Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pedalling with pills

This attractive drawing has been used in Le Monde to illustrate an ordinary article about the coming cycling season.

I often wonder whether many conscientious parents would be thrilled, these days, to see their children becoming enthusiastic about road cycling. At another level, when I was driven around a bit in Brittany last year, I became aware of the fact that riding a bike on rural roads has become a terribly treacherous pastime. As a young man, I made several thrilling two-day trips from Paris to Brittany (about 450 km) then back to Paris a few days later. Today, I'm sad to realize that any attempt to carry out such a pleasant trip would be totally suicidal.

Australian self-righteousness

From time to time, my native land is overcome by waves of self-righteousness concerning the poor treatment of Aborigines. This was the case — first on so-called Sorry Day, 26 May 1998, then again on 13 February 2008 — when Australia made a point of apologizing to Aborigines for having dispossessed them of much of their land and treated their offspring badly.

The truth of the matter is that these special days are largely a pointless celebration of self-righteousness, and that the actual conditions of Aborigines don't seem to evolve greatly.

Click here to consult a pompous declaration that emanated recently from an Australian university on what they refer to as Indigenous Terminology, which is basically a matter of learning to express oneself in a politically correct manner.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

French president's big flop

Finally, in spite of an early promise, our constitution will not be altered to deal with French terrorists. In the wake of the terrorist acts of 13 November 2015, François Hollande had suggested that the nationality of our home-grown criminals might be altered, to render them harmless.

Unfortunately, right from the start, this seemingly smart idea got screwed up, and went wrong. Today's official backflip is a major setback for our president. I can't imagine how he might possibly recover his popularity, and get reelected for a second presidential term.

Children's stories enhanced by US firearms

US kids are already concerned by the constitutional right to carry firearms. Since the beginning of 2016, some 50 US citizens less than 18 years old have accidentally fired a shot at somebody, often themselves.

It was inevitable, in God's Own Country, that old-fashioned stories for European children would end up being enhanced by the presence of protective firearms. Conscientious US parents certainly won't tolerate the possibility that their fat little kids might get devoured by a wolf.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Koala gets police assistance on a busy highway

Click here to see a Queensland koala taking advantage of exceptional police road-safety assistance. It would be a mistake, I fear, if koalas were to imagine that they can count upon this kind of convenient assistance. They need to realize that Australian police officers are busy individuals, who don't normally have spare time to help koalas cross the road. I feel it's the responsibility of mother koalas to get this message across to their young offspring, maybe with the help of government specialists in road safety and education. Could we imagine the creation of some kind of regular school training in this field, for juvenile koalas?

Difference between murderers and assassins ?

In my own mind, this linguistic question arises often. For example, in the case of my preceding blog post, I wasn’t quite sure whether I should designate the Taliban suicide-bomber who killed 72 people on Sunday as a murderer or rather an assassin. This question was further complicated by the fact that the killer had surely targeted Pakistani Christians, whereas his victims apparently turned out to be mostly Muslims.

The Arabic word hashishiyyin is a plural noun meaning “people who consume the drug hashish”. At the time of the Crusades, it was thought that future killers were often deliberately motivated, prior to their murderous acts, by drugging themselves with hashish. Consequently, the plural term gave rise erroneously to a singular word, assassin. Over the years, an assassin is thought of as a murderer of an illustrious victim. In the case of terrorist killers whose victims are often everyday citizens, there is no obvious reason to label such murderers as assassins. Admittedly, the case of the celebrated Charlie journalists in Paris might be thought of indeed as a strict assassination.

Murder of Christians in Pakistan

This hallucinating photo shows a devastated Pakistani mother who has just learnt that her son died in a terrorist bombing at Lahore.

Click here to access a British newspaper website with dramatic images of the slaughter perpetrated on Sunday by a Taliban suicide-bomber.

In a distant city on another continent, the New York artist Liza Donnelly has used simple strokes of her pencils to express the universal grief of Humanity's maternal civilization.

French easter eggs of a special kind

In the town of Pierrelatte, a little to the south of where I live, there's a famous crocodile farm, for tourists and lovers of these splendid Nile reptiles. Easter is their annual breeding time. Click here to access a video on this fascinating subject.

Monday, March 28, 2016

News from Belgium: video of a free man

Click here to watch the video of a man
who has just been set free in Belgium.

