05 September 2020

The Best of Snoopy’s Writing

 You know, I was thinking of listing here a few of my favourite posts by SnoopyTheGoon. And I failed miserably.  

His blog has been a continuous stream of irony and wisdom; anti-totalitarianism and humour; current events and history... Usually kind and sometimes just a tad frustrated, his posts never failed to bring a smile to my face. What else can one ask for from a 5 min read? They are all “the best” to me. What about you? Do you have favourites among his posts or do you not discriminate? 

And Snoopy will be back. One day. 

28 June 2020

What is the best social media platform?

Don’t know about you but the Elders prefer Blogger.

Millions of years ago, when Blogger became a thing, people had the patience to read more than 100 symbols. In those ancient times there was zero risk that a Malaysia-based plonker would misinterpret your sarcasm as “antisemitic”. That’s the kind of “hate speech control” that both Twitter and Facebook excel at.

And we made friends all over the world, the ones we got to meet in real life. Takes more than regular retweets or a few FB reposts to make a real long distance friend. With the rough and tumble of  the Blogger, you knew who was for real. You knew who had read the right books. You knew who was by your side. You knew who was on the same wavelength. And who caused a smile. Every time.

Today Blogger feels a little older but is still true to form of being a genuinely open and free platform. Meanwhile Twitter is going all Soviet. The other day they censored a gay politician for quoting  Muslim Brotherhood and pointing out MB wants to kill gays.



Facebook regularly deletes pro-Israeli posts while protecting the right of Islamists and the far left to spread anti-semitic conspiracies.  That’s not enough for some; the people are begging for more censorship.

Today we bid farewell to the good old platform. The Blogger is changing. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.


17 February 2020

Bernie - back from the USSR

The current spate of controversies surrounding the candidacy of Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential race includes his trips to various socialist heavens. Including his 1988 visit to Soviet Union.

1988. The perestroika, lead by Mikhail Gorbachev, is at its peak. Aside of old apparatchiks and babushkas, no one believes anymore in the shining future of socialism, managed by the "mind, honor and conscience of our era", the crumbling Communist Party of Soviet Union.

The Berlin wall has one year left to stand. The arms race, imposed by Ronald Reagan, has been irrevocably lost by USSR, its economy collapsing under the burden. Anti-Russian sentiments are rising in the "satellite" socialist countries of the Soviet camp in Eastern Europe. The camp is slowly but surely being teared apart.

The attitude of the Soviet people to the boogeyman of seventy years, the Western capitalism and, especially, to the Big Satan, the most cursed capitalist enemy, has changed drastically. (It will go back to enmity and alienation during Putin's rule, but for now...). The flow of information from the West is unstoppable now, and Soviet people are seeing for the first time the huge gap between their lives in the socialist heaven and these in the West.

And the flow of information in the other direction is unstoppable now too. Hundreds thousands immigrants from USSR are now in the West, telling it all. The previously suppressed stories and books by the dissidents and victims of the regime are published even in the USSR, not to mention the West. The truth is out.

And this is the year when one Bernie Sanders, then Mayor of Burlington, heads with a group of other Burlington notables to Yaroslavl, a soviet city to become a sister city of Burlington. The itinerary of the team also included Moscow and Leningrad*.

Unsurprisingly, their itinerary was managed exactly as it is described in the remark below. Surprisingly, Bernie and his comrades for that trip didn't see through it, and here is the trip report from the horse mouth:



So here are the salient points from the Bernie's speech:

  • Openness and warmth of the citizens and officials. He didn't really get to see many real citizens, naive as he is, but yes, the times have changed, as I have described above.
  • It (the above warmth) might go back to WW II. Wrong. The huge assistance provided (with a big loss of lives and enormous effort) by Americans and Britons during WWII was one of almost totally forbidden subjects.
  • People were delighted by the presence of Ronald Reagan etc. Crap. Soviet people at the time didn't give a flying donut about high level summits like this one. Again - talking with token "citizens" might have confused him.
  • Surprised by the degree of self-criticism Soviet officials displayed. Perestroika, man, where have you been?
  • Moscow News has articles with self-criticism and debate... same thing again. Bernie has no idea whatsoever about what is going on in that place.
  • Soviets estimate that they are behind US about 10 to 15 years in healthcare. In 1988 it is rather 20 to 30 years, but why be a nitpicker? The healthcare was free, of course (better bring some food to your near and dear patient, and yeah, that rare medicine - be a good father/mother/son... and get it via your connections...
  • Housing now. How about young newlyweds waiting for years and years for their government-built low quality 50 square meters flat, while folks close to the trough get it without delay?
  • Public transportation. Measured by visits to Leningrad, Moscow and Yaroslavl - two major centers of state investment and one major tourist destination. All in all, about 5-7% of total Soviet population, with absolutely unreliable train, bus and airline services that caused headache and toothache to so many millions...
  • Moscow Metro now - "the fastest, cleanest and most effective I have seen in my life". "With many works of art, beautiful chandeliers etc..." this one made me choke up. The Moscow metro, built on the bodies of hundreds of Stalin's prisoners, far from all of them being criminal ones. And beautiful chandeliers...
  • Culture palaces for young people with cultural programs - where grooming of "pioneers" and "komsomolets's" with party-approved cultural programs and impoverished libraries where only party-approved books were available. Both under tight control of that three-letter outfit, needless to say.
  • And to crown it all: "They want to go back to some early vision of their revolution". Ye gods - when the last thing the vast majority of Soviet people wanted to hear at the time was more inane revolutionary slogans and revolutionary ideas...
To summarize, there are only two possible explanations to the above nightmarish inanity: either the man is dumb as two planks or he really lacks elementary information.

