sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

January 29, 2013

Little Things That Are Making Me Miserable

Filed under: education, environmentalism, fashion, journalism, politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:33 pm

Facebook.  I tried to FB a while ago and couldn’t stand the… er… level of discourse.  Maybe it’s the people I know, or else FB reduces everyone to the lowest common denominator.  I wasn’t jealous of anyone I friended, quite to the contrary.  Every time I looked at my damn wall, I saw people broadcasting to the Universe that they are going to CVS to buy toilet paper — or some such.  A few couples’ PDA made me wonder about the fragility of their relationships.

Trying to decide whether to take my daughter to a Goth production of Prokofiev’s Cinderella is making me miserable.  I’m not a big fan of sanitizing tales, but I’m just not sure a 5-year-old enjoy this particular version.  I suspect the production is geared to grown children.  It’s only natural that choreographers are catering to hipsters in a city where they outnumber kids.

Smokers don’t make me miserable.  The ill effects of second hand smoke are vastly overblown, and I really don’t mind when people next to me have a cigarette or two.  What I can’t stand are the power trippers out to get smokers.  The formerly libertarian state of Oregon might actually pass a bill that would make cigarettes prescription only drugs.  I feel like hugging every smoker in this country of ours because when the smokers are gone, who’s next?

While outlawing tobacco, Oregon, many observers agree, is likely to legalize cannabis in the near future.  Here, in Cali, those on the hip side spent the last couple of decades joking that pot is now more socially acceptable than tobacco.  I’m sure this must be the case in both Washington and Colorado where recreational (what other kind is there?) marijuana is now legal.  And what do you know, CO is introducing a bill to set a limit for driving stoned.  It turns out that:

There’s a lot of pressure on lawmakers after legalizing pot. As the number of users grows, there is growing concern the number of people driving under the influence will as well. In 2011, the most recent data available, 13 percent of deadly crashes in Colorado involved pot.

13%?  Wow!  I recall the totally scientifically justified reasoning for legalization I heard all through my youth, that drunks do stupid things, like getting getting behind the wheel wasted, but stoners are just too mellow to get their tushies off their couches and therefore don’t drive intoxicated.

No word on how many accidents are caused by motorists impaired by tobacco.

I’m proud of my home town on occasion.  Last week, the one hometown paper that can tolerate me reading its pages printed a front page story about the effort of some goofy homegrown group to get the hometown Big 5 to stop selling the dreaded “assault weapons”.  Ours being a former navy town, the paper’ve heard from a few locals, including one reader who pointed out that the paper got all gun specifications wrong.  The paper retorted:

No one on the Sun’s editorial staff owns or ever has owned a gun. Officials at Big 5 did not respond to calls to clarify details about their merchandise.

So, basically, because they don’t know a certain subject they don’t possibly need to research it.  Hicks.

Another individual wrote on the subject of the grocery bag ban:

Cloth and canvas bags are the “ugly ducklings” of (reusable) shopping bags (“Treat Reusable Bags Like Dirty Laundry,” Jan. 17). They don’t hold their shape, being floppy. I can imagine people just throwing them away when they get too dirty.

“We” will wash our own bags. Oh, but of course, what about the many who don’t? Our food could get indirectly contaminated from someone else’s dirty bag, could it not?

Good questions.  If we can’t trust our fellow citizens to put their used plastic bags in a waste basket, we certainly can’t trust them to wash their cloth bags.  Lets legislate.

The dashing good looks of Democratic women had long been the subject of discussion of the right-wing blogosphere.  I hope my discussion of the sublime get-ups of Michelle Obama can be considered a humble contribution to the genre.  Do take a look at a representative specimen at Viking the Kitten blog.  EBL has Lena Dunham and Legal Insurrection — Jennifer Granholm.  I find all of these ladies hilarious, but my readers might prefer to plaque their eyes out rather than click at the links above.

OK, not everybody is blessed with good looks. But lets not go out of the way to make ourselves ugly

In any event, here is some news to cheer them up: universities are cutting assistant professors’ hours to comply with Obamacare which said professors enthusiastically endorsed.  No doubt they thought they’d benefit from Obamacare.  Remember when Pelosi promised that once O’care is signed into law, everyone can, like, stop worrying and join a band.  The sub-professorship class might know about brown nosing, which, to be sure, is an important skill in academia.  However, they seem to poorly understand how political power works in this country — or the world — or how the economy works.  Do you trust them to educate your children?

