A talent for spying

A talent for spying
The publication of the history of MI6 reveals the British gift for espionage. The concept of an authorised history of a secret agency, which did not officially exist until 1992, is slippery, to say the least. The publication of Professor Keith Jeffery’s MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909 – 1949, is notable for the very fact of its existence as well as the secrets that it reveals. It also invites a much broader question. Why is British identity so bound up with espionage and subterfuge? Have the British made unusually good spies, and if so, do they continue to do so in today’s very different diplomatic environment?
MI6 began with a mistake. ―We went to the office and remained there all day but saw no one, nor was there anything to do‖. That was the verdict of Mansfield Cumming in 1909 after his first day at work as head of the foreign section of the new Secret Service Bureau, the agency that later became the Secret Intelligence Service (or MI6). For once there was simple explanation: Cumming had accidentally started work a week early.
That inauspicious start quickly gave way to serious victories. La Dame Blanche, the most successful intelligence network of the First World War, orchestrated 880 men and women working behind enemy lines. During the operation to penetrate occupied France and Germany in the Second World War, an agent’s average life expectancy was three weeks. An incalculable debt is owed to the bravery of those men and women.
But even armed with the evidence of this book, taking measure of MI6 is unusually difficult. First, although MI6 has opened up in recent years (it now has a more conventional recruitment process than the donnish tap on the shoulder) it remains much more secretive than its sister agency MI5. Second, Mr Jeffrey’s evidence covers only 1909- 1949 – perhaps because it stops just short of the most embarrassing era in MI6’s history. In 1951, a Cambridge spy ring was exposed, in which double agents such as Kim Philby had betrayed British state secrets in the service of the Soviet Union.
That MI6 was once so dominated by Oxbridge and the public schools exposes both the genius and the fault line in British intelligence. The British class and education system, by honing the ability to hide real feelings beneath charm and polish, made for natural spies. Charm, in Evelyn Waugh’s phrase, ―is the English disease‖. But the ability to say one thing while feeling another has practical benefits. ―For the British it could be said that the inclination to deceive is already available as a natural asset,‖ concluded one American intelligence chief. Indeed, the United States did not even have a secret service until 1942.
In recent decades, MI6 has been accused of being slow to adapt. The absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq undeniably tarnished its reputation. And MI6 was influenced by America’s overreliance on high-tech intercepts, rather than face-to-face human intelligence. But 9/11 showed that high-tech systems can only augment traditional intelligence, never replace it.
MI6 has continued to punch above its weight. Oleg Gordievsky’s defection was a Cold War triumph. And Libya’s decision to abandon its nuclear programme in 2003 owed much to MI6’s relationships, its agents’ ability to persuade. When it comes to human intelligence, it remains the case that nobody does it better. 
Adapted from The Times, August 2010.

The impossible moment of delight

The impossible moment of delight
A recent survey has examined the well-trodden ground of the relationship between pleasure and money. Many studies have examined this, from any number of starting points, often concluding, in the oldest of old clichés, that money can’t buy you happiness or, in more sophisticated terms, that happiness and pleasure often reside, not in riches in absolute terms, but in being richer than the people who happen to live to your left or your right. Other studies have claimed that comparison with the wealth of others leads to a “set-up for disappointment” and that a good attitude is all that matters.
This most recent study inquired into the wellbeing of 136,000 people worldwide and compared it to levels of income. It found, overall, that feelings of security and general satisfaction did increase with financial status. Money, however, could not lift its possessors to the next level, and was unable to provide enjoyment or pleasure on its own. The survey, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, examined large numbers of people from almost every culture on Earth, and found much the same thing. The stereotype of the rich man who finds life savourless and without pleasure was not invented simply to keep the poor happy with their lot.
Paul Bloom addresses the same issue in his book How Pleasure Works. According to Bloom, at the point when people get the thing they really want, they enter a state of perfect pleasure. Both Bloom’s book and the enormous survey concentrate on status and on the moment of getting possession of something we want. Are we satisfied and filled with pleasure when we get what we want? Bloom, looking at eager consumers, would say ‘yes’; the survey tends to say ‘not necessarily’. In my view, it’s rare that we can actually pin down the specific moment when the feeling of pleasure is at its clearest.
Take the teenager determined to buy the latest must-have gadget, a woman setting out to get a new handbag, or a prosperous businessman who wants to add to his collection of Japanese netsuke. The setting out with the happy intention of spending; the entering of the shop; the examination of the wares; the long decision; the handing over of the money; the moment when the ownership of the goods is transferred; the gloating at home; the moment when the object is displayed to others. All these steps form a process in enjoyment, but almost all of them are redolent with anticipation or with retrospective glee. The moment where bliss is at its peak is over in a flash, and hardly exists at all. Everything else is expectation or memory.
Composers have always known this simple, basic truth: pleasure is half anticipation and half blissful recollection, and hardly at all about the fulfillment of the promise. The great musical statements of ecstasy, such as Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde or Schubert’s first Suleika song, are literally all half crescendo and half languid recall. We look forward to pleasure; we look back on it. The moment of pleasure itself is over in a flash, and often rather questionable.
The hairband and geegaw emporium Claire’s Accessories has a thoughtful, rather philosophical slogan to tempt its young customers. It sells itself under the strapline ‘where getting ready is half the fun’. That is honest and truthful. A group of 14-year-old girls in their party best is nowhere near as successful an enterprise of pleasure as exactly the same girls putting on and trying out and discussing their hopes for the party in advance; not as successful either as talking it over the next day. The party itself, from the beginning of time, has consisted of a lot of standing around and gawping and giggling, and someone crying in the lavatory.
So any notion of fulfilled pleasure which insists on the moment of bliss is doomed to failure. Mr Bloom and the researchers of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology were clearly happiest when undertaking their research, during which time they were looking forward to coming to a conclusion. And now they can sit back and start to say ‘Yes, when I concluded my theory of pleasure and satisfaction…..’ Even for philosophers of pleasure, another ancient and well-handled cliché about travel and life is true: getting there really is half the pleasure.

Krise in Südeuropa Italiener stürmen Deutsch-Kurse

Krise in Südeuropa Italiener stürmen Deutsch-Kurse
Tausende Italiener büffeln1 plötzlich Deutsch. Die Sprache Goethes galt lange als schwer und wenig nützlich. Doch nun locken in Goethes Heimat, nördlich der Alpen, Jobs und Geld. Für Auswanderungswillige ein guter Grund, sich mit der für sie schwierigen Grammatik zu beschäftigen.


