:: Thursday, March 31 2005 ::
Well, my computer monitor died, which is actually ok, as people will be coming to visit starting tomorrow, so I wouldn't be able to use the computer that much anyway. Sasha had that, as one element to add to her truly awful day, which included breaking my computer, breaking the sink, finding out a friend was in the hospital with pnemonia, the store wouldn't ring up her purchases, and washing her metro pass. Yikes! And all I did today was go hang out with a bunch of government ministers. Fortunately, from my point of view, the sink and the computer are fixable (and this being the last day of the month, the destroyed metro pass didn't really matter, although she did get it replaced, and had to endure much mocking from the metro people). I had to call Toshiba here in France, and in a mixture of French and English got my problem taken care of. I'll have to ship the computer off, but thankfully I'll be able, I think, to back it up before I send it off. No harm, no foul.
:: David (16:55 in Michigan, 22:55 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, March 30 2005 ::
The OECD, from today until Friday, is having a meeting of the people who help shape social policy in much of the western world. This means two and a half days of talking about stuff that's really important, and hopefully coming back with some ideas that can help make the world a better place. At least, that's the best case scenario. You can read all about it, with links to documents on family-friendly policy and somesuch, on the Meeting of OECD Social Affairs Ministers website. If you read the programme, you can see more or less what I'll be doing for the next couple of days, except I don't think I get any of the fancy food.
:: David (14:07 in Michigan, 20:07 in Paris) - Comment
You can now see the description of the class Sasha will be teaching in the fall on U of M's class lists. Don't you wish you were a student again?
:: David (05:37 in Michigan, 11:37 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Tuesday, March 29 2005 ::
We're back! Did you miss us!?
:: David (14:47 in Michigan, 20:47 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, March 25 2005 ::
We made it to dijon safely, but the internet access is sketchy at best, so Ill probably resist writing much until we get back next week. Happy Easter to all!
:: David (15:11 in Michigan, 21:11 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, March 24 2005 ::
According to the BBC, a row has broken out in Japan over a suggestion by the amateur Sumo wrestling association that young people be allowed to wear shorts. It has been suggested that body image is one of the reasons that young people are not taking up the sport as much as they used to. The BBC has more details.
I actually have an additional thought about this, as the question must arise as to whether the body image concept has been imported from abroad. I find the idea of shy japanese boys not wanting to wear the mawashi somewhat unlikely. More of a western concept than a japanese one. However, as the suggestion appears to have come from inside, rather than outside, it suggests that the body image issue is actually a problem (as opposed to a western newspaper projecting western values on a situation, and getting it completely wrong). But it strikes me as odd, which makes me wonder if western concepts of body image are being imported. Scary....
:: David (12:25 in Michigan, 18:25 in Paris) - Comment
I don't know how many of you saw this, but it floored me, so I'll share. According to research by conducted by an internet security company, people are not only clicking on the links contained in spam emails, they're also actually buying the products in droves (the report suggests 1 in 10, but I find that... incredible). See the original press release from Mirapoint, or read the article the BBC did (and no, I don't know why they chose that photo).
:: David (02:04 in Michigan, 08:04 in Paris) - Comment
According to Wired magazine, a report in Nature released this week says that a strain of experimental GM (genetically modified) corn was released into the wild in 2000. Nobody noticed for four years. All the details.
:: David (01:53 in Michigan, 07:53 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, March 23 2005 ::
Apparently at the end of World War II the British government did research on suicide pigeon squads. Read all about it!
:: David (15:18 in Michigan, 21:18 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, March 22 2005 ::
Oh, man! With a name like "Vaillant: pigeon de combat"it has to be good! Here's the official French site. Since it is 'par le producteur de shrek' I assume you have all heard about thisunder an English title. I found an article in the timeswhich describes the film - quite a voice cast they'vegot for the English version! Looks like fun. I'll have toconsider how to see it, as I don't think it will beshown in English around here.
