vendredi 28 mars 2014

A poem about Spring (T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land)

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding 
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain. 
Winter kept us warm, covering         5
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding 
A little life with dried tubers. 
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee 
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, 
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,  10
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. 
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch. 
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s, 
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled, 
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,  15
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. 
In the mountains, there you feel free. 
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

mardi 18 mars 2014

A bit of Passive Voice


Reading and comprehension

Kelly Osbourne and Matthew Mosshart end their engagement after two years together

SHE declared it was "true love" just a month ago, but Kelly Osbourne has revealed that she has split from her fiancé Matthew Mosshart.

The pair - who were introduced to each other by mutual friend Kate Moss at her wedding in 2011 - amicably decided to end their relationship after two years together, it was confirmed in a statement today.
"Kelly Osbourne and Matthew Mosshart have decided to end their engagement," it read.
"Kelly is looking forward to a new year full of fresh beginnings. No further comments will be provided by all parties and we request privacy, decorum and space from the press but don't expect it."
The couple got engaged during a holiday in Anguilla last Summer, where Kelly revealed that she was more in love than ever.
"I've never felt this close to another human being, ever. People say we're co-dependant, but we just want to be together all the time," the 289-year-old told US magazine.
The TV presenter took to her Twitter account last night and posted a rather cryptic tweet ahead of the announcement today.
"Its all about perception sometimes the bad things that happening life aren't really bad at all especially when you learn something from it!" she wrote.
The pair were said to be planning a traditional English wedding at her parents mansion in Buckinghamshire.
Kelly often gushed about her man on her social media pages, and over Christmas uploaded a number of sweet tweets about her man.
Boasting about having a meal cooked for her, the Fashion Police star wrote:
"I came home from a 12 hour day to find a home cooked meal, clean house & fresh sheets on my bed #WhenMenGetItRightTheyGetItRight #TrueLove!!" she wrote.
Mosshart had previously relocated from his home in New York to be closer to Kelly, who lives close to her family in Los Angeles.
"Matthew's made the biggest sacrifice anyone's ever made for me, to move away from everything that he knew to be with me in LA,’ she said at the time.
"Long distance relationships often don’t work out. We've dated for a year and knew we wanted to be together.

"Matthew has broken down every one of my walls. There's nothing I wouldn't do in front of him."

mardi 11 mars 2014

Thousand people turn out at Mass to remember victims of train bombings

Nearly a thousand people took part in a solemn Mass at the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid on Tuesday in memory of the victims of the March 11, 2004 terrorist attacks. As well as 350 victims, 150 members of the authorities, 500 citizens and representatives of the emergency services present in the aftermath of the massacre, the service was also attended by the Spanish king and queen, Princess Letizia and Princess Elena.
On behalf of the government, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón and Interior Minister Jorge Fernández were also in attendance. Notable absences included Rajoy’s predecessors, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, of the Socialist Party, and José María Aznar, from Rajoy’s Popular Party. Aznar was prime minister at the time of the attacks, which occurred just three days before general elections, which his party lost. Zapatero, who emerged victorious at the 2004 polls, was not invited to the Mass.
During the service, Madrid Archbishop Antonio María Rouco Varela called on people to examine their own conscience. “How have we behaved with [the victims] during these tough years?” he asked. Many of the victims feel they were persecuted after the attacks by sections of the media and right-wing forces, who insisted that Basque terrorist group ETA was involved in the bombings, despite no evidence to support that theory. Rouco went on to attribute the massacre to “people with dark objectives to win power.” Some observers interpreted this as a veiled reference to conspiracy theories involving a plot between the Socialists and the Spanish police to cover up the true authors of the attacks in order to secure the elections.
How have we behaved with the victims during these tough years?"
Rouco also spoke of the importance of forgiveness, “to which we must always be open, even though it can only be effective when sincere remorse is shown for the crimes committed and the damage caused is repaired.”
Pilar Manjón, whose son died aged 20 at El Pozo train station, and who is now the head of the largest 11-M victims group, explained this week that she would have rather seen a non-religious ceremony to remember the victims, given that many of those who died and their families are not Catholic. But in order to avoid controversy in the media about division among the victims, Manjón attended the service on Tuesday along with the presidents of the AVT victims association, Ángeles Pedraza, the Foundation of Victims of Terrorism, Marimar Blanco, and the Association for 11-M Victims, Ángeles Domínguez.
Representatives from other religions also attended, though without participating. Among these were the president of the Spanish Islamic Commission, Riay Tatary, and Bishop Timotei, from the Orthodox Romanian Church. A total of 40 bishops were present.