„Es wird immer schlimmer“, sagt Massimo. Die Kommune2 in Italien, für die der selbständige Handwerker arbeitet, sind quasi pleite. Sie zahlen Massimos Rechnungen mit monatelanger Verspätung. Manchmal dauert es ein Jahr, bis er sein Geld bekommt. Er aber muss Material, Steuern und Abgaben immer sofort bezahlen, oft auf Kredit.
Massimo hat keine Lust mehr auf Italien, er sucht sein Glück im Norden. „Ick gehe nack Deutscheland“, sagt Massimo. In der Nähe von Ulm hat Massimo Verwandte, da will er hin, da will er arbeiten und mehr Geld verdienen als daheim. Ein kleines Problem gibt es noch: Er muss Deutsch lernen. „Das sär schwierige“, stöhnt er. Aber er werde es schon schaffen.
So wie Massimo bemühen sich im Moment Tausende von Italienern, junge wie ältere, eine Sprache zu lernen, deren Grammatik ihnen ebenso schwer fällt wie die zungen-, lippen- und halsbrecherische Aussprache. Worte wie „Schleswig-Holstein“ oder „Bordsteinkante“ können sie einfach nicht richtig sagen. Und der in Italien immer noch vergötterte Formel-1-Pilot Michael Schumacher wird selbst von den Experten im italienischen Fernsehen „Skumaker“ genannt.
Trotz alledem, Deutschlernen, ist plötzlich „in“3: An Schulen und Universitäten, in den Kursen des Goethe-Instituts oder privater Sprachschulen. Mehr als 400.000 italienische Schüler in Mittel- und Oberschulen wählen inzwischen Deutsch als zweite Fremdsprache. Im vergangenen Jahr nahm die Zahl der Deutsch-Lerner um 18 Prozent zu, in diesem Jahr dürfte der Zuwachs noch größer ausfallen. Französisch und Spanisch dagegen liegen im Abwärtstrend.
Viele Leute lernen auch privat, ob Ärzte, Juristen, Lehrer oder Ingenieure - Wer diese gutturale und an Konsonanten überreiche Fremdsprache beherrscht, hat bessere Chancen auf einen guten Job und ein ordentliches Gehalt - oder hofft es zumindest.
Denn Deutschland ist der größte Wirtschaftspartner Italiens. 16 Prozent aller Importe sind „Made in Germany“, 13 Prozent aller Italo-Exporte gehen über die Alpen nach Deutschland. Über 2000 Firmen in Italien sind Außenstellen deutscher Unternehmen - Bosch, Mercedes, Lufthansa zum Beispiel - oder befinden sich in deutschem Besitz. Bei diesen Firmen arbeiten 170.000 Italiener. Wer von denen „tedesco“, (Deutsch) kann, hat bessere Aufstiegschancen. Und wer in einem qualifizierten Beruf wie Arzt oder Jurist lieber gleich ins wirtschaftsstärkste Land Europas wechseln will, muss sowieso gute Deutschkenntnisse mitbringen.
Nicht nur die Italiener haben die ökonomischen Chancen germanischer Sprachfertigkeiten entdeckt. In allen Mittelmeer-, sprich: Krisenländern ist neuerdings Deutsch angesagt, in Spanien ebenso wie in Portugal. In Griechenland nahm die Zahl der Deutsch-Schüler sogar um 30 Prozent in einem halben Jahr zu.
Kein Wunder, die Arbeitslosigkeit ist fast überall im Süden Europas drückend, selbst für gut ausgebildete junge Menschen gibt es daheim derzeit kaum Chancen auf einen ordentlichen Job. Folglich zieht es Ingenieure, Ärzte, IT-Experten ins Land, wo zwar keine Zitronen, aber dafür Konsonanten blühen - und wo der Wachstumsmotor sogar in der Euro-Krise weiter recht gut funktioniert.
Schon zeichnet sich eine neue Süd-Nord-Wanderungswelle ab. Bei weitem nicht so groß wie in den fünfziger und sechziger Jahren bei den Gastarbeiter-Großvätern. Zudem sind heute, anders als damals, keine Jobs als Stahlarbeiter, Müllmann, Pizzabäcker oder Eisverkäufer gefragt. Sondern anspruchsvolle Arbeitsplätze für gut Ausgebildete.
Freilich, die meisten, die sich jetzt an der krisenfesten Fremdsprache abmühen, wollen nicht wirklich in den Norden. Der 39-jährige römische Bankangestellte Alessandro zum Beispiel: zu kalt, zu fremd, und dann das schwer verdauliche Essen – „Ihr macht alles mit Butter, das vertragen italienische Mägen einfach nicht“. Alessandro will seine Chancen auf dem heimischen Arbeitsmarkt verbessern. Er arbeitet bei der Niederlassung eines deutschen Kreditinstituts, da läuft viel interne Kommunikation auf Deutsch. Wer die Sprache nicht beherrscht, ist immer im Nachteil.
Aber auch 100% italienische Firmen entdecken den Wert der deutschen Sprache für ihre Geschäfte. 80 Prozent der italienischen Unternehmen, die einen Arbeitsplatz für Interessenten mit zwei Fremdsprachen offerieren, verlangen heute neben Englisch deutsche Sprachkenntnisse. Ganz besonders gilt das für Jobs im Tourismussektor. Denn vier von zehn Reisenden, die es nach „Bella Italia“ zieht, kommen aus dem deutschsprachigen Raum. Wer diese mit „Herzlich Willkommen“ begrüßen kann und bei passender Gelegenheit „Kann ich Ihnen helfen“ sagt, sammelt natürlich Pluspunkte - bei den Gästen wie beim Chef.
28.10.2012 Spiegel online
Von Hans-Jürgen Schlamp, Massa Marittima

Ubisoft: L'interview à Yves Guillemot

Ubisoft: L'interview à Yves Guillemot

À quelques jours de son assemblée générale, Yves Guillemot, le PDG d’Ubisoft est confiant. Le champion français du jeu vidéo confirme ses objectifs annuels et prévoit une croissance de 20% cette année. Guillemot rejette toute idée de mariage avec Electronic Arts, expliquant que la convergence entre les industries de l’Internet et du jeu vidéo offre de nombreuses combinaisons.

 


Capital.fr : Quel rythme de croissance attendez-vous cette année ?
Yves Guillemot : Depuis janvier, les ventes de jeux ont progressé de 30% aux États-Unis et en Europe. Ce rythme devrait ralentir car de nombreux jeux à succès ont été lancés au cours du premier semestre. Sur l’ensemble de 2008, le marché devrait progresser de 20%. Nous attendons encore une année de croissance en 2009 avec une hausse des ventes d’au moins 10%.

Capital.fr : Avec le ralentissement économique, comment expliquez-vous la bonne évolution de l’industrie du jeu vidéo ?
Y.G. : Le marché du jeu se développe progressivement, grâce à la montée en puissance de la Wii ou de la DS de Nintendo. Ces consoles offrent de nouvelles façons de jouer, comme certains jeux (Guitar Hero), qui permettent l’arrivée de nouveaux joueurs. Si le joueur type était jusqu’à présent un garçon âgé de 6 à 40 ans, aujourd’hui les filles de 8 à 12 ans et les femmes de plus de 40 ans prennent une place croissante.

Capital.fr : Quels bénéfices réalisez-vous avec Nintendo ?
Y.G. : Aujourd’hui, Nintendo représente près d’un tiers de notre chiffre d’affaires. Et ce niveau devrait continuer à augmenter au détriment des jeux pour ordinateurs. Nintendo, qui a créé une nouvelle façon de jouer avec des jeux dits « casual » (= des jeux familiaux, plus faciles à jouer), devrait maintenir sa position privilégiée, même si ses concurrents, comme Microsoft, ont baissé le prix de leurs machines.

Capital.fr : Produire un jeu coûte de plus en plus cher, comment faites-vous ?
Y. G. : Produire un jeu « casual » coûte en moyenne 1 million d’euros, et il faut compter jusqu'à 20 millions pour un jeu haut de gamme. Dans ces conditions, un éditeur doit atteindre une certaine taille pour pouvoir consentir d’importantes dépenses en recherche et développement et assurer le développement de plusieurs jeux. L’objectif est de ne pas dépendre du succès d’un seul titre.

Capital.fr : Un rapprochement entre Electronic Arts et Ubisoft serait-il souhaitable pour concentrer le capital?
Y. G. : Chaque entreprise a son propre fonctionnement et a su développer des succès grâce à sa gestion, ses équipes. Et même si une fusion n’est pas impossible, il est toujours difficile d’unir des équipes si opposées. Aujourd’hui, Ubisoft, qui enregistre une forte croissance, doit rester indépendant.

Capital.fr : Quand allez-vous commercialiser sur le marché des jeux massivement multijoueur sur Internet ?
Y. G.: Nous sommes en effet absents de ce marché, mais nous comptons dès l’an prochain lancer un jeu massivement multijoueur « light ». C'est-à-dire que notre jeu sera accessible gratuitement, mais il faudra ensuite payer un abonnement mensuel. Et si les premiers jeux seront des RPG (= jeux vidéo de rôle) destinés à un public de joueurs passionnés, nous devrions rapidement lancer des jeux plus grand public.
(Texte adapté pour cette épreuve)

A magician with numbers

Born on a Blue Day - Daniel Tammet
Daniel Tammet has an extraordinary gift for mathematics. 

