The trip to McCarthy

The trip to McCarthy
McCarthy is a couple of hundred miles east of Anchorage, on the way to the border with the Yukon territory of Canada. It is surrounded by one of the largest areas of wilderness in the world, where four of the great mountain ranges of North America collide. Nine of the highest peaks in the USA are there, surrounded by enormous glaciers, rivers and canyons, and teeming with seriously wild wildlife. McCarthy, old by Alaskan standards, dates from the first decade of the twentieth century, when it developed as a social hub for the copper mines at Kennicott, five miles away. When the mines closed it went into decline, and for a while became a ghost town. The current year-round population, depending on which source you consult, is somewhere between fourteen and twenty. There seems a good chance I’ll be able to meet them all, if only I can get there.
Unlike the other places I have been visiting, McCarthy has no known Irish connection. Something about it, though, is calling out. Hidden at the end of one of the loneliest roads on earth, the town seems the right place to end a journey that has been driven as much by instinct as by design, and which has paid me back with many happy accidents. So I’m going there because we share a name; and because, like most people, I’ve always fancied going to Alaska, because it’s big, scary and far away. But as well as all this, I also have a hunch. I didn’t have it when I first set out, but now I want to pursue it all the way to the end of the road.
“Aviation in itself is not dangerous, but like the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect,” says a sign on the wall of the hut. Outside on the airstrip a tiny red and yellow plane sits on its skis among the piles of snow, looking like a toy. This is how I will get to McCarthy, if the pilot ever comes back.
The guy in the hut says he’s gone into town to pick up some shopping. I’ve had a look inside the plane. There are two seats and sixteen cases of beer! I’ve hopped between tropical islands on these little bush planes, but I’ve never been on one in the kind of landscape we’ll be going through today. My afternoon departure time has already been put back twice when:
“Hi. I’m Kelly,” says a big, bearded, genial man who’s just walked into the hut. It’s straight out to the plane, door shut, headphones and seatbelt on, taxi what seems about fifteen yards along the runway, then we’re up in the air and heading directly towards those enormous snowy mountains. “This is real flying, eh?” says Kelly, as I nod and smile and try to come to terms with the worrying sensation of being airborne in this tiny machine.
We fly to the left of the mountain range that faces the airstrip, then on through a dreamscape of white peaks we can almost reach out and touch. Far below are frozen rivers and crystal glaciers glinting turquoise and emerald in the brilliant afternoon sun. Kelly’s skilful hand on the controls inspires confidence. We talk using headsets with microphones attached, looking like singers in a boy band. He’s good company and points out the different mountain ranges. As he sees me relax, however, his stories start to stray from what you want to be hearing when you’re hovering at this height:
“There was a forecast for some turbulence on the way back today, but looks like we might have missed it. My wife and I stopped overnight along the coast one time and we meant to carry on home the next day. The forecast was for extreme turbulence, but we thought we’d try anyway because sometimes those predictions are way out. Well, it was so wild up there . . .”
There’s a little electronic sign on the dashboard that says it’s only fifty miles to our destination, and now Kelly is pointing out of my wide window and tilting the plane, not to push me out, but to show me the McCarthy road. I can see where it skirts the edge of the glacier and the melting ice has made it impassable. As we’re rounding the glacier, hugging the side of the mountain, the winds suddenly hit. It’s seriously bumpy for the first time—but, like the man said, this is real flying, and he seems to be in control—and, against all my better instincts, I find myself wanting it to bump a little bit more as we swoop low over the first buildings we’ve seen since the hut at the airfield in Anchorage. McCarthy is just a handful of wooden houses. A little further on we sweep low past the deserted structures of the Kennicott mine. We bank steeply to our left over the glacier, and make a perfect landing on the McCarthy airstrip. Kelly turns off the engine, and I get out and listen to the most silent place I have ever heard.
Adapted from Advanced Placement English Tests. Macgraw Hill. 2008.

Instant recall

Jamie Livingston polaroid
I was idly flicking through blogs when I stumbled upon a website. It was a collection of polaroid photographs and gradually I began to realize that there was one for every day between March 1979 and October 1997. There was no way of telling who they belonged to, no commentary or captions, just the photos, arranged month by month like contact sheets. There was a sense, too, that I was not supposed to be there, browsing through these snaps of friends and family, of baseball games and picnics, but they were funny. There were pictures of things that did not exist any more as well as car parks and swimming-pools.
Slowly it became apparent whose collection it was – friends would come and go but one man regularly popped up over the 18 years documented, doing ordinary stuff like eating dinner or unusual things in faraway countries. In one picture he is proudly holding a skinned goat, in another he is on stilts. A lot of the time he looks serious while doing ridiculous things. During the 80s there are lots of pictures of him playing music with an avant-garde street performance outfit called Janus Circus. There are pictures of TV screens – ball games, Frank Zappa’s death, president Carter, Reagan and Clinton.
Then, in 1997, events take a dark turn. There are pictures of the photographer in hospital, then with a long scar across his head. He is gravely ill. For a short while his health appears to improve and he returns home. In October there is a picture of a ring, then two days later a wedding ceremony. But just a few weeks after that he is back in hospital with some friends from the early photos. On October 25 the series ends. The photographer has died.
Of course I was not alone in discovering this remarkable site. Since the end of May it has been passed from blog to blog across America. “The first I knew about it was when all my other websites started to closing down under the strain,” says New Yorker Hugh Crawford, who was responsible for putting his friend’s pictures on line after his death. “Initially it was not meant to be looked at by anyone. A group of us were putting on an exhibition of the photos and the site was a place where we could look at the pictures while we talked on the phone.”
The photographer’s name was Jamie Livingston. He was a film maker and editor who worked on public information films, adverts and promo videos for MTV. Taking a single photo every day began by accident when he was 22 and studying film with Crawford at Bart College, in upstate New York. “He’d been doing it for about a month before he realised he’d been taking a photo about one picture a day, and then he made the commitment to keep doing that,” says Crawford. “That’s what he was like. There are some people who have flashes of brilliance and do things in a huge rush or creative burst but he was more of a steady, keep-at-it kind of guy and he did amazing stuff. Part of the appeal of the site is that Jamie was not this amazing-looking guy. He led an incredible life, but there’s an every man quality to the photographs.”
There are a lot of visual jokes, funny shots and fluted self-portraits, but the plan was to take one picture and keep it no matter how it turned out. Once they found themselves walking with a circus of elephants through the heart of New York, late at night. Crawford turned to his friend and suggested this could be the picture of the day. “He was like, “No, I took a picture of my lunch, it’s already been taken,” laughs Crawford. […]
Only one mystery remains about Livingston’s life: “There’s one woman who appears a lot (in the earlier photographs) who seems to have been a girlfriend but no one knows who she is,” says Crawford, much of whose own life story is told within the pictures as well.
The more famous the pictures become, the more likely it is that one day he’ll find out.
© The Guardian 13.08.08

