Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Promises, Promises

Well, the government has lately been mumbling about restoring the freedoms that they illegitimately canceled more than a year ago, and about gradually allowing the peons over whose liberties they’ve run roughshod to gradually crawl back with respectfully bowed heads to a more normal life. Ostensibly this is because the heroic and unerring efforts of the Dear Leaders of society have saved us all from the near-apocalypse of the Deadly Virus pandemic. The reality, I think, is however somewhat different.

First, this magnanimous gesture serves as a bone thrown to the masses as a reward for their obedience and submission.

Second, the natives are increasingly restless. It seems that, more and more, they are comparing what they’re being told with what is actually happening; and as the hysteria—and the hypnotically compelling effect it exerts—begins to show signs of weakening in consequence, more and more people brazenly question the restrictions imposed by the Reich and come closer and closer to just chucking them all in massive civil disobedience.

Third, I daresay that, even as impaired in their reasoning as the powers that be apparently are, they must realize that the scary Deadly Virus theater cannot extend its 14-month run for eternity; and finding a way to bring down the final curtain gracefully—without actually admitting what a farce it was from the start—must begin somewhere.

And so the government has made known its ridiculously complex plan for allowing the proles to throw off their chains between now and the end of June. In the best tradition of French bureaucracy, it is awash with pages of dates, figures, and other arbitrary details and constraints—none of them supported by any type of science, of course. I haven’t been able to summon the patience to read this plan in its entirety, but I note that reopening of restaurants, museums, gyms, and some other businesses (but not discotheques) is mentioned, for specific dates—with all sorts of limits, naturally.

The good old days
We shall see whether the government sticks to these promises on this round. Whatever happens, I’m sure the government will take credit for all good news, and will blame all bad news on all those hordes of disobedient, retarded everyday citizens who refuse to obey every command they are given with all their hearts and souls.

 • • •

Meanwhile, back at the Palais Bourbon … the French National Assembly has rejected a plan by the goverment to create a “vaccination pass” that would be required for travel and for admittance to certain other venues under vaguely specified circumstances. It’s the vagueness that made the Assembly wary. I hope this means that members of the Assembly are regenerating the backbones that they’ve resorbed over the past year. Even so, I suspect they’ll cave soon enough. The pass will take the form of a QR code; I guess yellow stars are technically passé these days.

 • • •

I’m still looking for work, after being laid off late last year by my employer, who was faced with an 80% loss in revenue due to Deadly Virus hysteria. I submit applications but nobody replies. And I wonder how I’d get to an interview or job, anyway, since my physical condition has deteriorated dramatically after over a year of sitting at home and it’s hard to walk more than a short distance. That’s a consequence of the DVH, too.

(Note: I don’t call the DV by name because anyone who doesn’t toe the party line precisely with respect to it risks being forcibly silenced. Orwell’s prophetic novel, 1984, entered the public domain not long ago, and it seems to have been taken as a model for public policy now as well.) 

I keep busy with job searching, along with small, sedentary projects in my chosen fields of  IT, graphics, and audio-visual arts. It’s unfortunate that nobody seems willing to pat for any of the latter.

The weather has remained generally excellent. The days when I could go for long walks seem far away, even though they were only a bit over a year ago.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The More Paris Changes

Not much to report lately. Paris is largely in suspended animation, still mostly paralyzed by hysteria over the Deadly Virus. A third lockdown is in effect, although it is more bureaucracy than substance this time. The streets are not as deserted as the were during the first lockdown. There are still no tourists, however.

Some major hotels are laying off staff. Fauchon, next to the Madeleine, is closing that iconic store and others (its major competitor, Hédiard, went out of business several years ago). Disneyland is still closed, but has converted one building into a giant vaccination center. Most places are closed, in fact, this being imposed by the lockdown. Hairdressers (but not beauty salons in general) and barbers are allowed to remain open for this round, for some reason. The Louvre and other museums are closed. The Eiffel Tower is closed. Shopping centers are closed (I think—it’s hard to keep up). And schools are a mess, with policies changing daily. Each lockdown is more complex and absurd and bureaucratic than its predecessor.

