23 September 2017

On cognitive privilege and other animals


Don't even try to look for the definition of cognitive privilege in the dictionaries, it is too new. There is a definition of cognitive elite, though, that brings us close to the subject.
The cognitive elite of a society, according to Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, are those having higher intelligence levels and thus better prospects for success in life.
This definition brings you close to the steps needed for definition of cognitive privilege. Once defined, you can start happily operating this excellent tool for naming and shaming a new category of the privileged people.

The story started for me a few weeks ago, when the parents of my grandson met the teacher of his first school year. It so happened that the youngster was sent to a few private lessons to prepare him to school, for reasons not having to do with the story. He has some rudimentary reading and writing skills, nothing to brag about, but still. When the teacher heard about it, she went kind of pale. The reason, as she explained, was that she is used to receiving a bunch of schoolchildren from one single kindergarten, uniformly unable to read or write, so there was no need for her to treat anyone differently...

Of course, in this case the advantage of the boy is temporary, to disappear in a few weeks with the other kids learning and catching up. And, of course, as it is customary in schools, applying the famous peer pressure to those who dare to be different. Anyhow, the lesson here is that our schools are built for uniformity, one size fits all is the motto.

It so happened that in a few days after this meeting with the schoolteacher, I have stumbled on this disturbing discovery, made, most probably, by a millennial:

WHAT IS PRIVILEGE AND WHAT DO WE DO WITH IT?
There are many kinds of privilege besides white privilege: cognitive privilege, for example. We now know that intelligence is not something we have significant control over but is something we are born with. We are living in a society in which success is increasingly linked to one’s intelligence. This is not to say that intelligence is the only factor that is important. All that is implied is that below a certain threshold of intelligence, there are fewer and fewer opportunities. These opportunities are being shifted upward to jobs that require heavier cognitive lifting or else are being replaced by robots. Thus, the accident of having been born smart enough to be able to be successful is a great benefit that you did absolutely nothing to earn. Consequently, you have nothing to be proud of for being smart.
Of course, the author, Dan Williams, doesn't have in mind any malevolent actions against the cognitively privileged folks. His goals are, for now, somewhat more relaxed:
But when doing so, we must also bear in mind the purpose of drawing attention to privileges. The purpose is not to instill a sort of Catholic guilt in someone’s psyche, nor is it an excuse to make oneself feel better by demonizing another. The purpose of pointing out someone’s privilege is to remind them of the infinite number of experiences that are possible and the very large number of experiences that are actual that they know very little about. The purpose is to enlarge their moral consciousness, to make them more sympathetic to people who are less fortunate than they are.
Not that I understand the items listed under "the purpose", but at least there is no reason for alarm. I think so. The whole "cognitive privilege" idea so far hasn't put roots among the other "privileges", like "white privilege", "cis gender privilege", "male privilege" etc. Hopefully it will remain dormant, at least for a while.

Taken together, the case of my grandson and the (so far) abortive attempt on raising the specter of "cognitive privilege" brought me to check the situation in schools with regard of treatment the bright children receive.

Canada, United Kingdom, Sweden: the results are similar and disturbing. A few quotes from the three sources sum up the situation pretty well:
For ordinary families with academically able children in the inner city or small town Canada, the everyday reality is bored kids seeking outside outlets for their creative or higher intellectual pursuits.
"The attitude at the moment is that you either fit in or go," says Clare Lorenz, the chairman of the support society, Children of High Intelligence (CHI). "It isn't how things should be."
Results show cause for concern. In particular, primary school appeared to be a hostile environment [for gifted kids].
It definitely doesn't look like the school system, at least the public one, is geared and ready to foster excellence and provide the necessary support to gifted kids, who are our hope and our future.

The only ray of light so far comes from Finland:
“Whatever it takes” is an attitude that drives not just Kirkkojarvi’s 30 teachers, but most of Finland’s 62,000 educators in 3,500 schools from Lapland to Turku—professionals selected from the top 10 percent of the nation’s graduates to earn a required master’s degree in education.
Otherwise it is no surprise that private schools, that promise all kinds of special education treats (and frequently don't deliver), tend to proliferate and take the money off many credulous parents. Some are, of course, quite good, but why shouldn't the respective states invest more in their most precious resource?

Instead we are facing the rising waves of idiotic identity politics nitpicking and creation of harmful buzzwords like "cognitive privilege" and similar. Like this product of some festering minds*:

Standing Up to Pee Gives Boys an Unfair Advantage in Physics
In the latest example of identity politics taken to its absurd end, three Australian college professors believe that "playful urination practices – from seeing how high you can pee to games such as Peeball (where men compete using their urine to destroy a ball placed in a urinal) – may give boys an advantage over girls when it comes to physics."
Mind boggling? Not nowadays, I am afraid.

And, meanwhile, we are inexorably moving to the era of The Marching Morons.

Too bad.

(*) I am still willing to learn that the peeing advantage story is an elaborate spoof, but after reading the original article I am not so sure.

Update: A not insignificant cause for alarm:
A New York professor has sparked a debate among educators over whether or not algebra is too hard and should be dropped from the high school curriculum.

Andrew Hacker, a political science professor at Queens College, insists the difficulty of learning algebra is responsible for the United States' high dropout rate.
Sure, buddy. Let's all switch to nursery rhymes. Or political science, whatever.

20 September 2017

The bizarre bloopers of the computer age


The strange affair of two Spanish women flushing an impressive quantity of roughly €100,000 down the toilet might remain unexplained yet.

This, however, is not the point of the post. Take a look at the article chosen by the artificial intelligence behind CNN website as related to the above mentioned story:


While I wouldn't dare knock buses running on crap, the associative choice made by the AI in question is quite wondrous nevertheless. Unless, of course, you recall that one:
Freud famously retells the tale of the devil whose gifts of money turn to excrement upon his leaving. He uses this myth to buttress his findings from analysis which associate anxiety concerning money with an anal stage anxiety over excrement. Thus psychoanalytically speaking, money equals shit.
A Freudian AI behind the scenes in CNN? No shit?

