28 September 2006

It's French. Get Over It.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

I have to admit, I don't understand the French. I've tried.
To me they seem insecure and neurotic-
Continually trying to protect the "Frenchness" of their language....
no English terms, please!
In parts of Canada, signs must be bilingual, and some there fought against including English in signage and documents at all.
A large portion of the population there continually strives for independence.
Can you guess which part?
I've heard and read horror stories about the way English speakers were treated in Quebec.

The French have been duplicitous about Western efforts to prosecute the war in Iraq.
Opposing U.S. efforts in the U.N. to control Saddam Hussein, they participated in looting millions and millions of dollars from the corrupt "Oil For Food" program. Got caught at it too, but nothing much has come of it. They then sold weapons and other equipment to the Hussein government which were used against Allied troops.
Now they are an impediment to the establishment of U.N. sanctions against Iran and Iran's attempts to enrich uranium. From my viewpoint, it seems that much of their behavior is based not on common sense, but on the basis of "if the U.S. supports the issue, we must oppose it."
Yeah, that makes a lotta sense!

Okay.......... Deep breath.
Having said all that, there are some things the French do better than anyone in the world. I try to avoid purchasing things French when I can, but there are instances where that is counter-productive.
I bought my first set of Michelin radial tires in 1968, when most had never heard of them. I've bought Michelins since. My opinion is that for the money, they are still the best all-around tires in the world.

And the French build damn fine aircraft.

If you've studied aviation history, you know the French have been involved since the days of our friends, Wilbur and Orville.
The Bleriot, at the time it was built, was incomparable. While Wilbur and Orville built Biplanes, Louis Bleriot built a relatively slick Monoplane, and was the first to fly his airplane across the English Channel.

If we in the U.S. wanted to imitate the French and eliminate French words from our language, we'd lose much of our aviation terminology:
Hangar. (Not Hanger...... please!)......
All of French derivation. I'm sure there are a hundred more I could list.

Back in 1984, '85, and '86, I flew an Aerospatiale AStar 350D for a large construction company.
Typical of the French, the rotor turned the opposite direction from American helicopters, so I had to relearn how to use my feet for anti-torque reaction.
(It also made it difficult switching from the AStar to the Hueys and R22s I was also flying at the time!)

The AStar was similar in size and price to the Bell 206 series, which I had flown a lot. But, in my opinion, there was no comparison in passenger comfort between the two aircraft. The Bell was noisier and slower. A housing for the Cyclic and Collective controls, called "the broom closet", separates the Pilot from the passengers in the 206 JetRanger/LongRanger. The cabin in the AStar is open, like riding in a touring car.
I grudgingly had to admit, the French machine is just a better people mover.

So now comes the big question:
I try to avoid things French whenever I can. Most generally there are simple alternatives so that choosing another path is not too painful.
But how far do you carry that initiative? If the French product is superior to everything else in the market, you are actually doing damage to the overall market if you buy the inferior product, aren't you?

I don't buy French Wines,
I don't do business with Target stores.
I don't buy "Car and Driver" magazine.....
all owned by French companies, but easily sidestepped by buying equivalent products.

But not long ago I bought 4 new tires for Big Bubba's car, and they were Michelins. I wanted nothing but the best beneath him.
And given the choice between buying an AStar and a comparable Bell product right now, I'd probably buy French.

I'd have to grit my teeth, but eventually, I'll get over it.


Dave said...

My father was in the Navy just after WW2 and refuses to buy anything Japanese. My uncles won't buy anything German. We all have bias, but you make a great point about when to exercise it. I work for an American company that sells French software (and yes, like your Michelin tires, it is the best in the world.) So I worry a bit when the French do stupid things that might cause business to exercise their bias. Just remember, it is the government that is the problem, not necessarily the French people. Sometimes the people make mistakes choosing their leaders. After all, we had Bill Clinton for eight long years.

Flyin Dutchman said...

Since I live about 5 minute drive from the Quebec border I would have to agree on the first part of your post about their language police and the signage issues. Growing up near the border I always wondered why we had to have ALL signs bilingual and they don't. Well I have worked in Quebec and can't say that I dislike the "french" people, but I can say I dislike their "french attitude". Man it was good to live on the west coast for 8 years ;)

Mike said...

I rode in an AStar in Alaska. It was smooth and powerful and there were seven of us comfortably seated in the cabin.

The thing I would worry about with an AStar and the Bell 206L I used to work in, is what happens if a patient freaks out or starts seizing.

So, for comfort I love the AStar. It has also set a few world records for performance and is used extensively for mountain flying.

I noticed yesterday that Eurocopter has come out with a new version with a Fenestron. (EC-130)

Who knows if they figured out the backward rotor though!


I try not to purchase anything "French." I've been doing it for yrs. This is one of the sites I use to keep on top of it:


Aviatrix said...

Yeah, if you have a problem with someone you should never do any business with them ever again. That's what makes the world such a pleasant place. Make it a habit. But don't just hate someone yourself, make sure you teach your children to hate them too.

The French were among the first to congratulate your nation on its victory over the British. They gave you a gift that still stands over a harbour in New York today. You should probably blow it up as a symbol of your disdain.

Greybeard said...

Did you read the post?

In 1912, the Japanese gave us the wonderful Cherry Trees you often see pictured in Washington, D.C. in the Spring. Should we have uprooted the trees simply because the Japanese were instrumental in killing thousands of Americans, in 1941?
The trees were at fault, how?
Obviously, many Americans boycotted Japanese goods for some time...surely you can understand why.

Shooting myself in the foot won't solve much. That was kinda the point of the post. I'm talking about punishing someone for hurting me.

It's my hope that we can cause behavioral change, short of having to take stronger action than a boycott.

If you had a neighbor that owned a business, and he killed something important to you, would you do business with him?

I bet not.

Anonymous said...


There's a difference between teaching hate and admitting disdain. I don't like the guy that runs the gas station on the corner because I saw him publicly humilate an employee once. I don't set his gas station on fire because of it... I simply shop across the road at another station. When the management changes, I'll go back to shopping there again... Boycotting a product or a store or a particular purpose is a hell of a lot better than dropping 500 pound bombs on the french capital.

Flightfire said...

Boy, if the rest of the world adopts this policy, we're going to be SOL in about 10 years. In case you haven't noticed, we're not very popular right now.

Greybeard said...

An interesting hypothesis, FF.

Again, "shooting yourself in the foot"...
do you really think there is any possibility that other countries would be able to ignore their number one market?
That'd be fun to watch!

And 10 years?
Do you think if we were forced to, we'd finally get serious about developing alternative energy resources?

Being boycotted by the likes of Crazy Hugo might be a long-term plus!

k said...

All of that aside, isn't it still fun to bash the hoighty-toighty Frenchies just a bit? I mean, they are contributing to the psychoses of the world... :)