Pirates and piracy

 

La piraterie - le pillage de bateaux en mer - existe depuis des milliers d'années. Depuis que l'homme a commencé à transporter des cargaisons de valeur par bateau, d'autres personnes veulaient s'en emparer.

Pirates and piracy

Water sports
by Mike Rayner
We'll all be planning that route
We're gonna take real soon
We're waxing down our surfboards
We can't wait for June
We'll all be gone for the summer
We're on surfari to stay
Tell the teacher we're surfin'
Surfin' U. S. A.
(Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson)
All over the world people head for oceans, lakes, pools and rivers in search of fun, freedom and excitement. On the water, in the water or under the water, there are a huge range of sports and activities available to lovers of H2O. Let’s take a look at some of the more colourful and adventurous water sports.
Surfing
When Captain James Cook landed in the Polynesian islands of Hawaii in 1778, he was surprised to find the native men and women, both royalty and ordinary citizens, riding waves standing on wooden boards. Despite being centuries old, surfing only really took off in the rest of the world from the 1950s, starting with the southwest coast of the USA. Nowadays surfing is enjoyed by surfers wherever there are waves, in Bali, Australia, Japan, France and even Britain.
Contemporary surfers use lightweight fibreglass boards to catch waves of varying shapes and sizes as they roll in towards the beach. One of the main attractions of the sport is its simplicity – all a surfer really needs is a surfboard, a wetsuit and a way of getting to the beach.
Although there has been a fiercely competitive professional tour since the 1970s, surfing traditionally appeals to young people with a relaxed outlook on life. A whole lifestyle has built up around the sport, and movies like Big Wednesday, Point Break and Blue Crush have popularised surf culture. Surfing also has its own language – an excited surfer is ‘stoked’, a surfer who falls off their board ‘wipes out’, and something a surfer really likes is ‘awesome’. The heroes of the surfing community are the soul surfers – surfers who live only to travel and surf.
Windsurfing and kiteboarding
Both close cousins of surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding use the wind to propel modified surfboards at high speeds across the surface of the water.
Windsurfing is a hybrid of sailing and surfing invented by sailor Jim Drake, and surfer Hoyle Schweiter in South California in the late 1960s. Windsurfing has become a hugely popular outdoor activity, and made its first appearance at the Olympics in LA in 1984. There are many different styles of windsurfing which include ‘freestyle’, where windsurfers do tricks, ‘bump-and-jump’ in which surfers use waves to take to the air, and ‘slalom’.
Kitesurfing is an even more recent development; it has only been around since the 1980s, and is only recently becoming an established watersport. As the name of the sport suggests, kitesurfers are towed along by large kites, allowing them to pull-off incredible tricks in the air. The names of the tricks give an idea of how exciting the sport is; the ‘heart-attack’, ‘boneless’ and ‘slim chance’ are among the most exhilarating to watch.
SCUBA diving
Just as mankind has always had a desire to fly, the human race has wanted to swim under the water since prehistoric times. Pictures of primitive devices to enable people to breathe underwater have been found dating from 3000 years ago, but our dream of moving freely beneath the ocean waves for long periods of time was only realised about 60 years ago, when French diving legend Jacques Cousteau developed the first practical Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA). Since then the sport of SCUBA diving has gone from strength to strength.
Lovers of SCUBA diving rave about the feeling of weightlessness, the peace and quiet under the water, the ability to move in three dimensions and the sense of adventure they get while on a dive. SCUBA divers often travel to some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world in the search for rare underwater flora and fauna. Palau, The Red Sea, The Maldives and Hawaii have many of the most popular diving sites, but recreational divers often have to make do with less exotic local destinations, like the North Sea in Britain.
SCUBA diving is not without its dangers, however. The mixture of nitrogen and oxygen divers breathe underwater, combined with the pressure under the water can be deadly if a diver rises too quickly to the surface, causing a condition called ‘the bends’. Divers can also get lost or trapped when diving on wrecks, and fatalities are particularly common in cave diving, where divers add to the dangers of diving by swimming through underground caves filled with water. Diving can also be harmful to the underwater environment – in the past irresponsible divers have caused a great deal of damage to coral reefs. However with proper precautions diving can open up a whole new world, far from the stresses of daily life.
So what are you waiting for? Get your wetsuit on, strap your board to the roof rack, throw your SCUBA gear in the boot and head for the beach. I’ll see you there.
Glossary
contemporary (adj): existing or happening now.
coral reef (n): a bank of coral, the top of which can sometimes be seen just above the
sea.device (n): an object or machine which has been invented to fulfill a particular purpose.
establish (v) (established adj): to cause to be accepted in or familiar with a place, position, etc.
exhilarating (adj): making you feel very excited and happy.
fatality (n): a death caused by an accident or by violence, or someone who has died in either of these ways.
fibreglass UK, US fiberglass (n): a strong light material made by twisting together small fibres of glass and plastic, used especially for structures such as cars and boats.
flora and fauna (n): the flora and fauna of a place are its plants and animals.
hybrid (n): a plant or animal that has been produced from two different types of plant or animal, especially to get better characteristics, or anything that is a mixture of two very different things.
modify (v): to change something such as a plan, opinion, law or way of behaviour slightly, usually to improve it or make it more acceptable.
precaution (n): an action which is done to prevent something unpleasant or dangerous happening.
prehistoric (adj): describing the period before there were written records.
primitive (adj): relating to human society at a very early stage of development, with people living in a simple way without machines or a writing system.
propel (n): to push or move something somewhere, often with a lot of force.
rave (v): to praise something greatly.royalty (n): the people who belong to the family of a king and queen.
slalom (n): a race for people on skis or in canoes (= long light narrow boats) in which they have to follow a route that bends in and out between poles.
tow (v): to pull a car, boat, etc. along, using a rope or a chain attached to another vehicle or boat.
wetsuit (n): a piece of clothing covering the whole body that keeps you warm and dry when you are under water.
Goodbye Great Auk
by John Kuti
In those days, people still lived on the islands of Saint Kilda. Two men from the village went out on the rock. They found a big strange bird. It was sleeping. They decided to bring it home to the village.
Far out into the ocean to the north and west of Britain are the cold wild islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. They make a line of beautiful beaches 150 miles long. Further west is the small group of islands called Saint Kilda. They are cold and wild too, but without beaches. The islands are tall volcanic rocks hundreds of metres high.
For thousands of years, people lived on these islands. In 1930 the last people, there were only 36 of them, had a meeting and decided to leave. The biggest island in the group is called Hirta. Sheep still live there without any people. When you arrive by boat, you see very tall black rocks all around. Some big rocks make their own small islands. This true story happened on the tallest of the rocks – “Stac An Armin” in 1840.
In those days, people still lived on the islands of Saint Kilda. Their stone houses were all in one village by the ocean at the bottom of a tall dark hill. The houses only had one room – for people and sheep, which used to live with them in the winter and spring. Two men from the village, McDonald and McKinnon, were on the rock. It was their work to collect birds – some for food, some to make shoes or hats with. Some dead birds they put in the earth to help their vegetables grow. They found one strange big bird. It was sleeping. They decided to bring it home to the village.
I think people in the village were interested in the bird. We now know that this was a Great Auk, a kind of swimming bird that lived in many parts of the North Atlantic. It was big and strong and had a loud cry. They began to talk with the other people in the village about what they should do with it. After two days, the weather got worse and then there was a terrible storm. The people in the village decided that this was because of the bird and they killed it. This was the last example of the Great Auk in Britain. Four years later, the last Great Auk in the world died in Iceland.
We know the Great Auk died out because of people. But where did the people of Saint Kilda go? This is more difficult to explain. Some say that they were bored living on the island so far from modern cities. Other people think that the problem was tourists, who began to visit Saint Kilda at the end of the 19th century. A new theory says that using too many dead birds as fertilizer made their food unhealthy. I think it was a mistake to kill the auk.
Water sports
by Mike Rayner
We'll all be planning that route
We're gonna take real soon
We're waxing down our surfboards
We can't wait for June
We'll all be gone for the summer
We're on surfari to stay
Tell the teacher we're surfin'
Surfin' U. S. A.
(Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson)
All over the world people head for oceans, lakes, pools and rivers in search of fun, freedom and excitement. On the water, in the water or under the water, there are a huge range of sports and activities available to lovers of H2O. Let’s take a look at some of the more colourful and adventurous water sports.
Surfing
When Captain James Cook landed in the Polynesian islands of Hawaii in 1778, he was surprised to find the native men and women, both royalty and ordinary citizens, riding waves standing on wooden boards. Despite being centuries old, surfing only really took off in the rest of the world from the 1950s, starting with the southwest coast of the USA. Nowadays surfing is enjoyed by surfers wherever there are waves, in Bali, Australia, Japan, France and even Britain.
Contemporary surfers use lightweight fibreglass boards to catch waves of varying shapes and sizes as they roll in towards the beach. One of the main attractions of the sport is its simplicity – all a surfer really needs is a surfboard, a wetsuit and a way of getting to the beach.
Although there has been a fiercely competitive professional tour since the 1970s, surfing traditionally appeals to young people with a relaxed outlook on life. A whole lifestyle has built up around the sport, and movies like Big Wednesday, Point Break and Blue Crush have popularised surf culture. Surfing also has its own language – an excited surfer is ‘stoked’, a surfer who falls off their board ‘wipes out’, and something a surfer really likes is ‘awesome’. The heroes of the surfing community are the soul surfers – surfers who live only to travel and surf.
Windsurfing and kiteboarding
Both close cousins of surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding use the wind to propel modified surfboards at high speeds across the surface of the water.
Windsurfing is a hybrid of sailing and surfing invented by sailor Jim Drake, and surfer Hoyle Schweiter in South California in the late 1960s. Windsurfing has become a hugely popular outdoor activity, and made its first appearance at the Olympics in LA in 1984. There are many different styles of windsurfing which include ‘freestyle’, where windsurfers do tricks, ‘bump-and-jump’ in which surfers use waves to take to the air, and ‘slalom’.
Kitesurfing is an even more recent development; it has only been around since the 1980s, and is only recently becoming an established watersport. As the name of the sport suggests, kitesurfers are towed along by large kites, allowing them to pull-off incredible tricks in the air. The names of the tricks give an idea of how exciting the sport is; the ‘heart-attack’, ‘boneless’ and ‘slim chance’ are among the most exhilarating to watch.
SCUBA diving
Just as mankind has always had a desire to fly, the human race has wanted to swim under the water since prehistoric times. Pictures of primitive devices to enable people to breathe underwater have been found dating from 3000 years ago, but our dream of moving freely beneath the ocean waves for long periods of time was only realised about 60 years ago, when French diving legend Jacques Cousteau developed the first practical Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA). Since then the sport of SCUBA diving has gone from strength to strength.
Lovers of SCUBA diving rave about the feeling of weightlessness, the peace and quiet under the water, the ability to move in three dimensions and the sense of adventure they get while on a dive. SCUBA divers often travel to some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world in the search for rare underwater flora and fauna. Palau, The Red Sea, The Maldives and Hawaii have many of the most popular diving sites, but recreational divers often have to make do with less exotic local destinations, like the North Sea in Britain.
SCUBA diving is not without its dangers, however. The mixture of nitrogen and oxygen divers breathe underwater, combined with the pressure under the water can be deadly if a diver rises too quickly to the surface, causing a condition called ‘the bends’. Divers can also get lost or trapped when diving on wrecks, and fatalities are particularly common in cave diving, where divers add to the dangers of diving by swimming through underground caves filled with water. Diving can also be harmful to the underwater environment – in the past irresponsible divers have caused a great deal of damage to coral reefs. However with proper precautions diving can open up a whole new world, far from the stresses of daily life.
So what are you waiting for? Get your wetsuit on, strap your board to the roof rack, throw your SCUBA gear in the boot and head for the beach. I’ll see you there.
Glossary
contemporary (adj): existing or happening now.
coral reef (n): a bank of coral, the top of which can sometimes be seen just above the
sea.device (n): an object or machine which has been invented to fulfill a particular purpose.
establish (v) (established adj): to cause to be accepted in or familiar with a place, position, etc.
exhilarating (adj): making you feel very excited and happy.
fatality (n): a death caused by an accident or by violence, or someone who has died in either of these ways.
fibreglass UK, US fiberglass (n): a strong light material made by twisting together small fibres of glass and plastic, used especially for structures such as cars and boats.
flora and fauna (n): the flora and fauna of a place are its plants and animals.
hybrid (n): a plant or animal that has been produced from two different types of plant or animal, especially to get better characteristics, or anything that is a mixture of two very different things.
modify (v): to change something such as a plan, opinion, law or way of behaviour slightly, usually to improve it or make it more acceptable.
precaution (n): an action which is done to prevent something unpleasant or dangerous happening.
prehistoric (adj): describing the period before there were written records.
primitive (adj): relating to human society at a very early stage of development, with people living in a simple way without machines or a writing system.
propel (n): to push or move something somewhere, often with a lot of force.
rave (v): to praise something greatly.royalty (n): the people who belong to the family of a king and queen.
slalom (n): a race for people on skis or in canoes (= long light narrow boats) in which they have to follow a route that bends in and out between poles.
tow (v): to pull a car, boat, etc. along, using a rope or a chain attached to another vehicle or boat.
wetsuit (n): a piece of clothing covering the whole body that keeps you warm and dry when you are under water.
Water sports
by Mike Rayner
We'll all be planning that route
We're gonna take real soon
We're waxing down our surfboards
We can't wait for June
We'll all be gone for the summer
We're on surfari to stay
Tell the teacher we're surfin'
Surfin' U. S. A.
(Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson)
All over the world people head for oceans, lakes, pools and rivers in search of fun, freedom and excitement. On the water, in the water or under the water, there are a huge range of sports and activities available to lovers of H2O. Let’s take a look at some of the more colourful and adventurous water sports.
Surfing
When Captain James Cook landed in the Polynesian islands of Hawaii in 1778, he was surprised to find the native men and women, both royalty and ordinary citizens, riding waves standing on wooden boards. Despite being centuries old, surfing only really took off in the rest of the world from the 1950s, starting with the southwest coast of the USA. Nowadays surfing is enjoyed by surfers wherever there are waves, in Bali, Australia, Japan, France and even Britain.
Contemporary surfers use lightweight fibreglass boards to catch waves of varying shapes and sizes as they roll in towards the beach. One of the main attractions of the sport is its simplicity – all a surfer really needs is a surfboard, a wetsuit and a way of getting to the beach.
Although there has been a fiercely competitive professional tour since the 1970s, surfing traditionally appeals to young people with a relaxed outlook on life. A whole lifestyle has built up around the sport, and movies like Big Wednesday, Point Break and Blue Crush have popularised surf culture. Surfing also has its own language – an excited surfer is ‘stoked’, a surfer who falls off their board ‘wipes out’, and something a surfer really likes is ‘awesome’. The heroes of the surfing community are the soul surfers – surfers who live only to travel and surf.
Windsurfing and kiteboarding
Both close cousins of surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding use the wind to propel modified surfboards at high speeds across the surface of the water.
Windsurfing is a hybrid of sailing and surfing invented by sailor Jim Drake, and surfer Hoyle Schweiter in South California in the late 1960s. Windsurfing has become a hugely popular outdoor activity, and made its first appearance at the Olympics in LA in 1984. There are many different styles of windsurfing which include ‘freestyle’, where windsurfers do tricks, ‘bump-and-jump’ in which surfers use waves to take to the air, and ‘slalom’.
Kitesurfing is an even more recent development; it has only been around since the 1980s, and is only recently becoming an established watersport. As the name of the sport suggests, kitesurfers are towed along by large kites, allowing them to pull-off incredible tricks in the air. The names of the tricks give an idea of how exciting the sport is; the ‘heart-attack’, ‘boneless’ and ‘slim chance’ are among the most exhilarating to watch.
SCUBA diving
Just as mankind has always had a desire to fly, the human race has wanted to swim under the water since prehistoric times. Pictures of primitive devices to enable people to breathe underwater have been found dating from 3000 years ago, but our dream of moving freely beneath the ocean waves for long periods of time was only realised about 60 years ago, when French diving legend Jacques Cousteau developed the first practical Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA). Since then the sport of SCUBA diving has gone from strength to strength.
Lovers of SCUBA diving rave about the feeling of weightlessness, the peace and quiet under the water, the ability to move in three dimensions and the sense of adventure they get while on a dive. SCUBA divers often travel to some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world in the search for rare underwater flora and fauna. Palau, The Red Sea, The Maldives and Hawaii have many of the most popular diving sites, but recreational divers often have to make do with less exotic local destinations, like the North Sea in Britain.
SCUBA diving is not without its dangers, however. The mixture of nitrogen and oxygen divers breathe underwater, combined with the pressure under the water can be deadly if a diver rises too quickly to the surface, causing a condition called ‘the bends’. Divers can also get lost or trapped when diving on wrecks, and fatalities are particularly common in cave diving, where divers add to the dangers of diving by swimming through underground caves filled with water. Diving can also be harmful to the underwater environment – in the past irresponsible divers have caused a great deal of damage to coral reefs. However with proper precautions diving can open up a whole new world, far from the stresses of daily life.
So what are you waiting for? Get your wetsuit on, strap your board to the roof rack, throw your SCUBA gear in the boot and head for the beach. I’ll see you there.
Glossary
contemporary (adj): existing or happening now.
coral reef (n): a bank of coral, the top of which can sometimes be seen just above the
sea.device (n): an object or machine which has been invented to fulfill a particular purpose.
establish (v) (established adj): to cause to be accepted in or familiar with a place, position, etc.
exhilarating (adj): making you feel very excited and happy.
fatality (n): a death caused by an accident or by violence, or someone who has died in either of these ways.
fibreglass UK, US fiberglass (n): a strong light material made by twisting together small fibres of glass and plastic, used especially for structures such as cars and boats.
flora and fauna (n): the flora and fauna of a place are its plants and animals.
hybrid (n): a plant or animal that has been produced from two different types of plant or animal, especially to get better characteristics, or anything that is a mixture of two very different things.
modify (v): to change something such as a plan, opinion, law or way of behaviour slightly, usually to improve it or make it more acceptable.
precaution (n): an action which is done to prevent something unpleasant or dangerous happening.
prehistoric (adj): describing the period before there were written records.
primitive (adj): relating to human society at a very early stage of development, with people living in a simple way without machines or a writing system.
propel (n): to push or move something somewhere, often with a lot of force.
rave (v): to praise something greatly.royalty (n): the people who belong to the family of a king and queen.
slalom (n): a race for people on skis or in canoes (= long light narrow boats) in which they have to follow a route that bends in and out between poles.
tow (v): to pull a car, boat, etc. along, using a rope or a chain attached to another vehicle or boat.
wetsuit (n): a piece of clothing covering the whole body that keeps you warm and dry when you are under water.
Water sports
by Mike Rayner
We'll all be planning that route
We're gonna take real soon
We're waxing down our surfboards
We can't wait for June
We'll all be gone for the summer
We're on surfari to stay
Tell the teacher we're surfin'
Surfin' U. S. A.
(Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson)
All over the world people head for oceans, lakes, pools and rivers in search of fun, freedom and excitement. On the water, in the water or under the water, there are a huge range of sports and activities available to lovers of H2O. Let’s take a look at some of the more colourful and adventurous water sports.
Surfing
When Captain James Cook landed in the Polynesian islands of Hawaii in 1778, he was surprised to find the native men and women, both royalty and ordinary citizens, riding waves standing on wooden boards. Despite being centuries old, surfing only really took off in the rest of the world from the 1950s, starting with the southwest coast of the USA. Nowadays surfing is enjoyed by surfers wherever there are waves, in Bali, Australia, Japan, France and even Britain.
Contemporary surfers use lightweight fibreglass boards to catch waves of varying shapes and sizes as they roll in towards the beach. One of the main attractions of the sport is its simplicity – all a surfer really needs is a surfboard, a wetsuit and a way of getting to the beach.
Although there has been a fiercely competitive professional tour since the 1970s, surfing traditionally appeals to young people with a relaxed outlook on life. A whole lifestyle has built up around the sport, and movies like Big Wednesday, Point Break and Blue Crush have popularised surf culture. Surfing also has its own language – an excited surfer is ‘stoked’, a surfer who falls off their board ‘wipes out’, and something a surfer really likes is ‘awesome’. The heroes of the surfing community are the soul surfers – surfers who live only to travel and surf.
Windsurfing and kiteboarding
Both close cousins of surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding use the wind to propel modified surfboards at high speeds across the surface of the water.
Windsurfing is a hybrid of sailing and surfing invented by sailor Jim Drake, and surfer Hoyle Schweiter in South California in the late 1960s. Windsurfing has become a hugely popular outdoor activity, and made its first appearance at the Olympics in LA in 1984. There are many different styles of windsurfing which include ‘freestyle’, where windsurfers do tricks, ‘bump-and-jump’ in which surfers use waves to take to the air, and ‘slalom’.
Kitesurfing is an even more recent development; it has only been around since the 1980s, and is only recently becoming an established watersport. As the name of the sport suggests, kitesurfers are towed along by large kites, allowing them to pull-off incredible tricks in the air. The names of the tricks give an idea of how exciting the sport is; the ‘heart-attack’, ‘boneless’ and ‘slim chance’ are among the most exhilarating to watch.
SCUBA diving
Just as mankind has always had a desire to fly, the human race has wanted to swim under the water since prehistoric times. Pictures of primitive devices to enable people to breathe underwater have been found dating from 3000 years ago, but our dream of moving freely beneath the ocean waves for long periods of time was only realised about 60 years ago, when French diving legend Jacques Cousteau developed the first practical Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA). Since then the sport of SCUBA diving has gone from strength to strength.
Lovers of SCUBA diving rave about the feeling of weightlessness, the peace and quiet under the water, the ability to move in three dimensions and the sense of adventure they get while on a dive. SCUBA divers often travel to some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world in the search for rare underwater flora and fauna. Palau, The Red Sea, The Maldives and Hawaii have many of the most popular diving sites, but recreational divers often have to make do with less exotic local destinations, like the North Sea in Britain.
SCUBA diving is not without its dangers, however. The mixture of nitrogen and oxygen divers breathe underwater, combined with the pressure under the water can be deadly if a diver rises too quickly to the surface, causing a condition called ‘the bends’. Divers can also get lost or trapped when diving on wrecks, and fatalities are particularly common in cave diving, where divers add to the dangers of diving by swimming through underground caves filled with water. Diving can also be harmful to the underwater environment – in the past irresponsible divers have caused a great deal of damage to coral reefs. However with proper precautions diving can open up a whole new world, far from the stresses of daily life.
So what are you waiting for? Get your wetsuit on, strap your board to the roof rack, throw your SCUBA gear in the boot and head for the beach. I’ll see you there.
Glossary
contemporary (adj): existing or happening now.
coral reef (n): a bank of coral, the top of which can sometimes be seen just above the
sea.device (n): an object or machine which has been invented to fulfill a particular purpose.
establish (v) (established adj): to cause to be accepted in or familiar with a place, position, etc.
exhilarating (adj): making you feel very excited and happy.
fatality (n): a death caused by an accident or by violence, or someone who has died in either of these ways.
fibreglass UK, US fiberglass (n): a strong light material made by twisting together small fibres of glass and plastic, used especially for structures such as cars and boats.
flora and fauna (n): the flora and fauna of a place are its plants and animals.
hybrid (n): a plant or animal that has been produced from two different types of plant or animal, especially to get better characteristics, or anything that is a mixture of two very different things.
modify (v): to change something such as a plan, opinion, law or way of behaviour slightly, usually to improve it or make it more acceptable.
precaution (n): an action which is done to prevent something unpleasant or dangerous happening.
prehistoric (adj): describing the period before there were written records.
primitive (adj): relating to human society at a very early stage of development, with people living in a simple way without machines or a writing system.
propel (n): to push or move something somewhere, often with a lot of force.
rave (v): to praise something greatly.royalty (n): the people who belong to the family of a king and queen.
slalom (n): a race for people on skis or in canoes (= long light narrow boats) in which they have to follow a route that bends in and out between poles.
tow (v): to pull a car, boat, etc. along, using a rope or a chain attached to another vehicle or boat.
wetsuit (n): a piece of clothing covering the whole body that keeps you warm and dry when you are under water.
Water sports
by Mike Rayner
We'll all be planning that route
We're gonna take real soon
We're waxing down our surfboards
We can't wait for June
We'll all be gone for the summer
We're on surfari to stay
Tell the teacher we're surfin'
Surfin' U. S. A.
(Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson)
All over the world people head for oceans, lakes, pools and rivers in search of fun, freedom and excitement. On the water, in the water or under the water, there are a huge range of sports and activities available to lovers of H2O. Let’s take a look at some of the more colourful and adventurous water sports.
Surfing
When Captain James Cook landed in the Polynesian islands of Hawaii in 1778, he was surprised to find the native men and women, both royalty and ordinary citizens, riding waves standing on wooden boards. Despite being centuries old, surfing only really took off in the rest of the world from the 1950s, starting with the southwest coast of the USA. Nowadays surfing is enjoyed by surfers wherever there are waves, in Bali, Australia, Japan, France and even Britain.
Contemporary surfers use lightweight fibreglass boards to catch waves of varying shapes and sizes as they roll in towards the beach. One of the main attractions of the sport is its simplicity – all a surfer really needs is a surfboard, a wetsuit and a way of getting to the beach.
Although there has been a fiercely competitive professional tour since the 1970s, surfing traditionally appeals to young people with a relaxed outlook on life. A whole lifestyle has built up around the sport, and movies like Big Wednesday, Point Break and Blue Crush have popularised surf culture. Surfing also has its own language – an excited surfer is ‘stoked’, a surfer who falls off their board ‘wipes out’, and something a surfer really likes is ‘awesome’. The heroes of the surfing community are the soul surfers – surfers who live only to travel and surf.
Windsurfing and kiteboarding
Both close cousins of surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding use the wind to propel modified surfboards at high speeds across the surface of the water.
Windsurfing is a hybrid of sailing and surfing invented by sailor Jim Drake, and surfer Hoyle Schweiter in South California in the late 1960s. Windsurfing has become a hugely popular outdoor activity, and made its first appearance at the Olympics in LA in 1984. There are many different styles of windsurfing which include ‘freestyle’, where windsurfers do tricks, ‘bump-and-jump’ in which surfers use waves to take to the air, and ‘slalom’.
Kitesurfing is an even more recent development; it has only been around since the 1980s, and is only recently becoming an established watersport. As the name of the sport suggests, kitesurfers are towed along by large kites, allowing them to pull-off incredible tricks in the air. The names of the tricks give an idea of how exciting the sport is; the ‘heart-attack’, ‘boneless’ and ‘slim chance’ are among the most exhilarating to watch.
SCUBA diving
Just as mankind has always had a desire to fly, the human race has wanted to swim under the water since prehistoric times. Pictures of primitive devices to enable people to breathe underwater have been found dating from 3000 years ago, but our dream of moving freely beneath the ocean waves for long periods of time was only realised about 60 years ago, when French diving legend Jacques Cousteau developed the first practical Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA). Since then the sport of SCUBA diving has gone from strength to strength.
Lovers of SCUBA diving rave about the feeling of weightlessness, the peace and quiet under the water, the ability to move in three dimensions and the sense of adventure they get while on a dive. SCUBA divers often travel to some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world in the search for rare underwater flora and fauna. Palau, The Red Sea, The Maldives and Hawaii have many of the most popular diving sites, but recreational divers often have to make do with less exotic local destinations, like the North Sea in Britain.
SCUBA diving is not without its dangers, however. The mixture of nitrogen and oxygen divers breathe underwater, combined with the pressure under the water can be deadly if a diver rises too quickly to the surface, causing a condition called ‘the bends’. Divers can also get lost or trapped when diving on wrecks, and fatalities are particularly common in cave diving, where divers add to the dangers of diving by swimming through underground caves filled with water. Diving can also be harmful to the underwater environment – in the past irresponsible divers have caused a great deal of damage to coral reefs. However with proper precautions diving can open up a whole new world, far from the stresses of daily life.
So what are you waiting for? Get your wetsuit on, strap your board to the roof rack, throw your SCUBA gear in the boot and head for the beach. I’ll see you there.
Glossary
contemporary (adj): existing or happening now.
coral reef (n): a bank of coral, the top of which can sometimes be seen just above the
sea.device (n): an object or machine which has been invented to fulfill a particular purpose.
establish (v) (established adj): to cause to be accepted in or familiar with a place, position, etc.
exhilarating (adj): making you feel very excited and happy.
fatality (n): a death caused by an accident or by violence, or someone who has died in either of these ways.
fibreglass UK, US fiberglass (n): a strong light material made by twisting together small fibres of glass and plastic, used especially for structures such as cars and boats.
flora and fauna (n): the flora and fauna of a place are its plants and animals.
hybrid (n): a plant or animal that has been produced from two different types of plant or animal, especially to get better characteristics, or anything that is a mixture of two very different things.
modify (v): to change something such as a plan, opinion, law or way of behaviour slightly, usually to improve it or make it more acceptable.
precaution (n): an action which is done to prevent something unpleasant or dangerous happening.
prehistoric (adj): describing the period before there were written records.
primitive (adj): relating to human society at a very early stage of development, with people living in a simple way without machines or a writing system.
propel (n): to push or move something somewhere, often with a lot of force.
rave (v): to praise something greatly.royalty (n): the people who belong to the family of a king and queen.
slalom (n): a race for people on skis or in canoes (= long light narrow boats) in which they have to follow a route that bends in and out between poles.
tow (v): to pull a car, boat, etc. along, using a rope or a chain attached to another vehicle or boat.
wetsuit (n): a piece of clothing covering the whole body that keeps you warm and dry when you are under water.
Goodbye Great Auk
by John Kuti
In those days, people still lived on the islands of Saint Kilda. Two men from the village went out on the rock. They found a big strange bird. It was sleeping. They decided to bring it home to the village.
Far out into the ocean to the north and west of Britain are the cold wild islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. They make a line of beautiful beaches 150 miles long. Further west is the small group of islands called Saint Kilda. They are cold and wild too, but without beaches. The islands are tall volcanic rocks hundreds of metres high.
For thousands of years, people lived on these islands. In 1930 the last people, there were only 36 of them, had a meeting and decided to leave. The biggest island in the group is called Hirta. Sheep still live there without any people. When you arrive by boat, you see very tall black rocks all around. Some big rocks make their own small islands. This true story happened on the tallest of the rocks – “Stac An Armin” in 1840.
In those days, people still lived on the islands of Saint Kilda. Their stone houses were all in one village by the ocean at the bottom of a tall dark hill. The houses only had one room – for people and sheep, which used to live with them in the winter and spring. Two men from the village, McDonald and McKinnon, were on the rock. It was their work to collect birds – some for food, some to make shoes or hats with. Some dead birds they put in the earth to help their vegetables grow. They found one strange big bird. It was sleeping. They decided to bring it home to the village.
I think people in the village were interested in the bird. We now know that this was a Great Auk, a kind of swimming bird that lived in many parts of the North Atlantic. It was big and strong and had a loud cry. They began to talk with the other people in the village about what they should do with it. After two days, the weather got worse and then there was a terrible storm. The people in the village decided that this was because of the bird and they killed it. This was the last example of the Great Auk in Britain. Four years later, the last Great Auk in the world died in Iceland.
We know the Great Auk died out because of people. But where did the people of Saint Kilda go? This is more difficult to explain. Some say that they were bored living on the island so far from modern cities. Other people think that the problem was tourists, who began to visit Saint Kilda at the end of the 19th century. A new theory says that using too many dead birds as fertilizer made their food unhealthy. I think it was a mistake to kill the auk.
Goodbye Great Auk
by John Kuti
In those days, people still lived on the islands of Saint Kilda. Two men from the village went out on the rock. They found a big strange bird. It was sleeping. They decided to bring it home to the village.
Far out into the ocean to the north and west of Britain are the cold wild islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. They make a line of beautiful beaches 150 miles long. Further west is the small group of islands called Saint Kilda. They are cold and wild too, but without beaches. The islands are tall volcanic rocks hundreds of metres high.
For thousands of years, people lived on these islands. In 1930 the last people, there were only 36 of them, had a meeting and decided to leave. The biggest island in the group is called Hirta. Sheep still live there without any people. When you arrive by boat, you see very tall black rocks all around. Some big rocks make their own small islands. This true story happened on the tallest of the rocks – “Stac An Armin” in 1840.
In those days, people still lived on the islands of Saint Kilda. Their stone houses were all in one village by the ocean at the bottom of a tall dark hill. The houses only had one room – for people and sheep, which used to live with them in the winter and spring. Two men from the village, McDonald and McKinnon, were on the rock. It was their work to collect birds – some for food, some to make shoes or hats with. Some dead birds they put in the earth to help their vegetables grow. They found one strange big bird. It was sleeping. They decided to bring it home to the village.
I think people in the village were interested in the bird. We now know that this was a Great Auk, a kind of swimming bird that lived in many parts of the North Atlantic. It was big and strong and had a loud cry. They began to talk with the other people in the village about what they should do with it. After two days, the weather got worse and then there was a terrible storm. The people in the village decided that this was because of the bird and they killed it. This was the last example of the Great Auk in Britain. Four years later, the last Great Auk in the world died in Iceland.
We know the Great Auk died out because of people. But where did the people of Saint Kilda go? This is more difficult to explain. Some say that they were bored living on the island so far from modern cities. Other people think that the problem was tourists, who began to visit Saint Kilda at the end of the 19th century. A new theory says that using too many dead birds as fertilizer made their food unhealthy. I think it was a mistake to kill the auk.
Goodbye Great Auk
by John Kuti
In those days, people still lived on the islands of Saint Kilda. Two men from the village went out on the rock. They found a big strange bird. It was sleeping. They decided to bring it home to the village.
Far out into the ocean to the north and west of Britain are the cold wild islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. They make a line of beautiful beaches 150 miles long. Further west is the small group of islands called Saint Kilda. They are cold and wild too, but without beaches. The islands are tall volcanic rocks hundreds of metres high.
For thousands of years, people lived on these islands. In 1930 the last people, there were only 36 of them, had a meeting and decided to leave. The biggest island in the group is called Hirta. Sheep still live there without any people. When you arrive by boat, you see very tall black rocks all around. Some big rocks make their own small islands. This true story happened on the tallest of the rocks – “Stac An Armin” in 1840.
In those days, people still lived on the islands of Saint Kilda. Their stone houses were all in one village by the ocean at the bottom of a tall dark hill. The houses only had one room – for people and sheep, which used to live with them in the winter and spring. Two men from the village, McDonald and McKinnon, were on the rock. It was their work to collect birds – some for food, some to make shoes or hats with. Some dead birds they put in the earth to help their vegetables grow. They found one strange big bird. It was sleeping. They decided to bring it home to the village.
I think people in the village were interested in the bird. We now know that this was a Great Auk, a kind of swimming bird that lived in many parts of the North Atlantic. It was big and strong and had a loud cry. They began to talk with the other people in the village about what they should do with it. After two days, the weather got worse and then there was a terrible storm. The people in the village decided that this was because of the bird and they killed it. This was the last example of the Great Auk in Britain. Four years later, the last Great Auk in the world died in Iceland.
We know the Great Auk died out because of people. But where did the people of Saint Kilda go? This is more difficult to explain. Some say that they were bored living on the island so far from modern cities. Other people think that the problem was tourists, who began to visit Saint Kilda at the end of the 19th century. A new theory says that using too many dead birds as fertilizer made their food unhealthy. I think it was a mistake to kill the auk.
Goodbye Great Auk
by John Kuti
In those days, people still lived on the islands of Saint Kilda. Two men from the village went out on the rock. They found a big strange bird. It was sleeping. They decided to bring it home to the village.
Far out into the ocean to the north and west of Britain are the cold wild islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. They make a line of beautiful beaches 150 miles long. Further west is the small group of islands called Saint Kilda. They are cold and wild too, but without beaches. The islands are tall volcanic rocks hundreds of metres high.
For thousands of years, people lived on these islands. In 1930 the last people, there were only 36 of them, had a meeting and decided to leave. The biggest island in the group is called Hirta. Sheep still live there without any people. When you arrive by boat, you see very tall black rocks all around. Some big rocks make their own small islands. This true story happened on the tallest of the rocks – “Stac An Armin” in 1840.
In those days, people still lived on the islands of Saint Kilda. Their stone houses were all in one village by the ocean at the bottom of a tall dark hill. The houses only had one room – for people and sheep, which used to live with them in the winter and spring. Two men from the village, McDonald and McKinnon, were on the rock. It was their work to collect birds – some for food, some to make shoes or hats with. Some dead birds they put in the earth to help their vegetables grow. They found one strange big bird. It was sleeping. They decided to bring it home to the village.
I think people in the village were interested in the bird. We now know that this was a Great Auk, a kind of swimming bird that lived in many parts of the North Atlantic. It was big and strong and had a loud cry. They began to talk with the other people in the village about what they should do with it. After two days, the weather got worse and then there was a terrible storm. The people in the village decided that this was because of the bird and they killed it. This was the last example of the Great Auk in Britain. Four years later, the last Great Auk in the world died in Iceland.
We know the Great Auk died out because of people. But where did the people of Saint Kilda go? This is more difficult to explain. Some say that they were bored living on the island so far from modern cities. Other people think that the problem was tourists, who began to visit Saint Kilda at the end of the 19th century. A new theory says that using too many dead birds as fertilizer made their food unhealthy. I think it was a mistake to kill the auk.
Wales and St. David
by John Russell
Gwnewch y pethau bychain -Do the little things (that you have seen me do and heard about)
(Famous saying by St. David)
March 1st is St. David's Day. In this article we look at who St. David was, and the country of his birth over 14 centuries after he lived - the great country of Wales - Cymru in Welsh.
Who was St. David?
St. David (Dewi Sant in the Welsh language) was the grandson of Ceredig, King of Ceredigion and son of Non, who was said to be King Arthur’s niece. In his life he was a Celtic monk who helped to spread Christianity through the West of Britain. He founded many religious centres in Wales and even travelled on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he was made an Archbishop.
Why was he famous?
He and his followers were famous for being ascetics – which meant they abstained from any pleasures to help make themselves closer to God. He was given the name Dewi Ddyfrwr (David the Water Drinker) because of this – it was said that he only ate simple food and drank only water all his life. Although he lived in the 6th Century most stories about him were written over 500 years later. One famous story describes when he was speaking to a large crowd in Llandewi Brefi and he made the ground rise up so everyone could see him.
Where was he buried?
He was made a saint in 1123 and St. David’s day has been celebrated in Wales since this point. St. David is the patron Saint of Wales and the monastery he founded in Glyn Rhosyn is now the site of Saint David’s Cathedral (in the modern City of St. David’s), which was begun in 1181. Bones found in the Cathedral recently are thought by some to be those of the Saint.
Are there other Welsh icons?
Wales has many historical stories and traditions; the legend of St. David; the original Celtic tribes; even King Arthur and Merlin are linked to the history of Wales. The Welsh language is also one of the oldest languages in Europe; some people claim it is the true language of the Britons, as it existed in Britain long before the Romans arrived.
Is Wales only famous for its history and tradition?
Although the leek and daffodil (traditional national vegetables and flowers) are both linked with Wales and the Welsh celebrate St. David’s Day every year, it is not a country set in the past. Wales is a country that celebrates its past but looks to the future. Education, Sport, and Tourism are just three important aspects of modern Wales and after the creation of a National Assembly for Wales in 1999 the country’s international reputation is growing.
Education
Some of the best educational centres in the UK can be found in Wales. With over fourteen Universities and Higher Education Institutes students can study many different subjects: from Business Management at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth, to Japanese Business Etiquette at the University of Cardiff. The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is one of the UK’s leading centres for students wishing to follow a career in the performing arts. Future doctors, dentists and nurses can study at the University Of Wales College Of Medicine – based at the third largest hospital in the UK in Cardiff. A large number of students at Welsh Universities are also from overseas.
Sport
Ever since the first match was played in 1850, rugby has been associated with the country and the Welsh national team is one of the best in the world. One recent development was the building of a new national stadium, the Millennium Stadium, which can seat over 72,000 people. Athletics, football, cricket, angling and many other sports are also very important and popular across the country. The Ryder cup, a famous golfing competition, is being played in Wales in 2010.
Tourism
Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Wales every year for its countryside, historic buildings or its famous cities. If you enjoy the outdoors, Wales has over 700 miles of beautiful coastline, or you can go climbing in Snowdonia or in the Brecon Beacons. If you are interested in history, there are many castles in Wales - one special castle in Llangollen in the north, is said to be the resting place of the Holy Grail. From the large cities of Cardiff or Swansea, to the seaside towns of Llandudno or Prestatyn, there is something for everyone - even an entire Italian style village built in Portmeirion in Gwynedd.
Why don’t you find out more about the country of St. David? Maybe you could come and see it for yourself!
Wales and St. David
by John Russell
Gwnewch y pethau bychain -Do the little things (that you have seen me do and heard about)
(Famous saying by St. David)
March 1st is St. David's Day. In this article we look at who St. David was, and the country of his birth over 14 centuries after he lived - the great country of Wales - Cymru in Welsh.
Who was St. David?
St. David (Dewi Sant in the Welsh language) was the grandson of Ceredig, King of Ceredigion and son of Non, who was said to be King Arthur’s niece. In his life he was a Celtic monk who helped to spread Christianity through the West of Britain. He founded many religious centres in Wales and even travelled on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he was made an Archbishop.
Why was he famous?
He and his followers were famous for being ascetics – which meant they abstained from any pleasures to help make themselves closer to God. He was given the name Dewi Ddyfrwr (David the Water Drinker) because of this – it was said that he only ate simple food and drank only water all his life. Although he lived in the 6th Century most stories about him were written over 500 years later. One famous story describes when he was speaking to a large crowd in Llandewi Brefi and he made the ground rise up so everyone could see him.
Where was he buried?
He was made a saint in 1123 and St. David’s day has been celebrated in Wales since this point. St. David is the patron Saint of Wales and the monastery he founded in Glyn Rhosyn is now the site of Saint David’s Cathedral (in the modern City of St. David’s), which was begun in 1181. Bones found in the Cathedral recently are thought by some to be those of the Saint.
Are there other Welsh icons?
Wales has many historical stories and traditions; the legend of St. David; the original Celtic tribes; even King Arthur and Merlin are linked to the history of Wales. The Welsh language is also one of the oldest languages in Europe; some people claim it is the true language of the Britons, as it existed in Britain long before the Romans arrived.
Is Wales only famous for its history and tradition?
Although the leek and daffodil (traditional national vegetables and flowers) are both linked with Wales and the Welsh celebrate St. David’s Day every year, it is not a country set in the past. Wales is a country that celebrates its past but looks to the future. Education, Sport, and Tourism are just three important aspects of modern Wales and after the creation of a National Assembly for Wales in 1999 the country’s international reputation is growing.
Education
Some of the best educational centres in the UK can be found in Wales. With over fourteen Universities and Higher Education Institutes students can study many different subjects: from Business Management at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth, to Japanese Business Etiquette at the University of Cardiff. The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is one of the UK’s leading centres for students wishing to follow a career in the performing arts. Future doctors, dentists and nurses can study at the University Of Wales College Of Medicine – based at the third largest hospital in the UK in Cardiff. A large number of students at Welsh Universities are also from overseas.
Sport
Ever since the first match was played in 1850, rugby has been associated with the country and the Welsh national team is one of the best in the world. One recent development was the building of a new national stadium, the Millennium Stadium, which can seat over 72,000 people. Athletics, football, cricket, angling and many other sports are also very important and popular across the country. The Ryder cup, a famous golfing competition, is being played in Wales in 2010.
Tourism
Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Wales every year for its countryside, historic buildings or its famous cities. If you enjoy the outdoors, Wales has over 700 miles of beautiful coastline, or you can go climbing in Snowdonia or in the Brecon Beacons. If you are interested in history, there are many castles in Wales - one special castle in Llangollen in the north, is said to be the resting place of the Holy Grail. From the large cities of Cardiff or Swansea, to the seaside towns of Llandudno or Prestatyn, there is something for everyone - even an entire Italian style village built in Portmeirion in Gwynedd.
Why don’t you find out more about the country of St. David? Maybe you could come and see it for yourself!
New Zealand: two islands where old meets new
By Claire Powell
Talking to friends from New Zealand while writing this article confirmed New Zealand’s place at the top of my ‘Must Visit’ list! Tucked away in the Pacific Ocean, here the sun seems to slip more slowly across the sky, perhaps thanks to Maui, a legendary Maori demi-god, whose magic fishing net caught the sun, allowing Maui to ask it to make the days longer.
The first New Zealanders were the Maoris, who travelled there by boat about ten thousand years ago. Maori legend has it that Maui magically fished New Zealand’s north island up out of the sea. The south island was his canoe. When you look at a map of the north island, it looks like a fish.
With Maui were his brothers, who promised to stay on the canoe while Maui dived down into the sea to thank the gods for his discovery. While waiting, the brothers got greedy, and started trying to divide up the land by beating the fish. When Maui came up and stopped them, the fish had changed shape – which is how the north island got its valleys and mountains.
‘New Zealand’ in Maori is ‘He Aoteroa’ which means ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. When the Maoris travelled by boat to the islands, they crossed what must have seemed like a never-ending ocean. The first thing they saw for a long time was a long white cloud on the horizon, over New Zealand, hence the name.
Centuries later, Europeans arrived. Unfortunately, the relationship between these settlers and the Maoris was difficult. In 1840, the British and the Maoris signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which detailed land and fishing rights. Poorly translated into Maori, the Treaty was misinterpreted, often unfairly for the Maoris.
In 1975, the government established the Waitangi Tribunal, to clarify the Treaty and honour it as a relevant and living document. Now the New Zealand government has a large Maori representation, and Maori rights have been recovered.
A few years ago, in the north island, a road was being built. Maoris objected to the road going through a lake, where there was a ‘taniwha’ (a legendary water monster). The government bent the road around the lake, preserving not only the ‘taniwha’ but also a stunning natural area.
Traditionally community-minded, Maoris lived close together, with extended family living nearby. Now, many Maoris are again buying houses together to recreate these communities. The houses may not be old, but they are decorated with traditional paintings and carvings, and in front of the ‘marae’ (meeting house) is a space where visitors can be welcomed into the house traditionally.
A visitor is ‘sung’ onto the ‘marae’, clearing a spiritual pathway for a peaceful meeting between host and guest. The Maori greeting is a ‘hongi’, where, as well as holding hands, you press noses together – meaning you share breath, and, if your foreheads are also pressed together, you share minds as well.
New Zealand is a very developed, industrialised country, where western and Maori cultures and peoples have integrated so much that Maori traditions were in danger of dying out.
Both Maoris and non-Maoris realised the importance of preserving Maori culture. Maoris began re-teaching their children traditional Maori crafts. Recently, Maori language became a core school subject. Many New Zealanders encourage this development, recognising that Maori language is an integral part of New Zealand’s culture.
The Maoris probably originated from around Japan, as the pronunciation of the Maori language is very similar to Japanese, and the Japanese can often say Maori words more convincingly than the average non-Maori New Zealander.
Interestingly, New Zealand English also has its’ own vibrant language! New Zealand slang is different to British and American slang, and even different to Australian. My favourites are ‘chilli bin’; nothing to do with spicy food, but New Zealand slang for a cool box, and ‘give it some jandal’, meaning ‘put your foot down on the accelerator and speed up’ (‘jandals’ are plastic shoes -‘flip flops’ in the UK and ‘thongs’ in Australia!). Now I must rattle my dags (hurry up) because today I’m off tramping (walking) in the bush (countryside). See you later! And in Maori – Aroha nui!
New Zealand: two islands where old meets new
By Claire Powell
Talking to friends from New Zealand while writing this article confirmed New Zealand’s place at the top of my ‘Must Visit’ list! Tucked away in the Pacific Ocean, here the sun seems to slip more slowly across the sky, perhaps thanks to Maui, a legendary Maori demi-god, whose magic fishing net caught the sun, allowing Maui to ask it to make the days longer.
The first New Zealanders were the Maoris, who travelled there by boat about ten thousand years ago. Maori legend has it that Maui magically fished New Zealand’s north island up out of the sea. The south island was his canoe. When you look at a map of the north island, it looks like a fish.
With Maui were his brothers, who promised to stay on the canoe while Maui dived down into the sea to thank the gods for his discovery. While waiting, the brothers got greedy, and started trying to divide up the land by beating the fish. When Maui came up and stopped them, the fish had changed shape – which is how the north island got its valleys and mountains.
‘New Zealand’ in Maori is ‘He Aoteroa’ which means ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. When the Maoris travelled by boat to the islands, they crossed what must have seemed like a never-ending ocean. The first thing they saw for a long time was a long white cloud on the horizon, over New Zealand, hence the name.
Centuries later, Europeans arrived. Unfortunately, the relationship between these settlers and the Maoris was difficult. In 1840, the British and the Maoris signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which detailed land and fishing rights. Poorly translated into Maori, the Treaty was misinterpreted, often unfairly for the Maoris.
In 1975, the government established the Waitangi Tribunal, to clarify the Treaty and honour it as a relevant and living document. Now the New Zealand government has a large Maori representation, and Maori rights have been recovered.
A few years ago, in the north island, a road was being built. Maoris objected to the road going through a lake, where there was a ‘taniwha’ (a legendary water monster). The government bent the road around the lake, preserving not only the ‘taniwha’ but also a stunning natural area.
Traditionally community-minded, Maoris lived close together, with extended family living nearby. Now, many Maoris are again buying houses together to recreate these communities. The houses may not be old, but they are decorated with traditional paintings and carvings, and in front of the ‘marae’ (meeting house) is a space where visitors can be welcomed into the house traditionally.
A visitor is ‘sung’ onto the ‘marae’, clearing a spiritual pathway for a peaceful meeting between host and guest. The Maori greeting is a ‘hongi’, where, as well as holding hands, you press noses together – meaning you share breath, and, if your foreheads are also pressed together, you share minds as well.
New Zealand is a very developed, industrialised country, where western and Maori cultures and peoples have integrated so much that Maori traditions were in danger of dying out.
Both Maoris and non-Maoris realised the importance of preserving Maori culture. Maoris began re-teaching their children traditional Maori crafts. Recently, Maori language became a core school subject. Many New Zealanders encourage this development, recognising that Maori language is an integral part of New Zealand’s culture.
The Maoris probably originated from around Japan, as the pronunciation of the Maori language is very similar to Japanese, and the Japanese can often say Maori words more convincingly than the average non-Maori New Zealander.
Interestingly, New Zealand English also has its’ own vibrant language! New Zealand slang is different to British and American slang, and even different to Australian. My favourites are ‘chilli bin’; nothing to do with spicy food, but New Zealand slang for a cool box, and ‘give it some jandal’, meaning ‘put your foot down on the accelerator and speed up’ (‘jandals’ are plastic shoes -‘flip flops’ in the UK and ‘thongs’ in Australia!). Now I must rattle my dags (hurry up) because today I’m off tramping (walking) in the bush (countryside). See you later! And in Maori – Aroha nui!
New Zealand: two islands where old meets new
By Claire Powell
Talking to friends from New Zealand while writing this article confirmed New Zealand’s place at the top of my ‘Must Visit’ list! Tucked away in the Pacific Ocean, here the sun seems to slip more slowly across the sky, perhaps thanks to Maui, a legendary Maori demi-god, whose magic fishing net caught the sun, allowing Maui to ask it to make the days longer.
The first New Zealanders were the Maoris, who travelled there by boat about ten thousand years ago. Maori legend has it that Maui magically fished New Zealand’s north island up out of the sea. The south island was his canoe. When you look at a map of the north island, it looks like a fish.
With Maui were his brothers, who promised to stay on the canoe while Maui dived down into the sea to thank the gods for his discovery. While waiting, the brothers got greedy, and started trying to divide up the land by beating the fish. When Maui came up and stopped them, the fish had changed shape – which is how the north island got its valleys and mountains.
‘New Zealand’ in Maori is ‘He Aoteroa’ which means ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. When the Maoris travelled by boat to the islands, they crossed what must have seemed like a never-ending ocean. The first thing they saw for a long time was a long white cloud on the horizon, over New Zealand, hence the name.
Centuries later, Europeans arrived. Unfortunately, the relationship between these settlers and the Maoris was difficult. In 1840, the British and the Maoris signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which detailed land and fishing rights. Poorly translated into Maori, the Treaty was misinterpreted, often unfairly for the Maoris.
In 1975, the government established the Waitangi Tribunal, to clarify the Treaty and honour it as a relevant and living document. Now the New Zealand government has a large Maori representation, and Maori rights have been recovered.
A few years ago, in the north island, a road was being built. Maoris objected to the road going through a lake, where there was a ‘taniwha’ (a legendary water monster). The government bent the road around the lake, preserving not only the ‘taniwha’ but also a stunning natural area.
Traditionally community-minded, Maoris lived close together, with extended family living nearby. Now, many Maoris are again buying houses together to recreate these communities. The houses may not be old, but they are decorated with traditional paintings and carvings, and in front of the ‘marae’ (meeting house) is a space where visitors can be welcomed into the house traditionally.
A visitor is ‘sung’ onto the ‘marae’, clearing a spiritual pathway for a peaceful meeting between host and guest. The Maori greeting is a ‘hongi’, where, as well as holding hands, you press noses together – meaning you share breath, and, if your foreheads are also pressed together, you share minds as well.
New Zealand is a very developed, industrialised country, where western and Maori cultures and peoples have integrated so much that Maori traditions were in danger of dying out.
Both Maoris and non-Maoris realised the importance of preserving Maori culture. Maoris began re-teaching their children traditional Maori crafts. Recently, Maori language became a core school subject. Many New Zealanders encourage this development, recognising that Maori language is an integral part of New Zealand’s culture.
The Maoris probably originated from around Japan, as the pronunciation of the Maori language is very similar to Japanese, and the Japanese can often say Maori words more convincingly than the average non-Maori New Zealander.
Interestingly, New Zealand English also has its’ own vibrant language! New Zealand slang is different to British and American slang, and even different to Australian. My favourites are ‘chilli bin’; nothing to do with spicy food, but New Zealand slang for a cool box, and ‘give it some jandal’, meaning ‘put your foot down on the accelerator and speed up’ (‘jandals’ are plastic shoes -‘flip flops’ in the UK and ‘thongs’ in Australia!). Now I must rattle my dags (hurry up) because today I’m off tramping (walking) in the bush (countryside). See you later! And in Maori – Aroha nui!
New Zealand: two islands where old meets new
By Claire Powell
Talking to friends from New Zealand while writing this article confirmed New Zealand’s place at the top of my ‘Must Visit’ list! Tucked away in the Pacific Ocean, here the sun seems to slip more slowly across the sky, perhaps thanks to Maui, a legendary Maori demi-god, whose magic fishing net caught the sun, allowing Maui to ask it to make the days longer.
The first New Zealanders were the Maoris, who travelled there by boat about ten thousand years ago. Maori legend has it that Maui magically fished New Zealand’s north island up out of the sea. The south island was his canoe. When you look at a map of the north island, it looks like a fish.
With Maui were his brothers, who promised to stay on the canoe while Maui dived down into the sea to thank the gods for his discovery. While waiting, the brothers got greedy, and started trying to divide up the land by beating the fish. When Maui came up and stopped them, the fish had changed shape – which is how the north island got its valleys and mountains.
‘New Zealand’ in Maori is ‘He Aoteroa’ which means ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. When the Maoris travelled by boat to the islands, they crossed what must have seemed like a never-ending ocean. The first thing they saw for a long time was a long white cloud on the horizon, over New Zealand, hence the name.
Centuries later, Europeans arrived. Unfortunately, the relationship between these settlers and the Maoris was difficult. In 1840, the British and the Maoris signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which detailed land and fishing rights. Poorly translated into Maori, the Treaty was misinterpreted, often unfairly for the Maoris.
In 1975, the government established the Waitangi Tribunal, to clarify the Treaty and honour it as a relevant and living document. Now the New Zealand government has a large Maori representation, and Maori rights have been recovered.
A few years ago, in the north island, a road was being built. Maoris objected to the road going through a lake, where there was a ‘taniwha’ (a legendary water monster). The government bent the road around the lake, preserving not only the ‘taniwha’ but also a stunning natural area.
