29 March 2013

What in the World?: Reflections on 3/29

Another delightful recap of what impressed and intrigued me over the past week.

News

My CEE corner of the internet BLEW UP when Berezovsky died.  I read multiple articles on him because  I had no idea who he was.  He's an important figure since he created the monster that is Putin.  Too many articles to link here.

I am following what I need to about Cyprus, but all I have to say is: whoa.


The developer found a loophole and began destroying the East Side Gallery as people tried to stall it with negotiations.  My only question: why the hell would you not just remove the entire thing instead of smashing it?  One - it's a piece of history for two nations that don't exist anymore, two) it's really famous the world over, three) you already destroyed the iconic Brezhnev-Honecker kiss!, and four)  you know that Wall is a money maker, right? That tourists want to see that when they visit, jockeying with the Brandenburg Gate for attention. What the hell, Berlin?  Progress has its limits and destroying that wall is doing nothing to convince skeptical former DDR citizens that capitalism is a-okay.  In fact, it's proving they're unimportant, their history will be lost, and that capitalism has no one's interests in mind except for money.  Questions for the government: who let them buy that piece of property? Allowed a loophole to exist for that monumental piece of history to be destroyed?  I am clearly incensed.

Albania pays homage to the victims of Communism with some notable artifacts.

First non-Bosniak mayor of Sarajevo elected to office.  It's a sign of progress and one that is very, very welcome in that corner of the Balkans.  Perhaps they are having a sort of come-to-Jesus moment  because the Balkans have been a source of good news lately.

The conviction of Vlahovic is a big deal because it's the longest sentence ever meted out.  ICTY, any thoughts? Hmm?

 

Twitter Happenings

Paula Kirby is posting all manner of DDR pictures and it's fantastic.  She is one of my favorite tweeters at this point.

Prospect Magazine had an illuminating piece about the "greengrocer's revenge".  One of the facets of communist life that fascinates me the most is the second economy, aka the unofficial exchange of favors/good/services.  The tenuous balance of power between the bottom feeders and the leadership continued as long as it did because there was a tangible sense of power from the bottom up.  The detachment of leaders was pretty minor considering the current state of elitehood everywhere and the ideology of being part of the masses was powerful, even in lip service.  It's also important to note that people who were winning at communism generally won at capitalism.  Money and resources begat money and resources no matter the economic system, but capitalism is much better at accelerating the growth.  The town I researched, Lütte, had a collectivized farm that became a GmbH (LLC for English speakers) and the owner of that GmbH was none other than the son of the director of the collective farm.  Go figure, right?

Soviet science was pretty popular this week.  We had the abandoned space program facilities in Russia, the space dummy Ivan Ivanovich, and the bizarre experimentations of Dr. Demikhov.  One, the author of the Dr. Demikhov piece is an anthropologist and two, it goes to show that Soviets were not in a backwards industrial society.  In many respects, it was forward thinking, future oriented, and make some vital  breakthroughs and discoveries like organ transplants.  Even now, in our futuristic day and age, I am completely blown away by the video of the decapitated dog on a machine.

My Century came into my life and posted great things like a video of the 40th anniversary of the crackdown on a protest in Muslim Bulgaria, a Kodachrome video of Moscow and Leningrad in 1971, and this cool video of Mostar, my friend Christine's least favorite place in the world because of its strong ethnic hatred. (Also, the bridge make me think of The Bridge on the Drina and it makes me a little teary.) This website is my current love and the plethora of videos and stories inspires me.  I love this region so much.

Latvian History is a blog that is self-explanatory, but is explaining a lot to me because I cannot claim to know very much about this Baltic nation.  Recently I retweeted their post on the Soviet mass deportations in the 1949, but there is much more to offer.  It'll keep popping up on my feed because the material is educational and new to me.

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