Archive for November 4th, 2005

Paris is Burning

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What’s
happening in France these days is important.  It
is the kind of unpredictable, spontaneous event which can change history
and upset the most carefully laid plans of mice and men. It is tempting
to make jokes about the obdurate and effete French, but it would be a
mistake.The current violence is potentially more significant than
the French student riots of May 1968.

The underlying conflict seems to be, as much as leaders
on both sides try to deny it, a clash of cultures.  More specifically,
it pertains to the tendency of advanced post-industrial economies, to
import large numbers of low level service employees and their dependents,
and embedding them in pockets of poverty amidst a culture of conspicuous
consumption.

The situation exists, to one degree or another, in
all of the industrial countries. From Germany to Canada to Spain to the
US, all of the Gang of Eight have these embedded cultural time bombs,
except for Japan which, whether from prescient understanding of the inherant
danger or from deeply ingrained xenophobia, has long resisted using foreign
workers.

It is an old story. 2,000 years ago it was rich, powerful
Rome, slowly filling up with Greek doctors and German muscle and Nubian
slaves and Egyptian fortunetellers. Aggressive and powerful cultures
have regularly, historically, devoured less dynamic neighbors, but like
the
python
that ate the alligator
, even normally passive ancient cultures can
be hard to digest.

We can only hope that as an immigrant culture itself,
accustomed to assimilating and melding new arrivals into a solid composite,
the United States will be relatively less troubled by the coming Clash
of Cultures.

Meanwhile, Paris is burning. And today,

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin met with more
than a dozen youths from troubled neighborhoods at his palatial offices
in
central Paris Friday afternoon, hoping to find a solution to the unrest.
He has vowed to put in place an "action plan" before the
end of the month to improve conditions in the country’s poor neighborhoods.

Yeah, like that’s going to help.

from the New York Times

Damaged Digit Dungeon

1

The Dowbrigade is currently limited by
a swollen and infected right index finger. Extrememly painful,
but not yet life-threatening, so no need to see a doctor – yet. However,
this IS our clicking finger, making web surfing awkward, and typing excruciating
and error-fraught. Worst of all, we can’t hold a piece of chalk, making
teaching a challenge. We are planning to investigate the workers compensation
regulations this weekend.  Stand by for more medical updates.