USA Today.com–If you’re in a foul mood, it might be time to learn Spanish. Languages, and the people who use them, tend to favor using positive words over negatives, researchers find, and they’ve learned that that’s particularly true in Spanish. Experts at the University of Vermont and the MITRE Corporation went through volumes of text from all kinds of sources: books, the news, music lyrics, movie subtitles, and more, including some 100 billion words used on Twitter,UVM reports. Investigating 10 languages, they picked out the 10,000 most common words, then had native speakers rank these words on a nine-point happiness scale; “laughter,” for instance, was rated 8.5, while “greed” came in at 3.06.
All 24 types of sources reviewed resulted in scores above the neutral 5, meaning they leaned “happy.” In other words, “people use more positive words than negative ones,” a researcher says. As far as individual languages go, here are the top five happiest ones, via Discovery:
Each country-category winner competes against other global competitors in the same category for the Best of the World recognition. The international competition will announce its global winners this June. Now, I don’t want to spoil the party, but it’s not actually a book. It’s a big, meaty, beautifully-illustrated, well-written, 460-page love note.
John Hopewell writes for Variety.com–At a Berlin festival boasting a record-high 60-plus Latin American features in different sections,Telefonica Studios, the Spanish telco giant’s film/TV production arm, and Film Factory, a preeminent Spanish sales company, have boarded one of the highest-profile productions from the Spanish-speaking world: “My Big Night,” the next big comedy from Alex de la Iglesia (“Witching & Bitching”). Telefonica Studios has taken substantial minority equity on “My Big Night”; Vicente Canales’ Film Factory introduces the title, produced by Enrique Cerezo, at Berlin.
Pic stars Spanish crooner Raphael, and goes into production on Feb. 23, aiming for a fall fest berth. Co-written with Jorge Guerricaechevarria, De la Iglesia’s career-long co-scribe, “My Big Night” unspools at a lavish New Year’s Eve TV show, where the frenzied fake bonhomie contrasts with the shoot date – a sweltering mid-August – the participants’ actions and sentiments, and the solitude of the studio’s setting. Raphael plays a sadistic, ratings-chasing diva. Beyond Raphael, “My Big Night” stars Spain’s hot young thesps Mario Casas (“Witching & Bitching”), Hugo Silva (“I’m So Excited”) and Blanca Suarez (“The Skin I Live In”) and “Torrente” director-star Santiago Segura.
Arch Daily.com–Spanish firm Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos has been selected to receive the 2015 Alvar Aalto Medal. Awarded every three years, the Alvar Aalto Medal recognizes an office or architect “with outstanding merit in creative architecture.” Nieto Sobejano and its founders – Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano—were commended by the jury for their profound understanding of the local cultures where they work.
“Nieto and Sobejano were key names in the new wave of Spanish architecture, which emerged in the late 1970s. The roots of their architecture lie in Spain, and its multi-layered history and culture,” the jury wrote. “Their works speak a silent language, proving that the precondition of meaningful architecture is an in-depth understanding of local culture and the context of the design brief.” Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos has offices in both Madrid and Berlin, and is known for their work with exhibition and museum buildings, particularly with renovations and expansions. The jury this year was comprised of architects Rainer Mahlamäki (Finland), Simo Freese (Finland), Wessel de Jonge (the Netherlands) and Dorte Mandrup-Poulsen (Denmark).
Seville, Spain (CNN.com)–The air in the small basement room is thick with perspiration as seven young women stamp their feet in the same complicated rhythm again and again, still not getting it quite right. Their hard heels relentlessly strike the wooden floor, throwing up a deafening clatter as they’re pushed to perfection, or almost to the breaking point. The next room, just as sweaty, is filled with another wall of sound, this one created by a platoon of guitarists. Their synchronized strumming intensifies as numbed fingers fly over frets and strings, struggling to match a tempo that keeps getting faster and faster.
And at the end of the corridor, in another smaller room, seated around a twirling dancer, a group claps its hands in time to a mysterious beat. Their formidable instructor regularly halts the class to chide her pupils over seemingly minor imperfections. These are everyday scenes at the Heeren Flamenco Foundation (Avenida de Jerez, 2, Seville, Spain; +34 954 21 70 58), a cheerful blue-walled institution currently housed in the shadow of a soccer stadium on the southern fringes of the Spanish city of Seville. Heeren specializes in schooling singers, guitarists and dancers in the technical skills needed to perform the art that has come to symbolize Seville and the surrounding region of Andalusia. It’s no shock to find that it takes hard work to reach the high standards expected by flamenco audiences in Spain and around the world. What is a surprise though is the number of non-Spanish students hoping to reach this level.