18 September 2017

Israeli nuclear opacity and oversight: yes or no?


"We never had, don't have and will never have nuclear weapons. This doesn't mean that if someone decided to use such weapons against us, we wouldn't use them first."
Reportedly by Moshe Dayan*.

The above is an elegant (in an uncouth military way) prelude to the subject raised twice in three consecutive days by a Jerusalem Post writer:

JPOST EXCLUSIVE: ISRAEL NUCLEAR PROGRAM HAS LESS OVERSIGHT THAN OTHER DEMOCRACIES

IS IT TIME TO REGULATE ISRAEL’S ATOMIC AGENCY?

First of all, the bomb (no pun intended, it is only in the sense of a scoop here):
Israel has less oversight of its nuclear program than other Western democracies, a study by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, which was obtained exclusively by The Jerusalem Post, concludes.

A summary of decades of work on the issue by Avner Cohen, a Professor of nonproliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and a Senior Fellow at CNS, and CNS Davis fellow Brandon Mok, but updated with recent developments, the study is being publicized just days before the issue of oversight goes before the High Court of Justice on Wednesday.
...
...the study shows comprehensively for the first time that the three Western democracies with nuclear weapons, the US, Britain and France, all manage to maintain a high level of secrecy while providing for comprehensive legislation and robust oversight that Israel does not have.
That it took decades of work to reach this earth-shattering conclusion is a sure pointer to the permissiveness of some institutions of higher learning (in this case Middlebury Institute of International Studies, which is an "American graduate school within Middlebury College, a private university located in Middlebury, Vermont"). Since Vermont parents apparently invest a lot in the college, they might want to finance a study that will research a difference between Israel and the three Western democracies as well. Maybe it will take less than several decades, who knows?

Professor Cohen doesn't want his research to end up as a purely academic exercise, he and quite a few allies are going further:
Still, the High Court’s September 6 hearing will be the first time in history that a judicial body will exercise broad oversight over the IAEC, with Cohen being one of leaders of the charge.
You will notice that professor Cohen, in his magnanimity, doesn't disallow us to keep the (alleged, of course) nuclear weapons ("the issue for me is not disarmament"). He has even changed his mind on opacity:
His original battle to get Israel to phase out its opacity, to openly acknowledge its nuclear status, Cohen has stopped fighting.
Of course, it is easy to notice the neat trick: forcing the HCJ (High Court of Justice) to discuss the issue of oversight, which is what professor Cohen fights for, immediately makes the opacity issue a thing of the past. But whatever...

The expert on nonproliferation, professor Cohen has only pure and noble goals in mind. He even assures us that:
I wanted to also have people behind it who would be apolitical and support the petition regardless and independently of the issue of disarmament.
Indeed, and this is why among the petitioners, only those mentioned in the article, appear the Israeli Disarmament Movement, led by Sharon Dolev, who initiated the petition; Moshe “Mossi” Raz, a former Meretz MK; and the attorney who filed the petition, Itay Mack. You can look up on the net the opinions of the former MK and of the attorney. The Israeli Disarmament Movement, bless their simple and stupid little brains, doesn't require a lookup, does it? Surely as apolitical as they come. Now pull the other leg, professor.

Well, I didn't want to get personal in that post, and professor Cohen deserves all possible benefit of the doubt. I certainly hate to use terms like "traitor" some less moderate folks throw around, but he made not a small misstep here:
We live in a different world with different questions.
We? Be interesting whom exactly Professor Cohen means by that "we", since he couldn't possibly mean "we" as in "Israelis", could he now? Not to mention that, even if we discard the thorny issue of that "we" as a moot point, looking around from our small hillock in our small swamp, the "different world" mentioned looks somewhat worse than it used to be.

But no matter. I hope the HCJ will boot the petition out quickly enough.

As for my personal opinion on the whole brouhaha, which you undoubtedly crave for: I can tell you with full confidence that Windows 10 in its 64 bit version is an extremely stable and reliable OS for my desktop. Really - imagine two weeks in a row without a single reboot!

Update: the HCJ did boot the petition out. Good.

***

Yonah Jeremy Bob, the author of the two above articles, did his best not to infuse them with his (or his editors') personal or editorial opinions. However, one passage in the second article filled me with wonder:
This issue has become all the more poignant with an ongoing public debate about the “Submarine Affair” plaguing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and multiple cases by IAEC employees hitting the labor courts this week and last week.
How exactly does the nuclear opacity/oversight case connect to the submarine affair mentioned will remain an open question for me. Why don't issues like Brexit, global warming or POTUS' recent shenanigans make that opacity more poignant will never be explained to me, I feel. More's the pity.

(*) It is not a verbatim quote, and attribution is somewhat difficult too. I have heard it several times, but couldn't find a source. Any contribution will be welcome.

15 September 2017

A tiny antisemitic fail


This post is nothing but cute. No ideology, no challenges.

Ethnic jokes, as we all know, are frequently rewritten, having one nationality replaced by another. The interchangeability of such jokes is endless, provided the person changing them is paying a minimal attention to details. Sometimes the results of inattention are unintentionally funny. Like it this case:
Two Jews argued which of them would donate less money. When a servant passed by, the first Jew laid a penny and looked victoriously at the second. "For two," the second man said humbly and crossed himself.
Yeah, crossing oneself was a giveaway. Not that the joke is bad, just that small detail...

I wouldn't refer to the source, suffice to say that it is an essentially not anti-Semitic site, sometimes bringing up good and funny stories, pictures etc. But here is the original text, in Russian, for doubters.
Два еврея поспорили, кто из них меньше пожертвует денег. Когда мимо проходил служитель первый еврей положил копейку и победоносно посмотрел на второго. — За двоих, — смиренно произнес второй и перекрестился.

