Thursday, December 29, 2005
I have always been living downtown and I cannot imagine living elsewhere but where the action is. I need my theatres, my international newspapers and magazines stores, my coffeeshops, my museums, my fancy designer clothing/kitchen gadgets/exotic flower boutiques, my trendy terraces/ethnic restaurants, etc.. But then, I have been molded culture-wise by the great cities of Europe: Paris, London, Geneva, etc.. And during my early youth, I was a resident of Saigon, the Pearl of the Orient, the centre and masterpiece of the French colonial heritage. I'm a city girl and damn proud of it. But in North America, you apparently have to be well-off or make a confortable living to live in the suburbs, while average or poor people have no choice but to live in the cities. When I first arrived in Montreal and took my first well-paid job, I was surprised to find out that most of my colleagues were living outside the city. They all bragged about the acres of land that surround their houses, and apparently it was somehow desirable to have so much lawn to mow or a huge swimming pool to clean and filter and keep the neighbours' kids away from. It is also a good thing to go grocery shopping once a week and buy tons of frozen stuff, instead of deciding like I do at the last minute what to have for supper and, every day or so, go buy fresh ingredients from the various neighbourhood specialized shops: butchers, greengrocers, etc.. I don't even have a freezer-chest, for crissake! The thing is, I'm too disorganized to live in the suburbs. Forgetful as I am, I can't just jump in the car and drive ten kilometres to the JumboMart everytime I run out of milk or croissants. I'm also a spur-of-the-moment type, so I cannot plan an expedition each time I feel like meeting a friend over a drink, checking the latest CD arrivals, watching the Santa Claus/St Patrick parade or going to the movies.
So to recap: in North America, rich people live in the suburbs, poor people live in ghettoes in the cities. In Europe and South East Asia, rich people live in the cities, lowlife live in ghettoes in the suburbs. Me, I live in downtown Montreal and I feel sorry for the people who are stuck in the suburbs.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
By William Saletan
Have you heard the latest news? We've decoded the DNA of dogs. Here's how the media-approved version of the story goes: We're showing our love for "man's best friend" by discovering and treating the genetic causes of his ailments. In return, we'll learn to treat the same ailments in ourselves.
It's a heartwarming story, but it's a fraud. The reason we targeted the dog genome for decoding is that it's useful for genetic research. The reason it's useful for genetic research is that dogs are neatly divided into breeds, each of which is plagued by specific diseases. And the reason dogs are divided into diseased breeds is that we made them that way. Dogs are the world's longest self-serving, ecologically reckless genetic experiment, perpetrated by the world's first genetically engineering species: us.
Dogs were just a loose category of wolves until around 15,000 years ago, when our ancestors tamed and began to manage them. We fed them, bred them, and spread them from continent to continent. While other wolf descendants died out, dogs grew into a new species. We invented the dog.
We didn't pick just any wolves for this project. We picked the ones that could help us and get along with us. Dogs are dumber than monkeys and other mammals in many ways, but they excel at one thing: interpreting human behavior. Three years ago, scientists tested this talent in wolves, adult dogs, puppies raised in households, and puppies raised in kennels. The wolves couldn't read humans well, but the puppies could—even the puppies raised in kennels. Through selection, we've hardwired human compatibility into dogs. We've made a species in our image.
But that wasn't enough. We had specific needs. We bred hunting dogs, herding dogs, sled dogs, and guard dogs. (We also tried a few unauthorized uses.) We turned reproductive separation and inbreeding into a science, multiplying and dividing the species into more than 400 breeds. The American Kennel Club sorts them into the Sporting Group, Working Group, Herding Group, Hound Group (whose ancestors were "used for hunting"), Terrier Group (whose ancestors "were bred to hunt and kill vermin"), and Toy Group. "The diminutive size and winsome expressions of Toy dogs illustrate the main function of this Group: to embody sheer delight," says the club's Web site. Every dog has his duty.
Each need, each breed, called for special traits. We bred collies for vigilance, Rottweilers for aggression, retrievers for obedience. In a span of decades, we bred ferocity into Dobermans and then, with equal deliberateness, bred it out. We treated dogs like guns. We designed and bought them for protection, then complained when they hurt us. When cities banned pit bulls, we bought Rottweilers. It was as easy as replacing an illegal assault weapon with a legal one.
Not all our designs were utilitarian. We made some breeds just for fun. Some, like the Pharaoh Hound, were thought to be ancient because they looked like dogs drawn on Egyptian tombs. But last year, when we checked their DNS, we found no evidence they were older than modern breeds. Apparently, breeders crafted them by mating dogs that looked like the drawings. Life imitated art.
In the course of engineering dogs to look, feel, and act as we wanted, we ruined millions of them. We gave them legs so short they couldn't run, noses so flat they couldn't breathe, tempers so hostile they couldn't function in society. Even our best intentions backfired. Nature invented sexual reproduction to diversify gene pools and dilute bad variants. By forcing dogs into incest (which we ban among humans, in part for biological reasons), we defied nature. We concentrated each bad gene in a breed, magnifying its damage: epilepsy for springer spaniels, diabetes for Samoyeds, bone cancer for Rottweilers. That's why the dog genome is so nifty: We can find disease genes just by comparing one breed's DNA to another's.
Well, too bad for the dogs. But three cheers for us and our experiment. "The dog genome is a wonderful playground for geneticists," exults the New York Times. "A treasure trove," says the San Francisco Chronicle. "A convenient laboratory," agrees Reuters.
Man's best friend, indeed.
Also see Mr. Saletan's article about Designer dogs made to order: http://www.slate.com/id/2133349/
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Now to the main theme: Are Orientals super rude or unbearably polite?
Incident no.1: I was at a McDonald counter, waiting for my order. Behind me was a Chinese man with his 7-8 year old daughter. She asked and he let her climb and sit on the counter. The McDonald girl didn't say anything and I tried to hide my annoyance. When my order finally arrived, before any of us could react, the little girl reached out, grabbed a few fries and popped them in her mouth. McDonald girl and I were frozen in shock, slack-jawed; the father had no reaction. Then McDonald girl said: «I'll get you some new fries». From that moment on, until I left with my order, the father did not say a word, in apology or otherwise, studiously avoiding my eyes; the little girl stayed on the counter.
Incident no.2: I was sitting in my parked car, waiting for my mother to finish her business at the video rental store. A car came and parked in the space in front of me. The driver was an Oriental woman, relatively young. As she backed up, she bumped into my car. The shock was rather strong, so I stepped out of my car to check the damage. She also stepped out, but just glanced at me and walked away. I yelled at her: «Hey! How about some apology?» She continued walking away.
Incident no.3: I was at the wedding of a Chinese friend. A group of young guys (Chinese - I heard them talking) were setting up the sound system. One of them pulled too hard on a cable and it went snapping like a whip and hit a guy sitting next to me in the face, leaving a red welt. Instead of apologizing, the asshole said: «Hey, good thing it didn't hit you in the crotch! Hahaha!». The victim laughed weakly and left the room.
