Showing posts from 2018

Naughty nuns

Two nunsadmit embezzling $500,000 for Las Vegas gambling trips
Two Catholic school nuns in California have admitted toembezzling about $500,000 and using the funds over the years for travel and gambling in Las Vegas, their order said on Monday.

Sisters Mary Margaret Kreuper and Lana Chang, who are said to be best friends, took the money from tuition, fees and donations at St James Catholic School in Torrance, south of Los Angeles.

"We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips. We do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account," an attorney for the school told parents and alumni at a recent meeting, the Press-Telegram reported.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said the missing money was discovered during a routine audit and it is believed the nuns operated their schemeover at least a decade.

Ms Kreuper was principal at the school for 29 years until her retirement earlier this year. Ms Chang was a tea…

Wedding caterers fake their own death

When faking your own death to get out of catering a wedding is not fraud 
Madrid court finds two entrepreneurs not guilty after they lied to a couple about their supposed demise and kept the fiancés’ money
Just hours before a wedding was due to take place, Jesús C., the businessman in charge of catering the event, sent a mail to the bridepurporting to be someone else, and claiming that both he and his son had died. The message explained that the company would not be able to serve the food – which was already 75% paid for.

The lie has been described as such by the Spanish justice system, yet the perpetrators will not be punished as the courts found that the ruse cannot be considered fraud. The man in question already had a criminal record for misappropriation of funds, and six other couples say he pulled the same trick on them.

The public prosecutor was calling for a prison sentence of one year and three months. But despite the fact that the money was never returned to the bride and

Controversial comments from the Catholic Church

Gay people should not join Catholic clergy, Pope Francis says 
No room for ‘fashionable’ homosexuality and gay priests should be ‘impeccably responsible’ or leave Pope Francis is “concerned” about what he describes as the “serious issue” of homosexuality, saying in an interview published on Saturday that being gay is a “fashion” to which the clergy is susceptible.

“The issue of homosexuality is a very serious issue that must be adequately discerned from the beginning with the candidates,” the pontiff said with regards towould-be priests.

“In our societies it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable and that mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the church,” he says in the book The Strength of a Vocation, released in Italy on Saturday.

“This is something I am concerned about, because perhaps at one time it did not receive much attention,” he says in the book, a transcript of an interview that will be released in 10 languages.

The Roman Catholic church’s position is …

Harlequin Head hoax

Stolen Picasso found in Romanian forest revealed as fake
Whatwas thought to be a stolen artwork by Pablo Picasso recently discovered in Romania has been revealed as a forgery.

Experts had hoped that the painting was Harlequin Head, snatched from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam in an infamous art heist six years ago.

A Belgian theatre company duped a Dutch writer, who wrote a novel based on the daring robbery,into thinking she had found the missing artwork in Romania.

It says it staged the hoax as part of a project about the value of truth.

The theft of the century, as the 2012 heist was dubbed by local media, saw pieces by Picasso, Monet, Matisse and others taken in three minutes.

Four Romanian art thieves were jailed for the heist, but the seven artworks - estimated to be worth as much as €200m (£160m) at the time - were never recovered.

Some of the pieces are feared to have been burned by one of the robber's mothers - who told local media she incinerated the paintings after po…

Bonfire Night

In 1605, thirteen young men planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Among them was Guy Fawkes, Britain's most notorious traitor.

After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. James I had, after all, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth and a number of young men, 13 to be exact, decided that violent action was the answer.

A small group took shape, under the leadership of Robert Catesby. Catesby felt that violent action was warranted. Indeed, the thing to do was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doingso, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. Today these conspirators would be known as extremists, or terrorists.

To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels ofgunpowder -…

First to swim around Britain

'It was brutal': Ross Edgley completes 157-day swim around Britain 
After 37 jellyfishstings and a rotting tongue, the 33-year-old finally surfaces in Margate 
 As he hobbled on to dry land for the first time in 157 days, havingbecome the first swimmer to circumnavigate the whole of Great Britain, Ross Edgley’s first thought was not for food, a warm blanket, or a hug. “It was so strange,” he laughed. “I was just really worried I was gonna*stack it and *face-plant the floor.”

Hundreds of spectators gathered at Margate harbour on Sunday morning to cheer the 33-year-old as he emerged from the sea after completing a record 1,791-mile swim around the mainland. Thankfully, he was not made to do a lap of honour.