He can also speak 10 languages as well as his own invented language, "Mänti". 

Daniel’s mathematical abilities are so extraordinary that it took a long time for them to be recognised. He struggled at school. He got a B at Maths GCSE. He wasn't diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome until three years ago, at 25. Sooner would have been better "both for me and my parents".
 “As a child I didn't speak very much. I used to put my fingers in my ears to feel the silence. It was hard for me to find my voice because I was, for so long, absorbed in my own world," says Daniel "I had to teach myself to look in somebody's eyes," he explains. "Before that, I used to look at their mouth, because it was the part of their face that was moving."
Daniel's condition brings him great riches: his visualisation of numbers means he can perform extraordinary mathematical achievements. Daniel's world is a rich and strange one, where every number up to 10,000 has colour, texture and emotional resonance. More remarkable still, he has described it all in Born on a Blue Day, his memoir of his life with a rare form of Asperger's; consciousness-raising is part of his motivation for writing his book. "My condition is invisible otherwise."
Scientists at California's Center for Brain Studies were amazed when, two years ago, they discovered his facility for discerning prime numbers. They had assumed he must have been trained to do it. But to him, it is more like an instinctive process.
"The scientists and researchers come to me so I can help them design the parameters of their experiments," he says. It is important to Daniel that he uses his gifts responsibly, perhaps for science, perhaps for teaching: he is already devising a new system of visualisation to help with language learning and dyslexia.
Daniel was lonely. Forming relationships was difficult. "I was desperate for a friend and I used to lie in bed at night thinking about what it would be like. My younger brothers and sisters had friends and I used to watch them playing to try to work out what they did and how friendship worked. Then, I would have traded everything for normality”.
Falling in love with Neil has changed everything. They have been together for six years. Now his emotional life is more like everyone else's. "Neil is very patient with me, and the routines I need to have to help with my anxieties," says Daniel. "I don't know what I'd do without him."
Generally, Daniel feels he is progressing all the time towards "outgrowing" his autism." He is getting steadily better at social interaction. "Every experience I have I add to my mental library and hopefully life should then get easier." I've learned that being different isn't necessarily a bad thing." In this, he seems to sum up the progress we all hope for.

Social care for graduates: compassionate embrace

Hand in hand You may not need a degree to work in social care, but many graduates with a desire to help the vulnerable are finding rewarding careers within the sector. Being a carer comes with emotional pressure and demanding challenges, but for some graduates working in social care has proved the most satisfying step they have ever taken.
“I was going to do my master’s, but then I realised I needed to do something meaningful and important for other people. After spending all that time studying, I just wanted to do something real,” says Colette Lotscher, a graduate with a degree in literature who now works as a personal care assistant in Greenwich, London. At present, Lotscher is working with children with mental or physical disabilities and their families, helping parents and burnt out mothers to cope with the day-to-day reality of caring for a child with special needs. “It is tough, but you grow so much, you learn how to be tolerant and to become a better person”, she says.
Social care workers are often confused with social workers, but the two are distinctly different; you need a degree to practise as a social worker, but you don’t need any particular qualifications to go into social care as a carer. Social work usually deals with case-by-case scenarios, where a situation is complex enough to involve local authorities, the NHS (National Health Service), the police or probation services, whereas social care involves delivering practical and emotional support to the vulnerable, elderly or ill – either in residential homes or to families in need.

Working for the Royal Household

Working for the Royal Household
The Royal Household provides unique career opportunities for those who wish to take a new direction. 

REWARD AND BENEFITS

There is a wide range of benefits and facilities available to permanent and fixed-term contract employees of the Royal Household. These include the following:
•    Eligibility to join the Royal Household Stakeholder pension scheme and receive a 15% employer contribution to a portable pension, death in service cover (four times salary), and ill health cover after six months' service
•    25 days' annual leave rising to 30 days after 10 years' service (pro rata for part-time or fixed-term contracts)
•    Excellent staff dining facilities at Buckingham Palace. Staff at all sites are provided with a free lunch each working day
•    Supportive sick pay and family-friendly policies
•    For those who are eligible, subsidised accommodation and housing, for which an abatement is charged
•    20% discount in all Royal Collection Shops and 10% discount in Windsor Farm Shop
•    Complimentary tickets to the occupied Royal residences and galleries
•    Employee Assistance Programme (independent information and counselling service) open to all employees and their immediate family 

TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

The Royal Household aims to ensure that all employees have the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to contribute to their maximum potential. Many training and development opportunities are available to staff, including:
•    Full induction training for all new employees
•    Structured on-the-job programmes
•    Technical training
•    IT training
•    Personal skills and management training
•    Financial support and study leave for relevant professional qualifications.
All employees receive a structured performance development review at least once a year, when there is an opportunity to discuss performance and training and development needs with managers.

EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY

The Royal Household aims to employ the best people from the widest available pool of talent. It also strives to ensure that all employees are able to contribute to their maximum potential, irrespective of gender, race, ethnic or national origin, disability, religion, sexual orientation or age. The Royal Household does and will:
•    Take steps to attract employment applications from talented individuals in all sections of the community;
•    Review periodically selection criteria and processes to ensure individuals are recruited and promoted on the basis of their merits and abilities relevant to the job;
•    Provide a working environment in which no employee experiences discrimination, harassment or intimidation.

Dans les moteurs de l’avenir

Dans les moteurs de l’avenir
À l’avant-scène, une profusion d’informations contradictoires sur la fin du pétrole, le boom des énergies vertes et le bruit des éoliennes. Dans les coulisses, un ballet réglé d’intérêts: les forgerons de l’ordre mondial s’affairent. Spectacle à fronts renversés? Comprendre le grand jeu de l’énergie dont dépend l’avenir de l’humanité implique une démarche volontariste.
Trois traits caractérisent le paysage énergétique global. En premier lieu, les connaissances fiables dont nous aurions besoin pour peser sur les choix de demain sont confisquées au public: elles hibernent dans les coffres d’Etats et d’entreprises. Ensuite, les investissements nécessaires à la mise en oeuvre d’une nouvelle filière sont si lourds qu’ils engagent un pays sur plusieurs générations. Dès lors, les intérêts économiques priment, même lorsqu’ils fusionnent avec d’autres considérations d’allure plus présentable: aux questions géopolitiques, aux débats éthiques, aux controverses climatiques répondent presque toujours les profits des multinationales.
Selon l’Agence internationale de l’énergie (AIE), le «pic» pétrolier aurait été atteint en 2006. Mais il faut se méfier des effets d’annonce. Dans ce domaine, on ment et on bluffe pour influencer les marchés et justifier des investissements irrationnels. La perplexité est aussi de mise quand l’Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques (OCDE) affirme que les coûts de l’électricité solaire et éolienne rejoignent ceux du courant d’origine nucléaire ou fossile. Difficile d’oublier que les énergies dites «vertes» constituent le nouveau Graal des industriels. Les géants de l’économie mondiale tiennent désormais deux fers au feu: d’un côté, les «renouvelables» ; de l’autre, les hydrocarbures.
Contrairement au négoce des clarinettes, le commerce de l’énergie est condamné à tenir compte des enjeux stratégiques. Gazoducs et oléoducs doivent répondre à des critères de sécurité maximum pour irriguer les coeurs économiques. Au-delà du calcul classique de rentabilité, les sommes engagées intègrent une dimension politique et stratégique. Pour éviter les zones dangereuses et s’assurer le contrôle des routes, les grandes puissances se livrent des batailles épiques.
L’emprise des peuples sur leur avenir énergétique peut donc paraître bien limitée et la perspective d’une planète à dix milliards d’êtres humains obligera à rationaliser un secteur esclave des absurdités du marché. «En six heures, les déserts dans le monde reçoivent plus d’énergie que l’humanité entière n’en consomme en une année.» Cette citation orne le site Internet de la fondation Desertec, un projet intercontinental qui regroupe différents pays au sein d’un immense réseau de production d’énergie renouvelable spécialisée selon les milieux géographiques: panneaux solaires dans le désert, éoliennes sur les côtes, barrages dans les montagnes... Utopie éblouissante qui ne pourra nous faire oublier cette réalité: un tiers de l’humanité utilise encore exclusivement le bois et le charbon de bois pour se nourrir, se chauffer et travailler.

