Showing posts with label blog concept. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blog concept. Show all posts

Friday, March 28, 2014

As dumb as they come

Lots of dumb folk, thinking themselves smart, send fake comments to my Antipodes blog, with links to their own dull blogs. In doing this, they hope that their comment will get published and bring traffic to their own blog. Here’s a nice example, which deserves a prize for stupidity:
Anonymous has left a new comment

Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I'll definitely be back.

Feel free to surf to my homepage: buying nail clippers () 
It so happens that I did in fact write a book on the subject of my blog post, which is full of pictures. Fake comments of this kind get filtered and they end up rapidly, of course, in my trash can. So, my family-history research is not going to help this fuckwit to sell his nail clippers.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Life after Facebook

I pulled out of Facebook a few years ago. Since then, I've never experienced any nasty withdrawal symptoms and my existence has remained very much the same as when I had an operational Facebook account. In that last phrase, the adjective "operational" is a slight exaggeration, because I never went to the trouble of building a so-called "wall", so nobody ever "liked" me, just as I refrained from ever "liking" any other addicts in the Facebook universe.

The celebrated French cartoonist Charb has kindly authorized me to reproduce one of his marvelous drawings:

— from an article by Patrick Pelloux in Charlie Hebdo (France)

So, life after Facebook is a reality. Maybe, since abandoning Facebook, I've been missing out on all kinds of communication pleasures. But, since I'm not aware of what I'm letting slip by, it doesn't seem to hurt me. Some people might say that my Antipodes blog is "worse" than a Facebook account, since I'm constantly exposing myself on all kinds of subjects, and I know that Google drops in regularly on my latest blog posts, to see what I've been talking about. The big difference is that I never set out to write stuff that will make me "liked". In fact, as you can see from certain comments, there are readers who hate my guts... but that's normal, and I don't get upset by run-of-the-mill criticism (which often says more about the individual writing the criticism than about me). In any case, I've nothing to hide, and I'm happy to be known publicly as the sort of fellow who might write a blog such as Antipodes. I'm not at all like Groucho Marx when he said: "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member." Above all, I'm pleased to learn (through my Site Meter account) that dozens of my old blog posts get read every day... mainly by readers in the USA, the UK and Australia.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Recent comments are back

I finally found a widget that works for recent comments (in the right-hand sidebar). I should have found it ages ago, but I'm lazy.

Besides, as you see, I'm fed up with the grassy background. For the moment, I prefer this "wide brown land" look. Maybe it's the scorching heat in France that has altered my outlook.

Since writing that last paragraph, I've changed the brown background to a subtle greenish hue... which probably corresponds to what the French designate poetically as "goose shit".

Friday, July 29, 2011


I've always been intrigued by manifestations of an everyday concept that can only be called relativity… although it has nothing to do with Einstein. I'm talking of the fact that an individual X might consider such-and-such a thing as important, whereas an individual Y might consider the same thing as trivial. That's to say, the thing is, or is not, important/trivial depending on the identity of its respective viewers. And that's why I suggest (rightly or wrongly, at a language level) that it's a case of relativity.

Ever since the inception of my Antipodes blog in December 2006 [display], its spirit has evolved constantly around the concept of an upside-down world in which certain folk seem to be walking on their heads… when viewed, that is, by folk on the other side of our conceptual planet.

I'm amazed whenever the ordinary universe reveals itself (above all, in the domain of quantum physics and cosmology) as extraordinary. Inversely, I'm amused when I see that dull phenomena (such as tourism in my native land) can be interpreted by their beholders as objects of planetary contemplation. I ask myself constantly: Why can't we all agree about what's important (and what's trivial), what's amazing (and what's run-of-the-mill), what's beautiful (and what's dull), what's precious (and what's cheap), etc.

