Saturday, May 26

Villa-Lobos's Bachiana nº 5 on Egberto Gismonti's piano

Any Brazilian will have to restraint the tears especially from 02:21 on.
Unfortunately Brazilian geniuses are not known, sometimes not even by some Brazilians, and it
seems they will keep unknown since a certain culture is kind off censured because they are not
being transmitted.

Business, science, and an insane concern with security prevails. People have no time for anything but...
I don't know. Fearing?
The experience from a music like this touches a place, a part of human condition, that nothing
else can touch.
It's a painful state of bliss. The beauty aches. Maybe few people have the strength to deal with
such a feeling or exposing people to it makes them realize many things that are forbidden.

Social networking always existed

Friday, May 25

Tzvetan Todorov interview to Seji Doria

"Exile enables you to observe your own habits critically, and to be able to diminish their importance when you live in a different society."
Tzvetan Todorov

I have the pleasure of having Tzvevan Todorov, who fled to Paris from the communist Bulgaria in 1963, again at this blog. Now I see how lucky I was having so many good theorists as masters even if at that time I did not consider them as such.

As I studied Literature in the end of the seventies and beginning of eighties I had a bunch of philosophers, linguistics, social scientists, psychoanalysts even literature scholars and theorists and art historians to choose. I did read some and others I ignored following a choice that is hard for me to explain.
But those who really counted were the artists and writers. They are part of who I am and some thinkers too for I choose some that talked to me more closely.

Todorov is one of them for he studied the fantastic in literature. His interviews are amazing and he talks with a smile in his eyes and concern in his forehead. Sometimes I watch what is at YouTube and I feel... I don't know how to explain. Maybe it is because he speaks in French and talks in French in discussions and as I lived in Paris and had a group of French thinkers in Brazil I used to participate it must give me back a territory I like. "It's through fear that the most unacceptable actions are carried out." he claims and defends that Europe should create a "peaceful power" a military action to protect contre attacks. "I'm not a pacifist." says the man who criticized his Marxists friends of living a bourgeois life trying to implement the proletarian dictatorship a regime that suppress civil liberties.

In an interview to Seji Doria, who brightly conducted the interview in June, 2010, published at Barcelona Metropolis Todorov portrayed a panorama of his experiences of life and thoughts.

In 1963, you fled to Paris from communist Bulgaria, and three years later you obtained you doctorate at the Sorbonne with Roland Barthes, you joined the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and for ten years, you were the co-editor of the journal Poétique with Gérard Genette. What contribution did structuralism make to literary reception?

Todorov: At that time, it was a more refreshing perspective on literary studies. The approaches to literature in France were sterilising, asphyxiating. Specialists were asked to compile all the details about the writer being studied. Life, work… a mere accumulation of facts: biography, the conditions under which he wrote his novels, the different versions of them, the entire body of criticism that covered his works. It was a historicist criticism that insisted on placing the work of an author in a specific context, without paying too much attention to what it wanted to say to the readers. As a result, we couldn't say why it was still a pleasure to read Madame Bovary or Le rouge et le noir in the 21st century …

And that was your methodological starting point…

Todorov: It based criticism on interpretation of the text, and not only on its historical context. Structuralism enabled us to shed light - forgive the repetition - on the literary structure with more precision than had been the case previously – to renew different forms of meaning and rhetorical figures. To learn that narration provides us with various techniques and constants in the construction of the classic novel, the modern novel, etc. All this was possible thanks to the studies of the “Poetica”, an expression which refers to its Aristotelian meaning and which analyses the work from the interior. We were doing what Proust mentioned in Contre Saint-Beuve, or the lessons by Paul Valéry at the College de France. It was a complete innovation with characteristics that had never before been considered in literary work.

But all schools or currents of thought triumph over the previous ones, and create a pendular motion that leads to excesses. By analysing the mechanisms of the work in itself in such depth, we end up forgetting about the readers' enjoyment. Several generations of students of generative and literary grammar remember structuralism as a nightmare, and you accepted the blame.

Todorov: Looking at the programmes in secondary schools, I wondered over the years whether we had really achieved anything with the change. The teaching staff forgot that structuralist techniques should have helped to understand the work rather than being a simple sequence of analyses. Students prepare for exams knowing about “Jakobson's functions”, analepsis and prolepsis, and what a metonymy is without having read Les fleurs du mal (by Baudelaire). As I explain in my book Literature in danger, these arguments mean that I am currently inclined towards a conception of literary studies that follows the model of history rather than of physics, which tends towards knowledge of an exterior object, literature, instead of focusing on the mysteries of the discipline itself ... There is no doubt that readers will continue to know who Rousseau, Stendhal and Proust were, long after they have forgotten the names of today's theoreticians and their conceptual constructions, so teaching our own theories on the works instead of the works themselves shows a certain lack of humility.

