Saturday, October 17, 2009

We've learned so much since the Roman epoch

We look back at the Roman epoch with a sense of relief
sighs J R Dunn (Gratias tibi ago, Larwyn).
We've learned so much since then. No longer do we consider our leaders to be gods among men. No longer do we hand them unearned and meretricious awards and prizes. We don't turn on and destroy members of previous administrations. We don't tolerate incompetent and corrupt sycophants in high office. We've learned to recognize disorders such as pathological narcissism and assure that the victims do not gain high office. Any president who placed his prestige on the line with an athletic contest would be laughed to scorn.

And as for political bloodshed, that kind of savagery has no place in a modern democracy. Any party that called for the assassination of an opposing leader -- say, George W. Bush -- would simply be run out of the public sphere. Unlike the Romans, we all understand the concept of consequences, that what goes around comes around.

Don't we?

Love is a Warm Molotov Cocktail

Paris, the city of lurrrrve: « Beating and Scaring people “is funny” »

Elsewhere, and not to be missed is the high school chick kicking some dude in the nuts in a “student protest” over heaven only knows what, really.

¡ Но пасаран !

Either way this stuff is taking place at “festivals”.
The attacks are increasing at festive events in the capital. Long spared the violence that tarnished at regular intervals of other gatherings, many festive events in Paris have recently been targeted by gangs "formed" clearly from the Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne.

This week, the incidents that occurred last September 19 in conjunction with the Technoparade came up in a "debriefing" held in the Police Prefecture. At that time, a strengthening of security measures surrounding these events was emphasized. "The presence now of recurrent violent gangs on the Gay and Lesbian Pride Walk, the Celebrations by College Graduates or the Technoparade are disturbing to us," said Jean-François Demarais, Police Director for Public Order and Traffic.
A vote for communitarian spirit if there ever was one. So much for that ‘siesta after the fiesta’.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Extra Charges, Bribes, and a Yoke that Fetters Innovation: The Reality of France's State Health Care Is "Rather Insidious"

As Laetitia Clavreul reports in her Le Monde articles, the whole "Let's get a health system to make the society simpler and better" ain't as easy as it sounds… America's Democrats will hardly be overjoyed to hear one Le Monde reader testify:
aujourd'hui on est si mal soigné et il y a trop de médecins peu compétents. Il y a donc de ce fait une médecine à plusieurs vitesse et avec des niveaux de qualité très différents.
While another writes:
ce qui coute cher à la SS, ce n'est ni les médecins, ni les infirmières, ni les para médicaux, ni les médicaments, ni les dispsitifs médicaux, et si c'était des coûts de fonctionnement de la SS de l'URSAAF, du RSI de la DDASS, de la DRASS des ARH, des ARS, de la CNAM, de la MSA, de la SS étudiante [all kinds of French health care "inspirations"].
Meanwhile, as one reader castigates the "budgetary yoke that fetters innovation" (un carcan budgétaire qui limite fortement toutes les pistes d'innovation), Christian Saout, président du Collectif interassociatif sur la santé (no less), testifies that — because of "under-the-counter payments" — the reality is "rather insidious."
Les dessous-de-table sont interdits, contrairement aux dépassements d'honoraires. La difficulté, c'est la preuve, car le dessous-de-table est payé en liquide. Il faudrait le payer en chèque. Cela étant, il y a des sanctions très graves du Conseil de l'ordre sur les dessous-de-table : la radiation ou la suspension du médecin. Mais là encore, il y a peu de saisines du Conseil de l'ordre. Les Français se taisent sur tout ce qui se passe. Je ne sais pas s'ils le comprennent, car c'est assez insidieux.
And then there is yet another problem to factor in, as Catherine Rollot writes, also in Le Monde: The figures in France's poverty rate seem to be a total fantasy…

In any case, let us not forget that more than 25% of Paris doctors (and nearly a third of dentists and almost 2/5 of gynocologists) refuse to treat poor clients (and no, not because they are greedy capitalists, but because the administration imposes too much paperwork)…


I’d Like you to Meet my Wife and Sister

Go easy on the horses Habibi.

The genetic research institute found that around 63 percent of the genetic conditions found in Arabs, who often practice marriage between relatives, were related to consanguinity and warned the numbers were likely to rise as more research is conducted and more disorders discovered.

