Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New blog - Now in Paris

I've now moved to a new blog:

Monday, August 07, 2006


Sun. 6.8.06 I took some photos along the Seine with my new Lumix .

Later I went to Patricia's (right) soiree again ( ) where Paula Stromberg (centre), Canadian writer, designer, photographer, was giving a talk about the art "pieces" she has done with Caroline Choo, a psychiatrist, specializing in geriatric patients.

The "pieces" included one about Caroline's grandmother and her plans for the elaborate costume she wanted to be buried in, and one based on a young woman who had developed rheumatoid arthritis. This led to some interesting discussion about death, the way the subject tends to be avoided, and the work has had very positive responses - but it seems a pity that tthere's no web site for it.

Later I went with Ariele to the Trois Mailletz (Rue Galande, opposite St. Julien Le Pauvre), which yet again surprised me. A young French guy I've seen there before was playing piano, mainly Chopin etc., but he let another guy play for a while - quite a character, though the guy on the left wasn't too impressed.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

French smoking ban delayed

An unfortunate consequence of De Villepin's defeat over the CPE:

De Villepin avoids clash on smoking

By Martin Arnold in Paris, FT, April 13 2006

"Dominique de Villepin, prime minister, who has seen his popularity hit a record low after his battle over labour reform, asked Xavier Bertrand, health minister, to carry out more evaluations on the impact of a smoking ban after a meeting to finalise plans for a new law.

Mr Bertrand said only last weekend he wanted to go "as fast as possible" to pass a law protecting people from passive smoking at work, in bars and in restaurants.

While the idea of a smoking ban in public places is supported by 80 per cent of French people, it is likely to face fierce opposition from powerful business groups, including tobacconists, restaurateurs and bar owners.

"Once again the government is backing down. It is total confusion," said Claude Evin, an anti-smoking advocate and opposition Socialist deputy.

Mr de Villepin seems to have balked at the risk of introducing a ban so soon after being forced to back down in the face of street protests by millions of students and workers against his youth labour law...",dwp_uuid=d4f2ab60-c98e-11d7-81c6-0820abe49a01.html

Friday, April 21, 2006

Correcting journalists

Comment to the European Tribune site:

Re: FT journalists

I'm the eurotribber who wrote to Simon Briscoe (Statistics Editor at the Financial Times), specifically I referred to the fact that in the Financial Times for 1th April, there were two articles and an editorial which all used the 22% figure (with minor variations) for French youth unemployment, with no qualifications.

The review of his book gave credit to an academic - often unsung heroes who give a lot of free help and advice to journalists and others (I'm an ex-academic):

"I followed up the reference given, and was kindly supplied with recent figures by the source quoted in the book, Monica Threlfall of Loughborough University [ m.threlfall at ].

Youth unemployment 2002

Participation in labour market: UK 62.5%, France 36.9%

Unemployed ratio/population: UK 6.8%, France 7.0%

Unemployed rate/labour force: UK 10.9%, France 18.9%

As Briscoe says, having so many young people in employment [higher education?] is arguably a policy success for France, and a success the UK government is anxious to emulate, with a target of getting 50% (up from the current 40%) of young people into third level education by 2009."

I also wrote to the BBC, the Guardian and to The Independent's correspondent in France, John Lichfield, about the uncritical use of the 22% figure. No response from the latter. But Ashley Seager, Guardian Economics Editor replied saying:

"I had in fact looked into the issue of French in further education and was informed by several experts that the ILO figures I was quoting adjust for those kinds of things. I also think that if French youth unemployment were genuinely as low as the Briscoe piece claims, the French government would have jumped on those figures long ago. "

I put the latter point to Briscoe, who commented:

"I suspect they either "blindly" took the standard data off the ILO or other website and looked no further or perhaps they needed to portray their situation as a crisis in order to hope to get through an unpopular policy?"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Anglo-Saxon Attitudes

Comment in the This French Life site:

"I am tired of listening to my smug French work colleagues talking about their wonderful social model and deploring "Anglo-Saxon liberalism" and its inequalities."

One can hardly blame them when the US/UK media and blogs are full of smug attacks on the French model.

"... now the new aristocrats of France are the unproductive and lazy state employees with their jobs for life and taxpayer funded pensions that allow retirement at a ridiculously young age."

State employees include teachers, doctors and nurses - are they all "lazy" and "unproductive" ? What is the sensible age to retire ? Aren't a lot of young business people in the UK aiming to make money fast and retire early (some appear on A Place in the Sun); sounds very sensible to me. In the UK, it looks as if people will not be able to retire till 68 - and, given the pensions crisis, some won't be able to retire, is that "ridiculous" or just more employee "flexibility"?

"The young people from immigrant backgrounds cannot get onto the employment ladder but the privileged and spoilt middle class French kids..."

What an objective approach again; are ALL the students and pupils who demonstrated are "privileged" ? and you of course know that they are all "spoilt". What a caricature. They rightly objected to allowing employers to sack people for no reason - would YOU accept that? - within TWO years. Any decent employer doesn't need that long, apart from any other considerations. What they also objected to was the arrogant way Villepin tried to push it through, with no discussion, widely seen as rather stupid.

"I have lived here for fifteen years now and I can tell you that the housing estates around most larger cities are shocking examples of inequality and deprivation much worse than anything in the unashamedly capitalist UK."

And how often did you come back to do your careful survey of British cities ? Did you note this:

"The riots in Oldham, Bradford, Burnley and other cities in Northern England have exposed the enormous amount of anger of Asian youth, in particular, against the oppressive conditions under which they live.

Race discrimination is now one of the most explosive social issues in Britain, for which New Labour has no solution.

In fact their policies have led to a further increase in segregation and isolation of blacks and Asians. In mostly black or Asian areas youth unemployment can be as high as 40%."

"Most of the kids there would gladly take any job, secure or not. The demagogues of the left have no solutions to propose for them."

Yes, desperation will make people accept almost anything, that doesn't make it OK. Of course the left is only made up of "demagogues" - in your prejudiced world - and when did you do your survey of the French Left's economic ideas ? In fact Villepin is now putting forward alternatives which many of the Left might have suggested, had he asked them.