2 February 2022 / 2.02.2022

The text on the 100 anniversary of Joyce’s Ulysses is taken from The Economist Espresso newsletter. The Romanian version is a collaboration between me and Google. Enjoy …

Yes because a hundred years ago Sylvia Beach displayed in her Paris bookshop the first copy of a new novel she was publishing yes she was publishing “Ulysses” which is now recognised as one of the twentieth century’s greatest works of art and yes signed first edition copies can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars in auction it was written by Irishman James Joyce with its peculiar use of punctuation and yes its stream of consciousness James marked that occasion on 2 February 1922 with a muted celebration and laid out what was then the only other copy with its white letters on a blue background a nod to the colours of the Greek flag and thus to the novel’s chief inspiration Homer’s Odyssey and yes for Beach it was a risk of course supporting this experimental novel which was looked at unkindly by some like playwright George Bernard Shaw who said it was revolting and that if you imagine that any Irishman would pay 150 francs for a book you little know my countrymen

Textul despre aniversarea a 100 de ani de la publicarea romanului Ulysses a lui James Joyce este preluat din buletinul informativ The Economist Espresso. Versiunea în română este o colaborare între mine și Google.

Da pentru că acum o sută de ani Sylvia Beach a expus în librăria ei din Paris primul exemplar al unui nou roman pe care îl publica da publica “Ulysses”care este în prezent recunoscut ca una din cele mai importante opere de artă a secolului XX și da exemplarele cu autograf din prima ediție pot aduce acum sute de mii de dolari la licitație a fost scris de irlandezul James Joyce cu punctuația sa specifică și da cu fluxul său de conștiință James a marcat acea ocazie la 2 februarie 1922 cu o sărbătorire discretă și a așezat ceea ce atunci era singurul alt exemplar cu literele sale albe pe un fundal albastru ca o recunoaștere a culorilor drapelului grec și ca urmare a inspirației principale a romanului Odiseea lui Homer și da pentru Beach a fost desigur un risc să susțină acest roman experimental care a fost privit nefavorabil de unii ca dramaturgul George Bernard Shaw care a spus că este revoltător și că îi cunoști puțin compatrioții mei dacă îți imaginezi că vreun irlandez ar plăti 150 de franci pentru o carte  



All right. I started this post with “And so it is (almost) Christmas….” I went through “And so it is Christmas….” and I hope to be able to finish it and post it as “And so it was Christmas….” which I’m sure I will as the whole 2022 fits that description. And all this time I kept the question below unchanged.

And what have we done? It’s a good question and one that is constantly asked at this time of the year. Every year…

Even if some think talking about Christmas is politically incorrect, it’s a significant discussion and especially question and most people understand exactly that it is meant not as an offense, but as a moment of truth, evaluation, looking upon what happened with the thin hope of learning something to avoid in the future.

So, what have I, or rather we, Ana y Ram, done during 2021? The order is based on my memory, therefore random and possibly frail.

  • Discovered the beauty of life at the young age of … going on 70! The pundits from all walks of life and science tell us that this is the most creative and productive decade of human life. If we are lucky to make it! I therefore thank the universe, the force, God, Jahve, the Buddha, Allah, Krishna and so many others whom I respect even if I cannot name for allowing me to live my life and enjoy my family and friends who are still here and remember the ones who already left this world. I feel so blessed!
  • Traveled a lot. Online – mostly and offline – around the country.
  • Participated in conferences. Online.
  • Read online and offline.
  • Supported my 24 Poems book with reading tours. In real life.
  • Started to work on my new book.
  • Delivered my regular courses in the ASE/Bucharest University of Economic Studies and the University of Bucharest.
  • Developed and delivered tailor made courses for some amazing professionals.
  • Wrote some articles, some reviews, some posts and countless emails. Saw some of the older articles finally published.
  • Had the most amazing gift in a long time – my third grandson! He’s five months old and he already is an awesome young man with incredible powers of gathering a truly international crowd for his baptism. This in itself deserves a novel!

Probably the most humbling experience of all comes from the people who still think of me although I’m no longer part of their daily lives. I never thought I did anything special for them and they somehow still remember me. And then the same is true for some of my former students.

A bit of self-promotion.

And of course, there are so many things I didn’t do, though I really wanted to. But either my time management, or … who knows?!? So many books that I read and wanted to review, so many people I wanted to connect with. Maybe in 2022.


Life online

I’m not saying that life online is better than that offline. I’m just saying that very often it is more comfortable and it offers opportunities that we never thought about. I wrote here or here or here about events that I probably wouldn’t have attended in real life. And suddenly here we are attending conferences, watching panels with incredible speakers, visiting museums and exhibitions that we could only have dreamt about. And most of those events are free.

