When you can't live without bananas

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Russia: a country with even more dysfunctional sexual relations than Singapore

"The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think." - Edwin Schlossberg


I never thought I would think so highly of a Marie Claire article, but there you go:

Lessons in Love: The Millionaire Hunters

""Women want a husband who owns a private plane, a yacht, and an oil well. It's not impossible, but they need superfantastic skills to succeed"...

Varra holds various courses for women, including "How to Marry in Three Months" and "Oral Sex for Experts"...

in what is no doubt partly a backlash against the Soviet era — when women toiled in state industries alongside men — many young women today would prefer to marry a millionaire than work to become one themselves.

Varra says she encourages students to look beyond a man's wallet to find other good qualities — to avoid being trapped in a "loveless golden cage"... Russian women outnumber men by more than 10 million...

Holding on to a good man long-term is an equally high-stakes matter. Divorce in Russia is easy; a powerful man can divorce his wife "in an hour," according to one local insider. Under the country's anachronistic divorce laws, husbands are generally not obliged to give their wives a penny, and they are often awarded custody of the children. "Relationships are like roulette for modern Russian women," says the insider. "They have a lot to win and everything to lose, so they can never afford to get complacent"...

"Russian men relate to women mainly through sex," Varra tells the students, who range in age from 21 to 60, and who wait as long as a year and a half to attend the popular classes. "So if a man is happy in bed, you're halfway there." But only halfway, she cautions, because even the most sexually acrobatic woman won't succeed unless she knows how to manipulate a man's brain as well... "Otherwise he will get bored and drink vodka." She winks. (Interestingly, Varra herself is not looking for another husband; she is focused instead on her booming business.)

Varra's basic approach is to teach women how to gain power over men by using classic feminine and sexual wiles. To the Western feminist mind, it might seem a bit retrograde, yet Varra insists that Russian women are the ultimate post-feminists. "We know all about equality and independence — we've been there," she tells me. During the Soviet era, which ended in 1991, millions of men died in wars and labor camps. Women often ran their households alone, while also working in factories. The problem is that Russian men, says Varra, remain deeply patriarchal and still expect women to be subservient. "Rather than try to change men, which will take another 200 years," she says, "we might as well get whatever we can out of them now"...

"I've never had a problem getting men because I'm so beautiful," she says, swinging her long legs over the side of the sofa. "But they treated me like a plaything, and I didn't know how to stop it." Markova, a sauna attendant, has learned how to target the men she likes using direct eye contact and conversational ploys, so she is in charge from the start. What she wants, she says, is a "real man who will take care of me." Some diamonds and designer frocks wouldn't hurt, either. "Yes, of course he must be wealthy," she says, looking incredulous that the question was even asked.

Is money really so important?... Even the former Soviet president Mikhail S. Gorbachev has embraced luxury, appearing in a recent promotion for Louis Vuitton luggage...

"My past husbands always relied on me. I wanted to reverse that," says the slim Videnina, a government office worker... "The best thing I learned was never to refuse him anything in bed. It worked." Not only did he marry her, she says, he also began lavishing her with expensive gifts: "He gave me a new car and a plasma TV for my birthday"...

One of the latest trends is "VUM-building," which sounds like a doomed Soviet industrial project but is apparently a surefire way to get your man addicted to you. VUM stands for "Vaginally Used Muscles," and a number of schools are offering courses in strengthening and toning the muscles using special equipment — a kind of gym for the vagina...

"Once a woman reaches optimal fitness, she can shoot a fountain of water up out of her vagina in the bath"... Fine-tuning can be achieved by learning to shoot out pebbles onto a metal target...

"Sex is 90 percent of a relationship for a man." If the latter is true in Russia, it certainly helps explain why sex schools are so popular. Moscow even has a geisha school that teaches seduction arts from the Far East, such as erotic dance. There's also a "bitch school," where women can learn cunning tactics for beating out female competitors.

To give the gift of a head start, some women are even sending their daughters to the schools. Inga Kozina, 34, attended a course at Moscow's Geisha School, and now is sending her 15-year-old daughter, Mariam. "She's a pretty girl," says Kozina, "but there's a lot of competition these days."

Still, isn't 15 just a little bit young? "Not at all," says Mariam, decked out in the mandatory stiletto boots. "Thanks to my mom, I'm very confident with boys already. I'll always get what I want."

