Thursday, September 27, 2012

High Tatra Ritz - Hotel Gitka

Through all the seas of all Thy world, slam-bangin' home again.
Rudyard Kipling, "M'Andrew's Hymn"

The High and Low Tatra mountains are rated among the most popular locations in Slovakia throughout the year, with Tatranska Lomnica, Skalnate Pleso and Hrebienok the most attractive destinations in the High Tatras, and Chopok in the Low Tatras. High Tatra. If hotels used to mimic wealthy homes, now the ideal home looks like a hotel. Jozef Imrich reports—and starts by getting a hotelier round to inspect his place... Hotel High Tatra aka Gitka 

An exhibition just under way at Prague's Leica Gallery offers a rare and illuminating insight into the poverty and drudgery experienced by many working-class people in Czechoslovakia during the economic crisis of the 1930s. Indeed, "Stern Light: Socially Conscious Photography in Interwar Czechoslovakia," composed of works held in private collections, is the first show of its kind in Prague Stark black-and-white photos portray mý old countrý

There are myths that touch internal chords that we don't really understand. Something about High Tatra speaks powerfully to me, so much so that my heart lifts each summer when I think of my childhood. The scale is right, the people agreeable, and there's even a clean air ... If my life were somehow to arrange itself differently--very differently, to be sure--I could see myself living there.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wein & Salzburg's Worms Worms and more Worms ;-)

The mountain landscape of the Austrian Tirol is a draw at any time of year and travelling in September is no exception. Italian lakes of Como are great, but Austrian Tirol hills like Roten and lakes are amazing - To be invited to festifals celebrating a bishop named Rupert who left worms and set foot on Salzburg soil is rather memorable ;-). Rupert began erecting a main church, a monastery and a convent ( Nonnberg Convent ) upon the ruins of the abandoned old Roman settlement of 'Juvavum', today the district of St. Peter. All of the constructions are still standing and viewable today, albeit in a modernised fashion. It was first in Rupert's times that the town on the Salzach was called 'Salzburg'; prior to this names such as 'Juvavum' or 'Salzburch' were more common. Consequently, Rupert is honoured as Salzburg's city patron every year with a town celebration on the 24th of September. On this day in 774 the first cathedral bishop, Virgil, moved Rupert's body to the cathedral.

The capital and largest city in the land of opera, sausage and schnitzel is now officially the nicest place in the world. Vienna was the best place to live in 2011 and seems to be getting better like great wine of Wein. Vienna’s excellent infrastructure, safe streets and good public health service helped it top the list. The city, with its ornate buildings, public parks and extensive bicycle network, recently reduced the cost of its annual public transport ticket to 1 euro a day. Serious crime is non existent .... Amazing place to escape to ...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Renaissance Mantle of Florence: Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire

I am the hailstorm that shall smash the heads of those who do not take cover...
-Like a biblical prophet,Girolamo Savonarola saw himself as a chastiser of the wicked come to cauterise the human heart of sin

Florencia is famous for its history. A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy.

Starting from the late Middle Ages, Florentine money—in the form of the gold florin—financed the development of industry all over Europe, from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon and Hungary. Florentine bankers financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War, as well as the papacy, including the construction of their provisional capital of Avignon and, after their return to Rome, the reconstruction and Renaissance embellishment of the latter.!
Florence was home to the Medici, one of history's most important noble families. Lorenzo de' Medici was considered a political and cultural mastermind of Italy in the late 15th century. Two members of the family, were popes as Leo X and Clement VII in the early 16th century. Catherine de Medici, married king Henry II of France and, after his death in 1559, reigned as regent in France. The Medici reigned Grand Dukes of Tuscany starting with Cosimo I de' Medici in 1569, until the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici in 1737...
Founded in 1397 in Florence, the Medici Bank operated rather like a Mafia consortium, eliminating rivals and infiltrating local power elites. The dynasty was at its most powerful under Lorenzo de’ Medici The Magnificent, a merchant-poet celebrated for both his financial nous and verse in praise of falconry. Following his death in 1492, the dynasty went downhill and eventually fizzled out with Cosimo III, who reigned over the Duchy of Tuscany until he died in 1720. Under this sanctimonious man, all nude Renaissance statues were removed from the streets and Michelangelo’s “David” concealed beneath a tarpaulin. Thus the supreme symbol of Medicean Florence became, in Cosimo’s stern morality, a shamefully vulgar thing.
During the 15th century, the firebrand Dominican friar and church reformer Girolamo Savonarola had also sought to purge the Tuscan city of “sin”. Florence, in the priest’s view, was a sham republic ruled by a banker-tyrant. From his grandfather Cosimo de’ Medici, Lorenzo had learnt the Florentine art of power-broking and how banking might consolidate Medici power. In 1478, however, the Pazzi Conspiracy had dared to challenge his supremacy. Amid a fury of dagger blows, Lorenzo narrowly escaped assassination in Florence cathedral. Retribution was brutal. On Lorenzo’s command, Pazzi family members were torn alive from groin to neck, and their widows banished to convents. In Mafia parlance this was a regolamento dei conti, or “balancing of accounts”. There are artists who seduce and artists who stun. Gentile da Fabriano was of the latter camp. Rapport between Late Gothic and Renaissance A tour-de-force of culinary tricks Only in Florence;-)

