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Блог переехал. Теперь это зеркало.

Контент 6+
С сегодняшнего дня (08/11/2017) блог в ЖЖ становится зеркалом основного сайта - http://eric-artem.com/
С одной стороны  - мы выросли. С другой - я не могу принимать политику текущей администрации, которая явно ограничивает блоггеров в самовыражении и возможностях заработка. Пакет "Профессиональный" я также больше не куплю. Заходить сюда буду крайне редко.
Вся дальнейшая верстка будет осуществляться не для ЖЖ.
Группа в Facebook сохраняется.
Спасибо всем, кто читает нас. Надеюсь, вы переедете вместе с нами в новый, более удобный формат. Там также сохраняется возможность логина через соц.сети.

===Артем Ковалев===
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Why Multiculturalism actually Matters. Borderless.



Content advisory 12+ We were driving in our Japanese car down the road, xenon headlights breaking the darkness. Suspension, invented by a Scotland-origin man was preventing us from jumping on the bumps. We were driving through the forest to the border through the protected zone.


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Back then, in the age of tribes, being banned from your settlement was sometimes worse than a death sentence. Wild beasts, hungry hunters, weather, lack of fire was always following those who fell under this kind of persecution.


Centuries passed, languages developed, borders were built. Iron, stone, fire and water – they divide the planet, cutting invisible scars on its’ face.


I’m not against states or governments, of course – people still need teams and tribes, as we are still naked apes, trying to hide the animal inside us behind the ironed façade. It is in our nature and psychology, it helps us to survive and achieve results – and I usually like to be a team-builder myself, as I believe that money can pass – and people are the main asset.


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The actually dangerous thing is borders with spikes turned outside in our minds. Thoughts of exclusiveness, ideas of the uniqueness of certain cultures, of the fact that someone can be better than others…


I have a really interesting fact for those who think this way: your success is a coincidence. Millions tried, they were more clever than you, faster than you, stronger than you – and they didn’t succeed because someone hadn’t washed hands before giving them their meal. You should always keep in mind that the same thing could happen to anyone. Or vice versa.


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Country success is usually a line of such coincidences, fortified by the people who can think several steps further, not just one – they used these coincidences for their benefit, for the good of their teams, and that finally led to development.


Yet everything could be different.


A Chinese fleet just hadn’t decided to sail to Europe in full force back then – and just by a coincidence, they had no idea what this land could bring. Remember – they already had gunpowder, rockets and mortars back then.


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Driving closer to the border, the forest became darker. Concrete bunkers (yes, that’s true) were staring at us with empty gun ports, [and the wolves were howling all around us] (well, I’m kidding about that).


Even though the border crossings are physical, we crossed this one in three hours, getting all the stamps required.


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The highest borders are in our minds.


We tend to put clichés on other cultures because it is much more simple to think that all Italians love pizza, all Germans love beer, all Russians love vodka, all French are…well, let’s stop here. This is an easy way for those who are not ready to move forward, to evolve. It is easy to remember that you can eat apples and never try coconuts – but can we really call ourselves “sapiens” in this case? Is it not about curiosity, development, constant search, or, may I call it – Discovery?


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Working closely with other tribes (oh, sorry, cultures) help us to develop ourselves, widen the horizon, find new solutions, invent and bring a better world for us and our descendants. It trains our brain, helps to create new neuron links, which eventually can bring us a mutually better future.


The only thing this idea bounces off is the border in our mind.


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====Artem Kovalev===


https://thinkmytime.com/why-multiculturalism-actually-matters-borderless
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Tattoo our Blog. New look.

Content advisory 16+ Well, right now I am not sure if I should continue posting this and promoting people showing their muscles/legs on our blog, yet sometimes we just should not resist) anyway, why Eric can post his almost-naked pictures in Facebook and I can't post our faithful and devoted readers?


Another beautiful temp - have a look!


https://thinkmytime.com/tattoo-our-blog-new-look
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Why Diversity Actually Matters

Content advisory 12+ There are many talks and speeches regarding the benefits of diversity, yet really few of them truly explain why it actually matters. In short, it widens your thinking horizon, gives you the luxury of less biased choice and helps you to understand the world better; by this, you can develop yourself, because it trains your brain, it stimulates the variety of connections between neurons, which will help you to find non-standard and competitive solutions, or even find out something new (Eureka!) and be recognized, be remembered, be the One.



I could have stopped here, yet if you are interested I can tell you more.


Many people try to live in their small world, not interested in looking around. This is simple, and I understand their decision. They voluntarily decided not to succeed, but to exist in a standard well-prepared environment, without questions, without unexpected things happening. This is OK, but would you read this at all if you really thought so?



There are others, looking for new opportunities, trying to develop, or, at least, to have a pleasure in living. Actually, it is also about development, if you look deeper in how the brain works, but in another way.



Basically, there is a theory (I take it as a good one) that it took three things to invent a car: 1) unwillingness to travel in an uncomfortable saddle on an uncontrollable (if it sees something strange) animal; 2) curiosity; 3) willingness to discover more during the short life we have. I cannot say for sure that the inventor himself thought that way, but I can definitely say that those who promoted the whole idea were based on these facts (and on profit expectations, of course).


Could one invent the car if he decided to live a standard life? No, he would still be using a horse. Without an aspiration to look for something new, to be better, we would still be monkeys, picking colorful fruits from the trees.



Widening thinking horizon…


Diversity gives you a base for that. In a team where different cultures, religion, and points of views are mixed, there are more options to take, more ideas to be produced, because the diversity gives variety, and living in it and with it we develop our way of thinking wider, increasing the amount of the opportunities for the whole team.



Sometimes there are talks about “understanding”, but I’m not sure that everyone is able to “understand” others in a general meaning, because even you and I have different perception of what is “red”, because “red” color causes different brain reaction for the both of us. I take it more as “accepting”, “getting” that. It is not required to “understand” in order to produce something great together, to work or even live together, like engineers usually can’t “understand” designers and vice versa, but still - we have beautiful cars and buildings.



Look around. It is diversity what makes our world beautiful, it is diversity which brings us more options to take…in it we evolve, accepting it with our heart we become Humans, citizens of the world, this is how we give us a chance to be more, to know more, to use our knowledge for further development.



And, to finish I should give a hint for the pure egoists: it helps You. You can achieve better results with that, because it is by the law of probability that the more good choices you have, the higher is the probability that you choose a good one.


===Artem Kovalev===


https://thinkmytime.com/why-diversity-actually-matters
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Not Size Zero

Content advisory 18+ In a world where we are more particular about appearances than reality, the unrealistic projection of an ideal body has amounted to a long-drawn obsession. However, it is a problem that is now being somewhat addressed as saner minds apparently prevail. Celebrities have spoken up about being “body-shamed” and “fat-shamed” and about eating disorders. The public has shunned photoshopped bodies to the degree of absurdity and appears increasingly repelled by such invasive and potentially dangerous interventions as ‘skin-bleaching.’


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Now the ‘plus size’ is being celebrated with fashion-making catwalks being dedicated to these more ‘realistic’ body types, and clothing lines are doling out dresses to fit the new theme. That’s all well and good, I mean yeah, we should all respect people as they are. Everyone is different, we have different coloured skins and body types and different sets of problems. No two persons are alike and all of us are a result (in not always equal portions, alas) of circumstance and our own choices.


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I don’t believe in bullying people. I do fondly tease my oversized friend but I absolutely do not look down upon her. She has a long list of health issues and they restrict her. I also have friends with an abnormally high metabolism who cannot seem to add some meat to their body no matter how much they eat! But then there are those who eat huge fatty meals, do not exercise (me!) or go on absurd diets to attain that ideal figure.


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But why doesn’t the fashion industry talk about the “normal” figure? Why do we babble about the cinched waist and an hourglass figure or the fabulous “full” figure but never about a normal healthy ordinary human body? Shouldn’t that be something that all of us want to attain or maintain? Why does ‘fashion’ always need to go to ridiculous extremes?


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Why do we promote an anorexic figure or an overweight body when it is clearly unhealthy to have either one? Hundreds of teenage girls look through these magazines and are easily influenced by the photoshopped beauty on display.


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I went through a phase when I used to think that my dusky skin was ugly and felt that I would be fairer by using all these lightening and whitening creams in the advertisements. Everyone wants to look pretty, but few seemingly realize that beauty really does come from within. Of course they give lip service to the idea, but do they really grasp it and believe it? The ominous statistics that reveal an onslaught of suicide among teenagers would appear to demonstrate the pathetic anxiety that many teens feel, in large part due to their physical appearance and the flak they often get from their so-called peer group because of it.


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What we need to do instead is to be more accepting of the people around us. Do not make fun of a girl’s hairy legs or a guy’s acne; do not laugh a flat-chested (or monumentally-bosomed) girl or a boy who is too tall or too short to fit the officially accepted mold; do not laugh at boys or girls who wear braces to straighten their teeth (do not refer to them as “Tin Grin” or “Metal Mouth”.). Do not bully someone into trying to become something they are not. Our idea of perfect is not everyone’s ideal. A girl can choose to dress like a boy and a man can choose to dance in high heels (OK, maybe NOT such a good idea !). It is really a free world. But in the end, take care of your body and mind since they are the only ones that will be with you all your life!

===Roopsa===


https://eric-artem.com/not-size-zero
артем, эрик, eric, pencil, artem

A Dummy’s Course In Deceit

Content advisory 18+ A guy was explaining to me once how to tell the perfect lie. He said it with a straight face and matter-of-fact expression, almost as if he were expounding on how you can pack the most clothes into a suitcase or the most groceries into one plastic bag at a supermarket.


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Inspired by my strict moral upbringing in the Christian Church (hahaha), I felt it my duty to rebuke him and call him out good and proper: “But we shouldn’t tell lies !” I cried from my pulpit, practically choking on righteous indignation. “It is a sin !”

“Bullshit,” he intoned. “Everybody does it. You do it, and I do it.”

I thought about this. “Hmmm.”