Everyone must still wear a mask everywhere. There is a push to get everyone vaccinated; I suppose at some point everyone refusing vaccination will be rounded up and shot. About 30,000 people a day test positive for the virus; at that rate, the entire country will be contaminated … in six years. And with the current mortality, everyone in France will be dead in just six centuries.

You still need your “papers” to go outside, and there’s still a curfew at 7 PM. But with shops and restaurants still closed (except for take-away and delivered meals), there aren’t many places to go. The weather in Paris is excellent—as it usually is in April—but there’s no easy way to profit from it.

On a recent visit to the Champs-Élysées running errands, I noticed more people out and about than during the first lockdown; and considering that they’re all locals—tourists are still conspicuously absent—I guess it was a reasonable crowd. A fair amount of vehicular traffic, too, although less than normal (insofar as I can still remember what “normal” was like).

I’d like to shoot more videos for my YouTube channel, but with the city currently resembling a wax museum, topics are in short supply. I suppose I could document stores closing and going out of business. In the past year there has been an uptick in gang violence n Paris which is unusual … but everything happening these days seems to be unusual. Strikes, demonstrations, gun violence, virus hysteria, hysterical reactions to relatively trivial events: it’s all very strange, a bit surreal.

I should try to document the newly renovated place de la République, place de la Bastille, and place d’Italie, but with so much hysteria and uncertainty these days, it’s logistically challenging. I have a very long list of things t do when and if society ever returns to normal. I haven’t even had my hair cut in almost two years and it’s down to my shoulders.

The artists are disappearing from the famous square at the top of Montmartre, the place du Tertre. Already, 80% of the square has been taken over by tourist-trap restaurants (currently closed, but their terraces are still there), and another 25 artists’ spots have been removed to make room for still more restaurant terraces. A famous, huge wisteria tree near the square (place du Calvaire) has been cut down by the city, too, raising a local outcry—but trees do get old and sometimes sick and must occasionally be replaced. This 129-year-old tree was dying, so it had to go. When you look at the trees on the boulevard Clichy or the square du Vert-Galant, you see how quickly they can grow to a large size, so it’s not that big a deal to have to cut one down from time to time.

The Reich is now mumbling again about resuming the respect of civil liberties. It has mentioned gradually reopening society starting this month. But policies change daily and promises ring hollow.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Déjà Vu, Third Act

Almost exactly a year after entering its first useless lockdown, France has just entered its third useless lockdown, and it’s the most complicated yet. Citizens must again carry special forms to show to the police in order to venture outside their homes; and failure to have one's papers at hand can lead to fines or jail time. The form is now two pages long. Here's a (translated) sample of some of the text:

Persons residing in departments not subject to reinforced measures may not enter departments subject to reinforced measures beyond a perimeter defined by a 30-kilometer radius centered on their place of residence except for items marked by an asterisk in this declaration as well as within the context of long-distance movements leading only to transit through a zone subject to reinforced measures.

Got it? “Reinforced measures” is the official euphemism for lockdown, the latter apparently sounding too much like what it actually is. The list of businesses that must close (or remain closed), those that can open (or remain open), distance and time limits, and other restrictions is very long. And there's still a curfew, too, for which a different form (sometimes two) is required, ony now it starts at 7 PM instead of 6 PM. Elementary and junior high schools remain open, but high schools close. Some large stores (below a certain size that varies depending on several criteria) may remain open, but with certain aisles closed. And so on. I wonder how the government expects every person in France to keep up with these restrictions, especially since they seem to change before they are even officially published.

Museums, cinemas, bars, restaurants and hotels are still closed, and several large hotels have finally laid off most of their staff. Disneyland Paris is still closed, and its competitor, Parc Astérix, will not reopen for the season on the usual date; nobody knows when either venue will open. People try to go for walks, but then the police claim that they are forming forbidden groups and chase them home.

