:: Monday, February 28 2005 ::
I'd welcome comments on the new news bar - I used to subscribe to their publication, which collects and/or translates articles from around the world. I was excited to find they had a free news bar, and thought I'd try it. Let me know what you think, because right now I'm up in the air about it - is it good, or does it cramp the screen and otherwise get in the way?
:: David (17:05 in Michigan, 23:05 in Paris) - Comment
The IHT has an
on the big scandal gripping French politics this
week. The short version is that the finance minister, who has been charged with cutting the budget, was found to be allowing the state to pay the rent on his luxury flat in Paris, to the tune of $18,000/month. This by itself, believe it or not, might not have brought him down, had he not then lied and said he was doing it because he didn't have time to find an apartment, because he devoted all his time to his position with the government. Of course, barely half a day later it was revealed he owned several properties, one also located in Paris, which he was renting out for $3000/month to some friends. Not very smooth. Of course, he was only doing what everyone else was doing, so now that he's been caught and punished, rumour has it that several other government officials are moving to more humble dwellings.
:: David (05:43 in Michigan, 11:43 in Paris) - Comment
Slate, which I normally do not read, has a piece on that
French Women Don't Get Fat:
The Secret of Eating for Pleasure
which takes serious exception to just about everything the
author says. But what made it interesting to me was the
correction at the bottom:
Correction, Feb. 25, 2005: This piece originally used
the word "imprecations" incorrectly, to mean "suggestions."
An imprecation is a curse.
Slate regrets the error.
The danger of big words - sooner or later someone is going to
call you on them....
:: David (01:59 in Michigan, 07:59 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, February 27 2005 ::
Well, the plan was to get RSS working this weekend, but instead we went to Versailles, and took lots of snowy pictures, and came back and watched a film (one of the Ms. Marple films). Tomorrow starts another work week. *sigh*
:: David (18:19 in Michigan, 00:19 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Saturday, February 26 2005 ::
Well, I don't have the culled version up yet, but the contact sheet of photos from Fin and Misty's visit are up, with photos from Paris, London, and all points in-between.
:: David (15:51 in Michigan, 21:51 in Paris) - Comment
Well, we managed to find an apartment in Ann Arbor. It's a bit pricy, and a bit far, but it has lots of windows and if we do this now we don't have to spend too much mental or physical energy trying to get people to look at lots of apartments, etc. I've put up a description and photo of the place - I think it'll do us quite nicely for a year, and if we want to stay longer in Ann Arbor, it wouldn't be a terrible place to spend an extended period of time.
:: David (08:33 in Michigan, 14:33 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, February 25 2005 ::
The thing I love about public broadcasting is that it can do things commercial stations won't (but maybe should). An example? Canada Reads. This is a show which, each year, goes through a process to select the one book for the year that all Canadians should read. This year's selection has not been made, but you can see the five contenders for top book of the year along with a description and reader's guide for each. It's worth noting this is not a book prize, and these are not new books - one of this year's books dates from 1928. It is simply a reflection of what people think is important, what's popular, etc. Very interesting.
Also available are the winners for 2004,
2003, and 2002. I believe 2002 was the first year the program ran.
:: David (04:24 in Michigan, 10:24 in Paris) - Comment
Looks like we need to go to church this weekend to see if they mention the proposed expulsion of the Episcopol church from the Anglican family. It's not a full expulsion - they say they could discuss in 2008, but it's a pretty firm rebuke. Apparently the church really isn't ready for a gay bishop. I've never seen a schism before - I wonder if it will be exciting.
:: David (02:20 in Michigan, 08:20 in Paris) - Comment
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks al jazeera has been good for the arab world. In a piece in the economist on the influence of television in the middle east, the channel is described as "an all-too-brief flowering of critical, independent journalism". Brief, because more than likely it will be cut loose from the Qatari government which up until now has funded it. The danger of independent journalism is that it tends to make all sides angry. Which is really too bad.
One really interesting point the article makes is about the American ineptness with regard to television in the middle east: "Amazingly, the American government still has no permanent, camera-trained spokesman capable of delivering its views in polished Arabic." Sometimes the US government's inability to use diplomacy as a tool simply astonishes!
