21 October 2013

Put a finger on it

The artist who has given us a saint riding an upside-down horse, babies crawling on a tower, two men pissing in a pool the shape of the Czech Republic, an exercising double-decker bus and a pink Soviet tank with a middle finger has given us another middle finger, this time directed at Prague Castle (and presumably the rather powerful man who lives there).

The good people of Prague awoke today to the sight of a 10-meter-high purple middle finger on the Vltava River. The height is not as important as the direction it's facing. The artist behind it, David Cerny, is quoted (in Czech, obviously) describing his latest work of art this way: "It's a normal f--king finger to those Communist f--king bastards at the castle."

Výtvarník David Černý instaloval na Vltavě mezi Národním divadlem a Střeleckým ostrovem v Praze plastiku ruky se vztyčeným prostředníčkem namířeným na Pražský hrad.
From novinky.cz.
If Cerny wanted attention, he got it. A BBC story on his sculpture has been in the top 10 most read stories as I've been writing this. I got emails from friends in Pardubice and Massachusetts about this. And expats and Czech friends alike are sharing stories on their Facebook pages.

The unveiling is timed with this weekend's Parliamentary elections, which are needed after Parliament was dissolved in August. The Communist party has held anywhere from 22 to 42 of the 200 Lower House seats even after the Velvet Revolution, and some recent polls (which may or may not be trusted) show they may (or may not) get more power after these elections. But there's definitely a group of voters, particularly in the industrial northwest, who miss the days when they were guaranteed a job.

Special thanks to the Special Assistant to the Blogger for her translation skills.

19 October 2013

The Czech Republic: Not No. 1 in getting killed by lawnmowers

Bless the folks at thedoghousediaries.com, because it takes skill to produce a world map that gives you something different. You're going to get a link to the Doghouse map in a moment, but not yet. We have to play a game first.

The map labels each country by something they lead the world in. (Remember that "rule" that says sentences can't end in prepositions? Antiquated. Get over it.) Some of them are not surprising. The Czech Republic, for example, apparently leads the world in drinking. For context, read this report, take note of how many centimeters your shoulders move when they shrug, and that's pretty much how I felt when I saw the Czech Republic factoid. But there are some interesting bits of info, and for fun, I figured I'd change it into a quiz. Based on the Doghouse map, which gleaned much of its info from Wikipedia, match the 10 countries below with the category in which they lead the world: