Kudos to Georgia State Rep. Yasmin Neal!

Even in Georgia there are politicians who do good work and call people’s attention towards the stupidity of the anti-abortion and anti-contraception hysteria.

Wouldn’t it be cool to have Rep. Neal as our president?

Choose Your Religion

I consulted this great chart I found at Hattie’s web, and it suggested to me that I should be a Jehova’s witness:

All I know about Jehova’s Witnesses is that they distribute little books with creepy-looking kids, so that did not attract me. I decided to pretend that I was indifferent to bacon and the chart told me I should be a Muslim. Of course, I could give up hummus, too, and become a Jew, but life without both bacon and hummus looks bleak. So Islam it is for me.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

Have you considered him who calls the judgment a lie?
That is the one who treats the orphan with harshness,
And does not urge (others) to feed the poor.
So woe to the praying ones,
Who are unmindful of their prayers,
Who do (good) to be seen,
And withhold the necessaries of life.

Can anybody disagree with these beautiful words?


I shared this story with a colleague at lunch today and decided that it would make a great riddle.

When I first moved to Canada from Ukraine, one of the things that shocked me the most was something that I saw happening at a bus stop. When I saw it for the first time, I thought that maybe I was misunderstanding something. But then I kept observing the same scene at every bus stop I passed.

“Wow, these Canadians truly are different,” I decided after the fifth bus stop in a row had presented the same strange scene to me.

Question: what was it that I kept seeing at bus stops and that seemed so incredible to me after living my entire life in Ukraine?

P.S. Russian speakers, shush! I know it’s easy for you to guess but I’m trying to mystify non-Russian speakers here.

Who’s the Sub?

I’m sure you have all seen this photo by now:

Now, I want you to read the following text that accompanied it in a blog post I just found:

Perhaps the most provocative aspect of the photo, however, is the fact that it’s the guy in uniform who presents as the more submissive [Clarissa’s emphasis], or what many would equate as the more “feminine” role.

As hard as I’ve tried, I’m failing to see what is so submissive about jumping on your lover and enveloping him with your legs. If you look at the body language, the uniformed guy is anything but passive in this situation.

It is really curious how people insist on analyzing gay relationships in terms of active versus submissive and how feminine immediately translated into submissive. Even when people have photographic evidence right in front of them, they still are incapable of analyzing what they are seeing and, instead, reproduce completely idiotic stereotypes that have nothing whatsoever to do with the situation they are observing.

The author of this post doesn’t even begin to realize that there are romantic relationships (whether they involve women or not) where nobody is the sub.

Stalin and Israel

Jews greet Golda in Moscow

It seems like there are people who don’t know that Stalin not only supported the creation of Israel but also was key in helping the Jews win the War of Independence in 1948.

There is a long-standing myth that Stalin was an anti-Semite. He wasn’t, though. Stalin was a pragmatist. When it served his purposes to like Jews, he liked them. When it became more useful to hate them, he hated them.

After the end of World War II, Stalin was preparing to make yet another effort at “world revolution.” He needed a foothold in the Middle East, and the Palestinian Jews, who were fighting against the British Empire and who had many people interested in the ideas of socialism and communism among them, seemed to offer a perfect possibility to establish a presence in the region.

Soon, however, it became clear that the Jews of Israel were not planning to create a Communist state and were not likely to repudiate the advances of the US. Still, Israel could play a useful role for Stalin. He could now champion the Palestinians and condemn Jews for their colonialist, Zionist agenda. He needed a conflict with the US, the only existing world power that could compete with the USSR for world domination, and he was going to find a way to provoke the Americans in one manner or another.

In 1948, when Stalin still had hopes for the Soviet-friendly Israel, Golda Meir came to visit the Soviet Union. What happened was completely unexpected for Stalin. He wanted the Soviet Jews to explain to Golda that they were so happy in the internationalist Communist state that they had no need to be Jews any more.

Instead, tens of thousands of Soviet Jews came to a Moscow synagogue to meet “our Goldele.” Stalin was livid. As I explained before, the price that the Soviet Jews had paid for the complete absence of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1948 and the great advances they were allowed to achieve was renouncing their Jewishness. And now, in 1948, Stalin was seeing crowds of Jews coming out into the streets of Moscow, inspired by the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine and very conscious of their Jewish heritage.

Since his first days in the Communist Party, Stalin, an ethnic Georgian, was convinced that nationalism was the greatest danger to the Communist dream. And he was right. In the late 1980ies and early 1990ies, nationalism will destroy the USSR. This is why Stalin could not allow nationalist sentiments and ethnic allegiances to flourish among the Soviet Jews. He unleashed a campaign of vicious anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. The campaign’s goals were two-fold: on the one hand, Stalin was teaching a lesson to all those people who, in the aftermath of WWII, were recovering their nationalist feelings, and on the other hand, he was preparing to provoke the United States into starting a third world war.

The Language of Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Before I publish a review of Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, I wanted to discuss the language that the author uses because it is very telling. At the same time, this is exactly the kind of verbiage that anybody who tries to discuss the issue immediately slips into.

the local Palestinian population” – since we are talking about Palestine, there is no other Palestinian population than the local kind. Do we say things like, “in Spain, the local Spanish population . . .”?

indigenous Palestinians,” “ native Palestinians,” “native population” – repeated on an obsessively regular basis and very obviously attempting to bring a wealth of extraneous cultural and historical connotations into the mix. What is really curious is that, ultimately, this language of the indigenous versus the settlers or the colonizers undermines Pappe’s entire argument. One can’t help but think about the most powerful country in the world which came into being precisely as a result of the settlers exterminating the indigenous and nobody batting an eye-lash then or now.

The phrases that condemn “newcomers, many of whom had arrived only recently” can only sound attractive to folks who have lived their entire life in one place. Those of us, however, who are recent newcomers to wherever we currently live are not likely to welcome Pappe’s instinctive dislike of the “non-indigenous.” As Zygmunt Bauman, a thinker whose intellectual level is light years ahead of Pappe’s (or anybody else’s, of course), pointed out, it’s the mobile elites who are not tied to any specific locality who already rule the world and will continue to do so. Pappe is framing his discussion in terms that only have currency among people who are not likely to have much use for his book.

And if you find that Pappe’s argument about the importance of being “local” makes sense to you, ask yourself how indigenous you are to the land where you live right now. Can you be completely sure that your claim to this area is as respectable and long-standing as anybody else’s? The very idea that anybody can seriously discuss who was where “first” in this day and age is very disconcerting to me. What are we all, three?

the Holocaust – insistently depicted as something that influenced the actions of the British in a variety of ways but there is never any discussion of how it could have motivated the Jews to. . . well, anything, really. After reading the book, one is left with the feeling that there was a Holocaust of Brits, not of Jews.

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