Posts Tagged ‘French’



I was watching a video clip over lunch  in the office.  It was a US American TV news interview where the interviewee was talking about media influences on young people, and she said they had wooden stairs.

Well, when I heard that, I was surprised — why would that matter?  Then it dawned on me that she meant “Wooden Stares” — isn’t language marvellously twisted at times?

I am not always so slow on the uptake, I was talking about a vacation, and a passing colleague suddenly asked me if I was going to Mauritius (quite why he got that idea is unknown). I quipped back that I wasn’t going, and that it was all “Mauritius Rumours”.  Ho ho ho.  yes, I know!

I was also asked by my client not to forget some details — and after many reminders I am afraid I resorted to “It’s OK, relax, Omission Impossible”.  This has now been taken up, and it has been adapted to “Omission Accomplished”.

Today I had the bizarre situation of telling my “French” joke. The French Joke as far as I am concerned.  The trouble was that today I was forced to retell the joke to a Frenchman!  here’s my French joke:

“Did you do French at School”


“Well, do you remember that ‘water‘ is ‘L’eau‘?”


“And ‘to go‘ is ‘a‘?”


“And do you recall that ‘it is‘ is ‘c’est‘?”


“And finally that ‘The time‘ is the hour or ‘L’heure‘?”


“Well, the French Navy has an official motto, which is basically, along the lines of ‘To the sea or to the water, it is the time or it is the hour'”

“So what?”

“Well, ‘To the water’ is “A l’eau'”

“And “It is the hour” is “C’est l’heure’!”

“A L’eau c’est l’heure”

(note: sounds like Hello sailor).

Seb took the joke in good spirits, and as I walked away from his desk, he said,

“Dave – what eez zat on your shoe?”

At which point, and in mid stride, I cocked my leg back, out and up to look at the sole of my shoe, in what must have been the most gay gesture I have ever done.  Genius! Good old Seb, he got me good and proper!




This is what made Admiral Nelson great. It all came down to basic game theory.  It is a wonderful and beautiful thing.  I love this, and I hope you all enjoy it too.

Here’s the scene: The French Navy and the English Navy are sailing toward each other and there’s going to be a battle. Nelson is leading 40 English ships, but he counts 46 French ships in the distance.

His first calculation was as follows:

1. The Big Battle.

FRENCH: (46 . 1)2 = (46)2=2116

NELSON: (40 . 1)2 = (40)2=1600

2116-1600 =516

square root of 516 = 23.

Nelson’s first calculation shows that at the end of the battle, if they went head-on, all the English ships would be lost and there would be 23 French ship surviving.

Note that Nelson allocated a kill rate of one, and thought that the French ships were no better or worse than his (the kill rates cancel out).

Well, this was bad news for Nelson, he needed to do something.  He couldn’t get six or more ships, and he had no secret weapon to improve the kill rate by enough to match six ships.  He needed to divide and conquer, the question is in what proportion.  He did another calculation:

2. Three Battles to lose

Nelson splits the French in two exactly. He allocates 31 ships to fight one half, and the remaining 9 English to fight the other half.

529-81 = 448
square root of 448 is 21.16 French
So all 8 of the English ships would be sunk and about 22 French ships survive Battle A.

1024-529= 432
square root of 432 is 20.78
So all of the 23 French ships would be sunk, and about 21 English ships would survive Battle B.

After the first two battles, we have this one to see who wins. But this is no good as it is between 22 French and 21 English ships; the French are likely to win!

At this point Nelson realised that by dividing the French he has improved his chances, so he decided to try another calculation, but instead of the proportion being 9-31, he tried 8-32…

3. Three Battles to Even the Odds

529-64 = 465
square root of 465 is 21.56
So all 8 of the English ships would be sunk and about 22 French ships would survive Battle A.

1024-529= 495
square root of 495 is 22.25
So all of the 23 French ships would be sunk, and about 22 English ships would survive Battle B.

This was an evens-Stevens match between 22 French and 22 English ships.

This was what Nelson had been looking for — he found a method of evening out the odds and making the battle more fair — it would be down to fate and the kill rate.

And that is how the Battle of Trafalgar was won.

Divide and Conquer (in the right proportion) will even things up when the odds seem to be stacked against you.

The only other variable is the kill rate.

Example of Kill Rate Calculation:

Three trained men fight 12 untrained men. What should their kill rate be to win? 2 or 4?


144-36 = 108
square root of 108 is 10.39 untrained survivors


144-144= equal chance of either group winning
so 3 trained men will win against 12 untrained men if their kill rate is more than 4.

