Archive for September, 2007

Entry for September 28, 2007

September 28, 2007

TECHNOLOGY

Until two days ago my blog used to display entries publicly only starting from September 23, 2007 though I assiduously had been keeping my Internet diary since September 13. To get into the entries dating September 13 through September 22 you had to get a “special permission” after typing in your Yahoo!ID and password. The computer kept stubbornly referring everybody (yours truly including 🙂 to the two respective boxes. No matter how hard I tried to follow my daughter’s advice and change the blog settings to “PUBLIC”, no matter how much my son was trying to help me (all the way across Europe) make my blog friendlier, blog.360.yahoo.com was adamant in keeping watchful guard of my earlier entries. Finally, I copied all the guarded entries and pasted them into the first entry which was public, i.e. September 23, 2007. That explains the unusual format of the entry: about a dozen earlier entries have been gathered under September 23.

Actually, that snag didn’t baffle me to a large degree. It put me in mind of the early 20th century (well, I’m not that old :), just read about it and watched Mikhail Romm’s film “Ordinary Fascism”). How much people relied on the cutting edge of science and technology at that time! Radio, telephone and telegraph were invented, canals on Mars were “discovered”, first airships and then airplanes started into the skies. Remember Pierre and Marie Curie’s pioneering work in radioactivity and Earnest Rutherford’s research in nuclear physics? Which was the most prestigeous and the most highly paid profession? That of an engineer! what were the books most avidly read? Science fiction by Jules Verne and H.G.Wells. What did all that result into? World War I, communism in Russia, fascism in Germany, artificial famine in Ukraine, World War II, the Holocaust and, finally, Chernobyl. Period. The same message is conveyed in a sick joke about the announcement in an airplane soon after the flight started: “Ladies and gentlemen, you are kindly welcome aboard our airliner. As an experiment, the plane is piloted 100 per cent automatically. There is no crew and no air-hostesses aboard. Everything is operated automatically from the ground through the gadgets installed all over this airplane. This annoncement was also recorded earlier. However, do not be anxious. Our technology is very reliable… reliable… reliable… reliable…”

Technology is no remedy for all our ills and difficulties. What is much more important is what comes BEHIND and WITH the technology. When my colleagues at work start bragging about the latest models of their cell phones which let them download and watch video programmes, I ask myself: what kind of video is that? How much does it contribute to my colleagues’ spiritual growth? I have digital TV at home. About 100 channels, I believe. But in the 1960’s I could watch more of high-quality programmes on b/w TV (drama, ballet, literature, classical music, etc) than I can find them nowadays.

That reminds me also of Karl Marx’ expression “the shining peaks of science” . His idea was that there is no high-road leading to science. Only those can reach the shining peaks of science who tirelessly climb up the “stony mountainous trails”. All the time teeming crowds keep scrambling among the rocks higher and higher. When at last — breathless and sweating all over — they reach the peak thinking each of them is a king and “on top”, they realize there’s still something above. Or is it Somebody?

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Entry for September 27, 2007

September 27, 2007

A quote from Mark Twain: “MAN IS THE ONLY ANIMAL THAT BLUSHES – OR NEEDS TO”

I thought of it yesterday when I saw three teenagers begging for alms in a metro car. The boys did not look particularly needy. It was almost certain that they lived in families, each of them was not without a parent and, moreover, they weren’t street children. They were rather confident about doing the “right thing”. Why hadn’t anybody told them that panhandling was a shame?

What is SHAME, then? In my understanding the feeling of shame is a signal that a person identifies him/her-self with a certain group as the one who possesses the values which are believed by the group to be positive. Call it self-esteem, if you like. The moment the person feels, (or when it is openly revealed) that he/she is short of or lacks the values mentioned, an inner voice says to them: “You are not adequate. You may become worthless, unlovable, fragmented, abandoned, cut-off from the group.”

