Thursday, November 26, 2009

Identity Poll

Here is a TNS-Sofres poll that asks people a variety of questions about their identity. It's Thanksgiving today in the United States, so I'm going to avoid any deep analysis, but a cursory inspection reveals some interesting nuggets in the detailed breakdowns. For example, not the distinctiveness of the responses of those who identify as members of the PCF.

Those of you who have more time to look at the details might want to leave comments. Incidentally, I've noticed that traffic on this site is higher on working days than on weekends, which suggests that most people do their blog reading at work! Today is a holiday in the US but not in France, so we'll have to see what happens to the hit count.

Industry-Research Jolly-Ups

Back when I was a wee lad and student at MIT, I attended a few events at Radcliffe known as "jolly-ups." This was local student argot for what were elsewhere known as "mixers": opportunities for boy to meet girl et ainsi de suite. It seems that Valérie Pécresse has decided to organize Web-based jolly-ups where eager industrialists can couple up with research teams in search of a partner. Can't hurt, I guess, although my recollection of those student mixers is that there were relatively few successful matches, a lot of hopeful wallflowers, and a pecking order in which the winners were those who probably would have done just as well without the institutional intermediary.

Can't hurt to try, though--right?

Copenhagen--and Kabul

President Obama will go to Copenhagen with a proposal to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 17% -- from its 2005 level. Le Figaro points out what The Times does not, namely, that Europeans measure their reductions against 1990 levels, not 2005. By this standard, Obama's proposal looks much more modest: just 4 percent. This sets up the possibility of a clash between Sarkozy and Obama, since, rhetorically for sure and to some degree in practice, Sarkozy has been quite aggressive on this front. It will be interesting to see how the two men handle their differences. Of course by the time they meet in Copenhagen, another difference--over troop levels in Afghanistan--may well overshadow the climate issue.

And of course no matter what agreement is reached (or not reached) in Copenhagen, Obama has one problem that Sarkozy cannot begin to imagine: the US Congress. It is not difficult to imagine how the Republicans--and some Democrats--will go after any emission reduction proposals in a time of high unemployment and fiscal distress. What is more, popular support for new environmental protection legislation has been declining in the US. President Sarkozy often complains, not without reason, about the difficulty of overcoming tous les conservatismes, but if he wants to sample a real political dogfight, he should try confronting tous nos conservateurs.