Monday, November 29, 2004

Right angle

Ignoring information we don't like can be comforting, but I rather have a regular look at the right-wing medias in the States. They're quite unique on a global scale for being so right-wing even though they perceive themselves as one of the two sides of objectivity. Anyway, they're willing to investigate sacred cows of the left and I believe in this "tough love" approach, even for their supporters. The findings of corruption around the Oil-for-Food program, involving up to Kofi Anan's son along with French and Russians officials, are a good example.

No corruption should be tolerated. What message does that send to the Iraqis? Now, one might also hope that such amounts ($150 000) will be seen with perspective. It doesn't mean that the UN system is rotten or that Kofi was a friend of Saddam. But I'm being optimistic here...

When in Swiss, do as the Swiss do

The Swiss have approved stem-cell research by referendum last week-end by a whooping 66%.

Voters say yes to stem-cell research, Swiss Info

The Swiss vote on about everything every three months. Referenda are a national institution here and they praise that kind of direct democracy.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The wrong analysis

For those who think that the last American election was about "moral values", think again.

But [American voters who put “moral values” at the top of their list of concerns] hardly formed a moral majority. Look at the figures: the moralists' share of the electorate was only 22%, just two points more than the share of those who cited the economy, and three points more than those who nominated terrorism as the top priority. A few points difference (and the exit polls are, after all, not entirely reliable) and everyone would have been saying the election was about jobs or Iraq.

Moreover, that 22% share is much lower than it was in the two previous presidential elections, in 2000 and 1996. Then, 35% and 40%, respectively, put moral or ethical issues top, and a further 14% and 9% put abortion first, an option that was not given in 2004. Thus, in those two elections, about half the electorate said they voted on moral matters; this time, only a fifth did.

Source: The Economist, November 11, 2004

Hope keeps me alive

Many people who deem themselves "realists" are just conservatives, in a broad sense. They pretend that change is rather impossible because the establishment is too strong, because the current situation steems from necessity, etc. But is it really? I think not.

The way things have changed in the past, quickly and without much signs, is a reason to be optimistic, to support change for the best. Who would have said in August 2001 that the Talebans wouldn't be in power in Afghanistan before then end of the year?

I think change for the best should always be one's position and realism, no more than an analysis tool of the past. Trying to understand what has happened may demand cold analysis, but changing the world demands more will than coldness.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Mr. Hide

I better be straight about it: I was a loser in high school. A nerd, not very good at sports and not very good-looking.

Every time I meet an ol' pal from these days, I never know what to think. I don't want to prove myself to those people, but I still feel the urge to do it. I feel ridiculous. I start wondering who's the real me: the now-me who was waiting to arise past then or the past-me who's buried skin deep today? It's to my advantage, but I think the real self is the current self. We can be a lot of people, but there's nothing more "real" than the one who are now.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Move this

When do you get too old for disco dancing? "Never" is not an answer - of course you may keep going, but at some point you definitely look ridiculous.

Everytime I go in a club and I find myself on the dance floor, I ask myself this question. Do I really enjoy dancing? Am I just incapable of moving on? Do I look like this guy over there? Is everbody thinking this same thing at this moment?

One of these days, I'm gonna go dancing in a club for the last time. From now on, every night out may be this last time. Of course, I'll dance again to the sound of Madonna, Micheal and Eminem, but only in weddings.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

After the "exception culturelle"?

Washington has become to politics what Hollywood is to movies: the main source of entertainment.

I'm referring to the fascination US politics - foreign or domestic - exercice over non-US citizens. I see foreigners addicted as if it were their own. Not just interested, addicted. They know all the characters, power struggles, and issues. They become passionate but also obsessed. I am one of them.

Is it a good thing? I guess not: I almost lost interest in my own national politics. The time I spend on US politics, I don't use it for national or even non-US international politics. It can't be better than cultural alienation.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


I'm not sure anymore about the relevance of this blog.

First, I can't express myself as freely as I would have hoped for. I fear somebody I know will find it one fine day and go back in time to see everything I wrote from the start. A single too open entry could mean trouble.

Second, I'm not sure what's the relevance of writing for people who don't know me. I've been browsing through Blogspot myself and my attention was quite difficult to catch. I don't think I would have sticked on my own blog for long.

Third, I'm no Salam Pax. I'm not living a particular situation that could interest visitors - not to mention millions of visitors.

Fourth, I don't feel the need to write so much. Sorry Rainer Maria Rilke, but yes I can survive without writing. I find myself wondering if I should add something to the blog - but nobody forces me do keep it updated.

What now?

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Famous last thoughts

What is it with the death bed? Why are people so afraid of what they'll think of themselves once they reach the finish line?

Personally, I don't mind being buried in regrets when Mr. Death will knock at my door. It's likely to last a few hours, maybe a few days, and at worst a few weeks. I won't spend 80 years behaving for that short moment. It's not like I'll be handed an accounting book with my pluses and minuses to carry all the way up to Saint-Doorman. As far as I'm concerned, the book will be buried with me.

I don't mind more about it than I'm concerned with what I was thinking of myself on April 5 1997 (random pick). I wish it was positive but if it wasn't, then too bad. I'll live here and now.