We also pick challenges and accept to participate in projects for the sheer intellectual curiosity or our wish to learn more. As some of the images below will illustrate.


There’s always a silver lining. Even in the darkest moments of our lives – we only have to look for it.


International conferences – really at a click’s distance

October is still a very busy month for most people. Even under the effects of the pandemic. Not only because autumn is putting more strain on the COVID scare for everybody, jabbed, vaxxed or otherwise, but also because in climates and environments like ours (temperate, that is with four seasons, and with traditional culinary habits) most of us are busy with preserves and pickles.

I have some traditional conferences that I’m part of and always love to attend: my own department’s conference, my faculty’s conference and the STRATEGICA conference of SNSPA.

Here I’ll write about my department’s conference. Just a few notes. If anyone is interested, the programme is at the end of this post. If you have a look, you’ll see that it was a substantial, attractive, really engaging programme.   I’ll just name the plenary speakers here:

Carmen PÉREZ-LLANTADA, Professor, University of Zaragoza, Spain
Engaging with digital literacies in learning academic and research communication

André HEDLUND, Educational Consultant, Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUC-PR) – School of Education and Humanities, Brazil
Learning Cosmos: A Voyage into the Learner’s Universe

Cristina Alice TOMA, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
Le mythe de l’éternel retour – entre Orient et Occident

Mala PANDURANG, Professor, Principal Dr. BMN College (Autonomous), Mumbai, India
Compassion and the Arts in the Time of the Pandemic: a Digital Journey

When would it have been possible to have as guest speakers in our event researchers and experts from such distant geographies? Of such diverse profiles? Could we ever have had a budget to cover their fees and traveling expenses? The answer is obvious: probably never. We are, therefore, looking at profound changes in conference organization and participation. We have to adapt to a new environment (the virtual world) and to acquire new skills. This is not always easy. And it’s only the beginning.

On the plus side, conversations around the world are richer, with contributions from far away (Brazil, India) and with voices which may have only rarely, if ever, been heard in our academic environment. And suddenly such events just happen.

I participated in all the plenaries – from my desk or on my cell, moving around town doing my daily chores. We are no longer tied to a conference room, to juggling with conflicting timetables, left with the regrets of not being able to “be there”. We can even participate in several conferences – though that requires a lot of practice. And is it really worth it when we can listen to the recording on the various social media at our convenience? Such as here or here.

It’s the beginning of a new world, or of a new normal. As we well know, the speed of novelty degradation is continuously increasing. Therefore, the new normal will not be new for a long time. It is clear, at least to me, that there’s not going back towards the old world. We’ll always keep part of the old world in us, but we are pushed to adapt to the new one. Let’s hope that it will be a better world for a larger number of people. I’m always hopeful.  



Alexandru Budișteanu passed away. He was 93 years old. I had the privilege of being a friend of the Alexandru and Ileana Budișteanu family and of having worked with them during a period of my life.

On his 91st birthday, unfortunately the last one he celebrated with his friends at the Capșa restaurant, I told him that reaching such an age is a wonderful achievement for anyone. However, to live such a long and constantly active life and to have accomplished all the things that Alexandru Budișteanu has accomplished is truly a success story.

Alexandru Budisteanu’s 91st birthday.

He was born on August 11, 1928 in the commune Pârlița-Târg, then in Iași county, Romania, later Bălți county, the Republic of Moldova. He lived as he says in the title of his book published in 2014, Under four regimes on all continents. He had a fulfilled, intense life, with many trials, going through so many historical changes, but also with so many accomplishments, with wonderful moments, with difficult times, with people who have been grateful to him and, of course, with people who hated him openly or, perhaps, only in private.

I wrote here about how and when I met him and I remembered some personal landmarks of our acquaintance. I will not repeat myself now. But I want to talk here about the request that Alexandru Budișteanu made to me in March 2002 when I went to the US. He had asked me to discover and photograph a monument that had been placed under his supervision in the Garden of Nations in Cleveland. It had been a true adventure to discover the Garden. Remember that in 2002 the Internet was in its infancy: in most cases it could be accessed by dial-up while even if the phones were mobile, they were far from smart. Now, in October 2021, in a few seconds I found out the location of the Romanian Garden (founded in 1967) in the Cleveland Federation of Cultural Gardens. Looking at the website I became sad, but that’s another story, which I hope to tell another time. Here I will only say that in 2002 I found the Garden thanks to the help of the eternal nostalgic after Romania Nicu Manolache. It was a snowy March and it took us a whole day to inquire around until we got to where we needed to be. The photos below appeared in the bilingual, anniversary book, dedicated to Alexandru Budișteanu, Changing lives, we change the world.

