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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Apologising means that you value your relationship more than your ego"

There is a popular quote that "Apologizing does not always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego".

Even if you don't believe that 'piety requires us to honor truth above our friends', or more particularly that the very fact that you have a relationship with the person means you have a duty to tell her the truth, there are less rarefied reasons to disagree with this piece of advice.

If you apologise just to protect a relationship, it means that your apology is devalued (and by extention, and that your other apologies are devalued), and people won't know whether your apologies are genuine or whether you're apologising in order to make the other party feel good.

On a more practical level, not apologising might lead to better outcomes; the other party might realise that she is wrong, or be led to reflect on the situation. Even if this is not the case, one can at least rest assured that one was not complicit in condoning the error: "I have done all I can. The rest is up to you".

So, perhaps, not apologising means that you value the other person more than your relationship.

New blog picture - 10th August 2013

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Does this poodle make me look fat?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Wonders of Modern Fireworks Technology


Teddy Bear


The Langoliers


These are supposed to be upside down cat faces


Death Star/Mario's power-up mushroom

(Lake Biwa Fireworks (琵琶湖花火大会), via The Entity Formerly Known as Acidflask)

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Links - 7th August 2013

Martin Ruhs warns government over 'spectacle' immigration policy - ""In liberal democracies we don't want to do the kinds of things that are commonplace in Singapore or maybe the Middle East... The row follows the Home Office's controversial use of vans in London bearing a message encouraging illegal immigrant to "go home". Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg - who said no Lib Dem minister had known of the plan in advance - said he was "very surprised" to see vans "driving aimlessly around north London" telling illegal immigrants to go home, and that they were not a "very clever way" of tackling the issue."

Saudi cleric favours one-eye veil - "A Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye. Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive. "

Veils fuel harassment in Egypt, some say - "Surprisingly, some Egyptian women say their veils don't protect against harassment, as the ads argue, but fuel it. A survey released this summer supports the view... "I think a woman who wears hijab can be more provocative to them," Sayed said. "The more covered up you are, the more interesting you are to them." Zuhair Mohammed, 60, a shopper on the same street who stopped wearing the traditional covering long ago, agreed: "I feel like with the hijab, it makes them wonder, 'What are you hiding underneath?'"... This summer, Egyptian lawmakers called Britain's advisory a slur; Britain responded that more female British tourists were harassed, assaulted, and raped, while in Egypt than in any other country... About half of all the women said they were harassed daily on the streets. Foreign women identified Egyptian policemen and other security officials as the most frequent harassers."

Mickey Mod : « C’est très compliqué pour les hommes d’avoir une sexualité libre » - "Je pense que ma façon de baiser avec quelqu’un s’apparente à une sorte de danse, tu ressens les énergies et les mouvements de ton partenaire, et si ça sonne juste, si le tempo est bon, alors tout s’enchaîne facilement. Je ne me considère pas comme dominant ou dominé, je vois ça comme une exploration sexuelle, un peu comme si j’étais un journaliste et que je me disais : “J’ai envie d’essayer ça, peut-être que je m’y connais moins que d’autres, mais je vais quand même y aller avec un esprit curieux et ouvert et ça va le faire”... Quand j’ai commencé à tourner, je pensais que le terme de “queer” me définissait pas mal, dans le sens où je suis plus intéressé par la connexion que j’ai avec mon partenaire que son genre. Mais ça ne me correspond plus, je ne rentre tout simplement pas dans une catégorie.
Pansexuel ?
Quand je pense au mot pansexuel, j’imagine un mec qui va au festival Burning Man avec un boa en plumes autour du cou… Je viens de San Francisco et là-bas les pansexuels sont plus une communauté, dans laquelle je ne me retrouve pas vraiment... C’est très compliqué pour les hommes d’avoir une sexualité libre, d’arriver à jouer dans des scènes très différentes. On est tout de suite catalogué, c’est beaucoup plus simple pour une fille d’enchainer porn hétéro, lesbien, BDSM… Je ne sais pas si c’est typique des Etats-Unis ou si c’est pareil dans le reste du monde"

What’s Behind Hollywood’s Asian Flirtation? China’s Box Office - The Daily Beast - "“Lots of big social changes have happened for purely financial reasons, and that’s OK, but I think that’s just the beginning,” says the American-born Chu. “I’m excited for a future where there isn’t just an Asian actor included for box office, but an Asian-American actor that has nothing to do with being exotic, or from another land.”
The fact that he uses "Asian-American" at the end is very telling

Chinese Singles' Hangout (local & foreign) (Singapore) - Meetup - "Given the hectic demands of Singapore's competitive economy, singles are drained both physically and emotionally, and most in this corporate jungle leave to chance, their dormant quest for meaningful love. Love should be in our hands and not in the stars. Years of passive waiting to let nature take its course can be futile. Avail yourself to the acquaintances of other singles in these interactive gatherings of free mingling, as you discover interesting personalites that stir your enthusiasm for a fulfilling companionship of love, fun and giving. Avail yourself to the door of opportunities that leads to a world of lovely singles. This hangout is for local and foreign Chinese. It is English-speaking though most are also conversant in the mother tongue. Feel free to bring your Chinese single friends along!!!"
There is also the slightly more cosmopolitan one but otherwise more exclusionary below

Singapore Dating Hut for Chinese, Japanese, Korean Singles (Singapore) - Meetup - "Are you looking for more quality singles friends or to explore opportunities of finding a partner, then join Singapore Dating Hut for Chinese, Japanese, Korean Singles! With the strong Chinese, Korean and Japanese culture via dramas, performance and music in Singapore, we hope to promote cross-cultural interaction and exchange through our singles social events...
Quality Singles Profile:
Presentable appearance
Pleasant behaviour
No ill intention
Age group from 20s to 30s
Singapore Dating Hut for Singles are made up of mainly Chinese Singles, Japanese Singles and Korean Singles. Our singles group is mainly for Singaporean and PR, with selected expats or Employment Pass holders."

Assimilation Studies - "A preference for marriage with cousins characterizes large sections of the Muslim world... the Muslim preference for cousin marriage (along with several associated social practices) helps explain why it has become difficult to reconcile Islamic social life with modernity, why Muslim immigrants in Europe have been slow to assimilate, and ultimately, why we are engaged in a war with Islamic terrorists."