Links - 31st December 2010

"I have an existential map. It has 'You are here' written all over it." - Steven Wright


The animal world has its junkies too - "Coca-chewing garden snails can climb a glass rod in a travelling time 25 per cent less than that of snails fed on a regular diet of ivy... In south-east Asia, some water buffalo will browse poppies that are waiting to be harvested... Once the harvest is over, the beasts’ behaviour returns to normal, but only after they have shown withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, restlessness and convulsions"

The hidden history of China in photos

Involuntary Celibacy: A Life Course Analysis - "As many as 16% of married couples had not engaged in sexual intercourse in the month prior to a representative national survey of U.S. residents (Donnelly, 1993). Another group of researchers reported that 14% of men and 10% of women in the U.S. had not had any sexual activity involving genital contact in the past 12 months, and that 3% had none since their 18th birthdays... Traditional gender role norms appeared to influence our sample, with males reporting hesitancy in initiating dates, and females reporting a lack of invitations by males... Most of the virgins and singles did not date [as teens]... lack of dating and sexual experimentation in the teen years may be precursors to problems in adult sexual relationships... Our respondents overwhelmingly perceived their lack of sexual activity in a negative light... the longer the duration of the celibacy, the more likely our respondents were to view it as a permanent way of life"

Anthropology Group Addresses Furor Over Deleting ‘Science’ - "There has been a longstanding cultural gap within the association between the evidence-based researchers, who include some social anthropologists, and those more interested in advocating for the rights of women or native peoples... The differences between the humanistic and scientific approaches may, however, be too large to be bridged. “I really don’t see how or why anthropology should entail humanities,” said Frank Marlowe, president-elect of the Evolutionary Anthropology Society, another association affiliate, given that the social sciences are empirical, while the humanities are analytic, critical or speculative. “We evolutionary anthropologists are outnumbered by the new cultural or social anthropologists, many but not all of whom are postmodern, which seems to translate into antiscience,” Dr. Marlowe saidt"
It's telling that those who advocate for female and native rights are opposed to those who work from the evidence

YouTube - Star Trek rips off Star Wars - "There's no Star Wars rip off here. Star Trek and Star Wars just happen to use a mythology device known as "the Hero's Journey" (or Monomyth).
THis device can be seen in several films/stories such as Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz, The Hidden Fortress, Harry Potter, The Matrix, Excalibur, Pinnochio."

YouTube - Nude Nuns with Big Guns OFFICIAL TRAILER - "Upon taking her vows to become a nun, Sister Sarah is abused, brainwashed and drugged into submission by the corrupt clergy. On the verge of death from a lethal dose of drugs, Sister Sarah receives a message from GOD telling her to take vengeance on all those who did her wrong. Armed with God's will and an arsenal of big guns, she dispenses Judgment Day on her former tormenters. When the church hires the merciless motorcycle gang the "Los Muertos" to track down and kill her, they soon realize that this SISTER IS ONE BAD MOTHER!"

Do Competitive Work Places Deter Female Workers? A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment on Gender Differences in Job-Entry Decisions - "Recently an important line of research using laboratory experiments has provided a new potential reason for why we observe gender imbalances in labor markets: men are more competitively inclined than women... we randomized nearly 7,000 interested job-seekers into different compensation regimes... The data highlight the power of the compensation regime in that women disproportionately shy away from competitive work settings"

ST Forum: Narrow the gender gap - "If corporal punishment is indeed effective, why aren't both genders made equally liable?... The other alternative [to National Slavery] is to raise the tax rates for women - as their contribution to the country in lieu of the military service men are required to do... Let us work towards a fair system where no one is penalised for the gender he or she is born as"
Naturally, AWARE is silent on this

ST Forum: Disturbed by 'discrimination' ad - "I WAS taking the MRT when I saw the Great Eastern Life Assurance Company's campaign, titled "It's great to be a woman", on the train. The headline read "Discrimination works. Especially on Ladies' Nite""
Again, the silence from AWARE is deafening; hilarious line: "to me, the moral price paid for buying into the gender norms that clubs sell in return for a good time is higher than the cost of a few free drinks"