Texte adapté pour cette épreuve

Concilier travail et vie de famille reste compliqué

Concilier travail et vie de famille reste compliqué
Parce que la vie familiale relevait à leurs yeux de la sphère privée, les entreprises ont longtemps négligé les politiques de conciliation entre le travail et la famille. Mais depuis le début des années 2000, le vent a tourné: poussées par les instances européennes et les gouvernements français, elles sont aujourd'hui sommées, au nom de l'égalité hommes-femmes, d'inventer des politiques de soutien à la parentalité.
Mise en place, en 2004, du crédit d'impôt famille destiné à favoriser la création de crèches, lancement, en 2006, de chèques emploi-service pour financer les modes de garde: les pouvoirs publics demandent aux entreprises d'accompagner l'une des révolutions du XXe siècle, le travail féminin. De 1962 à 2005, le taux d'activité des femmes est passé de 42% à 82%: près de 60% des enfants de moins de 6 ans grandissent désormais au sein de couples "biactifs".
Pour mesurer les efforts des employeurs, l'Institut national des études démographiques (INED) a réalisé, en 2004-2005, une grande enquête sur les politiques de conciliation des entreprises. Près de 10.000 personnes de 20 à 49 ans et plus de 2500 entreprises de plus de vingt salariés ont été interrogées. Il s'agit, précise l'économiste Thomas Piketty dans sa préface, de "l'enquête la plus ambitieuse menée à ce jour sur l'articulation entre vie familiale et vie professionnelle".
Premier constat: malgré les efforts du secteur public et des grandes entreprises, les politiques de conciliation restent rares. Plus de la moitié des établissements (20% des salariés) n'offrent quasiment aucun soutien à la parentalité. "Les aides ne sont pas toujours bien ciblées et elles ne font que rarement l'objet d'une politique cohérente et délibérée".
Les entreprises font des gestes: beaucoup d'établissements ont ainsi mis en place des prestations financières à destination des familles, qu'il s'agisse de complément d'indemnisation aux congés maternité et paternité, de primes à la naissance ou d'aides aux frais de garde. Mais les services, notamment les crèches, restent rarissimes: en 2005, elles concernaient à peine 3% des établissements. Surtout, les entreprises rechignent à répondre à la principale revendication des salariés: l'introduction d'une certaine souplesse dans les horaires. "Lorsque des ajustements existent, ils concernent bien plus souvent des événements rares que l'organisation quotidienne du travail. Ainsi, des assouplissements d'horaires sont permis de façon ponctuelle le jour de la rentrée scolaire ou en cas d'enfant malade, mais il existe peu d'aménagements réguliers."
Deuxième constat: contrairement à ce que l'on dit souvent, l'entreprise est un lieu où les dissymétries hommes-femmes restent encore très marquées. Avant même de choisir un emploi, les femmes anticipent le fait qu'elles assumeront en moyenne 80% du noyau dur des tâches domestiques: elles accordent beaucoup plus d'importance que les hommes aux horaires, ce qui les cantonne souvent dans les emplois de "petits temps" (temps partiel).
Pour les chercheurs qui ont participé à ce travail, la conciliation travail-famille passe donc par une réflexion approfondie sur l'organisation du travail. Il faut, affirment-ils, rompre avec les cultures d'entreprises qui font de la présence un signe de motivation.
"Tant que les réunions importantes se tiendront à 19 heures, il est sans doute vain d'espérer une réelle égalité hommes-femmes dans les carrières professionnelles et les tâches domestiques".
Ils plaident aussi pour des politiques publiques ambitieuses - développement massif des modes de garde et création d'un congé parental plus court, mieux rémunéré et mieux partagé avec le père. Nicolas Sarkozy a promis une réforme du congé parental mais en matière d'offre de garde, les ambitions, en un an, ont été sérieusement revues à la baisse: après avoir annoncé la création de 350.000 places d'accueil pour les moins de 3 ans d'ici à 2012, le gouvernement évoque maintenant le chiffre de 200.000 places.
 Source : www.lemonde.fr
Texte adapté pour cette épreuve

Spain's economic problems change traditional holiday habits

Spain's economic problems change traditional holiday habits
There is a sign behind the counter of Trinxant Butcher's and Delicatessen beside a row of whole legs of cured Iberian ham which reads: "This year we're not closing for holidays." It is a trend that has been noticed in towns and cities around Spain. Stores, bars, market stalls and newspaper kiosks that used to close for August have decided to stay open. Cities continue to bustle with busy workers and traffic jams that traditionally disappeared in August.
Seville's city government announced last week it would be "open and fully active" all month. The annual August exodus is said to be vanishing like that other great Spanish cultural tradition, the siesta, as companies cut lunch breaks down from two or three hours to one.
The changing attitude to summer holidays is partly due to the crisis in the Spanish economy. The country has the highest level of unemployment in the EU at 21% and even higher at 46% among those under 24 years of age. In Catalunia, the region of north east Spain that includes Barcelona, 18% of the 7.5 million population are living below the poverty line, earning less than 640 euros a month. Many small businesses are struggling in these circumstances and few can afford the luxury of a month without earnings.
Adapted from The Guardian August 2011

Don't forget the classics

Girl reading all classic booksRead the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all. This seems good advice nowadays since most students read just a few classics in high school. Their teachers, tired of pushing teenagers through 19th century novels, long ago replaced traditional works with more reader-friendly texts. Consequently, we have a generation of students who never heard of Odysseus or turned on the switch in Victor Frankenstein's laboratory.
Students who are used to the pace of MTV and video games have less and less patience for slow-moving plot and detailed, descriptive passages. In an attempt to reach this new audience, teachers brought contemporary and multicultural literature into their classrooms. But there is the danger of forgetting literary criteria. Instead of choosing books with literary merit—universal themes, rich language, complex characters—teachers select simpler stories with 10 characters to whom they think their students can relate.

Spanish school is good for your kids

Spanish school is good for your kids
Studies have shown there are significant long term benefits to moving a child abroad and the younger the children are, the easier it will be for them to adapt to school in Spain.
Researchers from University College London conducted a study in 2004 which revealed that children who had moved abroad and learned a second language were more intelligent. A further study showed that children who had lived abroad had higher levels of resilience, a better understanding of the world and were more compassionate to people of different ethnicities. In simple terms, living abroad can increase both the intelligence and social capacity of a child.
Psychologists have found that the best age to move a child is either before the age of two or between the ages of six and eight. Between three and six, children seem to suffer a great deal of homesickness and after the age of eight they tend to struggle far more with the language barrier.
The number of foreigners in Spain is continually rising. Kids are surprisingly resilient and adapt quickly to their new lives. Those who have made the move often say that the quality of life for their children is far better in Spain than at home, due to more leisure time, an outdoors lifestyle and less crime.
Adapted from an Article by Jennifer Sheen from Spanish Living.com June 2011.

