distortingmirror

15 août 2009

Private sphere : for bank secrecy, not CCTV

Tenants of the banking secrecy in Switzerland and else appeal to the protection of the private sphere of individuals to give a philosophical basis to fiscal evasion and fraud. OK. But the private sphere also ecompasses other aspect of human life than money. It encompasses freedom of thinking, of gathering, of religion, etc. So my point is simple: I'll reconsider my position on the the private sphere approach of banking secrecy when the people promoting it will agree to ...dismantle all CCTV on the public domain, filming all of us. Right wing parties and financial corporations have a definition of private life that is limited to money. A bit short. You can not on one side pretend protecting private life and on the other destroy it with permanent videosurveillance.

Posté par asheshes à 10:25 - - Commentaires [3] - Permalien [#]
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02 août 2009

Macedonialand

Once upon a time a small European country was looking for a name, a name which would not compete with another one already existing - and located very close. The name found was Schwitzerland or as, we know it now, Switzerland. If you analysis it , the name is undoubtedly based on one of the canton's name, Schwytz. Its choice did not provoke any anger, from any sides, even not from those cantons which did not have the chance to influence the new state's name...
Today, another land is looking for a name that would not compete with others'. This country is FYROM, or Former Yougoslavian Republic of Macedonia. Greece fiercly rejects the use of Macedonia, as it is a Greek province. My suggestion is simple: use Macedonia, and add -land. Macedonialand. Or alternatively, Macedonianland. Or Macedonijaland, to mix local language and English. In international relations, the appendix -land clearlys is linked with a country, and not a region, then Greece should not have any problem with it. The names of country is not a science. Montenegro is a Spanish word in the middle of the Balkans, nobody bothers; names change according to the language used (Deutschland becomes Germany, etc). So let us be creative!

Posté par asheshes à 11:05 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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01 août 2009

The myth of imported violence

A tenacious myth in both common wisdom and some more cultivated circles in Europe is the importation of violence. Some communities would, according to this view, bring into Western Europe the pattern of violence they have inherited from their home country, plegued by civil wars. For example, in Switzerland or Germany, we hear a lot about people from former Yougoslavia as having brought violent habits in "peaceful" local communities. Thus, we are told, are these communities more represented in crime statistics and prison population. They would have imported their violence. Nothing is more false. A simple and proved fact lies in the level of criminal violence measured in the Balkans: it is lower than in Western Europe. In the victimisation surveys, which remain the best indicator of insecurity, we observe that the daily violence (threats, assaults) is less frequent in the Balkans than in Western Europe (less victimisation). So, if these people were really more violent, why is violence less widespread in their home countries? And which psychological process would explain that a person having suffered a war is more violent than another? In that case, the European population after World War II should have been very, very violent. We observed exactly the opposite in reality. We could even go further and assume that they do not come to us as "violent" but become such because our societies are... violent against them: discrimination on the labour market, rejection of their culture, permanent stigmatisation in the media, etc. Thus violence is not imported but home grown! Of course this view is interesting for political parties.   

Posté par asheshes à 22:26 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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25 juillet 2009

Lésion étrangère

Un corps étranger, utile outil d’une politique militaire de l’obscurité, balafre, blessure anti-démocratique, c’est la lésion étangère

Posté par asheshes à 23:24 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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07 juillet 2009

Disorganised crime

Organised crime is a catchall concept. Everybody uses it in the media, politics and private discussions. It does not mean anything at all, which is exactly the reason why it is so used and popular! Talking about organised crime is like talking about “organised tourism” or “ organised trade”. Tourism today is the biggest industry, generating the biggest turnover globally. But nobody would ever be foolish enough to think that tourism is a concept that can be reduced to a bunch of actors and a bunch of practices: it is a complex web or non-permanent activities without lin between them. Most of the money made is local (related to a region, a country, a city), by small to medium entrepreneurs (travel agents, hotels etc.), in specific segments (winter skiing, summer camp, etc.). Obviously it is global because the clientele is travelling, but there is no central actor steering all this from behind the scene. Yet, we tend to think that is the case with organised crime, some families or groups being in the manoeuvre of structured international crimes. Following the analogy with tourism, of course crime is organised, but in a geographic scope and different market segments. Crime, like any other human activities, is marked by incoherence, amateurism, selfishness, lack of information exchange, rivalry, unrational decisions, etc. Criminals try to reduce these dysfunctions by increasing the quality of management of their undertakings.  And by doing so, they have to concentrate their forces on specific fields. Mafia in Sicily for example is fragmented in different villages' and towns’ groups that do not have regular contacts - or are even in competition. Criminal groups in the USA are organised according to neighbourhood limits of big cities. They might have links with groups abroad, but not in the long term and formal way we could think. Therefore, policing should not be too much internationally oriented when fighting “organised crime”, but always assume that most of the evidences are there, somewhere under their eyes. Therefore, they must understand that each police offcier is a link in the control of criminal activities, even those that have international links. In these cases, it might help to follow them to the end, but starting from the international side of organised crime makes us forget to look at small criminal deeds that might be good hints of bigger schemes. In addition, disorganised crime is flexible, precisely because it is disorganised. If a market does not pay, then is is deserted, and the staff changes. If organised crime was so organised, it would be easier to dismantle it: find the head, identify the deputies and destroy the firm piece by piece, like you would dismantle a big bank. The fact that it is more disorganised that organised, or, in other words, organised but in small clusters, makes it more difficult to grasp, and fight.