There is no such thing as "King of the Belgians"... - Patricio de Aulia - "The last legitimate document concerning the monarchs over the territory of which consist now Belgium (The Netherlands and Luxemburg) is the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549. 1815 is illegitimate, 1830 is illegitimate etc."
"Seriously Mr. Patricio? You do not recognize the Miraculous circumstance which occurred in Rheims during the Baptism of Clovis as any form of indication?
It is after all none other than Pope Saint Gregory The Great that stated of the event and it's relationship to the Throne of France."
This is an amusing discussion of how divine/papal sanction legitimates European monarchies

B-society - "The B-Society is working towards making a flexible society, which can accommodate different types of families, ways of working and circadian rhythms."

21 Awesome Real Easter Eggs Hidden on the Internet Slideshow

China to Release More of Its Pork Reserves - NYTimes.com - "Some nations have strategic oil reserves. Some keep grain reserves. China has both, and something others have somehow overlooked: a national pork reserve."

Foxconn buildings covered in suicide nets, though most workers are just sleepy and bored - "The saddest part of the whole piece is that the factory workers rarely, if ever, get to use the final products that they're all helping to build - nevermind own one. Considering one of the tenents of Ford's original assembly line was that they price their cars so that everyone who worked on the line could afford one, it's sad to see the biggest electronics factories in the world today don't follow in that spirit."

▶ This is how we never met - YouTube

The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea - Youth Unemployment at Crisis Level - "Youth unemployment has reached crisis proportions, with more than one in five people between 15 and 29 out of work, according to a survey. The survey by the Hyundai Research Institute showed that the real number of unemployed young people stood at 1.1 million in October last year, which translated into a rate of 22.1 percent. The number increased substantially from 990,000 in 2003, when the rate was 17.7 percent. But government statistics put youth unemployment at a mere 7.7 percent in 2011 and showed the number of officially unemployed young people falling from 401,000 in 2003 to 324,000 in 2011 as the young population itself dwindled. The reason for the discrepancy is that the government data do not include those who have given up looking for work altogether and those who keep returning to private training or studies to increase their chances"
No wonder there're so many Koreans in Singapore working in the service industries

Is sexual addiction the real deal? - "the brain response of these individuals to sexual images was not related in any way to the severity of their hypersexuality but was instead tied only to their level of sexual desire. In other words, hypersexuality did not appear to explain brain differences in sexual response any more than simply having a high libido... such symptoms are not necessarily representative of an addiction -- in fact, non-pathological, high sexual desire could also explain this cluster of problems."

REALLY IMPORTANT SCIENCE | Scientists clear the air: Women's farts smell worse than men's

How Chinese Ingenuity Destroyed Salad Bars at Pizza Hut - "it became a fad of sorts to build enormous fruit and vegetable structures at Pizza Hut salad bars. The reason was that customers only got one plate and one trip to the salad bar, so they wanted their visit to be worth it. And was it ever. .. Pizza Hut actually announced it was removing salad bars from its restaurants as part of a menu revamp. It was believed that salad stacking was to blame. Ya think?"

Lewis Liu's answer to Dating and Relationships: What is your definition of the term "slut?" - Quora - "Trick question. A slut is someone who's dirty about it. Cf. the German schlampe, "slattern". This is the old "how many grains of sand make a pile" except with an opportunity for quora folks to make a public profession of feminism by saying "no number is too high". And this is me being grossed out by so much enforced politically correct piety, and laughing at this hugely arbitrary assumption that pro promiscuity is automatically feminist."

George Sawyer's answer to Sex: What is it like to have sex with a flight attendant? - Quora - "he was flying Cathay Pacific, and he was flying first class. He was in his early 30s, an executive, single, and had a British passport... All the girls on the flight, as a matter of routine, checked out the passenger lists in first and business class to find good prospective husbands, and did research on the flight – asking the passengers ordinary questions ‘will you be meeting your wife in Hong Kong?” to confirm if someone was single, "what kind of business do you do?" etc. etc. Martin had not told them what hotel he was staying at, but they had his complete name from the flight manifest, and they sat down and called all the top hotels in Hong Kong until they found him. As a team they watched his hotel lobby, and one girl, who drew the long straw, was the one who ‘bumped into him’ in the lobby."

Observations - 7th August 2013

Wondering how many of those who mocked Donald Trump for being upset over Obama's 2012 victory would have condemned democracy if Romney won.

Wondering how many people support abortion rights yet are against pregnant women smoking.

If you can't beat them, hate them.


Amused half of Americans supposedly suffer from a mental disorder in their lives. If everyone's abnormal, no one's normal,

Since women don't have prostates do they not get pleasure from a good dump?


"Robin Hood is the culmination of a long line of English folk heroes - like Jack the Giant Killer or Jack of the Beanstalk - who defeat their enemies through wit and audacity. They like nothing more than to tweak the noses of their "betters", setting the low up high and bringing the high down low, by being smarter and less predictable. Sure, you can have Robin Hood a dour revolutionary who rides into battle to smash his enemies with armor and helm. You could also have James Bond a pudgy little guy who's uncomfortable around women. Either way, you'd be missing the point."

"The biggest impediment to understanding the past is that we know their future"

"We're playing ladies and gentlemen"
"is that a euphemism for a swingers party you're going to? If so you can count me out"

"Thais are horniest, Japanese are craziest, Koreans are kinkiest"

RT @dk Which joker go put a ZIP file inside a ZIP file? You think what? Inception ah?

"The academic version of Rule 34..is if it exists, there is a thesis on it"

RT @avalon: Standard response by boys about other boys who have opinions: Aiya he haven't go army yet

"with Russians, I've had to explain that something is a joke. With Germans, not only do I have to do that, but I also have to explain why it is a joke"

RT: @_ochre: who is this PR idiot who decided that it was whimsical to pour in glitter into their envelopes because guess who is covered in glitter now

RT @TooMessedUp: I just opened my closet to find my daughter dead...
Looks like some people just can't handle Narnia...

