Russia – Red Square, Moscow

I remember the days of watching Soviet military parades on the evening news. The route always went through Red Square and I grew up thinking that the square was so named because of the connection between communism and the colour red. I could not have been more wrong. In Russian, the name Red Square translates to “Beautiful Square” and the place is indeed very beautiful. The entire square has a fairy tale feel about it and is entirely majestic. It is bordered on all 4 sides by iconic Russian buildings erected during the Imperial days of the country. The building that everyone is the most familiar with is St. Basil’s Cathedral, built in 1552 by Ivan The Terrible. Its candy coloured onion domes are emblematic of Russia herself.

St.Basil's Cathedral

St.Basil’s Cathedral

Directly across from St. Basil’s is the Russian State Historical Museum. It was built in the late 1800’s especially to house over 4 million state treasures ranging from fossils to fine gems and everything in between.

Russian State Museum

Russian State Museum

Beside the sate museum resides the Upper Trade Rows, better known as the GUM department complex. It is known for its glazed roofs, interior bridges, fountains and galleries. Today it houses the finest of designer stores and is very exclusive.

GUM Department store

GUM Department store

Interior, GUM department store

Interior, GUM department store

Finally, the last side of the square is occupied by the fort wall of the Kremlin.

Kremlin with Lenin's tomb

Kremlin with Lenin’s tomb

In this photo you see Lenin’s tomb in the foreground, then the central nexus of the Kremlin Fort wall and finally one of the main buildings of the Kremlin in the the background. Lenin’s body is still on display and open to visitors everyday except Sunday, which is, of course, the day we were there.

Sunday Facepalm.

Brian Brown, head of NOM (National Organization of Marriage), has been opining over how much he can really, truly feel like Jesus, because all those horrible people who are okay with same sex marriage. Something of a pity I haven’t noticed Mr. Brown hanging from a crucifix lately. Here’s just a bit of his latest screed, and probably the bit which annoys me most:

I can’t help but feel the parallels between what happened during Christ’s time on earth and some of our own experiences in recent times, including in the struggle to preserve, protect and promote marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

We’ve seen marriage be considered invincible one day, and then in a blink of an eye seen it redefined and defiled. We’ve seen the principle of traditional marriage be betrayed by people who swore to voters they would protect it. We’ve seen some people abandon the fight, whether out of fear or seeing many who remained vigilant punished and persecuted. And we’ve seen constitutionally-guaranteed rights such as the right to religious liberty be superseded by invented concepts that not only are not rights, they also are not right.

It can be disheartening at times, but we at NOM have not lost faith. You see, we’ve read the book and we know who wins in the end. We also know that the truth of marriage is universal and timeless, written on the human heart by our Creator at the beginning of time. Marriage cannot be changed, and the truth of marriage cannot be redefined or eradicated.

Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. That’s what the thing is, always has been and always will be. It is a profound good, and the most important human relationship ever created. It’s the basis of families, and the foundation for raising children.

I know that true marriage will rise again. I think it will happen fairly soon, because it’s impossible to maintain the lie of same-sex ‘marriage’ forever. But whether it takes two years or two decades, NOM is determined to fight every day for the truth of marriage and for the good that it provides for families and children.

BlahblahblahBiblicalMarriageblahblahblahTrueMarriageblahblahbleagh. Oh, the “truth” of marriage! These fucking idiots constantly claim to have read “the book”. I actually have read the damn book, and the whole “one man one woman” crap is not apparent in the Old Testament. It doesn’t have a firm hold on the new one, either, although it was getting there. If there was a god named Jehovah, and it did have firm ideas about marriage, then those ideas should have made the OT law, right? And in the NT, Jesus declared he was there to uphold the (OT) law. So…none of that happened.

What did happen is the same thing you see over and over throughout human history, societal mores change over generations. And over the generations of those who made up the bad stories which comprise the bible, societal shifts towards marriage appeared. No magic required, just people. The bible is also full of rape, incest, and vicious executions of (female) prostitutes. Ol’ Jehovah doesn’t seem to get overly disturbed by such, most of it being its idea in the first place. Jesus didn’t have much to say about that either, except in a couple specific cases. Brian Brown is engaging in cherry picking, bad picking at that, all because he has a bad case of the ickies.

