sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

August 26, 2012

Russian Grrrls Need Better Friends

Filed under: feminism, music, politics, Russia — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 7:27 pm

UPDATE: Welcome Legal Insurrection readers!  many thanks to Professor Jacobson for linking.

In my previous post about Pussy Riot I wondered what was the point of being a Riot Grrrl in Russia.  Since then three of the women, Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were sentenced to two-year prison terms for their performance of a “punk prayer” at the church of Christ the Savior during which they asked the Virgin Mary to rid the country of Putin and accused the Patriarch of Moscow of selling out.  They were charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility.  Hooliganism I can see, but religious hatred?  And by the way, similar activities in London earn one an 18 pound fine, which, admittedly, is a bit low, but at least the case wasn’t dismissed.

Russian Punk rock

Pussy Riot incarcerated

Russia was never a wholly Christian country.  Although it was officially converted by Prince Vladimir of Kiev in the end of the 10th century, the population of its vast stretches retained pagan traditions and believes.  The last Russian Tzar employed a shaman to help his sickly son.  The Soviet regime with its veneration of leaders, the official party line illustrated on every wall and, of course, the destruction of churches had many signs of idolatry.  The post-Soviet revival of Orthodox Christianity is largely superficial.  According to nationmaster.com Russia is at the bottom of church attendance with only 2% of population surveyed claiming to attend church at least once a week (the survey puts the world average at 26.2%).  I suspect the attendance among the minority non-Orthodox denominations is much higher.  Pussy Riot’s performance at the altar was about as much an affront to the spirituality of an average Russian as Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut was an affront to womanly dignity of an average American feminist.

That’s not to say that the Pussy Riot verdict is unpopular. I keep reading that Russians are up in arms about it, and some certainly are, but I get an impression that the authors who file the stories talk to their [classic] liberal friends who, like me, feel that the punishment is disproportionate.  On the other hand, a poll conducted a few days before the verdict showed that 44% of Russians found the judicial process “objective and unbiased” and 17% believed the outcome was handed down by the upper echelons of the government.  Just 6% said they feel sorry for the women.  I don’t know how reliable this kind of polling is in Russia, but if it is correct, then any expectation that the martyred women will stir up pro-freedom sentiment among Russians is bunk.

From what I can tell looking at Russian media, the polling is probably on the mark.  Pravda.ru embedded an editorial, for instance, lauding the sentence and assuring its readers that the young women are a part of some sort of a conspiracy, which is totally obvious because an incarcerated Jew expressed his sympathy, and surely somebody is behind the music collective.  That a free-thinking citizen might want to protest her government doesn’t occur to Pravda.ru editorialist who, while finding conspiracies right and left, doesn’t seem to think that Putin would interfered with the judicial process.  Of course you might say that one does not expect any other reaction from Pravda.  But it’s rather typical; and here is another one, accusing “liberals” of trading the country for Pussy Riot.  This kind of writing gets the overwhelming support of readers.

Ordinary Russians view the Orthodox church as an extension of state power, which it is — the Patriarch of the church is a Kremlin puppet.  The disproportional punishment is a confirmation of state power, and people respect it, including those in the opposition.  Not the [classic] liberal opposition, but the more numerous nationalist kind who dream of a dictator more “hardboiled” than Putin supported by the state church.  To them Russian Orthodoxy is a component of national identity.  (Not that there is something necessarily wrong with it; I suspect to the members of Pussy Riot who profess to belong to the Church, it is also an ethnic identity issue.)

The history of Russian Orthodoxy is rich with Holy Fools such, the Yurodivy, who behaved in a deliberately unconventional and provocative manner to draw attention to hypocrisy and abuses of power.  A number of them became saints.

The Soul of the People

Mikhail Nesterov “The Soul of the People,” 1914-16. Yurodiviy is in the upper third/left third of the canvasses.

yurodiviy

And check this out, this is the Ukrainian women’s group Femen getting arrested for imitating yurodiviys in their anti-Putin protest in front of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in December 2011.

