Showing posts with label US society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US society. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Amazing American shit

It's nice and reassuring for an Antipodean European such as me to realize that we can look in on US weirdies as if we were visiting a sociological zoo, housing endangered species, without being expected to feed any of the inmates, let alone call upon funds to nourish them. Here's video testimony concerning an excellent specimen in the crazy American zoo, the pastor Charles Worseley, who considers that gays and lesbians should be herded together into a camp and left to die off.


Nice nasty stuff, to say the least...

Monday, July 4, 2011

On this 4th of July

Bernard-Henri Lévy (often referred to as BHL) is a brilliant French intellectual who has played a political role in several international contexts of a conflictual nature.


In The Daily Beast, BHL proposes
5 Lessons of the DSK Affair.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Christic insanity in America

That's a new word I've just invented (in fact, a borrowing from French). The adjective Christic (distinct from Christian, but clearly inspired by the same personage) simply means "related to Christ". Here's a Christic explanation of the creation of the US Constitution in 1787:

Painted by a certain Jon McNaughton [website], this allegory strikes me as the pure expression of a grave form of Christic insanity that may (or may not… I don't know) be endemic in parts of the USA. To call a spade a spade, I believe that people who need or admire such an image, not to mention the individuals who actually produce and market such shit, are suffering from some kind of brain damage.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Most loathsome Americans

When I heard of the existence of the following list of names, my immediate reaction was: "No, that's not possible. It's surely an error. There can't be as many as fifty Americans who deserve to be called loathsome." Besides, I myself would probably be incapable of even naming fifty living Americans, be they loathsome or lovable. That's like asking me to name, say, my ten favorite British TV soap-opera characters, or my twenty most boring Aussie pollies, or the hundred most arrogant French citizens (in which list it would be fitting if I myself were at least nominated as a candidate).

Although I recognized few names, the list is amusing. But it's all terribly parochial (which is a criticism that Americans are unlikely to understand). Often, I tried to guess, from the explanations, why the list compilers considered that such-and-such a person was loathsome. In certain cases, on the contrary, they sounded like interesting individuals (the targeted people, not the list-compilers). The weird idea of designating the reader as the 50th loathsome American was, to my mind, dull and meaningless. Besides, I didn't like to see Barack Obama's name appearing in the list. I wasn't able to figure out whether or not the list-compilers themselves appeared in the list. They should, I think. In conclusion, this annual list appears to be a mildly interesting idea, but the project has got somewhat screwed up, and run out of steam somewhere down the line. Maybe I react like that for the simple reason that "loathsome" is an adjective I've always loathed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prayers are needed urgently

In the context that concerns me, the US TV competition Dancing with the Stars, several individuals need, if not deserve, our prayers. This creates a problem. I'm not sure where we should start our praying.

Personally, I decided to get into action this morning by starting to pray energetically and intensely for Bristol Palin, because logically she's the person who probably needs our prayers most of all. There she is, competing in a great nation-wide dancing competition, and she dances—as somebody said—like a dog. [I shouldn't repeat that, because my dogs Sophia and Fitzroy would surely be offended if they got around to reading my blog, since they dance quite expertly. They've never seen my blog up until now, but I must be careful. Somebody might give them an iPhone.]

I also intend to exploit at least 20 percent of my stock of prayers for Bristol's mother, Sarah Palin. She is surely devoting a huge proportion of her limited resources to the promotion of her daughter's dancing career. So, with assistance from Jesus, I feel we should all dig in to help Sarah. This brave little God-fearing woman is doing a great job to keep her lovely child dancing with the stars. And her actions are going to pay off one day when the Almighty finally decides that her time has come... to sit on the Savior's right hand as his personal US delegate on the planet Earth.

I now learn that there's another individual who needs our prayers urgently. I'm talking of a 67-year-old Wisconsin gentleman named Steven Cowan who apparently took out a shotgun and blasted his TV set as soon as Bristol Palin appeared on the dancing stage. My personal theory is that this passionate fan of Bristol was so emotionally aroused (maybe sexually stimulated) when he caught sight of his darling dancer that he immediately called upon the only tangible means at hand to vent his hot blood: his shotgun.

