Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veselka in NYC a popular night time hangout

It's a long time since I've written in this blog but I just had to share this. It seems everyone has discovered Veselka, the Ukrainian restaurant that's been the centre of Ukrainian life in the East Village of Manhattan for my lifetime. What a great thing to have gone to NYU and had both Veselka and Orchidea close by. The Ukrainian Church across from McSorley's on St. Mark's Place was en route. The Ukrainian butcher shop was down the street. And the Ukrainian Museum was next door. The food there was extraordinary in my youth. I would alternate between pyrohy, varenyky and plyatsky, always Uki style with plenty of sour cream, although they catered to all Eastern European tastes.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Timothy Snyder on the destabilization of Europe and fall of democracy

Image result for on TyrannyImage result for BloodlandsOn March 3, Timothy Snyder, historian and author of books on Stalinist Russia and tyranny, has delivered a disturbing but very insightful lecture about Russia's role in destabilization of Europe. His conclusions are important for anyone analyzing what is happening across Europe today and how we got here.

In his remarks delivered during a  conference entitled “Ukraine, Russia and the EU: Europe, a Year After Crimea Annexation” held in Berlin on March 2, 2015, Snyder examines the tactics used in Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine -- annexing Crimea and starting a war along Russia’s border -- against the backdrop of European history.  He specifically examines the history and memory of World War II. He also looks at how Russia is trying to alter the memory of the aspects of the history that are most disturbing.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Eurovision coming to Ukraine in May 2017

Jamala at Eurovision 2016

As the deadline for entry looming on March 13, the world is wondering if Russia will show this year. With Eurovision set to be staged in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, in May, the political statement from last year's defeat might be an insurmountable hurdle for moscow, where lawmakers and a leading pop star are calling for Russia to boycott the competition. The Kremlin has said it believes there could be security problems for Russians in Ukraine. Following Ukraine's victory at the 2016 contest in Stockholm with the song "1944", written and performed by Jamala, which was thought to be a thinly veiled protest against Russia's annexation of Crimea, a coup of sorts showing European support of Ukraine in the conflict has caused Russia some consternation.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Happy Birthday, Taras Shevchenko

On the 9th of March in 1814, Taras Shevchenko was born in Moryntsi but his family moved back to the ancestral village of Kyrylivka (now village of Shevchenkove, Zvenigorodsky region, Ukraine). His ancestors were Cossacks involved in the uprisings of the 17th and 18th centuries. He was an accomplished artist and an even greater writer. His Kobzar collection of poetry is the most famous book in Ukrainian. My tattered childhood copy remains with me in my library in Ireland today. In honour of Taras, I will read a poem today. RIP.

Taras and pals. Taras in the hat. 1859.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Hallelujah in Ukrainian

Beautiful. Great to hear Алелуя not Hallelujah! Lovely iconostas and vyshyvka in the background.  Leonard Cohen's masterpiece sounds lovely in Ukrainian. Nice choir arrangement, too.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bitter Harvest: New Movie About Holodomor

Holodomor is the genocide committed by Stalin in the 1930s in which 10,000,000 Ukrainians were starved to death. Stalin forced collectivization of their lands,shipped the food to Russia, then took away their identification papers; not only were they starving, they couldn't leave. I'll have to see the film, but the reviews are pretty awful.

Article in the Huffington Post

Review in the Irish Times

A review from the UK

Winter on Fire

In the run up to this year's Academy Awards, if you have not seen Winter on Fire yet, it is worth viewing on Netflix. Evgeny Afineevsky's documentary is about the unrest in Ukraine in 2013-2014 during which time they ousted the Russian-backed President Yanukovich. What became known as the Euromaidan, with student demonstrations supporting European integration, grew into a violent revolution calling for the resignation of President Viktor F. Yanukovich. It was nominated for an Oscar last year. The BBC reviewed it favorably.

Academy Awards, USA 2016

Best Documentary, Feature
Evgeny Afineevsky
Den Tolmor 

Toronto International Film Festival 2015

People's Choice Award
Evgeny Afineevsky 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tryzub - yet another link with Ireland

Wikimedia Commons

In researching the connection between Ireland and Ukraine, I found yet another link. Not only does Ireland share the heritage of Celts and Norwegians intermixing, so does Ukraine. Even the national symbol of Ukraine, the Tryzub or Trident, may have its roots in Scandinavian falconry, shared with that of a Viking King of Dublin. 

