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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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Thursday, 17 August 2006
Water Taxi Beach, Long Island City, Queens
Topic: World View
Our Man in Paris - New York, Water Taxi Beach, Long Island City, Queens
Our Man is Paris is Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, who this August isn't in Paris at all. One leaves Paris in August, of course. At least the Parisians do.

So Ric is in the Big Apple. Well, actually he's not in Manhattan. He's across the East River in Long Island City, Queens. Oh, you know - Astoria, Hunters Point, Blissville, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills and Bowery Bay - where you'll find the former Silvercup bakery, now home to Silvercup Studios, where they film The Sopranos for HBO. And there's the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, and the largest fortune cookie factory in the United States, owned by Wonton Foods, producing four million fortune cookies a day. That place.

This is not Paris, but Ric is having a fine time -
Arrived here with 100 degrees at JFK. No air-conditioning. But now New York has settled down to best summer weather many can remember. Coney Island doing fine. Had my cheesecake at Junior's. Been on the terrace of the Athens Cafe in Astoria, twice. Dancing on dirt at Flushing town hall - plus fancy eats for cheap. Man, New York City at 85 degrees, 35 percent humidity, 10 mph breeze - very, very fine. No need for Florida.

Here, Long Island City's very own and unique Water Taxi Beach, right across from 34th Street. Blindingly white sand blitzed most photos - overexposure! The photos - beach entry, beach flag, and beach cocktail area.

Here they are -

New York, Water Taxi Beach, Long Island City, Queens










New York, Water Taxi Beach, Long Island City, Queens










 New York, Water Taxi Beach, Long Island City, Queens










Editor's grab from Google Earth - Manhattan on the left, the East River in the middle, and Water Taxi Beach, Long Island City, Queens, from about 6,750 feet up.

New York, Water Taxi Beach, Long Island City, Queens - Google Earth image grab

Posted by Alan at 18:18 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Thursday, 27 July 2006
Odd Data
Topic: World View
Odd Data: If You're Looking for Happiness, Move To Denmark
Yes, from Reuters via CNN, If you're looking for happiness, move to Denmark.

It goes like this
It's the happiest country in the world while Burundi in Africa is the most unhappy, according to a new report by a British scientist released on Friday.

Adrian White, an analytical social psychologist at the University of Leicester in central England, based his study on data from 178 countries and 100 global studies from the likes of the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

"We're looking much more at whether you are satisfied with your life in general," White told Reuters. "Whether you are satisfied with your situation and environment."

The main factors that affected happiness were health provision, wealth and education, according to White who said his research had produced the "first world map of happiness."

Following behind Denmark came Switzerland, Austria, Iceland and the Bahamas.

At the bottom came the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Burundi. The United States came in at 23rd, Britain was in 41st place, Germany 35th and France 62nd.

Countries involved in conflicts, such as Iraq, were not included.

"Smaller countries tend to be a little happier because there is a stronger sense of collectivism and then you also have the aesthetic qualities of a country," White said.
But what about big countries with a sense of collective identity? Does collective identity trump quaintness? No. China comes in on the happiness ranking in 82nd place, Japan at 90th, and India at 125th. Smallness matters.

Of course Adrian White admitted collecting data based on well-being was not an exact science, but he said the measures used were "very reliable in predicting health and welfare outcomes." It seems lots of food and an SUV in every garage doesn't matter much. Oh well.

The University of Leicester press release is here -
Further analysis showed that a nation's level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels (correlation of .62), followed by wealth (.52), and then provision of education (.51).

The three predictor variables of health, wealth and education were also very closely associated with each other, illustrating the interdependence of these factors.
But what about just having more stuff than anyone else, even if you're badly educated and don't know much, and you and everyone around you is seriously obese?

