France’s Cult of Fearlessness – The New York Times

I’m saddened, if not surprised, to hear that Parisians are starting to feel afraid of daily life after the terror attacks. I recognise those bargaining symptoms myself, though. It’s strange how everyone deals so differently and independently with fear. I think I could feel quite safe wandering around Paris right now, though I wouldn’t be able to force myself on a plane to get there.  In the wake of the attack, it was astounding to watch some on my Facebook feed morph quickly into the ‘grab your kids, head for the shelter, and push the button’ mentality. Fewer seemed to adopt what I think of as the Paris philosophy – keep living, and keep loving. It’s all we can do.

SINCE the attacks two weeks ago, I’ve been avoiding supermarkets — which seem like potential targets — and doing most of my shopping at a minimarket. The cashier there, a young man from Mali, keeps telling me not to be afraid.

“They’re not going to make me change my life,” he said of the attackers. “I’ll go wherever I want.”

I’ve been getting this lecture all the time. “You cannot be afraid, Madame,” said the lady who runs one of my daughter’s extracurricular activities, when we didn’t show up soon after the attacks.

In Paris these days, it’s not chic to admit that you’re terrified. Almost immediately after the shootings, signs and hashtags appeared saying “même pas peur” — a kind of playground chant meaning “you don’t scare me.”

Source: France’s Cult of Fearlessness – The New York Times

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Eagles of Death Metal Detail Horrific Paris Attack

I’ve been having a hard time in the wake of the Paris attacks.  I’m glad, though, to see the city rebounding in exactly the way I would expect it to (which is one of the reasons I love it). One of the band members in the Bataclan has the same mindset:

Hughes said the band will eventually finish the tour and is looking forward to returning to Paris. “I cannot wait to get back to Paris. I want to play,” said the singer. “I want to be the first band to play in the Bataclan when it opens back up. Our friends went there to see rock and roll and died. I want to go back and live.”

“It’s going to take a long time for anyone to know what to do,” Homme added. “There is no why for this?”

Source: Eagles of Death Metal Detail Horrific Paris Attack, Offer Support | Rolling Stone

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Paris: You Don’t Want to Read This

I’m still reeling from the terror attacks on my favourite city the other night. It’s been tough reading old friends and neighbours baying for blood and falling right into the trap ISIS set for them. I wish more people recognised what this writer does. It might help us deal with the threat more clear-headedly.

But I do have this: stop what we have been doing for the last 14 years. It has not worked. There is nothing at all to suggest it ever will work. Whack-a-mole is a game, not a plan. Leave the Middle East alone. Stop creating more failed states. Stop throwing away our freedoms at home on falsehoods. Stop disenfranchising the Muslims who live with us. Understand the war, such as it is, is against a set of ideas — religious, anti-western, anti-imperialist — and you cannot bomb an idea. Putting western soldiers on the ground in the MidEast and western planes overhead fans the flames. Vengeance does not and cannot extinguish an idea.

Source: Paris: You Don’t Want to Read This | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

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Election by the stats

This is an interesting look at last night’s Canadian election from a statistical point of view, discussing polls, votes per seat, and riding vs national votes.

The Liberals’ also had unexpected vote efficiency. They had the momentum, but the party did not seem to have the electoral map to give them 170 seats. In 2011, the party earned 82,000 votes for each of their 34 MPs, whereas the Conservatives needed about 35,000 votes per seat. In 2015, the Liberals were the vote efficiency victors, needing under 38,000 votes per seat. The Conservative requirement ballooned to 57,000 votes per seat, far higher than it has been in any election since before 2004. The Liberal vote got out where it needed to. 

Source: Momentum carries Liberals past majority threshold – Politics – CBC News

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“The Lost Museum”

I was lucky enough to happen upon this exhibition in Berlin last month. As a Caravaggio fan, I mourned the 3 works destroyed in a 1945 fire, and never expected to see them face to face.  In truth, I still haven’t, but black and white replicas in the original dimensions helped me get a sense of what I might have seen.  Those Nazis have so much to answer for.

The exhibition’s focus is on the fate of the 400 works lost by the painting and sculpture collections once housed in this building. Given all we know about the millions of lives lost and the amount of property destroyed thanks to the actions of a regime headquartered in Berlin, such numbers of artworks might seem infinitesimal, and beside the point. This could have been a self-pitying display. Instead, it’s a candid exposition of museum issues regarding art loss, recovery and reconstitution, described in the dual-language (German/English) wall texts as “a polyphonic reflection: curators, conservators, archivists, historians, moulders and artists . . . offer a variety of perspectives and even contradictions.” The exhibition can also be understood in the context of the recent trend in museums to encourage multiple voices and perspectives. The visitor may enter with a fixed view of how to think about seven decades following the war’s end, but the museum asserts that “this legacy [of missing art] has meant something different for each generation. Every approach reflects the prevailing political zeitgeist and thus the decision to favor one version of the past over another.”

via .

The Lost Museum

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Jerôme Gulon

Just figured out the name of one of my favourite Paris graffiti artists.  Jerome Gulon works in multimedia mosaics and pen drawings. Exciting to think I can now search for his stuff and keep up with his work.

Jerôme Gulon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Jerôme Gulon | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

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Jeremy Corbyn

It’s strange hearing Jeremy Corbyn being ridiculed and berated by both opponents and his party alike. No one can conceive of the fact that Old Labour supporters can’t stand New Labour, and that younger people actually do want a distinct opposition to the Tories. I’d vote for him.

To imagine that Labour could overcome such odds by becoming bland, blurred and craven is to succumb to thinking that is simultaneously magical and despairing. Such dreamers argue that Labour has to recapture the middle ground. But there is no such place; no fixed political geography. The middle ground is a magic mountain that retreats as you approach. The more you chase it from the left, the further to the right it moves.

via Jeremy Corbyn is the curator of the future. His rivals are chasing an impossible dream | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian.

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The Closing of the Canadian Mind

The NY Times details clearly and directly why the Harper government has been a curse on Canada. Get him gone.

The early polls show Mr. Harper trailing, but he’s beaten bad polls before. He has been prime minister for nearly a decade for a reason: He promised a steady and quiet life, undisturbed by painful facts. The Harper years have not been terrible; they’ve just been bland and purposeless. Mr. Harper represents the politics of willful ignorance.

via The Closing of the Canadian Mind – The New York Times.

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Roman Mars on city flags

I used to love TED Talks, and would watch each one religiously as it was posted. With the spread of TedX, though, and regional conferences posting every one of their speakers’ talks, the quality has diminished to the point where I don’t bother clicking, because I don’t want to spend 5 minutes determining if this is a future classic or a total waste of time.

This talk by Roman Mars, though, is definitely the former. Engagingly presented (I want his podcast as a video!), funny and informative. Infotainment is a pejorative term but it should be applied without implied snark here. 18 minutes that fly by and are worthy of a rewatch.

Roman Mars: Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you've never noticed | TED Talk |

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Stephen Colbert at Google

Stephen Colbert does a book tour stop at Google.  He’s interviewed by Google exec Eric Schmidt, who is very clearly a capable and talented man, as there’s obviously no way he attained his position based on charm or personal appeal.

Stephen Colbert, “America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t” | Talks at Google – YouTube.

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