Sushi in Las Vegas

Here in Las Vegas, Kathryn and I are staying with a grad-school buddy of mine who’s in town for an academic conference. The three of us went out for sushi last night at a Japanese restaurant called Sushi Takashi, located in Chinatown.

(Some people are surprised to learn Las Vegas has a Chinatown. It does, and it’s not insignificant.)

I’m not a big fan of sushi, but my wife is, and you can only say no to your spouse so many times before, in the interest of marital harmony, you relent and say yes. Since my buddy also likes sushi, now seemed an appropriate time.

Las Vegas has countless cheap all-you-can-eat sushi places, but the three of us agreed we wanted quality, not quantity. That said, the place we chose did have an attractively priced two-signature-roll combo special with several accompanying courses. All three of us ordered the combo, all with different signature rolls.

We all enjoyed the ambiance, the service, and the food, my buddy even going so far as to say it was some of the best sushi he’s ever had. For me, the problem was I reached my raw fish limit at the end of the first roll. When the second roll arrived, I had one bite and threw in the towel. Not a problem — between the two other diners at the table, the second roll didn’t go to waste.

I’d eat there again, but next time I think I’d order à la carte. Just one signature roll or possibly two smaller rolls would have been a year’s worth of sushi for me.

Fact check?

It’s election season, and I’ve recently been noticing an uptick in the number of mainstream media stories purporting to fact-check candidates’ statements from debates, rallies, advertisements, and so on.

Do you ever wonder who’s fact-checking the fact-checkers?

One of those fact-checkers is Bloomberg, whose website is where I yesterday stumbled across a story about populist parties in Europe. It caught my attention because it made an assertion I was fairly certain wasn’t true.

The first round of presidential voting will pit the primary winners against Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right National Front, and candidates from smaller parties. Polls show Ms Le Pen would win as much as 30 percent of the vote in April, enough to advance to a second round. But surveys show she’d lose a runoff to any mainstream candidate. In parliamentary elections in June, the party that wins the presidency is likely to gain enough seats to form a government. Despite Ms Le Pen’s popularity, the National Front holds no seats in the 577-member National Assembly and failed to gain control of any regional governments in elections last year.

The last sentence is the problem. It’s well known — even by a few of us here in the U.S. — that Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, niece of the same Marine Le Pen mentioned in the article, is a member of the France’s National Front party and is also a member of the National Assembly, representing a constituency in the Vaucluse department in the southeastern part of France. Even Sarah Palin knows who she is! So the assertion that “the National Front holds no seats in the 577-member National Assembly” is, at best, misleading.

It’s true the National Front doesn’t have enough members to form a caucus in the National Assembly. However, if two Green Party members were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and decided to caucus with the Democrats, would Bloomberg report the Green Party has no members in Congress?

I somewhat doubt it.

Oddly, the same Bloomberg website referred to Marion Maréchal-Le Pen as “a National Front lawmaker” as recently as a few months ago. How does Bloomberg suppose she makes laws without belonging to France’s main lawmaking body?

Perhaps they thought she had a pen and a phone.

For what it’s worth, I e-mailed Bloomberg’s news desk yesterday to alert them to the inaccuracy, but as of today I still haven’t heard back from them, and they still haven’t corrected or clarified the story. As far as I can tell at this point, they’re not interested in doing so.

So why did I single out this story?

First, I suspect the story was misleading by design. If Bloomberg can convince you populist candidates have little traction in Europe, perhaps they can convince you they have no future in the U.S. Flatly stating a party has no members in a national lawmaking body has far more impact than acknowledging it has two. In this case, the facts get in the way of maintaining the narrative.

To be perfectly honest, though, my main interest in this story is of Marion Maréchal-Le Pen herself. As politicians go, she’s rather easy on the eyes. It’s a shame Bloomberg slighted her.

Pizzeria Don Camillo, Montpellier

I once had a favorite pizza place in Montpellier, but it closed years ago. I also had a second favorite pizzeria, but it closed too. I didn’t have a third favorite, so I had to start all over again. Now, Kathryn and I have been to Don Camillo three times in the last two years, which means by default it’s my new favorite pizzeria in Montpellier. In fact, it was where we had the first dinner and, roughly two weeks later, the last dinner of our recent stay in Montpellier. Excellent wood-fired pizza, decent table wine, great ambiance, friendly service, and reasonable prices — what’s not to like? The fact that it was just a few steps from our apartment didn’t hurt either.

Pizzeria Don Camillo, Montpellier

Being Americans, we tend to arrive a tad early for dinner — 7:30 being early for dinner in the south of France, especially on a Saturday. But by the time I took this photo closer to 9:20, the restaurant was full of smiling faces, including a few families. In a university city like Montpellier where it’s easy to feel outnumbered by twenty-something-year-old students, seeing some silver hair among the other diners at Don Camillo made us feel like we were in an age-appropriate environment for a couple hours.

T.K. Maxx?

We recently spotted a T.K. Maxx storefront on a main shopping street in Trier, Germany.

T.K. Maxx, Trier, Germany

To those of us familiar with T.J. Maxx, it seemed like this was some sort of knockoff. However, according to Wikipedia, T.K. Maxx is affiliated with the T.J. Maxx brand in the United States. The name was changed in Europe to avoid confusion with a local retailer having T.J. in its name.

Delta missed connection in Minneapolis

We missed our connection in Minneapolis by minutes. It looks like our baggage didn’t make it either. Luckily there’s another flight to Phoenix in a couple hours. We had a confirmed reservation on the later flight before we even stepped off the flight from Paris, but unfortunately we no longer have assigned seats.