ellestra: (lightning)
Today we had parliamentary elections in Poland. This isn't the first time I voted in US - that was the last parliamentary election but I was in Washington to get new passport anyway so I voted at the embassy. I also voted in the second turn of this presidential elections when I was back in Poland in May. But this is the first time I voted by mail. You can only do it abroad and you have to sign up early and it's a very short period when you can do it but I managed to do it on the very last day. I got my voting package week and a half ago and sent it back few days ago.

By now the results are out. They are not surprising - all the polls has predicted PiS win and the only question was how many of the lesser parties are going to get in and whether PiS will be able to form a new cabinet by itself. It looks like it will be and all the parties that have programs I agree most with are not even going to get in. This is a disappointment even from an ocean away because I despise PiS. They are the exact opposite of everything I believe in.

They are called conservatives and right but they are so only on social issues. All they are for is exactly what you would expect from religious, nationalistic right party. They are xenophobic, homophobic and against abortion (even in the very limited, only due to mother health issues or genetic diseases, one that is allowed in Poland right now). They are anti-European and so afraid about our neighbouring countries scheming against us that they are willing to sabotage all the international relations in the pursue of some messed up the vision of Great Poland that can stand by itself.

But they are much more dangerous on the economic issues. Because there is where their right wing definition falls apart. And this is really what made them win (being super xenophobic when there are refugees coming helped too, of course) because they went all populist and promised ridiculous thing (giving over a trillion złotys back to people for example). They plan to do this by upping the deficit and that means living on credit (they also previously mentioned nationalising some of the industries so Venezuela?). This is never a good idea but even more for a country like ours - small and easily abandoned by creditors (and Greece shows how badly it can end). It's also not a good idea when the other big part of your policy is being anti-EU and we've been renovating on their money for years now.

I get why people voted for them. We've been leaving economic recession since the beginning of the century and even though economy growth has been steady people never saw it in the raise of the salaries. Way too many are stuck in so called "garbage" jobs that don't come with any benefits and are temporary. They also mean less taxes so the country itself doesn't do well with the basic services - health, eduction, pensions, kids. This is why so many young people left for other countries in Europe (or like me even further away) and why so many feel like there is nothing to go back. The previously ruling party kept asking people for more and more sacrifices (like rising retirement age to 67 from 65 for men and 60 for women) without ever fulfilling any promises about making finding or creating jobs any easier. Everyone needed the change and they flocked to the largest party that offered something different. Just the thing they offer is false gold.

Like it has been 8 years ago when their previous try at ruling crashed and burned and resulted in early elections after just 2 years in power. Of course they blamed their tiny coalition parties for sabotaging their great ideas. They say that ruling alone (and with president from their party) they will make Poland great. But they had president back then too and all they managed to do is build a museum (a very nice museum but country had, and still has, much bigger needs) and it ended with people hating them so much they kept PO in power for 8 years just because everyone hated the thought of PiS in power so much. Now, after almost a decade, bad present became more important than the bad past. But I have too good memory to forget how they were and their - one true - leader speeches clearly indicate not much has changed (e.g. he said that the refugees will bring diseases and parasites so they have to be screened). So how can I believe this is going to be any better this time?

Of course I don't think this will destroy the country or any other disaster scenario like that. It will just be very annoying to live through to anyone not Polish Catholic enough. At worse we get something like Orban in Hungary. At best it will just rack the debt and be completely ineffective. Or I'm completely wrong and they actually make it work but looking at the program and their previous record I'm not very optimistic.

My only hope is that when it goes bad this time there will be no one to blame other than them and this will open the route for a real left party as an alternative. I also hope that the way left was eliminated from Parliament completely this time around means all the old guy clinging to power there will get kicked out finally. Am I too optimistic?

Randomness

Sep. 9th, 2015 11:27 pm
ellestra: (aeryn)
Both LHC and KEK got some weird results in two different experiments that suggest possibility of new particles outside standard model. They also don't fit into the Supersymetry theory. Right now the best guesses are some new type of Higgs boson or leptoquark.

