Saturday, June 11, 2011

Droit du Dirty Old Man

SINCE … Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, was arrested on sexual assault charges in New York, French politicians have been loudly expressing their horror at his “violent” treatment at the hands of America’s criminal justice system
writes Stephen Clarke, the author of 1,000 Years of Annoying the French, while Martine Laronche tackles le mur du silence in Le Monde.
France may think it had a revolution, but in fact it just got a new, and even more powerful, elite. They believe themselves so indispensable to the running of the country that trying to topple one of them is a bit like threatening to shoot a prize racehorse for nibbling your lawn. You’re meant to shut up and let them nibble.

This is why the French establishment sees Mr. Strauss-Kahn — rather than the traumatized chambermaid the police say he attacked — as the victim. The same case would never have come out in the open in Paris. The woman would have been quietly asked whether she thought it was worth risking her job and her residence permit. She would have been reminded that it was her word against his, and frankly, whom would people believe? The witty, famous man with the influential friends, or the nobody?

French politicians are known to be serial seducers, and as a rule no one bothers them about it. …

… The most telling parallel with the Strauss-Kahn case is that of Roman Polanski. Whatever his talents as a filmmaker, he fled the United States to France in 1978 to avoid being sentenced for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. When he was arrested in Switzerland in 2009, at the request of the American authorities, the whole of the French cultural establishment rose up to defend him.

At this year’s Césars ceremony (the French equivalent of the Oscars), Mr. Polanski received an award for “The Ghost Writer,” which, to quote France’s most respected newspaper, Le Monde, “marked his return to the family after his legal troubles.” They made it sound like a speeding ticket.

All of which leads me to my belief that even if Dominique Strauss-Kahn is convicted and has to serve time, he will someday return to France, publish his autobiography (which will, of course, be adapted for the big screen by Mr. Polanski) and eventually be made a government minister. Minister of gender equality, perhaps?

Kameradschaft, 1931

The film was a landmark in cinéma verité stylization, but that’s not what’s interesting about it. What’s interesting about it was that it was that it was just another case of the arts being used as a platform to promote socialism, and a phonied-up “internationalism” of promoting German-French "solidarity" like so many dopey, government funded foundation exercises today.

It’s time to celebrate eighty years of that sort of awkward propagandizing, so rah-rah, and all that. It’s just as wooden then as it is today.

As it is with Socialism, the film has the vague stench of Communist era “brother-nation to brother-nation friendship parades” which amounted to a compulsory attendance for school children, troops, and factory workers. Drag out the German-Mongolian comradeship banners again Fritz!”

How much of this day and age's EU happy horseshit amounts to the same sort of rah-rah-ing that only the young really buy?

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Call it Terroirism

Behold the monomaniacal European mindset on display.

The French government regulates speech for no reason other than commercial purposes. Twitter and Facebook may no longer be mentioned in television unless the story is about Twitter or Facebook, and you can expect the same sort of passive-aggressive resentful coverage to be all that the two operations will be left with.

Why? Because they are foreign businesses. They would do this to other Europeans if need be.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's colleagues have agreed to uphold a 1992 decree, which stipulates that commercial enterprises should not be promoted on news programs, the Daily Mail reports.

Broadcasting anchors would be forbidden to refer to the popular social networking site and the microblogging phenomenon, unless it is relevant to a news item.
...unless it’s a domestic commercial enterprise, of course, especially if the state still has an ownership stake in it.

When you really see what laws are on their books, or when domestic motives are exhibited, there is no point in calling them free societies in the slightest way.
Christine Kelly, spokesperson for France's regulator of broadcasting Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA), believes that the government is correct to uphold this law.

"Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition?" Kelly said.
Regulating television content and speech using free enterprise as a pretext. The fact is that most of the natives are too far gone to grasp just how bizarre that statement really is.

The Reference Book That Has Been Missing from Your Bookshelves

…cet énorme dictionnaire coordonné par Christophe Bier et requérant les compétences d'une petite trentaine de rédacteurs entend constituer une étape vers une meilleure compréhension d'une cinématographie aujourd'hui disparue (c'est désormais l'affaire des productions vidéo, exclues de l'ouvrage)
writes Jean-Luc Douin in his Le Monde book review about (editor) Christophe Bier's "enormous dictionary" which "intends to constitute a step towards a better understanding of a cinematography that has vanished".