It's almost unfair how much intense beauty, great cuisine and amazing aromas are jampacked into such a compact space of terre of cinque ...

The five villages of Cinque Terre date back to the later Middle Ages. The cultivation terraces that typify much of the Cinque Terre landscape were mainly built in the 12th century, when Saracen raids from the sea had come to an end. Starting from the north, the first is the fortified centre of Monterosso al Mare, on the top of St Christopher's hill, which first played an important role in the 7th century, during the Lombard invasions. After being disputed over by different noble families during the Middle Ages, it threw in its lot with the Republic of Genoa. It is a coastal town in a valley, its most prominent features being the church of St John, built in 1244, with its bell tower, originally an isolated watchtower, the ruins of the old castle, and the 17th-century Capuchin monastery that dominates the town. Ach, the tiniest town of Manarola is a sight to behold -- a confection of pastel houses that climb up the side of black cliff Cinque Terre

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lovers of Wisdom

The Wisdom of River

Earth-colored water hesitates, flows
I realize it is a river
The descendant of formless underground dwellers,
the water is heading toward the sea, that much I know
but I don’t know when and how it welled up

As the train crosses the river a young woman next to me yawns
There is something welling up, too, from the shadowy depth of her mouth
Suddenly I realize my brain is more dull-witted than my flesh

Feeling uneasy that I, the flesh, riding a train,
am made mostly of water
I, the brain, prop myself up with words

Sometime in a distant past, somewhere in a distant place
words were much less voluminous, but
their ties to the nether world were perhaps much stronger

Water remains on this planet
morphing into seas, clouds, rains and ice
Words, too, cling to this planet
morphing into speeches, poems, contracts and treaties

I, too, cling to this planet

by Shuntaro Tanikawa
from Watashi (I Myself)
publisher: Shichosha, Tokyo, 2007
translation: Takako Lento, 2011

Little Free Libraries pop up in Italy and siberia

The fruit of a narrow-leaved campion, buried in permafrost by a ground squirrel 32,000 years ago on the banks of the Kolyma river in Siberia, has been coaxed into growing into a new plant, which then successfully set seed itself in a Moscow laboratory.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Lost Islands of Venice Discovered on Lucky 13 September 2012 AD

The Venetian lagoon has a must-see island, secret little Mazzorbo, which is connected by an old, wooden footbridge to Burano—the prosperous island of lace-makers, artisans, marvelous painted cottages, and the ancient crooked bell tower—and neighbors Torcello, where the renowned basilica of Santa Maria Assunta and the historic Throne of Attila can be found. Mazzorbo is best known for Venissa, the ancient estate encircled by medieval walls, which has been restored the Bisol family. The Bisols are beloved wine-makers with 125 hectares of vineyards. They have made the best prosecco served on the mainland for 21 generations and created wine for Napoleon. Gianluca Bisol, the current doyen of the Venissa estate, has turned the charming ex-manor house into a resort with six fabulous suites and an intimate restaurant, also called Venissa. It is run by Bellunese chef Paola Budel, who creates a new menu daily—delicate risotto with tiny scallops, soft-shell crabs in season, fish from the Adriatic, and baby artichokes, beets, peas, and sweet tomatoes, all salty with the lagoon's water. The wonderful house white wine is a perfect complement to every dish Mazzorbo

