I gave my talk on Ukraine to a large crowd of wonderful people. I came out on a high, opened the social media and discovered that a massive air strike just started. So that was the end of my enjoyable evening.
Day: February 15, 2023
Oh, and another funny thing from the POW interview.
“What were you expecting to see when you came to the frontlines?” the Ukrainian journalist asks.
“Nazis!” says the POW. “A lot of Nazis! And Poles. But there weren’t any Nazis. Or Poles. I was really expecting to see Poles but there weren’t any.”
“Well, I’m going to let you in on a secret,” says the journalist. “We have special biolabs that genetically modify Poles making them look like normal people.”
The POW thinks it over.
“No,” he says finally. “There were definitely no Poles.”
The obsession with the Poles in Russia is such that people are demanding that a mega famous Soviet era movie that starred a Polish actress be modified to cut her out.
N watches a lot of videos where Ukrainian journalists interview Russian POWs. These are long, in-depth interviews that last over an hour each. N says he already watched more than 100 hours of these videos, which, given his work schedule I described earlier, is a significant time investment.
I don’t watch these interviews because I don’t see the point. Who cares what these people are saying? The result is still the same. But I don’t blame N for watching. He’s trying to comprehend what happened, what turned the Russian people into such beasts. It’s devastating to him to see what’s going on. For me, at least, there’s the knowledge that we are in the right and everybody supports us. He doesn’t have this consolation.
Yesterday I finally watched one of these videos because N really wanted me to see it. The POW who was interviewed is N’s age and his wife has the same name as me. The wife is a terrible, cruel, mean harpy. People in the comments are begging Ukrainians not to release the POW to his wife because that would be a clear crime against humanity. “She’s just like my mom!” N keeps repeating. “But even worse!”
The POW himself is completely pathetic, deeply stupid. He’s got a college degree but his language skills are rudimentary. “It’s funny that you say you came here to defend the Russian language,” the Ukrainian journalist says, “when I speak better Russian than you do.”
Like a Jew who doesn’t say the name of God to avoid sacrilege, the POW can’t pronounce Putin’s name. “Please, please, I beg you,” he keeps repeating to his wife, “let the authorities know I’ve been captured so they can organize a POW exchange.” The nasty, indifferent faces of his wife and mother are painful to watch.
Return of Sociability
Today we had 3 events happening simultaneously at my department. I had to choose which one to attend. Things feel alive! It took until now to recover from the COVID-era collapse of sociability. But at least most of us did recover.
Bad Word in Education
Educational bureaucrats are now at war with the word “to understand.” Who knows why? There’s never any reason behind these fads.
We now have a group of paper-pushers who pore over syllabi and other paperwork, culling out phrases like “the goal of this course is to understand how ABC interacts with XYZ.”
In case you think this is arbitrary and absurd, remember that that’s precisely the goal.