Launched in Shanghai World Expo the largest in history

A dozen heads of state attended the ceremony that features a fireworks display over 100,000 fireworks over 3.5 kilometers

ELPAIS – ZIGOR ALDAMA | Shanghai (English Translation)

Chinese President Hu Jintao, is quite clear: “The Shanghai Expo is part of the world.” However, tonight’s opening has not been able to have a more Chinese: cardboard hosting 20 heads of state to face a bunch of cameras, dinner honoring camera, TV-style gala evenings, and fireworks display more than one hundred thousand fireworks along 3.5 miles of the shore of the Huangpu River, which bisects Expo superlatives.

It is the most expensive, with a budget of 3.155 million euros that soars to 44,000 when taking into account the infrastructure built to clean up the economic capital of China, the largest, built on an area of 5.28 square kilometers multiplying twenty used in the Zaragoza Expo, the longest, lasting 184 days and which has attracted the largest number of participants in the 159-year history of this event: 192 countries from the U.S. to East Timor, and 50 international organizations, have paraded their flags in a ceremony that could not hide reminiscent of the Olympic Games in Beijing, though the military component has been reduced to the hoisting of flags.

No wonder that Chinese commentators today consider a night of glory that marks a new milestone in the development policy of openness and the country. ” In fact, the Shanghai Expo has a strong economic, as most of the participating countries come to China to give the C’s in the fastest growing market on the planet, just as the other licks the wounds of the serious economic crisis.

“Despite the current situation, we believe it is imperative to come to the Expo with a spectacular project that will improve our image,” says Maria Tena, curator of the Spanish pavilion, which has already been considered during the testing period a favorite Expo, and has dominated front pages in many local media. “Let all the juice out of this event, because it can not be a waste,” he adds.

Spain also participates through the three cities that have been selected to show their progress in the area of urban BestUrban Practices, a pioneering initiative that gathers the best of fifty cities. Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and try to make sense in the theme of the event flags, Better City, Better Life (Better City, Better Life), which certainly seems an anachronism in the asphalt monster is Shanghai, a megalopolis of 20 million has now collapsed by public bodies in search of a good place to enjoy the fireworks, and the intransigence of the security forces.

In the six days that the Expo has already opened its tests to fix bugs already in China has shown that visitors are not going to miss: it is expected that between 70 and 90 million people come to the Expo, of which less than 10% will be foreign. “The massive influx is a major challenge, because the scale of this exhibition is unprecedented,” says Vicente Gonzalez Loscertales, Secretary General of the International Bureau of Expositions, which calls the event “Expo century.”

SUNDAY READINGS –  Ernest Hemingway

Work in Progress

Author Ernest Hemingway reads a gripping segment from an untitled “work in progress.” Hemingway, who started his career as a newspaperman and foreign correspondent, often set his stories in exotic locations. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1952 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. This fragment, taped with a wire recorder or transistorized pocket recorder sometime in the late 1950s, is one of the few examples of Hemingway reading his own work. The story typifies Hemingway’s fascination with violence and its aftermath and shows the masterful story-telling technique that has made him one of the 20th century’s most widely imitated writers. Copyrighted however you can listen by clicking below.

Work in format (4.7 Mb), .gsm format (0.9 Mb), .ra format (0.5 Mb).

Twilight of an idol, the Freudian fable.

Michel Onfray reviewed the life and work of Sigmund Freud. The philosopher argues brilliantly, but his book suffers from the excesses of the polemicist.

Le Figaro – (English Translation)

Five years after the controversy that erupted when the release of The Black Book of Psychoanalysis, signed by a group of psychiatrists, philosophers and experts in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), accusing Freud of being an impostor who created mythology ascientifique incapable of any clinical outcome, the philosopher Michel Onfray passes in turn to attack. He published a thunderous charge that is at once a kind of psychoanalysis of Freud, a review of discipline and a ruling on the alleged political implications of his thought.

Onfray has almost everything read 6000 pages of the work of Sigmund Freud, including his correspondence with his friend and confidant, the German physician Wilhelm Fliess, published recently in its entirety. In The Twilight of an idol, he portrays the vitriol of the theorist of psychoanalysis. This shows unrecognizable.

