22 April 2014

The wheel of time: Lev Tolstoy on Russo-Japanese war

A Russian blogger Alexander Shamarin posted on FB an article Writer and the State about a long forgotten, but very relevant these days episode. First a reminder: the subject of the post is a letter written by Lev (Leo) Tolstoy on the ongoing Russo-Japanese war. A short enough excerpt on the cause of war:
The Russo-Japanese War (8 February 1904 – 5 September 1905) was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were Southern Manchuria, specifically the area around the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden; and the seas around Korea, Japan, and the Yellow Sea.

Russia sought a warm water port on the Pacific Ocean, for their navy as well as for maritime trade. Vladivostok was only operational during the summer season, but Port Arthur would be operational all year.
And an even briefer summary of the casualties:
The number of Japanese army dead in combat is put at around 47,000 with around 27,000 additional casualties from disease,and between 6,000 and 12,000 of wounds. Estimates of Russian army dead range from around 40,000 to around 70,000 men. The total number of army dead is generally stated from around 130,000 to 170,000. China suffered 20,000 civilian deaths...
Leo Tolstoy sent an article to British Times at the time, protesting the war. I am embedding here a copy from a similar article by Tolstoy, for lack of the original English version (click to read):

You can read the rest of the article via the link above. The response of the "patriotic" Russian media was quite strong. Newspaper "Citizen" is perplexed by the nonentity that the great Russian writer has become:
"So, I thought, reading Tolstoy's lines, what a pitiful and miserable creature this big genius has withered to, comfortable in his study of Yasnaya Polyana, sending to my friends and brothers in blood and in spirit on the battlefield his poisonous words of indignation and embarrassment, at the moment when, in hardship and suffering, they bravely do their duty and die for something sacred, and when even the children in a multimillion nation understand and feel that in these minutes, besides food, shelter and weapons, words of love and encouragement are needed by each soldier, and that whoever at this time is confusing them by his words and deprives them of encouragement, is the worst enemy and executioner of these heroes."
(Sorry for the length of that sentence, but it goes on that way in the original).

"Moskow journals", the newspaper of the Moscow University, with the utmost rigor of a serious scientific publication states: Leo Tolstoy is no longer the great Russian writer:
Yes, citizen. Tolstoy - the enemy of the War; but he has long ago ceased to be a Russian, since about when he ceased to be Orthodox.

Thus the real war could not cause him any "clash of feelings", and there hasn't been a storm under his skull, for Count Tolstoy is now completely alien to Russia, and it is immaterial for him whether Japanese possess Moscow, St. Petersburg and the whole Russia [sic!], as long as Russia would quickly sign a peace treaty with Japan, on any, even the most humiliating and shameful, conditions. No Russian person can feel, think and speak so vulgarly and contemptibly, therefore Tolstoy can't be considered Russian.
If he still lives in Russia, this is only due to the generosity of Russian Government, which still reveres a former talented writer Leo Tolstoy, with whom the present old maniac and blasphemer from Yasnaya Polyana has nothing in common but the name...

Would the Government deemed it possible to rip the mask from citizen Tolstoy and show him to the Russian people, in all his hideous nakedness, this act would be the end of all our "Tolstoyanism" and then, but only then, one could allow the old screwball quietly live out his life in his Yasnaya Polyana and bury there his former glory.
Well, there is more in that post by Alexander Shamarin, but I think that the above provides enough food for thought.

Meanwhile the wheel turns.

Having your cake and eating it as well

This article is a rather repetitive one by Khaled Abu Toameh from Gatestone Institute* which spells out, once more, the hypocrisy of the Palestinian Authority(PA) in calling on the Israelis to release yet more terrorists, as a precondition for continuing the "peace talks" (which might, to the cynical, be better labelled as the "you give us everything we want and then you can go to hell" talks). As it does every year, the PA is holding a "prisoners day" in which it celebrates the sacrifices made by those noble terrorists arrested, tried and imprisoned (under a very familiar and recognisable regime of the rule of law) by the Israelis.

The hypocrisy of this is exposed by an article, itself from a suspect source, but I'll come to that, that states that "its own security forces continue to hold hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians in prison, some tortured, some without trial.

This year alone, the Palestinian Authority has arrested 357 Palestinians accused of security/political offenses, 42 of whom are university students." Further, "[a]ccording to the report, prepared by the Hamas-run Ministry of Planning, all 357 detainees belonged to various Palestinian groups in the West Bank, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad." I trust you take the point about the report coming from a suspect source. Personally, I wouldn't trust either organisation further than I could throw them, left-handed, with tendonitis in the left wrist (and I'm right-handed, anyway).