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And I had to admit that he was right. But, never one to leave an argument without a final rejoinder, I chipped away at his position by explaining that there are good lies and bad lies. Black lies and White lies, so to speak — the former when you are playing Russian Roulette with a girlfriend you want to get rid of and you tell her the gun isn’t loaded; the latter when your NEW girlfriend completely fucks up the lasagna she is trying to prepare, and you eat the charred membrane of goo anyway with a big grin on your face because having her with you in the sack after supper is more important than telling her the truth, which is that a dead skunk with boils would have tasted better than the abortion she has just put in front of you.

Both are lies, but one supports a good cause.


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Before my friend could tell me all his information, he had to go because of some pressing matter. So I decided to consult the internet with such questions as “How do you tell the perfect lie?” and “What makes a good liar?” Just for kicks, you know. To my astonishment, there are a thousand or so links on this subject. Obviously, one must conclude, people across the globe have devoted a remarkable amount of time to the question of how best to sell your deceit: the art of lying effectively and convincingly.

Among the advice that spills out across cyberspace, here are some of the ones that struck me particularly:


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1. Remember that lying requires a lot more mental effort than telling the truth; therefore…

2. …try to “bend” the truth instead of making up a completely false story. (My friend later confirmed this theory. In his opinion, every lie should be 80-90% truth. The critical 15% should be carefully woven into the fabric of the accurate account. This, my friend, insists, is the “art of the PLAUSIBLE”

3. Misdirection. This is kind of like what a pickpocket might do: entice your eyes to look in a different direction while he is robbing you. So, if you are really late getting home from the party (or the ‘hot-sheet’ rent-by-the-hour hotel room) and your lady starts screaming at you, immediately launch into some exotic tale about how there was a terrible accident along the road and a lot of dead bodies were left lying strewn about. It may SOUND fantastic, but if you are the creative type who can do a spontaneous blow-by-blow of what supposedly happened, it might take her mind completely off the fact that it is now 3 a.m. and your mouth smells like a combination of beer and pussy.


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4. Know your partner. What is he/she most likely to believe? How gullible? My own wife (OUCH!) is so suspicious that she doesn’t believe me even when I AM telling the truth, so….

5. …When possible, PLAN your lie and keep your ‘facts’ straight. This is why police interrogation tactics involve asking the same question and over and over. The cops think that sooner or later you will forget what you said earlier and change your story. Then they can pounce on the discrepancies and you will likely cave in.


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6. Rehearse what you are going to say and, if possible, DO NOT involve other people. If you need someone to cover for you, tell them ONLY what they need to know and nothing more. (I have noticed that Russian people are excellent natural-born liars in this sense. You can ask a Russian FIVE questions and he/she will answer the TWO that they want to answer and ignore the rest. This does not amount to lying outright, but it can have the same effect: deceit by deliberate omission. Americans and Brits, on the other hand, will answer ALL your questions. FALSELY.

7. Keep it short and simple. Complex elaboration may convince the liar of his own brilliance but will send obvious red flags to the one being deceived. (“Why is he blathering on and on about this?” she will ask herself. “What is he trying to hide?”


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8. COVER YOUR TRACKS. Now that is really important. In this day and age of advanced technology, people are always getting caught in their lies because of undeleted messages — emails and other shit left on the phone. Remember that your privacy means NOTHING to your partner: he/she will check EVERYTHING at every opportunity. It is sad — if not pathetic — when the perfect crime unravels simply because you left your damned phone laying around full of incriminating evidence. Colpa tua !!!!


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9. Avoiding telling other lies and try especially hard not to build a tapestry or fugue of lies — because again (refer to point # 1) lying is much more difficult than telling the truth. It’s not for nothing that Shakespeare wrote: “O what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive.” The downfall of many liars occurs when a second lie must be told to cover the first, a third to cover the second, etc.


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10. Turn the tables. Act terribly wounded and offended that your sincerity has been called into question “What????? You don’t BELIEVE me? What kind of wife ARE you?” Many confident and manipulative ego-maniacs employ this strategy, particularly if they know that their partner WANTS to believe them and is looking for any excuse to do so. I am reminded of the story of the woman who comes home and catches her husband red-handed screwing the hell out of some other woman, right there in HER own bed. Of course, she screams bloody murder (wouldn’t you?). So he slams the door shut, tosses his mistress out the window, and returns (nonchalantly) to his wife.


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“What’s wrong dear?” he asks her, his eyes full of concern.

“What do you MEAN, what’s wrong?” she wails. “Didn’t I just catch you having sex with another woman?”

“What other woman?” he asks in caressing disbelief.

“The one you have in the bedroom!” she cries accusingly.

He opens the door majestically to an empty room.

“See, there is no one in there.”

“But I saw it all ! She was there, I tell you!”

Running a comb through his hair and lightly kissing her on the forehead, he asks, brimming with confidence and bursting with logic:

“Darling, who are you going me believe: ME? Or YOUR lying eyes?”


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So, if you must lie, I hope that some of these tips help. If you say you are someone who NEVER lies, (1), I don’t believe you; and/or (2), you must find a better world.

History is a pack of lies — whatever cavalcade of lies we choose or are convinced by our teachers or masters to believe at any given moment. Furthermore, we only ever know our wives (or husbands) a little bit; the rest of whoever they are is like a hound disappearing into the foggy mist of the forest. Whatever they say to us, especially in praise when times are good — on the beach or in the bedroom — they no doubt said to someone else, and maybe to many others. Sometimes the lies are better than the truth. Live, therefore, in the ripe moment, and do not worry. People are always changing their minds.


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My friend, my colleague, my President, my wife, my lover, my hungry dog that just stole the cat’s food when my back was turned: Lie to ME — as you will. But at least try not to lie to yourself.

Because if you LIVE a lie, your life is nothing more than a sad joke. Don’t try to bullshit the face that looks back from the mirror and remember the TRUTH of the adage that “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.”


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Let your mirror, therefore, be the one face you always tell the truth to. And then decide your life of shadow and deception. Go then to the drawing room or the street. Prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet (to take a line from T.S. Eliot.).

===Eric Richard Leroy===


https://eric-artem.com/a-dummys-course-in-deceit
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The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth

Content advisory 18+ Have you ever been falsely accused of doing something bad that you positively and absolutely didn’t do? How did you feel? Especially when there was no way to change the minds of those who were accusing you?


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It’s happened to me a few times, and I can assure you that I was outraged. In fact, I have little doubt that my violent reaction to such injustice was fueled by the fact that I am usually GUILTY AS CHARGED, and it just so happened that on this or that particular occasion I was innocent.

So why, having gotten away with murder so many times — you may well ask — would I be so offended if, just once in a while, the ax fell on the wrong neck (mine) and the sheriff arrested the wrong guy (me?) Wouldn’t it just be a case of the law-of-averages finally catching up with a slippery fellow and fate administering a sour dose of ‘poetic justice?’


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But it’s never like that, is it? I guess the reason is that you feel helpless. Trapped in your Truth, so to speak. It is one thing trying to convince your wife or girlfriend that you only drank two bottles instead of six, or that you “Absolutely did NOT have sex with that woman !” — and quite another to peer into the eyes of the jury who have just found you guilty and sentenced you to death, and still try to proclaim your innocence to those twelve executioners and their 24 circles of stone that blankly stare back at you.

I can’t speak for other countries, but in the United States there is a long history of innocent people being sent way for life sentences in brutal prisons, or simply put to death. Mostly, these have been poor defendants without recourse to adequate legal counsel, and, sad to say, the majority of these poor people were and are Black. The present-day sophistication of DNA testing has revolutionized how things are done and in many cases brought to a halt the put-’em’-to-death-and-forget-about–’em attitude of many States, particularly in the once notorious American South.


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But the wheels of justice turn slowly, and, to this very day, it is common for the police and district attorney to lie their heads off just to get a conviction. The police are the biggest liars of all. Potentially exonerating evidence is ignored or suppressed, and, even when it has become indisputably clear that the wrong man was convicted, the D.A. (district attorney, often up for election in the near future) will fight tooth and nail to convince the public that “the real criminal is behind bars where he belongs.”

I said the South, but let’s be fair: it happened everywhere in America. However, if you want to partake of a distinctly grisly vision of Dixieland in the old USA, use your internet for what it was intended for (not porn films or hacking into other people’s business) and do a little research. Such as : “Photographs of Lynchings in the Racist American South.”


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Or, if you still don’t believe me, try reading John Grisham’s true-life story “The Innocent Man.” It will shock you if you are shockable. It will show you the seamiest side of the human race in terms of how greedy, ambitious political whores will send people to their doom without a shudder of remorse just to make sure of getting re-elected for another term; and, even more impressively, it will demonstrate a very strange, pain-making human characteristic: the flint-like inability of certain people to ever admit that they were wrong. In other words, they would rather kill an innocent man than admit that THEY were in error; their egos cannot deal with it.


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The point is this: YOU may be as innocent as Bambi the Lamb, but if other people decide you are guilty, then you are GUILTY… And probably by the time somebody — if your case remains important enough to linger in the memory — proves you were indeed NOT guilty, by then it is usually too late. Moreover, there will always be doubt in some people’s minds. A friend of mine who is a criminal case lawyer once told me a story about a case where jury selection was going on (an amazing subject for both native and non-native students of the American criminal justice system, if you are interested) — a very tedious but crucially important process in criminal law. One of the prospective jurors was asked: “Do you have any preconceived notions about the guilt or innocence of the defendant?” The fellow replied. “I sure as hell do. He’s guilty. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be sittin’ over there.”


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That’s what I mean. Just being accused can sink you. If you are a kindergarten worker or school teacher of young children and fall accused of inappropriately touching a child, you are finished, whether you are guilty or not. In the recent #MeToo epidemic (mostly in America), a mere charge of sexual misconduct has been enough to ruin whole careers. Maybe in a lot of cases, there was some level of guilt: some cases 1 out of 10, other cases 9 out of 10, etc. Perhaps even 10 out of 10. But heads rolled without what in legal terms is called ‘due process’. In Salem, Massachusetts back in May of 1693, the famous “Witch Trials” were held and 20 people were hanged. Eventually, the colony came to its senses, admitted error, and compensated the families of the dead. That didn’t help those whose necks were stretched until their tongues turned black on the scaffold.


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On the other hand, there is the longstanding assertion by the famous French novelist Honore de Balzac that “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” Cynical perhaps, considering that these illustrious names –the Fords and Rockefellers, Kennedys, and Vanderbilts — are meant to showcase once and for all the great Success Stories and Pinnacles of Achievement that makes America God’s favorite country.

