Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Insolent Czechia plans to double reliance on coal

For Czech readers only: My article about the IPCC report in the October 2013 Václav Klaus Institute Newsletter is now out: PDF

The second edition of The Elegant Universe (in my translation) will be out in 2-3 weeks. More info about the book.
(Yes, I wrote Czechia: I've been using the word at least for 9 years, since the beginning of this blog. Last week, President Zeman visited Israel and praised Shimon Peres for his usage of the word Czechia - which isn't hard for Peres because the common Hebrew word for Czechia sounds exactly the same. I don't expect that foreigners will actually start to use the short apolitical name but Zeman and your humble correspondent did their best.)

In July 2013, the Czech government finally approved the complete end for subsidies for all "renewable energy" projects after the end of 2013. We've been obedient toadies for quite some time. Despite our being a medium-size EU country, we have become the #3 photovoltaic EU power in absolute numbers at some point. The price was substantial and everyone could realize that we simply didn't want increasing energy prices, arguments who pays for all of that, and so on. So the plan to avoid all similar "renewable" hysterias in the future seems to be a completely general consensus of all the political parties, including those that otherwise suck and that will win the snap elections in less than 2 weeks.

Simon Lincoln Reader wrote a pretty amusing reaction to this "against the stream" behavior of Czechia, and less visibly Poland, in a South African newspaper:
‘Insolent’ Czechs look to coal for energy

Already the beginning made me laugh out loud.
OUR perceptions, in Johannesburg at least, of the Czech Republic are skewed. We forget Pilsner Urquell, Bata Shoes and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra as our minds race to peroxide-blonde bouncers in a steroid rage and heavyset women reporters holding microphones up to the mouths of insensate gangsters emerging from courtrooms after yet another tepid bollocking. We think of the murdered corpses of naughty or just unfortunate men, or of cagefighting or indiscriminate mockeries of justice. There is no talk of Franz Kafka, Milan Kundera or Vaclav Havel — but there is no talk of Czech coal either.
That's a funnily symmetric situation because our perceptions in Czechia are skewed, too. When you say "South Africa" and "Johannesburg" and ask us what do the words make us think about, we would probably also answer "gangsters" – whether or not the latest gangster who was shot in South Africa was also an associate of Radovan Krejčíř [Cray-Cheers], a Czech fugitive criminal and entrepreneur (not to be confused with Viktor Kožený, a TRF's URL contributor LOL), and so on.

The second thing we think about when you say "South Africa" is ironically Pilsner Urquell because the brewery 0.5 mile from my home now belongs to the SABMiller empire, a British-based transnational corporation that was founded in South Africa. So we say that the brewery belongs to the South Africans – and sometimes blame some (mostly hypothetical) "recent drops in quality" on them.

At any rate, Mr Reader points out that we're the small Davids not afraid to face the Palestinian bully, Goliath, who would like to do exactly the opposite things. Ex-president Klaus' words are mentioned in the last paragraph.


  1. Boss, are you up fror an all-expenses-paid trip to New York in November? The Calvin Coolidge Foundation is accepting submissions of blog posts (< 800 words) written between 1/1/2011 and 8/31/2013. I would nominate one of your political posts but they accept only self-submissions.

  2. Hi Lubos,
    Driving between your capital Praha (Prague) and Mnichovo (Munich) last week I did indeed notice a rather large extent of solar panels on the Czechian side even by German standards. By the way In Germany one also hears the terms 'Czechei' (analogous to the former 'Czechoslovakei' and 'Czechien' (following a common German convention for most country names ending in '-ia'.

    Any comments?

  3. Sorry, the actual German spellings should be Tschechei, Tschechoslowakei, and Tschechien. I have also been told that the term Tschechei is better avoided as it was used in Nazi Germany as a short version of the official 'Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia'.

  4. You forgot to mention another "against the stream" thing: we are about to become a military power. The Poles are, of course, taking the lead:


  5. Dear Coldish,

    the "respectful" German name for the Czech lands is "Tschechien". Tschechei is meant to be pejorative but the meaning of the word is exactly the same thing.

