Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Beatroots conquer Europe

Well, we haven’t really: but we did get second place in the Satin Pajamas Best European Political Blog Awards.

Well, we didn’t really. We were joint second. But we were joint second with European Tribune – one of the first – like Fist Full of Dollars, the curators of the Satin Pajamas awards – European blogs, and ones that most bloggers have heard of. They have some respect.

So, a blog about Poland has made its little, red stained mark. Just like getting barszcz beetroot soup on your best white shirt, and even the girlfriend’s mother doesn’t know how to get rid of it.

Oh, by the way – the winner was the brilliant and well known Northern Irish blogger, Slugger O’Toole – just like I said he would be.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Polish watchdog official ‘outs’ Teletubbies’ Tinky Winky

Children’s Ombudsman Ewa Sowinska [surly, ‘umbudswoman’?] has told the Wprost current affairs weekly she thinks Tinky’s ‘handbag’ (purse) could be a sign of latent ‘homosexuality’.

Tinky Winky is one of the Teletubbies characters, a children's programme that was a massive hit in Britain a few years ago, and which has been imported by the TVP public broadcaster to Poland.

Apparently, Ms Sowinska has been watching the programme carefully and has detected something disturbing. She told Wprost this week:

“I’ve noticed that Tinky Winky carries a woman’s handbag, but I didn’t think he was a boy, at first. [But when she discovered that Tinky was indeed a boy] …later I found out that there may be some kind of hidden homosexual subtext…”

A hidden homo-subtext? A Teletubby in the closet?

Of course, many can mock poor old Ewa Sowkinska for obviously being a graduate of the Giertych School of Media Studies, but a little digging into the subject appears to confirm that Tinky, and his Winky, may indeed have a dark secret.

For instance, a quick Wiki of Tinky brings the following result:

‘Tinky-Winky is the largest of the Teletubbies, has a triangular antenna on his head, and is notable for the red luggage (described by the show as a "magic bag", but often described by other media as a handbag) he carries. Due to this handbag, he is unofficially described as a gay icon.’

Oh, my Gaaaaaawwwd!

But that’s not all. Teletubbies not only includes ‘gay icons’ but gender benders, too. In the Wiki entry on the ‘Po’ character it says:

“Although many are unsure of Po's gender, or consider her to be male (possibly because of her scarlet colour and tomboyish antics), she is clearly referred to as female in several episodes,”

Jeeeeezus! Po is obviously a cross dressing lesbian! A Tubby-dike!!!

The Teletubbies is a devious plan by all those liberals in the BBC to INDOCTRINATE POLISH KIDS with homosexual propaganda.

But Sowinska should look further than the Teletubbies for strange sexually inspired behaviour in children’s programmes.

I mean – just look at Superman and his predilection for wearing his underpants outside his trousers? And what about Batman’s fondness for spending long hours – sometimes over night! – alone with Robin (the Boy Wonder) in the Batcave?

Surly Gotham City must have laws against that sort of thing?

Looks like Education Secretary Roman Giertych was right all along, but was not going far enough – ban gays from school, and the Teletubbies from the TV screens of Poland! Now! Before they get our kids…

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ryanair pulls Kaczynski romance advert

The Polish government threatened to sue Ryanair after an advert made fun of the prime minister’s alleged affair with old Solidarity colleague.

The rumors of an affair (see above front page of Polish tabloid last year) between Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Law and Justice MP Jolanta Szczypinska have been around for sometime. And the supposed love affair was used by the cheap flight carrier Ryanair as the subject for one their characteristically zany advertising posters. IOL reports:

The ad shows the deputy, Jolanta Szczypinska, with Kaczynski under the headline "Are they thinking of a honeymoon?"

A comic book speech bubble shows Kaczynski asking, "Shall we take the government plane?", to which Szczypinska replies: "There's no need, Ryanair guarantees the lowest prices."

Ryanair, which is known for unorthodox publicity campaigns, "must pay for this", Szczypinska fumed on Wednesday.

"I am shocked. This is a scandal," she said in an interview with the daily newspaper Dziennik. "Illegal exploitation of the image of the head of government is a crime."

We rang up Rynair for a comment and they told us that they have now cancelled the advert after the legal threats. Shame.

