Monday, December 14, 2009

How To Live Longer :)

It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting medical studies:

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

2. The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
3. The Japanese drink very little red wine and and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
4. The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink whatever you like. Speaking English is what kills you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

UP :)

English is a difficult language!

Lovers of the English language enjoy this. It is an example of why people learning English have trouble. Learning the nuances of English makes it a difficult language.

This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word,
and that word is
'UP.' It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].

It's easy to understand
UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning,
why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP, and why are the officers UP
for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends and we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.
At other times the little word has a real special meaning. People stir
UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed
UP is special.
And this up is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open
UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of
UP, look up
the word UP
in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions

If you are
to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP
a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding
UP . When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets
UP the earth. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP. One could go on & on, but I'll wrap it
UP , for now time is UP. more thing:
What is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night?


Don't screw
up. Send this on to everyone you look up in your address book...

Now I'll shut

You can find more funny texts like this on the website Laugh 'n Learn.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Los estudiantes en la escena pública

Los universitarios no están al margen de lo que ocurre. Hacen política pero de manera distinta a la que se realiza a través de los partidos. Quieren una democracia de verdad y desearían participar en un ágora limpia.

El País, 12 de noviembre de 2009

Desde hace ya muchos años se viene diciendo que los estudiantes universitarios pasan de la política o la desprecian. Pero ¿realmente es así? Los estudios sociológicos que se han hecho en España y en otros países parecen confirmar esa impresión. Y lo que se escucha al respecto en las universidades parece ir en la misma dirección. La mayoría de los profesores universitarios que tienen contacto directo con los estudiantes fuera de las aulas estaría de acuerdo en que es así. Y algunos de estos profesores lo han dicho en las últimas décadas, unas veces describiendo sin más lo que ven y lo que oyen en las universidades, y otras, con cierta preocupación por lo que consideran desafección de los jóvenes respecto de las instituciones democráticas. También yo he tenido experiencias en estos últimos años que van por el mismo camino. No hace mucho, al anunciar un curso sobre ética y filosofía política, varios estudiantes vinieron a preguntarme de qué iba a tratar en realidad, y ya antes de que empezara a describir el temario, me adelantaron: "Porque si va a tratar usted de ética nos matriculamos, pero si va a hablar de política no nos interesa". Más claro, agua. (...)

Francisco Fernández Buey es catedrático de Filosofía Moral y Política en la Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Amenábar's ÁGORA

Set in 4th-century Roman Egypt, Rachel Weisz plays astrologer-philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria, an atheist scientist who fights to save the collected wisdom of the ancient world. Her slave Davus (played by Max Minghella) is torn between his love for his mistress and the possibility of gaining his freedom by joining the rising tide of Christianity. Ágora is a historical epic story about the clash between scientific knowledge and superstition, free thinking and religious fanaticism. Spectacular and highly entertaining, this is Alejandro Amenábar at his best.

Filmed in English, the original version has been released only in major Spanish cities.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Flamenco Project

Flamenco has attracted significant international interest since the early 1900s. The 1960s and 1970s witnessed an unprecedented "foreign invasion" of committed and adventurous musicians traveling far from their homes and cultures to experience flamenco first-hand in the pueblos of Andalusia. Many not only lived the life and studied the music, but also documented their experience at its heart and core with photographs, audio recordings and films. It was an extraordinary period of cross-cultural exchange made possible by the generosity and openness of many of the great flamenco artists of the 20th Century.

The Flamenco Photo Project consists of a growing collection of more than one hundred images culled from the work of 12 photographers, all non-Spaniards and lovers of the art of Flamenco. They have seen things as others have not, bringing a fresh and vivid point of view to the visual history of the Flamencos from 1960 to 1985. The Flamenco Project is dedicated to assembling, preserving and publishing these unique documents of that memorable time.

The Flamenco Project Collection is now on display at two of the Cajasol exhibitions halls in Seville (Sala Imagen + Sala Chicarreros) until November 1st. A must-see! You can access the online photo gallery by clicking on the title link above.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Spanish Conservatives and Spanish Socialists reject legislating against festivals involving cruelty to animals: "Why is it that they are only able of reaching consensus at our expense!"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

100% Tarantino

A band of US soldiers facing death by firing squad for their misdeeds are given a chance to save themselves - by heading into the perilous no-man's lands of Nazi-occupied France on a suicide mission for the Allies... Inglorious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino at his best! Spoken in English, German, French (and a little Italian, enough to make you crack up in your seat), make sure to watch it in the original version, as regional accents do play an important role in the storyline. If you weren't a Tarantino fan before, your are surely bound to become one after this hair-raising thriller! A truly cathartic anti-Nazi experience. Watched it only last night and I am still palpitating with excitement :) A must-see film!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

La universidad europea ya habla inglés

La universidad europea ya habla inglés. ¿Y los alumnos? La lengua franca cobra fuerza. La oferta en este idioma y el nivel del estudiantado son claves para el éxito del espacio único europeo. Un reportaje de SUSANA PÉREZ PABLOS para El País, 12/09/2009

