Monday, July 31, 2006

Why Mel Gibson is anti-semitic

Just like Superman and Clark Kent, Mel Gibson and Saddam Hussein have never been seen in public together. Think about it.

Update: Mel Gibson has been condemned and mocked in all the papers and blogs I've been reading, so I don't want to pile on, but this is in response to somebody who teased me because I had a crush on Mel since Mad Max. I stopped watching and liking Mel Gibson since Lethal Weapon 4, a film I immediately disliked because of its racist tone against Jet Li's character, which they tried to hide by having Danny Glover's screen family pretend to be unnaturally nice to those poor Chinese illegal immigrants. Beurk! That was it for me. If I had to choose between Mel Gibson and Jet Li, I'd of course choose a martial artist who has always displayed dignity, courage and honour over a bigoted, sexist old drunk like Mel Gibson.

Meltdown for Mel Gibson? Ooooh! What a world, what a world!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

One can always dream

Defendants in the dock at the Ango-American War Crimes Trial of 2010, held at The Hague under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court

Go there to click for larger picture.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Vidéo du vendredi

Coup de boule! Allez les Bleus!

Auteurs: Emmannuel et Sébastien Lipszyc, patrons du label La Plage Records
Compositeur: Franck Lascombes

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Commies are baaad, m'kay?

Benh Thanh Market

Thirty odd years ago, the fall of South Vietnam and the end of the war started an exodus of thousands of Vietnamese fleeing the arrival of the «conquerors from the North». They ended up settling down in Western Europe, Australia, other Asian countries, but mostly in North America. Today, the Vietnamese diaspora is about 3 million strong. Many Vietnamese emigrants have since gone back to the country but a vast majority of them are still living abroad and remaining very antagonistic towards the current government of Vietnam.

The most vocal group resides in California, where they lobby the American government against any concessions or goodwill gestures towards Vietnam. As a group, they are similar to the Miami Cubans, who have never forgiven Castro for taking the power that they felt belongs to them by divine rights and who are still tediously plotting their comeback.

I read a lot of Vietnamese blogs every day, mainly those written by Western expatriates living and working in Vietnam, but also some written by Vietnamese in Vietnam. I find these blogs more honest and more credible in their description of life in Vietnam, than the blogs written by Vietnamese living abroad or comments from bitter and resentful Vietnamese-Americans of the Miami Cuban School. Most of the latter are mainly crude propagandistic rants that are so remote from facts and reality that I wonder whether the person writing them has been living in a cave for the past thirty years.

Ad hominem insults and criticism of the current Vietnamese government are presented without any proof or references, without any links to credible sources of information. Over the top allegations and accusations are printed in Vietnamese local magazines (I’m talking about North American magazines written in Vietnamese) and blindly accepted by their readers. All this creates an echo chamber where lies and propaganda are mixed and ingurgitated by the same captive audience. Any public figure in the Vietnamese community who dares to raise any question or express any skepticism is immediately accused of treason and branded «communist», which is the ultimate insult. Any individual or artistic group that has any connection with Vietnam is immediately boycotted. And of course, lecturers, entertainers, etc. from Vietnam are also boycotted and hounded by demonstrators to make sure that nobody can hear their messages or watch their performances. All that in the name of freedom, mind you, to protest the absence of, in Vietnam.

This is why I would like to reproduce below part of an expat’s blog in Saigon:

«A capitalist, consumer culture has taken root with a vengeance here. It's almost as if the Vietnamese are in overdrive to make up for 25 years of economic stagnation. Everywhere I see evidence of a burgeoning middle class and the trappings of wealth -- DVD shops (pirated, but obvious evidence of DVD players) , florists, photo studios, refrigerators, LCD HDTVs, glossy fashion magazines, etc.

Yesterday I went to a Walmart-type store crammed with toasters, cookies, cell phones, audio equipment, shampoo, cosmetics, pots and pans, produce, a bakery (the Vietnamese bake excellent bread), clothing, stationery, rice cookers -- you name it, this place had it. Except for the checkout girls wearing ao dais, It felt pretty much like any similar store in Des Moines or Milwaukee. It warmed my heart.