In Literature in danger you discuss the teaching in French schools. You say that literature has distanced itself from individuals since the Enlightenment …

Todorov: Literature is profoundly linked to understanding the human condition… The books that attract readers do not do so for scholarly reasons, or rhetorical considerations, but because they help them to live. It seems that the only objective in schools today is to train literature teachers, which I think is absurd. It gives the impression that artists draft their works thinking of critics, as is the case with conceptual art. And the literature that the general public reads is often not the same as the one that interests scholars. The most influential groups control state subsidies and shape public opinion based on literary criticism and educational programmes.

Let's go back to 1963: Todorov was in his twenties, and was involved in the French university atmosphere. Camus was dead and Sartre reigned. What did they think of the testimony of an exiled Bulgarian who criticised the supposed communist paradise?

Todorov: Let's say that when I arrived in Paris, Sartre's star began to wane. And it burnt out in his public debate with Lévi-Strauss: in intellectual circles, there was no doubt that the author of Tristes trópiques had won on points. Marxism, which had been the framework for the human and social sciences and humanities since the Second World War, was replaced by structuralism in the 1960s. Things weren't so black and white in everyday life: young people, the girls I went out with, were left-wing and their rhetoric was based on fantasy. They sincerely thought that I came from paradise, and that they lived in hell. They didn't acknowledge the existence of Stalin's labour camps, or the corruption of the communist governments.

The European left, and the Spanish left in particular, continues to have great difficulties with categorising Nazism and Communism as equally mistaken.

Todorov: That difficulty exists, and it is understandable. The countries of Western Europe suffered from Nazism but not communism, while in the east we suffered from both types of totalitarianism. As we have first-hand knowledge of the cruelty of Nazism and Communism, we have no doubt that they were both similar types of phenomena. In Western Europe, where the Communist party didn't govern, communist militants were seen as selfless and generous individuals - like Catholics who had lost their faith and did charity work by helping others. It all depends on your point of view. That is why it is difficult to have a common memory in Europe.

Recently, we saw the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland: in the schools, they remember the soldiers of the Nazi Reich and not the Soviet soldiers, who also invaded under the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.

Todorov: History teaching should enrich the collective memory by raising awareness of the different experiences of the European countries. It is necessary to understand why the Poles do not have the same perspective on the Second World War as the French, Belgians and the Dutch. The invasion by Hitler and the invasion by Stalin are rarely associated. And the period between 1939 and 1941 was the turning point in the history of the twentieth century. It was the undistorted truth of totalitarianism as a key and specific event. The rest of time is an illusion. After the war, the Soviet Union presented itself to the world as the sacred victor over Nazism, with 25 million soldiers killed. Europe paid a high price for the debt, and the Russians occupied Berlin. From that point on, suggesting that the Soviet concentration camps had preceded the Nazi lager seemed like a comment in poor taste.

And from that point until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Todorov: Watching the fall of the Wall had a profound historical impact: it was the first irreversible sign of the collapse of communism. The dismemberment of the USSR, which followed ten years later, shifted this event onto the international stage. Communism marked European history and has been the great secular religion of the modern age, the focus of the part of history for one hundred and fifty years. Like the traditional religions, it promises its followers health; but because it is a secular religion, it says this will happen on the earth and not in heaven, in this life, and not after death. It thereby appeals to millions of people immersed in poverty and injustice, who are no longer consoled by the promises of the old religions. It suddenly becomes an ideological proselytism, capable of using violence: the class struggle has to be won in every country; it is necessary to spread the good news from one country to another, and to encourage the establishment of communist regimes. Humanity will gradually "benefit" from the fruits of this red messianism.

Some leaders of the European left and Spanish communists still do not understand, and were reluctant to celebrate the anniversary of 9 November 1989. They say that in the democratic world, since 9/11, control mechanisms and preventive detentions have greatly increased …

Todorov: Being surprised or ironic about the fall of the Wall seems to me to be an insult to those who suffered from it. The democratic societies are light years away from the control by the Stasi or the State Security in Bulgaria. Being watched by a powerful totalitarian system should not be confused with errors in the democratic system, which need to be remedied. But to compare the two situations on the same level is to overlook the suffering of millions and millions of people.

