Monday, January 16, 2017

Pédaler dans le yaourt

J'adore cette idée d'un énorme bassin de Danone dans lequel un vélo se déplace, ou un home-trainer tourne... peu importe. Mais revenons à mes moutons (qui ont abandonné Gamone il y a longtemps).

• Un chasse-neige est conçu pour chasser la neige, pas pour rester dans son hangar à la mairie.

• Un téléphone portable est conçu pour téléphoner et être porté d'un endroit X à Y... mais pas forcément dans les rues de Paris ou sur les routes de l'Isère.

• Un célèbre astrophysicien [comme Hubert Reeves, par exemple] dévrait s'occuper surtout des étoiles, pluôt que du parc présidentiel.

Ces choses-là me semblent être du domaine du bon sens... mais je tombe parfois sur de grands amis qui ne partagent pas nécessairement mon idée de ce qu'est le bon sens. Moi y en a pas comprendre.

Libération libère son flot de métaphores

Et moi aussi, du coup. Les journalistes paresseux ont parfois besoin d’exploiter à la nausée [autre métaphore] ce que l’on désigne en anglais par un terme français : les clichés. Ils doivent penser ensuite que les gens qui ne les comprennent pas seraient tout simplement des étrangers peu cultivés. Voici une liste des ce que je viens de récolter sur la page Libé de l’Internet ce matin :

Coulisses du débat
On est tout de même ur un plateau de télé, pas au théâtre.

la bonne adrénaline
On ne mesure pas réellement la physiologie des candidats.

Manuel Vals, cœur de cible
On ne considère pas sérieusement l’ancien chef comme du gibier.

Rugy tire son épingle du jeu
Les candidats ne sont pas vraient en train de tirer des épingles.

Les chauffeurs veulent passer par-dessus la tête d’Uber
Pour comprendre quoi que ce soit, le lecteur est obligé de connaitre les lettres VTC.

A mon avis, ce type de journalisme, poussé au ridicule, est inadmissible.

Chomsky in "Greatest story ever told"

It's nice to discover, according to Noam Chomsky, that Nature has always been behaving along the same lines as today's Platonists. That makes me feel real good... and grateful to John Anderson at the Philosophy Department of Sydney University who made me a Platonist when I was 16 years old. I'm impatient to receive the Krauss book.

If you click here, you'll see that I've never been particularly enthusiastic about the antiquated professor of philosophy at Sydney... but he was quite good when he stuck to basic Plato and Socrates. Hopeless when he dared to tackle Aristotle in general and logic in particular.

Google delivery : Drones versus balloons?

In this issue, Google seems to have adopted its preferred side. After several years of exhaustive tests, Google appears to have abandoned the idea of using drones to deliver Internet services. Google's Alphabet division has been studying the possibility of using drones powered by solar panels. In 2014, Google purchased the company Titan Aerospace to start looking for solutions to their challenge. They've finally decided to replace drones by hot-air balloons, known in French as montgolfières.

The revised project is named Loon. Balloons will travel at an altitude of some 20 km, and each one will cover a territory of about 40 km.

For the moment, Google doesn't appear to have answered satisfactorily the question of avoiding collisions with other aircraft. A commercial airliner would look so silly if it reached its destination covered in Google packages. The situation would be far worse than silly if if the jet's engines were clogged up with torn strips of a hot-air balloon.

Friday, January 13, 2017

We’re a family of self-made men

Skyvington males have always been do-it-yourself champions. I’m convinced that this is a genetic feature of our nature. Back at the time they were cavemen, each Skyvington fellow surely made a point of ensuring that his family occupied an impeccable dwelling, full of all the latest stone gadgets.

Our do-it-yourself behavior was transmitted from fathers to sons, and still is. As for daughters, I’m not sure. But this might well be the case.

There’s a problem, though. In today’s world, it’s becoming more and more difficult to carry on behaving like a do-it-yourself Stone-Age person. Many everyday activities can only be handled efficiently and successfully by teams of experienced people. Otherwise, Barney Flintstone is certain to run into trouble. In fact, troubles of that kind have revealed to me my amazing Stone-Age mentality and behavior.

Before going on, I must say that I’m slightly worried to be publishing this coming-out on Friday 13. Up until midnight, I’ll be afraid to step outside, for fear that a rock might tumble down on me from the slopes up behind Gamone, and squash me into food for the wild beasts.

My grandfather and my father were both pure specimens of Stone-Age self-made do-it-yourself men. They transmitted this style of existence to me, and I’ve passed it on to my son. I could literally write a book about typical events in the existence of those four males. Here are a few random examples:

Pop (my grandfather), an only son born in London, decided as a boy to board a ship and take off to a sunny but harsh land in the Antipodes, where he settled down, built up business activities and raised a tiny family. (We Flintstones have never been big-family people… since a tribe of kids would make it difficult for us to carry on building our do-it-yourself environment.)