Some find it fashionable to bemoan the spread of wealth and market-based economies across the world. "Everything is being Starbuck-ized!" they complain as they sip their lattes or Pinot Noir. Certainly the free market has its ugly spots. But I challenge any of those people to spend 40 years working from dawn until dusk plowing fields with a water buffalo and living in a dirt-floor house. I'm pretty sure they would politely decline. Instead, they would go to the local Whole Foods and drop a wad on overpriced organic produce and free-range chicken packaged in tidy, sanitized containers. Just like the Vietnamese.»

Magazine stand


Here are some of the blogs about Vietnam that I mentioned earlier. Go read them and make your own opinions. Ignorance is not a good option.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Two Chinese Guys Are Back!

With two songs!
The first one is «Da da da», a German song dedicated to the 2006 FIFA World Cup: "Ich liebe dich nicht, Du liebst mich nicht".

And the second one is «Dont'Lie» from Black Eyed Peas. Enjoy!

The Two Chinese Boys' official blog:

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Thank You Party

The luncheon on my balcony
(I'm leaning on the new railing)

For the past two years (since we moved into our new place), I’ve been trying to save enough money to replace the balcony. The railings and one of the supporting beams were rotting away and the whole structure was very unsafe. The cost I was quoted was $13,000. Who has that kind of money?

The Ex, that's who. When he discovered the extent of the damage, he promised to take care of the repair and he did keep his promise. With the new balcony and railing in place, in gratitude for his kindness, we decided to invite him and his two kids over to celebrate the new amenities.

Last Sunday was the Thank-you-for-your-kindness party. Each of the occupants of the house had to provide at least one dish. Asparagus, who was supposed to make some Vichyssoise from scratch, instead brought a roast chicken, chips and a case of Iced Tea. B-Boy made some spaghetti with pesto. K8 whipped up her famous shrimp curry and it was so good, the Ex asked for the recipe. As for me, I threw some shrimp-paste-on-sugar-cane-sticks on the BBQ and provided dessert: two cakes (a lime cheese cake and a pear-blueberry pie), both to die for (and I don’t mean by food poisoning).

Of course, we ran out of propane in the middle of grilling and had to drive to the nearest Home Depot for a refill. But all in all, the weather was great, and everybody had a fantastic time. [We did miss you Meiko! And your sushi!]

Next step: to convince the Ex to finance the bathroom renovation.

So, the bathroom, whaddaya say? Is that a yes?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lessons From Today's Peace March

From: the N.Y. Times []
U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis

WASHINGTON, July 21 — The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.


Psychopath (sy'-co-path) n. 1. A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse. 2. The current President of the United States.

Cenk Uygur gets it:
In the old empires, there would be a lot of marriages between the royal families. And from time to time, these inter-family marriages would produce a mentally challenged son who would inherit the throne. This would set the empire back for hundreds of years. I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying. Russia is big and so is China.

From: Buddhism Dictionary on Karma []

Karma : Volition, volitional or intentional activity.

Karma is always followed by its fruit, Vipaka. Karma and Vipaka are oftentimes referred to as the law of causality, a cardinal concern in the Teaching of the Buddha.

Common karma: the difference between personal and common karma can be seen in the following example: Suppose a country goes to war to gain certain economic advantages and in the process, numerous soldiers and civilians are killed or maimed. If a particular citizen volunteers for military services and actually participates in the carnage, he commits a personal karma of killing. Other citizens, however, even if opposed to the war, may benefit directly or indirectly (e.g., through economic gain). They are thus said to share in the common karma of killing of their country.

Fixed karma: in principle, all karma is subject to change. Fixed karma, however, is karma which can only be changed in extraordinary circumstances, because it derives from an evil act committed simultaneously with mind, speech and body. An example of fixed karma would be a premeditated crime [like unilaterally starting a war, may be?] versus a crime of passion.