South Korea switches to digital textbooks in the classroom

South Korea switches to digital textbooks in the classroom
Image by Lee Jin-man/AP
South Korea is planning to change from paper to digital textbooks in the next few years. The content of South Korea’s school subjects will be available on PC’s, iPads and mobile phones by 2015. The education department has announced that South Korea is preparing for a new digital revolution that will change schools of the future.
The project was started last summer. Classrooms throughout the Asian country will be equipped with wireless LANs so that students can access learning materials whenever and wherever they want. Pupils will no longer have to carry heavy schoolbags.
Compared to South Korea, western nations lag behind. American president Barack Obama has announced that the United States is installing a national learning centre to improve teaching standards and develop new teaching methods.
Educational experts are currently discussing whether digital technology in the classroom makes a great difference. Some argue that bad pupils will stay bad even if they have a computer in front of them. They agree, however, that going digital could motivate children and help schools save money. The biggest problem is how to get teachers to integrate new technologies into their lessons.
Other experts focus on a social problem. Introducing digital learning materials to the classroom could create two groups of children; those who have access to these new technologies and are able to use them and those who do not. The first group will have advantages in getting a good job, the others will stay behind.
Critics also fear that digitizing all learning materials will result in lack of trust. People have more confidence in textbooks simply because content is written in print, whereas material published on the Internet is subject to scepticism.
Adapted from an Article by Liz Dwyer from Good Education July 2011.

The decline in home cooking

Image: Daragh Mc Sweeney
Once they were upheld as the paragons of feminine genius in the kitchen, but all that remains now of Les Mères de Lyon —the famous 20th-century French mother cooks— are their names. Mère Brazier may be written above the door of the restaurant at No. 12, Rue Royale in France's second major city, but there's a male chef in Eugenie Brazier's former kitchen. Mère Lea's stove at La Voûte (Chez Léa) is today tended by chef Philippe Rabatel and the restaurants of those equally renown priestesses, Mère Paulette Castaing and Marie Bourgeois, were long ago taken over by male chefs, who work very differently to their female forebears.
These bistros, or porte-pots as they were known, originated as places where the Lyon white-collar work force could stop and eat perfectly cooked, comforting, motherly food made from seasonal, often inexpensive ingredients.
Les Mères often worked with only one assistant, and their short menus and practical techniques are in marked contrast to the technique heavy "haute cuisine" prepared by brigades of male chefs today.
The decline in French home cooking—specifically the nurturing, bourgeois home cooking for which French women have always been admired-- joins a trend that has affected all major European nations as their societies and economic structures changed post World War II.
Home cooking is in decline in Southern Europe as it is in the northern and Nordic countries, yet in each there are variables in the style of change. It is happening faster in certain countries—such as the U.K., where total industrialization was complete in the 19th century—than others.
Analyzing the decline across these nations is mainly a matter of reading the figures for sales of convenience and fast food, and collecting statistics that mark change in attitude and trend. Market-research firm Euromonitor carried out a comprehensive study of changing habits across Europe from 2000–2007. It found that among large, less affluent populations in European countries, the take up of fast food and convenience food is increasing. The researcher's latest figures this year for sales of packaged food in the U.K., France, Italy, Denmark and Germany, for example, show an average increase of 15% in consumption.
But there is a parallel story of a much smaller number of wealthier women and men in the same countries becoming increasingly concerned about their health, trying organic and cooking fresh foods from scratch. When this group buys convenience food, they tend to buy the healthier, often natural or organic, option.
You cannot pin the demise of home cooking in European countries on a single issue. The loss of structured mealtimes can be put down to a number of causes including urbanization and smaller households, but the changing role of women in European society in the past 40 or 50 years is very significant. Exercising their right to equality in the workplace raises the family income and the hardpressed career woman relies more on prepared food or eating out when it comes to feeding her family. Mr. Marquis, an acclaimed chef, believes that aspirational tastes have put good traditional home cooking lower on the agenda in upwardly mobile European families. "In my youth, we had one car and ate very well on a budget supported only by my father's salary," he says. "Now everyone wants three cars, Apple technology and long-haul holidays, so both parents must work. Food becomes less significant," he adds.
There is the added dynamic that women are sometime sole breadwinners.
Their male partners can enthusiastically take up the home-cooking role. Male keenness for cookery remains in the margin of wealthier families, but there is a role reversal that fits with the eminence of chefs in the media and heading up kitchens in the world's "best restaurants."
Controversially, there is the accusation that liberated women (who gave up cooking) inadvertently generated a modern irresponsible food industry. The women that chose not to follow their mother and grandmother's career, left the door open. Had the food companies created a healthy surrogate for all and not just wealthy society—we might not have the fast-food industry and ensuing health problems, such as rising obesity. It is important to note that no feminist would have intended such an outcome, and that other environmental and economical factors have contributed to the problem.
It is not that women in Europe need leave their jobs and go back to housework, but families risk rearing a generation of "kitchen orphans," men and women who have never witnessed their parents cooking. There is no substitute for this; no popular TV chef can replace the effectiveness of the conversation about the right way to prepare a dish between mother and daughter, or indeed father and
son. The talented Les Mères gave up their kitchens to male chefs and their brigades of helpers, worn down by an unequal society that gave them too much work and little assistance, as did millions of stay-at-home mothers throughout Europe. In a culture where gender roles are more evenly balanced, there is a chance to revive the heroic, nurturing motherly food of each nation. It isn't just a sociological need, but an economic one. Mr. Marquis, whose life's work has been to emulate this, says a return to these basics is politically necessary. "In the past there were economic reasons for women getting out of the kitchen; now there is an economic reason for their simple, perfectionist cooking to be restored. This is the culture that is the envy of the world."

Cable's big fear: Internet TV

Cable's big fear: Internet TV
Force of habit is a powerful thing. How else can I explain why I spend $200 per month for a package of Internet, TV and telephone –most of which I don’t really need? My wife and I make most calls on our cell phones. An even bigger waste of money is TV, which accounts for $125 of the $200 package. Nearly everything we want we could get online. So why not just pay for the Internet and forget the rest?
Nielsen recently reported that although online video viewing has risen, TV viewing is still done on a traditional TV. But that’s not the case for younger people, like my pal Dan Frommer. He gets shows from the Internet via a Macintosh computer hooked to his LCD television. He can’t get everything he’d like to see. The next generation will likely never sign up for cable TV at all.
Cable companies are faced with a dilemma: do they embrace the Internet and try to make money online, or do they fight the Internet and try to hold off the destruction? The answer is to do both –holding off the rising tide with one hand while racing to devise workable Internet business models with the other.

Fathers fight for family flexy-time

Fathers fight for family flexy-time
Growing numbers of men are rejecting the culture of working long hours in favour of spending more time at home, according to a study which reveals a social revolution is taking place as fathers become increasingly involved in bringing up their children.
Men are a substantial and fast-rising proportion of those seeking their employer's permission to work flexi-time, with shorter hours or fewer days. But they face more obstacles to securing a better work-life balance than women.
In the last two years 1.2 million men, around 10 per cent of the mat workforce. have asked their employer if they can work flexibly. That is far less than the 2.3 million women (19 per cent) who have sought the same change in their hours, but a big increase on previous years.
‘ More men are seeking the right to switch to working flexi-time, a nine-day fortnight or four-day week so they can be around to help their children and partners. And even more would do so if the rules on flexible working were changed so that all workers, not just parents, could do that', said Jo Morris, the1TUC'swork-life balance policy officer.
Jenny Watson, the chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said the TUC's research confirmed that Britain was in the middle of 'a social revolution' in how much time fathers want to spend with their families. More fathers are more concerned to be more involved with their families than ever before. Their desire to do so is moving faster than politicians' attitude to this. ‘This is a very private revolution, which often happens within a family that has to make a decision about childcare, and it has gone relatively unnoticed by those making public policy', said Watson.
'While some employers are good on flexible working, in other workplaces there can be an assumption that flexible working is for mothers, and fathers can find it not just hard to get but even hard to ask for it, because the prevailing culture is that, if you request it, you aren't serious about your job,' said Watson.
Since April 2003 parents of children under six have been able to ask their employer to vary their hours of work. But employers are only legally obliged to give "reasonable consideration" to such requests.
'Employers' greater unwillingness to let male workers change their hours is unhealthy because it reinforces the pattern of women with children being locked into low-hours and low-paid jobs and deepens wonen’s financial dependence on men, such as in their pension prospects in old age,' said Morris.
1 Trade Union Congress
Although allowing flexible working leads to happier, more productive employees and greater staff retention, some employers see it as difficult to implement and unfair to other workers. There is a slow but definite trend towards a woman being the bread-winner in a growing number of households. The number of men choosing not to work at all so that they can look after their home or children has risen according to the Office of National Statistics.

