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Monthly Archives: February 2005

Café

L'argentic à Chalon sur SaôneHad a day off today so naturally enough, after lunch, I wandered around for a joint to take my coffee…

Looks like I found a pleasant place. The owner – obviously from Paris from the way he expressed himself not so much the accent – was very welcoming and warm.

If the photo is any indication.

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Posted by on February 28, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

120 million cyberpoliced Chinese Net surfers

The incredible explosion of the number of users of the Net went hand in hand with the methods of control • The explanations of Caï Chong Guo, political refugee in charge of “http://www.china-labour.org.hk”.

Informations collected by Ludovic Blecher
Monday February 28, 2005 (Liberation.fr – 16:59)©

+119.380.000 Net surfers in eight years: it is the great jump of the Chinese Internet, up from 620.000 Net surfers in 1997 to 120 million users before the end of 2005, according to an official forecast of the Chinese ministry of the Trades of information. As impressive that it is, this estimate is lower than those of independent analysts. Some expect 134 million at the end of 2005. If the use of the Net explodes in China, the network is more and more controlled by Bejing. Caï Chong Guo, 50 years, political refugee in France and person in charge for the site of China Labour Bulletin , an independent group based in Hongkong which follows the evolution of work in China and militates for a free trade unionism, observes the evolution of the Chinese Internet since its beginnings. It answers the questions of Release.

Even under control, the Internet explodes in China…
Yes, there is nearly a 30 % growth each year. The country counts currently more than 100 million users that are regularly connected, with cybercafés everywhere. Even ordinary people have access to the Internet. It should be said that the government strongly encouraged the economic development of the Net as well as other new technologies. It was very rapidly understood as formidable tool of propaganda and control. Thanks to the network, for example, whoever manages to cross customs to Hongkong, Bejing is immediately informed.

Is the Internet less and less free in China?
One can distinguish two stages in the history from the Chinese Internet. Until 2003, a certain freedom of expression could exist, mainly on the forums of discussion. Extremely significant topics like the democracy or the freedom of expression could be approached. The Chinese were also useful themselves of the Net to denounce the corruption of the civils servant. In addition to the forums, some went so far as to create their personal pages and made circulate newsletters. At the beginning, the Chinese government did not know how to control all that. Then, it invested much money and from now on the cyberpolice is everywhere.

Most visible signs?
Very powerful filterings were set up. E-mails may commonly show missing words, looking like a Gruyère cheese: in fact “prohibited” words simply were automatically removed by softwares that scan all mails and eliminate what “disturbs”. The official cyberpolice is relies also on private back-up troops. In the companies, for instance, there are people in charge of taking care of “correct use” of the network. For the companies, it is a question of survival since they are likely to face serious difficulties if it is noted that employees benefit from computer equipement and deliberately surf on sites considered sensitive not to mention publish forbidden content. In addtion to this 'nonprofessional' police force comes a center of denunciation specific to the Internet created at the end of 2003. Result: before 2003, a 'democratic' text could remain 3 to 4 hours on a forum. Now it would be more like ten minutes at most.

Can the Chinese count on external help?
50 million Chinese live in the United States and in Europe. There are hundreds of sites in Chinese outside China, which allowed Chinese from the main land to publish by mail. But technical measurements make it possible today to block the access of such sites from China.

You also note that the field of “deviating contents” broadened…
Now, not only political questions are sanctioned but one cannot speak about the social problems or corruption any more.
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Posted by on February 28, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

The high cost of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

We've always known that the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy came at a cost. Now we know what it is — at least in financial terms. In a new report, the General Accounting Office says that the Pentagon has spent nearly $200 million replacing troops forced out of service by the policy since it took effect in 1994.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon reported that it was discharging fewer gay men and lesbians than before. Still, the GAO says nearly 9,000 troops have been forced out of service since “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” took effect. Countless others have simply left the services quietly as a result of the policy; the GAO's $200 million cost estimate doesn't — and really couldn't — account for troops who simply chose not to re-enlist rather than put up with the discriminatory policy or risk expulsion down the road.

Aaron Belkin, the director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California at Santa Barbara, told the Associated Press that the GAO report confirms that “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” “harms military readiness.” The report notes that significant numbers of the gay troops ousted from the military held posts important enough that the Pentagon typically offers re-enlistment bonuses for them. Many held intelligence-related jobs.

