Tuesday, August 31, 2004
My friend Aymen just got back from the olympics, we met up for lunch at the work canteen with Tanya and Sara. Aymen was positively beaming from ear to ear. He said he had a fantastic time, and that the atmposhere was brilliant. He even managed to get on Greek national TV, mostly due he says to his mixed up identity: a Sudanese-Londoner who lives in France.
But he got most excited in his reporting when he told us about all the boos the American olympic competitors were getting. He said that during the men's 100m, the crowds were booing the American Justin Gatlin for over 15 minutes. Apparently, the organisers had to replace his name on the stadium displays with a notice reading, please be quite you are delaying the start.
I asked Aymen if the spectators were mostly Greek. He said they were very mixed, people from all over the world as you might expect. He then went on to tell us stories of similar booing chorusses happening at other events. There was not a shadow of doubt in his mind that the boos were as a result of Iraq.
I had a look on the internet to see if I could find any papers reporting this. There wasn't much. I did find ESPN with a report entitled 'Americans encounter boos on the field, warm welcome on it'. However, their report carefully avoided giving any indication that the boos may have been a political statement against American foreign policy.
Instead, they just write a cheery piece attributing all the booing to normal crowd support for the underdog countries up against the superior US. They quote the coach of the women's football saying as saying, On the field, I think they're cheering for other teams... But one of the common denominators of all cultures is they cheer for the underdog.
I expect this is just media distortion, and don't believe for a minute that the Americans present didn't know why they were being booed. Aymen was even at the 100m with his American friend Erica, and he tells me she was keenly aware of the hostility and the reasons behind it.
So, the thing I like about this story of booing is the image it gives of the people from across the world giving a clear statement of their opinion to America.
But I have several American friends, and know full well that they are also against what is happening with their country. I really like the Americans I have met so far in my life.
We certainly should tell the Americans very clearly what we think politically about their country, but we will only be causing more friction if we forget that individually, they are human too.
The Americans who can listen to us trash their national ego are probably already listening. It's the other ones we need to worry about, and the lying media they listen to.
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Monday, August 30, 2004
can somebody please slap sleeping beauty?
In the perfect happy land of make believe all the cute furry animals were scurrying across the leafy glade, their lacy bonnets tied on with pink ribbons and their tiny wicker baskets filled to the brim with freshly rustled nuts.
Nice how Disney paints such charming pictures as that above for parents to silence their kids with kids. Kids love it, my neice included. The last time I spent a weekend with her in the UK, she must have watched Sleeping Beauty literally 8 times.
Now I am not going to say there is anything wrong with this sort of entertainment per se. It's just that the last time I looked at a squirrel in a park the little rodent wasn't wearing a bonnet, or carrying a basket of nuts. It's tail in fact was as bald as my dad's head and looked like it had just been passed through an electric pencil sharpener.
The discrepancy between Disney and reality wouldn't be an issue for me if it just involved a misunderstanding of the plight of a few animals. But there are a number of girls out there stuck in the Sleeping Beauty syndrome.
This is the one where a young girl, having gluttonously gorged herself on sappy Disney happy-ever-after fairytale romances, forms an idealised picture of the type of man she wants and the type of romantic relationship they will have. The fairytales have ceased to exist as a fantasies, and have become models for relationships.
I know girls living in this pink and frilly happy world. Their fantasies play out in their heads in incredibly fine detail. They imagine the man of their dreams approaching them under moonlit skies. They imagine him
chatting her up charming her with delicate phrases. They imagine the colour of the front door as they pass through it swept up in his arms into a blaze of marital nirvana.
There's only one small problem with this approach to relationships, and that is that the other person, the bloke, hasn't had a say in it.
If he wants to get involved with such a girl, the potential Prince Charming has the priviledge of forgetting his personality and ignoring any of his actual desires so that some girl can live out her life in dream land.
Naturally this doesn't work, since as soon as he has
got bored with the sex and his friends have stopped conratulating him on pulling someone so fit lost the magic, his genuine personality will reassert itself either in bursts of rage or splatters of cutting cynicism.
So take my advice guys. If you ever hear a girl you're seeing utter the words 'Prince Charming' with a distant look in her eye, run a mile!
And take my advice girls. The universe is a mystery, and nothing we can ever imagine will capture it. Leave your imaginations behind and step into the unknown.