Traditionally community-minded, Maoris lived close together, with extended family living nearby. Now, many Maoris are again buying houses together to recreate these communities. The houses may not be old, but they are decorated with traditional paintings and carvings, and in front of the ‘marae’ (meeting house) is a space where visitors can be welcomed into the house traditionally.
A visitor is ‘sung’ onto the ‘marae’, clearing a spiritual pathway for a peaceful meeting between host and guest. The Maori greeting is a ‘hongi’, where, as well as holding hands, you press noses together – meaning you share breath, and, if your foreheads are also pressed together, you share minds as well.
New Zealand is a very developed, industrialised country, where western and Maori cultures and peoples have integrated so much that Maori traditions were in danger of dying out.
Both Maoris and non-Maoris realised the importance of preserving Maori culture. Maoris began re-teaching their children traditional Maori crafts. Recently, Maori language became a core school subject. Many New Zealanders encourage this development, recognising that Maori language is an integral part of New Zealand’s culture.
The Maoris probably originated from around Japan, as the pronunciation of the Maori language is very similar to Japanese, and the Japanese can often say Maori words more convincingly than the average non-Maori New Zealander.
Interestingly, New Zealand English also has its’ own vibrant language! New Zealand slang is different to British and American slang, and even different to Australian. My favourites are ‘chilli bin’; nothing to do with spicy food, but New Zealand slang for a cool box, and ‘give it some jandal’, meaning ‘put your foot down on the accelerator and speed up’ (‘jandals’ are plastic shoes -‘flip flops’ in the UK and ‘thongs’ in Australia!). Now I must rattle my dags (hurry up) because today I’m off tramping (walking) in the bush (countryside). See you later! And in Maori – Aroha nui!
New Zealand: two islands where old meets new
By Claire Powell
Talking to friends from New Zealand while writing this article confirmed New Zealand’s place at the top of my ‘Must Visit’ list! Tucked away in the Pacific Ocean, here the sun seems to slip more slowly across the sky, perhaps thanks to Maui, a legendary Maori demi-god, whose magic fishing net caught the sun, allowing Maui to ask it to make the days longer.
The first New Zealanders were the Maoris, who travelled there by boat about ten thousand years ago. Maori legend has it that Maui magically fished New Zealand’s north island up out of the sea. The south island was his canoe. When you look at a map of the north island, it looks like a fish.
With Maui were his brothers, who promised to stay on the canoe while Maui dived down into the sea to thank the gods for his discovery. While waiting, the brothers got greedy, and started trying to divide up the land by beating the fish. When Maui came up and stopped them, the fish had changed shape – which is how the north island got its valleys and mountains.
‘New Zealand’ in Maori is ‘He Aoteroa’ which means ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. When the Maoris travelled by boat to the islands, they crossed what must have seemed like a never-ending ocean. The first thing they saw for a long time was a long white cloud on the horizon, over New Zealand, hence the name.
Centuries later, Europeans arrived. Unfortunately, the relationship between these settlers and the Maoris was difficult. In 1840, the British and the Maoris signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which detailed land and fishing rights. Poorly translated into Maori, the Treaty was misinterpreted, often unfairly for the Maoris.
In 1975, the government established the Waitangi Tribunal, to clarify the Treaty and honour it as a relevant and living document. Now the New Zealand government has a large Maori representation, and Maori rights have been recovered.
A few years ago, in the north island, a road was being built. Maoris objected to the road going through a lake, where there was a ‘taniwha’ (a legendary water monster). The government bent the road around the lake, preserving not only the ‘taniwha’ but also a stunning natural area.
Traditionally community-minded, Maoris lived close together, with extended family living nearby. Now, many Maoris are again buying houses together to recreate these communities. The houses may not be old, but they are decorated with traditional paintings and carvings, and in front of the ‘marae’ (meeting house) is a space where visitors can be welcomed into the house traditionally.
A visitor is ‘sung’ onto the ‘marae’, clearing a spiritual pathway for a peaceful meeting between host and guest. The Maori greeting is a ‘hongi’, where, as well as holding hands, you press noses together – meaning you share breath, and, if your foreheads are also pressed together, you share minds as well.
New Zealand is a very developed, industrialised country, where western and Maori cultures and peoples have integrated so much that Maori traditions were in danger of dying out.
Both Maoris and non-Maoris realised the importance of preserving Maori culture. Maoris began re-teaching their children traditional Maori crafts. Recently, Maori language became a core school subject. Many New Zealanders encourage this development, recognising that Maori language is an integral part of New Zealand’s culture.
The Maoris probably originated from around Japan, as the pronunciation of the Maori language is very similar to Japanese, and the Japanese can often say Maori words more convincingly than the average non-Maori New Zealander.
Interestingly, New Zealand English also has its’ own vibrant language! New Zealand slang is different to British and American slang, and even different to Australian. My favourites are ‘chilli bin’; nothing to do with spicy food, but New Zealand slang for a cool box, and ‘give it some jandal’, meaning ‘put your foot down on the accelerator and speed up’ (‘jandals’ are plastic shoes -‘flip flops’ in the UK and ‘thongs’ in Australia!). Now I must rattle my dags (hurry up) because today I’m off tramping (walking) in the bush (countryside). See you later! And in Maori – Aroha nui!
The Olympic Games - then and now
by Craig Duncan
In 2004 the Olympic Games returned to its home in Greece, where it began around 3000 years ago. The first recorded Olympic festival took place in 776 BC. Similar festivals had been organised for at least two or three centuries prior to this, but 776 BC saw the start of a regular festival which was to take place every Olympiad, or four year period.
In ancient Greece citizens of different city states could not always travel freely around the country, but during the Olympics the various rulers agreed truces so as that their citizens could attend the Olympics without problems. Sport was only one part of the festival; there were also ritual sacrifices, poetry readings, exhibitions of sculpture and trade fairs. It was a festival which celebrated on the one hand the Greek gods, and on the other hand the abilities of the Greek people.
The early athletic competitions were only running races, but later other sports such as boxing and wrestling came to be included. It was not simply a matter of professional athletes arriving and entering the competitions; for one thing, there were no professional athletes! All the competitors were ordinary Greek citizens who felt that they were among the best in their chosen sports. Anyone wishing to compete had to arrive four weeks early, and undergo a full month of training. It wasn’t only physical training, either: would-be competitors had to prove that they were morally and spiritually suitable to compete. Even if someone was physically fit enough, they couldn’t compete unless the judges thought they were of the right moral fibre. Curiously, all sportsmen competed nude – it was widely believed that wearing clothes slowed an athlete down!
At the start of the games, every competitor had to swear an oath that they were a free citizen of Greece who had committed no sacrilege against the gods. In today’s Olympics, one athlete takes an oath on behalf of all the competitors, although of course it is a little different to the ancient Greek oath. Today, competitors promise that they shall abide by the rules of the games, will act in an honourable and sportsmanlike manner, and not use any performance-enhancing drugs. Cheating, though, is almost as old as the games itself: records of the ancient Greek games are riddled with tales of athletes paying off their competitors, and of boxers fixing the results of their fights. In ancient Greece, though, there weren’t many ways an athlete could cheat in a race: maybe take a shortcut, or borrow a horse.
By the time of the St Louis Olympics in 1904, more modern means were available. The original “winner” of the 1904 Olympic marathon, Fred Lorz, was disqualified after it was revealed that he had travelled half the distance in a car. The man later declared the official winner, Thomas Hicks, wasn’t much better: he was carried across the finishing line by two of his trainers. Hicks’s trainers had tried to enhance his running ability by feeding him a mix of egg whites, strychnine and brandy. This early attempt at a performance-enhancing drug was rather unsuccessful, as it left Hicks drunk and incapable. The trick of having two men carrying him, though, seems to have worked.
The motivation for cheating hasn’t changed much at all. Today, athletes compete primarily for the honour of being awarded a gold medal, but also for the enormous amounts of lucrative corporate sponsorship bestowed upon top sportspeople. Similarly, while ancient Greek athletes were officially only competing for the honour of being awarded a symbolic olive branch, winners were usually sponsored by their city state, receiving a large sum of money, or a new home, or a lengthy tax holiday.
As mentioned earlier, the connection between sport and business hasn’t changed much. Even in the earliest Olympics, sporting competition went alongside trade fairs and business deals. This was acknowledged in 19th century Greece when the first modern attempts were made to revive the Olympics. The “Zappian Olympics”, as they became known after wealthy organiser Evangelos Zappas, were the bridge between the ancient and modern Olympics, and took place in Greece between 1859 and 1875. It was the first real international sporting competition, but officially it was about far more than sport. Greek politicians of the time felt that nations were no longer competing primarily in sport, but in agriculture and manufacturing. It was decided, then, that these new Olympics ought to be as much about competing in industry as in sport. The sports events were highly popular, but in terms of funding and regularity were of a lower priority than the commercial side, which concentrated on the demonstration of agricultural and industrial inventions.
However, the sporting side of the games were hugely popular with the public, and the level of support meant that, in Athens in 1896, the Olympics as we know them began. Despite the occasional shambles of the sort we saw in St Louis in 1904, it has continued from strength to strength since then.
The Olympic Games - then and now
by Craig Duncan
In 2004 the Olympic Games returned to its home in Greece, where it began around 3000 years ago. The first recorded Olympic festival took place in 776 BC. Similar festivals had been organised for at least two or three centuries prior to this, but 776 BC saw the start of a regular festival which was to take place every Olympiad, or four year period.
In ancient Greece citizens of different city states could not always travel freely around the country, but during the Olympics the various rulers agreed truces so as that their citizens could attend the Olympics without problems. Sport was only one part of the festival; there were also ritual sacrifices, poetry readings, exhibitions of sculpture and trade fairs. It was a festival which celebrated on the one hand the Greek gods, and on the other hand the abilities of the Greek people.
The early athletic competitions were only running races, but later other sports such as boxing and wrestling came to be included. It was not simply a matter of professional athletes arriving and entering the competitions; for one thing, there were no professional athletes! All the competitors were ordinary Greek citizens who felt that they were among the best in their chosen sports. Anyone wishing to compete had to arrive four weeks early, and undergo a full month of training. It wasn’t only physical training, either: would-be competitors had to prove that they were morally and spiritually suitable to compete. Even if someone was physically fit enough, they couldn’t compete unless the judges thought they were of the right moral fibre. Curiously, all sportsmen competed nude – it was widely believed that wearing clothes slowed an athlete down!
At the start of the games, every competitor had to swear an oath that they were a free citizen of Greece who had committed no sacrilege against the gods. In today’s Olympics, one athlete takes an oath on behalf of all the competitors, although of course it is a little different to the ancient Greek oath. Today, competitors promise that they shall abide by the rules of the games, will act in an honourable and sportsmanlike manner, and not use any performance-enhancing drugs. Cheating, though, is almost as old as the games itself: records of the ancient Greek games are riddled with tales of athletes paying off their competitors, and of boxers fixing the results of their fights. In ancient Greece, though, there weren’t many ways an athlete could cheat in a race: maybe take a shortcut, or borrow a horse.
By the time of the St Louis Olympics in 1904, more modern means were available. The original “winner” of the 1904 Olympic marathon, Fred Lorz, was disqualified after it was revealed that he had travelled half the distance in a car. The man later declared the official winner, Thomas Hicks, wasn’t much better: he was carried across the finishing line by two of his trainers. Hicks’s trainers had tried to enhance his running ability by feeding him a mix of egg whites, strychnine and brandy. This early attempt at a performance-enhancing drug was rather unsuccessful, as it left Hicks drunk and incapable. The trick of having two men carrying him, though, seems to have worked.
The motivation for cheating hasn’t changed much at all. Today, athletes compete primarily for the honour of being awarded a gold medal, but also for the enormous amounts of lucrative corporate sponsorship bestowed upon top sportspeople. Similarly, while ancient Greek athletes were officially only competing for the honour of being awarded a symbolic olive branch, winners were usually sponsored by their city state, receiving a large sum of money, or a new home, or a lengthy tax holiday.
As mentioned earlier, the connection between sport and business hasn’t changed much. Even in the earliest Olympics, sporting competition went alongside trade fairs and business deals. This was acknowledged in 19th century Greece when the first modern attempts were made to revive the Olympics. The “Zappian Olympics”, as they became known after wealthy organiser Evangelos Zappas, were the bridge between the ancient and modern Olympics, and took place in Greece between 1859 and 1875. It was the first real international sporting competition, but officially it was about far more than sport. Greek politicians of the time felt that nations were no longer competing primarily in sport, but in agriculture and manufacturing. It was decided, then, that these new Olympics ought to be as much about competing in industry as in sport. The sports events were highly popular, but in terms of funding and regularity were of a lower priority than the commercial side, which concentrated on the demonstration of agricultural and industrial inventions.
However, the sporting side of the games were hugely popular with the public, and the level of support meant that, in Athens in 1896, the Olympics as we know them began. Despite the occasional shambles of the sort we saw in St Louis in 1904, it has continued from strength to strength since then.
The Olympic Games - then and now
by Craig Duncan
In 2004 the Olympic Games returned to its home in Greece, where it began around 3000 years ago. The first recorded Olympic festival took place in 776 BC. Similar festivals had been organised for at least two or three centuries prior to this, but 776 BC saw the start of a regular festival which was to take place every Olympiad, or four year period.
In ancient Greece citizens of different city states could not always travel freely around the country, but during the Olympics the various rulers agreed truces so as that their citizens could attend the Olympics without problems. Sport was only one part of the festival; there were also ritual sacrifices, poetry readings, exhibitions of sculpture and trade fairs. It was a festival which celebrated on the one hand the Greek gods, and on the other hand the abilities of the Greek people.
The early athletic competitions were only running races, but later other sports such as boxing and wrestling came to be included. It was not simply a matter of professional athletes arriving and entering the competitions; for one thing, there were no professional athletes! All the competitors were ordinary Greek citizens who felt that they were among the best in their chosen sports. Anyone wishing to compete had to arrive four weeks early, and undergo a full month of training. It wasn’t only physical training, either: would-be competitors had to prove that they were morally and spiritually suitable to compete. Even if someone was physically fit enough, they couldn’t compete unless the judges thought they were of the right moral fibre. Curiously, all sportsmen competed nude – it was widely believed that wearing clothes slowed an athlete down!
At the start of the games, every competitor had to swear an oath that they were a free citizen of Greece who had committed no sacrilege against the gods. In today’s Olympics, one athlete takes an oath on behalf of all the competitors, although of course it is a little different to the ancient Greek oath. Today, competitors promise that they shall abide by the rules of the games, will act in an honourable and sportsmanlike manner, and not use any performance-enhancing drugs. Cheating, though, is almost as old as the games itself: records of the ancient Greek games are riddled with tales of athletes paying off their competitors, and of boxers fixing the results of their fights. In ancient Greece, though, there weren’t many ways an athlete could cheat in a race: maybe take a shortcut, or borrow a horse.
By the time of the St Louis Olympics in 1904, more modern means were available. The original “winner” of the 1904 Olympic marathon, Fred Lorz, was disqualified after it was revealed that he had travelled half the distance in a car. The man later declared the official winner, Thomas Hicks, wasn’t much better: he was carried across the finishing line by two of his trainers. Hicks’s trainers had tried to enhance his running ability by feeding him a mix of egg whites, strychnine and brandy. This early attempt at a performance-enhancing drug was rather unsuccessful, as it left Hicks drunk and incapable. The trick of having two men carrying him, though, seems to have worked.
The motivation for cheating hasn’t changed much at all. Today, athletes compete primarily for the honour of being awarded a gold medal, but also for the enormous amounts of lucrative corporate sponsorship bestowed upon top sportspeople. Similarly, while ancient Greek athletes were officially only competing for the honour of being awarded a symbolic olive branch, winners were usually sponsored by their city state, receiving a large sum of money, or a new home, or a lengthy tax holiday.
As mentioned earlier, the connection between sport and business hasn’t changed much. Even in the earliest Olympics, sporting competition went alongside trade fairs and business deals. This was acknowledged in 19th century Greece when the first modern attempts were made to revive the Olympics. The “Zappian Olympics”, as they became known after wealthy organiser Evangelos Zappas, were the bridge between the ancient and modern Olympics, and took place in Greece between 1859 and 1875. It was the first real international sporting competition, but officially it was about far more than sport. Greek politicians of the time felt that nations were no longer competing primarily in sport, but in agriculture and manufacturing. It was decided, then, that these new Olympics ought to be as much about competing in industry as in sport. The sports events were highly popular, but in terms of funding and regularity were of a lower priority than the commercial side, which concentrated on the demonstration of agricultural and industrial inventions.
However, the sporting side of the games were hugely popular with the public, and the level of support meant that, in Athens in 1896, the Olympics as we know them began. Despite the occasional shambles of the sort we saw in St Louis in 1904, it has continued from strength to strength since then.
The Olympic Games - then and now
by Craig Duncan
In 2004 the Olympic Games returned to its home in Greece, where it began around 3000 years ago. The first recorded Olympic festival took place in 776 BC. Similar festivals had been organised for at least two or three centuries prior to this, but 776 BC saw the start of a regular festival which was to take place every Olympiad, or four year period.
In ancient Greece citizens of different city states could not always travel freely around the country, but during the Olympics the various rulers agreed truces so as that their citizens could attend the Olympics without problems. Sport was only one part of the festival; there were also ritual sacrifices, poetry readings, exhibitions of sculpture and trade fairs. It was a festival which celebrated on the one hand the Greek gods, and on the other hand the abilities of the Greek people.
The early athletic competitions were only running races, but later other sports such as boxing and wrestling came to be included. It was not simply a matter of professional athletes arriving and entering the competitions; for one thing, there were no professional athletes! All the competitors were ordinary Greek citizens who felt that they were among the best in their chosen sports. Anyone wishing to compete had to arrive four weeks early, and undergo a full month of training. It wasn’t only physical training, either: would-be competitors had to prove that they were morally and spiritually suitable to compete. Even if someone was physically fit enough, they couldn’t compete unless the judges thought they were of the right moral fibre. Curiously, all sportsmen competed nude – it was widely believed that wearing clothes slowed an athlete down!
At the start of the games, every competitor had to swear an oath that they were a free citizen of Greece who had committed no sacrilege against the gods. In today’s Olympics, one athlete takes an oath on behalf of all the competitors, although of course it is a little different to the ancient Greek oath. Today, competitors promise that they shall abide by the rules of the games, will act in an honourable and sportsmanlike manner, and not use any performance-enhancing drugs. Cheating, though, is almost as old as the games itself: records of the ancient Greek games are riddled with tales of athletes paying off their competitors, and of boxers fixing the results of their fights. In ancient Greece, though, there weren’t many ways an athlete could cheat in a race: maybe take a shortcut, or borrow a horse.
By the time of the St Louis Olympics in 1904, more modern means were available. The original “winner” of the 1904 Olympic marathon, Fred Lorz, was disqualified after it was revealed that he had travelled half the distance in a car. The man later declared the official winner, Thomas Hicks, wasn’t much better: he was carried across the finishing line by two of his trainers. Hicks’s trainers had tried to enhance his running ability by feeding him a mix of egg whites, strychnine and brandy. This early attempt at a performance-enhancing drug was rather unsuccessful, as it left Hicks drunk and incapable. The trick of having two men carrying him, though, seems to have worked.
The motivation for cheating hasn’t changed much at all. Today, athletes compete primarily for the honour of being awarded a gold medal, but also for the enormous amounts of lucrative corporate sponsorship bestowed upon top sportspeople. Similarly, while ancient Greek athletes were officially only competing for the honour of being awarded a symbolic olive branch, winners were usually sponsored by their city state, receiving a large sum of money, or a new home, or a lengthy tax holiday.
As mentioned earlier, the connection between sport and business hasn’t changed much. Even in the earliest Olympics, sporting competition went alongside trade fairs and business deals. This was acknowledged in 19th century Greece when the first modern attempts were made to revive the Olympics. The “Zappian Olympics”, as they became known after wealthy organiser Evangelos Zappas, were the bridge between the ancient and modern Olympics, and took place in Greece between 1859 and 1875. It was the first real international sporting competition, but officially it was about far more than sport. Greek politicians of the time felt that nations were no longer competing primarily in sport, but in agriculture and manufacturing. It was decided, then, that these new Olympics ought to be as much about competing in industry as in sport. The sports events were highly popular, but in terms of funding and regularity were of a lower priority than the commercial side, which concentrated on the demonstration of agricultural and industrial inventions.
However, the sporting side of the games were hugely popular with the public, and the level of support meant that, in Athens in 1896, the Olympics as we know them began. Despite the occasional shambles of the sort we saw in St Louis in 1904, it has continued from strength to strength since then.
The Olympic Games - then and now
by Craig Duncan
In 2004 the Olympic Games returned to its home in Greece, where it began around 3000 years ago. The first recorded Olympic festival took place in 776 BC. Similar festivals had been organised for at least two or three centuries prior to this, but 776 BC saw the start of a regular festival which was to take place every Olympiad, or four year period.
In ancient Greece citizens of different city states could not always travel freely around the country, but during the Olympics the various rulers agreed truces so as that their citizens could attend the Olympics without problems. Sport was only one part of the festival; there were also ritual sacrifices, poetry readings, exhibitions of sculpture and trade fairs. It was a festival which celebrated on the one hand the Greek gods, and on the other hand the abilities of the Greek people.
The early athletic competitions were only running races, but later other sports such as boxing and wrestling came to be included. It was not simply a matter of professional athletes arriving and entering the competitions; for one thing, there were no professional athletes! All the competitors were ordinary Greek citizens who felt that they were among the best in their chosen sports. Anyone wishing to compete had to arrive four weeks early, and undergo a full month of training. It wasn’t only physical training, either: would-be competitors had to prove that they were morally and spiritually suitable to compete. Even if someone was physically fit enough, they couldn’t compete unless the judges thought they were of the right moral fibre. Curiously, all sportsmen competed nude – it was widely believed that wearing clothes slowed an athlete down!
At the start of the games, every competitor had to swear an oath that they were a free citizen of Greece who had committed no sacrilege against the gods. In today’s Olympics, one athlete takes an oath on behalf of all the competitors, although of course it is a little different to the ancient Greek oath. Today, competitors promise that they shall abide by the rules of the games, will act in an honourable and sportsmanlike manner, and not use any performance-enhancing drugs. Cheating, though, is almost as old as the games itself: records of the ancient Greek games are riddled with tales of athletes paying off their competitors, and of boxers fixing the results of their fights. In ancient Greece, though, there weren’t many ways an athlete could cheat in a race: maybe take a shortcut, or borrow a horse.
By the time of the St Louis Olympics in 1904, more modern means were available. The original “winner” of the 1904 Olympic marathon, Fred Lorz, was disqualified after it was revealed that he had travelled half the distance in a car. The man later declared the official winner, Thomas Hicks, wasn’t much better: he was carried across the finishing line by two of his trainers. Hicks’s trainers had tried to enhance his running ability by feeding him a mix of egg whites, strychnine and brandy. This early attempt at a performance-enhancing drug was rather unsuccessful, as it left Hicks drunk and incapable. The trick of having two men carrying him, though, seems to have worked.
The motivation for cheating hasn’t changed much at all. Today, athletes compete primarily for the honour of being awarded a gold medal, but also for the enormous amounts of lucrative corporate sponsorship bestowed upon top sportspeople. Similarly, while ancient Greek athletes were officially only competing for the honour of being awarded a symbolic olive branch, winners were usually sponsored by their city state, receiving a large sum of money, or a new home, or a lengthy tax holiday.
As mentioned earlier, the connection between sport and business hasn’t changed much. Even in the earliest Olympics, sporting competition went alongside trade fairs and business deals. This was acknowledged in 19th century Greece when the first modern attempts were made to revive the Olympics. The “Zappian Olympics”, as they became known after wealthy organiser Evangelos Zappas, were the bridge between the ancient and modern Olympics, and took place in Greece between 1859 and 1875. It was the first real international sporting competition, but officially it was about far more than sport. Greek politicians of the time felt that nations were no longer competing primarily in sport, but in agriculture and manufacturing. It was decided, then, that these new Olympics ought to be as much about competing in industry as in sport. The sports events were highly popular, but in terms of funding and regularity were of a lower priority than the commercial side, which concentrated on the demonstration of agricultural and industrial inventions.
However, the sporting side of the games were hugely popular with the public, and the level of support meant that, in Athens in 1896, the Olympics as we know them began. Despite the occasional shambles of the sort we saw in St Louis in 1904, it has continued from strength to strength since then.
Building Bridges
By Linda Baxter
Being old is when you know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions. (Anonymous)
Six months before she died, my grandmother moved into an old people's home and I visited her there when I was in Britain. She was sitting in the living room with about fifteen other residents, mostly women, half of them asleep. The room was clean and warm, with flowers and pictures, and the care assistants were kind and cheerful. 'The Weakest Link' was on the television ('to keep their brains active' one of the assistants said), and the only other sound was snoring and embarrassing digestive noises. People only moved when they needed to be helped to the bathroom. It was depressing. Gran talked a lot about how much she missed seeing her grandchildren (my nieces, aged 7 and 5), but I knew from my sister that they hated going to visit her there and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn't wait to get away myself.
So I was interested to read a newspaper article about a new concept in old people's homes in France. The idea is simple, but revolutionary: combining a residential home for the elderly with a crèche/nursery school in the same building. The children and the residents eat lunch together and share activities such as music, painting, gardening and caring for the pets which the residents are encouraged to keep. In the afternoons, the residents enjoy reading or telling stories to the children and, if a child is feeling sad or tired, there is always a kind lap to sit on and a cuddle. There are trips out and birthday parties too.
The advantages are enormous for everyone concerned. The children are happy because they get a lot more individual attention and respond well because someone has time for them. They also learn that old people are not different or frightening in any way. And of course, they see illness and death and learn to accept them. The residents are happy because they feel useful and needed. They are more active and more interested in life when the children are around and they take more interest in their appearance too. And the staff are happy because they see an improvement in the physical and psychological health of the residents and have an army of assistants to help with the children.
Nowadays there is less and less contact between the old and the young. There are many reasons for this, including the breakdown of the extended family, working parents with no time to care for ageing relations, families that have moved away and smaller flats with no room for grandparents. But the result is the same: increasing numbers of children without grandparents and old people who have no contact with children. And more old people who are lonely and feel useless, along with more and more families with young children who desperately need more support. It's a major problem in many societies.
That's why intergenerational programmes, designed to bring the old and the young together, are growing in popularity all over the world, supported by UNESCO and other local and international organisations. There are examples of successful initiatives all over the world. Using young people to teach IT skills to older people is one obvious example. Using old people as volunteer assistants in schools is another, perhaps reading with children who need extra attention. There are schemes which involve older people visiting families who are having problems, maybe looking after the children for a while to give the tired mother a break. Or 'adopt a grandparent' schemes in which children write letters or visit a lonely old person in their area. There are even holiday companies that specialise in holidays for children and grandparents together. One successful scheme in London pairs young volunteers with old people who are losing their sight. The young people help with practical things such as writing letters, reading bank statements and helping with shopping, and the older people can pass on their knowledge and experience to their young visitors. For example, a retired judge may be paired with a teenager who wants to study law. Lasting friendships often develop.
But it isn't only the individuals concerned who gain from intergenerational activities. The advantages to society are enormous too. If older people can understand and accept the youth of today, and vice versa, there will be less conflict in a community. In a world where the number of old people is increasing, we need as much understanding and tolerance as possible. Modern Western society has isolated people into age groups and now we need to rediscover what 'community' really means. And we can use the strengths of one generation to help another. Then perhaps getting old won't be such a depressing prospect after all.
Building Bridges
By Linda Baxter
Being old is when you know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions. (Anonymous)
Six months before she died, my grandmother moved into an old people's home and I visited her there when I was in Britain. She was sitting in the living room with about fifteen other residents, mostly women, half of them asleep. The room was clean and warm, with flowers and pictures, and the care assistants were kind and cheerful. 'The Weakest Link' was on the television ('to keep their brains active' one of the assistants said), and the only other sound was snoring and embarrassing digestive noises. People only moved when they needed to be helped to the bathroom. It was depressing. Gran talked a lot about how much she missed seeing her grandchildren (my nieces, aged 7 and 5), but I knew from my sister that they hated going to visit her there and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn't wait to get away myself.
So I was interested to read a newspaper article about a new concept in old people's homes in France. The idea is simple, but revolutionary: combining a residential home for the elderly with a crèche/nursery school in the same building. The children and the residents eat lunch together and share activities such as music, painting, gardening and caring for the pets which the residents are encouraged to keep. In the afternoons, the residents enjoy reading or telling stories to the children and, if a child is feeling sad or tired, there is always a kind lap to sit on and a cuddle. There are trips out and birthday parties too.
The advantages are enormous for everyone concerned. The children are happy because they get a lot more individual attention and respond well because someone has time for them. They also learn that old people are not different or frightening in any way. And of course, they see illness and death and learn to accept them. The residents are happy because they feel useful and needed. They are more active and more interested in life when the children are around and they take more interest in their appearance too. And the staff are happy because they see an improvement in the physical and psychological health of the residents and have an army of assistants to help with the children.
Nowadays there is less and less contact between the old and the young. There are many reasons for this, including the breakdown of the extended family, working parents with no time to care for ageing relations, families that have moved away and smaller flats with no room for grandparents. But the result is the same: increasing numbers of children without grandparents and old people who have no contact with children. And more old people who are lonely and feel useless, along with more and more families with young children who desperately need more support. It's a major problem in many societies.
That's why intergenerational programmes, designed to bring the old and the young together, are growing in popularity all over the world, supported by UNESCO and other local and international organisations. There are examples of successful initiatives all over the world. Using young people to teach IT skills to older people is one obvious example. Using old people as volunteer assistants in schools is another, perhaps reading with children who need extra attention. There are schemes which involve older people visiting families who are having problems, maybe looking after the children for a while to give the tired mother a break. Or 'adopt a grandparent' schemes in which children write letters or visit a lonely old person in their area. There are even holiday companies that specialise in holidays for children and grandparents together. One successful scheme in London pairs young volunteers with old people who are losing their sight. The young people help with practical things such as writing letters, reading bank statements and helping with shopping, and the older people can pass on their knowledge and experience to their young visitors. For example, a retired judge may be paired with a teenager who wants to study law. Lasting friendships often develop.
But it isn't only the individuals concerned who gain from intergenerational activities. The advantages to society are enormous too. If older people can understand and accept the youth of today, and vice versa, there will be less conflict in a community. In a world where the number of old people is increasing, we need as much understanding and tolerance as possible. Modern Western society has isolated people into age groups and now we need to rediscover what 'community' really means. And we can use the strengths of one generation to help another. Then perhaps getting old won't be such a depressing prospect after all.
Building Bridges
By Linda Baxter
Being old is when you know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions. (Anonymous)
Six months before she died, my grandmother moved into an old people's home and I visited her there when I was in Britain. She was sitting in the living room with about fifteen other residents, mostly women, half of them asleep. The room was clean and warm, with flowers and pictures, and the care assistants were kind and cheerful. 'The Weakest Link' was on the television ('to keep their brains active' one of the assistants said), and the only other sound was snoring and embarrassing digestive noises. People only moved when they needed to be helped to the bathroom. It was depressing. Gran talked a lot about how much she missed seeing her grandchildren (my nieces, aged 7 and 5), but I knew from my sister that they hated going to visit her there and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn't wait to get away myself.
So I was interested to read a newspaper article about a new concept in old people's homes in France. The idea is simple, but revolutionary: combining a residential home for the elderly with a crèche/nursery school in the same building. The children and the residents eat lunch together and share activities such as music, painting, gardening and caring for the pets which the residents are encouraged to keep. In the afternoons, the residents enjoy reading or telling stories to the children and, if a child is feeling sad or tired, there is always a kind lap to sit on and a cuddle. There are trips out and birthday parties too.
The advantages are enormous for everyone concerned. The children are happy because they get a lot more individual attention and respond well because someone has time for them. They also learn that old people are not different or frightening in any way. And of course, they see illness and death and learn to accept them. The residents are happy because they feel useful and needed. They are more active and more interested in life when the children are around and they take more interest in their appearance too. And the staff are happy because they see an improvement in the physical and psychological health of the residents and have an army of assistants to help with the children.
Nowadays there is less and less contact between the old and the young. There are many reasons for this, including the breakdown of the extended family, working parents with no time to care for ageing relations, families that have moved away and smaller flats with no room for grandparents. But the result is the same: increasing numbers of children without grandparents and old people who have no contact with children. And more old people who are lonely and feel useless, along with more and more families with young children who desperately need more support. It's a major problem in many societies.
That's why intergenerational programmes, designed to bring the old and the young together, are growing in popularity all over the world, supported by UNESCO and other local and international organisations. There are examples of successful initiatives all over the world. Using young people to teach IT skills to older people is one obvious example. Using old people as volunteer assistants in schools is another, perhaps reading with children who need extra attention. There are schemes which involve older people visiting families who are having problems, maybe looking after the children for a while to give the tired mother a break. Or 'adopt a grandparent' schemes in which children write letters or visit a lonely old person in their area. There are even holiday companies that specialise in holidays for children and grandparents together. One successful scheme in London pairs young volunteers with old people who are losing their sight. The young people help with practical things such as writing letters, reading bank statements and helping with shopping, and the older people can pass on their knowledge and experience to their young visitors. For example, a retired judge may be paired with a teenager who wants to study law. Lasting friendships often develop.
But it isn't only the individuals concerned who gain from intergenerational activities. The advantages to society are enormous too. If older people can understand and accept the youth of today, and vice versa, there will be less conflict in a community. In a world where the number of old people is increasing, we need as much understanding and tolerance as possible. Modern Western society has isolated people into age groups and now we need to rediscover what 'community' really means. And we can use the strengths of one generation to help another. Then perhaps getting old won't be such a depressing prospect after all.
Building Bridges
By Linda Baxter
Being old is when you know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions. (Anonymous)
Six months before she died, my grandmother moved into an old people's home and I visited her there when I was in Britain. She was sitting in the living room with about fifteen other residents, mostly women, half of them asleep. The room was clean and warm, with flowers and pictures, and the care assistants were kind and cheerful. 'The Weakest Link' was on the television ('to keep their brains active' one of the assistants said), and the only other sound was snoring and embarrassing digestive noises. People only moved when they needed to be helped to the bathroom. It was depressing. Gran talked a lot about how much she missed seeing her grandchildren (my nieces, aged 7 and 5), but I knew from my sister that they hated going to visit her there and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn't wait to get away myself.
So I was interested to read a newspaper article about a new concept in old people's homes in France. The idea is simple, but revolutionary: combining a residential home for the elderly with a crèche/nursery school in the same building. The children and the residents eat lunch together and share activities such as music, painting, gardening and caring for the pets which the residents are encouraged to keep. In the afternoons, the residents enjoy reading or telling stories to the children and, if a child is feeling sad or tired, there is always a kind lap to sit on and a cuddle. There are trips out and birthday parties too.
The advantages are enormous for everyone concerned. The children are happy because they get a lot more individual attention and respond well because someone has time for them. They also learn that old people are not different or frightening in any way. And of course, they see illness and death and learn to accept them. The residents are happy because they feel useful and needed. They are more active and more interested in life when the children are around and they take more interest in their appearance too. And the staff are happy because they see an improvement in the physical and psychological health of the residents and have an army of assistants to help with the children.
Nowadays there is less and less contact between the old and the young. There are many reasons for this, including the breakdown of the extended family, working parents with no time to care for ageing relations, families that have moved away and smaller flats with no room for grandparents. But the result is the same: increasing numbers of children without grandparents and old people who have no contact with children. And more old people who are lonely and feel useless, along with more and more families with young children who desperately need more support. It's a major problem in many societies.
That's why intergenerational programmes, designed to bring the old and the young together, are growing in popularity all over the world, supported by UNESCO and other local and international organisations. There are examples of successful initiatives all over the world. Using young people to teach IT skills to older people is one obvious example. Using old people as volunteer assistants in schools is another, perhaps reading with children who need extra attention. There are schemes which involve older people visiting families who are having problems, maybe looking after the children for a while to give the tired mother a break. Or 'adopt a grandparent' schemes in which children write letters or visit a lonely old person in their area. There are even holiday companies that specialise in holidays for children and grandparents together. One successful scheme in London pairs young volunteers with old people who are losing their sight. The young people help with practical things such as writing letters, reading bank statements and helping with shopping, and the older people can pass on their knowledge and experience to their young visitors. For example, a retired judge may be paired with a teenager who wants to study law. Lasting friendships often develop.
But it isn't only the individuals concerned who gain from intergenerational activities. The advantages to society are enormous too. If older people can understand and accept the youth of today, and vice versa, there will be less conflict in a community. In a world where the number of old people is increasing, we need as much understanding and tolerance as possible. Modern Western society has isolated people into age groups and now we need to rediscover what 'community' really means. And we can use the strengths of one generation to help another. Then perhaps getting old won't be such a depressing prospect after all.
Building Bridges
By Linda Baxter
Being old is when you know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions. (Anonymous)
Six months before she died, my grandmother moved into an old people's home and I visited her there when I was in Britain. She was sitting in the living room with about fifteen other residents, mostly women, half of them asleep. The room was clean and warm, with flowers and pictures, and the care assistants were kind and cheerful. 'The Weakest Link' was on the television ('to keep their brains active' one of the assistants said), and the only other sound was snoring and embarrassing digestive noises. People only moved when they needed to be helped to the bathroom. It was depressing. Gran talked a lot about how much she missed seeing her grandchildren (my nieces, aged 7 and 5), but I knew from my sister that they hated going to visit her there and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn't wait to get away myself.
So I was interested to read a newspaper article about a new concept in old people's homes in France. The idea is simple, but revolutionary: combining a residential home for the elderly with a crèche/nursery school in the same building. The children and the residents eat lunch together and share activities such as music, painting, gardening and caring for the pets which the residents are encouraged to keep. In the afternoons, the residents enjoy reading or telling stories to the children and, if a child is feeling sad or tired, there is always a kind lap to sit on and a cuddle. There are trips out and birthday parties too.
The advantages are enormous for everyone concerned. The children are happy because they get a lot more individual attention and respond well because someone has time for them. They also learn that old people are not different or frightening in any way. And of course, they see illness and death and learn to accept them. The residents are happy because they feel useful and needed. They are more active and more interested in life when the children are around and they take more interest in their appearance too. And the staff are happy because they see an improvement in the physical and psychological health of the residents and have an army of assistants to help with the children.
Nowadays there is less and less contact between the old and the young. There are many reasons for this, including the breakdown of the extended family, working parents with no time to care for ageing relations, families that have moved away and smaller flats with no room for grandparents. But the result is the same: increasing numbers of children without grandparents and old people who have no contact with children. And more old people who are lonely and feel useless, along with more and more families with young children who desperately need more support. It's a major problem in many societies.
That's why intergenerational programmes, designed to bring the old and the young together, are growing in popularity all over the world, supported by UNESCO and other local and international organisations. There are examples of successful initiatives all over the world. Using young people to teach IT skills to older people is one obvious example. Using old people as volunteer assistants in schools is another, perhaps reading with children who need extra attention. There are schemes which involve older people visiting families who are having problems, maybe looking after the children for a while to give the tired mother a break. Or 'adopt a grandparent' schemes in which children write letters or visit a lonely old person in their area. There are even holiday companies that specialise in holidays for children and grandparents together. One successful scheme in London pairs young volunteers with old people who are losing their sight. The young people help with practical things such as writing letters, reading bank statements and helping with shopping, and the older people can pass on their knowledge and experience to their young visitors. For example, a retired judge may be paired with a teenager who wants to study law. Lasting friendships often develop.
But it isn't only the individuals concerned who gain from intergenerational activities. The advantages to society are enormous too. If older people can understand and accept the youth of today, and vice versa, there will be less conflict in a community. In a world where the number of old people is increasing, we need as much understanding and tolerance as possible. Modern Western society has isolated people into age groups and now we need to rediscover what 'community' really means. And we can use the strengths of one generation to help another. Then perhaps getting old won't be such a depressing prospect after all.
Overpopulation
by John Kuti (written in 2003)
I come from the south of England, in the most densely-populated corner of a small island, which, you might think, is full of people. (The UK as a whole has 2.4 people per hectare.) I have never gone hungry. The only time when I wish there were less people is on rush-hour trains. However, one of the most interesting findings of the census of 2001 was that a million people were missing. Or at least there were a million people less than the authorities expected. Should we be happy that we have more space and less mouths to feed? I don’t know.
As I start writing this article the world population (according to the Office of Population Research at Princeton University) stands at 6,315,850,431.
Doom, version 1
In 1798 Robert Malthus wrote an essay which got economics the name of the dismal science. It was called “The Principle of Population”. He said that it was impossible for the number of people to increase, and even worse, it was impossible for the standard of living to rise. The argument went like this:
1. population naturally increases geometrically: 2, 4, 8, 16…
2. food production increases arithmetically 2, 4, 6, 8…
3. so, population will be controlled by lack of food, the same as it is for animals. Some people will always be starving.
A lot of people disliked Malthus’ point of view. Often, because it seemed to go against the idea of progress, which was so important for other social theories of the time. Anyway, the experience of the next two centuries shows that something must be wrong with the theory. In the 19th century world population rose from 1 to 1.7 billion. In the 20th, it increased to about 6 billion.
Doom, version 2
In 1961, J.G. Ballard wrote a story called Billenium. It’s about a world where the population has gone on increasing at 3% a year to reach a figure of at least 20 billion, although the true number is kept secret. To make space for growing food, everyone lives in giant cities where the buildings are divided into little cubicles. A single person can have 4 square metres and a married couple six. Everyone has enough to eat, but life is certainly very inconvenient. People spend most of the time waiting in queues for the bathroom or anywhere else they want to go.
Reality
The real situation is not as bad as these alarming predictions. A very surprising and dramatic change is happening in the world, but it is not what Malthus or Ballard predicted. To understand the statistics, we need first to think about the two ways the number of people can go up.
The Fertility Rate
The most obvious way to increase population is for more babies to be born. If the population is exactly constant, the average woman has 2.1 children. This number is called the "replacement rate". These rates are going down very fast. The peak was in the period 1965-75 at 4.9, now the rate for the world as a whole is 2.8. However, there is still a big difference between the developed countries, where the rate is 1.6 and poor countries where it is 3. To quote some extreme examples, in Italy the figure is 1.2 and in Zambia 5.6.
Life expectancy
The other reason why there are more people now is that we live longer. This figure also shows a dramatic change. The people born in 1950 could expect, on average, to live 45 years. Now the world life expectancy at birth is 65, and the United Nations predicts this will increase to 76 in the next 50 years.
Predictions of doom
Malthus and Ballard were still right about some things. The dismal picture painted by Malthus is still true in poor countries where 18 million people starve every year, and more than a billion people don't have a supply of clean drinking water. Ballard is right about the trend towards city life. By the year 2006, the United Nations predicts that more than 50% of people will live in cities.
City life in the developed world
At least in the rich countries, the move into cities seems to be connected with falling fertility rates. It is more expensive to have a child in the city, and children are less useful as workers. Women receive a better education and are able to work – so they have more to lose by becoming mothers. City life seems to encourage individualism – people become more interested in getting an education and a career. They marry later in life, and divorce more often, so producing smaller families.
At the moment, it seems quite possible that the same pattern will be repeated everywhere. One UN forecast now foresees a world population of about 5 billion in 2100. But, the more time you spend looking at predictions the more you realise that the human race is a surprising phenomenon. It looks like we will have a clearer idea of what will happen in ten or twenty years time when the present generation of parents moves beyond child-bearing age.
Now there are 6,318,042,422 people.
Glossary
average (n): the figure you get if you add together a set of numbers and divide that total out equally.
census (n): the official procedure for counting all the people in a country.
constant (adj): staying the same, not changing.
cubicle (n): a very small closed off space, e.g. a shower cubicle.
densely-populated (adj): with a lot of people living close together.
dismal (adj): dark, sad and depressing.
encourage (v): to make something happen or increase.
figure (n): number.
foresee (v): to predict, to see something that might happen in the future.
go on –ing (v): continue.
hectare (n): the size of a square 100 metres by 100 metres.
lack (v): not having something.
peak (n): the highest point.
predictions (n): things people say about what they think will happen in the future.
starving (adj): dying from lack of food.
Overpopulation
by John Kuti (written in 2003)
I come from the south of England, in the most densely-populated corner of a small island, which, you might think, is full of people. (The UK as a whole has 2.4 people per hectare.) I have never gone hungry. The only time when I wish there were less people is on rush-hour trains. However, one of the most interesting findings of the census of 2001 was that a million people were missing. Or at least there were a million people less than the authorities expected. Should we be happy that we have more space and less mouths to feed? I don’t know.
As I start writing this article the world population (according to the Office of Population Research at Princeton University) stands at 6,315,850,431.
Doom, version 1
In 1798 Robert Malthus wrote an essay which got economics the name of the dismal science. It was called “The Principle of Population”. He said that it was impossible for the number of people to increase, and even worse, it was impossible for the standard of living to rise. The argument went like this:
1. population naturally increases geometrically: 2, 4, 8, 16…
2. food production increases arithmetically 2, 4, 6, 8…
3. so, population will be controlled by lack of food, the same as it is for animals. Some people will always be starving.
A lot of people disliked Malthus’ point of view. Often, because it seemed to go against the idea of progress, which was so important for other social theories of the time. Anyway, the experience of the next two centuries shows that something must be wrong with the theory. In the 19th century world population rose from 1 to 1.7 billion. In the 20th, it increased to about 6 billion.
Doom, version 2
In 1961, J.G. Ballard wrote a story called Billenium. It’s about a world where the population has gone on increasing at 3% a year to reach a figure of at least 20 billion, although the true number is kept secret. To make space for growing food, everyone lives in giant cities where the buildings are divided into little cubicles. A single person can have 4 square metres and a married couple six. Everyone has enough to eat, but life is certainly very inconvenient. People spend most of the time waiting in queues for the bathroom or anywhere else they want to go.
Reality
The real situation is not as bad as these alarming predictions. A very surprising and dramatic change is happening in the world, but it is not what Malthus or Ballard predicted. To understand the statistics, we need first to think about the two ways the number of people can go up.
The Fertility Rate
The most obvious way to increase population is for more babies to be born. If the population is exactly constant, the average woman has 2.1 children. This number is called the "replacement rate". These rates are going down very fast. The peak was in the period 1965-75 at 4.9, now the rate for the world as a whole is 2.8. However, there is still a big difference between the developed countries, where the rate is 1.6 and poor countries where it is 3. To quote some extreme examples, in Italy the figure is 1.2 and in Zambia 5.6.
Life expectancy
The other reason why there are more people now is that we live longer. This figure also shows a dramatic change. The people born in 1950 could expect, on average, to live 45 years. Now the world life expectancy at birth is 65, and the United Nations predicts this will increase to 76 in the next 50 years.
Predictions of doom
Malthus and Ballard were still right about some things. The dismal picture painted by Malthus is still true in poor countries where 18 million people starve every year, and more than a billion people don't have a supply of clean drinking water. Ballard is right about the trend towards city life. By the year 2006, the United Nations predicts that more than 50% of people will live in cities.
City life in the developed world
At least in the rich countries, the move into cities seems to be connected with falling fertility rates. It is more expensive to have a child in the city, and children are less useful as workers. Women receive a better education and are able to work – so they have more to lose by becoming mothers. City life seems to encourage individualism – people become more interested in getting an education and a career. They marry later in life, and divorce more often, so producing smaller families.
At the moment, it seems quite possible that the same pattern will be repeated everywhere. One UN forecast now foresees a world population of about 5 billion in 2100. But, the more time you spend looking at predictions the more you realise that the human race is a surprising phenomenon. It looks like we will have a clearer idea of what will happen in ten or twenty years time when the present generation of parents moves beyond child-bearing age.
Now there are 6,318,042,422 people.
Glossary
average (n): the figure you get if you add together a set of numbers and divide that total out equally.
census (n): the official procedure for counting all the people in a country.
constant (adj): staying the same, not changing.
cubicle (n): a very small closed off space, e.g. a shower cubicle.
densely-populated (adj): with a lot of people living close together.
dismal (adj): dark, sad and depressing.
encourage (v): to make something happen or increase.
figure (n): number.
foresee (v): to predict, to see something that might happen in the future.
go on –ing (v): continue.
hectare (n): the size of a square 100 metres by 100 metres.
lack (v): not having something.
peak (n): the highest point.
predictions (n): things people say about what they think will happen in the future.
starving (adj): dying from lack of food.
Overpopulation
by John Kuti (written in 2003)
I come from the south of England, in the most densely-populated corner of a small island, which, you might think, is full of people. (The UK as a whole has 2.4 people per hectare.) I have never gone hungry. The only time when I wish there were less people is on rush-hour trains. However, one of the most interesting findings of the census of 2001 was that a million people were missing. Or at least there were a million people less than the authorities expected. Should we be happy that we have more space and less mouths to feed? I don’t know.
As I start writing this article the world population (according to the Office of Population Research at Princeton University) stands at 6,315,850,431.
Doom, version 1
In 1798 Robert Malthus wrote an essay which got economics the name of the dismal science. It was called “The Principle of Population”. He said that it was impossible for the number of people to increase, and even worse, it was impossible for the standard of living to rise. The argument went like this:
1. population naturally increases geometrically: 2, 4, 8, 16…
2. food production increases arithmetically 2, 4, 6, 8…
3. so, population will be controlled by lack of food, the same as it is for animals. Some people will always be starving.
A lot of people disliked Malthus’ point of view. Often, because it seemed to go against the idea of progress, which was so important for other social theories of the time. Anyway, the experience of the next two centuries shows that something must be wrong with the theory. In the 19th century world population rose from 1 to 1.7 billion. In the 20th, it increased to about 6 billion.
Doom, version 2
In 1961, J.G. Ballard wrote a story called Billenium. It’s about a world where the population has gone on increasing at 3% a year to reach a figure of at least 20 billion, although the true number is kept secret. To make space for growing food, everyone lives in giant cities where the buildings are divided into little cubicles. A single person can have 4 square metres and a married couple six. Everyone has enough to eat, but life is certainly very inconvenient. People spend most of the time waiting in queues for the bathroom or anywhere else they want to go.
Reality
The real situation is not as bad as these alarming predictions. A very surprising and dramatic change is happening in the world, but it is not what Malthus or Ballard predicted. To understand the statistics, we need first to think about the two ways the number of people can go up.
The Fertility Rate
The most obvious way to increase population is for more babies to be born. If the population is exactly constant, the average woman has 2.1 children. This number is called the "replacement rate". These rates are going down very fast. The peak was in the period 1965-75 at 4.9, now the rate for the world as a whole is 2.8. However, there is still a big difference between the developed countries, where the rate is 1.6 and poor countries where it is 3. To quote some extreme examples, in Italy the figure is 1.2 and in Zambia 5.6.
Life expectancy
The other reason why there are more people now is that we live longer. This figure also shows a dramatic change. The people born in 1950 could expect, on average, to live 45 years. Now the world life expectancy at birth is 65, and the United Nations predicts this will increase to 76 in the next 50 years.
Predictions of doom
Malthus and Ballard were still right about some things. The dismal picture painted by Malthus is still true in poor countries where 18 million people starve every year, and more than a billion people don't have a supply of clean drinking water. Ballard is right about the trend towards city life. By the year 2006, the United Nations predicts that more than 50% of people will live in cities.
City life in the developed world
At least in the rich countries, the move into cities seems to be connected with falling fertility rates. It is more expensive to have a child in the city, and children are less useful as workers. Women receive a better education and are able to work – so they have more to lose by becoming mothers. City life seems to encourage individualism – people become more interested in getting an education and a career. They marry later in life, and divorce more often, so producing smaller families.
At the moment, it seems quite possible that the same pattern will be repeated everywhere. One UN forecast now foresees a world population of about 5 billion in 2100. But, the more time you spend looking at predictions the more you realise that the human race is a surprising phenomenon. It looks like we will have a clearer idea of what will happen in ten or twenty years time when the present generation of parents moves beyond child-bearing age.
Now there are 6,318,042,422 people.
Glossary
average (n): the figure you get if you add together a set of numbers and divide that total out equally.
census (n): the official procedure for counting all the people in a country.
constant (adj): staying the same, not changing.
cubicle (n): a very small closed off space, e.g. a shower cubicle.
densely-populated (adj): with a lot of people living close together.
dismal (adj): dark, sad and depressing.
encourage (v): to make something happen or increase.
figure (n): number.
foresee (v): to predict, to see something that might happen in the future.
go on –ing (v): continue.
hectare (n): the size of a square 100 metres by 100 metres.
lack (v): not having something.
peak (n): the highest point.
predictions (n): things people say about what they think will happen in the future.
starving (adj): dying from lack of food.
Papua New Guinea
By Richard Sidaway
 
