the casino and the suckers

“Most people are unconscious up to 17, dreaming until 25, awake to 39, mad after 40, dead after 60.”

— Ian Fleming

“Woe, woe, woe (I think I am quoting Ezra Pound more or less) in a little while we shall all be dead. Therefore let us behave as though we were dead already.”

“It was like this, Mr Bond.” Zographos had a precise way of speaking with the thin tips of his lips while his half-hard half-soft Greek eyes measured the reaction of his words on the listener… “The Russians are chess players. They are mathematicians. Cold machines. But they are also mad. The mad ones forsake the chess and the mathematics and become gamblers. Now, Mr Bond.” Zographos laid a hand on Bond’s sleeve and quickly withdrew it because he knew Englishmen, just as he knew the characteristics of every race, every race with money, in the world. “There are two gamblers… the man who lays the odds and the man who accepts them. The bookmaker and the punter. The casino and, if you like” — Mr Zographos’s smile was sly with the “shared secret” and proud with the right word — “The suckers.”

Of all the visitors to the Deauville casino, perhaps the greatest gambling wizard was Nicolas Zographos, a Greek-born mathematical marvel who in the nineteen-twenties and thirties was the keystone of “the Syndicate,” an association of gamblers who worked together and financed their star joueurs. His background was as mysterious as that of the late Sir Basil Zaharoff. Zographos’ favorite game was not roulette, boule, vingt-et-un, or chemin de fer, but the big one, baccarat in its most rarefied form — banque à tout va (the sky’s the limit ) — played in the privacy of the “salle privée,” a special room with its own set of alert guards. Experts have called Zographos the greatest cardplayer who ever lived. “I decided to perfect myself at them,” he once told a Deauville visitor in the thirties, and he added that he had worked hard at his chosen career and amassed a number of fortunes. “Perhaps you do not realize it, but there is as big a difference between a good baccarat player and a poor one as there is between a scratch golfer and a man with an eighteen handicap,” he went on. “People think, because at baccarat or chemin de fer you have to play with the cards dealt to you, that there is little opportunity for skill, except, of course, when it is à volonté to draw. But I assure you they are wrong, and I should know.” In those days, he kept himself in perfect shape by playing not six-pack bezique but eight-pack bezique and remembering the whereabouts of every card in the eight packs.
    Zographos’ largest loss at a single session of baccarat was thirty-six million francs, at a time when that amounted to nearly a million and a half dollars. “The largest number of times I have ever won consecutively on both sides of the table is twelve, and on one side of the table nineteen,” he has said. “The banker, in drawing his second card after the player’s, has a tiny but definite advantage. But the main difference is that the players double up their bets when they are losing and hedge when they are winning. It is only human nature, but there you are. I will put it another way. The bank plays baccarat as though it were contract bridge, weighing up every chance mathematically. And let me tell you it needs the brain of a very good accountant to assess immediately the amount of money being staked on either side of the table and then to work out mentally whether it is worth drawing a third card. … There is no such thing as good luck or bad luck.” Another member of the Syndicate, a Greek shipowner named Athanasios Vagliano, was often the banker of baccarat games in which two and a half million dollars changed hands in one night.

—Phyllis & Fred Feldkamp,
The Good Life… or What’s Left of It: Being a Recounting of the Pleasures of the Senses that Contribute to the Enjoyment of Life in France,
Harper’s Magazine Press, 1972, p. 123


    Все жиды города Киева и его окрестностей должны явиться в понедельник 29 сентября 1941 года к 8 часам утра на угол Мельниковой и Доктеривской улиц (возле кладбища).
    Взять с собой документы, деньги, ценные вещи, а также теплую одежду, белье и пр.
    Кто из жидов не выполнит этого распоряжения и будет найден в другом месте, будет расстрелян.
    Кто из граждан проникнет в оставленные жидами квартиры и присвоит себе вещи, будет расстрелян.
    Наказується всім жидам міста Києва і околиць зібратися в понеділок дня 29 вересня 1941 року до год. 8 ранку на вул. Мельника — Доктерівській (коло кладовища).
    Всі повинні забрати з собою документи, гроші, білизну та інше.
    Хто не підпорядкується цьому розпорядженню, буде розстріляний.
    Хто займе жидівське мешкання або розграбує предмети з тих мешкань, буде розстріляний.

