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:: Wednesday, June 30 2004 ::

You know why I like Alanis Morissette? Because either (a) she's had a really interesting life, or (b) she sings about fictitious things as if she had lived them, or (c) some combination thereof. She is also a year older than I, which makes her my peer, and one of the few celebs I follow for that reason - a nice way to track your own progress against someone else doing interesting things.
:: David (14:34 in Michigan, 20:34 in Paris)

I'm sure you've all heard about this, but I thought I would mention it anyway. From an article on the BBC:

The US army has moved to recall nearly 6,000 former soldiers to active service to help maintain its force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It has played down the move but this is the first sizeable call-up of the kind since the 1991 Gulf War and critics say it amounts to backdoor conscription.

I hadn't realized this existed - I thought if you were in the military, and left, that was it. You could go reserve, and I know people who have, but I thought that was optional. Apparently I was mistaken. It's a very interesting turn of events, and one which isn't going to help the Republicans. I don't know how many soldiers vote Democrat (I've always had the impression they by and large did not) but I think the number may grow after this.
:: David (07:58 in Michigan, 13:58 in Paris)

:: Tuesday, June 29 2004 ::

We went and looked at our first apartment today. A guy at work was renting it out for his landlady, who lives near Switzerland. It was a two-bedroom, but got no sun, and the neighbourhood didn't really grab me. So we've pretty much decided to take a pass and see what the next place (which we will visit on Thursday) has to offer.

I think I'm going through culture shock, just a little bit, with summer here and the job not really thrilling me. It might be time to take a break, head somewhere pleasant and not think about tax systems for a little while. Of course, that's been part of the problem - I've been thinking about proofing documents and so forth rather than the technical details of taxes, and it hasn't been that thrilling. We may have hit a low point today/tomorrow, as it appears there are text files to be edited. Nothing like removing 500 line breaks to take the life out of your party. But next week begins my French classes for the summer, so hopefully things will get more interesting before too long....
:: David (17:07 in Michigan, 23:07 in Paris)

:: Monday, June 28 2004 ::

Want some fun and excitement in your life? Read the supreme court decision on Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, in which Clarence Thomas talks about bizarre Israelite armies, and the majority decide that the government can't hold someone indefinitely without access to judicial review to decide if they are, in fact, an 'enemy combatant'.
:: David (16:14 in Michigan, 22:14 in Paris)

An article in the Wall Street Journal, Europe points out that democracy and business don't necesarily go together. Titled "Multinationals Find Putin’s Tight Control Helps Clarify Business", it begins like this:

MOSCOW-The Kremlin’s steady tightening of its grip on Russia’s political and economic scene has sown alarm in Western capitals and sent chills through the stock market here. But for many big foreign companies looking at projects in Russia, the changes look more like a green light. "We need to have a clear direction of where the country is going," says Lars Olofsson, head of Nestlé SA’s European operations. "I think that is what can be expected of the current government." Since he took office in 2000, President Vladimir Putin has reined in upstart regional governors and won a commanding majority in Parliament. He dominates a political scene that critics now warn shows dangers of looming authoritarianism. The Kremlin’s legal assault against oil giant OAO Yukos has triggered criticism from Washington and Brussels and torpedoed the Russian stock market. But for many big multinational companies used to operating in less-than-democratic countries, Mr. Putin’s assertiveness isn‘t such a bad thing.
To begin with, I find the fact that Nestlé was the company cited first tremendously amusing. But, in addition, the fact that articles like this get written makes me more and more nervous about the direction the west has taken vis-a-vis business and liberty.
:: David (12:46 in Michigan, 18:46 in Paris)

From an article titled "No way to fill an important post" with the sub-header "A farcical process for choosing the Commission president" the Financial Times weighs in on the selection of the next European Commission president:

Ultimately someone had to get the job of president of the European Commission - as Bertie Ahern, Ireland’s prime minister, said ruefully 12 days ago. That someone has turned out to be José Manuel Durão Barroso, Portugal’s premier, who is expected to have his appointment agreed at an emergency summit tomorrow. However, the process by which he has been chosen has been a farce, in which other excellent candidates were eliminated on entirely spurious grounds.


former premiers who succeeded him. Mr Barroso may turn out to be the right appointment for the job, but for now he seems to have been chosen because he was the last man standing in a knockout contest. His successor must not be chosen in this way.

The Independant was less forgiving of the incoming president:
Although European leaders routinely say they want a stronger, more dynamic European Commission, the appointment of Mr Durao Barroso suggests otherwise.
As near as I can work out, for the past two weeks various countries have been setting up, and knocking down, candidates for the post which effectively runs the day-to-day of the European Union. Politics has primarily been at fault - the Iraq war, the Euro, etc. For a little while it was unclear that anyone would take the job, and Bertie Ahern looked like he might get stuck with it. Instead, a compromise was reached, which, it would appear, has pleased noone.
:: David (12:41 in Michigan, 18:41 in Paris)

According to Reuters, the US has left the country:

The United States has handed over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government, formally ending a 14-month occupation two days earlier than expected to try to forestall guerrilla attacks.

In a surprise ceremony on Monday that was over before it was announced and before ordinary Iraqis were aware of it, Iraq's outgoing U.S. governor, Paul Bremer, gave a letter to Iraqi officials sealing the formal transfer of powers. Within hours, Bremer flew out of the country, a coalition source said.

Talk about ducking out! So much for the talk that said the President Bush was going to sneak into the country for a big ceremony, etc. etc! Just hand over the reins, cut, and run.
:: David (06:26 in Michigan, 12:26 in Paris)

According to '20 minutes' today, there were between 500,000 and 700,000 people at the Pride parade on Saturday. Wow! There were actually a number of interesting articles in the French press today concerning the topic, including one in Le Monde talking about how the question cuts across party lines (as it seems to do everywhere).
:: David (03:31 in Michigan, 09:31 in Paris)

:: Sunday, June 27 2004 ::

From the Ann Arbor News:

Man in underwear breaks window

A 30-year-old man clad in only boxer shorts was found lying on an Ann Arbor lawn Wednesday where he had hurled a rock through a window and claimed he washed down the river from Flint to Ann Arbor, city police said.

The Flint man told officers that a flash flood overturned his boat on a river in Flint, reports said. He said he somehow ended up in Ann Arbor and was trying to get help, so he threw the rock through a picture window in 2500 block of Prairie Street, reports said. Police called his home, and his mother said she had no idea how he got to Ann Arbor and that she had not seen him for five days, reports said.

The man was arrested on a charge of malicious destruction of property and a felony warrant, police said.