Drunk, and dangerous, at the keyboard

Drunk, and dangerous, at the keyboard
ANYONE who has spent more than a few minutes over the last couple of weeks trolling tech blogs or
cocktail lounges has probably heard about Mail Goggles, a new feature on Google’s Gmail program that is intended to help stamp out a scourge that few knew existed: late-night drunken e-mailing.
The experimental program requires any user who enables the function to perform five simple math problems in 60 seconds before sending e-mails between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. on weekends. That time frame apparently corresponds to the gap between cocktail No. 1 and cocktail No. 4, when tapping out an e-mail message to an ex or a co-worker can seem like the equivalent of bungee jumping without a cord.
Mail Goggles is not the first case of a technology developed to keep people from endangering themselves or others with the machinery of daily life after they have had a few. For years, judges have ordered drunken-driving offenders to install computerized breath-analyzers linked to their car’s ignition system to prevent them from starting their vehicles when intoxicated.
But as the first sobriety checkpoint on what used to be called the information superhighway, the Mail Goggles program also raises a larger question: In an age when so much of our routine communication is accomplished with our fingertips, are we becoming so tethered to our keyboards that we really need the technological equivalent of trigger locks on fire arms? In interviews with people who confessed to imbibing and typing at the same time the answer seems to be yes.
Kate Allen Stukenberg, a magazine editor in Houston, said that “the thing that is disappointing about Mail Goggles is that it’s only on Gmail,” because many people need cellphone protection, given the widespread practice of drunk text-messaging.
The Mail Goggles program itself was born of embarrassment. A Gmail engineer named Jon Perlow wrote the program after sending his share of regrettable late-night missives, including a plea to rekindle a relationship with an old girlfriend, he wrote on the company’s Gmail blog. “We’ve all been
there before, unfortunately,” said Jeremy Bailenson, director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. So-called drunk dialing may be as old as the telephone itself, but now, he said, the edge of the abyss is much closer in an era when so many people carry personal digital assistants containing hundreds of contact numbers — including clients, work adversaries and bosses — everywhere, including bars and parties.
And e-mail messages can be particularly potent because they constitute what social scientists call “asynchronous” communication, meaning that exchanges between people do not happen in real time, unlike face-to-face or telephone conversations. People can respond to work-related messages hours after they leave the office — a risky proposition if they happen to log on after stumbling home from happy hour.
The delay in response time means that people have lots of time to shape a response to achieve maximum impact, he said. “If you have eight hours of bar time to think of all the bad things you can come up with, this becomes uniquely damaging,” Dr. Bailenson said.
Text-based communication and alcohol are a potent mix in part because people already tend to be more candid online than they are in person, even before they loosen their inhibitions with a drink, said Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “Research suggests that for some people, the use of computers or other gadgets creates some emotional distancing from the person they are addressing,” Mr. Rainie said in an e-mail message. The distance, in other words, makes them feel safe — flirting becomes more flirtatious; insults become more insulting.
The latter was the case with one 23-year-old record producer in Manhattan who recalled a drunken text-message mishap on a recent trip to Syracuse University. The producer, who declined to be identified, said he had picked up an undergraduate woman while intoxicated and had accompanied her back to her apartment. But sitting in her kitchen at 4 a.m., he said, he started to have second thoughts. So while she was in the room, he tapped out a message to a friend’s iPhone: “Eww Saratoga, what am I thinking? I can def. do better than this ... can you drive my car and get me out of here?” Seconds later, her telephone buzzed. He had accidentally sent the message to her, not his friend, the producer said. Months later, after a few more romantic misadventures with her, “We had a long talk and I apologized,” he said. “I now write songs about getting my life together.”
Adapted from © New York Times, 2008.

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver The Naked Chef
I was born in 1975 and straight into the business. My dad ran a lovely pub-restaurant, in Clavering, Essex. I remember it was a cool place, everyone worked together to make that lovely food and laughed while doing it.
By the time I was 11, I wasn't bad at preparing the meals. Many boys at school thought that cooking was a girl's thing. I didn't really care, as I could buy the coolest trainers with the money I earned from working at the weekend.
When I was 16, I didn't really have the results to continue at school and I knew by then that I wanted to be a chef. So I went to Westminster Catering College and then spent some time in France, learning as much as I could, before coming back to London to work as Head Pastry Chef for Antonio Carluccio at The Neal Street Restaurant where I worked for five years.
It was there that I first got in front of a TV camera. A documentary about the restaurant was being filmed and the editors decided to show a friendly man who really liked cooking. The day after the programme was shown; I got calls from five different production companies to talk about a possible show.
The result was “The Naked Chef” programme and that's where it all started. Right now I've never been busier in my life! The only thing is that I would like to have more time for my family - my three lovely girls.


Twilight - Stephanie Meyer
Stephenie Meyer was born on 24th December 1973 in Connecticut. This American author, who is known for her vampire romance series, grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and was one of six children. She met her husband, Christian in high school, but they did not marry until after she graduated from Brigham Young University. They have three sons. Her husband has now retired to take care of the children. She is Mormon.
During one mad summer, while her husband and three young boys slept, Stephenie Meyer wrote a mountain of pages about a romance between a smart 17-year-old girl and a handsome vampire. In 2005, she published her first book, Twilight. Following the success of Twilight (2005), Meyer expanded the story into a series with three more books: New Moon (2006), Eclipse (2007), and Breaking Dawn (2008). The Twilight novels have gained worldwide recognition, won multiple literary awards and sold over 85 million copies worldwide, with translations into 37 different languages around the globe. Meyer is also the author of the adult science-fiction novel The Host.
In August 2009 USA Today revealed that Meyer broke JK Rowling's record on their bestseller list. The four Twilight books have spent 52 weeks on the top 10.The books have also spent more than 102 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List.
(219 words)

The boy in the striped pyjamas

The boy in the striped pyjamas
On Christmas Day Father wore his brand-new uniform, the starched and pressed one that he wore every day now, and the whole family applauded when he first appeared in it. It really was something special. Compared to the other soldiers who came in and out of the house, he stood out, and they seemed to respect him all the more now that he had it. Mother went up to him and kissed him on the cheek and ran a hand across the front of it, commenting on how fine she thought the fabric was. Bruno was particularly impressed by all the decorations on the uniform and he had been allowed to wear the cap for a short period, provided his hands were clean when he put it on.
The boy in the striped pyjamas by John Boyne

Boris’ Söhne lernten ihre Schwester kennen

Boris Becker Familie
Zum 1. Mal spricht unser Tennisheld über seine Groß-Familie

Wir sehen einen Bilderbogen voller Liebe, Glück und Zärtlichkeit. Der Mann im Mittelpunkt ist Boris Becker (38). In seinem früheren Leben als Nummer eins der Tennis-Welt ein Einzel-Spieler. In seinem heutigen Leben als Familien-Vorstand ein Team-Player.

Boris, der Super-Daddy. Er hat immer gesagt: „Ich habe viele Schwächen, aber auch ein paar Stärken. Und dazu gehört ganz klar die Vater-Rolle..“
Zum ersten Mal hat sich jetzt die kunterbunte Becker-Familie unter einem Dachgetroffen. „Weil es mir wichtig war, daß meine Söhne endlich ihre Schwester kennenlernen.“
Die Söhne sind Noah (11) und Elias (6) aus Boris‘ Ehe mit Barbara (38). Sie leben seit fünf Jahren in Miami (Florida). Die Tochter ist Anna (5), die mit ihrer Mutter Angela Ermakova (37) in London zuhause ist.
Und dann gibt es da ja seit ein paar Wochen auch noch Lilly (29). Boris‘ neue Freundin. Auch sie gehört jetzt sozusagen mit zur Familie. Schmust zärtlich in der Öffentlichkeit mit Boris. Nimmt die süße Anna an die Hand. Obwohl sie die Kleine auch erst jetzt in Miami gerade kennen gelernt hat. Boris aber hat seinen Freunden verraten: „Kinder lassen sich nichts vormachen. Sie spüren schnell, ob ein Mensch ihnen nur etwas vorspielt oder wirklich liebevoll ist.“
Und so kam es, nach über einem Jahr Planung und Gesprächen mit allen Beteiligten, jetzt in Miami zum freundlichen Showdown.
„Natürlich haben sich die drei Kinder zunächst nur erstaunt angeguckt“, erzählte Boris später. „Aber dann ist Noah gleich in seiner Rolle als großer Bruder aufgegangen und hat Anna und Elias eingefangen.“
Was dann folgte, war, so berichtete Boris, „wie in jeder anderen Familie auch.“ Es wurde zusammen gegessen, gespielt, getobt, gelacht. Eine ganze Woche lang.

Gestern abend flog Anna heim nach London. Zurück blieb die Hoffnung, daß die Patchwork-Familie noch enger zusammenwächst.


Scotland - Scottish independence
Scotland has not always been a part of the United Kingdom. The Scottish people had their own royal family and fought the English for centuries. In 1603, King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England and Scotland. He moved to London and this ended Scottish independence.
In 1707, Scotland formally became part of the UK when the government of Scotland moved to Westminster, in London. Scotland managed to keep its own legal and education systems. Scotland still has different marriage laws to England. Young couples in England must have their parents’ consent to get married if they are under 18, but in Scotland they can get married at the age of 16 without their parents’ consent.
In 1999, a referendum gave new powers to Scotland so the Parliament of Scotland was established under the supervision of the UK. Today, about 55 per cent of Scottish citizens want Scotland to be completely independent. In fact, in 2014 there will be a referendum to decide if they want to become independent from the UK.

