Euro software patent action. How can software patents become a boon, rather than a bane? Euro-mefites contact your MEP to have your say! Act now rather than snarking later!
Friday flash bonus: Hey! Hey! 16k
Friday flash bonus: Hey! Hey! 16k
The best bits (RealVideo) of the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest, complete with a sampling of UK's Terry Wogan's legendary commentary.
Militants in Europe Openly Call for Jihad and the Rule of Islam The call to jihad is rising in the streets of Europe, and is being answered, counterterrorism officials say. In this former industrial town north of London, a small group of young Britons whose parents emigrated from Pakistan after World War II have turned against their families' new home. They say they would like to see Prime Minister Tony Blair dead or deposed and an Islamic flag hanging outside No. 10 Downing Street.
Eurabia? WTF? An interesting article by the ultra-prolific Niall Ferguson obliquely raises the question: wouldn't Europe (and the world) be happier if Islam still had a hold on the West? Al-Qaeda's longings for Andalusia and the Algarve apart, the truth is that Southern Spain (until 1498) and Portugal (until 1297) were very happy under Muslim rule. Isn't it sad that the three great monotheistic religions, plus the great atheist belief, can't live together anymore? [ NYT registration required. Via Arts and Letters Daily.]
The A-Train For Armchair Travellers The Man in Seat 61, a train-mad Brit called Mark Smith, provides a wonderful guide, with lots of useful information, to train travel in Europe - though obviously catering mostly to British passengers. Choo Choo!
Betrayed by Europe: An Expatriate’s Lament Journalist, novelist, and translator Nidra Poller, an American ex-pat who has been living in Paris with her family since 1972, writes in the latest issue of Commentary about her painful decision to leave her adopted homeland for the US. The main reason? Poller and her family are Jewish and scared for their lives. Her poignant essay is not just another report on the disturbing levels of anti-semitism in France or yet another French Jew abandoning the country for safer turf, but an examination of the power of hope (and inertia) in our lives, even when intellectually one sees no reason for hope: I'm being treated to a poignant lesson in European and Jewish history. The 30's: why did they stay? Why didn’t they run for their lives? Couldn’t they see what was happening? I see before me a vivid demonstration of the deep roots we dig to make our lives bloom, the intricate biology of a human life, irrigated with the lifeblood of a community, inextricably connected to a society, born of life to give life to keep life alive. Leaving is not packing up and tipping your hat goodbye. It is tearing live flesh out of a living matrix. A powerful and disturbing testimony.
Europe Is Deeply In Love With John Kerry. How Will America React? He's liberal but not an outright socialist; he has Polish origins and an Irish surname; he's better connected to the British Royal Family than that embarrassing proto-prole Bush; he was educated in Switzerland; he speaks French beautifully and, above all, he's married to a spirited Portuguese woman who watches his every step... [More inside.]
Eurodocs: Primary Historical Documents from Western Europe.
Beyond the Fall. The former Soviet block in transition 1989-1999. Outstanding photojournalism.
Trusting The Redcoats: How many independent-minded Americans actually rely on the BBC (specially the World Service) for accurate coverage of American politics? Not to mention The Guardian. Is it a strictly an elitist, liberal/left-wing phenomenon? What does it mean? What does it say about better-informed liberal newspapers and media of the U.S.? If so, why aren't like-minded Europeans just as cosmopolitan and, say, pay the same attention to news sources like The New York Times, NPR and others, rather than stolidly sticking to their own national staples?
Images of the Rom: the Rrom of Romania from an award-winning book by Yves Leresche; The Roma of Central and Eastern Europe by Raulf Bauerdick; David Dare-Parker's Roma - Gypsies of Romania (the second image in the set won "Best Feature Photograph" in the Walkley Awards); the Chergari Gypsies in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria (by Stacia Spragg - background here); and Itinerant Gypsies in Romania by Valeriu Campan. See also the photo-article, Challenging Segregation of Roma schoolchildren in eastern Hungary by Jason Orton (article continues at far right), and an eviction series by Ph.D. student Cosima Rughinis: the Rom in Pata Rat (dump site), Cluj-Napoca, Piatra Neamt, and Targu Mures, Romania. For some context on the last, view some text snapshots (under "issues of Roma Rights") of the situation from the European Roma Rights Center.
