24 November 2007

Why I Love Australia

Came across this ugly website today:


Are these people for real????
'the preservation of Western culture'???

Here's a riddle:

What exactly is Western culture and what does it mean to preserve it?

Perhaps they mean: a culture that is more civilised and more peaceful. Or, a culture that has the ability to rightfully dictate to other non-Western cultures how to live and how to organise their governments...just not the other way around. Or, the ability to justifiably attack any random nation in the name of democracy as we define it.

Maybe that sort of Western culture?

Sorry but this really gets to me.

According to psychologists, what we call "Western culture" is one where individuals follow an independent pathway and value self-esteem, assertion and self-achievement. In this culture, mirror recognition arises earlier in childhood (15-18 months) because the self stands out and individuals are tought to assert themselves and communicate face to face.

Conversely, many non-Western cultures would tend to follow an interdependent pathway, which places a high value on one's relationships with other members of the community, one's honesty, reliability and filial piety. Mirror recognition comes later in childhood because socialisation, rather than the self, is more important.

Based on this, I fail to see what exactly this website is about and what aspect of Western culture they are trying to preserve.

In fact, it seems to be more of an arena where bloggers can express their fears and propagate their prejudices.

This is one of their racist articles. Gotta love the non-journalistic approach.
I think this guy should recruit for the next Crusades:


It's ironic given that from what I have read, Sweden is a relatively racist country where immigrants are ostracised in many ways.

There is solid psychological evidence that when people are ostracised from a community they behave more aggressively. Even in a group game to simulate isolation, people who are isolated will report feeling more aggressive. But this article is inferring that immigrants, being mostly Muslim, are inherently violent people.

When I read this filth, I love Australia.

19 November 2007

Belated Postcards - Corsica

Corsica lures the traveller with its beautiful clean beaches, celebrity mansions (or yachts!), panoramic limestone landscapes, tales of bandits hiding in the treacherous maquis, of wailing women in black... and the soulful, haunting sounds of traditional polyphonies. Corsica fascinates the romantics with its menacing family vandettas and its famous Corsican knife, perfect for a stab in the heart, hence the island's name of "cor" (heart) "sica" (cut).
But I'm sure you can read all about this on Wikipedia.
Or you can read Mérimée's tragic "Colomba".

Corsica is practically run by the Mafia. Just kidding.
Honestly, based on my experience, Italy and Corsica have much in common.
In addition, this island certainly relies greatly on tourism for its income and the transport infrastructure doesn't leave much to be desired. We took a total of 3 1/2 hours to travel by bus from Ajaccio to Bonifacio, travelling through capricious, mountainous scenery and spiralling dangerously close to the edges of cliffs on the one-lane road. I was fine but Jason suffered from motion sickness. I've never seen him so fragile! He looked as though he was going to swoon in my arms in a sigh.

I loved the food in Corsica.
Yes, you can still gorge on the standard 'French' treats, like those we bought from a street vendor in Ajaccio: gauffre à la crème de marrons (my very very favourite) served with laddles of chantilly (even better!!) and Nutella filled crepes. If you insist on all things French, you can order Salade Niçoise and all that standard mainland fare. Nothing new. But then there's some lovely Corsican treats like the broccio cheese, made from goat's milk. Incidentally, I had some tangy, broccio filled cannellonis once. But overall, Corsica, like Kensai in Japan, is chestnut paradise. And I LOOOVE chestnuts.

You can also find some great paninis in Sartène. For example, they have this monster of a sandwhich called the "American panini". It's basically a 30cm toasted panini with pan fried chicken, melted cheese and a sinful mustard/ketchup sauce. Jason discovered this treasure in the market square but I forgot what the actual place was called... Anyway, we sat there, in Sartène's market square, watching as the entire village congregated, watching as the older generation waddled about in their doomsday clothing and whispered in each others' ears, watching, as the Sartène locals socialised and gave meaning to an otherwise lifeless old village.

Surrounded by this depressive gloom, we, the tourists, munched on a very 'American' panini. If only Dali had been there to capture that on his canvas.

Nothing is chirpy in the very Corsican Sartène. Our lovely hotel was perched on a hill overlooking the maquis and its garden gave way to a splendid Corsican cemetary. I must say this. To me, it felt as though the cemetary was the heart of town and that it was anticipating... something. That's how it feels to be in that village, but it's truly memorable. A very Colomba experience...

