:: Tuesday, May 31 2005 ::
A friend of mine died yesterday. The people who live next door to my parents had two children, Rick and Patty. Rick was the younger child, and the wilder one. He was older than I, and headed off to the military for a while, while I was in high school and college. He came back and was living in the same general area as his family. We would see each other periodically when he would visit his folks and I would visit mine, and he would regale me with tales of his current situation (which was always replete with crazy stories).
So last night, about one in the morning, the phone rang, and I let the machine get it. When it rang again, I knew it was my mom (she often calls again when she doesn't get me the first time, and calling at weird hours is not out of the question for her). I got up, expecting nothing more than an unpleasant conversation where I told her how much I hate being dragged out of bed when I have work the next day. Instead I got that.
At some point I'm going to have to call them, to tell them I heard the news and offer condolences. Frankly, I don't know how to do that. It's an old, old question, but it remains unanswered: what do you say to someone whose child has died?
:: David (11:04 in Michigan, 17:04 in Paris) - Comment
According to the Guardian yesterday, Jacques Chirac had two options for his next prime prime minister. In regard to one of them, it said:
Dominique de Villepin, the interior minister who shot to prominence as foreign minister during the Iraq war, is a Chirac loyalist. But appointing an aristocrat who has never been elected may send the wrong signal after voters de livered such a thumbs down to the political elite.Which didn't stop him. Today de Villepin was chosen as prime minister of France. As one person I know put it, disdainfully, "he's still Chirac's family". So I expect overall noone will be impressed. Meanwhile the question remains whether the constitution is dead beyond recognition.
:: David (08:12 in Michigan, 14:12 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, May 30 2005 ::
Well, it may just be that I haven't had something this fluffy in a really long time, but I'm just eating up the first book of Lisanne Norman's Sholan series. It's called Turning Point, and while it isn't going to revolutionize your life, if you life fluffy SF where the girl falls in love with the telepathic alien who happens to look like a big cat, this book is for you. I think in the end it's going to take me two days, all in, to read, so it's not like you'll be wasting a big chunk of your life on it. If, on the other hand, you read the rest of the series (of course it's a series) you may be consigning some not small portion of your time here on earth to the dustbin, because the books get fat after the first one. But if they all read as quickly as this one (I'll let you know), you'll find yourself clear at the other end in no time.
:: David (11:20 in Michigan, 17:20 in Paris) - Comment
Slovakia - "a country fast becoming the Detroit of Europe". I'm not sure how I would feel about that, if I were Slovakian.
:: David (07:22 in Michigan, 13:22 in Paris) - Comment
Well, France may have gone for the 'no' vote, but Chatou (where I live) liked the constitution - according to the government, Chatou voted 8,957 (69,42 percent) 'yes' versus 3,945 (30,58 percent) 'no'. Too bad basically the entire rest of the country voted the other way!
:: David (07:20 in Michigan, 13:20 in Paris) - Comment
From the Guardian, comment on the real reason the referendum in France failed:
OK - it's probably not the real reason, but it certainly is one reason. When there's infighting over tax harmonization and Germany is calling its own companies 'Locusts' for moving jobs out of the country, there's a fundamental problem.
The big point about the impasse, then, is that there isn't a big point. The trouble lies in faith and vision and explanation, not in the horrors of lurking sub-clauses. It's a project deficiency. [...]
The European Community, and then its successor union, rose from the ashes of a continent laid waste by repeated war. It sought to close the fault lines for ever, to merge national interests into a single interest of peaceful and prosperous intent. Inevitably, its definition of "Europe" left out the lost lands of the east. This was western Europe, not eastern Europe: this was Bonn and Paris getting their acts together.
But dismantle the Berlin Wall, reunite Germany, bring Poland and Hungary (let alone Romania, Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey) into the ambit of this "ever-closer union", and everything changes. [...]