In the United Arab Emirates, a country with the fifth highest rate of inter-family marriages, there are currently more than 250 types of genetic diseases, the second highest after neighboring Oman.
No, it isn’t about wanting to ride that pony hard, it’s about an extreme lack of trust that's extremely common in the Gulf societies... Not trusting your children’s independently formed choices in who they seek to marry, not trusting anyone too far outside the brood, and not trusting that no part of one’s inheritance will end up outside the klan, even if needed to support a spouse and children with no ill intentions.
Despite the fact that it is widely practiced across the Middle East, marrying within the family might not be such a good idea, according to a report published Tuesday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poland's General Jaruzelski Basically Described as a Victim of the Polish Right's Witch Hunts Against Communists

Following the first in-depth article in Le Monde's "Mémoires à vif du communisme" series, devoted to Prague, Piotr Smolar devotes the second entry to Poland's General Jaruzelski.

Needless to say, the left-leaning French journalist invokes today's search for justice (equally naturally, that is never an expression that he uses) as "the witch hunt against communists", describes Wojciech Jaruzelski as being pursued like "a common criminal" for "communist crimes" (in quotation marks in the original), and mentions the Polish right's "toxic grains, already sown, [which] continue to grow."

Only in the second half of the article do we learn — in (very) rapid succession — of some of the acts of repression that occurred during communist times ("Le général symbolise cet ancien régime appelé avec dédain "komuna", qui a envoyé les dissidents en prison, contraint d'autres à l'exil, privé les citoyens de leurs libertés civiques, assassiné le père Jerzy Popieluszko, enlevé et torturé à mort en 1984"), but they are treated as passive tragedies that — contrary to the right's "toxic" search for revenge (it's for justice, actually) — ought to be forgiven and forgotten.

And the communist régime's acts of repression are immediately minimized by a truly scandalous deed, the comparisons with the left's international bogeyman, General Pinochet, that the Polish general had to undergo ("on a même comparé Jaruzelski à Pinochet" — he was even compared to Pinochet; imagine! how much humiliation must a (strong)man undergo?!), a comparison that Jaruzelski protests vigorously against, with Piotr Smolar managing, in the process, to make the Polish autocrat sound heroic and principled.

“Don’t Make a Federal Case out of it!”

With a characteristic ignorance for the concept of separation of powers that keeps governments from turning into top-down quasi-dictatorships, EUvians are shocked by the Czech Republic wanting to add a condition to the Lisbon Treaty, as would be his right to propose. It is a simple one: to guarantee some sort of partitioning of court rights such that national judiciaries retain some powers traditionally held locally, much as they do in a German Land, a US State, or a Canadian Province.

Not only does his proposal offend on the basis of him using his political position to do politics (after all, he didn’t just sit down and shut up, but add to the debate surrounding just what form of government the EU is to take), but was treated with such incredulity that the EU’s state-press operation, Euranet, would not publish in written form what Czech President Vaclav Klaus’ proposal entails.

The cackles raised against it amounted to: “we won’t do federalism, so don’t even mention it” and “by the way, you’re still supposed to call this a democracy”. In short, the reaction reinforced a lack of commitment pluralism and to the potentially rich and meaningful debates we find in history regarding the formation of nation-state organization.

The anti-federalist position which is trying to cut off the mere mention of member states of any philosophically meaningful matters, perhaps even “missing an opportunity to shut up” when it comes to the future of the laws their population will have to live under is obscene.

The amusing thing about it is that it makes a “Federal case” out of all legal claims concerning property rights, something that can be readily resolved at the level of contract law on the nearest, lowest level of a judicial structure, and only slightly above that of a traffic court.

But since hurt feeling and ideological wars of attrition are the real issue at hand here, and not a population having a hand in how the super-state will be shaped, it’s reduced to a spitball fight over whether or not Vaclav Klaus gives you the creeps for talking about the basics of a democracy.

If anything needs “more Europe, not less Europe” to resolve itself, it is the genuine constitutional formation of a European democracy, instead of the Potemkin village just mounting the words “we aren’t a de facto autocracy” that it now appears to believe to be its’ only viable course.

What it amounts to is little more than an attitude about participatory government not matched by anything genuinely resembling a bottom-up model, and it appears to be trained-in like a dog conditioned to pee on cue. If you merely mention ‘rights’ to the ur-EU citizen, the notion that it means an entitlement to resources taken from someone else is the first thing that springs to mind, when in reality, a right is an inviolable freedom to act on a matter on your own behalf – the freedom of the individual, the thing slowing having been conditioned out of most Europeans over the past century.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Yes, We God"

Just in case you are not convinced that Europe's honeymoon with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate is over, take a look at an editorial that appeared on the front cover of Le Monde's Éducation supplement — over three months ago!