January 23, 2013

Wanted: Humanoid First Lady

Filed under: fashion, politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:35 am

Michelle Obama’s inaugural get-ups weren’t at their eye-popping best.  And yet in her usual display of opulence FLOTUS 44 went through something like twenty five changes, which, of course give plenty of fodder to your humble blogger.

Lets start with her pre-party children’s inaugural ensemble.  While an ostrich might be preferable to a peacock, it’s still an ostrich.  Hi-Lo hemline is easy to overdo, and if anyone knows about overdoing, it’s Michelle.  Unfortunately, this McQueen shirt is one of those garments that one pretty much has to be a model to get away with.

FLOTUS might need a little extra room in the fabulous upper arm area

On to the outdoor daytime inaugural look.  For the afternoon festivities MO wore a helmet and a pair of blood-stained gloves.

It’s not just that I don’t particularly like the coat because tiny geometric print punctuates the seams, and some of the panels are wider than others, which makes her look a bit odd.  All in all the coat is not bad, especially considering the source.  But her helmet hair, together with the stiff coat lines, the shiny belt, the pointy shiny toe, the fuchsia gloves and the cool tones made her look like a space alien about to use her mechanical hands to repel away a bitter clinger or two.

I want my hair to look like a wig too!

Because so many people already think she’s a meanie, she should generally get away from severe looks.  In this particular case, incorporating warm browns, round toe shoes, or, like the presidential lip-syncher, soft curls would go a long way.

Easy good looks

At the ball the First Lady of Fabulous wore a shiny (doh!) LBD and a red gown.

The red piece is nice, which means that according to the media it’s the best thing that ever happened to the office of the First Lady

Last time she wore a white dress with fluffy trimming and a thick strap across one shoulder.

Virgin white. I’m not a fan of First Ladies wearing white for inaugural balls. What is it, an occasion to renew your vows?

I can see the thinking here.  Since she already wore white, what’s left is black and red, and it can’t be black or red, she has to have both.  Reminds me of how our ever-sophisticated First Lady wore a gold dress for hubby’s Nobel “Peace” Prize ceremony and then a silver dress for the reception.  Based on her sartorial choices alone, Michelle Obama is much more of an open book than her husband.

And besides her dresses?  What is Michelle known for if not flaunting riches and telling working women how to raise kids?  Take away these two and all that’s left is a gal who’s only proud of her country on the occasions of her husband’s inaugurals.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I totally missed it.  It’s Romulan:

January 22, 2013

A Future for Freedom

Filed under: Bay Area politics, education, environmentalism — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 8:53 pm

I wrote about our local plastic bag ban a few weeks ago.  Well, the other night during the dinner our 5-year-old told us that some man came over to talk to the kids about the ban at her elementary school assembly.  The need to inform elementary school children about the ban is not immediately obvious to this parent.

The speaker told students that when people don’t properly dispose of plastic bags birds and animals may get caught in them or eat them and die.  I’m sure he had a lot of other drivel to share, but that’s what our 5-year-old picked up on, naturally.  Me and DH looked at each other.  We talked about littering, and how all littering is bad, not just plastic bags.  Fortunately, however, people in our town are responsible and can be trusted to put their garbage into garbage cans, even without the new law.

We also said that paper bags are not very good because the break often, and that people use plastic bags again and again, in their garbage cans and to pick up dogs’ poop. We told her that it was wrong to invite the guy who talks about why he supports the ban, but not invite anyone with a different point of view, because there are many sides to this story.  DH said that we’d like to hear about what is going on at the assemblies, and that there will be lot of things she’ll hear in school, and that the most important are math, reading and writing.  Everything else is just someone’s opinion.

I don’t think there was an age-appropriate way to explain that plastic bags production requires fewer resources and is, therefore, cleaner.  So we didn’t go there.  But the most important point was yet to be made.  The reason we oppose the ban, we said, is because if some people think that paper is better, they can ask for paper, and if some people think that plastic is better, they can ask for plastic.  Or if a store decides that they don’t want to give out plastic, they can stick with paper.  This way everybody can do what they think is appropriate.  My daughter looked at me for a second or two and gave me the most beautiful mischievous smile.

January 18, 2013

Odd Pen-pals

Filed under: parenting, politics, Soviet Union — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 6:29 pm

For some mysterious reason American politicians are required to kiss babies.  We might be increasingly skeptical as a people, and we distrust both major parties, but, evidently, it’s still advantageous for the politicians to put their lips to germ factories.

