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Czech Republic

Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Medieval Torture


The museum of Medieval Torture can be found on the South side of Charles Bridge in Prague. There is a review of this museum over at Anti-War.Com:

Upon entering one of a series of gloomy, cave-like rooms, filled with the implements of the dismal craft that had its heyday from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, you would notice a range of mechanical devices and iron tools (also illustrated in drawings galore), all once meant to pierce, prod, or otherwise drive some poor heretic into the agony of confession. Often in those years before video cameras were available, all this was done in public sight.

And then, as you wound your way through the exhibit, you would come upon one of its centerpiece displays – the “water torture table” to which Bradbury [the head of the US Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel] alludes. After you’d checked out the period drawings of prisoners being tied to the edges of the flat tabletop or read about the interrogation method in which the water-filled abdomen was struck repeatedly with heavy blows, you might stop for a moment to consider the more detailed explanatory text nearby.

It would inform you that, over the course of these centuries, several water torture techniques were developed, one of which involved “inserting a cloth tube into the mouth of the victim [and] forcing it as deep as possible into his throat. The tube was then filled slowly with water, swelling up and choking the victim.” This is, in fact, an almost exact description of what has been described as CIA-style waterboarding.

Bonus link: Links to various torture museums around the world.

This evening I received a short email from a woman working at Service Canada, headed “YAY!” and advising me that we could relax as she was not pregnant, as her period had arrived.  I was obviously very relieved not to have made her pregnant, especially as I don’t even remember us actually meeting…

Posted by bigblue on 27/02/2008 at 09:32 PM
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Monday, 11 February 2008
5 second warning


I may not understand Czech but I can see that something in this warning message (in the hotel lift) has been lost in translation.

Posted by bigblue on 11/02/2008 at 10:19 PM
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Sunday, 10 February 2008
Old Town Square


This is the Old Town Square in Prague with the Týn Cathedral in the background. This square dates back to the late 12th Century and contains some beautiful historic buildings.

Link: Quicktime panorama of the square at Christmas time.

Posted by bigblue on 10/02/2008 at 10:02 AM
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Saturday, 09 February 2008
Charles 4th


This is the Charles 4th statue which stands near Charles Bridge in Prague.

It was built in the 19th Century and depicts the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles 4th, (1316 to 1378). He had 11 children by four wives, and one of his daughters (Anne of Bohemia) married Richard II of England in 1382. She died of Plague 12 years later and is buried in Westminster Cathedral.

Posted by bigblue on 09/02/2008 at 09:29 AM
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Thursday, 07 February 2008
Prague castle from Charles Bridge


I spent a couple of hours wandering around the city after work this evening. I was struck by the number of smokers who were out and about on the streets.

It’s a beautiful city of friendly people but there are also an awful lot of tourist shops selling the same old tat, and a great many Irish pubs.

Posted by bigblue on 07/02/2008 at 04:37 PM
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Wednesday, 18 May 2005
lost in Prague


I found this poster last May in Prague.

I was reviewing my site stats this evening, and found that so far this month I have received 14 hits from a search engine from people looking for information and photos from the Lucas Radebe testimonial match.  This compares favourably with the most popular single search term which brings people to my site (“bigblue” or some variant thereof, which resulted in 20 hits so far this month).

When I notice a trend like this I like to see which search engine is largely responsible.  According to Thumbshots it is most likely to be Google and then Msn.  On the former site I am listed 12th when searching for “lucas radebe testimonial photo” while on the latter I am listed 32nd and 33rd for the same search.

Posted by bigblue on 18/05/2005 at 12:27 AM
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Friday, 18 March 2005
Cross Zebras


These photographs are from Prague.  I was interested to read that another Czech city has introduced three dimensional zebra crossings:

The town of Teplice has introduced a new “three-dimensional” zebra crossing. The trick of it is that by a certain use of geometric design and colour an approaching driver has the impression that there is a hurdle on the road. As you come close the picture falls into place - but not until after a driver has slowed down to see that the object is. The new zebra crossing has been painted in several locations where children frequently cross the road on their way to school -and where cars often break the speed limit. People who live here have got used to it - it only works on newcomers, but the locals take extra care around schools here anyway so that’s OK, one of the town hall officials explained. If the three dimensional zebra crossings prove effective they could be installed in other towns as well. The problem is of course that once they become widespread - no will take any notice.

If you are going to visit Prague, or one of the other major Eastern European cities, I would recommend the In Your Pocket city and country guides.

Posted by bigblue on 18/03/2005 at 11:10 PM
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Wednesday, 09 March 2005
The Dancers


The above picture is comprised of a series of still captures from a video I took of the medieval hall in Prague Castle.

The site linked to above, has some information about the hall where I took these photos:

Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle: built in the 15th Century. Was used as a throne room, for coronation feasts, for assemblies of the Bohemian nobles. Tournaments of chivalry were also held here. More recently it has been used as a site for markets and presidential elections.

There is some detailed information about the castle complex, which claims to be the largest castle in the world, here.

Posted by bigblue on 09/03/2005 at 11:21 PM
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