Sunday, October 28, 2007

Parents Who Hate Their Children

This conversation happened about five feet away from me on Friday. I have translated it from the foreign for your horror:

(Woman lights cigarette about a foot from her daughter's four- to six-year old face.)

Man: You shouldn't smoke so near your children. It's bad for their health.
Woman: Oh, it's okay. She doesn't know the difference.

First, I was glad that a stranger would tell someone that she's killing her child. Second, I was horrified that that would be her response.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A stupid, stupid, stupid idea

In another move to make New York even more appealing to the tourist masses, the city and some BIDs are teaming up to put decals on the sidewalk at some subway exits. These, planned to help people orient themselves once outside of the subway station, are supposed to help people the article called "New Yorkers" orient themselves once at street level.

Am I the only person who thinks that these are stupid?

a) When you ride the subway, you know what direction the train is headed, and therefore what direction you are facing when you get out of the train.

b) The sign leading to the exit tells you which corner you will be at when you exit.

c) The flow of street traffic tells you which direction you are facing.

d) The street signs for the next short block over are, thanks to those huge signs they put in a while back (that was probably ten years ago now), easily legible from a block away.

e) It's not as if they're putting them in remotest Flushing. They're putting them in Manhattan! In my absence, has Manhattan been re-engineered to consist of meandering cow paths updated for vehicle traffic? Have the streets been de-numbered and renamed for trees?

f) C'mon. Decals?! Decals are for malls, not cities. Those are going to last all of a week, will age horribly, and will be slippery. Depending on where they're placed in relationship to the stairs, there'll be a slip-n-fall lawsuit within three months. Also, (unless that guy in the photo has tiny feet) those are huge! If you're going to insist on orienting people, how about a simple northarrow stamped into the sidewalk the next time curb cuts are re-done (à la San Francisco street names being stamped into the sidewalk at the corners?)


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cokehead adman commits suicide.

That's my one-sentence summary of 99 Francs, a movie by Jan Kounen starring Jean Dujardin I saw a couple of days ago. It is excellent, and I strongly recommend that you find yourself a copy to watch in the near future. Learn French if it's not available in your local language. It's that good.

In other news, I'm now 32. Happy birthday to me!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Research in Paris

I went to DC, and then home, but now I'm back in Europe and madly (!) working on things, trying to have something presentable so that eventually I can apply for university jobs and be done with school. It's been a good 27-year-run, though.

Then again, a university teaching job isn't so much being done with school as much as it is going to school in a different capacity.

What I'm doing here is getting my hands on maps and views of Rabat-Salé, some of which I've seen published, and some of which (I just saw yesterday) haven't been published or referred to in anything that I've come across. I also need to go to the naval archives in Vincennes, and the National Archives here in Paris, and (eventually, I was planning on going on this trip, but I've got so much to do here) I will wend my way to Nantes, to see the diplomatic archives.

If you know of anyone who wants to hire me to talk about the late sixteenth and the early seventeenth century in Spain and Morocco for the next year or two, let me know.