Blogs is retiring

Dear readers,

On October 1, 2022, after a fruitful 15-year existence, the community will be discontinued and this website will be decommissioned.

We thank you all, readers and writers, and especially the community members who, through their contribution, made this adventure very interesting.

Although the website is now configured in a mode read-only, its content will remain accessible until the 30th of September (and perhaps a bit longer.)

We wish you all the best and peace for Ukraïna.

The moderators

Yūken (遊剣)

The beginning of the first page of a letter written by Ogura Noburu in January 2022

Notre ami Gérard (GG) a reçu une lettre de Ogura sensei, 8ème dan de Iai. Dans sa lettre, Ogura écrit qu’un de ses anciens sensei lui recommandait de pratiquer cinq fois plus que les autres. Dans sa lettre, il a également mentionné la notion de Yūken que je ne connaissais pas. Je lui ai donc demandé de me l’expliquer. Ogura sensei m'a répondu rapidement comme indiqué ci-dessous. Toutefois, sa lettre disait qu'il avait reçu des messages de kenyu (amis) ou déshi (disciples) de tout le Japon qui étaient stressés parce qu'ils ne pouvaient pas pratiquer autant qu'ils le voulaient à cause de COVID-19 et aussi l’avaient « bombardé » de nombreuses questions. En répondant à ces questions et en écrivant 700 à 800 cartes de vœux pour le Nouvel An, il souffrait et éprouvait de plus en plus de peine à tenir son pinceau.

Je l'ai donc appelé pour lui demander la permission de mettre sa lettre sur Internet. Son anniversaire est le 25 janvier, un mois après le mien. Ogura sensei est né dans l'année du chien (zodiaque chinois). Nous nous entendons bien. Nous avons ri pendant 37 minutes au téléphone.

Peut-on toujours pratiquer des arts martiaux quand on est une vieille femme ? lui ai-je demandé. Il a dit « Oui, c'est possible. Une vieille dame qui avait à peu près mon âge est venue nous voir, et a obtenu son 5ème dan. Elle a décidé de continuer pour obtenir son 6ème. » Il dit que yūken signifie être absorbé par quelque chose sans réfléchir, comme un enfant.

Si je devais comparer le yūken à la musique, je dirais que cela signifie atteindre un état de grâce, quelque chose de génial voire de divin, un peu comme lorsqu’Éric Clapton entre en transe, un état second hypnotiqsant, et joue comme un dieu.

Lire la suite 。。。

Are you a toxic optimist?

Recently, someone asked me why I am “always optimistic when some glasses are obviously half empty?” My belief in the silver lining can be uplifting for some people but suffocating for others, yet I am consistently positive. Perhaps it is my birth sign. Those who fancy astrology and horoscope would tell you that a Taurian is stable and determined.

An optimist says, “The glass is half full.”

A pessimist says, “The glass is half empty.”

An optometrist says, “You both need glasses.”

「遊剣」 居合道8段・小倉昇先生の手紙から

The beginning of the first page of a letter written by Ogura Noburu in January 2022

小倉昇先生に出会えたのは、ふたりのジェラルドのおかげだ。ふたりは欧州トップクラスの武道家で、彼らの弟子が私の夫( カンフーパンダ)だった。

前者のジェラルド は、どこかで小倉先生にお目にかかる機会があったらしい。直ぐに小倉先生に惹かれて、先生のお弟子さん宅にホームステイをさせてもらいながら修行をした。彼は栃木に2回長期滞在している。無我夢中で居合の稽古をしていた。そんなこととも知らず、彼らの眼の前に私が現れた。小倉先生との意思疎通をはかるには、下手なフランス語でも、彼には私が必要だった。多いときには、一日に10回位うちに電話がかかってきたこともあった。約20年前のことだ。




Feedback and Evaluation - Room for Improvement

Feedback and Evaluation are Different: Should they be anonymous or not?