From: Tricycle's Daily Dharma: July 23, 2006 []

The theory of karma should not be confused with so-called "moral justice" or "reward and punishment." The idea of moral justice, or reward and punishment, arises out of the conception of a supreme being, a God, who sits in judgment, who is a law-giver and who decides what is right and wrong. The term "justice" is ambiguous and dangerous, and in its name more harm than good is done to humanity. The theory of karma is the theory of cause and effect, of action and reaction; it is a natural law, which has nothing to do with the idea of justice or reward and punishment. Every volitional action produces its effects or results. If a good action produces good effects and a bad action bad effects, it is not justice, or reward, or punishment meted out by anybody or any power sitting in judgment on your action, but this is in virtue of its own nature, its own law. This is not difficult to understand. But what is difficult is that, according to the karma theory, the effects of a volitional action may continue to manifest themselves even in a life after death.

--Walpola Rahula in What the Buddha Taught
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Buddhist Hell

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday's Video

Update: I forgot to specify that it's Frank Caliendo on Letterman.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Teach your children well

Israeli girls writing messages on bomb shells

Lebanese children at the receiving end

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Too Damn Hot!!!!

How many showers or baths can one take a day?

I can't stand it!!!

That's it! We're leaving for the North Pole.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My son's daily routine

It's summer and son B-Boy comes home late every night.


«Hi Mom! I'll eat quickly, have a shower and walk the dog before going to .... Zzzzz...»

La raison du plus faible

Je reproduis ci-après un article de Ziyad MAKHOUL, publié dans le quotidien libanais L'Orient-Le Jour [], qui présente la perspective libanaise du conflit Israël-Hezbollah, pour ceux qui sont paumés devant la complexité de cet affrontement.

Beyrouth, lundi 17 juillet 2006 - Lorsque l’on vit dans un pays en voie de convalescence, que cette convalescence dépend absolument, entre autres, de la bonne santé de l’État et de son autorité, de la réussite d’une saison touristique qui s’annonçait radieuse, et de la convivialité entre ses habitants ; lorsque l’on a pour voisin un pays dont les gouvernements successifs ont quasiment élevé les crimes de guerre et les crimes contre l’humanité au rang de clauses constitutionnelles ; lorsque l’on accepte de jouer le jeu du dialogue national, et lorsqu’on est les seuls à jouir encore d’un privilège que tous les autres Libanais ont abandonné bon gré mal gré : la possession d’armes, on ne s’aventure pas, on ne s’amuse pas à kidnapper deux soldats israéliens, aussi pressantes que soient les demandes irano-syriennes en ce sens. On ne s’amuse pas à donner à l’État hébreu, sur un plateau endiamanté, la chance de sa vie, ou presque. On ne s’amuse pas à faire en sorte que la communauté internationale, à l’unanimité, donne son feu vert à Israël pour en finir avec les armes du Hezbollah – l’absence de décision au Conseil de sécurité et les conditions martiennes posées par le G8 pour un cessez-le-feu sont deux preuves, s’il en fallait. On ne s’amuse pas à déclarer une guerre ouverte, en faveur de la oumma arabe qui plus est, quand le gouvernement libanais s’époumone à appeler au cessez-le-feu, et quand le Liban risque de crever alors que les autres prospèrent. On ne s’amuse pas. Maintenant, c’est fait.

L’insensée criminalité du gouvernement Olmert, ou de ses généraux comme d’aucuns se plaisent à le soutenir, ne répond plus en rien aux vœux des Grands, États-Unis inclus, qui ne cessent de l’appeler à la retenue, à la proportion, tout en promettant au Liban, mezzo voce, de l’aider sensiblement à (se) reconstruire. Pour mettre un terme à l’hystérie meurtrière d’Israël, pour compenser la cassure définitive de l’équilibre de la terreur et ses infernales conséquences sur le Liban, même le retour des deux prisonniers capturés par le Hezb ne servirait à rien.

Ce que la communauté internationale veut, et le déterminant Jacques Chirac a été très clair, c’est l’application de ce qui reste de la résolution 1559 : le déploiement de l’armée partout, et le monopole, pour elle, des armes, de toutes les armes. Ce sont les conditions d’Israël ? On s’en moque. Pourquoi ? Parce que voilà ce que se tue à demander, depuis son entrée en fonctions, il y a bientôt exactement un an, le gouvernement de Fouad Siniora. Et c’est bien là le plus triste. Sans la volonté, l’envie, le besoin de quelques-uns de garder le Liban ouvert, nu, à tous les vents mauvais, à tous les coups de fouet, rien, absolument rien des tragédies humaines et économiques que vit le Liban depuis cinq jours ne se serait produit.

