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This week in Mailbox: earthquakes, Radio Prague’s web content accessed via the Amazon Kindle reader, shortwave listening memories from China, response to a Letter from Prague. Listeners quoted: Bob Boundy, David Eldridge, Chun-Quan Meng, Brack Brown.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague’s weekly programme for your views, questions and comments.

Bob Boundy from Christchurch, New Zealand, which was hit by a strong earthquake last month, sent us this e-mail:

“There has been much damage from our 7.1 earthquake on September the 4th… many houses and buildings in our city centre and some suburbs were destroyed. It is very scary as we are still getting aftershocks 3 weeks later. I still can’t get Radio Prague, the main reason being that one transmitter has been closed down and there are no transmissions to our area any more. So hence I’ve been using Radio Prague’s website a lot and also watch CT24 so I’m still able to be kept informed. I have two questions, please: Has the Czech Republic ever had an earthquake? And what is the situation at Radio Prague now?”

The Czech Republic is located quite far away from areas with strong seismic activity. We do get earthquakes from time to time, particularly along the northwestern border of the country. That region is famous for its spa towns whose thermal springs along with extinct volcanoes suggest some residual seismic activity. Records have been kept in this country since the 16th century, and the most powerful quake so far has reached 4.8 degrees on the Richter scale.

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As for the second question, we wish we could give you more information but we are still waiting for the government to decide on the station’s budget for next year. Once the decision is announced, we will, of course, let you know.

David Eldridge from England told us about a discovery he made while sitting in a breakfast bar with his Amazon Kindle reader:

“I know the bar has a rather weak, but free, wi-fi network connection so I decided to see if I could connect to it. To my surprise it connected perfectly. Next I decided to try out the Kindle capabilities on the web. I went to www.radio.cz and it pulled up your page perfectly in HTML format. Then I clicked on the ‘Mailbox’ link. The right hand side of the text was clipped so I tried to see if I could alter its orientation from a portrait to landscape mode to solve the problem. However, instead I was presented with a button offering me the option to display the page in an ‘article’ mode. I clicked on it and instantly the whole of your ‘Mailbox’ page was transformed into a perfectly formatted little pamphlet complete with illustrations and with the ability to read the article using the next page /previous page buttons. All for free!”

Thank you very much for sharing that experience with us, it may serve as inspiration to other readers and listeners of Radio Prague.

Chun-Quan Meng from China shared his radio listening memories with us:

“2010 is a very special year for me – my 40th year of shortwave listening. My love affair with international shortwave radios began in 1970 when I was 13. Maybe you know that tuning into foreign radios, especially western ones labelled as enemy radios, was very ‘dangerous’ before China's opening up and reforms in 1977. With time my interest in shortwave seems to be growing! Sometimes, shortwave is my only means of listening to some foreign radios. For example, both Deutsche Welle and RFI's webs are inactivated, but their shortwave is always ok except RFI's English programme to East Asia was cancelled years ago.”

A longtime follower of Radio Prague, Brack Brown from Virginia, responded to a Letter from Prague by Christian Falvey:

“I agree with you that it is the historical squeeze between greater forces over at least the last thousand years that explains some of the Czech reticence to presume strangers are friends. Most were not. This has also fed what I would frankly call a special Czech kind of racism – which in turn is a sort of pride that despite all the invasions and insults over the centuries that they were somehow able to retain and revitalize a Czech identity. So there is positive, but also very negative aspect of these attitudes. It explains, for instance, to some extent their xenophobia most especially respecting Roma, Jews, Vietnamese, and Africans in about that order. At the same time (a living contradiction) Czechs are the first to man the NGO barricades against human rights violations (though usually somewhere else, not in the CR).”

Many thanks for your views and comments and please keep them coming. You can also take part in our monthly quiz and perhaps win a Radio Prague goodie bag.

In October we are looking for the name of a Czech-American jazz guitarist who was born in 1960 in Prague and since the 1980s has been living in the West, performing and also teaching.

Please send us your answers as always to english@radio.cz or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague by the end of October. Until next week, good-bye.