:: David (03:53 in Michigan, 09:53 in Paris) - Comment
So I was randomly surfing the net (do you do that anymore? I only do it late at night, just seeing where I end up) and I ran across someone's comments that they had paid their hosting bill by way of links to products at amazon.com. And I thought 'hey - that's not a bad idea!' In addition to being somewhat amusing to me, to get paid by them, instead of what I usually do, which is sending them money, I thought it would remind me, periodically, to tell you all what I'm reading. Which, lately, is books about living in France. Almost French is a book by Sarah Turnbull, who is a reporter who moved to France on a whim and stayed. Yes, one of those. I can't give a complete review, but it seems better than some of the genre I've seen, partly because she's Australian. In addition, I was able to get my 'life in france' fix combined with a wine book in The Accidental Connoisseur, which is a fun book about a writer who decided one day that he really ought to know more about wine, and apparently decided to learn more by tracking down all the really big names in the wine world and drinking with them. His comments about how fake the whole ritual seems are quite interesting. And really, any book that talks about wines that taste like chicken poop has to be at least slightly fun to read.
So there you go - gratuitous links to books you can buy, which apparently give me a cut. I'll try to periodically add something (in part because I'm afraid there's some clause in the agreement I clicked 'yes' to that says they can seize my bank account if I don't link often enough!) about what I'm reading at the moment, although I don't know if it will ever be as pseudo-literary again. On the other hand, maybe you want to read A Pirate of Her Own too...?
:: David (19:33 in Michigan, 01:33 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, March 21 2005 ::
On Sunday we went to Fontainebleau, because the weather was lovely and we had nothing better to do with a Sunday. We visited the chateau and generally spent a few hours wandering around aimlessly. And, of course, I took lots of pictures.
:: David (18:20 in Michigan, 00:20 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, March 19 2005 ::
By the way - I discovered that last, wonderful post on a website called Auto Blog,under the title "it's a redneck wedding when...". Iuse a program called Quick News do download blogsto my palm, so I can read them on the metro, and Auto Blog came pre-installed. I didn't think I would keep it,but I guess working in the auto industry had some effect on me, because I generally find their stuff reallyinteresting. Which is probably a bad sign....
:: David (13:47 in Michigan, 19:47 in Paris) - Comment
I know that you all need to experience this as much as I did, so I'm going to share. Apparently there is a company which is extending certain cars to limo size, and then slapping 'race car inspired' logos all over them. Viola, I give you Racing Limos. The front page, really, honestly, tells you everything you need to know.
:: David (13:41 in Michigan, 19:41 in Paris) - Comment
How's this for fun: at the McDonald's website, you can pull up a form that allows you to get nutrition information for everything on the menu. Always wanted to know how much fat was in that big mac? Just click and find out!
:: David (13:34 in Michigan, 19:34 in Paris) - Comment
Watched some truly random TV this morning, apropo of nothing. A BBC special on Reggae, and a French (children's?) show all about semi trucks in Europe. As you do. Actually, it was interesting - truckers here have a black box of sorts that when they are stopped they can use to show their speed over the last day, and also how long they have been driving (because European/French regulations only allow four and a half hour stretches between breaks). Also lots of information on the tunnels that connect Italy to France. Fun, random stuff. This afternoon we're going to go with a friend of Sasha's to the antique fair here in town. Tomorrow looks like Fontainebleau, assuming the weather holds, etc.
:: David (06:10 in Michigan, 12:10 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, March 18 2005 ::
The independent today has an article which points out that choosing Wolfowitz to lead the World Bank isn't the point. The title of the piece? "The World Bank will spread misery and deprivation whoever is in charge". Fairly clear. You can read a summary here.
:: David (06:30 in Michigan, 12:30 in Paris) - Comment
Sasha was quite disturbed by an article on the BBC which quotes George Lucas as describing the third Star Wars movie as "Titanic in space". I'm not sure that should be the tag line he uses, though I'm sure he would appreciate the money Titanic generated. Maybe we can have Anakin stand on the deck of a Star Destroyer saying "I'm the king of the universe" or somesuch. Which, let's face it, is not as exciting as the scenes we all envisaged for Samuel L Jackson from "Pulp Fiction". 'Hand me my lightsaber. It's the one that says Bad Mother [censored].'
