Behind the Iron Curtain part 17 – Advertisements

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.


For today I had to pick a theme that is really, really short.

And there really is not much to say about this, astounding as it might sound in today’s time. Nowadays commercial advertisements are everywhere – not only on TV and in magazines, but in newspapers, on billboards along the roads, on buildings and, of course, on the internet. And from what I gather, they were very common in the West in the past too, minus the internet.

However behind the Iron Curtain, commercial advertisements were very nearly unknown. The only place I remember ever seeing them was on TV between the programs – but never in the programs. Such a thing as an advertisement in the middle of a movie or a tv-series episode was unheard of.

Another typical feature of the advertisements that I remember was that they were product-oriented, not brand oriented. Since all brands were state-owned, and all production was centrally planned, there were no brands that would compete to sell the same product. Further the advertisements were so dull, that I only remember a single one – for milk. A glass of milk stood on a table, a man walks up to it, drinks it, and puts the empty glass back to a background of singing chorus “For your beauty and your health. What? Of course milk, milk, milk!”

Where I live we did pick up West German TV, so we knew that things look differently over there, but not knowing German, we did not know how different they are and what lies in store for us. This is one of the rare instances when I think that the “good ol’ times” actually were, you know, good.

Behind the Iron Curtain part 16 – Languages

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.


In Czech we have a saying – how many languages you know is how many times you are a human. As a grown man I do appreciate the wisdom of this saying, since language barriers are difficult to breach and in combination with other things they do lead to a lot of nasty stuff. It is for example very easy to other people whose language you do not understand and with whom you therefore cannot effectively communicate. Even with all other barriers removed, language barrier in itself can be insurmountable obstacle. And when you can and do speak with people, all other differences tend to fade away.

As a child, I did not appreciate the saying at all. My parents were trying to get me to learn German from early age, but since they are not the pushy type and I was not too receptive, it did not work out. Later at school from age 10 Russian language was compulsory. But there we hit the snag of not only another language, but another alphabet as well – for me it was difficult enough to learn writing in one alphabet and sure enough, another one was difficult even more and soon I started to write fluently but illegibly in Azbuka as well.

I do not remember whether the explanation as to why we must learn Russian was given to us as a matter of course or whether someone asked, but it was given to us nevertheless. It was argued that it is useful to know at least one widely distributed language so one can communicate with more people. And that most widely distributed languages are English, Spanish and Russian, because USSR covers one eight of inhabitable land and Russian is spoken in all other countries of the Warsaw Pact, covering most of Europe and Asia, therefore Russian is the most useful language for us of them all. Q.E.D.

You probably have spotted already the flaw in that argument, as did I – the area of inhabited land is not as important as the amount of actual people with whom you can speak using given language. But lacking further data, I have not questioned the wisdom of this and I thought that it is a valid argument at the time. So I plodded on with difficulties trying to learn Russian, torturing my teacher in turn as much as she tortured me.

However it did not take long to learn how untrue this argument is in real life. It started when I saw how difficult it was for children to get help with homework in Russian language. Nobody could read it and nobody understood it much, despite the fact that they all learned it in school. That way I learned that actual use of Russian among ordinary people was so minimal that most of them forgot most of it as soon as they left the school. Second observation was when I was at a summer camp in German Democratic Republic. We were allowed to have some pocket-money and to do some shopping. Hooray! We are in a foreign country, but people here learned Russian in school, therefore we will be able to communicate with them! And to this day I remember the totally blank expression of a quite young shopkeeper when I told her that I would like to buy that aeroplane model of – (I forgot the exact type) and I had to resort to pointing and grunting instead. Huh, so much for that argument then.

By the time my elementary school education was nearing its end, I was convinced of two things – first was that I am hopeless at learning other languages and I hate it. Second was that learning foreign languages is nearly useless.

For the second conviction I actually had some solid data at the time – the Iron Curtain was an effective barrier going anywhere west of my home, making any need to understand people living there moot. And from experience I knew that even if I manage to get to some of the other eastern countries, Russian will be of nearly zero use.

To this day my generation and those older are still the least language-savvy generations in our country. And the country as a whole has therefore still abysmal proficiency in other languages, as well as in many other former east bloc countries. The Iron Curtain persists in this form, still fostering xenophobia and bigotry. A reminder that a regime change is not enough.

Voracious Lapse

Kreator has sent us another Roman Cura mural, this one titled Voracious Lapse. I love this artist’s work. He has such an eye for the dangerous undercurrents in society and an unflinching ability to convey fear and loathing in bright happy colours and cartoonish shapes. Kreator tells us:

A small one. Located in the wall of the Luis Yllana canteen from the National University of Patagonia San Juan Bosco.