Not too many of those guys did any jail time. They had good lawyers. Imposing statues in their honor spread across the land: all faces worthy of Mt. Rushmore, these bedrock pillars of the community, these sentries protecting the sanctity and goodness of America’s collective memory.

The reality was that none of those bastards would have given a starving man a slice of bread and butter.. (OK, maybe Bill Gates is a basically good guy.)


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If you carefully read historical research (not scandal-mongering, just the blemishing facts) about these wonderful Role Models, you will see them for what they were: Ego Maniacs with Clever Minds… Some were outright scoundrels. But they never went to the scaffold. And this is the same EVERYWHERE, no less in Russia than in England or America.

In fact, one of my Russian friends once told me an apparently oft-repeated joke: Q: If you steal 100 roubles, what do they call you? A. Criminal. Q.: If you steal 10,000,000,000 roubles, what do they call you? A. Oligarch.

And so, dear friends, remember that Accusation = Guilt in many circumstances. Whether it is your girlfriend or the government, and if it is the government, then you have NO CHANCE, because the government is not going to let you fuck them afterwards, whereas your girlfriend still might.

The best advice I can give you, is that if you are going to be naughty Don’t Get Caught. Because, for all the law statutes in the world and all the hallowed halls and librairies they fill, there is only ONE crime:

GETTING CAUGHT.


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No body, no crime.

So DON’T GET CAUGHT — or if you do, make sure you have a bln rubles to bribe the judge.

Otherwise, heaven help you if you are innocent and mistakenly accused. In New York or Moscow, maybe you can jump on the train and get off at the next stop, and they won’t find you. But in smaller communities, you might as well pack your suitcase ‘coz your kindergarten days are over.

There is something horrible about it, you know. A crime is committed and someone points the finger at you. Then many fingers begin to point. The police stop by to “ask a few questions”. Before you know it you are in the interrogation room being prodded and shouted at under a burning light bulb. Then you are behind bars. Soon, if you find yourself in a primitive culture, you will find yourself being led unceremoniously to the stoning pit or a noose dangling from a gibbet. At this point, if not before, you realize that they — the good people — are not kidding.


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You cry out, now desperate. But they are not listening.

The mob, rigid in united hatred and condemnation, is merely glaring at you. Some fool in a black suit mumbling out of a prayer book. In the distance, children riding bicycles, dogs barking, boys fondling their girls and vice versa.

And you going to your death. For murder. Rape. Kidnapping.

And you didn’t do it.


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===Eric Richard Leroy===


https://eric-artem.com/the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth
артем, эрик, eric, pencil, artem

Canned Laughter (and other falsifications)

Content advisory 18+ When I was a kid back in America and would watch the sit-coms on TV (which now leads me to reflect “Did I HAVE a life?”), I was always struck by the laughter that would erupt in the background every time someone said something that was supposed to be funny. Didn’t matter if it actually WAS funny — the knee-slapping merry-makers in the television studio (“coming to you all the way from NUUUUUU York City !”), or from somewhere in the back of my TV set, or the lagoons of Hell — wherever they actually were seated– would, as though shackled to some nervous-tic-reaction-machine, burst into howling gales of apparently irrepressible laughter.


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I don’t recall whether I was intuitive enough at that age to understand the reason for it — which was very simple: when everyone else commences laughing, it is natural for you to start laughing too. It doesn’t matter at what. It’s the same if you stand in the middle of the street gazing up at the sky. The next thing you know other people stop and start casting their eyes upwards as well, trying to figure out what you are looking at (which is a perfect time for you to walk away, leaving them gawking up at nothing, which was the whole idea in the first place).


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Like mob dancing, when you are at an airport or big urban station where there are a lot of people. Suddenly one person gets up and starts gyrating and swirling and swiveling, and then another and another. Soon half the station is doing it and, quite frankly, I find the overall effect rather marvelous. Street art based on human traffic.

It’s contagious, like yawning.

But laughter is the Biggee. I’ve heard there is even a form of psychological treatment known as ‘laughter therapy’. Apparently, depressed people (otherwise, why would they be there?) get together and somebody just starts laughing like hell. Har har, ho ho, hee hee. I don’t know but I would guess that an awkward moment of silence from the others would ensue, and then, “Yuck, yuck, hahaha, axaxax, moo haw haw” answers another, and before you know it the whole house is splitting its sides, phlegm and spit flying everywhere as the jubilant subjects chortle and cackle and piss themselves in a fruitless effort at regaining self-control. After that, they are healed of their depression.


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Well maybe.

But I confess to having a weakness for the mob dancing. The glory in it is that it all seems so SPONTANEOUS. Kind of renews your faith in people — I mean, all those dreary souls shuffling along on automatic pilot and then, WHAM! — the world bursts into this explosion of grace and agility and harmony. Isn’t it wonderful? Right smack-dab in the middle of the sooooo serious afternoon.

Therefore — returning to my childhood — it was a bit of a downer when my grandmother explained that, No, these weren’t real people laughing at the same moment we were watching the program on our black and white TV (though sometimes a blurb on the screen would tell us that the show had been “performed in front of a live audience”) — rather, the laughter was a recording and was designed, as I said, to entice the viewers sitting in their living rooms to laugh also. Did matter that some of the hee hee-ing and haw haw-ing throng were already dead and in their coffins? Not a bit of it. We still heard them ho-ho-ing their asses off. That’s why they called it “Canned Laughter.”


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Just like the mob dance involves apparently miscellaneous performers waiting for their cue and then bouncing into action. The effect is still great, but, alas, someone behind the scenes is pulling the strings and what seemed to have been pure creation turns out to be carefully crafted choreography.

There was once a great American tennis player named Jimmy Connors who really knew how to play to the crowd and get everyone all steamed up. After hitting a winning shot at a key moment, he would start pumping his fist and snarling at the air, as if giving himself the greatest motivational speech of all time. Of course the crowd (especially at the U.S. Open in New York) ate it up like a tub of raw oysters) and Connors himself seemed to get jacked up even more and incite the crowd further, and so it went back and forth. Connors was a genius: he made the crowd part of the action, part of the drama. Superb theater — better than most of the Broadway plays showing down the street at the same time. Of course, Connors could deliver the great shots as well.


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And so the smart-guy gurus down at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida (same place where Sharapova and her dad went years ago) decided that, in addition to instructing the kids on how to improve their tennis, they would also teach them the science of getting the crowd involved. Thus the spectacle unfolded (had you been at the academy watching) of all these strutting little tennis tykes dramatically pumping their fists at imaginary crowds, shouting savagely at the air, and, in general, preparing themselves for future magic moments at the Wimbledons of the next decade.


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Not real emotion, mind you, but Pretend emotion. Choreography. Or, to use the fabulous exhortations of American job interviewer coaches, the ways and means of “Selling Yourself.”

Fake? Yeah, I think so. Really phony. But does it matter to a World of Surfaces (the one on which we live our lives) where Appearance often tends to mean more than Reality; where Style often supersedes Substance, and where Image is Everything?

A century ago, my favorite poet William Butler Yeats, penned these short but insightful lines:


THE MASK


‘PUT off that mask of burning gold


With emerald eyes.’


‘O no, my dear, you make so bold


To find if hearts be wild and wise,


And yet not cold.’


‘I would but find what’s there to find,


Love or deceit.’


‘It was the mask engaged your mind,


And after set your heart to beat,


Not what’s behind.’


‘But lest you are my enemy,


I must enquire.’


‘O no, my dear, let all that be,


What matter, so there is but fire


In you, in me?’


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So, in his inimitable lyrical way, the poet describes how we really DO spread ourselves, like a kind of gel or secret tanning lotion — or in many cases simply cheap peanut butter — out upon the surfaces of things, like moths to glass windows when the room inside is glowing, indeed like Spider Man himself, dexterously scaling the sheer sides of the tallest buildings. OK, Spider Man is for real, but it’s the outer rim of the skyscraper that grabs his attention, not what is inside. What is inside is irrelevant: please, a voice tells us (full of servile cunning) show us the facade and not the dreary cloakrooms of the mind, the glittering smile and not the glowering soul that fills the cobwebbed inner human rooms…


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Among men and women (or any combo you like) in their endless jostle and jousting, so many of their potentially meaningful exchanges is merely fake — so it often seems — and not because it HAS to be, but rather as if by some unspoken agreement it just IS, and, anyway, do we covet the sensuality of the mask any the less simply because an empty vessel or even a conventional ghost dwells behind it? The totally cosmetic man or woman : he with botex, hair-follicle replacement, viagra, and maybe even a penile implant; she with artificial hair, eyes, lips, breasts, hips, fingernails, liposuction — and both products of the solarium — both faking their orgasms (he being too tired to connect himself to the job; she, because he does not arouse her), and both of them trying to get off by fantasizing about someone else at the office or an image merely glimpsed in the window of a passing train….


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…and yet on FaceBook they both look very happy, alone and together…

—are they really so UNhappy?

I think they are happy this way.

It reminds me of the photo-shoots that occur after weddings. The couples, airbrushed to a new level, always look so much better than in real life. Or is it that the artist preparing the keepsake album is simply able to locate, beyond the bare bones and jaws and cheeks of the newlyweds, some beautiful potential that maybe, throughout long years of commonplace matrimony, may flash to the surface like the ghost of electricity just once or twice, like sunrise on a ship at sea or a stranger’s smile on a bridge that ushers forth out of the twilight for no reason?


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And maybe they ARE happy. Or maybe they have never asked themselves — perhaps better that way. Or maybe Happiness is just the idea that they/we choose from among other sentiments, because so often when we look back, long after all the surface experiences have been filmed, recorded, set in frames, and put on the mantelpiece to gather dust — it is to those we return when the stage-players of our moments are long gone — to the years or to the grave — and we look back and allow past illusions to swallow us whole again, like a train dipping down into a black tunnel — and suddenly everything we pretended somehow seems to have been real after all. The partial truth and even the bald-faced lie conspire to reform the illusions and reaffirm as genuine all that they once aspired to be.


