by Ted Welch
Fri May 3rd, 2013 at 01:39:42 PM EST
Fortune favours the flaneur again.
Late on May Day, just as I got towards the end of the Promenade des Anglais (so I'm sort of authorised to stroll there) a group of hippie revellers erupted from Cour Saleya, crossed the Prom and took this weird figure to the sea. It was all over in about 15 minutes - what serendipity !
by Ted Welch
Tue Apr 16th, 2013 at 06:59:08 PM EST
A good article by Glenn Greenwald on the Boston bombs. It's quite brave, given the hysterical reaction after 9/11 when Chomsky pointed out that it was not surprising this kind of thing happened given US foreign policy for decades - "You're justifying murder!"
One particularly illustrative example I happened to see yesterday was a re-tweet from Washington Examiner columnist David Freddoso, proclaiming:
"The idea of secondary bombs designed to kill the first responders is just sick. How does anyone become that evil?"
I don't disagree with that sentiment. But I'd bet a good amount of money that the person saying it - and the vast majority of other Americans - have no clue that targeting rescuers with "double-tap" attacks is precisely what the US now does with its drone program and other forms of militarism.
There's nothing wrong per se with paying more attention to tragedy and violence that happens relatively nearby and in familiar places. Whether wrong or not, it's probably human nature, or at least human instinct, to do that, and that happens all over the world. I'm not criticizing that. But one wishes that the empathy for victims and outrage over the ending of innocent human life that instantly arises when the US is targeted by this sort of violence would at least translate into similar concern when the US is perpetrating it, as it so often does (far, far more often than it is targeted by such violence).
Regardless of your views of justification and intent: whatever rage you're feeling toward the perpetrator of this Boston attack, that's the rage in sustained form that people across the world feel toward the US for killing innocent people in their countries. Whatever sadness you feel for yesterday's victims, the same level of sadness is warranted for the innocent people whose lives are ended by American bombs. However profound a loss you recognize the parents and family members of these victims to have suffered, that's the same loss experienced by victims of US violence. It's natural that it won't be felt as intensely when the victims are far away and mostly invisible, but applying these reactions to those acts of US aggression would go a long way toward better understanding what they are and the outcomes they generate.
(2) The rush, one might say the eagerness, to conclude that the attackers were Muslim was palpable and unseemly, even without any real evidence. The New York Post quickly claimed that the prime suspect was a Saudi national (while also inaccurately reporting that 12 people had been confirmed dead).
Of course there were the usual "exploiting tragedy for propaganda" comments, but a lot rejecting that:
16 April 2013
I thought that would be your response. I note how at the end of your current comment you insist that I hadn't read it. That's typical of your style - ignore evidence to the contrary and snap back like a rubber band to the propaganda.
But even you admitted that you had only "waded" through half of it! And considering that your post was only 6 minutes after the article went up, and it's rather unlikely you would have seen it the moment it went up, it's perfectly reasonable to suggest that you didn't read it at all, or at very best, read only a very small amount.
As I said, I'd read enough to see where you were coming from and was disgusted enough with that cheap propaganda trick to comment.
What cheap propaganda "trick"? Just saying something like that doesn't make it fact.
Seriously Greenwald, when are you going to stop cherry-picking anything you can find to try discredit your country?
In what way is it cherry-picking? Do you give a damn about America's "double-tap" attacks? Do you have anything at all to say about them? Or separately, what about the fact that 42 people were killed in Iraq yesterday?
The "double-tap" drones attacks link:
by Ted Welch
Fri Apr 5th, 2013 at 09:15:36 AM EST
The varied thinkers of the Enlightenment and the continuing relevance of their heritage
The delay in finishing my reply to de Gondi about dialectic - "Dialectic and the defense of reason" - had the positive effect of allowing a kind of internal dialectic to develop, moving on from debate to the resolution of some differences at a more general level. The significance of some things that united Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, Burke, Rescher, Johnson, Walton, Lakatos, Chomsky, Ollman and Bourdieu became more apparent and more important. So let me suggest a path forward and also a wider horizon.
