Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cream of the Shady Crop

A portrait of the writer done by a coworker. Read more about it here.

A story of how I failed at adult life at the age of 25 and had to move in with my mother in Ohio.

***

Drunk Ivan laying around on the grass, thinking about love and watching the moon. 

A full text of my bitter and snarky online dating profile. 


A love song tossed at me by a mystery lady patron at a Chinese Buffet. 

A rather sad post about pain. 

Excerpts from a few goofy exchanges I had with ladies online: Women's Studies and Ask Nature.

An email I wrote to a special lady. So special that she is the only human I ever felt truly connected to in my adult life (family and close friends included).

***

Other notable posts:

A description of my depression and my personal philosophy for dealing with it. 

How I ran into a Korean pop star at a Walmart in Columbus, Ohio and bought him a cheap bottle of wine. 

My criticism of white men who unbutton the top of their shirts to look edgy. 

My friend Boris and I reporting that my neighbor could potentially be a serial killer to a suburban police department. 

This is actually what I consider to be one of my most well-written essays.

***
In conclusion I will just list some other posts that I think may deserve your attention.

Life stories:  

For all my political opinions on every land from the motherland to Egypt and back to the good ol' US of A click here.

I wanted to include some other posts but reconsidered when I realized that I might give off an air of a megalomaniac who started a list of his favorite personal writing and ended up including almost everything he ever wrote. So I shall stop here. 

I want to sincerely thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you gain something by being here.

Thank you and best of luck with all your endeavors.

Gun Rights and Human Wrongs



Maybe girls weren't attracted to you because you described yourself as a "supreme gentleman" before pointing the finger at the camera and saying "I will punish you all for it."

Perhaps having a personality that seems to be cross between a disgruntled hobbit deprived of a ring to rule them all and some effete James Bond villain with perfect diction didn't help matters with college girls. Also being the type of guy who turns his blue ball status into an existential dilemma worthy of a 141 page manifesto gives off the wrong vibe.

His manifesto's only redeeming quality is proper grammar and an impressive vocabulary; attributes that are in sharp deficit in our age- unlike mass murders by idiots.

Now we can all sit back and hear some noise from Capitol Hill, followed by some hysterical noise from the NRA, followed by increase in gun sales (lest Obama raid the trailer parks and snatches them all away), followed by some quiet, followed by another lonely, alienated, sex-starved loser who picks up a gun, takes some innocent lives and starts the whole societal rigmarole all over again

Yet Elliot Roger and other killers like him bring up an interesting point on the right to gun ownership. Guns allow American citizens the theoretical possibility of not relying solely on the state for personal protection, they break the government's monopoly on violence, they democratize violence and the use of force by allowing most people access to weaponry. Realistically anyone with money can get a gun in America (be it legal or otherwise).

On a more personal level, guns give men a chance to feel masculine. In the world of ironic humor, corny sitcoms, wage-slave office jobs that go nowhere and the minuscule portion of the populace who ever encounters actual war, men can get a testosterone boost by going to a shooting range and feeling a lethal weapon in their arms so used to typing out pointless bullshit on their work computers. Sweet relief.

Gun ownership also allow deprived teens to shoot each other in the inner city over drug turf and give any suicidal lowlife an ability to to take innocent lives on their ways out and force us to confront their goofy manifestos and youtube videos that could be comedy sketches if they didn't foreshadow a tragedy.

Through out human history guns have allowed people to carve out their philosophies in human flesh. From Pol Pot's empire of socialist pain to Elliot Roger's sex-starved misanthropy, guns made those wacky ideas into a bleak, permanent reality for the victims of those ideas.

In totalitarian countries, terror was the prerogative of the state; the second amendment grants the terror-waging freedom to individual citizens.

"Power grows out of the barrel of a gun," as Chairman Mao once opined. And this power flowed and flowed and continues to flow today. Rebels, terrorists, freedom-fighters of all varieties, dictators, militiamen, farmers, hunters, postal workers and sex starved mass murders have instinctively grasped this truth.

I am attracted to guns, and may eventually get one or two if my finances allow it. But my boy-like personal attraction to guns doesn't overrule the fact that I don't trust humanity with them (on an individual or collective level).

Spread guns around and crazy hands will find them; crazy hands being the trigger-happy kind.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Rape, Racism, Crack Pipe Pranks and the Demise of Patronizing Hugs

Abandoned building in Cincinnati

What constitutes a good excuse for racism?