:: David (01:56 in Michigan, 07:56 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, February 24 2005 ::
The classic European problem - if you put all the prices in Euros, sooner or later the rich foreigners will buy all the property. This article, in the Guardian, talks about all the English people buying cute little village houses in Northern France, and the French locals who are fed up.
:: David (02:18 in Michigan, 08:18 in Paris) - Comment
A really interesting read in the Nation gives lie to the idea that the US was founded on Christianity. Quoting a treaty from 1797, it notes that in one of the very first unanimous votes of congress, it was stated "As the Government of the United States...is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion...". Also according to the article, in the Federalist papers, "God is mentioned only twice (both times by Madison, who uses the word, as Gore Vidal has remarked, in the "only Heaven knows" sense)."
In some respects this story is interesting because it points out things we already know, but sometimes forget - the country was founded, as much as anything else, on the ideas of religious freedom. One of the things Thomas Jefferson was most proud of was his 'Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom', which was passed in 1786, and upon whose passing Jefferson wrote there would now be "freedom for the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammeden, the Hindu and infidel of every denomination".
:: David (02:10 in Michigan, 08:10 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, February 23 2005 ::
The weather waited until everyone had gone back to the states to give us our first real blanket of snow. I woke yesterday morning to a town covered in white, and unlike any other time, it has stayed on a full 24 hours. Very exciting. That said, I'm glad I take the train! I would imagine driving in snow in France is not fun, given how rarely it snows.
:: David (01:52 in Michigan, 07:52 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, February 22 2005 ::
You know, I watched Fnding Nemo again over the weekend. It's still cute. It's still not profound.
:: David (17:56 in Michigan, 23:56 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I don't think I've railed recently at the fees French banks charge for even the most basic of services. Today seems like a good day to do so, because my bank, I have discovered, has charged me €6.62 ($8.67) for each visit I made to an ATM while in the UK.
This may seem outrageous to you (it certainly does to me), but that's barely the tip of the iceberg. For the privilige of having a bank account with SocGen (Société Générale) I pay €7.05 each month ($9.24). I could have gotten a slightly lower level account for less, but the lower account didn't include a credit card, and wouldn't work outside of France. Of course, had I realized I got to pay twice to use the card overseas I might have gone for the (slightly) cheaper account.
:: David (11:52 in Michigan, 17:52 in Paris) - Comment
An interesting article in the New York Review of Books
talks about the money game in higher education, and has several interesting things to say about
the 'endangered species' of higher education, the liberal arts college.
My favourite point is the one it makes about the irony that, as the quality of tenured professor goes up at a university, the quality of teaching goes down, because all the good professors negotiate lower workloads, leaving the teaching to adjuncts.
:: David (11:51 in Michigan, 17:51 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
On the BBC, a love letter from a correspondent in the states:
which is an interesting take on things - less nationalistic.
I am not the only person living here who loves America, most Americans do too. This is what drives all that "God Bless America" music and flag waving that you see at the drop of a hat.
It is not the unhealthy nationalism of "our country is better than your country", after all most Americans have never stepped outside the place, but rather an expression of "life here is good, whoopee".
:: David (11:51 in Michigan, 17:51 in Paris) - Comment
So, obviously, we are back from London. We had a good time, saw lots of random stuff, and in general wandered around. I returned in time for the flu epidemic to take my office by storm, so we'll see how long I manage to stay healthy. Misty is by all accounts home and well, after a long flight back. It was fun having people here, but by the same token we both went into the study yesterday evening and luxuriated in the wide open space now that everyone is gone. We've got a busy week planned, with people coming to dinner this evening (it's becoming a regular thing to have people over on Tuesdays) and me heading to the dentist (cue terrifying music) tomorrow. We may take the weekend off, and just recuperate, but we'll see.
:: David (07:04 in Michigan, 13:04 in Paris) - Comment
I was reading about this at the weekend, and thought I would share: there was an article in the Independent, I think, about how some companies had taken outsourcing to the next level: offer kids from America and Europe the opportunity to live in India, and work at a call center, for local (Indian) wages (approximately $6,000 per year). There is a current job opening if you want to go. It's a truly brilliant scheme, and I don't know why they didn't think of it sooner. The people have all the language and cultural skills already, and the money is good enough to live quite well by Indian standards. The downside, of course, is that you have to work at a call centre. But if you're 18 and fresh out of school, you might have to anyway - might as well do it someplace interesting!
