Monthly Archives for March 2007

A little election coverage (In French, sorry)

For you non-French speaking folk, you can check out my Elections for Dummies post on the upcoming French elections.

À lire, les derniers propos, particulièrement alarmants et répugnants de Sarkozy, et la stratégie qui les motive sans doute, selon Guy Birenbaum.

Mise à jour: Les même propos, plus détaillés, sur le blog Coulisses de Bruxelles de Libé.

Les incidents de la Gare du Nord sont bien évidemment passés par là.

À ce sujet, je vous recommande chaudement le dernier billet de Judith Bernard sur le BigBangBlog. J’adore ce qu’elle écrit, et comment elle l’écrit.

We now return you to your regular programming.

31. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Surfin' | Leave a comment

Red Interactive Agency

Check out the Red Interactive Agency site.

You are assigned an avatar, which you can then control with the keyboard, and you/it can then explore a strange landscape and interact with other users/avatars currently visiting the site.

Beautifully done, both graphically and technically. Whimsical and fun.

30. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Surfin' | Leave a comment

SoundClick artist: Remote Possibility

I don’t usually plug bands on sknoblog, but I have to make an exception for Remote Possibility!

If you go to their music page on SoundClick, you might recognize a few Sons of Sarookh songs that I’ve mentioned before on sknoblog.

But I’m really glad to report that they have posted three new songs that I urge you to listen to, download, and share (see below).

It is also worth noting that the song “lyrics/story” links give us keen insight into Remote Possibility’s creative processes. I hope they won’t mind if I quote some of this info here:

About Can’t Wait

Icepac and Sknoblogger were on vacation in Cyprus. They were on the beach, picking up cigarette butts (which they would later re-roll into new cigarettes to sell to other tourists, claiming they were the finest cigarettes in the world). Renz Marion recognized them from the covers of their CDs in the discount bins. He proposed they collaborate, and this is the result. They recorded Renz vocals right there on the beach, you can hear the sound of the surf on his parts.

About Shevilla Lobole

Icepac and Sknoblogger got a job pet sitting. They were at Gene Simmons house, taking care of his cat, Hector (named for the famous composer Heitor Villa-Lobos) when Big Baby and Dog Boy broke in and beat them senseless with socks filled with guitar picks. They were employed by Shevilla Lobole, a wealthy, wicked woman who was planning to make a fir coat out of the skins of rock stars cats (she had told Big Baby and Dog Boy that Gene Simmons was going to sacrifice the cat to Satan). Eventually they got it all worked out, rescued the cat, and the four of them wrote this song about nasty Shevilla Lobole.

About Mystery Snack

I was planning to eat something that was in a Tupperware container that had been sitting in the back of the fridge for some time, perhaps since the previous tenants had lived there. Or perhaps the ones that preceded them. At any rate, when I poked it with a fork, it shuddered violently, then leaped into the air, straight at my face. It wrapped itself tightly, violently around my mouth and nose, and I believe that would have been the end of me, had not Sknoblogger been passing my room on his way to a gig. He heard my frantic, muffled cries for help, and kicked the door in, and furiously pummeled the wrathful foodstuff into submission with his saxophone. I lost a couple of teeth in the process, and my nose was broken, but it was a small price to pay. I owe him my life.

I sincerely hope they receive the attention they deserve, and achieve fame and fortune, even though that is obviously a remote possibility.

Highly recommended!

28. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Making Music, Songs | Leave a comment

Chanson française, suite, suite

Il y a six mois, j’ai inscrit des chansons françaises sur Dogmazic (ex-musique-libre.org), un site de musique français, pour voir.

Je suis ravi de constater qu’à ce jour, ces 7 chansons ont été écoutées plus de 3000 fois et téléchargées plus de 700 fois. “Maîtresses” est toujours en tête, toujours suivi par s’assoupir, qui continue toutefois à générer le plus d’insultes. Après “horrible”, la dernière en date est “immonde”.

