November 19, 2003

The Massoud killers

Nicholas Sarkozy today announced that someone in liaison with the Masssoud murderers has been arrested.

Some of you may remember that the booby trapped camera, the one that killed Massoud, was found to have been stolen from a camera crew in Grenoble, at the foot of the French alps.

My Grandmother was in the French resistance (which so many people, these days, like to pretend didn't exist.) She claims, quite plausibly, that the murder of the head of the Northern League was the trigger for that day. They saw the news, they booked the tickets.

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For some reason, the French government has felt the need to announce that Jacques Chirac wears no hearing aid.

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November 18, 2003


Does The US Government layout this kind of ceremony for its dead in Iraq, or does it just try to brush them under the carpet?

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November 17, 2003

Graffiti watch

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Salute CONrad

Conrad Black resigns as chief exec over dodgy payments he received. He remains as chairman. Will the papers' leaders continue to describe as anti-Semitic everyone who disagrees with it.

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"Idiotarian" n. 1. Word used by Rednecks to sound intelligent, often in describing someone who once went abroad.

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Bloody Mary

Just days before the Queen Mary II, the largest passenger boat ever built, rolls of the docks in St Nazaire she has already earned herself a bad name.

An estimate of between 12 and 16 people fell to their deaths saturday when the gangplank collapsed. She was in a dry dock. Why the number varies, I do not know. It was enough, however, for both the President and the PM to pay a visit of condoleonce.

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November 15, 2003

Unlucky Strike

Like just about everywhere, cigarette prices (or rather taxes) in France have been going up, up and away.

Last month, the government (for reasons of poverty more than anything else) put the prices up again. They also promised to put them up again in January. Two hikes in four months.

Enough, said the tobacconists , or buralistes, we're going on strike. And strike they did. The price rise made me think that I should perhaps stop. Never said that before. Nope. 'Course not.

Then came the strike. It was only a one days strike but, not being the carton buying type (I'm in denial), I naturally ran out at midday. The idea of searching around Provence was too much. I stopped on the spot.

The strike stopped and I didn't strike up. Why let something rule your life (and your wallet) like that?

The Buralistes, however, are still at it. You have to feel sorry for the guys. Tobacco distribution is completely controlled by the state (though the manufacture of domestic brands was privatised by Jospin's Socialist government.) It works a bit like Alcohol in some US states; the buralistes sell the cigarettes (no reduction for cartons, no generic brands) and get a fee (usually several months later) from the state. Given that they do not have to put money up front for their goods, they tend to have a lot in store (and more brands than the UK has dead cows.)

This gave rise (just after the last price hike) to a bunch of heists in the Département (county) of Dordogne. The thieves had broken holes in their storage rooms. National TV reported it and pointed out that any given tobacconists probably has (at ~ €5 per pack) some € 30,000 worth of packs at any given time. That, pointed out the helpful TV anchor, and it's much easier than robbing a bank.

"Why didn't I think of that?" I exclaimed, almost out loud from the depths of my potato stained couch. I often have fantasies about being a crim. Like everyone else, however (except crims) I am too bourgeois (city dwelling being the correct translation) to actually be one.

Others didn't quite have the same reaction as I. There is now an epidemic of roberies. Deliveries of cigarettes are now done with armoured trucks. The buralistes, meanwhile, have been picketing supply depots and borders (over which people hop to get cheaper fags) and even, today, had a summit with the Prime minister. He promised them that there would be no price rise for the next four years. Not enough, said the buralistes, who suddenly have spokesmen and the like. The anti smoking lobby accused them of neo-poujadisme, referring to the small shopkeeper tax revolt of the 50's.

The saga continues.

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November 13, 2003

There's a good bloggie

Oliver Willis has got to have one of the best blogs around. While he may be something of an ideological soccer player (As in "It's the politics that count, not the ideas") He does make his points (with which I mostly agree) with wit.
It is unfortunate that America has become so partisan that it seems very difficult to have any ideas of one's own. I remember being so suprised as a kid that so many congressional votes didn't go along party lines. How different it was from Britain, where I lived at the times, where everything was (and is) decided by the party whip.
It's the opposite here in France, where there is a plethora of ideas; almost none of which are acted upon.

This entry is hilarious

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Final Cut Blues

It seems that my last two weeks has been spent dealing with computer problems, wondering why on earth one shells out for such things.
First it was Radio Userland, which died (never to recover) simply because I moved it from one directory to another, and then it was Final Cut Pro (which costs real money, though not compared to AVID etc.)

Couldn't get the the fucka to work when I returned from Provence. Spent days trashing preferences, typing in incomprehensible (and scary) Unix commands, swapping firewire cables (boy have there been some scare stories about fried firewire ports) doing surface scans of hard drives....nothing, whatever happened, the video chopped like a cheap kung fu movie.

But now I know. I know that my faith in Apple should never have faltered. I know that I have sinned. The problem lay in the camera. Its firewire port had not exactly fried, rather it had merely simmered. It was made by the same people who made a certain Windows Laptop I made the mistake of buying a few years ago. That one lasted just one year. It was made by the same people who made a certain Network audio player which worked with no operating system other than the short lived Windows 98 (ME, 2000, fuggetabahtit.) In short it is a Sony camera. I am getting sick and tired of the half built products. If only I could get over that Playstation addiction.

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