Today, I'm convinced that this theme of everyday relativity is all-important, because it determines whether or not we're talking on the same wavelength, or even talking about the same issues. Back in 2006 in Sydney, I shall never forget the experience of describing with enthusiasm, to my uncle Peter and his wife Nancy Walker, the reasons why it was so fundamentally important for me to make this pilgrimage from France, back to Australia, to visit our ancestral Braidwood. After listening to my profound explanations, Peter said to me: "William, you must realize that nobody gives a screw about all that you've just been saying." I remember, above all, the term "screw", an euphemism for "fuck" (since Peter never used bad language). He was right, in his tiny narrow-minded way. But, in most ways, Peter was utterly wrong, for he had sadly misjudged (underestimated) what makes the world go round. In a nutshell: Our constant challenge of evaluating what went wrong in the past, and trying to improve things for the future. That, my dear ignorant uncle Peter, is what people have been giving countless literal fucks about for the last few billion years.

Sadly, I never saw Braidwood, because there was simply nobody to take me there. For me, this was a gigantic disappointment... which accounts for much of the distaste I now express for that silly sunburnt country and its people that I used to love.

This relativity theme is so huge that I've lost steam (in criticizing my uncle) before I even got started. I'll get back to it in later blog posts...

I've been talking on about anything and everything for years, in this Antipodes blog, designed to evoke interesting responses from those around me, particularly my genetic relatives. Well, in all that time, I continue to find it utterly amazing that this blog has never recorded a single instance of a significant reaction from any individuals in that "genetic relatives" category. It's as if they all signed off as soon as they saw the first words of Antipodes. In fact, I don't give a screw.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blog metronome

Often, the interruption of my blogging activities for a few days is a healthy sign. It can indicate that I've become involved in some other kind of activity that seems to be of a higher priority and maybe more rewarding than the ephemeral pulses of my blog metronome.

Recently, in my blog post entitled Voices from Vienna [display], I included a copy of a short personal letter sent to me in 1976 by the great Vienna-born art critic Ernst Gombrich. I forwarded a link to my blog to the people in charge of the Gombrich archives, for I imagined that it was my duty to inform them of this interesting little letter (in which Gombrich mentions his friend Karl Popper). Well, to cut a long story short, they are indeed interested in this document, and the circumstances in which my correspondence with Gombrich took place. So I started to dig through my personal archives in order to reconstruct the context in which I had written to Gombrich. At one point, I suggested to the British professor Richard Woodfield (a specialist on Gombrich) that I intended to deal with these questions in my blog, as soon as possible. Richard's honest reaction caught me a little off guard: "Blogs themselves are ephemeral affairs." He would prefer to receive from me something a little more substantial, fit to be incorporated into academic archives. And he's so right. In spite of all our wishful thinking and vain attempts to write words of wisdom, or even to entertain in a wholesome style, our poor metronome blogs remain ephemeral creations, in which bloggers flit gaily from one theme to another, often clumsily and inexpertly, while their commenters continue nevertheless to support and applaud their literary heroes of note with lots of LOLs and "I agrees". Finally, I was happy to tell Richard Woodfield that I intended to create an in-depth PDF document describing the context of my contact with Ernst Gombrich. So, in the near future, my blog will contain a short post that merely invites you to download the article in question (on which I am currently working).

Pursuing the theme of voices from Vienna, I had intended to talk about an event that left me with many fond memories: a Unesco consultation of experts on communication that took place at the Berghotel Tulbingerkogel in Mauerbach, near Vienna (on the edge of the Wienerwald), from 15 to 18 April 1980.

We came from nine countries, including the Soviet Union and Japan. The US participant was Lotfi Zadeh, renowned for his mathematical invention of fuzzy sets. The chairman was the Austrian musicologist Kurt Blaukopf (a specialist on Gustav Mahler), whom I had already encountered when I was working in Paris with Pierre Schaeffer (the inventor of musique concrète). My personal participation came about through my contacts in Paris with the French participant Yves Stourdzé, a sociology academic who had been a comrade of Daniel Cohn-Bendit at Nanterre in 1968.

Anecdote: Stepping into a tourist bus for some sight-seeing in Vienna, Yves Stourdzé said to me: "I've just received a phone call from Paris. Jean-Paul Sartre has died." Curiously, that trivial announcement of the philosopher's death [on 15 April 1980] made a lasting impact upon me… on a par with my being informed, say, that Kennedy had been shot, or that terrorists were flying planes into skyscrapers.

