:: Sunday, August 28 2005 ::
The electricity guy will arrive tomorrow and probably turn off the stuff in the house, which means this entry, or one shortly after it, will be my last entry from Paris. Weird. It's been a good ride. We'll see what fate brings. Peace.
:: David (17:15 in Michigan, 23:15 in Paris) - Comment
I've started a series of books by a guy named Jonathan Stroud called the Bartimaeus books. The first one, The Amulet Of Samarkand, was a pretty good book - think Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter, jumbled together. Seriously fluffy. I'm starting the second one this evening, and we'll see if the quality fluff quotient continues.
:: David (17:12 in Michigan, 23:12 in Paris) - Comment
I met my first crazy French person today. I was standing outside, waiting for one of the people we were giving our stuff away to to arrive, and this woman comes up to me and tells me (I think) that I'm leaning up against the hair salon (which I was) and that she had gotten her hair cut. She proceeded then to tell me all about most of her extended family, have me feel how heavy her silver cross was, show me her poems and her drawings, and in general talk up a blue streak. The woman for whom I had been waiting arrived, and also got to hear a certain amount of this, before we retreated back into the apartment building. It was actually a lot of fun - I enjoy talking to people who don't care that I don't understand everything they're saying. There was a guy at work who did the same thing, except I'm fairly certain he wasn't crazy. Fairly certain.
:: David (12:38 in Michigan, 18:38 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, August 27 2005 ::
Imagine, if you will, four inept people. Two of them have a washing machine they want to give away. Two of them have an apartment without (one presumes) a washing machine, and wish to claim the washing machine on offer. The two offering said machine do not realize that the machine holds a certain amount of tasty washing machine water. The two picking up apparently believe all washing machines come with an anti-gravity unit built in. Hilarity ensues.
So they got about five stairs down before the washing machine disgorged its contents on our unsuspecting staircase (and unsuspecting washing machine claimers). She had arrived wearing flipflops, and apparently felt that even that amount of foot protection was simply too much, as she carried the machine down the stairs barefoot. The two of them - roommates? lovers? didn't speak the same language, and didn't have a solid command of the one they communicated in. So things like 'stop! stop!' didn't go across quite as quickly as one usually hopes when one says 'stop! stop!'
But it's gone now. And our apartment is that much emptier.
:: David (11:55 in Michigan, 17:55 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, August 26 2005 ::
Last day at work today. It's always odd, saying goodbye to people you work with. I made it most of the day without getting too choked up, but there were moments - you can feel the changes seeping into you - the world shifts, and you went in a different direction, and all that was you becomes someone else. But now it's done - the last email sent, the last file edited, the computer shut down and the lights turned out. And we continue - tomorrow people will arrive to take all the stuff we aren't taking with us away. Sunday we clean like mad fiends, ditto Monday, and Tuesday we are reduced to homeless nomads. Wednesday we fly home.
I closed my bank account today as well, more or less - it is still open, but only if I write a check - I have no ATM card and I have no credit card anymore.
On the upside, it looks like for a little while I get to do some contract work - some changes that don't really fit in the time frame very well, given that the staff at work has been reduced by one. But I was ready, willing, and able, so for the next few months I'll be putting in some part time work, getting everything around to do that. I may do a little tax dodging as well - set up a home office and deduct it from my taxes. Of course, I don't think I'll owe taxes, so maybe I should wait until next year....
:: David (14:51 in Michigan, 20:51 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Thursday, August 25 2005 ::
There's a wonderful opinion piece in today's Guardian, which talks about the hubris of empire, and the mighty before the fall:
It's an interesting article, not only because of the parallels it draws, which are perhaps more apt, but less often cited than Vietnam, but also because of how it draws our attention to the elements we tend to ignore - the fact that one of the 'rising economic powers' in 1905 became the next 'Titan'. Is China or India on the way to the top? And what about the article's little side note: "If you are, by any chance, of that persuasion that [America's fall would be] a cause for rejoicing, pause for a moment to consider two things: first, that major shifts of power between rising and falling great powers have usually been accompanied by major wars; and second, that the next top dog could be a lot worse."