In this case a question of values crops up. Definitely, values are not being taught nowadays. What is being inculcated, are rather anti-values. The most pathetic thing is that the anti-values are considered an acceptable norm. When I was rather young, one could hear some obscene language among boys – but never in the presence of girls. Nowadays when you are passing a group of teenagers, you are almost certain to catch slimy phrases uttered and heard by both boys and girls. Some fifty years ago there were some high school kids who used to smoke. As a rule, those were layabouts and underachievers, and they smoked in lavatories trying to keep their habit (at least from teachers) as secret as possible. Now smoking is in vogue. More than a half of pupils are addicted to cigarettes. There was a TV programme about some schools allotting special smoking grounds for that category of their educatees! With my own eyes I could once observe high school kids who stood smoking next to their teachers in the school backyard. That’s not the limit. What would you say to a hefty dumb-head of about 30 who is taking a pee in a busy street of a capital city enjoying the shock experienced by passers-by? In a normal society that would be viewed as an outrage against morals and the person would be arrested. Not in the place where the moral threshold is so low that people do not feel it as pain. Not in this country.

Entry for September 25, 2007

September 25, 2007

WITH MY TONGUE IN MY CHEEK

There follows a humorously composed Reuters sham report about my daughter and her friends’ immersion in the Atlantic when Sunday before last they went together to the beach in New York City

Reuters: Last weekend some rare New Yorkers could observe an international Atlantic dip, which was a joint effort of four Europeans from Germany, Serbia and Ukraine. With the water temperature in its low fifties and gusts of freezing wind from Labrador, the dippers kept claiming the water was warm. Yaroslava Babych, 31, currently a graduate student at GWU who came from Washington D.C. the day before to initiate the plunge, said with her charming smile that her ambition was to tap the full potential of the Big Pond for the residents of the Big Apple. Being from Ukraine, she saw nothing “heroic” in her endeavor, since from her early childhood she had been encouraged by her parents to swim in chilly waters. Many Ukrainians, including their President, are known to be dedicated ice-swimmers

Entry for September 24, 2007

September 24, 2007

MARSHROOTKAS

A “marshrootka” is a word known to every foreigner in Ukraine. The closest English correspondence is a “shuttle-bus”. Privately owned, they appeared in the streets of major Ukrainian cities some twenty years ago to run alongside regular buses and trolleybuses — almost always those agile mini-vans had the same route numbers as the buses or trolleybuses which were functioning on the same line . When state-financed public transport was practically collapsing in the early eighties, marshrootkas started carrying the bulk of passengers. The new transport was rather prestigious in the very beginning. A person travelling in a marshrootka was considered to be “moneyed”. The mini-vans were also comparativelycomfortable. They were taxi-like. The passengers weren’t allowed to stand — they were supposed to sit only. I believe the German equivalent “Linientaxi” reflects the early attitude of the Ukrainians toward the means of transport. However, even in those early days marshrootka drivers used to let in a few people above norm. Once I heard a driver asking all those who were standing in the bus to squat down for a moment because there was a traffic policeman in sight and the driver (if noticed) could be punished for carrying more people than the mini-bus could seat.

The situation has changed nowadays. This transport is considered cheap, quick and dirty. At rush hours in the mornings and evenings marshrootkas will remind you rather of engine-propelled tins crammed with sardins of people. What is particularly offensive is the attitude of marshrootka drivers towards passengers. One thing is that they treat their passengers to a menu of songs traditionally sung in prison cells by the romantic inmates confined there. You may also see notices of the kind: WISHING TO GET OFF? SHOUT LOUDER! (the drivers are to stop so that the people will get off, but if the drivers do not hear the request because of the bus noise, they may go on) or: IF YOU DO NOT LIKE HOW I AM DRIVING YOU, GET OFF AND GO ON FOOT! (often drivers exceed the speed-limit, make sharp turns at corners, as a result you find it rather hard to stay in your seat).

Within a period of 10-15 years you may give people freedom, democracy, private property. How much longer will it take to teach them to be thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others? That is, to teach them considerateness, politeness, noble-mindedness? How long will people emigrate from here also for the reason of BOORISHNESS they experience in their own country? Or will the word “KHAMSTVO” (the Ukrainian equivalent of “boorishness) be borrowed into other languages, just as the “marshrootka” has been?