RT @CauseWereGuys: Don't ever throw away a half-drunken beer. There's sober kids in Africa.

RT: @danguterman: Couple upstairs fucking each other's brains out again. Really need to move out of my parent's basement.


"Being an ugly girl is like being a man… You’re going to have to work"

"Most women don't know what they like until they've tried it. And sadly, so many of us get to try so little before we're old and grey"

Friend: "As I approach 31 this year, I'm proud to share that I've had a grand total of four (4) people offer their seats to me on public transportation on the mistaken assumption that I'm with child. Singha has quit. As a replacement/ successor that's more in keeping with the times, we should having a national mascot that advocates consideration towards those of us who apparently have really, really stubborn belly fat issues. Please do NOT give up your seat to us until specifically asked, or there are VERY explicit and telling signs we're preggers eg hand constantly on tummy (universal code?) If u're preggers, please do the rest of us a favour and just CLAIM it. Big fat thank you in advance... *pregnant pauses for effect*"

RT @ImLeslieChow: "Bros before hoes" is something a bro without a hoe would say

"As an [imperial] agent [in SWTOR] I am surrounded by strong (albeit mostly psychotic) women"

Q: What do you call a guy who says 'don't worry, baby, I'll pull out
A: A father

RT @infinitus_ "Having daughters is better than having sons. All your money given to your son will be given to your son's girlfriend"

RT @GrowlyBear: In Victoria Secrets wearing only bra n panty is office attire. So what is casual Friday like? xD

Types of disagreement

There is a difference between being conciliatory, being forthright and being insulting.

Conciliatory: "Maybe he misunderstood the question"
Forthright: "He is wrong"
Insulting: "Fucking moron"

I don't think this is particularly controversial.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Nazi Fear, Power and Collaboration

"Politically speaking, it is insufficient to say that power and violence are not the same. Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance. This implies that it is not correct to think of the opposite of violence as non-violence; to speak of non-violent power is actually redundant. Violence can destroy power; it is utterly incapable of creating it." - Hannah Arendt

***

"Most Nazis, Arendt argued, had an “innate repugnance toward crime.” The aim of ideology, then, was to overcome that repugnance by turning mass murder into a positive moral duty. Killing Jews required the same refusal to yield to inner temptation—in this case, the desire not to kill—that not stealing required in another era. Killing all Jews, without exception, even had the imprimatur of Kant’s categorical imperative, of which Eichmann possessed a fairly coherent, if simple, understanding. Thus, to kill a few Jews out of sadism or rage was less morally worthy than killing all the Jews, without emotion and for only the purest—that is, the most lawlike and universalizable—of reasons. While fanatical Jew-killing was reminiscent of the internal renunciation described by Arendt in Origins, it was of an altogether more traditional sort, resembling nothing so much as the Christian ideal of doing the good, however malignantly defined, for its own sake. So persuasive, if upside down, was this moral world that someone like Eichmann, according to Arendt, could committ “his crimes under circumstances that [made] it well-nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he [was] doing wrong.”

But for the most part, Arendt realized, the Nazis’ moral inversions were not successful: party functionaries still sensed, however dìmly, that they were committing evil. Had the Nazis, after all, not possessed some notion that they were doing wrong, would they have resorted to euphemistic “language rules,” where nothing—not murder, concentration camps, nor gas chambers—could be called by its proper name? One of the purposes of this linguistic obfuscation, no doubt, was to confuse foreign visitors and to conceal the Nazis’ crimes: the Nazis were worried about bad publicity and feared that should they lose the war, they would be judged in a less than positive light. But the Nazis used these words even among themselves. The Final Solution required an extensive bureaucracy, with far-flung offices throughout occupied Europe, and not every employee was a reliable foot soldier. The Nazis resorted to code words because they could not guarantee that their own ranks would accept the horror of what they were doing: euphemism was an “enormous help in the maintenance of order and sanity.” Arendt’s discussion thus suggested that the purpose of ideology was to deflect attention from—or to justify—moral horror so that its executioners could carry on their murderous business.

What made Nazi ideology persuasive to men like Eichmann, Arendt concluded, was the simple fact that so many of the men he respected seemed to believe in it. “His conscience was indeed set at rest when he saw the zeal and eagerness with which ‘good society’ everywhere reacted as he did. He did not need to ‘close his ears to the voice of conscience,’ . . . not because he had none, but because his conscience spoke with a ‘respectable voice,’ with the voice of respectable society around him.” Eichmann genuinely believed in the authority of his social betters, that their opinions were worthy of respect and emulation. They also had power, so it behooved him to subscribe to the beliefs that accompanied that power. These twin elements in Eichmann’s ideological makeup—the sincere and the instrumenta], the moral and the careerist—were inseparable, for in Eichmann’s eyes, success was a moral good, the standard by which men were judged worthy or not. As he claimed of Hitler: “[He] may have been wrong all down the line, but one thing is beyond dispute: the man was able to work his way up from lance corporal in the German Army to Führer of a people of almost eighty million. .. . His success alone proved to me that I should subordinate myself to this man”...

The Nazis faced a significant obstacle in their quest to eliminate the Jews: in Europe, there were more non-Nazis or anti-Nazis than Nazis, and in the concentration camps, more victims than perpetrators. Like all wielders of fear, the Nazis worried that disgruntlement with their rule might coalesce into organized opposition. As the Nazis accumulated more power and territory, they had good reason to be nervous, for they were attempting morally perilous and unprecedented tasks in strange lands. Terror was a means of overcoming these obstacles. It enabled the Nazis to maximize the impact of the resource they did have—violence—and minimize the impact of the resource they did not have—people. It was thus a utilitarian adaptation of means and ends, turning potential opponents, Jew and non-Jew alike, into either collaborators or cooperators.

