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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« Getting ready for Bastille Day | Main | Happy Quatorze juillet! »


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You're off on the cost of the 'Big Dig' by a factor of 1,000. It cost (so far) is $15 Billion, with a 'B'.

Not all of the money went into the ground. Boston is one of those US cities (San Francisco is another) which arrange to have a never-ending serial procession of massive infrastructure projects with surprisingly large costs per mile of bridge, tunnel, railway track or freeway. In each place the local political machine is feeding off the local corruption machine, which is in turn fed by the local chain of construction scams.

Much of this will be familiar to residents of, to name just one transatlantic example, Nice.

We wish it had only cost $15 million dollars, but it was billions of dollars.

I think that's 15 billion.

Latest word in the news is that the projected problem areas in the tunnel is now QUADRUPLED to about 240-ish instead of 60.

What a nightmare. And how horrible it took a woman's death to bring it to light. Boston is such a great place, it's a shame the citizens are in the middle of this Big Diggin' Mess.

Quote: "So, which do you like better, France or the United States?" he said. Only Americans ask this question. And there is only on correct answer, of course.

Are you kidding me? Just about every single French person I've ever met has asked me that same question. And there's only one right answer for them too - as if it's utterly impossible that I would prefer my country of birth to LA FRANCE.

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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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