sexta-feira, 8 de outubro de 2010

How To Learn Any Accent - Amy Walker

Part 2

A masterclass with Amy Walker (of "21 Accents") to empower You to teach yourself any accent on the planet. Learn the way Amy learned -with the world as your classroom. Amy's current feature film project:
Amy's personal website:

Vibes to You in all you do!

The English Language In 24 Accents

Me attempting to do 24 different accents from my own country and from other countries around the world. Hopefully I got most of them right but I may have made mistakes and I can do some better than others. However, I made this video for my friends because I promised them I would do an accent video. I mean no offence to anyone and please don't be upset if I have not included your specific accent or got it wrong.

quinta-feira, 2 de setembro de 2010

Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top

The fact that the average American working woman earns only about 8o% of what the average American working man earns has been something of a festering sore for at least half the population for several decades. And despite many programs and analyses and hand-wringing and badges and even some legislation, the figure hasn't budged much in the past five years.

But now there's evidence that the ship may finally be turning around: according to a new analysis of 2,000 communities by a market research company, in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., the median full-time salaries of young women are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group. In two cities, Atlanta and Memphis, those women are making about 20% more. This squares with earlier research from Queens College, New York, that had suggested that this was happening in major metropolises. But the new study suggests that the gap is bigger than previously thought, with young women in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego making 17%, 12% and 15% more than their male peers, respectively. And it also holds true even in reasonably small areas like the Raleigh-Durham region and Charlotte in North Carolina (both 14% more), and Jacksonville, Fla. (6%). (See TIME's special report on the state of the American woman.)

Here's the slightly deflating caveat: this reverse gender gap, as it's known, applies only to unmarried, childless women under 30 who live in cities. The rest of working women — even those of the same age, but who are married or don't live in a major metropolitan area — are still on the less scenic side of the wage divide.

The figures come from James Chung of Reach Advisors, who has spent more than a year analyzing data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. He attributes the earnings reversal overwhelmingly to one factor: education. For every two guys who graduate from college or get a higher degree, three women do. This is almost the exact opposite of the graduation ratio that existed when the baby boomers entered college. Studies have consistently shown that a college degree pays off in much higher wages over a lifetime, and even in many cases for entry-level positions. "These women haven't just caught up with the guys," says Chung. "In many cities, they're clocking them."

Chung also claims that, as far as women's pay is concerned, not all cities are created equal. Having pulled data on 2,000 communities and cross-referenced the demographic information with the wage-gap figures, he found that the cities where women earned more than men had at least one of three characteristics. Some, like New York City or Los Angeles, had primary local industries that were knowledge-based. Others were manufacturing towns whose industries had shrunk, especially smaller ones like Erie, Pa., or Terre Haute, Ind. Still others, like Miami or Monroe, La., had a majority minority population. (Hispanic and black women are twice as likely to graduate from college as their male peers.) (See the top 10 female leaders.)

Significantly, the conditions that are feeding the rise in female wages — a growing knowledge-based economy, the decline of a manufacturing base and an increasing minority population — are dominant trends throughout the U.S. "This generation [of women] has adapted to the fundamental restructuring of the American economy better than their older predecessors or male peers," says Chung. While the economic advantage of women sometimes evaporates as they age and have families, Chung believes that women now may have enough leverage that their financial gains may not be completely erased as they get older. (Comment on this story.)

The holdout cities — those where the earnings of single, college-educated young women still lag men's — tended to be built around industries that are heavily male-dominated, such as software development or military-technology contracting. In other words, Silicon Valley could also be called Gender Gap Gully.

As for the somewhat depressing caveat that the findings held true only for women who were childless and single: it's not their marital status that puts the squeeze on their income. Rather, highly educated women tend to marry and have children later. Thus the women who earn the most in their 20s are usually single and childless.

The rise of female economic power is by no means limited to the U.S., nor necessarily to the young. Late last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that for the first time, women made up the majority of the workforce in highly paid managerial positions. The change in the status quo has been marked enough that several erstwhile women's advocates have started to voice concerns about how to get more men to go to college. Is there an equivalent to Title IX for men?


terça-feira, 10 de agosto de 2010

Ensino de inglês mira tecnologia

Ensino de inglês mira tecnologia Encontro de professores defende uso de ferramentas modernas e mais qualificação do setor


Foi-se o tempo em que professores de inglês podiam encarar a profissão como um "bico" e o mercado exigia apenas fluência na língua para ingressar na carreira.
Cada vez mais é necessário estar por dentro das novas metodologias e abordagens e utilizar a tecnologia como aliada, sem deixar de lado o aspecto humano do ensino.
Esses foram os motes da Convenção Nacional Braz-Tesol, que reuniu 1.200 profissionais de ensino de inglês do Brasil e do mundo de 19 a 22 de julho em São Paulo.
"A profissionalização do setor é uma tendência. O mercado está mais exigente e precisa de professores qualificados e comprometidos", afirma Vinícius Nobre, vice-presidente da Braz-Tesol, a maior associação de professores de inglês do país.
Na sessão de abertura, Patricia Friedrich, professora da Universidade do Estado do Arizona, dos EUA, destacou a responsabilidade social do professor de idiomas.
"Dar aulas não é só um emprego. Devemos ter consciência do impacto do inglês como língua global e de que a linguagem pode ser um veículo para resolver conflitos."

Uma das principais tendências no ensino de inglês é o uso de tecnologia, como sites, filmes, vídeos do YouTube, blogs e podcasts (arquivos de áudio on-line).
"O professor tem de conhecer as ferramentas e orientar os alunos a utilizá-las fora da sala de aula também, para o aprendizado na rapidez que o mercado exige hoje", diz o inglês Graeme Hodgson, diretor de língua inglesa do British Council.
"Quem lutar contra a tecnologia sairá perdendo. É importante aprender a lidar e trabalhar com ela", completa David Crystal, autor de duas enciclopédias da Cambridge University Press.
Com a internet, ganha destaque a ideia de um "inglês global", com mais variedade linguística do que a tradicional divisão entre o inglês britânico e o norte-americano.
Para o professor Henrique Moura, respeitar as características culturais dos falantes não nativos é um dos temas em pauta atualmente.
"Na China, há mais alunos aprendendo inglês do que nativos dessa língua, e isso tem impacto no ensino. Não é preciso ter a preocupação de soar como um nativo, mas de ser compreendido globalmente", declara Ben Goldstein, professor de cursos on-line da Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, na Espanha.


- Qualificar-se em cursos de graduação (letras, pedagogia ou educação), pós-graduação ou mestrado
- Buscar certificação internacional (como Celta e Icelt, na área de metodologia, e CAE ou CPE, na de proficiência)
- Estar antenado com a tecnologia como ferramenta de ensino (vídeos on-line, podcasts e sites, por exemplo)
- Conhecer diversas metodologias e abordagens, como a comunicativa e a lexical
- Conhecer e aplicar conceitos de ensino afetivo e neurolinguística
- Buscar aperfeiçoamento constante
- Entender a responsabilidade social do professor

Fonte: Folha On Line

domingo, 8 de agosto de 2010


By Devin Faraci

This entire article is a major spoiler for Inception. Please do not read it until you've experienced Christopher Nolan's film for yourself.

Every single moment of Inception is a dream. I think that in a couple of years this will become the accepted reading of the film, and differing interpretations will have to be skillfully argued to be even remotely considered. The film makes this clear, and it never holds back the truth from audiences. Some find this idea to be narratively repugnant, since they think that a movie where everything is a dream is a movie without stakes, a movie where the audience is wasting their time.

Except that this is exactly what Nolan is arguing against. The film is a metaphor for the way that Nolan as a director works, and what he's ultimately saying is that the catharsis found in a dream is as real as the catharsis found in a movie is as real as the catharsis found in life. Inception is about making movies, and cinema is the shared dream that truly interests the director.

I believe that Inception is a dream to the point where even the dream-sharing stuff is a dream. Dom Cobb isn't an extractor. He can't go into other people's dreams. He isn't on the run from the Cobol Corporation. At one point he tells himself this, through the voice of Mal, who is a projection of his own subconscious. She asks him how real he thinks his world is, where he's being chased across the globe by faceless corporate goons.

