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united-nations:

Monday is International Day of Democracy!

This year’s theme - Engaging Young People on Democracy - highlights the challenges and opportunities of young people engaging in democratic processes.
For more information, visit: http://www.un.org/en/events/democracyday/


This year’s theme is yet again one I can wholeheartedly support. I’ve posted about democracy education two years ago here. 

united-nations:

Monday is International Day of Democracy!

This year’s theme - Engaging Young People on Democracy - highlights the challenges and opportunities of young people engaging in democratic processes.

For more information, visit: http://www.un.org/en/events/democracyday/

This year’s theme is yet again one I can wholeheartedly support. I’ve posted about democracy education two years ago here

Sunday Smack

Happy Sunday Everybody!

I was down with a terrible cold most of this week, which made me delay the launch of one new feature to the blog. But, better late than never, right? I’ll work on it next week.

Hope you can take time to check out this week’s post while doing your Sunday things. :)

The Legality of ISIS Air Strikes Under International Law

While John Kerry continues his campaign to collect supporters for the cause, this is a great post about the alternatives of making bombing Syria look like it was legal. 

The NATO Summit’s Most Important Outcome (Maybe)

Just the post I was missing last weekend. I think it is unquestionable that the decision on this new rapidly deployable force is the most important decision of the summit, what is still unclear is whether it means anything for this ongoing crisis in Ukraine or it is only to prevent future incidents in the region.

ICC: Request for investigation into alleged Hamas war crimes

The ICC has indeed no jurisdiction over Palestine yet, but for how long? Everybody thought it is Palestine’s main interest to join the Rome Statute ASAP when the state was recognized by the UN almost two years ago.

Hungary: Opposition MPs await Strasbourg judgement on parliamentary disruption human rights complaint

Just the country I live in… ECHR’s decision is due next week.

"The black Dell laptop found in an Islamic State safe house inside Syria not only contains instructions forhow to weaponize the bubonic plague, it also includes thousands of files that provide a window into how would-be jihadists become radicalized, and how they learn to carry out their deadly craft.”

There’s also evidence that Muhammed has a sweet tooth: The laptop contains recipes for baking a cake, making banana mousse, and for the preparation of caramel.He even kept some screen shots of a music playlist he listened to in January 2010, which included the songs of Celine Dion, as well as Shaggy’s "Hey Sexy Lady.”

So, once a Celine Dion fan, soon an extreme jihadist. Wonder if there is a correlation…

But jokes aside, this just points out the most scary part about the so called radicalization. These guys live among us acting totally normal one day, and the next day they are out there in a desert beheading people. Inexplicable, really.

united-nations:


8 September is International Literacy Day!
The theme this year is “Literacy and Sustainable Development”. Literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development, as it empowers people so that they can make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration.
Learn more at: http://j.mp/QoqjYL

united-nations:

8 September is International Literacy Day!

The theme this year is “Literacy and Sustainable Development”. Literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development, as it empowers people so that they can make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration.

Learn more at: http://j.mp/QoqjYL

Sunday Smack

Hey, everybody!

Other than the event-of-the-week NATO summit, the Ukrainian truce agreement was the other major news these past days. You will find that neither was covered by my favorite bloggers yet (well, bloggers need days off too…). I am planning to do a post about the NATO summit myself that I didn’t get around to edit yet, so I certainly get that.

And just a quick service announcement: I should have announced it in a separate post, but I forgot (well after a near heart attack when I almost deleted the whole blog by accident… yeah, don’t ask…).

So, you might have noticed that I have enabled Disqus comments on posts, so now you can comment on everything, as I hope you will. Let me know what you think!

Ban Says UN Troops Are Safe, Needed to Quash Ebola Unrest

Most of us can choose not to go anywhere near the Ebola outbreak. But there are those who can’t. Like UN peacekeepers.

Double standard: UN on Iraq-ISIS vs. UN on Israel-Hamas

That’s one way to look at this.

