Saturday, May 30, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
There are only 4,000 Jews serving in our armed forces. Why so few, when the facts reveal that there are more than 4,000 Jewish Americans serving in the Jewish Army? Why the discrepancy?...Katrina proved that Black people look to the government too much because they do not know how to ‘take care;’ of themselves. Our country shall not survive if we subsidize those who want to be dependent on the government.I can only assume the "Jewish Army" is the IDF.
Simon Wiesenthal passed away 9/24. He invented the ‘Holocaust’ card and played it like a violin. His legacy is the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angles. The Center specializes in bashing Poles and politicizing the Holocaust.Hey, some people might think I'm just quote mining (I actually kind of am) but you can read the whole thing yourself. I must stress that this is not actually from Poland, but rather a (presumed) Polish-American. Whoever wrote this (it doesn't say, but the editor is some guy named Albin Wozniak), is kind of an embarrassment. He does, however, provide some useful links and resources for Polish grants and such.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Yesterday was my first day at my internship. Incredibly nervous, I took the metro to Politechnika and followed the stream of college-aged youth towards the campus. A stranger to the layout (I'd never actually really explored this part of Warsaw) I tried to find my way to the correct building in this urban campus.
The campus reminded me of Karlsruhe, where all the buildings were closed clumped together without quads of any sort. Those of us that hail from land grant universities are used to large distances between buildings and epic journeys to get from class to class.
Inside the building, the corridors were cramped and almost claustrophobic. It didn't help that they were hot and jam-packed full of students loudly chatting with each other. It felt almost like high school again.
I found the professor's office, knocked on the door and hoped he would be in. He answered the door and invited me inside. He was rather tall, older than his official picture on the website, and reminded me of my photography teacher from high school (I'm looking at you, Galen.)
We talked for a short bit, and then he called in the fellow under whom I would working, called K. K took me to the huge lab, which housed many different-sized wind tunnels and an under-construction water tunnel. One of the wind tunnels, made entirely out of wood, suffered a small design flaw (its exit opened up at too steep an angle), and K said I might have to redesign it.
After showing me the lab floor he brought me up to where my 'office' would be. I was given an unused desk in a room with another guy (of whose job here I'm not entirely certain.) There was a bunch of paper crap and a derelict computer which they cleared away. K brought me up a pretty new computer with Linux and this other guy asked me about his printer, which apparently suffered from too little memory. K was displeased about the amount of dust on my desk, so he rang in a call to somewhere and shortly two cleaning ladies carrying pails came in to make sure that the desk was dust-free. At first I lacked a mouse, and the first mouse that K gave me was simply a plastic shell (I have since gotten a newer, better mouse.)
I have a phone on my desk, which I never use. It once rang so I picked it up to hear a conversation in progress (think of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.) I was told it's a communal line and that all the phones in the lab are linked as such.
K took me to the mensa to get some lunch. (For those of you who do not know what a mensa is, it's like a dining common (similar to a cafeteria.)) A frumpy-looking woman served up the food (lunch ladies are the same everywhere.) It was surprisingly expensive; fourteen zloty for mashed potatoes, kotlety drobione (mid-way between a meatball and a hamburger), a cranberry compote with a health serving of cranberries at the bottom of the cup, and a small salad (not the freshest.) It was actually a good-sized serving of food, and it wasn't bad. A nearby kebab, however, sells at about 5zl.
Back in the lab, K and I set about trying to figure out how to use this laser they have. The laser is about ten-years old, but they've just recently got it. After about three hours, we finally got it to function (not fully. One of the beams (it's a two-beamed laser) still isn't firing at all and we don't know why. We even cracked the case open to look at the motherfucker; we two guys aimlessly poking around to make sure all the electrical connections are secured didn't fix anything.) It's pretty cool, and they have these glasses that shield you from the laser; when you put them on, the laser point disappears.
Day one down, day two in progress.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I haven't seen tons of Polish movies, but I like to think I've seen the ones that count (and then some.) The classics like Pan Tadeusz, Ziemia Obiecana, Ogniem i Mieczem, and Katyn are must-sees to anyone wanting to learn more about Polish culture.
Pan Tadeusz is often called the national novel (or, more accurately, epic poem) of Poland (although, it takes place in Lithuania.) To be clear, I've never actually read the work or any translation of it, but what I have seen of it reminds me of Dante's masterpiece, The Divine Comedy (probably because of the rhyming.) Anyway, I downloaded and saw the 1999 film with several Poles, and afterwards remarked, "Hmmm, that really wasn't worth the time and effort to download, was it?" This made one of the Poles incredibly angry, blasting me for not caring about Polish history or suffering (this is how passionate Poles are about this poem and how much they resent the partitions of Poland.)
But, c'mon, this movie isn't really that great and the story actually kind of sucks. The production quality, especially the 'battle' scenes, is below that of Gettysburg (a movie I actually like very much) but that's really not the issue. The titular character, Pan Taduesz, is not even the main character and only demands about 25% of the plot line. He's also not really the most admirable or interesting character, and his most notable achievement is being able to nail some older noblewoman (who is actually kind of a conniving bitch) while trying to woo her niece. Pan Tadeusz is actually the most bland character in the whole production and the entire storyline would have suffered little if he was removed entirely (they could have stitched it together.) Mostly the film centers on the squabbling of two minor szlachta families, the Soplicas and the Horeszkos, over some ruin of a castle. What it does do is underline how the bickering of the szlachta allowed Poland to carved up and eventually erased from the map. The biggest kick in the balls is that the film abruptly ends when the movie starts getting interesting (when they start fighting the Russians instead of bitching at each other over family honor.) I've been told that the film doesn't do justice to the poem, and that it's really a great read (something I won't bring into dispute.)
The other films, like Ziemia Obiecana (The Promised Land), which portrays the hopes and ravages of the industrial revolution, are remarkably better. Katyn is the best of the lot, with Ogniem i Mieczem (With Fire and Sword) falling more towards Pan Tadeusz, but not really falling to that depth (it's a good watch.) Katyn is the heart-wrenching, and reminds me of the great, Schindler's List. Most of these films are downers and all the main characters end up "bummed out."
On the other side, I have actually seen Mala Wielka Milosc (Little Great Love.) A Polish-American RomCom, it proves that the Polish can make comedies almost as insipid as the Americans (they have a ways to go to reach the suckitude of Freddy Got Fingered and EuroTrip. For a good romantic comedy, watch High Fidelity.) A predictable storyline about an up-and-coming big shot lawyer who learns about responsibility, humility, and love from a down-to-earth Polish girl by knocking her up. He loses all his possessions, but in reality gains everything meaningful in life. He also has a fat, stupid sidekick bestfriend.
This summer, I hereby pledge to go on a Polish movie binge and see what I can so I can really put my ax to the grindstone. I can't wait to see the promising crapfest of To Nie Tak Jak Myslisz, Kotku (It's not what you think, Dear. (Kotku is actually the diminutive of kot (cat) but in this sense it can be translated as 'dear.')) Also, the even more terrible-looking Idealny Facet Dla Mojej Dziewczyny (The Ideal Guy for My Girl) is something I can't wait to sink my teeth into (some naked chick was on the posters; that pretty much says it all.)
The film, Wojna Polsko-Ruska (The Russo-Polish War), looks to be rather good. I've heard that the book is quite good and one of the best Polish books of the past decade. We shall see.