Thanks for sharing Kreator.

Voracious Lapse by Roman Cura (left), ©Kreator, all rights reserved

Voracious Lapse by Roman Cura (right), ©Kreator, all rights reserved

Behind the Iron Curtain part 14 – Greyness

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.


Coincidentally my mother mentioned to me that she overheard some talk about people who emigrated from here before the fall of the Iron Curtain, and this year was the first time they visited since then. Allegedly they were speechless when they saw the town.

I find it totally believable, because independently from this I was just thinking about the same – how much the country has changed, visibly, for the better since then. Because if there is one overwhelming association that I have with the “good old times” as some people insist calling them, it is an overwhelming sense of dullness, and not because we mostly have black and white photographs and movies from that era.

Today people are used to simply go and buy things they need. Want to plant flowers in your front yard? Well, you can buy them! Want to paint house bright yellow? Well, buy the paint! That was not always the case. I have already mentioned the scarcity of even some basic goods. And those that were available, were often (not always) of questionable quality, because high quality goods were exported to the west so the regime can actually make some money to run itself.

So most buildings were grey on the outside, no matter whether public or private. Not that it was always intended to be grey – privately people did sometimes at least whitewash the walls, and public buildings occasionally had some not very bright pigmentation in the plaster. But no matter what one did, in a few years time it has turned grey-ish due to the ever-present air pollution and dust. So many people, and most of public projects, did not bother and the favourite finish for facades became so-called brizolit, cheap, durable, low-maintenance and, above all, dull and grey.

Private house owners did what they could at least with the gardens – sometimes. It took real dedication for years to build, for example, rock garden, like one of my aunts had. But even the flowers could not fight against dirt and their bright colours did not last for more than a few days at best. And getting new varieties or replacing dead plants required connections, because, you guessed it, you could not simply go and buy a rhododendron to plant whenever the fancy took you, even if you had the money.

So only houses of those really well-off, well connected, those unscrupulous and those extremely dedicated looked somewhat-fancy at least some of the time.

However as a child I did not know anything else, so I thought this is how it is supposed to be. This is normal. It was only much later, shortly after the Iron Curtain fell, when I had an opportunity to cross the border to Germany and visit the town where I now work. The contrast was incredible. Every garden neatly kept, mostly with at least some decorative shrubbery and a patch of flowers. Facades also well maintained, brightly painted, with whites white, greens green and reds red. Even the macadam streets looked cleaner and it is hard for a road to look clean.

The Iron curtain has really managed only to make the whole country look poor and rather mediocre at its best. The black and white photographs are sometimes actualy an improvement over the real thing.

League Of The South Goes Russian.

Michael Hill speaks with a WWLTV reporter at Confederate monuments rally (Image from WWLTV May 17, 2017 broadcast). Source.

Unsurprisingly, League of the South is attempting to mate with Russia, home of, and saviour of white people. There’s a whole lot to the article, just a bit here.

Amid the controversy over President Trump’s recent summit with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, the neo-Confederate League of the South announced this week that it will soon be introducing a Russian language section to its website.“To our Russian friends,” a missive on the League’s website, is signed by Michael Hill, the group’s president. An excerpt:

We understand that the Russian people and Southerners are natural allies in blood, culture, and religion. As fellow Whites of northern European extraction, we come from the same general gene pool. As inheritors of the European cultural tradition, we share similar values, customs, and ways of life. And as Christians, we worship the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and our common faith binds us as brothers and sisters.

We Southerners believe in societies based on real, organic factors such as shared blood, culture, and religion, and all that stems naturally from these salient factors in the human experience. As fellow White Christians who are grounded in the sublime traditions of our common European cultural heritage, we believe that the Russian people and the Southern people are natural allies against the destructive and impersonal impulses of globalism.

Religion is organic? Huh. As for these “sublime traditions”, c’mon, let’s hear about some of them. Any of them. Provide some details on all this sublimeness. Interestingly enough, the first definition of ¹Sublime is: to cause to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state and condense back to solid form. If one uses that particular definition, yeah, I can buy the sublime tradition nonsense.

Mr. Hill teaches that the defeat of Nazi Germany was “an unmitigated disaster for Western Christian civilization.” I don’t know who taught Mr. Hill about World War II, but they should be smacked.

Alt-Right leaders and white nationalists adore Russia’s Vladimir Putin, much as American Religious Right leaders do. As Casey Michel noted in a RWW report last year, Richard Spencer has called Russia the “most powerful white power in the world.” Matthew Heimbach, leader of the now-disbanded white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party, called Putin “the leader of the free world.” Former KKK leader David Duke, who was a speaker at this year’s League of the South conference, has said he believes Russia holds the “key to white survival.”

