Thursday, November 24, 2005

Jump In!!!!

That's it! Microsoft's brand new console was launched in the U.S. 2 days ago in the midst of much deserved media attention. One of the best events I reckon took place the day before the launch. 3,000 gamers from around the world were invited to “Zero Hour,” a 24-hour event in an airplane hangar in Mojave Desert in Palmdale, California, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles. The hangar was glowing green inside and out and was filled with plasma screen TVs, hundreds of consoles and beanbags.

The console has launched in 15,000 relail outlets and already, it's a hit (Wal-Mart for instance sold 55,000 units within the first hour of their midnight opening... In New York City, the line outside the Best Buy store formed behind Peter Gonzalez’s tent. Gonzalez was the first in line there and had been waiting since 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20. He got his Xbox 360 at 12:01 a.m. Nov.22. That's 28.5 hours. In THAT weather. Fair play to you Peter, I wouldn't have done it!

Mind you, I might not have been a bad idea. Apparently, as we approach North America's busiest shopping weekend of the year the XBox360 is already sold out and are being sold on eBay for anything up to 3,000 USD. Pre-orders have been flooding in in Europe as well as the console is now officially "hard to find", 9 days ahead of its 2nd December launch...

The console comes in 2 version, the Xbox 360 Pro System and the Xbox 360 Core System. Click on the pictures below to access details.

Categories: ; ;

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Louis, you're such a drama queen

Are the X Factor ratings in so much trouble that they need a publicity stunt every week? After rumours of rule changes the other week, Louis Walsh has now alledgedly left the show. The glass of water Sharon Osbourne threw over his head last week was apparently... the last straw. He should have known better than to mention Ozzy's drugs. It would seem that crisis talks are being held. I guess that means that Louis will make a much-publicised comeback soon. Better 2 stunts than 1 I say!

Categories: ; ;

The KAL case

It's a long way to recognition of same-sex couples in Ireland but with people like Dr. Katherine Zappone and Dr. Ann Louise Gilligan, it might just come sooner than Mary "Ireland is not ready for gay marriage" Coughlan thought.

Some NGOs have produced or are working on Partnership Rights reports in Ireland. However, this issue is divisive, even amongst the LGBT community. Do we want marriage? Civil partnership? Isn't it conforming to norms that many members of the community want to defy? What about adoption, IVF?

Many countries already have legislation in place to recognise and protect same-sex couples in the form of civil partnerships. Other countries have gone further and recognise gay marriages, like Canada where Dr. Katherine Zappone and Dr. Ann Louise Gilligan got married in September 2003. Upon their return to Ireland, they contacted the Revenue Commissioners and seeked to claim all the advantages married couples are automatically entitled to in this country. Their claim was denied on the basis that they were not "husband" and "wife" although taxes legislation does not define the terms. Katherine and Ann Louise are challenging this interpretation and were granted leave by the High court to do so just over a year ago.

The case is now on a waiting list for hearing (hopefully within a year) and just as these proceedings take time, they also take money, regardless of how much pro bono their barristers might do and how many people volunteer their time, skills and efforts to their cause. A fund-raising lunch has been organised tomorrow in the Mansion house but other events will follow as they face the prospect of going all the way to Strasbourg to change the way same-sex couples are treated in Ireland forever.

Please support the KAL case!!! Details of how to donate, more information on the case, mailing list subscriptions etc can be found here.

Also, I've just very quickly taken a chunk of their website's banner and created a button to link back to it and will place it on my sidebar. Please do the same so that we can raise as much awareness as possible around this case!!

All you have to do is copy the following code and paste it into your blog / webpage template:

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Is Fitzmas going to be cancelled?

After the Watergate, it would seem that Bob Woodward is getting involved in Plamegate too...

Categories: Fitzmas; Washington Post; Woodward; Plamegate

Beep. It’s from Hamlet. 2B? NT2B?=???

One little step towards democratisation, one giant leap towards bastardisation of the world's great literature classics...

As an aside: How people can actually READ textlish I'll never know.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The wonders of blog surfing

I have just found what would be the funniest blog out there... if the blogger wasn't completely serious. 90% of his message is a pro-life one, post after post. I don't agree with him but that's a matter of opinion and I wouldn't slate him for being a pro-lifer. I know some. I live amongst them. My best friend is one. (Gold star to whoever chuckled at this and can tell me why).

