Thursday, December 30, 2010

Advice Illustrated: You are so stupid, people

A better lot of letters this week.

Letter 1 is from a man who divorced his wife after she went on a sex strike because he wouldn't commit to having a baby. Now his GF has announced she's pregnant and he's delighted and will be marrying her. Ex is bitter, in particular that he didn't tell her himself, even though they haven't spoken in ages. Was he wrong? Prudence says they both were wrong.
I say: Just how did GF get pregnant? Was it with your consent? It doesn't sound like it. So thanks, dude, for confirming the message that a woman needs to lie and cheat and get knocked up to get a guy to commit.

Letter 2 is from an older person with tight finances whose cross-country friend sent her a gift of cash to visit her. The money transfer went sour, leaving the LW with no money and extra fees. Friend made non-refundable plane reservations, but LW have no money to go now. Friend is demanding a refund. Prudence says too bad for friend.
I say, WTF? How can you deposit an unsigned cashier's check? And why send a cashier's check anyway? Who does that for this kind of transaction? And just how did LW get into trouble because of the check? That was for the trip, not for her car payment, so what was she going to use for the trip? And what was the money for if not the plane ticket, which now appears to have been bought by the friend? Shenanigans!

Letter 3 is from a person whose business partner keeps going walkabout due to grief over loss of a parent (two years ago!). Should LW talk to partner? Prudie says, duh, yes tell her she needs help.
I say, duh.

Letter 4 is from a coed who made the mistake of not attending a university at which virtually all juniors study abroad (they exist!). Her BF of five years (meaning they're an item since they were juniors in HS?) doesn't want her to go abroad because she has no money. She wants to go, but he's holding her back or something. Prudie says go for it, and look for ways to get some funding. And maybe find a new guy on the way.
I say, duh. Although traveling the world and study abroad usually don't work out so well, since when you study abroad, they kind of expect you to attend classes and things. But go for it! And as Dan Savage says, how many people end up marrying their first romantic partner?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Boy do I hate Marie-France Leblanc

Marie-France Leblanc is the "star" of a docu-soap, Family Renovation. It's a Canadian DIY TV show (we get lots of Canadian DIY shows, not many US ones here, probably because the Canadian ones get public funding for dubbing into French, whereas a French TV channel would have to pay to dub a US one).

The woman likes to change houses every year. She also likes to put out the babies and has 5 kids under 11 when she decides it's time for a new house. But buying an exisitng house or having a new one built isn't for her. She has her husband buy a modest existing house so she can add two stories to make it her dream house (for this year). So far this is not outlandish and not TV-worthy, despite being a form of child abuse (she promised her oldest child she would stop making him move every year, but she just hhhhassss to have a new house to make her life better or something). I think it's just so she can have an excuse to have a bunch of guys whose balls she can bust, since her husband's balls are all squishy by now. You would think that his poor busted balls would at least prevent him from impregnating her, but I think she must scare the hell out of his testes every two years to get some baby juice to pop out a new one.

Anyhow, what makes this TV-worthy is that instead of staying in her existing house or renting a house during the work, she decides they're all gonna live in the house as it is gutted and has its roof removed. A house with no roof and no walls during hurrican season in Halifax, a house with no heat for her children as winter comes.

At one point she sends out an APB on space heaters, desperate to warm her frostbitten offspring. No risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire there, of course. And that plastic tarp that seals off the sleeping area will look great when it goes up in flames.

Oh, and what are they sleeping on behind the tarp (the seven of them)? On moldy mattresses. Why are the mattresses moldy? Because although she did have the good sense to schedule the roof removal during their summer vacation, she didn't want the trouble or expense of moving her belongings into storage during that time, so all her belongings suffered water damage from a "surprise" summer thundestorm.

You might think that living in the worksite would at least keep her on top of the project, but she doesn't even get that right. She takes weeks and weeks to order teh windows, preventing the finish work and installation of insulation and siding. She can't make up her mind about the flooring. The only thing that gets her to make a decision there is that her husband wants carpeting in the bedrooms, so of course, that pushes her to decide for wood flooring.

But what makes me really hate this woman is that the noise and disturbance has seriously upset their lovely family dog, which keeps crapping in the basement for the workers to step in.