Last month, I received feedback by email that included this sentence: “You gave verbal explanations of each point and systematically wrote any new vocabulary or expressions in the chat or as annotations in the documents to help the participants memorise them”. That feedback had only positive points and a strong nudge to continue the good work. It was her first time observing my online class. In previous years, the former “quality enforcer” always had “one thing” added to “continue the job well done”; I philosophised that she was making her position more worthwhile. At least, I knew who provided the feedback, and I had the opportunity to explain the whys of what I did.

Training participants are always encouraged to fill in anonymous online forms to rate the “quality” of their trainers. The original intention is to help improve the learning or training experience. However, it can become a revenge tool. Positive ratings and comments are rare from participants or students who have failed or received lower-than-expected grades. Non-constructive feedback derails progress and jeopardises “room for improvement” efforts.

At work, “evaluation” is a more appropriate word than “feedback”. The former is an assessment or judgement based on evidence, data and observations. A regular (i.e. once, twice or thrice a year) work appraisal is an evaluation and cannot be anonymous. Whereas the latter is about giving a message to help receivers shape behaviours that will assist them to improve their skills and performance.

About The Movie: Don’t Look Up

This film is hilarious and terrifying at the same time.

For those who have watched the movie... Yes, we have been there; No, not in the White House; just in that very situation. We have seen something similar in Luxembourg. It was just before the initial outbreak of COVID-19. We tried to nudge our representatives forward. Our discussion topic was about “black swan” events, the climate emergency, collapse and pauperization, alternative socio-economical system, and people’s money — a blockchained digital currency as a cornerstone of our solution.

Read more 。。。

Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022: A New Chapter

In January 2021, I wished my family and friends good health and success. I thought the COVID pandemic would be over before December. How wrong I was! The Delta and Omicron variants arrived swiftly and worrisomely.

We’re still in the pandemic; consequently, restrictions have been reintroduced or tightened. COVID passports and tests have become pet peeves for travellers. They have hampered many people from being with their families on two of the dearly celebrated occasions of the year: Christmas/December and New Year.

So, what is an appropriate wish for our family and friends in 2022? Is it the usual “good health, peace, prosperity, and happiness”? Which of these is the most important thing to have? Can someone be happy when suffering from poor health? Many poor people in developing countries are naturally happy. Peace is not easy to attain when you’ve poor health. Prosperity contributes to happiness and peace of mind (i.e. not worrying about food, shelter, medicine, etc.)

What is a good New Year’s greeting or wish? What does a sincere message do to us? For family and friends afar, it’s a way of letting them know that they have not been forgotten. Greetings and good wishes bring in positive feelings. They translate into smiles and nods.


Front cover of Home in the World the latest book of Amartya Sen



食べたことのない、美味しいスイーツのような味わいの良書は、すぐに読み終えるのはもったいなく、楽しみながら読了した。あるインド人の学者が「Fine book」と評していたが、端的にそうだと思う。新刊は笑いあり、涙あり。どっと笑える、ふきだす逸話も多い。




エージェンシー (agency)


最近、エージェンシーについて考えさせられる機会があった。エイズ、SARS、エボラ、そしてCOVID-19と、米国が直面する感染症との闘いをリードしてきた感染症の専門家であるトニー・ファウチAnthony Fauci。彼のドキュメンタリー映画「Fauci」を見た時だった。



Coincidences? Globality!

What happened last October 30 overawed me. Was it a desirable coincidence? Was it pure luck? Was it the work of what my Polish student calls an “angel” (a word she uses when a fortunate situation passes my way)? Whereas, my French friend said: “C’est magique”. I have no way to test these suppositions, so I have decided to share this story with you; you might have ideas about it too.

I was scheduled to be interviewed by the co-founder of the podcast “Qui a peur du feminisme” (Who is scared of feminism) at 7 pm. At 6:25, I got a text from a former student’s daughter saying they had left something outside our apartment door. When I opened the door, they had gone.