She asks him that in a scene that we all know is a dream, but Inception lets us in on this elsewhere. Michael Caine's character implores Cobb to return to reality, to wake up. During the chase in Mombasa, Cobb tries to escape down an alleyway, and the two buildings between which he's running begin closing in on him - a classic anxiety dream moment. When he finally pulls himself free he finds Ken Watanabe's character waiting for him, against all logic. Except dream logic.

Much is made in the film about totems, items unique to dreamers that can be used to tell when someone is actually awake or asleep. Cobb's totem is a top, which spins endlessly when he's asleep, and the fact that the top stops spinning at many points in the film is claimed by some to be evidence that Cobb is awake during those scenes. The problem here is that the top wasn't always Cobb's totem - he got it from his wife, who killed herself because she believed that they were still living in a dream. There's more than a slim chance that she's right - note that when Cobb remembers her suicide she is, bizarrely, sitting on a ledge opposite the room they rented. You could do the logical gymnastics required to claim that Mal simply rented another room across the alleyway, but the more realistic notion here is that it's a dream, with the gap between the two lovers being a metaphorical one made literal. When Mal jumps she leaves behind the top, and if she was right about the world being a dream, the fact that it spins or doesn't spin is meaningless. It's a dream construct anyway. There's no way to use the top as a proof of reality.

Watching the film with this eye you can see the dream logic unfolding. As is said in the movie, dreams seem real in the moment and it's only when you've woken up that things seem strange. The film's 'reality' sequences are filled with moments that, on retrospect, seem strange or unlikely or unexplained. Even the basics of the dream sharing technology is unbelievably vague, and I don't think that's just because Nolan wants to keep things streamlined. It's because Cobb's unconscious mind is filling it in as he goes along.

There's more, but I would have to watch the film again with a notebook to get all the evidence (all of it in plain sight). The end seems without a doubt to be a dream - from the dreamy way the film is shot and edited once Cobb wakes up on the plane all the way through to him coming home to find his two kids in the exact position and in the exact same clothes that he kept remembering them, it doesn't matter if the top falls, Cobb is dreaming.

That Cobb is dreaming and still finds his catharsis (that he can now look at the face of his kids) is the point. It's important to realize that Inception is a not very thinly-veiled autobiographical look at how Nolan works. In a recent red carpet interview, Leonardo DiCaprio - who was important in helping Nolan get the script to the final stages - compares the movie not to The Matrix or some other mindfuck movie but Fellini's 8 1/2. This is probably the second most telling thing DiCaprio said during the publicity tour for the film, with the first being that he based Cobb on Nolan. 8 1/2 is totally autobiographical for Fellini, and it's all about an Italian director trying to overcome his block and make a movie (a science fiction movie, even). It's a film about filmmaking, and so is Inception.

The heist team quite neatly maps to major players in a film production. Cobb is the director while Arthur, the guy who does the research and who sets up the places to sleep, is the producer. Ariadne, the dream architect, is the screenwriter - she creates the world that will be entered. Eames is the actor (this is so obvious that the character sits at an old fashioned mirrored vanity, the type which stage actors would use). Yusuf is the technical guy; remember, the Oscar come from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and it requires a good number of technically minded people to get a movie off the ground. Nolan himself more or less explains this in the latest issue of Film Comment, saying 'There are a lot of striking similarities [between what the team does and the putting on of a major Hollywood movie]. When for instance the team is out on the street they've created, surveying it, that's really identical with what we do on tech scouts before we shoot.'

That leaves two key figures. Saito is the money guy, the big corporate suit who fancies himself a part of the game. And Fischer, the mark, is the audience. Cobb, as a director, takes Fischer through an engaging, stimulating and exciting journey, one that leads him to an understanding about himself. Cobb is the big time movie director (or rather the best version of that - certainly not a Michael Bay) who brings the action, who brings the spectacle, but who also brings the meaning and the humanity and the emotion.

The movies-as-dreams aspect is part of why Inception keeps the dreams so grounded. In the film it's explained that playing with the dream too much alerts the dreamer to the falseness around him; this is just another version of the suspension of disbelief upon which all films hinge. As soon as the audience is pulled out of the movie by some element - an implausible scene, a ludicrous line, a poor performance - it's possible that the cinematic dream spell is broken completely, and they're lost.

As a great director, Cobb is also a great artist, which means that even when he's creating a dream about snowmobile chases, he's bringing something of himself into it. That's Mal. It's the auterist impulse, the need to bring your own interests, obsessions and issues into a movie. It's what the best directors do. It's very telling that Nolan sees this as kind of a problem; I suspect another filmmaker might have cast Mal as the special element that makes Cobb so successful.

Inception is such a big deal because it's what great movies strive to do. You walk out of a great film changed, with new ideas planted in your head, with your neural networks subtly rewired by what you've just seen. On a meta level Inception itself does this, with audiences leaving the theater buzzing about the way it made them feel and perceive. New ideas, new thoughts, new points of view are more lasting a souvenir of a great movie than a ticket stub.

It's possible to view Fischer, the mark, as not the audience but just as the character that is being put through the movie that is the dream. To be honest, I haven't quite solidified my thought on Fischer's place in the allegorical web, but what's important is that the breakthrough that Fischer has in the ski fortress is real. Despite the fact that his father is not there, despite the fact that the pinwheel was never by his father's bedside, the emotions that Fischer experiences are 100 percent genuine. It doesn't matter that the movie you're watching isn't a real story, that it's just highly paid people putting on a show - when a movie moves you, it truly moves you. The tears you cry during Up are totally real, even if absolutely nothing that you see on screen has ever existed in the physical world.

For Cobb there's a deeper meaning to it all. While Cobb doesn't have daddy issues (that we know of), he, like Fischer, is dealing with a loss. He's trying to come to grips with the death of his wife*; Fischer's journey reflects Cobb's while not being a complete point for point reflection. That's important for Nolan, who is making films that have personal components - that talk about things that obviously interest or concern him - but that aren't actually about him. Other filmmakers (Fellini) may make movies that are thinly veiled autobiography, but that's not what Nolan or Cobb are doing. The movies (or dreams) they're putting together reflect what they're going through but aren't easily mapped on to them. Talking to Film Comment, Nolan says he has never been to psychoanalysis. 'I think I use filmmaking for that purpose. I have a passionate relationship to what I do.'

In a lot of ways Inception is a bookend to last summer's Inglorious Basterds. In that film Quentin Tarantino celebrated the ways that cinema could change the world, while in Inception Nolan is examining the ways that cinema, the ultimate shared dream, can change an individual. The entire film is a dream, within the confines of the movie itself, but in a more meta sense it's Nolan's dream. He's dreaming Cobb, and finding his own moments of revelation and resolution, just as Cobb is dreaming Fischer and finding his own catharsis and change.

The whole film being a dream isn't a cop out or a waste of time, but an ultimate expression of the film's themes and meaning. It's all fake. But it's all very, very real. And that's something every single movie lover understands implicitly and completely.

* it's really worth noting that if you accept that the whole movie is a dream that Mal may not be dead. She could have just left Cobb. The mourning that he is experiencing deep inside his mind is no less real if she's alive or dead - he has still lost her.

quinta-feira, 20 de maio de 2010


A doodle is a type of sketch, an unfocused drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied.

Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be abstract shapes.

Stereotypical examples of doodling are found in school notebooks, often in the margins, drawn by students daydreaming or losing interest during class.

Other common examples of doodling are produced during long telephone conversations if a pen and paper are available.

Popular kinds of doodles include cartoon versions of teachers or companions in a school, famous TV or comic characters, invented fictional beings, landscapes, geometric shapes and patterns, textures, banners with legends, and animations made by drawing a scene sequence in various pages of a book or notebook.

Regardless of any advancement in technology, pen and paper will always be the number once choice for any budding artist or illustrator. It is with the these pencil sketches that we create great designs. So, what exactly makes a doodle so fascinating even though it is claimed to be one of the most unproductive ways of spending time. Maybe a gross understatement, but once you look at these creative doodles, you will know what I’m talking about.