That the government is suffering from a humor by-pass will not come as a shock. But many might be skeptical of the rumor of the romance. Some think it’s a PR stunt.

The dumbest thing about all this is the government’s willingness to sue all and sundry when being made fun of. A secure, mature government would take the mocking on the chin. A childish administration will throw a tantrum.

Expect more tantrums.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Satin Pajamas Awards

the beatroot has been nominated for ‘Best European Political Blog’.

The Northern Irish blogger Slugger O’Toole is in the pack and he will be hard to beat. But maybe we could get second?

Vote here. Vote early. Vote often….(as they used to say in Northern Ireland).

Oh, by the way: the beatroot is two years old today. I thought I would do it for a year, just to see if we could get a Poland-related blog noticed: and it went OK. So I thought I would do it for another year, just to see what happened: and it went even better. We now get 20,000 reads a month. Not bad. Cheers to all the people who have contributed. So now I am gonna do another year – just to see what happens…

Monday, May 21, 2007

Polonophobia: it's not a phobia

Or: why the personal is not the political.

Since psychologist George Weinberg first described, in 1969, what is basically a politically and culturally produced prejudice as homophobia, the term has slowly grown in acceptance. The EU has even passed a resolution describing a whole country - Poland - as homophobic (i.e. ‘Polish homophobia’).

Due to the success of this term, anyone who finds a point of view objectionable simply labels it ‘a phobia’ - an irrational psychological response.

It all started of course with xenophobia; then came homophobia; then Polonophobia (Poles are not immune to this nonsense either); more recently we have Islamophobia; as a reaction to that we now have Christophobia (yawwwwn) and Judophobia (I mean – we used to have a perfectly good word for that: anti-Semitism).

How to de-politicize a prejudice in one easy step – label it a mental disorder.

Sociologist Frank Furedi demonstrates here how the rise of the ‘phobia’ term coincides with the growth of ‘therapy culture’ in the West and lists five good reasons why politically progressive people should not be using this word.

Me, I'm getting phobo-phobic.

Polish homophobia? It’s not a phobia, the beatroot, April 22

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Warsaw Equality Parade passes off without much opposition

4,000 turned up for what is becoming an event in the calendar in Warsaw.

Maybe only 100 turned up for the counter demonstration by the new youth wing of the League of Polish Families (LPR) – an organization hastily cobbled together after All-Polish Youth got kicked out of the party after one too many embarrassing neo-Nazi type antics.

LPR had tried to get the Equality Parade banned, of course – this time on the feeble excuse that homosexuality was against Christianity, and the Polish Constitution [?] which apparently privileges relationships between men and women.

Unfortunately for LPR the Polish Constitution also guarantees the right to free speech and assembly, a concept that they and many in the present government are still struggling with. And as Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, the Mayor of Warsaw pointed out, to ban the march would be to go against a recent ruling in the Court of Human Rights.

I was sitting in the Jazz Bistro in the centre of town watching the parade pass. It looked fun. One old lady sitting at a table next ours said to her elderly companion: “Such a lot of young people….it’s that Roman Giertych I blame….”

Photo by Joseph Vogt

p.s. - Some moron has been impersonating the beatroot on the All-Polish Youth web site. The second comment is me, the first is not. How sad.

pps – There was a March for Family and Life in Warsaw today, organized by ultra-conservatives. It’s hard to know how many turned up. It says here between ‘600 and 3,5000’, which is rather vague. Was that the gap between what the organizers said and what the police think? .

Saturday, May 19, 2007

David Irving speech called off in Warsaw

The ever crazier British historian – who has a new book out – will not be allowed to publicize it at the Warsaw International Book Fair, currently on in the capital.

The ban was initiated by the Director of Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum Piotr Cywiński, who apparently complained to the cops (see Irving's web site for more details). Irving has been in Warsaw, apparently 'doing deals' with 'eastern European publishers'.

I can’t say that I support denying a Holocaust denier his right to spout his rubbish anywhere he wants. He is a very offensive person, but letting him speak is the best way to show what a fool he is.

If you want to hear the type of thing he would have told the Warsaw Book Fair then see this Youtube clip of a speech he made last October.

Irving in Poland makes documentary - the beatroot, march 25

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New word in Polish dictionary: homoagitacja?

