27 outubro 2004
26 outubro 2004
Pues bien; hoy sabemos más detalles. En los 64Kb de memoria del dichoso chip irán grabados nada menos que los siguientes datos: nombre, dirección, fecha y lugar de nacimiento, y fotografía digital del portador. Y todo ello -además- sin cifrar, para no tener que compartir con terceros países algoritmos ni claves.
Acerca do realizador americano Michael Moore, há várias opiniões muitas vezes contraditórias. Há os que acham que é um realizador de talento justamente reconhecido pela Academia de Hollywood (que, de vez em quando, lá vai acertando) e os que vêem nele um activista político “liberal” (o que se chama nos Estados Unidos às pessoas a que cá chamamos “de esquerda”) que sacrifica a arte aos seus ideais e não olha a meios para transmitir a sua visão pessoal dos acontecimentos que retrata sem preocupações com objectividade e isenção. Há também os que misturam elementos das duas correntes de opinião.
Pessoalmente, não me preocupa saber quem tem razão. Vi o último filme de Michael Moore recentemente e não me surpreendeu a forma feroz como George W. Bush é atacado e que não pode justificar os arremedos inquisitoriais dos que, por lá, na terra da liberdade e da democracia por excelência, quiseram censurar o filme. São assuntos deles e eu não tenho nada que me meter. É verdade que me faz confusão saber que Bush não venceu (como foi anunciado) as eleições no estado que desempataria os dois candidatos, mesmo sendo o estado em questão governado pelo irmão do actual presidente e em que vários cidadãos não-republicanos viram os seus nomes retirados dos cadernos eleitorais sem justificação plausível, e sendo os votos contados por uma apoiante de um dos candidatos (e não era de Al Gore.) Também me custa perceber, mesmo aceitando a vitória fictícia de Bush na Florida, como é que num país que apregoa as virtudes da democracia pelo mundo fora, indo ao extremo de a tentar impor pela força das armas, o presidente pode não ser o candidato com o maior número de votos, como sucedeu, e tudo porque a eleição do presidente dos Estados Unidos é feita não de forma directa mas por um colégio de representantes dos vários estados para salvaguardar os direitos dos territórios menos povoados, uma preocupação que talvez fizesse sentido no séc. XVIII mas que agora parece algo absurda. Mas é lá com eles. Se gostam do sistema, óptimo. Se não gostam, resolvam o problema sozinhos que ninguém tem nada com isso.
O motivo que me leva a falar em Michael Moore não é a vontade de me dedicar à crítica cinematográfica. Há gente com competência real para o fazer. Nenhum dos críticos profissionais que temos faz parte desse grupo mas isso é outra cantiga.
Não pude deixar de me aperceber de algumas semelhanças entre a situação que se vive nos Estados Unidos e a que a brava gente lusitana enfrenta. Eles são governados por alguém que não foi eleito. Nós também. Quem os governa parece não ter competência para o cargo. Quem nos governa a nós também não. O elenco governativo americano está repleto de personalidades com ligações difíceis de camuflar a interesses económicos diversos. O português também. E isto sem querer duvidar da honestidade dos nossos ministros que são com certeza gente de bem e que só quer trabalhar para fazer de Portugal um país melhor e que não hesita em assumir posições antagónicas aos interesses dos amigos, familiares e colegas de trabalho ao lado dos quais estavam até ao dia da sua tomada de posse, funcionando a cerimónia de tomada de posse como uma espécie de ritual místico de purificação em que o gestor mais ambicioso se transfigura no mais isento dos servidores da causa pública.
O presidente americano tem amizades embaraçosas (elementos da família Bin Laden, membros da família real saudita, empresários corruptos). O primeiro-ministro português tem Cinha Jardim e Margarida Prieto. O americano tem Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Berkowitz, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice. O português tem Morais Sarmento, António Mexia, Álvaro Barreto, Fernando Negrão e Teresa Caeiro. O antigo governador do Texas tem ar de bruto, boémio, irresponsável. Como é óbvio, as diferenças entre os dois não se podem fazer sentir em todos os aspectos.
