Thursday, December 31, 2009

DP Dec 31: One-by-one

Thanks to Emily for providing cocktail chatter for our New Year's Eve parties!

LW1 is a student who has applied for a job that her friend, who is not as advanced in her studies, wants. Friend is upset to learn about this "betrayal" via Facebook. Prudie replies that friend has no dibs on the job, but that it is wise to avoid social networking if you're looking for a job.
My take: I don't know if LW is qualified to work if she needs to write Prudie about this, and if she's even remotely contemplating canceling her interview. Regarding discretion, y'all are wise to post to the Fray under assumed names... potential employers are scanning the web looking for time wasters like us.

LW2 is a young woman whose mother has recently died. She enjoys recalling her mother's life, but is dismayed because whenever she brings up her mother, her friends look pained and fall silent. Prudie says to make her desire to be able to speak about her mother without the pity clear. I agree.

LW3 has adopted a child and followed the birth mother's pregnancy and delivery. The birth mother's mother was present at the birth, and asked for the LW's address to be able to send a gift. The baby is one year old, and the grandmother has sent a handmade outfit and a check for the child's college fund. LW is horrified that this evil, evil woman is "worming" her way into her life. Prudie says the LW is a crazy bith.
My take: If you didn't want contact, you shouldn't have given your address. This family didn't "worm" its way into your life: you went asking for this woman's grandchild. You are a crazy bitch.

LW4 is a single mother of a teen. She's finally met a totally compatible, kind, loving guy who has the never to neglect her deep-seated need to receive flowers as proof that she's really truly loved the way she deserves. Prudie says she's a crazy bitch who needs to let it go if she wants this guy to stick around.
My take: I know why you're a single mother... get over the flowers, bitch. And if you've read DP, you know her answer in advance.

In the news tomorrow

JM's predictions:

Cars will be burned. Especially in Strasbourg.
People will be attacked on the Champs Elysees.
A police operation will be criticized.
The webcast of the light show at the Eiffel Tower will be a flop (that's my prediction).
A list of tax and fee increases coming into effect will be published.
We will have a review of New Year's celebrations around the world.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I now exist in a 3D version

Thought I already was... but now thanks to JM, I am a low-poly texture-mapped thing of wonder.

Friday, December 25, 2009

My quiz on University of Detroit-Mercy's 'Ask the Professor'

UDM's radio trivia show "Ask the Professor" is one of the longest running radio programs in the United States, having been on the air more than 50 seasons.

Moderated by Kathy Bush, assistant dean of Liberal Arts and Education, the program features UDM faculty members from history, philosophy, math, chemistry, communications and sociology.

This panel of professors is challenged by listeners with questions about nearly everything, in an attempt to stump the group. Communications Studies students help produce the successful radio program and each show is taped for play on national radio stations.

My quiz was used for the end of episode 1009 (click HERE) and the beginning of episode 1010 (click HERE). The quiz has a Franco-American/Detroiter/Michigander orientation.

When even a parenthesis can't hold a parenthetical clause

From the Wikipedia section on Mad Men character Freddy Rumson:

He likes to seem lighthearted and open despite his age (his eldest daughter turns thirty in season 2, and he served in World War II), playing Mozart pieces on his pants zipper.

DP Dec 24: One-by-one

Happy Pyuledie Day!

LW1 is hosting her younger sister for Xmas. Sister wants LW to ship the gifts LW will be giving her so that sister won't have to check them on the plane. Sister justifies this demand by saying that if sister weren't traveling to LW's place, LW would have to ship them anyway. Prudie agrees that sister is unreasonable, and that sister should ship them herself, or that LW should tell sister she'll ship them when she has the time.
My advice: How about you decide to get over yourself and your sibling issues, and just ship the damn things? That's a pragmatic view to make this a happier holiday for yourself.

That said, I agree that the sister is being a bitch. Her rationale that if she weren't coming, LW would have to ship her presents anyway, is an invitation to lots of responses. Like: If you weren't coming, I wouldn't have to lodge you. I wouldn't have to feed you. I wouldn't have to clean up after you. I think the only way to deal with this though is to say "Oh, I thought one of the advantages of you coming, in addition to the joy of your company for the holiday, was that I would be spared the trouble and expense of shipping the presents." Or... "I guess that means you won't be part of the gift opening session on Christmas morning, since I don't want to open any packages that need to be shipped."

Letters HERE.Video letter is from a Chinese-American whose fiancé is a not-very-religious Jew. LW's parents adopted Xmas as a secular symbol of American integration, and LW wants to have a Xmas tree. Fiancé doesn't want to celebrate Xmas and doesn't want a tree. Prudie says she shouldn't be planning on marrying a Jew and raising Jewish children if she can't understand that Jews don't usually celebrate Xmas.
My take: Maybe you're just incompatible? I see his point: it's a friggin' CHRISTmas tree. He is probably dealing with all sorts of internalized guilt about marrying a non-Jew. Bit I am sympathetic to your position. You can still have garlands, wreaths, etc. to give your home a festive atmosphere.

LW2 is a guy who has been "seriously dating" a woman for a whole month. One day when they got to her place, they found perfume and other Xmas gifts to her from a married man from her church. She says there's nothing to it, despite the fact that he sexted her just as she got the gifts, and the other fact that she expects LW not to tell anyone she got the stuff. LW insisted she give away the gifts, and she said she wold, but in fact she kept the perfume. LW wants to know what to do next year. Prudie tries to open the asshole's eyes: she's cheating on you, if you can be said to cheat on someone you've been seriously dating a whole three dates.
My take: "Seriously dating" after a month? In any case, you're dating a tramp, so why you think you'll want to be around next Xmas is a mystery to me.