His name is Fayçal Cheffou. To the left of the innocent man, you can see two genuine terrorists: Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui, who would soon blow themselves to smithereens. I would imagine that the police are keeping a protective eye upon the innocent fellow, to make sure he doesn't run into harm. What a wonderful world!

In another domain, click here to watch a short video of a mother in Molenbeek, whose daughter has disappeared, probably forever, as the wife of a Daesh jihadist in Syria.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, the count of recent victims of terrorism has risen to 35 dead and 340 wounded.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

What do we mean by a “Molenbeek” ?

Patrick Kanner, the French Ministre de la ville (minister in charge of townships) has said that, in France, at least a hundred neighborhoods are similar to (have the same potential problems as) Molenbeek. It's a kind of newly-invented word in our French language. So, an obvious question arises: What exactly do we mean by a “Molenbeek” ?

« It's an enormous concentration of poverty and unemployment. It's a collection of ghettos. It's a maffia system with an underground economy. It's a system in which public services have practically disappeared. It's a system in which the elected representatives of the people have ceased to react. »

The minister added that the big difference between comparable situations in Belgium and in France is that, here in France, the existence of so-called Molenbeek systems is being tackled constantly.

I've noticed indeed that, in the French press, there seems to be a mounting degree of outspoken criticism of Belgium's failure to handle her "Molenbeek" communities.

Dramatic arrest at Schaerbeek last Friday

In the following photo, taken last Friday, a wanted fellow named Abderamane Ameroud has just been "neutralized" by police at a tram stop in Schaerbeek (Brussels). He's still perfectly alive, of course, but his legs have received a good dose of a mysterious police product that prevents him from going any further.

The victim of this apparently successful neutralization operation is still holding on to his back pack (maybe because his muscles have become rigid?) while a robot vehicle is moving up to the scene. Missing from the photo is the victim's young daughter, who was calmly taken away from the scene by detectives, before the robot was brought into action. You might click here in the hope of receiving understandable images and explanations concerning this dramatic arrest.

Personally, I think I've evolved somewhat in my understanding of police techniques. And I would hope that police forces in my native land (Australia) have also evolved considerably since their shoddy handling of Sydney's Lindt Café affair in December 2014. I often said to myself, in the aftermath of that calamity, that it would be a good idea if Australian police were to seek high-level professional advice from France. I don't know whether this ever happened, but I don't think so... particularly when I notice that naive Australian political leaders are trying to give advice these days to France and Belgium.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Trivial family data that remains a mystery

Apparently my father "Bill" Skyvington, as a teenager in Grafton, had made friends with a well-known family, named Clunies-Ross. It was only recently that I acquired a little information on this friendship, from my father's sister Yvonne Tarrant, but I've never been able to obtain any confirmation whatsoever. My father himself never seems to have mentioned this friendship to any member of my generation. So, one might say that this alleged friendship is such a flimsy tale that I ended up looking upon it as an empty family legend, which somebody (not my father) had invented. Furthermore this friendship legend was trivial, unimportant. But I'll repeat the tale briefly here in my blog, in the vague hope that readers might offer me a little factual data.

Clunies-Ross history and facts

Click here to meet up with historical facts concerning the so-called King of the Cocos Islands. More recent information deals with a descendant of the family who was in charge of scientific research in Australia, and there is even an aged descendant of the family living today in Western Australia. But nowhere in this mass of data is there any mention of members of the Clunies-Ross family who might have become my father's friends.

Story of a phantom vessel in South Grafton, the Induna

On the banks of the Clarence River in South Grafton, rusty remnants of the iron hull of an old vessel, the Induna, are still visible today.

When I was a child, we could clearly observe the perfectly visible form of the celebrated ship that used to transport train elements across the Clarence River before the construction of the bridge in 1932. Click here to read this story, which even includes a vague mention of Winston Churchill.

There seems to be no doubt whatsoever that the vessel, after being towed from Sydney to the Clarence River by the tug Heroic, in late 1924, steamed upriver to Grafton under the command of a certain Captain T. Clunies-Ross. According to our family legend, the captain's family settled down in Grafton, and my father "Bill" Skyvington (born in 1917) made friends with the Clunies-Ross children. That's all I know: certainly not much of a story...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Silly fellow who thought he was funny

A humorous Jewish fellow decided to celebrate the Purim festival by getting dressed up in an Arabic djellaba, carrying a fake kalachnikov and wandering into an austere synagogue in Vincennes.