“I got out of the water and thought this is gonna be amazing, I’ll run in like Baywatch,” he told the Guardian shortly after completing the feat. “The reality is that I’m really chubby now, really hairy, and I had a pink towbuoy. When I made it to dry land I was just relieve…

Catholic version of Pokemon Go

Catholic saint-finding game 'Follow JC Go!' wants to rival Pokemon Go 
Pokemon Go, the wildly successful mobile game, has been downloaded around 800 million times and scooped over $2bn (£1.5bn) in revenue since 2016.

Figures like that were always going to spawn some imitators.

But the latest - the Catholic Church (followers: 1.2 billion) - might come as a surprise to many. 

"Follow JC Go!", a Christian take on the game, lets players "catch" saints or Bible characters, instead of the little Japanese monsters.

The game is the brainchild of Fundación Ramón Pané, a Catholic evangelical group, which made it in preparation for World Youth Day 2019, a Catholic youth event taking place in Panama in January.

As with Pokemon Go, the game uses the player's smartphone camera to take in their surroundings, then superimposes digital characters. But you're more likely to find Saint Peter than Pikachu.

Players progress through the game by answering religious quiz …

Actually, it's not that simple

Actual and actually do not refer to time.

actual (ESP) ≠ actual (ENG) and actualmente ≠ actually

So be careful when translating sentences like the following:

La situación política actual genera preocupaciónThe actual political situation is giving cause for concern. ❌The present political situation is giving cause for concern.
La tasa de desempleo actual es la más alta de la Unión Europea.The actual rate of unemployment is the highest in the European Union. ❌The current rate of unemployment is the highest in the European Union. 
La juventud de hoy tiene más oportunidades que sus padres?Do actual young people have more opportunities than their parents? ❌Do young people today have more opportunites than their parents? 
El Parlamento reformará algunas de las leyes actuales.Parliament will reform some of the actual laws. ❌Parliament will reform some of the existing laws. 
España es la campeona actual del mundo.Spain are the actual world champions. ❌Spain are the reigning world champions. 

No hugging in the workplace

Why you shouldn't hug your colleagues
Whatever happened to the simple handshake at work? asks author Alison Green, and the creator of the workplace advice column Ask a Manager.

You're greeting a colleague who you haven't seen in a while - and suddenly, without warning, they're enthusiastically opening their arms and heading in for a hug.

Hugging used to be reserved for close family and friends, but it's been infiltrating professional contexts for a while now, leaving huggers delighted and the rest of usshrinking backin the hopes that we can avoid unwanted embraces.

Hugging hasn't become the norm in every industry, but there are entire fields where it's common in both greetings and goodbyes, especially as workplaces become increasingly informal.

That can be odd for those of us who aren't huggers, or who aren't huggers at work. And the fact that different people have different preferences around hugging - and that there aren't any clear-cut rules …

Madrid travel guide

Image Source: Wikipedia (Felipe Gabaldón)


What does it mean to you?
What's your favourite neighbourhood? Why?
What advice would you give to a visitor?
What changes have you seen?
How would you compare it to other cities that you know?

Have a look at some of these extracts from the *Wikitravel guide to MadridDo you agree with them? What advice would you add?

*Text in Wikitravel may be edited.

Madrid is the capital of Spain, as well as the capital of the autonomous community of the same name (Comunidad de Madrid). The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million with a metro area population of almost 6.5 million.  Madrid is best known for its great cultural and artistic heritage, a good example of which is the El Prado museum. Madrid also boasts some of the liveliest nightlife in the world.

Image source: Wikipedia


The culture of Madrid was dominated by its religious and royal history. Enormous, monolithic cathedrals and churches are plentiful in Madrid, as well as medieval a…

An interesting read?

Man reads entire Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary is not everyone's idea ofa page turner.

But a man has just completed the mammoth, if not bizarre, task of reading the 22,000-page tome cover to cover.

Ammon Shea, 37, who has been dissecting dictionaries since the age of 10, spent a year absorbing 59 million words, from A to Zyxt - the equivalent of reading a John Grisham novel every day.

Cooped up in the basement of his local library, the removal man from New York would devote up to 10 hours a day painstakinglymaking his way through all 20 volumes of the OED - helped by cup after cup of very strong coffee.

Every time he came across an interesting word, he jotted it down, fearful that he would not remember its meaning.