LW3 is a guy whose fiancée's aunt sent a politically charged Xmas card. LW and fiancée are livid, and want to know if they should skip Xmas so as to avoid these boors. Prudie says to hope for a humor transplant for Xmas, and to ignore the card.
My take: As is typical in these letters, one asks oneself: Where's the SO? Your fiancee is upset? What does SHE want to do? She needs to take the lead, in any case. Prudie's advice is fine. I might worry about what they're going to do at the wedding though... They don't seem to have any idea what is appropriate behavior.

LW4 is a "prankster" (ie, asshole) who does fun packaging of his Xmas gifts. Everyone in his fiancée's family just loves him, except for his future MIL. Should he package her gift in a welded metal box? Prudie says, uh, no.
My take: I think the fiancee's mother is right. You're a creep. Go away.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Breaking in the muffin tin

JM gave me my birthday present, which included a silicone muffin tin. My first! And so I made my first muffins. Cheese and onion. Here's the recipe. Came out nice. More than nice! Super delish! Halved the measurements.

Préparation : 15 mn

Ingrédients (pour 12 muffins) :
- 150 g de fromages : Emmental et Morbier (ou Parmesan ou chèvre etc... selon l'inspiration du jour ou ce qu'il reste dans le frigo)[I had some precious cheddar and filled it out with gruyere]
- 1/2 bouquet de persil haché [Didn't have any]
- 1 oignon haché (pas trop petit)[Plenty of onion]
- 1 oeuf [Hard to halve, but just used a small one]
- 1 verre de lait (20 cl environ) et un peu de crème [Used a dollop of creme fraiche]
- 3 cuillères à soupe d'huile [Olive oil]
- 250 g de farine
- 1 sachet de levure chimique
- sel, épices (facultatifs et selon les goûts : du safran pour la couleur, du cumin si affinités, etc) [Cayenne pepper and paprika]

Préparation :

Dans une terrine, mélanger lait et huile avec persil et oignon. Ajouter ensemble la farine et la levure, ainsi que l'oeuf, et travailler le tout à la spatule. (n'oubliez pas la pointe de sel et d'éventuels épices).

Râper ou couper le(s) fromage(s) en petits morceaux, les incorporer dans le mélange.
Verser la préparation, qui doit être assez épaisse, dans des moules à muffins préparés.

Cuire à four moyen (180-200°C) et pendant une petite demi-heure, ils seront dorés et assez moelleux.


Friday, December 18, 2009

DP Dec 17: All-in-one

Dear Prudie,

Times are kind of tough, and after paying for my late mother's medical bills and funeral expenses, I'm really tapped out for Christmas.

A workmate has invited me to the baby shower he and his husband (they slipped through the Prop 8 crack) are having for the mixed-race twins they're adopting. I can't afford anything on their organic-only registry list, and would love to simply offer them the batch of cloth diapers my workmate offered my wife at our own baby shower (they're organic, natch). Alas, she miscarried, and the diapers are a bitter reminder of our loss we would be only too happy to get rid of. I don't feel right about the retrogifting, especially since the workmate says they plan to raise the twins diaper-free.

I would be particularly uncomfortable attending this baby shower, since my workmate has been having an affair with his old high school beard he reconnected with on Facebook. He explained that it started because he wanted to hook her in as a surrogate when it looked like their application to adopt was going nowhere. Despite the success in adopting, he continues to see her. I think he's not really in love with his husband anymore, but he is into the stylish image of the cool bobo gay couple with mixed-race twins (he thinks that he and his husband are our town's version of Kevin and Scotty). Anyway, he's used me as a cover, against my will, on several occasions, and I refuse to lie to his husband, so I prefer simply to avoid them.

In any case, my wife refuses to attend the shower. She "found God" a few months ago. She thinks the miscarriage was a message from God about our own wayward behaviour (let's say we used to do it in styles other than missionary), and now refuses to associate with sinners. She won't even let me accompany her to Christmas service at her new church, saying she will not have her house of worship defiled by an unbeliever. The only way we're staying married at all is because I did some Bible study myself (1 Corinthians 7:12-14).

I could recoup some of my expenses on my mother's illness and death by getting her sister to cough up the money she received from friends and other relatives to help out my mother, and which she has greedily kept for herself. I was about to take her to small claim's court, but my wife says that would be un-Christian, which I really don't understand, because she says I'm not a real Christian, and my aunt is a goddamn Wiccan.

So Prudie, here's my question: Can I get out of the shower by pointing out that parents are not supposed to be begging for presents?


Broke in so many ways


This response came in from Smagboy:

Dear Broke,

I think that you should tell your workmate that you've given your aunt a few thousand dollars to be used to purchase gifts, from you, to present at his baby shower (which, unfortunately, you'll be unable to attend as you'll be out of town). That way, your workmate will know to expect the gifts from you aunt. Make sure to tell him that you've instructed your aunt to buy only the finest mixed-race, Kevin and Scotty-endorsed, Angelina Jolie-inspired goods. Give him your aunt's telephone number, e-mail address and street address. No need to tell you aunt about this, by the way. As a matter of fact, I discourage it.

I believe this will solve two of your three problems. Your aunt will be pissed and never speak to you again, nor will your workmate. Either that or they'll find love in each others' shallowness and never bother you again. Now, for you wife, might I suggest, reading to her (1 Cor 2:15) instead of (7:12-14). This verse will allow her to feel justified in leaving you faster than a crack of lightning. You may believe that to be a problem, but you'll then be free to start a new life, without three of the loads with which you're currently burdened. That may unbreak you considerably and might actually begin to heal.


