Mt. McKinley

Mt. McKinley
Peace in a photograph- Mt. McKinley

Monday, April 25, 2011

Eastern Europe

I lived in what is popularly called "Eastern Europe" for four months, did you know that?  Well, I did.  It's an area that is easily overlooked for some reason (stupid Western Europe with all their fancy 'Westernization'), and I could not recommend it more.  If you ever get the chance to go to Europe do not neglect that side of the continent!

Let's check out some interesting stuff from that area then.
One of the many interesting things about this cluster of countries is the abundant ties to socialism, communism, and fascism and the struggle to move towards democracy or not.  The first thing to check out is this article about 25 abandoned Soviet sculptures in Yugoslavia.  After the Republic fell in the 1990s, these sculptures (which had been commissioned to commemorate sites from WWII) essentially were abandoned by visitors/tourists.  The photographs of these statues were taken by Kempenaers, and he questions whether or not these former monuments can continue to exist as pure sculptures?  [On the one hand their physical dilapidated condition and institutional neglect reflect a more general social historical fracturing. And on the other hand, they are still of stunning beauty without any symbolic significances.]  This article seems to suggest that the creator and the time the sculpture was made is more important than the physicality of the structure- or at least, that it's up for debate.

One of the more depressing things about this cluster of countries is that supposedly the 14 most unhappy countries in the world are in Eastern Europe [U.S. is supposedly #36]. This is interesting if you compare it to surveys for some of the worst things, like that Zambians are most likely to not live to see their 40th birthday or on the probability of not reaching 40 graph, the top 34 countries are all African.

And, lastly, some interesting facts about the Czech Republic- my favorite Eastern European country bar none. According to the 2001 census, 59% of the Czechs are Agnostic, Atheist, or non-believer, 26.8% Roman Catholic and 2.5% Protestant. Only 19% said that they believed in God, meaning that about 11% of the self-declared Christians were only Christian in name (or by tradition).  And, this is pretty apparent in that country.  This is interesting because they are close to some very religious countries *cough Poland cough.*  The Czech people are also the highest consumers of beer in the world- this shouldn't be surprising considering so much of beer's history stems from this wonderful nook of the world  Interestingly, the Czech Republic has one of the highest density of castles in the world, with the Prague castle being the largest castle area in the world, spreading to over 18 acres.  Bottom line is that this country is fucking awesome.  Beer, castles, and spas are overflowing.  And, hell, it's not hard to look at either!
Song of the day: Radiohead - All I Need [I only had 4 cds when I lived in the Czech Republic, and Radiohead's In Rainbows is one of them, so this is a dedication to my time there] [[the bass is awesome]]

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