Equality Parade, Warsaw, May 19 14.00…… Krzysztof Bosak, leader of the Youth Movement of the League of Polish Families not pleased: “ Public propaganda of homosexual lifestyle is a threat to public morality and is against natural law as well as family values, which are in our Constitution….”.

Or homo-agitation in English. It’s the linguistic contribution to the Polish language of education secretary, Roman Giertych.

To agitate means to arouse interest in (a cause, for example) by use of the written or spoken word.

Homo-agitation will not be allowed in schools – meaning gay groups will not be allowed into schools to ‘promote’ homosexuality - if Giertych gets his way. He is going to create a new law to ban these heathens entering the gates.

In the mind of Roman, heterosexual kids could turn gay at any second, if exposed to 'homosexual propaganda'.

His idea of a law banning gays from high schools has support from Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and from Andrzej Lepper, also part of the coalition, Giertych cliamed today.

His is an interesting, and fluid, view of sexuality. It’s even one many gay and lesbians might agree with, in a way.

I remember great rage among my fellow sociology students when models of homosexuality were introduced in lectures claiming that a part of the brain of homosexuals was somewhat unusual.

Or how about the (in)famous Xq28 chromosome. This, I remember caused outrage among gay campaigners when geneticist Dean Hamer published his research in 1993. That would mean that gays are, in some way, 'abnormal'.

The dominant view in sociology back then (late 1980s, early 1990s) was based on a Foucaultian model of sexuality – of the power of ‘discourse’ and ‘counter-discourse’. The work of British sociologist Jeffrey Weeks is typical of this view. Any biological explanations were not PC, even ‘fascist’.

Well, they needn’t have worried – as they have an unlikely ally in Education Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Roman Giertych – the man who gets highly agitated by the thought of homo-agitation. He’s a man, basically, who is afraid of speech and the power he thinks it has - another curious similarity between the conservative nationalists and some trendy liberal, deconstructionist post-modernist.

We live in strange times.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A misanthrope pretending to be a humanitarian...

...is like a cannibal on a healthy diet, who only eats vegetarians.

We are currently in the middle of National Vegetarian Week in Poland. Oh, joy. Sometimes they can act a bit like little Hitlers - vegetarian fascists.

Although only 1.5 percent of Poles don’t eat meat at all, the few fundamentalist grass-eaters that are here have some tasty tactics to force their obsession on the rest of us. Polish Radio reports:

’Come and buy our mouth-watering dachshund veal! Cheap shoulder of cocker spaniel. Dog paws and heads. Only two zloty a kilogram.” – a butcher wearing a white blood stained coat shouted at a makeshift stand in the centre of Warsaw.

He was wielding an enormous axe, chopping what looked like animal parts, but in reality were soy cutlets covered in mashed beetroot[!!!]. But some passers-by actually believed it was real meat. “This is absurd. It shows how ignorant many people are if they assumed it was real meat”, says Cezary Wyszynski, a vegetarian since 1996, from the Viva Foundation, championing animal rights.

Note the contempt that animal lovers have for their fellow man: 'ignorant'! Now who would that be, then?

Iwona Kossowska from the Empatia or Empathy Association explains why the organizers decided to shock people.

“We want to show the people of Poland that it’s sad to divide animals into those that are loved and those that are eaten. We ask – why? Is there a real difference between a dog whom we love and a pig that we eat?’

Each year 470 million animals are slaughtered in Poland. More than one million a day. Almost one thousand every single second. No one seems sympathetic to those animals. They are completely unnoticed and forgotten. They are proudly eaten every day. Sold in supermarkets. No one cares for them. So, we want to recall that not only dogs and cats deserve attention and care. Pigs, cows, calves, chickens, fish, rabbits, goats, sheep are living creatures that feel the same as do cute and loving dogs.”

Note ‘sold in supermarkets…’ – another current obsession that some ‘liberals' share with their conservative nationalist counterparts in Poland. Both would like to go back to the good old days (and still the sad experience for the many car less poor today) when a mother had to drag her kids from shop to shop each day, paying for over priced food from miserable, unhelpful shop keepers.

Of course, in some countries people do eat dogs. And the reason why people don’t eat dogs in Poland and the rest of Europe is that dogs were used for work – they controlled the sheep that were kept for wool or eaten.

