Evergreen Talent

I was starting to think Stephen King had lost all his talent but it looks like his skill at writing horror is as strong as ever:

How do these things even occur to people.

Neoliberal Inflation

Inflation, by the way, is part of this neoliberal retraining of the mind. If you saved a thousand bucks in the past year, it’s worth less than a year ago. Thus we are trained to see saving as useless and counterproductive. This inflation was absolutely engineered, and useless old Joe Biden was installed to take the flak for it.

Know Your Neoliberalism

I’m sitting at a meeting of department chairs, and it suddenly hit me. I’m doing such a good job as chair and experiencing zero stress over it because I know how neoliberalism works. Everything that people complain about – the unpredictability, the constantly changing expectations, being punished for saving money and being frugal, the constant aura of crisis, rule-breaking being rewarded, etc – I know about it and always expect it. So it’s not even a little bit of a surprise when it happens.

Other people still haven’t figured this out. “I did such a good job saving all this money! Why should I be punished for it?”

Because capital is supposed to be fluid, that’s why. You sat on it and created a disruption in the flow.

“But I followed all the rules!” Well, welcome to the era of quirky, protean characters who don’t believe in “society” and don’t understand the concept of rules. If it’s possible for men to become women, why shouldn’t it be possible for rules to morph endlessly around us?

The Paska Tradition

I don’t know why but the Z-paska really got to me. Even in the USSR we kept our Easter traditions. On Palm Sunday we’d bring in bunches of verba plants. There are no palms in Eastern Europe, of course, so for us Palm Sunday is verba Sunday. Here is what it looks like:

I can’t explain how big it was that people would even know when it was Easter and why everybody had these bunches of verba a week before. This is cultural memory trying to survive against the greatest odds. Decades of stubborn, massive resistance against a totalitarian regime.

We’d make our paskas. It’s a whole ritual. The family recipes passed down through generations, the smell of rising dough, the loud debates over whether the dough would rise correctly. Even people who taught “scientific atheism” in college made paskas. And didn’t put any Soviet symbolism on them. The only time in a year most Soviet people got near a church was to bring in the paskas to be blessed.

One thing that even the Soviets didn’t manage to shit on. One little part of our cultural legacy we could preserve. You got to be the lowest grade of cow excrement to mess with it to promote your stupid war.

Everybody says “it’s propaganda.” But in the USSR we had real propaganda. No internet, no alternative sources of information. And still we managed to keep the paskas clean of all the ideological crap.

Don’t Mess with the Paska

Russians now put war symbolism even on their paskas:

Paskas are Easter dome-shaped breads we take to church to be blessed on Easter. The only thing you can put on them is a cross. Anything war-related on a paska is just wrong.

The next step in this madness will be to decorate holy icons with Zs.

Cultural Differences Are Real

And other things, such as the position of women in society. There’s a great play called “Бояриня” by the 19th-century Ukrainian poet Lesia Ukrainka. In the poem, a Ukrainian girl marries a Russian nobleman and is shocked to discover how differently women are treated in Russia, how little agency and freedom they have.

If you read Ukrainian, the play is available online. What’s described in it is massively recognizable to people in our region. I know we all look the same to outsiders, and that’s perfectly OK. But we are different. I have a friend from Belarus. A lovely, lovely person. But you look at her, you look at me, and it’s very obvious why Belarus has an authocratic regime of Lukashenka, and Ukraine doesn’t.

In short, do read Galeev.

Question for Floridians

Folks from Southern states, do palm branches stink? We brought home blessed palm leaves from the Palm Sunday service as usual, and they are fine. But we also brought a palm branch from a bunch that were used to decorate and then given to children to play because they hadn’t been blessed. I feel that the branch stinks something horrid. Like rancid sunflower oil. Am I going nuts or do they really stink?

A Normal Couple

Online sleuths have revealed the name of the Russian woman who became famous for encouraging her husband to rape Ukrainian women. They look like such a normal, cute couple on social media:

On Instagram, the woman identifies family values as her guiding principle in life.

The husband was wounded and is now recovering in the occupied Crimea.

Quaint Old Topic

Talking to Canadians gives me a weird feeling. It’s still all about COVID case counts and “there was a day last week when we had 4 COVID deaths in our province.” Around here, it’s been months since even the most fanatical COVIDians have been interested in discussing all that. Even at faculty meetings nobody mentions COVID. I don’t know how to react because it all sounds so quaint and outdated.