A doodle is a type of sketch, an unfocused drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied elsewhere. Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be abstract shapes. Stereotypical examples of doodling are found in school notebooks, often in the margins, drawn by students daydreaming or losing interest during class. Other common examples of doodling are produced during long telephone conversations if a pen and paper are available. Popular kinds of doodles include cartoon versions of teachers or companions in a school, famous TV or comic characters, invented fictional beings, landscapes, geometric shapes, textures, banners with legends, and animations made by drawing a scene sequence in various pages of a book or notebook. (via wikipedia)
In this article, I have showcased some of the coolest doodle art found on the web. Some of them will just blow you away. Also, at the end of the article, I have given links to some really useful resources and articles which will definitely be of interest to you.

So, Enjoy the journey.

terça-feira, 11 de maio de 2010

Practising English outside School

By Josef Essberger

When you are learning English, it is very important to use and practise your English as often as possible. If you are studying in a school, you have some good opportunities to practise. But what can you do after school, or if you are studying alone, to continue practising?

In fact there are many things that you can do outside school to improve your English. Let us consider the 4 skills that you need to develop to use a language well:

Here are some of the ways you can improve these skills outside school:

Listening to English is one of the most important things you can do to improve your English. Do not try too hard to understand everything. Just listen and you will soon understand. You have several possibilities:

Cassettes and CDs
Listening to songs (on cassette or compact disc) can be useful in helping you to "feel" the language. It does not matter if you do not understand everything.

On television, you have a big choice of programmes: films, chat shows, documentaries, news. In many parts of the world you can watch English-language television, for example:

Many television stations have Internet sites which give details of frequencies.

This is another excellent way to practise your English. Here are 2 stations that you can listen to world-wide:

•BBC World Service
•Voice of America
You can watch films in English on video at home. In some countries, you can watch films in English at the cinema. Watching with video is a very good method because you can replay parts that you do not understand. If you watch a video with English sub-titles, you can cover the sub-titles with paper. Then, if there are some words that you really do not understand, you can remove the paper and look at the sub-title. But be careful! The sub-titles are not always an exact translation.

Speaking English is one thing that you cannot do alone!

You can listen to English alone.
You can read English alone.
You can write English alone.

But, you run a serious risk if you speak to yourself in English! That is why you should speak as much as possible at school where there are people to speak to.

How can you speak English outside school?

That depends on where you are. But you should make a big effort to find somebody for conversation practice. In a large city, it should not be difficult to find people who speak good English. You can put an advertisement in a local newspaper. There may even be some English or American pubs or clubs where people speak English. You may find an English person, for example, who wants to practise your language. Then you can do a conversation exchange. Outside the big cities, you need to be more imaginative. Perhaps you can use the telephone. Or even the Internet, if you are equipped with an Internet phone.

Reading is an excellent way to learn new vocabulary. But you need to read the right level of English. If it is too difficult, you may become discouraged. If it is too easy, you will make no progress. Try to read something that is slightly above your level. Try to understand the meaning of a new word from the context. If you really cannot understand, use a dictionary and record the word.

What can you read? Well, there is no shortage of reading material: books, poetry, newspapers, magazines, Internet.

There are so many books - fact or fiction - that it should not be difficult to find something suitable. Perhaps you already have some books in English. Or take a look in a library or bookshop. In many cities you can use the library of the British Council.

Some publishers produce 'simple' books for beginners. They are short, simplified stories. Usually they have notes and explanations.

We also have some short stories and classic texts in English Club English Reading with notes to help you.

You can learn a lot of new vocabulary from a newspaper. You can find British or American newspapers in all the big cities of the world. Some countries publish special English-language papers: the 'Bangkok Post' in Thailand or the 'Straits Times' in Singapore, for example.

Here are some British and American newspapers. They are available at news-stands in big cities and at airports and main railway stations.


•The Times
•The Telegraph
•The Financial Times (especially for business)
•The European (weekly - especially about Europe)
•'The Sunday Times' (weekly)

•International Herald Tribune
•Washington Post
Try reading a magazine regularly. You can subscribe to a magazine and have it delivered anywhere in the world.

•Time (general interest)
•Newsweek (news)
•The Economist (business)
•Cosmopolitan (fashion, leisure)
Practise your English by writing letters to a pen friend. Today, with the Internet, this is very easy. You can exchange letters by email. To find a pen friend from anywhere in the world, check out English Club ESL Forums.

© 1998 Josef Essberger

quarta-feira, 5 de maio de 2010

A importância do contexto

Por Ulisses Wehby de Carvalho


É impressionante o número de perguntas que chegam ao “Fórum Tecla SAP” com títulos do tipo “Como se diz “qualquer coisa” em inglês?”. Até aí nada de extraordinário, pois trata-se de interesse legítimo em ampliar os conhecimentos da língua inglesa. O que muitos estudantes não percebem é que, instintivamente, acabam criando a expectativa de que existe uma conexão direta e estática entre os vocábulos, como se houvesse uma relação biunívoca entre as palavras. Relação o quê? É isso mesmo, biunívoca. Para quem não se lembra das aulas de matemática, uma relação biunívoca é aquela que associa, a cada um dos elementos de um conjunto, um único elemento de outro conjunto, e vice-versa, como na Figura 1 abaixo.

É natural que, ao começarmos a estudar uma língua estrangeira, façamos esse tipo de associação. Que atire a primeira pedra quem, conscientemente ou não, nunca pensou assim. Acontece que, na prática, nenhum termo existe em um fundo cinza estéril. Palavra só é palavra de verdade quando está dentro de um contexto. Tomemos como exemplos três situações distintas, como na Figura 2.

Vejamos agora o que acontece com os mesmos vocábulos do exemplo inicial (Figura 1), agora inseridos no contexto esportivo (Figura 3), mais especificamente no mundo do tênis. Observe as possíveis alterações de sentido.

É lógico que “pegador” aqui não é o rapaz namorador que faz muito sucesso com as garotas. Trata-se de “BALL BOY”, o “pegador de bolas” no tênis. Quanto a “LOVE” querer dizer “zero”, confira o post Vocabulário: Zero publicado aqui no Tecla SAP. Mudemos de contexto mais uma vez e vejamos o que acontece no próximo caso.

Aí você me pergunta: Quer dizer que “HOUSE” no contexto político significa “câmara (dos deputados)”? Então “WHITE HOUSE” é “Câmara Branca” por acaso? Eu respondo: não caia na mesma armadilha! É claro que “WHITE HOUSE” sempre foi e continuará sendo “Casa Branca”. Não se esqueça, no entanto, de que “HOUSE” pode ser “casa” ou, entre outras acepções, “Câmara”. Jamais se esqueça de que as relações entre os elementos de um conjunto com os do outro conjunto são muito voláteis. Em outras palavras, são relações de curtíssima duração. Está começando a entender onde quero chegar? Observemos mais um quadro:

Ao encerrar uma carta para parente ou amigo próximo é comum usarmos a palavra “LOVE”. Nesses casos, podemos afirmar que “LOVE” é equivalente a “beijos”. Consulte os posts Vocabulário: Abraço e Curiosidades: XOXO para ler mais sobre o assunto. Em frases como “Oh boy, it’s cold in here!”, “BOY” passa a ser uma interjeição que indica surpresa, indignação, alegria etc. Poderíamos traduzi-la por “caramba”, “minha nossa” ou outra locução sinônima. Eu até poderia adicionar mais um ingrediente a essa salada se eu fosse falar de regionalismo, ou seja, “BOY” poderia, nesse caso, ser “Vixi!”, “Rapaz!”, “Caraca!”, “Meu!”, “Bah!”, “Eita!”, dependendo, é lógico, da região do Brasil em que você se encontra. Mas regionalismo fica para outro post.

Se a tese é válida até mesmo para palavras elementares como “LOVE”, “HOUSE” e “BOY”, o que dizer então de “POWER”? Como traduzir “POWER BOAT”, “POWER DRILL”, “POWER OF ATTORNEY”, “POWER STEERING” e “POWER SUPPLY” só com uma palavra em português? Simplesmente não dá. Há ainda “BREAKTHROUGH”, “EMPOWERMENT”, “TAKE FOR GRANTED”, entre muitas outras expressões que acabam gerando dificuldades quando são transpostas para o nosso idioma. Acontece que todas, invariavelmente, têm tradução! Clique nos links para conferir as soluções dadas por Isa Mara Lando, em seu excelente VocabuLando, ferramenta indispensável para quem leva a sério o estudo de inglês e a tradução. Infelizmente, não é sempre a mesma palavra, como acreditam alguns. As traduções serão feitas cada hora de um jeito, cada hora com uma solução diferente.

