Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

On behalf of the English unit: best wishes for all good health and happiness in the new year! In the words of an old Irish blessing,

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.

May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.

(And in the words of a somewhat less old West-Flemish blessing written by Guido Gezelle...

Ik wensche u wat ik zelf betracht:
bij dage werk, en rust bij nacht;
als g’honger hebt, een bete brood;
als dorst u kwelt, geen waternood;
geen schulden als die ge effen kunt
betalen met gepaste munt;
en heel dit jaar, zoo ‘t gaat en staat,
geen tandzeer. Is ‘t daar al meê? Ja’et.

P.S. Forgive my extreme Photoshop silliness, but...


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

the enlightenment ? no so enlighted !

As you all probably know Xavier and I are now studying in Maastricht. I love the university and all the Dutch students in my class. They integrated us immediatly as opposed to what I expected. We are now very good friends. They have a lot of respect for foreigners and always make a great effort to understand and help us when we try to explain something difficult in Dutch. I am leaving Maastricht next saturday, wat makes me feel very sad. They all proposed me to come back to study here next year. The subjects we are studying are also very interesting. During the first period ( 5 september to 27 octobre ) we had a course on the enlightenment. I was passionate by the subject. That's why I would like to share it with you.
Most people consider the enlightenment like a period of equality, stability and rationality during which science emerge as a source of knowledge that could not be contradicted. The problem is that this popular belief is opposed to the reality. During our classes we have seen many examples of injustices and inequalities. I will present two cases.
The first obvious example of inequality was between men and women. In 1789 in France the declaration of the rights of men and of the citizen was adopted but women were not seen as citizens. They were represented by their husband or their father. But the enlightenment was seen a period of equality, what threatened the traditional place given to women in society: the lowest one. Science, which could not be contradicted, gave arguments to prove that women could not be citizens and vote. Scientists tried to find argument to keep the tradional role patron. They explained that women are made to have babies that's why they had to stay at home. Some said that if women were engaged in an activity outside the house it would cost them too much energy. The consequence would be that they would not have enough energy to carry a baby. Some also said that the skull of a women was usually larger than the one of men compared to the rest of the body, which is also the case of children. Those scientists concluded that women were childish and therefore unable to vote.
The second example of inequality is slavery. The slaves were used during the enlightenment. Science played an important part in justifying the use of slaves. For some scientists the slaves were the gap that was missing between the whites and the apes. They were inferior and could be treated badly.
I learned during this course that you also have to be careful when you study history and take different point of views to have a good representation of what really happened. I advise you to visit this website: or to read 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison. I can lend the book to anyone that would be interested in it. It is a good illustration of what we study here.

The name is Bond, James Bond...

The new James Bond movie Casino Royale released last November was announced as a blockbuster and as the topic of numerous debates about the James Bond film evolution. I will here present what I personally think of the film and the result of a discussion in a Visual Culture course that I followed at the Radboud University of Nijmegen.

It appears clearly that the 007 genre is at a turn. But is this renewal well in tune with the time? Let me first mention that we can assign a part of the novelty to the special story of Casino Royale, i.e. the pre-history of the character of James Bond. He learns all that will make of him the well-known 007. As an example, Vesper, the woman Bond will fall in love with, teaches him how to dress properly. It is obviously the first time that he wears a tailed dinner Jacket. Casino Royale is the story of the creation of the character. It is difficult to know how far the story influences the novelty of the movie.
A major change however is the look of the camera. For the first time, the female characters are not eroticised as much as the male character, i.e. James Bond. The erotic gaze does not need a woman this time. Watch the movie once more with this idea and you will be surprised how many times you see Bond (Daniel Craig) nearly naked, whereas the women are very often dressed. Also, you see him two times coming out of the sea with a naked wet body, a very erotic symbol. Please mention that I am speaking of eroticism at a purely technical level, referring to the gaze of the camera. You may find Daniel Craig beautiful or not, he is nevertheless made beautiful by the camera's eye. He represents the new masculine ideal, among other things by his hairless chest (take a look at the advertisements showing a male body, it will always be hairless, in opposition to, say, thirty years ago), completely opposite to a Sean Connery's chest. I also want you to notice that it is not because Craig is eroticised that he loses his masculinity - and this is a very new phenomenon in post-modern visual culture. James Bond is a cyborg, a body able to endure more, to run faster, to jump higher... But at the same time he is very vulnerable, i.e. he spends some time in a hospital and he falls in love. This is this combination of eroticised and still masculine body, and this association of invincibility and vulnerability that makes this James Bond completely new but in tune with the time.

I would like to add some further personal remarks: first, the film is for me a bit too long, the private discussions between Vesper and Bond seem superfluous to me. Also, it is not necessary that he repeats that he only has one ball left; I do not want to know that about James Bond. Thirdly, I understand though regret the absence of gadgets. Next, Daniel Craig plays very well (he walks and has some of the style of Sean Connery) but I still think he does not perfectly fit in this role. Finally, what I mostly miss in this film is the British touch; I found the film too American.
As a conclusion, Casino Royale is a great action movie, and as a James Bond film it announces a turn in the genre, although it can be caused by the story - the origin of James Bond. Therefore I am very impatient to see the next one.

A James Bond fan

Monday, December 25, 2006

potty christmas

In every one of us lies a Harry Potter fan, though, admittedly, it is more hidden in some people than in others. Being overtly one (and proud of it), I’ve decided it was time for me to provide some material to slake your (soon-to-be) insatiable interest in the Harry Potter world. Hence my idea of revealing my source of knowledge, namely the first and best site about our British hero: For more than 6 years now, the members of Mugglenet have dedicated themselves to the site to bring it the fame that is now his. JK Rowling has even awarded them a trophy on her website fan section, and the founder, Emerson , even had the honour of being granted an exceptional interview with our most beloved author.
Besides, the site is meritorious indeed, as it offers a whole array of entertaining features such as the wall of shame (hilarious comments and letters from Mugglenet visitors to the staff), very interesting name origins on an etymological basis , a true wand seller (no kidding!), funny song parodies and, above all, the world-famous editorials that Jo even praised on her website. These editorials are really amazing works from people hired by Mugglenet and who have come up with astonishing theories about practically everything in the Harry Potter books. My favourite editorials, i.e. those I find particularly thrilling, are collected under the name Spinner’s End (which might ring a bell to the most alert of us as being Snape’s hiding place and title of the 2nd chapter of HBP) and are written by a 46 year-old woman, which proves that Harry Potter books do not only attract children or spotty teenagers. Now I can already picture your dubious frowns at the pedagogical aspect of theories about fictional books but I can assure you that the editorials are wonderfully written AND under the form of ESSAYS (rings any bell?). That might indeed prove useful in a couple of months! Furthermore, reading the editorials is a great way to kill time during the bloc period in an intelligent manner and without feeling guilty (take my word for it)!
I might add that we lived a historical moment on December 21 (was I the only one to notice though?) when Jo released the title of her 7th book and by chance I was on Mugglenet that day, doing research for this very entry when I saw it. If you haven’t heard of it yet, I might advise you to go to her site, click on the pink rubber and follow the instructions as follows: 1) click the knob on the open door in the mirror to see the Christmas tree, 2) click on the top half of the main door to see a wreath; 3) click on top of the mirror to reveal garland, 4) click on the spider web next to the mirror, 5) click on the 4th chime in the window to find the key of the main door, 6) drag the key to the door knob to unlock the door, 7) the door opens to reveal a package, 8) when you click the bow, the package will open, 9) inside is a game of hangman you can play to guess the title of Book 7! The door to jk’s office seldom opens, so enjoy it because it might be the last time. Imagine the look of awe and admiration on the faces of your children in a few years when you tell them you have witnessed the release of the 7th title live!
Now the reason I waited so long to share this site with you becomes clear: this is my idea of a collective gift for Christmas, which btw allows me not to spend anything. Being students as well after all, you would know! Merry Christmas to all of you!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

21 Jump Street

Yesterday evening, while surfing on the Internet, I found by accident pictures of an old TV show that I used to watch when I was a child, and that I would like to share with you: 21 Jump Street, starring Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson, Peter DeLuise, Steven Williams, Dustin Nguyen and Richard Grieco. It is an american police drama television series, that started in 1987 and ended in 1991. There is a lot of action in each episode, and the typical plots are the following: drugs, prostitution, AIDS, homophobia, racism,...