The path to enlightenment / The sacred meets the scared in Japan's Kii Mountains - "[As women are banned,] one male protester "has gone so far as to repeatedly climb Mount Omine while wearing a dress, becoming perhaps the first transvestite Buddhist pilgrim"... "Some may call it discrimination, but in Japan there is a long tradition that some mountains are only for men and some mountains are only for women," he said. "On Okinawa, for example, there is a mountain that is only for women. And of course on Mount Omine you have female animals, and the trees are both male and female. So it's not discrimination"... "If he drops you, he is required to jump off the cliff," said Ashihara. This wasn't as comforting as it apparently was intended to be"

YouTube - Girl discovers boyfriend's toilet cam - "A woman contacted Hong Kong police about her boyfriend's secret toilet camera only to find that they don't have the power to investigate because he didn't break any laws. The woman's boyfriend allegedly recorded video clips of her coworkers in the toilet with his spy cam."
Evidently it's not an offence to offend the modesty of a woman in Hong Kong!

YouTube - Viral Chinese time travel commercial

Crayon | Luxirare - Edible Crayons

Pizza Protips: Fat - "Fat isn't required in bread dough, and some might say that it doesn't belong at all in pizza dough. Whether—or when—you use it is up to you. But since it's so common in so many doughs, today we'll discuss the role fat plays in yeasted doughs"

How immigration can benefit native workers - "There is hardly any evidence that immigrant workers have a negative effect on the wages of native workers (see for instance Card 2009 and Glitz 2007) or that they crowd-out other jobs in the US (Card and Di Nardo 2000) or Europe. On the contrary, some authors emphasise the existence of a potentially positive effect of immigrants on the demand for native workers... Our hypothesis is that immigrants, who often do not speak the language and do not master the culture and norms of the host country, are concentrated in more manual-routine tasks (especially among less educated groups). The inflow of immigrants thus increases the supply of manual skills relative to the supply of abstract skill"

NMAWorldEdition: YouTube - Elton John becomes a dad at age 62
"if you think this is homophobic you clearly haven't seen Elton John's older music videos."
No one is calling this Ukraine-phobia - even though Chernobyl can be seen through the adoption office window

Hanna Rosin: New data on the rise of women | Video on TED.com - "The phrase first-born son is so deeply ingrained in our consciousness that this statistic alone shocked me. In American fertility clinics, 75 percent of couples are requesting girls and not boys... Certainly this is not the first time that we've had great progress with women. The 20's and the 60's also come to mind. But the difference is that, back then, it was driven by a very passionate feminist movement that was trying to project its own desires... that's why I talk about the end of men... in 1,997 out of 2,000 communities, women, young women, were making more money than young men... here's my favorite quote from one of the girls: "Men are the new ball and chain"... in our pop culture... we have on the male side, what one of my colleagues likes to call the "omega males" popping up, who are the males who are romantically challenged losers who can't find a job... And then on the female side, you have the opposite, in which you have these crazy superhero women"
Unfortunately she doesn't reflect on the disturbing implications of this power shift. She doesn't actually celebrate female superiority but just presents it in a very matter-of-fact way. It's just that we're so used to claims of male "superiority" being met with outrage, or outrage at male "dominance" that the neutrality seems loaded; A Voice for Men takes a page from feminist methodology in claiming she's abusing her children: there is a very good reason the boy was asked not to interrupt - it would disrupt the flow of the video. It's the same reason you try and prevent random people from walking into your frame when you are shooting a video or photo.
Though one comment: "This is exactly why teachers favor girls in the classroom: they don’t pose a significant challenge to a teacher’s authority"

The Case Against Breast-Feeding - "I was left feeling trapped, like many women before me, in the middle-class mother’s prison of vague discontent: surly but too privileged for pity, breast-feeding with one hand while answering the cell phone with the other, and barking at my older kids to get their own organic, 100 percent juice—the modern, multitasking mother’s version of Friedan’s “problem that has no name”... the medical literature looks nothing like the popular literature. It shows that breast-feeding is probably, maybe, a little better; but it is far from the stampede of evidence that Sears describes... how is it that every mother I know has become a breast-feeding fascist?... "Mothers these days are expected to “optimize every dimension of children’s lives"... Even in the best of marriages, the domestic burden shifts, in incremental, mostly unacknowledged ways, onto the woman. Breast-feeding plays a central role in the shift... when people say that breast-feeding is “free,” I want to hit them with a two-by-four. It’s only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing"
Keywords: The case against breastfeeding, overrated

Woman Set Fire To Her Boyfriend's Crotch - "Men – this is a good example of why it is never a good idea to fall asleep before resolving an argument with your girlfriend or wife! Of course, a better idea is not to date or marry a woman who would burn your passion so literally"
"how many people find this as funny simply because the victim was a man?"