The Smag

Thursday, December 17, 2009

DP Dec 17: One-by-one

LW1: Two gay dads are about to adopt twins. They plan to not use diapers, and will raise their beautiful children in organic bliss. How to tell their guests at the baby shower not to bring plastic or polyester? Prudie puts them in their place, in particular about the diapers.
These future fathers need many more of these smack-downs. I really wouldn't worry much about the diapers thing. They'll learn fast enough. As to the shower, it sounds like these cretins are -- gasp! -- hosting their OWN baby shower. Big no-no, so no need to give them advice on how to make their rude event even ruder.

(Now you know why people are really against gay adoption.)

LW2: Only child had serious expenses during his mother's illness and death. Has learned that his aunt received cash donations from friends to cover costs, but she hasn't paid anything. Prudie says to tell her it's time to cough up.
I like Prudie's advice. And I'd go further: small claims court.

LW3: LW's friend is having an affair, and wants LW (and LW's wife) to lie to give him an alibi. Prudie says not to cover.
I don't get this bit: "I declined to lie to his wife. He said he had already told her I was going, so I didn't really have a choice. I had to tell my wife about this situation, just in case she ran into Jason's wife." You didn't have to do any of that. It's his problem, let him deal with it. At least he's getting some tail out of the deal: what's in it for you?

LW4: LW's fiancé is an atheist. They'll be spending Xmas with her (Christian) family, and he refuses to go to Xmas Eve service (where LW's father will be performing). Prudie says if he refuses to make this minor effort, it's time to think about having him in LW's life.
Non-believer here, too, but the fiancé is being a drip. If you plan on having a family with this guy, think of all the school plays, pageants, and recitals a parent needs to sit through. If he can't make it through a festive church service with some decent entertainment, he's not cut out to be a dad.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Improv Everywhere at the neighborhood supermarket

Just back from the Casino supermarket (that's the name of the chain), where I witnessed an Improv Everywhere-type happening, with people "spontaneously" dancing in the aisles. Fun!

Started out with this one crazy-looking woman in the chocolate section. She looked crazy, so why not? Then saw a few more young women dancing. The music was quite bopping (All I Want for Christmas Is You), but still... After a commercial break, a slow came on, and a couple of girls started dancing, until this woman came by and made the "cut" signal with her fingers. Party pooper!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

DP Dec 10: All-in-one

Original letters HERE.

Dear Prudie,

My wonderful ex husband was a Catholic priest defrocked for messing with some choirboys. I divorced my husband Jesus to leave the nunnery and marry my ex. We ended up getting a divorce, but share custody of our 8-year-old son.

Our formerly wonderful son recently announced that he thinks he's gay. We cannot legally throw his sinning ass out in the street until he's 16, but in the meantime, my husband has decided to teach the boy a lesson or two. His first step was to tell our son that there is no Santa Claus. My son is understandably upset, and I don't know what to do.

In the meantime, ever since the divorce, I've had to go back to work, in a badly paid entry-level position in a small firm. There's a lot of pressure to contribute the equivalent of a week's salary to buy the boss a present, as well as to pay for one's one meal at the company holiday dinner party. It's really a burden on me Prudie, and I just don't know what to do!

I figure I have two alternatives. Either in lieu of a monetary contribution, I put on a show with one of the girls from the convent, or I sell my son on the open market to raise some cash. I figure the second option would kill all sorts of birds with one stone, but can I do it without my husband's permission?


Putting the X in Xmas

DP Dec 10: One-by-one

LW1 is a divorced mom who complains that her ex has told their 8-year-old son that there is no Santa. Prudie says to pay attention to state of her child. It's not the end of the world, even if Dad is a meany.
Evil dad. Eight is old enough to ask the question: "what is Santa Claus?". Your child may have an answer that goes beyond a fat guy in a red suit...

LW2 is an underpaid young worker in small firm is being pressured to chip in 75 bucks for gift for boss, as well as pay her own way at company Xmas dinner. Prudie says to say she can't afford it. Duh.
Prudie's advice is good. But I will just point out the "take it to HR" BS. Most people work in small companies without much or any HR. HR in most of these firms is an accountant or some other staffer dealing with payroll, not someone with the job of dealing with workplace lifestyle issues. That being said, does this company give a Xmas bonus? If so, it better be a good deal more than USD 75. And if not, WTF with the gift for the boss????

LW3 is a woman whose husband is a picky gift receiver, who returns or gives away even the most thoughtful gift. Prudie says to stop giving him gifts, and instead make a charitable donation in his name.
Again, good advice. Your husband may have wonderful qualities, but for this aspect at least, he's a real douche. Megadouche. How much can this guy care about you and those he's supposed to love if his only reaction to receiving a sign of your affection for him is to insult you all?

LW4 is a gay man whose family has rejected him for the last 14 years (that his parents were a priest and a nun who got kicked out of the Church for fornication makes it just a wee bit more piquant). Should he ignore their hatred of him for the holidays? Prudie says to speak honestly to mom (who is a psychologist, adding even more piquancy to her crap).
You owe nothing to these people. Don't let them or anyone else guilt you into feeling like you have to pretend to love these haters. Enjoy your life, be thankful for the people who do love you for who you are, and who don't pretend to love you because of some genetic connection.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

DP Dec 3: One-by- one

The originals are HERE.