09 September 2017

BDS real face - lest we forget.

Nothing new in this, but bears refreshing from time to time. Omar Barghouti, in his past a student at Tel Aviv University and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI):

A Jewish state in Palestine in any shape or form cannot but contravene the basic rights of the indigenous Palestinian population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically….Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.
For doubters, check the text at 5:50 in this link.


30 August 2017

There are still judges in Jerusalem. For how long?


It is not news that our illustrious Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, is fighting the HCJ (High Court of Justice) for several years. It is not news that she and several other "patriotic" MKs are hell bent to reduce the authority of HCJ, especially its power to strike down the laws HCJ considers unconstitutional*.

The latest flare-up is related to the treatment of illegal aliens.
Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked attacked Tuesday the High Court of Justice's (HCJ) Monday decision—in which it ruled that illegal aliens refusing to be transferred to a third African country cannot be detained indefinitely—insisting that the principle of Zionsim will not be subordinated to 'a universalistic system of individual rights.'
Of course, as always with Ms Shaked, her unhappiness with this decision caused another eruption of bile, directed at HCJ. Not at the border guards that let the immigrants in, not at the (undefined) authorities that bussed the immigrants to the poor neighborhoods of Tel Aviv and left them there, mostly to cope for themselves. Nope, it is HCJ that is supposed to bear the brunt of her unhappiness, in her superbly demagogic crescendo.
In a speech before the Israel Bar Association conference in Tel Aviv, Shaked addressed the hot-button issue of demographics and the Zionist goal of preserving a Jewish majority in Israel at the expense of human rights for asylum seekers, genuine or otherwise.
Despite the vitriolic protests of some in the crowds, Shaked promised that "Zionism will not continue bowing its head before a universalistic system of individual rights."

"Israel of 2017 is a country that's constitutionally made up of crisscrossing individual rights, without its Basic Laws referencing Israel being the nation state of the Jewish people," Shaked lamented.

"Zionism has become a blind spot for the judiciary," she continued. "Questions concerning it have become irrelevant. National challenges are a judicial blind spot, not at all to be considered in today's climate, and certainly not to be ruled in favor of when faced with individual rights issues.
And of course, it is HCJ that stands in the way of Ms Shaked's dreams.
Shaked said the Israeli judicial branch operates as if in a "dream," adopting a "utopian and universal worldview sanctifying individual rights to an extreme degree and ceasing taking part in the struggle for Israel's very existence."

At this point, she called for an overhaul of the system that enables individual rights to displace the importance of national identity.
I have already dedicated two posts to this particular firebrand's and her colleagues' incessant attacks on HCJ. There is hardly anything to add but a short history lesson. To start with - Menachem Begin's view of democracy:
Begin’s deep commitment to democracy was also expressed in his belief that there is no democracy without the rule of law. In this matter as well, Justice Zamir attested that Begin served as an outstanding role model, who practiced what he preached. This was reflected, for example, in Begin’s respect for the independence of the Prosecutor-General’s Office and for the need to comply with judicial rulings, as evidenced by his saying “there are judges in Jerusalem.” A memorable example is the case of a High Court ruling declaring the Elon Moreh settlement to be illegal. Justice Zamir recalled that at the tempestuous cabinet session that followed the ruling, several ministers demanded that the Court’s decision be ignored. Begin, however, silenced them, declaring that “the courts in Israel have made their decision and the government is obligated to honor and carry out whatever they decided.”
There is more in that document, but let's see a more powerful example.
In 1952, on the eve of the reparations affair that year, the head of the Herut movement, our teacher and leader MK Menachem Begin, put in his writings ("a view of life" as his favorite expression) his view of the three elements of a national liberation movement: freedom of the individual, improvement [Tikun] of the society and the superiority of the law. ...

"The supremacy of the law will be expressed in the fact that an independent panel of judges will be granted not only the authority to determine, in the case of a complaint, the legality or justness of an administrative order or regulation issued by the executive branch, but also the power to adjudicate in the event of a complaint, whether the laws, enacted by the house of representatives (created, as we have seen, under a considerable influence of the government) are compatible with the Basic Law or the civil rights set forth in the law. "The right to a legal complaint in relation to the laws must be granted to every citizen if he considers himself directly or indirectly harmed by them.
Quite clear, isn't it? As well as timeless, but not for Ms Shaked and her bunch of supporters.

As well as being a critical issue that might be a first attempt to seriously undermine our democracy, the situation is a serious test for our (frequently spineless) prime minister. Does he understand the gravity of the attacks on HCJ? Is he aware of the dangers inherent in these attacks? Will he stand up to populism?

We shall see.

(*) To avoid nitpicking: there is no constitution in Israel, like in some other democracies, and the term "unconstititional" here means contradicting the basic laws of the state.

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27 August 2017

Putin and Netanyahu or journeys of a bibliophile


Netanyahu's trip to Sochi to meet Putin and to persuade him that Iranian corridor to Mediterranean is not a good idea, doesn't seem to be a great success story.

The Russian version of that same article in Pravda is titled: "Netanyahu's Fiasco in Sochi...". For the English version the Pravda's editors have chosen a softer version:

Benjamin Netanyahu’s nightmare comes true as Putin crushes his plans

The author of that article is slightly derisive of our Bibi, as could be seen in the opening paragraph:
Benjamin Netanyahu's nightmare is coming true. The guards of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and Hezbollah fighters prepare to attack Israel by using Syria as a springboard. The Israeli Prime Minister shared the "terrible news" on August 23, 2017 during a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Sochi (the meeting lasted for almost 2.5 hours). Despite Netanyahu's emotional state, the Russian leader remained calm.
The article, however, is not wholly unsympathetic to Israel's stand on Iranian expansion:
According to experts, Netanyahu does not exaggerate too much when he talks about Tehran's plans to expand its influence throughout the Middle East.
Putin, as usual, displayed his majestic indifference:
"Iran is Russia's strategic ally in the Middle East," Putin said. "But Israel is also an important partner for Russia in the region," he added.
In other words: nothing doing, Bibi. As a matter of fact, Russia is not as neutral as the above quote might make you think. The article doesn't mince words:
The truth is that Tehran is the only counterbalance for Moscow to the powerful alliance of wealthy Arabian monarchies that try to establish an Arab analogue of NATO in the endeavor to impose Washington's rules in the entire Middle East.