Marc Dupuis's title says it all — « Yes, we God » (and ain't that the epitome of profoundness?!) — and please be aware that this lampoon on Obama's (just as utterly profound) campaign slogan was written back in June, in response to Barack Obama's visit to the beaches of D-Day.
Il était venu commémorer en Normandie le débarquement du 6 juin 1944, il a lui-même débarqué. Puis il s'en est allé, non sans avoir semé le trouble en dictant à la France le droit pour les femmes musulmanes de porter le voile.
All pretense of the solemn officialdom due to the respect for the hallowed dead at Omaha Beach, swept away by BHO's invocation of (or paying lip service to?) the Almighty and by his alleged meddling (Obama's, not the Lord's, although it's true that the two are often confused these days), real or otherwise, into France's secular society. (Merci à Marie-Rose pour la photo.)

Oh, and by the way, remember that after Bush's six or seven years in the White House (20 in the public eye if you count his same-named father), they still couldn't spell the name of "Georges" Bush right (or that of "Condy" Rice)? The Apologizer-in-Chief has dominated the news for what, two years, three, now? And that still isn't enough for them to get his name right either!
Barak Obama risque de réveiller ici le conflit sur la laïcité.

Who Said Dada was Dead?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Raising Warning Flags: This Time, the Hawks Are French

As Russia thanks the Obama administration for its reset button and for its abandoning Central Europe's missile shield by… refusing to go along with sanctions against Iran, John Vinocur jumps in with an article entitled This Time, the Hawks Are French.
When a country gets certified as a Multilateral Good Guy as the United States did last week, thanks to the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, one of the obligations that comes with the designation is listening seriously to warnings from less powerful partners.

Against the background of America’s recent past, these circumstances would ordinarily mean the United States hearing about its insufficient nuance, inadequate patience, and fatal reliance on force. Hand on throat, or finger to trigger — that’s not the way to do it, the classic admonition went.

Prepped and practiced, the Yanks could comfortably answer these days (even to applause), we’ve understood.

But there’s something that’s not clear: how this America reacts now when it’s told it’s behaving weakly, indecisively, or perhaps deceptively in inadequately trying to stop Iran’s rush toward a nuclear weapon.

… Their warnings can be blunt: that the United Sates is playing a flabby, losing game against Iran … Could Mr. Obama be well served by explaining more clearly why people should have faith in him on these issues which, at least at the leadership level of this country, are dead serious matters of concern?
John Rosenthal adds:
Back in the day, the mainstream news media used to revel in the political misfortunes of the European leaders that had supported George W. Bush and “his” Iraq war. The depiction of their downfalls constituted a veritable morality play. Think José María Aznar, Silvio Berlusconi, and Tony Blair.

… Never mind the facts. The grand narrative of the European masses rising up against the “deeply unpopular” Iraq war dictated that the (supposed) difficulties of the Bush allies had to be the story.

If Aznar, Berlusconi, and Blair were the villains in this narrative — traitors to the law-abiding, peace-loving European cause — the heroes also came in three: German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the dynamic French duo of President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. Oddly enough, however, when these leading lights of the Franco-German “axis of peace” themselves went down to defeat or bowed out without a fight as their electoral prospects dimmed, this was not a story.

… one comes to a startling realization. Some six and a half years after the start of the Iraq war, continental Europe’s three largest and most powerful countries are all led by politicians who more or less openly supported the war and/or severely criticized the Franco-German efforts to prevent it.

By a bizarre historical irony, however, the politics of the “axis of peace” continue to lead a sort of shadow existence in Washington — in the person of Barack Obama. … notwithstanding the Nobel committee’s condescending pat on the back for their disciple, Obama’s European role models are all gone. He is on his own now and should his pursuit of “peaceful dialogue” give rise to a nuclear Iran and threats of greater and more terrible wars, this will be his responsibility.

We hope Václav Klaus has a trusty food taster

This "respecting democracy" business can get a bit nasty:

The Czech Cabinet meets in emergency session today to consider how to persuade their stubborn President to sign the Lisbon treaty — under intense pressure from Paris and Berlin to complete the ratification as soon as possible.