For many readers, Arendt’s discussion in Eichmann of collaborators and cooperators, particularly among the Jews, deflected attention from the Nazis themselves, and unfairly cast the Jews as the corrupt agents of their own demise. As one of her most vehement critics noted, “Our enemies have for years been engaged in a campaign of whitewashing the culprits and blaming the victims. The latter, brutally murdered not so long ago, are now being killed for a second time by the defilers. Among these enemies Hannah Arendt now places herself.” But by focusing on collaborators, Arendt was not seeking to minimize the role of the Nazis. She was instead trying to show that terror did not entail the simple monopoly of power by the fear wielders and the total lack of power among the fear sufferers. Terror was an affair of collusion, with no “clear-cut division between persecutors and victims.” Like Hobbes, Arendt believed that nonresistance was useful to the powerful, that it inflated their power, inspiring an image of their grim irresistibility, which intimidated potential opponents. Obedience was the result of nonresistance, and “in politics,” Arendt wrote, “obedience and support are the same.” With terror, obedience and support were not quite the same, but neither were they antithetical: in the few cases where potential collaborators and cooperators resisted their assigned roles—in Denmark, for instance, where the entire country, from king to commoner, mobilized to protect the Jews—the Nazis’ power eroded, their terror proved ineffective, and the genocidal project collapsed. “The Nazis, it turned out, possessed neither the manpower nor the will power to remain ‘tough’ when they met determined opposition.” It was for that reason that the Nazis, according to Eichmann, “regarded this cooperation [between the Jewish councils and the Nazis] as the very cornerstone of their Jewish policy”...

“There exist many things considerably worse than death”—like torture—which the SS made sure were never “very far from their victims’ minds and imagination.” In not resisting, the Jews had chosen, with good reason, “the comparatively easy death the Nazis offered them—before the firing squad or in the gas chamber.” It was important to raise the issue of the nonresistance of the Jews, how ever, in order to show that it contributed to the efficacy of terror and that the Jews exercised agency in opting for it. The Jews faced a choice between not resisting and heading to the gas chamber or resisting and being tortured. It was not a good choice, and the choice they made was more than understandable. But it was a choice, and treating it as if it were not only ascribed to the victims a passivity they did not possess and to the Nazis an omnipotence they never had. Such a view almost turned the Jews into the animals the Nazis imagined them to be. It also minimized the true evil of regimes of fear, which was that they asked their victims to cooperate, willfully, in their own death. The Nazis did not grant the Jews the grace of passivity or disappeared agency. They demanded far more, that the Jews “organize their own destruction".

But Arendt had a second problem with the question “Why did the Jews not resist?” She thought it presumed that the Jews acted as a cohesive whole. in fact, she argued, the Jews, like all peoples, were divided between elites and followers, and it was the leaders of the Jewish councils and Jewish organizations who counseled their followers to take the path of cooperation and non-resistance. Terror worked best, she argued, when it conscripted indigenous leaders whom the victims trusted. Contrary to what centuries of political theorists had taught—that terror requires the obliteration of civil society—and what she had claimed in Origins, she argued that social organizations and their leaders were the transmission lines of terror. The Jewish councils were not the simple puppets of the Nazis; had they been, the Jews would not have trusted them as they did. It was precisely that the councils were somewhat independent, that they were run by men of high standing, that made them such potent authorities among the Jews. Far from the Nazi regime requiring the total abolition of autonomous social organizations, it actively fostered them, so that when the time came for more severe measures, they would have garnered enough social capital among the Jews to help implement those measures. “The whole truth,” Arendt gloomily concluded, “was that if the Jewish people had really been unorganized and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery but the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half and six million people.”

The Jewish leadership, according to Arendt, chose to collaborate with the Nazis for several reasons. First, they lacked allies in the wider population. In the few cases, in fact, where the surrounding cities and countryside came to their aid, Jewish leaders were able to mount a challenge. Second, they subscribed to a belief in eternal Jewish victimhood, and viewed anti-Semitism as an intractable gentile animus. This belief induced a kind of fatalism, in which working with the Nazis seemed like the only course of action. Finally, the Jewish leadership suffered from the illusions of realism. In the name of being realistic, they sometimes forsook genuine opportunities for rebellion or opposition. If nothing else, they failed to see that had they done nothing, the fate of the Jewish people could have been no worse, and might have been a good deal better. Their realism, in other words, was more than realism: it provided active support to the Nazis.’ Though subsequent scholars—and critics at the time—have demonstrated the faulty assumptions and factual errors underlying this last argument,’ it usefully suggests the distance Arendt had traveled from Origins to Eichmann. No longer were the victims of terror simple, unthinking automatons. Instead, they were rational agents, making calculations similar to those described by Hobbes. They assumed that if they cooperated in the here and now, they might buy enough time to survive until the Allies arrived. It was not a crazy calculus, but its claims to rationality supported a logic of fear arid induced obedience.

When the history of twentieth-century fear is written, Arendt suggested in Eichmann, it would be better to dispense with grandiose notions like total terror and radical evil, and confront instead the dull realities of careerists and collaborators. By insisting on this nexus between terror and triviality, Arendt did not seek to discount the gravity of the Holocaust or, by implication, of Stalinism. She sought instead to deprive fear of any legs, to show that it could not underwrite politics. Arising from and depending upon the normal exchanges of ordinary human beings, fear lacked the mythic power she had ascribed to it in Origins. Eichrnann, the Nazis, even genocide, did not deserve the imprimatur of radical evil, which inspired a terror verging on awe. Evil, as she wrote to Gershom Scholem, did not belong to a netherworld: it was very much a part of our world, the outgrowth of mundane compromises and human, all too human, vices. "I changed my mind and do no longer speak of radical evil.’. . . It is indeed my opinion now that evil is never 'radical,’ that it is only extreme, and that it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension.. .. It is ‘thought-defying,’ as I said, because thought tries to reach some depth, to go to the roots, and the moment it concerns itself with evil, it is frustrated because there is nothing. That is its ‘banality.’ Only the good has depth and can be radical.”

