Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

A superconcise look at France this week III

by Alex in Toulouse Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 10:32:49 AM EST

Week from September 27th to October 3rd.

Previous installments:

Week II - Tuesday, September 26th
Week I - Tuesday, September 19th

Most uneventful event of the week

September 29th - Enzo it is

2007's ranking of decided first names in France is out! (video news link (in French)).
Clara, Louane, Emma, and Maëlys will top the women's rankings, while Matheo, Mathis, Enzo and Noah will top the men's rankings. Making an astounding progress in the men's rankings are Ethan, Evan and Kyllian.

Most sordid event of the week

October 2nd - Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

In July 2005, Antoine De Souza caused contusions to the stomach, the legs, the back, caused a cranial traumatism, broke two teeth, one vertebra, and one rib, and burst the spleen of Alain Billaut, nicknamed "Linlin", with multiple non-identified objects (a crowbar at least is suspected). Firemen arrived just in time to save his life as he had lost a huge amount of blood. The victim now has all sorts of health impediments as a result of being beaten up. Well, that was then. How is this sordidly related to this week? Simple: on this day the prosecution issued the sentence it was asking the tribunal for: 16 months of probationary prison (not a single month of actual prison).

"Linlin" is the local village simpleton in Maillé (Vendée), with the estimated mental age of an 8 year old. He is recognized as 80% handicapped, mentally deficient, and under the State's supervision. He is the village's black sheep, a distinction which originated when he was a child. Playing with kids "his age", he had pushed another child into the water, a child who didn't know how to swim. Immediately the rumour that he had tried to kill that child spread around. As an adult (39 years old), "Linlin" doesn't do things like everyone else. He uses a horse to plow land, takes stuff from the recycling bins, ties his carriage to the War Memorial or to the church's door. And when someone scolds him, he persists, like a child. If one day he picks up a bicycle destined to the bin, people say he steals it. He is "responsible" for everything that happens in the village, is accused of everything.

On the night that "Linlin" was beaten, his neighbour, De Souza, tired of rags hanging too close to the hedge that seperates the two houses, tired of the noise of "Linlin's" goat's chain, tired of engine noises at night, went beserk because of a hay fire's smoke and a plow that bumped into his hedge. Today, a majority of the village's 750 inhabitants support De Souza and the mayor has even organised a support committee and launched a petition in town hall.

Libération article on this (in French)

Addendum: Shopping for groceries yesterday, I was standing in front of tuna cans, hesitating. This short woman comes up to my right, and starts going for shrimp cans that are high on the top shelf, out of her reach. And a catastrophe is imminent. So I offer to help, put my arm forward, and she bursts out, slapping her hand in mid-air like a kung-fu chop: "TAA! TAAAAA! TA TA!", looking very angry. I'm of course very surprised, but instead of gasping "oh dear", I decide to take it like a gentleman and say something ridiculous: "alright, well, do as you see fit then". Then I take a good look at her and unmistakably notice she has a chromosome missing. I then go on with my shopping, forget all about her, and when I arrive near the cashiers, I hear "TAAA! TAAAAAA! TAAA!", a lot louder than the first time. And here is that woman, slamming her basket of groceries on the floor and walking out of the shop without them, because a woman in front of her had started to put that little plastic gadget that "seperates" one shopper's items from another's on the cashier's rolling mattress. A lot of people seemed shocked, a lot of people were amused. I of course was mister supercool because I had been there, done that. Here was a woman doing her best to be autonomous and couldn't stand people helping her.

Quote of the week

September 29th - Even the mighty are puny

"A ce stade, nous pouvons déclarer en conscience que la preuve matérielle d'une fraude en faveur de la tendance favorable à la présidence sortante est établie." ("At this point, we can declare in conscience that the material proof of a fraud in favour of a tendancy favourable to the exiting presidency, is established")

These were the conclusive words of the investigative commission on ATTAC France's alleged internal electoral fraud. For those who have never heard of ATTAC, which is present in many countries, it is a Left of the Left organisation that pushes forward noble albeit perhaps unrealisable ideas such as taxation of financial transactions to bring the poor out of misery.

The report (in French)

ATTAC must not be confused with ATAC, the hypermarket price buster.

Number of the week

September 29th - They come and they go

We heard a few days ago that Jospin would no longer consider running for the French presidency.

Well, while the suspense was running, and using 10 main media outlets (4 weekly magazines and 6 national dailies), it's no less than 300 articles, interviews, flashes, commentaries that were consecrated to the « return of Jospin » (and many more even to the Socialist Party's and its internal conflicts). As a basis for comparison, over the same period (28/09/2005 to 28/09/2006), only 240 articles mentioned in one way or another the situation in the Darfur region, in those same 10 media outlets.

Acrimed's article here (in French).

Picture of the week

October 3rd - Your freedom stops when/where it becomes a public health hazard. Do not drive your car indoors!

A country comparative ranking by AFP/Circ of passive cigarette smoke quantities in public places (micrograms per m3 of air), published in the wake of France's upcoming law on extending cigarette bans to all public spaces (the law will likely apply to all public enclosed areas only, some of which, such as bars/restaurants, so far benefited from exceptions, which means that highways and overpasses are still safe for smokers [and car drivers] to exhaust on). NB: "Liban" is Lebanon, "Allemagne" is Germany, "Royaume-Uni" is the UK. "Etats-Unis" is the United States.

Getting not so superconcise anymore, are we? ;-)

Good stuff.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 11:59:08 AM EST
hehe, you're right, I may have to consider renaming my series "a less and less concise look at France this week". But the mentally disabled story was hard to summarize, and anyhow I wanted it to be as thorough as possible. That definitely tipped the balance in favour of "not so superconcise".
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 01:38:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nevertheless, good selections with a certain flavor.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 07:10:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh my god.  There's someplace where people smoke more than Lebanon?!  Unbelievable.