Entry for September 23, 2007

September 23, 2007

The following info has been consolidated from the Internet data :

If we shrink the earth’s population down to a village of one hundred people but keep all existing human ratios the same, there would be:

51 would be male, 49 would be female

57 Asians; 9 East and West Europeans; 12 Africans; 6 North Americans; 8 Latin Americans; 6 Australians and New Zealanders

82 would be non-white; 18 white;

67 would be non-Christian (among them 18 Moslems, 17 “non-religious”; 6 Buddhists); 33 would be Christian (among them 19 Catholics, 8 Protestants, 3 Orthodox) 4 atheists

67 would be unable to read;

50 would suffer from malnutrition;

80 would live in substandard housing;

1 would have a university education

50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation

66 would be without access to a safe water supply

39 would lack access to improved sanitation

24 would not have any electricity (and of the 76 that do
have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)

7 people would have access to the Internet

1 would have HIV

2 would be near birth; 1 near death

5 would control 32% of the entire world’s wealth; all 5 would be US citizens

33 would be receiving –and attempting to live on– only 3% of the income of “the village”

The people of the village have considerable difficulty in communicating:

 16 people speak Mandarin
 9 English
 8 Hindi/Urdu
 7 Spanish
 6 Russian
 4 Arabic


That list accounts for the mother tongues of only half the villagers. The other half speak (in descending order of frequency) Bengali, Portuguese, Indonesian, Japanese, German, French and 200 other languages.

One-third (33) of the 100 people in the world village are children and only 6 are over the age of 65. Half the children are immunized against preventable infectious diseases such as measles and polio.

Just under half of the married women in the village have access to and use modern contraceptives.

This year 3 babies will be born. One person will die, With the 3 births and 1 deaths, the population of the village next year will be 102.

In this 100-person community, 20 people receive 75 percent of the income; another 20 receive only 2 percent of the income.

Only 7 people of the 100 own an automobile (although some of the 7 own more than one automobile).

About one-third have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Of the 67 adults in the village, half are illiterate.

In 10 such villages (1,000 people), there are:

· 5 soldiers
· 7 teachers
· 1 doctor
· 3 refugees driven from home by war or drought

The village has a total budget each year, public and private, of over $300,000 – $3,000 per person if it is distributed evenly (which, we have already seen, it isn’t).

Of the total $300,000:

 $18,100 goes to weapons and warfare
 $15,900 for education
 $l3,200 for health care

The village has buried beneath it enough explosive power in nuclear weapons to blow itself to smithereens many times over. These weapons are under the control of just 10 of the people. The other 90 people are watching them with deep anxiety, wondering whether they can learn to get along together; and if they do, whether they might set off the weapons anyway through inattention or technical bungling; and, if they ever decide to dismantle the weapons, where in the world village they would dispose of the radioactive materials of which the weapons are made.

So, if you:

have college/university education,

don’t go hungry,

can drink clean water,

have acceptable housing conditions,

have access to the Internet,

have a car,

earn enough not to feel in “shallow waters”

CONSIDER YOURSELF HAPPY:
NOT SO MANY PEOPLE ON THIS PLANET ARE AS BLESSED AS YOU ARE

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Entry for September 22, 2007

LANGUAGE, POLITICS AND CREATIVENESS

English-speaking people are known for their skillful linguistic equilibristics. A couple of living examples:

1.

Son (about to take his father home by car): “Dad, I’m going to rush you”

Father (facetiously): “Are you going to Russia, son?”

2.

Father: “Is your leg right, son?”

Son: “Which leg do you mean, Dad? If you mean my right leg, it is not right. It is my left leg that is right.”

3.

I am showing the Ukrainian countryside to my English friends:

“And this is a field of maze.”

He: “A field of maze? I’m amazed!”

She: “A corny joke.”

Teachers in the compehensive where I was employed used to challenge each other in the staff-room during breaks by that kind of language jabs.