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Friday, August 27, 2004
Well this has been a happy day.
Firstly, a group of MPs have written a report outlining Tony Blair's deceit over Iraq, and are gonna start proceedings to impeach him!
Apparently this group of rightfully disgruntled Scots and Welsh have resurrected some old parliamentary procedure for sorting out dodgy lying scumbag ministers. The last time it was used was 150 years ago.
After he managed to wriggle his ass out having anything pinned on it in all the other enquiries we've had, I well and truly hope he gets it straight up the jacksy.
The other reason this is a good day is 'cos it's friday, and I have a fun packed weekend ahead of me!
Tonight I'm off with Tanya, Sara and Oscar to play the bongos by the river, to eat barbecue and see stunning African dancing. Saturday I will probably fork out for a laptop, so that I can blog properly and in the comfort of my own home. Sunday I'm going bike riding out in the countryside with Holger, Jacqui and Daniella.
See you on Monday!
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Thursday, August 26, 2004
I remember when I was a kid, being fascinated by the stories my friend Nick would tell me of the quirky differences you could experience if you went abroad. He’d tell me that the ants were bigger, or that the beaches were made of sand and not pebbles. He’d talk about driving on the opposite side of the road, and eating exotic sausages.
My own first travels abroad were with my family during my early teens, going to Denmark and to France. Since then I have lived outside England for around 5 years in both France and Japan, and visited places all over Europe, Asia and North America.
These experiences have had a profound impact on my psyche. Something about the variety present between different cultures has reached far into my mind and left a deep impression, a burning curiosity to explore this aspect of human life.
It is not so much the superficial trivialities of enjoying and exploring another culture that entices me. Rather, it is a need to understand culture itself.
I want to know how culture works and what it consists of, how it influences me and what it is influenced by, why one thing is acceptable here but not there and what that means for our value systems and intercultural relations, whether is it possible to distil a self that is distinct from culture, what the world would look like to us without it, and how we can change it.
It’s clear to me that we live deeply embedded in our cultures and yet there seems to be hardly any general understanding of them in our day to day lives. We generally do not live our lives in a way that takes culture into account. Culture is subconscious.
This astounds me.
To me this signifies that we are hardly even awake in our world, that most of our behaviour is automatic and normally outside our conscious control.
I’d rather be awake, so here I am exploring.
I have made some progress in my explorations and hope to be able soon to post my first step - a definition of culture. But teasing my understanding out of my head in a way that makes sense and can be read is a slow process.
Hang on in there if you’re interested, and feel free to comment if you have any ideas of your own.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2004
english monkeys, french monkeys
Rolling down the street at the weekend, kebabs in hand, my friend Tim who was over from the UK and I were apparently called "English Monkeys" by some happy native residents.
Now I admit to being a bit hairy, and sometimes I can be seen walking about town eating a banana, but I don't think either me or Tim could manage to fool any ape experts that we were simian.
Tim was quite troubled by this mistake. He didn't really manage to calm down until he came across a story about the same misidentification being made by the English.
Going back to the time of the Napoleonic Wars, the British understandably had a great fear of a French invasion. The people could be found talking to each other over pork pies and beer, bristling with concern about the possibility of French infiltrators and spies.
Doing their bit for their country, the fishermen of Hartlepool kept a close watch over the English Channel for signs of any suspicious vessels lurking about, trying to invade and steal our fine sliced bread.
One tempestuous day, a French vessel was blown close to the English coast, struggling against a storm. The foul English weather proved too much for the French crew and eventually the battered vessel sunk. It was at this point that the onlooking fishermen turned their attention to the raggedy wreckage that had been tossed ashore amongst the froth and the surf.
The fishermen thought that none had survived the storm, until clinging to a sodden and splintered beam, one wet and sorrowful looking survivor was found. The ship's pet monkey been lucky, despite being dressed in an amusing military uniform.
The fishermen decided to question the monkey and set to work holding a trial right there on the beach. None of them had ever met a Frenchman, and since the creature said nothing in his own defense the fishermen came to the conclusion that the monkey was a French spy.
The punishment for this dastardly deed was death by hanging, and so the little chimp was left swinging in the rain, high on the mast of a fishing boat.
To commemerate this crazy tale, the people of Hartlepool turned to song. Here are the words of their cheery ditty...
