Those German Bands Singing In English

Have your heard of Scorpions? I’m not referring an insect, but the band who sings the famous song “Wind of Change.”

Ten years ago, I listened to this song for the first time. I knew nothing about German culture back then. I just felt the rhythm was good and I had no idea about the lyrics and message the singers were trying to deliver. All I knew was that it was a good English song. So I thought they must have been from the U.S. or England. Several years later, I had an intimate contact with Germany and wanted to improve my German by listening to German music, so I sought out some German bands. Surprisingly I found out that the Scorpions came from Germany but never wrote any songs in German.

The Scorpions aren’t the only German band who sings in English. In order to please their U.S. fans, the popular band “Tokio Hotel” had their most successful songs translated in English such as Monsoon from “durch den Monsum.” The English version sounds so awkward to me; maybe it’s because I’m more familiar with the German version. Somehow I felt the German part was missing in the English version.


Im Unterschied zu anderen Bands ihrer Zeit schrieben die Scorpions ihre Liedtexte von Beginn an auf Englisch, da sie von Anfang an das internationale Hard-Rock-Business erobern wollten.” This is a quote from Wikipedia about the Scorpions’ choice of English. It says that, in order to gain success in international hard rock, the band decided from the beginning to write all their songs in English. I think this is also an explanation why some German Bands or singers choose to sing in English. My German friend also tells me that if the German bands have English songs, this would help them to achieve success in Europe and even the whole world.

True, nowadays English is becoming more and more important. We also say that music has no boundaries. When the singers perform a song, they are not just saying the lyrics with melodies, they are interpreting the lyric, and they are delivering the feelings which can be expressed not just by words. Sometimes, we hear a foreign song but can still understand it without understanding the words.


Besides, if they sing their songs in a language which is not their native language, how can they keep their original identities? I don’t think there is a necessity to abandon their mother language and go English. The famous German Band “Rammstein” also gained international fame without any single songs in English. And there are lots of people who’ve become interested in German and want to learn German because they like Rammstein’s German songs.

Occupy Wall Street Becomes Occupy World

The movement that began as a protest in New York City spread quickly across the United States and now, the world. People are protesting in London, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and Rome as a part of Occupy Wall Street.

Organizers of the protests said that there were demonstrations in 951 cities in 82 countries. People protest government cut backs, economic inequality, lack of jobs, and corporate greed. Most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, except in Rome where people began smashing car windows, throwing rocks, and lighting store fronts on fire. Police attempted to stop people with tear gas and 70 people were injured during the protest. The video below shows the Rome protests.

The Wall Street movement was inspired by Spanish protests this summer. These protests against government concerns for financial markets began in May and continued all summer. The Washington Post says that this, in conjunction with the Wall Street movement, helped create the worldwide uproar.

Couresty of CNN

In London, thousands of activists sat outside the London Stock Exchange, but they were told to leave the private property by police. They also gathered outside of St. Paul’s Cathederal, near the financial district, to protest. This blog by NBC documents the protests in London. In Switzerland, the occupy movement took place in Geneva, Bern, and Basel. Some tram lines were closed because there were so many people occupying the streets that they blocked traffic. People also camped out in Zurich, the financial capitol of Switzerland, to urge changes to banks, the government, and financial systems.

It is also interesting to note the differences in media coverage globally. One French writer questions why the French radicals are not joining in the protests. Some German publications are saying the protests will be short-lived while other German papers, such as “Die Welt” marks the protests as anti-capitalist. Several Arab and European news outlets see the protests as relatable to their own. China’s media (which is owned by the government) is not impressed by the protests. Xinhua, a Chinese government news agency, used headlines including, “Occupy Wall Street Protestors Refuse to Leave For Park Cleaning,” and “Wall Street Protestors Stage a Millionaires March.” One article said, “Occupy Wall Street protesters said on Thursday that they plan to stay in Zuccotti park to prevent a park cleaning which is to take place on Friday morning.” This was used as the article’s lead and gives the impression that the protests are against park cleaning, which they clearly are not. The article clarifies (towards the end) that the protests are for government reform. I find it interesting to see how the Wall Street movement is covered differently depending on which country the articles are published in and that it is quickly spreading across the globe.