E depois há o patriotismo. Sempre que há no mundo governantes ineptos que não têm qualquer pudor em tornar os pobres mais pobres e os ricos mais ricos, que submetem os interesses do povo a suspeitos interesses de Estado, surge sempre uma necessidade imperiosa de apelar ao patriotismo porque “as pessoas têm de aprender a gostar do seu país” e a “verem o seu país de uma forma positiva” e, enquanto penduram bandeiras e cantam o hino, não vêem o caos da economia, o desemprego a aumentar e os erros de governação que se sucedem como traques num jantar de convívio entre Fernando Mendes e Fernando Rocha.
Nada me move contra o patriotismo. Se se entender o patriotismo como uma espécie de bairrismo saudável consciente daquilo em que somos bons e daquilo que pode ser melhorado e ansioso por aprender com os de fora coisas que nos possam ajudar a resolver o que está mal. O outro patriotismo que se aproxima mais do bairrismo saloio à moda de Manuel Serrão é desprezível. Também não gosto desta coisa das bandeiras penduradas na janela. Chamem-me esquisito mas não gosto. Está bem que até é uma coisa inofensiva e dá colorido mas sempre que vejo uma bandeira pendurada (e elas ainda aí andam, sobrevivendo à tragédia grega do Euro), faz-me sempre pensar que estou na Alemanha dos anos 30. A diferença é que as suásticas do Terceiro Reich que havia de durar mil anos e durou um bocadinho menos (e ainda bem) eram mais ou menos todas iguais e não havia variações de estilo como sucede com a bandeira da República de 1910 que os portugueses prendem com molas ao arame da roupa sem se importar se as quinas estão de pernas para o ar ou se os castelos são torres e garatujos indecifráveis.
Quando o patriotismo resulta de apelos de quem está no poder, é sempre mau sinal e é o pior tipo de patriotismo possível. Basta olhar para a história recente da humanidade para o perceber. Foi mau sinal na Alemanha de Hitler, na Itália de Mussolini, no Japão expansionista, no Iraque de Saddam, no Portugal do Estado Novo, na Sérvia de Milosevic. Continua a ser mau sinal no Israel dos colonatos (que consegue ofuscar um país democrático, liberal e laico de gente esclarecida erroneamente identificada com um punhado de fanáticos barbudos enfiados em condomínios de luxo no deserto protegidos por metralhadoras e mísseis balísticos), nos Estados Unidos de Bush e no Portugal do triunvirato Durão Barroso-Santana Lopes-José Eduardo Moniz.
No filme de Michael Moore, há um momento em que se refere que são sempre os mais pobres os primeiros a embarcar em euforias patrióticas irracionais. Outra coincidência. Por cá, passa-se exactamente o mesmo. Com a descoberta recente de um orgulho pátrio fajuto sustentado pelos media e por políticos com segundas intenções, são também os mais desgraçados de um país em que os desgraçados são a maioria os mais orgulhosos de ser portugueses, os que mais saltam, os que mais gritam “Portugal Alê Alê,” os que primeiro alinham no conveniente discurso oficial do “chega de estarmos sempre a queixar-nos do que está mal, vamos antes centrar a nossa atenção no que está bem e esquecer o resto".»
25 outubro 2004
|What is it that defines the language of the moment? Is it that curious word CHAV, virtually unknown until this year and used to describe loutish young people exhibiting COUNCIL ESTATE CHIC? Or is it the creeping of text and chat-room language into every aspect of our written life? Are our favourite TV programmes and SLEBS now directing our choice of words? Or are they all SHTUPID? Word on the SHTREET is that this is the latest trend in pronunciation. Grammar, too, is on the move - or are you SO not liking that?|
BUBBLING UNDER: WORDS OF THE MOMENT
BIZ WORDS AND BUZZ WORDS
Check the table for A Word-A-Year, 1904-2004
2 The Chekhovian story
What is the essence of the Chekhovian short story? Chekhov wrote to a friend that,
"It was time writers, especially those who are artists,
recognised that there is no making out anything in this world."
But the effect of this world-view as expressed in his stories has had an astonishing influence. Katherine Mansfield and Joyce were among the first to write in the Chekhovian spirit, but his cool, dispassionate, unflinching attitude to the human condition resounds in writers as diverse as William Trevor and Raymond Carver, Elizabeth Bowen, John Cheever, Muriel Spark and Alice Munro."You ask me what is life? That is like asking: what is a
carrot? A carrot is a carrot and that's all there is to it."
"a fiction conceived within the bounds of the observable facts".