Bill (my father), an only son born in Queensland, decided as a young man to drop the automobile existence his father had prepared for him, and invent a new existence as a cattle grazier in the bush.

• As for me, born in NSW, I decided as a young man to avoid any life-style that my father might have imagined for me. I made Pop’s return trip to the other side of the planet. Finally, in typical Flintstone style, I settled down in an ancient stone house in the wilderness of the Vercors. My do-it-yourself genes were then called upon to build all kinds of things in and around the dwelling... which I now share with a Stone-Age dog named Fitzroy.

Chino (my only son), born in France, decided as a young man to drop any kind of scholarly existence that his father might have imagined for him, and to invent a new existence. His do-it-yourself genes encouraged him to build a delightful house on the cliff tops of Brittany where he now lives like a solitary Flintstone. An observer, examining our residences in Gamone and Kerouziel, might conclude that they’ve been brought into existence according to similar principles, but independently, by a father and a son.

Today, I’m intrigued (but not unduly troubled) to discover that my Flintstone do-it-yourself lifestyle is falling apart at the seams, because there are limits to what a caveman can accomplish all on his own. Yesterday, just to give readers an example, I installed a charming steel fence in front of my stone house, to keep out mountain lions and wild elephants (remnants of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps). Unfortunately, nobody had ever informed the Gamone caveman that pure steel chains weigh as much as a dead mammoth, making them quite unsuitable for ordinary people. A female member of another tribe, Martine, has just informed me (using her modern telephonic system) that she likes the look of the enclosure. She believes that her muscles have been toughened up through trudging around constantly on the mountainous slopes to deliver messages to outlying tribes. So, she thinks she might even be strong enough to move the chains. We'll see.

Click photos to enlarge them.

In a Flintstone universe such as Gamone, many things in the modern world remain total mysteries to a caveman such as me. For example, nobody has ever told me how to use a common gadget such as the mobile phone... which I still tend to call, in Cave Talk, a portable telephone. I've often observed people in cities staring lovingly at such devices, and using their thumbs to click at them (as I saw Najat Belkacem doing yesterday evening). Those are operations I've never once tried to master in my existence. I'm even told there's a language called Texto, which remains as unknown to a caveman as Mandarin.

I imagine that some readers who don't know me might imagine that I've often been joking in this article. Less than they think...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

William’s Law of Assholes

Assholes tend to attract similar assholes.

I discovered this law many years ago, when there were not too many of them around. Now that the entire universe seems to be teeming with assholes, my law has become extremely useful. On urban footpaths, my law can help innocent people from stepping inadvertently into a smelly pile of assholes.

I was reminded of my law when I noticed in the French press that our Extreme-Right leader Marine Le Pen, visiting the USA, had dropped in at a famous place. Where? The White House, to bid farewell to Barack Obama? Like bloody hell. She called in at Trump Tower… but the boss was not there to receive her. Too bad. How sad.

La science n'est pas une passion du peuple

Les gens aiment penser qu'ils savent grosso modo ce qu'est la science, et que c'est une activité importante qu'il faut respecter dans nos sociétés modernes. Quand on gratte un peu la surface de leur respect, la vérité est pourtant navrante. Primo, ils confondent souvent la science avec leurs cours de lycée en blouse blanche, la tête d'Einstein, la technologie, ou pire la bombe atomique. Secundo, quand ils doivent choisir entre une soirée de télé scientifique extraordinaire et des émissions sans grand intérêt, leurs choix laissent la science en queue de peleton. Par exemple, hier soir :
• France 2,  Mystère à la Tour Eiffel 4 millions de téléspectateurs (16,4%)

• TF1,  New York Unité Spéciale 3,6 millions (15,6%).

• M6, Maison à vendre 3,4 millions (14,7%)

• W9,  Enquêtes criminelles 914.000 (4,1%)
Pendant que la plupart des concitoyens regardaient toutes ces émissions assez ordinaires, je me suis offert un festin scientifique sur France 5 dans la série Science Grand Format. Mais étant donné que les média et les magazines en France parlent peu de ces excellentes émissions, je ne sais pas grand-chose sur leur conception.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pas très catholique

J'apprends qu'il est rare dans le royaume des bêtes qu'un individu fornique avec un étranger, c'est-à-dite avec un animal d'une autre famille biologique. Voilà pourquoi les images suivantes sont rares :

Cliquez pour agrandir

« Je ne vois pas où est le problème » dit le macaque. « Je ne crois pas que je risque de la blesser. Ça passe comme une lettre à la poste. »

Pourquoi Pascal a-t-il toujours la mine triste ?

