Archive for September 2013

black hussars or the famous metaphysics of progress

September 30, 2013

In L’Argent, which he published in 1913 , Charles Peguy recalls his childhood, when he was a pupil in an elementary school which adjoined the “normal” school of teachers in Orleans (South West of Paris). The story begins in 1879.

After the victory of the Republicans, the “Paul Bert” law redefines the “normal” schools founded by Guizot (Louis-Philippe’s minister of education) in 1833. The teachers-trainees taught at Peguy’s school. Peguy described them in these famous terms: “Our young masters were beautiful as black hussars. Slender , tough , strapped , serious and a little trembling in their early and sudden omnipotence.” “Black hussars ! And, indeed , their uniform was very dark , from the shoes to the cap, a civic uniform.” Peguy added that they ” were really the children of the Republic , the infants of the Republic , the black hussars of the severity.” Black Hussars, the cavalry squadron formed in 1793 by the young French Republic, the soldiers of the Year II !

The term “black hussar” will stay and qualifies those who, in the third or the fourth French republic, incarnates the civic mission of educating the people. They are the main stakeholders of the free and compulsory secular education that Jules Ferry laws introduced in the 1880s. All children from France , aged from 6 to 11 benefit from this instruction. Meantime, the labour is allowed for young people older than 12. Others young people can stay at school after obtaining their “certificate of primary studies” (at 11), but they are really few and high school students, as college students, are a tiny minority .

The key education, then , is given in these elementary schools by male teachers and , from the beginning, by female teachers. These teachers are officials showing a moral authority even if they are not rich. And they are part of the Republican elite.

As “normal” schools of teachers are departmental, teachers-trainees have the same social origins than the pupils they will teach. Sons (or daughters) of workers, of small farmers , of small landowners, throughout France , they begin to climb the social ladder without moving further from those around them. In three decades , the French population evolves quickly, gets urbanized, reaches an increasing life expectancy. The French language imposed itself against dialects and languages ​​, sometimes forcibly. Dechristianization gets broader, the general level of education grows rapidly, while the masters embody the project of secularization and “a positivist metaphysics.” ” It was, Peguy says , the famous metaphysics of progress .”

Peguy added in 1879 that “teachers were always ready to shout ” Vive la Republique ! Vive la Nation !”, that they would have shouted so even under the Prussian saber. Because for us, confusingly, the enemy, the whole enemy, the evil spirit, was the Prussians . It was already not so stupid . Nor so far from the truth. That was in 1880. This is 1913. Thirty-three years later. And we returned to this feeling.” End of quote.

In 1914, these teachers go to the front with the pupils they have trained. They pay the same toll as other French to their homeland.



In France, voluntary termination of pregnancy may be performed at any time if …

September 27, 2013

In France, each year nearly 6,000 medical terminations of pregnancy (IMG) are performed because of the diagnosis, in the unborn child, of genetic abnormalities and / or malformations that are extremely grave or incompatible with life.

They are more rarely performed when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother

Deciding to terminate a pregnancy is the result of a process that follows the diagnosis of a serious disease of the unborn child. It is governed in France by Law No. 75-17 of 17 January 1975 relating to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy (induced abortion), commonly known as the Veil law

This decision is made at parents’ request. If both parents have different opinions, the decision belongs to the mother. The application is accepted and appraised by a panel of specialist doctors.

Art. 162-12. – Voluntary termination of pregnancy may, at any time, be performed if two medical doctors certify, after examination and discussion that continuing pregnancy poses a serious threat to the health of the woman or that there is a high probability that the unborn child is suffering from a particular disease that is recognized as incurable at the time of diagnosis severity.


I will continue shelling my peas

September 20, 2013

beyond the past and present events to which we cling to justify our unhappiness, what makes us suffer is in a forest.

This forest, this “archaism”, is expressed in mute as an emotional turbulence, latent in “normal” times, that wakes up at every existential crisis of our lives.

At each shocking event (death, separation, divorce, job loss, retirement), and also in moments of great happiness, especially when we realize one desire, we are dealing with a more or less violent crisis that is able to shake our identity.

every time we enter a new key-age, existential crises come to break a continuous sense of being.

Since our birth, at every step of the development of our childhood, during our adolescence, during our nascent parenthood, at midlife (Maturescence is a sort of upside-down teenage years crossed by the
menopause for women and by the andropause for men) and during our senescence (corresponding to the onset of the old age), we are experiencing an existential crisis which corresponds to a change of our course.

In the midst of life, in times of menopause (for women), at the time of losing the gains received at puberty, women used to go out of time and therefore experienced the death of a part of themselves.
They knew they would have to live just one more unique cycle ending in death. For men, the reduction or loss of sexual power imposed a painful castration. The male evolution is more linear, the female one more cyclical and more turbulent.

