Reading recommendation of the day

Do read Nedim's account of his visit to Priština.

Treat for a lazy weekend day: Monk and Coltrane

This is a wonderful web preview of Blue Note's release of Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, a recording of a November 1957 performance. With Monk on piano, Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass, and Shadow Wilson on drums. In addition to three tunes, the preview also gives text, video, graphics and photos. The recording had been unavailable until it was discovered (misfiled, it would seem) by a librarian at the Library of Congress in January of this year. We would all be lost and drowning in a sea of ignorance and confusion without librarians.


The police in Calabria announced that they have made 61 arrests in an operation against the smuggling of cocaine into Italy, and that among the people arrested were 10 citizens of SCG. Who says there is no progress in the integration of the countries of the region into international institutions?

Open source, Unicode, everything!

I posted earlier about my frustration with the “standard” word processing program for most institutions, MS Word. The Macintosh version of the program does not support Unicode (I am told that there is a newer version which does, but am not willing to subsidize Microsoft with a reward for doing what they should have done in the first place), which limits the number of languages a person can read and write with the software. Now thanks to a tip from "Barba de chiva", I seem to have found a partial solution. OpenOffice is an open-source word processing, graphics, spreadsheet and presentation package that supports Unicode, can share files with other programs, and is available for free download (though they will happily take contributions, not necessarily in the form of money). There are two versions of the software for Mac. I downloaded the version that is designed to operate “natively” on OS X, which seems simpler and is called NeoOffice/J 1.1.

A couple of notes for anyone who wants to try this out: 1) it's a big hunk of software, and downloading it by following OpenOffice's links through your browser may take a very long time, so try using a peer-to-peer filesharing program instead (I used LimeWire), 2) You do not have a choice of styles when typing with the “Serbian” and “Croatian” keyboards, but if you use “Dialog” as your main font then the shift from non-accented to accented characters looks fairly seamless, 3) you can open all the MS Word files you like, but if you want to (or want other people to) be able to open your OpenOffice files with MS Word, save them as RTF.

Thanks, Barb! This takes care of a long-standing source of frustration, and there is the added benefit of getting a little bit further out from under the thumb of Microsoft.

Malo nas je al...

Vojislav Koštunica knows very well that he would not be prime minister if he did not have the support of Slobodan Milošević's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). But a group of five SPS deputies has decided to make it clearer to him. As reported in 22 October's Blic, they have announced that their continued support for the government depends not on what deals the party leadership makes, but exclusively on the instructions they get from the Šupak of Scheveningen. They are a small fraction (led by Milorad Vučelić if such a thing can be imagined) of a small party, controlling the fate of four other small parties that by their good graces made it big. They are either making a show of overstating their power, or else stating it with perfect accuracy.

News flash! Karadžić not a very good poet!

Imagine. Katja has the scoop, and a textual analysis.

Update: Writing in The Guardian, Euan Ferguson is intrigued by the question of whether it is disturbing that pathological tyrants have hobbies.


Big upcoming media event: Multilingual Katrina survey

I've just received a notice that today New California Media will be releasing the results of their multilingual poll titled "The lessons of Katrina: Has a single event changed the way Americans view poverty, race, climate change and government effectiveness?" The announcement promises the results of their effort to survey "1000 African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics and Whites (including Asian Indians, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino and Japanese) – in six languages. This survey offers an idea of what a national conversation about Katrina would sound like if all of America’s major ethnic populations were included." There will be press conferences in San Francisco and Los Angeles, plus a nationwide "dial-in briefing" next Thursday, 27 October. On that day there will also be a summary posted at their web site.