¿En qué lengua puede estudiar una carrera un español en Polonia? ¿Y un polaco en España? ¿Y un alemán en Suecia? ¿Y un francés en Lituania? La riqueza de idiomas de la UE juega en contra de la materialización del espacio común europeo de universidades que persigue, como uno de los objetivos más relevantes, fomentar la movilidad de estudiantes. Suena bien, pero ¿en qué lengua van a estudiar esos alumnos para poder entender bien los contenidos de ingeniería, historia del arte o sociología? Descartado hace tiempo el esperanto, todo apunta a que la lengua franca va a ser el inglés. En futuro, porque aún no lo es. Sí en el mundo empresarial o en el de la investigación. Pero este aspecto, que requiere una inversión (no sólo económica, principalmente organizativa y de impulso político) a medio-largo plazo no está exento de dificultades... (Pare leer el resto del reportaje, cliquea en el enlace del título)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Saving You from Bad Cinema Choices is a very interesting Irish site for film lovers!

Climate Change: Let's FACE IT

Climate change is not just an environmental issue; it is a human rights issue, an issue of global justice.

Millions of people living in the developing world are already feeling the devastating impacts of climate change. They will continue to be hit first, worst and hardest by climate change, a problem they did not create.

Now is the time for urgent action and justice on climate change. In the lead-up to crucial UN global climate change negotiation in Copenhagen this December, add you name and make a difference.

Join our campaign today to send a clear message to our Government calling for much needed leadership and action to ensure a fair and safe future for all.

Take Action Now

Pink Diplomacy

Minister takes 'pink diplomacy' to anti-gay nations
August 16, 2009

The gay Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant is championing a controversial drive to fund equal-rights activists in homophobic regimes. British missions in countries such as Jamaica, where homosexual acts are punishable by long jail terms, and Nigeria, where they can lead to the death penalty, are being encouraged to “support progress” by financing gay pride marches and legal challenges from local campaigners.

As well as targeting Commonwealth countries, “pink diplomacy” will extend to eastern Europe, where gays have suffered brutal attacks from far-right groups. Opportunities to tackle discrimination in ultra-conservative nations, such as Iran, are also being considered - cautiously.
The move risks a backlash from countries where support for homosexuality runs contrary to state teaching and religious beliefs.

The fact that the initiative is being promoted by Bryant, a former Anglican curate, could exacerbate things. Bryant, 47, said: “It is completely up to staff in our embassies and consulates around the world to decide the most appropriate and effective way of making our case but we do encourage this important work because British values are based on fair play and the protection of the individual’s freedom. We are not naive about this work. In some places oppressive regimes make it some of the toughest work we do.”
Bryant thanked Robin Barnett, the ambassador to Bucharest, for attending a gay pride march in the Romanian capital that had previously been targeted by thugs hurling fireworks and stones. A 2008 study by the European Commission ranked Romania as the most homophobic in the European Union.
Officials confirmed this weekend that the new policy included financial backing. A Foreign Office briefing document sent to British missions, said Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Nigeria and Uzbekistan were “countries of particular concern”.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Man's First Step on the Moon

On July 16, 1969, three astronauts embarked on a mission to reach the moon. Four days later, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on an extraterrestrial body.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tackling the drinking problem

Should the drinking age be raised and alcohol banned in public places?
By Nigel Morris, The Independent
Published: 16 August 2007

Why are we asking this now?
The murder of Garry Newlove, who was killed after he confronted a group of vandals outside his home in Cheshire, has prompted a plea by the county's Chief Constable for strong action to combat drinking among young people. Peter Fahy has called for the minimum drinking age to be raised from 18 to 21, for alcohol to be banned in most public places, for the price of beer and spirits to be raised and for tougher controls on the sale of drink.

Controversy also continues over the impact of the liberalisation in 2005 of the licensing laws, with Devon and Cornwall police this week reporting a 50 per cent rise in violent attacks in pubs and nightclubs since the reform.

How bad is the problem?
Anyone visiting the centre of a city or major town on a Friday or Saturday night is likely to be in little doubt that binge-drinking among young people is a serious problem. It is nothing new in British life. Riots broke out in the 1740s over the high taxes on gin, the Temperance Movement was founded in 1835 in response to fears over public drunkenness and tough licensing laws were passed in 1914 to stop the war effort being undermined by excess alcohol consumption.

However, the number of teenagers who drink regularly appears to have climbed sharply over the past two decades. Among 35 European nations, Britain had the third highest number of 15-year-olds (24 per cent) who said they had been inebriated at least 10 times in the past year. Teenage drinkers are consuming more alcohol and more often.

Increasing alcohol consumption is inevitably linked to crime and anti-social behaviour. There were 1,087,000 violent incidents in 2006-07 in which the victim believed their offender had been drinking, an increase of 6 per cent on the previous year.

Who is to blame for teenage drunkenness?
It is becoming relatively cheaper to get drunk, with alcohol now costing 54 per cent less in real terms than it did in 1980.

The introduction of cut-price happy hours in "vertical drinking" establishments and price-cutting competition between supermarkets have acted as a brake on the rising cost of alcohol. The popularity of drinks targeted at young adults - alcopops in the 1990s and high-strength bottled lager this decade - has drawn more youngsters into bars.