What unites these intellectuals is the defense of reason, as developed and defended by Enlightenment thinkers. I say "Enlightenment thinkers" rather than "THE Enlightenment" because of the widespread tendency; including by many on the Left, to see it as a monolithic entity and to accept a rather negative, caricatured version of it. In fact it included a range of differing thinkers:
by Ted Welch
Fri Apr 5th, 2013 at 08:55:42 AM EST
De Gondi: "I always look forward to your diaries as a source of pleasure and controversy, often through unexpected themes."
Thanks for your kind words about my diaries, de Gondi, I have ideas for a couple more, but, unfortunately, I have had to get mired in this detail about dialectic again, since you've chosen to try to defend your generalised abuse about people using the term - while uncritically preferring rhetoric.
Plato and Aristotle in Raphael's School of Athens
However, there has been some interesting reading along the way, including information about Lakatos's background and political development. I didn't know about this, though I had read his work and that of Feyerabend at the time of their debates. As it happens, Lakatos is an excellent example of the value of dialectic, so you shot yourself in the foot again by citing him.
I'm also happy that my reading around this already very varied set of subjects led me to Kenneth Burke, who I knew about vaguely as a literary critic, but again I didn't know about his political involvement - funny how such things are less emphasized in our culture. Burke highlights the dangers of rhetoric, which you blithely ignore, as if there haven't been plenty of "wankers" using rhetoric for "intellectual sham". It was therefore another bit of serendipity to find that this expert on rhetoric was a strong advocate of the value of dialectic as a defense against extreme rhetoric.
From debate to dialectical connections
This reading around the subjects, my Roman holiday, putting together the diary about Rome, and helping a couple of friends with websites, has delayed this response. However the delay in finishing this allowed time for a sort of internal dialectic to develop, moving this on from debate to the resolution of some differences at a more general level.
by Ted Welch
Sun Mar 3rd, 2013 at 06:24:40 PM EST
History repeats itself as farce ?
As I left Rome after a recent trip the Italians voted. The winner was widely thought to be the comedian become political agitator, Bepe Grillo, whose party became a powerful new force. Grillo had been backed by Dario Fo, a popular political playwright:
"Grillo is like a character in one of my plays," says Dario Fo, whose satires on medieval and modern life have seen him handed a Nobel prize and hounded off Italian stages in a career that has covered 50 years. "He is from that school of medieval minstrels who played with paradox and the absurd," adds Fo.
Fo, 86, is best known for his play Accidental Death of an Anarchist, inspired by the death of a man in police custody in 1969, and has long been a leftwing hero in Italy. He publicly backed Grillo this year, co-writing a book on the comedian's fledgling political movement and giving him a ringing endorsement at a packed rally in Milan's Piazza Duomo days before the election.
The real trap for Grillo, warns Fo, is being beguiled by flattery. Turning again to history, he cites Cola Di Rienzo, the charismatic son of a tavern owner in the 14th century who wooed Romans with his oratory and became the city's leader, setting his sights high and ousting corrupt noble families, only to see his support slip away before he was murdered by a mob as he sought to flee in disguise.
by Ted Welch
Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 02:47:58 PM EST
The issue of violence, with obvious reference to the US, was raised in December 2012 by a French magazine - this is a poster for it on display in Nice (English text added by me).
Since then, these have been the main American films advertised in Nice:
by Ted Welch
Thu Jan 24th, 2013 at 09:05:52 AM EST
One of the reasons I write diaries is that I learn things by doing so, sometimes the process takes me in quite unexpected directions, thus what I thought would be a few captions about photos of a trip to Rapallo and Portofino turned into a discussion of the Ezra Pound, his meeting with James Angleton and the CIA's role in promoting Abstract Expressionism:
Often I learn through the comments from others and from researching my own responses to some of them. This has been the case with my diary about the recent cafe-philo in Paris.
The research involved in responding to comments by de Gondi and ATinNM grew, so I've used it to write a new diary rather than just adding a couple of comments.
by Ted Welch
Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 03:39:32 PM EST
Cafe-philo in English, with a French flavour.
