My own kids were with me in Berlin when Germany was reunited, and they were with me in Moscow when the Soviet Union collapsed. We talked about these things at the dinner table, at their schools, with their friends.
Soccer is a great game, and the rich variety of styles and passions that come with being truly global makes the World Cup a nonpareil event in the universe of competitive sport.
The art of reading between the lines is as old as manipulated information.
Our daily life is filled with electronic pianos, ring tones, the disembodied voice giving you your bank balance over the telephone. Even silence can be electronic, courtesy of sound-canceling headphones.
A history of perceived humiliation, after all, lurks behind many acts of terror. And competing narratives of victimhood and insults sustain conflicts in the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East and many other regions.
The fall of the Berlin Wall is very much a sequel, a continuation of the story about Eastern Europe emerging from war and Communism. The notion of presenting history as a story also appealed to me very much, since that is the way I look at the events I cover as a reporter.
Recorded engine sounds, however, are a deliberate deception. They're like going to a concert and listening to a recording. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind buying a BMW recording and installing it in my '96 Jeep Cherokee.
Buyers of powerful cars place a high premium on the exhaust note, and manufacturers spend a lot of money getting it right. At the same time, high-end cars are expected to filter out the sounds of the mundane world.
Bus routes reach the most obscure corners of Paris. There's also the Metro - and especially the great Line No. 1, which runs on tires under the Champs-Elysees and beyond.
Parisians overwhelmingly buy small cars. And it's not because people are petite, but because fuel is drop-dead expensive. Gasoline costs more than twice as much in Paris as in New York.
What Paris has done right is to make it awful to get around by car and awfully easy to get around by public transportation or by bike.
The lesson for the next U.S. president: Raise the taxes on fuel. A lot.
Back when George W. Bush was identifying his Axis of Evil, it struck me that a longer and more instructive list could be compiled of the Axis of the Humiliated (or Insulted and Injured, to borrow from Dostoevsky).
Like many a Yank before me, I have tried to explain to European friends that Americans actually know soccer quite well, that many of us played it in school and college, but that, well, we just don't find it quite as exciting as, say, what we call football.
Newspaper reporting is really storytelling. We call our articles 'stories,' and we try to tell them in a way that even people who don't know all the background can understand them.
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