Sunday, January 28, 2007

The World's Best Country to Live!

According to this study, France topped a list of countries as the nation with the best quality of life! Obviously this is a subjective result but it wasn't decided out of the blue either - here are the criteria used to produce this annual Index:

For each of these countries, 9 categories were considered:
  • Cost of Living,
  • Culture and Leisure,
  • Economy,
  • Environment,
  • Freedom,
  • Health,
  • Infrastructure,
  • Safety and Risk,
  • Climate.
This involves a lot of number crunching from “official” sources, including government websites, the World Health Organization, and The Economist, to name but a few.
According to the World Health Organization for instance, France has the best overall health care system in the world. Life expectancy now averages 83 years for women and 76 for men. In the past 10 years, the number of people living over the age of 100 has doubled, with 6,840 people reaching the three-digit mark. The infant mortality rate is five per 1,000 live births, on a par with Denmark.

The study also emphasized that France’s infrastructure is among the best in the world and while its economic performance is questionable it still rates pretty high there too.
This is only an index and nothing to really take too seriously but it has the merit to raise an interesting question: what do you take into consideration when you think of "a good place to live"?

The funny thing is that you really wouldn't believe France is such a great place to live if you listened to the French (in France that is). But it is a fact that
the French are major whiners and they are particularly so when it comes to their own country.
If you were to believe them, everything is going down the loop and the nation is in major decline. Surely, there some economic problems (unemployment is still pretty high and you can certainly see homeless people in the streets of Paris) but at the same time, France has the highest birth rate in Europe. Why make babies if you really think the future looks so gloomy? Isn't that a bit paradoxical? Well, maybe France is just a country of paradox.
Here's the list of countries in the top ten:
  • 1 France
  • 2 Australia
  • 3 Netherlands
  • 4 New Zealand
  • 5 United States
  • 6 Switzerland
  • 7 Denmark
  • 8 Italy
  • 9 Luxembourg
  • 10 Argentina
As you will notice, the US only ranked N°5 and here are the comparative results (found here)
The UK ranked 37th - worse than Panama or Mexico - (Why? Britain has a good economy and good social freedom but bad weather, poor transport, high cost of living and health service.) and not very surprisingly, Iraq scored at the bottom.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

France 24 - Les Newserable!

Here's Jon Stewart's presentation of France 24, the "CNN a la francaise", the brainchild of Jacques Chirac! (see our post here for more details) It is funny - as always with J. S. - but if you're French, you may just need a good sense of self-derision. Always good for the ego though. After watching the French news channel, I must say I can't help agreeing with "The newserable". Excellent portmanteau!


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Virtual Society Makes Virtual Sacrifices

President Bush appeared on the Jim Lehrer News Hour last night for an interview with host Jim Lehrer. The President is making the rounds trying to sell his new Iraq Policy. It doesn't seem to be going so well. Polls still suggest that few people support it. Of course, the President doesn't really help his own case when he answers tough questions with utterly ridiculous responses (via Steve Benen):

LEHRER: Let me ask you a bottom-line question, Mr. President. If it is as important as you’ve just said - and you’ve said it many times - as all of this is, particularly the struggle in Iraq, if it’s that important to all of us and to the future of our country, if not the world, why have you not, as president of the United States, asked more Americans and more American interests to sacrifice something? The people who are now sacrificing are, you know, the volunteer military - the Army and the U.S. Marines and their families. They’re the only people who are actually sacrificing anything at this point.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night.

What on earth is he thinking? I'm sure that's a heartwarming image to the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American people will now collectively shut off news of Iraq to make the pain go away. Deer in headlights: Bush in DC.


Monday, January 15, 2007

On Her Majesty's Not-So-Secret Service

Oh, we are rarely privey to negotiations such as this, but thanks to archived documents we get to share in the stupor of historians as they try to comprehend... France, part of the Commonwealth...really?! What were they thinking?