Friday, April 21, 2017

Paris Shooting Thoughts

My wife and I were having dinner in the 5th Arrondisment when we heard about the shooting on the Champs. We started getting texts from our family asking if we were OK. That's funny because they never ask us how we are when there is a shooting in New Orleans, which is a daily occurrence. Here are some observations.

The police here patrol in groups of three. They always used to do that but now they all wear vests and one of them carries an assault rifle. Trying to take them on in a gun fight would be suicidal. The gunman would have caused more terror had he just started shooting randomly at the cars on the Champs.

Key sites such as transportation hubs and tourist areas are patrolled by the army. They are usually in a single fire team of 4 guys, all with assault rifles.

We were in Paris shortly after the mass shooting at Bataclan. The security then was high but we have noticed some changes as a result of this shooting. The police being up-armed is one. (I suspect that they had to make an emergency purchase of all those assault rifles) Another is that there were checks at several pedestrian choke points today. We were stopped at the exit of the Metro in what looked like a routine ticket check. My wife noticed a couple of policemen off to the side who were obviously looking for somebody. (This was at Cite which exits out at the Palace of Justice and the police headquarters) Also, when we walked through the doors into the large underground forum at Les Halles, there were security guys checking backpacks and wanding people down.

The base of the Eiffel Tower is now fenced off. If you want to enter the area under the tower you have to go through security. It is really an ugly scar that takes the fun out of a visit there.

The French presidential election on Sunday should be interesting.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Canal St. Martin

Canal St. Martin was ordered by Napoleon I and construction started in 1802. It was completed in 1825. It was designed to short cut the bends in the Seine and gain access to the Ourcq River to the north. It runs underground in the last few kilometers on its southern end. Total drop is about 24 meters.






Monday, April 17, 2017

Paris Street Iron

Below is probably what is one of the recent copies of the Studebaker Avanti. The manufacturing rights passed through several hands after Studebaker stopped production in 1963. The last ones were built in 2006 in Cancun using Ford components.

I take no responsibility for the tacky wheels, mismatched white walls and crappy racing stripes. 




Saturday, April 15, 2017

Argonaute

The "Argonaute" is a French diesel electric submarine that was commissioned in 1958. It's relatively small at only 50 meters long. It was designed as an attack sub. It carried only 8 torpedoes with a crew of 40. It is currently at the City of Science and Industry in Paris.

My visit to her was a bit of a fail. The park complex is huge and I had to walk about 1 mile from the Mtero to get to her. I waited in line about 20 minutes before I realized that I could not buy tickets at the entrance. To leave and then get back inline would have taken another hour, so I decided that I didn't need to see the interior of a 60 year old submarine. But here are some outside pictures.





Thursday, April 13, 2017

Physics Geekiness

Foucalt used his pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. His most famous one is in the Pantheon in Paris

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mickey and the French Military

Several French military units use Disney characters in their logos.





Monday, April 3, 2017

Pietons Seuelement

If you've ever watched an action movie shot in Paris, there was probably a car chase scene through the streets where they drive along the lower quay side of the Seine and under the bridges. Those streets were major thoroughfares allowing cars to roll along free of traffic lights and making for good high speed chase scenes.

They are no more. The mayor has blocked them all off and turned the entire lower quay into a sort of blacktop beach accessible only to pedestrians, bikers and skateboarders. You could walk the entire length of the city along the river. The locals seem to love the idea but now traffic on the upper quay is crazy and commuters and taxi drivers hate it.

On the other hand, robbing a bank and using a car as for a get away would not be a smart thing to do.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Head Count

Saudi Arabia separated 9 more heads from their torsos last month. Year to date total is 22.

World According to Enzo

Enzo is our driver for our airport pickups in Paris. He is contracted to our rental agency so we have ridden with him several times. He is an Italian living in Paris where he operates a small limo service. While his English is a little weak, he expresses himself very well. Here are some of his thoughts.

He works hard, often 7 days a week. He recently had a friend who died at a young age and never got to enjoy retirement. Enzo has vowed that he is tired of working so that his taxes can support illegal immigrants. He does not support the liberal "give away" government of France and Paris and while he can't vote in France, he supports Marine Le Pen.

Paris city government says that tourism is down 30%. Enzo thinks it's more like 50%. He'd know because he sees it every day. He thinks that city government plans to increase tourism, like more pedestrian only streets and a nudist colony in the Bois de Vincennes, are stupid.

When we were last here we saw a lot of Chinese tourists. Enzo tells us that the Chinese have begun buying up small business, especially bistros. They are slowly inserting themselves into the city.

That's a short summary of the views of a working man in Europe. Do not be surprised if the conservatives win in France.