:: David (04:58 in Michigan, 10:58 in Paris) - Comment
Oil Prices and Alaska drilling seem to be getting lots of press, as do the budget shenanigans of the US senate and house. It's all a big mess in the US, so for the time being I'm leaving it alone - let everything work itself out in back rooms and committees, as it always does, and we'll figure out what to do with it later. Seems like everything in the world got voted on this week, apparently before a two week break for Easter.
Much more interesting, to me, is what's happening in Germany. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has announced his plans to cut the corporate tax rate from 25% to 19%. That's huge. It flies in the face of the idea of the high tax/high benefit welfare state, and also seems to undermine the battle in Europe concerning the 'race to the bottom' in taxation rates - something stirred up by the new EU member countries (who have very low tax rates), and generally (or perhaps I should say previously) led by Germany and France. Of course, it all has to go through. And, as the BBC points out, many analysts think other reforms are needed, specifically in the labour market (i.e., easier hiring and firing).
:: David (04:28 in Michigan, 10:28 in Paris) - Comment
The vatican, or at least one of the cardinals of the catholic church, has finally decided it was time to 'correct' some impressions people are getting from The Da Vinci Code. Said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in a BBC interview: "I have not been given a special duty from the Vatican to criticise this book," and continued "But my opinion, my initiative has found a positive echo amongst many cardinals, who are saying 'finally someone has the courage to speak'." According to the latest article on him, his sessions are well attended. The questions cited in the article make me worry though - are people really incapable of telling fact from fiction?
:: David (02:19 in Michigan, 08:19 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I had heard, some weeks ago, that when google announced it would allow people to search books online, non-English speakers (OK - the French) had expressed concern that it would lead to yet more linguistic imperialism, as one can't expect them to index books in languages they don't read. What I didn't realize was that they intended to do something about it. But according to the BBC today, France is leading an effort to put European books online. The story seems to indicate this has support at a very high (read: presidential) level. "'Because of France and Europe's exceptional cultural heritage, they must play a key role' in the development of the internet, [French President] Chirac said." Apparently it was the head of the French national library who noted in January that the Google proect could result in "the crushing domination of the US in shaping the worldview of future generations". Which you have to admit, sounds scary!
:: David (02:02 in Michigan, 08:02 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, March 16 2005 ::
I had to buy another gig of bandwidth - I'm up to 4,500 'visitors' per day. I can't decide if it's because google et al. have decided I'm a good guy, or because of the weblog over at xanga.com (in which case I might have to remove the offending picture(s), as bandwidth is not totally cheap). Either way, lots and lots of downloading of stuff going on!
:: David (17:11 in Michigan, 23:11 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Word on the wire has it that Bush has chosen Wolfowitz to lead the World Bank.Joe Stiglitz, the nobel prize winning economist, had afairly strong opinion about the idea of Wolfowitz as thepresident of the World Bank:
The two names that have been floated so far are particularly disturbing. To put it bluntly, consideration of the US assistant defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz or former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carleton Fiorina has been highly controversial. Even if convention allows the American president to appoint the World Bank's head, the organisation's success depends on the confidence of others. Neither Wolfowitz nor Fiorina has any training or experience in economic development or financial markets.The Economist also has some apparent doubts about his nomination:
The worry is that he cannot separate himself from the White House. It is perhaps instructive to look at the history of another man who came out of America’s defence department to head the World Bank: Robert McNamara, who as defence secretary was an architect of the Vietnam war. Steven Radelet of the Centre for Global Development, speaking to CNN, pointed out that Mr McNamara was accused of picking aid recipients based on their support for America’s foreign policy, rather than their suitability for assistance. Will Mr Wolfowitz be able to resist using his office to further his political aims?and if all that wasn't enough, Reuters has reported that "European sources said Wolfowitz's name was circulated informally among board directors several weeks ago and was rejected. 'Mr. Wolfowitz's nomination today tells us the U.S. couldn't care less what the rest of the world thinks,' one source said."Overall, I think it safe to say that the Bush administrationhas carried on as it was before. It will be interesting tosee if the Europeans allow this to occur....