Of all the islands in the lagoon, San Francesco del Deserto (Saint Francis in the Desert) is the easiest to recognize from a distance: Cypresses around the old monastery form a distinctive spiky silhouette. It is not, like the other islands on my tour, abandoned, though its only year-round inhabitants are a half-dozen monks.o Lost Treasure Islands

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Tale of Two Geniuses: The Fibonacci series is 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21

Alimentary images in Milan, , my dear Watson ... The camera (Nikon or nokin iphone or ipad) as well as blisters on malchkeon's feet change perception...

Sculpture on the Duomo di Milano
Sculpture on the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) Milan Italy

The light: it was no longer just cleared space in which things took form; it had direction, it led the gaze, its shafts excavated situations isolated in the dark, sometimes it spread in a scintillating, dazzling, blazing medium without boundaries. Shadows took on substance; they stretched, flowed, condensed things in themselves. It occurred to me that I saw them that way when I was a child. Things looked different: the contours of shadows and of things that overlapped other things pushed out the contours that contained things in themselves. Flat surfaces showed corrugations, grain, stubble and texture, and sheets of gleam. And the continuity of the landscape drifting by would be abruptly broken by momentary events—the spiraling neck of a heron probing the space, the poised pause of an antelope, the legs of a child in an arabesque she will never be able to do once grown up, the grin of a passerby at something inward. The landscape is abruptly splintered, a segment isolates, magnetizes and pulls the glance into it

What a heritage Europe has! As well as the birthplace of Jozef Imrich in Bohemian Tatra Mountains and democracy in Athens, the Forum of Rome, the renaissance buildings and art of Florence, the graceful canals of Venice and the Napoleonic grandeur of Paris, there’s always the less expected sites such as the Moorish palaces of Andalucía, the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the World in Turkey, the majesty of a second Venice in St Petersburg and the haunting buildings of Auschwitz in Poland.

Methods of collecting water for castles, abbeys, palaces and cities have led to architectural masterpieces...Sextus Julius Frontinus, the water commissioner of ancient Rome in the AD 90s, believed that the maintenance of the city’s aqueducts was the “best testimony to the greatness of the Roman Empire”. You can hardly doubt him when you visit a remaining section of ancient aqueduct such as the monumental Pont du Gard in Provence. This vertiginous structure built to supply the town of Nîmes with water is, in my view, the archaeological highlight of the south of France. It carried water from a spring some 12.5 miles away, mainly underground but at one point spectacularly on a three-tier aqueduct 164ft above the river Gard below...
It was perhaps the religious and symbolic role of water in cleansing the body and soul in both Muslim and Christian traditions that made it so integral to European medieval monasteries. It has always surprised me how sophisticated the water supply systems of abbeys were in comparison with the average medieval castle. Running water for hand-washing and flushing latrines was commonplace if you were a monk, but a wealthy knight would often have only a well in his castle and an outshoot for his latrine that dumped his excrement into the moat. Where there is a Well ... There is a history (Well, there is a brilliant description of a well inside that Cold River

Milan is famous as one of the world’s most dynamic fashion and design capitals but there’s one monument whose design will never run out of fashion: the Duomo. The Duomo is the largest cathedral in Italy and one of the largest in the world...

Milan has been one of Italy’s most prosperous cities since the Middle Ages. Although it is best known for its fashion credentials, it is in the field of industrial design that it really excels. true colours of our Mila, means dear sweetheart in Slavic tongues

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Writing about Writers: When It Happens to You

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Tell me a story and I’ll tell you who you are ... Travelling to Prague to see Kafka improves pattern-finding! In fact, any absurd or uncanny literature may be able to do this, a recent study from UC Santa Barbara suggests. According to the study, patients who read a nonsensical story performed better on grammatical pattern-learning tasks than did patients who read a similar story with a logical structure. One theory is that being temporarily immersed in a world of unfamiliar nonsense makes the brain more “motivated to find structure” in its surroundings. Kafka's The Country Doctor