"Spring at Fialta" by Vladimir Nabokov
22 outubro 2004
CN: Well, he did something that many of us would like to do, only, if we were to do it now, it would be like an imitation: to invent all the writers within the writer that you already yourself are. That is, to divide your personality and create fictional people who write real books. I believe this is the most fictional thing you can do. Remember that famous line by Marianne Moore: "Real gardens with imaginary . . ." No. "Imaginary gardens with real toads in them." I mean to have imaginary poets that write real poems. Fantastic. No passports, but they produce books.
TM: And the wonderful sadness of The Book of Disquiet, an endless reiteration of sadness and every possible approach to it.
CN: He drank himself to death. But he left twenty-seven thousand pages of unpublished manuscript. Incredible.
20 outubro 2004
19 outubro 2004
The mystery of why eyes in certain paintings and photographs appear to move has been solved: it has to do with how we perceive two and three dimensions, a new study finds.
According to a paper published in a recent issue of the journal Perception by James Todd, a professor of psychology at Ohio State University, and his colleagues, the optical illusion "is in the misleading information provided by the picture," Todd said.
No matter what angle you look at a painting from, the painting itself doesn't change, since it's on a flat surface. The patterns of light and dark remain the same.
But three-dimensional objects, in life, change with the way light falls on them as viewers move around the object.
"When observing real surfaces in the natural environment, the visual information that specifies near and far points varies when we change viewing direction," Todd said.
He added, "When we observe a picture on the wall, on the other hand, the visual information that defines near and far points is unaffected by viewing direction. Still we interpret this perceptually as if it were a real object. That is why the eyes appear to follow you as you change your viewing direction."
Todd and his team found the mechanisms behind the visual effect by analyzing a 3-D picture of a human torso. Their study consisted of two phases.
First, the scientists used dots to mark near points and far points. Todd told Discovery News that those points referred to areas on the image that appear to be closer or farther away. The researchers mapped out different groupings of these points based on their observations of the image from a number of viewing angles.
Next, they placed a gauge figure over the torso — a computerized circle with a needle sticking out of it. At numerous places within the image, the researchers manipulated the gauge so that the needle would appear to be perpendicular to the surface of the torso. This provided information about perceived depth.
While the torso looked "squashed" when viewed from an angle, the researchers discovered that changes in viewing direction had little effect on how the observer saw it.
"When I move my gaze with respect to the torso, I do perceive a slight rotation especially in the region of the buttocks, but to my eye this effect is not nearly as compelling as the one I experience with eyes or a pointing figure," Todd said.
He explained that the position of an individual's pupils provides information about where he or she is looking. Paintings and photographs can manipulate human perception because viewers think they see figures in three dimensions on what is essentially a flat, two-dimensional surface.
"I suspect it might even work with a smiley face, provided that it contained a circular or oval shaped eye with a pupil in the center," he said.
James Cutting, a psychology professor at Cornell University, told Discovery News that the analysis conducted by Todd and his colleagues is "rigorous" and its resulting database of far, near, and 3-D points is "extensive."
Cutting said his own research findings on how people perceive pictures of faces and rotating objects, as if they were in a movie theater sitting in the front row side aisle, were very consistent with the torso study. They also reveal that even a seemingly bad movie seat may not have too much affect on the moviegoer's view.
"Rather than measure apparent slant with gauge probes, I simply asked viewers about what they saw — did something look rigid or nonrigid, did the face look distorted," Cutting said. "Basically, not until one looks at a picture from a fairly steep angle, say 45 degrees where 90 degrees is straight on, is one bothered by the distortions."
15 outubro 2004
14 outubro 2004
Y aquí una que me volvió loco: el color de la casilla A es el mismo de la casilla B. Podéis comprobar los valores hexadecimales si, como yo, no terminasteis de creéroslo ;-)
For years the more robust souls here at National Review have prided themselves on being to the right of Genghis Khan. Now, however, comes Jack Weatherford, a professor of anthropology at Macalester College, to make the case for a kinder, gentler Genghis in his revisionist history of the fast rise and quicker fall of the Mongol Empire.
Blessed with an eye for the main chance, and a capacity for killing friends and family at propitious moments, the boy born in 1162 as Temujin dominated his tribe and, by 1204, captained it to triumph over its rivals. As they exerted their majesty over an expanding realm, this shaggy steppe-chieftain and his descendants became the emperors of kings.
