The organizers of the conference here in Paris announced there would be no wireless on location. They gave in after three days...
Yesterday, Keith Dienes gave a very interesting talk about his work with Mike Lennek that I will try write more about soon. Also, March-Russell's talk about the 'friendly string landscapes' (astro-ph/0604254) was very, uhm, entertaining.
But since I am very braindead today, now to something completely different.
Here in Paris, the streets are crowded with people from different nations. The French actually seem to be the minority. But it's pretty easy to detect an USAmerican: if you come close to one, you will inevitably trigger an 'Excuse me'.
I wrote in a previous post how weird it is to come back to Germany, and to notice all the small differences to the USA. Amusingly, I just found that the Spiegel intends to write a survival guide for visitors of the soccer world cup in Germany:
Help us write the German Survival Bible
starting from the questions "Why are the shops closed on Sunday?" (Cause things don't change in Europe) to "Are Germans rude?".
This used to irritate me. I always found Germans to be overly polite and discrete. But moving to the US, I had to realize that it's actually true that Germans are considered to be rude, just because of this! I also had to realize that the cultural and sociological differences between Europe and the US are far larger than I thought.
From the article Rules of the Street:
Not that Germans are intrinsically rude. No, mostly they've just learned to come to terms with more day-to-day physical contact that many of us. Walking down the street can often feel like a rugby scrum. In a crowd, many Germans will plow grimly ahead like Arctic ice-breaking ships. Boarding a subway, some Germans like to pretend no one else is there. The guy who tromps on your foot will look surprised -- as if you should be somewhere else.
Even better: if you tromp on an American foot, the foot owner will excuse on a 99% confidence limit :-)
So, excuse me, but I also have to tell you something about the American rudeness, the constant urge to ask 'How are you?'. For most Germans this is considered a very personal question and surely nothing you want to be asked by some Jim or Marc you've never seen before, working at a 7/11, who's just supposed to sell you cigarettes.
To give you an applied example: two months ago I came back to Santa Barbara from a 10 hour trip, my stupid bag had stayed in Denver. Meanwhile they had changed Hammond's lyrics to 'It always rains in Southern California' and I found that the roof in my apartment was leaking. Worse, at 5 to midnight I had to run through the rain -- needless to say I had no umbrella and the car didn't start -- to get to the next groceries store. Standing at the register with painkillers, a pack of tampons, and a Hershey's bar, rain dripping from my hair, the cashier asked me how I am!
I seriously thought about hitting him with a better homes magazine, but that would have been rude. Instead I said: Terrific.
He was lucky not to ask whether I found 'everything alright?'.