Despite successive enforcement campaigns, under-age drinkers appear to have few problems getting their hands on beer and spirits. Somerset police said yesterday that 67 per cent of pubs and clubs and more than a third of off-licences sold alcohol to children during an undercover operation. The police, however, can do little about adults buying alcohol for under-18s or about teenagers knocking back drink they find at home. And making alcohol more expensive or more difficult to acquire is tackling the problem's symptoms, rather than its causes. Are parents turning a blind eye to drinking by their children? And what messages are being sent out to our youth by the British tolerance, and arguably glamorisation, of drunkenness?

Has 24-hour licensing made a difference?
The 2005 Licensing Act enabled pubs, clubs, restaurants and off-licences to open around the clock, although in practice most have only applied for moderate increases to opening hours. Ministers argued that the move would help encourage the growth of a more civilised Continental-style cafe culture, while critics warned that levels of alcohol-fuelled trouble would rocket. The jury is out over the impact of the Act. The latest figures showed 940,522 violent crimes and cases of disorder and criminal damage were committed from 6pm to 6am in the year after licensed premises were allowed to open later, which is a negligible 0.7 per cent increase on the 933,701 recorded in the previous year.

Would raising the drinking age tackle the problem?
Mr Fahy argues that increasing the limit would send out a signal of society's determination to tackle drunkenness. The same radical conclusion was reached recently in a report by the left-leaning think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research. Alternatively, it called for teenage drinking to be controlled by a smart-card system.

Its author, Jasper Gerard, argued: "By raising the age threshold it is at least possible that those in their early and mid teens will not see drink as something they will soon be allowed to do, so therefore they might as well start doing it surreptitiously now. Instead they might come to see it as it should be: forbidden."

The Home Office Minister Meg Hillier firmly ruled out such a step yesterday, arguing that it would "demonise or prevent a lot of adults who are drinking quite responsibly".

Raising the limit would put Britain out of step with the rest of western Europe, where levels of drunkenness are lower but minimum drinking ages range between 14 and 18. The United States has a 21-year-old limit on buying alcohol, although some states allow consumption under that age. A limit of 19 applies in most of Canada and 18 in Australia.

Should we ban drinking in public places?
Local authorities have the power to outlaw alcohol consumption in designated areas and 100 councils have followed the lead of Coventry, which imposed the first ban 20 years ago. However, Mr Fahy wants to turn around the presumption of the law, requiring councils to apply for special permission to allow public drinking, modelling the move on the recently imposed smoking ban.

Again, a Government which has spoken of encouraging more civilised drinking has given a chilly response to the idea. Any politician who attempted to ban al fresco drinking would take a gamble. It could lead to the most unlikely people becoming criminalised - the family who have a bottle of beer with their picnic or the music fans who enjoy an open-air concert with a bottle of wine.

What is the Government doing?
There is no question the Government recognises it has a problem on its hands, although the extent to which it can influence a long-term social trend is clearly limited.

To the delight of tabloid newspapers that have denounced the new licensing laws, Gordon Brown has ordered a review of 24-hour drinking which will report by the end of the year. It is unlikely to find enough evidence to justify overturning the legislation.

A further Department of Health review into the cost of alcohol could respond to doctors' and campaigners' concerns by backing an increase in alcohol duties. Again it would be a brave politician that campaigns on increases in the price of a pint of beer or bottle of wine - even though the ill effects of alcohol cost society £20bn a year.

Should the legal drinking age rise?

* The move would send out a strong message of society's abhorrence of drunkenness
* Young adults would start drinking at an older age, with benefits for their health
* Banning teenagers from buying alcohol could cut alcohol-fuelled rowdiness

* It would be a nonsense when youngsters can marry at 18 or drive at 17
* No other western European nation bans alcohol until the age of 21 and most have lower drunkenness rates
* It would be unfair on the majority of young adults who drink responsibly and in moderation

Sunday, July 12, 2009

As Consumerism Spreads, Earth Suffers

Hillary Mayell
National Geographic News
January 12, 2004

Americans and Western Europeans have had a lock on unsustainable over-consumption for decades. But now developing countries are catching up rapidly, to the detriment of the environment, health, and happiness, according to the Worldwatch Institute in its annual State of the World report.

To provide enough beef, chicken, and pork to meet the demand, the livestock industry has moved to factory farming. Chickens at a typical farm are kept in cages with about nine square inches (about 60 square centimeters) of space per bird. To force them to lay more eggs, they are often starved. Chickens slaughtered for meat are first fattened up with hormones, sometimes to the point where their legs can no longer support their weight.

Crowded conditions can lead to the rapid spread of disease among the animals. To prevent this, antibiotics are included in their feed. The World Health Organization reports that the widespread use of these drugs in the livestock industry is helping breed antibiotic-resistant microbes, complicating the treatment of disease in both animals and people.

Not Much Happier

The increase in prosperity is not making humans happier or healthier, according to several studies. Findings from a survey of life satisfaction in more than 65 countries indicate that income and happiness tend to track well until about $13,000 of annual income per person (in 1995 dollars). After that, additional income appears to produce only modest increments in self-reported happiness.

Increased consumerism evidently comes at a steep price. People are incurring debt and working longer hours to pay for the high-consumption lifestyle, consequently spending less time with family, friends, and community organizations.