Well, it turns out the victim of the crime was a blogger, and blogged a damned funny account of events, from his point of view. I ran across this on Ann Arbor is Overrated and had to share.
:: David (16:53 in Michigan, 22:53 in Paris)

Things that just confuse - Nazi Germany was quite progressive, when it wasn't being the hand of satan on earth. For example, "Many Nazis were environmentalists; many were vegetarians. [Including Hitler himself.] Species protection was a going concern, as was animal welfare." It makes no sense. In addition,

The Nazis had established the link of smoking to lung cancer decades before public health officials in Western democracies acknowledged this fact. In fact, Nazi Germany first established the tobacco-lung cancer link in the late 1930s. Smoking was banned in public places.
The quotes above are from an article titled "The Nazi Seduction", which reviews a number of books recently released about the nazis, and asks 'why are we still fascinated?'
:: David (13:58 in Michigan, 19:58 in Paris)

Ah hah! The opinion piece that started it all. This is the article I read one morning on the metro to work that made me realize that Niall Ferguson is crazy.
:: David (12:52 in Michigan, 18:52 in Paris)

You may remember a little while back I cited an article by Niall Ferguson. Someone else has read, well, something else by him, and articulated what I had thought, but not said:

It is unpleasant, if compelling in a train-wreck kind of way, to watch what can happen when such a dynamic mind veers dramatically off-track; he can take a lot of people crashing into an intellectual ditch with him. After September 11, Ferguson provided much of the theoretical ballast for a group of British-inflected thinkers--among them Max Boot and Marc Steyn--who urged empire on a newly expansionist American regime, acting as a transatlantic goad, the collective ghost of pith helmets past.
The article, titled "Right Man's Burden" is by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, and it points out what a smart man armed with knowledge of history can do to himself and those around him.
:: David (12:40 in Michigan, 18:40 in Paris)

A piece in the NYT by Thomas Friedman today has the following 'headlines he's like to see':

Bush Administration Calls an End to the "War on Terrorism." No, I haven't taken leave of my senses on the way out the door. I realize that we have enemies and they need to be confronted. But I do not want this to be all that America is about in the world anymore, and that is what has happened under this administration. I don't want the rest of my career to be about an America that exports fear, not hope, and ends up importing everyone else's fears as a result. I don't want it to be about explaining to young Chinese why my government can't give them student visas anymore. I don't want it to be about visiting U.S. Embassies around the world and finding them so isolated behind barbed wire, they might as well not be there at all. Defeating "them" has begun to define "us" in too many ways.
Apparently Friedman is writing another book, and thus posted a list of 'wish list' items he would like to see in the near future.
:: David (05:48 in Michigan, 11:48 in Paris)

The night bus, again! Second night in a row, and this is the second time we've ridden it (or anybus, for that matter!) It was once again crowded and full of scary people, including one guy who got off the bus and immediately started running, one presumes with someone else's wallet. But it got us home, so it can't be all bad.
:: David (21:13 in Michigan, 03:13 in Paris)

:: Saturday, June 26 2004 ::

Accidentally ran into a Gay Pride parade in Paris today. I took lots of photos. It was a laugh riot, and loud too!
:: David (15:21 in Michigan, 21:21 in Paris)

I just found a kind of fun website, while looking for info on what was showing at the Luxembourg Gardens. It's a site of webcams of Paris, so if you want to know what the traffic looks like on the seine, or how many people are shopping on the Rue du Rivoli, you can watch it live.
:: David (06:12 in Michigan, 12:12 in Paris)

It's sad, really, because although France certainly didn't deserve to go on in Euro 2004, neither did Greece, really. Oh well. Looks like I'll have to pick a new team to root for.
:: David (04:31 in Michigan, 10:31 in Paris)

:: Friday, June 25 2004 ::

This amused me - apparently Houston just isn't ready for public transport. The proof? Everyone keeps running into the train.
:: David (12:16 in Michigan, 18:16 in Paris)

Now this is sad news - Bob Bemer, a pioneer in the field of computers, died recently, according to an article on the BBC. Bob Bemer, an alum of Albion College, led the team which standardized ASCII, a key technology which allows (still today) computers to display text characters.

I had the great fortune to have lunch with Bob Bemer when he came to Albion in 1999. He was exactly what you'd expect, really, and since we were meeting him as a group of computer enthusiasts it was a really fun time. Somewhere there still exists a copy of his license plate (it says, simply, ASCII).
:: David (11:45 in Michigan, 17:45 in Paris)

The Guardian today directed me to a report titled "Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War", which indicates the war in Iraq will cost each American household $3,415. It also points out that by the end of 2004 the war is expected to cost $151 billion, and goes on to point out that $151 billion could have bought health care for 27 million uninsured Americans. Fun! As one critic of the report pointed out, health care and national defense are apples and oranges, but then, I think that's the point - we're willing to spend that much on the war, why don't we spend it on something more useful?
:: David (03:51 in Michigan, 09:51 in Paris)

I had forgotten - the olympic torch is going by our house today. Looks like it may go past work as well.
:: David (03:30 in Michigan, 09:30 in Paris)

Today at 8:45 (that's 2:45 for those of you on US EST time), France will take on Greece in the quarter finals. Very exciting. It's going to basically dominate my office party this evening, I think....
:: David (01:35 in Michigan, 07:35 in Paris)

The BBC has an article today on Michael Moore's new film, which contained the following:

But Mr Bush plans to play down the film. "To take it on would give it too much credibility," a Bush strategist told the Washington Post.

"He's not going to get into a debate himself with this little filmmaker guy," the strategist added.

I love the fact that he called him a 'little filmmaker guy'. It made my morning.
:: David (01:32 in Michigan, 07:32 in Paris)

:: Thursday, June 24 2004 ::

So we were talking to our friend Franziska last night, and the topic of terrorism comes up, and she notes that she lived in the same building as one of the September 11th highjackers, and in fact one of her friends roomed with him for three months, and was called in for questioning after the event. As she noted, 'he didn't speak german' so nobody knew him that well. He occasionally made calls to saudi arabia, but one expects that of exchange students. So who could tell he would become a terrorist? It's a small, weird, scary world.
:: David (17:42 in Michigan, 23:42 in Paris)

Portugal wins versus England, in an amazing game that went forever, and was finally decided on free kicks.
:: David (17:29 in Michigan, 23:29 in Paris)

This month's edition of the "European Journal of Political Economy" has just come out. It is a special issue, focusing on "The Economic Consequences of Terror".