I hate Marie-France Leblanc.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advice Illustrated

They're here.

Letter 1 is from a dumb, dumb, stupid, foolish, idiot of a woman whose fiancé wants her to get a polygraph test before getting married. LW is addressing an expert on the subject, but you don't need to be one to tell her to please, please, please marry this guy so you can keep Dear Prudie in business for the next 50 years.

Video letter is from a woman whose son's new stepmom dresses like a slut. Prudie says to MHOB. I say, go for it! I look forward to future letters.

Letter 2 is from a woman whose father is eating himself to death. Prudie says to play on his love for his children. I'm saying it won't work, and he's probably gonna die.

Letter 3 is from a woman who has gone without a raise in 10 years, who will be losing some medical coverage, and whose employer expects her to maintain, nay to increase, her mandatory voluntary donations to the company's charity. Prudie says to play it safe and continue to cough up.
I say, again, oh, those foolish French who unionize and defend their rights!

Letter 4 is from a woman whose parents have moved to a smaller house. When she visits,she feels unwelcome. Prudie says to have it out with them.
I say to get a hotel room, and when they ask you why, to tell them then.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advice Illustrated: Ho, ho, ahem

The originals are HERE.

Letter 1 is from a girl whose BFF is sleeping with a teacher. BFF wants LW to cover for her so she can bonk the teacher. Prudie says LW has to tattle to protect other girls from this creep.
I say, I will forgive your stupidity because you are a child. Your friendship with this girl is going to last a few more months, tops, and it's not very friendlike to put you in the position for lying to cover her misbehavior. Please tattle away and get the guy locked up.

Video letter is from a woman who met her husband while she worked as a lap dancer. How do they explain to their snobby neighbors how they met? Prudie says to tell them that she was working as a waitress to put herself through college.
I came up with the same idea, but even lest loose with the truth: say you were working at a bar. Do you really need us to come up with this white lie?

Letter 2 is from a woman who has just lost her baby. They're traveling to spend Xmas with her MIL, who wants Xmas as usual, which for her, requires extensive gift shopping and staying in your home, while LW would prefer gift cards and staying at a hotel. Prudie repeats my wisdom from Monday and tells her that she's a grown-up and she can do as she pleases. And get husband on board.
I say: why is it always the women who have to deal with the MIL? Where are the husbands? If the straights want to keep marriage to themselves, they need to start doing a better job of it!

Letter 3 is from a woman who has traditionally welcomed her daughter's best friend and her children to their Xmas celebration, but who no longer has room for them as her own children have begun coupling and reproducing. She feels bad about no longer extending the invite. Prudie says that that's the way things go sometimes, and to find a different way of involving this family in your celebrations.
I say this is a great pity. This family is now part of your own Xmas tradition, and I would hope you might find a new way of celebrating. If you can't fit everyone around the table, how about a buffet or something? Or two services, one for the kids and one for the adults?

Letter 4 is about no getting thank you notes and college funds and I don't want to recap it cuz I'm tired. What Prudie says will do. And I repeat my question about savings bonds.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advice Illustrated, 2 December 2010: Comfort and joy

The original stuff is HERE.
Letter 1 is from a woman who won't indulge in her husband's desires for BDSM. Should she let him see a professional dominatrix? Prudie says yes (to my surprise).
So do I.

Video letter is from a woman who is friends with a couple that behaves violently with each other. She doesn't feel like staying friends, but thinks her friendly duty requires her to intervene. Prudie says that she can offer some advice, but feel free to leave if they don't change.

Letter 2 is from a woman whose MIL likes to take her daughter out for the afternoon. The problem is that MIL is a terrible driver. Her own daughters refuse to let her drive with their own kids in the car. But LW hates confrontation. Prudie says (rightly) that a mother should be able to get up the nerve to defend her child's life. And where's the father in this? And this woman shouldn't be on the roads to threaten the lives of anyone, not just her grandchildren.
I say, go Prudie! This woman is crazy. Either the MIL is a danger or she's not. And if she is, why in the world would you put your child in danger with her????