"Excess consumption can be counterproductive," said Gardner. "The irony is that lower levels of consumption can actually cure some of these problems." Approximately 1.7 billion people worldwide now belong to the "consumer class"—the group of people characterized by diets of highly processed food, desire for bigger houses, more and bigger cars, higher levels of debt, and lifestyles devoted to the accumulation of non-essential goods.

Today nearly half of global consumers reside in developing countries, including 240 million in China and 120 million in India—markets with the most potential for expansion.

"Rising consumption has helped meet basic needs and create jobs," Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute said in a statement to the press. "But as we enter a new century, this unprecedented consumer appetite is undermining the natural systems we all depend on, and making it even harder for the world's poor to meet their basic needs."

The report addresses the devastating toll on the Earth's water supplies, natural resources, and ecosystems exacted by a plethora of disposable cameras, plastic garbage bags, and other cheaply made goods with built in product-obsolescence, and cheaply made manufactured goods that lead to a "throw away" mentality.

"Most of the environmental issues we see today can be linked to consumption," said Gary Gardner, director of research for Worldwatch. "As just one small example, there was a story in the newspaper just the other day saying that 37 percent of species could become extinct due to climate change, which is very directly related to consumption."

From Luxuries to Necessities

Globalization is a driving factor in making goods and services previously out of reach in developing countries much more available. Items that at one point in time were considered luxuries—televisions, cell phones, computers, air conditioning—are now viewed as necessities.

China provides a snapshot of changing realities. For years, the streets of China's major cities were characterized by a virtual sea of people on bicycles, and 25 years ago there were barely any private cars in China. By 2000, 5 million cars moved people and goods; the number is expected to reach 24 million by the end of next year.

In the United States, there are more cars on the road than licensed drivers. Increased reliance on automobiles means more pollution, more traffic, more use of fossil fuels. Cars and other forms of transportation account for nearly 30 percent of world energy use and 95 percent of global oil consumption.

Changing diet, with a growing emphasis on meat, illustrates the environmental and societal toll exacted by unbridled consumption. Diets of highly processed food and the sedentary lifestyle that goes with heavy reliance on automobiles have led to a worldwide epidemic of obesity. In the United States, an estimated 65 percent of adults are overweight or obese, and the country has the highest rate of obesity among teenagers in the world. Soaring rates of heart disease and diabetes, surging health care costs, and a lower quality of day-to-day life are the result.

Some aspects of rampant consumerism have resulted in startling anomalies. Worldwatch reports that worldwide annual expenditures for cosmetics total U.S. $18 billion; the estimate for annual expenditures required to eliminate hunger and malnutrition is $19 billion. Expenditures on pet food in the United States and Europe total $17 billion a year; the estimated cost of immunizing every child, providing clean drinking water for all, and achieving universal literacy is $16.3 billion.

There is, of course, no easy solution to the problem. The authors call for green taxes (to reflect the true environmental costs of a product), take-back programs that require manufacturers to recycle packaging or goods, and consumer education and awareness programs.

But first and foremost we need to reorient our way of thinking, says Gardner. "The goal is to focus not so much on sacrifice, but on how to provide a higher quality of life using the lowest amount of raw materials," he said. "We need to change the way we produce goods and the way we consume them."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Seville, 40 years after Stonewall

The giant Rainbow Flag erected by Seville's Town Hall at the Glorieta Olímpica, by the Alamillo bridge, to celebrate Gay Pride Week 2009 and commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which marked the start of the gay civil rights movement both in the US and around the world.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Visitor_film

The Visitor is a heartfelt, humanistic drama that deftly explores identity, immigration, and other major post-9/11 issues.

Synopsis: In a world of six billion people, it only takes one to change your life. In actor and filmmaker Tom McCarthy’s follow-up to his award winning directorial debut The Station Agent, Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) stars as a disillusioned Connecticut economics professor whose life is transformed by a chance encounter in New York City.

Sixty-two-year-old Walter Vale (Jenkins) is sleepwalking through his life. Having lost his passion for teaching and writing, he fills the void by unsuccessfully trying to learn to play classical piano. When his college sends him to Manhattan to attend a conference, Walter is surprised to find a young couple has taken up residence in his apartment. Victims of a real estate scam, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a Syrian man, and Zainab (Danai Gurira), his Senegalese girlfriend, have nowhere else to go. In the first of a series of tests of the heart, Walter reluctantly allows the couple to stay with him.

Touched by his kindness, Tarek, a talented musician, insists on teaching the aging academic to play the African drum. The instrument’s exuberant rhythms revitalize Walter’s faltering spirit and open his eyes to a vibrant world of local jazz clubs and Central Park drum circles. As the friendship between the two men deepens, the differences in culture, age and temperament fall away.

After being stopped by police in the subway, Tarek is arrested as an undocumented citizen and held for deportation. As his situation turns desperate, Walter finds himself compelled to help his new friend with a passion he thought he had long ago lost. When Tarek’s beautiful mother Mouna (Hiam Abbass) arrives unexpectedly in search of her son, the professor’s personal commitment develops into an unlikely romance.

And it’s through these new found connections with these virtual strangers that Walter is awakened to a new world and a new life.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Home_the trailer

Home, a documentary by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, renowned photographer of "Earth From Above" fame, will air this Friday on the National Geographic Channel at 9 p.m. Check out the High Definition trailer on YouTube! It is awesome!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Way We Are :)

La siguiente nota se distribuyó en las oficinas gubernamentales con idea es instar a los componentes hispanos de cada equipo a comportarse adecuadamente en un ambiente multicultural, sobre todo en lo que respecta al uso adecuado del lenguaje.


