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The Ratso attitude - French spatial aggression

by Ted Welch Mon Oct 29th, 2012 at 05:09:21 PM EST

"Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman): 'I'm walking here! I'm walking here!' " Midnight Cowboy


So often Ratso's shout seems to be the French attitude - talk about individualism ! We Brits, like Americans tend to avoid touching, so on the tram in Nice I'm often moving around while the French happily rub against each other.

Applying Carroll's theories to Britons, you understand why foreigners think we are repressed. Americans won't touch strangers, the French won't talk to them, but Brits will neither touch nor talk to them.


When walking and we're on a collision course with others we take evasive action, the French just keep going. Today I witnessed a classic example,a middle-aged French couple stepped into the road against a red light, a car stopped about a metre from them and beeped them. The woman scurried across, but the guy, far from apologising for nearly causing an accident, faced the car, spread his arms and yelled: "Oh ! Oh !" - how dare the driver beep him: "I'm walking here !"  I had my camera ready but was so stunned by his arrogance that I didn't take a photo.

Of course not all the French are like this, and in this case a young French guy, who was waiting for the light to change on the other side, politely pointed out to the guy that the light was red. I couldn't hear what the guy said, but the body language suggested: "So what? The driver could see me."

As I turned back from watching them and continued on my way, I had to accelerate to avoid being run down by a baby-buggy (not for the first time) pushed by a young woman who also seemed to have the Ratso attitude.

Last night on the M6 TV channel there was a report on various problems on French roads; one was what seems to be an increasing practice, an after-wedding convoy which stops, blocking main roads. This is not just selfish but dangerous, some other drivers taking risks to get round the blockage - "I'm driving here!". Some of the police turned this against the stoppers by getting ahead of them and then, while they were stopped, taking photos of them and their licence plates.

La vidéo pour revoir Enquête exclusive du dimanche 28 octobre 2012. Le magazine présenté par Bernard de la Villardière et diffusé sur M6 était titré Chauffards, voleurs et trafiquants : autoroutes à haut risque. Nous avons retrouvé un reportage sur les autoroutes où la criminalité n'a de cesse d'augmenter sous diverses formes : rodéos, passage de clandestins, trafics de drogues, attaques des stations-services, ...


There was also a more extreme individual, who knocked over a motorcyclist who was stopped at motorway payment area, then attacked a member of staff and, when the police arrived, reversed out, smashing a barrier. But it was all recorded on video and the member of staff had recorded the sound of the incident. The police later arrested the culprit, who tried to deny it, but the evidence was too strong and he got a deserved four months in prison (not his first time inside).

Meanwhile, when in France, don't do as the French do - nor as I do, as I find myself increasingly putting my head down, ignoring those on a collision course with me. Watch out for those baby-buggies, with little kids getting an education in the Ratso attitude - "I'm being walked here !".

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For Obama - "without illusions"

by Ted Welch Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 09:57:30 AM EST

This defense of voting for Obama came from another recent discussion.

We agreed on major things; we're both extremely critical of the "status quo" (see below), as is Chomsky, he and I think  that we need radical change and that people deserve better.

However we disagreed about some of the means. Chomsky and I  think it's worth trying secure whatever relatively small changes are currently possible because, while small in relation to what is desirable and ultimately possible, these can be matters of life and death for many people - e.g health insurance for 45 million people (see below).

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On "Hollande-bashing"

by Ted Welch Wed Oct 17th, 2012 at 03:35:03 AM EST


Recently I was discussing Hollande with an English friend who was somewhat critical of him, saying that he hadn't really had much experience: "What has he done?". The media have been attacking Hollande and his government for not having done anything:


They had become used to Sarkozy's mistaken (his view) hyperactive style.

