Archive for France

off to Luminy!!!

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2021 by xi'an

the last duel [not a film review]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2021 by xi'an

The incoming film, The last duel, directed by Ridley Scott, is about one of the last trials by combat (ordalie) in France, in 1386 under the mad king Charles VI. Where the Norman knight Jehan de Carrouges fought a Norman squire, Jacques Le Gris, who stood accused of the rape of Marguerite de Carrouges, Jehan’s second wife. It is inspired from Eric Jager’s book on this story and I found it of some personal interest in that the original events take place in Normandy, near my wife’s hometown… Although the film was shot in completely different locations, including Ireland and the south of France! The rape story is presented there from three perspectives, as in Kurosawa’s (immense) Rashomon, but without the ambiguity of the later,

¡ya basta [no more excuses]

Posted in Kids with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2021 by xi'an

a meaningful divide?

Posted in Books, Mountains, pictures, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2021 by xi'an

Le Monde published this map in its 26 July edition, to illustrate the contrast between South-East and North and West France(s). Meaning that the North-West upper part is more vaccinated than the South-East lower part of the map. The figure being computed as the sum of the differences between local and national rates, per age group, weighted by the group sizes. The paper goes on analysing the divide in terms of sociology of the territories, as well as political opposition to Président Macron… But I wonder (over breakfast) if it does not see too much in this picture. First some districts have to be either above or below the national average. Second, the map does not incorporate the population density: very sparsely populated districts in the South-East, like Auvergne or central Corsica are more visible than the densest areas like the Greater Paris, while being more prone to low vaccination rates due to the larger distance to vaccination centres. Third, most of the districts are within ±15% of the average, which may be too large for statistical variation but not much! The geographer Emmanuel Vigneron points out in the paper an inverse correlation between vaccination and earlier COVID cases, but this is not so surprising in that people who have already been exposed to the virus may conclude they are well (enough) protected. Further, the age effect is not eliminated by the contrast, in that areas with an older population are bound to get closer to the average, given that vaccination in the older groups started earlier and was more seen as a life-or-death issue. The soundest observation is rather in the opposition between urban districts where, despite an equivalent access to vaccination opportunities, the poorer burbs like the Northern districts of Marseille being the least vaccinated (with possibly an age effect?).

Nature French tidbits

Posted in Books, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2021 by xi'an

As I was going over breakfast through a pile of Nature journals I hadn’t time to read, I came across this issue of 27 May with an editorial about the closure of the École Nationale d’Administration (ÉNA) by Emmanuel Macron (who graduated from ÉNA). While I have no opinion about the school or its closure (although it sounds more like a populist move than an in-depth reshuffle of the French high administration), the editorial did not seem particularly relevant or appropriate for a journal like Nature. While complaining about the lack of scientific training for the (higher) civil servants, it also pointed out at the lack of research agenda and  at the absence of a professorial body. Which would seem indeed surprising were it a regular academic body, which it is not as it trains civil servants who already hold one or several graduate degrees, incl. some from Polytechnique… Again, I have no opinion on the reformation of that school but a lack of social diversity and a fetishism of bureaucratic rules would sound like more immediate areas demanding improvement.

A second paper in this same issue was about the highly controversial figure of Didier Raoult, who was turned into a modern saint by social networks for defending hydroxychloroquine as the way to treat COVID-19, who objected in Le Monde to mathematical modelling, and who is now under investigation by the Medical Council. A microbiologist pointing out “many potential problems with the way the data and the peer review process were handled” in one then many of his papers is the recipient of a criminal complaint by Raoult and one of his coauthors, Chabrière, for “moral harassment”. Which sounds absurd, as with more than 3000 publications cosigned by Raoult, one would think that all are open to criticisms and some are statistically bound to contain errors or mistakes!

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