Monthly Archives: February 2006


The subject of passion arose recently in this electronic space, and it sprang loose a quote that I have yet to come to grips with, almost twenty years after encountering it as an epigraph to a book by Don Robertson: Passions are not natural to mankind; they are always exceptions or excrescences. The ideal, genuine […]

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Today is the 50th anniversary of Nikita Khrushchev‘s historic “secret speech” at the 20th Communist Party Congress in which he denounced Stalin and his brutal ways. The American historian William Taubman notes the “unintended consequences” of the speech: Khrushchev’s goal was to “to save Communism, not to destroy it” (a generation later, Mikhail Gorbachev would try the same […]

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According to the New York Times, if you want to have fun at the 2006 Winter Olympics, hang out with the Russians. Outside the Russia House, headquarters for the Russian delegation in Turin, a horde of people gathered at the entryway, looking frozen and distraught. “Please, I am Russian,” one woman in heavy mascara and […]

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Amid the guffaws and sarcasm surrounding the Vice President’s hunting mishap (which, in itself, was far from funny), some commentators and comedians have made the obvious connection between Cheney’s reckless hunting style and his approach to foreign policy. Tom Engelhardt has dug a bit deeper into the quail-hunting episode and has found resonance not only […]

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Last Wednesday Moscow News somberly noted the 17th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. In the course of the ten-year war, more than 14,600 Soviet soldiers died and some 50,000 were wounded. Since the US entered Afghanistan in 2001, 276 American soldiers have died. The scope of the US presence in Afghanistan is, of […]

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Good grief! I hardly blog at all, and here I’ve been tagged. I’m it. And not the it from the eBay ads, just “it.” Okay, what the heck. Four of this and four of that—petits fours … pour vous et vous seulement (and you know who vous are). Four jobs I’ve had: Visa gofer (the travel […]

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Vladimir Putin has invited Hamas leaders to Moscow, and the world press has dutifully reported the yowling from certain quarters of Israel and from their amen corner abroad (most particularly, in the US government and mainstream American media). As usual, there are voices in Israel that undermine the party line, but one rarely hears them. At […]

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I’ll know this country has finally grown up when its TV announcers and commentators no longer refer to the US Olympic contingent as Team USA.

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A particularly vicious form of hazing had existed in the Soviet army for years. I remember friends in Moscow in the late ’80s desperately trying to get their draft-age son into an American university. It was the dedovshchina (дедовщина) they were worried about, which apparently was getting worse as the Soviet Union devolved into senescence. I […]

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Muslims in many locales are protesting and burning things because of some cartoons printed in a Danish newspaper. Wikipedia describes the origin of the controversy: The drawings, including a depiction of Muhammad with a bomb inside or under his turban, accompanied an article on self-censorship and freedom of speech. Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of […]

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  • Proverbs for Paranoids, 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.
    Gravity’s Rainbow

    ‘Is it about a bicycle?’ he asked.
    The Third Policeman