However, apart from anti-abortion propaganda, we also owe him pearls of wisdom and metaphysical questions to ponder for the rest of our lives. These include:

On the highly controversial subject... of the Olympics:
Has no one given some consideration to the children amidst the vile abomination we've come to know as the Olympics?

Ermm... No?
The Olympics began roughly 3000 years after God created the earth...

Oh so you're one of them, huh?
Our role models have become men in tight clothes who twirl mystically on the ice; and women so masculine in all natures that their mothers would recoil in horror at the sight of them.

On the subject of prayer in school, he does wonder
why on earth would we want prayer to be either mandatory, optional, or available in schools?
it would seem that his reasons are far from the ones I would have used as he continues by wondering
Why would we allow either secular or religious teachers to bastardize prayer and use it in a deformed manner to pervert school children. Prayer should be taught and conducted by religious authorities alone.

On the subject of homosexuality, at the beginning of a post called "Helping Homosexuals Through Prayer" where the author claims that prayer can cure us:

There are several admitted homosexuals in my congregation. Most churches forbid homosexuals to worship, but we worked out a deal with the four men and two women who engage in homosexual acts. They are deathly afraid of the hellfire that awaits them in the next life so we arranged to have them sit behind a curtain while the church is in session. Some of the older people are not comfortable, so the homosexuals must leave though the back of the church.

People DO that???

One lesbian there has apparently not had sexual intercourse with another woman in 2 years thanks to the prayers of this congregation. Out of the 6 "out" gays in the Parish (sometimes, I bet they wished they could find that closet door again), she's the only one "Doctor Life" talks about. However, this woman's "progress" is good enough for him as he now suggests that "churches embrace homosexuals like we do and help them overcome their disability."
Who needs friends, huh?

One the subject of rape
When a woman is raped, no matter how horrible that particular act might be, one must question the reason for the occurance. Was it an act of man out of control - insighting violence from within his own sinful being? Or is it an agent of God acting to punish that particular woman for her sins? An interesting question. God acts in mysterious ways.

Didn't think there was anything "interesting" about this question.

And if you ever wonder if there is even ONE reason why you shouldn't chain your wife to the kitchen sink, remind yourself that you would be saving the world by doing so as Feminism is the beginning of the end, ladies and gentlemen:
Feminism has been a disaster for wentern nations in the past century. Since women pushed to be recognized as "people" under the law, several catastrophic things have happened which have, I believe, led to the systematic breakdown of the historical strengths that the west was founded upon. By granting women the right to vote, the right to own property, the right to live automomous to men, the right to equal pay, the establishment essentially allowed for a complete uprooting of tradition values.

...Feminism, therefore, has meant an absurdly rapid shift from the strong Christian-based societies that existed prior to WWI to a sick, twisted, pornographic, homosexual, broken culture. Divorce rates, abortion rates, murder, infidelity, secularization, crime, filth...all of these things can in some way be connected with the stupidity of feminism and the granting of equal rights to women under the law.

And did you know there was a link between homosexuality and abortion? I certainly didn't. I would explain to you what it is if I could make sense of his post. Something about the queers expropriating the Civil Rights Movement, turning "Martin Luther King into a spokesman for the evilest of buggery" and something about women (again) wanting control of their own bodies and defending their rights to abortion. Don't see it? Neither do I.

Dubya more dangerous than bin Laden

Not only do 73% of Canadians dislike George Bush, 38% consider him more dangerous than public enemy number 1 Osama bin Laden himself. Interesting...

Full results of survey carried out by the by Innovative Research Group were published in Saturday's National Post.


If you've been following this blog for a while, you will be aware of my fondness for tennis and for the last few years French tenniswomen (well, we haven't had really good ones in a while). I have already talked about Pierce's fantastic year and pondered the eternal question for every French tennis fan: "can Mauresmo finally win a major title?" here. We expected her in Flushing Meadow but yet again, she was unable to deliver and Mary Pierce reached the final.

It all changed last night in Los Angeles as Mauresmo won the Masters title. It's not a Grand Slam title but it's just as good. Yes, it took her 3 hours 6 minutes of intense battle but the opposition was tough: fellow country woman Mary "could I possibly have a better year than this" Pierce. Final score: 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. To be honest, I'm delighted for Amelie. It was about time she made it happen for herself. I'm also delighted (and a bit disappointed) for Pierce (who beat Mauresmo in the group stages) as she has been so consistent this year (reached the finals of the French and US Opens as well as the QF in Wimbledon): maybe on the overall performance of the year, she would have deserved to win.

