Saturday, August 23, 2014

What irritates Stephen Clarke is that so little happens in Paris in August

I know lots of people who say that they love to be in Paris in August, when all the Parisians are away
But Stephen Clarke does not agree:
what irritates me is that so little happens in Paris in August.

Of course everyone needs their holiday, but it gets tough setting up meetings, for example. Lots of Parisian meetings happen in cafés, and … many of these are closed in summer

 … It’s the same buying bread. There are very strict rules about when a boulangerie can close for its annual holidays. The baker has to belong to one of two groups, according to when he or she (almost always he) wants to close: either 1-31 July or 1-31 August. When a shop closes, it has to give the addresses of the two nearest boulangeries that are still open.

 … So it’s all well organized, and fresh bread is always available by law, but if your local boulangerie closes and you’re used to strolling lazily across the road in the mornings to buy fresh bread, and now you have to go all of 200 metres further to a boulangerie that you don’t particularly like because their pain aux raisins are too doughy (it can happen), it feels to the average Parisian as if you’ve been told to crawl to Lourdes on your hands and knees as penance for a sin – maybe the sin of staying in Paris when you ought to be on holiday.

So yes, we Parisians are a spoilt bunch, but when you’re used to having a café and a boulangerie within yards of your front door, it’s hard to adapt. I’m sure the same is true for polar explorers: give them easy access to shops and restaurants and they’ll go insane with claustrophobia.

Another problem with Paris in August is that the weekly events guides slim down to supermodel thinness.

 … Paris, I think, needs a summer festival.

 … I fear, though, that theatres, music venues and café back rooms will all be subject to city rules about annual closure; that sound engineers, stage managers and actors will all want their annual holiday; and that everyone would go on strike anyway, as they threatened to do this year at Avignon.

So maybe Paris is doomed to be bereft of culture every summer. Except of course for the art museums, where you can still see some of the greatest collections in the world. But then again, art shows aren’t hindered by annual holidays, because all the artists concerned are on an eternal vacation in the afterlife. Though I bet that if they want to change from heaven to hell one summer, they have to ask for permission.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wait a Minute! The WMD Spiel Was All a Lie by Dubya, So Stop Bringing Unpalatable Facts Into the Equation

Obama is currently meeting privately with his cabinet to discuss the news from Iraq that ISIS has discovered scores of Weapons of Mass Destruction that Saddam Hussein had hidden before the start of the US Invasion in 2003
claims Political Ears.
Buried in various spider holes and underground bunkers, the WMD stores were found in areas east, west, south and north around Tikrit and Baghdad. The existence of the WMD stores, unknown since 2003, have now become known. Now, known unknowns include ISIS’ specific plans for the WMDs and the expediency with which they will rain death on what they consider western infidel regimes.

 …  Proving that the past was not predictable at the time of the US Operation Iraqi Freedom invasion, the events of the past few months have definitively raised the level of unpredictability for the future. Jihadists now control nuclear, chemical, and biological WMD, creating a global crisis of the highest order.

 … With the success of un-American foreign policy enacted by the Obama Administration to remove support for the troops, elements of the American far left are unable to explain why their efforts to undermine the cause of freedom in Iraq was an intelligent decision.
Update: one reader says that is "a satire website" while another replies that it
makes no difference if "we found them or not" THE FACTS ARE HE HAD THEM AND HE USED THEM ON THE IRANANS AND ON HIS OWN PEOPLE.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

President Obama complained last week in an interview with the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman that American politics is increasingly dysfunctional for a number of reasons including the “Balkanization of the media.”
Thus writes Benny Huang.
The Balkanization of the country as a whole is just fine, as evidenced by his lawless illegal immigration policy, but the media have to be united. It’s clear that he does not value a diversity of viewpoints. According to the president, “people just watch what reinforces their deepest biases” and that’s a real problem.

Liberals have always been able to watch what reinforces their deepest biases. It’s called the network news. They can have their deepest biases confirmed in print as well, in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and nearly every other newspaper.

 … I’m glad that President Obama opposes the so-called fairness doctrine in radio and television which would mandate “equal time” to differing points of view on controversial subjects. There is, however, some evidence that his position is a sham like his previous opposition to same-sex marriage. His FCC even proposed a pilot program to monitor newsrooms for “balance.” They backed away from that one after considerable outrage. In any case, the traditional leftist position on the issue is supportive of the doctrine. Liberals just want to hear “both sides” and all that stuff.

