13 January 2014

235. Transparency, honesty, privacy

Shrugging my shoulders at what I disapprove may not be the right attitude. Maybe I should keep writing here what I have in mind. For what purpose? I don't know. For the odd reader like me silently disagreeing.

Those three words in the title - transparency, honesty and privacy - are three different entities as three separate concepts. Yet in the air nowadays they tend to be used one for the other.

Privacy is now seen as a need for hiding, i.e. not hiding away from perving eyes and pathological curiosity, but hiding because you have something bad or evil to steal away from normal curiosity. The wrong doer has changed sides. The bad guy now is the one who wants to hide his private life, his private parts, his private family, his private time and space. Peevish perving curiosity is regarded as normal and healthy...

...because you have to be transparent to be honest. If you have something to hide you must be doing something wrong. It reminds me of something right now. As a young woman in Australia I remember being astonished at the explanation given to me as to why there was no lock on the inside of the toilet in the house. It was to prevent guys in there to masturbate as the door could be opened on them without warning. How clever! how wicked! No privacy thus ensures your honesty.

Transparent. This word started being used to mean the quality of an honest government. If the dealings between our various politicians were not transparent it meant they must be corrupt. Transparency is the opposite of corruption. Every dealing has to be shown in full light as if you could see through it. Again with the same idea that the good guy is the one who wants to see. But... sorry for being naive, but how do you conduct any kind of diplomacy or any war or any serious business for that matter without some amount of privacy?

The word honesty now appears to be meaning the see-through attitude of someone who has 'nothing to hide' and therefore does not need privacy. In the dictionary, however, it still means lack of deceit, a straightforward conduct, integrity, truthfulness and above all: freedom from deceit or fraud. It is linked to a code of religious conduct and thrives within a community showing trust all around.

Now TRUST is another story. But I won't go on!

  

12 January 2014

234. BREACH OF TRUST

When the news came out in the media that the National Security Agency of the USA had been (and probably still is) tracking and spying on everyone of us in Europe, I was happily exchanging thoughts, facts and figures, and photos on FaceBook. When I realized that our European heads of States and ministers were spied on thoroughly as if they were the most dangerous enemies of the American people, I felt sick. As if I had been stabbed in the stomach.

The reaction of a lot of people was to play cool: "Come on, be realistic, spying is a sport, all nations do it"... No, no, not that type of 'spying'. Two things came to my mind, one, the famous book by G. Orwell, and two, a film I had seen in Germany of the way general surveillance was used on the people in East Germany during the communist regime there, called 'The life of others'.

On internet you get used to be tracked. I didn't like it at the beginning when I had to state everything all the time. But recently I started refusing to cooperate, for instance, when FaceBook kept asking me where I was working. As I was not filling in the information in my profile, they kept asking if I was, say, in the Navy like so-and-so of my friends. LOL. I'd be asked to tick their suggestion in a very heavy handed manner. What for? Why on earth does FB want to know where I work???!!!

But that is nothing. A couple of days ago as I was checking what was written on internet under my name, I found this joker having 'analyzed' my French blog and suggested that it may be connected with Hungary... ah ha! the French connection... ha ha ha! the clue was that my IP number was close to several Hungarian ones starting with 71... or 74... The guy doing that was definitely an amateur spy very much in the style of 'collaborators' here in France during the war.

I am positive. We should not let this pass as realistic run of the mill spying. What has been done is general surveillance just as it is done in a communist country. In the name of what? Safety, security, ...freedom???? It looks more like paranoia in a grand scale. Why is America so very scared? And armed to the teeth?

I am French with a dual cultural background. Americans are (were?) friends to me. I am in the habit of trusting my friends normally. But when they track, spy and operate a detailed surveillance as it has been reported, I call it a breach and I withdraw my trust.



10 January 2014

233. New Year 2014

To anyone reading this blog, friend or foe, I have to say thank you. Even though I haven't come up with new posts since my return to France from Ireland there are still people coming here to read my lines. Thanks.

It is strange how a certain way of life shuts you up. Nowadays I just shrug my shoulders and shut up being totally marginal and feeling completely unwelcome, unwanted and useless.

In the English customary habit I am going to write a newsletter of the main characteristics of my past year. The French don't do that. Family news remain more private perhaps and the Christmas mandatory correspondence does not happen. So here comes my 2013 newsletter.

In June a young woman Helper from Japan came to stay with me. She was very friendly and sweet and spoke enough French to converse. She was eager to help me in my garden in Chazelet but as she had no notion of gardening at all, I realized I would not be able to manage that garden for the year anyway. In a garden, there are definite things to do at a given time and if you don't do it in time you miss on it for that year! So I gave Chazelet up much to my despair... and to my garden neighbour's despair too so that she started planning and suggesting out loud what I should do in my own patch. That angered me further so that I shouted at her to mind her own 'onions' as the French expression goes. So that... we are not on talking terms any more!