Adapted © The Observer 2006

The most powerful woman in Hollywood

On the morning of 5th September 1932, the Hollywood producer Paul Beern was found dead on the floor of the house he shared with his new wife, the then popular actress Jean Harlow. The housekeeper rang Harlow, one of MGM's most glamorous stars, who was staying with her mother, and her mother. in turn, knew just who to call: not the police, not 311 ambulance. She called Howard Strickling, MGM's head of publicity.
Strickling spoonfed stories to the gossip columnists. When actors were hired at MGM they were immediately sent to Strickling's office, where he would ask, after hearing their life story. 'Are you holding anything back? Is there anything embarrassing in your past that we should know about? If you tell me now. I can make sure anything like that stays out of the press.’ Contractually speaking, the film studios in those days virtually owned the stars who worked for them and stage-managed their lives, and when that wasn't possible, their lives were rewritten with happier endings. Strickling, in the words of his biographer, 'was as likely to arrange a wedding as cover up a death.'
Although film studios no longer own their stars, publicists still wield the power in Hollywood and one of the most powerful is Pat Kingsley. She is feared by the press and revered by her clients. Stories of her techniques are legendary. Believing overexposure to be one of the prime risks of celebrity, she will drastically curb the number of interviews her clients give, she will demand that her stars appear on the cover of magazines or not at all, that they have the right to veto over writers and photographers, that they get copy approval, and often she herself will be present throughout the interview. In short, she will ensure that nothing escapes her control. If she doesn't like what a writer or magazine has done with one of her clients, she is reputed to forbid access to all of her other clients for ever more -- and she represents everyone (or did until recently). In the past 18 months she has been fired by Tom Cruise in favour of his fellow Scientologist sister (resulting in outlandish behaviour that vindicates, to most eyes. Kingsley's conviction in exercising restraint.)
Still, no one who relies on celebrity interviews to keep their circulation up dares to cross Pat Kingsley. If you have ever read an interteriew with say, Al Pacino, or Jodie Foster or, in the past, Nicole Kitdman, Julia Roberts or Tom Cruise, and found it somewhat unrevealing, you have Kingsley to thank. It would he hard to overstate the reach of Kingsley's invisible touch. For instance. many of her clients have come to rely on her opinion so extensively that they ask her advice on scripts they are sent. Another example: the work of Kingsley's company is 30 per cent corporate — they represent big companies like American Express, Reebok, Cadillac, among others, and their aim is to fuse their entertainment contact with their corporate clients. So. for example, their film star clients are driven to the Oscar Awards in Cadillacs; for Tom Cruise's film, Minority Report, Kingsley arranged for it that Cruise would walk into a shopping mall in which the shops and advertisements that were seen all belonged to her corporate clients. Her influence may be subliminal, but that's why it works - on all of us.
When I told one of my Los Angeles friends I was coming to meet Pat Kingsley, she gasped and said: 'Here that's like saying you're coming to meet the Queen.' All this was rather awe-inspiring and with some unease I waited for Kingsley to arrive. She eventually walks into the room. At 73, she has greying ash-blond hair, a well-meaning look in her eye and a leisurely Southern accent that seems in its lilt, conspiratorially sly. Kingsley, of course. plays down her power. She believes that stars can't be manufactured any more and she says that it is all based on the quality of their work, and that is something she is not responsible for. When I suggest that some excellent actors don't get the attention they deserve, meaning that there is more in the publicity aspect than she is letting on, she replies sympathetically, 'That's always been the case and always will be. Some of our best actors still struggle mightily to get work.'

Cell phone jammer

Cell phone jammer illegal - Uncle Sam
It might look like a walkie talkie, but that little box is more powerfull than you think. When a cell phone jammer is turned on, it can block any cell phone service in the area. Using one is not only a federal crime but is could result in a 16,000 dólares fine and jail time.
But that did not stop Eric, a man from Philadelphia, who was fed up whith the chatty cell phone talkers on the 44 bus. According to a TV channel, Eric would fire up that jammer when he did not want to hear the conversations. "A lot of people are extremely lod, no sense of privacy or anything. When it becomes a bother, that's when I screw on the antenna and flip the switch", Eric told the reporters.
Eric claimed that he did not know it was illegal to block a cell phone signe, and thought it was a "gray area". He said he was under the impression that it was only illegal when blocking television or radio signals. "I guess I'm taking the law into my own hands and, quite frankly, I'm proud of it", he added.
This type of jammers is illegal because they could prevent cell phone communication in emergencies and because they can block other important signals such as police radio. But the bigger issue is that Eric is not alone in this jamming practice. Jammer are easy to buy at sites on the Internet. Police reported that other people in the New Jersey and New York area are using them as well. Maybe Eric's story will remind them all of just how illegal using that powerful device is.

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.

Chaque femme est un roman

«Roman en liberté» et «livre foutraque1» de l'aveu même de son auteur, Chaque femme est un roman constitue le dernier volet d'une trilogie familiale entamée avec Le Zubial et poursuivie avec Le roman des Jardin. Après avoir dévoilé au grand jour les secrets d'une famille excentrique, Alexandre Jardin se concentre sur les «adorables perturbatrices» qui l'ont aidé à se construire et à penser autrement, «loin des glissières de sécurité». Jardin, pour qui les femmes sont des «tremplins vers le fabuleux», convoque un bouquet de créatures et de séducteurs. Voici notamment une blonde voisine qui fait l'amour «comme on sort de la route» alors qu'il essaye de réviser sagement pour son baccalauréat; une mère qui brûle sa bibliothèque; un ministre de la Ve République qui a fait le gigolo; ou cette Milou qui croit au pouvoir des mots. Le savoureux portrait de l'éditrice Françoise Verny vaut le détour. De l'Alexandre Jardin pur jus!
Je m'appelle Alexandre et je suis écrivain.
Longtemps je me suis cru l'héritier d'une famille givrée2, portée par l'écume du siècle et engagée dans des tournois sentimentaux qui me dépassaient - alors que je suis né de mes rencontres avec d'étourdissantes perturbatrices. Ce sont les femmes, en effet, qui m'ont appris à penser autrement, loin des glissières de sécurité. Les hommes, en revanche, ne sont pas mon genre. [...] L'improbable roman de mes apprentissages se confond avec celui de mes rapports avec des filles toquées de3 liberté. Toutes ont dynamité mes opinions ou fait craquer la tunique de mes réflexes trop sérieux.
Ma mère, la première, réprima mon inclination pour la tranquillité en faisant la guerre à mon fond d'idées stables. Saute toujours dans le vide, jamais dans ce plein, me répétait-elle souvent. Dans son esprit, cela signifiait torpiller l'idée même du repos. Chaque jour, je devais larguer les amarres, effondrer mes certitudes et, surtout, envisager l'inconcevable. Il ne fallait consentir à rien de fixe et à rien qui manquât de hauteur. Avide de tempéraments de son calibre, je me suis ensuite efforcé de dénicher des filles inclassables et souvent dénuées de ballast4 moral. Ces faux départs passionnels, à l'ouverture de ma vie, ne furent pas les moins formateurs. Le goût des femmes différentes, chez moi, a suppléé une fréquentation de l'université (où je n'ai fait qu'un saut tant je craignais d'y expier mon ignorance). Aujourd'hui encore, je continue à vivre des intérêts de ce pactole de liaisons et d'amitiés avec de robustes luronnes. C'est en faisant à leurs côtés l'expérience de l'inimaginable ou de l'impossible tenté que j'ai appris à apprendre et surtout à désapprendre.
- Des réservoirs sur les bateaux permettant de changer l’immersion ou l’équilibre.
Ce livre foutraque est le recueil de leurs préceptes, ou plutôt l'histoire électrique des interrogations qu'elles n'ont cessé d'allumer en moi. Parfois, il me semble que les femmes sont des tremplins vers le fabuleux. [...] Depuis mon plus jeune âge, je sais que chaque femme est un roman. Voici en quelque sorte mes études littéraires, blondes et brunes.
Ce volume, crucial à mes yeux, a failli ne pas voir le jour! [...] Pourquoi passe-t-on tant de temps à éluder ce qui nous est essentiel? Mi-avril 2007, je prends une décision difficile: je brûle l'ouvrage - fabriqué, chargé de brillances et finalement raté - sur lequel je m'échinais depuis plus d'un an. Quel soulagement! Façon sans doute de me sentir à nouveau fils de ma mère. [...] Je flambe donc ce manuscrit mort-né avec l'espoir que cette taille fera remonter en moi une sève franche. Au fond, j'ai moins été déçu par ce roman glacé que par l'homme déloyal que j'étais devenu en l'écrivant. Je m'y dérobais derrière des mots.
Illico, je préviens ma mère de mon autodafé. Fidèle à son logiciel d'aventurière brevetée, elle me rétorque:
- Bravo mon chéri! Je n'en attendais pas moins de toi. On devrait toujours flamber ses livres... Je recommande cette ascèse.
- Pourquoi?
- Pour ne pas vieillir avant l'heure. C'est pour cela que je n'ai jamais publié les miens...
- Tu as écrit des romans... toi aussi?
- Pour les brûler, cinq ou six. Tu vois, il arrive que nous soyons de la même famille... Curieuse lignée de brûleurs de livres...

