Morsel #1: We got linked to by Wendy and Chris at Widdershins Farm, our two Vizsla-beasts' breeders. Momo is already a poster-child on the front page of their 'dog' section, but it's really nice to know that other prospective Widdershins Vizsla owners might come here.
For those of you who just want to read 'dogs' posts (or 'Central Asia' posts, for that matter), go to the 'Labels' section on the right-hand side and click on the 'Dogs' label... then you can skip all my rantings on lame cycling journalism and just see how things are going with our beasts. Incidentally, this is what velcro-vizsla-love looks like at 6:30am.
Morsel #2: Annie is back in Ulan Baatar, Mongolia, beginning her year's research on special education through the Fulbright Scholarship program. She has found a sweet apartment and has already called to say how much the city has changed in two years.
Morsel #3: The Regal Vizsla got a nice reply from Azamat in Bishkek. If you go to the 'Democracy in Kazakhstan' post, you can read it. He says much the same about Kazakhstan as Annie does about Mongolia. While much of post-Soviet Central Kazakhstan and Mongolia seems to feature rusting cranes on the horizon and half-finished concrete apartment blocks, the 'new' capitals of Astana and Ulan Baatar have a palpable energy to them. (Frankly, Almaty was still in a building boom of its own two years ago that I doubt has abated.)
I call Ulan Baatar a 'new' capital because it is also trying to reinvent itself, albeit in a different way than Nazarbayev's Astana. Admittedly Mongolia doesn't have the oil or gas revenues accelerating development -- good, bad, and kitsch -- but I did get the feeling that the government was being deliberate about how it proceeded. Annie mentioned that, after significant discussion, the mausoleum in front of the Parliament building in Sukhbaatar Square had now, in fact, been removed since she was last there. The mausoleum had housed the bodies of Sukhbaatar and Choibalsan. While Sukhbaatar was arguably the military man who made the modern nation of Mongolia possible after defeating the Chinese and Tsarist forces in 1921 and Choibalsan one of Stalin's greatest generals, Choibalsan was also the figure responsible for the Buddhist purges of the late 1930s and 1940s. There are some estimates that over 30,000 monks were exterminated during his pogroms. And so, it seems that 'new' Mongolia is uncomfortable memorializing itself in quite such a way. Amazingly, here's a blog post by Guido Verboom at Mongolian Matters with before and after pictures. (One of the comments on the 'Mausoleum gone' post does imply however that the process for removing the mausoleum was not quite as democratic as we might have hoped. Will need to do some checking.)
Morsel #4: Was flattered to get a reply to a comment I left at Registan by Afghanistanica and then to see The Regal Vizsla on his blog-roll. Wait till he discovers I just recycle other people's stuff. Like this mildly humorous take on how we can somehow find Chechens involved in everything that involves terrorism.
The vitriol that ethnic Russians express toward Chechens amazes me... we have a good friend who immigrated from Kazakhstan who still says that name with complete scorn... and, as a result, I have read a number of interesting books. The most persuasive, surprisingly perhaps, certainly to me, is by a Russian anthropologist, Valery Tishkov, Chechnya: Life in War-Torn Society. Not at all academically dry, and certainly felt equally critical of both sides and the myth-production they both engaged in.
Morsel #5: Just got an e-mail from my brother, Alastair, who had somehow found Brooklyn Lager in his local Glasgow offie (that's a 'package store' in northeast US parlance). The Brooklyn Lager is tasty, but my current fave is Dale's Pale Ale... so much flavor in a can! (I also love it that you need to attest that you are at least 21 to look at Brooklyn beer on-line. Beer porn. Cool.)