates and a desire to do well by people. The public is NOT amused.
After the first wave of people clearing out of the city early on, all stations look abandoned as the 8 p.m. shutdown rolled around.
Don't forget that this is the country where college students protested in order to get their first job guaranteed for life. But from whom?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
When the ZDF "investigators" manage finally to cast doubt upon one or another of even the most ludicrous arguments of the "theorists," moreover, it is only ever after a seemingly immense intellectual effort -- when simple common sense ought to have sufficed.
…in the earlier segment [of September 11, 2001: What Really Happened], the fact that U.S. authorities did not shoot down [the first three] passenger jets is supposed to provide prima facie evidence of a U.S. government conspiracy; in the Shanksville segment, however, alleged evidence that U.S. authorities did in fact shoot down UA93 [the fourth jet] is supposed likewise to provide prima facie evidence of a U.S. government conspiracy. This is to say, in effect, that for the filmmakers — as indeed for the "theorists" — everything and its opposite is prima facie evidence of a U.S. government conspiracy.
The final abiding message of the ZDF documentary is that America is, in any case, somehow to blame: if not perhaps for the attacks themselves, then at least for the fact that the "skeptics" believe that America was responsible for the attacks.
…Never once in the ZDF documentary, however, is serious attention drawn to the responsibility of the 19 hijackers who carried out the attacks and their al-Qaida enablers and co-conspirators. The results of a ZDF online poll that appears on the promotional page for the documentary are thus hardly surprising. Asked to identify "who pulled the strings" in the 9/11 attacks, fully 66 percent of respondents, as of this writing, have chosen either "George W. Bush" (26 percent) or "U.S. Authorities" (25 percent) or the "Armaments Lobby" (15 percent). The fourth and remaining choice, "Osama Bin Laden," is given the nod by only 26 percent of respondents.
After Ché Gorevara, it's (thanks to Dave Runyan) the turn of Al God-ore…
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Too often the French can't think (and speak) straight … English provides freedom of thought and scope of expression, things that French doesn't offer
The pretentiousness and fuzziness are unbearable. Often when I doubt the soundness of a French statement, I translate it into English, and if it still sounds absurd in English, I know it's absurd.A Frenchman who went to live in the United States before returning to France has been accused of having an "abhorrence of French". Bookaroo replies:
Of course no, I have no "abhorrence of French" as they superficially put it. I belong to the last generation of French kids who had to learn Latin (I had 8 years of it) and to master the inflexible rules of good classical French. In NY I was known as the only French-American in my crowd who made a systematic effort to maintain his practice of the language.
With the few special students I am occasionally willing to instruct in French, I use only plays, especially Georges Feydeau's, or J.P. Sartre's for contemporary French. Both show an exquisite use of French. But in real life in GP, there's nothing that we hear in ordinary conversation or read in ordinary newspapers that can be compared to those playwrights.
What I can't stand is the mangling of the language by all ordinary modern French who've never learnt how to use it, and thus just write or say whatever they feel is understandable. My joke is that the French language is too difficult for the (modern) French. I would estimate that 80-90 % of modern French people don't know the language any more. Only professionals, who have to use French as their main tool — politicians, diplomats, lawyers, professors, bankers, writers — who need to be precise and have mastered good French through disciplined and relentless practice. And their kids, lucky they, directly learn from these proficient speakers. What a rarity and what pleasure to meet a 20-year old who can speak French beautifully and fluently. But all the other kids learn their French from parents who had only limited or bastardized knowledge of it (country people, immigrants, farm and industry workers, etc...) French is a rigid language (another joke: God invented French to torture people's minds), with much less flexibility than English, and much more difficult to use than English. English provides freedom of thought and scope of expression, things that French doesn't offer.
In addition I can no longer stand the pretentious French that is used to sound "serious", "profound", "malin", with flights of mysticism, pseudo-poetry, or often obscure verbosity. The big abstractions in French are unbearably vapid and cloudy (l'amour, la tendresse, la violence, la liberté, la fraternité, l'égalité, la connerie, etc...) all that mawkish sentimentality that has no real connection with people who are only interested in money, sex and food, in that order.
Too often the French can't think (and speak) straight. They don't know how to come to the point and love to go circles around the bush and leave you guessing. They've never been taught to be efficient, to focus and stay with the subject. Digressions, divagations, tangents, etc...the art of obfuscation. I read the Figaro every morning, and often I have to puke at the writing. The pretentiousness and fuzziness are unbearable. Often when I doubt the soundness of a French statement, I translate it into English, and if it still sounds absurd in English, I know it's absurd. That's my limus test. I have 500 books on art and art history, including French art, but I avoid those written by French art historians because of their temptations to sound profound and (to me) totally off their rocker. Not surprisingly the major art books on French art are written by British or American writers (occasionally Australian, as in the case of Robert Hughes).
I do follow the English-language theater in GP, but I avoid its attempts at performing in French. The English-language actors in GP find it exciting to test their ability to perform in French. For them it has great personal value. For me, their exercise holds no interest at all. Better to go to an authentic French play.
This is not abhorrence of French, but abhorrence of the mangling of the language by those who don't know it, and the misuse by those who know it but want to impress their audience by sounding "profond," "serieux," "malin", etc...always trying to make an effect even if they have to torture the language. Swim in ambiguity and fuzziness, sound high-falutin like an angel floating down from the heavens, never say what you mean, and never mean what you say seems to be their implicit principle. The French either don't know how to communicate, and waste an enormous amount of time and energy in conveying their meaning or trying to decipher others' meaning. With huge accidents of miscomprehension along the way. I fled to the US to escape from all this.
This was not the case in the 17th, 18th and even 19th century. The present state of French communication and writing is the consequence of the universal teaching adopted after the French Revolution, and of having to find new teachers for the millions of kids who suddenly had to go to school, teachers who themselves had little grounding in good living French. Those millions of kids are now those shaping up modern French. Where is it going? Who knows?
Meanwhile people who want to communicate clearly, rapidly and efficiently on the modern international scene resort to English. And rightly so.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Now Suriname wants a U.S. military base, just like its neighbors, Colombia and Peru. Over in Brazil, the military is reasserting itself. With Venezuela on the prowl, these are signs of an anxious region.Lefty predators threatening violence "for the people." Now isn't that a cute little anachronism...
These men and women put their own lives and livelihoods at risk by working to rid the world of violence and oppression. Let us hope they survive the coming year so that the Nobel Prize Committee might consider them for the 2008 award.Yet another European institution disposes of its' sense of proportion and common sense.
In Olso Friday, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded to the Burmese monks whose defiance against, and brutalization at the hands of, the country's military junta in recent weeks captured the attention of the Free World.