Almost a week of apnea diving in American culture, with the 5 days we spent with Karen and Kerry in Paris and in Metz. Back for me to speaking English rather than Globish. Although I found out that Karen and Kathie do not speak exactly in the same manner, especially in the way that some vowels are pronounced and the expressions they use.
The Paris trip was pleasant for the French as we revisited or even discovered some touristy sights with a lot of pleasure. The offer of things to see and do is quite amazing and maybe explains why France, with 80 millions tourist entries per year, rides (caracole) way ahead of the pack of all tourist-target countries – tourism is apparently the first world wide global activity in terms of turnover, whatever this means in a detailed way. But it killed us both, as miles ad steps made our legs hurt for the whole week.
Is tourism a way to market the Past, History and Memory or a creative and modern tertiary activity? In other words, something that devours national patrimony and will eventually dwindle away or a strong activity that actually embeds the Past in the Present and in the Future?
The Musée des Arts Premiers is certainly a new way of looking at museums from a world wide cultural perspective, although anthropological museums are not new, as masks and beautiful artifacts are shown in ordinary Museums all over the world and as the Musée de l’Homme, the ancestor of the Quai Branly one, was a high point in museum circuit of Paris since I was a kid until its collection went to the Arts Premiers. Indeed, they are a kind of museum given away to the ethnographs, anthropologists and other human scientists, in a slot separate from that of the Historians and of the Historians of Art. What is new is the marketing part of the endeavour, including the architecture of Jean Nouvel and the effort of the Paris City to keep letting new architecture fit in its complex series of styles, piled up together since literally the Romans. See for example Grammaire des immeubles parisiens, Claude Mignot, Parigramme, 2004.
Part of the pleasure of our country here is food and we had some nice dining at the Café de la Paix, then the restaurant of the Louvre Hotel and Maire in Metz. Not bad in just 5 days! Some goods bottles, especially at home as Kathie went ashopping and picked up some real goodies from Burgundy.
My business week was as travel-full as usual, except that CDG was incredibly empty when I connected between flights through the Roissy hub: no lines at security, unheard of! The crisis is eating into intra-European travel. The planes were also empty seated and I could enjoy no-neighbor status.
People did not show up in my meetings or rather only the ones from the country where the meeting was taking place and one lonely guy from neighboring ones. Everybody is following the same rules. Stupid rules, I should add.
Domino theory, Lemmings behavior, moutons de Panurge, etc… There are so many expression to talk about this that this is is obviously not the first time that people behave in this manner. La société apprenante, tu parles !
My trip to Japan in 10 days was cancelled, as all overseas trips are cancelled, at least officially (the lab here was full of colleagues from the US lab, this week, maybe the US are not overseas any longer!). The Japanese offered to pay for my flight, but I had to say no, thank you, this not the key issue – a lie in a way – this was the reason that was given to me, but the truth in a more survival kit kind of way, because I cannot continue to behave differently from everyone else as I have been doing in the past or else would risk my skin!
What bothers me most, is that everyone is taking what they see as precautionary and necessary measures, which are effectively shutting down the economy room by room, in spite of the enormous macro-economic incentives en argent sonnant et trébuchant that the governments are pouring into the pocket of banks and corporations. The car industry cannot keep producing cars that pile up in inventories to the point that there is no space any longer for parking them! (hard to believe, actually!!). The Steel industry cannot keep on producing hot or cold rolled coils that the car industry has stopped ordering. There is no other way to act, they all say! And what we do is for the ultimate good of the organization. Here comes ethics!!!
People are being put in chômage partiel, while dividends, at a never-heard-before level will be paid to investors, who have sold their shares anyway and let the stock price drop by 2/3 of its value over 2 months….!!! The guy in Le Monde was saying that the rich are getting poorer and the poor staying as poor as before, but he should have thought a bit longer before making this easy crack, which is not true really.
Part of the blame rests on the shoulders of the stupid « breaking news » style press, which is never as happy as when the sky falls on our heads. On consumers, who stop buying things because they have been scared by the news they hear on TV and the bad news that they see coming into their life or fear that are coming. On commentators who say that health comes after a good « healthy » sickness (???), like when they compare the present Detroit auto industry to the US Steel Industry of 20 years ago and conclude, let them got into chapter 11. On banks, which cancel the loan they had already given to their customers, while the government are giving them tens or hundreds of billions of euros to restart the financing of the economy, including the trésorerie. Or my company which will « organize » the voluntary leave of 10,000 people world wide (and 6000 in Europe): could not find anyone to explain to me what this means. The only answer I proposed was that this was a kind of coitus interruptus… un retrait volontaire comme on dit aussi.
The key to all of this is that the top management in charge today has been riding over a bullish economy for many years and making brilliant decisions that are now showing as very short sighted and very stupid. Do we really believe that they can rise to the level of the challenge and change their behavior and the way they make decisions? Some of the politicians have made the agiornamento, but it remains to be seen if business can eventually reach the same level of enlightment, reach up to a future-oriented rather than cover-their-ass vision, be ready to turn around and give up fooling around with easy money.
I have not stopped being angry for several days now!
Jean-Pierre – Papi
There is so much more to say…
Like cutting (steel) production to keep prices up (or to poop up the stock price), a wishful thinking, naive concept that never worked in the past, see OPEC and more!
And the conviction of employees that beyond the voluntary job reduction, will come simple firings. The element of trust and pride in the company is vanishing like the smile of the Cheshire cat.
Aussi, on en profite pour charger la barque…