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On April 23rd 1616, the world lost William Shakespeare. No particular reference to his works need to be given as they top any proper list of English literature and even giving my favorites would be borderline tedious seeing how many there are. The Illustrious Bard lived at a time when the calendar in use was the old Julian one so that by our modern Gregorian dates he would actually have passed on the third of May. Still, the coincidence of that day is interesting as April 23rd is now Book Day! For French readers, please refer to the date of birth of Maurice Druon instead, the author of the excellent 7 books series The Accursed Kings amongst others.
But today is Book Day on account of another author’s passing and Spanish readers will be pleased to know that it was in 1923 to commemorate the death of the immense Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote. Except that Cervantes died the day before and was only interred on April 23rd 1616. Thus, the double coincidence of those great writers deaths is entirely fictitious and leaves the less renowned Druon whose novels had historical value as well as fiction as the real day boy! Oh, well!

It really doesn’t matter now does it? The important thing is to celebrate books, reading and through them learning as well as copyright that protects authors work ( please check the one at the top of this page, wink wink ). Whether you will choose a novel or a treatise does not matter, pick / buy a book today and just read!
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/world-book-and-copyright-day-2014

I remember my youth easily by the books that marked it. I begin reading at an early age, you see, in part through my parents putting me to bed with a book from utter infancy. I picked it up and that habit is still with me nearly half a century later . There was a plethora of books written by decent authors for children at the time so that I got to learn about Rome and the Gauls, China and Persia and almost feel like I accompanied Marco Polo on his travels from the comfort of my room. By the time I was 8, I turned to reading some of the books found in the family’s library and never understood why some said they were for adults. Saint-Exupery The Little Prince was followed by his Night Flight and Terre des Hommes without difficulty although reading The Wisdom of the Sands might have been a tad precocious. Then again, I also put my hands and eyes on Pushkin’s short story The Queen of Spades around 9 years old and was not even scared by that so … The important thing is that I never looked back. The following years saw me devour pretty much anything that I could access : Kid’s stuff for sure as Ivanhoe and Quentin Durward but also similar novels like Dumas’ The 3 Musketeers? Of course it did not hurt when a child was the center of the story as in Pagnol’s My Father’s glory but that still had me plunge heavily into mystery and detective works, feeling almost related to Sherlock Holmes, Arsène Lupin and Hercule Poirot. As I entered secondary school, the other wise drab library had an almost secret stash of science-fiction and since it was a boarding school and nothing better was available, these were my nighttime staples. The overall literary quality was not that high but my liking for the genre stuck and led me to discover Arthur C. Clark, Michael Crichton, Robert Heinlein and Philip K. Dick. And in that genre, two authors led to other interests. Through Robert Silverberg, I developed a liking for fantasy and only then read Tolkien for instance. And through my favorite Isaac Asimov, I turned to science and scientific history books.
All of this was my personal path but I was not alone in the literary jungle. School of course added many a philosopher or important work of some sort. And my parents and I have never stopped sharing the passion, introducing one another to genres and authors, a tradition that I gladly passed on to my own son.

It all started with kids book and bedtime stories. I could not imagine my life without books by now. I have read thousands and learned about so much. It doesn’t matter what type and from comics ( mostly the Franco-Belgian school ) to textbooks, from fairy tales to essays, books have expanded my horizon. I was lost on deserted islands with De Foe and reached the depths of Earth and Seas with Verne. America’s South of yore is Beecher Stowe and Twain imprinted and Commager’s The Blue and the Grey thought me war before I even was old enough to serve just as I since found it alive in Rambaud’s the Battle despite one being accounts and the other a novel.

Authors like Balzac, Beckett or Brontë to Dickens & Dostoevsky in Europe or Goethe and Schiller for that matter, titles like Mahabharata, A mad man’s Diary or complex The Tale of Genji that I all regret not having been able to read in their original language that made Asia come alive as Rumi did for Persia and recently deceased Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Fuentes in Latin America, Melville, Poe and Steinbeck in the US, those and so many others, how could I have done without them, I really wonder! They sometimes feel closer friends than the people I hear about on the news tearing our world apart for power and money feel real.

To read, to experience through the author’s words the world as it is or might have been is never a loss of time as hours of reading can open the mind to years and centuries of living. And indeed, we do say of a proper book that it makes its subject “come alive”?

Get yourself a book on Book Day or better yet, get one for someone else that their life can be changed forever through reading, Tay.

April 22nd is the International Day of the Earth. Numerous organizations already do an excellent work of promoting this awareness raising celebration of our planet so that I thought there was no need to do os myself. Instead, I choose to offer my readers 10 informations, ranging from fun coincidence to useful links, from thoughts to tools. In recognition of the fact that we all live in a generational starship, in a giant natural cosmic Arch quite similar to that of the legendary Noah, and that no one can singularly claim ownership of it so that from nation to individual we have to learn to share less all suffer the fate of ultimately becoming homeless, here are 10 things to mark Earth Day with :

10 – First of course, the original document signed in the United Nations in 2009 as brought forth by Bolivian President Evo Morales who mentioned that it took 60 years to complement the Human Rights Declaration with the essential recognition of Mother Earth. That one is for your archives.
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/ga10823.doc.htm

9 – The link to Earth Day Network that carries the torch for this cause. http://www.earthday.org/
valentines_day
You’ll find that they have a strong network ( as their name implies ) of partners that can be found here : http://www.earthday.org/our-partners which brings us to our next offering.

8 – Earth is the most global of causes but it can be addressed in a myriad of ways. Let’s mention a few from the list above and elsewhere. I have friends and family that strive towards the vegetarian lifestyle. While this is not my thing, it is a valid contribution to ecology since our modern food production and distribution system is easily one of the least fair and certainly one of the most wasteful. At the very least, you could then contribute to PeTA / http://www.peta.org/ . Even if not attracted by the vegan lifestyle, you may like me have a deep attachment to the beauty of wild life. So the WWF that I have followed since my tender youth may be for you http://worldwildlife.org/ and if not, Earth Day might be the perfect time to join a conservation society like Audubon in the US or any local club in your area? Science is also very present in the fight for preservation of this planet. In the partners list above one finds NASA, for instance ( to which we will come back below ). You’d be very surprised to know how much is spent in space by many governments to learn how to care for that big rock down below. And last but not least, there are educative channels both in the real sense and the TV one. It is extremely rare that folks intent on teaching others about the world don’t defend it themselves. Encouraging or following those provider of knowledge automatically spreads the good word. Do check that nine page list from number nine and you’ll almost certainly find one for you or the inspiration as to where to look for on a local level.

7 – In fact, learning can be a great & fun way to celebrate the Earth’s beauty and diversity. Here is a cute coincidence form today’s news. The lyre is of course a musical instrument dating back to Ancient Greece. But that civilization had a profound imprint on our development and terms from it were often used by ensuing scholars to describe or name a variety of unrelated discoveries. Thus a bird from Australia is named the Lyre bird. You may know this animal for its incredible tail plumage reminiscent of the peacock’s. Its ability to sing is however even more particular and exceptional. Check it out at National Geographic :
http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/weirdest-superb-lyrebird
Today or rather tonight, you could turn your eyes to the sky and find a name sake : The Lyra constellation. If you do, you will be granted the majestic show of a meteor shower that originates form it and peaks on April 22-23 for 2014! A gift from the Sky for Earth Night then? Just get to the trusted Deborah Byrd ( sic ) site EarthSky to know how to spot these Lyrids :
http://earthsky.org/tonight/two-stars-lead-to-constellation-hercules
In general, a great way to celebrate Earth Day might be simply to use the computer with your friends and kids and learn about it!

6 – But if you’re the type that wants to participate in more global events, here is another way :
http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/globalselfie/#.U1ajMkZ5d2g
Take a selfie and send it to NASA. They will use all images forwarded to them to make a mosaic image of Earth. That is a composite image where each pixels is actually a single picture used according to its average chromatic value ( say blue dominant tone ) and put together to paint one big portrait. This is a beautiful idea IMHoO! Aren’t we all a small part of that Earth after all and is it not precisely that that Earth Day asks us to embrace?

5 – If you wonder by the way what your contribution to the Earth’s fate is, you might be interested in this other page from the Earth Day Network :
http://www.earthday.org/footprint-calculator
By using that tool, you’ll be given a broad idea of your ecological footprint or in other words, how much your lifestyle influences the planet’s well-being? If it happens to be too high, that may bring you to decide to push yourselves a bit to make changes? And if you are lucky and good enough to score very low, the pride may encourage you to persevere!

4 – As part of Earth Day, this avid cyclist could not do without a word on the world most energetically efficient mode of transportation. Since This year’s Earth Day is themed around green cities, how to bring back nature in our towns which is also a pet peeve of mine, here is a CNN video about the Danish capital of Copenhagen that is at the forefront of the fight to reclaim the big human habitats for … well, humans!

3 – As sad as it may be, we just could not restrict ourselves to good news on such a day considering how much needs to be done so that I have to give you this link to this piece from the Atlantic on the cost of Global Change outlining how little research has been done to evaluate it. Which as the authors propose is too bad since money and how its made contributes a lot to the situation. It follows then that if we could present the problem in terms that finance gurus could understand ( dollars, Euros, Yens, etc ), it might help to get them onboard?
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/04/the-economic-case-for-acting-on-climate-change/360995/

2 – This one comes from our own pages and gives a definition of the terms of an ecological consideration of Justice for all. We just cannot do without clearly stated ideas of what the fight is about. Please feel free once you’ve read it to either share a link to it or if you find it lacking, not to simply stop at discontentment and write your own. Think our future!
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2013/04/04/ethical-ecological-statement-rights-of-the-living/

1 – Finally, few people know this but the Earth has anthem! Yes, just as The Star Spangled Banner, God save the Queen or La Marseillaise, if less virile in expression, a song was composed by Abhay K of India to represent us all. It is accordingly multilingual, the official languages of the UN basic French & English plus Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and Russian by number of speakers to which the author’s original and again numbers added Hindi and the singer, the Original screening place and the World’s tallest peak coincide to justify the addition of Nepali. It may not stick as the definitive one but it opens the discussion and Abhay K. and his team are quite open about that. It is intended for freedom of copyright so that it could be shared freely. Don’t hesitate to?

Good Earth Day all, Tay.

In the 1950′s, science-fiction portrayed rockets coming back form space to land upright at spaceports and deliver their payload. Kids were raised with the idea that going to space would one day be normal, ending by literally parking your spacecraft just as you stop the family car in the driveway. It was not to be.

Instead, we went to space with Yuri Gagarin and to the Moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on huge towers of metal and kerosene, liquid hydrogen or oxygen that either fell back down to be discarded or burned in the upper atmosphere upon re-entry. When the astronauts themselves returned, it was to splash in the ocean or thump down in the Siberian steppes as they last did on March 11 2014 :

Click for link.

Click for link.

But at last, at long last, the Space X company led by Elon Musk managed the first demonstration of that dream from a generation back. Their Falcon 9R ( for Reusable ) rocket finally proved that travel to the stars might soon become a two-way trip. They launched their rocket up to the measly altitude of 250 meters, granted but what happened next was the stuff of fiction until last Friday. The following images of that rocket rising, hovering and landing back under control may not seem like much and yet, they were a generation in the making and open a brand new era that will last many many lifetimes, forever even.

If you care about ecology and shun throw away stuff for instance, this should matter to you.
Thanks for making the dream reality gang, Tay.

Selfies are pictures taken of oneself by oneself and thus thrice self concerned even if not centered are selfish in nature hence their name.
[ The above sentence contains a recursive pun in its numeral expression; don’t hesitate to re-read it until that surfaces. ]

We’ll prove in an instant that selfies are indeed selfish but let us first retrace their history. The first selfies known to mankind date back to the beginnings ( of mankind not of the trend ). On cave walls all over the world, people made portraits of their existence to make it more real / endure ( and sic ).
altamirahandssm
Some experts deny these being true selfies as the paint was mouth blown onto the surface and DNA analysis cannot confirm that the mouth and hand belong to the same individual since they stupidly passed away since. This is quabbling by naysayers since an alternative technique saw the hand covered in paint ( ocre ) and affixed to the support thus making it a proper selfie. The essence of the practice is still to express that Grumpf ( long gone original version of Kilroy ) was here which is the exact same reasoning behind teens locking themselves in the bathroom with an IPhone. Nothing or very little changed until photography came along. Yes, more apt artists with better tools painted auto-portraits in the following thousands of years but that is merely a distinction in means and abilities, not one in essence.
1310227-Vincent_Van_Gogh_Autoportrait_à_loreille_coupée

Even after photography mind you, the practice of selfies did endure. early photography was a rather lengthy process as light had to gather on the plates or film over many seconds and up to a few minutes. This allowed the person setting the camera to join the subject and pose. And beyond that, when at last photos became instantaneous, delay mechanisms existed on better cameras to allow for it. Strangely enough, the fad of photographing yourself alone did not pick up immediately. Oh, for sure, it still happened on occasion, usually by mistake and in that sense, my first selfie was taken at the tender age of 6 and looked something like this :
Area 51 the truth
I did not intend to make one though and simply and stupidly put my pudgy finger in front of the lens as I tried to snap my mom and dad like a big boy! It is still a photograph of me by me but lacks the intent and thus does not constitute a true selfie.
No, selfies are a very recent thing which confirms their nature as an individualistic neurosis made possible by simpler and more common tools of the electronic age as will soon become evident and warrant the link with Sufi poetry mentioned in our title. The reason for their surfacing is that their newest digital support allows and coincides with increased instantaneity, which is the same as lessened meaning i.e. lesser responsibility, a selfish component in and of itself. Ask yourself how popular that act would be if the girl in the mirror had to wait a couple weeks before handing out prints to her friends. Snap, pic, send and no introspection whatsoever : the selfie is so selfish that even the author and subject is barely concerned or aware!
By the way girls, that is A selfie :
RDAF-F-16_2842612b

What differentiates a selfie from a “normal” photograph is its purpose. A photograph serves either as a record or a art. Reporters and in particular war photographers capture images so that you may learn the truth of far away events. But art photography is art in its purest sense. As an example, check the work of my fellow blogger Javier : http://javiergmphotography.com/
He mostly photographs architecture and yet, the presence of the flow is unmistakable. An arcature, even a simple window almost seem to move when photographed by him because he sees beauty. And that is the essence of art! In almost direct opposition to our opening definition of a selfie, I have built my own definition of art as : the sincere expression or perception of beauty ideally realized through the coincidence of both. In other words, an artist attempts to express beautifully what he/she comprehends and that is art in and of itself as is the perception of beauty by an onlooker in anything, regardless of whether or not esthetic qualities were intended by the origin. Of course when the intent and the perception coincide, art is undeniable? The artist may try to express beauty without an audience and the admirer may find beauty where no one put it though and the adjective in my definition confirms that it is still art in either cases.
Having understood this now allows us to consider the Sufi poetry link although it is by no means restricted to a given occurrence of that literary genre. The reason why I used it is rather temporal itself, a bit selfish if you will. Today, I found this very correct opinion piece on Al-Jazeera by Mohamed Ghilan. In it, the author rightfully deplores the common modern understanding of such great poets as Rumi ( whom we covered here in a succinct past Post : http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2012/12/17/december-17th-miscellany-bin-a-quiet-post/ ).
A sentence in his otherwise excellent analysis ( http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/04/what-was-rumi-talking-about-201441816134209701.html / Please. please read it? ) struck me as perfectly related to and symptomatic of our subject :
”The Self reigns supreme in place of anything external to it. It is therefore ironic that religious Sufi symbolism, which was used to express annihilation of the Self in the presence of the Divine, is now being used to express the elation of the Self in the presence of another’s.”
To deconstruct this excerpt is to validate both Mohamed’s and my own viewpoints and link them to the era we live in. The self-ie reigns supreme in place of anything external to it because communication has become so easy that what it conveys, formerly its essence, is now inconsequential compared to how fast it spreads and/or how many folks it reaches, maybe even as its originator the simple fact that it is/exists. The annihilation of the Self to the Divine is impossible to those who lack knowledge enough to comprehend the importance of either and the elation of the Self is now guaranteed because the presence of the other is now virtual, i.e. uncertain, i.e. varying in both number and certainty, enough not to matter?
The selfie taker likely ignores that while their image shows only themselves and only represents their uncertain worthiness, the poet’s words on his lost love transcend to your own lost love and further our common lost of God’s love. Never mind that this author uses a pseudo to distantiate his self from his subjects so that the reader will be able to concentrate on the ideas. Never mind that in literature, the works last beyond the author ( Gabriel Garcia Marquez died yesterday for instance but if you read this post in a hundred years, still do read 100 Years of Solitude ). Never mind that being more than a link in the chain or a brick in the wall asks of you to understand the process and your place in it. Just snap that mirror any which way since the phone has auto-focus which you lack and press send. It does save you from wondering on how what is concerned for what purpose and to what result.

When I write Poetry, I have to. Making it beautiful is more of a concession to the universality of the feeling that forces me to it than in any way a concession to the potential reader. Rumi, Keats, Wang Wei and Aragon also did this although I’m afraid with infinitely more talent. May I ask respectfully what it is exactly that you wish to convey when you take that selfie? If you’re truly convinced that it is unfathomable beauty that the world couldn’t live without, I bow to your self-esteem as deeply as I cry on the death of ideas. When the world will have passed into the transcendence of thinking by giving up to virtuality of being the reality of feeling, the Poets will have lived felt and written in vain: So much ado about nothing.

Keep taking those pics though, girls and boys, for Mohamed and I will keep writing from the shoulders of Rumi and the others on which we stand, Tay.

As I was unlocking my bike in central town, a handicapped person brushed by aiming for the bus stop. It’s often hard to describe a handicap but in the concerned case, my buddies and I have a term that fits : all crooked. It doesn’t specify whether the crookedness is mainly physical in origin or mostly of neuro-mental source, just that the person has major difficulties in controlling their body and its movements.
The all crooked guy in question reached the general zone of the bus stop but apparently couldn’t decide or find his line of choice. In his defense, it is one of those multi-routes stop where different buses sometimes fight for preeminence with a delicious ballet of me first moves. Very reasonably, he started asking out loud for help : – “Bus number 7, please?”

At this point, the story gets interesting because a dapper gentleman turned around and hesitantly but firmly grabbed his elbow. Very British in appearance, classy vintage Ray-Ban shades, with a cane of good make, deep colored wood and silver knob, he soothed his new care : – “Don’t worry, it’s coming!” And indeed the 7 was pulling in at that very moment. The gentleman pulled his all crooked towards the front door as it opened and exchanged a few words with the driver – “You’re number 7, right? This poor man needs help, he’s handicapped!”
Courteously, which is sadly not a given with transit authority personnel where I reside, the driver said that yes, his line was 7 and that no problem, he’d take care of the person whom he got up to help board the vehicle.

As I swung a leg up over my trusted steed, the gentleman turned back to wait for his own bus and something that I hadn’t noticed until then struck me. By the tip of his cane was a discreet dual band of white and red which explained why he did not return my appreciative smile as he was blind!!!

So, what’s your take on handicap? Quite relative, wouldn’t you say?

images-1

Good evening all, Tay.

Copyright - Douglas M. MacIlroy

Copyright – Douglas M. MacIlroy

“Dad, why am I not on that photo?”
“Look at your sister’s age. You were too young. Your mom would have called child services on me.”
“So you never did funny stuff with me? That’s unfair!”
“Who says I didn’t?”
“I sure don’t remember it!”
“Let’s see! Do you still swear you had an elephant when you were little?”
“I did! Its name was Dumbo!”
“Grampa’s 1961 grey Econoline, a big cardboard box painted the same with flaps open on its windshield, a vacuum cleaner’s hose and duct tape!”
“OOOOH? Really?”
“See? Who’s dumbo now?”
“And people call me weird …”

vanimal

redsep

( 100 words / 0 numerals ; title not included )

The above short story is an entry to a weekly challenge on WordPress called : Friday Fictioneers!

The idea is to write a hundred words short fiction ( flash ) story upon the prompt that is provided by Rochelle under the form of the above picture.

Small cheat here, when there are suspension points, the title is meant to provide the drop / ending to the story? ;)

Thanks then to Rochelle whose blog is found here :

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/friday-fictioneers-2/

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/18-april-2014/

and I hope my readers will like it.

Tay.

Africa is quite busy with important stuff today and no I am not talking about trying to find out whether a rich white man killed a rich white woman at the bottom of the continent. But it’s as good a starting point as any so let’s work our way up from South Africa.

 

Immediately above, we find Namibia where the ex-workers of the Rössing uranium mine are saddled with above average cancer rates. Namibia produces around 7% of the essential nuclear fuel and weaponry element.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/15/uranium-workers-dying-cancer-rio-tinto-namibia-mine

 

Africa is also one of the best preserved continents on the whole as far as nature is concerned. If you love animals, do check the exceptional relationship that photographer Will Burrard-Lucas developed with the cute little critters :

His blog is here : http://blog.burrard-lucas.com/

 

Zimbabwe turns 34 year old tomorrow. While this is young for a nation, it is old for a government such as that of robert Mugabe who has remained in power since the country gained independence in 1980. This kind of thing that we often denounced on Definitive Lapse of Reason is one of the plight of Africa : too much reliance on men and not enough on the people. The same goes for Rwanda stuck in post-genocide mode by Paul Kagame and as we will see in our main feature has kept otherwise beautiful and rich lands in dire straits.

http://www.radiovop.com/index.php/national-news/10769-zimbabwe-34-the-more-things-change-the-more-they-remain-the-same.html

 

Right off the East coast is Madagascar, a tragic story for sure. The exceptional geography and biodiversity should make the place a touristic haven. Sadly, poverty is so horrid that visitors have better have strong stomachs to handle the sights. The island is battling an HIV epidemic as many other lands in the southern part of the continent and the subject of the day is not rosy either :
http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/news-release/2014/04-17-madagascar-antananarivo-workshop-overcrowding-prison.htm
prison overcrowding as reported on by the Red Cross.

 

On the Atlantic coast however, Angola just awarded a giant offshore project for oil drilling that will hopefully benefit the Nation. In truth, after years of war, Angola has made moves that bettered the lives of the population including such a health clean-up that it now postulates for hosting the African Disease prevention and control center. Good luck, Angola!

http://www.ibtimes.com/angola-moving-oils-big-leagues-it-leaves-decades-war-behind-1572751

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Why-Angola-may-be-the-next-OPEC-Darling.html

In truth, after years of war, Angola has made moves that bettered the lives of the population including such a health clean-up that it now postulates for hosting the African Disease prevention and control center. Good luck, Angola!

http://allafrica.com/stories/201404170629.html

 

Tanzania is one of the nicest lands in the central african region for sure. Sadly, it has to contend with disruptive neighbours. For instance, it borders the Congo Democratic Republic where one of the dirtiest on-going war on Earth is taking place, including rape being used as a weapon by all sides. Rwanda’s Kagame backs some rebels as do others like Uganda. This doesn’t please Tanzanians and their President Jakaya Kikwete which contributes force to the UN is getting impatient as he well might :

http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2014/04/16/tanzanian-president-warns-congo-rebels-to-disarm

Said Democratic Republic of Congo is seemingly worried about the situation in CAR to which we will come in an instant according to the newspapers. It should take care of its own business first. As we just mentioned, there is a rape epidemic of incredible magnitude going on :

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp/story.asp?NewsID=47534&Cr=sexual+violence&Cr1=#.U1AZvUZQrsY

and nothing new either as we reported here last year :

http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2013/06/15/congo-children-rape-crisis-and-the-relativity-of-news-media/

 

Kenya and Uganda are doing reasonably well apart from having to contain Somalia’s lawlessness :

http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/654630-uganda-deploys-new-force-in-somalia.html

and welcoming the masses fleeing South Sudan :

http://allafrica.com/stories/201404161544.html

South Sudan where the in-house fighting has not abated, the militias attacking UN bases in hope ( sic ) of reaching the civilians that the Peacekeepers protect

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/17/south-sudan-clashes-dozens-injured

famine is threatening

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/04/south-sudan-brink-famine-un-chief-2014416224819607663.html

a situation so normal by now that the world has stopped caring as explained in this Huffington Post/ World Vision NGO piece?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/world-vision/why-is-the-world-abandoni_b_5159839.html

 

Completing the North East sweep, Ethiopia is slowing fixing itself, Egypt is under the strong hand of its military overlords which the readers likely know by now so that I’ll let them research and comment on their own and Libya is in its usual state of unrest with no less than 2 diplomats ( Jordan and Tunisia ) kidnapped in the last 48 hours :

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/15/world/meast/libya-ambassador-kidnapped/

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Apr-17/253668-tunisian-diplomat-kidnapped-in-libya-security-source.ashx#axzz2zAeb4PCx

 

Let’s come back down to the heart of the continent and move back up but to the West. Most of the countries in that left upper hand quadrant of Africa are doing reasonably well. There are problems to be sure but in most nations, culture and the economy are as important as politics or more which is certainly a good sign of sorts. Those that constitutes exceptions are however not light cases by any means and we will say a few more words on these.