What else has happened? My own retirement pension being very low... having spent most of my life looking for a job... I used to receive a basic extra pension from the State. But as you must reside in France to get it, it stopped in May because I was in Ireland... where I had gone to hopefully find a paid job, among other reasons. On my return to France I claimed the pension again but to this day to no avail. I have been sent several letters asking for proof of this or that as if I was a cheating slop... Getting depressed being of no use I decided not to open my mail any longer. Tending my grassy patch around my house in St Civran kept me busy anyway.

At the end of June a young Chinese woman from Taiwan arrived at my place as a Helper. Luckily she could speak English to me and Japanese to Ayumi and I could speak French to Ayumi and English to her. My intention and efforts to learn Chinese back in the 1990s never came to anything practical. Soon however I found I simply could not feed the two girls. I fell sick. They helped feeding me. And then they left.

In the hot and dry summer months I had my grand-daughter stay with me on and off. I love that. And then an Australian woman Helper came to stay a week and taught her to swim in a nearby lake. And then I drove her to her next Host in a haunted castle!

By the end of September I was getting fidgety and at a loss for new ideas of what to do with myself. I ended up staying at my son's in the prefecture city of my district. Staying in a properly heated apartment and eating regular meals was great. Talking to my son, a blessing. I also spent time walking around in town taking photos that I uploaded on my flickr photo account. However I realized that I had aged and felt tired when my grand-daughter and her half-brother came to stay. Screaming and fighting kids are not my cup of tea these days...

Now the new year has arrived and I have moved back to my house in St Civran. I have plans. Sure. And dreams, of course. But it seems that whatever I try to do is always doomed!... Let's see what 2014 has in stock for me!!!

Bonne Année 2014 anyway.

18 July 2013

232. SURVIVING


Since my return home to St Civran, France, at the end of May I have been busy with getting my gardens back to shape. The long rainy season had turned both my vegie garden in Chazelet and my grassy patch, front and back, in St Civran into some kind of savanah!

My savanah in Chazelet, France


In May, as I had been living in Ireland since January, my monthly retirement state grant was cancelled because I was not residing in France. Since then I have been living on a very short shoe string. My first reaction was to give up the big garden in Chazelet as I cannot afford driving there to tend it every day. My second reaction was to plant and sow some vegetables directly in front of my door on my grassy patch in St Civran.

Now that the drought is in I am glad I did that. My vegies are growing. I don't have far to go to tend them! I am also glad to have been smart enough to store rain water in several tanks... Every morning and every night I now water them with tank rain water and they seem to like it. Hopefully I will have enough to last until the next rain. Maybe not.

Tomatoes, rock melons and green beans in St Civran

Under the wisteria a vegie called 'patisson' in French

Green beans about to climb on my pottery trolley...!

231. The pillars of society


Yesterday (7 May) as I was writing a comment under someone's article posted on FaceBook, I had a strange idea, namely that society had pillars and that if you destroy these pillars, society falls down on your head!

The image that came to my mind was that of the Parthenon, the old temple of ancient Greece standing on the hill there in Athens. The pillars sustain the roof. There are pillars all around. Some pillars are more important than others to hold the roof. The pillars in the 4 corners are definitely the most important ones.

I don't know if these thoughts hold much truth in architecture and engineering laws but they are a metaphor for something I see happening in our society.

I visualized the slack attitude towards the holding of a balanced budget proceeding from the same way of thinking as the 'tolerance' for homosexuality... yes, it needs an explanation, wait, I'm trying.



When you are a child you learn slowly all the rules of the society you have been born in. It starts with small things like "don't pick your nose", "don't poke your finger at somebody", "close your mouth when you eat", "say hello to greet someone"... do's and don'ts for the peaceful sharing of life with others in society. Then you get the heavy stuff. "You can't buy that dress before you've saved enough money", "don't kiss your boyfriend in public", "don't use the name of God in vain", "replace what you've borrowed", "give that book back to your friend"...etc. You have to account as well for the unsaid, unspeakable rules which usually are the strongest of all. "You can't marry your father or your brother", "you can't play silly games with your best friend", "you can't steal", "you can't kill"... and other such like commandements.

Pillars... these commandements are pillars that form a ring around members of the same community to support some kind of roof under which we can shelter and grow. When this ring of pillars is respected by the great majority of members, you have a stable society. But rules are always challenged sooner or later in History. In our 'western' society the Second World War acted as a major earthquake, destroying or provoking those pillars to crack. I saw it happen throughout my life.



I'll now get back to the idea that the slack attitude towards the holding of a balanced budget proceeds from the same way of thinking as the 'tolerance' for homosexuality.

In the mad borrowing of funds without limitation or lack of discipline to pay them back, one major pillar has been cracked and even perhaps destroyed.

In the 'tolerance' of homosexual practice, another major pillar has been cracked and even perhaps destroyed.

I put tolerance in inverted comas because the definition of this word has grown to mean 'laisser-faire', i.e. a slack attitude very similar to that used for an unbalanced budget. I am not tolerant in that sense.


NB: This post was written on 8 May while I was still in Ireland. It is unfinished.