:: David (15:06 in Michigan, 21:06 in Paris) - Comment
Well, the word is back from the University of Michigan, and they don't want me. Looks like I'll have to get a real job and earn lots of money to spite them all.
:: David (14:54 in Michigan, 20:54 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Tuesday, March 15 2005 ::
Three random images I thought you might be interested in. The first two are the old wood carvings (didn't call them etchings this time!) we bought at the weekend. This is one, and this is the other. The other image I snarfed from somewhere, which is OK, I think, as it has been banned as a publicity campaign here in France, and also in Italy I believe. It's a take on the last supper, but done quite provocatively. Of course, the surprise here was that an image based on a work of art would be banned. I wasn't really that surprised.
:: David (02:04 in Michigan, 08:04 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, March 14 2005 ::
So if you've ever wondered what makes me nervous during the working day, this article in The Australian should answer all your questions:
The Prime Minister said yesterday that the OECD report was wrong. "The OECD report contains some very serious errors," he told parliament.Thankfully, it wasn't exactly the stuff I do. But it was frighteningly close....
:: David (15:05 in Michigan, 21:05 in Paris) - Comment
According to a story on the BBC, Kimchi, also known as pickled (and fermented?) cabbage, may cure the Asian bird flu. Why am I not surprised this was discovered in Korea?
:: David (12:02 in Michigan, 18:02 in Paris) - Comment
Naomi Klein, in today's Guardian, takes a good strong stab at Thomas Friedman:
I found this story especially amusing as an article in the Boston Globe also talks about 'Brand America', and also quotes Ms. Klein, this time in support of harmonizing the actions with the words: "America's problem is not with its brand-which could scarcely be stronger-but with its product." As the article points out, brand management, by definition, has to manage all angles of the brand. If the product (or actions) of the brand are completely at odds with the advertisement, people will very quickly stop believing the propaganda.
Brand USA's latest story was launched on January 30, the day of the Iraqi elections, complete with a catchy tag line ("purple power"), instantly iconic imagery (purple fingers) and, of course, a new narrative about America's role in the world, helpfully told and retold by the White House's unofficial brand manager, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. "Iraq has been reframed from a story about Iraqi 'insurgents' trying to liberate their country from American occupiers and their Iraqi 'stooges' to a story of the overwhelming Iraqi majority trying to build a democracy, with US help, against the wishes of Iraqi Ba'athist fascists and jihadists."
This new story is so contagious, we are told, that it has set off a domino effect akin to the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of communism. (Although in the "Arabian spring" the only wall in sight - Israel's apartheid wall - pointedly stays up.) As with all branding campaigns, the power is in the repetition, not in the details. Obvious non sequiturs (is Bush taking credit for Arafat's death?) and screeching hypocrisies (occupiers against occupation!) just mean it's time to tell the story again, only louder and more slowly, obnoxious-tourist style.
:: David (04:37 in Michigan, 10:37 in Paris) - Comment
The tour montparnasse (photo), according to today's issue of 20 minutes, is the tallest office building in Europe, standing 210 metres (680 feet) and having 52 floors of offices, each one approximately 1700 metres square (20,000 square feet) and on average 150 people who work there. In addition, it is host to 600,000 tourists each year, who climb it for the amazing views of Paris. Sadly, according to a recent report, it is also completely infested with asbestos. Four of the floors have been classed at the highest level of danger. According to Le Journal du Dimanche, the risk has been known since 2002, and now that it has been revealed, the finger pointing has begun.
We used to have a great view of the building from our apartment in the 20th, and we used to say that we should at some point climb it and see the city. I think now I'm glad we didn't.
:: David (04:13 in Michigan, 10:13 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, March 13 2005 ::
I managed to put up the smaller version of Fin and Misty's trip to France, which eliminated about 75% of the photos. If you tried to make it through them before, but the fact that there were 500 photos put you off, this is the much smaller, much trimmer version. Highlights include the Louvre, London, the Rodin museum, cute furry animals, a weird monkey hat, and lots of old buildings.
