Here We Go Again…

From the Miami Herald:

Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist.

Broward Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney said it’s not uncommon for screens on heavily used machines to slip out of sync, making votes register incorrectly. Poll workers are trained to recalibrate them on the spot — essentially, to realign the video screen with the electronics inside. The 15-step process is outlined in the poll-workers manual.

So, the Florida voting authorities have the situation under control. I am so reassured. And since the people who make voting machines generally make banking ATMs too, I wonder how often cash machines go out of sync and what it looks like when they do?

Trainspotter

From this morning’s Guardian. Someone must be very angry with British Rail.

Transport police are hunting for an “exceptionally antisocial” man who has been defecating on trains across the country, causing tens of thousands of pounds-worth of damage.

link to article

So You Want to Be an ISP in the South of France? (Part 2)

(first published on the web, 20 Oct, 1996)
Part 2: Oh-la-la, an Entrepreneur!

Back in 1789, the French overthrew their monarchy and aristocrats and became the first country in Europe to implement democratic government.

Vive le peuple!

Two centuries later, it appears they have had second thoughts, albeit subliminally. Without going so far as to ask the Bourbons to come back to royal power, they have done the next best thing, creating and carefully feeding the concept of “l’Administration”, which is now plump and juicy, but unfortunately for France and frenchpersonnes everywhere, completely inedible. (Continued)

The “Paris Syndrome”

France is the world’s #2 consumer of antidepressant drugs, eg Prozac or Deroxat (AKA Paxil). Japan is the world #1. Does that help explain this morning’s story from this Reuters news release?

Around a dozen Japanese tourists a year need psychological treatment after visiting Paris as the reality of unfriendly locals and scruffy streets clashes with their expectations, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

“A third of patients get better immediately, a third suffer relapses and the rest have psychoses,” Yousef Mahmoudia, a psychologist at the Hotel-Dieu hospital, next to Notre Dame cathedral, told the newspaper Journal du Dimanche. (Continued)

Tuesday Quote

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.

Goering at the Nuremberg Trials

New Wine Woes for France

In general, the French do not like change. So it is safe to assume that the French wine industry, pummeled as it has been of late, will not like the late breaking news about a looming change of major proportions, which in agricultural circles is affectionately called ‘climate change’.

Agence France Presse reports today, in an article in Seed, that because “a rise of one degree Celsius by 2035—as predicted by one United Nations model—would see winegrowing regions shift, on average, 180 kilometres (110 miles) northwards“, it looks like the best French wines will be cultivated, in 2025 at least, in lands that are 180 km x number of degrees C. of climate change toward the north.

According to my calculations, this puts New Burgundy somewhere near Manchester and New Bordeaux in London’s West End. (Continued)

Bonds of Holy-Wedded Employment

From this morning’s Le Monde:

[tag]Laurence Parisot[/tag], head of the French (Big Bad) Bosses association, the [tag]MEDEF[/tag], recently proposed a novel new way for French bosses and employees to terminate a working relationship when the circumstances seem to call for it.

Her idea is that contract termination could be done by “friendly negociation pursued in the best interest of both parties, followed by indemnisation.” Friendly negociation is not really an option under [tag]French labor law[/tag] which long ago decreed that all modification of working relationships must be preceeded by conflict, agitation, strikes, and if required, violence.

“Amicable divorce between married man and woman has existed in France since 1975. Isn’t it time that we do the same for employer-employee relationships?”, Mme. Parisot said.

Predictably this proposal set off violent reactions from the syndicats. [tag]Jean-Claude Mailly[/tag], the big boss of the [tag]Force Ouvrière[/tag] union replied that the Civil Code (which applies to marriage) is not at all like the Work Code. In the former, the partners are regarded as equals, in the latter, there is a role of subordination. Speaking of the boss-worker relationship, he said, “To divorce one first has to married. And, the worker is not married to his employer.”

Haha.

Hahahaha.

Anyone who has ever hired someone in France quickly discovers that the simple act of hiring someone, ie, creating an employer/employee relationship, is far more constraining and convoluted than a simple marriage contract. Or in other words, the employer is indeed married to the employee. Says so right there on page 14,437 of the Code du Travail.

Hahahaha. I think I’m gonna cry.

French Post Office Goes High Tech

The French Post Office’s (La Poste) premium overnight parcel service, Chronopost, competes with UPS, DHL, TNT, Fed Ex, etc. for the coveted high-volume business user. Like their competition (which La Poste has only recently discovered from behind the 20-meter thick bubble wrap security of their statute of an official French gov’t monopoly), they offer their own software to automate labeling, tracking, and expediting of packages. This is good.

A friend of mine, who runs a hugely successful ecommerce site, learned the rest of the story, however, when he decided to offer Chronopost delivery as an option to his clientele. He asked La Poste for the special software, so that he could install it on the dedicated computer that already manages the 600-1000 packages that he sends out every day. La Poste replies that that wasn’t a good idea because their special software only functions with Windoze 98.

Ah, oui, of course.

To their credit, they made him an offer that was hard to resist: they would come to his warehouse and install, at their expense, a separate computer of their own, running W98 and their software.

Wow! Who says the French aren’t into customer service!

A few of us have been spending idle moments the last few days trying to figure out how much it costs La Poste to troll Ebay and bankruptcy auctions, buying up every 32M RAM / 250M hard drive CPU they can get their hands on in order to obtain whatever W98 licenses are still out there. Probably a bazillion gazillion times more than it would cost them to simply rewrite the application for 21st century users.

Contraception

The NHS has an interesting approach.

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