100% Soviet

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As you can see in these photos, I have managed to recreate a 100% Soviet festive table. Just like everybody else, Soviet people wanted to eat well and cook interesting, complex dishes. But there were constant shortages of food, and the selection of ingredients was very limited. So people went out of their way to create a variety of dishes from the same few ingredients.

This table is my tribute to the harsh Soviet past.

Saturday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

Have I mentioned how obnoxious it is that there is always a crowd of losers ready to defend even the most disgusting abuses in academia? Yes, I think I have.

Gender segregation in UK universities: the country is collapsing into barbarity. More on this subject here.

FDA doesn’t seem to have any real work to do, so it persecutes a company that can’t cause anybody any harm. The way to be safe from the FDA is to sell pills. If you don’t sell pills, then the FDA will persecute you.

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are tow different things.

This is a very interesting and thoughtful article that tells us how stupid all of the fussy messing around with the system of education is.

Business groups waged a fierce lobbying campaign last month to convince Republicans to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling, but many of the most influential U.S. corporations have not cut off support to lawmakers who did not heed their appeal.” I’ve been asking if the threats of default were helping some businesses make money, and here, it seems, is my answer.

Here is an article suggesting that Americans should move to Russia to live better economically. I think you know me well enough to guess what I think about the article and its author.

A very intelligent post on how idiotic ideas such as putting office workers in cubicles come about.

When you start fantasizing about how everybody around you needs to get fired, it’s time to seek psychological help. It just isn’t normal to want people to get fired.

I get the impression that the Roman Pope Francis is beginning to suffer from a carefully-cultivated media image (cultivated by the media, not by him) for saying things he never said, and promoting things that he never had any intention of promoting.” I have the same feeling.

New cholesterol/statin guidelines sound like a very bad idea.

The fourth aspect of an academic job (besides teaching, research, and service) which the linked blogger hates as much as I do.

And the post of the week: a crushing story of how the brilliant Dorothy Parker was so driven to despair by poverty and loneliness that she plagiarized Nabokov.

Black Friday

The reason why people go so crazy on Black Friday and Boxing Day is not that they really need all those two-dollar waffle-makers. What they want is the feeling that for once – even if it is just this one time – they have defeated capitalism at its own game.

It’s easy to despise people who jostle and punch each other to get discounted X-boxes. But these are people who feel so confused and cheated by the system they find incomprehensible that they deserve this symbolic little victory.

Passionate Intensity

From William Butler Yeats’ The Second Coming:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
are full of passionate intensity.

Zizek also talks about this issue and asks:

Is this not a good description of today’s split between anemic liberals and impassioned fundamentalists?

The Next Generation

Our student newspaper published an article by a student who praises the idea of unpaid internships, insist that people who are not excited about them are spoiled, lazy and delusional, and suggests that working for no pay will bring untold benefits later in life.

This is in case you think my job is easy.

Dialogues in Our Household

N. and I embody Dr. Phil’s favorite stereotype in that we have wildly divergent communication styles. One of us talks a lot, very fast, very loudly, with a lot of exclamations in Russian,Ukrainian and Yiddish, constant hand-wringing, endless exhortations addressed at an imaginary audience, and repeated invocation of all known deities. The other one  is the exact opposite. I’ll let you guess which one is which on your own. This is how all of our disagreements come about. Here is the most recent example:

“Ah, do you see at what time this man comes home? Now, what is the point of coming so late? Ver vaist? I don’t understand this at all. When one can come home not late, why does one come late? What is the point of just sitting there at work, all alone, long after everybody else has gone? This is very strange to me. I don’t understand this at all. It is cold and dark, what is the point of sitting alone at work in this weather? Can you tell me why you would do something like this because I don’t think I can understand it at all.”

“I went to the store. . .”

“Vey is mir, look  at this man, he went to the store. Now why did you have to go to the store when there is no need to go to the store? We have everything we can possibly need right here. Why did we go and buy all that stuff over the weekend? Wasn’t it precisely so that there would be no need to go to the store during the week? And now this man just goes to the store even though there is absolutely no reason to go to the store.  It is cold and dark, what is the point of running around a store all alone in this weather? When I just think of this poor man, running around  a store needlessly, oy vey, this is nothing short of horrifying.”

“I had to buy these things. . .”

“Do you hear this? Do you hear what this man is saying? He had to buy these things. I ask you, why did he have to buy these things when there is absolutely no need to buy these things or any things? Vo den, I ask you. It is cold and dark, what is the point of running around a store buying these things all alone in this weather? When I just think of this poor man, running around  a store needlessly buying these things when there is no need to buy these things. . . And then he just tells me he had to buy these things. We don’t need these things. we have many other things. The house is practically overflowing with things. Vos noch?”

“I need them to teach you driving.”

“Oh. This is so nice! Thank you, sweetie!”

Thanksgiving Menu

This year, we decided to do a Celebration of Identity instead of regular Thanksgiving. We regularly hold Celebration of Identity days which means we eat tons of hard-core Soviet-style food. The menu for this year’s Identity Day is:

1. A salad called “Herring in a Fur Coat.”

2. A salad called “Mistress.”

3. A salad called “Olivier.”

4. A cake called “Ho Chi Minh’s House.”

5. A traditional Jewish dish called “Forshmak.” (Forshmak means “pre-taste” in Yiddish.)

6. Eggs stuffed with Mushrooms and caviar.

7. A salad called “Fishes in a Pond.”

These are all real names of very popular Soviet dishes. This will be the unhealthiest meal in the world but it is very tasty to a Soviet palate. I’ve never done Ho Chi Minh’s House and I’m notoriously lousy with cakes but if it comes out at least half well, I will post a picture.