Here is the introduction credits, with a much younger Johnny Depp than in Pirates of the Carribbean ;)

Friday, December 22, 2006


Neighbours is an Australian soap opera which was created 21 years ago and which is screened in Great-Britain since 20 years. The series follows the daily lives of several families who live in the six houses at the end of Ramsay Street, a middle class suburb of Erinsborough. Storylines explore the romances, family problems, domestic squabbles, and other key life events affecting the various residents. The show rates on average over five million viewers a day and is one of the most popular international programme which can be seen at the British television. It has more success than American serials like Desperate Housewives and Lost. If you want to relax during this stressful period, switch on BBC 1 to know more about the Ramsay, the Robinson and the Bishop family...

Thursday, December 21, 2006



300 is a graphic novel first published in 1998 and written and illustrated by Frank Miller, who is one of the most influential and popular creators in comics today. You may have heard about Sin City, a film noir-style comic book and one of the best creation of the author, which was made into a film by Robert Rodriguez in 2005.

300 depicts the Battle of Thermopylae, which took place in 480 BC, and the events leading up to it from the perspective of Leonidas I, king of Sparta. He and his 300 Spartans fought to the last man against the Persian Emperor Xerxes I and his massive army. Facing insurmountable odds, the Spartans' heroism and sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against the Persian invaders. The serie won three Eisner Awards in 1999: 'Best Limited Series', 'Best Writer/Artist' for Frank Miller and 'Best Colorist' for Lynn Varley.

300 is going to be made into a film which will be released on the 9th of March 2007. The director is Zack Snyder, who is known for his remake of Zombie: Dawn of the Dead, the cult horror-movie directed by George A. Romero. The cast includes Gerard Butler as King Leonidas I, Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo and also David Wenham, who you certainly know as Faramir in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

If you are interested, you can have a look on the official website of the 300 movie, which contains some trailers, some very interesting video diaries and a production blog.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

summaries and analysis of books

To refresh your memory before Ms Leijnse's Exam or Mr Delabastita's, go to This wonderful website contains all you need: good summaries and also good analysis of the stories you have read (in Dutch and in English) for Bac1 students.

It provides you (Bac II) summaries of the stories you have seen during the "Histoire de la littérature anglophone II" and "Histoire de la littérature Néerlandaise II"

Moreover I'm sure that you will all receive money for Christmas. For those who are going to buy books it is really interessant. You can find a lot of authors (Charles Dickens, James Joyce, Stephen King, ...) and genres (science-fiction, sentimental story, ...).

All tastes are represented!!!

You didn't know I could do that, did you?

Hallo zusammen!

Yes, Vanessa and I are still alive! And I have not forgotten you: I have just been caught in Cologne's whirl and carried away by the German way of life! A different city, different people, a different way of thinking, that is what I am faced with. Did I mention a different university system? I suppose you did not know, so open your eyes, big news ahead: in Cologne there is no ECTS Credit Points system yet. How do we manage to survive, you would ask. Well... Asking, begging would even be more appropriate, for ECTS: if we do this, how many credits can we get? And so it goes on for every single lecture we attend. Another problem is that we have to come back to Belgium before the end of the German term. So exams turn into essays or appointments for "a little conversation/oral exam" (word for word what a "Dozentin" said!). Anyway, everything turns out to be going well so far, fingers crossed!

Actually, there is a lot more to say about the "Universität zu Köln". And one of these many things is their really disconcerting "Schein" system. In Belgium every lecture is normally followed by an exam, but here in Germany there are two different types of certificates. The first one is the very simple "Klausur" (or Exam). You sit, sign in, take notes, take the exam and that's it! The second one is much more funny. It's called the "Teilnahmeschein" (or Certificate of Attendance): you just sit, listen, take notes and you get your Schein. Or you can just sit and listen, or just sit and read a book, or just sit and unscramble Jumbles...but keep it under your hat! You can also sign in on the "Teilnahmeliste" and leave...or find someone to sign for you! Even the German say this makes no sense (in a country where everything is supposed to be highly regimented and logical).

So much for the theoretical, boring, official part. The fun begins when we get to the unofficial part. I will not bother you with the typical Sauerkraut with a pint (or more:) of Kölsch, the in-situ brewed beer, or with the traditional Christmas Markets. I will rather go for something I am sure you do not know about.

In Cologne they have the best milalongas I have ever seen. Now what is a milalonga? Spanish students would be able to understand that word, as well as tango afficionados. A milalonga is a dancing hall where they play tango argentino along with rumba and salsa. The best part of it is that you can listen to live music and have a couple of drinks with friends, but you can also dance (and this is really hard to find, unless you live in South America or have a friend in Argentine). If you want more information I recommend you check this very interesting site
I particularly recommend Tango Colon as huge dancing hall. Last week they organized a tango-marathon (from Saturday 17h till Sunday 17h: non-stop dancing), which turned out to be first-class fun!

I will stop here my novel and wish all of you a very "frohe Weihnachten" and a "guten Rutsch ins Neujahr". If you see what I mean...

Take care and "viel Spaß mit den Prüfungen"!

@+ Marine

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The secret art of creating (and possibly remembering) passwords

The entry for PASSWORD in the OALD reads as follows:
1. A secret word or phrase that you need to know in order to be allowed into a place
2. (computing) a series of letters or numbers that you must type into a computer or computer system in order to be able to use it: Enter a username and password to get into the system

This definition, however straightforward, seems to be widely misunderstood. A password should indeed protect your data from ill-intentioned people out there. However, it should never stand in your way and prevent you from accessing your own information. It seems many people using the blog have devised passwords too complex or abstract even for themselves... you should try to outsmart hackers, not yourself!

For more tips on how to create passwords that offer both security and convenience, please do check wikipedia.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The secret of beauty

People often wonder at the physical appearance of their favorite stars in films, video clips or magazines. Dove reveals us the truth...


Cannabis against stress!

We are now approaching the exam period dangerously and many of us begin to feel sick at this idea. ‘Shit! I’m not ready!’ ‘I haven’t started studying yet!’ ‘What will become of me?’ and so on. Please, don’t panic, there is no need for that, for you can always take some cannabis to help you!

It has already been proved that cannabis had a positive effect on nervous mouse. The experiment will now be tested on Israelis soldiers who do no feel at ease because of the fights taking place in Palestine. I let you know what will come out of that and if it proves to be quite efficient, I’ll bring you some for the exams!

In the meantime, because this can take some time, I whish you all a Marry Christmas and a happy New Year, as well as plenty of success for you exams!

PS: Oh, and for the period after the January, I advise you to order some German beer… Why? You would ask me. Well, Germany has now launched a new type of beer called ‘anti-aged beer’. This drink should normally prevent you from getting old. It contains 4,8° alcohol, water, sugar, vitamins… However, in order to be completely efficient, this beer should be drunk in addition to other soft drinks.

