Friday, January 20, 2006

It's Pretty, But I'll Take Greed And Capitalism Anyday

Tur de Eiffel

Sacre Couer
We were greeted by blue skies when we departed the apartment in the morning and were chased home by the rain in the afternoon. But not before I had the chance to get a few cool pictures.
A few words on socialism in action.
Customer service here sucks. Actually, it would have to exist to suck so it is more accurate to say it is non-existent here. It is probably because the laws here are so outrageously pro-worker that you cannot get fired even if you are a retarded imbecile who does not work at work. So there is no incentive to smile, be nice or lift a finger for anyone who walks into your store. They do not take returns at stores and the lady at the grocery store got pissed off when we decided not to buy the wine after she scanned it.
If a business is going to shut down, it has to get permission from the government and prove that it does not have the means to pay the workers anymore before it can fire anyone. If it fires workers without government approval, the business will be legally liable to pay those salaries. Essentially, businesses exist as charitable institutions for workers. I have no idea how this economy survives. Did I mention the mandatory 5 weeks of vacation (I think I remember this correctly, but I might be wrong) and 35-hour work week? It is a miracle anything gets done here.
A few words on the French/American love-hate relationship.
I think it has to do with meeting your match. Imagine a discussion between the average American nitwhit and French dumbdumb. "We're the greatest in the world and our culture is superior to everyone else's". "No, you're wrong, we are the greatest, most superior people in the world." Arrogant assholes who think they are better than everyone else do not generally like competition. The French invented the principle of manifest destiny and America continues to be inspired by Rudyard Kipling's poem "The White Man's Burden". Two sides of the same coin.


At 3:55 PM, January 20, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Hey, glad you're having a good time. Remind me though, not to invite you to my house, and have you take pictures, and then editorialize what a stuffed shirt I am. :)

Paris is a unique place, and my experience is that they don't like anyone, even other Frenchman.

France is a different place, but it has been my experience that they open up a bit, and are more friendly if you make a concerted effort to speak the language. There are too many arrogant neo-con's that visit the damn place, and give average American's a bad name.

French vacation and holidays. A bizillion of them. My company has offices in France, and I have worked with French employees extensively. At least for my company, they work like dogs, very long hours, but when they take time off, they are gone for 4 to 5 weeks at a pop and there is no backup, so basically you're screwed during that timeframe.

I've only stayed in small Pensions, and the service has been great, and genuine. Outside in ze public, and fergitaboutit. Take lot's of pictures at Versailles if you make it out there.

At 4:18 PM, January 20, 2006 , Blogger Boris Yeltsin said...

Never been there, but I heard it's nice. France and America should just get a room! Tell me about the mosques. I heard they've got more Muslims per capita than any other country in Europe, and from what I understand, that's alot. Is that true?

At 2:07 PM, January 21, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Mr. S,

You are right that they are much nicer when you make an effort to speak the language. Fair enough. I do not begrudge them for that. Parisians are similar to NY'ers. Gruff on the outside, but quite genuine once you dig below the surface.

BY -

I haven't been to the mosques here, but France does have the largest Muslim population in Europe. Primarily Arab and some are African. The few Arabs I did have the chance to speak with here are very happy to be here and feel very "French" in culture. The riots were completely outside the city in the "hood" and didn't affect the dynamic of Paris. Race is a really different issue in France, which I will save for a post soon.

At 10:49 PM, January 21, 2006 , Blogger Stalin the Shark said...

I'm with Mr. Sleep on the French; they actually have a higher GDP per manhour than we do.

And yes, the Parisians are insufferable for much the same reasons us New Yorkers are. Can you imagine if anyone were unwise enough to come here and not speak our language? They'd be hounded into the East River with pitchforks.

Here's a couple of fun things, if you have the time and once the shock and awe of Paris has worn off a bit:

- The Musee de la Ville de Paris is in the old Hotel de Rohan. It's fascinating. Drop by Shakespeare and Co. in the Quartier Latin and get yourself a cheap edition of Dumas 'La Collier de la Reine'; part of it takes place in the Hotel de Rohan.

- Wander up the Rue du Temple, away from the Seine, and see medieval Paris; it's awesome, great shopping too.

- Check out Napoleon in the Dome des Invalides or Voltaire in the Pantheon. They're both on the rive gauche, which pronounced 'reef gosh' sounds very proletarian and hence sexy.

- Go to Fauchon. You'll gain pounds, but you'll never eat Hershey's again.

:-), StS

At 1:32 PM, January 22, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

I went to Shakespeare & Co. Greatest bookstore in the world.

At 12:01 PM, January 23, 2006 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

Paris is my favorite city in the world. If you speak French, it opens a whole bunch of doors. The South of France is also the bomb. I partied there in 2000 for 5 days straight, and I will never forget watching the moon rise above the placid Mediterrian(sp) as I drove along the beach in a convertible Chrysler.

French women are also super-hot. They are more tanned and a little thicker than American women.

At 2:36 PM, January 23, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Paris is in my top 5 list, but Munich right now is my #1. Been to Ocktoberfest 3 times, and I'm hooked. Plus I'm of Germanic heritage so that works too.

Bavarians like Americans on the whole.

Nothing like a Bavarian Beer Hall.
Eine, Zwei, Drei, Schtuffe or someting to that effect. It doesn't take long to figure out the words to a few drinking songs, and you have to marvel at the Beer Hall servers carrying 5 or 6 liter mugs (full) in each hand.

Munich, like Paris, Washington D.C., and London are all great walking city's.

At 1:14 PM, January 25, 2006 , Blogger Birdy said...

Who even knew this about the French?
I guess you.
Nice post.

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