Here's where anyone following the French debate has found perplexity. It has often seemed as though, two years too late, France was deciding whether to let Poland inside the club. Here's where old ideas, like the wonder of a common currency, have struggled to cope with a multiplicity of new and very different economies. Here's where one size (for Bulgaria and Belgium, say) can't remotely fit all far into the future. Here's why Warsaw's idea of a competitive society simply does not match the German approach next door. Here's why job mobility has become such a brutal, racist vexation in the Netherlands.
:: David (00:57 in Michigan, 06:57 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, May 29 2005 ::
OK - after more than an hour of listening to every talking head in Europe, and elsewhere, talk about the referendum today on the European Constitution, which has been rejected in France by a 55 percent to 45 percent vote, I'm going to bed. If you are reading this entry first, I recommend jumping to the bottom of today and reading in reverse order, to see the evolution as the results came in, defeat (or victory) was declared, and the recrimination got underway.
:: David (17:54 in Michigan, 23:54 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
CNN managed to track down the EU ambassador to the US, an Irish guy whose name I did not catch, to get his views on the no vote. I don't know how they picked him, but I wasn't impressed - better to send John Bolton to the UN. His comments were weird and unhelpful.
:: David (17:51 in Michigan, 23:51 in Paris) - Comment
The president of the European Commission is holding a press conference, saying that Europe is ready to work with France to find a middle ground, but that one country cannot be allowed to dictate the direction of the EU.
After his press conference, the channel (Euronews) cut to the Bastille, to show the gathering crowd celebrating the rejection of the constitution. It was a few hundred the last time it was shown, this time it looked completely packed.
:: David (17:44 in Michigan, 23:44 in Paris) - Comment
So, in Strasbourg, where they actually have one of the two EU capitals (it's tough to explain), the vote was 63-37 in favour. I think that's good, but I'm not sure - 40% of the people in the city where the EU happens don't want it? The rest of the region went hard against the constitution.
According to polls of the people who voted no, the economic and social situation in France led 52% of them to vote no.
:: David (17:23 in Michigan, 23:23 in Paris) - Comment
The debate on the television nearly devolved into a brawl over whether or not the constitution can be renegotiated. I couldn't count how many people tried to sound off at the same time. An interesting graph that came up during this madness showed that the same party that voted 65-35 in favor of the last treaty (the Maastricht treaty, which is how the EU is currently run), this time went 65-35 against the new constitution.
:: David (17:16 in Michigan, 23:16 in Paris) - Comment
The 'partisons du non' (well, some hundreds or so) are having a party at the Bastille! I love it!
:: David (17:01 in Michigan, 23:01 in Paris) - Comment
The head of the socialist party just gave an amazing speech, blaming the result on a president who ignored the voice of the people in the last elections. He also talked about unemployment and the loss of purchasing power (a big topic here in France). He called for the left to come together (the vote split them down the middle - he himself had called for a 'yes' vote) to smack down the political right who had caused this mess.
:: David (16:57 in Michigan, 22:57 in Paris) - Comment
The head of the extreme right party, Le Pen (who is quite fun to listen to speak, by the way), just called for the president's resignation. I mean, coming from him, it isn't anything, but in these circumstances, maybe others (more respectable) will take up the call...
:: David (16:47 in Michigan, 22:47 in Paris) - Comment
One of the commentators just said that because the vote was clear, Mr. Sarkozy had quickly 'changed his merchandise', whereas the president had 'insulted the French people' by his comments this evening. One moved forward, the other looked backward.
:: David (16:46 in Michigan, 22:46 in Paris) - Comment
Nicolas Sarkozy is on TV now, telling us that France has rejected the constitution, calling for a Europe more engaged with its people, more socially conscious. He sounds as if he were against it from the beginning, but my understanding was that he came out (reluctantly) for the constitution.
:: David (16:39 in Michigan, 22:39 in Paris) - Comment
The president just came on TV to say France has rejected the constitution. He has said the interests of France lie in Europe, and the EU will continue to operate under the old treaties. However, he says it will make France's position in Europe difficult.
:: David (16:32 in Michigan, 22:32 in Paris) - Comment
Well, the current numbers say 55-56% no to the new constitution (depending on the channel you watch). They're running through the votes by party, interviewing people in all the war rooms, and in general dissecting the results as they come in.