La poubelle, objet du XXIe siècle

La poubelle, objet du XXIe siècle: Salon de l'Environnement
Méprisée, cachée, reléguée dans un coin, la poubelle est pourtant d'une nécessité indiscutable. Les chiffres sont d'ailleurs là pour l’attester. En France, on en compte en moyenne quatre par foyer. Près de cent millions de paquets de sacs-poubelle sont vendus chaque année pour un chiffre d'affaires de 1.150 milliard de francs. Chacun de nous produit environ 350 kilos de déchets par an. Un record historique qui inscrira assurément l'homme du XXIe siècle pour le titre peu reluisant d’"Homo détritus".
Pas étonnant qu'aujourd'hui de très sérieux organismes se penchent* sur l'art et la manière d'utiliser ce vil objet. L'État est le premier à montrer l'exemple. Les écologistes, appelant à utiliser des produits recyclables, s'engagent à jeter intelligemment afin de protéger l'environnement. Certaines municipalités, conscientes que « mieux on trie*, moins on paie», développent une politique active de gestion des déchets.
De même, des initiatives privées se multiplient à l'échelon national. C'est le cas de l'opération Robin des Briques, qui se charge depuis 1994 de collecter les briques alimentaires (qui ont contenu lait, jus de fruits, etc.) dans les écoles; elle a pour vocation de sensibiliser les enfants et leurs parents aux problèmes de l'environnement. Car sachez-le, le tri et le recyclage dorment des résultats surprenants: un coup de baguette magique et vingt-cinq bouteilles en plastique se transforment en un pull polaire, un bidon de produit d'entretien se métamorphose en peinture de sol, etc. Pour certains, la récup* est aussi une source d'inspiration, comme les artistes de la galerie Artkrat, qui exposeront leurs œuvres au prochain Salon de l’Environnement.
D'après Marie Tourres avec Myriam André

Visite Évora

Visite Évora

Como chegar

A Região de Évora é atravessada no sentido transversal pela auto-estrada Lisboa-Madrid (A6).
Longitudinalmente, o IP2 une as capitais de distrito do Alentejo interior (Beja, Évora e Portalegre) ao Algarve e à Beira Baixa.
Vindo do Norte pela A1 Porto-Lisboa, entra-se na Região tomando a saída para Santarém e seguindo a direcção A13. Esta auto-estrada entronca na A6 entre Marateca e Vendas Novas.
Vindo do Algarve, quem optar pela A2 (Faro-Lisboa) encontra a mesma A6 na Marateca.
Vindo de Espanha, pode entrar-se na Região por Elvas (A6) e por S. Leonardo (junto a Mourão / Alqueva).
Quem não se desloca em transporte próprio, tem à disposição a Rede Nacional de Expressos, com carreiras regulares para Évora a partir de qualquer ponto do país ( e as vias férreas que ligam Faro e Lisboa à cidade de Évora (
A circulação na Região é simples. As estradas secundárias e municipais constituem, por si só, percursos de descoberta com trânsito relativamente reduzido e excelentes vistas panorâmicas.
Quem pretender visitar a Região em autonomia mas não tem transporte próprio, pode recorrer aos Carros de Aluguer (identificados com a letra A nas portas laterais), aos Táxis e aos Rent-a-Car. Na cidade de Évora existe uma “Linha Azul”, serviço de autocarro que circula pelos principais locais da cidade.
Existem carreiras regulares de autocarro que ligam diariamente as várias localidades da Região. Os seus horários estão adaptados às necessidades laborais e escolares dos residentes, pelo que a sua utilização com objectivos turísticos nem sempre é fácil, sobretudo quando se pretende uma pequena viagem de ida e volta no mesmo dia.


Onde ficar

A diversidade da oferta é uma das características do alojamento na Região mas, ao contrário do que sucedia há uns anos atrás, a informação é abundante e bastante detalhada.
Hoje, pode visitar através da net as Pousadas Históricas, belos hotéis conventuais de 4 e 5 estrelas ou requintados hotéis rurais; apreciar a qualidade de outras unidades de hotelaria tradicional, de pequena e média dimensão; sentir o acolhimento familiar e a tranquilidade das casas de Turismo em Espaço Rural; ou ver por dentro o ambiente dos Parques de Campismo.
Todas as unidades de alojamento servem pequenos almoços. Quando não dispõem de serviço de restaurante, nomeadamente no caso do Turismo em Espaço Rural, por vezes servem as refeições principais mediante solicitação prévia.


Onde comer

Se utilizar critérios como a importância atribuída à decoração e ao conforto, o profissionalismo do atendimento, a variedade da ementa, a qualidade da confecção, o apuro das chamadas “especialidades da casa” ou a generosidade da carta de vinhos, verificará que existem na Região restaurantes de todas as categorias, para todos os gostos e, também, para todas as bolsas.
Ainda há “tascas” genuínas onde se come muito bem.
Há restaurantes médios, bons e muito bons, uns com a chamada “cozinha honesta”, outros com rasgos de génio em alguns pratos.
E há restaurantes de topo de gama: de abertura relativamente recente ou já muito testados pelo tempo; de uma extrema fidelidade à gastronomia regional ou com propostas de recriação “gourmet” da tradição, sempre com base nos melhores produtos locais.
Se não puder ou não quiser deleitar-se todos os dias com a boa gastronomia alentejana, saiba que tem outras opções: cafetarias com serviço de refeições ligeiras, casas especializadas em sanduíches e saladas e boas pastelarias para lanchar.
Só tem que ter cuidado com as horas: quase todas as cozinhas dos restaurantes fecham às 22h e são poucas as excepções que confirmam a regra.
Fora de horas, pode contar com serviço de snack em algumas cafetarias, bares e discotecas.


É útil saber

Se tiver algum problema de saúde durante a sua estadia na Região de Évora, recorra aos Centros de Saúde, existentes em todas as sedes de concelho, ou ao Hospital de Évora, com serviços de urgência 24 horas por dia.
Se é cidadão da União Europeia, da Islândia, Liechtenstein, Noruega ou Suíça, e é beneficiário de um sistema de segurança social no seu país, faça-se acompanhar do Cartão Europeu de Seguro de Doença. Este cartão assegura-lhe a prestação de cuidados de saúde nos serviços oficiais e/ou convencionados, sendo-lhe cobradas apenas as taxas e/ou comparticipações em vigor para os cidadãos nacionais.
Adaptado de:

Paare in getrennten betten

Paare in getrennten betten
Getrennte Schlafzimmer als Zeichen einer ermüdeten Beziehung?


Neulich war ich bei einem Abendessen mit Freunden. Die Frage "Schlaft ihr eigentlich noch in einem Bett?" kam dort ungefähr so an, als hätte man sich nach deren letzten „One-Night-Stand“ (=einmalige außereheliche Beziehung) erkundigt.
Die Schlafzimmerfrage scheint also einiges über unser Verständnis von Liebe zu erzählen; als seien unsere Schlafgewohnheiten so etwas wie ein Spiegel der Beziehung. Nach dem Motto: Nur wer besonders dicht aneinandergekuschelt die Nacht verbringt, kann sich besonders lieb haben. Für viele folgt getrennten Schlafzimmern bald die sichere Scheidung.
Nun kennt die nächtliche Innigkeit viele Nuancen. Das beginnt mit Alltäglichkeiten wie mit der Entscheidung für oder gegen einen Schlafanzug. Oder der Bettzeugfrage. Die Deutschen scheinen zum Beispiel ihr Federbett so ungern zu teilen wie ihr Kopfkissen. Jeder schläft am liebsten für sich allein unter der warmen Decke.
Honoré de Balzac konnte sich nichts Romantischeres als das weltberühmte französische „Grand lit“ (= Ehebett) vorstellen. Schon aus liebestechnischen Gründen riet er Paaren unbedingt zum ritzefreien Doppelbett. Die zwei getrennten Einzelbetten waren für ihn Liebestöter. Auf der anderen Seite des Atlantiks wurden die Zwillingsbetten ein Jahrhundert später sogar Staatsangelegenheit. Das US-Familien-Ministerium machte die Singlebetten für die steigenden Scheidungsraten verantwortlich.
Allerdings gibt es inzwischen für jedes Verhalten auch schon wieder eine eigene Studie. So findet Paul Rosenblatt von der Universität in Minnesota, dass die gelebte Intimität des gemeinsamen Schlafens eine zivilisatorische Errungenschaft sei – die warm hält, das Sexualleben fördert und in Notfällen wie Diabetesschock oder Herzinfarkt sogar lebensrettend sein kann.
Quelle: Der Tagesspiegel, Nora Sobich, 23.11.2010 (verkürzt)

Egypt travel guide

Egypt travel guide: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business & staying in touch

Courtesy and hospitality are important when doing business in Egypt. The host of a business meeting will usually offer tea or a small snack before commencing. It’s polite to refuse the first offer, but once the host insists, the guest should then accept. Alcohol is legal, but should be avoided until visitors know their Egyptian colleague's attitude towards drinking, and, if acceptable, should be drunk in moderation. It is not considered suitable for women to over-indulge in alcohol. If invited to a business lunch, expect food to be lavish and plentiful.
Throughout the Arab world, it is considered bad manners either to display anger or to openly criticize another person in public. Tact and diplomacy are always required. In social life, punctuality is almost laughable. For business, visitors should be on time but expect locals to be often late, and do not take offence. Men should not offer to shake a woman's hand, and vice versa, unless clearly invited to do so. Men and women should dress smartly for business meetings – suits and tie for men; suit for women or smart trousers/skirt/jacket – and always dress modestly. Shoulders and knees should never be shown.