(*) For those who don't know it, "Gatestone Institute [is] a non-partisan, not-for-profit international policy council and think tank is dedicated to educating the public about what the mainstream media fails to report in promoting:

  • Institutions of Democracy and the Rule of Law;
  • Human Rights
  • A free and strong economy
  • A military capable of ensuring peace at home and in the free world
  • Energy independence
  • Ensuring the public stay informed of threats to our individual liberty, sovereignty and free speech.
As you might gather from that language, it is based in the US, and is none the worse for that. Among its Directors is Douglas Murray, of The Commentator, a relatively, in economic policy terms, right-wing on-line paper which is generally pro-Israel, and also of The Henry Jackson Society, ditto.

By Brian Goldfarb.

21 April 2014

My quick patch proposal for good people of Castrillo Matajudios

The brouhaha with the name of that Spanish town, which name means Castrillo Kill Jews, is really getting to me. It is probably the tenth article on the subject I stumble upon.

Apparently the solution is going to be voted on soon, by all 56 citizens of that place. And what it is?
If they agree to the change, locals will be able to choose between the rather less offensive Mota Judios and Mota de Judios, which both mean Mound of the Jews.
And what is "mound", if you look at it closer? Let's see, avoiding baseball, of course:
  • A small natural hill
  • A collection of objects laid on top of each other
  • Structure consisting of an artificial heap or bank usually of earth or stones
I don't know, to my suspicious mind is all sounds kinda funereal, don't you think so?

So I have a capital idea: take some masking tape and just stick it over the Matajudios part on the road signs. Smear some black ink over same on the official papers and you are done! Think about savings of time and money!

And there is another point:
"It is a name that we know today is not very correct,” the mayor explained.
Indeed. But political correctness is not like correctness in, say, science. Today it is incorrect, tomorrow - who knows? And then all you have to do is to remove some masking tape. Big deal?


Registration of Russian bloggers as an anti-terrorist measure

According to Russian RIA Novosti:
The State Duma on Friday will consider (in second reading) a package of "anti-terrorism" laws, which, in particular, limit the transfer of anonymous payments and equate popular bloggers to the mass media, told the first deputy speaker of the lower house of the "United Russia" Alexander Zhukov.

The package also expands the powers of the Federal Security Service and toughens punishment for organizing terrorist attacks and riots. Three papers (on the FSB, the duty to keep the data on the Internet for six months, an anonymous payments) were produced by deputies from all four factions, led by the head of the security committee Irina Yarovaya (United Russia) and later were updated by two amendments - on bloggers and riots.

"I would have said that anti-terrorism package consists of several bills that will be considered on second reading. First of all, the introduction of order into remittances, cessation of anonymous money transfers, restrictions on the amount, when such transfers are made without opening a bank account," Zhukov said .

He added that the law also introduces the concept of "blogger" - "if the personal page receives more than 3 thousands of hits (per day)." "In fact some registration is required, equating [the blogger] to the mass media" - explained the MP.
The cause of freedom is no doubt being strengthened by this (r)evolutionary measure...

He who is unhappy is an enemy of the people

I don't know if all of the readers remember this old Soviet term, "enemy of the people". To hear it pronounced during Stalin's time usually meant a death sentence. Who knows, we may be facing a "renaissance" of this dark era. Here comes an important human document that describes the goings-on in the Russian Federation, now a bit larger with "reunification" of Crimea.

The headline of this post is the one chosen by Frankfurter Allgemeine for an interview of Belarusian writer Svetlana Aleksievich. It German it reads Wer nicht jubelt, ist ein Volksfeind. Volksfeind... sounds good too, doesn't it? So, to the translation: not knowing German, I have resorted to the Russian version of the same article. And a few remarks and links were added where strictly necessary.

Belarusian writer Svetlana Aleksievich describes for Frankfurter Allgemeine the mood in Russia after the annexation of the Crimea.

"I lost many Russian friends" - she writes - " I hate to see this enthusiasm when it comes to the "unification" or "annexation" or to hear that Ukrainians 'will soon have nothing to eat, and then they will beg for a merger'... Restaurants don't have any Crimean champagne anymore - all was drank when they celebrated the victory. One constantly hears the talk that 'we, the Russian people, without a sense of being God's chosen people, without imperial sentiments would not be ourselves'. Russian volunteers crowd before military commissariats to show the 'Banderovites'* what is what."

"I was flabbergasted by Gorbachev - confesses Aleksievich - Even he succumbed to the nationalist wave and said that Crimea should have been returned long time ago. Allegedly, historical justice was restored... So he no longer talks about the European way, about partnership with Europe or common values."

