There are some positive ways of fighting the effects of aging: exercise is foremost amongst them. And then there is the Hourei Lift Bra, also known as the "face bra". You wear it across your face to prevent wrinkles and undertake disturbing mouth exercises. The name is based on marketing since the device could be used by a man or a woman if they were so inclined to wear this monstrosity.
#fail for rejuvenation but the credulous will pay for the privilege.
It was a first for me: the first opera I have ever seen: Elektra at the Royal Opera House. And of note, the first 'twitter' opera will be performed in Riga on October 18th (dramatising the disagreement between Paul Krugman, the economist and President Toomas Hendrik of Estonia).
Elektra is supposed to be a more complex opera for anyone starting than better loved pieces in the repertoire. I did not notice. Nevertheless, I found John Crace's article a good read and wholeheartedly agree with his finding:
At the very least I'd get my money's worth by sneering. But within 20 minutes of the opening notes I was won over. Here was art at its most sublime: an overwhelming combination of music, drama and poetry.
A review of Elektra is here (and agree on the distracting Fifth Maid rolling about the stage: would the ambulance never arrive?). Better line up the ballet now.
The Francophone government in Quebec adopts similar attitudes to its European counterpart in regards to cultural insecurity. Afraid to embrace the world, they erect walls to ensure that their language is unchallenged. The latest example is the Quebecois decision to reverse English immersion classes at lower grades to avoid bilingualism. The Quebec Education Minister, rejecting the spirit of Cnut, declared by her personal fiat, that measures to promote bilingual education should be watered down. In a typical hoof up the pitch, to justify further dilution of English lessons, a report has been commissioned on the impact that English lessons may have in other subjects (it writes itself, I am sure: to be avoided as students may substitute Anglophone for Francophone phrases).
Language education, like arts training, correlates with positives: faster and more flexible positives, a healthier disposition in old age and can even overcome the effects of poverty. This is a healthy basis for other advanced subjects and propels foreign language immersion into the primary school curriculum.
I may highlight the politically motivated idiocy of the Quebecois Education Minister but dare I point out the negative failings of our curriculum in England. Monolingual teaching is promoted and the meritocratic advantages of bilingualism are omitted. Maybe I should learn a foreign language?
Eurostat have published the latest figures on the penetration of English as a foreign language throughout the European Union. Euractiv describes English as the new 'lingua franca' in a nod to its eighteenth century elitist predecessor. However, whereas French was the language of diplomacy and literature then; English is the language of business and science now. Its utility outweighs any competitors such as French, German, Spanish or Russian.
Almost astonishing is that English as a foreign language is now taught at primary level throughout almost every country. Outliers such as Hungary, Bulgaria or Portugal have their local reasons for not shifting in this direction, though the causes are not clear.
It is hard to see this dominance reversing any time soon even if, or especially if Britain leaves. Parallels with India may apply. Better an alien language that does not favour any particular country and protects the small ones.
Given the lunatics, I am sure that they will no doubt adopt Esperanto or Latin at some point.