At least some lawmakers think it's time to revisit “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.” Rep. Marty Meehan, the Massachusetts Democrat who requested the GAO study, is considering legislation that would prohibit the military from discriminating against individuals based on sexual orientation. It's hard to imagine that either the Bush White House or the Republican-controlled Congress would have much interest in increasing the number of homosexuals in the military. But such a move would not be without precedent; the British Royal Navy, which until 2000 banned gays altogether, has just announced a plan to begin recruiting gay men and lesbians. And as violence in Iraq keeps the U.S. military bogged down and stretched thin, even George W. Bush might come to think that an openly gay soldier is better than no soldier at all.

— Tim Grieve
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Posted by on February 28, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

no es amor lo que tu sientes, se llama un obsecion

At last! This morning, finally, I was able to find that spanish tune I had kept looking for. My spanish being a bit rusty I was absolutely unable to catch any of the lyrics as I was listening to it over the radio. A good thing the last sentence is repeated until fade Wheeeh!!

I like the tune, I like the contrast between the male singer who I feel nervous, anxious and plain crazy and the female singer, gently but firmly telling him that no es amor lo que siente, se llama un obsecion so basically leave me alone. ^_^

It took me, what, 3 minutes to find and have it downloaded.

I'm listening to it, moving my ass around and sliding from one room to the other pretending I can dance LOL

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Posted by on February 28, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

Macintosh lost a parent

Jef Raskin, a computer interface expert who conceived Apple Computer Inc.'s groundbreaking Macintosh computer but left the company before it came to market, has died. He was 61.

I shouldn't care really since I've used PC (meaning machine under Windows®) most of my professional life save for a few years when I started at Besançon, some 16 years ago…
Going back to using a PC (meaning machine blablablabla) was a sort of a back in time leap in a way as Windows® then was still 3.11.

Now XP©, at last, gives me what I got used to (and lost) 15 years ago. I didn't know who to thank for at that time, clicking, dragging and dropping like mad whilst most PC afficionados were stuck to DOS commands (which didn't prevent them from looking us, Mac users, down).

This is my little tribute to Jef Raskin.

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Posted by on February 28, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

Sunday, bloody Sunday

Temperatures didn't even reach 0°C today (up from -8°). I wanted to go see the last day of Carnaval (His majesty LXXXIII due to be hanged and burned at bridge St Laurent) but the wind I hear is telling me to stay home instead.

Too bad a mexican band, 80 persons strong, was to be the clou du spectacle

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Posted by on February 27, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

Sideways…!!… ?

'Sideways' wins big at the Independent Spirit Awards
Calendarlive.com ©
…The dark, acerbic comedy about two losers on a road trip to the Santa Barbara wine country has received the majority of the 2004 best picture accolades from critics' groups and won the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical. Director Alexander Payne and his writing partner Jim Taylor also picked up the Golden Globe for screenplay and took the Writers Guild Award for best adapted screenplay last week . “Sideways” also is up for five Academy Awards this evening including best picture and director….

Brother told me the movie was good indeed… Of course, him having appreciated “Aviator”, I don't totally trust his judgement.

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Posted by on February 27, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

Don't know where to put away your knives?


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Posted by on February 26, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

Alter Consumers?

Sales of mass market products falling as new trends in consumption emerge..

For the first time in 10 years, says the newspaper Le Monde©, sales of mass-market consumer goods are currently falling, reversing a trend which had previously seen them rise by average annual rates of 3 to 4% over recent years.

Among the reasons for this fall, says Le Monde©, is a growing rejection of such products and consumption patterns by a certain part of the population.

Major manufacturers and retailers may not yet be in a state of panic, writes Stéphane Lauer, but there is a certain amount of uneasiness.

According to figures produced by the retail audit company IRI-France, sales through super- and hypermarkets have fallen by between 0.8% and 1% since the beginning of the year. “There's clearly been a reverse”, says Jean-Pierre Gaucher, assistant managing director of the company.
On the one hand, Le Monde© says, strong increases in the price of leading brands may have had its effect. But that, in itself, seems insufficient to explain what is going on, given the extent of the decreases observed. The big, “industrial” camembert brands, for example, have seen sales fall by 40% over the past 3 years. Sales of pre-prepared meals have fallen by 6% since 2000. Some brands of toothpaste, the newspaper says, are plumbing new depths in terms of sales returns. The lower the figures, the greater the concern among market leaders and more frequent and plausible the explanatory comments of market observers and analysts.

