World Cup Riddle

There was no World Cup coverage on this blog but at least I have a thematic riddle.

Russians celebrated Argentina’s win like their own saying that it proves Russia’s global superiority.

Who can guess why?

Sad Propaganda

You just got to start laughing at some point:

I mean, there’s propaganda and there’s really sad, pathetic propaganda. This poor Russian bastard was henpecked by his wife and daughter to volunteer for the frontlines just so that he can buy the idiot daughter an iPhone. And Russians think it’s the kind of video that has to be shown publicly. It’s so honest, too. They aren’t fighting against the NATO. They are fighting to get a chance to pick up the consumer goods that NATO countries enjoy without recurring to genocide.

Book Notes: Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry’s The Orchard

You can take a Russian out of Russia but good luck taking the smug, self-pitying delusions of grandeur out of her. Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry emigrated from Russia to the US in 1995 and writes in English but she learned nothing. And neither have her characters. They live like absolute swine – pedophilia, incest, incestuous pedophilia, violence, murdered babies buried in the woods – and none of it is ever their fault.

What’s at fault is always “history”, as if history weren’t what they made and keep making right at this moment. History happens to them and they are frozen in an eternal pout about the unfair treatment they get from “fate.”

The most recent events in the novel take place in 2008 but everything that made today’s war possible is already there: the pouting, the dream of imperial greatness, the stupid, obsessive lies about Ukraine and the Baltics. The word “empire” is repeated obsessively in the novel as an eternal dream that offers the only organizing principle to the characters.

Throughout it all, the narrator (and the author who echoes her in the afterword) remains decidedly proud of “the mysterious Russian soul” that creates this endless misery. The only hope one can find in this gruesome novel is that the 4 main characters – children of perestroika who are about a decade older than me – end up barren. They do not bring a new generation of smug, superior bastards into the world, and there’s some comfort in that.

Blessed Solitude

Today is my favorite day at work. The secretary isn’t there, the lab is closed, the colleagues aren’t there, and the students are neither.

I’m using a new productivity app called forest where you grow trees for every uninterrupted stretch of work. Uninterrupted by the use of the phone, that is. It’s really good. Every time I as much ss squint at the phone, it barks “go back to your work! Focus! Keep at it!”

Environment and IQ

Well, obviously. Unless we are talking about something like severe persistent malnutrition or brain damage, there’s no manner in which environment can impact the IQ in any way. But it has an overwhelming impact on one’s capacity for happiness.

Child Casino

I once was at a resort where they gave each guest a free token to go to the resort casino. I don’t get gambling but it was free, so I went. Put the token into a slot machine and pulled a lever. Suddenly, an avalanche of tokens started falling out. People who were nearby began to clap.

“Shit, I broke the damn thing,” I thought. “And now everybody is clapping to mock me.” I had self-esteem issues back then.

Of course, it turned out I had actually hit the jackpot and won. Beginner’s luck they call it. Bought a really pretty necklace at the resort gift store with the money.

It works like this with children, and that’s what makes child-rearing so enjoyable. For every tiny bit of love, caring and sweetness you put in, an avalanche of pleasure falls out into your life. It doesn’t work like this in any other aspect of life. In friendship, work, love, etc, you get what you put in. But with children you get a thousandfold return constantly. The only secret is that you need to start the whole process by putting in the token.