jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2007

Christmas Carol

http://www.thecompassgroup.biz/merryxmas.swf

MERRY CHRISTMAS



With our best wishes to you all.
Our gratitude to our students and Companies for their trust.
Our very special thanks to our teachers,Donald, Megan, Maria, Sabina, Anthony, Kaveh, Paul, Almudena, Sally, Lona and our dear Robert, for having done a splendid and creative job, helping us in the development of new and exciting activities that have helped to make the learning of English (and German, thanks Johanna) a richening experience (and that comes straight from the mouth of our students).

Seasons greetings to you all. See you in January.

martes, 27 de noviembre de 2007

Maltrato a las Mujeres, Violencia de Género


Extracted from Dragonslippers by Rosalind B.Penfold as published by HarperCollins Copyright Rosalind Penfold 2006
Desgraciadamente, habrá muchas mujeres que se reconocerán en este excelente libro, una recopilación de los diarios dibujados de Rosalind Penfold. Son dibujos que realizó a lo largo de muchos años en los que vivió una relación destructiva con un hombre violento. En su libro cuenta como pudo escapar de una situación que para muchas mujeres acaba siendo una trampa mortal. Terriblemente desasosegador, el libro refleja la violencia doméstica a través de unos dibujos de trazos infantiles . Creo que no está traducido al español. Os recomiendo el extracto completo que reproduce el First Post.

lunes, 26 de noviembre de 2007

First Global Evening


Wednesday night is the big night!! FaceToFace will be holding its first Global Evening about Australia.

Anthony Bozic will be talking about his country and after his lecture we will be serving a light dinner.

A wonderful excuse to get together and meet interesting people with whom to practice your English.
We'll hear a lot of useful facts about Australia and have a great time over a glass of wine and a good meal.

If you'd like to come along, make sure to book before tomorrow lunchtime - we have practically full house so don't leave it till the last minute.
Call Patsy or Francisca or e-mail to confirm attendance.

Welcome and enjoy!

domingo, 25 de noviembre de 2007

For the homeless

An estimated 100 million people in the world are homeless.

A sunbeam to warm you,
A moonbeam to charm you,
A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

domingo, 18 de noviembre de 2007

Change

Enjoy. (Swedish with Spanish subtitles)

miércoles, 7 de noviembre de 2007

Emily Dickinson Workshop



"My hair is bold like the chestnut burr; and my eyes, like the sherry in the glass that the guest leaves."

Para los amantes de Emily Dickinson, FaceToFace anuncia el comienzo del Emily Dickinson Workshop el próximo martes 13 de noviembre.
También recordaros que el lunes 12 comienza el curso de literatura Norteamericana.
Más información en la página web de FaceToFace

Un mundo sostenible

A pesar de parecerme importante la labor de Al Gore como portavoz de los científicos que intentan concientizarnos acerca del cambio climático, he de reconocer que su campaña tiene un tufillo que me produce cierto rechazo.

Intentando analizar el por qué, y dejando a un lado consideraciones como las de cobrar por hablar, tener el monopolio y copyright de gráficos, estadísticas, etc, vivir en una casa que consume más electricidad que toda una ciudad pequeña, he llegado a la conclusión de que es el lenguaje que utiliza lo que me inquieta. Los "apóstoles" que elige en cada país para difundir "la palabra", el "apocalipsis" al que estamos abocados. En la larga lista de recomendaciones que hace está, como no, el "orar si somos creyentes". Tiene todos los ingredientes de una nueva religión, empezando por el de la culpa. Nuestro planeta está en una situación desesperada debido al despilfarro de recursos por parte de gobiernos desaprensivos, pero también porque nosotros, cada uno a su manera, despilfarramos. Olvidamos apagar las luces al salir de una habitación, dejamos correr el agua de la ducha hasta que se calienta, y así hasta el infinito.

