Mapping Stereotypes

Alphadesigner extremely interesting web by Yanko Tsvetkov, freelance graphic designer and a visual artist from Bulgaria. Mapping Stereotypes Project is one of the projects conducted for him.

There is Europe and there is another Europe of stereotypes. Yanko Tsvetkov has mapped some of the stereotypes that have always pervaded the Old World. Tsevtkov’s aim was to describe how the citizens of world see other countries and what was an experiment is now a runaway success with more than half a billion visitors logging on to the artist’s Mapping Stereotypes website to view the charts.

Here are some of the maps, for the rest visit the web.

Europe according to the Greeks

L’europa Berlusconiana

Europe according to the Vatican

Hitchhiker's Guide to The Arab Spring



The Economist photo

I was living in Italy when Berlusconi was re-elected in the parliamentary elections of April 2008 following the collapse of Prodi’s government and became prime minister for a third time on 8 May 2008. I recall a conversation with my Italian friend right after the elections. She told me she voted for Berlusconi. “I better vote for him. I at least I know what to expect from him…” I was deeply dissapointed as I could see she wasn’t the only one from Italy’s young generation with such approach. I tried not to express my concern loudly with Italians, it would irritate them.  Who am I to teach and critise, they would say, when I have own “sins” in my homeland, who would argue indeed. Nevertheless…

… 3 years after this conversation, Berlusconi has resigned and Italy celebrates. I watch online stream from Rome, I follow twitter’s #Berlusconiada. Then I suddenly see this comment by #PeterFein and realize that his tweet has a strong connection with my 2008 disappointment. He writes:

It’s a bit sad for democracy that it took debt markets to remove scumbag #Berlusconi instead of Italian people.

Of course I am happy for all my Italian friends and I am sending my best regards. But I have developed this sort of self-censorship of not becoming too excited about the removal of certain political figures. “The opposition thinks it is time to uncork the prosecco” as Foreign Affairs puts it, “But it is not. Italy is far from fixed”.

I was about to leave Foreign Affairs’ web page when I suddenly noticed this article “Italy’s Malaise” about Italy’s crisis and transition challenges. Not knowing when was this peace published I started reading. Only then I saw that article was written in July 1976 by Guido Carli. 30 years later problems touched in 1976 article seem more then familiar. Unfortunately the whole article is not available, but even this excerpt is enough:

Italy is in the throes of that most difficult of predicaments, a state of transition. Transition to a more open and egalitarian society; transition to new economic and financial arrangements; transition to a more efficient administrative machinery; transition to greater participation in decisions concerning the place of work; transition to a more important role for women; transition to an expanded influence for parties of the Left. The transition is made all the more difficult by the fact that the hectic, unbalanced economic growth of the sixties, which made tolerable the (lower) pace of social change, has given way to the twin evils of stagnation and inflation. Attention abroad has been largely focused on the drift toward impotence of the government, the crumbling of established authority, the current economic and financial crisis, the turbulent division of society and the growing ungovernability of the country, and above all on the advance of a party calling itself communist, apparently the only one capable of filling the void, since the balance between the parties of the Left in Italy is different from that in other Western European countries as a strong Socialist party does not exist. But the wheels of history are turning fast not only in the political sphere but also in the economic field, and transformations in the latter are both cause and effect of the socio-political changes of the past decade.

As Foreign Affairs writes, when Berlusconi was in office, it was easy for the opposition to blame him for acquiescing to the powerful lobbies and for pampering business cronies, but with him gone, all Italians will have to face the truth. Indeed.

In Bocca al lupo, Italia!


New Greek Coin (I don't own this image)


In times of crisis humour is the best remedy. Enjoy amusing joke about EU (not mine) 🙂

European paradise: 
You are invited to an official lunch. You are welcomed by an Englishman. Food is prepared by a Frenchman and an Italian puts you in the mood and everything is organised by a German. 
European hell: 
You are invited to an official lunch. You are welcomed by a Frenchman. Food is prepared by an Englishman, German puts you in the mood but, don’t worry, everything is organised by an Italian. 
That joke was proposed by a Belgian as the Official European Joke, the joke that every single European pupil should learn at school. The Joke will improve the relationship between the nations as well as promote our self humour and our culture.
The European Council met in order to make a decision. Should the joke be the Official European Joke or not?
The British representative announced, with a very serious face and without moving his jaw, that the joke was absolutely hilarious.
The French one protested because France was depicted in a bad way in the joke. He explained that a joke cannot be funny if it is against France.
Poland also protested because they were not depicted in the joke.
Luxembourg asked who would hold the copyright on the joke. The Swedish representative didn’t say a word, but looked at everyone with a twisted smile.
Denmark asked where the explicit sexual reference was. If it is a joke, there should be one, shouldn’t there?
Holland didn’t get the joke, while Portugal didn’t understand what a “joke” was. Was it a new concept?
Spain explained that the joke is funny only if you know that the lunch was at 13h, which is normally breakfast time.
Greece complained that they were not aware of that lunch, that they missed an occasion to have some free food, that they were always forgotten.
 Romania then asked what a “lunch” was.
 Lithuania et Latvia complained that their translations were inverted, which is unacceptable even if it happens all the time.
 Slovenia told them that its own translation was completely forgotten and that they do not make a fuss.
 Slovakia announced that, unless the joke was about a little duck and a plumber, there was a mistake in their translation.
 The British representative said that the duck and plumber story seemed very funny too.
 Hungary had not finished reading the 120 pages of its own translation yet .
Then, the Belgian representative asked if the Belgian who proposed the joke was a Dutch speaking or a French speaking Belgian. Because, in one case, he would of course support a compatriot but, in the other case, he would have to refuse it, regardless of the quality of the joke.
 To close the meeting, the German representative announced that it was nice to have the debate here in Brussels but that, now, they all had to make the train to Strasbourg in order to take a decision. He asked that someone to wake up the Italian, so as not to miss the train, so they can come back to Brussels and announce the decision to the press before the end of the day .
 “What decision?” asked the Irish representative.
 And they all agreed it was time for some coffee.

