Some snippets

Maciej covers some ground I’ve been wondering about, comparing his experiences with the French state system and that here. Definitely worth reading, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s.

Oops! NZ channel ‘TV3 has apologised after a graphic labelling US President George W. Bush a ‘professional fascist’ flashed up during its primetime news.’

Henry Farrell writes about homesickness, quoting Dante. It’s such a great quote, I’m going to just reproduce it here:

These are of course silly things to get worked up about; but it’s a universal experience for expatriates to miss the little things as much (if not more than) the greater ones. Dante, who was exiled from Florence, speaks of how

You shall leave everything you love most dearly:
this is the arrow that the bow of exile
shoots first. You are to know the bitter taste
of others’ bread, how salt it is, and know
how hard a path it is for one who goes
descending and ascending others’ stairs.

He’s talking about two things here. First, as an exiled Florentine, he doesn’t like salty bread. Florentines don’t use salt when baking (the result, as far as I remember, of an extended period when the Pisans cut off their salt supplies), so that their bread tastes like blotting paper to non-natives (I lived in Florence three years: my advice to outsiders is to order pane Pugliese in the local bake shops when possible). Second, spiral staircases in Florence tend to curve around the opposite way from staircases elsewhere. Dante’s main point is unassailable; as an exile, you feel longing for the small and unexceptional parts of daily life in your home country, and a quite extraordinary degree of comfort whenever you find them again. Which is why my fridge is now stocked up with Kerrygold.

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