20090928

dragedies

My "dragédies" are now available on Amazon.com*.

What is a "dragedy" ?

You may have heard about "dragees", sweets you offer to somehow exorcise festive events - generally a wedding or a birth... dragedies basically and nonsensically announce death, which means they can be sweet and sour, sad and funny (my definition of humor being the ability to accept death in general and one's weaknesses in particular, in order to make life in general more acceptable, and one's existence in particular more bearable to others).

This excuse for a book proposes a handful of dragedies, and some definitions, along with a few Seoul crumbs which somehow fell into my lap or lens.

Worms in the city, books in the sky, trouble in the company... these 17 dragédies stretch over three decades and three continents :


- La mer amarrée
- de Vermis Seoulis
- Le Dévisseur
- Le regard d'un ami
- Brouillon
- La Bibliothèque de Babel II
- Neige Sale
- Paranoïa
- Etat de Grâce
- Nouvelles du front
- Le Salon de Lecture
- La Malédiction
- Comin'up next
- Si Paris m'était comptée
- Le blues de la grille
- Rendez-vous Rue Van Boo
- L'Année du Chien


Yup. That's in French. Or kindo. So luckily, it won't be as poorly written as my blogules.

And oh. That's fiction. I mean both the book and this last wishful comment.

Stephane 2009


* "dragédies (la mer amarrée et autres dragédies)" - ISBN:978-1449510916 - website :
dragedies.com - Facebook group. Soccer nerds can still order my other book (also in French), "La Ligue des Oubliés, l'autre histoire du football" : "The League of the Forgotten / The Other History of Football" tells the tales of unlucky soccer players, personalities or events - they didn't even have the chance to exist.


see this post in French

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ADDENDUM - FAQ ATTN NON-SPEAKING READERS

Q: What if I can't read French ?
A: No problemo : I can't WRITE in French. Besides, there are a few pictures in this excuse for a book.

Q: What on Earth is a dragedy ?
A: dragedy (noun, fem. - pl. dragedies) : bittersweet candy and preemptive death notice. Etym. dragée (tiny, hard confectionery) and "tragédie" (tragedy, or death's foreplay). i.e. "'If I read 'dragedies' ? I almost choked on them !"

Q: Why not "short stories" ?
A: First, I'm not much of a story teller. And to me, it sounds the same as if a painter exhibited his works under the title "40 x 60 in. frames".

Q: Why add a glossary ?
A: I felt the need to put down my vision on such essential concepts as "life", "death", "love", "footballer"...

Q: Why this pen name ?
A: It's not a pen name. MOT (noun, masc.) : French word for "word". 1 - significant unit. 2 - insignificant author.


20090916

Israel accepted as true the choice between its security and its ideals

Ahead of a September 29 presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Nations' Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict released its key conclusions.

Unsurprisingly, both Hamas and Israel have been proven guilty of war crimes in a report covering 36 "incidents".

Between December 2008 and January 2009 or, as I pointed out (see "
A Christmas Gift for Fundamentalists ?"), during the no-top-man's land between Obama's election and his formal inauguration, 13 Israeli and more than 1,400 Palestinians died.

Against Palestinian terrorists, the reports pointed out indiscriminate bombings, but found no evidence of "human shields", bringing even more pressure on Tel Aviv hawks who get most of the blame : disproportionate actions, collective punishment, use of illegal weapons (white phosphorus shells)...

Worse : this is the consequence of wrongdoings by a few rogue soldiers, but "the result of deliberate guidance issued to soldiers", or as Richard Goldstone put it, "policies". I suggested another word for that in "
Israel openly embraces fascism". The report went as far as mentioning "crimes against humanity".

The mission wants the United Nations Security Council to investigate further and to consider bringing charges to the International Criminal Court. If the US don't put a veto on it, it may fly, but up to a certain point : the ICC's jurisdiction is not accepted by Israel.

Israeli hawks denounce an unfair and biased mission and as a matter of fact, Christine Chinkin, a member of the commission, accused Israel of war crimes in an op-ed published last January.

But blaming the thermometer doesn't cure the flu.

