New Header: Take Me Back to My Sea-side Shack

One of my weirder, recurrent fantasies is to live in a small primitive house at the edge of the sea. I have no idea where it comes from but it’s idea that has a strong pull on my imagination. The new header is a row of fishing(?) shacks on the edge of the Grand Harbour of Valletta in Malta. The whole picture is here:



The dwelling at the top with the blue door is very close to my absolute dreamhouse… Oddly as long as I have my seaside shack I don’t care about whether it’s kind of isolated or, as is the case here, in the middle of big port.



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The Future: More Alienation or New Self-Defeat and Disappointment

No political paradigm lasts forever (the lifespan seems to be 40 years give or take a little) and Neoliberalism has worn out its welcome.

Looking at elections in the US and Europe the trend is pretty clear. Voters are sick of the Neoliberal consensus and politicians who’ve signed on to that in any form are either losing elections or holding on with their fingernails. Voter enthusiasm (as opposed to just barely tolerance) has been generated by populists and nationalists. It seems reasonable to expect that the next political paradigm in the US and Europe will be a combination of some kind of economic populism or political nationalism with different local emphasis.

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The past and one version of the future….

Every political paradigm carries within it the seeds of its own destruction and its easy to see the internal contradictions in populism and nationalism. Populists have to make promises that they cannot fill which leads to disappointment at best and overpowering cynicism at worst. Nationalists can only function in opposition to some internal or external Other and once it wins tends to peter out…

On the other hand, Neoliberalism leads to alienation and nihilism and sterility even among those who are most successful. It has no internal narrative for self improvement and tends to destroy other narratives (like religion). So those are the alternatives, continue down the Neoliberal path despite the social and personal costs or try something new that will be disappointing in a new way.

Sometimes the choices are just not that wonderful…



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What I’ve Been Watching: Czech Rust Belt Dysfunction Edition

I just finished the Czech series Pustina (Wasteland) and am completely blown away. Set in an unloveley area of the Czech Republic close to the border with Poland it is about a village whose economic base has collapsed and the adults have degenerated into shabby poverty, stewing in resentment and long-running petty feuds and have no idea what their children are up to (drugs mostly, there is an ongoing meth epidemic in that part of the Czech Republic).

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania pustkowie poprawczak

A Polish strip mining company wants to buy out the residents and raze the village for the coal underneath and many residents would like nothing better than a cash payout and a new start somewhere else, even if only a few kilometers away in a slightly less decayed town. The main opponent of the company is the mayor, Hana Sikorov√° who wants to preserve the local way of life.

On the day the local council is to vote on whether to have a referendum on selling out to the company or not the mayor’s younger daughter disappears.

The rest of the series is about finding those responsible and is probably the most devastating TV series I’ve ever seen (and makes True Detective look like a sitcom). I’ll definitely write more about this, but for now run out and see this. See this.

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A Migration Non-Crisis

Migration by Ukrainians to Poland to work was slow to arrive where I live. Despite being one of the wealthier and historically better run large cities in Poland, since the end of communism it hasn’t been among the first places migrants show up in whether Vietnamese in the 1990s and early 2000s or Ukrainians starting a few years ago. But the Ukrainian movement is so large now that it’s become very visible and audible here too.


Bulletin board in Warsaw

I was seeing off a visitor at the bus station a few days ago and noticed that there are at least ten buses every day arriving and departing to Ukraine (and apparently an air connection or two as well) and there were several on the bus the person I was with was taking as well (headed generally East).

A few days later, on Corpus Christi I took a walk in the city’s botanical garden with a friend. It was unusually hot for the end of May and there weren’t as many people as would normally be there but two thirds or more of the other people there could be heard speaking Russian or Ukrainian (or some mix thereof).

“Are we being colonized?” my friend asked jokingly.

I mentioned that when I go for walks on Sunday the presence of Ukrainians is a lot more salient than on other days (that is they make up a higher percentage of those out and about).

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A sign of the times. The largest grocery chain in Poland (owned by a Portuguese company) is recruiting in Ukrainian.

“Well, most are just here to work and living in rented rooms or hostels” I explained “When they have free time they’re more likely to want to go out instead of sitting around at home like Poles do.”

We talked a little then about how many might end up staying versus going back. The conventional wisdom is that most will eventually return to Ukraine (or maybe head further west) but no one is concerned about how many might end up staying (except for a few idiots here and there). This is of course because of the general linguistic and cultural compatibility. There are some problems of adaptation but they’re not hard to overcome. What’s surprising isn’t that there is some tension. Wha’ts surprising is that there so little and that it’s so… tractable.

“I guess most will go back” he ¬†said at the bus stop after we’d left. A young couple speaking Russian was also waiting. She had a mouth full of new dental work and they had a baby in a carriage and a small dog in tow.

“But I think some of them aren’t going anywhere” I said.