¿Por qué para concientizarnos hay que apelar al sentimiento de culpa? Supongo que es porque funciona, y basta con hacer un repaso de las religiones para constatarlo.
Me parece mucho más realista y efectiva esta profecía hindú:

"Sólo después de que el último árbol sea cortado, sólo después de
que el último río sea contaminado, sólo después de que se
pesque el último pez, sólo entonces descubrirás que el dinero no se puede comer"

martes, 23 de octubre de 2007

Anubis sails up the Thames

This is one of the most beautiful videos I've seen lately. It is Anubis sailing up the Thames all the way to Trafalgar Sq. for the Tutankhamun exhibition. The Guardian God of the Dead on his way to watch over Tutankhamun.
The video is followed by advertising, I'm afraid, because I was unable to find any other clip on the net. I saw it on TV, in the news and find it breathtaking. Enjoy


lunes, 22 de octubre de 2007

El País Nuevo

Unas líneas para comentar el nuevo formato de el periódico El País que siguiendo la línea de las publicaciones americanas (consecuencia, supongo del gran incremento de la franja de población que está entre los 50-80 años)ha aumentado en uno o dos cuerpos el tamaño de la tipografía. Estoy segura de que no soy la única que lo agradece inmensamente.
También un diez en los contenidos. Más de uno se habrá pasado todo el domingo leyendo el periódico.
En cuanto al artículo "Cambiemos el rumbo del mundo", reconozco que al ver los restos de periódicos de toda una semana empiezo a pensar que leer la prensa en Internet definitivamente acabará siendo la alternativa más lógica- muy a mi pesar.
Veo que en este artículo no se hace mención a una campaña noruega de eco-guerrilla que tuvo mucho éxito hace años. Consistía en quitar los envases superfluos de los productos en los supermercados y dejarlos en el lineal, pasando por caja únicamente el producto en cuestión. Dejaban las cajas de los tubos de dentífrico, por ejemplo, o las que llevan una lata en su interior. Supuso un caos en los supermercados (los códigos vienen generalmente en el envoltorio externo) pero al parecer llevó a más de un fabricante a replantearse el packaging de su producto.
No puede ser tan difícil cortar un poco con tanto despilfarro de papel, cartón y lo que es peor aún (dado que son objetos imposibles) los blisters de plástico.

domingo, 21 de octubre de 2007

American Lit Course


An important shift can be observed over the last few decades in the field of learning that could be summarized in: less emphasis on teachers and teaching - more stress on learners and learning. This reflects on language education and applied linguistics in many ways that also apply to the learning of a foreign language.
Literature plays a major role in involving students in the learning process inasmuch as it provokes an individual and personal response to a specific text. Each learner creates a different relationship with the same text.
Literature is rich in potential for group discussion, enhancing language learning and developing comprehension skills.
It is an unbeatable source of vocabulary and the road leading straight into a world that is alien to us as foreigners but which we must gain access to if we want to master a foreign language.
If you are interested in this Seminar on American Literature, please check out our website for more details.facetoface-personalenglishtrainers.com

martes, 16 de octubre de 2007

Think green my friend


Congratulations to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, awarded "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"
No matter how many scientific uncertainties, the truth is he has helped to change perception on climate change the world over.
The future is green, my friend.

Sustainable Development

A lesson for real-estate developers, builders, town-planners, this extract from President Theodore Roosevelt's speech at the Grand Canyon in May 1903: "In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so
far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the
rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection
with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country - to
keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I was delighted to
learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe railroad people in deciding
not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope you
will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a ho-
tel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublim-
ity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon.
Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it.
The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.
What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's
children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great
sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.
We have gotten past the stage, my fellow-citizens, when we are
to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something
to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present
generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. What-
ever it is, handle it so that your children's children will get the
benefit of it.

A Royal Flush


Warm congratulations to Doris Lessing for a much-deserved Nobel Prize!
Brief press release of the Nobel Prize Org. describes her as"that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny"
Sitting at her doorstep surrounded by journalists, she says: "I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all. It's a royal flush."
You can listen to a telephone interview at: nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2007/lessing-interview
Thanks, UNGA for the image.

miércoles, 10 de octubre de 2007

The Crack


If you happen to walk into the Tate Modern one of these days, fear not, the uneven crack opening under your feet is the result of no earthquake or faulty construction.

It is Doris Salcedo's work "Shibboleth".

