June 30th, 2007

The music from Prince

It’s really not “my music”, but at least he understands the consumer. I don’t think I can write this better than Ben Poole:

I especially like this quote from the Entertainment Retailers Association:

The Artist formerly known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores.

Prince (note to the ERA: that’s his name. He hasn’t been “The Artist…” for many years, since his record company protest finished) has been selling material on-line very successfully for several years. What makes the music industry think he gives a fig about record stores? They’re dying because they’re being undercut by other companies and music outlets. He who does not evolve, dies.

Read more: BBC news: Anger at Prince free CD giveaway.

June 30th, 2007

The bright side of life

On the lighter side. The brilliant Monty Python. Over a 100 video’s here!

June 29th, 2007

The wrong job

 Who said the Germans didn’t have a sense of humor?

The wrong job

 Here is the rest of the series.

June 29th, 2007

The ugly phrase

Ugly Phrase Conceals an Uglier Truth
Behind the US Government’s corruption of language lies a far greater perversion
by Salman Rushdie
January 9, 2006

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the ugliest phrase to enter the English language last year was “extraordinary rendition”. To those of us who love words, this phrase’s brutalisation of meaning is an infallible signal of its intent to deceive.

“Extraordinary” is an ordinary enough adjective, but its sense is being stretched here to include more sinister meanings that your dictionary will not provide: secret; ruthless; and extrajudicial.

As for “rendition”, the English language permits four meanings: a performance; a translation; a surrender – this meaning is now considered archaic; or an “act of rendering”; which leads us to the verb “to render” among whose 17 possible meanings you will not find “to kidnap and covertly deliver an individual or individuals for interrogation to an undisclosed address in an unspecified country where torture is permitted”.

Language, too, has laws, and those laws tell us this new American usage is improper – a crime against the word. Every so often the habitual newspeak of politics throws up a term whose calculated blandness makes us shiver with fear – yes, and loathing.

“Clean words can mask dirty deeds,” The New York Times columnist William Safire wrote in 1993, in response to the arrival of another such phrase, “ethnic cleansing”.

“Final solution” is a further, even more horrible locution of this Orwellian, double-plus-ungood type. “Mortality response”, a euphemism for death by killing that I first heard during the Vietnam War, is another. This is not a pedigree of which any newborn usage should be proud.

People use such phrases to avoid using others whose meaning would be problematically over-apparent. “Ethnic cleansing” and “final solution” were ways of avoiding the word “genocide”, and to say “extraordinary rendition” is to reveal one’s squeamishness about saying “the export of torture”. However, as Cecily remarks in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, “When I see a spade, I call it a spade”, and what we have here is not simply a spade, it’s a shovel – and it’s shovelling a good deal of ordure.

Salmon Rushdie is the writer who got himself a fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeini, because of his book The Satanic Verses.

June 29th, 2007

The unease with world powers

Pew Global Attitudes Project researches how the world thinks about super-powers and their leaders (in particular the U.S., Russia and China and their leaders/leadership). Here is the website, and here is the full report.

 

Leadership

 

A 47-nation survey finds global public opinion increasingly wary of the world’s dominant nations and disapproving of their leaders. Anti-Americanism is extensive, as it has been for the past five years. At the same time, the image of China has slipped significantly among the publics of other major nations.

The Pew Global Attitudes survey finds a general increase in the percentage of people citing pollution and environmental problems as a top global threat. The proportion of people who view environmental degradation as a major threat to the planet has increased significantly in 20 of 35 countries for which trends from 2002 are available.

In the current poll, majorities in 25 of the 47 countries surveyed express positive views of the U.S. However, America’s image remains abysmal in most Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia, and continues to decline among the publics of many of America’s oldest allies.

My country is not in this list, but my bet is if you mediate Germany and Britain, you’re pretty close.

June 27th, 2007

The anti-terroristm testimony

Today the Deputy National Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the Netherlands, Mrs Lidewijde Ongering testified about the experiences with home-grown terrorism during a public hearing of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Dutch approach clearly focuses on the prevention of home-grown terrorism, instead of pointing the finger to the outside.

(…) A lack of education, huge cultural differences and difficulties in social integration were some of the most serious problems to beset this group. (…) The integration of Muslims has not been helped by the growth of Islamophobia in the Netherlands due to the many acts of jihadist violence around the world. This has led the non-Muslim population to distance itself. This, in turn, has led many Muslims to reorient themselves towards their own communities and cultural and religious backgrounds. As a result, polarisation between Muslims and non-Muslims has been on the rise for the past few years, a trend that can accelerate radicalisation processes.