 

Central African Republic.

You certainly know the context. In March 2013, Seleka rebels of Muslim obedience grabbed power through a coup and began long months of constant exactions committed on the majority Christian population. From September onward, France pressed the UN to act in order to prevent a breakdown of the country. A decision took 2 and a half months and when the French soldiers got there in December, disarming the Seleka was relatively easy. What followed though is not as simple. Local militias dubbed anti-blaka formed and the so-called Christians thirst for vengeance is unending. In a sad reminder of the Rwandan genocide, the French soldiers and the African Union Minusma force that was there ahead of them now have to protect the bad guys from the good ones? UN interventions very often produce such results for being either undermanned, lacking in authority or delayed for too long. This is why I sincerely believe that Africa ultimately has to solve its own problems. Maybe the ex-colonial powers can provide assistance in training the militaries or as France does by keeping bases on the ready for things go bad but it should be up to Africans to care for Africa. Regional pools of soldiers from the nations that have the capacities is the way to go. Yes, the MISCA had to ask Chadian elements to leave as they were siding with the Seleka

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27052367

but Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon and Gabon are still there and Morocco has sent a couple hundred men too. These African nations are taking their responsabilites. So is France as the ex-colonila power. The rest of the gang … not so much! The US has a few troops but this is the latest we have heard about the European Union’s involvement :

http://www.bruxelles2.eu/zones/tchad-soudan/qui-participe-a-loperation-eufor-rca-letat-des-forces.html

In order of importance, Hungary was rejected for lack of strength, Belgium couldn’t decide and Romania is now too concerned with the situation in Ukraine. Greece will host the headquarters … in Greece that is? Sweden, Germany and the UK will provide transportation but no soldiers although for the Germans the reflection is on-going, a couple officers at desks most likely, maybe just maybe a few soldiers. Portugal offers a cargo plane and its pilots and mechanics on the Bangui airport and Italy will send 40 engineers to maintain the camp! Finland at least is sending 24 troops for interacting with the population and disarming bombs. Spain will be the biggest player ( apart from France itself, of course ) with 75 + troops ( Special Forces and Guardia Civil ). Poland, Estonia and Latvia will send roughly 50-55 men which for the size of the latter 2 is important. And guess, what, Georgia will send as much although not a part of the European Union? That’s it! The rest of the 28 members of the EU won’t show up nor anyone else! Compare that to the nearly 2,000 total men of the Sangaris Operation  & 6,000 of MISCA and wonder why the ex-colonial power is still so involved. Because no one else wants to, that’s why! Oh, the UN finally decided to send up to 12,000 pecekleepers mind you but expects to get there by … September!!! A full year after the warnings lights started blinking frantically!

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2014/sc11349.doc.htm

So NGOs are worried,

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/eu-and-african-leaders-must-not-fail-people-central-african-republic-2014-04-02

the Muslims are fleeing as found in this classic excellent LA Times report

http://graphics.latimes.com/flight-from-rage/

and the good will is rare though it exists :

http://www.euronews.com/2014/04/16/christians-and-muslims-in-bangui-working-together-for-peace/

Shameful!

 

Nigeria.

A little to the North East we find Nigeria where roughly 100 schoolgirls were abducted.

http://www.euronews.com/2014/04/16/nigerian-schoolgirls-abducted-by-islamists-more-than-100-missing/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27049803

The second link reports that most of them are back but 8 are still missing but still check the former as the video in it shows a map of the Islamists’ presence in the region with CAR at lower right ( and DRC directly below it ), Nigeria up & left of it and our last two subjects on top ( Mali & Algeria ). As for Nigeria’s plight, it has a name known to all that follow the news, Boko Haram! I’ll let you check the CNN piece below because honestly, if Islam does not have a great record in its overall treatment of women, the particular case of those fanatics as the Talibans and Boko Haram that attack young girls to stop them from learning gets stuck up my throat hard. Attacking little girls is anything but a proof of manhood, capisce?

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/17/world/africa/boko-haram-explainer/

 

Mali.

The operations in Mali are not over. The French Opération Serval is ending soon but both them and the various other soldiers present ( from African to Chinese Blue Helmets ). For proof, the French Special Forces liberated 5 Malian aid workers today.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/french-military-frees-aid-workers-mali-23366933

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27072986

The Islamist are still roaming around though as evidenced by 40 of them being neutralized by the French troops last month. The Sahara and especially the unsupervised Libyan South is a perfect hideout for them. Which again goes to show in my opinion that Africa has to build its own defences. In Mali, the threat is clearly terrorist in nature. For that reason, the French were more than happy to answer their defence agreement with the country and hunt AQMI et al and the rest of the World jumped in after the big job was done. In CAR, the Selekas were Muslim of faith but not islamists in nature and there only France as ex-colonial power answered? And Boko Haram although Islamist is a national Nigerian entity and  the local government is not getting much help if any? When the problems are local ones, the solutions should be too?

 

Algeria.

 

Finally we reach the end of our tour with another ex-colony of France, the first one on african soil in fact and to the exception of the minuscule Djibouti, the last one also. The colonization had started in 1830 and independence only came in 1962. Two factors in particular contributed to this nation being a special case. First, Algeria had a rich past including having been part of many historic ensembles from Carthage to the Ottomans and a specific subdivision of its territory known as Kabylia of Berber ethnic background.   Second, the colonization of the country was one of the least amenable by this power with all sorts of rules keeping the locals under a sort of Apartheid Lite which influenced even those that moved to France after the independence. That made for a particular set-up prior to independence and the movement was a laboratory of sorts for independentist movements to follow.

In the 1920, the Young algerians similar to the Young Turks were led by Emir Khaled, grand-son of Abd -el Kader that shone so brightly that he is recognized as the founder of modern Algeria as well as by France despite having valiantly fought the colonization. Then came Messali Hadj that was more of an Arab Nationalist with communist overtones. His movements eventually split along the lines of Arab vs Berber/Kabyle, Muslim vs secularist and activist preferences. But the jewel of the Algerian independence was a French intellectual by the name of Frantz Fanon. This native of Martinique was a psychiatrist, a philosopher and revolutionary. Influential on colonial, critical and Marxist theories, influenced by Haitian writer Aimé Césaire, his main work

    The Wretched of the Earth

was a bible to the likes of Ali Shariati, Steve Bilko, Malcom X and Che Guevara?

This powerful medley of incredibly varied sources could hardly survive peace. It is a sad fact of human knowledge that it flourishes best under stress. When things calm down, brilliance normally subsides to habit and ideas to systems. That is what happened in Algeria. On September 15 1963, Historic FLN leader Ahmed Ben Bella is elected President and immediately ditches the constitutional council. Less than 2 weeks later, a Socialist party forms the opposition. Both the party ( FFS ) and its founder Hocine Ait Ahmed endure today although the latter is in exile to evade a death sentence. A mere 2 years later in 1965, Houari Boumedienne ( also historic FLN as armed wing top leader ) that had risen to Minister of Defence under Ben Bella took over in a bloodless coup with the help of a young minister named Bouteflika and goes on to lead Algeria until 1976 as leader of a Revolutionary Council mainly composed of military men ( the nexus being from Oujda where Boutaflika was born ). The single party system of socialist state driven economy nationalized the oil industry in 1971 and kept in power through the Military Security office similar to soviet era surveillance agencies. In 1977, the political set-up he had built reverted to Presidential format but was by then entirely under his control and he, of course, won the referendum as sole candidate? He died a year later and was succeeded by Rabah Bitat by interim and then Chadli Bendjedid.  Apart from the police state, Boumedienne is credited in foreign policy with a steadfast mantra of a non-aligned nation, his long time FM being … Abelaziz Bouteflika.

The country entered a series of attempted reforms and general unrest. 10 years down the road, Bouteflika was back in the fold of the FLN and the next decade witnessed the assassination of the opponents favoring pluralism (87) and democracy repressed  (88) and the birth of an Islamic party ( FIS – 89 ). The same year, press freedom and opposition parties are restored. That did not survive the next election though. As the military fears a victory by the FIS. The neutral Boudiaf is named President, FIS is outlawed, civil war ensues and in 1992, Boudiaf is assassinated. An accord fails in 95 and the Army and GIA ( Armed Islamic Group ) keep on with their “dispute”. The already dubious constitution is amended ( 96 ) to outlaw basing political parties on religious and various other distinctions and the civil war/ violence trudges on.

Then in 1999, the military yearns to go back to killing extremists unhindered by the time-consuming task of holding power and hands things to their trusted Bouteflika who unsurprisingly wins the elections with close to three-fourths of the the votes. He goes on to attempt a social society concord plan only lightly underminded by the arrest of dissident FIS factions’ leaders and a Berber / Kabyle Black Spring in 2001. FIS leaders are feed 2 years later, those that don’t favor exile being regularly sent back to jail. Bouteflika proceeds to pass a charter for reconciliation that barely works save for not addressing the victims of past repressions’ fate. In 2009, the Constitution is amended to allow perpetual eligibility to the Presidential office and Abelaziz wins again with 90 % of the votes, certainly indicative of his growing popularity ;) .

Last year, President Bouteflika’s ailing health sends him to France for a three months hospital stay. He returns triumphant ( of course ) and wheelchair bound. Unable to walk or even talk, Abdelaziz reappears on national TV on March 3rd 2014 to justify his candidacy.

Today, Algeria was voting. Who do you think won?

 

Africa is a major concern of mine. I do think as said above that it needs to care for its security through autonomous military power. I even more sincerely believe that it needs to care for its future through its people. Guns are a plenty on the Black continent but minds are not lacking either. Every year, brilliant students get an education in Canada and the US, in France or the UK. They often end up finding jobs in these places however. How about a few more universities? How about teachers and engineers that don’t have to leave their homelands? How about hope? Being free to dream is the first of freedoms, after all. I dream of a better Africa! Until that dream is available to all that live there, my heart bleeds for it though.

 

Tay.

This morning, I found a comment on this blog from something called barbie porn IIRC. It reawakened an old pet peeve of mine, namely that I can get sex at my own leisure and don’t want it everywhere thank you and that there are many things pushed at us constantly by modernity and the communication era that I could also use in lesser amount. Or at least, that I don’t think are beneficial enough to our lives and society that they have to be everywhere even if it is technologically feasible?

Sex on everything.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a great fan of sex and credit it with some of the most pleasant, enjoyable and ultimately relaxing hours of my live and it was the way I ended up with my greatest joy : my son! I just don’t want it everywhere! For instance if I have to get operated for a brain tumor ( fingers crossed ) at some point, I’d rather sex / porn not be flashing across the neurosurgeon’s Google-protection-glasses during the procedure; tit might be distracting?

Besides, for many humans, at least those with average or above hormones levels, sex already is everywhere through that bunch of noodling neurons in our thick skulls, right? As the guy famously sang : It’s alwayays on my miiiind? ( Oops that might have been Georgia, sorry! ).

Seriously, ever since the Internet, sex has become omnipresent to the point of losing some of its edge and even becoming annoying. I remember the aforementioned son using the web when he was younger. Even with parental control activated on the browser, every time I heard him go Eeeew or Huh?, I knew some random page of what should have been innocuous information had just invited him to the “greatest time of his ( at that moment very young ) life” through the appearance of some ( at best ) scantily clad bimbo beauty. Even TV ads follow that trend : “-Dad, what is Viagra for?”.

One potent example of how not everything is better with sex might be found in entertainment. Most people probably remember famous fake wardrobe malfunction that made the SuperBowl half-time shows into an NC-17 affair, right? Well since then, singers of both ( all? ) sexes have made it a point to include gratuitous sex acts in their performances. this trend recently reached a peek with a given starlet whose last tour is an onstage reproduction ( pun intended ) of a porn film form the seventies or eighties. I don’t want to sound prudish but in this case, someone might want to remind Miley that such movies were renowned for their notoriously bad music? Just sayin’

Heck, sex everywhere might very well soon prove to be more dangerous than pleasurable and no, I don’t mean through catching something from it ( although it is funny that you used to be scared to catch a disease from regular sex and are nowadays virtually ( pun intended ) certain of catching a virus from it ). But think about the near future. We already have cell phones connected to the web that we use in our cars, with Bluetooth if you’re responsible and safety inclined to any degree. At the same times, the car makers are exploring ways of using enhanced reality to make driving safer. Speed indications flashed on the windshield as if it was a head-up display in a fighter jet and even road conditions warnings appearing directly on the pavement of wired highways are right around the corner ( both senses ). And I can’t help but asking : How is the apparition of a naked bimbo under the wheels or her enhanced boobies in front of the driver’s eyes are going to make driving safer exactly? Because with Bluetooth net connectivity, you know it’s gonna come? ;) About which …

 

The internet on everything

I’m sure you‘ve heard of the Internet of everything, a networked world of production and buying stuff supposed to save time and money. It,s not clear yet how much sense that makes but I suspect it will soon be joined by the Internet ON everything, a trend that has already started. In an episode of the American TV sitcom Big Band theory, the “guyeeks” are helping Penny the neighbor make hair decorations and want to add Bluetooth to it on the premise that : Everything is better with Bluetooth. They might have been joking and yet from what I witnessed in real life, the idea is already floating around some little heads. So Internet on nails and hammers? I mean seriously, there are Netcentric fridges available by now. The thing can monitor your consumption of food staples to order them from the store and ultimately get them delivered straight to your door so that you never go missing on any of them. Apart from the fact that I don’t get how my refrigerator could know what I want to eat when I sometimes don’t myself, it is the extension of that trend into a principle that has me worried. Next to the fridge in kin are the washers & dryers and maybe for those that use laundromats, a little browsing would be welcome as the clothes spin. But next to the fridge physically are the kitchen tools such as bowls and utensils. And there, one has to wonder : if we need Internet to buy our food maybe we need it to prepare it, right? So how about Internet on the big batter bowl so that you have the recipe available to you at all times, less you forget as you whisk what you were suppose to incorporate into the mix next and when? And if we move from web appliances to adding it to tools, where will it stop? Knowing the industrialo-capitalistic mantra of always increasing sales, making everything less durable to increase the replacement rate is a godsend and you know that the screen and Bluetooth on that stainless steel bowl will brake sooner than the thing itself or the spoon or mixer, right? So that as Internet migrates from appliances to tools, we can predict a web-enhanced hammer soon. It makes no sense at all but that never stopped products from being made and sold and the logical follow-through once the industry has convinced us through ads that we can’t live without Bluetooth hammers are nails with Internet. These will soon become the norm and I can easily envision a poor hermit type forced to buy them since regular ones are back order to build an old school house purposefully built away from any reception or signal tower?

And bugs have you thought of bugs?  If Internet gets onboard everything, your every moment will be swatting bugs away as if you were a fresh poop on a carcass by a campfire near a marsh at hunting season. Gross? Maybe, but even truer than that though!

Plus, Internet gets hacked easily. we are always being warned of a new virus of doom and security flaw of death. Your personal informations are not secure, your network are as hole-filled as Swiss cheese ( and/or those actre…. Oops, I didn’t say that ) and the NSA spying programs can catch you but apparently not them hackers? Do you really want everything you own and use to be at the mercy of both the government and the bad guys ( supposing there is a difference )?

 

Stealth on everything.

Stealth is the new buzz word in military hardware. The US has hurt two program the brilliant F-22 Raptor interceptor based on it and the next-generation destroyer Zumwalt class with it. The former went from 850 units to be made to 187 actually built before the production line was trashed as cost kept rising and the latter turned from a 30+ order into a meager 3 ships at ISO cost. Now, the Department of Defense is actively turning its lone fighter replacement program, F-35 JSF, from a fat cow into a fat calf or vice versa, into a white elephant in any case white a price tag of the same size that threatens to bring down a few collaborating allies’ air forces along with it. At least making a third, a fourth or a tenth of the planned numbers of weapons to be acquired to compensate for the additional costs of that technology is quite stealthy in and of itself. No matter what their shape, 3 boats are more difficult to spot than thirty but by that reasoning, why not stop buying armaments all together? The next Pentagon program will cost 5 billion trillions and end up acquiring nothing in the end due to costs overruns which will make the resulting armed forces incredibly stealthy ( can’t see them if they ain’t there ) and the cash spent on it will disappear from the radar screens faster than a South Asian airliner nonetheless. Move around, there’s nothing to be seen!

Stealth may be nice for uberplanes and I’m certain some of us would like to add it to that pesky co-worker or cumbersome spouse and yet, it is not a panacea. Kids have always made use of it an inopportune times : when you want them to rake the leaves and mow the grass or as you running late for departing on a trip or errand. Many things already disappear from radar easily : your cash flow by the end of the month, help when in need of it or false friends when the times get rough. My question is : do you understand how bad stealth can be if put on everything because then, trust me, you’ll never find your keys again. You might as well replace all locks with combination ones, heck, ones with Bluetooth so that you can input your passwords from the Internet? But as we know, passwords have a nasty habit of turning stealth in our memory themselves. Oh well just keep them simple and unforgettable : barbieporn69 maybe?

 

I sometimes dream of a simpler life back when … but if things press on with this smorgasbord of unnecessary complexification of everything, it won’t be me being retrograde for I can still imagine the future very well. At some point, we’ll found ourselves in the Skynet world of Terminators fighting Matrix agents and wonder how it so stealthily got there, busy that you were watching Internet porn on your monkey wrench. Me, I’ll be out biking on my unconnected old ride.

I’m out the door, Tay.

Are blood moons an omen?

The first of a tetrad ( a series of four ) Blood Moons ( the poetic name of full lunar eclipses ) just passed us yesterday and the world is buzzing with predictions, omens and maledictions. Does it make any sense? Are blood moons occurring in such rapid succession a sign? The short answer is yes!
Of what is it a sign then? Well, that depends who you ask. If you ask religious folks it depends on what calendar they use and where they live. We’ll come back to that in a minute. If you ask me or any scientifically inclined person, it is a sign of the regularity of celestial mechanics ( i.e. the way the Universe works, laws such as gravity, etc ) … and nothing else.

First, let us pose a simple observation : the Moon is the most important of signs from the heavens for most of humanity and has been since the cavemen. Why? Because it is the second most visible object in the sky ( after the Sun, in case you wondered ) and has the second fastest cycle of all. There is one celestial body with a fastest cycle but we tend to forget about it because it is not over our heads but under our feet : Earth! The alternation of days and night is due to our planet’s rotation on itself. Some people ( the Incas ) used to credit the Sun for this which is of course incorrect. The Moon on the other hand follows the first calendar ( as in regularity of many days in a cycle ) that Man ever understood. Coming back every 28 days to its full phase, it was the timekeeping piece of our ancestors even before they evolved into humans. This is shown on the legends about full moons that credit it with making people and animals “crazy” if not werewolfs. There is admittedly some truth to his : when the moon is full, the luminosity of the night is considerably heightened. That means that nocturnal animals that use the dark for protection become quite nervous. Strangely enough, this is not really justified since the nocturnal predators are actually hindered on average by the excess of illumination. They are made to hunt in darkness and light also makes them more conspicuous. Still the above the norm fretfulness of their preys raises the overall stress of the fauna, including their noise production which affects all living creatures. Full moons were hence thought to affect behaviour in a “magical way” and lots of extremely far-fetched if ingenious and creative fables ensued.
Apart form that supposed magic, the Moon was a very useful tool. Even near-sighted, all could see it. Its short cycle made for practical objective setting. And with a minimal amount of tweaking, it could be made to more or less fit the sideral year. Thus, most of older societies used a Moon-based calendar. Amongst those, past the Ancient Egyptians that disappeared since, Jews or other religions have inherited it. So did Islam by way of the Persians ( Iran ) and a few others.
As Humanity progressed in its ability to use the stars, it turned to the Sun for timekeeping. Stonehenge, the well known Celtic observatory in the UK is a reminder of this early shift. The most striking one was that of China however. Being both scientific and traditionalist, the Celestial Empire developed a lunisolar calendar that incorporates the advantages of both and endures today. Then came modern astronomy and Western Civilization shifted to the complicated but highly precise Gregorian calendar and the Moon was reduced to sidekick role!

Let us now come back to those that still use the Moon for keeping track of days and where they live. Don’t you find it strange that many Jews and Christians are going wild about the signification of the present tetrad of blood moons while we heard nary a cosmic conspiracy from the arab world? That is easily explained by the fact that lunar eclipses are not seen equally all over the Earth anymore than those of the Sun. Go check this page :
http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/list.html
In it, you will find the zones affected by the upcoming eclipses that comprise the tetrad.
path240
path240-1
path240-2
path240-3
Of the four, one is not total ( almost but not quite ) although it will still result in a blood moon and none concern the Middle-East? That alone explains why this tetrad frenzy is mostly a North American phenomenon ( the last one for Alaska only : Hello Sarah! ). I strongly suspect that if our common deity ( God ) has to carry a message about impending doom, it will make sure it reaches us all and not a mere 10 to 20% of the whole gang?
If we move from location to date ( Space-Time, that kind of thing, you know ), another interesting subset of reality shows up. Blood Moons ( caused by the longer wavelength of that color that does not get absorbed as easily by the atmosphere and lets it curve around to residually reach our satellite ) tetrads are normally found in sequence. It is not the fact that Blood Moons appear in 4-packs that is rare but that they appear at all. Otherwise said, tetrads are not abnormal, just infrequent. By analogy, having kids is normal but for the average person, it happens within a few years over an entire life ( rarely in childhood and old age but often over the first part of a marriage? ). There will thus be four to nine such tetrads in certain centuries whereas they sometimes will not occur for a couple hundred years. The present set is spread over 2014-15 and the next will cover 2032-33. For short lived creatures, a 2 year span might be significant for a rare thing to happen in but it makes no difference if one considers longer periods. Let me offer a few things that are much more significant than Blood Moons sets.
Volcanoes and earthquakes. Both eruptions and ground tremors have cycles. What’s more, both kill hundred or thousands of humans at a pop while no Blood Moon has ever been credited with a direct death? The only reason for such cataclysmic events not to be the source of fanatic religious augurs is that their cycles are totally unknown to the general public and barely understood by scientists.
Peace. Periods when the whole of Earth is at peace ( if only officially and not factually ) probably exist. If they do, they are certainly much rare than Blood Moons by tetrads or the dozen. It is only the fact that we have not recorded one conclusively and thus unrecognizable alone or by set that makes them impractical for going all mystical on each other?
Supernovas. Probably the rarest of celestial events, supernovas ( the explosion of hyper-concentrated giant hyper-active stars as their life ends ) have been recorded since as far back as the beginning of the modern era ( 185 AD/CE ). From then to the half of the 19th century, between 10 and 20 ( unconfirmed included ) supernovas were recorded. The first group has 3 happening within a 150 years ( 1006- 1156 ) and the second would had a set of 4 within 70 years around the turn of the fifth century. These 2 sets would be much rarer and supposedly more indicative of the end of the world if it was not that A- few religious nuts knew of them to spin their conspiracies on and B- the World is still turning? Besides, telescopes got better and we now believe that a supernova flares up every 50 years in the Milky Way ( our galaxy ) alone. The last one was discovered in January last [ http://www.ucl.ac.uk/maps-faculty/maps-news-publication/maps1405 ].

What the above means is that the use of a given cycles depends on impressionable and able to spot a mind is. For my part, I am still utterly baffled by the combustion engine cycle though not how it works but that we still use it? And yet I don’t spin any other conspiracy theory from it than the intense belief that humans are dimwits and bad omen than that we’re gonna flock our ecosystem. Please, if you don’t know astronomy, leave the Moon alone!

Sincerely, Tay.