Those anti-Semitic Europeans are at it again. In an opinion poll conducted in October, when shown a list of countries and asked "if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world", some 59 per cent of European Union citizens polled said that Israel was a danger. "This shocking result... defies logic and is a racist flight of fantasy that only shows that anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within European society, more than at any other period since the end of the war," responded Rabbi Marvin Hier. But, is it really so?
Friedman quotes a former Swedish prime minister. "Our defining date is now 1989 and yours is 2001," I find this to be true. For most of the 90's, the US struggled to find a new purpose for its power. A few peace-keeping missions, a skirmish in Iraq (the first time), but for the most part, no real global strategy. Europe, on the other hand, has made significant progress with developing the EU, the euro (which no one believed would ever come about so quickly), and a semi-unified policy concerning the rest of the world (GB being the notable exception). NY Times
All The Nudes That Are Fit To Print: It's no exaggeration to say La Repubblica is Italy's finest newspaper. It's liberal, modern, intelligent and independent. Along with Spain's El Pais; France's Libération and Le Monde; the UK's Guardian; Germany's Die Zeit and Portugal's Público, it's one of the mainstays of the European Left and Centre-Left. And yet its website offers calendars in the, er, Pirelli tradition of time-keeping. Imagine the New York Times being similarly... liberal. Can soft prOn and serious reporting live together? Is it an Italian thing? The only other example I can think of is Spain's Interviú, a magazine which in its heyday mixed superb (again, left-leaning) investigative journalism with politically incorrect - and photographically retouched - tits and ass. (NSFW, obviously, unless you're somewhere in Southern Europe or Louisiana.)
Europe's not-too-modest anti-piracy proposal. If accepted, it means that "not only could a teenager who downloaded a music file be sent to jail under it; so too could managers of the Internet service provider that the teenager happened to use, whether they knew what the teenager was doing or not." The proposal is being spearheaded by French parliamentarian Janelly Fourtou. Coincidentally enough, her husband is the chief executive of Vivendi Universal.
On October 17, 1815, following The 100 Days and Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte arrived on the Island of St Helena, where he would remain until his death (mysterious or otherwise) in 1821. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, St Helena had a long and interesting history before Napoleon arrived, but that history was overshadowed by the story of the Emperor's last years, living in captive exile at the simple yet beautiful Longwood House. Victorians had an insatiable interest for information about the remote island. Today, the picturesque Island is a a tiny bit of England in the South Atlantic, where coffee and tourism (indeed, what some might call pilgrimages) are the main sources of income.
Did you know that you can Rent the Principality of Liechtenstein (or any of six villages in Austria or Germany) for weddings and corporate events?
Flash Warning Inside!
Flash Warning Inside!
Think We Can (French) Kiss and Make Up? Two years ago it was "I'll always love and support you". It only took a little while, though, before the arguments began. But there are always counselors to help you work on the relationship. There is even talk of reconciliation. And anyway, this love-hate relationship has been going on for almost three centuries.
Italian spammers face jail. The ruling follows estimates by the European Commission that spam e-mails cost EU companies approximately 2.25bn euros in lost productivity last year.
Photos by Martin - a gem of a site for vicarious travelers, it features wonderful, charming photos and fascinating stories from a guy who quit his job three years ago to travel the world. He credits global photojournalist Steve McCurry as an influence. I am such a fan of these photo travel narratives, professional and amateur alike - has anyone else discivered some special favorites?
"The story really began in January 1953, when I suggested to Gordon that we might go on a cycling holiday together..." They covered 2,286 miles, slept in potting sheds, hay barns, and even a railway marshalling yard, and the whole trip cost them £24. Now, 50 years later, Roy Jenkin's daughter is planning to retrace/tread her father's path. Even if you're not into travelogues (past or present) the photos of post-WWII Europe are worth a gander.
Images of medieval architecture. A great site put together by Alison Stones, Professor of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. There are two large gazetteers, one for Britain, and one for France. Besides photos, there are many plans, sketches and elevation drawings, which help to give an idea of the sheer scale of gothic cathedrals such as the cathedral of Saint-Étienne at Bourges (scroll down for the human figures at the bottom).