What a boring lot (except for LW4, which is either trollish or just stupid).
LW1: LW and BF have good jobs. Their friends don't. LW and BF are getting rid of their cleaning lady. BF wants to hire friends.
>BF is proof you don't need to be smart to get a good job.
LW2: LW has well-paid coworker/friend who has been observed stealing from the department fridge.
>Coworker/friend has a problem. Prudie's advice seems good if this person is a friend. If she weren't, I'd just report her to her superior.
LW3: LW worried because she knows that people are work aren't always washing their hands after using the terlets.
>Perhaps Prudie's going to actually answer the question next week. Washing your own hands more often doesn't prevent the E Coli your colleagues have kindly deposited in the bowl of eggnog from making you sick. How about some posters in the john? On the door on the way out? I was at a place the other day where there was a sign suggesting people use the paper hand wipe to turn the door handle. That's a good reminder that you have no idea what other people have left on it, and perhaps a good reminder to those who don't wash their hands that they should.

That being said... when men take a leak, they don't necessarily wash their hands after, and I doubt that is a health risk.
LW4: LW's brother is crazy. Years ago LW and brother picked up a hitchhiker and brought him home. LW went to bed, leaving brother and hitcher drinking. Next morning, no hitchhiker. Did brother kill the dude?
>Huh? Mildly entertaining, but not a real letter. A grown person with a crazy brother picks up a hitchhiker (who does that now?) and... brings him home. Right. And in any case, why do you care now? Too bogus to believe.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sarkozy pouts because cool-kid Obama doesn't want to play with him

In the story below, we see that the Petit Nicolas has issues because Obama refused to give him his personal cell phone number or something. There'll be no bromance between Barack and Nico. What kills me in this story is this quote: "Obama est au pouvoir depuis un an et il a déjà perdu trois élections partielles. : « Obama est au pouvoir depuis un an et il a déjà perdu trois élections partielles. Moi, j’ai gagné deux législatives et les européennes. Qu’est-ce qu’on aurait dit si j’avais perdu ?" (Obama has been in power for a year, and he's already lost three by-elections. I've won two legislative elections and the European elections. What would people have said if I lost them?)

And this: "Le niveau de pression dans une société est le même, que vous fassiez une réforme ou dix. Mais, si vous n’en faites qu’une, la pression se met sur cette réforme. C’est ce qui se passe avec Obama et la réforme de la santé." (The level of pressure in a society is the same, whether you carry out one reform or ten. But if you only do one, all the pressure is on that reform. That's what's happening with Obama and health reform.)

Story in Le Parisien :
Sarkozy déçu par son «copain» Obama
Le chef de l’Etat français espérait entretenir un dialogue privilégié avec son homologue américain. Mais leur relation est marquée par une réelle froideur.

Nicolas Sarkozy aurait tant voulu construire une relation privilégiée avec Barack Obama. Pouvoir lui téléphoner quand il le souhaite, le rencontrer régulièrement en tête à tête lors des sommets internationaux, échanger idées et stratégies. « Quand Obama sera en fonction, je le vois plutôt comme une aide que comme un problème.

Vous avez vu le monde, il est vaste, on peut être deux, trois ou quatre », disait-t-il à son propos, début 2009. Mais, depuis l’installation du président américain à la Maison-Blanche, le locataire de l’Elysée a dû se faire une raison : il est traité comme un leader parmi d’autres, ni plus ni moins. « Au début, cela l’a affecté, reconnaît un proche. Maintenant, il en a pris son parti, mais une forme d’irritation persiste encore. »

Le chef de l’Etat trouve que l’opinion internationale est bien trop clémente envers Obama qui, pour l’instant, n’a pas montré grand-chose. En privé, Sarkozy ne loupe pas une occasion d’égratigner le président américain, celui qu’il appelait son « copain » pendant la campagne présidentielle. Au début du mois, devant quelques journalistes, il se lâche : « Obama est au pouvoir depuis un an et il a déjà perdu trois élections partielles. Moi, j’ai gagné deux législatives et les européennes. Qu’est-ce qu’on aurait dit si j’avais perdu ? » Et d’ajouter à propos de la façon de gouverner de son homologue : « Le niveau de pression dans une société est le même, que vous fassiez une réforme ou dix. Mais, si vous n’en faites qu’une, la pression se met sur cette réforme. C’est ce qui se passe avec Obama et la réforme de la santé. »

Le président américain «est froid avec tout le monde, c’est dans sa nature »

Sur le plan international, les critiques de l’Elysée sont féroces. « Lui accorder le prix Nobel de la paix était une erreur, assène un conseiller. Sa politique de la main tendue vis-à-vis des pays jusqu’ici tenus à l’écart ne lui a valu que des claques en retour. La Corée du Nord, l’Iran : il n’a que des échecs. »
A quelques jours de l’ouverture du sommet de Copenhague (du 7 au 18 décembre), Paris trouve Washington bien trop timide au sujet de la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique. Hier pourtant, la Maison-Blanche a annoncé qu’Obama se rendrait le 9 décembre à Copenhague « afin de donner un élan aux négociations ». Nicolas Sarkozy, qui se rend aujourd’hui à Manaus (Brésil) et demain à Trinité-et-Tobago, dans les Caraïbes, veut convaincre les pays amazoniens et ceux du Commonwealth de faire pression sur les Etats-Unis. Avec comme objectif final une « réduction mondiale d’au moins 50 % d’ici à 2050 par rapport à 1990 » des émissions de gaz à effet de serre. Pas gagné.

Néanmoins, même si les frictions se multiplient, la guerre est loin d’être déclarée entre les deux pays. « Sur de nombreux dossiers antiterrorisme, traque policière, renseignement, retour des investisseurs en Irak , le couple Sarkozy-Obama fonctionne parfaitement, observe Nicole Bacharan, politologue, spécialiste de la relation franco-américaine. Pour Obama, Sarkozy reste un allié indispensable. Il est froid avec lui, mais il est froid avec tout le monde, c’est dans sa nature. »

Monday, November 23, 2009

Experience Austria?