Try this -
There is a belief that capitalism leads to unhappy people. However, when people are asked if they are happy with their lives, people in countries with good healthcare, a higher GDP per captia, and access to education were much more likely to report being happy.
Well then, here we do have the stuff, and if you have the money the healthcare is fine (exclude forty-four million Americans who can't afford to pay for healthcare insurance), and although much of public education is disintegrating if you have the funds you can get a pretty good education. Giving that, ranking 23rd seems about right.

American valuesThe happiness rankings:

1. Denmark
2. Switzerland
3. Austria
4. Iceland
5. The Bahamas
6. Finland
7. Sweden
8. Bhutan
9. Brunei
10. Canada
11. Ireland
12. Luxembourg
13. Costa Rica
14. Malta
15. The Netherlands
16. Antigua and Barbuda
17. Malaysia
18. New Zealand
19. Norway
20. The Seychelles

The outliers:

23. USA
35. Germany
41. UK
62. France
82. China
90. Japan 125. India
167. Russia

The bottom three:

176. Democratic Republic of the Congo
177. Zimbabwe
178. Burundi

The map.

Note: The photograph was taken at the 900 block of North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Wednesday, July 26, 2006.

Posted by Alan at 18:59 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006 06:53 PDT home

Wednesday, 19 July 2006
Our Man in Paris: The Heat Wave
Topic: World View
The Heat Wave
Cole Porter may love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles, but it can be unbearable. Our Man in Paris, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, sends us the status midweek, with photos.
Paris - Wednesday, July 19 -

I don't know how things are in Hollywood today, but here the thermometers are popping their gaskets. The breeze - there is one - feels like it is full of fine sand from the Sahara. So appropriate for the beginning of "Paris-Plages" tomorrow.

Captured, Matt z'Art standing under the famous pharmacy thermometer, convinced that it gets its temperatures from Yahoo France because that is what he has on his Internet radio. He can look out the window and see if the sign is right. While standing there the temp hopped up another half degree, to blood temperature. Cool, eh?




The previous afternoon, 15h00 [3:00 pm], in the 14th arrondissement -

Paris heat wave - pharmacy thermometer









My Fahrenheit to Celsius converter says 37 Celsius in the first photo is 98.6 Fahrenheit. And Ric has much more to say about all this here.

Out here? At three in the afternoon on the 19th it was 104 at the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Ventura Boulevard, over the hill in Studio City. That's what the thermometer on the bank said anyway. That would be 40 Celsius.

Wednesday, July 19, USA Today says Europeans Struggle to Keep Cool in Heat Wave.

A few paragraphs on France -

In France, several days of dry heat and high temperatures - which reached 97 degrees in Paris on Wednesday and 102 degrees in Bordeaux a day earlier - recalled a heat wave in 2003, when 15,000 people died from dehydration and heat-related disorders. Many were elderly and were in some cases left alone while families vacationed. Since then, France's government has adopted measures to avoid a repeat of the disaster. On Wednesday, French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin visited a retirement home to check on the prevention plan.

In Paris, heat-busters included four giant humidifiers placed around the Eiffel Tower, one at each foot, that sprayed passersby with water vapor as they tried to escape the sun's punishing rays.
And some news nuggets from London -
At the historic Royal Courts of Justice, judges were allowed to remove their traditional wigs for court proceedings. One of Britain's largest trade union federations, the Trades Union Congress, issued a statement urging people to wear shorts to work.

And in a rare move, the two-hour shifts of the royal guards who stand outside Buckingham Palace were reduced to one hour at the beginning of the week in preparation for the heat, said the London headquarters spokesman, Col. David Sievwright.

At the Colchester Zoo, zookeepers gave lions ice blocks flavored with blood, and monkeys got blocks containing fruit.

But the heat failed to dash one of Queen Elizabeth II's annual garden parties. Nearly 8,000 people lined up to enter Buckingham Palace.

Did they serve ice blocks flavored with blood?

A screen capture at 6:30 in the evening, Wednesday, July 19, 2006 in Hollywood, 9:30 in New York, and 3:30 in the morning in Paris -

Weather forecast - LA, NYC, Paris











 Global warming, or just summer?