Reste la volonté d’un homme, sa détermination, sa sueur, son émotion, ses larmes, et qui ne cesse de marteler que pour mieux endiguer Israël, pour mieux le combattre, pour mieux lui résister, la seule solution est d’afficher face à lui un État libanais fort, blindé, immunisé. Soutenir cet homme et son équipe, engoncés dans les infinis décombres de ce qu’ils ont hérité, les seconder dans leur combat quotidien contre les hécatombes programmées d’Israël : c’est, aujourd’hui, la moins pire et la plus impérieuse des solutions. Même un Nabih Berry, auquel on pardonnera ses écarts antiarabes, semble avoir compris cela : son appel au cessez-le-feu, aux antipodes des velléités belliqueuses de son partenaire de résistance, Hassan Nasrallah, tombe à pic, à la fois pour renforcer le gouvernement Siniora et pour lui redonner une place en or, qu’il avait pratiquement totalement perdue, au sein de sa communauté.

Les efforts du gouvernement pour l’obtention de ce cessez-le-feu sont terriblement dépendants, évidemment, des aléas régionaux et internationaux ; sans doute aussi, du bon plaisir de l’un ou de l’autre des belligérants sur le sol libanais. Mais ces efforts obligent les Libanais à une solidarité optimale, certes, mais aussi, surtout, à la compréhension urgente, commune, collective, citoyenne et nationale, d’une ligne d’or constitutionnelle : le Liban n’est pas Gaza, les Libanais ne sont pas des Palestiniens, les Libanais n’ont plus le droit de résister pour les autres, à la place des autres, et aider ainsi, sans le vouloir sans doute, à l’assassinat programmé de leur pays ; bref, en un mot, que le Liban et les Libanais ont le devoir de vivre. Sha’ou am abaw. En français : qu’ils le veuillent ou non. Ils le veulent. Il paraît qu’il y a des terres brûlées qui donnent plus de blé que le meilleur des avrils.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

At least it's not Apple or Moon Unit

HANOI, Vietnam []

After nearly two decades of ridicule, a Vietnamese young man has finally been able to change his name from "Fined Six Thousand and Five Hundred" to a more traditional one.

Angry that he was being fined for having a fifth child, the father Mai Xuan Can named his son Mai Phat Sau Nghin Ruoi, after the amount (6,500 dong) he was forced to pay for ignoring Vietnam's two-child policy. Local government officials pleaded with him in vain to change the name since the boy was constantly being teased by classmates at school.

Recently, with the help of an older sister, the son, now 19, finally got official permission to change his name to Mai Hoang Long, or 'Golden Dragon'. But you know what? May be Father knows best, after all, and the son may end up regretting the change. Considering that 6,500 dong is equal to 50 American cents, Mai Hoang Long may want to go back to his original name. Cause, really now, what's a cooler name for a 19-year old boy? 50 Cent or Golden Dragon?

I rest my case.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bonne Fête de la Bastille

À l'occasion du 14 juillet, je dédie ce vidéo à mes amis français: «Les liaisons vachement dangereuses», avec Jean-Claude Van Damme dans le rôle du Vicomte de Valmont (je sais, il est belge, mais je n'ai rien trouvé avec Depardieu) et John Malkovich (encore moins français que Van Damme) dans le rôle de la Marquise de Merteuil. Feux d'artifice garantis!!!11!!

Update: So it didn't work out between Van Damme and Malkovich, BUT: have you ever wondered about the chances of a relationship between Van Damme and you? Me neither. But if you do, go to and find out.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

More Origami

I just found out about Origamiwolf who posts pictures of his work on Flicker:

Here are some samples, but click on the link and feast your eyes!

P.S. Sorry, I screwed up the placement of the pictures and don't know how to fix it. From left to right, top down: Dragon, Wolverine and 12-headed Hydra (although I can only count 10).

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

They never taught me ninja skills in Geneva

As you all know, I am a translator-interpreter, whose duties sometimes involve accompanying statesmen and delegates in their official travels.