If you want to know what London was like in 1905, come to Washington in 2005. Imperial gravitas and massive self-importance. That sense of being the centre of the world, and of needing to know what happens in every corner of the world because you might be called on - or at least feel called upon - to intervene there. Hyperpower. Top dog. And yet, gnawing away beneath the surface, the nagging fear that your global supremacy is not half so secure as you would wish. As Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary, put it in 1902: "The weary Titan staggers under the too vast orb of his fate."
The United States is now that weary Titan. In the British case, the angst was a result of the unexpectedly protracted, bloody and costly Boer war, in which a small group of foreign insurgents defied the mightiest military the world had seen; concern about the rising economic power of Germany and the United States; and a combination of imperial overstretch with socio-economic problems at home. In the American case, it's a result of the unexpectedly protracted, bloody and costly Iraq war, in which a small group of foreign insurgents defies the mightiest military the world has seen; concern about the rising economic power of China and India; and a combination of imperial overstretch with socio-economic problems at home.
:: David (04:28 in Michigan, 10:28 in Paris) - Comment
This morning marked the first real day of rentree (according to me). This morning the folks from Metro were waiting at the top of the metro stairs to give me my first free newspaper of the new year.
I thought I had done a big entry on that most French of phenomenons, the rentree (re-entry), two years ago, when we first got here. We certainly noticed it at that time. Basically, because absolutely everyone goes on holiday either in July or August, it's as if, in France, everyone keeps their summer break even after they leave school. So instead of having the 'back-to-school' kind of sales and publicity and somesuch that we get in the states, focused on the idea of young people going back to school, and thus needing new books, bags, pencils, and clothes, the advertising here talks about everyone needing back-to-whatever stuff. And, just like school, it's as if businesses and politics re-start in September. Projects laid aside before the holidays return to the light, political questions which slept for a bit come back, literally everything that was on hold starts up again.
So now, in the metro, the ads talk about the new season, and everywhere messages like 'welcome back'. In the office, the question is 'where did you go, and what did you do', and hours, if not days, are lost as everyone tells their holiday story to all comers, refining as they go along. It's a wonderful time of year.
:: David (03:59 in Michigan, 09:59 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, August 24 2005 ::
Isn't it ironic that someone who researches a subject like archival of photographs should be so inept when it comes to their web page? However, if you can overlook the fact that their webmaster is apparently insane, wilhelm research might be of interest, if you've ever wondered how long the box of photos you printed from your computer are likely to last. These folks have apparently developed a standard for testing the lifespan of photo papers and inks. Of course, if you're like me and never print anything, their research might not be very useful....
:: David (11:25 in Michigan, 17:25 in Paris) - Comment
You may remember that Lenovo, a chinese computer maker, recently purchased all of IBM's personal computer operations, in one fell swoop becoming a major player in the PC industry. Well, it seems that they have outgrown their corporate offices (or they just want to move due to the crazy restrictions the US government put on them to prevent espionage), and are considering leaving North Carolina. Or so they are indicating. And to prevent the move, they are asking for some serious concessions. One of my personal favourites is being reported as 'requiring Chinese to be taught in the schools', although I don't think it's quite that dire. The Register has the best opening paragraph:
Chinese PC maker Lenovo wants to empty the pocketbooks of North Carolina taxpayers and pump their minds full of Asian culture, if the state hopes to keep the company's business.
It does appear that the move would cost the state quite a lot of money. Of course, this is what the states get when they start competing for business. Maybe next they can start weakening some environmental laws - what's a little heavy metal in the water, when compared to 400 new jobs?
:: David (05:46 in Michigan, 11:46 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, August 22 2005 ::
Sad stuff today - the BBC is reporting that "Synthesiser pioneer Dr Robert Moog has died at his North Carolina home". Dr Moog was best known for the synthesiser bearing his name, which featured a who's who list of fans, such as the Dead, the Doors, Brian Wilson and company, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, etc. While you may not always appreciate what was done with his instrument, he had a hand in shaping an entire generation of musicians.