Spain’s most famous children’s author Elena Fortún and companion Matilde Ras, a fellow feminist writer, are the subject of a new anthology which uncovers previously hidden diaries, a series of unpublished literature and evocative letters between the two whilst in exile.
Exeter.ac.uk–Professor Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles, an expert in Hispanic and Gender Studies at the University of Exeter, has written the extensive introduction to ‘Elena Fortún y Matilde Ras. El camino es nuestro’ and selected the texts with collaborator Dr MJ Fraga (Universidad Complutense, Madrid). The anthology is written in Spanish and highlights Fortún and Ras as major 20th century avant garde writers. As female intellectuals active during the Spanish Second Republic, Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship their contributions to literature, journalism and feminist thought were largely forgotten on becoming political exiles.
However, Fortún’s bestselling books about the famous character ‘Celia’ remain a staple across the Spanish speaking world. The 20 volume saga of her life with her family from age 7 to 18 years spans the period from the years before the Second Republic to dictatorship. Celia is nearly 100 years old since first published.
British chef, restaurant owner and culinary media star presents the best series we have seen on authentic Spanish food. It might have been called “Spanish food without liquid nitrogen.” It’s four insightful and delightful hour-long chapters, so you’d be advised to mix yourself a drink, put your feet up and enjoy it to the full. Here’s the first one:
Reuters.com–Feb 9 (Reuters) – Herve Falciani, the former HSBC employee who supplied information on the bank’s clients and their tax situation, will help upstart Spanish political party Podemos (We Can) with its election programme, party officials said on Monday. HSBC client data obtained by Falciani is at the centre of a storm over the British bank. HSBC has admitted failings by its Swiss private bank, after media reports that it helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets.
Falciani — who used to work in IT at the Swiss subsidiary and who has described himself as a whistleblower trying to help governments track down tax evaders — will produce a tax fraud report for the Spanish party, one of its officials, Luis Alegre, told a news conference in Madrid. “Many thanks to Falciani for offering to collaborate with Podemos’ programme,” Podemos’ 36-year-old leader Pablo Iglesias said on Twitter. “He will be an invaluable help.”Anti-establishment Podemos, which is barely a year old, has risen rapidly in opinion polls, some of which show it would win a general election due later this year, ending decades of a two-party system in Spain.
Olive Oil Times.com, Madrid Fusión 2015–Spain’s prestigious culinary event, conducted three days of creative showcases, culinary demonstrations and presentations in Madrid recently. From center stage presentations by world-class chefs and educational classroom tastings to a multitude of varietals on display from around the country and a juried cooking competition, the show demonstrated that extra virgin olive oils from Spain continue to gain greater appreciation among those most familiar with the ingredient.
On the conference’s first day, extra virgin olive oil was center stage with chef María José San Román’s presentation “Un Aceite Para Cada Plato” (An Oil for Every Dish). While the chef’s presentation was the only olive-oil centric demonstration, many other chefs showcased the value of olive oil in their creations throughout the 3-day event. Chef Dani Garcia wowed the audience with his presentation Texturas Helada, featuring olive oil-based savory ice cream creations with truffle and Michelin 3-star chef Pedro Subijana demonstrated liberal use of extra virgin olive oil in his Bekarki menu from Akelare.
When Pope Francis reportedly embraced a transgender man at the Vatican he offered hope to those who have struggled to gain acceptance in the Church
Jane Fae writes for Catholic Herald.co.uk–When I first read that the Pope had met and embraced a transgender man, I was overjoyed. How better to breathe life into his stated view, as I was reminded at Mass on the very morning that I write this, that we should “give witness with joy and simplicity”? My joy, though, was quickly tempered by the analysis that followed. The story, according to the mainstream press, was straightforward. A Spanish transgender man, Diego Neria Lejarraga, wrote to the Pope about his struggles for acceptance within the Church. To his amazement, the Pope responded first by picking up the phone and then arranging a formal meeting at the Vatican.
To the heartfelt question of whether, after his gender reassignment (popularly referred to as a “sex change”), there was “a place somewhere in the house of God for him”, Francis responded by embracing him, Mr Neria told the Spanish newspaper Hoy. This, I told myself, is why Pope Francis is rapidly winning a special place in the hearts of those who have felt marginalised, rejected by a Church that they still desperately long to believe in.