At almost 1200 pages, the Dictionnaire des films français pornographiques et érotiques — listing French erotic and porn movies from Les Brouteuses to Dehors-dedans through Hippopotamours and Miss Partouze — costs 89 Euros and it gets rave intellectual reviews from Jean-Luc Douin. (The reason that this is a cinematography that has supposedly "vanished" is that porn films are no longer shot on 16-mm and 35-mm film but on video, and porn videos being excluded from the encyclopedia, the titles are limited to 1,813 "films", most of them shot between 1974 and 1996 — although there is also space for Luis Buñuel's L'Age d'or ("anthropologie psychanalytique et surréaliste étonnante"), Bernardo Bertolucci's Le Dernier Tango à Paris ("grand film d'auteur, polémique et dérangeant"), Jean Becker's L'Eté meurtrier ("cinglant réquisitoire contre le viol"), and Georges Lacombe's La Lumière d'en face.)
Ce cinéma-là plaide ici pour un droit à être étudié avec son histoire, ses codes, ses modes, ses auteurs, ses stars, et cet outil de référence sur un genre déconsidéré, oublié des histoires officielles, affiche son ambition d'expliquer pourquoi il appartient au patrimoine culturel du cinéma français. "L'ambition n'est pas d'écrire un guide, mais bien cette évolution des représentations de la sexualité et du désir", écrit Christophe Bier.
Oh, and by the way, in pure intellectual fashion, in this dictionary of movies, XXX or otherwise, there are no… photos, no outtakes, no posters, no on-the-set shots, or any other image of any kind (never mind a DVD)…
Aucune illustration ne vient troubler les motivations d'un lecteur ciblé comme historien, sociologue, cinéphile plutôt que voyeur.
Comments by Le Monde readers include:
Un livre à lire de la main gauche ?

Ecrire un tel dictionnaire: quel b(l)eau job pour cette trentaine de raides-acteurs!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Chirac at the Helm of the Republic: 12 Years of Solitude

At 78, Jacques Chirac is publishing the second part of his memoirs, writes Béatrice Gurrey in Le Monde, that take us from the end of François Mitterrand's presidency to the beginning of his successor's term, via his problems with Israel and his alleged sagacity vis-à-vis Bush regarding the Iraq War. But Nicolas Sarkozy appears throughout the book, often engaging in what Chirac takes for actions undermining his authority.
…ce qui reste sa passion durant deux mandats : la politique étrangère. Nul n'a oublié le voyage à Jérusalem, où le président français, bousculé par le service d'ordre israélien, finit par exploser de colère.

Chaque détail de cette journée vaut d'être lu, jusqu'au clou, la rencontre en tête à tête avec le premier ministre israélien, Benyamin Nétanyahou. "Jacques, je suis vraiment désolé, me dit-il d'un air un peu roublard, mais si tu savais comment "ils" me traitent moi aussi. Je reçois des coups dans les côtes en permanence !" Lui aussi, se dit pourtant in petto le Français, ressemble "à un garde du corps".

… Si le septennat est marqué par la guerre des Balkans, sur laquelle M. Chirac s'explique longuement, la grande affaire diplomatique du quinquennat reste la guerre d'Irak. "Voilà exactement ce qui va se passer. Dans un premier temps, vous réussirez à prendre Bagdad sans trop de difficultés", dit-il à George W. Bush, avant de lui prédire d'inextricables problèmes entre chiites, kurdes et sunnites. Malgré quelques longueurs, le récit du suspense sur le veto aux Nations unies contre la guerre tient la route.

Weiner Caption Contest

(Thanks to Frank)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

MSM in France: French Citizens Remain with That Bad Taste in the Mouth of Always Reading, Watching, or Listening to the Exact Same Information

There was a time when the officials of the 8pm newscasts were waiting for the afternoon appearance of Le Monde on the newsstands in order to figure out with which stories to lead their broadcasts
explains Daniel Psenny in his Le Monde book review of Hervé Brusini's Copie conforme : Pourquoi les médias disent-ils tous la même chose? (Certified Copy: Why Are the Media Outlets All Saying the Same Thing?), which shows just how similarly countries' respective mainstream media work (i.e., à la JournOlist).
Regarded as the "newspaper of record," the evening daily would give the tempo of information even if it so happened that, prior to its printing during the morning hours, its reporters had listened to the radio while reading ​​the dailies of the competition, which had themselves, in turn, been more or less inspired the night before by the 8pm newscasts... In short, each outlet turned out to be a "certified copy" and there was little chance of getting an echo of information from elsewhere!
With the emergence of the Internet and the social networks which, often without hindsight or analysis, make information instant, the tectonic plates of journalism have moved. Anyone can, if desired, learn where and how he so desires. Yet there remains this bad taste in the mouth of always reading, watching, or listening to the exact same information.

…Formatting, competition, economic pressures, acceleration of time, "googled" information, use of pictures for decoration, and infotainment, "the trade is reaping the costs of its own failures," [writes Brusini] as he stigmatizes "uniformity" and the "standardized information" of newsrooms overcome by "an editorial laxity and a laziness without equal."