Greetings from Leuven, Sylvie ;-)

Person of the year: YOU!

Time Magazine has a long-standing tradition of making controversial choices for their 'person of the year' with, for instance, Adolf Hitler in 1938 and Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. As these examples show, the aim of Time's Person of the Year award is not to honour a deserving person, but to name the person who has most affected the news in a given year.

This year, the person of the year according to Time is you: for being an active part of a "community and collaboration on a scale never seen before" on the World Wide Web. According to Time, the biggest story of 2006 is not about conflicts or great men, but it is

about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

All this is not to say that Time is naïvely optimistic about the Web or blind to the downside of all this web activity -- such as the unlimited expression of hate and obscenities -- but on balance their expectations are positive. (Read the full article for more.)

On a more personal note, but in line with Time's choice for person of the year, I want to congratulate all contributors to the blog for the wide variety of interesting entries: well done!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A bit of History

People tend to regard the Second World War as the most horrific moment in Human History.
But there was another, that was arguably as dreadful (if not more!), that turned the European landscapes into lunar ones, that killed almost 9 million soldiers and 6,6 million civilians, that shocked the entire world for decades and made humanity lose its confidence in "good science" (for it was the very first technological war), and without which there would not have been any Second World War: World War One.
The website First World provides a complete tour of this four years' war, the Great War: whatever you want to learn about it, there is certainly an answer on this page. Of course there is a chronology of the events and explanations on the reasons, but First World also features many interesting, shocking or thrilling articles. Find out how Hitler experienced the war, and why it is a crucial cause of his later successes and doings; by the way, what if Germany had won? Or perhaps you would like to learn more about events in Belgium.
If you can stand it, what about reading on some of the most dangerous or traumatical weapons of war: machine guns, that mowed down entire waves of attackers and thus played a role in the entrenchment; flamethrowers, that spread deadly sheets of flame and terror among soldiers; and of course poison gas, another means of pressure and a highly technological weapon.
WWI was the very first war during which weapons killed far more than disease. You may want to learn more about the casualties...
And compare what you know of the war with the irony of propaganda.
Or if you don't feel like making it through all this horror, you can read an article on the Christmas Truce: in 1914, soldiers of enemy nations became friends for one night, coming to the no man's land, singing Christmas songs together,... This event, which occurred only once throughout the war and is depicted in the 2005 movie "Joyeux Noël/Merry Christmas", can be considered THE one moment of sanity in all this human madness.

A very interesting and complete website indeed, and an exhortation to remember, in order not to commit again.
Let us learn from History and not repeat it.

Santa Claus is a rocker!!

Having fun and doing a good deed at the same time? You can do it!

The principle is extremely easy: the gift of one toy in a good state gives you the access to an evening of concerts.
The asbl ARC Borinage/Haut-Pays and the Dour festival mobilize themselves so that the less favoured children also profit from Christmas and recieve the toy of their dreams, just like every child.
The festival "Santa Claus is a rocker" has been organized since 2001. There are three evenings you shouldn't miss.
You just come to the concert with a toy in an EXCELLENT state (pay attention, no pluch please) and you have a free access to the concerts. At the same time, you make a child happy! Isn't it wonderful?
Last year, the event permitted 3000 children to have a normal Christmas. This year again, Santa Claus himself will disrtibute every toy in the institutions and the less favoured families of the region.

Here are the dates of Santa Claus:
-Saturday 23/12 in Dour from 13pm
-Saturday 16/12 in Thuillies from 17 pm
-Friday 22/12 in Silly from 20 pm

As far as I'm concerned, I think that the concert in Dour is the most interesting one. A lot of artists from the new belgian scene will be present: Sharko, été 67, the tellers, An Pierlé, montevideo,...

You can find more information on

The crazy boy by Justine GERON

My stay in Brussels is far from being quite and peaceful: I live with a schizophrenic called Shoukry but when I speak English with my housemates we just nickname him “the crazy boy”. It is impossible for me to make an exhaustive list of everything he does; I would have to write a book entitled: “the mad man in the kitchen” (as he lives in the student room near the kitchen). But I will give you a glimpse of what our everyday life looks like with him:
02.00 AM He shouts and throws objects against the walls, claps the door, … everybody is awakens but nobody dares to move. The last time he did it, it was because the toilets weren’t clean enough
03.00 to 08.00 AM He cannot sleep and smokes a pack of cigarettes or some other illegal stuff. When I have breakfast (even if it’s winter) I have to open the window, as the kitchen is smoke-filled.
09.00 AM He wakes up and decides to use the vacuum cleaner… because he is ashamed of the dirt in the kitchen and does not dare to show it to the cleaning lady who will come in one hour. 10.00 AM He uses his pan to make water boil to prepare some coffee. After putting the water in his cup he does NEVER clean or dry his pan. Now it is white because of the calcite.
11.00 AM He has a shower (not using soap nor towel) and after the floor is very wet. As he takes 3 showers a day the bathroom on the first floor is always submerged
12.00 I go to the kitchen to have lunch. There he comes to talk to me about anything: creationism (Darwin is nonsense to him), he wants me to feed the little bird in my garden, he wants to buy a 2CV (even if he has no driving license), …
1.00 PM He complains about my Spanish housemate. He accuses her of everything that goes wrong in this house
2.00 PM He complains about hygiene in the house. Good to know that he always wears the same clothes, never washes them and that his originally yellow bed sheets are now black.
3.00 PM He goes to the supermarket to buy special milk for coffee. He doesn’t want to go to Colruyt because he feels insecure in there so he goes to GB. When there is no more milk he shouts at the poor guys working there.
4.00 PM My American housemate comes back from school. She understands 2 or 3 expressions in French. Anyway, he speaks to her as if she understood everything. She feels very stressed about it. Imagine someone always asking you questions in Chinese…
5.00 PM When I am there I translate what he says. It goes from repeating that Georges Bush is a moron many times to translating “you know there are moles in the garden and moles are my friends” without laughing.
6.00 PM Here comes dinnertime. Our friend is fond of fish sticks, “very healthy” as he likes to say. To cook them he puts much oil in a pan and puts the fish sticks in it. And the day after he reuses the same pan and the same oil without washing anything, and the next day…
7.00 PM When we eat together with the other housemates we speak English. If he hears some words like “stupid”, which is the same as in French, he begins to get very nervous because he believes that we were referring to him, which is not (always) the case.
8.00 PM As the night was very short (remember him shouting at 2.OO AM), we go and talk to the concierge to complain about it. If Shoukry hears us gathering there he comes and gets very nervous. And asks if any of us wants to fight against him in the steet. He also tells us to go back in our country (which is very funny as he is himself an Arabian)
9.00 PM He has another shower using Elseve Nutri-Gloss for long hair (now 1,5cm long exactly). He wants to have long hair because he wants to become famous (logic al no?) by writing a book or becoming president of the United States. He is still hesitating.
If you come across the same situation here are some links that might be helpful: help for the families, some techniques to relax, …
P.S. I know that this guy is ill and that he suffers. The objective of this article is not to offend anybody or to laugh at an illness. But the situation here is not easy every day and we have to use our sense of humor to avoid depression.
P.P.S. All the facts mentioned here really happened but not in one single day of course...

Friday, December 15, 2006

What kind of humor do you have?

People you know me will agree to say that humor is something important in my life.
That's why the topic of my article will be "humor"!
By surfing the web, I found a man who has a very special personality and is very famous in the United States: Weird Al.