European Court of Human Rights Takes on Extraditions to the U.S.: Trabelsi v. Belgium

A very delicate question once again with a controversial ECHR decision. I don’t doubt that criminals have human rights, as everybody does. This guy was in the belief that his term was coming to an end, when he got extradited with the prospect of lifelong inprisonment. But, really, 60 000 EUR?! The guy is a possible terrorist, who was plotting to kill masses of people and now he is granted 60 000 EUR for it. I am not saying I know the right answer in this case, probably no one does, but I still find it a little problematic, even if he never gets the money.

Today is the International Day of Charity!

"Charity plays a significant role in the work of the United Nations and its agencies. On this International Day, I call on people everywhere to act on the charitable impulse that resides in every human being — to start giving and to keep on giving."

/Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon/  Read the full message here.

This one is the second International Day of Charity, observed since 2013 on the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death. Click the picture to learn more.

The history of NATO in 80 seconds via BBC.

US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron wrote this opinion piece in today’s Times ahead of the NATO summit kicking off today in Newport, Wales.

The article is available to read in full on Prime Minister Cameron’s Facebook page. Check it out!

(…) the Russian government had not been providing weapons, such as T-72 tanks which the MP insisted came from Hungary, to separatists and also had nothing to do with the current state of Ukraine.

This is interesting because there were news about T-72s being delivered to the Czech Republic from Hungary last week, but not for Ukraine by any means. That doesn’t mean it cannot be true. Last week the Hungarian Ministry of Defence denied that Hungary has any role in arming Ukrainian government forces. That of course does not mean it cannot be true either.

Just when I write a post about how great my August was, I come across this. Check the link, it really is interesting, but then let’s all stay positive!

We are an open, tolerant and free nation. But we cannot stand by and allow our openness to be confused with a tolerance of extremism.
British Prime Minister David Cameron today addressing the House of Commons
Monthly Matters

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Doing:

Being outdoors really. I work in an air conditioned office building where it is hard to even notice the changing of seasons. So usually I can’t wait to get out, breath some fresh air, and have some fun! I had some of it this August (not nearly enough, though), in the form of late night walks, short trip on the country-side while at home in Nagykálló, even a Danube cruise-trip.

Learning:

I have already written about Learning How To Learn, I took the 4-week course throughout August and it was so much fun. Highly recommended! Besides that, I was also working on my Spanish, just a bit every day. For that I will need to find a routine and also some people I can practice speaking with. Any volunteers here?

Reading:

I have been reading Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices. I am going slowly with it, since I only read a couple of pages every other night. It is such a huge  and heavy book that I cannot drop in my handbag to be able to read while traveling or something. It is really good, though! I have been reading for Learning How To Learn, Barbara Oakley’s A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra), it’s a great one I most definitely recommend whether you have a mind for numbers or not. While on a short summer holiday after our national holiday on the 20th, I have read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I am afraid I am not in the targeted age group of the book, but I was really curious about its huge success. I’m telling you it is a must read, should be prescribed against excessive sense of self-importance, surely helps putting one’s problems in perspective.

Meeting:

My family! I had a chance to spend half a week at home again in August that turned out to be really good. Summer is my favorite time to spend at home!

Planning:

New things for this blog! You will see some new recurring features like this monthly round-up of my favorite things. Other than this, I have some on-topic ideas for blogging more about world affairs. I hope you’ll like them!

Watching:

This month I finally got around to finish most of my favorite TV shows from last season, just in time for the new seasons to start. Recently I binge watch Hart of Dixie, and I haven’t finish the second season of House of Cards yet, either. I can’t wait for Scandal and The Good Wife to return, and there will also be a bunch of new shows that seem worthy of following, like this one from the creators of Scandal. 

Listening:

My running playlist (i.e. what I listen to when going for a run) consists of La Oreja de Van Gogh and Mariah Carey songs these days. I am listening to LODVG for language learning reasons. Obviously. :) But I love them so much! Besides their latest live album, I have this and this and this on repeat currently. And of course the latest Mariah Carey album! Regardless of the rumours about her personal life (for a) I don’t read tabloids and b) it has nothing to do with her music too) I can’t wait for the European leg of her tour to be announced! Probably it’s only going to happen in the first months of 2015, but still, I put all my traveling plans on hold until this announcement.

