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Polandian on Sunday #6

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Welcome to Polandian on Sunday (with a slight delay due to author’s weekend break in Sopot). Here is a brief summary of what happened this week in Poland.

1. Warsaw’s future architecture

When you’re having a walk down the Warsaw’s Powiśle neighborhood why not pop into the Warsaw University Library. Since this week it is hosting an exhibition Plans for the future presenting what is going to be built in Warsaw. Organisers collected visualisations and models for various building and new developments. A sneak peek into what is coming.

Most praised

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This apartment house, planned to be built in Traugutta street, respects the architecture of its area, being modern and light at the same time.

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The new wing of the ASP Beaux-Arts Academy at the Vistula bank. Those huge windows will give sculpture and film set students some great views.

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This Muslim Cultural Institute with minaret-like tower will be an original addition to Ochota district. There is something for the mind (lecture hall) and for the spirit (prayer room).

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In times when walled districts become the fashion – this open complex at the former Norblin factory is like a breathe of fresh air. There is place for appartments, shops, offices and various facilities – like theater. Pedestrianised streets and markets make this a human-friendly development.

Most criticised

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IPN – The Historical Institute is going to construct a new digitising centre in the Służewiec district. Architects complain that the design is similar to communist offices and follows boring patterns.

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This boxy kindergarten is to be constructed in the intensively developing Wilanów district. It is being criticised as too tiny for the huge developments nearby and for its container-like form.

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The offices of WOSiR – administrator of Warsaw’s sports and recreation facilities, near the Polonia stadium, doesn’t fit its neighbourhood with its disturbing, irregular shape.

2. Poland lifts (some) restrictions on foreigner real estate ownership

When Poland joined the European Union five years ago many people feared foreigners will come and buy out farms and houses. For this reasons some temporary restrictions were enforced.

EU citizens had to apply for a special permission, each time they wanted to buy land, house or apartment. Since May the 1st 2009 EU nationals from other countries are allowed to purchase houses and apartments on free market. However some restrictions still apply to land – especially farms and forests.

3. Long live comrade president!

This Saturday Poland saw an unusual happening. Janusz Palikot, an eccentric millionaire MP from the ruling Civic Platform party organised an open reading of president’s LLD thesis in the Museum of Social-Realism in Kozłówka. President Lech Kaczyński and his twin brother’s Law and Justice party are famous for their uncompromising policy towards Poland’s communist past. Some people however point to the fact that their politicians demand people manifested courage in communist time – while they, the Law and Justice party officials, had been conformist themselves. Mr Palikot’s happening was to prove just that.

President Lech Kaczyński, law professor, hasn’t exactly boasted about his LLD thesis. It was revealed that this work is written from a communist party point of view, in the style of communist newspeak. Lech Kaczyński was not a communism-refusenik, who would consider a decrease in standard of living for his ideals.

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Mr Palikot in white.

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== POLANDIANOMETER ==


What’s hot what’s not this week in Poland

GOING UP

Safer sex – Yes. Despite the Catholics shouldn’t use that devilish invention! Poles have stopped reproducing. Statistical office predicts the number of inhabitants in Poland will decline rapidly. It is said in 2060 for every three people in working age, there will be two people in retirement.
Poland has changed, more people are now into having comfortable lives and only as many children as they could afford to educate. The government is not doing anything effective to help people balance family and work, nor to assure an equal, good start for all children. Without proper social policies or immigrants we are destined to shrink as a nation. But there is a good news: it will be easier to find a parking spot.

GOING DOWN

Conflicts between the president and prime minister – Which seriously start to work on everyone’s nerves. Can we get anything done please for a change? In Kenya they’ve come up with an original way to end rows between their president and prime minister. Their wives said there will be no sex, until they start to get along with each other.
We’ve tested everything in Poland, maybe it’s time for unusual methods already?

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Polandian on Sunday #5

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Welcome to Polandian on Sunday with a brief summary of what happened this week in Poland.

1. Poland to launch a Mars base

This week plans for a Polish Martian base were announced. The originality of the idea is to actually build the base on Earth rather than on Mars, and save some money in times of crisis.