What’s sadder than animals kept in bad conditions – and there are many – is humans that become obsessed with animals, above any concern for humans. These are misanthropes dressed up as humanitarians.

And there are many of those, too. Too many.

The vegetarian is another example of our modern day obsession with our bodies. Food is not seen as something that we in the West have lots of, to be relished and enjoyed for its own sake. For the grass-eaters and tree huggers food says something about ourselves – it’s become a pseudo morality.

The militant vegetarian is someone who is a product of an age with little else to believe in, so the body and what is put in it becomes, literally, a ‘way of life’.

But what a sad, ultimately meaningless, way of life.

And anyway - vegetarians eat...(sniff) beetroots! Don't they have rights, too?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Poland has no friends

That’s why it won’t ever win the Eurovision Song Contest.

100 million Europeans watched agog last night at the annual festival of ketch, awful music and strange dance moves held in Helsinki this year.

For those of you outside the continent, the Eurovision Song Contest has been staged every year by the European Broadcasting Union since 1956.

Winners are chosen by viewers sending in text messages.

The event was won by Serbia, the very first time it has entered the competition. Poland didn’t even make the final this year. The UK came joint second to last and Ireland came rock bottom.

The Ukraine came second and gained the most votes from Polish voters. The girlfriend and I, plus dog, picked Ukraine – the entry being sung by an ageing drag queen (photo). Well, why not? It’s all very Eurovision.

Serious studies have been done on the contest (probably by ‘cultural studies’ lecturers with nothing better to do) on how people make voting decisions. BBC reports:

Dr Alan Howard, from Reading University's school of human sciences, has surveyed 1,000 fans of the contest on how they would cast their votes.
He says the results undermine the belief voting is influenced by the countries' traditional loyalties.
Only 24% of fans agreed tactical voting was reducing the contest to a farce.
The 12-month online survey received 1,126 responses from fans in 51 countries.
A total of 57% said a good performance on the night would make them vote for an act but only 7% said they would vote tactically.
Thirty-three per cent also said lyrics would have an influence while 16% said the attractivneness of singers might sway them.
Dr Howard said: "For some time now, the Eurovision Song Contest has gained a reputation as a light entertainment show rather than an important competition.

What are they teaching kids at uni these days? ‘…the results undermine the belief voting is influenced by the countries' traditional loyalties..’ Ha, bloody ha.

The winners and losers are not chosen on the merit of their often sparse musical talents. Sorry Dr Howard, but it is all about nationalisms and politics.

The competition has expanded in recent years and now includes many eastern European countries. The viewers of these ex-communist countries all vote for each other, with predictable results. Look at the top ten countries this year:

Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Belarus, Greece, Armenia, Hungary and Moldova.

The Balkans and eastern Europe are completely dominating the contest now. But it’s always been the same, even before they turned up. Cyprus always votes for Grease and Turkey. Scandinavia always votes Scandinavia. Israel has recently started to vote for Russia, due to the fact, no doubt, of the new Jewish Russian migration there.

Poland always votes for Ukraine.

And so it goes, year after year. Unfortunately, even with the eastern European in-built bias, nobody seems to want to vote for poor old Poland. Does nobody love the Poles?

Poland didn’t even manage to get out of the semi-final, held on Friday this year. The only time Poland did well was the first time it entered the competition in 1994, when Polish diva Edyta Gorniak sung ‘That’s not me’ and came in second – probably as a result of a sympathy vote.

All the western European countries are equally isolated – with nobody voting for France, UK, even Ireland, which used to win the competition nearly every year during the 1990s.

I would do what Italy did years ago – don’t even bother sending in an entry.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The lustracja document I have signed...

...must be given back to me.

That is the judgment of the Consititutional Tribunal. It is unconstitutional to archive it anywhere.


Fiasco! Polish Lustration Law – not constitutional

Key parts (at least half) of the articles in the Lustration Law – an issue that has been tearing Poland apart - breaks the Polish Constitution.

That’s the verdict of three days of deliberations and argument by the Constitutional Tribunal.

The government’s flag ship policy is in an ugly mess.

I have just been watching - along with millions of Poles - the verdict by the very formal looking tribunal, read out by two judges, one with a black hat on. This was serious stuff. Their verdicts took one hour 15 minutes to read out.