    Frankly, I don't sufficiently understand or feel the spirit of the German language in my blood to understand why one of these two similar words sounds so much more pejorative than the other. As you say, Tschechei is a shortened Czechoslovakia - Germany wanted to assure itself that it can cut Czechoslovakia itself into pieces, like a butcher. That's OK. But Czechia and Česko are shortened Czechoslovakia and Československo, too, yet these words don't sound pejorative in Czech or English. So I don't understand where the sentiment comes from. Perhaps, the tradition of the Nazi propaganda is still being transmitted to the currently alive generations. Almost all the people who were already perceiving the Nazi propaganda when it was live are already dead.

    Yes, we're flooded by solar panels. Per area, we're more flooded than Germany. But the boom has been over for a few years.


  6. Since Tchécoslovaquie is not any more, your Czech Foreign Affair Ministry has asked us French to use the word "Tchéquie" only as informal language. In any official situations we are supposed to say "République Tchèque".

  7. I lived in Nordrhein-Westfalen for about 3 years and never heard "Tschechei", only Tschechien. Now I have been living in Vienna and it is the same, only Tschechien.
    BTW, the Czech (and probably some other slavic languages like Polish) name for Germany is "Německo". It comes from the word "němý" which means someone who cannot speak (stumm). Němci (= die Stummen) :-)

  8. What the Viennese say and what you understand are two different things. They speak Insult, interspersed with snippets of German, and you only get the snippets. They insult themselves, other Viennese, non-Viennese Austrians, Germans, and especially Tschuschn like you. But you wouldn't know since they smile jovially and act in the most pleasant manner all the while. Now excuse me while I go unload the Tschuschn-Fernseher (= washing machine).

  9. About that you are right. The Austrian German (and especially wienerisch and niederösterreichisch) are terrible. Even bayerisch (which might be the worst German dialect) is Hochdeutsch in comparison to wienerisch. But my Austrian collegues explained to me that according to the dialect you can pretty much immediately guess the social class. The higher the class, the better the language.

    You might also be right about the Austrian mentality which is not very pleasant (they are kind of double-faced). I liked Germans better. But just as about anywhere in the world, you can find nice people even in Vienna.

    And the funny thing is that half of the Viennese have some Czech roots.


  10. A little off topic but given the NATO I thought I might slip it in.

    I hope you won't consider it impolite of me to mention it, but Polish fans booed our anthem at the England v Poland football match tonight. Given that the vast majority (at least 2/3rds) of them are now living here without any democratic mandate from Britons, I was a little surprised. We didn't boo theirs, of course, but then theirs was played first so the opportunity to return the favour was lost to us.

    It seems the party isn't going very well. Do you think we should count the silverware?

  11. As in, "Die Tschechoslowakei ist dazu da, um im Falle von einem Kriege, die deutsche Luftfahrtindustrie mit Bomben anzugreifen?"

  12. I can't believe anyone would prefer the harsh, guttural Hochdeutsch to dialects as charming as Viennese or Bavarian. They are much softer and easier to listen to. If the Viennese in "The Third Man" were changed to Hochdeutsch, it would completely ruin the movie.

  13. The result of Germany's "Greens" forcing the shutdown of nuclear plants in that country can be seen at,

    In other words, they're building coal plants hand over fist. I'm sure the Poles downwind will love that solution to the "radioactive hazard," since coal is several parts per million uranium and thorium. See, for example,


  14. Thank you kindly for that lengthy reply. For the avoidance of doubt, I mean that, and I really didn't intend to put you out and take up your time. Your response, however, is very interesting and raises a lot of issues. I'd like to come back on this, or some of it (if you're willing, and Luboš permitting?).

    Yes, I was being somewhat sarcastic but I hope it wasn't perceived in an aggressive or (overly) offensive way. [You didn't suggest it was — I'm just saying.] A bit of a cheap shot? Well, y-e-s, but not too much — more like a spot of opportunistic point scoring, with some meat. The temptation was too much for me. :)

    I'm pretty tied up for a while so don't have the time right now to reciprocate. Incidentally, I'm not unsympathetic but I would like to argue this. From my point of view, your arguments are 'implicitly loaded' too. :) But this always the case with any discussion.

    Again, thank you.