The Totalitarianism I Know

I think many people don’t understand what it was like in the USSR. Back there, we weren’t afraid of being executed or sent to a concentration camp. Even during the Stalin era, when there actually were mass executions and labor camps, most people didn’t fear them because nobody was supposed to know. It was all done in secret.

But after Stalin’s death, it weren’t done at all. We didn’t fear physical violence from the state. Honestly, the idea is ludicrous.

We feared being publicly shamed. We feared becoming pariahs. We feared social, not physical, death. We feared being socially, not physically, cancelled. We feared being prevented from making a living, being fired, denied promotion, being told we are agents of international imperialism. We feared public humiliation.

And we feared that this was going to happen to us not if we did something egregious like molesting kids or beating up old ladies for fun. We feared that this was going to happen if somebody found out we enjoyed ideologically suspect news programs, read politically incorrect books, didn’t show up for climate strikes subbotniks, didn’t add pronouns to our email signatures Communist terminology to every sentence we wrote, didn’t condemn Trump US imperialism loudly enough, didn’t give away our jobs toys to the suffering refugees children in Guatemala, and didn’t join the Twitter mobs Komsomol leaders with enough enthusiasm when they condemned white Ukrainian nationalists and the growing threat of the KKK and world fascism.

This is what I don’t want to experience again. This is the totalitarianism I know.

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Markel Murder Trial

A trial is finally starting in the case of a law professor in Florida killed by murderers hired by his ex-wife who didn’t want to share custody of their kids.

At this rate, the kids will be middle-aged before anyone goes to jail for their dad’s murder.

It’s clearly easier to be an indifferent, deadbeat dad.

Academic Freedom in Germany

The link is in German but use Google Translate. German professors are trying to stand up to government-sponsored thugs who try to destroy academic freedom. I think these professors are waking up a bit too late but at least they are trying to do something.

Kid Drawing Riddle

Klara is learning to draw faces. When she draws eyes, she always makes one about 5 times larger than the other. This is done purposefully.

Can anybody guess why?

A hint: the reason, of course, is extremely cute.

P.S. I wrote the name. She only knows how to write OL so far.

Book Notes: Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte, 2

OK, so I finished the novel, and now I’m even more sure that it’s the best Rushdie’s ever written. Which is saying a lot because everything he’s written is brilliant. But this novel is so so good.

Quichotte is a heavily postmodern novel, so I can’t recommend if it’s not your kind of thing. But if you are at all capable of tolerating anything beyond hardcore realism, then this is the novel to slide yourself into an adventurous reading mode. And there are twists of the plot, including one at the end even I didn’t anticipate!

If you are a professor of literature, drop everything and read the novel. There’s nothing you are doing at work more important than reading a brilliant novel, believe me.

Loved, loved, loved the novel, need to reread it immediately. If Quichotte doesn’t win the Booker, that will be completely ridiculous.