    Sämtliche Juden der Stadt Kiew und Umgebung haben sich am Montag, dem 29. September 1941 bis 8 Uhr; Ecke Melnik- und Dokteriwski-Strasse (an den Friedhoefen) einzufinden.
    Mitzunehmen sind Dokumente, Geld und Wertsachen sowie warme Bekleidung, Waesche usw.
    Wer dieser Aufforderung nicht nachkommt und anderweitig angetroffen wird, wird erschossen.
    Wer in verlassene Wohnungen von Juden eindringt oder sich Gegenstaende daraus aneignet, wird erschossen.

    All Jews of Kiev and its environs must appear on Monday, 29 September 1941 at 8 o’clock in the morning on the corner of Melnikova and Dokterivska Street (near the cemetery).
    All must take along documents, money, valuables, as well as warm clothes, underwear, etc.
    Any Jews who fail to comply with this order and are found elsewhere will be shot.
    Any citizens who enter the apartments vacated by Jews and appropriate their goods will be shot.

here we go again

Resumption of Public Protests at Rosewood Sand Hill Compound

From: Michael Zeleny

Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 4:53 PM

To: Ajay Vashee <>, Ali Behbahani <>, Amita Shukla <>, Arno Penzias <>, Brooke Seawell <>, Ching-Ho Fung <>, Chip Linehan <>, Chuck Newhall <>, David Mott <>, Dick Kramlich <>, Ed Mathers <>, Forest Baskett <>, Frank Torti <>, George Stamas <>, Harry Weller <>, Hugh Panero <>, Jake Nunn <>, James Barrett <>, Jay Graf <>, Jimmy Treybig <>, John Nehra <>, Jon Sakoda <>, Josh Makower <>, Justin Klein <>, Krishna 'Kittu' Kolluri <>, Louis Citron <>, Mark Perry <>, Megan Alderete <>, Mike O'Dell <>, Mike Ramsay <>, Mohamad Makhzoumi <>, Nitin Sharma <>, Patrick Chung <>, Patrick Kerins <>, Paul Hsiao <>, Paul Walker <>, Peter Barris <>, Peter Behrendt <>, Peter Morris <>, Peter Sonsini <>, PM Pai <>, Ravi Viswanathan <>, Richard Whitney <>, Rick Yang <>, Robert Croce <>, Robert Garland <>, Rohini Chakravarthy <>, Ryan Drant <>, Sara Nayeem <>, Scott Gottlieb <>, Scott Sandell <>, Sigrid Van Bladel <>, Sujay Jaswa <>, Suzanne King <>, Tim Schaller <>, Tom Grossi <>, Tony Florence <>
Subrah Iyar <>,, "David W. Affeld" <>,,,,,,,

Dear NEA,
I share your relief at settling our dispute regarding my access to your private property. As you know, I will no longer appear in front of your office. I am equally relieved that your single claim challenged only my “conduct in repeatedly trespassing on private property, leaving [me] free to express [myself] as [I desire], at any lawful place and time, with the sole exception that [I] cannot make unauthorized entry onto the NEA office complex.” You objected to the location of my protest but did not dispute its content.

Starting on 31 October 2011 and continuing indefinitely, I shall resume my protest against your abhorrent investment practices. I shall do so on the public easement near the entrance to your complex. I shall also protest against anyone who would do business with you, based on their implicit endorsement of your immoral practices. I shall take photos and record videos of everyone entering your complex, post the images online and distribute them on bills posted throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and offer rewards for the first correct identification of names and addresses of everyone who does business with your child rape sponsoring enterprise. I shall display signs and banners illustrating the purpose of my protests. As before, I shall be armed with legal counterparts of U.S. military rifles and pistols, in full compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local ordinances. As before, I invite you to comment on my plans, should you have any legitimate objection to the time, place, or manner of my expression of my Constitutionally protected message. | | 7576 Willow Glen Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046 | 323.363.1860 | | "All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." — Samuel Beckett