I put the paper bag under my desk and resumed practising my pronunciation of French words that I was likely to use during the interview. (Though I live in France, I hardly use this tricky language). The interview was on Zoom; at 6:50, I started to have a mixed feeling of anxiousness and boredom. So, I opened the bag and was surprisingly glad to see a beautifully wrapped t-shirt with the phrase “Excuse my French”. I put this t-shirt on right away, just on time for the interview. How appropriate for the occasion!

My former student’s family saw this t-shirt while shopping in Metz and thought of me. They decided to go out of their way to drop it in my place. Only my husband knew that I would be interviewed that evening, and he didn’t tell them.


French words Je t'aime (meaning I love you) written in flashy yellow on the sidewalk in the streets of Luxembourg

歩道のJe t'aimeという落書き。ルクセンブルク駅から自宅近くまで、5〜6メートルごとにジュ・テームと書いてある。警察署の前にもあった。好きな子の目につくように、小学生が書いたのだろうか。Je t'aimeの最終目的地は、近所の小学・中学校だろうか。


そう「あなたを愛している」という「両性の合意」以外に、婚姻の自由に必要なものはない。日本女性がエージェンシーを持ち自由に生きようとすると、かなり極端に社会からはみ出てしまう、というようなことをDavid Muraが(おそらくTurning Japanese)に書いていたのを思い出した。日本を離れたプリンセスも、その例かと思う。


Last month, I requested information from the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (known here as CEDIES). I was surprised to receive a response at 11 in the evening, just when I was about to switch off my phone. At first, I thought it was a scam or something, but it was the help I needed. Hence, I thanked the male sender and added, “I hope you’ll receive a trophy for working very late”. He answered, “Thank you for your kind words. We have been receiving many enquiries due to our move to online application and sometimes there’s a bug in the system, so I have to work longer”.

Was he only doing his job, or he is a naturally kind and helpful person? His kindness was evident in our email exchanges afterwards.

Two weeks later, I received an email from an EU public servant at 9:08 PM on a Sunday. I thanked him for the list I requested and said, “You deserve a gold medal for working on a Sunday evening?” He wrote back explaining that he would have meetings all day on Monday and didn’t want me to be inconvenienced for not having it.

Another kind and considerate public servant! Has work ethic, mentality, or behaviour been impacted by the COVID pandemic or teleworking? I hope this doesn’t jeopardise their personal relationships.

COP26 und Luxembourg

COP26 (Oktober 31 – November 12, 2021)

Was ist, wenn der Klimawandel bereits den Punkt erreicht hat, an dem es kein Zurück mehr gibt? Ein Kipppunkt, der zum unausweichlichen Systemkollaps führt, oder, mit anderen Worten, der unaufhaltsame Ökozid? Da wir uns nicht mehr auf das Klima verlassen können, das wir ziemlich stark geschädigt haben, und auch nicht auf den Boden, den wir so missbraucht haben, dass er verarmt und chemisch verseucht ist, dass er nicht mehr genutzt werden kann, was bleibt dann noch für die Landwirtschaft und die daraus resultierende Wirtschaft zu hoffen? Denn was können wir ohne gesunde Ernten in die Verkaufsregale stellen? Aber das sind die vorhersehbaren Folgen der jetzt stattfindenden Veränderung, die wir mit all unserem Geld nicht vermeiden können…[1]

Am 9. August 2021 veröffentlichte der Zwischenstaatliche Ausschuss für Klimaänderungen (IPCC) seine bisher schärfste Warnung. [2]. Er warnt vor großen und unvermeidlichen Klima- und Umweltveränderungen. Darüber hinaus werden im November dieses Jahres in Glasgow unter der Schirmherrschaft der Vereinten Nationen im Rahmen der COP26 wichtige Verhandlungen stattfinden, bei denen alle Fragen (sozialer, wirtschaftlicher, wissenschaftlicher und anderer Art) erörtert werden, die mit dem Klimaproblem fast aller Staaten zusammenhängen. Es wird erwartet, dass jedes der 195 teilnehmenden Länder seine konkreten Pläne und tatsächlichen Verpflichtungen zur drastischen Reduzierung seiner Treibhausgasemissionen vorstellt. Da der IPCC jedoch bereits deutlich davor warnt, dass eine Begrenzung der Erwärmung auf etwa 1,5°C oder sogar 2°C unerreichbar ist, wenn wir keine drastischen Anstrengungen unternehmen, könnte man sich fragen, ob die COP26 überhaupt sinnvoll ist. Die patentierte Apathie der politischen "Mächtigen", ihre lauwarme Unterstützung (wenn nicht sogar eine kaum verhüllte Feindseligkeit) für Bürgerinitiativen, die in die richtige Richtung gehen, und der Spielraum, der dem Druck der Lobbys (nicht nur der Industrie) eingeräumt wird, machen diese "COP"-Veranstaltungen bestenfalls zu Maskeraden und schlimmstenfalls zu einer schönen Schweinerei auf Kosten der Welt.

