Sarkozy: “Not Getting the Internet” in The Language of Molière


Anglo-Normans find a common gestural language in this rough equivalent to the Italo-Brazilian figa.

Nicolas Sarkozy gets eyeballed by an uncomprehending Heiko Hebig: at a Dec. 12 event, the Chirac minister of State Nicolas Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa says things that Heiko, with his excellent Finnish English and German but no Romance languages, does not understand.

Nicolas Sarkozy said a lot of smart things – or so I was told. My French sucks and I have to believe my sources. Too bad though he didn’t even try to address the audience (coming from 30+ countries) in English, not even a greeting. And he didn’t answer any quesions from the audience either.

The French can be obnoxious that way. In fact, a lot of people in the world can be obnoxious about insisting that “If you want to do business on my turf, show a little willingness to talk my talk.”

Related: LePolitics3

I have no idea what that is supposed to be, a banner satirizing some kind of WEF-tied blogging industry junket, called LeWeb3.

Informs the Parisist,

The blogosphere is still buzzing about Tuesday’s surprising and controversial change of program… the appearance of presidential candidates François Bayrou and (organizer Loïc Le Meur’s choice) Nicolas Sarkozy at leWeb3 (pictured). It seems that attendees spent 300-500 euros for an international Web conference that turned into a French political rally, and according to their blogs, they’re not happy.

Blog entrepreneur LeMeur is one of the Six Apart mob and a World Economic Forum starfucker buddy of McKinnon’s, of course, who in turn hangs out, it seems, with Howard Dean’s chief blogging officer and a bunch of ex-USAID types. …

The very idea of LeWeb is bound to piss off the linguistic purists among the rowdy Quebec Livre blogging crowd, who will arm-wrestle you to the death over le blogue vs. carnet, on the principle of

If we have a perfectly good word for it ourselves, why use somebody else’s?

A debate that, as I have said, has far more serious implications for the intellectual property wars than you might first think.

But it certainly does slap you right in the face with the issue of linguistic difference, does it not? We can say that with confidence.

On which topic one of the most witty and winning works I know of is by Shoshana Felman, which I remember reading, back in the late 1980s, as The Literary Speech-Act (or, La Scandale du Corps Parlant).

Update: David Weinberger (who is on stage presenting right now) says:

But which NMM’s favorite kinder, gentler devotee of Martin Heidegger — whose “The Origins of the Work of Art” is one of the deepest pieces of willful nonsense I have ever read — David Weinberg of the Berkman Center for the Intel-Inside Society, claims not to have liked, scowling,

I feel like i’ve been lectured by a guy who has no actual understanding of the Internet.

Whenever a Berkmanite starts complaining that people working at cross-purposes to Jim Moore’s Second Superpower “just don’t get it,” I am immediately curious as to what that person might have said.

Because given how little sense those people make — on purpose, most of the time, it seems — it might well be interesting.

Or — given that we are, after all, dealing with a slimy politician with a track record of urban chaos to his credit — not interesting, to an interesting degree and in interesting ways.

Which is why I would have liked it if Heiko linked to the Sarkozy text.

But let’s see.

Dueling noise machines can be useful in the subtle art of writing wetware bullshit detection algorithms, as an acoustic engineer friend of mine was telling me recently.

Shameless cheat sheet to French words I have forgotten in the meantime kindly provided by WordReference.com.

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I Told You So: Rohter Simplifies the Plot Pra Inglês Ver


James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, may be gone, but the Grey Lady’s man in Rio is the King of Comic-Book Infotainment.

19 Are Killed as Drug Gangs Conduct Attacks in Brazil (Larry Rohter, New York Times).

Not a single hint, in the base of the inverted pyramid, at (1) the potentially multilateral nature of the current conflict, (2) the potential and even likely post hoc ergo propter hoc factor, in view of recent highly public developments, or (3) the question marks that still hover over who exactly is fighting who here, or why.

Yes, I know, I know: (1) and (3) are basically ways of saying the same thing. One has the instinct to round out a Folkloric Three, but it sometimes does not work out right.

