Archive for the ‘France’ Category

The Icarian Dream of Flight Which Makes Daedalus Proud

October 1, 2008

Unlike Icarus who had his wings melted for coming too close to Helios (sun,), plunging him to his death at sea, Switzerland’s Yves Rossy flew like a proud visitor from space, making us feel the ill-fated son of Daedalus in his escape from Crete, didn’t “drown” after all in the open waters.

The daring modern flier glided high and soared in the air to simulate sparrows and seagulls in flight— a symbolic return of Icarus and his proverbial wings. The state-of-the-art jet-propelled contraption was more sophisticated than the ruffled feathers welded on Icarus’ arms by his father and the flying machines conceived by Leonardo Da Vince in his drawings. Rossy was successful in traveling over hills and plains, a 22-mile flight from Calais, France to Dover England on September 25, 2005. Photo Credit: AP;AnjaNiedringhaus=0=

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus
by Peter Breugehl (1558)

A Mozart tune that could again make Salieri red with envy

September 20, 2008

Rest in peace! Uncovered by dust
Eternity shall bloom for you.
Rest in peace! In eternal harmonies
Your spirit now is dissolved.
He expressed himself in enchanting notes,
Now he is floating to everlasting beauty.

– Joseph Weigl, paying tribute to Antonio Salieri, his mentor

For those who believe that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was poisoned by Antonio Salieri, who was rumored (but not proven) to have killed the musical genius out of professional envy, the discovery of a handwritten draft in a French library would incite more of the same treacherous emotion if Salieri were alive.

A forgotten page found and reported by a researcher in Nantes, France, the 18th century melody sketch whose tune is complete is among 10 of Mozart’s works discovered in the last 50 years. Though without orchestration, the valuable page, if sold in auction, may sell to about $100,000. It was examined and authenticated by a reputable autograph hunter-expert Aloys Fuchs in Vienna in August 18, 1839. /AP (09/17/08) Photo Credit: AP/David Vincent)

Prodigious and highly talented, Mozart was the subject of the movie Amadeus in 1984 whose plot centered on his deadly collaboration with Salieri. The latter was mad with God for giving Mozart the musical virtuosity that rightfully was his own.

An undoubtedly respected composer of his own right Salieri who counted Schubert, Liszt, Beethoven, and Czerny as his students, deviously sought Mozart to compose Requiem, the song of the dead he intended for Mozart’s own passing. He thought he could own up on the authorship of the composition upon the great composer’s death in 1791. In the movie, Salieri was portrayed as a hapless deranged man anguished in an asylum confessing his crime. =0=

The ageing population & the challenges ahead

September 13, 2008

After rising four-fold in 2006, the number of 100-year olds in Japan rose again from 28,395 to 36,276 (21.8%) at the end of September 2008. This increasing trend of centenarians, 86% of which are women, is a worldwide reflection of longer life expectancy attributable to improvements in health care, diet, exercise, and lifestyle. To date, the world’s known oldest person is Edna Parker, 115 years old who lives inn a nursing home in Indiana, USA.

274,000 American Centenarians by Year 2025

The number of centenarians — people who are 100 years or older — in the United States has grown 60% since 1990, to about 61,000 people, and will continue to increase in coming decades, according to the Census Bureau. In another 10 years, the number will more than double to over 130,000 people, and it’s expected to double yet again to 274,000 in 2025.”—Healthy Aging Center (WebMD)


Number of Doctors per Capita by Countries

Countries/ Doctor Nos./ (Doctor numbers per 1000 )
Europe (Advanced countries)
Belgium 46,268 (4.49)
Denmark 15,653 (2.93)
Finland 16,446 (3.16)
France 203,487 (3.37)
Germany 277,885 (3.37)
Ireland 11,141 (2.79)
Italy 241,000 (4.2)
Netherlands 50,854 (3.15)
Norway 14,200 (3.13)
Sweden 29,122 (3.28)
UK 133,641 (2.3)

North America
USA 730,801 (2.56)
Canada 66,583 (2.14)

Oceania-Asia PacificAustralia 47,875 (2.47)
NZ 9,027 (2.37)
Japan 251,889 (1.98)
S Korea 75,045 (1.57)
Malaysia 16,146 (0.7)
Philippines 44,287 (0.58)
NB: the doctor figures from different countries may be from different years- as reported to WHO. (Source:

The decrease of birthrates in many industrialized countries and rising longevity, worry economic planners who foresee greater strain in health care and the social security system (SSS.) Demographers observe that more people marry late, want few or no children, and more are likely to devote greater time for their careers, finances, and preferred lifestyles. With expanding elderly population, more people will need doctor services and greater health care in the future.