Once inside, he cried out "Allah Akbar". Ah, what an imaginative and joyous clown. He'll have an opportunity of testing his sense of humor upon a local law court.

Beethoven Ode to Joy in Brussels

Click here to hear Beethoven in Brussels.

For the last half-century, tears start to flow whenever I hear that music. Today is no exception...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

This fellow's name is Malcolm Turnbull

He happens to be the prime minister of a rather dull country, Australia (where I was born in 1940), on the other side of the planet. Turnbull obtained that job last year, not because Australian citizens had elected him as their chief, but simply because he decided unilaterally to replace the existing party leader, Tony Abbott. Well, for reasons I fail to understand, this quite ordinary Australian fellow believes that, in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium, he has political lessons to give to the Old World. I obtained that information this evening, through a joke item on a French TV channel. I would be less embarrassed if Turnbull were to simply shut his dumb mouth.

POST SCRIPTUM Click here for a real challenge that Turnbull must face.

Radovan Karadzic, "the butcher of Bosnia", condemned to 40 years in prison

At the height of his notoriety, Radovan Karadzic was known because of his flamboyant hair style: which was not unlike that of a present-day US presidential candidate. Today, the so-called "butcher of Bosnia" received a 40-year prison sentence.

In the above photo, his ugly mate was Radko Mladic, who is still awaiting a trial.

When he was arrested in 2008, Karadzic had been a fugitive for ten years, disguised as a hairy monk.

Radovan Karadzic and Radko Mladic committed one of the nastiest crimes in modern history, the genocide of Srebrenica, perpetrated between 11 and 13 July 1995.

Great scientists receive their award in Paris

This afternoon, in Paris, two great scientists, the French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier and the American biochemist Jennifer Doudna, will be receiving the Oréal Unesco prize that they share for their discovery of the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 technology that is now applied worldwide in genetics research.

Many observers still have doubts about the ethical aspects of this technology.

"Before CRISPR-Cas9 might be used as a menu to build human babies, a lot of work would need to be done", states Emmanuelle Charpentier. "I feel that things are happening very rapidly. I think we should proceed step by step."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Passenger name record

The idea of setting up a PNR file (passenger name record) for people who move around by planes in Europe is a Loch Ness monster story that comes to light momentarily whenever there's a search for terrorists, then it disappears once again.

At present, both Manuel Valls and Bernard Cazeneuve have been strongly advocating this PNR project.

Do terrorists of the kind that concerns us today actually move around in Europe on commercial airliners? That would surprise me. I'm reminded of the joke about a fellow, having lost his keys, who's searching for them at the foot of a lamp post. Somebody asks him: "Are you sure you lost them at this place?" The fellow shakes his head. "No, I don't think I lost them here... but the light from the lamp post makes it easier to search for them in this area."

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Good Texan gun robbers

When I say that these fellows are "good", it goes without saying that I don't really mean that they're actually good, in any way whatsoever. Or, if you prefer, they're good at being bad bastards.

My thoughts go out to all our Belgian friends

The Eiffel Tower in Paris is lit up this evening with the colors of Belgium.

Often, throughout the day, while watching news broadcasts about these tragedies in Brussels, I've been reminded of the extent to which strong links have always existed between France and Belgium.

French prime minister: "We are at war"

This morning, the French prime minister Manuel Valls made a curious statement: "We are at war."

Personally, I'm not convinced that words of this kind serve any useful purpose. The Daech bastards, whose operations are not a case of conventional warfare, don't deserve the honor of such a declaration from the prime minister of France.

Mad Daech bastards have hit Belgium

Daech spokesmen have just declared officially that members of their organization are responsable for this morning's attacks in Brussels.

Click to enlarge slightly

How much more time will it take before European forces eradicate forever these mad bastards?

BREAKING NEWS (Tuesday 17 h): Belgian police have just released this photo of three suspects:

Monday, March 21, 2016

New images of Molenbeek capture

Click here to access video.

I was impressed by the courage of the guy in white who decided to dash through the door, just in front of the armed policemen, and start running... as if he were invisible or capable of dodging the bullets.

He was rapidly "neutralized"... which is police jargon indicating that his body was hit by a mysterious pharmaceutical dart (?) making it impossible for him to go any further. Was he courageous, or rather suicidal, or simply foolish? Totally stupid? Maybe he was counting on prayer...

