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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fumer ou écrire ?

"Dans les célèbres vers d'Apollinaire:

Mais moi qui veux fumer pour faire des mirages
J'allume au feu du jour ma cigarette.
Je ne veux pas travailler - je veux fumer.

La question devient alors : fumer ou écrire ? Au commencement du célèbre conte Une volupté nouvelle, la conscience du narrateur, poète et fumeur assidu, tout comme Louÿs lui-même, est le théâtre d'un combat entre le désir (de fumer) et la volonté (d'écrire)...

Le fait de ne pas fumer peut lui-même engendrer l'écriture : les fumeurs repentis content volontiers les épreuves surmontées pour parvenir à la supposée ataraxie dont ils jouissent à présent, comme le narrateur de Lady Nicotine, a study in smoke de J.M. Barrie (1890), si fier d'avoir renoncé au tabac pour le mariage qu'il consacre de longues pages à la façon dont il s'est débarrassé de cette habitude comme d'une maîtresse dont, toutefois, il lui arrive de rêver encore dans son sommeil"

--- Tabac & fumées: Regards multidisciplinaires et indisciplinés sur le tabagisme, XVe-XXe siècles / Catherine Ferland

This was true even 8 years ago

A place @astyrred had been waiting for for years

Menu > Feasting | St. John Restaurant:


"feeds 14-16 guests. One week’s notice needed to guarantee availability. Each pig costs £360.00 and orders for pigs are not processed until we have received an advanced payment for that amount, which will then be deducted from the final bill. Please note that we cannot offer a refund for the advanced payment towards the final bill and we do not offer the Suckling Pig on Sundays"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Links - 26th June 2012

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." - J. R. R. Tolkien

***

Chauvinist Pigs in Space: Why Battlestar Galactica is not so frakking feminist after all. - "The conventional wisdom on Battlestar is that the show takes a strong stand against misogyny... when a fembot dies she flies through a vaguely fallopian-looking tube then wakes up nude in a vat of goo. * Overtly, these are birth scenes. But they are hypersexualized—with lingering thigh-shots and orgasmic-sounding gasping... The most retrograde character is Cally... the way to a man's heart is through his fist—a heartily un-feminist concept—but the strange circumstances surrounding Cally's marriage are less offensive than her death scene... [Cally dies] in a melodramatic, and ultimately nonsensical, fashion. Here we have a society that permits divorce and seems to have plentiful free day care, and yet an otherwise functioning member of that society acts like a Victorian hysteric. The take-away is not that Cally has been driven to desperation by a sexist social order but that she can't contain her feminine irrationality. Cally's death is an example of a worrisome trend: The main female characters are all dying, dead, or not human... Women—the human ones, anyway—just can't hack it when the going gets rough. By contrast, the male characters on the show not only have a better chance of survival; they're also more likely to improve their quality of life through friendship... the Adama-Tigh bromance has no female equivalent, and more often than not, the women bicker among themselves, forming unhealthy rivalries rather than supportive partnerships. Even more insidious than the lack of female friendships are the casual threats of rape made throughout the series... it's discomfiting that the writers drop sexual violence into the script so often without comment. If nothing else, this pervasive threat—directed only at women—negates the idea that Battlestar conjures a gender-blind universe"
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA maybe she should go and watch My Little Pony instead, where real world considerations don't enter, and there aren't human females to hold to unrealistic standards; anti-Cylon bigotry is unacceptable in the 21st century

Battlestar Galactica: Frakking feminist—So say we all! - "The first rule of strong drama is that radically imperfect events happen in the context of radically imperfect human life, as lived by real, flawed, recognizable human beings... It is difficult to discern what Lapidos' expectations are coming to the show: if it "takes a stand against misogyny," so to speak, does that mean all differences between the genders or problems resulting from gendered humanity disappear or have been solved? No other such social problems seem to have been solved in the world of Battlestar; that is the value of the show in a nutshell... I hope Lapidos would not want to claim that for Battlestar to be somehow "truly" or "properly" feminist it must meet a checklist of demands for some arbitrary number of positive portrayals of women"
Another response to the nonsense above; drawing parallels with the concepts of essentialism, anti-essentialism and anti-anti-essentialism, perhaps the best response to feminist nonsense is to be anti-anti-feminist. Ditto for stereotypes - instead of being anti-stereotype we should be anti-anti-stereotype

Fred Landis's answer to Do people find the idea of a man being raped less disturbing than a woman being raped? - Quora - "A woman being raped is a great deal more disturbing because of the children that can and do result."
Would anyone buy the argument that it's worse if a woman cheats on her husband than if a man cheats on his wife (in the context of the relationship), since she might get pregnant?