Putin has supported right-wing nationalist movements across Europe. In 2015, Jared Taylor, the American proponent of “race realism,”  took part in a conference in St. Petersburg that gathered activists from Europe’s far right. There Taylor declared the United States “the greatest enemy of tradition everywhere.” Also in attendance was former KKK lawyer Sam Dickson, who praised Putin’s efforts to preserve “[the white] race and civilization.”

I can’t figure out why all these wannabe nazis don’t just run off to Russia. They’d be happy, and we’d all be better off without them.

RWW has the full story.

Good Trolling.

After the ever idiotic Tiny Tyrant declared the EU to be the greatest foe of Amerikka, Merriam Webster jumped in with an excellent troll:

Let’s have a look at that full definition, shall we:

Definition of foe

1: one who has personal enmity for another

<Embrace, embrace, my Sons! be foes no more! —Alexander Pope>

2 a: an enemy in war b: adversary, opponent: a political foe

3: one who opposes on principle: a foe of needless expenditures, a foe of censorship

4: something prejudicial or injurious

Examples of foe in a Sentence:

Many considered him a foe of democracy.

Good one, Merriam & Webster! The tweet is here, the full definition here.

Sunday Facepalm: Demon-strations.

A print from Bernard de Montfaucon's L'antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures (Band 2,2 page 358 ff plaque 144) with different images of Abraxas.

A print from Bernard de Montfaucon’s L’antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures (Band 2,2 page 358 ff plaque 144) with different images of Abraxas. Source.

Abraxas (Abrasax) is an interesting character, across cultures, a god, an archon, an aeon, then deemed a pagan god by the catholic church and promptly downgraded to a demon. Tsk. The image above is different kinds of Abraxas Stones, which were quite common. Unfortunately, the idiots under discussion today are not nearly as interesting.  It’s Dr. Bill again, and wannabe prophet Mark Taylor. They are both exceptionally nasty people, but Mr. Taylor does have a ways to go before reaching the open malice and hatred of Dr. Bill.  Mr. Taylor seems very open to being swayed by whoever is in front of him at the moment, and if he keeps hangin’ with Dr. Bill, I expect it won’t be long before the viciousness level is up.

“Individuals like Peter Strzok and Hillary Clinton, these are people of clay and iron,” Deagle said. “Clay being human flesh and iron being the trans-dimensional energy that is inside of them. They’re being avatared like a video game … These are not just normal human beings—your brothers and sisters—these are your brothers and sisters who are totally taken over by evil.”

“These people are not human,” Taylor agreed.

“These people like Peter Strzok,” Deagle responded, “when I saw him screwing up his face and leaning forward and making his eyes look really dark, I’m thinking, ‘Ooh, we’re not hearing a person talk, we’re hearing a demonic entity talk through his mouth.’ It’s disgusting.”

Odd, I feel disgust just reading your words, Mr. Deagle. So, Dr. Bill declares “he has an amazing “spiritual gift” that allows him identify “the names of the succubi and incubi inside Peter Strzok” just by looking at him.” Right. I’ll invite people to stare at your face and make up shit about what’s inside you, Dr. Bill.

It’s not easy finding a current, good shot of Dr. Bill. He seems to dislike facing straight on, and uses old photos on his website. It seems Dr. Bill is in love with his younger profile. I can’t say I see demons, because they don’t exist. There’s definitely a high shit content, but you can’t get that from a face. It’s an old belief, thinking you can tell everything by looking at someone’s face and head, but it was idiocy then, and it’s idiocy now. Unfortunately, it’s in vogue once again. Can’t say I think much of that “amazing spiritual gift”, you just see what you want to see, and whatever fits your lunatic narrative.

“Individuals like Peter Strzok and Hillary Clinton, these are people of clay and iron,” Deagel said. “Clay being human flesh and iron being the trans-dimensional energy that is inside of them. They’re being avatared like a video game … These are not just normal human beings—your brothers and sisters—these are your bothers and sisters who are totally taken over by evil.”

“These people are not human,” Taylor agreed.

Gotta say, I love the sideways shift from devil to aliens (or trans-dimensional energy) so many lunatic asshole christians are now embracing. They are just so damn desperate to come across and up to date and relevant.