Letter 3 is from a Jew who wants to destroy Christmas. No, really, she's a human being who would like to do her job without getting indoctrinated from so-called Christians who think that God's judging them by the number of yards of tinsel they string up. In fact, the religiosity seems pretty mild, and Prudie says so. I say, yes, unless she can do better, this seems pretty run of the mill in terms of God-pushing. Just make sure you request paid days off for all Jewish holidays;

Letter 4 is from a woman whose inlaws want to take the whole family to Vegas for Xmas. She doesn't want to go. Prudie says she doesn't have to go. I say, duh. But why turn down a free trip to Vegas??

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Welcome home to Paris!

Arrive at Gare de Lyon at about 15.10. Want to take bus 20, whose terminus is, helpfully enough, Gare de Lyon. Get to bus stop at about 15.15 (my guess, not wearing a watch). Two number 20s there, lights on, empty with no drivers. Sticker on bus stop says that stop is not in service, and to go somewhere else that is not located on the neighborhood map. Fortunately, just a bit farther down the street is a stop for the 65 bus which will also get me home, but where the display says that the bus won't be leaving for 8 minutes.

See a driver approach the first of those number 20 buses (the ones at the stop that supposedly is not in service) and open the door. I approach and ask him:
"Please, can you tell me when you're leaving?"
He replies but I'm sure I can't have heard him properly, so I repeat the question. This time, the answer's clear:
I beg his pardon, and he repeats:
"Not tomorrow, today. You want to know when I'm leaving? I'm leaving today."
No smile on his face, no sparkle in his eyes. This is not a lame attempt at humor. The guy's just a major asshole.
So I rephrase my question:
"Please, can you tell me what time you're leaving?"
He replies: "At 15.19."
And so, I must ask yet another question:
"Please, can you tell me in how many minutes you're leaving?"
"In two minutes."
"Thank you ever so much, kind sir."

Welcome home to Paris, the land of the asshole.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Advice Illustrated, 24 November 2010 "Give thanks for no Thanksgiving"

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving, but there's not a single mention of the event in this week's letters. Hurrah!

Read the original HERE.

Letter 1 is from a sibling who is worried about their younger brother, aged 22, a victim of an overprotective mother. Prudie says to engage the support of their father, if she can, and get some professional help to let her brother grow up.
I say, have you ever had him to stay with you? Meet new people among your friends? Etc., etc.? Perhaps before getting the shrink in, you can already help him share your independent life.

No new video letter this week. So let's hear a plug for The Sporkful.

Letter 2 is from a bearded guy who's to be the best man at his sister's wedding. Sister insists he shave off his beard. Prudie says to tell her to stuff it. It's him and the beard, or not him.
I say, this is a great excuse to avoid the whole horrible experience of a contemporary wedding.

Letter 3 is from a woman who was cheated out of a job and had a bit of a cry in the parking lot, where the organization's director saw her sobbing. She's embarrassed. Prudie says the real issue is why she was cheated from the job, and the explanation she deserves for that.
I say that if she gets so worked up (not about her disappointment and dismay, but about being seen crying), she is not suited for a position of responsibility.

Letter 4 is from a woman whose husband is a fledgling doctor who shows disrespect and unethical behavior regarding (particularly female) patients. Should she narc him? Prudie says yes.
I say yes and DTMFA. If he's talking like this about women whose confidentiality he has a professional obligation to respect, what is he saying about you?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

World Fencing Championships

I have since learned that my tax euros are subsidizing this, but it was still fun! Thanks to Jochen F. for inviting me to view a bit of the finals in the Tribune présidentielle. Fencing is pretty cool.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Advice Illustrated, 18 November 2010: House rules!

Do people need a reminder that the host chooses the guests and sets house rules? I guess so...

Originals HERE.

Letter 1 is from a woman who told her sister that she would be bringing her BF of 5 months along with BF's daughter and granddaughter (!) to the family Thanksgiving sister hosts. Sister is freaking out because while the rest of the family would tolerate BF, they can't stand the thought of having his brood there, too. LW offered not to come, but sister wants her and BF there. What to do? Prudie says LW should drop in, with various configurations suggested.
I say, why are you inviting guests to another person's social occasion? You say: "I said that I would be inviting a gentleman I have been dating for about five months, as well as his daughter and granddaughter". It's her house, and even on a special case event like TG, she chooses who comes to her house. I can't help wonder if there isn't more going on here than meets the eye, when what meets the eye is that you are a pushy broad. Your sister, however, is a loony if she breaks down and suggests cancelling TG. Back to the rule above: it's her house, her dinner, and she can invite whomever she wants, including your BF's progeny, and barring any horrible past behavior or criminal record, they have nothing to say about it. I suggest having dinner at the IHOP; where you can all have separate booths.