Why New Guinea?
One of the first Europeans to arrive in the 16th century from Portugal thought the country resembled Guinea in West Africa.
Why Papua?
The word comes from the Malay language and means ‘fuzzy-haired’, referring to the natives.
Why have such a long name when you can abbreviate it?Papua New Guinea is a bit of a mouthful, so most people shorten it to PNG. Here are some of the many curiosities you might come across if you visit:
Pidgin – or Tok Pisin,  is the language that at least 2 million of the 5 million Papuans use to communicate with each other, in the street or in parliament, on radio and TV, possibly because the island has so many other languages (over 700). Pidgin originated as the lingua franca between foreign traders and natives and denotes any ’language’ which does not have a fully developed grammar and a vocabulary which is a mixture of other languages, in this case Portuguese, English, German and Melanesian. For example, the word for moustache is ‘mausgras’ (mouth grass), child is ‘pikinini’ from the Portuguese word for ‘small’, and ‘raus’ comes from German ‘get out’.
Active volcanoes – being situated on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the island has at least fifteen major volcanoes. The provincial capital of Rabaul, once a beautiful coastal town, was almost completely destroyed by the eruption of Tavurvur and Vulcan in 1994. Many buildings collapsed under the weight of volcanic ash which turned to mud after the rains and then hardened like cement. Luckily, the town had been evacuated the night before and only five people died.
Postage stamps – during the First World War, a set of stamps issued by the former Germany colonial authority was used by the Australian occupying forces who simply added the British King’s initials over the top. This only happened for a short time and as a result they are extremely rare. Today, one stamp originally costing five shillings can now sell for $10,000.
Unusual animals – most people think that marsupials only live in Australia. Not so. There are quite a few weird and wonderful examples here too, like the tree kangaroo, along with egg-laying mammals such as the echidna, the New Guinea Singing Dog (see below) and the world’s longest lizard, the Salvatori Monitor, which is over 3 metres long.
Amazing birdlife – any ornithologist would jump at the chance to visit New Guinea with its 700 species of birds. The most striking is the Bird of Paradise, whose mating ritual is emulated in the local tribal dances, and whose image adorns banknotes and the country’s flag. Another is the flightless Cassowary, which uses the bony protuberance on the top of its head to force its way through the dense rainforest. Then there are countless variety of parrot, cockatoo and hornbill, not to mention a pigeon the size of a turkey, and the pitihui, thought to be the only known example of a poisonous bird!
Natural Resources - the country is rich in minerals -gold and copper are mined extensively which together with oil, bring in three quarters of the country’s export earnings. Coconut and palm oil are also significant industries and PNG produces its own tea and coffee. The most spectacular resource – the trees of the rainforest – are being cut down at an alarming rate by loggers, however. Even so, companies have to tread carefully in this country as 97% of the country is owned by the people, and local clans expect compensation for lost land. When a copper mine polluted a river on the island of Bougainville in the 1980s, it provoked a ten year civil war and attempt at independence.
Eating people– usually considered to be wrong in most parts of the world, cannibalism used to be very common in parts of PNG, and human flesh, usually of a tribe’s enemies, was a treated as a delicacy. Thankfully, the practice largely disappeared in the 1950s, which was good news for the tourist trade.
World’s largest butterfly –the Queen Alexandra Birdwing butterfly, with a wingspan of over 30cm, is a tricky creature to find, in spite of its size. It lives only in the coastal rainforest in the northern part of the island, stays mostly up in the canopy, 30 meters from the ground, and only lives for about three months. The caterpillar feeds on a poisonous plant, the pipevine, which makes it toxic to any potential predator.
Gender Relations – the Trobriand Islanders aroused great interest amongst students of human nature after the publication of research by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in the 1920s. It appeared to show a reversal in the usual gender roles prevailing in most human societies. At the annual Yam Festival, the young maidens were very assertive in their quest for a mate, to the point where it was the custom for groups of adolescent girls to rape lone males.
Unusual musical instruments – bamboo bands were popular in the islands in the 1970s, musicians who played tubes of bamboo by hitting them with sandals! An older instrument is the nose flute, a piece of bamboo from which sound is produced not by blowing through the mouth but through the nose. The preference for this method of playing may be connected to the idea that breath, which passes through the nasal cavity, is the essence of the human soul.
Infinite variety of plants – there are over 11,000 known types of plant in New Guinea, the most colourful being the country’s orchids, of which there are 3,000 different species. PNG is rich in food plants - tropical fruits, root and leaf vegetables, beans and nuts, along with many herbs, spices and flavourings including pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla. Scientists hope that the islands’ yet uncatalogued plants could also hold cures for HIV, malaria and cancer.
New Guinea Singing Dog – most dogs whine or howl from time to time, but this species actually sounds like it is singing. The song has been likened to a bird call or even the sounds that whales make. It looks similar to the Australian Dingo with a reddish coat and pointed ears, and was only ‘discovered’ in the 1950s when a pair was taken to a zoo in Sydney. Scientists think it was originally domesticated, and then escaped to the mountain forests where it now makes its home.
Earthquakes and tidal waves - several tectonic plates meet under New Guinea and so it suffers from frequent earthquakes. These are often followed by tidal waves or tsunami. In July 1998, after an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, a tsunami ten metres high hit the north coast and more than 3,000 people lost their lives or went missing.
Airstrips – there were 560 at the last count- that’s one for every 10,000 people. (In comparison, Britain, with ten times the population, has only about 200). Going by plane is the easiest way to travel any distance as there are no railways, and the roads are often poor due to the mountainous terrain. And if you are responsible for a road accident, you may end up having your car stoned and burned, so you’re probably better off flying!
Papua New Guinea
By Richard Sidaway
 