Genghis sportingly offered enemies a choice: surrender or die. If they decided to fight, the khan was as good as his word, and they died — all of them, men, women, and children — but those who elected to pay fealty to the conqueror lived in peace under Mongol protection. The price of this privilege for the defeated was the mass-sacrifice of their native aristocracy and the export of their treasure to his coffers.
So far, Genghis Khan may not sound like a compassionate conservative, but Weatherford argues that his subject was a great deal more tolerant and far-sighted than his barbaric reputation suggests. Suborned peoples, of all creeds and cultures, were permitted to conduct their affairs autonomously — so long as they recognized his paramountcy. He was the first of the great free traders, a meritocrat, and, by the lights of his time, a nicely enlightened despot. You could do worse than being ruled by Genghis Khan, and many did.
After his death in 1227, his heirs bickered, yet still the empire grew, an achievement owed to the enterprising generals Genghis had nurtured, who continued their mentor's policy of attacking the world, as well as to the swift, and expertly regimented, Mongol cavalry. Much of China fell under the Mongols' sway, and, far to the west, the sultans, the Caesars, and the throned dynasts of Europe trembled at the approach of these strange and fierce Asiatics.
But within a couple of generations, this rags-to-riches tale turned into a cliché, with a cliché's inevitable ending: The descendants of the great khan, swaggering with booty and rather too fond of their mighty pleasure-domes (which they did decree), lost their will to power. There were the usual civil wars, several failed campaigns, a spate of poisonings, and a few palace coups. Ominously, no longer were the Mongols feared. And then, in the mid-1300s, the Black Death visited itself upon the Mongols as on others. Trade ceased, as did the flow of tribute. The Mongol periphery lost contact with the Mongol core, and soon afterward the Mongol Empire just up and slipped away.
The Mongol overlords, who were often outnumbered by their subjects by a thousand to one, were either absorbed or expelled. The Russians and the Arabs threw off the Mongol yoke, while the Turks, Chinese, Koreans, Persians, and Indians fused their cultures with that of their satraps to create hybrids (the most famous of which was India's Mughal dynasty, which lasted until the British Raj). Here and there, Mongol princes clung to power in third-rate fiefdoms, but they were pathetic creatures, living mostly on sufferance. The last ruling descendant of Genghis, Alim Khan, emir of Bukhara, was deposed in 1920 by the Soviets, heralds of a new world empire.
Despite its titanic expanse, its wealth, and its impressive accomplishments, this empire created nothing and left little of use (apart from a few lexicographical relics — horde, hurray, mogul — and a tongue-twister that I recall went something like this: "How many boards could the Mongols hoard if the Mongol hordes got bored?"). They left no monuments or distinctive architecture, no formal religion, no scientific breakthroughs, no enduring economic, philosophical, or legal system, no great art, and hardly any literature.
The Mongols were the thieving magpies, not the busy beavers, of the Middle Ages: Instead of diligently building and developing things, whenever they saw something new and shiny they needed or liked, they took it. And, for some time, they needed a lot, for, owing to their nomadism, the Mongols were ignorant of such basics as how to bake bread or make pottery. Later, Muslim mathematicians, Chinese anatomists, German miners, Persian merchants, Italian silversmiths, English translators, Indian astronomers, all trekked — sometimes involuntarily — to the court of the khan and performed their miracles.
But despite the cosmopolitanism and sophistication of their empire of illusion, one can't help feeling that the Mongols remained, at heart, a hunter-herder steppe people who lucked out and made it big, yet were happiest when down home on the range: They were the Beverly Hillbillies of history's conquistadors.
Weatherford devoted years to this very fine book, and it stands as a necessary corrective to the Enlightenment-invented view of Genghis Khan as an unbridled savage. The author followed the trail of the Mongols through "Russia, China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan," and then, for good measure, undertook the "sea route of Marco Polo from South China to Vietnam, through the Strait of Malacca to India, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and on to Venice." There is excellent editing throughout — only a single typo, the irresistible "Genghis Kahn" — and just a couple of stylistic infelicities (I briefly sighted the monstrous phrase "snuck in") amid its many splendid passages.
