Saturday, January 14, 2012

Otherwise They Hate You, America

The US’ rebalancing of military forces away from Europe and into the Asia-Pacific region is causing consternation in the land of the rich yet needy and helpless. Helsinki lawyer Ralf Grahn summarizes:
While both sides want to maintain the NATO alliance, this long expected move leaves European leaders naked with regard to the state of EU foreign, security and defence policy, especially their inability to even begin the construction of a common European defence.

Since a press statements on every mishap in the world seems to be the extent of EU foreign policy, perhaps the high representative Catherine Ashton could crank out a few lines to let the heads of state or government continue sleeping on the job
This, only being the befinning of the third decade that ”United Europeans” have said that they might get around to something substantive in the interest of their own defense and deterrence that the US has been supplying them.

Is Wikipedia Really Trustworthy? Asks Le Monde — as It Proceeds to Get Bush's Middle Name Wrong

As the main title on the front page of its weekend edition, above the fold and across three fifths of the page, Le Monde has a heading asking whether Wikipedia is really trustworthy. Inside, Frédéric Joignot has an article pointing out Wikipedia's mistakes (while interviewing Jacques Florent), but what is perhaps noteworthy is that Le Monde might itself be in need of Wikipedia, since it still (!) gets the name of George W. Bush wrong (confusing Walker with Walter)…
…comment, en faisant appel au public, rédiger une encyclopédie fiable, sans amateurisme, qui ne devienne pas une foire d'empoigne ou un lieu de toutes les manipulations ? C'est très difficile. Depuis sa création, Wikipédia se trouve écartelée entre ses deux exigences originelles : le souci de la relecture experte voulue par Larry Sanger, dans la tradition des grands encyclopédistes depuis Diderot et d'Alembert, et la richesse d'une matière éditoriale parfois approximative, de parti pris, peu référencée, apportée par des milliers de passionnés ou des esprits sectaires.
Quant aux fameux " trolls ", les vandales et farceurs du Net, ils sont désormais repérés plus vite quand ils changent le second prénom de George W. Bush, Walter, en " Wanker " (branleur), prétendent que la boisson Red Bull contient du " sperme de vache " ou annoncent à tort le décès d'une star.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Those Who Are Against Shariah, Raise Your Hand

Plantu in Le Monde:
• Those of You Who Are Against Shariah, Raise Your Hand!

Arm aber Hässlich

63% of working Spanish households are now living off of €1000 per month.
To get to the end of the month on this kind of money in your pocket is a Herculean task. Many families are counting the cents closely before they head out to shop. For thousands of Spaniards today, buying something has become an act of renunciation.
That’s a hard fact, one which I wish on no one, but a hard fact that makes this argument about non-rising lower-tier America look especially foolish. It also takes the mickey out of the endless grinding griping about the WalMart-ization of America, and the Americanization of Europe since 63% of Spaniards now appear to be needing their sources of WalMart-ization and hideous Americanization to subsist with any dignity:
Against this harsh backdrop, the low-cost shopping phenomenon is flourishing, and it does not look set to die out any time soon. Quite to the contrary, it's becoming a more and more prominent feature of society and its economy. Restaurants, travel, cars, insurance, electronics, real estate, leisure, clothing, food: nothing seems to escape the pull of low-cost shopping.

The question, though, is whether low-cost shopping will still be around once the crisis has passed. Is it a structural or temporary strategy? How will the consumer have changed by then? Will he or she be more rational, less impulsive? Dare we assume that the search for the lowest price has become a new way of life?
Dare we not ask pointless questions about the survival skills of people and second guess individuals? Sit on your extra-special world-beating super-duper everything and spin – Spaniards are getting by without the luxury-aspirant subtext of the new Europe.
In the meantime, the low-cost concept is spreading fast and wide. “The consumer has gone from looking for what I call a 'superior functionality' to looking for the 'good enough functionality', which is cheaper. In other words, why should I buy a car with all the extras if I don't really need them?”
As with everything, unless it’s Europeans talking about Europeans, all European discussion of the state of the economy takes the form of either economically illiterate and emotionalized fits of kicking the victim, or using the usual straw men as a point of reference. That much-lauded compassion comes last.