Listening to an mp3 from WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show. from the 5th of October.

The podcast opens with a commercial from the Austrian tourism authority, experienceaustria.comm. 

"Austria is the birthplace of filmmakers Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder. In Austria you can see where they got their inspiration."

All of these artists happened to be Jews who emigrated to the US (some via France) to flee the Nazi regime in Germany and Austria.

I'm not a Godwinner, and I don't believe we can hold contemporary Germans culpable for the deeds of the Nazis. On the contrary, they have been exemplary. Austria, not so much, but I'm still not going to raise my hand and say, "Hitler was Austrian, too". But when the Austrian government forces the question by using persecuted Austrian Jews to sell ski trips to Innsbruck, they do seem to be asking for it, don't they?

So... "Austria is the birthplace of dictator Adolf Hitler. In Austria, you can see where he got his inspiration." Try Carinthia, I hear it's a great place to start.


Am I wrong to find this grossly offensive? Not so sure... Here's an extract, verbatim, from the "History" section of the website:

"In 1918 the first Republic of Austria was established, ending the 640-year old Habsburg dynasty. The young republic suffered massive inflation, unemployment, and near economic collapse. In 1933, the weak coalition government between the Christian-Social and the Social-Democratic parties gave way when Engelbert Dollfuss became Chancellor in 1932 as head of a right-wing coalition government, designed to tackle the problems caused by the Depression. In May 1934 Doffluss declared martial law in order to protect Austria from Hitler. In July Dollfuss was shot and killed by Nazis in an attempted coup.

On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria and the country was incorporated into the German Reich ruled by Adolf Hitler. After the end of World War II in 1945, Austria was restored to its 1937 frontiers and occupied by the victorious allies – the USA, the Soviet Union, the UK, and France – for a decade. "

Let's do a word count:

For the 1930s: 65 words.
For the Anschluss and WWII: 22.

And the regime of Dolfuss, known as Austrofascism, subverted the democratic Constitution and paved the way for the Anschluss by Austrian and German Nazis.

They're asking for it...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Captcha as captcha can

My favorite captcha word of the day:

And from Nov 15:

HS: If it's broken, fix it

A new feature, in which I bitch about broken stuff.

Left Stalingrad on foot, because Jaurès metro station on line 2 is closed. Walked toward Colonel Fabien, hoping to find an automated public toilet (Sanisette).

A new model is being installed throughout the city, but they're still free, which means they tend not to work.

Found one on the place du Colonel Fabien, but no TP. Found another on the boulevard de la Villette at the métro entrance, and it was out of order.

And yesterday, at the Parc de la Villette, saw that the elevators on either side of the footbridge over the canal de l'Ourcq were, as usual, out of order. God forbid a handicapped person wants to enjoy the park... In the years the park has been open, I've been going there about once a month on average, and the elevators have been working on both sides for a total of 5 times. Maybe. Such BS.

Putting men and women on an even playing field...

Back home at the DP Fray, there is a lively discussion about men's right to "abort" an unwanted fetus. This comes out of a very silly vletter from a very silly boy who some girl had the misfortune of sleeping with. That girl is now pregnant, and LW boy is acting as if he has nothing to do with the whole thing.

The question that arises from this is that the woman has the right to end this story, with no say from the man, whereas the man has no rights, but only obligations to the child that will be born if the woman carries the child to term.

I have been considering a solution which would be complicated and costly, but which would solve an awful lot of problems.

The solution is mandatory sterilization of men at puberty. It is far easier to deal with male sterilization and its consequences than female sterilization Each young man would have samples of his semen collected and stored in a variety of locations, so as to ensure that there will always be semen available for him to use.

When he decides to have a child with a woman, she will undergo artificial insemination.

No unwanted children, no birth control mistakes, no women "tricking" men into unchosen pregnancies. Both parties must be willing to participate, and one can even imagine that women need to notify a central registry of their insemination, ensuring that the father is absolutely certain that he is the father.

"En régions" or "en province"? Politically correct BS

My whine of the day.

I really get riled by the increasing use of the expression "en régions" which has replaced "en province" for right-thinking French people.

"En province" is used to describe that part of France that is not Paris. "La Province", for many Parisians, is the boonies, a hellhole where you go to enjoy your country home or for vacation, but which you have thankfully left behind forever as a place to live, having "gone up" to Paris. The inhabitants of "la Province" are hicks and hayseeds, incapable of appreciating the finer things in life (like traffic jams and pollution).

Naturally, sùome people's feeling were hurt, and someone decided it was politically incorrect to describe 90 of France in this disparaging fashion. And so was born the expression "en régions". A "région" is one of the 20-odd administrative regions of France (Upper Normandy, Midi-Pyrénées, Brittany, Lorraine...). By saying "en régions" rather than "en province", the delicate feelings of the Provincials are protected.

Please note that I have never met a Provincial who cares one way or another about this. This is a made-up grievance as seen from the Parisian perspective, which can only see the world as being divided into Paris vs everywhere else. That Provincials may be perfectly happy with their lives in the Provinces, that people can achieve personal fulfilment and professional success beyond the ring road, does not occur to them.

Anyway, these crazy people, who do control the way language is used, since they control the media, business, and politics, have decided we should say "régions" and "en régions" rather than "Province" and "en province". This is stupid, annoying, and ultimately useless.

First, it is inappropriate. Paris is part of the region Ile-de-France, which takes its name from the Ancien Régime province to which it very roughly corresponds. This region used to be known as the "Région parisienne", a name that is still used unofficially. So "en régions" by definition includes Paris, which is not the aim of those who use this term. "En province" at least has the historic use of "province" in opposition to "Paris" on its side.