Cuties!

I hope Obama’s latest use of children as props to advance specific agenda will backfire, and our leaders will stop stop hanging out with kids in general.  When announcing his executive orders intended to curb gun rights, Obama lined up a handful of kids.  The kids, evidently, sent letters to the President asking him to curtail the 2nd Amendment.

The first time I heard of an American kid writing letters to world leaders was in 1982.  I was 9 and the very photogenic Samantha Smith was 10.  The uninhibited Samantha sent a letter to Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov asking him to not have a war with the United States.  Although Andropov didn’t personally answer Samantha, her note was printed in Pravda.  Samantha persisted, contacting the Soviet ambassador to the United States.  After that Andropov printed his answer to Samantha in Pravda, and the girl’s family was invited to visit the Soviet Union.  The Smith family went on a guided tour of Moscow and Leningrad, and the girl spent a few day in Artek, the camp for the children of nomenklatura.

Samantha Smith holds up a letter

She was a minor TV celebrity and a news sensation in the States, but I doubt many Americans remember the girl, or even had heard of her.  She was, however, a huge star in the Soviet Union.  Since she had enormous propaganda value for the Soviet regime, she was put on state TV on heavy rotation.  An average Soviet person was taken with the affable American girl.  Andropov said that she reminded him of Becky Thatcher, and the country digged the comparison.  (Do American kids still know who Becky Thatcher is?)

I couldn’t understand how a girl of 10 could write to world leaders.  Unlike everyone else I knew, I did have a foreign pen-pal, a cousin in San Francisco, whose letters, when they arrived, arrived pre-read — it was obvious that somebody messed with the envelope.  I knew better than to write to foreign politicians, and I certainly wouldn’t correspond with our own Soviet higher ups.

Irina Tornopolsky did.  She was about the same age and, like me, lived in Kharkov.  Irina signed a letter to Andropov asking him to release her dad, a political prisoner, and allow her family to emigrate to Israel.  Although the letter was printed in the Western press, and it’s hard not to sympathize with her family’s predicament, Irina did not become a glob-trotting international celebrity.  Let her travel abroad, and she’ll defect.  Without strategically staged photographs, she was merely a footnote to a footnote in Cold War history.  Tornopolsky’s family later admitted that the message was written by a friend, and that the friend wanted to attract attention to the plight of refuseniks at the time when Samantha Smith was giving gushing interviews about Lenin being just like George Washington.

The very photogenic Katya Lycheva became the Soviet peace prodigy a la Samantha Smith.  She “wrote” to Reagan, and traveled around the world as a young “goodwill ambassador”.  Katya, of course, was widely believed by her compatriots to be a KGB stooge.

Promotional picture of Katya Lycheva. In case you are wondering, no Soviet kids didn’t play with stuffed globes and doves. We had normal toys, meaning all boys were encouraged to engage in imagination play with plastic guns. What do you do with a globe and a dove, anyway? The bird is not even half as good as your average Teddy bear, and the globe is a poor cousin of a soccer ball

I had questions about Samantha Smith, and my dad explained that Americans generally don’t feel constrained about approaching their politicians, but that particular girl was probably encouraged by her parents.  The girl didn’t live to figure out that she was used.  Samantha Smith and her father died in a plane crash in 1986.  The Soviet press immediately declared that the tragedy was a result of foul play — it wasn’t.  Anyhow, I doubt Samantha Smith’s surviving mother would agree with my dad’s assessment.

Gosh, what do I know?  Girls certainly like to exchange notes, and some American girls particularly unself-conscious.  I certainly don’t see my children approaching world leaders any time soon, and I see it as a good thing.  Their scribbles are most likely to be ignored.  Should they be particularly unlucky, they can be used as stage props, as Obama did to the anti-gun kiddos a few days ago.

We all know that the kids were thrust in front of the cameras in order to mix up our cool logic with emotion — or, to spell out the particulars, to get the wingnuts to shut up already — how in the world are the correct-thinking individuals suppose to win an argument?  I doubt any of these kids would be hanging out with the ‘Bamster, should their parents not approve and encourage their epistolary habits.  “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen” is what we say about politics.  And yet it’s perfectly appropriate to drag kids into it.

January 14, 2013

A Post That Writes Itself

Filed under: Bay Area politics, journalism, politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 3:43 pm

After watching The Tournament of Roses on the New Years Day, we were flipping through the channels, and found some sort of New Year’s Day parade in Oakland.  It wouldn’t cross my mind to take the kids to Oakland to watch a parade when we can cozy up next to the fireplace and watch the one in Pasadena.

