Tag Archives: society

Suspended coffee or caffè sospeso

coffee suspendu

Have you heard of the ‘suspended coffee‘ or ‘le café suspendu‘ as they say in french (or caffé sospeso in italian where it originally comes from)?

It’s a solidary concept, a warm anonymous act of charity. The idea is simple: you order and pay two coffees but drink only one of them. The other one you leave for somebody who can not afford it. So if later during the day somebody stranded enters the bar and asks if there’s a coffee suspended he can get served the prepaid coffee.
It’s an italian tradition that exports into the whole world.

Great, right? And so simple.

The tradition of the caffè sospeso began in the working-class cafés of Naples, where someone who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso, paying the price of two coffees but receiving and consuming only one. A poor person enquiring later whether there was a sospeso available would then be served a coffee for free.’

Sometimes it doesn’t have to be much, right? So go and get yourself a coffee, make it two.


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Regrets towards the end of our life


A palliative nurse from Australia who was accompanying the dying during their last days recorded their most common regrets they had towards the end of their lives. ‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’ andI wish I hadn’t worked so hard‘ was what most of the people regretted, men in particular. Those were two of the top five regrets of dying people .
Followed by I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings,
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends  and
I wish that I had let myself be happier.

After many years of work as a palliative nurse Bronnie Ware has published now a book inspired and based on her experience she has lived with her patients. Ware has worked in a bank until the end of her twenties, before becoming a palliative nurse. Today she’s a singer and songwriter. She knows mow that she has to live her life the way she wants it to.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose conciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.’

I must admit, I often think of that moment when you’ll look back on your life.. What will I be thinking? I try to live every day as if it would be the last one (or least – I remind myself very often to do so) And I must admit I cannot really relate to those top five. I can say for sure that I have no regrets concerning my family life, the choices I’ve made, the opportunities I’ve seized, the risks I’ve taken.. I couldn’t imagine being happier.
But I admit that I have doubts concerning my working life. I fear that one day I might look back at my life and think that I’ve not lived my passion, that I have not found what was ment for me and have wasted my live doing a job that wasn’t really mine.  I truly believe what they say, that we all have a talent given to us (or two  or three..) and that the purpose of our lives is to find and foster it. I like being an architect but somehow.. I just don’t feel that I’m doing the right kind of job.. right kind of architecture. You know that feeling when you ask yourself  ‘what am I doing here?’ At least that’s how I feel at the moment. Em always tells me that I have to be patient, the right moment and the right opportunity will come – I hope so.
What about you?

Bronnie Ware also has a blog

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Our beaches are disappearing as we are running short of…sand!!


Have you heard of the new ecological time bomb? Everybody knows of the diminishing reserves of drinking water that we are heading for but have you heard that we are also running out of sand? It’s not a joke..and not many people seem to care. I’ve never heard of it before I’ve seen this incredibly breathtaking documentary realised by award-winning documentary filmmaker Denis Delestrac.

Our beaches are about to vanish -9 out of 10 beaches in the world are concerned and the impact on our environment is enormous.
The reasons are many. Sand is the third most used resource after water and air. The construction of streets and buildings:  2/3 of our constructions are made out of concrete (concrete consists 2/3 out of sand: a house means about 200 tons of sand!)
Somebody had the great idea -and others are following- to create artificial islands which on the other hand caused the disappearance of over 15 islands in the indian ocean already.
It gets to the point that Sand is even STOLEN clandestinely from the beaches today! There is something like a veritable ‘sand mafia‘ nowadays that is doing a lot of damage, strikes terror and doesn’t even flinch back from killing. With their connections to high positioned politicians they are very often left alone.

If sand is taken from the beaches or from the grounds of rivers or seas so massively like it is at the moment, it has an enormous effect on the whole ecosystem. A demonstrative example was the cyclone Sandy last year. Beaches serve as natural barriers. If they’re diminished to a high point or disappear completely the results can be flooding of cities that are close to the sea like New York. The diminishing of beaches and dunes aggravates the impact of every storm in coastal urbanised area.

Our construction habits have to change. On the highway you’re literally rolling over some of the most beautiful beaches without even knowing it. It’s crazy!
Another reason is the inconsiderate way of how and where we construct – way too close to the water. Which doesn’t leave the beaches the space they ‘need’.
Needless to think all the sand in the Sahara will release us – it’s useless, its consistence is unfit, too fine – at least for construction.

There is a big problem of collective non-awareness of the emergency as sand is still not regarded as a resource in danger. No alternatives to sand are sought (and alternatives exist) as nothing is as cheap as sand – which is basically for free – only labor has to be paid.  But just like water and air it is regarded as unlimited and everyone’s property.

So basically if we don’t watch out our grand children might not know beaches anymore like we did. This only talking about beaches, but the effects on our entire ecosystem will be disastrous.

See the movie on arte (german version)
see also sand mining

… suddenly The day after tomorrow doesn’t seem so surreal anymore

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They say a picture is worth more than a thousand words

Kevin Carter

This one definitely is.
It’s been hunting me since a couple of days since it came up at dinner the other night and it left me so…so shocked and mute and so so sad that I had to share.
You probably know it. It was taken 1994 by Kevin Carter and got him the Pulitzer Price..and a lot of critique. It depicts the famine in Sudan showing a little girl struggling on her way towards a foodcamp of the United Nations and the vulture waiting behind her… It’s so heart wrenching that it moves me to tears every time I look at it. Our world is so unjust!
I know that the picture caused a lot of controversy so I’m not going to debate about Carters attitude when he took it, because it’s is not clear, nobody seems to know for sure how he really behaved at the given moment. The statements are contradictory. I know it’s hard to imagine to witness a situation like this and decide to take his camera and shoot a picture – after all ‘it’s his job’, one would say and this picture was maybe a wake-up-call for millions of unknowing people like us – ‘There’s a limit’ others would say. ‘Did he do anything to help?’… What is the right position here? It’s hard.. But I do hope he didn’t just stay deedless, inactive in the face of such unbearable misery and did something to help this poor little girl.
Three months later Carter committed suicide, he was suffering depression.