I have impeccable credentials (on top of being the most modest and humble person in the world), having studied translation and interpretation in Geneva, Switzerland.

However, I have to hang my head in shame when I learned, via Down and Out in Sàigòn [], of the heroic actions taken by a Chinese interpreter to defend the honour of his clients.

«Two foreigners and their Chinese interpreter fought with eight restaurant patrons in Beijing early yesterday morning, and fled the scene after the interpreter stabbed seven of them, Beijing News reported today []

"The two foreigners and their male interpreter just finished paying for their meal, but as they got up to leave the restaurant, eight customers from another table suddenly started shouting at them and began throwing wine bottles and chairs in their direction," said a waiter who witnessed the incident, which occurred at a Xinjiang flavor restaurant around 1am yesterday. The waiter said the foreigners have mustaches and blond hair [As good an explanation as any for the sudden attack].

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing. When I looked at the floor, I saw people badly hurt and bleeding," said the waiter.

However, a relative of the injured people gave another version of what happened.

The interpreter came to the table of 8 and asked them to apologize to the foreigners because the group had "stared at them too long," the relative told the newspaper, quoting a victim.

"Their requirement was refused," said the relative. "The Chinese interpreter relayed the refusal to the foreigners and then he came back to the table and attacked and stabbed three of them, and continued to chase the other five who were trying to escape, stabbing another four."

The seven injured are still in hospital and one is in critical condition, as he was stabbed very close to his heart, said the hospital. The only uninjured male of the eight Chinese customers fled the scene. »

I'm so ashamed! I wasted my time studying at the École de traduction et d'interprétation de l'Université de Genève, where they only taught..well, translation and interpretation. Instead, I should have knelt for weeks under the rain in front of the gate of the Shaolin School of Interpretation and Urban Combat, in order to gain admission and acquire the necessary skills for my profession. I made the wrong choice in life.

To think I could have looked as cool as these two new graduates (Class of 2006).

New Beauty Contest Rules in Vietnam

If you have watched the beauty pageants featured in various Paris by Night or other Vietnamese variety shows, you couldn't help but notice that the contestants were not particularly bright. In one recent contest, all the candidates were extremely young, physically and mentally, and they all parroted exactly the same lines: [breathy baby voice] «I would like to thank my mommy and my daddy». «The Vietnamese language is the breath of Vietnam», «My greatest concern is when I couldn't find my mommy's credit card to go shopping, tee hee!», etc.

If you were bothered by such display of intellectual deficiency in such beautiful bodies, cheer up, cause things are gonna change.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Culture and Information has adopted new regulations aiming at improving the level of maturity in the contestant pool. Now, entrants must be at least 18 years old (instead of 16 as before) and they must be graduates of senior high schools or higher education and have yet to undergo any cosmetic surgery or sex change. [I guess I'd better wait till after I win to have that operation].

The new rules also straighten the tangled Miss Vietnam crown fiasco, stating that only winners of any beauty pageant in Vietnam are eligible to enter international beauty contests under the title of Miss Vietnam.

Finally, proficiency in English is a must for those who want to take part in international beauty contests. And of course, no beauty pageants can be organized at high schools, historical relics or religious places. []

Duh...Uhh... “Math is hard!” “I love shopping!”“Will we ever have enough clothes?”

Monday, July 10, 2006

New Study on Vietnamese wildlife


Vietnamese wildlife still paying a high price for chemical warfare
By Jessie King, 08 July 2006 -

Forty years on, much of the environmental damage caused to Vietnam by American forces during the Vietnam War has still not been repaired, according to a new study [Vietnam: A Natural History, published by Yale University Press.]

In particular, the effects of the massive amounts of chemical defoliants sprayed from the air to destroy the jungle hiding places of the Vietcong guerrillas are still being felt, says the study, the first comprehensive account of Vietnam's natural history written in English.

Between 1961 and 1971, more than 20 million gallons of herbicides, the most notorious being "Agent Orange", were sprayed by the US to defoliate forests, clear growth along the borders of military sites and eliminate enemy crops.

