Author Archives: Pawel

PoS #8

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PoS is back to Polandian! Yes, the holidays were hard this year! Now in September armed with tan and hotel towels we can get back to business. In this episode we sum up what was hot and not this summer.

POLANDIANOMETER – KEY SUMMER TRENDS

GOING UP

Catholic Sexual Harassment – In June Benedict XVI had sent congratulatory message to the former Archbishop of Poznan Juliusz Paetz on 50 years of Church service. Mr Paetz became famous 7 years ago following allegations that he had been molesting young clerics and priests. He was forced to go on retirement. The case was silenced, allegations never went to court, no one has ever apologised to the victims. We can only congratulate the pope on the choice of whom he sees fit to be congratulated.

The news – which are safer then sex and just as enjoyable. At least according to the Poles. In a June  survery Rzeczpospolita daily asked what kind of television programme would the respondents have to come across in order to stop zapping channels. 43% named news shows. Which were followed by sports and animal programmes. Erotic scenes were at the bottom of the list, together with weather, at 13%.

GOING DOWN

Taking shower butt-naked – In July newspapers reported that a swimming pool in Bielsko-Biała appeals to its customers to “have culture and shower in underwear”. Naked bodies are reportedly offensive to the God-fearing folk of this town. People are especially concerned for children, who have to view people with bare bums and genitalia on full display – when changing clothes or showering. We suggest burkas.

The Ombusdman Janusz Kochanowski  – who was quoted by the press in July when he spoke on being upset wirh the Warsaw Madonna concert “If she is properly dressed, and there are no provocations or religious elements I will send her a basket of flowers”. How very freedom of expression of him.

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Polandian Supplement will publish regularly every now and then. PoS used to mean “Polandian on Sunday”. As we are no longer taking the Sunday slot, PoS now means Polandian Supplement. Yes, we know it’s clever.

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BBC's shocking incompetence

I was surfing the internet to see how various media cover the story of the 70th anniversary of the breakout of the Second World War remembrance service, that Polandian metioned in previous post.

Naturally I went to the BBC. I wasn’t pleased what they wrote, in this article as I felt it didn’t explain anything to an average Western person, nor does it clarify what is a fact and what isn’t.

What struck me, was the map at the bottom of the page. This map: (now apparently erased by the BBC)

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According to the BBC it shows the German attack on Poland. Only Poland never existed in this shape at this time in history. Just to remind BBC journalists how it looked like:

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Find differences. And I don’t mean that BBC put Gdańsk where Elbląg is, I mean that they cut the whole Eastern part of Poland from their map, and signed it Soviet Union.

It shows coplete lack of basic knowledge on the part of BBC staff. Germany attacked Poland in the 1st September 1939. At this time Poland’s Eastern boarders were unchanged. Only on the 17th of September 1939 followed the attack of the Soviet Union. Showing this map like this is illogical and makes completely no sense.

Unless you are in favour of the USSR, and regard 1939 Eastern Poland as their territory. And you want to omit mentioning 17th September Soviet invasion. But I would doubt BBC supported Stalinist Soviet Union:)

It is a mistake, although I think that this is not just a mistake. It is a proof of ignorance. If they didn’t know THAT what else don’t they know? If they don’t udnerstand what USSR did, where it was on tha map, when it attacked whom how can they inform accurately on its role in the war? How can they understand Kaczynskis words? If they don’t understand that part in history, they can’t interpret it properly.

While many people around the world treat BBC as the most trusted source.

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I managed to make some screenshots – click for larger image

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September the 1st

On the 1st September 2009, 70 years after the breakout of the Second World War, world leaders will come to Westerplatte in Gdańsk, Poland, where it all began. They will pay tribute to the victims, line the paths of reconcilliation and vow to make sure similar things don’t happen again. But as delegations iron their shirts and pack bags, many people feel let down again.

Germany and Russia, the perpetrators of the 1939 attack on Poland they conducted in agreement and concord with each other, are sending the highest authorities: Angela Merkel, who is engaged in a longstanding genuine effort for German-Polish (and other) reconcilliation, and Vladimir Putin, who isn’t. Among those attending are many heads of states. The EU will be represented by the prime minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt, a country currently holding the presidency. Jerzy Buzek, the newly appointed speaker of the European Parliament, former Polish prime minister, will act as a symbol of a new era in Central Europe.

It is however the absentees, who are most talked about. It is a very important occasion for Polish politicians, and diplomatic world knows it. Absence, therefore, says a lot. French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Gordon Brown the prime minister of the UK and the American president Barack Obama decided they had more important things to do, are sending their representatives of lower rank. These decisions received very cold reception among many Poles. They feel France and Britain have betrayed Poland in 1939, by not providing military help to which they have commited themselves in treaties. And thay say, together with the USA they betrayed Poland once again after the war, leaving her for Soviet occupation. Therefore Poland, an ally that managed to defend longer than France, has become the only ally that didn’t actually win the war. And today, many feel, that these leaders can’t even manage to find three hours to appear on official celebrations. This is noted, and Poles have a good memory – as one of commentators put it on a Polish news channel.