Say, you were raped for over five hours by six members of an ethnicity. Are you entitled to a certain dislike even if it stems from base Pavlovian conditioning where pain, fear, hatred and humiliation attached themselves to a group of people because a few members of it perpetrated a crime against your body and soul?

No, I don't think so. I am a liberal after all and a Buddhist to boot and neither my secular nor religious worldview nor my basic temperament would allow me to bathe on racism's dirty shores.

Yet a passenger told me a story of her rape. And as far as the epistemology of personal racism goes there are certainly weaker cases for it than her ordeal... though none ultimately justify the blanket sentiment of antipathy toward billions of people who happen to share similar genetic traits as a few criminals.

She said that she has told this story to another driver at my company and that he started to weep.

When I later ran into the said driver at the company office, I brought her up and he smiled and said, "Ha ha ha! She is crazy. She did so many drugs that she is out of it!"

"She had interesting life experiences," I said.

"Ha ha ha!," came the reply, "She is nuts! I can't drive her anymore. Did she tell you how she was raped by six n******?"

"Yes," I said.

"Crazy!" he said, "just insane! Ha ha! Don't tell her too much about yourself she talks a lot! Did she try to hit on you?"

"Nope."

"She flirted with me all the time. I can't drive her anymore!"

The contrast between this exchange and him shedding tears in the car was rather profound. What accounted for this moral discrepancy? Did she exaggerate his emotional response or did she have it right and was his retelling now a kind of a locker room bro talk meant to mask his tender, sentimental core that she saw and I never will on account of my male gender?

Don't know. Though the naive child within me was hurt by the idea of her seeing him as a friend and him presenting her as a wild freak with a crazy life to me; as if we were trading her horrible rape story like a handful of weathered baseball cards.

I can't put it into words right but these kinds of exchanges make me subtly hate human existence, hate our innately hypocritical and two-faced nature, hate the shitty civilizations with which we littered the green earth and where we now run around like headless chickens with our ambitions, lies and tender feelings.

***

When she informed me that the other driver cried when she told him of her ordeal, I felt a ping of discomfort at my own lack of misty eyes.

What was I supposed to say?

"You see Jane (not her real name), I am emotionally detached and process human suffering in a cerebral way; I will place your experience on a mental shelf reserved for such things where it will rest along with other horrible events -such as various 20th century genocides, revolutions and wars- that I have heard or read about. My empathy for you is real but also muted and abstract on account on my general alienation from humanity that created an iron curtain of thoughts and calculations between me and the rest of my Godforsaken species. Save for one girl with whom I am in love, I interact with all other people like a well functioning autistic kid or an intergalactic alien in human form who understands people well but can't get on the same emotional frequency with them because I don't see myself and the rest as similar creatures. We might be on the same boat but our rowing is out of sync. The girl I love gets long texts with smiley faces and genuine tenderness of feeling but everyone else is served up bursts of language that isn't exactly a lie but isn't exactly my real truth either. Yes, I wish I was different but maybe I don't wish that hard because I don't expect this state of affairs to change anytime soon. The other Soviet-born driver you had probably is more interconnected with humans and his emotions than I and thus delivered a more appropriate and touching response to your pain (though I later discovered he might be a heartless bastard, much worse than stingy-tears-Ivan over here. But who really knows?)"

Instead I went with, "wow, that is horrible, unbelievable," delivered in an awkward monotone and followed up with, "you are really strong for having survived that."

She nodded and told me that one of the rapists approached her after the conclusion of the brutal rape when she was sore and her with her mouth (as she expressed using different words) dry and filled with remnants of male excretions and said, "I'm really sorry, I didn't know it was going to go down like that" and handed her money.

As she often worked in the world's oldest profession to feed her habit, perhaps his internal logic went along the lines of, "its not really rape if I paid for it!"

Though this moral rational may work for a can of beer one pocketed at the gas station and paid for when confronted by the Pakistani clerk, it falls flat when applied to retroactive compensation for participating in an unfathomable act of sexual violence.

Then we started talking about other topics. Like the practical jokes she plays on her friends who indulge in crack cocaine.

Apparently many people experience deep paranoia when they're "tweeking" on the pipe. They close doors and window blinds and glance nervously through the cracks (no pun intended) to see if the police is coming.

Since she had no such phobias when doing crack she would come close to her paranoid brethren glancing cautiously at the outside world and proclaim, "hm, I'm not sure if the cops are coming, I can't see really well this way" and then proceed to pull the blinds or swing the door open if they were peaking under it.