Some of the herbicides also contained dioxins - compounds potentially harmful to people and wildlife - while one, "Agent Blue" - used mainly for crop destruction - was made up mainly of an organic arsenic compound. Repeated applications of the chemicals "sometimes eradicated all vegetation", according to the study, and the environment has still not recovered in many places. Weedy plant species such as alang-alang (also known as cogon or American grass) often invaded cleared areas, killing other plants and preventing normal regeneration of the forest. "In many areas, these weeds continue to dominate the landscape decades after the defoliants were sprayed," says the study.

As the spray was often concentrated along strategic waterways, it is believed to have had a long-term impact on wetlands and riverside vegetation. Scientists are finding that dioxins still surface in freshwater animals. The study adds: "In addition to effects on individuals, the defoliants undoubtedly modified species distribution patterns through habitat degradation and loss, particularly in wetland systems."

Direct attempts to eradicate Vietnam's forests were not the only military activities to affect its environment. The estimated 14 million tons of bombs or cluster-bombs dropped on to northern and southern Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia left an estimated 10 to 15 million large bomb craters.

In addition to the effects of these bombs, the impact of napalm, land mines, and other wartime technology on Vietnam's biological communities must also be taken into account, says the study.

The study has been written by three wildlife specialists at the American Museum of Natural History - Eleanor Jane Sterling, Martha Maud Hurley and Vietnamese expert Le Duc Minh. They say: "A country uncommonly rich in plants, animals and natural habitats, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam shelters a significant portion of the world's biological diversity, including rare and unique organisms and an unusual mixture of tropical and temperate species."

Most remarkably of all, in the past 15 years a whole suite of species hitherto unknown to science has been discovered in Vietnam, deep in jungles where scientific access had been made impossible by the war.

They include the saola, a large hoofed mammal of an entirely new genus - an antelope-like wild ox which is the world's largest land-dwelling animal discovered since 1937.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Magical Sunday Night

Moon rising behind my house

Tonight is the last night of the Montreal 27th Jazz Festival and my son the B-Boy has asked me to come see his final show. I have avoided going to the previous shows with various excuses (I'm busy, the dog is sick, it's raining, etc.) but now I'm like a cornered rat: no more excuses, no way out.

It turned out to be not too bad. His venue was a bit out of the way, so there was no huge mass of people milling about, ready to crush me, like I feared. After the show, I decided to walk home. I live quite a long way from the Festival location, but I was wearing confortable shoes and I had my mp3 player and earphones on, so I survived the ordeal. But that super long walk made me realize how nice Montreal can be in the summer. The roads were full of cars, inching along bumper to bumper, many of them adorned with the Italian flag. They were honking incessantly, their passengers hollering and whooping in celebration of Italy's victory over France. Pedestrians on the sidewalks were waving and clapping, huge grins on every face. A frigging traffic jam at night and the ambiance was loving kindness all around.

Lots of tourists, of course, but also lots of local couples walking hand in hand. The girls all had big frizzy hair and they were wearing low hanging mini skirts and super short tops, revealing adipose hips and distended bellies. The rule seemed to be: the bigger the belly, the barer it was. Their wedged high heels made their feet look like hooves, and they had a cellphone pressed to their ear. And their voices! Even with my earphones on and the volume turned on high, I could still hear their high-pitched nasal voices and their shrieking laughs over the honking and yelling from the traffic. You'd think the boyfriends would look at them with revulsion and nausea, but no, they smiled on their girls adoringly, so I guess I'm just an old coot.

As I approached my house, suddenly all the circumstances converged to create a perfect moment. There was an evening breeze and the moon was out: huge, with a tinge of orange and hanging low in the sky. I was alone in the street and the mp3 player hit a Beatle song, so I was able to sing out loud:
You say you've seen seven wonders
And your bird is green,

But you can't see me,
You can't see.....MEEEEEEE!!!!


Friday, July 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, Ocean of Wisdom!