The Jan 2nd 2013 meeting of the cafe-philo in English was packed; perhaps people had resolved to be more philosophical in the new year.
On the positive side this cafe-philo does encourage an interest in philosophical issues and provides a platform for the expression of opinion about general ideas by a variety of individuals. However the democratic format does tend to lead to the selection of very general issues which can be expressed in a single short sentence, in this case: "Can education remedy/fight (!) violence?" Well, yes and no; some kinds of education can help reduce some kinds and levels of violence, but also, rather obviously, some forms of education (e.g. technical, how to create an atomic bomb) can lead to enormously increased violence. The proposer himself cited Spartan education for the production of warriors and someone else claimed that many SS officers were PhDs.
by Ted Welch
Fri Dec 14th, 2012 at 06:30:28 PM EST
I went to Barcelona for the first time about twenty years ago, with a group of students and lecturers. I'd done some research and the first night did a tour on my own: Champagneria, Four Cats, etc. The next night I took my colleagues on my guided tour of Barcelona night-life - a barman letting us out of the last bar at about 3 am. I enjoyed the trip so much I went back on my own soon after. That time I saw one of the best flamenco shows I'd ever seen, up on Montjunc, stayed on for another show and came back down the hill as the sun came up. I got drunk enough (I'm British) to accept a dancer's invitation to join her on stage and tried to dance sevillanos (and didn't do too bad according to a female friend).
It had been a long gap since then, and Barcelona had developed, particularly around the port, where there was a huge new development, but there was still the traditional charm:
by Ted Welch
Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 05:34:56 PM EST
This has little to do with economics and energy, nor is it a personal diary; it's more about what we do with life beyond bare survival and how some people only really come alive a fingertip from death - and create a frightening beauty in doing so. One of them summed up his philosophy of climbing like this (rough translation from French - and only a French climber would put it like this):
"I climb to feel in harmony with myself, because I live in the moment, because it's a form of ethical and aesthetic expression through which I can realise myself, because I seek total liberty of body and mind. And because I like it." Patrick Berhault
by Ted Welch
Mon Oct 29th, 2012 at 05:09:21 PM EST
"Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman): 'I'm walking here! I'm walking here!' " Midnight Cowboy
So often Ratso's shout seems to be the French attitude - talk about individualism ! We Brits, like Americans tend to avoid touching, so on the tram in Nice I'm often moving around while the French happily rub against each other.
Applying Carroll's theories to Britons, you understand why foreigners think we are repressed. Americans won't touch strangers, the French won't talk to them, but Brits will neither touch nor talk to them.
When walking and we're on a collision course with others we take evasive action, the French just keep going. Today I witnessed a classic example,a middle-aged French couple stepped into the road against a red light, a car stopped about a metre from them and beeped them. The woman scurried across, but the guy, far from apologising for nearly causing an accident, faced the car, spread his arms and yelled: "Oh ! Oh !" - how dare the driver beep him: "I'm walking here !" I had my camera ready but was so stunned by his arrogance that I didn't take a photo.
Of course not all the French are like this, and in this case a young French guy, who was waiting for the light to change on the other side, politely pointed out to the guy that the light was red. I couldn't hear what the guy said, but the body language suggested: "So what? The driver could see me."
As I turned back from watching them and continued on my way, I had to accelerate to avoid being run down by a baby-buggy (not for the first time) pushed by a young woman who also seemed to have the Ratso attitude.
Last night on the M6 TV channel there was a report on various problems on French roads; one was what seems to be an increasing practice, an after-wedding convoy which stops, blocking main roads. This is not just selfish but dangerous, some other drivers taking risks to get round the blockage - "I'm driving here!". Some of the police turned this against the stoppers by getting ahead of them and then, while they were stopped, taking photos of them and their licence plates.