Texte adapté. © Alexandre Jardin, Chaque femme est un roman.
(Encadré : © www.lire.fr) (696 mots)

Slow movement

Slow movement
The Slow Movement began with a protest against the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome that sparked the creation of the Slow Food organization. Over time, this developed into a subculture in other areas, such as Slow Travel, Slow Shopping and Slow Design. A principal characteristic of the Slow Movement is that it is propounded, and its momentum maintained, by individuals that constitute the expanding global community of Slow. Although it has existed in some form since the Industrial Revolution its popularity has grown considerably since the rise of Slow Food and Cittaslow in Europe, with Slow initiatives spreading as far as Australia and Japan.

 

Slow Parenting

Slow parenting encourages parents to plan less for their children, instead allowing them to enjoy their childhood and explore the world at their own pace. It is a response to hyper-parenting and helicopter parenting, the widespread trend for parents to schedule activities and classes after school every day and every weekend, to solve children´s problems, and to buy services from commercial suppliers rather than letting nature take its course. It was described most specifically by Carl Honoré in "Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From The Culture Of Hyper-Parenting".

 

Slow Travel

Supporters of slow travel argue that all too often the potential pleasure of the journey is lost by too eager anticipation of arrival. Slow travel is a state of mind which allows travellers to engage more fully with communities along their route, often favouring visits to spots enjoyed by local residents rather than merely following guidebooks. As such, slow travel shares some common values with ecotourism. Its supporters and devotees generally look for low-impact travel styles, even to the extent of avoiding flying.

 

Slow Art

Slow art is a developing movement championed by such proponents as Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic and columnist for the New York Times. It supports appreciating an art work in itself as opposed to a rapid, ephemeral state of art common in a chaotic societal setting. One of its central beliefs is that people often search what they already know as opposed to allowing the artist to present a journey or piece in itswhole.

Adapted from www.en.wikipedia.org

Les telephones intelligents, trop envahissants?

Les telephones intelligents, trop envahissants?
L'usage excessif des iPhone et Blackberry, commence à inquiéter certaines entreprises qui n'hésitent pas à les faire interdire pendant les réunions pour que les salariés restent concentrés.
Les "téléphones intelligents", trop intelligents, seraient-ils devenus la bête noire des entreprises ? La salve est venue d'Alain Afflelou qui s'est lancé dans une diatribe pour dénoncer les BlackBerry, le 12 novembre dernier sur Europe 1. Il mettait en avant la question de la sécurité, pour les données confidentielles, ainsi que l'addiction engendrée selon lui par les BlackBerry. Décision a été prise de les remplacer par un ordinateur portable, alors que c'est lui-même qui les avait introduits au sein de sa société, il y a un an.
Sans aller aussi loin qu'Alain Afflelou, des entreprises ont déjà commencé à les interdire pendant les réunions, pour que leurs salariés restent concentrés. Si pour le moment aucune étude sérieuse n'a été faite sur les dangers de ces supers téléphones au travail, Bernard Salengro, médecin du travail et membre de la CFE-CGC, la Confédération française de l'encadrement, joint par TF1 News, reconnaît plusieurs remontées de témoignages de la Médecine du travail qui confirment une dépendance à ces appareils. Il met en avant le manque de dialogue et le stress. Stress engendré, entre autre, "par le manque de séparation entre vie privée et publique". Il ajoute :"Les employés sont soumis a une pression permanente, ils ne se déplacent plus pour parler à un collègue mais communiquent uniquement par portable mobile. Il n'y a aucune pause pour le cerveau qui n'a pas été construit pour ce rythme là".
Virginie Govaere, chercheuse à l'INRS, dans le département "Homme au travail", rechigne à parler d'addiction mais constate qu'il y a "une segmentation de l'activité : ces outils, ultra-performants, nous interrompent, demandent des décisions rapides sans le temps de la réflexion et à chaque interruption demandant un effort de reconcentration".
D'autres pays ont commencé à s'alarmer de ce phénomène. Le site BusinessMobile.fr rapporte que le phénomène d'addiction aux terminaux BlackBerry inquiète les autorités canadiennes. Selon Reuters, Richard Fadden, ministre adjoint de la Citoyenneté et de l'Immigration au Canada, a envoyé une consigne à ses employés pour appeler à un usage raisonnable du terminal. Dans sa lettre il recommande à ses équipes d'éteindre leur appareil entre 19h et 7h ainsi que le week-end et en période de congés.
D'après le journal britannique Independent on Sunday plus d'un tiers des utilisateurs de BlackBerry au Royaume-Uni, montrent des signes d'addiction presque semblable à des symptômes de l'alcoolisme. Aux Etats-Unis, certaines entreprises auraient déjà fait l'objet de plaintes de la part de leurs employés qui les accusent d'être directement responsables de leur divorce. Le Blackberry plus fort qu'une maîtresse ? 
Source: ©  TF1 News le 19 novembre 2009

The story of newspapers

The story of newspapers by W.D. Siddle

Read about the ancestors of our newspapers

The oldest British national newspaper is about one hundred and eighty-five years old, but news-sheets of various kinds have been known in different parts of the world for many centuries. The Romans sent news in the form of letters to their distant soldiers. There was no paper, as we know it, in those days. Few people could read. The messages were hand-written on a material made from the skin of a sheep, and read aloud to the soldiers.
In 60 B.C., Emperor Julius Caesar started a daily bulletin in the Forum at Rome. The Forum was the meeting place of the Senators who governed the city. The bulletin was fixed at a convenient point where the senators could read the news on their way to and from their discussions.
This method of giving information is still used today. Notices and bulletins are pinned to notice boards in offices and factories; schools and colleges run wall newspapers. Typed sheets of news or articles are placed on large notice boards. The entire contents of the board are changed at fixed intervals, in the same way as a new edition of a newspaper is printed daily or weekly.
In the 16th century, the commonest form of news-sheet was a leaflet, consisting of a single sheet printed on one side only. Leaflets were sold in markets and country fairs on the Continent, and English translations appeared in this country. The leaflets were published only when there was news of wars, battles or disasters. No-one had yet thought of publishing a bulletin regularly.
The first English publication to contain domestic news appeared in 1641. It was called Diurnal Occurrences, and it was concerned mainly with the activities of Parliament. This was just before the start of the Civil War, in 1642.
In 1665, the first number of a twice-weekly paper, The Oxford Gazette, was published. A few months later the name was changed to The London Gazette. This paper was the official paper of the Government. It did not contain news, and it did not try to entertain. It circulated among people such as bankers, solicitors and Members of Parliament.
Adapted from© The Story of Newspapers, by W.D. Siddle, Wills & Hepworth Ltd.