After the fall of the Wall, what world do we have left?

Todorov: We went from the confrontation of two great powers in the Cold War to a multipolar world. Some people believed that we were going to live in a unitary universe led by the United States, but in the end the East-West confrontation has made way for other political models. This situation was unprecedented, although I believe it is positive that countries from all over the world can also write history.

And other walls are being built …

Todorov: Men have built walls since antiquity: Alexander the Great, the great Wall of China, Hadrian's Wall in the Roman Empire. Wall of protection against possible invasions. With the passing of time, military defences have been abandoned as technological progress has made them ineffective. These walls are still currently being constructed between Morocco and part of Mauritania; but these protection barriers are normally smaller: around a barracks as in Baghdad's Green Zone or around a neighbourhood with a bad reputation in Padua.
Another type of wall is protection systems for deluxe homes, the separation between the two Koreas, or between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, or the partition of Cyprus between Greeks and Turks. The Berlin Wall belongs to an unusual category. While most walls aim to stop foreigners from coming in, the Berlin Wall aimed to stop the country's inhabitants from being able to leave. It was not used to protect people. Instead, it was used to make them ill. The symbolic image is one of a prison rather than a fortress. When I lived in Bulgaria in 1963, no inhabitant could cross the frontier without permission: the security patrols shot to kill. Telephoning abroad was inconceivable, you couldn't read foreign press that wasn't communist, and foreign radio stations broadcasting in Bulgarian were jammed.

We also have the Wall in Israel and the barbed wire against immigration in the strait between Spain and Morocco.

Todorov: It is surprising to see how walls are being built in the era of so-called “globalisation”. In reality, it is no paradox. What are in free circulation today are goods and capital, audiovisual information and electronic messages. But the circulation of people from poor countries is regulated.

As well as physical walls, it is also possible to talk of “walls” in language: in the communist countries, they used the “doublethink” and the “Newspeak” that Orwell described in 1984.

Todorov: Life under communism erodes the spirit, by systematically using words not to designate things, but instead to conceal their opposite. When our leaders talked about equality, we could be sure that they wanted to protect their privileges; praise of freedom covered up oppression, proclamations of peace warned of acts of aggression, the defence of the common good could be interpreted as the opening of a personal account in a Swiss bank …

And the politically correct language and euphemisms with which democratic governments cover up their errors… are they not a dangerous strategy to conceal reality?

Todorov: Demagogy and manipulation of the word are as old as politics. Plato condemned the Sophists who concealed their actions using words. He attacked rhetoric and all use of language that was not referential. We have figures of speech like hyperbole and litotes, which expresses a concept by denying its opposite. The totalitarian neolanguage is antiphrasis, using a word to mean the exact opposite of what is being said: it is the lowest level of deceit in language. Of course they can create obstacles to free thought, based on cliches and stereotypes, but a physical wall is equivalent to prison and is much more serious than a language barrier.

The "conversion" to democracy of the ex-communist countries has been affected by what the Romanian writer Norman Manea llama called the "slow poison" of the old totalitarian regime, which still contaminates politics in Eastern Europe ... Václav Havel referred directly to "Mafia democracies".

Todorov: Indeed, this transformation of all values which we have talked about, the concealment of their opposite, was confirmed with the fall of communism, as the leaders, or their descendants, or the ex-chiefs of the KGB, became the first "capitalists", the owners of privatised companies and experts in lucrative dirty tricks. Their conversion to democratic rhetoric and the habits of personal accumulation of wealth was immediate, and shows that their metamorphosis was already at a very advanced stage when the time came to change the system. Putin is the most obvious example of this strategy.

I mentioned “red messianism” earlier. Since the defeat of communism, as any other free market messianism emerged?

Todorov: From a historical perspective, Communist messianism appears to be a variation and a transformation of an older secular messianism, which emerged with the French Revolution and today reappears under other guises. We know its previous phases. It came immediately after the Revolution, spread with the Napoleonic Wars, and its ambition was to save humanity in the Century of Enlightenment. A few decades later, it took the form of the colonial conquests by Great Britain and France, which aimed to bring civilisation to all … Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new type of this old messianism has reappeared. In the name of spreading democracy and human rights, the Western countries, this time led by the United States, make alliances for wars against countries that are strategically and economically important - yesterday it was Iraq, today Afghanistan, and tomorrow it could be Iran. The Western forces justify themselves using the backward customs in these countries (the imposition of the veil on women, the closure of schools) or their hostile political attitude ("Islamofascism") and bomb them, occupy them and impose compliant governments on them.