Why New Guinea?
One of the first Europeans to arrive in the 16th century from Portugal thought the country resembled Guinea in West Africa.
Why Papua?
The word comes from the Malay language and means ‘fuzzy-haired’, referring to the natives.
Why have such a long name when you can abbreviate it?Papua New Guinea is a bit of a mouthful, so most people shorten it to PNG. Here are some of the many curiosities you might come across if you visit:
Pidgin – or Tok Pisin,  is the language that at least 2 million of the 5 million Papuans use to communicate with each other, in the street or in parliament, on radio and TV, possibly because the island has so many other languages (over 700). Pidgin originated as the lingua franca between foreign traders and natives and denotes any ’language’ which does not have a fully developed grammar and a vocabulary which is a mixture of other languages, in this case Portuguese, English, German and Melanesian. For example, the word for moustache is ‘mausgras’ (mouth grass), child is ‘pikinini’ from the Portuguese word for ‘small’, and ‘raus’ comes from German ‘get out’.
Active volcanoes – being situated on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the island has at least fifteen major volcanoes. The provincial capital of Rabaul, once a beautiful coastal town, was almost completely destroyed by the eruption of Tavurvur and Vulcan in 1994. Many buildings collapsed under the weight of volcanic ash which turned to mud after the rains and then hardened like cement. Luckily, the town had been evacuated the night before and only five people died.
Postage stamps – during the First World War, a set of stamps issued by the former Germany colonial authority was used by the Australian occupying forces who simply added the British King’s initials over the top. This only happened for a short time and as a result they are extremely rare. Today, one stamp originally costing five shillings can now sell for $10,000.
Unusual animals – most people think that marsupials only live in Australia. Not so. There are quite a few weird and wonderful examples here too, like the tree kangaroo, along with egg-laying mammals such as the echidna, the New Guinea Singing Dog (see below) and the world’s longest lizard, the Salvatori Monitor, which is over 3 metres long.
Amazing birdlife – any ornithologist would jump at the chance to visit New Guinea with its 700 species of birds. The most striking is the Bird of Paradise, whose mating ritual is emulated in the local tribal dances, and whose image adorns banknotes and the country’s flag. Another is the flightless Cassowary, which uses the bony protuberance on the top of its head to force its way through the dense rainforest. Then there are countless variety of parrot, cockatoo and hornbill, not to mention a pigeon the size of a turkey, and the pitihui, thought to be the only known example of a poisonous bird!
Natural Resources - the country is rich in minerals -gold and copper are mined extensively which together with oil, bring in three quarters of the country’s export earnings. Coconut and palm oil are also significant industries and PNG produces its own tea and coffee. The most spectacular resource – the trees of the rainforest – are being cut down at an alarming rate by loggers, however. Even so, companies have to tread carefully in this country as 97% of the country is owned by the people, and local clans expect compensation for lost land. When a copper mine polluted a river on the island of Bougainville in the 1980s, it provoked a ten year civil war and attempt at independence.
Eating people– usually considered to be wrong in most parts of the world, cannibalism used to be very common in parts of PNG, and human flesh, usually of a tribe’s enemies, was a treated as a delicacy. Thankfully, the practice largely disappeared in the 1950s, which was good news for the tourist trade.
World’s largest butterfly –the Queen Alexandra Birdwing butterfly, with a wingspan of over 30cm, is a tricky creature to find, in spite of its size. It lives only in the coastal rainforest in the northern part of the island, stays mostly up in the canopy, 30 meters from the ground, and only lives for about three months. The caterpillar feeds on a poisonous plant, the pipevine, which makes it toxic to any potential predator.
Gender Relations – the Trobriand Islanders aroused great interest amongst students of human nature after the publication of research by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in the 1920s. It appeared to show a reversal in the usual gender roles prevailing in most human societies. At the annual Yam Festival, the young maidens were very assertive in their quest for a mate, to the point where it was the custom for groups of adolescent girls to rape lone males.
Unusual musical instruments – bamboo bands were popular in the islands in the 1970s, musicians who played tubes of bamboo by hitting them with sandals! An older instrument is the nose flute, a piece of bamboo from which sound is produced not by blowing through the mouth but through the nose. The preference for this method of playing may be connected to the idea that breath, which passes through the nasal cavity, is the essence of the human soul.
Infinite variety of plants – there are over 11,000 known types of plant in New Guinea, the most colourful being the country’s orchids, of which there are 3,000 different species. PNG is rich in food plants - tropical fruits, root and leaf vegetables, beans and nuts, along with many herbs, spices and flavourings including pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla. Scientists hope that the islands’ yet uncatalogued plants could also hold cures for HIV, malaria and cancer.
New Guinea Singing Dog – most dogs whine or howl from time to time, but this species actually sounds like it is singing. The song has been likened to a bird call or even the sounds that whales make. It looks similar to the Australian Dingo with a reddish coat and pointed ears, and was only ‘discovered’ in the 1950s when a pair was taken to a zoo in Sydney. Scientists think it was originally domesticated, and then escaped to the mountain forests where it now makes its home.
Earthquakes and tidal waves - several tectonic plates meet under New Guinea and so it suffers from frequent earthquakes. These are often followed by tidal waves or tsunami. In July 1998, after an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, a tsunami ten metres high hit the north coast and more than 3,000 people lost their lives or went missing.
Airstrips – there were 560 at the last count- that’s one for every 10,000 people. (In comparison, Britain, with ten times the population, has only about 200). Going by plane is the easiest way to travel any distance as there are no railways, and the roads are often poor due to the mountainous terrain. And if you are responsible for a road accident, you may end up having your car stoned and burned, so you’re probably better off flying!
Papua New Guinea
By Richard Sidaway
 