:: David (16:28 in Michigan, 22:28 in Paris) - Comment
Well, it's 9:30 in the evening here, and the national channels have started their live broadcasts - despite the fact there's nothing to say. But they're showing each of the big politicos casting their vote, and talking about turnout and the like. We're going to wait until there's something to be said before we go back to the television.
:: David (15:36 in Michigan, 21:36 in Paris) - Comment
According to Le Monde, voting in the referendum on the new EU constitution stood at 66 percent by seven this evening. Given that the polls close at ten, this could be some very high turnout. Whether it will pass or not is another matter.
:: David (15:27 in Michigan, 21:27 in Paris) - Comment
According to Le Monde, at the halfway point about 25% of voters have shown up to vote. This implies over 10 million of an estimated 42 million eligible voters have already gone in, with plenty of time left until the polls close. This is apparently a higher turnout than that of the treaty which has governed the EU up till now, but given the publicity surrounding this vote, one would hope turnout was fairly high....
:: David (13:06 in Michigan, 19:06 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, May 28 2005 ::
Would anybody really be surprised if Viagra causes blindness? I mean, isn't it appropriate? You've always been told you'd go blind if you did that, and now here's the proof....
:: David (05:49 in Michigan, 11:49 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, May 27 2005 ::
I put the photos from Roland Garros (the French Open) up, and Sasha kept the text of an email she sent describing her two days of tennis, and we mixed them together and Voila! Web Page!.
:: David (18:06 in Michigan, 00:06 in Paris) - Comment
So did you know there are people who stick their hand in front of catfish and wiggle their fingers until the fish bites them? Me neither. Read all about them in, of all places, the economist.
:: David (15:48 in Michigan, 21:48 in Paris) - Comment
I've been looking around for an interesting story I ran across today, talking about Swedish unemployment. According to the official sources, the unemployment rate in Sweden is 5.5 percent. Not bad. But, according to a report published recently, it is much higher than that - closer to 20 percent! It is also alleged that the report was suppressed, and the person who wrote it had to resign his post and put it on the internet in order to make it known. According to Liberation (French), as well as my own Swedish sources (no kidding!), the union is close to the government and thus didn't want to stir the pot.
The numbers include a variety of things, including all the people on disability (because the disability benefit is higher than unemployment), as well as everyone who takes early retirement because they can't get a job.
:: David (15:26 in Michigan, 21:26 in Paris) - Comment
In an article in the IHT, one of the big pieces of gossip here in France is explained for anEnglish-speaking audience:
As the article notes, it is unusual for the French press to invade politicians private lives. However, according to another source his run-down appearance when he spoke on TV (which contrasted with his usual high-energy) prompted a series of questions which led to the revelation.
[Nicolas] Sarkozy, a rival of President Jacques Chirac who is seen as a top contender to succeed him in 2007, spoke on prime-time television shortly before Chirac addressed the country to campaign for a yes vote in the national referendum Sunday on the EU constitution.
Sarkozy was asked on France-3 television to respond to persistent rumors that he and wife, Cecilia, who is also his chief of staff, had broken up.
"The truth is very simple," he said. "Like millions of families, mine has experienced some difficulties. We are in the process of overcoming them. Do I need to say more? I don't think so."
The family has been the subject of much media coverage for theircloseness, and their working relationship, and have, according tothe article, been "likened in the news media to the Kennedys and the Clintons." Which apparently is good, though I don't know how much Iwould want to be compared to a couple where one member philanders. Iguess turnabout is fair play this time around.
:: David (14:54 in Michigan, 20:54 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, May 26 2005 ::
There's a reason I keep a web page. Someone who's living in the apartment building I used to live in just dropped a note to let me know how my old stomping grounds in Saga Ken, Japan are doing. Really, really cool! It's exciting to hear about all the changes (and all the things that stay the same...). Combine this with the recent addition of a Japanese speaker at work, and perhaps fate is telling me I should head back for a while...?