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Just as we too often found ourselves as actors in moments that were never true and building futures that would never take place, so we, implacable, undaunted architects that we are, finally set about conjuring up a YESTERDAY in which some of our dreams actually came to pass in the manner we first visualized them.

At sundown, satisfied with our creation, we stop in a cafe and get slightly tipsy.


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Then, as we walk along on windy autumn streets, watching young people on their evening promenades wearing the bright, tight sweaters that are preludes to the naked warmth they will soon share in rooms now beyond us, we will say: We wore those uniforms once ourselves; we say: Yes, that was happiness. That was when we were really and truly Happy.


===Eric Richard Leroy===


https://eric-artem.com/canned-laughter-and-other-falsifications
артем, эрик, eric, pencil, artem

DONNY and VLAD: Post Mortems of Helsinki

Content advisory 18+ The off-the-charts hullabaloo after Helsinki (Donny and Vlad) has gotten so ridiculous that I once more feel compelled to seize my figurative pen and get to work. The problem is that the folks who most need to read what I have to say here simply won’t — because the kind of American trolls who soil cyberspace with their dim-witted posts don’t know how to absorb much beyond messages scrawled on the walls of public toilets. The people who peruse MEDIUM don’t, as a rule, need any tutoring, so maybe this is a waste of breath and space.


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But here goes.

Americans. and Russians. The sad fact is that neither, taken as a whole, really know much about the other. This in spite of all the technology. In America, white people and black people STILL haven’t really figured each other out, so how in the hell can anyone expect the average American to grasp much about the real Russia? Instead they rely on such all-knowing authorities as John McCain. Or they watch movies which ALWAYS depict Russians as frozen-eyed, malevolent spies walking around with poison-tipped umbrellas. A load of bollocks, in other words.


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During the Soviet period, Russians were not allowed to travel freely and couldn’t have afforded to anyway. Even now, the vast majority of Russians never leave Russia, and if they do, they go to cheap nearby places like Egypt. And just get drunk. (The more affluent sojourn everywhere, but sometimes getting a visa is a problem; hence the popularity of Thailand, and even distant ports of call such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic. And since the Western-imposed sanctions have fucked everything up economically, many settle for Sochi and the Crimea.) Think of it like this: Russia has 11 time zones. That’s right: e-l-e-v-e-n. It’s one helluva train ride across the country (six days, 9288 km) and a flight is about eight and a half hours from Moscow to Vladivostok. There are a lot of poor people along the way. To express it succinctly, they do NOT possess a cosmopolitan view of the world. They get most of their news from the State-controlled “First Channel.” Say no more — if you have ever seen the news as presented on First Channel. (You haven’t but I have.) Or just keep repeating the word “censorship” under your breath.


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The Americans? Well. For a start, never before has there been, in its general mentality, so provincial an empire as the United States. Trying to rule the world by proxy, the Americans nonetheless rarely learn a foreign language, can’t find half of the rest of the planet on a map, and think of Europe as a cute, quaint playground where people play a funny kind of un-American football and have a lot of pretty churches. OK OK OK, I am making gross generalizations and mostly playing it for laughs, but it is truer than you think.

One massive difference that comes to mind is infrastructure. In the USA (as well as Canada and most of Western Europe), you do not fall off the edge of the world as soon as you leave the Big City. If you hang your hat in Sheboygan or Piscataway or Moscow, Idaho or Rome, Georgia, you can still see the Big Match on cable TV and your car will have asphalt under its wheels all the way home. If you or your dog get sick, a doctor can be found. A real doctor, that is. There is no guarantee of this in many parts of Russia, what is commonly just referred to as “the regions.” Nor is there any question that the alcoholic despair which haunts so much of Russia comes from the hopelessness of living in one-factory towns where the one factory closed years ago. A sad affair which even the trailer-park bleakness and stench of certain pockets of America can not hold a candle to.


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As a teenager I was condemned to live in Florida (a sentence of many years, as it turned out). Coming from the hills of West Virginia where a lot of folks were just learning that you should wipe your ass after going to the toilet, I thought that Florida was the Promised Land. I understood that the South of that era (The 1960s) was a hotbed of vicious racism, but somehow I thought that Florida would be exempt from all that, a kind of oasis in the desert. Boy, was I wrong.


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On the surface all that has changed. We dare not utter the ’N-word’ (what a puerile expression — ‘N-word’, like something a naughty child might get his mouth washed out with soap for saying), but essentially the provincial, small-town mentality still prevails beneath a superficial, often ‘corporate’ pose, an ersatz sophistication. Likewise (and here Russia is really no different in the xenophobic Putin era), Americans — knowing that God is on their side — always feel the need to identify some external Evil to be feared, hated…and conquered. All in the name of The Lord and Democracy. For a long time now, Russia has fulfilled this comic book-level role and fed this M & Ms and Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks American appetite for indulging itself amid the guffaws and giggles of the Saturday morning cartoons.


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The truth is, surprise, surprise, that Americans and Russians ARE different in many respects. Culture will do that to you. In the most essential ways, however, they are virtually identical. If you sit in a bar watching American football, most of the guys sitting around you are GOOD GUYS. If you sit in a bar in Russia watching Spartak vs CSK, most of the guys sitting around you are GOOD GUYS. Russian women seek (fruitlessly it sometimes appears) decent men who can hold a job, be a good father, not drink too much, and be an adequate lover. Most American women who have any interest at all in building a family want the same thing.


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There is great truth in the adage that “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” So if you are a fuck-up in America, do not come to Russia imagining that this will solve your problem. And vice versa. If you are a good guy or a good gal (I could make this sound more ‘intellectual’ if I wanted to), people will figure it out eventually and they will like you. If you are a freak or a bad apple, they will suss that out too. And they probably won’t like you. If you are a fellow like me who has always had a weakness for women with sexy foreign accents, it can come as a startling epiphany when you suddenly realize that Svetlana is really no different from Megan, that Tatiana is a lot like Jennifer. They just sounded different at first….


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But of course there ARE differences, some of them profound. It might take several blogs to get through all this, and I hope you will bear with me, but here are a few off the top of my head. First, it seems to me that Americans (and Brits) steadfastly believe in the Future. They invest in it. For all their bickering and bitching, Americans are certain that their main institutions are going to last. I mean, how in the hell could The Greatest Nation the World has ever Known remain as such if most of its citizens believed it was all going to come tumbling down around their ears at any moment?? Moreover, because it has been a long, long time (try 1865) since a battle was fought on American soil, the average American might likely define ‘war’ as “a situation where you get to sit in front of a TV screen and eat your triple decker cheeseburger while watching your Air Force drop bombs and blow the hell out of another country.”


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This explains why the Trade Towers catastrophe so traumatized and left such an enduring impression on the American people. It was like a wake-up call: “Hey, can this REALLY be happening to US?” Yep. It sure can. America, therefore, is part Redneck Cowboy culture and part Disney World, all commanded by the Monolithic Corporate Monster in whose hands the real power lies. And, damn right, they believe in the future. And they will tolerate no vision of the bombs falling on THEM.

Russians do not believe in the Future. (Well, I guess that few of the mainstream would have predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union — but not because of its might or presumed durability, rather because in the Soviet Union, Time didn’t really matter to the peasant mentality of the average Russian person stranded somewhere across an inconceivably vast landscape. The future didn’t matter because Time didn’t matter.) Furthermore, if the axiom that “Past is Prologue” is true — and I think it usually is (past behavior is a reliable predictor of future behavior, etc), then the Russian people can hardly be blamed for their skepticism. The past was rarely good to the Russians, despite the Herculean efforts of Mr. Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church to reinvent it.


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In my experience, Russians almost NEVER believe anything they are told, especially if the information comes from higher up. There are more conspiracy theories in Russia than fleas on a homeless Alabama dog in the summer. The reason for this is that they have been lied to by their own government from time immemorial (but haven’t we all?) while feeling (unlike Americans !) powerless to change anything. The most typical answer that a Russian will give to ANY question is either “Maybe” or simply Silence followed by a shrug of the shoulders (translated: “Who knows and who cares?”). In America, if the escalator in the subway breaks down at a big station, it is expected that someone will come and fix it soon, and if they don’t get there in like a nano second and a half, a great, swelling “WTF ????” rises to the rafters. In Russia, it will just stay as it is, unfixed, until the lazy and uncaring authorities finally get round to it. Americans expect and demand all the creature comforts; in Russia the government cares NOTHING about making life convenient for the people.


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The result is that Americans often come across as a bunch of spoiled brats to the rest of the world. Russians have seen their world come crashing down many, many times. Some of them from the days of Hitler’s invasion are still around. They remember. Americans have no concept of the suffering of the Soviet/ Russian people. None whatsoever. And if the American government is well represented by crooks and fools, it is NOTHING compared to the invincible greed, viciousness, dishonesty, corruption, and (at the lower levels) insanely idiotic inefficiency and ineptitude of Russian government. THIS is why the Russians have such a reputation for being a nation of cheats and swindlers. The government has abused its citizens for centuries, and Russian people therefore have had no choice but to learn to lie and cheat in return. For Survival. Imagine that, Americans! Imagine living your life trying to SURVIVE your own government! (Some hysterical fools used to bellow doomsday crap about Obama and many now shriek the same way about Trump — all bullshit. The American system of checks and balances is there to prevent the ascendancy of extremism — and it works.)


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It does not help that Russian people, for all their love of a good drunken punch-up (these people are NOT cowards, do not EVER think that) are basically Passive. Too passive. An American will get pissed off and scream to the high heavens if his coffee isn’t hot enough at the local diner. Russians all have memories of family members who simply disappeared. Vanished from the streets. Gulags. KGB. That kind of stuff. To the average Russian person, Americans seem like children.

The American beats his chest and jumps up and down and wants his coffee REALLY hot and his Pepsi REALLY cold. The Russian simply shakes his head and smiles, saying under his breath: “Дурак”, and walks away to solve his own problems because NO ONE is going to solve them for him.


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In my ten years in Russia, I met the best of people. A few bad ones to be sure. But I was happy there. Evil Empire? Puleeezzzz. Give me a break.


