New Europe, New Problems

Thursday, March 10, 2011

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Just days before Christmas, Hungary's new right-wing government, which now controls a near-invincible two-thirds of parliament, succumbed to temptation: It rubber-stamped a draconian-sounding new media law that looked as if it would slip a leash of censorship around the necks of both traditional and online media.

Egypt and Citizen Journalism

Friday, February 11, 2011

BRATISLAVA – From the relative serenity of Central Europe, I’m following events in Egypt like many of you: scan headlines, surf for more and more voices. To watch history being made in real time is a thrilling, if voyeuristic, experience. Virtual ring-side seats to a title fight between David and Goliath.

Travails of the "Aspiring First-Time Author"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

BRATISLAVA – It’s not the daily grind. More like a monthly juggle.

Budapest Portraits: The Face of Winter

Friday, January 7, 2011

BUDAPEST – Remnants of the past. I always look for them, especially in Central Europe. How else to stay stimulated in the land I’ve called home for most of the past 17 years?

One face of Hungary.I discovered a different sort of relic over the holidays in Budapest. When an icy chill swept the region, it rendered most warm-blooded humans homebound. Or hop-scotching from family to friend’s flat. Or scurrying from mall to shiny mall.

What Would the Chinese Do?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

BRATISLAVA – After a second sampling of Chinese culture, I’ve returned to Slovakia with a fancy for drinking tea. Straight. No honey or sugar. No lemon or milk. Just the tea, thanks.

In fact, that’s the way I order it from Slovak waiters and waitresses: “Len a čaj.” Only the tea. Most nod and bring me two packets of sugar anyway.

Humanity in the Toilet

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BRATISLAVA – Sometimes, even a Slovak pissoir inspires me.

The old, no-frills Tesco building downtown was recently renovated into a hip shopping mall, with bright lights, sleek displays and basement supermarket with a hu-u-u-uge liquor section. (Not that I'm implying anything about my Slovak neighbors.)

The Good Slovak Samaritan

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BRATISLAVA – I didn’t want to blog today. I need to write more of the Double-Secret Probationary Project I started this month. Oops, I’ve already said too much.

But then I witness a great act of stranger-to-stranger kindness, the sort of thing that is so rare in post-Communist, every-man-for-himself Central Europe, I notice when it happens.

One Friday Afternoon in Bratislava

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BRATISLAVA – I’ve been meaning to write. Really, I have.

Maybe my sluggishness is because it’s so tough to re-acclimate to colder, wetter weather.

Small-Game Hunting

Monday, November 8, 2010

HONG KONG – A big fat discount. That’s what I wanted on my last day in Hong Kong – a reasonably priced memento of my seven weeks here.

China: The Sixth Landmine

Thursday, October 14, 2010

HONG KONG – Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo – while the man languishes in prison – has inflicted humiliation of epic proportion upon the thin-skinned Communist leadership in Beijing.

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