Espero que você tenha compreendido que os idiomas não são códigos que possuem símbolos análogos que podem ser simplesmente substituídos uns pelos outros. Se fosse assim, os softwares de tradução automática já teriam dado aos tradutores de carne e osso o mesmo destino que a calculadora deu ao ábaco. Em suma, estudar inglês é muito mais do que criar uma tabela de duas colunas no Word!

Lembre-se, portanto, das próximas vezes que perguntar o significado de palavra ou expressão no “Fórum Tecla SAP“, de dizer em que contexto você a ouviu/leu ou em que situação gostaria de empregá-la. Faça o mesmo na hora de guardar os significados de palavras e expressões novas no seu banco de dados mental.

Se até a matemática, uma ciência exata, tem um símbolo para indicar aproximações (aquele sinal de igual com o til em cima, lembra?), é loucura imaginar que as línguas, maleáveis por natureza, são precisas e estáticas. Mas são justamente a aparente incoerência e a constante imprevisibilidade suas características mais encantadoras. Qual seria a graça de somar 2 + 2 se o resultado sempre fosse 4?

segunda-feira, 3 de maio de 2010

Your CV or Resume In English

When you apply for a job, employers ask for two important documents:

1.A CV or resume
2.A covering letter
This month we look at your CV. Next month we will look at your covering letter.

Why you need a good CV
Your CV is a summary of your professional and academic life. It usually concentrates on your personal details, education and work experience.

Your CV's job is very simple: to get you a job interview. To do this, your CV must be:

•easy to read
•relevant to the job offered
You should include everything that is relevant to your employment or career and nothing that is irrelevant. There are usually 5 general headings of information to include:

a.Personal details: name, address, email and telephone number (and sometimes nationality, age/date of birth and marital status)
b.Objective: a headline that summarises the job you want
c.Work experience: your employment in reverse chronological order
d.Education: details of secondary and university education
e.Personal interests: showing that you are a well-balanced person with an interesting life outside work
Sometimes, you may need to give additional information for a particular job or because you have special qualifications.

In the English-speaking world your CV should be word-processed, for several reasons:

•a hand-written CV is unprofessional
•some recruitment agencies and employers like to scan CVs electronically
•it will be easier for you to update and modify your CV later
It is usually best to limit your CV to a maximum of 2 pages. You can usually put everything you need on 1 or 2 pages.


There are basically 2 standard paper sizes, depending on your part of the world:

•A4 (297 x 210 millimetres) - as used in Europe
•Letter Size (8 1/2 x 11 inches) - as used in the United States
Your language should be simple and clear.

Use short words and short sentences.

Do not use technical vocabulary (unless you are sure that the reader will understand it).

Talk about concrete facts ("I increased sales by 50%"), not abstract ideas ("I was responsible for a considerable improvement in our market position").

Use verbs in the active voice, not passive voice. Which of these two sentences do you think is the more powerful?

•active: "I organised this exhibition."
•passive: "This exhibition was organised by me."
Use "power words". The most powerful words are verbs. And the most powerful verbs are action verbs. (Action verbs describe dynamic activity, not state).

Here, for example, are some typical power words for Management and Sales skills:

•Management skills: assign, attain, chair, co-ordinate, delegate, direct, execute, organise, oversee, plan, recommend, review, strengthen, supervise, train
•Sales skills: sell, convert, close, deal, persuade, highlight, satisfy, win over, sign
So you should use lots of action verbs matched to your skills, and use them in the active form, not the passive form.


quinta-feira, 29 de abril de 2010


By Josef Essberger

KWIM? I thought not.

For e-English read "electronic English" and for IYKWIM read "if you know what I mean".

And for KWIM? Yes, that's right. You'll have to FIOFY.

The internet has created a whole new way of speaking when we write email, post messages or chat online.

It saves time and typing effort, but it's no joke if you don't know the "secret". So just to help you if you're not already a netspeak expert, here are a few of the basic rules and codes people use on the internet.

Remember, these are for use on the internet with friends. We do not usually use them in formal letters or faxes.

If we want to emphasise a word (make it more important), we often use asterisks (*), like this:

"I *love*"

Sometimes people use capitals to add emphasis but it is not a good idea. MOST PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE A LOT OF CAPITALS. THEY LOOK RUDE AND CAN BE DIFFICULT TO READ.

If we want to express our feelings and emotions, we can use "smileys". A smiley is a combination of symbols that looks like a face sideways. The original, basic smiley (eyes, nose and smiling mouth) is very popular and shows that we are happy:


We can also do this with eyes and mouth only:


Of course, if we are unhappy, we can change the mouth: :-(

There are many possibilities. Here are a few more:

•;-) wink
•:*) kiss
•:~) tears
To save time when typing (and maybe to save money if you are online), people often abbreviate commonly-used phrases. There are hundreds of possibilities and you certainly do not need all of them!

Some of these codes are just the first letter of each word, for example:

imo = in my opinion

Some of these codes use the sound of the letter to represent the sound of a word. For example, the letter "c" sounds like the word "sea" or "see":

cu = see you

Some of these codes use numbers because the sound of the number is the same as the sound of another word (not the spelling!). For example, 4 (four) sounds like "for". And 8 (eight) sounds like "ate". So if we write L8 we get "late". If we write W8 we get "wait"!

Here are some more examples:

•aamof = as a matter of fact
•asap = as soon as possible
•b4 = before
•b4n = bye for now
•cul8er = see you later
•damhik = don't ask me how I know
•eta = estimated time of arrival
•f2f = face to face
•gf = girlfriend
•gmt = Greenwich Mean Time
•hth = hope this helps
•icbw = I could be wrong
•jam = just a minute
•k = okay
•lmk = let me know
•mcibty = my computer is better than yours
•oic = oh I see
•pls = please
•plz = please
•q = queue
•rumf = are you male or female?
•sil = sister-in-law
•tia = thanks in advance
•uok = you ok?
•vr = virtual reality
•wdymbt = what do you mean by that?
•y2k = year 2000
© 1999 Josef Essberger


quarta-feira, 28 de abril de 2010

Gordon Brown calls Labour supporter a 'bigoted woman'

Microphone picks up comments by prime minister about Labour supporter
Gillian Duffy, who had challenged him over the economy

By Polly Curtis

Source:, Wednesday 28 April 2010 13.23

Gordon Brown's election campaign was thrown into turmoil today after he was caught on mic calling a Labour supporter who had challenged him over the economy a "bigoted woman".

Gillian Duffy, 65, heckled the prime minister as he was interviewed live on TV about Labour's plans to cut the deficit, repeatedly challenging him to say he would tackle the debt. Brown ignored her intervention but was then asked by senior aides in his entourage to meet her.

After a few minutes of exchanges she told reporters that Brown was a "very nice man" and that she had voted Labour all her life and intended to do so again next week. But as he got in his car, he was still wired up to a Sky News mic which picked up comments he then made rebuking his advisers.

He said: "That was a disaster – they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? Ridiculous."

Asked what she had said, he replied: "Everything, she was just a bigoted woman."

During their exchange she questioned him on pensions, the deficit and tuition fees. At one point she mentioned eastern Europeans in this country but did not develop her argument.

On learning of his unguarded comments Duffy said she was "very annoyed".

She said: "I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet but if that's what he said I'm very upset. I'm very annoyed."

Brown later told the Jeremy Vine programme: "I apologise if I have said anything like that. What I think she was raising with me was an issue about immigration and that there were too many people from eastern Europe. I apologise profusely to the lady concerned I don't think she is that. It was the view I objected to."

Before being told of Brown's comments Duffy had said she would still be voting Labour. She told Sky News she confronted him over the national debt and immigration and that the prime minister had seemed "understanding" and responded "pretty well".

But after hearing of his reported comments she said she was "very annoyed" and would not be voting for Labour. "I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet but if that's what he said I'm very upset," she said.

