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!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter in Sirnea

A wet Easter Sunday here in Sirnea. My old neighbour, Lucita, brought me yesterday some small meat offerings and a couple of painted eggs; and at 08.00 this morning I received a call from Viciu down the hill which started with the greeting Hristos a înviat! (Christ is risen!) to which I was able to give the appropriate response Adevărat a înviat!(He has indeed – or does it mean His Resurrection is the truth??
The call carried an invitation to come for an Easter brunch (and small Tuica) at 09.00.
He had been up all night – at the church with the rest of the village from 01.00.-04.00! And hadn’t slept since. I felt duly ashamed.
I had noticed how few visitors there seem to be in the village this year – only one car in the hotel car-park and no sound from the guesthouse down on the mainroad from which there are normally sounds of gaiety on such holiday weekends. Viciu reports a television comment that people had been going to Bulgaria instead – cheaper and nicer!
According to tradition, there shall be no partying, no weddings, no having fun and not a great deal of anything in fact during Lent, unflinchingly observed by many in Romania, right up until midnight on April 14th. Only when the priest emerges from his church with a candle (around 00:10) to declare that ‘Hristos a înviat’ can the faithful who have abstained from smiling, sex or chocolate for the past 40 days once again indulge their desires. And then only after the biggest meal of the year. That meal will invariably be lamb (miel). Indeed, Easter is the one time of the year Romanians eat lamb, and it can easily be found in shops. Every part of the lamb is used: the head goes in the soup, the organs are used to make ‘drob’ (a kind of paté), and the legs are slowly roasted in red wine and served with roast potatoes and spinach.
You should also be prepared to eat more than a few hard boiled eggs. Before the main meal (which, we have yet to mention, gets eaten after the return from midnight mass, at around 1am) eggs are cracked.
Dyed in bright colours (often, but not always red) on Good Friday, hard boiled eggs are cracked between family members with the words ‘Hristos a înviat’ and response ‘Adevărat a înviat’. The eggs should then be eaten.

I’m not into development issues so much at the moment – but this is a good discussion of an issue which has been vexing that community recently - Results-focussed reporting. The piece is written by one of the community’s most thoughtful writers - Owen Barder – who also does a good podcast series on development issues called Development Drums. The latest interview is with Tim Harford who is a journalist at the Financial Times and the author of The Undercover Economist and, most recently, of Adapt: Why Success Always Begins with Failure. In this interview, he talks about the implications for development of his idea that successful complex systems emerge from a process of trial and error and suggests three principles -
you need to try a lot of different things; they need to be small enough that failures will not ruin you; and you need to be able to distinguish success from failure, which some systems are very ill-equipped to do.

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