Retirement age

There has been much talk in Spain about delaying retirement age to 67. How would you feel about it? I, for one, think it’s an awful idea. How about you?


J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger, author of  The Catcher in the Rye, passed away this week at the age of 91. 

Generations of students and teachers have been forever changed by this acclaimed novel, one of my favourites ever since I discovered it as a teenager. I was very proud of myself when I managed to read it in English the first time, and have often revisited it since, especially when I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps. The Catcher in the Rye, narrated by main character and hero Holden Caulfield, is the story of Holden’s life in the few days after being expelled from his Pennsylvania prep school. Holden, one of the most sympathetic and complex young characters of all time,  is an incredibly intelligent, sensitive young man on the verge of becoming an adult who has trouble functioning in the real world.  

The Catcher in the Rye has been translated to many languages and has sold more than 60 million copies worlwide 59 years after its publication in 1951. It has also been banned more times than you want to count by zealous parents and educators. Not that anybody’s surprised by this (because of the profanity, sex, alcohol abuse, prostitution – need I go on?), but interestingly enough, it’s also frequently used as part of high school English classes and it has become required reading in every English department in America.

There are also some curious facts connected to Salinger’s novel. Mark David Chapman, the man who shot John Lennon, was carrying a copy of The Catcher in the Rye when he was arrested. John Hinckley Jr., the guy who tried to kill US President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was also a Caulfield fan.

If you want to know a bit more about the life and other works of this very secretive author, here is a link to a good article by the BBC:

Minaret Ban in Switzerland

Switzerland, a country famous for its tolerance and passivity – ask Roman Polanski 🙂 -, and with quite a high percentage of Muslim population (400,000), has made a radical move to ban minarets from mosques. The referendum that took place yesterday shows that 53% of Swiss voters are in favour of the ban.

Many of the reasons behind yesterday’s vote -growing opposition to migration, the rise of the far right, fear of Islam – apply to other European countries as well. But despite the outrage and criticism widespread in Europe as a result of the referendum, can we be really sure that we would have voted differently given the chance?