Capturing:

I finally launched my Instagram account recently. I read an article about instagrammers who have a huge mass of followers and how much time they spend on making picture-perfect scenery out of everything around them. I don’t really have that kind of time, so if you are on Instagram, feel free to follow me, but note that if I don’t post for long I am not dead or something, it is just not very high up on my priority list (to say the least).

That being said, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite moments of August in pictures:

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Sunset from the window of my room in Nagykálló. I miss this view every day.

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Then took a cruise trip to Szentendre on a Sunday.

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Budapest sightseeing by boat when we got back. The Parliament looks spectacular from the Danube!

Hope you enjoyed, see you in a month!

Sunday Smack

Happy weekend everybody! And happy long weekend to all my readers from the US! I should say happy last weekend of summer, but it just doesn’t sound right… :)

As always, I have ambiguous feelings this time of the year. Summer being my favorite season, I want it to last forever (I know, I should move someplace warm…), and at the same time I am excited for new things and things freshening up with fall approaching.

Speaking of new things, I will be introducing some new features of the blog this coming week, I can’t wait to share them with you all.

In the meantime, enjoy my weekly round-up of favorite blog posts!

Trying to Classify the Conflic in Eastern Ukraine…

Deciding whether it is an international or an internal conflict is rather important in terms of what actions are applicable, whlie many are still avoiding simply labeling this conflict as a ‘war’.

Syria, Lybia and the Challenge of Intervention

What kind of intervention would be effective in the fight against IS, where, and when? Can we apply old practices here or all we know is whatever we do, anything can happen?

Kerry Leading Coalition Drive to Confront Islamic State

Meanwhile Secretary Kerry and the Obama aministration are working hard to recruit partners for a military intervention in Syria.

What the Gaza deal (really) means for Hamas and Izrael

For how long will this deal guarantee peace for the people of Gaza this time is the real question here. Also on the ECFR blog I recommend this post of comparing the number of casualties in Gaza and Syria. This infographic is really worth taking a look.

micdotcom:

Russia is invading Ukraine as we speak — but is it war? 

Soldiers, tanks and artillery are crossing the border from Russia; many, apparently, are joining forces with pro-Russian separatists. “There are active soldiers fighting among us who preferred to spend their vacation not on the beach, but with us, among their brothers, who are fighting for their freedom,” separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko said on Russian television. “There have been around 3,000-4,000 of them in our ranks.”
But the U.S. is avoiding the term “war” | Follow micdotcom

micdotcom:

Russia is invading Ukraine as we speak — but is it war? 

Soldiers, tanks and artillery are crossing the border from Russia; many, apparently, are joining forces with pro-Russian separatists. “There are active soldiers fighting among us who preferred to spend their vacation not on the beach, but with us, among their brothers, who are fighting for their freedom,” separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko said on Russian television. “There have been around 3,000-4,000 of them in our ranks.”

But the U.S. is avoiding the term “war” Follow micdotcom

How I am Learning How To Learn

Being a lawyer, constant learning is a basic feature of my job, and I also consider learning a hobby, so I never really stopped learning ever since I have hit school many-many years ago.

I have written here about MOOCs already, and I am also planning to write about the courses I have taken yet, but right now I would like to recommend one particular course, that I am taking on Coursera, which is the best MOOC platform out there currently in my opinion.

Up until recently I only took legal courses, that one way or another relate to my profession. A few weeks ago I spotted this course which was just about to start, titled Learning How To Learn. Since I am constantly seeking methods and techniques to polish my skills to be able to be more creative and learn more effectively, I thought this was just for me. The instructors of the course refer to it as a user’s manual to your brain, offering insights into how your brain works and reacts, and how you can get the best out of it while learning. And I am telling you, although I became pretty familiar with the literature about learning over the years, this one was as useful as it could be. I am more convinced than ever that these things should be taught at school prior to anything else.

