In this week’s edition of Magazine: weddings held under water, chapels by the motorway, renaming rivers, thieves stealing entire bridges, Czech technology helping the disabled use computers and the most absent Czech MP…
This weekend will see the Czech Republic’s first ever wedding held under water. The wedding will take place in the city of Brno and not only the bride and groom, but also around 20 guests will don breathing apparatus and watch the event under water. Other guests will stay above the water, watching the event on a big screen by the pool. The wedding has required those participating to undergo basic underwater training, with the bride noting that she started in a garden pool, before moving on to more professional surroundings. Other underwater weddings have been held in the country before, but always followed a proper ceremony above water - thus this is the first in which the happy couple will officially tie the knot under water.
And staying with unusual locations, the first ever motorway chapel opened in the country this week near the city of Plzeň. It is a concrete rectangular box-like structure placed right next to the D5 motorway, which has a clearly identifiable cross on its walls and can house up to 20 people. Those behind the project hope that drivers can use it to stop, pray and contemplate before completing their motorway journey. Germany has 28 of them, but this is the first time the country has seen such a structure. The actual cost of the building is being kept a closely guarded secret by the 11 companies that financed the project.
How can you get rid of the Berounka? That is a question being asked by many after plans were disclosed by authorities also in the city of Plzeň to rename the famous river, which runs from Plzeň to just outside Prague. The name Berounka reflects the fact that the river runs near the Czech town of Beroun, east of Prague and has had its name since the 17th century. Prior to that, the river was called the Mže, and this is precisely the name that Plzeň authorities would once again like the river to have. Their stance is “why should the river be named according to its end location, not the place from which it originates?” There is a Mže river which becomes the Berounka at Plzeň, something which locals there object to. The plan to change the name of the river is gaining support from both locals and politicians in the area, but as to whether it will actually be renamed – stay tuned.
Police in Moravia are scratching their heads after an audacious robbery near the village of Hrubčice. It seems that several thieves made off with a 13 metre long iron bridge, apparently by sawing it up into pieces and hauling it away. Police are convinced that the thieves plan to sell the metal and estimate the damage caused at 20,000 crowns. The stolen bridge was built in 1956, according to the local authorities and isn’t the only piece of metal being stolen in the village. The mayor has complained that gratings, man-hole covers, even an entire roof have been stolen by unknown culprits in the area. And the problem isn’t just limited to one village. This February, a similar incident happened in the Cheb region in Western Bohemia, while even in Prague, old copper windowsills are being stolen and replaced with cheap imitation ones on an almost daily basis.
A new Czech invention is about to go on sale which will help disabled people use home computers. The device, invented at the cybernetics department of the Czech Technical University will allow people to control computers based on the movement of their eyes. A sensor, attached to the head tracks eye motion and relays that motion to the cursor on the computer monitor. A blink of the eye counts as a click. While similar systems exist in the world, the Czech one prides itself on its comparatively affordable cost – around 38,000 crowns compared with 125,000. Next year, the device will go on sale in the rest of the European Union.
A new study published in the daily Právo has managed to find the Czech Republic’s most absent MP. And the award goes to Social Democrat MP Evžen Snitilý, who has been absent for 64.7% of votes in the lower house and has yet to make a single public address. He is also the only Czech MP to miss a majority of votes in the Czech parliament. At the other end of the scale is the Civic Democrat Jan Morava, who has been absent for only 0.4% of votes. Mr Snitilý gained notoriety earlier this year - and also for his voting record. During the presidential elections, he stunned his party by not voting for their candidate Jan Švejnar in the first round. Later on, the MP collapsed ahead of the final first round vote, leading to all sorts of whispers about potentially corrupt backroom pressure being exerted on the candidate. Following his ultimate backing of the incumbent Civic Democrat president, Mr Snitilý was thrown out of his party’s caucus, but still votes with the Social Democratic party – that is, when he votes, of course.