Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ranked

To see how this blog stacks up against other blogs that take some aspect of French life as their subject, see these rankings. We're no. 54 out of 75 in the overall sweepstakes, but since the competition includes Le Monde, L'Equipe, and Le Figaro (1, 2, and 3 respectively), that's not bad for a 1-man operation! And in some of the subrankings, we're doing even better.

McDo Sponsors the Bac

Get your bac results on-line, courtesy of McDonald's. Polly-Vous Français (to whom I tip my hat for this reference) doesn't know whether to be more astonished by the French propensity to strip citizens of their right to be humiliated in private or by McDonald's readiness to help in the stripping.

Maybe this can help us understand attitudes toward the burqa. In America we can cover our faces in public and keep our SAT scores to ourselves, if we so choose. In France, both your face and your scores must be available for public scrutiny. (Insert smiley face here.)

The Oil Market

Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy have jointly called for government supervision of the petroleum futures markets. And the Obama administration is calling for limits on the ability of financial companies to speculate on oil futures. This ain't your father's neoliberalism. We await China's reaction to these moves.

A400M

Should EADS pull the plug on the troubled A400M military transport? The New York Times thinks so. Indeed, if the A400M goes down, Europe can simply buy its heavy-lifting capability from the US, and in return Congress and John McCain might, in their infinite wisdom, relent in their opposition to buying aerial tankers from the Europeans. Win-win. But if, as the Times notes, the A400M was "always a political airplane," that hardly distinguishes it from every other military aircraft project on record, so caution is in order. Still, Europe's bargaining position is weak: the A400M doesn't fly (yet), and without more money to fix its problems, it probably never will.

And as everyone knows, the only thing stopping Europe from getting right in there and mixing it up with bad guys around the world is the lack of a heavy-lifting capability ... right? Of course depriving oneself of capabilities with the potential to make trouble down the road is also "always a political" matter. Remember Ulysses and the Sirens? Europe has perhaps tied itself to the mast lest the Sirens tempt it into unleashing the dogs of war.