European Journal of Political Economy Edited by T. Brueck, B.-A. Wickstroem Volume 20/2, published June, 2004 [Web-Editions] Berlin, Germany, 15 - 16 June 2002

The introduction is interesting, and points out that economic analysis of terrorism can become detached, and in doing so become inhumane:

[...I]n studying the economic consequences of terror, it would be unfortunate if sight were lost of the personal tragedies due to terror. Behind the models and the data are the victims, who were individuals with identifying names and with ambitions and hopes, who wanted to go on with their lives but were not permitted to do so, and whose absence left a void of despair for their families and friends. [...] The memory of the dead is dishonored and the ongoing suffering of the victims who did not die is dehumanized if data on terror becomes no different from data on exports and imports.
It then goes on to have several very interesting articles on terrorism, including in my opinion some which miss the point, and some of which scare me. "Rights and citizenship in a world of global terrorism" by Dennis C. Mueller, for example, was more than slightly disturbing:
Thus, September 11 does symbolize a fundamental and significant "clash", but it is not simply a clash between the United States or the West and Islam. It is a clash between those people and those countries that are oriented to improving the welfare of individuals today, and place trust in the judgments of individuals as expressed in the market place and democratic institutions to achieve this goal, and those people who place their trust in a God and are willing to sacrifice the welfare and even the lives of individuals today to comply with God's will.
The articles focus, actually, is on defining the optimal level of rights an individual should have in an age of terrorism. Yikes.

Overall, it's an excellent issue of a journal which in other circumstances might be much less interesting for many folks. If you have access to it, take a look.
:: David (16:21 in Michigan, 22:21 in Paris)

Lindsay arrived this morning, and promptly crashed. We all met up for lunch and the Sasha and she went shopping. Well, at least Sasha went shopping. Rumour has it that Lindsay went also, but since only Sasha came back with purchases, I cannot confirm or deny Lindsay's shopping experience today. Now we are back, doing random pre-dinner stuff.
:: David (13:31 in Michigan, 19:31 in Paris)

:: Wednesday, June 23 2004 ::

Germany lost. Boo! But Lindsay will arrive tomorrow morning! Yay!
:: David (18:30 in Michigan, 00:30 in Paris)

:: Tuesday, June 22 2004 ::

The Wall Street Journal had an opinion piece the other day (Jun 21 2004) by Niall Ferguson, titled "When Empires Wane: The End of Power". The phrase intended to draw your attention to the article was as follows: "Without American hegemony the world would likely return to the dark ages." Apparently this piece will be expanded in Foreign Policy this month, and in some way parallels a book he has written. We are not impressed. To the point that we will be making a longer and more well-reasoned rebuttal than is usual. But to begin with, and I just noticed this as I was typing this entry, what is it with these Francis Fukuyama types who have to have cataclysmic "End of Days" type titles? Honestly, although I really did dislike what Ferguson had to say, I would have disliked the title regardless. It's pompous. Sadly, in this case so is the content.
:: David (17:34 in Michigan, 23:34 in Paris)

Life. Long days. Party tomorrow, but rain today. Downloaded TV from the states and Britain to entertain in the wet evenings. Very wet. But the sound on the windows is nice.
:: David (17:27 in Michigan, 23:27 in Paris)

Did you know there is music for Blur's "Girls and Boys" for brass band? That's the song that goes something like "Girls who are boys, who like boys to be girls, who..." Actually, I doubt there is sheet music for it, but we heard it last night anyway. The best part was when they all stopped playing and sang 'ya ya ya ya, ya ya ya, ya ya ya' with their hands in that hand puppet kind of way (He's eating, and I'm talking! How do we do it?!)
:: David (01:29 in Michigan, 07:29 in Paris)

:: Monday, June 21 2004 ::

L'Express this week is all about 'Fantastic Paris', including '50 magic addresses'. We'l really have no excuse to not do cool things in the coming year....
:: David (17:37 in Michigan, 23:37 in Paris)

Kinda fun - we're watching the huge concert downtown, but we were there earlier, so it's actually more fun. Especially since we're dry, and they're wet.
:: David (17:20 in Michigan, 23:20 in Paris)

So what do you call it when the suburbs are too large to be 'sub' anymore? Apparently, 'exurbia'. And at least some of them are now being built to allow you to walk to the corner store.
:: David (01:44 in Michigan, 07:44 in Paris)

:: Sunday, June 20 2004 ::

So, a day. A father's day, in fact. We spent it wandering the city. I took some photos, we did some window shopping, had Japanese for lunch, and hung out downtown. Dropped by the Louvre, found a wing we hadn't been to before (art from Constantinople and Northern Italy, 10th to 16th century), had some coffee and came home. Then we watched a movie, and now it's bedtime. Lazy day. Tomorrow will not be, as it is time once again for the gigantic Paris music festival, Fete de la Musique.
:: David (17:17 in Michigan, 23:17 in Paris)

So you hear Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, and you think 'great movie!' Then you hear monkeys and Marilyn Monroe, and you think 'Oh good lord! What an awful movie!' But if you put them all together, believe it or not, you get a good movie, called Monkey Business. Try it some time when you're in a really weird place.
:: David (16:30 in Michigan, 22:30 in Paris)

:: Saturday, June 19 2004 ::

Here's one I don't get everyday: it seems someone is using my email address to send bulk mail (I know because I am getting the bounce messages). Here's the catch - it seems they are sending racist propaganda of some sort. In German. Which is in some ways good, in that most people are not understanding what they are reading. But because it is hate mail, I feel more obliged than normal to try and track down the person or people spoofing my account....
:: David (18:17 in Michigan, 00:17 in Paris)

There are days I truly hate not speaking French! We are in full apartment search mode, and we're even willing to pay someone to find us an apartment, but that means first we have to talk to them, which both of us simply suck at - me because I don't know any words, and Sasha because she hates talking to people. It makes for a hellish combination when you're trying to find a place to live. Of course, one always has these moments when you live abroad, so you find solutions - in this case, we went and watched some football.
:: David (14:16 in Michigan, 20:16 in Paris)

:: Friday, June 18 2004 ::

I am finding this whole database installation to be more work than I think it is worth. Nevertheless, I am fairly stubborn so we'll see how it goes....
:: David (18:31 in Michigan, 00:31 in Paris)

Sasha and I have taken to watching a series called Jeeves and Wooster which is based on the novels of PG Wodehouse, and amuses to no end. Sadly, however, it is somewhat difficult to find episodes, which will force us to ration slowly. Which is probably good.
:: David (17:56 in Michigan, 23:56 in Paris)

A fun little article in Die Zeit yesterday that I was directed to read, it discusses the fad of tattoos on the lower back, things like wings and such that either peek above the trouser line, or brazenly live out in the open. The original article (in German) refers to them as Arschgeweih, but the translator insists on calling a spade a spade: Ass Antlers. From the article:

Traditional sexual roles are generally regarded as having been overcome. Carrying ass antlers, however, is in our society still to a large extent a woman thing. Antlers are a aesthetic result the of 'free belly fashion'. If one leaves the belly free in front, nature dictates that the back must also remain exposed. In front a belly-button piercing usually comes with those who ascribe to this fashion, to highlight the belly. In the back antlers sit as highlights.

In my observation such antlers, apart from their decorating and their sexually energizing function, also have the task of signalling one's affiliation to a certain social group similar to the facial tattoos of warriors of native peoples. When one undresses a Sociologie professor or a Ethnologist for example, in the final phase of the undressing procedure only in the rarest of cases will one find antler-like displays. Completely differently the chances if it comes to undressing a trainee in the hairdresser handicraft or the current girlfriend of Oliver Kahn.