The shadow chancellor, George Osborne, said the comments "speak for themselves and the prime minister's got a lot of explaining to do".

terça-feira, 27 de abril de 2010

"Ghoti" = "Fish"

By Josef Essberger

Some languages are "phonetic". That means that you can look at a word and know how to say it. English is not phonetic. You cannot always look at an English word and know how to say it. You cannot always hear an English word and know how to spell it.

George Bernard Shaw (GBS) was a famous Irish writer. He wanted to reform English spelling so that it was more logical. He asked the following question as an example:

How do we pronounce the word "ghoti"?

His answer was "fish".

How can "ghoti" and "fish" sound the same? GBS explained it like this:

•the gh = f as in rouGH
•the o = i as in wOmen
•the ti = sh as in naTIon
Of course, this was a joke. The word "ghoti" is not even a real word. But it showed the inconsistency of English spelling.

It is very important to understand that English spelling and English pronunciation are not always the same.

Same spelling - different sound
Do not place too much importance on the spelling of a word. The more important thing in understanding English is the sound.

Here are five words that end in "ough". In each word, the "ough" has a different pronunciation:

•bough rhymes with cow
•cough rhymes with off
•rough rhymes with puff
•though rhymes with Jo
•through rhymes with too
Many words have exactly the same spelling but are pronounced differently when the meaning is different. These words are called "homographs". Here are some examples:

•bow (noun: front of ship) rhymes with cow
•bow (noun: fancy knot) rhymes with go

•lead (verb: to guide) rhymes with feed
•lead (noun: metal) rhymes with fed

•wind (noun: airflow) rhymes with pinned
•wind (verb: to turn) rhymes with find
Different spelling - same sound
Many words have different spellings but are pronounced exactly the same. These words are called "homophones". Here are some examples:

•sea, see
•for, four
•hear, here
•one, won
•knight, night
•him, hymn
•to, too, two
What can we learn from all this? We can learn that the sound of a word is more important than the spelling.

Of course, it is good to spell correctly. But to help you understand spoken English and many rules of English, you should think first about the sound of the words. Do not worry too much at first about the spelling.

Take, for example, the rule about pronouncing the past simple "-ed" ending of regular verbs. You have probably learned that when a verb ends in "d" or "t", we add "-ed" and pronounce it /Id/ as an extra syllable.

wanT wantED
So why do we have:

divide dividED
"Divide" does not end in "d". It ends in "e". But it does end in a /d/ sound. With this rule, it is the sound at the end of a word that matters, not the letter. You must think about the spoken word, not the written word.

This is only one example of the importance of sounds in English. There are many more examples!

© 1999 Josef Essberger


segunda-feira, 26 de abril de 2010

Conversation in heaven

Abd Mubarak was on his way to Mecca when one night he dreamed that he was in heaven and heard two angels having a conversation.

“How many pilgrims came to the holy city this year?” one of them asked.

“Six hundred thousand”, answered the other.

“And how many of them had their pilgrimage accepted?”

“None of them. However, in Baghdad there is a shoemaker called Ali Mufiq who did not make the pilgrimage, but did have his pilgrimage accepted, and his graces benefited the 600,000 pilgrims”.

When he woke up, Abd Mubarak went to Mufiq’s shoe shop and told him his dream.

“At great cost and much sacrifice, I finally managed to get 350 coins together”, the shoemaker said in tears. “But then, when I was ready to go to Mecca I discovered that my neighbors were hungry, so I distributed the money among them and gave up my pilgrimage”.

quinta-feira, 22 de abril de 2010

Happy Administrative Assistants day!‏

An Administrative Professional
By Todd Hunt

She’s first one in and last to leave,
her mark is everywhere.
But like a watchful angel,
we seldom know she’s there.

She guards the gate, protects the boss
and schedules meetings too.
Those binders for this afternoon?
All set in Board Room 2.

Mind reading is among her skills,
and putting fires out.
She juggles tasks and jumps through hoops,
yet never one to pout.

Three hands, you see, she does possess,
and intellect well bred.
Plus humor, tact, diplomacy
and eyes behind her head.

Computer tech and referee,
yes, party planner too.
Committee head, Excel sheet queen—
there’s nothing she can’t do.

We’ve use the female pronoun, true,
throughout this love decree.
But sometimes (though it’s still quite rare),
that admin pro’s a he!


Since 1952, the International Association of Administrative Professionals has honored office workers by sponsoring Administrative Professionals Week. Today, it is one of the largest workplace observances outside of employee birthdays and major holidays.

In the year 2000, IAAP announced a name change for Professional Secretaries Week and Professional Secretaries Day. The names were changed to Administrative Professionals Week and Administrative Professionals Day to keep pace with changing job titles and expanding responsibilities of today’s administrative workforce.

Over the years, Administrative Professionals Week has become one of the largest workplace observances. The event is celebrated worldwide, bringing together millions of people for community events, educational seminars and individual corporate activities recognizing support staff.

Today, there are more than 4.1 million secretaries and administrative assistants working in the United States, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, and 8.9 million people working in various administrative support roles. More than 475,000 administrative professionals are employed in Canada. Millions more administrative professionals work in offices all over the world.

APW is always the last full week in April. In 2010, Administrative Professionals Week is April 18-24 with Administrative Professionals Day on Wednesday, April 21.

quarta-feira, 21 de abril de 2010


A tourism concept film made for Kenya that we put together out of our archive. Uncommissioned-mainly for fun and for the love of our country!

What's IN a Preposition?

What's IN a Preposition?
Josef Essberger

Prepositions can be divided into:

•one-word prepositions (eg at, into, on)
•complex prepositions (eg according to, in spite of)
The name "preposition" (pre + position) means "place before". Prepositions usually come *before* another word, usually a noun or noun phrase:

•noun (I will meet you IN *London*.)
•pronoun (Give it TO *her*.)
•noun phrase (I'm tired OF *all this work*.)
•gerund (verb in -ing form) (It crashed ON *landing*.)
If a preposition does not come before another word, it is still closely associated with another word:

•*Who* did you talk TO?
•TO *whom* did you talk?
•I talked TO *Jane*.
Notice that many prepositions can also be adverbs:

•He walked DOWN the hill. (preposition)
•Please sit DOWN. (adverb)
A few prepositions can also be conjunctions:

•Everyone came BUT Tara. (preposition)
•I asked her BUT she didn't answer. (conjunction)


How many prepositions are there in English? It is not possible to give a definite answer, partly because complex prepositions are "open class", which means that new ones could be invented at any time. But for a list of almost all the one-word and complex prepositions in common use, see English Prepositions Listed which includes 370 example sentences.


Many words are associated with a particular preposition. When you learn a new word, try to learn the preposition associated with it. A good dictionary usually gives you examples.

Here are some common verbs that are associated with a particular preposition:

•to agree WITH somebody
•to agree ABOUT a subject
•to agree ON a decision
•to agree TO a proposal
•to arrive AT/IN a place
•to ask FOR something (but to ask a question/the time/directions etc)
•to borrow something FROM somebody
•to depend ON somebody/something
•to explain something TO somebody
•to insist ON -ing
•to laugh AT somebody/something
•to listen TO somebody/something
•to participate IN something
•to pay FOR something
•to be rude TO somebody
•to shoot AT somebody/something
•to smile AT somebody
•to succeed IN something
•to talk TO somebody
•to talk WITH somebody (US)
•to worry ABOUT something
•to write TO somebody
Here are a few common expressions with particular prepositions:

•to be afraid OF somebody/something
•to be angry WITH somebody
•to be angry ABOUT something
•to be bad AT something
•to be clever AT something
•to be good AT something
•to be interested IN something
•to be kind TO somebody
•to be nice TO somebody
© 2001 Josef Essberger


Poolside Interview

Meet the creator of Grammarman, the world's first and only grammar superhero
Josef Essberger of interviews Brian Boyd

Josef: Grammarman has to be one of the most imaginative ideas I've seen in the learning or teaching English field. And the whole concept seems to be very well executed. But before we talk about Grammarman in detail, can you tell me a little about yourself?