In former times, when war and strife
The French invasion threaten'd life
An' all was armed to the knife
The Fisherman hung the monkey O !
The Fishermen with courage high,
Siezed on the monkey for a French spy;
"Hang him !" says one; "he's to die"
They did and they hung the monkey Oh!
They tried every means to make him speak
And tortured the monkey till loud he did speak;
Says yen "thats french" says another "its Greek"
For the fishermen had got druncky oh!
People singing, getting drunk, and demanding executions... Read The Sun down any pub and you might think nothing has changed much in 250 years ;o)
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Sometimes there are days when I look at my choice to move abroad and wonder whether it was right. What would it be like if I had never opened this Pandora’s box of life abroad, of mind broadening cultural discovery? The short and realistic answer is that I just don’t know.
What I do know is that when I went back to the UK after living in France and Japan, I got tired of the limits of living in my national culture, bored by the lack of variety, frustrated by hearing the same limited perspectives, and disenchanted by our national obsession with ourselves as if we were the only country on earth.
Coming to France and working where I do has certainly given me the cultural variety I sought. It has also given me a pretty sweet lifestyle, with a hectic social life amongst excellent friends, various adventurous sports to participate in, places to go to, sunshine, good healthy food, and a flat that I can afford on my own.
But it has subsumed me into someone else’s land. I am basically a foreigner.
I’m not complaining about anybody’s attitude. The Toulousain are tolerant people, and I am not a resistant foreigner. I speak French at work, socialise with French friends and join French groups. But there are always barriers to integration that need to be dealt with. Sometimes when I’m tired, I just yearn to be in a place where things are easier.
And then there are the people I have left in the UK.
My crumbly old grumpy granddad, the Great Gordon, is ill. My family are preparing for the worst, and I need to go home.
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Monday, August 23, 2004
having fun is killing me
People are always complaining that their lives are too busy, that they just don’t have enough time to fit in all the things they need to do. Well, my life has not been any different recently, but not for the usual reasons.
Where most people whine about how there’s too much work and not enough social life, I complain that there is too much social life and not enough work. In the last 3 months I think I’ve had only one evening at home, doing nothing.
Partly the reason is that Toulouse is a nice size town. This means that most people are living in the town centre and are within a walking distance of 10-15 minutes of each other.
The other reason is that the ex-pat social network is large, and very well connected. There’s always somebody doing something, and you’ll usually find out about it.
But tonight I’ve had enough and must stay in. I'm gonna drink water and eat salad, and not down beer or munch kebabs!
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Friday, August 20, 2004
You know, there are a lot of very beautiful women here in Toulouse. Girls in this city keep slim, and know how to look good.
One of these days I am going to take my digital camera around town and request snaps of the many beautiful bottoms on display, squeezed cheekily and temptingly as they are into low-cut jeans. Of course, the pictures will be tastefully taken and turned into a post to demonstrate to you all the truth of what I am saying - Toulouse is bottom heaven.
Unfortunately, it is also frustration hell.
I’ve been here nearly two years and in that time I have remained annoyingly single. Not only me, but also pretty much all my male friends are also single.
It’s not as if I am some sort of (totally) freaky male-orientated engineer geek type. I have a lot of very good friends who are girls. I am just stuck in that singleton rut that some of us get into.
I confess that I am quite shy when it comes to chatting to girls I meet randomly in bars and stuff. I am the warm-up slowly type, and not the flirty chat-up type. Contrived chat-up situations make me stiffen.
But whilst this might have something to do with my being single, I don’t think it is the whole story.
My friends and I often ponder on the causes of our status as “celibataires”. We have come to the conclusion that French girls, who naturally form the majority of the women in this city, are mostly only interested in French men.
Now, it always gets a bit dangerous when using such terms as “French girls” or “English boys” or “Japanese people”. These terms encompass a wide variety of different and unique human beings. Nevertheless, there is still a mainstream of people whose behaviour can be commented on in general terms.
So, making a generalisation about the mainstream of French people from the region around Toulouse, I feel confident in saying that they value their life and culture here highly. The culture includes what I perceive to be a fairly rigid framework of rules which must be followed during the activities in which they socially mingle.
These activities include evening dinners, or outings to the restaurants or cafés, or calm house parties where the music is so low you can hardly hear it over the hum of conversation.