Toutes les représentations de Blaise Pascal montrent un homme qui n'a pas vraiment l'air gai. C'est à croire qu'il était exténué par tous ses travaux sur la philosophie, les mathématiques, la physique, la religion, et cetera.

Non, pas vraiment. C'est que les artistes ont simplement attendu que le bonhomme soit mort avant de produire son portrait. C'est-à-dire que tout tableau de Pascal a été exécuté à partir de son masque mortuaire.

Pas très gai, non ? Faites donc attention si vous comptez léguer à la postérité une gueule de bon vivant. N'attendez pas le dernier moment...

European natality

I found this chart yesterday :

Click to enlarge slightly

At times, I fail to see something that's stuck on my big fat nose. Yesterday, when I first posted this data, I didn't read what's clearly written down at the bottom of the chart. The percentages indicate the proportion of women without kids. In other words, 25 % of German women (at the top) are without children, whereas only 8 % of Bulgarian women are in that predicament. Male readers might notice that, if they're looking for an average European wife with an average tendency to be a mother, there's no better place to find her than in my favorite Old World nation. To help you find that place, here's a hint: a famous symbol of that people is a female whose upper-underwear is missing. And her name is Marianne.

In at least one town hall of our so-called Hexagone,
a lovely Marianne has been out in the sunshine.

Pour être un post-philosophe ?

J’avoue d’office que ma question et ma réponse sont totalement truquées en ce sens que je vais nommer des qualités particulières que je possède personnellement en partie supposée être suffisante. Il y a également des réponses pour lesquelles je me rends compte que je tire un peu vers moi la couverture. Je les laisse néanmoins car elles sont pertinentes. Je dis pourtant qu’elles pourraient être remplacées par des réponses légèrement différentes.

• Mieux vaut avoir une petite culture en philosophie conventionnelle, rien que pour éviter d’être totalement un philistin qui ignore même la terminologie d’Aristote et de tous ceux qui l'ont suivis.

• Etre au courant des discussions ordinaires sur le “free will” (libre arbitre).

• Pouvoir s’exprimer an anglais. Curieusement, je considère que la langue allemande n’ajoute rien d’obligatoire aux qualités du candidat. C’est une manière de dire que, si je pensais qu’il fallait posséder l’allemand pour être post-philosophe, j’aurais fait un effort pour l’apprendre.

• Etre connaisseur de Rilke et admirateur de Malte Laurids Brigge.

• Il faudrait surtout avoir quelques notions de base sur la physique quantique.

• Savoir un peu ce qu’est l’ADN.

• Connaître Richard Dawkins et l’athéisme.

• Il faudrait connaître assez bien la programmation d’ordinateurs et les challenges de ce qu’on appelle parfois l’intelligence artificielle.

• Il faudrait pouvoir taper correctement sur un ordinateur. Le contenu de ce que je propose pourrait difficilement être transmis par quelqu’un qui se sert uniquement du texto sur un iPad. D’ailleurs, il ne m’est jamais de ma vie arrivé de tenter une telle opération. Je reste incroyablement vieux-style !
Il y a sans doute des fautes dans mes propositions. Mais, même s’il n’y avait qu’un gramme de sérieux, sans parler de vérité, on devrait admettre que la plupart des candidats dits « intellectuels » se situent à une distance d’années-lumière.

Fluttering butterflies

When we look at the world, chance often troubles us. The submarines ordered recently by my native land will be designed and built by the French DCNS shipyard at Cherbourg, currently up for sale. A potential purchaser is the Italian Fincantieri, who built the Costa Concordia.

For readers (like me) who don’t believe in ghosts, that association means absolutely nothing. The giant Italian cruise ship might have had an inspiring destiny if only it hadn’t been captained on the evening of Friday 13 January 2012 by a randy idiot who seemed to view himself as God’s Gift to Women. But it might be creepy for a naval officer who believes in ghosts (supposing that such men are still recruited) to fall asleep in a submarine bunk designed by the same bed-builder who created the fun-place for Schettino and his blonde playmate.

De Jacques Monod à la Costa Concordia

J’ai décidé de mentionner Monod comme j’aurais pu évoquer d’autres grands penseurs scientifiques depuis l’époque des découvertes de la physique quantique et de l’ADN. Et j’ai parlé du désastreux fait divers de l’ile de Giglio tout comme j’aurais pu faire appel à n’importe quelle actualité qui émerge des battements des ailes d’un papillon. Pourquoi s’étonner par ailleurs des ressemblances entre l’actrice Sveva Alviti et Dalida plutôt que celles entre le Costa Concordia et le Titanic ?