:: David (16:30 in Michigan, 22:30 in Paris) - Comment
A little tale of 'why I'm not completely broken up about leaving' (or: 'how culture shock made me angry'): we subscribe to a cable service, NOOS by name. In France, it is customary (in fact, required) to send a registered letter to someone in order to end your contract with them. This costs roughly five euros a whack, and we had to cancel the cable, the phone, the newspaper, our apartment, etc. etc. Now, as we are moving out in about a week, it became obvious that we needed to contact the cable company and tell them to come get their boxes, 'cause we're leaving, and we're not taking them with us. So I call them. Joy number two of the French system - you pay (a lot) to call customer service. They put me on hold. They put me on hold for so long my phone ran out of money (ten euros). So I charged it up again, and called again. Got someone. I said 'hey - we're leavin'! Come get your stuff!' She asked me where I had sent the letter. She said 'that's the wrong address - you'll have to send another one to the correct address.' We had sent it to NOOS. they had signed for it. But it wasn't the right office. So it didn't count. So, all told, we spent eighteen euros (I kid you not - the second call was eight) to call customer service, plus ten if we send another registered letter. And we get to take the boxes to their office - they don't pick them up.
Of course, when I went to sign up for my gas and electric in the states, they wanted to run a background... excuse me... credit check on me, and if I didn't let them they wouldn't give me gas or electric without a deposit, so you tell me which system is better.
:: David (14:14 in Michigan, 20:14 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, August 21 2005 ::
OK - I have a second phone number, this one through the internet, which means it is active today, and you can call it now. It will send you to a generic 'please leave a message' voicemail, because I don't have a microphone and can't record a new message. But if you leave me a message, I'll be able to hear it. The number is (734) 418-8757. As I said, you can only leave messages at the moment - it's a skype number, and I have it for one year, to see what I think about all this newfangled technology. Hopefully new numbers will follow for those in other countries.
:: David (17:03 in Michigan, 23:03 in Paris) - Comment
Quite a busy weekend we had. Went out to dinner with some friends Friday night, staying out until late. Next morning we headed to the car rental agency, to pick up the car we had rented to see Vaux-le-Vicomte with some friends. Sadly they had a computer emergency and couldn't make it, so we were on our own. We headed down to Orleans to see some churches, and then back up to see the evening show at Vaux. Every friday and saturday night they open in the evening and light the place with candles. It's quite lovely, really, and the photographer who lives inside really wouldn't let me skip it. We got back to the apartment around 1:30am, after getting lost in the final stretch, and then had to get up at 8am this morning to take the car back to the rental place. We wandered around town for a bit, Reporters Without Borders has a photo exhibit up at the Luxembourg gardens that we took a look at, and then came back and took a nice long nap. Good way to spend a weekend, I think. This evening I have to do some paperwork, and then all will be well for us to leave.
:: David (11:44 in Michigan, 17:44 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, August 19 2005 ::
Google maps has added a high res satellite image of our apartment in Chatou! Previously evereything west of the river was undefined, but they have now added data for our area (you can see where the two images meet, because the train tracks don't quite line up). In addition, here's our apartment in relation to the eiffel tower and arc de triomphe. Fun fun fun!
:: David (08:20 in Michigan, 14:20 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
While driving in Denmark we passed one of those signs that show you how fast you are driving. Underneath, in giant letters, was written "FART KONTROL", which as it turns out means, more or less, watch your speed. We were amused. Then I read this story in the register, and suddenly our run in with signs that don't translate well seemed pretty tame.
:: David (01:55 in Michigan, 07:55 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Random thing I'll miss about this apartment - because we're on the top floor, the vent in the bathroom is actually just a hole in the ceiling, leading up to a chimney which is covered by a metal hood (to prevent rain, snow, and other things that might fall from the sky (frogs, for example) from coming into the bathroom from above). When in rains, the raindrops hit the metal hood, and, for the duration of the storm, I have my very own steel drum band. Admittedly, they're not always very rhythmic, but there's something very soothing about the sound.
:: David (01:24 in Michigan, 07:24 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, August 18 2005 ::
So over the weekend La Marche de l'Empereur, which my English speaking readers might know as March of the Penguins, became the second highest grossing French film in the US, overtaking Amelie, but still behind The Fifth Element. I didn't realize the story had been changed, but the BBC reports that:
...which was actually one of the concerns we had with the French version - fear that the voice-overs would be too syrupy, or goofy, or whatever. Nevertheless, the idea that the film was completely changed for the US market is disturbing.
