Update on Ukraine

Things are getting really bad in Ukraine. I mean, REALLY bad. I can’t take in the news any longer but every time I do catch a snippet of a news digest from Ukraine in my blog roll, all I want to do is crawl into a corner and wail, loudly and unproductively.

Two Ukrainian officers blew themselves up with a grenade to avoid being captured by the Russians. Because they know what the Russians do with POWs.

People in Mariupol are digging trenches around their city. Because they know Putin wants them. In fucking 2014 they are digging trenches.

The Russian journalist who reported on the burials of Russian soldiers killed in combat in Ukraine was viciously beaten up in Russia. The families of the fallen Russian soldiers are eagerly agreeing bit to mourn the dead in exchange for some miserable handout.

The Ukrainian army could fight the terrorists. And it did, and it was winning. But now that the regular troops of the Russian army have crossed the border in massive numbers, it’s all useless. All Russia has is the army. And it’s enormous.

And who’s to say that if Putin is frustrated any more than he’s been in Ukraine that he won’t order a nuclear strike against the Western part of Ukraine?

In the meanwhile, Obama still can’t even bring himself to refer to what Russia is doing as war and invasion. That’s all anybody is asking of him at this point, but even this small relief is not to be granted to Ukrainians.

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When It All Went to Hell in Russia

And now let me tell you when Russians doomed their project of establishing democracy to failure. If you are not from the FSU, you don’t know this stuff. Nobody writes about this, there is no interesting analysis anywhere. Only the fortunate readers of Clarissa’s Blog have access to this information.

In 1996, a crucial election was taking place in Russia. Yeltsin was running for president but it was becoming increasingly obvious that he would lose. The majority of people in Russia hated capitalism, hated the new society, couldn’t adapt to the market economy, and wanted to go back to what they had before 1991.

Yeltsin’s opponent was the leader of Russia’s Communist Party. All of the progressives (called Democrats because they stood for democracy) in the country were terrified he would win and then take the country back to the Soviet model. The very existence of democracy was at stake. So what was there to do? Well, the answer seemed obvious: falsify the elections.

This was a very paradoxical situation: democracy had to be saved by trampling on the most basic principle of democracy. Everybody knew that this was wrong, but then it was for such a great cause!

“Just this once!” people said, argued, whispered, thought. “We will do it just once but after we repel the threat of a Communist rising to power we will forever and ever uphold the principles of democracy.”

The election was falsified, Yeltsin won. The falsification was very obvious, blatant, and public. But the purpose was achieved, democracy’s survival was guaranteed, and the people of Russia could from now on dedicate themselves to conducting honest and clean elections. Right?

Wrong.

There is a price to pay for everything. And a tiny act of cheating today – even for a very good cause – will bring major consequences in its stead that you will be dealing with for a long time to come.

Russia’s Democrats who falsified the elections back in 1996 didn’t manage to save democracy. Just the opposite. Yeltsin lost his legitimacy and his power and just a couple of years later was forced to step down and appoint as his successor an ugly little KGB agent whose name nobody in Russia even knew.

Today, of course, we all know this KGB agent. His falsified elections have become famous world over. But many people don’t know that the horrible mess Russia is now began with a single act of dishonesty committed for a very, very noble purpose.

The Western Choice

There is no “pro-Israel West”, “pro-Palestine West” or “pro-Ukraine West.” There is only “pro-chewing contentedly in an ecstasy of consumerism West.” 

Mind you, I’m all for “pro-chewing contentedly in an ecstasy of consumerism” as a way of life. It’s a very respectable life choice. But it bugs me when this choice masks as anything other than what it is. 

We Are Chic

We are a very chic little town. My hair-dresser, the one who works at a salon next to the gastropub, is an art conoisseuse and, together with her third husband, has amassed a large collection of abstract paintings and Mexican pottery.

But I am even more chic because she didn’t know what a Steampod is and I not only know it but have been using one for months. So even though I’m only on my second husband, I think I win in terms of sophistication.

Living with a Russian

I don’t need an alarm clock because every morning I’m awakened by the sounds of very loud tinkling. The sound is N moving a spoon in his teacup very aggressively. This is a big house and I’m hard of hearing but still I hear the spoon every morning.

These are the costs of living with a Russian. At the same time, he gets very alarmed – as, I believe, only a Russian man can do – when he sees that I don’t have a bouquet of fresh flowers around me at all times. So I’m willing to overlook the spoon.

By the way, every time we go to a restaurant or a store together and answer the inevitable question about where we are from, waiters and cashiers look very alarmed, so we have to explain that we are not planning to get into a fight because we have already hashed out the Ukraine / Russia situation.

A Lovely Gift Goes Much Deeper

Clarissa:

And now let’s head over to the linked blog and read something nice about me.