Suicidal Dissemblement is the New Black

In a convoluted juxtaposition, the childishly scholastic world view of European “strategic thinking” is on broad display here. First off, retelling without any notion of the optional consequences, and exhibiting selective outrage through omission of the enemy’s horrors, nukes are simply called bad. It’s not naïve, it’s a willful to condemn the good societies of the world to act out some penance for the strange, guilty feelings of its’ academic leisure class – or their desire that we all “Do something! Anything!” about the things that keep them up at night.

Otherwise programming and behavior modification for the young is advocated, probably because they are pliable and don’t ask questions, and the blindingly obvious is overlooked:

Although more advanced weapons are proliferating, the question is actual again today, under the shadow of, for example, North Korea having tested rockets. The Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, said today that as long as the nuclear weapon exists, we will live under the threat of it. He also stressed the need for disarmament education in schools, including teaching that “status and prestige belong not to those who possess nuclear weapons, but to those who reject them.”
In other words, the construction of status and prestige needs to be reserved for oppressive dictators who build personality cults, and murderous theocracies.

Otherwise depend on the UN to save us from it all. After all, years of European negotiation with Ahmedinejad’s Iran over his “peaceful, energy only” nuclear program have been so fruitful.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

College students' judgment of Obama has cooled significantly — sometimes to the point of disillusionment

Oberlin is one of the United States’ most traditionally — read doggedly — liberal and distinguished small colleges.
As the Ohio school is "Always earnest, often estimable and not particularly wacky in terms of lifestyle," muses John Vinocur (the most conservative commentator working for the New York Times) in the International Herald Tribune, that is a reason why it is significant to note that a
professor of politics at the college, describing Oberlin students’ judgment of President Barack Obama, said it had cooled significantly — sometimes to the point of disillusionment.

…Oberlin students now being described as “disheartened” by the performance of their President Obama, or standing at a distance from Oberlin’s badge of honor of engaged, left-wing politics?

That’s a speck of confetti in a storm of pre-2012 election indicators in America, but it’s also a fact that Mr. Obama’s most diligent canvassers in 2008 often came from the country’s campuses. Without the enthusiasm and activism of millions of students — and their authenticating support for the would-be president’s pitch as the unifying candidate of change — Mr. Obama might not have found a bridge for bringing groups of independents and Reagan Democrats into his camp.

… Michael Parkin, the faculty voice who described the Oberlin trend, placed the change of affection in relationship to the president in an emotional framework.

In a conversation after the symposium, he spoke of a love affair that, to a palpable degree, had wound down. “It started hot and heavy,” he said. “And with extremely idealized notions. Then a reality dawned in the way that a once charming laugh becomes an irritating giggle: He’s a politician who no longer corresponds to the grand ideas that many students had in their heads about him. And that’s deflating and disheartening for them.”

… Potentially pleasing to his campus activist supporters, his initial areas of focus — a world without nuclear weapons, or an apologetic refusal to hold up U.S. democracy as a model for the Arab and Islamic world — have been scaled down as presidential hallmarks.

So where are the “Peace Protesters” in Orange Jumpsuits Now ?

And were they so fond of comparing Gitmo to a concentration camp, when this kind of thing is perfectly normal in much of the Arab world?

Hamza was picked up by security forces at a protest in Jiza, a village in the rebel province of Dar'a in Syria on April 29.

For an agonising month, his desperate family waited for him to go home, terrified of what had become of him.

And when his broken body was finally returned, the injuries which disfigured almost every part of his flesh told the horrific story that he could not.

Amid the mass of cigarette burns, the bullet wounds and bruises, it is impossible to know what finally killed him.

Elsewhere: getting the attention that they deserve. That is to say, little to none.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Zukunft? Nein danke!

Thanks to Observing Herrmann for pointing this out: Europeans have been carrying around prejudices of one another around forever, despite all facts the most enduring trope is the Protestant work ethic, a.k.a. the superior productivity and output of the northerner:

A statistics-based report published by French bank Natixis chief economist Patrick Artus said Germans worked less annually and during their lifetime than Southern Europeans, and did not work more intensely than their neighbours either.

The study, based on OECD and Eurostat figures, said a German's average annual work duration (1,390 hours) was substantially lower than for a Greek (2,119), an Italian (1,773) a Portuguese (1,719) and a Spaniard (1,654).

A French person works 1,554 hours per year, said the study which was published on Monday.