 I think the media's encouragement of emphasis on personality is unfortunate (as with Assange), most important is what group he belongs to and what they stand for. Sarkozy made what group he really represented all too clear the night of his election, with the party at Fouquets and his holiday on a billionaire's yacht (see below for contrast with Hollande - his bedroom in Tulle). Even a French President can't do much by himself and must represent the mainstream of his party and their policies. 

front-paged by afew

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Rothko's appetite suppressant sauced up

by Ted Welch Mon Oct 8th, 2012 at 05:56:37 PM EST

A Russian makes a Rothko mildly interesting by writing on it:


But it's just another bit of Art apparently, another attempt to be the most radical, art as a negation of art, a gesture to advance "Yellowism":

"The main difference between yellowism and art is that in art you have got freedom of interpretation. In yellowism you don't have freedom of interpretation, everything is about yellowism, that's it"


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Sarko - "null" points

by Ted Welch Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 01:33:48 PM EST

Sarkozy lost the debate:

45% thought Hollande convincing, 41% for Sarkozy (some people will believe anything). H came over as far more sincere (what a surprise) - H: 46%, S: 33%.

So much for his typically arrogant claim that he would "explode" Hollande and that H was "null".

This latter insult he typically denied a few days earlier, lying that he never under-estimated his opponents. A Le Monde journalist in the after interview discussion pointed out that he HAD said H was "null" - his brazen lying is outrageous. But then lying is just politics as usual for Sarkozy, thus, as Le Monde points out, in the debate last night he lied that Berlusconi was not his friend and not in the same European political group - of course B IS his friend and they ARE both in the same right-wing European group.

http://decodeurs.blog.lemonde.fr/  (3rd May)

Hollande also referred to Sarko having had meetings with right-wingers where money was donated - Sarko lied again, but there are reports and photos of such events:

http://www.lemonde.fr/election-presidentielle-2012/article/2012/05/02/reunions-de-donateurs-l-amnesi e-de-sarkozy_1694463_1471069.html

Sarko knows that if he says things with apparent conviction many people will believe him - 20 million watched the debate on TV - but only a minority of people like me will look at Le Monde's "decodeurs" site to check the facts.

Many think Hollande clearly won, especially with his closing tirade, saying what kind of president he would be, contrasting it with Sarko's record. Many found this very powerful, and thought Sarko had made a big mistake in - for once - not interrupting. Even S's mate, Brice Hortefeux, thought it was "pas mal". Of course that other UMP liar, Copé, thought it was ridiculous - his evidence ? Some young UMP supporters laughed at it - that's the sort of thing Copé thinks the French are dumb enough to accept as proof.

http://www.lemonde.fr/election-presidentielle-2012/article/2012/05/03/moi-president-la-tirade-de-hol lande-qui-agace-le-camp-sarkozy_1695054_1471069.html

Of course, Copé is smart (so was Goebbels) and he knows that UMP supporters of all ages will not be laughing on Sunday. After five years of a guy who looks and sounds like a little Mafia boss, except that they might be more honest about the facts, France will get a decent man as President, but one who proved he is smart and can be tough. In the debate he gave a whole new meaning to "going Dutch" :-)

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Bastille May Day 2012 Photos

by Ted Welch Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 12:01:24 PM EST

VERY lucky with the weather for May Day at the Bastille.

Slideshow (click box bottom right for full screen and move cursor up to lose thumbnails at bottom) :


After that went with a friend to Bofinger, for a more bourgeois experience, but a very reasonable and good menu for 32.

Later in walked De Villepin with three attractive young women, probably his daughter, who is a model, and her friends.

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Eurotrib Paris April 2012

by Ted Welch Sat Apr 28th, 2012 at 07:24:58 PM EST

My camera got switched on in my bag and drained the battery - so iphone pics:

As it was often raining we didn't take our usual walk to the Eiffel Tower after lunch on Saturday. We stayed in the Canteloup till about 6.30, then moved on about 50 yards to Les Ondes for dinner and more chat - you name it, we discussed it.






