I recently talked with the authors of two new books about the French. Both are fascinating, and both approach France in different ways. Allow me to tell you about the first one that’s titled, They Eat Horses, Don’t They?”
This book is an examination of 45 common perceptions of the French. It’s written by a documentarian and lawyer who’s at times lived in France, Piu Marie Eatwell. Each chapter considers a different question, such as, are the French uncommonly rude? Do they drink wine with every meal? Are they unusually tolerant of adultery?
It helps that the author is English, ensuring such arch observations such as this on cocktail parties: “Copious amounts of wine and Champagne are served with fiddly little canapés . .. [and] it’s not uncommon to see grown men blind drunk but cleverly disguising the fact.”
But this is not a quickie book that just has fun with some of the myths about the French. It’s an amusing and instructive examination of a nation’s history and habits.
The title is They Eat Horses, Don’t They?. Pick it up. And, yes, they do eat horse meat. Which sounds much better if you call it “cheval.”
(The photo used to illustrate this post is not meant to imply the brasserie pictured includes horsemeat on its menu.)
You probably know the smartphone app called Shazam. When you hear a song on the radio or in a store and you don’t know the artist or title, you activate your Shazam app that “listens” for a few seconds and quickly identifies the tune. Now there’s an app that applies that logic to movies, and you won’t believe what it can do.
The app is called TheTake. Here’s what it does. Say you’re watching a movie and you see a scene you want to know more about. Maybe you want to know about the restaurant in the background. Or the dress the actress is wearing. Or her sunglasses.
Just activate TheTake, and it not only “reads” the scene, it puts it on your phone so you can look at it again. Click on the restaurant, and you’ll learn all about it. Click on the dress, and you’ll learn the label. Same with the sunglasses.
There’s more. Using GPS, the app, when activated, will tell you if you’re anywhere near a place that was in a movie. Only 120 movies are readable now, but working in concert with movie studios, TheTake is adding ten more films a week.
When the plight of women or girls in Third World countries is mentioned, many Americans think of women forced into prostitution or compelled to undergo painful clitorectomies. You might be surprised to learn the greatest killer of women in poor places: carbon monoxide from cooking using charcoal ovens or stoves with inadequate ventilation.
One National Geographic magazine photographer’s travels led her to do something to help—and you can join her.
Annie Griffiths has made photos in 150 countries for National Geographic over the course of 30 years. During that time, she saw how many women lived powerless lives in desperate poverty in developing countries.
So along with other photographers and videographers, Griffiths began Ripple Effect Images, an extraordinary effort to document in pictures and film the lives of these women. Images that can be used to influence politicians. To raise funds. Images meant to change things.
Griffiths and her teams document non-profit efforts around the world to improve women’s lots and then donate that media to the groups for their use to create . . .a ripple effect.
“If you help women,” says Griffiths, “you help the planet.”
Click on “About Us” here. Maybe you’d like to help.
Recently a regular guest on my show on travel security matters, Marc Weber Tobias, flew a Virgin Atlantic flight from New Delhi to London when the cabin crew announced shortly after takeoff that passengers could use their cell phones to place calls.
“What?” thought Tobias.
Tobias wasn’t sure he could make a call, but he tried it, and it was a piece of cake. When he got on the ground, he did some research and learned that 30 other carriers offer the service, though none of them are US airlines. This, despite the fact that US carriers now permit passengers to use other electronic devices almost non-stop during flights.
Not everyone with an American cell phone can connect. AT&T and T-Mobile have agreements with Aero, the company that facilitates such calls. It’s $1.99 per minute from a plane if you’re a T-Mobile customer, 50 cents to send a text, 10 cents to receive a text.
Only seven people at a time can do this on an aircraft, but airlines haven’t found that to be a problem. Nor have they found the use of cell phones to be so great that it’s a problem for other passengers.
The question is, when will the FCC bring the US up to speed with the rest of the world?
We just concluded the end of the season of the mileage run, that time when lots of us looked at our frequent flyer accounts and said, “Ohmigod—I’m three thousand miles short of reaching silver.” Or gold. Or platinum. Or whatever. (Remember George Clooney in “Up In the Air?”)
And you had to decide if it was worth flying somewhere just for those miles at the height of the holiday travel season.
Here’s how to play it very differently: Do the mileage runs now, when fares are at the lowest. Now–when folks are tired of traveling. Remember, sometimes a long flight, like from the East Coast to the West, will cost less than a ticket from, say, Toledo, OH, to Birmingham, AL.
And if you get to December and still are a few thousand miles short, remember, airlines have historically allowed you to BUY elite-qualifying miles. Last month, for example, American, US Airways, and Delta let you buy between 2,500 and 10,000 elite-qualifying miles to get you over the finish line. But those miles are never cheap, and you never know if they’ll be offered for sale at year’s end.
Do the heavy lifting now..