Queen Elizabeth II has become the longest reigning British monarch in history today (she just beat Victoria). It's been just over 63 years, seven months and two days since the coronation and her rule is almost at the retirement age itself.

The 10 best experiments of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's according to blastr. They use the word scientific accuracy there but we can all agree that it only works in Muppet Labs. Science is universe specific unfortunately which is why we can't just adapt the technology that put pigs in space.

I wondered what could match Miss Piggy cameo but then I saw Team SHIELD effort and I lost it at the last one. Dubsmash battle continues.

Unfortunately only one of these isn't true. Which reminds me to have my existential crisis this week - "why am I even doing this?"
ellestra: (winged)
2014 was not a happy year in the world. Climate change lead to another warmest year on record - and weird weather patterns from very warm winter in Europe (and melting Olympics) and record heat waves in Australia (50 oC!) to severe drought in California, South Africa, China and Brazil, extreme floods in Africa, Indian subcontinent and Europe and cold eastern part of North America. Let's hope the food shortages are not going to be too bad.

The anti-vaccine movement has achieved giving us vaccination related deaths when the lack of vaccinations has led to resurgence of almost forgotten diseases. And the Ebola outbreak is still going on in West Africa and people are still dying (even thought it stopped being on the news now that no Westerners are sick). And still even more people die from flu and malaria every year.

And then there was all the things we did to each other. From the nightmare fuel of ISIL and Boko Haram to Vladimir Putin's using Hiler's tactics and excuses for territory grab. The racial tensions in US and Brazilian protests against World Cup corruption (and FIFA washing their hands of slavery and death in Quatar and proving to everyone that they are the pit of corruption and evil). The internets full of misogyny (both stolen pictures and Gamergate). It's sometimes hard to believe all the kinds of evil people will do to others and then explain it as just and necessary and for the greater good even when you see it happening in front of your eyes. Do Boko Haram and ISIL leaders really believe "god" wants them to kill and rape kids? Was the "defending" of ethnic Russian's in Ukraine worth them dying in war torn land and the economic collapse of your country? What kind of denial makes killing unarmed people justified? Or threatening someone with death and rape just because they said/wrote something you didn't agree with? Or ignoring death and suffering just so you don't have to admit you were wrong? I'm not even going to link any of that because it's already too depressing and I haven't even mentioned the random terror attacks, shootings and Bill Cosby.

And, of course, my cat died so I can't even find respite in my personal life.

There were some good stories - especially Malala one of hope and bravery - but this has been a bad year. I hope next one will be better.
ellestra: (lightning)
Tor.com has announce they are starting their own book imprint - specialising in the e-books and the best part is they will be available worldwide.

Tor.com is excited to announce that we will be expanding our original fiction program via a new imprint dedicated to publishing novellas, shorter novels, serializations, and any other pieces of fiction that exceed the traditional novelette length (17,499 words).

Each DRM-free title will be available exclusively for purchase, unlike the current fiction that is offered for free on the site, and will have full publisher support behind it. It will have a heavy digital focus but all titles will be available via POD and audio formats. We will also consider traditional print publishing for a select number of titles a year. All titles will be available worldwide.

It's a little bit weird because the site started as a publisher blog site and is strongly affiliated with Tor still so it's a little weird that there is going to be books published by Tor and the ones from Tor.com as a separate entity. But I suppose this will allow Macmillan (that owns them both) to experiment with direct, global book distribution - some of the titles offered will be coming from Tor Books and TorUK catalogues.