:: David (17:45 in Michigan, 23:45 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
By the way - did you all notice the New York Times published another article about Koran abuse? This time they used information the American Civil Liberties Union managed to get freed from the government, under the Freedom of Information Act. I really, truly appreciate the ACLU. Even when I dislike what they're doing, I'm glad they're around. Now let's wait and see if the government tries to get them to retract it.
:: David (12:39 in Michigan, 18:39 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
An article on the BBC website caught my attention today. It talks about how a football owner has offered to give 10% of proceeds from his team's stadium receipts to help the endangered Iberian Lynx. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the article notes the owner of the team made his fortune in cork.
Why not surprisingly? Because campaigners for protection of the Lynx often point out that one way to protect it is to protect its habitat. Which is: cork forests! Thus they often run 'buy cork' campaigns, as this article (also on the BBC) describes.
:: David (12:33 in Michigan, 18:33 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, May 25 2005 ::
Wow! What a day! We saw lots and lots of famous tennis players, including, as a special treat, Martina Navratilova. Woo hoo! Pictures to come.... Lots of them....
:: David (16:11 in Michigan, 22:11 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Tuesday, May 24 2005 ::
We're off to Rolan Garros tomorrow. We get to see Roger Federer play, assuming all comes out OK.
:: David (17:37 in Michigan, 23:37 in Paris) - Comment
That was exciting - a little hiccup erased part of the blog for a few minutes. Seems to be back now.
:: David (17:33 in Michigan, 23:33 in Paris) - Comment
Random stats for the day - in the month of April I sent an average of 108,859,798 bytes per day to people, in the form of pictures and text. That's 3,265,793,929 bytes for the month as a whole. I averaged 5,496 files sent per day, and in the month sent a total of 164,874. Very exciting. Even if most of the bandwidth was devoted to random bloggers.
:: David (17:31 in Michigan, 23:31 in Paris) - Comment
I can't really do anything but quote the BBC story of the incident: "Two Star Wars fans are in a critical condition in hospital after apparently trying to make light sabres by filling fluorescent light tubes with petrol."
:: David (11:42 in Michigan, 17:42 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, May 23 2005 ::
Sasha and Jason apparently saw lots of good tennis - Jason has several (hundred) shots from the tournament. I'm quite looking forward to Wednesday. Now if I can only survive a Tuesday full of blah-blah-blah. A meeting of all the folks who hold my position in my organization is taking place tomorrow, which could lead to some serious boredom.
:: David (17:49 in Michigan, 23:49 in Paris) - Comment
The vote on the constitution takes place this sunday, and the media is all over it. The polls indicate a no, but not by much, and I think people are going to break towards a yes vote. A new issue over the ability of public transport workers to strike is currently the hot-button topic of the vote (a new one seems to pop up once every two or three days), but for the most part things are continuing as they have been, with magazines and newspapers devoting considerable space to the issue.
:: David (05:30 in Michigan, 11:30 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, May 22 2005 ::
Safely back from Normandy, and the photos are up. Unlike the photos, my thoughts on the visit have not yet been put in order - there was a lot, not only because we were moving at a mile a minute, but because some of the places we visited were simply full of information. It was an excellent trip, and I'm glad I did it, but I'll have to chew on it for a while.
:: David (17:41 in Michigan, 23:41 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, May 20 2005 ::
The American embassy called me today, regarding my recent request to renew my passport. They informed me that I had printed my renewal request form on both sides of the piece of paper. I said that was correct. They said their scanner wouldn't work with a form printed on both sides of a piece of paper. I laughed at them. I continued laughing after I hung up the phone. I may still be chuckling. That's what the US government gets with all their money - scanners that fritz out on double-sided documents. So I'll be sending another copy of my request before we leave for Normandy tomorrow morning. Good thing I kept a copy of my passport, so I could fill out the form!
:: David (17:15 in Michigan, 23:15 in Paris) - Comment
Also from the New York Times, a review of the new Star Wars which points out how art follows life, and vice versa:
"Revenge of the Sith" is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." Obi-Wan's response is likely to surface as a bumper sticker during the next election campaign: "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes." You may applaud this editorializing, or you may find it overwrought, but give Mr. Lucas his due. For decades he has been blamed (unjustly) for helping to lead American movies away from their early-70's engagement with political matters, and he deserves credit for trying to bring them back.If you're not with us, you're against us. And we know what happens to people who are against us (or suspected of being against us, or in the wrong place at the wrong time...).