Incidents no. 4, 5, 6...: I lost count of the times when I would arrive at a door at the same time as some Orientals and they would just stand there waiting for me to open the door so that they can walk through, or when I did open and hold the door for them and they would just walk through and never, never, ever say thank you, not once.
Incidents no. nth...: My son sometimes brings home a Chinese friend called Justin. Justin never says hello, meets my eyes or acknowledges my presence in any way, even if I greet him first. Once, as he was walking to the bathroom, I deliberately stood in the way, to force him to look at me: he didn't and just walked around me.
It is well known that in the Oriental culture, politeness and good manners are extremely important, sometimes excessively so. So how to explain such rudeness, so commonly experienced by me and many other people I talked to, Orientals and non-Orientals? My tentative (and generous) explanation is that, in some of the cases I described, the culprits were so keenly embarrassed by their action that they cannot face up to it and, even though they just wanted to die on the spot, they had no choice but to act as if the act of rudeness did not happen, because of the unbearable loss of face. The people who walk through doors held opened by others without saying thank you are just rude, uncouth and badly educated.
As to Justin: Hey Justin, I know it's just shyness and awkwardness due to your youth and immaturity, but I'm not asking for a long conversation: a simple «Hi!» would do.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Apparently, Brian has the capability of seeing the future in his dreams. He boasts of 93% accuracy and some of the proofs he provides are indeed fascinating. He also predicts winning lottery numbers all over the world. Two of his predictions that I'm particularly interested in are the announcements that President Bush will be impeached in 2006 and Governor Schwarzenegger will get and die of cancer in 11 months.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Sunday, December 18, 2005
by: dood abides
December 12, 2005 at 17:58:02 America/Los_Angeles (It had to be done. This is stupefying in its artistry and all-around brilliance. - promoted by Maryscott O'Connor)
Of course, it was easy then to make good-natured fun of the French, they were so ridiculous. But it's different with the «Amerloques»: these people are actually sincere in their self-delusion. They actually believe that their country is the only, the single one country in the whole wide world that is pure and sinless and full of good intentions. They stubbornly refuse to see that their national history is as full of blood and atrocities as that of every other country, they willingly swallow their own Koolaid, they hypnotize themselves into erasing from their collective mind all traces and records of invasions, genocides, rampages, massacres, etc. «That was before», they say, «Now we're civilized». Until they're caught doing what other countries do: they practice torture.
Ah yes. Torture. How bad, how awful, we only use it when necessary, blah blah blah. Most Americans don't know or choose to forget that in every country where the US have some interests to protect, they send in the CIA to teach the local goons the fine art of torture. In Vietnam for example, the notorious tiger cages were their signature legacy.
I recommend that you read Vladimir Bukovsky's article in today's Washington Post: http://tinyurl.com/bcoew
His article, called «Torture's Long Shadow» starts with this joke: One nasty morning Comrade Stalin discovered that his favorite pipe was missing. Naturally, he called in his henchman, Lavrenti Beria, and instructed him to find the pipe. A few hours later, Stalin found it in his desk and called off the search. "But, Comrade Stalin," stammered Beria, "five suspects have already confessed to stealing it."
To those who are naively thinking: «Well, I'm willing to accept the use of torture for the sake of the nation's security», let me inform them that they or someone they love migh very well be the next one arrested and tortured. And once they are, I'm willing to accept that they will assuredly confess to stealing Stalin's pipe, if that's what's requested of them.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Domo Arigato, Meiko chan!
UPDATE: It didn't occur to me to point this out, but apparently some people -- and we pity teh fools -- might think the video is a serious documentary. So let it be known: it's a frigging joke, people!!!
UPDATE [7 mARCH 2006] - The link doesn't seem to work anymore. If you click on it, it'll take you to the general Google Videos page, in which case you have to search for: «How to enjoy sushi» by Japan Culture Lab.
Same method as when smallpox-contaminated blankets were commonly used throughout the European settlers' advance to remove those pesky Indians from coveted territories?
Friday, December 09, 2005
Hehehe... Music: Jingle Bells by Eminem [actually it's a parody by Bob Rivers]
Monday, December 05, 2005
The coming holiday season is weighing on me like a lead blanket: I wake up tired in the morning and go through the day in an exhausted daze. I am trying to avoid the stores as much as I can and to buy my presents online. But it's only the first week of the month and I'm already running out of money. Just the idea of buying a Christmas tree, decorating it, watering it every day, then dismantling it before vacuuming away all the fallen needles seems like an impossibly streneous enterprise, like climbing Mr Everest or sorting and filing away 10 years of past income tax returns. So no Christmas tree this year: instead, we're going to use the huge ficus tree that I had to drag in from the balcony in preparation of winter. As to the presents, I have a cunning plan: cash for everyone.
Now if I can only stay in bed with the doggie until the end of winter...
Friday, November 25, 2005
En général, j'essaye de lire les livres dans la langue dans laquelle ils ont été écrits. Les trois exemples ci-après confirmeront la sagesse d'une telle décision.
Premier exemple. Dans un livre de Shirley McLaine, l'auteur raconte une anecdote: elle donnait une conférence dans un grand hôtel et, étant sortie pendant la pause pour aller aux toilettes, elle s'était fait intercepter au retour par un garde de sécurité. Comme elle avait oublié son badge d'identité («my ID» en anglais), elle n'a pas pu convaindre le garde de la laisser rentrer pour reprendre son exposé à la conférence. Le traducteur (ou la traductrice, je ne me souviens plus), n'ayant pas compris le sens de ID, a jugé bon de mettre en bas de page toute une tartine sur l'id et l'ego, Freud, etc.. Mme McLaine avait voulu, par cette anecdote, démontrer que, toute star qu'elle était, il y avait encore des gens qui ne le reconnaissaient pas. Traduttore, Traditore! [Ou en bon français: toute traduction est une trahison]
Deuxième exemple. Lu dans un livre traduit de l'américain: «Mais bien sûr que je vais le lui dire. Et ne m'appelle pas Shirley!». Là, je crois que c'est plus que de la trahison, c'est de l'arriération mentale. Du même ordre que ce dernier exemple: «Comment ça va? lui demanda t-elle en roulant les r.»
Quant à moi, je vous dis: «À bientôt!», en zézayant.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Mon meilleur ami au bureau est un Français, qui s’appelle Bernard. Je l’appelle Bernouille et il m’appelle l’Eggnog. Bernard est coquet et aime bien porter des chapeaux, dont il a toute une collection : chapeau melon, panama, etc..
En prenant l’ascenseur à midi pour aller acheter de la bouffe, je suis tombée sur Bernouille qui, cette fois-ci, portait un beau béret basque bien enfoncé sur le crâne. L’ascenseur étant plein, je n’ai pas pu résister à la tentation de le taquiner un peu. «Woah! Un béret! - hurlai-je - Et où est-ce que t’a mis ton accordéon et ta baguette de pain?». À peine les derniers mots étaient-ils sortis de ma bouche que je me rendis compte, horrifiée, que ce n’était pas Bernouille, mais un parfait inconnu qui me fusillait du regard. De fait, l’ascenseur tout entier me regardait avec de gros yeux.