Pussy Riot, as far as I know, didn’t draw a connection between themselves and yurodivy.  Instead, they spoke about punk rock which, though not the riot grrrls kind (again, as far as I know), has a long history in Russia.  Perhaps there is a reason why it fits Russia so well.

Petr Pavlensky

Pussy Riot supporter Petr Pavlensky. That had to hurt

When Russians see the likes of Madonna posturing on behalf of Pussy Riot, they only get inflamed.  They know weakness when they see it.  They know she doesn’t matter and that she doesn’t care much about the fate of the three women. And we all know that celebrities suck up to Putin when convenient.

The international expression of popular support has been underwhelming.  Dozens of people showed up in front of Russian embassies in a handful of Western cities.  Mark Judge noted that seminal Punk zine Maximum Rock-n-Roll is disinterested.  And curiously the pro-Pussy Riot protesters in Washington were most definitely not punks.  Truth is, punks don’t care.  You’d think they’d be up in arms if three of their own get so unfairly prosecuted by a tyrant — for doing what punks do, but the show of force simply wasn’t there.  Compare the pitiful attendance of the pro-Pussy Riot demonstration to the multi-month #Occupy camp outs.  Could it be that the discontents of the Russian women are much more real than the little issues of the Western punks, and that makes the kids here uncomfortable?

And what good are the Western feminists who may pay some sort of lip service to Pussy Riot, rarely, but at the end will turn out to vote for the man who promised Putin to be more flexible in his second term.  Because, as we all know, Obama will, like, have free Women’s Studies classes for all.

Democratic star

American feminist hero Sandra Fluke couldn’t find her way to Target Pharmacy to buy $10 worth of contraception to last her a month. We are talking serious people and serious issues here.

When I was growing up in the Soviet Union, rock-n-roll was the forbidden fruit.  It stood for freedom, and people who listened to it were into liberties of all kinds, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, free markets.  But in the West “youth” subcultures proliferated with the growth of welfare state because government dependency allowed the masses to lead bohemian lifestyles.  Punks might talk of freedom of expression, but nobody cares much about the brave women in Russia who dared to speak truth to power.  When they leave their prison cells a year and a half from now, they should look for better friends in the West.

August 9, 2012

Russian-Style Guacamole

Filed under: blogging, parenting — edge of the sandbox @ 7:51 am

I hate to be the blogger who announces that I’m not going to blog much in the nearest future only to, you know, keep blogging as usual.  I’ve been relatively busy since Ivan the Terrible Threes dropped his nap, but, I guess, not too busy.  We are however, leaving for SoCal this Friday, so I doubt I’ll be online much — unless something highly bloggable happens.

5-year-old drawing

Yelena the Fabulous Fives illustrates our forthcoming trip.

Our trip has nothing to do with Russian style guacamole, but I noticed that kids who don’t like the avocado texture gobble up this one.  I learned it from my grandmother who found it in a health food section of a Russian American paper.  Not to complicate things for the seniors trying to master English, it was called “avocado salad”.  You will need:

One large avocado;

One hard-boiled egg;

One small ripe tomato, cut in small pieces;

Salt, mayo and sour cream to taste.

Mush up your egg.  Add avocado, mush it up together with slat, mayo and sour cream.  Add tomato, and you are done.

I highly recommend adding hard-boiled egg to your tuna sandwich as well.  My proportions are one egg for two cans of Trader Joe’s tuna.  Finely chopped white onion is another nice touch.

August 8, 2012

Blame Ozzy

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:51 am

My heart goes out to the victims and families of the shooting rampage in Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

The politicization of what is now being investigated as an act of domestic terror began before we learned the perpetrator’s name.  American Power has twitter feeds of both the prominent figures on the left and rank-and-file twitterers (or whatever you call them) demanding more gun control and blaming Michele Bachmann.  Professor Jacobson reports that “Both CNN and Fox News cut away when the U.S. Attorney took the stage and launched a lengthy speech which sounded like an Obama campaign speech.”