The meaning of this term is the usage of language indicative of one's social or regional origin, or more broadly speaking, any practice that identifies members of a group. It was originally used by the Hebrews to distinguish the members of a group whose dialect lacked a particular sound from the members of another group whose dialect did include that particular sound.
A shibboleth is a kind of linguistic password: A way of speaking (a pronunciation, or the use of a particular expression) that identifies one as a member of an 'in' group. The purpose of a shibboleth is exclusionary as much as inclusionary: A person whose way of speaking violates a shibboleth is identified as an outsider and thereby excluded by the group.

Doris Salcedo said in an interview that she wants people to forget the "technical" aspects - how on earth did they drill that? sort of question - and think of the MEANING of her work. This reminded me of the impression I had when visiting the last ARCO fair in Madrid. Everyone poking at the works, apparently far more interested in the canvas, plotter, metal or digital whatever being used than in the actual work. Container prevails over content.

Back to semantics, the chasm brought to mind the lines of a poem by Seamus Heaney:

"by God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it."

The son lives in a different world, uses a different language, yet both tasks are related. Both dig beneath the surface of things, cultivating the possibilities of what may grow under.
Green weeds are bound to sprout from Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth.

lunes, 8 de octubre de 2007

Best Speeches of XXCentury



Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lou Gehrig, Winston Churchill,Douglas MacArthur, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, JR. or Anwar Sadat are only some of the gifted speakers whose speeches were decisive in the XXCentury.
Churchill's speeches are a gold mine for quotes (and misquotes)Who hasn't heard "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat?"
John Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech was perhaps the most famous single moment of the Cold War.
One could argue that war spurs oratory brilliance, but the world is still at war in many parts of the world and politicians' utterances are far from convincing. The polish seems to have worn off .
Good speakers have shifted from the world of politics to the world of business. Steve Job's (CEO's Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios) address to students at Stanford University is a good example. It's a good speech, but "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish" does fall a little flat all things considered...
If you're interested in this subject, FACETOFACE (Madrid) is holding a workshop starting tomorrow on BEST SPEECHES OF THE XXCENTURY. For more info:www.facetoface-personalenglishtrainers.com
Thanks, UNGA for the poster.

jueves, 4 de octubre de 2007

miércoles, 3 de octubre de 2007

It's only Words


New words are added to the English language at a rate of about 900 words every year. The methods used for admitting new words officially is not scientific . Generally, the word must be used by people in positions of influence or people who get a lot of media coverage. It also needs to be widespread, (here's where the Media, especially TV and the Internet come in) and in use for a certain period of time (how long is arbitrary) The criteria used for admittance is far from strict, it obeys more to a hunch that a word everyone's using "is here to stay".

Aside from the most common ways of creating new words, such as
joining two existing words, (dirty dancing), adding a prefix or a suffix (on-growing) or "blending" words (breakfast+lunch=brunch), you can also re-create, using an existing word in a different way or giving it a different meaning. This includes using a noun as a verb (to doorstep someone) or an adjective as a noun.
Or else you can shorten long words and when this shorter version is used widely enough, it becomes a word in its own right (porn instead of pornography) just like Acronyms do. (AIDS)
You can also introduce words from foreign languages, usually to describe something we haven't got a word for in English, such as siesta, which is slightly longer than a nap or fuselage introduced in aviation language from the French.
And last, but not least, you can come up with completely new or invented words.

I personally love the latter (though I don't recommend their use when sitting for an exam. Not before they are included in the dictionary, anyway.) But don't be afraid to use them in speech. Provided a word is descriptive enough and makes sense (some don't even have to make too much sense - the word googol, that means 1 with 100 noughts after, was invented by a mathematician's young nephew), go ahead and say it! Who knows? Your word might end up in the dictionary.
What happens when words are no longer used? Small abridged dictionaries might drop them, but you'll still find them in the complete versions. They are always there, ready for revival.

One of the most appealing features of the English language is, I believe, precisely this flexibility with words. Any lover of Scrabble will understand what I mean. I had a Dutch friend who refused to remove the y she had conveniently placed at the end of "further". What's wrong with saying "I live a little furthery"?, she asked. It stresses the "little further" a little further still. Soon it became the standing joke in our group of friends. Never made it to the Oxford dictionary, I'm afraid.

Few purists are against this practice that has helped to make English what it is.
Grammar, though, is another matter altogether. Far less flexible and yet..."You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country." Robert Frost. But we'll talk about that some other time.