With the recent dispute between Amazon.com and publisher - Hachette about the terms for selling Hachette's e-books on the site. Amazon has slowed the delivery Hachette books, raised prices and has removed pre-order buttons. If you need any of the Hachette published books fast Amazon advises you to use another retailer. But it has dominated the market so well that it's getting harder and harder to get stuff somewhere else. So maybe Tor.com (and Macmillan) are right to go global by themselves while they still can. Not the Macmillan isn't a big company who wants to dominate as much of the market as possible. It's just that at least there are one of a few and not the only one. At least there are alternatives.
ellestra: (tiger)
It's Towel Day today. I hope you all know where your towels are.


I just learned that general Jaruzelski died today. This made me feel weird as he is, for me connected to my early childhood memories. I was to young to care about politics when communism ended but old enough to remember it. So I remember liking going to 1st of May parades - I love them as we would go the whole family and then have ice cream (if it was hot) or sausages (if it was cold) after and they would give us stuff for free (hats, scarves, paper flowers and little flags - my favourite was blue with white dove on it). As I was from Warsaw we were in the big parade that walked by all the dignitaries. I remember Jaruzelski sitting there looking just like on TV with his sunglasses - my first ever celebrity spotting.

My friend (who is also Polish and here on post-doc) was run over by a car few days ago. She was on a bike and a guy decided to just drive into her. Her leg is broken and she's stuck at home. We learned that US medical care is not only overpriced but also lousy - the guy in urgent care wouldn't even wear gloves or clean her wound until she asked him to repeatedly. But she said the policemen were very nice. And even though she is stuck at home she finally has people visiting her at her flat. If only any of us understood how the whole insurance thing works... Everyone here keeps mentioning something about lawyers and that sounds scary.

But the really upsetting thing - at least to certain corners of the internet - is the fact that Edgar Wright and Marvel broke up and he's no longer the director of Ant-Man. I can't say I care either way but I always liked watching the fandom melt down over the smallest things (Quicksilver(s), Ben Affleck, Ben Affleck's Batman costume) like it's the end of the world.
ellestra: (cosima)
Today is Ada Lovelace Day and this means this year it's on my birthday. Ada Lovelace Day besides reminding people of her achievements is also about the achievements of all women in STEM, both historic and modern. She was the first programmer but many don't think of There are many events that are happening today but the one that I like the most is Ada Lovelace Edit-a-thon 2013- editing Wikipedia to put in more articles about women in science. Most of Wikipedia editors are male and it suffers from certain bias and this is set to rectify that.

This is also a day to blog about women in science but since this is my birthday and I am a woman and a scientist and so are many of my friends this is about people who don't qualify for the Wikipedia (yet).

I just went for a trip with my friends. They both work in NIH so they just had two weeks of unplanned vacations anyway and they just started third. The US government shutdown means they cannot even check their emails not to mention getting anywhere close to the Institute. They do get paid - one is postdoc and the other is a student on Polish scholarship - so they should just lay back and enjoy it, right? But science is not only a job but also a passion - something you like to do if you stayed with it so far. And most importantly it takes time to plan and execute the experiments. Stuff they did just before the shutdown - weeks of work - went to drain. The reagents are getting old. The time is running out. One of the friends has to go back to Poland soon to finish her PhD and there are experiment she needs to do before she goes and she is running out of time.

And they even don't have it that bad. They are working on bacteria and yeast which means the experiments are relatively short and you can freeze (literally) what you are working on. There are people who work on things that take months or even years and sometimes also could save people's lives. Most people think about NIH as completely non-essential so they don't pay attention to how it cripples not only one of the best science institutions in the world but also all that's connected to it - and that's most of American science. That is something that makes the technological advancement possible and brought countless scientists from all over the world here. If this continues and repeats again they all may find something else to do somewhere safer. I know for some of those who caused shutdown this would actually be a desirable result but I hope it's not going to happen.

Women in science are still facing bias and it's more difficult for us to keep working and get on tenure track. It's better then it used to be and daycares are more and more available (my friend's husband who also works for NIH now has to take care of two small kids and he's already had enough) but it's still harder and bunch of politicians throwing temper tantrum doesn't help.
ellestra: (big gun)
I was to write something interesting and coherent but I got distracted by this list of most amazing cat gifs. Ignore the title - and just watch your brain turning into awww.