Don't get me wrong: I hope to leave his place better than I found it. I just won't be guessing what will be my opinion of "better" at the eve of my life.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Sky's the limit, but the rocket has no fuel

What can you expect from a city with the most international organisations in the world, the biggest United Nations office, the World Trade Organisation, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the World Health Organisation? A lot.

But Geneva has disappoint me so far.

I don't feel any energy in the city. Once you get out of the international organisations neighbourhood, you're quickly back into the 175,000 persons city that Geneva is. And even in the Nations...

The tremedous potential of this city doesn't seem to be exploited. You'd expect prestigious conferences, lively debates or such but there's nothing. Nothing that I'm aware of, at least. Why is it that we don't get invited in the Palais des Nations every week for a prestigious lecture? Where are all the public figures working in Geneva? Too busy or bored to share? There is a public for these activities since so many came to Geneva to work for those international orgnaisations or the NGOs that have settled here. Even the HELP! exhibition at the Red Cross Museum was a bit disappointing considering the wealth of experience the organisation has in humanitarian affairs.

London was different. London had understood its incredible potential and was using it. A Nobel Prize conference in St. Paul's Cathedral. The head of the World Health Organisation and author of "Our Common Future" at the London School of Economics. Protests against the war in Iraq. But then again, you will say, London is bigger than Geneva. Maybe, but the WHO is here so we could have a lecture too, every now and then.

Not only lectures, but there's much more to be done, stuff that I'm not thinking about right now. I would go to debates, to lunches with IOs taff. What else? Suggestions?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Public Secret

I often wonder if there's something everybody else knows but me. Like you never wear white socks outside of a gymnasium (this, I know). Or that one should always give his seat to an old lady (I know this too, but most don't). Or what is the meaning of WGGFT (I have no clue).

You know, Jamie, the guy who can't stop talking about his CD collection? Or Carla, the girl with dirty hair? It's very likely that nobody ever told them. It's obvious to everyone, it's part of who they are, but they just don't know. What's your public secret? If you think you had it easy with your stinky t-shirt or that people are very patient when you talk about yourself, think again.

Lift me up

I feel better. The outcome of the US election has sinked in, weather is better, I've been a bit more productive and the relationship is back on track. I'm not as annoyed by my financial situation and I realise I can save if I want to. And I just read about a man who has brain cancer.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Unlikely Underdog

Surprisingly enough for a reasonable person, I suddenly feel energised by the re-election of George W. Bush.

Of course, I still think it's bad news in the sort term. But I feel more will than ever to fight what has led to this outcome. I don't want to please those who can't stand homosexuality and racial difference, those who promote large inequality and intolerance. They're plain wrong and they need to be told. They want to shout names, to despise, so be it. But they're still wrong and we shall be standing against the wind to tell them. In the name of reason, in the name of humanity, on the name of intelligence, there is an uphill battle to be fought in the United States.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The country of the second chance

For some reason, I want to be optimist about this second Bush mandate. Maybe he won't be that bad. Maybe he's not that evil after all. I'm willing to give him a second chance. Wait and see.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Get it straight from the horse's mouth

So, the media are liberal in the US? I can't believe this is used as an argument by the conservatices.

I think you can learn by looking at a party's supporters. So what if the media are liberal? They are very well-informed people covering public affairs and politics who happen to think that the Republican way is not the only American way.


The US election has been my lowest point since I'm here. Not because of what is still just a "likely result" - Bush - but because I couldn't watch it. After following the democratic primaries and the campaign on a daily basis with obsession, I had to sleep the election night away. No television and no Internet access at home. I feel isolated and frustrated. I'm missing comfort I take for grated at home. Going home yesterday, around midnight, I swore about ten times thinking I was going to be for the 7 decisive hours to come. But how could I realistically stay up anyway? I won't be able to make it and I have to go to work on the following day. All my workarounds, my potential solutions to watch to election weren't passing the reality test. One more swear.

The potential result doesn't cheer me up anyway. I can hardly believe a single person would cast a vote for him, let alone a majority of Americans. Deficits, tax cuts for the wealthy, lack of medical coverage, Supreme Court... There's so much more in this election than Iraq.

Money is also an issue, here. I'm living on almost nothing in the worst conditions for the last, what, 9 years and still, I'm out of money. I knew it when I was coming here, but I wasn't living it. There isn't much you can do to cheer you up without money. You pass on invitations, you avoid restaurants and nights out - which include most social gatherings. You depend on the reliability of what you already own - if something breaks, you're screwed. First, you stop buying stuff, then you cut into the groceries. I think I haven't consciously cut into the groceries to save money since I was twenty. That's pretty sad.

It makes you think about what it is being poor. From the outside, we can consider restaurants, nights out, travels, and new clothes as luxuries. But they are what makes you part of society. Without the means to get involved in social interactions, how can you create and sustain a network? At least, I'm not there yet, but I'm having a sight of it. Not pretty.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

What's falling on me?

I've always thought that one could entertain the joys of darkness - cosy interiors, long dinners, night out - as much as those of light - day at the beach, picninc, early mornings. But this fall, I'm not so sure anymore.