Ukraine’s Election

So I watched the entire long program where Tymoshenko spoke about her presidential ambitions. As I said before, I was not a fan. However, I have to confess that she persuaded me.

I still disagree that Ukraine should aim for both the EU and NATO, as Tymoshenko insists, but she does have a very clear vision and she articulates it brilliantly.

Tymoshenko confessed very clearly and directly to being part of a corrupt system and outlined real, concrete ways to diminish the grip of mafia over politics. She wasn’t making excuses at any point, and I liked that. “We failed, I failed,” was something she said without even a hint of “Yes, but…”

The post-Soviet political culture follows in the footsteps of the USSR in that the politicians are always completely inarticulate, goofy, and creepily giggly. Tymoshenko spoke very well and showed exceptional public speaking skills.

I now need to hear the alternative candidate. If he speaks half as well, we can easily say, “Ukraine hasn’t died yet”, indeed.

For now, it’s Tymoshenko for president!


I’m watching the one-sided political debate between Tymoshenko and Tymoshenko in Ukrainian while translating a text about oil containers from English into Russian.

In Ukrainian (and Russian), the word  for “courage” is “manliness.” It sounded really funny when Tymoshenko wished that her male opponent were as “manly” as she was and had come to the debate. Of course, nobody in  Ukraine (and Russia) would identify the situation as funny.


Yulia Tymoshenko at the presidential debate last week

Only a Ukrainian Jewish woman can look like this at the age of 53 and after being tortured in jail for several years. I’m not a fan of Tymoshenko politically, but I have to admire the resilience.

Of course, Ukraine remained Ukraine, so this election’s front-runner didn’t show up for the debate, leaving his opponent to debate herself.

I think if would be cool if she won because her opponent is not only corrupt (everybody is) but also a man. And between two corrupt leaders, I’d choose a woman because at least having a female president will give us international prestige.

Funny Terrorists

The Russian terrorists in the occupied territories in Ukraine have started a campaign against alcoholism. They go into stores, demand at gun-point that the store owners hand over their stock of alcohol, and imbibe it. They keep saying they love Ukrainians and want to save them, which must be true since they are ready to sacrifice their  own health to spare Ukrainians the dangers of alcoholism.

Attachment to the Land

Blogger Z writes:

Academics say you must be able to live anywhere but I think it is because they do not know what it is to form a deep connection with land. They feel that to have preferences about places is a form of snobbery or a lack of hardiness.

I think this is more than just a belief that is sustained by academics. Isn’t the American identity based on the idea that attachment to a specific geographical space is a sign of weakness?

This is a country of immigrants, and everybody who wanted to survive here needed to get rid of the nostalgic attachment to home. The national symbol is that of a settler who keeps moving to the West because “someplace else” is always better than “right here.” People move away for college as a matter of course, everybody has a dream place where they’d like to live which is always located thousands of miles away, businesses shut down and move overseas with extreme ease, and even in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere anybody who says “I’m from here” looks apologetic and uncomfortable with being such an unusually rooted individual.

I’ve led a nomadic existence for decades but now that we are buying a house here in Southern Illinois, I want to discover what this region is really like. It looks like I might spend the rest of my life here, which is a novel and not unpleasant idea, so it makes sense to know what “here” actually means.

Soon, I will have a car and I will drive around, visiting neighboring towns and observing life there. I have no doubt that this will be a fascinating process.

Enough With the “Studies”!

Everybody is linking to some boring study that is supposed to prove that Americans are growing less religious:

The study, by the Public Religion Research Institute, used an intriguing method to try to measure exaggeration: It asked the same set of questions in telephone interviews, and in an online survey, and compared the results. Researchers say that online surveys, with their lack of human questioners, significantly reduce “social desirability bias” in polling — the tendency of people to exaggerate behaviors that they think will impress others. In this study, the group that took the online surveys reported much lower levels of worship attendance than those interviewed by telephone.

All such questionnaires demonstrate is that people have chosen to say something or other for a completely unknown reason at this particular point in time. Using them to prove anything beyond that is sheer idiocy. Landline telephones and the Internet are used by very different kinds of people, which can also have an influence on the results.

Besides, the US is predominantly Protestant. And for Protestants church attendance does not correlate with religiosity.

The only things such “studies” prove is that sociology is a pseudo-science par excellence.