:: David (06:59 in Michigan, 12:59 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, February 21 2005 ::
Have you all seen this? It's from a series of tape recordings made by a reporter while he was talking to Bush just before the 2000 elections:
You got to understand, I want to be president. I want to lead. Do you want your little kid to say, 'Hey, Daddy, President Bush tried marijuana, I think I will?
Wacky, wacky stuff. Of course, it's not important, but it is interesting - the Bush we see on these tapes is not exactly the Bush presented to the public. More excerpts can be found in the Guardian.
:: David (04:27 in Michigan, 10:27 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, February 17 2005 ::
Off to London - probably no blogging this weekend, unless I find my wi-fi card and can blog from my palm. Assuming not, I'll talk to you all on Monday. When, hopefully, I can start thinking about making the site RSS enabled. Fun!
:: David (11:51 in Michigan, 17:51 in Paris) - Comment
As I noted earlier, this is the second time I'm typing this, but I'll
try to be thorough.
As some of you may know, there's an election coming up in the UK.
However, unlike in the US, the parties are not distinct. This is
because the government currently in power, which has been such a
strong supporter of the American invasion of Iraq, is run by
Labour, which is supposed to be the liberal party in the UK.
However, in the past few years the Labour party has shifted so
far towards free markets, big business, and all that that their
traditional opponents on the right, the Tories (who were responsible
for Margaret Thatcher), have been marginalized. However, the only
party remaining on the left, the Liberal Democrats, have up until now
not been a 'real' party (some would say they still aren't) and as
such seem to have zero ability to seize the reins now that the
traditional party on the left is absent.
To clear this up, David Clark, a former Labour advisor,
has written a piece telling people
how to vote for Labour without voting for the wrong Labour.
He has no problem with naming names:
Why, for example, should they punish the 139 Labour MPs who rebelled against the Iraq war? Surely they should be rewarded. Equally, those living in the constituency of Gisela Stuart, the Labour backbencher who called for George Bush to be re-elected last November, may conclude that she is exactly the sort of MP who needs to be made an example of.
Those who felt that there has been no real choice in the US in the last few elections should spare a thought for their brethren across the water, who are truly left without recourse this election season.
:: David (09:19 in Michigan, 15:19 in Paris) - Comment
Well, I had written a long, detailed explanation of the British elections which will take place in a couple months, but then my computer (at work) spontaneously shut down and rebooted, as did the computers of my colleages. I still don't know why. If time permits, I'll try again later, but right now I have a kebab that is calling my name.
:: David (07:40 in Michigan, 13:40 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, February 16 2005 ::
Well, the battle for naming rights is going to court, specifically over feta cheese. The European Commission said (some time ago) that only Greece could call its cheese 'feta', in the same way that only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France can be called 'champagne'. Well, now Denmark and Germany are challenging the ruling, in part due to their concerns about feta, and in part to prevent the ruling from setting a precedent (and thus impacting their production of, for example, 'brie'). It's an interesting case, in part because it asks the question as to where 'brand name' ends and 'generic term' begins.
:: David (08:07 in Michigan, 14:07 in Paris) - Comment
Perhaps there will be no Google today - it appears I have something in my program which filters scripts (not a bad idea, really). I'll try again, and if it doesn't work, give up.
:: David (07:47 in Michigan, 13:47 in Paris) - Comment
So now, google will allow you to customize search results, based on criteria you define. So, for example, the search box which should appear below looks for politics, history, and photography themed sites for whatever you search for. I'm going to try it for a while and see what I think....
:: David (07:42 in Michigan, 13:42 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, February 14 2005 ::
So Finian will be heading off soon (if he has not already) for his flight back to the states. It was good to see them both, and much card playing was had. Now we shall have Misty for the rest of the week, and on Thursday we will all take the evening train to London for a weekend of fun and merriment.
I have discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that the only thing I find more difficult than having a 'hard-core must-see-everything' tourist visit is having the opposite. Fin was happy enough to see some things, but was here for the card playing, not the old buildings. By Sunday afternoon I had reached my limit of indoor-ness, and had to get out and wander for a bit. Which was nice, as Sasha and I finally had the opportunity to explore the island near our house, which has a delightful little park on it.