La vidéo pour revoir Enquête exclusive du dimanche 28 octobre 2012. Le magazine présenté par Bernard de la Villardière et diffusé sur M6 était titré Chauffards, voleurs et trafiquants : autoroutes à haut risque. Nous avons retrouvé un reportage sur les autoroutes où la criminalité n'a de cesse d'augmenter sous diverses formes : rodéos, passage de clandestins, trafics de drogues, attaques des stations-services, ...
There was also a more extreme individual, who knocked over a motorcyclist who was stopped at motorway payment area, then attacked a member of staff and, when the police arrived, reversed out, smashing a barrier. But it was all recorded on video and the member of staff had recorded the sound of the incident. The police later arrested the culprit, who tried to deny it, but the evidence was too strong and he got a deserved four months in prison (not his first time inside).
Meanwhile, when in France, don't do as the French do - nor as I do, as I find myself increasingly putting my head down, ignoring those on a collision course with me. Watch out for those baby-buggies, with little kids getting an education in the Ratso attitude - "I'm being walked here !".
by Ted Welch
Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 09:57:30 AM EST
This defense of voting for Obama came from another recent discussion.
We agreed on major things; we're both extremely critical of the "status quo" (see below), as is Chomsky, he and I think that we need radical change and that people deserve better.
However we disagreed about some of the means. Chomsky and I think it's worth trying secure whatever relatively small changes are currently possible because, while small in relation to what is desirable and ultimately possible, these can be matters of life and death for many people - e.g health insurance for 45 million people (see below).
by Ted Welch
Wed Oct 17th, 2012 at 03:35:03 AM EST
Recently I was discussing Hollande with an English friend who was somewhat critical of him, saying that he hadn't really had much experience: "What has he done?". The media have been attacking Hollande and his government for not having done anything:
They had become used to Sarkozy's mistaken (his view) hyperactive style.
I think the media's encouragement of emphasis on personality is unfortunate (as with Assange), most important is what group he belongs to and what they stand for. Sarkozy made what group he really represented all too clear the night of his election, with the party at Fouquets and his holiday on a billionaire's yacht (see below for contrast with Hollande - his bedroom in Tulle). Even a French President can't do much by himself and must represent the mainstream of his party and their policies.
front-paged by afew
by Ted Welch
Mon Oct 8th, 2012 at 05:56:37 PM EST
A Russian makes a Rothko mildly interesting by writing on it:
But it's just another bit of Art apparently, another attempt to be the most radical, art as a negation of art, a gesture to advance "Yellowism":
"The main difference between yellowism and art is that in art you have got freedom of interpretation. In yellowism you don't have freedom of interpretation, everything is about yellowism, that's it"
by Ted Welch
Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 01:33:48 PM EST
Sarkozy lost the debate:
45% thought Hollande convincing, 41% for Sarkozy (some people will believe anything). H came over as far more sincere (what a surprise) - H: 46%, S: 33%.
So much for his typically arrogant claim that he would "explode" Hollande and that H was "null".
This latter insult he typically denied a few days earlier, lying that he never under-estimated his opponents. A Le Monde journalist in the after interview discussion pointed out that he HAD said H was "null" - his brazen lying is outrageous. But then lying is just politics as usual for Sarkozy, thus, as Le Monde points out, in the debate last night he lied that Berlusconi was not his friend and not in the same European political group - of course B IS his friend and they ARE both in the same right-wing European group.
http://decodeurs.blog.lemonde.fr/ (3rd May)
Hollande also referred to Sarko having had meetings with right-wingers where money was donated - Sarko lied again, but there are reports and photos of such events:
Sarko knows that if he says things with apparent conviction many people will believe him - 20 million watched the debate on TV - but only a minority of people like me will look at Le Monde's "decodeurs" site to check the facts.
Many think Hollande clearly won, especially with his closing tirade, saying what kind of president he would be, contrasting it with Sarko's record. Many found this very powerful, and thought Sarko had made a big mistake in - for once - not interrupting. Even S's mate, Brice Hortefeux, thought it was "pas mal". Of course that other UMP liar, Copé, thought it was ridiculous - his evidence ? Some young UMP supporters laughed at it - that's the sort of thing Copé thinks the French are dumb enough to accept as proof.
