La santé :service public ?

L’ article de M. Ezra Klein « Why an MRI costs $1,080 in America and $280 in France ? » ( Washington Post 3 mars 2012 cliquez ici pour le lire) soulève des questions aussi fondamentales qu’intéressantes. Notant qu’en 2009, les dépenses de santé aux Etats-Unis se montaient à $ 7,960 par personne alors qu’en France elles n’étaient que de $ 3,978 par personne, au  Canada $4,808 et en Allemagne $4,218, il observe que si les dépense de santé américaines étaient au niveau des trois pays cités le déficit américain serait résorbé. Il attribue la différence aux prix pratiqués par les fournisseurs des services de santé qui cherchent à maximiser leur bénéfices.

Si l’analyse de M. Klein-et celles des économistes qu’il cite- est bonne, alors pourquoi ne devrait-on pas considérer que  la fourniture de services de santé est un service public qui devrait  rémunéré sur la base des coûts plu un profit garanti ? Vos commentaires seront les bienvenus.

Trente œuvres « disparues ou volées » saisies à l’Institut Wildenstein

Pour en savoir plus sur la saga des tableaux disparus, lisez l’article du journal Le Monde en cliquant ici , l’article dans The Telegraph, »Affaire Wildenstein:une nouvelle veuve porte plainte » dans le Paris-Match du 16 .02.2011, « Affaire Widenstein:scandale en toile de fond » par Daniele Georget ,13.02.2011, et l’article de David Le Bailly – Paris Match « L’étau judiciaire se resserre autour de Guy Wildenstein ».

Where else but in New York?

Wednesday,walking through Central Park with my friend Nicholas D. chatting merrily,if somewhat loudly,in French about the role of France in the concert of Nations  a lady ,looking remakably like the New York Public Library librarian in Ghostbusters, and,like her ,a librarian ,stops us ,apologizing profusely for the interruption ,to ask us in very good French,if in current usage a word such as « église » when capitalized should be written »Eglise » or « Église »!

Only in New York!

L’élection qui gêne l’UMP

Tel est le titre d’un récent article paru dans L’Express sur lequel une aimable lectrice a bien voulu attirer notre attention.

Au moment où les Français de l’Est des Etats-Unis s’apprêtent à voter, la lecture de cet article –cliquez ici pour le lire—incite à la réflexion.

Max Raabe and Dieter Fischer-Dieskau

Max Raabe and his Palast Orchester‘s recent performance at Carnegie Hall prompted the following question: why such a fine rendition of the German cabaret songs and a not quite convincing rendition of songs in English of the same era? Listen first to his signature song “Heute Nacht or nie” ( click here) then to the way he interprets the great 1931 classic “Dream a little dream of me”( click here ).Now compare Raabe’s interpretation to that of the Dorsey Brothers (click here ).Which do you prefer? Don’t you agree that Raabe does not quite pull it off?

The answer to the why lies; I suspect and look forward to your comments, in the influence of the Schubert Lieder vocal style on German songs in general and, likely, on the vocal training of Max Raabe. Listening again to “Heute Nacht or nie” I cannot help but be reminded of Dieter Fischer-Dieskau’s interpretation of Schubert’s Winterreisen Op. D 911 (click here).The vocal style used to sing Lieder is well suited, and expected, for many German cabaret songs but is not suited to the American songs of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin  and many others of that era. This may explain why Raabe’s interpretation of American songs did not sound quite as convincing as his interpretation of German cabaret songs.

Le plan de relance américain:bilan après un an

Mercredi 17 fevrier 2010, l’émission quotidienne ,L’heure des comptes,de Radio Canada m’a interrogé sur le bilan du plan de relance américain après une année. Pour écouter cette entrevue cliquez ici.



Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol arrived last night and turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. What the book gained in thickness it lost in tautness .Much of the plot’s main « surprise » can be guessed after the first few chapters. Set in a Washington DC awash with Masonic symbolism one cannot help but be reminded of the movie National Treasure. Readers interested in finding more about the Masonic symbols used by Brown should consult the website, http://www.freemasonlostsymbol.com which is a collaboration of the Masonic Society, the Masonic Service Association and the George Washington Masonic Memorial to address the book’s Masonic references.

As in his Da Vinci Code, Brown’s villain here is a thoroughly repulsive psychopath, Mal’akh, reminding one of Silence of the Lambs. I wonder why such psychopaths exert such a fascination on Dan Brown. The rest of his characters lack in depth:Inoue Sato director of a mythical Office of Security within the CIA ,improbably investigating in Washington D.C. seems to step out of a cartoon.

While the book is principally a pean to people’s potential, sadly, it is spoiled by suffused sloppiness. Here are 3 glaring examples:

1-at p.421 and 424,Professor Langdon is struggling to decipher a series of pictograms when he exclaims « The first letter is Η » and then « Suddenly he realized what the word might be :Ηερεδομ » the word « Heredom » which he proceeds to define, correctly, giving a correct  etymology completely misspelled: « From the Greek Ηερεδομ originating from Hieros-domos « .In Greek, as Mr. Brown should have easily ascertained, the letter H is the capital « η »=eta not the English « H ». In Greek there is no letter for the aspirated « h », the effect is achieved through the use of a diacritic, the spiritus asper, or rough breathing represented by an inverted comma placed above and before the vowel to be aspirated. Thus the word should have been written   Ἑρεδομ or – Ἡρεδομ.

2-at p.437-8, he writes « all spiritual rituals included aspects that would seem frightening if taken out of context-crucifixion reenactments, Jewish circumcision rites….Islamic niqab… ».Sorry Mr.Brown, the niqab is not a spiritual ritual; it is merely an article of clothing that covers the entire body of certain Moslem women leaving only the eyes. Islamic scholars are divided on the question of whether the niqab is mandated or simply permitted by the Koran but none regards the niqab as a spiritual ritual.

3-at p.497, chapter 133 ( yes!) after the protagonists have been chased around ,taken prisoners liberated,escaped from improbable situations all starting with a speech that Prof.Langdon was to give at 7 p.m., Brown writes that Langdon was « still unable to believe that it had been less than ten hours since [about 7 p.m.] ».We too are unable to believe that he could have done it in ten hours, however skilled or superhuman Langdon may be!

All in all ,to borrow the phrase :a good yarn ruined.