Official color of Eiffel Tower
Oh well. I just stay at home except to go out for groceries. It’s easier. It’s increasingly exhausting to go anywhere. It’s a pity, especially since the weather is very nice, and spring officially begins in three hours.

In other news … the Eiffel Tower (which is also closed) is being repainted. It is repainted every seven years. This repainting is special, though, because instead of just painting over the previous coat of paint as is usually done, on this pass all previous layers of paint are being removed and the new coat is being applied to bare metal. Nineteen coats of paint—130 years’ worth—are being removed. The work is going slowly because many of the older layers of paint contain lead, which these days is considered a hazardous material that must be carefully disposed of. But there’s plenty of time, as the tower is unlikely to reopen any time soon. Anyway, the tower’s official color is Pantone® Eiffel Tower brown, 18-5210 TCX, a kind of grayish brown.


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Squeaking by

I went out for groceries today. I went during the day, since I have to be indoors again by 6 PM. I bought potato chips, cereal, and milk. I also bought a pack of masks, since the Reich requires that I wear a mask everywhere. And some paracetamol and aspirin, for chronic headaches.

Orsay Museum snack bar … in 2017
I rested on a bench for a short while  when I went out. Not for long, since it was only 90 minutes until curfew. I didn't feel as exhausted as I usually have lately, but my legs felt weak. I tried to remember when freedom of movement still existed, and the days when I could go for long walks and could afford to eat each time I felt hungry.

I tried to file for unemployment. I've never had to do it before, so I had to figure it out. I think it worked. It should prolong my survival before I run out of money. Of course, ideally I'll find something before then. Or maybe I'll find a winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk.

As always, the rules continue to change concerning the Deadly Virus. Apparently vaccination won't be sufficient to end the masks ad curfews and distancing. Now there are new and terrifying mutant strains that spread more quickly. The end of the world is nigh, if you believe the government and the media. Or at least the end of the free world.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Coping with hysteria

The hysteria continues. There doesn’t seem to be any way to call people to reason. It is truly a slow-motion train wreck. It afflicts a substantial chunk of the world’s population, and Paris and Parisians are not immune (no pun intended).

I actually went outside today, during the day, and for something other than groceries. My smartphone tells me that I walked 5.1 kilometers, which isn’t bad after ten months of inactivity—although it would have scarcely qualified as even a warm-up in the old days (e.g., a year ago). It was scary because my balance is very poor and I constantly feel that I’m going to fall.

I went to the post office and collected my mail. I went to Decathlon, my go-to destination for practical clothing, and bought some cheap shoes (€17) with Velcro fastenings, because I’m having a lot of trouble tying shoelaces these days. Then I went to Darty, my go-to destination for appliances, and bought some clippers with a gift certificate from my ex-employer, in order to remove the fur on my face that has accumulated over the past several months.

I wore a mask the whole time, in accordance with the Reichskommandment to do so. The mask got wet over time because it was cold and my breath condensed inside it. It’s a useless measure. The post office had a sign asking customers to temporarily remove their masks for identification purposes—which would destroy the effectiveness of masks, if they had any to begin with. And I used the elevators at the stores, musing over the fact that masks are especially useless in such circumstances.

Coming up on the to-do list are a trip to the barber (I haven’t had my hair cut in almost two years, due to all the problems with virus hysteria, strikes, demonstrations, etc.), a trip to the laundromat (I had months of clean laundry, but I’m running low), and a trip to the bank to deposit the reimbursement of a transit pass that the RATP sent me after the strikes in 2019. Plus, I still have to find a job, after the virus hysteria put me out of  work.

Less than two years ago, I could afford to buy food, and I had a job, and I didn’t have to wear a useless mask everywhere, and I could stand without falling over, and I could move about freely without being fined or arrested, and shops and restaurants were open and thriving. Things sure changed quickly. Now I understand the old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”