Wednesday, 25 January 2012 05:00

Good Reads 25/01/12

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Each week, two E&M editors share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.

Lucy, Heart Editor


England’s secret weapon against those pesky Scots

In the UK, everyone's up in arms about Scotland's referendum on independence - and German friends have been asking me anxiously, "Would they still be ruled by the Queen if they left the UK?" (Don’t worry, apparently they probably would.) But never fear, Jolly England has one weapon we can count on: "Her Majesty’s Daily Telegraph," according to satirical magazine The Daily Mash. It reports that The Telegraph has been bravely pouring doom and gloom on Scotland's plans for a referendum. The debate highlights England's confusion: we all despise Scotland, right? But we definitely don't want it to leave our Union and become Scandinavian or, heaven forbid, European!

Seriously? But forced sterilisation is thing of the past... right?!

Before I read this article, I didn't think there was any EU country where people could be forcibly sterilised. But no: it turns out that if you're transsexual or transgender, the European Convention on Human Rights doesn’t necessarily apply to you. In Sweden, people who want to change their legal gender are required to be sterilised - and apparently, other countries such as France and Denmark have similar laws. Sweden just got the chance to change this, but rather than bringing the law up to date, the Swedish government has left it as it is - and this petition gives you the chance to disagree. LGBT rights organisation All Out is aiming to get 50 000 signatures - and at the time of writing, they are very nearly there!

Where beer is brewed, they have it good. Or not.

This week I was excited to find this post about a rare treasure: a samizdat recording of Václav Havel's play Audience. Havel died on the 18th of December 2011 after an impressive triple career as a playwright, a philosopher and a politician. In Audience, the main character is a political dissident forced to work at a brewery - just like the author himself. The post also links to an English version of Havel's 1975 letter to Gustáv Husák, President of Czechslovakia, urging him not to take "the path of inner decay for the sake of outward appearances; of deadening life for the sake of increasing uniformity." The Czech saying "Where beer is brewed, they have it good," which is written on the wall in Audience, can be seen in the light of that letter: in fact, just because we're all getting on with everyday things, doesn't mean we're living in a good society. Even if Czech beer is delicious.


Last modified on Wednesday, 25 January 2012 07:53

If the Editorial team had an actual office it would have to stretch from the corner of Britain to the edges of Spain, Sweden, Germany and beyond. (With frequent trips to America too) .  The term 'from the editorial office' then, is very much a figure of speech. 

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