The view just round the corner from my hotel:


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Sarkozy's imprecise rhetoric and Copé's lies

by Ted Welch Mon Apr 2nd, 2012 at 06:40:04 PM EST

The day after after putting together the montage about Sarkozy below (based on research by Le Petit Journal of Canal+), Nice-Matin had an interview with Damon Mayaffre, a researcher at CNRS (the National Centre of Scientific Research). He's been studying 85,000 sentences uttered in public by Sarkozy since 2007 and, in the Nice-Matin interview, focuses on Sarkozy's  tendency to put questions to journalists so that he can answer them and seem be a master of the "precise figures" he claims (falsely in some examples) to be offering them, while shifting the focus to things he wants to talk about. It also suggests that the journalists (who he often attacks) don't know the relevant facts and need to be informed by him, encouraging a negative view of journalists.

Un chercheur niçois dissèque le discours sarkozien | Nice-Matin A researcher dissects the speech Sarkozian Nice | Nice-Matin
La formule interrogative ? Ce « C'est un cadeau aux riches ?» poursuit quatre objectifs : «Se poser une question, non pas pour l'éviter, mais pour donner le sentiment d'avoir réponse à tout. Du coup, communier avec le bon sens populaire ... » The interrogative form? This "It's a gift to the rich?" has four objectives: " Ask yourself a question, not to avoid it, but to give the feeling of having all the answers. So, commune with popular common sense ... "
La forme interrogative comme moyen aussi de construire son charisme : « La technique sarkozienne qui consiste également à renvoyer une question au journaliste qui, lui, ne peut ni ne doit y répondre est un moyen d'inciter l'auditeur à s'abandonner à son autorité : la question restant fatalement sans réponse, sauf de sa part !»The interrogative form is also a means to contruct his charisma: "The Sarkozian technique, which involves referring a question to the reporter who, himself, can not and must not respond, is a way of encouraging the listener to surrender to authority: the question remains unanswered inevitably, except by him !




Actually that description is unfair - to pit-bulls; they don't lie. Maybe Copé would call it being economical with the facts. He's smart enough to know the facts, so his repeated misrepresentation of them is a recurring expression of contempt for the French people.

Thus in recent attacks on Hollande and the PS, he's accused them of making Corrèze (where Hollande is head of the Department) the most indebted area of France, making it the "Greece of France", a charge repeated several times recently.

However, as Liberation points out, this conveniently avoids the embarrassing facts that Copé's party, the UMP, were in power when the debt increased most:

Copé pas vraiment carré sur la Corrèze - LibérationCope not really square on the Correze - Liberation
quand Jean-François Copé parle d'une augmentation de la dette de 110 millions d'euros, il choisit un intervalle qui l'arrange (2007-2011) et mélange les époques : les deux premiers budgets ont été votés sous la précédente majorité UMP. «Notre responsabilité est de 63 millions sur 363 millions», réplique la majorité actuelle du conseil général, «17% pour nous, 83% pour la droite».when Jean-Francois Cope talks about a debt increase of 110 million euros, he chose a range that suits him (2007-2011) and mixes up periods: the first two budgets were passed under the previous majority UMP. "Our responsibility is to 63 million of 363 million," replied the current majority of the General Council, "for us 17%, 83% for the right."

Hollande only became president of the conseil général in March 2008, when the department was already the most indebted in France !

The bare-faced lying of Copé is disgusting,  but continues; he tries another lie.  On 29th March Copé alleged that the department had increased its staff by 50% under Hollande.

The figures again expose his contempt for the truth and the public: 1335 in 2008, 1318 in 2009, 1367 in 2012 (of whom 66 were national transfers).

On 30th March Copé tried to defend his accusation,  ignoring the fact made clear in the report he cites that in the year before Hollande came to power the staff grew from 813 to 1174 - a 44% increase, the PS was only responsible for a 5% increase. Moreover these increases were mainly due to a national policy of decentralisation. This guy is head of the UMP and seen as a possible future president !