His real name is Alfred Matthew Yankovic. He is an American musician, a satirist, a parodist, an accordionist, and a television producer. He is known especially for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts. He has recorded more than 150 parody and original songs. Thanks to his works, he have earned among others three Grammy Awards amongst nine nominations, and other presigious awards. In addition to recording his albums, Yankovic has written and starred in his own movie and television show, directed music videos for himself and other artists and has made guest appearances in television shows such as The Simpsons.
If you want to know more about him, I invite you to visit his official website:

He has also made fake interviews of famous artists such as Madonna, or Maria Carey by taking extracts of real interviews and using these as answers to his own questions.
Let's look at his fake interview of Madonna

If you don't like this kind of humor, you will perhaps appreciate my favourite French humorist much more: Florence Foresti. In this video, she tries an imitation of Madonna, which I found quite successful...

Which video do you prefer? It is up to you to make you choice...

A defense of fantasy...

In this period of big stress (yes, the exams are coming soon!), everyone needs a bit of entertainment. If you like reading and want to discover new things (while practising your English of course), I would advise you the series that captivated 60 million readers for the last few years: the Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind. Yes, this is fantasy, but no, it doesn't look like "Lord of the rings" at all. Although many elements place it in the tradition of fantasy (great adventure taking place in a fantastic world full of fantastic creatures and magic), many others give it extremely original features.
Unlike in the "Lord of the rings", you won't see good 'half characters' involved in an ideal war against bad, black monsters. The characters, protagonists as well as less important people, are described in a realistic way; they can feel wrath, lust, love, compassion, and not only good and noble ideas. People are not essentially good or bad but they can make mistakes and have their parts of dark and light, be they on the side of the protagonists or not. Then they are not involved in ideal wars where everything happens on the battlefield where the bad will be cleanly killed: every opponent will try all the tricks he can think of to take the advantage, much like it would happen in real wars (doublespeak of the leaders, epidemies, infiltrators...), and each camp will use strong arguments to jusify its opinions and the place it takes in the conflict.
The aim of Goodkind is to describe this fantastic world in the most realistic way possible; the series forms a big coherent text, and each book always gives new bits of information about the characters and about the world they evolve in (in the same kind of way as the Harry Potter books).Through the books is also distilled a certain philosophy of life, which would make many Christians and Puritans jump, but which is, I think, very interesting and true (for example one of the wizards says that many people are ready to believe anything they hear because they think or because they fear it's true). Nethertheless, these books are really meant for adults: you can also find in it matters of sex and some passages can prove rather shocking, given that a war occurs and some ill-intentioned people make use of torture (but most of the time those passages serve a well-defined purpose)...
So the first book, called "Wizard's First Rule", is about a young woods guide, Richard Cypher, whose father has just been savagely murdered. As he goes in the forest to find clues, he encounters a young woman, Kahlan Amnell, who claims she comes from the other side of the magic (and normally unbridgeable) border separating their two countries. She desperately tries to find a mean to get rid of the tyran that conquered her land and was acclaimed there as a savior. There begins a long journey to find the only man who can stand up...
For those interested, here is a link to the official site of the author, as well as another site with nice quizzes on Goodkind but also Harry Potter, Dune etc.

Learn English with Tom Cruise and Mc Fly

Are you bored spending your time studying your vocabulary and grammar? Then I have got the solution for you! On the website of the BBC, you can find a whole section “Learning English” where you can learn vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar…but also learn about the last gossips and singing fashion songs! Why still read about Tom Cruise’s wedding in “Voila”, “Flair” or “Cosmopolitan”? Read it rather on the “Words in the news” page of the BBC website. You can find not only the last crucial news about his wedding but also learn new vocabulary and listen to the article which is read. You can also sing with Mc Fly, without having to search the net for the exact lyrics, which are directly provided. If you have some difficulties with professor Vandelanotte’s “English pronunciation” class, don’t panic! BBC has recorded every English sound! After having surfed on this fantastic section, go to the “quizzes” page, where you can test your knowledge on English pronunciation, the Mc Fly’s song and Tom Cruise vocabulary! Improve your listening & reading comprehension, your vocabulary and your grammar...enjoy it!

Enjoy your meal!

To all chocolate lovers,

One of the tastiest highlights of any visit to Cologne is the Imhoff-Stollwerck Museum, also known as the Chocolate Museum. This three-storey tourist attraction was founded in 1993 by Hans Imhoff and is located on the Rhine. Before starting their tour of the museum, guests are given a small piece of milk chocolate. Visitors first discover the incredible and rich history of chocolate from the Aztecs’ rituals to the present industrial product. Next, visitors are led to a greenhouse which allows them to experience the natural habitat from which the raw ingredients that go into chocolate are harvested. Then, visitors are given the chance to observe the chocolate production process from the cocoa bean to the wrapped bar of chocolate. This is only the beginning of a fantastic expedition. After having seen how chocolate is made, visitors are led to a fascinating room where archaeological remains from the Olmec, Maya and Aztec civilisations are exhibited, as well as ancient porcelain and silver services from the 17th and 18th centuries. The history of chocolate is afterwards marked by the advent of colonialism, industrialisation up to the 20th century. Finally, visitors enter a room of chocolate advertisements in which antique vending machines, enamel signs, trading cards and posters are exhibited. There is also a small cinema where commercials from the early 20th century may be viewed. This ends the museum tour. After their visit, tourists may enjoy chocolate cakes and/or drinks in a Café. They can also buy a wide variety of chocolate items in a so-called Choco-shop. A visit to this palace of chocolate is a definite must for any self-professed chocoholic!

Enjoy a virtual tour!

Christmas. What have we done?

"Christmas" may be a simple word, it is meaningful for everyone. Some associate it with joy, gifts, good food, party… Other feel alone, this event just reminding them of their usual loneliness. It makes students think about their exams. Another category of people sees it as the Christ’s birth, as a time when his message of love is -or at least should be- the most powerful. As the Christian I am, Christmas makes me wonder: “What have I done?”, "How many times have I sinned? How many mistakes have I made?", "How many good deeds?".
“WHAT HAVE WE DONE?” is the title of the first video I’d like to share with you. I let you discover it by yourself.


(this link gives you a direct access to the video.)

I added the second one in an attempt to show solidarity is not only important for people at the far side of the world; it is also very important in the United States, as it is in Europe, and so forth and so on. Disease, hunger, poverty,… can catch you anywhere, at anytime.

