Chechnya Isn’t Czechoslovakia

 

Czechoslovakia Isn’t Chechnya

March 16, 2017

Allan Stevo

I didn’t post a story to 52 Weeks in Slovakia yesterday, I didn’t send an email out, I posted nothing to Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network yet traffic was massively up and newsletter signups surged. That happens sometimes when an article from 52 Weeks in Slovakia gets noticed and posted in a prominent location, sent out to a big list, or picked up by the traditional media.

This traffic surge was a little different, however. All day I was wondering what the heck the deal was and at about 11 pm I figured it out. On Facebook, I found this – a link to a list if tweets that in some way confused Czechoslovakia and Chechnya.

Traffic was spiking so heavily because people were confusing the ethnically Chechen Boston bombing suspects with the no longer existent country of Czechoslovakia.

To help clear up any confusion, below is a little bit about Chechnya, Czechoslovakia, and the Czech Republic.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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The Hinlicky Rule And The New York Times – Ringing In The New Year

The Hinlicky Rule and the New York Times

March 15, 2017

Allan Stevo

American politics for whatever reason in the era of George W. Bush and Barrack Obama has become especially polarized. In that heated political environment that surrounds American politics it frustrates me to see usually thoughtful people descend into little more than partisan bickering.  What Bush used to do with reckless abandon is now denounced as patently un-American when done by Obama.  What Obama supporters used to scream loudly about when done by Bush is now either ignored or sometimes even praised when done by Obama.  Politics brings out the worst in people as they put the logic of what they are saying aside and put the relationship they have with a politician into a primary position.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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“Slovakia Is A Small Country” – Not Much Truth Behind The Complaints That Slovakia Is “Too Small” And “Too Poor”

Little Slovakia

March 14, 2017

Allan Stevo

It’s a bit of a misnomer that Slovakia is a small country.  Sure, it doesn’t have the land mass of Russia, the population of China, or the natural resources of Canada, but Slovaks like to underestimate themselves and use wealth, population, and geographic area as an excuse.

In my opinion the wisest words spoken by American President George W. Bush were when he coined the phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” (here, here, and in many other speeches)  Merely holding low expectations for someone indicates that you have a bigoted opinion of that person.  Having low expectations implies that a person is something less.

Slovaks tend to place low expectations on themselves.  Some like to call Slovakia poor, lamenting that if only it were bigger it would be a better, more successful place. This is despite the fact that approximately 160+ countries in the world are poorer than Slovakia. Additionally, the Bratislava area has one of the 10 highest incomes (in terms of purchasing power) of any other area in Europe, including rural areas of much richer and more well-established countries.  Bratislava is one of the wealthiest cities in Europe according to GDP per capita measured in terms of purchasing power for locally produced goods. By this measureBratislava and Prague are richer than ANY PART of Austria, Greece, Finland, Austria, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, or Italy.

Click here to keep reading “Slovakia Is A Small Country” – Not Much Truth Behind The Complaints That Slovakia Is “Too Small” And “Too Poor”

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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The First Slovak State In 1,287 Words

The First Slovak State in 1,287 Words

March 13, 2017

Allan Stevo

Those who brought about the First Slovak Republic were traitors to Czechoslovakia. They helped give Czechoslovakia, without a fight, to the Nazis. They helped make it seem internationally like Czechoslovakia had dissolved from internal conflict. They are arguably not traitors to the Slovak nation, because their actions largely kept Slovakia out of the war and therefore, somewhat prosperous, according to common accounts of those times.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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Why Nationalists March Through Bratislava Today

Why Neo-Nazis March Through Bratislava Today

March 13, 2017

Allan Stevo

Radical elements of society are likely to congregate in Bratislava this week once or several times to celebrate the anniversary of the formation of the First Slovak State (March 14, 1939  – May 8, 1945).  For nationalist and neo-fascist reasons and perhaps also anti-Semitic reasons, they remember this holiday with pride and show that pride publicly.  There are numerous groups with these feelings, as well as lone wolves.

The group Slovenská Pospolitosť is perhaps the most well-known of them in Slovakia. As Slovakia was, in many ways, a Nazi puppet state during WWII, it makes sense that extreme elements of society would be most interested in remembering this piece of Slovak history, but it’s not fair that they have been allowed to so effectively monopolize the day.  It’s a part of Slovak history for all Slovaks, heck, for all people of Central Europe.