Pourquoi donner le beau rôle de salaud à Francesco Schettino en particulier, quand on aurait pu choisir n’importe meutrier qui agit ainsi pour une raison indéniable, à savoir : C’est dans ses gènes. Rien à faire. Il est né comme ça.

Je trouve plus noble de parler des victimes, qu’elles soient de la fiction ou de la terrible réalité.

Mylène et Mickaël
Blanche et noir,
leurs peaux seraient un hasard sans importance,
leur amour une nécessité éternelle, aussi forte que la vie.

Ce qui me frappe aujourd’hui dans le cas du Prix Nobel, c’est son choix du titre Le Hasard et la Nécessité. Tout est dit. Le hasard, c’est le papillon. La nécessité, c’est la science et la rigueur de l'ADN. Ces deux forces mettent le capitaine et son amante ensemble au moment où le paquebot passe entre Scylla et Charybdis. Elles font du jeune couple des sacrificiés, puis elles sauvent la tête de l'abject capitaine italien.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Saint Billy's Day

If I have any Down Under Antipodes readers left (which is rather unlikely), they might be surprised to hear me say—unless they knew so already—that January 10 is the feast day of my patron saint, known in French as Guillaume, and in German as Wilhelm.

Now, please don't expect me to say anything about this fellow... or rather these fellows, because there's a big group of Bills, spread out over a few centuries. To be honest, I don't have the faintest idea of what a William has to do to become recognized as a potential saint. As far as I'm concerned, nobody has ever sent me an email asking me to contribute funds to sponsors who would back me up in a bid to become a saint. So, I have no information on such subtle matters. Be that as it may, it goes without saying—but it's better said than left in saintly silence—that I would instantly publish a blog post if ever I happened to be elected to the heavenly throng. Being a saint doesn't mean you have to remain as quiet as a stone statue about it.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

World’s most brilliant and efficient researchers and writers work for Wikipedia


This morning, I noticed news of the assassination yesterday of Jean-Louis Turquin, who had himself been considered by certain observers as the assassin of his son. Although it’s a mysterious and complex affair, it doesn’t interest me at all. However this morning’s news provides me with a pretext to examine something that does interest me greatly: the way in which Wikipedia handles such events.

Not surprisingly, the corresponding article ends with a sentence that mentions yesterday's assassination. This rapidity suggests that Wikipedia writers get to work in the minutes that follow a relevant news events. The organization and speed of Wikipedia people are impressive, and their reporting is clear and precise. I simply don’t know how they get their act together. They’re surely devoted to Wikipedia in the way a priest might be devoted to the Church. But I’m obliged to say that I know nothing whatsoever about such WikiPriests.

Talents sportifs hérités

Dans la lignée Noah, il y a eu trois générations de grands sportifs, chacune dans une discipline différente.

Zacharie, Yannick et Joakim Noah réunis en septembre 2011. (L'Equipe)

Le patriarche Zacharie Noah, 79, vient de mourir à Yaoundé, Cameroun.

J’ai eu une occasion inattendue de rencontrer Yannick Noah à Perth en 1985 à l’occasion d’un diner chez un Français, son ami d’école, qui venait d'être nommé à la tête de l’Alliance Française. Je connaissais bien cette personne car j’avais contacté l’Alliance tout de suite après mon arrivée à Fremantle.

J’ai eu l’occasion de constater, ce soir-là, que Yannick n’avait pas le comportement rigoureux d’un sportif de haut niveau qui évitait complètement de boire et de fumer. Ses capacités tennistiques n’étaient pas uniquement la conséquence d’un mode de vie spartiate. Elles étaient dans les gènes hérités du son père.

Des amis Facebook ne sont pas forcément de vrais amis

J'aurais pensé qu'on n'avait pas besoin de faire appel à la justice en France pour clarifier une telle question. Nous avons beaucoup d'affaires plus sérieuses à régler.

Hélas, il a suffi qu'un plaignant récuse un certain candidat de jury pour que cette question soit amenée devant un tribunal. Quelle perte d'énergie ridicule !

