Streetwise Professor

September 28, 2021

I Have Returned

Filed under: China,Military,Politics — cpirrong @ 9:30 am

Howdy. Miss me?

My absence was due to a long deferred vacation (a week spent in Paris) and my annual teaching gig at the University of Geneva (which fortunately returned to in person instruction after a year online).

I was originally supposed to go to the Netherlands first, to give a talk at the Erasmus University Leadership in commodity trade & supply networks program (which I also teach in). However, due to the US being, er, “promoted” to being an Orange country (though no longer a Bad Orange Man country!), doing so would have required 10 days quarantine. So I did the talk online, and went to Paris instead.

Given the news accounts of anti-Pass Sanitaire demonstrations and a first hand description of the nightmarish application of that system in the provinces, I had my reservations about how that would go.

Fortunately, however, in Paris anyways the PS BS was rather lightly applied. I started to rate restaurants and other businesses on a GAF scale. Roughly half gave zero fucks. They didn’t even check. A few gave half a fuck, or maybe one fuck, and subjected my awesome CDC card to a cursory glance and did not bother to check whether the name on it matched my passport. One place, near Luxembourg Gardens, required me to show it to 3 different waiters, including apparently the head waiter.

Nor did I see any evidence that the authorities were monitoring compliance. The main evidence of police presence was convoys of cops in tactical gear on motorcycles or in paddy wagons (Pierre wagons?) racing around the boulevards on Saturday (protest day! yay!) sirens wailing.

More than a week prior to departure, I applied online for “Demande de conversion d’un certificat de vaccination étranger en passe sanitaire français (étrangers).” Didn’t hear anything until 2 days after my return, when the French government (a) acknowledged receipt of my “dossier”, and (b) in a separate email, told me that my dossier had been rejected . . . since I had departed France.

We’re in the best of hands, non?

What France did GAF about during my visit was the Australia-UK-US defense deal, which shtupped the French out of a $90 billion contract to build conventional submarines for Australia, and replaced it with a deal to provide nuclear subs and nuclear technology to Australia. The French were incandescent with rage, and it was the lead subject on most news programs for almost my entire trip. (Energy prices were #2 on the hit parade–I’ll post on that in due course.)

Given France’s history of defense unilateralism (de Gaulle, anyone?) the outrage is a bit hard to take. Moreover, as is often the case with such contracts, France’s performance on deadlines and costs was poor, angering the Australians. (Maybe their dilatory response to requests for a PS is representative of their general attitude to timely performance.) Further, from a capability and geopolitical perspective, nuclear boats are far more suitable to contribute to collective defense in the Asia-Pacific, and against China in particular–which is why China was also incandescent with rage. (A good sign! Though they freak out about everything so it’s not that meaningful an indicator.) (Although the extended timeline for delivery means that any real contribution will benefit any college-aged readers I have.)

That said, the way that the deal and announcement were handled was appalling. It was a public humiliation for France, and indeed, almost seems like a deliberate humiliation. Given the antagonism between Macron and BoJo that can’t be ruled out. This puts paid to Biden’s “rebuilding alliances” BS. Right now the French are pining for mean tweets. Sticks and stones may break my contracts, but tweets will never hurt me.

The Geneva portion of my trip was excellent. I always enjoy teaching in the master of commodity trading program at UNIGE, and the students this year were a particularly good group. Not surprisingly, the Swiss were a little more manic about COVID documentation than the French, but there were many restaurants there that achieved the precious Give Zero Fucks rating. The one exception being a place that had never heard of J&J or its vaccine, or that it was one dose, or that it was approved in Switzerland.

Getting tested to return was something of a hassle, with few appointments on offer. But Swiss physicians apparently collect a little swag on the side (paid in cash!) by giving tests, so I had a new experience–my first ever appointment with a gynecologist, who blessedly only looked up my nose.

Hopefully the pace of posting will pick up over the next few days. The rest of today is a loss, but there’s much to comment about so I’ll leave you waiting in breathless anticipation.

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  1. Student days: on my first visit to Geneva I walked down the station platform; as I approached the immigration/customs officer I pulled back my jacket and reached towards the inside pocket to pull out my passport. He waved at me to stop reaching. “British?” “Oui.” And he waved me through – he never even saw whether I had a passport. Them wuz the days, eh?