CLICK HERE:,3032542&pg=1

St-Vé as a remembrance of the founder of the VUB and the ULB

An Erasmus stay is always rich in many discoveries: you are likely to experience new ways of life, new habits and new customs even if you only move from two hundreds kilometres. My Erasmus life in Brussels is not an exception to the rule and I would like to point out one of the most typical student folklores I have encountered here: the “Saint-Verhaegen”, better know as “St-Vé” in the popular jargon.
Every year on the 20th of November, all students from the different universities and higher schools of Brussels and the academic authorities of the town commemorate the foundation of the VUB and the ULB by Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen. He was a lawyer born in Brussels in 1796 and, in many respects, he was a perfect representative of the high bourgeois and catholic lifestyle of the 19th century. Nevertheless he became a strong supporter of the anticlerical movement and an active member of the freemasons, the liberal party, and the Belgian parliament.
Verhaegen conceived the idea of a free university that would be totally independent from the church and the state. His dream came true in 1834 with the foundation of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Some courses at the ULB have been taught in Dutch from 1935 onwards but it was not until 1963 that almost all the faculties offered programs in Dutch. The Vrije Universiteit van Brussel (VUB) was finally split off from its French-speaking sister in 1969, thereby becoming a separate legal entity.
Since the launching of the ULB, the 20 November has been a day off but the real celebration of the “Saint-Verhaegen” only started in 1888. In this year two hundreds students gathered in front of Verhaegen’s statue before going to the cemetery of Evere to lay a wreath on his memorial tomb. The less official student parties could then begin until the far end of the night. From then on, the event has gone through the ages, yet with a lesser accent op the commemorational aspect.
Nowadays this crucial day in the history of the university is marked by a carnivalesque parade through the streets of the capital. This parade starts at midday at the “Place de Grand Sablon” to end around 18 pm in front of the Bourse. Students are invited to wear warm clothes and to get an empty glass in order to fill it (no need to add that it is not with water...) at the trucks chartered by the different students associations. Just try to imagine: thousands students drinking, singing and having fun in a town free from any cars. The themes have followed one another but they have always reflect the students’ reactions when facing big contemporary problems such as fascism during WWII, racism, environmentalism, anticlericalism and many others. This very year 2006 were celebrated the 150 years of fraternity between the ULB and the VUB with a specific subtitle: “vive les gueux” (“viva the gueus”)!
This festive commemoration is a real opportunity to immerse you into the Brussels student life and to meet many new students. Moreover, it strengthens the ties of friendship between the ULB and the VUB. For those of you who plan to go to Brussels next year, you now have a little idea of what a day in a Brussels student life looks like!

The hockey player

In this period of hard work and stress, some form of entertainment is always welcome! I propose you a short sport video from the NHL (National Hockey League). NHL players are always claiming themselves the best and the strongest players in the world. As regards to the league level, this is obviously true. Unfortunately reality sometimes makes the life seem more confusing, even staggering as this player can testify to that.

A real moment of pure pleasure...

P.S.: The man has totally recovered his sense of the orientation!

A wonderful journey to Salamanca...

Salamanca is a city, situated in western Spain. This city is the capital of the province of Salamanca. The population counts 160 000 inhabitants. It is a beautiful city where there are plenty of musea, monuments and places to see and visit.
One of my friends is studying translation at the University of Bruxelles. This year all students BAC3 have been obliged to go on Erasmus. Simon is studying English and Spanish and he wanted to improve his Spanish that is why he has decided to go to Salamanca.
One month ago, Simon invited Deborah and I in Salamanca. We agreed immediately and went on a trip on the sixteenth of November. We took the plane in Bruxelles-Sud and landed in Valladolid. You do not know all the difficulties you can have with your luggage. Currently a new law stipulates that all passengers cannot take liquids (no more than 100ml) in the plane. By liquids, they mean drinks, perfume, deodorant, mascara, foundation cream,... It is impossible for girls and women to leave these things at home :) In Valladolid we had to take the bus to go to Salamanca. I admit we had difficulties to know where we had to buy our tickets, where we had to wait for the bus,... It would have been easier if Spanish people could speak and understand English or if our Spanish was better. Fortunately we arrived save and sound in Salamanca. There we met the roommates of Simon: Manuel, a Spanish boy who is studying history and Henny, a German girl who is studying medicine. The main problem with Manuel and Henny was that except Spanish we had no other language in common. Fortunately they agreed to speak slowly so we understood a bit. Manuel taught us to cook Spanish food, including "tortillas": it was delicious. One evening they organised a party where we met French, Canadian, Italian, Spanish, Belgian and German people. It was really interesting to speak with students from all over the world. Except cooking and parties we wanted to visit the city. Simon was a perfect tourist guide. We visited plenty of things, including the "Plaza Mayor", the cathedral and the university.
As far as I am concerned is the "Plaza Mayor" the most beautiful one in Salamanca, especially late in the night with all the lights. This place, situated in the heart of the town, is surrounded by arcades. It was constructed by Andres Garcia de Quifiones in the 12th century. All Salamantinos arrange to meet each other on this place.
The old Romanesque cathedral has a wonderful architecture. It was constructed in the 12th century and is situated in front of the university.
The University of Salamanca is the second oldest in the world after Bologna. It was constructed in 1212. Students count for a great percentage of the population in Salamanca. Many students come to Salamanca in order to study in one of the best university of Spain. It has been said that the inhabitants of Salamanca speak the purest Spanish in Spain. Consequently many learners of the Spanish language come to Salamanca in order to improve it. In Salamanca there are also plenty of beautiful and decorated bars where students enjoy their nights. In these bars you can drink "chupitos" and eat " tapas".
This journey was wonderful: the city is beautiful, people even if they do not speak English are friendly and welcoming. It was worth going there. If you have time of if you do not know where to go on holiday I advise you to go an see Salamanca.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wii have a problem!!!

21 straps, 13 televisions, 8 people, 4 controllers, 2 walls... What’s this ? That’s simply the list of the different broken things (plus the 8 injured people) reported on the website after having played with the Wii, the new Nintendo video game console. But how do you get into breaking a television or a wall with a console ?

To answer this question you need to get some background information about the Wii. Nintendo has developped a new technology by which you have to reproduce real movements (with your controller) that will then be reproduced on the screen by your player or character. For instance, if you play a tennis game and if your player has to make a backhand, you have to make the movement of a backhand with the controller in your hand.

The problem comes from the fact that people don’t use the wrist strap so that your Wii remote can fly very easyly. But sometimes even when people had put their wrist strap they got problems. The reason is clear: they did excessive, too wide motions. To prevent accidents Nintendo has offered safety tips, of which the following is interesting: "Hold the Wii Remote firmly and do not let go. Even while wearing the wrist strap, make sure you don't let go of the Wii Remote during game play and do not use excessive motion. For example, in Wii Sports bowling, the proper way to let go of the ball while bowling is to release the "B" button on the Wii Remote—DO NOT LET GO OF THE Wii REMOTE ITSELF."

Thanks to those problems, the webmasters of ‘Wii have a problem’ have found a great opportunity to create a blog about their passion: damages caused by gaming violence. You can report your own accidents and give pictures of it. Other things to find on the site are funny articles about the Wii.

Do you know Borat?

Have you heard of Borat, the (false) reporter of Kazakhstan?

Sacha Baron Cohen, a British actor, has invaded United States -and the rest of the world as well- with his character Borat. Borat has been sent to the USA by his government in order to present a better image of his country. Indeed, Kazakstan is a democracy but it is just slightly different from the western society's conception.

In his film Borat: Cultural learnings of America for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan, he commited a lot of diplomatic blunders. For example, assisting to a Republican conference, his comments about the women present are without a doubt misogynous as you can see on the following video fragment.

Here follows an other example of his "delicacy":Borat goes hunting. He wants to shoot Jews and has a particular way to attract animals.

Bowling for Columbine

« Bowling for Columbine » was written and directed by Michael Moore in 2002. In his film, he wants to answer the question why there is so much violence in the United States. His starting point was the massacre that took place in the Columbine High School in the Colorado in 1999. In fact, 2 students made an attack on their classmates and then killed themselves. Michael Moore enlarged the plot to the violence with guns in the United States in general. According to him, guns are symbols of both American freedom and its self-destruction. In his film, he interviews various people, among others Matt Stone (the co-creator of South Park) and the singer Marilyn Manson.
“Bowling for Columbine” has had a great succes; the film received an Academy Award for the Best Documentary and a César Award for the Best Foreign Film.
On the other hand, the film was also very much criticized. Some critics say, for example, that it is not a documentary but a fiction, misleading the viewer. Enjoy the trailer!

What on earth is happening?

