Archive for Europe

Overnight: Eurovision 1963 Recap of all 16 Songs



Eurovision (Wiki) has been around since 1957.


Overnight: Fasnacht in Basel, Switzerland: Morgenstreich


Fasnacht Basel SwitzerlandMore from 'Carnival' aka 'Mardi Gras' celebrations around the world, in this case in Basel, Switzerland.

One of the events this video covers is the 'Morgenstreich' - the 'morning prank' - so-called because it takes place on the Monday after the start of Lent in defiance, in years by, of a papal prohibition of any festivities taking place once Lent begins.


Monday Links


Photos: Sochi Olympics day 15 highlights

Has the US Alpine ski team embraced ageism?

Syrian refugee children forced to work to support families in Lebanon

The $11 Billion Year
From Sundance to the Oscars, an Inside Look at the Changing Hollywood System

Angry crowd runs George Zimmerman out of Miami

Walker Aide Dismissed 'Crazy' Woman Who Starved In Mental Health Facility

13 Ways Europe Does Food Safer, Cleaner, and Kinder

Can You Walk On Water?

Watch what happens when the Tea Party takes over a school board. Warning: It gets ugly

Wes Anderson: In A World Of His Own

Watch This Fish Drive A Tiny Car (Really!)


Overnight 'As We Travel': Innsbruck, Austria




I really enjoy these 'As We Travel' segments. They're simple, they're short, the show you the essence of a city without making you site through a travelogue, and they fun. They're on YouTube (subscribe to their channel) and they're on the website'

Here's one from Innsbruck, Austria.


Corruption Across the European Union 'Breathtaking' (EU Report)



I just found this story on the BBC:

Corruption Across the European Union 'Breathtaking'

Note: the map represents the results of the question "Are you personally affected by corruption in daily life?' - not the actual results of the survey.

What I find strange about the story is that I lived in and traveled through Europe for about 17 years and was never asked for a bribe or felt that others were being asked for them or giving them unbidden.

I'm trying to figure at what level this corruption took place, perhaps if you were looking for building permits or dispensations from safety regulations.

I do wonder why the difference between north and south is so high. I do remember many stories from travelers to the former Soviet Union of constantly being asked for bribes to get the simplest things done. I have no idea if anything has changed since then (ca 15 years ago).


Switzerland fights Income Inequality



Because of Swiss banks' privacy policies, (no longer as private as they once were) we tend to think of Switzerland as a bastion of capitalism in the 'free enterprise - if you don't make it, that's your problem' libertarian sense.

But that's just not the case.

I was talking with a Swiss pilot yesterday about how much I admire his country (which I've often visited).  One thing which always struck me about it was how well government and free enterprise work together (not against each other as the right-wingers here see the way to go) to create prosperity for all.  The Swiss would never tolerate the type of income inequality we (now after years of Republican obstruction and destruction) take for granted.

Take a look at this story from Bloomberg Business Week:

The Swiss Join the Fight Against Inequality


Special Christmas Moments For Special Needs People


Mall Santa

Fortunately for most parents and families, the greatest challenge they have at Christmas holiday time is deciding whether to venture out on Black Friday, Small Store Saturday or if the new XBox or PlayStation 4 is going to be in stock when they make it to the mall.

But for other families, thankfully a much smaller number, the challenges are much greater. They're sometimes even heart breaking. It's predicated on the challenges of a special needs member of the clan. It could be a child, a brother or perhaps aunt or uncle. Being a special needs person doesn't mean you should be hidden away.

Sure, there are times when their uncontrollable outbursts or actions, involuntary as they are, cause for a bit of commotion or embarrassment for their attendants. It's not as much fun as taking a fully healthy person with you and facing the dauntlessness of crowds and distractions. It's tough enough to keep your eyes on your charge, let alone not become a bit wistful if only they could live that "normal" life that surrounds them and you. If only your special one could find a moment of normal happiness. It's elusive, and so cherished.

This year a number of malls across Canada (and a paltry few down here) are doing something rather unique -- they're setting aside blocks of time for the traditional store Santa to give a moment to scores of special needs children. And when you think of it, isn't the holiday season the time of year where we all should take notice of those blessings we all have and give back, or at least acknowledge those who face life-long challenges?

It's heartbreaking to the caregivers who see so few opportunities for our young ones to be as welcomed into the world the rest of us take for granted. Even if only for a fleeting moment, the thrill it is to see the challenged given their special moment.

Take a look and you'll see how little it takes to truly give. I applaud these Canadian malls, and hope that mall merchants down here in the states and across the ponds in Europe and Asia will demand this act of kindness opportunity. If I'm going to face the crowds to purchase my gifts, I'm going to patronize with my purchasing power stores that stand for something more than pure commercialism. Shops that sponsor a heart and allow the Christmas dreams of those less fortunate to come true will be getting my almighty dollar.