On France & French:

Le Figaro discusses the recent find of Ricin poison in the Paris subway system. The amounts were not sufficient, authorities helpfully tell us, to kill hundreds. Wonderful news.

My favorite line from this story: "[D]ocuments estampill�s al-Qaida et permettant de confectionner le poison mortel." French is an astonishing language to me, sometimes remarkably direct, sometimes equally dense. Probably the best part of it is the cognates with English, though, which produce an effect in the reader like no other language. Until today, I would never have put "confection" and "mortal poison" together; but now that they have, I am reminded of that scene in V. C. Andrew's _Flowers in the Attic_, which was required reading in a high school that would have done better to require Chaucer, wherein the children are poisoned by cookies topped with cyanide. Such are the benefits of language studies, I suppose: new ideas rise from the semantics alone. Usually the ideas are kinder.

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