Just kidding – this is a serious business: The facility was designed at the Gdańsk University of Technology and project managed by the Mars Society Polska. It will allow not only scientific research, but will also include an education and hotel module. It will be open to tourists and visitors and will provide education programme for youth and astronomy enthusiasts. The facility, which will be bult in the city of Toruń, is to be completed by the year 2011. Similar bases already function in the US state of Utah and in Canada, however these are closed for the public.

The project has the backing of Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), European Space Agency and NASA.

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There are already quite a few interesting things to see in Toruń. The beautiful and atmospheric Old Town is filled with spectacular medieval sights all there to admire while you lazily sip coffee or beer in one of many open-air cafes and restaurants. Toruń, since the middle ages, is also the place where the most delicious ginger-bread cookies are made. Apart from buying the legendary delicacies, visitors often choose to have a go themselves at baking. Local Gingerbread Museum offers cooking classes in medieval style.

However, the city which calls itself “cosmopolis”, also has a more cosmic dimension. Nicolaus Copernicus, the first to discover Earth revolves around the Sun, and not the other way around, is probably the city’s most famous inhabitant. Today Toruń is a home to an important astronomy research centre where visitors can listen to the radio signals from outer-space, cuddle one of the largest radio telescopes in Europe and visit a planetarium. Soon they will be able to check out how it feels to be on Mars or try on a space suit. Cool, huh?

2. Controversial police adverts

The police have begun a new awareness campaign on motorcycle accidents. According to police data, most of the accidents in which motorcycles take part end with serious injuries that leave people permanently disabled.

To make their message perfectly clear, the police and their advertising agency BBDO, have come up with a following poster

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The slogan reads “Spring is coming. Time for vegetables”. And a smaller print underneath: “Use your imagination – slow down”.

Motorcyclists felt upset and filed a complaint to the Ombudsman.

3. Crisis food

The crisis has a wonderful media coverage and so far, thankfully, it is present mostly in the media in Poland, rather than in the “real world”. Who could expect the crisis would become a source of inspiration for this entrepreneurial nation? The media in Poznań region, where inhabitants are known for their lack of enthusiasm for spending money (to say it mildly) report on new “crisis” foods.

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Local butchers have come up with a new kiełbasa kryzysowa (crisis sausage). It is cheap: 9 zł/kg while for instance the traditional kiełbasa śląska costs twice as much. Poznań-person’s dream come true. There’s a similar idea at local Fabryka kanapek, a sandwich retailer. The assistant proudly presents their recession sandwich (“kanapka recesyjna”), with gherkin and pork crackling. Local white collars reportedly praise this as an alternative to chicken breast and cherry tomatoes.

Zofia Golusińska, a Poznań restaurateur complains that bank executives who used to be her regular customers, now pretend to be hit by the crisis and have stopped eating lunches at her restaurant. She’s luring them back with a special “crisis menu” hoping lower prices will discourage her customers from bringing their own food to work.

In Warsaw, on the other hand, moods are quite different. Compared with modest Poznań, Varsavians continue to indulge in sensual pleasures: they have just voted for the city’s new cake.

The wuzetka cake, Warsaw’s old sweet symbol was simple, square, dark and heavy. It originated in the communist era, and became the favourite served in cafes. Black and white layers were to resemble the tarmac – as the cake was named after an inner-city motorway. The new zygmuntówka is a light pastry with delicate creamy filling, exotic cranberries, topped with meringue.  It resembles the new playful and naughty spirit of Warsaw, and the local tendency to show-off.

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GOING UP

Swine flu panic
– Don’t panic people, read WHO factsheet. This is not a deadly virus. This swine flu behaves more or like ordinary flu. 1-4% of those infected have died – but the exact number of sick is unknown, as they only discovered this illness by accident – which means mild cases who have recovered themselves probably weren’t probably ever found out, so the “mortality rate” could be way of proportions. Or not, and then you may panic.

GOING DOWN

Condom sales for the underage –  Seriously – this is a bizarre story. Rossmann, the retailer of cosmetics and chocolate bars was asking every young condom-buyer for an ID. They refused to sell it to those who weren’t eighteen yet. This policy has come to light this week. Apparently Rossman was sent a letter by the Ombudsman for children, the same person who suspected one of the teletubbies was “promoting” homosexuality. Such letter had no executive power whatsoever. Moreover it is a public offence to refuse a sale of publicly available products.

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