On taking power in 1970, Anwar al-Sadat introduced a policy of infitah (openness) towards investment. Egypt's economy underwent rapid growth during the 1970s with the quick expansion of the oil industry, tourism and the Suez Canal, and it has continued to expand in subsequent decades.
The tourist sector is expanding rapidly, particularly along the Red Sea and Mediterranean coasts, despite sporadic terrorist activities of Islamic fundamentalists. Agriculture, which relies on irrigation from the Nile, employs one-third of the working population. Foreign aid, especially from the USA, is an important source of government funds.


There are internet cafés in the main cities, including Cairo, Alexandria, Dahab and Luxor. Even small, more remote towns including Siwa will have at least one venue, usually in the market area. Connection is usually reliable. Tourists can also access the Internet in hotels, with in-room Wi-Fi available, though often at a costly price.


The Egyptian press is one of the most influential and widely read in the region, while Egyptian TV and the film industry supplies much of the Arab-speaking world with shows from its Media Production City. Press freedom is encouraged. Press laws which allow prison sentences for libel have encouraged self-censorship on sensitive issues.

Textauszug aus dem Tagebuch der Anne Frank

Tagebuch der Anne Frank
A Samstag, 20. Juni 1942
Liebe Kitty!
Zuerst will ich meine Lebensgeschichte erzählen.
Als meine Eltern heirateten, war mein Vater 36, meine Mutter 25 Jahre alt. Meine Schwester Margot ist im Jahre 1926 in Frankfurt am Main geboren.
Am 12. Juni 1929 bin ich dort geboren. Da wir Juden sind, emigrierten wir im Jahre 1933 nach Holland. Dort wurde mein Vater Direktor der Firma Travis A.-G. Die Travis A.-G. arbeitete eng mit der Firma Kolen u. Co. in demselben Gebäude zusammen.
Unsere Familienmitglieder, die in Deutschland zurückgeblieben waren, wurden von den Hitler-Faschisten verfolgt. 1938 flüchteten die beiden Brüder meiner Mutter nach Amerika. Meine Großmutter kam zu uns. Sie war damals 73 Jahre alt. Nach 1940 kamen für uns schlechtere Zeiten.
Erst kam der Krieg, dann zogen die Deutschen in Holland ein. Sie erließen immer neue Gesetze und für die Juden wurde es besonders schlimm. Sie mussten den Stern an der Kleidung tragen, sie mussten ihre Fahrräder abgeben, sie durften nicht mehr mit der Straßenbahn fahren, mit dem Auto schon gar nicht. Juden durften nur von 3 bis 5 Uhr einkaufen....

B Sonntag, 11. Juli 1943
Liebe Kitty!
Ich bin in der letzten Zeit sehr kurzsichtig geworden und brauche eine Brille (dann sehe ich bestimmt wie eine Eule aus). (...) Mutter wollte mich zum Augenarzt schicken.
Mir war richtig schwindlig: Auf die Straße! Zuerst hatte ich richtige Angst, doch dann freute ich mich. Aber so einfach ist das nicht. Alle Gefahren und Schwierigkeiten mussten überlegt werden. Ich bin neugierig, ob ich noch zum Doktor gehen soll. Ich glaube es nicht ...
Miep schleppt sich für uns ab, sie ist ein richtiger Packesel! Fast täglich kauft sie irgendwo Gemüse und bringt es in großen Einkaufstaschen auf ihrem Fahrrad zu uns. An jedem Sonnabend bringt sie auch immer fünf neue Bibliotheksbücher mit. Deshalb freuen wir uns schon immer auf den Sonnabend. Andere Menschen wissen gar nicht, wie wichtig Bücher für uns Eingeschlossene sind.

C Freitag, 23. Juli 1943
Liebe Kitty!
Heute will ich Dir erzählen, was jeder zuerst machen will, wenn wir wieder frei sind.
Margot und Herr van Daan wünschen sich zuerst ein heißes Bad. Die Wanne soll bis oben voll Wasser sein und mindestens eine halbe Stunde wollen sie in der Wanne liegen. Frau van Daan will am liebsten gleich in eine Konditorei gehen und viel Torte essen. Herr Dussel freut sich auf das Wiedersehen mit seiner Frau, Mutter will so gerne eine Tasse Kaffee trinken. Vater besucht zuerst Herrn Vossen, Peter geht gleich in die Stadt ins Kino. Und ich??? Ich würde vor Freude gar nicht wissen, was ich zuerst machen soll.
Am meisten wünsche ich mir, dass wir wieder in der eigenen Wohnung sind. Dort können wir dann tun und lassen, was wir wollen.

D Dienstag, 6. Juni 1944
Liebe Kitty!
Die Invasion hat begonnen. Morgens um 8 Uhr sagte das englische Radio: Bombenabwürfe auf Calais, Boulogne, Le Havre und Cherbourg.
Englische Radiosendung mittags 1 Uhr: 11 000 Flugzeuge stehen bereit und fliegen unaufhörlich hin und her, um Truppen zu bringen und Bomben abzuwerfen. 4 000 Landungsfahrzeuge und kleine Schiffe bringen zwischen Cherbourg und Le Havre Truppen und Material an Land. Englische und amerikanische Truppen kämpfen gegen die Deutschen. Soll denn nun wirklich die langersehnte Befreiung kommen? Wird uns das Jahr 1944 den Sieg bringen? Wir wissen es noch nicht, aber die Hoffnung belebt uns, gibt uns wieder Mut, macht uns wieder stark.
Ich bin sehr vergnügt – vielleicht sitze ich im Oktober wieder auf der Schulbank. Aber ich will nicht voreilig sein.

Fuente: Anne Frank Tagebuch. Fassung von Otto H. Frank und Mirjam Pressler. 
Aus dem Niederländischen von Mirjam Pressler. 
Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuchverlag 1992.

The Jane Austen Centre

The Jane Austen Centre
Welcome to Jane Austen Centre. The focus of this exhibition is Jane Austen’s five years living and socialising in Bath – the places she lived in and visited. We hope you enjoy your visit.
The Jane Austen Centre in Bath at No. 40 Gay Street is a house very similar to No. 25, where Jane Austen lived for a few months following her father’s death. These Georgian town houses in Gay Street were built between 1735 and 1760.
The houses are alike in design, although this house had a large extension added, during the 20th century, which covers the whole of the garden. It is in this space that the permanent exhibition is placed.
Within the exhibition are displayed a number of hand-made reproduction period costumes, which have been created using authentic fabrics, in colours contemporary with the period.
Refresh yourself during and after your visit at our Tea Rooms and enjoy a pot of real leaf tea, some home-made cakes or a delicious light snack.
The Centre Giftshop is a treasure of Jane Austen – related gifts, some specially designed for, exclusive to, the Centre. There is a range of writing paper, pens, post cards and high-quality reproduction cards. We have a comprehensive stock of books about Jane Austen, her life, her family and times.

Ministers who justify state snooping might now learn that the biters can be bit

News of the World scandal - Banksy
Every journalist knows that breaking the law is inexcusable - except, of course, where there is an excuse. As a general rule, what I write, however obtained, is in the public interest. What you write is money-grubbing prurience. Now what was that juicy story you told me the other day?
The News of the World scandal is in danger of submerging the body politic in a wave of hypocrisy. The paper did what some newspapers have long done, which is scrape the dustbin of gossip in whic lurks the fame of all public figures. Aided by electronic surveillance, journalists use private detectives, hackers, oddballs and dodgy policemen to dig the dirt on behalf of their readers and shareholders. They usually pay money, even if this is not allowed.
Sometimes, as with the Daily Telegraph on MPs' expenses, we are served copper-bottomed sensation. Although the scoop was allegedly based on payments for theft, the world cheered the "public interest". Other times, as with the (Princess) Dianagate tapes, salacious material is uncovered with no shred of public interest but which no amount of self-restraint could keep from the public eye. In the case of the News of the World, the ease with which mobile phones can be eavesdropped on supplied a mountain of celebrity gossip.
Human Rights law may offer "a right to respect for private and family life, home and conversation", but this is merely a pious hope. When a cloud of secret range-finders can hover over the mobile phones of the stars, policing is near impossible. Hackers can squat in caravans or attics, equipped from any backstreet store. The News of the World gained access to thousands of phone messages. These could as easily have been posted on the web.
Although the police have decided to take no further action, the case raises intriguing but tangential issues. It is implausible for the former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, to plead that he did not know what was going on. No editor would be left in the dark about the costly source of such scoops. Even a remark that "I would rather not know" admits responsibility.
When a member of the paper's staff, Clive Goodman, went to jail in 2007 for a hacking offence, a parliamentary committee was told that he was a “rotten apple” and an isolated case. We now learn that Coulson’s staff had access to thousands of mobile phone records, all illegally obtained and currently in the hands of the police.
The paper then lavishly paid off some of its victims on condition of confidentiality, while the police (and Crown Prosecution Service) agreed to turn a blind eye. They neither pursued other offences by News of the World reporters nor informed those whose private lives they knew to have been compromised. The police appeared to collude in a massive breach of privacy.
The much-vaunted framework of parliamentary oversight and media self-regulation was also left looking idiotic. We have been told for 18 years that the presence of working editors on the voluntary Press Complaints Commission brings a weight of expertise and judgement to its decisions. This is selfserving rubbish, trotted out by successive PCC chairmen who enjoy cavorting with the barons of media power.
The case for non-statutory regulation of the press remains strong, but depends heavily on that regulation being scrupulous and outspoken, as it largely was under the old Press Council with its vigorous chairmen. The present Press Complaints Commission claims to work its magic "behind the scenes". It works no magic. It is dead.
None of this impinges on the central issue of the News of the World case, that chaos now surrounds the confidentiality of electronic data in Britain. That law-breaking now depends wholly on the “robustness” of an excuse is hopeless. Most people accepted that the Telegraph was justified in using stolen information to reveal details of MPs’ expenses. But the argument was tested neither in the courts nor before the PCC. It was granted by acclamation.
© Simon Jenkins “The Guardian”, 10th July 2009