Cheaper Plane Tickets, Everyone’s Dream…

If you think plane tickets in America are bad, maybe you should move to Europe. Recently in Europe there has been a decline in Airline prices. This is due to the large number of charter companies.

Recently I read an article in Der Spiegel, in which a reporter for Der Spiegel interviewed the CEO of Lufthansa, Christoph Franz. In the article Franz explained why the prices for the large airline company will be falling.  Due to the increase in charter companies and the cheap tickets they can offer, the large Airline Company will have to change their entire business model and entire price structure. Franz also went on to say, “The Budget airlines actually grew less in 2010 than we (Lufthansa) did.”

After reading this article, I did some digging around and found out that ever since the introduction of charter airlines here in America, most charter companies flopped and went bankrupt. However, the market of charter companies in Europe exploded. This is due to the fact that Europeans love to travel. In Europe it is far cheaper to take a charter flight from Point A to Point B. One of the largest charter companies is GermanWings. Who ironically is a subsidiary of Lufthansa.

While reading around on the internet I found a post on Eddy’s Blog.  In the post he talks about how the large airline companies are having to downsize due to the sudden influx of charter companies, which can out price and out sell the larger companies. He then goes on to say that because there are so many charter companies that, unlike the larger companies, can fly to the smaller cities as well as the larger cities. This will eventually drive the prices of the larger companies down to what the charter companies charge for plane tickets. Which after all wouldn’t be a bad thing if you think about it, right?

Keep Your Job in Poland

The German and Polish borders illustrated with their national flags. Picture from Google Images.

Poles are known to be hardworking and efficient people.  Since May of this year, Polish workers haven’t had any restrictions to work in Germany.  The German market opened up to workers in several Eastern European countries.

Between May and August of 2011, only 34,000 Eastern European workers came to Germany for employment.  This is before the restrictions were changed and that number was only 20,000 workers.

Some areas in Germany, such as Lower Saxony, Bavaria, and Hessen are known for low wage jobs with small chances of promotion.  Because Germany was late in opening their borders to outside workers, many Poles went straight to Great Britain and Ireland to search for employment.  Unfortunately, the labor market in both places became competitive and rather tough, so Poles headed to Scandinavia and Switzerland.

Fortunately, Poland has increased wages by five percent and will now cover private medical bills.  Because of this, almost all of the Poles who left their country to find employment in Germany have now gone back to their home country.  Poland’s largest temporary employment agency, Work Express, is no longer sending Polish workers to Germany.  Arthur Ragan from Work Express states, “No one risks stable employment in Poland for temporary work in Germany.”

Motivation to leave Poland is no longer existent. Polish companies are increasing the number of people they’re planning to hire.  The only workers that continue to leave Poland are those who are uneducated and self-employed in the construction or cleaning businesses.  Typically, they go from making two Euros an hour in Poland to four Euros an hour in Germany.

I find it quite startling that the German job market is portrayed in such a negative manner.  I understand that as a country, the people would want jobs to be “reserved” for its nationals, but I also think that it’s essential to give jobs to those who are qualified (even if they’re Polish).

Click here to read a blog about Polish workers in the Netherlands.  (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a blog regarding Polish workers in Germany,  but this blog has a similar message as the Spiegel article.)

The Foie Faux Pas

photo courtesy of James Carrier for

Come July, residents of California will have to cross some borders to satisfy their liver cravings. Why? Because the sunny state is outlawing foie gras and will charge fines of up to $1000 for those who decide not to abide by the new rule.

Well, it isn’t entirely new. The law to ban the silky delicacy was introduced in 2004, but it won’t go into effect for eight more months (eat all the liver you can now!). Again, why? Because animal rights activists are opposed to the force-feeding methods used to produce the dish. And California, despite its conservative governor Schwarzenegger, is known for being on the forefront of socially liberal law, dinner entrees included.

Foie gras, a dish produced from the liver of a fattened goose, is known for its buttery, rich taste and silky-smooth texture and is categorized in the same high-brow class of fancy foods like caviar and escargot. It’s used as the staple ingredient in eight-course meals and it’s used in milkshakes (the latter is quite excellent, from my own experience). If you’re getting hungry, here’s a recipe.

Foie gras is prepared at Animal, a famed California restaurant, photo courtesy of

This specific animal organ has long been controversial. France, the origin and main proponent of the dish, has endured its fair share of dispute for years. Force-feeding has been banned in most European countries, but France has fought to keep this national dish on plates. And according to foie gras experts, without force-feeding, it wouldn’t be possible.

