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Fabrice's Blog

The 1001 tweets

I've been on Twitter since November (2009), which is very late actually (I've been on the Internet since 1993). It was in a time when social media were not yet a big thing. I was very much against facebook (and still am), but someone, now a top editor in a big journal, convinced me to give it all a try. I hated facebook even more after trying it. But I actually came to enjoy Twitter.

And now that some #10YearsChallenge gets trending there, it was a nice occasion to go down through my entire stream. Sadly, Twitter doesn't let you do that. I'm blocked beyond 2014. One can still download one's full dataset, though, which I did, but it comes without any friendly interface to browse them (it used to). In the process, however, I also noticed that I just passed a thousand tweets! No that much given some people would easily write such an amount in a week, and read as much in a day or less. Still, this is agreeable to go down memory lane. This is a selection of a few interesting events that one can still access in my twitter feed.

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A revolution in progress

Something not unique, but quite rare, seems to be happening in France. The country, which once was leading the nations to aspire to new models of civilization nurtured by freedom and human rights, and was inspiring the world towards these universal ideals, later took its turn to join a queue for some sort of political balconing to explore how private and corporate interests could maximally spoil the people's fundamental rights and common good.

The country that once was that of du Guesclin, of Jeanne d'Arc, of Robespierre, of Desaix, of Victor Hugo, of Lamartine, of Bernanos and of de Gaulle, became the country of Pompidou, of Giscard, of Chirac, of Sarkozy and of Hollande, in an observably worsening sequence. Each next president of the French republic was less popular than the previous one. For the latter in the series, the indicators even became qualitative: Sarkozy was the first president not to be re-elected and Hollande was the first to not even try. And then came Macron.

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The "great war", only a century behind us

It is unsettling to consciously realize that there is only one unit of human history (a century) that separates us from the great war (!?). I remember the same odd feeling of History suddenly shrinking to a speck of insignificant duration at the occasion of the bicentenary of the French revolution, which was the first of the decisive turning points leading to our contemporary society: the revolution leading to the first war, the first to the second and the second leading us to where we are now (see Jean Dutour for the details of this sequence would this not be evident). The French revolution, however disruptive and terrible it was, still carried at least the illusion of a step forward. It made such a great impression on such a great man as Victor Hugo. With the first war just behind him, Bernanos, the most visionary writer of his time, was already observing that "le visage du monde devenait hideux" (en). After the second, it was plain for everybody to see its traumatic proportions. In this droplet of time that separates us from the first war, three generations of my ancestors have gone. It almost took me out as well.

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My Hospital, July (2018), reading list: Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five is Vonnegut's masterpiece, and the second book of him I read (after Cat's cradle). I enjoyed it so much I naturally turned to the rest of his work, with the anxiety that the minor pieces would not be up to the famous ones (a problem with every author). Vonnegut is a peculiar writer, with strange sci-fi plots and uncanny characters whose recurrences throughout his work make you feel there is a thread to follow. Reading the synopsis of his works does not really make you crave to read them. The titles, in particular, are, to my taste, extremely poor. Even the book covers are, for some reason, repelling. It looks like every care has been taken by both the author and the people in charge of his marketing to make you flee away. It all changes, however, when you open the book and start reading.

A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees.

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Hearing Big Ben one last time!

How shocking! Big Ben has gone silent until 2021! That's a recording of our last hearing of it:

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My May (2017) reading list: on political turmoil

Since I have recently worried more than on average (this is a constant preoccupation) on political turmoil, oppression and dictatorship, etc., in the wake of the American political landscape, brexit, and, of course, the French elections, I have put back at the top of my list some old-time classics that I have wanted to read for a long time, plus a political essay/documentary from someone I personally know:

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On the coming French 2017 presidential election

In the French presidential debate [1], where the liberal discourse was confronting the nationalistic one, but which everybody agrees was of terrible quality, full of unwarranted aggressiveness, insults, belittling of the other, etc., the pathetic Marine Le Pen had one good rhetorical line: "whoever wins the election, a woman will govern France, either me or Mrs. Merkel(?!).

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Our authoritarian democracies going after the puppeteers

Our democracies have little left even of the mere appearance of what they proclaim to be. A recent "incident" in Spain provides a neat illustration of the totalitarian regimes that now rule us. Two puppeteers performing for the Carnival in Madrid were detained by the police and jailed without bail for apology of terrorism [1].

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A Brief History of Time's soundtrack

I discovered Philip Glass in 1992, in my Lycée years (secondary school in France) in a beautifully shaped buildingLyceeLafayette.png that was inspiring for the aspiring scientist.

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New Year's Greetings (2016)

The Laussy del Valle family presents you their first New Year's wishes. They are the first because Julia wasn't yet born last year and we weren't a full family without her, who, by Spanish custom, links our name with a soul.

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My August reading list: in relation to the Plaza Mayor

In the two weeks of holidays we have in August this year, I will be reading:

All these books are related in some (sometimes very indirect) way to the Plaza Mayor de Madrid.

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August 1, 1914: as seen from one hundred years.

His Majesty the Emperor, my august Sovereign, in the name of the German Empire, accepts the challenge

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How do you like your Sherry? Without police intimidation.

When Canalejas was shot in the streets of Madrid at the hands of an anarchist, he was alone. Even if he had been a criminal capitalist (it appears he was not), he died a victim. He was a prime minister.

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Per qualche dollaro in più

This morning I filed in a complain at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid train station, one of the many daily examples where ferocious capitalism raised its head way above common sense.

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My tenth YouTube video (in a thousand days and a month)

1034 days ago, I uploaded my first YouTube video [1], to celebrate Elena's birthday (on the 22). I now uploaded my tenth [2], on the Holy Week in Madrid.

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Death of Alain Resnais

New Year greetings (2014)

Regardless of a gloomy situation and of everything bad that may/could/can/will happen, one has to strive to be happy, resolutely happy, hopelessly happy, I therefore wish to wish you (no pun intended) a Happy New Year.

To emphasize that, I'll put it apart and in the official languages of our little group:

Feliz Año Nuevo.
Bonne Année.
С Новым Годом.
Feliz Ano Novo.

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The Nobel Prize in Physics 2013

It is great whenever a scientific breakthrough is so big that everybody knows the Nobel prize will be awarded according to the original wish of its atoning patron: to honor those who during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.

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Ô malheureux mortels ! Ô terre déplorable !

Voltaire wrote Candide from the shock of hearing about Lisbon's earthquake. This emotion was probably fueled by his rivarly with Rousseau on the question of Christianity. Voltaire's grief was, really, religion.

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Spanish manifestation against austerity and corruption (23F)

There was an important demonstration in Madrid and other Spanish cities yesterday, to protest against austerity and corruption.

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