If you've ever had a burning desire to have your voice projected through a megaphone in Norway, today is your last chance.
This summer, a group of artists erected a 23-foot-tall, wind-powered "telemegaphone" on top of a mountain in western Norway that overlooks the village of Dale and a scenic fjord. Dial 47 90 369389, and your voice will be projected through the telemegaphone and across the scenic Nordic landscape. Sing, yell, yodel, pontificate. Better yet, play a concerto.
Today's the last day, however. Tomorrow, Sept. 6, the telemegaphone is being turned off -- deer season is commencing.
"Corporate cartographers are demolishing thousands of years of history – not to mention Britain's remarkable geography – at a stroke by not including them on maps which millions of us now use every day," she said. "We're in real danger of losing what makes maps so unique; giving us a feel for a place even if we've never been there."
No disrespect to Spence but this is luddite nonsense. The Internet is about the best thing to happen to geography nerds since the sextant and anyone who's ever wasted hours flying around the world on Google Earth did so specifically to get a feel for a place they've never been.
As readers of this blog know from our weekly "Tuesday Map" feature, computer graphics and the interactivity of the Internet are allowing people to do new and fascinating things with maps every day. How could any development that lets cycling fans take a virtual Tour de France from their desks or allows activists to publicize a Tiananmen massacre map of Beijing possibly be negative? These posts are typically among our most popular so I'm not too worried about the public losing interest in cartography.
This is one aspect of modern life that I'm more than happy to see googlized.
Ireland's drinks industry is suffering from withdrawal with pubs closing at the rate of one a day, as the party years of the Celtic Tiger boom become a blurred memory. The economic downturn allied to a changing drinking culture has led to 400 pubs closing over the past year, according to Michael Patten, chairman of the drinks industry representative body.
(Hat tip: Passport reader Eric Jon Magnuson)
I'm not sure if my friends and coworkers agree, but I generally try to keep my New York snobbery to a minimum now that I live outside the five boroughs... except when it comes to bagels. The theory that New York tap water is necessary for the making of proper bagels may be an urban legend but for some reason, bagels outside New York simply don't taste the same.
So I'm somewhat skeptical of New York Times food critic Jennifer 8. Lee's assurances that you can get decent bagels (or "doughnut-shaped Jewish bread" as they are described on one Chinese Web site) in Beijing, although the fact that the Chinese-American owner of Mrs. Shanen's Bagels was raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, is encouraging. But Lee's dispatch does provide another reason to be outraged by the excesses of the global drug war:
Because of the country's association with opium, poppy seeds are illegal in China. [...] She emphatically stated, "No one is going to get a poppy seed bagel in Beijing."
A bagel shop that offers chocolate chip and jalapeño but not poppy seed? Now you know it's time to legalize it.
Here's a creative and fun game put together by the Language Trainers Group, a company that offers private language courses: Can you guess where my accent is from?
I scored a lousy 18 points for answering just six of 16 questions correctly.
(Hat tip: The Very Short List)
Jonathan Kolieb complains this morning that "many television hosts, commentators, even Congresspeople seem to have a problem correctly enunciating the name of the country America occupies" -- Iraq.
He's got a point. It's pronounced roughly like ee-Rahk, not eye-Rack. You'd think that by now, most folks would have gotten that right. Ditto for the president of Russia, whose name still seems to confuse the entire political class in Washington.
I've noticed, too, that Barack Obama gets himself into trouble when he correctly says "Pah-ki-stan," but puts too long an "ee" sound on "Taliban" and then says "Afghanistan" in the normal American way.
Still, one can go too far with the whole proper pronunciation thing. "Al Qaeda," for instance, can come across as incredibly pretentious when pronounced properly, with the infamous "ayn" sound that trips up even the most diligent students of Arabic (ayn is also the first letter in the word "Iraq"). It's just not practical when speaking English to bust out with what sounds to the untrained ear like a camel with indigestion. Plus, any American who walks around saying "Pah-Ree" is liable to get punched in the face.
