Social trust in Europe according to SOROS/European Social Survey. Albania on the far left with the lowest score.
To join a climbing gym has definitely been one of the better decisions I took so far this year. Not only is my fear of heights drastically decreasing (at least up to 5 meters), it also teaches me to trust my body, which for an anti-physically oriented person like me can be quite exhilarating. Yes there are blisters on my hands and the muscles in hips are dancing the samba without the rest of my body, but as long as my blog posts don’t suffer…
Now, as the election draws ever closer, a host of NGOs is coming out with new statistical research, independent questionnaires, and we’re (we who are following these things — there’s always free coffee) walzing from pre-electoral conference to pre-electoral conference. I would like to share with you some of my observations from two of these meetings. The political context in which they seem to be happening indicate a fundamental atmosphere of distrust that seems to characterize this tense pre-electoral period. Practically nothing is known yet in terms of representatives and programs, and it seems the goal is delay informing the public as long as possible. So all we get through the media are snippets in which one deputy is blackmailed by the other, the father of another one arrested by the police, threats and promises based on non-existent evidence unsupported by any economical calculation. All of this while the World Bank has warned the government recently for Greek situations and the Bank of Albania has already warned that the government is severely behind on paying its private contractors. The Ministry of Finance only responds to these warnings by taking moreloans. This shouldn’t come as a surprise once we take into account that Minister of Finance Ridvan Bode is (since 2005) exactly the same Minister of Finance that “guided” Albania into total financial and political chaos in 1996-7. Perhaps he confuses not making the same mistake twice with ignoring the second mistake. Any government that will take power after June 23 will most probably fall into a financial hole deeper than the potholes in the mud road in front of my apartment (will it ever be fixed?), but that’s something for later posts… Continue reading…
Yes, we're in that place again. Free euros and stars running in circles…
It has been a while since I posted for the last time about Albania, but now that finally the first rays of real spring sun are shining through the window of my study and the new washing machine has been installed, I feel ready for some political commentary. Two days ago when I was going for a raki and a plate of baked liver at one of my favorite bars, I found some postcards which apparently have been spread around Tirana, depicting on one side a 100 euro bill, and on the other side an enormous amount of bullcrap propaganda, starting in the center, then clockwise from upper left corner: Continue reading…
Since its first edition, Kosovo 2.0 has been a groundbreaking, border-crossing, and taboo-transcending initiative. Not only is its website a platform for many young creators and writers, it is also one of the few initiatives that refuses the ever increasing nationalism in Kosova and Albania, and consistently publishes in the three official languages of Kosova: Albanian, Serbian, and English. From an Albanian perspective, we can only wish that such a wonderful initiative would sustainable here, as the thematically organized editions on matters such as Religion and Corruption, and now, Sex, are truly pushing forward in unknown territory. Read here the letter from the editor for the Sex issue.
Yesterday the Conservative chancellor of Great Britain gave his Autumn Budget (yes, in winter). As the image here shows, Autumn is the leafy, golden one, with people picking apples, bottom right. Winter is the snowy, ice-hockey one, top right. chancellor osbourne (he doesn’t get capital letters) might need such nursery learning resources so that in the future, if he has one, he can deliver his budgets on time. As most of the country trudged through austerity, even the weather turned austere, with blizzards and ice confirming the prophecies of the picture above.
Thus was the main event of Albania’s 100th independence day. A cake fight. Thousands of people had gathered at the central Skënderbeg square as Mayor Basha of Tirana cut the giant supercake (a world record) with an extended pizza knife and presented the first piece to Kosovar president Jahjaga. After several pieces of cake were presented — in the best (post-)communist tradition — to folkloristically dressed-up girls, the cake was utterlydestroyed by the bystanders fighting to get a piece. No distribution had been put in place (typical for the huge disorganization that was characteristic for the entire day), nor was there any cuttlery that could be used to consume the cake properly. As a result the masses consumed the cake on the spot, children throwing pieces around, plastic boxes being filled by old ladies, and so on. Although much fun has been made of the scene already, I would like to point out that Black Friday on the other side of the ocean looks quite like it (or for that matter try to give away free stuff on a Dutch street…). Nevertheless, it definitely put a blemish on the celebrations.
