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Raving Europeanism

photo, cafe oasis, ils st louis

In the shade on Sunday, on the Ile Saint–Louis.

No Excuse for It

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 18. April 2005:– Don't bother looking at last Thursday's forecast to find out how wrong I was again. The weather is so unremarkable that it hardly matters. It is not warm and it is not sunny and it is not very cold and it is not raining much, and if you aren't in eastern France it isn't snowing much either. It is none of the above.

So, while EDF restores power to all who had their lines fall down under the weight of extra–heavy snow, here in the Paris region we have not been bothering to shovel away the rain because it's been such a pitiful amount, no more than a couple of drops. That's right – two drops.

Instead, tomorrow, after an initially bright start with maybe even some brief peeps of sunshine, the afternoon might become memorable because of some possible 'gresil.' I'm not sure what this is exactly but by the sound of it you don't want it falling on your head without having a hat on it. And the high for the day might be 13 degrees, and I forgot to listen if this is 'normal' but as far as I am concerned, to hell with it.

The times won't be wonderful on Wednesday but there's none of this 'gresil' junk to worry about. It will be variable and may even be partly sunny in the afternoon, although the temperature won't be much higher than 13 degrees again.

Thursday has all the aspects of being a regular heat wave with a high forecast of 15 degrees. If you don't believe this is high enough for a 'heat wave' then you will probably be doubtful about its other characteristics which are pretty lousy. Crummy weather will be arriving from the west with rotten weather in the east, and we're to be in the middle. If the timing is off by half a day or 500 kilometres, whichever is less, then we'll be right in the middle of the soup, possibly duck.

Find astute reader and budding meteorologist Jim Auman below again because he is carefully watching the skies over New York City from a blind corner of New Jersey. Famous for measuring the depth of snow in his backyard in all seasons, Jim's forecast for today follows. If in doubt, consult your dictionary.

Germinal To Dominate Thermidor

Pluviôse has given up venting his spleen on La Grosse Pommeland and the rest of the United States. He has departed, leaving Pommeland under the care of Germinal with the possible final appearance last night of Frimaire. Slowly but surely, Frimaire is being forced off the stage as Thermidor will make a brief appearance this week and then replaced by Germinal again.

Café Life

The Whole History of the European Union

For the umpteenth time in the last 30 years, the European Union is having a major muddle. The EU has a minorphoto, 1-man band, notre dame muddle about once a week and these tend to accumulate fluff and build up to major status about once every 2.3 years, and then, now, 450 million Europeans, start nibbling their fingers.

A one–man band in front of Notre Dame.

If the darn thing would just quit expanding. There is a muddle and everybody is saying 'woe' and before you know it our population has gone up by 100 million souls practically overnight. This is happening so fast only kids going school can remember the names of the new country–members. Then, just when we get used to the new 'woe' something, the famous 'they,' fixes something in Brussels and the EU is running fine again and we can, in France, go back to grumbling about the government and laughing at Nicolas Sarkozy's antics.

But the EU is on a big roll. Except for the western European countries who don't want to be in – but do want 'most favored trading status' – all of local Europe is in this conglomo, all the way to the border of Russia. Yes, there are a couple of skipped–over patches in the Balkans, but their time is coming. Some ex–Soviet republics are banging on the door too.

There are elements in Europe that are saying that this EU thing should stay exclusively 'European.' These are generally the same people who say that Brussels should keep its nose out of France unless it's willing to sneeze money all over the place. These people don't think big enough.

They forget that Europe got powerful in the first place by thinking it was too small and getting on little wooden boats and hauling all over the seven seas looking for plunder and loot. It turned out that some foreign places were too big to loot, so trade was substituted. This is what we have today – an interior market of 450 million consumers that wants to buy and sell lots of stuff.

Europe has had a lot of wars in the past, so it is not especially interested in looting other folks. Tradingphoto, church watchers, notre dame without wrecking stuff makes more sense than blowing up infrastructure because you don't like the other guy. Why steal oil when you can pay for it and avoid the risks involved with smash and grab? Hey – if you pay for it maybe the guys who are selling it will buy stuff from you. It's a tempting thought.

Tireless cathedral watchers, watching.

So while we are going along with this, expanding, the people who think Europe should confine itself to some specific place on the map, are thinking small. What's stopping Europe from crossing the Mediterranean and getting the countries in North Africa to join?

And as long as Europe is thinking of turning the Mediterranean into a European lake, then there's Turkey that wants to join. Turkey wants to join Europe because Europe is on a roll and Turkey sees it as the fastest way to prosperity. So Turkey comes in the front door – without war, 500 years late – why not? France is already full of mosques, a few more won't matter.

This is the difference between the United States and Europe. Europe knows that it is a place where there are all kinds of people speaking different languages, having different cultures and different religions, all supported and guaranteed by Brussels – so there isn't any question of us all becoming some polyglot stew. Being different is guaranteed by the Constitution.

But with all these differences, trying to get everybody to decide on one Constitution is no easy matter. The pastphoto, 4-man band, pont has shown that Europe is capable of compromise – even when it seems most unlikely, one of those 'back&ndas;room' deals gets cooked up and the dudes in Brussels come out and say, "Look at the hat because we're pulling a rabbit out of it."

Away from the cathedral, a four– man band.
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