Practical questions

It was only a few years ago that I started to become obsessed by asking various practical questions, and attempting to find answers. Our modern life in society often leads us to ignore many fundamental questions of a practical nature, as if they weren't important enough to merit our attention. For example, countless urban youngsters eat hamburgers regularly without fully understanding all the steps that go into the production of such foodstuffs. For all they know, hamburgers might grow magically on MacDo trees.

When I revisited my native land, ten years ago, I was quite impressed by the widespread presence in Sydney of sushi products, all over the city. My first reaction was to wonder how it came about that so many Australians had acquired the skill of producing sushi. Had they all gone up to Japan and back, for a few weeks, to attend training courses? Had they then installed many modern Japanese kitchens in Sydney, to create these products? The truth of the matter is that all these sushi products were no doubt manufactured by a single firm, in one small factory, and then delivered throughout the city by small vans, in the early hours of the morning.

Over the last few days, I've become fascinated by a trivial practical question concerning the small town in Australia where I grew up, South Grafton. I had received an e-mail from a young man who informed me that his mother had been the daughter of our village baker, named Allan Gregor. It was easy for me to detect the building in which the bakery had existed (when I was a child), for its facade was crowned by a sheaf of wheat. And customers entered the bakery through the left-hand door, behind the reddish automobile.

Click to enlarge slightly

I was instantly intrigued by an obvious question. That bakery must have comprised an oven fueled by wood. So, how did the baker take delivery of wood for his oven, and flour for his dough? For hours, I studied GoogleMaps images, trying to figure out where the wood and flour could have been delivered. It took me some time to realize that there used to be a narrow lane to the right of the bakery, where a tree and a whitish vehicle are located in the above photo. I don't know whether the lane was big enough to allow the presence of a vehicle, but that's a minor question. In the early hours of the morning, a truck could have halted outside the lane, and the baker could have then used a trolley to cart wood and flour along the lane, to the rear end of his bakery.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Vernal equinox, first day of spring

In our northern hemisphere, 20 March 2016 is the vernal equinox: the first day of spring.

I've always liked that woodcut of a fellow poking his head through the celestial vault... but I realize, of course, that it's meaningless nonsense, and a silly choice of an illustration intended to evoke the start of spring.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Castle in Spain

Ever since the 9th century, the castle of Matrera stands proudly on a hill near Cadix.

But the ancient castle suffered from heavy rain in 2013, and was in need of restoration. This work was carried out by a Spanish architect named Carlos Quevedo Rojas. The problem, alas, is that the restored medieval castle now looks like a modern concrete building.

The architect is nevertheless convinced that he did a good job. Click here to access a short video of the massacre. An observer is reminded of another notorious restoration job in Spain: the Ecce Homo fresco at Borja carried out by an unskilled 82-year-old lady.

Smart bird

A 30-year-old fellow was judged in Arras for the possession of cannabis, along with an undeclared firearm.

Handling his own defence (with no assistance from a barrister), he explained to the tribunal that his pet canary had used his beak to plant cannabis grains in the soil just alongside the bird's cage.

JUDGE: "You're saying that you simply failed to notice the rows of cannabis that the bird had planted alongside its cage? They grew freely in total liberty, with no help from anybody? Not even the canary? Some of those cannabis stalks were nevertheless over a metre in height."

ACCUSED FELLOW: "Yes, that's what I'm saying."

If I understand correctly, nobody accused the canary of having acquired the unregistered firearm. The bird might be keen on weed, but there's no way in the world it would get mixed up in illegal weapons.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Capture of Salah Abdeslam, alive, in Brussels

I'm watching live coverage of police operations in Molenbeek (outskirts of Brussels) where the terrorist Salah Abdeslam was apparently arrested alive about an hour ago. Helmeted riot police are strolling around, accompanied by police dogs, and the atmosphere is electric.

Breaking news 19 h 15. 
Biological test has confirmed the identity of Salah Abdeslam.

Click on the following link to access a video clip of the capture:

That live capture was great news!

Meanwhile, it's important to get this fellow extradited to France as rapidly as possible, so that he can be safely protected, not only from his friends and enemies, but from himself above all. It would be a terrible pity if he were to be carelessly injured or lost simply because French authorities weren't taking sufficient care of him. In our combat against Daech, this ugly guy is a priceless French asset.

A fellow who's mad as a hatter and inebriated can get out of trouble

The story started up in the sky, on a jet liner traveling from Algeria to France.

