I love to observe societal processes, today and in times long past. Having begun from afar, by acquiring a doctorate in history from Cambridge, I have gradually worked my way to studying the public life of my society, looking for solutions to policy problems and major attitude shifts. Since 2004, I work at the Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS in Riga, because this is a place where I can indulge my passion for controversy.
An ardent individualist, I do not shun disagreement with the majority. Authority is my greatest allergy. So far I have not discovered a person with whose opinion I am disinclined to argue - with the important exception of my two cats, Tullius Philip and Gareth.
Some weeks ago, strolling without a clear purpose through the not-so-crowded rooms of the local history museum in Braunschweig, Germany, I happened across an extraordinary document. I do not know how I brought myself to start reading it. It was printed around 1730 in that peculiar Gothic type which seems to have been designed specially to scare away lazy 21st-century readers. All I can say, the more I understood of it the more I congratulated myself on having had the courage to start. Lasi
Sarah Palin has now had some 140 hours of fame and counting. Not a bad record for a former mayor of a town of some 9000 inhabitants (for those who read me in Latvia, it is approximately 3 times more than my favourite town of Saulkrasti, but much, much less than, say, Jurmala), who became governor of Alaska in 2006. Lasi
Darbs tiecas izpētīt pastāvošās skolotāju attieksmes pret dzīvi un skolēniem, konstatēt tajās cieņas un tolerances potenciālu un akcentēt labo praksi un pedagoģijas zinātnieku ieteikumus. Lasi
Mediju un saeimas plenārsēžu monitoringa mērķis ir ar teksta analīzes palīdzību identificēt gadījumus, kad tiek izmantotas izslēdzošās (deleģitimējošās) un iekļaujošās (leģitimiējosās) stratēģijas attiecībā uz dažādām sabiedrības grupām. Izslēdzošo stratēģiju lietošanas gadījumā tiek iedarbināts tas, ko diskursa pētnieki sauc par ‘pieejas kontroles’ mehānismu, caur runas struktūrām veidojot varas attiecības un izslēdzot oponentus un ‘nevēlamas’ grupas. Iekļaujošo stratēģiju gadījumā izteikumu autori izmanto citus valodas mehānismus, kas norāda uz grupas ieguldījumu sabiedrībā vai tās pakārtoto stāvokli, un cenšas leģitimēt grupas tiesības uz klātbūtni publiskajā telpā un politikā. Lasi
Living in a post-communist country, one gets used to hate speech on the Internet, especially when it comes to issues that were totally taboo in the Soviet times. Anyone professing an unpopular view on sensitive topics encounters hate speech on Latvian Internet sites and probably comes to terms with it, just as one can get used to traffic jams and bad weather. There is one type of hate speech, however, that should not be taken as a minor nuisance - and that is incitement to violence. Lasi
Yesterday the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, an expert body of the Council of Europe, held a round table in Riga with a bunch of local experts. The speakers, drawn from various government institutions, independent research centres and NGOs, presented their views on the anti-dicsimination policies and legal provisions in Latvia, occasionally pointing to the areas where there are problems. It would have been a fairly innocent, routine event, if not for the sudden appearance of the Latvian MP Jānis Šmits. Lasi
For the last two weeks, I have kept turning this information in my mind and complaining to myself about yet another example of inequitable education policy in the countries that once made up the USSR. Perhaps quiet anger is inspiring for social action, but keeping it to oneself is not constructive. Therefore, here we go. Lasi
Yesterday, I visited Zagreb Cathedral. In a discreet corner close to the altar, close to where Croatian visitors are crowding to see the life-size effigy of a popular saint in a crystal coffin, a marble plate with commemorative text caught my eye. It told me that in 1971, the remains of two heroes, who had died for the freedom of Crotia, had been laid to rest in their native soil - three hundred years after their execution in Vienna. Lasi
Religion is a tricky topic to raise in a conversation, let alone in a blog. Nevertheless, people keep raising it in a number of interesting, occasionally irritating, often boring, but sometimes truly exciting contexts. Last year, on a site for aspiring writers called Litopia, I was told off by a forum moderator for asking one of the members about his/ her attitude towards Opus Dei. The question was purely academic, but my God... what an uproar it caused. Later I realised that the reason for that may have been the hypothetic possibility that some publisher or agent with whom the website worked/ had worked/ could work in the future might - just might - belong to Opus Dei. Lasi
Ja skolas darbotos kā nelielas demokrātijas, kas piešķir tiesības tajās studējošajiem indivīdiem un ļauj viņiem justies vienlīdzīgiem un drošiem, nebūtu nekādas vajadzības ar karoti iebarot skolēniem dogmu. Lasi