As of today, Mauresmo is back to number 3 in the world while Mary is still number 5. Two Frenchies in the top 5 of anything? Two Frenchies in the final of a major tournament? Bring out the champers!

Categories: Sports; Tennis; Mauresmo;Pierce; Masters

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"A dangerous amalgamation between immigration and violence"

(Rough) translation of a interview with Mouloud Aounit, secrétaire général du Mouvement contre le racisme et pour le rapprochement entre les peuples (MRAP) (Movement Against Racism and for Friendship of People) given to the French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur. Full texte in French here.


According to you, what is Nicolas Sarkozy’s aim when he calls for the expulsion of 120 youths arrested during the riots, including those who are legals in France?

Let’s be clear: for the last few months, Sarkozy has been giving in to the Front National, When he talks about ethnic cleansing, rabble and expulsions, he first and foremost gives them a testimony in view of the electoral campaign. When he advocates curfews, he sends a double message. First to the FN by satisfying their requests and secondly to these teenagers by saying: “we crushed your parents during the Algerian War, we will crush you in the same fashion” If you wanted to quench a fire with a container of petrol you wouldn’t do it any other way.

As for the double punishment, Nicolas Sarkozy’s words reveal this government’s autism, the fact that it understands none of the message these truly desperate cries coming from the suburbs carry. Of course, I condemn these violences and their consequences but what they mean is that this probleme cannot be solved without justice and without law. By implementing this double sentencing, Sarkozy shows the depth of his lie. He creates a very dangerous amalgamation between violence and immigration. Moreover, it does not solve anything. All it does is evacuating franco-french problems abroad: the failure of immigrations and integration policies.

At a time when the government calls for peace and order, will these words not inflame the resentment of the suburbs’ inhabitants?

Absolutely! Nicolas Sarkozy failed to understand that the violence shown in the last few days comes from the relegation, the marginalization these populations feel. This is where the discourse becomes demagogic since these youths are no foreigners, they are 4th generation French. However, we still fail to consider these populations for what they really are, i.e. French.

We consistently try to ethnicise the problems this violence highlighted. That is how we maintain a false problem to which the answer will never be found. It is nothing but fuel for hatred and violence.

People expected positive messages which would enable each and everyone to live in dignity and respect. Instead these populations have been submitted to more and more repressive policies for months. To this, you can add the humiliation brought on by Sarkozy’s little jibes and now a double humiliation brought on by the declaration of state of emergency which bring them back to a painful past.

I am of those who believe that this is a deliberate strategic political move. We know that one of the pillars of racism is the omnipresent colonial past. Racism is maintained by cultivating images of a shameful past one wishes to be over.

Jean-Marie Le Pen et le UMP Member of Parliament Jean-Paul Garraud call for some of the rioter to be stripped of their French nationality. How do you analyse this narrowing gap between a racist political movement and some members of the political majority?

We find ourselves today in a sort of escalation, overbidding that never seems to end. Sarkozy, through his provocations and logics, legitimised certain political movements advocating ethnical cleansing. We are slipping towards fascist practices being implemented in our society. It is a completely irresponsible attitude.

If you believe that you will be able to build something on a basis of peace by entertaining hatred, you are talking about the lack of responsibility of this political class that does not understand anything about the needs of the population expressing this violence. Yes, it is likely that following the recent steps taken by the government we will manage to restore public order but the embers now burn and with this kind of speech, they will be rekindled tomorrow, in a week, in a year and it will be far worse. The way the government is handling this problem is based on a very dangerous short-sighed logic.

Categories: France; News; Paris riots; Sarkozy; MRAP; Mouloud Aounit;

Monday, November 07, 2005

Working 8.15 to 5 (but not on Fridays)

Well, I just got myself a new job, the perks are great (half day Friday being one of them), career prospects are promising, job itself sounds challenging and the department rather dynamic. 4 weeks notice has been given... Bye bye evil multinational number 1 and bring on even more evil multinational number 2! :-)

Best birthday present so far. (For those who don't know... it's tomorrow.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Kaiser Chiefs were right to predict a riot...

