Friday, February 25, 2005

Vladimir German and family

About a month a ago Vladimir German contacted me regarding his April immigration hearing. Vladimir and his family are ethnic Germans from Kazakhstan who have been living in working in the US for over 12 years and speak fluent English. In fact his two kids speak almost no Russian and certainly no Kazakh. Yet, despite obeying the law, working hard and having family in the US, the government has decided it wants to deport them back to Kazakhstan. It claims that conditions have improved now. Of course only somebody in the US government would be stupid enough to think that discrimination against people of German descent has ended in Kazakhstan. How come Jews and Cubans get automatic refugee status and Russian-Germans have to prove that they will be killed to avoid deportation? Today, Vladimir's American cousin, LeAnn Tupper sent me a long article on him in the Union-Bulletin (Walla Walla). I am still waiting for Vladimir's lawyer to call me. She sent me an e-mail saying she would call me a week ago. At anyrate the injustice of the matter is beyond blatant.

Other Blogs

I have been looking at some other blogs recently. They don't seem to look like this one. This blog is really just a diary which has the advantage of being in cyberspace so I do not lose it like I have all the paper ones. Even though other people could read it I am quite sure that no one has. Its content is in essence written for me alone. A lot of other blogs on the other hand are like seminars with multiple participants commenting upon issues in a very civil matter compared to say usenet. They also cross reference each other. I doubt anybody else will ever read my blog, yet alone comment on it, link to it or make reference to it elsewhere. But, then again most people don't do that with paper diary entries of people still alive either.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Why are there so many i tiles in scrabble?

I played Scrabble and actually won for the first time in months today. One recurring complaint everybody seems to have is that the game has nine i tiles. Other than gerunds the letter i does not appear that often in the English language. Since there are only two g tiles I am not sure what the makers of the game were thinking. If English used i to make plurals instead of s it would be okay. But, other than cacti and octopi I can not think of too many plurals in English that use i instead of s.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Applebaum and Soviet nationalities

I saw Anne Applebaum interviewed on tv today. Like her book Gulag: A History (which cites me a number of time) I found her talk almost completely avoiding the issue of nationalities, race, ethnicity or whatever one wishes to call the Soviet legal catagorization of people based upon their biological descent from specific cultural groups. I personally prefer to call a spade a spade and note that since it was inherited at birth, immutable during life and passed automatically to the next generation that nationality in the Soviet parlance is in fact code for race. Instead she merely talked about the total number of people to pass through the Gulag camps and colonies (18-20 million) and the number to die as a result (3 million). While this has the advantage of giving big numbers it is also misleading. This is like talking about the 11 million people murdered by Nazi Germany without ever mentioning that some people such as Jews and Gypsies were far more likely to perish than others. The fact that Russia and Russians do not pay too much attention to the Gulag (a fact lamented by Applebaum) can be better understood when one recognizes that the percentage of Russians killed by Stalin was pretty small. There are no exact figures on this, but Stalin probably murdered about 15 million people of which maybe 3 million were Russians, about 3% of their population.

Contrary to popular belief it was the non-Russian nationalities that bore the brunt of Stalinist terror and they do remember and memorialize the losses. The Ukrainians come in first numerically with about 7 million losses, mostly from the 1932-1933 famine (Holodomor). This represents about 20% of the Ukrainian population or more than six times as great a per-capita loss as the Russians. Among the small nationalities deported in their entirety to special settlements the losses are truly astronomical in percentage terms. The Chechens and Crimean Tatars probably each lost over 30% of their population due to the deadly conditions of exile in special settlements from 1944 to 1948. This is equal in proportional terms to Hitler's reduction of the world's Jewish population. Almost every Chechen knows what happened on 23 February 1944 and virtually every Crimean Tatar can recite the story of 18 May 1944, even three generations after these horrific events.

To give a total number of Stalin's victims without a breakdown by nationality and then to infer that most of them were Russian is not only inaccurate it allows the Russians to avoid responsibility for their role in the Soviet state. It would be as I mentioned above like referring to 11 million victims of Nazi terror with no reference to Jews and Gypsies and then compounding matters by giving the impression that most of the 11 million were Germans. Such manipulation would clearly be seen as Holocaust denial. I am not sure why otherwise bright people who are clearly critical of Stalin can not understand this.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Back to blogging

After a long break from blogging I have decided to return. In the meantime I got my Ph.D. from SOAS (U. of London) and returned to the US. I have since participated in one academic workshop in DC and one conference in Tartu Estonia both of which will result in books. I still have to revise my chapters, but they have been added to my evergrowing (now 3 pages) list of publications. I also submitted one journal article and one book review that will be published later this year. My dissertation got one book offer from a US publisher which I had to turn down because the contract was so lousy and is still being considered by three UK publishers. I hope to be able to add it to my list of publications soon. The job search has not gone so well. I am convinced that almost all these things are fixed. That is there is no actual search. Instead they choose the person they want for the job and only advertise it because they are required to do so by law. So I will probably end up going back to work for minimum wage making sandwiches and coffee even though I have more academic publications than most tenured faculty.