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Pictures of My Food: Polish Young Cabbage Edition

This is a one dish dinner from Eastern Poland. It’s made with young cabbage (mature cabbage doesn’t have the right taste or texture) and like much of traditional Polish food is very seasonal. It’s pretty easy to make. I’ve never been able to find a name for it beyond kapusta (cabbage).


It’s late spring, time for young vegetables (as unhealthy as possible, please)

Cut out the heart of one (or two if they’re small) young cabbage and cut the rest into strips about an inch wide and two inches long (more or less). Put in a large pot with some water and bring to boil (and/or pour some boiling water over it) and let sit a few minutes. The idea is to blanch it without overcooking it. Then drain.

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Bacon, found in its natural environment

In another large pot boil vegetables and herbs (carrots, onions, maybe parsenips, parsley, green onion bulbs and dill, salt and pepper) with a large slab of uncured bacon cut into one inch cubes (or raw short ribs). Cook on low heat until the bacon is soft. Add citric acid to taste (I like it sour as fuck). Pour the broth over the drained cabbage and stir around. Turn off the heat and let it sit a while.

To serve add sour cream to the top (the more the merrier) and sprinkle fresh parsely, dill and green onions on top. The bread shouldn’t be any darker than in the picture.

Leftovers will stay a few days in the fridge. I usually add flour or potato starch to the leftovers and have it as a side dish or with boiled potatoes as a one dish dinner. In health terms it’s a mixed bag (you can make it healthier with leaner meat or unhealthier with chunks of smoked lard at the end).

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Twitter, Rosanne and Reliving Trauma

Actors and actresses (or any kind of performers) have never been known for their down to Earth good sense and anyone expecting any kind of coherent political guidance from them (or who thinks they can or should be public political role models) is a dangerous idiot. That’s one reason why when an actress posted something dumb on a social media site so many (hope) otherwise normal people thought it was actually meaningful and it turned into a major political story.

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania porcupine sex

If the twitter mob ever comes for me they can do this.

Her twit was dumb but not worth one millionth the attention it got. It wasn’t even a sentence and people are treating it as if she’d drawn up a blueprint for genocide.

Part of me thinks that part of the reaction is people reliving the 2016 shock loss (to them) of Hillary Clinton. It’s clear that became a major point of personal (maybe collective) trauma for people and as sometimes happens with people in the grip of trauma is they want to rerun the incident with the ‘right’ outcome in hopes of being able to move on (this is my theory based on examples I’ve observed and participated in). Destroying Roseanne’s career became a way of turning Trump’s victory into the defeat they think he deserves.

It also has once more made clear that apologizing to any social media mob is pointless. I don’t think I’ll ever be the object of a social media storm but if I am there is no way on Earth I would ever give the idiots stirring things up the satisfaction of being able to reject my apology. “I stand by what I said and if you don’t like it you can go fuck a porcupine! You depraved idiots!”. It wouldn’t help but it wouldn’t hurt and would be a lot more satisfying.

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What I’ve Been Watching: Nazi Marriage Manual Edition

I’ve just started the second season of the Man in the High Castle and I’m not sure what to think. There’s lots of interesting stuff but we don’t get much about Nazi America since most of it is in the Japanese controlled West Coast and the parts in the the US of Nazis are mostly around Nazi headquarters.

Talking with a friend, we both agreed that if we had to choose, we’d choose to live in the Japanese sector because things seem a littler looser around the edges there but that might be selection bias and given their penchant for mass graves not exactly fun.

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Nazi Father Knows Best and his trusty helpmeet

Somewhere around halfway through the first season I realized one of the most interesting characters is Helen Smith (played by Chelah Horsdal who I’m really going to be looking out for now) the wife of the head Nazi (Rufus Sewell’s best role… ever) and around two thirds through the first reason I realized it’s because she and her husband have the healthiest relationship in the show (maybe the only healthy relationship). They respect and trust each other totally and they’re both pretty sanguine about the risks of being a high level Nazi in times of coming turmoil.

At one point he tells would be spy Joe that he trusts her with his life and it’s the most honest thing he’s ever said. On the one hand, that has its moral traps as it soon becomes apparent her graciousness toward Joe had been part of a plan to trap him and put him at her husband’s mercy, but she’s so good at it that you’re left wondering until the last second.

Meanwhile protagonist Juliana Crain is a mess, emotionally unfaithful to her intensely annoying boyfriend (my least favorite character who goes about everything in the least effective way possible setting off landmines for the other characters but not much better in her dysfunctional love/hate relationship with Joe.

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The couple with the worst instincts… ever, they should star as themselves in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

At this point the Smiths have a perfect 1950s marriage (nostalgia version) so I’m sure it won’t last. You things don’t set up a perfect couple unless you’re going to test them severely or set them against each other. And I think that maybe they don’t intend the relationship to be so positive but at this stage it’s about the healthiest marriage on TV…

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