As for the meeting itself (for which I was the elected rapporteur), my blog would be an inadequate medium for delving into the themes that were discussed there. In any case, our meeting gave rise to a special issue of Unesco's International Social Science Journal [vol 32, no 2, 1980]. My personal participation consisted of expressing one of my favorite French themes: the way in which a blending of the semaphore towers of Claude Chappe and the punched-card weaving apparatus of Joseph-Marie Jacquard set the scene for the arrival, a century down the road, of a certain US company that gained celebrity and made a fortune through the manufacture and international marketing of so-called "business machines".

Over the last week, during the time that my blog metronome ceased its audible ticking, I was also enthralled by the fascinating story of the bacterial epidemic in Germany, but I soon discovered that it has become such a complex affair—intertwining several different dimensions: biology, public health, economics, etc—that it would be senseless and reckless to run the risk of writing insipid nonsense about such a huge problem. It's incredible that unexpected incompetence in Germany has given rise to so many disastrous false revelations concerning the source of the epidemic. Meanwhile, I've been working on a short blog post that sets forth my impressions of this affair, but it's probably preferable to refrain from saying anything for the moment.

Undisturbed by the ticks of a metronome, I was also able to take advantage of the warm days at Gamone (a little wet at the present moment) to get around to rereading, at last (for the first time since my move to Gamone), the hermit's hero: the American poet-naturalist Henry David Thoreau, who lived on his own in the woods of Massachusetts, alongside the lake named Walden, for two years. He was outdone in the stakes of solitude, in a way, by Master Bruno [1030-1101], who survived in his Chartreuse hermitage for six years. But I emerge far ahead of both of them, of course, in that I've been living on my own here at Gamone for 17 years!

Finally, let me get back to the metronome. Whenever my blog metronome stops ticking for more than a few days (as has been the case over the last week), I inevitably receive worried messages, of one kind or another, asking whether I'm still alive. At such times, I get around to wondering whether some people might be more attracted by the regular beats of my metronome than by the actual music of my blog (if I may be excused for claiming pretentiously that the latter is supposed to be present). To paraphrase an Aussie pollie who's famous for his blunt colorful language: Is it possible that these people receive my blog as all tick and no tune?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I've just purchased a fabulous new TopStar swivel chair, made in Germany, for my computer desk. It's a genuine Porsche. I'll have to get used to wearing a crash helmet when I'm blogging.

[Click the image to download the TopStar video on office chairs.]

In a recent e-mail to my Australian expatriate friend Badger in Austria [blog], I informed him that the presence of this new chair in front of the sturdy walnut-and-steel-framed home-designed desk on which my Macintosh resides is likely to bring about spectacular increases in my personal creativity. I told him, too, that my creativity will be enhanced still further by my acquisition of powerful new computer-screen reading glasses of the celebrated Essilor brand, set into my lovely old gold rims.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blog views with a difference

The Blogger guys—like their Google guides (one big family, if I understand correctly)—are masters in the art of looking at things, up-closely, differently.

They've provided us—as I said recently [display]—with a choice of five marvelous "windows" for meeting up with a blog such as mine. You may have noticed that I've put a series of five buttons in the right-hand sidebar, enabling you to inspect the archives of the Antipodes blog through these various views.

What effect will this unexpected approach have upon my intentions of developing some kind of tool making it easy to find stuff in my blog archives? Well, we can think of it as an added incentive. The Google/Blogger folk realize that blog readers would like to have nice access interfaces into the blog world. Their approach is primarily visual. My future approach would be concept-based in a textual sense. But it's still too early to say what exactly I hope to produce. In any case, it's perfectly possible that the smart Google/Blogger guys will develop and announce "my" perfect tool just a little bit before me. This, methinks, is highly likely. Should I complain about such a state of affairs? Of course not. I love those guys.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New ways of looking at Antipodes

WARNING: You'll only be able to appreciate the subject of the present post if you're using a relatively new and powerful browser.

In case you didn't know it already, I must point out that those Google guys (behind the Blogger service, which houses my Antipodes blog) are wizards. Nevertheless, when I started reading the Blogger announcement of this new feature, my initial reaction was that it was surely a nerdy April 1 joke. No, it's all quite real. Enjoy the following different ways of browsing through my blog:






Amazing, no? Retrospectively, I'm glad I've developed the habit of trying to incorporate at least one image into each of my blog posts.