Picture from:

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, is 71, being born on July 6, 1935. According to Tibetan predictions, he will be the last Dalai Lama. As indicated in Wikipedia:
The current Dalai Lama has repeatedly stated that he will never be reborn inside territory controlled by the People's Republic of China, and has occasionally suggested that he might choose to be the last Dalai Lama by not being reborn at all. However, he has also stated that the purpose of his repeated incarnations is to continue unfinished work and, as such, if the situation in Tibet remains unchanged, it is very likely that he will be reborn to finish his work. Additionally, in the draft constitution of future Tibet, the institution of the Dalai Lama can be revoked at any time by a democratic majority vote of two-thirds of the Assembly. It is also worth mentioning that the 14th Dalai Lama has stated "Personally, I feel the institution of the Dalai Lama has served its purpose."
How does one appropriately celebrate the birthday of a man who is revered as a God and is believed to be the human manifestation of Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion? Being a Nobel Prize winner is not too shabby either. And it's also cool to have a special doll made to one's image. Not to mention that, on June 22, 2006, the Parliament of Canada voted unanimously to make Tenzin Gyatso an honorary citizen of Canada. It is the third time in history that the Government of Canada has bestowed this honour.

Hello Dalai Dolly!

Some quotations from The Man himself []

-"In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher."

-"I am a simple Buddhist monk - no more, no less."

-"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."

-"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."

-"All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness ... the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives."

-"The very purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticise others. Rather, we must criticise ourselves. How much am I doing about my anger? About my attachment, about my hatred, about my pride, my jealousy? These are the things which we must check in daily life."

-"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

-"It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come."

-"Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself. It is wrong to expect some final satisfaction to come from money or from a computer."

-"Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength."

-"Buddhism does not accept a theory of God, or a creator. According to Buddhism, one's own actions are the creator, ultimately. Some people say that, from a certain angle, Buddhism is not a religion but rather a science of mind. Religion has much involvement with faith. Sometimes it seems that there is quite a distance between a way of thinking based on faith and one entirely based on experiment, remaining skeptical. Unless you find something through investigation, you do not want to accept it as fact. From one viewpoint, Buddhism is a religion, from another viewpoint Buddhism is a science of mind and not a religion. Buddhism can be a bridge between these two sides. Therefore, with this conviction I try to have closer ties with scientists, mainly in the fields of cosmology, psychology, neurobiology and physics. In these fields there are insights to share, and to a certain extent we can work together."

-"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."

- (On why Tibet receives little attention from the rest of the world) "Tibet is not like Kuwait. Kuwait has oil."

So happy belated birthday, Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso ("Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom"), Yeshe Norbu ("Wish-Fulfilling Gem"), Kundun ("the Presence") !!!!1!!11!! Yay!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The 43,269th victim*

Photo: Hadi Mizban / AP

Home Free: American Power in Mahmudiyah
Written by Chris Floyd
Monday, 03 July 2006

Did you see her and want her so bad, that young, forbidden fruit? Did she once smile nervously at the checkpoint, and you thought it was just for you? Did you come on strong the next time around, flash a little money maybe, or lay a syrupy line on her that you got from a phrasebook? What did she do – recoil? Look away? Look disgusted? Look blank? What did she do to bring on the big hurt from a big, tough man like you?

So you planned it all out. You cased the house, you reconnoitred. You got your buddies in on it – or were they in from the start, did they make a play too, were they too turned away by this haughty Arab bitch, this piece of trash from a shitheap town in a shitheap country filled with nothing but lazy, lying, murdering towelheads? Somebody like that thinks they're too good to give it up to you? You liberated her goddamned country, for Christ's sake, and now she won't even put out? That dog won't hunt. Hell no. You and your pals had to teach her a lesson. You had the power, you had the guns, you were Americans; who was going to stop you?

So you set up the mission. You knew how to do it. How many houses had you raided before? Dozens, hundreds – who the hell knows? Who the hell cares? You went in and got her, you did what you wanted to her. You shoved the other hajjis into the next room, put a gun on them, then got down to business. Did your buds take a turn? Everybody get a taste? Or maybe you'd already ruined her before they got a chance – beat her, tore her, pounded her into goo? Who the hell knows? Who the hell cares? At some point, she just wasn't worth it anymore. No fight left in her. Laid there like a limp rag. Passed out maybe.