Some of the crazies :
http://www.wnd.com/2014/04/move-over-obama-the-pen-and-phone-that-really-count/

http://www.pray4zion.org/TheComingBloodMoons.html

http://www.lawoftime.org/thirteenmoon/tutorial.html

Stupid moon! There will be a lunar eclipse tonight from 03H07 to 04h27! The Earth will slip between the Sun & Moon and only the residual light curving around our planet will reach our huge satellite, leaving it red which is what they call a blood Moon! Nice, right?

Yes, except that I will be sleeping at that point! No matter how much I enjoy poetic sights, I can’t wake up in the middle of the night to watch an eclipse! I have a thousand kitties to drown at work tomorrow before the morning break and  600 fruit flies to milk before noon because of the darn seminar on invading small democracies without getting bitten by zombies! I have to be in tip top shape. Plus it’s going to be raining anyway! Tonight, I mean.

So that since A- my multiple phone calls over the years to have the government regulate weather so that it fits my needs and schedule have either been disregarded or hanged upon ( save the couple times when they sent the cops ) and B- I really think that the combination of the werewolf ball and the blood dripping Moon ( Lunar eclipses only occur during full moons in case you didn’t know ) are one of the most delicate pleasures of nature ( right behind swimming in a bay packed full of jelly fish and being greeted by coarse salt throwing natives as you barely make it back to shore ), I hereby request that the government put all its might into making Lunar Eclipses by day from now on so that we don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to watch them instead of squandering my hard earned tax money for frivolous stiff like free health care and public schools!

It is available for all like minded people by going to the Excellent ipetitions activists electronic complaints site :

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lunar-eclipses-to-be-held-by-day

Please, help me get the ugly rest I need to keep my second job at scaring kids into doing their flocking homework and if you don’t live in the Middle-East or Russia, nice eclipse for those who have the energy to get up,

Tay.

P.S. if you really want information on the stupid eclipse, please check this excellent astronomy news site :

http://earthsky.org/tonight

The World awaits for the next bad news to come out on the next bad move in Ukraine; there is no better way to sum up the situation. From the onset, the present crisis was a series of understatements at best and untruths more realistically ( i.e. at worst ). There are reasons for the actual mess but these have almost never been heard over the noise of the conceited opinions and that of the polarized news coverage from one side or the other. How could this writer predict for instance ( in repeated posts * ) that Russian troops would be sent in Ukraine while almost all others sources got surprised by the mysterious armed men’s apparition : simply by calling a cat a cat beyond personal preference. As the clock is ticking again on violence, interventions and partition, in short as Ukraine is ripping apart, it is time to come back on that succession of misleading misnomers and assumptions that kept the World from helping solve this crisis. Let’s start by enumerating the facts :

 

Fact : Euromaidan was a misnomer and illegal. The 2004 civil protests that led to a re-run of the dubious elections “won” by Viktor Yanukovych were called in the Western press : the Orange Revolution. But this is wrong : revolutions are dirty bloody affairs, always, even the best of them. To wit, the French Revolutions that produced a wide spreading of enlightened ideas on humanity as evidenced by its Declaration of Rights being copied by the UN’s Human Rights one cost not only the lives of the King and his family but that of countless revolutionaries that spent the ensuing years of power guillotining each other with a zeal that the best religious conflicts could envy. No violence of importance is attached to the 2004 civic movement in Kiev that attained its goal. By contrast, the Euromaidan movement morphed into a confrontation with authorities aimed at ousting the power but was called protests which was confirmed by the deal brokered by the trio of European Foreign Ministers to stop the crisis being ignored but was called protests. True that Yanukovich had lied first by promising a course of action ( Euro Shift ) in the prior elections that he later abandoned  although electoral promises are the most common type of lie in democracy apart from advertising and if every broken one led to a revolution … Said otherwise, police in New York dismantled the much smaller Occupy Wall Street movement after 2 months if you remember even though nary a stone was ever thrown and 200 were arrested including some press and their trials are ongoing ** so how do you think a EuroMaidan would have been dealt with? Granted that two wrongs don’t make a right but this  poetic choice of expression by the media allowed Moscow to begin its own propaganda and by coincidence with the Sochi Olympic Games to instill a sense of righteousness and power in Russian public opinion. All of which led to the farce of Vladimir Putin denouncing fascists and the right in the new Kiev government as if he was himself a paragon of socialist virtue, anything but a nationalistic autocrat. Still the truth remains that he only played on these lies up till then.

An accessory duo of lie and omission at that point was that the press refrained from warning the public that Olympics don’t stop wars anymore even if in this case for the glory gaining reason above they delayed an invasion and that it seems most analysts were busy watching bobsleigh or thought you were and forgot to tell you that the Crimean peninsula and Sevastopol Black Sea fleet base were vital for Russia, i.e. to be kept by any means which any geo-political observer worth half its salt has known since the end of the 18th century no less.

 

Fact : Crimea was invaded and its referendum illegal. Calling the troops that spread over Crimea “mysterious armed men” was wrong. If you watched all sources, some of the troops admitted to being Russian in front of the cameras. Of course, for this to be considered a true fact would have required someone to actually gather proof. This not having been the case, we cannot directly fault Putin with having lied, mind you! But we can still deduce it in retrospect not only by the equipment of these soldiers but from the fact that after the referendum and rejoining Moscow’s embrace, Russian troops dismantled the Ukrainian forces in the peninsula thus proving that these were not the ones “protecting” the place prior to the vote. Said vote was also illegal for other reasons of course but that only compound the imprecision allowed by the “mysterious armed men” phrase. For one, the Crimean parliament was under lock-down by armed militias. But having called the events surrounding EuroMaidan “peaceful protests” in fact restricted any possible outrage at this? Again, two wrongs do  not make a right except that sometimes they do. In this case, the consideration is that in past cases, the international community has played with the rules to allow for de facto recognition of secessionist states. And since what is good for the goose is good for the gander and vice versa, it is now too late to do anything about it.

This actually bring up two other disputable interpretation of the truth ( i.e. lies ). One is that as armed men now occupy East Ukraine towns, some media are talking of a possible partition of Ukraine. Wake up, people! Partition of Ukraine has occurred; what else would Crimea’s departure be called? Unless you say further partition, it is a lie again. Another is historical in nature. Russia, the USA and the UK had signed an agreement in 1994 called the Budapest Memorandum promising to respect of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Again, there are to parts to this document’s implication in the present situation. Since those 3 nations promised not to threaten or use force against the Ukraine’s political and territorial independence, Russia is already  culprit of breaking its promise ( i.e. of having lied ). Or is it? Because since we have not clearly identified the “mysterious armed men”, maybe Moscow is not to blame? One could also fault both the UK & the US for not having held their end of the bargain ( i.e. of having lied ). That depends on two factors though.

One- if you consider the sanctions being waged at Russia since the Crimean separation was enacted by law in the Kremlin to be a proper answer then they held their promise … but if not, they lied!

Two- if you understand as explained here :
http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine-explainer-budapest-memorandum/25280502.html
that memorandum to be a diplomatic document and not a true treaty in a legally binding sense then it follows that neither the Anglo-Americans nor Moscow can be blamed but it confirms that diplomacy is a constant exchange of useless utterances about courses of action not to be necessarily respected, at best, knavish attempts to fool each other and the opinion, at worst : lies!

 

The above bring us back to the present situation at last and the on-going Gordian knot of consideration that the reader may hold until events make them fall in either the truth category or the lies bin. Are the city revolts in Slaviansk, Donetsk, Lougansk et al. legal? The truth is : no more or no less than the Kiev uprising. If their weapons come from abroad and they have exterior support, one could contend that they are but then again Moscow kept repeating that the fighters around EuroMaidan if not the movement as a whole were CIA or Western backed and no one answered that contention. Why would they accept any blame now unless proofs are brought to bear. And if no such proofs could be gathered for the identity of the “mysterious armed men” a month ago, do you really think that a gun is going to be seized from the streets of Eastern Ukraine  with a sticker of ownership by a Russian general or proclaiming it a gift from Moscow’s Foreign Minister? And if the rebels are all Ukrainian nationals with personal/local equipment, is it not a police affair to disarm them? Except that their acting as militias could warrant a military action but by who’s authority? That of the government back in Kiev?

Except that that government is temporary and will only gain full credit once the Presidential elections in may have been held and ideally followed by legislative ones. Except that if the unrest does not stop, the elections will not be valid over the entire territory of what remains of Ukraine than they were in Crimea. And a fight between an unrecognized power and secessionist elements is in fact a civil war which is pretty much the present state of things in Ukraine, saying the contrary would be tantamount to lying. That in turn brings us back to the fact that a previous lie of Moscow ( propaganda at best )  that Russians were in danger in Ukraine may become true enough to justify broadly an intervention with unmasked official troops this time. But things are so muddled by now that Putin may not even have to go that far. Crimea was urgent for strategic reasons but Eastern Ukraine is not. Besides, if the imprecise set-up we just evoked continues, there may be local referendums held in the interim which the void in factual authority will make difficult to condemn as illegal until their consequences fall under the protection of rights to independence. ***

 

That’s what you get from lying! Lies engender mistrust and uncertainty. Uncertainty makes one unable to project and plan ahead. And hesitation ensues that quite often cannot be resolved until the worst of consequences follow. To boot, today’s news  is a medley of unresolved options :

-Doing nothing :

http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine-abroad/reuters-ukraine-leaders-says-kyiv-not-against-referendum-343397.html

-Staying put :

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27018199

-Observing and waiting :

http://en.ria.ru/world/20140414/189215396/OSCE-Monitors-Arrive-in-Slaviansk.html

One link each from Ukraine, the West and Russia, mind you!

So what next? Well, the Ukrainian President wisely asked for UN troops to be deployed :

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/as-pro-russian-militants-ignore-deadline-ukraine-vows-to-continue-operation/2014/04/14/2f4bc1fa-c3bb-11e3-bcec-b71ee10e9bc3_story.html

That is an excellent measure, a half and half solution that would calm down the volatile game and spare Ukraine a civil war. The only problem will be to find contributors for such a force. Even if all 5 Security Council biggies refrained from vetoing it / agreed, it is a given that neither Moscow nor any NATO member nation would be considered neutral or acceptable. South-Central America does  not really have the manpower and african troops are pretty tied up by their continent’s hotspots.The Middle-East is busy around Syria so … China maybe? They have the means although they’ll need quite a few interpreters ( many chinese soldiers might have russian notions though but likely not Ukrainian ). Still, I can’t wait for that headline : China deploys troops in Eastern Europe! Even under Blue Helmet mandate, who would have thought a few years ago, right?  It would still be better than the present mess, of course! Soup of lies, steak of deceit with a side order of violence and military occupation for dessert, what a menu! I wouldn’t recommend Earth for eating out; no wonder we get so few customers and they don’t stay for a nightcap!

 

So sad because so true and that is no lie! Tay.

 

 

Additional reading, this correct piece by the Washington Post includes a list of opinion articles worth checking out for comparative study :

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2014/04/13/60e634a8-c31f-11e3-b574-f8748871856a_story.html

 

* http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/03/24/ukraines-armament-casus-belli-for-cold-war-2/

http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/03/06/crimeas-referendum-explained-in-5-pretexts/

and the first post -Feb.21- in which I predicted the Crimean invasion that I repeated the next day and until it happened :

http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/02/21/agreement-signed-in-kiev-is-ukraine-saved/

http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/02/22/fingers-crossed-on-ukraine/

** http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/nyregion/last-criminal-trial-stemming-from-occupy-wall-street-is-underway.html

*** http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_25_2625E.pdf

http://tv.dassault-aviation.com/The_Patrol_nEUROn_Rafale_Falcon_7X-1078-en.html
It finally came out and up to a point was a bit of a disappointment. Yes, it was a world premiere for a drone to fly in formation with two other aircrafts and of differing types.

Copyright Dassault Aviation - K. Tokunaga

Copyright Dassault Aviation – K. Tokunaga

And yes, this shows that soon, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles will take part in war missions. How soon? Well, that’s the part that this video does not answer. For you see, the press release by Dassault confirms that the nEUROn drone was piloted from its ground station. Now don’t get me wrong, the feat is still impressive. The interferences both aerodynamic and electromagnetic between the aircrafts make this kind of thing difficult as Dassault CEO Éric Trappier mentioned in the press release :
http://www.dassault-aviation.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2014/04/EN-Vol-Patrouille-nEUROn.pdf
And the aviation fan in me is appreciative of the beauty of the images in that video. But I had also expected more in my initial Post on the matter and when I mentioned that the usually shy aircraft maker had produced a Hollywood style teaser, I didn’t know how true it would come to be with as much if not more action in the preview than the real thing.
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/04/10/military-news-and-quiz-guess-the-dassault-world-premiere/
I had hoped for the nEUROn drone to move more and follow the leading fighter but still, as an ad, this video shows off the company’s World leading capacity to build both top drone, fighter and civilian aircraft very well.

This gives us an opportunity to explore the future of drones though. We know that such unmanned systems already fly, spy and bomb remotely controlled from very far away as the US Predator’s controversial use from California over the Afghani and Pakistani skies. This however is but a long-range version of what an aeromodelist does in the park on a sunny Saturday with a radio-controlled “toy”. Nothing forbids either that the controller be seated in an airplane and pilot the drone from there. That however has important limitations. In the air as in Dassault’s explanation, there can be interferences and even from the ground, losing control of a drone hundreds or thousands of kilometers away is possible. Worse yet, if someone hacks your drone and gains control of it, they could “airnap” your weapon. This is why the future of these, the part that will turn Unmanned Air Vehicles into UCombatAVs ( UCAV ), hinges on autonomous flight. This is already feasible in certain conditions. For instance, all modern airports have tools that could land the airliner on which you will travel to your next vacation without the pilot’s intervention. I gave references and links in the above previous Post about the landing and take-off of the American X-47 B UCAV demonstrator on a carrier and this too can be automated.
What will change the game is when whole missions into a contested air zone far away will be pre-programmed and the UCAV autonomous. This is one of the goals of the British Taranis UCAV program for instance. I had hoped for the nEUROn in the World Premiere to be following such a programmed flight and was a bit let down. When you look at the image in the said post of a Rafale in patrol with 2 nEUROns, it can’t be that these UCAV are entirely controlled by the WSO in the back seat ( the one in the video was there for safety purposes ). Aside from the aforementioned danger of interception, this would be too much workload over a long mission but also the amount of exchanges between the fighter and the drones would be ridiculous. Maybe more importantly, all these transmissions would not be discreet. For UCAVs to be useful in such a context, they have to include short distance situational awareness tools allowing them to keep relative positions to the manned jet. Once those are incorporated, the leader will only need short secure ( Link 16 ) command bursts : regroup, follow, etc. In a realistic setting, the UCAVs could be following a planned path ( programmed mission ) with terrain following ( pre-loaded maps ) mode and it would be the jet that follows them exactly as we saw in the video where the drone led the way and the fighter and biz jet flew in formation around it. In that sense, this was indeed a useful world premiere.
In that kind of a mission set-up, the manned aircraft with its full complement of transmission means ( a satellite link ideally ) could re-task the automated beasts if need be, switching to alternative loaded objectives or even adding new target coordinates. When all of this becomes real the UCAV will be incorporated in the aerial arsenal of modern nations. In a much more distant future, the possibility of such drones fighting air to air ( commonly known as dogfight ) will be the next goal. But coming back to the simpler aim and to what that Dassault video showed, what can we foretell? The basic technological bricks already exist. The American experience shows that basic flight maneuvers can be automated already. Long distance auto-pilot is standard on airliners. Full missions are being studied in programs like X-47B, nEUROn and Taranis. In 2025, if the funds are there and the results applied, there could be UCAVs available to reach the high-value targets that would be too heavily defended to risk a manned aircraft. Including the time for air forces to develop the related know-how and tactics, I feel it safe to project that in 2030, at least one nation ( most likely the USA ) will field UCAVs alongside fighters to attack and control the enemy’s airspace.

And in the meanwhile, we’ll have to make do with beautiful if soft images like those shot by Katsuhiko Tokunaga for Dassault. And for a good while yet, the real adrenaline pumping moves in military aviation will remain the appanage of human pilots. Hollywood movies apart, fighter jocks are not a thing of the past yet!

Good flights all, Tay.

http://www.dassault-aviation.com/en/dassault-aviation/press/press-kits/ucav-world-first-dassault-aviation/

Few is subjective in part but it cannot be less than 4 and certainly not as much as 10 either so here we’ll settle for 7. As for degrees well …
If you lived in country where there is a real winter, snow and ice and all, you probably noticed the transition periods. When temperatures drop in Autumn, 15 degrees Celsius is comfortable still but 8 is not. And a couple weeks later, 5 degrees is cold but -2℃ is … m’well … freezing! Of course the same goes true in Spring. One week finds you hesitating about shedding a single layer of warm clothing, the next between big and small coats and then next yet coat, sweater or nothing. A few degrees variation in each case makes quite a difference and as soon as nights pass over the freezing point everyone’s mood also goes up!

Applying temperature to something else, 105 degrees Celsius boil your tea water just fine but 105 degrees Fahrenheit send you to the hospital whereas 98 respectively mean no tea and no problem! What a difference a few degrees make?

Suppose now that you are in a small area looking for something of normal size at a distance of a few ( again ) meters and get told to turn 45 degrees to your left. That’s easily understood as halfway between a square turn left and keeping straight but in reality, we rarely turn precisely 45 degrees. And yet, if we scan a bit as we progress we are almost certain to find what we where looking for. If however you are leaving Mexico City facing North and get told to veer 45 degrees left or West if you prefer, you’d normally end up in the Sacramento area. A few degrees less get you in San Diego and a few more in Tucson or Phoenix, Arizona though? And the further distance you travel with an error of a few degrees, the worst things get so miss aiming Mars with a probe or vessel and end up lost in space!

Let us consider through architecture what a difference of a few degrees make according to direction then. If you make an error of a few degrees in assessing the height of your foundation for instance for a normal house, you may end up with your base floor say four feet ( 1.2m ) too high. That would be corrected with seven degrees in the archaic sense of the word : steps, those being on average 7 inches ( 17+cm ) high. [ 7x7= 49 / 7x17 +119 ]
If however you make an error of a few degrees in the vertical direction of your building instead of the horizontal one, you’ll end up with it falling. Consider that the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa has less than 4 degrees of tilt :

W. Lloyd MacKenzie Click for link.

W. Lloyd MacKenzie
Click for link.

It had a cant of 5.5 degrees before a restoration brought it back somewhat. Had it reached 7 degrees of incline that it would have fallen! Similarly, degree errors in mathematic can make a big difference but which you may ignore if you do not solve polynomial equations daily … but those that do can’t!

In a different non scientific sense, degrees matter a lot too. Try and tell your parents that saved for your education that you don’t want a college degree for instance. Try mistaking musical degrees and check the result on the listeners faces. In fact a difference of one or two degrees can matter a whole lot if the word goes with burn ( third degree ) or murder ( first degree ) especially since the scales are inverted : a first degree burn is minor and can be shrugged off but a first degree murder is the worst and can get you the electrical chair. There are also vernacular expressions related to degrees and there too it is not trivial either. Being off to a degree is not too bad but being sad to a degree is usually unbearable.

Finally, there is one last case where even a single degree, much less a few, is dramatic. Those that ever got separated from love ones for a time but more so those that lost someone or fell out love can confirm that a single degree of separation more can feel like the end of your world!

What difference a few degrees make!
Tay.

Copyright - DLovering

Copyright – DLovering

I never understood why old people move so slowly instead of making every moment count.
Until we went to Spain …

The town was all made of old stone houses. The Sun was burning. I went walking around with my sister who had Spanish in school. They were preparing a fiesta but no one was around. “-They’ll never be ready for their party.” I said, which Sis absent-mindedly translated out loud.

The unseen old lady answered from the shade :
“-Romans, Moors, French, Franco, all passed. There’ll be a fiesta yet!”

When old as the stones, everyday is a re-run!

redsep

( 100 words / 0 numerals ; title not included )

The above short story is an entry to a weekly challenge on WordPress called : Friday Fictioneers!

The idea is to write a hundred words short fiction ( flash ) story upon the prompt that is provided by Rochelle under the form of the above picture.

Thanks then to Rochelle whose blog is found here :

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/friday-fictioneers-2/

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/11-april-2014/

and I hope my readers will like it.

Tay.

[ This Post came prior to the World Premiere.
For the result, please click here. ]

This one is going to please fans of aviation. French aircraft maker Dassault is making the buzz on Internet with teasers surrounding a World Premiere. First appeared a Tweet with a video to which we will come back in a minute and then one with a picture :
Bk2nImbIQAE1_1l-1
https://twitter.com/Dassault_OnAir/status/454202903881072640/photo/1

I am singling this one out now because it shows a military jet. This was not a given since Dassault is both a civilian and military plane maker.
?????????
On the above picture for instance are shown the Falcon 7X, their present top-line business/private jet and the Rafale C military fighter. As even the layman can see, the one in that tweet above is of the latter type. Not exactly the same either, mind you! On the tweet pic, you see no metallic bracing behind the helmeted head such as is clearly visible here. For that reason, we know that it is not the pilot’s head but instead that of the Weapons Specialist Officer ( or NOSA in French ) found on the Rafale B two-seater version which is likely important.
rafaleb arr
The last thing to know for now is that this excellent company is not really known for its excessive public relations communication. They do make all necessary efforts to sell their biz jets including nice website and beautiful pictures and they also peddle their military jets when in a competition even though it really is the French state that allows exports of such “toys” in fine but there are other fighter jets companies that push the advertising envelope way further and it is for that reason that this campaign struck my fancy. What warrants this?
The initial tweet promising us this World Premiere contained the video below :
http://tv.dassault-aviation.com/A_world_premiere__Saturday_April_12th-1076-en.html

The production is typical Dassault stuff with fleeting images and a soft musical track to lure the viewer in pure Hollywood teaser style. In it, we see Dassault people making gestures, the kind of which pilots uses to rehearse flights in their heads before taking off for the real thing. We can thus suppose that the upcoming video will feature two aircrafts. This is not a given by the way since they could only be playing out the camera angles between the plane that films and its “actor”. But if there is to be only one plane involved, what would the World Premiere be?
A new biz jet would not really fit the bill nor warrant the hype and the Rafale itself has been under production for years already. If the Rafale B image is indicative of what is to come, that points out to a use of the WSO to participate in the action, right? Could he remotely pilot another plane? Remotely piloted planes already exist of course. The USA have used this technique for years. The F-16 by General Dynamics ( now Lockheed Martin ) but actually modified by Boeing is the latest of these used as targets for exercises.
http://www.boeing.com/boeing/Features/2013/09/bds_qf16_09_23_13.page
“Dronified” planes labelled QF-xxx have been used in America for years
[ For a rather complete history of US drones, please check the link below :
http://understandingempire.wordpress.com/2-0-a-brief-history-of-u-s-drones/ ]
except that they are controlled from the ground ( 82nd ATRS in Tyndall AFB ). Maybe, just maybe, controlling a droned-up plane could be a World Premiere. There is one argument against it though : the French have never made use of that technique. So why now?
Dassault is also in charge of a drone demonstrator program called nEUROn. This modern UCAV ( Unmanned COMBAT Air Vehicule ) is a stealth design machine and its program objective is two fold : federating the excellence centers of many nations in a joint development which is more difficult than it seems and completing a series of tests that include launching a bomb.
_68270615_dassault
Except? Except that the real test is supposed to take place in Italy in a year or two after operational trials in Sweden. Besides, the release of a bomb by a drone has already been done, ten years ago in April 2004, by a Boeing X-45 A UCAV. Similarly, we can rule out Dassault using the nEUROn from the French carrier Charles-De-Gaulle as Northrop-Grumman took care of that World Premiere last year with the X47 B that both took off from and landed on US carriers.
Take-off video here.
Landing news and video :
http://www.cnbc.com/id/100876916

All of which leads us to consider this : a secondary objective of the nEUROn program was to allow the ability to control squad flight in automatic mode from an advanced fighter platform, grouping the nEUROns and controlling the group as in video games. That was done with helicopters but would be a World Premiere for fighters. In favor of that hypothesis would be the fact that Dassault is a world leader in Flight Control Systems that made a name for itself with Fly By Wire, a full digital version of which equips its Falcon 7X, a world premiere for biz jets ( although done in airliners ). What’s more, the French government let out an image a few years back of what a patrol of nEUROn UCAVs with a Rafale jet as leader to assign objectives might look like!
vue-d-artiste-de-deux-patrouilles-mixtes-neuron-rafale_imagelarge
Could that be it? Feasibility is credible; after all, the technological bricks to achieve this goal are likely already mastered by Dassault. The only unknown would be for the DGA ( French govt arms engineering overseer ) and/or its other European partners in the nEUROn to have kept it a secret ( although the secret part by itself would merely be a European Premiere since once again, America already excels at it ;) ). The difference between flying nearby a drone and patrol flight is the crux of this being a World Premiere. Having a drone controlled from the ground is easy and even mundane but doesn’t really include the fine control needed to avoid a nearby aircraft. Flying on a pre-programmed route is not much more difficult and it is only the artificial intelligence part allowing the drone to change course by itself that remains though and is an aim of all UCAV programs worldwide if only to point thus separating them from the UAVs that may drop ordnance but not truly combat. On its website, Dassault includes the placement of human factor in the mission loop as technological challenge. And although not an official aim of the program at government level concludes that command and control is a goal for it. Could they have gone a bit further than asked? If so, we will see on Saturday a joint patrol between a UCAV and a fighter, the WSO being needed for security reasons, and that will be a World Premiere indeed!
http://www.dassault-aviation.com/en/defense/neuron/aim-of-the-programme/
If that’s not it, I am just playing the guessing game as any of my readers and all military aviation aficionados around the globe and will either be surprised or end up laughing at Dassault if the hype doesn’t live up to its promise! Still, for the fun of it, let me add a small explanation of the process that led me to my conclusion. I speak French fluently and by the end of the teaser video, we hear the only words it contains. From 21 seconds onward, someone says :
- 3, 2, 1, – noise – …age .