The next step will normally consist of putting some kind of graphic device in the sidebar of my blog so that readers can always choose one of these interesting new presentations. Maybe the Blogger folk will soon propose such devices.

ADDENDUM: To return to the traditional view, you merely use the back arrow of your browser. Incidentally, if your computer is still equipped with an antiquated browser that won't let you see these new views, then maybe it's time to change, say, to Firefox. In saying this, I'm aware, of course, that it might be your entire computer, not just your web browser, that needs to be renewed. These days, the "greens" talk a lot—and rightly so—about so-called sustainable goods. In my opinion, this concept cannot possibly be applied intelligently to computer hardware and software (except, of course, concerning the special question of avoiding the use of undesirable raw materials in the hardware). Obsolete computers can be terribly frustrating. Unlike good wine, they don't become better with age. They're more like cranky old men (no names, please) who end up being totally cantankerous.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My first Mac application

For every new computer platform, programming environment and language that a prospective software developer encounters, this is the time-honored first step:

It doesn't look like much of a world-shaking achievement. However programmers know that, once you've mastered the famous Hello World exercise, the rest is relatively easy. Only dimensions and details change...

My plans have evolved considerably over the last few days. I first became interested in the Apple development environment last year, when I purchased an iPad. Floating around in my mind was the idea of developing a blog reader for Antipodes. Google (owner of the Blogger system) makes available a so-called API (application programming interface) enabling software developers to access directly the actual blog files.

My future software device (whose name I prefer to keep secret for the moment) will make it easy to consult the archives of my blog, containing over 1700 posts. Well, over the last few days, I've decided that it would be a better idea to produce, not an iPad application, but an ordinary Macintosh tool, which could maybe enable users to print out parts of my blog in some kind of book format. Later on, once the basic Macintosh software is fully operational, I could look into the idea of creating an iPad version.

Initially, I intend to develop this tool specifically for my Antipodes blog. But I would soon propose a tailor-made version, for a low price, to any blog owner working with Blogger. This would enable bloggers to send copies of the tool to all their friends with Macs. Meanwhile, if bloggers wish to show their writings to friends and relatives without computers (I believe that such people still exist), they can use the printed-paper solution.

ADDENDUM: Having described my intentions concerning the development of a Mac-based blog reader, I hasten to add that I'm perfectly aware that many bloggers and their readers might find my project ludicrous, in that they see the blog phenomenon as totally ephemeral, on a par with Twitter, and hardly worthy of an archival dimension. I certainly don't see things in this superficial light. On the contrary, I believe that a blog is a serious and interesting autobiographical document, capable of charting the blogger's personal evolution over a period of months and years, at a psychological as well as a practical everyday level. It can function as a timeline of events.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Antipodes is now being fed to Twitter

Today, I decided to start using an excellent service named twitterfeed that systematically feeds all new Antipodes articles to my Twitter account, named Skyvington. So, if you wish to be alerted to new posts, click on the Twitter icon, to follow my tweets.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Four new blogs

For several reasons (both communicational and technical), I've decided to attach blogs to four of my existing websites. These new blogs have the following banners, which I've placed in the right-hand column of the present blog. In fact, all my blogs and websites are linked together in such a way that it's easy to move from one to another.

These are not diary-type blogs, like Antipodes, but rather forums for discussion. In the context of my family-history research, the first two blogs will of course be associated with my genealogical writing. As for the two blogs in French, Choranche is the commune where my Gamone property is located, and Pont-en-Royans is the neighboring village. Concerning these two places, I have been doing extensive local-history research.

