Negotiation or stalemate?

“The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts.”Howard Baker

Les Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Jackets) have been wreaking havoc (stinging hard) all over France for the last 2 months. Some have legitimate grievances and some, unable (as seen on French TV) to clearly vocalize their demands, just go along for the ride. Grumbling is part of the French national character and even when things are sitting pretty, the “ronchonneurs” will still have a go at it.

This is not to say that all is well in the land of Cognac and foie gras. It is not.

The biggest problem facing the world today is a glaring economic inequality. The disproportionate gap between haves and have not is endangering world peace; it brings the already boiling social kettle dangerously close to exploding.

As witnessed by the recent riots in France, many workers are chafing under difficult economic conditions and demand some reforms. But reform is a loaded word.

Every man is a reformer until reform tramps on his toes. Edgar Watson Howe

Yes, we want to protect the environment but we don’t want to pay for that. We want reduced taxes, better medical benefits, early retirement, increased social security but we don’t know and don’t care where the money is going to come from.
A balanced budget? Never heard of that.

Reforming a country’s habits and long-standing institutions is one of the most difficult things in the world. No matter what is being tried, some people will remain eternally dissatisfied.

Most of the people don’t mind making less money than the super-rich. What they want is being able to afford life’s basic necessities, plus a touch of luxury. They don’t care if somebody makes a million dollars an hour as long as they can live comfortably. This is not unreasonable.

What is unreasonable is a refusal to negotiate with a democratically elected government and senseless destruction (and looting) of property. There is a clear line between protesting and mindless destruction.
You can never get everything you want, but by negotiating you can at least secure 2 or 3 of your most important demands.

Les Gilets Jaunes are currently a bunch of disorganized lemmings (infiltrated by thugs) reveling in their newfound notoriety. But ultimately, they will need some leaders to represent them and negotiate on their behalf. A long stalemate will not play in their favor. In the long run, the man in the street is going to grow tired of the mayhem and turn against them.

Negotiation (and compromise) is the only way to get out of this impasse.

For everybody’s sake, negotiate. The sooner, the better.

Alain

Birthday

You don’t get to choose your parents and you don’t get to choose your birthday either. But in 2020, there will be an amendment to this tradition. My fellow Capricorns and I have decided to turn our backs on January and celebrate our birthdays in the Fall instead of the midst of winter.

The reason for our rebellion? Execrable weather conditions!
For the third year in a row, it rained cats and dogs on my birthday. This had a dampening effect on some people who regretfully declined to attend my little bacchanal. No need to apologize compañeros, I understand. Driving for an hour under a torrential rain can deter the most determined party animal.

Still, some brave souls defied a ferocious rain storm and showed up bearing Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh and other holy (mainly liquid) offerings.
I am touched and enormously grateful, even though in the heat of the moment I could not properly express my deeply felt gratitude to each of you. But what counts is not the offering but the symbolic gesture of friendship.

My fellow Capricorns (Jacques Gautier and Jean-Claude Bunand) both came with 2 Galettes des Rois each, the size of the moon. Thank you, fellow goats. Others brought anti-dementia liquors and sweets.
Let’s not forget that this little get-together was to honor my all my horned fellow Capricorns (Minette, Gautier, Jean-Claude B.) and little old me, regardless of  gender (including transgender), age, sexual orientation, or beliefs.
Am I safe from any lawsuit?

Each guest, of course, came with a birthday card and I particularly liked the one chosen by Brigitte Moran. It says: Age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill.”
Tonnerre de Brest ! This woman has the uncanny ability to read my mind. Well, watch out whippersnappers, I am coming after you.

Noel and Rosalie brought me a boule pick up magnet, made in Taiwan. The front of the package clearly states “Ramasse-boule”, with an inspired English translation saying “bowl pick-up”.
Close but no cigar. I appreciate the gift but I am not going to pick up anything but “boules” with this device.
Thank you just the same guys!

After emerging from my drunken stupor this morning, I also discovered a very nice scarf. Will the bearer of this gift please identify him/herself?  I want to smother you with wet kisses and bear hugs.

I would be remiss if I didn’t express my appreciation for my roommate Tamara. Without her help and hard work, this celebration would not have been possible. Luckily her birthday is in the Fall and we won’t have to face the wrath of Taranis when her celebration comes around.

One more time, thank you all magnificent kindred spirits for your active participation. You deserve to be in my inner circle (regarded as elitist and secretive).

TTFN (ta ta for now)

 

Alain

PS: I have just a few iPhone pictures

January 6

The holidays… Thanksgiving, Christmas, New year… and the Epiphany, (January 6) which happens to be the day I was born.
My friends like to celebrate that date by sharing a Galette des Rois, a flat cake made of two layers of puff pastry cradling a mixture of almond paste. It is pretty tasty.

I am humbled and flattered by the fact that, without knowing me personally, many people around the world have taken to honor me. But I look at this like St Patrick’s Day… many non-Irish people observe that day and I don’t see why we should object to that tradition.

I don’t know what started this cult. This phenomenon might have arisen when I first performed a few minor miracles. No big deal. Just a run of the mill stuff. But people are easily impressed. You win a little popularity contest at the ballot box and they think that you are born from Zeus’s thigh.

Nevertheless, a little moved by this veneration I recently checked my horoscope and this is what I found out. I quote:

“People often feel confident around you because they detect that you project an inner calm that is so reassuring. People believe that whatever advice you give is the right one.”

I never personally said this. A famous soothsayer wrote it and my modesty prevents me from making a big deal of this. But I have been told that this person is dependable and can clearly foresee the future…

So, feel free to party this weekend and mention my name as much as you wish. My ears might ring a little but I am accustomed to this. This is the (minor) price that you have to pay for being quasi-divine.

By the way, January 6 is also the birthday of Lyudmila Aleksandrovna Putina, (born 6 January 1958), the former wife of Vladimir Putin. She calls me once in a while to gossip.
I understand that even though they are divorced, Vladimir (Vovochka) still pays his respect and sends her a nice bouquet every year. Just like Lyudmila, on that day, I as well get some flowers from my disciples.

By sheer coincidence,

January 6, is also the day when some bearded men stopped in a manger to stare at a newborn baby called Jesus.

Alain

Warning: Anyone (regardless of his/her age) who stops laughing is one step closer to the Big Leap