:: David (12:32 in Michigan, 18:32 in Paris) - Comment
Jason and I recently had what I can only call a debate over concepts of security in the face of terrorism. He pointed out that if additional police checks made us safer, then we should be happy to accede to them. I responded with two points. The first is that, in a freer society, people have more ways to express their frustrations with political entities. Thus, fewer of them are likely to do something as radical as an attack. By the same token, no amount of government control will ever stop all attacks, and in fact by catching innocent people in ever more draconian security sweeps, you create more people willing (or feeling forced) to take radical action. If both solutions lead to a reduction in violence, then I would choose the society that has fewer, rather than more, controls and restrictions.
The second point, and one which is demonstrated quite clearly today in the New York Times, is that by giving the government more and more power, you increase the number of actions it will take which, if perpretrated by a non-governmental agent, would be considered terrorism in their own right. Grabbing innocent people off the street and torturing them until they die is what terrorists do. It's also what the US did in Afghanistan, in several well documented cases in today's NYT. At what point does giving more power to the government make us less safe, rather than more?
It has been argued that secrecy is necessary to prevent suspected terrorists from being tipped off that the government is pursuing them. However, secrecy also allows crazy young soldiers to kill with impunity. Consider this question - if three people are arrested and tortured, and one of them dies, have we gained or lost if it prevents a bomb attack that kills one? To my mind that is a net loss. And that is how I think the calculus of the so-called 'war on terror' is playing out. We are killing, maiming, and torturing more people than would have been killed, maimed, and tortured had we done nothing at all.
:: David (04:18 in Michigan, 10:18 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Watch the health sciences go! In the last 24 hours we've had tailored stem cells which could lead to a host of new medical treatments, and cloned human embryos. Now the question is, what sort of ethical guidelines will be followed, and who will draw them up?
:: David (04:04 in Michigan, 10:04 in Paris) - Comment
It's all about the greedy landlords: apparently the London Eye has been hit with a rent increase of 1500 percent, which would push the rent to one million pounds, and could lead to its closure. Ouch. For those that don't know, the London Eye is a giant ferris wheel (sort of) that sits on the river Thames in London. It can be seen from miles off, and has become, since its inception a few years back, another landmark in the city.
:: David (02:03 in Michigan, 08:03 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, May 19 2005 ::
I just stuck my passport in an envelope, and stuck the envelope in a mailbox, to go to the American consulate here in Paris, to be replaced with a shiny new one. Ten years since I got my passport. Four years since I had more pages added. Dozens of countries visited. And now I'm here with no proof at all that I'm American (other than my horrible accent). Hopefully all will go smoothly, and I'll have my spiffy new passport, good through 2015, with which to return to the US.
:: David (12:25 in Michigan, 18:25 in Paris) - Comment
According to the FT today, a long-delayed report indicates Italy's economy may not be in tip-top shape. More interesting, for me, are the comments on why the report was delayed. It's always interesting when you try to get lots of people to agree to say something unpleasant. It's even more interesting when you try to get them to say something critical about themselves....
:: David (07:40 in Michigan, 13:40 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, May 18 2005 ::
Well, Palm appears to have done it again. They released a new device, the LifeDrive. It has a big hard drive, a big screen, etc. What it doesn't have, as always, is a big battery, nor, apparently, an option for an external battery pack. Why are they so incompetent? At least this time they managed to get wi-fi in there (not that you'll be able to use it for very long, if you can't plug the device in).
Kimberly and Sean had a MS windows device, which had the option of attaching a massive external battery, and ran for something crazy like ten days of heavy use. I just don't understand why these companies can't understand how people are using their product.