It is not for nothing that I have mentioned above the flow of information from USSR to the West and the waves of immigrants who came over to US, ready to tell it all. So we have here a man who dedicated himself to politics and spent quite a few years in social-related activities, leadership etc. And this man was heading a delegation to another country without trying to learn the basic A to Z about it? When this information was so easily obtainable? Hard to believe, ain't it?

Well, it is not my job to explain the inexplicable. It is rather my duty to point out that this man, with a bachelor of arts degree in political science (that he himself describes "as a mediocre college student because the classroom was "boring and irrelevant", while the community was more important to his education") - that this man, who freely and so convincingly displays his ignorance in most vital matters, is vying for the presidency of United States.

Heed the message, dear Americans.


(*) Not surprisingly, Moscow, Leningrad and Yaroslavl were usually included in a standard itinerary of Western tourists. The sightseeing offered and the tourists' timetables were orchestrated to the minute details and, of course, coordinated with the KGB and its well-trained watchers. Even during the years of perestroika. The masters of Potemkin village creation made their lives easier by channeling the tourists through the same well-mapped treks...

24 January 2020

Naama Issachar's story - or how to be stupider than stupid.

Naama Issachar, the girl in the picture below, is, most probably, going to be released from a Russian jail soon. I am glad for her, 7.5 years for a small stash of hashish* is indeed a cruel and unusual punishment, especially taking into account that she didn't intend to enter Russia. And here my happiness and good will end.

Israeli Naama Issachar gestures during an appeal hearings in a courtroom in Moscow
To every Israeli familiar with the local facial expressions and gestures, the picture above shows a girl defiant. Only there is nothing to be defiant about. Naama was caught, confessed and, no matter the cruelty of the sentence, is guilty. There is absolutely nothing to be defiant about.

Moreover, the relentless pressure her family and friends succeeded to apply to our dear leaders has allowed Kremlin to up the payment for Naama's early release:
According to Hebrew media reports, Russia has asked Israel to transfer a piece of Russian Orthodox Church property near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City to the Kremlin as a goodwill gesture ahead of Issachar’s release.Reports have also indicated that Russia may seek strong Israeli backing for its position in a spat with Poland over responsibility for World War II, including a possible public statement from Netanyahu or Rivlin.
Sounds reasonable? Maybe, sometimes the goal justifies the means.

What sounds much less reasonable and exudes a strong smell of chutzpah is the behavior of our subject. What this source (and it's a solid one for most news items) says is mind-boggling:
Israeli Naama Issachar, serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence in Russia on charges of drug smuggling, did not ask the Russian president for pardon. This was stated by the Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova, according to Interfax. According to the Ombudsman, Issachar believes that the appeal of her mother and of Prime Minister of Israel is enough to consider a pardon.
And, if the above isn't enough of characterization, here is another tidbit, from an Israeli source this time:
The Israeli imprisoned in Russia was interviewed by a local newspaper and said she might still write a book about her time in prison: "I still don't believe I will be released so soon".
A book now? Many a Soviet prisoner, Jewish included, have written about their experience in the Soviet soul-crushing prison camps. Most of them were heroes, whose imprisonment was a badge of honor. Not in this case.

The only book I envision for dear Naama is a notebook with a few hundred pages, where every page contains a hundred sentences: "I am not going to do anything stupid anymore".

To remind you, Naama is 27 years old...

So there.

(*) For some reason many Israeli newspapers state it was marijuana Naama was carrying. No, it wasn't. Hashish.