Did you ever hear anything so ridiculous?

The British government wants to offer the chance to all school children to learn Mandarin and Arabic:

The schools secretary, Ed Balls, said UK plc increasingly needed children to learn the languages of countries where Britain had “very important business contacts”.

All secondary schools should offer lessons in Mandarin, he said, citing a poll in which bosses rated the language the most useful for their employees to speak after French and German.

The government also wants Mandarin and Arabic lessons made available to primary school pupils.

That sounds fine until you realise that today British children can’t even choose between German, French and Spanish. The school our nephew and nieces went to didn’t give them a choice about which language they would learn – there weren’t enough teachers with language skills to allow all foreign languages to be taught in each school year. So the one had to learn German, the next Spanish and the youngest French. No choice allowed.

So where are the teachers for Mandarin and Arabic?

I’m glad they grit the roads here ;-)

Paignton is on the south coast of England in Devon. Comment from the original poster on YouTube two days ago:

A removal truck had been blocking the road outside our house for 3 hours and the drivers boss had just turned up, when they started the ignition it looked like they were going to try and move the truck, that’s what we were filming.

We had no idea that the car would appear from our right. The driver was warned how bad the roads were by their neighbour. There were probably 6-7 people on the pavements (2 were shown) but the driver was pretty insistent on getting to work.

Ein heißer Ritt

Spiegel Online berichtet: Experten vom Wissenschaftsmuseum Phaeno in Wolfsburg haben überprüft, ob der dicke Mann auf dem Schlitten es überhaupt schaffen kann, Millionen braver Kinder am Heiligen Abend mit Geschenken zu versorgen.

Hier das Ergebnis.

… und sonst? Ein frohes Fest, happy Christmas und feliz Navidad!

How observant are you?

Watch the video first. Just one viewing, please. Hit pause when the question appears, before you watch the rest. You will be asked how many changes you noticed, so pay attention!

What was your score? Mine was 2, which is pretty unobservant, I think 🙁

Successful German Discounters

Wal-Mart gave up trying to compete in Germany in 2006, unable to compete effectively against Aldi and Lidl.

Nonetheless, I was surprised to read in the latest Harvard Business Review (link to a summary of the article), that six German “hard discounters” (their term for discounters like Aldi and Lidl) are in the top ten global players. Between them, these six make $178,6 billion annual revenue out of the $220,2 billion that the top ten make between them. That is pretty impressive.

Read more Successful German Discounters

Do as I say, not as I do!

Given the effort the music industry puts into chasing file downloaders for lost revenue, you would think that they would be punctilious about setting a good example to their customers. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The Canadian Recording Industry Association is currently being sued for not paying copyright on some 300 000 songs, which is expected to represent to total short-payment of around $6 billion.

It appears that the music industry believes that devoting effort to making these payments would be “an unproductive use of their time”:

David Basskin, the President and CEO of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd., notes in his affidavit that “the record labels have devoted insufficient resources to identifying and paying the owners of musical works on the Pending Lists.” Basskin adds that some labels believe addressing the issue would be “an unproductive use of their time.”

I must admit that I find their logic impeccable – why invest your money keeping track of who you owe it to, if you can avoid paying them?

I imagine internet music file-sharers might feel that paying for downloads or going to the shops is equally an unproductive use of their time.

Fourteen days to seal history’s judgment on this generation

The Copenhagen Climate Summit starts tommorow. One editorial, with a stark message, will appear in 56 newspapers in 45 countries tomorrow:

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone…

Read the full text here.

Apple Packaging

Apple-FRAThe Apple Store yesterday in Frankfurt’s Fressgass’
If you have ever bought an Apple product, you know their packaging is usually exquisite. Well, the same applies to their stores before they open. The Frankfurt store pictured above opens at the beginning of January, and work is still going on inside. However, the logo is already installed, and the whole shop front is covered in black foil to keep our prying eyes from seeing the preparations.