Wednesday, November 30, 2022

2022 Global Peace Index

The Global Peace Index ranks the level of peacefulness and this year was the 16th edition.  Iceland continues to come in first place which it has been since 2008.  New Zealand came in second place again.   

  1. Iceland 
  2. New Zealand
  3. Ireland +3
  4. Denmark -1
  5. Austria +2
  6. Portugal -1
  7. Slovenia -3
  8. Czechland +1
  9. Singapore +1
  10. Japan +1
Europe continues to be the most peaceful area with seven of the top ten spots and 14 of the top 20.

No surprise that Russia and Ukraine are two of the five countries with the biggest drop in peacefulness.

The USA dropped one spot to #129, behind Azerbaijan and ahead of Brazil.

The Middle East and North Africa are the least peaceful regions.

For the fifth year in a row, Afghanistan came in last place, ahead of Yemen, Syria, Russia, and South Sudan.

Я за Україну. Я за Україною. Слава Україні  Stojím za Ukrajinou!  I stand with Ukraine. 🇺🇦

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

2022 World Happiness Report

This year is the 10th anniversary of the World Happiness Report. by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network of the United Nations.  The report factors in things like gross domestic product per capita, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make choices, perceived corruption and social support from friends and family. 

For the fifth year in a row, Finland came in first place.

Scandinavia did well as usual with the five countries all placing in the top eight places.  Finland #1, Denmark #2, Iceland #3, Sweden #7 and Norway #8.

Switzerland placed #4.

The BeNeLux countries did well too with the Netherlands #5, Luxembourg #6, and Belgium #19.

Europe is the happiest region with the eight of the top ten spots.  The only non-European countries to crack the top ten are Israel #9 and New Zealand #10.

The USA placed #16 and Czechland placed #18.

Czechland continues to be the happiest of the Visegrád Four with Slovakia #35, Poland #48, and Hungary #51.

Last place goes to Afghanistan, behind Botswana, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Lebanon.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Excalibur Army

Tomáš the Tank isn't the only tank that Czechland is sending to Ukraine.

Excalibur Army was founded in 1995 and they sell military ordnances, ammunition and vehicles.  Their headquarters are in in Šternberk, about 18 km (11 miles) from Olomouc.

Here's a short video I found on YouTube but it's in Czech.

©Excalibur Army

The company has hired 150 people, including Ukrainian refugees, to modernise old military equipment.  Excalibur Army is updating Soviet-era T-72 tanks that will go to help Ukraine.

Here's a short Voice of America piece about it.

©Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Я за Україну. Я за Україною. Слава Україні  Stojím za Ukrajinou!  I stand with Ukraine. 🇺🇦

Sunday, November 27, 2022

1st Advent Sunday

After yesterday's Czechsgiving fiesta, today was spent cleaning up and relaxing.  Today was also the first Advent Sunday.  I can't believe that it's less than a month until Christmas.

Last year, my friend Adriana made me an Advent wreath as a Thanksgiving hostess gift.  I loved it and I was so happy that she did it again this year.  It's lovely and I'm sure that she must have spent a lot of time putting it together.  

This year I received the coolest Advent calendar from Tünde.  Instead of counting down the days until Christmas with a piece of chocolate, I'll be counting down the days with socks.  Oh these wacky Germans.  I can't wait to see how this works.

14th Annual Czechsgiving

Saturday was the 14th annual Czechsgiving fiesta.  It's hard to believe that this was #14.  It's going to be even harder to wrap my head around next year when it's #15. 

This year's turkey was 10,5 kg (23 lbs).  I usually get up around 4am to prep the bird and put it in the oven.  

This time, I prepped the turkey on Friday night so that Saturday morning I just had to put it in the oven.  I have to admit that the extra hour of sleep was nice.  I'll, for sure, do it again next year too.

Tünde was a great little sous-chef.  She made a few of the casseroles on her own.  With just a wee bit of supervision.

I swear that that sooner, rather than later, the kids are going to outnumber the adults.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

More New Quid

Due to Covid-19, the last time I was in the UK was in 2019 for a weekend in Glasgow.  I'd come across the new fiver and the tenner but I haven't come across the new polymer £20 or £50 polymer banknotes.

