Maîtres mots

  • Il y a longtemps que notre pays est beau mais rude.

       --Newspaper editor Olivier Séguret, 25 January 2012

    The USA are entirely the creation of the accursed race, the French.

       --Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), writing to Nancy Mitford, 22 May 1957

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French Freedom of Speech

  • Charlie Hebdo magazine, which published a cover illustration calling Marine Le Pen, head of the right-wing Front National, the "secret Down's syndrome daughter of De Gaulle," who did in fact have a daughter with Down's. The president of a Down's syndrome association, Handi Pop', has announced it is suing.

Today the cheminots are:

  • "À nous de vous faire préférer le train!"
    "Voyager autrement"
    "Avec le SNCF, tout est possible"
      --Former ad slogans of the SNCF (French national trains), each in turn quickly dropped

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I must say that I've never been disappointed with Paris's internet connection. I have a 200mbps fibre optic connection that costs me relatively little compared to what I would have had to pay in the UK. I'm not sure what it's like in the rest of France but never have I had a problem with mobile telephony, particularly 3G service, either. Furthermore, not only can you access data networks on the metro, many of the stations are WiFi equipped too.

Admittedly, many websites are indeed poorly designed. But they've come along way since 2005 when I first started trying to understand how the university system worked and what it was that we actually had to do to apply. Even university websites have come a long way in that timeframe.

Annoying as it may be, having to answer security questions when paying for something online is, I believe, a cultural point. France still won't relinquish cheques and, despite trying to introduce it, Moneo hardly took off. The French don't like debt; they like security with their finances.

I am dealing with a university whose website is back in the Stone Age, so I'm prejudiced. The wifi in Paris is pretty good, though! I love being able to use my smartphone in the metro. I didn't really mean wifi connectivity; that isn't the problem. It's more that the tech mentality is still a bit oldfashioned.

Yes, it is so annoying that Internet service in France is so behind the times. And slow. I'm told that (which we use for our home service and phones) deliberately slows down access to video services like YouTube at peak viewing hours in the evening. It's such a pain!

I did want to drop some Internet (or internet) trivia though. The Internet has normally capitalized as a global standard when it refers to the world-wide network overall. We then say "internet" (lower case) when referring to smaller local networks that do roughly the same thing as the world-wide 'Net. So it's not just a French thing to capitalize it, but it is also true that more organizations are blurring the lines of this naming convention so you will certainly see exception to this original "rule".

Our theory has been that their attachment to and refusal to give up the minitel caused the French to be late in embracing the internet and handicapped the development of the kind of sites we see elsewhere.

I never thought of that! That may be true. I remember one of my uncles coming to visit in Paris when the Minitel was in its heyday. He worked for Southern Bell and was quite impressed with the technology. I used to brag about it to Americans! Then I remember an American who moved to Paris in 1996 and couldn't believe no one had email.

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Today's quotation

  • Tell me about the violence of the powerful! The violence they make people suffer! The worker is there to shut up and suffer! Well, no– from time to time a few people have to put up with having their shirts torn. A shirt is nothing!

    Actually, now it's a song, and you're going to be hearing "Tear off his shirt!" at all the demonstrations. It's become a chant of pride against humiliation.

    It's disgraceful. I tell you it's disgraceful. What have these guys done? Are they drug dealers? Are they people who plan to escape with their money to some tax haven? What on earth do you expect? Do you expect these guys to come and say, "Oh, sorry massa, sorry my lord, it won't ever happen again"?

    I'm telling them: "Do it again! Think about these five men!"

      --Always quotable French leftist politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon today on BFMTV, speaking of the employees of Air France. On Monday last week, angry employees tore the shirts off two Human Resources managers who had come to a union meeting to announce 3000 layoffs. Air France lost €1.830,000,000 in 2013 and €198,000,000 in 2014.

    Parlez-moi de la violence des puissants ! De la violence qu’ils font subir aux gens ! L’ouvrier il est là pour se taire et souffrir ! Eh bien non, de temps à autre il y en a qui se font prendre la chemise. La chemise c’est rien !

    Si, maintenant c’est une chanson, et dans toutes les manifs vous entendrez "Tomber la chemise" parce que c’est devenu un chant de fierté contre l’humiliation.

    C’est une honte. C’est une honte. Qu’est-ce qu’ils ont fait ces gens ? C’est des trafiquants de drogue ? C’est de gens qui comptent se sauver avec de l’argent dans un paradis fiscal ? Qu’est-ce que vous voulez à la fin ? Que les gens viennent et disent : 'pardon notre bon maître, pardon notre seigneur, jamais nous ne recommencerons.'

    Moi je dis aux gens : 'Recommencez ! Pensez à ces cinq-là.'

Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

  • French Prime Minister Manuel Valls returned from a quick trip to Saudi Arabia having agreed on €10 billion worth of arms deals (in principle; some haven't been signed yet) with the human-rights-challenged regime.

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