The man says Onfray was greedy and cynical, he thought only of becoming famous and, after testing various techniques for treating neurological diseases, including that of hypnosis, he created psychoanalysis. This result not only obtained, which did not stop Freud “pull it off, thanks to his genius for propaganda and intimidation, since, according Onfray, this theory became revered as a religion such. The burden is heavy and thick. But the book is full of facts and accurate statements. He asks questions like this:

– Onfray argues that hagiographers Freudians have covered some aspects of his life, including the fact that Freud claimed to have treated a friend of youth addicted to morphine-Fleischl Marxow, advising him to cocaine injections, which have finished kill. But Freud’s book on cocaine, which evokes this episode would have disappeared from the bibliography of the thinker. Why?

– The correspondence with Fliess, theorist who accused Freud of bisexuality plagiarism, would reveal the character of the utilitarian, which in Vienna, took $ 25 per hour session, or 450 euros today, and felt contempt for patients one day he would have qualified as “scum” just good to advance the understanding of neuroses by making, in passing, live psychoanalysts. What does this mean?

– The first patient of Freud, including the famous “Wolf Man”, Serge Pankejeff, remain incurable. Why did Freud claimed otherwise?

At this point, the reader may rightly wonder why a world fame has fallen to such a character? Why minds such as Thomas Mann and Stefan Zweig, who delivered his eulogy, the so admired? Here qu’Onfray develops his theory and his point weakens. According to Freud, who would have been an incestuous passion for his mother, an aversion to his father and a fondness for his youngest daughter, Anna, have skillfully his neurosis generalized into a universal paradigm through the famous “complex Oedipus.

An “ideologue” of the revolution-cons

The problem Onfray’s book is that it demonstrates that less n’assène. His argument is more hackneyed than it looks. Freud would be perverse of incest everywhere is quite an old refrain. Onfray is undoubtedly right to insist on the fact that the theory of the Oedipus complex, as does the idea of the unconscious, are of intuition, not science. These concepts are they provided unnecessary or ineffective?

Finally, in the latter part of his book, Onfray shows the tip of the nose and betrays what bothers him, basically, Freud. With its dark vision of mankind worked by hatred and rivalry, Freud was not a progressive but conservative. From there to make a homophobe, a misogynist or a racist, there is only one step …

Onfray’s even accused of being an “ideologue” of the cons-revolution, with the Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss and Benito Mussolini in alleged hero! Ideologue, Freud? Perhaps, at times, like everyone else.

Why The Twilight of an idol, inspiring in terms of biographical inquiry, turns out he hit the seal of the bias and the vehemence when it comes to analyzing the inheritance of Freud?


The misunderstanding with the French letters

I just thought Chopin was too girlie

But not any more. Ivan Hewett describes how he belatedly woke up to the ‘tender poet’ of the piano.

Telegraph – By Ivan Hewett

The flood of Chopin performances and recordings launched by the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth shows no sign of abating. In the next few weeks Alexander Tharaud, Leon McCawley and Louis Lortie are all giving Chopin concerts, to name just three. As for the recording industry, it’s thrown caution to the wind. In recent weeks there have been new releases from Nikolai Lugansky, Stephen Hough, Nelson Freire, Yundi. The list is endless.

But Chopin hasn’t always swept away those before him. Even now many people feel a deep resistance to him and for years I did, too. When I was just starting to explore classical music I naturally gave Chopin a try and had an instant aversion to him. Those melting runs and arabesques made me feel physically sick, and I instantly translated this “yuck” sensation into a moral judgment.

Chopin just wasn’t serious, certainly not compared to the tough modern music I favoured. The music was too weirdly intense, but in a feeble way, as if it needed to lie down with a bottle of smelling salts. If pressed to say why I disliked it so much, I imagine I would have said it was too girlie. Music shouldn’t be like that; it should have some backbone.

This ambivalent, half-feminised character of Chopin’s music touched a raw nerve in 19th-century culture. Music was thought of as essentially feminine, because it stirred up illicit passions and made people behave with alarming irrationality. In the buttoned-up patriarchal societies of 19th-century Europe, that made it suspect.

What bothered the musical world about Chopin is that he didn’t fit into this neat hierarchy. He preferred to play in salon settings and hated big public halls. But though he composed in small-scale salon genres such as the nocturne and the prelude, he burst them apart by filling them with radical ideas and disconcertingly powerful emotions. And his genuinely big pieces such as the sonatas had strange forms and “poetic” moments, so they didn’t fit the model of what a proper sonata should be…

… Everyone who met him noted his slender physique and dreamy, passive stance towards life. “Tell the Sexless One to write to me,” wrote the daughter of Chopin’s lover George Sands to her mother. The precocious 13 year-old may have meant that Chopin had no sexual presence, but it’s more likely she meant it was hard to tell what his sexuality was. Other people’s responses bear this out. People often described Chopin as the Ariel of music, or an angel, which as theologians liked to point out are hermaphroditic.