This is a dish that does not get a lot of respect. People who have done military service recall that they got them all the time. Students get them every Friday, whether they want them or not, and usually they would rather not. Be that as it may, I think they are sublime. But I have adapted the preparation a bit. So here goes:
About a cup of good beans (the ones from Tetovo are best; under our diasporic conditions we used some labelled "giant Greek beans"; we have had the insane good fortune to have a Turkish market open in our neighborhood which sells fasulye; some people will tell you that you can use large lima beans, but they are lying)
Soak them for a long time. Overnight is best. It is possible to cheat by putting them in water, bringing it to a boil and letting them go about a minute, then covering them, turning off the heat, and letting the gloppy mess sit for 3 hours at least. When they have finished soaking, just about every cookbook will tell you to rinse them and replace the water, but I never do this. Then bring it to a boil again and let it boil as long as you can, at least 90 minutes. Meanwhile chop up:

2 onions
3 carrots
2 sweet peppers

Chop the unfortunate vegetables and put them in a bowl. Any other vegetable you think would be nice could go just fine here, especially celery root. When this is done heat up some oil in a frying pan and add:

a few spoonfuls of flour
a spoonful or two of good Hungarian paprika (it's best if you know someone who will smuggle it, otherwise the Szeged brand sold in grocery stores will do in a pinch)

Stir the flour and paprika in the oil until the mixture achieves a color of transcendent beauty. Add the chopped up vegetables and fry them in the mixture (y'all call it a zaprška, we call it a roux) for about 5 minutes. This is an old Louisiana trick to allow you to put vegetables into a liquidy glop without them getting soggy and insipid. Then mix the whole mess by spoonfuls into the gently boiling beans and cook it some more.

Serve it in bowls. The traditional thing would be to do it with boiled potatoes, but we prefer it with bread. At this point a spoonful of apple cider vinegar would not be the least bit unwelcome. Neither would chopped parsley. Chopped hot peppers (note to Andras: Russo's in Watertown has Hungarian wax peppers) would treat it like an old friend. Enjoy.

It's a while since we have had a culinary post here, not because nobody has been eating.


A moment for nostalgija

Do any of the visitors here crave a break from the overwhelming troubles of the region and the world? Thanks to East Ethnia's literary lion friend MR, also the lyricist and vocalist for the incipient supergroup Maplewood Feels Good, enjoy this gem from the Bedazzled blog: the Box Tops performing on a prehistoric episode of the Mike Douglas show, featuring a shockingly young Alex Chilton and a vapid interviewer.


On the causes of human misery

According to report by the Human Security Centre of the University of British Columbia, most forms of political violence are in decline in the world since 1990. Among its findings are that "the number of genocides and violent conflicts dropped rapidly in the wake of the Cold War," and that "wars are not only far less frequent today, but are also far less deadly." Deadly to whom? The report says that "90% of those killed in today’s wars are civilians, and that women are disproportionately victimized by armed conflict." This makes it a bit unclear why these developments are characterized as an "improvement in global security." The Centre's press release (linked above) describes the results as "surprising" and as "confounding conventional wisdom." I would have to agree that it is surprising and confounding, but this may well be because it will provoke criticism of its findings and especially its methodology. I have not yet read the entire report (available in thirteen PDF files) but strongly suspect that many of the results are driven by how the researchers measured (Did India really have 156 "conflict years" between 1946 and 2003? We would have to know what the category is and whether it makes sense.). It doesn't help that a section of the promotional web page titled "data sources" contains only the text "Coming soon." Anyone who is interested enough to read the whole thing, please share your assessment in the comments.

Update: For an alternative representation of the frequency of genocide, try this table prepared by Gregory Stanton's Genocide Watch. For my part, it's hard to avoid the standard methodological objection that all ethnographers have: lots of cases means a poverty of empirical detail.

Upcoming events for Boston-area Ethnians

I just got the periodic notice of upcoming events in the mail from the Boston Network for International Development. Here are two that look like they might be especially interesting to readers of East Ethnia, if they are in the area:
Oct 19, 2005
4:00 p.m.

American Empire in Global Perspective.

The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures 2 of 3 - "Why America's Hegemony Differs from Britain's Empire."
(Program in the History of American Civilization) Eric Hobsbawm.

Location: Lowell Lecture Hall, Harvard University
17 Kirkland Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Oct 24, 2005
4:15 p.m.

"The Making and Unmaking of Ethnic Boundaries."
Panel featuring Andreas Wimmer, University of California, Los Angeles, and other discussants.
Location: Harvard University, Center for European Studies (CES), Lower level conference room
Cambridge, MA

Unfortunately they are set on days when I'm not in town, but if anyone attends, reports are welcome.