Equinox in Ecuador

Happy Vernal Equinox, the day of the year when the sun is directly over the equator. Its direct rays are northbound, coming to warm the northern hemisphere for our local summer.

Balancing an egg on the equinox, when the sun is directly overhead, is supposed to demonstrate the temporary lack of the Coriolis effect. That this is true is thoroughly debunked around the internet. In March of 1997, though, while on the equator in Ecuador, I saw it done. Was this man just good at balancing things? Was it a trick egg? You decide. I’m believing my lying eyes. Regardless, a bit of good fun.

MOD Women

While Michelle Flournoy has apparently taken her name out of the running for U.S. Defense Secretary, it’s worth noting that there are currently five female Defense Ministers in NATO: Italy’s Roberta Pinotti, Albania’s Mimi Kodheli, Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, Norway’s Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide and Jeanine Hennis-Plasshaert of the Netherlands. That’s a record.

There are also female Defense Ministers in South Africa, Montenegro, Ecuador, Kenya, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Guinea-Bissau.

Proximity to Power

This is Cecilienhof, once home to a German crown prince before being used as site of the Potsdam Summit in August 1945.  Look, this is THE NEGOTIATING TABLE. These are THE SEATS in which the big three sat, Truman in the high-backed chair, center, Churchill in the similar one, left, and Stalin, right.

PotsdamTable

Stalin’s desk. It’s the very desk he sat behind in this very building. In the original, uninflated sense of the word, that’s pretty awesome.

StalinsTable

•••••

Exception: Proximity to power is not always seductive. When Argentine President Cristina Kirchner came calling on Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa in Quito, her entourage bumped all of us from the club floor in the Sofitel Quito. That busted up our happy hours with, among others, the KLM Cargo pilots who ferried flowers to and from Amsterdam. We had had to take cocktails with the hoi polloi on the ground floor.

Not seductive.

I like to think the collective pox we and the pilots cast on the Argentine President contributed to her troubles today.

Reading Around the Web

Looks like my second book, Visiting Chernobyl, is on track for publication by the end of next week. The day it’s up on Amazon I’ll excerpt it here and send the first chapter to everybody who signs up over on the right (Go ahead, sign up now). While I’m tending to that, here are a few entertaining, well done or arcane things to spend some time with:

A Night under Concrete: Albanian Tourism Project Puts Beds in Bunkers

Tom Christian, Descendant of Bounty Mutineer, Dies at 77

How a high school-educated drug smuggler built a fleet of submarines—in the middle of the jungle

The Enclaves and Counter-enclaves of Baarle

I Went on the World’s Deadliest Road Trip

Bad Blood: The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko

Getting to Shore at Sea

Shadows in Greece

The Russia Left Behind

The death of a language

Why Navalny Is Winning

Liquid History

Rainy Day Reading

We've been a little scarce here at CS&W as we try to finish up some longer-form writing and get set for a trip to Rapa Nui that's about a month away. More on that as we get closer.

For now, here are ideas of interest from all over, if you're so inclined:

– Not long ago, my pal Rick Lewis moved to Cotacachi, Ecuador. He blogs about it at brokedownpalette.


– Alfred Molon, a Dane, has some 23,000 photos here, from much of the world.


– Albanian Tourism Project Puts Beds in Bunkers, from Der Spiegel.


– Kebabistan, a Eurasianet food blog, is worth a look.


– Update on the state of things in Ukraine, from Salon.


– The Enclaves and Counter-enclaves of Baarle, on the Dutch/Belgian border, from Big Think's Strange Maps.


– And you might have seen that the British have invaded nine out of ten countries, from an upcoming book.