The language intuition like that isn’t common to speakers of flective languages. Or rather: it hasn’t been until recently. I would never have thought that a flective language like Ukrainian can permit the inventiveness and dynamism an analytical language (English) allows. As it turns out, Ukrainian or Russian languages can also let you be creative and imaginative in terms of new coinages — the malice of the election campaign can produce witticism of expression. Thus some election mottos of certain politicians may be linguistically twisted. Take the slogan “She Made it Before, She’s Going To Make it Now”. The Ukrainian for “make” is “zrobyty”. However, if you change the Ukrainian prefix “z” replacing it with the prefix “na”, the meaning of the word “zrobyty” (“make”) turns into “to do some harm”. That is exactly the trick which was used by the politician’s opponents. Another example is the word-combination “Ukrainian Break-Through” (a promise given by one of the parties to lead Ukraine to an economic break-through). The Ukrainian equivalent “proryv” was transformed into a spitefully playful “naryv” (“abcess”, “blister”) and was jubilantly flaunted by the opposing party.

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Entry for September 21, 2007

GLOBALIZATION

The Leftists in this country approach globalization from the position of Lenin’s “Imperialism as the Highest Stage of Capitalism” (1916) , in which the author characterizes the turn of the century as the period of the third world’s exploitation by the first world. This theme forms the basis of many recent critiques of globalization. My personal viewpoint is that any civilization implies a certain degree of exploitation: you cannot build a society which would be absolutely perfect. Even in the early utopian literature heavy work in fictional societies was done by slaves, and the Garden of Eden was penetrated by the Serpent J. So I see nothing wrong in the integration of economic, political and social systems, nothing particularly wrong in the convergence of prices, products, wages, interest and profits, as well as in the human migration, international trade, movement of capital or in the integration of financial markets. Moreover, when I realize that cross-boundary air- and water pollution, over-fishing of the oceans, global warming and international terrorist networks cannot be done away with by efforts of individual countries, I say YES to the process.

The Encyclopedia Britannica also says that globalisation is the process by which the experience of everyday life is becoming standardised around the world. The formation of “attitudinal outlook” seems to be of special importance in this regard. I feel really encouraged when my American friend writes (I quote): “Democracy is like a fruit tree . . . it can be planted, and it can sprout, and it can bear fruit. But, it takes time for the fruit to ripen. Many people forget that the first 100+ years of American independence were turbulent years with many struggles similar to what you are experiencing in Ukraine.” And further: “As a Ukrainian citizen, you cannot, and you must not give up or become lethargic and fatalistic about your country’s future. Get involved with enthusiasm and determination. Challenge your friends and family to vote, and to vote for righteousness, justice, and honesty. It may take more years of hard work, but someday Ukraine will be free from much of the corruption, “cronyism”, and self-serving agendas. But, it will not change unless you are determined to do what is right and get others to do the same for years to come”.

However, as far as everyday life goes, there are several aspects of “lateral culture” which go with globalization and up with which I cannot put (Sir Winston Churchill’s expression). The disappearance of a native language, the brain-inhibiting mass culture and the destruction of the family are among them. No matter the percentage of individuals whose homosexuality is genetically explained (the figures are usually quoted by the advocates of the trend), I know that many children and young people are rather impressionable and ape others not on the ground of any genetics but just because they think what the others do is ‘cool’. In the same way, partiality to smoking or drug-taking may be “genetically” explained, though that addiction is generally the aftermath of the early globalization that came with the Arab Empire and the discovery of the New World.

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Entry for September 20, 2007

CRIME

The language issue traditionally becomes a red-hot topic during Ukrainian election campaigns. The Soviet language policy used to reject the idea of one official language in the USSR by stating that all the languages were equal and – because each language supposedly received its share of attention due to the international policy of the Party – all the languages were developing linguistically and functionally. The hypocrisy of the statement was clear even in the communist days. The natural reaction to that “Party line” was the book by the Ukrainian dissident Ivan Dzyuba “Internationalism or Russification”. With the split-up of the Soviet Union the new Kremlin guard stopped making pretences and launched what may be called the policy of linguistic chauvinism cultivating Russian linguistic loyalty (and any other loyalty) through its fifth columns in ex-USSR republics, now independent countries. Local languages are considered by the “loyalists” an impediment, though almost all of such languages require some kind of social support to recuperate after long years of linguistic strangulation. At present all disguise is also thrown off in relation to the non-Russian
nations and language communities incorporated in the Russian Federation. Eastern Siberian Russia (alongside with the adjacent areas of China and Japan) is considered one of the five hotspots where native languages are endangered, the other four being Northern Australia, Central South America (Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia), Northwest Pacific Plateau (including British Columbia in Canada and the states of Washington and Oregon in the U.S.A.) as well as the region of Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Suppressing and eventually losing a language means losing knowledge encoded in the language, i.e. the way the nation thinks about the world. But …Knowledge is tolerated by the powers-that-be only to the extent which permits them to rule and get richer. That is why this debilitating avalanche of superfluous literary read, songs, Sylvester Stallone-type of films (one of the most lucrative export commodities of the U.S.A.). All that is being done to the detriment of high culture and the survival of mankind in general. Needn’t we to enlarge the concept of a crime against humanity?