But I digress. Let’s go back to those folks that should be thanking Sam Walton:
In any case, at bottom this phenomenon conveys a sense of urgency and need. As paradoxical as it sounds, it also conveys a desire to keep up one's standard of living and to go on enjoying a product or a simple luxury.

Rwanda: An Inconvenient Truth for France

A truth that is inconvenient for France, titles a Le Monde editorial as Christophe Châtelot returns to the Rwanda for new revelations on the genocide of the Tutsis, asking why it took 18 years to investigate the missile that brought down Juvénal Habyarimana's plane and determine that it was fired not from a Tutsi camp, as previously believed, but from a Hutu one (harboring the president's own troops, including extremists who used the occasion to go on a genocidal rampage against the Tutsi "culprits").

These revelations did not come out until France's head of state was Nicolas Sarkozy, whose government has little to fear from revelations that discredit François Mitterrand and Édouard Balladur, who supported both the Habyarimana régime and the Rwandan army…

L'enquête établit donc que ce sont les extrémistes hutu qui ont assassiné le président Habyarimana parce qu'il venait d'accepter un partage du pouvoir avec les Tutsi. Et non par des combattants tutsi proches de l'actuel président Paul Kagamé, en guerre contre le régime Habyarimana, comme le juge Jean-Louis Bruguière, prédécesseur de M. Trévidic, l'avait affirmé en 2006 sans jamais avoir enquêté sur le terrain. A l'époque, ses conclusions avaient conduit le Rwanda à rompre ses relations diplomatiques avec la France.
… Parce qu'elle dérange beaucoup de monde, cette vérité a mis longtemps à être établie. Elle ne gêne pas tellement la France de Nicolas Sarkozy, qui a renoué avec le régime de Paul Kagamé et qui, à Kigali, a reconnu les "graves erreurs d'appréciation" de Paris. Mais plutôt la France de la cohabitation Mitterrand-Balladur, qui a soutenu jusqu'au bout le régime Habyarimana, et celle d'une armée tricolore qui, longtemps, a approvisionné et entraîné les militaires rwandais, dont certains allaient participer au génocide.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why the Greeks are Quintessentially European

They put pederasty and welfare over the fate of the genuinely disabled, the future, and the debt passed on to their children:
The National Confederation of Disabled People called the action "incomprehensible," and said pedophiles are now awarded a higher government disability pay than some people who have received organ transplants.

The Labor Ministry said categories added to the expanded list - that also includes pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists and sadomasochists - were included for purposes of medical assessment and used as a gauge for allocating financial assistance.
So is this is the slow food-esque “quality of life” thing we get a finger wagged at us about, or the compassion and humanism thing we get a finger wagged at us about?
The new list gives pyromaniacs and pedophiles disability pay up to 35 percent, compared to 80 percent for heart transplant recipients.

"It's really not serious to grant Peeping Toms a 20-30 percent disability rate, and 10 percent to diabetics, who have insulin shots four or five times a day," said Vardakastanis.

Greece has been fighting to avoid bankruptcy since 2009. Public spending on health and welfare programs has been sharply cut under austerity measures imposed as a condition for receiving emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund and other countries using the euro currency.
So it seems that compassion and humanism®©™ come in state approved percentages of last years’ income. Who knew?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Quadrennial Retelling of the Same Old Stories

Well know globally for their lack of curiosity for anything other than ego-reinforcing rationalizations, European critics of the US (who detest the US anyway) are whining that using European society and a point of comparison with the US is “European bashing”.
What they conveniently ignore is that American Dream is not what it used to be. (Neither is the European Dream of an ever closer union, but that's another story).
Yes, it’s ALWAYS another story when you don’t want to tell the story.