“Governments are not above the constitution”, said the judge. “If they are then that is the way of a dictatorship…The law should not be retroactive….There must be a guarantee of a legal defense [which there is not, at the moment]…the aim of lustration should not be revenge.”

This is a damning verdict against the government.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski has already pre-empted such a verdict by insinuating that the Constitutional Tribunal is itself full of commies…but then he would, wouldn’t he?

Here are the main bits of the verdict

* The lack of a right to appeal a decision in the Supreme Court is unconstitutional.

* Lustration of journalists is not constitutional.

* Lustration of rectors of universities is not constitutional.

* Lustration of scientists working in private research labs [?] is not constitutional.

* Lustration of heads of publishing houses is not constitutional.

*The public listing of previous secret service operatives is not constitutional.

*The current lack of access to files by anyone lustrated is unconstitutional.

*Lustration of heads of stock listed companies [??] is unconstitutional.

*Lustration of debt collectors [???] is not constitutional.

* Even the layout of the form that people have to fill in saying that they never collaborated with secret services is not constitutional.

* The tribunal also ruled that proof of collaboration with communist authorities must include, not only evidence that the subject agreed to collaborate – as it is in the present law – but that there must be evidence of actual collaboration. So the burden of proof now weighs much more heavily with the accusers: the government.

The Lustration Law is in tatters

The new Lustration Law, which came into force in March, requires hundreds of thousands of people in media, law, etc, to fill in a form declaring they have never collaborated with any secret services which spied on Poles during communist times.

This includes foreigners such as myself, a journalist. This was unconstitutional. I am extremely pissed off.

The law – which is a widening of the net of two previous laws – has created an atmosphere of suspicion, and for many people, fear.

I wasn’t scared, I just thought the whole thing was ludicrous. It’s good to know that the Constitutional Tribunal agrees.

Lustration worse than Stalinism?

At least under Stalinism it was Moscow persecuting Poles. Now it has been Poles persecuting Poles.

That’s an argument I heard on the television today. And you can see what they mean. Instead of trying to unite Poles around some common sentiment – a true solidarity – they pick over the scabs of the past. And the puss weeps out. A fractured society gets more fractured still.

What’s worst of all is that the Institute of National Remembrance is not required by law to share whatever information they have about someone. They make a decision based on what is in old, dusty files from many, many years ago, and that seems to be that. Everything is done behind closed doors. In secret. No transparency whatsoever.

Sounds familiar of another, even darker age?

The best solution is to open the files to everyone - a suggestion that the government has itself made if the verdict went against them - and let’s see what is inside. Then the court of public opinion can decide who is guilty, and who is not.

What a strange country, with a sad past that twitches like a corpse, refusing to recognize that it's over. Finished.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Beware ye supporters of the right to choose…

You risk ex-communication.

You have been warned.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

10 years ago Poland and UK were a better place?

Or were they? Maybe even nostalgia ain’t what it used to be…

Us Brits are getting a little nostalgic. I was in London, May 1997, when the British voted in Tony Blair’s New Labour government, and in so doing, kicked out a Conservative Party which had ruled for 18 long years.

Many Brits woke up the next day, after sitting up much of the night watching the Labour landslide on TV, feeling a little groggy but optimistic about the future. Maybe, as the Labour Party election campaign song sung at the time: ‘Things can only get better’…

And things have got better, but Brits seem to fear everything. The British got lots richer, but Tony Blair – who will be finally resigning in the next few days (another Iraq war casualty) - has presided over the death of British politics. In the absence of real competing visions of the world, politics in the UK has literally come down to how often people get their rubbish bins emptied. Maybe that is a kind of progress. But Brits don’t feel optimistic anymore. They feel scared. Of everything, of everyone.

They were optimistic in Poland back then too

Or that is how it seemed. I was living in Poland in 1997. There was a positive feeling about the place. People I knew felt good about Poland. Communism was gone and buried, and a new future was being born. Some were getting rich. Others could express themselves in a way they never could before. A tiny middle class was growing.

Things could only get better.

Fast forward ten years to 2007 and that Polish optimism is in short supply. The exodus of millions of Poles since the country joined the EU strengthens the feeling that post-communist Poland has failed too many.

The political scene has - as one journalist friend, who was out of the country for ten years, but has just returned – got a little ‘freaky’.

