24 May 2013

5/24 Review - Dramatics and Righting Historical Wrongs

Friday means reflecting on our past week.  Tune in to get a gist of the big news, my opinions on the news, videos, art, and music.  My discoveries are yours to enjoy!


Eurovision - As I mentioned last week, I don't get this at all, nor do I find it particularly interesting (though Romania's entry was all WTF), though I did catch up with the top entries hereHowever, I do find the political ramifications of the contest interesting.  Germany had a poor showing and the people are outraged, thinking Merkel damaged their chances with austerity demands.  Let me repeat this: Germans are upset about winning a fairly meaningless contest because of her stance on serious financial/fiscal problems.  This isn't to say that I agree with her stance, but the reaction is rather silly; I'm sure Germany's stance had an effect, yet this reaction would be warranted if it wasn't about Eurovision but the actual ramifications of the policy in the real world. (Plus, Germany is the most popular country in the world.Russia is upset at Azerbaijan because it is the main partner of the European Broadcasting Union and Azerbaijani votes for Russia in the contest went "missing"/unaccounted for.  Oh, the tragedies of Eurovision!

Ugh ugh ugh. Bayer and other west German pharmaceutical companies used DDR citizens as guinea pigs for drug tests.  This is one of the more exploitative things I've read about west-east German relations/backdoor deals and reminds me of some other inhumane experiments that were used to further medicine.  I won't call it out, but you know what I'm talking about.

Bulgaria is still struggling to put together a new government after the elections.  It's tricky trying to keep GERB as the opposition and still get agreement on important agendas like assembling a cabinet.  Unfortunately, everyone is waiting with bated breath.  If this doesn't work out, what's next?

CDU is trying to ban all DDR symbols.  (Article is in German)  This is upsetting because it is another instance of the history being erased by the victors.  I can understand banning the symbols (like flags) from flying on official buildings and whatnot, but it's a little more complicated than banning Nazi symbols, in my opinion.  I'm not defending the DDR as a utopia, but my gut reaction is that it's not as horrific as the Nazi regime.  At the same time, is that because I learned about Nazi evil in school throughout my life?  That it was upheld as the most evil thing in the world?  It's not like Stalin has a smaller body count and it went without much retaliation from the Allies due to a complicated geopolitical balance.  I wonder if anyone has thoughts on this because I'm conflicted--the nostalgia/use of symbols is often used to conjure up the security and simplicity, not the ugly actions-as-political-statements aspect.  Is that enough of a reason to let them stay?

Moldova is showing signs that their EU ambitions will not be tampered by the collapse of the pro-EU government.  This is good news for the European vs Russian Union Battle for Former Soviet States.  

In other German news, tax evaders are now turning themselves in.  I'm not sure what the motive really is (afraid it will be worse if they're caught now that Germany has secret bank information?), but it's encouraging that Europe is taking a stance on tax loopholes.  Robert Reich wrote a great article on Guernica about how global companies are squeezing every nation for all they're worth--a recommended tandem read.


Good Reads

This headline kicks so much ass: "If Viktor Orbán Wanted to He Could Crush You Like An Ant, But He Won't, Because He's Chill."

Beautiful poetry from Aleš Debeljak, a poet from Slovenia.

Georgia is reconsidering its stance of marijuana.

The presence of AfD, Formuszewicz and Parkes argue, has strengthened Germany and the EU.

Insight into Azerbaijan's celebration of former President Heydar Aliyev that includes a Game of Thrones reference.

The benefits of living in Kaliningrad: cheap shopping across the border in Gdańsk.  Corruption is hurting local stores in Kaliningrad and it's unfortunate for those ordinary Russians to suffer.

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews has a fresh, artistic take on the memorium of Polish Jewry with the exhibit "Letters from Afar".

Serbia will build a memorial WWII death camp, which was known as "Judenlager Semlin".


Good Sights

This is a video of DDR objects, songs, and images.  This nostalgia doesn't seem to have a political bent, but rather just remembering your childhood.

If Belarus just makes you think of sadness and Lukashenko, let me heal your heart with this beauty.

Artists that I showed: Yulia Brodskaya (Russia) and Anja Markiewicz (Germany),

Alex Rawlings at RawLangs posted a great video on how to learn vocabulary, with good ol' Magyarul as an example!

BONUS! Here's a website to help you learn basic vocabulary for a number of languages.  Easy, fun, and educational.

Good Sounds

I discovered that the soundtrack to "The Tree of Life" (2011) is RIFE with CEE composers/performers. Here they are:

"Faunophonia Balkanica", "Sound Testament of Mount Athos", "Ma Maison", and "Approaching" by Arsenije Jovanovic (RS)

"Symphony no. 3" by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki (PL)

"Lacrimosa"/"Lacrimosa 2" by Zbigniew Preisner (PL)

"My Country - Vltava (The Moldau)" by Bedřich Smetana (CZ)

Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade - The Tuileries - Bydio (Piano Version)" performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy 

"Snapshot from the Island" by Tibor Szemzö (HU)

"Morning Prayers" by Giya Kancheli (GE)