Slovakia is a Fast-Moving Place

While many outsiders may look to Slovakia and think that it is backwards and stagnant, from my eight years here I can entirely say that Slovakia is a fast moving place.  Faster than the U.S., faster than any developed economy around the world.  That is the nature of a developing economy, and even more so when a country has yet to write its own independent history.  Change happens here very quickly, and several different factors are causing age, experience, seniority, and academic diplomas to become less important factors for achieving individual success.  It could very well be a beginning-of-career-30-year-old and not a mid-career-55-year-old central to tomorrow’s mornings most widely felt change.  The rules have yet to be written here.  In a situation like that, it’s easy to feel left behind.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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The Right Kind Of People

The Right Kind of People

March 12, 2017

Allan Stevo

Yesterday, this meditation – “The Right Kind of People” – was read to me for the first time.  This morning I woke up to a comment left on this site by someone with a Slovak screen-name who feels it is duty to let the world know just what an ugly place his homeland is.  It takes a special kind of comment to make you loathe the person who wrote it, and I come across them from time to time.  Ultimately, I get over the sense of loathing and it develops into more a sense of pity since people get out of life what they put into it.  I pity people who are unable to wake up in the magnificent world I wake up in every morning. Our feet hit the same Earth in the morning, yet we perceive very different worlds around us.

Such comments seethe with negativity and I sometimes delete them (why, after all, would I want anyone else to have to deal with gratuitous negativity in a day where they will likely experience enough gratuitous negativity – I simply owe more than gratuitous negativity to the readers of this site) and sometimes I let them through (“freedom of speech” is a phrase that I sometimes give a little too much thoughtless credence to).  Those are the two opinions that I tend to discuss in my head as I read through the latest comments deciding what to approve and what not to approve.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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The Origins Of The Word “Ogre” – Where Hungarians The Original Ogres?

Ogre

March 11, 2017

Allan Stevo

Webster suggests that Ogre (which it defines as “1. a hideous giant of fairy tales and folklore that feeds on human beings:MONSTER. 2. a dreaded person or object.”) may have originated in French from the Latin “Orcus – God of the Underworld.  I use this older hardcover copy of Webster’s dictionary, which happens to sell for 5 cents used.

Wasson and Wasson in their fascinating book on mushrooms  – Mushrooms, Russia, and Historyseek to advance a different theory – that ogre comes from one of the tribes that invaded the Slavs during harvest time, driving them into the forest to live.  Namely, the tribe that is today refered to as the Hungarians.  I let Wasson and Wasson tell their story of the Slavs being pushed into the forest by the pillaging ogres.

If you’d like to read the rest of their book, you can get it at the links at the end of this article for free.  You won’t believe how much it costs on Amazon,  so I won’t even suggest you buy it.  But if you do buy it, buy it through that link because Amazon will send me a check for $160 when you do that.  Fascinating book that I couldn’t stop reading (especially the parts written by Valentina Wasson).

Click here to keep reading The Origins Of The Word “Ogre” – Where Hungarians The Original Ogres?

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: paintinghere.com

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Donuts, Tacos, Kolaches

Texas

March 10, 2017

Allan Stevo

On a trip through Texas, I noticed a few signs that pointed to an immigration trend. I grew up in urban Chicago where a great deal of Mexican immigrants lived and everyone knew what a taco was. Naturally, everyone also knew what a donut was.

Kolacky, or kolache, was a word that some people knew. It was a word that in a way was a password. If you knew and used that word, you had some arm length relationship to Czechs and Slovaks in the community in Chicago. You might also have identified as Czech or Slovak, though “from Czechoslovakia” or “Bohemian” were more common terms to use. Poles and other Slavs also seemed familiar with the word. I knew not to use the word kolacky around everyone, because I knew that not everyone understood it. It was hardly as universal a word in Chicago as pirogi.

As I drove through Texas, working on a US Congressional campaign, I looked up through the windshield to see a great sign that read “Donuts, Tacos, Kolache.” Then down the street there was another and later another.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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