With President Klaus demanding a last-minute amendment as the price of his signature — the final approval required in the 27-nation European Union — the Government is locked in a trial of strength with its head of state and on the brink of a constitutional crisis. If it supports his demands the treaty might have to be reopened amid lengthy delays, possibly allowing time for David Cameron’s Conservatives to win the next British election and hold a referendum on the treaty as they have promised.

If the the Czech Government opposes President Klaus then it may have to resort to a form of impeachment or strip him of his treaty-signing powers so as to complete ratification.

Ever Been in a Swiss Prison, Joey?

The unsurprising non-news item of the day is that Polanski feels depressed in jail.

Elsewehere: Gideon Rachman redefines doom: the curse of “peace”.

Of Many, Many Minds

Inconsistent ones, especially when it comes to Polanski, Mitterand the lesser, and chemical castration, and based in large part on your importance in society.

France is considering the compulsory "chemical castration" of sexual criminals after a woman jogger was murdered in a forest south of Paris by a convicted rapist.
The choc of the case that raised this issue over the past three weeks has a curious familiarity in the details to things others find rather forgivable in the Arts community.
Manuel da Cruz, 47, had already been sentenced to 11 years in prison for the kidnap and rape of a 13-year- old girl in 2002. He was released in March 2007 and went back to live in the same village as his young victim.

The case has generated an outcry against the French judicial system and pressure for the hardening of a law introduced in 2005 which allows sexual offenders to volunteer for so-called "chemical castration" – the use of anti-hormone treatment to reduce or destroy the sexual appetite.
While each of these narratives has revealed something else altogether about the feelings of the elite and a population that feels neglected and unprotected, it brings to mind the dozens, if not hundreds of tirades by the Chavista Steno Pool that characterizes the French blogosphere, especially the unemployed hacks at Rue89 regarding the “meanness” and “inhumanity” of Americans registering sexual offenders who have served their sentences or are on parole.

Interestingly, no flag went up when Michele Alliot-Marie declared in response to the murder-rape in Fontainbleau that
'We have to look at how, as part of surveillance and control measures after someone leaves prison, we might make this more restrictive if necessary.
...because to such great abstract social thinkers, it’s philosophically different when people are raped in a society that you’re reflexively biased against.

And how’s THIS for meaness? On requiring past offenders to be administered hormone suppressing, the one-time French critique was that Americans were barbaric control freaks. I suppose those same ‘culture warriors’ will have to find something else to beat off to for a while. Alas now, even our favorite post-menopausal space kidette is ready to make them bend over and give them the jab in the name of women everywhere.
They were supported by some politicians on the left, including the Socialist former presidential candidate, Ségolène Royal. "Everything which goes in the direction of preventing sexual predators from attacking again must be tried," she said.

Is it time to start calling her “Caribou Barbie” and “that bimbo” for wanting society to stand between the genuinely evil and the genuinely vulnerable? Good heavens, no. That’s only in bad taste when it’s a leftist being smeared, and it is now officially speaking NOT too harsh to judge when your political image is at stake.

Otherwise, one can only wonder how Daniel Cohn-Bendit feels about the wave of perversion pop-culture right now, knowing that he was once a man who was all too proud to discuss his conneries pédophiles in 1976 when he was running a kindergarten. Guess what... he’s « ill at ease » to let Polanski get entirely off the hook, either out of a surprising maturity or something that his political radar set off, especially when fellow political crash-test dummy Bayrou accused him of “enabling pedophilia”.

All of this kind of thing, if it involved any sort of violation of trust on the part of a social and political elite (frankly they’re merely entertainment figures), used to be called “Americanized politics”. Alas, the “Americanization” that’s effectively forcing that same social and political elite to operate under the same laws as the population is doing rather a fine job, and even bringing the suspect sorts to start by demonstrating some of that old-fashioned, long-hated, guilt-inducing repentance.

Meanwhile the scramble to contain stories of those who just couldn’t contain it continue apace. Mr. past pederast pride, Frédéric Mitterrand has been trying to deflect a past use of his name and political weight to get two teenagers convicted of rape off of the hook in far off Réunion.
"I gave my testimony about the morality of a family"
That was back when he “sure was one to talk”, but 4 years after he was proud, so proud of his travel adventures. He was used as a character witness for the nephews of his former makeup artist at France 2, who is a godson of his, and had only met 5 times in his life.

