Friday, 25 July 2014

Sopot - Driver runs amok: 23 injured! (

Man Drives Car into Summer Crowds at Holiday Hotspot in Sopot, Poland – 22 Injured

Twenty-two people have been injured after a driver rammed his car into crowds enjoying a summer evening stroll in Sopot, northern Poland.
At least 16 of the victims needed hospital treatment after the incident around the Monciak pier, one of the busiest tourist spots in the seaside town. Three were said to have been in a serious condition, but there have been no reports of life-threatening injuries.
The driver is said to have driven at up to 100 kmh long ulica Bohaterów Monte Cassino on July 19, just after 11pm. The Honda was in collision with pedestrians on the street, before turning on the pier – then smashing into a garden. The driver attempted to escape, but was held by members of the public until police arrived.
Jacek Karnowski, mayor of Sopot, said the aftermath was a ‘real picture of disaster’.
Mr Karnowski added: “I wish to express my deepest sympathy to all the victims of the night… this is an unprecedented event, with the hallmarks of a terrorist attack, which has never before happened in our city and hopefully will never happen again.”
A 32-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident. He tested negative for alcohol, and police will carry out further tests to determine whether he had taken drugs.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Stanislaw Lem - Fiction and Philosophy

Stanislaw Lem (1921 – 2006) born in Lwow, Poland (now Ukranie) was a science fiction, satire and philosophy writer. In 1946 his family moved to Krakow as they didn’t want to become citizens of the USSR.

Same year Lem made his literary debut and published his first science fiction novel was Czlowiek z Marsa (The Man from Mars). While working as a scientific research assistant between 1947 and 1950 he published various poems, short stories and scientific essays, which had to be approved by the communistic regime. Some of his works have been suppressed by the authorities until 1955.
In late 50s and early 60s Lem published his first philosophical books, ‘Dialogi’ (Dialogues) and ‘Summa Technologiae’. In these works he discusses virtual reality and nanotechnology, which were completely science fiction then, but gaining importance today.
Lem gained international fame for ‘The cyberiad’, first published in English in 1974. Since then he became one of the leading representative of Polish science fiction and most translated Polish authors. His best known novels include ‘Solaris’ (1961), which was made into a film twice, ‘His Master’s Voice’ (1968) and ‘Fiasco’ (1987). He often criticised the films based on his work.

‘The New York Times Review of Books’ about Stanislaw Lem:

“The Polish writer Stanislaw Lem is both a polymath and a virtuoso storyteller and stylist. Put them together and they add up to a genius... He has been steadily producing fiction that follows the arcs and depths of his learning and a bewildering labyrinth of moods and attitudes. Like his protagonists, loners virtually to a man, his fiction seems at a distance from the daily cares and passions, and conveys the sense of a mind hovering above the boundaries of the human condition: now mordant, now droll, now arcane, now folksy, now skeptical, now haunted and always paradoxical. Yet his imagination is so powerful and pure that no matter what world he creates it is immediately convincing because of its concreteness and plentitude, the intimacy and authority with which it is occupied... read Lem for yourself. He is a major writer, and one of the deep spirits of our age.”

An interesting Times Online article about Lem from 2006 can be found here.


Saturday, 30 April 2011

Ignacy Jan Paderewski - pianist and politician

Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860 – 1941), was a Polish pianist, composer, philanthropist, diplomat, politician and 3rd Prime Minister of Poland. From an early childhood he was interested in music and at the age of 12 admitted to the Warsaw Conservatorium. He later went to Berlin and Vienna to study music composition. 
His first public appearance was in 1887 and in the following years he gained major success in Paris and London as well as triumphs in the United States where he settled in 1913. 
During World War 1, Paderewski was an active member of the Polish National Committee in Paris. He became their spokesman and also formed other social and political organisations, incl. Polish Relief Fund in London. In 1919 Paderewski became the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign affairs in the newly independent Poland. A year later he resigned and took on the role of Polish League of Nations ambassador. In 1933 he retired from political career to return to the music. 
He toured the whole United States and filled 20.000 seats in Madison Square Garden. The concert raised £37,000 for unemployed American musicians.
Photo: New York Public Library, Performing Arts Division, Paderewski
In 1939 a critic from San Francisco Chronicle wrote in his article: "He is much more than the artist with the right to wear the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, he is the recipient of more medals and awards than one can imagine and a greater number of honorary doctorates than he can count himself.  He is even more than a man who made several fortunes only to give them away for the benefit of others.  But first of all, he is the one who having all compliments, financial rewards, and respect of the whole world at his feet, has not hesitated to push it aside, refusing profits and safety he could obtain easily, to dedicate himself entirely and exclusively to the humanitarian cause.

World has many reasons to recognize such rare today humanism, especially when success of the cause for which Paderewski fought is now in jeopardy.  In this situation what remained, was to pay him a small honor by coming yesterday to listen to him play”.

Soon Paderewski moved to Switzerland and was an active member of the opposition to Sanation rule (Polish political movement).  In 1940 he became the head of the Polish National Council (parliament in exile in London). In the age of 80 Paderewski restarted his Polish Relief Fund and raised money for it by playing several concerts. During this tour he suddenly died in 1941 in New York.
In 1948 on the initiative of the Polish community, the Ignacy Paderewski Foundation was established.