In the case of any of these four blogs, I would hope that other individuals might join me as so-called team members, meaning that they can post their own articles in an autonomous fashion. People wishing to accept this proposal should contact me by email.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I'm still standing

In general, I make no attempts to determine who might be reading this blog. It would be an exaggeration, though, to say that I'm writing essentially for myself, because I welcome reactions... for example those of Jannie Funster, this morning, who said she found me through the Leonard Cohen tag in my Blogger profile. I'm sad to realize that those for whom I conceived this Antipodes blog two years ago—my relatives in Australia—have never responded by a single iota of comments. That's their problem, not mine. I'm amused and thrilled to discover that certain readers (my dearest, in fact) have got around to thinking that Antipodes is surely a regular outpouring from William, and that any delays or interruptions in the production of this blog are a sign of alarm. William must be drunk, sick or maybe dead! I like to bear this weight of journalistic responsibility, associated with the concept of a blog. Besides, it's a fact that I feel uncomfortable whenever I realize that I haven't written anything, for a few days, in the Antipodes context.

Often, when I haven't written anything for a few days (generally for legitimate reasons), I've received alarmed reactions from friends. On the other hand, I've never received healthy feedback of the kind that reprimands me for having written bullshit! Now, nice naive folk (like me) might conclude that this means that William has rarely written bullshit. Naturally, I would like to believe this... but I don't.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dream blogging

I was awoken early this morning by an amazing dream, in which I was actually putting together the elements of a blog article: in fact, the one that I'm about to write. I'll describe the dream in a moment. Before that, I need to provide two essential items of information.

First, I happened to talk on the telephone yesterday with Christine concerning my recent article entitled Virtual visit of places of my youth [display]. Although I didn't bring up this aspect of the Google Maps situation in that article, I was surprised that the municipal authorities in Grafton would allow such photos of private homes to be displayed publicly on the web. I haven't got around yet to examining this privacy question in a deeper and wider fashion. For example: Could Google fly around my house at Gamone in a helicopter, taking photos to be displayed on the web? In the interesting phone conversation that I had with Christine on this theme, she made a pertinent general remark. She said that most normal people would dislike the idea of regularly publishing quite personal stuff in a blog such as my Antipodes. The corollary is that an individual such as me is exceptional (in the same way that a porn star, for example, is exceptional) in getting a kick out of parading himself in public, as I do, by means of a personal blog.

The second item of pertinent background information is that, before falling asleep last night, I was engaged in thinking (as is often the case these days) about the related subjects of genealogy and genetics. Before switching off my computer, I even stuck up a piece of cardboard in front of the screen containing the enigmatic expression "no hurry", and an arrow pointing to the title of the autobiographical stuff I'm writing. This was intended as a reminder of an essential revelation that struck me last night (but not for the first time): namely, the gigantic periods of time taken by Darwinian evolution to forge us into the animals that we are today. Indeed, evolution has never been in a hurry.

In my dream, I was wandering around, a little lost, inside a giant ultra-modern passenger liner. I was particularly impressed by the fact that even the form of handrails on the staircases between the various decks had evolved, through technological progress, in such a way that it was now impossible to lose one's grip and fall down the stairs. I found myself guiding a woman with a baby. In one of the lower decks, I was pleased to be able to lead her to a big room that was fully equipped with all kinds of modern installations for baby care. This was no doubt an evocation of a sea voyage between France and Australia with my wife and baby daughter.

The scene then shifted to the Paris métro, where I needed to consult a métro map in order to find my way. This was surely an evocation of my use of Google Maps to visit my birth place in Australia... along with the fact that I've been using this tool a lot lately to obtain an idea of the mill town of Walton-le-Dale in Lancashire, where my O'Keefe and Dixon ancestors worked before immigrating to New South Wales. Curiously, in my dream, all the maps that I found on the walls of the Paris métro were in fact distorted and abridged maps of Australia! I couldn't understand why this should be the case, but I had the impression that it was some kind of complicated marketing affair of a touristic nature.

Then I suddenly found myself producing personal genealogical charts for a blog article that was designed to indicate why indeed I was "condemned" by my genetic makeup to be the kind of individual who takes pleasure in talking about himself in a blog. In an amazingly detailed fashion, I was convinced that I knew the precise nature and origin of the circumstances that had transformed me into such an individual. Let me describe the situation, exactly as it appeared to me in my dream.