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Entry for September 19, 2007

THE BEIJING OLYMPICS AND AESOP’S TALE

This morning I watched the program “A Year Before the Olympics’ (Deutsche Welle, Im Focus, 5:30a.m. CET). Beijing is set on hosting the Olympics-2008 the way never done before. Understandably, the “Green Olympics, Scientific Olympics, Humanity Olympics”, as the mantra goes, is being used to eulogize the “leading role” of the Chinese communist party in the country’s progress. Something we have not heard here in the last 20 years or so.

Just some shots from the program:

1. Specially appointed young people with red arm-bands are lining up people at bus-stops teaching then not to rush into buses crowd-like but enter in an orderly manner;

2. Groups of university students go to rural areas collecting rubbish on the roads and round the lakes. They speak to villagers who have been specially gathered to welcome the guests and they teach them to chant slogans about the Olympics and not spit on the ground. They also hand out booklets about the coming event;

3. People of various age-groups sit in a big classroom (no fewer than 60 students) learning English. They repeat long English sentences after the teacher. The sentences are propaganda-like. The minimum is to memorize one such sentence a day. Within the year it will make about 300 sentences. No matter that the sentences are hardly applicable in everyday communication with foreigners: there’s an ideological background given to it makes it particularly valuable.

4. The DW-journalists ask a young Chinese peasant if he knows anything about the imprisonment in China of a ‘green activist” (also Chinese) who protested against the pollution of a big lake with waste products of nearby enterprises, but the young person hasn’t heard anything about it. After a few hours a local party functionary orders the German journalists out of the region for “asking the wrong questions”.

5. A married couple show the journalists about their new apartment they have received from the government as a replacement for their shack demolished to make the area free for building some Olympic facilities.

Well, naturally it’s not bad that the government may be so caring as to arrange cleaning the ground, training passengers to get on buses and teaching English to them for free. However, the episode with the party functionary is revealing and speaks volumes. If to choose between the “parental” supervision of the Big Brother and the opportunity to read information from anywhere in the world (+ the principal possibility to travel to any place in the world, money permitting :-), I’d give preference to the second option, of course. That reminds me of Aesop’s tale about the Dog and the Wolf. The Dog invites the Wolf to come and live with him in his master’s mansion. He describes to the Wolf how good it is to live in a household: the shelter and food are always secured for you. The Wolf is about to agree and starts following the Dog, but suddenly he notices a mark on the Dog’s neck. “What’s that?” he questions. –“You see, my master usually chains me up to guard the house and that is the mark of a dog-collar… Hey, Wolf, where are going?” – “Oh, no… I’d rather go hungry and cold but stay free.” And the Wolf trotted back into the forest.

A flash-back of the time some 20 (or was it 200?) years ago here – the same red arm-bands, students helping collective farmers with the harvest, slogans chanted in chorus, and an instinctive fear of saying something undue which could be critically assessed by the party functionary

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Entry for September 18, 2007

EAVESDROPPING IN KYIV (SMALL TALK)

Two ladies are sitting on a bench in the central park. They must be about the same age – round 70 years old.

-You live not far from the park, do you?

-No, I don’t. It’s just over there – at the corner.

-No other country has done it the way our government has done — depriving the people of their savings.

-True, they’ve robbed us of everything. They still claim that our money is in the general turnover. But how can I get it back from the “general turnover”?

-How I believed him when he was running for presidency! I had persuaded about a thousand people to vote for him. One day after having being elected he visited our factory. The people lined up to meet him. I just said to him: “I was arranging for your support!”

-Fantastic! So you have seen him?!