More interesting facts on linguistics in http://itotd.com/articles/549/portmanteau/

NOTE:The image above is not mine, it comes from a website called something like "abeautifulrevolution" but I was unable to find it. My compliments to the person who created it and my apology if I am in any way infringing his copyright.

One perfect rose

This e-mail I received today is in line with the dreary weather. I'm sure my friend won't mind my posting it here. In spite of being down in the dumps, she always manages to make me smile. I share her love for Dorothy Parker and her acid, intelligent wit.

I spent all morning adding and substracting. Ends just refused to meet. I decided to deposit my short-term future in hands of a coin - Heads, I buy food and eat this month - Tails, I pay my rent and keep my landlord happy and even put down some weight in the process. OOOhhh, politically incorrect Dorothy Parker comes to mind:

A single flow'r he sent me,
since we met.
All tenderly his messenger
he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew
still wet--
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine,
do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck
to get
One perfect rose.

domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2007

DIA DEL TRADUCTOR


Ayer sábado 29 se celebró el Día del Traductor. Somos muchísimas las personas que desde todos los rincones del mundo intentamos interpretar y trasladar al idioma de destino con la mayor fidelidad posible las ideas que otro ha escrito en una lengua diferente.

La búsqueda de la mayor aproximación posible al lenguaje y al espíritu que han inspirado la obra original, estimulan la investigación, la curiosidad y el interés, llevándote de forma natural a la empatía.

Ningún tema, por árido que resulte a primera vista, te deja indiferente. Cada traducción te aporta algo de conocimiento.

Me faltan palabras (¡qué dulce tortura!) para describir el placer que siento cuando traduzco documentos o ensayos que exploran temas que me llegan al alma... ya estoy entrando en lo puramente subjetivo. Pero es que la traducción tiene mucho de subjetivo. Por eso es creativa aunque salvaguarde el original.

Dice Javier Marías en Babelia (El País) de este sábado, refiriéndose a la traducción de Tristram Shandy: "El traductor es un escritor privilegiado que tiene la oportunidad de reescribir obras maestras (y esto se aplica a las obras no tan maestras, añado yo) en su propia lengua."

La traducción es una actividad en principio solitaria. Por eso, una de las mayores satisfacciones que me ha proporcionado Internet es la de poder formar parte de un portal de traductores de todo el mundo al que acudo en busca de ayuda cuando una palabra se me resiste. Nunca falla - desde Cuba, Catamarca, la Patagonia, Méjico o Santo Domingo, siempre hay algún traductor pegado al ordenador (o la compu) y - voilá! la dichosa palabra pasa de su cabeza al teclado, del teclado al ciberespacio para aterrizar en mi pantalla y salvarme la vida.

Entre todos creamos lazos que tejemos con palabras.

Saludo desde aquí a Miguel(Sir Galahad), Swatchka, Clau, Patricia, Noni, Taña, Lydia, Candy y tantos, tantos otros colegas de Proz por los que siento verdadero afecto y gratitud.(aunque hace ya dos o tres meses que no entro, me reincorporaré en cualquier momento).

Brindo por Proz con un vinito blanco desde Madrid. Chicos, somos unos privilegiados (hoy no es día para hablar de deadlines or rates).

martes, 25 de septiembre de 2007

Basta de murallas - Bring down the wall


Image: Banksy - balloongirl

MENDING WALL
by: Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen ground swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having though of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

From "Complete Poems of Robert Frost", 1916

sábado, 22 de septiembre de 2007

ENJOY!

Start off your day with a smile! Cartoons by Dan Piraro.








For more of Dan Piraro's hilarious cartoons, please visit his website.

viernes, 21 de septiembre de 2007

DOD PROCTER



Dod Procter (1890 -1972) es una pintora británica de quien se dijo en su momento que había dotado a la figura humana de una visión nueva, lo que equivaldría a la creación de un "estilo siglo XX" en lo que al retrato se refería.
En 1927 su cuadro Morning, fue elegido Cuadro del Año en el Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, obteniendo gran reconocimiento y admiración por parte del público y de la crítica. La obra fue expuesta en Nueva York y en diversos museos y galerías de Gran Bretaña y fue comprada por el Daily Mail y regalado a la Tate Gallery. Su fama se desvaneció con la misma rapidez con la que había surgido.
Poco se ha hablado de ella después de su muerte.
Casada con otro artista, Ernest Procter, pintor reconocido cuyo mejor cuadro alegórico ‘The Merry-Go-Round’ – alcanzó una cifra astronómica en una subasta reciente de Phillips en Londres, su obra ha permanecido a la sombra de la de su marido, con el que también colaboró en la decoración de un palacio en Rangoon.
Penlee House le rinde ahora un merecido homenaje en una exposición.

