26 September 2009

La Petite Fille du Troisieme by Christophe

French singer, Christophe

Ah, Christophe, how I adore your dark side.

The song, "La Petite Fille du Troisieme" (The Little Girl from the Third Floor), is one of my favourites by French singer, Christophe. One could write a script, and yes, make a film from its lyrics.

There's a cold, chaotic effect brought upon by the redundant repetition of certain words in an almost clinical, orderly manner. Since the lyrics are in first person, the main character emerges as a meticulous observer with an almost cynical focus on other people's behavior. There's a scrutiny over details that most people overlook and it hints to the character's attitude and mental preoccupations. So then, it should come as no surprise if that I tell you that this song paints the story of a psychopath, a man who describes his future victims and who evinces a guiltless detachment from his crimes by engaging in culture and refinement, that is, by listening to ballet all day.
The plaintive, romantic quality of Christophe's voice only adds to the character's eeriness.

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La Petite Fille du Troisieme (The Little Girl from the Third Floor)

La petite fille du troisième a toujours
Oui elle a toujours, a toujours, a toujours, a toujours des problèmes
Quand je la vois le matin
Quand elle va prendre son train, oui son train, oui son train
Je prendrais bien sa p'tite main
Je vois tout, j'entends tout, mais je ne dis jamais rien (x2)

The little girl from the 3rd floor, always has
Yes, she always has, always has, always has, always has problems
When I see her in the morning
When she goes to catch her train, yes her train, yes her train
I would [gladly] take her little hand

I see everything, I hear everything
But I never say anything.
I see everything, I hear everything
But I never say anything.

La vieille dame du cinquième, elle se prend
Oui elle se prend, elle se prend (x2) pour une cartomancienne
Elle a dit au monsieur, au monsieur du huitième, du huitième (x2)
Qu'il allait mourir demain
Je vois tout, j'entends tout, mais je ne dis jamais rien (x2)

The old lady from the fifth floor, She takes herself
Yes, she takes herself, she takes herself, she takes herself for a fortune teller
She told the gentleman, the gentleman from the eighth floor, the eighth floor, the eighth floor
That he would die tomorrow

I see everything, I hear everything
But I never say anything.
I see everything, I hear everything
But I never say anything.

J'habite au rez-d'chaussée et je joue du ballet, du ballet, du ballet
A longueur de journée
Quand on vient me questionner sur la dame du cinquième
Sur la fille du troisième, je réponds sans hésiter :
Je vois tout, j'entends tout, mais je ne dis jamais rien
Je vois tout, j'entends tout, mais je ne dis jamais rien
Je vois tout, j'entends tout, je vois tout, tout, mais je ne dis jamais rien
J'écoute tout, je vois tout, j'entends tout, tout, mais je ne dis jamais rien
J'entends tout, tout tout tout, je vois tout, tout, mais je ne dis jamais rien, rien.

I live on the Ground floor
And I play ballet, ballet, ballet
All day long
When they come to question me about the lady from the fifth floor,
About the girl from the third floor, I reply without hesitation:
I see everything, I hear everything
But I never say anything.
I see everything, I hear everything
But I never say anything. (Repeat ad nauseum)

13 September 2009

Where I've Been

What I enjoy most about travelling is the 360 degree visual overload which I scramble to capture with those absurd digital contraptions that tourists so often carry along with them. Other aspects I love include cultural immersion which so often involves tasting glorious, yummy food, the history of different places, the wonderous architectures and the beautiful natural scenery. Travel, for me, is systematic invited change. Surprises. It's about the joy of discovering a life that I am not familiar with and that I can learn from and grow from, it's about experiencing different things, living other paradigms and appreciating human difference. I aspire to be in a perpetual state of wonder where I take nothing of the world for granted and where my senses are overwhelmed every single minute. I also travel to have fun and to explore the past.

This is a list of places I've travelled to or lived in. It's nowhere as extensive as some of my friends' lists including Ginny, Cathy and Jacqueline whose broad travel experiences I greatly admire. Overall it makes me happy to see what I've done so far.
I hope to see much more of the world in the future and return to a few places that I enjoyed. I'll update this list regularly in the years to come.




Burleigh Heads
Coolum Beach
Fraser Island
Hamilton Island
Hervey Bay
Palm Beach
Port Arthur
Surfers Paradise
Watsons Bay
Whitsunday Island

New Zealand

Fox Glacier
Mt Cook Village

Society Island (Fr)



Badaling (Great Wall)
Hong Kong




Kuala Lumpur





Czech Republic




Schwartzwald (Black Forest)

Adamas, Milos
Apollonia, Milos
Cape Sounion
Fira, Santorini
Imerovigli, Santorini
Mykonos Chora, Mykonos
Oia, Santorini
Perivolos, Santorini
Plaka, Milos
Provatas, Milos
Psarou Beach, Mykonos
Vlyhada Beach, Santorini

Monterosso al Mare
San Gimignano



El Escorial





Lake Louise

Los Angeles

6 September 2009

Lie Detection Anyone?

