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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Tuesday, 13 January 2004

Topic: Oddities

As Seattle goes, so goes the world. On the Reuters wire today...

Yesterday I covered the opening of the first Starbucks in Paris. See The end of the world? No. It's just time to teach those foolish French a thing or two about the good life for that.

My concluding comment was this: "Well, what about the dubious charm of all that? We Americans want Paris to be, well, Paris, when we arrive. We don't want it to be Seattle. It seems the French don't care for such silly nostalgia."

Well, what comes next? Try this:

Coffee-Flavored Steak?
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
SEATTLE (Reuters) - The city that spawned America's obsession with strong, dark coffee is giving locals a popular new coffee-flavored steak, even while the mad cow scare that started in Washington state is putting some people off beef.

Rippe's, a local waterfront steak and seafood restaurant, began serving filet mignon steaks dusted with Starbucks Corp.'s dark espresso blend a few weeks ago and now has a runaway hit on its hands.

"The first night we tried it, about a third of the menu sold was the steak," said Chad MacKay, whose family runs several steak joints in the Seattle area.

MacKay said that the $29 steak, now dubbed the Seattle Signature Steak, was the brainchild of a waiter and a chef.

Despite being rubbed with coffee grinds before grilling, the 12-ounce steak, although a bit crunchy, carries only a subtle whiff of coffee flavoring. ...
Coming soon to Paris and everywhere else?

Well, there are lots of things on the Reuters wire.

There's this:

White Socks Declared Indecent
AMSTERDAM (Reuters 2004-01-13) - White socks have been declared indecent by the Dutch Finance Ministry.

A ministry official on Tuesday confirmed a recent internal publication that proclaimed white sports socks "transgress the limits of decent dress behavior" for ministry employees.

The officials were also expected to wear dark blue or gray suits in order to convey "reliability and professionalism."

"People are expected to dress in accordance with their function," said a spokeswoman, stressing there were no strict controls.
Okay then.

And for those of you who have wandered off to the left and looked at my profile, there's this:

Mustache Means Money, Authority for Police
NEW DELHI (Reuters 2004-01-13) - Police in northern India are being paid an extra 65 cents a month to grow a mustache to give them more authority, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Mayank Jain, a superintendent with the Madhya Pradesh state police, told The Asian Age that research showed that police with mustaches were taken more seriously.

However, he added, the shape and style of police mustaches would be monitored to ensure they did not take on a mean look.
An extra sixty-five cents a month? Wow.

Posted by Alan at 09:19 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Monday, 12 January 2004

Topic: World View

The end of the world? No. It's just time to teach those foolish French a thing or two about the good life.

How so? See this item from l'Agence France-Presse (AFP) by way of The Tocqueville Connection: CAFE PURISTS FROTH AS STARBUCKS HITS PARIS
PARIS, Jan 11 (AFP) - Paris's cafe culture comes under assault with the opening of France's first Starbucks this week - but besides the purists does anyone really care?

The city that invented the art of whiling away a morning over a tiny cup of the strong and black - home of Les Deux Magots, Flore, Lipp, Le Procope, Le Select and a thousand other cafes - is bracing itself for a taste of the global brew.

After long hesitation the Seattle-based multi-national is taking the plunge into a market that is not quite like anywhere else. "It is with the utmost respect and admiration for the cafe society in France that we announce our entry," said chairman Howard Schultz at the announcement of the planned opening in September.
So, if you're in the Opera Garnier area next Friday, after you drop by the big American Express office to hear some real English and think about Cary Grant and George Kennedy duking it out on the roof of that place in the movie Charade, and after you've wandered up to les Galeries Lafayette Haussmann to pick up some GAP jeans, you can, according to the AFP, watch the locals "rushing to work in Reeboks clutching the cardboard froth-pot marked with the world-famous green-and-white mermaid." The new Starbucks is, by the way, opposite the old Air Algerie building.

"Every year the number of Starbucks around the world is doubling, but I hoped that here we were protected. It is the standardisation that I hate. Soon every high street in every city in every country in the world is going to look exactly the same," said Gilles Wallon, a 22-year-old journalism student.

Some take refuge in the hope that the venture will fail. According to Bernard Quartier, who represents cafe owners at the Union of Hotel Industry Trades, "I don't believe this concept is going to work because nothing can replace the conviviality and sociability of the French caf?."
Well, we'll see about that.

Will Starbucks "serve bucket-loads of the same jus de chaussettes - or sock juice - which the French believe is the staple of all American breakfasts."

