Sometimes, the full meaning of a moment isn't realized until years later. Dick Brookins certainly had no idea what would come of that December day, back in 1944. Brookins and other members of the U.S. Army's 28th Infantry Division Signal Corps were in Wiltz, a small town in Luxembourg, just days before what would turn into the Battle of the Bulge. This U.S. soldier stood in for an absent Saint Nicholas... it was to change his life and help him find some meaning for the war in Europe. As it turns out, someone was filming that day when an Army jeep carried the American St. Nick through the streets giving treats to the local children. It brought him back 65 years later.
Herman! It's me, it's Cathy, I've come home, whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh, let me in at your position of Europe's first High Representative for Foreign Affairs.
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Guardian recently published a beautiful article about Danish Dynamite, the '80s Danish national soccer (football) squad. Rob Smyth and Lars Eriksen write about how the success and failure of the national team highlighted national traits that Denmark has. The writing about the matches is among the most inspired I have ever read. [more inside]
Latvia's Tiger Economy Loses Its Bite: Less than a year after Latvia joined the E.U. in 2004, its growth rate topped all of Europe. As global stock markets overheated and competition for investment opportunities intensified, Scandinavian banks showered Latvia with cheap credit. Now, with the highest unemployment in Europe, and propped up by $10 billion in IMF loans, Latvia's economy struggles to stay afloat.
The BBC World Service has put together a special report on the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe (they also have a simpler portal). There is a wealth of material, including TV reports on key events from the BBC archives, interviews, a map timeline, a report on Catholicism's role in the 1989 revolutions, a first-hand report of what it was like to gather news in East Germany during that time and much more.
America on Stone: 19th Century American Lithographs is a browsable collection of lithographs on topics from advertising to uniforms. The viewer includes pan and zoom functions. (Harry T. Peters, who amassed this collection, was particularly interested in Currier & Ives.) Lithography became popular very quickly after its discovery at the end of the eighteenth century, rapidly finding its way into such commercial uses as sheet music covers. Needless to say, it also came in handy for far more exalted applications. (For previous MeFi adventures in lithography, try these posts.)
Few things in history are as compelling as the duel. Refined and barbaric at the same time, this practice has had a checkered history. The rules of dueling were codified by the Irish in 1777 in the Code Duello (summarized here), which was codified at Clonmel Summer Assizes in 1777. As evidenced by these documents, dueling was in practice prior to the Irish rules being drafted. The procedure and philosophy behind duels is illustrated in this article. Dueling gained some traction in America in the 19th century, culminating in the famous Burr-Hamilton affair. There are many more resources to find out more here. For a list of famous duels, you can check out this list. Lest you think men were the only ones dueling, here are a few short anecdotes of women dueling. Reportedly, dueling is still legal in Paraguay, as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
Euro Crime offers a staggering amount of reviews, publishing news and other information on crime fiction written by european authors.
The economy is abjectly terrible, right? It's so bad that nowadays, a picture is only worth 200 words. On the other hand, the recession is over in Germany and France, and in the United States, the unemployment rate dropped just a smidgen last month. [more inside]
The NAVIS project is a multilevel international database for ancient ships of Europe. The database has very detailed information and pictures of ships from the 2nd millenium BC to the 12th century AD (found whilst trying to answer this AskMe). [more inside]
Who asked for Ireland's blasphemy law? Ireland's sweeping new defamation law, passed in the Dáil on the 9th, "introduces a new crime of blasphemous libel." The creators of Father Ted want some clarification. And at their recent AGM, "...Atheist Ireland members voted to test the new law by publishing a blasphemous statement, deliberately designed to cause offence. The statement will be finalised in the coming days." Across the sea, comedian and co-author of Jerry Springer, the Opera Stewart Lee asks: "What's Wrong With Blasphemy?" [40 minute documentary] [more inside]
From 1864 to 1904, the Russian Empire tried to quelch the nationalism of Lithuanians by ordering all Lithuanian texts to be printed with Cyrillic characters instead of in the Latin-derived Lithuanian or Polish alphabets. But they didn't count on the Knygnešiai - the Booksmugglers. [more inside]
Ancient Venus rewrites history books: Female figure was carved from a mammoth tusk 35,000 years ago. [Via]
Wild Wonders of Europe "wants to show that Europe really is not about just highways and cities. But today, many seem to know more about nature in Africa or in America, than in Europe, because that is what’s on TV. The European natural wonders are still very little known to the World. We want to change that." 58 nature photographers are working on the project, and there are 29 galleries representing 16 countries thus far, with more to come. [via]
To go, or not to go? that is the question;--/Whether 'tis better for my views to suffer/The ease and quiet of yon hated rival,/Or to take arms against the haughty people,/And by invading end them? The Napoleonic Wars, in word, image and map, at the European Library. [more inside]
The Czech Republic offers surgical castration as a "voluntary" option to sex offenders, whose rate of recidivism in some studies then drops precipitously. Officials at the Council of Europe are outraged, calling the punishment "invasive, irreversible and mutilating." Atul Gawande noted 10 years ago that, despite his reservations, castration works - at least against a subclass of offenders: the pedophiles and sadists.