Brian: Right now I'm teaching English with the British Council here in Thailand, but my background is British. I was doing a degree in Education at Goldsmith's College in London, specializing in design and technology with computers, and I got involved with a publisher of educational materials...with the result that I ended up working for a time on educational computer games and books for children, all built around fantasy lands and characters, and involving interactive puzzles and quizzes. My job title was "multiple media designer". But even as a child I was always drawing cartoons and comic characters. I used to photocopy and sell them sometimes, you know, the way children do. I had no idea then that one day Grammarman would be born!

Josef: So who or what exactly is Grammarman?

Brian: I like to describe Grammarman as "the world's first and only grammar superhero". He's a comic-strip character in the style of Superman or Batman. Essentially, Grammarman is a hero who belongs to a distant group of beings called the Librarians. The Librarians live at the end of time in a city suspended in Space at the end of the Universe. They're a peace-loving people devoted to the English language and they live surrounded by endless shelves of books and reference works. The Librarians sent Grammarman to Earth as a baby to take care of the English language and defend Earth from the enemies of grammar. On Earth, Grammarman lives in Verbo City. He has the ability to detect errors. He's also the world's greatest reader and can sometimes read thoughts.

Josef: And what about Alpha-bot and Syntax? Who are they?

Brian: Grammarman can't possibly defend the Earth against grammar crimes all alone! So he's helped in his mission by two other heroes. Alpha-bot is one. He's the world's smartest android. There's nothing about grammar that Alpha-bot doesn't know, and his brain works at speeds we can only imagine. The other hero, Syntax, is an unusual visitor from a distant galaxy. He originally came to Earth to learn English, but decided to stay and help Grammarman in the fight against crime.

Josef: And villains? Who are the bad guys?

Brian: Of course, there are more villains than heroes. The Article Ants steal articles like "a" or "the". Anna Gramme is a mixed-up lady who scrambles words, but she's no match for Grammarman's superior brainpower. Then there's The Interrupter. He doesn't actually break the law but he's a real pain in the neck. Another is Uncle Uncountable who likes to use uncountable nouns in his crimes against his archenemy Grammarman. And Sammy Colon uses bad punctuation to cause confusion at the scene of a crime. There are more of course, because the battle against grammar crime is endless.

Josef: What was the idea behind Grammarman? How did it come to you?

Brian: It all started when I was having a drink with my good friend Thom Kiddle. We were talking about how Thai students love reading comics. I mean, even in class I'll sometimes find a student secretly reading some Manga comic! They read them everywhere, and at all ages. And we were thinking--if only they loved to read English comics. How about a superhero that teaches English? And really I have to thank Thom. He knew about my background in illustration and educational games and he really urged me on. And in fact he still helps tremendously, with ideas and advice. Although he's no longer in Thailand, we're always in touch by email, coming up with new exploits for Grammarman.

Josef: How do students learn with Grammarman?

Brian: Each episode of the comic works on two levels. Students can read the comic once, just for enjoyment...then each episode ends with a grammar puzzle. The reader is encouraged to read the story again looking for clues and answers. The solution to the problem is included at the bottom of each comic.

Josef: Who is Grammarman's target audience?

Brian: Really I'd say that anyone learning English could enjoy Grammarman. The language may be a little too much for very young readers, but that can be good because it stretches them. And even though it's a comic, adults love comic characters. In general, I'd say pre-intermediate and above.

Josef: Where and when does Grammarman appear?

Brian: I have a website that carries the early episodes of Grammarman. And then all the latest episodes of Grammarman are syndicated to newspapers and magazines around the world. They usually publish Grammarman once a month, though it's up to their schedule. Publications like The New Straits Times in Malaysia or The Buenos Aires Herald in Argentina.

Josef: Who or what inspires you?

Brian: It's mostly the comics that I read when I was eight years old and upward. Since then I've always enjoyed reading comics. Because of the nature of Grammarman it can't really work as a serious comic story. It tends to spoof and make reference to those comics of the 40's and 50's when it was all a lot more innocent. Nowadays comics have matured, they're more violent, more for an adult audience, but back in their heyday they were much more colourful and larger than life. Children would happily believe things like alien invasions. Nowadays Batman is very sort of dark and gritty, but back then he had a utility belt and he could always pull out all kinds of ridiculous stuff - like a fish&whatever he needed happened to be in that utility belt. So Grammarman's more like that. It sort of harks back to the comics when they were more innocent. And then another influence would be the huge amount of movies, the TV shows I've watched over the years. You can draw on all of that, when you're trying to come up with a story to fit a grammar point. It's just a wealth of stuff that you can use to your own ends.

Josef: What else do you have on your website?

Brian: The website started really as a showcase for the Grammarman comic. Apart from the early episodes of Grammarman, there are mini-biographies of each of the heroes and the villains. There's also some free clipart so students can download images of Grammarman, Alpha-bot etc and create their own stories. I extended the concept with more fun material such as interactive games, a downloadable maze book, reading resources, joke-of-the-day and puzzles. And then there's the student comics gallery. It's very creative what some of these young students have come up with.

Josef: I was very impressed by the audio. It sounds great, and very funny. How did you do that?

Brian: All the Grammarman episodes on the website have audio so that a student can read them and listen to the characters at the same time. I was able to do that because a friend of mine is a sound engineer. The sound is thanks to him really, and six or seven friends who helped out with their voices. The robot voice is me. I had to speak in a dead flat voice then my sound engineer friend made it sound electronic. He used his sound library to add lots of effects like explosions, cars screeching to a halt, audiences applauding and so on.

Josef: How do you get new ideas for each episode?

Brian: There are two approaches basically. One is to look through grammar books for a point to work on, and then think of a story to illustrate the point. And two, think of an adventure for Grammarman and then find a grammar point that would fit.

Josef: How do you actually produce Grammarman? I mean, who does the artwork and who looks after the website? How long does each episode take you?

Brian: Basically, I do the artwork alone, though Thom's a massive help with the ideas. Normally it takes about a week to produce one episode. It starts with scribbled notes for the ideas, then rough pencil sketches with the characters as stickmen, mainly to check that the text can fit the space. Then I draw outlines for each frame in blue pencil on A3 paper. Blue because it isn't picked up by the scanner later on, so those drawings can still be quite loose. It gives me freedom to make sure the images are how I want them before committing anything to a finished drawing. The next step is to go over the blue outlines more carefully in black ink. After that, I scan the drawing into the computer and use a graphics program to tidy up the black line-work further. Then, still in the computer, add colour, shading and shadow to give a more 3D effect. The next step is to add the text balloons and the text inside them. And finally the title bar finishes it all off. Another friend of mine has been a great help with the website, though I'm learning how to take care of that more and more.

Josef: What feedback have you had? All positive? Any negative?

Brian: Mostly good. Very good really. Most of the emails I get say things like great idea, my students say it's fun. Teachers often write to say they've use Grammarman in class. It's a great thrill to get feedback from around the world from people I've never met and who are enjoying my jokes and stories. But I'm also pretty sensitive, so I cringe a bit when I get the occasional negative comment. I also have to be on the lookout for any real grammar mistakes because some people would be only too happy to point out errors. Fortunately I've got Grammarman to help me.

Josef: What plans do you have for the future?

Brian: Lots! Based on the current episodes of Grammarman I have plans for a collected volume, probably in book and, hopefully, CD form with audio. And then I'm also working on a Grammarman board game and Grammarman card game. I think they will be fun. When I have more time I'd like to find someone willing to produce a Grammarman computer game and some animated cartoons. And another idea is a Grammarman Fun Book on "fun" English, you know, quirky things like silent letters and palindromes&

To find out more about Grammarman visit:


sexta-feira, 2 de abril de 2010

Welcome to a Celebration of Easter

Easter is the springtime holiday marking the rebirth of Jesus and the renewal of the Christian faith.

It is a blessed time for the faithful to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of the Savior... and a magical time for children to enjoy chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks and jellybean-filled Easter eggs.

Did You Know?
Facts & Figures About the Holiday of Easter

Did you know that religion historians believe that the holiday of Easter originated with the pagan festival of Eastre, a Saxon celebration of spring and fertility? The April holiday included a number of the same springtime rituals and symbols that today feature in Christianity's celebration of Easter. Included among these are the rabbit and the egg, both ancient Pagan symbols of fertility.