And let's not even get into Georgian...
Here's one of the delicacies on offer this week in Beijing. Yum:
Once middle-aged British intellectuals started paying to be waterboarded, it was only a matter of time before the controversial interrogation technique became a tourist attraction. Just next to the famous amusement park in Brooklyn's Coney Island, visitors can now experience the new "Waterboard Thrill Ride":
It looks at first like any other shuttered storefront near the boardwalk: some garish lettering and a cartoonish invitation to a delight or a scam — in this case there’s SpongeBob SquarePants saying, “It don’t Gitmo better!”
If you climb up a few cinderblock steps to the small window, you can look through the bars at a scene meant to invoke a Guantánamo Bay interrogation. A lifesize figure in a dark sweatshirt, the hood drawn low over his face, leans over another figure in an orange jumpsuit, his face covered by a towel and his body strapped down on a tilted surface.
Feed a dollar into a slot, the lights go on, and Black Hood pours water up Orange Jumpsuit’s nose and mouth while Orange Jumpsuit convulses against his restraints for 15 seconds. O.K., kids, who wants more cotton candy!
Artist Steve Powers, the installation's creator, intends it to be a provacative political commentary but -- this being Coney Island -- some visitors seem to find it legitimately entertaining.
It's truly disgusting that this freak-show huckster is making a buck by depicting torture for entertainment while the U.S. government is actually practicing these techniques. That's Fox's job!
Newsday blogger John Riley slams John McCain's (stupid) new ad, which rips Barack Obama as a "celebrity" à la Britney Spears and Paris Hilton:
Anyone with even a vague sense of pop culture knows that Britney and Paris are yesterday's news. Here's a link to Forbes' Celebrity 100. Paris and Britney don't even make the list any more.
Instead, the top 10, in order: Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Angelina Jolie, Beyonce Knowles, David Beckham, Johnny Depp, Jay-Z, The Police, JK Rowling, Brad Pitt.
So, um, The Police are today's news? Somehow, I don't quite picture Sting being an effective tool with which to mock Barack.
In India, more women are wearing jeans and other Western clothing. That's bad news for sari weavers in the city of Varanasi. Demand for Varanasi's famed, 6-meter silk saris, which have been hand-woven there for centuries, is falling, as the Christian Science Monitor recently reported.
The problem is due to much more than changing fashions, however. The hand-woven saris -- which typically have ornate patterns and scenes, such as Mughal processions of horses and elephants -- have to compete against cheaper copies that are churned out by machines, some of which are in China. The result: Varanasi's hand loom weavers are plunging into grinding poverty.
In the face of creative destruction, perhaps weavers could reframe their product. "What we really need is for crafts in India to reposition themselves, like in Italy, where handmade has a high value," Adarsh Kumar of the All India Artisan and Craftworkers Welfare Association told the CSM.
Indeed, couldn't ornately woven fabric be used to make table linens, decorative sofa pillows, tunic shirts that could be paired with jeans, and even Western-style dresses? And all marketed to people worldwide, not just Indians? In fact, one Canada-based businesswoman is using such logic to preserve alpona, another Indian art form that's been in decline.
It looks like the business savvy to reposition Varanasi saris hasn't yet materialized. And if it doesn't, weavers' lives may be left in tatters.
China, as part of its ongoing efforts to be culturally sensitive and have its people on their best behavior for the Olympics, is displaying posters informing its people of eight things they should not ask foreigners:
Oh, and if you're a guy, here's a tip on how to be a gentleman:
Men should help women carry things, but must not help women carry their handbags.
Forget Bruce Wayne. I think Dubya is actually the Caped Crusader. In her excellent review of "The Dark Knight" the latest in the Batman franchise, Slate scribe Dana Stevens writes, "[T]he movie seems to arrive at much the same conclusion about Batman as Americans have about Bush: Thanks to this guy, we're well and thoroughly screwed."
