Rad Geek People's Daily

official state media for a secessionist republic of one

Triple Order of Freedom Fries

The Russian army is besieging Mariupol and attacking crowded civilian targets like mosques and hospitals. Inside Russia, Russian anti-war protesters are in the streets; the state is arresting thousands of people daily and pursuing a ruthless campaign of censorship on dissident information sources and dismantling the last remaining fragments of a free press freedom of the press, using — natch — laws for controlling misinformation or fakes in news and social media. The U.S. government unconscionably continues to shilly-shally and delay issuing visas for Ukrainian refugees trying to flee the war and come to the United States.

Many people in the West are righteously outraged about all this. As well they should be. Many people have taken that outrage and fed it into an utterly histrionic campaign of moral panic, inappropriately directed against Russian people, Russian culture, Russian things and even Russian animals according to the most ridiculous and flatly despicable dictates of War Logic. War Logic curdles every humanitarian impulse into a theatrically stupid and racist campaign for the collective humiliation and punishment of supposed enemies who in fact have nothing to do with the war or the government that oppresses them, or the nation that they are somehow or another vaguely associated with.

For example, here is a Democratic Congressman claiming to represent the State of California:

Shared Article from Fox News

Eric Swalwell floats kicking Russians out of US universities in …

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said on CNN Thursday that kicking Russian students out of U.S. universities should be "on the table" in response to Russ…

Hannah Grossman @ foxnews.com

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said on CNN Thursday that kicking Russian students out of U.S. universities should be “on the table” in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin launching an invasion into Ukraine.

Frankly, I think closing their embassy in the United States, kicking every Russian student out of the United States … should … be on the table. … Vladimir Putin needs to know every day that he is in Ukraine, there are more severe options that could come, Swalwell said on CNN Newsroom.

— Hannah Grossman, Eric Swalwell floats kicking Russians out of US universities in retaliation to Putin invading Ukraine
Fox News, 24 February 2022

These options aren’t severe for Vladimir Vladimirovich. They’re severe for innocent Russian college students who have nothing to do with this terrible war, simply because they are Russian nationals. This is a despicable proposal for collective punishment as well as a wildly counterproductive effort to further isolate Russian people from cultural contact and exchange with the West. Swalwell ought to be ashamed of himself, and censured by his colleagues.

Here is a cowardly decision by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra to cave in to demands that they shut down performances by a 20 year old piano prodigy who vocally opposes the war on Ukraine for no reason other than the fact that he ought to be punished for being a Russian national:

Shared Article from Montreal

Montreal Symphony Orchestra drops Russian piano prodigy from con…

A young Russian pianist set to perform with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra this week has been struck from the schedule after protest, though the orch…


A young Russian pianist who was set to perform with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra this week has been struck from the schedule after protest.[1]

However, the orchestra maintained its praise for 20-year-old Alexander Malofeev, who has been outspoken against the invasion of Ukraine, where he said he has some family members.

The OSM feels that it would be inappropriate to receive Mr. Malofeev this week, wrote a spokesperson for the orchestra, Pascale Ouimet, in a statement.

We continue, however, to believe in the importance of maintaining relationships with artists of all nationalities who embrace messages of peace and hope. We look forward to welcoming this exceptional artist when the context allows it.[2]

. . . The orchestra at first declined [to cancel Malofeev’s performances], saying Malofeev had spoken openly against the invasion. But it ultimately decided it was the right call considering the serious impact on the civilian population of Ukraine caused by the Russian invasion, Ouimet wrote.

— Selena Ross, Montreal Symphony Orchestra drops Russian piano prodigy from concerts amid backlash
CTV News, 8 March 2022.

No word yet on how many civilian lives have been saved by halting a Russian adolescent’s piano performances in Montreal. Nevertheless:

The orchestra’s statement on Tuesday said it wanted to reaffirm its solidarity with the Ukrainian people and is making a donation in support of them, and also urges the public to do the same.

But OSM musicians and their conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas, stressed that they still have an excellent collaboration with Malofeev, according to the statement.

I was very pleased to be working in Montreal for the first time with the extraordinary young pianist Alexander Malofeev, Thomas said.