:: David (04:23 in Michigan, 10:23 in Paris) - Comment
An interesting development in Canada today - a star conservative has switched to the liberal party just before a vote of no confidence. Her stated reasons include the conservative party's opposition to same sex marriage and its alignment with Quebec separatists. The BBC has an article on the switch, which explains the current happenings in Canadian politics. Given that Canada is seeming more and more like the sensible member of the North American family, the idea that the conservatives might take power had concerned many people. Now that seems somewhat less likely. Now if only the Liberals can clean up their act.
:: David (03:59 in Michigan, 09:59 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, May 17 2005 ::
Well, we escaped for a couple of days to Strasbourg, in the East of France, visiting a friend of Jason's who worked in Egypt. It was quite a nice weekend, with lots of pretty churches and timber-framed buildings. We didn't tourist very hard, but we did have a good time. Then yesterday, Monday, was a holiday (pentecost), sort of, and Sasha had some friends in town, so we all five got together and wandered the city. It was rainy, off and on, so we had to do a lot of wandering in and out of covered areas, but overall it was good. I finally managed to see the amazing stained-glass cupola of Gallerie LaFayette (here's someone who took pictures), and it was overall a good day. Now back to work for me!
:: David (03:59 in Michigan, 09:59 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, May 13 2005 ::
On the subject of books, I haven't read much this week, but I've started a book by Marion Zimmer Bradley called Traitor's Son. It's the standard Sci-Fi meets technology story, with politics and intrigue for good measure. fun, so far as it goes. I think I'm reading the book out of order (it's part of a series called Darkover), but it's been easy enough to pick up.
:: David (17:40 in Michigan, 23:40 in Paris) - Comment
We're off to Strasbourg in the morning, for a weekend in the Alcase region of France. Sweet wines and old buildings await us, along with a French friend of Jason's who lived in Egypt. Of course, we haven't been able to get in touch with him yet, but we're fairly certain we're staying with him....
:: David (17:28 in Michigan, 23:28 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, May 12 2005 ::
You know, I always forgot I did this while I was living in Japan - it just got to be so natural. But reading this New York Times article on garbage sorting in Japan, I remember all the weird moments of trying to decide what to burn, what to burn (at a higher temperature), and just how big an item I could stuff in the tiny plastic bag so I didn't have to pay for the oversized item sticker. And don't talk to me about the people who checked to see if your garbage was sorted properly....
:: David (11:29 in Michigan, 17:29 in Paris) - Comment
Jason arrived safely in Paris yesterday, after an exciting plane delay brought on by an air traffic controller protest in Cairo. But he arrived, and hung out with Sasha in Chatou yesterday. Today, as I understand it, he's off to play tourist in Paris, and I'll be doing the same after work...
:: David (04:14 in Michigan, 10:14 in Paris) - Comment
One of those random things you may remember learning when you were young - bees who find a stash of flowers go back to the nest and, upon their return, do a dance for the other bees. In the 60's it was proposed that this was to tell the other bees where the flowers were, but scientists weren't so sure. Now, radar has confirmed the theory, showing that direction and distance are indicated by the dance. Follow the link to see an image of a bee carrying a tracking device....
:: David (04:11 in Michigan, 10:11 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, May 11 2005 ::
An amusing paper today, or at least an amusing abstract. Nabanita Datta Gupta, Nina Smith, and Leslie S. Stratton have written a paper titled "Is Marriage Poisonous? Are Relationships Taxing? An Analysis of the Male Marital Wage Differential in Denmark". Their abstract opens as follows:
The word for 'married' in Danish is the same as the word for 'poison'. The word for 'sweetheart' in Danish is the same as the word for 'tax'. In this paper we expand upon the literature documenting a significant marital wage premium for men in the United States to see if a similar differential exists for married men in Denmark - or if the homonyms have perhaps less of a double meaning.A 'marital wage premium for men' refers to the idea that two identical men would be paid differently based on their marital status. But regardless of all that, the abstract kind of makes me want to learn Danish....
:: David (11:25 in Michigan, 17:25 in Paris) - Comment
A quick rundown of what I'm following, News-wise:
Iraq seems to be falling apart, with another day of bombings. It's amazing to me that people can act as if this is going anywherenear well, given how extensive the attacks have been. It feels (I imagine) very tet-offensive-ish.