In the French version of the film - which was shot by a four-man crew over 14 months - actors' voices speak for the penguins.
But it was felt by distributors that the style would not appeal to English-speaking audiences, and in the US version the voices have been replaced by a narration by actor Morgan Freeman.
:: David (08:12 in Michigan, 14:12 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Wednesday, August 17 2005 ::
A little equal time here, given my well-documented sympathy for the Palestinians, a fairly hard-core opinion piece which talks about
the media circus and those bad settlers, using lots of sarcasm to point out all the places the media isn't. He loses a lot of points with me when he insinuates that everyone is down with the disengagement policy because they really wanted Hitler to win, but overall it's worth a read.
:: David (10:58 in Michigan, 16:58 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Tuesday, August 16 2005 ::
Photos from our weekend have been posted! It took much less time than you might think!
:: David (18:04 in Michigan, 00:04 in Paris) - Comment
The keys are handed back in, and the saga of the weekend car rental is done. The woman at the car rental place tried to kill me while checking the car out - apparently she expected me to have the car in neutral, so she tried to start the car, which of course jumped backward (as it was in gear, like they always tell you to do when you park a manual transmission). More excitement than needed to start my day, but I made it to work a little ahead of when I had been getting in, and I have a full day of stressful things ahead of me, like trying to get our money back for our apartment, and trying to line up a guy to clean our heater (which in August is nearly impossible - everyone is on vacation). The apartment in Ann Arbor got a little tricky too, as they rather of a sudden expected us to give them the deposit on the apartment. As it turns out, I don't have a checkbook and Sasha doesn't have enough money to pay the full deposit, so we had to borrow that. There are so many little details - it's just crazy.
:: David (04:08 in Michigan, 10:08 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Monday, August 15 2005 ::
Safely back. 800 kilometers in three days. Wow! But we saw lots of very cool stuff, including most of the vines in Chablis and at least 25 Very Old Buildings. Now we're back, and other than handing in the keys tomorrow morning (car rental shops in France don't let you drop the keys) we're all finished.
:: David (16:32 in Michigan, 22:32 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, August 13 2005 ::
In what is most certainly our least planned trip, we have rented a car and plan to go pick it up shortly and head 'thataway' - apparently Auxerre is our first stop, and after that we'll work it out. So the weekend will be blog-light. If you get your entertainment from my blog, you'll have to do something else this weekend (until Tuesday, as Monday is a holiday). When we get back I should have stories and pictures, some of which I might even manage to put online before we leave!
:: David (03:02 in Michigan, 09:02 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, August 12 2005 ::
A very interesting letter from, as near as I can tell, someone who trains marines in Iraq is published on informed comment. It disputes a claim made by the blogger (Juan Cole) that the Rules of Engagement are different for Americans than for Brits.
I think that many people use the phrase, "Rules of Engagement," to mean "the manner in which you use force." It may have value as shorthand, but because it actually is a term of art with a real meaning, it tends to confuse the issue. When the Brits say they don't like our ROE, they really mean that they think we are a bunch of cowboys who respond with overwhelming lethal fire to every actual or arguable threat. When we say we don't like their ROE, it means something to the effect that we think they don't understand what's really going on over there and that they are a bunch of [expurgated version] namby-pamby wankers who are afraid to do real fighting.
It's a very technical letter, but also very interesting, giving some excellent examples of why things aren't black and white, for anyone.
:: David (08:09 in Michigan, 14:09 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, August 11 2005 ::
I was amused to read this article at the Register which suggested women like, uh, 'womanly' websites, and men like 'manly' websites. As the Reg notes, "Fairly Bleedin' Obvious". What I found amusing, however, was their description of a 'manly website': "Men, naturally, showed a penchant for dark hues and 'straight, horizontal lines across a page'". Hm - that sounds oddly familiar... almost as if it were my site they were talking about....