I suppose a great deal of a person’s character can be discerned that quickly. Especially when the truism that always seems to override the judgment of a person’s actions and the way up and out of the cretinous lack of control of them is that continental 1st commandment that “one hand washes the other”.

I think they could use some of that stuff they used to deride as “Americanization” of this or that, with that “façade of piety”. You can also be certain that it will be renamed first.

Still think green governmentalist mandates won't cost you a thing?

We won't even delve into the issue of reliability.

Photo Caption Contest

(Thanks to Duncan, I think it was, for "The Studious Apologizer in Chief")

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey

Now it’s all just another lifestyle choice.

"They are extremely well organized, extremely well trained. I say that given the methods used, the objects bound weapons they used, so it's ultra-violent ,(...) who can crack anywhere in France on commando-type operations, "said the prefect of Poitou-Charentes, Bernard Tomasini, on France Info.
This, town the Poitiers town of Vienne, spitting distance from Strasbourg, where the CERN employee with suspected al-Qaeda links is from. So much for that reputation of reminding people of a cheesy coocoo clock.

The provisional wing of the “peace movement” in this case the adolescent ninnies of the Black Block are protesting the fact that prisons exist.
In the afternoon, claiming 200 supporters of an anti-prison had gathered in the downtown area where they attended the festival of street theater of "expressions".

The event organized by the Collectif contre la prison de Vivonne drew police said militants from neighboring departments and very organized.

Taking advantage of the [local street] festival, the demonstrators in the hoods or scarves, sometimes armed with sticks, smoke bombs or firecrackers, attacked the windows of some twenty shops, smashed the windows of bus shelters, street furniture, and "tagged" monuments.
I guess somewhere in their kiddie logic, their crime-wave will bring that kind off world peace where prisons aren’t needed.
According to the regional prefect, there was no prospect of such action, apparently designed to protest against the transfer of 118 inmates from the prison of Poitiers in the new prison in Vivonne.
My guess is that the transferred prisoners would probably want protection FROM the Black Bloc more than the “liberation” by these morons who claim to want anarchy and authoritarianism. Now if any of them could only hold down a job...

The Nobel Prize is really Obama's payback for disciplining the unruly United States and taming it to be a member of the European family of nations

Whether it was rewarding Jimmy Carter for criticizing the Iraq war or supporting Al Gore in his crusade against global warming, the Norwegian parliament, which chooses the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, has sought to use the award as a political tool to influence American politics.
Dick Morris & Eileen McGann explain the true reason why "they hate us" (nope, it's got nothing to do with Bush or Reagan…).
Its prestige and moral power make the prize a potent weapon with which to help steer the direction of the colossus beyond the seas that controls a quarter of the world's economy and most of its military power.

Now, the Norwegians have weighed in to support Barack Obama in his bid to reshape America so it looks more like, well, Norway, or at least like Europe.

European socialism cannot succeed without conquering the United States.

If the European Union has high taxes and the U.S. keeps its levies low, business and brains will flow to America. If the EU's labor standards require long vacations, high benefits, and proscribe layoffs and ours do not, employers will migrate across the ocean to do their business in the States.

If the Old World curbs ambition by taxation, regulation, and social opprobrium, the ambitious will flock to the New World as they have done for 400 years.

So, Lenin was right. Socialism cannot exist in just one country — or one continent. It must dominate worldwide or wealth and power will flow to those who remain committed to the free market. Europe realizes this reality, and it makes Obama's election as president of the United States all the more welcome.

The Nobel Prize is really Obama's payback for disciplining the unruly United States and taming it to be a member of the European family of nations. Europe wants to reverse the American Revolution and re-colonize us, and it sees in Obama a kindred spirit willing to do its bidding.

Does the United States let its entrepreneurs run wild, coming up with fanciful new ideas and making billions from them? Obama will regulate and subdue business just like they do in Europe.

Do U.S. businesses compete by slashing prices, aggressively pursuing markets, and jockeying for market share? Obama will make them behave themselves and stay in line just like European companies do.

Do Americans work hard and push aggressively to make as much money as they can? Obama will raise taxes, emphasize community values, and narcotize their ambition by offering government largesse.

And does the United States still believe in a sloppy, contrarian democracy in which ordinary people can directly affect their government, states have powers, and courts can reel in executive authority? Obama will use his rubber stamp majority in Congress to pass new laws regardless of public opinion and make us obey.