One month ago a Flemish meteorologist spoke about ‘zherfst’ by referring to the high temperature of the season. This was not a surprise because global warming is nowadays what one can call a topical event. In fact, we have been experiencing this phenomenon for already fifty years and it is getting worse. Even if it could present at first look some advantageous effects for us; we do not have to turn the heater, but just think ‘what a beautiful day’, this climate change has terrible effects in others parts of the world (floods, droughts, hurricanes, etc). In addition, the WWF argues that 30% of the animal species has disappeared since the beginning of the industrial era and that more and more are endangered (polar bears, vulture, migratory birds,…), but it can also be said that another specie that encounter a big risk is the human being and this starting by the poorest populations of the globe. Now that this global warming is considered as an accurate reality and that it is also well known that human activity contributes to this climate change, necessity is the mother of invention. Therefore the WWF created a useful quiz on which we can test our ecological footprint and receive some pieces of advice. Even tough the preservation of earth starts from everyone’s actions the politicians have also to take an important role in this project. A good example was the Kyoto Protocol that has been signed by almost all countries except the USA (the biggest polluter). For this reason, it is worth looking at President Bush's attitude towards global warming.

Christmas tradition in Great-Britain

Every country seems to have a different way of celebrating Christmas. Each one has special traditional Christmas foods, special Christmas traditions and customs, different ways of giving gifts, etc.
In Great-Britain, there are many Christmas customs which originated hundreds years ago. Many of them have been adopted in foreign countries, namely in the United States. The first Christmas card was posted in England in the 1840's, and the practice soon became an established part of the build-up to Christmas. Over a billion Christmas cards are now sent every years in the United Kingdom.
The typical British Christmas decorations consist of holly, ivy and mistletoe, which are associated with traditions going back to the Dark Ages. The Christmas tree was popularised by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, who first introduced one to the Royal Household in 1840. Nowadays, the houses are decorated with Christmas trees which are adorned with all kinds of baubles and fairy lights. The presents are usually too big to place them on the tree so they are put around the bottom and the Christmas cards are either placed around the room or hung on steamers.
Carols are often sung on Christmas Eve by groups of singers to their neighbours, and children hang a stocking on the fireplace or at the foot of their bed for Father Christmas to fill. Christmas Day sees the opening of presents and many families attend Christmas services at church.
Christmas dinner consists traditionally of roast turkey, goose or chicken with stuffing and roast potatoes. This is followed by mince pies and Christmas pudding flaming with brandy, which might contain coins or lucky charms for children. Later in the day, a Christmas cake is served. This is a rich baked fruit cake with marzipan, icing, and sugar frosting.
The pulling of Christmas crackers often accompanies food on Christmas Day. Invented by a London baker in 1846, a cracker is a brightly coloured paper tube, twisted at both ends, which contains a party hat, riddle and toy or other ornament. When it is pulled by two people, it gives out a crack as it contents are dispersed. Also popular among children at Christmas time are pantomimes, song and dance dramatisations of well-known faity tales which encourage audience participation.

Charity concert in memory of Princess Diana

In the beginning of this week, Prince William an Prince Harry have proudly announced that a concert in memory of their mother, Diana Princess of Wales, would take place in Wembley to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her tragic death.

The concert will take place on 1st July 2007, the day of Diana's 46th birthday.
60 000 persons are expected to come. The British National Ballet will have the chance to perform on stage. Indeed, Diana was very found of dancing.
Other artists who are likely to take part include Beyoncé, George Michael, Kylie Minogue, Elton John, Duran Duran, Joss Stone, Pharrell Williams and Bryan Ferry.

The benefits of this concert will be given to a number of charities championed by both Diana and Princes Harry and William.

Newport Beach

Hey guys,
I know this is not the most intellectual subject to talk about but still it's great fun!!
This sitcom is actually a real pleasure to watch, a nice thing to do when you have time! Well, I know it's not really the appropriate period but you should keep that in mind for after the exams!!We could have a wednesday movie session on NEWPORT BEACH! (just kidding)!

The sitcom was created in august 2003 by Josh Schwartz (a really jong and talentous producer) the film brings you in the universe of Orange Country town in California, a place where everything seems perfect but behind this little paradise is hiding a world of decadence, corruption and lies.

What does the story talk about?
The story tells about Ryan Atwood, a juvenile delinquent arrested by the police after being involved in a car theft with his brother. The latter was sent in prison and Ryan came into contact with a wealthy lawyer Sandy Cohen. This one felt sympathy for the young boy and invited him to stay with them. The Cohen's world was really different from the world he had known in Chino (a very poor town). Ryan and Seth (the Cohen's son) became close friends and shared many experiences together.

If you want to discover this sitcom, just hurry and get the DVD!! (uh , not too fast, in a few weeks)

Family Guy

Created in 1999, the Family Guy has now become a true phenomenon and has reached a cult-status in the US.
The cartoon features the same kind of characters as those presented in The Simpsons and uses the same kind of humour (a somewhat cynical view of the American society, nonsense humour, spoofs of famous films and American TV programs …) which might explain its success.

Watch it and discover the silly adventures of Peter Griffin (the father), Lois (the mother), Chris (the odd son), Meg (the daughter), Stewie (the gifted baby) and Brian (the talking dog).

Of course, all this would not be complete without a few videos (the second video is the continuation of the first one but I could not find a video containing the two parts) … Enjoy!

World Trade Center : a true story full of emotion

World Trade Center, a film directed by Oliver Stone, was released on August 9, 2006 by Paramount Pictures. It is a dramatic film of 129 minutes based on the events of September 11, 2001. Indeed, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center twintowers of New-York City is the theme of this film. The two main actors of this film are Michael Pena and Nicolas Cage. Nicolas Cage is a well-knonw American actor, who had already played in several great films as “Con Air”, “Lord of War”,...

It is a day, similar to any other day, McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena), two Port Authority police officers, are patrolling through Manhattan streets. But suddenly they hear a loud noise. Back to the police station, another incident, similar to an earthquake, affects the area. The officers see on the news that one of the two towers had been struck by a plane pilloted by terrorists. Sergeant John McLoughlin immediatly gathers the policemen together to go on the scene in order to help for the evacuation of the undamaged tower. There, they had to face horrible and shocking pictures as people jumping out of the tower to avoid being burnt by the flames. McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, accompanied by other well-equipped officers undertake to entered the tower to rescue people. But the building begins to move and collapses on them. The only way to survive is to take refuge into the elevators. The collapsing continues, one officer dies and McLoughlin and Will Jimeno are badly wounded and trapped under the rubble. Unabled to move any part of their body and hurt by falling debris, they talk about their family to try to maintain themselves in life. It is a terrible and traumatic moment. Despite this, both families, aware of the events, are still strong. Marines rescue teams, searching for any survivors, find them and take them out of the rubble. Then they are taken to hospital where they are saved. Later, these two courageous men are rewarded by receiving an award.

When I saw the film, I found it great. First, it tells the real life of John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, two survivors of these terrible events of September 11, 2001, which destroyed the beautiful towers of New-York City and killed millions of people. Secondly, the film shows the way in which families of people touched by the tragedy react. Also, I admire these two courageous men for surviving such dreadful moments. Finally, I found the film very well made. Indeed, some scenes are so well filmed that they could represent pictures.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dawson's Creek

Dawson's Creek is an American serie created by Kevin Williamson (also the producer of the trilogy "Scream") in 1998. It has 6 seasons (128 episodes) and the last one was broadcasted in 2003. The main characters are James Van Der Beek who plays Dawson, Michelle William who plays Jennifer, Joshua Jackson who plays Pacey and Katie Holmes who plays Joey.

The serie is set in Capside, a small town in the Massachusset. It tells the story of four friends who make the journey from adolescence to adulthood.

