Why do ethnic conflicts in some parts of the world flare up so easily and spread so fast? Is ethnic hate and intolerance contagious? Researchers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia joined forces to try to find the answers to some of those questions and arrived at some surprising conclusions. I spoke to Associate Professor Michal Bauer, an expert on experimental and behavioral economics at CERGE-EI, who is one of the authors of the study, and began by asking him what motivated the research in this field.
The phenomenon of personal coaching arrived in the Czech Republic a few years ago. The first to jump on the bandwagon were business corporations and politicians in need of grooming. Style coaching, managerial coaching and life coaching have become part of the business environment but as style and life coach Eve Stehliková told me most Czechs still regard it as a passing fad.
The director of a controversial television broadcast featuring the electronic music band Vanessa on Czech TV has told Lidové noviny he quit over the group's behavior, which he said had intended to 'disgust'.The band was recently featured on the show Tečka páteční noci on ČT Art, broadcast live from Czech TV's Brno studio. The group's singer, Samir Hauser, stunned some viewers as well as allegedly some on the production team, when he tried to do a line of cocaine off of a bible or later forced himself to vomit by sticking a finger in his throat. The host of the show downplayed the incident, saying that the drug was fake. He has stood by the broadcast, suggesting the group's behavior was not surprising given its image and that things could have gone 'worse'.
As temperatures drop even Prague’s statues are bundling up, former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright was in Prague this week for the launch of her book Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box and, a man wins three quarters of a million on the outcome of the senate elections. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.
Some people say that Czechs are unfriendly. Obviously, such people are simply not in the right place at the right time. Try any central Prague metro exit or the top of Wenceslaus Square for example, where I have been stopped by the friendliest Czechs imaginable every day for the last two months now, sometimes even several times a day, sometimes several times within five minutes. They want to talk to me about all kinds of things.
I have to confess to being somewhat perturbed over the years with the Czech system of addressing people in either the unfamiliar or familiar. The system exists in several languages, though not English – essentially in Czech, one addresses people that one is not familiar with in the plural “zdravím vás” as opposed to “zdravím tě.” As a kid visiting Prague, I would constantly forget myself and refer to people that I didn’t know in the familiar. Then, someone would later say to me “you ‘tykat’ when you should have ‘vykat’” – that is the way the two forms
Excessive red-tape and arrogant civil servants have long been a problem in the Czech Republic. A recent study conducted by the Prague-based Westminster Agency indicated that little has changed in this respect in the last 18 years. The agency says that it is not the performance of civil servants that's at the core of the problem - it is their attitude and the fact that little has been done to change it.
Any foreigner who has lived in the Czech Republic can tell you stories of how difficult it is to truly assimilate with the local population. No matter how well you learn the language or how many dumplings you can eat or beers you can drink, you will never be what Czechs call "nasinec" or "one of us."