… Meanwhile, behind closed doors, there was a private musical space of salons and parlours, organised and performed by women, where a different kind of music was enjoyed: small-scale, picturesque, poetic, tasteful but never really passionate. What bothered the musical world about Chopin is that he didn’t fit into this neat hierarchy. He preferred to play in salon settings and hated big public halls. But though he composed in small-scale salon genres such as the nocturne and the prelude, he burst them apart by filling them with radical ideas and disconcertingly powerful emotions. And his genuinely big pieces such as the sonatas had strange forms and “poetic” moments, so they didn’t fit the model of what a proper sonata should be…

Muslim fundamentalism, polygamy, Burka: Analysis of the French cult phenomenon

What lessons can we learn from the history of movements like the Branch Davidians (sect waco), Aum Supreme Truth, Scientology, Mormons, Amish, etc.. to understand Islamic fundamentalism?

Le Monde (Opinion) – Ahmed R. (English Translation)

For any candidate for the formation of a small group sectarian stages are invariably the same: First, establish a metaphysical representation of the world, or “message” – he knows to be false or at least unprovable – that can attract the attention of others prior to seduce him.

This step is facilitated when the unprovable metaphysical representation already preexist in the form of a religious content and / or pseudo-scientific validated by established religions or currents. The difficulty in resolving this case will make a substantial innovation and original, which allows to have a personal legitimacy irreversibly towards others and separate religious professionals or para-scientific ‘already established.

Joseph Smith Jr. Prophet of the 19th century would become the Mormon Church, was stunned when he was a teenager and still poor by the hostility that could lead supporting just about fancy Relevant religion. He also guessed springs exploitable to gain nothing from consideration, fortune and power, and thus followed the path described here.

From this first step, the radical approach enchant itself. Indeed, today in France, a poor young man from the poor, whether or not of Muslim origin, imaging of Islamic fundamentalism will operate an immediate recovery personal symbolism requiring from him any cultural input, intellectual or financial other than its membership.

For a girl willing, this election seems absolutely paradoxical benefits will be motivated by goals allowed by the diversion injunctions against referring to the modern woman, pretty and thin, thereby avoiding competition between social and sexual girls with the assurance to have a man who is more highly esteemed by the canons of Islamic fundamentalism unequal.

The second step is to capture the most possible support by preaching often theatrical and original message of salvation, through various techniques covered neurolinguistic programming, such as cold-reading, persuasion progressive social proof etc.. In other words it is a step that can last for years, exhausting and dangerous, and one where failure is most likely.

Once the interest and conviction of a dozen members obtained, which is already a sacred victory, we reach the third step: lay values and distinctive identity cleaved to the members, by regulating their harmless components life: financial contribution to the group, dress, diet, sleep patterns, compulsive requirement of the type “do not walk right” or “salute so”, etc..

For followers of Islamic fundamentalism, this will result in absurd exaggeration and more literal than the rites of the religion: fasting throughout the year, refusing to eat halal products sold in places that are entirely halal, of course burkas for women and beard dyed red with henna for men, etc..

But with adaptations that make Islamic fundamentalism to the “French” different than the theocracies of the Middle East: a claim to some of the veiled female body that gives Burquin oddities such as for swimming exercise, practice tie and claimed the prayer rituals and all Muslims who are generally exempt Muslim women in the household, etc..

This step is fundamental sectarian, because it will strengthen the group fusion around the initiator, the signal to non-members and ask them, allowing greater uptake of potential supporters. This step is apparently the most serene of the business conducted by the initiator, the one where it can “outsource” without undue risk of plots to its legitimacy first lieutenants, one in which the group constituted may take breaks tactics in spreading the message or “body metaphysics”, and especially when the surrounding society has not yet realized the danger.

We just precisely at the fourth step: using the techniques already mentioned, the group then reaches several hundred members, property is insured for the initiator and his closest lieutenants through voluntary donations of catechumens is increasing, trade pyramidal closed circuit, attracting social resources modeled on ordinary family (!).The final consecration last made with the reaction of the social environment and particularly the secular political power.

So when applying this analytical framework drawn from historical examination of other phenomena sectarian Muslim fundamentalism “French”, you can find in the last twenty years, all the milestones and assess the situation reached today ‘ Today in France: that of a group of several hundred Muslim fundamentalists who differ radically from the social body or they are from and the environmental necessity, provoking hostile reaction from the secular political power will therefore carry out repression police.