This week, pre-depature, we're hoping to have some friends from work over for dinner, and we'll see what sort of fun the evenings hold. In the meantime, happy Valentine's day!
:: David (04:59 in Michigan, 10:59 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
An amusing article in the Guardian this morning asks the question "How did dating get to be such a dirty word?" It asks at what point we stopped seeing people on a casual basis, and makes the interesting suggestion that we return to the traditions of calling cards (as in, cards with our name and contact info, perhaps monogrammed and/or perfumed, to be given to people we should like to get to know better), and the tradition of dance cards, where we go to a party and make a list of the people we shall dance with, with no more than one or two dances per person (and no waltzing for the young ladies!). The author cheekily notes "think how much time you could have saved in past relationships if you'd seen right from the start how the other person danced". It is interesting to note, as the author does, that this is very reminiscent of speed-dating....
:: David (04:53 in Michigan, 10:53 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Pity the tourists who go to Venice for Valentine's day! According to the Guardian, the gondoliers are on strike, in protest of rules which prohibit them from working between 1 am and 10.30 am. Apparently this is rush hour in Venice, and several accidents involving boats and gondolas led to the new rules. Gondoliers are unconvinced: "'We really can't see how rowing boats can constitute a danger to water traffic,' said Roberto Luppi, president of the gondoliers' association." They instead blame the proliferation of motor-driven boats, which they claim flout traffic rules. In protest they have taken such steps as briefly blocking the Grand Canal.
:: David (04:31 in Michigan, 10:31 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, February 12 2005 ::
So the jazz was hard core avant-garde. Wacky good stuff. We made it extra early, not sure what we were expecting, but thinking it was a club. It was not - i was a theatre, with cushy seats and the whole thing. There were some kids in front of us, and we joked that their parents were saying something like "shut up - it's good for you", because they were not interested at all. It's funny that now the cell phone and the game boy have converged - all of them were playing video games before the show (and, amazingly, sleeping during!) It took a few minutes to get our head around the music, but it was enjoyable. Fin wasn't feeling so hot, so we bailed after Sasha's cousin's set.
We walked a whole lot yesterday, and saw all sorts of stuff, and after the show came back and played a quick game of cards, and then turned in. We're now taking a while getting around to depart the house, and will probably have an easy day of wandering a bit downtown and then coming back for a tasty fish dinner. We left early and visited the market that happens every Saturday in Chatou, so we can feel good that we've done something already today.
:: David (06:56 in Michigan, 12:56 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, February 11 2005 ::
They are here, all safe and sound, and today I am taking off work to play tourist and have a nice day. This evening we're going to a club in the south of Paris to see Sasha's cousin play jazz (he's a jazz tuba player). Fun stuff!
:: David (06:22 in Michigan, 12:22 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, February 10 2005 ::
You know, someone was talking about this the other day, and I had no idea what they were talking about:
From the IHT: VERSAILLES, France: The oldest tree on the grounds of the palace of Versailles, Marie Antoinette's oak, was pulled down Wednesday more than 320 years after it was planted. Measuring 35 meters high and 5.5 meters around, or 115 feet high and 18 feet around, the tree died of dehydration in the heatwave of 2003. Planted in 1681, the oak was named after the wife of King Louis XVI who reputedly enjoyed its shade. It is to be replaced by a tree of the same species.
It isn't every day that someone tells you about Marie Antoinette's tree. And if you are already having trouble following the conversation, believe me when I tell you that an interjection like this makes you completely lose the train of thought!
:: David (03:29 in Michigan, 09:29 in Paris) - Comment
There is an article
in the January 2005
edition of Economic Policy titled
Television in a digital age: what role for public service broadcasting?" by Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap which asks what role, if any, public money should play in the
television business. Given that people now have tens or hundreds of channels,
the argument that everything you could want is already available is a strong
one. In addition, the idea put forward by commercial broadcasters that every dollar
spent on public broadcasting is a dollar given to a competitor also holds merit,
especially if the public broadcasters are making entertainment shows.
The article does an excellent job of setting out, first, when we should expect
the government to interfere in a market. This is when the market, as a whole,
is not supplying enough of something, or is supplying too much of something.