Therefore, the Kremlin is interested to further strengthen Tehran's influence in the region. The question of accepting Iran into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has almost been resolved. It is Russia that advocates the early adoption of Iran at the SCO. When it happens, the fact itself will remove US plans for air strikes on the Iranian territory.
And the conclusion is quite unequivocal:
Benjamin Netanyahu failed to convince Russian President Putin of the need "to stop Iran's expansion in the Middle East." Israel is a friendly country for Russia, but it is not up to Tel Aviv to teach the Kremlin how to structure Russia's policy in the Middle East.
Makes sense if you sit in Kremlin, of course.

The uncharacteristically brief statement by Bibi, after he emerged from the meeting, seems to confirm the Pravda's points. Very unlike the usually bombastic overwhelming success reports from same source.



Jerusalem Post, which in most cases is sympathetic to Bibi, has a completely different view of the meeting and its purpose(s). In the article What Netanyahu hoped to gain from meetings with Putin, its author, Herb Keinon, explains:
So why did Netanyahu go? Because the objective is less to try to convince Putin of Israel’s position, and more to look him in the eyes and tell him squarely what Israel will do if Iran begins to militarily entrench itself in Syria.

Israel’s message to Putin, which is the same message that was conveyed to the Americans last week via a blue-ribbon security delegation headed by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, is that Israel will act militarily.

Netanyahu wants this to be a factor in Putin’s decision-making process.
That, of course, puts the visit in a totally different light - if you believe it.

Whatever. In any case, Bibi might (deservedly) claim that he didn't return from Sochi empty-handed. Because:
At their meeting in Sochi on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a copy of the first-ever Bible printed with Rashi’s commentary.
Putin certainly knows how to sweeten the bitter medicine, after all it is not the first time:
Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu received a special gift from Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Moscow on Thursday — a nearly 500-year-old copy of Roman-Jewish historian Josephus’ book The Jewish War.
Well, at least there is a beginning of a library, if not much else.

Cool.

Update: Apparently there is a third version of the meeting coverage and its results. By Environmental Minister Ze’ev Elkin, a Russian speaker who was present at the meeting:
While refusing to comment on whether Netanyahu was able to convince Putin to rein in Iran’s regional military ambitions, Elkin said the meeting would have “very important implications.”
So, which version is your preferred one?

24 August 2017

Professor Mark Bray and the lessons of history

Y'all might say that I am somewhat obsessed with the modern academy. And you might be right at that, but I think that behind this obsession there are some sound reasons: namely your kids, being incessantly brainwashed. Here is another shining example:

Mark Bray, a poet of violence
Professor Mark Bray "is a historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in Modern Europe. He completed his PhD in Modern European and Women's and Gender History at Rutgers University in 2016".

As you will be able to see in the blurb of one of his books, Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street, Mark Bray is one of the Occupy Wall Street "organizers" and quite proud of it:
OWS organizer Mark Bray combines his direct experience in the movement with nearly 200 interviews with the most active, influential architects of Occupy Wall Street, to reveal the revolutionary anarchist core of Occupy.
Proud to the extent of defining the real goal of the Occupiers:
Although The New York Times and CNN thought that OWS simply wanted tighter financial regulations and a millionaire's tax, Bray shows that the vast majority of organizers called for the abolition of capitalism altogether.
Of course, with such pedigree and such views Mr Bray can't stand away from expressing his sympathy and support to the rising ranks and violent habits of Antifa. Here is a sample of his views:



But it is not really his views of Antifa or views of his interlocutors that are of interest to me, not for the purpose of this specific post, at least. Rather his credentials as a teacher and his knowledge of history. Check out what he says in that clip (around 8:58):
The real enemies of free speech are fascists, we've seen that historically, we've seen that they are the ones that if they had their way they will shut down free speech.
Really, professor? The fascists are the only real enemies of free speech we have seen historically? And not the sworn enemies of capitalism of your ilk that made violence their main tool and that came to the scene way before the fascists you have in mind? This is what they taught you in Rutgers? This is what you teach the students in the Ivy League Dartmouth College?

Of course, you may waive this off - another professor of the infamous "studies". Yep, another one, but he is teaching the kids, not you - and there are a myriad of his ilk.

Too bad.

21 August 2017

Professor Ghodsee and superiority of socialist female's orgasms

A woman working at a collective farm near Moscow in 1955
One of the more troubling signs in the Western academy is the creeping revisionism of everything related to one of the two most repressive and bloody political movements of the XX century - the Soviet style socialism. This post is about an example of modern days feminist "research", based on socialist propaganda, chiefly meant to hail the dubious achievements in the women's liberation and empowerment. Taken as granted by people ready and willing to be duped.

The main reason for this post isn't to fight the misinformation and improve the quality of the relevant research - it is mission impossible in the current atmosphere on the campuses. Nope, it is mainly to warn some of my friends from the Western countries who took the misinformation and misinterpretation seriously and believed it.

***

The woman in the picture - let's call her Dasha, since she will appear in this post a few times - was chosen to grace the masthead of a curious article. The article caused a serious bout of jaw dropping amongst my friends, who, like I, experienced first hand the real life in the socialist heaven. To start with, it hits you between the eyes with its headline:

The reader is not asked to ponder whether the ladies had indeed better sex under socialism, just made curious why. Obviously the author has decided that the former is a solid fact.