The antler wearer professes themselves, simply put, to a decidedly anti-academic and more practically oriented way of life. They refuse to succumb to the permanent training and theory pressure which is the modern trend. In a spiritual-historical view, ass antlers thus should be seen in the context of globalization criticism.

Die traditionellen geschlechtlichen Rollenmodelle gelten in vielerlei Hinsicht als überwunden. Das Tragen von Arschgeweihen aber ist in unserer Gesellschaft immer noch weitgehend Frauensache. Das Geweih gilt als ästhetische Folgeerscheinung der Bauchfreimode. Wenn man nämlich vorne den Bauch frei lässt, bleibt nach den Gesetzen der Natur auch hinten der Rücken frei. Vorne in den Bauchnabel kommt bei der Bauchfreimodenbenutzerin als Highlight in der Regel ein Piercing hinein. Hinten sitzt als Backhighlight das Geweih.

Nach meiner Beobachtung haben solche Geweihe neben ihrer schmückenden und ihrer sexuell anregenden Funktion auch die Aufgabe, die Zugehörigkeit zu einer bestimmten sozialen Gruppe zu signalisieren, ähnlich wie die Gesichtstätowierungen von Kriegern bei Naturvölkern. Wer zum Beispiel eine Soziologieprofessorin oder eine Ethnologin entkleidet, wird in der Endphase des Entkleidungsvorgangs nur in den seltensten Fällen auf geweihartige Fundstücke stoßen. Ganz anders sehen die Chancen aus, wenn es zur Entkleidung einer Auszubildenden im Friseurhandwerk kommt oder der aktuellen Freundin von Oliver Kahn.

Die Geweihträgerin bekennt sich, vereinfacht gesprochen, zu einer dezidiert antiakademischen und mehr praktisch orientierten Lebensweise. Sie verweigert sich dem permanenten Weiterbildungs- und Theoriedruck der Moderne. Geistesgeschichtlich gesehen, gehört das Arschgeweih also in den Kontext der Globalisierungskritik.

And there you have it - antlers as anti-globalization statement. Next thing you know they'll be running around blowing up McDonald's.
:: David (13:12 in Michigan, 19:12 in Paris)

The apartment search has started in earnest, now. There are a billion places to live (I was originally going to type a million places to live, and then I realized that might underestimate the actual number!), but finding them, and especially finding a place that meets some specific criteria (for example, a view), is very difficult. I'm thinking that we might actually have to go to an agency and pay the money in exchange for getting exactly what we want.
:: David (12:35 in Michigan, 18:35 in Paris)

Willie Nelson makes me happy. I haven't listened to this album in a very long time, but it's nice to return to it once in a while. We used to listen to it virtually every weekend in the morning while breakfast tacos were being created in the kitchen. Lovely.
:: David (12:35 in Michigan, 18:35 in Paris)

:: Thursday, June 17 2004 ::

Tasty tasty football - England won (resoundingly) and France drew. The big excitement was going to the Hotel de Ville to watch the game with 10,000 of our closest friends. 2 fistfights and 45 minutes later we retired to a small pub to take in the game in (relative) solitude. Mental note - when someone tells you to "sit down!" because they can't see the football, you listen!!!
:: David (18:38 in Michigan, 00:38 in Paris)

So I've been thinking that when I get some spare time (i.e. after Euro 2004) I should install MySQL and convert all my server logs to that. Has anyone out there installed this for home use? I mean, the logs are getting too big for Access, but MySQL seems like it's a little too enterprise for my needs. Thoughts?
:: David (11:27 in Michigan, 17:27 in Paris)

There's an article on the BBC this morning which discusses Portugal's hopes that Euro 2004 will bring in better tourists, i.e. people other than the "English tourist whose idea of a great foreign holiday is sitting outside an English bar while eating English food and gulping down English beer". But some people, such as economist Margarida Matos Rosa, of BNP Paribas, have their doubts:

"Euro 2004 will certainly improve Portugal's profile, but I'm not sure if it help bring a more sophisticated type of traveller - no offence, but we are talking football supporters here"
I have to admit, the image which accompanies the article, which is of a glass of red wine, does not immediately bring football to mind....
:: David (01:45 in Michigan, 07:45 in Paris)

:: Wednesday, June 16 2004 ::

Looks like I got a little carried away with the Bold Print. I'll have to fix that this evening. Time to go home anyway.
:: David (11:41 in Michigan, 17:41 in Paris)

Word for the day: 9/10 people:

Cliff May, president of the conservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the BBC: "Largely, they are people who were in senior official capacities before 9/11. They are people who are responsible for the policies prior to 9/11.

"Those policies I think, failed spectacularly on 9/11," he said.

"It seems that these folks feel that those policies in place before 9/11 were perfectly fine. Nevertheless, these are what some people might describe as 9/10 people, they want to continue with the failed policies and they don't want to change those policies despite their failures."

This quote, from an article on the BBC website, seems to sum up a great deal. Some people believe there is a 'before' and an 'after'. And in many respects, they are right. But the division comes not because anything outside of the United States changed, but because of the changes in policy in reaction to the attacks. The claim that the US is reacting to a change is fallatious - the US reaction is the change.
:: David (11:40 in Michigan, 17:40 in Paris)

According to Metro today, the olympic torch is going to pass by our house next Friday. Who knew? It's interesting living in a capital city. So next Friday, around 3:15pm the torch will be next to the apartment, and then it will roll downtown and ascend the Eiffel tower at 8pm.
:: David (03:16 in Michigan, 09:16 in Paris)

:: Tuesday, June 15 2004 ::

Germany 1 - Netherlands 1. It was a draw because neither team earned it. The German goal was truly pathetic, and it wasn't absolutely clear that they didn't score on themselves. The Netherlands goal was quite pretty, and they deserved the point. But neither team really seemed able to convert.

So if you haven't worked out yet, we went and watched football this evening. Still round one, no big shockers yet. Thursday France plays again, and we'll probably go watch that. So as far as tourism, etc. goes, sign us off until Euro 2004 comes to an end.
:: David (17:14 in Michigan, 23:14 in Paris)

Lisa has informed me that

You need a comments section on your website so others can read my brilliant comments
which is something I'm going to get working on very soon now.... Actually, she did have some interesting things to say about the book excerpt from yesterday, discussing some related material:

Sounds quite like 'Your Money or Your Life', a 'classic' of probably 10 years ago. They have you add up how much money you spend to work - clothes, escape, commuting, etc, in order to convince you that no, really, you CAN not work full-time a soul-sucking job, and still be ok.


