Thursday, 30 April 2009

Beauty of the day

Laura del Sol

Seen: Most memorably, "Carmen" by Carlos Saura

Why I love her: She looks like a savage and like a child at the same time. She is imperfect. She is intense.

Three Smart Women

These three made me question everything I've assumed about success.

1. Friede Springer

Started out as a nanny in the household of German publisher Axel Springer. Ended up marrying him and inheriting the better pat of his business. Her fortune is currently estimated at 3,2 bn dollars. AND she is a personal friend of the current Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. Talk about SuperNanny.

2. Gloria, Princess of Thurn and Taxis, aka Princess TNT

Worked as a waitress before marrying Prince Johannes of Thurn and Taxis. To be fair, she also came from a noble, but impoverished family. Managed to piss off most of the other Thurns and Taxis with her temperamental character and flashy appearance, and most of all by successfully and independently managing Johannes' 2bn fortune after his death.

3. Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler

Currently one of the owners of the Schaeffler group, one of the world's largest producers of roller bearings. Roller bearings. Oh.
Well, roller bearings are not particularly glam, but, since Maria-Elisabeth's personal assets are estimated at almost 5 bn euros, they must sell well.
How did she get that? The born Chech met Georg Schaeffler while she was studying medicine in Wien. Married him. Georg, being 24 years her senior, died in due time and left her a load of money.
She never finished her studies, but proved herself a very capable manager.

The moral of the story: boy, I should scrap university and get a job as a nanny. For the kids of some rich, old man.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

One for Teach

First good news of the day: teacher Michael Csaszkóczy gets 33.000 Euro in damages from the German province Baden-Württemberg.

The Baden-Württemberg ministry of education prohibited him from teaching four years ago. The reason: he had been a member of the Heidelberg Anti-Fascist Organization (Antifa).

The Heidelberg Antifa are really a rather touching organization -they count as extremely leftist, but are not banned and not violent. Rumor has it they talk loud and smoke a lot of pot.

Be that as it may, Michael Csaszkóczy, though no longer a member, refused to denounce his political views in order to get a job."I'd like the kids to have a teacher who is not ashamed to look at himself in the mirror", he said.

After five lawsuits infront of four courts, the decision banning him from working as a teacher has been lifted. He has already started teaching in a small town near Heidelberg, and today, the court has also acknowledged that he is entitled to damages.

Personally, I do not share his political views, and I frankly think the organisation he belonged to is rather ridiculous. However, this guy stood up for his rights and fought a four-year court battle to be allowed to enter his chosen profession. I think he would be a good teacher. I wish I had had one teacher like him at school.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Vintage Maverickdom

Okay, this one is a true moment of maverick rage:

Wolfgang Seidel, drummer of the German blues band "Ton Steine Scherben" smashes a table during a talk shaw - live for all Germany!

What starts like a rather boring culture talk ends up in absolute anarchy - delight!

Bright Penny

Her music is pensieve, beautiful and surprisingly strong - Sage Redman is 16 and sings like a (very disillusioned) angel. Check her out here.

What Margaret Did

Margaret Haywood is 58 and had been a nurse for over twenty years - right until 16 April 2009, when the British Nurcery and Midwifery council struck her off from the nursing register over a charge of misconduct. Her crime? She had chosen to do right instead of going by the rules.

Every day, she was witness to how the elderly patients of the ward were treated. She saw they were left in pain, left lying for hours in their own urine, and, in many cases, left to die alone, unattended and unnoticed. The nurses didn't care to fulfill even basic duties like changing catheters on time, and the hospital management didn't care to discipline them. The numerous complaints from patients' relatives remained without consequence.

So, when a member of the BBC Panorama team asked Margaret Haywood for her support in exposing the conditions at the Royal Sussex Hospital, she agreed. She filmed - secretly - the staff's treatment and neglect of patients, and thus made an ongoing injustice known.

The Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust admitted to "institutional cruelty" and issued a lengthy apology. It was clear that someone had to be punished for what had happened.

But not the nurses guilty of the filmed occurences, nor the hospital management that let them pass unsanctioned. Nor, God forbid, the hospital director. The only one punished was Margaret Haywood herself. The only one found guilty of disrespecting the standards of her profession was the whistleblower.

This is, of course, perversely logical. What the Nurcery Council obviously expected from her was to go by the rules, even if that meant disregarding common ethics and care duties.

Margaret Haywood was made a victim of a painful contradiction between what is right and what is permitted. This contradiction is not inherent to the notion of rules; it would have been up to the Nurcery Council to treat this courageous individual according to the spirit and not only the letter of professional law.

Please click here to sign the Margaret Haywood petition.