Karaoke culture

Karaoke (from the Japanese word meaning ‘‘empty orchestra’) is a form of entertainment for millions of people who would like to be Madonna or Sinatra. The amateur crooner, a wannabe Madonna or Sinatra, replaces the original singer whose voice is turned down or completely switched off, and performs instead of the original. The amateur singer does not even need to know the lyrics which can be read off the screen. The karaoke machine was invented in the early seventies by Japanese musician Daisuke Inoue. Inoue never had his invention patented, allowing others to collect the revenues his idea has been […]

Dwarves and Giants

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’’s all.” I was reminded of this passage in Lewis Carroll’‘s Through the Looking Glass? last autumn, when Czech and international media were inundated with reactions to the article in the Czech weekly Respekt that mentioned a document from the early 1950s according to which writer Milan Kundera had […]

The Mystery Of a Mass Grave

An excerpt from Roman Daszczyński’’s interview with writer Stefan Chwin prompted by the recent discovery, in the northern Polish fortress city of Malbork, of a mass grave from the final days of World War II. When the grave was discovered as foundations were being laid for a new hotel, the local authorities’’ initial reaction was to cover up the burial site of nearly 2,000 Germans and keep building the hotel. However, heavy rains washed up more human bones, prompting an international scandal (for more information click here and here). Stefan Chwin:  – If at all technically possible, the bones should […]

Milk for the citizenry and free bus rides for pensioners

I don’’t know if our authorities love me but I definitely love them. I love the fact that they care about me. And I love their sense of humour. Especially when Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin cracks a joke, that really is something! At a recent cabinet meeting Agriculture Minister Gordeyev complained about citizens drinking less milk and eating fewer dairy products. And Putin had a joke right up his sleeve: C’mon, treat your colleagues to some milk then, don’’t be so tight-fisted! The tight-fisted agriculture minister muttered he hadn’t brought any milk as he was not prepared for this turn of […]

Will this embarrassment be a lesson for the Pope?

In covering the story of the Holocaust-denying bishop most of the media reports have focused – as usual – on a single controversial detail, missing the heart of the matter. They speculated whether Bishop Richard Williamson really was a holocaust denier, whether the Pope knew that Williamson was holocaust denier, and so on and so forth.  Hardly anyone has asked what the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, which Williamson and other bishops belong to and which has now been restored to the Roman Catholic Church, actually stands for, what had led to its excommunication in the first place, and why […]

Wandering around the sources of trust

It must truly be special if it is something to which amorous couples, governments as well as trade partners attach equal importance. Looking from afar this phenomenon appears to play an equally significant role in the lives of people but also of animals both where it exists and where it is absent.  Moreover, not only do animals and people trust or mistrust each other or the universe, they both create dramatic situations giving free rein to two of their magic skills: mimesis and mimicry. They know how to dispel the distrust of others. They know how to abuse the trust of […]

A wave that will well up from the depths of the crisis

The year 1989 in East and Central Europe was the year of democratic revolutions, of reforms flowing into revolutions and revolutions infused with reforms. Ideas of national independence and sovereignty were combined with a democratic, European transformation oriented towards the West. A new history However, the first nationalist ethnic revolutions came along as early as 1990-1991, proclaiming another kind of regime change, secession and separation, and attacking national minorities. It began with a pogrom in Romania’’s Târgu Mureș, was followed by the break-up of Yugoslavia and the coarsely velvety splitting up of Czechoslovakia, and it ranged from Csurka’’s ideology of international conspiracy in […]