Some of my best friends used to be kids

Even, in certain cases, bright kids. Now I don't know if it's the weather, or whatever... but I find it harder and harder to met up with smart humans. At times, over the last few months, I've had the impression that some kind of a plague has swept through my old territories and infected some of my favorite watering holes. Only today, for example, I read in the press that a flu attack has wiped out 13 residents of a home for old folk in Lyon. It appears that the rate of vaccination in this establishment was 38%, but we'll have to await the results of an inquiry to see if some of those who died were in fact vaccinated. I hope that our future president François Fillon, who brought the Internet to France, will introduce a law that makes it obligatory for old-timers such as me to be vaccinated against the flu virus. Before that happens, I must remember to ask a local priest whether I'm maybe a public danger when I walk around in the super-market with my body full of flu-vaccine shit. Maybe they should ban me.

Once upon a time, I used to get all excited and full of fury whenever I detected cases of blatant stupidity in society. These days, I simple look the other way. If I were to snarl at every idiot I run into, more and more people would consider me (as many do already) as a mad dog, and try to shoot me. Such is fucking life. A fucking tragedy, whichever way you look at it. If God existed (which, of course, he doesn't), then he would have to be truly ashamed of his bull-shit creation.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Moment of intense joy

Since yesterday evening, my house has been
invaded by a continuous mysterious piercing sound.
I searched its causes everywhere, without success.
This morning, I discovered that the disturbing sound
came from a faulty smoke and CO detector.
So, I took it outside and left it on a table.
This afternoon, in the cold, the strident sound
went into action once again.
Enough was enough.
I finally stopped the sound. Forever.

Click to enlarge slightly

Not since my first kiss have I felt so elated!

Human madness disgusts me

7 janvier 2015

On that terrible day, the madness of a mob of dirty brain-washed buggers made an ugly inaugural appearance. The day will surely come
when all the mad fellows will have finally faded away into dust.
Between now and then, our world will suffer unbearably.

Fillon invented the wheel, too

Sliced bread, almost certainly.

Run, Turing, Run!

Maybe Forrest Gump invented the principles of
modern computing and artificial intelligence...

Friday, January 6, 2017

Does the British PM know the way out ?

Theresa May is like a lady in a dark cinema who’s looking for the toilets. She knows they’re there, somewhere or other, and she needs to reach them as soon as possible, but there’s not enough light for her to find the way.

Born in Bournemouth in Dorset, the lady is accustomed to foggy conditions. The Brexit, however, is foggier by far than anything she’d ever encountered. Sir Ivan Rogers, Britain's ambassador to Brussels, even chose the lady’s birthplace to announce his resignation… which wasn’t a particularly British act. Before taking French leave, the not-very-diplomatic diplomat had been ungracious enough to inform 10 Downing Street that finding the way out of Europe in the dark might even take ten years. Goodness Gracious, that’s a long wait in the pea soup for a pee!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Former French president intercepted by a police officer

On 31 December 2016, at Saint-Tropez, the ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy ran into trouble with a local policeman. In a one-way street, the said Sarkozy was allegedly traveling in the wrong direction, which could have resulted in an accident if ever an old person or children (or anybody at all, for that matter) had happened to attempt to cross the street. The alleged culprit halted and declined his identity. It is not known whether he made any statement or apology to the police officer concerning his dangerous act. In any case, the police officer reveals that he did not encounter any kind of problem with the alleged culprit, who apparently made no attempt to behave in an incorrect manner with the representative of the law. When asked by the police officer to descend from his bicycle, the alleged offender did so, and obeyed the police officer’s suggestion of continuing his journey on foot, wheeling the bicycle alongside him. The police officer has further revealed that neither he nor the alleged culprit thought it necessary to draw attention to the fact that the alleged culprit had once occupied a special post in France. In other words, the alleged culprit received no exceptional treatment. It appears that the affair was brought to an acceptable conclusion in as rapid and harmonious a manner as possible.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Trump pourrait être du vent

Donald Trump dit tellement de conneries que l’on se demande si lui aussi ne serait pas une sorte de connerie permanente. Il a suggéré que le changement climatique était une plaisanterie chinoise qu’il serait obligé d'anéantir. Il a promis même de restaurer l’industrie du charbon. Trop de Trompe, c’est trop. Tellement de conneries qu'il finit par se fatiguer.

Avant Noël, quand les “promesses” de Trump commençaient à se faire oublier un peu, le gouvernement fédéral à proposé des enchères sur une parcelle du fond de la mer aux alentours de l’Etat de New York, comme un site potentiel d’un vaste parc d’éoliens.

Est-ce que la morosité engendrée par Trump allait tuer cette offre ? Pas du tout. L’intérêt était tellement énorme que les enchères ont grimpé à 33 tours, et nécessité l’ouverture d’une seconde journée de business. Finalement, le gagnant a offert 42 millions de dollars au Trésor fédéral. Ça fait deux fois ce qui a été obtenu au mois d’août pour l’achat de sites pétroliers dans la Golfe de Mexique.