Why New Guinea?
One of the first Europeans to arrive in the 16th century from Portugal thought the country resembled Guinea in West Africa.
Why Papua?
The word comes from the Malay language and means ‘fuzzy-haired’, referring to the natives.
Why have such a long name when you can abbreviate it?Papua New Guinea is a bit of a mouthful, so most people shorten it to PNG. Here are some of the many curiosities you might come across if you visit:
Pidgin – or Tok Pisin,  is the language that at least 2 million of the 5 million Papuans use to communicate with each other, in the street or in parliament, on radio and TV, possibly because the island has so many other languages (over 700). Pidgin originated as the lingua franca between foreign traders and natives and denotes any ’language’ which does not have a fully developed grammar and a vocabulary which is a mixture of other languages, in this case Portuguese, English, German and Melanesian. For example, the word for moustache is ‘mausgras’ (mouth grass), child is ‘pikinini’ from the Portuguese word for ‘small’, and ‘raus’ comes from German ‘get out’.
Active volcanoes – being situated on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the island has at least fifteen major volcanoes. The provincial capital of Rabaul, once a beautiful coastal town, was almost completely destroyed by the eruption of Tavurvur and Vulcan in 1994. Many buildings collapsed under the weight of volcanic ash which turned to mud after the rains and then hardened like cement. Luckily, the town had been evacuated the night before and only five people died.
Postage stamps – during the First World War, a set of stamps issued by the former Germany colonial authority was used by the Australian occupying forces who simply added the British King’s initials over the top. This only happened for a short time and as a result they are extremely rare. Today, one stamp originally costing five shillings can now sell for $10,000.
Unusual animals – most people think that marsupials only live in Australia. Not so. There are quite a few weird and wonderful examples here too, like the tree kangaroo, along with egg-laying mammals such as the echidna, the New Guinea Singing Dog (see below) and the world’s longest lizard, the Salvatori Monitor, which is over 3 metres long.
Amazing birdlife – any ornithologist would jump at the chance to visit New Guinea with its 700 species of birds. The most striking is the Bird of Paradise, whose mating ritual is emulated in the local tribal dances, and whose image adorns banknotes and the country’s flag. Another is the flightless Cassowary, which uses the bony protuberance on the top of its head to force its way through the dense rainforest. Then there are countless variety of parrot, cockatoo and hornbill, not to mention a pigeon the size of a turkey, and the pitihui, thought to be the only known example of a poisonous bird!
Natural Resources - the country is rich in minerals -gold and copper are mined extensively which together with oil, bring in three quarters of the country’s export earnings. Coconut and palm oil are also significant industries and PNG produces its own tea and coffee. The most spectacular resource – the trees of the rainforest – are being cut down at an alarming rate by loggers, however. Even so, companies have to tread carefully in this country as 97% of the country is owned by the people, and local clans expect compensation for lost land. When a copper mine polluted a river on the island of Bougainville in the 1980s, it provoked a ten year civil war and attempt at independence.
Eating people– usually considered to be wrong in most parts of the world, cannibalism used to be very common in parts of PNG, and human flesh, usually of a tribe’s enemies, was a treated as a delicacy. Thankfully, the practice largely disappeared in the 1950s, which was good news for the tourist trade.
World’s largest butterfly –the Queen Alexandra Birdwing butterfly, with a wingspan of over 30cm, is a tricky creature to find, in spite of its size. It lives only in the coastal rainforest in the northern part of the island, stays mostly up in the canopy, 30 meters from the ground, and only lives for about three months. The caterpillar feeds on a poisonous plant, the pipevine, which makes it toxic to any potential predator.
Gender Relations – the Trobriand Islanders aroused great interest amongst students of human nature after the publication of research by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in the 1920s. It appeared to show a reversal in the usual gender roles prevailing in most human societies. At the annual Yam Festival, the young maidens were very assertive in their quest for a mate, to the point where it was the custom for groups of adolescent girls to rape lone males.
Unusual musical instruments – bamboo bands were popular in the islands in the 1970s, musicians who played tubes of bamboo by hitting them with sandals! An older instrument is the nose flute, a piece of bamboo from which sound is produced not by blowing through the mouth but through the nose. The preference for this method of playing may be connected to the idea that breath, which passes through the nasal cavity, is the essence of the human soul.
Infinite variety of plants – there are over 11,000 known types of plant in New Guinea, the most colourful being the country’s orchids, of which there are 3,000 different species. PNG is rich in food plants - tropical fruits, root and leaf vegetables, beans and nuts, along with many herbs, spices and flavourings including pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla. Scientists hope that the islands’ yet uncatalogued plants could also hold cures for HIV, malaria and cancer.
New Guinea Singing Dog – most dogs whine or howl from time to time, but this species actually sounds like it is singing. The song has been likened to a bird call or even the sounds that whales make. It looks similar to the Australian Dingo with a reddish coat and pointed ears, and was only ‘discovered’ in the 1950s when a pair was taken to a zoo in Sydney. Scientists think it was originally domesticated, and then escaped to the mountain forests where it now makes its home.
Earthquakes and tidal waves - several tectonic plates meet under New Guinea and so it suffers from frequent earthquakes. These are often followed by tidal waves or tsunami. In July 1998, after an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, a tsunami ten metres high hit the north coast and more than 3,000 people lost their lives or went missing.
Airstrips – there were 560 at the last count- that’s one for every 10,000 people. (In comparison, Britain, with ten times the population, has only about 200). Going by plane is the easiest way to travel any distance as there are no railways, and the roads are often poor due to the mountainous terrain. And if you are responsible for a road accident, you may end up having your car stoned and burned, so you’re probably better off flying!
Papua New Guinea
By Richard Sidaway
 
Why New Guinea?
One of the first Europeans to arrive in the 16th century from Portugal thought the country resembled Guinea in West Africa.
Why Papua?
The word comes from the Malay language and means ‘fuzzy-haired’, referring to the natives.
Why have such a long name when you can abbreviate it?Papua New Guinea is a bit of a mouthful, so most people shorten it to PNG. Here are some of the many curiosities you might come across if you visit:
Pidgin – or Tok Pisin,  is the language that at least 2 million of the 5 million Papuans use to communicate with each other, in the street or in parliament, on radio and TV, possibly because the island has so many other languages (over 700). Pidgin originated as the lingua franca between foreign traders and natives and denotes any ’language’ which does not have a fully developed grammar and a vocabulary which is a mixture of other languages, in this case Portuguese, English, German and Melanesian. For example, the word for moustache is ‘mausgras’ (mouth grass), child is ‘pikinini’ from the Portuguese word for ‘small’, and ‘raus’ comes from German ‘get out’.
Active volcanoes – being situated on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the island has at least fifteen major volcanoes. The provincial capital of Rabaul, once a beautiful coastal town, was almost completely destroyed by the eruption of Tavurvur and Vulcan in 1994. Many buildings collapsed under the weight of volcanic ash which turned to mud after the rains and then hardened like cement. Luckily, the town had been evacuated the night before and only five people died.
Postage stamps – during the First World War, a set of stamps issued by the former Germany colonial authority was used by the Australian occupying forces who simply added the British King’s initials over the top. This only happened for a short time and as a result they are extremely rare. Today, one stamp originally costing five shillings can now sell for $10,000.
Unusual animals – most people think that marsupials only live in Australia. Not so. There are quite a few weird and wonderful examples here too, like the tree kangaroo, along with egg-laying mammals such as the echidna, the New Guinea Singing Dog (see below) and the world’s longest lizard, the Salvatori Monitor, which is over 3 metres long.
Amazing birdlife – any ornithologist would jump at the chance to visit New Guinea with its 700 species of birds. The most striking is the Bird of Paradise, whose mating ritual is emulated in the local tribal dances, and whose image adorns banknotes and the country’s flag. Another is the flightless Cassowary, which uses the bony protuberance on the top of its head to force its way through the dense rainforest. Then there are countless variety of parrot, cockatoo and hornbill, not to mention a pigeon the size of a turkey, and the pitihui, thought to be the only known example of a poisonous bird!
Natural Resources - the country is rich in minerals -gold and copper are mined extensively which together with oil, bring in three quarters of the country’s export earnings. Coconut and palm oil are also significant industries and PNG produces its own tea and coffee. The most spectacular resource – the trees of the rainforest – are being cut down at an alarming rate by loggers, however. Even so, companies have to tread carefully in this country as 97% of the country is owned by the people, and local clans expect compensation for lost land. When a copper mine polluted a river on the island of Bougainville in the 1980s, it provoked a ten year civil war and attempt at independence.
Eating people– usually considered to be wrong in most parts of the world, cannibalism used to be very common in parts of PNG, and human flesh, usually of a tribe’s enemies, was a treated as a delicacy. Thankfully, the practice largely disappeared in the 1950s, which was good news for the tourist trade.
World’s largest butterfly –the Queen Alexandra Birdwing butterfly, with a wingspan of over 30cm, is a tricky creature to find, in spite of its size. It lives only in the coastal rainforest in the northern part of the island, stays mostly up in the canopy, 30 meters from the ground, and only lives for about three months. The caterpillar feeds on a poisonous plant, the pipevine, which makes it toxic to any potential predator.
Gender Relations – the Trobriand Islanders aroused great interest amongst students of human nature after the publication of research by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in the 1920s. It appeared to show a reversal in the usual gender roles prevailing in most human societies. At the annual Yam Festival, the young maidens were very assertive in their quest for a mate, to the point where it was the custom for groups of adolescent girls to rape lone males.
Unusual musical instruments – bamboo bands were popular in the islands in the 1970s, musicians who played tubes of bamboo by hitting them with sandals! An older instrument is the nose flute, a piece of bamboo from which sound is produced not by blowing through the mouth but through the nose. The preference for this method of playing may be connected to the idea that breath, which passes through the nasal cavity, is the essence of the human soul.
Infinite variety of plants – there are over 11,000 known types of plant in New Guinea, the most colourful being the country’s orchids, of which there are 3,000 different species. PNG is rich in food plants - tropical fruits, root and leaf vegetables, beans and nuts, along with many herbs, spices and flavourings including pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla. Scientists hope that the islands’ yet uncatalogued plants could also hold cures for HIV, malaria and cancer.
New Guinea Singing Dog – most dogs whine or howl from time to time, but this species actually sounds like it is singing. The song has been likened to a bird call or even the sounds that whales make. It looks similar to the Australian Dingo with a reddish coat and pointed ears, and was only ‘discovered’ in the 1950s when a pair was taken to a zoo in Sydney. Scientists think it was originally domesticated, and then escaped to the mountain forests where it now makes its home.
Earthquakes and tidal waves - several tectonic plates meet under New Guinea and so it suffers from frequent earthquakes. These are often followed by tidal waves or tsunami. In July 1998, after an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, a tsunami ten metres high hit the north coast and more than 3,000 people lost their lives or went missing.
Airstrips – there were 560 at the last count- that’s one for every 10,000 people. (In comparison, Britain, with ten times the population, has only about 200). Going by plane is the easiest way to travel any distance as there are no railways, and the roads are often poor due to the mountainous terrain. And if you are responsible for a road accident, you may end up having your car stoned and burned, so you’re probably better off flying!
Parts of the body
By Richard Sidaway
There are 50 trillion cells in the human body, 206 bones, 32 teeth, and more than five and a half litres of blood. There is also at least one part of the body for every letter of the English alphabet. Here are 25 of them. Can you guess what they are.?
A: This is a 10cm long piece of the intestines and nobody can really work out what it’s for. It’s probably a leftover from the days when our ancestors were vegetarian, and many people have it removed when it becomes infected.
B: A muscular bag which expands to collects urine from the kidneys. It can hold as much as half a litre before you have to go to the toilet. They used to be kicked around as footballs and played as musical instruments, although only after the animals had finished using them…
C: Some people have clefts in theirs, others let hair grow on them…You keep it up to recover from a misfortune, and use the word twice to toast someone.
D: The little depression which appears each side of your mouth when you smile is, like the ability to make a u-shape with your tongue, genetic. You’ve either got it, or you haven’t…
E: That most perfect of organs, the biologist’s best argument for natural selection, the window to the soul. In sleep, it is covered by a lid. Close one and you wink, close two and you blink. The third is a symbol of enlightenment.
F: People paint the nails to make themselves more attractive and put rings on them to signify alliance. They help us read if we cannot see, and help us speak when we cannot hear. They wrote these words…
G: I’ve always thought that this sounds like the name of a distinguished Roman Emperor, but it is in fact the most powerful muscle in the human body. There are two of them and chances are you’re probably sitting on them right now.
H: The size of a fist, it beats 70 times a minute without stopping for more than 60 years. So much more than just a pump for the blood, it symbolizes love and the centre of our being. It can be followed, broken, even worn on your sleeve!
I: It opens and closes in reaction to light and gives colour to the eye. It is now scanned to check people’s identity. The word comes from the woman in Greek mythology who personified the rainbow.
J: The bone that opens and closes the mouth and holds your teeth. It drops if you are shocked or surprised. Snakes can unlock theirs if they’re having a particularly big lunch.
K: Bend it and you get shorter, get down on it and you show respect. Footballers and skiers put it under great stress. Children and ventriloquists’ dummies tend to use it as a seat. It should jerk if you hit it with a small hammer.
L: Some people fill theirs with smoke, although they are supposed to be used for getting oxygen to the blood and removing carbon dioxide. The right one is bigger than the left one. They have enough airways to cover a tennis court.
M: There are 650 of these and we move when they get shorter. They often work in pairs. Some you can’t control at all. One you can, supposedly, is the tongue. It takes 17 of them to make a smile.
N: The ‘wires’ which pass messages to and from the brain to all parts of the body by using electrical pulses and chemical changes. If the blood to them gets cut off, they get irritated and the result is ‘pins and needles’. There are over 70km of them in the skin alone.
O: About the size of a nut, there are two of these organs which produce an unfertilised human egg every month or so for about thirty years. They also release the hormones which change girls into women.
P: This is the part of the body that can be moved sensually while dancing and led to the invention of Hawaiian grass skirts, rock’n’roll and the hula-hoop. It is larger in women for the purposes of childbirth only because humans insist on having such big heads.  
R: Twelve pairs in both men and women form a cage to protect various vital organs inside. Some of them ‘float’ because they don’t meet in the middle. If you crack one, you just have to wait until it heals.
S: This is our surface covering. It takes a month for each new cell to move through the three layers to the top, after which it drops off. You lose about 50 kilos of it by the time you are 70. It comes in a variety of colours to protect us from the sun, and gets more wrinkled as we get older.
T: 60,000 litres of water pass down it in the average lifetime and sometimes you get a frog in it. It contains one pipe for food and one for air. Pressure on the outside can lead to strangulation, a blockage inside can cause suffocation.
U: The thing that hangs down at the back of your mouth. This is what you see when you yawn, and can sometimes cause people to snore when they are asleep.
V: This makes your blood look blue. Medical professionals use them if they need to extract a specimen for testing. They can become inflamed or varicose if you spend too much time in one position.
W: A joint that links fifteen separate bones. It is used to hang an accessory for telling the time, or one to persuade you to accompany the police to the station.   
X: A long continuous piece of DNA, containing around 1,000 genes, this is one of the 23 pairs that are found in human cells. Women have two of them, men one.
Y: A long continuous piece of DNA, containing between 70 and 300 genes. Its sequence has now been mapped by the Human Genome Project. It is found only inside the cells of the male of the species.
Z: If you’ve never heard of this, then you’re probably not the only one. Nor had I until I found out it’s another name for the cheekbone.
Parts of the body
By Richard Sidaway
There are 50 trillion cells in the human body, 206 bones, 32 teeth, and more than five and a half litres of blood. There is also at least one part of the body for every letter of the English alphabet. Here are 25 of them. Can you guess what they are.?
A: This is a 10cm long piece of the intestines and nobody can really work out what it’s for. It’s probably a leftover from the days when our ancestors were vegetarian, and many people have it removed when it becomes infected.
B: A muscular bag which expands to collects urine from the kidneys. It can hold as much as half a litre before you have to go to the toilet. They used to be kicked around as footballs and played as musical instruments, although only after the animals had finished using them…
C: Some people have clefts in theirs, others let hair grow on them…You keep it up to recover from a misfortune, and use the word twice to toast someone.
D: The little depression which appears each side of your mouth when you smile is, like the ability to make a u-shape with your tongue, genetic. You’ve either got it, or you haven’t…
E: That most perfect of organs, the biologist’s best argument for natural selection, the window to the soul. In sleep, it is covered by a lid. Close one and you wink, close two and you blink. The third is a symbol of enlightenment.
F: People paint the nails to make themselves more attractive and put rings on them to signify alliance. They help us read if we cannot see, and help us speak when we cannot hear. They wrote these words…
G: I’ve always thought that this sounds like the name of a distinguished Roman Emperor, but it is in fact the most powerful muscle in the human body. There are two of them and chances are you’re probably sitting on them right now.
H: The size of a fist, it beats 70 times a minute without stopping for more than 60 years. So much more than just a pump for the blood, it symbolizes love and the centre of our being. It can be followed, broken, even worn on your sleeve!
I: It opens and closes in reaction to light and gives colour to the eye. It is now scanned to check people’s identity. The word comes from the woman in Greek mythology who personified the rainbow.
J: The bone that opens and closes the mouth and holds your teeth. It drops if you are shocked or surprised. Snakes can unlock theirs if they’re having a particularly big lunch.
K: Bend it and you get shorter, get down on it and you show respect. Footballers and skiers put it under great stress. Children and ventriloquists’ dummies tend to use it as a seat. It should jerk if you hit it with a small hammer.
L: Some people fill theirs with smoke, although they are supposed to be used for getting oxygen to the blood and removing carbon dioxide. The right one is bigger than the left one. They have enough airways to cover a tennis court.
M: There are 650 of these and we move when they get shorter. They often work in pairs. Some you can’t control at all. One you can, supposedly, is the tongue. It takes 17 of them to make a smile.
N: The ‘wires’ which pass messages to and from the brain to all parts of the body by using electrical pulses and chemical changes. If the blood to them gets cut off, they get irritated and the result is ‘pins and needles’. There are over 70km of them in the skin alone.
O: About the size of a nut, there are two of these organs which produce an unfertilised human egg every month or so for about thirty years. They also release the hormones which change girls into women.
P: This is the part of the body that can be moved sensually while dancing and led to the invention of Hawaiian grass skirts, rock’n’roll and the hula-hoop. It is larger in women for the purposes of childbirth only because humans insist on having such big heads.  
R: Twelve pairs in both men and women form a cage to protect various vital organs inside. Some of them ‘float’ because they don’t meet in the middle. If you crack one, you just have to wait until it heals.
S: This is our surface covering. It takes a month for each new cell to move through the three layers to the top, after which it drops off. You lose about 50 kilos of it by the time you are 70. It comes in a variety of colours to protect us from the sun, and gets more wrinkled as we get older.
T: 60,000 litres of water pass down it in the average lifetime and sometimes you get a frog in it. It contains one pipe for food and one for air. Pressure on the outside can lead to strangulation, a blockage inside can cause suffocation.
U: The thing that hangs down at the back of your mouth. This is what you see when you yawn, and can sometimes cause people to snore when they are asleep.
V: This makes your blood look blue. Medical professionals use them if they need to extract a specimen for testing. They can become inflamed or varicose if you spend too much time in one position.
W: A joint that links fifteen separate bones. It is used to hang an accessory for telling the time, or one to persuade you to accompany the police to the station.   
X: A long continuous piece of DNA, containing around 1,000 genes, this is one of the 23 pairs that are found in human cells. Women have two of them, men one.
Y: A long continuous piece of DNA, containing between 70 and 300 genes. Its sequence has now been mapped by the Human Genome Project. It is found only inside the cells of the male of the species.
Z: If you’ve never heard of this, then you’re probably not the only one. Nor had I until I found out it’s another name for the cheekbone.
Peace symbols
By Linda Baxter
The concept of peace is a very important one in cultures all over the world. Think about how we greet people. In some languages, the phrases for greetings contain the word for peace. In some cultures we greet people by shaking hands or with another gesture to show that we are not carrying weapons - that we come in peace. And there are certain symbols which people in very different cultures recognise as representing peace. Let's look at the origins of a few of them.
The dove
The dove has been a symbol of peace and innocence for thousands of years in many different cultures. In ancient Greek mythology it was a symbol of love and the renewal of life. In ancient Japan a dove carrying a sword symbolised the end of war.
There was a tradition in Europe that if a dove flew around a house where someone was dying then their soul would be at peace. And there are legends which say that the devil can turn himself into any bird except for a dove. In Christian art, the dove was used to symbolise the Holy Ghost and was often painted above Christ's head.
But it was Pablo Picasso who made the dove a modern symbol of peace when he used it on a poster for the World Peace Congress in 1949.
The rainbow
The rainbow is another ancient and universal symbol, often representing the connection between human beings and their gods. In Greek mythology it was associated with Iris, the goddess who brought messages from the gods on Mount Olympus. In Scandinavian mythology the rainbow was a bridge between the gods and the earth. In the Bible a rainbow showed Noah that the Biblical flood was finally over, and that God had forgiven his people. In the Chinese tradition, the rainbow is a common symbol for marriage because the colours represent the union of yin and yang. Nowadays the rainbow is used by many popular movements for peace and the environment, representing the possibility of a better world in the future and promising sunshine after the rain.
Mistletoe
This plant was sacred in many cultures, generally representing peace and love. Most people know of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas time, which probably comes from Scandinavian mythology. The goddess Freya's son was killed by an arrow made of mistletoe, so, in honour of him, she declared that it would always be a symbol of peace. It was often hung in doorways as a sign of friendship.
The ancient Druids believed that hanging mistletoe in your doorway protected you from evil spirits. Tribes would stop fighting for a period of time if they found a tree with mistletoe. But you will never see mistletoe in a Christian church - it is banned because of its associations with pagan religion and superstition.
The olive branch
The olive tree has always been a valuable source of food and oil. In Greek mythology, the goddess Athene gave the olive tree to the people of Athens, who showed their gratitude by naming the city after her. But no one knows for sure when or why it began to symbolise peace. There is probably a connection with ancient Greece. Wars between states were suspended during the Olympic Games, and the winners were given crowns of olive branches. The symbolism may come from the fact that the olive tree takes a long time to produce fruit, so olives could only be cultivated successfully in long periods of peace. Whatever the history, the olive branch is a part of many modern flags symbolising peace and unity. One well-known example is the United Nations symbol.
The ankh
The ankh is an ancient symbol which was adopted by the hippie movement in the 1960s to represent peace and love. It was found in many Asian cultures, but is generally associated with ancient Egypt. It represented life and immortality. Egyptians were buried with an ankh, so that they could continue to live in the 'afterworld'. The symbol was also found along the sides of the Nile, which gave life to the people. They believed that the ankh could control the flow of the river and make sure that there was always enough water.

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Peace symbols
By Linda Baxter
The concept of peace is a very important one in cultures all over the world. Think about how we greet people. In some languages, the phrases for greetings contain the word for peace. In some cultures we greet people by shaking hands or with another gesture to show that we are not carrying weapons - that we come in peace. And there are certain symbols which people in very different cultures recognise as representing peace. Let's look at the origins of a few of them.
The dove
The dove has been a symbol of peace and innocence for thousands of years in many different cultures. In ancient Greek mythology it was a symbol of love and the renewal of life. In ancient Japan a dove carrying a sword symbolised the end of war.
There was a tradition in Europe that if a dove flew around a house where someone was dying then their soul would be at peace. And there are legends which say that the devil can turn himself into any bird except for a dove. In Christian art, the dove was used to symbolise the Holy Ghost and was often painted above Christ's head.
But it was Pablo Picasso who made the dove a modern symbol of peace when he used it on a poster for the World Peace Congress in 1949.
The rainbow
The rainbow is another ancient and universal symbol, often representing the connection between human beings and their gods. In Greek mythology it was associated with Iris, the goddess who brought messages from the gods on Mount Olympus. In Scandinavian mythology the rainbow was a bridge between the gods and the earth. In the Bible a rainbow showed Noah that the Biblical flood was finally over, and that God had forgiven his people. In the Chinese tradition, the rainbow is a common symbol for marriage because the colours represent the union of yin and yang. Nowadays the rainbow is used by many popular movements for peace and the environment, representing the possibility of a better world in the future and promising sunshine after the rain.
Mistletoe
This plant was sacred in many cultures, generally representing peace and love. Most people know of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas time, which probably comes from Scandinavian mythology. The goddess Freya's son was killed by an arrow made of mistletoe, so, in honour of him, she declared that it would always be a symbol of peace. It was often hung in doorways as a sign of friendship.
The ancient Druids believed that hanging mistletoe in your doorway protected you from evil spirits. Tribes would stop fighting for a period of time if they found a tree with mistletoe. But you will never see mistletoe in a Christian church - it is banned because of its associations with pagan religion and superstition.
The olive branch
The olive tree has always been a valuable source of food and oil. In Greek mythology, the goddess Athene gave the olive tree to the people of Athens, who showed their gratitude by naming the city after her. But no one knows for sure when or why it began to symbolise peace. There is probably a connection with ancient Greece. Wars between states were suspended during the Olympic Games, and the winners were given crowns of olive branches. The symbolism may come from the fact that the olive tree takes a long time to produce fruit, so olives could only be cultivated successfully in long periods of peace. Whatever the history, the olive branch is a part of many modern flags symbolising peace and unity. One well-known example is the United Nations symbol.
The ankh
The ankh is an ancient symbol which was adopted by the hippie movement in the 1960s to represent peace and love. It was found in many Asian cultures, but is generally associated with ancient Egypt. It represented life and immortality. Egyptians were buried with an ankh, so that they could continue to live in the 'afterworld'. The symbol was also found along the sides of the Nile, which gave life to the people. They believed that the ankh could control the flow of the river and make sure that there was always enough water.