Is this another drift towards totalitarianism?

Todorov: Another example is the legalisation of torture. Torture took place on an everyday basis in the totalitarian states, and it was even a basic part of their survival, but they never legalised it. The West must resist the temptation to torture legally.

Many neoconservative leaders and ideologues in ultraliberal think tanks come from the extreme left …

Todorov: The neocons, the ideologues of military intervention who are legitimated by their defence of human rights, are the descendants of the old communists, who over the years have become ardent anti-totalitarians (first from a revolutionary Trotskyite perspective, and then from a democratic one). In France, the same people were involved in all three stages: they were the standard bearers of the communist religion in 1968, in one of its strands of the extreme left; then they became radical anti-communists and later anti-totalitarians, after the extensive reports on conditions in the Gulag became common knowledge (at this point that they were christened the “new philosophers”); and finally, in recent years, they have emerged as supporters of the “right to intervene” and “democratic” war in the rest of the world. The modern forms of neoliberalism shares some features of communism, perhaps precisely because they fought against it...

And what do they have in common?

Todorov: To some extent, a monist thought process, the desire to reduce the complexity of the social world to a single dimension, and subject it to a single force. There is also the separation between politics and economics. The autonomy of economic action was called into question by totalitarian power, which prioritised politics, with the well-known consequence of empty warehouses and permanent shortages. Now it is political autonomy that is weakened. Globalisation enables the actors in economic life to easily avoid the control of local governments: at the first obstacle, the multinational company "relocates" its factories to a more welcoming country.
Inside each country, ultraliberal ideology leaves no significant space for political action. In one way, this change is even more profound than the one caused by the French Revolution. The French Revolution was content to replace monarchical sovereignty with that of the people, and neoliberalism places solvency of economic forces, embodied in private interests, above political sovereignty. It is necessary for governments and parliaments to refocus their policies in order to achieve the common good for their citizens.

The political class, in Spain at least, is not experiencing one of its high points. After the death of the utopias and the great systems of thought, will we be able to live without ideologies?

Todorov: Human beings in Western Europe show us spectacular changes: from communist faith to ferocious anti-communism; in France, from Marchais to Le Pen… But it is also possible to maintain a critical distance from all types of faith and mental submission. Ideology should not be thought of in terms of the submission of others because they are simple or ignorant, while we ourselves believe that we are not subject to it and have a great deal of common sense. Individuals need a system of thought, although it is a good idea to keep some distance from this system. Exile enables you to observe your own habits critically, and to be able to diminish their importance when you live in a different society.

Let’s finish off by remembering "Adventurers of the absolute", three existences defined by cosmopolitanism: Wilde, Rilke and Marina Tsvetaeva. It is a biographical triad that is a tribute to the great European Stefan Zweig.

Todorov: Zweig was seductive and dangerous. Seductive, because he talked to his readers using a global idea, because he established a continuity between the writer, the work and moral destiny, because he was a true European. He was dangerous, because of his romantic demand that life should be sacrificed to art, a concept which inevitably leads to tragedy.

Sunday, May 20

Paltalk: Where discussions can lead to suicide

I was curious to know what kind of discussions are being held in Paltalk. This last monht I tried different rooms and heard and read nothing but nonsense. Worse: prejudice, racism, xenophobia spiced with lectures of some few who speak most of the time imposing their views on others. This is how they moderate the rooms. The aim of the moderation is to make people feel bad. The reason? I have no idea but verbal abuse, bashing, ad hominem and ad personae attacks, and all rhetorical weapons  is the way discussions are held.

If I received one dollar for every "fuck" I heard... It is not that serious since fucking became part of rhetoric but what about "you, fucking hypocrite..." I beg your pardon? Calling someone an hypocrite means nothing in discussions rooms like these even tough some people try to fight it.
Copycatting politicians?
These are adults, not teenagers.
The bottom line is that there are no discussions. A discussion requires a topic and most of the time people jump from one topic to another. Maybe that's why it is PalTalk. Talk, no matter what. But with such pals only if you've been a regular for years as some are. Newcomers are not welcome.
I sensed a lot of resentment in some rooms. A gloomy way of seeing life and the world as if life has defeated or mistreated some in a way that little room for any good is left.
Occasionally someone interesting appears but they leave or don't talk too much.