Thank you, dear Leah Jane, and happy Birthday!

Originally posted on Princess Buttered on Both Sides:

Is there anything more perfect than a book about female bildungsroman for a 25th birthday gift to me? I hardly think so. So, I’d like to thank dear Clarissa for her wonderful gift to me, her latest book, autographed with an encouraging message inside. 

Clarissa has been much more than a fellow blogger to me for several years now. She’s been a friend, a mentor, an inspiration, and the big sister that I never had but always longed for. Throughout these difficult years as I moved to Canada and faced a number of difficulties, she’s been a constant presence reminding me that it is always worth it to improve your life and keep hold of your dream and ambitions. 

I can think of no better genre for her to write about than bildungsroman, because she is a model of living a bildung, and has inspired me towards constant emotional, intellectual, and…

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The New Fad

Is anybody aware of this new fad of sending video emails? Among all the fads I’ve encountered recently, this one is the most obnoxious.

In case you aren’t yet aware of it, here is what it’s like. Say, a colleague wants to inform you about a meeting. So instead of sending an email saying, “The meeting will take place in room 11 at 11:11 on 11/11,” s/he sends an email saying, “Please follow the link to this video to find out when and where the meeting takes place.”

So you have to leave your email client, go to YouTube, sit through the commercial and the video, and then write down the information by hand because copy-pasting into Google Calendar” is not possible, then go back to the email client – only to find a new link to a new video correcting a mistake in the first video.

Do you know how many emails I get each day? I worked 12 hours straight yesterday and 13 hours the day before. And I’m not complaining, I like work, work makes me happy. But I detest it when people cannibalize my time with these faddy inventions that don’t contribute anything to my life.

Two Options for Jews

I hope that all of the people who keep expressing themselves on the subject of Israel realize that there are currently two options facing Jews:

1. Forget Jewishness, abandon it as a project that failed to succeed, and just move on completely.

2. Keep pressing for a mono-ethnic Jewish state (or a state where Jews are an absolute majority), no matter the cost to anybody.

That’s it, there are no other options. Only a completely deranged person would expect Jews happily to embrace the idea of being an ethnic minority everywhere they live after seeing how that plan turned out for them during the last 2,000 years. Since the Holocaust, there has been absolutely no possibility whatsoever that Jews would joyously accept putting themselves in a position where the Holocaust would happen again. One really should be a complete weirdo to say, “Yeah, well, whatever, let’s keep doing exactly what we were doing and hope it leads to an entirely different result this time around.” In order to achieve a different result, Jews had to abandon the 2,000-year old practice of being a permanent ethnic minority. 

The 60% of Jews who currently reside in diaspora live in the condition of a temporary ethnic minority. Their co-existence with the host societies is made possible only by the knowledge that, at any moment, they can pick up and leave for a place where they will not be a minority. If you know any Jews in your country, you must be aware that they are donating enormous amounts of money to Israel. The point of doing that is precisely to guarantee their own status as a temporary ethnic minority in their host countries. They are donating the money to Israel “just in case.” And the case in question is the next Holocaust. If this surprises you in any way, do read something on historic memory and collective trauma.

We all know that out of the two options I listed at the beginning of this article I chose the first one for myself. What bothers me, however, is that nobody seems to want to discuss the actual costs of these options openly and honestly.

Option 1 means the destruction of an entire culture. It also requires Jews to carry out the goals of the Holocaust of their own volition. 

Option 2 means constant and increasing loss of life, deaths of people, human beings, each of whom only has a single life to live.

There is a lot of stupid blabber going on and on about Israel, yet most of it is along the lines of “let everything be good and nothing be bad.” And that is simply not possible. 

Different Students

My sister is coming over to give a talk on the job search process to my students. I had to warn her to drop that entire part of her talk that she always employs with students in Montreal where she exhorts them to try working while they are in college.

One of the reasons why I like my students more than any of my previous ones is because nobody needs to beg them to work and acquire at least some work experience before the age of 24.

Cultural Question

Here is an interesting cultural phenomenon I have observed now that I live in suburban America. People spend a lot of time in their garages. A LOT of time. The garage doors always stay open and there are people pottering inside.

The strangest thing people do is roll up the garage door, put some folding chairs facing the door, place a cooler between the chairs, and just sit there, people-watching.

This wouldn’t be a surprising thing to do if it weren’t for one thing: all of the houses here have porches. Good shaded porches that often have some really cool porch furniture (cushioned arm-chairs, etcetera) on them.

So what I don’t get is why people choose to sit in an open garage that smells of gas and has an ugly concrete floor and is filled with all sorts of junk instead of doing the same thing on the porch.

Does anybody know the answer? Is this a regional thing?