Peacekeeping
By Richard Sidaway
 
What is it?
Wherever there is conflict in the world and enemies have agreed to let a third party or neutral force come in to try and maintain the peace, it is usually the familiar blue helmets of the United Nations that we see on the scene.
The actual definition of peacekeeping is a bit unclear and it was never written into the original UN Charter, but it goes something like 'using military personnel from different countries under the command of the UN to control and resolve armed conflict either between or within states’. Peacekeeping is neither just finding out the facts nor full-scale military intervention, but something in between.
Over the last ten years it has become clear that for peacekeeping to work certain things must already be in place – the conflict must actually have finished and there must be a genuine desire for peace on both sides. The peacekeeping force must have clear international support and a mandate that shows it is strictly neutral; and it needs adequate resources to do the job.
How long has it been going on?
There have been 56 UN peacekeeping operations in total since 1948, although over 30 of those have happened since 1990.
Two of these operations have in fact never stopped since 1948: the interventions in the Arab/Israeli conflict following the foundation of the state of Israel, and in the dispute between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir region.
Another that has been going on for over forty years is on the divided island of Cyprus, where peace has been maintained between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since March 1964.
Are all UN peacekeeping missions similar?
There are different types of intervention, some more discrete than others:
Observation/monitoring only, for example of Cuban troops leaving Angola or of the Iran-Iraq ceasefire in 1991
Assisting a country to independence, for example in Namibia 1978-1989
Armed intervention, for example in the Suez Canal region 1956-1967 to keep Egypt and Israel apart and supervise the withdrawal of troops from the UK, France and Israel
Who are the peacekeepers?
They are professional soldiers, civilian police and military observers from any member country of the UN. These countries also provide supplies, transportation, telecommunications, and administrative help, amongst other things.
Who pays?
These forces are paid for by all UN member countries. The budget is currently $2.82 billion, although they have been a bit behind in their payments recently- $2.3 billion is still owing!
What do they actually do?
The typical image of a peacekeeper is a soldier sitting in a watchtower with a pair of binoculars keeping an eye on a border, but they also organise the clearing of mines, supervise elections, monitor human rights and oversee the return of refugees to their homes.
It is a risky occupation and sometimes they have to resort to force to defend themselves, recently for example in Liberia. Since peacekeeping began there have been 1,879 fatalities, the highest being between 1993 and 1995 when over 500 UN peacekeepers were killed.
Give me some success stories
UN peacekeeping missions have intervened very successfully following the end of civil wars such as in El Salvador 1991-95, Mozambique 1992-94 and Cambodia 1991-93 where they verified agreements on ceasefires, elections, land and electoral reform, organised the demobilization of soldiers and helped create new police forces.
In East Timor in 1999 they restored order after the violent reaction to the vote for self-government and they were the transitional administration that helped Timor to create new structures after independence in 2002.
Didn’t peacekeeping get a bad name in the 1990s?
Somalia was the first big failure for UN intervention in 1992. In Srebrenica in 1994, a Dutch force under UN command failed to prevent a massacre of the local population, and in Rwanda in the same year there was full-scale genocide of nearly a million people, despite a peacekeeping force of 5,000.
Four UN missions to Angola failed to stop civil war breaking out again and again. It seems only if there is a real will to turn away from war, can peacekeepers be effective.
The future
Now that the Cold War is over and small localised wars break out ever more frequently, there have been calls for the establishment of a UN Rapid Response force, so that it doesn’t take the international community six months to assemble a peacekeeping mission, by which time it is often too late.
The attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 has also called into question the respect for being impartial which the organisation thought it had.
Nevertheless, most people agree that the world still needs some kind of neutral body, backed by force if necessary, for helping former enemies make the transition from war to peace.
 
Peacekeeping
By Richard Sidaway
 
What is it?
Wherever there is conflict in the world and enemies have agreed to let a third party or neutral force come in to try and maintain the peace, it is usually the familiar blue helmets of the United Nations that we see on the scene.
The actual definition of peacekeeping is a bit unclear and it was never written into the original UN Charter, but it goes something like 'using military personnel from different countries under the command of the UN to control and resolve armed conflict either between or within states’. Peacekeeping is neither just finding out the facts nor full-scale military intervention, but something in between.
Over the last ten years it has become clear that for peacekeeping to work certain things must already be in place – the conflict must actually have finished and there must be a genuine desire for peace on both sides. The peacekeeping force must have clear international support and a mandate that shows it is strictly neutral; and it needs adequate resources to do the job.
How long has it been going on?
There have been 56 UN peacekeeping operations in total since 1948, although over 30 of those have happened since 1990.
Two of these operations have in fact never stopped since 1948: the interventions in the Arab/Israeli conflict following the foundation of the state of Israel, and in the dispute between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir region.
Another that has been going on for over forty years is on the divided island of Cyprus, where peace has been maintained between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since March 1964.
Are all UN peacekeeping missions similar?
There are different types of intervention, some more discrete than others:
Observation/monitoring only, for example of Cuban troops leaving Angola or of the Iran-Iraq ceasefire in 1991
Assisting a country to independence, for example in Namibia 1978-1989
Armed intervention, for example in the Suez Canal region 1956-1967 to keep Egypt and Israel apart and supervise the withdrawal of troops from the UK, France and Israel
Who are the peacekeepers?
They are professional soldiers, civilian police and military observers from any member country of the UN. These countries also provide supplies, transportation, telecommunications, and administrative help, amongst other things.
Who pays?
These forces are paid for by all UN member countries. The budget is currently $2.82 billion, although they have been a bit behind in their payments recently- $2.3 billion is still owing!
What do they actually do?
The typical image of a peacekeeper is a soldier sitting in a watchtower with a pair of binoculars keeping an eye on a border, but they also organise the clearing of mines, supervise elections, monitor human rights and oversee the return of refugees to their homes.
It is a risky occupation and sometimes they have to resort to force to defend themselves, recently for example in Liberia. Since peacekeeping began there have been 1,879 fatalities, the highest being between 1993 and 1995 when over 500 UN peacekeepers were killed.
Give me some success stories
UN peacekeeping missions have intervened very successfully following the end of civil wars such as in El Salvador 1991-95, Mozambique 1992-94 and Cambodia 1991-93 where they verified agreements on ceasefires, elections, land and electoral reform, organised the demobilization of soldiers and helped create new police forces.
In East Timor in 1999 they restored order after the violent reaction to the vote for self-government and they were the transitional administration that helped Timor to create new structures after independence in 2002.
Didn’t peacekeeping get a bad name in the 1990s?
Somalia was the first big failure for UN intervention in 1992. In Srebrenica in 1994, a Dutch force under UN command failed to prevent a massacre of the local population, and in Rwanda in the same year there was full-scale genocide of nearly a million people, despite a peacekeeping force of 5,000.
Four UN missions to Angola failed to stop civil war breaking out again and again. It seems only if there is a real will to turn away from war, can peacekeepers be effective.
The future
Now that the Cold War is over and small localised wars break out ever more frequently, there have been calls for the establishment of a UN Rapid Response force, so that it doesn’t take the international community six months to assemble a peacekeeping mission, by which time it is often too late.
The attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 has also called into question the respect for being impartial which the organisation thought it had.
Nevertheless, most people agree that the world still needs some kind of neutral body, backed by force if necessary, for helping former enemies make the transition from war to peace.
 
Peacekeeping
By Richard Sidaway
 
What is it?
Wherever there is conflict in the world and enemies have agreed to let a third party or neutral force come in to try and maintain the peace, it is usually the familiar blue helmets of the United Nations that we see on the scene.
The actual definition of peacekeeping is a bit unclear and it was never written into the original UN Charter, but it goes something like 'using military personnel from different countries under the command of the UN to control and resolve armed conflict either between or within states’. Peacekeeping is neither just finding out the facts nor full-scale military intervention, but something in between.
Over the last ten years it has become clear that for peacekeeping to work certain things must already be in place – the conflict must actually have finished and there must be a genuine desire for peace on both sides. The peacekeeping force must have clear international support and a mandate that shows it is strictly neutral; and it needs adequate resources to do the job.
How long has it been going on?
There have been 56 UN peacekeeping operations in total since 1948, although over 30 of those have happened since 1990.
Two of these operations have in fact never stopped since 1948: the interventions in the Arab/Israeli conflict following the foundation of the state of Israel, and in the dispute between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir region.
Another that has been going on for over forty years is on the divided island of Cyprus, where peace has been maintained between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since March 1964.
Are all UN peacekeeping missions similar?
There are different types of intervention, some more discrete than others:
Observation/monitoring only, for example of Cuban troops leaving Angola or of the Iran-Iraq ceasefire in 1991
Assisting a country to independence, for example in Namibia 1978-1989
Armed intervention, for example in the Suez Canal region 1956-1967 to keep Egypt and Israel apart and supervise the withdrawal of troops from the UK, France and Israel
Who are the peacekeepers?
They are professional soldiers, civilian police and military observers from any member country of the UN. These countries also provide supplies, transportation, telecommunications, and administrative help, amongst other things.
Who pays?
These forces are paid for by all UN member countries. The budget is currently $2.82 billion, although they have been a bit behind in their payments recently- $2.3 billion is still owing!
What do they actually do?
The typical image of a peacekeeper is a soldier sitting in a watchtower with a pair of binoculars keeping an eye on a border, but they also organise the clearing of mines, supervise elections, monitor human rights and oversee the return of refugees to their homes.
It is a risky occupation and sometimes they have to resort to force to defend themselves, recently for example in Liberia. Since peacekeeping began there have been 1,879 fatalities, the highest being between 1993 and 1995 when over 500 UN peacekeepers were killed.
Give me some success stories
UN peacekeeping missions have intervened very successfully following the end of civil wars such as in El Salvador 1991-95, Mozambique 1992-94 and Cambodia 1991-93 where they verified agreements on ceasefires, elections, land and electoral reform, organised the demobilization of soldiers and helped create new police forces.
In East Timor in 1999 they restored order after the violent reaction to the vote for self-government and they were the transitional administration that helped Timor to create new structures after independence in 2002.
Didn’t peacekeeping get a bad name in the 1990s?
Somalia was the first big failure for UN intervention in 1992. In Srebrenica in 1994, a Dutch force under UN command failed to prevent a massacre of the local population, and in Rwanda in the same year there was full-scale genocide of nearly a million people, despite a peacekeeping force of 5,000.
Four UN missions to Angola failed to stop civil war breaking out again and again. It seems only if there is a real will to turn away from war, can peacekeepers be effective.
The future
Now that the Cold War is over and small localised wars break out ever more frequently, there have been calls for the establishment of a UN Rapid Response force, so that it doesn’t take the international community six months to assemble a peacekeeping mission, by which time it is often too late.
The attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 has also called into question the respect for being impartial which the organisation thought it had.
Nevertheless, most people agree that the world still needs some kind of neutral body, backed by force if necessary, for helping former enemies make the transition from war to peace.
 
Peacekeeping
By Richard Sidaway
 
What is it?
Wherever there is conflict in the world and enemies have agreed to let a third party or neutral force come in to try and maintain the peace, it is usually the familiar blue helmets of the United Nations that we see on the scene.
The actual definition of peacekeeping is a bit unclear and it was never written into the original UN Charter, but it goes something like 'using military personnel from different countries under the command of the UN to control and resolve armed conflict either between or within states’. Peacekeeping is neither just finding out the facts nor full-scale military intervention, but something in between.
Over the last ten years it has become clear that for peacekeeping to work certain things must already be in place – the conflict must actually have finished and there must be a genuine desire for peace on both sides. The peacekeeping force must have clear international support and a mandate that shows it is strictly neutral; and it needs adequate resources to do the job.
How long has it been going on?
There have been 56 UN peacekeeping operations in total since 1948, although over 30 of those have happened since 1990.
Two of these operations have in fact never stopped since 1948: the interventions in the Arab/Israeli conflict following the foundation of the state of Israel, and in the dispute between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir region.
Another that has been going on for over forty years is on the divided island of Cyprus, where peace has been maintained between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since March 1964.
Are all UN peacekeeping missions similar?
There are different types of intervention, some more discrete than others:
Observation/monitoring only, for example of Cuban troops leaving Angola or of the Iran-Iraq ceasefire in 1991
Assisting a country to independence, for example in Namibia 1978-1989
Armed intervention, for example in the Suez Canal region 1956-1967 to keep Egypt and Israel apart and supervise the withdrawal of troops from the UK, France and Israel
Who are the peacekeepers?
They are professional soldiers, civilian police and military observers from any member country of the UN. These countries also provide supplies, transportation, telecommunications, and administrative help, amongst other things.
Who pays?
These forces are paid for by all UN member countries. The budget is currently $2.82 billion, although they have been a bit behind in their payments recently- $2.3 billion is still owing!
What do they actually do?
The typical image of a peacekeeper is a soldier sitting in a watchtower with a pair of binoculars keeping an eye on a border, but they also organise the clearing of mines, supervise elections, monitor human rights and oversee the return of refugees to their homes.
It is a risky occupation and sometimes they have to resort to force to defend themselves, recently for example in Liberia. Since peacekeeping began there have been 1,879 fatalities, the highest being between 1993 and 1995 when over 500 UN peacekeepers were killed.
Give me some success stories
UN peacekeeping missions have intervened very successfully following the end of civil wars such as in El Salvador 1991-95, Mozambique 1992-94 and Cambodia 1991-93 where they verified agreements on ceasefires, elections, land and electoral reform, organised the demobilization of soldiers and helped create new police forces.
In East Timor in 1999 they restored order after the violent reaction to the vote for self-government and they were the transitional administration that helped Timor to create new structures after independence in 2002.
Didn’t peacekeeping get a bad name in the 1990s?
Somalia was the first big failure for UN intervention in 1992. In Srebrenica in 1994, a Dutch force under UN command failed to prevent a massacre of the local population, and in Rwanda in the same year there was full-scale genocide of nearly a million people, despite a peacekeeping force of 5,000.
Four UN missions to Angola failed to stop civil war breaking out again and again. It seems only if there is a real will to turn away from war, can peacekeepers be effective.
The future
Now that the Cold War is over and small localised wars break out ever more frequently, there have been calls for the establishment of a UN Rapid Response force, so that it doesn’t take the international community six months to assemble a peacekeeping mission, by which time it is often too late.
The attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 has also called into question the respect for being impartial which the organisation thought it had.
Nevertheless, most people agree that the world still needs some kind of neutral body, backed by force if necessary, for helping former enemies make the transition from war to peace.
 
Pilgrims
By Claire Powell and Dave Collett
 
Who were the pilgrims?
There are many legends surrounding the pilgrims. In fact they were real people: English men and women who wanted to escape the religious controversies and economic problems of their time by emigrating to America.
The pilgrim story begins in England in the 16th century. A congregation of religious dissidents in Nottinghamshire believed the Church of England did not act in accordance with the teachings of the Bible so they established a church of their own in 1606. At that time the church and state were one, so being a separatist was considered an act of treason. The congregation had no choice but to leave their motherland. They fled to the city of Leiden in Holland where they could worship as they liked.
Unfortunately life was hard there, so they decided to emigrate to the English colonies in North America, then known as ‘Virginia’. Other pilgrims also came for the economic opportunity, although they remained loyal to their national church.
Finance
The voyage and settlement was financed by a group of English investors known as the ‘merchant adventurers’. They formed a partnership with the colonists whereby the merchants agreed to risk their money, and the settlers to invest their labour, for seven years. Land and livestock were jointly owned and the company would dissolve and divide its assets after the seven years.
Departure to New England
On September  6, 1620, aboard a ship called the Mayflower, 102 passengers set sail across the Atlantic. The crossing was smooth at first but then came many storms, which damaged the ship. Two people died on board and one baby, named Oceanus, was born. Eventually, after 66 days of travelling, the emigrants arrived in Cape Cod in southeastern Massachusetts. The pilgrims chose to stay here as it was too late to go to the northern part of Virginia.
The first winter
The pilgrims went ashore to explore the wilderness. They had carried a small boat in sections below decks on the Mayflower, and this had to be assembled before groups could go and explore the coastline. Exploration began with a small group of 16 men. They discovered a buried cache of corn and a kettle, signs that the native Americans had a camp there.
Later on, in December, the pilgrims discovered a sheltered bay, called Plymouth Harbour, a place which was protected and good for them to live permanently. Their first winter was much colder than the English winters they had experienced before, but all the same, the pilgrims continued exploring. They found a native American burial ground and unoccupied homes. After a cold night camping, the pilgrims came face to face with the native Americans at dawn. The pilgrims fled back to their boat and sailed home to Plymouth Harbour.
The pilgrims began building houses, but the weather conditions were terrible, meaning that the building took longer to complete. Some of the thatched houses caught fire as a result of pilgrims cooking and trying to keep warm. The pilgrims sheltered from the snowstorms in the Mayflower ship. About half the group died from the bitter cold and from malnutrition, although happily, a baby, Peregrine, was also born. The pilgrims persevered and finally finished their village in February.
The native Americans met the pilgrims on March 16th. A native American, Samoset, from present-day Maine, welcomed the pilgrims in English. Samoset had learnt English from fishermen. He explained how previous explorers had kidnapped some native Americans, and said he hoped they would be able to live peacefully together. Massasoit, the regional leader of the Wampanoag also visited the pilgrims and they exchanged gifts. They signed a peace treaty, which would last for over 50 years.
The first Thanksgiving festival was held in the autumn of 1621, and Massasoit was invited. Together, they celebrated the harvest and the success of their peace with feasting and dancing. This festival is now a public holiday in the USA.
 
Glossary
assemble (v): to build or make something.
assets (n): (in business) buildings, equipment and land owned by a company.
cache (n): a hidden store.
controversy (n): a lot of argument or disagreement about something, usually because it affects or is important to many people.
dawn (n): when the sun rises in the morning.
dissident (n): a person who publicly disagrees with and criticises their government.
dissolve (v): to end an official organisation or legal arrangement.flee,
fled (v): to run away from something / somebody.
loyal (adj): not changing your friendship, support for a person or an organisation.
malnutrition (n): a poor condition of health caused by a lack of food or a lack of the right type of food.
merchant (n): a person whose job is to buy and sell products in large amounts, especially by trading with other countries.
persevere (v): to continue to work hard at something, even if it is very difficult.
separatist (n): someone who is a member of a racial, religious or other group. within a country who believes that this group should be independent.
thatched house (n): a house where the roof is made of dried straw or thick grass.
treason (n): (the crime of) lack of loyalty to your country, especially by helping its enemies or attempting to defeat its government.
unoccupied (adj): an adjective describing an empty place that nobody lives in.
Pilgrims
By Claire Powell and Dave Collett
 
Who were the pilgrims?
There are many legends surrounding the pilgrims. In fact they were real people: English men and women who wanted to escape the religious controversies and economic problems of their time by emigrating to America.
The pilgrim story begins in England in the 16th century. A congregation of religious dissidents in Nottinghamshire believed the Church of England did not act in accordance with the teachings of the Bible so they established a church of their own in 1606. At that time the church and state were one, so being a separatist was considered an act of treason. The congregation had no choice but to leave their motherland. They fled to the city of Leiden in Holland where they could worship as they liked.
Unfortunately life was hard there, so they decided to emigrate to the English colonies in North America, then known as ‘Virginia’. Other pilgrims also came for the economic opportunity, although they remained loyal to their national church.
Finance
The voyage and settlement was financed by a group of English investors known as the ‘merchant adventurers’. They formed a partnership with the colonists whereby the merchants agreed to risk their money, and the settlers to invest their labour, for seven years. Land and livestock were jointly owned and the company would dissolve and divide its assets after the seven years.
Departure to New England
On September  6, 1620, aboard a ship called the Mayflower, 102 passengers set sail across the Atlantic. The crossing was smooth at first but then came many storms, which damaged the ship. Two people died on board and one baby, named Oceanus, was born. Eventually, after 66 days of travelling, the emigrants arrived in Cape Cod in southeastern Massachusetts. The pilgrims chose to stay here as it was too late to go to the northern part of Virginia.
The first winter
The pilgrims went ashore to explore the wilderness. They had carried a small boat in sections below decks on the Mayflower, and this had to be assembled before groups could go and explore the coastline. Exploration began with a small group of 16 men. They discovered a buried cache of corn and a kettle, signs that the native Americans had a camp there.
Later on, in December, the pilgrims discovered a sheltered bay, called Plymouth Harbour, a place which was protected and good for them to live permanently. Their first winter was much colder than the English winters they had experienced before, but all the same, the pilgrims continued exploring. They found a native American burial ground and unoccupied homes. After a cold night camping, the pilgrims came face to face with the native Americans at dawn. The pilgrims fled back to their boat and sailed home to Plymouth Harbour.
The pilgrims began building houses, but the weather conditions were terrible, meaning that the building took longer to complete. Some of the thatched houses caught fire as a result of pilgrims cooking and trying to keep warm. The pilgrims sheltered from the snowstorms in the Mayflower ship. About half the group died from the bitter cold and from malnutrition, although happily, a baby, Peregrine, was also born. The pilgrims persevered and finally finished their village in February.
The native Americans met the pilgrims on March 16th. A native American, Samoset, from present-day Maine, welcomed the pilgrims in English. Samoset had learnt English from fishermen. He explained how previous explorers had kidnapped some native Americans, and said he hoped they would be able to live peacefully together. Massasoit, the regional leader of the Wampanoag also visited the pilgrims and they exchanged gifts. They signed a peace treaty, which would last for over 50 years.
The first Thanksgiving festival was held in the autumn of 1621, and Massasoit was invited. Together, they celebrated the harvest and the success of their peace with feasting and dancing. This festival is now a public holiday in the USA.
 
Glossary
assemble (v): to build or make something.
assets (n): (in business) buildings, equipment and land owned by a company.
cache (n): a hidden store.
controversy (n): a lot of argument or disagreement about something, usually because it affects or is important to many people.
dawn (n): when the sun rises in the morning.
dissident (n): a person who publicly disagrees with and criticises their government.
dissolve (v): to end an official organisation or legal arrangement.flee,
fled (v): to run away from something / somebody.
loyal (adj): not changing your friendship, support for a person or an organisation.
malnutrition (n): a poor condition of health caused by a lack of food or a lack of the right type of food.
merchant (n): a person whose job is to buy and sell products in large amounts, especially by trading with other countries.
persevere (v): to continue to work hard at something, even if it is very difficult.
separatist (n): someone who is a member of a racial, religious or other group. within a country who believes that this group should be independent.
thatched house (n): a house where the roof is made of dried straw or thick grass.
treason (n): (the crime of) lack of loyalty to your country, especially by helping its enemies or attempting to defeat its government.
unoccupied (adj): an adjective describing an empty place that nobody lives in.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
By Dave Collett
What does the term ‘racial discrimination’ mean? It means to treat a person differently based on race rather than capability. In most countries, this is considered against the law and many people have been put into prison for racial discrimination.
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die". Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is one of the world’s greatest heroes for his struggle to free the people of South Africa. He spent his whole life fighting for racial equality. He formed a political party called Umkhoto we Sizwe in 1961 after all forms of peaceful protests failed. He travelled abroad for his cause even though he knew of the danger he was posing to himself when he returned to South Africa. Not long after, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released in 1990 after being in jail for 28 years. Three years later, in 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to abolish racial discrimination in South Africa. He is an inspiration to all the deprived and oppressed people in the world and has never tolerated any form of racism.
In the beginning, the aim of ‘apartheid’ was to keep the white people in South Africa in total control of the country as well as dividing the races. In the 1960’s, the Grand Apartheid plan was created to emphasize the separation of territories and police repression.
The apartheid laws were created in 1948. White people weren’t allowed to marry non-white people and there was a sanction of ‘white-only jobs’. By 1950, all South Africans were categorized into three categories: white, black or coloured. People who belonged to the coloured category were neither black nor white, maybe from an Asian or Indian background.
This table below is one example of the apartheid policy and how effective it was in keeping the black people of South Africa oppressed. As you can see from the table although the black population was much higher, they had fewer doctors and teachers. Therefore young children died early and the older ones received little education.
Table to be inserted here - see http://www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish-central-magazine-racial-discr...

It was obligatory for a black person to carry a passbook containing their fingerprints, photo and information whenever they wanted to enter a non-black area. This meant that Africans who lived in their homelands needed passports to enter South Africa, their own country!

March 21, 1960 marked a tragic day in the history of South Africa. A big group of blacks in the township of Sharpeville were protesting peacefully by refusing to carry their passes and as many as 69 people were shot by the police and 187 people were wounded. This incident was known by many people as the Sharpeville Massacre. Despite this tragedy, the white regime had no intention of changing the unjust laws of apartheid. Later on, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Due to the problems of ‘apartheid’ South Africa was expelled from the United Nations in 1974.

Now the United Nations calls on all international communities to work together to fight against racial discrimination as well as to commemorate this tragedy in hopes of a better future for the world.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
By Dave Collett
What does the term ‘racial discrimination’ mean? It means to treat a person differently based on race rather than capability. In most countries, this is considered against the law and many people have been put into prison for racial discrimination.
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die". Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is one of the world’s greatest heroes for his struggle to free the people of South Africa. He spent his whole life fighting for racial equality. He formed a political party called Umkhoto we Sizwe in 1961 after all forms of peaceful protests failed. He travelled abroad for his cause even though he knew of the danger he was posing to himself when he returned to South Africa. Not long after, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released in 1990 after being in jail for 28 years. Three years later, in 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to abolish racial discrimination in South Africa. He is an inspiration to all the deprived and oppressed people in the world and has never tolerated any form of racism.
In the beginning, the aim of ‘apartheid’ was to keep the white people in South Africa in total control of the country as well as dividing the races. In the 1960’s, the Grand Apartheid plan was created to emphasize the separation of territories and police repression.
The apartheid laws were created in 1948. White people weren’t allowed to marry non-white people and there was a sanction of ‘white-only jobs’. By 1950, all South Africans were categorized into three categories: white, black or coloured. People who belonged to the coloured category were neither black nor white, maybe from an Asian or Indian background.
This table below is one example of the apartheid policy and how effective it was in keeping the black people of South Africa oppressed. As you can see from the table although the black population was much higher, they had fewer doctors and teachers. Therefore young children died early and the older ones received little education.
Table to be inserted here - see http://www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish-central-magazine-racial-discr...

It was obligatory for a black person to carry a passbook containing their fingerprints, photo and information whenever they wanted to enter a non-black area. This meant that Africans who lived in their homelands needed passports to enter South Africa, their own country!

March 21, 1960 marked a tragic day in the history of South Africa. A big group of blacks in the township of Sharpeville were protesting peacefully by refusing to carry their passes and as many as 69 people were shot by the police and 187 people were wounded. This incident was known by many people as the Sharpeville Massacre. Despite this tragedy, the white regime had no intention of changing the unjust laws of apartheid. Later on, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Due to the problems of ‘apartheid’ South Africa was expelled from the United Nations in 1974.

Now the United Nations calls on all international communities to work together to fight against racial discrimination as well as to commemorate this tragedy in hopes of a better future for the world.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
By Dave Collett
What does the term ‘racial discrimination’ mean? It means to treat a person differently based on race rather than capability. In most countries, this is considered against the law and many people have been put into prison for racial discrimination.
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die". Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is one of the world’s greatest heroes for his struggle to free the people of South Africa. He spent his whole life fighting for racial equality. He formed a political party called Umkhoto we Sizwe in 1961 after all forms of peaceful protests failed. He travelled abroad for his cause even though he knew of the danger he was posing to himself when he returned to South Africa. Not long after, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released in 1990 after being in jail for 28 years. Three years later, in 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to abolish racial discrimination in South Africa. He is an inspiration to all the deprived and oppressed people in the world and has never tolerated any form of racism.
In the beginning, the aim of ‘apartheid’ was to keep the white people in South Africa in total control of the country as well as dividing the races. In the 1960’s, the Grand Apartheid plan was created to emphasize the separation of territories and police repression.
The apartheid laws were created in 1948. White people weren’t allowed to marry non-white people and there was a sanction of ‘white-only jobs’. By 1950, all South Africans were categorized into three categories: white, black or coloured. People who belonged to the coloured category were neither black nor white, maybe from an Asian or Indian background.
This table below is one example of the apartheid policy and how effective it was in keeping the black people of South Africa oppressed. As you can see from the table although the black population was much higher, they had fewer doctors and teachers. Therefore young children died early and the older ones received little education.
Table to be inserted here - see http://www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish-central-magazine-racial-discr...

