Frenchness

French Girl

French Girl

Now, “Frenchness” may seem to be an intolerably vague idea, and it smells of related notions like Volksgeist that have acquired a bad odor since ethnography became polluted with racism in the 1930s. Nonetheless, an idea may be valid even if it is vague and has been abused in the past. Frenchness exists….[I]t is a distinct cultural style; and it conveys a particular view of the world—a sense that life is hard, that you had better not have any illusions about selflessness in your fellow men, that clear-headedness and quick wit are necessary to protect what little you can extract from your surroundings, and that moral nicety will get you nowhere. Frenchness makes for ironic detachment. It tends to be negative and disabused. Unlike its Anglo-Saxon opposite, the Protestant ethic, it offers no formula for conquering the world. It is a defense strategy, well suited to an oppressed peasantry or an occupied country.—Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History

A Physicist Disproves the Existence of Vampires

Bela Lugosi as Dracula

Bela Lugosi as Dracula

It was bound to happen. According to University of Central Florida physics professor Costas Efthimiou, there is a simple mathematical argument against the existence of vampires. I saw it on Livescience.Com. (If you follow this link, click on slide #5 for the reference.)

According to Efthimiou, there were 536,870,911 human beings on January 1, 1600. Let us assume that the very first vampire came into existence on that day and bit one person a month so that he could sustain himself with his victim’s blood and change his victim into another vampire. By February 1, 1600, there would be two vampires; by March 1, four vampires; by April 1, eight vampires. If vampirism spread at that rate, it would take only two and a half years for the entire population of the earth to be converted into undead bloodsucking beasts. If that happened, there would be no one left to feed on.

Even if you played with the equation a bit and allowed vampires to feed less often, the constant doubling of the vampire population would have consumed the entire non-vampire population rapidly.

In the end, the proof resembles the story of the ancient king and the grains of wheat on the chessboard. If you’re interested in pursuing that tale, here is a charming re-telling of it on a Canadian website.

So when you go to bed tonight, you needn’t festoon all the entryways with wreaths of garlic. Instead, just eat the garlic. It’s good for you!