So what has changed in those ten years? Were things really so much better then? Maybe not.

For instance, unemployment in 1997 was around 13 percent. Today unemployment is 14 percent, but coming down from a high of 20 percent three years ago.

At the end of 1996 inflation was just under 20 percent! Now it’s around 2 percent.

The national average wage in 1997 was 12,000 zloty (400 dollars) – today its double that.

Fact is, the economy, compared to 1997 – when the economy was slowing down after being the ‘European economic tiger’ - is booming. Growth is one of the highest in the EU. Home ownership has increased, car ownership has leaped, people take more holidays, do more things.

Things really have got better, in Poland. So where is this pessimism coming from? It’s coming from two different places.

Life has not got significantly better for many. The east of the country has fallen behind. The country side – especially the one million tiny farms – have fallen behind. Those on fixed incomes have fallen behind.

The conservatives think that the country has gone to the dogs. Secularism – once the preserve of the ideological communist – has come in from the West, from the EU. ‘Gays demanding rights? Whatever next! They have them anyway (just as long as they don’t exercise them).Liberals? They are just partially reconstructed commies! What’s Poland coming to?’

It’s no shock to find that this is where much of the current government support resides.

In the other half of Poland – the half that did well or better – folks are feeling under attack. The aggressive policies of the Law and Justice led government are aimed at those they think carved up the country, post 1989. Now they want some of the action, the influence. It’s the politics of ‘Teraz kurwa my’ – now it’s fucking our turn.

Basic freedoms – the freedom of speech, of assembly, have been attacked. People are being sacked from the state sector, many times, because they are seen politically unclean.

It’s all very vulgar

So the reason for the lack of optimism is not from purely material factors – Poland is actually doing very well – it’s more from a politics of failure. The winners have not spread there good fortune around, and the losers feel that Poland has declined morally (spiritually) and are determined to get their own back.

Poland should feel optimistic – except for its politics: which is arcane, much of the time, in substance, nasty, unstable.

All things that Tony Blair would not like at all. He has succeeded in killing off any type of politics in Britain. A dull, apolitical consensus is all there is in poor old blighty. The obsession there is that the planet has gone to the dogs, and we are all doomed to an environmental hell.

But in both Poland and UK, things really are getting better. The feeling of things getting worse comes from a fear of the future, brought on by a miserable, future-phobic politic.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The French post: the organic dialectic, subcultural sublimation, expressionism and the sexist equation

Question: Does an undertheorized multi-perspectival sociological ventriloquism lead to a potential mannerist deformation in representations of social existence?

Just asking.

The French election is today and the probable winner thinks that Muslim poor kids in the Paris suburbs are ‘scum’, and the loser is a socialist candidate who appears to be even more conservative, in many ways, than her rightwing candidate (oh, don’t you just love modern day, post-ideological politics).

But why is France in such a mess? I think it is because of their loony intellectuals.

Postmodern gibberish

I have been reading a book about Einstein and relativity. It’s one of the most magnificent intellectual accomplishments of all time (his theory, that is, not me reading the book).

But just look at what ultra-post-modernist feminist French academic superstar, Luce Irigaray, thinks about it all. In one of her essays, Le sujet de la science est-il sexue? (1987), she turns her attention to an issue that has been virtually ignored (though for good reason, cause it’s nonsense) in treatments of Einstein's famous theory.

She poses the highly intelligent question:

“Is e=mc2 a sexed equation? Perhaps it is. Let us make the hypothesis that it is insofar as it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us [?]. What seems to me to indicate the possible sexed nature of the equation is not directly its uses by nuclear weapons, rather it is having privileged what goes the fastest...” .

Er...merde! I get the impression that she has no clue what she is talking about. So why would anyone want to publish this bull?

For those of you not yet acquainted, the E in the equation stands for ‘energy’. That energy is equivalent to the mass (m) of something times speed of light (c) squared. It made scientists realize that the amount of potential energy within matter is enormous, if you can find the technology and unstable enough atoms (like in uranium) to be able to release it.

But the speed of light (which our French post modernist seems to think is ‘male’ and ‘sexist’) is a vital part of that transformation of mass to energy. It’s a law of physics.

So the reason why Einstein picked speed of light rather than…say…the speed of a Toyota pick-up truck…or a female rowing team, is because it would have nothing to do with anything at all.