As for the sordid story of the week... I don't know what to say.  Sixteen months of probation for beating a mentally disabled man half to death?  Appalling.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 12:39:05 PM EST
Sixteen months of probation for beating a mentally disabled man half to death? Appalling.

And even more appalling is the villagers' and mayor support for the guy who did the beating. That just ... I mean ... yuck.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 12:52:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the French have in boys' names!
by Matt in NYC on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 02:55:23 PM EST
I would note one article Denis Robert on 10 years of the Geneva Call as something important but that won't be discussed.
by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 05:21:27 PM EST
That's good actually. In all fairness, everything is important and I never know what to put and what not to put, while still keeping it concise. Perhaps in the future we can find a way of making this type of diary much less concise, and invite anyone to chip in. While respecting what could be a tradition of trying as much as possible not to post mainstream news items unless they haven't been mentioned on ET that week (or unless they're really worth repeating). Or something like that. To be developed ...
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 05:30:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just hijacking your diary, nothing bad in doing your own selection :) :).
by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 05:33:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Alex; "In all fairness, everything is important ..."

No, it isn't - this is relativism gone mad. "Important" is a useful valuation, if everything is important then nothing is and it loses its utility as an evaluation. Of course what is important changes with a change of context, but this still doesn't make "everything" important.

Jerry Fodor has written a very good review of a book of philosophy by a Michael Frayn (novelist and playwright), bringing out related errors:

"The implication is that, since there's no fact of the matter about when a thing starts to be a car (or ceases to be one), there is likewise no fact of the matter about whether a thing is a car; it may be a car according to your story but not according to mine and, in principle, there's nothing to choose between the stories. So, it's all or nothing: if there's no matter of fact at the margins, there's none in the middle either.

I look out of the window . . . I tell you that the sun is setting . . . But, even here, in this simple factual report of what is before my eyes . . . there is also a performative element . . . I am deciding that the sun is setting . . . even though we have no agreement on what precise relationship between sun and horizon constitutes the sun's setting . . . All narration and description . . . is indissolubly subjective because it involves selection.

I'm not saying the bridge is open because it is; it's open because I say it is.

And finally, with a flourish: `The story is the paradigm. Factual statements are specialised derivatives of fictitious ones.'



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 06:02:34 PM EST
Replace "everything" with "every French news item from this week" and you'll be just fine in this diary series.

If not, then apply comparatives and superlatives or degree adverbs, they can be quite handy when subjectivity and error start popping out of nowhere: for instance your comment is important to me, but minimally so.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 06:23:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt whether you really think "every French news item from this week"  - a rather large number of items - is important, any more than Frayn really thinks that the universe only exists if he is looking at it:

" 'The universe

is big, it's small . . . because you and I and some of our friends say it is. If we weren't here in the audience . . . the whole show would have gone for nothing . . . It would not be odd or awe-inspiring - or even banal. It would have no characteristics at all. And if it had no characteristics, then in what sense would it be anything? In what sense would it exist? . . . So we are perhaps not after all such nobodies. We are not for nothing. The middle of things is not an entirely inappropriate place for us to be.'

Well, that's a relief; I feel ever so much better now.

The basic idea is to undermine the authority of science (and, indeed, the authority of common sense) by launching a general attack on the notions of truth and knowledge. What a Copernican astronomy taketh away, a relativist epistemology giveth back."


Alex: "If not, then apply comparatives and superlatives or degree adverbs, they can be quite handy when subjectivity and error start popping out of nowhere: <

Of course we can mark out degrees within importance; but the fact remains that not everything is important, not even everything that happens to be published in every news source in France in a week. Thus one would hope that in such a diary you would select the really important stuff from the acres of rubbish and not just do a random sampling,  and thus your diary would be important.

"for instance your comment is important to me, but minimally so."

Perhaps this is because you were more concerned with a quick put-down, rather than seriously thinking about it, and even reading the review I recommended.  

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 07:12:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps this is because you were more concerned with a quick put-down

Perhaps it's because having carnal relations with punctuation is not my cup of tea.

by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Oct 4th, 2006 at 04:31:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Of course this was nothing to do with punctuation and your latest response is just another cheap attempt at a put-down, rather than actually trying to engage in serious discussion - e.g. do you REALLY think that everything published in the French media in a week is important ?

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Oct 5th, 2006 at 05:49:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Using dawn and dusk to argue against day and night"

And, I suppose, for absolutists gone mad:

"Using day and night to argue against dawn and dusk."

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 07:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clara, Louane, Emma, and Maëlys will top the women's rankings, while Matheo, Mathis, Enzo and Noah will top the men's rankings.

2005 popular names in America
1 Jacob 25,347 Emily 23,544
2 Michael 23,324 Emma 19,976
3 Joshua 22,775 Madison 19,240
4 Matthew 21,045 Abigail 15,492
5 Ethan 21,039 Olivia 15,453
6 Andrew 20,323 Isabella 14,908
7 Daniel 19,776 Hannah 14,553
8 Anthony 19,016 Samantha 13,436
9 Christopher 18,871 Ava 13,411
10 Joseph 18,737 Ashley 13,092

I'm surprized to see Noah on the French list, as it has a decidedly Biblical flavor. Of course about half of our names are from the Christian tradition.

by asdf on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 11:35:29 PM EST
Might want to add something about the impending collapse of Airbus, given the additional delay in delivery of the A380. The articles I find in English all have a gloating tone to them...
by asdf on Wed Oct 4th, 2006 at 12:00:47 AM EST
wonder how that gloat will work out if/when Airbus collapses leaving Boeing free to jack up prices?  
by HiD on Wed Oct 4th, 2006 at 08:03:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]