For the rest of you you can get suitably annoyed by Americans appropriating even the hurricanes for their internal politics


And the victim blaming among zombies


on your own. Or not. You can just laugh instead.

I'm just acutely aware that both views are held by the same people. And then they make decisions about other people's lives. And that's not funny at all. You should've stayed distracted by cats, shouldn't you?
ellestra: (aeryn)
I mostly avoided commenting during the pre-election period as I try to not be too involved in other country politics. I get all my facepalms and excitement at home (seriously - the whole TNT on the Smoleńsk plane thing was like really bad conspiracy theory ridiculous). I don't need anybody else's. But I live in US now and I had opportunity to watch the whole American presidential election process from up close. Or rather was forced to watch as on could not escape it.

I learned few months ago, to my surprise, that I live in swing state. I was pretty sure this was Republican to the core - reinforced by the whole putting real marriage thing in the state constitution. But it turns out that between the academic regions and pretty high percentage of black and Hispanic voters it was on the brink to the very end.

It did go for Mitt Romney in the end but barley and it obviously didn't make any difference. It all went like the maths predicted and frankly part of my disinterest comes from the fact that I tend to believe maths more then just people talking on TV. I think my biggest satisfaction was not Barack Obama's win (I like almost all the world wanted him to win just because Republican increasingly land between crazy and repugnant) but because it showed the superiority of science over feelings. Facts and reality don't change just because your gut tells you something else is true. Even when you want it really, really hard.

I know it's easy to say when it goes your way. Especially the most famous one was made by someone who is openly liberal and gay and therefore enemy by default. However, if several statistical models tell you basically the same thing and you see it come true exactly as predicted you may want to consider that maths doesn't have bias - you do.

From my point of view the whole process seemed way too long, extremely loud and annoying and practically inescapable. One doesn't realise it from outside but inside the amount of money spend on it is so immense you are being attacked on every corner, every channel and every site. And the way they attack each other and their respective news outlets attack the other side and the base is almost disgusting. Right is worse but left looks better only in comparison. Even the people who stay in the middle are horrible. It's almost like there's no news programs left. Just one giant cycle of political tabloid. I miss CNN International and BBC World - actual news. It's scary when things like hurricane Sandy seem like a relief.

I mentioned being annoyed by all the youtube ads before but it got even worse. And you cannot escape it as there's no pre-election silence so the ads and meetings and polls seem to come almost non-stop. Even on election day. I stopped watching news because all the commercials were campaign ads (in other programs - about 50%). If not presidential then local. There were some gems though. I couldn't believe this one was real when I first saw it as it's like something out of Doctor Horrible (sung by Bad Horse henchmen) but it was real and the guy won. Enjoy:


As for the results I'm most happy that the rape Republicans lost, women got most seats in Senate ever and the WoW playing Democrat won. As a non-voter she was my candidate - female gamer persecuted for her hobby and with Polish surname - I rooted for her too win. Even though she is from completely different state. But then I know people here for who the most important outcome of this election was legalising marijuana in couple of states on the other side of the country.

And just because I am socialist and US election matters to the rest of the world I will share with you the schadenfraude filled Republican Tears. But because I'm Polish and I understand being stuck between tolerable party and crazy party I will also share John Scalzi's Post-Election Notes For the GOP.
ellestra: (charlie jade)
I really want Americans to be done already with their elections. It's getting really annoying. I've been watching a lot of youtube lately (catching up on Crash Course) and I swear 90% ads were one of the candidates talking to me in soothing voice or attacking the opponent. Most of them couldn't be skipped. I understand the need for adds but at least hulu gives me an option to tell it it is not relevant to me and pick something else. If I could just tell them all that yes, the geolocation is right - I am in US but I'm a foreigner and cannot vote in your elections (which is what I tell to all the people who stop me on the street wanting to register me to vote). They are even worse targeted then beer commercials (alcohol - even worse tasting than coffee) because, even if I could vote, my political views are left of what American political scene offers. This means Republicans are out of question - no convincing required.