The Elementary Particles of Love

Love by Elizabeth Chapman

by Diana Chachua

If you visit Amazon and write “love/science of love” in a search area, it will find you 8523 books on this topic. In a modern world full of love cynics, people are desperately trying to understand the essence of love in order to invent a defense medicine from this feeling.

1980s was the period scientists actively got interested with love issue. However love’s road towards laboratories wasn’t that smooth. No one was taking seriously an idea of researching matter like love. It was easy for scientists to imagine researching anger or fear, but not love.

Gathered in laboratories they first found out that in order to learn about anger and fear one had to observe pulse, breath frequency, squeeze of muscles and other reactions of this sort. But “catching” love seemed impossible as it was easy, they claimed, that symptoms for love could be mixed up with symptoms of bad digestion or even maniacal attack.

Elaine Hatfield, author of “Love, sex, and intimacy:  Their psychology, biology, and history”, in her interview for Human Behavior and Evolution Society recalls that while studying at Stanford academics were trying to persuade her to change a topic of research as they thought it would end her academic career.

Continue reading

Now, Kill His Dream!

It took me few days to finish my article about Osama’s death for Liberali Magazine. After I handed it I couldn’t stop thinking if I covered the issue correctly, objectively and with the right message. My editor was content. Then I found this cover and realized that The Economist put my whole article in one brilliant phrase: “Now, Kill His Dream!” Indeed, do it, mister!

Burst of Joy

38 years ago the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph ‘Burst of Joy’ was taken by Associated Press photographer Slava “Sal” Veder, depicting a former prisoner of war being reunited with his family. The photograph came to symbolize the end of United States involvement in the Vietnam War.

EU to appoint high-level truth-teller

Breaking news from EUOBSERVER

EU Council President Herman Achille Van Rompuy has created a new high-level official in charge of puncturing the gloomy atmosphere at EU summits and telling annoying truths to leaders.

The post, for an Information Pasquination Officer, was advertised in the EU’s Official Journal on Friday (1 April) and comes with an annual salary of €1.6 million and a large blue hat with 12 saggy peaks, each topped with a golden star.

The advert says: “Candidates are expected to show vague awareness of EU institutions and European history, with 10 years’ experience of working in a neurotic environment and a post-graduate degree or equivalent from the University of Life.”

The successful applicant will: “form part of the cabinet of President Van Rompuy in a permanent advisory capacity and attend meetings of the European Council, tasked with bringing a dose of much-needed reality to the hypocritical posturing of normal procedure in line with Article 11 of the EU Treaty on safeguarding the integrity of EU internal and external policy.”

Other tasks include throwing custard pies at prime ministers whose economies require an EU-IMF bailout and sounding a klaxon whenever anybody uses the phrases “shared values” or “human rights” in reference to EU foreign policy.

In protocol terms, the new official will sit on President Van Rompuy’s shoulders in the EU summit ‘family photograph.’

He or she will also be required to scatter rose petals under the feet of central Asian gas dictators during their visits to the EU capital. (:D)

“Van Rompuy might not be a renaissance-era monarch, but he is a bit literary and he got the idea from the Shakespeare play King Lear, where the fool helps the king hold on to some shreds of sanity,” an EU official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the inanity.

“We thought the massive salary would give a good laugh to all those nurses and firemen being sacked in member states while we award ourselves pay rises based on an indexation mechanism of Byzantine complexity.”

A contact in European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso’s inner circle said a similar post had been considered in his cabinet.

“Barroso is a bit self-important. But with people around like Dalli [a Maltese commissioner who recently spoke out in defence of Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi] and Ashton [a commission vice president labouring under the delusion that there is such a thing as EU foreign policy and that she is in charge of it], we thought we didn’t need any more clowns.”

A contact in EU parliament President Jerzy Buzek’s office added: “Nobody takes us seriously anyway. So we are going to wear very dark suits and Cuban heels.”

Happy April Fools’ day 😀