Two other small cavils. First, Weatherford's enthusiastic determination to prove that the Mongols "made" the modern world can sometimes lead him astray. It is not true, to take just one example, that German High Command based its blitzkrieg doctrine on a study of Mongol cavalry operations circa 1250; the Panzer generals in fact took their cue from such distinctly un-Mongol-like figures as British military theorists J. F. C. Fuller and Basil Liddell Hart.
Then there is Weatherford's over-reliance on a single source, The Secret History of the Mongols, an enigmatic 13th-century biography of Genghis Khan. As any medievalist will tell you, never ever unquestioningly cite military estimates given by contemporary chroniclers, who are invariably fabulists in this regard. Nevertheless, Weatherford repeatedly quotes impossible numbers without raising an eyebrow. Were there really "hundreds of thousands" of Mongol cavalrymen at Khubilai Khan's command? How likely is it that "25,000" Europeans were killed at one clash alone in 1241? Consider that at the near-contemporaneous battle of Evesham in England in 1265, which was regarded by medieval observers as a bloodbath of unbelievable savagery, some 30 barons were massacred, along with perhaps another several hundred foot soldiers. Or that Field Marshal Haig lost 20,000 troops dead on the first day of the Somme in 1916, but that stupendous figure out of 600,000 men.[link to the full Printer-friendly version]
11 outubro 2004
Jacques Derrida, 74, originator of the diabolically difficult school of philosophy known as deconstructionism, died Oct. 9, the office of French President Jacques Chirac announced. French media reports said that the cause was pancreatic cancer and that he died at a Paris hospital.
Mr. Derrida (pronounced "deh-ree-DAH") inspired and infuriated a generation of intellectuals and students with his argument that the meaning of a collection of words is not fixed and unchanging, an argument he most famously capsulized as "there is nothing outside the text."
An immensely influential thinker, Mr. Derrida's seminal idea permeated college campuses during the 1960s, '70s and '80s. "Deconstruction" has become one of the few terms that, like "existential" a generation or two earlier, has escaped from dense philosophical and literary papers to pepper modern culture, from movie reviews to government policy pronouncements.
"With him, France has given the world one of its greatest contemporary philosophers, one of the major figures of intellectual life of our time," Chirac said in a statement.
The lack of fixed meaning in a text did not keep Mr. Derrida from publishing hundreds of books. The fact that there is no single meaning does not mean there is no meaning, he said, and it doesn't excuse writers, thinkers and speakers from trying to be as clear as possible about what they think they mean.
For 17 years, from 1962 to 1979, he refused to be photographed for publication, in an effort to keep his face -- square, with a strong nose, thick eyebrows, dark skin and bushy white hair -- from becoming part of the investigation for meaning in his work. He also rejected the characterization of him as a dandy for his snappy dress, even as he said he liked the description.
Deconstruction, which he introduced in the 1960s, both electrified and polarized those with the intellectual muscle to unwind its implications. The language he and others used in discussing it was deliberately dense, complex and, some said, circular. He bristled when confronted with the difficulty of his work.
"Why don't you ask a physicist or mathematician about difficulty?" he told a New York Times reporter in 1998, "a little frostily," she said. He continued: "Deconstruction requires work. If deconstruction is so obscure, why are the audiences in my lectures in the thousands? They feel they understand enough to understand more."
Language, he said, is inadequate to provide a clear and unambiguous view of reality. In other words, the fixed meaning of an essay, a book, a personal letter, a scientific treatise or a recipe dissolves when hidden ambiguities and contradictions are revealed. These contradictions, inevitable in every piece of writing, he said, reveal deep fissures in the foundation of the Western world's civilizations, cultures and creations.
Supporters said this insight into the layered meanings and incompleteness of language subverts reason and rationality, stripping centuries of assumptions from words and allowing fresh ideas to emerge.
Critics called it nihilism (the denial of the meaning of existence, or denial of the existence of any basis for knowledge and truth), a charge he vehemently denied.
His work, to be sure, has attracted greater enthusiasm from literary critics and language professors than from formally trained philosophers or scientists. Some Cambridge University faculty members, objecting to their school's plan to award Mr. Derrida an honorary degree in 1992, derided his work for "denying the distinctions between fact and fiction, observation and imagination, evidence and prejudice."
He also was drawn into debates about a friend, Yale professor Paul DeMan, who wrote anti-Semitic articles in Nazi-occupied Belgium, and about an intellectual forebear, Martin Heidegger, whose amoral attitude led him to embrace Nazism.