:: David (12:31 in Michigan, 18:31 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, March 12 2005 ::
So I decided the news had to go. It was an experiment, I didn't like it all that much, and now it's gone. In part, I removed it because I read an article somewhere which described the stereotypical blog as having the three column layout. And who wants to be stereotypical?
:: David (18:44 in Michigan, 00:44 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Well, that was quite a day! We started out by heading over to the antique fair near our house, which was chock full of crazy bizarro goodness, most of it overpriced. We acquired... good lord - I think they might be called etchings! I hadn't tried to put a label on them until typing this, but I do believe I now have etchings. You are all going to hear that pick-up line a million times if they survive the journey back to the states! Heh!
Having survived the fair, which was interrupted by rain, we came home, dropped off the (heh) etchings, and headed out to Saint-Germain-en-Laye for a small wine fair the local Lion's club was putting on. There were perhaps 80 vintners there from all over France, and we drank too much wine and bought too much wine and came home. I have discovered that, unlike some people, my French gets much worse when I'm drunk, rather than better. This is sad. The trouble is that I concentrate, a lot, which means I lose all the words. Ah well - we managed to leave with wine, so we must have done OK.
:: David (18:33 in Michigan, 00:33 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, March 11 2005 ::
An interesting happening is taking place in the UK these days. A celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, is running the entirety of the UK's school lunch program over the coals, in a fierce way. For a summary of the goings on, the Guardian has done a commentary on the basics. According to an article published today, there is a 500% markup between the cost of ingredients and the price of a school lunch. However, the amount actually being spent on ingredients is 37p - about the cost of a pint of milk - which everyone agrees is not enough to create a healthy meal. Whether or not the politicians will have the wherewithal to spend money on the topic is a question, but one which 'the naked chef', as he is called, will certainly try to have some say in.
:: David (04:30 in Michigan, 10:30 in Paris) - Comment
You may or may not remember that when I did that work on cork back in 2003, I talked about the Iberian lynx, which is a large cat that lives in Spain and Portugal, and is highly endangered. Well, the BBC today has a story on the lynx, which cites a SOS lynx report by Dan Ward which states that Spain and the European Union have failed miserably in efforts to protect the cat from extinction. It seems that even as the EU was funding efforts to protect the cat, it was also funding a major highway which was built straight through the animal's habitat.
:: David (04:18 in Michigan, 10:18 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, March 10 2005 ::
I love it! As you may or may not be aware, the BBC has created 9 or 10 new Dr. Who episodes, which will begin airing I think this month (sooner if you are on the file sharing networks - it seems someone leaked one early, creating quite a stir at the BBC!) To give you an idea of how excited the Brits are about this (or at least an idea of how much hype surrounds it), check out the front page of the Times today, which has given quite a chunk of their front page to an image from the show.
:: David (01:32 in Michigan, 07:32 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Well, today two things happen. One, the International Olympic Committee visits Paris to decide what they think of the Paris bid for the 2012 Olympic games. Two, a massive strike will reduce many of the metro and bus lines to complete uselessness (and/or complete sardine cans).
I had originally planned to go in extra early (as in, already be at work by now (7AM)), but as we have an event we're going to this evening in town, that would have simply meant staying in my office for 12 hours. So, I'm going to brave the rush hour metro lines and see what happens. If worse comes to worse, I'll take the main line in to the Champs Elysee and walk from there. Hopefully that won't be necessary....
:: David (01:20 in Michigan, 07:20 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, March 9 2005 ::
We have a difficulty with our apartment. Specifically, it has no deadbolt. This has been fine up until now, but with the spring and summer months approaching, and assuming at some point we'll be taking extended vacations, we need to ensure that we can protect our apartment from the bad people with screwdrivers.
Sadly, this means calling our landlords and asking them to fix it. Sasha doesn't like the phone, and I don't like speaking French, so whenever something like this comes up there is a battle of wits to determine who does the dirty work. I think I have lost this particular battle, which means I have to work up the nerve to call them. I think I've missed my opportunity for today, but that excuse can only work for so long....