The more we advance in age and the more our life is punctuated with obstacles (illness, addiction, loneliness). the risk of “unbinding” is stronger and it takes more energy to stay alive. The risk is that the libido freezes or turns against the “ego” causing depression or somatization

a grandmother shelling peas in the presence of her granddaughter. The latter asked: “What would you do, grandmother, if you knew you were gonna die in an hour? “The grandmother replied: “I will continue shelling my peas”

In times of aging, we make a new appraisal of ourselves: “Have I been a good man, a good parent, a good husband? What will remain of me after my death? ”


The camera picks up whatever you’re looking at and the computer turns it into a pixelated picture and transmits that picture into a device in the eye that stimulates the eye

September 20, 2013

degenerative condition retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inheritable disease where the rods and cones in the retina slowly stop working

The Argus II implant gives such patient a new kind of sight.

the system can not only give people a basic form a sight back, but can also, in some cases, even help them read.

It works by taking over the role of generating electrical signals from the redundant retina, with an implant sending pulses down the optical nerve that the brain can learn to interpret as vision

It’s nothing like vision we’d recognise, though — instead, it’s very abstract, often no more than pulses or flashes of light

The fitted patient can see flashes of light, if he focuses on an object it’ll appear as a flash of light. He can identify that object and where it is. He can see where windows are, where doors are. He can see clothing, the difference between a white shirt and a black shirt if there’s a contrast

23 out of the 30 people tested could read large letters, and four of them could read small letters

Argus II has two broad components. There’s the external component — a pair of Oakley sunglasses with a tiny camera built into the bridge attached to a small computer. The camera picks up whatever you’re looking at and the computer turns it into a pixelated picture and transmits that picture into a device in the eye. The device in the eye consists of a receiver and an electrode panel that stimulates the eye with the same pattern. The image is transmitted wirelessly. You put the sunglasses away and you look normal, nobody can see the device in the eye

Patient need a fonctional optic nerve, so Argus II excludes the huge number of people who are blind from glaucoma or from trauma severing the optic nerve, or from optic nerve disorders. That’s one large group this device will never help, because there’s no connection between the artifical retina and the brain


we won’t be shrinking for much longer

September 18, 2013

On the five- to 10-year timeframe scale, L.Torvalds (Linux creator) is very interested to see how the industry actually reacts to the fact that soon we will come against some physical limits

People used to be talking about having thousands of cores on one die because it keeps shrinking, and those people clearly have no idea about physics because we won’t be shrinking for much longer.

Both physical and financial limits could prevent the frequent doubling in transistor density that was observed by Moore’s Law

That’s going to affect us in kernel land because we are the layer between hardware and software. What happens when hardware doesn’t improve and magically make us faster? That’s going to be interesting. It might not be five or 10 years, it might be 15, but it’s going to happen.

hardware manufacturers can keep improving their side of the equation even if increases in processing power slow down. “Hopefully hardware innovation doesn’t stop just because shrinking stops

Much hardware innovation is happening on devices that aren’t necessarily super impressive under the hood

the hardware [in Google Glass] isn’t that advanced, it’s basically a PandaBoard (a low-power, low-cost single-board computer development platform for “system on a chip” integrated circuits) but what you do with it is very interesting

embedded systems, particularly mobile devices, are driving Linux development

Embedded today is what enterprise was five years ago, You have a quad-core in your pocket

“Linux kernel developer” panelists were asked if they’ve been approached by the US government to insert a back door into the Linux kernel. Torvalds said no while nodding his head, drawing a laugh


Eye for an Eye: healthy people lend people with disabilities parts of their own bodies In order to make up for the deficiencies of the body with disability

September 14, 2013

Żmijewski’s film is here

Eye for an Eye – ancient legal formula calling for revenge for harm gains a new meaning in Artur Żmijewski’s film and photographic series. The film features people with disabilities, who suffer from severe difficulties in their everyday lives as a result of amputations.

A temporary relief in their struggle with daily activities is brought by healthy people, who lend them parts of their own bodies. In order to make up for the deficiencies of the body with disability, they lock with it in an uncanny embrace. However, offering a healthy limb requires breaking the barriers of intimacy, i.e. touching the scar – the most sensitive part of the body after amputation.

Thus, Żmijewski’s film becomes a story of intimacy and ways of overcoming the mechanisms of exclusion.


Bellino’s History: my name is Therese

September 13, 2013


Bellino’s History
The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt, 1725-1798. Volume 02


“My name is Therese. My father, a poor clerk in the Institute of Bologna, had let an apartment in his house to the celebrated Salimberi, a castrato, and a delightful musician. He was young and handsome, he became attached to me, and I felt flattered by his affection and by the praise he lavished upon me. I was only twelve years of age; he proposed to teach me music, and finding that I had a fine voice, he cultivated it carefully, and in less than a year I could accompany myself on the harpsichord. His reward was that which his love for me induced him to ask, and I granted the reward without feeling any humiliation, for I worshipped him. Of course, men like yourself are much above men of his species, but Salimberi was an exception. His beauty, his manners, his talent, and the rare qualities of his soul, made him superior in my eyes to all the men I had seen until then. He was modest and reserved, rich and generous, and I doubt whether he could have found a woman able to resist him; yet I never heard him boast of having seduced any. The mutilation practised upon his body had made him a monster, but he was an angel by his rare qualities and endowments.