Je vais aller me jeter dans le St-Laurent.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Pilgims flock to see«Buddha Boy» said to have fasted six months
Thousands of pilgrims are pouring into the dense jungle of southern Nepal to worship a 15-year-old boy who has been hailed as a new Buddha. Devotees claim that Ram Bomjon, who is silently meditating beneath a tree, has not eaten or drunk anything since he sat down at his chosen spot six months ago.Witnesses say they have seen light emanating from the teenager's forehead."It looks a bit like when you shine a torch through your hand," said Tek Bahadur Lama, a member of the committee responsible for dealing with the growing number of visitors from India and elsewhere in Nepal.
Photographs of Ram Bomjon, available for five rupees from his makeshift shrine, have become ubiquitous across the region. "Far and wide, it's the only topic of conversation," said Upendra Lamichami, a local journalist. He said no allegation had yet emerged of Ram breaking his fast or moving, even to relieve himself. Santa Raj Subedi, the chief government official in Bara district, appealed to the capital, Kathmandu, for assistance in dealing with the influx of visitors, and for a team of scients to examine the case. Local doctors failed to reach a final conclusion, although they were allowed no closer than five yards from the boy mystic, declaring that they could confirm no more than that he was alive.
A trhiving market has grown in the once pristine forest, supplying pilgrims with everything from chewing tobacco and bicycle repairs to incense and sacred amulets. The ground is covered in litter. A fence was built around Ram's tree to prevent pilgrims prodding him, then a second, and now a third is planned, as well as a bus part, leaving Ram at the centre of an ever growing circle of rubbish.
Last month, it was the sighting of the Weeping Virgin Statue in Ho Chi Minh City. (http://tinyurl.com/7fy86)
Since Saturday night (31 October 2005), hundreds of people flocked outside the Notre Dame Cathedral to see for themselves the “tear,” which was reportedly a white long stain, on Our Lady’s visage, causing long queues and traffic jams lasting for hours in the area. “The statue, which stands outdoors, has not been cleaned for some time, so a stain on the Blessed Lady’s face after the rain is understandable,” Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper quoted Huynh Cong Minh, head priest of the Notre Dame Cathedral, as saying.
Minh, along with his subordinates, showed up on the spot that night, confirming the story was a mere rumor, but still failed to disperse the credulous crowd. “It is a wild rumor or even a lie. People did not see clearly in poor lighting at night, but they kept talking about it, and the rumor spread like wild fire,” said Nguyen Cong Danh, chairman of HCMC Catholics Uniting Committee.“We Christians adore the Virgin Mary, but we should be extremely cautious with such claims, not circulate it and cause disorder,” he added.
Local police were deployed Sunday to stop cars and motorbikes from entering the area to ensure visitors can still have a look at the Mother Mary in good order.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Imagine if someone in your family, or a friend, or a neighbor was beaten to death by a gang who wanted information about something they didn’t know anything about.
On Sunday, March 23, 2003, captured US pilots were shown on Iraqi TV. They didn’t have hoods over the heads. They were completely dressed. None of them wore leashes. Neither then, nor afterward, were they threatened with sodomy.
American reaction was instantaneous.
Donald Rumsfeld got on CBS and said to the world, “The Geneva Convention indicates that it's not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war. And if they do happen to be American or coalition ground forces that have been captured, the Geneva Convention indicates how they should be treated.”
President George. W Bush, in a press conference said, “I expect them to be treated, the POWs I expect to be treated humanely. And -- just like we're treating the prisoners that we have captured humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals.”
From this, we at least know that the president and the secretary of defense know what the Geneva Conventions are. Indeed, Mr. Rumsfeld seems to have a very fine appreciation of the niceties and the details, an understanding that even embarrassment and humiliation are wrong, even in such a seemingly innocuous way as photographing them. Both the president and the secretary expected the rules to be observed. In the spirit and in the letter.
The president clearly understood that people who violate the Geneva Conventions could be tried for war crimes and was announcing his intention to do exactly that.
Although, at the moment that they made those statements, they were running a war in the country next door and they had decided that over there the Geneva Conventions did not apply.
Imagine, if you will, that you are an Iraqi. You have a captured American pilot. You know that American jets will be bombing your city later this afternoon. If you could only find out what their targets are you could move the women and children – maybe even the old and the sick – out of harm’s way. You might be able to save hundreds, perhaps thousands if you only knew where the bombs would strike. Your children are in the city. Your grandparents. Your cousins. The girl you loved when you were twelve years old, who married someone else and is now the mother of two lovely twins.
You could save them, if only you could get that American pilot to talk.
Five hundred pound bombs are weapons of mass destruction. They quake the earth. They darken the sky.
They’ve already killed so many of your people. There would be pain in your questioning, but it would stop short of that “accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” You would have taken “taken such steps as surveying professional literature, consulting with experts …” lots in Iraq, and, apparently, in the US too, “ … or reviewing past experience,” living up to the standards that were signed off on by Jay S. Bybee, then US assistant attorney general, afterward appointed to the federal appeals court. What’s some mere discomfort, to one pampered Westerner who murders with impunity from 5,000 feet in the air. You’re doing simply what needs to be done.
In August, 2002, the Justice Department issued a memo to the White House that said if a government employee tortured a suspected terrorist “in order to prevent further attacks … necessity and self-defense could provide justifications and would eliminate any criminal liability.” In addition to the Geneva Conventions, the US has signed an anti-torture treaty and has it’s own war crimes law. However, according to the Pentagon, “in order to respect the President’s inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign [the prohibition against torture] must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his Commander-in-Chief authority.”
Now envision an imaginary place. Beyond power politics and assumptions about who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.
There’s a judge there. Almost divine in his wisdom and authority. And all these people – imaginary and real, the torturers and the men who sent them to it – come before him.
Let us imagine what he would say.
Friday, November 18, 2005
In the evening, I took my son Forty (the breakdancer) to visit her. As we walked around the place, he was pleased with all the amenities, the cleanliness, until he saw the tenants shuffling around on their canes or walkers. The shock on his face! By the time we reached Grandma's room, he was composed again, and he even fixed her TV/DVD/VCR setup and showed her how to use the shower in her bathroom, but once we were back in the car, he cracked! Teary eyed, with trembling voice, he expressed his horror: «How can we let her stay here? We have to move her back right away! Have you seen those poor old people? They have nothing to look forward to, all they do there is wait for death! If I had to live there, I'd kill myself!». I tried to point out to him that it was Grandma's decision to move out, that when she was at home, she didn't do much either, she never went out, while here she would be forced to leave her room at least three times a day to go to the dining room, but he was not convinced. As he was wiping his eyes, I said: Let's wait for a month, to see how she copes and if she's not happy there, we'll take her back.