Exposición: Dod Procter, Penlee House, Penzance, to 24 November. A Singular Vision, by Alison James, Sansom & Co.
Para ver más de sus cuadros, en la pestaña de Art: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.

miércoles, 19 de septiembre de 2007

SCARY


In a study of 20 "high income" countries, the US ranked 12th on literacy tests.
50 percent of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level.
20 percent of Americans are functionally illiterate.
For full article please go to:http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

Consúltalo con la almohada





Para lectores compulsivos - o gente con narcolepsia . En el metro, el autobús, en el suelo...para echarse una siestecita o para leer con comodidad. Me voy a Seúl a buscar una ahora mismo. Queda encontrar una funda impermeable para echarle por encima y poder leer en la bañera. Más información en:http://jooyounpaek.com/pillowig.html

domingo, 16 de septiembre de 2007

English

England is probably one of the only countries in which both Germanic and Latinate languages combined, fusing together. When the Normans conquered the Anglo-Saxons, both populations co-existed, the aristocrats speaking French and the peasants Anglo-Saxon until both languages blended.
Broadly speaking, the common English words are Germanic. "Function words", prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns, etc. are mostly Anglo-Saxon. Things and physical actions are also mainly Anglo-Saxon. So are most swear words or four-letter words. But professional vocabulary was brought to Britain in the Renaissance by the French, strengthening the notion that Latin-originated words are an indicator of education and endowing Latinate words with a sort of "higher status".
I remember a Spanish student telling me about her experience in the US - aside from being a fast learner, she was a big hit in her class because whenever she had to say a difficult word she did not know in English she resorted to a direct translation of the word in Spanish, the result being pretty close to the "Latinate" version of the real thing. The use of these words impressed her classmates, who did not use them in every-day language.
It is often frustrating for EFL language learners to realize that the perfectly correct English they learned in the classroom barely resembles what they hear in the streets of London or New York.
The use of Latinate words in English can jar the ear. When they are densely used, they give the impression of being an attempt to sound or seem upper class or cultivated. Whilst Germanic words are often considered to connote sincerity and frankness. This doesn't mean one thing is better than the other. It means we need both.

An extract of George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" illustrates the difference between Latinate and Germanic words. The Latinate words are in bold type.

Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. . .Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. . . . The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.


What Orwell would have thought of the great number of Spanish words currently making their way into the every-day English language, we will never know.

miércoles, 12 de septiembre de 2007

For Reading Out-Loud

(Yet another)In Memoriam (gasp!)
Wonderful Grace Paley died on August 22. The writer whose stories and poems celebrated women's voices, carrying them far beyond their Jewish-New York original setting will be sadly missed. Filled with humour and pathos, her stories and poems, I'm convinced, are meant to be read out-loud.

From Goodbye and Good Luck:
I was popular in certain circles, says Aunt Rose. I wasn’t no thinner then, only more stationary in the flesh. In time to come, Lillie, don’t be surprised — change is a fact of God. From this no one is excused. Only a person like your mama stands on one foot, she don’t notice how big her behind is getting and sings in the canary’s ear for thirty years. Who’s listening? Papa’s in the shop. You and Seymour, thinking about yourself. So she waits in a spotless kitchen for a kind word and thinks — poor Rosie. ...
“Poor Rosie! If there was more life in my little sister, she would know my heart is a regular college of feelings and there is such information between my corset and me that her whole married life is a kindergarten.

From Faith in the Afternoon
Childhood passes
Youth passes
Also the prime of life passes
Old age passes
Why do you believe, my daughters,
That old age is different?