===Eric Richard Leroy===


https://eric-artem.com/donny-and-vlad-post-mortems-of-helsinki
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All The Cheesecake in the World

Content advisory 18+ There is a longstanding question which asks us if we -- given the opportunity -- would prefer to know when we will die or instead linger in the perpetual (until the chopping block moment) suspense of NOT knowing. I haven't taken a survey, but it seems that most people would choose not to know. Me? Well, I'm not sure.


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The pros and cons? Obviously, if we understood in advance (as terminally ill patients in the modern era usually do), we would have plenty of time to, as they say, put our house in order. This would have considerable practical value (arranging finances, making sure our last Will and Testament was rendered in the form we really wanted -- assuming we still had anything to give away) and also offer us a chance to do a bit of grandstanding: profuse apologies to those we had wronged, poetical toasts to old lovers while sipping the last of the summer wine, a final great holiday, etc. The problem would come when the witching hour approached. Some of our guests would stay to hold our hands; others would flee the sinking ship as fast as they could. From either side, no help at all, not really. That’s why they call it Death.


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My grandfather, by contrast, was not told that he was dying of cancer (1978). The consensus was that he couldn't handle the news. So they just started feeding him morphine as he got worse and worse. As his speech slurred and he gazed slantingly around the room, mumbling to himself and pointing an accusing finger at everyone, I tried to guess (as I sat there) what he was thinking: "Sonuvabitch, I feel like shit today. Wonder what it could be?" Something like that.

The alternative -- dying on the spot without warning -- would preclude all the belated celebrations mentioned above, but likewise spare us the mounting misery of shearing our scalps, putting on the winding sheet, removing our shoes, and opening our arms to accept the cold hug of the Reaper. You might, for example, be arguing with your wife. "Olga, If I have to tell you this one more time, goddammit..." -- and there it ends. Or you are watching the Cup Final, and just as your favorite player is set to make the winning kick....down you go. Kaput.


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As the old Beatle John Lennon said, prophetically, alas, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."

I have some friends who like to wear special (smart) watches which monitor such things as how many steps they have taken that day and how well they slept the night before. Apparently (since I don't own one), these watches are kind of like digital medical babysitters. To quote from something I read this morning, smartwatches "have now gone past keeping track of time, to keeping track of our body vitalities and environmental conditions... atmospheric temperature and pressure...heart rate, calories, blood pressure, sleep tracking." Track, track, track.


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The author beamingly concludes that wearing one of these gadgets is like having a "doctor's kit with you as you walk along the street." The message seems to be that, if you know all these things (your pulse rate at any given moment, etc), you are much better off than if you don't.

I have another friend who, in his mid-forties, appears to be in excellent health. He rides his bicycle around his section of Moscow in the early morning, doesn't booze it up, and to all appearances has nothing to worry about. For some reason, however, he has decided that he needs to consult a professional dietician, and he will pay this guru whatever he asks in exchange for...what? A new menu? A list of vitamin supplements?


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Suggestions as to what organic food should henceforth be consumed?

Without trying to fuck my friend's brain, I kind of sweated him as to why he felt the need for this. I mean, he is an ultra-clever guy, he can look up stuff on the internet, and he could, if he wanted to, simply rely on common sense. At length Petr admitted that he just feels the need to have everything organized and put in neat little rows. To illustrate his point, he showed me (this was during our Skype English lesson) the rack where he keeps all his kitchen knives (not bread knives, I am speaking of the larger cutlery). Every knife, he explained carefully, goes in a certain place, and if the maid happens to arrange them in the wrong order, shock-waves spread throughout his system until he can restore sanity, govern the chaos, and put everything back as the Good Karma Fairy intended.


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Thus, the official diet. He will be provided with a strict to-do (or must-do) list which he will follow until...until he becomes bored with it and forgets about it in the midst of some other great new idea that comes surging through his immense mind. Meanwhile, his mentality seems thus: "Hey we have the INFORMATION. Why not use it?" In this regard, my friend's thinking is on the same page as the smartwatch wearers who seek digital confirmation constantly of whether they are living their lives properly or not.

Or not. Aye, there's the rub. And here, I am afraid, is where my slightly sarcastic (and old-fashioned) side slips in. Without question, most of the smartwatch crowd number themselves among the IT specialists, corporate so-and-so's, and generally sedentary types who spend most of their time in front of a computer. So if the smart-watch tells you the obvious-- that you haven't taken 'enough steps' today -- what do you do? Walk to the toilet and back 50 times just to log in an extra kilometer?


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I would go crazy if I obsessed about that kind of thing. I will give you an example. I am an old athlete and continue to work out like crazy.. Plus, I walk my dogs at least twice a day -- long treks up and down the hills and through the forest. I eat what I want, but lately (since I am no longer in Moscow and backpacking through the city 7 days a week with a rucksack full of English books), I found that my stomach was getting too big, so I have simply put a curfew on the food -- nothing substantial after 18.00. Well, sometimes I screw up, but what the hell? Alcohol? I used to be a proper piss-head; now it is twice a week on good Bulgarian beer -- and that's it. It just makes sense and, anyway, my wife Liuba is there to crack the whip if I start to go astray. In short, I am not trying for miracles, hence no "miracle diet" -- I merely do what works, and sometimes this is arrived at by trial-and-error. What I DO know is that miracles are for couch potatoes and that there is NO MAGIC PILL.


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I also suffer from a condition called bradycardia -- in other words, heart arrhythmia. I found out during a check up about 6 months ago when it turned out that my blood pressure was high. 159/109 that day. High. And my pulse was 42. VERY low. The doctor put me on some pills and within three days the problem was solved. The last time I took my blood pressure (about a month ago) it was fine. I haven't bothered with it ever since. Anyway, my father had the same thing and he lived to be 90.


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The question is: would I be better off -- I mean really, seriously better off -- if I went around checking this every ten minutes? Do you know what I think? I think I would go crazy. So I don't. Instead, I go out to my new Sports Palace which my wife and I and a local gypsy built to keep firewood in and for me to do my boxing workouts with the heavy bag. I do 10 three-minute rounds at top speed, and at this time of the year it gets plenty hot out there.

I think I am doing the right thing. I am doing what I have done to stay alive -- what has worked so far -- all my life. If I started getting dizzy or something, I would stop. Mere fatigue is bullshit -- it means nothing. 10 rounds.

In California, I am told that they are required by law to list on every food item how many calories it has. Wow. So imagine that it's your birthday and you go out with your friends. At the end of the meal you really, truly, desperately want a Big Piece of Cheesecake. BUT !!!!!!! -- your Big Data tells you that you have exceeded your daily allotment of calories. SORRY BUB, no cheesecake for YOU !


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My advice? Live well enough so that you don't have to say "I am sorry" too often, get all your celebrations in while you have time, eat the biggest piece of cheesecake you can handle, and then go out to your own Sports Palace and work it off. And, above all, if you need a smart-watch to show you the way, you are doing something wrong.


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Lose the watch. Change your life. And die when you're damned good and ready to, not a minute sooner.


===Eric Richard Leroy===


https://eric-artem.com/all-the-cheesecake-in-the-world
артем, эрик, eric, pencil, artem

Women in Red. Beggars.

Content advisory 18+ Really? All these years for nothing? You are still looking for the Woman in Red? Man, look out, there are agents Smiths coming!

Welcome to the Matrix… You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes…


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Ok. Your choice. I actually do have opinion about beggars, Eric and Adrita; I even researched a topic sociologically in Russia, and it appeared that most were scammers (the easiest way to verify – if person asks for the ticket back home and you buy one – next day – same person same place ; or drug addicts who lost their body parts due to the bad syringe or…well, not before the night – they claim to be from war – one of those keep going all around our crazy world).


tenor 3And here comes the grinder. Actually when people give money to the beggars they show that there is a profit in it. People tend to try to get money from the profitable business, right? So, just when you put the money in the dirty hand of a poor child, the claws cling. It is useful to force this child to beg. It is useful to hurt him so he will look more fragile, more, well…poor. When this guy grows older, the worst thing that could happen to him is that someone will cut off his body parts to seduce you into a compassion state of mind…or just give him the terrible drugs, which melt organic matter, mainly proteins, so that person will rot alive, with unbearable pain, losing finger after finger (ok, usually the whole hand, to tell the truth).

Go on, yes, give him the money! Or, better, just give him cicuta to save him from all the pain…


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There is a reason why many governments try to fight begging. One of them described above. Second is that actually this person imposes a kind of tax on you. A tax by crime bosses.

Well, what about the advice from the Book? Does all my speech mean that I do not help people (or at least tell you not to do this for the more smooth road to hell)?

No. I do help people. Mostly I pay for elderly people when they cannot buy high-level medicine in the pharmacy. Also, I try to support orphanages with the ready goods – clothes, smartphones, etc. Of course I should remove shop labels from them to prevent reselling by the orphanage administration.


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Come on. It is easy. We just don’t actually care. It gives us pleasure and self-respect to understand that we helped someone. So easy to give money right now to this guy. Don’t go anywhere, don’t think it over, don’t prepare, don’t verify…

Your choice. Your decision to make. Your path to take. Choose the pill.


red pill


===Artem Kovalev===


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https://www.eric-artem.com/women-in-red-beggars
артем, эрик, eric, pencil, artem

Серый Русский

Контент 18+ Осень пришла в Москву в середине июля, проливной дождь рвется струями с бесконечного серого неба, поглощая пешеходов, машины, плитку без дренажа, не щадя ни офисы Москва-Сити, сверкающие стеклом и металлом символы власти человека над долей секунды чужой непрожитой жизни, ни старые косящиеся девятиэтажные дома, которые по ошибке названы “жильем”.


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Город дышит задыхающимися от сероводорода людьми, переваривая всё без остатка, и тем быстрее тех, кто забыл одну простую истину.

Единственное, что мы имеем на самом деле - время. Именно им мы платим за все, именно его теряем. Каждый может оценить стоимость своего времени, просто взяв household income и поделив на количество часов в месяце. Например, 100 000 рублей дадут...138 рублей за час. То есть получается, что 138 рублей в час дали бы возможность не работать. Или, если тратишь больше 138 рублей в час - живешь во временной кредит. Может у кого есть свои идеи интерпретации? Так или иначе, хорошая шоколадка стоит часа твоей жизни, аноним.


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Город плывет, волны захлестывают метро, ускоряя поток, и огромные тоннели пожирают, проталкивают и вы..ладно, пусть будет выталкивают наружу. Как вариант - перемещаться внутри капсулы.