And this rant came out when the show I was to watch on TV was replaced by Romney speaking. I hate when that happens. Makes me dislike the perpetrator instantly. It's a childhood trauma of all that football matches extra time that superseded my goodnight cartoons.
ellestra: (Default)


If i didn't recognise most of these men I could believe it was serious. I'm sure there are those who would just nod in agreement. Like all the church representatives back in Poland. Sometimes politics here reminds me what I vote against in Polish elections.
ellestra: (Default)
Today two famous leaders have died. The news of Vaclav Havel death have been announced this morning and just a moment ago the news sources from North Korea admitted Kim Jong Il is dead. It's hard to imagine two political figures who would be more apart. In fact the only thing they had in common was being politicians who headed their countries. One was a freedom fighter who was imprisoned for opposing totalitarian government before leading his country to democracy, the other was a tyrant. One was openly criticised during his years as a president, the other was glorified by his people. One left when people chose another, the other cling to the power until his last breath. I'm sure you know whose passing is the bigger news. It's pretty clear whose passing was greeted with more sadness. I wonder which is a bigger tragedy. After all, as with any dictatorship that is so dependent on the leader, that leader's death can lead to any number of changes both good and bad.

I remember the hope felt when Kim Il Sung died and there was a hope Kim Jong Il could be more open leader. That he would follow the democratisation that was happening in the former socialist countries. North Korea was close to USSR and Kim Jong Il was born there. It obviously didn't happen. Now his youngest son is supposed to get the power. It's still can result in power struggle. Kim Jong Il's brother has been an North Korean ambassador in Poland for over a decade but now he's back there. Kim Jong Un also has two brothers. This may end up with a war, just continue as it is or it can lead to North Korea opening to the world. Even with all the uncertainty I'm feel nothing but glad he died. I waited for that to happen for years. I'm glad he is dead. That doesn't happen often. Not even with people I really dislike. But, as with Osama earlier this year, good riddance.

Vaclav Havel was always close to Polish politicians coming from the communist opposition movement. When he left politics he also became frequent visitor in Poland. His plays were in theatres, he promoted his books. He spoke Polish fluently - I was always impressed when I saw him on TV how good it was. He was sometimes controversial and more right wing then I'm comfortable with but he made a world a little better place and one doesn't usually think that of politicians. He was sick for a long time so his death wasn't surprise but I wish he had a little more time.

I think this is just that time of the year. Both my father's parents died on 15th of December (years apart and in case of my grandmother suddenly on operating table). Coincident as today but makes me think of the weekend before Christmas as death season. I was reminded of this when I read that Cesaria Evora died yesterday. She was popular in Poland so her death was on all the news sites. Now  I feel like every time I look somebody else's death in on top.
ellestra: (Default)
I just came back home from Washington. I applied for new passport and I voted. I needed to do first and my friend made me realise I picked the election weekend so I registered and voted. I didn't do it last year in presidential election as it's a little too far. This year I was there anyway so there was no excuse. Even if I didn't travel I could've theoretically voted as this was the first election we could've voted by mail. However, everyone I know said they learned too late about that option (me too frankly but I was there in person). The important part is that the reasonable people won so the country shouldn't crash and burn any time soon so I should've a place to come back to. And for the first time the same party stays in power for the second term.

I saw at least some of the most iconic sights in Washington - White House (smaller then I thought), Washington Monument (bigger then I thought) and I walked the National Mall. Although, I didn't see all as the Washington Monument is closed after being cracked by the earthquake, the Reflecting Pool is a big mud pit and the museum I really wanted to see - the Air and Space one was closed because of protesters. But I had great time at the National Zoo and Museum of Natural History and saw the Capitol and the Library of Congress. But my timing was a little off as today is the Columbus Day - the only day in the year when the Reading Room of the Library of Congress is opened to the public and I left the city just as it opened. My last day for sightseeing was yesterday and a friend took me me to Potomac waterfalls and it was perfect sunny day. You'll have to wait for the photos though as they are still have to be transferred and processed.