Of course, Copé is smart (so was Goebbels) and he knows that UMP supporters of all ages will not be laughing on Sunday. After five years of a guy who looks and sounds like a little Mafia boss, except that they might be more honest about the facts, France will get a decent man as President, but one who proved he is smart and can be tough. In the debate he gave a whole new meaning to "going Dutch" :-)
by Ted Welch
Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 12:01:24 PM EST
VERY lucky with the weather for May Day at the Bastille.
Slideshow (click box bottom right for full screen and move cursor up to lose thumbnails at bottom) :
After that went with a friend to Bofinger, for a more bourgeois experience, but a very reasonable and good menu for 32.
Later in walked De Villepin with three attractive young women, probably his daughter, who is a model, and her friends.
by Ted Welch
Sat Apr 28th, 2012 at 07:24:58 PM EST
My camera got switched on in my bag and drained the battery - so iphone pics:
As it was often raining we didn't take our usual walk to the Eiffel Tower after lunch on Saturday. We stayed in the Canteloup till about 6.30, then moved on about 50 yards to Les Ondes for dinner and more chat - you name it, we discussed it.
The view just round the corner from my hotel:
by Ted Welch
Mon Apr 2nd, 2012 at 06:40:04 PM EST
The day after after putting together the montage about Sarkozy below (based on research by Le Petit Journal of Canal+), Nice-Matin had an interview with Damon Mayaffre, a researcher at CNRS (the National Centre of Scientific Research). He's been studying 85,000 sentences uttered in public by Sarkozy since 2007 and, in the Nice-Matin interview, focuses on Sarkozy's tendency to put questions to journalists so that he can answer them and seem be a master of the "precise figures" he claims (falsely in some examples) to be offering them, while shifting the focus to things he wants to talk about. It also suggests that the journalists (who he often attacks) don't know the relevant facts and need to be informed by him, encouraging a negative view of journalists.
|Un chercheur niçois dissèque le discours sarkozien | Nice-Matin|| A researcher dissects the speech Sarkozian Nice | Nice-Matin |
| La formule interrogative ? Ce « C'est un cadeau aux riches ?» poursuit quatre objectifs : «Se poser une question, non pas pour l'éviter, mais pour donner le sentiment d'avoir réponse à tout. Du coup, communier avec le bon sens populaire ... »|| The interrogative form? This "It's a gift to the rich?" has four objectives: " Ask yourself a question, not to avoid it, but to give the feeling of having all the answers. So, commune with popular common sense ... "|
| La forme interrogative comme moyen aussi de construire son charisme : « La technique sarkozienne qui consiste également à renvoyer une question au journaliste qui, lui, ne peut ni ne doit y répondre est un moyen d'inciter l'auditeur à s'abandonner à son autorité : la question restant fatalement sans réponse, sauf de sa part !»||The interrogative form is also a means to contruct his charisma: "The Sarkozian technique, which involves referring a question to the reporter who, himself, can not and must not respond, is a way of encouraging the listener to surrender to authority: the question remains unanswered inevitably, except by him !|
Actually that description is unfair - to pit-bulls; they don't lie. Maybe Copé would call it being economical with the facts. He's smart enough to know the facts, so his repeated misrepresentation of them is a recurring expression of contempt for the French people.
Thus in recent attacks on Hollande and the PS, he's accused them of making Corrèze (where Hollande is head of the Department) the most indebted area of France, making it the "Greece of France", a charge repeated several times recently.
However, as Liberation points out, this conveniently avoids the embarrassing facts that Copé's party, the UMP, were in power when the debt increased most:
|Copé pas vraiment carré sur la Corrèze - Libération||Cope not really square on the Correze - Liberation |
|quand Jean-François Copé parle d'une augmentation de la dette de 110 millions d'euros, il choisit un intervalle qui l'arrange (2007-2011) et mélange les époques : les deux premiers budgets ont été votés sous la précédente majorité UMP. «Notre responsabilité est de 63 millions sur 363 millions», réplique la majorité actuelle du conseil général, «17% pour nous, 83% pour la droite».||when Jean-Francois Cope talks about a debt increase of 110 million euros, he chose a range that suits him (2007-2011) and mixes up periods: the first two budgets were passed under the previous majority UMP. "Our responsibility is to 63 million of 363 million," replied the current majority of the General Council, "for us 17%, 83% for the right." |
Hollande only became president of the conseil général in March 2008, when the department was already the most indebted in France !