He then goes on to show some examples of what the television market might supply
too little or too much of: news, and police or medical dramas, for example.
The author rightly points out that making a new show is expensive, and as
shows begin to cost more and more, they are being given less and less time
to find their audience. He also points out that, by definition, new and
innovative programming doesn't have a ready-made audience, because shows of
its nature have not existed before. Thus, shows which break the mold are
becoming less and less likely to be made as the level of competition
in the TV market increases.
In addition, it is pointed out that
there is a free-rider aspect
to innovation. If one channel makes a pile of money on a TV show about
a truck driver with a monkey, all the other channels will come out with
something similar. However, only the first channel will have taken a risk,
as the other channels will be, to some degree or another, following the
formula set out by the first, successful show. The other channels will
not, however, have to give any money to the first show even though they
are copying the idea, unless they copy the show exactly. Thus there is
no incentive to channels to take risk.
The paper is written to a UK audience, and is targeted toward the BBC.
Nevertheless, the arguments presented should also inform debate on
other public broadcasting systems.
:: David (01:06 in Michigan, 07:06 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, February 9 2005 ::
Well, today is the last day I get a lazy breakfast at 7am. Tomorrow Fin and Misty will arrive, with Fin leaving on Monday and Misty leaving a week later. We've lots planned, including a long weekend in London. I'll be this and next Friday off, so as to be able to see everyone as much as possible. I'll also be getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to go meet F&M at the airport, before going to put in a day of work (I figure they'll just crash for a few hours, so no loss if I go in).
Happy lent, by the way.
:: David (02:01 in Michigan, 08:01 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, February 8 2005 ::
Toronto - the city Canadians love to hate.
I did interviews
in towns whose endless outskirts look no different to me from Raleigh or Rochester. And yet, people would point a finger in the direction of Toronto and proclaim: "Too American. Ugh."
Needless to say, the article is written by someone from Toronto.
:: David (02:04 in Michigan, 08:04 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, February 7 2005 ::
Le Superbowl? Comment ça marche? If the superbowl is a mystery, 20 minutes will explain.
:: David (13:44 in Michigan, 19:44 in Paris) - Comment
By the way - the most well known book of the economist Greenspan gave a speech on, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, can be read online, or downloaded, from the gutenberg project.
:: David (12:14 in Michigan, 18:14 in Paris) - Comment
A very interesting article on AlterNet talks about how the media completely mangled the vote count in Iraq, and that final results may have absolutely nothing to do with the initial reports. Interestingly, numbers seem to be everywhere, but noone seems to know what they mean. For example,
Howard Kurtz at least looked into the Iraqi numbers. In a Tuesday column, he observed that "the 14 million figure is the number of registered Iraqis, while turnout is usually calculated using the number of eligible voters. The number of adults in Iraq is probably closer to 18 million," which would lower the turnout figure to 45% (if, indeed, the 8 million number holds up).
now, as I noted here a couple days ago, the CIA says there are far fewer than 18 million adults, even counting people younger than 18. If nobody even knows how many people there are (to within something like 20%), any sort of voter turnout numbers are rather suspect. In cases where actual votes have been counted, turnout seems a touch lower: "The New York Times on Thursday reports that in the 'diverse' city of Mosul, with 60% of the count completed, the overall turnout seems slightly above 10%, or 'somewhat more than 50,000 of Mosul's 500,000 estimated eligible voters.'" The article also draws parallels (as others have been doing) to other elections of a somewhat questionable nature: "Those with long memories may recall the downward-adjusted turnout numbers that followed violence-plagued elections in South Vietnam in 1967 and in El Salvador in 1984."
I will wait with interest the actual turnout numbers, which may not be released for some time - especially if they are very disappointing. It's a shame that, at the very least, the media is unable or unwilling to tell us the truth.
:: David (06:26 in Michigan, 12:26 in Paris) - Comment
Something you don't hear about very often - Adam Smith, patron saint of the neoconservative agenda, was to no small degree a liberal. The Guardian has a small article this morning discussing the recent speech Alan Greenspan gave on Smith on the anniversary of his (?) in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Interestingly, even Greenspan tries to pass Smith off as a Free Market saint, stating that the ideas of Smith were even today challenged by the "anti-capitalist, anti-free trade rhetoric currently prevalent in some contemporary discourse." What the article in the Guardian points out is that Smith was a lot smarter, and a lot more cautious, than Greenspan seems to indicate.