It was obligatory for a black person to carry a passbook containing their fingerprints, photo and information whenever they wanted to enter a non-black area. This meant that Africans who lived in their homelands needed passports to enter South Africa, their own country!

March 21, 1960 marked a tragic day in the history of South Africa. A big group of blacks in the township of Sharpeville were protesting peacefully by refusing to carry their passes and as many as 69 people were shot by the police and 187 people were wounded. This incident was known by many people as the Sharpeville Massacre. Despite this tragedy, the white regime had no intention of changing the unjust laws of apartheid. Later on, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Due to the problems of ‘apartheid’ South Africa was expelled from the United Nations in 1974.

Now the United Nations calls on all international communities to work together to fight against racial discrimination as well as to commemorate this tragedy in hopes of a better future for the world.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
By Dave Collett
What does the term ‘racial discrimination’ mean? It means to treat a person differently based on race rather than capability. In most countries, this is considered against the law and many people have been put into prison for racial discrimination.
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die". Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is one of the world’s greatest heroes for his struggle to free the people of South Africa. He spent his whole life fighting for racial equality. He formed a political party called Umkhoto we Sizwe in 1961 after all forms of peaceful protests failed. He travelled abroad for his cause even though he knew of the danger he was posing to himself when he returned to South Africa. Not long after, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released in 1990 after being in jail for 28 years. Three years later, in 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to abolish racial discrimination in South Africa. He is an inspiration to all the deprived and oppressed people in the world and has never tolerated any form of racism.
In the beginning, the aim of ‘apartheid’ was to keep the white people in South Africa in total control of the country as well as dividing the races. In the 1960’s, the Grand Apartheid plan was created to emphasize the separation of territories and police repression.
The apartheid laws were created in 1948. White people weren’t allowed to marry non-white people and there was a sanction of ‘white-only jobs’. By 1950, all South Africans were categorized into three categories: white, black or coloured. People who belonged to the coloured category were neither black nor white, maybe from an Asian or Indian background.
This table below is one example of the apartheid policy and how effective it was in keeping the black people of South Africa oppressed. As you can see from the table although the black population was much higher, they had fewer doctors and teachers. Therefore young children died early and the older ones received little education.
Table to be inserted here - see http://www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish-central-magazine-racial-discr...

It was obligatory for a black person to carry a passbook containing their fingerprints, photo and information whenever they wanted to enter a non-black area. This meant that Africans who lived in their homelands needed passports to enter South Africa, their own country!

March 21, 1960 marked a tragic day in the history of South Africa. A big group of blacks in the township of Sharpeville were protesting peacefully by refusing to carry their passes and as many as 69 people were shot by the police and 187 people were wounded. This incident was known by many people as the Sharpeville Massacre. Despite this tragedy, the white regime had no intention of changing the unjust laws of apartheid. Later on, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Due to the problems of ‘apartheid’ South Africa was expelled from the United Nations in 1974.

Now the United Nations calls on all international communities to work together to fight against racial discrimination as well as to commemorate this tragedy in hopes of a better future for the world.
Puppets
By Linda Baxter
Watch a group of children playing with their toys. At first they might be happy to put the plastic animals in their cages at the zoo and take them out again, or dress the dolls in different clothes, but after a while things get a bit boring. So the toys will be moved across the floor as if they had real legs, the animals will start to speak to each other and the dolls will pay visits to each other's houses and talk about what they've been doing today, all in slightly different voices of course. It seems that the impulse to make inanimate figures move and talk is a very natural one, and, of course, that's exactly what puppets are all about. And that's probably why they've existed for thousands of years - and are known to children and adults all over the world.
The basic types
Shadow puppets are one-dimensional silhouettes which move against a light background so that they can be clearly seen by the audience. They usually have moveable arms and legs which the puppeteer controls. These ancient puppets still survive in some parts of the world, for example, the leather puppets of India and the Javanese Wayang Kulit.
Rod puppets are three-dimensional figures controlled by pieces of wood or bamboo attached to different parts of their bodies. The simplest form, and one of the earliest, is just a head on a stick - an early form of doll. But more sophisticated versions have many moveable body parts and can be moved in a very realistic way. Once again, Java has probably the most famous rod puppets in the world - the Wayang Golek.
As the name suggests, string puppets (or marionettes) are three dimensional figures controlled by strings. The standard puppet has strings attached to its arms, legs, shoulders, back and head. These are attached to a cross of wood which the puppeteer holds in one hand while moving individual strings with the other. Different versions of string puppets are found all over the world.
Hand puppets (also known as glove puppets) are three-dimensional figures which are usually made of cloth and worn on the puppeteer's hand or arm. They are probably the most common form of puppet all over the world because they are easy to make and to manipulate. The famous Punch and Judy puppets, which every British adult remembers from childhood days at the seaside, are glove puppets.
How they developed
Very little is known about the origins of puppets. Puppets have been found in ancient Egyptian and Chinese sites and puppets were mentioned by Plato and Aristotle but we have no details about how they were used. All we know is that different cultures had them and they developed in different ways.
The earliest puppets were probably simple shadow puppets. Later, when rods were added to give more control to the silhouettes, the three-dimensional rod puppets developed and then the types that we know today.
In Britain, string puppets became very popular in the Middle Ages, when they were used in church services to illustrate Bible stories, such as the birth of Christ. It's possible that the word 'marionette' (which means 'little Mary') comes from this time. The puppet shows slowly moved out of the churches and into the streets and by the sixteenth century there were puppet theatres at every country fair. The shows were popular entertainment and were often very rude and satirical.
Punch and Judy arrived at this time from Italy. The puppets were marionettes but by the nineteenth century they had became glove puppets because they were cheaper to make and easier to transport and manipulate.
Puppets today
Nowadays in Britain puppets are usually associated with children's entertainment but they still survive as an adult art form in many countries, particularly in the East. One of the most important uses of puppets today is in education for children and adults alike. Traditional puppet shows are a good way of exploring sensitive issues such as sex education or AIDS awareness which people may be embarrassed to discuss openly. They are widely used in therapy too. A child who doesn't want to talk about the terrible thing that happened to him is often happy to act out the scene using puppets.
And of course, on a lighter note, let's not forget the new generations of puppets that television has brought us through the years, from the old classics like Thunderbirds, to Kermit and Miss Piggy of the Muppets, and the satire of Spitting Image. It really does seem that puppets are not just for children.
Puppets
By Linda Baxter
Watch a group of children playing with their toys. At first they might be happy to put the plastic animals in their cages at the zoo and take them out again, or dress the dolls in different clothes, but after a while things get a bit boring. So the toys will be moved across the floor as if they had real legs, the animals will start to speak to each other and the dolls will pay visits to each other's houses and talk about what they've been doing today, all in slightly different voices of course. It seems that the impulse to make inanimate figures move and talk is a very natural one, and, of course, that's exactly what puppets are all about. And that's probably why they've existed for thousands of years - and are known to children and adults all over the world.
The basic types
Shadow puppets are one-dimensional silhouettes which move against a light background so that they can be clearly seen by the audience. They usually have moveable arms and legs which the puppeteer controls. These ancient puppets still survive in some parts of the world, for example, the leather puppets of India and the Javanese Wayang Kulit.
Rod puppets are three-dimensional figures controlled by pieces of wood or bamboo attached to different parts of their bodies. The simplest form, and one of the earliest, is just a head on a stick - an early form of doll. But more sophisticated versions have many moveable body parts and can be moved in a very realistic way. Once again, Java has probably the most famous rod puppets in the world - the Wayang Golek.
As the name suggests, string puppets (or marionettes) are three dimensional figures controlled by strings. The standard puppet has strings attached to its arms, legs, shoulders, back and head. These are attached to a cross of wood which the puppeteer holds in one hand while moving individual strings with the other. Different versions of string puppets are found all over the world.
Hand puppets (also known as glove puppets) are three-dimensional figures which are usually made of cloth and worn on the puppeteer's hand or arm. They are probably the most common form of puppet all over the world because they are easy to make and to manipulate. The famous Punch and Judy puppets, which every British adult remembers from childhood days at the seaside, are glove puppets.
How they developed
Very little is known about the origins of puppets. Puppets have been found in ancient Egyptian and Chinese sites and puppets were mentioned by Plato and Aristotle but we have no details about how they were used. All we know is that different cultures had them and they developed in different ways.
The earliest puppets were probably simple shadow puppets. Later, when rods were added to give more control to the silhouettes, the three-dimensional rod puppets developed and then the types that we know today.
In Britain, string puppets became very popular in the Middle Ages, when they were used in church services to illustrate Bible stories, such as the birth of Christ. It's possible that the word 'marionette' (which means 'little Mary') comes from this time. The puppet shows slowly moved out of the churches and into the streets and by the sixteenth century there were puppet theatres at every country fair. The shows were popular entertainment and were often very rude and satirical.
Punch and Judy arrived at this time from Italy. The puppets were marionettes but by the nineteenth century they had became glove puppets because they were cheaper to make and easier to transport and manipulate.
Puppets today
Nowadays in Britain puppets are usually associated with children's entertainment but they still survive as an adult art form in many countries, particularly in the East. One of the most important uses of puppets today is in education for children and adults alike. Traditional puppet shows are a good way of exploring sensitive issues such as sex education or AIDS awareness which people may be embarrassed to discuss openly. They are widely used in therapy too. A child who doesn't want to talk about the terrible thing that happened to him is often happy to act out the scene using puppets.
And of course, on a lighter note, let's not forget the new generations of puppets that television has brought us through the years, from the old classics like Thunderbirds, to Kermit and Miss Piggy of the Muppets, and the satire of Spitting Image. It really does seem that puppets are not just for children.
Puppets
By Linda Baxter
Watch a group of children playing with their toys. At first they might be happy to put the plastic animals in their cages at the zoo and take them out again, or dress the dolls in different clothes, but after a while things get a bit boring. So the toys will be moved across the floor as if they had real legs, the animals will start to speak to each other and the dolls will pay visits to each other's houses and talk about what they've been doing today, all in slightly different voices of course. It seems that the impulse to make inanimate figures move and talk is a very natural one, and, of course, that's exactly what puppets are all about. And that's probably why they've existed for thousands of years - and are known to children and adults all over the world.
The basic types
Shadow puppets are one-dimensional silhouettes which move against a light background so that they can be clearly seen by the audience. They usually have moveable arms and legs which the puppeteer controls. These ancient puppets still survive in some parts of the world, for example, the leather puppets of India and the Javanese Wayang Kulit.
Rod puppets are three-dimensional figures controlled by pieces of wood or bamboo attached to different parts of their bodies. The simplest form, and one of the earliest, is just a head on a stick - an early form of doll. But more sophisticated versions have many moveable body parts and can be moved in a very realistic way. Once again, Java has probably the most famous rod puppets in the world - the Wayang Golek.
As the name suggests, string puppets (or marionettes) are three dimensional figures controlled by strings. The standard puppet has strings attached to its arms, legs, shoulders, back and head. These are attached to a cross of wood which the puppeteer holds in one hand while moving individual strings with the other. Different versions of string puppets are found all over the world.
Hand puppets (also known as glove puppets) are three-dimensional figures which are usually made of cloth and worn on the puppeteer's hand or arm. They are probably the most common form of puppet all over the world because they are easy to make and to manipulate. The famous Punch and Judy puppets, which every British adult remembers from childhood days at the seaside, are glove puppets.
How they developed
Very little is known about the origins of puppets. Puppets have been found in ancient Egyptian and Chinese sites and puppets were mentioned by Plato and Aristotle but we have no details about how they were used. All we know is that different cultures had them and they developed in different ways.
The earliest puppets were probably simple shadow puppets. Later, when rods were added to give more control to the silhouettes, the three-dimensional rod puppets developed and then the types that we know today.
In Britain, string puppets became very popular in the Middle Ages, when they were used in church services to illustrate Bible stories, such as the birth of Christ. It's possible that the word 'marionette' (which means 'little Mary') comes from this time. The puppet shows slowly moved out of the churches and into the streets and by the sixteenth century there were puppet theatres at every country fair. The shows were popular entertainment and were often very rude and satirical.
Punch and Judy arrived at this time from Italy. The puppets were marionettes but by the nineteenth century they had became glove puppets because they were cheaper to make and easier to transport and manipulate.
Puppets today
Nowadays in Britain puppets are usually associated with children's entertainment but they still survive as an adult art form in many countries, particularly in the East. One of the most important uses of puppets today is in education for children and adults alike. Traditional puppet shows are a good way of exploring sensitive issues such as sex education or AIDS awareness which people may be embarrassed to discuss openly. They are widely used in therapy too. A child who doesn't want to talk about the terrible thing that happened to him is often happy to act out the scene using puppets.
And of course, on a lighter note, let's not forget the new generations of puppets that television has brought us through the years, from the old classics like Thunderbirds, to Kermit and Miss Piggy of the Muppets, and the satire of Spitting Image. It really does seem that puppets are not just for children.
AWARDS
by Chris Rose
The Nobels are the originals, of course. Alfred Nobel, the man who invented deadly explosives, decided to try and do something good with all the money he earned, and gave prizes to people who made progress in literature, science, economics and – perhaps most importantly – peace.
Not all awards are as noble as the Nobels.  Even though most countries have a system for recognising, honouring and rewarding people who have done something good in their countries, there are now hundreds of awards and awards ceremonies for all kinds of things.
The Oscars are probably the most famous, a time for the (mostly) American film industry to tell itself how good it is, an annual opportunity for lots of big stars to give each other awards and make tearful speeches. As well as that there are also the Golden Globes, apparently for the same thing.  
But it’s not only films – now there are also Grammies, Brits, the Mercury Prize and the MTV and Q awards for music. In Britain, a writer who wins the Booker prize can expect to see their difficult, literary novel hit the bestseller lists and compete with "The Da Vinci Code” for popularity.  The Turner Prize is an award for a British contemporary artist – each year it causes controversy by apparently giving lots of money to artists who do things like display their beds, put animals in glass cases or – this year – build a garden shed.
Awards don’t only exist for the arts.  There are now awards for Sports Personality of the Year, for European Footballer of the year and World Footballer of the Year.  This seems very strange – sometimes awards can be good to give recognition to people who deserve it, or to help people who don’t make a lot of money carry on their work without worrying about finances, but professional soccer players these days certainly aren’t short of cash!
Many small towns and communities all over the world also have their own awards ceremonies, for local writers or artists, or just for people who have graduated from high school or got a university degree.  Even the British Council has its own awards for “Innovation in English Language Teaching”.
Why have all these awards and ceremonies appeared recently?  Shakespeare never won a prize, nor did Leonardo da Vinci or Adam Smith or Charles Dickens.
It would be possible to say, however, that in the past, scientists and artists could win “patronage” from rich people – a king or a lord would give the artist or scientist money to have them paint their palaces or help them develop new ways of making money.  With the change in social systems across the world, this no longer happens.  A lot of scientific research is now either funded by the state or by private companies.  Perhaps awards ceremonies are just the most recent face of this process.
However, there is more to it than that.  When a film wins an Oscar, many more people will go and see it, or buy the DVD.  When a writer wins the Nobel prize, many more people buy their books.  When a group win the MTV awards, the ceremony is seen by hundreds of thousands of people across the world.  The result?   The group sell lots more records.
Most awards ceremonies are now sponsored by big organisations or companies.  This means that it is not only the person who wins the award who benefits – but also the sponsors.  The MTV awards, for example, are great for publicising not only music, but also MTV itself!  
On the surface, it seems to be a “win-win” situation, with everyone being happy, but let me ask you a question – how far do you think that publicity and marketing are winning here, and how much genuine recognition of achievement is taking place?
AWARDS
by Chris Rose
The Nobels are the originals, of course. Alfred Nobel, the man who invented deadly explosives, decided to try and do something good with all the money he earned, and gave prizes to people who made progress in literature, science, economics and – perhaps most importantly – peace.
Not all awards are as noble as the Nobels.  Even though most countries have a system for recognising, honouring and rewarding people who have done something good in their countries, there are now hundreds of awards and awards ceremonies for all kinds of things.
The Oscars are probably the most famous, a time for the (mostly) American film industry to tell itself how good it is, an annual opportunity for lots of big stars to give each other awards and make tearful speeches. As well as that there are also the Golden Globes, apparently for the same thing.  
But it’s not only films – now there are also Grammies, Brits, the Mercury Prize and the MTV and Q awards for music. In Britain, a writer who wins the Booker prize can expect to see their difficult, literary novel hit the bestseller lists and compete with "The Da Vinci Code” for popularity.  The Turner Prize is an award for a British contemporary artist – each year it causes controversy by apparently giving lots of money to artists who do things like display their beds, put animals in glass cases or – this year – build a garden shed.
Awards don’t only exist for the arts.  There are now awards for Sports Personality of the Year, for European Footballer of the year and World Footballer of the Year.  This seems very strange – sometimes awards can be good to give recognition to people who deserve it, or to help people who don’t make a lot of money carry on their work without worrying about finances, but professional soccer players these days certainly aren’t short of cash!
Many small towns and communities all over the world also have their own awards ceremonies, for local writers or artists, or just for people who have graduated from high school or got a university degree.  Even the British Council has its own awards for “Innovation in English Language Teaching”.
Why have all these awards and ceremonies appeared recently?  Shakespeare never won a prize, nor did Leonardo da Vinci or Adam Smith or Charles Dickens.
It would be possible to say, however, that in the past, scientists and artists could win “patronage” from rich people – a king or a lord would give the artist or scientist money to have them paint their palaces or help them develop new ways of making money.  With the change in social systems across the world, this no longer happens.  A lot of scientific research is now either funded by the state or by private companies.  Perhaps awards ceremonies are just the most recent face of this process.
However, there is more to it than that.  When a film wins an Oscar, many more people will go and see it, or buy the DVD.  When a writer wins the Nobel prize, many more people buy their books.  When a group win the MTV awards, the ceremony is seen by hundreds of thousands of people across the world.  The result?   The group sell lots more records.
Most awards ceremonies are now sponsored by big organisations or companies.  This means that it is not only the person who wins the award who benefits – but also the sponsors.  The MTV awards, for example, are great for publicising not only music, but also MTV itself!  
On the surface, it seems to be a “win-win” situation, with everyone being happy, but let me ask you a question – how far do you think that publicity and marketing are winning here, and how much genuine recognition of achievement is taking place?
AWARDS
by Chris Rose
The Nobels are the originals, of course. Alfred Nobel, the man who invented deadly explosives, decided to try and do something good with all the money he earned, and gave prizes to people who made progress in literature, science, economics and – perhaps most importantly – peace.
Not all awards are as noble as the Nobels.  Even though most countries have a system for recognising, honouring and rewarding people who have done something good in their countries, there are now hundreds of awards and awards ceremonies for all kinds of things.
The Oscars are probably the most famous, a time for the (mostly) American film industry to tell itself how good it is, an annual opportunity for lots of big stars to give each other awards and make tearful speeches. As well as that there are also the Golden Globes, apparently for the same thing.  
But it’s not only films – now there are also Grammies, Brits, the Mercury Prize and the MTV and Q awards for music. In Britain, a writer who wins the Booker prize can expect to see their difficult, literary novel hit the bestseller lists and compete with "The Da Vinci Code” for popularity.  The Turner Prize is an award for a British contemporary artist – each year it causes controversy by apparently giving lots of money to artists who do things like display their beds, put animals in glass cases or – this year – build a garden shed.
Awards don’t only exist for the arts.  There are now awards for Sports Personality of the Year, for European Footballer of the year and World Footballer of the Year.  This seems very strange – sometimes awards can be good to give recognition to people who deserve it, or to help people who don’t make a lot of money carry on their work without worrying about finances, but professional soccer players these days certainly aren’t short of cash!
Many small towns and communities all over the world also have their own awards ceremonies, for local writers or artists, or just for people who have graduated from high school or got a university degree.  Even the British Council has its own awards for “Innovation in English Language Teaching”.
Why have all these awards and ceremonies appeared recently?  Shakespeare never won a prize, nor did Leonardo da Vinci or Adam Smith or Charles Dickens.
It would be possible to say, however, that in the past, scientists and artists could win “patronage” from rich people – a king or a lord would give the artist or scientist money to have them paint their palaces or help them develop new ways of making money.  With the change in social systems across the world, this no longer happens.  A lot of scientific research is now either funded by the state or by private companies.  Perhaps awards ceremonies are just the most recent face of this process.
However, there is more to it than that.  When a film wins an Oscar, many more people will go and see it, or buy the DVD.  When a writer wins the Nobel prize, many more people buy their books.  When a group win the MTV awards, the ceremony is seen by hundreds of thousands of people across the world.  The result?   The group sell lots more records.
Most awards ceremonies are now sponsored by big organisations or companies.  This means that it is not only the person who wins the award who benefits – but also the sponsors.  The MTV awards, for example, are great for publicising not only music, but also MTV itself!  
On the surface, it seems to be a “win-win” situation, with everyone being happy, but let me ask you a question – how far do you think that publicity and marketing are winning here, and how much genuine recognition of achievement is taking place?
AWARDS
by Chris Rose
The Nobels are the originals, of course. Alfred Nobel, the man who invented deadly explosives, decided to try and do something good with all the money he earned, and gave prizes to people who made progress in literature, science, economics and – perhaps most importantly – peace.
Not all awards are as noble as the Nobels.  Even though most countries have a system for recognising, honouring and rewarding people who have done something good in their countries, there are now hundreds of awards and awards ceremonies for all kinds of things.
The Oscars are probably the most famous, a time for the (mostly) American film industry to tell itself how good it is, an annual opportunity for lots of big stars to give each other awards and make tearful speeches. As well as that there are also the Golden Globes, apparently for the same thing.  
But it’s not only films – now there are also Grammies, Brits, the Mercury Prize and the MTV and Q awards for music. In Britain, a writer who wins the Booker prize can expect to see their difficult, literary novel hit the bestseller lists and compete with "The Da Vinci Code” for popularity.  The Turner Prize is an award for a British contemporary artist – each year it causes controversy by apparently giving lots of money to artists who do things like display their beds, put animals in glass cases or – this year – build a garden shed.
Awards don’t only exist for the arts.  There are now awards for Sports Personality of the Year, for European Footballer of the year and World Footballer of the Year.  This seems very strange – sometimes awards can be good to give recognition to people who deserve it, or to help people who don’t make a lot of money carry on their work without worrying about finances, but professional soccer players these days certainly aren’t short of cash!
Many small towns and communities all over the world also have their own awards ceremonies, for local writers or artists, or just for people who have graduated from high school or got a university degree.  Even the British Council has its own awards for “Innovation in English Language Teaching”.
Why have all these awards and ceremonies appeared recently?  Shakespeare never won a prize, nor did Leonardo da Vinci or Adam Smith or Charles Dickens.
It would be possible to say, however, that in the past, scientists and artists could win “patronage” from rich people – a king or a lord would give the artist or scientist money to have them paint their palaces or help them develop new ways of making money.  With the change in social systems across the world, this no longer happens.  A lot of scientific research is now either funded by the state or by private companies.  Perhaps awards ceremonies are just the most recent face of this process.
However, there is more to it than that.  When a film wins an Oscar, many more people will go and see it, or buy the DVD.  When a writer wins the Nobel prize, many more people buy their books.  When a group win the MTV awards, the ceremony is seen by hundreds of thousands of people across the world.  The result?   The group sell lots more records.
Most awards ceremonies are now sponsored by big organisations or companies.  This means that it is not only the person who wins the award who benefits – but also the sponsors.  The MTV awards, for example, are great for publicising not only music, but also MTV itself!  
On the surface, it seems to be a “win-win” situation, with everyone being happy, but let me ask you a question – how far do you think that publicity and marketing are winning here, and how much genuine recognition of achievement is taking place?
AWARDS
by Chris Rose
The Nobels are the originals, of course. Alfred Nobel, the man who invented deadly explosives, decided to try and do something good with all the money he earned, and gave prizes to people who made progress in literature, science, economics and – perhaps most importantly – peace.
Not all awards are as noble as the Nobels.  Even though most countries have a system for recognising, honouring and rewarding people who have done something good in their countries, there are now hundreds of awards and awards ceremonies for all kinds of things.
The Oscars are probably the most famous, a time for the (mostly) American film industry to tell itself how good it is, an annual opportunity for lots of big stars to give each other awards and make tearful speeches. As well as that there are also the Golden Globes, apparently for the same thing.  
But it’s not only films – now there are also Grammies, Brits, the Mercury Prize and the MTV and Q awards for music. In Britain, a writer who wins the Booker prize can expect to see their difficult, literary novel hit the bestseller lists and compete with "The Da Vinci Code” for popularity.  The Turner Prize is an award for a British contemporary artist – each year it causes controversy by apparently giving lots of money to artists who do things like display their beds, put animals in glass cases or – this year – build a garden shed.
Awards don’t only exist for the arts.  There are now awards for Sports Personality of the Year, for European Footballer of the year and World Footballer of the Year.  This seems very strange – sometimes awards can be good to give recognition to people who deserve it, or to help people who don’t make a lot of money carry on their work without worrying about finances, but professional soccer players these days certainly aren’t short of cash!
Many small towns and communities all over the world also have their own awards ceremonies, for local writers or artists, or just for people who have graduated from high school or got a university degree.  Even the British Council has its own awards for “Innovation in English Language Teaching”.
Why have all these awards and ceremonies appeared recently?  Shakespeare never won a prize, nor did Leonardo da Vinci or Adam Smith or Charles Dickens.
It would be possible to say, however, that in the past, scientists and artists could win “patronage” from rich people – a king or a lord would give the artist or scientist money to have them paint their palaces or help them develop new ways of making money.  With the change in social systems across the world, this no longer happens.  A lot of scientific research is now either funded by the state or by private companies.  Perhaps awards ceremonies are just the most recent face of this process.
However, there is more to it than that.  When a film wins an Oscar, many more people will go and see it, or buy the DVD.  When a writer wins the Nobel prize, many more people buy their books.  When a group win the MTV awards, the ceremony is seen by hundreds of thousands of people across the world.  The result?   The group sell lots more records.
Most awards ceremonies are now sponsored by big organisations or companies.  This means that it is not only the person who wins the award who benefits – but also the sponsors.  The MTV awards, for example, are great for publicising not only music, but also MTV itself!  
On the surface, it seems to be a “win-win” situation, with everyone being happy, but let me ask you a question – how far do you think that publicity and marketing are winning here, and how much genuine recognition of achievement is taking place?
Ten years without books
by John Kuti
As I write this, I have half an eye on an old James Bond film that is showing on my computer. But this is a story about how I stopped watching TV and began reading again for pleasure, after ten years in which I hardly turned a page.
I suppose I was an avid reader of "literature" between the ages of nine and fourteen. I had enough time to be White Fang, Robinson Crusoe, and Bilbo Baggins and Jeeves. Of course there was room in the schoolboy's imagination for some real historical figures: Scott of the Antarctic, all of the Vikings, and Benjamin Franklin were good friends of mine.
Then, in adolescence, I began a long search for strange and radical ideas. I wanted to challenge my elders and betters, and stir up my peers with amazing points of view. Of course, the only place to look was in books. I hunted out the longest titles and the authors with the funniest names, I scoured the library for completely unread books. Then I found one which became my bible for the whole of 1982, it had a title composed of eleven long words and an author whose name I didn't know how to pronounce. It was really thick and looked dead serious. Even better, it put forward a whole world-view that would take days to explain. Perfect. I took it out of the library three times, proud to see the date-stamps lined up on the empty library insert.
Later, I went to university. Expecting to spend long evenings in learned discussion with clever people, I started reading philosophy. For some reason I never found the deep-thinking intellectuals I hoped to meet. Anyway, I was ready to impress with my profound knowledge of post-structuralism, existentialism and situationism. These things are usually explained in rather short books, but they take a long time to get through. They were the end of my youthful reading.
Working life was hard to get used to after so much theory. It was the end of books for me. There didn't seem to be much in books that would actually get things done. To do things you had to answer the telephone and work a computer. You had to travel about and speak to people who weren't at all interested in philosophy. I didn't stop reading, you can't avoid that. I read all day. But no books came my way, only manuals and pamphlets and contracts and documents. Maybe most people satisfy their need for stories and ideas with TV and, to tell the truth, it was all I needed for ten years. In those days I only had a book "on the go" for the duration of aeroplane flights. At first I would come home and watch TV over dinner. Then, I moved the TV so I could watch it from bed. I even rigged up a switch so I could turn it off without getting out of bed. Then, one fateful day, my TV broke and my landlady took it away.
My new TV is an extra circuit board inside my computer. It's on a desk in front of a working chair and I can't see it from the bed. I still use it for the weather forecasts and it's nice to have it on while I'm typing this… but what to do last thing at night? Well, have another go with books.
Now, I just like books. I have a pile of nice ones by my bed and I'm reading about six simultaneously. I don't want to BE any of the characters. I don't care if a thousand people have already read them. I don't have to search through libraries. There are books everywhere and all of them have something to read in them. I have the strange feeling that they've been there all along, waiting for me to pick them up.
Glossary