To her pleasure, jokes like that would never fail to really freak them out. I guess pulling the blinds or opening doors at opportune moments is like these pranks that don't get old -- a whoopee cushion of the drug infested, forgotten American inner city.

One time their close friend got himself a sweet load of crack rocks and was about to settle into a pleasant (?) paranoid high. He readied himself for this mental treat, turned off the lights in his room, closed the doors and the windows in his house. Jane accompanied by her boyfriend then proceeded to bang loudly on the doors and the windows and scream, "Open up! Police!" In the proceeding festival of fear and relief, he got so distracted (being high on crack probably didn't help either) that Jane and her boyfriend helped themselves to some of his loot.

"I suppose all is well when all pipes are filled." I told her.

...then again, maybe not.

***

Another girl I drove told me about her rape. There was one perpetrator this time.

"It happened right here in an alley down the street," she said pointing to my right, "he asked me if I had a lighter and then raped me right in that alley."

We were talking outside the car in the parking lot of a public housing building where she stayed with her baby daughter (her fiancee -the father of her child- died in a car crash while she was serving time in prison). She said it was nice talking to me and offered me a hug.

"You don't have to pat me, I'm not a dog," she informed me.

I guess my detached empathy and vaguely patronizing ways have betrayed themselves through me patting her on the back during the hugging process.

FUCK YOU, CEREBRAL AND EMOTION-LIGHT EMPATHY OF MINE!

Why can't you be more subtle!?! Can we make this any more obvious? Maybe an "I'm kind of dead inside. I don't mind if you hug me but don't expect much" custom t-shirt I could wear at work instead of my uniform?

"You're family probably doesn't hug much," she remarked in a friendly way.

"True enough," I thought to myself. My grandma aside, I do my best to avoid physical contact with my kin as best I can.

***

The other day, I was sitting in a McDonalds parking lot in my work car between driving appointments and listening to a book through the stereo system connected to my I-Pod. It was a Russian novel (Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov) toward the end when the son of a protagonist who has passed away in the previous chapter is mentioned I experienced an unexpected burst of emotion.

It came out of the blue like a twitching of a phallus of a long impotent man. It's a sensation I described before on this blog (the near-weeping that is, not the phallic twitching), I didn't actually cry but sort of made an I'm-about-to-cry face and put my head in my hand in a burdened pose of a thinking man.

My eyes emitted some moisture that could theoretically form into a tear but didn't gain the critical mass to actually do so. And then it was over. In a few moments, the heavy doors of my heart closed and I was back to my normal drift. The boiling waters of my sentimentality, cooled by a flow of incoherent thoughts. I haven't really cried for years.

It was interesting to note that Russian fiction routinely extracts way more emotions out of me than my day-to-day American life, even if that life exposes me to people who have suffered more than the heroes of those 19th century classics I consume so eagerly.

***

When the Seattle girl I'm in love with and I weren't talking to each other, I remember laying in my bed in my Columbus apartment (that incidentally -on account of my messiness- resembled a crack house) and listening to a hypnotic track I found online that was supposed to relax me. The internet hypnotist lady with a soothing voice whispered through my portable speaker that I should conjure up a moment in my life when I was really happy.

The moment I unexpectedly retrieved from the abyss of my soul was when I traveled to Seattle back in 2012, I was living in Ohio at the time, and came to retrieve things that were lying in a rented storage unit. I met the girl at a hipster bar called the Oak (the tagline on the receipt was, "the Oak is a joke") and after chatting for about forty minutes she gave me a hug before departing for her house. The same day I typed out some desperate, needy and long winded emails to her and they scared her off with their heaviness. She did not reply.

That hug was the happiest moment of my adult life I suddenly realized. This made me sad. My romanticism will kill me before my depression gets me, I thought. And if those two work together... I'm totally fucked.

***

Recently I brought a hug up in a text to the girl. But it wasn't the Seattle hug with her.

"A lady criticized my hugging etiquette," I wrote, "She said 'don't pat me I'm not a dog'"

"Haha," she replied, "I hate it when people pat. No pats. And let go if the hug is over!"

"Haha," I answered, "Who do I think I am? The hug was on her initiative and I always let go! I've learned something new today. The only time I will pat now is if I have a consenting dog or a feline."

I might have added a smiley face at the end but I don't have the exact texting exchange in front of me as I delete all of them because with our conversations in the past I've always had the neurotic tendency to re-read them many times later (either feeling happy about our connection or kicking myself for not phrasing things better or for saying certain things at all).