For one possible antecedent to the current situation, see my lazy little roundup of The Bobo-Globo Journalistic Messiah Sells Out to the One-Armed Bandit King Gangbusters incident.

No, no. In Mr. Rohter’s neighborhood, this is strictly Star Wars: The Evil Drug Empire Strikes Back.

Which sucks even harder than the recently released film Casino Royale, which at least does not pretend not to be a work of fiction.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec. 28 — Heavily armed drug gangs unleashed a wave of attacks on police stations and public roads here early on Thursday, and at least 19 people were killed in the confrontations.

If the CIA had invaded Afghanistan with the stupid idea that every evil bearded motherfucker with a couple of tanks and about a gazillion AK-47s must be on the same side, they would have never have been able to broker the 10th Mountain Division to within striking distance of Osama as efficiently as they did.

Only to fail on fourth and goal.

Seven died in a single incident, a predawn assault on an interstate bus bound for São Paulo. Survivors said that about eight armed men stopped and boarded the bus, robbed those aboard and then set fire to it before the 28 passengers could get off.

Which according to Maia was clearly not part of the plan, which must be viewed with lenses that correct for the usual fog of war, including stoned low-level employees and copycat attacks.

I am not saying Maia’s is the correct analysis, but to start with, the guy is mayor of the freaking city, and has given ample evidence in the past that he actually does show up to work every day.

Besides, Maia does actually show his work, as to how he arrived at the conclusion.

Which means you could do your job, as a “reporter,” Larry, and go check it out, at least.

As it is, all you get have here is the view from an outgoing state government that very likely fears that its sleazier dealings are going to be laid out for the public in the near future, and pointedly not from a city government whose leader has made plain that it is a bitter political enemy of the Garotinho Tag-Team State.

At least eight police stations and street posts were also reported to have been attacked by gangs with grenades and machine guns. The dead included not only criminals and police officers involved in the shootouts, but also street vendors, pedestrians and people filing complaints at police stations.

Again: What about the theory that this is actually a matter of the anti-Traffic protection rackets muscling in on the official protection rackets, i.e., the police? Does it hold water, or not?

Confrontations between the military police and gangs [how are we telling the difference again? In this game, which moves as you play it, please understand this, the color of the uniform does not tell you what side the players are on –Ed.] continued throughout the day. Police units sent [by whom? Or did they send themselves, as some reports are suggesting?] into at least a dozen of the squatter slums in the hills overlooking the city were met with armed resistance, and a shootout that disrupted car traffic on a main street in a working-class neighborhood was also reported.

And a lot of other troop movements shown on TV that I could not keep track of, but was hoping that the professional press would keep track of for me.

Like BOPE on foot in the Zona Sul tunnels, armed like LERP patrols on the Alien vs. Predator planet.

That is all I have time for at the moment, but this time I am really going to write a serious, detailed letter of complaint to the Times Public Editor — as I have in the past, with little effect.

Becaus here is where the Associated Press Stylebook states very clearly you have to give a reporter a red card for failure to commun’cate.

Brazilian news organizations said the wave of violence was meant as a warning to the new governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral. Elected in October after a hard-hitting campaign in which crime, drugs and public insecurity were the principal issues, Mr. Cabral takes office on Monday.

Which Brazilian “news organizations”?

Apparently, only the “news organizations” that attended the same press conference as Rohter and did nothing else to follow up other potential angles on the story.  The Novo Lacerdas, in other words.

And as a warning from whom? To whom?

One of Mr. Cabral’s other platform planks, after all, was to get the freaking Military Police, elements of which are world-famous for their human rights abuses, corruption and extrajudicial executions of innocent people, under control.

So who is sending the warning here?

If you are merely going to crib from local coverage rather than go out and cover what is happening, after all, in your own back yard — Rohter has an apartment in Copacabana — you must at least say what those local press sources were.

Because some local press sources are more reliable than others.

But see also Flexibilizing Infodensity, on the Times Public Editor’s recent arguments in favor of “a more realistic” policy on sourcing of factual reporting.

Still, surely, if you merely read these analyses in publications available on your local newsstand, this is not an exceptional case in which you arguably have to grant those sources anonymity, is it?

