How many here?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by SLClemens, Nov 9, 2003.

  1. SLClemens
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    SLClemens Guest

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    I've skimmed over some of the posts here, which are mostly quite amusing. I'd like to know, how many people who post on / read this page of the site have been to France? How many know a single Frenchman / Frenchwoman on a first-name basis? How many speak or read French? How many could name a single French newspaper or television station? If I wanted to talk about the RER, ruins in Arles, Marcel Dessailly, Patrick Bruel, or even Jean-Marie Lepen, how many people would even know what I was talking about (without doing a google search first). Or is 'France' for most Americans simply a pantomime villian that occasionally sneaks around to thwart US interests?
     
  2. jimnyc
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    jimnyc ...

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    When was the last time you were in Iraq?

    We all offer our views on Iraq, but I doubt anyone here has been there either. That doesn't disqualify us from making proper judgements based on factual events.

    It's not hard to weed out the propaganda from factual articles.
     
  3. SLClemens
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    I've never been to Iraq. I know a few people who have and I knew one Iraqi (a Kurd, actually) quite well. I don't read Arabic. I can't name a single Iraqi entertainer. I know a lot about Iraq's history but have not, that I know of, read an in-depth work by a single Iraqi academic.

    All of this really, really limits what I can know and say about Iraq. The same is not true for me when it comes to France. Although I don't have the perspective of someone born and raised or currently living in France, I can identify with much more of French culture and politics than someone who has never been there, doesn't know the language, and rarely if ever bothers to watch / read / listen to things French. It's thus a bit annoying, albeit amusing, to listen to people who clearly know nothing about France discuss it as if they do - just as it would no doubt be annoying for an Iraqi or even someone who's live in Iraq listen to me comment on Iraqi music, food, television, and Iraqi social / cultural / political views.

    I just find it a bit odd and funny that France, of all nations, gets such a salient place on this board. I mean, look around any American city. If I walk around I see lots of people with connections to Mexico, Eastern Europe, and Hong Kong. But I guess to become an American obsession a country has to tick us off by doing things differently but still enjoy a high standard of living.
     
  4. X.P. Alidocious
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    I haven't been to France. I cancelled the trip I'd planned last
    year when I heard there were riots in the city I'd planned to visit.
    I went to D.C. instead and I really can't say I regret that.

    One of my dearest friends is a Frenchman named Eric.
    We agree on very little and he's proven to be beyond
    a doubt that the French are everything I think they are.

    I took some French classes, but I don't speak French.
    It just doesn't come in handy these days. Besides,
    every time I try, I end up saying something like
    "Je Sui Chapeau."

    At any rate, I find it very hard to believe that you
    really know a lot about France, while you say the
    French enjoy a high standard of living.

    They do not.
     
  5. Bry
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    Bry Member

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    jejeje. "they do." "they do not." anyone care to look for statistics? Any old almanac will do. Besides which, standard of living is an arbitrary determination. The French people I know for the most part have cars, televisions, and bank accounts. And for the most part, the French are much more interested in working to live rather than living to work (which would be typical of the US...) Maybe their average personal income isn't as high as the US, but I'd hardly say that's grounds for dismissing their relatively high standard of living. Would you ask us to believe that France has suddenly disappeared from the map of first world countries?
     
  6. SLClemens
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    The French certainly have smaller cars and much smaller homes on average. They also have what many consider the best public health care in the world and free university. Their GDP per capita is only about 70% of ours (at least it has been - this will change a bit with the recent drop in the dollar and rise in the Euro) yet, according the standards of the CIA's World Fact Book, we have roughly twice as many people living in poverty and far more people behind bars. In any event, travel to Eastern Europe, or talk to someone who's been to India lately, I think you'll see that the French, like us, enjoy a relatively high standard of living.

    The upper stratum of American society certainly does enjoy a highter standard of living than the upper stratum of France, however.
     
  7. Batamo
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    maginot line

    heh heh :D
     
  8. SLClemens
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    Interesting how I've never met a Frenchman/woman who found the words _Port Pearl_ funny.
     
  9. Batamo
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    The Maginot line was a stupid idea. Pearl Harbor was a sneak attack.

    Fixed fortifications are a testiment to human stupidity.
    -General Patton
     
  10. nbdysfu
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    I've heard this accusation many times on yahoo, and I know a lot of people who have been to one or two foreign countries for a week in the summer to a third world country, or as a student to a university for a semester in Europe. I have wondered before in reading news about other countries, about singular incidents among groups consisting of millions of people, what if anything that really tells me.

    I have also seen people come to the US to live for a while. One Bosnian christian and muslim attended my high school together in the latter half of the nineties, when people were fleeing the region. They were very level-headed people, and were friends. We (the moderate locals) were also very caring towards them, perhaps more than if they were one of us.


    My question to the original postor is this: how can I, just one individual, go to a foreign country, even for a year as a student or a migrant worker, and expect to learn more about the country as a whole than if I were sitting here with all the free press and photography to choose from? As a temporary foreigner, my status is easily elevated to a role in which the government of the country I am in is restricting some areas of my travel. I am limited to my coworkers or fellow students, who by default are oriented toward my western interests, or I am travelling from one tourist trap to another and clicking my camera where the gaurds will let me. Confronted with a place like Mumbai, a city in India with over 15 million people and a projected growth by 2015 to 25 million, I find it hard to believe individual observation has any relevancy in a world of 4 billion individuals, unless it takes into account what we can learn from the written experiences of others.
     

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