It's been brought to our attention by several officials visiting our establishments that offensive language is commonly used by our Spanish staff. Such behaviour, in addition to violating our group's policy, is highly unprofessional, and offensive to both visitors and the proper staff. Therefore, it is requested to our Spanish staff to adhere immediately to the following rules:

1. Foreign colleagues or visitors should not be referred to as "otro guiri de mierda" or "menudo gilipollas el noruego ese".

2. Words like "coño", "hostia", and other such expressions will not be used for emphasis, no matter how heated the discussion.

3. You will not say "la ha cagao" when someone makes a mistake, or "la está cagando" if you see somebody being reprimanded, or "vaya cagada" when a major mistake has been made. All direct or derived forms of the verb "cagar" are inappropriate in our environment.

4. No Project Manager, Section, Head or Administration Chief, will be referred to, under any circumstances, as "el hijo la gran puta" or "el muy cabrón", or even "el comemierda ese".

5. Lack of determination will not be referred as to "falta de huevos" or "mariconería", nor will persons with a lack of initiative be referred to as "capullo" or "acojonao".

6. Usual and/or creative ideas shall not be referred to as "pajas mentales", in particular when they stem from your manager.

7. You will not say "cómo me jode este tío" or "me está tocando los cojones" if a person is persistent, or "está bien jodido" or "se lo van a follar" if a colleague is going through a difficult situation. Furthermore, when matters become complicated the words "vaya jodienda" should not be used.

8. When asking someone to leave you alone, you must not say "vete a la mierda", nor should you ever substitute the most educated 'may I help you?' with "y ahora ¿qué coño quieres?"

9. If things get tough, an acceptable expression such as 'we are going through a difficult time' should be used, rather than "esto está jodido" or "nos van a follar a todos". Additionally if you make a mistake, just say so and do not say "¡qué putada!" or any expression composed with the root "puta".

10. No salary increase shall never be referred as "subida de mierda".

11. Last but not least, after reading this note please do not say "me voy a limpiar el culo con ella" or "me la paso por el forro de los cojones". Just keep it clean and odourless and dispose of it properly.


+ "Cracking up" is "partirse o descojonarse de risa" in English! There´s a new phrasal verb for you :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Endemic rape and abuse of Irish children in Catholic care

Beatings and humiliation by nuns and priests were common at institutions that held up to 30,000 children. Rape and sexual molestation were "endemic" in Irish Catholic church-run industrial schools and orphanages, a report revealed today.
The nine-year investigation found that Catholic priests and nuns for decades terrorised thousands of boys and girls in the Irish Republic, while government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rape and humiliation.
The high court judge Sean Ryan today unveiled the 2,600-page final report of Ireland's commission into child abuse, which drew on testimony from thousands of former inmates and officials from more than 250 church-run institutions. Police were called to the news conference amid angry scenes as victims were prevented from attending.
More than 30,000 children deemed to be petty thieves, truants or from dysfunctional families – a category that often included unmarried mothers – were sent to Ireland's austere network of industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels from the 1930s until the last facilities shut in the 1990s.
The findings prompted the new Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, to say that it took "courage" for those clergy involved in child sex abuse to confront their actions. In an interview to be broadcast tonight on ITV News at Ten, he said: "I think of those in religious orders and some of the clergy in Dublin who have to face these facts from their past which instinctively and quite naturally they'd rather not look at. That takes courage, and also we shouldn't forget that this account today will also overshadow all of the good that they also did."
The Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (Isoca), an organisation set up to help victims, condemned the newly appointed head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales for his remarks.
"Rubbish is too kind of word for what the archbishop has said. I believe I have heard this kind of twaddle uttered by politicians in Ireland like Bertie Ahern, the former prime minister. It is the verbiage of un-reason and it leaves me cold. What the Archbishop really has to do is take a long hard look at the character and nature of the people he is talking about and ask himself if they are capable of being good," said Patrick Walsh.
The report found that molestation and rape were "endemic" in boys' facilities, chiefly run by the Christian Brothers order, and supervisors pursued policies that increased the danger. Girls supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the Sisters of Mercy, suffered much less sexual abuse but instead endured frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless.
"In some schools a high level of ritualised beating was routine ... Girls were struck with implements designed to maximise pain and were struck on all parts of the body," the report said. "Personal and family denigration was widespread."
The report concluded that when confronted with evidence of sex abuse, religious authorities responded by transferring offenders to another location, where in many instances they were free to abuse again.
"There was evidence that such men took up teaching positions sometimes within days of receiving dispensations because of serious allegations or admissions of sexual abuse," the report said. "The safety of children in general was not a consideration."
The Catholic church had been steeling itself for the report, which was repeatedly delayed by church lawsuits, missing documentation and alleged government obstruction. The Christian Brothers delayed the investigation for more than a year with a lawsuit that successfully defended their members' right to anonymity in all references in the report, even in cases in which individual Christian Brothers had been convicted of sexual and physical attacks on children.
The church had already been under fire over the sexual misbehaviour of several priests in various Irish parishes. The commission's experts have sought to produce a comprehensive portrait of sexual, physical and emotional damage inflicted on the child victims. The thousands of survivors said they had no safe way to tell their stories until the investigation began because much of Irish Catholic society regarded them as liars.
Isoca today said it was now up to the Vatican to investigate its religious orders in the republic. John Kelly, the Isoca co-ordinator in Dublin, said: "Now that the Ryan [Laffoy] commission is finished, we call upon ... Pope Benedict XVI to convene a special consistory court to fully investigate the activities of the Catholic religious orders in Ireland.
"Amongst other things, such a court could establish the whereabouts of Irish state assets that were misappropriated over many years by the religious orders and make restitution to the Irish state exchequer."
During the commission's investigations, oral evidence was collected from more than 1,000 people, mainly aged from their 50s to 70s. Several hundred travelled back to Ireland from the US and Australia to describe their childhood of terror and intimidation.
One victim, John Walsh, of Isoca, called the report a hatchet job that left open wounds gaping. "The little comfort we have is the knowledge that it vindicated the victims who were raped and sexually abused," he said.
"I'm very angry, very bitter, and feel cheated and deceived. I would have never opened my wounds if I'd known this was going to be the end result. It has devastated me and will devastate most victims because there is no criminal proceedings and no accountability whatsoever."
The commission's original judge, Mary Laffoy, resigned from her post in 2003 over claims that the Irish department of education – which was in charge of inspecting the orphanages and industrial schools – was refusing to hand over documents to her.
The Guardian, Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent, Wednesday 20 May 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beatles Tube_video + lyrics