What can you say in such moments? That departures, no matter how predictable, are still very painful? That I have been very happy that Alexandru Budișteanu existed in my life, in our life, as a model of a man from whom I tried to learn as much as possible? That he was asking me interesting questions, as a “failed linguist” as he liked to joke and push me to reflect on the ways in which languages adapt or draw realities? That we were joking about how we would celebrate his centenary, but, it wasn’t meant to be ?! Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, some things do not depend only on us, no matter how much will and love of life one has.

I stop here knowing that I cannot hope to illuminate even if only partially a life as complex as that of Alexandru Budișteanu in just a few lines. But, for those who may be interested, here are some places where you can find more information about his life. Here and here.

I am convinced, however, that our lives will be poorer without Alexandru Budișteanu. Likewise, I know that the lives of those he has touched with his spiritual and intellectual generosity, and there are many, will certainly be much richer.


Languages, lipstick and some more

I received a tweet and an email about an article which appeared in the Language and Linguistics section of fifteeneightyfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press. Below, my views.

Carmen Pérez-Llantada appreciates the richness and the power of the words that scholars use in their communication of science. They do so to present the facts they study, to share their observations and educate their readership. Of course, Pérez-Llantada doesn’t use such a strong word as educate. She skilfully softens it to “align their readers’ views to their own”. Which is, to my mind, exactly what science communication should be doing. And she aptly characterizes the professional use of language as skilful and crafty. A wonderful choice of words for more than one reason.

Pérez-Llantada rightfully starts from the power of languages to shape new knowledge in the respective fields of use which has become more visible than ever through the use of the Internet for the professional communication of science. And then she correctly moves on to the necessity to spur the “multilingualization of new and existing knowledge available only in English”. Why does she, along with other experts, consider the use of more languages besides English so important? A conceptually simple, but pragmatically somehow difficult to grasp answer: how else than in their own languages can field practitioners and policy makers use such knowledge for addressing problems at a local scale (she quotes Amano et al., 2016).

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

I greatly appreciate that such an acknowledged and respected expert in applied linguistics as Carmen Pérez-Llantada deals with such a complex issue. Particularly when her own first language is Spanish and English is her professional/academic means of communication. And yet, though coming from one of the widely used languages in the world, Pérez-Llantada is well aware of the many nuances of a science communication linguistic monopoly. Opening up science communication to the larger public is a must today in a world divided not only by understanding languages, but by various types of fake news and the difficulty to address “gloCal”, global and local, audiences.  

Source: https://www.hisour.com/ecolinguistics-49423/

Pérez-Llantada insists in a polite academic way on the necessity to preserve the rich linguistic ecology in the public communication of science.  And she thinks that we, multilingual scientists, may improve the situation by taking advantage of the resources that the Internet offers. She invites us, and through us I imagine that she targets local practitioners and decision makers, to learn how to go beyond the lipstick on the pigs, and get trained and effective in the use of the many, versatile means of web 2.0 communication.

Photo by Daniil Kuželev on Unsplash

I mostly agree with her points. Where I see things, not necessarily differently, but wearing my local, Romanian linguistic lenses, which makes me see the world in Romanian colours and hues, is where I strongly believe that beyond the scientists, researchers, scholars, experts, professionals there is a place for decision and policy makers to have a vision of what scientific production really means, of the collaboration it entails and, above all, of the profound need and possibly right to be allowed to think and work in one’s own language as well. And acknowledge that need somehow in the many and constantly changing admin criteria that govern the lives of the above-mentioned categories.

A welcome and worthy post.


Theory or practice?

Hmmm, not easy to answer. Yet most people would instinctively go for practice. So, here’s what Jeff Bezos said about competition in 1997 “We do work to pay attention to competitors and be inspired by them, but it is a fact that the customer-centric way is at this point a defining element of our culture.”

Wow! “at this point” he says. In other words, “we may change”.

He advocates a Day 1 culture = an entrepreneurial mindset and there’s a lot to it. Google it and you’ll see.

And he also bans PowerPoints in his executive meetings. What? We all know how powerful ppt is – when well done and used!

However, Bezos says that it doesn’t help thinking, and thinking is crucial in decision making! So, narrative memos are what he wants. And the meetings start in silence, everybody reading (and making notes) the memos. Why?

“… the narrative structure of a good memo forces better thought and better understanding of what’s more important than what, and how things are related.”

“PowerPoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the interconnectedness of ideas.”

Conclusion: “a list of bullet points in Word (…) would be just as bad as PowerPoint”.

