Wednesday, October 28, 2009


(Note: The title is a bad pun.)
Most everyone must have heard about the recent developments with the US plans for a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. (They were pretty much cancelled, if you hadn't heard.) Anyway, the missile shield is being scaled back from a land-based one to a sea-based one. One can debate the practicalities of such a move and most of the response has been favorable, except from the respective governments. The Joe "Loose-Lips" Biden went on a whirlwind tour to calm down their fears, and apparently Poland is still going to get that battalion of Patriot missiles it always wanted.
Poland and the Czech Republic favored the initial plans (though their populations were hardly united on the issue) firstly because they were going to get a buttload of money (always something good.) BUT, it also did something else: station US troops on Polish soil in US installments. Russia was a bit peeved and threatened to place the Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad (already the most militarized place in Europe.) The US troops with US installments gave assurances for a few things. When Russia invaded Georgia over a year ago, most of Eastern Europe (Baltic States and Ukraine first and foremost) started to fear that Russia was going to come after them next. Some felt that the US response was lacking (i.e. no combat troops were sent.) US troops in Poland gave the Polish a warm feeling because it meant that if Russia attacked, US property and personnel would be in harm's way, forcing an armed intervention by the US and the rest of NATO (already, NATO (Poland included) flies patrols over the Baltic States, and has for some years.) You may ask, "Well, Poland is a major US ally, of course the US would defend Poland regardless if there were US troops in Poland or not." But remember, the Polish have been left high and dry too many times to really believe in a doctrine of defense. They'd rather have the troops. And they will.

Also, snow in October? Strange.

On a chance amount of luck, while rummaging through some old boxes a few years back, I found an unopened bottle of Russian cognac. When I first had it, it burned quite a lot and wasn't too pleasant. Recently, I've been adding just a smidgen to my sugar cookie eggnog, and it's been quite delightful. It smoothes out the over-sweet nog and enhances the body. I recommend it to all.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Traditional Polish Salad

The name of the post is actually a misnomer (but not by much. It's actually called Salatka Jarzynowa.) An extremely popular Polish salad is one that resembles a potato salad sans potatoes. It's eaten on holidays, at parties, and makes up a 'standard' dish of Polish cuisine. Canned tuna is a relatively new thing, and this recipe utilizes it well. Honestly, at first it seems a little white-trash, but it's pretty good.

The ingredients usually include:
1 can of tuna
1 can of corn
1 red pepper (diced)
1 pickle (diced)
Some minced chives
Plenty of mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together in a bowl and serve.

There are many variations of this recipe. Some used chicken instead of tuna, others have peas or minced onion; even apple! (It's all good.) Diced, hard boiled eggs are often added as well. Add something that you think will work, and eat away.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


One major observation I've had, and continually point out, is the national/ethnic pride to the point of absurdness. (Note: This is by no means a Polish trait; far from it, in fact. I'd say that 90% of world is this way.) There are various examples (with Poland) about which I've written, made comments, and had conversations (in forums, other blogs, to students, friends and acquaintances.) A small selection includes things like: cities such as Szczecin and Gdansk being German; it being pointless to be angry at Germany after all this time; the role of the Szlachta in the dismemberment of Poland-Lithuania; roles of Polish peasantry and Polish freedom; Polish beer; Pan Taduesz isn't that great. I've had many a rousing debate about Polish history, but mostly it devolves into something where 'he/she/they' simply start making comments on how I'm an American and therefor: blindly patriotic, stupid, young, and don't have a clear perspective; and I belittle them for acting like children (which they usually are.) Spats like these are nothing really new, people are inclined to 'defend' their homeland/history/pride by others deemed not to know anything of the like. Anyway, whilst reading Norman Davies' The Isles, I came upon an interesting example of something similar:
"…prehistory and archeology have inevitably developed in an intensely political context. Nationalism has never been far beneath the surface. Immense efforts have been made to discover a past to which modern people could relate, and, where necessary, to exclude those elements of the past that were politically inconvenient. Prussian archeologists would prove beyond question that the prehistoric monuments of Prussia's eastern borderlands were indisputably Germanic. A few decades later Polish archeologists working with identical material established that the selfsame monuments were indisputably, and ab origine, Slavonic. Neither side paused to ask whether those monuments were not, at least part, Celtic." –Norman Davies, The Isles: A History, p. 40, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
The quote deals more with politics (as in, being able to hold claim to the land and being able to claim to be native to the land (see more about the Israel-Palestine conflict for a prime example)) but it helps illustrate how some people can just be ridiculous and choose to ignore important viewpoints or facts. Sometimes outside eyes are needed to see clearly.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Been Real Quiet 'Round Here

In truth, I've not yet logged in or written a post in almost two months. Well, I've got a full plate right now, and I just can't seem to find the time or the will within me to hammer out a few rants about this and that. Have no fear; I will return.
Soon, I'll be writing a research paper on the Jewish-Polish relations, and it'll probably be posted on here.
I'll be back with less scholarly pursuits as well. Be prepared for recipes and bits of wisdom and crassness. Do not despair.