:: David (11:03 in Michigan, 17:03 in Paris) - Comment
For those who think France's wine problems are new, today's Le Monde offers a rebuttal:
50 years ago, in Le Monde
So there you go - same question, 50 years before they asked it today.
World Crisis or crisis of authority?
A solution to the wine crisis exists: it is the application to the letter of the Order in Council of September 30, 1953 on the rationalization of the market. Admittedly, the government reaffirmed its intention to follow precisely the policy of reduction of vineyards and improvement of quality. But why wasn't it earlier done? The basic text published two years ago has not yet received a practical application - pulling up [of vines] will start timidly in autumn - in spite of the undeniable goodwill and the competence of the leaders of the Institute of the ordinary wines. Better: the bad type of vines, condemned to disappear in theory, extended in certain departments with a nod and a wink from the authorities, impotent or accessory. How would it be different, since one is obstinated to ensure these "unworthy plantations" maximum profitability thanks to a policy of support from this blind and stupid course? Indeed the quality of the wine and the personal situation of the collector are not taken into consideration. The State aid is dispersed among innumerable fascinating parts. Result: in spite of the colossal effort requested from the treasury, a real misery remains in the disinherited areas where wine is the only possible product, and the average quality of today's French wines does not improve. The end of the wine crisis is also conditioned by the restoration of the public authority: the laws and payments exist, and it is enough to apply them. Several members of the government seem decided there. Their task will not be facilitated by a Parliament which only seeks to satisfy all the claims, reasonable or not, of the voters. Henri Trinchet (August 11, 1955.)
:: David (05:08 in Michigan, 11:08 in Paris) - Comment
Also in the CSM today, an article on the financial impact on reservists of being called to active duty. According to the article, "Government studies show that about half of all reservists and National Guard members report a loss of income when they go on active duty - typically more than $4,000 a year." Given an average wage of $35,000, that's a loss of more than 10 percent of your salary. While there's a move in some states to make up the difference, given the financial situation of many states it isn't clear to me how many states will want to move in this direction.
:: David (04:52 in Michigan, 10:52 in Paris) - Comment
An article in today's CSM talks about the fact that a majority of large French companies use English as an official working language, and a number have dropped French altogether. While the article has some minor errors (courriel has not caught on at all, for example), for the most part it is an interesting look at how France is learning to live with English.
:: David (04:29 in Michigan, 10:29 in Paris) - Comment
The UK is undergoing yet another crisis of faith in their
unofficial religion - binge drinking. Plans to extend the
opening hours of places that serve alcohol have met with
fierce criticism and
fierce rebuttals. There is, in the UK, a recognition that the country has a drinking problem, as summed up in this opinion piece in the Guardian: "It is a weird and scarcely acknowledged fact that very nearly the entire nation ends its days in an alcohol-induced fug. Most of us never see it because we are in it, too." The article opens by noting that the French always seem horrified when they see Brits drink, an opinion which was mirrored by a recent visitor from the UK who went with us to a wine fair in Paris. Looking around at the row upon row of wines on offer, and the massive number of people walking (not stumbling) from table to table tasting the wines, he expressed his opinion that a similar event could never take place in the UK, because people would see it as an excuse to drink as much as they could and fall down.
While people in the UK seem to recognize the situation exists, there seems to be zero consensus for fixing the problem, as a Leader in today's Guardian notes. The article pushes for more experimentation before trying to put in place a national law. This is especially interesting given that the same article points out that this legislation has been in the works for five years, and complains that noone seemed to have any complaints until recently.
:: David (04:23 in Michigan, 10:23 in Paris) - Comment
Yesterday the whole casual French attitude to sex finally caught me off guard. I had bought a copy of Liberation, one of the big French newspapers, to read on the train. The front cover was all about the new Romero zombie film, which probably should have warned me their summer edition was a bit light in the news department. As it turns out, like Le Monde, they do a summer section, which seems to be devoted to describing the sexual mores of one country each day. So when I reach the summer section, on the left I see a large spread of the photo (naked) that a Japanese pop star did recently that caused such a furor in Japan. On the right, they had reproduced some images from the more explicit manga (hentai) that gets produced in Japan. And the article was all about Japanese attitudes to pubic hair. Wow! So I decided that, while the article might be interesting, perhaps a train wasn't the best place to read it. I like to think I didn't blush, but can't be sure.