That night, as we walked the dog together, he said: «You know, as we were leaving, Grandma said: come visit me often! but what she meant is: don't forget me», and I could see him wiping his tears again in the dark. I was so touched by his compassion for his grandmother: it reminded me of the life of the Buddha, when He left his royal palace and discovered sickness, suffering and old age for the first time in His life. Forty's distress is similar to the Buddha's. I feel so lucky to have witnessed such a moment and privileged to be part of his life.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Je ne prétends pas connaître tous les arcanes de la situation des banlieues en France, ni toutes les subtilités de la politique intérieure française. Je ne peux que parler en tant qu’immigrante, ethnie, éternelle minoritaire. Parce que la prof et l’étudiante sont blanches, elles ne peuvent comprendre le vécu des non-blancs qu’au niveau intellectuel, et jamais au niveau des tripes. J’ai essayé de leur décrire l’humiliation et l’oppression constantes qui pèsent comme une chape de plomb, 24 heures sur 24, sept jours par semaine, 365 jour par an, sur tout individu appartenant à une minorité ethnique, surtout si sa peau est plus foncée que celle de la majorité. Il se fait arrêter à tous les coins de rue; il doit montrer ses papiers à tous ceux qui les lui demandent; il doit ouvrir ses sacs, ses valises, se faire fouiller et interroger à tout bout de champ; quel que soit son âge, il se fait tutoyer par le moindre planton à tous les guichets; dans les magasins, où il est servi en dernier, il est surveillé de près par les vendeuses et se fait réprimander s’il touche à quoi que ce soit; il se fait prendre dans toutes les rafles et considéré d’office comme coupable, etc. Peu importe sa nationalité, son lieu de naissance, le nombre d’années vécues dans le pays, il sera toujours le bougnoule, le chinetoque, le youpin, le paki. J’ai des amis français que je connais depuis presque 40 ans; quand je vais chez eux, je suis toujours présentée comme «notre amie Machin, la petite Vietnamienne», alors que les Blancs auxquels je suis présentée sont simplement Jean Dupont, Marie Dubois, jamais «notre ami TrucChose, le petit Français».
Si vous n’avez jamais connu d’autre pays que celui où vous êtes né et où vous avez vécu toute votre vie, mais où l’on vous fait sentir tous les jours que vous n’êtes pas accepté sur le même pied d’égalité que vos compatriotes et que vous ne le serez jamais, n’y a-t-il pas lieu de désespérer? Surtout si vous avez 20 ans et que vous réalisez que votre horizon est bouché et qu’il n’y aura aucune alternative à ce scénario de médiocrité et d’infériorité qui constituera votre lot pour le reste de votre vie.
Pourquoi venir en France si vous n’y êtes pas bien accueilli, demande la prof d’espagnol. Parce que vos parents y sont venus poussés par la misère et le chômage dans leur pays, et que la France (et toute l’Europe d’ailleurs) n’a rien fait pour les en dissuader, ayant besoin de main d’œuvre bon marché. La politique d’intégration de la France repose sur des sentiments de culpabilité post-coloniale et de bonnes intentions idéologiques, elle est sciemment aveugle aux différences raciales, ethniques, religieuses, et constitue donc un catalyseur de bombes à retardement socio-politiques, puisque la population française plus conservatrice n’a pas suivi. J’ai vécu une dizaine d’années en Europe et une vingtaine d’année en Amérique du Nord. Je sais qu’il est impossible, sinon difficile, pour un immigrant de se fondre dans la société européenne, ou de ressentir simplement un sentiment d’appartenance. En Europe, on a l’impression que toute l’histoire du pays est déjà écrite par la race majoritaire, et qu’elle s’est arrêtée à la fin de la deuxième guerre mondiale. Le dossier est clos. Tout apport immigrant ne sera qu’un post-scriptum, ou une note dans la marge. Alors qu’aux États-Unis ou au Canada, les immigrants peuvent mettre la main à la pâte et contribuer directement à bâtir une société commune avec leurs compatriotes d’adoption. Bien sûr, je me fais encore constamment demander ma «vraie» nationalité et je sais que je ne serai jamais considérée par les «pures laines» comme une Québécoise à part entière. Mais je peux imaginer qu’un jour, un Nguyen ou un Ben Talloum sera Premier Ministre du Canada. Tout est théoriquement envisageable. Ce qui est impensable en Europe.
Je ne sais pas si le mouvement de révolte se répandra en Europe ou sur d’autres continents. Ce que je peux prédire, c’est que chaque fois qu’une minorité ethnique, religieuse, sociale ou autre est opprimée de génération en génération, sans espoir et sans recours, il arrivera inévitablement un moment où la coupe débordera, où le dos du chameau se cassera, où la poudrière explosera. Cette fois-ci, c’est les beurs en France, demain ce sera peut-être les paysans chinois dont les terres ont été saisies par le gouvernement pour faire place à des usines, des gratte-ciel ou des barrages, ou peut-être les musulmans du sud de la Thaïlande qui sont d’origine ethnique malaise et qui rêvent de sécession.
Mise à jour - 17 novembre: Comme suite à mon texte décrivant l'humiliation permanente des non-Blancs dans un pays de Blancs, je reproduis ci-après le récit d'un père qui confirme mon analyse:
L'humiliation ordinaire, par Alain Badiou, , philosophe, professeur émérite à l'Ecole normale supérieure, dramaturge et romancier.
Le Monde - Article paru dans l'édition du 16.11.05
Constamment contrôlés par la police. De tous les griefs mentionnés par les jeunes révoltés du peuple de ce pays, cette omniprésence du contrôle et de l'arrestation dans leur vie ordinaire, ce harcèlement sans trêve, est le plus constant, le plus partagé. Se rend-on vraiment compte de ce que signifie ce grief ? De la dose d'humiliation et de violence qu'il représente?
J'ai un fils adoptif de 16 ans qui est noir. Appelons-le Gérard. Il ne relève pas des "explications" sociologiques et misérabilistes ordinaires. Son histoire se passe à Paris, tout bonnement.
Entre le 31 mars 2004 (Gérard n'avait pas 15 ans) et aujourd'hui, je n'ai pu dénombrer les contrôles dans la rue. Innombrables, il n'y a pas d'autre mot. Les arrestations : Six ! En dix-huit mois... J'appelle "arrestation" qu'on l'emmène menotté au commissariat, qu'on l'insulte, qu'on l'attache à un banc, qu'il reste là des heures, parfois une ou deux journées de garde à vue. Pour rien.