The above is also true in the United States with the graying of the baby boomers and the rise of retirees. With a per capita expenditure of $5,711 (followed by France with $3,048,) there are about 46 million Americans without medical insurance coverage. Of these, about 11 million are illegal aliens, 15 million are eligible for state-sponsored Medicaid, but don’t apply, 15 million adults with children eligible for free insurance and 10 million childless adults. The number of medically uninsured Americans is about half the total population of the Philippines, a country also trying to fix its healthcare system.(Photo Credit: Koroko1; highschoolphotojournalist/bythekevichang)=0=


"Merci" Goes a Long Way in Paris

June 17, 2008

At boarding time in New York’s JFK airport, they called an airport assistant to push me on a wheelchair right at the plane’s door. To avoid explaining my physical disability, I brandished a steel cane which was earlier cleared of explosives by the Homeland Security.

I wasn’t too old to strut with that walking stick, but without it, people wouldn’t believe I wasn’t in good health. My pallor, a result of long-standing severe anemia, was deceptively masked by my dark skin.

I was the first to board the plane. The crew members of Air France escorted me to my seat close to the aisle, a spot I chose so I could stretch my legs and walk in-flight to avoid blood clots in my legs during a six-hour transatlantic trip. They spoke French, but I insisted on English to which they cordially responded in a heavy accent.

On my arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I had Benoit Geiger, a Frenchman and his Filipina wife eagerly waiting. Having friends like them was a big treat. In their small, fuel-efficient car, off we went to tour the city. I discovered a lot about Paris—a bit of its history, its genteel charm, and the pleasures it could offer its visitors.

There are many tourist attractions at center of the city. Among the most popular is the Arc de Triomphe which is a grand traffic stone landmark beside an awesome tree-lined garden commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, honoring the military achievements of the French people.
The Eiffel Tower, one of the most imposing landmarks in Europe, stands prominently in the skyline, a favorite sight which draws people to muse on the splendor of steel: a broad-based needle tapering out in the wind, hovering high, close to the clouds.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame, a magnificent 14th century ornate gothic cathedral reminds visitors of the city’s vibrant religious past. The Louvre Museum is among the countless cultural gems which show Paris’ exquisite aesthetic sensibilities—mostly pre-20th century artworks which date back before the days of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The Seine River, a picturesque waterway with beautiful arched bridges offers a romantic boat ride (Bateaux Parisiens,) giving a fascinating view of the city.

Many buildings in the center of Paris are historic. Though they’re old, the mostly beige-colored edifices are religiously maintained, giving the locale its ambience of elegance, character, and beauty. Even their shopping centers are housed in stunning old stone buildings. Not as tall as I find the refractive glass towers of New York, the Paris constructions exude a more relaxed, earth-bound feel of the metropolis.

The most exciting part of my visit is the food. The Parisians are known for their culinary delights and wonders. Their veggies are carefully presented; their meat dishes well-seasoned and yummy. A mixture of aroma and flavor goes well with French food and its famous wine and bread. Not as greasy as the American fastfood, the French meal is a true epicurean treat.

The Parisians speak their language with palpable pride. That’s why I carried a handy survival book of words to ease communication. Monsieur (mister,) mademoiselle (miss,) and merci (thank you) are some words which go a long way with bonjour (good morning) or bonsoir (good evening.) Like divine mantras, the words are quite helpful in every conversation. They are almost indispensable at the end of every dinner when it’s time to pay and give away appreciation for some food and service. An average service charge of 15% is usual, but tips of 1 to 3 Euros are appreciated.

Because there are countless wonderful things one can spend for in the heart of Paris, staying there can be captivating, if not addicting. Certainly, there are less pricey places in the world than the French capital city, but visiting the place is worth the “thank you’s,” the memory, and the cost. I didn’t even think so much that I was physically handicapped the last time I was there. =0=