Have you ever met a liberal who really wanted to hear both sides of an issue? I haven’t. There’s a reason they insist on campus speech codes, criminalize policy differences, fire conservatives from their jobs, and shout down opposing speakers. Surely it isn’t because they’re worried that the other guy won’t be allowed to speak his piece. They even complain that there’s too much balance on stories about, for example, global warming. Since November of 2013, the Los Angeles Times has even had a policy that prohibits all letters to the editor that dispute the theory of anthropogenic global warming. You can’t make this stuff up!

What President Obama is really complaining about with his “Balkanization” remark is that people are allowed to hear differing viewpoints, though not in equal proportions, of course. FOX News may be the behemoth of the cable news market, but its influence is a not an equal counterweight to the combined forces of MSNBC, CNN, the networks, and print media. What he really wants is total domination of the narrative factory that influences so of much public opinion. The fact that someone else gets to speak every once in a while, on one cable channel, is intolerable.

 … Their journalistic good old days peaked in 1974 when the legendary Woodward and Bernstein duo took down a president named Richard Nixon. I don’t blame the two Washington Post reporters because they uncovered true malfeasance which precipitated a coverup, which in turn precipitated abuses of presidential power. They did their job in keeping politicians honest.

Yet it should not be ignored that previous presidents—FDR, JFK, and LBJ—pulled similar shenanigans. Why couldn’t the Washington Post be bothered to investigate those presidents? Because they were liberal Democrats, of course. They got a pass. The fact that Carl Bernstein was the son of card-carrying communist parents, and that he sought to weaken a president who was trying to salvage a war that Bernstein didn’t want America to win explains a lot too.

Forty years later there’s at least one network that will cover similar abuses by a leftist president. I’m speaking of FOX News, of course.

 … The media in this country aren’t “Balkanized” enough. They’re still absurdly biased to the Left, making no pretenses of covering issues such as same-sex marriage, illegal immigration, abortion, or global warming with any degree of even-handedness. 
Conservatives have managed to find a very modest toehold in the journalistic world, but we shouldn’t be deluded into thinking that any kind of sea change has occurred. We’re still losing the media wars. Yet the fact that we’re even allowed any voice at all—a cable network, a few talk shows, half a newspaper—is an existential threat to this president, his administration, and the movement he represents.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Police Officers Love To Say That They Are at War, But There Is No Excuse For Abusing Language That Way

Re the petition to stop the “national militarization” of police departments (thanks to Instapundit):

Police officers like to say that they are in a war, a war on drugs, etc…

There is no excuse for abusing language like this (not even being a fan of over-the-top Hollywood movies): in a war (a real war), a soldier has reason to fear and reason to fight, as well as a reason to be heavily protected, as he is opposed to a (large, armed, and well-trained) force whose main objective is to win by shooting at you and bringing about your death.

The police officer fits in no category like that one, as the main object of (the rare, few, and usually disorganized) criminals is to get rich by breaking the law and, insofar as possible, avoiding any contact with the law (i.e., with any member of the police force whatsoever) and certainly avoiding a policeman's harm or death (which they all know can do nothing but make their main objective much harder).

In the civilian world, we are innocent until proven guilty, and the police officer, who is supposed to come from our "ranks", is supposed to reflect that by treating us as an equal.
The police are the public and the public are the police (1829)
What it all amounts to is that police officers who like to say that they are in a war are play-acting, a little more seriously certainly than Civil War reenactors, but play-acting (as tough gung-ho macho men) nonetheless as there is almost no way that a Hollywood film scenario will occur in real life.

Indeed, when things have truly gone bad, what has usually happened is that a police officer was shot by an entirely honest and law-abiding citizen awoken in the dark of night who — with good reason — thought that the over-the-top police action could only be the doing of criminals, say a home invasion by gang members, and reached for a weapon of defense. But more often, police-related deaths have been that of a basically harmless, run-of-the-mill civilian killed by one or more overeager cops.

Update: Andrew Klavan quotes Kurt Schlichter (thanks to Instapundit) as making the excellent point that
the military wins by increasing violence while the police win by decreasing violence.

