allochthonous: (we make the golden journey)
Gorgeous long weekend lazing around in the mountains (actually only a bit of lazing, I also climbed the occasional hill). I also wrote about my enduring love for the bath houses of Tbilisi on my Proper Blog, and spent a lot of time catching up on my enormous pile of bookmarked links.

Talking of Georgia, this is a lovely article about eating and drinking there (a Georgian feast is one of the best eating experiences you can have). Another from a  few years ago highlights the huge number of varieties of fruit in the region, far more than people in the west are familiar with (I can vouch for the figs, which are amazing). Agronomists from the US are searching for new cultivars in the Caucasus which could eventually be grown in the US under changing climatic conditions.

Which smoothly segues into new research showing the link between the collapse of the Indus civilisation and the drying of the climate in the Middle East towards the end of the Bronze Age. I love paleoclimatology, it's just a shame that actually doing it involves spending so much time looking at bloody foraminifera.

This is a remarkable story about a highschool dropout from rural India who spent years developing an affordable machine to make sanitary towels for rural women. His single-mindedness-to-the-point-of-obsession meant that he lost his family and almost all his money on the way, but the final product has been very successful (and his wife came back, so yay, happy ending!).

I have also spent a lot of time side-eyeing the situation in Ukraine. I read an article last week from a liberal Russian journalist, written before the Russian troops moved into the Crimea, and this paragraph, on how he felt when the Russians moved into South Ossetia in 2008, really struck me.

In my picture of the world, nothing of the sort [Russia sending troops into Crimea] can happen, but I remember my picture of the world in August 2008 – back then, in my picture, Russia couldn’t have sent troops into Georgia, but it up and sent them. On the morning of August 8, 2008, I flew to Moscow from Chelyabinsk, and watched the events in South Ossetia from an overflowing waiting room in a little southern Urals airport. There were a lot of people there, but I was the only one surprised by Russians tanks in the Roki Tunnel; the rest of the passengers perceived this as a given. Because I built my picture of the world by reading independent political analysts, independent media and social networks, and the rest of the passengers didn’t read any of that, but read Komsomolskaya Pravda and watched state TV channels. And that morning it turned out that their picture of the world was closer to reality than mine. On the whole, that morning produced a very strong impression on me.

It chimes with this article on how the west (and the US in particular) and Russia operate almost on entirely different planes of reality when it comes to their understanding of their relationship. I am watching Putin's press conference,and I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next.
allochthonous: (Default)
I've started so many posts the last few weeks and been distracted. Lovely time in London over Christmas (although I'm not sure we had a single dry day) but back in Georgia now, which is a great relief because I can curl up on the sofa with a bag of walnuts and a massive hunk of sulguni cheese and a cup of coffee and not have to move because someone needs to watch The Holiday or whatever. To ease myself in, have some links.

An absolute must-read  photoessay from [livejournal.com profile] zyalt on the street battles in Kiev (getting a lot of traffic so you may need to reload); couple that with Ten Things the West Needs to Know About the Situation in Kiev. The protests may have originally kicked off about the backtracking of the government on signing an Association Agreement with the EU, but the violence is now very much in response to the massive clampdown on civil liberties from the government.

This video from the Donmar Warehouse of the cast preparing for a performance of Coriolanus. If you are anywhere near a theatre showing the NT Live screening of this production on Jan 30th (later dates in the US), beg, borrow or steal a ticket (or, you know, ring up and book one like a normal person). One of best bits of theatre I've seen for a long time, and one day I will actually finish writing up my review of it.

The new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse next  to the Globe looks so beautiful. It's a reproduction of a Jacobean theatre, complete with lighting via candle  (candelabra descending from the ceiling! It sounds delightful, but how do they ensure people don't get wax dripped on them? Or maybe that's an essential part of the Jacobean experience). It's tiny, and I wonder if it is going to prompt a Donmar-style scramble for tickets every season, which is something those of us who are less orgnanised really don't need.

The list of things for which I need to return to London this summer grows ever longer: Simon Russell Beale's King Lear, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies at the RSC (I am curled up on my sofa with a cup of coffee rereading BUtB for the umpteenth time and doodling little hearts around Mantel's writing, I love these books so much), and the British Museum's Viking exhibition. I do love a good viking, and I even more love the glee with which the press are making Ikea jokes about the BM being sent an entire flat-pack longship from Denmark.

Tbilisi is not looking so hot at the moment. So here are some old paintings I found of Tbilisi looking exciting and romantic and far more dramatic than it actually is (it is pretty dramatic, though).
allochthonous: (gin o'clock)
Lovely weekend in Norwich with my Cam housemates celebrating Burns Night on Friday (the sound of six people of a wide variety of non-Scottish backgrounds each attempting a verse of "Ode to a Haggis" will stay with me for a while; we had vegetarian haggis and very nice it was too) and Christmas dinner 2.0 on Saturday with an outrageously good nut roast, which I didn't think was possible. It was festively snowy on Saturday with enough for a snowman; by Sunday the rain overnight had cleared it all away and East Anglia was looking practically spring-like from the train home. I have also discovered that I might actually like whisky, which if true would give me a whole new interest in life . Our in-house whisky connoisseur produced a bottle of Talisker and one of Laphroaig, neither of which meant anything to me but both of which were orders of magnitude more interesting than the terrible stuff I used to drink at uni. The peatiness gives it a certain kumis-like quality which given my love-hate relationship with the stuff is not altogether a bad thing. Must experiment further.

Something I've seen in several places on my flist: A month of letters. The idea is that every posting day during February you mail something: a postcard, letter, newspaper clipping, whatever. I think it's a lovely idea and any other time I would be entirely up for it as I love letter-writing, but Feb is looking insanely busy for me at the moment so I'm not sure whether I'd be able to keep it up. Might give it a shot anyway.

Alarming (yet also pretty awesome) weather picture of the day: sea snow at Alexandra Headland in Australia (which turns out to be just down the road from where my great aunt lives, go figure). What with the recent heat waves  (new colours on the maps!) and the flooding in Brisbane, poor old Australia is really taking a pounding at the moment.
allochthonous: (Default)
This is a fascinating, thought-provoking article from a liberal democrat (not Liberal Democrat, one would assume) gun owner, who was against concealed carry permits until he gained his own. The gun culture in the US has always appeared deeply peculiar to me (not helped by the way it's portrayed in the newspapers here), but that's because I've grown up in a country which is culturally and geographically hugely different (there's practically nowhere in the UK, for istance, where you would expect a two-hour response time from the police. Possibly in the most remote parts of the Highlands and Islands). I don't agree with everything in this article, but it's one of the few I've read that has really got me able to understand where some parts of the gun lobby are coming from.

From a public-safety standpoint it may matter little that lots of people are carrying guns now, but if accessorizing with firearms becomes truly au courant, the United States will feel like a different place. We’ll be less dreamy and more secretive. We’ll spend more energy watching one another and less on self-obsession. We’ll be a little more on-task, more cognizant of violence and prepared to participate therein. - Happiness is a Worn Gun

Meanwhile, a seal was filmed swimming in a flooded field near Fen Drayton lakes in Cambridgeshire, 50 miles inland. I can't help feeling that these guys know something we don't - is sea-level rise due to come earlier than planned? 
allochthonous: (Default)
To instantly improve your day, take a look at this lovely photo essay. Couples getting married in Seattle on the first day of marriage equality were asked to write down how long they'd been together and what they loved best about each other. See also 60 moments that gave me the chills during Seattle's first day of marriage equality.

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