• The West in The Soviet Caricature: Israel

    Yes, I know Israel is not in the West, but, as you will see below, hardly any caricature from the Soviet satirical magazine Krokodil depicting Israel went without bringing the United States into the picture. Having a lot of Jewish friends and/or people who know my email address, I frequently receive emails and links to various examples of anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda being published around the world; recently started Advocacy KC Israel page is keeping me updated on the latest creations of that nature. However, all the newly-minted humorists should stand back in awe and acknowledge the original and still unsurpassed masters of the anti-Israel humor – the Soviet caricaturists and satirists.

    While looking through the images below, published in the late 1960’s – early 1970’s, keep in mind that they express the official position of the Soviet Government. All the press, including Krokodil, was state-owned and 100% censored and vetted by the appropriate branches of the Government and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Frequently the subject of the next outburst of humor was directly dictated by the ideology departments on various levels. What makes these cartoons even more sinister is that at the same time when they were published the USSR was thinking up, creating, financing and arming the PLO and Yasser Arafat. As an aside, recently when I mentioned this in an argument I was told that this is my personal opinion, however, multiple authentic documents (in Russian) exist, clearly demonstrating the Soviet overt and covert support of the PLO’s terrorist activities.

    With that in mind, take a look at these images, most of which are probably shown in the West for the first time.

    Hide and Seek. New York Police pretends not to be able to find the Zionist perpetrators of the provocations against the Soviet establishments and citizens. 1976.

    Continue reading →

  • Old Photos: Art Conquers Attica, KS

    A recent post on Kansas Travel and my own visit to a gallery this week, where I was chastised by my daughter for not understanding art, reminded me that I had this set of photos from 1955 bookmarked for a long time.

    It’s no Paris, but a tiny Kansas farm town grows its own crop of painters.

    Up to now Attica, Kan., for all its classical name, could pass for any other tiny town in the wheatlands – a slowdown point on a rural highway leading to Wichita. But today traffic through Attica not only slows down but stops and looks. Encamped with palettes and drawing boards on the sidewalks, along the railroad, in the wheatfields are painters – singly or in bunches – recording the surroundings with the earnest concentration of Paris professionals. The painters are members of the Artists Guild of Attica, a burgeoning group that in course of three years had made the town of 622 people aware, curious and eager about art. Continue reading →

  • Foodies

    Once in a while I see a car with a KS license plate with the word “foodie” on it. It reminds me of another self-important branch of the “social media” – people who are obsessed with name-dropping, over-hyping restaurants and overusing the word “chef“. Today I was listening to Charles Ferruzza on Walt Bodine show discuss food critics and foodies. As an aside, I think they can record Walt’s occasional quips and just push the right buttons at the right time. Charles clarified his position in his reply to my comment (which I immediately printed out and framed):

    I don’t necessarily dislike them (foodies), I just don’t want to BE one. (Not that they would want me, anyway — my taste is far too vulgar).

    I have to agree – I just like to eat, I don’t really care what the name of the chef is, or is it even a real chef and not some guy with a grill or a skillet. I was going to do a whole write-up on why I don’t really care for foodies but my feelings were expressed 0n the 21st second of the following clip.

    Krod Mandoon Thurs Apr 9, 10p/9c
    Preview – The Foodie
    Matt Lucas Kevin Hart Sean Mcguire

    To round off the food theme please enjoy these (not altered) photos of the promotional calendar for a local Chinese restaurant with unorthodox choice of photographs.

  • Old Photos: Winter In Moscow In Color

    Since my previous post on the subject I’ve found a few more photos of winter in Moscow. Sadly, no Russian bears got into the photographer’s viewfinder, but rest assured, the bears are there, probably in hiding or something.

    © Time Inc. Carl Mydans

    Continue reading →

  • Our Answer To China

    Since the beginning of the school year my kid has spent a large part of her spare time participating in the First Robotics team. At first I was skeptical, since  I generally despise all after-school activities, clubs, girl- and boy-scouts and youth sports. But gradually, seeing my kid’s enthusiasm and her inexplicable desire to stay in school for 14 hours on some days, I thought that there may be something to this and it couldn’t be any worse than cheerleading. My work schedule and general laziness kept me from stopping by and checking on the progress of the robot the kids were building, but I had a chance to see an almost ready robot few days before it was shipped to Chicago for the upcoming regional completion.

    This was one of the many times when I felt ancient. I thought about my technology-free childhood while staring in amazement at what the kids have built. I am pretty sure the first space station was launched with less processing power than this robot uses to shoot basketballs and drive around the obstacles, and that power is controlled by a group of 15-18- year old kids with joysticks. Many different skills are needed on the team  – from production, to electric design, to programming, to creative and technical writing, to safety, graphic design, team management and fundraising. Instructors and mentors practice hands-off  approach and let the kids take complete control.

    These are the kids who will be this country’s answer to China and others who are rapidly moving ahead in the science and engineering fields. These are the kids who will take this country to the future, not you soccer and baseball-playing children, not competitive swimmers, and definitely not your cheerleaders, unless they are also doing this. Few people  remain baseball players into their adult life and even fewer find employment as cheerleaders. And while these activities are not without a benefit (whatever it is), they are completely irrelevant to the long-term future of this country, its position on the world technology stage, its prosperity and self-respect.

    I had a chance to visit a First Robotics Regional which was conducted in Kansas City over the weekend. Several things there impressed me and managed to wipe out most of my usual cynicism. The sheer number of participants who traveled from 9 states to take part in the Regionals was beyond anything I expected going in. Most of the kids didn’t look like the characters from the the Revenge of The Nerds. The level of excitement rivaled any sport event. The level of creativity, both visual and technical was impressive. There was a large number of handicapped kids and not fake ones like they have on Glee. There were probably equal numbers of girls and boys. There were plenty of involved parents, mentoring, helping and cheering.

    This wasn’t the first time my kid picked something the impressed me over my reservations and general whining. What I saw in the Arena made me feel good about the future.

    Next year I might even write a fundraising letter or two.

    Now for the visual part of this post. First, a short video to give you an idea of what the teams are trying to accomplish.

    Continue reading →