This is a very important day. For many decades we weren’t allowed to talk freely about what happened during the Second World War. Communist dictatorship blanked out half of our war fate from official memory. Some Western countries were able to remember what happened and have moved on. We didn’t, we are remembering it now. It is the last big anniversary when witnesses are still alive. We need this – a Warsaw pedestrian told Polsat News.

Popular feelings are reflected in the press, which comments that relations with Poland have become the last priority for the United States. And that she is not getting anything in return for being America’s faithful ally. Polish effort in Iraq, and Afghanistan turn out not to be “lives and money well spent”. Oil contracts did not happen. Promised investment (off-set in return for aircraft deal) is not coming. USA are pulling off the missile shield. And on top of that Poles still need visas to travel to the US. Opinion polls on Poland’s participation in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are falling flat.

Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy are not coming either. Is it only because standing in Gdansk, they would have to refer to their countries performance as Poland’s allies? Or the opportunities their countries missed, after the war, to talk about Stalin’s atrocities? Or is it just relations with Poland are on the far end of important issues? After all Gordon Brown did bother to visit the shores of Normandy, when Nicolas Sarkozy invited him for remembrance ceremony.

Some point this could mean that the world is going back to making politics over the heads of smaller nations.

What happened 70 years ago changed the world and shaped today’s reality, we should make sure that it is accurately remembered. It involved two wicked ideologies, that co-operated until 1941. One executing a racist plan of cleansing the Europe of Jews, Slavs and other peoples, and their cultures, treasures and sights, to make room in the East for the German ‘race’. The other intended to expand its model of murderous dictatorship and dominane worldwide on the basis of changing the social relations. Hundreds thousands were enslaved and maked forced-labourers, millions of men, women and children were killed in concentration camps and gulags. Shot in łapankas, bombings, killed in battle. It all happed in the cultured Europe, among the statues of great philosophers and musicians.
We failed to remember what happened. Most people until this day are not fully aware of the atocities of Stalin. Being among the “winners” of the war, he and his people never got their Nurenberg Trial. We failed to make sure similar things don’t happen again.

As Mrs. Angela Merkel said in her video address, it is right and it is important to be in Gdansk for the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War. Maybe we can stop failing?

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5 things you can do in a Polish forest

30% of Poland is covered by forest. That’s a lot, and there are ways for you to use it.

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Some people coming to live to Poland were not blessed with having such wonderful forests in their countries of origin. Poor souls have no idea about forests, and how it could be a great place to spend free time.

Generally access to public forests (and almost 80% of forests are public) is free. However, sometimes, especially in times of draught, access may be restricted or forbidden.

Forests not only produce timber, but are a treasure for the enviorenment: puryfying the air, and protecting water resources. Providing a home to many species of animals and plants. And a good place to relax. But what else can you do in a forest?

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If you live in Poland, there is probably a forest near you

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1) You can go mushroom picking! Poland is one of those countries where mushroom picking is a hobby and a popular pastime. It’s like a Polish golf… only not snobbish. You spend your time outside, breathe fresh air… You walk, and talk with your friends/family. 
Amateur mushroom-specialists, taught by previous generations, know how to recognise each kind of mushroom – as mushrooms come in many varieties. 
Be warned: don’t pick mushrooms yourself, if you don’t know which are which. Some mushrooms, for instance the amanita phalloides (muchomor sromotnikowy) are highly poisonous (when eaten).

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Amanita phalloides – you want to avoid these

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If you’re too scared of picking up the wrong mushrooms, you can go for berries. Forrests are full of blackberries and wild strawberries. They are delish, healthy, and completely free! Yes, it’s legal to pick them too.

2) You can get birch juice! Birch juice (sok z brzozy) is a refreshing and light drink in taste similar to very lightly sugared water. How do you make it? You don’t. The tree does. When the spring comes, you just make a hole, put a tube in, attach a bottle and voila! It’s natural and very healthy, contains all sorts of microelements and stuff. One of the healthiest drink options.

However when you’re done, fix the hole you made. Glue it with pine resin, or insert a wooden cork and level with the surface of the tree.

If you can’t be bothered with all that, you can still buy bottled birch juice in shops in Poland, but that’s not the same thing. It’s got added sugar and preservatives. But you can try.