Y de una traducción tardía de sus Cuentos Completos al español (2005):
La verdad, cuando encuentra su nivel, flota.

viernes, 7 de septiembre de 2007

Redefining the dictionary

El temor y el rechazo que aún le provoca Internet a mucha gente me recuerda al debate social que produjo en su tiempo la lectura, en especial por parte de las mujeres. (Recomiendo el libro de Stefan Bollmann "Las mujeres que leen son peligrosas"). La lectura se consideraba un vicio y en 1791 Karl G. Bauer, pedagogo, llegó a decir: "La falta total de movimiento corporal durante la lectura, unida a la diversidad tan violenta de ideas y sensaciones sólo conduce a la somnolencia, la obstrucción, la flatulencia y la oclusión de los intestinos como consecuencias bien conocidas sobre la salud sexual de ambos sexos, muy especialmente, del femenino."
Al igual que la lectura, Internet ha transformado nuestras vidas y está aquí para quedarse.
Si tenéis quince minutos, echadle un ojo a este vídeo. Muy interesante a pesar de la publicidad que aparece al principio: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/161

jueves, 6 de septiembre de 2007

Sweet


Intelligent cartoons: http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/angular_momentum.jpg

Thanks María, for the recommended visit: Hay Festival in Segovia (one hour bus ride from Madrid) www.hayfestival.com/segovia

domingo, 2 de septiembre de 2007

Farewell Ingmar Bergman, Hello Paris Hilton

El verano se acaba, llevándose consigo a personas irrepetibles, admiradas y significativas para muchos de nosotros. Bergman, Antonioni, y más cercanos, Umbral, Ema Penella y José Luis de Vilallonga. Sin pena ni gloria.
Televisión Española, esa, la que es de todos, y las cadenas privadas, esas, las que son de unos pocos, realmente se han lucido. ¿Dónde están los ciclos de películas de Bergman o las resposiciones de actuaciones de la magnífica Emma Penella? ¿Y las tertulias literarias o periodísticas hablándonos de Umbral? José Luis de Vilallonga tal vez corra más suerte - su perfil puede amoldarse a los contenidos de algún programa de cotilleo (que si hay algo que hacen de maravilla es mezclar churros con merinas).

No es que haya olvidado la muerte de Puerta, (por si quedara alguien que aún no supiera quién es: se trata de un desafortunado joven futbolista del Sevilla) que coincidió o casi con la de Umbral; es que a él sí le dedicó la primera cadena de Televisión Española un programa homenaje de una hora en prime time. Pero el fútbol es el fútbol.
Es que morirse en verano es lo peor que te puede pasar. Y si llevas tiempo sin aparecer en la tele para contar con quien te acuestas y con quien te levantas, peor que peor.
Umbral y Vilallonga llevaban mucho tiempo enfermos y ausentes de la pantalla ¿quién lee la prensa escrita? y para qué hablar de Bergman y Antonioni, pobrecitos míos, que son para muchos unos totales desconocidos.
¿Cómo compararlos con la Pantoja y Paquirrín o con - cielos, casi lo olvido-, la hermana de Julián Muñoz cuyo entierro se transmitió por televisión con lujo de detalles?
Visto lo visto, ¿Volvería a repetir Umbral aquello de ""La posteridad no me importa en absoluto?"
No, que no es bueno morirse en agosto, a no ser, claro está, que seas Miss Culo del Año, Mister Tatuaje de Playa o Paris Hilton en persona.
Gracias a UNGA por la imagen: (ungaconexion@gmail.com)
www.facetoface-personalenglishtrainers.com

miércoles, 29 de agosto de 2007

Women Impressionists


Berthe Morisot, Marie Bracquemond, Eva Gonzáles, Mary Cassatt...Will a time come when these names are as familiar to us as those of their male counterparts? Interesting exhibition in Frankfurt.
Everyone knows the names of famous Impressionists – Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro – but it is less well known that important women painters also belonged to their circle. Berthe Morisot, a successful and admired colleague, close friend of and model for Manet, was highly praised by critics for her relaxed brushstroke as the “most Impressionistic of the Impressionists.” The American artist Mary Cassatt developed her unmistakable style in Paris and through her close contact with Degas. Eva Gonzalès, a student of Manet, left behind an œuvre of great quality though limited quantity as a result of her early death. Marie Bracquemond exhibited with the Impressionists but began to compete with the work of her husband, Félix Bracquemond, and ultimately abandoned painting.

