Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Le Jambon-Beurre Tient Bon

The jambon-beurre sandwich, the staple of my impecunious youth in Paris, is holding its own against the hamburger, outselling the detestable import 10-1. Indeed, Le Point has established a jambon-beurre index to rival the infamous Big Mac consumer price index with which The Economist tracks the global economy. Paris tops the J-BI at 3.27, followed by Poitiers at 3.15 and Strasbourg at 3.11, while you can snap up a sandwich from an independent baker for just 1.69 or get one at une grande surface for 1.88.

The J-B spread awaits its theorist. Let u(w, q, b, t, h) be the utility derived from consuming a sandwich with weight of ham w, quality of bread q, pats of butter b, cafe table rent t, and hours wasted lingered at lunch h, and assume that u is increasing in w, q, and b but decreasing in t and h with continuous second derivatives <0 in w, q, b ...

Plus Belle la Vie

So, Pierre Bergé, who bankrolls Ségolène Royal these days, sold his looted bronze Chinese heads to a bidder who turned out to be Chinese and refused to pay for them out of patriotic duty. The New York Times covers France's leading soap opera. Somebody is sending 9mm rounds to various French public officials. Christine Boutin, sporting a new butch haircut, says that "l'enfant pour se structurer a besoin d'un papa et d'une maman," a maxim that provides pacifists with a new rationale for refusing military service, on the grounds that death on the battlefield is bad for the children: one wonders how Boutin imagines France survived the generation of "unstructured" orphans left behind by World War I.

A crazy country, or what? Does it get any better than this? Plus belle la vie indeed.