Friday, December 21, 2007

Identity issues

The firm that wants to sell generic Viagra to my alter-ego Bruno, mentioned in my recent article entitled Unsaintly stuff [display], is trying to invent a correct and friendly opening line for their spam. Their latest email to saintly Bruno starts as follows: Monsieur Saint.

When they get around to flogging their stuff to superior customers, they'll surely start their spam with, say, Monsieur Christ. In France, there are ordinary folk whose family name is Dieu [God]. Long ago, when Christine and I were living in Houdan, to the west of Paris, our local garage-owner was a Monsieur Dieu. If you got your brakes adjusted or your old tires changed, you could always be assured of receiving service and spare parts of divine quality.

In a quite different domain, that of my blog, I decided to authorize the insertion of Google ads. Who knows, maybe the new revenue will finally enable me to purchase, say, a tiny Mediterranean island. Apparently, a Google expert [maybe a human being, but not necessarily so] had to spend a short time visiting my Antipodes blog and deciding what kind of Google ads they should insert into such a website.

It's fun to examine the nature of various Google ads that have been displayed on my blog. They're a reflection, I suppose, of the underlying theme or profound nature of Antipodes as seen by Google. As somebody might have said: "Show me the Google ads displayed on your blog, and I'll tell you what kind of a blogger you are." It's not unlikely that, even for Google [androids and humans], it might be a little difficult to put the contents of my Antipodes blog into a nicely-labeled category. Consequently, some of the Google ads are likely to be a little unexpected... which makes this whole thing fun, if not funny. It goes without saying that I'm not allowed, personally, to click on any of these ads, because Google might interpret that as an illicit attempt to persuade them that genuine customers are clicking ads displayed on my Antipodes website. But nothing prevents me from noting down the details of the links, and then looking into their identity.

For example [I hope your browser displayed an orange dot at the start of this paragraph. If not, please let me know, and I'll stop trying to insert orange dots into my blog articles.], this morning, I noticed that there's an ad in my blog concerning the online services of the University of Liverpool [display].

I'm pleased that Google reckons that Antipodes readers might like to sign up for studies at an Internet university located in Beatles Land. The Fabulous Four came to fame at exactly the moment I met up with Christine at the Cité Universitaire in Paris, in the middle of the '60s. I've always sensed an ethereal link with John Lennon in that the poor guy, born a fortnight after me, got hit with the Winston name that I had succeeded narrowly in avoiding... thanks to a last-minute intervention of my dear mother against an aging aunt.

Things start to get a little weirder when I find an ad [display] concerning a UK firm, Anthony Island, whose specialties are listed as "executive security, close protection, incident crisis/management and surveillance/intelligence reports". I'm honored, but a little amazed, to think that readers of Antipodes [that's to say: you!] are preoccupied by those kinds of activities and affairs. I had always imagined you, naively, as nice simple folk interested either in my birthplace, Australia, or my adopted homeplace, France. I can't imagine why the hell you might wish to drop in on such a strange organization. But that's your problem, not mine.

Things get more disturbing still when my displayed Google ads refer to US organizations. Is it a fact that readers of my Antipodes blog might be interested in the services of Ahura Scientific [display], "for all your specialized security needs"? Their link, as it appears on my blog, speaks of "chemical detectors" that enable you to "immediately identfy explosives and chemicals used in terrorist attacks". To put it bluntly, Google would appear to believe that readers of my Antipodes blog are anguished by terrorist attacks. Frankly, I ignored this.

Things don't stop there. On the contrary, the latest Google ad on my Antipodes blog evokes the celebrated Pinkerton organization in New Jersey [display]. This is astounding news. I had no idea that you're all obsessed by security to this extent! Why the hell didn't you drop me a comment to tell me about your anguishes?

Things get back to normal with the most-recent Google ad: a link to the business administration department of the University of Geneva. Thank God, I think, that's more me! After all, I once taught computing in the business school of the Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia. But how did Google learn that?

Finally, I'm obliged to admit that I'm not at all sure who I really am, and what I write about.

Am I really writing this blog for anguished citizens who might be tempted to call upon Ahura or Pinkerton to save themselves from being annihilated by international terrorists? Or are my readers rather intelligent citizens who might like to study with academic sources located in delightful places such as Liverpool or Geneva? That's an interesting interrogation. Fortunately, I'm surrounded by wise friends. Besides my constantly-celebrated dog Sophia, there's a donkey and a billy goat. I'll let you know, as soon as possible, what they think about this whole identity crisis.


  1. Ha! That's funny - I started a new blog a few days ago and inserted some Google ads in order to buy a tiny island... on Second Life!

  2. It is supposed to be a "commercial" blog, but I'm afraid I don't know how to seduce "le grand public"...

  3. Mind you, considering the numbers of readers on my usual blog, I'm not sure that I'm able to seduce ANY kind of reader. To tell the truth: I don't care, although the lack of comments is a bit frustrating sometimes.

  4. To change the subject, have you seen the extraordinary TV documentary (Arte) on Romania by Vincent Froelhy, L'étrange Noël? To an outsider such as myself, seeing no more than this excellent documentary, it appears to be a mysterious land, with profound and beautiful but disconcerting customs...

  5. No I didn't. If it is available on Internet, I'll certainly have a look at it. My parents were neither religious nor did they follow the traditions, so I know very little about Romanian customs.

  6. My daughter Emmanuelle, who's a journalist at Télérama, was with me when we watched this strange TV documentary, and she should be able to indicate how it might be viewed. But it's possible that the rural Romania depicted in this film, with its various spirits [of both the evil and the alcoholic kinds], might be just as distant from your personal childhood experiences as the phantoms of Dracula...

  7. I like the google ad for "Boomerangs and Geckos" next to the article about Bruce Hudson's outback trip with one photo of him standing on top of Uluru. I know where to go now for my next boomerang. I hope the traditional land owners receive the proceeds from this ad!