Modern Estonia

millimallikas-014Estonia or Eesti has known indipendance since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. Since then tensions with its neighbor have been acute. Regardless Estonia has successfully extracted itself from the past shadows of communism. Russia has dominated Estonia for much of modern history. This new indipendance is twenty years out of forty that Estonia has known indipendance since the thirteenth century. First the Danes, then the Swedes, then the Germans then the Russians have laid claim to Estonia. Today the country is growing its capitalistic roots and gaining political ties with the EU and NATO. This is quite antagonistic to Russia which has made no secret that it wants Estonia to follow its influence. Estonia is rather seeking ties with the west.

For the past week and a half I explored Estonias captial Tallinn, through the biggest blizzard there in twenty years. Everywhere was evidence of Estonias soviet past, their aspirations for the future and the spirit of a nation that has known nothing but turmoil throughout its history. These photos, taken myself, capture this transisition and were taken during my time there.

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Photo Essay-Afghanistan

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This album posted on Boston.coms ‘the big picture’ is a personal up close look at what the soldiers in Afghanistan are living like. These photos put a face on what is becoming the new front in America’s ‘war on terror’.

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Surfs Up

It’s a bird it’s a PLANE. This is Princess Juliana airport in the Dutch Antilies. You Tube has hundreds of these videos. I would go to this island just to watch planes on the beach, it would never get old!

here is a jet landing and taking off

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Post Election Coverage

The week after America’s longest election saw alot of the media patting itself on the back. After the gamut was over many polls came true and many pundits got their wish for Obama as president. After the fact campaign stories dominated the scene this week. Newsweek ran a seven part serial story, on what went on behind the scenes during the arduous campaign.

The reporters were given full access on the condition that none of their findings would be released until after the election. The report covered everything from the beginning to the final days. An especially savory piece of the report for Sarah Palin haters was full disclosure by her campaign staff about her questonable behavior backstage and her depiction by one McCain staffer as a hillbilly from Wasilla. The New York Times also provided an excellent post-analysis, comparing how the map changed with an interactive online feature.

The next big story of the week besides the post election cleanup was the beginning of the transition. Newsweek reports here on the bumpy ride transferring administrations can be.

Finally there were some words from the loosers and changes in the heated rhetoric from their side. One thing is for sure. Just because the election is over, doesn’t mean the media will be running out of things to talk about. It seems like it has all just begun.

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Election night in America

alaf1The harp is a little tavern situated in the backyard of Cowls Lumber Co. in North Amherst Massachusetts. Just a little corner of America. Tonight it is full of young people playing trivia and amidst the questions the announcer shouts out the states as they come in. “Obama just got Ohio!” and the crowd cheers. A mom with her kid remarks “I’m black for Obama, Gobama!” Someone misunderstands an announcement on the television and remarks despondantly, “Oh no wait, Obama is loosing!” But by eleven O’Clock when the west coast called in their numbers the race was clear, the nation had a new president and the trivia game was put on hold for a moment as the room cheered and a sense of joy filled the air. I guess there is no guess to which side of the political persuasion these folks are on. it was a good race, a affirmation of American politcs after they has taken so much damage in the past two elections. Maybe it will be ok to be American again. The three TV’s each showing MSNBC’s horserace. There was a small feeling in the air of being a part of the public body, even if it was just a small bar in a small town. But hanging around with total strangers watching the states click off one comes to realize that we are all part of the same nation and for that small moment, we all have something in common.

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The most arbitrary thing besides the election

So the biggest election in our time is taking up all the news space. Had it up to here with election coverage?

Well I thought Id post something that is as far away from elections as the pope is from popcorn, here you have it. ABBA!

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What state to watch

Virginia. If Virginia goes blue than McCain will have a hard time filling in the electoral votes. Moreover Virginia represents a mix of country hillbillies and civilized city folk so it proves to be an adequate measurement of the national sentiment. If Virginia votes democrat it will be the first it has done so since 1964. This story also illustrates well the importance of Virginia. from A poll in done by Suffolk University from October 6th shows Obama with a commanding lead in Virgina. Numbers from last night are tighter but give Obama a slight lead. As we all know polls don’t make the election and alot of the time reporters will jump the gun. But if Obama wins Virginia you heard it hear first, election over.

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Facing the storm

The Obama campaign can thank nature for a unique PR opportunity. What a better way to frame Obama as a leader in stormy times, than to have his picture taken speaking to thousands during a rainstorm. Obama spoke to a crowd of 9,000 on October, 28 in Chester PA.  John McCain was due to speak in Quakerstown PA but cancelled the outside event.

