Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Caught Between Love and Country

For nearly seven years, Brandon Perlberg, an American citizen, lived with his British partner, Benn Robert Storey, in New York. But Benn had little chance of getting a permanent visa, so Brandon joined a diaspora of gay Americans who have found they had to leave the country to continue to live with their foreign partners. For gay Americans with foreign spouses or partners, federal restrictions on what defines marriage mean they sometimes end up uprooting their lives to remain together. Related Article from The New York Times »

Avoiding Comma Splices

The comma splice is one of the most frequent mistakes made when using a comma. The comma splice occurs when a comma is used to connect two independent clauses. Learn how to avoid this recurrent mistake in compositions by clicking on: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/exercises/grammar/grammar_tutorial/page_07.htm

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Embarrassing Moments

I was staying recently in a rather smart hotel in Melbourne. As I went to bed I was aware of music coming from the room next door. I knocked quite gently on the wall to indicate that it was unacceptably loud.
I must nonetheless have dropped off to sleep. At 2 am I was wide awake and the music from the next door seemed even louder. I walked out into the corridor to get the room number. I then telephoned the next-door room. A sleepy Australian voice replied and I told him in no uncertain terms that his music was disgracefully loud. Another ten minutes and the noise was no better. I rang again, even more angry this time. Still no improvement.
I telephoned the hotel security. The noise seemed to get even worse. I banged more angrily upon the wall.
Eventually the hotel security men arrived. “Come in,” I said. “Just listen to the level of this music. It really is impossible to sleep.” The two extremely polite hotel officials entered my room, walked to the side of the bed and turned a knob. There was silence. All the time it had been my own radio with its loudspeaker by the wall which had been the cause of the trouble.
In the morning I slunk quietly out of the hotel, hoping not to meet a bleary-eyed Australian complaining of a night’s sleep ruined by calls of some demented Englishman.
Christopher Chataway

  One of the first dinner parties I went to when I left school was given at Arlington House by the fabulously rich Lady Michelham.
About thirty people sat down at a huge table covered in orchids and set with gold plates. I had never even seen gold plates before, let alone eaten off them!
The first course was a slice of cantaloup melon and I picked up a gold spoon, but at the first touch the melon leapt off the plate and disappeared under the table.
I sat crimson with embarrassment while it was retrieved by a disdainful footman with powdered hair, and another piece placed in front of me!
Barbara Cartland

  I was shopping in Walton Street. I went into a very glamorous shop and started looking through the clothes. The assistant called, “Can I help you?” I replied, “May I please look?” to which she shouted, “Madam, we are a dry cleaners, you know!”
Una Stubbs

  My next-door neighbour’s cat was held firmly in the jaws of my bulldog. I couldn’t open his jaws and rang the vet. He couldn’t come, so I drove like mad to his surgery, and got a speeding ticket that earned me an endorsement  plus a fine of £80.
The vet gave the dog an injection and he went to sleep, his jaws relaxed and we freed the cat who was dead. I then went back to my next door neighbour and apologized for the bulldog’s behaviour. My neighbour laughed and said the cat had died of a heart attack and he had buried it in his back garden. The bulldog had dug it up.
Frank Carson

  On one occasion, when preaching at a service for several hundred young people and their parents, I felt it was a good opportunity to draw their attention to a new window which had been placed in the church the previous week.   My great mistake was to try and involve the children in the sermon! I asked the question: “What is different about church today compared with last Sunday?”
Complete silence.
I tried again.
“Now children, stand up on mummy’s knees and take a good look round church, and when you see what is different compared to last Sunday please put up your hands.”
Suddenly a little hand in the back row shot into the air and a voice called out for all to hear.
“Please sir, there aren’t as many out as there were last Sunday!”
The Archbishop of Armagh

 Just after Eurovision I did my first European tour (each night a different city and country). We arrived in Venice (I thought) and I decided to kill time before the show by going to see the gondolas. I went to the hotel receptionist and asked him to direct me to them. He looked very puzzled and asked me to repeat the question.  When I did repeat it he looked even more puzzled. I was extremely tired and felt it was rather silly to hire a receptionist who couldn’t speak English.
In desperation I said, “Just direct me to the nearest canal.” After thinking for a moment he said he thought there was one canal up in the mountains.
It dawned on me that something was very wrong. “Where am I?” I asked.
Well, I was in Vienna!