Stevens does a great job of deconstructing the copious references to the war on terror in the film, but I feel a need to explore her point about Bush at little bit more carefully.
Warning! There may be a few mild spoilers here:
Lives in an enormous mansion attached to a vast secret underground complex
His Arch nemesis is _____ whose goal is to ______.
The Joker; "burn down the world"
Al Gore; warn the world about global warming
His parents were:
Killed by a small-time criminal.
Threatened by a small-time dictator.
Commits himself to an aggressive plan to rid the world of evildoers.
But his plan subsequently backfires, making him extremely unpopular.
When innocents are killed, as a result of his actions, he:
Broods, considers hanging up his cowl
Quits playing golf
Builds a massive surveillance network, which upsets his most loyal employees.
Egyptians have a love-hate relationship with the hordes of wealthy tourists who flock to Cairo and Alexandria every summer, seeking to escape the stifling heat and cultural climate of the Gulf.
On the plus side, these khaleegis, as they are somewhat derogatorily called, are willing to pay top dollar for apartments and other goods and services (including, all too often, prostitutes). But they also bring a stricter form of Islam that sometimes clashes with Cairo's (relatively) libertine ways. As more businessmen from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries also sink their petrodollars into Egypt, they are trying to redefine the social order -- by, for instance, investing in films but demanding that directors excise any whiff of sexual activity.
The latest example of what many in Egypt see as khaleegi meddling? A Saudi sheikh named Abdel Aziz Ibrahim bought the five-star Grand Hyatt hotel (on an island just a few blocks from the U.S. Embassy) and promptly banned the sale of alcohol. Employees reportedly had to dump bottles of liquor into the river. One Egyptian commentator complained that the ban "deprived foreign guests from finding the alcoholic beverage which they wanted, and forced it upon the Muslim fish of the Nile."
The good news is that you can still quench your thirst at the Hard Rock Cafe on the Grand Hyatt grounds. Prominent shareholder Hassan bin Laden, the half brother of you-know-who, doesn't seem to mind serving booze. And with its Cairo franchise rapidly losing customers, the hotel chain's management is pressuring Ibrahim to change his mind. It may not be long before rich folks in Cairo can drink themselves silly in the revolving bar atop the hotel once again. Inshallah.
Coors, Miller, and now Anheuser-Busch are all owned by foreign conglomerates. So where can a patriotic guy find an all-American brew these days?
Believe it or not, Pabst Brewing Company is now the largest American-owned brewer. But Pabst doesn't even brew its own beer anymore. All 29 Pabst beers, from Schlitz, to Lone Star to Colt 45 to the legendary Pabst Blue Ribbon are outsourced to SAB Miller, based in South Africa.
Next on the list comes Boston Beer Company, which counterintuitively bottles its famous Sam Adams lager in Pennsylvania.
Third is D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc., known far and wide as America's oldest brewery, operating in Pottsville, PA since 1829.
Here's the full list of America's top American-owned breweries according to the Brewer's Association:
Barack Obama's urging this week that Americans "learn a foreign language" -- he suggested Spanish -- sparked some healthy back-and-forth on Passport and beyond. The key question: Putting "learning for learning's sake" aside, can Americans really maximize their utility by learning another language? My sources and instincts say sí.
According to a 2006 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, around 30 million people in the United States call Spanish their primary language -- and about half of them don't speak English "well" (keep in mind, too, that these numbers only represent legal citizens). That's not a small slice of the U.S. population of 304 million. What that number represents are roughly 15 million people who work for companies and contractors, and who buy groceries, cars, and clothing. That's 15 million people who need healthcare, legal advice, and schooling. It's 15 million people who seek Spanish-language entertainment on the radio and television, and in magazines and newspapers.
So here's the translation: Those needs increase the demand for doctors, teachers, lawyers, writers, radio hosts, construction foremen, salesmen and many other types of blue and white collar U.S. workers who can speak Spanish. This need has already begun impacting hiring practices. Bilingual job fairs and Web sites are increasingly popular, and nearly half of corporate managers are starting to target Spanish-speaking job candidates. More schools have begun targeting Spanish-speakers too, even shelling out bigger bucks for bilingual teachers.