And there's the real problem. Those saying "en régions" believe they are removing the stigma of the term "provincial", when they are in fact merely reproducing an age-old opposition that corresponds to a real phenomenon, and that is only perjorative for those who believe that Paris is the be-all and end-all of human existence. As long as you use "en régions" to make a distinction between Paris and the rest of France, you're changing the words without solving the problem (or the perceived problem).

Political, economic and social power in France is concentrated in Paris. That's a fact, and one that does justify a distinction between Paris and the rest of the country. In certain professions, success does mean success in Paris. And if you want to be at the cutting edge of what's going on in fashion or the arts, Paris is probably the place to be. But if you want to have the time and money to actually enjoy culture, to profit from the resources of your community, you're probably better off in the provinces, where costs are lower, where you spend less time commuting and have more time for leisure, and where you can find a wide range of cultural and social opportunities.

I'm happy to live in Paris, but unlike those soft-hearted souls who think they're sparing someone's feelings, I don't think that makes me better than my neighbors in the provinces.

Vive la France, vive la Province!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The last name plan

A serious post here, regarding my very own perfect plan for solving the dilemma of whether a woman should take her husband's name or not.

The answer is: not.

A problem with solutions that involve joining the wife's name and the husband's name is that over the generations, these names get out of hand.

My plan involves each person having a double last name. At marriage, each person keeps one of those names, and joins it with the name of his/her partner to form a new double last name that is given to the couple's children.

Here's how it works:


At marriage, a person keeps the first part of the double last name, and adds his or her partner's name.

A woman would take the name: MATERNALNAME-HUSBANDSPATERNALNAME. Her husband would take the name: PATERNALNAME-WIFESMATERNALNAME.

Their female children would have the double name of the wife, and the male children the double name of the father.


John Apple-Bacon marries Mary Chestnut-Dogwood.
John's married name is John Apple-Chestnut. Mary's married name is Mary Chestnut-Apple.

John and Mary have a daughter, named Francesca Chestnut-Apple, and a son, named Hernando Apple-Chestnut.

Francesca marries a woman named Regina Soy-Burger. Francesca's married name is Francesca Chestnut-Soy. Regina's married name is Regina Soy-Chestnut.

Hernando marries a woman named Margot Lye-About, and takes the name Hernando Apple-Lye.

All the above are conventions that can be modified as people see fit. But they offer an overall structure that ensures that women keep their matronymic heritage. That each partner in a couple brings a contribution to a common family name, and that family relationships can be traced rather than erased in family names.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

DP Nov 19: One-by-one

The letters be HERE.
LW1: Craaaaazzzzzy. Or stuuuupid. Or booooooth. Guess what: these are your inlaws' cards, not yours. You can send any kind of card you want to your own family and friends (got any of those, you freak?). And how dare your inlaws be pleased that their children find partners of their own and bring them into the family circle. This sounds like a rather nice family circle. Why don't you stay out of it and make everyone happy? Alternatively, you could sit for the photo and pout. You sound good at that.
LW2: What she said, again. How in the world are you even contemplating staying with this man? Oh yeah. He's wonderful... but. You too, lady, are a freak.
LW3: Freak! Leave that poor dying man alone. Or not. My first reaction is that this is just too icky. But then I think, why shouldn't he get some while he can? My only worry is that she's too into the dying thing. If he weren't terminal, what would the answer be? Medical secretary/patient does not sound like a dealbreaker.
LW4: I'd rather have any gun-related discussions far from my home, and handled by someone else. Does the 2nd Amendment give everyone the right to terrorize their family members?

DP Nov 19: All-in-one

Dear Prudie,

Last week I wrote you about my refusal to be part of my future husband's family's holiday photo/greeting card. I sure took a lot of flak from you and your readers!

In my haste to get your advice, I may have left out some important information, which I'd like to add to support my "case".

First of all, their name is not really "Smith". It's "Peesucker". I am keeping my name, and my husband is taking mine in order to be free from a lifetime of insults and derision. I really don't want to have my identity associated with the name "Peesucker", especially since my first name is Polly.

Something you all need to know is that all the women in the photo are expected to dress in flesh-tone lingerie. My father-in-law (actually my husband's stepfather) explains that ever since they moved down to Florida, they love to stick it to their old friends and neighbors back in Minnesota and show off the balmy temperature down here. I've always felt that as a rather plain girl, I shouldn't try to flirt or show off, and I just can't see myself nearly naked on a photo sent to a bunch of complete strangers, and before I'm even officially part of the family.

Another reason for my concern is "Uncle Pete", my fiancé's mother's brother. Pete has just been released from prison after serving a two-year prison term for involuntary manslaughter, a charge to which he plea bargained after a mysterious "hunting accident". With the support of the NRA, he's fighting the ban on firearms permits to felons, and has received a temporary order from a judge to grant him the right to carry a variety of handguns and rifles, which he takes full advantage of. Since part of the family tradition is to get everyone "in the holiday spirit" by serving ample quantities of eggnog (and not the child-friendly stuff), I worry about being the victim of a tinsel-bedecked tragedy.

Perhaps the biggest reason for not wanting to be part of this family photo is the presence of Gretchen, my husband's first cousin. Gretchen works as a medical secretary for a well-known oncologist, and sees the endless stream of dying men who come to the practice as her personal dating pool. Because she favors guys with less than three months to live, we never see the some one twice. I have enough problems remembering names without having to meet a new chemoboy every time I see her.

If all this doesn’t help you see my request in a new light, here's the killer: that flesh-toned lingerie? It's hand knit by my fiancé's grandmother. And it's in mohair!


