here to take a view on Le Pen and the French).
The pond is tired and bored, and in view of the impending Fairfax paywall, has decided on some new editorial policies.
What's that? Editorial policies? Pretentious? Moi?
Well that's just a fancy pants way of saying the pond will stop linking to Fairfax stories, or at least the bilious hysterical Chicken Little 'sky is falling' outpourings of generally grumpy Paul Sheehan.
Why waste time on ratbags? Why spend too much time in room 237?
When last we caught sight of Sheehan, back on Thursday, he was acting as a wet sloppy sentimental shill for The Voice. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and there was music in the air. Hideous banal music, it's true, but music all the same.
True Sheehan wasn't to know that Oasis would win the JJJ top 100 with Wonderwall, or that Powderfinger came in a disappointing eighth and tenth, and hot favourite Gotye could only manage nine, while the Stones riff team The Verve placed fifth (and who on earth enabled Jeff Buckley at number three?). (Oh yes we could have given you a link to the Fairfax story, but instead of linking to the leeches, how about a link to triple J here?)
Sheehan could have mentioned that poor old Bernard Fanning now has his second solo album out in the marketplace (what's ARIA up to these days, here?) but as the pond noted back then, Sheehan has the middlebrow taste of a maiden Aunt. (Not that there's anything wrong with being a maiden aunt, or listening to Kamahl, just go to the outside toilet to do it, please).
Anyhow, anyone with a long memory will think back to the glory days of May 1968 and France and the de Gaulle administration being brought to virtual immobility as the result of student unrest and protests that spiralled into a wildcat general strike (as always, there's a wiki for you to walk down memory lane here).
At the time, there were chicken little conservative members of the commentariat running around announcing that the 'sky was falling down', and for a few moments there were a few wobbles, with de Gaulle on the run, but by the end of June, it was effectively over.
Once again the end of the world - devoutly wished for, bizarrely yearned for by the Sheehanites of the world - was postponed, at least in France ...
Never mind - nous sommes tous des marxistes - tendance Groucho - but it brings us to Sheehan this morning furiously scribbling Suicide a wake-up call for France and concluding his rabid fear-mongering diatribe thusly:
Another straw in the wind: the most famous citizen of France, Gerard Depardieu, has voted with his feet, away from the policies of President Hollande. He now resides in Belgium.
What to say, apart from noting the fatuous stupidity of this straw in the wind.
For starters, Depardieu is just an actor, and he's no more famous that Brigitte Bardot and her weird animal-loving ways, or the legendary Jean Reno (or Jeanne Moreau or Jean-Paul Belmondo or if we're getting solemn, Truffaut and Godard and Chabrol and ... well anyone really except Luc Besson who should end his days directing The Voice).
Never mind, the point is Depardieu, who is up himself in much the same way as Sheehan seems to be up him, is just an actor, who scored himself a Russian passport and bunged on a do because he didn't want to pay tax.
Now if that's a straw in the wind, don't take your shotgun into the Irish countryside, because at one time it was packed with showbiz refugees anxious to avoid their homeland taxes, and so took up residence, encouraged by Irish tax breaks.
But let's wind back to the beginning, to Sheehan's first straw in the wind:
It was a Tuesday afternoon, May 21, but the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was busy. About 1500 people were visiting or praying when a French historian, Dominique Venner, walked to the main altar, placed a sealed letter on the steps, then reached into a pocket for his gun.
Venner, a conservative ultra-nationalist who as a young man had been jailed for violence against Communists, was 78, ailing, and had come to the extreme conclusion that French civilisation was dying and being replaced by an ''Afro-Maghreb culture'' and would give way to sharia law. The former colonies were overrunning the republic. In his final message before leaving for the cathedral, he wrote on his internet blog: ''Peaceful street protests will not be enough to prevent it … It will require new, spectacular, and symbolic gestures to wake up the sleepwalkers, to shake the slumbering consciousness and to remind us of our origins … and rouse people from their complacency … We are entering a time when words must be backed up … by new, spectacular and symbolic actions.''
He had his own spectacular symbolic action in mind. His timing was prompted by the passage, the week before, of a law legalising gay marriage in France. Venner regarded this as a key element in the dismantling of French culture. He also regarded the immigration of millions of Muslims as a demographic and cultural disaster for France. And he saw white French culture as being overwhelmed by Americanism.
You know you're in the hands of a nutter when Americanism is the issue du jour. By all means make a joke, but blow out your brains ...?
What to do? Well of course Sheehan promptly ignores the idle chatter about Americanism, and instead choses to rabbit on about the vast threat Islamics pose to France, because ... well because that's the Sheehan Islamophobic way ...
As for the significance of the matter, what he's seizing on and exploiting is an ailing ultra-conservative loon who decided to blow his brains out ...
As a straw in the wind, that has as much resonance and meaning as the painful and futile death of Yukio Mishima by way of seppuku (naturally Mishima has his own wiki here) - another ultra-right wing nationalist who thought he'd stage a coup d'état but who instead ended his life in a pitiful way (was this where his dream of ritual suicide would eventually leave him?)
Now you can if you like read the rest of Sheehan's piece, but please note that it reveals a lot more about his own obsessions, fears and loathings than it does about France.
And remember it's the business of the conservative commentariat to stir up alarm, and everything is grist to that mill. Unemployment, recession, right wing extremists, left wing extremists, Muslim hordes, the Euro, and political violence - a couple of stabbings, and never mind that on an average weekend in Sydney streets and pubs, you could see that violence and double it ...
And naturally the penultimate capper to Sheehan's closing note on Gerard Depardieu fleeing to Belgium is ... seemingly unaware that British hit men go to Bruges after killing a kid while shooting a priest - oh wait that's just a movie and amazingly it didn't star Depardieu, how could they have resisted his vast talent ...
Let's start again, and naturally the penultimate capper to Gerard Deparieu fleeing to Belgium has to be ... da dah ... gay marriage:
The fraught nature of French politics explains why the campaign for gay marriage has been noticeably more volatile in France, with large hostile demonstrations and a suicide in Notre Dame Cathedral.
Now a sensible scribbler might have taken the time to note that anyone who thinks gay marriage and Americanism are the most serious problems facing France has to be in the grip of senility.
Sad, and with a sad futile pointless ending, without any resonance, and really without much in the way of general significance, as the rest of the world goes on about its business... unless you happen to be in the fear mongering business, in the manner of a Sheehan ...
Perhaps it says something about the virulent right-wing in France and its assorted phobias, a strain of wing nuttery that last had its fullest flowering during the days of Vichy ... and in those days, it wasn't a lone forlorn loon blowing his brains out in Notre-Dame, it was the French collaborating in the shipping of Jews to the gas chambers. It has always lurked in the eccentric French psyche, much as Stalin worship has never quite been eradicated ...
So where have we reached? Well until Sheehan decides to blow his brains out in St. Mary's cathedral, as a protest against gay marriage and Islam, the pond will just keep on keeping on ...
Second thoughts, no need for such extreme measures. He can just keep on watching and scribbling about The Voice, and senility will do its thing ...
(Below: madness takes many forms)