Dawson's Creek is an amazing serie full of intelligent storylines. People can identify themselves with the characters. Moreover, the captivating music plays an important role in the sense that it strengthens the suspense and the emotions of the spectators. Dawson's Creek also shows the way of life of the Americans. Indeed, we can see in one of the episodes how they prepare and celebrate Thanksgiving. Another interesting thing is that Joey studies Literature at the University of Boston which is a beautiful university. It offers over 250 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and special degree programs. The Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures is divided into 2 units: the Department of Romance (where you can, for example, study French) and the Department of Modern Languages (where you can, for example, study German but also Eastern and East Asian languages!). There is also a lot to do for the students: more than hundred events each year (comedy, opera, debates,...). If you want more information, you can visit the website of the University of Boston (you will be surprised by the huge list of the different academic Departments!).

The famous carnivals of UK

England during the month of November = a country that is full of folklore

Carnival, which is known as a public holiday or as a parade, is also celebrated in England. According to carnivalites, carnival is a way of life . Needless to say, it takes up 52 weeks of the year. This popular event traces the origin of the Bonfire night.
Actually, this famous night also named “Guy Fawkes Night”, is a major annual celebration across the United Kingdom. At that time, Robert Parsons who came from Bridgwater and his close friend Guy Fawkes ,were in favour of putting an end to the Protestant Parliament . But, they planned the ill-fated attempt to blow up the House of Parliament. In remembrance of this event, Brigwater has become the place where the tradition of bonfires and fireworks is more celebrated than in any other place in the country. In fact, ’ The Somerset County Guy Fawkes Carnival Association Circuit’ who starts in Bridgwater , is known as the largest illumionated carnival in Europe. Another well-recongnized parade is ‘The West Country Carnival’ which also dates back to the Gun Powder Plot of 1605.

But, what was previously celebrated? And what do those carnivals actually happen to be?

Formerly in Brigwater , effigies or” guys “ which represented the gunpowder plot investigators were added to the fire by local groups of people who are kwown as “gangs”. These gangs paraded their guys towards the bonfire. Normally, this carnival was being held on November 5th but it is now held on the first Thursday of November. As years passed, the tradition has changed. The celebration became far more musical and plenty of costumes where used.
The spectators who come to see the parade are always fascinated by the impressive sight that the famous squibbers make.Actually,a squibber is the person who stands in line in Bridgwater and who prepares fireworks on top of a long wooden handle. However, it is not the only carnival procession that is taking place in England. There are other carnivals which are taking place in large parts of Devon, Dorset or Wilts .

Carnival clubs do exist. As soon as a person is eighteen years old, it is possible for him/her to join one of those numerous associations. Most of these independent communities are associated with a circuit ( like the Somerset Country Guy Fawkes Carnival Circuit). Each carnivalite’s aim is to build carts and to prepare the procession. Carts can be very expensive that’s why there are local clubs of individuals which have on the one hand the help of sponsorship from local businesses and which have on the other hand the help of charitable donators. These club members have to spend a lot of their spare time to set the parade to music. Finally, what every participant hopes, is to have the best card in order to be rewarded with Prizes.

----For more information:

The weakest link

Television game shows are more popular than ever.One of the most famous is "The weakest link",which is also known in France as "Le maillon faible".
Actually this show started in the UK and then spread over 80 countries world-wide! On the official website for the BBC version you can read some of the presenter's quotes that sound funny exept to those they are addressed to...You are also given the opportunity to play online!Ready to give it a try?

talking cats

Have you ever talked to your cat? Do you think it is totally impossible? You will perhaps change your mind after having watched this video...
Everyone knows that cats express their mood or communicate with people by using a variety of sounds or body postures.
But it is not always easy to translate what your cat is saying.
Fortunately, cats are developing language skill

Monday, December 11, 2006

English corpus linguistics

On Wednesday 20 December, BA3 students will be presenting their corpus-based research on different topics in English descriptive grammar in the English linguistics seminar between 11 am and 2 pm (with a lunch break between 12.30 and 1 pm). (Click the image to view a bigger version of the poster.) You can read the abstracts of their presentations on the noticeboard or online. Guests welcome!


If you are interested by George Bush and his great deeds, you will be happy to have a look at the White House's website, especially on the pages devoted to Barney, President Bush's Scottish Terrier. If you clik on "Barney's Holiday Extravaganza in the section "Barney's film", you can see the clip where Laura Bush whishes the Americans good holidays. What a pity! When you look at it, it's very hard to realize that Bush is the most powerful man in the world! When you think of the multiple wars that are going on in the world, you wonder how it is possible to be so careless and not even mention the global situation ... On the other hand, it's original and you can smile at the idea that Bush is so clever that he needs his dog's help ...

The Scarlet Letter

The exams are coming soon and so time become more and more precious. So for people who read the book "The Scarlet Letter" a long time ago or people who haven't finished the book yet I have found a good site. Indeed, you can find complete and short summaries of each chapters, explanations about the themes, the characters, the settings,... I hope it will help you and I wish you a good session but before this... Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mr Bean: "The child in a grown man's body"

Since the arrival of the winter, you maybe wonder what to do during your long neverending evenings. Why not watching (or rewatching) one or several episodes of the most famous serie in the UK , namely "Mr Bean"? It is said indeed that these episodes have a great ability to entertain. Personnaly, I still enjoy a viewing of the UK's most successful character of all time, even if others find him stupid. Called Bean, like the name of a vegetable and having as only friend a teddy bear, the character of the serie cannot be regarded as a usual person. His life just consists in the resolution of various problems presented by everyday tasks. A simple appointment to the dentist, as a picnic in a park, place Mr bean in an awkward position, from which however he will always senselessly recover! What is precisely the most amusing, is the way he copes with these curious situations. Being egoistical and selfish, it is obviously to the detriment of the others that he achieves his aim. The absence of dialogue, his funny faces and the accidents between his lime-green Mini and the blue car are recurrent features of the series, which always make the viewers laughing. The most famous episode is of course the Merry Christmas Mr Bean episode.
The first serie of the original Mr Bean was broadcast on 1st January 1990. Since then, it has become known all over the world, due to, among others things, a distribution in 245 different territories . The serie was created by Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis and Rubin Driscoll. Even if there were only 14 episodes ever made, it pleased the public who rewarded the series with an international Emmy and The Golden Rose of Montreux. Needless to say that the success of Mr Bean led to a big marketing which is currently increasing but which also does not offer the quality of the original Mr Bean. Since 2002, an animated cartoon has arisen. The UK which are so proud of their Mr Bean have even invested in the production of a film: "Bean- The Ultimate Disaster Movie". A further development around the world of Mr Bean, is the creation of his official website. Surfing on will allow you to discover a well-constructed site , offering a comprehensive description of the serie, games, e-cards and video clips which will remind you of some disasters made by the lovable Mr Bean. I hope you will take pleasure in visiting it!

Cooling planet Earth, a solution to global warming?

To cope with the problem of global warming, a new generation of scientists has arise. Instead of trying to stop the enlargement of the hole in the ozone layer by changing our behaviour like it has been argued until now, they propose four colossal solutions to this problem. They first project is to build a huge spatial sunshade to protect the Earth from the sun rays. The second one is to inject millions of tons of sulphur in the atmosphere to cool it. Then they propose to build an articifial ice-floe that would be formed during Winter and which by melting in Spring would cool down the oceans. And eventually, they last idea is to spill iron sulfate in the oceans which would lead to the development of algas that could absorb the gas carbon present in the water. Those projects are now regarded as completly immoderate. But who knows if the evolution of this major problem won’t lead us to live in a science-fiction world???