I note that Rohter interviews almost the exact same set of sources as Reuters, by the way.

What, is he sleeping with that Reuters stringer now? Are they freaking Siamese twins?

My reading still has not given me enough information as to what teams are playing, and for what.

But the credible sources I read all seem to be betting that this is emphatically not The Plan Colombia New Year’s Day Rose Bowl.

With teams selected by committee rather than through single-elimination tournament play.

The more apt metaphor might well be that we are in a kind of Sweet Sixteen as a new political order gets ready to come down.

Speaking of which, the neighborhood lesbian soccer team is coming over shortly for our traditional holiday match.

I am volunteering to serve as the crooked Italian soccer ref.

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OCAS on the Hollow Men: An Anti-Popcorn Manifesto


A scene from Sergio Bianchi’s searing Quanto vale ou é por quilo (How much for that one, or do they sell it by pound?)

Despite what these people preach, there is no such thing as a corporate citizen. Citizenship is an exclusive right and responsibility of human individuals. For this reason, responsible individual action is required to guarantee what some call “corporate social responsibility.” If the employees and managers of a firm do not behave ethically, and if other citizens do not assume a disciplinary role, “corporate social responsibility” remains a mere rhetorical flourish.

Quite a direct challenge to the whole premise of The Business Civil Liberties Union, is it not?

Not that I would reflexively argue that businesses lack civil liberties, mind you.

The idea here is to decide, in detail, the points at which the rights and responsibilities of “legal-fictional persons” and “physical persons” can and do overlap, and to what extent they cannot and do not.

(I always thought, myself, naively, perhaps, for example, that a well-run class-action torts system did a pretty decent job of maintaining that balance.

But apparently the margin of the Bush victory in Florida in 2000 means that the vast majority of my fellow citizens disagree with me. )

A question which, given that human rights are fundamental and cannot merely be reduced to economic rights — not that economic rights are not fundamental as well, and worthy of protection — I simply cannot understand how the law and economics school can offer any meaningful insight to intellectually honest protagonists of this debate.

I bought a copy of OCAS magazine the other day because I always do — I checked into their stated business model quite a bit, though not rigorously, and found no violations of the USDA bullshit content standard — because I think it is quite an interesting and informative example of another approach to responsible advocacy journalism.

In this issue, for example, Cristina Sales of the blog Communication and Citizenship, who works as a consultant to NGOs and “social movements,” takes a remarkably clear-eyed view of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Brazil, and its discontents.

Note that unlike Mr. Murilo of GVO and the MinC, Ms. Sales’ disclosure of her academic affiliations, business relationships, and outside activities appears to provide relatively complete information.

I am not finding from a random Googling — with the proper caveats attached as to the limits of that method of investigation — that Ms. Sales has omitted anything important from her accounting. I mean, I guess I can dispense with the knowledge that she bowls in a Friday night league — unless, of course, Zé Dirceu is on the same team.

And who knows but that, as on any well-run bowling team, they do not adhere to the strict prohibition on talking business?

And I bet you I can get a formal resume out of her about ten times as fast as I can from Murilo, for instance, although I am waiting to try it until after the holiday.

And I could, of course, be mistaken.

As always and ever, that being the freaking human condition in the Gospel According to That Supreme Brooklyn Bitch-Goddess, The Zeitgeist.

I translate, as fast as I can type, as usual, in an unauthorized and totally irresponsible manner, from the paper edition propped up here beside my morning coffee.

A lot of Brazilians hope and expect that private enterprise will get directly involved in the solution of such social problems as criminality, poverty and low levels of basic education. This expectation was declared by 88% of Brazilians interviewed for a study titled “Corporate Social Responsibility: Brazilian Consumer Perceptions, 2005,” published recently by the Ethos Institute, Akatu and the polling firm Market Analysis. …

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The Naked Maia Vs. Reuters In the Land of the Vigilante Consumer of Public Security Services

I have now read fairly deeply into three accounts of what is happening in Rio de Janeiro right now, as heavily armed employees of the bazaar of violence focus like a laser beam on public security insfrastructure, right before the vast New Year’s Celebration on the Green Zone beaches of Copacabana and (to a lesser extent) Ipanema.