Historically it has consisted of an alternative to the sectarian group consisting of: the social body exercising police repression so strong it compels him to choose between exile or dispersion.

However, the French context reveals two factors that could mitigate these alternatives: first, the fertile ground of political amalgam possible between Islamic fundamentalism and sectarian entire population more or less imbued with Islam as a religion of parents, Muslims ‘sociological’.

The fear of this confusion experienced in the latter easily explained they do not permit themselves to publicly condemn the sectarian fundamentalist drift, because this is precisely already responding and taking positions based amalgam of suspicion against them, while with vomiting of their associates and friends delusions sectarian fundamentalist Muslims.

The second factor is finally not to overlook all the same under the rule of law, which allows all the civil liberties we all enjoy every day, but that “the inconvient” to also protect those who do, as shown above, but contempt for the construction of any values that are not theirs: the carriers of burqa, the fundamentalist polygamous husbands in fact, etc..

There would not be better to give even the titles of nobility under the martyrology highly exploitable his followers.

Summer-movie mania: What trailers have the most heat?

LA Times –  Patrick Goldstein on the collision of entertainment, media and pop culture

Every year as we approach the onset of the noisy summer movie season I get together with a bunch of high school kids to talk about the summer films. I show them the trailers from a dozen or so hotly anticipated films; they decide whether the trailers make them want to see the films — or run as fast as they can in the other direction.

This year’s Summer Movie Posse is made up of a bunch of kids from Orange County, which means that the studio marketing execs can’t complain that their movies were unfairly judged by a bunch of jaded Westside L.A. private schoolers (look for my post to go up early next week).

I’ve been watching the trailers, trying to figure out which movies might be interesting for the Posse to see. I have to say that it’s quite a fascinating immersion experience, since it’s almost impossible to find a trailer that isn’t crammed with fiery midair explosions, high-speed car or plane chases, gunplay of one kind or another (with really, really big guns) and tons of fantasy creatures who often morph into extremely scary looking monsters. It generally feels like you’re watching a bunch of movies that were originally written by the team of C.S. Lewis and Mickey Spillane.

I make a point of never letting the Posse members know what I think of the trailers, not wanting to influence their opinions — and more importantly, not wanting them to laugh at me. But for you, my loyal readers, I offer a few off-the-cuff opinions of some of the summer movie trailers that I’ve been watching:

“Salt”: Actually, Ken Levine put it best on his tongue-in-cheek assessment of the summer movie crop when he write that “Salt” was an “action adventure developed for Tom Cruise now starring Angelina Jolie because they wanted someone more masculine.” It looks like a thinly veiled knockoff of “Wanted,” with Jolie as a suspected Russian spy on the lam who always seems to traveling at about 180 mph.

“Get Him to the Greek”: I know there must be some good laughs in this picture, but does anyone care about rock stars and their bad behavior anymore? It feels like a comedy that should’ve been made in 1985 starring David Lee Roth.

“Iron Man 2”: All I can say is — thank God for Robert Downey Jr. He makes all the material he’s in feel hipper and more irreverent than it probably is. (If only I can could get him to do the audio track for this blog, I’d look a helluva lot smarter.) If he wasn’t in this sequel, it would might be hard to tell it apart from all the other tech-geek superhero movies. Although you have to admit that Mickey Rourke has great teeth.

“Prince of Persia”: Every time I see this trailer, I think to myself — is the box-office genius of Jerry Bruckheimer his ability to make sure there are never any original ideas in any of his movies?

“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”: Every summer you see one trailer that feels like it signals a sleeper hit. And this one is it. Everything in the film looks cool, starting with Michael Cera.

“The Last Airbender”: Remember when M. Night Shyamalan was going to be the next Steven Spielberg? Now he’s making what looks like a totally generic special-effects movie, complete with such dialogue as “You are the only ones who can control the elements and bring peace to our world.” Yikes. Maybe he should’ve made this movie in 4-D, because 3-D may not be enough to distract us from the impenetrable storyline.

Antisocial Networking?


… Children used to actually talk to their friends. Those hours spent on the family princess phone or hanging out with pals in the neighborhood after school vanished long ago. But now, even chatting on cellphones or via e-mail (through which you can at least converse in paragraphs) is passé. For today’s teenagers and preteens, the give and take of friendship seems to be conducted increasingly in the abbreviated snatches of cellphone texts and instant messages, or through the very public forum of Facebook walls and MySpace bulletins. (Andy Wilson, the 11-year-old boy involved in the banter above, has 418 Facebook friends.)

