Friday, February 12, 2010

Carriage Wit Classics: In Defense of a Nation

So I've committed to actually updating this blog faithfully. Think of it as a New Year's Resolution that avoids lofty levels of self-improvement. However, sometimes there's just not a lot to report or I'm busy. So I'm starting a series called "Carriage Wit Classics" which will be reposting of older things I've written on other blogs in days gone by. It should be new to most of you, however. Think of it as a 'best of' CD.

Okay, so my friend JT has committed some pretty serious blasphemies in the past. I guess that's an understatement. Blasphemy is kind of the theme of his web page. For the most part, I let it go. He's harmless. However, this time, he went too far. He's calling for a boycott of France. That's right, nation of swashbuckling adventure, style, wit, and fashion, simply because he couldn't wrap his barbaric lips around its melodic language.

So, naturally, its time to remind him and every other band wagon jumping Ricky Bobby American that its not cool to hate the French. They can eat their freedom fries somewhere else, because without France, we wouldn't have had:

1. Democracy
The writings of philosophes Rousseau, Montesquieu, and others were heavily influential on the British colonists, and is reflected in Thomas Jefferson's writings.

2. Independence
France bankrupted itself sending troops, supplies, and more importantly, a freaking navy (turns out you need one of those to win a war against an island empire, America), to save our trash during our little revolution. Without France, the British blockade would've starved us out faster than you can say 'we ran out of hard tack'.

3. The Statue of Liberty
"Hey guys, we're already really poor and our government is falling apart because we spent so much money on your revolutionary war, but we thought we'd all chip in and buy you this enormous freaking statue to put in your harbor, so you can, you know, be taken seriously as a promised land for the downtrodden" (this was before the infamous 'build a fence across the border to Mexico' plans were being discussed)

Think of him as a younger, less wooden-teethed, sexier swashbuckling version of George Washington. With a rapier. And he probably swung around on ropes and stuff.

5. French Kissing
And several other erotic techniques we won't go into here, in the interest of keeping this place PG-13.

6. Removing Theocracy from the political sphere
That crap started with Rousseau before Kant (a disciple of Rousseau) ran with it. So basically everything JT believes in has its roots in 18th century French philosophy.

Ironically, one of the most atheistic countries in the world also gives us proof that God exists:

If you've ever enjoyed the female night elf's dance social, you have France's Alizee to thank for that.

8. Kyo
Another French band that's not as easy on the eyes but excellent listening.

9. GĂ©rard Depardieu
Great French actor who also portrayed the middle-aged Porthos in the Man in the Iron Mask.

10: Swashbuckling!
Speaking of Porthos, France is the country where authors like Dumas produced the Three Musketeers, the Man in the Iron Mask, and a whole genre of cloak and dagger swashbuckling adventure that's only been rarely duplicated in other countries. Props to Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel for following in France's high booted, swaggering footsteps.

11: French bread!
Or what passes for it in America.

12: Loreal, cosmetics and perfume in general
You know that hot girl you saw in campus the other day? The one that didn't stink and her face was smooth and perfect. Say thank you the next time you see a Frenchman walking along the street. Before France we had to deal with the odors and sights nature intended us to deal with. Let's just say most people were conceived looong after dark. With noseplugs.

12: Debussy
As in Claude. As in Clair de Lune. As in that song from Ocean's 11. Yeah, that Debussy.

13: The Nationstate
As in..strong centralized government while Germany, Spain, and Italy were still a loose conglomerate of sometimes warring/sometimes trading city-states? As in the cradle of modern civilization after the fall of the Roman Empire?

14: The French Language
Despite JT's inability to grasp its grammar, (it WAS rated a 3 out of 5 difficulty on ...right between Spanish and Russian), my completely scientific survey of whatever random girls were passing by at the moment ranks French as the sexiest language in existence, followed by Italian in close second, and Spanish and German coming in somewhere near the bottom, over Hmong and Pig Latin.

15: Analytic Geometry, and by extension, Calculus
I'm no math fan, but I understand its pretty important for or something. Or making cash registers work. I'm not really sure. But apparently Descartes not only was a founding father of modern philosophy, he also bridged the gap between algebra and geometry with his crazy magic spell formula like theorems, and was in turn crucial to the development of Calculus. So the next time your cash register operator gives you back correct change or you cross a bridge without it exploding or folding into a pretzel, you can thank France for that.

16: Mother Goose
And you KNOW your mom would have run out of things to tell you at night if it weren't for Mother Goose's tales being public domain.

