October’s Commentary: A Digest

For the most part, the issue is disappointing, with two long articles dedicated to bitching about the supposed dishonesty of more successful journalists, an uninspired article on the results of the most recent war in Gaza, and an article on Obama that put me to sleep on paragraph 4.

However, the issue was redeemed for me by a brilliant piece on the efforts to bring 20,000 Jewish refugee children to the US during the Holocaust. The article was written by Robert Slayton and reveals why the attempts to bring even such a tiny number of these refugees to the US failed. There was never any talk of spending even a tiny amount of state money on the refugees. Charitable organizations volunteered to take care of the Jewish kids. However, there were powerful organizations that opposed the plan and fought to prevent charities from being charitable to Jewish kids.

When the issue was debated in the Senate, the US region that showed the greatest hospitality to Jewish refugees was the Midwest. But even there, only 1/3 of senators voted in favor of the plan. After a protracted battle during which an enormous amount of anti-Semitic and vicious statements was made, the bill failed and the kids were not saved.

The issue ends with a great article arguing that Rand Paul is actually a total Liberal. It seems that Rand Paul stinks so badly that now Liberals and Conservatives are sticking him into each other’s arms and yelling, “No, you take him! No, he’s yours!”

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Poetic Justice

Christophe de Margerie, a French oil magnate and a close buddy of Putin, was killed in an accident in Moscow 3 days ago when his airplane collided with a snowplough whose driver was extremely drunk.

It’s hard to be sorry for a freakazoid who died as a result of his own choice to keep kissing Putin’s ass. It is very significant that he died in an airplane, too. These rich nasty criminals forgot all too soon about the passenger airplane shot down by Putin’s terrorists. 

Why Everybody Hates Americans

A large group of elderly people in Russia was swindled out of their savings, pensions and apartments by a group of con artists.

During a TV show taped to warn people about this scam, the newscaster asks one of the victims, “You don’t seem very worried. Are you still hoping that these criminals will give your money back?”

“That doesn’t matter,” the old gentleman responds with supreme indifference. “If they don’t return the money, I will go to the embassy of the United States, tell them what happened, and they will give me the money.”

“But what does the United States have to do with any of this?” people in the audience ask. “What makes you think they will give you money?”

“Because that’s what they do,” the old gentleman waves off the concerned people. “There is somebody in a neighboring town who got a condo from them. And they give money. They’ve got lots.”

All of the attempts to get the gentleman to talk about persecuting the scam artists who robbed him are met with a wall of stony indifference. He only wants to talk about the Americans who will give him back the  money stolen by Russian criminals “because that’s what those Americans do.”

When the US Embassy fails to give him money, the sad old gentleman will join the army of people around the world who feel betrayed by Americans.

A Documentary on Holodomor

Since people wanted stories on the USSR, I can offer a documentary:

I warn you that this is very very disturbing and the images are graphic and tragic.

The people of Spain still can’t get over the 500,000 people who died in the Civil War. In the same decade, Ukraine – whose population is the same as Spain’s – had 10,000,000 people slaughtered. Spaniards are talking about their war, studying it, publishing novels and academic studies about it, trying to process the trauma.

Ukrainians dared to mention the genocide timidly and a couple of times which angered the country who perpetrated the genocide against them. After years of ruthlessly and cruelly mocking the genocide in Ukraine (the 10 million of dead Ukrainians were the butt of endless jokes and stand-up comedy routines in Russia since Putin came to power), the Russians outlawed any discussion of the genocide by scholars. Even that wasn’t enough, so Russia decided to start a new genocide of Ukrainians to distract everybody’s attention from the one in the 1930s.

Back in 1930s, happy, chirpy, fat Western Lefties traveled to the USSR in droves, publishing gushing accounts of how ecstatically happy everybody there was. Today, happy, chirpy, fat Western Lefties don’t even go to the trouble of traveling. They know for a fact that there is a civil war in Ukraine and that Putin is a good guy because. . . well, he’s just got to be a good guy, right? Any other possibility would be too hard to process.

My Family Farm

I want to tell you about my favorite online game because it isn’t just a game, it’s a social phenomenon.

There are several of these farm games, and millions of people are playing them all over the world. I have 114 Facebook game partners (whom I’ve never met, of course) and we play together. Together means precisely that. We don’t play against each other. The game is completely non-competitive.

In the game, you create a farm, grow crops and fruit trees, buy machines to produce food, toys and bouquets of flowers. You also have a kitchen where you make dishes with the food you produce. There is a pond where you catch seafood.

If you help your game friends, you get prizes, and the better other players do, the more prizes you get. There are challenges where players get prizes but the supply of prizes is unlimited. You don’t have to worry that other people win everything and you will be left with nothing. Prizes include cute little squirrels, penguins and toucans. You can decorate your farm and send gifts to other players. Sending gifts and responding to requests for help is rewarded.