In his own life, he was part of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, in favor of freedom of expression in pre-1989 Czechoslovakia and for the rights of Algerian immigrants in France. He told several interviewers that he really wanted to be a soccer player but didn't have the athletic talent.
Mr. Derrida was born in El Biar, Algeria, the middle child in a Jewish family whose father was a salesman. At age 12, he was dismissed from school as the Vichy government's anti-Semitic laws emerged.
He was a good enough student later to be admitted to Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, where he earned an advanced degree in philosophy in 1956. He taught philosophy at the University of Paris at the Sorbonne and at the Ecole des Hautes Etude en Sciences Sociales.
[in many web sites, Chronicle of Higher Ed ... NYT ... Washington Post ... LAT ... Reuters ... BBC ... Le Monde ... Telegraph, this one specifically from the Washington Post]
08 outubro 2004
2 – Which Pink Floyd album can be seen in the Stanley Kubrick movie, A Clockwork Orange?
3 – Which Pink Floyd song has 36 different drummers playing on it?
4 – How many different types of animals have been named in the lyrics of Pink Floyd songs?
5 – Name the former member of The Groundhogs who performed The Wall live with Pink Floyd.
6 – Which Pink Floyd band member has appeared on every Pink Floyd record?
7 – Which Floyd album was blasted into space with Soviet cosmonauts in 1988 and orbited the earth aboard the MIR Space Station?
8 – What alternate title was used for the Pink Floyd album Relics in the EMI tape archives prior to its release?
9 – How is actress Naomi Watts related to Pink Floyd?
10 – Name the one song on The Wall album that features a duet between Roger Waters and Richard Wright.
11 – What US band did Pink Floyd stay with during their brief US tour in November 1967?
12 – On which Floyd song do members of the New York City Opera perform?
13 – What was the original worldwide release date of The Dark Side of the Moon?
14 – On which Pink Floyd album can the Elfin Oak be seen?
15 – What is the largest inflatable animal that has accompanied Pink Floyd on tour?
16 – Who is Blue Ocean and what is his relationship to Pink Floyd?
17 – What is the name of Pink Floyd’s first album, and where did the title come from?
18 – In which Pink Floyd promo video can key player Richard Wright be seen playing a trombone?
19 – What is the name of the musician who played clarinet on the song Outside The Wall from The Wall?
20 – The song Chapter 24 refers to a chapter in which book?
21 – Which animated TV series featured the Pink Floyd inflatable pig purchased by Peter Frampton at a Pink Floyd yard sale?
22 – Who sang the song Seamus from the Meddle album?
23 – Which piece of music did Pink Floyd perform for the first time in over 20 years on their 1994 Division Bell tour?
24 – Name four Pink Floyd songs that have been censored for radio play.
25 – What is the name of the guitarist who played nylon-string classical guitar on the song Is There Anybody Out There? on The Wall album?
26 – On which Pink Floyd song can the voice of actor Marlon Brando be heard?
27 – Who wrote the first song on the first Pink Floyd album, and who wrote the last song on the last Pink Floyd album?
28 – Name three connections between Doctor Who and Pink Floyd.
29 – What do the first letters of the real first names of Syd Barrett, Roger Water’s father and Roger Waters spell?
30 – Which Pink Floyd song has the most words in its lyrics?
06 outubro 2004
An insight into the current German psyche has been revealed in the country's largest ever poll of favourite books.
In a national project that mirrored the BBC's The Big Read, the German public placed The Lord of the Rings at the top of their most loved literature. The list of prized publications, in which the Bible ranked second, offers a glimpse into a German public which, according to some, is desperate to escape its "current air of pessimism". Around 250,000 people took part in Das Grosse Lesen, organised by the television station ZDF to raise the profile of reading in the lead-up to the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Perhaps most surprising in the results was the success of New Labour's former darling, Ken Follett's book The Pillars of the Earth, which came third. It made only 33rd spot in the BBC's poll. When asked about the success of his book, Follett told ZDF viewers: "People predicted that a book about the middle ages wouldn't be successful, but the people of Germany have proved them wrong." The most popular books featured either escapist, moralistic or self-improvement literature, such as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince and Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist.
Although these books were dubbed "esoteric bibles" or dismissed as "kitsch" by members of ZDF's studio panel, the results could hint at the current mood which prevails in the country. Elisabeth Lienert, a literary specialist at the University of Bremen, said: "The mood of people in Germany is very low at the moment.