In fact, Spanish may even someday be an unofficial prerequisite for the biggest job of all: the U.S. presidency. President Bush, hardly a globe-hopping polyglot, speaks the language (sometimes to a fault), and Obama knows "a little Spanish" in addition to his Indonesian. But with America's Spanish-speaking population growing by at least a million people each year, it won't be long before un poquito doesn't cut it anymore.
Memín Pinguín might be adored in his native Mexico, but he hasn't been feeling much love lately on the other side of the border. Wal-Mart has stopped selling comic books featuring the popular Cuban-Mexican character after a customer in Texas complained about the boy's racially insensitive appearance. Memín's mother, who looks an awful lot like Aunt Jemima, sparked similar complaints.
Let's be honest: Memín's huge lips, dark skin, and big ears really don't make for a flattering physical portrayal of African-Americans (Houston community activist Quanel X likened Memín's appearance to a monkey and his mother's to a gorilla).
But many Mexicans don't get what all the fuss is about, especially because they consider Memín a hero rather than a mocking caricature. He's known to them as an impish, yet thoughful boy who helps out his mother by shining shoes and selling newspapers. Says Javier Salas, a Spanish language radio-show host in Chicago,
We grew up reading, learning and educating ourselves with a lot of the topics [Memín Pinguín comics] always touched on, which was honesty, justice, tolerance. He was a very unique character."
The culture clash over Memín isn't new. Three years ago, a Mexican stamp collection featuring his likeness was discontinued after African-American leaders protested his stereotypical appearance. Yet despite the hits Memín has taken, his status as a Mexican cultural icon and a teacher of important life lessons isn't likely to fade. Nor too are the use of beloved cartoons that provoke outcries on both sides of the border (Speedy Gonzales, anyone?). Still, Memín could probably benefit from a facelift. Until then, his lessons on tolerance risk being overshadowed.
Barack Obama is talking about foreign languages again:
Now, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But understand this. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language.
You know, it's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], "Merci beaucoup." Right?
You know, no, I'm serious about this. We should understand that our young people, if you have a foreign language, that is a powerful tool to get a job. You are so much more employable. You can be part of international business. So we should be emphasizing foreign languages in our schools from an early age, because children will actually learn a foreign language easier when they're 5, or 6, or 7 than when they're 46, like me.
The cosmopolitan in me says, "Right on." Americans are notoriously poor with language, and it reflects badly on us.
But my inner behavioral economist tells me that Obama has identified a solution in search of a problem. After all, Americans are just behaving rationally. Europeans need to learn foreign languages because they live much closer to one another, are more integrated economically, and come from smaller countries. If you're a young Swede, for instance, you need to learn English to be employable. As for romance languages, once you're fluent in French, it's relatively easy to pick up Spanish and Italian.
Most Americans, in contrast, don't really need to learn a foreign language: Many foreigners speak English, and the amount of bilingual jobs available is relatively small. It's a nice skill to have, but acquiring working-level fluency in a second or third language is expensive and time consuming, and often the potential payoff isn't worth it. My seven years of French has never been very useful, frankly, and I might have been better served learning more about microbiology or fluid dynamics.
In short, Obama shouldn't worry: Americans will start picking up foreign languages in larger numbers (think: Mandarin) when they really need to.
UPDATE: Blogger Dave Schuler comments.
Japan's chief cabinet secretary is disappointed that Carla Bruni, the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, won't be attending this year's G-8 summit in Hokkaido.
I can't say I blame her. The supermodel-turned-singer has an album launch this coming Friday, and she'd rather prepare for it than sit around learning how to fold kimonos and sipping tea with the other G-8 wives.
Back in Europe, her album seems to be getting as much coverage as the summit itself. The British press is agog at the revelation that Mrs. Sarkozy has had 30 lovers, and the AFP reports that France's "gossip press" is "nearing fever pitch," and the album has gotten rave reviews thus far.
