February 11, 2009

The head of Azerbaijan’s Air Force was shot outside his home today and died in hospital. An Azerbaijani friend says Rzayev was “very professional.” I don’t know how much the average American knows about USAF General Norton Schwartz or the civilian secretary, but at least it suggests that he hadn’t heard any negative rumors about the man. I note this only to illustrate someone’s first reaction to the incident, not to imply anything. Not much else yet, although the BBC has an informative write-up.

A brief language/translation aside: Curiously,’s summary of the attack and Rzayev’s death described doctors at the hospital to which he was brought as having “failed to save his life.” I don’t know the Azerbaijani phrase for this kind of event, but it was sort of jarring to read it that way in English.


Plouffe Pops By Baku

February 9, 2009

David Plouffe is visiting Baku, meeting President Gonzo, and speaking to a “government mouthpiece” about democracy.  Mind you, there is a referendum on doing away with pesky presidential term limits (among other things) coming up on March 18.  In Azerbaijan, you only need a majority of 25 percent of total voters to acquiesce to make massive changes to the Constitution. Thanks for stopping by, David!

UPDATE: Plouffe has announced he will donate his speaking fee – ca. $50,000 – to “groups advocating for democracy” in the region (goeresen, who will be helping him pick them out?) and “sharing his speech” with opposition groups. According to reports, he was unaware of the fact that the Washington lobbyists who arranged his trip have connections with the Azerbaijani government…until en route to Baku. Fine, it’s not like everyone in the world has heard of Azerbaijan and its somewhat sordid electoral history, and he’s a busy guy, but isn’t this the kind of thing you could get your assistant’s assistant to check out for you? A little wikipedia action maybe?

I Totally Forgot I Had A Blog…

February 6, 2009

So, I set up this little blogaroo apparently believing that it would write itself.  Alas, the internets are not yet that advanced.  An underlying reason for my neglect has also been that I don’t really see why my having a blog would be the least bit interesting, but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone else.  So, a renewed effort starts today.  After all, I  need a record of my Caucasus misadventure.  Posterity demands it.  I’m not sure what I will be blogging about, especially given that I’ll soon be looking for gainful employment in a pretty dismal economy, but…biz goererik.


October 12, 2008

Since arriving in Azerbaijan, I’ve decided that there’s a lot of potential in Baku-specific calendars.  Cats of Baku, Lada-Fruit Vendors of Baku, Apocalyptic Trash Heaps of Baku (see banner), OSHA-Violation Nightmares of Baku, GOTV-So OSCE Will Leave Us Alone Posters of Baku, and Baku Beauty Salons for Men all seem like possibilities with real appeal, albeit to disparate and pretty narrow demographics.  

Better yet, perhaps I’ll assemble photographic illustrations from a variety of countries and put together a series that digitally embody various themes that qualify as Challenges of Our Times, such as: Global Rich-Poor Gaps; Rape of the Earth; 21st Century Autocracy: Architectural-Human Consequences (City Planning Edition); Corruption & Construction (Injury and Collapse); Shamocracy Stylebook: Autocrats and Dictators’ Portrait and PR Preferences.   

Should adequate bandwidth to upload photos be somehow obtainable, I’ll illustrate.

Sojournaling in the Most Polluted City on Earth

August 18, 2008