I’m obviously thinking of how we mostly teach today in universities. We use powerpoints because we learnt from books, not articles, not summaries, not ppts. Yet this is how we encourage our students to learn. Not we as individuals, we as systems.


OBIC 2021 – Glimpses

I’ve been going to the international conference of the Oriental Business and Innovation Center (OBIC) since 2018. That is whenever the world allowed me to do so. I couldn’t go last year, though I had bought my flight ticket and only went online this year. Online is not bad, but enjoying your coffee breaks and lunches in your own home is not as exciting as chatting around real food and beverages in Budapest.

And yet, it had been a great conference. Professional, warm, with just the right mix of local touch, in the perfect amounts.

The theme of the conference this year? And the programme? And Book of Abstracts? You can find all the information here: https://www.obic-bbs.hu/en/obic-conference-2021/  or if you prefer Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/obicbbs.

What you cannot find, however, is the inner dynamics and chemistry of the event. That you can experience only by participating.

For example, after one of the plenary sessions, the speaker, Professor Voskressenski, was asked many questions mostly variations around what you can see in the picture below.

The answer, with a smile, was along the following points:

“Interesting question. Thank you. Russia has a very good relation with China, but this relation is not an alliance. It’s a partnership. They understand each other, it’s about economic benevolence. There’s centralization clearly, but it’s because of the uncertainties we have to face. So what should the US hinder?” (An approximate rendition of his words)

And as an echo, the words of David Morris during a round table on “The Rise of New Technologies and National Security Challenges”: Russia and China are comfortable together.

OBIC 2019 group picture.

These are only glimpses. However, I could not possibly skip our own participation in Panel C2 of OBIC – “Culture and Education in the Era of Digitalization” moderated by Professor Emerita Judit Hidasi. We had been blessed by the presence of some of our colleagues from home, thank you Dana Radler and Irina Ion. And possibly others. One of the disadvantages of this otherwise excellent cloud event was that we could not see each other. There’s no perfection, is there!?!

The discussions in our panel were vivid, with good questions and challenging answers. The only disappointment – more time for discussions. Again, real coffee breaks and meals are great for networking and continuing discussions beyond the programme.

My personal takeaways from this event? There are too many and too important to discard in a last few words. Therefore, I’ll write another post.

Another technical mystery – double images. Good for our egos though.


My daughter bought a map the other day. I thought it was for our grandchildren visiting for Easter. They have difficulties reading a paper map which is still required, for good reason I’d say, in school. No, she said, it’s not for them. It’s for me and Redmund, her partner, to signal the places we visited. Separately or together. It’s fun, mum, don’t you think!?

It absolutely is. Plus, it brings back my old concern about digital maps. I love digital maps, I’m often, though not always, grateful to Waze or Google Maps (in that order) for their existence. But, I can’t “think” without a paper map. I discover, however, that I’m not the only one.

In this article in USA Today you can find lots of reasons why people still prefer paper maps and why the industry is actually thriving. I resonate with a lot of them, but my favourite is “Paper maps for planning and GPS in transit”.

And today, a slow day even if it’s a Monday, the second day of Orthodox Easter, I can indulge in doing “useless” things, such as looking at maps. So, here’s a look at some fascinating maps. They are all amazing. However, I particularly like the following: 9. The Roman Empire vs. the Mongol Empire at their peak (ha, ha); 10. The most popular last names in Europe, and 14. The oldest universities in Europe that are still open.

As it often happens, from this article I was lured to the next one “Maps with Unusual Information”. I’ll leave you to discover what alphabets are used around the world or how welcoming a country is to strangers.

A great way to start a day – for me. Have fun.


Humour leadership?

Ever heard of humour leadership?

Naomi Bagdonas andConnor Diemand-Yauman, both from StandfordGraduate School of Business, and interested in creating more productive, connected, and joyful cultures in remote teams. They say there’s serious medical research behind their claim: the The neuroscience of laughter.

Leaders with a sense of humour are seen as 27 percent more motivating and admired. Their employees are 15 percent more engaged. Their teams are more than twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge.

Humour isn’t just for fun. It’s also a critical leadership skill, like communication and self-awareness.

How? Bagdonas and Diemand-Yauman tell us their version:

1. Become remotely humorous. Laughter impacts our brains and our behaviours in profound ways. Laughter is more valuable than ever in the world of remote work.

2. Embrace other’s humour. Notice your co-workers’ small attempts of light-heartedness, and accept them. Build on them.

3. Actively cultivate your rituals and your stories. Create new rituals that help you stay connected and promote humour at your organization, even when you’re remote. And tell your companies’ stories far and wide.

For more watch them here: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/leadership/laugh-more-lead-better