In case any French music critics are wondering how to handle the unusual task of critiquing their first lady's musical talents, Carla has a ready answer in "Ta Tienne" (Yours): "I am yours, if they diss me or damn me, I don't care a hoot."
Here's a lesson in cultural diplomacy.
Zheng Jie, a native of earthquake-ravaged Sichuan province in China, is the first Chinese tennis player to make a Grand Slam semifinal, and the most successful wild card competitor in Wimbledon's history. She's a towering figure in Chinese sports, and yet Western broadcasters can't even say her name properly. In fact, sometimes, they are inadvertently calling her a prostitute or a chicken.
I've been squirming on my couch for a few days listening to ESPN and NBC butcher the 24-year-old's name every 10 minutes. I don't expect your average American to get it right off the bat, but 2008 is the year of the Beijing Olympics, and the networks need to be on their game when it comes to China. Some Wimbledon commentators claim they've been to Beijing to prepare for the games. Yet even the Wimbledon court announcer said her name properly while the commentators -- who clearly need to attend remedial Chinese name pronunciation school -- stammered.
It would take an hour at most to grasp the pronunciation system, and then we could avoid reducing a language with thousands of years of history and more than a billion speakers to a bunch of garbled, quasi-French "j" sounds. Her name isn't Je je or Jeng jee. It's Jung ji-eh (with a hard "j" like "jump"). Jee or "ji" can mean "chicken," "prostitute," or even, ironically, "difficult to pronounce."
Zheng lost to Serena Williams today, meaning that the Williams sisters will go at it on Saturday in the final and I'll be spared -- for the time being -- hearing her name butchered. The Chinese star plans to donate much of her Wimbledon prize money to victims of the Sichuan earthquake, as she did with her French Open third-round proceeds. According to the Boston Herald, the rest of the money will go toward the Chinese Tennis Association.
Russia's State Duma is currently considering a package of laws aimed at protecting the morality of its children and preventing youth suicide and alcoholism. Some of the ideas kind of seem like overkill:
The whole world seems to have it in for emos, which probably actually makes them more emo. Personally, I find these kids a lot scarier.
Together with proposals to combat child alcoholism and pornography, the policy project outlines a raft of draconian measures such as a 10 p.m. curfew for all school-age children and a ban on tattoos and body-piercings.
Under the new measures, schools would be prohibited from celebrating Western holidays like Halloween and St. Valentine's Day, which are deemed inappropriate to "Russian culture." Toys in the shape of monsters or skeletons would be banned as "provoking aggression."
The proposal also sets its sights on teenage subcultures such as emo, a style of hardcore punk, and goth, which lawmakers accuse of "cultivating bisexuality." Both styles, the legislation implies, are social scourges on a par with the skinhead movement, and must be eliminated from the social landscape.
This may be the fresh approach American foreign policy has been looking for. According to The Miami Herald, U.S. Amb. James Cason has become a singing sensation in Paraguay after learning the native Guaraní language and recording an album of indigenous folk songs.
Cason, who became ambassador to Paraguay in 2005, has become quite the hit. His songs are in heavy rotation on local radio stations and he drew 1,000 to a sold-out downtown concert. He's used the proceeds from the concert and album sales to raise over $20,000 for English-language education scholarships, gaining plenty of attention from the locals along the way:
He's been on TV and in all the newspapers,'' said Nelson Viveros, 16, who traveled to meet the ambassador recently in Encarnación, by the Argentina border. "It's strange, but people love it.''
Not everyone is convinced. One Paraguyan senator, who has asked Paraguay's legislature to denounce Cason, said the diplomat "sings horribly and his pronunciation of Guaraní words is stammering. It is an offense to the Paraguayan people."
Comedian Mike Myers's latest movie, The Love Guru, hits the big screen in the United States today. In the film, Myers plays Guru Pitka, a character who is raised at an ashram in India and then moves to the United States to serve as a New Age-ish life coach for a Canadian ice hockey player experiencing marital problems.
