I have been plugging away at the paper I am giving this weekend: the French administration’s desire to abolish Alsace-Lorraine in the early 1920s. So far it is quite long (more than I can fit into the fifteen minutes that I have been given) so I will have to use some heavy editing. I am also putting together a proposal for a paper on the competition between cities to establish a Rhenish Museum in the late 1920s.

I have given a quick glance at Herman Lebovics’ new book on contemporary French politics, Bringing the Empire Back Home: France in the Golden Age. It deals with the debates over migrants and regionalization: discussions have been clouded over by the legacy of republicanism that have made France look more homogeneous.

I should note that Chirac and Raffarin are rejecting Sarkozy’s suggestion that the 1905 secular laws should be moderated to let religion (especially Muslims) come into French public life. But will the intrusion of the state into religion go beyond what there neighbors will do: Muslims may be forced to pray in German.

I am so glad that the new Secretary of State already has the respect of world leaders (auf Deutsch).

By the way, I am frustrated with reading. I feel as if I never complete books any more. I have been picking away at Stephen Baxter’s Evolution for weeks. I highly recommend the book (fictionalization of the emergence of man since the extinction of the dinosaurs–hard sci fi that is really dramatic), but I have had so little time for concentrated reading (for pleasure) that I can read no more than a few pages at a time. And yet I have read parts of numerous books in the last few days.

I am trying hard to put the elections out of my mind (avoiding all the tin foil haberdashery). Fellow Cliopatriarch Jonathan Dresner sent me this link that divides the nation into ten regions on the basis of political orientation. I am impressed by the sophistication of this map, avoiding cliches about geography and mentality. It is too early to make predictions, but I think the next Democratic candidate for the the presidency should come from here. I am reminded that the Bush administration wants to divide the country into ten regions for the purpose of medical insurance. The idea is that insurers should provide coverage for the entire region, and they would not be able to to farm only the rich communities. I wonder if there is any correlation between the two models.

In the mood for some philosophy? Brandon has some interesting remarks regarding temporal perception in the works of Augustine.

Amazing Race 6 is coming up. Like Brdgt, I am not impressed with the contestants (with the exception of the ex-CIA guy and his daughter, this season’s version of the vet-daughter combo). This description for this ex-couple disturbs me:

Rebecca’s first impression of Adam was that he was gay, but after he pursued her for months, he proved otherwise.

WTF? What kind of test proves heterosexuality, and why does it matter? Is CBS trying to prove that the contestants have been properly screened?