The new £20 went in to circulation on 20 February 2020.

©Bank of England

The new £50 went in to circulation on 23 June 2021.

The back of the £50 banknote features Alan Turing, the "father of modern computing" whose code breaking is believed to have shortened the war in Europe by at least two years.  In 1952 he was prosecuted for being gay and in 2021 he's featured on the back of the new £50.

Like in Czechland, the British are also retiring their old banknotes.  Here's a short video about it that I found on YouTube.

©Bloomberg Quicktake

Monday, November 21, 2022

Saint Helier, Jersey

Saint Helier is the capital of the Bailiwick of Jersey.  With its almost 36.000 people, St. Helier is home to more than a third of the entire island, and it is the island's only town.  As St. Helier is also the name of the parish, most people just call it "town".

St. Helier, located on the south coast of the island, was founded sometime in the mid-12th century.

King George II gave £200 to St. Helier towards construction of a new harbour.  In gratitude, a statue of him was erected in 1751 at Royal Square.  

The statue is the Jersey's zero milestone from which all distances on the island are measured.

Piquet House was used by the military police unit 1924.  The building hasn't been used for anything for a few years.

The States Assembly is Jersey's parliament building.  It shares a complex with the Royal Court, the Bailiff's Chambers, and the Judicial Greffe.

The Parish Church of St. Helier is an Anglican Church that was first built in the 11th century.  For unknown reasons the church was reconsecrated in 1341.

The Jersey Museum and Art Gallery is also home to the Société Jersiaise.  

The Société Jersiaise was founded in 1873 and is committed to preserving Jèrriais - the Norman French dialect spoken on the island.

An obelisk was built in 1855 to commemorate in memory of Pierre Le Sueur, who was elected constable five times, providing the town with clean water and who died in office form overwork.

The toad monument was erected in 2004 at Charing Cross to commemorate Jersey's 800 years of allegiance to the English Crown.

La Croix de la Reine commemorates the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977.

There was an open market on this site for 78 years before being demolished.  The market reopened in 1882.

Liberation Square used to be the eastern terminus of the Jersey Railway which opened in 1870. 

From the rear of the building, 1.186 English-born residents were deported to Germany in September 1942.  

The Liberation sculpture was unveiled in 1995 on the 50th anniversary the end of the German occupation.

Parade Gardens used to be the drilling grounds for the island's garrisoned troops in the early 19th century.  Today is is a popular park in the centre of St. Helier.

The cenotaph was unveiled in 1923 for Armistice Day to honour those soldiers killed in WWI and later WWII.

All Saints Church is an Anglican Church at Parade Gardens.

Howard Davis Park opened in 1939.  There is a walled rose garden and a pond.

At the other end of the park is the Jersey War Graves Cemetery.

The cemetery was dedicated on 26 November 1943 and has graves of American and British servicemen killed in WWII.

On the south side of the park, next to the cemetery, is St. Luke's Church.  It is an Anglo-Catholic Church.  I've never heard of an Anglican/Catholic Church combo before but I guess it's a thing.

The Jersey Opera House opened in 1900 and the current building is a 1922 renovation of the original.  The theatre reopened in 2000.

Havre des Pas is the part of the coastline that was historically used for ship building.  

Today it is beach with some shops and private residences along the coast.

The Havre des Pas Bathing Pool was built by the Jersey Swimming Club and it opened in 1895.

Fort Regent was originally built as a Napoleonic Fort at the top of Mont de la Ville.  It is currently a sports and leisure venue.  Glacis field is a grassy field on the south end with views of the harbour and of the castle.

Elizabeth Castle is a 16th-century castle that sits on a tidal island off the coast of the town.  Today it is a museum.

Freedom Tree
was unveiled by Queen in 2005.  It was commissioned to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Jersey's liberation.

Victoria Pier

There was lots to see and do in St. Helier but I wasn't here at the best time.  Tourist season finishes as the end of October so I wasn't able to visit the Jersey War Tunnels because they don't open again until March.  It would have been nice to take a boat trip out to les Minquiers but this too is only available during season.  I'm really glad that I was able to take the island tour on Friday.  I guess that a return visit is in order.