This is a short essay that I wrote as part of a final psychophysiology exam.
The question asked for the pros and cons of using psychophysiology for lie detection in relation to an article on psychophysiological modelling. It was only worth 5% and I got full marks for it.
This is one of my passions. I'm fascinated by Event Related Potentials (ERPs), Electroencephalography (EEG) for the measure of mirror neuron activity, Electromyography (EMG) in the measure of attitudes and in general, I have an interest in any physiological response to psychological events.
I'd love to be able to complete my Honours year in the field of social neuroscience but I'm worried about being away from the workplace for too long. Hopefully in the future...

This essay uses arguments set forward by Cacioppo, Tassinary and Berntson (2007) in relation to psychophysiological relationship to outline the pros and cons of the use of psychophysiological measures in lie detection. In psychophysiology, a polygraph is often used to measure the increase in arousal resulting from lying and eliciting changes in heart rate, blood volume, skin conductance and respiration.

Cacioppo et al. (2007) argue that simply knowing that manipulating a particular element in the psychological domain leads to a particular psychophysiological response does not enable one to infer anything about the former based on observations of the latter. If we look at this in the context of the Guilt Knowledge Test, a subject’s response to a question relating to the crime when the subject is guilty would represent the psychological domain. Meanwhile, any significant rise in the suspect’s skin conductance would represent the psychophysiological response. What Cacioppo et al. argue is that it is not possible to assume with complete certainty that other psychological reasons might not have led to the observed physiological response. In lie detection, the skin conductance changes assumed to characterise the suspect’s increased arousal when they recognise information only a guilty person would be expected to know, may be a psychophysiological outcome resulting from other psychological states. This is one disadvantage of using psychophysiological measures for lie detection. Notably, there is a many to one relationship characterising lie detection. It implies that responses measured by the polygraph could arise from any other psychological state rather than the assumed guilt state. It has been found that some people can manipulate their own breathing, press their toes on the floor or bite their tongue, thus affecting polygraph measures. For example, Honts, Hodes and Raskin (1985) tested the accuracy of the Control Question Test (CQT) and found that guilty persons in a mock-crime experiment could produce enhanced responses to control questions and therefore be classified as innocent.

Using psychophysiological measures for lie detection can be advantageous if the relationship between the suspect’s state and their psychophysiological response can be defined as one-to-one. In this form of relationship described by Cacioppo et al. (2007), only one physiological response predicts a psychological event within a given context. The psychophysiological response becomes known as a marker and its presence is so strictly associated with a particular condition that its presence is more accurately indicative of the presence of this condition. In other words, presence of this marker in lie detection increases the accuracy of the decision about whether or not the suspect is guilty. The measure of event related potentials (ERPs) for lie detection may be the closest thing to this form of relationship. One of these event related potentials, the P300, only occurs where a subject is presented with deviant or interesting information. In the lie detection paradigm, this late P300 ERP can manifest if the subject is presented with information that only a guilty person would recognise. According to Cacioppo et al.’s terms, the presence of the P300 can be construed as a strict marker for suspect recognition of crime related stimuli. In this context, the presence of a P300 in a suspect’s EEG recording can indicate that the stimulus presented was relevant to the guilty person. Conversely, absence of the P300 can indicate that the same stimulus presented was irrelevant to the therefore innocent person. A study by Farwell and Donchin (1991) which measured the P300 response in a fictional spy scenario found that there were no false positives or false negatives and that wherever a decision could be made based on the P300, it was accurate. In a second experiment, target stimuli related to a given person’s offence produced large P300s while stimuli not related to the offence produced only a very small or no P300 at all. Overall, the determinations of this second experiment were 100% correct. It can be concluded that use of ERP measures offers promising results in the accuracy of lie detection making psychophysiological measures advantageous as tools for lie detection.

Another disadvantage of using psychophysiological measures in lie detection is that often, a psychophysiological relationship may be established with a particular measure when in fact this relation is not concomitant. As explained by Cacioppo et al. (2007), a psychophysiological concomitant is where there exists a many-to-one relationship such that a psychophysiological measure correlates with a known psychological state. However, it can be argued that changes in skin conductance thought to manifest when a person is lying may in fact turn out to be non concomitant. Cacioppo et al. indicate that manipulation of the same psychological element in a situation may alter or eliminate the covariation between the psychological and physiological elements because the latter is evoked not only by variations in the psychological element but also by variations in one or more additional factors. In a lie detection scenario, this would be the equivalent of skin conductance changes arising from an additional factor such as fear or anxiety such that the psychological state (guilt/innocence) may be overridden by this additional factor. So where a suspect is feeling anxious about being found guilty when they are in fact innocent, other factors may be at play in evoking the psychophysiological response and this may render the measured response non concomitant.

Psychophysiological science: interdisciplinary approaches to classic questions about the mind.(2007). In J. T Cacioppo, L.G. Tassinary & G.G. Berntson (Eds.), Handbook of psychophysiology, 3rd Edition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

1 September 2009

Emilie Jolie: Le Hérisson - English Translation

From the age of three to four, I had a turntable with a red plastic case that I'd use to play records all day long. One of my earliest memories is a Philippe Chatel's children musical called "Emilie Jolie" that I'd listen to continuously until I knew the words by heart. I was not gifted with blonde locks and I did not have blue eyes like the lovely Emilie but as with many little French girls, I identified with her.