Needing something to say, the TV host said that Oakland is the number five tourist destination in the world.

“What?” I said. “You have Mecca, and you have Paris, and a few other cities, and then there is Oakland?  Maybe if you are really into the Black Panthers, you’d want to see all these historical places.”

We did a little googling, and found the source of that trivia — The New York Times.  The paper of note compiled the list of the 45 places to visit in 2012.  There, at number 5, squeezed between London (“The Olympics!”) and Tokyo, was Oakland, Ca.  Newspaper’s rationale?

New restaurants and bars beckon amid the grit.

Tensions have cooled since violence erupted at the recent Occupy Oakland protests, but the city’s revitalized night-life scene has continued to smolder.

The historic Fox Theater reopened in 2009 and quickly cemented its status as one of the Bay Area’s top music venues, drawing acts like Wilco and the Decemberists. Meanwhile, the city’s ever more sophisticated restaurants are now being joined by upscale cocktail bars, turning once-gritty Oakland into an increasingly appealing place to be after dark. James Syhabout, the chef who earned Oakland its first (and only) Michelin star two years ago at Commis, followed up in May with the instant-hit Hawker Fare, a casual spot serving Asian street food. Big-name San Francisco chefs are now joining him. Daniel Patterson (of two-Michelin-star Coi) opened the restaurant Plum in late 2010 and an adjacent cocktail bar later, and another restaurant, called Haven, in the recently renovated Jack London Square last month.

Not sure why it”s necessary to catch touring national acts specifically in Oakland when any self-respecting American city has a splendid art deco theater or two, but there are some good restaurants, to be sure.  Some are still standing, despite Occupy Oakland’s best efforts.  However, if a tourist is simply interested in food, why not stay in San Francisco, or, better yet, go wine-testing in Sonoma, which boasts excellent venues and a landscape that’s easy on the eyes?

Aside from the few upscale restaurants and breweries, there is nothing to see in Oakland.  If my readers do end up here, I recommend The Alley, an ostensibly unpretentious old school piano bar.  Locals like to sing the Oakland Song (starts on the 7:15 mark):

A taste of the lyrics:

Oakland’s got the Tribune Tower,

Oakland’s got Lake Merritt too

[...]

And don’t forget the tube to Alameda.

Oakland does have wealthy and well-kept enclaves and many neighborhoods that have potential for charm.  Then there are  a couple of sad museums. A few years ago the city was hoping to become a marijuana tourism destination, a kind of Amsterdam on the Pacific, but the dealers in charge of medical pot dispensaries quickly figured out that, should the drug become legal, they’d be put out of business by industrial-scale growers, and killed the bill to legalize it.  So now Colorado and Oregon are pioneering marijuana legalization.  California is sure losing its edge…

All in all, it’s not much of a tourist draw.  But where Oakland does stand out, is violent crime.  It is currently the third on the Forbes magazine list of most dangerous cities in America.  Violent crime rate here is 1,683 per 100,000 residents.  Just last Friday, six people were shot, four of them fatally, in a period of four hours.  Last night another eleven people were shot.  No word on which assault weapons were used, so, I presume, the crimes weren’t committed with “assault weapons”.

I’m not sure the historic Fox Theater is worth the risk.  Individuals interested in an offbeat hipsterish environment and gourmet cuisine, are advised to visit Portland.

Vegas, Baby

Filed under: Bay Area politics, blogging, education, environmentalism, fashion, local news, politics — Tags: — edge of the sandbox @ 1:23 pm

Returning from the annual Vegas trip, yours truly is happy to report that the Second Amendment in Sin City is alive and well.  DH’s uncle who lives in the area told us (and I’m not going to bother to fact check him because a) he’s reliable when it comes to Nevada news, and b) I’m lazy) that the trend for the casinos had long been to diversify, and that they now derive 60% of their profits from shopping and dining.  When DH had his bachelor party in Vegas some years ago, his friends took him to target-shoot machine guns.  The following year we noticed an ad for the range that they visited at the airport.  Now we see ads for gun entertainment everywhere.  Either our memories are wrong, or machine guns are the new big thing.