And finally, a book I might actually read: Thomas Frank in One Market Under God. I don't think I'll read the book the excerpt is from - I've already spent a lot of time reading about overwork and Americana. (ie The Overworked American, Juliet Schorr, and many others, if you want more)

Any more intelligent feedback like this and I might have to enable comments, which up until now I have just assumed were for people who wanted to flame each other on someone else's webpage. 'Cause I know how worked up you all get reading my blog! *chuckle*
:: David (01:27 in Michigan, 07:27 in Paris)

:: Monday, June 14 2004 ::

There is an article in the Guardian which discusses the situation of the wage earner, whom it claims is working longer hours, increasingly neglecting their homelife, etc. The article, actually a book excerpt, states that many people's self worth is now shaped by their possessions, and thus their job, which no longer has any guarantee of existence after the next project, due to the disappearance of company loyalty, shapes their life. It looks like an interesting book, although I have no idea how applicable it is in the wider world.
:: David (17:17 in Michigan, 23:17 in Paris)

:: Sunday, June 13 2004 ::

Oh, yeah. And the European elections are over. Results to come, but early polls suggest (shockingly) that unpopular ruling parties didn't win a lot of seats in the European Parliament.
:: David (17:33 in Michigan, 23:33 in Paris)

On a gagné! Les Bleus 2, les rosbifs 1!!! We went to a pub tonight after a very long lunch with a guy from the church (it lasted six hours, and was an absolute laugh riot), and wathced the game. England was up 1-0 until the 91st minute, and then France scored twice on penalty kicks (the second when the England goalkeeper got a yellow card!) and the pub absolutely exploded! Dancing and singing and jumping around! It was great. Tomorrow I go much better armed into the fray that is the workplace, able to discuss the recent victories (and defeats)!
:: David (17:31 in Michigan, 23:31 in Paris)

Another lovely day, and we're off to the American Cathedral, our first time in a month. Crazy. After that we've got some free time, and then this evening it's pure football - France v. England in round one of the European Championships. We're meeting some friends at a pub downtown and cheering the French to victory over those pesky English. I've been studying the results from yesterday in case someone says something about them, so I'm not completely clueless, but it's difficult. Where do people find the time to learn so much about their national team!? Maybe it's the fact they've been watching it since grade school....
:: David (03:44 in Michigan, 09:44 in Paris)

:: Saturday, June 12 2004 ::

Found this story today at the BBC:

Researchers at Cambridge University have discovered sheep prefer smiling or relaxed human faces, over angry or stressed ones.


Scientists presented the sheep with two doors they could push open to gain food. On one would be a picture of a smiling human or a happy sheep, on the other an angry human or a stressed out sheep.

"They vastly preferred to press the smiling human or the animal that has just had a meal and is feeling all right with life," said Dr Kendrick.

So now you know. And knowing is half the battle....
:: David (17:57 in Michigan, 23:57 in Paris)

Doing a little cramming before our trip to Finland in July, and we ran across a wonderful page to teach you how to say basic things in Finnish. Since I know you're all dying to learn basic Finnish, here's your chance!
:: David (17:39 in Michigan, 23:39 in Paris)

So I've started work on my international restaurant guide. We were talking, while in Avignon, about the fact that we should keep track of good places we have visited, and I figured since I've lived lots of places, and know folks who live other places, I should write a little something about everywhere I've been. It's a work in progress, and if you've been somewhere with either (a) great atmosphere, or (b) great food (or, even better, both!) you should drop me a note. It'll be a fun way to find places to eat!
:: David (13:17 in Michigan, 19:17 in Paris)

So here's a little something to amuse on a Saturday afternoon: the BBC is reporting that a brothel has bought the flag which used to fly over the German parlaiment building.

German MPs are furious that a flag from the Reichstag parliament building has been sold... to a brothel.
The sale has apparently attracted serious attention from the German tabloids (probably because it makes for a great photo op, as Bild demonstrates here in their article "Reichstags-Flagge wedelt jetzt im Freudenhaus" (Parlaiment Flag now flies in Whorehouse).
:: David (07:24 in Michigan, 13:24 in Paris)

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article on healthcare, which includes a couple of startling points. The first is the number of Americans without insurance, which it puts at over 43 million, or 15% of the population. The second is the concept of economies of scale, something I should have thought of, but didn't:

By one estimate, a federal program mandating health insurance for all could save at least $200 billion annually by eliminating bureaucratic inefficiencies in the patchwork private system. That savings, according to an article in the Aug. 13, 2003, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, would be "more than enough to cover all of the uninsured," said the authors, four prominent physicians.
The idea of a federal program "eliminating bureaucratic inefficiencies" may seem a little odd, but when you think about how many insurance companies there are, and they irregular manner they interact, it kind of makes sense....
(via Rebecca's Pocket)
:: David (19:23 in Michigan, 01:23 in Paris)

:: Friday, June 11 2004 ::

The Times (of London) is reporting today that one of the people tortured in Guantanamo bay was an american soldier posing as a prisoner for a training excercise. Apparently the soldiers who came to the excercise were not told he was a soldier, but thought he was actually a prisoner, so they beat him so badly he had to leave the army. Lawsuits are planned, but the army is saying his injuries were in the line of duty, and his chances are not considered good for any sort of recompense. Apparently the American media is aware of it, because I found it in the New York Times and on NPR (audio).
:: David (13:39 in Michigan, 19:39 in Paris)

Things not to say to an Austrian just before Euro Cup 2004 begins: "So, are Austria playing this weekend?"

Apparently the team didn't qualify, and I took quite a little bit of ribbing from those around about how cruel I was being to my poor boss.
:: David (11:05 in Michigan, 17:05 in Paris)

Holy mackeral! Ray Charles died?! I can't even imagine a world without him! Wow.
:: David (01:42 in Michigan, 07:42 in Paris)

:: Thursday, June 10 2004 ::

Sasha is back! Yay!
:: David (17:12 in Michigan, 23:12 in Paris)

You might remember, some time ago, I ran across a blog which was about a woman who might or might not have been on the run from her apparently very wealthy family. I read it for a while, and forgot about it for a while, and went back, and lo! it's still up. And in addition, it had a link to an Esquire article from last year in which she was interviewed. It's an interesting read, even if it doesn't solve the basic question (although why it matters if she is real is another question entirely).
:: David (19:24 in Michigan, 01:24 in Paris)

:: Wednesday, June 9 2004 ::

An interesting article on long distance charges - with a provacative title to grab your attention: "Why Do the Poor and the Less-Educated Pay More for Long-Distance Calls?" Written by Jerry A. Hausman and J. Gregory Sidak, it does an economic analysis of a cross section of American's long distance bills, and finds a distinct connection between how long you are in school, and how much you pay per minute for long distance. I think they fall down a bit when they propose to explain their results, but the results themselves are quite interesting. They also find some degree of connection between race and phone charges, but the link is not strongly examined.
:: David (17:11 in Michigan, 23:11 in Paris)