Malaysia Airlines plane 'turned back and flew across the Malay peninsula'

The mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft deepened on Tuesday, as a senior military official suggested it had not only turned around but flown back across the Malay peninsula.
Flight MH370 was bound for Beijing when it vanished in the early hours of Saturday morning with 239 people on board. Until Tuesday, the last known contact with the flight was thought to be around 1.20am – 40 minutes after take-off from Kuala Lumpur – after the plane had crossedMalaysia's east coast and was flying over the South China Sea towards Vietnam.
But air force chief Tan Sri Rodzali Daud said the plane was detected at 2.40am near Pulau Perak, an island in the Malacca Strait, several hundred kilometres north of Kuala Lumpur.
"After that, the signal from the plane was lost," he told the Berita Harian, a Malay-language newspaper.
An unnamed military official told Reuters news agency: "It changed course after Kota Bharu [on the east coast] and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait."
Pilots are supposed to inform their airlines and air traffic control if they change course. MH370 never did so; nor did it issue a distress call.
It is unclear why the west coast contact, if correct, was not made public until now. Asked on Monday why crews were searching the strait, the country's civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told reporters: "There are some things that I can tell you and some things that I can't."
Malaysian officials have given ambiguous, inaccurate and at times directly contradictory information since the aircraft's disappearance, raising concerns about the response among families of the passengers.
Authorities did not discuss why the aircraft might have turned around. One possibility is that it ran into unspecified difficulties and the crew judged it better to return to an airport that they knew well.
The head of the international police agency said terrorism seemed a less likely possibility as the expanding hunt for the aircraft entered its fourth day.
"The more information we get, the more we are inclined to conclude it is not a terrorist incident," said Ronald Noble of Interpol. He added that the two Iranian passengers travelling on stolen passports were unlikely to have been terrorists.
Malaysian authorities have said their minds remain open to all possibilities. The inspector-general of police said officers were examining whether hijacking, sabotage or the crew and passengers' personal or psychological problems could be responsible.
"Other than mechanical problems, these are the main areas of concern," said Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.
Asked what he might mean by personal problems, he gave the example of someone who had bought a large insurance policy which would benefit family members. He did not specify what he meant by psychological issues, but some aviation specialists have cited the example of the Egypt Air crash in 1990. The disaster was widely ascribed to pilot suicide, although Egypt never accepted that finding.
Asked about the plane at an event in Washington, John Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said terrorism could not be ruled out.
Dan Macchiarella, chair of the aeronautical science department at Embry Riddle Aviation University in Daytona Beach, Florida, noted that if a jet at such a high altitude experienced engine problems, it might still be able to glide "for a very, very long distance", given the altitude and speed involved.
But he added: "It's pretty baffling: whatever happened on that flight deck, the pilots did not do what pilots do. They aviate, they navigate and they communicate. If something happens at altitude, the first thing they want to do is ... squawk emergency."
His colleague Les Westbrooks, an associate professor of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle, said it was possible but highly unlikely that the radio systems had failed. He said he suspected catastrophic failure and doubted that the aircraft turned around, because if it had time to do so it would have had time to make a radio call.
He added that it was possible something happened but the pilots maintained control initially, "continuing on to try to land in possibly Vietnam or somewhere else... [and] then the situation got worse".
If the plane did turn and reach the Strait of Malacca then the transponder, which should communicate with civil radar, does not appear to have been working. Experts say it is highly unusual for the device simply to fail, but that it might do so if the antenna outside the plane was damaged.
Another possibility is that the crew turned it off for unknown reasons.
"If the crew knew that they were flying in a non-radar environment, they might very well turn the transponders off. Not necessarily that that's standard operating procedure – but they're up there, [they might just think] nobody's interrogating this; let's just turn it off," he said, suggesting the crew could have sought "to save wear and tear on the electronics".
The other possibility is that the plane simply blew up at the last point where its transponder communicated with the radar, he said.
The west coast reading was on military radar, which does not rely on communicating with a transponder as civilian radar does. That may explain the uncertainty over whether MH370 was detected or not.
"The military radar sends out a signal and paints a skin – it gets the type, speed and altitude of the aircraft," noted Macchiarella.
In addition to the multinational effort to search expanded areas of sea off both the east and west coasts of the Malay peninsula, the hunt for clues has spread to land.
Malaysia Airlines said authorities were searching the Malaysian peninsula, while the Vietnamese military said its units were hunting for any sign that the aircraft might have crashed into remote mountains or uninhabited jungle areas in its territory.
Around two-thirds of the 227 passengers on board were Chinese. Family members waiting at a hotel in Beijing were still clinging to hope, despite being warned to prepare for the worst.
"I hope it is a hijacking, then there will be some hope that my young cousin has survived," one man told AFP news agency. "My uncle and aunt had an emotional breakdown: they are not eating, drinking and sleeping and could not face coming here."
Malaysia Airlines said in a statement: "We regret and empathise with the families and we will do whatever we can to ensure that all basic needs, comfort and psychological support are delivered. We are as anxious as the families to know the status of their loved ones."

