The last two days have been consumed by practical problems that absorbed my attention. First, I had to negotiate some repairs to Susie's Segway, which had stopped working during our absence [it seems the "charger" was kaput -- very expensive repair, as is everything to a Segway]. Then, I had to order and take delivery of a new refrigerator, unpack the new one, extract the old one, install the new one, and arrange [with the assistance of the lovely lady in the hotel next door] for the old one to be picked up by the city from the front of our building. All of this in French, much of it over the phone. I learned long ago that stress takes its toll on me, and managing such things in French is, for me, very high stress indeed.
While I wasn't paying attention, Newt Gingrich has apparently started to crater. Enter Ron Paul, the only honest man in the Republican zoo, for all that he wants to return to the sixteenth century. You cannot hate a man who inveighs against American military adventures and supports legalizing marijuana, even if he does think that sick people who have neglected to buy health insurance should be left to die at the hospital door.
I have been invited to visit with the Occupy Chapel Hill folks, and will of course do so as soon as I return to America. I have also been invited by an ebulliant second year student to speak at Balliol College, Oxford, and if Susie and I can work out the combination of a direct flight to Heathrow and the Chunnel train to Paris, I hope to do so in April. At the moment, while working my way slowly through Gulliver's Travels, which continues to delight, I am starting to read the papers for a conference on law and the corporation that will be held in January at the A. A. Berle Center, in the law school of Seattle University. I am delivering my paper entitled "The Future of Socialism," and judging from the program of paper titles, which I have just received, I am afraid I am going to stand out like a skunk in a flower garden. By way of contrast, yesterday I picked up a copy of a special Le Monde supplement devoted to the thought of Karl Marx. It is hard to imagine the NY TIMES doing such a supplement to the Sunday edition. Needless to say, the one American represented in the 122 page booklet is Frederick Jameson. Oh well.
Yesterday evening, we tried a Chinese restaurant touted as one of the best in Paris. Despite the fact that we were the sole non-Orientals in the establishment, the food was not as good as can be had in Amherst, MA or Chapel Hill, NC. I have long been fascinated by the relationship between the imperial adventues of European nations and the ethnic food available in their capital cities. How surprising is it that one can get great Indian food in London, or first-rate Vietnamese food in Paris -- or, indeed, great Chinese food in New York and San Francisco?
This evening, I shall once again prepare cuisses de canard, cooked for several hours in a slow oven. Even the rainy weather cannot cast a pall over the charms of Paris.