With a misconceived sense of benevolence, progressive socialists make the populace believe they truly care, when in all actuality this is about the subjugation and destruction of the individual will

 … this is how liberal government works
explains Allen West:
A program is begun with good intentions, then politicians realize they can leverage the benefit for votes. It is the ultimate bribery scheme. Subsequently, fear and coercion is used against opposition – as we saw Republican Senator Thad Cochran do to his opposition in Mississippi — to scare blacks into believing these benefits will be taken away by those “mean ol’ Conservatives.”

The safety net has truly become a hammock, all at the expense of hardworking American middle-income families who are watching their wages dwindle and small business owners who were told, “you didn’t build that.”

To paraphrase Lady Margaret Thatcher, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” With a misconceived sense of benevolence, progressive socialists make the populace believe they truly care, when in all actuality this is about the subjugation and destruction of the individual will. Why work? After all, as the singer says, “all you gotta do is ooh-ooh and nine months later, you got the big bucks.”

This is one of the fundamental differences between progressive socialists and constitutional conservatives: economic enslavement vs economic empowerment.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Europe's Disunity in the Face of Putin's Russia: “Old Europe” is not threatened, and so it can focus on its own economic interests, while “New Europe” is reminded of the nightmares of its past

Eastern Europe, which beginning with Poland is celebrating its 25th anniversary of freedom from Communism, has suddenly awakened from a beautiful dream about the end of history
writes Slawomir Sierakowski.
No less an authority than Adam Michnik, the legendary Polish anti-Communist dissident, recently announced that 2014 marks the end of the best period in Poland’s history in three centuries.

 … Now, faced with the powerlessness of the West before Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia, the countries of Eastern Europe are suddenly confronted with the need to reflect on their foreign policies — and no country more so than Poland.

The primary problem for Eastern Europe is not so much Mr. Putin’s aggression, but rather the disunity in the region’s response.

 … Nor can Eastern Europe depend on its Western allies. European weapons manufacturers, foremost among them German and French companies, are arming the Russian military, while Russia pays Europe with the money it earns from supplying gas, making Europe energy-dependent on Russia. Meanwhile European firms are signing multibillion-dollar energy contracts with the Russian energy companies Gazprom and Rosneft. 

As a result, Europe, the largest economy in the world, finds itself helpless in a confrontation with a country that, in economic terms and excluding the energy sector, belongs in the global third division.

The swirl of opinions, analyses and interests can be bewildering, especially in contrast to an essentially simple calculation by Russia. Unlike the West, it values geopolitical expansion, not economic conditions. Otherwise, Russia would invest the money it earns from oil and gas in economic development, and not in its military, which according to projected spending will account for well over a quarter of the national budget by 2015. 

This situation casts a dark shadow on the place where the Iron Curtain used to be. “Old Europe” is not threatened, and so it can focus on its own economic interests, while “New Europe” is reminded of the nightmares of its past. The fact that Ukrainians were willing to die in order to open the door to the European Union, which is now unwilling to bear the economic costs of a confrontation with Russia in order to protect them, is hardly comforting.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

False Friends in English-French Discourse

 … some of the Google translations previously used by the owners were somewhat off the mark. For example, their starters included crudités (raw vegetables) translated as “crudeness”, and salade aux deux magrets as the mind-boggling “two breast salad” instead of “roast and smoked duck breast salad”. We also found mignons de porc (pork fillet) became “cute pig”, but the final straw had to be crottin de chèvre chaud (warm goat’s cheese) which was unappetisingly described as “warm goat dung”. 
From Neuville de Poitou, a small market town in western France, the Daily Telegraph's Duncan Webster broaches 'the thorny subject of “false friends”.'
What is a false friend? Well, in recent years, many Anglicisms have been adopted into the French language but they are not always used in ways we would expect. For example, a French town may have several parkings (not car parks), people erect tents on a camping (not a campsite) and may communicate by talkie-walkie.

Other uses of English words are less obvious. A French person having a makeover is going for a "relooking". They wear baskets (not trainers) on their feet, and use Scotch (tape) to seal a parcel. In English, too, we have misappropriated French words. For example, the French sit on canapés (their word for sofas), but would not sit on a commode, because that means a chest of drawers. It is, of course, necessary to explain these strange uses of our two languages and the resulting discussions are often a source of great amusement.