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Erik's picture

The Revenge of Mother Nature on Easter

Easter in Slovakia is supposed to be the celebration of spring and birth. Well, the pounding snow last Friday morning surprised everyone.

However, the climate was still that of April and consequently the snow in the lowlands started to melt and caused flooding. Some villages had to be evacuated. During the second part of Easter festival guys go house-to-house and pour cold water on women and girls so that they stay healthy and pretty. I think the flooding is the revenge of Mother Nature for the years of watering.

Ludovica's picture

Saudi Arabia & Freedom of Speech - Social Media Censorship

The universal declaration of human rights was written in 1948; yet after more than sixty years there are countries where basic rights are denied. Freedom of speech is one of the most important evaluation criteria of a democracy: the more freedom of speech is allowed, the more a democracy is valid.

Saudi Arabia's regime, which profusely distances itself from the idea of democracy, is very keen on censoring: in 2005 it blocked Blogger, Google’s popular weblog tool; in 2010 it banned the use of Blackberry and temporarily blocked Facebook. Social networks are the latest target; the Saudi Arabian authorities have recently warned of blocking Twitter (defined a forum for unjust, incorrect communication) Skype, and applications such as WhatsApp and Viber.

As pointed out in a survey by the Opennet website, the attempt of censoring disturbing contents such as pornography seems to be an excuse to censor whatever the Saudi Arabia regime does not fancy:

Hayley's picture

Electronic Cigarettes: Smoking on British Airways

Last week, I took a long-haul British Airways flight from Heathrow’s Terminal Five. Other frequent flyers may be aware that the only airlines serving this particular terminal are Iberia and British Airways. Now, to make this relevant, I must explain that I am a recent smoking veteran.

I am fortunate enough to live very nearby a vendor that sells Gamucci Electronic Cigarettes at far below their usual retail price, and the idea one day struck me to give them a try. Within a week, I had cut down on my tobacco intake significantly, and have tapered my use to only social situations over the last month, which is a great personal victory for a pack-a-day smoker of three years.

Before my flight, I ran over British Airways’s regulations to find any explicit mention of electronic cigarettes, of which there were absolutely none. I made my way to Lewisham, where I (rather ambitiously) purchased three nicotine free cartridges for my Gamucci battery, charged the cigarette and packed my bags. When I arrived at Terminal Five, I began to feel anxious about the lack of nicotine that I may have to endure for the ten hour flight, and popped over to WH Smith to buy myself a SKYCIG, containing the equivalent nicotine of 30 cigarettes.

Erik's picture

Erik's View: Migration, Alcohol & Feminism

Erik Redli is a university graduate from Slovakia who is currently living in London. Each week he gives his view on the events of the last seven days. This week, he looks at migration policy, binge drinking and feminism.

Free Online Educational Courses

A new craze is sweeping education, with free online educational courses called MOOCS growing in popularity. 

"Many graduates boast about their university degree certificate. But most employers look at your skills and what the prospective employee can bring to the company. If you earn money, no one will dig into where you learnt your skills. Therefore the main asset of education should be the skills and knowledge, not the piece of paper.

I think these online courses hit on the fact that a degree does not automatically stand for knowledge. For example, I completed two courses recently. Although I did not earn the certificates (the maths too difficult for me), I learned a lot of new things that I have already used in my life and job. This makes for a good excuse for the large percentage of students who do not complete their courses. They took what they needed and left the certificates for the academics.

Umberto's picture

Album Review: The xx - Coexist

A much-awaited album was set to be released in 2012: The xx's second studio record, called ‘Coexist'. It carried big expectations following their very successful debut album ‘XX' (2009), which brought fresh air to the alternative music scene and influenced many artists to come (like Alt-J, whose own album review you can read here).

The band's trademark playing style is definitely minimalist: Jamie Smith & co managed with just a few instruments and simple electronic beats to create a great chill-out atmosphere in each of their old tracks, using low-tone vocals which gave the listener many reasons to keep thinking, sometimes for hours, about the lyrics and the whole meaning of the songs.

However, it seems that with ‘Coexist' this approach has become a little bit excessive, and their melodies are not as interesting as they were.

Beats sometimes keep on playing for minutes without any real aim, without any really bright spark. The vocals do not provide any further interest - making it very difficult to get the messages of many songs, which remain completely hidden and leave the listener with some reasonable doubts ('Tides', ‘Reunion', ‘Our Song').

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