Saturday, March 24, 2018

News coverage of Bridget Breiner being named new director of the Karlsruhe Ballet company

An interview with Baden TV. Bridget makes gracious comments about her predecessor as well as the big opportunities and the big challenges she has.

The interview with Bridget starts at 3:45.
The woman on the left is the new director of the city's opera company and she talks about "women power" since the incoming directors of several arts organizations are women. This interview was with Baden TV.  In this interview Bridget talks a bit about how she likes to mix classical and modern techniques and styles of dance in her choreography. The interview with Bridget starts at 3:45 in this video

Metropol News
Bridget with Birgit Keil, whom she is replacing.

Interview with Bridget.  Here is the Google Translation

KARLSRUHE - Bridget Breiner, currently ballet director in Gelsenkirchen, succeeds Professor Birgit Keil and will take over the direction of the STAATSBALLET KARLSRUHE beginning in the season 2019/20. She will continue the line of classical ballet, combined with her own artistic style and the promotion of aspiring choreographers.

"It is a great honor for me to succeed Birgit Keil. I love working with a company and look forward to choreographing myself, "says Breiner.  

General Manager Peter Spuhler is proud to announce that an internationally acclaimed dancer and award-winning choreographer is coming to Karlsruhe: "With Bridget Breiner, we are getting a new ballet director who will continue Birgit Keil's career in Karlsruhe and redesign it with her own personality." Karlsruhe ballet director Brigit Keil attended the press conference.Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Württemberg, was particularly pleased that Bridget Breiner, who danced for many years as the first soloist for the Stuttgart Ballet, is now back in the Baden-region. She called it "the return of a great artist to the Baden-Württemberg region."

Friday, March 23, 2018

20 years ago, he predicted Brexit, Twitter, and Trump

For the last few years, the name Manuel Castells kept popping up in things I read about digital media, social networks, and mass communications. He is a Spanish sociologist who spent much of his career at UC Berkeley.

Last year I began reading his "The Rise of the Network Society," the first of three volumes in a series "The Information Age." He wrote them two decades ago, but he seems to have predicted many of the trends we are living through now.

The free flow of money, information, and power through global networks means those networks, not nations, are the source of power, he wrote. Institutions, societies, and ethnic groups with rigid structures that cannot take advantage of these flows will be left behind.

He wrote a new preface for the 2010 edition, before the Arab Spring, before the Syrian civil war, before Brexit, before Trump. He pointed out that structural changes were taking place in society because large sections of the world's population were being excluded from the global networks that accumulate knowledge and wealth.

Highly educated elites from financial and technological centers were profiting from the flow of money and power, while the rest of the world was being left behind.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fond memories from 2001, visit to Bundenthal

Point B on the map is Bundenthal, about 1 hour by car west of Karlsruhe, where Bridget is going to be the new dance company director, as announced in the press
Brother Tim and I went to Bundenthal, Germany, in 2001 to see the home town where our great-grandfather, Mathew or Mathaeus Breiner, was born 7 April 1851. He and his wife, Magdalena (born 1855, family name Deis), and two sons, Peter and Frederick, arrived in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1885. Our grandfather, Ferdinand, and older brother, Matthew, were born in New York. Their German roots were something of a mystery among us because our grandfather never talked much about that part of his life--his first 16 years in Brooklyn and his immigrant parents.

In Bundenthal, he was a hufschmied, or farrier, someone who made shoes for horses. We met several people named Breiner and visited a cemetery. Here are some photos from that visit.

At Zur Krone guest house in Bundenthal: Tim Breiner, right, with Ulrike and Klaus Lutz, and their son, 2001.
Tim Breiner, widow of Theo Breiner, and Jim Breiner at Zur Krone
Jim, above, with Roland Breiner in Dahn, Germany, and below, with the regulars at Zur Krone
Jim, left, and Tim, with Helmut Breiner in Dahn, Germany
Bundenthal is a small place, around 1,100 people.
Bundenthal used to be a farming town at one time. It is located in the heart of one of Germany's most important wine growing regions and near a big national forest. It's rural. Now it is a bedroom community for cities like Pirmasens and Saarbrucken.

On the main street.

Sts. Peter and Paul Church, where our greatgrandparents were married, 23 Feb. 1876.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Italian chefs are appalled at Spanish eating habits

"We're eating pizza all wrong," says the headline. Many of the toppings used in Spain are American style, not authentically Italian, say the aggrieved Italian chefs.
Italians have food rules. Let there be no mistake. And an article in a supplement to El Pais, called Buena Vida, or Good Life, in today's paper laid out the grievances of Italian chefs about their neighbors in Spain (here is the digital version of the supplement, but the article itself was not available online.)