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?" ― Winston Churchill, 1935. The World War II Database connects people, events, photographs, and other elements of history in relational db form to tell the story of the 20th century's 2nd great war.
"blue eyes that had seen Franz Josef in his glory at the Court Opera in 1908 close upon a view of rusty bed frames and cracked concrete walls."
"Habsburg! A vile being, heir to an illustrious name, born to a fortune, to honours, to soldiers, to prestige, and who finished as the lowest of Montmartre pimps, living from the money of a poor and unstable girl whom he sent to commit his foul deeds in his place!"That was after this Polish scion of the most famous family in Europe and commander of a soi disant "Ukrainian Legion" failed to finagle the crown as a Socialist king of The Ukraine, and became instead a patron of the rent boys of Paris who "handled women by necessity and men for pleasure". And all that before he turned successively a Nazi sympathizer, a British spy, and finally came, for the first and last time, to Ukraine's capital Kiev as a victim of Stalin and the Twentieth Century.
Human fat was supposed to alleviate rheumatism and arthritis, while a paste made from corpses was believed to help against contusions.... For some Protestants,... , it served as a sort of substitute for the Eucharist, or the tasting of the body of Christ in Holy Communion. Some monks even cooked "a marmalade of sorts" from the blood of the dead.When we read about Burundians and Tanzanians murdering albinos to make "medicine" of their victims, we should not forget that European Medical Cannabalism was an accepted practice as late as the 18th Century.
. . . . The assumption was that all organisms have a predetermined life span. If a body died in an unnatural way, the remainder of that person's life could be harvested, as it were -- hence the preference for the executed.... In 1492, when Pope Innocent VIII was on his deathbed, his doctors bled three boys and had the pope drink their blood. The boys died, and so did the pope.
Do you, or an older relative of yours, recognize any of these children? More than 70 children separated from their families during WWII, now all elderly men and women, are using the Internet to try to find some answers about their pasts, their families, and sometimes even their own names. They are soliciting help and suggestions in the comments sections on each story. [more inside]
"Schengen means" there will be "no systematic control of the borders anymore". Switzerland officially cracks open its borders to Europe. [more inside]
In 2009, a remarkably gifted politician, confronting a remarkably difficult set of challenges, will have to learn to say "No we can't", Guantánamo will prove a moral minefield, economic recovery will be invisible to the naked eye, governments must prepare for the day they stop financial guarantees, we will judge our commitment to sustainability, scientists should research the causes of religion, we will all be potential online paparazzi, English will have more words than any other language (but it's meaningless), Afghanistan will see a surge of Western (read: American) troops, Iran will continue its nuclear quest while diplomacy lies in shambles, the sea floor is the new frontier, we should rethink aging, (non-)voters will continue to thwart the European project -- but cheap travel will continue to buoy it -- though it has some unfinished business to attend to, and a Nordic defence bond will blossom.
