Regulation in Europe and USA

Republicans in the USA say they don’t like regulation. I call bullshit. They LOVE regulation if it supports the status quo.

The cleanest example is the case of Kansas meatpacker who wants to test ALL slaughtered cows for mad cow disease. Agriculture Department went to court to stop them, and the federal appeals court agreed with them. I always thought my America was a capitalistic country where competition was king. No so.

France, both left and right, has no issue with regulation. But in general they are looking out for the people and not business. A good example of of this telling French competition council telling France Telecom they are not allowed exclusive rights to sports and movie content. They want to be sure there is competition in the Internet and IPTV market and that this competition is based on the data service  and not the content an ISP can contract for.

Walk: Circuit de Tracastel

The gorge just before St. Auban was impressive.

Would be a good walk for Pete & Margrette
Good in summer when its hot.

Steep up at the start for about km. Then flat or gental up/down.

1h52 moving
0h20 not mvoing
400m up and 400m down
7.4km distrance
cold day -0.5c
some snow

Google Map to St. Auban

GPS Trace

RandOxygene website

Walk: Rochers de Notre-Dame

Very nice 2.5 hour walk with views of the Alps and Vallée de l’Estéron. A bit long, 1.5 hours, to get Amirat (actually 500 meters before) and the roads are pretty twisty, but it is worth it.

Less than two hours of walking 6.8km with 350m up/down. The start is the main up.

The RandOxygene guide is here and is correct. Yellow markers are pretty consistent.

GPS track in gpx format and Google Earth format.
GPS waypoints and route.

Vallée de l’Estéron    Old Farm House    Cows and Scott   Julia and the Estéron

Vallée de l’Estéron      Old Farm House         Cows and Scott      Julia and the Estéron

Beautiful Wallpaper Photographs

The photos are so good that I have started to use wallpaper on my PC again. I have not done this since Windows 3.1 was new.

Independence Pastels Monument Valley Times Heaven’s Gate Utah has free High Dynamic Range (HDR) wallpapers for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Blackberry, iPhone, iPod, and PSP. HDR images are created by taking multiple shots exposed for the highlights, mid-tones and shadows separately and then merged into a single image. This process results in incredibly vivid images.

Why hassel with non-Euro and non-Schengen Zone Countries?

Avoid waiting in passport control lines or dicking with crappy currencies by restricting the European countries you visit to Euro and Schengen Countries (thats a logical AND):

Countries to Visit

Flag of Austria Austria Flag of Belgium Belgium Flag of Finland Finland Flag of France France Flag of Germany Germany Flag of Italy Italy Flag of Luxembourg Luxembourg Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands Flag of Portugal Portugal Flag of Slovenia Slovenia Flag of Spain Spain

Euro Zone Countries

Flag of Austria Austria Flag of Belgium Belgium Flag of Finland Finland Flag of France France Flag of Germany Germany Flag of Greece Greece Flag of Ireland Ireland Flag of Italy Italy Flag of Luxembourg Luxembourg Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands Flag of Portugal Portugal Flag of Slovenia Slovenia Flag of Spain Spain

Schengen Zone

Flag of Austria Austria Flag of Belgium Belgium Flag of the Czech Republic Czech Republic Flag of Denmark Denmark Flag of Estonia Estonia Flag of Finland Finland Flag of France France Flag of Germany Germany Flag of Greece Greece Flag of Hungary Hungary Flag of Latvia Latvia Flag of Iceland Iceland Flag of Lithuania Lithuania Flag of Italy Italy Flag of Luxembourg Luxembourg Flag of Malta Malta Flag of Monaco Monaco Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands Flag of Norway Norway Flag of Poland Poland Flag of Portugal Portugal Flag of Slovakia Slovakia Flag of Slovenia Slovenia Flag of Spain Spain Flag of Sweden Sweden

Walk: Collet des Graus de Pons

Nice walk, with good views of the Cheron. While you walk the same trail to go and come-back, the views are completely different. There are ruins many Borie, and the “borie de Pons” was the most complete I’ve seen.

Julia in front of the Borie de Pons  Julia on top of the Borie de Pons
More photos here.

Less then two hours and seven kilometers and very easy all the way.

The RandOxygene guide is here and no real mistakes. Not the start of the trail does not have yellow or GR marks, they come after about 500 meters.

GPS track in gpx format and Google Earth format.
GPS waypoints and route.