Among his favourite discoveries were obmutescence (willfully quiet), hypergelast (a person who won't stop laughing), natiform (shaped like buttocks) and deipnosophist (a person who is learned in the art of dining.)

He admitted there were time…

Dress v wear v put on

What is the difference between these clothes related verbs?

Let's start with put on. This verb is always used with an object.
I put on my glasses to read the small print.You should put on a jumper. It's getting cold.I took off my black shoes and put the brown ones on. They're much more comfortable.Why aren't you wearing your seatbelt? Putiton before the police catches us. You can see from the last example that you have to put something onbefore you can say you are wearing it. (Does that make sense?)
It's the opposite of take off.
You could say that put on is to start wearing and take off is to finish wearing something.
Both put on and take off are separable phrasal verbs. This means that the object can go between the verb and preposition or come after the preposition. However, if you use a pronoun, it must be in the middle. She forgot to put her earrings on. She forgot to put on her earrings. She forgot to put them on. She forgot to put on them. ❌ I took my tie off…

Ban on clapping - what next?

Image source: Wikipedia (Alex E. Proimos) Student union bans clapping to make events 'inclusive' 
The University of Manchester's student union wants praise communicated using jazz hands instead - and cheering is also banned.
Clapping has been banned by a student union in a move to be more inclusive towards those with anxiety or sensory issues.

Jazz hands - British Sign Language (BSL) clapping - will replace clapping, cheering and whooping at the University of Manchester's student union events.

According to student newspaper Mancunion, the ban was agreed at the first union meeting of the year.

"It resolved to swap out audible clapping for BSL clapping at SU events, and to encourage student groups and societies to do the same, and to include BSL clapping as a part of inclusion training," the student paper reads.

The motion was authored by liberation and access officer Sara Khan, and received little opposition.

Ms Khan has made the news previously in July when he…


Image source: Wikipedia (Florian Plag)
There are words which suddenly come into fashion and some of these expressions are, in my opinion, unwelcome. Many of them are Americanisms.

The British don't love food in the same way as, say, the French or Italians, although we do eat out more than before.

We would never expect the waiter or anyone sat at the table to say the equivalent of "buen provecho".

You might, just might, have heard the odd "Bon appétit" or "Enjoy your meal".

Over the last few years, "Enjoy!" will accompany everything that is brought to your table.

The other day while out for a meal, I lost count of the number of times I heard it.

I was given a beer. - Enjoy!
My mum was served a wine. - Enjoy!
The starters - Enjoy!
The main courses - Enjoy!
The desserts - Enjoy!

And all around us - Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!!!!!

Had I had one too many, I might have shouted out "Stop saying f*%!ing enjoy".

I often hear my students use "en…

Argue v discuss

Image source: Wikipedia (Chiltepinster)

Many Spanish students use "discuss" when they should actually say "argue".

If people argue, it suggests they disagree about something and they feel angry about it.

What are they arguingabout? (They have raised their voices or are shouting at each other and perhaps look angry)Don't arguewith him. It's not worth it. If people discuss something, they talk seriously about the subject. I am worried. The boss wants to meet me to discuss my future.Can we discuss this later? I'm busy at the moment.The plan was discussedin great detail they agreed on it.

Similarly, an argument often involves feelings of anger whereas a discussion is simply a conversation.  He had a huge argument with his girlfriend again. I reckon they'll split up.I don't want to get into an argument with you. I have enough on my plate.I had a very frank discussionwith herabout her results.The government is tohold further discussions with the unions i…

Stag and hen parties not welcome in Andalusia

Why the Spanish region of Andalusia is calling time onbachelor weekends 
High-speed train links, cheap apartment rentals and online entertainment packages have made these destinations irresistible to revelers, but locals are less thanamused
Andalusia’s principal cities have become magnets for bachelor and bachelorette parties in recent years. Each weekend, high-spirited groups wearing outrageous outfits are frequently seen staggering drunkenly around the streets of Granada, Málaga, Córdoba and Seville.

But while high-speed train links, unregulated apartment rentals and online entertainment packages have made these destinations irresistible to revelers, the locals are less than amused and the authorities are now taking measures tocurb the practice.

The mayor of Málaga, Francisco de la Torre, has announced a greater police presence on the streets in order tocrack down on the antics of these unwelcome tourists. In Granada, the deputy government spokeswoman, Ana Muñoz, called a multi-par…