In fact, it arrives to the usual level of stupidity Spiegel readers are familiar with, to the extent that one example is enough evidence to call it a trend, or perhaps a scourge. In fact to the extent that they start to make things up:
Europe is socialist, bloated and a threat to the global economy. That appears to be the message from the ongoing presidential campaign in the US. Republicans in particular have discovered Europe as a convenient punching bag -- and have even begun accusing each other of being too "European."
That message, also happening to be identical to many Europeans’ criticism of European society, but that’s not the point. Even as German growth is expected to be the strongest in Europe in 2012, and expected to top out at 1%, expect more of this, as well as the ritual retelling of the “American dream is dead”, for which there are vivid examples in the German press dating back to 1954.

Chock this up to “Freedom Fries” syndrome, a one-week story in the US which has reached its’ first decade of smug anger in the precious and benighted continent.

To back it up, an unrelated sneer has to be tangentially attached: an article in the NYT which selectively looks at a variety of unexplained studies to say that the US, where the poor live in comforts many middle income Europeans don’t have, and is the focus of criticism of “Americans being too well off” in turns, that Americans are less upwardly mobile than Europeans.

How, exactly? The same old saw: income disparity, the statistical tool of propagandists for more than a century. For example: how long a period is the trends mapped in multiple unexplained “studies” sampling? Are we being shown a delta founded on the 2008 contraction as the centerpiece? Is aggregate improvement in the state of what “bottom fifth” actually means being taken into account?

How, in our inexorable downward mobility spiral, can we also be criticized for also using too many resources, especially in a broad way across the income spectrum? How is it that we allow our unwashed and uneducated “lower 5th” or people like them, out of the country to find out that they are the boors so broadly offensive to Europeans as ignorant tourists? HOW doesn’t matter.

I’m not sure it even matters to the local reseller of meme X this week, given the notion of what they think “equal opportunity” means:
If equal opportunity is essential to freedom, then freedom is under attack!
So many misused truisms, so little time. Equal Opportunity, for one thing is assumed to mean Equal Outcome, an entirely Marxist jerking point, and one that Marxist-Leninism did a particularly bad job of actually achieving. This actually ADDS credence to the Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from the Politburo argument more than anything else.
And who knew that the lack of forced redistribution of wealth was critical in protecting freedom from attack, when freedom, and rights of all sorts can’t be redistributed, aren’t based in getting resources from others in society that aren’t earned, and are inherently equal before the “liberators from the shackles of common sense” like the author of “If equal opportunity is essential to freedom, then freedom is under attack!” can manage a go at them.

In fact the notion that one can shun Americans into using European society as a point of reference is, if anything, an attempt to obfuscate a curtailment of freedom.

But that doesn’t matter, because the guy behind that organ grinder author, like one European critic too many, is more interested in irrational point-scoring that the content of people’s arguments. That paragraph two has nothing to do with paragraph one outside of an old assumption having nothing to do with wither source is irrelevant.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Narrative Couldn’t Get any More Lame

After the Washington Post finally stopped sitting on the Solyndra “theft by greenist compassion” scandal, they manage a rather ludicrous and emotive revision.

David Burge:
« There you have it. In the Post's sob story narrative, the problem is not that a politically-connected network of donors devised a con to loot taxpayers of a half billion dollars; to the contrary, it's that the government negligently allowed the Solyndra scam to collapse, thereby depriving Ms. Sterio of her "clean-energy job." And, by implication, it continues to "betray" her by not creating another clean-energy job for her elsewhere. »
In fact it’s worthy of the weeper-style use of stage theater by FDR’s crypto-Communists covering for the confusing and useless policies of the time – which, as now, did little more than scare the economy’s real driving forces from wanting to even get out of bed. I’m reminded of the cause of all of this chaos which gives those selling green power and magic carpets an opportunity at mischief by Roosevelt himself quoted in Amity Schlaes’ “The Forgotten Man”:
« The main tasks Roosevelt assigned himself were simple. The first was that there be a broad sweep of activity; Americans must know Washington was doing something. If there were contradictions between experiments and within them, well, that did not matter. Partly this came out of the restlessness of the invalid; Roosevelt had risen politically but he still could not stand unaided. But partly it came out of a grandeur of spirit. “Do I contradict myself?” Roosevelt seemed to be asking, as Walt Whitman had. “Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.” »
All encompassing! To the point of near-infalabilty and super-human intelligence and ability no less than that mocked by Frank Flemming epic poem about another dissembler:
« If Obama is not listening to you, you can sleep soundly at night knowing your concerns are stupid. »

- from “Obama: The Greatest President in the History of Everything”, (Frank J. Fleming)

And the Progressive beat goes on. Even in the case of enabled and rationalized graft, their echo-chamber of protectors permits no questioning.