United Airlines has been given permission by the courts to default on its pension obligations. This means that the insurer (the government) will pick up the tab, and cut benefits as they see fit. It has been expected for some time that this might occur, and many observers think that this will have a cascade effect, as other heavily indebted companies file bankruptcy to escape their obligations. If the government were to pay full benefits, it would still not be ok, but it would be better. But given that these companies can escape from their agreements, and the retirees end up worse off in the bargain, it seems unethical beyond belief. Am I proposing these companies should be sold off to cover their debts? Maybe....
Ebay crashed for a while. Microsoft introduced a new operating system for phones and handheld devices (PDAs).
National ID cards are to be introduced in the United States, through a back-door plan tacked on to a bill funding the war in Iraq.
This is insane, and as I expressed to someone yesterday, anything that can be made, can be faked. The more we tell people to trust a single card as proof of identity, the easier it will be to become someone else.
Under the law, to get a new or renewed license would require a document showing a person's name and date of birth, such as a birth certificate; a document verifying a person's legal presence in the United States; a photo ID; proof of a valid Social Security number and evidence that the applicant actually resides at a certain address, a utility bill for instance.
That would mean more identification will be required for a driver's license than is needed for a U.S. passport that currently requires a photo ID like a drivers license and proof of citizenship, typically a birth certificate.
:: David (04:59 in Michigan, 10:59 in Paris) - Comment
We rented a car yesterday, the first time I've driven in France. It went quite well, all things being equal - for the most part my manual transmission skills didn't fail me, and the drive was, for the most part, highway. We only got lost once, at the end of the trip, which was sad, because we were really close to where we wanted to go, but just couldn't find it at all. But we survived. I'm now waiting for 9 o'clock so I can give the keys to the car people. I parked the car at the rental place last night, but I'm not sure I parked completely legally, so I'm a little anxious to get over there and hand the problem off to someone else. I managed to get home before midnight, which was nice.
:: David (01:47 in Michigan, 07:47 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, May 9 2005 ::
Well, Sunday was an odd day - we wandered around Paris, I saw the president (Chirac, not Bush), and then I spent the latter half of the day in a hotel room watching children play with knights. Overall, my four-day weekend earned very mixed reviews from me. I did, however, see a number of places I had not been before - which I do enjoy - there are so many places in Paris I've not been, or not seen properly, and as my time here is winding down I feel I really ought to see them. Perhaps we'll do some of the more random bits of Paris with Jason (who arrives Wednesday).
:: David (07:26 in Michigan, 13:26 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Saturday, May 7 2005 ::
We went to the 'Restaurant de la Maison Fournaise' on the Ile des Impressionnistes near Chatou this evening. We had planned on going at some point since we moved here, given that it is so close to our house, and really is quite a historic place: it was on this island, between 1880 and 1881, that Renoir painted his 'Luncheon of the Boating Party'. The house was a well known landmark of the late 1800s. According to the phillips collection,
Parisians would flock to Chatou's Maison Fournaise to rent rowing skiffs, eat a good meal, or stay the night. In 1857, the entrepreneur Alphonse Fournaise bought land in Chatou to open a boat rental, restaurant, and small hotel for the new tourist trade. From the mid 1870s, Renoir often visited the Maison Fournaise to enjoy its convivial atmosphere and rural beauty. He painted scenes of the restaurant, as well as several portraits of Fournaise family members and landscapes of the surrounding area. In fact, Renoir occasionally traded paintings with the Fournaise family for food and lodging.So it was necessary that we go. What we didn't expect, but what we did get, was good food at a reasonable price, with excellent service. The menu is available online, if you want to see what we had to choose from. It was a good night out, and the walk home from the island, over the Seine, and through Chatou was a great way to finish things out. Now we're trying to figure out how many more times we can eat there before we leave Chatou....
