Wednesday, 27 April 2022

pronkssรตdur

After talks of relocation triggered controversy and violent rioting referred to as Bronze Night (Pronksiรถรถ), municipal authorities in Tallinn dismantled and moved a Soviet-era war memorial called the Bronze Soldier built at the site of war graves on this day in 2007. Originally dedicated to the “Liberators of Estonia” it was renamed as the “Monument to the Fallen,” and while seen as a symbol of Soviet occupation and suppression after World War II by many, Russian populations, intensely protesting the decision and crippling the country with cyber-attacks, viewed the statue, prominently in the city centre, as not only representative of victory over the Nazis in the Great Patriotic War but also legimitising their claim to Estonia—set to re-establish their independence after Germany’s retreat. The statue and remains of the dead were placed, re-interred in the national military cemetery outside of Tallinn. One direct outcome of the riots and targeting of Estonian essential infrastructure was the creation of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, located in the capital.

Sunday, 24 April 2022

unpo

Founded and headquartered in the The Hague in 1991, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation was constituted to champion the marginalised with membership made of indigenous peoples, minorities and unrecognised or otherwise occupied territories with an aim of achieving political autonomy and self-determination with the rejection of violence and terrorism as tools of policy. Current localities and groups on its rolls (not without controversy and in-group dispute) are Abkhazia, Bretagne, Catalonia, the District of Colombia, Guam, the Hmong, Savoy, Sindhudesh and Tibet. Former members Palau, East Timor, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia and Armenia have attained full statehood and independence.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

vilnius group

Constituted in May 2000, member countries Slovenia, Slovakia (having already undergone its Velvet Divorce in 1993, the date falls on the anniversary of the 1990 compromise that ended the so called Hyphen War, Pomlฤkovรก vojna, started in 1989 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union on what to call themselves and how to share a territory with two identities) Romania, North Macedonia, Lithuania (it’s capital the namesake), Latvia, Estonia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Albania to lobby as a group for NATO inclusion, all aspirants acceded to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on this day in 2004 with the exception of Albania, Croatia and North Macedonia (under the Adriatic Charter) joining in 2009 and 2020. The former association closely maps with the composition of the Visegrรกd Group, another former pooled campaign for European Union membership and presently a regional economic cooperative.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

freden i stolbova

Concluding the Ingrian War that began nearly seven years earlier on this day in 1617, the Treaty of Stolbovo was negotiated and agreed upon between Czar Michael I of the Russian Empire and the Swedish military leader Jakob De La Gardie. Establishing the Empire of Sweden’s influence in the Baltic, the leaders met on the shores of Lake Ladoga outside Saint Petersburg, King Gustavus Adolphus—still chuffed with their victory in Novgorod and in the push for unity under the Peace of Kalmar—eventually relented during the two months of talks for their demands to make all Russian trade with Western Europe pass through Swedish-controlled territory, demands reaching far north as the port of Arkhangelsk in part due to the intervention of a team of Dutch and English mediators who didn’t want to see a Swedish monopoly on commerce and to install as Swedish duke as czar, but final terms did include Russian terroritorial concessions in Ingria and Karelia plus indemnities, and in exchange for renouncing claims to Estonia and Livonia, effective locked out of the Baltic Sea, Sweden returned Novgorod to Russia. Michael of the House Romanov was recognised by all parties as the rightful ruler and tariffs were normalised so as not to further cripple the Empire’s economy.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

8x8

letraset press: a collection of instant lettering dry-transfer sheets (see previously) from Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals 

the woman who stared at the sun: the circumstance and contributions to astronomy of Hisako Koyama who helped hone our understanding of solar cycles 

a good walk spoiled: an in-depth look at how golf course exacerbate the housing shortage  

couch gag: a clever individual shares their construction of a miniature replica of the Simpsons’ purple television set that plays random episodes 

one week supply: a podcast discussing Damn Interesting’s curated links section 

the china syndrome: a super-tunnel simulator that illustrates the quickest, shortest routes to connecting points around the globe—see also  