Obama grits into the wind

Obama grits into the wind

 

 

Obama comes out looking like a strident leader in photos from Huffington Post of him soaking wet and surrounded by his drenched supporters. This is the epitiome of a strong campaign. For McCain the effect just wouldn’t have worked. Can you imagine a soaking wet old man trying to give a half hearted polemic. Obama’s mantra of change may not have, but the words work well in alot of frames; and braving wind and rain is quite germane.

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no speed limit

My first you tube appearence. Driving fast on the German Autobahn. We were driving around 200kph in a Volvo with a really small engine so I have the music turned way up to hide the sound of it straining at 6000 RPM. It is nerve wracking going that fast in a car not exactly made for it and when you can feel it move without your control then the butterflies start fluttering. This speed is pretty standard, later that day I pushed it to 220 kph or 133 mph my new speed record. It was a nice day for a drive and I went through 2 tanks of gas.

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This will change the world-learn about this!

Craig Venter heads a company at the cutting edge of gene research. This is a talk he gives explaining his research, how it’s done and what the future holds. His ideas work in the simplest terms by engineering molecules by using viruses to manipulate DNA and therefore cellular function. The end result are microsynthetic organisms that can perform functions such as creating new fossil feuls and recycling energy. This bacteria is called mycoplasma laboratorium. This is the new frontier of scientific engineering. I urge everyone to watch a small piece of this, in the last half is a question and answer section that is easier to understand.

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Poland buries it’s President

Poland has said goodbye to its president. On a sunny Sunday afternoon the flag draped caskets of Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria were slowly pulled along the last kilometer of of the journey from the capital Warsaw to their burial ground at Wawel Castle on the Vistula river in Krakow.

Stoic police and soldiers lined along the street gave crisp two fingered salutes as people pressed close to the barriers and threw flowers at the green army Humvees towing the presidential couple, killed along with 94 others in a plane crash outside Smolensk, Russia on April 10.

Among the procession were clergy, members of Poland’s military elite, and foreign dignitaries. Masked sharpshooters were posted atop the Wawel Castle keeping a close eye on the crowd packed on the sidewalk some straining their necks and holding cameras up in the air to catch a last glimpse of the caskets as they turned the corner up Wawel Hill. Only those personally invited by the Kaczynski family were to witness the burial ceremony at a crypt in the Wawel cemetery reserved for Poland’s heroes and monarchs.

The decision to bury Mr. Kaczynski and his wife at Wawel Castle has not been without controversy. The ancient fortress is revered as the resting place for Poland’s most honored royalty. ”I think it is a great mistake,” said one lifetime resident of Krakow, ”Wawel is a place for kings not presidents, it is a sacred place. I think they defied the will of the Polish people with this decision. He is not a king and she is not a queen. I think he should be in Warsaw like he stated in his will, that is the place for presidents.”

Another Krakow resident agreed that a lot of people were wondering why the presidential couple were to be buried at Wawel. ”This is the place where Sobieski and Kasimir are buried. Yes he died and it is a tragedy but it was only an accident, it could have happened to anyone.” The decision to bury the Kaczynskis at Wawel was put forth by church leaders and the Kaczynski family.

For hours prior to the procession people lined the street trying to find a place as volunteer scout troops from across Poland assisted with crowd control. During the funeral mass some lined along the route the prayed aloud guided by loudspeakers playing the ceremony being held at St. Mary’s church in Krakow’s old market square.

A limited amount of tickets for a public assembly at the square were given away within hours.

TMourners pray during the funeral mass

he funeral procession caps off a week of national mourning in Poland. There were even rules enforced regulating public behavior. According to locals, during the week certain nightclub owners in Krakow were fined for having loud music being heard on the street.

From midnight Saturday to 8 pm Sunday no alcohol was to be served anywhere in the country. The normally bustling Krakow nightlife was silent on Saturday evening.

One exception was a hidden party of restaurant staff who had a chance to enjoy each others company since there were no customers. Still, in the middle of the vodka fueled noise the maître d’ reminded everyone why they were there and the group observed a minute of silence.

In the wake of his death, Mr. Kaczynski is being lauded as a beloved national figure however the opinion of some Poles diverges from this.

Monika Caban, a student from Krakow said, ”to be honest most of us didn’t like him. He was

radical and xenophobic. Before this happened we always saw his bad side on the news, doing outrageous things that I think didn’t represent us as a people. Now that he’s died the news is presenting him in a wholesome light, his entire image has been changed.” Another student said he was angry that Kaczynski was being called a hero simply because he had died.

