Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité … et Laïcité so says the sign to the immediate left of the main entrance of the local primary school. Everyone entering is continously reminded of the country’s famous, national, three-part motto.
What of the fourth, less well-known term? Laïcité is often defined in English as secularity or secularism. Wikipedia suggests it dates from 1842 and has been used, from the end of the 19th century on, to mean the freedom of public institutions, especially primary schools, from the influence of the Catholic Church.
However, given the decline of Catholicism and the rise of other religions, it’s probably more appropriate to think of it as signifying “the absence of religious involvement in government affairs, as well as absence of government involvement in religious affairs”.
But what a thing to remind everyone of as they go to school every day. No religion here please, we’re French! I wouldn’t have thought it equally as important as Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood, would you?
Here’s a fun discovery for the New Year. The world’s first 24-hour music video featuring Pharrell Williams’ song Happy, which was originally written for the movie Despicable Me 2.
It’s a theme and visual variations for a danceable pop song. The 4-minute piece repeats continuously for 24 hours, but each rendition features a different video of one or more people dancing to the song. If you watched one each day, it would take almost a year to watch all 360 of them.
If you click on the image below, your browser should open the video at the time that corresponds to your time of day.
With apologies to George and Ira Gershwin—and Fred Astaire—who introduced their song in the 1937 film A Damsel in Distress.
I was a stranger in the city
Out of town were the people I knew
I had that feeling of self-pity
What to do? What to do? What to do?
The outlook was decidedly blue
But as I walked through the foggy streets alone
It turned out to be the luckiest day I’ve known
A foggy day in London Town
Had me low and had me down
I viewed the morning with alarm
The British Museum had lost its charm
How long, I wondered, could this thing last?
But the age of miracles hadn’t passed,
For, suddenly, I saw you there
And through foggy London Town
The sun was shining everywhere.
Newspapers are struggling these days. It seems fewer and fewer people read a newspaper regularly, and circulation revenue has decreased as a result. So the press is trying all kinds of ploys to attract “readers”, even going so far as to give away DVDs of full-length movies each week in the attempt.
Today, for example, the following papers are giving away the following films:
In keeping with the national trend, my wife and I rarely buy a weekend paper. However, in recent weeks we’ve been tempted to do so just to obtain the free DVD with which to improve our weekend viewing. Not long ago, your choice of newspaper was often seen as an expression of your political views. Now it’s more likely to reflect your taste in films!
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