RS McCain has the following to say about the attempt to pin the crime on the right:

The timid defensiveness of some conservatives — who run away screaming the minute they hear the word “racism” spoken aloud — is the exact opposite of political wisdom. Having been so often and so unfairly accused of “hate,” they have internalized their liberal antagonists’ worldview to such a degree that they pre-emptively fear the smear:

“Oh, let’s denounce the crime, then move on and ignore it, because we might be targeted with a guilt-by-association smear attempting to connect us with this tattooed skinhead freak we never heard of until he killed six people.”

Not only is this reaction gutless — needlessly defensive — but it makes conservatives look like shameless political opportunists: If the guy who killed the Sikhs had been an Occupier or an Islamic jihadi, the right-wing blogosphere would have been raising hell. So when the shooter turns out to be somebody categorized as a right-winger, conservatives are not going to score any points for integrity and courage by whining that this is unfair and then trying to ignore it.

[...]
So if conservatives slink away in silence after the Oak Creek massacre, we’ll look like a bunch of insincere punks. In truth, we have nothing to fear. I’m pretty sure there is nothing in the Republican Party platform that endorses the random shootings of people who wear turbans, so what the hell is all this scaredy-cat defensiveness about?

I’m pretty sure about it too.  Details now emerge about the now dead suspect Wade Michael Page.  He described his White Power band End Apathy (cleaver name if there ever was one) the following way:

with roots in old school hardcore punk and metal influences. The music is a sad commentary on our sick society and the problems that prevent true progress.

So, if we take his word for it, Page is a progressive.  And the early 20th century Progressives had a fling with fascism, of course.  See an excellent post on this subject at The Camp of the Saints.  I’m not saying that Page liked contemporary progressives and their race policies, but I’m willing to bet that he despised conservatives even more, given how we insist on being race-blind.

As for “hardcore”, “hardcore punk”, “punk” and “metal” labels, I recall in my wasted youth people complained about SPLC and ADL painting all bands with one broad brushstroke, not distinguishing between the racist and anti-racist skinheads, for instance.  The skinhead look didn’t start out as racist, and Punk bands wore swastikas as a commentary on society.  However, by the 1990s there were plenty of bands and underground cult figures who deliberately walked the line, at times sounding like bigots, but then explaining why what they said is totally legit.  It worked like magic, too: Declare yourself a “Near-Nazi” — impregnate a stripping punk zine editor.  Having an SPLC or an ADL file was a badge of honor in that scene.  These types are in it for their 15 minutes, and  the silent treatment is the best way of dealing with them.

Wade Page, to be sure, was a real life Neo-Nazi, and the watchdog groups do us a service by explaining the nature of his evil.  Consider that Page was a 40-year old with a possible substance abuse problem whose band as of two days ago had less than 8000 plays on myspace (and that’s after the news of the murder rampage came out).  There is probably a reason why he answered his own call for violence.  Having said that, the above-named groups are overgrown and politicized.

Before rushing to blame women representing Minnesota in the United States Congress, we should look at what End Apathy told us about their influences.  Topping a list of bands I never heard about (probably because they are White Power bands) End Apathy give credit to:

[Black] Sabbath, Slayer, [Iron] Maiden

Your basic metal bands.  Are they responsible for the slaughter?  As I recall, in the 80s Ozzy Osborn of Black Sabbath was taken to court when a teenager committed suicide listening to his song “Suicide Solution”.  Ozzy was cleared, and we no longer believe that his song, ostensibly about alcoholism, can cause people to shoot themselves.  Believing that calls for fiscal responsibility or support for the move of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem can cause people to go on a rampage is equally ludicrous.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t look for the larger issues that relate to the horrific event.  One thing we can do is to listen to the people in the targeted community.  There’s been many anti-Sikh hate crimes since 2001, and Sikh themselves feel that the FBI failed to take them seriously.  A small anecdote.  Five years ago or so we set at a cafe where at the table next to us a man wearing a Sikh turban was talking to a gentlemen in a suit.  The Sikh was concerned about murders of Sikh cab drivers, which he felt could be hate crimes.  The man he he talked to essentially told him that there is nothing he could do.

UPDATE: Linked by Temple of Mut — Thank you!