Fact is, this is reality in our today’s world and it’s heartbreaking. The United Nations reports that about 19,000 children die every day around the world! Every day!
Every time I see anything like this I want to pack my stuff, leave my place, fly to the other side of the planet and do something to help, do something that matters, do something to feel less guilty that my life is so good.. and then I never go, never leave this comfortable live. Maybe I would if I was 10 years younger, if I wouldn’t have a child to care for on my own, if…
But I marvel at all the people who do with the utmost respect and admiration, the people who leave their ‘normal’ lives to help others in the most altruistic way. And were some of them maybe moved and affected in their decision by a picture like Carters’?

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Know thyself. Would you have your genetic code cracked.. your genome sequenced..?

.. and know ‘everything’ about you?


The other night I watched this really fascinating but also kind of scary documentary about our genetic code and how easily it can be deciphered nowadays. You can contact one of the numerous companies that offer this service today for an affordable price. They don’t sequence your whole DNA (6 000 000 000 chemical letters) which would really be expensive but some 1 000 000 letters out of the six billion. It’s called genotyping.
But the decoding of your whole DNA could be affordable for every one in a couple of years for less than 1000 $! Just for the record: The first decoding of a DNA took about 13 years and 3 billion$ – crazy how fast science advances, isn’t it?!)

On the basis of this decoding you can get plenty information, amongst others about the diseases you carry, the diseases that you might pass on to your children, the chances to suffer from this diseases.. How weird would it be to know all that?! And then knowing without really knowing because it’s still a probability, even if it says 90%, there is still a 10% chance that you might not get it. It would drive me crazy.
But it can also help and give the explanation for health issues somebody suffers already and whose causes are difficult to be found and thus indicate a treatment. They call this personalised medicine which is based on your own genetic code. They decipher your genetic code looking for something ‘foul’, something that diverges from the usual ‘writing’, (as 99% of human genomes are identical) an error that causes a mutation of a gene. But even if the error can be found, there is not always a solution, a remedy.
You could find out about your predospositions, your biggest risks and prevent the illness from even breaking out -if possible. But what if you can’t? What if you find out that there is a 80% chance for you to get x (or your partner, or somebody else in your family..) – your whole life might change -and what if there’s no remedy for x? Would you want to know?

I’m not sure we are ready yet to bear all those information. Some of us might be but a lot of us are certainly not – in a scientific and psychological matter spoken. It’s difficult to exploit those information in the right way. It is quite heavy material and I think it can really lead to an ethic dilemma – and I’m not even talking about all the dangers for your privacy vis-à-vis your employer, your insurance company, society..

I think it’s ok to use this method for the sick or those who are exposed to a high risk of heredity transmission of a severe illness but doing it out of pure curiosity….

for those who speak germanthe documentary
and a related article The burden of knowing

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How Talking to your baby increases his IQ


..or The Power of talking to your baby.
They always tell you how important it is to talk to your baby from the first days on, during his first months in your belly already. For several reason. And I’m a big believer in this. I’m sure he or she can hear you and even though he/she might not understand your words, the tone of your voice is the message.
And then once they’re born, even though they’re still little babies I’m sure they understand what you tell them so I always try to explain everything to Maxou.
But this article by TINA ROSENBERG brings it even to another level.

Apparently “…the key to early learning is talking. Specifically, a child’s exposure to language spoken by parents and caretakers from birth to age 3, the more the better.” …”Children whose families were on welfare heard about 600 words per hour. Working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, and children from professional families heard 2,100 words.”… “And the disparity mattered: the greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help, it was detrimental.”

Wow, so talk talk talk!

via A cup of Jo

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About adoption…


The other day while I was looking through a book about kids education I read something about babies and little children at children’s homes and it made my heart swell when I thought of all those little beings alone in their bassinets waiting for their mum or dad to come and take them in their arms when they wake up and cry..but nobody would come to cuddle them and whisper tender words in their little ears.

Then in the evening when I was talking to Em about it we ended up talking about the discussion of gay marriage and adoption – it’s in the news almost every day as the law which was approved by France’s National Assembly is to pass before the senate now. It’s quite an intense debate in France right now.
One of my best friends is gay and though I have never questioned same-sex marriage I admit that I had some doubts about the adoption-question. I keep asking myself: How could two men raise a little girl? And by ‘how’ I mean really how? How will they know about all that girl stuff that women know so well?.. that complicity between girls, questions that only your mother can answer…etc.
And there Emmanuel had a point. I must say he’s probably the most tolerant and most not judgemental, ‘live-and-let-live’ person I know. ‘Just how am I raising our son? And how is a father raising his daughter if he looses his wife?’ And then, I know it sounds cheesy but it’s so true: in the end all that matters is love. So all those lonely forgotten children in the children’s homes aren’t they ‘still’ better off with two dads or two mums who love them and who love each other and care for them then nothing of that but their loneliness?
It’s difficult to come up with an argument against that, right?

I don’t want this to be a political post – it’s only such a hotly discussed matter (battle, I would almost say) right now that I think people lose sight of what it’s really about.

Picture above from temp★files

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