******

Six months ago, I posted some French songs to Dogmazic (ex-musique-libre.org), a French music portal, to see what would happen.

I’m pleased to report that these 7 songs were streamed over 3000 times and were downloaded over 700 times. “Maîtresses” continues to lead the pack, still followed by s’assoupir, which continues to generate the most insults (after a couple of “horribles” the latest one is “vile”).

21. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Making Music | Leave a comment

Geeks In Love, On the Road and Naked

There was no episode this week.

I draw Geeks In Love “in real time” and it so happens that I was abroad (in Cologne, Germany) these last few days.

I did post an official apology that you might enjoy though.

20. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Making Geeks In Love | Leave a comment

NO QUARTER: Fox News Gallery

NO QUARTER: FOX NEWS, Crazy Right Wing Propaganda contains dozens of screenshots that truly boggle the mind.

The one pictured above made me laugh. Most of the others definitely didn’t.

Who needs reality, especially when it contradicts your point of view?

13. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Blowin' off steam, Surfin' | Leave a comment

Logos with a meaning | creativebits

Check out Logos with a meaning on creativebits.

An interesting post on some clever logos, which holds a couple of surprises concerning two very well-known logos (the first one and the last one in the article). I don’t know about you, but these “subtleties” had totally escaped me.

13. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Surfin', User Interface Design | Leave a comment

A Few Pearls of Wisdom from Kurt Vonnegut

Let’s take a break from the crazy, fundamentalist Jesus-fascists and those who shamefully tolerate them (out of indifference or some strange reluctance to challenge anything having to do with religion, even in the case of religion gone wild).

There are (or used to be) illustrious American artists and original thinkers around. For instance, Kurt Vonnegut spoke publicly recently in Ohio. Read Kurt Vonnegut’s “Stardust Memory” for the highlights…

It’s sad to think that this type of clairvoyance is going underground, if not extinct…

09. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Blowin' off steam, Surfin' | Leave a comment

The Woof Commences Now

So Microsoft is said to have a half-billion dollar budget to advertise its new Windows Vista operating system.

And they came up with the following, inspiring slogan: “The Wow Starts Now”, next to the new, rounded Windows “Start” button.

Umm, OK.

I couldn’t help remembering that when the first iMac came out, you know, the blue, bubble-shaped original iMac, that’s what Apple used on its Web site: A nice picture of the UFO-like iMac, and the word Wow.

Either it’s a coincidence (the original iMac came out in 1998), or the lucky ad agency is making a comfortable profit.

Besides, the iMac was a true departure from the status quo. It wasn’t beige, it wasn’t rectangular, it didn’t even have a floppy-disk drive for god’s sake!

Vista, on the other hand, brings you a brand new shiny, over-the-top graphical user-interface, Aero (a bad-taste copy of Apple’s Mac OS X graphical user-interface, Aqua) but not much else. It requires a recent PC (or Mac), and has some embarrassing compatibility problems (like not being able to run Microsoft’s own XP help files).

It was supposed to be a radically new OS under the hood, but after several years of delays, all the revolutionary under-the-hood stuff was jettisoned. It may be better than Windows XP, but that’s not saying much. And in some ways, it’s worse. Much worse.

Anyway, let me get to the point. the other day, strolling by the PC City store in my (Parisian) neighborhood, I noticed a French version of the slogan on a big Vista poster.

They translated “Wow” into “Wouah”. “Wow” doesn’t exist in French, so they came up with a bad phonetic equivalent which is hard to parse. Remove the leading “W” and you get “Ouah”, the French translation of “Woof”, the barking of a dog.

And they translated the rest of the slogan, to “L’expérience ‘Wouah’ commence maintenant. Now, that “commence” is an unfortunate choice, because the Windows “Start” button is labeled “Démarrer” in the French version of Windows, and not “Commencer”.

To be fair, most Ad agencies use Macs, so maybe they failed to catch the reference, and went with what sounded good. But what about Microsoft France? Didn’t they notice?

