Friday, March 28, 2008

On another note, there was afterwards a documentary on Arte, the cultural TV channel (very good one too) about women's pornography, made by women, women's perception of it, etcetera, which was quite to the point.
Pornography doesn't cater to women; in general, our image in it is humiliating and completely opposite to reality. Problem is, pornography is shaping people's sexual lives more and more. There was a study a few years ago that showed that something like half of a class of twelve years olds had already seen pronographc images, which isn't very reassuring.
Now, France is, I think, quite open about sex. A president would never be questioned about his extramarital relationships, as was the case for Clinton, because people just don't see how it would impair his capacities to govern. Even to the contrary, a politician without charm often doesn't last long. Everyone knows about Chirac's and Miterrand's affairs. As to Sarkozy, you jus don't know where to start.
I think that the pleasures of life are more valued here than in some other countries. And we can get on without the guilt that is more inherent to anglosaxon countries (my mother's opinion, who tells me that I was lucky to have been raised in France).
She has a point. I'd take the example of the States because religion is very important there. You'd never see sexual education programs here talking ONLY about abstinence, as there are there. Or people pushing their children to stay abstinent until marriage.
Now, those beliefs are all very good, but here religion and all that is part of the private sphere. Believe in what you want, as long as you don't bother the rest of us with it.
One of my teachers once told us about how when he fell ill in the US, he had to go to hospital, and had to give his religion to determine to which hospital he'd be sent to, a protestant or a catholic one. He was finally sent to a Catholic hospital because he was french.
Now, if you set that question to me or the greater majority of my friends, we'd be stumped, because the majority of people I know are atheist. I think I know about two people who believe in God, and they consider it to be their own business.
And even so, they don't believe in waiting until marriage.
I'd probably live up to a French woman's reputation of sluttiness in anglosaxon countries, as would most of my friends, because basically sex isn't that important. It's just fun. If you want a one-night-stand, then why not? As long as it's expressed clearly. If you want to hold out for a serious relationship, then do so. It's up to you. And none of us would accept anyone trying to make us guilty about it.
Note to Anglosaxon guys : please learn another sentence in french than "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir". It doesn't work like that^^ Although it's priceless when you don't know what it means, and we get to explain.
Last night on TV there was a very interesting debate about the Olympic games and Tibet, with the Chinese Ambassador Qu Xing, Rama Yade, secretary of state to human rights (that would be the translation from the french) Alain Duhamel, a well-known political commentator, Laurent Fabius, socialist heavyweight and former PM, the editor of Libération, a eft-leaning newspaper, and another guy whose name i've forgotten.
Qu Xing compared the incidents in Tibet to riots in Villiers-Le-Bel a few months back, where after an accident between a police car and one of those stupid mini motorbikes the two kids on the motorbike died (how they both managed to fit on the thing is behond my understanding), which started riots in which kids from the suburbs stoned, shot at, and basically attacked policemen.
Now, this comparison isn't really relevant; as I recall Villiers-Le-Bel has something like 26000 inhabitants and it was a bunch of angry kids who were doing the attacking.
I guess that's how Qu Xing saw it; citizens disobeying the law, nothing more. Thing is, those kids weren't asking for autonomy, and apart from those two poor kinds on the bike and a cop i think, no-one died.
Anyway, they went on about boycott for a while; today there's a meeting between european ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Rama Yade was lambasted because she refused to say clearly whether Bernard Kouchner, our minister, was going to propose boycott if the situation didn't sort itself out. She actually is one of the most useless people in government because she's never allowed to do anything;when Sarkozy went to China, he didn't even let her come. Probably afraid she'd create tensions, she's suposed to be outspoken and frank. Which doesn't stop her from evading questions she doesn't want to answer, like all politicians.
And it's been said that Angela Merkel, the german chancellor, won't be attending the opening ceremony of the Games.
All in all, a very interesting program.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Back in the flat, roommate gone to the gym, i have work to do but it's hard to get started.
At least i got my application form for the HSK sorted out. And I have presentations to sort out...thankfully the China-Taiwan relations went pretty well, now i just have to wait and see if my tutor accepts the subject i submitted, which is about a website to help european workers, in correlation with the other report I have to give in, about the mobility of european workers. basically.
Both are a pain, and if not accepted I can't start; and for the second one, I have to ferret out my tutor and the friend I'm doing it with, since for the moment we're going nowhere.
Anyway, i'll be glad when all this is over and I can finally bugger off to China for a month :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tibet again