So, what exactly are these ducks and geese enduring that is so awful? The current force-feeding practices involve sticking a tube down their throats to fatten them up with corn-products. After feeding them in this way for a 12-day period, their livers become over-enlarged (read: ready to be served).

Some experts say that their livers return to normal size if the force-feeding is stopped, and therefore the practice really isn’t so bad. Other experts say that the process renders the animals abnormally large, unable to move properly and damages their esophaguses.

Some experts say the feeding doesn’t cause the animals any suffering – in fact, they waddle as fast as they can to the feeding tubes when it’s time to be fed. Other experts site the fact that more than a million geese and ducks die in France each year as a product of force-feeding.

In France, INRA (the French National Institute for Agricultural Research) conducts most of the research on the production of foie gras. Here’s what raises some eyebrows: the research receives 20% of its funding from the Interprofessional Committee for Foie Gras.

In California, PETA has been the leading force in exposing the truth about the delicacy and asking restaurants to stop serving it even before the law goes into action. Here’s what raises some eyebrows: many restaurants say they will continue to serve the dish even after the fines are enforced. They’ll pay the price to remain gourmet.

California is also home to one of two foie gras producers in the U.S. – the other is in New York, and the rest is imported. Perhaps these businesses should take up truffle-hunting or eclair-making if they want to stay in business.

Perhaps animal activists should lighten up – after all, most of the cattle in the U.S. is force-fed, and not too much is being done about that. Perhaps foie gras activists should develop a more humane way to fatten the livers – after all, no one wants witness animal suffering.

Either way, in California, the ducks are in luck.

Oceanic Windmill farms, what will they think of next?

Daily show Talking about EU wind farms

If you would for a moment, take yourself to the realm of the divine imagination where anything can happen. Now start to fill out your visual understanding by providing yourself with a model of earth, specifically its oceans. As you look out across the ocean, you notice vertical white lines seem to be sprouting from the ocean, and on these vertical sticks are mounted propellers. Now that you have exercised your imagination, you have caught up with certain EU engineers who have essentially planted windmills in the ocean to generate energy for cities. But don’t worry, if you haven’t imagined such a thing as offshore wind farms you are in the same boat as the US.

These offshore wind farms offer the potential of trillions of watts of untapped energy being transmitted to our shoreline and inland cities everyday. It will be interesting to see how quickly these places turn into political capital as…

Pioneering farms in the EU and China have already begun to harvest a small fraction of this power, and these nations have made large investments in capturing even more.

Early success in offshore wind farms are affording the EU enough energy to provide for even more magnificent projects, enough so that they could potentially suppy a continents energy needs. The implications of continental energy being afforded without fossil fuels being burned are astounding!

Machines powering other machines 🙂

Interestingly enough

While EU nations and corporations have worked together to build dozens of successful wind farms off their coastal shores, the United States has produced exactly zero so far. This is in spite of about 21% of the world’s wind energy being produced in the US. Look at a list of the world’s top 25 onshore wind projects and the USA is dominating. Look at the same list for offshore sites and we don’t even appear. Despite the great similarity between the two types of renewable energy resources, the US is lagging years behind the EU.

Nysted Wind Farm in Denmark

Early reports on the recently built wind farms have been successful. In fact Europe is considering the option of exponentially expanding these energy farms. One of my only questions is why people aren’t working together in order to a grid-like energy lattice network to power the world off the energy of the world. These mills smell of sea-salt and opportunity, so lets dive in and see what happens…………….ahhhh! shaaaaaaaaaaaaaark!

quotes from singularity hub bloggers/discussers

Finland Celebrates Failure

The creator of this beloved game is a major supporter of Failure Day.

According to Finns, failure is a reminder of success.  Well as they began to celebrate the second annual failure day on Thursday, October 13th, it was this idea that they hoped Finnish people would adopt.  The day was created to be a stimulant for people taking risks.