    Similarly on my first visits to Germany and the Low Countries I had no need of a passport – a schoolboy travel card was enough. I’m not saying it was all as trouble-free as it would have been in 1913 but it was more like 1913 than 2021. The border that’s as easy to cross now as in 1913 is, I suppose, the US-Mexican border.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoyed plenty of Raclette, fondue, and views over Lac Léman.

    Comment by dearieme — September 28, 2021 @ 12:08 pm

  2. Here in Switzerland this enforcement of certificates at restaurants is rather new (like, less than two weeks old), and it took some highly publicised Police fines for restaurants to take it seriously. But by now, walking through Zurich today, I saw every place checking guests at the door with the phone app.

    Not too complicated, you have an app installed that shows a QR code, every place has an app that can check the QR code. And the good thing is that for EU citizens (and the Swiss), these work between different countries just fine. The bad thing is, that no one really cares about giving non-EU citizens (and the Swiss) a nice, streamlined experience.

    Comment by tegla — September 28, 2021 @ 12:13 pm

  3. Professor, did you follow the news of recent Russian election? It had amount of fraud enormous even compared to other elections in Russia. There were around 13 million of fake ballots, but the biggest fraud was electronic voting. What’s funny is that results of electronic voting for Moscow came later than results of in-person voting.The authorities waited to know how many votes for United Russia they had to generate! And supposedly liberal chief of radio Echo of Moscow Venediktov was the biggest promoter of electronic voting and denied any fraud during it.

    Comment by mmt — September 28, 2021 @ 1:18 pm

  4. Breathless anticipation lasted since your previous post already – and it was worrisome.

    J&J? Srsly? Despite everything it was known about it ever since inception?
    Oh man.

    I’m reading of your travels (or is it travails?) – and glad I didn’t submit to the vaccination depravity and double glad I have no interest or desire to visit Europe (anymore).

    It is enough to have my own NY version of унтерпришибеевых, Hochul & deBlasio et Al, plus the Marionette-In-Chief. We are becoming a nation divided by ausweis request, pretty quickly.

    Comment by Tatyana — September 28, 2021 @ 3:00 pm

  5. You obviously a very intelligent individual, too bad acumen didn’t extend to the potential dangers of the Covid vaccine.

    Comment by Moe — September 28, 2021 @ 5:59 pm

  6. I thought you’d been arrested (and tortured) by the “thought police.” Nice to have you back!

    Comment by Eric — September 28, 2021 @ 7:30 pm

  7. SWP:

    Good to have you back. U now have to Con, Commander. Welcome back to The Bridge.

    All ahead 1/3. Watch for #GlobalWarming Whirlpools.

    VP VVP

    Comment by Vlad — September 28, 2021 @ 9:40 pm

  8. I’m glad you enjoyed France 🙂

    When the Pass Sanitaire was first made mandatory it was taken reasonably seriously (but it’s true, nobody checked your name as long as your QR code went ‘beep’. Even in airports, funnily enough, where you’d think they might be a little more interested), but in the last few weeks it has become clear that the Police are directing their resources towards real crime or revenue generation (i.e. speed traps), so the GAF meter has gone all lim x-> infinity.

    But this has always been the case with the Covid restrictions over here: The French government has excellent form in pulling back restrictions when the statistics suggest that they’re not needed. And so it is with the Pass Sanitaire: Intensive-care numbers are the lowest they’ve been for a year and are on a downward trend. Rest assured that if that changes, the GAF meter will plummet.

    Also, yes, bureaucracy here is very slow to get moving (for example the vaccination campaign) but once it finally does get moving, the effectiveness is a sight to behold (see vaccine campaign again).

    Comment by HibernoFrog — September 29, 2021 @ 3:28 am

  9. Just realised that I interpreted the GAF rating system completely backwards, so please mentally invert that part of my previous 🙂

    Comment by HibernoFrog — September 29, 2021 @ 5:55 am

  10. I am starting to like the French and detest the English.

    Comment by Joe Walker — September 29, 2021 @ 11:52 am

  11. Si vale, valeo! Welcome back to the Satyricon.

    Comment by Sotosy1 — September 29, 2021 @ 12:06 pm

  12. @Eric. Not yet, anyways. Could well happen. Glad that you welcome my return 😉

    Comment by cpirrong — September 29, 2021 @ 6:39 pm

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