Some Hindus in the United States have complained that, based on what they've seen in the trailer, the movie lampoons their faith and reinforces misconceptions about their religion. The movie never mentions Hinduism, and Guru Pitka is supposed to be of a fictional faith. Critics, however, contend that considering he's coming from an ashram in India, wears Hindu saffron robes, and uses the term "guru," what other religion would viewers logically link him to?
It's true that in the United States, Hinduism -- one of the world's fastest growing religions and practiced by nearly 1 billion people -- has been largely and inaccurately portrayed as a bizarre, New Age-like religion. And The Love Guru will probably reinforce that image. As one Hindu leader told the Associated Press, "People are not very well-versed in Hinduism, so this might be their only exposure. They will have an image in their minds of stereotypes. They will think most of us are like that."
Upset Hindus should take solace, however, in the fact that this movie is a flop, mainly due to Myers's tired jokes and lame toilet humor. Reviews have been scathing, and the film received a pathetically low 15 percent on the tomatometer. Looks like The Love Guru generated some bad karma for itself.
South Africa's high court ruled yesterday that the country's 20,000 citizens of Chinese descent will now be considered legally "black." This means that they will now have access to the economic benefits of being a previously disadvantaged racial group, including affirmative action in employment and preferential status in bidding for contracts.
The Chinese community in South Africa dates back to the 19th century and like Indians and biracial people, the Chinese were classified as "colored" under apartheid-era racial laws. (Interestingly, the wealthier Japanese were considered white.) But since the end of white rule, their status has been unclear.
Patrick Chong, leader of the Chinese Association of South Africa explained:
As Chinese South Africans we were officially classified as 'Coloured' and suffered under the same discriminatory laws prior to 1994. The logical inference was thus that Chinese South Africans would automatically qualify for the same benefits as the 'Coloured' group, post-1994. This was not the case and Chinese South Africans suffered a second round of unfair discrimination.”
It's certainly a sign of how much South Africa has changed that minorities are going to court to be classified as black. If only the country would show this kind of generosity to more recent immigrants.
In 1960, the average Brazilian woman had 6.3 children. By 2000, the fertility rate was down to 2.3. The decline was comparable to China's, but Brazil didn't have a one-child policy. In fact, for a while it was even illegal to advertise contraceptives.
Many factors account for the drop in Brazilian fertility, but one recent study identified a factor most people probably wouldn't consider: soap operas (novelas). Novelas are huge in Brazil, and the network Rede Globo effectively has a monopoly on their production. Here's a sample:
During the past few decades, the vast majority of the population, of all social classes, has regularly tuned into the evening showings. The study, conducted by Eliana La Ferrara of Italy's Bocconi University and Alberto Chong and Suzanne Duryea of the Inter-American Development Bank, analyzed novelas aired from 1965 to 1999 in the top two time slots and found that they depict families that are much smaller than those in the real Brazil. Seventy-two percent of leading female characters age 50 or below had no children at all, and 21 percent had just one child. Hence, the authors hypothesized that the soap operas could be acting as a kind of birth control.
Using census data from 1970 to 1991 and data on the entry of Rede Globo into different markets, the researchers found that women living in areas that received Globo's broadcast signal had significantly lower fertility. (And yes, the study did control for all sorts of factors and addressed the concern that the entry of Globo might have been driven by trends that also contribute to fertility decline. I'll spare you the gory econometric details.) Additionally, people in areas with Globo's signal were more likely to name their children after novela characters, suggesting that it was the novelas specifically, and not TV in general, that influenced childbearing.
These findings on the power of TV are reminiscent of last year's FP article "TV Privileges," which reported on a study about the effect of satellite TV on Indian villages. Women living in villages that acquired satellite TV -- whose shows tend to depict relatively liberated urban women -- came to have less tolerance for spousal abuse and less bias in favor of having boys. They also became more able to spend money without a husband's permission.