Paris photos and text, copyright © 2006 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

Posted by Alan at 19:04 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006 20:16 PDT home

Monday, 20 March 2006
Paris: Sunday
Topic: World View

Paris: Sunday
Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, had no Our Man in Paris column in Sunday's Just Above Sunset. He's been busy with the redesign of his site, with the kids, and with his upcoming trio to New York. But there were big doings in Paris this weekend, and more. He explains, below, with photos.

Paris, Sunday, March 19, 2006 - Busy with Metropole's facelift, busy getting ready for New York, and busy with my kids here this weekend. They are good kids and we went across the street to visit Serge's grave, admire the metro ticket collection and the five fairly fresh cabbages.

On Saturday we 'helped' with the third march to protest the government plan for a new employment 'contract' for first-times hires under 25. This was easy because it started from here - Denfert-Rochereau, just down the street. As promised by union leaders, the occasion drew twice as many as the second demo which had twice as many as the first.

Perhaps 350,000 in Paris, for a total of one million-plus throughout France. I hope this explains why the French did not join in the anti-war stuff Saturday. They were busy giving their government the finger.

We had a nice spot outside the Santé. Prisoners were chanting and marchers gave solidarity salutes back. Students led the monster parade, which was said to be five kilometers long - still leaving Denfert as it was breaking up at Nation. Coverage on the TV-news was extensive but we did not see ourselves.

Last night union leaders were to meet to discuss the next step. If the government will not renounce its plan to introduce the contested law, union bonzen have said the government may face a general strike. Just so they won't be able to say they didn't know.

Sunday's reactions not registered yet. Our politicos talk on Sundays too.



As of Monday morning this - "The French Prime Minister, Mr Dominique De Villepin refused to back down from his contested youth jobs plan, despite a growing movement of student opposition and the looming threat of a general strike."

Trouble brewing - this is a big deal.

And Serge's grave? That would Serge Gainsbourg (1928 - 1991), the poet, singer-songwriter, actor and director, buried in Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. "His home at the well-known address 5bis rue de Verneuil is still covered by graffiti and poems."

There's much more information at the link, including this -
One of the most frequent interpreters of Gainsbourg's songs was British singer Petula Clark, whose success in France was propelled by her recordings of his tunes. In 2003, she wrote and recorded "La Chanson de Gainsbourg" as a tribute to the composer of some of her biggest hits.

Since his death, Gainsbourg's music has reached an iconic stature in France. His lyrical brilliance in French has left an extraordinary legacy. His music, always progressive, covered many styles: Jazz, ballads, mambo, lounge, reggae, pop (including adult contemporary pop, kitsch pop, yé-yé pop, 80s pop, pop-art pop, prog pop, space-age pop, psychedelic pop, and erotic pop), disco, calypso, Africana, bossa nova and rock and roll. He has gained a following in the English-speaking world with many non-mainstream artists finding his imaginative and eclectic arrangements highly influential.

He is also considered to be one of the first music pop artists of the late 1960s. While artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein explored modern iconographic consumer culture through painting, Gainsbourg explored similar territory in music with songs such as "Comic Strip," "Ford Mustang," "Qui est In Qui est Out," and "Teenie Weenie Boppie."
You were probably wondering.


... we went across the street to visit Serge's grave, admire the metro ticket collection and the five fairly fresh cabbages.

The grave of Serge Gainsbourg - Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris.

... outside the Santé. Prisoners were chanting and marchers gave solidarity salutes back

Demonstrators at the Santé prison in Paris, Sunday, March 19, 2006

Demonstrators at the Santé prison in Paris, Sunday, March 19, 2006

Students led the monster parade, which was said to be five kilometers long...

Students led the monster parade, which was said to be five kilometers long - demonstrations, Paris, Sunday, March 19, 2006

... still leaving Denfert as it was breaking up at Nation.

Students led the monster parade, which was said to be five kilometers long - demonstrations, Paris, Sunday, March 19, 2006

Things wind down...