Try as I might, I just could not grasp the first part of that word voluntarily left incomplete by the clip director. After many listens, I could swear that there is a t right before the age too. So it would not be larguage which is French for dropping. No bomb then. It could stand for potage which is French for soup but it does fit the subject all that well nor does chantage/blackmail or sabotage. Eliminating catapultage-appontage and the more general T-less décollage that stand for ship based take-off and landing ( X-47B world premieres ) and generic lift-off , that pretty much leaves captage, pistage and éjectage. The first refers to acquiring, maybe in the sense of taking control of the nEUROn and the second to tracking ( rumors exist of a possible demonstration of electronic stealth for the Rafale that may fit that word ). The last is the most promising though IMHoO. For it means ejection? And barring a stealth advance or the most credible joint flight of the drone and fighter, that would make my day and assuage my post-hype disappointment. A demonstration of sole back seat ejection on a two-seater jet??? If Dassault managed to make that technology safe and practical, they’re rich! Flock the roller-coaster and bungee rides at the amusement park. For 500$, you get up to Mach 1 and 5 000 meters and get ejected out of a jet to ride back down on the seat’s parachute, yahooooooooo! Plus, if the technology gets ported to cars, passengers will have to learn to keep their mouths shut unless…. pop?

Seriously, see you all on Saturday, Tay.

Follow-through and result Post found here :
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/04/12/dassaults-soft-but-promising-world-premiere-and-ucav-future/

All image credits go to Dassault Aviation
save the nEUROn-Rafale patrol found here :
http://www.defense.gouv.fr/layout/set/popup/base-de-medias/images/air/actualites/images-2011/images-juin-2011/vue-d-artiste-de-deux-patrouilles-mixtes-neuron-rafale

I was pretty down today, too much on my plate you could say : looking for a new computer and on the verge of buying my first non-Mac product ever; fiddling with the bikes for the son and I to be ready for a first serious Spring ride; lots of small things not going well with this blog; tax report due soon, you name it. By mid morning however, I got a cryptic call from my alien buddy Blorgzzzmuff : You guys are so funny, move to the center of the room away from massive objects, I’m buying you a drink!
I answered Yes with that small aethernet signaller he had given me way back and stood in the middle of the living room just in time to be transported. I hate that queasy feeling of being turned upside down when he picks me up ( something to do with the matter to energy to matter again shift as he/she/it assures me that the transfer itself cannot be felt no matter what the distance covered ) but was sincerely relieved to see that jovial quadruple set of patches and broad slit of a mouth staring at me. It’s one of the strangest things about Blorgzzzmuff’s species that their expressions can be read whereas I wouldn’t say as much of some others. Blah blah blah, you humans are so weird ( Blarblarblar, U U minz Rs OH wee rid as it sounded ) and in no time flat we were seated at that Betelgeuse bar he/she/it likes so much ( little time curved actually but you get the idea ).
As the fuming Altarian whiskey mugs got set in front of us by the barmaid ( not quite my usual fare as such go ), Blorgzzzmuff finally deigned to explain what was so comical about us earthlings. -”So you discovered life on Mars? Again? You’re so crazy!!”
Wait! what? I must have missed it, ( that’s what you get by being whisked off light-years to a whiskey before finishing your coffee ) what life on Mars? I answered. And my alien friend showed me the image :
feufeujolimars
Taken by Curiosity, the NASA/ESA et al rover, it apparently started a freight train of Internet rumors and conspiracy theories as soon as it was made public and before I got up and missed finishing my coffee. “Well, it does look quite strange, don’t you think?” was all that I managed to retort. “Oh come on Tay, replied Blorgzzzmuff, it is but a picture!” True enough, you’ll have to admit : only a picture and not that good of one, at that. Supposing that it is all that we have to judge by, the interpretation is difficult. Supposing it is not an instrument mishap ( say, a pixel burning up ) is there a telemetry measure to go along with it giving us a distance and consequently an idea of the size of that flare? That is extremely important in determining what kind of life we just discovered on the red planet, you know. If it is really tall for instance, it could be an eruption of Carbon Dioxide ( CO2 ) that sublimates ( turns from solid to gas directly ) during Spring. * But, if it is only a coupler meters tall, then it could be a Martian oure energy being emerging from one of the elevators leading to their underground cities/dwellings! Then again, if reduced to 50 cm, it could be a campfire surrounded by unseeing ( or immaterial ) Martian young ones roasting rockmallows and if no more than a couple centimetrs it could yet be a Martian bug farting sulfur dioxide or more mundanely methane although at the local temperatures, how it could fire up is beyond me.

“That’s what I like about you my friend, immediately responded Blorgzzzmuff, you’re first reasonable and only then stupid, contrary to your average co-speciers! Tshears!”
“HUH? What did they come up with?”
Well pretty much everything :
http://www.ufosightingsdaily.com/2014/04/mysterous-light-beams-from-mars-surface.html

http://www.theufochronicles.com/2014/04/weird-ufo-light-on-mars-nasa-responds.html

http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2014/04/nasa-rover-captures-light-beams-coming-out-from-mars-surface-ufo-blogger-exclusive-ufo-2014-flying-saucers-and-ufos-sightings-videos-2934866.html

“That first one even went as far as to say that “… NASA could go and investigate it, but hey, they are not on Mars to discovery life, but there to stall its discovery.” giggled my friend ( with the eye patches rapidly changing hues, quite a show ).
“But that makes no sense, I countered, if they wanted to stall discovery, they wouldn’T have released the image at all?”
- “Bottoms up to that!”

That was pretty much it. We went on to discuss the ridicule aspects of Earth folks : finding flying saucers black boxes on Mars faster than Boeing 777 ones in the Indian Ocean, suspecting the existence of intelligent life elsewhere without having confirmed it down here, etc. I might have made a couple disparaging remarks about how we have stranger things going on within our atmosphere : execution by flamethrower ( http://www.euronews.com/2014/04/08/north-korea-official-executed-by-flame-thrower-over-links-to-kim-jong-uns-/ ) or accusing infants of attempted murder ( http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2014/04/pakistani-justice-dysfunctional-system-20144914403196684.html ) and the likes through a haze of alcohol and other volatile spirits. Blorgzzzmuff carried me back to his spacecraft and I spilled half a liter of Altarian green stuff on my carpet after the last transit down ending with a splitting headache ( at least only one, poor barmaid ) before snoozing the afternoon off and writing this Post painfully.

The way I’m feeling right now doesn’t make me quite sure of my own intelligence but compared to these UFOlks … I feel fine. And I can’t help thinking of Diogenes – of Sinope, not the Laerce guy – …
360px-Diogenes-statue-Sinop-enhanced
… maybe that was him on Mars, doomed to eternal errancy as the famed Jew, still shining his lantern around in search of an honest and intelligent man?
If so, I’ll have to ask Blorgzzzmuff to pick him up and bring him along next time. That will liven up the conversation.

Burp, Tay.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/08/white-light-mars-images-nasa-curiosity-rover-photos_n_5111905.html?utm_hp_ref=search-for-et

On April 6 1994, Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana was killed as the plane carrying him back to the capital Kigali was downed by unknown assailants. In the following 100 days, the majority Hutu ethnie massacred over 800, 000 minority Tutsis in the worst genocide since World War II, surpassing even the Nazi Holocaust in victims per day! By July 4th, the RPF Tutsi rebels of Paul Kagame took Kigali, effectively ending the killings by July 18th.

Paul Kagame has been in power as President of Rwanda since and as the commemoration of this stupendous blemish in human history neared, revived his long obsession of accusing France of participation in the events. In his latest interview to the excellent Jeune Afrique magazine, Paul Kagame reiterated his view that France had taken part in the preparation of the genocide and later protected the Hutu killers. How much truth is there in these accusations? Is President Kagame right, deluded or is it something else? This is what we will now explain.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-26904627

In historical order, let’s first consider France’s general role in Africa. The factual colonization, beyond simple expeditions, began in 1830 with the conquest of Alger, thus freed from the Ottoman ( Turkish ) domination only to fall under the French one. Then until 1900, the major European countries will “discover” and grab most of Africa, fighting over “ownership rights”. The Berlin Conference of 1884-85 will split the continent thus :

644px-Colonial_Africa_1913_map.svg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Conference
If you wonder where Rwanda is located check below :
320px-LocationRwanda.svg

This tiny nation is the most densely populated of Africa and as shown was at the boundary of the Belgian ( yellow ) and German ( turquoise ). The white countries by the way are Liberia the lone one colonized by the USA at left and Ethiopia, the only one to be spared colonization at right, not that it did it that much good which is important to our matter. The French sphere of influence and soon after Empire is in blue.
There is no doubt that colonization, French or otherwise was mainly a commercial affair and the fact that the aforementioned conference also put an end to slavery, if it helped the continent that was playing its part in that, has more to do with rationalization / excuse than good intent. There is no doubt that the artificial separation of the Black continent did an incredible amount of harm to it although again, few locals have proved able to fix the problem by themselves since ( or before actually ). And it is clear that between the wave of independence that the French recognized in their colonies since 1960 and the turn of the 21st century, Paris has used all sorts of means to keep its domination alive over these lands through a complex network of men and relationships in order to secure its access to natural resources, energy first and foremost. This set-up got to be known as FrançAfrique and has in fact only begun to erode since the time of the Rwanda genocide. Still, it is important for the reader to understand that France was not the colonial power of that part of Africa at any point which Paul Kagame conveniently occults.

Rwanda formed over a long period of time through kingdoms. When the Berlin conference “gave” the land to Germany and Belgium, it was dominated by Tutsi King Kigeli ( from which stems the capital’s name ) Rwabugiri. To simplify, the Germans used the kings’ power and the Belgians enforced it, insuring Tutsi domination ( introducing ethnic mentions on identity cards, a soft apartheid process if you will ). Until the 1950’s when the Tutsi ( as Kagame ) veered heavily towards independence, the Belgians turned to favoring the Hutus instead, even dismissing the Tutsi King through a referendum in 1961 ( but Belgium is still a kingdom itself? ) prior to splitting Rwanda from neighbouring Burundi and awarding it independence in 1962 and the real beginning of the ethnic killings occurred. What Paul Kagame would also like you to forget is that Tutsi rebels immediately began attacking the land from their bases in Burundi and elsewhere ( Uganda for Kangame-led RPF, Tanzania and ex-Zaire; none of which were ever French colonies ). A more potent of these attack in 1963 cost 10, 000 lives as the Hutu power reacted. All of the nations involved were led by one-party military dictatorships, a bane of Africa, and in 1972, after an unsuccessful Hutu coup in Burundi, the local Tutsis killed around a hundred thousand Hutus. Things stayed the same until the 1990s when the Rwanda Patriotic Front of which Paul Kagame then a high ranking Ugandan officer due to a coup d’état soon became the leader ( another fact he routinely passes over during his vitriolic interviews ) invaded Rwanda! His faction was very effective and gained control of a great part of the country which led to a ceasefire accord in 1993. It also led to a disgusting rise in Hutu Power, a moniker that hides racist far-right ideas that then spread as a tenant of the administration.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalition_for_the_Defense_of_the_Republic
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutu_Ten_Commandments
A UN force led by Canadian General Romeo Dallaire named UNAMIR was deployed to enforce the cease-fire. This is when the assassination of the Rwandan president set fire to the country. On that action, one has to be careful. It sparked the genocide and yet played heavily in favor of the RPF which immediately started to war anew. Most of what President Kagame might rightfully consider as a French involvement lies in it. Although not proved, the source of the missile that downed the presidential jet is likely to have been the nearby Rwandan Armed Forces camp Kanombe. France had discreetly sold Mistral anti-aircraft missiles with much better characteristics than the Russian made SAM 16 that equipped them and one might have been the weapon of choice. What’s more, a close collaborator of then French President François Mitterrand committed a dubious suicide ( 2 bullets to the head? ) a day later. UNAMIR Belgian soldiers were forbidden form accessing the crash site by Presidential Guards Last but not least, the flight recorder disappeared. French soldiers reportedly both asked for it ( unconfirmed ) and offered to lead the investigation which is fully corroborated by General Dallaire who flatly refused of course. All of this points to a French participation but, again, Paul Kagame was repeatedly accused of having masterminded the attack? Except that in his defense, many experts including the official UN standpoint contradict his involvement. Neutral reports are, as I am, of the opinion that the mystery will never be solved. Most neutral investigations ( US for instance ) point to Hutu rogue elements while two French Justice came up with opposing results : the implication of Kagame by Judge Bruguière in 2004 and the responsibility of Rwandan military elements in a 2010 investigation by Judges Trévidic and Poux.
http://www.gov.rw/French-Judges-release-report-on-the-plane-crash-used-as-a-pretext-to-start-genocide-in-Rwanda
Then again, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the ex UN Secretary General favored a theory involving the CIA??? ( Even though he was also a seller of arms to the Hutu government that killed those Tutsi when in Egypt before entering the UN ). This muddled accretion of unconfirmed opinions is why I don’t think it is reasonable to take sides at least for now.
What followed is much simpler though. Fact : the Hutu majority killed eight hundred thousand Tutsi in a hundred days. Fact : the UNAMIR was powerless as it was forbidden from using force. Fact : the RPF of Kagame immediately made a dash for Kigali even though its Tutsi brothers were being massacred by machete all over the place? Fact : they gained power. Fact : the UN then authorized France to send troops with a fully active mandate for intervention. Fact : no one else ( US Prez Bill Clinton since regretted it ) wanted to get involved in the mess and the UN since recognized not having done enough. Fact : by the time the French troops got there, the Hutus, having learned of Kagame’s victory were fleeing. and had the sad duty of letting them escape to neighboring states. And only then as the RPF was stopped from murdering the murderers did Paul Kagame start accusing France.
Since then though, since the end of the bloodshed, what happened, what did we learn? The rebel chief that was Paul Kagame became Vice-President and in 2000, President. The UN created the ICC for the purpose of not having to put up a specific Penal Tribunal every time. Under Kagame’s leadership, Rwanda has clearly bettered its economic and ethnic situation. But at the same time, France has had many different government in democratic alternating fashion while Kagame remains in power in a one party state with a classic African dictator 93% result in the last 2010 elections, His possible implication in the ( neighboring Congo ) DRC’s ugly and unending conflict dubbed Africa’s World War and elimination of opponents have drawn clear discontent from the Western powers. By contrast, France is now again active to prevent genocide in the Central African Republic, again having entered to defend one community ( Christians ) and now trying to stop these ( anti-balaka ) from killing the Muslims while ( again ) having been accused by both sides mind you of favoring the other? So that while Paul Kagame keeps at trying to build political credit on the memory of a genocide in which he was an accredited actor if on the victim’s side, while he tries to force his land to veer to English out of hatred for France even though that language was spoken by less than a tenth of a percent of Rwandans, etc, French soldiers are still being deployed in Africa under UN mandate despite a generally acknowledged volte-face from FrançAfrique practices and dying there even though there is little if anything to gain for their Nation? What’s more, General Dallaire reported on the horror he endured as a Blue Helmet unable to act and forced to witness the unfathomable, testifying before the Canadian government that he was plagued with images to the point of contemplating suicide,
http://www.hirondellenews.com/ictr-rwanda/343-trials-ended/military-i-trial/20073-en-en-synthesis-general-romeo-dallaires-testimony91249124
while this recent Le Monde piece relates that when in ex-Yougoslavia where the horror was omnipresent, French soldiers had a chance to talk to a psychiatrist, their commanding officer laconically reported that “ …it is about Rwanda that they talked.”
French article link :
http://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2014/04/03/l-armee-francaise-hantee-par-le-genocide-rwandais_4394681_3210.html
And you have the gall of trying to shift the blame to these men?

Let me tell you a little something , Paul! While you try to gain political credence over an unspeakable horror to which you are no stranger, the World is a-changin’ While you embody Africa’s past at least as much as France’s colonization did, the World is a-changin’ If I have one wish for Africa, it is that it will embrace its future, free of both. In this instance, I am reminded of General De Gaulle, the man that technically closed the French colonization era by awarding the original colony of Algeria its independence over the wish of French citizens of yore. The same man later relinquished power out of honesty which I have often stated to be in my also honest opinion the hallmark of true men of State over simple men of power. Why don’t you do the same instead of rehashing past hatred, Paul? Since that genocide 20 years ago, France has had 4 Presidents and 4 governments of 2 different majorities while you kept power securely locked in your grasp. Who is allowed to give democracy and justice lessons to the other do you think?
You’re not the future of or solution to Africa or even Rwanda, mister Kagame; you’re their past at least as much as France is!

Give it up buddy … if you really love your people that is?
Sincerely, Tay.

Sources :
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/rwandans-mark-20th-anniversary-of-genocide-amid-reminders-that-justice-has-yet-to-be-done/2014/04/07/ecfbd4c4-be75-11e3-b574-f8748871856a_story.html
http://blog.oup.com/2014/04/ethnic-violence-rwanda/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo
http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/documents/RwandaReport3.htm#January%20Cable

French only :
http://jacques.morel67.pagesperso-orange.fr/attentat6avril94.html
http://cec.rwanda.free.fr/informations/attentat.html

A lot has surfaced today so that I will simply offer links to what matters with little comments.

The Indian elections that began this morning and that I commented on in yesterday’s post may be hard to follow. The world’s biggest democracy is also one of the most complex. Lucky for us that Al-Jazeera put together one of their best infographic pages on the matter; here it is :
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2014/04/infographic-how-india-forms-government-20144484611258351.html

There is also an excellent piece found in quartz with a flurry of economic indicators that details the performance of BJP star and front-runner Narendra Modi. All you want to know about how efficient the guy most likely to be India’s next Prime Minister was at the State level :
http://qz.com/171409/gujarat-by-the-numbers/

The search for Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH 370 may have gotten an incredibly lucky break. The Australian ship Ocean Shield used its American towed array to find pings at the bottom of the sea. This is a different occurrence than what was reported by Chinese TV since A- they have found continuous signals and B- they were able to go back to these for confirmation. Thefirst pas lasted over 2 hours and the second pass found 2 emitters for 13 minutes at a depth of 3 000 meters, all valid numbers for what is sought. Considering how little credible information there was to go on, to have located the so-called black boxes precisely 30 days after the plane disappeared on their batteries standard expiration period is as one expert put it lottery style luck!
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/southasia/2014/04/signals-boost-plane-search-20144745039249777.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26917934

Two news from Eastern Europe :
Hungary has apparently re-conducted its center-right government. This may seem mundane but Hungary, even more so than other ex-Eastern block nations has a huge and unsavory extreme-Right movement. Of two evils . . .
http://www.euronews.com/2014/04/07/hungarian-prime-minister-viktor-orban-defends-his-policies-after-big-election-/

And in Ukraine tensions are erupting near the Russian border as the city of Donetsk saw pro-Russian militants seized the parliament and are calling for elections or a referendum by May 11 to possibly join Russia as Crimea did. Except that this is a much better move by Moscow. Instead of using troops which was illegal it is only standing by as a revolt occurs. And if the latest reports give confrontations taking place in Donetsk with pro-Ukraine elements, one should remember that what happened in Kiev in February was very similar. You can’t very well favor revolutions of this sort only when they fit your views now can you? Mark my words, the trouble in Ukraine is far from over.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26919928

Anonymous, the web hacktivist concern, is attacking Israel again. OpIsrael 2 is an answer to the callous and unjust threats of retaliation by Jerusalem at the Palestinian Authority’s push for new international recognition of its existence and representation. Not accepting that your interlocutors have a status is pretty much the biggest rebuttal of any intent on one’s part to sincrely conduct talks, is it not?
http://www.euronews.com/2014/04/07/opisrael-strikes-again-anonymous-hacks-israeli-websites/
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/04/israel-warns-palestine-unilateral-action-20144692422456663.html
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Palestinians-defy-US-and-Israel-leaving-peace-talks-in-peril/articleshow/33138664.cms

All of the above are important, sure to have developments in the following days and weeks. So seeing that we have a reserve of serious subjects to worry about, here is a lighter one :
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/04/07/valeria-lukyanova-human-barbie-gq_n_5105061.html?1396884577&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067
The Human Barbie, a Ukrainian psycho that has gone further than any other woman with plastic surgery on the road to resembling the famous doll’s inhuman proportions, has apparently faulted interracial unions for her and others’ abuse of the surgeons’ abilities to attain surrealistic ideals of beauty.
http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/human-barbie-race-mixing-prompts-plastic-surgery-rise-article-1.1748615
Of course, the same “woman” is afraid of reproduction for herself to begin with? And as a last straw, the Human Ken disavowed her.

Incrazyble!

Good day all, Tay.

India is going to vote from tomorrow onward. If for no other reason than the fact that it is the biggest democracy in the world, this should be of interest. 814 million voters are registered for this time around out of 1, 236 million inhabitants ( 33% minors approx. ). By age also, if one considers the Janapadas as simili-Republics akin to what was found in Ancient Greece, India’s democracy is well over 2, 500 years old and one of if not the oldest around. It already had the use of councils back then to balance the King’s power the nature of which is still loosely represented in the Rajya Sabah, the Upper House of the Parliament of India especially by the presence of the 12 “wise men” presidential appointees.

Of course, if historically very old, the present form of India emerged from the British Imperial period so that it is also a very young nation, having achieved independence in 1947 and drafted its constitution in 1950.
http://lawmin.nic.in/olwing/coi/coi-english/coi-indexenglish.htm
[ For a more history oriented explanation, please check this past Post : http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2012/11/25/india-past-present-problems-the-3-ps-or-a-short-history/ ]
The above makes these upcoming elections worth following because India mixes many factors inherited over the centuries with more modern practices but on top of it is far from being a monolithic block. To wit, it counts 35 states and territories with one more, Telangana, to be added on June 2 of this year. Out of these, Sikkim is the smallest full-fledged state with a 610 thousand population while Uttar Pradesh counts about 200 million people? Delhi is the 16 million strong Union Territory capital similar to Washington’s DC status in the US that poses no major problems but Jammu and Kashmir with 12,5 million inhabitants is permanently in the news as a contentious region between Pakistan ( it self born of the post independence partition as was Bengladesh? ), China and India. By area, Lakshadweep UT is 32 square km whereas Rajasthan State is 342 000 Sq.Km? And if you have in mind the usual image of India where people and cows occupy every available square inch of land, that is true of Dehli’s 9,340 persons per SqKm but certainly not of Arunachal Pradesh State with 17 people per SqKm that neighbors Bhutan, Tibet slash China and Myanmar.
But geography and demographics don’t tell the whole story either or at least, one would have to dig deeper yet. India is home to most of the religions we know on Earth for instance. Most people are Hindus of course but there are Christians too, more than Sikhs even though you likely heard about the latter much more in all sorts of news reports. The biggest religious minority are Muslims and we will soon consider their place in the elections. Let us first complete our overlook by reminding the reader of two other factors : the caste system that separates Indians by categories such as intellectuals, leaders, farmers and doers more or less with a fringe of low-lives considering unworthy of having a place in the castes, the untouchables; and the essential dichotomy between the sheer weight of the Indian economy ( 10th in the World ) and its richness per habitant ( below 130th ).