It's all about me

The Culture of Fear - Frank Furedi
It used to be that only oppressed minorities had the right to lay claim to victim status, but not any more: it seems that anyone and everyone can be a victim now. Forget the Oppression Olympics, the pointless debate over which identity group suffers the most discrimination; these days, as Frank Furedi noted in The Culture of Fear: "We are all expected to compete, like guests on a television programme, to prove that we are the most put-upon and pathetic people in the house, the most deserving of counselling and compensation."
It was Margaret Thatcher who inadvertently provided the catalyst for all this navel-gazing and selfobsession when she infamously pronounced that there is "no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first." Since then it's all been about "me me me"; not even 11 years of a Labour government have managed to halt our increasing narcissism or inject any sense of collectivism back into the national psyche.
Bookshop shelves groan with the weight of self-help manuals, designed to pander to and heal just about every psychic and emotional stress known to humankind, while misery lit (or misery porn as it's more accurately known) is fast outselling any other genre.
As writers scribe in unflinching detail their stories of brutalised childhoods, and of their survivals against all the odds, we lap up these tales of woe and clamour for more. Narratives that were meant to inspire and empower us with their messages of triumph over adversity serve instead as fodder for our most voyeuristic tendencies; it's starting to feel like there's an incredibly tasteless competition on to find the poor sod who has had the most miserable childhood in the history of the world, ever.
But as Libby Brooks observed recently in her excellent piece on the debate about rape: "Creating a hierarchy of victimhood helps no one." I couldn't agree more.
Even those with all the advantages aren't exempt from all this wallowing and internal reflection.
Born with a silver spoon in your mouth and sent to all the best schools? Don't worry, there's a support group out there for you somewhere. Think you've always been happy and never wanted for anything? Well think again. No one gets through life unscathed: you're probably in denial and need a good dose of therapy to find out whatever it is you're repressing.
What's really lacking in all of this introspection is any sense of the bigger picture. These personal histories stand alone, testament to the individualism that has permeated every aspect of 21stcentury life. Rather than examining and critiquing our social conditions, we're encouraged instead to look inwards, to heal ourselves and rid ourselves of any demons we may have picked up along the way. As a consequence of this we're failing to make those vital connections between our personal experiences and how our lives have been shaped by forces beyond our individual control.
But "the personal is political" was not just some trite feminist slogan dreamed up to help bored housewives make sense of their lot. As Carol Hanisch said in her essay of the same name: "personal problems are political problems. There are no personal solutions at this time. There is only collective action for a collective solution." Isn't it about time we started to embrace that kind of thinking again?
The discriminations and prejudices I've encountered in my life are not because I'm me, Cath Elliott: they're a direct result of the gender and social class I was born into. Counselling, self-help books or holistic therapies might make me better able to deal with what life has thrown or has yet to throw at me, but it won't do anything to change the external conditions that impact negatively on me and mine.
So, the choice is ours. We can either continue to wallow in our victimhood, fighting to outdo each other with our tales of oppression and woe, and attempting to heal our lives in splendid isolation, or we can learn once again to recognise our shared experiences and start to fight together for change. We're only victims if we choose to be so. Personally I reject the label: I'd advise everyone else to do the same.
Adapted from The Guardian

Fish and chips

Fish and chips
"Fish and chips" is deep‐fried fish in batter with deep‐fried potatoes, and a popular take‐away food.
Fish and chips is originally from the United Kingdom, but also very popular in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and some coastal towns of the Netherlands and Norway.
For decades it was the dominant (if not the only) take‐away food in the United Kingdom. The fried potatoes are called chips in British and international usage; and while American English calls them french fries, the combination is still called "fish and chips".
Fish and chips have separately been eaten for many years –though the potato was not introduced to Europe until the 17th century. The originally Sephardi dish Pescado frito came to Netherlands and Englan with the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in the 17th and 18th centuries. This fried fish became popular in London and the south‐east in the middle of the 19th century, while in the North of England an industry of deep‐fried "chipped" potatoes developed.
It is unclear when and where these two products came together to become the fish and chip shop industry we know today. The first combined fish and chip shop was probably the one opened in London by Joseph Malin in 1860. 
During World War II, fish and chips were one of the few foods that were not rationed in the UK.

James Cameron et son film « Avatar »

James Cameron et son film « Avatar »
Avatar, c’est le dernier film du réalisateur James Cameron et le plus cher de l’histoire du cinéma.
James Cameron est né au Canada mais il fait ses études à l’Université de Californie. Il a aimé toujours le cinéma mais il travaille au commencement comme mécanicien et conducteur de camions. Nous savons qu’il s’est marié cinq fois et qu’il a trois enfants. Avant de tourner Avatar, il a réalisé des films bien connus comme Terminator, Rambo II, Abyss ou Titanic. Films de grand succès.
Avatar sort en décembre 2009, mais James Cameron a travaillé dans le projet pendant quatorze ans.
Avatar c’est un film d’aventure et science fiction, mais le plus important c’est que le film est tourné en 3 dimensions, avec des effets spéciaux magnifiques, grâce aux technologies modernes.
On peut voir le film dans toutes les salles de cinéma du monde, mais il y en beaucoup qui ne sont pas encore équipés pour le voir en 3 dimensions.
Avec Titanic, qui a gagné 11 Oscars et le grand succès d’Avatar, James Cameron devient le réalisateur le plus rentable de l´histoire du cinéma devant Steven Spielberg.

Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren und Pippy Langstrumpf
Astrid Lindgren gehört zu den bekanntesten Kinderbuchautoren der Welt und würde dieses Jahr ihren 100. Geburtstag feiern. Die Abenteuer von Pippi Langstrumpf, Michel aus Lönneberga oder den Kindern aus Bullerbü sind nur ein kleiner Teil ihrer Geschichten, die sie erfunden hat. Am 14. November ist es genau 100 Jahre her, dass Astrid Lindgren geboren wurde. 

Gelebt wie die Kinder aus Bullerbü

Astrid Anna Emilia Ericsson kam auf dem Hof Näs in der Nähe des schwedischen Orts Vimmerby zur Welt und wuchs dort mit ihren drei Geschwistern Gunnar, Stina und Ingegerd auf. Sie hatte eine tolle Kindheit. Dadurch wurden auch die vielen Geschichten beeinflusst, die sie erfunden hat. Genauso wie die Kinder aus Bullerbü wohnte Astrid Lindgren auf dem Land, umgeben von grünen Wiesen und Tieren.

Astrid Lindgren hat sich ihr ganzes Leben sehr für den Umweltschutz eingesetzt. Zu ihrem 80. Geburtstag bekam sie von einem schwedischen Minister sogar ein "Tierschutzgesetz" geschenkt. Sie hatte erreicht, dass sich die Menschen besser um die Tiere und deren Haltung kümmern. Im Jahr 2002 ist Astrid Lindgren im Alter von 94 Jahren in Stockholm gestorben.


Große Feiern zum Geburtstag

Seit diesem Zeitpunkt verleiht die schwedische Regierung jedes Jahr den Astrid-Lindgren-Gedächtnis-Preis. Das ist die größte Auszeichnung für Kinder- und Jugendliteratur auf der ganzen Welt. Zum 100. Geburtstag wird in vielen Ländern das Astrid-Lindgren-Jahr gefeiert. Es werden in Buchhandlungen und im Radio Lesefeste und Radionächte veranstaltet und die schönsten Filme im Fernsehen gezeigt. In Deutschland gibt es sogar eine Sonderbriefmarke.

