Interdum stultus opportuna loquitur...

Monday, March 13, 2006


Note - from June 24th 2009, this blog has migrated from Blogger to a self-hosted version. Click here to go straight there.

I've been very busy today organising the insurance for a vehicle acquisition (bloody Frogs have nationalised health, education, trains... but not third-party insurance - the one thing that would be sensible).

So when we went out to Cergy to look at the impending RantMobile, we knew that it generated a problem - two Australians, buying a vehicle in France, where third-party insurance is mmandatory but must be acquired in the marketplace from a private insurer. To get your premiums down you have to show and absence of accidents on your driving record (proving a negative). (Plus, I have been driving for 20 years and have never had a licence, so I'm a write-off from the start!!).

Anyhow - all this stuffing around has left me little time to do stuff. Except find another brilliant place to eat. It's a little Vietnamese restaurant in Rue Monge (called "Foyer Viet Nam") which is just down the road from where I get the groceries when I head home from the internet cafe.

What a gem - the nem (like spring rolls, but much bigger and tastier) are only €3.50, and the Soupe Pho (a Hanoiese soupe with noodles and beef and ginger... sensational) was only €6.50. And not an Anglo in sight. There were loads of student-y types, and I got chatting with a gentleman who was sat nexzt to us (everybody sits cheek by jowl in this VERY unassuming place).

We were chatting away - me in my deplorable (but swiftly improving) French, aided by this gentleman in his good (but not perfect) English. He splits his time between a house in the 5th and a place in Geneva (he lives mostly in Geneva) - oh, for a life like that...

Anyhow - at the end of the meal he fishes out his card (loads of French folk carry personal 'visitng cards') and hands it over, inviting us to drop in if we are in Geneva. On the card it turns out that he is a Chevalier des Artes et Lettres - France's highest literary honour. His son in law is ... an Aussie. Small world.

Anyway, that's by way of background.

More background: Slobodan Milosevic was murdered, my favourite French politician (Dominique de Villepin - he of the perfect coiffure) is watching his presidential ambitions die... in a slow-motion train wreck over the 'Contrat Premiere Embauche' (CPE) which is the French equivalent of Howard's gutting of unfair dismissal procedures. Meanwhile, the chatter about Iran keeps getting worse except for those who keep an eye on teh Russian and Chinese media, which show that China and Russia will almost certainly be drawn in if a theater-wide conflict ensues.

(Note - as you know, the words "favourite" and "politician" go together like 'favourite' and 'crutch infection').

Anyhow... note this, and note it well. Islamic clerics long ago declared a fatwah, decreeing that nuclear weapons could never be used aggressively (effectively, denying Islamic forces any nuclear first-strike capability). People like Osama bin Laden take the declarations of the ulema very seriously.

Ask yourself this: given that Osama has at least four suitcase nukes, why has he not detonated one somewhere significant? your answer should be "Because he is respecting the fatwah... but if the US uses any nukes in an attack on Iran, expect the molten glass treatment on a US city." It is also consistent with the Islamic requirement ot invite your enemy to negotiate before taking significant action - the recent offer of a truce by bin Laden should be seen as a prelude to something of at least the same scale as September 11th.

Use this bounce to short again... at least we can have market fun even while Cheney and his JINSA cronies drive the human race to the brink of extinction.

On a lighter note, I think I will enrol at the Sorbonne next year - or perhaps I will do the one-year, coursework-only, English-language PhD in International Relations which is offered by a UN-related entity here in Paris. Might be fun to stir up the Americans in the class...