:: David (02:15 in Michigan, 08:15 in Paris) - Comment
This is fun: Do you want to be in a book? Neil Gaiman and several other well known authors are raising money for charity by offering to name a character after the high bidder. Apparently you can be in a zombie book by Stephen King (and if you're female, he's even offered to kill you!), a Lemony Snicket book, and others.
:: David (01:58 in Michigan, 07:58 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, August 10 2005 ::
Happy birthday to my mom!!!
:: David (16:07 in Michigan, 22:07 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, August 9 2005 ::
I shouldn't post this. I regret it already. But when a group of Ypsilanti cheerleaders make the BBC, I feel that it really needs to be pointed out.
Apparently this also made the US national news, before being picked up by the BBC. Who says the media isn't covering the important stories?
A group of US school cheerleaders put their chanting talents to a different use after witnessing a car crash.
They memorised the license plate of a truck that left the scene by turning it into a cheer.
:: David (11:44 in Michigan, 17:44 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, August 8 2005 ::
Found a tasty, tasty wine. See if you can find it: it's a Chateauneuf du Pape, 2001, from Domaine la Roquette. I've scribbled a description on the wine page - 3rd one down.
:: David (16:49 in Michigan, 22:49 in Paris) - Comment
An article in the New York Times this week may indicate why so many wines seem weak and uninteresting to me - turns out that part of the magic of producing those 'Robert Parker specials' involves removing most of the tasty tannins.
The article discusses a company whose job it is to analyze the chemistry of wines and recommend changes to pull the wine's ratings up. All for a sizeable fee, of course. It's quite long (the story is spread across five pages), and discusses both the state of the art, and the history leading up to it.
It's interesting, because the basic decision comes down to a question of consistency. I believe that a true wine artist will, most of the time, produce a much more interesting wine than anything that can be churned out by a laboratory. But some of the time, mistakes are made, and the results can linger a long time, and cost quite a bit. My fear is that, in chasing consistency, we will lose all of the true masterpieces.
:: David (09:11 in Michigan, 15:11 in Paris) - Comment
According to the BBC, the Grange City Hotel in London is to offer a females-only wing.
In addition to security features such as doors with a spy-hole and chain lock, the
hotel demonstrates its knowledge of its clientele with the following:
The rooms will have female-friendly features such as extra-large illuminated wardrobes, a "movie star" backlit make-up mirror in the bathroom, and an extra-powerful hairdryer with long cord.
I can't come up with anything sarcastic enough to say here, so I'll leave it at that.
:: David (09:11 in Michigan, 15:11 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, August 6 2005 ::
|I have been discussing for some time with a colleague the rights and wrongs of the attack on Hiroshima, which occurred sixty years ago today. I will not bore you with an account, except to say that, even with the additional data which has come to light in preparation for the 60th anniversary, it is not clear to me if the Japanese were ready to surrender before the bomb was dropped.
In an opinion piece titled "Memory and the Forgotten" (Original French and English translation from babelfish), Le Monde makes an excellent point about how discussions of necessity detract from the real issue raised by Hiroshima and Nagasaki: "This statistical reasoning, which makes it possible to avoid reflection on modern massacres, closes the debate prematurely, mixing an absence of clarity with a lack of courage." The question, then, is not "should we have" or "shouldn't we have", but rather "how the hell did we go so far down such a dark path, and how can we avoid anything like it happening ever again?"
I lived near Nagasaki, and not so far from Hiroshima. I visited them both on more than one occasion, and have seen the memorials and the remains. In an age where war seems to have lost its sting for all but those who suffer losses, who always seem remote and unconnected to us, perhaps today is a good day to remember that war, 'right' or 'wrong', breeds tragedy on an unimaginable scale.
:: David (13:22 in Michigan, 19:22 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, August 5 2005 ::
So here's a little humour for you - according to a story on TechNewsWorld, a dating company sued a university after the university blocked its (unsolicited) email from getting to the students.
Here's the joke: if I'm reading the article correctly, the service probably bought the email addresses from the University.