And this I think this is the crux of the problem: the French engage in conversation in polite and rigidly defined social settings.
A significant function of this rigid socialising is to allow people to measure and advance their position in the social pecking order.
Importantly, to engage in the social network, you must be in a couple.
So, I may be wrong, but my conclusion is that in general, relationships amongst the French here in Toulouse are not entered into purely on the basis of love, liking or interest in another person. Having a relationship facilitates a person’s entry into French social life, and therefore has a functional purpose. You need a partner to be somebody in France.
Given this situation, there would be no point selecting a partner who was not well versed in the delicate rules and nuances of what to say and do at a French social meeting. Being with someone who committed various ‘faux-pas’ just wouldn’t do, so you wouldn’t get invited, and you would be a nobody.
And there we have it.
Being foreigners, we are high risk social material. I mean, invite us out and we might do anything. We might talk loudly, or mention McDonalds, or not know the name of the current foreign minister, or have a dissenting opinion about the ban on Muslim teachers wearing their veils in schools, or fill our wine glasses beyond the two-thirds mark.
What a nightmare! How could you bear all the shock and embarrassment?!?!
The other explanation I suppose, is that I am just pig ugly ;o)
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Thursday, August 19, 2004
the inevitable post on iraq
One of things that I find the most valuable about blogging is that it allows us to delve into a multitude of different points of view and sources of information. Before the internet and blogging, we were largely limited to nationally biased newspapers and television for our picture of the world. This is no longer true.
The amount of information freely available just one click from a google search makes it much easier for us to expand our perspective of events, and follow our suspicions about official government lines and propaganda.
Before the Iraq invasion, I clearly remember searching for anything on ‘Iraqi oil reserves’. The information I found helped me to paint a convincing picture for myself about the wider reasons why we were so keen to invade Iraq.
Fact1: Iraq possesses the 2nd largest proven reserves of oil
Fact2: Oil is a finite resource and it is going to run out.
Fact3: Our entire western lifestyle and world economy is built on oil.
If I was a president or a prime-minister, invading Iraq on the basis of ‘spreading democracy’ or ‘findings WMD’ would seem to me like ridiculous and silly motives compared to the longer term national need to secure the oil in order to mitigate against the impact of these facts.
Securing the oil enables us to ensure the continuation of our elevated status in the world pecking order, and it enables the owners of capitalism to maintain their position in society by continuing to squeeze money out of consumers. Consumers themselves are mostly quite happy to keep guzzling up the planet we live on.
But of course you can’t sell these as reasons to go to war. As a result we were presented with the ridiculous and highly unbelievable lines about ‘democracy’ and ‘WMD’.
If you look into history you will find example upon example of the fact that our governments have been trotting out literally the same lines and playing the same old game of domination for centuries.
They use various ploys such as demonising an enemy, and give us 'moral' or defensive reasons why we should, on their behalf and in order to take control of another state, kill ourselves and other members of the human race. When an enemy attacks, our leaders fail to mention to us all the antagonism our society caused which led up to the attack. They hide the fact from us that they schemed for such an event as a pretext for invasion.
Back to the impact of blogging, I think Mr Blair especially (a self confessed techno-idiot) has underestimated the impact of information technology on this invasion and domination game.
While there are still those who will continue to be selective in their perspective and fail to understand that all life is sacred, and not just their little bit of it, others of us can seek out the truth.
When governments lie, their lies can now be much more easily exposed and ridiculed. If they demonise enemies, we can find blogs and discover that they are human. If the reportage of war is distorted by the media, we can get down to ground and find out the horror from a soldier’s perspective.
I hope that this is a development in history, and that in a hundred years or less humans will look back at us now and laugh about what a bunch of brainless idiots we were, until we managed to figure peace out.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2004
In the dark of last night I woke to a dramatic and confusing moment. My eyes were open and I was staring around my bedroom, looking at the edge of the open door and the dim city light defining the shape of the window. But for about 10 seconds I could not for the life of me figure out where I was.
My head was first stuck in England, trying to make sense of the scene and match it to places. But of course there was no match, and my mind wrestled with itself in agitation at not-knowing.
The sense of being misplaced, being in the wrong place, was intense and profound, reaching deep down into my sleepy dream emotions.
Finally my mind arrived at the knowledge that I was in my room in Toulouse, and the sensation passed. I lay back down onto my futon, and dropped again into sleep.