Another dark presage...during a long walk from Sartene to Propriano, we saw a large writhing snake skirting a stone wall not far from the only service station en route.

The walk to the relaxed Propriano beach took over 3 hours under a ruthless sun. But the clean, quiet beach and its breezy lane of ice cream and crepe shops was a refreshing delight. If I remember clearly we were also stalked by a happy dog all along the beach.

The taxi back from Propriano to Sartène was VERY expensive.

The Mafia runs Corsica remember...

Now on to Bonifacio...

Bonifacio is a blur. I honestly don't remember much of it except for the awe inspiring beauty. After all, Corsica is also known as l'Île de Beauté.

By the way all these photos were taken in May 2002. You'll have to excuse the poor quality! I have taken great pains to scan each film negative. What can I say, I belong to that truly unique generation who ditched analog for digital only to find themselves sadly contemplating a lifelong album collection of imperfect photos.

Actually I lied. I do remember something. The staircase of the King of Aragon ou bien les escaliers du Roi d'Aragon comme on le dit en français. What a historical delight that story is. Or legend.

According to the legend which delights tourists such as myself, these 187 steps were carved into the stone during a single night by the King of Aragon's troops. This was in 1420 during the siege of Bonifacio.

Unfortunately, there exists a more practical, cynical side to every legend. So common sense has it that these stairs were probably created over time by Fransiscan monks who needed to gain access to the potable water.

I liked the legend better...

Check out the near perfect 45 degree incline. I bet those Fransiscans were good at maths. Here we were in a boat on our way to the Sdragonato cave.

Aside from Corsica's rocky coastal beauty, you can also find treasures in the mountainous center of the island where hikers take to camping and exploring the center's many trails. While in Ajaccio, we took a train ride to Vizzavona and enjoyed an easy trail to the "Cascade des Anglais".

Cooler Vizzavona makes for a welcome respite from the assaults of the sun elsewhere. We had a picnic at the Cascade des Anglais and spent the afternoon trailing about before catching a late train back to Ajaccio. Expect train delays...

The Meaning of Death

"Man...expresses himself primarily by his action...But this action lacks unity, that is, meaning, until it has been completed...
In a word, so long as he has a future, that is, an unknown quantity, man is unexpressed.

It is therefore absolutely necessary to die, because, so long as we live, we have no meaning...Death effects an instantaneous montage of our lives; that is, it chooses the truly meaningful moments (which are no longer modifiable by other possibly contrary or incoherent moments) and puts them in a sequence, transforming an infinite, unstable and uncertain - and therefore linguistically not describable - present into a clear, stable, certain, and therefore easily describable past.... It is only thanks to death that our life serves us to express ourselves.

Editing therefore performs on the material of the film...the operations that death performs on life."

- Pier Paolo Pasolini, film director

12 November 2007

Narcissistic Men (or Women)

How to recognise them.

1. They are ever attentive and caring in the beginning of the relationship. This is not so after a couple of months onwards.

2. They establish behaviour rules. Oh, nothing drastic at first. It could range from seemingly banal assertions like "I never answer the phone" to the more controlling "I don't like you talking with other guys." Cringe.

3. They have low self-esteem - The common misconception about narcissistic persons is that they love themselves and that they have an unshakeable self-belief. This couldn't be further from the truth. While they seem self-sufficient and appear to have an elevated sense of self, in actual fact their self-esteem is dismal. They are extremely insecure people who need others to boost their ego.
That's where you come in!!! You, along with others serve as their audience. Narcissists use others to boost their crumbling sense of worth and they ride high on that collective energy so much so that it is easy to believe they don't need anyone. That's not true. They do!!
This also implies that injuring their ego is not recommended.
Which brings me to point number 4.

4. They react badly to the slightest criticism or negative nuance - that's what I meant. You shouldn't injure their ego. This can make them anxious, irritable or downright aggressive. At worse they can become revengeful.

5. It's all about them. Ok, there are people who love talking about themselves but who are equally interested in you and who can tolerate constructive criticism. But in the case of narcissists, the marketing blurb doesn't stop. And while they talk selflishly of their own concerns, they are blatantly oblivious to yours. For example, they are not interested in making you feel good about your achievements instead, only concentrating on their own achievements.

6. They like, need and crave attention from the opposite sex - there's a dual rule here. You for one, should abstain from even smiling at the opposite sex but they on the other hand need the maintain their fan base regularly. It doesn't matter if the narcissist already has a partner, girlfriend or whatever: they need a large group of admirers on stand by. The more the better. And quantity is usually favoured over quality.