We usually try to do something that can count for culture on that side of the Rockies.  Since we’ve already seen Cirque du Soleil and we’ve seen Penn and Teller, we decided to move on to museums.  And, boy, are the museums in NV different!  Last January we went to National Atomic Testing Museum, an outfit somehow affiliated with the Smithsonian.  I’m not sure why the Smithsonian wants to have anything to do with said museum because the story of the atomic testing is told from [gasp!] the American perspective.  They do give voice to the hippies, as they should, because hippies made “anti-nuclear proliferation” their cause, becoming a minor part of the Cold War history.  The bulk of the exhibit tells the story of patriotic people who developed and tested nuclear weapons (or watched them tested).  The last room showcases the pictures drawn by schoolchildren after museum tours.  To my amazement, there was little pacifism on display.  Some kids even drew “peace through superior firepower” symbols.

This year we went to The Mob Museum, now located in the old courthouse downtown where some of the mob hearings where held.  (On the way to the museum we passed El Cortez casino that proudly  advertizes  that they accept EBT.  In the buffet, presumably?  I hope.  I should have snapped a picture of their marquee.  Note to self: when in doubt, photograph.)  I was surprised by the breadth of information covered by the The Mob Museum exhibits.  The artifacts, from the St. Valentine’s Day massacre wall to Tony Soprano’s wardrobe, were neat.  A Tommy gun, the mafia weapon of choice in the 1920s, was on display, and so were the late 20th century assault weapons, like fish hooks and blades.  An entire room was dedicated to mafia and the Kennedys, and the mafia-unions connection was likewise explored.  For the most part The Mob Museum presented real, honest history, although some exhibits were purely tangential.  For instance, is it at all relevant that there were black people at Las Vegas’s founding?  Including black gangs would make much more sense.

Needless to say, neither The Mob Museum nor National Atomic Testing Museum could exist in the Bay Area.  I guess there is hope for this country.

Speaking of the Bay Area, starting New Year’s Day, our municipality instituted a dignity tax.  What’s dignity tax, you ask?  It’s the 10 cent surcharge on every bag a store gives to a customer.  Plastic grocery bags are now banned.  Upon its enactment, the new law generated a lively discussion in the letter section of the one local paper that can still tolerate me reading their pages.  (The cherry on top was an unrelated letter from girl scouts chastising smokers.)  Some locals warned that for health reasons residents should be invest into canvas totes and duffel bags, and washing said bags after each use.  Like I’m going to haul bags to the store every time I buy $150 worth of groceries, and, after spending an hour shopping, commit another hour to doing a load of laundry.  Still, because reusable grocery bags pose a threat of cross-contamination and infectious disease outbreak, like the recent norovirus outbreak in a girl soccer team everyone likes to cite, I propose creating a national registry parents who, because of their narcissistic irresponsible behavior, expose their children to danger of reusable grocery bags.

Manhattan Infidel has some environmentalism news from the other side of the continent.

When we heard that the California Teachers retirement fund is divesting from firearms (you mean, that’s what they were invested in, up until now?), we bought some gun stock.  Meanwhile, from Legal Insurrection post of the day link we learn about an amazing 15-year-old who defended himself and his sister with dad’s AR-15.  Yep, there is hope for this country.

Professor Jacobson had a lot of fantastic posts on the Sandy Hook aftermath.  Among them is the story of the non-prosecution of David Gregory and putting pressure on Gannett corporate, the parent company of Journal News, to take position on the paper’s outing of individuals who own guns.  Holding corporate parent companies responsible is something the right needs to learn to do.  Leslie Eastman warns that California is targeted for enhanced gun control activism.  Seems like a good place to start, if you are an anti-gun nut.  If you for some reason don’t read Legal Insurrection, you should.

I’ve never understood how a feminist can be anti-gun.  After all, a gun is a great equalizer.  Men are superior to women in pure physical strength, but civilization gave us weaponry that makes us more or less equal in street combat.  On this point, see images at Bluebird of Bitterness and Maggie’s Notebook.

Speaking of pictures, after rare winter storms, Israel was covered with snow.  I loved Ann’s Opinions photo essay, and found some other great photographs.

Trendy photography from the IDF Twitter feed

The good news is that Russia is going wobbly.  Russians are floating proposals to give a NC18 rating to the beloved animation series Nu Pogodi (thanks to Harrison for forwarding this one to me).  Like all Russian kids of my generation, I grew up watching the series, which featured a lovable anti-hero and plenty of violence, including gun violence, though no gore.  All of you interested in Russian culture, do click on the link.  By the way, while my generation didn’t know gun ownership, we also didn’t know the “guns are icky” mentality either.  Our popular culture was replete with gun imagery, and all boys played with toy guns.  In high school we shot AK-47 blanks to fulfill our initial combat preparedness requirements.