Le pire d'une persécution tient souvent aux détails. Je raconte donc, un peu minutieusement, la toute dernière arrestation. Gérard, accompagné de son ami Kemal (né en France, Français donc, de famille turque), est vers 16 h 30 devant un lycée privé (fréquenté par des jeunes filles). Pendant que Gérard fait assaut de galanterie, Kemal négocie avec un élève d'un autre lycée voisin l'achat d'un vélo. Vingt euros, le vélo, une affaire ! Suspecte, c'est certain. Notons cependant que Kemal a quelques euros, pas beaucoup, parce qu'il travaille : il est aide et marmiton dans une crêperie. Trois "petits jeunes" viennent à leur rencontre. Un d'entre eux, l'air désemparé : "Ce vélo est à moi, un grand l'a emprunté, il y a une heure et demie, et il ne me l'a pas rendu." Aïe ! Le vendeur était, semble-t-il, un "emprunteur". Discussion. Gérard ne voit qu'une solution : rendre le vélo. Bien mal acquis ne profite guère. Kemal s'y résout. Les "petits jeunes" partent avec l'engin.
C'est alors que se range le long du trottoir, tous freins crissants, une voiture de police. Deux de ses occupants bondissent sur Gérard et Kemal, les plaquent à terre, les menottent mains dans le dos, puis les alignent contre le mur. Insultes et menaces : "Enculés ! Connards !" Nos deux héros demandent ce qu'ils ont fait. "Vous savez très bien ! Du reste, tournez-vous – on les met, toujours menottés, face aux passants dans la rue –, que tout le monde voie bien qui vous êtes et ce que vous faites !" Réinvention du pilori médiéval (une demi-heure d'exposition), mais, nouveauté, avant tout jugement, et même toute accusation. Survient le fourgon. "Vous allez voir ce que vous prendrez dans la gueule, quand vous serez tout seuls." "Vous aimez les chiens ?" "Au commissariat, y aura personne pour vous aider."
Les petits jeunes disent : "Ils n'ont rien fait, ils nous ont rendu le vélo." Peu importe, on embarque tout le monde, Gérard, Kemal, les trois "petits jeunes", et le vélo. Serait-ce ce maudit vélo, le coupable ? Disons tout de suite que non, il n'en sera plus jamais question. Du reste, au commissariat, on sépare Gérard et Kemal des trois petits jeunes et du vélo, trois braves petits "blancs" qui sortiront libres dans la foulée. Le Noir et le Turc, c'est une autre affaire. C'est, nous raconteront-ils, le moment le plus "mauvais". Menottés au banc, petits coups dans les tibias chaque fois qu'un policier passe devant eux, insultes, spécialement pour Gérard : "gros porc", "crado"... On les monte et on les descend, ça dure une heure et demie sans qu'ils sachent de quoi ils sont accusés et pourquoi ils sont ainsi devenus du gibier. Finalement, on leur signifie qu'ils sont mis en garde à vue pour une agression en réunion commise il y a quinze jours. Ils sont vraiment dégoûtés, ne sachant de quoi il retourne. Signature de garde à vue, fouille, cellule. Il est 22 heures. A la maison, j'attends mon fils. Téléphone deux heures et demie plus tard : "Votre fils est en garde à vue pour probabilité de violences en réunion." J'adore cette "probabilité". Au passage, un policier moins complice a dit à Gérard : "Mais toi, il me semble que tu n'es dans aucune des affaires, qu'est-ce que tu fais encore là ?" Mystère, en effet.
S'agissant du Noir, mon fils, disons tout de suite qu'il n'a été reconnu par personne. C'est fini pour lui, dit une policière, un peu ennuyée. Tu as nos excuses. D'où venait toute cette histoire ? D'une dénonciation, encore et toujours. Un surveillant du lycée aux demoiselles l'aurait identifié comme celui qui aurait participé aux fameuses violences d'il y a deux semaines. Ce n'était aucunement lui ? Un Noir et un autre Noir, vous savez...
A propos des lycées, des surveillants et des délations : j'indique au passage que lors de la troisième des arrestations de Gérard, tout aussi vaine et brutale que les cinq autres, on a demandé à son lycée la photo et le dossier scolaire de tous les élèves noirs. Vous avez bien lu : les élèves noirs. Et comme le dossier en question était sur le bureau de l'inspecteur, je dois croire que le lycée, devenu succursale de la police, a opéré cette "sélection" intéressante.
On nous téléphone bien après 22 heures de venir récupérer notre fils, il n'a rien fait du tout, on s'excuse. Des excuses ? Qui peut s'en contenter ? Et j'imagine que ceux des "banlieues" n'y ont pas même droit, à de telles excuses. La marque d'infamie qu'on veut ainsi inscrire dans la vie quotidienne de ces gamins, qui peut croire qu'elle reste sans effets, sans effets dévastateurs ? Et s'ils entendent démontrer qu'après tout, puisqu'on les contrôle pour rien, il se pourrait qu'ils fassent savoir, un jour, et "en réunion", qu'on peut les contrôler pour quelque chose, qui leur en voudra ?
On a les émeutes qu'on mérite. Un Etat pour lequel ce qu'il appelle l'ordre public n'est que l'appariement de la protection de la richesse privée et des chiens lâchés sur les enfances ouvrières ou les provenances étrangères est purement et simplement méprisable.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
SCIENCE has always fascinated me. As a child in Tibet, I was keenly curious about how things worked. When I got a toy I would play with it a bit, then take it apart to see how it was put together. As I became older, I applied the same scrutiny to a movie projector and an antique automobile.
At one point I became particularly intrigued by an old telescope, with which I would study the heavens. One night while looking at the moon I realized that there were shadows on its surface. I corralled my two main tutors to show them, because this was contrary to the ancient version of cosmology I had been taught, which held that the moon was a heavenly body that emitted its own light.
But through my telescope the moon was clearly just a barren rock, pocked with craters. If the author of that fourth-century treatise were writing today, I'm sure he would write the chapter on cosmology differently.
If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.
For many years now, on my own and through the Mind and Life Institute, which I helped found, I have had the opportunity to meet with scientists to discuss their work. World-class scientists have generously coached me in subatomic physics, cosmology, psychology, biology.
It is our discussions of neuroscience, however, that have proved particularly important. From these exchanges a vigorous research initiative has emerged, a collaboration between monks and neuroscientists, to explore how meditation might alter brain function.
The goal here is not to prove Buddhism right or wrong - or even to bring people to Buddhism - but rather to take these methods out of the traditional context, study their potential benefits, and share the findings with anyone who might find them helpful.
After all, if practices from my own tradition can be brought together with scientific methods, then we may be able to take another small step toward alleviating human suffering.
Already this collaboration has borne fruit. Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, has published results from brain imaging studies of lamas meditating. He found that during meditation the regions of the brain thought to be related to happiness increase in activity. He also found that the longer a person has been a meditator, the greater the activity increase will be.
Other studies are under way. At Princeton University, Dr. Jonathan Cohen, a neuroscientist, is studying the effects of meditation on attention. At the University of California Medical School at San Francisco, Dr. Margaret Kemeny has been studying how meditation helps develop empathy in school teachers.
Whatever the results of this work, I am encouraged that it is taking place. You see, many people still consider science and religion to be in opposition. While I agree that certain religious concepts conflict with scientific facts and principles, I also feel that people from both worlds can have an intelligent discussion, one that has the power ultimately to generate a deeper understanding of challenges we face together in our interconnected world.
