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

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

Fun French words

  • ouistiti

    (literally: marmoset)
    Etymology: onomatopoeia from the sound a marmoset makes. Actual meaning: this is what you say in France when you want people to smile for the camera.

    Selon une étude réalisée par le fabricant d’appareils photo Nikon, le « ouistiti » utilisé en France au moment de se faire prendre en photo est le petit mot le plus efficace pour s’assurer un joli sourire.

Who's en colère today?

  • Private sector

    First strike in 43 years at an aeronautics company in Toulouse, Latécoère

    Public sector

    The SNCF (toujours eux), regional train employees in the Lyons area guaranteeing unpleasant travel from the 17th-21st December
    Also yet another strike by Sud-Rail, a particularly truculent SNCF union in the south of France, this time five days in January: 6,7, 21, 22 and 23. "We have no choice." Right.

    Marseilles trams on strike until February

Go back to school in Paris!

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Very interesting post. And true. Mistrust is a fact of life in this U.S. There is mistrust everywhere, but it's particularly exacerbated here, especially since 9/11.

You’ve stolen my life. I miss it very much. I would like to have it back at your earliest convenience.

I’m sometimes amused by the search for grander themes in the quotidian.

“This better be important,” the boss said as he stared at the hem of his secretary’s dress. “I don’t have a minute to waste.”

I quite probably would have refused to watch your bags in the airport, and probably with a frown, but not out of concern for any terrorist aspirations on your part. I would have been afraid that you would disappear for who knows how long and I would have felt obligated to remain as your sentry.

Also, you state that your brother rented this vacation home. That might imply others occupied the place before him. “Others” might not have been nice neighbors.

Too, I’ve generally found “country” people to be less immediately accepting of “outsiders.” I don’t think it has anything to do with suspicions of terrorism. It has to do with poverty, and the lack of education, fear and resentment that poverty often breeds.

At least the secretary was pretty.

Another alternative answer? You had really crummy neighbors. Increasingly in the mountains this is the product of people trying to reject the simple truth that Applachia's future wealth lies overwhelmingly in various forms of tourism. As festivals and trails abound, tourists from out of area increasingly ignore boundaries that were taken for granted before. It is not excuse for rudeness, but that might be it.

Of course Appalachians are generally wary (though usually, I might add, cordial at the minimum) of folks from outside of the region, in no small part because for one hundred and fifty years our political-economy was, essentially, a colony of the industrial North, while our essentially Southern culture was disowned by other Southerners. That kind of experience leaves some psychological and cultural, I don't want to say scars, hmmm, perhaps the word is "artifacts." I don't know you're interested, but several of my peers and I have a blog on the region (Hillbilly Savants) where we discuss just this sort of thing. Also, while I have driven past Bat Cave many times, I fear I've never stopped. My jealousy lacks no bounds.

PS - Great blog.

Thanks Eric! I like yours too.

Have you ever read "Albion's Seed" by David Hackett Fisher? It was very interesting on the four English waves that settled the American colonies. I hadn't realized that the Appalachians were largely settled by people from the Scottish borderlands, who had been at war with their neighbors for centuries. That explained a lot!

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Today's quotation

  • In Paris, the purest virtue is the object of the filthiest slander.

      –Honoré Balzac (1799-1850), in Scènes de la vie privée

    À Paris, la vertu la plus pure est l'objet des plus sales calomnies.

Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

  • Annual Geminids meteor shower (shooting stars!) coming this weekend, if it's not too cloudy out at night.

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