:: David (04:14 in Michigan, 10:14 in Paris) - Comment
There's a really, really interesting article in Policy Review which looks at four books concerning the coming worldwide demographic problem. It discusses the question of where such concepts as economic growth and the welfare state go when there are no young people to pay for them, and what other societal changes might take place over the next 50 years or so as the world's population greys. Will the state be the one promoting childbearing, or will a cultural shift back to Victorian mores be the method society chooses to drive up birth rates? Questions abound, and one can currently only speculate where the answer will play out.
:: David (02:03 in Michigan, 08:03 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, February 4 2005 ::
Good news! In an
about the Large Hadron Collider project operated by CERN,
which is a project to detect subatomic particles by crashing
things together at very nearly the speed of light,
the chief scientific officer, Jos Engelen, informed the
BBC that the project will "keep physicists off street corners
for a long time to come". Which makes me want to fund as many
large scale physics experiments as possible, for fear of the
:: David (12:23 in Michigan, 18:23 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, February 3 2005 ::
There's a really interesting comment piece in Le Monde today, talking about downloading music. It comes on the heels of the results of the first prosecution of a music downloader in France - a 28 year old teacher, who was fined more than 15,000 euros (one euro for each song on his hard drive). The decision is not a popular one, as can be gleaned from Le Monde:
This tension comes as the sales of CDs fell between 9% and 14% in
value in 2004, as compared to the previous year.
Frustrated by these disappointing results, the CD multinationals
will not be separated from their defensive strategy, which
considers the consumer as a powerful enemy.
Rather than to adapt their industry to the new technology,
they live in the regret of the loss of the golden age of CDs,
which represented a gold mine lasting nearly fifteen years.
It is a pity.
One could have imagined that the manufacturers
of walkmans agreeing on standards of compatibility and that
the editors of music offer paid download sites
which were large and attractive.
One would have wished for the installation of an
active pedagogy aimed at Net surfers,
too quickly designated as defrauders, even as delinquents.
The CD makers preferred
to use a stick, rather than a carrot,
starting with the Napster business, in 2002.
This aggressive attitude undoubtedly dissuaded
a certain number of potential lawbreakers, but
it did not do anything to reconstitute the bonds
which linked the music lovers of all walks to the
labels they preferred
during the halcyon days of vinyl.
This posture is completely useless. The days of the CD, like vinyl,
are past. From now on, for many amateurs, the music happens in
this way. The numerical files have the advantage of preserving, from one
copy to another, their integrity. MP3 Walkmans, tiny and desirable,
allow the accumulation of thousands of ripped songs, before
being stored by their "owners", or by Internet sites, represent
the new reality.
Reason would hope that each party finally accepts
this reality and that they find, jointly, an acceptable financial
solution for all. One cannot indefinitely deny the eruption of
a new technology.
Cette tension se développe alors que les ventes de CD devraient
enregistrer une baisse, en valeur, de 9 % à 15 %, en 2004,
par rapport à l'année précédente. Frustrées par ces résultats
décevants, les multinationales du disque peinent à se
départir de leur stratégie défensive, qui conçoit le
consommateur comme un ennemi en puissance.
Plutôt que d'adapter leur industrie à la
nouvelle donne technologique, elles vivent
dans le regret de l'âge d'or du CD qui a
représenté une véritable mine durant près de quinze ans.
On aurait pu imaginer que les fabricants de baladeurs se mettent
d'accord sur des normes de compatibilité et que
les éditeurs de musique proposent des sites de téléchargement
avec une offre payante, large, attractive.
On aurait souhaité la mise en place d'une
pédagogie active en direction des internautes,
trop vite désignés comme des fraudeurs,
voire des délinquants. Les éditeurs de
disques ont préféré sortir le bâton depuis
l'affaire Napster, en 2002. Cette attitude agressive
a sans doute dissuadé un certain nombre de
contrevenants potentiels, mais elle n'a rien fait pour reconstituer
les liens qui unissaient les mélomanes de toutes obédiences
à leurs labels préférés au beau temps du disque vinyle.