That last problem will open our analysis as it is the factual cause of the mentions in our title. While the Indian currency is the rupee, Crore is a term common to South Asia that equals ten million. If you understand that you need 82 rupees to buy a single Euro by today’s exchange rate, it is easy to picture that a contract worth a million Euro, not rare in corporate deals, would then be counted as a bit over 8 crore rupees ( Rs 8 crore ). That explains why I found it necessary to make the pun ( core of the matter ) since with a minimum salary of 115 Rs ( 1.4€ +- ) per day, the average Indian can easily be taken aback by Crore based economics. For the same reason, in all lands where almost all contracts signed by the government and corporations outweigh a lifelong salary a thousand fold or more, corruption is unavoidable. In Canada, Belgium or England, the difference between the median income and that of the richest 1% is on the scale of 8 to 12 times with an average often around 10. Norway has a median income 100 times that of Liberia and you can bet that corruption is rare in the former and omnipresent in the latter. Well in India, the median income, the money made by someone richer than 50% of the population or poorer than 50% as you wish, is estimated at 616 $ … for a whole year. But Mukesh Ambani, owner of Reliance Industries and India’s richest person, is worth 18.6 B $ What that means is that when the small change on a contract is equal to a couple hundred years of the salary of the people that handle it, each civil servant from clerk to official will try to get some. In fact, this is so important in developing economies that it is often seen as part of the salary and thus extremely hard to fight.
Even at lower levels, police officers will thus consider bribes as part of their income with only those with no power whatsoever not collecting backsheesh.
http://m.paycheck.in/main/salary/minimumwages
Now add to this the nature of the caste system that means that Kshatriyas are the ones that occupy posts in law enforcement, armed forces and administration. Being born in that cast makes your livelihood so much better only for belonging to those most likely to profit from corruption whereas of course, being a Dalit means never to.
Let us give a quick panorama of the political formations and we will be able to consolidate both sets of knowledge. The ruling party of Indian politics is the Indian National Congress led by Sonia Gandhi ( step-daughter of famed Indira ( the daughter of independence hero Nehru ) and widow of Rajiv and mother of Rahul. Her presence at the head of Congress is symptomatic of the last of great flaws of Indian politics namely nepotism. That a family could endure from 1947 to 2014 with 3 Prime Ministers ( Nehru 47-64 / Indira 66-77 & 80-84 / Rajiv 84-89 ) makes the Kennedy and Bush clans in America pale by comparison. Even as relates to this election, it is said that “mom” decided that Rahul would not be Prime Minister :
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Rahul-will-not-be-Congresss-PM-candidate-after-Sonias-no/articleshow/28899744.cms
http://www.ibtimes.com/dynastys-end-why-does-sonia-gandhi-not-want-her-son-rahul-run-prime-minister-india-1543450
But as we write the gentle Rahul is still the front man for his party that alone or through various center-left coalitions has led the Nation for 49 years. The Janata party won in 1977. then 1989, 1996 and is still around but the star of this run is the BJP ( won in 1998 & 99 ) leader Narendra Modi. Modi is a pure charismatic choice, the jovial father figure by excellence.
http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/asia/modi-supporters-love-has-no-logic
This is belied by his record as Gujarat State Chief Minister though as racial violence in 2002 under his tenure caused between 1 and 2 thousand victims. Yet, Muslims that were targeted back then have been so disappointed by the Congress-led Union Progressive Alliance that some want to vote him in? Similarly, Modi has done a lot for his state both in economic and ecologic development which is to be lauded but at the same time, as we outlined at the beginning, the poorest of the poor sank further under his lead. That his BJP-led center-right National Democratic Alliance would be favorite for this election despite this exemplifies the Indian political dilemma. Record aside, people will often vote according to their caste or religion, no matter what.
The only new choice for the lowest classes is a formation called Aam Aadmi or common man Party. The AAP leader, Arvind Kejriwal, has made a meteoritic rise on the national scene since last year when the formation appeared in Dehli. His anti-corruption stance is clearly aimed at the lower classes and that is a huge reservoir of votes, India’s rural population alone numbering 833 million souls. There is one thing playing in his favor. Since the INCongress and BJP have made the race a personality based fight more than usual, AAP-Common Man has all its chance for the aura of Kejriwal is strong enough to play that game. That was evidenced in the last weeks by personal attacks, Narendra Modi accusing Arvind of being a Pakistani agent ( pretty much the worst possible call in India ) and playing the hand of the Congress. As well he might resort to such tactics though since the undaunted and apparently unafraid Kejriwal responded by showing up in Varanasi ( the ancient Benares ) to challenge Modi for his seat. Indeed, Congress must approve!!!
http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/asia/indias-varanasi-witness-epic-battle

The last imponderable may hold the key to success. India honored itself by allowing a white vote option : you can choose none of the above on the ballot! This is a useful measure of the citizen’s opinion but plays in favor of those in the lead, whomever they may be. In the West, this option would likely appeal to the jaded youth first and foremost. Well, it so happens that the younger voters ( 18-25 ) will represent a full fifth of the electorate this time around! We have seen how tradition allows the same tired parties to go on leading this old country in the ruts of corruption and inequality. The question then becomes how modern and democratic that new generation really is. Will they follow the tradition of voting for family, religion or caste? Or will they gang up behind that new deal guy with his old school Mahatma cap?

arvind_kejriwal1

There are lots of possible surprises in the long running 2014 16th Lok Sabha elections in Bharat.
Do keep your eyes and ears open but don’t be in too much of hurry however. Due to the sheer size of the Land, these elections are run by successive blocks as found in here :
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/here-is-how-india-is-scheduled-to-vote-in-the-lok-sabha-elections-2014/

Which will it be, INC nepotism, BJP corruption or AAP unproven way? Is India ready to change and will it show? The answer matters! It is the world’s biggest democracy trying to rise out of the mud and slums into the future after all. I trust that is big enough a political stake for you?

Enlightened choice, Bharat!
Tay.

Additional reading :
Impressive full dossier below :
http://indianexpress.com/elections/
http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/asia/india-elections-diary-gurgaon
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-25740826
And Wikipedia page on the anti-corruption bill :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Lokpal

Here we are again : The Chinese News agency Xinhua reported on Friday that pings of the correct frequency were caught by the Haixun 01 patrol ship. And once again,the world is hoping … Sadly, once again the way this information came through cast more shadows than it brings answers. To confuse things even further, added details gave white floating debris in the relative vicinity of the supposed black box signal. Considering the above, I feel obliged once again to debunk what we just learned, to warn the readers about the inconsistencies that strikingly overwhelm the facts in this story.

Here are the links to the series of Xinhua news messages on the matter :

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-04/04/c_133239044.htm

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-04/05/c_133241023.htm

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-04/05/c_133240993_2.htm

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-04/05/c_126360141.htm

The gist of it is that the Haixun 01 apparently “heard” pings on the 37.5 KHz frequency associated with the black box emitters for 90 seconds on Friday April 4th. Let’s examine this first. Why ONLY 90 seconds? There are 2 possible answers to this. The first is that the black box ended right after being detected. That would constitute an incredible coincidence but is possible. In this case though, it could easily be ruled out by asking the technicians on the Haixun if the noise was fading! A dying battery fades, it does not stop suddenly. The second answer refers to the sea floor topology (shape and variations ). If you check the Google map image below,

ping down

the arrow being that of the coordinates reported for the find, you can spot a valley ( trench ) to the West of it. If the black box is emitting from an incline on either sides of either lips or on the bottom of that valley, the position of the underwater listening device relative to it may not allow reception anymore once the ship has moved away from it! This is particularly true for the type of detector that was used that does not go very deep so that underwater currents could also have blocked its path.

The interesting news however is found in this Chinese CCTV report that gives the reception of the signal to have occurred a second time for 15 continuous minutes..

If that was confirmed, it would change the value of the find from feeble to reasonable. It would however still not explain why the location is not yet secured? Ships as the Haixun have GPS or Beidou ( China’s own global positioning system ) to pin point their position at any given time. There is no reason for the same spot not to be gotten to again afterwards. If the ship returns to the same location and records nothing, the mystery deepens. To infirm or confirm the find, the search teams would have to bring in a different type of device such as the US Navy towed array that is now onboard the H.A.M.S. Ocean Shield. This sinks to impressive depths, evading water currents and similar perturbations. In exchange for the accrued precision, the towed array is pulled by the ship at a distance and you cannot just turn around on a dime to cover a small area anew. But its proximity to the bottom of the ocean where the black box lays make narrowing the zone possible.
There was also as we mentioned a news in the links up there that debris where found floating nearby which is incredibly ludicrous. After 30 days, the oceanic currents strictly forbid that floating debris and the plane’s remnants on the sea floor be anywhere near each other. Anyone saying the opposite is either an idiot or a liar and quite possibly both.

To resume this technical part, the 90 second result is dubious and the 15 minute one more credible alas, neither are fully confirmed at the time of writing. Which brings us to how we came to learn about it.

From the onset, the most striking feature of the MH 370 mystery was not the noise of pingers but that of communiques. The incredibly unreliable nature of the news brought to us by the authorities will forever be the hall mark of this case. I will even venture at this point, that history will remember MH 370 as one of if not THE most botched civil aviation investigation ever. This latest ping story being a perfect example of what I mean. We should not have heard about it from either Xinhua or CCTV. If there is any value to this info, it should have been treated by the Chinese search coordinators and brought to the attention of the international team now more or less led by Australia. And it only follows a pattern that began as soon as the Malaysian Airlines disappearance was made public. Oil spill, Malaysian Air Force radar lock, illegal passports scare, Chinese satellite debris of the wrong size, changes in direction and altitude, pilots involvement and all the other so-called leads reached us improperly or almost. That the noise to news ratio in such over-exposed cases reach 40% and maybe 60% is understandable. That just about every other information be brought out without proper investigation or verification by the people in charge is unacceptable.

There is a clear chain of command in this type of accident. The Malaysian Air Force was supposed to contact the Malaysian investigators, not the press! The Chinese, US or French satellite images should have gone directly to these investigators too.

http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/03/27/malaysia-airlines-flight-mh-370-lies-noise-the-simplest-truth/

Similarly, this ping story should have reached the Malaysian investigators or the Australian search group first, not surfaced on TV or in the press. As I write, the Australians in Perth have not even been able to reach that Haixun ship to get first hand confirmation over 24 hours after it supposedly heard pings? This is so unusual that in my ex-military and security experience it is close to dereliction of duty. In a race against time, improper transmission of information can make the use of it impossible. As an analogy, an quick improper diagnostic by a doctor may have dire consequences but a correct one gotten at after the patient has died is useless? In the case of Malaysian Airlines 370, every actor has blundered to a level or another. Malaysia has retained information. Probably in reaction, Australia after it picked up the ball shared too little too often. A conference every day is fine but if nothing surfaces there is no reason for it to exceed 5 minutes. _”We have not found anything-stop-we are searching with intent-stop-we’ll let you know if something comes up.”_  As for China, it is trying to make its role more important than it really is, period. When there is a discrepancy between facts and what is said, it always stem from not knowing first and secondary considerations after. Facts are simple to state, only lies and ignorance need to be drowned in a sea of words!

And if you think that my analysis goes too far, consider this : the US Navy that was responded present immediately after the plane went down has bowed out on March 17th after 9 days.

http://gawker.com/us-navy-ship-drops-out-of-search-for-missing-aircraft-m-1546012540

They went as far as to acknowledge that the search would not yield immediate results by the end of the month, about a week ago.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/03/30/mh370-search-could-take-years-u-s-navy-official-says-as-nations-race-to-find-black-box-before-its-too-late/

Do you know why? Certainly not because the USA are insensitive or they would not have lent a P-8 Poseidon to the search. No, if America which is so often accused of showing off is being so discreet it is precisely because its personnel are professionals. Being part of a haphazard endeavour where emotions and image takes precedence over efficiency is not their cup of tea. They have come to the conclusion that under the circumstances : lack of facts, blind search and information intox, lending a helping hand was as compulsory as not being associated with the mess that is the search for MH 370.

I am sorry but that’s the unembellished truth. We are searching for a plane based on assumptions that have not been verified and darn little facts. Every man and his dog has something to report save those that understand the truth : we know nothing for sure!

 

My heart goes out to the families of those that disappeared on March 8th 2014 over the Andaman Sea. My obligation to them is to report only when there is something to say and to stay silent and respectful of their grief and sorrow otherwise. That is why this only the second full post on this subject on this blog whereas I wrote extensively about Mali, the Arab Spring, Israel or more recently Ukraine because I had something to contribute. As far as MH 370 goes, my point of view is that of the US Navy : barring being able to contribute, I’ll refrain from adding to the ambient noise … so the black boxes pings can be heard. And so as not to add any more disgrace to this farce!

 

Tay.

Fake Sun and fake lives.

Copyright - Kent Bonham

Copyright – Kent Bonham

We visited a television studio last week-end. There were big lights hanging from bars on the ceiling and I kept staring at them. After we moved on, I had red spots flashing everywhere I looked. Dad said it was retinal persistence, that my eyes were over-stimulated and “remembered it”.

The tour guide explained that intense light was necessary to reflect off the set and back to the cameras to seem as bright as real daylight.

Maybe when they play too much, the actors get this always and end up thinking it’s real life?

Me, I play out in the sun.

redsep

( 102 words / 0 numerals ; title not included )

The above short story is an entry to a weekly challenge on WordPress called : Friday Fictioneers!

The idea is to write a hundred words short fiction ( flash ) story upon the prompt that is provided by Rochelle under the form of the above picture.

Thanks then to Rochelle whose blog is found here :

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/friday-fictioneers-2/

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/4-april-2014/

and I hope my readers will like it.

Tay.

 

Science teaches us many interesting things but it is often difficult for the layman, the ordinary person to understand what it all means. For example, how big is the Universe? That question is usually answered by scientists under the cryptic explanation that it is :

” … about 14 billion light-years across. ” or thus (13.798±0.037)×109 x 9.4607×1015 m
which in either case means little.

So I decided to provide a visual measure, the centimeter and a number each in full form for the maximum and minimum lengths recordable. First, here is a centimeter that will be our unit :

cm 21.6

The reason for choosing the centimeter is simple and everyday oriented : almost none of the people reading this post have a screen especially if using a phone or tablet, big enough to carry a full meter. To be certain that you have a correct image on your own viewing device of the above ruler pleas click this link and input your screen size ( mine is 21.6 inches diagonal ) :

http://www.piliapp.com/actual-size/cm-ruler/?ask_size=1

Inputting your screen value will give you a correct sized ruler. Alternatively, a centimeter can be found on any good ruler in real life across the globe and if you are unlucky enough to be stuck with an Imperial one, a centimeter fits 2.54 times in an inch, almost 6 and a half /16th of one ( the width of an average little or ring finger at the tip ).
Continuing with the centimeter from the above, here it is in between the estimated size of the universe and that of the electron :

13053915906066987840000000000

cm 21.6 
0.00000000000000001

Of course this is a rough calculation. I used the mean age of the Universe since the Big Bang which has many flaws ( the error variation in itself is around 37 million years and little is yet known of the pre-light era or Planck’s time ) and multiplied it by the mean value as of now of the Light-Year ( the distance travelled by light in a year at 299 792 458 meters/second. Both could well be refined especially the former.

Similarly, I chose to give the size of the electron. The reason for this is that it is the smallest particle to even have a dimension. You might argue that the Higgs boson, recently discovered in 2012 is much “smaller” and you be both right and wrong. The electron is at the limit of particulate and energetic measurements. It is half-way between a thing and a wave if you prefer. Below it are a number of subatomic particles yes but these as shown below are not dimensional : they belong to a world of energies so low that we needed the Higgs boson to even be able to award them a mass.
Infographic: The subatomic particles of the Standard Model.

Source:LiveScience

They are elements of the quantic state of physics and such phenomenons are expressions of probabilities ( singular :  a quantum ). Size is only an acceptable value in the material world on the border of which spins the electron. The quanta are what makes this physical stuff we’re made of possible. Please follow the link below for detailed references to the electron :
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-19434856
and the quantum particles by clicking at the one below the graphic.
So there you are, take that centimeter and imagine yourself putting one after another as many times as in the number above it. Doing so ( apart from being impossible for lack of time to do it ) TWICE would give you the distance from one “side” of the Universe to the other, across if you prefer. Why twice? Well, because expansion is a spherical thing and that measure is from center to limit, the radius! You need to double it to get the diameter 26107831812133975680000000000 ( and multiply that by Pi to get the circumference? ).
Take that centimeter again and imagine yourself cutting it in as many pieces as found in the number below it ( all ten thousand billion of them ) and each would be about the size of an electron ( You’ll need fine sharp scissors and tweezers and don’t lose it, they’re harder to find than contact lenses ).

The scale of the physical Universe based on that centimeter is roughly 45 orders of decimal magnitude. That’s a one with 45 zeros behind it. A billion billion billion billion billions?

Now go out and play, staring at such things too long makes one wonder!

Tay.

As most readers probably know by now, the French government has changed. Not through an election but because of one, namely last Sunday’s municipal elections. It may be a good idea to evaluate the new deal.

On Sunday March 30th, France’s big cities and smaller ones known as Communes voted. The result was a slap to the face for the socialist party in power for the last 22 months. What’s more, the Front National, France’s main extreme right party made a historical score by gaining 12 Mayor halls. Two are particularly important, Henin-Beaumont and Marseille’s 7th sector. The first is an industrial town of the type that traditionally voted all the way to the left but Marine Le Pen, the party leader that revamped her father’s tainted organization, has been on the municipal council between 2008 and 2010. The other is France’s second city by population and the first for criminality per habitant. It should be noted that the rise of the far Right is a problem all through  Europe and not a French exception. Still, for a socialist government, it must have hurt.

On Monday, very logically, the rumors spread that the government might be changed. Do consider that in France, the Presidential regime is quite strong. François Hollande is in charge on Foreign Affairs and Defense and also the one that chooses and acknowledges the governments. That means that when the parliamentary majority is of the same persuasion as the President ( not always the case ), he is in the driver’s seat. Changing the ministerial team is often seen as the proper answer to doubts in the electorate and immediately after the municipal results got out, most observers knew that the change was coming, that Manuel Valls, Interior Minister and by far the favorite of the French public amongst the socialist leaders, would replace Jean-Marc Ayrault which happened on Tuesday. Because of what we just outlined, French Prime Ministers know their tenure to be often temporary, dismal polls being enough at time to warrant replacement.

Today, the new group was announced. Many stayed put : Laurent Fabius, a seasoned Socialist that was PM himself in 1984-86 kept the Foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian kept Defence where he is doing a good job and Christiane Taubira stayed as Justice Minister ( Garde des Sceaux ). Some got  a boost such as Arnaud Montebourg, an outspoken guy with staunch left-wing ideas that in the past attacked big business, European regulators and German Chancellor Angela Merkel without fear nor remorse. Benoit Hamon, a party rising star, moves up to Education. And more importantly, Michel Sapin moved from Labor to Finance ( a job he held back in 1993 ). Considering that the poor state of the French economy is most likely the reason behind Sunday’s electoral results, Sapin will have to work like a mad man to change the trend & perceptions. If there was one surprise, it may be Bernard Cazeneuve replacing PM Valls at the Interior ( police etc ) ministry. His job was decent prior in charge of cleaning up the public finances, not a small job and not a completed one either. It is likely that Manuel Valls and François Hollande had different postulants and that Cazeneuve, a determined man renowned for saying no definitively but with a smile was a middle ground?

There are 2 new arrivals though and they will play a big role in the next government. François Rebsamen is in charge of jobs! When one knows that France’s record unemployment is the main symptom of the suffering felt by the people, one can guess that he has the trust of the President and he does as he had that of the Dijon people of who he was the mayor. He was his second for a decade at the head of the Socialist Party. His nomination is linked to that of the other “newbie” : Ségolène Royal? Yes, the ex-wife of François Hollande and ex-Socialist Presidential candidate ( 2007 ) is entering the government by regaining the Environment Ministry 22 years after she first held it under another François, Mitterrand this time. The reason for this phoenix-like return is simple. Despite being divorced and at times competitors within the party, Hollande and Royal have shared their political ideas since university. The only reason for Ségolène not to be in the first Hollande crew was the presence of a possibly jealous Valérie Trierweiler. If I have faulted Hollande many times over for his loose morals on the relationship front, he is quite loyal on the political one, of which Ségolène’s place as 3rd in line in the government is the proof.

Last but not least, the association with the Green party ( EELV ) is now quite tenuous. None now holds a ministry and if Hollande socialists lost their support in the left-wing coalition at the Assemblée Nationale, they’d be only 2 seats ahead of the Right?

So, having reasonably succinctly reported on the changes, can we conclude anything for the next months in France? The answer is no because we left out the major change. Manuel Valls is the one around which all revolves. As outspoken on the right of the socialist party as Montebourg is on the left, Valls has a strong man image that likely explains the public consideration he still enjoys and is perfect to accelerate the agenda. First Prime Minister not born in France ( his parents fled the Franco dictatorship in Spain ), he has all the social traits that make people like you. Tall, ruggedly handsome, firm and clear, Manuel Valls is everything that Hollande is not. Although on average French voters are less susceptible to image induced flattery, chances are that the differences will ruffle the presidential feathers at times. This is not to say that François might be particularly jealous but we all know that in politics as in show business, image is essential. Whether those good looks will really be helpful to Manuel Valls is far from certain but the feeling by his boss of being in his shadow might play as big a role as his results or polls and opinion in how long he hangs on to the post of Prime Minister.

That might be the main obstacle on this government’s road ahead. The things to be taken care of, jobs, deficit and so on are perilous enough. That the quasi-obligation for Hollande to choose a man he somewhat dislikes to head his politics may ultimately shorten their calendar to complete the task is the real danger and dilemma. Time will tell.

 

As for the Front National success, of which I am not forgetting the implications, we will come back to that soon on a post exploring the far-right rise in Europe, from Paris to Hungary, Greece and of course Ukraine.

 

Good day all, Tay.

http://www.gouvernement.fr/files/04.02%20-%20Composition-du-gouvernement.pdf

Considering the reputation of the first of April that goes along the tradition of the day. Although many cultures had a day ( the oldest recognized is Iran / Persia’s Nowrux + 13 or Sizdah Bedar dating back half a century BC ) or a period related to jesters and jokers, the origin of the French Poisson d’Avril ( April Fish ) is attributed to one Eloy D’Amerval on which a couple things have to be said. Born sometime before 1450, Eloy was a choir boy in his youth. He likely married since he’s credited with a son but became a priest after his wife’s passing and under closed the loop by becoming a choir master. It is quite possibly to amuse his pupils that he would have invented the Fools tradition. We do know that d‘Amerval was a punster by nature through his Book of Devilry that closes the Middle-Ages ( published in Paris in 1508 under King Louis XII ). In it, he has Lucifer and Satan exchanging at length on a very jolly tone with “moult” ( many ) ironic repartees. The very fact that a priest could write a jocular liber on the Devil at a time when religion was the ultimate in seriousness shows enough the man to have been a joyful spirit. The reference to April though is arcane at best, included in a general description of the mores of the times. Except that over the next hundred years, similar tales of jokes played on unsuspecting folks and has been in used at least since 1686, in England where it likely surfaced from an other obscure and much older passage of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. And returning to France, one finds the custom for the Moderns as January 1st replaced May 25th and its week-end long celebration to April 1 as the beginning of the calendar year to laugh at the Ancients that had not made the switch until 1700 or so. For all these reasons, I will consider the 18th Century as the official start of the April’s Fools tradition and choose no date prior to that in my list and stop short of my own hoax for this year :
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/03/31/update-news-sarah-palin-awarded-scientific-medal/ .