And even after the embarrassing revelations on a prominent Israeli human rights activist*, Israeli moderates are more than ever
welcome to speak up and loud against their unruly rulers.


blogules 2009


* Human Rights Watch's Marc Garlasco happens to collect Nazi memorabilia !

20090911

They did it

I just tuned in to my news provider and I'm reading the 6th title or so when a new line appears higher on my computer screen.

They did it

I don't remember the exact title (probably "a plane hits a WTC tower in NYC"), but as soon as I read it I think "this time they did it".

As I click on the link, two images cross my mind : the 1993 attack on the WTC, the failed 1994 attempt to crash an hijacked plane on the Eiffel Tower.

The web is very slow, giving me time to shape images of the tragedy in my mind. From the ground, without looking up. I imagine the first devastated floors of a building, mixing snapshots from previous attacks (Oklahoma City, US embassies) with my memory of the Word Trade Center, with a more claustrophobic feeling, and darkness (more fire, denser surroundings)... Death, but without any human being, dead or alive, in the picture.

The first actual image I get is distant : black smoke rising over lower Manhattan. No details given in the short article, beyond the shock and awe. Similar results on other sites.

I'm not shocked. I'm not awed. Not even surprised. But at the same time sad and angry, empty and very tense, willing to interact with a human being. I spring out of my office and tell colleagues about the attack. I send a few mails, even joking in one (isn't humor all about coping with death ?).

All this takes less than 10 minutes : I have to keep going for a busy day in a busy office tower. And I've got this stupidly important presentation to perform later this afternoon.

A quick peek at news websites every now and then to keep up to date - but the cold brain is still running the show, speculating, and preventing the heart from taking over.

The said "important" meeting will be interrupted by an alert : the tower must be evacuated (we're in France's only high rise area). Masks off.

On the way back home, the cold brain is playing a new movie and this time it features actors. And it's not a silent movie.

I won't see the images of the collapse until I'm back home. Alone in front of a screen much bigger than reality in my memory. That evening, I don't know how many times I zapped to watch again and again the collapse. Like a titanic stake driven into a best friend's heart, pulling the shirt and streets around in a silent scream.

But revulsion and anger peaked later,
when the man supposed to fix things uttered the word "crusade".

20090910

We didn't come here to fear the future. We came here to shape it

"We didn't come here to fear the future. We came here to shape it".

That's a good definition of what politics should be all about, and a perfect punchline for a speech on reforms.

So forget about "fear politics" and embrace "shape politics". Fitter, smarter, trendier, evolutive, creative... what else is in a word ?

Images, maybe. The shape of John McCain's nervous rictus as he was reminded how much he shared with his friend Ted Kennedy on health care. The shape of Nancy Pelosi's nervous smile as she tried to stand up at the right moments to get a few claps from the public option loving liberal part of the audience.

And the audience was tense, alright. The man in charge was telling them : It's not about me, Barack Hussein Obama, it's about you. I can run the country, but YOU can't hide. I'm doing my job, just do yours.

And oh. I'm keeping my eye on the ball : "
we reject as false the choice between our social security and our ideals"


blogules 2009

20090909

Al Franken is not Dan Quayle

You know change has come when the President Of The United States can visit a school and the kids say afterwards "this guy's smarter than me".

Al Franken is by no means POTUS, and learning how to draw a map of one's country is not too demanding a trick*, but this sure beats GWB listening to My Pet Goat or Dan Quayle spelling potato :



* he's performed it before, but videos were shakier

20090905

Republican Appointed Judges : John Ashcroft "repugnant to the Constitution"

Message to Mrs BUSH, CHENEY, ROVE, RUMSFELD, GONZALES, ADDINGTON, YOO... : Justice is coming, and even Republican appointed judges are eager to set the record straight.