People are so used to mistreat others that it became part of the culture. Sarcasm and other ways to put the other down and all the famous strategies used at the internet are used with the help of anonymity that brings the worse of people.  It means nothing for those who are used to pal talk.
But it meant to Mr. Kevin Whitrick:

A father-of-two hanged himself live over the internet in Britain's first 'cyber suicide'.
Kevin Whitrick, 42, took his life after being goaded by dozens of chatroom users from across the world who initially believed he was play acting.

But as they watched in horror, Mr Whitrick climbed onto a chair, smashed through a ceiling and then hanged himself with a piece of rope.

Mr Whitrick told users of web-chat site PalTalk what he was going to do two hours before he killed himself on Wednesday night.
He was logged on with around 50 other users to a special "insult" chatroom where people "have a go at each other".

They confirmed Mr Whitrick told friends in the internet chat room of his plans to kill himself but, thinking he was joking, they egged him on telling him to make sure the his webcam was on.
Whole article here.
The same happened to Simone Back but at Facebook on January, 2011 and to Claire Lin last March.

This is the room for The Rights for Whites* that has this site where it is said:

"I am outraged. You should be outraged. This is genocide by design. Whites are rapidly approaching minority status in the nations their ancestors built through blood, sweat, and tears. Wanting to preserve one’s culture, heritage, and bloodlines is not racist. It is a survival mechanism inherent to all human beings, irrespective of race. No group of people should have their homelands flooded with alien races against their will. Similarly, no culture should be subjected to the destructive forces of feminism, homosexuality, promiscuity, and forced diversity.

My problem lies not with everyday blacks, mestizos, Asians, and other non-whites. In addition, those who wish to live in a multicultural society should have every right to do so. Similarly, those who are of the opinion that a racially homogeneous society would be overall preferable to a multicultural one should be able to live in the former. Unfortunately, whites do not have this option — not in North America, not in Australia, and not even in Europe. As I have revealed in this five-part series, the Jewish Supremacists have colluded with their powerful, race-betraying co-conspirators to facilitate the demise of the white race..." (this site disappeared. I copied it fifteen days ago)

*The room Rights for the Whites was changed for White Freedom

Sometimes it's hard to distinguish quickly who is a troll and who is a true member of the room in PalTalk because in some rooms the discourse is the same. In 95% of all discussions it is all about hate, it is all about two choices. The moderation is done by professionals or compliant people.
The best rooms are those who have few people. But I don't recommend PalTalk to anybody. I heard a man saying that when he started at PalTalk his mother said that it was affecting his life and he should stop.
He kept even thou he felt confused and didn't understand. Sometimes a person raises the voice and shouts cursing and it is quite intimidating and dangerous for those who are sensitive. As he is a very nice person and compliant he is there now as an "admin", those who bounce or make a person unable to speak or write.
But there is also people to do the job of the "good cop" and write nice things. That's why some people stay.

Today I was told that because I'm Brazilian I was not aware of how to debate in such spaces. I started debating over internet in 1994 when we discussed through e-mails when nobody would waste time writing and wait for replies to troll. Anyway... This is the first time my nationality, thus my accent, was used to explain  why I was questioning the moderation of a room.
It was a topic and native speakers were saying all the flaws of the room. All of a sudden, as the moderator kept defending his acts saying that nothing of what was being said was true, I was attacked, I was the problem. It was quite instructive.

Freedom of speech is being used as an excuse to accept hostile and numerous aggressive behavior.
You find someone who share your ideas but according to the situation you'll be stabbed in the back if it's according to the circumstances.

If you have nothing to do and is tired of TV you can go to PalTalk and make any statement because "idea and opinion", the rights that are guaranteed by article 19 of UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are used in a very broad sense even if you go against the article 20:
*2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law. (emphasis added)
I heard a man from Poland claiming he was considering killing immigrants in Poland and the others in the room agreed. There were people from UK, Finland and US. I believe that we need a serious reflection about what is happening in our relationship with others. For the moment trying to respect others would be advisable.
"Don't take it personal!" is a good excuse some people use to abuse others. "You're too emotional."
No Exit: L'enfers ce sont les autres. ?
And as far as Paltalk is concerned... don't join it. In my entire virtual life it is the place where I witnessed the most offensive, hateful and repugnant behavior.
 There is nothing to do there unless you want to in a bad mood and want to verbally abuse no matter who. But this is a privilege you'll only gain after being bashed.