"This current air of pessimism is due to the deteriorating economic situation. People need some sort of way to escape and they are finding the answer in fantasy literature such as The Lord of the Rings and The Pillars of the Earth." Professor Lienert added that she was surprised at the success of the Bible, as it was "not usually popular to admit to reading the Bible". The BBC's Big Read results revealed the British public was largely loyal to its own authors, such as Jane Austen, George Orwell and Tolkien.
The results of Das Grosse Lesen shed light on a country which preferred to embrace international publications.
"One of the problems with the Germans is that they are not proud of their traditions and culture. They reject their own writers and turn to international bestsellers which are promoted by the media," said Prof Lienert.
ZDF's quest in launching Das Grosse Lesen was to raise the profile of reading in Germany. The head of the board of directors of the reading foundation, Dieter Schormann, said: "Putting reading in the limelight is the best thing that could have happened to Germany."
ZDF's Das grosse Lesen1 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
2 The Bible
3 The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
4 Perfume - Patrick Süskind
5 The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
6 Buddenbrooks - Thomas Mann
7 The Physician - Noah Gordon
8 The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
9 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - JK Rowling
10 Pope Joan - Donna Cross
[from The Guardian]
"Below is a small version of an image I made. It's a mosaic composed of the photos of the American service men and women who have died in Iraq. No photograph is used more than three times. Here is a medium-sized version, 800 x 925 pixels. Here is the full-sized version, 1890 x 2209 pixels. I call the image 'War President'":
[the links to the different sizes of the mosaic are slashdotted,
let us hope they'll be up soon again]
How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to replace a lightbulb?
The Answer is TEN:
1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed
2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed
3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb
4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either: "For changing the light bulb or for darkness"
5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Haliburton for the new light bulb
6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a stepladder under the banner "Light! Bulb Change Accomplished"
7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally "in the dark"
8. One to viciously smear #7
9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light bulb-changing policy all along
10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.
Tuna's Red Glare? It Could Be Carbon Monoxide
BUYERS of fresh tuna, whether at the sushi bar or the supermarket, often look for cherry-red flesh to tell them that the fish is top-quality. But it has become increasingly likely that the fish is bright red because it has been sprayed with carbon monoxide.
The global seafood trade has expanded so much over the last decade that tuna, once a seasonal delicacy, is available year-round. But getting it to consumers while it still looks fresh is difficult. Tuna quickly turns an unappetizing brown (or chocolate, as it is called in the industry), whether it is fresh or conventionally frozen and thawed.
Carbon monoxide, a gas that is also a component of wood smoke, prevents the flesh from discoloring. It can even turn chocolate tuna red, according to some who have seen the process.
People in the seafood industry estimate that 25 million pounds of treated tuna, about 30 percent of total tuna imports, were brought into the United States last year, mostly from processors in Southeast Asia. Retailers in the United States buy it already treated.
The Food and Drug Administration says the process is harmless. But Japan, Canada and the countries of the European Union have banned the practice because of fears that it could be used to mask spoiled fish.
Carbon monoxide preserves only the color of the fish, not its quality. Suppliers and retailers who use the treated fish say the process allows them to sell high-quality, flash-frozen fish that still looks good enough to eat. Jerry Bocchino, an owner of Pescatore, a fish store in Grand Central Market in New York, said that his sales of tuna have tripled since he switched to the treated kind two months ago.
"With fresh tuna, you're always racing the clock to keep the color and keep it from spoiling," Mr. Bocchino said. "And once it turns brown, no one wants to buy it. People love the color of this stuff."
Tim Lauer, a seafood dealer in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, said that most sushi bars and supermarkets there have switched to the product since it was introduced in the late 1990's. "I've lost all my sushi customers for tuna, since I won't sell it," he said.
Just because a slice of tuna is brown, it does not mean it is not fresh. And other factors determine the color, including the fat content, species and cut. The finest fresh bluefin, which sells for up to $40 a pound at Tokyo's wholesale fish markets, is not a deep red but a pale pink because of the fine web of white fat that permeates the red flesh. Top-quality toro is often a brownish red.