Hundreds of thousands to millions ready to float out their offerings out to Iêmanjá in a Guanabara Bay in which Bill Gates’ yacht, Octopus, lies anchored. The photo op of the year. Don’t miss it.

[Neuza lately has been saying that she thinks I may be as much a son of Iansã (Santa Barbara, goddess of fresh water and lightning storms) as I am of the Enigmatic Mermaid.]

Three versions, from

  1. Reuters, from
  2. Mayor Maia on his ex-blog, and from
  3. Wálter Fanganiello Maierovitch — yes, that is his name; the great gaúcho writer Moacyr Scliar can explain to you, beautifully, how that sort of “kosher pizzeria, with bocce court, in the shtetl” thing works here in Brazil  — the “spies and mafia” columnist for Carta Capital magazine,

WFM, whose boss, Mino Carta, a transplanted Italian — as a man who frequents a traditional barbershop with a huge shrine in it to Adoniran Barbosa, let me school you someday on transplanted Italians; though I am not, of course, the compleat expert on the subject, I do sleep with one every night, after all, and dine around a Felliniesque table with hordes of them — who founded a number of the country’s most important newsweeklies over the last several decades, was named Brazilian journalist of the year recently by the foreign correspondent’s association here.

To which freelancers need not apply, by the way.

Or so I understand. Let me check that.
One assumes that the Grey Lady and the WaPo voted otherwise, or annuled their vote.

The key question to start with, it seems to me — though we may have to refine the question as the facts emerge, is this: Is this (1) a war between the forces of ordem e progresso and the Forum of São Paulo — which, as Sen. Bornhausen insisted during the elections, conspired with the drug lords of the PCC during the last elections to undermine Geraldo “Master of Journalism” Alckmin — or (2) a war between the Comando Vermelho and the Comando Azul, which is what the folks in Rio call the crooked cops who run death squads and serve as cover for various flavors of Mafiadom.

Or is it (3) something else entirely?

Which I tend to think of as the “freakonomics” hypothesis.

And it is gaining mindshare in the NMMDEX by the hour.

One very interesting suggestion in the air is that what we are actually seeing, behind the facades of the Potemkin Village, is a war of mafias with modern business principles, as it were, against a drug traffic whose business model they do not consider sustainable in the long term.

Related factoid: The PCC buys heavily into the gasoline station market in the Zona Leste of São Paulo — and even, one hears, promises to put an end to the fuel adulteration mafias, who water down gas and gasohol stocks to skim money off the top.

Texas Hold-em Style Animal Fable Illustration of the Principle at Work

Have you ever heard the joke about the old bull and the young bull, standing at the top of the hill looking and down on a herd of sexy young cows?

“Let’s run down there and get us one of them cows!” says the young bull.

“Son,” drawls, the old bull, “let’s stroll down there all casual-like and get all of them cows.”

That is what we are talking about here.

Downmarket Demand for Security & Stability: A Wal-Mart Emerges from the Shadows?

The most interesting assertion in Mayor Maia’s analysis being that corrupt elements of the military and civil police, and their political backers, may be at war with a vigilante protection racket — Mr. Maierovitch points out its similarities to the pizzo rackets of the ‘Ndrangheta — that has arisen to compete with the traffickers in the shantytowns, and maybe even have aligned itself strategically, in the short term, with police elements looking to weed the ranks of Comando Azul elements.

Mr. Maia suggests that such an alliance would be “natural,” in fact.

The Reuters account, I think, we can almost immediately discard as a useless confabulation, trying to convince us that what we have here is some kind of old-fashioned Plan Colombia scenario.

As far as I can see, Reuters relies almost entirely on sources aligned with and covering for the current governmor, Mrs. Garotinho, who spin a Manichaean fairy tale about what the situation means, pra inglês ver.

The account from Mr. Maia, a heartfelt political enemy of the Garotinhos, who is not very shy about telling you that, tells a very different story.

And Maierovitch at least begins to articulate a third point of view, staking out a perspective, he wants us to believe, outside of that bitter political rivalry. With some credibility, too, because although Mr. WFM is not infallible as a reporter, he is generally not too full of shit, either, or even very often. If at all.