Or maybe I’m reading too much into the use of the word “Start”. Maybe the reference to the Start button was unintentional in the English version, in which case the French version is fine.

It’s just that I would have thought that half a Billion dollars would at least buy you a pun.

08. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Geekiness, Lost in translation, Surfin', User Interface Design | Leave a comment

Elections for Dummies (élections, piège à cons ?)

So, the election campaign is in full swing. No, not in the US, in France.

The first round is on April 22, of this year, and the second round is two weeks after that (yes, we always vote on Sundays. Further evidence that the French are godless, satan worshippers?)

France’s politicians distinguish themselves by their incredible longevity. Once in power, they tend to stay there, for decades.

This time, no matter what (assuming the fascist and ancient Le Pen can’t win the second round, even if he makes it past the first), this year’s elections will propel a new generation to power.

In all of the recent elections, the French have systematically voted against the grain (think the No vote to the proposed EU constitutional treaty that was backed by pretty much every party).

Yes, true to their reputation, the French are a rebellious and demanding bunch who say they crave real change, and they have rarely passed up an opportunity to express their revolutionary leanings.

So you would think the French would be excited and grateful to have a “new generation” of politicians to choose from:

  • Nicolas Sarkozy, of the mainstream right, a highly ambitious and driven candidate who survived Chirac’s repeated attempts to derail his candidacy (even though they are both in the same party). Polls show him at 25 to 30% in the first round.
  • Ségolène Royal, of the mainstream left, who created a sensation when she won her party’s nomination, by bypassing traditional party dogma and taking her message directly to the people, dashing the dreams of a whole line-up of “natural” socialist candidates. Polls show her at 25 to 30% in the first round.

But this is where the paradox raises it’s ironic head.

You see, Sarkozy’s policies in the outgoing government have been very criticized, and one can reasonably argue that his words helped spark the riots that rocked the “banlieues” in November 2005. Many feel he is too pro-American, and that he might have joined other European right-wing governments in the coalition of the willing had he been president at the time. He’s to the right of his predecessors on many issues. Basically, he scares the shit out of many voters. In other words, he is very divisive.

And Royal, well, she’s a woman. A lot of voters are worried about her ability to govern, in large part because of that undeniable fact. The intelligentsia (the media, many intellectuals, the parties, including her own) also resent her “populism”. Indeed, she built her platform after organizing over 5000 “participative debates” to hear what ordinary citizens had to say. This is a crime of “lèse-majesté”, in a country that is used to being governed from the top-down by authoritative, paternal figures who know what’s best for the people (like in the old days of the monarchy).

So what the polls are showing, is that the rebellious, revolutionary-minded French, who’ve been clamoring for a changing of the guard for years and years, are worried, because the new guard, is, well, new.

Both candidates are “anxiogène” is how it is often stated (anxiety-inducing).

Which is certainly one of the reasons that François Bayrou, of a small centrist party, is climbing in the polls. He got about 7% of the vote in the last presidential election, but he’s at 18 to 20% in the polls today. Even though he’s nearly always voted with the right (in parliament), he’s getting support from the left by saying that the old left-right split is passé and counter-productive, and that he’ll govern with willing right-wingers and socialists if he’s elected. He promises an imaginary future where left and right work together in harmony for the good of the country (not gonna happen in France, where arguing is the national pastime). He has modest origins. He used to be a stutterer. He has a reassuring personality.

You might say he represents a kinder, gentler protest vote (compared to Le Pen).

So maybe there is no paradox. Voting for Bayrou would certainly be going against the grain. Yet by siphoning off votes from Sarkozy and Royal, he might set the stage for another scary election in which Le Pen would once again make it to the second round.

Because if things stay the way they are now, there will be four candidates in the 20% range: Sarkozy, Royal, Bayrou, Le Pen. And it could be close, so who knows who the 2 front-runners might be. If Bayrou weren’t so high in the polls, there is little doubt that we would have a Sarkozy-Royal duel in the second round.