In 2004 this Petition Online was created and was signed by 2.120.882 people all over the world:
Send To:
Sponsored By:
Muslim Family of Paltalk

Mr Jason Katz,

We the following feel shocked and appalled that such a commodity as Paltalk is being used by certain people and parties to harvest hate against ethenic minorities, in particular against the Islamic faith. To us this is racist and unacceptable and a sickness that should not be tolerated for long. Racial terminology and profanity have been used in G-rated rooms by certain parties who shall remain nameless unless their nomenclature is required. A suffering to which children have been subjected and their young minds wrongly manipulated to feel hate towards certain elements. We feel it is your responsibility to put an end to this.

Hence we ask of you to correct such wrongs before the hate consumes more people and causes more pain for some. Racism is something that the better part of the world condemns and doesnt allow. We, the undersigned hope that we can soon count Paltalk, a community of four million that stretches across the globe among that better part.
2.120.882 Signatures

Now Muslims can talk but the HATING is not gone. Paltalk is a hating discussion generator. Try other ways of connecting to people. They also spy but this is not any news at the internet. Some rooms are there just to pretend they are discussing an when you pay attention non-issues are repeated over and over again. Paltalk is a nest of disagreement reapers and one suicide was committed with a little help of all this rage. 

Juan Gris on the necessity of constant reflexion

Jose Victoriano Gonzalez-Perez better known as Juan Gris (March 23, 1887 - May 11, 1927) was a Spanish painter and sculptor who lived and worked in France most of his life.

His works are closely connected to the emergence of an innovative artistic genre-Cubism.

Thursday, May 17

Monday, May 14

Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron dancing Gershwin's "Our Love is Here to Stay"

I remember when I watched the movie An American in Paris when I was a teenager.

Jerry, Gene Kelly, sings the Gershwin1s song Our Love is Here to Stay and when he finishes the orchestra starts playing it.

Jerry and Lise, Leslie Caron, dance in the Seine river banks.

YouTube: here.

A strange HTML code can ruin your blog

I was working on a post and I was trying to put some images side by side but as they were more than four I searched for "how to put images side by side
I found the Etsy Blog Team 's post "How to post images side by side" and used a HTML code they give.
I tried using the code but it didn't work so I didn't publish the post.

For my surprise all the posts with images side by side changed. The original edition I did was modified.
I don't know why the space between the images was increased and all the posts I edited in the whole blog with images side by side were altered and look awful
I don't have any idea how to change it back. I guess something was altered at the template.

It took me a lot of time trying the code... and this is the result. The strange is that I didn't even publish the post. Just trying it altered everything.
Be careful when using tips about HTML even if the site sounds reliable.
Thank you Etsy team...

I've redone this post according to the new size so that it could have the original format. The pictures have to be huge.
The rest of the blog... I'll relax.

Sunday, May 13

Dudhsagar Falls in India

Train from Mumbai to Goa passing through Dughsagar falls.
The falls lie high up in the Mandovi River's watershed and so are not particularly spectacular during the dry season. During the monsoon season however, the falls are transformed into one of the most powerful falls in India.

Saturday, May 12

Holy Cows in Namibia

I came across with this picture in Jenn's blog. He shoot it in Namibia:
"We were driving north in Namibia with no lights, no people, and the first flood of the Swakop River in years. This all meant maneuvering on rocky paths, through flooded ditches… and surprise! A herd of cows. The best part was that we didn’t run into them. They ran into us.
Hearing the thud of cows walk into your car really brings new meaning to the term "holy cow."

Friday, May 11

What do you know about transgenders?

Calpernia Addams (Transgender Activist, Actress) gives expert video advice on: What is it like growing up transgender?; How did your friends and family react to you being transgender?; How did you change from male to female? and more...
Read the transcription if you don't want to listen, but please, try to inform yourself and understand. Some people know more about aliens than about human beings's complexity.
"How are transgender people treated in other cultures? Other cultures have dealt differently with transgender people than, sort of, modern America. There are cultures such as India who have the Hijira, which are people in the culture who are usually born male but adopt a female identity. Sometimes they don't have medical intervention, sometimes they do. In Thailand there are the Kathoey, I hope I'm saying that right, which is how Thailand identifies transpeople. It's in some ways a lot more accepted than it is here, because there are Kathoey (ladyboys) who are pop stars and actors and actresses and stuff, but the culture places them in sort of a third sex category more so than accepting them as women." (emphasis added)
Barry Winchell
Calpernia Addams: In 1999, while working as a performer, Addams began dating PFC Barry Winchell. Word of the relationship spread at Winchell's Army base where he was harassed by fellow soldiers and ultimately murdered.
Addams tells the story here.

