Thanksgiving Present

Friends, we all know that Matt Taibbi is extremely talented. But for this Thanksgiving, he outdid himself. Please read this extraordinarily well-written piece. The way Taibbi takes apart the horrid Howard Zinn is priceless. Every year I meet the class of freshmen brainwashed into the cult of Zinn, and it’s a sad struggle to get their jellied brains to process anything.

A single quote from the article:

We don’t ask Russians how they can sit around the yelochka every New Year and open presents knowing that Ivan the Terrible used to roast prisoners in giant frying pans, or how they can smoke Belomorkanal cigarettes knowing the real White Sea canal is filled with the bones of slave laborers. I think even most MSNBC anchors would agree, that would be stupid. But we do this to ourselves all the time now, and every year it gets worse.

Do read the whole thing. It’s hardcore good.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The bready thing next to the mushrooms and broccoli is brie baked in puff pastry with cranberry sauce and pecans. It’s the first time I’m making it, and it’s delicious.

The cranberry sauce turned out great for the first time in my life. Of course, it’s only the third time I’m making it but it was horrid the first two times. The turkey should have come out of the oven 15 minutes earlier but since my sense of smell got compromised, I haven’t figured out how to cook without it.

Our extended family is far away and Thanksgiving is a month earlier there anyway. So it’s just us.

Celebrate your hearts out, my friends. There’s a lot to be thankful for.

Rabbis in the Steppes

To advance my project of learning about today’s Russian literature, I’m reading a prize-winning biography of a famous Soviet writer Valentin Kataev. It’s important to explore different genres, so why not a biography?

Kataev wrote a lot of children’s lit in the Soviet times. I loved his books. The plots were oriented towards kids but the language was very sophisticated, poetic, and appealed to mature artistic sensibilities.

Kataev was one of two Soviet writers who openly wrote about anti-Semitism. (The second one is Alexandra Brushtein.) Obviously, it was pre-Soviet anti-Semitism that they criticized. Nobody was allowed to suspect there was Soviet Jew-hatred. But even then it wasn’t a widely explored subject.

In his most famous novel, Kataev describes Jewish pogroms in Odessa in 1905. The protagonist is heavily based on Kataev’s own childhood experiences. The character’s family helps hide a Jewish family from a murderous mob. The horror of anti-Semitism and the utterly despicable nature of the Jew-haters are described in a gut-wrenching way. Soviet children learned about anti-Semitism (and about the existence of Jews) from Kataev’s novel. I cried over those pages countless times as a kid.

The truth, however, was quite a bit more complicated.

Unlike his protagonist whose father is a humanist opposed to any injustice, Kataev grew up in a fiercely antisemitic family. His very first published poems were in the vein of “Jew-lovers and rabbis have spread around the Russian steppes” (“юдофилы и раввины заполонили русские равнины”). And what’s more, the poems were published by the exact same group that organized the Odessa pogroms of 1905. Kataev’s family didn’t belong to the social class that actually went out to murder and rob Jews. They were of the class that theorized the need for the pogroms.

It’s not Kataev’s fault that he grew up in a family of despicable people. He was all of 13 when he published the “rabbis in the steppes” poetry. He departed from this mentality quite early enough, participated in creating the most endearing Jewish characters in the Soviet (or any) literature*, and married a Jewish woman. It’s still fascinating to find all this out, though.

I will post a full review of the book once I’m done. For now I wanted to share this story because for those of us who know Kataev’s novels, this is all very interesting.

* Apparently, Kataev helped his brother Yevgeni work on the plot of The Twelve Chairs, widely considered to be the most Jewish work of literature after the Bible.

Holiday Makeup

When I was a kid, the women I admired the most were the ones who put make-up on first thing in the morning on weekends and holidays. This meant they saw themselves more as women than as cooking-cleaning-disciplining-yelling machines. With the makeup they were signaling that they wanted to be liked by men. This meant they were likely to smile more, scream less, and be easier-going. Kids automatically veered towards the make-up wearing ladies in the house because they were more open to playing with the kids or at least not as likely to police their every move.

Obviously, make-up isn’t necessary to be a happy woman and not a screeching harpy. But in the USSR, everything was designed to crush both womanhood and manhood. You needed to work hard to not feel like a sexless cog in a gigantic production machine. Men had their own rituals of maleness, just like the women had the weekend makeup.

If only you knew how hard it was to get makeup in the USSR. The fact of being willing to use the precious, rare substances when nobody outside of your family would see you signaled that you valued the private space over the public. And that was. . .not in keeping with the ruling ideology, let’s put it that way.

The Danger of Cars

The WashPo claims that the Waukesha Christmas Parade massacre was caused by an SUV:

Why is a single Hitler-loving, wife-beating career criminal and mass murderer so important to the propagandists that they go to these lengths for him? Does this have anything to do with the quite intense efforts to present cars as uniformly evil? For instance, Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, gave a recent interview about the need to get rid of cars.

Cars allow people to escape from confinement zones. When you are in your car – especially if it’s an older model without the new tracking technology – you are free. You can’t be propagandized because you are staring at the road and not at a screen. You can even be alone with your thoughts. In Canada, the only form of transportation in and out of a province (or the country) still available without forced medication is a car.

Is the Waukesha murderer so dear to our overlords because they want us off the roads? Jeff Bezos, the owner of WashPo, would definitely like the roads to be empty for his trucks to move faster.

Yes, obviously there’s a gigantic racial angle to the way the Waukesha massacre is covered. There always is. But might there be an additional bonus these bastards are squeezing out of the tragedy?