Twice in the last few days the newspapers have shown Bush in Moscow, reviewing the troops with Putin. It's a fine thing to be there celebrating V-E Day 60 with the people who did most of the work in Europe. Not so fine, of course, to do a heroic Admission of Our Errors by saying, We have sinned, too, when the Commie president whose work I am trying to undo conspired to let you guys oppress Europe for fifty years. Pfaugh.
But the thing that struck me was that the pictures keep showing people goose-stepping in the foreground. I know it's a tradition in the Russian army, but there are some traditions that are more honored in the breach than in th'observance. So, today's Orwell quote:
One rapid but fairly sure guide to the social atmosphere of a country is the parade-step of its army. A military parade is really a kind of ritual dance, something like a ballet, expressing a certain philosophy of life. The goose-step, for instance, is one of the most horrible sights in the world, far more terrifying than a dive-bomber. It is simply an affirmation of naked power; contained in it, quite consciously and intentionally, is the vision of a boot crashing down on a face. Its ugliness is part of its essence, for what it is saying is "Yes, I am ugly, and you daren't laugh at me", like the bully who makes faces at his victim. ... Beyond a certain point, military display is only possible in countries where the common people dare not laugh at the army.Looking up the reference, by the way, I found a fine brief essay on the subject, this time about North Korea.
--"The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius", 1941; p. 297 in the Everyman Essays
Progressing toward the lighter side, there's a headline I like almost as well as the one about al-Sadr's new pledge.
Chili finger woman has rooting section at arraignmentFinally, what the young man said in a discussion of housekeeping practices. (For the SF-centric: think Castro.) "I live in West Hollywood, Mom. I have to have a dirty bathroom so people will know I'm not gay."