From Wikipedia:
"Most historians agree that the medieval symbol was not intended as depicting a trident, but most likely a stylized falcon. Depictions of a flying falcon with a cross above its head have been found in Old Ladoga, the first seat of the Kievan Rurik dynasty[2] of Scandinavian lineage.[3] Such a falcon, along with a cross are also featured on the coins of Olaf Guthfrithsson, a Viking king of Dublin and Northumbria.[2] Falconry for centuries has been a royal sport in Europe. The gyrfalcon (known also as Norwegian falcon) was considered a royal bird and is mentioned (ukr.: кречет) in one of the earliest epics of Ruthenia, the 12th century poem The Tale of Ihor's Campaign."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Trump associates form a plan on Ukraine

What makes someone think they can just plan to resolve another country's problems?  The NY Times reports that a back channel plan forged by Trump associates with ties to Russia have been delivered to Trump. The deal is that Russia will leave Eastern Ukraine, the people will vote on whether to give Russia a 50 year or 100 year lease on Crimea, and sanctions against Russia would be lifted. This by Artemenko, a Ukrainian opposition leader who sees himself as the next President of Ukraine, a Russian American who worked deals for Trump in Russia, and an attorney with ties to Russia. This is choice.

The Ukrainian Ambassador has attacked the secret peace plan, rightly so. These people are dangerous. That they think they can negotiate a deal on Ukraine's behalf is ludicrous. I wish the FBI would hurry up with their investigations into the Trump Russia connections and expose him before he brokers a deal that will devastate eastern Europe.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Irish came from Ukraine

I have always felt that there was an alignment of the Irish and Ukrainian cultures. My mother noticed that both liked potatoes, singing, and spirits. But since living here, I have noticed many parallels that made me wonder about the anthropological connections. Perhaps I noticed these connections because I studied anthropology as a minor in University. Perhaps, as a scientist, I am just observant and happen to have a unique combination of perspectives to draw on. As a Ukrainian American Irishwoman, I was uniquely positioned to notice the anciently-rooted similarities rather than the modern day differences.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

While Trump stomps on US, Putin attacks Ukraine

The war in Donbas has been stepped up. The Russians began shelling on Sunday and haven't stopped. This is a test. A test to see how far they can push Trump. If he does nothing, as he is apt to do, then they will know they have the freedom to push hard into Ukraine.

Theresa May has stood fast with Nato in supporting the cease fire and sanctions. Trump has not. Let's see what happens next in this deadly game of chess.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

America in decline: the cycle of growth and survival of a culture

By Daria Blackwell

written May 2016

Much has been written about corporate life cycles and survival of the mature corporation.  In my view, a country goes through the various life cycle stages much like a corporation does, from start-up to maturity and decline. My contention is that America is in its late stages of decline.

An article in Harvard Business Review suggests that there are four stages in corporate development:

Stage 1: Youth and Enthusiasm
Stage 2: Adolescence and Ambition
Stage 3: Maturity and Best Practice
Stage 4: Change and Struggle for Survival

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump's America

Yesterday was the most bizarre day of the post apocalyptic era yet.
The entire senior state department staff resigned, Trump put a gag order on all govt. social media communications, spawning a plethora of altgov sites like altEPA, altNPS, altNasa, altNWS etc on Twitter. There have been no tweets on any of the official govt sites -- yesterday the National Weather Service was tracking a massive storm in the Gulf of Maine with 27 foot waves -- today nothing. The country's scientists are uniting and organizing a march on Wash DC -- hundreds of thousands already signed up. A petition on the White House website demanding release of Trump's financial data to satisfy emoluments constitutional requirement has more than 300,000 signature. The President has an insecure private android phone but no one is investigating his emails, his daughter and 2 senior staffers are registered to vote in more than one state, and he's going to investigate voter fraud by US citizens but not by Russia. Orwell's 1984 -- the originator of "alternative truths" as a tactic -- is an instant bestseller again. A White House staffer started tweeting the truth about a madman in office and was shot down. 
But the resistance is underway.