And old postcard and old bohemian souverin made me realise that musings about the second oldest profession and mobile bills tend to be less and less tolerated. It could be the makings of an absurdist play ... In Woody Allen’s latest production, To Rome With Love, half the film’s dialogue is in Italian and in Prague Media Dragons will have a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the master of neurotic dialogue as the film will be WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES. After the movie rivers of disconnected long service thoughts will be flowing in the The Monastery of Břevnov - ;-)

If Cold War is remembered at all these days, it is always for the wrong reasons ... “In a market society, you rent people; in a slave society, you buy them. So therefore slave societies are more moral than market societies. Well, I’ve never heard an answer to that, and I don’t think that there is an answer. But it’s rejected as morally repugnant – correctly – without following out the implications, that renting people is an atrocity. If you follow out that thought, slave owners are right: renting people is indeed a moral atrocity. There are many similarities between modern wage slavery and chattel slavery

When I was very young, I used to play for hours in an old stone barn at the back of our garden in Dorset, 150 miles west of London. It is one of the first rooms I can recall with clarity. I loved its smells and dusty shelves filled with old clay flowerpots and spiders’ webs. I can remember that shed intensely, although I have not been in it for more than 30 years. What is it about our memory that it is intertwined so strongly with recollections of places, smells, rooms, I wonder – as much, or in fact more so, than people? In the 1950s my grandparents built a house overlooking the Beaulieu River in Hampshire. Having bought their plot of land, they couldn’t afford much for the house; so it was a fairly simple wooden bungalow, with shingle walls and wide glass walls overlooking the woods and the river. I used to love staying there.Vrbov of Vivid Memories- People like living in protected, historic places that make their properties more valuable. Good companies want to locate close to conservation areas because their employees want to live there

Listening to silence. John Cage knew that nothing is not nothing. It is always something – a provocation, a joke, an invitation to pay attention... It’s summer time, which means it’s time for the annual pilgrimage to Venice or west Bohemian spa town in the hopes of discovering something brilliant. At the age of 69, the Venice film festival needed a facelift. Venice Films;At the Rebbibia high-security prison in Rome, theater director Fabio Cavalli has decided to use inmates for his next production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, a play about betrayal and bloody murder. Karlove Vary; Prague - Fresh Film Fest 2012

A bit off-topic - For a while, Prague was even home to Semyon Mogilevich, the notorious Ukrainian-born Russian criminal who is a fixture on the FBI's "most wanted" list. However, the Russians' very visibility was also their weakness. They attracted far too much police attention and the enmity of local gangs.The return of the Russian gangsters

Writing about writers; an atrocity ignored the most influential book in English In the midst of life we are in death; Authors are being exposed for fabricating glowing reviews for their own books. But why risk ridicule for the sake of a good writeup? Sock puppetry and fake reviews: publish and be damned ; When is a book more than a book? When it’s wielded as a weapon, or used to signify wealth, status, taste. Or to wrap food, wipe bottoms. Books Before and After

Lewis Carroll and Jorge Luis Borges imagined it, and now Google might make it” real: a one-to-one scale map of the world. Useful or creepy? “The map is mapping us How Google and Apple's digital mapping is mapping us; Apple makes tons of money selling gadgets, and everything else is an afterthought. It’s the other way around at Amazon, and Jeff Bezos thinks that’s worth bragging about Amazon: We’re No Apple; Group said it found over 12m Apple IDs on agent's computer, but FBI says it has no knowledge of any data breach AntiSec: Hackers embarrass Apple with data leak

CODA: The job of a model, while not without its great perks, involves a talent for acting, extreme patience and the hide of a rhino when it comes to criticism Real Women - Brigitte - no models ; There are many branches of philanthropy, but I’m interested in tracing that smile in historic buildings that warms implacable hearts. The needs of our ailing cultural heritage face stiff competition from education, medicine and social hardship, although they can interrelate: finding the support to restore a beautiful library in an orphanage would be a doddle. But who loves architecture for its own qualities, and how does a business brain turn into a sugar daddy? Real Real Estate

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Imagine the Imagined: God put us on earth to be other half