10 -Death is not a proper joke, granted and yet, on April 1st 1924 died Jacob Bolotin. This clearly relates to our subject as Bolotin was the first blind man licensed to practice medicine, a full fledged physician. If you don’t trust me check it here :
https://nfb.org/history-bolotin
9 – Environment activists choose April 1st ten years ago ( 2004 ) to celebrate Fossil Fools day. The blatant pun on fuel to fool meaning that those that consume them are not very lucid may be based on sound logic and quite to my liking but asking any PR guy would have brought a big no-no to the idea. Indeed, how many of my readers even knew that April first also served the ecological agenda? Hum? Case made and closed.
http://www.wearepowershift.org/fossilfools
8 – In 1826, Charles Morey patented the internal combustion engine. The state of the World pollution wise prooves this to have been no joke and indeed may be the justification for the above? *facepalm*
7 – In 1789, as the turmoil in France was beginning that led to the Revolution, the US House of Representatives held its first assembly in New York. Despite the illustrious nature of the event, considering how well liked those folks are by now, the date could hardly have been chosen more “wisely”? Enough said!
6 – The Wrigley gum company was founded in Chicago on April first 1891 … and yet it is Bazooka that has jokes in its similar products? Might as well, Bazooka jokes were never funny anyhow!
5 – Two years later ( 1893 ), the rank of Chief Petty Officer was created and these have been grumbling ( due to the poor choice of date, no doubt ) ever since, as all that served in the US Navy can attest.
4 – Odisha State of the Indian confederation was formed introduced in 1936 and as you can guess, the other 1,2 billion Bharat inhabitants have been making jokes about it since. The ex-Orissa/Kalinga/Utkal is the equivalent of Belgium to europe or Newfoundland to Canada, if you will.
3 – Apple was incorporated on April 1st 1976 and Google’s GMail was announced in 2004 showing that computer science is resolutely modern and scoffs at tradition?
2 – On April’s Fools day 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to make same sex marriage legal. The local homosexual community reportedly waited a cautious 24 hours and the ensuing absence of rebuke to celebrate!
1 – Finally, today is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s national day /birthday. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/04/01/356747/iran-marks-islamic-republic-day/ How could the oldest jokesters of the human gang ( see introduction ) not understand the irony that would have the foundation of their present state fall on one of the 2 dates ( with April 2nd ) of Sizdah Bedar and provide tongue-in-cheek fuel to the opponents within or abroad is beyond me. I will quickly offer my best wishes to the nation before closing but … considering my lack of empathy for a regime that practices public executions of women for infidelity at the half-time of football matches, I can’t help but wonder if say in 2029 for the 50th anniversary, it will be revealed to have been but one giant hoax? – “Nah! We’re all fine blokes that like to party around pork chops and drink ourselves into a stupor before the orgy but you should have seen the looks on your faces for the last half century and do take that paper fish off the back of your coat?”
If so, admittedly, it will have to rank all the way up there in the firmament of tricks. Funny? That’s another matter however!

Tssssssssk, Tay.

According to Rueters, the Joint Office of Kinetics Experimentation announced today that a Masters degree thesis paper on ballistic applications of unarmed missiles published in 1987 at the University of Idaho in Moscow by ex-Alaska governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin ( R ) will be credited with an academic medal.
Palin sternly commented when joined that : “Yes, I did author that paper but it was so long ago that I could not present it for oral examination today if asked to.”
Review of the paper was nonetheless confirmed by examining professors Al Ein now at the Tel-Aviv College in Israel and Bert Stein, retired from Idaho U.
“I know it seems incredible, said Idaho University Dean Tip Harty but sometimes, papers do get lost in the academic process and we should just be glad that a wrong was at last corrected.”
Legal verifications will now have to be conducted before Mrs Palin can claim her Master and the medal.

Full disclosure of the events and confirmation of the Medal for Scientific Excellence’s awarding will be given tomorrow noon in Moscow, Idaho by Dean Harty.
Over the past two months, the last necessary steps were verified by the American Academics Association and no errors were detected.
Officials from the GOP ( Republican Party ) refused to answer questions pertaining to how this Medal might help position Sarah Palin for their next Presidential nomination race in 2016.
Lost papers are not a rare an occurrence in Universities and Colleges, especially in the case of students whom, as was the case for Palin, do not complete a full set of courses for any given level or degree.

Isaac Herschel in New York.

ERRATUM : This article bears the date of March 31st solely for time zones reasons since my blogging platform is located in California. I hereby solemnly swear and attest that it was in fact published a full minute after midnight or on April 1 2014 according to my Eastern Standard Time residence clock. Sorry for any inconvenience that the readers may have incurred on account of the discrepancy, Tay.

Yes the Eiffel Tower is 125 years old on today March 31st 2014 but no it is not exactly discreet, towering over the low buildings of Central Paris. And yet, if it is a monument for almost all of Earth’s 7 and a half billion people, there are approximatively 2 million for which it is a quiet old friend instead : the Parisians themselves.

 

We tend to think of such landmarks as evident, striking, some would even say : eyesores, precisely because they overpower ( in this case overtower? ) their surroundings. But that is not the case for all of them. The Pyramids or the Taj Mahal are located in somewhat remote areas and can’t be missed, sure but the same does not go for the urban marvels of architecture for the locals.

The easiest parallel here might be with the Statue of Liberty since its structure was built by the same man : Gustave Eiffel.

He also built the Garabit viaduc in Cantal France so here is his winning trio :

Tour%20Eiffel

statue-de-la-liberte-resize

viaduc_garabit_eiffel

 

If you are a tourist or would have been an immigrant on the great transatlantic ships, the Statue would be an essential image but if you’ve lived in New York all your life, it is likely that you never even visited it and the same holds true for the Parisians most of which never went up the Eiffel Tower. For the locals, it is almost something to forget.

 

My son, having not been raised in Paris, was a huge fan of the old antennae ( the tower’s second use after initially being a part of the 1889 World Fair). He learned all about it :  the artistic debate when it was erected ( deemed ugly by many ), that it surpassed the Washington Monument ( huge obelisk on the mall ) as World’s tallest structure before the 1930 opening of the Chrysler Building which it overtook again in 1957 by the addition of the TV antennae, etc. You could have quizzed him on the furniture in Eiffel’s private office atop the Tour, Franz Reichelt jump to his death from it as he attempted to perfect the parachute and so on.

 

 

So of course, our first big trip was to Paris ( only the most visited town in the World, it’s not as if he had chosen that poorly anyway ) and we went to see it on the second day. It is only as we visited the rest the French capital however that his love truly shined. Wherever we were, he always wanted to know where the Tower was. Every time we went up something, his gaze would sweep the horizon until he found it, his beloved Tour Eiffel! On occasion, I was myself surprised to see the monument discreetly poke through the trees or buildings and took pictures for the boy. here is one :

DSCN2014

 

It was taken from the Rodin Museum’s park ( which you should not miss if you ever visit Paris ). That tall and ornamented gold plated dome is the top of the Invalides that house the Armies Museum and Napoléon Bonaparte’s tomb. This is what, on average, the Eiffel Tower looks like for a Parisian. Just as New Yorkers certainly have a couple pictures with the Statue : in the background but not as a backdrop, simply because it is there!

 

With that in mind, let me ask my readers to wonder and ponder on this anniversary of the old French Iron Lady about their own local staple. What is it that in your town people come to visit but that you take for granted? Next time you check the family’s photo albums, try to remember this post and look for it. Chances are, you too have a nice and rare image of something the rest of us always see from the same vantage point. It’s a little like being married to a movie star. I’m almost certain that the nicest picture of Brad or Angelina is one in a ( luxury ) shoe box  or in a drawer at their home. It was taken to capture the kids or cat or the dog but in the background is that famous actor seated with a book, a pensive look on his or her face, more human than you’ve ever seen them.

 

It’s the same with landmarks and in this case the Tour Eiffel even though calling it discreet might be a bit much. Happy 125th birthday to it.

 

Tay.

http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/

Americans are pissed at their Congress. Sorry for the English but that’s an honest assessment. Then again, politics are not the most honest game in town as we all know and apart for simple folks such as Maine that came up with ludicrously simple ways of making it somewhat cleaner :
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edward-erikson/remember-the-maine-clean-_b_4505750.html
But we can’t all be Maine or so it seems and most have difficulty even understanding who is representing them or why.
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25343427/editorial-this-special-election-weird-about-sums-it
Of course, Congress knows this and has drawn the logical conclusion that they don’t have to pretend anymore and can just say and do anything or most often nothing; it just doesn’t matter!What used to be the pride of the American Republic and the envy of other lands is now a laughing matter at best, O.K. Fine! Well, with this in mind, here are some strange ideas for a strange Congress ( Look Ma, I didn’t say stupid? ).
There are many already documented ways of instilling a bit of logic and efficiency in political bodies. In his book The Ogre, Michel Tournier had his character suggest that members of a deposed or non-reelected government be summarily executed but despite the advantages, I won’t go that far although a related idea will be found below. For instance, in some shamanic traditions, the people likely to be chosen as leaders were asked to stay at home while the tribe debated on who to choose. That would save us the unending campaigns of baby kissing and empty promises and money squandering. What’s more, once their choice was made, a group was sent to the chosen with the contingency that if he seemed to eager, the position could be refused to him. I have often said that it is my strong belief that a Statesman does not clutch for dear life to power. Washington, De Gaulle or Mandela decided to leave politics when the people still would have elected them. It is a sign of greed and the mark of professional politicians to seek perpetual tenure.

So, countering Tournier’s idea with a more humane solution ( no, not having Congress members spayed or neutered although that could work to our advantage too ), I propose that terms be non-reconductive. Yes, you heard right : a 2 year stint and out you go, buddy. The logic behind that proposal goes thus : A- If you have a limited time to act, it should drive you to more efficiency and stop laws from dying in the limbos of power that Capitol hill is on the verge of becoming? and B- If you can’t do good for your constituents in two years of hard work, what less could you do in 4, 8 or 12 or forty? Let’s face it, the Congressional motto is already known to bright Americans and they don’t particularly care for it :

Congressional Motto.

Congressional Motto.

The numbers that go along that idea are proof enough of its validity. There 435 Representatives and 100 Senators on the Hill making for a combined total of 535 seats. The representatives are there for 2 years but the Senators for six; I’d recommend bringing the terms of each to an even four years. They could still be elected in separate half batches on the years following and preceding a Presidential election to decouple the powers and still offering the suffering masses known as the citizens/voters of the USA a year of respite out of every four during which it could be made illegal to talk elections? If you take that 4 years tenure and see it over an active lifetime of 60 years ( you have to be 25 to be eligible to representation and even Popes now retire by 80 years old so … ), it only comes down to 15 elections right? ( 60 divided by 4 = 15 for the arithmetically challenged ) So that with a new person every time, over a lifetime, you’d only need 535 x 15 or 8,025 people? Even if the terms are kept at 2 years ( and Senate tenures counted at that level, it only amounts to 16 050 individuals. Are you going to tell me that the United States cannot produce sixteen thousand bright folks per sixty years span? Not only is that entirely belied by the success story that is America on the world stage but if it was truly the case, we could just close Congress altogether and thus save millions? ( Idea number 2 there :D )
There are many advantages to this proposition. First, it would of course maximize fresh ideas. Let’s be serious for a second here, Einstein said it best : doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insane! My solution solves that. Second, it would minimize corruption ( or special interests / privileges / lobbying as it is referred to under democratic climates ). I mean if the guy or gal is out the door by the time the bill is signed either you don’t bribe them or you suddenly have to bribe twice as many. I know the corporations’ pockets hold enough small change to adapt but that way we’d get a “heightened return” on our enslavement especially since that corr huh, lobby wealth would then be spread over more people? If that idea is not selected by the way, an alternative would be for the Congress to dress truthfully ( Idea 3 ) :

The real Mc C(ain)oy!

The real Mc C(ain)oy!

Nothing like a prominent NRA patch on there to accelerate the gun debate, right? Third and maybe most importantly, changing congressfolk more often overall would make the political news bulletins less boring!
One last thought about money there, maybe we should only elect unemployed blokes? ( Idea 4 ) I know that being unemployed doesn’t say much for their ability to manage government funds but then again neither do the ones we choose now if military spending of billions on dubious Lock-Mart toys and the recurring budget crisis / debacle are used as clues and unemployed folks really need the paycheck? Plus, if we only elected peeps to Congress for their ability to make cash, a Congressional Joint Session would be Warren Buffet having lunch with Bill Gates, right?
I guess that you’ll argue my proposed changes are too wide sweeping or that they’d require a rewrite of the Constitution starting at Article 1.
http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlei
And you’re probably right but then let’s forget bringing any seriousness into American politics. And let’s think of introducing smaller reforms aimed at making them funnier if not more efficient.
So idea number 5 goes thus : filibusters, the embodiment of the uselessness of the population of that magnificent building on Capitol Hill need a refresh. I hereby submit to the attention of the President that they hence be compulsorily comprised of only original material! No more reading Dr Zeuss, or the phone book of Szechuan province. Write your own endless non-sense. Barring which you would be required to sing and dance them! I’m confident that Ted Cruz doing the robot while he sings along all the repertoire of Sesame Street or the Grimm brothers would interrupt the naps of even the most senile members of the Hill Gang. ( Hill Gang is barely a joke BTW; on account of both their morals and their hatred of each other’s colors, they at times resemble the tragic Crisps vs Bloods war in L.A. more then they do a modern nation’s parliament. )

O.K. I’ll stop by now before offending the last of my readers and to make amends for “LOLling” at this revered institution, I’ll offer a very real idea for change to close on. This one comes from the biggest democracy on Earth ( Sorry China, you don’t qualify ). India is going to vote for the replacement of its lower assembly ( Lok Sabah ) in April, starting on the 7th. Both it and the Rajya Sabha ( higher house ) can put Bills up for implementation and once a law is sent to the other chamber, the recipient has 6 months to vote it down or sign it, after which a Joint Session is automatically called to resolve the matter by a simple majority. In the case of money bills, this provision goes down to 14 days and they pass immediately! What do you think of that, dear Congress? Two flocking weeks! Every darn citizen in America has to pay his or her bills within a given period, after all. Why not force yourselves to do the same with the signing of yours?
What? Too much work?

Tsssssk, Tay.

European Spring :

european spring

Chinese spring :

Compression_Spring_Ends_Closed_and_Ground

Oops, sorry! Chinese spring :

chinese spring cherry

Mountain Spring :

Mountain_Spring_by_AmaryllisHakatri

Arab Spring :

arab-spring1

Oops, sorry! Arab Spring :

sahara

Canadian Spring :

canadaspring

It’s all relative, I’m telling you!
Tay.

Have you checked the Chinese and American Presidents’ Agendas for the last week? It was filled with strange stuff! First, Xi Jinping and his wife received the American First Lady Michelle Obama and the First daughters along with their First Grand-Mother ( couldn’t say First Mother since it was Michelle’s mom and not Barack’s ). Dad A.K.A. the Prez couldn’t come as he left for Europe the next day.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2014/mar/24/michelle-obama-in-china-in-pictures
But weirdly enough so did Xi and Peng a couple days later. Good thing the American presidential couple is not in show biz or the tabloids would have gone mad with rumors of separation?
The highlight of Obama’s visit was when he asked europe to raise its military spending. Not only did that confirm my call that the Ukraine crisis would bring about a new mini-arms race à la Cold War 2 http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/03/24/ukraines-armament-casus-belli-for-cold-war-2/ but it is also interesting since America is trying to downsize its own armed forces. We of course know that this will still leave them far ahead of the gang in first place and yet : Do as I say not as I do, right?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/obama-urges-europeans-to-bolster-nato-to-help-deter-an-expansionist-russia/2014/03/26/9353797c-b4f7-11e3-8cb6-284052554d74_story.html
The two leaders schedule made sure they would not meet though and on Wednesday as Xi, arrived in the Netherlands left for Lyon, France, Obama left neighbouring Belgium to meet with the Pope. It’s too bad really because the dichotomy if both had met Francis would have been striking. The anti-cash Jesuit Pope meeting with the socialist President ( according to the Tea Party & Fox News ) of the world’s first and most capitalist economy before meeting the communist chief of the world’s second and second most capitalist economy? I mean seriously, for those that really yearn for a better sharing of the wealth, the irony can’t be missed.
Irony for irony, having denounced and discussed the NSA in the last days, Barack went to Turkey where his speech to the parliament opened with a reference to Ataturk? If you know that the secular democracy that man built for Turkey is the exact opposite of what present Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants for the country and add that bit by bit, from the streets to Internet to Twitter and today YouTube, he is banning all electronic media … well, it is not funny but still ironic. About which, my old habit of using logic to treat politics and social affairs although I know they’re not related resurfaced. If protests at mega-projects need to be outlawed, if blogs and fora and mews sites denouncing the government have to be outlawed, if social media were citizens organize their dislike of the man in power have to be outlawed and the video channels were one can hear his money-laundering schemes and see proofs of corruption have to be outlawed, for the sake of economy of means, I can’t help wonder that since their nexus, their common denominator is the Prime Minister, wouldn’t it be simpler to outlaw Erdogan instead? One move solves all, etc … just sayin’!
Last step for Obama was Saudi Arabia ( not in Europe but Americans are not renowned for geography anyway ) where according to the Wall Street Journal, he is to discuss MidEast “differences” with King Abdullah. Middle East differences, really? If they get to the bottom of that, the President will be back in Washington somewhere by the end of May … be June!
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304418404579467141949542248?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304418404579467141949542248.html
By the way, striking headline for striking headline, the Philippines struck a deal with their Muslim rebels? No offense to Islam but if they can patent the recipe and export it, their fortune is done?
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2014/03/philippines-sign-deal-with-muslim-rebels-2014327434188160.html
Meanwhile, Xi Jinping was in France. You’d think this would go well as the two countries are celebrating the 50th year of recognition of the Chinese Communist Republic by Paris, long before the rest of the West. On top of which they signed businnes deals for nearly 20 B Euros on planes and wine and food etc. Well, strangely enough considering the country’s reputation, the external trade minister might have been hoping for more as she complained that the food served to President Jinping was horrible?
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/chinese-president-served-disgusting-food-french-minister-says/article17721820/
LOL
And now in Germany, another quirky faux-pas awaited The poor Xi. He had wished to visit the Holocaust Memorial but the tendency in Deutschland is to avoid all references to that period and he was to told to hike it and go by himself? Top notch diplomacy, huh? WWII memorials, when one knows of the imbroglio with Japan where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe regularly visits his dead Fascist heroes shrine, might best be forgotten altogether for the Chinese? It just doesn’t bring them any luck.
http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?cid=1101&MainCatID=11&id=20140328000042

Good end for both men on their respective trips and since they were likely too busy with protocol to notice, here’s my modest gift to help them relax and or appear as seers to boost their popularity : Yesterday, Amnesty International announced a 15% hike in executions worldwide in 2013!
Why? Because of Iran and Iraq with 369 and 169 respectively.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-26754992
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ACT50/001/2014/en/652ac5b3-3979-43e2-b1a1-6c4919e7a518/act500012014en.pdf
Overall that represented 98 more deaths than in 2012. Now consider this : Egypt had no official number since the country is normally secretive about such things. But on Monday, Cairo announced a whopping 529 death penalties for Muslim brotherhood supporters of ex-President Morsi!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/24/muslim-brotherhood-trial-egypt_n_5019909.html
So let me check my crystal ball … for 2014, I hereby predict … a sharp, sharp, sharp rise in executions worldwide? And we’re only in March?
What? Too soon?

Tay.

Copyright - John Nixon

Copyright – John Nixon

- “How was your day, darling?”
- “Bad, mom!”
- “Really? I thought you were going on a field trip?”
- “We did! Our teacher took us to see a forest with weird twisted trees.”
- “So?”
- “Back in school before leaving, she asked us to say something about the written forest so I said that the trees were shaped like letters because that’s where the Sesame Street characters grew up and she gave me a zero.”
- “But baby, it’s spelled WRITHEN! I’m sure she explained that.”
- “Maybe while I was climbing …

-murmured – … I’m sure Mrs Wright lives there, in that dark forest, wicked witch!”

redsep

( 100 words / 0 numerals ; title not included )

The above short story is an entry to a weekly challenge on WordPress called : Friday Fictioneers!

The idea is to write a hundred words short fiction ( flash ) story upon the prompt that is provided by Rochelle under the form of the above picture.

Thanks then to Rochelle whose blog is found here :

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/friday-fictioneers-2/

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/28-march-2014/

and I hope my readers will like it.

Tay.

By the time I will have published this post online, it will have been 20 days since MH 370 has disappeared. Every day, countless hours of television ( and radio and newspaper & electronic pages ) are spent rehashing a mystery that could be summed up in 1 000 words or less. This is what we will now do : explain in simple words ( although with technical referral links for the enthusiasts ) what CANNOT have happened to that jetliner. When we are done, as I explained before,
we will know what possibly & probably occurred.

41 minutes after midnight on March 8 2014, a Malaysia Airline Boeing 777[-200ER] airliner leaves Kuala Lumpur for Beijing almost due North, a little to the East. At 01:19 or 38 minutes later, having signed off to the Malaysian air traffic controllers, 4 abnormal things happen.
A- The transponder, a device that identifies the plane to specialized radars, is turned off 2 minutes later. This is easy to do but totally contrary to civil aviation procedure. It is done within the cockpit.
B- The plane disappears from the Thai military radars that had it identified.
C- The crew does not contact the Vietnamese air controllers that were supposed to guide it to Chinese airspace.
D- The ACARS does not report as planned at 01:37 or 56 minutes after take-off. This system that automatically reports flight maintenance parameters has to be turned off in the technical bay, a local below the cockpit that is not normally accessed in flight. This is the most important clue in the disappearance of MH 370. Depending on how it is set-up, this system sends data to the ground without any intervention from the crew whatsoever at regular intervals ( in this case every thirty minutes or hourly ). In case of abnormalities of any of the plane’s mechanisms however, it comes on line to transmit these incorrect parameters, automatically. Unless Malaysian Airlines knows that the system was dysfunctional which is easy to ask of them, at that moment Flight 370 was under voluntary control of someone that wanted it to vanish.
How can we be sure of that?
Apart from the above facts, a series of unverified leads accredit this : Thai military radars have lost MH 370 and picked up an unidentified aircraft flying in the opposite direction right after the transponder was switched off. During the exact same timeframe ( 01:22 to 01:28 ), the Malaysian controllers confirm the course change along with altitude variations. If both reports are true, that B777 was under manual control because the auto-pilot would have veered less sharply, along a broader curve. Then at 02:15, a Malaysian military radar locates an unknown plane West of the mainland and North-West of Kuala Lumpur. IF this is MH 370, it is either flying off the grid or completing a long curve back to its departure point. For the latter to be true true however, an illogical sequence of events would have to be accepted : the transponder cut-off  would either be a mistake in which case the plane would have followed its route or due to a malfunction but then so would the ACARS and radio in which case the plane is virtually powerless without engines nor electrical generation of any sort. In that case, no matter how good the pilots, this airplane would have crashed in the vicinity of Malaysia.

Malaysia-Airlines-MH370_insert

This is where we learn and factor in the “handshakes”. This term describes the attempt of satellite communications to exchange with the plane. In a normal situation, the ACARS at the very least would answer but as we have seen, these were not functioning. Still, the Inmarsat-3F1 gets a non-triangulated ( distance but not direction ) number of haw far the plane traveled from the last attempt. Said otherwise, from 02:11, right before the Malaysian Air Force noticed it last out of position, to 08:11 ( 6 hours later ), the plane was flying still. If at any point, you doubted that this was not a major malfunction situation, this would dispel your belief. A broken down aircraft does not fly on for hours. 8 minutes later, at 08:19, an unexplained / abnormal handshake attempt by the plane constitutes our last clue of it working. There is one simple explanation for this, part of the automated sensors were still at work within the plane and noticed it falling out of the sky, possibly out of fuel, and tried to send an emergency report. When the satellite tried again to contact the plane at 09:11 to 15, it got no answer at all.

Image from YahooNews : Click for link to article.

Image from YahooNews : Click for link to article.

That is it! You have all the certainties. Everything else you heard from pseudo-experts is so much noise about little. I refuse to spend a single minute of your time or mine discussing the intangibles. Why did who do this? We do not know for now. Are the debris South-West of Australia the remnants of the plane or simply other flotsam/jetsam ( things floating around the oceans after wreck or as trash ) ? We will know soon enough.
Another thing that I will not do is give you my opinion. I gave you the facts sifted logically and that is more than enough, more than most reporters are doing. You may endeavour by yourself to build a theory, as is your right but it will be based on acceptable truth. MH 370 did not suffer a “simple” malfunction, critical or otherwise. If that had been the case, it would not have cut off its communications. And if the communications had failed for catastrophic reasons, the plane would not have flown for 6 more hours, i.e. under power!  As is, someone attempted a takeover that ultimately failed. The best proof lies in the absence of any message from anyone on-board and the continued flight possibly under auto-pilot again and lack of claim.