Emilie is basically this little girl who can't sleep at night because she finds herself all alone while her parents are out and she is terrified of the dark. I could readily identify with that. No sooner were the lights out that I had to fight the horrible products of an overactive imagination.

The narration is in third person with the narrator also directly interacting with Emilie as she flips through this book merging with each page's content into a magical universe. It's similar to Mary Poppins where the children enter into the park after leaping into one of the chalk drawings but in this case, Emilie is both inside the book and outside it, since she can still flip the pages. For each page, she meets fantastic characters each with a story and a personal song.

The first turning point of the story is the meeting with a witch.

"Il y a une sorciere dans cette histoire?" (Is there a witch in this story?) asks Emilie.
"Dans tous les comtes, il y a une sorciere et un prince charmant." (In every tale, there is a witch and a Prince charming) assures the narrator.

The witch's song is one of the highlights of the story. It is sung in the original musical by famous French singer, Françoise Hardy. She laments that she's been cruel and wicked, that being a witch has been to her detriment and she wishes someone could love her so that she could cease being a witch. Interesting psychology going on here and I can tell you that Emilie Jolie is a musical filled with double meanings so that adults along with children can both enjoy it. It's probably as deep as The Little Prince and when it ends, Philippe Chatel's last words have haunted me up to this day:

" Faites que le rêve dévore votre vie, Afin que la vie ne dévore pas votre rêve . "

Let your dream consume your life.
Such that life may not consume your dream...

It is a beautiful ending because it reminds the main character, Emilie along with every other child, to grow up honouring their dreams and their imagination. As a child, I did not understand the quote very well but as an adult today, I can see how easy it is to forget one's dreams and to let life, adult life with its adult concerns, its materialistic outlook and other "matters of consequence" take precedence over joyful fantasies. I'm determined not to let it.

Personally, I believe you can expect that level of depth from most French children's tales.

After the meeting with the witch there follows a quest to find a Prince Charming who will magically turn the witch into a kind, loving princess. Emilie Jolie must flip each page of her book and encounter one character after another asking each if they have at all seen Prince Charming. Of course none of them have but we are treated to their song nevertheless and learn a little bit about each one of them. Each character's song is well written and most are enjoyable.

My personal favourite as a child and also today, is "La Chanson du hérisson " (The Porcupine's song). Who has not met a porcupine? A depressed person who sees life through a negative lens and who only wants proof that they are worthy of love. It is easy to be rebuffed (prickled?) by their negativity and it often requires courage to overcome their rejecting ways and give them the proof they ache for. This is the lesson that this song teaches.

La Chanson du Hérisson - Lyrics by Philippe Chatel with my English translation

Oh, qu'est-ce qui pique, ce hérisson
Oh, qu'elle est triste sa chanson
Oh, qu'est-ce qui pique, ce hérisson
Oh, qu'elle est triste sa chanson
Oh, how he prickles, this porcupine,
Oh, how sad is his song.
Oh, how he prickles, this porcupine
Oh, how sad is his song.

C'est un hérisson qui piquait, qui piquait
Et qui voulait qu'on l'caresse, resse, resse
On l' caressait pas, pas, pas, pas, pas
Non pas parce qu'il piquait pas, mais mais parce qu'il piquait
It was a porcupine that prickled, that prickled
And who wanted to be caressed,ressed,ressed
Caressed he was not, not, not, not, not
Not because he didn't prickle, but because he prickled

(Repeat Chorus)

Le hérisson:
Quelle est la fée dans ce livre
Qui me donn'ra l'envie d'vivre
Quelle est la petite fille aux yeux bleus
Qui va m'rendre heureux
The Porcupine:
Who is the fairy in this book
Who'll give me the desire t'live
Who is the little girl with the blue eyes
Who'll make me happy

Moi, je ne vois que moi
Il n'y a que moi
Dans ce livre là
Moi, je ne vois que moi
Il n'y a que moi
Dans ce livre là,la
la la la...
Me, I see only me
There is only me
In this book
Me, I see only me
There is only me
In this book
- I actually love this part because it has two meanings. In the first instance, Emilie is answering the porcupine's question, acknowledging that she is the only one who can help him. But at the same time, on a broader scale, she expresses her realisation that her book journey is solitary and that everything so far, has been a product of her imagination, or a reflection of herself. I love this.

Le conteur:
Emilie est allée caresser le hérisson !
Emilie has gone to caress the porcupine!

Elle n'est plus triste, cette chanson
J'ai caressé le hérisson
This song is no longer sad
I have caressed the porcupine

Il n'est plus triste, le hérisson
Elle a caressé la chanson !
He is no longer sad, the porcupine
She has caressed the song!
(a bit of kiddish humour there....)

Le conteur:
Mais non, le hérisson
No, [she means] the porcupine...

Mais non, le hérisson !
No, the porcupine!

Here's the song, in case you want to sing along!