Но время всегда идет назад. Да, твое время идет назад. Не это абстрактное время на часах - ведь так ли уж важно будет именно тебе, останется ли время потом - твое личное.

I see your red door, and I want to paint it black. Because otherwise you won’t see the truth.

Шестерни вращаются, перемалывая тех, кто верит исключительно в светлое будущее, забывая о том, что время идет сейчас.

Ночью в городских окнах светятся голубые экраны, и там, за этими узкими окнами, сидят люди, прикованные к ним. Они не могут перестать платить этому свету, идущему к ним от огромных башен, питающихся киловаттами электричества. Башни передают волны... и люди слушают, и начинают верить, и тихо, мирно, без неожиданностей, отдают свое время. Есть те, кто говорит, что нужно менять тех, кто вещает из башен...но, как говорили Стругацкие:”А почему истинное назначение башен скрывают от рядовых подпольщиков? А потому что большинство в штабе надеется захватить власть и использовать башни по-старому, но для других целей. Для каких "других"?”...


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Потому что всем нужно ваше время. И мне с Эриком тоже. Ведь читая наши посты, вы, вероятно, кликнете на рекламу, и мы получим доход от клика. Или хотя бы сделаете нас чуть более известными. Хотя мы искренне надеемся, что получим больше времени, чем потратим.

No-one could be made better off without making someone else worse off. Remember this. Write it down, because most people tend not to tell you about this tiny fact.

Но я расскажу...because if there is nothing else to say, than somethings’ wrong…


tenor 1 1


Вы ценны сами по себе. Без городов, башен, ящиков, камер, без этого вечного дождя, ядерного вооружения, глобального потепления.

Вы всего сможете добиться, если действительно этого захотите. Потому что пока вы не отдали свое время, оно принадлежит вам. Да, мы все равно взаимодействуем, и потому платим. Но у вас есть выбор, а именно отсутствие выбора - то, что пытаются внушить желающие отнять ваше время.


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Верьте в себя.

Не любая выигранная война действительно выиграна, ведь бывают Пирровы победы. По жизни вам будут встречаться люди, их еще называют assholes, которые будут убеждать вас, что вы ничего не стоите. Это не так. У вас еще осталось время. У вас еще осталась голова (иначе вы бы это не читали). Верьте в себя. Вы все можете.

One...Two...Three...IGNITION!

===Артем Ковалев===

И помните - всегда будут те, кто строит башни. Всегда будут те, кто говорит, что важнее вас. Но это не так. Просто очень выгодно так говорить. Люди платят за слова таких людей. Временем жизни.


Написано под:


"Paint it Black" by Ciara and same song by Rolling Stones


"Wild World" by Cat Stevens


"Corruptor" by Daniel Deluxe


https://eric-artem.com/%d1%81%d0%b5%d1%80%d1%8b%d0%b9-%d1%80%d1%83%d1%81%d1%81%d0%ba%d0%b8%d0%b9
артем, эрик, eric, pencil, artem

How I Deal with the Poor

Content advisory 18+ I just caught Adrita’s article about beggars in India. I can only imagine what a nightmare it must be in places like that. Of course, the homeless and hapless are everywhere and must be dealt with one way or the other. As with the prison system, the question involves the push-pull between blame and compassion. Should we despise beggars or try to help them? I used to have a kind of girlfriend in London (we slept together a few times) that I had known at university when we were doing the Sociology degree. I had always wanted her back in Bath, but it wasn’t until I caught up with her in London (where she had indeed become a social worker) that I had my brief roll in the hay with her. She had, alas, become terribly disillusioned with The Poor.


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“We do everything we can for them, but they will not help themselves at all !” she lamented. “We give them vouchers for the good-will shop to get clean clothes and they never turn up.” Etc. I don’t know what that woman finally decided to do. Maybe she still tries to help. Maybe not. It was 1979. London of a different era. Is it different now? Apparently not. The Poor are everywhere. It is a problem no civilization has ever solved.

Among the many crazy ideas that people have come up with, the British — in the days leading up to and beyond the Industrial Revolution — believed that if you were poor if was because you deserved it or because, in the grand order of things – this was what God had assigned you to be. It was a great way of justifying the Class System. If you were one of the have-nots, it was simply God’s Will. No point trying to go against God, is there? It’s like Calvinism, another marvelous religion of the day. In this grand scheme, there were ‘The Elect” — the ones God had already decided would join him in Heaven before the Dawn of Civilization had even started.Therefore, it was like a fixed boxing or football match — Creation was already a Done Deal. So let God’s Elect enjoy the golden boulevards and angelic rock concerts of Paradise and let the other bastards starve because “God wants it that way !”.


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But there were always those who saw through this self-justifying donkey-shit dogma and tried to find a way to help. In the more advanced countries we now see numerous social services that meet with varying degrees of success. In the perennially non-developing “developing” nations, the poor just starve, get sick, and die. What to do?


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Some say everything is relative, and the longer I live (if you discount the fact that the dying process actually goes to work pretty early — it’s just subtle — so I COULD say ‘the longer I die’), the more I start to wonder if anything has any meaning at all. More and more, it all seems like so much blah-blah. To this I attribute the overload of crap we have to deal with, endless marketing of junk, recycling of junk, junk food, junk cinema, junk science, junk psychology, junk technology, junk people. Junk blogs. Everybody writes a blog nowadays. Does it matter if any of it is any good or not? It is really just a way to get attention.


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When I see poor people in the street I do not assign blame. I am just glad I am not one of them. If I have money and I am in a decent mood, I will dole some out. I never preach or say things like “God bless you” or “Buy food, not alcohol.” I don’t care what they buy. I am not there to judge them. In fact I HOPE they buy alcohol. If my 50 rubles can purchase them 30 pain-free minutes, why not? If you assign blame, it implies that correctable wrongdoing has occurred and — Shucks !!! — if everyone would just get off the sofa, pull their socks up and put things right, then, by golly, we could make this here doggone world a really neat and cool place, Yuck- Yuck !


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I don’t think so. Technology changes every nano-second, but human character does not. At least it hasn’t in the nearly seven decades I have been alive. Nor according to the books I have read, books describing life that goes a long way back — it wasn’t different then either. People sucked in the past and they suck now. They sucked in the Old Testament. They sucked during the Roman Empire. They sucked during the Middle Ages. They sucked during the 20th Century. They sucked and suck. In the meantime, it must be said the past also had its share of quiet heroes that just went about their business and tried to clean up after themselves and help whomever they could. I have attempted to be one of them, at least some of the time, especially back when I thought that we could and would all BE BETTER.. At least I made the right noises. Probably didn’t really DO a hell of a lot, come to think of it. Just talked and dreamed.


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Well, we haven’t gotten better and we won’t. The sad souls whom we Winners see as the Losers in this world are simply an inevitable by-product. It’s nothing to do with God, because God isn’t there, and if he was, ‘He’ wouldn’t care. He wouldn’t lift a finger. So it is up to us — the people — to decide — and we are basically no better than we ever were, regardless of all the blather about ‘’Human Rights’ we are fed all the time. So nothing is ever going to change unless technology simply, one of these days, makes us unrecognisably different from what we are now. Maybe turns us all into computers and robots. Wouldn’t surprise me one idiota…


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Well, at least we don’t burn people at the stake anymore. But we still water-board them and give them lethal injections. The Americans do that, and they are the cream of the crop supposedly.

Everybody who ends up on the street has a story to tell. Or they would have if they could still talk coherently, which a lot of them can’t. A part of me still cares, but not like I used to. I finally realized that I can’t save the world. More than people, I try to help animals, especially dogs.


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My feeling is that the dogs didn’t create this filthy, fucked up mess that the earth remains: overcrowded with shrieking ego-maniacs on the one hand and half-dead beggars on the other. I just live in it. Nothing I will ever say, do, or write will make the slightest difference, and when I die I will be forgotten in a week — if that long.

THAT is reality. So I feed the dogs, the cats, the pigeons. I love them and they don’t trick or punish me for loving them. It is a pleasure to help animals.

People ? OK, buddy, here’s 50 rubles. Get drunk. Have a ball.


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===Eric Richard Leroy===


https://eric-artem.com/how-i-deal-with-the-poor
артем, эрик, eric, pencil, artem

Poorless? Beggars in India

Content advisory 14+ We encounter them every day, we see right through them as if they are invisible, walk past them silently without acknowledging their incessant calls. Yes, I am talking about the beggars on the streets of India.


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We all have mixed emotions when it comes to beggars. When I was young, I was taught to be kind and giving. When I was around eight, one day I was travelling with my dad in the local train. As usual, a beggar got on it singing for alms and dad ignored him. After we had reached our destination and were walking towards home, he told me, “You might think I am heartless, but we work to earn our livelihood and so should everyone else. If you give him money now, he will never try to earn his living and thus will not ever contribute to the community.” Seemed logical.


For a many years afterwards I used to walk past these poor people without helping any one of them, even though at the odd occasions I felt a kind of gnawing shame. Weird. One day before school, I was walking with my best friend through the by-lanes when an elderly moderately well-off woman approached us and asked for money. We were confused considering her attire and while my best friend wanted to hand over her pocket money promptly, I stopped her and instead offered her our tiffin (a kind of cake consisting of crushed nuts, syrup, and a coat of chocolate). She didn’t want them and we walked away.


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Fast forward to college. One day a man approached us for money for treatment of his son. Being the blissfully ignorant first year students (treatment in all government hospitals in India including medicine is for free or at nominal costs) , my friends handed over some cash to him and we found out we had been scammed when we encountered the same man dealing the same story to another group. Needless to say, he didn’t come around again.


One day I was stuck waiting at a traffic light with my boyfriend when a teenage boy approached our Uber asking for money, and, being the heartless person, I am, I ignored him while my boyfriend gave him some money. Then he said, “Bhaiya bhook lagi hain, thoda aur do na” (Brother, I am hungry please give me some more) and I looked in disbelief when he handed over some more. I was like, “Why did you give him so much money, he is only going to spend it all on drugs” and as if to prove my point, I followed the teenage boy with my eyes. He was at the roadside food stall and he was handing over the money for some food. The light turned green and the car moved forward and I wished we could have given him some more.


