Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

European Sammelsurium 3

by Fran Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 10:15:10 AM EST

Ha, looks like not everything Swiss is Swiss. For example the Swiss Army Knife.

Swiss Army knife - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Swiss Army knife (French: Couteau suisse, German: Schweizer Offiziersmesser, Italian: Coltellino svizzero) is a brand of multi-function pocket knife or multi-tool. It originated in Ibach Schwyz, Switzerland in 1897. The term "Swiss Army knife" is a registered trademark owned by Wenger S.A. and Victorinox A.G., longtime suppliers of knives to the Swiss Armed Forces. Generally speaking, a Swiss Army knife has a blade as well as various tools, such as screwdrivers and can openers. These attachments are stowed inside the handle of the knife through a pivot point mechanism. The handle is usually red, and features a Victorinox or Wenger "cross" logo or for military issue knives the coat of arms of Switzerland.

The term "Swiss Army knife" is sometimes used metaphorically to describe usefulness, such as a software tool that is a collection of special-purpose tools. The term "Swiss Army knife" was coined by US soldiers after World War II, presumably because they had trouble pronouncing its original name, "Offiziersmesser".[1] The "Swiss Army knife" has been added to the collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Munich's State Museum of Applied Art for its design.

Well, it looks like it a Roman predecessor - the Roman Army Knife.

And as the Daily Mail reports, it s is approximately 1800 years older than the Swiss Army knife. The Roman Army Knife: Or how the ingenuity of the Swiss was beaten by 1,800 years | Mail Online

The world's first Swiss Army knife' has been revealed - made 1,800 years before its modern counterpart.

An intricately designed Roman implement, which dates back to 200AD, it is made from silver but has an iron blade.

It features a spoon, fork as well as a retractable spike, spatula and small tooth-pick.

Experts believe the spike may have been used by the Romans to extract meat from snails.

You can find additional pictures here.


Bulgarian women seem to be on the rise again.

The Female Factor - Women Achieving Influence in Bulgarian Public Life - Series - NYTimes.com

SOFIA -- Prime Minister Boiko M. Borisov of Bulgaria, a thick-necked former karate instructor, bodyguard and onetime fireman, may seem an unlikely feminist. But the former tough guy mayor of Sofia has in recent months promoted a legion of women, heralding what some are calling a sexual revolution in the politics of this abidingly macho Balkan country.

When you google about Bulgarian women, you come primarely across links for marriage agencies for Bulgarian women seeking Western Husbands. Or about women that were successful is sports. At least this is what we can see mostly looking from the west.

The 'the echo' a newspaper from Sofia picks up the topic from the NYT.

New York Times: Borissov favours women for high office - Bulgaria - The Sofia Echo

An article in the New York Times by Dan Bilefsky comments on the ascendancy of women in Bulgaria under the leadership of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, noting that although the "thick-necked former karate instructor, bodyguard and onetime fireman may seem an unlikely feminist" many women have been appointed to high office since his ruling party GERB came to power in July 2009.

The newspaper quotes Borissov as saying that "women are more diligent than men, and they don't take long lunches or go to the bar". The article also notes that Borissov's role models are his mother and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
"Women have stronger characters than men because when they say no they mean no, and they are less corruptible," Borissov is quoted as saying.

Bilefsky notes that Bulgarian women in high places include the Justice Minister (Margarita Popova), the mayor of Sofia (Yordanka Fandukova), the speaker of Parliament (Tsetska Tsacheva) and the nominee to lead the European Union's humanitarian aid (Kristalina Georgieva).



And the last topic for today is the "Narrenzeit" or loosely translated "the season of the fools" - meaning Carnival and Fastnacht is approaching now, in many places of Europe.

On of the earliest in the season is the Carnevale di Venezia, which is often considered one of the most beautiful ones.

Wiki has more on the history of the Carnevale.

Carnival of Venice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Though it probably had much earlier roots, the Carnival in Venice was supposedly first recorded in 1296, when the Senate of the Republic issued an edict declaring the day before Lent as a public holiday. Much as in other cities, Medieval and Renaissance Venetians appear to have celebrated Carnival in several guises. On the one hand, it was an official festival, for the most part staged in Piazza San Marco, the Piazzetta, in the courtyard of the Ducal Palace, or out in the Bacino of San Marco - the basin adjoining the Molo. These events, especially during and after the sixteenth century, celebrated the founding and governing myths of the state - its tranquility, durability, prosperity, fairness, and piety. Some of these official festivities were violent - oxen and pigs were let loose in the Palace courtyard and then slaughtered - but they still conveyed the overarching theme of civic unity. On the other hand, a good deal of popular energy during Carnival was directed into group rivalries, between parishes or between large geographic factions that divided the city. These could be extremely violent at times, involving bull fights, the running of oxen or pigs down the streets, or mass brawls with sticks or fists, often on bridges.

