Archive for Nice

Prussian blue [book review]

Posted in Books, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2019 by xi'an

This is the one-before-last volume in Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series (one-before-last since the author passed away last year). Which I picked in a local bookstore for taking place in Berchtesgaden, which stands a few kilometers west of Salzburg and which I passed on my way there (and back) last week. Very good title, full of double meanings!

“When you’re working for people who are mostly thieves and murderers, a little of it comes off on your hands now and then.”

Two time-lines run in parallel in Prussian Blue, from 1939 Nazi Germany to 1956 France, from (mostly) hunter to hunted. Plenty of wisecracks worth quoting throughout the book, mostly à la Marlowe, but also singling out Berlin(ers) from the rest of Germany. An anti-hero if any in that Bernie Gunther is working there as a policeman for the Nazi State, aiming at making the law respected in a lawless era and to catch murderers at a time where the highest were all murderers and about to upscale this qualification to levels never envisioned before. Still working under Heydrich’s order to solve a murder despite the attempt of other arch-evils like Martin Bormann and Ernst Kaltenbrunner, as well as a helpful (if Hitler supporter!) Gerdy Troost. Among the Gunther novels I have read so far this one is the closest he gets to the ultimate evil, Hitler himself, who considered the Berghof in Berchtesgaden as his favourite place, without ever meeting him. The gratuitous violence and bottomless corruption inherent to the fascist regime are most realistically rendered in the thriller, to the point of making the possibility of a Bernie Gunther debatable!

‘Making a nuisance of yourself is what being a policeman is all about and suspecting people who were completely above suspicion was about the only thing that made doing the job such fun in Nazi Germany.’

As I kept reading the book I could not but draw a connection with the pre-War Rogue Male imperfect but nonetheless impressive novel, where an English “sport” hunter travels to Berchtesgaden to shoot (or aim at) Hitler only to get spotted by soldiers before committing the act and becoming hunted in his turn throughout Europe, ending up [spoiler!] in a burrow trapped by Nazi secret services [well this is not exactly the end!]. This connection has been pointed out in some reviews, but the role of the burrows and oppressive underground and the complicity of the local police forces are strongly present in both books and somewhat decreases the appeal of this novel. Especially since the 1956 thread therein is a much less convincing plot than the 1939 one, despite involving conveniently forgotten old colleagues, the East Germany Stasi, hopeless French policemen and clergymen, the Sarre referendum, [much maligned!] andouillettes and oignons.

another Nice shot [jatp]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on May 22, 2019 by xi'an

Nice shot [jatp]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on May 21, 2019 by xi'an

Bastille day

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , , on July 18, 2016 by xi'an


After seeing the above poster in the Paris métro over the past weeks, announcing the opening of the Bastille Day movie the day before Bastille Day, on July 13, I wanted to write an entry about the absurdity of the title for a French audience, since the 14th of July is not called Bastille Day in France but either la fête nationale or simply le 14 juillet

But the senseless massacre of a crowd watching the fireworks in Nice by a madman on the night of July 14 makes both the comment and the movie (which has been taken off French cinemas) irrelevant. In memory of all victims and support for all injured and suffering.

another borderline conference

Posted in Kids, University life with tags , , , , , , on June 25, 2015 by xi'an

Following yesterday’s surprise at the unpleasant conference business run by WASET, I was once again confronted today with conference fees that sound like an unacceptable siphoning of research funds and public money. One of my PhD students got earlier personally invited to present a talk at EUSIPCO 2015, a European signal processing conference taking place in Nice next September and she accepted the invitation. Now, contrary to yesterday’s example, this EUSIPCO 2015 is a genuine conference sponsored by several European signal processing societies. From what I understand, speakers and poster presenters must submit papers that are reviewed and then published in the conference proceedings, part of the IEEE Xplore on-line digital library (impact factor of 0.04). As the conference is drawing near, my student is asked to register and is “reminded” of small prints in the conference rules, namely that “at least one author per paper must register by June 19, 2015 at the full rate”, student or not student, which means a 300€ difference in the fees and has absolutely no justification whatsoever since the papers are only processed electronically…

eupiscoI checked across a few of the past editions of EUSIPCO and the same rip-off rule applies to those as well. I see no rational explanation for this rule that sounds like highway robbery and leads to the de facto exclusion of students from conferences… In fine, my student withdrew her paper and participation at EUSIPCO.