Jonathan Kirk Davis's answer to Is it better to own a gun for self-defense, or is that more likely to cause problems? - Quora - "The idea that you can bluff your way out of situation is not a good tactic, especially if you are dealing with someone truly violent. If you have a gun it needs to be for the purpose of killing someone when the need comes. If they view that their future lies in keeping you quiet, or if they feel that their life is being threatened (by your gun) they may attack you. In that case you will have to be able to kill him. There is no "shoot the knife out his hand or shoot him in the leg stuff." It sounds nice, but you will be lucky to him him in the chest like your supposed to (see point #3). Do a self analysis and ask could I deal with killing someone, even if they are going to steal my stuff or hurt my family. Yeah your first response is easy to say "You bet I would," but would you really? I have been to Iraq twice and have had to think long and hard about what would it be like if I had to kill someone"

Flashback: Swedish Sensation Gunther On Sex, Champagne and IKEA - "Gunther: Before I became a singer, I was traveling around the world, doing a little modeling, doing fashion things, hooking up with girls and partying, doing all the stuff a good-looking Swedish man should be doing.
"ZOG: You say your philosophy is “champagne, glamour, sex and respect.” Which of the four is most important to you and why? Gunther: Respect is the first one. It’s the most important because if you don’t have respect, bad things happen. If you have respect, you can have sex and love and the whole thing. I am a gentleman style-2000, which means I honor women and follow these four rules."

Shell Advertisement by Keith | Shell - "We at Shell want everyone to feel as "pumped" as we do about freeing much-needed Arctic resources. After all, the Arctic is the common heritage of all humanity, and what we do there matters to everyone. That’s why Shell is inviting you to create your very own Let’s Go! ad for our Arctic campaign. We'll feature it on our website, and you can show all your Facebook friends how pumped you are to seize the day's opportunities too. The best submissions will win exciting prizes—including an all-expenses-paid trip to see the Kulluk in action!"

Paralyzed Man Fighting To Be Euthanized Tweets With His Eyes - "Tony Nicklinson is completely paralyzed. Due to a stroke, Tony is unable to move any part of his body except for his eyes. While he retains all his intelligence and powers of reasoning, he’s been cut off from all conventional means of communication with the world. He finds the condition unbearable enough that he’s actively engaged in a legal battle, attempting to secure the right to end his own life. Oh, and also he’s on Twitter; he tweets with his eyes"

Man charged with stealing rifle at Pasir Laba Camp - "30-year-old Mohammad Ridzuan Jamari was charged with one count of committing robbery while armed with a deadly weapon. He allegedly stole a "SAR 21" rifle from 22-year-old Kang Tai at the camp's Standard Obstacle Course on May 8 this year. Jamari was believed to be armed with a screwdriver, measuring 20 centimetres"

Going to Ethiopia? If you use Skype, you could be there 15 years - "15 years ago owning a satellite dish was a crime, but now the country is "swarmed" by them, and the same goes for credit cards."

Why Is the U.S. Selling Billions in Weapons to Autocrats? - "Every May and June, different branches of the State Department paint contrasting portraits of how Washington views dozens of strategically significant countries around the world, in seemingly rivalrous reports by its Human Rights and Political-Military Affairs bureaus. The former routinely criticizes other nations for a lack of fealty to democratic principles, citing abuses of the right to expression, assembly, speech, and political choice. The latter tallies the government's latest successes in the export of American weaponry, often to the same countries criticized by the former"

Amazon.com: The Irish in Us: Irishness, Performativity, and Popular Culture - "Over the past decade or so, Irishness has emerged as an idealized ethnicity, one with which large numbers of people around the world, and particularly in the United States, choose to identify. Seeking to explain the widespread appeal of all things Irish, the contributors to this collection show that for Americans, Irishness is rapidly becoming the white ethnicity of choice, a means of claiming an ethnic identity while maintaining the benefits of whiteness"

