Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ignorant immigrance.

Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new citizenship test which will be used starting some time next year. This test has 144 (yes, one hundred and forty four!) questions some of which are a complete mystery to those who were born in this country. As Yakov Smirnoff once remarked, "America, what a country!"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hunting season.

Today is the first day of the deer hunting season. Thousands of men left their comfortable homes for cold, narrow tree stands at a time of day that even farmers would frown up on. That is the part I do not get about hunting. I grew up, and lived most of my life, in cities. So after moving to rural Pennsylvania hunting was something that puzzled me for years. I eventually accepted it as a way of life around here, but the one thing I still do not completely understand is this drive to be cold and miserable. We have achieved a certain level of technological development which provides us with a a lot of comfort. This comfort is very important and sadly missed if taken away by some misfortune. And yet these people pay for the right to be uncomfortable. If you figure in the cost of all the equipment a hunter buys before setting out into the wilderness, this outing becomes a great gamble since the outcome, i.e. a deer, is not guaranteed. So like I said, I simply do not understand hunting. Fishing, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


The latest name in golf is Russian. Mikhail Tyurin hit a golf ball into Earth's orbit. Beat that, Tiger!

Monday, November 20, 2006


Today I saw the first snow of the season. It was not a lot of snow, it barely stuck to the windshield of my car. But it was snow none the less. And nothing makes a Russian happier than snow.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Casino Royale.

I decided to see this movie despite my initial reservations about Daniel Craig playing James Bond. And I was not disappointed by the last original Ian Fleming novel to be filmed. Casino Royale was actually the first Bond novel Fleming wrote, so it had to be updated a bit. One major change, since Pierce Brosnan's Bond stopped driving an Astin Martin and wearing a Rolex, was the switch from Baccarat to Texas Hold 'Em poker. The only thing that stood out as slightly anachronistic was M's conversation with Bond about being promoted to 00 status too soon. This makes sense in the context of the first Bond novel, but it is out of place in the twenty first installment in the film series. There was also a nice homage to Sean Connery when Bond won an Astin Martin DB5 which Connery drove in the '60s.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Only in America.

It seems that we do not have enough advertisements. This is either really stupid, or really smart. Any way you look at it, it is really freaking weird.

Oh, Canada?

You have to read this story to believe it. It seems that Canadians are pushing the boundries of freedom further and farther.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I hate moving. I used to say I did not mind moving because I moved to this country, but I did that with just two suitcases. It is a lot easier to move with two suitcases because you only pack the absolutely essential stuff. But when you have lived in one place for seven years, you accumulate a great deal of unnecessary crap and you are the one that has to move it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Speaking of veterans.

Jack Palance died yesterday. He was my favorite actor because, like me, he was a Ukrainian-American. RIP, Jack.

Veterans' Day.

Today is a day set aside to remember all those who fought in wars throughout the world. It is important to remember them more than once a year because we owe them a debt that goes far beyond mere gratitude. We, the civilians, should honor and respect these soldiers regardless of how we feel about the conflict they fought in. I was against invasion of Iraq since the beginning, but the American soldiers who fight in Iraq will always have my support and admiration. Because I owe that to them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The results are in.

Recently I found out that a friend of mine, whose whole family are Republicans, registered as a Democrat. Upon find this out his family told him that what makes America great is the right to be wrong. And this led me to thinking about the dynamic between the two parties. The election results surprised me to say the least. I expected the majority of voters to buy into the propaganda that the Republicans were dispensing through commercials, sound bites, and Presidential visits. The message being directed at all of us was that the Republicans, and only the Republicans, knew what was good for the country and had the ability to deliver it. And that the Democrats would either invite the terrorists to attack again or help them gain access to some really nasty stuff. It sounded exactly like what Dick Cheney said during the last presidential campaign. I forgot where he was speaking, but the message was simply vote for us and the country will not get attacked. This was a wonderful piece of rhetoric since, if I remember correctly, the Republicans were in power on 9/11. And that is where the difference between the two parties lies. If they want your opinion, the Republicans will give you the party line. While the Democrats will actually listen to what you have to say. The whole situation reminds me of the Cold War since the Republicans sound more and more like the Soviets and the Democrats like the US. It also reminds me of a divorced couple fighting over their children by trying to convince them that the other parent is no good.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting machines.

Since today is Election Day I did the responsible thing and voted. I take voting seriously for two reasons. First is that in the Soviet one party system there was no point in voting. And second is that before I got my United States citizenship I could not vote. As a Resident Alien I would pay taxes to support the government, but I was not allowed to pick people who ran it. This was the first time I encountered computerized voting machines. Several weeks ago I started hearing ads on the radio advertising a website which was suppose to help Pennsylvanians get used to the new gadgets. I, being The Ignorant Immigrant that I am, kept meaning to visit this site in order to educate myself. But when I sat foot inside the local fire hall where the voting took place, I realized that I completely forgot to visit this site and became filled with fear that my ignorant immigrance will somehow prevent me from using the machine in the proper manner. However, once I approached the device, trembling like an ape in front of a black monolith, and read through a brief tutorial everything seemed fine. I left the fire hall rather pleased with myself. I have survived the electoral process and am looking forward to doing it again in 2008.

Election Day.

This year Election Day fell on November 7th which is also the day that was celebrated as the anniversary of the October Revolution in the Soviet Union. See, back in 1917 Russia was still using the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the more common Gregorian calendar, so the revolution actually took place on October 25th, 1917.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Big Brother online.

It seems that a vision of the future William Gibson wrote about in Neuromancer and other novels is slowly becoming a solid and tangible thing, if only in a completely virtual way.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Kerry issue.

By now, what John Kerry said about poor grades and being stuck in Iraq is old news. But I wanted to take time to ponder it because I wanted what I wrote to be what I thought, and not what I felt, about the issue. I think that the Republicans could not have planned it better themselves. I think that Kerry, without any help, torpedoed the Democrats who are trying to unseat the Republicans throughout the country. What Kerry said came so close to the election that it will still be fresh in the voters' minds on Tuesday. There is no amount of money the Republicans could have spent on negative ads, which by the way they are so good at, that would have caused this much damage. Another thing that Kerry did to help the Republican cause was not apologize right away. And when he did apologize it was a half-hearted apology which did nothing to improve the situation. Before the Kerry debacle I used to think that the Democrats had a chance of winning a lot of the elections around the country. Now I have no idea how this election is going to end. I guess we will see on Wednesday if the Democrats still have a chance.

Politics as usual.

Friday, the local paper ran a story they picked up from the wire about the settlement between Don Sherwood and his mistress. The story said the settlement was $500,000 and that Sherwood's mistress received less than half of this money. As part of the settlement, she will get the rest of it after the election day. She is also not supposed to talk about the details of the settlement or she forfeits the money. And Sherwood got away with not admitting any wrongdoing. Another story in the same issue, this one written by a member of the newspaper's staff, said that Sherwood is confident in his victory. Of course he is confident. He had great support in this election. People like his wife, who should have crucified him, and George W. Bush, who would have crucified him if Sherwood were a Democrat, campaigned for him. The message I get as a voter is that it is OK to cheat on your wife, and even to choke your mistress on occasion, as long as you are a Republican. Then you can buy all kinds of forgiveness and continue to preach "family values" (which exclude gay marriage, but not extramarital affairs) from the pulpit of your elected office.