There’s still some suspense, because Bayrou’s electorate is very volatile. And as usual, Le Pen claims that he is the subject of an evil plot to stop him from obtaining the 500 signatures of elected officials, needed to be candidate. It is true that this time, the signatures are public, so it’s a little tricker, because not everyone wants to be seen supporting a racist pig. If he didn’t get his signatures, that would change everything, and who knows who would make it to the 2nd round. But while some disagree, I believe Le Pen will get his signatures (the deadline is March 16th).

There you have it. A little tour of the French presidential elections as of today. There are many other potential candidates, but they are not doing so well this time around.

I’d be hard pressed to make a prediction. Le Pen can’t win in the second round, even if he is facing Sarkozy. Bayrou will surely win if he makes it to the second round, no matter who his oppenent might be: if he’s running against Sarkozy, the left will vote for him, and if he’s going against Royal, Sarkozy’s voters will vote for him. If it’s Ségo vs. Sarko, it could go either way, although the polls give Sarko the edge. So there’s a real possibility that the left will vote for Bayrou in the first round, just because it increases the odds of beating Sarkozy…

Personally, I’m rooting for Ségolène Royal. And not only because I don’t want Le Pen to make it to the second round again. And not only because I don’t like or trust Sarkozy, the corporate stooge candidate, the incumbent who pretends he wasn’t an important minister of the current government these last few years. And not only because I think the Bayrou vote is a wimpy cop-out and a de facto vote for the right. And not only because I would love to have a hot-looking woman Présidente representing me, and gracing my TV screen every day.

07. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Blowin' off steam | Leave a comment

BBC NEWS | Israel, Iran top ‘negative list’

From BBC NEWS, Israel, Iran top ‘negative list’.

From the article:

A majority of people believe that Israel and Iran have a mainly negative influence in the world, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests.

It shows that the two countries are closely followed by the United States and North Korea.

The poll asked 28,000 people in 27 countries to rate a dozen countries plus the EU in terms of whether they have a positive or negative influence.

Canada, Japan and the EU are viewed most positively in the survey.

Yes, the U.S. gets the bronze, beating North Korea to the podium in the “negative influence” category. Good job.

The article has a link to the detailed study, with a breakdown by country. Here are some tidbits regarding US-French relations:

France continues to be viewed quite positively by the rest of the world, though less positively than two years ago. The only country to not view France’s influence positively was Turkey, while the United States was divided. On average, 50 percent see France as having a positive influence in the world (21% negative).

American views have also notably improved. Americans’ negative ratings of France continue to drift downward from 52 percent in 2005, to 48 percent in 2006 and 41
percent in 2007. For the first time in three years views are now roughly divided (38% positive, 41% negative).

Worldviews of the United States continue to worsen, with most countries having a largely negative view of the US. Across all 27 countries polled (excluding the US
self-evaluation), half (51%) now say the US is playing a mainly negative role in the world.

Additionally, the number of American respondents who believe the United States is having a positive influence in the world has also decreased six points, from 63% to
57%, and has dropped a total of fourteen points (from 71%) from 2005.

06. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Surfin' | 1 comment

Falwell Says Global Warming Tool of Satan

Ethics Daily reports that Falwell Says Global Warming Tool of Satan.

No, he’s not saying that Satan is causing global warming to spite us measly mortals.

Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, who has worked for decades to involve conservative Christians in politics, said Sunday the debate over global warming is a tool of Satan being used to distract churches from their primary focus of preaching the gospel.

“If I decide here as the pastor and our deacons decide that we’re going to get caught up in the global warming thing, we’re not going to be able to reach the masses of souls for Christ, because our attention will be elsewhere, ” Falwell said in Sunday’s sermon at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. “That’s pretty wise for Satan to concoct.”

I don’t know what these guys are smoking, but it seems like its powerful stuff.

06. March 2007 by sknob
Destination: Blowin' off steam, Surfin' | Leave a comment

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