Archive for November, 2013


November 27, 2013

DSC04005My colleague emailed me a motivational cartoon, which inspires a person to keep going when the going gets tough. I printed the cartoon out and pinned it up onto my bookshelves. Alongside I browsed the Internet for the author of the cartoon. The original artist can hardly be identified. There are many similar pictures conveying this theme: with the frog being unchanged, the “bad guy” may also be represented by a pelican, a crane, a heron, etc. Another find of mine was an extract from the speech delivered by Winston Churchill when he visited Harrow School on October 29, 1941 to to hear the traditional songs he had sung there as a youth. When he was invited to give a speech, Churchill stood before the students and said, “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”

Interestingly, in thesauruses the row of synonyms for perseverance and action is much longer than their antonymic row. Just compare:

ACTION: Hold on, persist, press on, pursue, stand firm, continue, maintain, remain, be determined, be resolved, be stubborn, carry on, go for broke, go for it, hang in (there), go on, hang tough, hold fast, keep driving, keep on, leave no stone unturned, plug away, see it through, stay the course, stick with it, endure, last, persist, survive, sweat it out

INACTION: Cease, discontinue, give up, stop, be lazy, idle, loiter, leave, drop, quit. 

Even in all-comprehensive dictionaries the above proportion between action and inaction keeps.

And lastly, the wonderful words ascribed to Winston Churchill too: “The pessimist sees the problems in every opportunity. Whereas the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem.”

I’m after opportunities. Where are the problems?


November 26, 2013

2013-11-26Yanuks-PromiseFor several months the Ukrainian media were propagandizing the benefits of the country’s association with the European Union. That was being done to such an extent that the Ukrainians had become energized with the idea of joining Europe.  Alas, the comedy is over! As it turned out, the Ukrainian president with a reputation of a jailbird had been playing nothing more than a game to raise the bids from Russia. Incidentally, his game was quite different from what the West thought it was. The West thought it was chess, but it proved to be a shell game. The thimble-rigger pulled a fast one on the EU and made a bolt to the other party — to the man in the Kremlin who feels rather smug and satisfied these days.  One European paper characterized the result of Putin’s latest engagement with the West in football terms: Putin 4, West 0 – the four scores being listed as Snowden, Syria, Armenia and Ukraine.

A different outcome could hardly have been expected: Yanukovych and Putin are a congenial company, even though Yanukovych may be afraid of Putin and Putin may despise Yanukovych.


November 25, 2013

2013-10-14Holodomor On the fourth Saturday of November the Ukrainians honour those perished in the Holodomor – the man-made famine-genocide arranged by the communists in the period from the January of 1932 till the August of 1933 in what is now Central and Eastern Ukraine. One of the aims was to keep Ukraine in the “affectionate” Russian hug for a time which would be long enough for Ukraine to breathe her last gasp. As a result millions of the Ukrainians died. Psychologists say that the imprint of the genocide may be observed not only in the generation that physically survived it, but in the following generations too. The scholars compare the attitudes of modern Ukrainians on the territories which were subjected to the Holodomor with the attitudes in those regions where the killing by starvation did not take place (mainly the present day Western Ukraine which was under Polish domination in those days). The post-genocidal syndrome is seen in a person’s lower desire to achieve one’s potential, in lower belief in the effectiveness of one’s actions, in conformism, in escaping from reality, etc.

I was born in Eastern Ukraine. My parents used to tell me (almost in whisper – because speaking about the Great Famine was considered to be anti-Soviet propaganda) about the atrocities committed by the communist brigades who had been ransacking people’s homes and confiscating everything edible that was in there. It’s difficult for me to judge about the aftermath of the Holodomor as regards my personal self: how ambitious I am, or whether I am a conformist or a hermit. But every time when am offered a choice of food (be it at home where my wife cooks for us both, or when we are invited by our friends to dine with them) I find it difficult to choose. I almost always say, “It makes no difference for me. I’ll have anything.” As a child living in a post-Holodomor village I had been taught one hard and fast rule: you shall eat what there is to eat, without preferences or complaints.

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