1, 000 words exactly * as promised and the rest is so much ado about nothing.

Tay.

* For everything above not counting this, the title nor the post scriptum and links below.
P.S. All my thoughts to the victim’s loved one and the crews searching for the aircraft and who the final word now depends.

The plane :
http://www.boeing.com/boeing/commercial/777family/pf/pf_200product.page

Transponder :
http://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Transponder
http://www.avweb.com/news/avionics/183231-1.html

ACARS :
http://theaviationist.com/2014/03/16/satcom-acars-explained/
or
http://honeywell.com/sites/aero-technology/Key-Technologies/Avionics/Pages/acars.aspx

The satellite handshakes explanation :
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/24/flight-mh370-inmarsat-aaib-analysis

Timeline :
http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/11/world/asia/malaysia-airlines-flight-370-timeline/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_370

 

Find the real funny website!

I was doing research earlier today for important upcoming posts such as which countries made advances in democracy first or demographic tendencies around the world and the Upcoming elections in India. As I was taking notes on the latter, I discovered an interesting fact about their bi-cameral system that got me off on a tangent about ideas that Capitol Hill, the home of the US Congress, could import. Believe it or not while I was checking facts and looking for documentation on this, I sidestepped again. Having entered a reasonable query on methods for choosing leaders in various cultures in a search engines, I got such strange results that I just had to click on some to check them out. This resulted in my finding the following 3 websites. I’m going to take a wild guess here and suppose my readers to be bright enough to find which is A- Ridiculous B- Questionable or C- Funny.

In order not to mislead you, I’ll give a single interrogative phrase for each with an example :

Popular parenting : “Use make-up … & … buy the popular people gifts…” ?

http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Popular-in-Middle-School-(for-Girls)

 

Is that guy serious : “8000 Beduins in Israel Claim Obama is Related to them” ?

http://www4.ncsu.edu/~ngbetts/nathanielswebpage/Traits.html

 

Are those peeps serious : “If you think it’s lonely at the top, just wait ’til you try the bottom.” ?

http://www.despair.com/demotivators.html

 

There you go, only one is an interesting site (  that should be bookmarked  :D ) and the other two should be ashamed or interned. Good hunt and laughs, Tay.

P.S. IF you really can’t find the good ones and bad ones and are not too ashamed to admit it, leave a comment and I’ll help you out?

Warning, this post discusses adult matter that should shock most audiences, hopefully I may add!

Again today, during my regular use of Internet on fora, I found a clear call for factual rape. A member specifically referring to an international news figure wrote that him and those that think like him should “rape her and her daughter to death”. I say again because this is not a rare occurrence. Even as a direct menace as found above, it is present in 12% of the daily Tweets and much more often than that as a “joke”, as a meme * meaning to get the better on someone or something.
http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2014/01/20/this-is-your-brain-online-how-twitter-changed-the-word-rape

If you don’t believe me or Carl Miller who penned the above piece, just refer to the link below :
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=internet+use+of+the+word+rape&gbv=2&oq=internet+use+of+the+word+rape&gs_l=heirloom-hp.12…11428.11428.0.13646.1.1.0.0.0.0.120.120.0j1.1.0….0…1ac.1.34.heirloom-hp..1.0.0.51-TgL3-f7Q
That the very precise query of Internet use of the word rape should garner 15, 300, 000 hits is worrisome in and of itself in my opinion. That the troll that uttered the above threat could jokingly answer my calling him a disgusting human by finding me to be a weirdo may be worse.

Let me be quite clear here : If you were standing in front of me in a public setting and said you‘d rape anyone without joking, I am sorry to say that in all likelihood, I would physically assault you. A threat to murder or rape are extremely serious things. Having been in the military and worked at security in harsh environments, I have never found the need to do so. I have partaken in violence and sadly know what I am talking about. Although common in some cultures, a death threat is in my opinion a personal casus belli : it immediately allows the receiver to attack the sender in self-defense. This likely shows me to be a violent person which I won’t deny although I have never stopped working at curbing that. This rough appraisal was necessary, I believe, to strengthen the rest of this call to reason. I am not a bleeding heart nor a pacifist. Still, a death threat is unacceptable in my honest opinion and a rape threat is just as bad. Rape is an act of hatred.
To immediately clarify this, let me say that as a man, I have never heard a normal male admit that he enjoyed difficult or hurtful sexual penetrations of a scared and crying partner. I know of people that have a preference for role play that relates to this and know sadomachism to be a relatively standard perversion. To really want this however is the mark of a psychopath.
Rape is a hate crime. At worst, its intent is to deprive the victim of its self and at “best” to take possession. It either aims to hurt or to own the other; in the least, it ignores them as humans.

On Internet, as we all know there are different levels of discussion. Some of the earliest communities were build entirely on anonymity. This warranted for the kind of uncought liberties that one would usually only indulge in with a small circle of verifiably similar-minded people, away from the crowds. Then again, an Internet community of thousands or more members does not qualify as a small circle and is more like the aforementioned crowd in which if one is to stand out they have to outdo the rest? So that excess was the way to shine and in social settings that usually comes through humor, shock, sex or violence. Using rape as a substitute for “win” or in a larger sense and very fittingly a metaphor for to overcome an opponent fitted all these categories and logically flourished. Having been using the Internet since before its inception ( all the way back to ARPANET ), I have witnessed most of the steps to today’s digital society. I can vouch that the process of its growth went through layers. What I mean by this is that the first network of professional spawned the University communities and these the first commercial mail and forums and the whole set-up gave birth to the general use of networked computerized exchanges now known as Internet without the culture of the former stratas going away. The exchange of scientific information morphed into the exchange of personal information, yes but goes on. In the same way, the habits of the first fora into the first game communities ten to 15 years later. And since in massive on-line games one is activating a persona that also has to stand out in order to garner attention and further fame and power, the bad habit of using rap to mean dominating an adversary spread. I witnessed many female gamers partake without a second thought in the use of that “expression”. In some cases, having formed real life friendships with them, I ended up “scolding” them for it in personal messages, asking them why would a woman choose to relativize the immensely immoral real action that is rape by using it loosely. If that does not convince the reader of the transfer that occurred from one level to the next, I can’t do better.
Except that of course, when a new generation came to the Internet, it only acquired the habits of the place and did as the Romans? These however did not limit their networked activities to fora and gaming as the previous one had. They soon also talked like that in school, in text messages ( SMS ) and later on Twitter. And thus the use of the meme rape spread as did that of many other unsavory expressions.

Internet is not a normal social setting. It indeed is more like a global community, more like the biosphere. That is why there is no single authority. Each community has moderators and administrators to control the members, that have to deal with the anonymity driven ruckus usually on a voluntary basis. I’ve been one myself and know their plight, my heart goes out to them. Internet is a global pool. In that global pool of information exchange, some swim and some pee just as in a normal public pool. The excrements gather at the bottom yes but as we frolic in the pool, some of them rise to the upper layer and infect the unwary swimmers. And the more we frolic, the more of the pus rises and spreads diseases. But because of the culture of the instantaneous that it encourages, Internet produces little sediments that could retain and filter the feces : Not enough silt to sift the shit? It is a shallow lake over a deep cesspool.

That is how rape, a word describing one of the oldest & worst crimes of humanity, was bandied around enough to have become common place. Which in the name of my mom, sister, the young girls in whose growth I played a role, my ex-partners in love, all other great women in my life and heck all other women in yours and in general, I find unbearable to hear calls of rape on Internet especially as a threat left unanswered by authorities. To the exclusion of fiction, unless used to describe and denounce its occurrence, it is an unacceptable outrage. And to be clear, I can only say to the unfit excuse of a man that I encountered this morning what a good one once told me on Internet after I fictitiously wronged him in a game : I would beat you up but my arms are not long enough.

I’ll go ponder if in this case it was a good or a bad thing and calm down but it won’t change my mind : Rape is not a joke no matter what the setting!

Sad and angry out, Tay

* Meme : a spreading cultural component.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

A plane went missing and the World has been riveted to its computer and TV screens since. Meanwhile however, a much more important crisis is still on-going in Ukraine, Crimea and Russia. The satellites being used to track debris of Flight MH 370 *, we will have to use a looking glass instead on the latest developments North of the Black Sea. The facts have been covered already in this blog so that a quick situation point will suffice before beginning.

Ukraine changed governments in late February ( 21st-22nd ) as a result of the Euromaidan revolt. This change is not yet legalized correctly, it will only be after the elections planned on the 25th of May. On Feb. 27th, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was seized by unidentified armed men and its parliament overthrown. On March 1st, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was authorized by his parliament to use military troops in Ukraine and in a close session, the new Crimean parliament ( Rada ) launched a referendum to separate from Ukraine and join Russia which passed in incorrect legal fashion on Sunday March 16th. Russia accepted the result nonetheless the following Tuesday. And the deepening disappeared plane mystery grabbed most people’s attention away since then.
[ The very brief review above should suffice for most readers that followed the events. If not please find in chronological order the Posts that give more details below :
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/02/20/ukraine-events-in-3-names-and-3-timeframes-from-pre-history-to-next-monday/
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/02/21/agreement-signed-in-kiev-is-ukraine-saved/
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/02/22/fingers-crossed-on-ukraine/
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/02/24/open-letter-to-ukraine-from-sochi/
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/03/01/is-russia-ready-to-invade-ukraine-putin-sure-is/
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/03/03/put-your-money-where-your-might-is-un-and-ukraine-assessment-and-suggestion/
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/03/06/crimeas-referendum-explained-in-5-pretexts/
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2014/03/11/ukraine-and-crimea-the-larger-geo-political-context/ ]

We can conclude the following for now : Ukraine is not in a position to “fight back” over Crimea and should concentrate on stabilizing itself up to the May elections; Russia played a devious game but the resulting inclusion of crimea is unlikely to be disputed at large and will just as likely stand. What can we deduce on a geo-political level and what can still be discussed or happen, or history vs prospective, the lessons and future of this crisis, is the subject of this Post.

Why did the West answer so meekly?
In short, because it did not understand Vladimir Putin. Russia did not submit forever after the fall of the Soviet Union, it was merely hurt. The ex-KGB officer patiently used all means available to him to secure a strangle hold over his land, the kind of authoritative power that would make African dictators jealous and is almost a sine qua non condition of ruling such a vast land. That made him believe in his destiny and allow him to see himself as a new kind of Tsar. Of course a new kind of Tsar should rule over a renewed kind of Russia and the man now probably confuses his destiny with that of Mother Russia. Figuratively speaking, the Russian bear had a paw in a trap and Putin is the survival spirit that freed it! Schizo probably not but megalo certainly?
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/03/vladimir_putin_s_irrational_behavior_why_the_russian_president_wins_if_we.html

Arguments :
Russia’s arguments in the present affair are all wrong, granted. There is no direct danger to Russian citizens. The fascist danger is no worse in Ukraine than in many Western European countries. Ukraine’s shift to the West does not put Russia in grave danger per se. Etc. In reverse however, the West has muddled waters so much with imperative actions over the last 20 years as to provide excuses aplenty for his present stance. For every wrong by Moscow in the last few weeks, one can easily find a counterpart : Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, etc. Many wrongs don’t make a right but by the time this is proved satisfactorily, Crimea will be legally bound to Russia beyond turning back, in fact it already is!
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/03/putin_s_crimea_revenge_ever_since_the_u_s_bombed_kosovo_in_1999_putin_has.html

Who’s who?
Russia is pretty much alone and the few countries that support it are the kind of friends you would not be proud to be seen with : Venezuela’s Maduro and Syria’s Assad. India is paying lip service to its main armament provider which in all logic actually should help it hasten the signing of its mega-deal with the French for Rafale fighter jets if only not to be so solely dependent on the one source? China is incredibly discreet in the matter if not mute for the very simple reason that it is not all that fond of auto-determination ( for its own component states ) especially as it pushes to *cough, cough* “involuntarily integrate” neighbours ( Taïwan et al. ).
To picture the West as unified however would be a mistake. The US is incredibly passive, half through the meek Foreign policy of the Obama administration that got caught unprepared and half because it is growing out of it aggressive phase if only for the lackluster of the last 2 big wars that it entertained without much results? Europe, first concerned, is no better. The eastern nations Poland first are acutely worried. Germany, as has become its habit is stuck with political moves and militarily helpless. The UK is uncertain since its beacon ( Washington ) is but blinking dimly? Paris, hindered by its very recent respectable habit of acting only under UN mandate, cannot move, especially alone, although they are sending help to those that asked for it ( Poland and Baltic States. In a nutshell, the Europe of Defence and NATO should have been the key players here but both were undermined for years by the same power that is now so hesitant to act and the rest follows. Sadly, Ukraine is pretty much alone.
http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/03/20/the_small_group_of_countries_supporting_russia_s_position_in_ukraine_venezuela.html

Legal aspects :
This might be the worst of it. Illegal, the change of government in Kiev : try to picture a mob in a major Western country trying to oust the government by protests? Sorry for the lovers of democracy but from Washington to Berlin, the police would have handled it. In Kiev of course the same trouble makers were freedom fighters? Do as I say not as I do? Illegal, the referendum in Crimea : not respecting Ukrainian supervision could be accepted but closed doors governance by force and the presence of unidentified armed men could not. This however was a master move by Putin. Had a single of them been credibly identified as a Russian soldier and the whole comedy would have been revealed. But since the referendum, the point is moot. Crimea “legalized” its status and Ukraine has not?

What is left then? To consider intent? I strongly invite my readers to open the following link :
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26652058
In it, you will find the speech made by Valdimir Putin after the Russian Kremlin voted for the integration of Crimea annotated correctly. I could have done a similar analysis but this one is potent enough and shows that The vision of a strong Russian Bear getting back its prestige at minima and empire ideally is very much in the mind of Putin. Which bring us to consider what has happened since.
A- The Russian troops are still massing themselves at the border with Ukraine as complained about by NATO’s top military commander
http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/23/world/europe/ukraine-crisis/
and the UK has joined France in reinforcing the Eastern part of the Alliance.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/24/cameron-nato-baltics-states-defences-ukraine-crisis

That shows a belated response to the idea exposed in the commented Putin speech above that Transnistria in Moldavia
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/transnistria-the-breakaway-region-of-moldova-could-be-russias-next-target/2014/03/24/c68c50a4-be46-4042-a192-6813e93380bc_story.html
and possibly others could be next, a dangerous dream for Russia for sure but one rendered nearly credible by the absence of potent response by the adversary so far.

B- The naval base of Sevastopol which was shared by the Ukrainian and Russian navies has fallen in the wake of the land and air ones all over Crimea with Russian flags being raised over the emptied ships. This constitutes a clear step-up in the situation. Why? Well, in a case of secession, the local armed forces of a nation are often simply rebuilt by changing the name of the command, a paper transformation only. That makes sense and in that view, the Ukrainian planes present on air bases located within Crimea would thus be considered local arms as are the buildings on a land base. Not so with the ships. The very same geo-strategic importance of Sevastopol for Moscow : a deep water harbor that allows for main battleships, is also why the Ukrainian fleet was mainly based there. But it makes no sense that the ships themselves become Crimean and thus Russian in turn. Factually, if these vessels are not allowed to leave and be returned to Ukraine, this is an act of war, a casus belli.

With that, we enter the main part of our argumentation. There was already something very near to a casus belli in this Ukrainian crisis, more than one you might even say. IF a single of the armed men that patrolled the crimean peninsula since the end of February are Russian soldiers, then the promise made by Moscow in the Budapest agreement to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been broken as we’ve outlined in some of the past Posts linked to above or as you can find explained here :
http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/03/19/the_budapest_memorandum_in_1994_russia_agreed_to_respect_ukraine_s_borders.html
Of course, the breaking of a promise by Vladimir Putin who has many of the characteristics of a thug is no surprise but if we consider the other signatories that are the UK and America, they have not withheld their promises so far either, now have they? Unless you consider the noise made about sanctions of petty caliber enacted so far enough of a response! But let us consider for the sake of arguing further that as Slate points out : this was a legal document and that since nuclear weapons were not involved in the crisis, it remains civilian matter. Then, the mysterious armed men not having been identified, the casus is closed, fine!
The same cannot be said of the ships however. These were National Armed Forces of Ukraine vessels boarded and seized by Russian soldiers ( seamen, same thing ). You could argue that the ships were in Russian territory, since Moscow voted on the 18th. Yes, but in that case, the question is why to which the answer is because the Russain Navy had blockaded the port by sinking an old boat in its entrance. And that was not done by mysterious armed men. The Ukrainian ship were thus unable to leave and their seizing becomes an act of war at which point the case becomes a casus!
If Russia is not a thief of a nation as I surmised its President to be a thug, it will negotiate the return of most of them if not all to their country? ( Some units, a couple, may be found to be part of the Crimean arsenal. )

Alas, that would require a blame and injunction in the UN to ask for the return of the vessels at the very least. It certainly won’t come from the Security Council on account of Moscow’s veto right and there seems to be no one at present ready to play the intermediary or negotiator between Putin and the rest. The General Assembly might vote on the matter which would succeeded considering Russian isolation as of now but we all know that the resulting decision would take centuries to be acted upon if ever.

Good, so let’s state the blunt truth of the present Ukrainian imbroglio as of today Monday March 24th 2014. Ukraine has been cheated in four ways so far : internally by the EuroMaidan events, from the outside by the mysterious armed men, from the outside by Russian aggression on its fleet and internationally by the non-respect of the Budapest Memorandum. What consequences can we envision for the geo-politics of the coming months and years? IF Putin stops there and invades no one else ( the quit while you’re ahead betting rule ), If nothing else inflames the situation whether or not the Ukrainian ships are freed and IF the sanctions wane out over time as is very likely, Crimea remaining Russian and Ukraine finding a political and economical solution to its actual dilemma ( a lot of ifs for now, I agree ), this is what we could conclude and expect.

The Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty is now a worthless piece of toilet paper. Sorry for the ungracious assessment but you need to be shocked right now! The memorandum that protected Ukraine after retrocession of its nuclear arsenal to Russia has just been trampled to death, torn in a zillion pieces, sullied into oblivion. Any nation considering foregoing possession of nukes has just been told that it makes them convenient victims forever and is probably convening with its top scientists as we speak to plan a little for the future and if you think of it, If I was on the Iranian negotiating committee, I’d phone Washington and Paris and the others and simply cancel the next round of talks, thanking them for the lesson of how they don’t hold to their word so that signing treaties make no sense, thank you very much! Heck even Kim Jong-Un must feel vindicated.
http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/03/23/north-korea-steps-up-missile-launches-in-apparent-protest-over-u-s-south-korea-military-drills/
As an aside not so comic relief, do check the following vide from which came the following image :

To Atomic Ashes

To Atomic Ashes

That is, as found in the following link Russian TV boss Dmitry Kiselyov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitry_Konstantinovich_Kiselyov named by Putin in December last announcing that the Russia could turn the USA as reads the caption : To Atomic Ashes!
If the warning itself doesn’t worry you than take solace in the fact that the image is all wrong : that “beautiful” atomic explosion mushroom happened on July 3rd 1970 as the result of a French test in the Mururoa atoll.

Mururoa Bomb Test

Mururoa Bomb Test

So as far as proving the might of the Sovi Russia, its a huge fail and I think Americans can rest assured that France will not turn their country to nuclear ashes, especially to please Putin?

So have nukes or perish is lesson one. There are a couple other major consequences of this affair though. Since the face to face between the West and Tsar-landia is back to full speed, we can consider safely that the recent disinvestment in military spending will be dramatically curbed. Especially if the shift to Asia of the US war machine is enacted further. Supposing that America indeed going to concentrate on China hence means that Europe will have to re-arm itself? The glacis ( or buffer zone ) of the Warsaw pact Eastern European nations having disappeared and the French nukes being theoritically there to protect its own soil and that of Germany only, classic weapons are now necessary for a possible conflagration with Russia. As we saw, France and Britain have decided to supplement Poland and the Baltic states with reinforcements. If these become more permanently necessary, the cuts proposed by the January SDR 2012 and July Livre Blanc 2013 will have to be reviewed. Back to the arms race? What’s more, NATO’s Washington-led answer to Putin’s chess move was so feeble that one may consider it to be a gift by Moscow to European defense. If there ever was a time for the EU to consider strengthening its military means and building up its self-protection, it is now. Face the cold facts if not the new war of the same name and finally take your security in your own hands?

And this consideration opens a lesser consequence limited to America. Aside form nutjobs such as Sarah Palin and even more reasonable but still quite bellicose people like Senator McCain, if the Republican party still has an ounce of political savvy , it should begin the hunt for a strong man with undeniable experience in military matters that they could bring to the forefront. Considering the likelihood of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in 2016 and the dubious aura left of her Secretary of State tenure that was tainted by the Bengazi affair, a candidate that could represent a real Commander in Chief without going overboard with warmongering comments would have a huge chance. Trust the last year and do believe that Russia and china will do their best to give such a presidential hopeful all the chances in the coming 18 months to garner front-runner status? The only question being who might that be?

So there we are my poor readers. Not to be a bearer of bad omen but the auspices in Ukraine speak loud and clear. The UN is useless. The nuclear weapons only prevent nuclear war not smaller traditional ones but not owning them makes you an easy prey. To which the only answer is to have a big pile of guns and fighters along with reliable friends i.e. neither old tired alliances nor far-dwelling mentors. And the bear if not the wolves is growling by the edge of the cold forest.

Which together is more than enough to warrant a Cold War 2.0 and its accompanying arms race.
I think I can hear the sighs at Lockheed-Martin from here! ( And by the way, Ukraine has an excellent plane manufacturer too that makes the biggest transport plane in the world. Their old patents being registered in russia, the future for them will likely be linked to the Western industry. If they manage the turnaround and end up selling more than before to satisfy the new needs of growing arsenals, this could have been Putin’s only but major lack of foresight! Go Antonov! )

Hoping, as often, to be wrong ( as rarely), Tay.

P.S. Thanks to Slate for a week of above the fray articles which prompted my referencing to so many of their links.

This Saturday promised to be on the snow and slow theme. What better time to do your income tax report play Minecraft, right? Yeah well, it so happens that I like dogs. I was soon to discover that the two are barely compatible. I’ve had this great seed ( world or map ) that begins at the end of a continent with a huge canyon complete with dungeon, right where you spawn. I had explored it quite thoroughly in past gameplay all the way to the first desert and village and was about ready to start my farm. Except? Except that I had long wanted a dog! That is when my trouble vegan … huh began.

Before I lose the non-gamers, they should check the following post :
http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2013/02/20/mine-craft-mine-craft-minecraft-the-most-interesting-boring-game-around/

But to explain shortly, Minecraft is a sandbox game where you are born ( spawn ) in a nearly infinite world complete with plains, forests, swamps, deserts and rain forests in which you have to gather resources from food to wood, ore, seeds and so on before as any good settler would, establish yourself on a land to farm, raise, etc. Played for free on your computer in peaceful mode it is very zen but bought and played on-line with friends at the highest difficulty setting, it becomes as my son calls the genre : pure kill-kill.

I was playing in peaceful mostly mind you ( you can shift between modes within any play ) and yet, when I got the stupid idea to get a dog things went South rapidly ( without moving anywhere ). Getting the dog itself wasn’t the problem; the process is simple enough. A- be at minimum in easy mode and get attacked by a ( more likely many ) skeleton. B- Kill the skeleton without dying. C- Get the dropped bone back to one of your chests. D- Repeat!

Once you have at least 6 bones ( for that is the magical number that always works ) go out in the wilderness and find a wolf. Give the bones to the wolf and once you have given it enough, it turns into a dog as evidenced by the red collar that appears around its neck.

Yeah, well, as I said up there I like dogs IRL! SO … do you think that I stopped at one? Of course not, I got three. And went back home. But what does every kid wants, hum, hum? A puppy of course! So that I killed myself a Zombie.

