Doom

Have a look at all the accomplished authors and big publishing houses that have books published or ready to drop about the Great War:

Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max Hastings
The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret Macmillan
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark
July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin
A Mad Catastrophe by Geoffrey Wawro
The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War by Tim Butcher

and one I really liked, a snapshot of the world before upheaval, 1913, by Charles Emmerson.

This provides the talent pool for a storm of book tour media interviews as the July anniversary of Sarajevo 1914 approaches. Now, just combine with today’s Eastern Europe, Perfidious Putin and Appeasing Allies.

The parallels with the Great War are close enough, and the chronology is so exactly just right, 100 years plus or minus a month or so. Get comfy and enjoy all the warnings of doom coming your way through the summer.

Why, looky here, here’s one from just last week.

Writers got to make a living, too.

More Funny, Strange or Indecipherable Signs from All Over

signs1You can say that again. At a flea market in Moscow, Russia.

signs2Perhaps this makes sense to the egoist himself. Over a doorway in Sydney, Australia.

signs3All the important places. Restaurant in Helsinki, Finland.

signs4He’s got ’em all. On the road outside Lilongwe, Malawi.

signs5Instructions on how to summon the Erakor Island ferry. Just kilem the gong. Near Port Vila, Vanuatu.

signs6It figures Fairyland would be a long way from wherever you are. Turns out it’s on St. Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean.

signs7I have no idea. Storefront in Yerevan, Armenia.

signs8Open curtains as navigational hazard. Sign in the owner’s cabin on the MV Ilala, Lake Malawi.

signs9Enough said. Sign in restaurant, Gangtok, Sikkim, India.

There’s lots more in the Signs Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

Ten Funny, Sad, Strange Signs from All Over

Click ’em to make ’em bigger.

sign1The venerable Miss Puke was still massaging away last time we checked, in December.

 

sign2We wouldn’t think of charging you for taking your stuff. Sign in Hanoi, Vietnam.

 

sign3Don’t know what it says, but with an exclamation mark, it looks like they mean it. This is from Illiminaq, Greenland.

 

sign4Ad man working the account in Rangoon, Burma.

 

sign5Some things translate better than others, apparently. From Hainan Island, China.

 

sign6It takes all kinds. Sign in a village on the road from Kampala to the Queen Elizabeth Park, Uganda.

 

sign10Graffiti and bullet holes in Sarajevo, June, 2003.

 

sign7Click it to make it bigger and check out the first item. Vegetarian aborigines! Menu in Miraflores, Lima, Peru.

 

sign8Facade of the National Drama Theatre, Vilnius, Lithuania.

 

sign9Back of the driver’s seat in a cab in Hong Kong.

 

There’s lots more in the Signs Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

Where to Go, Why, and What to Read.

Travel ferociously. Get out there. Engage people. Witness events. Explore the world. Bust a move. See all you can see. But when you’re at home and calm, sanguine and reflective, back in the part of the house where people don’t come unless you invite them, in that one little spot where only you rule, that’s where you can see most clearly.

Back there in that room, I saw our trip to Sarajevo as a conceit. We decided we’d go and see the aftermath of war and then we would think about it. And we saw the burned out houses on the airport road. We saw children at play beneath a hand-painted sign warning of “snijper” fire over there, in that direction.

We stood on a hill above town with an old woman and her little granddaughter and a vast field of Muslim graves behind them. We took pictures of SFOR soldiers (NATO’s ‘Stabilization Force’) taking pictures. And in the end, we didn’t really understand it any better. Or at least, we didn’t Glean Wisdom.

I read and read, before and after Sarajevo, and we went to see it, and we had a view of the bombed out parliament building from the Holiday Inn hotel, where we paid in advance, in cash, in Deutschmarks, right up front, for our entire stay.

Sarajevo

The parliament building from the Holiday Inn, Sarajevo.

The elevator opened to carpet ripped by gunfire.

The main reconstruction work in Sarajevo was in busting down curbs and rebuilding them with wheelchair ramps.

We walked up and down the open air Markale market where a random, direct shelling killed 68, wounded two hundred on a rainy Saturday in February, 1994 – the bloodiest attack in the then twenty-two month long conflict. We saw bricks and mortar blasted from the side of the hotel next door. People bustled about the market that day, selling flowers, buying fruit, and we took it all in, but still we didn’t Glean Wisdom.

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Plus Ça Change: Tibet

March is the most angst ridden month for Chinese fonctionnaires in Tibet. Elections for a new prime minister-in-exile are scheduled for tomorrow, and travel agencies "say they have been ordered not to allow foreign tourists into Tibet in March."

Escape Spend a few worthwhile minutes with the New York Review of Books blog, where Pico Iyer takes stock of the state of Tibetan politics and the 75 year old Dalai Lama. Nine days ago the Dalai Lama announced his "retirement" from politics, which Iyer says "was one way of underlining to Beijing that the Tibetan problem will not go away when he dies…."

Stephan Tanty has written an entertaining new book, Escape from the Land of the Snows. It's a quick read; You can do it in a weekend. It's written in a dramatized, you were there style, purporting to know the thoughts of the players, but it paints a vivid, immediate portrait of Lhasa, 1959, as the young Dalai Lama prepared for and then carried out his escape.

Escape from the Land of the Snows describes a positively medieval world that just simply doesn't exist today. It's hard to grasp the depth of change Tibet and its leader have seen across a single lifetime.

Tashilunpo
The Tashilunpo Monastery in Xigatse, Tibet from the China Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.