Smoked

Jun. 21st, 2011 11:59 pm
ellestra: (Default)
It's hot. Today it was 37C and tomorrow won't be much better.

It's humid. Outside is like sauna. The moment you walk out the door the skin feels clammy and sticky.

But worst of all is the smoke.

At first we thought it was just the humidity. Like being in a cloud. The world started to disappear. Usually we can see far away hills from our window and today they were just barely visible outlines.

Then we walked outside and we could smell it. Like something was burning. It smelled just like bonefire smoke. And in a way it is. There are woods burning and the smoke is coming this way.

I remember something like this from my first visit in US. I was in Montana and it was exceptionally hot and dry summer. The southern part of state was burning and despite the fact we were on the other end of the state the smoke was so thick you couldn't see the mountains at all on some days.

It wasn't all that surprising. Underneath the trees everything is so dry it falls apart at a touch. Anything can start a fire and from Texas to Florida anything is.

This is not the only place drying out. Western Europe is having one of the worst droughts in half of century and the crops will be down for sure this year. Despite what some say the food shortage won't be felt by those countries. At least not as much as those who are already in dire situation. The food price will rise again and it will be hard for more people but it's not the rich countries that suffer the worst. It's the poor ones. France, Germany and other European countries will just buy the food they need on international markets but this will mean the prices will rise and there won't be enough and/or it will be too expensive for the poorer ones. This is how the last year's revolutions started - food shortages did what the lack of freedom couldn't. But being democracy doesn't buy food and this year might be worse then the last one. The thing about living in a global village is that we all buy stuff at the same market.  Let's hope next year the bread baskets don't get stricken by anymore natural disasters.

Meanwhile they keep promising us rain but I haven't seen one since week and a half ago and one storm won't help anyway. It's too dry anyway. The funny thing is we did this to ourselves. And when we die out the world will just move on.

And we are all getting smoked slowly. My pet theory right now it's aliens preparing us for consumption.
ellestra: (Default)
Yesterday was the wedding day. It was everywhere all day long. Well, it was everywhere for a while now but the last week it was slowly culminating and yesterday it was just insane. I find it hilarious that Americans were so overtaken by the whole thing over 200 years after they made sure it was not their royalty. Including the constant reminders Obamas were not invited. This is what independence leads to - all the Commonwealth leaders were invited. Also being a king or something like it also helps. I had one weird moment when I realised that for British royal family inviting other European royals is like inviting most prominent members of your extended family. I wonder if they catch up on family gossip since the last time (the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden wedding I think) like normal families do. But I admit the wedding was pretty and the bride and groom looked happy.

Tomorrow is the pope John Paul II beatification day. And the Polish media are as crazy about this as American are about the royal wedding. I'm glad I'm far away as I don't think I could take it all day long. And as this is the beginning of long weekend in Poland as 3rd is day off. This will be a constant topic all that time. I'm happy I'm far enough to be almost unaware of all the political bullshit that this most cause with all the politicians trying to use this for their gain and calling each other unworthy of even mentioning pope's name. Way to many instances of remembrance that can be used for political gain in last month.

There were also devastating tornadoes in the US last week but they didn't warrant as much attention despite people dying. This time there were not in North Carolina although we got tornado warnings again. I'm kind of creeped out by this happening so close. Being European, big disasters were always something happening far away. There were instances of tornadoes in Poland but they are to the ones here as orcans are to hurricanes. The devastation scale is just not the same.

Now I'm going to my friend's concert and I hope I'll be back soon enough to catch Doctor Who repeat when I come back.

Winning

Jul. 4th, 2010 08:41 pm
ellestra: (Default)
I've been refreshing Polish news portals whole evening. Today is the day of second, final round of presidential elections in Poland. It's runoff ballot, demanded by Polish law when an earlier round of voting failed to give either candidate more than 50 percent of the vote. As it was predicted the two candidates left were the ones supported by the two main parties. And as I was afraid Jarosław Kaczyński came close to winning thanks to his brother's tragic death.

Neither of the candidates is someone I would chose, as they both come from right wing, religious backgrounds. Like for so many people I know Bronisław Komorowski is lesser evil. His rival's ultracatholic, xenophobic version of patriotism supported by the Radio Maryja too unbearable to care about Komorowski's shortcomings. This was for many people the vote to stop the return of what plagued Poland for last few years. The pissing contest between the prime minister and the president.

If I was in Poland I would be asleep by now. It is after all 3 a.m there but here it's not dark yet and this is to close for comfort. The first exit poles had Komorowski winning. Then when the 50% of votes were counted Kaczyński was getting over 50% of votes. Now with 89% counted Komorowski is back at the lead. So I keep refreshing the page. The final results should be known before I 'll go to sleep.

Either way this will be our 3rd subsequent president with the name starting with K. I'm sure that no matter what the k-word* will be what many waking up in the morning will think first.

*very bad but extremely popular curse word

EDIT: I went to see fireworks and now it's 95% votes counted. It seems Komorowski's victory has been ascertained.
And my two favourite teams get to the World Cup  finals (Holland and Germany). Its been a good weekend.

ellestra: (charlie jade)
This year was always to be the year of presidential elections in Poland. In the 10th of April plane crash two of the presidential candidates were killed. One of them was the reining president. This means that the election has to be sooner - in June instead of October. It also meant that two parties had to chose new candidates. The social-democratic replacement candidate was chosen last week but in current Polish political situation that party's candidate never stood a chance. Everyone was waiting who will be chosen by the main opposition party from which the late president came. Today it was announced that it will be his twin brother.

President Kaczyński was buried in the Wawel where the kings and important historical figures were buried. Some people protested but I, despite agreeing that he didn't do anything deserving the honor, thought it was something people needed. Funerals are for the living. After such a great tragedy people needed a great gestures to help them to deal with shock and grief. After all some of the kings did to deserve it was to be born. He deserved it by dieing.

I however dislike the hypocrisy that followed his death. During the week after the crash everyone was acting like he was a great, misunderstood and tragic figure, even though just before he was often ridiculed and wildly disliked.

I didn't like president Kaczyński. I never voted for him. I think he was lousy president of Warsaw and bad president of Poland. Most people agreed. Warsaw didn't vote for him in last presidential election despite the fact that the whole region around it did. The only thing he did for the city was the Warsaw Uprising museum. Meanwhile roads and, communication problems just got worse. As a president of the country he was petty, self-centered and sulky. Again all the most positive thing that came from his rule is history related. Although I appreciate the fact that not only the Russians finally admitted the crimes that NKVD (Stalin's secret police) committed in Katyń but also that the rest of the world heard about it (even though I don't think it was worth all does lives). But a nation doesn't live on history and in current affair he was a disaster.  Many Poles, including me, were waiting for this year's election hoping he will lose. According to all pols he was set to lose. Just like his brother lost the Parliamentary election just two years after his party took the power.

Now his brother is trying to use pity votes to get his position as president. And I'm sure this is counting on sympathy of people because he was even more disliked then the late president. The late president who had almost no chances for second term. The thought that he may make it, makes me consider going all the way to Washington to vote against him in June. I got friends there that have already invited me to come sometime...

[*]

Apr. 12th, 2010 08:04 pm
ellestra: (Default)


When I woke up yesterday I hoped it was all a bad dream but it's real. This is so hard to take in. So many people who influenced Polish politics (and my life) for many years. It feels strange to be so far away from it all.

Those who died.