Ah, I’m guessing you to be non-plussed. Zombies drop rotten flesh when killed which makes sense and does not ( rotten flesh is fine but killed zombie is dubious? ). Rotten flesh for a reason that most likely escapes even the dog whisperer makes dogs breed and I, like a fool, fed some to my dogs. They mated and I got a brand new puppy, thank you, mom! At this point, every thing should have been settled for this settler apart for two small details. 1- Minecraft tutorials don’t tell you that rotten flesh works forever and 2- when you’re dad grumbles as he lifts the 50 pound dog food bag ( assuming you don’t own a chihuahua ) in the back of the pick-up, it may include the price tag but he’d really complain if he had to hunt pigs instead? Welcome to kitchen hell ™!

Not clear? When the pair of dogs eats the rotten flesh they dance around like drunken jumping jacks and a puppy ensues. That puppy is fragile and needs to be fed in order to survive. Any raw meat will do so that you grab a chicken or pig or cow breast … ?huh? ,,, chicken breast or pork chop or steak, and feed it. Of, course, if you’re a big artichoke heart as  I am, you also feed the parents. And since you checked Minecraft tutorials first, you know that when a puppy’s ( or adult dog ) tail is lower than its head it means that its life bar isn’t full so that you feed all three until their tails are all the way up which has them spurting hearts all over the place which you mistakenly take to mean that they love you? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t don’t but the hearts actually mean that they’re in lovey-lovey mood? Add a puppy! By the time you pick up that something ain’t right, you’re the Lord of the Dogs.

Oops! Remembered to feed the dogs again!

Oops! Remembered to feed the dogs again!

Since you’re a bit daft, you don’t pick up on that immediately and keep hunting for raw meat until your keyboard is red hot. Two big caveats ensue. One, dogs follow you around as you hunt which depletes their health which has you feeding them until they love you and add a puppy. The dogs pile up and you need to check the tutorial again to learn that right-clicking on them makes them sit & stay and keep their health up while you slaughter wildlife. Two? Wild animals in Minecraft are incredibly moronic!

Not only do they often climb trees which for a long while had me mistake distant rain forests cows for gorillas ( there are in fact no apes in Minecraft ) but in addition their responses to being hunted are pathetic. The average cow or pig and even more so chicken ( that I contend look like ducks ) don’t flee any good. Stick a bullet or an arrow in a pig in real life and you’ll soon see them as specks on the horizon ( stick a knife in a cow and get trampled ). Conversely, strike a  chicken with your mighty sword in Minecraft and their most common response will be to take a step aside, turn around and hide behind their big uncomprehending eyes?

Pig already struck once trying to escape fate by hiding behind its big sad eyes.

Pig already struck once, dead on next blow, trying to escape fate by hiding behind its big sad eyes.

See what I mean? Now, I’ve fished and hunted enough but if the prey neither flees nor fight back, it feels like massacre? You kill to eat and eat to survive, not for fun! At best, pigs do sometimes run towards the sea when it’s near which has you plunging like a South American cliff diver to “rescue” your pork chop ( which is really annoying ). I don’t know about you but I just can’t murder big eyes on a regular basis. Add this to the fact that the character you embody in Minecraft ( which you don’t see which is a good thing as he looks like a desperate puny Mexican, no offense meant to chicanos ) can survive on plant products alone ( apples, melons, pumpkins, wheat, soup and cookies Yum ) and you get the idea that got this Post its title. If earning animal food is easy ( factually ) but uneasy ( morally ) and unnecessary ( unless you want hundreds of dogs ) maybe Minecraft has a really basic vegan fiber ( pun intended )?

Even if that was not voluntary, could you fault a game that teaches proper ecological truth?

Food for thought (pun intended ), Tay.

Spring is upon us … or at least it is for the 88% of the human population that lives North of the equator and more specially for the roughly 60% that live at or above the Tropic of Cancer. Today marks the end of the 3 days of the vernal equinox ( the point at which nights and days are of equal duration ) for 2014. On Wednesday the 19th, in The San Juan Capistrano Mission in California, they celebrate the Return of the Swallows as the American Cliff Swallow arrives from Goya, Argentina after a 10 000 km migration! On Thursday the 20th, this was carried over by the World Sparrow Day.
But the 20th that alternates with today as the equinox day also held the International Francophonie and UN French language days although I fail to see how this relates to Spring; the UN’s International Day of Happiness might be more like it? It was also, please don’t laugh, the International day of Astrology! For the pagans of Germanic origin, It was the day of goddess Ēostre or Ostara /Oz Tara from which the English Easter name comes. Linguists believe that her anme was inherited from H,ewsos / Hausos, a goddess of dawn dating back to the Indian Rig-Vedas. It has always surprised me how modern dreamers will easily fall back two millenia to say Celtic deities all the while forgetting that they could have gone almost as much back again to 1, 700 BC as long as they were at it? Oh well! Fantasy for fantastic beliefs, the 20th was also the new year of the weird cult of Thelema founded by Aleister Crowley. More importantly, at the end of the day ends the Baha’i fasting period under the name Naw-Ruz but marks the begining of the year as Nowruz or Nevruz for the people of Persian descent : Iran of course but also Zoroastrians and Kurds. If this seems of light consequence, do consider that the following newsworthy countries all abide at least partially by the Persian calendar : Iran ( nuclear deal ) , Iraq ( civil war-like ) and Turkey ( Erdogan’s scandal ridden semi-dictatorship ) as well as both Pakistan and India despite their differences. So do Afghanistan ( no comment ) and all of the other -stans ( Turkmen-Taijiki-Kazakh-Kyrgyz and Uzbek ) as well as Azerbaijan? As if that was not enough, the Sufis, Ismailis, Alevis and Alawites brands of Islam do so to so that you can add Syria and many parts of the Caucasus and Russia, including the brand new Crimea one! The Ouigurs/Uyghurs of China also count in so add the most populous place on Earth in the list? Placing the New Year on the first day of Spring certainly makes sense and the Persian calendar has been used for over 3, 000 years so Happy New day of Light / No rooz or Nasavarda all!
And as if to show the new hope is alive indeed, today March 21st is Mother’s Day in most of the Arab Word, Youth day in tunisia, Harmony day in Australia, Human Rights day in South Africa and Elimination of Racial Discrimination day internationally. To these worthy causes, you can ad the following World days : Down Syndrome, Poetry, Forests and heck, Puppetry!

So good for the names and I suppose you can guess the sounds. Apart for the Chunfen festival in Asia which marks the Solar term’s second pentad of Thunder Sounds, in general as seen with the Californian Return of the Sparrows, Spring sees ( pun intended ) the return of specific bird songs. In my neck of the towns, sparrows are indeed back but the particular song that I noticed a few days back was that of the Cardinals. Those beautiful sparkling flying rubies have a tell-tale singing pattern. Both the male repetitive and the female’s more modulated answer are part of the modern North American police sirens.

Cardinal

Now I know that law enforcement officers don’t migrate but cardinals do and their presence is a fave of mine ( the birds of course and not the Saint-Louis baseball team whose return from hibernation also marks Spring with the return of America’s dullest sport ). Besides their song, the game of searching the green foliage for the red splotch is quite relaxing. Of course that will have to wait for the leaves to come back on the yet desolate tree skeletons … but I digress. No matter where you live and which bird is concerned, try for an outing when you wake up if only standing on the veranda/balcony and you’ll be graced with a concert that should get richer as instruments ( new birds ) add themselves to the orchestra over the coming weeks. You could wait for your walk to work ( if you drive, forget it ) to hear them but nothing covers the chirping of sparrows quite as well as a roaring pick-up or speeding SUV not to mention semis and town buses.
As for smells, I’ll conclude quickly. You might have noticed that I left off the plural in my title up there? The reason for this is simple. Although Spring is ideally represented olfactorily by the flowing aromas of thrush and crocuses, tulips and lily, this only holds true in underbush or greenhouses. In town, the smell of Spring is diesel and in the country it is wet soil and manure, both pungent fumes not particularly enjoyable? That is why I forewent the plural … be cause for me Spring marks the transition between the utilitarian biking season and the fun one. Soon, riding will be fully enjoyable again. No more battling the elements on the spartan machine and back to speed, jumps and long rides. For that reason, the next few days will have me toiling happily on overhauls. Covered in grease up to my elbows ( and more often than not on my face too after half an hour ), whistling bike tunes and tearing skins off my knuckles ( and then swearing somewhat ), I’ll prep my best inanimate friend and my son’s as well. That is why I spelled smell in the singular. Because through this upcoming smorgasbord of bike mechanics, after greasing bearings and headsets, lubricating shifters, cable outers and chains, I’ll finish it off by oiling the brakes mechs! That last touch to ensure positive spring returns will mark full readiness to ride into warm sunsets. And accordingly, for me the smell of spring is the true smell of Spring?

92may

Find the above image in this past Post on the great Jo Burt :

http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2013/05/09/a-gift-for-kool-mountain-bikers-and-fans-the-mint-sauce-depository-cartoon-legend-lives/

And great Spring all, Tay.

Copyright - Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

- “Are you sure this is where your dad used to live?

- Yes.

- It’s ugly!

- Well the building is old and not well cared for but it used to be pretty back then.

- I like the metal barrier thing around the elevator though. I can see shapes in it.

- Yeah, it’s called a grille and we all loved it, especially Mrs. Rosencratz until …

 

- Until what, Granpa?

- Until the monsters came. Brutes really but they saw the shapes too. Took them as a sign and took her along that night. She was the nicest old lady.

- Took her where?

- The eternal fog, boy …

redsep

( 101 words / 0 numerals ; title not included? )

The above short story is an entry to a weekly challenge on WordPress called : Friday Fictioneers!

The idea is to write a hundred words short fiction ( flash ) story upon the prompt that is provided by Rochelle under the form of the above picture.

Thanks then to Rochelle whose blog is found here :

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/friday-fictioneers-2/

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/21-march-2014/

and I hope my readers will like it.

Tay.

I lost a friend this morning. A virtual friend that I had just met, mind you but still! Here is how it went. I play a social game on my Facebook. A simple little game about collecting dragons that I specifically enjoy because it does not require me to spend a lot of a time on it. For sure, I’d progress faster if I played assiduously four or six times per day but I don’t have to. Similarly, it does not require all that much socializing. The more friends you have the easier the game gets for sure but how can I say : you don’t have to talk to them every day or even week or answer questionnaires on their family history to get the perks? Nonetheless, they do have to be friends with you on Facebook and that sparked the incomprehension that resulted in my loss.

A few days back, I found a friend request on my FB form a guy named Mohamed. I understood it to be related to that game and accepted. Yesterday morning, Mohamed was on at the same time I was and asked for help with a given game objective. I answered him as well as I could being a little pressed by time since I was due to visit a possible new apartment. This morning, as I made a dragon run, Mohamed was on again. It so happens that just prior to playing I had noticed a book recommendation on my FB page from him. Except that Mohamed being Egyptian, the page it led to was in Arabic. I am reasonably good with languages but apart from Cyrillic, not really versed in alphabets other than latin. So that when I noticed him on, I opened the chat and enquired about the book? To which he answered in Arabic! Undaunted, I used Google translate and found his reference to be something like Arabic for dummies. OK’ earned! I more or less answered sheepishly but still, could you explain the book’s title … because as we all know automatic translation is nowhere the subtlety of a live one by a qualified live person. And I waited. Mohamed did not answer. I pressed on : “The google transl. is either lies of the Islamists or lies about the Islamists or to be left with Islamists or to be friends with them? Which is it and what might I expect to learn by reading it?”

My new friend Mohamed took long enough to answer and that was merely to ask me what my religion was! I tried to explain it succinctly to him by specifying not Islam but not by any means a rigorous view and more philosophically inclined than most. Something like divine philosophy, theology and all that sort of things, certainly not fundamentalism from past experience of being friends with monks, rabbis and mullah. And again a big wait …

The answer was uncertain : _”Yes well but…”I So that I then added that having a blog that often tried to differentiate between Islam the religion, Islamic Fundamentalism and Islamic extremism, the subject was not foreign to me and even of interest. The wait was much longer and I started typing a new message about letting go of the matter since it seemed to trouble the poor Mohamed which was certainly not my intent. Sadly, sending that got me the message : Facebook permissions do not allow this chat to be received. I refreshed my page and lo and behold, Mohamed is now a Facebook User as far as I am concerned i.e. we are no longer friends.

That was likely the shortest if not sweetest friendship I have ever entertained. But it got me to reflect on two things. The simplest of which goes thus : I am a very outgoing person that will readily talk about pretty much anything with pretty much anyone. I understand that this is not the norm and that on average people are a tad more privy than that. And yet, there is a point to be made for expressing oneself at minima! I mean, if someone discuss things that you are uncomfortable with or only with old acquaintances, making you feel trapped or even pried upon, it is your total right to say so and refuse the topic. But you have to say so? The opposite party is not required to guess either. Except possibly for pathologically demure people, the solution only requires stating your unease and asking for the subject to be changed and dropped? If you do not, the fault cannot be entirely “awarded” to the other side.

But that pales in comparison of those that can talk but refuse to. Having reviewed this morning’s exchange and asked real ( Real Life ) friends for advice, I came to the conclusion that most likely, the good Mohamed was on the strict side of Islam, maybe not al-Qaeda  but probably Hizb ut-Tahrir, probably more than just Ummah. I admittedly I’m much more republican than that but I could still have discussed it. Heck, I have upheld China when its communist rule did not left it bereft of making sense. I gave thumbs up to many Islamic nations, Qatar or Iran when they were in their right and often defended Pakistan against the simplistic views in which many Westerners hold it! I yearn for democratic rule and equality of the sexes or races but I make allowances for those that believe otherwise.In fact, part of my heritage by way of the Age of Enlightenment, requires me to value the exchange first and foremost. Letting the other express its point of view is the best way to keep the opposition civilized. Voltaire saying that he’d defend to the death the right of those he disagreed with to explain their ideas is a basis of freedom of expression.

Refusing to debate in reverse is a proof of feebleness of opinion at best, of mind at worst.

You can disagree with someone no matter how strongly but if you cannot explain yourself you’ve already loss, in absentia logicum if you will? I have many friends and acquaintances with whom I differ a lot in preferences. I sincerely believe that exchanging with them enriches my thought process. Sometimes, they’ll provide for better ways to expound on my views and further, they can even bring me to renounce incorrect positions of mine. Besides I span wide and rake large on my own so that I will vary from left to right depending on the subject and end up teaming here with one that I faced there? In short, we can learn  from each other as long as honesty is paramount whereas sectarianism leads to isolation. Sharing is a major virtue of the Quran, isn’t it? Why would opinions be exempt of that rule?

Or to leave behind religious beliefs, in the words of Antisthenes : One must esteem a good man more than a parent. I cannot vouch for myself that I am a good man but I am ready to try yet so that if you ever find it in you to renew the dialogue, Mohamed, ready to explain what I may not accept and hear what you may not believe without spite or hatred, you have my Facebook. I’ll pick you and the discussion up without hesitation and help you breed those Legendary dragons too,

sincerely, Tay.

P.S. And a warm hello to my other dragon raising friends from gentle Debbie to funny Doug, Ravi, Russell & Raqiz, Nilsu, Stephanie the magic drawing artist & Avery Franck, De’Andre, little Teoh, the infinitely charming pretty Betty and all the rest! 8-)

Two news surfaced today that I had covered a long time ago in October and November 2012. By a strange coincidence, both came out of France.

In the first, I used the murderous rampage of Mohamed Merah that occurred in March 2012 to write a Post on the futility of racism and other discriminations using the similarities between the shooter and one of his victims, French paratrooper Mohamed Legouad. Today March 19 is the sad anniversary of the last killings of Mehra at the entrance of the Toulouse Jewish school Otzar Hatorah. Mehra, having sworn not to be taken alive, was  killed 3 days later ( 22nd ) by a RAID ( police special unit ) sharpshooter as he tried to evade the assault on his apartment by jumping off the balcony. A year later, the post in question is still worth reading, I believe :

http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2012/10/25/one-rosenberg-two-rosenbergs-and-then-two-mohameds/

The second Post appeared two weeks later and concerned the ridiculous plight of Jérome Kerviel. He was a trader with the Société Générale that in early 2008 lost 4.9B Euros ( 7B$ ). This incredible amount was the result of the investment bank closing all transactions of his. You should read the post to understand the ridicule :

http://definitivelapseofreason.com/2012/11/11/jerome-kerviel-or-hey-buddy-where-are-my-6-3-billion-bucks/

In essence, the Société Générale argues that Kerviel had made fictitious trades in equity derivatives arbitrage and that these grew from small amounts in late 2006 to the incredible sum above by January 2008. Jérome defended himself by showing that he had not personally profited from the deals which the investigation with which he fully cooperated backed. Nonetheless, the bank filed a lawsuit against him for the full amount and penalties. The French State however rejected the charge of attempted fraud and indicted Kerviel on abuse of confidence and illegal access to computers still worth 3 years in jail. In essence, this shows that the judges do not believe the trader to have acted “against” the company? My personal opinion being simply that there is no way the bank could have let so much trade go on without approval and knowledge of the facts, barring which you should not invest your money in a firm that knows not what its employees are really doing with your cash?

The initial trial found Kerviel guilty and sentenced him to 5 years in prison of which 2 suspended, a ban from ever practicing in financial services again and … full restitution of 6.7 Billion bucks!

An appellate court in October 2012 upheld the conviction and Kerviel at the time of my post up there was appealing to the High Court. The verdict fell today : the prison term is still valid but the money will not have to be repaid? Jérome Kerviel learned the news on the road between Rome where he met Pope Francis and Paris to where he is walking back as a pilgrimage against the tyranny of the markets.

AFP image from the BBC            Click for link

AFP image from the BBC
Click for link

or link with video below :

http://www.euronews.com/2014/03/19/no-longer-one-of-the-most-debt-ridden-men-in-the-world-but-jail-still-likely-/

What’s next? For Kerviel, it will be jail but for the bank, there will be a civil case brought about to fix an amount to be obtained and paid back. This raises many smaller points. The trader’s lawyer sees an opportunity as the bank’s responsibility was considered by the High Court as engaged which is why the “fine” was dropped. In all logic, there should now be a case opened on their doings? Another interesting thing is that the investments made by Kerviel were actually much bigger than the loss. 6-7B$ was what it ended up costing but the volume of trade on which this amount was lost is evaluated at 38B Euros or +- 50B$? What do you think, dear reader? Do you find it reasonable that a financial organization would let a junior trader paid less than 200 000$ with bonus manage 50B$ without any kind of supervision? If it really happened that way, don’t you think that they should be sued for malpractice as a doctor would for a botched operation?

Said another way, if Jérome Kerviel goes to prison for 3 years and no one else is held responsible won’t it be another case of the permanent difference in treatment and Justice between the small man, the citizen and the corporations or the government. Steal a chicken then lie about it and go to jail. Steal a billion and lie always and go from CEO to running for office?

Just wondering … Tay.

Today, President Barack Obama presented Medals of Honor to the latest contingent of recipients. The last time it happened was on February the eleventh and recognized the heroic work of Clinton Romesha, a Staff-Sergeant that led the defense of Outpost Keating in Nuristan Afghanistan. Attacked by 300 enemies, the soldiers of the 3-61 Cavalry unit lost 8 men and counted 22 wounded before repealing the assault. More then 100 hundred enemies lost their lives which define the men in that outpost as heroes since the traditional definition of the world since the Ancient Greeks is to cost 10 to 1 to your opponent. As the inspiring leader of that resistance piece, SS Romesha is certainly worthy of the honor. The last 3 other US live servicemen to have received it also fought in Afghanistan or Iraq.

http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/11/epic-combat-valor-soldier-to-receive-medal-of-honor/

Why then would the American President be handing out more Medals of Honor, the highest distinction of that nation barely over a month later? And more to the point, why 24 of them at once? The answer to that is discrimination! As many or more likely most nations at least at some point in their history, the US has had racial problems. And all through the years, piecemeal corrections were made to veterans that had received lesser honors than they were due because of their race. So that in 1993, a US Army review was conducted to find if errors of the sort remained. It led to 7 Black servicemen receiving the Medal. Another such 5 years later had 22 medals pinned to the chest of Asian Americans. Both brought results but recommended that a deeper search be made. In 2002, the Congress, which is the body that designates the soldiers, launched a review of Jewish and Hispanic Americans whom might have been victims of discrimination. The review found others not belonging to either group to be in the same case and Congress amended the Act authorizing the Review to include them. As a result, 24 men received it today, 3 of them still alive.

Of the dead, 7 fought in WWII; 9 in the Korean War and 5 in Vietnam. The 3 that were present to get their Medal of Honor in person all fought in the last. Specialist 4 Santiago J. Erevia served with the 100st Airborne Division while Staff-Sergeant Melvin Morris and Sergeant First Class Jose Rodela were part of the 1st Special Forces. For those who know military history, those unit names are famous enough. These 3 survivors thus represent the rest of those vindicated today. By a strange coincidence, the last living Medal of honor from D-Day, when the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy to begin the liberation of europe, SS Walter Ehlers died on February 21st, between the aforementioned ceremonies.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/21/last-living-medal-honor-recipient-d-day-dies/

Rodela/Morris/Erevia

Rodela/Morris/Erevia

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/18/politics/medal-of-honor-vets/

All 24 stories found here :
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/03/18/291120789/here-are-the-24-heroic-stories-behind-todays-medals-of-honor

Most readers likely understand the importance of correcting discriminatory errors. Maybe they don’t understand how this affects the honorees. There are many relatively unimportant side benefits such as special license plates, invitations to presidential inaugurations and balls or reductions on air travel. There are some however that are not so trivial. There is a specific pension that comes with it for instance ( 1, 250 $ per month approx. ). Interment at Arlington National Cemetery is another. Even more important is the admission at US Military Academies for their children. And last is the tradition that the recipients are saluted by all members of the armed services when wearing the distinction regardless of rank.

The pension makes sense in civil society but the other 3 are of great value too. Until humanity has learned to live in peace, a nation needs an army. Sure, even servicemen would rather see their country at peace but when the necessity becomes pressing, the cost cannot be spared. To maintain spirit in a military, tradition comes close to first. The endless rows of tombs of veterans at Arlington remind the visitors of the immense price that has to be paid over centuries for liberty. As a young one goes through his or her cadet classes to become an officer and lead men, sharing a room with the living descendant of a hero makes the purpose come alive, embodies the historical linearity of those that went to war so that the rest could enjoy the fruits of freedom. Similarly, saluting a worthy man is not an obligation but a pride for those that know the price.

This blogger visited Arlington. It’s like standing in history. This blogger had a dad that earned medals by serving in a war. This blogger also remembers a sunny winter day at the academy when  with friends on their way to the firing range we crossed path with 8 young War College Captains. Their berets ( Green, red, light blue ) and insignias told a story from paratroopers to a unit respected worldwide for its pugnacity of unequaled valor. We did not salute them merely because we had to but with beaming pride. Those future generals were an example to follow.

The idea here goes thus : had these men received their merited Medals of Honor at the right time, numerous young soldiers in the following years would have had a chance to feel the same thing, to be inspired. Out of these, Black, Hispanic and Jewish enlisted men would have been especially comforted in their choice of serving their country. For that reason, it is a particular shame that prejudice was applied to those 24 men. And a particular merit of America to have corrected that wrong at last.

Here is to hoping that all other nations recognize the sacrifice of their heroes regardless of race or creed or sex or whatever. The military is yet an essential part of a State and should not be immune to the ideals of Justice and fairness the Nation carries. In fact, from the Roman Legions to the French Legionnaires, serving has been a classic way of earning citizenship. And despite what post-modern kids think on average, nationalism need not be the problem. Learning to love all of your country is a valid way to learn to become part of a larger group ( than say family and friends ). Respecting the other ( including the enemy which proper soldiers are taught to do if only for survival reasons ) extends that to other lands. So that in the long run, respect of valor and tradition when applied without prejudice actually leads to more acceptance worldwide?

I understand that this line of thought might not be familiar and yet … I vouch for the logic of it. Any reason to respect another is a premise to accepting them. And acceptance through habit can lead to less hatred. And less hatred is the first step to more love?

In any case, regardless of rank and nationality, for the symbol of both the Medal and the injury finally made right, I salute you with pride Melvin, Jose and Santiago as I do the families of those that waited too long. And in turn, I offer my respect to all those that were victims of discrimination everywhere ( in and out of the military ). And to all that served their nation sincerely whichever that may be, I salute your service. We were not brothers in arms but cousins. May the lessons we learned expand enough that one day we may be brothers in peace!

Tay.

http://valor.defense.gov/Recipients/ArmyMedalofHonorRecipients.aspx

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