Arendt thus dispelled the sacred aura that so many before her—and since—have found in the politics of fear, refusing to grant to it the primordial, religious overtones that linger around words like Holocaust. Her much-maligned tone of irony, her bitter laughter at the sheer comedy of Eichmann the man, reflected her effort to deny evil—and the fear of evil— the last word, something Origins had come close to granting. Laughter, as Arendt wrote in an essay on Kafka, “permits man to prove his essential freedom through a kind of serene superiority to his own failures.” Looking hard at Eichmann, Arendt finally heeded the wise counsel of Jaspers, who had warned her in 1946 not to allow the Nazis to take on a streak of ‘greatness’—of satanic greatness—which is, for me, as inappropriate for the Nazis as all the talk about the ‘demonic’ elements in Hitler and so forth. It seems to me that we have to see things in their total banality, in their prosaic triviality, because that’s what truly characterizes them. Bacteria can cause epidemics that wipe out nations, but they remain merely bacteria. I regard any hint of myth and legend with horror, and everything unspecific is just such a hint.” Though Arendt had never allowed the Nazis to take on a streak of “satanic greatness,” she had granted that mantle to total terror."

--- Fear : The History of a Political Idea: The History of a Political Idea / Corey Robin


Some claim that ideology is meaningless and just obscures more basic power relations (based on economics or politics), but really that effaces the complexities of life.

Third-Wave Feminism and Double Standards

Unblurring the Lines | STATIC

"A recent onslaught of tits-in-your-face (TIYF) music videos has catalyzed much hullabaloo in the blogosphere...

for years I was a more or less passive acceptor of the contradictions inherent in my favorite music genres. I love hip hop and R&B...

At Stanford I had the opportunity to learn from and connect with some of the world’s foremost hip hop scholars, who dropped more knowledge on me than I knew what to do with. They encouraged me to engage more critically with the voices in my earbuds, which in turn inspired some original musings about hip hop and feminism. The more I thought about the dissonance between my personal ideologies and the hot misogynist mess that is mainstream hip hop and R&B, the less passive I became.

Coming to terms with a genre that, as the fabulous Joan Morgan so aptly wrote, “repeatedly reduces me to tits and ass” has been a long and arduous process. “Sex positivity!” one of my many shoulder devils would tell me. “If the women in the videos are okay with it, then it’s fine!” Sure, but to what extent and on whose watch? Should we assume that video girls are formally debriefed on the risks and implications of their on-camera exposure?...

The women in each of these music videos are not the problem; patriarchy is the problem"


Apparently appearing in a music video is such a dangerous thing, and girls who appear in them are so stupid, that they need to be "formally debriefed on the risks and implications of their on-camera exposure?

Comments:

"Attacking “the Patriarchy,” from my perspective, seems like the squelching of male desire. And while you might think this has been a bad year for women, men haven’t had it that that great either for the past TEN years...

Having gotten back from a music festival where the majority of the women had no qualms putting some (or all) of their valued assets on display for every male (both wanted ones and unwanted ones) to ogle, it really did some quite like these lady festival-goers were all FOR blurring the lines as much as possible.

Me and my friends certainly had no issues with this, every woman has her choice to exhibit her body in any (legal) way they want, plus it was great eye candy to straight males like myself to complement the amazing music.

Where I did have a problem was that some of the OFFICIAL photographers for the event would walk through the crowd and thoroughly video tape the most attractive(and most scandily clad) women. They would walk around the girls dancing by themselves filming at all SORTS of angles, and I made sure to make goofy faces at the camera whenever I was in the shot.

I grew steadily more disgusted at the fact that some of them would even aim the camera directly at a girl’s ass as if this were an intro to a cheesy porn flick….to the point where I stopped my friends from raging to ask “Are these girls really okay with this?” And it seemed like they WERE, blowing kisses to the camera and shaking their asses right in the frame. These girls were not being paid for this, you know, voluntarily providing plenty of *free* footage of their ladyparts being accessible to any horny dude with an internet connection…..

Which brings me to my point: if, as an (articulate) speaker for Sisterhood, you really think you should call bullshit and unblur those lines, you should start by correcting the behaviors of your own kind. Men will always be men, and if women put their assets on display you have no right to be angry at them for looking at them. One thing I dont understand about this third-wave feminism is that it argues for gender equality yet holds men and women to completely different standards."


"these women (at least in “Blurred Lines” and “Tunnel Vision”) are technically not naked. They are wearing underwear. If a music video of a female artist came out and she had many beautiful men dancing around her and fawning over her–but in their underwear–would anyone blink an eye? Is addressing this issue of topless women in music videos creating MORE of a divide between genders? Topless men are socially acceptable, topless women could eventually be socially acceptable once the novelty wore off. I’m not 100% behind these videos and what they showcase, but I really don’t think drawing a lot of attention to the topless women in these videos is progressive to the feminist movement"

"You can shout about feminism and misogyny, but 50 Shades of Grey was the biggest best-seller in years and they’re making a movie of it. Without that, I don’t think these videos would be so bold and “in your face”. Thicke’s video doesn’t show women being harmed, it shows them teasing the men with their bodies and, importantly, not giving in. Try as he might to declare he knows she wants it, the women are often turned away from the men, giving them their backs. I don’t like the video but I’m not entirely sure it’s not a joke as the director says."

Links - 6th August 2013

India: If you have casual sex, you are legally married - "“Any couple who choose to consummate their sexual cravings, then that act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow,” the Madras High Court ruled in a recent palimony case in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The grammatically inclined will note that's not actually a sentence. That’s true of most of the clauses in the judgment. But the meaning is decipherable... police frequently file rape charges against men who have had consensual sex with their girlfriends — sometimes for years — if they fail to follow through on their promises to get married... Ramaseshan fought to extricate a young woman from a relationship in which her former boyfriend had claimed they were married on the basis of Facebook photos, among other things.
Maybe this is why there're so many rape cases in India

Top Ten Horrible Book Covers - "34. Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them
32. Who cares about elderly people?
30. Still Stripping After 25 Years
27. Games You Can Play With Your Pussy. And Lots of Other Stuff Cat Owners Should Know
25. The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories
22. Bombproof Your Horse
20. My big book of Pretty Pussies
19. If God Loves Me, Why Can't I Get My Locker Open?
17. Sweatshirts with Style
15. Cooking with Pooh
13. She'll Never Get off the Ground. A novel about a woman airline pilot...?!
8. The Best Dad Is A Good Lover
3. The Penetratr
2. Shag the Pony and Other Stories. London: Catholic Truth Society"

PAS moots ban on Muslim muscle men - "While praising the government’s stance in prohibiting Muslim women from taking part in beauty pageants, PAS Youth has questioned its “double standard” in not adopting the same stance for Muslim men taking part in bodybuilding competitions."
Such a valiant stance against sexism brings a tear to my eye

Sober sex is out as British couples rely on booze to get them in the mood - and one in ten haven't made love sober in six months - "Two thirds, 66 per cent, claimed that they simply 'aren't in the mood unless under the influence of alcohol'; while almost a fifth, 18 per cent, admitted that they drank regularly with their partner, and as such was often under the influence when making love... Of those who felt sexual performance suffered with alcohol, 72 per cent were male respondents. The rest claimed, however, that drinking gave them more confidence, and could therefore help them in the bedroom - and 42 per cent said it made them open to trying new things sexually."

