Kickstarting Skyliner; a graphic novel memoir about jazz behind the Iron Curtain


At 81, Polish illustrator Andre Krayewski has adapted his memoir about being a jazz fan in Stalinist Poland into a graphic novel, and his son Ed has translated it to English.

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Fluorescent, pissing Lenin statue


A fluorescent statue of a urinating VI Lenin has been erected in Nowa Huta, a town built by the old Stalinist regime. The Soviet-era Lenin that stood in the spot was subjected to multiple unsuccessful attempts by activists to blow it up. The new statue, "Fountain of the Future," is a temporary installation that is meant to spur debate about what statue should be permanently installed in its place.

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Call for Speakers: Copycamp Warsaw, with Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Cory

Marta writes, "This is an open call for 10-minute presentations at the 3rd International CopyCamp Conference (November 6-7, 2014 in Warsaw, Poland), devoted to social impacts of copyright. This year, we'll have two special guests: Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a poet and member of the Icelandic parliament, Internet activist, freedom of information and freedom of speech defender and Cory Doctorow, the co-editor of this website."

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Engagement ring with tiny slide and projection lens built in


This engagement ring with a built-in lens and slide is apparently a prototype produced by an unnamed Polish manufacturer. According to Technolog, who posted the images to Reddit, the publicity-shy manufacturer hasn't gone into production yet.

Update: Technolog has updated the post with the name of the maker: Marek Mazur of Gdansk

Engagement ring with little photo slide and lens in it (via Super Punch)

Wrist-straps for pocket-watches


Polish leatherworker MK makes some very nice wrist-straps for pocket-watches and car-watches. He's not the only one making these, but I find them particularly handsome, and rather nice retro-modern take on the massive wristwatch phenomenon.

Wristbands for pocket watches. (Thanks, Nic!)

Vehicular tetris plan foiled by German policeman with tragic lack of imagination


This tetris of vehicles was constructed by a Polish truck driver, who conceived of it as a clever means of transporting several trucks and a car in one go. His plan was foiled by a spoilsport German cop, who made him destack it. I say that if there was a problem with this construction, it was in its lack of ambition: why not a motorcycle atop the car? Why not a bicycle atop the motorcycle? Why not a strapping lad in rollerskates on a pogo-stick bouncing on the bicycle?

On the road, the officers stopped the breakdown field daredevil transport (on the way to Belgium). On the Iveco car carrier (1) there was a large truck (2, on the deck again, a smaller VW MAN truck (3 And on the deck one Mercedes (4)!

Police spokesman Acor Kniely: "This tower contradicted all road traffic legislation. Especially as he to make matters worse the trailer still wanted to charge another truck! "

So was hatte Krefelds Polizei noch nicht gesehen: Hochstapler-Laster gestoppt! - Düsseldorf [Ulrich Altmann/Bild.de/Google Translate] (via Neatorama)

Dried riverbed reveals stolen architecture, unexploded artillery shells

When Sweden invaded Poland in the 17th century, the Swedes made off with pieces of marble lintels, columns, and other architectural details from the Polish royal palace.

Hundreds of years later, Nazis invaded Poland, carrying with them deadly, modern weaponry and a system of violent repression aimed at the country's Jewish population.

Now, thanks to a severe summer drought, evidence of both these invasions is turning up in Warsaw, beached on the dried riverbed of the Vistula.

Low rainfall over the past few months has brought the Vistula, Poland's longest river, to its lowest level since regular records began 200 years ago.Navigation along the river has already been affected and officials say if water levels do not recover soon, power stations in Warsaw that use river water for cooling may be forced to close down.

Unexploded World War Two ordnance was found on the river bed in one part of the city at the weekend. Kowalski said on the stretch of river bed he had been studying, a few pieces of Jewish matzevah, or gravestones, had been discovered.