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The question is, are all beggars no more than scammers? No. No one likes to beg, except a select few who are simply cheaters. We all fall upon hard times, some are worse off than others and it is our duty to extend a helping hand towards the helpless. It took a lot of time for me to come to terms with this less than altruistic side of me, or maybe the part of me whose natural generosity has been somewhat stifled by some unsavory incidents, and I pledged to change myself.


Does that mean I have become a philanthropist on a student budget? No. In my mind I have categorized beggars into five categories — the children, the worshippers, the nursing mothers, the handicapped and the elderly — and I deal with them differently. I try to give food to the street children and plead with them to go to the local school. To them, I don’t give money. The worshippers and the nursing mothers I tend to ignore since most of them are young women who could easily get work if they wished to. And I donate alms to the handicapped and the elderly.


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However things might be, we should always stop to help a person in need.


I would like to invite Eric and Artem to share their much more mature views on the topic than my ignorant one!


===Roopsa===


https://eric-artem.com/poorless-beggars-in-india
артем, эрик, eric, pencil, artem

The Only One Who Knows

Content advisory 18+ Without ever having been a surfer, I remember watching a film a long time ago about surfing. It was called ”The Endless Summer” and it showed (endlessly) the magnificent, bronzed guy surfers (Wow !– if only I were gay !!!) as they sat on the waves, dipping and slanting at just the precise instant, simultaneously gliding, dictating terms to the sea, and then being abruptly devoured, violently engulfed. Artists of August. I guess they were off the coast of California, and you just knew that these peroxided studs had the pick of all the bleached-blond, big-breasted Bir Sur girls. What a summer. And, of course, it would never end. (I sat in West Virginia trying to get rid of my acne).


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It did, though. End, I mean. Those gods and goddesses are old or dead by now, and I, who haven’t crunched a ripe zit in ages) I am not laughing at them. Not at all. A touch of sadness creeps in. For now I know that there comes a point in mid-summer, sort of like in mid-life (except we don’t know when that is, do we?) when something tells us to STOP. Look around. Reflect. Or perhaps this pensiveness should afflict (but it doesn’t !) especially those soldiers of youth who one day will find themselves informed, via a single cruel event or maybe only a handful of seemingly innocuous signs, that they have turned a strange corner, and left a boulevard in life which was sunny-copper and warm, only to find themselves on a different street in a forlorn district of abandoned warehouses where no matinees’ are showing, where the crowds are suddenly thin, and on these hawk-like asphalt smears the wind is coughing and belching like a witch.


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I have always had the strange sensation that there is a little bald-headed man — a kind of gnome or elf or seriously truncated dwarf, who sits on my shoulder at all times. My shoulder is the lookout tower from which he observes the world and all that’s in it. He is utterly impassive; he just sits there and watches me live my life, offering not a word of counsel, approval, or disapproval. And whereas I am always burning with passion, consumed by this fire or that, my detached and unpretending partner just perches there, sometimes looking almost bored (that’s the only thing close to a human expression I have noticed) as though his hairless head contains all the centuries that have ever been. He does not judge me; he only observes. If I would be hanged, and if I stood sweating on the gallows, with gibbet and halter, the fear of death wailing inside me like a coyote with its paw in a trap, he would simply hunch forward and observe — nothing but a cold scientist until the end. Where he would go after that, I don’t know.


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Obviously, there is no such little man sitting on my shoulder. But I talk about him as if he were real. And that is because, in a sense, he is. Let me put it this way: I have never been so drunk or terrified or confused that another voice in me was not saying, a cucumber of calm: You are drunk, terrified, confused. In other words, one part of me always knew what was happening to the other part. A side of me was always watching. Can you imagine, looking back on the horrors of history, what people must have felt like when they knew what was happening or about to happen? About to be disemboweled or burned at the stake? Try that one out to exercise your imagination. Joan of Arc herself must have heard, even as she struggled, the voice of reason, the voice of reality, the coldest voice of all, saying ”Joan, they are setting fire to you.” And the rest, all dying voices, were lost in the flames. All but that one cold cynic wearing the gray flannels of reality. Sitting on her shoulder. Telling her, as it really happened: “It is really happening, Joan!”


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To me, this apparent division between Self as Participant and Self as Observer, captures the complementary dichotomy — the yin and yang (the way opposites influence each other in a way that is both antithetical and mutually beneficial) — of my existence, which is comprised of an almost maniacal yearning to participate in life to the fullest, coupled with an equally powerful magnetic pull in the opposite direction, a mechanical state of mind consisting of only pure objectivity. It is as though the stones I originally emerged from possess still a residual control over me.


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I note with some chagrin that, as I get older, that cold facts — blunt and unsoothing like a shower in prison– seem to weigh more on my mind than most of the old fictions, suffused as they are with thin hopes and desperate imaginings. That manly country swain of the folktales, that voluptuous (but ridiculously naive) milkmaid that wanders amid the flocks — they always find each other, don’t they? — and after florid adventures live sweetly upon the rocks, listening to the distant horns of the landowner’s fox-hunt, and the baying hounds. That rosy coupling makes for alabaster children, plump and happy. Then come the productive Middle Years of growing maturity, awareness and profit, followed on by a graceful, gentle old age knowingly endured by the seasoned lovers in their stately, austere gardens of elderly, faithful roses. Death, finally, and prayers for the dead. Autumn leaves piling around the gates of the cemetery., nostalgically recalling the goodness of life. But I was never there. It didn’t happen to me. I just stood at the edge of the story-book and gazed in, like someone peering down the deepest well in the world.


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In the summer here in the village, the flowers are full (although I see that they bloom and die at different times: tulips in the spring (then they vanish); roses in the early summer (then they fade), and later, so I am told, again there will be roses, a brittle season of ephemeral new roses that will only die again…Strange but I did not know any of that before I came here. I crossed many fields but I suppose I never really looked down or came to know them as I should have…


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In the city we learn to keep up with the rapid, helter-skelter, herky-jerky rush of things. We are trapped in the nano-second as we hurtle toward our temporary results, and so we notice, we admire, we identify and associate with only the breakneck-speed aspects of life. And the people we reward the most in this Age of Internet Technology Enlightenment are those who can ‘multitask’ the quickest and most efficiently. Or appear to. But I am not here to argue whether that is good or bad.


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Rather only to make note of the fact that in the countryside of Bulgaria one witnesses the apparently stationary growth, or, better, soundless evocation and progress, of living forms that are non-human (neither mammal nor animal, reptile nor rodent), watching them instead rise out of the earth and become whatever they are supposed (I don’t want to say ‘programmed’) to become, without my intervention or interference. We think of them as plants, and they have no brains, therefore they cannot think. Yet they are alive. How peculiar.


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I remember once, in Moscow, a dear friend of mine left me with a lot of plants to take care of, as indeed she had taken care of lovingly herself before returning to America.. I had the keys, I could have gone in and watered the plants. But they were ONLY plants, and I forgot. Besides, I was living somewhere else by then. But one day I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to water these plants to which I had been entrusted. So I went there and opened the door (this was a couple of months later), and…what I saw was like the St, Valentine’s Day Massacre or maybe just a concentration camp full of dead and emaciated corpses. These were the dead plants and they stared at me, not accusingly, but with a kind of blank and amazed sorrow. Why did you forget us? How could you???


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Take, for example, the sunflowers. During the winter all trace of them disappeared, leaving only the barren, humped sprawl of sloping fields where they had been, brandishing their yellow fire throughout all the hot months. Their renewed potential then lay moribund under the March frost, barely stirring amid the ambiguities of April and the slowly changing face of May. Then in June they came shooting up out of the ground almost overnight, immediately tall and apple green — like the ‘jolly green giants’ of an old American television commercial I remember (advertising peas !)…or maybe one would think of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale. A multitude of tall green shanks. But not yet gold.


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They knew exactly what they were doing. Their backs were turned to me and the dogs as they faced the sun that rises each morning out of the sea. All in the same direction, taking their cue from their sunflower god that sends its rays from somewhere beyond even the epiphanies of carefully wrought poetic words. Faith? Is that what faith is, a sunflower turning to meet the light?


And now they have achieved fulfillment, those sunflowers, and when the dogs and I reach the converging paths at the top of the mountain, we see (or at least I am aware of) the immaculate golden rows of zodiac-shaped sundials that just go on and on and on, like legionnaires in the Roman Empire. Of course they never speak, and yet, somehow, buried in the eon-old annals of their golden circles, I feel that they are privy to a cosmic truth that is beyond the conceptions of human minds. After all, my ancestors came here about 300,000 years ago. The sunflowers were here before the dinosaurs, and the dinosaurs died out 65,000,000 years ago.


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What do they really know?

One evening recently, my wife and dogs and I were walking among the mountains. We descended along one of the dusty paths and finally began a detour through a dark olive and emerald woodsy spot that would bring us over to the other side. Everything was going well until my wife suddenly screamed. It turned out that a snake was dangling from a tree branch overhead and I nearly plowed headlong right into it.. I pulled back at the last moment. Probably the snake was not poisonous, and, clearly, it was just scouring the earth below for its dinner. I was not its target; probably I just blew its cover. But what if had been poisonous (like at least four species in Florida where I used to live) — and suppose it had bitten me right in face. Deep in the forest. I might have died.

And who to blame ? The snake? The sunflowers? The wind? God?


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Two mornings ago I went out at 5.30 with Cass and Pop just before the sunrise. As we left the road and began our trek through one of the paths leading up into the hills, I saw the houses tucked into the verdurous cloaks among the hillsides amid bands of smoky-silvery dawn mist. On the other side of me, far in the distance, the same mist shrouded over the ancient hills. Timeless. And, to the modern mind, devoid of action. Or, should I say: uneventful? Nothing was happening, it seemed. Nothing the modern businessman’s eye could catch or be attracted to: a fresh memo or a lifted skirt.


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But in that melon-like stillness, the dinosaurs were in the process of being born all over again. Glaciers began to melt, continents to shift. The ancient gods were beating their drums and I could hear the drum-roll in in my veins. How? Why ? Because time had disappeared. The earth was excited, everything was set to start all over again ! Yes, and a great beam of glinting light shot against one of the houses close by — or was it just the angle where I was standing that made it appear that way ? A rocket of light whipped its miraculous fire into that one window; it caused the house to seem the focus of all creation, as though inside that building an Immaculate Conception were taking place.