Finland is a risk averse country and their economy is not doing too well at the moment. So, to stimulate growth, the government decided to host an annual National Failure Day.  The organizers said that this day was created to highlight Finland’s needs, in this case, thousands of new businesses and over 200,000 new jobs.  To help create publicity and support for the day, famous risk-taking Finns such as Nokia’s chair of the board of directors Jorma Ollila, Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio Mobile, which created the addicting mobile game Angry Birds, and Finland’s men’s ice hockey coach, Jukka Jalone showed their support for the day.  They also shared their stories of failure and shared how failure motivated their success.

Finland’s government cites fear of failure as the number one cause for not starting a Finnish company.  “The most important thing is to keep trying. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes don’t. Our basic attitude at Rovio is that we’re good in learning,” says Peter Vesterbacka.  This is the philosophy the day suggests.  Universities, people and businesses in Finland have embraced this day and its success is attributed to the inspirational marketing campaign.  Oddly enough, considering the holiday is called national FAILURE day, the day adopts a supportive and inspiring nature.

I think the day is possibly titled wrong because it is not failure Finland is seeking, but rather risk.  I would rather have the day named something positive, as this would not highlight the major fears of the Finnish people.  As a student at the university, hearing speakers’ perceptions of failure and accounts of catastrophic disappointment would be quite grim.  I agree with the concept but in the future (flag day by 2020 is the goal), I would consider a rethinking of the name.

Caffeine culture: Austria’s Red Bull creates its own extreme world


Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t the only extreme American icon to come out of Austria. As is turns out, Red Bull, the first and most popular energy drink, also has Austrian origins.

Since it was first sold in Austria in 1987, the brand has moved into global markets in over 160 countries and obtained almost 50 percent of the energy drink market share with approximately four billion cans consumed each year.

The energy drink claims to enhance users’ mental and physical performance through a combination of natural and added ingredients, including taurine, glucuronolactone, caffeine, B vitamins, sucrose and glucose. The brand’s only major problem is that the drink doesn’t taste very good.

Now you may be wondering, how did Red Bull become so popular? The answer is that the company has created its own young, active culture — “the World of Red Bull,” as its commercials claim — to surround the brand. Red Bull has used this culture to pound their message into the heads of youth all over the world: To be active you need energy, so guzzle our caffeinated drink.

Red Bull makes it clear that no matter your lifestyle, Red Bull helps you do what you need to do better by enhancing your energy, strength, concentration, and alertness. Whether you’re an athlete who wants to up his or her performance in extreme sports, a student who needs to do some extreme studying, or a professional that wants to breeze through the work day, Red Bull is for you.

Red Bull’s key to success has been to create a truly extreme culture to surround the brand. Those who drink Red Bull don’t just use a brand; they live an extreme lifestyle in one way or another, and Red Bull makes that possible.

Let’s say you’re a young person, and you ask, “How do I know Red Bull aligns with the type of activities I like to do?” As could be expected, the brand advertises their extreme message and culture using sports heroes as spokespeople. But the company has also taken their marketing to the next level by Red Bull sponsoring all kinds of sports and recreational activities that appeal to this young crowd:
• it sponsors air racing, extreme sports teams and soccer teams internationally.
• it sponsor seven more types of sports teams in Austria.
• it has its own culture website with dance, music and film related to Red Bull.


Red Bull has even created its own publications and shows for all of the major media platforms, including television, magazines, blogs, videos on the web, and a handful of interactive websites. Red Bull Media House—the brand’s subsidiary media company—coordinates the company’s media efforts to promote Red Bull-infused lifestyles, sports and entertainment.

If anything, Red Bull’s marketing mantra would have to be: extreme marketing for an extreme lifestyle.

“Red Bull gives you wings.”

Written by: Jamie Tanner and Claire Taylor

Tour a destroyed nuclear power plant

In early 1986 an event occurred at Державне спецiалiзоване пiдприємство “Чорнобильська АЕС” that would forever change nuclear energy. During a system test, reactor number 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant had a major disaster, the worst of its time and the worst on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

Now 25 years later, life has not returned to Chernobyl. Located in Pripyat, Ukraine, the town is now part of a zone of alienation where no one can inhabit. Only wild animals grace the land, with nothing but abandoned buildings and clean up workers, but this is changing.

Tourists are now allowed into the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Think for a moment about radioactivity caused by nuclear disaster. Nuclear radioactivity taints objects that are exposed to it. These tainted objects then interact with other objects and essentially corrupt the atoms holding things together. Consider the recent events with the Japanese nuclear reactors melting down. There are those in the world who stopped trading with them because they thought their food or other objects may be carying that same radioactivity which inevitably leads to cell-mutation more commonly known as cancer.