It is regrettable that political situations have made it impossible.[3] I look forward to the possibility of collaborating with him in the near future.

In two Facebook posts, Malofeev has decried the war, first writing on March 2 that the truth is that every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict.

On Monday, however,[4] he added that he’s upset by the hatred going in all directions, in Russia and around the world, and that he still believe[s] Russian culture and music specifically should not be tarnished by the ongoing tragedy, though it is impossible to stay aside now.

— Selena Ross, Montreal Symphony Orchestra drops Russian piano prodigy from concerts amid backlash
CTV News, 8 March 2022.

It is of course a self-serving lie to lament how impossible it is to let a Russian pianist play the piano in Montreal. There would be nothing simpler; they were already planning to do it, and they are putting on the concerts anyway with the rest of the (non-Russian) performers. The OSM made a decision to discriminate against a Russian piano performer for no other reason than the fact that he is a Russian national.

Here is the International Cat Federation (FIFe) taking a stand against cats bred in Russia:

Shared Article from web.archive.org

Fédération Internationale Féline :: FIFe News

Bob Schwartz - http://www.fotografics.it @ web.archive.org

The FIFe Executive Board is shocked and horrified that the army of the Russian Federation invaded the Republic of Ukraine and started a war. Many innocent people died, many more are wounded and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are forced to flee their homes to save their lives. We can all witness the destruction and chaos caused by this unprecedented act of aggression.

On top of that our Ukrainian fellow feline fanciers are desperately trying to take care of their cats and other animals in these trying circumstances. . . . The Board of FIFe feels it cannot just witness these atrocities and do nothing,[5] so it decided that as of 01.03.2022:

  • No cat bred in Russia may be imported and registered in any FIFe pedigree book outside Russia, regardless of, which organization issued its pedigree.
  • No cat belonging to exhibitors living in Russia may be entered at any FIFe show outside Russia, regardless of, which organization these exhibitors hold their membership in.

These restrictions are valid until 31.05.2022 and will be reviewed as and when necessary.

— International Cat Federation / Fédération Internationale Féline, Statement regarding the situation in Ukraine
FIFe News Page, accessed 12 March 2022.
Quoted in Vanity Fair (3 March 2022) and the Washington Post (3 March 2022)

I would say, You are issuing international sanctions against cats for being bred in Russia. But these are people who would issue sanctions against cats for being bred in Russia. Then issue a statement that they could do no other, because in the face of the Russian army’s atrocities they cannot stand by and do nothing.

This is not a sane or intelligent response to the atrocities committed by Russia’s military and government. People look back on ridiculous exercises like Freedom Fries and Liberty Cabbage and persecuting Dachshunds as a sort of condensate of black farce from the passions of war; sometimes they wonder that people could seriously do ridiculous shit like that. Of course they could. We are exactly the same people as the people who did this before. The spirit of war is the marshalling of passionate outrage into collective hatreds; War Logic makes ignoramuses and contemptible bullies of us all. It makes everything worse, mutilates the analytical mind and deforms the passions into the patrolling of imaginary opposing camps; if it has any significant effect at all it is always to ratchet up conflict, punish the innocent and make global culture and politics more brutal and dangerous. Don’t do that. You don’t have to. You’ll look like like a demented fanatic and a preposterous, illiberal tool after even a moment to reflect.

  1. [1][By Ukrainian-Canadian protesters who are demanding a boycott of Russian cultural products. –R.G.]
  2. [2][Sic. –R.G.]
  3. [3][Sic. –R.G.]
  4. [4][Sic. –R.G.]
  5. [5][Somebody wrote this and published it on the World Wide Web. –R.G.]

our pockets full of coins

Listening to: The Waltz We Were Born For, by Walt McDonald (1999), via W.F. Strong’s Stories from Texas.