The video letter is from a young woman who works in a small firm where her colleagues are all trying to fix her up with an available male colleague. She would ignore it, but she's into the dude. Prudie says go for it.
I say, yawn. I'm having trouble with my internet today, and I am annoyed having to start and stop and reboot and reload and all sorts of crap to hear this dumb letter.

Letter 2 is from a person whose widowed mother has met a new guy. He now comes to every family celebration, and for reasons undisclosed in the letter, all mention of dad is now off the table (supposedly out of deference to new BF). She complained about this (not sure what) to mom, and they had a fight. Prudie says to apologize to mom but to say that if LW feels she wants to speak about her dad, she will.
I say that there is a problem here... you clearly resent your mother's new partner being part of your family. Tough toenails, girl: he is, so deal. Has your mother asked you not to speak of your father because you are unable to do so in a fashion other than one in which new BF is attacked? Yes, on principle you should of course be talking about your father. But I think there's more going on here.

Letter 3 is from a woman who made the mistake of moving in with a guy and waiting around for him to ask her to marry him. He's not going to (because she's snooped around looking for a ring, and nada). Now, while she's invited to his folks' for TG, her parents aren't, because they're not married. Prudie says it's time for her to use that piehole for something other than the pumpkin variety (and BJs) and to SPEAK TO THIS GUY. First, about his rude parents, then about their future.
I say, hell yes! Or maybe go on a sex strike. It's the perfect passive-aggressive response to such situations. (Although an explicit sex strike would be fine: something like: "If we're not enough of a couple for my parents to join us for TG, we're certainly not enough of a couple for you to put your penis in my vagina".)

Letter 4 is from a woman who hosts the family TG. She doesn't like smoking in the house, so has told the smokers that they'll need to go outdoors or in the garage. She's made an exception for her 91-yo grandmother, and that has opened the door to all sorts of whining from the smokers. Prudence very stupidly says that grandmother needs to follow the rules.
I say: HUH? It's her house, she sets the rules, and she can create the reasonable and non-capricious exceptions to the rules. This is why we need laws creating non-smoking areas: because smokers are often boors who don't respect other people, including their guests. And this is why people can't stand militant non-smokers like Prudie, who are unable to get over their loathing of the cigs to allow an old lady a little pleasure in comfort.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Advice Illustrated, 11 November 2010: Let's give thanks

The original are HERE.

There are Christmas chocolates in the supermarkets, and Thanksgiving letters to Prudie. Happy holidays!
Letter 1 is from a woman who lies, lies, lies. She recently lied to her husband about spending money at a day spa, and now he thinks she's lying about the paternity of their future first child. Prudie says she needs to get help, and to convince her husband that she's serious about breaking the lying habit.
I say LW should give thanks for such a patient husband. LW is too immature to bring a child into this world. Give it up for adoption or leave it with your husband and go far, far away until you can learn to face "confrontation".

The video letter is from a young woman whose boobs are too big. She's going to have a breast reduction. What should she tell people? Prudie says it's not polite for people to notice any change. Ignore any untoward comments or questions.
I say you should give thanks you have the means to get the breast reduction. And that if anyone asks what happened to your boobs, you reply: "What do you think?" and turn your back to them in a move that will now present fewer issues with rotational inertia.

Letter 2 is from a parent whose teen daughter has just been diagnosed with Asperger's. LW realizes why family Thanksgivings have always been so trying for her, and wants to have a small nuclear family version this year. But how to explain their absence from the big family bash? Prudie suggests saying what she has just written, but to find a way of letting her be part of the family do.
I say you should give thanks you have a loving family, and that you should listen to Prudie and stop treating your daughter as if she had suddently become this fragile flower to keep in the hothouse. What's the big difference now that you know? If you managed to get through Thanksgiving before the diagnosis, why not now? And with your knowledge, you should be able to make it much more enjoyable for everyone.