Lastly, if you happen to have a few prayers left over, you might use them for the dumb US viewers who apparently watch this shit.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oral's spout

Oral Roberts [1918-2009] was a US TV-evangelist, and this is a recent cover of a magazine on miracles published by his followers.

Jeez, Oral's spout might indeed be miraculous, and some folk might find it fun to get underneath for a taste of glory, but they sure have a weird way of healing in Oklahoma!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

US rumblings

A few weeks ago, in writing a blog article entitled Americans fond of symbolic destruction [display], I had been motivated by two quite separate things:

• On the one hand, I had just watched a TV documentary on the life and death of John Lennon. There were frightening scenes showing young Americans burning ceremoniously all their Beatles paraphernalia as a revengeful reaction to Lennon's trivial (but plausible) comment about their being more popular than Jesus.

• On the other hand, I had just observed an open invitation—from an American to his fellow Americans—to burn the Confederate flag on September 12, 2010.

One of my readers urged me, quite rightly, to avoid depicting all the citizens of his nation as "ugly Americans"… which is a notorious and obsolete expression that I've never used here.

Today, further rumblings in the USA cannot fail to intrigue, if not disturb, an outsider such as me. The most blatant event is the call by a brain-damaged guy named Terry Jones, labeled as an "evangelical pastor", to immolate a copy of Islam's sacred text, the Koran.

It would be easy to see this affair merely as an absurd and insignificant gesture made by an isolated idiot… but this doesn't seem to be the case. Some important Americans—including David Petraeus (commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan) and Hillary Clinton (US secretary of state)—have condemned explicitly the senseless intentions of this anti-Muslim fanatic.

Rumblings of a milder but equally pernicious nature are manifested in a book by the Republican politician Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the US House of Representatives. I haven't read this document (and don't intend to), but reviews provide us, no doubt, with a good idea of the kind of ideas he's putting forward, summarized in the book's subtitle: Stopping Obama's secular-socialist machine. In the mouth of a conservative Republican such as Gingrich, the concept of secularism is quite weird. Like socialism, it designates some kind of ungodly sin. And the context in which condemnations of "secularism" and "socialism" are promulgated is automatically "Christian", as if it were an undisputed axiom that the founding fathers of the USA intended to create an exclusively Christian nation. (I prefer to put all those terms in inverted commas, highlighting Gingrich's particular way of approaching politics and using language. For example, I don't imagine for an instant that his conception of "socialism" has much in common with the great French political movement of the same name.)

Click the banner for a clearly-written critique of the Gingrich book by the black Californian writer Sikivu Hutchinson.

BREAKING NEWS: This morning, in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America, the US president Barack Obama warned that the "stunt" planned by Terry Jones would become a "recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda", endangering American citizens, particularly in the armed forces. Earlier in the week, a pragmatic solution was suggested by Bill Clinton: Why not simply cordon off the idiotic pastor in such a way that he and his friends would perform their book-burning all alone, out of sight of the media? Unfortunately, imaginative ideas of that kind rarely work.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hard to watch

See how long you can watch the following holy shit (made, of course, in the USA) before being overcome by nausea:

I got as far as the first shots of real-life kids, then I had to give up…

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Americans fond of symbolic destruction

Personally, the only act of "symbolic destruction" in which I've ever participated was the elimination by flames of the previous owner's rubbish at Gamone in February 1991.

This operation was conducted expertly, in an ambiance of joy, by my son François and his friends Philippe and Boubeker.

A primordial association exists between burning and purification or cleansing. On the other hand, I draw the line at religious sacrifice, which I've always looked upon as one of the most barbaric and psychopathic concepts that the mixed-up mind of Man has ever concocted.

In certain contexts of delusion, the destruction of an old order is seen as a sacrifice to the new order. That was the spirit in which the Nazis burned books:



Yesterday, on French TV, I watched an excellent documentary on John Lennon, who has been thrust momentarily into the news because his killer's sixth attempt at parole has just been postponed until September.