To celebrate post #200, here is the The Beatles! is a site that tries to organize all The Beatles videos that you can find on the web. There are plenty of Beatles music footages on Youtube™ and Google Video™ but it's difficult to have them in a logical sequence. will help you to do that.
If you are looking for all The Beatles video from a album here is the albums page. Plus you have all the lyrics near the clips and you can post a comment for each video.
You can find also some good concert clips, and these movies: A Hard Day's Night, Help!, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine and Let It Be...

Enjoy it!

Norman Foster, the global architect

Un humanista visionario

El País, 21/05/2009

Deslumbrados por la escala colosal y la audacia técnica de tantos de sus edificios, con frecuencia olvidamos lo que la obra de Foster tiene de utopía social y aventura estética. Desde sus primeros proyectos, como el realizado para la naviera noruega de Fred Olsen en los muelles de Londres, que reunía a los descargadores y a los oficinistas en un espacio único limitado por una tersa fachada de vidrio que era a la vez un logro constructivo y una declaración de intenciones artística, su trayectoria ha procurado reconciliar los valores democráticos y la innovación tecnológica con el refinamiento visual.

Fruto de este empeño son obras maestras como las oficinas paisaje de Willis Faber & Dumas, el monumental y liviano Centro Sainsbury o el Banco de Hong Kong y Shanghai, que cambió la forma de construir rascacielos como su aeropuerto de Stansted transformaría irreversiblemente las terminales aéreas, o como su Carré d'Art en Nîmes alteraría la manera de abordar el diálogo entre el patrimonio y la construcción contemporánea. Al final, sería el propio Foster el que daría el paso siguiente: en los rascacielos, con obras ejemplares como el Commerzbank de Frankfurt o el Swiss Re londinense; en los aeropuertos, con realizaciones titánicas como la terminal de Chek Lap Kok o el nuevo aeropuerto de Pekín; o en las obras de intervención en arquitecturas históricas, como la llevada a cabo en el British Museum o la extraordinaria transformación del Reichstag.
Muchas de estas obras son igualmente admirables por su atención a la sostenibilidad, como evidencia Masdar, una nueva ciudad sin coches, sin producción de residuos y carbon-neutral en Abu Dhabi. Pero junto a estos proyectos visionarios o sus grandes realizaciones de infraestructuras, de las que en España tenemos buenos ejemplos en la torre de Collserola o el metro de Bilbao, el arquitecto ha completado pequeñas obras de rehabilitación tan elegantes y silenciosas como sus tres espacios madrileños: su propia casa, el estudio profesional, y la sede de Ivorypress, la galería de arte y librería dirigida por su esposa Elena Ochoa, donde ayer recibió la noticia del Premio Príncipe de Asturias mientras asistía a la inauguración de la mágica exposición de Ai Weiwei: en ese mismo lugar se mostrarán en septiembre los dibujos de este zurdo genial, que resumen con su trazo analítico y exacto la naturaleza clásica de una arquitectura intemporal.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Final Frontier

“In this tightly cropped image, the NASA space shuttle Atlantis is seen in silhouette during solar transit, Tuesday, May 12, 2009, from Florida. This image was made before Atlantis and the crew of STS-125 had grappled the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo Credit: (NASA/Thierry Legault)”STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit (200905120002HQ) Photo from nasa hq photo.
El Atlantis, en órbita terrestre a 560 kilómetros de altura y a 28.000 kilómetros por hora sobre la superficie de la Tierra, fue fotografiado con una cámara Canon 5D Mark II y un telescopio de 12 centímetros de diámetro utilizando un filtro solar. La nave mide 37 metros de longitud y 24 de envergadura.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Juan Marsé, Premio Cervantes

La última palabra de Juan Marsé en su discurso de recepción del Premio Cervantes fue belleza. De eso trata, vino a decir, su trabajo: de persistir en la búsqueda de algo que tiene que ver "con alguna forma de belleza". Media hora antes de pronunciar esa palabra Marsé se había subido al púlpito del paraninfo de la Universidad de Alcalá, un lugar que, como diría uno de sus personajes, es más pequeño que en la tele. El autor de Si te dicen que caí dijo hace días irónicamente que, entre otras muchas cosas, del Cervantes le hacía ilusión hablar desde un púlpito. Pero empezó nervioso. La boca seca, los folios golpeando el micrófono.