One of my first teachers of science was the German physicist Carl von Weizsäcker, who had been an apprentice to the quantum theorist Werner Heisenberg. Dr. Weizsäcker was kind enough to give me some formal tutorials on scientific topics. (I confess that while listening to him I would feel I could grasp the intricacies of the full argument, but when the sessions were over there was often not a great deal of his explanation left behind.)
What impressed me most deeply was how Dr. Weizsäcker worried about both the philosophical implications of quantum physics and the ethical consequences of science generally. He felt that science could benefit from exploring issues usually left to the humanities.
I believe that we must find a way to bring ethical considerations to bear upon the direction of scientific development, especially in the life sciences. By invoking fundamental ethical principles, I am not advocating a fusion of religious ethics and scientific inquiry.
Rather, I am speaking of what I call "secular ethics," which embrace the principles we share as human beings: compassion, tolerance, consideration of others, the responsible use of knowledge and power. These principles transcend the barriers between religious believers and non-believers; they belong not to one faith, but to all faiths.
Today, our knowledge of the human brain and body at the cellular and genetic level has reached a new level of sophistication. Advances in genetic manipulation, for example, mean scientists can create new genetic entities - like hybrid animal and plant species - whose long-term consequences are unknown.
Sometimes when scientists concentrate on their own narrow fields, their keen focus obscures the larger effect their work might have. In my conversations with scientists I try to remind them of the larger goal behind what they do in their daily work.
This is more important than ever. It is all too evident that our moral thinking simply has not been able to keep pace with the speed of scientific advancement. Yet the ramifications of this progress are such that it is no longer adequate to say that the choice of what to do with this knowledge should be left in the hands of individuals.
This is a point I intend to make when I speak at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience today in Washington. I will suggest that how science relates to wider humanity is no longer of academic interest alone. This question must assume a sense of urgency for all those who are concerned about the fate of human existence.
A deeper dialogue between neuroscience and society - indeed between all scientific fields and society - could help deepen our understanding of what it means to be human and our responsibilities for the natural world we share with other sentient beings.
Just as the world of business has been paying renewed attention to ethics, the world of science would benefit from more deeply considering the implications of its own work. Scientists should be more than merely technically adept; they should be mindful of their own motivation and the larger goal of what they do: the betterment of humanity.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
The cry across the land grows increasingly shrill: "THEY LIED TO US!"
For going on three years, the American public, especially on the political left, has been complaining that the Iraq War was some kind of a shuck-and-jive. The Bush government pulled the wool over everybody's eyes. They ran a vicious propaganda operation. We were fooled by all those fairy tales about WMDs, Saddam and Osama, and African radioactive yellowcake.
Now, through the fog of the Valerie Plame affair and the indictment of Scooter Libby, the cry is reaching a crescendo: "THEY LIED TO US!"
Being a Democrat myself, and therefore nominally in opposition to Bush-and-Cheneyism, one has to contend with all sorts of embarrassing nonsense emanating from one's own side. In Sunday's New York Times op-ed section, for instance, Nicholas Kristoff wrote: "Mr. Cheney, we need a stiff dose of truth." I'm sorry to tell you this Nick (and the rest of my homies), but what Jack Nicholson's character said in that court martial movie some years back still applies: you can't stand the truth.
If the American public could stand the truth, we would stop calling it the Iraq War and rename it the War to Save Suburbia. Of all the things that Bush and Cheney have said over the last six years, the one thing the Democratic opposition has not challenged is the statement that "the American way of life is not negotiable." They're just as invested in it as everybody else. The Democrats complain about the dark efforts by Bush and Cheney to cook up a rationale for the war. Guess what? The Democrats desperately need something to oppose besides the truth. If they would shut up about WMDs for five minutes and just take a good look around, they'd know exactly why this war started.
When the American people, Democrat and Republican both, decided to build a drive-in utopia based on incessant easy motoring and massive oil dependency, who lied to them? When tens of millions of Americans bought McHouses thirty-four miles away from their jobs in Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Dallas, who lied to them? When American public officials adopted the madness of single-use zoning and turned the terrain of this land into a tragic crapscape of strip malls on six-lane highways, who lied to them? When American school officials decided to consolidate all the kids in gigantic centralized facilities serviced by fleets of yellow buses that ran an average of 150,000 miles per year per school, who lied to them? When Americans trashed their public transit and railroad system, who lied to them? When Americans let WalMart gut Main Street, who lied to them? When Bill and Hillary Clinton bought a suburban villa in farthest reaches of northern Westchester County, New York, who lied to them?
You want truth, Progressive America? Here's the truth: the War to Save Suburbia entailed an unavoidable strategic military enterprise. Saving Suburbia required that the Middle East be pacified or at least stabilized, because two-thirds of the world's remaining oil is there (and in case you haven't figured this out by now, Suburbia runs on oil, and the oil has to be cheap or we couldn't afford to run it). The three main oil-producing countries in the Middle East, going from west-to-east are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran. We had serious relationship problems with all of them at various times, and they with each other, leading at frequent intervals to a lot of instability in that region, and consequently trouble for us trying to run Suburbia on cheap oil (which they sold us in large quantities).
After nineteen religious maniacs from the Middle East, mostly Arabs (though unaffiliated officially with any state in their actions) flew planes into our skyscrapers and a big government building, we had to kick someone's ass. We decided to start by kicking the ass of Afghanistan, where one particular mischievous maniac, Mr. bin Laden, had set up operations connected with 9/11. It wasn't enough. We never could find Mr. bin Laden, Afghanistan wasn't really in the Middle East, and whatever else they were, the Afghans weren't Arabs. We had to find somebody else's ass to kick to reinforce the idea that religious maniacs unaffiliated with any particular state could not pull off lethal stunts like 9/11 without bringing substantial pain down on their own home places. To put it plainly, we had to kick some Arab ass. We picked Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Not because he had anything to do with 9/11-- which we couldn't pin on any Muslim nation -- but because Saddam's Baathist regime was Arab, and the same general religious brand as the guys who did 9/11, Sunni Muslim, and because Saddam had already proven to be a freelance mischievous maniac quite in his own right over the years, worth getting rid of, and most of all (from a strategic point-of-view) because Iraq was the perfect place geographically to open a US police station in the Middle East. It was right between those two other troublemakers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and setting up an American military presence between them, it was hoped, would moderate and influence their behavior, and discourage them from doing anything to interfere with the indispensable supplies of oil that we desperately required to run our beloved, non-negotiable Suburbia. It was even hoped, by a band of extreme idealists in the US Government, that in the process of setting up a military presence in Iraq, we could convert this troubled, fractious nation into a peaceful, cohesive, beneficent democracy, establishing a shining example, blah, blah. . . . But such is the nature of idealism.
