Soukie's Place

keeping track of random thoughts

Archive for Czech

Cultural Differences

Starting an article with a disclaimer is bound to discourage the readers but I want to avoid it being misinterpreted. (Which might happen anyway.) My opinions are, of course, subjective, the observations cannot be applied in general, and a light-hearted (rather than a sociologically-scientific) frame of mind is recommended.

I am going to discuss the cultures I know: Czech and American. Now here is the first problem: While you can pretend that the 10 million Czechs living in the area of roughly the size of South Carolina share a common culture, with the 300 million Americans of different ethnicities and origins living across an area 40 times larger than the whole United Kingdom, there is not much to define one culture apart from the language and TV programs. Continues » 

O Canada!

Canadian flag with a Czech passport

When commenting on the new visa requirement for Czech citizens, Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said: “It’s not a pleasant thing to do, but it’s absolutely necessary to protect the integrity of our immigration system and our laws.”

Kenney’s comment was related to some 3,000 asylum claims filed by Roma minority members from the Czech Republic which lead Canada to introduce the visa restriction effective of July 14, 2009. I will go on to argue that the Canadian immigration system is broken, and therefore should not be “protected,” as Mr Kenney claims, but changed. Continues » 

Gaza, Gas, EU and “…Not My President”

What do the conflict in Gaza, an ‘anti-EU’ campaigner Declan Ganley and Russia’s cutoff of gas have in common? The answer is surprisingly the Czech Republic. This is not a conspiracy theory; the explanation lies in the beginning of the Czech Republic’s six-month presidency over the European Union. These are all grave issues (pun on my home country intended; and you’ll soon see why) so I decided to address them with a somewhat light-hearted tone. Continues » 

Czech Heroes (Considered) Fictional

Josef Švejk, Jan Welzl, Jára Cimrman. These are three distinct heroes of the Czech past. Two of them are fictional, one has often been incorrectly regarded as such, and one of them was prominent in the poll for the greatest Czech person ever.

If the hero manages to be fictional, he’s on the fast track to the hall of fame.

Not that Czechs would have a shortage of “regular” national heroes—there are Charles IV, Hus, Comenius, Dvořák, Kafka, Wichterle, Forman or Jágr (not to mention Pilsner Urquell, because beer almost does qualify here)—but the Czech mentality often prefers heroes of a not-so-international stardom and more-of-an-average abilities with non-standard achievements (a “Joe the Hero” who is best in something I don’t care about). And if on top of that the hero manages to be fictional or to become famous against his will, he’s on the fast track to the hall of fame. Continues » 

President Behind the Scenes

Václav Havel

Havel’s humanist values defined the social transformation of the post-communist Eastern block

A documentary spanning 15 years, 45 hours of film and 25 hours of video tapes offers an intimate look at the presidency of Václav Havel. It is unparalleled that a head of state would allow to be captured to this extent behind the scenes arriving at key political decisions with his staff. Continues » 

Not Just Czechoslovakia

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the official proclamation of Czechoslovakia (October 28, 1918). This day has been celebrated in various guises: First as the establishing of the independent, democratic republic and its first president, Tomas G. Masaryk. After WWII and the communist takeover, the emphasis was shifted to liberation after 300 years of Habsburg monarchy, and then to the Nationalization DecreesThe decrees were signed on October 24, 1945 and nationalized mines, banks and some industrial enterprises effective on October 27.. Continues » 


You can tell something is wrong if you see a result like this not on the sports page of the newspaper but headlining the front pages as the results of the Czech regional electionsCzech Republic held elections in its 13 regions in October (except Prague which will hold elections in 2010). All regions were won decisively by one party..

So what is the anomaly behind this? Although I have stopped following the politics in my country, I was curious enough to do some reading that showed that apart from the expected factors favoring Social Democrats (who happen to be the winners) such as rising costs and an aggressive campaign to support worries about the economy, there was a lot of non-standard activities on both sides of the political spectrum that one would stereotypically associate with Italy (or, more recently, Russia). Continues »