-So I have! And he just answered: “Thank you”.

-Can you at least pay for your apartment from your pension?

-I get 170 hryvnya and pay 90 hryvnya for the apartment. It’s unbelievable how one can survive on the rest of 80 hryvnya.

-Poor you!

-And you? Is your husband still alive?

-No.

-Oh, he has died. Sorry.

-That is to say, I do not know. We got divorced.

-Oh! But do you live with your children?

-Yes, with my daughter.

-It’s better. Though these young people are so unreliable nowadays. Look at how long-heeled and narrow their shoes are! I was wearing narrow shoes when I was their age. And I got horns on my feet growing so rapidly. No doctor could stop that growth.

-Yep, I would have those footwear designers killed!

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Entry for September 17, 2007

JOBS

Adrian Wallwork’s “Business Options” (Oxford University Press, 2000) contains job ratings in the United States. The ratings were based on income, stress, physical demands, work environment, outlook, and security. It woud be interesting to compare the American and Ukrainian choices. The latter are given in brackets.

BEST: actuary, computer programmer, mathematician, statistician (lawyer, manager)

WORST: migrant farm worker, fisherman, construction worker, roofer, seaman (street cleaner, janitor, teacher)

HIGHEST PAYING: lawyer, airline pilot,chemical engineer, physician (parliamentarian, businessman)

WORST ENVIRONMENT AND MOST STRESSFUL: firefighter, Indy race car driver, astronaut, surgeon, NFL football player (soldiers and similar task force working in the Chornobyl exclusion area)

MOST LIKELY TO SUFFER FATAL INJURY AT WORK: truck driver, farm worker, supervisor/proprietor, construction laborer, police officer, aircraft pilot (miner)

MOST LIKELY TO BE MURDERED ON THE JOB: taxi driver, convenience store clerk, trucker, gas station attendant, retail sales clerk (journalist, militiaman)

MOST COMPETITIVE: actor, advertising account executive, architect, baseball player (professional sports)

LONGEST WORKING WEEK: firefighter, physician/surgeon, farmer, minister/priest/ rabbi, zoologist (salesman in the market/”rhinok”)

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Entry for September 16, 2007

PAST AND PRESENT

In manuals issued for immigrants Americans are characterized as very time-conscious people. Normally, they tend to arrive exactly on time or even a few minutes earlier before the appointed time. In case of unforseen delay, they will inform by telephone about the extent of the delay. Many Americans, in a gesture of friendship may say “Come any time!” This shouldn’t be taken too literally. They would still expect you to call before you actually go.

My impression is that the Americans in their attitude to time, value the present more than the past. Maybe it’s because theirs is a young nation — they did not have a history as long as the history of Europe. But if we speak of humanist traditions and European cultural values, we cannot but focus on the past. The past should also be cherished individually: actually, all of us are such as the past has formed us. And if we are satisfied with what we have, if we call ourselves “happy”, let’s be thankful to the past. The past made us rich (whatever may be understood by richness) and knowledgeable. The past strengthened us. It prepared us for the future.

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Entry for September 15, 2007

THE LIE and lies


In a Ukrainian viewspaper there appeared an article on blogging. Blogging, introduced in 1992 by Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the WWW) and being an amazing hybrid of a diary and a forum, caught on in no time. The number of bloggers has sky-rocketed. The author Alevtina Voronina writes the following:

“Tell me where your blog is and I will tell you who you are. Nowadays it is considered bad manners to write one’s diary secretly and then stick the book with your notes under the pillow – for nobody to find it. Nowadays you rush to your office desk in the morning, open your internet diary, write a complaint about how rude and insensitive passengers in the metro are, and then write what you think about the weather… after lunch time you may express your virtual indignation about politicians who make empty promises (“My stomach is empty as a politician’s promise”, used to say Basil the Fox on the BBC TV show in the late 1970s. – VB)

You may, of course, post your entries only to be used by your friends, but if you decide on blogging publicly, you must have something to say to the people (I admit there may also be a case when nobody will ever read your blog – regardless of how many times you post it as ‘public’ J). But if anybody goes to your blog-site, they must have SOMETHING to read. It’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. The responsibility to be interesting. The other extreme is that bloggers may capitalize on negativeness. When the worst comes to the worst, some blogs remind of nothing but cesspools – with the vocabulary commonly found on the buildings of “depressed areas”.