— On my paternal side, I felt that I was born with a chromosome containing a "bookkeeping" gene, which caused me to have an obsessive desire to record everything that was happening around me. Although I had tended to forget this aspect of my grandfather and father, I realize that I was impressed by their very real bookkeeping skills and habits. Besides, it was my grandfather who introduced me to the use of a manual typewriter. Later on, one of the earliest software devices I developed on the Macintosh was bookkeeping software for my personal bank account, which I named Le Compte est Bon [the accounting figures are correct]. Obviously, it's a short step from bookkeeping to obsessional blogging. In my dream, I was convinced that neither my brothers nor my three sisters possessed this paternal chromosome containing the "bookkeeping" gene.

— On my maternal side, I had inherited a chromosome containing a "talkative" gene, which made me wish to tell stories constantly and publicly about myself and my life. The origin of this chromosome with its "gift of the gab" gene was the Irish convict Patrick Hickey, and it came down to me through his daughter Ann, her son and her grandson, both named Charles Walker, and finally my mother Kathleen Walker. Once again, I felt that there were prominent cases (such as my mother's sister, and probably my own brother and sisters) in which this chromosome had not been passed on to descendants.

— Here I come to one of the surprising technical aspects of my dream. My obsessional passion for blogging was a direct consequence of neither my "bookkeeping" gene, on its own, nor even my "talkative" gene, on its own, but of the mutual interaction of each gene upon the other. In other words, to become an obsessive blogger, I needed to possess both genes, each of which reached me autonomously in a distinct chromosome.

Last but not least, in my dream, I realized that I would need to make it clear, in my blog article on this subject, that the two genes, left to their own resources, would have never transformed me into an obsessional blogger were it not for the computing context in which I had been nurtured as an adolescent, from the age of 17.

So, there you have it. I've just written the blog, exactly as it was dictated to me in this morning's dream.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New blog

For a long time, I've been aware of the fact that my Antipodes blog is a relatively personal affair, which tackles a broad and heterogeneous range of topics, often in an undisciplined style. The Antipodean notion is bipolar. For Europeans, the Antipodes is Australia and New Zealand. For an Australian like me, when I was a youth, my exciting vision of the Antipodes was an unknown land named France on the other side of the planet Earth. In my blog, no doubt, there are traces of these two complementary attitudes. If so, I would like it to stay that way.

On the other hand, I've often been tempted to concentrate on a more precise objective: namely, an English-language presentation of various French themes in domains such as politics, culture, science and technology, sport, etc. So, I've finally decided to launch a second blog, with that aim in mind.
[Click the banner to access a prototype version of the new blog.]

The web address of this new blog is

Normally, my articles should be more objective and less personal than those in Antipodes. Also, the rhythm will be considerably slower: maybe a new article every three or four days. You won't, of course, find anything in this new blog about Gamone, Sophia, my donkeys Moshé and Mandrin, my billy-goat Gavroche, Richard Dawkins, etc. And there probably won't be many references to my native land, Australia.

For readers who might be interested in this kind of French-oriented blog, I beg you to be patient. For the moment, I'm trying to master the new software tool, called WordPress, which is a total do-it-yourself thing. So, I'll need some time to get accustomed to this new challenge that I've set myself.


I've made a Blogger-based version of this new blog at

Between the WordPress and Blogger versions, which is better? As far as I'm concerned, it was a thrill to build my own WordPress system, but I suspect it's more efficient and rapid to stick to the Blogger environment. I'll have to think about it...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Blogging is good for you

In the latest issue of my favorite magazine, Scientific American, there's a brilliant one-page article by a New York freelance writer named Jessica Wapner on the therapeutic value of blogging. She starts by declaring that "self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off ". In a nutshell, we bloggers seek to take advantage of "the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings ".

Jessica suggests that creative writing in general, and blogging in particular, provide physiological benefits of many kinds... involving appetite for food and sex, and even cancer treatment!

[If only Nicolas Sarkozy were to read Antipodes, if not Scientific American, I'm sure he would promptly "invent" the idea that blogging expenses should be reimbursed by France's splendid health system.]