I didn't forget John Ashcroft in the list : the "soaring Eagle" was the main target yesterday. And according to US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, former Attorney General is not only not protected by immunity and thus prosecutable (by Abdullah Kidd or any other victim), but very much likely to be sued since what happened under his watch as chief Destructor Of Justice was "repugnant to the Constitution, and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history" :

We are confident that, in light of the experience of the American colonists with the abuses of the British Crown, the Framers of our Constitution would have disapproved of the arrest, detention, and harsh confinement of a United States citizen as a “material witness” under the circumstances, and for the immediate purpose alleged, in al-Kidd’s complaint.
Sadly, however, even now, more than 217 years after the ratification of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, some confidently assert that the government has the power to arrest and detain or restrict American citizens for months on end, in
sometimes primitive conditions, not because there is evidence that they have committed a crime, but merely because the government wishes to investigate them for possible wrongdoing, or to prevent them from having contact with others in the
outside world. We find this to be repugnant to the Constitution, and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history.
(AL-KIDD v. ASHCROFT / "
ABDULLAH AL-KIDD, Plaintiff-Appellee vs JOHN ASHCROFT, Defendant-Appellant" - ca9.uscourts.gov 20090904)*
This document also tells us about the debate and dissents within the court (see "gotcha!"), but on the Judicial Richter's Scale, this is not exactly what I would call "word mincing".

Even Eric Holder and Barack Obama were less direct. They are politicians, but they don't have to speak for Justice. Here, Justice spoke, and rather loudly : this is not the crime of the century but a crime unseen for at least two centuries !

Aggravating circumstances : the crime was perpetrated by the very people in charge of promoting justice ! "It is only the misuse of the statute, resulting in the detention of a person without probable cause for purposes of criminal investigation, that is repugnant to the Fourth Amendment."

Actually, torture, Abu Ghraib, illegal abductions, and all other terrible abuses are nothing compared to this ultimate "misuse" / abuse of power.

This abuse of power has a name : TYRANNY. And the judges dared pronounce the word clear and lound : "the Fourth Amendment was written and ratified, in part, to deny the government of our then-new nation such an engine of potential tyranny.".**

I'm glad that these self evidences are eventually out in the open.

Coming from "not-GOP-unfriendly" judges, that's even greater news for democracy in the US.

Behold ! Change is coming !


* See also "Ashcroft can be sued over arrests, appeals court rules" (LA Times 20090905)

Memo : Al-Kidd v. Ashcrof claims :
"Al-Kidd asserts three independent claims against Ashcroft:
- First, he alleges that Ashcroft is responsible for a policy or practice under which the FBI and the DOJ sought material witness orders without sufficient evidence that the witness’s testimony was material to another proceeding, or that it was
impracticable to secure the witness’s testimony—in other words, in violation of the express terms of § 3144 itself—and that al-Kidd was arrested as a result of this policy (the § 3144 Claim).
- Second, al-Kidd alleges that Ashcroft designed and implemented a policy under which the FBI and DOJ would arrest individuals who may have met the facial statutory
requirements of § 3144, but with the ulterior and allegedly unconstitutional purpose of investigating or preemptively detaining them, in violation of the Fourth Amendment (the Fourth Amendment Claim).
- Finally, al-Kidd alleges that Ashcroft designed and implemented policies, or was aware of policies and practices that he failed to correct, under which material witnesses were subjected to unreasonably punitive conditions of confinement, in violation of the Fifth Amendment (the Conditions of Confinement Claim).
Ashcroft argues that he is entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity as to the § 3144 and Fourth Amendment Claims. He concedes that no absolute immunity attaches with respect to the Conditions of Confinement Claim. He also argues that he is entitled to qualified immunity from liability for all three claims.
The complaint also quotes the public statements of a number of DOJ and White House officials implying or stating outright that suspects were being held under material witness warrants as an alternative means of investigative arrest or preventative
detention. In addition to this direct evidence, the complaint cites a number of press reports describing the detention of numerous Muslim individuals under material witness warrants.
The complaint further alleges that the policies designed and promulgated by Ashcroft have caused individuals to be “impermissibly arrested and detained as material witnesses even though there was no reason to believe it would have been impracticable to secure their testimony voluntarily or by subpoena,” in violation of the terms of § 3144."


** maybe as a compensation for their mention of "abuses of the British Crown", the judges summoned Sir William Blackstone, a British jurist who died in 1780 (between the US Independence and the US Constitution) : "To bereave a man of life, or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole kingdom. But confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to gaol, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten; is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government."

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