It all suggests that soap operas can be a soapbox for social change.
Maybe Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's Facebook campaign is working after all. Xinhua reports that Americans kids are now going wild for Wen. The really bizarre article quotes letters that American students apparently wrote to Chinese leaders expressing admiriation for their earthquake-response efforts. Here's one from 12-year-old Hannah Rudoff from Portland, Oregon:
Dear Grandpa Hu and Grandpa Wen, your love to the quake-affected in Sichuan has again won worldwide respect for China, I hope all the leaders of other countries can also make it this way in their administration [...] I admire your people-first style and selfless spirit, and I pay my respect to you!"
Rudoff's classmate Elizabeth Krasch, addressed her note to China's military:
Thank you, Uncle PLA!" said Elizabeth in the newly acquired Chinese vocabulary "Jiefungjun Shushu" meaning uncle soldier of the People's Liberation Army, "You saved many lives from ruins. You bring hope to each and every corner of China. We will never forget your love to the young, the old and to the people! I will never forget this new Chinese word that I learned today!"
Now, I attended an elementary school that was so PC that the card game "war" was banned because of its violent overtones and we learned about César Chávez before George Washington, but I still don't think my teachers would have had us write fan letters to communist party leaders as a class project.
(Thanks to reader AS for the link.)
I can't imagine how La Scala intends to stage An Inconvenient Truth:
La Scala officials say the Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli has been commissioned to produce an opera on the international multiformat hit for the 2011 season at the Milan opera house. The composer is currently artistic director of the Arena in Verona.
After all, the movie was basically an extended PowerPoint presentation. Are they going to put Al Gore's slides up where the libretto usually goes? And what's the plot?
The folks at Rock the Vote just sent over the results of their latest poll, conducted by using jukebox-like machines to "survey" more than 72,000 bar and nightclub patrons. Here's the results, as provided by their PR flack:
I guess we can conclude:
1) A fair number of beer guzzling bar rats think all three of the candidates are pretty lame as drinking buddies.
2) Old beer guzzling bar rats in Florida would really like to sit down with McCain and commiserate about how the Maginot Line totally sucked.
3) Three in 10 bar rats have no clue what either the Republican or Democratic party is -- and probably don't care to.
4) Most bar rats could really use some extra cash to pay for beer.
FP readers already know the story of "How Sushi Went Global." And it's generally no secret that you can get a spicy tuna roll everywhere from Bangalore to Belize. But barbecue? Yes, apparently slow-cooked pig's butt is starting to go global, too.
The word out of the 2008 World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the world's largest pork BBQ contest held last weekend in Memphis, is that the globalization of barbecue is in the "embryonic" stages.
The trend can apparently lead to some awkward interactions:
At one point this year, a member of the Deominox team [from Belgium] was trying to talk his way in past the gate. The 'good old boy' working the entrance [had to ask for] help.... The language barrier almost got the Deominox team disqualified when it turned in its blind box in the whole-hog contest. Two of the non-English-speakers handled the delivery, but they missed the deadline after walking past signs they didn't understand. A sympathetic official interceded and successfully made the case for giving the team a break and letting their samples be judged...."
Now, before getting carried away about diluting of an American icon, it's important to remember that around two-thirds of this year's contestants still hailed from Tennessee. Perusing the list of winners, I don't see any foreign teams. Nor did I see baby backs on the menu the last time I was in Beijing. Of course, that was two years ago....
Portugal, once a mighty world power, has given in to its former colony, Brazil, when it comes to spelling. Its parliament voted Friday to standardize the Portuguese language and spell words the Brazilian way. It also added three letters to the alphabet -- k, w, and y. The president is expected to approve the change.
The benefits: easier Internet searches, a uniform language for legal documents and international contracts, and less headache for textbook publishers. The drawback: wounded Portuguese pride.
Passport, FP’s flagship blog, brings you news and hidden angles on the biggest stories of the day, as well as insights and under-the-radar gems from around the world.