The Economist: The World in 2009. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2009. [more inside]
Hilda Magazine ― prose, poetry, illustrations, photography, video, and music from a wide assortment contemporary artists. [contains some nude art images] [more inside]
KazooKeylele. Europe's "The Final Countdown" played on a combination kazoo, baby keyboard, and ukulele. Single link YouTube awesomeness. (Via)
Andre Gunther Photography ― The galleries of photographs are certainly beautiful, but this site shines also for its technique tutorials and camera reviews.
Cute quiz: Name the Simpsons characters. Also: US states, countries in Europe, Asia, North and South America, periodic table of elements. More.
German advertising agency .start has created an ad campaign for Burger King Europe complete with various tray liners (1 2 3 4), an interactive website, and TV commercials.
German newspaper Der Spiegel decided to take a look at Europe's oddest folk traditions and festivals. Perhaps you can have a metaphorical hard-on for the phallus festival of Tyrnavos, Greece. Maybe you're hungry for how a small Belgian town celebrates the practice of swallowing live fish. Or, alternately, you can look down on those bizarre practices... while chasing a giant wheel of cheese down a hill. [more inside]
Planet Mechanics Dick Strawbridge and Jem Stansfield have been travelling Europe (for National Geographic UK) on a mission to lower energy consumption (and make interesting television). Air Propelled Sandwich | Cow Power | Lake District Dilemma | Solar Paella | Electric Water Taxi | Surf Power | Heavy Metal House | Tree Powered Truck
6 hours til Eurovision 2008 begins (well semi-final round 1 begins in 6 hours). After last year's extensive Eurovision discussion, let's see how 2008 does. There are a number of Eurovision blogs and many of the bloggers are hanging out in Belgrade. Not in Europe? You can watch online as well. [more inside]
Wall stickers to stick on your wall (or furniture, or other stuff).
It's the story that has Britain in uproar*: Cliff Richard and General Franco: the 1968 Eurovision mystery. Did General Franco scupper the judging? Exhibit A: Cliff's UK entry, Congratulations. Exhibit 2: Spain's winning entry by Massiel, La la la. For added measure, exhibit iv: here's Cliff's 1973 entry, which believe it or not also did not win, Power to all our Friends (though Cliff's spectacular moves should not sway your opinion on the controversy* in any way). [*not really].
Europeans Get Drunk to Have Sex. The UK has one of the worst reputations for binge drinking and underage sex but there are striking similarities between countries, a study found. A third of 16 to 35-year-old men and 23% of women questioned said they drank to increase their chance of sex. The study - of 1,341 young people in nine countries including the UK - is published in BMC Public Health. PDF available here. [more inside]
Bert Teunissen - Domestic Landscapes. Photographs of (mostly) senior citizens in their living rooms and kitchens. [more inside]
Tony Judt's acceptance speech for the 2007 Hannah Arendt Prize: "Let me suggest five difficulties that arise from our contemporary preoccupation with the Shoah, with what every schoolchild now calls 'the Holocaust.'"
The Mills-Kronborg Collection of Danish Church Wall Paintings, courtesy of Princeton University's Index of Christian Art, includes descriptions and images of medieval and early modern church frescoes. There are more church frescoes at Painting and Sculpture in Medieval Hungary. (Another site features a fine panorama.) Anne Marshall has developed an extensive site devoted to similar paintings in England, many of which were whitewashed during the Reformation. The University of Leicester hosts a much more specialized database devoted to the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy (no images); La Mort Dans L'Art/Death in Art has some Continental examples of The Three Living and the Three Dead.
The blonde map of Europe. According to this map at least 80% of the population is fair-haired, in the central parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland. So make your reservations to see the blondes now, as the BBC reports that we'll be out of blondes by 2202. Though, Snopes calls BS on this. [more inside]
End of Empire : A collaboration of all areas of geopolitics affecting countries of the world in relation to the 'Empire' of the United States of America, and the 'sub-Empires', such as the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and any other country which seeks to exploit poorer nations and their people in the quest for domination.
Torture didn't work in Renaissance Europe. And it doesn't work now. Real historic accounts of real people being tortured in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it composes a body of fact and experience that speaks directly to the present.