The Milošešelj show

At the Milošević trial in the Hague, the accused's old political partner and dirtyworker Vojislav Šešelj, himself under indictment and awaiting trial, has been testifying for several days. AP has already noted that the spectacle has revived viewership of the trial proceedings, which had been lagging as the process continues to drag out in its fourth year. And the proceedings have certainly been interesting, from the camaraderie displayed between the co-conspirators to the lectures on pan-Slavic geopolitics Šešelj has to offer, his accusations against political opponents, regardless of whether these opponents have been murdered or those attempts failed, to his denials of responsibility or even knowledge of crimes which are well documented. It all makes for fascinating television, seeing these two people on whom many lives and deaths once depended sharing with one another their truly unusual understanding of just what it was they did.

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A pointed argument from Vojislav Šešelj. Photo thanks to NNDB.

But the whole exchange between the two is not likely to contribute much to the trial. Most of what Šešelj has had to say has been a combination of his opinion of himself, his opinion of other people, and his already very well known extreme right outlook. The judges have more or less told the defendant as much, which suggests that the testimony is likely to be mostly ignored as evidence. So why are Milošević and Šešelj bothering? The whole event is dedicated to people who are no longer in power repeating the phrases that dominated the media when they were in power. They know that no generally available media outlet has offered any kind of consistent alternative to what they used to offer through the media when they controlled them. Wouldn't it be a sad irony if at the end of their long trials, they lose their legal battles but win the television show?

The long hot summer just passed me by

This blog came about during a sabbatical, and today that idyll has ended, with the first day of classes taught and little left but to sort out the various complications of enrollment. All by way of giving notice that as the lectures need to be written and, Inshallah, the papers graded, there will be more frequent periods of what the euphemism calls "light blogging." The youth must be educated! And I must be around somewhere to watch and pretend I had something to do with it.

In case anyone is wondering where I work, my place of employment is the “Hottest School for Student Research”. So nyeah.


What I'm listening to

You can't hear it on the radio, I guess, unless you are in Massachusetts, Seattle, or Salt Lake City (imagine!), but you can get it through the magic of podcasting. Radio Open Source is "a very different sort of radio conversation" hosted by the witty and encyclopedic Chris Lydon. He is trying to merge the possibilities of radio and internet technology, and it shows in the updates, the choice of guests, and the range. You can read the manifesto of sorts, but I prefer listening to the program.


Coffee with the president

After he was attacked by street thugs, Darko Rundek was invited for coffee by Serbian president Boris Tadic. There is no official stenogram of their conversation, but thanks to Index, there is a photo.

Rundek is the one with the dark glasses.

Update: Thanks to the anonymous reader who suggested this photo from B92.

Tadic looks a little less confused, and Rundek a little less animated. Is Mrs Ethnia the only person who seems to have observed (after recently watching, once again, Citizen Kane) a slight resemblance between Boris Tadic and Joseph Cotten?

Negotiating Kosovo

Negotiations on the final status of Kosovo are set to begin this fall. Anything else would risk new riots by parts of the ethnic Albanian majority in the province, and the great powers feel they're trapped. But there's one aspect of the discussion about options for the final status that troubles me, and that's the idea that it's somehow the great powers that "grant" independence. It's certainly right to use the carrot of recognition to push an agenda of reform, and it's certainly right for the internationals to hold the Kosovar authorities responsible for what's going on there, especially with regards to minorities. But Belgrade is bringing this up again and again as "proof" that Kosovo somehow doesn't deserve independence because it treats its minorities badly, and many internationals share this view that independence is somehow as reward for good behavior. Well, that's precisely the argument that was made to justify the bombing of Serbia in 1999: sovereignty is a social contract that includes some form of protection for citizens, and once the state no longer provides that, other protectors may -- or must -- step in. How ironic Belgrade should now be using this line of argument regarding Kosovo!


Why can't the whole festival be made out of the stuff they make the black boxes out of?

Those readers who find themselves in Berlin in November may want to check out the Balkan Black Box festival of film and culture, this year on the theme "Seljak & Gradjanin: Archaism and Modernity in the Balkans." The program is in the German-language section of the site, but hey, I could get the point of it.

First culinary post in a while

This might strike a few people as niche marketing of the most specific type: Einstürzende Neueküchen is an online cookbook consisting of recipes submitted by members, fans and supporters of the hoary German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, which has been around a lot longer than most of your spices. For those who always wanted to know what Blixa Bargeld gets up to in the kitchen (apparently, lemony lentil soup).

More nonsense nobody needs

On Friday it was the attack by drunken idiots against Darko Rundek in Belgrade. Today it was by drunken idiots against bus passengers in Rijeka. If the two incidents are related, it is through the kinds of connections made in the mind of a drunken idiot. The overwhelming majority of people in both countries has nothing to do with this kind of nonsense. Both Serbia and Croatia could control their drunken idiots, if their governments were not populated by the kind of people who would do the same thing if they had the chance.

Special no-parking signs for the day

The City of Boston transportation department has unveiled a special series of parking enforcement signs to prepare for tonight's massive Rolling Stones show at Fenway Park. A sampling of the signs around the area (sorry, I haven't found photos):

"Park illegally and you can have your own 19th Nervous Breakdown"

"You will be Waiting on a Friend to drive you home if you park here"

"The Transportation Department has its own `Beast of Burden.' It's called a tow truck''

'' 'You Can't Always Get What You Want,' so don't even think of trying to park illegally"

Courtesy of various Boston-area media sources. Mayor Menino says come enjoy the show (in the unlikely event that you can find tickets), but take a train or bus.

Dr. Rice discovers time zones

The Times ran an article today about the U.S. government's attempts to control the news cycle improve its image abroad. They put Karen Hughes, a longtime Bush confidante, in charge of the effort at the State Department. (For a more serious take on the issue, check out this opinion piece from last Monday's Trib.) Dr Rice, when asked by the Times about what this was all about, had this incisive observation to offer:

“What we found with rapid response is it does have to be 24-hour and at least a lot of it has to be in the field, not back in Washington, just because of the nature of the time cycle,” she said.
It is indeed reassuring to know that the Bush administration has discovered that there are countries outside the GMT -4 to -7 zones.

Ajmo u ravnine

Even with the withdrawal of criminal charges against them, the criminals of the Milošević family appear to be finally making their way out of Serbia, selling their property in order to be closer to their favorite criminal, who has a long-term engagement at the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague. Apparently they own five houses valued at 4,2 million Euros, though chances are that these properties could be sold for less, considering their disreputable histories, everyone's awareness that the titular owners received title for symbolic prices or for free, and the fact that every potential buyer knows that the sellers have good reason to want to get out in a hurry.

To the complaint that they will getting something for nothing, it could be replied that at least they are leaving. So to all those people continuing to work on the restoration and rehabilitation of that regime: its leaders and primary beneficaries are giving up, this could be taken as a sign.

Don't quite believe this (mate)

Australian, zar? Looking fairly weak on the Victorian side as well, this may not be surprising.

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