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In the Czech News


Radio Praha's Web site carried a lot of pleasant Saturday morning news.

My usual favorite, the "Magazine" section by Daniela Lazarova, was full of strange stuff:
  • A "well-known exhibitionist" in a kilt climbed to the top of the St. Wenceslas statue on Wenceslas Square (that must've been cold).
  • Stinky ducks fell off a truck in Plzen. Although one was hit by a car, the others seem to have escaped the butcher (for now).
  • Swedish television broadcast a Czech porn film (how appropriate that the wealthy country broadcasts cheap porn "by mistake").
  • And, best of all, "push-up underpants" hit the Czech men's fashion markets. There's probably another name for these in English, but that's the translation they used. I don't know why this is news—it seems more like a press release from a sex shop (check the URL below the picture, which is the name of a Republic-wide chain of erotic shops)—but it is funny. I'm guessing such a product won't have a huge market here. As the blurb has it, this is probably a product for the "body-conscious." From what I see on the street every day, generally people in Brno are not incredibly concerned about how they look (at least clotheswise). They may be more concerned what they think other people think they see underneath their clothes, but suggests that people are noticing one another on the street, which is not always the case; more often, one senses a consistent avoidance of looking at other people on the street. (Obviously, this product is for more special occassions.) But even if there is a large enough "body-conscious" market, the price tag seems prohibitive: at 1,200 crowns (now almost 60 dollars), not many Czechs I know would spring for a pair. Maybe when they turn up in the second-hand shops they'll gain wider distribution (ewww).

In "Current Affairs," Pavla Horakova writes about the IAU vote about Pluto's planet status. If you're rewriting a textbook, I've offered a few new mnemonics of my own. But don't rewrite too soon, a subsequent BBC report quotes a few of disgruntled bigwig astronomers who didn't vote at the Prague meeting. I'm inclined to say that they should've went to Prague and voted if they had such strong feelings, but this may not be the end of the saga—"Pluto: Planet or Dwarf Planet?" could keep us entertained for a while.

Finally, there was even something about Brno! From Ilya Marritz, a nice profile of Masaryk University's Summer School of Slavic Studies. The summer program is basically a Czech language course. The program has a 39-year tradition! (Language-wise, you may note that the English version of Masaryk's "Department of Czech for Foreigners" Web site could use more than bit of polishing. Now, I know that they teach Czech, but when I am going to a place to polish my language skills and expect training at a high level, I don't think it's too much to expect a good translation of their Web site, regardless of which language they are translating into.) As an alumnus of the Brno program as well as similar programs in other cities, I can confirm that the Brno program is certainly one of the best Czech summer programs out there as far as intensity, academic rigor, and results are concerned. Yet, I don't know whether I'd choose the program again or not.


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