Crête du Mont-Macaron

Highly recommend walk with fantastic views of the Alps and Pre-Alps and the coast and …

Less then three hours and seven kilometers, mostly very easy with only one steep slidey bit.

The RandOxygene guide is here and no real mistakes. Parking near the main road is easy and so was following the trail.

The views, there are the ruins of the Châteauneuf (”Castrum Novum”) to see and are worth it.

Ruins of the Châteauneuf (”Castrum Novum”) les ruines de Châteauneuf (”Castrum Novum”)

GPS track in gpx format and Google Earth format.
GPS waypoints and route.

The French think too much

Twittering classes in France, as in the USA, do twitter, but generally after thinking a bit, unlike most of the talking heads in the USA.

This IHT article, New leaders say pensive French think too much, quotes Finance Minister Christine Lagarde that “France is a country that thinks,” she told the National Assembly. “There is hardly an ideology that we haven’t turned into a theory. We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.”

The article is worth reading for Lagarde’s background and to hear the twitter she gets as a reply.

International Herald Tribune

New leaders say pensive French think too much

Saturday, July 21, 2007
PARIS: France is the country that produced the Enlightenment, Descartes’s one-liner, “I think, therefore I am,” and the solemn pontifications of Jean-Paul Sartre and other celebrity philosophers.

But in the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, thinking has lost its cachet.

In proposing a tax-cut law last week, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde bluntly advised the French people to abandon their “old national habit.”

“France is a country that thinks,” she told the National Assembly. “There is hardly an ideology that we haven’t turned into a theory. We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.”

Citing Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” she said the French should work harder, earn more and be rewarded with lower taxes if they get rich.

Lagarde knows well the Horatio Alger story of making money through hard work. She looked west to make her fortune, spending much of her career as a lawyer at the firm of Baker & McKenzie, based in the American city identified by its broad shoulders and work ethic: Chicago. She rose to become the first woman to head the firm’s executive committee and was named one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes magazine.

So now, two years back in France, she is a natural to promote the program of Sarkozy, whose driving force is doing rather than musing, and whose mantra is “work more to earn more.”

Certainly, the new president himself has cultivated his image as a nonintellectual. “I am not a theoretician,” he told a television interviewer last month. “I am not an ideologue. Oh, I am not an intellectual! I am someone concrete!”

But the disdain for reflection may be going a bit too far. It certainly has set the French intellectual class on edge.

“How absurd to say we should think less!” said Alain Finkielkraut, the philosopher, writer, professor and radio show host. “If you have the chance to consecrate your life to thinking, you work all the time, even in your sleep. Thinking requires setbacks, suffering, a lot of sweat.”

Bernard-Henri Lévy, the much more splashy philosopher-journalist who wrote a book retracing Tocqueville’s 19th-century travels throughout the United States, is similarly appalled by Lagarde’s comments.

“This is the sort of thing you can hear in café conversations from morons who drink too much,” said Lévy, who is so well-known in French that he is known simply by his initials BHL “To my knowledge this is the first time in modern French history that a minister dares to utter such phrases. I’m pro-American and pro-market, so I could have voted for Nicolas Sarkozy, but this anti-intellectual tendency is one of the reasons that I did not.”

Lévy, who ultimately endorsed Sarkozy’s Socialist rival, Ségolène Royal, said that Lagarde was much too selective in quoting Tocqueville and suggested that she read his complete works. In her leisure time.

The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé, meanwhile, mocked Lagarde for praising the sheer joy of work and quoting Confucius’s oft-cited line, “Choose a work that you love and you won’t have to work another day.”

Such “subtleties have escaped the cleaning lady or the supermarket checkout clerk,” a commentary in the newspaper said Wednesday.

The government’s call to work is crucial to its ambitious campaign to revitalize the French economy by increasing both employment and consumer buying power. Somehow Sarkozy and his team hope to persuade the French that it is in their interest to abandon what some commentators call a nationwide “laziness” and to work longer and harder, and maybe even get rich.

France’s legally mandated 35-hour work week gives workers a lot of leisure time but not necessarily the means to enjoy it. Taxes on high-wage earners are so burdensome that hordes have fled abroad. ( Sarkozy cites the case of one of his stepdaughters, who works in an investment-banking firm in London.)

In her National Assembly speech, Lagarde said that there should be no shame in personal wealth and that the country needed tax breaks to lure the rich back.