Jessica quotes a Harvard neuroscientist named Alice Flaherty who provides us with a word that we bloggers should paint in large letters on the wall above our computer: hypergraphia, designating an uncontrollable urge to write. Maybe it's a viral affliction. Personally, I see it as a genetic thing. You're born with this psychosis, and you simply have to learn to live with it... but it seems to get worse with age.

Gee, I feel so much better since writing the above stuff. I only hope that my words don't sicken any disgruntled readers...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Old blog articles

Within the concept of blogs, there are weaknesses.

— In particular, while it's relatively easy to see what the blogger has just said recently, it's harder to follow him back in time. For example, if the author of a typical blog such Antipodes wre to talk today about a heroic person such as George W Bush, readers throughout the planet might cry out for specimens of the way that blog author spoke of this same hero in the past. How has the adoration of Bush aficionados evolved from one Iraqi event to another, from one catastrophe to the next?

— Another problem. Blog readers don't necessarily realize that there might be interesting discussions going on in the recent past between the blog author and commentators.

I am currently working on a possible solution to the first problem: an adjacent Flash website that would enable visitors to explore easily the archives of a blog author. Naturally, I'll talk more about my project as soon as it materializes.

Concerning the second weakness, there's no better solution than the duplication of all that occurred. My article entitled Fragile existence [display] provoked a reaction from a certain Anne Skye:

If this does not convince you of "His" existence, then nothing will, dear Bro. Next time you have a bug in your blog, try NOT doing the Hail Mary's and see what happens. Just kidding, you can't apply double blind control trials or any sort to the existence of "God", 'cos it's all a matter of a quantum leap of faith. But... I still can't help thinking, when I read your powerfully moving story, how "He" moves in such mysterious ways!

I replied as follows:

Anne Skye: I was relieved when you corrected instantly the suggestion that we humans can verify the effectiveness of Hail Marys by performing two tests upon identical situations, one with Hail Marys, and one without. The stumbling block, of course, is the concept of "identical situations". As Heraclitus said: "You cannot step twice into the same river, for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you." And he sums up his vision of constant flux with one of the most profound and lovely declarations ever made by a mortal: "The sun is new every day." Between the initial test, with Hail Marys, and the following one, without Hail Marys, time has passed, and the world is no longer the same place. Even God has grown a little older. To put it roughly, He's no longer the same man He was a little earlier on. Has He grown wiser? Or has He maybe shown the very first symptoms of some kind of divine Alzheimer's? Has He simply changed His mind, for reasons that are known only to Him? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that God no longer repaired computer bugs of any kind, for moral and business reasons, because He realized that His interventions of this nature were unfair competition with respect to human specialists who depend upon fixing computer bugs to buy bread and shoes for their poor children. So, I see no way of testing the Hail Mary solution in a sound scientific style.

Now, your metaphor of a "quantum leap of faith" is another kettle of fish. I hasten to add that I would be disappointed to learn that you were using the expression "quantum leap" merely as a synonym for "big"... which it isn't, since quantum leaps are infinitesimally small, between one shell of orbiting electrons and a neighboring one, either up or down. Within the context of David Deutsch's fascinating conception of parallel universes, founded largely upon a certain way of interpreting quantum physics, it's perfectly conceivable that an individual's decision to have faith in God could be the outcome of a certain quantum value. [Don't get me wrong. I'm talking merely of an individual's having or not having faith in God. I'm certainly not talking of the hypothetical existence of God.]

Finally, you evoke the sentiment that our Cosmos behaves "in mysterious ways". I couldn't agree more with you. For a long time, up until the arrival of quantum theory, the scientific outlook on things was rigorous, logical, austere, Cartesian, cold, calculating, etc. In a nutshell, relatively simple for an agile mind, but as boring as hell. Then quantum theory upset the old Newtonian apple cart. Quantum theory is so extraordinarily bewildering that I wonder constantly whether I've truly understood the first word of it. Be that as it may, overnight, science became a synonym for Lewis Carroll's wonderland, since it encouraged us to explore the weird nature of things as they are seen through the looking-glass provided by intellectual tools of a new kind. Today, the challenge of scientific researchers, scholars and thinkers who wield these new tools consists of attaining what they often refer to as the theory of everything, referred to by the acronym TOE. I consider your "quantum leap of faith" as nothing more than the use of slightly different letters: GOD. But there's a significant detail: Those who talk today about TOE know what they're talking about...