tartu snail tower: the spiralling skyscraper in Estonia’s second city  

the art of letters: a typographical study from Mark Gowing

Saturday, 21 August 2021

dziesmotฤ revolลซcija

Beginning in 1987 after the introduction of the policies of glasnost and perestroika that rolled back certain limitations on political expression heretofore imposed on Soviet constituent member states outside of the core of Russia, the Baltic satellites staged a peaceful Singing Revolution that culminated for Latvia on this day in 1991 declaring its independence in the midst of an attempted coup to unseat Mikhail Gorbachev from his leadership position. One of the more popular songs of the freedom movement was the trilingual (also with verses in Estonian and Lithuanian) The Baltics are Waking Up!, composed by Boriss Rezniks for a protest two years prior commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, which defined German and Soviet spheres of influence in the region, with defiant ralliers’ joining hands and forming a human chain stretching across the three countries.

Saturday, 31 October 2020

nos sumus una familia

Declaring its independence on this day in 1977, residents of a triangle of streets in Notting Dale, West London formed the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia, inspired by Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen and the comedy Passport to Pimlico—putting the matter to a referendum with an overwhelming majority in favour of secession and many of those further advocating joining the European Economic Community.
Learning that the city council had designs on redeveloping the neighbourhood, the community of artists and squatters originally tried as a whole adopting the same surname (we are all one family, like the motto above)—Bramley, one of the roads forming the border of the micronation (see previously), so the city would be compelled to re-house them collectively, though that ploy failed. Lasting until 1982, the fully-functional state dissolved once an acceptable deal was reached with the developers—though not to everyone’s satisfaction. Architecturally, the art gallery The People’s Hall is all that remains from the days of independence—which also served as recording, rehearsal studios for The Clash and Motรถrhead. More to explore from Weird Universe at the link above.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

avgustovskiy putch

Opposed to the decentralisation and reform efforts of the Soviet president and General Secretary of the Communist Party, Communist hardliner elements in the government attempted a coup d'รฉtat beginning on this day at noon in 1991 to remove Mikhail Gorbachev (see previously) with the Moscow military district commander declaring martial law in effect and signaling an imminent siege on the parliamentary compound (ะ‘ะตะปั‹ะน ะดะพะผ—that is, the White House). Allies of the Gorbachev government barricaded the building and rebuffed the attack, codenamed Operation Grom—that is, thunder. Whilst these events unfolded—a power vacuum that lasted sixty hours, Estonia declared its independence with the other Baltic states following soon after.

Monday, 21 May 2018

leave the driving to us

Informed via Slashdot that Estonia from 1 July on will make its public mass-transit services essentially fare-free throughout the country—following similar though not encompassing schemes in Paris and Wales—I was relieved to learn that others, even politicians and city-planners, also realise that the future of driver-less, chauffeured transportation has always been with us, even if collective solutions are not as sleek and smug as reinventing the wheel.
Tallinn too has been addressing last-mile conundrums with automated mini-buses to supplement its network as well. Implementation is surprisingly inexpensive, even factoring in on the lost revenue (which might for a time be recouped from tourists), whose blow is dulled by the fact that one can eliminate the administrative cost of managing ticket sales and inspections—not to mention reduced air-pollution, less congestion and increased mobility and self-determination for an ageing rural population.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

5x5

volley: ping pong champion lobs back balls with a variety of items, producing different noises

scorched earth campaign: perhaps the Silicon Valley mind-set is the bigger threat to civilisation than machine super intelligence, via Waxy

locavore: shipping container farming approaches cost parity with traditional methods

eec: not heeding warnings from central bankers, Estonia is launching a crypto-currency, hoping to further solidify its reputation as a digital nation

that’s no moon: mesmerising time-lapse showing the stages of construction for a Death Star

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

allthing or all that’s fit to print

Boing Boing’s Iceland correspondent reports on a wonderful and antithetical response to the scourge of off-shoring and out-sourcing (and indeed even proxy-wars) in the plan, having already secured parliamentary endorsement, to make the country a designated safe haven for the freedoms of expression and information.