The presidential election must take part in two months but two of main candidates died in this catastrophe and another is now acting president. It's hard to even think about this. And then there are all the Senate seats - there have to be elections for those too (the seats of the lower house of the Parliament are filled automatically by the same party). All the other positions that have to be filled - all military leaders are gone, the National Bank of Poland chairman, the Ombudsman for Citizen Rights. It's so hard to take in.

I wish I could go home. Instead I watch pictures. I'm proud of the way Polish people reacted.
Warsaw in mourning

And I'm thankful to Russians - the outpour of help and condolences have been heartwarming. One good thing coming of this tragedy is that the relations between our two nations haven't been that good for a long time. Seeing Vladimir Putin embrace our prime minister...
Medvedev, Gorbachev sign condolence book for Kaczynski
Poland and Russia mourn crash victims

[`](')[`]

Apr. 10th, 2010 10:18 am
ellestra: (Default)
I just woke up an hour ago and the first thing I saw when I opened the computer was a message from my father on Skype

Polish President and 95 other people died in a plane crash

Lech Kaczyński, his wife and a lot of civilian and military official and religious leaders were on the plane to Smoleńsk. They were going to Katyń for 70th anniversary of the Katyń massacre of thousands of Poles by Soviet forces during WWII. This is the reason why the was so many prominent people on one plane. Of all the times it could crash...

I've been watching the news for an hour but I still can't believe it. I disliked him and disagreed with all his political views but now all I feel is shock and sadness.

4.06.1989

Jun. 4th, 2009 08:18 pm
ellestra: (Default)
Everyone is remembering people massacred on Tiananmen Square 20 years ago. But the 4th of June 1989 was a day full of important events - Ufa train disaster in Russia killed over half thousand people, Iran got new Ayatollah and Poland had first (semi-)free elections.

I was just a kid then. Didn't care much about politics. I couldn't vote. But I knew it was important. Changed my life completely.

That wasn't a very TV moment. After all people going to vote is a routine event in many countries in the world. Routine enough for people to skip it and don't care. It's no wonder what the world remembers about changes is the Berlin Wall. That was a TV moment. But that was the end. The fall of communism started here. It wasn't the 4th, although it is the convenient date. It started earlier when Solidarity movement was legalized, when the Round Table talks started. Or even earlier with glasnost' in USSR. But once again none of that was a very TV moment. That came later. Slow changes.

Other countries of Eastern-bloc looked at what happened in Poland and waited to see if USSR would intervene. If after we chose the rebels they would send tanks. But they didn't and that ball started rolling.  It paved the way to the Autumn of Nations.  And communism ended in Europe.

Wars, battles, destruction are much more memorable. Peace happens slowly with talking heads and deals. Peace usually is boring. It in not made of great gestures. But then the Chinese curse says "May you live in interesting times". It's better to take boring. Unfortunately China got the interesting part. That's why everyone remembers their anniversary not ours. That's why 1981 in Poland and tanks on the street is better remembered then 1989.

I'm old enough to remember communism. To remember empty shelves, closed borders and no ads on tv (OK that wasn't that bad but there was only two tv channels then). Now I live in a country that's part of EU. I can travel through most of Europe without passport and buy a can that has inside the thing that is described on the label. This Sunday I will go vote in elections to the European Parliament.

Politicians in Poland has been fighting for a while about who was the most important and "really" won us freedom but the most important part is that they all can speak their mind. At the same time in China noone can speak of  Tiananmen Square. I got my freedom but they still cannot search the internet without being censored. Both our countries tried for freedom. That day we made it. Theirs try ended in blood. Drama is good for celebrities not for nations to live with. I hope the Chinese one day will get their boring revolution.
ellestra: (Default)
I was listening to the nth discussion on how Obama will have to face all the over the top hopes and how people expect him to just make the world better and stop the crisis and I couldn’t help thinking about Malazan.

Spoilers for MBotF up to Reaper's Gale )

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