Read more about what lies at the bottom of the Vistula at Yahoo News

Prize for best visions for the future of copyright

Jaroslaw Lipszyc sez, "Modern Poland Foundation organizes crowdfunded contest for the best work on the Future of Copyright. Idea is simple: the bigger the prize, the more attention contest will get and more participants will be attracted. All works participating need to be published on the web under free license, so we can all use them as we wish. Independent jury under head of prof. Michael Geist (well known copyright scholar from Canada) and Piotr Czerski (of We, the Web Kids manifesto fame) will decide, who gets the money. All supporters will receive e-book consisting of best works created for the contest, with personalized 'Thank you!' note on the first page - and much more if they pledge more than minimum $5 to the prize. Together we will help society to get more creative ideas on the Future of Copyright. Now it's your turn to show your support and make this contest bigger than Nobel."

This is simple. If you want to take part in the contest, publish the work on the Internet and mail us at contest@nowoczesnapolska.org.pl. Just follow these general rules:

1. On topic
The work may be of any kind (text, video, audio), and of any genre (i.e. legal analisys, dystopian or utopian story, educational video – sky is the limit here), but it must address the general subject of the Future of Copyright. Your work has to be in English or you need to provide an English translation.

2. Limited size
The size of the work is limited to 20,000 characters for text or 15 minutes for audio and video. Small print: we will accept only first 500 works. Sorry, but we are unable to process more.

3. New and original
We accept only original works prepared specially for this contest. You must have all the rights to the work. Team work is acceptable. If your work is a remix, you need to provide the source for the works you re-used.

Future of Copyright Contest (Thanks, Jaroslaw!)

Web Kids' manifesto

Piotr Czerski's manifesto, "We, the Web Kids," originally appeared in a Polish daily newspaper, and has been translated to English and pastebinned. I'm suspicious of generational politics in general, but this is a hell of a piece of writing, even in translation.

Writing this, I am aware that I am abusing the pronoun ‘we’, as our ‘we’ is fluctuating, discontinuous, blurred, according to old categories: temporary. When I say ‘we’, it means ‘many of us’ or ‘some of us’. When I say ‘we are’, it means ‘we often are’. I say ‘we’ only so as to be able to talk about us at all.

1. We grew up with the Internet and on the Internet. This is what makes us different; this is what makes the crucial, although surprising from your point of view, difference: we do not ‘surf’ and the internet to us is not a ‘place’ or ‘virtual space’. The Internet to us is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. We do not use the Internet, we live on the Internet and along it. If we were to tell our bildnungsroman to you, the analog, we could say there was a natural Internet aspect to every single experience that has shaped us. We made friends and enemies online, we prepared cribs for tests online, we planned parties and studying sessions online, we fell in love and broke up online. The Web to us is not a technology which we had to learn and which we managed to get a grip of. The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us. Technologies appear and then dissolve in the peripheries, websites are built, they bloom and then pass away, but the Web continues, because we are the Web; we, communicating with one another in a way that comes naturally to us, more intense and more efficient than ever before in the history of mankind.

Brought up on the Web we think differently. The ability to find information is to us something as basic, as the ability to find a railway station or a post office in an unknown city is to you. When we want to know something - the first symptoms of chickenpox, the reasons behind the sinking of ‘Estonia’, or whether the water bill is not suspiciously high - we take measures with the certainty of a driver in a SatNav-equipped car. We know that we are going to find the information we need in a lot of places, we know how to get to those places, we know how to assess their credibility. We have learned to accept that instead of one answer we find many different ones, and out of these we can abstract the most likely version, disregarding the ones which do not seem credible. We select, we filter, we remember, and we are ready to swap the learned information for a new, better one, when it comes along.

To us, the Web is a sort of shared external memory. We do not have to remember unnecessary details: dates, sums, formulas, clauses, street names, detailed definitions. It is enough for us to have an abstract, the essence that is needed to process the information and relate it to others. Should we need the details, we can look them up within seconds. Similarly, we do not have to be experts in everything, because we know where to find people who specialise in what we ourselves do not know, and whom we can trust. People who will share their expertise with us not for profit, but because of our shared belief that information exists in motion, that it wants to be free, that we all benefit from the exchange of information. Every day: studying, working, solving everyday issues, pursuing interests. We know how to compete and we like to do it, but our competition, our desire to be different, is built on knowledge, on the ability to interpret and process information, and not on monopolising it.

We, the Web Kids (Thanks, @travpol!)