Shared Article from kutkutx.studio

Think There’s No Poetry In Texas? Think Again


The Waltz We Were Born For

I never knew them all, just hummed
and thrummed my fingers with the radio,
driving five hundred miles to Austin.
Her arms held all the songs I needed.
Our boots kept time with fiddles
and the charming sobs of blondes,

the whine of steel guitars
sliding us down in deer-hide chairs
when jukebox music was over.
Sad music’s on my mind tonight
in a jet high over Dallas, earphones
on channel five. A lonely singer,

dead, comes back to beg me,
swearing in my ears she’s mine,
rhymes set to music that make
her lies seem true. She’s gone
and others like her, leaving their songs
to haunt us. Letting down through clouds

I know who I’ll find waiting at the gate,
the same woman faithful to my arms
as she was those nights in Austin
when the world seemed like a jukebox,
our boots able to dance forever,
our pockets full of coins.

— Walt McDonald, The Waltz We Were Born For (1999)

Freedom Fries Overture

The Russian government’s ongoing war against Ukraine is, of course, awful and by all means ought to be denounced, opposed, if possible resisted.

This kind of thing, however, is not a sane or intelligent response to that, let alone an appropriate one.

Shared Article from Classical Music

Cardiff Philharmonic removes Tchaikovsky from programme in light…

The orchestra had an all-Tchaikovsky concert scheduled for next week, but has decided to change the programme having deemed it to be 'inappropriate' a…


I suppose it will be ploddingly obvious to point out that the Russian government (which is not actually the government that was in place back in 1882 — although that other one, also, was a very, very bad militaristic government) is not the same thing of Russia as a people, or the entire history of modern Russian culture. But I will say that nevertheless, and the idea that a terrible war in Ukraine is a good reason to open up a second front in the orchestra pits against the menace of Russian concert overtures is hysterical, illiberal and would be alarmingly belligerent if it weren’t so goddamned self-importantly ridiculous.

(Link thanks to Jesse Walker.)

Cities Without States and Social Scale Without Social Control

What I’ve been reading: From the (generally really fascinating) first chapter on early cities in David Graeber and David Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. Footnotes are from the text unless otherwise indicated. Boldface emphasis is mine.

Dunbar’s Number Is Just A Number:

In the standard, textbook version of human history, scale is crucial. The tiny bands of foragers in which humans were thought to have spent most of their evolutionary history could be relatively democratic and egalitarian precisely because they were small. It’s common to assume — and is often stated as self-evident fact — that our social sensibilities, even our capacity to keep track of names and faces, are largely determined by the fact that we spent 95 per cent of our evolutionary history in tiny groups of at best a few dozen individuals. We’re designed to work in small teams. As a result, large agglomerations of people are often treated as if they were by definition somewhat unnatural, and humans as psychologically ill equipped to handle life inside them. This is the reason, the argument often goes, that we require such elaborate ‘scaffolding’ to make larger communities work: such things as urban planners, social workers, tax auditors and police.[1]

If so, it would make perfect sense that the appearance of the first cities, the first truly large concentrations of people permanently settled in one place, would also correspond to the rise of states. For a long time, the archaeological evidence — from Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, Central America and elsewhere — did appear to confirm this. If you put enough people in one place, the evidence seemed to show, they would almost inevitably develop writing or something like it, together with administrators, storage and redistribution facilities, workshops and overseers. Before long, they would also start dividing themselves into social classes. **Civilization came as a package. It meant misery and suffering for some (since some would inevitably be reduced to serfs, slaves or debt peons), but also allowed for the possibility of philosophy, art and the accumulation of scientific knowledge.

The evidence no longer suggests anything of the sort. In fact, much of what we have come to learn in the last forty or fifty years has thrown conventional wisdom into disarray. In some regions, we now know, cities governed themselves for centuries without any sign of the temples and palaces that would only emerge later; in others, temples and palaces never emerged at all. In many early cities, there is simply no evidence of either a class of administrators or any other sort of ruling stratum. In others, centralized power seems to appear and then disappear. It would seem that the mere fact of urban life does not, necessarily, imply any particular form of political organization, and never did.

This has all sorts of important implications: for one thing, it suggests a much less pessimistic assessment of human possibilities, since the mere fact that much of the world’s population now live in cities may not determine how we live, to anything like the extent you might assume . . . .

— David Graeber and David Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. Chapter 8, Imaginary Cities, 277-278.