"Nunca me vi donde ustedes me ven ahora. Los que me conocen saben que me da bastante apuro hablar en público", advirtió nada más saludar a una audiencia en la que faltaban sus amigos muertos -Gil de Biedma, Barral, García Hortelano, Ángel González- y Carmen Balcells. A ésta, convaleciente de un accidente doméstico, se dirigió con una ocurrencia de Groucho Marx: "Me has dado tantas alegrías, que tengo ordenado, para cuando me muera, que me incineren y te entreguen el diez por ciento de mis cenizas".

Si la literatura, como dicen los manuales, es un triángulo formado por el escritor, la escritura y la realidad, Juan Marsé (Barcelona, 1933) habló de las tres. Y lo hizo, pese al chaqué, quitándose importancia, con una mezcla de humildad e ironía. El Rey lo resumió con una palabra: autenticidad. Don Juan Carlos puso la anécdota de la mañana. Empezó su discurso saltándose el turno de la ministra de Cultura, Ángeles González-Sinde: "Hoy las letras españolas...", arrancó. Luego paró y dijo sonriendo: "Se ve que ya..."

Si la ministra, en un discurso que destacó por su altura literaria, habló del premiado como de un escritor hecho a sí mismo capaz de "engarzar la ternura y lo canalla", el propio autor de Rabos de lagartija recordó su ingreso a los 13 años en un taller de relojería. Allí estaba, relató, cuando publicó sus primeros cuentos en Ínsula y su primera novela en Seix Barral, la editorial en la que fue recibido como el "escritor obrero" que faltaba en el catálogo. Eran los años del realismo social, y él cumplió las expectativas artísticas; las sociológicas no. Y eso que es un firme partidario del realismo, "el único lugar donde puedes adquirir un buen bistec".

La cita es de Woody Allen, una de las autoridades invocadas ayer por Marsé. Otra de ellas fue Ezra Pound: "El esmero en el trabajo, el cuidado de la lengua, es la única convicción moral del escritor". En eso se resume la teoría literaria de alguien al que la metaliteratura le deja "frío" porque la cocina del escritor nunca le ha parecido, apuntó, "un sitio muy cómodo para recibir visitas". Ayer, además, subrayó un viejo aviso: "No me considero un intelectual, solamente un narrador".

Hechas todas las advertencias, el creador del Pijoaparte puso sus ojos en el mundo sin quitarlos de su propia vida. Así, destacó la riqueza que supone "la dualidad cultural y lingüística de Cataluña". Si él es un "catalán que escribe en lengua castellana" lo es, dijo, porque en esta lengua "ha mamado los mitos literarios y cinematográficos, la que ha dado alas a la imaginación".

Poco antes, Marsé había criticado la "nefasta influencia cultural y educativa" de la televisión. En la última fila del paraninfo escuchaba sus palabras Luis Fernández Fernández, presidente de RTVE. Poco después se refirió a las armas de destrucción masiva, que "resultaron ser un par de zapatos". En la mesa presidencial estaba Esperanza Aguirre.

La guerra de Irak le sirvió para destacar una de las grandes enseñanzas del Quijote, un libro que él compró "en cómodos plazos" a un vecino y que leyó a los 16 años sentado los domingos por la tarde en el parque Güell. La enseñanza es ésta: las cosas no siempre son lo que parecen. Algo que él mismo pudo comprobar al contrastar la realidad de la posguerra con lo que el régimen de Franco decía que era esa realidad. Eran tiempos en los que la memoria colectiva estaba "sojuzgada, esquilmada y manipulada" y en los que había que quemar los libros peligrosos. El novelista contó ayer cómo su padre expurgó los suyos.

A su reivindicación de la memoria, Juan Marsé añadió una defensa de la imaginación: "Son dos palabras que van siempre entrelazadas, y a menudo resulta difícil separarlas". Además, dijo, una excesiva dosis de realidad puede resultar indigesta, "incluso para un adicto a la realidad y al bistec como Sancho y como yo". (JAVIER RODRÍGUEZ MARCO, El País. 24 de abril de 2009)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

L3 Final Verb Exercises_May

A. Fill in the blanks using the appropriate tense/form of the 25 verbs in parentheses and incorporating any other words given along with them. Do not add any non-verbal forms. The key to this exercise will be posted in a week’s time.

A: Oh, hello, Mum. You’re home at last! I was beginning to think you ________________ (go) away for a few days. I ________________ (try) to phone you all day.

B: I was out in the vegetable garden. I’ve spent all day ________________ (dig) up this year’s new potatoes. How are you all?