“All these French bankers” working in London and “all these fiscal exiles” taking refuge from French taxes in Belgium “want one thing: to come back to France,” she said. “To them, as well as to all our compatriots who are looking for the keys to fiscal paradise, we open our doors.”

Indeed, the idea of admitting one’s wealth, once considered déclassé, is becoming more acceptable. A cover story in the popular weekly magazine VSD this month included revelations that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable: the 2006 income of leading French personalities ($18 million for soccer star Zinedine Zidane, $12.1 million for rock star Johnny Hallyday, $334,000 for Prime Minister François Fillon, $109,000 for Sarkozy).

“We are seeing an important cultural change,” said Eric Chaney, chief economist for Europe for Morgan Stanley. “Working families in France want to be richer. Wealth is no longer a taboo. There’s a strong sentiment in France that people think prices are too high and need more money. It’s not a question of thinking or not thinking.”

Still, the French seem to be divided about the best way to get rich. On Thursday, a widely reported TNS-Sofres poll of more than 1,000 people concluded that 39 percent of the French think that it is possible to get rich by winning the lottery; only 40 percent believe that getting rich can happen through work.

Certainly, the veneration of money more than ideas is new to French politics.

Other French presidents flaunted their intellectual sides. Georges Pompidou was a teacher and author of a widely read anthology of poetry still used in French schools. François Mitterrand was a literature buff who collected rare books.

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, now a member of the Académie Française, has written important political tomes. Even Jacques Chirac, who liked to drink beer and eat bratwurst, was acknowledged as an expert on Asian culture and art.

Sarkozy is by no means an intellectual dwarf. His campaign speeches were filled with allusions to weighty French thinkers. He wrote a book more than a decade ago about one of his heroes, George Mandel, a Jewish government minister before World War II who opposed the collaborationist Vichy government and was arrested and eventually executed by the Nazis.

Still, Sarkozy likes to boast that, unlike Giscard D’Estaing, Chirac and legions of ministers and senior civil servants, he did not attend France’s finishing school for the political elite, the École Nationale d’Administration. (Only one of his cabinet members is “Enarque,” as the school’s graduates are called, but nine of the 16 either practice law, like Sarkozy, or studied it.)

Some intellectuals find aspects of his man-of-the-people style a bit déclassé.

In an after-midnight round table on French television this month, Finkielkraut, the philosopher and a Sarkozy supporter, called on him to abandon what he called an “undignified” pursuit.

“Western civilization, in its best sense, was born with the promenade,” Finkielkraut said, noting that thinkers like Aristotle, Heidegger and Rimbaud all were walkers. “Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging — it is management of the body.”

His fellow guests agreed. “It is a change of rhythm — it’s called Jimmy Carter,” said one, reminding viewers of the American president who brought jogging into the White House.

“And Bill Clinton,” said another.

Daycare Great Escape

Our local paper, the Nice Matin, is always on the case. This time its 3 three-year-old kids escaping from a daycare center in Cap-d’Ail. But the fun part, is that they were only 30 meters away in the daycare’s library reading books.

Why this had to be the lead article on the front page who knows.

Nice Matin Front page 20-jul-2007

But the Nice Matin had to do a complete job, by have all the details on page 2 alone with a helpful diagram of the great escape.

Nice Matin page 2, 20-jul-2007

Rocher des Monges

Beautiful walk with great views of the sea and the mountains.

An added bonus is lunch on the beach afterwards.

Julia with laptop and lunch You can see the mountains in the background.

Sea and Moutains Sea and Moutains
No real difficulty as most of the walk is alone a fire road. Maybe a bit tricky at the end where it was bit steep and rocky.

There was one trick to find the trail head. It is not alone the main road (the RN). Go to the port and walk alone the sea to the tunnel under the railroad.

Walk Profile

Two hours for the walk with stopping.
300m up and down.
6.5km total distance assuming you don’t get lost like we did at the start looking for the tunnel.

Walk in Google Maps Google Earth and in Google Earth.

Rando pédestre page for walk for all the wheres and hows.

30-Oct (Mon) Edfou / Kom Ombo / Assouan

This the 2nd day in Egypt we were getting into our vacation stride. Early Morning at EdfouStill up early, 6am, after a well deserved and well needed night sleep.

We headed across the town of Edfou on a horse drawn carriage Our carrage (with a Gran) to the Edfou Temple
Edfu Temple Entry Ticket. There were plenty of people. Edfou Templte and the crowds We found it interesting that most of the kids would shout French to us and not English. Going to School at Edfou There was plenty of activity in the town.