The Telegraph has more pictures.

Hope you enjoyed today's Sammelsurium and please add you links for European items in the comment section.
by Fran on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 10:15:40 AM EST
Interesting information about Bulgarian women, Fran!  They must have a different way of working in Bulgaria if men routinely go to bars at lunchtimes!

Although that said, in some countries with long siestas maybe it isn't so unusual.  We don't take long lunches as a general rule in the UK, half an hour or an hour is typical.  Do Bulgarians take a siesta? Maybe Helen knows.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 10:56:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha, I must admit, I don't even know if men go here to bars at lunchtimes. But my guess is, that it is more common in more southern countries, where there is still a longer lunchtime.
by Fran on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 11:58:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They must have a different way of working in Bulgaria if men routinely go to bars at lunchtimes!

I think Borisov's comment applies more to bosses, or the image of bosses.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 12:54:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just wondering if maybe bar has different meanings in different countries. For example, in Italy, as far as I know, during the day you go to the bar for coffee and aperitivo in the evening. Whereas here in Switzerland a bar is a place that opens in the evening and you go there primarily for alcoholic beverages.
by Fran on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 01:49:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In BG most bars are multipurpose. Coffee as well as beer or rakia (moonshine hooch). Rakia is generally taken with food as a digestif.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 01:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not siestas, but long lunches definitely. You can see laborers and farm workers will set out elaborate lunches wherever is convenient, a half litre of wine and take their time.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 01:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just complained about The Independent's all too typically British whinging about the French:

Does the Independent have to rely on these whinging twits who trot out the usual old rubbish about Paris ? (Paris is still wilfully old-fashioned", Dylan Jones Feb 6 2010) Didn't you get enough negative feedback to Adrian Hamilton's pathetic "Feeling down and out in Paris" ? - e.g. from doug-piranha:

"London is no smiley-faced Disneyworld experience....Tourists get ripped off royally every minute of every day.

So you met a couple of rude people. More fool you for eating in a restaurant that you knew was arrogant to its guets - and where the food was "not that good "

You poor old darling - "down and out " ? - pfffffffff."

Now we get this insubstantial piece of puffery about a new design store in Paris from the editor of GQ, who takes the opportunity to whinge about inattentive waiters - maybe they get tired of moaning tourists, especially as staffing levels are low because it's not so easy to employ people at slave-labour rates in France.

As an American pointed out in response to Hamilton's piece of dross:

"I have to say that I have never been treated as rudely in Paris as I have been in London. Still I love both cities and prefer genuine dourness and impatience with my ignorance of language and custom to the fakery and sugary sweet incompetence that is found in the hotels and restaurants in the little tourist towns in the US."

Is it beyond the competence of the Independent to give us some news about Paris which rises above the level of negative cliché ?

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 02:57:21 PM EST
Foreign Correspondents' Disease. You only get sent "out there" to write back what the folks at home think they know. Don't rock the boat.

What really guts me is the evidence that the British have been made progressively more insular and xenophobic as Eurosceptic propaganda has been rolled out. It gets into a negative feedback loop.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 03:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oddly enough I was thinking of a diary comparing the BBC new coverage of the US ('Incredibly interesting things you really should know about') with coverage of the EU ('Rude, bigoted, rather comical, and they talk funny'.)

Merkel could create world peace, and the BBC would comment that Germans have no sense of humour.

All Obama has to do is sneeze, and it's headline news.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 03:34:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of a diary


by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 03:39:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few years ago, I was in a train in Switzerland that made a special stop to allow an army unit to board. The soldier sitting next to me noticed a thread sticking out of his uniform, so he took out his Swiss army knife (a very simple one) to cut it off. They really do use them in the army...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 04:48:51 PM EST
This diary is the swiss army sammelsurium of ET.  Great reading in an airport lounge, at least currently.

Reminded me of the orignal ~Leatherman set of tools.  really well designed, bigger and therefore a touch more useful than the equivilent swiss knife tools.  Leatherman birthed in Oregon if i'm,not mistaken.  I always wanted one, but never bit.

Until i found the Victorinox version, with better steel, and kaufed it right away.  i would take it everywhere if it wasn't for airline regulations.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 02:13:06 AM EST
Have a great trip and enjoy the flight. :-)
by Fran on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 02:18:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Crazy Horse:
i would take it everywhere

Don't even write that if you want to board that plane.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 06:03:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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