…..links that make you go ‘hmm’ 001

Not setting your clock correctly might make a criminal out of you.

A sea of greenhouses.

“It is well known that the Vikings traded with the Arab world, and archaeologists have found plenty of Arab coins in Viking settlements.”

Cryptocurrencies for Dummies?



around the world – part 41.7 (poland)

Many moons ago, the mother of SWMBO was born in the town of Romanshof (now Romanowo), Netzekreis (county Netze) just north of the market town of Czarnkau in Poland.  She and her family, not being of the correct ethnicity (not Polish) and coincidently being on the losing side of the Second World War, as a seven year, were ‘invited’ to leave by the victorious Red Army.   There are delicate memories involving traumatic loss, dispossession, violence and so very slowly over the years I have been able to encourage her to offer up her recollections, supplemented by those of her older brother and now with opportunity to travel to Warsaw the prospect of visiting the mother in law’s birthplace engaged my curiosity….

Although I did not have the time to travel out towards Poznan, I did find quite a few websites dedicated to the geneology of German settlers in hinter Pomern, the area which encompasses the Netze.

around the world – part 41.5 (warsaw)

Few cities can claim worse luck than Warsaw.  Over time the city has been burned by the Swedes, smashed by Russians and then flattened by Germans.  Not surprisingly all that’s left Warsaw looking like it’s gone ten rounds in a boxing ring.”

Hardly inspiring then.


Palace of Culture - Warsaw, October 2009

 Despite the ubiquitous grey brick buildings and the cold windy streets, there is something appealing about Warsaw though, and I think it is in the spirit of its residents.   They would certainly need it given all they have been through in the last century.

I had no idea, other than a vague understanding, of just how smashed this city was by 1945.   For instance the Jewish Ghetto was so thoroughly destroyed, levelled, that very few traces of its existence may be found today.  The only remaining portion of the wall is found in the courtyard of an apartment building at ul Sienna 55.  No longer than about twenty-five feet, it is one of the few items remaining of the Ghetto.  The area around it was completely transformed after the war, a grid pattern of streets, boulevards, parks, office towers, and of course the mighty Palace of Culture were superimposed over the pre-war streets and alleys. 

 More photos here.

around the world – part 41.1 (warsaw)


A 'gift' from Stalin

When I think of Poland, I think of tragedy.  A country which has been intermittently independent, but more often under the thumb of one empire or another, Swedes, Germans and Russians to name just a few.   Tragic because they sit smack in the middle of the east-west european invasion route and thus were ravaged in the Great War, again in the aftermath of the October Revolution (a little known war between USSR and Poland from 1919 – 1921), and soon after the dismemberment by both Nazi Germany AND The Soviet Union in 1939, the two Warsaw Uprisings (1943 and 1944) which left the city in ruins, and of course the soul-destroying years of the communist regimes.  Poland lost the largest percentage of its citizens of any combatant nation during WWII.

And yet it survives.  I somehow get the feeling that if this country could ever catch a break, they might wield considerable influence within europe – but then again the nature of tragedies is such that what can be imagined never comes to pass.

friends of the twingo

renault_twingoIn the latest bit of panty waisted whingeing to appear from our betters on the other side of the pond, Friends of the Earth is in a snit over the latest antics of Top Gear*.   According to FoE, the show “appeared to have gone out of its way to be as crass and juvenile as possible“.**  FoE campaigner Mr Declan Allison said that “The wanton destruction of tens of thousands of pounds worth of machinery impresses no-one. It’s a wasteful extravagance and, in the middle of a global recession, in very poor taste“.

Poor Taste?  Mr Allison, the proles actually enjoy watching TG.  Shocking, yes, and very unenlightened of us, but for a few brief moments it allows us to escape our wretched lives and seek enjoyment in mindless humour.  I know, I know we simply don’t get it, but then that’s what you can expect from the grey mass of  drudges – we’re not like you.  Why we can barely get through a sitting of Waiting for Godot, or plough through a Margaret Atwood novel*** – we just want our Renaults destroyed in the most imaginative of fashions and if there is a tinge of humour about the whole thing, then so much the better.  Oh and a beer or two to chase it down with wouldn’t be out of place.

Maybe FoE didn’t get it;  TG fired a Renault Twingo into the ocean!  What can possibly be wrong with that?   Removing one C02 emitting, gasoline consuming Renault from the planet has got to rank quite high as one of the most unselfish and altruistic acts I’ve heard of in a long time.   Of course if FoE and their ilk had their way the western world would live in perpetual recession,  a sort of purgatory for having had the temerity to produce the most fantastic economic miracle known to mankind.  Instead FoE won’t rest until twingo’s aren’t produced at all (let alone flung into the ocean).  

Quit Whining!


* Top Gear, for those of you most of unfortunate to have never heard of it, is quite possibly the best entertainment ever produced by the BBC.  Please note that I said entertainment.  It has no other redeeming qualities – but I love it.

** That’s sort of the point, really.

***Obscure and difficult Canadian author.   But there I go revealing my elitest tendancies again.