Things of Latvia: "Tehnisku iemeslu dēļ"
If you happened to notice there was no ''Thing of Latvia'' last week, and you were in the mood to guess why, it would be reasonable to speculate that we at LSM were ill, lazy, drunk or out of ideas. Such surmises might be correct in one, several or all respects. However, we could quite easily maintain our dignity and reputation by answering that there was no ''Thing of Latvia'' last week tehnisku iemeslu dēļ or due to technical reasons.
Things of Latvia: Clapping
A great deal of research has been done on the behavior of crowds, their psychopathology and their tendency to express the more regressive aspects of the human psyche, but as far as I am aware, none of these studies have focused on clapping in Latvia.
Pope quiz
Pope Francis visits Latvia on September 24. The day has been declared a public holiday by the Latvian parliament. So here's a quiz about our visitor, the history of the Catholic church in this part of the world and some other Popetastic facts.
Viewpoint: House sitting
A couple of weeks ago our colleagues at the LSM Latvian-language service unveiled a new project they had been working on for a long time: a multiple choice quiz devised to give voters in the forthcoming Saeima elections some idea of their general political affiliation.
Things of Latvia: Sighing
A bar-room acquaintance once told me that while travelling many years ago in Eastern Anatolia, he made the mistake of "tut-tutting" during a conversation. While a local was complaining at length about the difficulties of life in a remote village, he delivered what may even have been a tut rather than a full tut-tut as a gesture of sympathy and understanding at the many trials with which life likes to torture us.
On The Peculiarities of Latvian Drinking Culture
LSM brings you another piece from the #3 issue of the Centenary Magazine made by the culture website and paid for by the Culture Ministry. In this one, poet and culture connoisseur Aivars Madris looks at Latvian drinking culture as recorded in local literature.
Ten historical and new Latvian ''start-ups''
We bring you another piece from the #3 Centenary Magazine made by the portal and paid for by the Culture Ministry. This article by Jeļena Solovjova looks at ten Latvian startups - from the early 20th century to the present day - unearthing Latvia's diverse manufacturing history. 
Who's afraid of Rīga's Moscow suburb?
In cooperation with the culture portal, LSM is publishing pieces from their recently published centenary magazine. This piece probes one of Rīga's most colorful neighborhoods, the Maskavas priekšpilsēta or Moscow suburb. With a dark past and high crime rate in the 80s and 90s, it remains very much a "a city within a city", as described in this neighborhood profile by Agija Ābiķe-Kondrāte.
Things of Latvia: City cats
Seemingly without care and without anyone to care about them, street cats are legion across Latvia's cities.
Things of Latvia: Hero trees
In the past we have written at length about the mighty dižkoki or "great trees" of Latvia. Huge, majestic, long-lived and (and if you believe all the way) serving as repositories of folkloric power, they are rightly venerated.
Things of Latvia: Roberto Meloni
Journalists passing through Latvia occasionally ask me who is the most influential person in the country. I have little hesitation in replying: "Roberto Meloni."
Things of Latvia: Pateicības raksts
"This is to certify..." begins a typical Pateicības raksts, or, perhaps the marginally inferior "This is to recognize..." or "This is to acknowledge..."
Can you answer these 10 questions about Baltic art?
April 10 sees the opening of a major exhibition at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris dedicated to the art of the Baltic states. Titled Âmes Sauvages: Le symbolisme dans l’art des pays Baltes. (Wild Souls: Symbolism in the art of the Baltic states), it runs until July 15 and forms one of the cornerstones of Estonia's, Latvia's and Lithuania's international celebrations of their founding centenaries.
Aftermath: What happened to the Latvian Legionnaires after the war?
Discussions about the activities of Latvian soldiers in World War II are extensive but less is written about the post-war fates of combatants. While those who fought - willingly or unwillingly - for the Red Army were lauded as heroes by occupying Soviet forces, the fate of former
Latvian Legionnaires was quite different: incarceration in filtration camps and camps in the Gulag and decades of restrictions on work and various other aspects life.
A guide to the rest of Latvia's non-resident banks
Latvia's non-resident banks -- financial institutions with a large proportion of clients based in other countries -- are attracting a lot of international attention at the moment, for all the wrong reasons.
Things of Latvia: Candles
It is a small step from being a sun worshipper to being a fire worshipper, which may go some way to explaining the popularity of candles (sveces) in Latvia. In summer there is the sun. In winter there is no sun capable of burning you very severely, so we must rely on candles.
Things of Latvia: Buying booze at gas stations
In Latvia, where a chain of round-the-clock liquor stores is branded Fuel (Degviela), it's no surprise that gas stations, too, cater to people wishing to tank up in more ways than one. 
Things of Latvia: Not being kick-ass
"You can't please all of the people all of the time," Abraham Lincoln said (quoting poet John Lydgate) back in the days when American presidents were renowned for their wisdom, broad reading habits and their way with words.
Things of Latvia: ''MR'' registration plates

Foreigners love to moan about Latvia's roads and road users. The dangerous drivers, the disrepair, the lack of signs, the inability to parallel park. Let's imagine I've written all those pieces and you've read them and found them a bit disappointing.

Things of Latvia: Saying you like things a bit more than you do

Boiled eggs, mayonnaise, marinated gherkins: all of them I can eat, and all of them I don't particularly like. Combine them and you have the basic chemistry of the pre-eminent Latvian salad, rasols, so it is fitting that rasols was the thing that introduced me to an important but hidden concept within Latvian society: pretending to like things a bit more than you really do.

Pill pushers prey on public with fictitious advertising

Pensioners and others with health problems are being targeted by unethical advertising campaigns in which fictitious medical professionals recommend the use of humble vitamin pills to cure everything from deafness to parasitic infestation, an LSM investigation reveals.

Mr. Riga from Aleppo

Nawras Riga, whose surname is shared with the Latvian capital, is a gray-haired radiologist in Syria's Aleppo. He wears a ring, almost two centuries old, on his finger. It's amber, and it's a souvenir from Latvia, passed from generation to generation in his family. He is also the owner of Riga Palace, a hotel in Aleppo, the only one currently kept open in the war-torn city. 

Things of Latvia: School Markets

There's a peculiar tradition on Miķeļi (September 29), known in English as Michaelmas, for kids to bring homemade trinkets, food and other things to school for sale. It could be seen as an attempt to instill entrepreneurial spirit among young people, but wherever there are children involved, things are bound to slide off course.