what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

tribes, traditions and transitions


A time for superficial dipping – with another Amazon packet thudding onto the table. At the moment I’m locked into Jonathan Watt’s grim journey around China’s environmental disasters
and spellbound by William Blacker’s Along the Enchanted Way
This last is a memoir of ten years spent in Transylvania and the Maramures as an age-old way of life gradually crumbles in the face of modernity. Jason Goodwin (who writes so well about the ottoman way of life) has given it a very positive review on the Amazon site.
It's a gripping and affecting account of the experience of living in this remote and beautiful region of Europe, telling a story that's almost impossibly romantic. He chronicles a near-mediaeval way of life, with its horses and witches, its casual kindness and grace, its wholeness and jealousies -interwoven with his own story - the years he spent living the peasant life, the rumbunctious affair with his Gypsy girlfriend, the brutality of the police, the cruelty and the wisdom of country life.
I particularly enjoyed his description of his attempts to learn the scything technique which so well matches my own.
With guests here, I slept last night under the eaves in the attic last night for the first time since it was refurbished all of a year ago. It’s about time we gave it some decorative treatment!

The morning dawned cloudy for the first time for amore than a week – and an article on Kyrgzystan got me to browsing through recent stuff on this country which I knew so well in 2005-2007.
One of the articles was by my friend David Coombes
The admirable Crisis Group has just issued its detailed assessment of the horrific events of April in that country
And I noticed that the guy who was central asian Director of Crisis Group – David Lewis - has an interesting analysis of the area - Temptations of Tyranny in Central Asia

Another interesting recent discovery was the debates which the Economist journal now runs online – the most recent of which was on the Chinese development model.

New York Review of Books blogs are always interesting – and, with all the recent publicity about Wikileaks, this one on secrecy in China is worth a look
Finally – and remembering what I said recently about satire - PJ O’Rourke has a great piece on the way our understanding of far-off countries is filtered by journalists

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