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.

Friday, November 23, 2007

New address

One of the reasons why I wanted to terminate my current Antipodes blog yesterday concerns a technical question. Up until now, my blog has been housed physically in a webspace that I obtained from the French ISP [Internet service provider] named Free. And the address of the blog has been

Since I wasn't happy with this solution [for various technical reasons], I decided that I would adopt a better approach offered by Google, which consists of using their so-called Blogspot webspace. But, in making this change, resulting in a completely new address for the future blog, I imagined vaguely that the old blog might cease to exist. So, I acted in yesterday's article as if the existing Antipodes blog were being terminated. Now, the address of the new blog is

That's all I can say for the moment, since this is my very first article in the new webspace, and I still have no idea whether the articles I've written over the last year will remain accessible or not.

PS Since writing that last paragraph, I've found reassuring positive answers to all my doubts. I discover retrospectively that there was no need for me to talk yesterday about terminating the old Antipodes blog. Apparently the change to the new webspace has worked seamlessly, and I've even been able to insert the new address into the top of the Antipodes curtain article as it's displayed in the old webspace. So, normally, my existing readers should be able to find their way to the new address. Thanks Google!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another iPhoney display of Antipodes

I'm impatient to discover whether or not Antipodes will be readable, in reality, on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Readers may have noticed that, in yesterday's article concerning the restoration of the façade at Gamone, I employed the same display technique that I used in my son's photo website [display]. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in my earlier iPhoney article [display], it will not be possible to exploit this Flash-based display technique on the iPhone or the iPod Touch.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I've just been looking back over recent articles on famous females:

Christine Lagarde
Powerful French woman [display]

Hillary Clinton
US presidential campaign [display]

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet
Same name as Australian mountain [display]

Anne Lauvergeon
Nice TV spot [display]

Ségolène Royal
Simple direct talk [display]

Jelena Jankovic
Tennistic Amazons [display]

Laure Manaudou
Beauty and the beast [display]

Tzipi Livni
Time for Tzipi? [display]

A psychoanalyst, observing the way in which I've selected and talked about these women, might be tempted to come up with interesting ideas (?) concerning my general attitude towards the female sex. It's a fact that the eight above-mentioned women appear to share common attributes. They're all powerful individuals in their chosen domain. Nothing to do with the wishy-washy notion of females as passive creatures prepared to be dominated by males. Maybe our psychoanalyst might believe in the paraphrase of a familiar dictum: Show me the women who fascinate you, and I'll tell you who you are.

Be that as it may, I must point out that, with one exception, these are not in fact the kind of ladies whom I would be tempted to invite along to Gamone for an extended weekend. [I can hear Bill Clinton heaving a sigh of relief... not to mention Hillary herself.] The fact is that I've always admired women who are capable of acting like men, but this admiration doesn't mean that such females attract me in a more global sense. I remember precisely the moment in my existence when this admiration first manifested itself. I had just married Christine, in 1965, and I was working as a technical translator with a big company named CSF, located near the Place de la Porte de Saint-Cloud in the chic quarters of Paris. There, my boss was an elegant lady with a training in technology. I had never before encountered such a phenomenon. Normally, in places where I had worked previously (mainly at IBM, in Sydney, Paris and London), creatures of that soft and superficially fragile kind were employed as secretaries, prepared at all times to obey their male superiors. But here was a lovely lady with a mind of her own. Besides, she was theoretically my boss... except that she didn't know enough English to intervene in any way in my work.

My work? Among other things, I used to write the English-language speeches of the CEO [chief executive officer] of that multinational company. In doing so, I had my first experience of getting paid to be a lapdog... not with respect to the lovely lady, unfortunately, but for the CEO. I would slip tiny excuses into his speeches, such as: "Excuse me for speaking English in such an atrocious fashion. Please understand that my management activities leave me with little time to improve my knowledge of Shakespeare's language." The guy got a great ego-thrill out of reciting such words, in perfect English, at the start of his speech. So, I was already a kind of gigolo. For the wrong boss.