Was it a sign??

I sighed. I shrugged. I moved on.


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Yesterday it rained and the fields and woods were sodden. Our neighbors keep pigs for slaughtering and apparently they had dumped a massive puddle of soupy pig-shit down amid the tall weeds. Casper found it and rolled around in it.


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Rejoicing, as dogs do in the moment — being, as they clearly are, Happy for No Reason. But I didn’t see. Not long afterwards, I began to smell something subtle and awful that followed us home. I thought I had stepped in a pile of whatever myself or maybe caught a touch of the plague from a mosquito, and so I checked myself out, even changing my clothes. But the odor continued on throughout the house. Maybe the toilets? Maybe a dead mouse? The accusing odor pierced the air like strains from the devil’s own fiddle.


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Then I realized that Cass was the culprit. It was silly Casper after playing with the condemned pig’s shit.

The strange little Budda — or whatever, whoever, he is — the One that has been sitting on my shoulder all my life, appeared to smell nothing, even as he himself never smells like anything, is odor-free, seems not to care at all, and somehow appears to go farther back, connecting time to timelessness. Like gas.


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Yet this hard little guy’s nostrils inhaled the pungence all right. He can’t kid me. He knows more than all the dead animals could ever remember, more than the dangling snakes could reckon with, more than the sunflowers, and even the sun. Whoever he is, there on my shoulder, he smelled his special salad. He simply didn’t let on.


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My wife, finally awake, inhaled the stench just about the time I had finally diagnosed poor, innocent Casper as the culprit, and of course she started blaming everybody and acting foolish, which is not unusual. Casper, the accused, fled. Somehow my wife, this howling human, while seeming basically irrelevant to the situation, imposed her stern will. Noise and more noise came from her vexatious sound box.

Cowering Cass was retrieved, dragged back, scrubbed clean, admonished, and let go. And I caught an earful of blame for somehow allowing it to happen.

The smell of excrement was warded off. The rot vanished.


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I left my blustering wife to her ravings and foolishness and fled upstairs, the faithful and now reinstated dogs scrambling behind me. After that, while the little Master of Ceremonies perched in a blank but oddly cocky way on my shoulder, I finally started to relax.


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The One sitting there, leaning casually against my neck — he is Death, and to his will I bend. And to his command all dogs run after gargoyles that only seem like foxes, out there amid the winds, until the wind becomes Nothingness.


tenor


===Eric Richard Leroy===


Music used while editing and preparation:


Infected Mushroom – Return To the Sauce


Infected Mushroom – Artillery


Infected Mushroom – She Zoremet


Marlyn Manson – Personal Jesus


Amy Stroup – In the Shadows


Adele – Million Years Ago


Eisbrecher – Rot wie die Liebe


Oomph! – Sandmann


Infected Mushrooms – Kazabubu


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End of the Rainbow: Glory but no Gold

Content advisory 16+ So Russia’s definitely glorious and decidedly improbable run at the World Cup came to an end last night, via the usual route in the later stages of this event: Penalties. But what can we say about it? The way FIFA has it set up, there is no other method available to conclude drawn matches , and, after 120 minutes, who will attest that they want another 30 minutes of watching worn-out guys staggering and hobbling around in circles? Last night there were great moments in the extended session, first with Croatia scoring and then Russia dramatically equalizing. But most of the time it is just a walk through to get to the penalty phase, with both sides looking so tired they can hardly get up and down the pitch.


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Besides, Russia lived by the sword against Spain and accordingly died by the sword against Croatia. Maybe now Croatia’s luck will run out if they have to take penalties against England. That’s how it goes. All in all, losing like that after killing yourself in authentic, exhausting, and often brutal competition throughout the evening must leave a sour taste. It certainly does with the fans — all that effort and energy for nothing. It seems fluky. Like two boxers having an arm-wrestling contest to decide the outcome after beating each other to death for 12 rounds. Or a free throw shooting contest when a basketball game finishes regulation time knotted up at 100-100.. So, I mean, why not a farting contest or just a coin flip? Or a stare-down to see who blinks first ?


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And the main problem is that the penalty competition is dissimilar to the normal frantic action of the match itself. In tennis, for instance, the tie-breaker is still about playing tennis — it is not reduced to just a serving contest. In golf, it is still about guys driving down the fairway before trying to make the putt. Only in hockey is there anything like deciding the winner by having someone going one-on-one against the goalie. But not in the NHL. In play-off action there, they just keep skating through as many overtimes as they need. In American professional football (the NFL), they do what is called ‘sudden death’ — where they play as normally and the first team to score wins. In the colleges (university football is B-I-G business in America), each team gets the ball on the opponent’s 25 yard line and attempts to punch it in. They do it until the tie is broken — when one team scores and the other is stopped. In baseball they play as many innings as they need. So a 9-inning game can go 20 innings or more (The record is 26).


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In soccer, we get ‘penalties’. One guy against the keeper. No other action. It seems deflating, anti-climatic and often just based on who gets lucky and guesses right, the striker or the keeper. Dramatic, yes — I admit. In some countries a miss can result in a contract being put out on your life. But, I repeat, it’s deflating, a downer. Like having sex all evening, but getting the orgasm by telephone later on.


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But this is a built-in problem that ‘soccer’ has. Scoring goals can be so difficult that sometimes, especially from a spectator’s standpoint, it can seem that centuries could pass before either team got the ball into the back of the net. (But then again, goals often occur because of ridiculous errors on part of both players and referees.) Which, by the way, is why “I want it and I want it NOW” Americans so often run out of patience with this game. Sometimes it’s just down to American stupidity, but sometimes, Jesus Christ, they do have a point. I mean, how long can it go on, I myself sometimes wonder? How often have I witnessed matches between top nations (it doesn’t happen so much in club competition) play briskly for the first 20 minutes or so, then settle back, each defense taking deep positions, until the drama fades and the match fizzles? The level of boredom can be excruciating. At least the penalty phase causes people to wake up and start watching again just to see what happens. But it still stinks. All the more so because the very existence of the ‘penalty alternative’ actually encourages weaker sides to retreat into a shell and play the whole match just in hopes of reaching the penalty stage. In a shoot-out anything can happen, they (often correctly) reason. Like Russian roulette.


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That notwithstanding, Russia deserves a stupendous pat on the back. It is impossible not to admire the great commitment of the players who kept striving, pushing, running, doing everything they could for their country. I like the coach also. It makes me wonder if some of the former Russian national team members, the ones who in the recent past in international competitions have disgraced themselves and their nation, losing and then ostentatiously partying and showing us all how little they cared — I hope some of them were watching. Maybe they felt a twinge or two of regret, seeing how giving the maximum effort can lead people to respect and even love a football team? Nah, probably those fuckers could care less.


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But what we DID see was how the spirit of a whole country can be ignited — in the most positive way possible — by something like this. I am tired of trying to explain to people who hate sports the many ways in which sports are vital and provide a multitude of positive experiences and emotions. It’s like trying to explain the color red to a blind man. So if you don’t like sports, hey, take a hike and don’t let the door hit you in the ass as you go out. BTW, maybe the Russian government can (or could) learn a thing or two from this. Hey, gov-boys and girls, you blobs of flatulence taking up space in the Duma, did you notice how letting people be free to express their joy of life can actually DO GOOD???? — instead of gouging everyone’s rectum with one stupid and oppressive regulation after another?


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Back to football. This has been, so far — and we are getting close to the finish line — one of the best World Cups I have ever seen (maybe THE best), and I have watched every one of them since 1974. It has all been handled perfectly, and there has been no violence (I told you there wouldn’t be) — and what is really great is that now we will have a new champion other than, say, household names like Germany or Spain or Brazil. I don’t much like the French — don’t know why, I just don’t — and so I will be pulling for Belgium in one of the semi-finals. To me the match is a toss-up, although it could be that Big Brother France (the bully boy of the French-speaking nations) will intimidate and wear down their opponents.


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I have never lived in either of those countries, and so I cannot speak of their mentality, but if life holds true there as it does everywhere else, then the French probably think they are gods and the Belgians pieces of shit. Life is like that. The other Scandinavian countries used to look down on the Finns. Everybody in the UK laughs at the Irish. The Americans used to tell Polish jokes (WHY, for God’s sake, I never knew.) The Canadians laugh at people from Newfoundland. New Yorkers look down on people from Chicago or Boston. Real Madrid sneers at Atletico. Man United will always rule City. Etc. Etc. That’s why I think France will win. Positive vs. Negative Karma. But I will be pulling for Belgium, who I see as the underdog.

The world would loved to have seen England vs. Russia for a lot of reasons. Maybe just to find out if the England players might be fed some poison gas along the way (OK, OK, maybe not funny). But what do we have? Croatia. And this leads me to comment on some of the idiotic stuff I have been hearing from Russians who think everything is a conspiracy.


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You know, among the many things I hate about this life, one of the things I hate the most is people who always think everything is fixed or represents some kind of conspiracy. The only reason Russia went so far, these aborigines cry, is that the cards were stacked and the government bought off the opposition. Bribes went forth, money passed hands, and there was Russia in the quarter finals !! How else could it have happened?. Never mind the thousands of moments in all the matches which could not POSSIBLY have been staged. Never mind the heroic efforts of the Russian team — these efforts being INSULTED by stupid conspiracy theories — never mind that life very often really is spontaneous and full of amazing things, and never mind the hours and days and months of hard work which have made this tournament AND the great Russian team the roaring success it has been.


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No, it’s all a conspiracy.

Go fuck yourselves, guys, OK?

The rest of us have enjoyed every minute.

My predictions? I think England will beat Croatia. Probably France will slip by Belgium. And, finally, France to win it all. They have great speed and deadly scorers. Maybe the REAL Final will therefore be the semi-final. Either team would be favored against England or Croatia. Sweden had looked good until they played England, and the English made monkeys out of them. Is England’s fine young squad peaking at just the right time?

But no ending on penalties PLEASE.


===Eric Richard Leroy===


https://eric-artem.com/end-of-the-rainbow-glory-but-no-gold