"Normal Russia keeps mum. Just try to say something - somebody will inform on you, and they will throw you in prison... all the liberals** are hated today. Because they were the ones who caused the "dashing nineties", because they caused the loss of the empire. People demand that the liberals' apartments be confiscated, the liberals arrested and shot. Chosen people!"

"He who is not happy is an enemy of the people. Part of the fifth column, one of the State Department*** henchmen. Stalinist lexicon was fully restored; "traitor", "renegade", a "fascists' accomplice" etc. The only difference is that the new Stalinists are now followers of the Russian Orthodox Church. Russia has been unable to accept Western values, Western Christianity. They preach in the [Russian] churches: 'we are again being pushed into the model of progress that is alien to us, that will cause us to lose our spirituality.' I asked my priest friend, what is it, this spirituality. 'Gather all homosexuals in one city and shoot them there!' - was the answer... We, they say, are strong enough now and are able to protect our people in the Baltic States, in Tajikistan, wherever... Orthodox newspapers earnestly call Putin a saint. It turns out that in his previous incarnation he was Prince Vladimir and baptized Russia. Rumor has it that in some churches Putin's icon produces myrrh. Holy! Miracle! He lives like a monk. He is engaged with Russia..."

"There have already been calls to reject American goods. In Ufa they burned an effigy of Obama in response to American sanctions. I spoke with dozens of people about the sanctions and the "iron curtain", and no one is afraid. They remember that in Soviet times they have also lived in isolation. So what? But the life had a meaning then: to help the brothers is more important than to have a sausage in the fridge... They will begin to ask soon why are you going on holiday to Egypt or Turkey, but not to Sochi? Why do you listen to foreign music and not to Russian?"

"There is a feeling that the country is at war - continues the writer - People are wishing each other more victories: 'And what about Alaska?' It is scary to switch on the TV. The TV threatens to transform America into a nuclear dust, discusses occupation of the whole of Europe ... The media is being "cleaned up" according to the laws of war. Any alternative sources of information that allow other points of view are destroyed. Any word of truth or protest is being equaled to calls for the overthrow of government, unwanted Internet sites are blocked."

"Whither Russia? Today we prefer war to reforms. The thirst for return of the lost lands drives the minds of millions crazy. The same intelligent and reasonable people who have dreamed about westernized Russia just yesterday. Today they avow in a chorus: 'For the Crimea we forgive Putin everything!'... We got back not just the Crimea, but the Soviet Union... Putin worked on this for fifteen years. Day after day the TV was reviving Soviet ideas. And we thought they were dead."

"The world will never be the same - convinced Aleksievich - Putin blew up the world order, built after World War II. Will West accept the new Russia or reject it? If the West rejects, it will be left alone with their pipelines ... Generally, where violence again becomes an ideal, there appears your Karadzic, who will convince people that you can do good using a machine gun."


(*) The currently popular Russian myth is that the anti-Russian fraction in Ukraine is led by the followers of late Stepan Bandera. While some of Ukrainians are admirers of the Bandera, far be it from the whole truth.

(**) "Liberals" mentioned in the article are not "liberals" in the American sense, rather the people that took part in the demolition of Soviet Union.

(***) State Department is obviously seen as the source of all tribulations that Russia went (and goes) through.

And, for an afterword: Russia's new culture policy a weapon against West.
Russians not only have their own "cultural code," he said, they also have a unique moral outlook -- unlike Westerners, Russians are selfless and prone to self-sacrifice.

"These are the deep roots of our patriotism," Putin said.
Yes indeed, Vladimir Vladimirovich.

Music in some people's life


And more music:

20 April 2014

So, "Jews brought Holocaust on themselves". What else is new in Moscow?

UPI, followed by Haaretz and Jerusalem Post, published an interesting clip from the Russian TV 24:

The transcript of the short conversation, as it appears on America Blog (by John Aravosis):

PROKHANOV: It is strange that Jewish organizations – European and Russian – support Maidan. They do that? They do not realize that they are, with their own hands, closer to the second Holocaust?

HOST EVELYN ZAKAMSKAYA: They also advanced the first [Holocaust].

PROKHANOV: It’s dreadful, it is astonishing blindness — which, apparently, is repeated, because until 1933 in Europe many liberal organizations were feeding Hitler.

Save some insignificant details, it is a precise transcript of this part of a longer interview. However, the four sources linked above made one mistake of judgment: they focused on the wrong side of the discussion, the TV news announcer Evelyn (actually Evelyna) Zakamskaya. Her mindless "They also advanced the first [Holocaust]" is no more than a sign of casual parlor antisemitism of a stupid glitterati, trying to be attuned to her important guest.