After a few drinks, a merry young chap started to become boisterous. He insisted upon ordering more alcohol, and he wanted to carry on smoking. When the cabin crew tried to calm him down, he decided to piss on them. So, they overpowered him while the flight commander obtained an authorization to land rapidly at Lyon.

Apparently the fellow will not have to face justice, because specialists in Lyon concluded that he's legally irresponsible for his acts, since he suffers from severe psychiatric afflictions. So, one day, with a bit of (bad) luck, you might find yourself on the same flight as this passenger. And, if I understand correctly, he'll be obliged to wear neither a straight-jacket nor even a striped penitentiary T-shirt with flashing red lights and warning signs.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fitzroy has received a pharmaceutical gift in the mail: a luxurious beauty product

Emmanuelle sent him this gift from Paris. But Fitzroy hasn't yet discovered the contents (not, of course, meant to be consumed).

It's a high-quality shampoo. Emmanuelle assures me that this product should be able to eradicate the nasty smell of a dead wild boar, which has been encompassing my dog for the last fortnight.

Best invention since sliced bread

Self-lacing shoes from Nike:

If the manufacturer wishes to send me a pair (size 43) for testing
(to be followed, of course, by an in-depth blog post), my address is
Mas de Gamone, Choranche 38680, France

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Prehistoric Twitter bird icon

French archeologists have made a fabulous discovery. A fragment of silex found near Bergerac (Dordogne) contains an engraving, produced 35,000 years ago, of the famous Twitter bird icon.

Click to enlarge slightly

This discovery probably suggests that the French government might look into the possibility of acquiring this prestigious company and declaring it a part of France's national heritage. That would mean, of course, that all tweets, from then on, would have to be written in classical French, and approved by the Académie française.

Captain Kampf has left the vessel

The Frenchman Serge Kampf [1935-2016], a commercially-successful businessman in the arena of the management of personnel for software development, was a native of Grenoble who used a good part of his personal wealth to promote rugby.

Our paths crossed during my early years in France, simply because Kampf succeeded in purchasing the French company named CAP (Centre d'Analyse et de Programmation), which had been one of my first employers. After that buyout and the subsequent disappearance of the original company, Kampf retained preciously the CAP acronym, which soon acquired a new meaning that had nothing to do with the original sense of "Centre d'Analyse et de Programmation". And that's why I've decided to designate the late Serge Kampf as "Captain".

My first employment with the original CAP company took me to Brussels, where our daughter Emmanuelle was born. After a trip out to Australia with Christine and our baby, I was called back to Paris by the CAP company, to set up their in-house training department, with the aim of producing computer programmers. Then I abandoned completely this activity in order to spend a few years in the French broadcasting world, with Pierre Schaeffer at the Service de la Recherche de l'ORTF.

Later, I moved briefly into the new CAP domain that Serge Kampf had started to build up. One of Kampf's key subordinates, a certain Jean-Pierre Descendre, had the impression that I would be the right man in the right place to handle an outlandish adventure that would consist of creating a computerized teaching laboratory for the Shar of Persia and his wife Soraya. I was on the point of accepting naively this crazy mission. Fortunately, Kampf was alert enough to realize that Descendre was surely leading the company (not to mention me too) into a mine field. So, he stopped the project instantly. Thanks, Serge, for saving me from the magic carpets of Persia...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Scottish Kangoo from my sister Susan

When my sister Susan Skyvington dropped in rapidly at Gamone last year, she met up with my Renault Kangoo automobile. In this morning's mail, I received a nice gift from Susan, who offered me a Scottish Walkers version of my Kangoo.

And it's full of my favorite Scottish shortbread biscuits!
Thank you so much, Susan, for that delightful little gift.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Old octopus stories in the Antipodes

Click to enlarge slightly

Trump on Tonight Show, not very laughable

Here are two old Donald Trump spoofs from the Tonight Show:

When I compare these US political specimens with typical spoofs created here in France, I find them totally trivial, and devoid of any kind of in-depth humor. They don't really make me laugh. In the course of a typical evening of French TV, I would normally discover several times more stuff that's far funnier. In any case, I have the impression that US authors of political humor have simply lost their touch. In the above specimens, they have gone to a lot of trouble in their attempt to simply imitate Trump, whereas authentic humor would attempt to magnify reality and make it more absurd. For example, the authors are surely proud to have dressed their would-be Trumps in exactly the same necktie as the real-life Trump, and given him an identical hairdo. Their Trumps remind me of characters in typical US "historical" movies. Why don't they try to twist the real-life necktie and hairdo to make them outlandish and truly funny? Their necktie might, for example, have been knitted in mauve wool by one of Trump's admirers. His hairdo might be composed of a barely visible nylon net surrounding a hilarious mess of pink knots (including a mislaid hairclip).