You can also find more detailed information about this in the "Science & Vie" of this month (December 2006)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A bridge to the stars

Ten years ago, in 1996, a book that changed my vision of life was published: The Northern lights. This wonderful book is the first part of a trilogy (in his dark materials) written by the British Philip Pullman. I first read this trilogy when I was 14, I immediately found it great. But it’s mostly when I re-read it in English this summer that I came to understand it fully: I was more than enthusiastic, I was hypnotized by this wonderful story that transported me through the best adventure I have ever known. According to me, the principal aim of a book is to make people think and/or dream. This book combines both with a dexterity I have rarely seen before.

It’s really difficult to summarise it because of its complexity and subtlety. There are many characters and the story consists of some storylines which are all, in one way or another, linked to the same issue.

Here’s a broad summary found on wikipedia:

“The trilogy follows the coming of age of two main characters, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a multiverse and a backdrop of epic events. The story begins in Northern Lights with fantasy elements such as gypsies, witches, and armoured bears. As the trilogy progresses, it acquires allegorical layers of meaning, introducing a broad range of ideas from fields such as metaphysics, quantum physics, philosophy (especially religious philosophy and, arguably, a certain position on the origin of consciousness), and Biblical symbolism.”

The different worlds in which the story is set contain strange things such as dæmons (the animal-shaped representation of the human soul), an alethiometer, a subtle knife capable of opening a window between different worlds, and so on. All these details reinforce the credibility of Pullman’s universes.

The trilogy was quite a success in Britain, so that it was adapted on a BBC radio drama in 2003 and brought in a theatrical version for London’s Royal National Theatre in 2004.

A film adaptation is stated for release in December 2007 by New Line Cinema (recent producers of the Lord of the Rings movies). At the moment filming is taking place in Britain. The film will cast Nicole Kidman (Mrs Coulter) and Daniel Craig (Lord Asriel).

However, I’m a bit concerned because I have read on the website of the BBC that all references to the church and to god will be removed from the movie because of the criticism made by some members of the Christian community.
I’m anxious to see the result because I don’t really understand how it is possible to adapt a book in a movie while removing one of its central themes.
The worse in this situation is that I will have to wait until December 2007 to make up my mind about this and to go along with Lyra in her adventures once more!

Finally, here are some in his dark materials websites:

No idea for Christmas presents?

Christmas get closer and closer and we can indeed already see many illuminations in towns. Also it is just the right time for shopkeepers to have a good turnover. It means indeed that soon people will spend a lot of money to make their relatives and their friends happy.
It seems wonderful but is it really essential to celebrate Christmas? I don' t think so and I found a video which shows that. I think it can easily make someone happy. Moreover, such a gift costs only 2 minutes of your time to send it. Finally if you send such a thing to your boyfriend or to your girlfriend for Christmas, you will kill two birds with one stone because it could also be a declaration of love. Isn' t it useful?
So feel free to look at it and enjoy it! If it doesn' t please you or if you prefer something more traditional, a wide range of websites are available to send Christmas cards freely such as Merry Christmas!!!

One day in my Irish life!

Saturday, the 25th of November 2006

Dear diary,

Today I went to the Dingle peninsula with the photo society. I joined this society with many others in September when the society’s day took place. Every society had its own stand in the main lecture hall of the student centre where we could ask questions and sign up for the selected societies. Each Wednesday at 6 o’clock, the photo society holds meetings in the Geography building about a particular kind of photo (nocturne, landscape, animal and so on) and receives special guests, mainly professional photographers. Usually, each society organises trips in Ireland to visit new places and to make friends in the group. This time the leader Duncan decided to go to the Dingle peninsula, one of the most beautiful in Ireland according to the Guides Voir: Irlande (2005: 150-151). We left at 9 a.m. sharp from the Western Star which is a student pub near the university that you could compare to the beloved Petit Bitu in Namur. Around 11.30, we arrived at Dingle (An Daingean) to visit the city centre and the harbour known for its several trawlers and its peculiar occupier, the dolphin Fungie. This dolphin has its own statue in the harbour on which tourists, as we were, like to sit on to take photos. After this short visit, we went in the direction of Ventry (Ceann Trà). The coach rode along the coast on narrow and winding roads to reach a dreamlike beach bathed by bright sun. Everybody was ready with his camera to take wonderful photos because the reflection of the sun on the sea was amazing. I was wondering if I was not dreaming of a Caribbean beach with palm trees and warm water but, as soon as I had put my naked feet in the sea, I realised that I was back in the windy and cold Ireland that I knew. Then, the next stop was at Dunmore Head (Ceann an Dùin Mboir), which is the extremity of the peninsula and from which you have a beautiful view of the Blasket Islands. Even though these islands are very isolated, some crazy Irish – as I used to call them – are living there. Some miles further and in a dreadful wind, we waited for at least 30 minutes for the sun to set. My patience was rewarded because I took some incredible sunset photos with a colourful sky. Because of the wind and the long coach travel, we arrived at the hostel exhausted and were looking forward to having a good and warm supper. Unfortunately, the heating was temporarily out of order and we had to eat in a freezing dining room but this couldn’t stop us from making new acquaintances. After a short while, the atmosphere became warmer and everybody was talking about his or her own Irish experience and the new expressions we had learned. For example, I spoke about the typical Cork word “langer” (phonetically written) that means totally shattered and/or drunk. Another very important expression is the national “slàinte” that everybody says before drinking a glass of beer, usually a Guinness. The last activity of this busy day was a concert of typical Irish music. The two musicians were playing the accordion, banjo and singing old ballads. We enjoyed a pint of beer and the music until midnight and then went back to the hostel for a good night of sleep dreaming about what we would see the next day.

P.S: The italics words in brackets are the translation into Irish.
Work Cited:
Perry, T. & L. Gerard-Sharp, (2005). Guides Voir: Irlande. Paris: Hachette Tourisme.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Desperate Housewives: Just a successful soap or a cultural phenomenon?

Desperate Housewives is an american serie (created by Marc Cherry) which won the Emmy Award in 2004. This serie began in October 2004 on the American television ABC. It sets in Wisteria Lane and deals with the everyday life of five women: Teri Hatcher (Susan Mayer), Felicity Huffman (Lynette Scavo), Marcia Cross (Bree Van De Kamp), Eva Longoria (Gabrielle Solis) and Nicollette Sheridan (Edie Britt). It combines drama, comedy and soap opera. Desperate Housewives got directly to the top of series and it soon became a cultural phenomenon. Not only an american one, but also an international one! The first season ended in May 2005.

The first season has aroused much interest and has broken all viewing with 23.7 million viewers. (average total viewers per episode)
This ratings success gave rise to the second season which began in September 2005 and ended in May 2006. The average viewers per episode was almost as big as for the first season: 22.2 million viewers.
In general, series like Desperate Housewives are real flop after one or two seasons, but unlike other soaps, Desperate Housewives doesn’t stop increasing the ratings.
Of course, the salaries of the five actresses also increased! (± 250 000 dollars for one episode, but depends on the actress)

More than a successful soap opera, desperate Housewives is a real cultural phenomenon! Everybody is watching the serie, housewives would like to be as Gabrielle, or Susan,... Beside the three seasons, Marc Cherry developped a mass of various products: DVD, books, calendars, clothes, CD with the original soundtrack, ... Moreover, Buena Vista Games created the game Desperate Housewives. This game suggests you to play the role of a young woman arriving at Wisteria Lane,... The script was made by Scott Sanford Tobis who wrote the serie Desperate Housewives.

So, if you have time and you don’t know what to do, try this new game and enjoy it ;-)