Letter 3 is from a woman whose mother refuses to let her host Thanksgiving, because people like to eat "good food" for that festive meal. Prudie says not to boycott T'ing, and to be sensitive to her mother's fears of becoming a useless old hag.
I say let's give thanks we live in a country where we're free to stop celebrating Thanksgiving. It seems to provide as much tsuris and strive as joy and good-feeling.

Letter 4 is from a woman who's boss had an affair with a coworker and left the firm for a while. Now he's back, which is better for the firm. But at LW's workplace shower, LW blurted out a comment about manager's qualifications to offer marriage advice. Everyone laughed but she feels horrible. Prudie says that it's no big deal, but she should apologize.
I say let's give thanks this is the only problem you've had holding an inappropriate social event at work. Enough with Thanksgiving, enough with bridal showers, enough with mixing the personal and the professional. You may continue to celebrate Christmas.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Assembly of Non-European Parisians

Today I sat for the first time on the Assembly of Non-European Parisians (Assemblée des Parisiens Extra-Communautaires). I have already served on the equivalent body for the 20th Arrondissement. They are a consultative council that exists mostly in left-wing cities, to offer representation for residents who don't have the right to vote.

France is one of the most backward countries in Europe in terms of the right to vote for long-term residents. The bare minimum required by European treaties applies: EU citizens who reside in France can vote in local and European elections. A Romanian who have lived in France for 6 months can vote, while an Algerian who have lived for 60 years in France cannot.

This would not be such an issue if it were easy to become a French citizen, but it's not at all the case. And so there are large numbers of people who have lived for years in France without the right to vote. These foreign residents councils are designed to defend the rights of foreign residents and promote their right to vote.

Anyhoo, the 20th Arrondissement has 10 delegates to the Parisian Assembly, which met for its new term for the first time today. Things were handled very well. We were welcomed at the entrance to City Hall and sent up for coffee and breakfast pastries in one of the splendid reception rooms overlooking the Seine.

When it came time to open the session, the bailiffs came to lead us to the chamber of the Paris City Council, a room full of wood and history. The deputy mayor for local democracy gave the welcoming speech, followed by the deputy mayor in charge of foreign residents, who ran the meeting.

The main business of the meeting was the choice of the executive committee, made up of one rep from each Arrondissement. We also had to vote on setting up various committees, and choose the committees we'll be serving on. I chose urban planning and development. Will see what happens with it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Advice Illustrated, 4 November 2010 "Do I have to?"

The original are HERE. The quality of letters seems to be improving a bit. Good job, Slate interns!

The question du jour seems to be "Do I have to?". The answer, usually, is "no". Unless it's "Yes, but fake it".

Letter 1 is from a guy who got away from a drug-addict abusive mother and saved his half brother from a similar fate. Now Mom is indigent, and her parents want LW to support her financially. Prudie says he would be a fool to go without even the most extravagant luxury to help that nasty person.
I say: ditto.

The video letter is from a "sex-starved newlywed". She wants lots of it with her husband, who's only up for it three times a week. She hates initiating. Prudie says that three times a week is OK, but he should be wanting it, not be pushed into it. They need to talk and he has to be encouraged to initiate. If not, get help.
I say: you're newleyweds. It's time to find a man who can meet your needs. I'm sure the Fray can provide many self-proclaimed champs at that.

Letter 2 is from a woman who's tired of the putdowns from her hosts when she attends her husband's cousins annual Thanksgiving dinner. Her husband won't defend her, and she doesn't know if she can defend herself. Prudie says to at least get the husband to acknowledge the hurtfulness of his cousin's behavior. Then she needs to either speak up or put up, or go elsewhere for Thanksgiving.
I say that unless we know just what this dig is, it's hard to know if LW is oversensitive or not. I like Prudie's suggestion for a response. I like even better the suggestion of going elsewhere for Thanksgiving.

Letter 3 is from a woman whose otherwise successful daughter has gone soap-free, because she just loves her natural body oils (and can no longer smell her natural body odor). Should LW butt in? Prudie says yes.
I say: if your mother can't tell you, who can? (And if she really wants to reduce her carbon footprint, she can jump in front of a Prius.)