:: David (12:06 in Michigan, 18:06 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
It seems that the Ukraine, which has recently undergone a change in leadership (you may have read about it), chose one of the songs from the 'velvet revolution' as their Eurovision song contest entry. Now the organizers of the contest have decided their entry is too political, and that they have to change the lyrics. Given that the lyrics include "No to falsifications... No to lies. Yushchenko - yes! Yushchenko - yes! This is our president - yes, yes!", it will perhaps give them the chance to make something a touch more catchy. Either way, there will be some serious excitement coming out of the Ukraine, because last year's winner, Ruslana, will be performing, and that means fur, fire, and whips. Yikes!
:: David (01:58 in Michigan, 07:58 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, March 8 2005 ::
By the way - those of you out there in reader land will have to tell me if the new layout is better - I've skinnied up the righthand column and widened the web page overall. It certainly looks more legible on the two computers I have access to, but one never knows what other people are using....
:: David (08:13 in Michigan, 14:13 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I was thinking about what a strange word 'comic' is. The implication, of course, is that it should be funny. 'Cartoon', also has that implication of humour, although less so, I think, than 'comic'. But obviously in many cases they are not intended to be funny, which makes me wonder why we don't have a word (correct me if I'm wrong) for the serious image. Obviously 'graphic novel' has allowed the 'comic book' to get away from the humour aspect, but to my knowledge there isn't a singular - a word for the single image conveying a message which is not humourous.
:: David (03:41 in Michigan, 09:41 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
The French and Iraqi hostages from Libération were in the newspaper this morning, and it also pointed me to the For Florence and Hussein website, which among other things has all the political cartoons of them which have appeared in the various newspapers here.
:: David (03:36 in Michigan, 09:36 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, March 7 2005 ::
The fine print:
This survey is completely scientific. Despite the mind-boggling complexity of mankind, the billions of distinctly different personalities found on Earth can easily be divided into seven simple categories that correspond to the five Platonic solids, a pseudo polyhedron, and whatever the hell a d100 is. The results of this quiz should be considered not only meaningful but also infallible, and pertinent to your success as a fully realized individual. If you feel the results of this examination do not match your perceived personality, you should take whatever drastic measures are needed to cram your superego back into proper alignment, as described by the quiz results.Just in case you can't be bothered to find out what kind of polyhedron you are....
:: David (13:21 in Michigan, 19:21 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I usually manage to resist these things, but it was the fine print at the bottom that sold me:
Take the quiz at dicepool.com
:: David (13:19 in Michigan, 19:19 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
March 7, 1965. Bloody Sunday. Civil rights activists marching on Selma Alabama are attacked and beaten by state and local police. The events, shown on the evening news across the United States, galvanize the civil rights movement, and find it additional support.
It's odd, because of course, on the one hand the civil rights movement showed us the depth of humanity's inhumanity, but on the other hand, like pandora's box, once you made it through all the gunk, at the bottom was hope.
:: David (03:58 in Michigan, 09:58 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, March 6 2005 ::
The photos from our trip yesterday to Arras are up, along with the exciting tale of the Holy Candle! We've decided we need to do more day trips - Arras was 45 minutes by TGV (high speed train) from Paris, and there are any number of interesting towns within a couple of hours. All in it cost something like fifty euros for both of us to go there and back, and because we made a day trip there's no hotel to pay for. The only thing we need to work on is scheduling our return - often we are exhausted and ready to head back long before our train is scheduled to depart.
:: David (17:22 in Michigan, 23:22 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Well, that was a lovely weekend! We went to Arras, in the north of France, and spent the day wandering the city and admiring their surprisingly well equipped museum, and today we went to a house in the marais and had pancakes and latkas and lots of good conversation. Very fun, relaxing stuff.
:: David (12:26 in Michigan, 18:26 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, March 4 2005 ::
Each day on my way to work the train passes two billboards, each one 10 feet tall and maybe 15 feet wide (3m x 5m), which show the faces of two hostages in Iraq - a French reporter and her Iraqi translator. When the last two French hostages were released last year there was a mass outpouring of joy.