Saying that ‘privileging the speed of light’ is sexist is like saying that photosynthesis is a chauvinist pig!

The French are going to have problems, whoever is in the presidential palace, because their academics and so prized intellectuals are stark raving mad.

(Check out, too, the postmodernism generator. Just keep clicking refresh and it generates, automatically, a fresh new postmodern essay – full of ‘sexed equation’ type gibberish. The French would love it!)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

May days in Warsaw

It’s been the ‘long weekend’: May 1 and May 3 are national holidays in Poland, so virtually everyone takes three days off.

May 3 is Constitution Day, in celebration of Europe’s first ever written, coded constitution. It was very unlike the 250 page EU ‘constitution’ that wasn’t. A constitution has to come from grass roots pressure: the EU Constitution is coming from Eurocrat-roots pressure.

May 1 was Labour Day and an old holiday the communists were more comfortable with. This year there were a couple of marches by the Old Left and the New Left (less than a 1000 people in total). The Left is finished in Poland.

In the centre of Warsaw they had a rather lame attempt at recreating the ‘People’s Republic’ times. It could have been good, but was half hearted and rubbish.

Best thing was the giant Mis, from the very popular comedy of the same name from 1980. In the background you can see Jo Stalin’s gift to Warsaw, the Palace of Culture.

(photos by tracka/beatroot productions)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sign the Geremek petition

Update, May 3: The much respected and award winning British blogger, Clive Matthews, aka Nosemonkey, at the Europhobia blog joins the Geremek campaign.

Update: British historian Norman Davies (who has been sent a lustration questionnaire!!!) in an interview with the Daily Telegraph on the new law: "This is either going to end in farce or coercion, and that would be the step from democracy to authoritarian rule. Academics and journalists are in the firing line. This is nothing to do with winkling out collaborators. This is about showing loyalty to the Kaczynskis."

A Polish European member of parliament (MEP) is in danger of losing his seat. In danger, that is, not from the European Parliament, or the voters that put him there in the first place, but from the Polish government. This is not democracy as we know it in Europe.

Bronislaw Geremek was one of the leaders of Solidarity through the 1980s. Later he served in several governments after 1989, and eventually was elected by Poles as a Member of the European Parliament.

After the latest ‘Lustration Law’ came into force earlier this year – which forces every public person to sign a declaration saying that they had not consciously collaborated with the communist secret services – Geremek has refused to sign.

He has signed similar declarations three times before, but being asked to do so for a forth time is, for him, ‘humiliating’.

The Polish government has decided that if he does not sign then they can dismiss him as an MEP.

But as EJP reports:

The European parliament has supported Polish MEP Bronislaw Geremek over his refusal to comply with a new Polish national law to weed out communist-era secret police informers.

Poland’s electoral commission has announced that Geremek was disqualified from being an MEP after he refused to submit a declaration saying that he had not cooperated with communist-era services.

Bronislaw Geremek "is a political personality of the highest esteem who has always stood up for democracy in his country and for European unification," said Parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering, Thursday in Strasbourg.

"We will examine all legal possibilities that he can continue his work," he added.
Five groups of the parliament – the centre-right, socialist, liberal, green and extreme-left- have pledged to defend Geremek against attempts to strip him of his mandate.

The interference by Warsaw into affairs that are between the elected MEP and his voters contravenes the usual standards of democracy. Aside from whether you think that he should sign the vetting document, or not, the principle of an elected official being answerable to the people who elected him is a vital one and must be respected by the Polish government.

There is a petition in support of Bronislaw Geremek. It says:

We, European citizens, are deeply concerned by the principles of democracy and human rights and give our full support to Mr. Bronislaw Geremek. The Polish law of lustration, which threatens him of dismissal from his mandate of Member of European Parliament, directly breaks the rules and values to which Poland solemnly adhered, while becoming a Member State of the European Union.
We firmly urge for the Polish law of lustration to be repealed. Otherwise, we ask our European governments to consider the application of all the provisions of article 7 of the Treaty.

Please show your support for democracy by signing the petition here.

bloggers for Bronislaw, foe
Euro Parliament discussion of mandate of Polish MEP Bronisław Geremek

p.s. Milan Kundera signed it!