Among the food atrocities:
  • Never use a spoon to eat pasta. That's only for children. Adults and anyone older than 6 should use a fork, the only proper instrument for eating pasta in a civilized manner.
  • Never cut up spaghetti before cooking it. And don't put in oil while cooking pasta. "I don't know why they do it," said Ilenia Cappai, owner of an Italian restaurant in Madrid. "It doesn't add anything." 
  • Don't serve the sauce separately from the pasta; they belong together. And, please, don't serve spaghetti with salsa bolognesa--the only proper pasta for that sauce is tagliatelle, says Cappai.
  • Also, we don't like your ham and olive oil, says Enrica Barni, another chef. Italian olive oil is the green product of a cold pressing. And Italian ham, prosciutto, comes from a much larger white pig than Spaniards use for their Iberian style. 
  • Spaniards use salt and pepper on their food before even tasting it, says Davide Bonato, chef at Gioia restaurant. An uncivilized practice. "They destroy the flavor of a dish." 
  • Spaniards eat bread with everything, too much bread. "Yesterday some clients ordered bread with their pizza," Bonato said, astonished. "Of course, I gave it to them, but . . . " 
  • Soft drinks are banned at a civilized Italian table. You drink only wine or water. Drinking Coca Cola at your grandmother's dinner table would be an insult, said Luca Gatti. 
  • At formal dinners in Italy, you never sit next to your spouse. The idea is to have others get to know your partner.
  • A pizza is for one person, never for sharing.
  • And at the end of the meal, the only acceptable form of coffee to have is an espresso, never a capuccino or cafe con leche--those are for breakfast. 
You have been warned. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

My experience with the public health system in Spain

The issue of how to pay for health care is on everyone's minds these days, and there are arguments of various kinds on all sides. My aim is to describe here what it feels like to be in a public health system--one in which the government is the ultimate provider.

First, what you pay for health care

Public health care is paid out of tax income, and taxes are higher in Spain than the U.S. The U.S. is a relatively low-tax country: taxes represent 26% of GDP, while in Spain they are 34%. This includes all national and local taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes.

Since I am a full-time employee of the University of Navarra in Spain, I pay income tax and social security to the Spanish government, which comes to 24% of gross income (tax details here). My tax rate is slightly higher than normal because I am a foreigner. I pay no tax on this income in the U.S.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Bad, bad Jimmy Brown

I wrote this column when I was editor of Business First of Columbus, almost 30 years ago, and it seemed to have some relevance today in light of controversies about the NFL.

Oct. 9, 1989
    Jim Brown’s first book, “Off My Chest,” arrived under the Christmas tree 25 years ago [Note: the book was published in 1964].  For a 13-year-old fan of the Cleveland Browns, the book was a revelation.  The Jim Brown who carried the football for the Browns, and who said little in public that was controversial, suddenly showed himself to be an opinionated, angry person.
     He was angry at Paul Brown, the coach who he felt treated him like a trained beast.  He was angry at the coaching staff at Syracuse University that took so long to give him a chance to prove himself.  He was angry at the white world that treated him as an outsider and an inferior.  At the same time, Jim Brown showed himself in that book to be extremely grateful and loyal to the teachers, coaches and friends who helped shape his life and steer him toward improving himself in school.  There were almost two personalities at work.
     So it was with some anticipation that I waited to meet this boyhood hero who was in town to promote his new book, “Out of Bounds.”
     The blurb writers have pulled the most salacious and outrageous material out of the new book to hype it.  Brown’s life since retiring from football at age 29, a game in which he set records that only recently have been surpassed, offers plenty of outrageous and salacious material.  He was accused of throwing a woman off a balcony during a quarrel.  (He says she jumped).  He has hosted parties in his Hollywood home where the women pranced around naked.  He has cultivated a public persona that is arrogant and intimidating.  He has boasted of amorous conquests of the starlets who appeared with him in movies.  Was this guy who was once my hero really a jerk?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Big honkin' trucks. America's got 'em

PAMPLONA, Spain -- We just returned to Spain after two months in the U.S., and nothing impressed me more than the size of the popular pickup trucks, like this one, the Ford F-150.

The Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle sold in the U.S.

This is one big truck for tough guys who like to work hard. It has "military-grade aluminum alloy", according to the ads. But don't let anyone kid you.  

This truck is also for soccer dads and soccer moms, because right after telling you how tough it is, the ads tell you that it's the safest ever. Chevrolet's competing model the Colorado is advertised as "tough" for the dads and "refined" for the moms. Brilliant marketing.

The Ford F-150 has been the top selling vehicle in the U.S. for more than 30 years.

In my unscientific, completely random, totally unreliable survey of what I thought I was seeing in the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and (mostly) Ohio and Michigan was that folks use these crew-cab pickups to commute to work, run errands, shuttle kids, and haul big toys like all-terrain vehicles (3,270-pound payload for the F-150).

All the manufacturers make their biggest profit margins on trucks and SUVs. This is because buyers' emotions take over. Ford reported that its record profits earlier this year were due to aggressively pricing their trucks.    

When logic goes out the window, salespeople can charge more. Mr. Money Moustache, the original cheapskate, has a very funny take on the whole business of Americans buying trucks.