Which is English? "sick as a cat" / "sick as a dog"? "duopoly" / "biopoly"?

I found this game "Which is English" and it became  a  funny way to get in touch with some expressions.

Real words are mixed with fake words and expressions that are better learnt when we are among a culture where English is spoken.

Why do we say "wife and husband" instead of "husband and wife"?
I have no idea.

Wednesday, May 9

Assisted suicide: Exit and Dignitas x Dr Kevorkian

Jack Kevorkian

Exit and Dignitas,  two non-profit organizations, are making of euthanasia a commerce using strategies to promote their work that are similar to mainstream propaganda.

The millionaire Terry Pratchett received a VIP treatment and his suicide, assisted by Dignitas, was transmitted at BBC.

The criticism that followed was, of course, a backlash for the euthanasia and assisted suicide debates.

Exit and Dignitas sell many items and the drug they choose as the most efficacious is Nembutal, pentobarbital. They tell people to fly to Mexico because it is the only country where the drug can be bought.
There is a huge difference in advocating for the right to die and profiting from it. The two organizations are "non-profit".

The founder of Dignitas is said to have become a millionaire in ten years.
"A decade later, (after Dignitas clinic) the Beobachter investigation found, he had an annual taxable income of £98,000 and a personal fortune of over £1.2 million, wealth that includes a luxury villa."(...) "But the cost of a simple suicide at Dignitas has risen from £1,800 in 2005 to £4,500, fuelling suspicions that the clinic may not be sticking to Swiss laws that are supposed to prevent people “selfishly” profiting from assisted suicide." The Telegraph.
"One nurse who assisted 30 deaths during her two and a half years at the clinic said she was so disturbed by its activities that she quit her job. The Daily Mail
Dr. Kevorkian didn't ask for money. He dedicated his life in raising awareness about euthanasia and what he did:
"Kevorkian was imprisoned for eight years. As a condition of his parole in 2007, he promised not to assist in any more suicides.
He himself had appealed to leave prison early because of poor health, but said he did not consider himself a candidate for assisted suicide.
Kevorkian did not leave the public eye after his exit from prison, giving occasional lectures and in 2008 running for Congress unsuccessfully.
Born in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac, Kevorkian taught himself the flute and was a painter. Well read in philosophy and history, he cited Aristotle, Sir Thomas More and Pliny the Elder in his arguments for why people should have the right to die with dignity.
In a June 2010 interview with Reuters Television, the right-to-die activist said he was afraid of death as much as anyone else and said the world had a hypocritical attitude toward voluntary euthanasia, or assisted suicide.
"If we can aid people into coming into the world, why can't we aid them in exiting the world?" he said. (emphasis added)
Doctor-assisted suicide essentially became law in Oregon in 1997 and in Washington state in 2009. The practice of doctors writing prescriptions to help terminally ill patients kill themselves was ultimately upheld as legal by the U.S. Supreme Court. (Reuter's whole article here)."
He had integrity and he really cared about people and organizations like Dignitas and Exit care about money.

The discussion about euthanasia is far from over but people are committing suicide or searching for assisted suicide. Organizations like Exit and Dignitas are not helping to  broad the discussion, on the contrary, they give more arguments for those who are against euthanasia.
Dignitas and Exit are making a scandal out of a serious problem.

The way things are now assisted suicide is for the few who are willing to go on a trip to Zwitzerland and can pay for everything Dignitas charge. The others? They can commit suicide after that's what has been happening for centuries. Not even the state or the Pope's approval is necessary.
Lawful of unlawful it's one person's choice.
In the US's states of Oregon, Montana and Washington, Belgium, and Netherlands where assisted suicide is legal, unlike Switzerland where it is not legal, the debate is still going on.
Dr. Kevorkian did not ask for money and charging to help someone to take a very cheap drug is unethical and quite undignified. Commercializing assisted suicide is outrageous.
Ludwig Minelli, Dignitas founder, is a lawyer. Ironic.

Monday, May 7

Virgin Mary taking a pregnancy test?

"A church billboard showing a shocked Virgin Mary gasping as she examines a pregnancy testing kit has sparked outrage in New Zealand."