Bulgarian MPs wear Guy Fawkes mask for ACTA session

Apparently inspired by the Polish parliamentarians who showed up for work in Guy Fawkes masks for the signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (a US-driven secret copyright treaty), members of Bulgaria's parliament repeated the trick.

The MPs say they support copyright laws, but oppose ACTA over its possible turning into an instrument to limit freedom of speech, to control internet use, and to turn into an obstacle for the exchange of information and knowledge online.

On January 26, the Bulgarian government signed in Tokyo the international ACTA agreement, vowing to make downloading content similar to forgery of brands.

The agreement was sealed by Bulgarian ambassador to Japan Lyubomir Todorov, based on a decision by the Bulgarian cabinet taken hastily on January 11.

Bulgarian MPs Wear Guy Fawkes Mask to Protest ACTA (via Techdirt)

Poland's Prime Minister wants to put the brakes on ACTA

Tomo sez, "Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, announced ACTA needs to be reviewed and consulted with his ministers as well as internet community representatives. ACTA won't be ratified until all doubts will be explained. He added that that might mean the ACTA won't be ratified at all. In addition, he announced he wants to start discussion in European Parliament on freedom of speech and expression." (Thanks Tomo!) Cory

Test-tube chandeliers, named for Marie Curie


Named for Marie Curie, this line of Maria S.C. chandeliers from Poland's Gangdesign uses test-tubes as pendants that can be planted with sprigs or flowers. Here's the sell-copy, Google Translated from Polish to English:

This chandelier is made of tubes. It consists of two modules of different sizes, which can occur together or separately. Shape refers to the traditional forms of Art Deco, and the name is an allusion to the person of Maria Sklodowska Curie. "Maria" gives a wide field for the visual experiment. Version of the reel allows free lowering "Maria" to change the arrangement.

Maria SC. (via Craft)

Polish MPs wear Guy Fawkes masks to protest ACTA

The streets of Poland have erupted in protest on the eve of the country's signing onto ACTA, the secretive copyright treaty that is being rammed through many European Parliaments this year. Members of Parliament showed up for work wearing Anon-style Guy Fawkes masks to show their disapproval.


After the signing, protesters rallied in the Polish cities of Poznan and Lublin to express their anger over the treaty. Lawmakers for the left-wing Palikot's Movement wore masks in parliament to show their dissatisfaction, while the largest opposition party — the right-wing Law and Justice party — called for a referendum on the matter.

Poland signs copyright treaty that drew protests (via JWZ)

(Image: downsized thumbnail snipped from a photo by Alik Keplicz/AP)

Polish anti-ACTA site

For Polish readers: StopACTA.pl is your clearinghouse for action in the Polish fight against the punitive ACTA copyright treaty.

Handmade vacuum tubes


Prywatna Wytwórnia Lamp is Aleksander Zawada's one-man vacuum tube factory, now housed in Warsaw's Institute of Vacuum Technology (Zawada's original vacuum tube factory was in his apartment). Sébastien Bourdeauducq met Zawada and did a great writeup on his handcrafted valves -- and no, it's nothing like Portlandia's artisinal lightbulbs.

He starts the triode by assembling the grid. To do this, he takes a piece of nickel wire, and soldered a small spiral of molybdenum wire on it – one turn and one solder at a time. He uses molybdenum because of its low emission of free electrons when heated (which causes unwanted grid current in tubes) and its high melting point. Soldering is done with a spot welding machine, which passes high current through the parts to be soldered (nickel and molybdenum wires). The current is so high that the metals heat and melt locally and form a small solder spot. How does one obtain such a high current? Aleksander simply took the transformer of a microwave oven, removed the high voltage secondary, and wound instead a few turns of a thick aluminum bar whose ends are connected to the copper electrodes of the welding machine. The solder current can be controlled by a triac-based dimmer connected in series with the transformer’s primary...

As a cheap source of bulbs, Aleksander uses glass enclosures he easily obtained from light bulb factories – they had plenty of surplus stock when incandescent lights were removed from sales in Europe.

Now, let’s assemble the electrodes and the bulb together. He does that by melting the bulb into the base, by rotating it and heating the bottom with a propane torch. Of course, the spinner is also made of junk materials – this time, a turntable that was originally intended to play vinyls.

(via Make)