Her guest, Alexandr Prokhanov, however, is a totally different kettle of fish. He is a member of the secretariat of the Writers Union of the Russian Federation and the editor-in-chief of the ultra-nationalist newspaper "Завтра" (Zavtra - Tomorrow). He is a man that, especially in these days of nationalist renaissance, Crimea "reunification" and possible additional land grabs from Ukraine and other neighbors, is busily feeding and leading the murky wave of nationalist intoxication.

He is also a diploma-ed raving anti-Semite, and I don't dispense that characteristic lightly. I had the doubtful pleasure to report on Mr Prokhanov twice: once on his raving ultra-nationalist elegy to Stalin and once on his amazingly stupid wet dreams in Gaza. His Wiki entry and these two posts will tell you all you need to know about this character. Keep in mind, though, that he carries a significant weight in Russia these days.

Of course, his reference to second Holocaust could be taken in two ways: a threat (continue to support Ukrainians and see where it gets you) or a (totally false in his case) expression of care (these Ukrainians will turn on you in response for your support).

Taken into account that just recently Putin used the Ukrainian antisemitism (real, by the way) as one of the straws he is grasping in his unwinnable struggle to explain the Crimea land grab, the Jews of Ukraine are facing a stark choice indeed.

Rule 5 corollary: never lose control of the wheel

Because Ernie is waiting:

19 April 2014

Happy Easter

To all our Christian friends. And a set of visual greetings for every taste. Starting with a generic one:

Now a political one:

And one for cat lovers:

Of course, one with some violence (verbal and physical):

And, not to forget, something for old goats (like I):

And for a good measure, an unforgettable Jelly Bean Pooping Easter Bunny - read the comments!

Merry and happy Easter, you all out there!

Rabbi Lau vs Nazis on who is a Jew

That thorny question about who is a Jew is again raising its ugly head. This time the initiator of the squabble is:

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau
From his recent interview:
Lau says he wants to work with Jewish Agency aliyah emissaries to “get to every corner of the world, to cemeteries, community records, asking non-Jewish neighbors, and you can help people” who wish to convert. However, he says the Law of Return is “problematic,” adding that former religious affairs minister Yossi Beilin “called for its cancellation,” and that “the state of Israel has to decide if it wants to be a welfare state for the Third World, bringing in everyone who has a connection with Judaism, or perhaps only those who are Jews.” As an example, he offered the case of “a grandfather who isn’t even buried here, he’s buried in Russbach, Germany, but because of one grandfather, 78 [relatives] of his wife, grandchildren, everyone gets absorption benefits and all the rights.”
I don't want to get into an argument with a man who can outargue my legs from under me. Just a reminder:
On November 14, 1935, the Nazis issued the following definition of a Jew: Anyone with three Jewish grandparents; someone with two Jewish grandparents who belonged to the Jewish community on September 15, 1935, or joined thereafter; was married to a Jew or Jewess on September 15, 1935, or married one thereafter; was the offspring of a marriage or extramarital liaison with a Jew on or after September 15, 1935.
I know that this opinion of mine isn't going to be popular in some circles, but, unfortunately, I have to say that in this case the Nazi version works for me better.

And, to bring the point to the extreme: if a man (woman) is crazy (or inspired) enough to wish to join the tribe, knowing all the pitfalls involved: let it be so.

Now you see it and now you don't: does IDF use Photoshop to impress the public?

Well, it comes from a Lebanese paper, they say, but still:

Lebanese paper publishes photos of reported arms depot in Hezbollah-controlled area and images taken 10 days after alleged strike of scorched earth.
I mean it looks like a regiment of grunts with a very tough sergeant did a thorough clean-up job there for a few days...

And that image didn't fail to remind me something I've seen recently:

Oh well, too many questions...

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

18 April 2014

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, RIP

"Claro que Gabriel García Márquez no ha muerto." (Of course Gabriel García Márquez is not dead.)

Never. Never.

Kate Upton wishes her breasts were smaller: a case for government intervention?

I am not a communist, but this case of possible neglect makes me wonder: shouldn't the objects in question be nationalized as a national treasure?

They’re two of the biggest stars in fashion, double-billing on the covers of Sports Illustrated, Vogue and Vanity Fair and lusted over by countless admirers — still, Kate Upton can’t stand them, reports The New York Post.
A possible case for EPA? Treasure (no pun intended) Dept?

On the other hand, this may be just a case of Kate scaring up more publicity, after all who can forget this:

Not I, at any rate...

Another book not to read

The blurb that starts with:

A young CIA lawyer uncovers a dangerous worldwide conspiracy, masterminded by forces within the US intelligence community.
and ends (more or less) with:
With the help of a neurotic hacker, ... unravels a conspiracy older than the CIA itself.
Nah... try again, please...

Why would a lawyer uncover... how could these CIA characters mastermind... nah... peace...