Posté par asheshes à 15:49 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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Police fragmentation in Italy

Walking through any Italian city, you will cross the way of one of the following forces, at least: State police, Carabinieri (Gendarmerie), Municipal police, Provincial police, Financial police, Penitentiary police, and now, even soldiers ! This seems crazy. It probably is, unless this incredible fragmentation of policing is aimed at making « organised crime groups » (if they exist – see my other article on “disorganised crime”) take the power in the police. By multiplying the forces, the risk to have a security body captured by mafia interests would be made less dangerous, provided there are « virgin » forces besides. But the reality is, I fear, different. By having so many forces, the exact opposite occurs: there are more forces to bribe and penetrate, and the political and administrative control over them is made more difficult by their different governance schemes and responsible ministries/bureaucracies. Very pragmatically, this high number of forces is an appreciated way (for those concerned) to create prestigious positions in a huge security apparatus, with generals and colonels dispatched on the territory. In a country where uniform and more generally clothing prestige means so much, this is not anecdotic. From there, we could  make the hypothesis that the multiplication of policing sources is not an answer, but a cause or at least a window of opportunities for the development of criminal activities.

Posté par asheshes à 15:43 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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20 juin 2009

Kadhafi emphasises our own weaknesses

The European press and politicians make fun of Kadhafi, his extravagent clothes and habits, or try to avoid him on human rights grounds. They miss the whole point about his "role". Kadhafi, counsciously or not, uses his position to drag in the mud the European leaders who receive him. By planting a tent in the heart of Paris during one week, arboring a picture of the Lybian resistant against the Italian colonialist while marching to the Italian hymne, he shows one thing: European leaders are weak enough to accept being mocked to their face and ridiculed just to sign some commercial contracts. Therefore, we need Kadhafi. He points out the lack of dignity of our elite, who accept everything for short term gains. This is not perceived in Europe, where we focus on his character and miss the whole play. In these set-up interractions, we should mock the king (Sarkozy, Berlusconi), not the bouffon (Kadhafi). I am sure observers from Arab countries get that very well, and they are right.

Posté par asheshes à 10:12 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

17 juin 2009

is society changing as much as we hear?

"In a changing society", "in a period full of innovation and challenges". These types of catch all sentences are heard regularly, if not systematically, in official reports by governments or in experts’ reports. Interestingly enough, it can be found also in the 19th century, and in the 18th and so on. Even Paul Valery referred from time to time to that common wisdom in his "Essais quasi-politiques". Therefore, all observers appear to believe that their society is on the move… Is it true, or what does this catch-all phrase really show? It tells more about rhetoric than about an actual social analysis. It is used to provide legitimacy to those who want to suggest a new idea or concept. By starting to say that the world is changing, the author consolidates and legitimises his position to lobby for change as well. The novelty of some propositions will then be made less troubling, against the background of this supposed changing environment, making new ways of thinking indispensable. Even more confusing and manipulating, by creating a feeling of an unstable environment, the author creates at the same time the need for an answer. And, as a saviour, he comes with it. Such sentences in introduction of reports and papers should always be seen critically, and ask weather there is really a changing environment, or if it is only a way to legitimise a discourse. Always question why, with which objective indicators, can that “change” be demonstrated. 

 

Posté par asheshes à 16:03 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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14 juin 2009

Cars crash cars crash carsh

Cars…

  1. kill, injure, mutilate – by the way, more than cocaine, heroin and marijuana together
  2. monopolise urban spaces thru roads and parking lots
  3. stink
  4. make noise
  5. pollute
  6. distance individuals from their peers
  7. contribute to reduce the most essential physical effort: walking

you name the next

Against so many damages, the benefits have to be very, very high to compensate.
Until I know them, I will have the simple and scary feeling that we made a historical mistake.

Posté par asheshes à 18:05 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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why is everybody "overbooked"?

When you ask around, nobody « has time » or « has his work under control ». We can not say we do not work a lot. This would not fit our society and values. The courageous man or woman would be directly suspected of being lazy, or worse, a parasite. There are even some people, having unconsciously integrated that everybody says he is overbooked, sate for their personal case: ‘ I know many people say they are overbooked, so it sounds a bit familiar, but me, I really am overstretched ». So is it true, are we really all overbooked? Probably not. Let us check our professional environment, first. The obvious reason for saying we are overbooked is to avoid getting more things to do, by your superiors or less efficient colleagues. So you start from the consensual basis that you can not take anything more. Self-defence. From a social point of view, working a lot is still very much recognised as a positive, if not fundamental, value. “His is rarely on vacation; he works a lot”. That is a man, or a woman, making a sacrifice! You should be thankful. It is good. Social capital. Finally, on a psychological level, it is rewarding to represent ourselves as hard worker. If, moreover, we happen to earn a lot of money, this is also a good legitimisation basis. Self-satisfaction.
So, very probably, we do not have so much work to do; it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We need to state it for the three main reasons I outlined. Of course, one would be much wiser to say that yes, he has work to do, but as he is well organised, smart, and as he has the sense of a good work-life balance, it is under control. This should also be socially recognised and personally rewarding. Dare you?

Posté par asheshes à 11:57 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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