Archive for strike

travel madness

Posted in Kids, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on August 3, 2016 by xi'an

Certainly the 43 hours trip to San Francisco on Friday and Saturday was one of the worst travels I ever experienced as we were delayed, disembarked and left waiting in queues for most of two days. The August vacation peak weekend “coincided” with an Air France strike action by flight attendants and a correlated lack of ground personal in the airport. Rather than cancelling flights, Air France chose to downsize the number of passengers on board depending on the available flight attendants on that flight, which is presumably less expensive for the company. And so nice for the disembarked passengers, frequent fliers included. This was the Friday morning flight. We got rebooked to the Friday afternoon flight. Meaning six hours in the Air France lounge. After one hour delay, the afternoon flight rode for about 100 meters when leaking fuel was detected, apparently due to overfull tanks. Getting this sorted took around three hours, after which the captain told us that labour regulations prevented him and the crew to fly to San Francisco as it would be too long a working day. The whole plane was disembarked, which took another hour, to a transit area with hundred of people and no airline representative. Eventually someone from Air France appeared and started talking to people around rather than making a global announcement. Herding us back outside the restricted area with vague indications to get to another part of the terminal for rerouting. After more delays and chaos we ended up in another queue for hotel vouchers as the only choice was to wait for a specially chartered plane at noon the next day, our baggage being sealed and inaccessible. It took hours to get those vouchers and reach the airport hotel by midnight, before rushing back the next morn to another vaguely specified rendez-vous. This worked out more smoothly, except for another three hours delay waiting for enough flight attendants to show up.  This ruined our chances to get there in time to recover material for the race. Fortunately, our son managed to board an earlier plane [if last on board!] and grab it for us.

The worst thing about this [first world problem!] trip was not the strike or the cancellations, but the complete disorganisation of the management of the issues, with the passengers being herded from one place to another with contradictory items of information by clueless airline representatives. I figure this may be a consequence of the strike as well, the airport desks being poorly staffed for a major vacation weekend.  [Again, first world problem, no one was hurt and we just lost one vacation day. Plus the opportunity to write half a dozen posts.]

off to Northern California

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2016 by xi'an

San Francisco, Aug. 05, 2010Before attending MCqMC in Stanford in two weeks, I will take some vacations in Northern California [really North!] with my family. Starting with the San Francisco ½ marathon tomorrow. So expect delays [as we already got stuck six twenty-seven thirty hours in De Gaulle airport thanks to a strike!] and mostly non-statistical entries on the ‘Og. And pictures.

Trip to Montpellier & StatLearn10

Posted in Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , on January 28, 2010 by xi'an

Today, I went to Montpellier for a meeting of our EMILE ANR team, but when I got to the airport at 6:30 this morning, the fuel providers went on an impromptu strike, which lasted for about one hour! I cannot see the point of such mini-strikes… Anyway, I managed to eventually reach Montpellier and we had a good working session around the ABC paper entitled “An Adaptive Sequential Monte Carlo Method for Approximate Bayesian Computation” by Pierre Del Moral, Arnaud Doucet and Ajay Jasra and discussed in that earlier post and available on-line, if not on arXiv.

Jean-Michel Marin also mentioned to me a workshop taking place in Paris in the next couple of days, called StatLearn10 and focussing on Challenging problems in Statistical Learning (organised by Charles Bouveron and Gilles Celeux). Given that my agenda is already full for those days, I am going to miss the workshop but it sure looked interesting!

Beyond the acceptable…

Posted in University life with tags , , on May 22, 2009 by xi'an

I came across this video yesterday about an exam at the Université de Besancon being interrupted by a group of students, calling themselves the Brigade de la Grève (the strike brigade) who systematically block exams across the campus to enforce their call for a “neutral” semester (meaning that everyone would get their credits for this semester without any grade)…

I find this story quite appalling in that a self-nominated committee can decide to stop exams on the basis they are on strike and so should the other students and so should the professors. I am also quite relieved this has not happened to me because I do not think I would react as moderately as the professor in the video

That this professor has to justify his action (of organising an exam) to the gang of half-articulate brigadiers (or that one student seriously finds it amazing that he could go against the decisions of the general assembly) is reminding me of China’s “cultural revolution” where Red Guards would bring their teacher to volunteer their auto-criticism. (The very denomination “Brigade” stinks of a para-military orientation!) This is the final step in an escalation of protests where others´ opinion can no longer be respected, as also shown by the numerous blockades/pickets organised by students on strike or calls to boycott Le Monde because the journal was not sufficiently favourable to the protests… Actually, given the discourse of the students in the video, I am not certain they have any higher goal than expressing a general protest against the current government.

On the reform…

Posted in University life with tags , , , on March 8, 2009 by xi'an

After more than a month of demonstrations, strike actions and various street-happenings in French universities, summarised ad nauseam on this site, the Ministry for Education has produced a much reduced version of its reform project for the evaluation and promotion of faculty members. The result is not terribly impressive as most earlier dispositions towards a more autonomous structure have been canceled: promotions will keep being decided by a national committee for each field, evaluations will not be done at the local level but again nationwise, and teaching loads are still set on a national basis. The move towards autonomy for French universities has thus not gone very far! I was feeling rather awkward trying to explain the reason for the strikes to my colleagues in the UK when I visited them last week, as all the points attacked by the French protesters have been implemented (presumably better) quite a while ago in Britain… They are actually partly implemented in some French universities but under-cover, and in breach of regulations. To reject the reform unfortunately means that this will be going on for the happy fews who can benefit from it, rather than for the whole community of active researchers.