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Tag: Poland

The video game: England vs. Germany

Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

Just 23 days now until the World Cup kicks off in Russia. The deluxe match of the first round will be Portugal vs. Spain on 15 June, but Germany vs. Mexico on 17 June should be tasty because if it’s not a draw, the pressure will be on the losing side. Talking of Germany, no World Cup is complete without the prospect of a 1966 Final revenge rematch with England and it could happen, earlier rather than later. Here’s how:

If England finish second in Group G, they will face the winner of Group H which, according to FIFA rankings, should be Poland. Success in that game would take England into a quarter final meeting with Germany, the likely winners of Group F. Might happen. Might not. Until then, though, we have the videos of the selected squads.

First up, Die Mannschaft, with 28K+ views. The emphasis is on skills.

Next, The Three Lions, with 220K+ views. Here, it’s all about multi-cultural fun.

Result: England wins on YouTube. The World Cup, however, will be played in Russia.


The road-side dog

Monday, 14 August, 2017 0 Comments

On this day in 2004, Czesław Miłosz, the Polish poet, writer, translator, diplomat and Nobel Literature Prize winner, died in Kraków. He spent his life crossing borders and he wrote about the cruelty and beauty of this world in a language that ranged from the furious to the elegiac:

“I went on a journey in order to acquaint myself with my province, in a two-horse wagon with a lot of fodder and a tin bucket rattling in the back. The bucket was required for the horses to drink from. I traveled through a country of hills and pine groves that gave way to woodlands where swirls of smoke hovered over the roofs of houses, as if they were on fire, for they were chimneyless cabins; I crossed districts of fields and lakes. It was so interesting to be moving, to give the horses their rein, and wait until, in the next valley, a village slowly appeared, or a park with the white spot of a manor house in it. And always we were barked at by a dog, assiduous in its duty. That was the beginning of the century; this is its end. I have been thinking not only of the people who lived there once but also of the generations of dogs accompanying them in their everyday bustle, and one night — I don’t know where it came from — in a pre-dawn sleep, that funny and tender phrase composed itself: a road-side dog.”

Coppers


Trump endorses the Three Seas Initiative

Thursday, 6 July, 2017 0 Comments

Readers of today’s earlier post will understand the significance of the Three Seas Initiative to Poland and the other members of this new Eastern/Central European alliance. In short, it’s a project designed to prevent former Warsaw-Pact countries becoming pawns in Russia’s energy game. In his speech earlier today in Warsaw, President Trump addressed the Three Seas Initiative at the outset of his remarks:

“President Duda and I have just come from an incredibly successful meeting with leaders participating in the Three Seas Initiative. To the citizens of this great region, America is eager to expand our partnership with you. We welcome stronger trade and commerce as you grow your economies and we are committed to securing access to alternate sources of energy so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy. Mister President, I congratulate you along with the president of Croatia on your leadership of this historic Three Seas Initiative.”

For Moscow, Berlin and Brussels, the Three Seas Initiative represents a serious challenge to their different plans for a Europe in which energy supply and energy dependence will be critical. Energy will be central to the 21st-century version of the Great Game and Washington is signalling that it’s going to be a player in every theatre.

Pipelines


In the year of his first cigarette

Saturday, 24 June, 2017 0 Comments

In the year that the great Galty smoked his first cigarette, The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, premiered in Hollywood; Francisco Franco assumed power in Spain; Flann O’Brien’s metafiction At Swim-Two-Birds was published in London; Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt married Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran; Billie Holiday recorded Strange Fruit; Italy seized Albania and King Zog fled; an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded in the centre of Coventry, killing five people; John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath was published; Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics No. 27; nylon stockings went on sale in Wilmington, Delaware, and LaGuardia Airport opened in New York City.

Oh, and the opening shots of World War II were fired when Germany invaded Poland.

Galty


Pilgrims

Thursday, 28 July, 2016 0 Comments

Justin Gomez says: “This is a video of a couple friends and I walking the Camino de Santiago during the month of August… We started in France and walked about 800 km to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.” Talking of pilgrims, more than one million are now in Kraków to join Pope Francis at the 2016 World Youth Day.