Won't Say "Cheese"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wait, Wait, it's Sarkozy

I'm a fan of NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, and they did a nice job of the "Nicolas Sarkozy in Berlin" story.

Host Peter Sagal: Sarkozy said he tried to get to Berlin, but says he was stopped by that sign reading "You must be this tall to tear down that wall", with a little picture of a border guard holding his arm out. This has cast doubt on other Facebook photos he's posted in recent months, like the one showing him stepping out of Apollo 11 onto the Moon, captioned "One small step for one small man".

Panelist Tom Bodett: How about that one where he's standing in front of that beautiful former supermodel woman?

PS: Carla Bruni? His actual wife? You don't believe that either?

TB: I'm just saying.

PS: I don't know. You can do wonders with Photoshop. And what would she see in him, you know?

Panelist Kyrie O'Connor: The top of his head, mostly.

[Segment closes with this music:]


And more HERE.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hooligans, and the response thereto

Marc explains the news from France.

The stories HERE and HERE.

So this "marketing" company Mailorama wants to do a promotional event. They decide to copy a stunt done elsewhere (USA, USA!) by giving away cash in the street. A scandalous idea for the French political elite, who want to downplay the desperate financial situation of many French people (see the Yes Men getting Sarkozy's BFF Patrick Balkany explaining that "poor" people in France are simply those who buy foie gras in bulk just below), who want to deny that the French are just as greedy as those corrupt Anglo-Saxon capitalists, and who want to blame those that exploit poverty rather than work to eliminate it.

(This reminds me of the scandal caused during a Socialist government by a rent-to-own firm. The deals offered by the firm were dreadful in financial terms, with purchase plans that were usurous, but that at least offered those without access to credit a possibility to obtain some goods that society tells them they must have, like color TVs. Rather than worry about the financial illiteracy of the French, an illiteracy shared by much of the political class, or the existence of poverty, the government of the time blamed those that would "exploit" poverty by offering the poor a choice.)

Anyway, the giveaway was announced for last week behind the Ecole Militaire, not far from the Eiffel Tower. A huge crowd arrived. The police told the organizers that the situation was dangerous (natch), so the organizers called off the distribution. A riot ensued, with a car burned, stores pillaged, the police attacked, etc. Typical French civism, in short, and totally predictable when you tell a bunch of greedy and/or poor people they're not getting the handout they were promised.

The Ministry of the Interior says it's going to prosecute the organizers. The organizers say they had a permit from the Police. The police say they didn't give a permit, and couldn't ban the event because it's only a minor infraction to distribute money in public (yes, it's against the law to distribute money in public in France... only the State can do that, when it serves its interest, for example with the special grant families with children receive for Christmas). Oddly enough, the police manage to ban all sorts of events when it suits them.

Basically, they fucked up, and now the State is going to sue, sue, sue those responsible (well, those they claim are responsible).

Now on to our other story. Last month, the match between the Paris Saint Germain and the Olympique de Marseille football teams was called off at the last minute. There were questions about a mini-swine flu epidemic on the Paris team, but the Federation decided to wait until the day of the match, after many Parisian thugs had arrived in Marseille or were on their way there, to cancel the match. As is typical during a Paris-Marseille match, there was rioting, but even more so than usual.

Similarly, last weekend there was a match between Egypt and Algeria. Algeria lost, so of course, there was rioting in Marseille.

On Friday, the PSG-OM match will be held again, and 1000 riot police will be on hand to try to limit the damage.

All this to say... when the fuck will the State ban football matches, or at least make the instigators of this violence (the football clubs and their Federation) pay for the damage caused?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


The RATP guide can be found HERE.

DP Nov 12: All-in-one

Dear Prudie,
Thanksgiving is soon upon us, and I'm dreading our family "celebration". This year my sister-in-law is once again hosting all and sundry, at her insistence, and will give us one of her patented traditional Norman Rockwell-vs-Currier and Ives tableaux of bounty and familial warmth. If we don't come dressed in hand-knit sweaters, she makes us wear one from her stash of thousands of woollen monstrosities. She rents a sleigh or haywagon (depending on the weather) that we all have take a ride on through the subdivision. And God forbid she should use anything store bought or disposable while trying to feed the hordes of family and friends she manages to invite each time.
The result of her desire for a perfect holiday celebration is a very predictable breakdown. Last time, it was provoked by a neighbour choking on a giblet. She leapt across the table, Heimliched the guy, and after assuring herself that he was well, crumpled onto the floor a heaving wreck of gravy-laden humanity, before calling her husband out on the carpet for preferring to watch the football rather than listening to her recount for the tenth time the story of how Fred almost died, and how she saved him, and how traumatic it all was, and how we truly could be thankful this year. All I could think about was how I was going to get stuck handwashing her crystal during her breakdown since she can't imagine using dishwasher-safe glasses. Bitch.I also fear that I will be confronted with my third cousin, a rather plain girl who had the bad idea last time of following her friends' advice to doll up to try to snag herself a man. It's true that with the number of divorced men from the neighbourhood my SIL takes in each year (poor things, alone on Thanksgiving, far from their kids), the pickings are good. But seeing a first-season-4-month-pregnant Peggy Olson trying to pull off a January Jones GQ number does nothing for my holiday appetite, and I ended up blurting out something about sow's ears and silk purses… Things will be even worse this year, since "Peggy" is out of a job, having failed in an attempt to get her boss the dentist to dump his wife by denouncing the insurance fraud his office manager/spouse was engaging in. Guess what: the boss knew, and Peg was out on her keester, with some compromising January Jones-style nude photos she had sent to the doc ensuring that she would keep her mouth shut.I could go on about the horrors I face, but all I really need to know is: when I get my Chinese takeout this year, should I get the salty or sweet soy sauce?