La basilica di San Zeno

La basilica di San Zeno
La basilica di San Zeno è senza dubbio una delle più belle chiese romaniche esistenti in Italia. L'intenso cromatismo, dato dall'impiego della pietra di tufo usata sola o alternata a mattoni, si imprime subito nella memoria del visitatore. L'origine del primitivo nucleo di San Zeno è da ricondurre alla chiesa e al cenobio eretti nell'area cimiteriale romana e paleocristiana vicina alla Via Gallica, sorti sul luogo di sepoltura del Vescovo Zeno per conservarne la memoria e le reliquie. Il primitivo nucleo subì nel VI secolo dei rifacimenti. Qualche storico vede nel sacello di San Benedetto, tuttora esistente nel chiostro, una parte del primitivo complesso.

Con l'espandersi del culto del Santo, l'edificio cominciò a rivelarsi insufficiente. E così fra l'805 e l'806 la comune volontà del re franco Pipino, del Vescovo Ratoldo e dell'Arcidiacono Pacifico, fece realizzare una chiesa più vasta con annesso monastero. Nel 963, a seguito della distruzione operata dagli Ungari, l'imperatore Ottone I e il Vescovo Raterio fecero ricostruire la basilica. Questa è la chiesa che nel 983 vide l'investitura imperiale e la consacrazione episcopale di San Adalberto che esercitò la sua azione pastorale nell' Europa nordorientale. Si tratta di una costruzione a tre navate e tre absidi, larga come l'attuale, ma meno lunga e provvista di cripta.
Testo adattato da Consorzio di Promozione e Commercializzazione Turistica - Verona e Dintorni -

The key to choosing the right career

The key to choosing the right career
When I graduated from college, I liked lots of things. But love? Passion? That would have been an exaggeration. Choosing a career path is usually a confusing and stressing experience. Many will tell you to "follow your passion" or "do what you love", but this doesn't seem very useful advice.
We all want to choose a career that will make us happy, but know can we know what that will be? In fairness, how are you supposed to know if you will be happy as an investment banker or artist or a professor, if you haven't actually done any of these things yet? Who has ever, in the history of mankind, taken a job and had it turn out exactly as they imagined it would?
So if passion and expected happines can't be your guides, what can be? Well, you can begin by choosing a career that fits well with your skills and values. Since you actually have some sense of what those are (hopefully), this is a good starting place. But a bit less obviously, you also want to choose an occupation that provides good motivation for you as well.
There are two ways you can be motivated to reach your goals. Some of us tend to see our goals as oppotunities for advancement, success and rewards. The rest of us see our goals a being about security - about not losing everything we've worked so hard for. So, if you are starting a new venture, make sure that you've got a healthy balance of promotion and prevention.

How China is winning the school race

Chinese students
China’s education performance—at least in cities such as Shanghai and Hong Kong—is as spectacular as the country’s rapid economic expansion, surpassing many more advanced countries. But what is behind this success?
Surprise came when the results of the OECD’s international maths, science and reading tests —the 2009 PISA tests—were published. Shanghai, taking part for the first time, came top in all three subjects. Meanwhile, Hong Kong, which did well in the last decade, has gone from good to great. In this global ranking, it came fourth in reading, second in maths and third in science. These two Chinese cities outstripped leading education systems around the world. The results for Beijing are not quite as spectacular. “But they are still high,” says Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s head of education statistics.
Cheng Kai-Ming, Professor of Education at Hong Kong University, attributes the results to “a devotion to education not shared by other cultures.” More than 80 % of Shanghai’s older secondary students attend after-school tutoring. They may spend another three to four hours each day on homework under close parental supervision. Such dedication also reflects the ferociously competitive university entrance examinations. Prof. Cheng says Chinese parents are definitely devoted to their children’s education.
Certainly these two open and dynamic cities regard as valuable to adopt the best educational practices from around the world to ensure success. Under the slogan “First class city, first class education”, Shanghai re-equipped classrooms, upgraded schools and revised the curriculum in the last decade. Teachers were trained in more interactive methodology and computers were brought in. The city’s schools are now a model for the country. About 80 % of Shanghai school leavers go to university compared to an average of 24 % in China.
Last year Shanghai claimed to be the first Chinese city to provide free schooling for all migrant children. Shanghai controls who lives and works in the city, allowing only the best and the brightest students to become residents with access to jobs and schools. “For over 50 years Shanghai has been accumulating talent, the cream of the cream in China. That gives it an incredible advantage,” says Ruth Heyhoe, former head of the Chinese Institute of Education.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong was forced into educational improvements when its industries moved to cheaper Chinese areas in the 1990s. To continue being a service centre for China, the city had to upgrade knowledge and skills. In the last decade Hong Kong has concentrated on raising the level for all students, and today Hong Kong’s education system is rated among the best in the world. “If we want to have high achievement, we need experts in secondary schools,” said Catherine Chan, secretary for education in the Hong Kong government. Teachers are selected from the top 30 % of the university graduates. By contrast, according to the OECD, the US selects from the bottom third. In Hong Kong, over one-fifth of government money is spent on education every year.
Both Hong Kong and Shanghai are changing their educational models and no-one knows how this will result in terms of quality. However, they believe they are moving in the right direction. Their societies are changing rapidly and for both cities, reaching the top might be easier than staying there.
Text adapted from BBC News

A che serve il professore?

A che serve il professore?
Internet offre agli studenti molte più informazioni che la scuola. Ma poi c'è bisogno di qualcuno che li aiuti a cercare, filtrare e selezionare.
Nella valanga di articoli sul bullismo nelle scuole ho letto di un episodio che proprio di bullismo non definirei ma al massimo d'impertinenza - e tuttavia si tratta di una impertinenza significativa. Dunque, si diceva che uno studente, per provocare un professore, gli avrebbe chiesto: "Scusi, ma nell'epoca d'Internet, Lei che cosa ci sta a fare?".
Lo studente diceva una mezza verità, che tra l'altro persino i professori dicono da almeno vent'anni, e cioè che una volta la scuola doveva trasmettere certamente formazione ma anzitutto nozioni, dalle tabelline nelle elementari, alle notizie sulla capitale del Madagascar nelle medie, sino alla data della guerra dei trent'anni nel liceo. Con l'avvento, non dico di Internet, ma della televisione e persino della radio, e magari già con l'avvento del cinema, gran parte di queste nozioni venivano assorbite da ragazzi nel corso della vita extrascolastica.
Mio padre da piccolo non sapeva che Hiroshima fosse in Giappone, che esistesse Guadalcanal, aveva notizie imprecise di Dresda, e sapeva dell'India quello che gli raccontava Salgari. Io sin dai tempi della guerra queste cose le ho apprese dalla radio e dalle cartine sui quotidiani, mentre i miei figli hanno visto in televisione i fiordi norvegesi, il deserto di Gobi, come le api impollinano i fiori, com'era un Tyrannosaurus Rex; e infine un ragazzo d'oggi sa tutto sull'ozono, sui koala, sull'Iraq e sull'Afghanistan. Forse un ragazzo d'oggi non sa dire bene che cosa siano le staminali ma le ha sentite nominare, mentre ai miei tempi non ce lo diceva neppure la professoressa di scienze naturali. E allora che ci stanno a fare gli insegnanti?
Ho detto che quella dello studente di cui parlavo era solo una mezza verità, perché anzitutto l'insegnante oltre che informare deve formare. Quello che fa di una classe una buona classe non è che vi si apprendano date e dati ma che si stabilisca un dialogo continuo, un confronto di opinioni, una discussione su quanto si apprende a scuola e quanto avviene di fuori. Certo, che cosa accada in Iraq ce lo dice la televisione, ma perché qualcosa accada sempre lì, sin dai tempi della civiltà mesopotamica, e non in Groenlandia, lo può dire solo la scuola. E se qualcuno obiettasse che talora ce lo dicono persone anche autorevoli a 'Porta a Porta', è la scuola che deve discutere 'Porta a Porta'. I mass media ci dicono tante e cose e ci trasmettono persino dei valori, ma la scuola dovrebbe saper discutere il modo in cui ce lo trasmettono, e valutare il tono e la forza delle argomentazioni che vengono svolte sulla carta stampata e in televisione. E poi c'è la verifica delle informazioni trasmesse dai media: per esempio, chi se non un insegnante può correggere le pronunce sbagliate di quell'inglese che ciascuno crede di imparare dalla televisione?
Ma lo studente non stava dicendo al professore che non aveva bisogno di lui perché erano ormai radio e televisione a dirgli dove stia Timbuctu o che si è discusso sulla fusione fredda, e cioè non gli stava dicendo che il suo ruolo era stato assunto da discorsi per così dire sciolti, che circolano in modo casuale e disordinato giorno per giorno sui vari media - e che se sappiamo molto sull'Iraq e poco sulla Siria dipende dalla buona o cattiva volontà di Bush. Lo studente stava dicendo che oggi esiste Internet, la Gran Madre di tutte le Enciclopedie, dove si trovano la Siria, la fusione fredda, la guerra dei trent'anni e la discussione infinita sul più alto dei numeri dispari. Gli stava dicendo che le informazioni che Internet gli mette a disposizione sono immensamente più ampie e spesso più approfondite di quelle di cui dispone il professore. E trascurava un punto importante: che Internet gli dice 'quasi tutto', salvo come cercare, filtrare, selezionare, accettare o rifiutare quelle informazioni.
A immagazzinare nuove informazioni, purché si abbia buona memoria, sono capaci tutti. Ma decidere quali vadano ricordate e quali no è arte sottile. Questo fa la differenza tra chi ha fatto un corso di studi regolari (anche male) e un autodidatta (anche se geniale).
Umberto Eco - La Bustina di Minerva