August 7, 2012

Welfare to Blog

Filed under: blogging, politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:27 pm

Via Just a Conservative Girl comes the new Romney ad on BO gutting of welfare reform:

Last month Breitbart reported that under the Obama Administration guidelines activities such as “[p]ersonal care [...], massage, exercise, journaling, motivational reading, smoking cessation, weight loss promotion, participation in parent teacher meetings, or helping friends or family with household tasks and errands” will now count as “work”, enabling individuals to qualify for the federal government handouts.

Journaling?  Is that a word?  Probably a neologism that’s yet to make its way to dictionary.com.  I surmise it probably means keeping a journal.  But what about keeping a journal in electronic format, commonly referred to as blogging?  Can bloggers go on welfare?  I doubt mommy bloggers like me will make the cut, given that we have gainfully employed husbands.  Married women are a Republican demographic, so it’s unlikely that the new policy was meant to benefit us.  But the liberal PuffHo bloggers are a different breed.  They had long been complaining that the employer doesn’t pay them.  Perhaps now they can get their checks from Uncle Sam and move out of the parents basement…  Or quit panhandling.

You know who doesn’t panhandle?  Hispanics.  Ted Cruz, the Senate hopeful from Taxes said:

“The Hispanic community, the values that resonate in our community, are fundamentally conservative,” Cruz said on “Fox News Sunday.” “They are faith, family, patriotism. Do you know the rate of military enlistment among Hispanics is higher than any demographic in this country? And they are also hard work and responsibility.”

“A friend of mine, a Hispanic entrepreneur, asked me a question some time ago. He said, ‘When is the last time you saw an Hispanic panhandler?’
I think it’s a great question. I’ll tell you, in my life, I never once have seen an Hispanic panhandler because in our community; it would be viewed as shameful to be out on the street begging.”

It’s true.  I see lots of Mexicans (presumably) asking for work, but never for money.  (I don’t see very many Asian homeless either.  Russians around here admire the fact that Asians know how to take care of their mentally ill.)  Unfortunately, a few generations down the road immigrant children acquire enough schooling necessary for full time blogging.  That condition is known as funemployment, and that’s when the federal government steps in.

UPDATE:And oh, in the duel of Presidential campaign ads it turned out that the woman, whose death Mitt Romney caused by taking away her health insurance, was actually insured.

August 5, 2012

Happy Birthday Mr President One Year Later

Filed under: fashion, politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:24 am

A year ago we celebrated the President’s 50th Birthday with the top 50 get-ups of Michelle Obama.  Since Barack Obama held yet another Birthday fundraiser yesterday, I feel obliged to review the last 366 days of wardrobe of our First Lady of Fashion.  It’s a lot of outfits to parse through, and I’m lazy.  So since I blogged about MO’s style through the end of 2011, I’m going to chose Michelle’s most eye-popping outfit of 2012.

In March FLOTUS went on a children’s TV channel wearing nothing but a see-through top and shiny tight pants.  Eye-popping indeed.  Still, I want to find another look because the pictures of her Nickelodeon appearance had been around the internet and back.

Michelle Obama Nickelodeon

Doesn’t shock anymore

A few days ago Michelle attended a British royal Olympic function in a 7K J. Mendel jacket, which is by now as ubiquitous as her Nickelodeon look.

London Olympics

I give her points for covering her shoulders, but the sleeves cut her oh-so-fabulous arms where they are the widest

Can’t say I like it, but looking at the picture of the model I see what the designer had in mind.  It’s the slopping white line across the chest that makes the garment.  On Michelle, however, the sleeves point upward, and the line is broken.  I never understood why she doesn’t get her clothes custom fitted.

Obama wore

The model wore it better

Considering that the majority of Americans still think that we are in a recession, and that the occasion is the Olympics, she could have recycled the gold medal in a cardigan look she spotted for hubby’s Nobel “Peace” Prize ceremony.