The large poster outside St Matthew's in the City, a prominent Anglican church in Auckland, was designed by an advertising agency and depicts Mary in the style of a classical Renaissance painting.

A caption competition on the church's website has already drawn some questionable responses.
Suggestions include "Yay! I hope it's a girl," "Now, which way to the abortion clinic?" and "If I say I'm a virgin, mum and dad won't kill me."

One contributor protests: "You have crossed the line! Mary should not be the object of a trite campaign, whatever your good or not so good intentions."
Another condemns the billboard: "Can it be more offensive?"

Source: The Telegraph.

She didn't wait for angel Gabriel.
The meaning of the word "virgin" changed with time:

"The meaning of the word "virgin" has changed slightly throughout history. Originally, it only meant "a woman living apart", or an unmarried woman - not a woman entirely without sexual experience. By the Middle Ages, "virgin" took on it's contemporary definition of a woman who never engaged in sexual intercourse. The mystery of the virgin's power tilted from being a special kind of strong and magical person to only holding the mystery of her maidenhead." continue reading.

Sunday, May 6

Dufy's Tribute to Mozart and Debussy

Right: Hommage à Debussy, 1952.
Left: Hommage à Mozart, 1952,

Trying to capture the essence of music in plastic art was done by some artists and Dufy worked many times on this theme.

The innovation in these two pieces is the way the sound of the piano is represented through the leaves and flowers feeling the air of the room with the sound of the piano.

Wednesday, May 2

Edwin Black: The pact between Nazis and Zionists in 1933

"Hate cannot function in a vacuum. Hate needs money to prevail."
"The scope of the bloodshed was in many ways linked to the economic impact of the holocaust."

I still didn't read any of Edwin Black's books and I feel like reading them all. The journalist, he is Jew and his parents are Holocaust survivors, historian and researcher wrote about the most important issues the world is facing.
The Transfer Agreement was published 25 years ago still it is controversial. Excerpts of Edwin's words at his site:

"During the first months of the Hitler regime, leaders of the Zionist movement concluded a controversial pact with the Third Reich which, in its various forms, transferred some 60,000 Jews and $100 million--almost $1.7 billion in 2009 dollars--to Jewish Palestine. In return, Zionists would halt the worldwide Jewish-led anti-nazi boycott that threatened to topple the Hitler regime in its first year. Ultimately, the Transfer Agreement saved lives, rescued assets, and seeded the infrastructure of the Jewish State to be.

But the final leg of the journey I began when I first wrote "The Transfer Agreement" is not complete. not yet. The pain of that project empowered me to pursue those special villains, not those of the physical Holocaust, but the fiscal Holocaust -Ford and General Motors, Carnegie Institution and Rockefeller Foundation, and British Petroleum. These corporate icons all had their indispensible roles to play. IBM, which co-planned the Holocaust with the Third Reich, headed the list of collaborators and unindicted conspirators by virtue of its great weapon: information technology.

I assure the world that the bastions of commercial collusion with Hitler's Holocaust will be more fully exposed during the coming years. America's business giants wait across the final frontier of Holocaust accountability, hiring many prestigious historians and international lawyers, dreading history's knock at the door. They know their names, those that dwell on the list of American corporations that knowingly cooperated with the Hitler regime, helping it rearm, fortifying its anti-Semitic campaigns, catering to its lucrative plans of conquest and subjugation. It was these powerful corporations that joined the ranks of nazism, frequently through overseas subsidiaries and special foreign partnerships. These American corporations were the grand economic and technologic wizards of Germany's meteoric recovery and her high-velocity, industrialized destruction of the Jews. Only supported by the underpinnings of America's economic might was Hitler able to squeeze the Jews, confronting the Zionists with the painful necessity of engineering heartbreaking trade mechanisms with the devil.

The day of hiding behind corporate archivists, sponsored historians, highly-paid publicists, and the distant haze of nazi-era global commerce will soon come to an end. Indeed, I am ending it. The world wants it ended. Humanity has now seen that the corporate alliances and subsidiary masquerades that enabled Hitler have been perfected by Yahoo and Google in China, by China national Petroleum Company and French Total in Sudan, by nokia Siemens and thousands of other German firms in Iran. (emphasis added)

Edwin Black wrote: "War Against the Weak"  America's plan to ethnically cleanse its own citizens and its nexus with Nazi Germany. Some of his books was translated in many languages.