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On #FirstSurvivor and the Russian-Jewish Holocaust experience

January 27, 2019 / Comments Off on On #FirstSurvivor and the Russian-Jewish Holocaust experience
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Walking to the site of a Holocaust mass grave in Romanow, Ukraine

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day—sharing some thoughts on the Russian-Jewish Holocaust experience. There’s a thread making its way around Twitter about #FirstSurvivors, asking people about the first survivor they ever met. This was my response, which I’m posting here too, with some tweaks, before it disappears into the abyss of updates. Like many #SovietJews there's…

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Links Round-Up: Winter Olympics, Sochi-style

February 25, 2014 / Comments Off on Links Round-Up: Winter Olympics, Sochi-style
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A number of people have asked me in the last few weeks whether I have any national pride for Russia during these Sochi Olympics. Maybe it’s all the writing I’ve been doing the last few years, but I don’t think I’ve ever been asked before about cheering on another country. It’s never even occurred to…

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Kristallnacht on Twitter seems hopelessly naive

November 11, 2013 / Comments Off on Kristallnacht on Twitter seems hopelessly naive
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Kristallnacht on Twitter post - interior of burnt synagogue in Berlin

This weekend was the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht – the Night of the Broken Glass, when thousands of Jewish homes and businesses were ransacked and destroyed across Germany. Ninety-one Jews died that night. That was the night of November 9/10, 1938. (Awkward anniversary tie-in – on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down.) Media…

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Can you Photoshop that? Our tone-deaf response to the Kim Jong-Uns of the world

October 24, 2013 / Comments Off on Can you Photoshop that? Our tone-deaf response to the Kim Jong-Uns of the world
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Kim Jong-Un Photoshop contest - Statues of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il

One of my favourite Soviet-era jokes goes something like this: Three Russians are in the gulag. The first one says, “What are you in for?” The second one replies, “I called Zbarsky a revolutionary.” “That’s funny,” the first one says. “I called Zbarsky a counterrevolutionary.” “That’s funny,” the third one says. “I am Zbarsky.” (I may have…

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Friday Links: The Stalin ruins Women’s Day edition

March 8, 2013 / 2 Comments
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Translated Soviet Women's Day Poster from 1932

Once upon a time, I used to post Monday links. I’m bringing them back, but on Friday. Because I actually have time to think of smart posts on the weekend. Not so much on Fridays. It is a weird week when the 60th anniversary of Stalin’s death rolls around and it’s also (almost) International Women’s Day.…

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The social media revolution, World War II, Syria, and oh, Walmart

August 17, 2012 / Comments Off on The social media revolution, World War II, Syria, and oh, Walmart
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Wal-Mart Supercenter Parking Lot in Virginia

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media – mostly Twitter – and whether the increased speed and availability of global communicating is really going to make the world a better place (see: every Twitter revolution, everywhere). But Twitter just reflects ourselves back to us – the good and the bad. It’s not going to…

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Radio days of the revolution: Goodbye Soviet Russia, hello North Korea

March 25, 2011 / Comments Off on Radio days of the revolution: Goodbye Soviet Russia, hello North Korea
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Vintage radio representing BBC Russia

After 65 years, BBC Russia shut down its radio service this week, with all the attendant “end of an era” sighing. That era ended 20 years ago, but hey, who doesn’t appreciate an opportunity to wax nostalgic. If you read anything at all about dissidence in the Soviet days, tuning into illegal radio broadcasts is…

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The digital afterlife and the lies we’ll leave behind

February 24, 2011 / Comments Off on The digital afterlife and the lies we’ll leave behind
Salem Cemetery for digital afterlife post

Alison Garwood-Jones wrote a lovely piece a while ago on her blog about the wisps of life we leave behind on the internet. To add to the unmade bed, the book half-read, the phone call never returned and conversation never finished, is now the digital alter-ego, never finished. And, somehow lacking the poignancy of finding…

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Twitter revolution? Sorry, the revolution is not being tweeted

February 23, 2011 / Comments Off on Twitter revolution? Sorry, the revolution is not being tweeted
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Twitter Revolution: Gadhafi Tweet

Hanging out on Twitter makes for an odd perspective on world events. Like Revolution 2011 World Tour. There’s an expectation to comment on these major upheavals. And at the same time, an expectation that seeing lunch tweets interspersed with desperate pleas from protesters is meant to make us uncomfortable. It does. (But then, we’re also…

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Ok, so I don’t talk about current events so much…

February 3, 2011 / Comments Off on Ok, so I don’t talk about current events so much…

I sometimes forget why I’m doing this Soviet Jewry thing. Or, not so much forget, as get distracted. The present is just so very busy. It has heft, carries more weight. Egypt. Wikileaks. Obama’s State of the Union. Women in Magazines. CRTC Rulings. Mayoral Elections. G20. In other words, shouldn’t I be talking about something…

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