Advocates, who hope to create a Switzerland of bits, hope that this stance will compel other governments to be more transparent and forth-coming about legislation and its enforcement. Cobbling together some of the best whistle-blower protection and anti-censorship laws from different jurisdictions—for instance, the attorney-client privilege that any conversation with a journalist enjoys in Belgium or the public registry of all government documents (even classified ones) in Estonia, is creating a forum where witness to corruption can come forward without fear of reprisal. As if meaningful reform and mindful democracy weren’t occasion enough, perhaps this new media landscape might be able to attract internet start-ups to recover some of the jobs-prospects lost to Iceland’s former dignities where laws are not biased towards copy-holders and a select few with political heft—besides, surely the land of fire and ice is probably an ideal place to operate with a smart labour pool and totally green geothermal energy to power it all.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

5x5: acoustic edition

nature sounds: meditative woodland megaphones in Estonia

milk-drop: the gorgeous music visualisation scheme called Panoramical

white-noise: addressing the Fermi Paradox, Edward Snowden suggests that highly encrypted communication becomes indis- tinguishable from cosmic background radiation

two-man band: the fabulous myriophone that mimics the effects of a full string orchestra section, via the resplendent Nag on the Lake

transduction: in addition to perceiving sounds, one’s ears also produce them

Thursday, 12 March 2015

five-by-five

franchise: plans are in the works to release more variations on the theme of Ghostbusters

harilik tamm: the Orissaare Oak in Estonia named European Tree of the Year

wolf-pack: more mezmerising psychedelic animated animal GIFs from TJ Fuller

big easy: check out the design proposals for New Orleans’ Tricentennial Tower

nonce: just because a vigourous campaign has pushed a portmanteau from the internet to the dictionary, does that make it part of the lexicon?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

talvisota tai finmark

The young country of Finland found itself in a very unenviable position just after the start of WWII. Until 1809, Finland had been a part of the Kingdom of Sweden, until Imperial Russia conquered the territory to provide a buffer-region (a march) to protect Saint Petersburg during the Napoleonic Wars. This freshly created Duchy of Finland, however, took the chance to break free during the chaos of successive revolutions and civil wars that visited Russia and was able to declare independence in 1918, just before the peace was brokered for WWI.

The non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union also defined the respective powers’ spheres of influence, and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries were ceded to the Stalin regime—Germany’s violation of the agreement with invading Poland of course was the catalyst for starting the fighting—and though Finland had made strong connections with the other neutral Nordic nations, the Soviet Union tugged on Finland, expecting it to assimilate as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had done. During the Winter War (Talvisota in Finnish) of 1939 the Finns rebuffed the Red Army, using among other conventional weapons, an improvised incendiary device, called the Molotov cocktail, named after the Soviet foreign minister whose negotiations had sacrificed Finland in the first place. The advance on the part of Moscow had given the League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations) cause to reject Soviet membership. Germany did not hesitate in making overtures to the precarious Finnish government after the Soviet withdrawal, which I think to everyone’s surprise, the Finns entertained. Ostensibly, the arrangement could be seen as an opportunistic quid-pro-quo—giving Germany the staging ground for its invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa)—though whether that was already in the making is unclear—and the chance for Finland to reclaim resource-rich territory lost, but I suspect that the damning, besmirching decision was recognised as the only alternative available and the vanities of legacy and repute were quickly cast away. The Finnish foreign minister, Rudolf Holsti, chose what he felt was the lesser of two evils by committing his “government” and not his country to support the Nazi regime—worded carefully so that the decision could be overturned by the next government, as it was, and would hopefully preserve Finland as an independent state, which it did. The Soviets attacked Finland for this treachery, but it avoided annexation. Though the definition of what a democracy is a very subjective one, the UK and the Allies’ attack on Finland, who’s since reformed its reputation and I think this chapter of history goes unknown outside of Scandinavia, in what’s called the Continuation War (Jatkosota) marks by some estimates the only war-time hostility between two democratic powers.