The anchor statement in the article: "Women under Communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure." It is chiefly based on a longish video, comparing favorably the wise attitude of the East Germany's communist party towards all matters sexual, including sex education in schools. There is one slight problem with this piece of evidence: it is based on the communist-produced and fairly crude propaganda clips, created, as it was done all over the "socialist camp", with one goal in mind: brainwashing. Usually laughed off by the local citizenry at the time as a sordid pack of lies, it seems to work today, if a professor of Gender and Women's Studies* sees it fit to be used as valid historical document.

But I'm not into comparing East and West Germanies, so let's go to the Motherland of that unfortunate social phenomenon, the Soviet Union. Let's take as an example our Dasha and see how she enjoyed all these orgasm-inducing "rights and privileges unknown in liberal democracies at the time" of the socialist heaven that the author of the article so touchingly presents:

1. Major state investments in their education and training.

Nope, there weren't any special investments for education of the better gender. In case of Dasha, had she decided to throw down her pitchfork and enroll in an university, she would first have to ask for a permission from her collective farm management to travel to an university and be issued an internal passport (you couldn't travel without one, and collective farm workers got a passport only in special cases - a form of slavery incomprehensible in the West, but probably unknown to the Western scientists in the field of Gender and Women's Studies).

The next step Dasha would have to make is to pass the entrance exams. No special allowance for gender there, Soviet Union practiced a purely merit-based entrance examination system, the only exception made to favor/disfavor these or other ethnic minorities. Not even mentioning bribes and family connections...

And the last but not the least: Dasha's ability to study these 5 years required to get a master's degree were largely dependent on support her parents could possibly muster. Yes, the education was free and Dasha would have probably gotten a monthly stipend, but far from enough to survive. To expect that her collective farm parents would have been able to support Dasha - nah, very unlikely.

Dasha's sisters from the city had much better chances to get an university education, but it was too dependent on the financial situation of their parents. Not much difference in that, unless the parents belonged to the "more equal" category or, as it was widely practiced, were stealing something or other.

2. Full incorporation of women into the labor force

Assuming our Dasha was lucky to become an engineer, a doctor or other graduate of the best educational system in the world (but of course), she might have conceivably been assigned (yes, available jobs were mostly assigned after graduation, with very few exceptions) to an appropriate socialist enterprise. That Dasha's chances to get a position that fit her education were pretty low is besides the point. What is more to the point is that Dasha's chances to get an apartment (or even a room in a communal apartment she could consider her own) were practically nil. It usually took years and years of waiting in line for an available and miserable one or two room flat, and for an unmarried citizen it usually meant years and years in a dormitory with one or more roommates. Kinda puts a stop to one's sexual plans, doesn't it? Taking into account the scarcity of cars and, in case one got a boyfriend with a car, the puny size of the back seat, the difficulty of having any sex, not to mention superior one, are limited to forests, parks, dark alleys, weather or parents obligingly going on a vacation out of the city etc.

But, assuming that Dasha succeeded to come through all this unscathed, without a social disease (rampant in the place at the time), avoided falling into the hands of a pimp (yep, even in the socialist motherland there were quite a few of them) and got happily married, her aspirations, as far as sex is concerned, might still remain unfulfilled. If her hubby didn't belong to the "more equal" or otherwise financially well to do family, their joint effort to bring enough money to feed the young family, their time spent in the endless queues for food and other necessary items, their daily exhaustion etc... the going joke was that the best birth control instrument is the engineer's salary, which is completely true. Of course, you might notice, birth control and sex are not one and the same. True, but take into account the scarcity of the former...

In short, engineer Dasha wasn't too much into sex, not after her honeymoon.

3. Generous maternity leave allowances

Yep. Maternity leave there was and it was growing with time, up to three years at the end of USSR, if my memory is serving me right. The only catch was that the number of paid months was limited to 4 (four). So most of the women never used the generosity of unpaid leave: to survive on one salary - if there was a husband, of course - was practically impossible. Another one of the Soviet myths fit for brainwashing the Western starry-eyed sympathizers.

4. Quaranteed free child care.

That guarantee, as much of what was written in the Soviet constitution (indeed, on paper, a wondrous document, most of it fiction, of course) isn't worth the paper - even that of NYT, where the article is printed. First of all, the available places in kindergartens were scarce, especially if you were a medium/big city dweller. Even when available, it frequently meant a long bus ride from one's home to the kindergarten - only adding to that exhaustion at the end of the day. And even if you got to be a lucky parent with a place in the kindergarten: the average number of days your kid would have spent there was about half of the planned, due to incessant illnesses. And the cases where, for instance, the kindergarten staff will keep the windows open during the wintertime, to make more kids sick, were very frequent as well...

Add to all of the above the rampant alcoholism, the habitual wife beating, the cramped living conditions with large families squeezed in one or two rooms - yep, all that surely encouraged exquisite sex. Oh well.

As any Soviet citizen with brain a bit larger than that of hamster will tell you: find a person who waxes lyrically about his/her life (sex life included) under the Soviet regime, and I'll show you a person of privilege, not a regular Joe the Public.

And of course I just have to bring up this exquisite passage from the article:
Consider Ana Durcheva from Bulgaria, who was 65 when I first met her in 2011. Having lived her first 43 years under Communism, she often complained that the new free market hindered Bulgarians’ ability to develop healthy amorous relationships.
The hilarious quote caused me a few laughs. I am not disclosing my age, but I still could compare my amorous relationships before and after my 43. There simply ain't any comparison, you are totally right, Ana, but I am sure it is not because of the social changes Bulgaria underwent. The weather was better back then too...

Dasha on the collective farm

But why have we, indeed, decided to send our Dasha off to the big city to study? What's the reason behind it? Wouldn't she be better off and happier where she is - shoveling hay with that pitchfork? Waking up at 4:00 AM to feed the livestock, then to the fields with her instrument of true socialist labor (as depicted). Six days a week at least, covered by chigger bites and other signs of the wildlife's attention on her body?