Copé - Liberation

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Seizing the day - life-affirming films

by Ted Welch Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 06:25:17 PM EST

After being disappointed with several recent films: The Ides of March; BruegeI; Take Shelter - I thought maybe I was just becoming jaded. But then on TV came "Billy Elliot", some important themes dealt with seriously, but also great, life-affirming, exuberant dancing.

Then today - what a day for films on TV - by wonderful serendipity I changed channels and there was Zorba The Greek, just as it started. What joy - one of my favourite films - and another life-affirming one. Sadly I've been too like Basil (Yes and too like the Fawlty Towers one too sometimes :-)):

Alexis Zorba: Damn it boss, I like you too much not to say it. You've got everything except one thing: madness! A man needs a little madness, or else...
Basil: Or else?
Alexis Zorba: ...he never dares cut the rope and be free."

Well, I did cut the rope, took early retirement from university and came to France - there was more than a little madness in that.

But while joyous the film is certainly not bland - I prepared something to eat during the scene where Irene Papas is killed (though I don't think Zorba would have turned his back and let her walk behind him through that crowd). It's also a horrible scene where the French woman dies and the old women (mainly) steal her things, no wonder the Cretans weren't happy with Michael Cacoyannis, the director (and I now see that he died just last year). But, for all his tenderness towards her while alive, Zorba is unsentimental when she dies: "Silly old bitch. She's not alone, she's with Suleiman Pasha having a hell of a time."  Then the joyful wisdom (Nietzsche) of the final dance on the beach.

Then "Dangerous Liasons" - intelligent, but too full of DSK-style decadence, though even the apparently cynical can really suffer in love (Glenn Close).

More joy - "Dead Poets Society" another favourite, of course I identify with Keating (Robin Williams): "I always thought the purpose of education was to learn to think for yourself." Apparently while the film was being made Williams was only involved for about three weeks; the young actors playing the boys saw the director, Peter Weir, an Australian, as their Keating figure.

"Carpe diem" - but "Sucking the marrow out of life doesn't mean choking on the bone." It's a delicate balance - like dancing.

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Xmas lights and a late drink

by Ted Welch Thu Dec 8th, 2011 at 02:25:11 PM EST


Place Massena, Nice. André Massena was not exactly a man of peace and goodwill:

Masséna remained one of Bonaparte's most important subordinates throughout the extraordinary 1796-7 campaign in Italy. He played a significant part in engagements at Montenotte and Dego in the spring. He took a leading role at the battles of Lonato,Castiglione, Bassano, Caldiero and Arcola in the summer and fall, and the Battle of Rivoli and the fall of Mantua that winter.





"All this kitsch stuff is only temporary - I'll just sit it out."


I like these decorations which have a non-religious, almost astronomical look - above left the moon and Jupiter.


The moon and Jupiter.


No, not that biblical "virgin".



Place Garibaldi - he helped unify Italy so that nuts like Mussolini and Berlusconi could take over - and then Goldman Sachs.




"Down this mean streets a man must go" - who needs a late drink in Nice in December


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Sometimes "think different" can kill you

by Ted Welch Sat Oct 22nd, 2011 at 01:23:48 PM EST

It can also destroy communal values and was rejected when it was different to the way Jobs thought.

Steve Jobs Regretted Wasting Time on Alternative Medicine  BY RYAN TATE


Everyone else wanted Steve Jobs to move quickly against his tumor. His friends wanted him to get an operation. His wife wanted him to get an operation. But the Apple CEO, so used to swimming against the tide of popular opinion, insisted on trying alternative therapies for nine crucial months. Before he died, Jobs resolved to let the world know he deeply regretted the critical decision, biographer Walter Isaacson has told 60 Minutes. (NB for Americans, to be on CBS Sun Oct 23).



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LQD Occupy Wall Street update

by Ted Welch Tue Oct 18th, 2011 at 01:43:45 PM EST

Globalization of protest:

The Occupy campaign may have hoped, at its launch, to inspire similar action elsewhere, but few can have foreseen that within four weeks, more than 900 cities around the world would host co-ordinated protests directly or loosely affiliated to the Occupy cause.