Then there is a boob belt siting in May:

Michelle Obama style

Not sure why this dress need a belt, let along a boob belt, and what this belt has to do with the string of pearls. And why she wore those pearls to begin with.  The First Lady has the unfortunate tendency to over-accessorize

In my opinion Michelle wore her most eye-popping look on David Letterman’s show in March.  She chose a sharp outfit by Preen:

Preen 2012

Nice proportions, bold color

Unfortunately, the dress was hard to wear, and this is what we saw on TV:

Obama Letterman

Michelle’s body viciously sliced into rectangles, with rear end and thighs most prominent

So, OK, they didn’t quite think it through, although somebody on Michelle’s massive stuff should be thinking about what looks good when seated in nighttime TV chairs.  And, again, what’s with the accessory?  The Preen design was all about clean lines.

Michelle Obama style

Why did she need to ruin it with the glittery pin?

In case you are wondering, MO chatted with Letterman about raising her daughters with South Chicago values.  I wonder if those are the same as “the Chicago values” her pal Rahm lauded when he expressed his desire to banish Chick-fil-A from the Windy City but embraced the race-monger Louis Farrakhan.  Of course, at the time of the airing of the Letterman show, BO was officially against gay marriage.  Presumably he was (and still is) pro-Farrakhan.

UPDATE: Linked by Temple of Mut — thank you!

August 3, 2012

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Filed under: Bay Area politics, Israel, politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:40 pm

UPDATE: To clarify, the people on the photo below are not my family.  I took it from a newspaper.  I do not know a single individual in the picture, and they don’t know me, I’m pretty sure.  Please don’t have them.

—-

A while ago I commented on pictures of Bay Area residents partying in Cuba that were appearing in a local paper under the heading “The Sun Shines Everywhere”.  I commented on the politics of local media:

Me and DH were talking about what goes on in that section.  I thought that perhaps Alameda Sun publishes just about any picture that readers care to send in because they can’t possibly have that many submissions.  DH suggested a way to test out that theory.  Next time we are in Israel, take a picture with IDF soldiers next to the Wailing Wall.  Send it in, see what happens.

But, hey, what do you know, this image comes from the latest issue:

The Sun Shines in Jerusalem, Israel

Caption reads “Michelle, Alex, Nathalie and Sam Koka recently attended a family wedding in Jerusalem, Israel. They then played tourist and visited the Old City. They didn’t forget to bring along the Alameda Sun.”

“Jerusalem, Israel”?  I mean, me and Mitt Romeny, we know that Jerusalem is in Israel, but the IOC doesn’t.  It could be an editorial oversight.  And the head of a certain avid letter writer is guaranteed to explode.

Speaking of Jerusalem, Israel.  American LGBT activists might be staging Chick-a-File make out sessions, but the Gay Pride parade in the Israeli capital was the model of propriety.

August 2, 2012

Muslim Women Want To Go Topless

Filed under: feminism, politics — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:16 pm

Does the UK not issue tourist visas to Ukrainians?  Because I’m sure the original FEMEN girls wouldn’t miss their chance to shine at London Olympics, but all I see is the French Femen.  The French FEMEN are not not overweight, and, get this, they have Islamic names.  Judging by the video available on The Telegraph, they have the potential.  But the original FEMEN, who are known for their ability to produce memorable pictures, need to watch out.  Don’t let some well-meaning but poorly produced ladies to water down your brand.

Femone Olympics

Femen France were protesting participation of countries governed by Sharia law:

“The regimes are fascists of our time, they treat women like third-class citizens,” said protester Reza Moradi, without specifying any countries. “This is what we object to, this is what they are protesting against.”

And here is their facebook statement:

“Femen demands that the International Olympic Committee condemns violence towards women from Islamist states,” they said on Facebook.

“Femen requires the states that apply the laws of Sharia be shut out of the Olympic Games because of the inhumanity of these laws, which are in total contradiction with Olympic principles of peace and philanthropy.

“Femen accuses these states of simulating democratic changes regarding the position of women,” Femen continued. “With the support of the IOC, these Islamist governments use the participation of women in the Olympic Games to hide thousands of victims and dead.”

Femen can make occupiers think.  Now about the commemoration of the Munich massacre…

Femen protest

And exist question, does this qualify for anti-Jihad blogging?

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