We should, possibly, mention that the sanitary conditions at Dasha's accommodations, such as lack of running water, the ubiquitous outhouse, the communal bathhouse once a week etc. - all these were hardly conducive to sexual desires, not to mention deeds. But Dasha was young and where there is a will, there is a way. After all, it is not out of the question that her BF got a few rubbers when the supplies truck visited the collective farm's grocery last week. And he might have even found a way to wash up... but let's not fantasize too much.

And I don't even want to go into unplanned pregnancy and the consequences thereof... too sad.

Conclusion

When I read sentences like these:
Although gender wage disparities and labor segregation persisted, and although the Communists never fully reformed domestic patriarchy, Communist women enjoyed a degree of self-sufficiency that few Western women could have imagined. Eastern bloc women did not need to marry, or have sex, for money.
and when I read the work based on quotes from socialist era "sexologists" and references to August Bebel, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, I feel not just a temporal displacement (am I forced to listen to an interminable lecture by a party chieftain again?) but dread. Dread for the youngsters undergoing all this brainwashing by "progressive" professors of Gender and Women's Studies and similar exalted sciences.

Because the seeds these professors sow have already set roots and we see the results on the streets, where jobless (thanks to their useless diplomas) SJWs, Occupiers, Antifa and similar victims of miseducation, are paving the way to the bright socialist future.

Where some of us have already been once.

***

(*) About the author of the article: Kristen R. Ghodsee (born April 26, 1970) is an American ethnographer and a Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at Bowdoin College. Also - Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures in at the University of Pennsylvania, according to this.

It is interesting to notice that under the rubric "Criticism" there appears the following statement:
In a 2014 essay in the European Journal of Women’s Studies, philosopher Nanette Funk included Ghodsee among a handful of “Revisionist Feminist Scholars” who uncritically tout the achievements of communist era women’s organizations, ignoring the oppressive nature of authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe.
Bullseye.

But the trains run on time, right, professor Ghodsee?

19 August 2017

Like everyone - with a dollop of blood


Igor Guberman - a writer, a poet and a superb storyteller, with an irresistible true story, one of myriad he tells so well.

One day in Berlin, my friend was asked to talk to a certain woman who insisted that she was Jewish and therefore the [Jewish] community should help her. He agreed to talk with her and, first of all, asked, naturally, why was she sure that her mother was Jewish. Because my mother always baked Matzos on Easter [sic!], the woman answered.

"And how did she bake it?" asked the friend.

"According to the law, like everyone else," the woman answered, "she kneaded the dough, added the yeast ..."

My friend straightened up in surprise, and the woman hastily continued:

- And a little blood ...

Yup.

18 August 2017

My dear soulmate...


Benny Ziffer (Hebrew: בני ציפר‎‎; born 1953) is an Israeli author and journalist.
The text below was posted by him on his Facebook page. August 10, 2017

My soulmate, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (and I certainly feel that I can address you by this title, "a soulmate"). You were revealed to me yesterday at the conference in support of you in the full glory of a great leader, who brings comfort to his people in times of trouble. Your speech was just as ingenious. There was no unnecessary word or word missing. You chose the simplest words to convey a profound idea - just as the classical speech theory of Cicero's school required. You did not shout but completely dominated your baritone voice. In this respect you are the greatest speaker of our time. Recently, the writer Leonid Pakarovsky wrote that you compare with Begin and Jabotinsky, if not surpassing them, as a speaker.

Your deep idea was not that the left and the media were chasing you - it was just the visible part. The deeper subject of your speech was actually the issue of love. And if one day they will study this speech in schools - and I strongly recommend that the art of speech be taught in schools, in order to teach the people of Israel to speak out properly - your speech will be entitled "Greatest Speeches on Love."

Because first and foremost you cried out for your love for your wife Sarah - and with what authenticity and honesty! You actually said that the man's first job is to take care of the honor of the woman he loves. I do not recall many other people in Israel who expressed so powerfully and publicly their love for their own woman. And turned their private love into a kind of allegory for the leader's love for his people.

And here is the greatness of the speech Netanyahu delivered last night at his support conference. He told the Likud crowd that just as his wife is being humiliated, they are humiliated as well. And just as he will not let anyone humiliate his wife, he will not let anyone humiliate them. And all this is because of one thing: that he loves her (Sarah) and loves them (the people).

And because this speech was entirely based on the theme of love, it was so strong. And so effective, as shown by the applause of the audience in love with Netanyahu. This is the audience who feels that he is being constantly scorned and despised and that his judgment is doubted. This is the audience for whom I feel so much because I, too, can say what I feel, from the moment I join him: the contempt for me, my talents and my judgment and even my sanity. I, too, feel the chilly and quiet contempt of those who see themselves as aristocrats of this country.

My soulmate, Netanyahu. When these aristocrats trampled me with their feet, you held out a loving hand and let me feel again that I was worth something. And that's exactly what you did yesterday to your wife, and also to the people who came to greet you at the support conference. You told them you loved them.

***

I wouldn't call it nauseating or anything else, for that matter.
Just saying that even the man in the picture above would have him shot.
And that man purely loved his backside licked...