Studies of radicalisation processes in the Netherlands have shown that they are often sparked by an identity crisis. These are typically young people trapped between two cultures. They don’t feel welcome as Muslims in the Netherlands, and thanks to their education and social experiences, they feel disconnected from their parents’ culture. In their search for identity, some of these young people fall into a life of crime. Others – by no means the least educated – turn to radical Islam. It offers simple answers to the big questions they are grappling with. It offers security and brotherhood and prospects of a heavenly reward. It’s possible for perfectly intelligent people to get so caught up in their fanaticism that they see martyrdom as the ultimate goal.

(…) We have developed a ‘comprehensive approach’ to the task at hand. It includes repressive measures against terrorists, but puts an equal emphasis on prevention. After all, no one is born a terrorist. People who set out to kill other people for political or religious reasons first go through a process of radicalisation. We are convinced that there are many opportunities to intervene in this initial phase.

(…) A second main way we work to prevent radicalisation is by increasing social resistance to radicalisation and terrorism, especially within the Muslim community. In the Dutch government’s view, these problems cannot be solved without the help of our country’s Muslims. They’re the ones who generally suffer most from the radicals and terrorists. They’re the ones who run the risk of losing their children to extremism. Muslims are often, wrongly, viewed as collectively responsible for the extremists’ acts. They are forced to contend with both radical Islam and Islamophobia in their daily lives. For all these reasons, Muslims are the ones who are best able to recognise and resist the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism, jihadism and terrorism at an early stage. After all, these phenomena are all present in their immediate surroundings.

Coincidently, Mrs Ongering was office manager of the high brow consultancy firm I worked for around 1990 and I plowed through some internal IT with her. A new word I learned there was to “maveren”, which is the (non existing) verb-form of the abbreviation “MAVO”, a school track for the not most intelligent kinds, meaning say things simple and clear especially when making a point to executives. The 10 page presentation seems pretty down to earth to me (not that I agree with it entirely). I bet chairman Joe (Lieberman) could understand it.

June 27th, 2007

The ironworkers

Another day at the office.

Ironworkers

(whew)

June 24th, 2007

The detox

Becoming a non-toxic person.

 4. Apply sparingly. Like with any dangerous chemical, a little bit of hostility and anger goes a long way. And the truth is, the more you spread around, the angrier and more hostile you’ll become. Here’s a good test to see if you’ve been too toxic recently: Does it seem as if everyone around you is infuriated and exasperated? If so, look in the mirror because the common denominator in your work and private life is you. I once saw a billboard that read: “My anger says nothing about you and everything about me.

Keep on breathing.

June 23rd, 2007

The silence of the lambs

Hanibal?

Perhaps I’m slightly ghoulish or my mind is out of whack,
But I love the taste of Manwich with a side of Hungry Jack.
I often grab a Big Boy when I’m eating on the go,
But when there’s time to linger I prefer a Sloppy Joe.
I snack on Mr. Salty. I’m a Better Crocker fan.
You’ll never catch me choosing Jif. I want my Peter Pan!
I’m fond of Mr. Goodbar and I love my Sara Lee.
In fact, I’d like a bite right now. But who’s it going to be?

;) Thanks frenchtwist.

June 23rd, 2007

The mouse has a tail

You all remember Wolfowitz. As I wrote back then, Ab Melkert was the chairman of the ethical committee. The investigators concluded that Wolfowitz was wrong and the E.C. was kinda right, but could have acted better. Not unexpected, this mouse has a little longer tail. Melkert is now the second man in the UNDP (United Nations Development Program). The US ambassador at the UN filed a complaint against Melkert, accusing him to threaten for “retaliation” if the US would continue the investigation in UNDP spending in North Korea, which the US is said to believe is used for weapons (the “Cash for Kim” scandal).

The UNDP fiercly denies the accusation of the “retaliation” sentence, but in all honesty, Melkert is a slick burocrat who knows how to survive. However….. rumor is those US investigators are good acquaintances of…… yep, mr. Wolfowitz.

Well, well, well. This sort of revenge does not serve the standing of a world power. If Melkert is covering up wrongdoing, just keep on digging up the facts.