Cette posture est surtout vaine. Les CD, comme les vinyles,
ont leur avenir derrière eux. Désormais, pour beaucoup d'amateurs,
la musique se passe de ce support. Les fichiers numériques
possèdent cet avantage de conserver, d'une copie à l'autre,
leur intégrité. Les baladeurs MP3, minuscules et désirables, conçus
pour accumuler des milliers de chansons qui ont transité,
avant d'être stockées par leurs "propriétaires", par des
sites Internet, représentent la nouvelle réalité.
La raison voudrait que chaque partie l'accepte enfin
et que l'on trouve, en commun, une solution financière acceptable par tous. On ne peut nier indéfiniment l'irruption d'une nouvelle technologie.
Which, I think, is rather how we all feel about the business to some degree or another. Noone wants the artist to go hungry. The record companies, on the other hand, we are more mixed about. Noone likes a big company that behaves badly.
:: David (16:33 in Michigan, 22:33 in Paris) - Comment
Mobile phones in France are so bizarre. On the one hand, to have a mobile phone is quite inexpensive - mine costs me $13/month. And all incoming calls are free (this is the same as with most countries other than the united states - you only use minutes when you make calls, not when you receive calls). But on the other hand, to actually use the phone to make a call is the most expensive thing in the universe. For example, my company (Orange) just sent me a text message advertising a product that will give you a huge discount to a single phone number. Yes, for only $3.90 per week, I can have 20 minutes talk time to a single number. Which works out to 20 cents per minute. Which is, in fact, a good deal, when you consider that normally it would cost me 59 cents per minute. But regardless, the price is far too high. The trick, of course, is that the market is heavily concentrated, there are still a lot of taxes, and all land lines are still under the monopoly control of France telecom. In fact, it was recently announced that France Telecom would be raising their line subscription rates by 23% "to bring this fee in line with the average in the 15 core EU markets at the end of 2004". How many people will dump their land line and go to mobile phones only? We'll see. I do know that VoIP (making telephone calls over the internet) is quite popular here - and it isn't hard to see why.
:: David (10:10 in Michigan, 16:10 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Wednesday, February 2 2005 ::
You may remember yesterday I mentioned we had brought a lamp home on the metro. I thought I would share (I hope she doesn't mind) Lindsay's story of metro moving:
I saw two people carrying a sofa in the metro one time. I think it was a two seater. They lugged it into the metro and then collapsed on it for the three stops that they were going.
So we were not alone in our craziness. It was worth it. Sasha bought a lampshade for it today, and now it is installed in our dining room.
:: David (17:05 in Michigan, 23:05 in Paris) - Comment
I found an interesting infographic in '20 minutes' which shows the current and projected top five wine consuming countries.
The United States, currently in fourth place, is set to knock France from the top spot by 2008 (although per capita consumption will obviously be different.
:: David (17:01 in Michigan, 23:01 in Paris) - Comment
I am fast becoming a zen master in the art of transporting furniture on the metro. Yesterday Sasha and I bought a floor lamp, and brought it home on the metro during rush hour. It was especially impressive because it's one of those lamps with a solid metal base - I think it weighs 20 pounds or so, and all the weight is concentrated at the base of the lamp. I was terrified I was going to hack someone's foot off at the ankle, but in the end it was no trouble at all. I did draw more than a few curious looks, but the people who work for the metro company didn't stop me, so I guess anything you can get through the door is fine by them.
:: David (01:59 in Michigan, 07:59 in Paris) - Comment
According to the BBC, Canada has introduced a bill legalizing gay marriage. This has been expected for some time, but it seems somewhat more interesting now that their neighbours to the south have re-elected Bush for a second term. The numbers are fairly close, with a slight mojority in favour of the bill.
:: David (01:52 in Michigan, 07:52 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, February 1 2005 ::
This is interesting - I didn't know it existed, perhaps because I scoff at Friedman, but apparently there is a news service dedicated to translating arabic television (subtitling, one supposes). It's called memri, and if you go there now you can see an iraqi election advertisement, among other things. I don't know yet what their agenda is, although based on some of the clips I am a little skeptical. Nevertheless, being able to see for yourself is always welcome.
:: David (01:36 in Michigan, 07:36 in Paris) - Comment