The Hebrew original:

ידיד-נפשי, ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו (ואני בהחלט מרגיש שאני יכול לפנות אליו בתואר הזה, ״ידיד נפש״). אתה נגלית לי אתמול בכנס התמיכה בך במלוא היפעה של מנהיג גדול, המביא נחמה לעמו בעת צרה. נאומך היה גאוני, לא פחות. לא היתה בו מלה מיותרת או מלה חסרה. בחרת במלים הפשוטות ביותר כדי להעביר רעיון עמוק- בדיוק כפי שדורשת תורת הנאום הקלאסית מבית מדרשו של קיקרו. לא צעקת אלא שלטת לחלוטין בגווני הקול הבריטוני שלך. מהבחינה הזאת אתה גדול הנואמים של ימינו. וכבר כתב על כך לא מכבר הסופר לאוניד פקרובסקי , שאתה משתווה אם לא עולה על בגין וז׳בוטינסקי כנואם.
הרעיון העמוק שהבעת לא היה שהשמאל והתקשורת רודפים אותך- זה היה הרעיון רק למראית עין. הנושא העמוק יותר של נאומך היה בעצם סוגיית האהבה. ואם יום אחד ילמדו את הנאום הזה בבתי הספר - ואני ממליץ בחום שבכלל יילמד מקצוע הנאום בבתי הספר כדי ללמד את בני ישראל להתבטא נכוחה - ייכנס הנאום שלך תחת הכותרת ״גדולי הנאומים על האהבה״.
כי בראש וראשונה זעקת בו את אהבתך לרעייתך שרה - ובאיזו אותנטיות וכנות. אמרת בעצם שתפקידו הראשון של הגבר הוא לדאוג לכבודה של האשה שהוא אוהב. איני זוכר עוד הרבה אנשי מדינה בישראל שהביעו בכזאת עוצמה ובפומבי את אהבתם לאשה הפרטית שלהם. והפכו את אהבתם הפרטית הזאת לכעין אלגוריה לאהבה של המנהיג לעמו.
וכאן הגדולה של הנאום שנשא אמש נתניהו בכנס התמיכה בו. הוא אמר לקהל אנשי הליכוד שכשם שמבזים את אשתו, כך גם מבזים אותם. וכשם שהוא לא ייתן לאף אחד לבזות את אשתו, כך הוא לא ייתן לאף אחד לבזות אותם. וכל זה משום דבר אחד: כי הוא אוהב אותה (את שרה) ואוהב אותם (את העם).
ועל שום שהנאום הזה היה מבוסס כולו על נושא האהבה, הוא היה חזק כל כך. ואפקטיבי כל כך, כפי שהראו התשואות של הקהל המאוהב בנתניהו. זה הקהל שמרגיש שמזלזלים בו ומבזים אותו בלי הרף ומפקפקים בשיקול דעתו. זה הקהל שאני כל כך חש חלק ממנו כי גם אני חוזה מבשרי מה שהוא חש, מרגע שהצטרפתי אליו: את הזלזול בי, בכישרונותי ובשיקול דעתי ואף בשפיותי. גם אני מרגיש כמוהו את הצינה והבוז השקט של אלה הרואים את עצמם כאריסטוקרטים של המדינה הזאת .
ידיד נפשי, נתניהו. כשהאריסטוקרטים הללו רמסו אותי ברגליהם, הושטת לי יד אוהבת ונתת לי להרגיש מחדש שאני שווה משהו. וזה מה שעשית אתמול בדיוק גם לרעייתך, וגם לאנשים שבאו לחלות את פניך בכנס התמיכה. אמרת להם שאתה אוהב אותם

03 August 2017

Is our Knesset barking? Kaya Netanyahu bill, Alan Dershowitz etc


There are lots of law proposals being in process of lively debate, modification and sometimes quiet death on someone's shelf. Some of them outlandish, some reasonable and some (like the hotly debated recently law on state assistance to disabled people) vital for thousands of citizens, eagerly awaiting tangible results.

Meanwhile, the first family which, for reasons* of its own, decided to add to its roster a first dog two years ago, has experienced a few domestic upheavals due to the said canine's tendency to bite all and sundry.
The dog, Bibi assured his constituents, was “gentle and of a good disposition.”

Kaya herself must not have gotten the memo: five months later, during a reception at the Prime Minister’s Residence, she bit a member of Knesset who leaned in to pet her. Three months after that, she struck again, biting one of Netanyahu’s secret service agents. Eventually, she also bit the prime minister himself.
Since Kaya is the first dog, I don't even try to argue that this behavior is unseemly or should be in any way restricted. The first dog sees, the first dog bites. As it should be. There is a small catch, however: if a dog bites somebody inside the Israeli borders, the dog should be quarantined for a period of time (ten days) required to ensure it (the dog) isn't rabid.

Which might be good enough for a regular dog, but not for the first one, apparently. Bibi wants Kaya to stay at home, with its loving family. So, to accomplish this, the Knesset members were yanked out of richly deserved summer break. To vote on an amendment to the law which... you guessed the rest. Yep, Kaya the serial biter will stay at home, thanks to our suddenly proactive lawmakers and the appropriate legal beagles. So much for lawmaking and lawmakers.

Kaya, meanwhile, got more exposure in our media, paired with another member of the first family, Yair Netanyahu, Bibi's son.

According to a Facebook post by Talila Amitai, one of the Netanyahu family's neighbors, Yair Netanyahu took the family dog Kaiya for a walk in one of the local dog parks but failed to pick up her waste. Amitai wrote that when she pointed this out to the Israeli leader's son, who was accompanied by a bodyguard at the time, he stuck up his middle finger towards her in response.
There are different versions of the event (or non-event), but as far as Kaya concerned, it is a moot point. She poops, the rest is history, with its different versions and interpretations of thereof.

But what is the connection between the canine poop and the illustrious legal man, mentioned in the headline, one of the more eloquent supporters of Israel and all around brilliant person?

I happened to hear a summary of an interview Alan Dershowitz granted to Israeli radio and his views on the ongoing investigations into alleged Netanyahu's financial and other misdeeds frankly surprised me. To start with, he somehow concluded that Israeli police, on its own, persecutes Bibi. Of course, the usual culprit that motivates the police is, according to Dershowitz, the leftist media. But curiously, he has decided that police pursues our poor Bibi using its free will and free initiative.