I apologize for taking two long paragraphs to tell you the true origins of the War to Save Suburbia, but it was, after all, only two paragraphs, and the truth is sometimes not so simple. The American people have gotten exactly the war that they bargained for. The outstanding obvious question is not by what wicked and recondite means the War to Save Suburbia got started, but how come once started, we did such a poor job of resolving it, specifically why, after nearly three years, our vaunted technological mastery couldn't get the electricity running more than a few hours a day in Baghdad, why we let squads of redneck moron enlisted personnel beat up on prisoners and videotape their own antics, and why we can't even get the oil equipment in good enough shape so the Iraqis can sell us the oil we still need to run our non-negotiable way of life?
So, as a card-carrying Democrat and as a Progressive who would like to see his country successfully adapt to the changing realities of the world, I propose we stop making ourselves ridiculous by whining about being lied to, because we've only been lying to ourselves. We walked into the War to Save Suburbia with, as the old saying goes, our eyes wide shut.
A lack of sleep makes you "fat, stupid and sick", according to German scientists [http://tinyurl.com/c88vm].
Sleep researcher Professor Juergen Zulley from the Regensburg University Hospital in Bavaria said: "It makes you stupid because suffering from sleep deficiency diminishes your memory. Sick, because too little sleep can damage your heart, circulation, stomach and intestines. And fat because while we are sleeping are [sic] bodies release a hormone that reduces appetite.
"If the release of this hormone is interrupted because we are not getting a full night's sleep then we quickly feel hungry which causes most people to head straight to the fridge," he said.
I sleep about 2 to 4 hours per day. That explains it!
Friday, October 28, 2005
Some of the submissions are pretty lame («Vietnam - attractive ecosystem», «Been Here yet?», «Vietnam - The marvellous bamboo», «Vietnam the wet rice civilization»), some are weird («Coming to feel», «Vietnam with millions speaking flowers!», «Viet nam beauty from simples!»), some are in Engrish («Funny go and cheery comeback !», «Viet Nam - enlarging your eyes») and some are downright pornographic («Come! And you'll come again!», «Vietnam, deep inside»), not to mention hilarious («How is "No" said? We don’t know!», «We do not care for your travel satisfaction. We guarantee it !»)
AND THE WINNER IS : «Vietnam - The Hidden Charm».... Aaah! Perfect!
- There is probably intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe, and there is evidence in the Bible to suggest that it could be Christian, according to the Roman Catholic Church. The proof is to be found in the verses from John’s Gospel known as the Good Shepherd passage. In John x, 14-16, Jesus says: “I am the Good Shepherd . . . I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd.” [http://tinyurl.com/dt93r]
- Chris Craddock, Republican candidate in the 2005 Virginia election, said to a Westfield High AP government class that, in his experience, from the gay males he's known, there are three ways to become gay: You don't have a father figure in your life, you have an abusive father figure or you have no loving support in your family [http://tinyurl.com/8xyv9]. From which, according to BartCop [http://www.bartcop.com/], we can only conclude that Alan Keyes [http://tinyurl.com/7ejkl] is too feminine to be a male role model; US Vice-President Dick Cheney is an abusive father and Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich's sister was born in a house without love. Craddock also said that the reason there's an AIDS epidemic in Africa is because "Africans will have sex with anything that has a pulse."
- Hijab Chic is not an oxymoron, as shown by Asra Q. Nomani in her Slate article about fashion for the« veiled-and-shrouded set» [http://slate.msn.com/id/2128906/?nav=tap3]. Nordstrom recently hosted a fashion show (called seminar) attended by about 100 women — their hair covered by scarves, their bodies cloaked in abayas or burqas, and at least two of them with their faces fully veiled. Montreal will soon hold a Défilé de Haute couture arabe called Caftans 2005 [http://tinyurl.com/95l4a]. Of course, such frivolous attempts at fashion are strongly disapproved by conservative Muslims: "Everyday we see our Muslim sisters proudly displaying names and initials on their clothing. … What are they advertising? CD, YSL, D&G,"—as in Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Dolce & Gabbana—"How ironic that the most modest of dressing—the cloak and scarf—should become contaminated by advertising the names of some of the most shameless and perverted people in the world." Nordstrom Fashion Seminar was «a miss», but as Ms Nomani indicated: «It's not easy to combine high fashion with religion».
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Let's cut right to the chase, here is my shameful secret: I'm a big fan of Steven Seagal.
There, I've said it! You can laugh, you can sneer, I just love the man. I love how he walks and talks and does everything calmly, deliberately, until pow! in a blink of an eye, he punches you in the larynx! People make fun of him, talk about him with disdain, I don't care. I even agree with most of his critics: his acting is bad, his facial expressions are rather limited, he's not particularly handsome and he does not look like the cerebral type. Not to mention that, with age, he has gotten fat. But in his eyes, I see irony, self-derision and compassion for the people around him who think they are his betters. I have all of his films, I even have a video of one of his teaching sessions when he was an Aikido sensei in Japan.
So, without further ado and in hommage to my idol, I give you: The Steven Seagal Show.
[Arigato, Meimei-san, for the tip.]
Episode 1 – Four O’clock Showdown
Overweight no-talent squares off against a tired old man who just wants to know what time it is. May the best man win!
Watch the cartoon…
Episode 2 – The Way Of The Donkey
Tubby show-off goes ballistic in a fast food eatery. Special guests stars include Paul “Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee” Hogan, and that donkey from Shrek.
Watch the cartoon…
Episode 3 – Scattered, Covered, Tortured!
Portly has-been tries to get revenge on the wimpy dork who keeps making fun of him on the internet. Christopher Walken appears briefly for no reason.
Watch the cartoon…
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
A man can call an actress «a talentless bimbo», or a female singer «a skanky slut» and his opinion will be duly considered valid. People may disagree with him, but that's his opinion and it's just as good as anyone's. If I, however, as a woman, say that I don't find Cameron Diaz that pretty or that Julia Roberts does not deserve an Oscar, cause whatever role she's in, she can only play Julia Roberts, my judgement is immediately suspect and any comment I make on female celebrities will be greeted by derisive feline onomatopoeias and offers of «a saucer of milk with that?». From men. The women simply either agree or disagree.
To summarize: male opinions on other males or females = ok; female opinions on other females = boo! meow! Conclusion: Women are not entitled to a rational acceptance of their opinions, by virtue of their gender.
Monday, October 24, 2005
All this sounds complicated, but it's actually just a family reunion, a bit like Thanksgiving or Christmas in North America. My children did not want to go, but most of my living relatives were there, three generations around the dining table. My aunt made some chicken curry, but everybody else brought catered food, cause who has time to cook nowadays: eggrolls, roasted duck, strawberry pie, etc.. Grandpa's spirit was invited to come and partake of the food and then it's our turn to stuff our face.
At every family reunion, there's always a relative who's a big mouth and dominates the conversation. That role was played by my aunt's older brother, Mr. Know-It-All. My mother, who's not used to playing second fiddle, kept trying to outtalk him, but she's too old and too weak, so she did what women always do when they are losing an argument: she veered the conversation towards a typical female subject: trying to find a wife for my aunt's son, a 26-year-old photographer. Uncle Know tried feebly to interject an opinion, but we all knew he lost the battle.
