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Living in interesting times [Mar. 4th, 2014|03:04 pm]
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[Current Location |Tbilisi]
[mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

Gorgeous long weekend lazing around in the mountains (actually only a bit of lazing, I also climbed the occasional hill). I also wrote about my enduring love for the bath houses of Tbilisi on my Proper Blog, and spent a lot of time catching up on my enormous pile of bookmarked links.

Talking of Georgia, this is a lovely article about eating and drinking there (a Georgian feast is one of the best eating experiences you can have). Another from a  few years ago highlights the huge number of varieties of fruit in the region, far more than people in the west are familiar with (I can vouch for the figs, which are amazing). Agronomists from the US are searching for new cultivars in the Caucasus which could eventually be grown in the US under changing climatic conditions.

Which smoothly segues into new research showing the link between the collapse of the Indus civilisation and the drying of the climate in the Middle East towards the end of the Bronze Age. I love paleoclimatology, it's just a shame that actually doing it involves spending so much time looking at bloody foraminifera.

This is a remarkable story about a highschool dropout from rural India who spent years developing an affordable machine to make sanitary towels for rural women. His single-mindedness-to-the-point-of-obsession meant that he lost his family and almost all his money on the way, but the final product has been very successful (and his wife came back, so yay, happy ending!).

I have also spent a lot of time side-eyeing the situation in Ukraine. I read an article last week from a liberal Russian journalist, written before the Russian troops moved into the Crimea, and this paragraph, on how he felt when the Russians moved into South Ossetia in 2008, really struck me.

In my picture of the world, nothing of the sort [Russia sending troops into Crimea] can happen, but I remember my picture of the world in August 2008 – back then, in my picture, Russia couldn’t have sent troops into Georgia, but it up and sent them. On the morning of August 8, 2008, I flew to Moscow from Chelyabinsk, and watched the events in South Ossetia from an overflowing waiting room in a little southern Urals airport. There were a lot of people there, but I was the only one surprised by Russians tanks in the Roki Tunnel; the rest of the passengers perceived this as a given. Because I built my picture of the world by reading independent political analysts, independent media and social networks, and the rest of the passengers didn’t read any of that, but read Komsomolskaya Pravda and watched state TV channels. And that morning it turned out that their picture of the world was closer to reality than mine. On the whole, that morning produced a very strong impression on me.

It chimes with this article on how the west (and the US in particular) and Russia operate almost on entirely different planes of reality when it comes to their understanding of their relationship. I am watching Putin's press conference,and I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next.
Crossposted to Dreamwidth.

[User Picture]From: gfrancie
2014-03-04 02:10 pm (UTC)
I never quite understand the logic of the Russians. Ukraine is its own country. Would Russia invade London because there happen to be a lot of Russians there too?
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