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November 9, 2003 Odds and Ends

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Michael Fitzpatrick does the daily review of the French press on the RFI website.  I sometimes glance to see just what news is getting emphasis, and just what is not, in another culture.  Friday the 7th he mentioned an odd item. 

In Le Monde that day we find out everything we know about lemmings is wrong.  See http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3244,36-340992,0.html - « Le suicide des lemmings, une fable sans le moindre fondement » - if your French is up to it.   Short version?  They really don't commit mass suicide.  Darn.  And it was a useful myth.

And Fitzpatrick tells us Le Figaro has a piece on which countries are the worst - which to avoid if you want to avert the chance of an awful, violent end.  Russia is number one, the United States number fifteen.  And Le Figaro also tells us that "love" can help you kick the smoking habit, and botching the affair - when love goes wrong - can make you smoke more.  Yeah, yeah.  The site (http://www.lefigaro.fr/) is well-designed, even if the paper is a bit to the right of the political spectrum.  I find myself reading the car reviews, looking at odd little machines that will never be marketed in America.  Oh well.

What Fitzpatrick doesn't mention is this in Le Figaro - « Harry Potter... le compte à rebours est lancé J-25. C'est dans la nuit du 2 au 3 décembre que sortira dans les librairies françaises "l'Ordre du Phénix", cinquième volume de la saga Harry Potter. Enquête sur un phénomène de société auprès des premiers concernés : les jeunes lecteurs. »  The URL is http://www.lefigaro.fr/magazine/20031107.MAG0039.html - and in short, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix hits the bookstores in France in early December.  In French, not English.  It has folks worried.  An interesting article.

Also from France, AFP (l'Agence France-Presse) reports that now in addition to Mecca Cola you can stock up on Salam Cola.  I don't think the executives at Coca Cola in Atlanta are terribly worried.
French Muslims get new cola for Ramadan
PARIS, Oct 27 (AFP) - A new cola drink was launched Monday in France - but much of the target market will not be able to drink it during the daytime for the next month.
The drink, named Salam Cola after the Arabic word for peace, was put on the market in time for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, during which observant Muslims do not eat, drink or smoke during the day.
It is produced in bottles in the north of France and in cans in the Netherlands and has been on sale in Belgium for the last six weeks.
"We are already falling behind demand," said Rabah Kechich, production manager. About 230,000 bottles and half a million cans had already been put on the market, he said.
The new drink "is part of the emergence of new alternative products with an ethnic character which encourage useful and committed consumption", the manufacturers said in a statement.
It will face competition from another Islamic fizzy drink - Mecca Cola - which has been sold in France since the end of last year.
Responses from my friends on seeing this?
Phillip (in the deep south, in Georgia)  - "Holy Ghost Cola will be next."
Rick (in the deep south, in Georgia)  "Or maybe I can open that 'Yom Kippur Fast Food Cafe' that I've always dreamed of!  Since I'm not that anxious to spend too much time and effort on cooking, I would open it just that one day each year.  Think of it!  All those observant folks taking the day off from work?  Where do you think they're gonna go for
lunch, eh?
Martin (the Wall Street attorney) "Of course it would have to be a Chinese restaurant."
Rick - "Okay, not being Jewish, I didn't realize the importance of that! Chinese it is!  (Just as long it closes by sundown so's I can be home in time for dinner, I won't care.)"
Martin - "You won't get much business closing at sun down.  That's when the fasting ends and the feasting begins.  Sounds like your business plan needs some tweaking."
Rick - "Okay, Martin, you see the glass as half empty (we won't get much business), while I see it as half full (we won't have to work very hard).  I reckon we have a complementing attitude thing going on here, so maybe we should open this business together! Hey, what the heck, it's only for one day a year!  (But I call dibbsies on the day shift!)"
And I am not at all sure how we got there from here.