August 2008


..it’s city that’s only 1 hour’s train ride from Vienna.

We’re planning a quick hop to the Carpathian Mountains. Hope we don’t meet Vigo..

Michael Totten reports from Tbilisi:

TBILISI, GEORGIA – Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion.

Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn’t start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.

More…

museum_kampa

More photos from the Museum Kampa here on Flickr.

Museum_communism

Sign directing visitors to the Museum of Communism in downtown Prague

UPDATE: I visited the Museum yesterday. They’re very proud of their independent (non-state supported) status, and they’re proud of their location near a McDonalds and a casino.

The displays described how the communists gained power in Czechoslovakia and how they held on to it for decades, despite the fact that communism was ruining the country. They illustrated how the communist government failed to feed the people, they described the way communism uses black markets, anti-Americanism, the delusion that capitalism is evil, that communism is the wave of the future AND extensive spy networks to maintain power. They showed, with many pictures, how the government destroyed the environment.

But still, at the end of the tour, the guestbook was full of comments from clueless French, British and Italian visitors proclaiming the joys of communism. Some people never learn.

UPDATE 2: El Marco’s photographs from protests at the Denver convention show that we have the same problem in America. Some of these folks obviously haven’t experienced firing neurons since 1969.

I’m not Jewish and I haven’t been much of a blogger lately, but I was in town and it was definitely worth a visit. Judith, Omri, Dave of IsraeliCool and Yael (Oleh Girl), Marjorie of In One Hour and Lyn of Orlando Heritage were there.

Omri liveblogged the whole event - here

Benjamin Netanyahu showed up to talk, which was a surprise treat. He’s a good speaker, with a tendency to digress.

The most ironic moment:

Zavi Apfelbaum, the Foreign Ministry’s Director of Brand Management, used the results of a focus group study to show the mostly Israeli audience the impression that Americans have of Israel.

Although most Americans support Israel, they don’t see it as a friendly or welcoming place. They seem to think that the country is restrictive, barren, ruled by a bunch of bossy, severe, pious patriarchs. Zavi, an attractive, casually-dressed woman, told the (half female) audience that they had to stress Israeli innovation and creativity to attract business and tourism.

As Zavi finished her speech, a bossy, bearded patriarch seemingly directly out of central casting shouted “No, Israel is a Jewish state! It’s a Jewish state!”

Although he was a perfect illustration of why some Americans have this impression of Israel, visiting the country would prove that the patriarch and the focus group were wrong. As Yael said, most of Israel is not like Jerusalem. Most of Israel is secular, modern, and very welcoming to visitors.

After the conference I discovered that even Jerusalem has a few neighborhoods that are not Jerusalem. There are bars, open after 11 pm, serving all kinds of crazy things. I’m still recovering from the Absinthe, which tasted like Vicks cough syrup mixed with vodka. I didn’t hallucinate anything worth mentioning, nor did I paint any depressed barmaids, but it was worth trying once.

..between connecting flights in a very cool city where the employees rollerblade around the airport..

…will post photos soon

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