Not to mention the inherent absurdity of the idea of our police being politically motivated, professor Dershowitz obviously doesn't know much about the local police, its authority and its betters, which are not that different from those in US of A. The attorney general here is the person whose authority it is to open (or to close) any police investigation, much as it is in US. Blaming the cops in the various investigations plaguing Bibi lately is missing the point by a mile (or 1.6 km).

I have googled up other opinions on the subject by professor Dershowitz and was surprised to find out that he expressed his deep dissatisfaction by this state of affairs quite a lot of times. Here is one example, from January 2017:
...Dershowitz took aim at the Israeli left and media outlets for what he described as attempts to use ongoing police investigations into the Netanyahu family to hobble the Prime Minister.

"[T]hey can't beat him through democratic means, so they're trying to use these investigations and the media to push him out of office. That would really undercut democracy. He's been elected by a proper method of election in Israel and he should be left to complete his term without interference. If there are issues they should be pursued after he leaves office.”
So, the Prime Minister, according to this, should be granted immunity while in the office. And the reasoning behind the idea is:
"The Prime Minister in this case has to work 24/7 particularly now, between now and the time when President Obama leaves office, to respond to the U.N. Security Council resolution, to the Kerry speech, to try to prevent another Security Council resolution - the idea that the Prime Minister is now going to have to be questioned about what appears to be relatively trivial incidents, really undercuts democracy."
So, Bibi works 24/7 and couldn't be bothered. I would agree if it were not widely known that he spent 5 years fighting the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, which, according to him, is (was) a part of that much hated leftist media that destroys the country and him personally. If the relentless fight for the freedom of canine quarantine described above (2 years only) wasn't so widely know, etc. A good part of these 24/7 isn't spent worrying about the fate of the country, but about the fate and the chair of one Benjamin Netanyahu, unfortunately.

Another poor argument used by Alan Dershowitz in the interview was "this is not how things are done in United States". Really? Kenneth Starr vs William Clinton and Robert Mueller vs Donald Trump - how is it exactly different from investigations of Bibi? Aside of multi-million budgets unseen in Israeli police cases?

In another article (Hebrew), professor Dershowitz went even further:
When asked what he thought of Israel's former prime minister [Olmert] behind bars, he replied, "First of all, the prime minister was sent to prison for things that were done before he was prime minister, and he was not sent to prison during his term of office, only after he left. Attorney general said unequivocally that the issue under investigation was not similar to what was being investigated in Olmert's or Sharon's case, and that suspicions in their cases were much more serious."
First of all, the chief reason Olmert decided to quit was the ongoing investigation. Then, to prejudge the seriousness of the cases against Bibi, when the final conclusions and relevant materials haven't been passed by the police to the attorney general seems to be out of character for a famous legal mind.

Anyway, logical or not, I can already see a bill granting immunity to the incumbent PM being pushed through the Knesset by Bibi's faithful, whose number is legion. And I sincerely hope this attempt will fail.

Besides - wouldn't now be too close to the Kaya Netanyahu bill?

One member of the family at a time, please.

(*) The reasoning is a bit outdated, since the current POTUS, unlike his predecessors, isn't known for his love of four legged beasts.

01 August 2017

A curious case of BBC that forgot to bark in the daytime


What with the unrelenting flow of news coming out of the White House these days, the media is overwhelmed. Their journos are too busy trying to catch up with the stream.

Well, this is the only explanation I have got for the most curious omission in BBC reporting from their favorite corner of the world, I mean the Middle East. In their reporting of a sad case where a British man has been arrested as part of an anti-terror operation while on holiday in Turkey, they have missed an important clue. Not that the clue is relevant to the fate of Joe Robinson, the British man in question. But let's put the things in order. The man first:

Mr Robinson, who is originally from Lancashire, spent five months fighting as a volunteer with the YPG against the so-called Islamic State group and has previously spoken about his experiences in media reports. Although the YPG is not a proscribed group in the UK, Turkey views it as the extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
I can hardly add something to the quote. Possibly a plea to the British government to intervene more forcefully and to save the British subject from an almost certain incarceration by the friendly and oh how democratic NATO member and its leader going from mad to crazy. But it is hardly my business.

The other thing, though, the writing on the wall (no pun intended) is somewhat different, being totally in the domain of the Elders. The fact that not a single BBC employee got even remotely curious about it...

נַ נַחְ נַחְמָ נַחְמָן מְאוּמַן‎‎

This text adorns many a wall and a fence in Israel, being a part of the local lore. A curious person with access to Google could have easily deciphered the meaning, available in English in Wiki:
Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman (Hebrew: נַ נַחְ נַחְמָ נַחְמָן מְאוּמַן‎‎) is a Hebrew language name and song used by a subgroup of Breslover Hasidim colloquially known as the Na Nachs. The complete phrase is Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me'uman. It is a kabbalistic formula based on the four Hebrew letters of the name Nachman, referring to the founder of the Breslov movement, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, along with a reference to his burial place in Uman, Ukraine.
But the text evidently was mistaken by the BBC editors for Arabic, most probably related to Daesh/ISIS and not a single man/woman of BBC has caught on the possibility to explore this golden lode of a Zionist plot  - obviously of some import.

Opportunity lost...

Hat tip: P.V.

Update: The mystery resolved, thanks to Gilead, whose comment includes this article:
Timothy Paul Jacobs Wordsworth, speaking to The Jerusalem Post from northern Syria on Monday, said he was inspired to join the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria because he was instilled with the desire to do everything he can to help people.

In the 1990s, he was a soldier for the British military and served as a NATO peacekeeper in Bosnia and Kosovo. However, his life took a different direction as the horrors of Islamic State continued to mount.
And, most important for this post:
Wordsworth has been spray-painting a popular hassidic slogan in places that the Kurdish forces recapture, former Islamic State bases and mosques around Syria. Sometimes the slogan appears alongside the Islamic State flag.
So there:


Many thanks, Gilead!

29 July 2017

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