Steven Pinker on the Myth of Violence

Steven Pinker on the myth of violence (merci à Patrick)

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Return of ShadyRAT

Remember that endless whinging by people using the EU venue to complain about onerous US data security criteria? Remember the endless hammering on and on about SWIFT and information required of travelers invading the precious, immutable, eternally superior privacy and online identities of Europeans?

Well, ask your beloved activists and miscellaneous Wikileaks and Anonymous loving people who are into “revealing hidden truths” about this sort of “truth” telling.
A number of people working for the EU institutions have had their emails, passwords and credit card details hacked and released to the general public over the Christmas break.

A partial list was recently published online by Anonymous, a loose network of cyber activists campaigning against the so-called 'New World Order'.

Among the victims are administrators and officials at the European Commission, Eurojust (an EU body fighting organised crime), the European External Action Service, the European Parliament and Brussels-based think-tank the European Policy Centre (EPC).
That’s right! It’s that same pacifism brigade again. Their target? Their ever expanding Pantheon of imaginary hate puppets along the lines of Bu$hChimpHitlerBurton fetishisms, which now seems to include the EU and anyone else old enough to tie their shoe laces.
All together, some 850,000 confidential details were released when Anonymous hacked into the Texas-based Stratfor Global Intelligence security firm.

Stratfor is a widely used private security research company. About 75,000 of its paying subscribers also had their credit card details disclosed, including some working for the EU institutions.

The leaked database has 19,000 email addresses ending in the .mil domain of the US military according to the Guardian newspaper. The list also included 242 Nato staff members.
Peace out, peeps, because the blame goes back to where it always does: elsewhere. Apparently it’s American lobbying the administrative issues that caused this breech!
The entire operation could cast a long shadow over intense US lobbying against a leaked draft proposal for a Data Protection Regulation from the European Commission this past December.

Among the US complaints are the European Commission's views on data breach requirements, which they consider as "overly" severe and could undermine corporate data security practices.

"It is interesting to note that the US document tends to oppose specific proposals, such as the notification deadline and fines, in support of the vague issues such as not distracting businesses from improving corporate data security practices,"
Vague things like the real effect of minutae in regulation getting in the way of data security, something that you're not going to do anything about unless the never-ending threats to change reporting requiements and practices is done.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Happy Birthday to Elvis, from… Denmark?!

A replica of Elvis Presley's Graceland estate is opening in Denmark
reports the BBC.
The Danish tribute to 'The King' has been built in the town of Randers, and will be known as Graceland Randers.

The building is almost identical to the original, although it is twice the size to house a shop, restaurant and museum.

In a more detailed report, the BBC adds that

The building is the brainchild of Henrick Knudsen, an Elvis fan who … said the project has the backing of Elvis's widow Priscilla.

Web Goes Viral After Naked Man Turns Up in French Store's Kid Clothes Photo

Unfortunately for one of the French equivalents of Sears Roebuck, a number of mistakes appear on its online catalog. If only it had been solely the fact that the English spelling and grammar on one of La Redoute's T-shirts was questionable (Enjoy Holydays). Far worse, indeed, was discovering that lurking in the background of a beach photo for kids' clothes (one of the kid models is wearing a light blue version of the incriminating T-shirt) was an unsuspecting nudist walking delicately through the ocean water.

La Redoute promptly removed the photo, but not quickly enough to prevent the photo of the Naked Man (as the so-far-unidentified individual has been dubbed) from going viral (more examples here and by clicking on each of the pictures below). The second Redoute parody shows Nicolas Sarkozy from the back heading into the water and says "Black Swim Shorts (Sold Without the Rolex Watch)"