Meanwhile, the hotshot photographer, who's shuttling between New York, Paris, Milan and Montreal for his work, taking pictures of gorgeous top models and having the time of his life, tried to explain to my mother, as politely as he could, that he was not interested, but we're talking about my mother here! I predict a wedding by next spring.
P.S. [25 October 2005] I forgot to mention that, in trying to warn her nephew against the life of sin and debauchery that he is leading, my mother compared New York to «Sorbonne et Gonorrhée».
Sunday, October 23, 2005
We live in a twisted world, where right is wrong and wrong reigns supreme. It is a chilling fact that most of the world's leaders believe in nonsensical fairytales about the nature of reality. They believe in Gods that do not exist, and religions that could not possibly be true. We are driven to war after war, violence on top of violence to appease madmen who believe in gory mythologies.
These men are called Christians, Muslims and Jews.
Osama bin Laden is insane. He believes God whispered in the ear of Mohammed 1,400 years ago about how he should conquer Arabia. Mohammed was a pure charlatan -- and a good one at that. He makes present religious frauds like Pat Robertson look like amateurs.
He said God told him to have sex with as many of the women he met as possible. I'm sorry, I meant to say "take them as wives." God told him to kill all other tribes that stood in his way or that would not placate him with assurances of loyalty or bribes. God told him, conveniently, that everyone should follow him and never question a word he said.
He sold this bag of goods to the blithering idiots who lived in the Arabian Peninsula at the time. If that weren't shockingly stupid enough, over a billion people continue to believe the convenient lies that Mohammed told all that time ago -- to this very day.
We live in a world full of insane people. Sanity is an island battered in an ocean of frothing delusion. The people who believe in science are the minority. The people who believe in bloody fairytales are the overwhelming majority.
George W. Bush is the most powerful man alive. He is a class A imbecile. He is far less intelligent than the average Christian. But like most of the others, he believes Jesus died for his sins. That idea is so perverse and devoid of logic it should shock the conscience. Instead, it gets him elected, and earns him the reverence of a great percentage of America. America! The most advanced country in the world -- run by a bunch of villagers who still believe Santa Claus is going to save them.
There is no fucking Easter Bunny. There is no Jesus waiting to return. Moses never even existed. These were all convenient lies from the men of those times to gain power. Their actions were rational -- they wanted to deceive their brethren so that they could amass power. I get their motivations. But I cannot, for the life of me, understand our motivations, thousands of years later, still following the conmen of yesteryear into our gory, bloody, violent end.
Jesus is said to have said on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Because Jesus was insane and the God he thought would rescue him did not exist. And he died on that cross like a fool. He fancied himself the son of God and he could barely convince twelve men to follow him at a time when the world was full of superstition.
Excellent marketing by some of his followers would later rescue his botched effort. How many people saw his miracles? One? Twelve? Eighty? Why didn't he show the whole world? Not because this is some giant pop quiz by God to test us -- but because he did not perform any miracles!
Even his apostles can't agree on what miracles he supposedly carried out or when he carried them out. Or whether he returned after death or he didn't. Whether they saw him in person or just as a vision. Rational human beings shouldn't believe this kind of nonsense. Yet most of the world does.
If a man today killed his only son to show how much he loved other people, he would be considered a madman, locked in jail and earn society's contempt. Yet we think this is some sort of noble act by our Father in Heaven.
In Heaven? What, with the harps and the winged angels and the 72 virgins? My God, how stupid do you have to be to believe that?
I know most of you don't actually read your religious texts, and when you do, you assiduously try to avoid the parts that make no sense whatsoever or hide underneath the comforting grasp of your religious leaders who have concocted a bunch of circular logic (a crime to even use that word in regards to Christianity, Islam or Judaism) to shield you from the obvious folly of the written text.
So, I'm not calling you stupid if you haven't really read the material. And I know how powerful brainwashing is. We all received it when we were young and it is exceedingly difficult to break its grasp. But people dance around the issue out of politeness because they don't want to call you what you are -- ignorant.
There are a lot of people I love dearly and respect wholeheartedly who believe in religion. I hate to do this to them. But we have killed far too many people, wasted far too much time on this nonsense for us to keep going in this direction for fear of offense.
Jesus was a lunatic. God is not coming to your rescue. He hasn't come to anyone's rescue in thousands of years, including Jesus. Mohammed was a power hungry, scam artist and ruthless conqueror. Moses and Abraham were figments of the imagination of some long dead rabbi. He would probably laugh his ass off at all of you who still believe the fairytales he made up thousands of years ago. He probably wouldn't even believe it if you told him.
Did I mention Judaism? The chosen people? Come on, get off it. People walk around in clothes from 18th century Russia, thinking they have been chosen by God when they look like a bunch of jackasses. I'm tired of all the deaths because we did not want to give offense. Orthodox Jews are wrong and ridiculous.
As are the orthodox and fundamentalists of all of the religions. It says in the Bible that it is an abomination to wear clothes made of two different cloths or to eat shellfish. If you think God will hate you because you mixed wool and linen or because you ate some shrimp, you are insane.
How long are we going to dance around the 800-pound gorilla in the room? The world is run by madmen. It's not just Bush and bin Laden. It is the leader of all of the countries in the Middle East, almost all of the Americas and most of the rest of the world.
Have I offended you? That's too bad. Stop killing each other in the name of false and ridiculous Gods and I will stop ridiculing you. Trust me, your offense is much worse than mine.
Right now as you read this, there are ignorant, hateful Muslims teaching other ignorant Muslims how to put on a suicide belt. There are orthodox Jews telling other Jews how they must never leave their "holy land" no matter what the consequences are to other human beings. They assure their followers -- remember, they are not the chosen ones, we are. If we crush and oppress them, don't worry, God will excuse it, and even desires it, because He is on our side.
There are maniacal Christians who are praying for the end of time. Who are hoping that most of the world's population is wiped off the face of the Earth by their vengeful and murderous God. Whom they believe is, ironically, a loving God. Unless, of course, you make the fatal mistake of not kissing his ass and appeasing him, in which case he will slaughter you and condemn you to eternal torture. What kind of sick people believe this?
The kind who live next to you. The kind who voted for George Bush. The kind who send their religious leaders to the White House to argue against even-handedness in the Middle East because it would prevent their sick prophecy. The kind who have undue influence over how we use the greatest and most lethal army ever built by man.
If you don't want to be called ignorant or misinformed, then get informed. Learn the real nature of our universe and put aside old wives tales about resurrected Gods, omniscient prophets and a guy who could split the Red Sea but couldn't find where he's going in the desert for forty years.
It's the year 2005. Let's start acting like it.»
P.S. I am not dumping on Christians, Jews and Muslims in order to prozelytise for Buddhism. I think all organized religions should be abolished. But religions that promise me sex with a bunch of virgins, or a snack of green grapes depending on the translation, or threaten me with torture by fire, after I'm dead, are a little bit too unsophisticate for my taste.