This post is actually an assignment I am doing for the course, so special greetings to my “MOOC-mates” who came by to peer grade my work. Hope you’ll like it. :)

For the assignment, I will have to share three of the key course topics with all of you. It is hard to choose but three, I would share the whole course with everybody if I could, but I hope this short teaser will get you interested in Learning How To Learn anyway.

  • The first idea I would like to call your attention to is having a planner/journal/notebook. This is something I have been practicing for a long time now, I have a notebook with me all the time to write things in it.  At work actually my notebook is much of an institution, knowing most about my job it is almost more important part of the team than I am. :) First of all, writing things down makes what you learn more permanent. Not just because you can find it later, but many scientists proved that the motion of handwriting itself activates parts of your brain important in learning, that are not actived while typing. Also, if you have a planner or whatever you call it, writing task lists is another great thing to do. Now I am sort of a time management nerd. The thing is I have an intellectually demanding job that I love so much that sometimes I spend time with it even past working hours, but then I have a passion for learning, and a lot of other things I love to do, and fortunately I also have friends for whom I need time, so 24 hours of one day just never seem enough for me. These written task lists are a great help to organize your day and make your work more efficient. It was emphasized in the course that the best we can do, is to write these daily task lists the night before, and again, handwriting is important. This way your brain will start working even without you knowing it while you are asleep.

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  • One of the key techniques for more efficient learning is the Pomodoro technique. Again, time management is crucial for me, and this technique is really helpful in preventing procrastination thus keeping you from wasting your own time. It is called the Pomodoro technique after the old fashioned kitchen timer shaped like a “pomodoro” which is Italian for tomato. So the technique is basically setting the timer for 25 minutes and devote those 25 minutes to focusing solely on whatever you have to learn or do. For 25 minutes then you have to shut down every disturbing factor (social media, e-mail notifications, telephone, etc.), and focus on nothing but your work. Focusing on the process instead of the product is important if you want to avoid procrastinating (which you tend to do when you think you have no time to finish anyway). It is also important to reward yourself after every “Pomodoro” - like I am now going to spend 25 minutes writing this assignment, then allow myself to check my Messenger quickly. The 25 minutes can also vary, it can be 22 minutes or 28 for you, more, or less, however you feel like. You can use this technique whether you have to learn something, do an assignment, write something, or sometimes I even use it when doing different chores.

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  • The third thing I think sounds pretty obvious to a lot of us, but I have never used it consciously before in learning. And what a shame really, I could have done much better if I did! Both the focused and diffuse modes of thinking are important part of the learning process. It means that every now and then after a certain period of focused moded learning we should consciously switch into diffuse mode - like meditate, go for a walk, listen to music, or just go to sleep (which is the ultimate diffuse mode). Our brain continues working and we can get great ideas and solve problems while in diffuse mode. The most important lesson out of all this for me is remembering how I wasted my own time a lot of times concentrating even when I was too tired to learn anything. Should I have known it would have been more useful to just let my mind relax, I would have been much better off at exams too. Our attention was especially called to the importance of sleep, because while sleeping our brain works: cleans out the poisonous non-information and builds in the important material learnt before. I have always known that sleeping well enough before an exam is important, just never imagined how much.

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These were some of my favorite topics, to learn more about learning, check out this great TEDx talk of our professor, Barbara Oakley, where she briefly touches some of the main topics of the course.

She also has a great book about learning called A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra). Now believe me, my mind is for everything in the world, except for numbers, and I still love the book very much. The author herself emphasizes, that the book is for everybody, not just learners of math and science.

Last, I would like to share my favorites from the recommended readings of the course. These are some very good articles, I hope you’ll check them out.

So, this is it about Learning How To Learn in brief. I hope I got you all interested. If it is so, the good news is that they already announced the new session in October! Starting October 3, this four-week course is really worth every effort! It surely can change your perspective about learning and make you more effective in it!