So if you want to know how to piss the Europeans right off, a good way to start is by shooting at their hostages. That appears to be what American troops did today, after the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was released from her captivity. The Italian Prime Minister has summoned the US ambassador to demand an explanation. What explanation the ambassador can give, I fear, is not much.
:: David (18:54 in Michigan, 00:54 in Paris) - Comment
Snow all over Chatou, France:
Lots and lots of wonderful snow. It was really warm this afternoon, and then things went snowy, fast. By the time I took the train home, it was winter wonderland all over. In a way, I wish we weren't going away tomorrow, so I could take pictures of snowy Paris landmarks. But we are. Which is also good.
:: David (15:43 in Michigan, 21:43 in Paris) - Comment
It's interesting, isn't it, how much labels can matter? I was visiting a friend's weblog, someone I didn't realize had a weblog, and on the 'about me' section they had filled in 'conservative republican'. Now, I knew that I didn't have a lot in common with this person, but that was carrying things a bit far. Friends don't let friends vote republican, and all that. But the fact is, it made me think about what I thought I knew about this person, and whether the fact that they identified with this label changed what I thought about them.
:: David (11:52 in Michigan, 17:52 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, March 3 2005 ::
Ah. It wasn't a Tori Amos fashion show, but it was her playing at a fashion show in Paris yesterday. The Independent has all the details.
:: David (14:44 in Michigan, 20:44 in Paris) - Comment
You know, if I didn't know better, I would say Tori Amos has a clothing line coming out. Certainly there was a fashion show, which was using her music, and there was a redheaded woman who came out to bow at the end. Wacky.
:: David (14:41 in Michigan, 20:41 in Paris) - Comment
The news this evening did a special on some migratory birds who have stopped heading north because of how cold it is. They've set down near Bordeaux, I think on the Gironde river. They did an interview with a very excited young birdwatcher/biologist, who took the cameraperson out to see the birds wearing more camo than I've ever seen on someone. They went wading. In a swamp. A frozen swamp. She was enthousiastic!
:: David (14:40 in Michigan, 20:40 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Another technical difficulty cleared up. Actually, it's kind of interesting (believe it or not) so I'll share.
For some time now, I've been blathering on about trying to get RSS up and running. RSS is a way to allow people to automatically download your site to mobile devices, and also a way to publish your site - certain websites automatically check if you've added an entry and if you have, they tell people there's a new entry. Given that I update this site so often, it seemed appropriate to try to get people reading it. However, as it turns out, RSS requires much stricter grammar than html does, and me, and my lazy ways, don't make it happy. So it's also forcing me to be a better person, by correcting my grammar (or rather, by returning terrible nasty errors with big red text when I get something wrong). So hopefully, before too long, I shall have a (technically) perfect website!
:: David (04:28 in Michigan, 10:28 in Paris) - Comment
Some six months or so ago, I posted a quote from a sports commentator, saying that regardless of how it worked out, the one thing that would never be found in the Kobe Bryant fiasco was the truth. Today his words were proven true - the case has been settled out of court with no admission of guilt, innocence, or anything else.
The use of civil suits to settle criminal matters is disturbing, and common for those with wealth - witness the OJ Simpson trials. Not guilty, or guilty, depending on the court. For murder. These are not little cases being settled - these are terrible, terrible crimes, and someone, the accused or the accuser, is profiting from them (either by getting away with it, or by being given money for false accusations). It's crazy.
:: David (04:06 in Michigan, 10:06 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, March 2 2005 ::
I lied - I made it ever so slightly wrong. But now I've fixed it! I swear I have! And even if I haven't, it's late, and I'm stopping and going to bed!
We had a great evening out - we went to a lecture by an 'independent academic' on representations of the Passion in art. It was really neat, and we got to meet new people. I like Lent!
:: David (17:17 in Michigan, 23:17 in Paris) - Comment
More or less got things working, now - I'll be downloading my own blog for a while on my palm to check each day if the RSS is working correctly, but for the most part that was quite painless.
:: David (17:11 in Michigan, 23:11 in Paris) - Comment
I'm working on changing the program to get RSS working, so if things go awry, please forgive me.