European right of reply. The Council of Europe is drafting a proposal, "... that Internet news organizations, individual Web sites, moderated mailing lists and even Web logs (or 'blogs'), must offer a 'right of reply' to those who have been criticized by a person or organization." Considering that someone will have to pay for the storage and bandwidth required to host rebuttals, this seem the very antithesis of "free" speech and could get quite expensive.
Joshka Fischer Said What? That The U.S. Needs Another Boston Tea Party? Hidden in the depths of this very interesting article by Timothy Garton-Ash, on Europe's misplaced anti-Americanism, is a very interesting revelation from Germany's Green Party-carrying Foreign Minister. To what extent are relations between the pro-American and the anti-American Europe and the United States - the so-called "Old and New Europe" - based on misperceptions? Is Europe, like the Middle East and, well, the whole wide world, too complex for the current U.S. administration to understand? Is it really possible for American foreign to swerve round France and Germany? [Fwiw, my two centimes is that it is.]
Why Does This News Make Me Uneasy? As a Jew whose sister is married to a German and who has happily visited Germany four or five times, the news that Jews are flocking back to Germany should leave me in the best of moods. But it doesn't. Antisemitism is flourishing almost everywhere in Middle Europe - specially in France, Germany and even Britain - often under the guise of Anti-Zionism. Even my synagogue in peaceful Lisbon is today protected by stringent security measures. Is this just an unwillingness to depart from old stereotypes or does it find an echo in other cautious Jews? Specially with Germans. I feel simultaneously ashamed and wary. Someone tell me - and a lot of others - I am wrong. Please. History may not repeat itself - but it sure as hell seems to inspires itself sometimes. And we're all better off, I think, if we confront our demons. If they are demons, that is.
Old Firm dialectics It's going down the thinnest wire tomorrow in the Scottish Premier League (football/soccer/fitba that is) as Celtic and Rangers, with one game left to play in perhaps the most absurd league in Europe, stand equal on points and goal difference after 37 games thus far.
Which Country Has The Most Beautiful Women? The best quality of life? The most divorces? The most mobile phones? The highest cost of living? Which one is the most visited? Rank the bastards! After browsing through this website, I'm sure the conclusion that we're all living in the wrong one is inescapable. The statistics and sources may be questionable, but there sure are a lot of interesting lists here! Meanwhile my own country, Portugal, has just been denounced as the the laziest in Europe and the booziest in the world. They lie! They lie! [Actually, it's a fair cop, guv. And it was nice to drag down the Brits with us.]
Old And In The Way. Their economy has lost any resemblance of dynamism, their military might has shrunk to the point of irrelevance, and their society is regressing towards a centrally planned socialist political system. Now with their standard of living dipping below even the poorest sub-group of Americans, is Europe a dying continent, with all its glory days already way behind it? [more inside]
A rather unbiased look at the US-Europe chasm, and the future of European political aspirations, from four different authors (the first is probably the best). Login information inside.
"They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet." Is it wise for France to make opposition to war against Saddam such a central tenet of their foreign policy? Opposing the war may be politically sound today, but this seems a bit heavy-handed, and perhaps short-sighted. Is "European solidarity" just a code phrase for "France and Germany get to call the shots"?
NeoConservatism in a Nutshell! Lately I've been researching the NeoConservative movement and stumbled upon this European website which is by far the best overview I have encountered. Be sure to read the end called The Dangers for Europe. Here is a little tidbit - "What ought to be of concern to Europeans is the fact that Americans are being indoctinated into beliefs which many Europeans (particularly those who are old enough to remember the 1920's and 1930's) would characterise as extremely dangerous.... A country considers itself at war against an ill-defined foreign enemy who threaten its way of life. To protect itself against this enemy, civil liberties are abrogated, arrest and detention without trial are introduced and the state creates a secret police which can spy on citizens and foreigners alike. The state allies itself with big business to protect its way of life and promote national security. Public opinion is manipulated so that dissent from the "national purpose" becomes socially unacceptable. Those are the conditions which Europeans will recognise as the precursors of fascism. "
Path of a Pipeline: Oil, Empire, and Influence in the New Eurasia While so many of us talk about Iraq and war in terms of oil, it might prove useful to note what is going on close by. Not mentioned, however, in the article is the guess that China will have stupendous energy needs in the next decade, and what is taking place here will have an impact on their needs.