With my new-found revaluation of myself as a clumsy hugger, I once again returned to the happiest moment of my adult life.

Did I pat that time?

Can't say for sure. But I doubt that I did.

One doesn't pat when he loves.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Sacred Book of the Werewolf

My amazon review of the aforementioned novel by Victor Pelevin.

"Post-modern" is a term that appears next to Pelevin's name in many reviews. Post-Soviet is another. Both words are goofy and pretentious. The first is so banal and cerebral that all friction with reality that could give this stupid term meaning has worn off completely. Post-modern is a dirty shoe filled with dried sweat of hipster pseudo-intellectuals that I'm not trigger happy to put on.

Post-Soviet is also a trite label but I think this one has more utility. I don't think Pelevin ever sits before a blank piece of paper wondering how to write a "post-Soviet Russian novel." If he did so he would write books that most of us wouldn't want to read.

And yet this fella does live in --and his fiction does describe-- post-Soviet Russia.

So what is post-Soviet Russia?

Imagine a little girl who is promised a birthday party. Her portly grandma whispers in her ear about the fantastic party she will have and how her melancholy and malnourished life will get better after this party. The excited girl runs home from school anticipating this wondrous, life-changing event and when she gets home she finds her alcoholic father chasing his vodka with the remnants of her birthday cake. He feels guilty, this guilt morphs into anger and he slaps her on the face, begins to tearfully apologize and finally falls into a drunken stupor on the floor before her small feet.

Picture the sense of emptiness, disillusionment, despair and cynicism that defines her little heart at this imagined moment and you will get an idea of the bitter, alienated core of post-Soviet Russia.

Russians were promised a new beginning as the empire was tumbling down but instead they entered a new battlefield where they got lucky enough to play both the parts of the cowboys and the Indians. This battlefield was called "an emerging democracy with a developing market economy" and they were supposed to relish every moment.

The cherished democratic ideals of the west became a hollow PR sludge in the minds of many Russians. Communism was dead, maybe God was alive and maybe not. Crime rose, births fell, economy spiraled, orphaned kids were sniffing glue out of plastic bags and minty fresh documentaries informed the newly freed Russians about the bloody crimes of the Bolshevik regime.

Souls despaired and narrowed their goals to survival. Some made money, made millions. Provincial girls dolled themselves up to marry an oligarch or at least get to be his kept woman. Provincial boys buffed themselves up to maybe... serve on the security team?

Anyways, you get the picture. Times were shady in the motherland. This utter lack of meaning combined with Russia's historical hunger for the DEEPEST meaning possible made for the reality Pelevin so aptly describes.

A certain mystical vacuum opened up in Russia's "post-Soviet" heart and Pelevin filled this vacuum with mythic beasts from his fertile imagination. I am a Moscow-born American transplant and for me it is easy to imagine that vampires and werewolfs lurked among the hustlers and corrupt bureaucrats in Russia's glistening hotels, casinos (now closed by big papa aka V.V. Putin), and fancy restaurants.

Both the time and place were right for dark magic. It falls rather neatly into the Russian puzzle - as Bulgakov discovered all the way back during Stalin's merciless reign.

Not only does dark magic fit into the puzzle but it often seems like it is the only thing that can make this puzzle make sense.

And here we get to gist of the matter. Pelevin doesn't introduce magical reality into his fiction for the sake of fiction. He does it for the sake of reality. He uses it as a scalpel, a philosophical tool to cut away the fat. To stab our reality in its heart so it can bleed out its essence.

Post-Soviet Russia is a beautiful, enigmatic and (alas!) often sinister black hole. Dark magic unlocks Russia and Russia unlocks our universal human condition. You could even say it unlocks our post-modern existence if you really want to.

And through this majestic process, Pelevin... loses many of his readers who want a straight and narrow story about magical creatures doing supernatural things. They don't want these magical creatures to have long discussions about Russia because they don't see themselves in Russia; they don't see Russia as a mirror of their humanity.

And yet other westerners glance into that mirror and see our common universe when they read folks like Dostoevsky, Gogol and count Tolstoy.

Nah, here they want a story about a werewolf. A simple one if possible. "Mr. Pelevin, you promised me a werewolf and I got a story about a Russian soul navigating through the swamp, looking for meaning."

Mercifully, great novels don't live in the world where the customer is always right.

Because Pelevin is a talented writer many equate him with the world he describes; they see him swimming comfortably in the currents of cynicism. I don't... I see the cynicism but I don't see the comfort.

