Sunday, November 13, 2005

Paris on Lockdown, Media in Meltdown

Last week we had occasion to observe a certain disconnect between reality and the mass media's take on it. As I mentioned last week, I've been following journalist Eric Francis' posts from Paris to see how they compare with what's being bruited about over the hype channels here in the USA. Let's have another look—after all, it's good for a little amusement. First, this from CNN:

Emergency security measures went into effect Saturday in Paris, with 3,000 police patrolling train stations, the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees to prevent France's worst unrest in decades from spreading to the capital.

National Police Chief Michel Gaudin said police were taking "every precaution," including banning certain public gatherings, a day after calls for "violent actions" Saturday evening in Paris were posted on Internet blogs and sent in text messages to cell phones.

Now, Eric's observations as he walks around the center of the city:

From my copwatching activies I can report that there were indeed more than usual for a Saturday night. But it was not the typical French scene of a police-to-ordinary citizen ratio that rivals Smith College’s faculty-student ratio (where everyone has their own private riot officer to read the Shakespeare sonnets into his or her ear), though I realize that quite a few guys have been sent out to the front lines north of the city. Maybe along the length of the entire boulevard, about two miles, I saw 100 of them. Probably far fewer. There was definitely some kind of strategic planning involved in the arrangement, but in truth it would not have been enough to stop even a modest riot... if there’s a lockdown here, it’s pretty mellow, but then, on the other hand, I am very concerned about Nicolas Sarkozy...

I suppose if I were living in France I'd be worried about Sarkozy the same way I'm worried about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, Rove (take your pick) here.


For those of you who follow my I Ching site, you may want to have a look there. I've just given it a redesign this weekend, inspired, as you will see, by circles. I've written in the past about what I see as a divergence from nature in our culture's obsession with boxes, lines, and grids. Being rather slow on the uptake, it's only recently occurred to me how linear our world wide web medium is, given that its roots lie in the tabular programs of what will soon be seen as an antediluvian mathematics.

By the way, if there are any literary agents out there who would care to prod my "Tao of Hogwarts" book out onto the commercial stage, by all means give me a shout.

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