This morning I was emailing my very good friend Nick who I have just been on holiday with, and I mentioned this episode of night-time weirdness. He responded, and told me that exactly the same thing had happened to him last night.
We must have been in 7 different beds over the two weeks we were on holiday. Clearly there is some effect on the mind of moving around so much in too short a space of time.
Strangely, while on holiday we both agreed that the time we felt we had been in Sri-Lanka seemed much much longer than it would seem if we had passed the days back at our homes. Although a time-scale is hard to quantify, it felt like atleast a month had gone by when it was only about 11 days by the clock.
It is as if by being physically in so many different places, we caused the mental and emotional sensation of much more time having passed.
What was it Einstein was saying about space and time being two aspects of the same thing?
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Tuesday, August 17, 2004
The mystery is solved. My car has been found. Down the municipal pound.
Apparently the police had dragged it away on the 11th August, citing the fact that it was illegally parked. It was only parked on a pedestrian crossing for Christ’s sake – what’s their problem! ;o)
I had to cough up over 100 euros to get the thing out again, and I still have to pay 70 euros for the two tickets I got. Feck! Just what I need with several thousand euros in taxes to pay next month.
There must be some of you out there thinking, well what do you expect?. In my defence I can only tell you that parking in Toulouse is quite special.
Being parked on a crossing is good parking by Toulouse standards.
Most evenings you can find cars parked nose to nose in the middle of the roads, or sideways onto the pavements, or boot out into junctions. I’ve even seen people drive big old 4x4s into town and park them on traffic islands with curbs 5 inches high!
The proof of the permissibility of parking here is that it took the police about 12 days before towing me. Good to have an indication of how long I can get away with being dodgily parked, I suppose!
Must say a very big thankyou to Jacqui who kindly drove me about between the police station, work and home trying to sort the mess out. Cheers JC :o)
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Monday, August 16, 2004
Today is a grumpy day, that’s for sure.
I flew back into Toulouse last night, arriving delayed about 10pm after my third flight in 4 days. Although I spent my whole holiday haggling over prices with taxi drivers in both Sri Lanka and Qatar, I still managed to get ripped off by the bastard taxi driver on my way home.
Ah well never mind, I thought, atleast I’m home safely and I’ve got my bags and everything.
In this weary but positive frame of mind, I dragged my ruck-sacked body up the street and the three flights of stairs to my apartment door. My head remained tired but lost its cheeriness when, trying to open my front door, I found that it was unlocked.
Imagine – my flat open to all potential burglars for more than 2 whole weeks! Can I have really gone on holiday without locking my door?!
Naturally, I expected to find that the whole place had been cleaned out. Fortunately though, not all people in Toulouse are as dodgy as the airport taxi drivers. Everything was exactly as I had left it. Phew!
Reassured, I put on some music, unpacked and stuck my stinky washing in the machine. Settling down into my bed was a serious pleasure, being reacquainted with my own familiar feather pillows and my own familiar queen size duvet.
I got up well rested this morning, ironing that first crumpled work shirt, polishing my dusty work shoes and trying my hardest not to be too much of a miserable git. It was nice to wander out of the flat and back into my home streets, along the river, and into a Boulangerie for a breakfast chocolatine.
The effect of these little pleasures on my good mood was seriously reduced though, when I couldn’t find my car in the space I am sure I left it in. :o/
Who knows, maybe I left it somewhere else. I shall be searching the streets later, after catching up with my good friend Jacqui. Meanwhile, I’m slowly training my mind to think about work again.
It’s not easy. I have a hundred different ideas spinning about after the last two weeks. Give me a few days and I might manage to get some of them out of my head and into this blog.
For those of you that read this far, I know there is a problem with the markup on this blog. I haven't got a clue what to do about it however! If anybody has any ideas, please comment.
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Thursday, August 12, 2004
Here I am waiting, already checked in and scanned for bombs, guns and drugs. Muzac is chiming sleepy background melodies, willing me to nip into the duty free shop and spend my left over rupees on the usual junk. We managed to avoid the departure tax, so maybe I'll pop over. Or I could just convert the 1000Rps into Qatar Reals for tomorrow's stopover in Doha, Desert Safari included.
Not quite sure what wild animals will be threatening to eat me in the desert. There certainly won't be any elephants. Not like here in Sri Lanka - saw about 50 of them herding it around wild in a nature reserve.
