Category Archives: Latest Happenings

“Non” a la Constitution European

Generally, Paris voted to ratify the Constitution, but not my neighborhood. Pinched between a university and low income housing towers, my neighborhood is comprised of exactly the demographic that pushed the Non to a 10% victory.

The dog park perspective

They are elated. They are throwing parties, and ostracizing friends who voted Oui. I am a bit sad, though I don’t say, because I would like a strong Europe to provide some kind of balance between the ambitions of China and the arrogance of the United States.

I don’t speak my mind because I find the no holds barred, cage match style, French political discussions are not to my taste. But that has given me the chance to listen a lot.

People are tired of unemployment, they blame this on their government and on Europe in general. They are angry and afraid about globalization, and they feel they will lose benefits (like unemployment and retirement) with the current constitution, which, from there point of view is far too liberal (free market). They say, Oui a l’Europe, mais non a ce version de l’Europe. I’m not really sure to what extent I believe that argument.

I am discovering that the French are incredibly nationalistic. Interesting, since they are the first to criticize Americans for being overly sentimental about their country. It also doesn’t jive with the practiced cynicism they apply to every subject except their dogs latest gastro.

I believe they are afraid to lose their country, their culture, their strikes, their work. To be a United States of Europe is terrifying. They want to stay French, and from my observations, don’t actually feel European except in the most academic way.

Eric, Hugo, and I arrived in Kyoto

Small Street in Kyoto with lighted black and white signsAround five in the afternoon we met at the Ryokan Yuhara. We took our time settling in, and then went to explore. We walked along the Takase Canal and Kamo River. The canal is bordered by tiny streets and traditional architecture. The river by restaurants with decks which offer al fresco dining. We made it to the more Tokyo-like section of kyoto at nightfall and Hugo took a photo (password required, email me if you’d like one) that I’m very jealous of.