Love activates the same region in the brain as drug addiction

the trouble with brain scans - "Craig Bennett and his colleagues at the University of California did a spoof experiment on a dead salmon. The standard techniques showed "brain activity" in the deceased fish"

Confessions of a recovering Objectivist - "To date, neither Rand nor anyone else has been able to prove definitively that the proverbial soldier who dives on a grenade acts selfishly, not altruistically... Another key concern is that psychological egoism might not be final stage of an individual's ethical development. We start off selfish, say some theorists, but we must move beyond convention and toward post-conventional social contract and conscience for true moral growth"

How a Free Market Run Amok Destroys "Family Values" - "They reported the highest ratings of well-being among children living in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Denmark — nations that, far more than we, tax the rich, regulate industry and provide such public services as paid parental leave, art subsidies and excellent public schools. The lowest overall rank went to nations pursuing the strongest free-market agenda: the U.S. and Britain, both of which ranked in the bottom third for five of the six key dimensions of child well-being"

A shed of one's own - "Breast cancer killed 11,556 UK women in 2009, while prostate cancer killed nearly as many men (10,382). But despite their broadly similar mortality rates, breast cancer receives nearly three times as much site-specific research funding as prostate cancer."

Why isn't male unemployment an issue? - "The last time the male unemployment rate was lower than female was September 1980... All of which makes it strange that, when gender is brought into the unemployment question, it is through headlines like: Female employment hit by public sector cuts and childcare costs
Women told: your place is on the dole
Female unemployment highest for 15 years; outlook bleak... The problem is, men doing badly isn't politically interesting. No-one gets accused of sexism if it occurs; no-one propses gender-targeted intervention, and no-one really suggests that the problem is distinguishable from overall unemployment... men are perceived by society at large as "normal", while women are still relegated to "minority" status, despite making up half the population.

Monday, June 25, 2012

N Vietnam 2012 - Day 3, Part 1 - Hanoi

"First you're an unknown, then you write one book and you move up to obscurity." - Martin Myers

***

N Vietnam 2012
Day 3 - 26th May - Hanoi
(Part 1)

I set off early once again, since this was to be my only full day in Hanoi.

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Temple exterior

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The first dogs I'd seen in Hanoi

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Pho Hang Thiec

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Japanese schoolgirl look

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Another street

The receptionist at the hostel had recommended a bun cha place, but it wasn't ready yet so I had something else for breakfast.

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Vietnamese ngor heong guan qiang (fried stuff), bee hoon, Asian basil

By this time, it was easier to just accept that I was inevitably going to be swindled, andnot ponder equity issues.

Normally I would've been alright with stools, but my thighs were still sore from all the walking I'd done on the first day. Luckily the service at this street food stall was good - the vendor noticed I was uncomfortable and put the stool on the five foot way's step for me (so it was higher), and took my umbrella from me too.

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"We can print anything! Ask here!"
I was tempted to ask if they could print "me love you long time"

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Kebab stand. Notice that it's 20,000 VND despite being a foreign food. This should clue you in as to how much I was being overcharged.

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Another temple's facade

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"Free beer
Free breakfast
Free internet
Free wifi
Free tour information"

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"Propaganda poster & painting. Old propaganda & posters"
Appaently "propaganda" doesn't necessarily have negative connotations here

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Ngo Huyen

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Mix & Match: Pho/Bun/Mien/My + Bo/Ga

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Woman eating noodles in mystery soup which looked more interesting than normal pho. It looked like Vietnamese Laksa.

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Another temple. I was able to enter this one.

They were cleaning up after what were presumably morning prayers.

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Framed Buddhas

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Altar

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Altar closeup

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Another altar. Note the biscuit tins.

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Rack for giant fans (?!)

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Calendar in the Chinese style

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Photo of nuns (?) on the wall

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Another altar with monks' photos

At this point they were done cleaning up and were turning off the lights (before 8am?!), but I was done anyway.

This temple was a good fascimile of a Chinese one (with interesting touches like biscuit tins), and not just a Third Rate knockoff.

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Odd menu: "Pillow - Sea Crab
Saltyfried
Sweet Friedcakes
Shrimp crabhacao
Meat pie
Vegetarian pie
Fried sound nem
Beer of oh fferentkinds
Icee tea
beve rage"
Notice the spacing issues again.

I then visited the Saint Joseph Cathedral.