There is no space in this game for anger, competition or resentment. There is also no possibility of losing. If you don’t complete a challenge, a new one appears immediately. A while ago, we all observed Ramadan on the farm and everybody got prizes. Now we are ready to celebrate Halloween.

This is a game for busy people who can’t play for 2 hours straight. There isn’t anything to do in the game for more than 15 minutes at a time. You can stay away for months and then gone back, having lost nothing. There are no leaderboards or score charts.

The players are overwhelmingly in their 30s and 40s. These are people who are busily constructing their careers and come to the game for a brief respite from the world of competitiveness, speed, and stress. These are also people who miss the crops and the natural cycles around which the lives of their ancestors revolved.

Technology Is Grand

So do you remember this academic from Spain who wrote the article I was going to write? I stalked him on his blog and on Twitter, and now we are talking online.

Technology has been vindicated in my eyes.

Mortal Offense

So it turns out that other people in Vine were offered to review the new biography of Stalin while I wasn’t. This is both wrong and stupid. Who is better qualified than me to review this book, seriously??

In the meanwhile, I’m getting offered endless Christian romance novels. Of which I obviously never bought or reviewed any in my life.

I feel very slighted. I never get upset when people receive computers or expensive gadgets in Vine (because I have received a fair share of them myself and can’t complain), but a biography of Stalin??? I want it! Now!

Terrorism in Ottawa

Jesus, people, did you hear what happened in Ottawa? I’m in class all day, so I missed those news altogether. 

My first instinct is that this is connected to Canada’s decision to support the war against ISIS.

Psychoanalysis: How I Lost My Fear of Dogs

Of course, there is nothing wrong with disliking dogs, cats, birds, or earthworms. (Although, to be honest, I’m convinced there must be something deeply amiss about people who do not adore earthworms.) There is no need to analyze a mild dislike for anything or anybody. However, when an emotion begins to interfere with your normal daily existence, it’s a sign for you to address the issue.

I didn’t simply dislike dogs (which, yet again, is a normal, healthy thing to do). I detested them passionately. Seeing a dog from a distance of 1,000 feet would be enough for me to disrupt my daily walk and run home in a huff. Obviously, this is neither healthy nor normal. 

So here is a reenactment of how I solved that problem.

Analyst: When you are walking down a road and you see a dog, what feelings do you experience? Imagine yourself walking right now. Suddenly, you see a dog. What is it that you feel right now?

Me: Anger! I feel anger and resentment.

Analyst: Who are you angry with?

Me: Dog owners. [A long rant about the inconsiderate dog owners follows but I will spare you having to go through it.]

Analyst: Stay in this emotion of anger and resentment towards the dog owners. What word comes to mind that you could use to describe the dog owners?

Me: Traitors! They are traitors!

Analyst: Whom did they betray?

Me: [A long rant about how I totally understand that this is completely irrational because I know that dog owners didn't betray anybody.]

Analyst: That’s OK, we are not trying to address the rational here. Whom did the dog owners betray?

Me: [Another long rant about how I totally understand how weird I sound, etc.] Me. They betrayed me.

Analyst: How did they betray you?

Me: [Yet another long rant, etc.] They betrayed me by having a dog.

Analyst: Did anybody have a dog among your friends or family when you were growing up?

Me: No, nobody did.

Analyst: Go back to the feeling of being betrayed by somebody with a dog. Who was that person?

Me: I can’t think of anybody.

Analyst: Stay with the feeling. Remember another situation when you felt this way.

Me: Well, actually, I felt this way when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I felt the same anger and resentment.

Analyst: OK. Who had diabetes in your family?

Me: My grandfather did.

Analyst: How did your grandfather feel about dogs?

Me: Oh. Oh, oh, oh. I cannot believe I forgot this. [A long rant on how stupid I am for having forgotten this and wasted so much time, etc.]

Analyst: It’s OK, tell me, what was it about your grandfather and dogs?

Me: When I was little, I really loved my grandparents. But then my grandmother died of cancer at the age of 54. And my grandfather remarried. For some reason, my mother felt mortally offended by his remarriage and did everything she could to distance me from my grandfather. My grandfather and his second wife bought a dog. And my mother kept telling me, “You see? Your grandpa doesn’t love you. He betrayed you for a dog. He now loves the dog more than you.” I was 7, and I think I kind of believed that.

After this insight, my terror of dogs started to recede. I’m not planning on buying a dog or donating money to dog shelters but at least I can now be around a dog without freaking out.

Of course, now everybody who is reading this feels vaguely cheated. “And you needed 31 years and 94 hours of psychoanalysis to arrive at this huge revelation?” people will ask. “This was all completely obvious!”

The problem is, however, that the roots of the problems you have been struggling with for decades are just as obvious to everybody who isn’t you as my problem with dogs is obvious to everybody who isn’t me. We cannot access our own subconscious. This is why all talk of self-analysis is bunk. Even if somebody had told me why I detested dogs, I would have immediately forgotten, rejected, or dismissed this information.