A: Fine. Peter ________________ (just/give) an enormous pay rise, which is wonderful news because now we can ________________ (afford) to move house. We both fancy ________________ (live) in the country. The only problem is that ________________ (commute) to work every day ________________ (be) very tiring, so we’ll have to think about it. It’s a pity neither of us can drive. If we ________________ (have) a car, life would be much easier.

B: Why doesn’t Peter take his driving test again? He________________ (probably/fail) last time if he ________________ (stop) at the red light. After all, it was the first time he ________________ (take) the test and hardly anybody ________________ (pass) the first time.

A. Yes, I know. I just wish he ________________ (see) that awful car accident last year. He ________________ (be) terrified of ________________ (drive) ever since. Anyway, it’s time I ________________ (go) to pick up the kids from school. I’d better ________________ (get) there late again or they ________________ (be) cross. I was half an hour late yesterday and they threatened ________________ (wait) if I did that again and they suggested I ________________ (buy) a new watch!

B: OK, dear. Give my love and congratulations to Peter when he ________________ (come) home... I ________________ (forget) to mention: your father and I are planning to drive down to the coast for the day, provided it ________________ (stay) sunny. I still remember ________________ (teach) you how to swim in the sea when you were only 5…

B. Fill in the blanks, using the appropriate tense/form of the verbs in parentheses and incorporating any other words given along with them. In this exercise, some modal auxiliaries may be necessary. Do not add any non-verbal forms.

I had an accident the other day while I ________________ (drive) to the country for the weekend. I ________________ (never/be) involved in an accident before, so I certainly wasn’t expecting it, but I suppose that if I ________________ (ever/stop) (think) about it I would have realized that something was likely ________________ (happen) some day, as I drive a lot. In fact, over that last five years I ________________ (drive) at least 150,000 miles. I’m a commercial traveller, you see, and ________________ (be) for several years now, so ________________ (travel) all over the place is an essential part of my job. Anyway, I suppose you ________________ (like) (know) what ________________ (happen). Well, it was around 11:30, and I ________________ (make) my way to the coast in very heavy traffic. I ________________ (be) at the wheel since 8 o’clock and ________________ (have) very much for breakfast, so I ________________ (probably/lose) a bit of my concentration by then. Suddenly, I realized I ________________ (overtake) by a lunatic: there he was, right beside me, on the wrong side of the road, with another car ________________ (come) towards him. I suppose I ________________ (brake) and let him ________________ (cut) in in front of me, but I was too tired ________________ (react) properly and I just ________________ (keep) going at the same speed, hoping he ________________ (return) to his own lane just behind me. I must admit that my own speed was perhaps a little excessive: I ________________ (do) at least 70 m.p.h. when the accident ________________ (occur). Luckily, however, the driver in the car coming towards him ________________ (can/break) in time, and, although my car collided with the one alongside, the damage was not very serious and nobody ________________ (hurt). Nevertheless, I had to stop and wait for the police ________________ (arrive) to give my version of what had happened. The police, in fact, ________________ (be) very interested in what I had to say.

A. had gone/might have gone; have been trying; digging; has just been given; can/will be able to afford; living; commuting/having to commute; might/could be; had; probably wouldn’t have failed/would probably not have failed; had stopped; had taken; passes; hadn’t seen; has been; driving; went; not get; will be; not to wait; bought/buy/should buy; comes; forgot; stays; teaching.

B. was driving; had never been; had ever stopped to think; to happen; must have driven; have been; travelling; would like to know: happened; was making; had been; hadn’t had; had probably lost/must have probably lost; was being overtaken; coming; should have braked; cut; to react; kept; would return; must have been doing; occurred; was able to break; was hurt; to arrive; was.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Lancet rebukes Pope Benedict

Britain's best-known medical journal, The Lancet, has launched an unprecedented attack on Pope Benedict. The editorial in its current edition accuses the pope of 'distorting scientific evidence' to promote Catholic teaching on the use of condoms. The Lancet editorial is titled "Redemption for the Pope?" Here's the full text: 'The Vatican felt the heat from an unprecedented amount of international condemnation last week after Pope Benedict XVI made an outrageous and wildly inaccurate statement about HIV/AIDS. On his first visit to Africa, the Pope told journalists that the continent's fight against the disease is a problem that "cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms: on the contrary, they increase it".'
'The Catholic Church's ethical opposition to birth control and support of marital fidelity and abstinence in HIV prevention is well known. But, by saying that condoms exacerbate the problem of HIV/AIDS, the Pope has publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine on this issue.'
'The international community was quick to condemn the comment. The governments of Germany, France, and Belgium released statements criticising the Pope's views. Julio Montaner, president of the International AIDS Society, called the comment "irresponsible and dangerous". UNAIDS, the UN Population Fund, and WHO released an updated position statement on HIV prevention and condoms, which said that "the male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV". Amidst the fury, even the Vatican tried to alter the pontiff's wording. On the Holy See's website, the Vatican's head of media, Father Federico Lombari, quoted the Pope as having said that there was a "risk that condoms...might increase the problem".'

'Whether the Pope's error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear. But the comment still stands and the Vatican's attempts to tweak the Pope's words, further tampering with the truth, is not the way forward. When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record. Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.'