This book is a story of finding enlightenment through love. Not cynical at all. This really is a quintessentially Buddhist book. Almost a morality tale like Lolita.

But maybe I'm not making any sense at this point. Try to enjoy this book, this is great literature.

Trust me on this. 74% of Amazon reviewers found voted my reviews to be helpful. And we Russians know that democracy is never wrong and the other 26% are idiots anyway... so who cares what they think?

Well, I wrote what I could. Now I better run off, there is a cow skull in Siberia I want to howl to.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Book of Miracles













Art looks so modern I would think its a contemporary fake but its not. 

Subtle and beautiful... but fuck, I want different miracles for my life. The grace and beauty of the images comes from medieval dread. The art of the Christian world is so great because its extracted from the pain of the host who feeds his neurosis to be titled genius. And before the renaissance, even that title was elusive. 

Buddhist art often lacks a certain drama embedded in pre-protestant Christian art, but it also radiates an inner peace that I don't see here and want for myself.  

***

This book is available from Taschen.
The Book of Miracles that first surfaced a few years ago and recently made its way into an American private collection is one of the most spectacular new discoveries in the field of Renaissance art. The nearly complete surviving illustrated manuscript, which was created in the Swabian Imperial Free City of Augsburg around 1550, is composed of 169 pages with large-format illustrations in gouache and watercolor depicting wondrous and often eerie celestial phenomena, constellations, conflagrations, and floods as well as other catastrophes and occurrences. It deals with events ranging from the creation of the world and incidents drawn from the Old Testament, ancient tradition, and medieval chronicles to those that took place in the immediate present of the book’s author and, with the illustrations of the visionary Book of Revelation, even includes the future end of the world. 
The surprisingly modern-looking, sometimes hallucinatory illustrations and the cursory descriptions of the Book of Miracles strikingly convey a unique view of the concerns and anxieties of the 16th century, of apocalyptic thinking and eschatological expectation. The present facsimile volume reproduces the Book of Miracles in its entirety for the first time and thus makes one of the most important works of the German Renaissance finally available to art lovers and scholars. The introduction puts the codex in its cultural and historical context, and an extensive description of the manuscript and its miniatures, as well as a complete transcript of the text, accompany the facsimile in an appendix.

Burnt Flesh in Odessa


When the protests in eastern Ukraine began to break out, Secretary of State, John Kerry had this to say,
Russia’s clear and unmistakable involvement in destabilizing and engaging in separatist activities in the east of Ukraine is more than deeply disturbing... No one should be fooled — and believe me, no one is fooled by what could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea.
No one would be silly enough to believe that after a government they elected was overthrown and partly taken over by radicals with a different culture and history, that people in the east could be unhappy with that turn of events and demonstrate their displeasure in the exact same way as the protesters in Kiev who brought the new government to power - creating armed camps and taking over government buildings.

Nah, all the "pro-Russian separatists" and their dog and pony show are nothing more than a "contrived pretext for a military intervention" by Moscow.

Even the term "pro-Russian separatists" has a nice flare to it if you are in the market for a term to easily dismiss a movement because calling them "Russian-speaking anti-government protesters" (which is what most of them are) would grant them a dangerous degree of  political legitimacy. After all, even western countries have anti-government protesters to spare; but none have "pro-Russian separatists" -- a backward and sinister breed to be sure.

Let me state this again. I am not criminally naive and know that Russia is supporting the protests in the east and that this support includes coordination, arms, intelligence, expertise and people flowing over the border.

However, after multiple clashes with government forces resulting in casualties and arrests among the "pro-Russian separatists" all of them have turned out to be Ukrainians. The Kiev government invokes Russian presence in eastern Ukraine constantly but has yet to produce a single detained or killed protester who turned out to be a Ruskie.

That is not to say that Russians aren't present there, I'm 100% sure they are; but the presence of the Russian hand in the protests (no matter how powerful that hand may be) is different from saying that it is the only hand or that it erected the whole protest movement out of thin air. The Kremlin is an investor in the mutiny but its origins are native and strong- it is ultimately a Ukrainian product, homegrown strife with a powerful patron.

As I have noted in my prior post, I am not all too happy about the role Russia is playing in this but no one should be stupid enough to believe that Russia is writing the music of discontent, it did enthusiastically hook up an amplifier because the tune being played serves its interests in the region but you have to be ignorant, stupid or deluded to see Ukraine as a intrinsically untied country pulled apart solely by Russia.

