August in France is the Doldrums month… dull and drowsy. August is the month France closes and that’s not a myth or a perception, but a reality, recently confirmed by a French daily newspaper.
So what do you do in August if you took a vacation in July, have to work – and most of your clients, partners, providers and co-workers are on vacation, your favourite shop or restaurant is closed, the produce at the local market is sparse, withering and overpriced, the weather is mercurial (going from 20 Celsius, rain and wind to 40 Celsius , shorts and tongs in the twitch of an eye) and you just got your tax imposition form back from the (French) IRS?
With little to do and boredom lurking – actually I rarely, if ever, suffer from that…wife, client and a good book being the ultimate deterrents, I switch on the computer and, like some over-sized Jack Russell, set off in search of titbits of news.
Like anywhere August is the “silly season” for news in France and pickings are slim. Gerard Depardieu (Cyrano de Bergerac, Green card….and Obelix) pissing in a Paris/Dublin flight makes the front page for a couple of days running alongside news about French ecologist party’s summer university and tips on how to make the most of a rainy summer (events in Syria and the famine in Somalia, relegated to below the fold or “The World in 60″ ” reports). Ok and why not? , followers of the French equivalents of Fox news or the Daily Mail might exclaim! … Thinking about it, I’m not sure there is a French equivalent to the Fox or the Daily Mail but you guessed it, it’s an image.
Actually, it irks me the way some of the pen or finger wagging news presenters harangue the viewers as though the news, their news, is the only news that really counts, and there’s no point in zapping. Not only do the different news channels in France all show the same news, all be it with some slight variation in the details, – each announcing their news show as being your news show – they also do it in the same order, at the same time and with the same pen or finger wagging, self-assured “I’m going to be the next news czar” body language. Annoying at the best of times!
French TV in August!
News shows, garden and interior decorating shows and animal documentaries. God Bless the “Planet” and “Nat Geo” channels for making sure not all my neurons fried in a month when the French TV channels show repeats of old serials like “Arnold and Willy”, “Step by Step” (which I actually like), the “A” team or Miami Vice because they think no one’s watching. I mean even far away Kyrgyzstan‘s Russian language TV network is better, at least they can show some newish American films (saw Transformers 1 & 2 and some other recent and entertaining films last year while I was over there)
August is also when the French news channels, at least this year, are filling in spare time and odd moments (e.g. 120 minutes here, 60 minutes there! ) by airing 2012 Presidential candidature news shows and debates. I mean how can you fill in 120 minutes of spare air time with political debates when the really interesting subjects are either absent or not talking (i.e. The incumbent President off with the 2 most important women in his life (Angela M and Carla B-S) and DSK wishing he was in a parallel universe!?
August also appears to be the time when the French news channels try out new presenters and some of them are quite… promising. A French news pundit once said he really liked the female presenters on the French news channels because they where actually quite “talented” . Well he didn’t say “Talented” but something like “Cute”, but there you go that’s the French so feel free to replace (or delete) “Female” with whatever you want and “Cute” with your preferred adjective if you want to be politically correct.
Fortunately with Cable and Internet there’s a whole world of News and stories out there, if you are curious enough and love going off at tangents.
I love tangents and being a firm disciple of going “Off Mainstream” … quite an eye opener on facts otherwise taken for granted or accepted at face value because coming from the BBC, CNN or Al-Jazeera…I regularly check out various “exotic” media sources such as the Russian RT Channel and have even checked out the Chinese International News channel amongst others, much bemoaned by one very influential American, as unhealthy competition (opposition?) to “Mainstream” media such as CNN, Fox and the BBC, recently beneficiary of US State Department funding!!!
And why not! If you steer clear of the Anti “This and That” Talking Heads – RT.com for one is full of them, people from obscure research institutes in New York or Oxford – the information diffused is interesting , even refreshing.
Question. What’s the difference between a Talking Head on Fox and a Talking Head on RT?
Answer. Not a lot! They both seem to have American accents, both believe they are serving their countries interests* and both intimately convinced of the acuteness of their view points.
* I initially qualified the “Talking Heads” as Patriots but changed the text because I have a dilemma about using the word “Patriot”. It appears that in American culture – more so than in any other – the word Patriot can justify a whole spectrum of, not always the most rational, of thoughts and acts.
Did I say earlier that pickings were Slim? I spoke too soon! Just last Friday morning, before hunkering down to do an honest day’s work, I set off on my morning ritual of checking out the News on the Web and there it was! HP’s CEO announcing that HP would be stopping production of its Touchpad and Mobile products to concentrate on Softwares. A radical, somewhat destabilizing turnaround of events, HP having recently launched their Touchpad and Palm telephone was now announcing that there was no future in such products and that production would be abandoned.
I felt as though the future, I had only just recently been asked to give an opinion on, was here. A lot of word had been circulating about “Cloud” this, and “Crowd” that, not to mention that latest Social Media Marketing offensive.
Sorry, what offensive? Well one that consists of not only get your customers to read about you in Facebook or Twitter but also get them to write “unofficial” reviews about you and, taking it a step further, just get them talking to each other about you. (“ hey, wow! Did you know “Such And Such” Hotel Company is offering free long distance calls for clients after 6PM? “, “Yeah, I know I stopped over there one night, it’s really cool!!!”)… Imagine, free marketing. Well someone did and it works. Devilish!
Whatever… Like I said someone recently asked me how I saw the future, from a Computer industry perspective, and if I remember correctly I said something like:
“In my opinion the future of computing is all about providing innovative state of the art services and virtual networking systems (starting today with Cloud) rather than actual hardware, re. desktop facilities…” I went on further to say that current market leaders in computer technology and services can keep their places in the future because they are dedicating the necessary resources to the R&D today…
HP is one example and IBM, is another example of Computer heavyweights radically changing strategies because people in their respective companies have vision and what it takes to turn a company around and gear it up for tomorrow’s world today. Just shows that not all the prophets are preaching in the wilderness…