"Giving thanks to Mr. Won down the street this year"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

DP Nov 12: One-by-one

Read the letters HERE.
LW1: Wow. A bit harsh, but probably something to this. For a woman accused of being a man-hater, Prudie was kind of extreme, no? I do think she could give similar advice to a guy. I think guys have an easier time of it because women look at qualities other than appearance (to a degree), but even more because they have better imaginations about what the guy could look like after a bit of fixing up. Women like fixer-uppers, men don't (unless they're Christian Troy or the Jimmy Stewart character in Vertigo).

LW2: SIL didn't get the holiday spirit message, apparently. (She may be happy not to have to deal with this: maybe she's such a bad hostess because she's been saddled with doing Thanksgiving.)

LW3: Hmmm. The right thing to do is to denounce this, of course. But it sounds like that puts ou out of a job pretty quick. Is that important? Can you find another job easily? If so, feel free to do the right thing. If not, you may wish to keep your mouth shut. That should keep you in your job for a while at least. My personal opinion is that if you really think the boss is not aware of his wife's dealings, you should take it to him. I think there are ways of doing this without making it an accusation of his wife. "Gee, Dr. Smith, I was wondering about this bill. It says that L'il Jimmy got a root canal, so should I schedule a follow up visit?" If the cheating stops, that may be the best way to keep yourself employed.

LW4: Solution: breath control, dear!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DP Nov 5: All-in-one

The original HERE.

Dear Prudence,

Although I might be better off writing to Randy Cohen at the NY Times, I figured I'd have a better chance of getting an answer from you. From the number of obviously made-up letters, I can tell you aren't getting that many real ones…

I thought of Randy Cohen first because this is sort of an ethical question. I run a custom design shop for electronics and other goods. Typically an inventor seeking investors will have me put together a prototype based on a design concept they've come up with. But lately I've had a few unusual requests, and I'd like your opinion on them.

The first request was for a "personal massage device". The target market seems to be adolescent girls, because the client is asking for a "My Pretty Pony" model. I'm not sure if that means it's supposed to have a silky tail attached to the end, or maybe something else, but it gives me the willies, for sure. The client has explained that there is a market for "personal massage devices" that look like something else, aimed at teenage girls who are embarrassed about having such things where their parents might find them. Prudie: since when is massage a taboo subject?

The second request comes from a woman who wants me to create an invisible femidom. Why in the world would a woman need such a thing? I would think any woman would be happy for her partner to know she was using such a reliable form of birth control. I did see this episode of Nip/Tuck where Julia was collecting semen to use in her cosmetics line. Prudie: do you think this is that sort of deal? And if so, should I be getting a cut?

The third request comes from a different teenage girl. She's asked me to produce a 1/8-scale version of a traditional bear trap. I'm a little worried, because in the package she sent me, she included a life-size baby boy doll to test the device on. Prudie: who collects life-size baby dolls? That's just too weird for words.

The fourth comes from a client who wants me to devise an invention to automatically lower the toilet seat. That's not really hard to do, but she wants me to incorporate a pair of socks as the elastic band for the device. I'd be happy to do so, but do you think this is hygienic?

These jobs are all a bit of a pain, and my aim is to save time and trouble by combining them into one. I'm going to come up with a toilet seat weight in the form of a personal massage device shaped like a pony's you-know-what, that is hooked onto the toilet seat by a sock that has a plastic lining suitable for use as a discreet femidom. My question to you, Prudie, is: can I charge each client full price, or do I have to give them a discount?


Not your prototypical prototyper

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nicolas Sarkozy single-handedly tore down the Berlin Wall

Marc explains the news from France.

The story HERE.

Actually, that article does a pretty good job of deflating our pathetic inferiority-complex president.

HERE is another, where poor Alain Juppé gets caught out. When you tell a lie, it's best to make sure your accomplices are on the same page. (I say "poor", but of course Alain has done pretty well for himself, as a felon convicted for misuse of public funds....)

This morning on TV channel France 5, he said he was in Berlin on the night of 10-11 November, not on 9 November, the day the Wall fell, although he claims not to remember exactly (one of the most momentous events in recent history).

Earlier, on a video on the Bordeaux city website (after stealing from the city of Paris as Mayor Chirac's right-hand hatchet man, he's moved on to fresh meadows in Bordeaux), and on his municipal blog, Juppé confirms the 9 November date. And other evidence indicates that Juppé went to Berlin on 16 November...

Cat worries

My almost 18-year-old cat seems to have gone deaf and a bit loopy. She stands or sits and stares as if she's observing some invisible animal. I think she's hallucinating. She can still manage to jump on the furniture, with a few misses now and then. But she is decidedly listless and lethargic, showing absolutely no desire to play. The beginning of the end?


Friday, November 6, 2009

DP November 4, 2009: One-by-one

Late today because I was at the Ministry of Health and Sport. Great meeting! Then our first workout at the municipal weight room of Vincennes. And a couple people actually showed up!

The letters are HERE.

LW1: Gosh. You have his great open relationship with your MOMBFF. And yet, you have an "awkward dilemma" [is there any other kind?]. I guess that's a sign that you DON'T NEED TO TALK TO YOUR MOM ABOUT IT. Dumbshit.

LW2: She's got the adjective right, at least. He's wonderful! But sterile. Maybe. Guess what, honey: you might be sterile too. So he least you can do is get tested at the same time. Or first.

LW3: I'm certainly not gonna get on the blame-dad bandwagon. Prudie gave good advice. Alas, this may not be a story with a happy end.

LW4: You're a piece of work, lady. But if you want to have some sort of equivalency, how about washing your bra at the office and leaving it to dry in the john?