Glimpsed 01

Pas de V.F., désolée.

  1. The awesomest eye-chart ever.


  2. In other news, it has come to our attention that fungi (pl.: fungi) has joined the ranks of countable singular nouns. Congratulations.

    It sounds like something out of a comic book, although scientists already know that fungi will eat asbestos, jet fuel, and plastic. It has also been shown to decompose hot graphite in the ruins of the Chernobyl power plant, which melted down in 1986. The plant’s release of large amounts of radiation appears to have attracted black hordes of fungi. But how does it work?

    According to Ekaterina Dadachova and her colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City, the fungi Cryptococcus neoformans and two other species use melanin, also a pigment found in human skin, to transform radiation into energy to use as food for growth.

    (Technology Review, via apostropher.)

  3. The Guardian, or rather, Angelique Chrisafis on this Monday’s Guardian Newsdesk podcast, has some strange ideas about adjectives:

    (Note: neither tsunami nor tidal wave counts. The full mp3 can be downloaded here)

[a]: The line I just read looks like this: Ⴊ ⇠ ਐ ῼ இ ╁ ଠ ୭ ⅙ ㈣ — got all your Unicode fonts installed?

  • 2005-06-30
  • Comments Off

Found among the gems on the wonderful Arte Radio site: a clip entitled “Chirac disco” which, in the typical fashion of the Arte team, mixes some (in)famous snippets of the French president’s speeches with, well, you could call it music. For the bit alone where he says “overdose” (of foreigners, by the way) it would be worth it. (Flash and HTML access, leading directly to the clip; a Creative Commons licensed mp3 is available for download here.)

Still, the riddle of that awful, late 70s style disco music needs solving. Here is a rough translation of the lyrics: We have in our country / The power to change our life / For everybody, Jacques Chirac / Now for president / France needs a man / Of courage and determination / For everybody, Jacques Chirac / etc. pp.

Cringeworthy doesn’t begin to describe it.

The history of the song is documented here. About in the middle of the page, there is an write-up in French and a download link for the mp3 file of the original “Votons Jacques Chirac” single. The song really is what it sound like: a musical campaign ad#[1] — from M. Chirac’s unsuccessful 1981 presidential bid against the (also right-wing) incumbent Giscard d’Estaign (who, of course, lost, too). “Unsuccessful” is a relative term, though, as Chirac obtained 18% of the first-round vote, i.e. only 1.7 percentage points less#[2] than when he was reelected in 2002.

Some of us might be a bit disappointed that this attempt to seduce the young voters didn’t resurface then.

[1]: To be distributed on vinyl among his supporters, of course, not played over the airwaves. France is thankfully nearly free of TV and radio campaign ads. [2]: “Fewer” doesn’t work for me here.

Nice crop of downloadable online media. The political first: Ifilm has Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s film Submission as an Apple Quicktime (.mov) file. Via Viewropa.

Still on Viewropa, I found this collection of mp3 Rock/Pop songs that are available for download. As a fan of Beth Gibbons, I was particularly taken with Masha Qrella, who I’d never heard of before.

Edit: This has become a weekly feature by dodgygeezer at Viewropa, under the title Sunday Choir

And this I should have found much earlier. It was a fruit of what I’m calling lateral browsing, ie using the Firefox “SearchStatus” plugin’s “related links” menu. (You can get the same result by typing “related:” plus an URL into Google and a number of other search engines). ARTE Radio has 477 audio clips, which range between one and about 25 minutes and cover a large variety of styles and topics. ARTE Radio is a web-based radio-on-demand project that belongs to the French “pole” of the French/German public TV network ARTE. ARTE has long been my favourite TV station by far, and not only because they do bilingual broadcasting. I just wish they would show even more films with subtitles instead of dubbed versions (they usually repeat dubbed foreign films late at night in a version with subtitles, though), and systematically use closed captioning instead of voice-overs in the (many, and often excellent) documentaries they commission. (Given how hopeless all the other French TV stations are about multilingualism, ARTE is the postive exception, though.)

ARTE Radio is a French site. This is because German law doesn’t allow ARTE Germany to compete with the other German public radio networks. (Grr.) Still, there are German and English introductory pages, and quite a few clips in these two language, plus a lot mulitlingual or experimental/artistic ones that are fit for those who don’t speak French. The Flash interface is quite pretty, but every clip can be accessed through the HTML side of the site as well, and is available as both high- and low-quality mp3, plus Real Media.

Now for the icing on the cake: The clips are provided under a “attribution, non-commercial, share-alike” Creative Commons license! That’s the way to go for a public broadcaster. Hello, BBC, ARD, ZDF, France 2/3/5, are you listening? [Deafening silence…]

So I can legally offer you a few samples:

  • The funny: Assimix, or How to learn any European language in four minutes. Avoid if cultural stereotyes make you physically ill. (Credits: Christophe Rault, David Christoffel)
  • The sensual: Molly Bloom’s monologue in French + a few other languages. Not the only, er, interesting clip either. Search for masturbation, zizi or Ile coquine. (Credits: Christophe Rault)
  • The funny plus political: Allo US, poking fun at one particularly weird (as viewed from over here) feature of the US electoral process; and a rather uncommon Marseillaise (background: disrespecting the French flag and anthem has been outlawed last year. A fine or even a prison sentence could be the consequence. “Ça tombe bien, on a besoin de vacances,” says ARTE Radio.)

I didn’t like the banners and logos they offer for download, so I made my button. Now what is the singlar of “Steal These Buttons” (used as a noun phrase, of course, as in “I made a number of Steal These Buttons”). A “Steal This Button”? Anyway, here is it: ARTE Radio.

Creative Commons licensed, too, or rather made to promote Creative Commons licenses in the first place, is the Wired CD. All the tracks are now available in a lossless format as well. Via le Creative Commons Blog.