I believe that the ghosts of Laurel and Hardy would shudder in boredom if they were to watch the Tonight Show.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Crater of dinosaur doom

This is an artist’s impression of the Chicxlub crater, buried beneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, whose rings are located at a depth of some 20 km beneath the surface of the sea.

(D van Ravenswaay/Science Photo Library)

The following video provides us with an idea of the possible appearance of the site, after the impact:

Events triggered off by this impact may have been responsible for the disappearance of dinosaurs.

Later this month, a scientific vessel will arrive in the vicinity of the Yucatán Peninsula, sponsored by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, with the aim of building an exploration platform at a depth of 17 metres. This should enable geologists to study the formation of the ancient peak rings, which remain hidden beneath half-a-kilometre of limestone rubble.

If all goes well, this research might provide us with a better idea of the circumstances in which the dinosaurs left the stage forever... leaving room for the evolution of alternative animals (much later on, of course) such as me and my dog Fitzroy.

God's dull clowns

At both extremities of my personal Antipodes (Australia and France), God's dull clowns seem to be playing their roles by using comparable scripts. Dignitaries of the Church bend over backwards to protect randy members of their clergy who got caught dipping their wicks into the oil of youth. And the protectors' performances are similarly sickening. The latest dignitary to be embroiled in such a situation is the archbishop of Lyon, cardinal Philippe Barbarin.

Whenever such noble fellows are caught up in dubious protection rackets, they're probably convinced personally that they're behaving correctly, at least in the eyes of God. But perspicacious observers tend to see them, when they fail to denounce sexual offenders, as advocates of the Devil. And, when the victims are innocent youth, society labels the weakness of these dignitaries as "failure to protect young people in grave danger".

Friday, March 11, 2016


The Turing Award, organized by the Association for Computing Machinery, is often described as the Nobel Prize for computer specialists. Its early winners included two pioneers of artificial intelligence: Marvin Minsky (1969) and John McCarthy (1971). The most recent winners were Whitfield Diffie, former Chief Security Officer of Sun Microsystems and Martin Hellman, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. In 1976, they invented the fascinating subject of public-key cryptography, which enables users of the commercial World Wide Web to communicate in total safety. This subject is not easy to understand, but it concerns us in such an everyday fashion that it's worthwhile making an effort to see how it works. I therefore recommend that you study carefully the following excellent video:

Click the YouTube icon

You might need to watch this video several times, while taking notes, in order to understand clearly the principles of public-key cryptography.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Beautiful penguin story

Click the YouTube icon

As they say in French, the carrots are cooked

That nice old-fashioned French saying designates a situation in which failure is just around the corner. And that's the current situation of the Korean Go player Lee Sedol in his match against an AI (artificial intelligence) known as AlphaGo. In the following photo, Lee is on the right, whereas the fellow in front of him has the job of carrying out the moves requested by the AI opponent.

Well, after two matches, the AI has defeated Lee Sedol in both games. So, the AI only needs to clinch one more game to win the tournament.

Needless to say (although I insist upon making this point, without attempting to go into details), this man/machine competition is more exciting and intellectually meaningful than the recent competitions involving a question-answering AI from IBM known as Watson.

If Trump wins, the human species will be in very deep trouble

Those words come from the US intellectual Noam Chomsky.

Click here to access a short article on this scary warning.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

French president communicates with the god of rain

Ever since François Hollande arrived at the Elysées Palace, observers have been impressed by his apparent contacts with a mysterious deity: the God of Rain.

It's difficult to identify this deity, and learn his exact name, because there are many possible candidates, in several theological domains. But we have witnessed numerous situations when the president was in a profound state of communication with his deity.

Many French citizens do not seem to realize that we could be taking bad weather risks when we imagine the possible refusal to usher in a second presidential term for Hollande. If ever the God of Rain were offended by our vote, the land might be smitten by his wrath. There could be terrible droughts, and the rivers of France might run dry.

Here at Gamone, since the start of winter, there have been so many days and nights of chilly rain that I've often felt we were being inundated with warnings. Maybe the god is becoming angry. We should take heed... or maybe pray.