Dec 29, 2011

Fundamentalism in trouble (Dirk)

And while we are at it, lets reminisce: We are driving across the US, as usual, have spent the previous night in a hotel in Wyoming where the Gideon Bible is an accessory to every night table, have read the Genesis chapter, have crossed into the God-fearing state of South Dakota, and are driving past a evangelical billboard saying: "Noah planned ahead.." (the import being that you should plan ahead, too, etc). Well, no, Noah did not plan ahead. He was ordered by God to build the arc.

One of the tricks of today's American fundamentalists is their illiteracy; they have, in fact, not read the Bible.

Dec 26, 2011

And now for our final, and definitive Christmas post (Jacki)

(We performed it on Christmas eve 1985 during our visiting stint at the Rockefeller College, SUNY, Albany to rave reviews from a disoriented faculty)

Dec 25, 2011

We wish you a happy X-mas

When we entered la bonne bourgeoisie in 2003 by buying our house here on the coast, we learned a lot about the world, including the world of X-mas cards. Such cards are sent across social networks to maintain ties by exploiting the pivotal holiday occasion, and then exhibited proudly near the entrance of one's dwelling for all visitors to see. Obviously, one's social status is related to the quantity of cards on display, as well as their quality (cards can cost up to 20£$€, and look the part).  But quantity --- as the philosopher would say --- converts ("schlägt um") to ("in") quality, and it's not necessarily the other way round, in particular since visitors are not supposed to inspect cards too closely (privacy). Am I making this sound very French?

Sheraton sécretaire in the hall

The first year, we received ca. 10 cards. Since we were new to the game, we didn't write any. That didn't keep the cards from coming. Their numbers grew, and we wrote back. Our best year was 2007, when we were able to over-decorate the pretty sécretaire in the hall (a Sheraton replica) with more than 25 cards, although it was already clear that we would never make the cut of the better society here on the hill. @ some neighbo(u)rs the cards would overload the table in the hall (we are the only ones with a Sheraton replica, but it doesn't matter, nobody else here has ever heard of the guy, and I wouldn't raise the issue if not Alan Hollinghurst had mentioned the Regency éboniste in his first and absolutely oversexed gay novel The Swimmingpool Library), enfin, @ our neighbo(u)rs the cards would overload the table in the hall --- and additional auxiliary furniture --- summing up to a total of 200, or 300 X-mas greetings.

To repeat, it was clear that we would never reach the exalted station of 300 cards, but we were entering the year 2008, and candidate Obama was winning the presidential elections with, yes, what was it, something about HOPE. The card numbers were growing, and the trend is your friend, as they say on Wall Street.

Come Christmas 2008. I am not going to elaborate about my peeking out of the door in merry expectation of the card-carrying postwoman ("facteur"), as lesser bloggers would. Bref, there were fewer cards. We blamed it on Wall Street and the crisis. But 2009 wasn't better. And 2010, when the crisis had abated, the card number had shrunken to 2003 values, around 10.

Doris (picture taken by her husband, Dirk (yes, the Dirk) ca. 1968)
A trend is a trend unless reversed, as they say on Wall Street. Today, one day before Christmas, we may expect the X-mas card business to have plateaued. Cards are sent early, it's too late for more. Time for the final count. How are we doing this year? We received 2  ("two") cards, both from the same person (Doris, also a neighbor, and she does not have a computer).

How is this going to end? Will we drop out of the world? Will the numbers turn negative next year? "Why can't we live together in peace?" (Jack Nicholson, as American president, in Mars Attacks).

It's the internet, stupid, I hear Bill Clinton say, who has possibly received 100,000 cards.

Find a caption

Dec 20, 2011

Ordinateur (French for beginners) (Vincent)

The "urban word" of today, Computer, is defined as a "machine for downloading porn."

And, by sheer coincidence, Vincent sends this:

Une enseignante francophone expliquait à sa classe que dans la langue française, les noms, contrairement à l'anglais, sont désignés au masculin et au féminin. Par exemple : maison est féminin.. une maison ; crayon par contre, est masculin...un crayon.

Un élève demanda à l'enseignante de quel genre est donc le nom ordinateur [computer].

Au lieu de donner la réponse, l'enseignante a séparé la classe en deux groupes, garçons et filles, leur demandant de décider d'eux-mêmes si ordinateur est masculin ou féminin. Elle a demandé à chaque groupe de donner quatre bonnes raisons pour appuyer sa recommandation.

Les garçons ont décidé à l'unanimité que "ordinateur" est effectivement du genre féminin (une ordinateur) parce que:

1. Personne d'autre que son créateur ne comprend sa logique intérieure;
2. Le langage de base que les ordinateurs utilisent avec d'autres ordinateurs est incompréhensible pour quiconque;
3. Même la plus petite erreur est conservée en mémoire à long terme pour être ramenée à la surface plus tard;
4. Aussitôt que vous utilisez régulièrement une ordinateur, vous vous exposez à dépenser la moitié de votre chèque de paie pour acheter des accessoires pour elle.

Le groupe de filles, toutefois, a conclu que l'ordinateur est de genre masculin parce que:

1. Afin d'accomplir quoi que ce soit avec lui, tu dois l'allumer;
2. Il est bourré de matériel de base, mais ne peut penser par lui même;
3. Il est censé régler beaucoup de problèmes, mais la moitié du temps, c'est lui le problème;
4. Aussitôt que tu en utilises un régulièrement, tu te rends compte que si tu avais attendu un peu, tu aurais obtenu un meilleur modèle.

Les filles ont gagné !

Dec 18, 2011

A Christmas Carol (Jacki)

A married couple has been out Christmas shopping at the mall most of the afternoon, when she suddenly realizes that her husband has “disappeared.”

Disoriented, she calls her husband’s cell and asks “where the hell are you ?”
“Darling, remember that jewelry shop where you saw the diamond necklace and totally fell in love with it; and remember that I didn’t have the money at the time and said ‘Baby it’ll be yours one day.”

Somewhat embarrassed and with a blushing smile, she replies “Yes. I remember that my love.”
“Well, I’m in the bar next to that store.”

Dec 17, 2011

Ditto (Siggi, Dirk)

Dirk sends this...

...and writes: "This has been around for a while but still. As the story goes, the guy that owns this house lives north of Cincinnati, Ohio .. Police were constantly being called for traffic jams and accidents in the neighborhood so they asked him to shut it down during certain hours. Instead he started charging by car load to pay off duty police to be there."

And while we are at it:

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