Did you know that thousands of Christian pilgrims converge on Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Holy Week of Easter? On Palm Sunday, pilgrims march through the Holy City, waving palm branches and retracing the steps of Jesus as he made his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. Then, five days later, pilgrims walk solemnly along the fourteen Stations of the Cross, reenacting Jesus' procession toward his crucifixion.

Did you know that Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of painting ashes on the forehead as a sign of repentance? The movable holiday, which falls anytime between February 4 and March 10, is the first day of the Lenten Period. The ashes are saved from the burning of the previous year's Palm Sunday palm branches.

Did you know that in Russia, Easter eggs are dyed on Holy Thursday? The traditional method involves boiling the eggs in a mixture of onion peels and silk scraps. Russian Easter eggs are thoughts to possess magic powers, including bringing prosperity and warding off evil spirits.

Did you know that in Greece, children and adults alike play an egg cracking game called tsougrisma on Easter? Players attempt to crack their eggs against their friend's egg; the last person with an un-cracked egg is considered the lucky one. The Greeks traditionally dye their eggs red, symbolizing the blood and passion of Christ.

Did you know that Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon of the vernal equinox? In Western churches, this can occur any Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th. In Orthodox Churches, Easter falls a bit later -- between the beginning of April and the beginning of May. The difference in dates is due to varying calculations of when the vernal equinox takes place. In 2009, Easter will be celebrated on Sunday April 12; Orthodox Easter will be celebrated on April 19.

Did you know that the trumpet shape of the Easter Lily is considered symbolic of the heralding of Jesus on his triumphant entry into Jerusalem? Biblical scholars also tell us that lilies may have grown in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Judas betrayed Jesus.

Did you know that 95 percent of the world's Easter Lilies are produced by just ten growers along the California-Oregon border? Known as the Easter Lily Capital of the World, this area sees more than 15 million lily bulbs planted each year to meet the Easter demand.

Did you now that Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday in many Orthodox churches? Palm Sunday celebrates the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem, commemorated in many churches by processionals of parishioners who hold palm leaves tied to crosses. The Orthodox church view this as a solemn day of reflection since it portents Jesus' death just five days later. The term passion is used in Christian parlance to refer to the suffering of Jesus on the Cross.

Did you know that in many Catholic churches, Good Friday services begin at precisely 3 o'clock? This is the time that Jesus is believed to have died on the Cross. Good Friday is a solemn day of prayer, repentance and, in some churches, fasting in commemoration of Jesus' death. Catholics, Greek and Russian Orthodox, and many Protestants celebrate Good Friday.

Did you know that Americans eat more candy at Easter than at any other holiday besides Halloween? An average of seven billion pounds of candy is consumed over Easter weekend. Sales of Easter candy top nearly $2 billion; in contrast, just over $1 billion of candy is sold for Valentine's Day.

Did you know that the most popular Easter confection is Marshmallow Peeps? More than 700 million of these chick, bunny and egg-shaped marshmallows are purchased every year. A meager 90 million chocolate bunnies are consumed. At peak production, over four million Marshmallow Peeps can be made each day.

Did you know that eating Easter candy is a relatively modern tradition? The first chocolate eggs, for example, were made in Europe in the 1800s. And Marshmallow Peeps, produced by the Russian-born U.S. confectioner Sam Born, didn't get their start until the 1950s in the United States.

Did you know that the most popular treat to hide inside an Easter egg is jellybeans? Americans consume more than 16 billion of them at Easter -- enough to circle the circumference of the globe three times!

Did you know that over one billion Easter eggs are hunted every year in America? The most popular (or at least the most televised) Easter egg hunt is the one held at the White House. President Hayes hosted the first White House egg hunt in 1878, launching a tradition that has continued to this day. President and First Lady Obama will sponsor their first Easter egg hunt on April 13, 2009. The event -- themed as "Let's Go Play" -- is intended to encourage America's youngsters to lead active, healthy lives. Tickets can be downloaded from the White House website beginning Thursday, March 26, 2009.

Did you know that ham is the most commonly served meat at Easter dinners in America? The tradition has its roots in Northern Europe, where, in the days before refrigeration, hogs were slaughtered in the fall. They were then cured for seven months � and ready to eat just in time for Easter. If you aren't a fan of the other white meat, turkey and lamb are also popular choices for Easter dinner.

quinta-feira, 1 de abril de 2010


The uncertain origins of a foolish day
by David Johnson and Shmuel Ross

April Fools' Day, sometimes called All Fools' Day, is one of the most light-hearted days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

New Year's Day Moves
Ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on or around April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.) In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year's day to Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.

Problems With This Explanation
There are at least two difficulties with this explanation. The first is that it doesn't fully account for the spread of April Fools' Day to other European countries. The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England until 1752, for example, but April Fools' Day was already well established there by that point. The second is that we have no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture, and that conjecture appears to have been made more recently.

Constantine and Kugel
Another explanation of the origins of April Fools' Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

"In a way," explained Prof. Boskin, "it was a very serious day. In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor."

This explanation was brought to the public's attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they'd been victims of an April Fools' joke themselves.
Spring Fever
It is worth noting that many different cultures have had days of foolishness around the start of April, give or take a couple of weeks. The Romans had a festival named Hilaria on March 25, rejoicing in the resurrection of Attis. The Hindu calendar has Holi, and the Jewish calendar has Purim. Perhaps there's something about the time of year, with its turn from winter to spring, that lends itself to lighthearted celebrations.

Observances Around the World
April Fools' Day is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include sending someone on a "fool's errand," looking for things that don't exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.

The French call April 1 Poisson d'Avril, or "April Fish." French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying "Poisson d'Avril" when the prank is discovered.

Humor: It’s great being a woman because…

14It’s great being a woman because…

1.We got off the Titanic first.
2.We can scare male bosses with the mysterious gynaecological disorder excuses.
3.Taxis stop for us.
4.We don’t look like a frog in a blender when dancing.
5.No fashion faux pas we make, could ever rival the Speedo.
6.We don’t have to pass gas to amuse ourselves.
7.If we forget to shave, no one has to know.
8.We can congratulate our team-mate without ever touching her rear end.
9.We never have to reach down every so often to make sure our privates are still there.
10.We have the ability to dress ourselves.
11.We can talk to the opposite sex without having to picture them naked.
12.If we marry someone 20 years younger, we are aware that we will look like an idiot.
13.We will never regret piercing our ears.
14.There are times when chocolate really can solve all your problems.
15.We can make comments about how silly men are in their presence because they aren’t listening anyway.


sábado, 27 de março de 2010


I have just watched Cats - The Musical!!!

I strongly recommend, if you are keen on musical.

CATS - Jellicle Songs For Jellicle Cats

Are you blind when you're born? Can you see in the dark?
Dare you look at a king? Would you sit on his throne?
Can you say of your bite that it's worse than your bark?
Are you cock of the walk when you're walking alone?

Because jellicles are and jellicles do
Jellicles do and jellicles would
Jellicles would and jellicles can
Jellicles can and jellicles do

When you fall on your head, do you land on your feet?
Are you tense when you sense there's a storm in the air?
Can you find your way blind when you're lost in the street?
Do you know how to go to the heaviside layer?
Because jellicles can and jellicles do

Jellicles do and jellicles can
Jellicles can and jellicles do
Jellicles do and jellicles can
Jellicles can and jellicles do

Can you ride on a broomstick to places far distant?
Familiar with candle, with book, and with bell?
Were you Whittington's friend? The Pied Piper's assistant?
Have you been an alumnus of heaven and hell?

Are you mean like a minx? Are you lean like a lynx?
Are you keen to be seen when you're smelling a rat?
Were you there when the pharaoh commissioned the Sphinx?
If you were, and you are, you're a jellicle cat

Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats

We can dive through the air like a flying trapeze
We can turn double somersaults, bounce on a tire
We can run up a wall, we can swing through the trees
We can balance on bars, we can walk on a wire

Jellicles can and jellicles do
Jellicles can and jellicles do
Jellicles can and jellicles do
Jellicles can and jellicles do
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats

Can you sing at the same time in more than one key?
Duets by Rossini and waltzes by Strauss?
And can you (as cats do) begin with a 'C'?
That always triumphantly brings down the house?