Everybody's familiar with the scenes of mass hysteria that occurred in many places throughout the world when the Beatles were at the height of their fame. But we should not forget other frightening scenes of hysteria, in the USA, following Lennon's amusingly blasphemous remark about their being more popular than Jesus Christ. Hordes of American adults and children scrambled to burn everything they could find concerning the Beatles.



I've just come across a US invitation to burn a flag next September 12.

This is said to be a protest against the American Right's exploitation of racial prejudice for political gain, and the proposed flag-burnings will coincide with the annual Tea Party festivities. If you're motivated, please be careful. For God's sake, don't burn the wrong flag! To help you adjust your sights, here's the flag you're being asked to destroy:

The organizers of Burn the Confederate Flag Day suggest that participants might throw parties, dress up as clowns, and film everything for the web.

Ah, dear mad America. You ain't never learned nothin', and you probably never will. You've got burning in your brain, destruction in your DNA, a deadly amalgam of God and guns in your genes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My daughter is a serial traveler

Emmanuelle phoned me up this morning, from the airport in Paris, to inform me that she and her friend were about to leave for an excursion to New York. I reacted by pointing out that she hadn't even told me anything yet about her trip to Moscow and Saint-Petersburg last week. She said laughingly that she had not had time to tell me anything about Russia because she had been so busy preparing her trip to the USA.

I was reminded of a short excursion to Manhattan with my son François, many years ago. Our very first taste of the amusements of America was provided by our young black cab-driver. Just after leaving Kennedy airport, he told us he had to drop in at a gasoline station. Having drawn his vehicle up alongside a gas pump, he got out of his cab, only to realize that the cap of his gas tank was on the far side with respect to the pump. So, he got back in and mumbled something about having to reposition his cab so that the cap of his gas tank was right next to the pump. My son and I watched with amazement as he made a series of back-and-forth movements which finally turned his vehicle in the opposite direction, but brought it in a half-circle to the other side of the pump… where the cap of his gas tank was still, of course, on the far side of the cab. The fellow simply couldn't understand what was happening. Starting off a new attempt to get his vehicle located at the right place, he looked across his shoulder at François and me, and said with a shy grin: "Jeez, I just gotta force myself to use my brain a bit better to solve this problem." On this third attempt, he did in fact succeed.

Once settled into the sleazy little hotel room we had booked, we went out walking in cold, wet Manhattan. Within five minutes, as a result of standing too close to the gutter at a street intersection, we were swamped with muddy water, and had to return to the hotel to clean ourselves.

That afternoon, there had been a gruesome murder affair in New Jersey. A young Hispanic guy had shot an entire family. My son and I were amazed by the non-stop TV interviews with various friends and colleagues of the murderer. They all seemed to be saying much the same thing: "Carlos is such a nice friendly guy. Everybody loves him. You know, he's the sort of fellow who wouldn't normally hurt a fly. It's hard to know what to say, because—believe me—Carlos is really a great guy." Clearly, there was something wrong. Carlos might not hurt flies. In certain circumstances, though, he seemed to be capable of hurting humans. But it was as if nobody were prepared to believe that their nice friend Carlos had just used a rifle to mow down three members of a family.

I forgot to remind my daughter, on the phone, that she might look into the idea of climbing up inside the Statue of Liberty, as my son and I once did. But I suspect that Emmanuelle will be able to imagine exotic projects of that kind without the advice of her father. As soon as she gets back to France, I intend to ask her if she heard any news about Carlos during her stay in Manhattan. It would certainly be a pity if such a nice guy were still in jail.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Separation of church and state in the USA

It was the archaic evangelist Billy Graham, a sort of circus mesmerizer of crowds, who succeeded in convincing the US Congress, in 1952, to establish a National Day of Prayer. I once listened to him out in Sydney, when I was a boy, and I remember feeling embarrassed, as if I had sneaked into a throng of idiots ready to be hypnotized by a snake-oil salesman.

America's official day of prayer is clearly an unconstitutional absurdity, which should have never come into existence. It's as if there were a special day on which the common folk of the nation were expected to attempt to perform miracles upon their fellow citizens, or to chase out devils from their souls, or some other absurdity of that religious mumbo-jumbo kind.

