A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers – Henry David Thoreau – NOVEMBER 8, 1849

It was on this day in 1849 that Henry David Thoreau self-published A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, his first book. It was an account of the two-week boating trip Thoreau had taken with his brother, John, 10 years before, from Massachusetts to New Hampshire and back.

Thoreau had always been the introverted and studious one, while John was gregarious and fun-loving. They were close; John helped pay his brother’s tuition to Harvard, and helped Thoreau open his own school when he got fired from his teaching job over his objection to corporal punishment. A few years after their boat trip, John died unexpectedly from tetanus in his brother’s arms. Thoreau decided to seclude himself and began building a cabin by the banks of Walden Pond. He lived there for two years, completing the drafts of both his A Week, often seen as a memorial to his brother, John, and a series of lectures that would eventually become the classic Walden. Since A Weekwas initially rejected, Thoreau was only able to publish it by paying for its printing from its sales. Four years later, after paying off the printing debt, Thoreau wrote in his journal that his publisher had delivered the remaining unsold copies to his home. He wrote, “I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself.”
Thoreau said: “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.
And, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”




Dawkins ‘science fiction’

I am very happy to read about Benedict XVI, one of the clearest minds today! As a professional of the English language, and I will not apologize for not being a native speaker, I must point out that there are more than two grammatically incorrect sentences and syntax errors in a blog publicized at the Telegraph!, and by a native American English speaker, a PhD in History



In the XVIII century Defoe and Jonathan Swift had taken concern of the Catalan issue, as well as Churchill during the Second World War, who offered the people of England the example to be imitated of the courage of the city of Barcelona when facing the bombings during the Spanish Civil War.


El caso de los catalanesLa cuestión catalana suscitó un gran debate político en Inglaterra en el siglo XVIII, en el que intervinieron los autores de ‘Robinson Crusoe’ y ‘Los viajes de Gulliver’15/09/2013 – 16:16h

El caso de los catalanes

Los viajes de Gulliver Archivo



Pressure for a referendum keeps growing 

IT IS a monument to defeat. On September 11th, Catalonia’s national day, newly uncovered ruins of old Barcelona were exposed three centuries after the Catalans lost a war against Spain’s new king. The Diada was celebrated this year by hundreds of thousands of people forming a 400km (250-mile) human chain across Catalonia, imitating the 1989 Baltic Way chain demanding independence from the Soviet Union.
The organisers were less clear about the Catalan aim, some calling it a direct demand for independence, others saying it was just a demand for a referendum that the Popular Party (PP) government of Mariano Rajoy in Madrid refuses to sanction. Polls show just over half of Catalans back independence, but that a whopping 80% want a referendum.
An independence march in last year’s Diada caught politicians by surprise. The Catalan president, Artur Mas, pledged to call a vote in 2014, exactly 300 years after Philip V’s troops squashed the Barcelona revolt and also when Scotland votes on independence from the United Kingdom. But with Mr Rajoy blocking even a non-binding referendum, Mr Mas may now postpone his “consultation” until 2016.
His plan to turn the regional election that year into a “plebiscitary vote” is fraught with problems. Catalans can hardly be expected to elect a new government to run health care, education and social services solely on the issue of independence. Mr Mas and Mr Rajoy have held talks to try to break the deadlock. But the Catalan president holds out little hope of success.
Mr Mas, who backs independence but has coalition partners who do not, may now wait. A general election in 2015 could see Mr Rajoy ousted or weakened, and perhaps needing support from Mr Mas’s Convergence and Union in Madrid’s parliament. Or the Socialists may return to power. They favour constitutional reform that would create a federal state. But such a change requires PP support.A further complication is that the separatist Catalan Republican Left party, which props up Mr Mas’s minority government in Barcelona, could force an earlier regional poll.
A banner over the ruins of old Barcelona says its defenders promised to “win or die”. They lost and Philip V took away most of Catalonia’s self-government. A recovery in Spain may yet pop the independence bubble. But Madrid’s intransigence on the referendum could pump it up again. Catalans and Spaniards badly need a new understanding.