“The Chernobyl zone is not as scary as the whole world thinks,” said spokeswoman Yulia Yurshova. “We want to work with big tour operators and attract Western tourists, from whom there is great demand.”

Chernobyl as a tourist zone has quite an interesting unfolding of events. They are trying to take something, which in the past has been known as a sad and destructive event, and turning it into something people can make money off. As a tourist you would be paying money to give yourself cancer. This world is strange indeed.

The tour is a sign of different cultures. Western tourists want to see a major disaster site.

To enter, tourists must sign extensive waivers and are then driven at “breakneck speed.”

“Let’s leave now, it is very dangerous to be here,” Vita Polyakova, a tour guide, told a group including The Sunday Telegraph last week. “There are huge holes in the sarcophagus covering the reactor,” she added, in a tone that suggested she was not joking.

Let’s leave indeed, as we find our bodies breaking down slowly and sickness reaching out to greet us, maybe we should think about where we lead people and their bodies.

Co-writer Dakota Dillon

Roger Federer’s Switzerland

With more than 9 million facebook page likes and his own profile page on IMDb, Roger Federer has become more than a tennis genius, but also a world icon. In addition to Federer’s official website, numerous fan websites of Federer have been set up by his followers. At any given moment,  over 44,000 people are talking about the Swiss tennis player on facebook.

While the world follows the star, Federer generates Swiss-red waves all over the world. Federer might have become the new symbol of Switzerland after the Swiss Army knife. If that’s the “Federer Effect” in the world, what is the “Federer Effect” back home in Switzerland?

Credit: USA Today

But their love for Federer didn’t come overnight. Roger Federer didn’t become popular until after a phenomenal  2003 season. That was the season in which he first won his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon. This was the win that propelled him from a good tennis player to tennis star. This stardom brought along the large fan base in his home country of Switzerland. The Swiss people love him so much that they let him carry the Swiss flag at the Athens Olympic’s in 2004. Federer has won 16 Grand Slam titles, Olympic gold in doubles, and he has been named season champion 5 times.

In 2007, Federer became the first living person to feature on a Swiss stamp, and his first plaque or statue was set up on the day after Federer won the 2009 French Open. It was also decided that Basel’s (Federer’s hometown) international tennis venue would be renamed the Roger Federer Arena. More and more children have started picking up tennis racket.

Fans created “Map of Roger Federer’s Switzerland” which marks the places in Switzerland that Federer is related to. For example, his birthplace in Münchenstein or even his wife Mirka’s parents’ house in Schaffhausen.

Co-writer: Devin Robinett

Greenland – over the seas and far away?

Copyright All rights reserved by jeff_shared_images @ Flickr

Do you know anything about Kalaallit Nunaat, land of greenlanders, besides cold? This is the biggest island in the world, and in German it’s called Grönland rather than Grünland, in Danish, Grønland. It’s an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Although it’s called Greenland, only one small part is covered with Vegetation. The name originated from a Norwegian-pirate who explored the northern part of the globe. He found a small green area in the south of Greenland and named it after it.

Copyright All rights reserved by roger.lipsett @ Flickr

Greenland is an island of ice, there are lots of different glaciers in the island. The most part of this island is unsuitable for people to live, its freezing cold. With a population of 56,615 living in 2,166,086 km2 (836,330 sq mi), it is one of the least densely populated dependencies or countries in the world. Even though, there is also a university, which is called The University of Greenland, (Kalaallisut: Ilisimatusarfik)

Copyright All rights reserved by @ flickr

People would ask, what can we do in Greenland, besides seeing the ice. Actually there is a lot to do. Most people here have an Inuit Origin, and the Inuit culture is well preserved here and you can explore the culture of Greenlanders. You can watch the Midnight sun, arctic wildlife; you can climb the mountain, fish at sea, etc. There are various activities you can do here; for more details please see things to do in Greenland.

I really thought, people in Greenland would be smart and knowledgable in terms of surviving in a natural uncivilized land, because they know how to survive in the ice cold weather. They are able to build igloos and know how to hunt, know a way of life that civilized people in Europe, America and Asia would not know anymore. I thought it is more of an ancient culture, that still exists and yes – it is. Trying to be civilized, too. They have internet, a University, and everything that makes up a civilized society.