As promised an update on the independence day craze that is currently spreading throughout the capital, the country, and neighboring countries such as Kosovë. Let’s start with the fate of the 1000 sheep and 1000 lambs that were supposed to be slaughtered for the 28th. Although announced by the Prime Minister’s office, both Municipality and the Ministry of Culture, in charge with the organization of the festivities, deny any knowledge of the precise status of the slaughter. In the meantime, the Minister of Agriculture, Genc Ruli insists that his ministry has been able to locate “first-quality meat” in response to the “order placed by the Prime Minister.” As yet it is still unclear where and when the meat will be distributed among the hungry citizens of Tirana. As for the 4 “super-cakes” that have been ordered, it now seems to be the case that the Albanian government is aiming for a wold record, by having 150 volunteers working on the “biggest cake in the world.” According to patissier Alfred Marku, the cake contains 2397 kg flour, 38064 eggs, 1770 kg sugar, 20 kg vanilla, and 50 kg pomegranates. The center will be decorated with an eagle and the national colors, and olives symbolizing peace:
The cake is constructed in several layers. The first layer will start with ??? and doused with maple and grape syrup, it will be covered with pastry cream and pomegranate. The cake will have red and black Albanian flag symbols, pomegranate red color, but also contains its own symbol, as a symbol of rebirth and unity. It will be surrounded by olive leafs as a symbol of goodness, peace. The Independence Cake is dedicated to all Albanians.
Max Ernst-1926-The Blessed Virgin Chastises the Infant Jesus Before Three Witnesses
This entry is a translation of an article I recently posted on a Greek blog. In the light of the mobilization of Left movements worldwide against the causes of the financial crisis, I think it would be interesting to form an idea of the confines that a radical left party is faced with in Europe, when it has a serious chance at government. I hope the entry proves useful.
Jacob Sikker Remin’s latest exhibition Modifikationer(“Modifications”) that I saw this week at Black Box Gallery, Copenhagen, would from a most general perspective seem to expose and emphasize the differences between what it means to destruct or deconstruct and manipulate or modify technology. While a manipulation would impose itself to master the mode of functioning of the technological device at hand and a destruction would simply shatter the function, leaving nothing but the image of the violent act itself – the modifications and deconstructions of video projectors, LCD displays etc. here carried out by Remin appears instead to open a reservoir of surprising connections and creative constellations leading to the nine pieces exhibited. What the artist breaks away from is certainly not technology itself, whether so-called “high tech” or “low tech,” but in my view rather the conventional conceptions of technology operating precisely through such divisions and entrapping oppositions between complex, inaccessible, high technology and simple and low technology. No hierarchy is here confirmed or reproduced, no distances or degrees of accessibility predetermined. Instead the modifications transgress any narrow definitions and particular isolations by combining and juxtaposing objects usually kept apart – a shovel, a video projector, and a magic arm in the work “RGB DLP” for example. As the artist states: “The exhibition is in a way a revolt against technology regarded as something special.” Continue reading…
Finally I have arrived back in Tirana (actually I write this in Prishina, but ok close enough), in the midst of the total 100 years independence craze. Amid the innumerable Albanian flags decorating the streets and houses, the nationalist fever is taking on epic proportions (proportions to which I would like to dedicate a separate post later this month). I can however not resist providing the following little announcement:
As was announced by the state media, on the day of the 100 years of independence, there will 1000 slaughtered lambs and 1000 slaughtered sheep on the dinner table, the meat of which will be served on tables and stands set up in the Tirana. There will be no sweets lacking from the table, as 4 super-cakes have been ordered.
There is a great post about Open Access over at The Disorder of Things, outlining several arguments surrounding the necessity for Open Access journals. I’m really looking forward to the next several posts they will share this week. Our own publication is very proud to be an Open Access publisher with no cost to the author and no cost to the reader. We are also proud to publish under a Creative Commons license (you may have noticed that other online publications have syndicated what we’ve published).
We, the editors of continent., along with the editors of Speculations, convened a panel discussion that touched on Open Access at the recent “Aesthetics in the 21st Century” conference at the University of Basel (you can read our preliminary remarks here).
It seems to me that we are witnessing the changing nature of academic practice. This change in practice is being spurred-on by the dramatic shift in the technologies through which knowledge work is done. Open software initiatives like those being developed at the Public Knowledge Project (their OJS platform is the WordPress of academic publishing) will continue to be adopted and developed by younger academics as they go about their work, to the point of ubiquity.