I have this strange feeling of having been here for almost ever. Driving up the road back to the airport from Columbo, I can easily remember the minor traffic accident that forced us out of our cab and into a tut-tut, on our way down into the city on the 1st August. But so much has happened in the meantime and we've hardly stopped to think about it.
Sri Lanka has been an excellent holiday. Starting with the beaches of Nilaveli and the reef and wreck diving, we found the people friendly and the trains dirt cheap. The bus to the ancient city of Pollonaruwa wasn't so comfortable, but the sights were fine nonetheless. Crumbly red bricks, pagodas and goats under a warm leafy sky. Don't bother with a guide though, if you ever go.
Together with les francais Stephane and Helene the private air-con taxi down to Kandy was a bit more luxurious. We stopped in Sigiriya to mount the heights of the mountain fortress, looking over the deep deep jungle dotted with elephants, and sniggering at the ancient cheeky frescoes.
In Kandy we managed to hook up with a Government Official. Major Kumar is in charge of security for all the hydroelectric installations in the country, so he took us up to have a 'limited access' tour of the Victoria Falls dam, looking from 100m down onto two converging rampaging rivers. And he paid for all our meals for 2 days. Very nice!
Being English, it was pretty interesting checking out a tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya, high up in the mountains. So now I know where PG Tips comes from.
When we made it back to Columbo yesterday, we decided to stay in the 'Mount Lavinia' area, down the beach. It was a seriously good move since the main area of town up by the Fort is basically a bit of a dump, and completely dead at night. The streets of Mount Lavinia remind be a little of some Tokyo backstreets. And then there's the Mount Lavinia hotel - a plush colonial 4 star with excellent views along the bay and a tasty Mongolian Barbecue using meat without any bones in.
So, on to Doha!
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Thursday, August 05, 2004
Testing Meme Propagation In Blogspace
This posting is a community experiment that tests how a meme, represented by this blog posting, spreads across blogspace, physical space and time. It will help to show how ideas travel across blogs in space and time and how blogs are connected. It may also help to show which blogs are most influential in the propagation of memes. The dataset from this experiment will be public, and can be located via Google (or Technorati) by doing a search for the GUID for this meme (below).
The original posting for this experiment is located at: Minding the Planet (Permalink) --- results and commentary will appear there in the future.
Please join the test by adding your blog (see instructions, below) and inviting your friends to participate -- the more the better. The data from this test will be public and open; others may use it to visualize and study the connectedness of blogspace and the propagation of memes across blogs.
The GUID for this experiment is: as098398298250swg9e98929872525389t9987898tq98wteqtgaq62010920352598gawst (this GUID enables anyone to easily search Google (or Technorati) for all blogs that participate in this experiment). Anyone is free to analyze the data of this experiment. Please publicize your analysis of the data, and/or any comments by adding comments onto the original post (see URL above). (Note: it would be interesting to see a geographic map or a temporal animation, as well as a social network map of the propagation of this meme.)
To add your blog to this experiment, copy this entire posting to your blog, and then answer the questions below, substituting your own information, below, where appropriate. Other than answering the questions below, please do not alter the information, layout or format of this post in order to preserve the integrity of the data in this experiment (this will make it easier for searchers and automated bots to find and analyze the results later).
REQUIRED FIELDS (Note: Replace the answers below with your own answers)
(1) I found this experiment at URL: http://ledanois.blogspot.com/2004/08/testing-meme-propagation-in-blogspace.html
(2) I found it via "Browsing the Web"
(3) I posted this experiment at URL: http://glacons.blogspot.com
(4) I posted this on date (day, month, year): 05/08/04
(5) I posted this at time (24 hour time): 20:13:00
(6) My posting location is (city, state, country): Polonnarawa, Sri Lanka
OPTIONAL SURVEY FIELDS (Replace the answers below with your own answers):
(7) My blog is hosted by: Blogger
(8) My age is: 29
(9) My gender is: Male
(10) My occupation is: Aeronautical Engineer
(11) I use the following RSS/Atom reader software: Bloglines
(12) I use the following software to post to my blog: Blogger, Email
(13) I have been blogging since (day, month, year): 11/07/04
(14) My web browser is: IE2
(15) My operating system is: Windows 2000
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