31 August 2012

The Balkan Express

I've been absent for a number of reasons, but I have also been making some serious investment in the Balkans.  Books have been on the agenda and they have not disappointed me.  I began my journey by checking out two books from the wonders of the public library: The Balkan Express by Slavenka Drakulic and Srebrenica: A Record of a War Crime by Jan Willem Honig.  They both have to do with the devastating Balkan Wars of the 1990s and both let me peer into the dark, dark world that existed during that time.

I'll start off with the wholly factual and report style Srebrenica.  I checked out this book mainly because the Mladić and Hadžić trials at the ICTY were making news and when my husband asked about the Balkan Wars, I embarrassingly knew nothing I could share with him.  I thought to start out with the Srebrenica massacre.  The book is a UN report on the massacre, which detailed exactly what happened and went into analysis in the following chapters.  It wasn't a fun read by any means, but it certainly horrified me.  Some of the essays in Drakulić's book really brought out this point (which made the pairing quite fortuitous): no one really seemed concerned with what happened in Yugoslavia.  The lip service was done, but the chain of command and the overwhelming sense of non-urgency pervades the entire event.

29 August 2012

Ukrainian Performance Art

I was alerted to this article on a fascinating Ukrainian exhibit that's causing quite a bit of controversy.  The only real question I have is, "Does the performance continue past the initial stage of choosing?"  I feel like that's lifelong performance art.  I'm curious what other people think of the piece.

06 August 2012

Lukashenko Never Slept with a Cuddly Bear

Lukashenko has his panties up in a bunch about the Swedish stunt in July.  I can understand why--he's trying to retain authoritarian rule with an opposition that everyone BUT Lukashenko is actively supporting.  He's jailed them, practically made them disappear, and has otherwise ignored any call for lessening his Stalinesque grip on the nation.  He even outlawed hand signals.  This man is serious about using his frenemy Russia and staying right where he is, thank you.

03 August 2012

Minimal Olympics Coverage

I haven't been able to watch the Olympics--no TV and no time--but I try to keep abreast in the major events of the Olympics.  I would do more in-depth coverage of ECE nations if I didn't have a day job and public transit didn't eat up additional hours of my day.  I would love to simply watch athletics for hours on end, but being an adult has completely eroded whatever time and enthusiasm I have left at the end of the day.

I wasn't aware that Slovakia had a company that made competition canoes.  Were you?  Luckily, my RSS feeds (see my page for the ones I follow!) brought this to my attention.  I see that Eastern Europe is doing pretty well in the medal count, all things considered.  The full list of medal counts are here on ESPN, but here is the individual list linked for your quick reference (these only include counties that have medals):
Belarus
Croatia 
Czech Republic
Germany
Hungary
Lithuania
Moldova 
Poland
Romania
Russia
Serbia
Slovakia (notice the number of canoeing medals!)
Slovenia
Ukraine

The medal count per capita in these countries must be higher than the USA, which has a ridiculous number of medals.  It seriously resembles the 1% getting the larger part of the spoil.  It is worthy to note that Hungary has more medals than Brazil (where my mother-in-law is from) or India, which is embarrassing for those BRIC countries.  You'd think that a "backwater" Eastern European nation with a despotically inclined PM would not get more medals than two of the fastest growing economies with large populations.  Funny, ain't it?