Thursday, February 25, 2010

Price of Paris Real Estate

Read it and weep. (h/t Polly-Vous Français) Hmm, let's see, I live in a loft here in Cambridge, MA, approximately 450 square meters. How much would it cost to duplicate that in Saint-Germain des Prés? As J. P. Morgan once said of his yacht, "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."


Judge for yourself. Or is it just lack of imagination?

Walt's Take on Gates' Remarks

Many commenters decided, probably rightly, that I had taken leave of my senses when I (weakly) defended Robert Gates' comments about European free-riding on US defense spending. Here's Stephen Walt's view of the speech. For Walt it's just a given that Europe is free-riding, an inevitable consequence of US hegemony, and Gates is wasting his breath even to bring it up.

UPDATE: Here's Matt Yglesias's take.

Academic Freedom and the French Courts

A rather astonishing--indeed shocking--attack on academic freedom has come to my attention (h/t Alex, Chris). Karin Calvo-Goller, an Israeli professor of international law, has filed criminal libel charges in France against Joseph Weiler, the editor of the European Journal of International Law, who has refused to withdraw from circulation a  review of Calvo-Goller's book by Thomas Weigend, dean of the law school in Cologne. Calvo-Goller alleges that the review contains knowingly false statements that will damage her professional reputation. Under French law, an allegation of libel by a private party is enough, as the examining judge explained to Weiler, for the case to be referred to trial without any examination of its merits by any organ of the state. Hence any aggrieved author with standing to take legal action in France can force the editor who publishes an unfavorable review to answer criminal charges in a French court. Even if the allegations are ultimately found to be without merit, the editor must thus bear the expense and anguish of a criminal court appearance. The consequences for freedom of academic publishing are obvious.

Anyone who has ever received a negative book review has entertained fantasies of revenge, but that an author would go to these lengths to prevent the circulation of a bad review is truly shocking to the conscience. Weiler's very firm but remarkably temperate replies to the aggrieved author, along with her letters to him, can be read here (long, but well worth reading). Other comment on this case can be found here and here. The question for France, of course, is whether this case reveals a defect in its libel laws that calls for amendment.

Spain: The Next Battleground for the Euro

Discussed here.

Égratigné par Gracq

Julien Gracq, one of the great writers of the past century, avoided publicity, but some thoughts about his contemporaries have posthumously leaked into the public domain (via Pierre Assouline):

Pas moins de 110 lettres et cartes adressées à un ami écrivain, où il dit sa déception à la lecture de Cent ans de solitude ("dans cette saga villageoise, je ne vois guère que la faconde d'un conteur arabe. Ce serait peut-être amusant à écouter sur une place de Marrakech"), le peu d'estime pour Bernard-Henri Lévy ("virtuose du renvoi d'ascenseur, auteur d'un étrange borborygme historico-philosophique, La Barbarie à visage humain"), l'amusement à la lecture du Lac de Jean Echenoz ("mais si gratuit - et un peu étroit d'envergure"), l'admiration lucide pour Régis Debray ("intelligent, mais gâté par le culte de la formule")...