Jellicle cats are queen of the nights
Singing at astronomical heights
Handling pieces from the 'Messiah'
Hallelujah, angelical Choir

The mystical divinity of unashamed felinity
Round the cathedral rang 'Vivat'
Life to the everlasting cat!

Feline, fearless, faithful and true
To others who do-what

Jellicles do and jellicles can
Jellicles can and jellicles do
Jellicle cats sing jellicle chants
Jellicles old and jellicles new
Jellicle song and jellicle dance
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats

Practical cats, dramatical cats
Pragmatical cats, fanatical cats
Oratorical cats, Delphicoracle cats
Skeptical cats, Dispeptical cats
Romantical cats, Pedantical cats
Critical cats, parasitical cats
Allegorical cats, metaphorical cats
Statistical cats and mystical cats
Political cats, hypocritical cats
Clerical cats, hysterical cats
Cynical cats, rabbinical cats

Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats

But the cats are not alone. Humans (the audience) are present
in the cats' private world. The cats are at first reluctant and
suspicious to include others in their domain.

There's a man over there with a look of surprise
As much as to say well now how about that?
Do I actually see with my own very eyes
A man who's not heard of a jellicle cat?

What's a jellicle cat?

ALL (Echoing):
What's a jellicle cat?

sexta-feira, 26 de março de 2010

Earth Hour

Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature, also known as World Wildlife Fund) and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

Earth hour was conceived by WWF and The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights.

Following Sydney's lead, many other cities around the world adopted the event in 2008. Earth Hour 2010 will take place on March 27, 2010 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., local time.

Earth Hour 2009 was from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time, March 28, 2009. 88 countries and 4,088 cities participated in Earth Hour 2009, ten times more cities than Earth Hour 2008 had (2008 saw 400 cities participate). One billion "votes" was the stated aim for Earth Hour 2009, in the context of the pivotal 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Among the participants in 2009 was, for the first time, the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The U.N. conservatively estimates that its participation will save $102 in energy.

Reports show that the United States topped the Earth Hour participation with an estimated 80,000,000 people, 318 cities and 8 states participating. The Philippines saw participation from 647 cities and towns or over 15 million Filipinos were estimated to have joined in the hour-long lights-off at 8:30 - 9:30 PM local time. This was followed by Greece with 484 cities and towns participating, and Australia with 309.

The Canadian province of Ontario, excluding the city of Toronto, saw a decrease of 6% of electricity while Toronto saw a decrease of 15.1% (nearly doubled from 8.7% the previous year) as many businesses darkened, including the landmark CN Tower.

Swedish electricity operator Svenska Kraftnät recorded 2.1% decrease in power consumption from its projected figure between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. The following hour, the corresponding number was 5%. This equals the consumption of approximately half a million households out of the total 4.5 million households in Sweden.

According to Vietnam Electricity Company, Vietnam electricity demand fell 140,000 kWh during Earth Hour.

The Philippines was able to save 611 MWh of electricity during the time period, and is said to be equivalent to shutting down a dozen coal-fired power plants for an hour.


quarta-feira, 24 de março de 2010


Marie Arana reviews 'Dreams in a Time of War' by Ngugi wa Thiong'o


A Childhood Memoir

By Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Pantheon. 272 pp. $24.95

Toward the end of his strikingly frank memoir, "Dreams From My Father," Barack Obama describes how his Kenyan grandfather came to marry his grandmother. A ruthless and demanding man, Hussein Onyango was so fussy about his hut that he rejected a number of wives because they weren't tidy enough, beating them to within an inch of their lives and sending them back to their fathers. The first one he decided to keep was orderly enough, but, as it turned out, she could bear no children. During a night of drinking and revelry in a Nairobi dance hall, his masculinity was so ridiculed that he was prompted to take another wife -- as was the country's custom. He had a beautiful young woman abducted, negotiated a dowry with her father and brought her to live under his roof. This was the president's grandmother, Akumu. Eventually, as "Dreams From My Father" tells it, Hussein Onyango brought yet a third wife into his hut, bestowing on Barack Obama Sr. an abundance of mothers. The pattern held into the next generation: Obama Sr., like his father, would also take three wives.

There is a startling similarity between that story and the one told in Ngugi wa Thiong'o's eye-opening memoir, "Dreams in a Time of War." Born in 1938, two years after Obama Sr. and a mere 100 miles away, Ngugi recounts a similarly harrowing childhood with a ruthlessly demanding father and four long-suffering mothers. Alongside 23 siblings, the boy grew up in the twilight of British colonialism, just as the bloody Mau Mau Rebellion threatened to swallow the country whole.

This is not the first time Ngugi -- a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine -- has written about the Mau Mau Rebellion. He did so most notably in his novels "Weep Not, Child" and "A Grain of Wheat." He has also given us a penetrating portrait of totalitarianism in "Wizard of the Crow," a richly imagined novel that was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize last year. Indeed, for the past half-century Ngugi has been a font of literary productivity, bringing Kenya's difficult history to life in no fewer than 18 books, including a prison journal scribbled on toilet paper. But the work he offers us here is like nothing that's gone before: It is the chronicle of a child's single-minded pursuit of an education.

In prose that never shouts, Ngugi tells how land that once belonged to Kenyans was virtually given away piecemeal to white ex-soldiers after World War I. Overnight, Africans became squatters on their own terrain. British suppression of their rights was brutally decisive. Africans were pressed into forced labor, driven to toil in their former fields. So it was that Ngugi, starting at age 6, along with his many brothers and sisters, worked the pyrethrum farms that were once his birthright.

Young Ngugi, however, proved to be bright beyond his years. His mother, alert to his abilities, offered to send him to school. She exacted a promise from him that if she were to invest her hard-won money in his education, he would do his best, never miss a day of school and never bring shame on her. He agreed. That pledge, undertaken when he was 9, would guide the boy to manhood.

This wasn't as easy as it sounds. It was 1947, Europe was recovering from another world war and, as Ngugi describes, African colonies had been squeezed to help finance the British war effort. There were food shortages, even famines. For a boy who was accustomed to covering himself with a simple length of cloth, a school uniform was a major investment. But the price Ngugi was made to pay was not merely financial: There were human costs as well. He began to feel ashamed to be seen with his own brother, who still dressed in the traditional garb -- naked under the wrap. He grew resentful of Kenya's strict social hierarchy, of the rich reverend's uppity wife.

That sense of shame became extreme when Ngugi's father, who had lost what little wealth he had, began to drink heavily and, eventually, take out his anger and frustration on his four wives. He became violent, particularly toward Ngugi's mother. One day he beat her so cruelly that she ran away, taking refuge in her father's house several villages away. A short while later Ngugi's father called Ngugi away from his games. "I want you to stop playing with my children," he told him. "Go, follow your mother."

Ironically, the boy's banishment marked the beginning of a harsh time for all Africa. Rumor had it that whites had a master plan to take control of the entire continent, from Cape to Cairo; that a Eugenics Society was "plotting to kill black babies at birth," sparing only the feeble-minded. With so much fear in the air, a revolutionary fervor mounted. Jomo Kenyatta became the president of the Kenya African Union, a grass-roots organization established to monitor British offenses. Within two years, the Mau Mau Society, a radical anti-colonial movement, was operating at full throttle, targeting British properties. The government declared a state of emergency. British officers were ordered to execute the most prominent political figures and comb the countryside for rebels. Those deemed suspicious were shuttled off to concentration camps. One of Ngugi's half brothers, "Good Wallace," joined the insurrection and headed for the hills.

But for all these references to the mounting chaos, Ngugi's memoir is not about the world adults had made. "Dreams in a Time of War" hews to the promise the boy made his mother. Young Ngugi carries on his studies, despite all possible adversity. He marches off to school, takes joy in his ability to read, memorizes poetry, sits at the front of every classroom. The picture of Kenya that he presents, in other words, is admirably free of cant or sentimentality, and yet it is enough to make you weep. Here is a child, against the backdrop of a terrible war -- traveling a bloodied land with pen and paper -- thinking a dream can forge a better world.

Marie Arana is a writer at large for The Washington Post.

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