Consumers are expressing their disappointment in these big brands, which have failed to fulfil their promise of 'democratising' consumption”, says psycho-sociologist Danielle Rapoport. “These companies have gone all out for innovation but consumers don't perceive the result as a real benefit. So the effect has become the opposite of what was intended – brands have become less desirable.”

As a result, consumer 'rebellion' is becoming more and more evident, Le Monde© says. “In meetings, we have been seeing new topics raised since 2002 which have really taken off”, says Eric Foulquier, head of the research firm Théma. “For example, people are rejecting useless packaging, asking questions about novelty for novelty's sake, about the ethics of companies.” Foulquier describes this new behaviour as 'alter-consumption'.

This new way of consuming is highlighted further in a study conducted by Universal Comcord, part of the McCann group. By analysing a number of criteria as evidenced among a sample of 10,000 Frenchmen and women, representative of the population, the study's authors conclude that as many as 15% to 25% of them could be termed as 'alter-consumers'. That's a significant number, especially given that fact that such consumers tend to come from the upper socio-professional levels of society, with significant purchasing power.

“Contrary to what many people think, 'alters' are not the kind of people who just give up consuming. In fact, they are above-average consumers of around 250 products covered by the study”, adds Eric Fouquier. “This trend should not be interpreted as a rejection of consumption per se”, agrees Danielle Rapoport. “Not consuming equates to marginalising yourself and possibly being excluded from society.”

What we are seeing, Le Monde© says, has more to do with differentiation. People are seeking to detach themselves from mass-market ways of thinking, by creating their own universe which allows them to escape a world that appears too pre-packaged. “Given the amount of products on offer and the extremely sophisticated way in which they are presented, some consumers want to reclaim control by selecting products according to their own criteria. This leads to the act of consumption itself becoming even more complex”, says Danielle Rapoport.

These 'alter-consumers', it seems, are not rebelling against society. They don't want to pull the whole system down, they simply want to make it more acceptable to them. Their aspiration lies in not being seen as simple consumers, but as individuals. This leads to their making purchase decisions driven by certain ethical and environmental considerations, for example. Similarly, it leads to them placing a greater distance between themselves, brands and advertising.

They are therefore a clearly different beast from the 'hyper consumer', Le Monde© says, who tends to be permanently driven by an impulsion to buy and a systematic search for novelty. For these, brands are indispensable as they allow them to construct an identity. “The problem right now”, says Eric Fouquier, “is that advertising supposes that hyper-consumers are the ideal consumers. In truth, they account for no more than 11% of the population.”

The challenge for brands and retailers lies in adapting their approach to better take into account the demands of these 'alters'. “The one-size-fits-all approach of globalisation frightens these consumers. Increasingly, as a result, they seek reassurance by looking back to their roots”, says Olivier Geradon de Vera, an expert on consumer patterns and vice-president of IRI-France. This translates into a desire for products which promise more in terms of taste, pleasure and authenticity – the exact opposite of what global brands can offer. Consumers want to be able to identify with products whose notional value is greater than their intrinsic value. If major brands and hypermarkets can't offer them this, the consequence is immediate: if it means buying something which does not exactly meet their needs, they will seek to do so at the lowest price possible, which helps to explain the growth in France of 'hard' discounters.

Adapting to this new behaviour is not going to be straightforward for major brands and retailers. “The movement brings into question the very foundations of the current business model which, as a result of centralisation, no longer has the necessary flexibility to allow it to adapt”, Olivier Geradon de Vera believes. “We are reaching the limits of globalisation. At the same time, we are seeing the myth of the global brand crumble away. If the system is catching a cold at the moment, it's because levels of creativity in the introduction of new products have never been lower.” Meaning, Le Monde© concludes, that ther recipe for bringing these 'alter consumers' back within the fold has yet to be written.

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Posted by on February 26, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

Fame? Not everybody is interested

As I want to respect that fellow desire to end it all I will not disclose sources of info I used nor will I add a link to the video that brought him in the limelight.

Not many understand why he doesn't want to embrace that one chance to be famous; even his grandfather wonders what's wrong with him…

C'mon, the video is not that bad, granted a bit embarrassing but the guy is pretty funny and to be honest when you see it […] you kind of impulsively feel like sending it to your friends.

Which I won't ^_^

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Posted by on February 26, 2005 in Uncategorized