The Playmobil theme park that's a different kind of adventure

The Playmobil theme park that's a different kind of adventure
Yes, the rumours are true. Playmobil which makes ambulances, dragons, princesses and pirates for millions of children, is going to bring its theme park to Britain. The German toy company has announced that it is “a matter of when, not if”. For many parents going to theme parks, with their queues, expensive burgers and alarming rides, is awful. However this is not an ordinary theme park.
In fact, it is not a theme park at all as it does not have any traditional theme park rides. Hans Beck, the original designer of Playmobil believed that children’s greatest gift was their imagination. The moment a little plastic figure, with arms and legs, was in their hands, they would make up stories. Playmobil is what all toys were before video games, television or the cinema; a way for children to enter a world entirely of their own making.
Playmobil theme parks are the Playmobil universe but in human size. There is a pirates’ ship on a lake, whose rigging can be climbed, a knights’ castle, from whose walls children can shout and scale, located next door to the cowboy area, with Playmobil horses and wagons which can be ridden.
Herr Beck’s legacy was his strong belief that his toys must not encourage violence or horror. Horst Brandstatter, who owns the company has always refused to make Playmobil tanks or warplanes although he knows it would be a lucrative option.
Horst Brandstatter says, “I hope that there is enough fantasy in the Playmobil world that children can make up and play out their own story. That’s what we want. I hope we can perpetuate that.” .
Adapted from The Daily Telegraph 2011.

Alexander von Humboldt – Der Vermesser der Welt

Alexander von Humboldt – Der Vermesser der WeltAlexander von Humboldt war ein Universalgenie. Sein Denken war grenzenlos. Aber er war auch Lebemann, der die Geselligkeit in den Salons liebte. Sein Bruder Wilhelm warf ihm einmal vor, zu sehr pariserisch zu werden.
Alexander von Humboldt konnte so ziemlich alles. Er war kein Spezialist, sondern in den meisten naturwissenschaftlichen Disziplinen zu Hause. Er genießt, wie sein zwei Jahre älterer Bruder Wilhelm, eine hervorragende Ausbildung. Dafür investiert seine Mutter sehr viel Geld. Die besten Hauslehrer werden engagiert, alle folgen dem aufklärerischen Gedanken dieser Zeit. Der Mensch soll sein Leben und Denken selbst bestimmen und sich nicht an Zwängen der Obrigkeit orientie-ren. So wächst Alexander auf. Saugt alles, was ihn interessiert, wie ein Schwamm auf. Studiert Staatswirtschaftslehre, Altertumswissenschaften und Medizin, Physik, Mathematik, Botanik.
Vermessung der Erde Alexander von Humboldt interessiert als Naturforscher weniger das Detail als vielmehr die Frage, wie das Ganze, das gesamte Ökosystem Erde funktioniert. Doch dafür muss er die Details kennen und verstehen. Die Bedeutung der Astronomie, der Geologie, Mineralogie, Klima-forschung oder der Ozeanographie. Dass er dafür nicht in Berlin bleiben kann, weiß Humboldt schon recht früh. Er knüpft Kontakte zu Wissenschaftlern, die die Welt bereisen. Georg Forster ist einer von ihnen. Mit ihm unternimmt Humboldt seine erste Expedition. Von Mainz geht es über den Niederrhein nach England. Und diese kleinere Forschungsreise weckt in ihm den großen Wunsch, die Welt zu erobern, sagt der Humboldt-Biograph Manfred Geier. „Das Schlüssel-erlebnis findet statt, als er mit Georg Forster, dem Weltreisenden das Meer sieht. Und dieses Meer lockt ihn in die Ferne.”
Raus in die Welt Als seine Mutter 1796 stirbt – Alexander ist 27 Jahre alt – erbt er ein großes Vermögen. Damit kann er sich den Traum, die Welt zu bereisen, endlich erfüllen. Er quittiert sofort den Staatsdienst und bereitet sich drei Jahre lang auf seine große Forschungsreise nach Amerika vor. Sein Begleiter ist der Botaniker Aimé Bonpland. 1799 starten sie ihre „Vermessung der Welt”. Mit an Bord die modernsten Instrumente, die es zu dieser Zeit gibt: unter anderem Sextanten, Teles-kope, diverse Fernrohre, eine Längenuhr, ein Hyetometer, Elektrometer, Hygrometer, Barometer und verschiedene Thermometer.
In einem Brief schreibt er: „Ich werde Pflanzen sammeln, mit vortrefflichen Instrumenten astrono-mische Beobachtungen machen können (...). Das alles ist aber nicht Hauptzweck meiner Reise. Auf das Zusammenwirken der Kräfte, den Einfluss der unbelebten Schöpfung auf die belebte Tier- und Pflanzenwelt, auf diese Harmonie sollen stets meine Augen gerichtet sein!”
Expedition Amerika Von Spanien aus geht es über die Kanarischen Inseln nach Kolumbien, Ecuador, Mexiko, Kuba, Venezuela und Peru. Er durchwandert die Anden, Monate lang, tausende von Kilometern. Ein Höhepunkt, sagt Manfred Geier, sei der 20. Juni 1802 gewesen, als er den Vulkan Chimborazo besteigt, der damals als der höchste Berg der Welt galt. „Er war zusammen mit seinen Begleitern fast oben. Es kam ihm schon das Blut aus den Augen, er war über 6000 Meter hoch, bevor er an eine Spalte kam, 70 Meter breit und 170 Meter tief, über die sie nicht hinweggekommen sind.” Alexander von Humboldt und sein Begleiter Bonpland geraten mehrere Male in Lebensgefahr. Doch eine von Humboldts Maximen lautet: „Selbst erleben, selbst erleiden”. Dazu gehören auch die ein oder anderen skurrilen wissenschaftlichen Selbstversuche. Für seine „Versuche über die gereizte Muskel- und Nervenfaser” fügt er sich Wunden zu und bringt sie mit allerlei giftigem Zeug, wie Zink oder Silber in Berührung.
Humboldt wird zum Wissenschafts-Star Am 3. August 1804 betreten Humboldt und Bonplan wieder europäischen Boden. Sie landen in Frankreich und werden frenetisch gefeiert. Humboldt entscheidet sich, erst einmal in Paris zu bleiben, das preußische Berlin lockt ihn nicht. Sein Bruder Wilhelm ermahnt ihn schließlich, wieder nach Deutschland zurückzukehren. Das tut Alexander - wohl auch, weil das Geld knapp wird. Das preußische Königshaus bietet ihm die zu nichts verpflichtende aber gut bezahlte Stelle des königlichen Kammerherrn an, zum außerordentlichen Mitglied der Akademie der Wissen-schaften wurde er bereits während seiner Amerika-Reise ernannt. Auch in Berlin ist Alexander von Humboldt bis zu seinem Tod ein Star der Gesellschaft. Er wird gefeiert und verehrt wie ein Popstar. Humboldt verbringt den Rest seines Lebens damit, die unzähligen Pflanzen, Tiere, Fossilien, Steine und die Berge von Daten und Aufzeichnungen auszuwerten, die er aus Amerika mitgebracht hat. Sein berühmtes, mehrbändiges Werk „Der Kosmos” wurde schon kurz nach Erscheinen zum Bestseller. Alexander von Humboldt stirbt 90-jährig am 6. Mai 1859 in Berlin.
© DW 

Mobile phones in cinemas

Mobile phones in cinemas
Increasingly New Yorkers are placing and receiving calls when they go to the movies. But now if a new law does become effective in December, the very act of talking into a mobile phone in a cinema or any other place of public performance could become illegal and result in a 50-euro fine. The proposed law has strong support from cinemagoers.
“It is annoying when people in a movie theatre use their mobiles. You end up missing parts of the
film,” said one New Yorker. The use of mobile phone in live theatres and concert halls would also be included in the prohibition. Many people in the show business support the proposed law. The problem is that the ban will be difficult to apply because it will be hard to catch transgressors.