Nontheless, alcohol is the best friend of people in the northern sphere to keep them warm, however, too much alcohol will cause problems. Surprisingly, I found out that Greenlanders have a lot of social problems going on in their country. According to wikipedia, the abuse of alcohol is a widespread cause of illness. Most crimes, such as assault and homicide are done under the influence of alcohol. That’s probably the reason, why many students are thinking about leaving Greenland, because social problems ruin the country. Only 2 percent of students actually attain a university degree.

Kirsten Berngaard is a psychiatrist on the East coast of Greenland. She says that the consum of alcohol, the lack of a sense of responsibility, and the problematic jobmarket are the main reasons why people do not want to survive this life and commit suicide. Greenland has a high suicide rate, probably the 3rd highest in the world. Not only the alcohol consum is part of the problem but adding to that, also the rate of sexual abuse is really high. Every 3rd girl in Greenland is sexually abused. The problems are really hard to solve. Greenlanders do not talk about problems and feelings. Berngaard states, that you could sit with a Greenlander for 30 minutes without saying a word, because they are really uncommunicative. Also, the education at home is lacking. Parents let their children do whatever they want, there is no control over them. According to UNICEF every sixth child suffers from malnutrition and goes to bed and school hungry social problems.

Greenland – even though it is governed by Denmark – seems like a third world country with a lot of problems going on. Who would have thought that?

Co-written with annirdmn

French Fries Aren’t French

Did you know that french fries are actually from Belgium, not France? French fries, or Belgium fries, are actually an important part of Belgium culture. They began in the late 1700s when people began frying potatoes during cold winters when they could not catch enough fish. The name, “french fries,” was coined during World War I when American soldiers ate fried potatoes from Belgian soldiers. The language of the Belgian army was French so they started calling them french fries. Today, they are often eaten as a side dish to a meal and fried on street corners and topped with mayonnaise.

Belgium, as a federal state, has three communities, three regions, and three national languages. It is interesting to know that there is no centralized government in this country, however, the French fries– Belgian national dish – are considered the country’s national symbol. A retired professor from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts states: “Belgium doesn’t have a national symbol, there’s no Eiffel Tower, but we have frites.” Moreover, the recent movement called Fries Revolution (Frietrevolutie) chose Fries as the symbol of their protest and demonstrated that the french fries keeps this country together, as the following video-clip clearly claims:

The Belgians take a lot of pride in their fries. So much, in fact, that they decided to open a museum dedicated to fries! The Frietmuseum opened in May in Bruges, Belgium. According to their website, they prefer that you call “french fries” Belgian potato fries instead. The museum includes a complete history of the Belgian fry as well as giant fry sculptures! Of course, there are fries to eat too.

Americans have made french fries a huge part of their culture by pairing them with an American hamburger or cheeseburger. McDonald’s sells 2.736 billion pounds of french fries ever year, but they are quite different than Belgian fries. They are highly-processed and often pre-made by freezing the fries and then cooking them – far from the quality of fresh cut potatoes in Belgium! Belgians also prefer to use a specific type of potato native to Belgium called a bintje. Their fries are also about three times thicker than a McDonald’s fry. In the U.S., fries are usually paired with ketchup instead of mussels or mayonnaise. So maybe french fries are a part of American culture, but certainly not in the same way they are a part of Belgian culture. Belgians take pride in their fries while Americans just seem to enjoy eating their rendition of the frites.

Co-Written By Jinsong.

You can’t miss Pivo in Czech Republic

Which countries come to your mind when I say beer? I hope Czech Republic is one of them. Pivo, which means beer in Czech, is loved by Czechs because of its great taste. The Czech Republic is one of the countries where beer sales per person is the highest. And there are more than 120 breweries in the country.

Many Czechs say that the reason for that is the high quality of hop in Czech Republic, which is one of the major beer ingredients. Their hop is exported to a lot of countries in the world.

Pilsner Urquell image from

Among many Czech beer brands, Pilsner Urquell and Budejovicky Budvar are famous Czech beer brands. Pilsner Urquell, the first pilsen type beer in the world, is a classic Czech Pilsner beer. Because Pilsner Urquell beer contains more hop than many other beer companies, it’s famous for its bitter taste. Using Pilsner glass is recommended to keep the beer bubble when you drink beer.