The bare-faced lying of Copé is disgusting, but continues; he tries another lie. On 29th March Copé alleged that the department had increased its staff by 50% under Hollande.
The figures again expose his contempt for the truth and the public: 1335 in 2008, 1318 in 2009, 1367 in 2012 (of whom 66 were national transfers).
On 30th March Copé tried to defend his accusation, ignoring the fact made clear in the report he cites that in the year before Hollande came to power the staff grew from 813 to 1174 - a 44% increase, the PS was only responsible for a 5% increase. Moreover these increases were mainly due to a national policy of decentralisation. This guy is head of the UMP and seen as a possible future president !
Copé - Liberation
by Ted Welch
Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 06:25:17 PM EST
After being disappointed with several recent films: The Ides of March; BruegeI; Take Shelter - I thought maybe I was just becoming jaded. But then on TV came "Billy Elliot", some important themes dealt with seriously, but also great, life-affirming, exuberant dancing.
Then today - what a day for films on TV - by wonderful serendipity I changed channels and there was Zorba The Greek, just as it started. What joy - one of my favourite films - and another life-affirming one. Sadly I've been too like Basil (Yes and too like the Fawlty Towers one too sometimes :-)):
Alexis Zorba: Damn it boss, I like you too much not to say it. You've got everything except one thing: madness! A man needs a little madness, or else...
Basil: Or else?
Alexis Zorba: ...he never dares cut the rope and be free."
Well, I did cut the rope, took early retirement from university and came to France - there was more than a little madness in that.
But while joyous the film is certainly not bland - I prepared something to eat during the scene where Irene Papas is killed (though I don't think Zorba would have turned his back and let her walk behind him through that crowd). It's also a horrible scene where the French woman dies and the old women (mainly) steal her things, no wonder the Cretans weren't happy with Michael Cacoyannis, the director (and I now see that he died just last year). But, for all his tenderness towards her while alive, Zorba is unsentimental when she dies: "Silly old bitch. She's not alone, she's with Suleiman Pasha having a hell of a time." Then the joyful wisdom (Nietzsche) of the final dance on the beach.
Then "Dangerous Liasons" - intelligent, but too full of DSK-style decadence, though even the apparently cynical can really suffer in love (Glenn Close).
More joy - "Dead Poets Society" another favourite, of course I identify with Keating (Robin Williams): "I always thought the purpose of education was to learn to think for yourself." Apparently while the film was being made Williams was only involved for about three weeks; the young actors playing the boys saw the director, Peter Weir, an Australian, as their Keating figure.
"Carpe diem" - but "Sucking the marrow out of life doesn't mean choking on the bone." It's a delicate balance - like dancing.
by Ted Welch
Thu Dec 8th, 2011 at 02:25:11 PM EST
Place Massena, Nice. André Massena was not exactly a man of peace and goodwill:
Masséna remained one of Bonaparte's most important subordinates throughout the extraordinary 1796-7 campaign in Italy. He played a significant part in engagements at Montenotte and Dego in the spring. He took a leading role at the battles of Lonato,Castiglione, Bassano, Caldiero and Arcola in the summer and fall, and the Battle of Rivoli and the fall of Mantua that winter.
"All this kitsch stuff is only temporary - I'll just sit it out."
I like these decorations which have a non-religious, almost astronomical look - above left the moon and Jupiter.
The moon and Jupiter.
No, not that biblical "virgin".
Place Garibaldi - he helped unify Italy so that nuts like Mussolini and Berlusconi could take over - and then Goldman Sachs.
"Down this mean streets a man must go" - who needs a late drink in Nice in December