EDIFYING EDITING - "One well-known irate author, after a rejection, wrote me “Who are you to reject my paper?” The answer, which I didn’t send, is “I’m the editor”... One author wrote me, with no evidence of a sense of humor, that if I rejected his paper, he would be denied tenure and his three children would go hungry. My response, which I didn’t send, was “Good luck in your next career”... One of the surprises of being an AER co-editor was the number of people who believe the journals are controlled by the top departments for the benefit of the top departments... There are authors who attempt to annoy the editor. I’m not sure why they consider this to be a good strategy... I have seen one that had a heading “Conclusion” with only one sentence: “See the introduction”... “the AER refereeing fee is just enough to buy a bottle of scotch, which helps me forget these miserable papers”... ‘I have written a gentle report, because the author is obviously inexperienced and very junior, and I don’t want to discourage him. But make no mistake: this paper makes no contribution and you should not encourage a revision.’ The author of that paper, which I rejected, had already won a Nobel prize in economics"

Climate Change: Study Says Dire Warnings Fuel Skepticism

A Faustian bargain - "Of all the courses I took in college and graduate school, the ones that have benefited me the most in my career as a scientist are the courses in classics, art history, sociology, and English literature. These courses didn't just give me a much better appreciation for my own culture; they taught me how to think, to analyze, and to write clearly. None of my sciences courses did any of that"
This says more about science education that it does about the necessity of having separate departments of French, Italian, Classics, Russian and Theater Arts

France 2010 - Day 6, Part 3 - Fontainebleau Forest, Piment d'Or (Asian Prince aka Wo-hen Nankan restaurant)

"It was no wonder that people were so horrible when they started life as children." - Kingsley Amis


France 2010
Day 6 - 8th October - Fontainebleau Forest, Piment d'Or (Asian Prince aka Wo-hen Nankan restaurant)
(Part 3)

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Random building

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Porte Dorée ("Golden Gate")

I then had a look at the gardens. While they were nice, they were no Versailles - though that doesn't matter as much since:

1) It was early Spring (early April) when I went so it was still quite desolate
2) I don't have any photos thanks to an incident that shall not be named

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Gardens: Le Tibre ("The Tiber"?!)

Panorama of Le Tibre and Le Grand Parterre - gardens of Fontainebleau

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Exit of Château. I still had to view the gardens, though.

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Le Tibre

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Side of Gardens: Les Cascades ("Waterfalls" - there were fountains on the other side)
I think this is what I marked as Outside Grille du Bois d'Hyver

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Le Grand Canal

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Château from gardens

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I was trying to find a way to get out of the gardens and into the forest of Fontainebleau, but the gardens were very well-fenced-off (for example, the gate at Les Cascades was locked. Considering that entrance to the gardens was free, this was not because they wanted to charge for entry.

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Water obstacle

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High wall

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La Grande Prairie

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Le Grand Canal

Finally, I entered the boundary of the Forêt Domaniale de Fontainebleau ("Royal Forest of Fontainebleau")

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"Forêt Domaniale de Fontainebleau
Feux Interdits" ("Fires forbidden")

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Path skimming edge of forest

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Château and gardens from border. The best view of the Château is from the path on the outskirts of the forest.

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Cone trees

Panorama of Château and gardens of Fontainebleau

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Tour group catching up with me

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Plaque on the cultural and natural value of the forest

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Forest path

I would've loved to have done more than skim the boundary of the forest, but people were waiting for me and nagging me, so I had to return to the town. Instead, I will content myself with looking at nice photos of the forest:

Exiting the forest, I made my way back to the town.

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"Centre Sportif d'Equitation Militaire. Domaine Militaire. Interdiction de Pénétrer"
("Sports Centre for Military Equitation. Military Area. No Penetration Allowed")

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My notes say Grille de l'Allée de Maintenon ("Gate of the Alley of Maintenon")

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According to a map, this is Avenue de Maintenon

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Etang des Carpes

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People enjoying a warm autumn day

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Trees, Avenue and Château

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Random Fontainebleau building

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Green fountain

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Random church

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"Sauf livraisons... Arrêt 5 minutes autorisé à partir de 12 heures. Après midi, c'est permis!"
("Except for deliveries... 5 minute stops are allowed after 12pm. After noon, it's allowed!")
Flexible parking. Presumably this works by an honour system - at least for stops of less than half an hour or so.