Street demonstration in Paris, Sunday, March 19, 2006

Photos and Text, Copyright © 2006 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

Posted by Alan at 10:12 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006 10:34 PST home

Wednesday, 1 March 2006
Our Man in Paris: The News There
Topic: World View

Our Man in Paris: The News There
Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, sends the scoop from Paris as March arrives. Right now MetropoleParis has paused publication for maintenance (actually a complete new design), so posts there, and here, are somewhat occasional, as Ric is rather busy. But he does keep up on things.

PARIS, Wednesday, March 1, 2006 - In a rare radio moment, Radio France-Info broadcast remarks made by GW Bush, somewhere in the world today, talking about IE-ran. Unfortunately Radio France chose to overspeak the free world's supremo in French, thus hindering us from hearing his remarks in total VO. How does he say 'nuclear?'

Apparently, it will be okay for Russia to treat Iran's nuclear waste and return it to them as weapons-grade plutonium. The worst would be for the Iranians to do it themselves. In addition, GW Bush said that it was a major non-non to spread the knowledge of making A-bombs, and Iranians must be prevented from looking it up on Google at all costs.

Meanwhile, India is eagerly awaiting the American supremo's arrival so they can tell him how many Boeings they intend to purchase, eternally hoping to get a better deal than they got from Chirac for the Airbuses last week.

Chirac is back in France, bravely eating chicken at the featherless Salon d'Agriculture, which is moaning about low attendance numbers. The president always gets to go the first day, last Saturday, and the presidential candidates have been hitting it this week. De Villepin, popularity slumping over his crummy employment 'contact' for unemployed kids, gobbled up some chicken, heaved a lamb, and kissed the best-looking of the Blondes d'Aquitaine on Tuesday.

More meanwhile, France has locked up its edible fine-feathered friends, while the whole world lays on boycotts on birdstuff from France. Bird hunters, usually whining about this and that, are out in force with their telescope glasses, eyeballing the birds returning from Africa, doing something useful for a change. One comment - with TV showing some kind of heron - "This bird is a bit tuckered out after a 4000 km flight from Africa." The bird looked like one of its legs had a cramp, from a too-short seat I suppose.

Another meanwhile, up on the Baltic some poor pussycat has turned up dead from this bird fever and the whole world is going gaga about keeping Miou-Miou locked up inside. Then somebody says, "Hey! What about my Fido? We're locking him up too." This is getting serious when the dogs and cats of this world can't run around outside as free as birds.

There's a bunch of judicial news too - major terrorist on trial - innocence iffy, but he's been locked up 10 years already, before the trial, which has just begun. Another guy is charged with poisoning competitors of his tennis-playing kid, to kind of improve his game chances. Some gang kidnapped a dude, tortured him and then bumped him off, and now it has become a 'hate' crime because the victim was Jewish, and the whole country is out marching to protest. Now the cops tell us about similar crimes, kidnapping with ransom demands - but unrelated to the 'gang' job. The so-called 'brain' of the outfit escaped to the Cote d'Ivoire but the cops down there busted him. French prosecutors are still sore with all the perps who won't confess to their crimes. They say it places a heavy burden on the judicial process, having to have proof of guilt. Along this line a parliamentary commission has just finished investigating an investigating prosecutor about the overturned convictions of a whole slew of folks who were convicted of heavy pedophile crimes, who all served long terms in custody. But I digress.

Monday night's dreaded 'Orange Alert' for Tuesday snow for the Paris area turned out to be a false alarm for the city unless it happened while I was asleep, but the weather is keeping to its winter mode with temperatures lower than normal, skies grayer than usual, and it's rotten cold. Nothing to write home about.

- Goodblognight from Paris

Copyright © 2006 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

Editor's Note:

What's he talking about? You could look it up.

Yahoo! newswire indexed on France
The Tocqueville Connection (AFP wire items)
Les revues de presse de RFI (daily summary of French press in English)

Posted by Alan at 16:33 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

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