Friday, October 30, 2015


Raif Badawi is a Saudi Arabian blogger who is serving a sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for starting an online forum. On January 9, the Saudi authorities carried out the first round of floggings. Raif is set to be flogged every Friday. Act now to help stop the floggings and #FreeRaif. Learn more

Sunday, October 18, 2015

IdI students go to the cinema

Come and see a film in English with Spanish subtitles at the Avenida Cinema, (Marqués de Paradas, 15, opposite the Plaza de Armas Hotel), on Wednesday, October 28th, at 8pm. We'll meet 30 minutes earlier, around 7.30pm, outside the cinema. Feel free to bring a friend or a relative along. Tickets € 3.90 

In previous years, these are the films I took my students to see: The Emperor's Club (2003), Star Wars (2004), Love Actually (2005), Brokeback Mountain (2006), The History Boys (2007), Match Point (2008), Invictus (2009), Tamara Drew (2010), The Help (2011), The Angels' Share (2012), Coherence (2014) and Paterson (2016).

PS: Read V.O.:La voz humana beforehand if you want to find out why you want to watch films in the original version.

The 12th edition of "IdI Students go to the cinema".

Some of the 50 students and teachers who came to see the film at the Avenida Cinema.

La paradoja de ver sin mirar


Un impresionante ejército de esqueletos recibe animoso a los visitantes. Iñaki y Daniela entran expectantes en la hermosa Galería de Paleontología, una de las joyas del Museo de Historia Natural de París. El sobrecogimiento dura unos segundos. De inmediato desenfunda cada uno su cámara y comienza el safari fotográfico. Poseída por el espíritu del maestro Ciruela (ese que no sabía escribir y puso escuela), la tía intenta ilustrar a los pequeños sobrinos sobre las maravillas que tienen ante sus ojos: la carcasa portentosa de ese rinoceronte centenario, o la ballena de 20 metros, o el cocodrilo gigante del Mesozoico, con sus terroríficos dientes... En vano. Como dos pequeños japoneses enloquecidos, Iñaki y Daniela están sumidos en el frenesí de sus cámaras. Clic, los huesecillos de los batracios de las vitrinas, clic, la jirafa, clic, el diplodocus. ¿Pero por qué no los miráis al natural? La pregunta se topa con un destello de reproche en la mirada de sus madres. ¿Qué tiene de malo que hagan fotos?

Claro que tampoco la tía puede dar muchas lecciones. Su teléfono inteligente tiene la memoria al borde del colapso por la cantidad de fotos que acumula. (Buena parte de ellas, por cierto, de ese par de criaturas que han sido víctimas desde la cuna de la fiebre fotográfica de sus parientes). Las imágenes desbordan el móvil e invaden ordenadores y memorias portátiles. La pretensión de cribarlas y ordenarlas choca con la falta de tiempo. No estorban, pero no las ves.

En cambio, las fotos de hasta, digamos, el cambio de milenio, están clasificadas con primor. Ocupan espacio, pero... nada tan evocador como revivir secuencias que amarillean o visitar a los simpáticos ancestros que pueblan en blanco y negro los álbumes familiares. Se acabó el rito del revelado (“¿brillo o mate?”), la espera impaciente, la sorpresa por una imagen inesperada o la decepción por otra borrosa, los comentarios jocosos mientras las fotos pasan de mano en mano... Ahora compartes algunas por WhatsApp. O las cuelgas en esas redes sociales que cuentan vidas sometidas al Photoshop.

Nostalgias de viejo, sin duda. Pero engorros contemporáneos. Recorrer museos, yacimientos o zoológicos implica abrirse paso entre pelmazos que fotografían hasta los carteles explicativos, por si algún día, aburridos, se les ocurre enterarse de qué estaban visitando... O arriesgarse a que te saquen un ojo con un palo de selfie, metáfora de una actitud ante la vida: la de mirarse ensimismados en lugar de mirar a lo que nos rodea.

No solo Rajoy vive en el plasma. También esa niña de 11 años a la que su padre ha subido a sus hombros para que observe mejor los fuegos artificiales en Eurodisney… a través de la pantalla de la tableta, en lugar de dejar que la oscuridad la envuelva y que los colores estallen en su rostro.

Es el signo de los tiempos. Menos hablar, menos mirar, menos oler, menos sentir. Menos recrear... Es lo que toca en este mundo cada vez más trepidante. 
El País, 18 de octubre de 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Funny Answering Machine Message

This is the excellent and hilarious school answering machine message you get when you phone this particular school in Australia. It's aimed at the parents of the school kids who either want to blame the teachers or come up with any excuse under the sun why their kids aren't performing the best at school.LOL

Monday, October 12, 2015



  • Date: 1937 (May 1st-June 4th, Paris)

  • Technique: Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions: 349,3 x 776,6 cm

  • Category: Painting

  • Entry date: 1992

  • Observations: The government of the Spanish Republic acquired the mural "Guernica" from Picasso in 1937. When World War II broke out, the artist decided that the painting should remain in the custody of New York's Museum of Modern Art for safekeeping until the conflict ended. In 1958 Picasso extended the loan of the painting to MoMA for an indefinite period, until such time that democracy had been restored in Spain. The work finally returned to this country in 1981.