Cash rains down from skies

Cash rains down from skies
The people who were at Lewes Harbor (Delaware, USA) on the evening of August 17 got lucky because there and then $10,000 dropped from the sky. A helicopter flew above the marina for around five minutes dropping $50, $20, $10 and $5 bills on the amazed and appreciative crowd.
Anthony Guzzetti, a bartender at the marina, said he sprinted for the cash with about 50 other people. It was so strange that he thought: “Is this happening?” Guzzetti said he collected about $100. He also said he saw people swimming to grab notes that had landed in the water. Waiter Mark Tappan said, “I was eating chicken wings and watching money fall from the clouds”.
Lewes police said they were aware of the planned event and had sent an officer to the area to make sure there was no fighting. However, there was no dispute or arguing, and some people were fortunate enough to leave with as much as $700.
This bizarre act of kindness came courtesy of a Lewes resident, Leonard Maull, who had died the year before. His lawyer made sure the plan he had written into his will was carried out accordingly: exactly on the first anniversary of his death, the money should be dropped from a helicopter flying over the marina, which he apparently used to visit at least once a day.
Whatever reason Maull had for his unique gift, it certainly brought excitement to the people in Lewes. Unfortunately, no one got any pictures of the event because they were too busy finding free money – so those who were there had to rely on their storytelling skills to capture the moment.

Pubs in Derry

Sugar Niteclub ( Downeys Bar)

1- Café Roc 1, College Terrace

Very fashionable pub that is divided into two parts. The best of these two parts is the ground floor with good music like pop or rock. There is a dance floor and also seats and tables. Although it is not one of the cheapest places in Derry, some days it is too busy and it is difficult to move around inside.
Pint price: 2.20 pounds (except special offers)
Anecdotes: The DJ is so nice that you are allowed to choose the music if there are just a few people.

 

2- Sandino's Water Street

It is more similar to a typical Irish pub at least on the ground floor. It is a suitable place to have your drink and talk without hearing loud music. The first floor is like a disco, where the music is louder. This floor is better for dancing.
Pint price: 2.20 pounds
Anecdotes: This pub is full of photos of Che Guevara, Sandino,…

 

3- The Ice Wharf 22, Strand Road

It is not a dancing venue, but it is a comfortable place to have a drink and to talk.
During the day you can also have meals. It is cheap, and also, every night, there are different promotions. The Ice Wharf is a big place and it has comfortable seats.
Opening hours: open during all day
Anecdotes: It has the best toilets in Derry. They are better than the bar itself.

 

4- Sugar Niteclub ( Downeys Bar) 33, Shipquay Street

Opposite the River Inn, Sugar Nightclub is a nice place playing all types of music to suit all tastes. It has two floors, but there is no difference between these ones.
Like most of the places in Derry, there is a dance floor and places to sit.
Anecdotes: One night they played songs by Bob Dylan, Shakira and Barry White in this order.

 

5- The River Inn Shipquay Street

It is the oldest pub in Derry. Good place, good atmosphere, good people, good offers. It has two floors. One of them is the typical Irish pub (the ground floor), the other one is like a club (the subterranean floor).
Pint prices: 2.20 pounds. ☺ 1.00 pound on Sundays and Thursdays
Anecdotes: One of the waiters has no idea about serving drinks. In the ground floor there are only old people.

 

6- Jackie Mullans: 13, Little James Street

Club with three floors with no difference between them. You only can hear disco, dance, techno music, and it is a really expensive place. The pint price is the most expensive one in Derry. It is really strangely decorated, and it is very hot.
Pint price: 3.20 pounds
Anecdotes: There was a horrible lamp decorated with dead fish.
The seats remind one of the TV programme (with Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox, hummmmmmm…) "Friends".
One of the waiters, apart from being really ugly, is really unfriendly and unpleasant.

 

7- Becketts 26-28 Foyle Street

It is an expensive pub without any interest. We have spent lots of nights there, and we are very ashamed about this. Becketts is the place where the biggest Spanish parties took place. The music is awful. Although the DJ is a very good guy.
Anyway, it is a good place to give up drinking and start studying English!
Pint price: 2.20 pounds
Anecdotes: The bouncers are really rude and they shout a lot. It is something very unpleasant for us.

Source: adaptado de un texto que se encuentra en la siguiente dirección: Isabel Pérez

Married at eleven

Married at eleven
Children are suffering in many parts of the world, like those young girls who have to do domestic labour and are forced to get married at an early age. Nada Al-Ahdal, an 11-year-old girl from Yemen, whose parents arranged to marry her off to a wealthy man, posted a video on YouTube explaining why she ran away to avoid a forced marriage: “I would have had no life, no education. Don’t they have any compassion? I’m better off dead. I’d rather die than be forced into an arranged marriage.”
The girl said she would not accept it, and went to live with her uncle, potentially risking her life. “Some children decided to throw themselves into the sea, and they’re dead now. They have killed our dreams, they have killed everything inside us.
There’s nothing left. There is no education. This is criminal, this is simply criminal,” she said. Nada’s uncle, Abdel, said it was the second time he protected his niece from being married at such a young age. “When I heard about the wedding, I panicked,” he said. “Nada was not even 11 years old; she was exactly 10 years and 3 months. I could not allow her to be married off and have her future destroyed.”
He added: “I did all I could to prevent that marriage. I called the groom and told him Nada was not suitable for him. I told him she did not wear the veil and he asked if things were going to remain like that. I said ‘yes, and I agree because she chose it.’” Nada’s future is still uncertain, like the future of many other young girls in the same situation.

Reality TV

Reality TV
There's a new kind of programme on television, and it's hardly like television at all! It's called reality TV and, as the name suggests, it is supposed to show us something very real. The participants aren't actors at all, but ordinary people in their daily lives. We, the viewers, might see them eating, sleeping, arguing or having a good time. We can hear all their conversations and watch their every move. Reality shows, therefore, are not regular television programmes at all. Instead they give us a close-up look into other people's lives. 
Why have reality shows become so popular? What makes us want to watch reality shows on TV? To begin with, we feel that we get to know the participants. We know their names from the beginning and gradually we learn more about them. We might even come to like some of them. Others, we might not like at all! Reality shows take us inside the lives of other people. Mostly, people wonder what it's like to be someone else. Experiencing other people's lives can be a great escape from our own. 
Some people say this has a very healthy effect on society and it's a harmless and entertaining way of passing the time. Other people, however, are not in favour of reality TV. Critics say that it is not really entertainment at all. What could be entertaining about two people doing their laundry or preparing the evening meal? Who wants to watch that? Who wants to hear all of their secrets and gossip? Some social scientists even say that reality TV could have damaging effects on society. 
What kinds of people take part in reality programmes? Well, since the participants may win a prize, they might be doing it for the money. There could be other reasons as well. For example, the participants on these shows become well known to the viewers. They may even become famous and find more work in TV after the reality show ends. Not only that, but some people may really like the attention of millions of eyes on them every day and night. Clearly, reality TV is not for shy people! 
New reality shows appear all the time. They can take place on a farm, in an apartment or even on an island. Each time a new show begins, it seems to be even more daring than the previous one. What do you think the future holds for reality TV? Could the next show take place in your city, neighbourhood or school? Eventually, the day may come when we can all be part of reality TV
Source: Adapted from article: “Reality Shows” by Chris Dufford.
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