adolescence (n):  period of a person's life between childhood and adulthood
avid (adj):  extremely eager or interested
challenge (v):  to invite someone to compete or take part, esp. in a game or argument
circuit board (n):  a small electronic circuit which consists of a lot of small parts made on a piece of semiconducting material
fateful (adj):  very important because of its, often negative, effect on the future
historical figure (n): a person famous in history
intellectual (n): a highly educated person whose interests are studying and other activities that involve careful thinking and mental effort
learned (adj): acquired by learning or experience
pamphlet (n): a thin book with only a few pages which gives information or an opinion about something
peer (n): a person who is the same age or has the same social position or the same abilities as other people in a group
pleasure (n): (something that gives) enjoyment, happiness or satisfaction
profound (adj): showing a clear and deep understanding of serious matters
radical (adj): believing or expressing the belief that there should be great or extreme social or political change
rig up (v): to fix (a piece of equipment) in place
scour (v): to search (a place or thing) very carefully in order to try to find something
simultaneously (adv): in a way that happens or is done at exactly the same time
world-view (n): a way of looking at or considering the world
Ten years without books
by John Kuti
As I write this, I have half an eye on an old James Bond film that is showing on my computer. But this is a story about how I stopped watching TV and began reading again for pleasure, after ten years in which I hardly turned a page.
I suppose I was an avid reader of "literature" between the ages of nine and fourteen. I had enough time to be White Fang, Robinson Crusoe, and Bilbo Baggins and Jeeves. Of course there was room in the schoolboy's imagination for some real historical figures: Scott of the Antarctic, all of the Vikings, and Benjamin Franklin were good friends of mine.
Then, in adolescence, I began a long search for strange and radical ideas. I wanted to challenge my elders and betters, and stir up my peers with amazing points of view. Of course, the only place to look was in books. I hunted out the longest titles and the authors with the funniest names, I scoured the library for completely unread books. Then I found one which became my bible for the whole of 1982, it had a title composed of eleven long words and an author whose name I didn't know how to pronounce. It was really thick and looked dead serious. Even better, it put forward a whole world-view that would take days to explain. Perfect. I took it out of the library three times, proud to see the date-stamps lined up on the empty library insert.
Later, I went to university. Expecting to spend long evenings in learned discussion with clever people, I started reading philosophy. For some reason I never found the deep-thinking intellectuals I hoped to meet. Anyway, I was ready to impress with my profound knowledge of post-structuralism, existentialism and situationism. These things are usually explained in rather short books, but they take a long time to get through. They were the end of my youthful reading.
Working life was hard to get used to after so much theory. It was the end of books for me. There didn't seem to be much in books that would actually get things done. To do things you had to answer the telephone and work a computer. You had to travel about and speak to people who weren't at all interested in philosophy. I didn't stop reading, you can't avoid that. I read all day. But no books came my way, only manuals and pamphlets and contracts and documents. Maybe most people satisfy their need for stories and ideas with TV and, to tell the truth, it was all I needed for ten years. In those days I only had a book "on the go" for the duration of aeroplane flights. At first I would come home and watch TV over dinner. Then, I moved the TV so I could watch it from bed. I even rigged up a switch so I could turn it off without getting out of bed. Then, one fateful day, my TV broke and my landlady took it away.
My new TV is an extra circuit board inside my computer. It's on a desk in front of a working chair and I can't see it from the bed. I still use it for the weather forecasts and it's nice to have it on while I'm typing this… but what to do last thing at night? Well, have another go with books.
Now, I just like books. I have a pile of nice ones by my bed and I'm reading about six simultaneously. I don't want to BE any of the characters. I don't care if a thousand people have already read them. I don't have to search through libraries. There are books everywhere and all of them have something to read in them. I have the strange feeling that they've been there all along, waiting for me to pick them up.
Glossary

adolescence (n):  period of a person's life between childhood and adulthood
avid (adj):  extremely eager or interested
challenge (v):  to invite someone to compete or take part, esp. in a game or argument
circuit board (n):  a small electronic circuit which consists of a lot of small parts made on a piece of semiconducting material
fateful (adj):  very important because of its, often negative, effect on the future
historical figure (n): a person famous in history
intellectual (n): a highly educated person whose interests are studying and other activities that involve careful thinking and mental effort
learned (adj): acquired by learning or experience
pamphlet (n): a thin book with only a few pages which gives information or an opinion about something
peer (n): a person who is the same age or has the same social position or the same abilities as other people in a group
pleasure (n): (something that gives) enjoyment, happiness or satisfaction
profound (adj): showing a clear and deep understanding of serious matters
radical (adj): believing or expressing the belief that there should be great or extreme social or political change
rig up (v): to fix (a piece of equipment) in place
scour (v): to search (a place or thing) very carefully in order to try to find something
simultaneously (adv): in a way that happens or is done at exactly the same time
world-view (n): a way of looking at or considering the world
Ten years without books
by John Kuti
As I write this, I have half an eye on an old James Bond film that is showing on my computer. But this is a story about how I stopped watching TV and began reading again for pleasure, after ten years in which I hardly turned a page.
I suppose I was an avid reader of "literature" between the ages of nine and fourteen. I had enough time to be White Fang, Robinson Crusoe, and Bilbo Baggins and Jeeves. Of course there was room in the schoolboy's imagination for some real historical figures: Scott of the Antarctic, all of the Vikings, and Benjamin Franklin were good friends of mine.
Then, in adolescence, I began a long search for strange and radical ideas. I wanted to challenge my elders and betters, and stir up my peers with amazing points of view. Of course, the only place to look was in books. I hunted out the longest titles and the authors with the funniest names, I scoured the library for completely unread books. Then I found one which became my bible for the whole of 1982, it had a title composed of eleven long words and an author whose name I didn't know how to pronounce. It was really thick and looked dead serious. Even better, it put forward a whole world-view that would take days to explain. Perfect. I took it out of the library three times, proud to see the date-stamps lined up on the empty library insert.
Later, I went to university. Expecting to spend long evenings in learned discussion with clever people, I started reading philosophy. For some reason I never found the deep-thinking intellectuals I hoped to meet. Anyway, I was ready to impress with my profound knowledge of post-structuralism, existentialism and situationism. These things are usually explained in rather short books, but they take a long time to get through. They were the end of my youthful reading.
Working life was hard to get used to after so much theory. It was the end of books for me. There didn't seem to be much in books that would actually get things done. To do things you had to answer the telephone and work a computer. You had to travel about and speak to people who weren't at all interested in philosophy. I didn't stop reading, you can't avoid that. I read all day. But no books came my way, only manuals and pamphlets and contracts and documents. Maybe most people satisfy their need for stories and ideas with TV and, to tell the truth, it was all I needed for ten years. In those days I only had a book "on the go" for the duration of aeroplane flights. At first I would come home and watch TV over dinner. Then, I moved the TV so I could watch it from bed. I even rigged up a switch so I could turn it off without getting out of bed. Then, one fateful day, my TV broke and my landlady took it away.
My new TV is an extra circuit board inside my computer. It's on a desk in front of a working chair and I can't see it from the bed. I still use it for the weather forecasts and it's nice to have it on while I'm typing this… but what to do last thing at night? Well, have another go with books.
Now, I just like books. I have a pile of nice ones by my bed and I'm reading about six simultaneously. I don't want to BE any of the characters. I don't care if a thousand people have already read them. I don't have to search through libraries. There are books everywhere and all of them have something to read in them. I have the strange feeling that they've been there all along, waiting for me to pick them up.
Glossary

adolescence (n):  period of a person's life between childhood and adulthood
avid (adj):  extremely eager or interested
challenge (v):  to invite someone to compete or take part, esp. in a game or argument
circuit board (n):  a small electronic circuit which consists of a lot of small parts made on a piece of semiconducting material
fateful (adj):  very important because of its, often negative, effect on the future
historical figure (n): a person famous in history
intellectual (n): a highly educated person whose interests are studying and other activities that involve careful thinking and mental effort
learned (adj): acquired by learning or experience
pamphlet (n): a thin book with only a few pages which gives information or an opinion about something
peer (n): a person who is the same age or has the same social position or the same abilities as other people in a group
pleasure (n): (something that gives) enjoyment, happiness or satisfaction
profound (adj): showing a clear and deep understanding of serious matters
radical (adj): believing or expressing the belief that there should be great or extreme social or political change
rig up (v): to fix (a piece of equipment) in place
scour (v): to search (a place or thing) very carefully in order to try to find something
simultaneously (adv): in a way that happens or is done at exactly the same time
world-view (n): a way of looking at or considering the world
Ten years without books
by John Kuti
As I write this, I have half an eye on an old James Bond film that is showing on my computer. But this is a story about how I stopped watching TV and began reading again for pleasure, after ten years in which I hardly turned a page.
I suppose I was an avid reader of "literature" between the ages of nine and fourteen. I had enough time to be White Fang, Robinson Crusoe, and Bilbo Baggins and Jeeves. Of course there was room in the schoolboy's imagination for some real historical figures: Scott of the Antarctic, all of the Vikings, and Benjamin Franklin were good friends of mine.
Then, in adolescence, I began a long search for strange and radical ideas. I wanted to challenge my elders and betters, and stir up my peers with amazing points of view. Of course, the only place to look was in books. I hunted out the longest titles and the authors with the funniest names, I scoured the library for completely unread books. Then I found one which became my bible for the whole of 1982, it had a title composed of eleven long words and an author whose name I didn't know how to pronounce. It was really thick and looked dead serious. Even better, it put forward a whole world-view that would take days to explain. Perfect. I took it out of the library three times, proud to see the date-stamps lined up on the empty library insert.
Later, I went to university. Expecting to spend long evenings in learned discussion with clever people, I started reading philosophy. For some reason I never found the deep-thinking intellectuals I hoped to meet. Anyway, I was ready to impress with my profound knowledge of post-structuralism, existentialism and situationism. These things are usually explained in rather short books, but they take a long time to get through. They were the end of my youthful reading.
Working life was hard to get used to after so much theory. It was the end of books for me. There didn't seem to be much in books that would actually get things done. To do things you had to answer the telephone and work a computer. You had to travel about and speak to people who weren't at all interested in philosophy. I didn't stop reading, you can't avoid that. I read all day. But no books came my way, only manuals and pamphlets and contracts and documents. Maybe most people satisfy their need for stories and ideas with TV and, to tell the truth, it was all I needed for ten years. In those days I only had a book "on the go" for the duration of aeroplane flights. At first I would come home and watch TV over dinner. Then, I moved the TV so I could watch it from bed. I even rigged up a switch so I could turn it off without getting out of bed. Then, one fateful day, my TV broke and my landlady took it away.
My new TV is an extra circuit board inside my computer. It's on a desk in front of a working chair and I can't see it from the bed. I still use it for the weather forecasts and it's nice to have it on while I'm typing this… but what to do last thing at night? Well, have another go with books.
Now, I just like books. I have a pile of nice ones by my bed and I'm reading about six simultaneously. I don't want to BE any of the characters. I don't care if a thousand people have already read them. I don't have to search through libraries. There are books everywhere and all of them have something to read in them. I have the strange feeling that they've been there all along, waiting for me to pick them up.
Glossary

adolescence (n):  period of a person's life between childhood and adulthood
avid (adj):  extremely eager or interested
challenge (v):  to invite someone to compete or take part, esp. in a game or argument
circuit board (n):  a small electronic circuit which consists of a lot of small parts made on a piece of semiconducting material
fateful (adj):  very important because of its, often negative, effect on the future
historical figure (n): a person famous in history
intellectual (n): a highly educated person whose interests are studying and other activities that involve careful thinking and mental effort
learned (adj): acquired by learning or experience
pamphlet (n): a thin book with only a few pages which gives information or an opinion about something
peer (n): a person who is the same age or has the same social position or the same abilities as other people in a group
pleasure (n): (something that gives) enjoyment, happiness or satisfaction
profound (adj): showing a clear and deep understanding of serious matters
radical (adj): believing or expressing the belief that there should be great or extreme social or political change
rig up (v): to fix (a piece of equipment) in place
scour (v): to search (a place or thing) very carefully in order to try to find something
simultaneously (adv): in a way that happens or is done at exactly the same time
world-view (n): a way of looking at or considering the world
The Commonwealth
March 11th is Commonwealth Day, but what exactly is the Commonwealth?
Where is the Commonwealth, and who lives there?
The Commonwealth is a group of 54 countries, spread all over the globe, north to south, east to west. The countries range in size from the tiny island of Nauru in the Pacific ocean (which is so small that it doesn't have a capital), to Canada, the largest territory in the world. Both rich and poor countries are members - the GDP of Singapore is about 200 times that of Sierra Leone. Over one and a half billion people (a quarter of the world's population) live in the Commonwealth, and between them represent nearly every religion, race and political system on the planet.
What is the Commonwealth?
Hot and cold, rich and poor, wet and dry, island and land-locked, the list of opposites used to describe the countries which make up the Commonwealth seems endless. Just what do they all have in common?
The member states all use English as a common working language, and have similar legal and education systems. The countries support each other in their aims to reduce poverty, prejudice, ignorance and disease, and to promote human rights and social development.
Historically, the modern Commonwealth is a product of the British Empire, and began in the late 1940s, after India and Pakistan gained independence. As more and more countries took charge of their own affairs in the 1950s and 1960s, many were attracted to the aims and values of the Commonwealth, resulting in the family of nations seen today.
Activities and events
The Commonwealth is active in a huge number of areas, including ecology, health and economics, providing and sharing information, training and expertise to further the aims of the organisation. The Heads of Government Meeting is held every two years, where the leaders of the member states get together to discuss current issues. Commonwealth Day is held in the second week of March every year, where Commonwealth citizens, particularly children, have a chance to celebrate their friendship.
The Commonwealth also hosts sporting and arts events. There is an annual writers prize, which has been won in previous years by famous authors such as Peter Carey and Louis de Bernieres, and a yearly arts and crafts competition. Perhaps the most well-known event sponsored by the organisation is the Commonwealth Games, which is held every four years in one of the member countries. The games have gained the nickname 'the Friendly Games' because of their reputation for good-natured competitiveness.
The Commonwealth
March 11th is Commonwealth Day, but what exactly is the Commonwealth?
Where is the Commonwealth, and who lives there?
The Commonwealth is a group of 54 countries, spread all over the globe, north to south, east to west. The countries range in size from the tiny island of Nauru in the Pacific ocean (which is so small that it doesn't have a capital), to Canada, the largest territory in the world. Both rich and poor countries are members - the GDP of Singapore is about 200 times that of Sierra Leone. Over one and a half billion people (a quarter of the world's population) live in the Commonwealth, and between them represent nearly every religion, race and political system on the planet.
What is the Commonwealth?
Hot and cold, rich and poor, wet and dry, island and land-locked, the list of opposites used to describe the countries which make up the Commonwealth seems endless. Just what do they all have in common?
The member states all use English as a common working language, and have similar legal and education systems. The countries support each other in their aims to reduce poverty, prejudice, ignorance and disease, and to promote human rights and social development.
Historically, the modern Commonwealth is a product of the British Empire, and began in the late 1940s, after India and Pakistan gained independence. As more and more countries took charge of their own affairs in the 1950s and 1960s, many were attracted to the aims and values of the Commonwealth, resulting in the family of nations seen today.
Activities and events
The Commonwealth is active in a huge number of areas, including ecology, health and economics, providing and sharing information, training and expertise to further the aims of the organisation. The Heads of Government Meeting is held every two years, where the leaders of the member states get together to discuss current issues. Commonwealth Day is held in the second week of March every year, where Commonwealth citizens, particularly children, have a chance to celebrate their friendship.
The Commonwealth also hosts sporting and arts events. There is an annual writers prize, which has been won in previous years by famous authors such as Peter Carey and Louis de Bernieres, and a yearly arts and crafts competition. Perhaps the most well-known event sponsored by the organisation is the Commonwealth Games, which is held every four years in one of the member countries. The games have gained the nickname 'the Friendly Games' because of their reputation for good-natured competitiveness.
The Commonwealth
March 11th is Commonwealth Day, but what exactly is the Commonwealth?
Where is the Commonwealth, and who lives there?
The Commonwealth is a group of 54 countries, spread all over the globe, north to south, east to west. The countries range in size from the tiny island of Nauru in the Pacific ocean (which is so small that it doesn't have a capital), to Canada, the largest territory in the world. Both rich and poor countries are members - the GDP of Singapore is about 200 times that of Sierra Leone. Over one and a half billion people (a quarter of the world's population) live in the Commonwealth, and between them represent nearly every religion, race and political system on the planet.
What is the Commonwealth?
Hot and cold, rich and poor, wet and dry, island and land-locked, the list of opposites used to describe the countries which make up the Commonwealth seems endless. Just what do they all have in common?
The member states all use English as a common working language, and have similar legal and education systems. The countries support each other in their aims to reduce poverty, prejudice, ignorance and disease, and to promote human rights and social development.
Historically, the modern Commonwealth is a product of the British Empire, and began in the late 1940s, after India and Pakistan gained independence. As more and more countries took charge of their own affairs in the 1950s and 1960s, many were attracted to the aims and values of the Commonwealth, resulting in the family of nations seen today.
Activities and events
The Commonwealth is active in a huge number of areas, including ecology, health and economics, providing and sharing information, training and expertise to further the aims of the organisation. The Heads of Government Meeting is held every two years, where the leaders of the member states get together to discuss current issues. Commonwealth Day is held in the second week of March every year, where Commonwealth citizens, particularly children, have a chance to celebrate their friendship.
The Commonwealth also hosts sporting and arts events. There is an annual writers prize, which has been won in previous years by famous authors such as Peter Carey and Louis de Bernieres, and a yearly arts and crafts competition. Perhaps the most well-known event sponsored by the organisation is the Commonwealth Games, which is held every four years in one of the member countries. The games have gained the nickname 'the Friendly Games' because of their reputation for good-natured competitiveness.
The Commonwealth
March 11th is Commonwealth Day, but what exactly is the Commonwealth?
Where is the Commonwealth, and who lives there?
The Commonwealth is a group of 54 countries, spread all over the globe, north to south, east to west. The countries range in size from the tiny island of Nauru in the Pacific ocean (which is so small that it doesn't have a capital), to Canada, the largest territory in the world. Both rich and poor countries are members - the GDP of Singapore is about 200 times that of Sierra Leone. Over one and a half billion people (a quarter of the world's population) live in the Commonwealth, and between them represent nearly every religion, race and political system on the planet.
What is the Commonwealth?
Hot and cold, rich and poor, wet and dry, island and land-locked, the list of opposites used to describe the countries which make up the Commonwealth seems endless. Just what do they all have in common?
The member states all use English as a common working language, and have similar legal and education systems. The countries support each other in their aims to reduce poverty, prejudice, ignorance and disease, and to promote human rights and social development.
Historically, the modern Commonwealth is a product of the British Empire, and began in the late 1940s, after India and Pakistan gained independence. As more and more countries took charge of their own affairs in the 1950s and 1960s, many were attracted to the aims and values of the Commonwealth, resulting in the family of nations seen today.
Activities and events
The Commonwealth is active in a huge number of areas, including ecology, health and economics, providing and sharing information, training and expertise to further the aims of the organisation. The Heads of Government Meeting is held every two years, where the leaders of the member states get together to discuss current issues. Commonwealth Day is held in the second week of March every year, where Commonwealth citizens, particularly children, have a chance to celebrate their friendship.
The Commonwealth also hosts sporting and arts events. There is an annual writers prize, which has been won in previous years by famous authors such as Peter Carey and Louis de Bernieres, and a yearly arts and crafts competition. Perhaps the most well-known event sponsored by the organisation is the Commonwealth Games, which is held every four years in one of the member countries. The games have gained the nickname 'the Friendly Games' because of their reputation for good-natured competitiveness.
The Commonwealth
March 11th is Commonwealth Day, but what exactly is the Commonwealth?
Where is the Commonwealth, and who lives there?
The Commonwealth is a group of 54 countries, spread all over the globe, north to south, east to west. The countries range in size from the tiny island of Nauru in the Pacific ocean (which is so small that it doesn't have a capital), to Canada, the largest territory in the world. Both rich and poor countries are members - the GDP of Singapore is about 200 times that of Sierra Leone. Over one and a half billion people (a quarter of the world's population) live in the Commonwealth, and between them represent nearly every religion, race and political system on the planet.
What is the Commonwealth?
Hot and cold, rich and poor, wet and dry, island and land-locked, the list of opposites used to describe the countries which make up the Commonwealth seems endless. Just what do they all have in common?
The member states all use English as a common working language, and have similar legal and education systems. The countries support each other in their aims to reduce poverty, prejudice, ignorance and disease, and to promote human rights and social development.
Historically, the modern Commonwealth is a product of the British Empire, and began in the late 1940s, after India and Pakistan gained independence. As more and more countries took charge of their own affairs in the 1950s and 1960s, many were attracted to the aims and values of the Commonwealth, resulting in the family of nations seen today.
Activities and events
The Commonwealth is active in a huge number of areas, including ecology, health and economics, providing and sharing information, training and expertise to further the aims of the organisation. The Heads of Government Meeting is held every two years, where the leaders of the member states get together to discuss current issues. Commonwealth Day is held in the second week of March every year, where Commonwealth citizens, particularly children, have a chance to celebrate their friendship.
The Commonwealth also hosts sporting and arts events. There is an annual writers prize, which has been won in previous years by famous authors such as Peter Carey and Louis de Bernieres, and a yearly arts and crafts competition. Perhaps the most well-known event sponsored by the organisation is the Commonwealth Games, which is held every four years in one of the member countries. The games have gained the nickname 'the Friendly Games' because of their reputation for good-natured competitiveness.

Pirates and piracy

By Paul Millard
Piracy - the act of robbery from ships at sea - has existed for thousands of years. It was written about by the ancient Greeks and has been written about ever since. As long as some people have moved valuable cargo in ships, other people have wanted to rob them.
However, to most people in Britain and North America, piracy belongs to the Caribbean of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a time known to some as ‘The Golden Age of Piracy’. This is the era of parrots sitting on shoulders, wooden legs, eye patches, metal hooks instead of hands and men with beards shouting, ‘Aha me hearties’. And people robbing ships.
Many of these ideas and images come from books, such as Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’, Defoe’s ‘King of Pyrates’ and Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’. As you may have noticed, pirates are well-represented in films and cartoons, from Errol Flynn to Walt Disney right up to the Curse of the Black Pearl.
Why is this era of piracy written about so much in English literature? One obvious reason is that the pirates were British and American. While many stories show them to be cruel robbers and killers, another view of piracy is commonly depicted, in which the pirates are much more heroic and adventurous. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that rebellious outlaws are often attractive figures, especially if they are from another time in history. More importantly, many pirates were acting in the national interest and became heroes for this. It was quite common for governments to give permission for pirates to attack ships belonging to enemy nations. These pirates were known as ‘privateers’.
The British privateers in the Caribbean became famous because they were part of the long-running conflict with Spain for domination of the region and the world. One of England’s great naval heroes, Sir Francis Drake, was really just a privateer who attacked Spanish ships. The rich cargoes of gold and silver leaving South America were an attractive target for him and many others that followed.
Similarly, pirates often have a heroic image in the United States because of their role in the War of Independence against Britain. Initially, the American navy was very small, so Congress encouraged privateers to attack British ships, which they did, in large numbers. For every ship in the American navy, there were at least ten pirate ships. These caused severe damage to Britain’s ability to supply its army in North America. The privateers fought again in the War of 1812, most famously in New Orleans, where Jean Lafitte and his men played a vital role in the defence of the city.
There is another reason why pirates have a positive image in popular history. Most pirate ships were surprisingly egalitarian and democratic. It was normal for the captain to be elected and most issues were decided by a vote. The stolen goods were fairly divided amongst the crew members. Many pirates were men who had escaped from the harder discipline of the merchant ships and the navy. In their escape from authority, they created a model of a more just and fair society, many years ahead of the revolutions in America and France.
To many of us, pirates are an interesting and colourful part of history, useful as entertainment but not much else. However, modern piracy is alive and well and increasing every year. In 2002, there were 370 incidences of piracy world-wide. These days, the Caribbean is fairly quiet. The piracy hotspot now is Asia, particularly in the seas around Indonesia, where over a hundred pirate attacks took place.
Some acts of piracy are opportunistic, simple affairs – robbers boarding a ship that is waiting in a port, hoping to take money and anything else that can be easily carried. Others use advanced technology and are very organised. Sometimes, the pirates take the valuables from a ship and sometimes they take the entire ship. This is especially true if the cargo is a valuable one that can easily be transferred to another ship, such as oil or gas. Very often, a stolen ship can be repainted, renamed and reused elsewhere. Operations of this size are difficult to hide and money is often paid to government officials to get their help and cooperation. Sometimes, government employees are the pirates – one victim of Asian piracy in the 1990s complained that his attackers appeared to be members of the Navy that was supposed to protect him.
Protecting ships is difficult. Most ships have fewer sailors than they did in the past, and they no longer carry weapons. One defence mechanism now on the market is an electric fence that deters attackers with a 9,000 volt shock. Whether it works or not, it is too late for the fourteen crew of one Indonesian vessel. On November 25th 2003, they became the year’s final piracy statistic. Their tug boat was pulling a barge when they were attacked by fifteen pirates armed with guns. The crew were ordered to jump off the ship and swim to a nearby island. Fortunately, they all survived, but their ship and the pirates have disappeared.
Do you have a romantic image of piracy or do you think pirates are just common criminals? Are there any famous pirates from your country?

Pirates and piracy

By Paul Millard
Piracy - the act of robbery from ships at sea - has existed for thousands of years. It was written about by the ancient Greeks and has been written about ever since. As long as some people have moved valuable cargo in ships, other people have wanted to rob them.
However, to most people in Britain and North America, piracy belongs to the Caribbean of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a time known to some as ‘The Golden Age of Piracy’. This is the era of parrots sitting on shoulders, wooden legs, eye patches, metal hooks instead of hands and men with beards shouting, ‘Aha me hearties’. And people robbing ships.
Many of these ideas and images come from books, such as Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’, Defoe’s ‘King of Pyrates’ and Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’. As you may have noticed, pirates are well-represented in films and cartoons, from Errol Flynn to Walt Disney right up to the Curse of the Black Pearl.
Why is this era of piracy written about so much in English literature? One obvious reason is that the pirates were British and American. While many stories show them to be cruel robbers and killers, another view of piracy is commonly depicted, in which the pirates are much more heroic and adventurous. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that rebellious outlaws are often attractive figures, especially if they are from another time in history. More importantly, many pirates were acting in the national interest and became heroes for this. It was quite common for governments to give permission for pirates to attack ships belonging to enemy nations. These pirates were known as ‘privateers’.
The British privateers in the Caribbean became famous because they were part of the long-running conflict with Spain for domination of the region and the world. One of England’s great naval heroes, Sir Francis Drake, was really just a privateer who attacked Spanish ships. The rich cargoes of gold and silver leaving South America were an attractive target for him and many others that followed.
Similarly, pirates often have a heroic image in the United States because of their role in the War of Independence against Britain. Initially, the American navy was very small, so Congress encouraged privateers to attack British ships, which they did, in large numbers. For every ship in the American navy, there were at least ten pirate ships. These caused severe damage to Britain’s ability to supply its army in North America. The privateers fought again in the War of 1812, most famously in New Orleans, where Jean Lafitte and his men played a vital role in the defence of the city.
There is another reason why pirates have a positive image in popular history. Most pirate ships were surprisingly egalitarian and democratic. It was normal for the captain to be elected and most issues were decided by a vote. The stolen goods were fairly divided amongst the crew members. Many pirates were men who had escaped from the harder discipline of the merchant ships and the navy. In their escape from authority, they created a model of a more just and fair society, many years ahead of the revolutions in America and France.
To many of us, pirates are an interesting and colourful part of history, useful as entertainment but not much else. However, modern piracy is alive and well and increasing every year. In 2002, there were 370 incidences of piracy world-wide. These days, the Caribbean is fairly quiet. The piracy hotspot now is Asia, particularly in the seas around Indonesia, where over a hundred pirate attacks took place.
Some acts of piracy are opportunistic, simple affairs – robbers boarding a ship that is waiting in a port, hoping to take money and anything else that can be easily carried. Others use advanced technology and are very organised. Sometimes, the pirates take the valuables from a ship and sometimes they take the entire ship. This is especially true if the cargo is a valuable one that can easily be transferred to another ship, such as oil or gas. Very often, a stolen ship can be repainted, renamed and reused elsewhere. Operations of this size are difficult to hide and money is often paid to government officials to get their help and cooperation. Sometimes, government employees are the pirates – one victim of Asian piracy in the 1990s complained that his attackers appeared to be members of the Navy that was supposed to protect him.
Protecting ships is difficult. Most ships have fewer sailors than they did in the past, and they no longer carry weapons. One defence mechanism now on the market is an electric fence that deters attackers with a 9,000 volt shock. Whether it works or not, it is too late for the fourteen crew of one Indonesian vessel. On November 25th 2003, they became the year’s final piracy statistic. Their tug boat was pulling a barge when they were attacked by fifteen pirates armed with guns. The crew were ordered to jump off the ship and swim to a nearby island. Fortunately, they all survived, but their ship and the pirates have disappeared.
Do you have a romantic image of piracy or do you think pirates are just common criminals? Are there any famous pirates from your country?

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