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Paris demo photos Oct 11 2011

by Ted Welch Mon Oct 17th, 2011 at 06:49:44 PM EST

PARIS  Tue Oct 11, 2011

"Five unions, including the CFDT and the prominent CGT syndicate, the two biggest groups, organised about 200 street rallies and strikes across France against President Nicolas Sarkozy's budget-cutting measures.


Though described as "low-key" by Reuters, it was a big demo taking about an hour to pass, but it had no violence, and unlike Brit demos wasn't flanked by police:


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LQD: THIS is what Occupy Wall Street is all about

by Ted Welch Mon Oct 10th, 2011 at 06:01:28 PM EST

THIS is what Occupy Wall Street is all about: some basic, shameful facts about the US today. it's also fun to watch P.J. O'Rourke put down - and the audience giving a standing ovation to Grayson. If only more Democrats could be as convincing as this:

Grayson quickly clarifies for O'Rourke why they're there, in beautifully succinct point-by-point form.

Grayson: Let me tell what they're talking about. They're complaining about the fact the Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago and nobody's held responsible for that.

Not a single person has been indicted or convicted for destroying twenty percent of our national net worth accumulated over two centuries.

They're upset about the fact that wall street have iron control over economic policies of this country and that one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of wall street and the other party caters to them as well, that's the truth of the matter as you said before. And…

O'Rourke: Get the man a bongo drum, they've found their spokesman!

Grayson: If I…

O'Rourke: Get your shoes off, get a bongo drum, forget where to go to the bathroom and it's yours.

Grayson: If I am the spokesman for all the people who think

we should not have twenty four million people in this country who can't find a full time job.

That we should not have fifty million people who can't see a doctor when they're sick.

That we shouldn't have forty seven million people of this country who need government help to feed themselves.

And we shouldn't have fifteen million families who owe more on their mortgage than the value of home, OK, I'll be that spokesman.


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Zizek's "bullshit"

by Ted Welch Tue Mar 22nd, 2011 at 11:18:06 AM EST

In a recent Eurotrib discussion a couple of people commented on Zizek in a fairly positive way while suggesting that they weren't quite clear about what he was saying. They are not alone. I indicated my reservations about Zizek. Melo suggested that I provide "the pro breakdown". Here is a general critique of Zizek, largely based on his own comments on himself and his work.

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Paris, winter 2010

by Ted Welch Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 03:06:06 PM EST


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LQD: Egypt, popular anger and elite organisation

by Ted Welch Fri Feb 11th, 2011 at 01:20:50 PM EST

An article in the NYT/IHT reveals that there was a small group of intellectuals who helped give direction to the widespread anger towards the Mubarak regime. This relates to an earlier discussion about analogies with the French Revolution and theories about it; some of which emphasised underlying economic causes and others which emphasised the role of ideas and/or leaders:

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Some Nice light relief

by Ted Welch Wed Dec 15th, 2010 at 01:14:14 PM EST


December in Nice


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May we always have Paris

by Ted Welch Thu Dec 2nd, 2010 at 04:30:24 PM EST

LEP has provided us with photos of the demonstrations in Paris, fundamentally about preserving a way of life, a culture. Here are some photos celebrating some aspects of the Paris I hope we'll always have and a culture worth defending - particularly in these bleak economic times.

First a few (belatedly) from the Paris Meetup in September:

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Championing Chomsky - the calmer way :-)

by Ted Welch Sat Oct 23rd, 2010 at 05:09:00 PM EST

Some people objected to the sarcastic tone of some remarks in the original version of this, a response to ThatBritGuy's  "Malleable social reality". It covers some important issues: democracy, forms of activism, science and human affairs, "the responsibility of intellectuals" (one of Chomsky's early books on politics) and took some time, so here is the edited, slightly shorter version, which might elicit more comments on the content.


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