"Germany's productivity per head remains close to the average of southern European countries. Its hourly productivity rate is above average but not better than France or Greece," the study added.
They do seem more productive somehow, or at least more prone to sweep the streets. But how long will this last?
The only other visible differences could be a result of:

A) higher value of the goods that Deutscher und Detscherinnen are making/adding value to, or:
B) There is a higher percentage of population in the workforce, or,
C) cheaper (relative) inputs to that output.

Either way, it doesn’t bode well. The Asians will be spanking them on (A), the workforce is aging which will nuke (B), and the biggest single input into everything (C), energy is now wholly controlled by loons who think that their little life, their coffee in the morning, their bus ride, etc. somehow is immune to relying on solar panels, windmills, opposing hydro power, not allowing a coal mine to operate, and nuking nuclear power.

Once again, some observer might note that “the lights are going out across Europe”. Again it will be a result of self-induced popular hysteria.

Many Men Are Tired and Weary…

The story of D-Day.

So I Belong in the Crowbar Hotel... What’s it to Ya?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Even Swedes think All Swedes Look Alike

It turns out that Ingmar Bergman (not the famous ventriloquist, nor his dummy,) is not Ingmar Bergman.

Ingmar Bergman, the famed Swedish director who died in 2007, was not his mother's biological son, according to the results of an investigation by his niece published on Thursday.
Sure. And I guess I’m supposed to believe that this really isn’t his work!

EU's Human Rights Budget Being Used to Promote Left-Wing Causes in the U.S.

So in which of the world's troubled hotspots and seats of oppression do you think that the European Union is advocating human rights and battling despotism? Syria? Yemen? Zimbabwe? North Korea? Belorussia? You will be happy to learn, courtesy of The Daily Mail's Tim Shipman (merci à Hervé), that

Brussels is pouring nearly £20million a year from its human rights budget on lecturing the Americans on left-wing causes.

The EU Human Rights Fund is intended to help promote Western values in the developing world. But a shock report has found at least £17million of cash – around £2million from British taxpayers’ – has been ploughed into promoting the pet causes of Eurocrats in the U.S.

It is being spent on promoting abolition of the death penalty, discussion of climate change, green energy, and the International Criminal Court – all controversial subjects in the U.S.

The study by the Heritage Foundation, a centre-right Washington think-tank, found a further £4million has been ploughed into pro-EU propaganda in the U.S., including funds for advertising and publicity material.

More than £3million has been funnelled to American universities to promote the benefits of European integration and a further £3million to think-tanks who want to study EU affairs.

The European Commission’s own accounts show millions have also been paid to unnamed individual opinion formers in the U.S.

The report’s British author Sally McNamara said: ‘It is impossible to justify EU human rights budgets being spent in one of the world’s freest nations.’

Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘The U.S. was founded by North Americans fed up with Europeans interfering in its internal affairs.

'The U.S. as a country has done more to bring liberty and human rights to the world than anyone in Europe. They don’t need any lessons from Brussels.’

Stephen Booth, research director of the Open Europe think tank said: ‘The EU has absolutely no mandate to wade in to politically sensitive debates in the U.S.’

That makes but an additional reason why some of America's university professors are always so impressed with the EU's social democracies and so eager to have the United States follow their path…

France restricts mentions of Twitter and Facebook on the airwaves

French regulators have forbidden broadcasters to direct their audiences to Twitter or Facebook
the Global Post quoted CBS News as reporting (merci à — may I mention his name?! — Duncan).
According to a ruling this week, French radio and television broadcasters aren't allowed to mention either of the big social networks on the air unless they are covering a story about the specific network, Atlantic Wire said.

As a Business Insider article explained, citing expat blogger Matthew Fraser, if Facebook or Twitter make the news, they can be mentioned on a strictly “information” basis. But broadcasters are not allowed to urge their audiences to connect via Facebook or Twitter to learn more, ask questions, give their opinions, and all the rest of the things that broadcasters and media outlets do with social networking.

Those wacky French, you might say. What were they thinking? Well, the reasoning goes like this: citing a 1992 law that prohibits surreptitious advertising, the ruling is meant to keep networks from giving an unfair advantage to the two already very popular services, Atlantic Wire said. …

Fraser has a possible explanation for the baffling move:

Facebook and Twitter are, of course, American social networks. In France, they are regarded — at least implicitly — as symbols of Anglo-Saxon global dominance — along with Apple, MTV, McDonald’s, Hollywood, Disneyland, and other cultural juggernauts. That there is a deeply-rooted animosity in the French psyche towards Anglo-Saxon cultural domination cannot be disputed; indeed, it has been documented and analyzed for decades.

All of this is reminiscent of another august French body, the Academie Francaise, and its decidedly interesting rules that are meant to protect the French language. …

Bring a Pair of Hookers and Some Smack, and We’ll Talk Business