Sex blogger’s mother to be questioned by MCMC? - "The public prosecutor argued that setting setting them free would inspire them to repeat their offences. The bail denial drew condemnation from opposition lawmakers and civil society leaders who accused the government of selective prosecution. They argued that while swift and stern action was taken on “Alvivi”, the same treatment had not been accorded on others guilty of past racial slurs, like Perkasa’s Datuk Ibrahim Ali and Datuk Zulkifli Noordin."

Scientists Trace Memories of Things That Never Happened - NYTimes.com - "The vagaries of human memory are notorious. A friend insists you were at your 15th class reunion when you know it was your 10th. You distinctly remember that another friend was at your wedding, until she reminds you that you didn’t invite her. Or, more seriously, an eyewitness misidentifies the perpetrator of a terrible crime. Not only are false, or mistaken, memories common in normal life, but researchers have found it relatively easy to generate false memories of words and images in human subjects... they have created a false memory in a mouse, providing detailed clues to how such memories may form in human brains."

Can You Get Too Much Exercise? - NYTimes.com - "the more races that someone had completed between 1989 and 1999 or the faster they had finished, the more likely they were to require hospitalization in the next 10 years for an abnormal heart beat, a condition known as arrhythmia... A 2011 study of male, lifelong, competitive endurance athletes aged 50 or older, for instance, found that they had more fibrosis — meaning scarring — in their heart muscle than men of the same age who were active but not competitive athletes."

McDonald's: Bristol couple hold £150 wedding reception for 33 guests at favourite restaurant - "Chilled food firm worker Steven proposed after a string of burger-based dates."

How To Travel — Some Contrarian Advice - "There is nothing inherently valuable in travel, no matter how hard the true believers try to convince us. Seneca, the stoic philosopher, has a great line about the restlessness of those who seem compelled to travel. They go from resort to resort and climate to climate, he says. “They make one journey after another and change spectacle for spectacle. As Lucretius says, “Thus each man flees himself. But to what end if he does not escape himself? He pursues and dogs himself as his own most tedious companion. And so we must realize that our difficulty is not the fault of the places but of ourselves.” It’s hard for me to see anything to envy in most people who travel. Because deep down that is what they are doing. Fleeing themselves and the lives they’ve created. Or worse, they’re telling themselves that they’re after self-discovery, exploration or perspective when really they are running towards distraction and self-indulgence... I don’t take it as self-evident that going to this place or that place is some accomplishment. There are just as many idiots living in Rome as there are at home... There is to me, a lot more to admire in someone who stayed put and challenged their perspectives and habits and lifestyle choices at home than there is to some first world Instagram addict who conflates meaning with checking off boxes on a bucket list."

'Discover Your Inner Economist' by Tyler Cowen - "If the quality of food is the sole mission, Cowen argues, look for contrary indicators. “Iron bars on the windows,” he writes, “and barbed wire on the fences, however bad for the residents or your own safety, are both good signs for the food.” The magic ingredient, he elaborates, is extreme income inequality, which ensures a large reservoir of cheap labor to grow and prepare the food, as well as a sufficient number of rich people who, being rich, must eat well."

Lawyer Suing Apple Is Banking On Millions of People Being As Stupid As He Was - "The alleged harm that Weiselberg suffered, besides having to watch Big Daddy, was the additional $1 he expended for an HD copy of the movie that played in standard definition. Remember, he’s complaining about picture quality for a movie he’s watching on a 3.5-inch screen, so he’s not exactly a cinematic connoisseur. A lawsuit for $1 in damages is not going to get very far, so this is a class action alleging that Apple made “millions of dollars in undeserved profits.”"

5 Business Ideas to Avoid in Singapore (2012) - "1. Small Cafes
2. Private Gyms
3. General Bookstores
4. Interior Decorating
5. Small Tuition Agencies"

How P.Z. Myers' "Incendiary Rhetoric" and "Class-War Claptrap" Shocks His Fellow Evolutionists (Prelude to a Rebuttal) - ""I was not rude enough to MacLatchie," writes PZ Myers, despite the fact that PZ recently told pro-intelligent design undergraduate student Jonathan M. that he should be "ashamed to have been responsible for this bulls--t." Apparently PZ doesn't feel it was "rude enough" to have alleged that Jonathan M.:
is a "flaming moron"
"is an idiot"
is guilty of "ignorance"
is "completely ineducable"
promotes "ludicrous nonsense"
"doesn't know word one about basic biological concepts"...
Is this the type of dialogue that new atheist evolutionists stand for? Such harsh personal attacks from PZ and his followers are nothing new. In fact, the rhetorical strategies of Professor Myers and his colleagues are so uncivil that they have earned criticism from mainstream academics and writers who are otherwise pro-evolution... A credible academic reviewing evolution blogs in a leading evolution-educational journal just said that "amateur" blogs are a "better source of information about science" than P.Z. Myers' renowned Pharyngula... 'If the goal is to create an America more friendly toward science and reason, the combativeness of the New Atheists is strongly counterproductive'... Even left-leaning media outlets like the NY Times and LA Times have taken notice of PZ's uncivil methods... the NY Times doesn't see Myers' methods favorably. Instead, the paper compares PZ Myers' blog (as well as his fellow science bloggers) to "Fox News"--the ultimate insult in the left-leaning world of the establishment media... PZ's harsh rhetorical style is, in effect, a deliberate method of silencing opposition"
Not coincidentally, he is also a feminist