As for not being human, Esme Weatherwax once stated that thinking of people as things was start of all evil, and I agree:

“…And that’s what your holy men discuss, is it?” [asked Granny Weatherwax.]
“Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin. for example.” [answered Mightily Oats.]
“And what do they think? Against it, are they?”
“It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”
“Nope.”
“Pardon?”
“There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
“It’s a lot more complicated than that–“
“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes–“
“But they starts with thinking about people as things…”
–from Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett.

Ah well, back to the idiots:

“It’s almost like the protests your are seeing now,” Taylor then added. “Those are not protests, those demonstrations; they’re demon-strations. … They’re flailing around, these are demon-strations, these are demons that are manifesting because they know that their time is short.”

Oh ffs. I’m sure weak word play makes Mr. Taylor feel oh-so-clever, but it’s the cleverness of someone in 3rd grade, who simply wants to taunt without thought. Seems to me all the people who are busy organising protests are not the ones flailing about, Mr. Taylor. I put that sort of action more on your side of things.

RWW has the full story.

Behind the Iron Curtain part 12 – Police

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.


Police did not exist. It was recognized to be a tool of oppression of common people by those in power and therefore something that an enlightened socialist regime does not need.

Did you believe that? I think not. But it is true. Police did not exist.

That is, the word “police” was not used in any official settings. During Habsburg rule in the Austrian Empire the police was mostly concerned with nabbing political dissidents and whilst during the First Republic it was actually really an organization for dealing with crime, that did not take long and during the WW2 it again morphed into an arm of oppression. The name “Geheime Staatspolizei” (secret state police) got stuck in people’s minds and the word police was irredeemably tainted in the minds of Czech people.

I do not know whether this was the actual reason for abandoning the word police by the regime, but I think it has played a role from what we were taught at school about history.

So the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic did not have any organization with the word “police” anywhere in it, but of course crime had to be investigated, traffic must have been regulated and miscreants had to be dealt with.

For this we had an organization “Veřejná Bezpečnost” short “VB”. Their yellow and white cars were very distinguishable and their uniforms made them easily recognized. Whilst they had the power to require “papers please”, they were members of community and at least where I live nobody minded them much. The derogatory term “policajt” applied to them, but without much rancor above what it usually has anywhere around the world.

And of course any totalitarian regime needs its secret police, even when not named as such, and ours was no exception.

The actual arm of oppression was the “Státní Bezpečnost“, short “StB”. These were plain clothes agents and everybody feared them. Nobody knew who belongs to this organization and who does not – a lot of the agents did have other primary jobs, infiltrating communities and spying on people, even their own family members. Everybody had to be extra careful about what they tell to whom and there was a huge culture of distrust. Critique of regime’s officials was one of the things that was frowned upon and one of the biggest challenges people raising kids had been to teach the kids tell truth at home, but to lie in public.

My father was a member of the Communist Party, he joined in his twenties and was an idealist. However he was also an honest man who spoke his mind, and one of his brothers was a political dissident living in USA – and they were in contact.

One evening my father came back from local gathering of the Communist Party and he informed my mother curtly “I might end up in jail, we’ll see”. These gatherings were officially places to discuss problems and solutions to them etc. but of course that was not particularly encouraged, what was expected was sycophancy. But in this one instance my father, when he had his turn to speak, did not reign in his honesty enough and said aloud words to the effect that a lot of the problems could be solved if only the grumpy fat old men in lead of the party actually cared about the people and not themselves. He got lucky.

Of course not everybody who opened their mouth and said something unfavorable about the Communist Party or the regime got nabbed and incarcerated. The way people function that would mean everybody would wound up in jail. But the possibility was always at the back of people’s’ minds. The way the regime worked, nobody knew if some innocent remark might be the point after which one gets into the regime’s focus, and once in focus, the StB could always find something. The maxim was that everybody is guilty and there is nothing you can do about it – only hope that you will not be the one who gets nabbed.

So people tried not to even think honest thoughts. This is how you control a populace – by building fences in their heads.

“An illogical yet divinely guided step…”

Sales of Tarot Cards are up! Oh no, witchcraft, satanism, and atheism, oh my! And worst of all, anti-Trump!

Breaking Israel News that warned that “sales of tarot cards have risen sharply in the last year as self-proclaimed witches claim that divination and dark-magic are effective in opposing President Trump.”

In that, um, article, Tarot cards are referred to as an ancient evil. That couldn’t really be further from the truth. Tarot cards are quite old, yes, but they started out as playing cards for specific card games, which are still played in parts of the world. The whole using them as divination tools and such didn’t come into fashion until the late 18th century and 19th century, which is not all that long ago. What I find to be funny is that tarot playing cards all have trump cards. I have no doubt that if lunatic christians and Jews found out about this, they would make a most hysterical hay out of it.