For the whole article published on the excellent ArtDaily website on Tuesday 28th, please visit: http://www.artdaily.org

jueves, 23 de agosto de 2007

And the Nobel Prize Goes To....

Ever wondered on what grounds the Nobel Committee decides who will get the Nobel Prize for Literature every year? What lies behind this frequently surprising and/or controversial decision? Well, according to Kjell Espmark in his book The Nobel Prize in Literature. A Study of the Criteria behind the Choices, 1991:, the difficulty in interpreting the instructions laid down by Alfred Nobel in his will may be part of the problem .

"Indeed, the history of the literature prize is in some ways a series of attempts to interpret an imprecisely worded will."..."Nobel provided us with five criteria. Three of them are of a general type, valid for all the five prizes, and two are specifically designed for the literary prize. (1) "to those who ... shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind". This is the basic criterion, introduced in the very first sentence of the relevant paragraph in the will. (2) "during the preceding year". For obvious reasons, this is interpreted in such a way that the writer shall be alive at the moment of nomination - no room for Shakespeare - and the oeuvre shall be of current interest. (3) "no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates". This was a far-sighted criterion although not in keeping with the national romanticism of the late 19th century. In the last decade or so it has been possible for it to apply extensively. (4) "to the person who shall have produced ... the most outstanding work". It goes without saying that this means literary excellence. (5) "in an ideal direction".

And what, you may ask yourself, is the meaning of criterion number 5? Ah, that may be precisely the key of the matter...
For the whole article,
Topping Shakespeare?

Aspects of the Nobel Prize for Literature
by Professor Sture Allén from The Swedish Academy, Sweden and a lot of interesting information on the Nobel prizes, please go to: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/articles/sture/index.html

martes, 21 de agosto de 2007

La abuela


Sin base científica alguna que respalde lo que no es más que una conclusión a la que me han llevado comentarios y conversaciones con alumnos, amigos y gente de diversa índole, me atrevo a decir que en el pasado de todos nosotros existe una abuela que ha dejado un recuerdo imborrable. La lógica indica que debieran ser dos las abuelas (considerando los patrones establecidos de familia en los que nos hemos criado la mayoría de los que ahora somos adultos en el primer mundo) pero por algún motivo que no me atrevo a considerar aquí, normalmente es una sola la que deja huella. Tal vez porque las probabilidades de que ambas sobrevivan y convivan con los nietos sean escasas o porque sea imposible que ambas se relacionen en buena armonía con la nueva célula familiar. No lo sé. El caso es que la abuelita, o la yaya, o la agüela o granny or grandma se queda con un trocito de corazón del que no la desplazará nunca ni la propia madre ni el padre ni los hermanos .
La revista Science publica un trabajo de la bióloga finlandesa Virpi Lummaa quien, intentando explicar por qué las mujeres somos más longevas que los hombres a pesar de dejar de cumplir con la función reproductora a mitad de la vida, revela que las abuelas tienen una importancia aún más llamativa:

..."That is, why human women often live long after they are able to reproduce (on average around the age of 50), unlike almost all other animals. "If your ultimate purpose in life was to create as many offspring as possible or pass off as many genes," Lummaa says, "it's kind of strange that human women stop halfway."
One possible explanation is that having a grandmother around somehow improves the reproductive potential of her grandchildren. In fact, that is exactly what the researchers found when they reviewed stats on 537 Finnish women who had a combined total of 6,002 grandchildren. Adding in data from more than 3,000 French Canadians (who had a modest 100,074 grandchildren) confirmed that having grandma around to help enabled younger women to have more children sooner and with improved chances of surviving into adulthood. "That suggests that perhaps one reason why women do carry on living is because they are able to help," Lummaa says....
Podéis leer el artículo completo "What Finnish Grandmothers Reveal about Human Evolution
Biologist Virpi Lummaa's work reveals that humans may be the best subject to study for evolutionary effects across generations
By David Biello en:
www.sciam.com/article

domingo, 19 de agosto de 2007

Ho, Ho, Ho, and a Bottle of Rhum!