The Medium - The Uses and Abuses of Science Blogging - NYTimes.com - "The stilted and seething tone of some of the defection posts sent me into the ScienceBlogs archives, where I expected to find original insights into science by writers who stress that they are part of, in the blogger Dave Munger’s words, “the most influential science blogging network in the world.” And while I found interesting stuff here and there, I also discovered that ScienceBlogs has become preoccupied with trivia, name-calling and saber rattling. Maybe that’s why the ScienceBlogs ship started to sink... PZ Myers revels in sub-“South Park” blasphemy, presenting (in one recent stunt) his sketch of the Prophet Muhammad as a cow-pig hybrid excited about “raping a 9-year-old girl.” Clearly I’ve been out of some loop for too long, but does everyone take for granted now that science sites are where graduate students, researchers, doctors and the “skeptical community” go not to interpret data or review experiments but to chip off one-liners, promote their books and jeer at smokers, fat people and churchgoers? And can anyone who still enjoys this class-inflected bloodsport tell me why it has to happen under the banner of science? Hammering away at an ideology, substituting stridency for contemplation, pummeling its enemies in absentia: ScienceBlogs has become Fox News for the religion-baiting, peak-oil crowd... Under cover of intellectual rigor, the science bloggers — or many of the most visible ones, anyway — prosecute agendas so charged with bigotry that it doesn’t take a pun-happy French critic or a rapier-witted Cambridge atheist to call this whole ScienceBlogs enterprise what it is, or has become: class-war claptrap"

Heston Blumenthal Cooks Mice - YouTube - "Heston Blumenthal cooks mice and tries to get the public to eat them. Surprisingly, they're not that up for it."

Lawyer: Apple Should Protect Me From My Porn Addiction - "The Plaintiff began desiring, younger more beautiful girls featured in porn videos than his wife, who was no longer 21. His failed marriage caused the Plaintiff to experience emotional distress to the point of hospitalization. The Plaintiff could no longer tell the difference between internet pornography and tangible intercourse due to the content he accessed through the Apple products, which failed to provide him with warnings of the dangers of online pornography whatsoever."

Why I dislike 20th Century Music

"In music, again, we find a tendency towards the same aberrations. The simple, though it produces its effect, soon appears too easy; difficulties are courted, merely for the sake of being overcome, and of thus displaying the technical skill of the performer. Sometimes the search after novelty leads the composer to venture into the field where music is weakest—that of direct imitation of natural sounds by musical notes,—a species of rivalry, the hopelessness of which makes us feel the good sense of Agesilaus' answer, when requested to hear a man sing who could imitate the nightingale,—' I have heard the nightingale herself.' Nay, musicians have attempted not merely to imitate sounds by notes, but even to represent motion—to describe the seasons— to picture sunrise or sunset—to convey the impressions of colour —or even to narrate the incidents of a battle or a campaign ; for the ingenious organist of Ferdinand III., Froberger, is said to have presented a very striking musical representation of Count Thurn's passage over the Rhine, and the dangers of the transit, 'in twenty-six cataracts, or. falls of notes.'* Indeed, when a taste for this sort of mimetic music is once introduced (the proper sphere of which would be the comic opera), it is wonderful how even the greatest genius gives way to the contagion, and follows the herd,—for a greater than Froberger, Handel, has now and then ventured upon similar tricks of sound. In the ' Messiah,' at the passage, ' I will shake the heavens and the earth,' he has introduced a sort of musical pun, by repeating the word several times on a chain of musical shakes, ' as if,' says a critic,' the 'quavering of the voice could represent the commotions of the 'world.' And, in his 'Israel in Egypt,' he has undertaken to represent, by musical notes, two of the plagues of Egypt, viz. the buzzing of flies and the hopping of frogs.

But even where these elaborate quackeries have been avoided, there is still a tendency, as music becomes more scientific, to diverge more and more from the simplicity of original melody; to give an undue predominance to harmony; to render instrumental music a series of tours de force, calculated rather to excite astonishment than to give pleasure: and then to make vocal music itself ape the capricious movements of the instrumental—

'With giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,'

till the proper object of music, the suggestion of pleasing, or tender, or elevating associations, is, in a great measure, forgotten.

It is therefore of the utmost importance, that there should exist a mass of popular song, of which the people are at once the poets and the musicians; from which an infusion of fresh vigour and original melody should from time to time be conveyed into the frame of music, to counteract those tendencies which it acquires in the hands of strictly scientific artists; and to bring it back to its proper vocation, as an art of universal application. From such sources—

'Whose birth tradition notes not, nor who framed
Their nameless strain'—

the greatest of our modern composers have drawn liberally, and with the happiest effect even on music of a scientific character. Mr Dauney accordingly notices, that to the judicious employment of these popular resources 'we are chiefly to refer what has been called the ideal system of modern music,—a system at once scientific and pleasing, and which we find carried to its highest pitch in some of the symphonial compositions of Haydn, Mozart,and Beethoven, which not only delight us by the richness and brilliancy of their harmony and instrumentation, but transport us into regions of enchantment, by the variety of characteristic associations to which they give rise; and by awakening our imaginative faculties, conjoin with what may be termed the organic pleasures of the art, all the higher enjoyment of which the poetical part of our nature is susceptible.'"

--- Ancient Scotish Melodies, from a Manuscript of the Reign of King James VI. With an Introductory Enquiry, illustrative of the History of the Music of Scotland. By William Dauney, Esq. F.S.A. Scot. Edinburgh; 4to. 1838 in The Edinburgh Review: Or Critical Journal, Volume 69

France 2012 - Day 10 - Orange - Theatre (Part 1)

France 2012
Day 10 - 22nd October - Orange - Theatre
(Part 1)

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Ruined fort on Croix Rousse

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Lyon bridge

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"La Playa Dancing Restaurant"

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"Les Dessous Chics"
This translates as "Chic Below". It's a lingerie store.

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WWE Smackdown Tour

I saw a La Poste lady (postwoman) in the metro, with a mail trolley. Ahh, budget cuts!