In foreign policy, is the United States still willing to stand up, alone if necessary, to protect human rights in Bosnia, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan? Obama will curb this unruly independence and mold it within the fabric of appeasement that has dominated Europe for the past half a century.

All this heavy lifting, this conversion of America into a European state, deserves a reward. And what is a more fitting one than to give Obama than the Nobel Peace Prize?

He obviously doesn't deserve the award for economics or, given his healthcare ideas, for medicine. But the Peace Prize expresses Europe's longing: to take back the nation its overly ambitious and uppity children founded.

Update: Dick Morris Brings Up Mitterrand and Lenin As He Analyzes Obama's De Facto Attempt to Bring the US Into the European System

In other words, Dambisa Moyo is right...

...although the "experts" at the international aid/assistance funding trough would never (could never) admit it:

The question is why. The criticism that development aid isn't working, or is counterproductive, is almost as old as development aid itself. And experts have torn Moyo's book apart because of its juggled statistics, one-sided interpretations and lack of a credible alternative to development aid.

Ton Dietz, scientific director of the institute for development issues at the University of Amsterdam, offers an explanation: "She's cute, glamorous and well-spoken. This works well in an entertainment-driven society."

Farah Karimi, director of Oxfam Novib, also refers to Moyo as a 'media hype'. Karimi attended Moyo's lecture on Wednesday in Amsterdam, where an extra room had to be opened up to accommodate the hundreds of people who showed up. Karimi says it's a good thing Moyo has given the debate about the effectiveness of aid a new impulse, but she feels the "shortsighted" way she has done so is "inherent of the times we live in".

Karimi compares Moyo to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-Dutch anti-Islam crusader. "In the end, what has Hirsi Ali really accomplished with her harsh criticism of Islam? She offered few solutions for the integration issue, and she polarised people. Who still talks about her now?"

Dietz is afraid the media's portrayal of Moyo as an expert has undermined the support base for development aid at a time when more nuance is what is needed.

Yet Another Hall of Mirrors Structural Glass

Richard Laming comments in the EU Observer on the subject of what buildings tell us about the state of governance in a society, pointing out that there is a direct form of expression in the buildings built to represent those governments. However, he’s overlooked entirely the dynamics of design and the patronage of design and instead gives us a lauditory argument about seating and how cheap it is to build yet another behemoth in Brussels.

Designs such as these are driven by the degree to which a designer thinks it can gage a committee’s notion it has of its’ institution and the significance thereof, and that committee’s concept of the ‘nation’ it represents.

In the case of the Council of Ministers building, one of a dizzying array of relevant sounding bodies, it is nothing other than any modern airport design: sterile, distant, and with the obvious cliché of using glass as an analog for the notion of transparency. Reflective glass being “a mirrors reflecting society” is another one of these sad rationalizations that I hoped was long abandoned since its’ height in the late 1980s as well.

It’s also touted as so many things now are as touching and attentive to the Euro-Ur-human Jedermann type through symbolic, fig-leaf environmentalism that is already regarded by the public, and not just a great many design professionals as pandering and fixated on whatever symbolism works today.

Thirdly, there is the way the building reflects our political times. Much emphasis has been put in the design, and in the PR, about the ecological considerations that have been incorporated: the building will generate some of its own electricity through solar panels on the roof and it will recycle all the rain water.
These are NOT remarkable things, but as with the clatter of all the sorts of things being promoted as good measures in Architectural practice now that academic Architects are trying to rebuild a long discredited Hegelian noblesse oblige, is costly beyond the wisdom of it’s benefits, and appear far more absurd that they realize. For example: trying making your own power with solar panels is a disastrous use of resources. It requires more energy than a city plant, and costs quite a bit more.

And in case you’re wondering where ALL the water coming out of your tap came from, all of it was once rainwater. Evidently Rube Goldberg illustrations of how nature works are what sensitivity to resources in Architecture is now reduced to, and is growing into a kind of perfunctory and pedantic acting out of ritual statement and presentation. It is now, more than ever, becoming a kind of self-inflicted stigmata, once found in medieval society as a way of displaying your faith to others, with no evidence of a personal belief in it at all.