Decoding Anti-Europeanism In America: Although European anti-Americanism focuses on one country, with one government and one foreign policy (the U.S.), growing American (i.e. U.S.) anti-Europeanism seems to conflate dozens of separate and disparate countries, governments and foreign policies into one abstract entity, "Europe", which doesn't really exist as such. Or exists just as much as "America", North and South, Central and Carribean does. So what the hell is up? What terrible confusion of categories is clogging up Western political communications? [More inside.]
European music copyrights from the '50s due to expire this year, and to grossly oversimplify things, RIAA is on the warpath, saying that imports from there would be acts of piracy. Considering that there's a gold mine's worth of material begging to be shown the light again (the Maria Callas material mentioned in the article, for example), no doubt there will be some great releases...but will EMI's actions be more the exception than the rule? (NYT link, yadayada)
"There Is Only One Sale" is the traditional January sales slogan of Harrods' department store in London, where the elbow-fest begins next Monday. With disappointing Christmas retail sales being reported more or less everywhere, it looks like the U.S. National Retail Federation's statement "What's going to be crucial now is the week after Christmas" is not the usual BS. Sales in Europe are still month-long extravaganzas where unique bargains can be had. In the U.S. they seem to be more frequent, shorter and somewhat diluted. Assuming you're normal (a stingy, somewhat gullible and opportunistic shopper like the rest of us), what are your post-holiday shopping objectives? Which department stores will you be hitting? Or is it all just a big con?
The EU decides to expand and I am obviously looking forward to reading about and discussing this event when i log in on metafilter this morning, only to find that this story has not been posted. This is probably one of the most important changes in the European political landscape since the Wall came down more than ten yeas ago and I must say I am a little disappointed with you all that it was not linked and discussed last night. Shape up metafilter!
The End of the American Era? Well, at least according to that person. However, this guy says that America is the future, and Europe is the past. Is Europe becoming another Soviet Union? These people have something to say about it. What do you think? 20 years from now, who will be leading the world?
What do you think of when I say United States? Probably not this.
A European voice makes good case for Bush. Being ambivalent about Iraq, I found this to be one of the more thoughtful cases for Bush. Maybe if Dubya was making it this eloquently instead of lying and stonewalling people would be more supportive.
18 Ways to Hate Your Neighbour: Europe ’s Lesson To The World.
And: What European Tribes Think About One Another
And: What European Tribes Think About One Another
Damn La Difference! Europe (and apparently Japan) seem to be going through a Dickies craze. You say work wear; we say American blue-collar chic. You pay $20 for an industrial shirt; we pay $100. Should we call the whole thing off? [More inside.]
Project Blinkenlights transforms the Tower T2 of the Bibliothèque nationale de France into a huge computer screen. Wanna play a giant game of Tetris via your mobile phone? Or just wonder at the giant pixellated images which the Parisiens can? Go here! Or if you have Unix on your computer, you can hook up live. Those wacky Euro's, eh?
Half a billion Americans? The Economist crunches census data from both sides of the Atlantic and figures that the US will hit the 500 million mark sometime in the next few decades, surpassing the combined population of even the expanded EU. In typical style, the Economist looks at the economic and political reprecussions of this, but skips another interesting question: how will a doubling of the population change America itself? will it make the US more environmentally friendly? reduce urban sprawl? will the shifting population balance change the culture itself?
Have the anti-Euro lobby shot themselves in the foot? A video promoting opposition to the UK joing the Euro has been critisized for including a spoof of Hitler praising the currency. It's attracted publicity for the campaign, all right, but has it unmasked the "No" campaign as anti-Europe "little Englanders"? (Guardian link)
Kashmir...Palestine...Sudetenland?? If you've been suspecting that old territorial squabbles never go away, you're probably right.
The Eurovision Song Contest gets under way approximately three hours from now. Europeans, who are you rooting for?
(Anyone else, what are we talking about.....?)
(Anyone else, what are we talking about.....?)