Symphony of Sorrow and solidarity for Paris

Saturday, 14 November, 2015 0 Comments

When he was composing his Third Symphony (the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs), Henryk Górecki sought inspiration in a variety of texts. Foremost was an inscription scrawled on a cell wall of a Gestapo prison in Zakopane at the foot of the Tatra mountains. The words were those of 18-year-old Helena Wanda Błażusiakówna: O Mamo nie płacz nie — Niebios Przeczysta Królowo Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie (“Oh Mamma do not cry — Immaculate Queen of Heaven support me always”). He also read Psalm 93/94 in the 16th-century translation by Jakub Wujek: “They humiliated Your people, O Lord, and afflicted Your heritage, they killed the widow and the passer-by, murdered the orphans.”

Henryk Górecki survived two of the most vile ideologies in history: Communism and Nazism. We are now challenged by Islamism, a reincarnation of their combined evil. The followers of the new wickedness, like their 20th-century predecessors, do not shy from murdering the orphans, killing the widow and the passer-by, afflicting heritage and humiliating people. The words of Helena Wanda Błażusiakówna and the music of Henryk Górecki offer comfort at this time of suffering and sorrow and solidarity.


Bartosz Kosowski illustrates

Wednesday, 21 January, 2015 0 Comments

“I am an illustrator working in Lodz, Poland” is the very simple “About” statement of Bartosz Kosowski. Such modesty. The the Society of Illustrators in Los Angeles has just awarded him its Gold Medal for his “Lolita” poster, which was created for September’s Spoke Art Stanley Kubrick exhibition in San Francisco.

Talking of last September, on the 24th of that month, Bartosz Kosowski posted the following entry in his blog: “Yesterday I learned that my portrait of Putin was used without my knowledge and permission by a Russian nationalist website Sputnik & Pogrom. First, it is a blatant copyright infringement and there is no excuse for that. Second, I would never allow any nationalist media to use my illustration!” When he positioned their website graphic beside his mock-up of a TIME cover, Kosowski added, “Actually they did award him this title a few years back (sic!).”

Person of the Year

Note: The TIME Magazine Person of the Year 2007 was Vladimir Putin: “His final year as Russia’s President has been his most successful yet. At home, he secured his political future. Abroad, he expanded his outsize — if not always benign — influence on global affairs.” Bartosz Kosowski’s mock-up captures perfectly the man behind the mask, at home and abroad.


BHL: The bloodied Games of Putin the Terrible

Friday, 21 February, 2014 0 Comments

“For those who care about democracy, can we, by pulling out of Sochi — or at least by boycotting the closing ceremony on Sunday — ensure that the XXII Winter Olympics will not go down in history as the Games that were the shame and defeat of Europe?” Bernard-Henri Lévy

That’s the plea of Bernard-Henri Lévy, often referred to simply as BHL, the French intellectual and author. Il faut quitter Sotchi! is how he put in Le Monde. In the translated version, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, he pointed the finger at the Russian President: “At these Games, where the flame symbolizing the Olympic ideal has been purloined by a thug, when the winning athletes playfully bite their medals, this time will not the gold, silver and bronze have the metallic taste of blood?” And then he hammers the nail home:

“Do you not see the absurdity — not to say the obscenity — of pretending to believe, up to the last minute of the last day of this ruined Olympiad, that there might be two Putins: Putin the Terrible, who earlier this week issued $2 billion to prop up the regime of his valet Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president who then unleashed his forces on the Maidan protesters; and the other Putin, strutting across the stage and through the stands, greeting you with the munificence due those who used to be called the gods of the stadium?”

Talking of Yanukovych, why is the Kremlin propping him up? Simple. If he were to fall, the risk of contagion would reach Russia and its power base would be vulnerable. In Putin’s eyes, the Ukraine is Russia’s barricade against the West. From the perspective of the West, however, and Poland, in particular, a pro-Western Ukraine is a vital cordon sanitaire against an increasingly belligerent Russia. Paweł Świeboda, the president of demosEUROPA, a Warsaw-based think tank, used the conciseness of Twitter to put it all in perspective:

When the Sochi Winter Games end, the Great Game for the future of Eastern Europe will fill the gap in the TV schedules. The West would be well advised not to bring a baguette to this knife fight.