Will it matter that smoking is strictly forbidden in and around this new Paris Starbucks? Maybe. The French do smoke quite a bit, even with their new sky-high taxes on tobacco.

Here's the AFP take:
But if Starbucks-bashers probably outweigh the Starbucks-pushers, both parties are vastly outnumbered by a third group: the non-committal, the non-ideological and the purely curious - Parisians who will take to the new arrival because it is convenient, comfortable and above all new.
AFP quotes that journalism student: "It doesn't matter what I think because I know Starbucks will be packed out when it opens. People will go there because they want the image. They want to think they are in an American movie or an episode of 'Friends.' They'll react in the same way here as they have done everywhere else."

And they quote one Maxime Switek; "To me it is puzzling and almost insulting that foreigners should think it a good media story that Starbucks is coming to France. Why should we be regarded as different from anyone else in the world? It's like you think we're freaks."

Ah yes, and AFP also notes that the traditional caf? places are in decline.
While the mythical names such as Les Deux Magots and Cafe Flore are now over-priced museum pieces, at the other end of the scale many Parisians lament the dirty, cigarette-strewn dives that many of their corner "troquets" have become, as well as the almost legendary ill temper of the staff.
Well, what about the dubious charm of all that? We Americans want Paris to be, well, Paris, when we arrive. We don't want it to be Seattle. It seems the French don't care for such silly nostalgia.

Posted by Alan at 09:39 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2004 09:45 PST home

Sunday, 11 January 2004

Topic: The Economy

War With Canada: We Cannot Let Them Get Away With This!

See Canada's job growth soars past U.S.
Numbers raise doubts over strength of economic recovery south of the border
Bruce Little, Economics Reporter, The Globe and Mail, Saturday, January 10, 2004 - Page B1
The red-hot Canadian employment market churned out an eye-popping 53,000 new jobs in December, in stark contrast to the United States, which added an anemic 1,000 bodies to the payrolls, raising doubts about the staying power of the economic recovery there.

The jump in December employment in Canada capped a frenzy of job creation through the latter part of 2003 that outpaced anything seen in more than two decades.

The Statistics Canada report yesterday -- which blew away economists' forecasts -- spurred the dollar to new heights, driving it ever closer to the 80 cent (U.S.) mark, a level last seen in March, 1993. The dollar rocketed up 0.58 cents (U.S.) to 78.67 cents yesterday.
What are we going to DO with these people? It's not nice to get George angry. He doesn't like being shown up.

And what's this about Canada running a surplus, not a massive deficit? These people do NOT know how to treat their wealthy.

They're downright un-American!

Posted by Alan at 20:32 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 11 January 2004 20:34 PST home

New Issue of Just Above Sunset now online!
Not much blogging today. Sunday is the day I do final assembly and post the week's new issue of this: Just Above Sunset Magazine.

Check it out.

Volume 2, Number 2 - new issue this date...

Posted by Alan at 19:37 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: The Culture

A Theological Note from the UK
FLASH: Pope Gregory the Great was WRONG!

I think I agree with Simon Blackburn over there at Cambridge University.

See Lust declared virtue, not vice
Lust has been wrongly branded a vice and should be "reclaimed for humanity" as a life-affirming virtue, according to a top philsopher.
BBC News, Sunday, January 11, 2004
Professor Simon Blackburn of Cambridge University is trying to "rescue" lust, arguing it has been wrongly condemned for centuries, the Sunday Times says.

His campaign is part of an Oxford University Press project on the modern relevance of the seven deadly sins.

The list of sins was drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century.

OUP has commissioned books on each of the sins - lust, anger, envy, gluttony, sloth, pride and greed.

Controlling lust

It says Prof Blackburn is aiming to save lust "from the denunciations of old men of the deserts, to deliver it from the pallid and envious confessor and the stocks and pillories of the Puritans, to drag it from the category of sin to that of virtue".

According to the Sunday Times, Prof Blackburn has defined lust as "the enthusiastic desire for sexual activity and its pleasures for its own sake".

The philosopher says that if reciprocated, lust leads to pleasure and "best flourishes when unencumbered by bad philosophy and ideology... which prevent its freedom of flow".

He points out that thirst is not criticised although it can lead to drunkenness and in the same way lust should not be condemned just because it can get out of hand, the paper says.

Professor Blackburn is quoted as saying: "The important thing is that generally anything that gives pleasure has a presumption in its favour.

"The question is how we control it."
Control it? I knew there was a catch!

Posted by Alan at 09:27 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

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