La historia del "pillaje" del Odyssey y los conflictos de derechos (marítimos) internacionales que ha originado me han llevado a pensar mucho en los piratas ultimamente.
Los piratas ingleses hundieron el barco (reclaman ellos el tesoro)de bandera española (reclama España el tesoro)y el tesoro provenía de América del Sur (los peruanos no reclaman el tesoro??)pero son los estadounidenses quienes lo recuperan (lo reclaman ellos).
¿Quién tiene realmente los derechos? ¿No es el país en el que se originó la riqueza el que más derecho tiene a reclamar? ¿Si los ingleses hubieran hundido el barco en aguas portuguesas, por ejemplo, también reclamaría Portugal el tesoro?
Todo esto me llevó a la Isla del Tesoro, y de Stevenson pasé a buscar "pirates" en Google, que resultó en 67,400 entradas! Y para los que creían como yo, que los piratas eran algo del pasado, os recomiendo dos artículos interesantísimos en el Smithsonian: uno sobre a "gentleman pirate" y otro sobre la piratería en nuestros días que me ha dejado con la boca abierta - ignorante de mí.
Podéis leer ambos artículos en: www.smithsonianmag.com, en la sección de "History" (Gentleman Pirate) y el otro (The Pirate Hunters) en "People and Cultures".
Enjoy.

viernes, 17 de agosto de 2007

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Las 5 vocales---BUENÍIIISIMO


Lucía Echeverría, la famosa escritora dijo en una entrevista, que "murciélago" era la única palabra en el idioma español-castellano, que contenía las 5 vocales. Pues El Señor José Fernando Blanco Sánchez, envió esta carta a un periódico, dando un repaso a la escritora y escribiendo varias palabras con las vocales...
Es curioso, al menos.

Carta al director en un diario nacional... hace pocos días.

"Acabo de ver en la televisión estatal a Lucía Echeverría diciendo que 'murciélago' es la única palabra en nuestro idioma que tiene las cinco vocales.

¡Confiturera, frene la euforia! Un arquitecto escuálido llamado Aurelio (o Eulalio... o Ausencio) dice que lo más auténtico es tener un abuelito que lleve un traje reticulado y siga el arquetipo de aquél viejo reumático, desahuciado y repudiado, que consiguiera en su tiempo ser esquilado por un comunicante que cometió adulterio con una encubridora cerca del estanquillo (sin usar estimulador).

Señora escritora: si el peliagudo enunciado de la ecuación la deja irresoluta, olvide su menstruación y piense de modo jerárquico.
No se atragante con esta perturbación, que no va con su milonguera y meticulosa educación, y repita conmigo, como diría Cantinflas: ¡Lo que es la falta de ignorancia!

viernes, 10 de agosto de 2007

Bienvenidos al blog de FaceToFace

Esta es la primera entrada en nuestro recién estrenado blog. Intentaremos realizar una traducción al inglés de las entradas más relevantes. Esperamos contar con vuestras aportaciones.
Mientras esperamos, no me resisto a recomendar las exposiciones temporales del museo Thyssen. Tanto la de los últimos paisajes de Van Gogh como la de Richard Estes son magníficas, y merece la pena huir del calor para adentrarse en el ambiente relajante e inspirador del Thyssen.
También os recomiendo un par de libros (en especial a los afortunados que estéis descansando junto al mar o respirando aire sano de montaña - lejos de este Madrid sofocante) que me temo no son best-sellers (NO, no pienso recomendar a Harry Potter, entre otras cosas, porque me niego a leerlo) ni lo último publicado. Simplemente lo último que he leído y me ha gustado: "Fanny Owen", de Agustina Bessa Luís, libro traducido en 1979 y regalo de nuestra amiga Esther, "A Wild Sheep Chase", de Haruki Murakami, autor de gran aceptación que no me convence del todo pero que es muy ameno (ignoro si está traducido al español) y con la boca pequeña, a mi descubrimiento favorito de los últimos tiempos: A.M.Homes. Sólo apta para los que no le temen a las emociones fuertes.
Reiteramos nuestra más cordial bienvenida y esperamos contar con vuestros comments y aportaciones. Mañana más.
www.facetoface-personalenglishtrainers.com

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