So you took out your gun, you took out your power, you took out the thing that makes you an American – a real person, a human being --- instead of a walking piece of shit like everyone else in that godforsaken hellhole of a country, you took it out and you shot her in the head. One shot, clean kill. Did you say anything? Crack a joke? "Not tonight, honey, I've got a headache." Or did you just stand there and curse her, puking your self-righteous rage all over her dead body?

Who took charge after that? Was it you, or one of the others? It all started moving so fast, like a dream had been broken – or maybe this was the dream? Maybe it was all a dream, the whole fucking thing, from day one, all of it nothing, happening to nobody, going on nowhere, never. But the smell was real, you couldn't get away from it, that wet smell, meat and guts in a slime of blood. It filled your nose, filled up your whole head behind your face, it lined your throat, coated your skin. And if the smell was real, then the whole thing….

Move, fast, now! The hajjis in the other room: no witnesses, goddamn it! Who's this, the mother? Head shot, head shot, down. Who's this old bastard? Father, brother? Who cares? Head shot, head shot, in the face, down. And what's this? Oh for Christ's sake, how old is she? Six? Seven? Eight? What are you going to do, wait till she grows up and comes looking for your ass? Catch her, goddamn it, just shoot, shoot! Down.

Now burn the other one. Yeah, the bitch in the other room. Set her on fire and get the hell out. Report terrorist activity. The Sunni bastards in the area. Secure the perimeter. Get your fucking story straight and keep your fucking mouth shut. We're home free. Home free….

Is that how it went down? Does it still feel good? They got two of your brothers from the same platoon later, chopped off their heads. Reckon that was payback? Now the squealers are coming out. It's in the goddamned papers. The brass are going to throw you to the dogs. They can be big men, they can rape whole countries, kill tens of thousands -- but just let some grunt try to get a little on the retail side, and all hell breaks loose. It just ain't fair.

Well, buddy, what can we say? You should have your fun last year, when there wasn't an election. Nobody would have paid a blind bit of notice. And you should have called in an airstrike, not that half-assed burning job – nothing buries evidence like a 500-pound bomb.

The only thing now is to get a good military lawyer. The ones they got working for those Gitmo goobers seem like top-notch shysters – they just beat Bush at the Supreme Court, so try to get one of them. Then just hunker down. If you can string it out long enough, Bush's media brigades can start working the refs for you, muddying the waters, smearing your accusers, providing the proper context, invoking 9/11. (And speaking of 9/11, isn't that what it's really all about? Isn't that what you were really doing when you raped that girl and shot her in the head and burned her body and killed her family – defending our country from those who attacked us on that tragic day? What you did was justice, damn it, not a crime! Just like the whole war.) Meanwhile, Rummy will pull the insider strings to water things down to a wrist-slap somewhere along the line – after the elections.

So don't sweat it, brother. You and your pals might be home free yet.

*Total estimated number of Iraqi war victims, according to

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Xe Ôm

Hurry up, man! My tail is getting wet..

These pictures were taken by Pawan Kumar for Reuters, during a recent flood in India []

Deux autres solitudes

Picture from:

Richard est l'homme à tout faire du quartier. Tous les week-ends, il fait le tour du quartier pour voir si on n'a pas besoin de ses services. Aujourd'hui justement, j'ai besoin de planter des fleurs et des buissons qu'un ami vient de me donner. Richard s'acquitte très bien de la tâche et une fois fini, il vient me voir pour être payé. Notre conversation:

- C'est fini, venez voir, tout est planté selon vos instructions.
- Très bien, Richard. Merci beaucoup, voici votre argent.
- Merci Madame. Dites-moi, est-ce que je peux faire caca sur votre vérandah?
- Pardon?
- Est-ce que je peux faire caca sur votre vérandah?
- Mais vous êtes fou! Allez faire vos besoins chez vous!
- Mais puisque vous n'en voulez pas, pourquoi ne pas me les donner, m'en vais faire quelques sous avec.
- Vous faites de l'argent avec votre caca?
- Ben, je les échange chez l'épicier. Ça me permet d'acheter quelques gâteries, des biscuits..
- What the...!!?!!?!!!??

Finalement, voici l'explication: Richard voulait que je lui donne les cannettes de Pepsi et autres que j'accumule dans un coin de la vérandah, et que lui appelle des «cacannes».

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