[The dating company] had sued the university over 59,000 messages blocked by spam filters in 2003. The Austin, Texas-based service had legally obtained the addresses from [the University of Texas] but the university blocked the e-mail messages, saying White Buffalo was part of a larger spam problem that had crashed the computer system.
If my interpretation is correct, it could be a very entertaining precedent - I can sell you my email addresses, but I can also render the information useless.
:: David (05:38 in Michigan, 11:38 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, August 4 2005 ::
I've updated my contact page with my new phone number in the USA. Don't update your phone books just yet, as I have been informed that the number is subject to change until the day it is turned on, but you can give it a try starting September 2nd, and we'll see if it works.
:: David (07:42 in Michigan, 13:42 in Paris) - Comment
There's a book review in the Economist which discusses the painting "American Gothic". In point of fact, that is also the subject of the book it reviews, which is titled
American Gothic: A Life of America's Most Famous Painting, written by Steven Biel.
Something in the article caught my eye, and I thought I would share:
The artist [Grant Wood] himself never gave much away, insisting that the work was not meant as a satire and that he was painting mid-western types rather than individuals. "American Gothic", he said, was not a portrait: Wood had merely asked his sister Nan and the local dentist to pose for him, dressing them up and adapting their faces into a stylised, anonymous image of a man and his daughter who would fit into the now famous clapboard house in Eldon, Iowa.
Now, am I the only one who didn't think this was a man and his daughter? I guess you learn something new every day.
:: David (04:25 in Michigan, 10:25 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, August 3 2005 ::
Ryan has informed me that he is "meeting with the U.S. representative that authored [the daylight savings time extension] amendment tomorrow afternoon", and wondered if I had any questions. I believe I may have wet myself. The possibilities are, quite simply, limitless. I shall have to contemplate, and perhaps, with a little help from my friends, we can break this story wide open!
:: David (14:21 in Michigan, 20:21 in Paris) - Comment
Apparently, (according to the CSM)the new energy bill moving through congress will make daylight savings time one month longer starting in 2007. I really, honestly, completely, and totally do not understand why we pay the people in Washington, because it's clear they are all insane.
:: David (10:29 in Michigan, 16:29 in Paris) - Comment
There is a very entertaining timeline on Juan Cole's website which explains how, in point of fact, Ronald Reagan created al-Queda, and a not so gentle reminder of how all our dubious partnerships come back to haunt us, eventually.
:: David (07:42 in Michigan, 13:42 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, August 2 2005 ::
on the appointment by decree of John Bolton to the UN
One leading expert on US politics told the BBC the appointment would be unlikely to lead to a deterioration in political relations, "because it is hard to see how things could be any worse than they are now".
Which seems to say it all, doesn't it?
:: David (08:46 in Michigan, 14:46 in Paris) - Comment
As I noted when I was travelling, the trip to Denmark this time was shot through with viking history, and I thought I would share the reading list. The book which made museums and other sites more interesting was a factual book on the vikings called, uninterestingly, "The Vikings". It was especially interesting because in several parts of the book, all the known evidence about how or what the vikings did comes from a single source, and as Denmark is quite small, you can often then see that single source for yourself. The fictional part of my trip was served up by Guy Gavriel Kay, in a book called Last Light of the Sun. It's a story about the vikings, the English, and, as always, about change. So now you can start planning your trip to Denmark!
:: David (04:28 in Michigan, 10:28 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, August 1 2005 ::
August 1st. I'm back in Paris, back in my empty, already-been-moved-out-of apartment. Back at work.
The city is quiet, as it always is in August, and the office is also quiet. We went out seeking lunch today and discovered that August is not a good month to look for a sandwich in Paris. The usual spots were open, but hadn't made any food because the workers (other than us) aren't around to eat it.
Said my hellos to the folks at work, and in one case good-bye. Many people are leaving for the whole month of August, which means we won't see each other before I leave. In some respects it's nice, because it means I get to say a real goodbye to each person individually, but on the other hand it colors each day with a maudlin hue. Changes are funny that way.
:: David (10:30 in Michigan, 16:30 in Paris) - Comment