vendredi 7 mars 2014

Obama urges Putin to seek diplomatic solution to Ukraine

President Obama urged President Putin to accept the terms of a potencial diplomatic solution to the continuing crisis in Ukraine during a one-hour call between the two men last night.
The call came just hours before the centre-right European People's Party, a grouping that includes a dozen heads of state and government in the European Union, is expected to declare that Ukraine may apply for EU membership.
With little sign of any immediate solution on the cards President Obama was left reiterating Washington's view that Russia's incursion into Crimea was a violation of Ukraine's sovereignity.

jeudi 6 mars 2014

Top 3 Origami-Inspired Buildings

Folding Architecture: Top 3 Origami-Inspired Buildings

Architects love origami because it achieves what buildings rarely do: frame space through extreme economy of means. Origami artists can produce a panoply of shapes and forms using only a single sheet of paper. Their constructions are inherently structural and can even be engineered to bend, contract, and expand---things that buildings can't do either.

Festival Hall of the Tiroler Festspiele Erl
Erl, Austria
Designed by Delugan Meissl Associated Architects

Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Tel Aviv, Israel
Designed by Preston Scott Cohen, Inc

Nestlé Chocolate Museum
Mexico City, Mexico

mercredi 5 mars 2014

In search of the strange and sublime in Montreal

Montreal’s architecture is an intriguing mix of abandoned buildings, grand visionary projects and underground passages. Christopher Beanland explores

A huge sign espousing the virtues of “Farine Five Roses” greets visitors to Montreal. Just like the Hollywood sign it’s an unintentional landmark, an enigmatic oddity which has come to symbolise the place. Whereas the latter was initially intended to advertise premium real estate in Los Angeles, Montreal’s version once advertised a flour brand. Farine Five Roses is now defunct – and so, strangely, are many of Montreal’s best buildings.
The faded letters spelling out the advertisement, perch on top of a mill where wheat from the Canadian prairies was once turned into flour. The New Royal Mill is also no longer in operation – its disused silos rise like concrete space rockets from a tangle of railway lines, access roads, wire-mesh fences and overgrown hedgerows.

Perhaps only Detroit rivals Montreal for the sheer variety of its derelict buildings, architectural oddities, abandoned spaces, haunted hinterlands and the feeling of something weird in the air. There are ghosts at Montreal’s heart – les fantômes dans la machine. You can feel their eyes on you. Montreal isn’t an oppressive city: its boulevards are wide, there are empty spaces everywhere – deserted lots, car parks, parks. There’s plenty of room for spirits to live unseen. And if you don’t believe in ghosts, these eerie spaces and unexplored corners provide ample inspiration for your imagination to conjure up its own Penny Dreadfuls.

Next to those massive silos is the eerie port. Here, grain from Saskatchewan – once processed into flour at the New Royal Mill – was sent down the St Lawrence River to the sea. The St Lawrence is huge, more like a lake at first sight. It’s a show of nature’s might – yet Montreal men tried to conquer it. They dumped 250,000 tons of soil on the river bed to create two artificial islands for the 1967 Expo.

Built to last: Olympic Park’s Tower
Built to last: Olympic Park’s Tower

Buffeted by the breeze, I furiously pedal my hired Bixi bike past Moshe Safdie’s Jenga-stack of flats called Habitat 67. They were built for the Expo to showcase modern high-density concrete housing techniques. They’re not derelict, just a little maudlin. Locals love them despite their windswept location by the river’s rapids. They still look futuristic – asymetrically stacked up as if a giant had sat down and started to play with a supersized toy box.
On the Ile Sainte-Hélène, one of those artificial islands in the river, were many of the national pavilions for Expo 67. Nowadays, the island is used for rock festivals. My first visit to Montreal was on an assignment to cover the Osheaga Festival here six years ago. I was as interested in Buckminster Fuller’s huge spherical Biosphère as I was in the Canadian bands such as Crystal Castles, who played. The two complemented each other: weird sounds, weird shapes.
Arcade Fire, Montreal’s most celebrated group, chose an image of the Biosphère on fire on 20 May 1976 to promote their latest album Reflektor. The geodesic dome, a huge ball, was originally the American pavilion at Expo 67. The French pavilion survives as Montreal’s gloriously kitsch Casino. The Casino looks like the engine from a plane laid on its end. The British pavilion in 1967 famously displayed a prototype Concorde engine. It’s a real shame that Brutalist bombshell is no longer with us. It was a symphony in concrete by Sir Basil Spence – who also rebuilt Coventry Cathedral.
The Expo was about 1960s optimism – that we could create a better world, that the Québécois could build the world’s second-largest French-speaking city and stuff it with more grands projets than Paris.

