Shown the Door

As reported yesterday, dismissal of the two Indian-American principals was inevitable as soon as Musk completed his acquisition. Agrawal and Gadde, who clashed with Musk in the days leading to the takeover over purported fake accounts and censorship, were literally shown the door, reportedly escorted out of the Twitter headquarters.

Of course, they will get sky-high payouts to make themselves scarce but these are very unhealthy people who shouldn’t be anywhere where they can unleash their fanaticism on others.

British Misery

The current big thing in Russia is the endlessly repeated news that the UK has been reduced to such poverty that a quarter of the population can’t afford toilet paper, soap or shampoo. As all propaganda, this is ancient and boring. We already heard all this back in the USSR. Yet people still believe it and nod sagely to the news of the miserable Brits who haven’t seen a bar of soap or a roll of toilet paper since summer.

A Gold Mine

In recent years, activists in the film and publishing worlds have tried to create a kind of moral monopoly over certain topics by maintaining that no one can speak about injustice that they haven’t experienced. Such injustice, in fact, now seems to be as carefully guarded as a financial asset — which, in some ways, it is.

This goes right to the heart of the issue. It’s “markets in everything,” including in every piece of wokester lunacy. Victim status is a good mine, and it only makes sense to stake out your claim and fend off interlopers.

Iranian Protests

There’s only that much time and attention that you can give to things (as clearly evidenced by my school closure fail this morning), so I have no idea what’s happening in Iran. I know there are protests, I know what provoked them but I have no idea what the protesters are trying to achieve. Usually, when a protest is provoked by a specific egregious event, it takes people a bit of time to define what they want to happen. In Ukraine in 2014, the government murdered a group of unarmed students, which provoked the protests. Soon enough, the protesters figured out that what they really wanted was a functioning democracy and they got one. Also they got war but democracy never comes cheaply.

Does anybody know what the Iranian protesters want at this point? Democracy? A secular state? A hijab ban? Something else?

What’s a Bloody Idiot?

I woke Klara up early and dragged her to school only to realize that there’s no school today.

“Why did you wake me up if there’s no school, Mommy?” Klara asked.

“Because I’m a bloody idiot,” I replied.

“I don’t know what that means,” Klara said primly, “but I hope it means ‘best mommy ever’ because that’s what you are.”

I’m still feeling like a bloody idjit because I didn’t have to wake up early either. I can’t wait for October to end and my busy season to recede into memory.

Long Journey Ahead

At the parent-teacher conference, Klaras teacher told me that Klara gave a little presentation on borscht in class because it’s her favorite food. Then the teacher showed me Klara’s drawings, in which every human and animal holds the Ukrainian flag.

After that, the teacher asked me how long ago I came to the US from… Russia.

Tricky YouTube History

Today I observed the teaching of the Russian instructor. It’s an official thing we are obligated to do, so I’m not singling her out in any way.

It was really funny because the Russian teacher decided to show a YouTube video with an innocent weather forecast. (Today’s vocabulary topic in all Beginner language classes is weather). But do you know what happens after a video on YouTube finishes playing? YouTube helpfully turns on a video it thinks you will enjoy based on your viewing history.

What do you think turned on at the end of the Russian teacher’s weather video?

Yes, of course.

Putin’s big ugly mug with a legend “Here’s an analysis of Putin’s brilliant speech from today.”

Similar videos jumped out upon the second and the third listening of the forecast video.

She’s a great teacher, though. The students are clearly learning a lot.

Why Is There Inflation?

The inflation we are experiencing was caused by the COVID stimulus payments. Once you send people “free money,” they start spending. An enormous amount of new money that was freshly printed enters into circulation. That makes money less valuable. It’s like diamonds and gravel. Diamonds are a lot more rare, it’s harder to get them, so they are more valuable. And gravel is abundant, so it’s not valuable. A car would cost, say, 5 big diamonds but the same car would cost 5 big piles of gravel. We have turned our money from diamonds into gravel by printing a lot more of it.

Putting a lot of newly printed money into circulation always makes money worth less. Why doesn’t every country print a lot of money and make every citizen a millionaire? Because that would devalue money and everybody will be poorer than ever. The only real way to stimulate the economy is to put money into making something. Cut taxes on business, remove regulations, and people start making more things or providing more services. But putting money directly into people’s pockets – attractive as it sounds – only makes them poorer because that money is worth less and can buy less.

This is why everything is more expensive. The only way to go back to normal would be to remove that extra money out of circulation. How can a government do that? There’s no other way than raising taxes on the people who would start spending less. Those people wouldn’t be the rich or the poor. It would be the middle class. And taxing the middle class is a political suicide. So we are stuck.

Mother Tongue

I have no idea how Rafeyenko managed to switch so completely into Ukrainian after the age of 45. He’s from Donetsk, which hasn’t been Ukrainian-speaking in two generations. He speaks like a native speaker. What’s more stunning, he writes works of literature in Ukrainian.

Rafeyenko says that hearing Russian in the street or on TV is physically painful. Hating your mother tongue – literally, the language your mother spoke to you in infancy – is a wound that doesn’t heal. Rafeyenko lived under occupation. After escaping, he settled in Bucha. Then he saw what Russians did to Bucha. I can’t begin to imagine how that must feel.

I’ve been listening to the talk in my office, and now I’ve blown up like a balloon after crying for 1,5 hours.

Bad Interpreter

Speaking about interpreting, I’m watching a talk by the Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Rafeyenko organized by the Harvard Ukrainian Institute, and the interpreter is slaughtering the translation.

The writer says, “I hated myself, I hated everything I was because I felt that the war was being waged in my name.” I start crying and then hear the interpreter translate this as, “I objected to that because I thought it wasn’t OK.”

It’s particularly irksome that the interpreter constantly confuses “Russian” and “Russian-speaking.” It makes zero sense to say that Rafeyenko used to be a Russian writer. Russian speakers aren’t Russian. Hello, there’s a war going on over that very issue.