situation not evolving, really.
Here there is a starting to be a call for a boycott of the Games.
Apparently 53% of the french are in favour of Sarkozy boycotting the opening ceremony of the Games, not the competitions. (well, yes, it'd be a shame not to win a few medals, wouldn't it :D)
interesting position though; a token boycott, just the opening ceremony.
55% of the population does not want the athletes to boycott the games; and 71% thinks that the Olympic Committee should meddle in human rights, although its president, Jacques Rogge, has been saying that it isn't the Committee's purpose, and a number of political figures, such as george Bush, have opposed the boycott on the ground that the Games aren't political, but are just a sporting event.
Which is slightly naive, especially after the USA's call to boycott the 1980's Olympics in Moscow after the invasion of Afghanistan. Which, according to Vladimir Federovski, aide to Mikhail Gorbachev, had some slight use.
We've had to listen to Bernard-henri Levy's usual flowery indignation (french left-wing philosopher and writer); Robert Ménard, head of Reporters sans Frontières (reporters without borders) has been calling for a boycott for months to protest against China's imprisonment of journalists; well, let's say he's on overdrive at the moment.
The reelected mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, thinks that a boycott isn't the solution, but that something has to be done. Not hearing any proposals though.
From what I've heard, boycott isn't a popular solution in most of Europe; Britain is against it, but that might also be because they're hosting the Games in 2012 and fear a backlash; on the other hand, Gordon Brown should be seeing the Dalai Lama in the coming days or weeks.
Yes, populations are in favour of boycotting (like in Sweden, 70% of the population) but governements, athletes, national olympic committees are opposed to it.
The question is : would a boycott make China change it ways? Or would it drive the country into isolation and make enemies out of the chinese people who are very proud to be hosting these Games?
I don't think China will change because a bunch of jumped-up foreigners didn't come. And yet something needs to be done.
The problem is, China seems to see the West as wanting to smear China, which is practical since then anything said against China can be cast off as gratuitous.
Like Nancy Pelosi, who the Chinese accused of being muddled and habitually bad-tempered. ( a reason for her comments, which didn't agree with them of course)
Rather unfair, and terribly sexist. But that's a whole other story.
I'm betting there won't be a boycott. The Olympics are in five months; that gives China ample time to smooth things over.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Being part of the younger section of the population, it being Sunday night and tomorrow a day off, and just about everyone including me is back to see the family, there is a 99% probability the best friend will be along in approximatively an hour so we can toddle off to find more friends.
Although some of the friends are not in the best of states, one dealing with anorexia and the other with depression, it should be fun.
Happily MC, my lovely lovely depressed friend is taking happy pills and is a lot better.
I'm scared shitless of the things myselves, but that might be because of a stressed-out nature and a tendency to rely on routine if I panic. Although things I've been fine for the last couple of years, ever since i moved out really.
In any case, MC is the crush of a boyfriend-turned-friend, so unfortunately I have been charged of "helping things along". I'd love to; problem is, the BTF is acting like a girl, and MC has to be the shyest being in creation. And probably the most adorable, which gets her out of having to go towards people; they always go to her. Myself included.
Ach well, we shall see.
It's always funny to watch MC's romances play out; it's been one of my favourite occupations for about five years. Better than any movie, although she'd probably have a fit if i put it to her like this.
Or not, being used to my ways.
Well,the best friend is on her way.I'd better scoot.