Two Conceptions of Equality; Heavy Lies the Head That Wears the Burden of Proof:

So far in this chapter we’ve looked at what happened when cities first appeared in three distinct parts of Eurasia. In each case, we noted the absence of monarchs or any evidence of a warrior elite, and the corresponding likelihood that each had instead developed institutions of communal self-governance. Within those broad parameters, each regional tradition was very different. Contrasts between the expansion of Uruk and the Ukrainian mega-sites illustrate this point with particular clarity.[2] Both appear to have developed an ethos of explicit egalitarianism — but it took strikingly different forms in each.

It is possible to express these differences at a purely formal level. A self-conscious ethos of egalitarianism, at any point in history, might take either of two diametrically opposing forms. We can insist that everyone is, or should be, precisely the same (at least in the ways that we consider important); or alternatively, we can insist that everyone is so utterly different from each other that there are simply no criteria for comparison (for example, we are all unique individuals, and so there is no basis upon which any one of us can be considered better than another). Real-life egalitarianism will normally tend to involve a bit of both.

Yet it could be argued that Mesopotamia — with its standardized household products, allocation of uniform payments to temple employees, and public assemblies — seems to have largely embraced the first version. Ukrainian mega-sites, in which each household seems to have developed its own unique artistic style and, presumably, idiosyncratic domestic rituals, embraced the second.[3] The Indus valley appears — if our interpretation is broadly correct — to represent yet a third possibility, where rigorous equality in certain areas (even the bricks were all precisely the same size) was complemented by explicit hierarchy in others.

It’s important to stress that we are not arguing that the very first cities to appear in any region of the world were invariably founded on egalitarian principles (in fact, we will shortly see a perfect counter-example). What we are saying is that archaeological evidence shows this to have been a surprisingly common pattern, which goes against conventional evolutionary assumptions about the effects of scale on human society. In each of the cases we’ve considered so far — Ukrainian mega-sites, Uruk Mesopotamia, the Indus valley — a dramatic increase in the scale of organized human settlement took place with no resulting concentration of wealth or power in the hands of ruling elites. In short, archaeological research has shifted the burden of proof on to those theorists who claim causal connections between the origins of cities and the rise of stratified states, and whose claims now look increasingly hollow.

— David Graeber and David Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. Chapter 8, Imaginary Cities, 321-322

  1. [1]1. E.g. Dunbar 1996; 2010.
  2. [2][This is rather too strong of a statement for the underlying evidence. Graeber and Wengrow’s extended discussion of the Ukrainian mega-sites is really interesting and suggestive, but also highly speculative, with lots of interesting but uncertain interpretation introduced entirely on the strength of the fact that the prehistoric dwellings are arranged in circles, and this would have a deep symbolic meaning in the similarly circular arrangement of modern Basque villages (288-297). Well, maybe; that’s a really interesting thought about how scale might be managed without central organization in a certain kind of settlement, and it ought to be investigated more if possible. But there’s an awful lot more that we can say with clarity and firm evidential grounding about the Uruk Expansion than we can about the Mega-Site settlements. —R.G.]
  3. [3]102. As argued in Wengrow 2015.


Love Song

Sweep the house clean,
hang fresh curtains
in the windows
put on a new dress
and come with me!
The elm is scattering
its little loaves
of sweet smells
from a white sky!

Who shall hear of us
in the time to come?
Let him say there was
a burst of fragrance
from black branches.

— William Carlos Williams, Love Song
A Book of Poems: Al Que Quiere! (1917), 35.

Shared Article from Poetry Foundation

Love Song - Audio Poem of the Day | Poetry Foundation

By William Carlos Williams (read by Matthew Rohrer)


(William Carlos Williams wrote a whole bunch of poems around 1916-1917 entitled Love Song — there’s another one in the same book even, and the one published by Poetry in November 1916, which is linked from the Audio Poem of the Day page as the supposed text of the poem in the reading, is another, different poem from the one that was read. So it actually took me a minute to hunt down a good copy of the text for this after I heard it in audio form. This one appeared in A Book of Poems: Al Que Quiere! (1917), after the poem Summer Song and before Foreign.)

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