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Archive for February, 2008

New Holland – Australia

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ew Holland is a historic name for the island continent of Australia. The name was first applied to Australia in 1644 by the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman as Nova Hollandia, naming it after the Dutch province of Holland, and remained in use for over 150 years.

After the establishment of a settlement at New South Wales in 1788, which encompassed the eastern part of the continent, the term New Holland was more often used to refer only to that part of the continent that had not yet been annexed to New South Wales; thus it referred to the area of land that is now Western Australia.

In 1804, Matthew Flinders recommended that the name Australia be adopted in preference to New Holland, but it was not until 1824 that the name change received official sanction by the United Kingdom. In the Netherlands Nieuw Holland would remain the usual name of the continent until the end of the 19th century; it is now no longer in use.

Mumbai uncovered

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resenter Mohini Sule explores the rise of consumerism among Mumbai’s middle class and discovers why an increasing number of young British Asians are travelling to India in search of a better way of life. As the home of Bollywood and the country’s booming television industry, Mumbai’s glamour entices thousands each year. Mohini speaks to the young hopefuls who dream of becoming the next big thing, and asks how faith plays a part in a city driven by ambition and competition.

Freedom of choice

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hoice – the most basic freedom we have. How do our daily decisions affect climate change, poverty, globalisation, our consumption and other people? This moving documentary combines stunning footage and emotive music to take us on a journey through our innermost being and the consequences of the choices we make. Trying to paint an overall picture of the world which we share with the rest of humanity, this movie is an inspiring manifesto for change.

The World according to Google

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oogle is the new center of the world’s growing information pile, an accelerator of knowledge and savvy tool in the digital age. With the slogan “Don’t be evil” as the company’s motto, Google has become the darling of both internet users and the stock exchange; it seems as if Google can do no harm. However, privacy issues rattle the company’s clean image; Google’s fast expansion leads to questions about censorship and information freedom. As a result, more and more Google-users are beginning to question the dominance of Google as the sole information provider of the future. Based on interviews with Google representatives in the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, Backlight offers unique insight into the workings of the largest search engine in the world. Will Google’s digital Library of Alexandria be the answer to all of our questions, or will it give a new meaning to Orwell’s Big Brother?

The art of Spain

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beautifully narrated exploration of Islamic Spain or “Al Andalus” between the 8th and 15th centuries. A period when Jews, Christians and Muslims flourished in trade, science, tolerance and religious freedom whilst the rest of Europe stagnated throughout the Dark Ages. As one of history’s greatest civilizations, Moorish Spain really was, as the presenter describes: paradise on earth. Yet we find little acknowledgment of the profound influence that Al Andalus had on the European Renaissance and the modern age, perhaps reflecting a centuries-old Western prejudice towards Islam.

From the BBC’s website:

For the first time, the BBC devotes an entire series to the history of Spanish art. Critic and art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon travels from southern to northern Spain to tell the story of some of Europe’s most exciting and vital art, which is often overshadowed by that of Italy. The series starts in the south and explores the history of Moorish Spain. In 711, Spain was invaded by Islamic troops from North Africa and the Middle East. For the next 700 years, most of Spain was ruled by Muslims and the country became a largely Islamic state. Under the Muslims, Spain became the most advanced, wealthy and populous country in Europe. The Muslim contribution to Spanish culture was immense. Philosophy, poetry, science, mathematics, art and architecture all made giant leaps forward.

Andrew tells the story of Muslim political and cultural power as he travels from Cordoba to Seville and on to Granada. In these cities beautiful palaces, mosques and gardens were built. Andrew explores the art and architecture of Moorish Spain through classic buildings such as the Great Mosque in Cordoba, the Alcazar in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada. He also explores the debt which both modern Spain and modern Europe owe to Moorish Spain. The Moors were not only keen to develop their minds; they also introduced new foods – including citrus fruits, coffee and numerous herbs and spices – to Spain, together with the technique by which alcohol is produced. In so many ways – from art and philosophy to food and drink – Moorish Spain shaped modern Europe.

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