I was wandering about online today, and I ran across a really interesting site called Dialog Now, which is based to some degree in India. It has thoughtful discussions on some very interesting topics, and people seem to be fairly civil.
:: David (17:06 in Michigan, 23:06 in Paris)

:: Tuesday, June 8 2004 ::

You know you've been in Paris too long when you get dressed up to take the garbage out....
:: David (16:37 in Michigan, 22:37 in Paris)

Hm. Maybe I only remember the caricature of Reagan. You should read this article - Reagan's Liberal Legacy. It describes some of the things that Reagan did when he wasn't being the right wing poster child.
:: David (13:19 in Michigan, 19:19 in Paris)

Well here's a little something:

Class Warfare in Berlin

BERLIN -- The US government wastes a lot of money, but few items in the federal budget do as much damage as the $50 million that American taxpayers send each year to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Apparently the free-market folks do not approve of "welfare states like France, Germany, and Sweden" which 'oppress taxpayers'. If you get the chance, I recommend cruising around this site - it's so chock full of fun, it might be worth spending a half hour. Then go watch The Daily Show to cleanse your system.
:: David (06:32 in Michigan, 12:32 in Paris)

A fun article in the economist this morning, before I head off to work. Titled Sloppy stats shame science, it reports of a paper recently published which went back through papers published in some highly respected journals (Nature among them) to analyze whether the numbers had been doctored, or the math faulty. One example given is the fact that, if the data were truly coming from a natural experiment, one would expect to see an even distribution of the numbers 0-9 as the last digit. If rounding had occurred, 4s and 9s would be under-represented. And sure enough, that was what they found. The conclusion made me very happy:

The real answer, however, surely lies with the researchers themselves. Far too many scientists have only a shaky grasp of the statistical techniques they are using. They employ them as an amateur chef employs a cook book, believing the recipes will work without understanding why. A more cordon bleu attitude to the maths involved might lead to fewer statistical soufflés failing to rise.

:: David (02:18 in Michigan, 08:18 in Paris)

:: Monday, June 7 2004 ::

An interesting comment piece from a guy we saw at the American cathedral a few months ago says that McCain needs to be vice-president. I tend to think of McCain as the Republican answer to Howard Dean. He's got a lot of bizarre popularity, but you probably don't agree with him if you look deep enough. Unlike Dean, however, I think I might still respect McCain.
:: David (16:46 in Michigan, 22:46 in Paris)

I've heard about a number of these type of sites, but up until recently I haven't sought them out - blogs which copy historical diary entries. One which still seems to be operating is The Diary of Samuel Pepys, which seems to be done day by day, as is right and proper. I ran across a really fun one of Julius Caesar, but it was no longer being updated. It would be kind of fun to do that as a translation project - a great way to force yourself to do a little homework each day, translating from (for example) Latin to English. I myself am not capable of operating on that kind of timetable, more's the pity, or I would do Napoleon, who kept a very thorough diary, and I would learn lots of old French, with which I could confuse shopkeepers. "Woman! I would that you fetch me yon baguette!"
:: David (16:39 in Michigan, 22:39 in Paris)

The BBC ran an article which reminded me of a man I think more people should be aware of. Titled "'Father of the computer' honoured, it's all about the life and times of Alan Turing.

The father of the modern computer is being honoured, 50 years after he died in tragic circumstances. Alan Turing was one of the pioneers of computer science, and his work helped make the modern PC a reality.
The man, the hero, the villian, a code breaker during WWII and a man who took his own life after society told him he was perverted.
:: David (16:13 in Michigan, 22:13 in Paris)

:: Sunday, June 6 2004 ::

I almost forgot to put this up - you remember I mentioned protests at Bush's visit:

:: David (17:30 in Michigan, 23:30 in Paris)

Sometimes the internet is a wonderful thing! I just had a nice long chat with Jason in Egypt, which would have cost me like €100 or so if I had done it on a telephone. And it was damned good to talk to him again. I need to go visit at some point....
:: David (15:48 in Michigan, 21:48 in Paris)

Interesting. The digital camera market has taken a bizarre turn in my mind. You may or may not (probably not) have heard of the Foveon sensor for digital cameras. This was a big breakthrough about two years ago which allowed digital cameras to actually 'see' the color they were looking at for each pixel, rather than using surrounding pixels to 'guess' the correct color. Obviously, the 'guess' method works quite well (we do have digital cameras, and they do take pictures that look fairly good), but it necessarily means that sharp lines between two colors are going to blur (because the camera will add them together and take a the average). This problem can be fixed by software as well, but that always means you're relying on guesswork, rather than 'what you see is what you get'. So, the Foveon chip solved this problem, and was then promptly ignored. One camera, by a somewhat off-brand manufacturer, came out, and then I didn't hear anything else about it. Well, now, it turns out that Polaroid is going to put this chip in one of its 'point-and-shoot' cameras, the Polaroid x530, which means that it will be going into the pockets (or camera bags, for those who take better care of their camera than I do) of lots of random amateur photographers. Which is great! But I still don't understand why the rest of the camera market is not doing something similar. I suspect it may be because they've all spent zillions of dollars on alternative technologies. This opinion is backed by what the folks at Digital Photography Review said in their concluding remarks on the other Foveon camera:

Looking back at my SD9 review I stand by much of what I said about the X3 sensor being 'the first step in what must be seen as a revolution in digital photography'. Unfortunately the stranglehold the Bayer sensor and those mega-corporations who make them have on the market has ensured that we haven't yet seen the X3 sensor in another digital SLR.

:: David (07:25 in Michigan, 13:25 in Paris)

I absolutely love it! Neil Gaiman had a link to this article on his page, and I couldn't believe it, but it looks like I just missed the fanfare. The article he linked to talked about the return of half the money given to a city to combat 'Goth' culture. What? Yes, apparently at one point, a grant was secured to protect us all from people wearing black clothes and makeup. I was able to track down the original story from 2002 in the same publication, and also tracked down the appropriation itself, from the Committee Reports for the 107th Congress, "House Rpt.107-342 - MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2002, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES". Apparently this was a 'school improvement program', if my reading of the document is correct. And in black and white, a line item: Blue Springs Youth Outreach Unit, Blue Springs, MO, for educational training in combating Goth culture - 273,000
:: David (20:37 in Michigan, 02:37 in Paris)

I was in the Gap today (I know! I know!) and they were playing the Magnetic Fields. How bizarre. But wonderful. So now I'm listening to them - I haven't heard them in a long time, but they are still as clever as they seemed the first time I heard them.
:: David (20:00 in Michigan, 02:00 in Paris)

:: Saturday, June 5 2004 ::

I've just seen that Ronald Reagan died. That's too bad. Don't get me wrong - he was a very misguided individual. But to die of Alzheimer's disease, I would not wish on anyone. May he rest in peace. And may heaven protect the poor from another president like him.
:: David (17:19 in Michigan, 23:19 in Paris)

You ever look for a clock, read the time, and then go "no! really?" Well, I do. But tonight was especially surprising - I hadn't realized how late the sun was staying up. It's down now, but the sky is still fairly light. And it's 10:30 at night! I love that! Sadly, you pay for it in the winter, when the sun hardly rises at all.
:: David (16:26 in Michigan, 22:26 in Paris)

According to an article in the IHT yesterday, titled 'Opec sets quotas to match existing output', "OPEC is producing at least 2 million barrels a day above its March quota of 23.5 million barrels." Now, if my math is correct, that's 23.5 plus 2 equals 25.5 million barrels per day. If we also then take further information from the article that oil prices "have hovered around $40 a barrel for the last month", we can come up with a rough guess as to the gross takings of OPEC in the last thirty days.