17. Victor Freaking Hugo
Did you ever enjoy the musical Les Miserables? Turns out those are French words, written by a French person, about a historical event from France. For that matter, the Phantom of the Opera also takes place in France. The Scarlet Pimpernel? Largely takes place in France. Without France, Broadway musicals would take place largely in homosexual student apartments and outside with dancing anthropomorphic cats (which I understand is becoming a very common fetish)

18: High Art
I'm talking Monet, Renoir, Picasso, and half a dozen other painters who were either French or did most of their work in France (looking at you, DaVinci). There's a reason the Louvre is in Paris and not...Berlin.

19: Braille
If you're reading this, you probably haven't had to use Braille, but I understand its incredibly awesome for blind people who want to read.

20: Milk that doesn't make you sick when you drink it
Louis Pasteur...Pasteurization... I won't spell this one out for you.

21: Marie Curie
French citizen, pretty much discovered radiation and harnessed its awesome powers. Without radiation, we wouldn't have: Ninja Turtles, the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, and a host of other super-heroes. So basically, we'd be living slaves for the Legion of Doom or whatever other supervillain team-up got its act together and took over our superhero-less world.

22: The Louisiana Purchase
Say what you will about Napoleon, his drive to conquer the world needed funding and we needed an awesomely cheap deal on about a quarter of present day America.

That part in dark green? Including Arkansas? Yeah we got that for about 23 million dollars. Works out to like..I don't know..3 cents an acre. Merci, la France.

23: Opposing the Iraq War (before it was cool)

Remember when the whole "Freedom Fries" thing started? 2003-2004?
Remember why the whole thing started? They thought going to war in
Iraq was unjustified, ill conceived, and over-all, probably a bad idea. Good
thing we didn't listen to them, and instead made fun of how cowardly
the French are. We sure proved them wrong. That's right, back when
all your favorite democrats (looking at you, Madame Clinton) were
voting for war, the French were like 'hey guys....probably not a good
idea to just run in there guns ablaze.."

24. The Air Car
Hey remember how the oil industry is dominating Congress and rising gas prices and global warming are all cause for concern in America? Don't worry, guys, France has got us covered. Presenting the Air Car...a car that runs completely on compressed air for 100 miles, or on 8 gallons of gas and compressed air for a 1000. All for the price of a mid-end car...around 16000 dollars. Coming to your garage in 2010. For more information on how you won't have to get eviscerated at the gas pump, check out the article in Popular Mechanics.

So yeah, just some information. The list could go on indefinitely, but 24 is my favorite number so we'll stop there. If you want to boycott France, be prepared to give up all its sweet contributions to your life. Anyway, the French workweek is 35 hours so I gotta clock out to take a nap, sip some wine, and enjoy some fine cuisine.

Au revoir, suckahs.


  1. Thank you to Boob Nazi for sending me over to this great post. I think it is funny that we in Britain have this continuing rivalry with the French yet I think we love each other really. (And all our old folks can't wait to retire there!!!!)

    And they've got it so right on fine wine, good food and minimal working! I want to move there now!

  2. You forgot to mention cheese and cooking with loads of butter a la Julia Child, who also would not be famous without France.

  3. Oh boy. The French in me (oh wait, can I say that since I am French?) is highly amused by the mentions of Alizee and Kyo.

    Don't forget that the French also perfect laser eye surgery and have wonderful cheese and we're rather good at cooking (and baking) and other stuff like that. Have I mentioned that my mum makes the best boeuf bourguignon ever? She does. Yeah, it's totally not related to the post but I had to share :D

  4. Boob Nazi: Thanks for the shout out, I love France too. Probably why I'm living there at the moment :)

    CambridgeLady: It's true! There are so many old retired British couples here in southern France. And they're all too happy to invite a fellow anglophone over for dinner, so I'm a big fan.

    Imemary: Cheese and cuisine, of course. The first things that come to mind when most people think of France. Mustn't forget those.

    Gali: Ha, I know. I realize that my schoolboy crush on Alizee is about as outdated it looks when I see the French jamming out to Britney Spears "Hit Me Baby, One More Time", and my students inform me that Kyo is no longer very big on the music scene. Still, they were pretty big the first time I was in France and I like their sound.

    Also...really want to try this boeuf bouguignon now! Sounds formidable!

  5. ...Also, our language has a lot of french in it, too. Like, I will use a liason in lieu of committing a faux pas.

  6. Ha! Good call. Gotta thank the Normans for conquering England back in the day and giving us all a 50% off vocabulary discount for learning French.