Saturday, November 14, 2009

Academics Debate University Reform

A summary of arguments put forward at an "EHESS alternative seminar" can be found here.(h/t Polit'bistro)

Peillon-Royal Contretemps

Wasn't it Vincent Peillon who was prepared to go to court to block Martine Aubry's victory over Ségolène Royal in the party leadership contest earlier this year? He has cooled considerably on Ségo since then, to the point of denouncing her presence at a meeting he organized as "unwanted." Peillon is attempting to put himself at the center of a broad coalition of Socialists, Greens, and centrists. This is the territory that Ségo wants for herself, and she's not going to allow herself to be outflanked, even if it means crashing somebody else's party.

So what else is new? The 50-somethings block the 40-somethings, personal ambition prevents party unity or even common strategy, and there is no PS, only individual entrepreneurs furthering their own designs.


Theater of the Absurd

Christian Vanneste distinguishes himself yet again--for ses conneries. To be sure, compared with the fire-and-brimstone homophobia that we know so well in America, Vanneste's blundering quest to develop a rational basis for his prejudices--a sort of anti-gay categorical imperative--has about it a wistful, quixotic charm. But his arguments--homosexuals drink and smoke, hence their fitness as parents is questionable; homosexuals frequent gay bars and read gay books, hence they discriminate--are so desperate that one can only shake one's head in disbelief. Still, how many other backbench deputies can you name? He stands out, if only for his absurdity.

The Veil, Encore et Toujours

Another of those little episodes of which "French identity" seems to consist these days. I have made my position on the veil clear in the past, and I am willing to admit that there are two sides to the question and that my instincts in the matter are American, not French. But I still find it incredible that a deputy of the UMP would be so unhinged by the sight of a veil within the precincts of the National Assembly that he would feel compelled to take out his cell phone and begin snapping pictures of the child wearing it, as though she were a criminal or a provocateur of whose crime it was necessary to preserve the evidence. A debate about national identity is one thing; the persecution and humiliation of a child is another. (h/t MYOS)