Category Archives: News of the week

News of the week

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Anything that struck me because it was shocking, interesting or simply hilarious : my news of the past week.

    International

  • Russia is on fire.

    It is thoughtful to give the dog a mask, but it may be more effective if it was actually, like, covering his nose?

    Fires are raging across Europe – in Portugal the Andancas festival was evacuated [PT] due to approximating fires (as a result our Belgian pride and glory AedO [NL] couldn’t finish their final performance) and in Spain 2 firefighters lost their lives, but the situation is especially bad in Russia. The first rain in 6 weeks has finally cleared the skies in Moscow from the thick layer of smoke in which the city was covered, but the fires are all but under control. Several nuclear sites are threatened, including the Tsjernobyl area where the soil is still heavily contaminated with nuclear particles. A blazing fire could possibly throw these back in the air, allowing winds to spread them across the continent. A German expert however claims this holds no real threat.
    Somehow I’m reluctant to just shrug my shoulders and say “If you say so.” …
    National

  • 2 Sudbury schools are starting on September 1st.
    September 1st will be the start of a brand new school year not only for a whole lot of children, but also for 2 new schools in Antwerp and Ghent. They will be Sudbury schools, which are most easily described as a school where kids do what they want, how they want it and when they want it. The philosophy seems to be that if a child doesn’t want to learn to read, it shouldn’t – it will discover in due time that it is quite necessary to be able to read and will be all the more motivated. All rules are set up by the children themselves in a democratic way. It seems too good to be true, but my main concern would be that the school in Ghent has no building yet.
    Will they just ask the kids where they want to go to every day?
  • Ghent University is in the top 100 of the Shanghai Jiaotong World University Ranking.
    As an alumna of GU I am obviously pretty proud – eat this, Leuven! (Apologies… couldn’t help myself.) The ranking is highly criticized, since it focuses mainly on scientific output and research (Nobel Prize winners, etc) rather than education, which puts European Universities at a disadvantage. Still, Ghent made it to spot 90 and Lund, my future employer, ranks 67th. Berkeley, here I come!
    Technology

  • Get the solar panel spray, dear, we’re running out of power!
    I have honestly no clue even as to how to begin on developing them, but scientist report they have invented a plastic solar cell that works even on cloudy days. The cell is different from conventional solar cells and can use the infrared rays of the sun to convert into energy. The best part is not so much that they could be up to 5 times more effective than current solar cell technology, but that they would be available as a spray-on, allowing them to be sprayed on walls, clothing and even windows. A car covered with it could use them to continuously recharge its batteries. Talk about the future!

    On a somehow related note, new wind turbines are being developed that would look like trees, with the leaves harvesting power each time the winds “flaps” them. Well, they would certainly be more aesthetically pleasing than the current versions!

My news of the week

Standard

Anything that struck me because it was shocking, interesting or simply hilarious : my news of the past week.

    International

  • Proposition 8 was overturned in the state of California.
    In november 2008 Proposition 8 was passed during state elections in California. As a result, same-sex marriage was no longer allowed in the golden state. Last Wednesday, however, a judge decided the amendment is unconstitutional. Now, if they had found it consitutional, it was high time to change the consitution. I have heard a lot of arguments against gay marriage but “public schools may teach our children gay marriage is ok” is by far the dumbest. That it is morally inacceptable that LGBT people would marry, is NOT a christian decision to be made (remember separation of church and state? you wouldn’t let muslims pass a law on kerchiefs, would you?). We are talking adult people here, fully sane and aware of what they are doing. If they both don’t find it morally despicable what they do in their bedroom, or to be married to a same sex partner, why should you care? Even if you feel you have to protect them against theirselves because they will go to hell, leave them be. Weird as it may sound, they have the right to go to hell, if they want to.
  • 65th anniversary of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
    A sad anniversary, especially since this did not so much end World War II (okay, it may have helped), as start a new era, an era of nuclear threaths, cold wars, and distrust between states. A few years back Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto released a video showing all 2053 nuclear detonations between 1945 and 1998. It is a slow, painful time-lapse map of human foolishness. I don’t claim to have the solution to all worldly problems (if only), but I’m pretty much convinced nuclear bombs shouldn’t be part of it.
    National

  • Bishop Vangheluwe paid his cousin considerable sums of money.
    It was not hush money, but compensation for suffered damage. With all due respect, but if you abuse someone for years, and afterwards pay him large sums of money, you are asking him to keep his mouth shut. If you realize that what you have done is wrong, you turn yourself in at the police station, instead of buying off your guilt. More easily said than done, I know, but especially someone in his position should have the courage to stand up and take responsability. It is a matter of respect.
    Interesting

  • Kazachstan strikes back. While the original Borat movie is still on the black list in Kazachstan, Kazachstan director Erkin Rakishev plans sweet revenge. “My brother Borat” will tell a different story and reveal Borat is nothing but a fraud. I always found it a bit childish of Kazachstan to be so sensitive on the subject (djee, it’s a MOVIE), but really, I like their way of getting revenge – now let’s hope they can find a decent camera to record the movie.
    Funny