Thursday, 7 April 2011

The magnificent watercolour art by Grzegorz Wrobel

Grzegorz Wrobel, born on March 11th, 1983 studied and graduated architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology. His interest in watercolours started at the age of 12 and although using drawings and watercolours at the university he gained his exceptional skills and style from own study. 

By controlling the water his art shows fresh colours, reflections and atmosphere. Grzegorz developed his own precise technique to capture lights, shadows and realistic motions among architecture structures. Check out his impressive style and more artwork here.

Source: WATERart, (photos used with artists permission)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Czeslaw Niemen

Czeslaw Niemen (1939 - 2004), real name Czeslaw Juliusz Wydrzycki, was born in Stare Wasiliszki, Poland (now Belarus). He made his debut in the early 1960s and soon become one of the most important Polish singer-songwriters, progressive musicians and jazz-rock fusion artists of the last quarter-century. His song, "Dziwny jest ten swiat" (1967) is commonly known as the most important Polish protest song of that era. In 1972 an English version called "Strange is this world" was recorded.

Niemen was a composer and singer. He played guitar, hammond organ, mellotron and moog synthesizers on his records. In the early 1970s, CBS label released three of his records in English language.

Later, Niemen composed film soundtracks and theater music and showed interest in art.

In his career Niemen achieved huge success,
got many awards and the first golden record in
Poland in 1967. He won the Sopot International
Song Festival in 1979. "Legendary actress and singer Marlene Dietrich was so astonished by Niemen's performance while visiting Warsaw in
1964 that she asked him for permission to sing his
song "Czy mnie jeszcze pamietasz" ("Do You Still Remember Me"). It was later re-titled as
"Mutter, hast du mir vergeben". His song
"Pielgrzym" ("The Pilgrim") was re-mixed
and used in  "The Test" by Chemical Brothers."
(IMDB, 2002)

Sources: Czeslaw Niemen - , IMDB -

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pola Negri and the Golden Era of Hollywood

Barbara Apolonia Chałupiec (aka Pola Negri) was born in Poland in 1894, although some sources state 1897. She was a Polish film actress who achieved huge international fame in silent films in the most extravagant and glamorous era between 1910s and 1930s.
When she was young she trained to become a ballerina but her delicate health forced her to stop dancing. Later Apolonia attended the Warsaw Imperial Academy of Dramatic Arts and after two years of study she became a stage actress. By the end of World War I she had established herself as a popular actress in Warsaw, appearing in several films. During that time, she adopted the pseudonym "Pola Negri," after the Italian poetess, Ada Negri. Pola appeared in a variety of films made by the Warsaw film industry, including The Wife (Żona), The Beast (Bestia), Students (Studenci), Street Ruffian's Lover (Kochanka apasza) and the Mysteries of Warsaw series. In 1917, her popularity provided her with an opportunity to move to Berlin, Germany, where she appeared in several successful films for film directors of the UFA agency, including Max Reinhardt and Ernst Lubitsch.

In 1922 she was offered a contract with Hollywood studios and the following year settled in the U.S. Her exotic style of glamour proved popular with audiences during the 1920s and her affairs with such notable actors as Charles Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino ensured that she remained in the public eye.
Pola Negri become one of the most popular and richest Hollywood actresses of the movie industry at the time. She started several ladies fashion trends and was a favorite photography subject of Eugene Robert Richee, the famous Hollywood portrait photographer.

Negri caused a media sensation in 1926 after the death of Valentino by announcing that they had planned to marry. She was following the train that carried his body from New York City to Los Angeles, posing for photographers at every stop. In 1928, Negri made her last film for Paramount Pictures entitled The Woman from Moscow, opposite actor Norman Kerry. The film was only Negri's second talkie (the first being Loves of an Actress, also released in 1928) and Paramount declined to renew her contract after audiences allegedly had difficulty understanding her dialog because of her heavy Polish accent.

Pola Negri with Charlie Chaplin
She made only a few films after 1930, and worked mainly in England and Germany, where she acted in several films for the UFA. In 1951, Negri became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Pola Negri has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to Motion Pictures. She died in 1987 and left most of her estate to St. Mary’s University in Texas and to Polish nuns of the Seraphic Order.

Sources: Pola Negri Appreciation site - , IMDB - , ,

Monday, 28 February 2011

K-202 Minicomputer by Jacek Karpinski 1972

K-202 was a multi-tasking 16-bit, dual bus, modular minicomputer constructed by the Polish pioneer in computer science and engineering Jacek Karpinski in 1972. The fourth generation computer was invented far ahead of its time.
It was the first Polish modular computing system with integrated circuits and first to use the paging technique to increase the memory capacity. The machine was built in co-operation with Polish and English companies but again because of the political situation occurring at that time in Poland, (apart from 30 units that were sold), it was never mass-produced.

Feat.: Multiprogramming: ASSK, BASIC, FORTRAN IV, CSL, BICEPS, CEMMA, MOST -2, COMIT, TRAFOK (a conversational language for algebraic problems),...

Multi-user operating system, Multiprocessing, supposed to be able to address up to 8MB of RAM.
For more details please check the original K 202 Handbook by MB Metals Limited, Sussex (scanned by Ryszard Zenker)