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French heroics at train station. Actually this is even more inane than the previous plaques I'd spotted, as this merely commemorates the arrest of the Mayor of Avon on that platform by the Gestapo.

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"Frauder, ça nous coûte et ça nous empêche de réaliser les investissements dont les lignes D et R ont besoin
Votre titre de transport est le contrat d'assurance entre vous et la SNCF. Pensez à valider votre titre de transport"
("Defrauding costs us and prevents us from making the investments which lines D and R need
Your ticket is a contract of assurance between you and the SNCF. Think about validating your ticket.")

For dinner we went to [Indo-]Chinatown.

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This restaurant seems more Chinese than Vietnamese.

As I was walking, I noticed something very distinctive at the side - it was a poster of Asian Prince! The plan had been to visit this restaurant, Piment d'Or ("Golden Chili") but the secret part of the plan had been to see if I would notice it if it were not pointed out to me. My dedication to Wo-hen was enough that I did - the place I had been yearning to visit for a whole year was now right in front of me.

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Piment d'Or

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Poster of Asian Prince aka Wo-hen Nankan aka Tuan Anh
The first of the 2 phrases translates as "petite histoire" (small/casual tale) and the waitress said the second was hard to translate.

Addendum: A Vietnamese friend translated the phrases for me as "it's a small matter" and "it's just a simple thing"

While sitting at Piment d'Or, I saw my first 3 Asian Guy-White Girl couples. Perhaps it was because it was Indo-Chinatown.

Besides being a haunt of Asian Prince, the food was also very good.

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Pork Spring Rolls. Someone had already eaten one.

During the course of the evening, I talked to the waitress to find out more about Asian Prince's relationship to this place. She said that her uncle - the owner of the restaurant - was "le meilleur ami de Tuan Anh" ("Tuan Anh's best friend"). The last time he had visited the restaurant had been last year (2009), and as previous intelligence had reported, there was no fixed time when he came to Paris.

I even showed the waitress my Wo-hen Fan Card (which I had specially brought for this trip), though I didn't tell her about the name itself:

My Wo-hen Fan Card (Template)

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Something with prawns

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This was a pancake (like a bang chang kueh) with mung beans inside. I didn't like the mung beans.

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Porc Caramel. This was very sweet. Too sweet. Even for me.

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Bun Cha - Hanoi Style Grilled Pork, in a sweet sauce, with noodles

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Soupe Impériale de Hué (Bún bò Huế), "bœuf, jambonneau, pied de porc"

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Bill. I love how it's in a mixture of Vietnamese and French.

When I paid the bill, I met the owner of the restaurant - the waitress's uncle. I asked him for more information about Asian Prince, and he said Asian Prince would come to sing for an association which would invite him, but he didn't know when he would come. The uncle's French wasn't very good, and he seemed to be a first-generation immigrant (he asked me if I knew Teochew or Cantonese). I also showed him my Wo-hen card.

After dinner we passed by other restaurants on the way back to the métro.

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"Le Sarawan" restaurant with Rijsttafel (!). Their website says that they do "Spécialités malaisiennes, indonésiennes, chinoises et vietnamiennes". That's like half of Asia already.

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Fortune God restaurant

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At 9:40pm there was still a queue for this popular Pho 14.

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Cheap food

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Ironically this 2 star hotel looked worse than the 1 star below

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One McDonalds I saw had CBO on the menu: "Chicken, Bacon, Oignons". Err.

In my quest for new McFlurry flavours (and dessert), I got a Pecan & Nuts McFlurry from a McDonalds. After I bought it, I then saw 3 Asian Guy-White Girl couples crossing the street. At the same time!

The bread I'd had so far in France had been disappointing.

La France n'est pas que Paris ; Paris n'est pas la France. Il ne faut pas dire : 'Paris, je t'aime'. En fait, c'est l'Europe de l'Ouest qu'on doit aimer.

I didn't see any flyers for escort services, even in Pigalle. The French are quite discreet.

Apparently only East Asian women are so obsessed with branded goods that they will ask people to buy branded goods from Paris for them.
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