Brothers and sisters,
I will start my weekly sermon by quoting Thomas Jefferson who said:
“Peace is that brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading”.
This quote by way, was sent to me by Bart Zachofsky who is a fine “connaisseur » of “bons mots”.

I believe that most of the world’s problems stem from early indoctrination. That is, teaching a person or a group to uncritically accept a set of (often-outrageous) beliefs.
This technique works best with young children, but not children only.
All absolute rulers are adepts at this manipulation and start brainwashing their progeny at a very early age.
To name just a few, the Nazis, the Communists, the Khmer Rouges, the Papists, the Salafis, the Polygamists, the Taliban etc… all started indoctrinating their children the minute they stopped breastfeeding.

What is taught at such a vulnerable age has lasting effects and consequences.
I remember seeing pictures of young German children dressed in Nazi uniforms enthusiastically saluting the Führer.
Similarly, I saw a few days ago, a picture of a young Palestinian child wearing a military uniform and clutching a submachine gun.

What can you expect from such children? Nothing but the perpetuation of hateful beliefs and its deadly consequences.

To stop this infernal cycle you need to reprogram these genetically modified toddlers.

Here is my idea on how to quell these deadly epidemics.
First, lure unsuspecting children (with instead of virgins, promises of iPads, XBoxes and sugary stuff) to robust democracies.
Teach them to develop critical thinking instead of spewing stale dogmas and parachute them in their countries of origin to plant and spread the seeds of rational thinking.
Why couldn’t after all the Afghans educate their women and enjoy a Lady Gaga of their own?

My seemingly crazy idea stems from a 1974 French movie called “Les Chinois a Paris » (Chinese in Paris).
In this movie, the Chinese invade France and take over the country.
For a while everything goes swimmingly, but soon the young Chinese conscripts become enamored with the decadent French lifestyle, and to the horror of their leaders, start to question and stray from the sacrosanct Communist dogmas.
The Chinese hierarchy fearing greater damage hastily withdraws its troops and sends them home.
But it is too late. The returning soldiers infected with the capitalistic virus of free thinking, contaminate in turn the Chinese population who start clamoring for justice and an end to communist rule.

This scenario by the way is not that far-fetched. It was successfully implemented in 1917 when Germany smuggled a certain Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) back into Russia.
The aim of this operation was to weaken Tsarist resistance by planting revolutionary unrest among the Russian troops.
It worked, and shortly after, the Russian Revolution took flight and Tsarist Russia ceased to exist.

So let’s start enticing children from rigidly authoritarian countries and put them in places where they are taught the concept of freethinking, religious freedom, gender equality and the benefits of peace.
Then, on a moonless night, parachute them back where they came from to disseminate the Good Word.

We all can dream, can’t we?




Close friends are not unlike diamonds; they are rare and precious and should be treated accordingly.
Only after you have cemented that close bond called friendship, are you entitled to some degree of familiarity with kindred spirits, but absolutely never before!
I am against the forced intimacy that some individuals are trying to foist upon others. Calling a waitress “honey” or “sweetheart” at the first encounter is absolutely distasteful. It is patronizing and demeaning; if I were the waitress, I would certainly have a few chosen words with those behaving that way.

Instant intimacy! This is definitely one of my “bêtes noires”.
Generally speaking I am not fond of anything instantaneous.
I do not like to be called by my first name by somebody I just met. My last name is a different story; it’s my outer shell and everybody can have a whack at it.

A long time ago a Highway Patrolman stopped me for some trivial matter. He demanded to see my driver’s license and then proceeded to write me a ticket. Once he was done he said “Goodbye Alain. Please be more careful.”
Goodbye Alain? Whatever happened to “Sir” or “Mister”? Did we become instant buddies because I let him peek at my driver’s license?
Nobody should have the right to call me by my first name unless I say so.

And that’s why I prefer by far romance languages over English.  In French (Spanish and Italian) for instance, you have two ways of addressing people: the formal way (vous) for strangers, and the familiar way (tu) for friends, lovers and relatives.
Nobody with a bit of “savoir-vivre” would be gauche enough to use “tutoiement” with a total stranger. It would be considered extremely rude and offensive.