25.5 million barrels times $40 dollars per barrel times 30 days equals $30,600,000,000.

The article states that Saudi Arabia produced 8.3 million barrels per day in April, which using the math above gives us $9,960,000,000 for the month of April alone, with production expected to rise by about 10% this month.

Numbers, alone, do not necessarily mean very much - ten billion dollars is a big number, but what does it mean, relative to concepts we can understand? So I thought it might be fun to compare the number to Official Development Assistance (ODA) - aid given to poorer countries, in theory to help them out of poverty.

Anticipated ODA – 2006
USD billion (at 2002 prices and exchange rates)
Net ODA 2002Anticipated ODA 2006Increment (%)
United States13.319.56.2
United Kingdom4.96.92.0
All other DAC members26.931.74.8

Source: OECD 2004
The DAC Journal - Development Co-operation 2003 REPORT - 2004 Vol. 5 No. 1

The first thing to note is that the numbers shown here are yearly figures, not monthly. Thus, for example, Saudi Arabian oil production pulls in nearly as much money in a single month as the United States gave aid for the entirety of 2002. While this admittedly says something shocking about US aid to poor countries, it also says something about the amount of money going to oil producing countries - these are not small amounts of cash.

Now I am not making some knee-jerk assessment that we shouldn't be sending money to these countries, because to begin with we need oil to make the economy work. What I am saying is that basing the world economy on oil is questionable. When people talk about 'security economics', they talk about countries which in some way support industries that are essential to national security. The most obvious example is producers of tanks or planes - if your supply of those is cut off, your ability to wage war/defend your country is severely curtailed. But perhaps it is time we start looking at energy in the same way - if your country can be crippled by external forces in the energy markets, isn't it about time to start promoting home-grown energy? And if oil isn't home grown (or your energy needs exceed your country's production of oil), then your energy needs to come from somewhere else.
:: David (16:10 in Michigan, 22:10 in Paris)

Couple of good points made by the commentary people on the BBC - first, pointing out that Bush had addressed the Lebanon question, saying Lebanon should be independent. Apparently, this is an issue the French hold dear, so that whole part of the speech was a nod to the French. Overall, they said, the two leaders had sought to show a gracious cooperation in advance of the D-Day stuff which will occur tomorrow (well, is actually starting to occur already - the next story when the press conference ended was about some of the events which have started in Northern France.
:: David (14:06 in Michigan, 20:06 in Paris)

Chirac was asked whether Bush should compare WWII to Iraq. Chirac said "history does not repeat itself" so it's difficult to compare anything to anything else. President Bush makes these comparisons because of a coincidence of timing - the fact that it just happens to be the 60th anniversary of D-Day, and thus he understands that the comparison is being made. Again, a lovely non-answer. Amazing!
:: David (13:58 in Michigan, 19:58 in Paris)

Chirac was asked "is Iraq better off today than it was before?" He hedged - there are positive and negative aspects, in that Saddam Hussein is gone, but there is chaos. "We're in a situation which is still very precarious."
:: David (13:56 in Michigan, 19:56 in Paris)

You know, one of the French reporters just asked if Bush felt that the Abu Ghreb scandal put him in danger of being tried as a war criminal. Funny how the American reporters never ask questions like that.
:: David (13:53 in Michigan, 19:53 in Paris)

Bush addressed the Palestinian question, and said he supported an independent contiguous Palestine. He then tempered that with a whole bunch of 'once security is established' type speak.
:: David (13:46 in Michigan, 19:46 in Paris)

A very subtle nod by Bush to his previous speech which drew parallels between WWII and the Iraq war. But it was subtle. I respect that. And now he's describing the transition of power to the Iraqi people.
:: David (13:41 in Michigan, 19:41 in Paris)

Bush and Chirac are giving a news conference here in Paris as I type - I'm waiting to see what is said, and whether Bush can resist a campaign speech...

To begin with, Chirac is discussing the common history of the US and France, and more recent cooperation on various issues. It's a good start to a joint press conference.

When he reached Iraq, he acknowledged past differences and said that now that things are the way they are, France and the US are in accord.

Having just come from a big protest at Bastille where people had posters of Bush subtitled 'Terrorist', I can say that there are people in France who do not completely agree.

:: David (13:38 in Michigan, 19:38 in Paris)

Somebody in Sweden has been reading too much Doonesbury! Dr. Whoopie rides again!
:: David (05:44 in Michigan, 11:44 in Paris)

So, by virtue of staying up late I got to watch the Daily Show's "Global Edition" this evening (morning). And who do you suppose the interview was with? None other than Thomas Friedman, columnist for the New York Times. Very amusing, bizarre stuff. If he isn't careful, John Stewart will be taken seriously....
:: David (19:52 in Michigan, 01:52 in Paris)

:: Friday, June 4 2004 ::

So many annoying little things go missing when you re-install an operating system - I hadn't fired up the wireless since the computer melted down, but tonight I thought about the fact that I would need to get the drivers going again. Grr. And all the silly little details -, for example - the standard ip for my router. But if you can't remember that number, nothing goes. Grrr.
:: David (17:29 in Michigan, 23:29 in Paris)

Apropo of nothing (and actually on accident), I visited Intel's website, where I downloaded a copy of their guide to programming the Itanium processor (the assembly language manual), which basically tells you how to bypass everything and talk directly to the processor. It was a scary, scary experience. In the good old days, computers didn't have terrifyingly wide registers that held all three branches of your if-then-else statement simultaniously. Everything happened one step after the step before, and waited until the current step was done before moving on to the next step. Now it's like the computer has six brains and thirty-seven arms and when you control them, you have to remember where arm A is before moving arm B,C, and D all at once. I don't envy the people who do that on a daily basis. And sooner or later, it won't even be your code that has errors - it will be the quantum effects of electrons jumping wires barely big enough to hold them, at totally random moments. And you thought your computer crashed a lot now! Just wait!
:: David (16:35 in Michigan, 22:35 in Paris)

I just watched the campaign speeches of all the parties running for European parliament. My personal favorite was the one which advertised against the tyranny of Brussels. It was clear that not a lot of money is spent on making commercials....
:: David (14:55 in Michigan, 20:55 in Paris)

Some things, like the price of gas, change dramatically from country to country. Some things don't change at all. I couldn't find the 'You may already be...' on the envelope, but I'm sure it's there...