:: David (17:22 in Michigan, 23:22 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
We just read a fascinating story about a duel that took place in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which is a city close to where we live. It happened on July 10, 1547, when Guy Chabot, the Baron de Jarnac, had to defend his honor in front of the king (Henri II). People were expecting a long, drawn out battle, with him losing in the end, and instead he won, quite decisively. The stroke which won the duel for him (as well as the duel itself) came to be called the 'coup de jarmac', and you can read a fairly detailed description here, with some lovely 19th century descriptions of the moving speeches each of the contestants made (none of which, more than likely, ever occurred).
:: David (04:13 in Michigan, 10:13 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, May 4 2005 ::
There we are. A little episode three hype for you, here's Darth VADOR, coming to a train station near you.
:: David (17:20 in Michigan, 23:20 in Paris) - Comment
So much to do, so little time to do it. I've collected several million pictures since the last time I had access to my computer, and while I'd love to put them all online, there are too many other things going on simultaneously. Sasha's family starts arriving tomorrow at 7am, and the whole clan will be here by evening, I believe. It is, I am pleased to say, a four day weekend, but I don't know how much 'weekend' there will be in it. Ah, well - anything so I don't have to look at any more Ontario tax forms - I had to figure out how tax credits in Ontario work today, and so I had the brilliant thought of going to the tax form. Yikes!
Hopefully, I'll have time for a few of the things I'd like to get done. I think I'm going to do the first one now. I'll post about it if I get it finished.
:: David (16:51 in Michigan, 22:51 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, May 3 2005 ::
Haven't you always wanted to see all the stories from the bible done using legos? Well now you can. And if you like them enough, you can even buy the books!
:: David (16:27 in Michigan, 22:27 in Paris) - Comment
Another series down over the weekend. I read three of the books in the Forgotten Realms series, called Dark Elf Trilogy. I read them because in some way they are supposed to be related to the game Sean brought, though I must confess I didn't see the connexion. It was your basic swords and sorcery fare. Now I've moved on to some other fluffy goodness, which I shall post when I've read more of them.
:: David (12:17 in Michigan, 18:17 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
The US report into the Italian hostage fiasco was supposed to be classified.But due to a silly human error, the blacked-out portions of the report remainedin the document, easily decoded by a simple cut-and-paste. The BBC has afull report.
:: David (05:55 in Michigan, 11:55 in Paris) - Comment
Kimberly and Sean are off today - they've been with us since April 15th. Now we have a day off, and on Thursday Sasha's mom, brother, his wife, and their two children will arrive. Needless to say, there are too many of them to stay with us, so we'll have a week to pull the place together before Jason arrives on the 11th (which also happens to be the day Sasha's mom leaves. In point of fact, they may cross at the airport!)
:: David (04:03 in Michigan, 10:03 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Monday, May 2 2005 ::
Sasha used to live in the North part of Ann Arbor, and walking downtown from her house we would always pass this bizarre house/construction zone. It was being made to look like an Italian villa, complete with artificial aging. It was bizarre. It was weird. It didn't fit with the neighbourhood. And now you can own it, for the low, low price of more than one million dollars.
:: David (12:07 in Michigan, 18:07 in Paris) - Comment
It's been quite a while since I posted!
This is due to a number of things. First and foremost, most evenings I don't have access to my computer. Thus, although I keep sending myself interesting things to write about (like an interesting article on the sex trade in Thailand, or the scandal in the UK over the Iraq war), I never actually manage to post them.
The other factor in posting frequency is that I am busy busy busy. This weekend we managed to fit in a trip to Douai, in the north of France, as well as a visit to see the cirque du soleil, which I highly, highly recommend - they have a permanent show in Florida and Las Vegas in the US, as well as travelling shows elsewhere. Without a doubt the most amazing things I have ever seen. It was intended as a late birthday present for Sean, and I would say was quite successful in that regard, as he quite literally danced when he realized where we were taking him.
So now a new week begins - it's a holiday week, so I only work three days, and then have four days off. Sasha's family will arrive on Thursday, but they won't be staying with us, so hopefully the house can be put back in order (at least until the 11th, when Jason will arrive from Egypt).
:: David (04:46 in Michigan, 10:46 in Paris) - Comment