Thursday, June 24, 2010


A slight miscalculation on the proposed Greater Paris metro, it seems.

Meanwhile ...

As for non-football-related news, unemployment spiked sharply upward, but Herr Schäuble remains convinced that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

France-America 2

Well, Gen. McChrystal may not think much of France (see previous post), but Gen. Petraeus's wife majored in French lit:

A senior at Dickinson College, Holly was fluent in French and finishing her honors dissertation on the novelist François Mauriac. It was a whirlwind romance. 


What's wrong with France's reaction to its football debacle at the World Cup? Dan Drezner will tell you.

And what's wrong with France according to Gen. Stanley McChrystal? Its restaurants are "too Gucci," its ministers "too gay," and, on the whole, the country is just too civilized for the former "Boss" of "Team America." McChrystal's background is in Special Forces, guys who like to style themselves "snake-eaters," so you can imagine they might find all the forks and knives on a Parisian table a little bewildering. So what does Team America do when stuck in Paris because volcanic ash has grounded all flights? It celebrates the general's wedding anniversary at Kitty O'Shea's Irish Bar.

So, to Dan Drezner I say, to every Alain Finkielkraut there is a Stanley McChrystal. France should not be reduced to its overwrought intellectuals, nor America to its uncouth warriors.

As for the Steven Erlanger article to which Drezner refers, which cites Fadela Amara's complaint that the vituperation directed against the French team, largely composed of blacks, is "opening a superhighway for the National Front," let's not forget that much of the anger is directed at both the coach, Domenech, who is white (as well as "the most detested man in France"), and the French Football Federation, which is dominated by (near-)dead white males. Of course the new coach is named Laurent Blanc, perhaps a sign that the backlash has already set in, and on France2 last night it was suggested that Blanc might build his new team around Yann Gourcuff, the white Adonis who may or may not have been ostracized by his teammates.

Sorbonne University

Yet another reorganization/plan of cooperation/quasi-integration of several Parisian institutions of higher learning. I wish them luck. Really, Paris ought to have a great university. But I don't think it can be achieved by signing conventions. If I'm wrong, I'll not only eat my hat, I'll wear a "University of Sorbonne" sweatshirt the next time I'm in Paris, just as the French tourists I see in Harvard Square wear "University of Harvard" T-shirts that reveal that they're greenhorns fresh off the boat.

As for what needs to be done beyond signing conventions, I don't have the time even to begin a recitation of the familiar litany. I imagine, in any case, that those who are signing the conventions know these things as well as, if not better than, I do. But they don't say so out loud. It would be impolitic. So nothing happens. Five years from now we will hear that the name has been changed yet again: Sorbonne Université, ex Paris Universitas, will have become, oh, I don't know, l'Université Victor Cousin, professors will still be without offices and students without libraries or laboratories, and roofs will still be leaking. Call me a pessimist.