Last week, the Pew Research Center found that half of American teenagers — defined in the study as ages 12 through 17 — send 50 or more text messages a day and that one third send more than 100 a day. Two thirds of the texters surveyed by the center’s Internet and American Life Project said they were more likely to use their cellphones to text friends than to call them. Fifty-four percent said they text their friends once a day, but only 33 percent said they talk to their friends face-to-face on a daily basis. The findings came just a few months after the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that Americans between the ages of 8 and 18 spend on average 7 1/2 hours a day using some sort of electronic device, from smart phones to MP3 players to computers — a number that startled many adults, even those who keep their BlackBerrys within arm’s reach during most waking hours.

To date, much of the concern over all this use of technology has been focused on the implications for kids’ intellectual development. Worry about the social repercussions has centered on the darker side of online interactions, like cyber-bullying or texting sexually explicit messages. But psychologists and other experts are starting to take a look at a less-sensational but potentially more profound phenomenon: whether technology may be changing the very nature of kids’ friendships.

… The question on researchers’ minds is whether all that texting, instant messaging and online social networking allows children to become more connected and supportive of their friends — or whether the quality of their interactions is being diminished without the intimacy and emotional give and take of regular, extended face-to-face time.

It is far too soon to know the answer. Writing in The Future of Children, a journal produced through a collaboration between the Brookings Institution and the Woodrow Wilson Center at Princeton University, Kaveri Subrahmanyam and Patricia M. Greenfield, psychologists at California State University, Los Angeles, and U.C.L.A. respectively, noted: “Initial qualitative evidence is that the ease of electronic communication may be making teens less interested in face-to-face communication with their friends. More research is needed to see how widespread this phenomenon is and what it does to the emotional quality of a relationship.”

But the question is important, people who study relationships believe, because close childhood friendships help kids build trust in people outside their families and consequently help lay the groundwork for healthy adult relationships. “These good, close relationships — we can’t allow them to wilt away. They are essential to allowing kids to develop poise and allowing kids to play with their emotions, express emotions, all the functions of support that go with adult relationships,”…]

How Much to Donate? God Knows


When the Obamas released their 2009 income tax returns a few weeks ago, we itemized their charitable contributions on our Bucks personal finance blog. Some readers praised their choices and some criticized them, which was predictable. But a few others got into a far more interesting debate.

Some people wondered whether the first couple should have given more money away than the 6 percent of their adjusted gross income that they did dole out, though people did credit the couple for redirecting to charity all of the $1.4 million the president was awarded for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Others noted that George and Laura Bush gave away a much higher percentage of their income in 2007: 18 percent.

To my mind, though, looking solely at income misses the bigger picture. If we’re going to try to set standards that might offer guidance for us all, shouldn’t we look not just at what people earn but what they have? Once you do, it suggests a whole new way of thinking about what to give and a couple of ways to donate higher amounts more easily.

Americans gave away 2.2 percent of their personal disposable income to nonprofit groups of various sorts in 2008, according to Giving USA, an annual report on philanthropy. Of the $229 billion that individuals donated that year, about half went to religious institutions.

Given our support for houses of worship, it seems reasonable to ask how much the various holy books would have us give. Perhaps the best-known prescription for giving is the Mormon practice of tithing, where members give 10 percent of their income to the church each year.

The concept of tithing appears in several places in the Bible, including the book of Genesis, where Jacob promises to give a 10th of what he receives back to God. In Deuteronomy, meanwhile, there is the commandment to tithe “all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.” The year-by-year yield does indeed sound like an ancient agrarian version of what we now think of as annual income.

Muslims, however, take a different approach, according to Omid Safi, a professor of religion at the University of North Carolina. In Islam, there is a required charitable contribution known as Zakat, but instead of tapping income, the Koran specifies a donation of one-fortieth (2.5 percent) of one’s accumulated wealth each year.

I think the Koran has it right, and the financial planner Brent Kessel helps explain why in his book “It’s Not About the Money.” He offers the example of a person with $10 million in land that generates no income and $5,000 in monthly pensions and then cites a chef who earns $180,000, but has no savings. Shouldn’t the land baron be giving away more each year?

Mr. Kessel suggests a baseline standard of 10 percent of income or 1 percent of net worth, whatever is greater…