Not so in American society where everybody professes to be your pal.
Call me old fashioned, but I prefer a slow progression toward intimacy rather than the “instant familiarity” favored by Americans. I’d rather spend ten years building up and nurturing a true friendship rather than rushing into an artificial comradeship based on beer, pretzels and television commercials.

Call me quaint but I am not your friend until our friendship have been tested and validated.
Then, and only then, are you allowed to call me by my first name and use the familiar way exclusively reserved for friends or lovers.
Not being your friend by the way, doesn’t preclude me from being friendly, but I am not your friend until we have shared some common joys and sorrows together.

I am not everybody’s friend, nor do I want to be.

Let me have five close mates and I’ll gladly let you keep all the rest of your Facebook-style “friends”.


Hi Alain: (may I call you Alain?) It was not always this way in the US.. when I was young (40s and 50s) everyone called other persons by their last names, as in my mother “Mrs Gilman”, me..”Mrs. Toulon”, and all children were taught to say this always, and if they didn’t know the last name, they had to say “Sir” or “M’aam”.. I remember that somewhere near the early 70s it changed, and I was upset when a nurse in the hospital called me “Jan”.. my children’s friends still call me Mrs.Toulon ! I love it in France when I can say “Monsieur” or Madame, or “Mademoiselle” without the last name, as I can never remember everyone’s names!
I miss the formality too….
Jan Toulon 


Le Père Noël

J’ai écrit le texte ci-dessous au mois de mai 2011. Noël approchant  j’ai relu cette histoire, et vu la situation au Moyen-Orient, mon opinion n’a pas changé d’un iota. C’est pourquoi je publie à nouveau cet éditorial aujourd’hui.


Quand j’étais très jeune, j’ai évidemment cru au Père Noël.
Pourquoi évidemment?
Ben, parce que comme tous les enfants de mon âge, j’ai été conditionné et endoctriné. A force de m’entendre répéter que si j’étais un bon petit garçon, Papa Noël viendrait et m’apporterait de jolis cadeaux, j’y ai cru !
C’est normal, non ?

Mais un peu plus tard, quand j’ai été plus a même de réfléchir et de penser pour moi-même, j’ai commencé à avoir des doutes.
Le Père Noël, ce brave homme, il est bien gentil, mais donner des cadeaux a tous les gosses du monde… et en une seule nuit, c’est quand même assez difficile.
Et puis son traineau, il est quand même un peu petit… Et s’introduire dans toutes ces cheminées (malgré sa bedaine) sans se salir … Et se souvenir de tous ces noms et de toutes ces adresses…

Un jour donc, j’en suis venu à la conclusion que tout cela ne tenait pas debout, et j’ai cessé de croire au Père Noël.
J’ai cessé de croire parce que je me suis permis d’analyser la situation et de tirer mes propres conclusions. Je suis heureusement Cartésien, et si les chiffres ne s’additionnent pas proprement, je n’y crois pas.
A en juger la situation dans le monde, Il n’y a malheureusement que très peu d’esprits cartésiens sur notre planète… et c’est la cause de tous nos malheurs.

Il y a encore beaucoup de gens qui, malgré leur âge avancé, croient encore au Père Noël.
Les Musulmans, les Juifs, les Chrétiens, les Hindous… ils croient tous au Père Noël!
Et malgré des preuves irréfutables qu’on les a bernés, ils s’accrochent désespérément  à des croyances moyenâgeuses et sont prêts à s’entretuer à la moindre provocation.

Pourquoi ? Parce qu’ils ont été endoctrinés a un très jeune âge, et parce que les soi-disant défenseurs de la foi, jaloux de leurs prérogatives, leur ont expressément interdit de questionner des niaiseries démodées.
Jésus, Mahomet, Moïse, les prophètes… balivernes ! Rien que balivernes !

Croire a des contes de fées, c’est une chose, mais égorger (au nom de leur dieu miséricordieux) tous ceux qui n’y croient pas, c’est autre chose.
Et c’est ce que font tous ces « croyants » sur tous les continents de notre pauvre planète !
Horreur, horreur, horreur !

Quand a moi, je suis solidement républicain et anti-calotin, et si plus de gens analysaient un peu plus froidement ce que l’on leur débite dans les églises, les synagogues, les mosquées, croyez moi, nos vaches seraient beaucoup mieux gardées !