woody allen on god, yiddishkeit, and israel

Random Reflections of a Second-Rate Mind

Dining at a fashionable restaurant on New York’s chic Upper East Side, I noticed a Holocaust survivor at the next table. A man of sixty or so was showing his companions a number tattooed on his arm while I overheard him say he had gotten it at Auschwitz. He was graying and distinguished—looking with a sad, handsome face, and behind his eyes there was the predictable haunted look. Clearly he had suffered and gleaned deep lessons from his anguish. I heard him describe how he had been beaten and had watched his fellow inmates being hanged and gassed, and how he had scrounged around in the camp garbage for anything—a discarded potato peel—to keep his corpse-thin body from giving in to disease. As I eavesdropped I wondered: If an angel had come to him then, when he was scheming desperately not to be among those chosen for annihilation, and told him that one day he’d be sitting on Second Avenue in Manhattan in a trendy Italian restaurant amongst lovely young women in designer jeans, and that he’d be wearing a fine suit and ordering lobster salad and baked salmon, would he have grabbed the angel around the throat and throttled him in a sudden fit of insanity? 
    Talk about cognitive dissonance! All I could see as I hunched over my pasta were truncheons raining blows on his head as second after second dragged on in unrelieved agony and terror. I saw him weak and freezing—sick, bewildered, thirsty, and in tears, an emaciated zombie in stripes. Yet now here he was, portly and jocular, sending back the wine and telling the waiter it seemed to him slightly too tannic. I knew without a doubt then and there that no philosopher ever to come along, no matter how profound, could even begin to understand the world. 
    Later that night I recalled that at the end of Elie Wiesel’s fine book, Night, he said that when his concentration camp was liberated he and others thought first and foremost of food. Then of their families and next of sleeping with women, but not of revenge. He made the point several times that the inmates didn’t think of revenge. I find it odd that I, who was a small boy during World War II and who lived in America, unmindful of any of the horror Nazi victims were undergoing, and who never missed a good meal with meat and warm bed to sleep in at night, and whose memories of those years are only blissful and full of good times and good music—that I think of nothing but revenge.
Confessions of a hustler. At ten I hustled dreidel. I practiced endlessly spinning the little lead top and could make the letters come up in my favor more often than not. After that I mercilessly contrived to play dreidel with kids and took their money. 
    “Let’s play for two cents,” I’d say, my eyes waxing wide and innocent like a big-time pool shark’s. Then I’d lose the first game deliberately. After, I’d move the stakes up. Four cents, maybe six, maybe a dime. Soon the other kid would find himself en route home, gutted and muttering. Dreidel hustling got me through the fifth grade. I often had visions of myself turning pro. I wondered if when I got older I could play my generation’s equivalent of Legs Diamond or Dutch Schultz for a hundred thousand a game. I saw myself bathed in won money, sitting around a green felt table or getting off great trains, my best dreidel in a smart carrying case as I went from city to city looking for action, always cleaning up, always drinking bourbon, always taking care of my precious manicured spinning hand.
On the cover of this magazine, under the title, is printed the line: A Bimonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture & Society. But why a Jewish critique? Or a gentile critique? Or any limiting perspective? Why not simply a magazine with articles written by human beings for other humans to read? Aren’t there enough real demarcations without creating artificial ones? After all, there’s no biological difference between a Jew and a gentile despite what my Uncle Max says. We’re talking here about exclusive clubs that serve no good purpose; they exist only to form barriers, trade commercially on human misery, and provide additional differences amongst people so they can further rationalize their natural distrust and aggression. 
    After all, you know by ten years old there’s nothing bloodier or more phony than the world’s religious history. What could be more awful than, say, Protestant versus Catholic in Northern Ireland? Or the late Ayatollah? Or the expensive cost of tickets to my local synagogue so my parents can pray on the high holidays? (In the end they could only afford to be seated downstairs, not in the main room, and the service was piped in to them. The smart money sat ringside, of course.) Is there anything uglier than families that don’t want their children to marry loved ones because they’re of the wrong religion? Or professional clergy whose pitch is as follows: “There is a God. Take my word for it. And I pretty much know what He wants and how to get on with Him and I’ll try to help you to get and remain in His good graces, because that way your life won’t be so fraught with terror. Of course, it’s going to cost you a little for my time and stationery…” 
    Incidentally, I’m well aware that one day I may have to fight because I’m a Jew, or even die because of it, and no amount of professed apathy to religion will save me. On the other hand, those who say they want to kill me because I’m Jewish would find other reasons if I were not Jewish. I mean, think if there were no Jews or Catholics, or if everyone were white or German or American, if the earth was one country, one color; then endless new, creative rationalizations would emerge to kill “other people”—the left-handed, those who prefer vanilla to strawberry, all baritones, any person who wears saddle shoes. 
    So what was my point before I digressed? Oh—do I really want to contribute to a magazine that subtly helps promulgate phony and harmful differences? (Here I must say that Tikkun appears to me as a generally wonderful journal—politically astute, insightful, and courageously correct on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.) 