It’s not getting any better fast… For the seventh night in a row, the Seine-Saint-Denis has been set ablaze by rioters and although violence seemed to have abated after 4 nights, the last two have been tension-filled and certainly have kept the police, CRS (Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité) and firemen busy.


Thursday 27 October

It all begun in Clichy-sous-bois where violence started after firemen were called to rescue 3 young men who had taken refuge in an electricity sub-station. Locals claimed they were being chased by the police after the 3 (along with 3 others who were arrested and subsequently released) attempted to break into a construction site. The air inside the 9 sqm substation was filled with electricity and as 2 of the boys entered deeper into the building, they were electrocuted and killed. The third victim is currently in hospital and has not mentioned being chased by the police and admitted being aware of the dangers of climbing over the double protection walls of the substation. Damages: 15 cars burnt.

Friday 28 October

In the Chêne-Pointu area of Clichy, 400 young men face 250 to 300 policemen. A bullet is shot towards a police van but does not injure anyone. Damages: 7 policemen are slightly injured, 30 cars and 10 bins are burnt, 13 youngster including 1 minor spent the night at the local police station.

Saturday 29 October

Morning: 500 people (friends, families, neighbours, members of the local council) take part in a silent march in Clichy to ay their respects to the 2 dead teenagers. On the front line, 15 people wearing white T-shirts bearing the name of the victims and the words: “Morts pour rien” (died for nothing).

The night is relatively quiet, firemen only report 17 cars and bins fires, there is no violence on the streets.

Sunday 30 October

In a “news at 8” (for further details on the importance of the news at 8pm in France, see previous post here), Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on TF1 advocates “zero tolerance” towards urban violence. While re-iterating that the 2 victims were not pursued by police, he announces that he has requested 17 CRS companies (the riot police) and 7 mobile police squadrons to backup the local police in Clichy-sous-bois. On the 2nd biggest TV channel (France 2), aforementioned Sarkozy comes under criticism from his own government as Azouz Begag, Minister for the promotion of equality of chances says that “people should not be told they are scum”. Sarkozy had been heard uttering the word “scum” 5 days before in Argenteuil.

A fourth night of violence follows in the quartier de la Forestière this time. A tear gas grenade is thrown inside the local mosque. Funnily enough, it is the same type the CRS uses. They deny throwing it, 6 policemen are slightly injured, 11 people send the night at the station.

Monday 31 October

Sarkozy is at it again. Although he admits that that tear gas grenade thrown the previous night was of standard CRS issue, “it doesn’t not mean that it was thrown by a policeman”. In the meantime, Siyakah Traore, one of the victims’ brother refuses to meet with Sarkozy under any circumstances as he is incompetent. They want to go straight to the Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Police arrest 12 people in Clichy where cars and bins continue to burn. According to the police, the night is quieter than the previous one although rioters in Clichy seemed to have set an example and riots spread to Sevran, Neuilly-sur-Marne et Bondy.

Tuesday 1 November

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin meets the victims families and assures them that light will be thrown on the circumstances of the accident. He highlights the necessity to return to calm.

Violence spread to 3 other departements: Seine-et-Marne, Yvelines and Val-d'Oise. However, there does not seem to be any direct confrontation between rioters and police officers.

Wedenesday 2 November

Jacques Chirac calls for a return to calm and respect of the law. Azouz Begag in an interview with newspaper Sud-Ouest regrets never being consulted by Sarkozy on equality of chances issues. He says that he is “being told when Sarkozy makes an announcement but never consulted. I am united with my government colleagues. Nicolas Sarkozy is just 1 minister out of 31”.

Violences and arrests (15) continue in Seine-Saint-Denis. During the afternoon, a section of the Bobigny 2 shopping centre is vandalised by about 40 people. During the night, a police station (closed a night for security reasons) is set on fire and in La Courneuve, CRS avoid 4 bullets. Several fires are reported in Seine-et-Marne and Hauts-de-Seine. 177 cars are burnt and in Aulnay-sous-bois, 3 France 2 journalists are forced to abandon their car as tens of teenagers wearing balaclavas threaten them according to AFP. A few moments later, their car is on fire as are the nearby car dealership and local primary school. Violences are now reported in Bobigny, Bondy, Aulnay, le Bourget, Noisy-le-Sec, Villepinte, la Courneuve, Clichy, Sevran, Antony, Villeparisis, Mantes-la-Jolie. In Clichy-sous-bois however, things seemed to have calmed down.

Categories: France; News; Paris riots