Urgroßmutter Emma heiratete schon mit 17 Jahren, bekam mit 18 ihr erstes Kind und hatte mit 32 schon sieben Kinder. „Haushalt und Kinder, das war ganz allein meine Aufgabe. Mein Mann hat sich darum nie gekümmert. Aber trotzdem war er der Herr im Haus“, sagt sie.
„Mein Vater war sehr streng, wir Kinder haben ihn mehr gefürchtet als geliebt“, sagt ihre Tochter Magdalene. Auch sie heiratete ziemlich früh und hatte fünf Kinder.
Elisabeth ist ihr zweites Kind: „Ich habe nur gute Erinnerungen an meine Kindheit. Meine Eltern waren zwar oft streng, aber es gab nie Schläge oder Ohrfeigen.“ Sie machte das Abitur und wurde Fremdsprachensekretärin. Heute, zwei Jahre nach der Scheidung von ihrem Mann, arbeitet sie wieder. Aber es ist nicht leicht für sie, allein und unabhängig zu leben. Ihre Tochter Sabine kann das nur schwer verstehen. Sie hat einen Sohn, Kevin. „Kevins Vater und ich leben zusammen, aber wir wollen nicht heiraten. Ich verdiene mein eigenes Geld und wir teilen uns die Arbeit im Haushalt.
Wir sind auch eine Familie, aber eben etwas anders als früher!“ Und Kevin? Er findet es gut, dass er so viele Omas hat!
Sabines Freundin Corinna hat eine sehr originelle Familie. Corinna dachte, dass eine Scheidung nicht das Ende ihrer Familie sein durfte. Jetzt lebt sie mit ihrer Großfamilie, und das ist eine ganz besondere Familie: zu ihr gehören ihre beiden Ex-Männer und die neue Freundin von Corinnas erstem Mann, die Kinder von Corinnas zwei ersten Ehen sowie auch ihr dritter Mann und die zwei Kinder, die sie mit ihm hat. „Warum soll ich den Kindern die Väter nehmen, die ich doch mal geliebt habe?“ fragt die dreißigjährige Schauspielerin Corinna. Wenn sie zum Filmen muss, kümmern sich die Väter um die Kinder.
Aber es gibt auch viele Menschen, die auf eine Familie verzichten. Die Zahlen zeigen, dass immer mehr Menschen allein leben. Im Jahre 1900 waren es sieben Prozent, heute sind es fünfmal so viele. Das sind zum größten Teil alte Menschen und Singles. Aber auch viele berufstätigen jungen Menschen wollen nicht mehr als Kinder bei den Eltern wohnen.

Die Stadt Freiburg und die Straßenmusik

Ist die Stadt Freiburg das Mekka der Straβenmusikanten? Im Frühling sah es so aus. Aber jetzt im Winter ist die Situation etwas ruhiger.
Im Frühling sah man an allen Ecken und Enden der Stadt Musikanten: Späthippies, 12-Mann-Big-Bands aus dem peruanischen Hochgebirge und klassisch ausgebildete Konservatoriumsstudenten teilten sich die Straβen und Gassen der Altstadt.
Das Brot der Straβenmusikanten ist meistens hart verdient. Während des Nachmittags und Abends singt ein Trio aus Ecuador nacheinander in allen Cafés der Fußgängerzone. Sie fangen auf dem Münsterplatz an und singen dann in allen anderen Cafés. Die drei Musiker aus Ecuador sind drei Brüder, sie waren in Amsterdam und sind dann über Deutschland in die Schweiz gefahren. Jetzt sind sie wieder in Deutschland, in Freiburg, und hoffen, andere Ecuatorianer zu treffen und eine grössere Band machen zu können. Mit dieser Band möchten sie weiterreisen.
Das verdiente Geld reicht gerade aus, um zu leben, sagen sie. Aber nicht mehr.
Doch nicht alle Musikanten kommen von so weit her: ein junger Mann aus Bern spielt Violine am Bahnhof. Er sagt, dass er versucht hat, in der Fuβgängerzone zu spielen, es aber nicht funktioniert hat. Warum? Sein Instrument ist zu leise: eine Violine hört man nicht, wenn viele Menschen herumlaufen und wenn auch andere Musiker spielen. Er hat nur wenige Münzen bekommen, deshalb versucht er es jetzt am Bahnhof, wo auch viele Menschen aber keine anderen Musiker sind. „Ich glaube, es ist das erste und letzte Mal, dass ich das probiere“, sagt er ein wenig frustriert.
Die Freiburger finden, dass es zu viele Straβenmusikanten gibt. Deshalb hat die Stadt jetzt die Straβenmusik streng reglementiert.
Wie ist die Straβenmusik reglementiert?
Musik und auch alle anderen künstlerischen Aktivitäten auf der Straβe müssen von der Polizei autorisiert werden, die Autorisierung kostet nichts.
Die Musiker dürfen unter der Woche von 11 bis 12.30 und von 16.30 bis 21 Uhr auf den Straβen spielen, am Samstag von 9 bis 21 Uhr und am Sonntag von 11 bis 20 Uhr. Straβenmusik ist nur in der
Fuβgängerzone erlaubt, und die Fuβgängerzone ist in vier Sektoren aufgeteilt. Die Künstler dürfen nicht länger als eine halbe Stunde in einer Zone sein, dann müssen sie in eine andere Zone gehen.
Am selben Tag darf in einer Zone nur einmal musiziert werden. Lautsprecher sind verboten und die Füβgänger dürfen nicht behindert werden. Straβenmusiker haben wirklich ein hartes Leben.

Le consul, la France et Salem

Salem ne pouvait pas croire qu’on lui dise une chose pareille: «Salem Berlgourch, ce n’est pas un nom très français! Pour les Américains, la France, c’est Édith Piaf, le camembert, la tour Eiffel… Je ne sais pas si vous allez convenir». Le consul de France à Seattle, venu recruter des candidats pour un stage parmi les élèves en troisième année à Sciences politiques*, s’interrogeait tout haut. «Monsieur, la France, ce n’est pas un nom, ce sont des valeurs, l’appartenance à une identité collective, à la même République. Et je suis né ici!», lui a répondu le jeune homme, piqué au vif* et persuadé d’être refusé à l’examen. Trois semaines plus tard, le verdict tombait: Salem avait son passeport pour les États-Unis. Le consul avait seulement voulu le tester.
Salem Belgourch, 22 ans, maintenant en quatrième année en master de finances à Sciences politiques, raconte cette anecdote comme le reste  sans émotion particulière, se contentant de décrire les faits. Né dans une famille marocaine arrivée en France dans les années 1960 et qui a habité un bidonville* à Nanterre*, Salem est le dernier de dix enfants. Au collège, ses résultats sont «catastrophiques». Mais des profs exigeants, rencontrés quand il a dû recommencer sa troisième*, lui donnent l’envie d’étudier. En seconde*, au lycée Guy-de-Maupassant de Colombes*, il assiste à une réunion d’information.
Une chance : «Je pensais que Sciences politiques*, ce n’était pas fait pour nous. Mais mes frères et soeurs m’ont encouragé. Je ne perdais rien à essayer». Il avait même tout à gagner: en septembre 2004, après avoir passé un examen, il entre dans la prestigieuse école de la rue Saint-Guillaume. «Les débuts ont été terribles. La charge de travail, tout d’abord. Et puis, je ne me sentais pas du tout à ma place: passer de Colombes* au VIIe arrondissement, c’est un décalage énorme! Je me sentais très différent des autres: on ne parlait pas de la même façon, on ne s’habillait pas de la même manière. Les différences sociales étaient énormes. Et puis, j’ai appris, j’ai montré mes capacités et j’en suis sorti grandi .»
Cet été, Salem effectue un stage à la banque HSBC. Il vit toujours chez ses parents, à Colombes*, où il entraîne une équipe de football junior. Depuis mars dernier, il est également conseiller municipal: «Je veux garder un lien concret avec mon quartier. Je ne vais pas attendre d’avoir 40 ans pour tenter d’apporter mes réponses». À 23 ans, il sortira diplômé de Sciences politiques*, et compte alors s’inscrire à la Faculté de Droit de la rue d’Assas, une autre institution réputée élitiste. «Mais, cette fois, je n’aurai plus rien à prouver aux autres…»
D’après L’Express (31 juillet 2008)
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