France's 'Euro' Springtime

photo: resto le damier, st blaise

Quiet days in Saint-Blaise.

One-Day Conscripts

Paris:- Sunday, 10. October 1999:- A great deal of the pessimism of this year's debut has evaporated after months of plus numbers and slightly declining unemployment numbers.

I have not mentioned this recently because one-month flukes in the past three years were extrapolated into future prosperity forever - which lasted never more than three weeks until the next report came out.

photo: bouquiniste, seine quaiBut for a good number of months now incomes have been recorded as rising as well as has household spending. France's overall economy is estimated to be growing at a rate of close the three percent.

Interest rates are down so low they may now be rising slightly, but they are still low. The Paris Bourse is at a high level and goes up by fractions day after day. Inflation for this year is expected to amount to 0.8 percent.

Unemployment is still gloomy with a forecast rate of 11 percent for this coming December; which amounts to a dip of about 0.5 percent from last year's level. At the same time, 340,000 new jobs have been created.

One-Day Conscripts

A TV-news report last week followed a new harvest of young military conscripts throughout their one day of compulsory military service. This one day is all that is left of the previous three-day service.

The army uses these occasions to tell its story and - who knows? - maybe even sign up a couple of kids for professional service.

During the day, the teenagers are given a some tests too. Two of these have revealed that there is a significantphoto: happy halloween rate of illiterates. On the first test, 17 percent failed and 9.7 percent failed the second - out of a total of 427,000 tested.

On the spot, the army provides advice that could lead to catch-up courses. These are not well-developed, but these tests are new, and are only now revealing an accurate picture of the situation.

This seemed to me to be a very positive use of the army, and I wondered if they conscripted girls too for the one-day military career of testing. Le Parisien's report says girls will get their chance starting in April, 2002.

Having a clear idea that about 10 percent of voting citizens are illiterate is frightening. What the conscripts failed were fairly simple texts - nothing at all compared to the text contained in the annual income tax form; which, like French itself, is full of exclusionary clauses.

The main literacy group in France reckons that 10 to 20 percent of residents are illiterate.

A word seldom heard in English is analphabetic but well-known in France as 'analphabète.' It describes someone who cannot read or write at all, in any language. It is estimated that one percent of adult residents fall into this category.

Third Floor, Menswear

Since summer, all of Paris' Grands Magazins have decided that men need clothes too. After 75 years of menswear, the Madelois at Madeleine tripled its sales area to 5000 square metres.

Some story at Printemps - 'legalized shopping for men' - with 7000 square metres in its Brummel building; not outdone at Galeries Lafayette, also with 7000 square metres.

It's not just more clothes, it's more everything - free cafés and newspapers, and shoeshines! Who had the idea for shoeshines? Small adjustments for free and right away, parking services with carwash - special facials for those with jetlag.

Although mentioned only by name in Le Parisien's report, Samaritaine seems to have a new area set aside for menswear - which I have visited a couple of times lately to ask when their 'sales' start.

French Web Life

If you were looking for French 'Lit.' you might have wandered over to Metropole's Links page and given 'Pagina' a hit. This timely Web site hasphoto: atelier floral had a link here since the Salon du Livre of 1997.

But don't waste your time because 'Pagina' is currently offline, according to Internet Actu's Martin Jouanneau. Philippe di Folco took over 'Pagina' from its bankrupt founders in 1998, soaked up their debts and drove daily readers up from a re-start of 400 to 1200.

With this success in hand, early this year Mr. di Folco asked his ISP for five new email addresses and another 30 Mo of disk space on the server. The ISP refused.

Mr. di Folco argued that he needed the space and the email addresses for his growing readership. The ISP answered by cutting off the statistics for 'Pagina.'

After a few weeks, the ISP cut all access to the popular site - on the same day that Mr. di Folco was discussing the new literature season with 300 'lit. fans' in a Paris cybercafé.

So Mr. di Folco is suing the ISP. He wants the name 'Pagina' too. This was overlooked when he took over the site and the name is still registered with the original owners, a company which ceased to exist 18 months ago.

Since the 'Altern affair' some ISPs don't trust authors anymore. Since this new affair, some authors don't trust some ISPs anymore.

On Wednesday, 20. October Mr. di Folco will be the host of a debate about censorship on the Web, direct from the Webbar in Paris. Check it out.

URL Shorties - Some free and practical information is available, such as weather, the bourse, horoscopes or the Paris traffic report, at Webfute, which has links to various free sources. All you want to know about thephoto: window shade theatre; especially what is playing and what you should see, is presented by the new site, Webthea. The site also offers links to other theatre-related sites. The Musée des Augustins has a temporary exhibition - until February 2000 - of a selection of its collection of major 19th century works. The 8th Prix Möbius France 1999 runs off on Friday, 15. and Saturday, 16. October at the Cité des Sciences. This effort salutes the best multimedia productions for the past year. If you find these Web sites to be interesting, don't thank me - thank 'Internet Actu.'

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