King Shamus is having some fun at the expense of Obama voters.  It’s a soft target, I suppose.  This time the schmucks found out that their paycheck shrunk, which, evidently, was not on the list of goodies they expected from O.

I know why Armenians make good shoes — they’ve been practicing the longest.  In the Soviet days, Russian ladies bought Armenian shoes because they were well made.  (Take note, Anthropologie.)  And Russian ladies are always on the lookout for a good pair.

To buy or not to buy… It’s not like I need another pair of boots, but the price is right, and I’m sure they present a formidable challenge for Lena Duhnam

When I started blogging, I thought that it was better to write a few short posts than a single long one.  And now, mostly due to lack of time, I take so long to compose a link post, that whatever I set out to write keeps expending until… OK, I’ll shut up.

January 7, 2013

Depardieu To Adopt An Orphanage

Filed under: politics, Russia — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:26 pm

Kidding.  I’m sure everyone heard about Gerard Depardieu’s decision to renounce his French citizenship and move — first to Belgium, and now to Russia.  For one, Russians offer a better tax deal:

If Mr. Depardieu chooses to take up Russian citizenship, he would potentially trade steep French income tax rates, which he said now claim 85 percent of his income, and even Belgian rates of 60 percent or higher, for Russia’s flat 13 percent income tax. The value-added tax, a sales tax on goods and services, is 18 percent in Russia compared with nearly 20 percent in France, while Russian social security taxes are 30 percent compared with 50 percent in France.

On its way out of communism Russia, like many other former Eastern Block countries, had adopted a flat tax. And if Gospodin Gepardieu thinks that 13% is too high, no worries — few Russians pay income taxes to begin with, and the country relies heavily on its oil and gas revenue.  Sure, Mihkail Khordokovsky is doing time for tax evasion, or so we are told, but given how the actor was caught admiring Putin’s foray into popular culture, I don’t think he needs to worry about such things:

If it’s the low flat tax rate that interests Depardieu, why not chose Georgia or the Czech Republic?  Putin continued:

But aside from tax savings, Mr. Putin suggested that French officials were too brusque in their response to Mr. Depardieu’s complaints and that he might find that Russians simply understand him better as an artist. “Actors, musicians and artists are people with a special, delicate psychological makeup and, as we say in Russia, the artist is easily offended,” Mr. Putin said at the news conference on Dec. 20. “So I understand Mr. Depardieu’s feelings.”

I assume he understands Pussy Riot as well.  Not to say that Pussy Riot is anywhere near Depardieu’s talent, but we are talking bohemian sensibility here, not talent.  Then again, perhaps Putin does know something about artists, many of whom, like our former Frenchman, like dictators.

Depardieu might want to review Russian ideas about immigration.  If a Russian is to renounce his citizenship, he’ll be seen as a traitor by many of his ex compatriots.  Actually, in that part of the world one doesn’t need to leave the country to rise to the status of Benedict Arnold.  When I was growing up in the Soviet Union, virtually any activity that involves moving from one group of people to another, like switching places of employment, was considered treasonous.  Things changed in the 90s, at least for a short time, but it looks like today’s popular opinion is back to the Soviet assumptions.

After the Pussy Riot “trial” last year, I was looking through Russian chatrooms.  The general consensus there was that the young women had it coming, and that in other countries the punishment for their performance would be even harsher.  One individual opined that Pussy Riot are traitors to their motherland, and that in the US they would be put to death for [high] treason.  It was a well-liked opinion.  Last November Putin broadened the legal definition of treason, giving himself a green light to go after dissenters.

Regardless the Russian views on dissent and treason, the new arrival will get to keep more of his money.  How will he show his gratitude?  Russians don’t have the tradition of charitable giving akin to the one we have in America.  When we arrived to the US, we were moved to see people donating their money, time and possessions to help us settle in the new country.  It was all new to us.  Perhaps Gerard Depardieu, a Westerner, knows how charity is done.

The Russian population of parent-less children is now greater than it was at the end of World War 2.  There are children starving in Russian orphanages, and now, because Putin is playing politics with their lives, they can not be adopted by American families.   Surely an actor known for creating humane characters can not remain indifferent.  He should contribute to an overhaul of the Russian orphanage system and perhaps adopt a kid or two.

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