Right Wing Watch has a full article up about all this, I’m just going to quote this particular part of it:

The Breaking Israel News article also quotes Rabbi Pinchas Winston “an end-of-days expert and prolific author.”

“Anytime people act illogically and don’t notice it, it is a sign that Divine hands are setting the stage,” Rabbi Winston said, explaining that this was all part of a “Messianic endgame.”

“According to Jewish sources, the end-of-days will see an enormous polarization of good and evil,” Rabbi Winston said. “This is so that when we stand before God and he asks us ‘why didn’t you choose good?’, no one can say they couldn’t see the difference, that good and evil were not obvious. No one can say that they were kind of good. The end-of days is all or nothing, with the ramifications clearly spelled out.”

Winston explained that this process of clear good versus clear evil was clearly true in how American politics has played out in recent years.

“Obama was the first step of this polarization but he was able to hide most of the polarization and dress it up as social justice,” Winton said. “He could hide the evil he promoted, make it sound like good. So people who supported him could support evil but give the excuse that it was reasonably presented as good. To accomplish that, they need to be masters of disguise, to hide the truth even from themselves. They need to embrace Hollywood. They need for it to be all about appearances and subjective reality because the truth is too painful.”

“Trump is one step further,” Rabbi Winston said. “There is no hiding. You either love him or hate him, and he doesn’t know how to hide the truth in pretty words. Good and evil are laid out for everyone to see.”

Personally, I think good and evil are pretty easy to tell apart, especially these days. I agree with Rabbi Winston that it is most important for people to stand up against evil, which means standing against the Tiny Tyrant and all the destruction he is wreaking all over the damn place. It’s a pity so many believers of Abrahamaic religions are noisily standing on the side of evil, and protecting evil people.

Good people don’t go out of their way to destroy the environment even further when the damage already done is displacing so many people and dire weather events are happening all over the place. Good people don’t encourage Nazis, let alone refer to them as “fine people”. Good people believe in social justice, wanting basic human rights and equality applied to all people; good people don’t characterise social justice as evil. Good people don’t build concentration camps, rip people apart, and place children in fucking cages. And on and on and on the list goes.

If your fucking god hates people because of skin colour or country of origin, and hates social justice, then your god is one evil fucker, and you should be walking away, into the light and the right. Time to question that god of yours, and decide whether or not you can manage to be a truly good and moral person. No gods are needed for that.

RWW has the full story.

Sunday Facepalm: No Pink Knuckles!

Or any other colour, for that matter.  Keychain self defense devices are quite popular, even though the old standby of placing your keys between your fingers still works fine, if you have the opportunity to get them in place, of course.  Texas is a state which allows a rather stunning range of weapons, all perfectly legal. But a hard plastic pussy cat? Oh no, can’t have that. Those things are dangerous, y’know!

…Just last year, a law went into effect making it legal for Texans to carry machetes, Bowie knives, swords, spears and daggers — any knife with a blade longer than 5 1/2 inches — in most places across the state.

…Lawmakers also passed a law that made it legal for licensed Texans to openly carry handguns as of Jan. 1, 2016. Before then, it already was legal to carry concealed handguns and shotguns or AR-15s in public.

Now Gun Owners of America has pinpointed Texas as their next battleground for constitutional carry, which would let gun owners carry their weapons openly or concealed without first getting a permit.

[…]

But plastic self-defense key chains — particularly those shaped like cats or dogs with pointy ears — are off-limits and illegal.

“It’s a prohibited weapon,” said Shannon Edmonds, a staff attorney with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. “Unlike a firearm … these are always and everywhere prohibited.”

These key chains, which have been in the news recently in Texas, can cost less than $10 — unless you’re caught with them in Texas.

If that happens, you could end up paying as much as $4,000 in fines and spending up to a year in county jail, under state law.

“It is odd to have a situation where a person carrying a plastic pink kitty cat key chain could be arrested and sentenced to a year in jail while the person carrying a 9mm handgun next to them is free to do so,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston. “But, at the same time, the person carrying the 9mm has a (license) … whereas the person with the key chain may not.

“This is a case where a well-intentioned law to prevent the use of brass knuckles and similar weapons was written before the existence of” self-defense key chains, he said.

Oh Texas, where you can seldom expect any sort of common sense. You can read all about this at Star-Telegram.

I’d Prefer Abe Simpson…

The 72 year old Tiny Tyrant finally went there: “Get offa my lawn!” Just for the record, if there were desperate, frightened people standing on my lawn, I would do whatever I could to help them.

Source. You can see other choice responses at RawStory.