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Old fashioned installation for getting birch juice

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3) You can go hunting! To be allowed to hunt, you need to become a member of local hunters’ association (Związek Łowiecki) and pay a special fee (it’s similar with fishing). Hunters’ Associations co-operate with foresters in managing the numbers of animals (like wolf, deer, boar etc.) in forrests. Each year hunters are given quotas of animals they are allowed to shoot. If you enjoy hunting, they will tell you how to arrange everything.

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About to become a fireplace decoration

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4) You can go on a walk or on a bike trip. There are many hiking and biking trails set in the forests and country areas. Usually well marked and with some interesting sights on the way as well as places to refresh yourself. It’s best to enquire about local trails at local tourist information, where most likely special maps and guides will be available for purchase. Ask also about non-marked trails, as Bikers’ Associations and other organisations sometimes make interesting proposals and your local tourist guides may have information about it. PTTK organisation manages many of the official trails, and and provide information and links on their website (in Polish) http://szlaki.pttk.pl/

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Trail marks – should tell you which way to go…

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5) You can learn something! There are many forest stations, with childrens’ facilities and learning centre. Children and tourists can learn there about flora and fauna in the area. There may also be some special events for all sorts of occasions. Ask around, enquite the local tourist information. Many of these institutions have websites.

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Good times at “Forest School” in Barbarka near Toruń

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In a forrest you should never light any fires or smoke cigarettes. And you should always take your trash back with you (if that’s not possible second option is to burry it). If you see that others left their trash, which unfortunately sometimes happens, it doesn’t mean you can do it too.

Otherwise – have fun!

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Polish space invaders target Brussels

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Twenty years ago communism fell in Central and Eastern Europe. It was Poland where the transformation which changed the course of European history began. A special artisic-social project entitled “Common Task” will remind Europeans about events which took place over 20 years ago. On 4th of June 1989 Poland was the first country behind the Iron Curtain to organise free elections.

The “live social sculpture” will appear today in Brussels. There are no VIPs here – Paweł Althamer, artist and project’s organiser told the media. This is a grass-roots project, in which ordinary people participate. It reminds that ordinary people are the ones who can change reality. 20 years ago no one expected that Poland would be free. We thought it was impossible. Our astronauts also never expected to fly to Brussels in a golden airplane.  We set to have fun and enjoy freedom.

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On 4 June at 10.05 a.m., at the Brussels Airport, for the first time in history, golden Boeing 737 of Polish Airlines will land with over 200 people on board, all wearing golden spacesuits.  Golden creatures, residents of Warsaw’s Bródno district, and neighbours of the artist Paweł Althamer, will explore the city of Brussels. Their first stop will be at Expo ‘58 – the area representing the world in its entire complexity condensed into a single elementary particle. The model of atom dominating the national pavilions will be a starting point for the visit to the European Parliament – another place which reminds of the multidimensional character of things, their transitory nature and crossing the borders. They will have a walk around the Grande Place and a picnic at the Royal Park.

Journalists, reporters and everyone who will accopmpany the participants will have to wear the golden space-suit as well.

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Curator’s note reads:

At the heart of Paweł Althamer’s Project lies ‘live’ communication with people, encouragement of interaction and participation in the activity and creative process. Common Task is intended for a broad group of recipients, i.e. those who are interested in modern art as well as accidental passers-by, residents of Brussels. The choice of the place for the event is not accidental either. Brussels is the capital of the united Europe, a continent which barely twenty years ago seemed to be divided forever. In this context, the artistic performance may offer an impulse reminding us of the changes which took place in Poland and which influenced the history of entire Central Europe.

The joint activities are aimed to cross not only the mental but also the physical barriers; in addition to the meetings which are set in everyday reality, the participants also set out on peculiar journeys offering them new possibilities and unusual experiences. Clad in extraordinary spacesuits they balance on the border of two worlds; the one that they know and the new one which is very often a projection of their imagination. The world that they know quite frequently means the unattractive space of the grey and gloomy blocks of flats. The participants are “ordinary” people who have “ordinary” jobs and who are just “people from across the street”. “Common Task” allows them to leave the twilight zone and to appear in a public space which is completely new to them. For them, it is a different world full of people communicating in a foreign language. But it is also the world in which they become visible. What is more, they become the focal point and draw attention of the other people.In this context the Project of Paweł Althamer can be viewed as a social sculpture. The sculpture which is a material object, is transformed into a common experience, a process aimed to introduce a deep going change in the registers of everyday habits. Subject to this artistic transformation is not only a physical object but also the person, consciousness and mental habits. At the same time, Common Task is a meeting and integration place of various social groups and people whose everyday realities do not merge in any way and who are often excluded from the social and cultural rites. Symbolic crossing of the borders thus occurs at many levels.

Video from the press conference

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imagesThis event is part of “It all began in Poland” – celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War and of the 20th anniversary of the collapse of communism in Central Europe. More info at www.3989.pl



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