OWawel Castle

ne student admitted he liked Mr. Kaczynski, ”he understood political power and he knew how to manipulate it, he was an expert at foreign policy and that is the presidents job.”

Regardless of controversy the death of Poland’s most visible figures has changed the cultural and political face of the country.

”These were people we saw everyday on TV,” said Ms. Caban, ”and now they are all gone. If one person dies, that is strange enough but to have so many important people go at once, that is going to change a lot. Our generation knew about Katyn and Auschwitz as a part of history and now with this, we have our very own sense of loss.”

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retrospecticus

The first blog post up here was about the illusive Scott Brodeur. As the semester progressed online journalism developed around us. The presidential election gave us a perfect expiriment to see how online journalists are participating in the electoral process and the effect they had on the overall coverage. The hoax about Sarah Palin and Africa was started in a blog and showed us the influence of pure online journalism, albiet if it was in the pejorative. Blogs have opened themselves up as a viable alternative to mainstream news outlets. If you look there is more to blogs than some guy wasting his bosses time at work, there are some professionals out there. I would argue that we change what we call “blogs” as the name is associated with innacuracy, opinion and overall internet junk. Online journalism is different from blogs and it should be distinguished. Being another person who has grabbed a corner of the internet for himself doesn’t make me feel part of any community. The net is so vast and full of junk that small posts seem irrelivant. What isn’t is the sum of all those voices. The sum of all the comments on a post board or the sum of all the blogs on an issue can provide us with a mean average of opinion that after being put through the numbers can give us an accurate assesment about how people feel on an issue. If we could figure out better ways of measuring this mess of online opinion and conjecture the internet blog world would serve a more definable purpose in serving the intellectual gestalt.

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JIMMY CARTER CURES FLESH BURROWING WORMS

 

The former president of the USA has been on a crusade in equatorial Africa against not famine or war but a parasite known as GUINEA WORM, This us a a parasite you drink and in a year you have a three foot long spaghetti living inside your body eating at you from the inside, pardon my French but that is degulasse.  The things tears a whole through you to get out, and you sit there and feel it… This morning Guinea Worm levels thanks to good old Jimmy Carter, are at the all time low.  Imagine a old guy from Georgia putting his lifes work into helping afflicted African villages. It’s a truly remarkable thing.

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2007/02/19/opinion/1194817104747/carter-vs-the-worms.html

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Frontman

jagger

Here is a photo slideshow from Boston.com that features classic rock and roll frontmen. It also reminds us of how rock has changed and the classic iconic frontman is more or a rarity. The slideshow misses more than a few classic frontmen, such as Kurt Cobain or John Lennon, for some lesser known indiviudals maybe more poplular with the indie scene.  I wonder what there motivation for that was, or how it was they chose who to be in the pictures.

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Peace Corps looks for Volunteers

I spoke with a few prospective volunteers and Peace Corps representative Paul Frisoli. Here is what they had to say. Tom Kennedy, a chinese major at Umass explained, “I wish to become an interpreter for Chinese Japanese Spanish and French, I have no other plans after college so I figured I’d maybe join the peace core and at least go somewhere where they speak Spanish or French and apply my language ability.
I expect to learn more about what the Peace Corps does because I really don’t know that much about it.”

Nelly Stevens is a Kinesiology major at Umass, she said, “I’m interested in Peace Corps because I’ve always wanted to do volunteer work and I want to go abroad. My number one place is Africa and I’d really like to go to South America as well. Health Education would probably be my number one or anything in the health area. I looked at videos of volunteers online and went through the Peace Corps web site. I heard about this meeting about two weeks ago.  I’m not 100% now, I want to talk to the representative about it.”

I asked Paul Frisoli, the representative organizing the meeting about how the meetings are held and how he got into the Peace Corps himself .”We have one meeting about once a month, and one at Amherst college so that’s five per semester. Besides Umass I do a lot of information sessions at Amherst college, and sometimes at Hampshire college.  This year I have seen a lot of Umass applications. Before I served as a volunteer I just passed by an information table and ran into a recruiter and I talked to him for like two hours and I was like, I want to apply to the Peace Corps. That was 2001, I was 21, it was my senior year. I was a French major and economics minor.
I originally went to Guinea to teach English and when I got there , there weren’t enough Math teachers and they saw I had a certain French level and they asked if I could teach math in French and it was like basic Algebra.”

He talked about how well the information sessions work in getting people informed and even admitted a collegue who for her own personal reasons left the Peace Corps early. There weren’t any penalties.

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