7. They are manipulative - you have to understand that these people have such high insecurities that they are not naturally confident that you would either support them or remain with them for long, unless they coerce you to do so in some way. This is why they use all their powers of persuasion which includes lying about their achievements, making you insecure or jealous, and planting evil seeds of doubt in your mind so that you are sure to hang around. In short, they make you vulnerable. In the meantime, the narcissist refrains from revealing his or her own vulnerability.

8. You find yourself neglected - In your relationship with the narcissist, you feel uncared for and generally neglected emotionally. There is a key factor in childhood/caregiver attachment called 'sensitivity'. In this scenario, a mother helps her child to become attached to her by being sensitive to its needs. That is, by correctly detecting what the child wants and responding to its needs appropriately. According to psychological research, caregiver sensitivity and synchrony with the child are the most important aspects for developing a trusting and comforting child/caregiver attachment rather than just breast-feeding for example. But what about adults? I would argue that we want basically the same thing. And the irony with narcissists is that while at first, they show extreme sensitivity towards you, they later become highly out of sync and aloof. Think about it, you are there to support them, not the other way around. If they are sick, it's your duty to say "Are you ok" or "Hope you get better" but on the other hand, if you are sick, expect no such kindness from them. It's as if they are not listening. Think Oscar Wilde and Bosie and you'll get what I mean. Poor Oscar.

9. You find it hard to 'leave' them - Ok, this is the telling sign that you are dealing with a narcissistic individual. But there are two issues here. The first is that through their rules, neglect or jealousy games, they have managed to injure your self-esteem in some way.The result is that somehow, you have come to believe that you don't deserve better. Or worst, you actually come to believe that there is nothing wrong with their behaviour and that it is your expectations that are incorrect and need re-adjusting. Don't go there. Look around you and you will find people who treat you more kindly. The second issue is your nature. Unfortunately, you are as much a problem as they are. This is because while narcissistic people tend to be highly avoidant of overt emotional manifestations they in turn attract highly emotional, clinging, obsessive types. Like you, perhaps. So be careful if that is you. Understand what it is that they represent and don't hurt yourself by remaining in this relationship.

The Narcissisists - How to leave them

1. Don't make a scene. The more emotionally charged the breakup, the more you set yourself up for a sadomasochistic state where deep down, admit it, you expect them to suddenly feel intense remorse for hurting you and somehow to run after you, then go down on one knee to say sorry and ask for forgiveness.... It won't happen!!!

2. The very first step you need to take is to like yourself. Appreciate your strengths. Do things that make you feel good. Learn to love yourself. Spend time with people who are positive and responsive. Stop dismissing or rejecting those people who respond to you easily. That's the mistake clingers make. They seem to get high on rejection and throw themselves at narcissists. Kamikaze style.

3. Stop investing yourself Emotionally with them- You need to do this over time and consistently. Test your resolve to resist their manipulative ways. The more you resist, the more you will feel stronger. Continue to interact with them but remain detached. They hate that. They will probably notice this since they feed on your emotionalism. They will probably change their behaviour temporarily to get more emotional response out of you. The key word here is temporarily. So don't be fooled.

4. Once you are strong and emotionally detached, you will find it easier to end the relationship. And when you do, you will realise how truly pathetic and childish they are. It's really quite sad to see and they should probably see a shrink.

5. Don't look back. You are worth more than this.

1 November 2007

Ya Rayah - English Translation

I used to love this song 9 years ago. Still do. But now I finally found the lyrics!

Rachid Taha - Oh Emigrant

Oh where are you going?
Eventually you must come back
How many ignorant people have regretted this
Before you and me

How many overpopulated countries and empty lands have you seen?
How much time have you wasted?
How much have you yet to lose?
Oh emigrant in the country of others
Do you even know what's going on?
Destiny and time follow their course but you ignore it

Why is your heart so sad?
And why are you staying there miserable?
Hardship will end and you no longer learn or build anything
The days don't last, just as your youth and mine didn't
Oh poor fellow who missed his chance just as I missed mine

Oh traveler, I give you a piece of advice to follow right away
See what is in your interest before you sell or buy
Oh sleeper, your news reached me
And what happened to you happened to me
Thus, the heart returns to its creator, the Highest (God)