:: David (17:02 in Michigan, 23:02 in Paris) - Comment
Here's something interesting: today marks the end of the Daf Yomi cycle, a ritual whereby people study one page of the Talmud each day for 2,711 days (or 2,711 pages, if you like). Ha'aretz has an article about it, which talks about some of the celebrations that will take place, and more details of the ritual. So if you've been thinking about reading the Talmud, find yourself an English translation (like the one at Sacred Texts), and start with page one, tomorrow.
By the way - if you don't know what the Talmud is, The Wall Street Journal, of all things, is ready to help. In an article about a new facing page translation of the Talmud, they tell us the basics:
I actually like the idea of a 37 volume book - you could get a nice shelf and make quite a display of it. Of course, I suspect I am skirting blasphemy with the suggestion....
The Talmud is a compilation of the Jewish oral law ("Mishna") and its rabbinic commentaries ("Gemara"), running to 37 weighty volumes composed in Hebrew and Aramaic. The most widely studied version, the so-called Babylonian Talmud, is traditionally thought to have reached its current form in sixth-century Iraq. (A different version known as the Jerusalem Talmud was composed somewhat earlier.)
The Talmud is believed to have been composed orally and handed down from teacher to student by memorization. It combines law and religion across a spectrum of subjects, from those we might think of as purely legal (torts and civil law) to the purely religious (observance of the Sabbath, priestly rites). It also encompasses dozens of subjects in between--such as betrothal, marriage and sex--and others that might be thought of as completely outside the realms of law or religion, such as the regulation of agriculture.
:: David (11:48 in Michigan, 17:48 in Paris) - Comment
According to a recent story on AP, a BA jet lost one of its engines shortly after taking off from LA (western United States), but decided to continue the journey to London anyway. It was forced to set down in the UK short of London due to low fuel.
The article noted that some people fear the new EU rules which require reimbursing passengers for delayed/cancelled flights may have caused this flight to occur. A spokesman stated that the planes are certified to fly with three engines. Which to me is a non-answer - parachutes come with backup chutes, but that doesn't mean I'm going to jump when my main chute has a hole in it. The odds are that another engine won't fail, but there's no reason to try the odds - certainly not with several hundred people's lives in the balance.
:: David (06:57 in Michigan, 12:57 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, March 1 2005 ::
About time, too! US Supreme Court bans executions for crimes committed when under the age of 18. There are few things as repugnant as a society that not only doesn't try to reform its adults, it doesn't try to reform its children either. Now if only they could go the extra step, and actually devote some funds to reforming these kids....
:: David (11:33 in Michigan, 17:33 in Paris) - Comment
Some thoughts on hunting from the Seattle Times: in a series of articles the Seattle Times has discussed the decline of hunting in the United States.
It is entirely possible you, dear reader, do not support hunting. Fair enough - it's gotten some bad press, and has certainly had some bad moments. But it's worth thinking about the philosophy which has developed alongside it as well:
Or, to put it in terms which make the hunters sound less high-minded, if all the animals are dead, there won't be any to hunt. Sensible, really.
In the 1800s, from the Lewis and Clark expedition on, animals were taken for commercial profit in the West. As a result, populations of big game and some smaller animals, such as beaver, were devastated. The buffalo simply were gone.
"Even the number of elk had fallen to just 40,000 animals when Theodore Roosevelt came out West to hunt and ranch in 1886," Posewitz said.
But Roosevelt and like-minded conservationists changed the standard. No longer were wild animals hunted commercially for profit. The idea of conservation and sportsmanship developed; a hunter was someone who cared about recovery and restoration.
However, as the articles point out, this concept may have been extended too far with regard to the funding of state animal conservation programs. As hunting has fallen in the past decade (by about 8% across the United States), so too have the funds drawn from hunting licences. This becomes a viscious circle - fewer funds for conservation means fewer animals means fewer hunters means even fewer funds for conservation....
So how long before even the most basic of wild animals - the deer, the rabbit, and the like, are no longer around? If we aren't willing to pay to keep them around, we should be very cautious about discouraging those people who are.
:: David (05:21 in Michigan, 11:21 in Paris) - Comment
:: 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 - View Comments