The playgrounds weren’t just beautiful. They were quiet. That was what struck me when I first moved to Vienna, Austria. Children there played and laughed, but rarely yelled across the park.
It was not until 1971, 65 years after Finland became the first European country to grant women the vote, that Switzerland became the last, not only in Europe but in much of the world.
While a few still fret about the ongoing fisticuffs in the eastern parts and the reluctance of Greece to repay a few bucks borrowed for the weekend from Germany, the real surprise, anger and confusion enveloping contemporary Europe is the admittance of Australia. [more inside]
"The new constitution 'recognizes the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood,' and art that is deemed blasphemous or 'anti-national' is now the target of a full-blown campaign of suppression."
Who Draws The Borders Of Culture?(NYTimes) Cultural border, as opposed to national borders, are funny things. One country can contain many (Coke vs. Soda. Vs. Pop, previously and previously-er). Cultural borders often appear as food and drink choices, like sweet tea, forms of alcohol, or BBQ sauce. [more inside]
europe-cities is a beautifully organized, practical site for information about traveling to cities in Europe. All the information is in one place: info about specific cities, cuisine, history, overview information, weather, a variety of cultural interests from English Christmas Markets to Hungarian culture. And, best of all, finding the cheapest/best places to stay. [more inside]
A Moroccan man whose wife wears a veil has been denied citizenship on the basis that he has failed to assimilate into French society. [more inside]
Few things in history are as compelling as the duel. Refined and barbaric at the same time, this practice has had a checkered history. The rules of dueling were codified by the Irish in 1777 in the Code Duello (summarized here), which was codified at Clonmel Summer Assizes in 1777. As evidenced by these documents, dueling was in practice prior to the Irish rules being drafted. The procedure and philosophy behind duels is illustrated in this article. Dueling gained some traction in America in the 19th century, culminating in the famous Burr-Hamilton affair. There are many more resources to find out more here. For a list of famous duels, you can check out this list. Lest you think men were the only ones dueling, here are a few short anecdotes of women dueling. Reportedly, dueling is still legal in Paraguay, as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
When Iranian paper Hamshahri (in Persian) launched a contest for Holocaust cartoons, an Israeli group responded in turn with a contest of their own for cartoons that make fun of Jews. Too bad it closed yesterday, or the Dutch branch of the AEL could submit theirs. (WARNING: some of the linked content may be offensive to readers' ethnicities, cultures, religions, or tastes.)
Freedom on the Fence: The Polish Poster. While we're at it: The history and culture of the Polish poster and an analysis of American Films in Polish Posters. Or, if you'd prefer, The Classic Polish Film Poster database (where the Disney/Children's film posters are quite lovely). Also, The Wallace Library at the Rochester Institute of Technology has a fantastic searchable and browse-able database, with many hi-res images. Finally, some other Polish Poster Galleries. (What's that? You want more? You want artist-specific galleries? Okay. Here's work by Mieczyslaw Gorowski, Piotr Kunce, Wieslaw Walkuski, and Jan Sawka. Oh, you wanted Communist-era Polish propaganda posters? Fine. Here ya go.) [previous MeFi discussion on Polish film posters; also, some of the images from these links may be NSFW, depending on how S your W environment is.]
Kurds are the Closest Relatives of Jews Funny, They don't look Jewish:"Research has just begun into the ancient ties between Kurds and Jews. It would be interesting to see if the various Jewish groups have as strong a family tie to Kurds in the maternal lineages as they do in the paternal lineages. Preliminary studies indicate that Jewish populations in eastern Europe and Yemen have maternal origins that contain much more non-Israelite ancestry than their paternal origins. Despite this admixture with other groups, the Jewish Judean people ultimately began their existence in an area within or nearby Kurdistan, prior to migrating southwest to Israel. This exciting research showing that Kurds and Jews may have shared common fathers several millennia ago should, hopefully, encourage both Kurds and Jews to explore each others' cultures and to maintain the friendship that Kurds and Jews enjoyed in northern Iraq in recent times (as chronicled in Michael Rubin's recent article "The Other Iraq"). As Rubin indicates, the Kurdish leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani once visited Israel and met with Israeli government officials. Rubin refers to the Iraqi Kurds' "special affinity for Israel" and writes that "In the safe haven of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Jews and Israel are remembered fondly, if increasingly vaguely." Let us hope that this relationship can be renewed and strengthened."
The European Dream Sure. They are doing better than the U.S. in so many aspects of living but we are number one with our military! Or perhaps that is why they do so well? Note: their view of religion does not come anywhere near the crazed attention religion plays in American life, in our politics, tax relief, social legislation etc....