“Salimberi was at that time educating a boy of the same age as myself, who was in Rimini with a music teacher. The father of the boy, who was poor and had a large family, seeing himself near death, had thought of having his unfortunate son maimed so that he should become the support of his brothers with his voice. The name of the boy was Bellino; the good woman whom you have just seen in Ancona was his mother, and everybody believes that she is mine.

“I had belonged to Salimberi for about a year, when he announced to me one day, weeping bitterly, that he was compelled to leave me to go to Rome, but he promised to see me again. The news threw me into despair. He had arranged everything for the continuation of my musical education, but, as he was preparing himself for his departure, my father died very suddenly, after a short illness, and I was left an orphan.

“Salimberi had not courage enough to resist my tears and my entreaties; he made up his mind to take me to Rimini, and to place me in the same house where his young ‘protege’ was educated. We reached Rimini, and put up at an inn; after a short rest, Salimberi left me to call upon the teacher of music, and to make all necessary arrangements respecting me with him; but he soon returned, looking sad and unhappy; Bellino had died the day before.

“As he was thinking of the grief which the loss of the young man would cause his mother, he was struck with the idea of bringing me back to Bologna under the name of Bellino, where he could arrange for my board with the mother of the deceased Bellino, who, being very poor, would find it to her advantage to keep the secret. ‘I will give her,’ he said, ‘everything necessary for the completion of your musical education, and in four years, I will take you to Dresden (he was in the service of the Elector of Saxony, King of Poland), not as a girl, but as a castrato. There we will live together without giving anyone cause for scandal, and you will remain with me and minister to my happiness until I die. All we have to do is to represent you as Bellino, and it is very easy, as nobody knows you in Bologna. Bellino’s mother will alone know the secret; her other children have seen their brother only when he was very young, and can have no suspicion. But if you love me you must renounce your sex, lose even the remembrance of it, and leave immediately for Bologna, dressed as a boy, and under the name of Bellino. You must be very careful lest anyone should find out that you are a girl; you must sleep alone, dress yourself in private, and when your bosom is formed, as it will be in a year or two, it will only be thought a deformity not uncommon amongst ‘castrati’. Besides, before leaving you, I will give you a small instrument, and teach how to fix it in such manner that, if you had at any time to submit to an examination, you would easily be mistaken for a man. If you accept my plan, I feel certain that we can live together in Dresden without losing the good graces of the queen, who is very religious. Tell me, now, whether you will accept my proposal?

“He could not entertain any doubt of my consent, for I adored him. As soon as he had made a boy of me we left Rimini for Bologna, where we arrived late in the evening. A little gold made everything right with Bellino’s mother; I gave her the name of mother, and she kissed me, calling me her dear son. Salimberi left us, and returned a short time afterwards with the instrument which would complete my transformation. He taught me, in the presence of my new mother, how to fix it with some tragacanth gum, and I found myself exactly like my friend. I would have laughed at it, had not my heart been deeply grieved at the departure of my beloved Salimberi, for he bade me farewell as soon as the curious operation was completed. People laugh at forebodings; I do not believe in them myself, but the foreboding of evil, which almost broke my heart as he gave me his farewell kiss, did not deceive me. I felt the cold shivering of death run through me; I felt I was looking at him for the last time, and I fainted away. Alas! my fears proved only too prophetic. Salimberi died a year ago in the Tyrol in the prime of life, with the calmness of a true philosopher. His death compelled me to earn my living with the assistance of my musical talent. My mother advised me to continue to give myself out as a castrato, in the hope of being able to take me to Rome. I agreed to do so, for I did not feel sufficient energy to decide upon any other plan. In the meantime she accepted an offer for the Ancona Theatre, and Petronio took the part of first female dancer; in this way we played the comedy of ‘The World Turned Upside Down.’

“After Salimberi, you are the only man I have known, and, if you like, you can restore me to my original state, and make me give up the name of Bellino, which I hate since the death of my protector, and which begins to inconvenience me. I have only appeared at two theatres, and each time I have been compelled to submit to the scandalous, degrading examination, because everywhere I am thought to have too much the appearance of a girl, and I am admitted only after the shameful test has brought conviction. Until now, fortunately, I have had to deal only with old priests who, in their good faith, have been satisfied with a very slight examination, and have made a favourable report to the bishop; but I might fall into the hands of some young abbe, and the test would then become a more severe one. Besides, I find myself exposed to the daily persecutions of two sorts of beings: those who, like you, cannot and will not believe me to be a man, and those who, for the satisfaction of their disgusting propensities, are delighted at my being so, or find it advantageous to suppose me so. The last particularly annoy me! Their tastes are so infamous, their habits so low, that I fear I shall murder one of them some day, when I can no longer control the rage in which their obscene language throws me. Out of pity, my beloved angel, be generous; and, if you love me, oh! free me from this state of shame and degradation! Take me with you. I do not ask to become your wife, that would be too much happiness; I will only be your friend, your mistress, as I would have been Salimberi’s; my heart is pure and innocent, I feel that I can remain faithful to my lover through my whole life. Do not abandon me. The love I have for you is sincere; my affection for Salimberi was innocent; it was born of my inexperience and of my gratitude, and it is only with you that I have felt myself truly a woman.”