I prefer writing about differences in habits, values, mentality of the people. There are zillions of such differences. However, are there fewer things that make people akin? Fortunately or unfortunately the answer is “No, gobs of them”. One of the examples was mentioned several lines above: people are liers (politicians make empty promises). They may state something knowing it’s not true. Politicians give
promises because they want to be elected, salesmen prefer not to mention some undesirable qualities of a product because they want to sell the product, after having stayed with our friend for a while we excuse ourselves saying that we must “rush home”, though there is no special rush at all, etc, etc.

We may try to soften the effect by distilling “the white lie” from what is “untruth”. We may also manipulate with related words, like “insincerity”, “exaggeration”, “ambiguity”, “misconception” and even “equivocation”:-), but the truth about all kinds of lies seems be very simple. It looks like it all began with the LIE when human beings were infected with the phrase “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil”. They believed the messenger. And when they openly swear now saying that black is white, when they build residential palaces for themselves declaring rather modest incomes, when they go full throttle ahead thinking they are gods, I ask myself a question: Do they really think that they “will not surely die”? Haven’t they been dead since the days of yore: billions of dead people reproducing themselves in dead children generation after generation? Alas, the internet age gives them an opportunity to recreate themselves through blogging too.

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Entry for September 14, 2007

PRIORITIES

A Chistianity Today editorial “All That’s Good In Sports” (Tuesday, Sept 11, 2007) deals with the decision of Utah Jazz guard Derek Fisher, who asked to leave his team because he was going to focus on his 11-month-old daughter’ health. She had been diagnosed with retinoblastoma — a kind of cancer. Derek actually gave up his career in order to move to a city with the right combination of medical specialists.

The newspaper says that that kind of selfless move is rare in pro sports. The athletes are too much paid to change their priorities — the top of which is the golden calf. I may be wrong in my observation but from what I see, the distance between parents and children is bigger in the West than in Ukraine. Of course I understand that the situation may vary from family to family. I also know wonderful American families where the parents and kids are all in all to each other. However, the idea of giving up EVERYTHING for the sake of their own children, which is taken for granted in Ukraine, seems to be not so common in the U.S.A. On the other hand, it looks natural in the West if the parents in their older age move to a residential home for the elderly, while their children are “alive and kicking”. That kind of situation could reflect discredit upon the children in Ukraine — to say the least.

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Entry for September 13, 2007

FEELING POSITIVE

I was four and the war finished only a few years earlier. Officially named World War II, it was just the “War” for an ordinary Ukrainian. A neighbor’s boy (already a pupil!) named Edik showed me a portrait of Stalin and asked “Who’s this?” – “Stalin”, I answered. – “No, it’s our Father” was Edik’s reply.

My Dad was an electrical engineer in Western Ukraine and headed an enterprise which dealt with a rural electrification program. Dad had learned some German during the war and taught me everyday German phrases in the evenings. I remember entering his office one day when he was sitting at the head of the table with his subordinates along the sides. I announced my request as loudly as I could: “Vati, gib mir Papier!” Everybody laughed. Dad smiled too. He gave me a sheet of paper and I went out filled with pride thinking “what a good boy am I”. That very evening Dad took me to his room, closed the door and spoke in undertones, which had never been the case before. There was something unusual about him — about his face and his voice. “Never address me in German when other people are present”, he said. “Und jetzt beginnen wir unseren Unterricht”

More than half a century has passed. My Dad does not live any more. When I see the present-day democracy spree in Ukraine, I never cease to be amazed at the humane potentials of the generation that lived “under Stalin”. I do not mean only their surviving through the inhuman regime. I also mean the ability of many who fought on this sideof the frontline to preserve positive feelings toward the “enemy” while respecting and valuing the opponent’s culture, language and many more other things which stand behind it. My uncle (the father’s brother) was killed in Koenigsberg on May 8th, 1945 — a day before the war finished. His daughter, now over 60, once told me that she had never felt hatred towards the German captives, of whom there were many in Ukraine right after the war.


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