According to the spot checks we have run so far. Continuing to test and backtest.

Let me gist this for you.

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On Rio Rabble Roused, Reuters Rounds Up the Usual Suspects


Unlike the Confucian yin and the yang, in the Manichaean fairy tales spun by Reuters, the Dark Side of the Force does not interpenetrate with the Bright Side. It merely infiltrates it. 

Global Guerrillas | When will Brazil’s Gangs Make the Jump? looks at the recent violence in Rio — but only through the lense of Reuters reporters here.

Whom I would not trust to give me directions to the nearest public restroom.

Sorry. But there it is.

Because they are likely to send me to a mobbed-up public-private initiative from which they themselves get a cut for every customer referred.

Reuters seems to have fallen into the nasty habit of employing local flacks with personal agendas and, um, complex extracurricular “social change agency” commitments, shall we say, as “foreign correspondents.”

Stated reasons for these Rio attacks include the election of Sergio Cabral to the governorship of the state on a security platform and pressure from rival vigilante militias that are now in a contest with the drug gangs for control of the street and the economic (these militias charge residents and businesses for protection) power that confers: “It’s a fight for economic power… The militias exist, they are the fourth major gang in the state,” (Asterio) Pereira (Rio state penitentiary chief) said (Reuters).

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Orkut, Excel and the Antichrist: A Coin-Operated Tábua


How to get a driver’s license, how to get on Orkut, how to work with MP3s, how to work with Microsoft Excel, how to lose that hick accent and join the human race, Nietzche’s The Antichrist: All $R5 (US$2.34) titles in the book vending machines in the São Paulo subway system. Beyond Good & Evil is also on offer. Each title is shrinkwrapped with a coin visible. As, what, a kind of cashback incentive? Umbanda? Candomblé? Pajé-lança? Tabuleiro da Baiana? I never quite have understood that. Though priced to move, these items generally don’t, I observe.

We took a stroll near the Galeria de Rock in downtown São Paulo today. This is an amazing culture marketplace: a high-rise shopping mall with one musical genre per floor, and occasional low-intensity warfare among adherents of the genres.

Neuza always gets very nervous and will not let me film down there, or else I would have snapped some of the folks selling packaged music for MP3 players. And other wild stuff. Saturdays, the periferia — the manos and the minas — occupies the centro, and there is not a cop in sight.

A personal experience translated into one of her short stories explains why Neuza gets nervous, though I find the place utterly fascinating from a freakonomics point of view.

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007 카지노로얄


Augusto Paixão, “hunky movie star and prophet of the
sertões,” part of an exhibition of Olinda-style big fat carnival heads in the São Paulo Metrô at the moment. I will explain big fat carnival heads to you sometime. Pretty interesting, actually. Augusto’s shades are made from Chevy hubcaps. The NMMist likes to wander around and snap street art. São Paulo is a fabulous city for this purpose.

007 카지노로얄: We went to see Casino Royale at the PlayArte, a cineplex in a shopping center on the Av. Paulista across from the headquarters of Banco Itaú.

At R$15 (US$7) a ticket, it cost us about 4.3% of a monthly minimum salary here in Brazil — 8.6% for the both of us, and 17.2% for the average family of four that the minimum salary is designed to support in decent shape.

The outrageous $10.50 we pay in New York City, as we rapidly mentally calculate, is a little over 1% of the equivalent income in the States. And given that a vast number of Brazilian workers make half a minimum salary …

The print and the projection were about the same quality as those educational films your teacher showed you in elementary school. I am not sure, but I think they stretched the image slightly to fit the non-standard dimensions of the screen.

The mono sound — and this is an auditorium that looked to be ostentatiously rigged up for HyperDolby SuperSurround — was so tubby and booming that I actually had to read the Portuguese subtitles to make out the dialogue. Not that I need to have bothered.

The film itself is basically a feature-length commercial for (1) Sony consumer electronics, most especially Sony Vaio laptops, Sony Ericcson cell phones and some kind of Blackberry-like handheld device with an iPod lookand feel to it, and (2) the latest in military-grade assault weapons.

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