Don't believe France's reputation as a country where sexual peccadillos are always overlooked. After a vote by the country's National Assembly on Wednesday, it has just joined a growing group of European nations where buying sex is now illegal. France is not alone in its fresh efforts to curb prostitution. The move follows similar bans in Sweden and Norway, while other European countries are also scaling back laissez-faire prostitution policies. Germany is poised to change its liberal sex trade laws, while Ireland is also debating a measure similar to France's. Is the end of legal prostitution in Europe in sight?
(Don't miss the deep and interesting links found within the article.)[more inside]
World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
The Big Three of EU Foreign Policy: Stefan Lehne on the contrasting roles of Germany, France and the UK.
You eat too fast, and I understand why your antidyspeptic pill-makers cover your walls, your forests even, with their advertisements.
In 1891 author and lecturer ”Max O’Rell” (being the pen name of one Léon Paul Blouet) published an amusing account of his travels through the States and Eastern Canada - "A Frenchman In America" - that, along with the charming illustrations, reflect on then popular national stereotypes and character and is presented on Project Gutenberg in its entirely. (via)
Anti-ACTA protests have begun around Europe after the secret treaty was signed in Tokyo last Friday. Activists have planned larger protests for Saturday 11 February. The European Parliament will formally consider ACTA in June. (previously) [more inside]
Evan Osnos joins a tour group from China as they traverse Europe. In the front row of the bus, Li stood facing the group with a microphone in hand, a posture he would retain for most of our waking hours in the days ahead. In the life of a Chinese tourist, guides play an especially prominent role—translator, raconteur, and field marshal—and Li projected a calm, seasoned air. He often referred to himself in the third person—Guide Li—and he prided himself on efficiency. “Everyone, our watches should be synchronized,” he said. “It is now 7:16 P.M.” He implored us to be five minutes early for every departure. “We flew all the way here,” he said. “Let’s make the most of it.” [more inside]
So far this year there have been 118 cases of measles reported in the United States. [more inside]
Robert F. Gallagher served in the United States Army's 815th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Third Army) in the European Theater during WWII. He has posted his memoir online: "Scratch One Messerschmitt," told from numerous photos he took during the war and the detailed notes he made shortly afterwards. [more inside]
French general strike is going on. It's against a proposal by the French government to raise the normal retirement age for public pensions from 65 to 67 and early reduced pensions from age 60 to 62. All society is concerned. Voilà the manifestations of high-school students, so damn chic.
Europe according to... is a project to map stereotypes of European countries according to other countries and groups of people. [more inside]
Journeyman Pictures has uploaded nearly 4000 videos to YouTube. Many of these are trailers for the documentaries they sell, but they have also posted hundreds of full-length videos. Most are for short documentarie, but there are a lot of features too. It's somewhat daunting to explore, but the playlists are a good place to start, and so are the shows: Features, Shorts, News and Savouring Europe, a European travelogue series. Here's a few interesting ones: Gastronauts, about French culinary students working to make astronaut food more palatable, Demon Drummers, about student Kodo drummers, India's Free Lunch, about the effects of free school lunches on Indian society, The Twitter Revolution, about YouTube and Twitter's role in the 2009 Iranian uprising, Europe's Black Hole, about Transnistria, the breakaway region of Moldova, Small Town Boy, about a gay male carnival queen in a small town in England, The Vertigo of Lists, Umberto Eco talks about the ubiquity of lists in modern culture and Monsters from the Id, about scientists in the science fiction films of the Fifties.
A Moroccan man whose wife wears a veil has been denied citizenship on the basis that he has failed to assimilate into French society. [more inside]
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The economy is abjectly terrible, right? It's so bad that nowadays, a picture is only worth 200 words. On the other hand, the recession is over in Germany and France, and in the United States, the unemployment rate dropped just a smidgen last month. [more inside]
Wall stickers to stick on your wall (or furniture, or other stuff).
Goodbye Jacques! Today french voters will get rid of Chirac - charmingly called "The Bulldozer". Although he was not as bad as Silvio, France is in dire need of economic reform - something Frau Merkel has already started in Germany. So who will win this important election? Meet the candidates: Royal, Sarkozy and Bayrou.
Will the notion of the "West" soon be politically meaningless? A fascinating article by Brian Walden which raises questions about the direction Europe and the wider community is heading in C21. Some of the comments are particularly interesting.
Red State/Blue state France. Les résultats département par département. Remarkable that the U.S. isn't the only country that's split down the geographic middle. No translation, but the picture speaks for itself.
The Man Who Best Understood America Was A French Aristocrat: If there's a book which manages to grow better and more pertinent with every passing year, it's Tocqueville's fascinating, prescient and utterly apposite Democracy in America. Of how many other books could you safely say every American and European should read it and know beforehand they will enjoy it and learn from it? Of none.
Betrayed by Europe: An Expatriate’s Lament Journalist, novelist, and translator Nidra Poller, an American ex-pat who has been living in Paris with her family since 1972, writes in the latest issue of Commentary about her painful decision to leave her adopted homeland for the US. The main reason? Poller and her family are Jewish and scared for their lives. Her poignant essay is not just another report on the disturbing levels of anti-semitism in France or yet another French Jew abandoning the country for safer turf, but an examination of the power of hope (and inertia) in our lives, even when intellectually one sees no reason for hope: I'm being treated to a poignant lesson in European and Jewish history. The 30's: why did they stay? Why didn’t they run for their lives? Couldn’t they see what was happening? I see before me a vivid demonstration of the deep roots we dig to make our lives bloom, the intricate biology of a human life, irrigated with the lifeblood of a community, inextricably connected to a society, born of life to give life to keep life alive. Leaving is not packing up and tipping your hat goodbye. It is tearing live flesh out of a living matrix. A powerful and disturbing testimony.
Think We Can (French) Kiss and Make Up? Two years ago it was "I'll always love and support you". It only took a little while, though, before the arguments began. But there are always counselors to help you work on the relationship. There is even talk of reconciliation. And anyway, this love-hate relationship has been going on for almost three centuries.
Images of medieval architecture. A great site put together by Alison Stones, Professor of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. There are two large gazetteers, one for Britain, and one for France. Besides photos, there are many plans, sketches and elevation drawings, which help to give an idea of the sheer scale of gothic cathedrals such as the cathedral of Saint-Étienne at Bourges (scroll down for the human figures at the bottom).
"They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet." Is it wise for France to make opposition to war against Saddam such a central tenet of their foreign policy? Opposing the war may be politically sound today, but this seems a bit heavy-handed, and perhaps short-sighted. Is "European solidarity" just a code phrase for "France and Germany get to call the shots"?
Project Blinkenlights transforms the Tower T2 of the Bibliothèque nationale de France into a huge computer screen. Wanna play a giant game of Tetris via your mobile phone? Or just wonder at the giant pixellated images which the Parisiens can? Go here! Or if you have Unix on your computer, you can hook up live. Those wacky Euro's, eh?