Would you like counselling during your crucifixion?

Tuesday, 29 October, 2013 0 Comments

In 1980, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the Polish writer Czeslaw Milosz, then living in exile in California. Although he served as a post-war cultural attaché of the newly formed People’s Republic of Poland in Paris and Washington DC, Milosz became increasingly disillusioned with Stalinist dogma and in 1953 he wrote The Captive Mind, which exposed the pernicious effects of Marxist orthodoxy on his generation of idealists. “Written before the Berlin Wall went up, The Captive Mind was a key factor in eventually bringing it down,” noted the critic Clive James in Cultural Amnesia.

When the Polish intelligentsia was being “wiped out half by one set of madmen and half by another”, Milosz found strength in the Bible because it “provided a standard of authenticity against a much more dangerous language, the language of legalized murder,” writes James, a confirmed atheist. Of his own position regarding the Good Book, he declares: “But without the scriptures we poor wretches would be lost indeed, because without them, conscience itself would become just another disturbance of the personality to be cured by counselling. We are surrounded by voices telling us that everything will come right if we learn to love ourselves. Imagine the torment of Jesus in his passion, if, on top of the sponge of vinegar and the spear, they had offered him counselling as well.”

Dali


The Andropov Apprentice

Tuesday, 17 September, 2013 0 Comments

Yesterday, here, we mentioned Radek Sikorski, Poland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, who claims he was the first to suggest that Moscow should assume responsibility for Syria’s chemical weapons stocks. It’s worth noting that Sikorski is married to the American journalist Anne Applebaum, a long-time observer of Vladimir Putin and his philosophy of power. In February last year, Applebaum gave a talk at the London School of Economics titled Putinism: The Ideology in which she detailed the autocrat’s suffocating dogma:

“Applebaum identifies the central tenet of Putinism as the carefully managed elections that ensure there are no accidental winners because there are no accidental candidates. Putin very carefully maintains the appearance of democracy — building up a campaign atmosphere during elections despite doing little actual campaigning and allowing fringe opposition parties to exist — but Russian voters are at no stage allowed to genuinely intervene in the democratic process.”

Anne Applebaum has spent many years developing her theory of Putinism. On 10 April 2000, the Weekly Standard published an article by her titled Secret Agent Man in which she revealed that Vladimir Putin tried to join Yuri Andropov’s KGB “at the tender age of 15”. Yuri Andropov Eventually, Putin fulfilled his dream of Soviet espionage and when he came to power in the Russian Federation that succeeded the USSR he enacted a tribute ceremony that was truly revelatory. “He chose the site with care: the Lubyanka, once the headquarters of the KGB and its most notorious jail prisoners once exercised on its roof, and were tortured in its cellars — and now the home of the FSB, Russia’s internal security services,” wrote Applebaum. “He also took heed of the date: December 20, a day still known and still celebrated by some, as ‘Chekists Day,’ the anniversary (this was the 82nd) of the founding of the Cheka, Lenin’s secret police. In that place and on that day, both so redolent of the bloodiest pages of Russian history, Vladimir Putin solemnly unveiled a plaque in memory of Yuri Andropov.”

Andropov’s apprentice is flying high now, but his repressive agency, the FSB, is not having it so easy. You see, Will Cochrane stands in its way. Never heard of Will Cochrane? He’s the “Spycatcher” and we’ll meet him here tomorrow.


Symphony of Sorrowful Songs for the children of Newtown, Connecticut

Saturday, 15 December, 2012 0 Comments

The Polish composer Henryk Górecki is remembered mainly for his “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs”. The first and third movements are written from the perspective of a parent who has lost a child, while the second movement is from that of a child separated from a parent during an evil time in Europe’s modern history.

Evil is an effort to destroy what is good by making the good appear powerless. Yesterday was a day when evil manifested itself as a gunman who killed 20 children and six adults at a primary school in Newtown, Connecticut. But as this recording of the “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs”, which was made at the 14th-century Church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven in Kraków proves, evil can never defeat good.