There was one lady with a kickscooter in the metro. Since we were waiting for the train, I asked her why so many French liked them, and she said it was "pratique" (practical) - you could go into the metro with one. I commented that I didn't see people using them in other countries and she agreed.

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"Power: does it have a sex?"
A gender-equality conference

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"If power changes its sex, so much the better"
Presumably he would welcome a matriarchy

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"Power? It has neither a sex nor a head"

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Grande Ecole Cram School
Tsk. It's supported by the Ministry of Education too.

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Breakfast for my ride to Orange: pain aux raisins, croissant
The hostel had breakfast from 7am but it didn't have bread when I ate, only near my departure time. Anyway this was better

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Nuclear plants: "Not in my countryside"
On the rightmost cooling tower there is a representation of a child playing with water

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Very low clouds

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"Kill me" sign at a railway station

Orange was a little town, but not without its charms.

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"Orange Chess Club"

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Frédéric Mistral bust

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Philosophy-Dance school: beside ads for dancing there's a performance by the Compagnie du Groupetto. Apparently it's "Théâtre-Philosophique"

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Vintage gassy drinks ad on house side

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Windows on house by stream

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Alley

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Flowers by stream

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Scruffy building

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Place Clemenceau

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"Pétanque: Grand Prize of the Wild Boar"

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Protestant Church. Or as they call it, Protestant Temple
This is probably linked to how Orange used to belong to the Princes of Orange (aka the Stadtholder of the Netherlands)

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Old doorway in renovated building, Hotel Louis de Silhol

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Intriguing parking: some lots are free and some are payable

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Gas is apparently pumped into the wall here

And then was the sight I had come to see, the Roman Theatre of Orange.

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Side of theatre

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Temple and Hemicycle at side of Theatre

Various operas had been staged here:

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2010 - Mireille (Gounod)
2003 - La Traviata
2002 - The Magic Flute
2000 - The Tales of Hoffman (yes, the one with the huge dolls)
1997 - Turandot
2010 - Tosca

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Entrance sign

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Phantom of the Opera ripoff for their multimedia show

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Hemicycle

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Stuff to see in "The largest Roman Theatre in Europe"

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This is interesting - Japanese is for people from Japan and Chinese is for Chinese people

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On the Temple

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Free-standing pillar

The audioguide was very good. After the Third World (with guides with questionable English) I'd almost forgotten the joys of an audioguide.


Notice the huge swinging member (1 min in)

The video was quite interesting. After Roman tragedies they put on comedic improvisations to help the audience recover from the tragedy and distance themselves from it (this doesn't seem to be a translation - I love how amusing French writing is).

At Orange the most vulgar and obscene plays were popular.

The theatre survived because it was used as dwellings.

The theatre was the centre of the Cult of the Emperor.

In 55 BC they had the first permanent stone theatre in Rome. Before the Senate had banned them because they distracted people from their civic and religious duty, and they thought they led to Greece's decline. So they made them of wood.

They used to have open bronze jars facing the audience to improve acoustics.

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More on the Theatre, which Louis XIV called the most splendid wall in his Kingdom (this is why he spared it, or he'd have destroyed it for military reasons)
It is one of the few Roman theatres left which has a stage wall. The others are in the former Eastern Roman Empire (Turkey and Syria - they claimed Orange was the best preserved)
They built a new stage roof (2006), partly to protect the wall

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On the cavea, the seating area (rows)

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Theatre Wall

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3.55m statue of an Emperor put there in 1951. The bird likes his hand
In front of the statue was a kneeling Gaul, so this embodied intimidation. These statues were produced by the hundreds in Rome for the colonies. The heads were exchangeable for when a new emperor came along.

The red stones in the wall are due to fire when the roof burned down. The holes in the wall were for carry beams of the roof.

In Rome there were 65 days of entertainment, 45 of which were for the theatre. By the Late Empire (end 2nd/early 3rd c) there were 180 days of games, 100 of which were for the theatre. Though admission was free the social classes were separate (you were physically unable to cross into another section) - foreigners, prostitutes and beggars got the worst seats.

Greek and Roman plays were in different categories.

Actors were usually foreigners, slaves or freedmen. Except for mimes, the female roles were played by men. For mimes the audience was lewd and asked the actress to disrobe, so it became porn.

A blonde wig denoted a simpleton (hurr hurr). Hand gestures had defined meanings.

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Birds

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Theatre

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Panorama of Theatre

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Below looking up

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Geena

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Pillars

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There was no privacy for the toilet - to walk to the female toilet you went past the urinal. Very good.

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Side. Only the first 3 tiers of steps are from the Roman era.

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Next was the "The Phantoms of the Theatre" audiovisual show.

The French Woodstock was held here. There was one sign: "Jesus sauve de l'enfer" ("Jesus saves [one] from Hell") which was amusing.

Pop and Rock were staged from 1975-1980 but apparently that era was over and the documentary didn't say why.

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Town from Window


I particularly liked this clip from the "The Phantoms of the Theatre" presentation.
Carmen sexily self-upskirts while seducing Don José ("Près des remparts de Séville"). Her hands are tied, you understand, so she's limited in what she can do. At the end of the clip she mounts him. This was Beatrice Uria-Monzon in 2005 or 2006.

They also showcased the famous Giant Dolls scene from Tales of Hoffman with Natalie Dessay.

The 2001 Aida here had Golden Statues for soldiers. Certainly that would've been cheaper.

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Looking down

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Cheap menu (but it was closed)
16€ 3 course menu in a tourist place!
Cunningly the exit route brought one inexorably by the restaurant

Most people didn't think the Emperor was a god and just paid his cult lip service. The audioguide commented that Christians declined to respect the Emperor this way "before triumphing over all other cults and eliminating them". Great phrasing.

The audioguide is so good, they put it on their website. Wah.

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Roman Gaul

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In Dutch it's not "Oranje"

Ironically the opera CDs on sale at the shop were all not recorded at the Orange theatre

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They put both the UK and US flags here.

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

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"Vegetable recipes"
"When our grandmothers cooked in Provence"

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Swords and other thingamabobs

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Mediterranean alphabets

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Heritage empire - places managed by this company

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Black cat

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On the theatre

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Theatre wall from road


Women have really huge ass toiletry bags
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