Back home

Well, after going on about Tibet, I can come back to the country where i currently reside (and have done so for a wee while now), that is, France.
Our very own Dear leader, Sarkozy, has decided he needed to monitor what was said about him on the internet, mainly to "counterattack agaisnt false rumours" etcetera, which Versac, an influential french blogger, talks about in detail.
The problem being that a lot of the rumours are true, and he'd have been very happy if the internet hadn't picked up some of his more recent outbursts. Which do make for funny footage, but make me wonder if we are not led by an idiot.
Let's say that from the love affair that was his election, things have been going downhill ever since.
Between divorce, marriage, expensive holidays, model girlfriends, sliding purchasing power (if someone has a better expression please do give it, I've always studied economics in french) his common bumblings and insulting a senior citizen (let's use the PC term, n'est-ce pas) at the agriculture Salon, his real self came out : crass, vulgar, insecure, angry. Charming.
It's not quite what the country is used to.
I guess we'll be told that it's good, that we're coming out of the rule of austere presidents, blabla.
It always makes me laugh when Chirac is called austere, because he was(and is) somewhat of a bon vivant , who managed to, let's say, live up to the dignity of his function.
And for the short story, when someone yelled "connard" (jerk, dumbass,moron,dick, take your pick)at him one Sunday morning during his presidency, his answer was "enchanté, I am Jacques Chirac" which denotes a sense of humour. As to Miterrand insulted, he only deigned tell his assailant that the rhyming of his insult was poor. Something altogether different.

The problem being that Sarkozy brings out one showy idea after another, creates a whole debate which actually leads away from the real problem, the idea is abandoned, he goes on to something else. Like that crazy idea of having 10 year olds "carry the memory of a child dead during the Shoah". Now, no-one knew how, to start off with, and the idea was crazy; it was also given up a few weeks ago. And no-one addresses the problems in education, apart from cutting the numer of teachers, which might not be the way to save french education.
Which isn't so bad, I suppose, i benefited greatly from it, but there are problems. As in the whole country.
Strangely enough, I don't think they'll be solved anytime soon.

By the Way

Happy Easter!


As a first post on an unknown blog, I suppose i could choose easier than the situation in Tibet.
Problem is, it is bugging me at the moment. So I shall have a short rant.
I won't presume I'm very well-informed on the subject, but as a student of chinese and China it holds a personal interest.
Shuang, my mainland chinese fwend (definitely not to be mistaken with the taiwanese students hanging around in our classes, especially since she nearly had a full-blown argument with one of them Thursday) came out with a terribly subversive stance earlier: "the situation is very grave and western media is deforming the truth". She didn't go as far as to say that it was because we all hated China; on the other hand we are in France, studying in a State university with a fair number of chinese students(and students learning chinese), so it might've been slightly paradoxal. Although, leaving aside the fact that she loves her country, she's not usually quite so nationalistic, and is a lot more perceptive.
Some things, like Tibet and Taiwan, seem there just to drive China crazy, it would be quite entertaining if people's lives weren't at stake.
So last week Shuang, I and a couple of friends had a presentation to do in our geopolitics class on the relations between China and Taiwan, which was pretty fascinating, and i think some of the conclusions we came up with can be transposed to Tibet.(is transposed actually used in English?I've lived in France too long)
The crux of the matter was this obsessive idea of China's of becoming a major power in this world; behind all this there seems to be this idea that as long as China is divided (so, missing Taiwan, or dissent in Tibet)the country isn't a major power, and so isn't safe.
Could also be behind the urge to get Hong Kong and Macau back.
On the other hand, as a french journalist was going on on TV a few nights ago, the world is afraid of China, underneath it all.
Just look at the US; China holds the largest amount of what's their names,US bonds;the US economy is shaky enough at the moment, thanks to some brilliant bankers who initiated that subprime mortgage crisis.
I can only give my own opinion here, and it would be that China is going to lose a lot out of this.
I also think the international community should agree on some kind of pressure to stop this. It's just not acceptable that the world stands by while people are dying before our very eyes. Yes, we need China, but China also needs us; and i don't think we're doing ourselves a favour by putting out that this repression is acceptable.
I can only hope the chinese government will accept the Dalai Lama's calls for peace and negotiations. How they can go on insulting him when he has always advocated peace, and then accuse the western media of trying to smear China, is beyond my understanding.
And the cat is trying to use my keyboard as a bathroom.Fitting.