But for most consumers around the world, vendors say, lollipop-red flesh signals freshness and quality. Tuna treated with carbon monoxide is bright red when first defrosted, and fades within a couple of days to a watermelon pink. But "you could put it in the trunk of your car for a year, and it wouldn't turn brown," said one sales representative at Anova Foods, a distributor in Atlanta, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The use of carbon monoxide in food is hardly new, as any barbecue or smoked salmon fan should know. (Wood smoke contains carbon monoxide.) But the gas used by many overseas producers, although tasteless, is more concentrated; it can be as much as 100 percent carbon monoxide, said Bill Kowalski, an owner of Hawaii International Seafood.
American processors like Hawaii International and Anova Foods are racing to market their own versions of the technology, using wood smoke that is filtered to remove the elements that make food taste smoky. These processors use lower concentrations of the gas and tag their product with trademarked names like Tasteless Smoke, Clearsmoke and Crystal Fresh.
Opinion about carbon-monoxide-treated tuna is sharply divided, and illustrates the complex issues that consumers have to wade through at the fish market.
To supporters like Mr. Bocchino, Mr. Kowalski and Dr. Steve Otwell, a researcher at the University of Florida, carbon monoxide treatment is an important advance in food safety that accommodates the realities of the marketplace. Instead of fresh tuna that is likely to spoil quickly, they reason, consumers get a high-quality frozen product that can be transported safely, thawed when needed, and keep its fresh look. "The industry scrambles to get fresh tuna to market, but the reality is that by the time a long-line Pacific tuna makes it to an American supermarket, it could be as much as 30 days out of the water," Dr. Otwell said. "That's much more of a health risk than treated tuna, as long as the raw material is good and the treatment is controlled."
Roman Choudhury, the manager of two sushi restaurants in Manhattan, buys treated tuna when he cannot get it fresh, particularly for tuna rolls. "At my price point, it's almost impossible to have a steady supply of fresh tuna," he said. "And people always, always want tekka maki."
Detractors call the process risky and dishonest. "There's no reason to do this other than to deceive the consumer," Mr. Lauer said. "There are natural solutions to the problem of browning."
One is ultra-low-temperature freezing, which keeps tuna at about 80 degrees below zero for months or even years without browning. But maintaining such low temperatures during the long trip from boat to plate is a very expensive proposition.
Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group, said, "Anything that masks the true age of a piece of fish is a public safety risk."
As tuna ages, it becomes more likely to cause scombrotoxin poisoning, which is rarely severe or fatal. It is the most common form of food poisoning from seafood in the United States, the Center said.
The F.D.A. has put carbon-monoxide-treated tuna on its list of substances generally regarded as safe. The agency permits its use to preserve the color of fresh tuna, not to enhance brown tuna, and requires stores to label treated fish. But they often do not.
What does all this mean at the market? Any tuna that is hot pink has probably been treated with carbon monoxide. Tuna that is bright red may be extremely fresh, and therefore very expensive, or may have been treated with the gas.
"Outside of Hawaii bright red tuna that is selling for less than $12 a pound is probably treated," Mr. Lauer said. "On the other hand, there's nothing to stop people from selling treated tuna for $20 a pound if they can get away with it."
[from the NYT]
01 outubro 2004
Ah, the joys of geography...
The question was "How many hours does it take to go to Japan by car?". (true story)
He didn't know where Japan is, and even bofore that, he didn't know that Japan is an island.
And then, I thought. "What kind of world map is pictured in his mind?"
This was a beginning to think that it might be fun to gather those mixed up recognitions of countries and visualize it as a world map imagined by the fools in the world.
First, the countries are roughly allocated. From now on, countries will be added based on participants' comments. If you "don't know" or "don't even care" about the countries that are added, please submit a comment such as "Huh?" .
> Tanzania has been added.
If there're many comments or questions like that, relevant country will be downsized or deleted. To the contrary, territory of relevant country will be moved or enlarged if there are comments like "more to the right", "larger". At the same time, comments about positional information of any landmark such as a pyramid of Egypt is appreciated.
PS: Don't miss where Portugal and Spain are...
109. Top part of Iran became Israel (not that this won't happen soon)
110. Ireland became London (he he)
119. Due to a Portuguese report saying "Americans often told me that Portugal is
a part of Spain.", bottom part of Spain became Portugal. (this is old news)
94. An Island above Spain became Scotland due to a posting by another stupid American thinking "Scotland is an island near Spain".