There are valuable lessons to be learned from this. First, sailors or soldiers should not be told why and how, just given orders that they must blindly carry out.  Imagine how it would feel to be on one of the sacrificial ships, one of the eight — deliberately sent to your death for the bigger picture. Hence: “England expects every man to do his duty”.  You need blind obedience to win battles.

Second, that kill rate is very important in evening up odds.  You can see why a Gattling gun gave such an advantage over traditional guns. Martial Arts experts and other training gives an edge.  If you have more weapons, or more speed, the advantage is obvious.

A mixture of both is sometimes used to great advantage — divide and conquer can reduce your casualties if the kill rate is available. It’s obvious really, if you are going to fight a man, kill rate is the factor.  If you are fighting two men, it’s evens if you have double their kill rate.  If you don’t you have to divide and conquer.

I covered this on a course I did back in the early 1980s, and it has informed me ever since; I appraise outcomes of movies, review action novels, games and films in the light of the ideas and wee calculations.  You know the difference if you get the division wrong, in Nelson’s case, victory depended on a margin of error of just one ship. Oh, it could all have ended so differently.

It certainly has assisted me in understanding the world around me, so I hope you get as much out of it as I have.




It must be something to do with getting old, but I don’t mind the accordion! I guess a lot of people would say that it was typically French — but that’s not how I see it.

Remember, I am Scottish — and I guess I have always taken the instrument first as the core of a traditional ceilidh (no, you don’t dance about to bagpipes)! Then I got into guaguancó and son for a while, and in my mind this extended the accordion to Latin America — Cuba,  Mexico, Argentina and the rest over there. Wonderful music!

It really was only after all this that I became conscious of the accordion in any European sense!   Even at that it probably began with Austrian or German Bier Keller music, and as far as I know, it was the Italians who brought it to Paris (just like they did with their cooking years before)!

I know my father was introduced to the button accordion by an Italian ex-Prisoner-of-War, and I spent a very long and rather wonderful summer in Paris a great many years ago — which is where I came across Bal-Musette for the first time.  Heck, I even busked and blagged with a band for nearly a month, doing weddings and baptisms.  But then again,  I have always been up for a challenge! LOL! Dangerous Dave indeed!

Anyway, cutting to the chase, I came across some Bal-Musette on youtube and HAD to share this wonderful music!

Now, come ON, isn’t that just sooo good.  Just be there — a warm evening, just after sunset and dinner with a good bottle of red… perfect music for families.  You can always hit the clubs for your raves later!



[Picture of Video cover of Irreversible]Irreversible is a French film with two prolonged scenes of physical violence (but no explosions or guns), it is a film about ethics — justification, retaliation, revenge, reacting to events.

If the story was told in the normal direction or timeline, it would not be the same nor would it be as effective; it is constantly asking YOU ‘what would you do if…’ and it makes you see a single event in different ways. Therefore, it is more about what YOU — the viewer — bring to the film than the simple enough story.

It is more about what YOU bring to witnessing an event than the event itself.

For example, you see the homosexual club and the violence — and you may think it is about homophobia. Later on you find out that they are acting in retaliation for a sexual assault, and that they were affected by strong drink and drugs — and powerful emotions (they couple had just argued, there was sexual tension in that one man was the boyfriend and the other was a visiting ex-boyfriend).

As the each piece of information is revealed — in reverse order, your views on what you have just seen have to alter.

You change your mind about the attack on the homosexual, you change your mind about the ex-boyfriend’s emotional involvement, and so on.

The film works on many levels too — it is called IRREVERSIBLE (despite being played in reverse). the reason it is not called REVERSIBLE is that each new piece of information switches the characters’ lives down a route – each of which is irreversible, life-changing, undo-able… and important.

The script seems as erratic as the camera movement at the beginning (to suit the panic and giddiness of the end-game), but as the film progresses, everything becomes steadier – throughout, though, every single word is carefully considered… even seemingly meaningless asides take on importance when the earlier scene is shown.

Basically, you are challenged to rethink the events shown – as you go, time and again. You may feel disgusted at the two main violent scenes, but you are forced to re-appraise these scenes continually, (they are of fundamental importance to the story which is why they are so prolonged) so what you felt at the time of first viewing is not what you feel at the end of the film – something which would have been impossible to do if the film was not played in the reverse-style format.

It is not for everyone, but it is actually worth watching this gruesome film as it really challenges you where you need challenged. Having said that, I FFWD’d through the violence (I don’t need to dwell to get the impact). People can be so ugly.  This film’s approach is refreshingly meaningful! Undo unto others…