Church Shopping

N has a really great sense of humor, and it’s a shame nobody except me gets to hear his jokes.

Today we heard that a family we know is switching to another church denomination in order to save on schooling costs. There’s a tuition rebate for people who belong to the school’s parish.

“I wonder how much they’ll end up saving,” I say.

“Thirty pieces of silver, of course,” N replies.

A Switch

Want to hear something funny?

I left Ukraine in 1998 because:

1. People did nothing to help themselves except for pouting that “the government” wouldn’t solve their problems.

2. Nobody could be bothered to pick up their own shit, and the streets were hideously dirty.

3. People were scared to have opinions. They were passive and obedient like sheep.

It was such a relief to come to North America and see the exact opposite. It was glorious finally to live among people who were proud of their surroundings, proud of their freedom.


This is my native city of Kharkiv after 14 months of heavy bombing by Russia. It’s right next to the border, so it suffers badly. Every day. It’s hit every single day. But look at how clean and nice everything is. 40% of the pre-war population has come back. People are living their lives.

Can anybody explain to me why there isn’t now and never was anything here like miles of Philadelphia or LA-style homeless encampments filled with addled, dehumanized people? I simply can’t comprehend what extraordinary hardship befell the residents of Seattle or San Francisco that Ukrainians haven’t experienced. I don’t think there’s an excuse at this point. Bad politicians, hard lives. We’ve heard all that but it’s no excuse.

Counterproductive Persistence

And that’s a very conservative estimate. Think about it. 100,000 (or actually closer to 150,000) people. For what? It’s a small town with no strategic importance. Why did they all have to die?

A Ukrainian officer reports on how, at the beginning of the war, he managed to defend his area with a tiny group of men against a Russian assault force 30 times the size of the Ukrainian defensive troop.

“We were stunned,” he says, “to see that they would repeat the same attack in the exact same spot, 10, 15, 20 times in a row. That’s the only spot we were able to defend, and they kept hitting it. If they tried to outflank us, we’d be done for because we had no resources to defend the flanks. But they refused to deviate from the original plan by a millimeter. By the end, we were laughing because we destroyed all of them simply because they kept doing the same thing.”

Lesson learned: if something doesn’t work, do something else.