The desire to have close relations to Russia, the animosity toward a revolutionary government that purports to lead Ukraine toward the happy family of European democracies, and even the desire to become a part of Russia are the beliefs that unite the opposition to the Kiev regime but all of those sentiments are so poorly understood and alien to the west that they quickly become politically incorrect and unfathomable- thus a purely Russian concoction designed to mask a united Ukrainian populace leaping toward prosperity and freedom in Europe.

So when the prior "pro-Russian" regime in Kiev faced a protest movement seeking to depose it and using force and occupation of government building to get it done, the west vocally supported it and warned the president that he will be a sanctioned pariah if he moved the army against his unhappy people.

Today, America and EU support the use of the army by the new revolutionary government against the rebelling regions because the people at the receiving end are Russian agents anyway and even if they aren't they occupy a place on the ideological spectrum that is very far removed from what is deemed modern and civilized in Washington or Brussels.

FDR one famously said of some three-bit dictator, "he is a son of a bitch but he is our son of a bitch."

Ukraine is a divided, failed state with different factions fighting for power guided by the law of the jungle as the economy is in free fall, but since this failed state's capital is ideologically aligned with the cherished, western ideals, this capital (Kiev) is supported unconditionally and Russia - which is a relatively successful country when paired next to Ukraine- is condemned because it has an autocratic government that professes different ideals and has an independent foreign policy that periodically turns adversarial toward America and -to a lesser degree- Europe.

The Ukrainian people are expected to be delighted with and support their failed, divided state with its minty fresh revolutionary government because these new rulers are "freedom loving" and Western in their rhetoric and oppose Russia because it is dark and authoritarian. Any protests against this state is nothing more than Russian trickery that as John Kerry has said, "no one is fooled by."

Thus as unstable Ukraine is rolling down the cliff of history, the west fully expects all of her people to put carefree smiles on their grim, Slavic mugs and enjoy the ride because... well, because... ah yes, I remembered... because Europe, prosperity and democracy are on the other side of the bumpy slide down.

I am not very knowledgeable about the history of Ukraine, I wish I knew more, but this much I do know. Ukraine in its present territorial state did not exists until after World War 2, the people who live within its borders never lived together as an independent country until the fall of the Soviet Union. Those in Eastern Ukraine have more in common with Russians (and are indistinguishable from them) than they do with their Ukrainian-speaking compatriots in the west of the country. The two groups in Ukraine are used to living together but aren't used to be ruled by the other group- hence this dysfunctional loop of revolutions and counter-revolutions that the country is facing now.

A major event happened in what tragically looks like the birth of a civil war.

In the Russian-speaking port city of Odessa, a clash between anti-government and pro-government factions resulted in a bloody massacre. The camp of "pro-Russian" protesters was attacked by a mob of Kiev supporters. After a confrontation, the anti-government people retreated into an administrative building. Then the peaceful, pro-Europe faction proceeded to surround the building, prevent people from leaving and set the structure ablaze with Molotov cocktails. Over thirty people burned to death or suffocated from smoke, others leaped to their death from the windows. Some survivors who made it out of the building were kicked and beaten by the mob who saw them as traitors as they crawled around in charcoaled clothes seeking medical help.

For the longest time, the west denied that Russian-speakers face any dangers from the new government or its supporters. Now over thirty burnt corpses provide a counterweight to that assurance. Odessa is far from the Russian border and the anti-government protesters there did not take over any administrative buildings.

To many opponents of the new authorities the darkest Russian propaganda of a new, fascist government willing to violently subjugate them is coming to life. These deaths in Odessa are happening at the same time as the Ukrainian army is planning a major operation against the rebelling regions in the east where villagers are putting up barricades against the advancing forces and pleading and hollering for them to leave them be.  
With each day a Russian invasion in the East looks more and more likely. The hard truth is that Ukraine with its divisions and different regional identities was as much of a social experiment as it was a united country when it emerged independent from Soviet rubble. Today this experiment looks tp be on the verge of collapse. Russia has played its role. But when this revolution began at the end of last year, Russia was not the only foreign player on the track, other's were just putting their money on different horses.

Now the Pandora's box is open and ghosts of history have emerged, flying free, crying their screeching screams.

***

My article on Ukraine got published on another insightful blog with a sizable readership run by a Canadian Russophile named Mark. Aside from hard currency, the gift of readership is one of the best things anyone can give me right now and Mark did; thus I am really grateful to him.