Too harsh, you say? No. When you expend more in resources than is ever to be returned compared to the non-promotional conventional means of doing the same thing, then it too proves that it’s taking place to make such a display of oneself to the detriment of the thing one wants so much to be loved for. It’s sad.
You can tell a lot about a political system from the buildings it erects to house its decision-makers. They provide a literally concrete expression of the collective self-image of the politicians inside.
True that, bro. It’s unselfconsciously called “The Résidence Palace” after the exisiting building is proposed to engorge, a cozy and warm place from which no lucky palace resident is ever likely to be removed but by their own free will. Like the sad concealment of primacy of calling a leader “fist among peers” it is hard to believe that a name like that can bring to mind the notion of democracy. We are to believe that this is a catharsis: from the old to the new, or more precisely: from the old to the soon-to-look-dated which has never permitted any sort of confidence in knowing what time the founders lived in.

Like all new prominent European designs, it’s “over the top”, over-designed, with over-scaled elements speaking to a supremacism immune from lese majesty, and states quite firmly in form and execution that the public’s money is to be misspent and considered little more than an instrument of a governments aspirations for glory, much as a it was in the distant past where usurious taxes were levied to gild an oblivious monarchic elite’s cage. Throwing the peasants a few things about salvaging some rainwater here as opposed to there is one of those things wrongly believed to ameliorate that arrogance. Awkward design antics and a Greenie veneer will do nothing to blunt it, not even to the uncritical citizen.
The greatest cultural miscalculation is that It (as do many other new “state-managed-utopia” designs,) demonstrates with scientific empiricism exactly where it is that the money embedded in the project ISN’T going. As with the new Euro-designed and contracted NATO headquarters, it demonstrates quite clearly that someone ISN’T getting their new up-armored vehicle in favor of the cost of “good design” when even the larger member states can’t seem to acquire heavy-lift aircraft made by their own industries. Since one must believe that government monies didn’t come from the public to do this, and believe this they must for the show to go on.

Europe, we are told over and over by the pedantic promoters of its’ wonderous nature, is supposed to be rife with those who understand the universal nature of man, have superior design skills and taste, etcetera, etcetera, and so on, but the same promoters can’t seem to identify the obvious: the barrier of a world view wracked with elitism, especially in matters of the role of a government institution in a free society. This is where the cold, ham-fisted, and architecturally indulgent design hits the nail right on the head. It indentifies the cream of a continent’s governmental elite beautifully: the warmth and understanding prominently found on the label just isn’t in the box.

The hilarious part is in the execution. By overusing the same architectural vocabulary as so many projects before, it becomes indistinct. One glass prima donna competing for attention abutting too many others to not be confused for the corporate head office of contrived “national champion”.

Cat on a Dark Wind Shield

A daredevil cat (by the name of Jixie Juny) rides on the hood of a moving car

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Like it never even happened

Reflections on a Current Presidential Administration

Quoth a Turkish General once:

"The problem with having the Americans as your allies is that you never know when they'll turn around and stab themselves in the back."

- 1000 thank yous and all of my rhuminant livestock
to Lord High Executioner Michael Philips

In America, France's “accumulation of mandates” might be more aptly referred to as “petty dictatorship”, or even “corruption”

Among the topics in Rachel Marsden's column, What France Is Debating While America Tackles Health Care, is that of "Accumulation of mandates":
There are at least six levels of elected political office available to politicians in France, and they’re allowed to hold more than one simultaneously. They can also be concurrently employed as a lobbyist for a private enterprise, enabling them to directly lobby themselves and their friends in their various elected roles – sometimes over the lunch hour break during their legislative sessions. About 70% of the French National Assembly (equivalent of the American Congress) has such a private sector gig.

Some in France have identified this as a problem, and it’s a constant topic of debate here. But why fight it too hard when you could one day benefit from it yourself? “Accumulation of mandates”, it’s called. You know who else has a problem with “accumulation of mandates”? Fidel Castro. Hugo Chavez. Guys like that. In America, it might be more aptly referred to as “petty dictatorship”, or even “corruption”. Here it’s not really a problem so much as a perpetual opportunity to appear concerned and pro-democratic – all while maximizing one’s income.
Now you know why French leaders, élites, and intellectuals — as well as those of the world — are always demonizing, skewering, and ridiculing America, its society, and its capitalist ethics: it's not because of Bush, or Reagan, or the poor, or Hiroshima; to provide a the populace with a preemptive vaccine against any one citizen standing up and saying: "les Américains may have their faults, but still, they're better off than we are. Why can't we too do it that way?"