From the Weeklies

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As always, whenever I pick up Respekt, I turn to the last page first for that refreshing jumble of news from the past week. Given the fact that this is the last edition of "From the Weeklies", I think I can get away with some favouritism - and say that of all the serious political articles in this weekly paper, this gives me the most enjoyment. Something akin to the no-comment reports on TV, one gets a jumble of news and views handpicked from the media over the past week. A lot of it appears to be tongue-in-cheek, but all the quotes are real. My favourite this week reads: "Police in Olomouc report that six people were seriously injured over the past five days in an attempt to enforce their right of way at pedestrian crossings. According to police records drivers were to blame for most of the accidents. The police have concluded that it would be a good idea to scrap some pedestrian crossings in the town." Well, that just says it all, doesn't it? Another nice one this week is: "On a visit to Zambia the Czech Environment Minister Milos Kuzvart promised the Zambian minister for mining that the Czech Republic would help Zambia with its environmental protection problems." Talk about getting your own house in order... But there is a promising environmental report that we may have not featured in the news - and that is that "due to the warm weather the annual migration of frogs has started two weeks early this year". Judging that many of them migrate across roads I hope our drivers show them more consideration than they do to pedestrians... Have you heard that excessive heat is bad for your heart, excessive cold is bad for your lungs, windy weather is bad for your liver, humid weather is bad for your spleen, while dry weather is bad for your kidneys? Probably not. It was written in the year 2650 BC by the Chinese Emperor Huang Ti. Pravo magazine has expanded on his theory somewhat, adding that grey and rainy weather may give you headaches and mood swings. Rheumatism, lack of concentration, lack of appetite and depression can also be ascribed to the weather. As can blotchy skin and a bad hair day. It would probably be easier for me to enumerate what you can't blame the weather for - especially at this time of the year - but although this article may sound like a joke it was actually compiled from medical and meteorological research at over 160 centres and its author quotes a number of experts in the field. You learn that, for instance, following warm weather and pressure changes the number of heart attacks rises by an average of 15 percent. Doctors advise patients with heart related problems to buy a barometer and whenever they see the pressure drop by more than 10 millibars for over 24 hours - take an aspirin as an effective means of preventing possible heart problems. Low pressure allegedly worsens blood coagulation... And if you ascribe bad headaches to pressure swings - you should know that pressure changes don't give you headaches - electro-magnetic changes in the atmosphere do... Well there's plenty more for those who want to scrutinise their health this closely - though it would probably make me feel even worse to know that this is a really bad day weather-wise and that my spleen is probably having serious problems. However, I do not dare to question the wisdom of our predecessors - and this field of medicine goes a long way back - not just in China. The wind tower in Athens built in 50 B.C. bears engravings showing the direction of the wind and its effect on human health... Mobile mania in this country is still going strong and the forecast is that by the end of this year 6 million people in the Czech Republic - that is half the population including new-born babies and elderly people - will own mobiles. Mobile operators have good reason to be pleased with Czechs - sales show that Czechs go for quality where mobiles are concerned - allegedly more so than their European neighbours, for instance the Germans or Poles. Czechs are reportedly very eager to get the latest technology and functions, often discarding old mobiles for better ones because they want additional advantages, such as voice activation. Already the "mobile maniacs" in this country can't wait for the third generation of mobiles to appear on the market, which according to Mlady Svet should be sometime in the year 2003. The new generation of mobiles with so called Killer Application will enable sound and video transfer, as well as audio and video recordings. People will be able to record political coups and assassination attempts before TV camera crews arrive on the spot, watch the latest news while they are stuck in a traffic jam, turn on the heating or water their lawn on their way home, as well as using their mobile for payments -instead of a credit card - at their local supermarket. Those willing to pay more for the latest in home appliances will be able to contact their fridge on the way home and ask it to ring back with a grocery list. Maybe by that time, Mlady Svet says, we will have scales that with confer with the fridge and in the case of overweight individuals suggest a respective diet. Does that sound like more than you'd care for? The young generation is going to love it and mobile operators are already targeting a sales campaign geared towards 14-year-olds. For teenagers the mobile has become a status symbol and they'll do anything to get their hands on one - preferably the latest model. Studies show that youngsters with a mobile spend all their money on that and have less to spend on cigarettes - which is one argument that parents are going to listen to. But then parents who are able to afford it will need very little persuasion. It is the desire to give their children what they missed out on and make up for their own lost opportunities that is making Czechs fork out millions of crowns of the latest that technology has to offer. As for the minority who are still fighting off this growing dependence on technology Mlady Svet has bad news. Things are bound to get worse. Like in Hong Kong, where 70 percent of the population own mobiles. Despite attempts to introduce something in the way of mobile ethics mobile users are said to have become so "disruptive" in public places that there is a growing movement for cinemas, theatres, libraries and other institutions to be able to effect the use of mobile signal jammers. According to the weekly such a decision would be preceded by a public debate. And finally, lets look at a dilemma which the International Olympics Committee will have to resolve in the not too distant future. Should dictatorships be given the opportunity to organise the Olympic Games? - a question that Dnes magazine has asked in connection with China's ambition to host the Olympics. Out of 12 respondents from all walks of life, 10 gave a firm NO and one said it couldn't do much harm and would most likely help the people of that country, while the last quipped "at least one would be happy to return even without having won a medal".