Literary Tradition

N read my book and is wondering why it is that Spain produced such massive and amazing literature on the economic crisis while the Russian literature produced nothing whatsoever on any of the country’s important events. The collapse of the USSR, the economic crisis of 1998, the current events – there’s no literature at all.

Russian literary tradition is, of course, extremely young compared to Spain’s. When Spain was experiencing its Golden Age of the arts, Russia didn’t have any literature at all yet. In all textbooks Russian literature begins in the 18th century, when the first clunky imitations of the Enlightenment artists appeared in Russian. The farther you are from the place where your civilization originated, the more belated and feeble will your intellectual output be.

In 1935, Russia’s young and tenuous literary tradition was forcibly interrupted for decades. And literature doesn’t exist without a tradition. Every writer is a reader first. Of course, Spanish-language authors are producing like crazy. There is a robust and long-lived tradition that is feeding them.


A good article in the NYTIMES on how the abortion drugs made abortion bans impossible to enforce. This is why I keep saying that abortion is not even remotely the huge issue it used to be. Abortion has won, that’s it. People who tell us otherwise are simply trying to distract us. It’s a good idea to ask what it is they are distracting us from.

Roseanne versus Ambien

In a now-deleted tweet, the actress tried to blame Ambien for the racist tweet that led to her sitcom’s cancellation. Sanofi, the maker of Ambien, is having none of it. They took to Twitter to respond to Barr’s claim that she was “Ambien tweeting” and can’t be held responsible for her racism. The tweet points out that while pharmaceutical drugs do have side effects, “racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

Oh, they should shut the ef up. I know somebody who found himself wandering the streets half-naked and clutching a cleaver on Ambien. I also know somebody who came to while going high-speed on a highway with zero recollection of getting into the car. That was also on Ambien. And I have more stories like these.

Yes, Roseanne is a racist creep. But the makers of Ambien have nothing to feel self-righteous about. All she did was send a nasty tweet. What they do hurts and endangers people. It’s disgusting that really evil companies try to use such situations to make themselves look better.

Babchenko Is Alive

While I was drowning my sorrows in a trip to a railroad museum, it became known that Russian dissident journalist Babchenko is alive. I’m obviously extremely happy. And here is what I have been able to find out.

A while ago, Russians started warning that there were going to be ISIS attacks in Ukraine. Ukraine’s counterintelligence realized this was Russia’s way to prepare the public opinion for a series of terror attacks in Ukraine that obviously weren’t going to be carried out by ISIS but by Russia itself.

There was a massive counterintelligence operation planned to prevent the killings. Babchenko was target #1 in a list of over 30 intended victims. His staged death was part of the operation, and his wife participated in the plan.

The operation was successful. The contract killer who was going to carry out the assassinations was apprehended. The person who paid the contract killer was apprehended, too. Of course, the people who ordered the hits weren’t apprehended because they are in Moscow but that’s how it always is.

To be honest, I’m kind of stunned that Ukraine finally has the kind of counterintelligence team that can get things done. We are not generally known for being great at getting things done. We are usually known for explaining at great length how nothing can get done. It’s unusual and unusually nice to see Ukrainians in this new role. I was so inspired that I went and conquered the HR webpage that had been defeating me for weeks because I want to be one of those Ukrainians who get shit done.

This is a good day.

Little Train Ride

Having a small child is great because it gives you an excuse to relive all the cute childhood experiences. Today we took Klara to the Southwest Florida Railroad Museum that has this tiny little train ride for kids to enjoy. We had to go round twice because she loved it so much. And I have to confess it was great fun for us, too.

My hair has gone as loopy as it only gets in Florida.

Babchenko Killed in Kiev

I just discovered that the most talented dissident journalist from Russia was murdered. His name was Arkady Babchenko. I know nobody on this blog knows who he is but for me this is devastating news. I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it.

Babchenko had to escape from Russia because he is the most famous – and the most talented – dissident journalist in Russia. His life was threatened, his family was threatened, so he moved first to Prague, and then to Kiev. His was always the most lucid analysis of what was happening in the region.

Russians have been murdering one dissident after another. I always wondered what Babchenko was thinking, trying to hide from them in Ukraine. But he’s not only crazy talented. He’s also brave.

Was, he was. Fuck this.