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Black Cathedral. Note to self: do not build a Neo-Gothic Cathedral in the tropics. At least it had no moss like in Lugo

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No French. Hurr hurr.

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Outside walls, with fleur-de-lys

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Three Wise Men

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Grove

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Relief

The interior had 19th century stained glass, which was okay. Other than that it was a pedestrian cathedral, with its only noteworthy feature being that it was a colonial building and in the tropics. Since it was pedestrian, dark and I saw a no photography sign, I didn't bother.

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Benedict XV needs to Force Lightning his photographer, who always manages to catch him in such creepy poses.

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No cameras from 1910 inside the cathedral.

I was still a bit peckish, when I came across a vendor of sweet fried stuff:

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Vendor of sweet fried stuff

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Tea. This was the most outrageous attempt to swindle me yet (see end of post).

It was very crispy and good (the round one had mung bean inside) but OH THE HUMANITY.

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"Free call when you order"

I then made my way to Hoan Kiem lake, this time by morning.

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The sad pavilion: lonely, blackened, with no access to it.

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Woman with a plastic bag on her head (???)

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At night there'd been the LCD marquee below it

By the lake, I got emotionally blackmailed into buying postcards. They were supposedly 150,000 VND for 10. The vendor was a 38 year old whose 2 legs were supposedly missing (he was on a tricycle-like contraption; maybe he was a victim of Agent Orange). Trying to evoke pity, he debased his humanity, pointing to his missing legs. In response, I objectified him and bought his overpriced postcards (which weren't that nice, even, and were slightly worn). After this transaction, I felt dirty inside and resolved not to debase both myself and another human being so (at least during this trip).

I gave the legless vendor US$20 and he tried to give me 200,000 VND in change (cheating me of 50,000 VND). In the end he gave me 230,000 VND and claimed he had no change. Right.

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Red Bridge and Ngoc Son Temple

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Some communist monument

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Temple Entrance

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On the Jade Mountain temple (Ngoc Son Temple - somehow it's not translated into English)

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Another set of gates

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Pillar with "writing on a clear sky" in Chinese characters

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Taishan plaque

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Yet another set of gates. Apparently the lady on the right was cold.

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The lake

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The sad pavilion

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Again, another set of doors. You'd think they were regularly under attack.

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Hall

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Pavilion

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Hall from Pavilion

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About the temple

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Altar - with butter cookies. I found this even more amusing than the biscuit tins previously.

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About Tran Hung Dao, one of their national heroes. Apparently he is "a pride of Vietnam in particular and of mankind in general". Unsurprisingly, I'd never heard of him before.

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Inner altar. The green guy is "Tuong Than Quan De". Not Guan Yu.

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Atheist temple

There was also a section on the Hoan Kiem tortoises (according to the Vietnamese, this is a unique species of tortoise; according to everyone else, it's not).

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On the toirtoises

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Preserved tortoise

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The China was childlike in its decoration.

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Gate house

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Tortoise and sword. This depicts a Vietnamese legend:

"According to legend, Lê Lợi had a magic sword given to him by Kim Qui, the Golden Turtle God. One day, not long after the Chinese had accepted Vietnam's independence, Lê Lợi was out boating on a lake in Hanoi. Suddenly a large turtle surfaced, took the sword from Lê Lợi, and dove back into the depths. Efforts were made to find both the sword and the turtle, but without success. Lê Lợi then acknowledged the sword had gone back to the Golden turtle God and renamed the lake Hoan Kiem Lake (or Ho Guom), "The Lake of the Returned Sword"."

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Dragon with bagua

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Tower at entrance

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Gates

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Open book celebrating the 1,000th anniversary of Hanoi (it was founded in 1010 AD)


Some people claim that the Chinese languages cannot be given romanised alphabets because of homophones, but the experience of Vietnamese shows that it can be done (besides which, people communicate verbally in Chinese languages without any trouble). I suspect the motivation for their insistence is protectionism - having mastered such a fiendishly difficult writing system, they are eager to preserve the value of their investment by keeping it difficult for others to learn it.

Breakfast cost me 30,000 VND.

For sweet fried stuff, I was quoted the princely sum of 30,000 VND. Recall that it was for this amount of food:

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On hearing the 30,000 VND quote, I snapped. I offered 20 (which was still ridiculously generous) but she countered with 25, which I grudgingly accepted.
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