Click for bigger image

So I guess, if we order enough French magazines, we'll be given half a million euros. I won't hold my breath....
:: David (13:26 in Michigan, 19:26 in Paris)

Canada's Globe and Mail has a story today titled "U.S. invades Normandy, again ":

The French army is sending 9,000 troops to the coast and has set up a surface-to-air missile battery that could be ordered to shoot down passenger jets straying into air space above the D-Day memorial. Mirage fighter jets will be authorized to do the same. Demonstrations have been banned for a week in Paris and border security checks have been imposed; they are normally forbidden under European Union rules. The country will be moved to its highest terror-alert level this weekend.

The U.S. military has added even more hardware and troops. Hundreds of American helicopters filled the sky yesterday, with one overhead at almost any moment. Rifle-toting soldiers dwarfed the veterans around them, and at the air force base in Carpiquet, U.S. military aircraft landed throughout the day. These included unmarked C-17 transport planes carrying U.S. Army Special Forces troops, who are usually deployed on top-secret missions in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

add to this the article in today's Metro "Paris sous haute protection" (Paris under high protection) which states that 6,500 police and military forces will be mobilized just in the city of Paris to protect heads of state. Lots of places around the center of town will be blocked off from cars, subway, and even foot traffic in some places. It actually doesn't sound like much fun to visit, at least until the security is lowered at 8 AM Sunday morning.
:: David (03:33 in Michigan, 09:33 in Paris)

Tee hee - as many of you are aware, President Bush will be in town this weekend to attend the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of D-Day. As one might expect, the French are not completely pleased he is coming (in fact, there are a number of Europeans who are not keen to see him visit, starting with the Italians). Volatility has some interesting thoughts on the matter, noting that so long as Bush is simply acting as a representative of the United States, the French shouldn't be so up in arms. The problem, of course, is the fact that he doesn't seem inclined to let an opportunity like this pass him by - several sources have stated that he has compared the Iraq war to World War Two - a struggle of good versus bad, etc. Now, it is certainly consistent of him to do so - since he has already used the word 'evil', imagery of 'good versus bad' or 'the struggle of the light against the darkness' certainly are consistent and 'on-message'. The problem is that, especially at a ceremony like this, comparing WWII to Iraq weakens the power of the WWII/D-Day myth. Which isn't a very nice thing to do to the veterans who might not live to see another ceremony of this type. And it also politicizes something which, previously, remained above the fray. Vietnam, Korea, etc. were all contentious wars. WWII was not. Thanks to Adolf Hitler's programs of genocide, everyone could agree on the war against his forces. At least, in retrospect - I'm sure at the time there was some contention. Whereas Iraq has never had and will never have that level of support. To try to raise the legitimacy of the one by coat-tailing it onto the other only sullies something which should remain clean, and most likely reflects poorly on anyone who makes the attempt.

But, as yet, Bush hasn't completely put his foot in it. We'll see what he says at the ceremony itself. And we'll hope that Chirac has that backup speech Volatility mentioned, to smack Bush down if he tries to politicize the moment.
:: David (01:53 in Michigan, 07:53 in Paris)

:: Thursday, June 3 2004 ::

An amusing read over at Shelby's blog talks about gas prices in Europe. I'm actually starting to get used to the idea of five or six dollars a gallon. I wonder how long it will be before people in the States get there. Never, perhaps?
:: David (18:20 in Michigan, 00:20 in Paris)

Actually, that should read "two households" rather than "two folks" - I actually managed to talk to a good number of people, they just all happened to be co-located!
:: David (18:17 in Michigan, 00:17 in Paris)

Not bad - two and a half hours on the phone to various (well, two) folks back in the states. Looks like I'm going to make my prepaid phone card work this time, rather than just letting it expire. Sasha should be in Boston by now, so at some point I'll hopefully be able to call her as well. In the meantime, it's bedtime for this Bonzo. Goodnight, all!
:: David (18:16 in Michigan, 00:16 in Paris)

I got a memo today, and it included this phrase, that I felt the need to share:

"[…] so good that the only analogies I can think of relate to Italian ice cream."
Which, I think we can all agree, must be pretty darned good!
:: David (14:35 in Michigan, 20:35 in Paris)

So Sasha is off to the states for a while (a week, in fact) and I am left to my own devices. Of course, there are the D-Day celebrations (Jour-J in French - I don't know why) due to take place all over - I am thinking about taking the train up to Normandie, but I'm not absolutely certain where the celebrations are happening. Here in town they are doing a big celebration down on the Champs Elysée. And I hope to get caught up on some correspondance, as well as doing some revisions to the website. We'll see how much, if any, of all of this occurs. I'm also thinking seriously about heading out on the town with a camera at some point, doing a 'night-shot' series. Might even buy a tripod!
:: David (03:18 in Michigan, 09:18 in Paris)

So, I was looking for linen suits today (I absolutely have to get some cooler clothes for summer!) and I ran across this little tidbit, which goes straight into the 'did you know' part of my brain:

Certain things go together naturally, like peas and carrots. And certain things don't, like toothpaste and orange juice.

The Torah teaches about the power of combinations and warns against mixing the wrong things together. One of these is the prohibition against wearing a mixture of wool and linen in the same piece of clothing, as it is written, "You shall not wear combined fibers, wool and linen together" (Deut. 22:11).

In Hebrew, this forbidden mixture is called "shatnez" (pronounced shot-nezz).

Special thanks to google and aish.com for this one!
:: David (01:39 in Michigan, 07:39 in Paris)

:: Wednesday, June 2 2004 ::

Who knew? My nephew made it through high school! Congrats Rob!
:: David (17:54 in Michigan, 23:54 in Paris)

I have to confess, mornings after a long holiday are not my favorite thing in the world. In fact, they're somewhere near the bottom....
:: David (01:28 in Michigan, 07:28 in Paris)

:: Tuesday, June 1 2004 ::

Well, managed to get just a couple of photos up from Avignon, including the photos of the racist graffiti which made the news while we were there. Reports say the kids were arrested (or, at least, some kids with paint were arrested), so we'll keep an eye on the story.
:: David (17:18 in Michigan, 23:18 in Paris)

Back! Avignon was amazing, I saw a piece of national (possibly international) news, we went on a wine tour, and ate lots of amazing food. It was an incredible trip. Oh - and Avignon the city was quite an amazing place as well. And now they want me to go back to work tomorrow???
:: David (15:44 in Michigan, 21:44 in Paris)

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