The Secular Coalition for America, whose executive director is Sean Faircloth, represents atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers in US politics.


Their advisory board includes outspoken intellectuals of international renown such as Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Steven Pinker and Salman Rushdie.

Click the photo to see their video concerning the urgent challenge of revoking the ridiculous National Day of Prayer.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Singular happenings

In my novel entitled All the Earth is Mine, the young mining engineer Jacob Rose has to transport equipment (including a small helicopter) and a handful of colleagues from Western Australia to Israel. So, he decides to use company funds to purchase

[...] a splendid sixty-foot deep-sea trawler, built five years ago at the Fremantle dockyards for an over-optimistic shrimp merchant who went bankrupt because he operated systematically in the wrong waters. Named Black Swan, this vessel was in perfect shape, since her owner had never been fortunate enough to have an opportunity of subjecting the trawler to the wear and tear of harsh seasons of shrimping. Jake, of course, was not interested in catching seafood. He intended to travel to Israel in this vessel, and to use it there both as a floating home and as a supply ship for his forthcoming operations. Prior to purchasing the trawler, Jake asked the owner to move the vessel to the Fremantle dockyards so that it could be inspected with a view to being fitted out with living quarters for six people. Jake also wanted to install a steel deck over the hold where nets full of shrimp were meant to be dragged into the vessel, enabling him to envisage folding the blades of his Ecureuil, hoisting the helicopter aboard and tying it down securely, under tarpaulins, for the trip to Israel. There would also be room underneath the tail section of the helicopter to stack a small Zodiac on the deck. In this way, the Black Swan would be an ideal mother ship for future operations at Caesarea. Fortunately, it would be possible to have these transformations carried out in a remarkably short period of time, meaning that Jake would be able to envisage their departure within about two months.

Here's my vision of Jake's converted trawler after its transformations in the Fremantle dockyards:

It wasn't particularly original of me to imagine the name Black Swan for Jake's trawler, since this creature is the celebrated symbol of Western Australia.

When I was a child, I remember hearing that the black species of Cygnus was found only in Australia, but this information didn't impress me greatly, for two obvious reasons: (1) I had never seen animals in any other natural environment beyond Australia, and (2) there are so many strange creatures in Australia that we have become blasé concerning adjectives such as "exotic" and "unique".

Recently, our famous bird acquired a new symbolic status through a best-seller entitled The Black Swan by the Lebanese intellectual Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He considers that certain unexpected happenings, of a spectacular nature, can be designated as Black Swan events [BSE]. They are defined by three characteristic features:
(1) BSE are totally unexpected.
(2) BSE give rise to profound effects with vast consequences.
(3) Such events can indeed be explained... but only retrospectively.

We can see why Taleb refers to black swans. In earlier centuries, it was thought that black swans simply did not exist. Then, in 1697, a Dutch navigator discovered that such birds did in fact exist in Western Australia. Consequently, the notion of a black swan came to designate something that went through these two phases, from total disbelief to astonished belief, followed by an a posteriori process of rationalization.

The culmination of my novel (which was completed several years before the publication of Taleb's book) is the transformation of Israel into a giant vessel that sails around the world. Funnily enough, this is a splendid example of a BSE! More realistic examples of BSEs, proposed by Taleb, are the Great War, personal computers and the Internet.

A fortnight ago, an interesting article entitled America, the fragile empire appeared in the Los Angeles Times [display]. Written by a Harvard historian, Niall Ferguson, the article had an even more eye-catching subtitle: Here today, gone tomorrow -- could the United States fall that fast? The gist of this short article is that the USA is a relatively fragile entity, which is capable of disintegrating unexpectedly and rapidly. In a nutshell, Niall Ferguson imagines that the fall of America could take the form of a Black Swan event.

Here's an excellent video in which TV host Harry Kreisler talks at length with Niall Ferguson about his book entitled The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World:



I must admit that I know little about the reputation of Ferguson among his peers, but I find that his style and assertions are startling, to say the least. But isn't that the very essence of a BSE?