We then left Edfou Leaving Edfou and had a wonderful four hour cruse to Kom Omob. We sat outside. I read and relaxed. Julia and Steven did tanning by the on-board swimming pool. They did a great BBQ off the back of the boat. The senery which passed by was great.Leaving Edfou
Kom OmboTemple Entry Ticket The Kom Ombo temple sit more or less right on the Nile Kom Ombo temple sit more or less right on the Nile.. It was nice to take a break from doing nothing on the boat and get some exercise.

After the sunset at 5:15pm Sunset at 5:15pm on the Nile we headed for an evening cruse to Assouan which we would explore the next day.

More photos from this day are here.

29-Oct (Sun) Valley of the Kings, Luxor, and much more

Dawn over LuxorUp at 4:45AM for a shower and breakfast. Steven gave me his key to be sure he did not oversleep. Not a problem as the wake-up call got him up first time–much to his surprize.

Some of us are not quite awake. We took a small boat to cross the Nile to meet our bus. The tour group only had 18 people, so it made things very easy. Some of us were not yet awake.
Julia and Steven a bit more awake at the Valley of the Kings

We went to the Valley of the Kings first thing. Julia and Steve looked a lot more awake by the time we got there.

The day’s sights all kind of ran into each other.

Plus the Memnon Colossus all in the same day. We were happy to stop for lunch at theHotel Mercure after the Luxor Temple.

Lady Diane at EnsaThe boat moved on to Ensa. We took a 30km bus ride in a military convoy from Luxor to Esna to meet up with it.

Julia had a well deserved cup of mint tea while went went through the locks at Ensa and then we had an evening cruise to Edfou.

Well deserved cup of mint tea The locks at Ensa

More photos from this day are here.

28-Oct (Sat) Nice-Luxor

Corsair Boarding Pass for Orly Quest to Luxor Up at 5am to catch the 7:05 shuttle for Orly. Arrived on time and got checked in a bit less than two hours before the flight to Luxor was to leave. All was good, until they announced the flight would be one hour late. After this departure time passed, they offered to buy a drink (well after lunchtime). The flight left five hours late.

The flight was OK. Only a snack, so we were hungry when we arrived. The tour group handled the visa formalities and transport well. We arrived at the boat nice and tired around 10:30pm. Steven was impressed that it was so big (a “moving apartment building”). Dinner was at 11pm. We were told the plan was to wake-up at 4:45am to go see the sights!

ooff. Not on vacation yet.

All the photos I uploaded from the trip here.

C’est Royal

There is a good chance Segolene Royal will be the next president of France.
Her lover, who happens to be head of the Socialist party, has pull out of the race. This leaves the nomination open to her.
Not a word in the press about them living together. Only some mention of a conflict of interest in the party.
Could you imagine the same in the US politics? At least Hillary and Bill are married!

Ride to Saint-Valier-de-Thiey via Grasse

Beautiful ride to St Vallier-de-Thiey. The weather was sunny; 19 degrees at start and 25 degrees at the end.

52.1km, 848 meters of up.
Two and a half hours on the bike and eleven minutes stopped.

Using my favorite GPS website, GPS Visualizer, I created the ride profile and Google Earth KML file.

Click on the images below for full sized views. The Google Earth screenshoots give a good idea about the ride.
Ride Profile Ride as seen by Google Earth Google Earth sees the hard climb around Grasse.

The Col du Pilon was highest point at 782 meters Col du Pilon.

When I arrived in St Vallier-de-Thiey‘s town center St Vallier-de-Thiey Town Center,
there was a cool outdoor market Outdoor Market.


This walk is medium hard. Not to bad on the ups/downs. The crest part of the walk was a disappointment as it was all in the trees (good for full summer I guess).

The high points were:

  • A few good views.
  • Nice View 1 Nice View 3 Nice View 2
  • The ruins near B193.
    vieux seranon
  • The valley behind Caille (OK it does look like a women’s sex).
    Pussy Valley
  • The Bauroux summit
  • .Summit
  • Caille has a nice Auberge where you can have a beer.
  • Gliders were cool.
    Gliders were cool.

Note the large deviation of from the trail on the map after the Bauroux summit. The map is out-of-date.


Click for full size map.

Four hours is about right.
650m up and down.
13km total distance.
Rando pédestre page for walk.

View in Google Earth and/or Google Maps (slow).

The GPS trace.