Plenty of research shows that our minds have evolved to over-attribute agency to the surrounding world and patterns to the shape of human affairs. Several researchers have begun to explore how we attribute purposes and design to other people (e.g. when we say about a romantic partner that he or she was put on earth to be our “other half”) and indeed to the shape of our own lives (e.g. when we believe that we were put on earth to do that special thing only we can do).
During a 1945 lecture in Paris, Jean-Paul Sartre offered the following useful metaphor for God: When we think of God as the creator, we are thinking of him, most of the time, as a superior artisan… When God creates he knows precisely what he is creating. Thus, the conception of man in the mind of God is comparable to that of the paper-knife in the mind of the artisan: God makes man according to a procedure and a conception, exactly as the artisan manufactures a paper-knife, following a definition and a formula. Thus each individual man is the realisation of a certain conception which dwells in the divine understanding. Nonsense, said Sartre. We simply come to exist, just as beads of condensation form on a glass of water or spores of mould appear on bread. Happy wedding anniversary malchkeon

Oftentimes the early optimism of what one hopes to learn from a an article or a book ends in disappointment, but every once in a while a book lives up to its promise and you end with a refrain such as 'I wish I had written this story.' This phrase characterizes my feelings on Bookworms versus nerds ... What your literature professors tell you is true after all: reading narrative fiction helps make you more socially skilled. You become a better reader of other people’s minds and better able to navigate your complex social world. On the other hand, reading non-fiction does not seem to improve your social abilities. Meet my good friend pinky j

Friday, September 07, 2012

Postcard from Antipodean European multifaith Altar: Dubai-based Emirates

Media Dragon stitched another small deal ... So it is time to send a few postcards from that deal ;-) Even the Old KGB expected this deal to happen back in 1984 when iron curtain still overshadowed mittleuropa. The worst kept secret about the long-rumoured shotgun marriage will re-draw the Red flying kangaroo network map.

Qantas has suddenly extended its reach in Europe and I am their experimental consuming dragon Marriage made in heaven flying kangaroos and kamels.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Looking for a Good Job? Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

Such welcome and unwelcome things at once 'Tis hard to reconcile.
-William Shakespeare, Macbeth

If you think your job stinks, you're not alone. And if you’re still looking for a decent job, don’t expect to find one anytime soon, or ever. For some work is like being trapped in an elevator with obnoxious drunks Looking for a Good Job? Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

Michelle Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention Tuesday left members of the news me and media dragons gasping for superlatives

This NYT review of Orwell’s collected diaries has interest because Orwell wrote them. Plain spoken and truth telling Orwell rang clear like a bell. He hated authority, nationalism (that changed) and stupidity. The reviewer points out Orwell’s love of the particular: Orwell was a realist. A master of brilliantly clear prose; Animal Farm, like Swift’s A Modest Proposal, arguably a minor work of genius.
The corruption and hypocrisy of do-gooders was so cogently expressed by Orwell it is hard to believe they continue to be so hysterically present in public life – you would think they would be embarrassed. The single big answer still rules. Nuance long ago died in one of the garish cracks of pop culture.
Look at the mess of the current American election. A clueless, tendentious celebrity press and cut and paste candidates. Isaiah Berlin’s understanding of the excesses of even good motives should be required reading for “journolists”.
Sometimes realism like Orwell’s devolves to bitterness though, the poetry being discarded with the bathwater. What separated Orwell out was his lack of ideological confinement. He was independent, far seeing, and an intense observer. Often those who can focus most robustly on the present can seem clairvoyant, the present containing a future which can be grokked with the balance of objectivity.

PS: In 1939, according to British Secret Service records, “a flaming Polish patriot…expert skier and great adventuress…absolutely fearless” submitted a courageous plan to the British. She was to ski into Nazi-occupied Poland from Hungary, over the Tatra mountain range dividing the two countries. Poland had fallen to the Germans, and the woman proposed to take British propaganda into Warsaw to bolster the Polish spirit of resistance. She would then ski back out with secret information about the disposition of German SS and Wermacht units around the capital.
The woman was Krystyna Skarbek, a glamorous, resourceful and extraordinarily brave Pole, who had been a Warsaw beauty-queen candidate at 19, and then married a feckless but charming Polish aristocrat... “The Spy Who Loved” is not just the story of a uniquely brave and complicated patriot, but also a scholarly and tautly written account of secret operations in occupied Europe. Stories of espionage - Spies like her