Budejovicky Budvar image from

Budejovicky Budvar is the third largest beer producer in Czech Republic. An interesting thing about this company is that they haven’t changed their original way of brewing.

A beer brewery in Prague, image from

Czechs, who love beer, try their best to keep improving their beer. There’s a school where students learn how to brew beer! During the 4-year-long program, students who major in beer brewing, not just learn how to brew good beer. They also learn basic principles about how beer is made through chemistry experiments. There’s a small brewery in the school where they brew beer monthly. They can taste their beer at any time at school. It seems that students and teachers in this school, which has around 150 years of history, have great pride in their beer brewing education.

The street view of U'Fleku, the oldest brewery in Prague

The Czech Republic is also known across Europe for their dark lagers, offered standard at most establishments.  Some people refer to this as a “Black” beer (in German, known as “Schwarzbier) because of how dark the brew appears in a glass.  Czech dark lagers generally range between 4 and 5% alcohol by volume and are often a flavorful beer with a bit of sweetness to the taste.  Although it may look like a stout beer like Guinness, Czech black beer is contrarily a lighter and very drinkable beer.  Many of these brews come in seasonal flavors reminiscent of chocolate or coffee, definitely playing up the sweetness of the lager.  The oldest and most popular dark beer in the Czech Republic is called U Fleku’s ‘Flek’ dark beer and is solely available at U Fleku’s restaraunt and brewery in the heart of Prague.  U Fleku’s, founded in 1499, is said to be the oldest brewery in Prague.  So, if you find yourself in the Czech Republic, be certain that you try a dark lager or black beer, and if you’re in Prague, definitely hit U Fleku’s brewery up for a tour, beer tasting and leisurely meal.  It’s tradition!

Co-written with Shelby Rudolph

Wales to Bump Booze out of Media?


"liquor-table" courtesy of octal on Flickr

Alcohol companies in Wales spend 800 million Euros annually for marketing, and some groups in Wales are concerned about the message that this sends to youth, and how it could influence rates of binge drinking. To address the issue, Alcohol Concern Cymru is recommending regulated alcohol price increases, that producers be prohibited from sponsoring sports teams, and that their advertisements be banned from television and radio where the proportion of under-18 viewers or listeners is at least 10% of the audience.

And Health Minister Lesley Griffith agrees that the government should enact heavy restrictions, saying, “We would like to see the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol, and we also believe the advertising of alcohol should be much more restricted, with consideration given to a complete ban.”

In Wales it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 consume alcohol, the exception being that someone over 18 can order a beer or a glass of wine at a restaurant for someone who is at least 16. (Click here for more information about alcohol laws in the UK.)

Countries throughout Europe have banned certain aspects of alcohol marketing, but Alcohol Concern Cymru seems to be steering Wales into the footsteps of France, which has some of the strictest regulations in Europe. There you won’t find a single alcohol ad on television or the internet, and alcohol producers are forbidden from sponsoring sports teams.  In Sweden, advertising is only allowed for class 1 drinks, which mostly just includes light beer.

The United States seems to be less concerned about alcohol marketing, which is not regulated by government, although television advertising of tobacco products is prohibited by law. The reason for the lack of government regulation is perhaps due to careful self-regulation by the industry. As a standard, alcohol ads are not placed in media where more than 30% of the audience is below the legal drinking age, which is 21 years old.

Not everyone agrees that stricter regulations are necessary—certainly not the alcohol industry. The Portman Group, an association of some of the largest alcohol producers in the UK, thinks that alcohol marketing regulations are sufficient and sufficiently enforced, and believes that targeting advertising is misguided. “We have to get past this myth once and for all that exposure to alcohol marketing causes children to drink,” a Portman Group spokesperson said, adding that youth alcohol consumption in Wales is no higher than it’s been in the past. In fact, she claimed that official figures have shown “levels of alcohol consumption and misuse have been in decline in Wales for at least five years and this has been achieved without any intervention on price or availability.”

The Portman Group has launched several responsible drinking campaigns in the past, including providing 5 million Euros annually to the independent charity Drink Aware. Links to the Drink Aware website are included on all advertisements published by members of the association.

Co-written by Olivia Marsh.