Sorry, again, for the lack of posts. I’ve been gone most of the month. So here, have a video:

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At eleven a.m. on November 11, 1918, an armistice went into effect. Fighting on the western front of World War I officially ceased. In commemoration of this, the first Armistice Day was celebrated on November 11, 1919.

Armistice Day is one of those rare civic holidays that’s celebrated in many countries, in some form or another. The French and Belgians call it Armistice Day; the Poles call it Polish Independence Day; the Italians celebrate it on November 4. The UK and Commonwealth countries call it Remembrance Day and have expanded it to include all veterans, although special emphasis is still placed on WWI.

In the United States, November 11 was originally called Armistice Day. It became Veteran’s Day in 1954, expanded to include all American veterans, and from 1971 to 1977 it was actually celebrated in October. I would argue (although I could be wrong) that most Americans no longer associate the day with World War I, and the fact that we now call it Veteran’s Day and place only incidental emphasis on the day’s connection to World War I reveals the great discrepancies between how the U.S. and Europe experienced and remember that war.

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This – me talking about some of my favorite songs and why I love them – will probably become a semi-recurring feature of the blog, but we’ll see how it goes.

I had intended to embed some video for this song, but youtube has failed me, so I’m just posting the lyrics instead (after the jump):

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In honor of the heat wave sweeping the Bay Area this week – I’m going to sleep with the fan on and it’s October – I present a selection of songs that sound like summer, a list originally spawned by an av club q & a from 2009. As previously stated, I love themed playlists and mixes. I mean, I’m the person who has a whole group of songs that I think somehow sound like whiskey (yes, I realize that’s odd, and maybe I’ll clarify some day).

So, after the jump, the songs that put me in mind of summer days, either because they sound summery or because I hear them a lot during the summer (with links or video where possible).

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Let’s start with a little background: I read this book a while ago. I’m not exactly sure how long “a while” is, but I think maybe the summer of 2009. And I wanted to write something about it, because it’s an interesting book, but then it got set on a shelf and I never returned to it, except to occasionally move it aside when reaching for my Chicago. So I sat myself down tonight, determined to finally conquer this task.

As a journalist based out of Athens for many years, Robert Kaplan’s familiarity with the region and his subject matter is easily apparent in his writing. Balkan Ghosts is a great combination of travelogue and journalism, drawing on history, current events, and personal experience. It’s designed for a trade audience in a country where most people, I am willing to bet, cannot locate Bulgaria on a map. And so in many ways, it’s a tremendously successful book: it’s readable, it’s intelligent, and it came out at a time (1993) when the Balkans had suddenly drawn international attention.

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Hello! I am back (I hope)! With an article I originally plunked out last year, true enough. Baby steps, people.

Anyway, this all started when I came across a June 2009 article in The Globe and Mail (now sadly behind a pay wall) on the Canadian government’s reaction to swine flu outbreaks on First Nations reserves (the Canadian version of reservations):

In the critical days after dozens of Manitoba aboriginals fell severely ill with swine flu, Health Canada hesitated in sending desperately needed hand sanitizer to native towns because of concerns that people would ingest the alcohol-based gel.

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So I have a new job. And I’m still doing my old job. And freelance work. I am so exhausted. So I’m just going to give you a pretty picture to look at:

#58 Shepherd with his horse and dog on Gravelly Range Madison County, Montana, August 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Russell Lee. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

And then I’ll say you should go check out the rest of the set, a series of rare color photos taken by government employees in the late 1930s and early 1940s. They’re fascinating and well worth the time. And I’ll let you imagine I said something insightful and deep about how we respond to images, how the addition of color changes our perspective. These photos seem considerably less historic than what we would expect from pictures of this era; they feel closer to us because we are not expecting color in this context. Now take this and talk amongst yourselves.