  I was signing books in London once, and after a two-hour session I went upstairs for a drink with the manager. There was a huge bunch of flowers in cellophane on the table.
“Oh, how lovely,” I screamed. “Thank you very much.”
“They’re for my wife,” said the manager hastily, and snatched them away.
Jilly Cooper

  Once  when reading the news on ITN in around 1956-57, I had to refer to the Liverpool Chamber of Shipping. Unfortunately I put two “t”s where the two “p”s should have been. Luckily, hardly anyone noticed.
Ludovic Kennedy

  Several years ago I was waiting in the queue to be checked by Customs at Calais. Standing behind me was a small group –of four or five- of nuns. I took a small step forward and down fell my knickers with a swoosh. In a split second those nuns had formed an encircling screen around me and, protected by their long black skirts, I was able to step out of my knickers and shove them in my handbag. Because of those nuns it was not nearly so embarrassing a moment as it might have been.
Marjorie Proops

From The NSPCC Book of Famous Faux Pas, edited by Fiona Snelso

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Animales en las gradas

“Racismo= el máximo odio con el mínimo de razón.” Abraham Joshua Heschel, teólogo judío.
Llama la atención que el aparente insulto esta semana de Leo Messi a Aitor Karanka, el segundo entrenador del Real Madrid, haya generado mucho más ruido y polémica en España que las denuncias de Dani Alves contra el racismo en el fútbol español. Que Messi le hubiera dicho a Karanka que es el “muñeco de Mourinho” ofende a algunos, da risa a otros. Una anécdota más para nutrir la rivalidad infantil entre los aficionados de los dos equipos más privilegiados de la Liga.

Lo del racismo en los estadios debería ser motivo de preocupación general y de debate en todas las esferas de la sociedad, independientemente de la afiliación tribal o incluso de si a uno le interesa el fútbol o no. Pero no lo es. Ni da señales de que lo sea. Como dijo Alves, resignado, tras el partido entre el Barcelona y el Madrid, en el que aficionados del Bernabéu imitaban los gruñidos de un mono cada vez que tocaba la pelota, “es una guerra perdida”.
La inevitable reacción de muchos madridistas fue interpretar sus palabras como otra escalada en la guerra verbal entre los dos clubes. Pero —oh, sorpresa— resulta que no se tomaron la molestia de escuchar bien lo que dijo. “No es algo puntual, que pase allí”, apuntó Alves, refiriéndose al Bernabéu, “pasa en todos los campos”. Y agregó: “El Bernabéu no es de los campos en que más agredido me siento. Hay peores. En España en general sucede. Ya lo viví con el Sevilla… Desde que llegué a España [hace diez años] siempre ha sido así”.
Mucho peor que las chorradas que se han dicho sobre las sobrias observaciones de Alves en las redes sociales fue la respuesta atribuida a una de las figuras emblemáticas del Real Madrid, Manolo Sanchis. Quizá se le citó mal, quizá hubo un error de comunicación. Ojalá. Porque lo que se publicó fue que Sanchis dijo en la Cadena Cope que Alves era “un jugadorazo, pero fuera del campo no tiene demasiadas luces, no me gustan sus declaraciones”. O sea, una leyenda del Real Madrid da luz verde al racismo. Esperemos, repetimos, que se le haya citado mal, o fuera de contexto, o algo.

En España se tolera el racismo, incluso parece que se defiende. En Inglaterra, no
Lo que es cierto, por otro lado, es que las palabras de Alves tendrían aún más peso si denunciase los mismos gritos racistas cuando se oyen en su propio estadio, el Camp Nou. Marcelo, su compatriota brasileño y lateral del Madrid, ha sufrido idénticos insultos de la afición barcelonista y, que se sepa, Alves no ha dicho nada al respecto. Tampoco hubiera estado de más que Michael Essien, el jugador ghanés del Madrid, se hubiera sumado esta semana a las protestas de Alves. Y mejor aún, que todos los jugadores de ambos equipos, independentiemente de sus razas, hicieran causa común con él. Y los presidentes de todos los clubes también. Pero no. Silencio total.
Alves propuso como única solución imponer “castigos severos para terminar con este cáncer del futbol”, agregando que las autoridades deberían “dar ejemplo y mirar a Inglaterra”. Allí, dijo, “las medidas son duras”. Lo son. Hay cero tolerancia en el fútbol inglés con el racismo, dentro y fuera del campo. Si se aplicaran los mismos criterios en los estadios españoles que en los ingleses las cárceles españolas estarían llenas y los estadios aún más vacíos. En Inglaterra al aficionado que se detecta en televisión haciendo gestos o ruidos de mono hacia un jugador negro es buscado por la policía, detenido y llevado ante un tribunal. En la temporada 2001/2012 se dieron 23 casos; en la temporada anterior, 43.
Una ley solo sirve si cuenta con apoyo masivo social. En Inglaterra esta sí la tiene. Al punto de que el mayor freno al comportamiento racista en los estadios no es la amenaza de intervención policial sino el oprobio de las personas que están sentadas al lado de uno. En España se tolera; incluso parece que se defiende. En Inglaterra significa ser visto como un animal.
No hay comparación entre el racismo en los estadios ingleses y en los estadios españoles, pero aún así un comité del Parlamento británico publicó un informe sobre el tema el año pasado que dijo que todavía quedaban “problemas significativos”, aunque señaló que se habían visto “enormes” mejoras desde los años 70 y 80. En España, donde cerdos volarán antes de que el Gobierno investigue el racismo en el fútbol, se sigue en la edad de piedra.