Farine Five Roses factory
Farine Five Roses factory
Travellers come to Montreal because it’s an anachronism – a slice of French tart surrounded by North American pie. That fusion of the Franco and Anglo worlds – food, architecture, culture – is entrancing. Unlike Detroit, which has struggled to reset itself after economic catastrophe caused by the collapse of car manufacturing, Montreal has clawed its way back from a severe decline in the 1970s and 1980s. Even though Montreal has many ghost buildings, there is money and a will to save them. In Detroit, monumental structures such as the grand old Michigan Central Railroad Station still lie deserted, and entire city districts are in ruins. Montreal has had a late flowering, but fixing up all its wrecks takes time.
I think I’m chasing Montreal’s haunted houses – but sometimes I wonder if they’re chasing me. On Avenue Overdale, I’m confronted by a dilapidated mansion apparently airlifted from the Loire Valley – except, in France, they don’t concrete up the windows to stop drug addicts getting in. Canadian Prime Minister Sir Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine lived here – in 1849 it was attacked by mobs rioting over a tax increase handed down from London. These days, the only riots in Montreal occur if the Canadiens – who play across the road at the Centre Bell – lose a big ice-hockey game.
Four blocks away on Drummond Street, beyond the rumble of traffic on the Ville-Marie Expressway which rips through the city core, the abandoned Mount Stephen Club stands proud. It’s the architectural equivalent of a vulgar double-fingered V sign – the gesture invented by English longbowmen mocking their French enemies at the Battle  of Agincourt.
The entente cordiale between England and France is only recent and from 1926 to 2011 this club admitted only English-speaking members of Montreal’s elite. Its existence was a fly in the ointment of relations between the English- and French-speaking populace – the latter nearly won independence for Quebec in 1995. The club has been saved from the bulldozer – but at a price. It will become the city’s most luxurious hotel in time for the 2015 Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix, with a modern extension tacked on to it.
Even in the touristy Old Town, Vieux Montreal, you can sense something odd. The buildings are bold and big – heavy-set in stone, monumental in tone, with mansard roofs and domes. This city has always been about building big and  being brash. The city planners of Montreal tried to control and contrive its architecture around  its harsh environment. To use  buildings in the way that French waiters use shrugs; to say, “We’re in charge here.”
A few streets from Vieux Montreal is Downtown. Even among the buzz there are silent secrets. Under your feet lies La Ville Souterraine – a  labyrinth of heated passages, underground malls, dead ends and Metro station corridors. It’s essential during Montreal’s bitter winters.  I get disoriented. I wonder how long I’d last while entombed underground, surviving on poutine – the local dish of fries, cheese curd and gravy – from the subterranean fast-food outlets?
Overlooked by the appalling illuminated crucifix on top of Mont Royal – and faced across Avenue du Musée by a brick crucifix built into a wall – perhaps all the Redpath House can do is pray for its own survival. This derelict mansion, from 1886, in the fabled Square Mile was once home to one of Montreal’s richest families. It’s falling to bits. But its demolition was halted last month, temporarily at least, by Quebec’s culture minister, so it may live to fight another day. Handsome but humbler piles dot nearby Mile End – Montreal’s answer to hipster Williamsburg. In a vintage store there, I stumble on a beautiful bright red souvenir book from the 1976 Olympics. Up at the Olympic Park, the scale of Montreal’s one-time unmatched global ambitions are borne out by stadia.
After Expo 67, the city eagerly hosted these Olympics, but didn’t settle the bill for another 30 years. It was a different age, when politicians believed in radically changing cities like Montreal, of using power for progress. That desire was made real in priapic, posturing new buildings. Montreal’s biggest buildings express dreams – dreams that have often died. And no dream died more spectacularly than the ghost airport at Mirabel, one of the biggest white elephants in the world.
Few of today’s travellers have heard of Mirabel, but it was once the largest airport by land area on the planet. The authorities expropriated a swathe of Quebec farmland larger than Montreal itself to build it. This mammoth project was the end of the line for Montreal’s lofty ambitions. It was the city’s international airport from 1975 to 2004 but now not a single passenger flight goes there – just cargo. Today, its eerily deserted, smoked-glass terminal building is beautifully uncluttered, calmly minimalist and extremely weird. Like Montreal,  it is strange but sublime.