Weiterlesen 。。。

COP26 et le Luxembourg

COP26 (Octobre 31 – Novembre 12, 2021)

Et si le changement climatique rencontrait déjà son point de non-retour ? Un basculement menant à l’inéluctable faillite systémique ou, autrement dit, l’inexorable planéticide environnemental ? Ne pouvant plus nous fier au climat que nous avons passablement détraqué, ni aux terres dont nous avons abusées à l’extrême, au point de les voir si appauvries et chimiquement polluées qu’elles en sont inexploitables, que reste-il à espérer pour l’agriculture et l’économie qui en découle ? car sans culture saine, que mettre à l’étalage des magasins ? des productions agro-alimentaires industrielles gavées d’OGM et de pétrochimie ? en voilà un joli futur qui se dessine dans nos assiettes et celles des générations à venir ! Ce sont pourtant là des conséquences prévisibles du basculement qui s’opère maintenant, des conséquences que tout notre argent ne nous permettra pas d’éviter…[1]

Le 9 août 2021, le Groupe d'experts Intergouvernemental sur l'Évolution du Climat (GIEC) a publié son avertissement le plus sévère [2]. Il annonce des changements climatiques et environnementaux majeurs et inévitables. Par ailleurs, en novembre prochain à Glasgow, d'importantes négociations se tiendront sous l’égide des Nations Unies, dans le cadre de la COP26, pour discuter de toutes les matières (sociales, économiques, scientifiques et autres) liées au casse-tête climatique de presque tous les États. Chacune des 195 nations participantes doit y présenter ses plans concrets et de vrais engagements pour réduire fortement ses émissions de gaz à effet de serre. Toutefois, alors que le GIEC nous prévient d’ores et déjà clairement que la limitation du réchauffement aux alentours de 1,5°C, ou même à 2°C, sera hors de portée à moins d’efforts drastiques, on peut s’interroger sur l’utilité de l’exercice COP26, L’apathie patentée du « pouvoir » politique, son soutien mitigé (quand ce n’est pas un antagonisme à peine voilé) envers les initiatives citoyennes allant dans le bon sens et la place laissée aux pressions exercées par les lobbies (pas uniquement industriels) font de ces événements « COP » au mieux des mascarades et au pire de beaux gâchis sur le dos du monde.

Lire la suite 。。。

You are coaching or being coached

Two weeks ago, I received an email with this phrase: “If you’d like me to coach you to confidence and self-belief, reply to this email and let’s talk”. This had made me think about the essence of coaching and the talents of coaches. I don’t need coaching on confidence and self-belief; but, perhaps, in some areas. There is always room for improvement, and I’m perfectly imperfect.

What is coaching? Cambridge Dictionary defines coaching (UK – kəʊ.tʃɪŋ/ US -ˈkoʊ.tʃɪŋ) as

“the act of giving special classes in sports, a school subject, or a work-related activity, especially to one person or a small group” (Reference).

Collins English Dictionary’s definition of it includes

“training staff in business or office practice” and “giving a person special teaching in a particular subject” (HarperCollins Publishers (reference).

When I was young, I associated coaching only with sports. I have since changed my understanding of it. Coaching applies in every professional and personal area and in every aspect of one’s life.

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