Letter 4 is from an employee who just can't join in during the motivational pep rallies her employer puts on. Prudie says that she's fine there in the back of the room, and just needs to up the feigned enthusiasm a notch to be considered as a low-normal rather than an asocial misfit.
I say: Between iPhone apps, Facebook, the Fray and pep rallies, when do Americans actually work?

Photoshopped ministers

Marc explains the news from France:

Christine Lagarde is a former lawyer with one of the top US-based international corporate law firms. She's now the French Minister of Finance. And like just about every minister, she is also an elected official to one or more local or regional offices. In her case, she is a member of the Paris City Council and the Municipal Council of the 12th Arrondissement. And like just about every other minister, she never actually does much as a local elected official.

Given that she rarely visits the 12th (too low-end for her?), how to give voters the impression that she actually represents them? The solution found by the publishers of her right-wing party's local newsletter was to Photoshop her into a local scene. And along the way, to remove her bling, so as not to offend the poor working folk of the 12th.

This reminds one of the cover photo of Rachida Dati in Le Figaro (published by Friend of Sarkozy Dasault), where her expensive rings were Photoshopped out of the picture.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Advice Illustrated, 28 October 2010: "Secret toxins"

This week we've got a bit of a theme: secrets about toxins and toxic secrets.

Read the originals HERE.

Letter 1 is from a dude who was invited to his GF's family's vacation home. Family is anti-sex-before-marriage, so they slept in separate bedrooms, but GF convinced LW to have a romp in the backyard, where semi-senile grandma saw them. Now everyone thinks grandma's ready for the home. Should they fess up? Prudie says yes. She also says it's crazy that the family's puritanical values could jeapardize the future of his relationship, and that it's time to put his foot down and tell them to stuff it. Like he stuffs their virginal daughter.
I say that the GF is a nympho slut. They were there for a WEEKEND. You can't wait 48 hours? When you accept an invitation to someone's home, you accept the house rules. Rules on unmarried people having sexual relations in the house (and that includes the yard, in my book) are old fashioned but they are not unreasonable. Of course you have to fess up and accept the consequences. And you might find those consequences less troublesome if you show proper respect for your hosts and contrition for breaking the house rules.

The video letter is once again sponsored by a far-right firm involved in a multi-level marketing scheme. And the writer is about a woman who is paranoid about catching oral herpes. She thinks that persons seem offended when she tells them that they are dirty and contagious Thyphoid Marys. Prudence says she does not need to explain, but that it's likely LW is given off her germophobic vibes bigtime.
I say that LW is a silly germophobe. Large numbers of people have the herpes virus and it's not a huge problem. I wonder if LW, who is so "health conscious" is actually... healthy.

Letter 2 is from a woman whose wedding was RUINED by the post-wedding knowledge that her father was boinking the wedding planner. LW's parents kissed and made up, but LW's memories of the event are RUINED because she knows the TRUTH of what was happening then. She wants to renew her vows for her 15th anniversary, but just how does she justify doing that? Prudie says she doesn't like renewing vows, that she's giving this woman too much power, and that in any case there is no need to explain the decision to renew.
I say that LW is just looking for a reason to bitch about her wedding 15 years ago. So I suggest including the story of how this hussy RUINED YOUR WEDDING in the invitation. An insert card will do. Amazing that it's the sight of the OW that makes you sick, but not that of your dad.

Letter 3 is from a person has accidentally learned that a coworker doing the same job but with less experience but a higher degree is getting paid much more than her. How can she bitch about it? Prudie says there are any number of reasons the coworker is earning more, and that there is no need to bring it up, but that LW can base her future salary negotiations on this knowledge.
I say that the coworker is doing her job much better: her job is getting as much financial compensation as possible for her time and work. You are 6000 USD less competent than her. (We all know that a significant fraction of the wage gap between men and women is due to women's inability or discomfort in bargaining hard for salary.)
I do wonder if the "leak" might not have been intentional...

Letter 4 is from a woman who believes she had had food poisoning from meals made by friends and wants to know if she can keep up the friendship while refusing future dinner invites. Prudie says to invite them over and tell them that their food made her sick.
I say you can refuse invitations but keep up the relationship. Invite them to your place, go out to dinner, go to the theater or movies... Or just put up with the risk of puking.