It’s abundantly clear that marriage can be changed, it has been changed, and it changed and changed again within “the book” too. Naturally, the nonsense Brown pushes has absolutely nothing to do with just how marriage is perceived and done all over the world. All he cares about is where he lives, which is Amerikka, and as far as he’s concerned, Amerikka should be run according to at least one version of the bible. Unfortunately for him, the so-called truth of marriage can’t be found in there either. It’s whatever we make it to be.

You can read the full story at RWW.

Behind the Iron Curtain Part 2 – Education

These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtain. I do not aim to give perfect and objective evaluation of anything, but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.


I was born towards the end of summer, which effectively means I was almost a year younger than many of other kids who were supposed to go to school that year. This has led to concerns whether I will be mentally mature enough to cope so I was brought in for preliminary evaluation in the spring prior to my first school year. I do not remember almost anything of it, only that it was a pleasant conversation with some old lady whom I did not know.

After I was deemed eligible, the education started. It was pretty normal as an education anywhere else at that time. Children sitting in rows in cheap, uncomfortable chairs behind small tables. Teacher standing in front of the class talking. Don’t talk unless asked, raise your hand if you want to say something or ask.

The regime had somewhat ambiguous attitude to education. On one hand it has recognized that knowledge is empowering and completely ignorant and uneducated populace is useless. Therefore eight years of elementary school were compulsory and the regime took pride in nearly universal literacy and numeracy.

On the other hand it has also recognized that educated and well-informed people are harder to control because they have that unpredictable tendency to be critical of the information presented to them and reach their own conclusion. which has proven correct, since the velvet revolution was initiated by massive student protests.

So the higher education was theoretically available to anyone who was capable, but there were caveats that had nothing to do with capability and everything to do with how much one was perceived to be a threat.

Ever since childhood I was recognized as a university material. I was top of the class and despite year-long health problems that impeded me significantly for a few years I did not need to repeat classes. My father was a member of the communist party and of Peoples Militia, and he was working class. This was considered a good thing in my yearly evaluations and was always mentioned together with my good notes. However one of my uncles was a political dissident who has emigrated to USA and was in the employ of US government. This was considered a bad thing although I was never told this and I only learned about this later on. Further, by a twist of destiny, my father, the communist, was the only one from the family who remained on good terms with his dissident brother. So there was always a big question mark about my future education and whether I will be allowed to pursue either my love of science or my passion for painting.

The regime seems to have had some sort of poorly thought out and poorly formulated concept of hereditary sin. Children and even grandchildren of aristocrats or bourgeois or anyone really even remotely related to dissidents were treated as a threat and were put under close scrutiny. As I grew older I learned about this and I have tried to understand it but I never did. It did not make any logical sense to deny someone higher education just because their grandfather was a bourgeois factory owner. They are not factory owner, they live in this wonderful socialist country where everyone is equal just like everyone else. They did not do anything wrong, their grandfather did. Where is the logic in this?

That way I learned there is another iron curtain in addition to the corporeal one in the forests. An invisible social barrier creating a tangled maze nearly impossible to navigate, because the rules were never clear and were subject to the whims of the powers that be. There was only one sure way to higher education, and that was being a relative of a high party affiliate. Everyone else could be denied for reasons they will never fully learn.

Luckily for me when I was a the end of elementary school, the regime fell and the Iron Curtain was torn down. And with it fell the artificial barriers that might prevent me from getting adequate education. There were other barriers still and new ones emerged, but that is a different story.

G Is For Gammal.

Gammal.

Gammal is Swedish for old. The museum tram was made 1909 by the Swedish company ASEA and the open trailer is from 1919 and made by a shipbuilding company in Helsinki. Both have been restored in Estonia. There are museum tram rides on Sundays in the summer, starting from this place, in the Market Square.

The tram was taken out of service in 1957 and the trailer in 1952. The tram model is called pikkuruotsalainen, little Swede, as it’s quite a small two-axle tram.

Click for full size!

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