  • Register number: DE00050

  • On display in: Room 206.06, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid
An accurate depiction of a cruel, dramatic situation, Guernica was created to be part of the Spanish Pavilion at the International Exposition in Paris in 1937. Pablo Picasso’s motivation for painting the scene in this great work was the news of the German aerial bombing of the Basque town whose name the piece bears, which the artist had seen in the dramatic photographs published in various periodicals, including the French newspaper L'Humanité. Despite that, neither the studies nor the finished picture contain a single allusion to a specific event, constituting instead a generic plea against the barbarity and terror of war. The huge picture is conceived as a giant poster, testimony to the horror that the Spanish Civil War was causing and a forewarning of what was to come in the Second World War. The muted colours, the intensity of each and every one of the motifs and the way they are articulated are all essential to the extreme tragedy of the scene, which would become the emblem for all the devastating tragedies of modern society.
Guernica has attracted a number of controversial interpretations, doubtless due in part to the deliberate use in the painting of only greyish tones. Analysing the iconography in the painting, one Guernica scholar, Anthony Blunt, divides the protagonists of the pyramidal composition into two groups, the first of which is made up of three animals; the bull, the wounded horse and the winged bird that can just be made out in the background on the left. The second group is made up of the human beings, consisting of a dead soldier and a number of women: the one on the upper right, holding a lamp and leaning through a window, the mother on the left, wailing as she holds her dead child, the one rushing in from the right and finally the one who is crying out to the heavens, her arms raised as a house burns down behind her.

At this point it should be remembered that two years earlier, in 1935, Picasso had done the etching 
Minotauromaquia, a synthetic work condensing into a single image all the symbols of his cycle dedicated to the mythological creature, which stands as Guernica’s most direct relative. Incidents in Picasso’s private life and the political events afflicting Europe between the wars fused together in the motifs the painter was using at the time, resulting both in Guernica itself and all the studies and ‘postscripts’, regarded as among the most representative works of art of the 20th century.

Paloma Esteban Leal

Are machines making humans obsolete?

The Guardian, Friday 18th September 2015
Suppose that, unlike me, you’re a fresh-faced youngster, just out of education, not yet beaten down by the meaninglessness of human existence, and looking to choose a career. Preferably one that won’t be made obsolete by technology within decades. Factory jobs are out. So is taxi-driving, thanks to driverless cars. But things aren’t looking great for accountants, lawyers or journalists, either; computers already handle the simpler bits of those jobs. Software can mark certain essays with an accuracy approaching that of teachers, and make medical diagnoses more accurately than doctors.
Techno-optimists used to be confident that automation would always create more jobs than it replaced, but now some wonder if the luddites might have been right: when artificial intelligence gets good enough, could we all find ourselves replaced? History is full of people declaring this or that activity too complex for machines, only for machines to prove them wrong a few years later.

Most of this dispiriting picture is true, the author Geoff Colvin agrees in an intriguing new book, Humans Are Underrated, but there is hope. To thrive in the hi-tech future, he argues, we should stop asking what computers will never be able to do, since the answer is probably “nothing”. Instead, we should ask: “What are the activities that we humans, driven by our deepest nature, will simply insist be performed by other humans?”

The argument goes like this: over hundreds of thousands of years, our brains have evolved to excel at interacting with other humans, and we’re most fulfilled when we do. There are things we need humans to do, for reasons we can barely articulate. A computer might judge the evidence in a criminal case perfectly, but we still want a human judge to take responsibility for such a weighty decision. Emotion-recognition software might outsmart a therapist when it comes to reading your feelings – that technology is already advanced – but we want to be heard by a human. No matter how well a computer marks essays, school pupils have evolved to respond to inspiring human teachers. And even if a machine could finish writing the remaining Game Of Thrones novels, fans wouldn’t be happy: they need those words to come from one specific human’s head.
Not that the argument’s solely economic. It also helps explain, for example, why face-to-face interaction is so critical for wellbeing: it’s not that online communication’s bad, but that our brains are custom-designed for in-person exchanges, with their multitude of visual and physical cues. Computers, in short, can (and probably will) take over or transform every human job, except one: that of being human.If that’s correct, it means there’s a nub of truth in all that excruciating corporate-speak about training employees to be more empathic, or making brands “more human”. As technology colonises everything else, the most prized skills will be those we wouldn’t want machines to perform, even if they could. We’ll stop being “knowledge workers”, Colvin insists, and become “relationship workers”. It’s a cheesy phrase, but it gets at the point: humans need humanness, so that’s what will retain market value.