    I experienced this type of ambivalence before when a group wanted me to front and raise money for the establishment of a strong pro-Israel political action committee. I don’t approve of PACs, but I’ve always been a big rooter for Israel. I agonized over the decision and in the end I did front the PAC and helped them raise money and get going. Then, after they were off and running, I quietly slipped out. This was the compromise I made which I’ve never regretted. Still, I’d be happier contributing to Tikkun if it had a different line, or no line, under the title. After all, what if other magazines felt the need to employ their own religious perspectives? You might have: Field and Stream: A Catholic Critique of Fishing and Hunting. This month: “Angling for Salmon as You Baptize.”
I have always preferred women to men. This goes back to the Old Testament where the ladies have it all over their cowering, pious counterparts. Eve knew the consequences when she ate the apple. Adam would have been content to just follow orders and live on like a mindless sybarite. But Eve knew it was better to acquire knowledge even if it meant grasping her mortality with all its accompanying anxiety. I’m personally glad men and women run to cover up their nakedness. It makes undressing someone much more exciting. And with the necessity of people having to earn their livings by the sweat of their brows we have a much more interesting and creative world. Much more fascinating than the sterile Garden of Eden which I always picture existing in the soft-focus glow of a beer commercial. I also had a crush on Lot’s wife. When she looked back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah she knew she was disobeying God. But she did it anyway. And she knew what a cruel, vindictive character He was. So it must have been very important to her to look back. But why? To see what? Well, I think to see her lover. The man she was having an extramarital affair with. And wouldn’t you if you were married to Lot? This self-righteous bore, this paragon of virtue in a corrupt, swinging city. Can you imagine life with this dullard? Living only to please God. Resisting all the temptations that made Sodom and Gomorrah pulsate with vitality. The one good man in the city. Indeed. Of course she was making it with someone else. But who? Some used-idol salesman? Who knows? But I like to think she felt passion for a human being while Lot felt it only for the deep, pontificating voice of the creator of the universe. So naturally she was crushed when they had to leave town in a hurry. And as God destroyed all the bars and broke up all the poker games and the sinners went up in smoke, and as Lot tiptoed for the border, holding the skirts of his robes high to avoid tripping, Mrs. Lot turned to see her beloved cinque à sept one more time and that’s when unfortunately the Almighty, in his infinite forgiveness, turned her into a seasoning. 
    So that leaves Job’s wife. My favorite woman in all of literature. Because when her cringing, put-upon husband asked the Lord “Why me?” and the Lord told him to shut up and mind his own business and that he shouldn’t even dare ask, Job accepted it, but the Missus, already in the earth at that point, had previously scored with a quotable line of unusual dignity and one that Job would have been far too obsequious to come up with: “Curse God and die” was the way she put it. And I loved her for it because she was too much of her own person to let herself be shamelessly abused by some vain and sadistic Holy Spirit.
I was amazed at how many intellectuals took issue with me over a piece I wrote a while back for the New York Times saying I was against the practice of Israeli soldiers going door-to-door and randomly breaking the hands of Palestinians as a method of combating the intifada. I said also I was against the too-quick use of real bullets before other riot control methods were tried. I was for a more flexible attitude on negotiating land for peace. All things I felt to be not only more in keeping with Israel’s high moral stature but also in its own best interest. I never doubted the correctness of my feelings and I expected all who read it to agree. Visions of a Nobel danced in my head and, in truth, I had even formulated the first part of my acceptance speech. Now, I have frequently been accused of being a self-hating Jew, and while it’s true I am Jewish and I don’t like myself very much, it’s not because of my persuasion. The reasons lie in totally other areas—like the way I look when I get up in the morning, or that I can never read a road map. In retrospect, the fact that I did not win a peace prize but became an object of some derision was what I should have expected. 
    “How can you criticize a place you’ve never been to?” a cabbie asked me. I pointed out I’d never been many places whose politics I took issue with, like Cuba for instance. But this line of reasoning cut no ice. 
    “Who are you to speak up?” was a frequent question in my hate mail. I replied I was an American citizen and a human being, but neither of these affiliations carried enough weight with the outraged. 
    The most outlandish cut of all was from the Jewish Defense League, which voted me Pig of the Month. How they misunderstood me! If only they knew how close some of my inner rages have been to theirs. (In my movie Manhattan, for example, I suggested breaking up a Nazi rally not with anything the ACLU would approve, but with baseball bats.) 
    But it was the intellectuals, some of them close friends, who hated most of all that I had made my opinions public on such a touchy subject. And yet, despite all their evasions and circumlocutions, the central point seemed to me inescapable: Israel was not responding correctly to this new problem. 
    “The Arabs are guilty for the Middle East mess, the bloodshed, the terrorism, with no leader to even try to negotiate with,” reasoned the typical thinker. 
    “True,” I agreed with Socratic simplicity. 
    “Victims of the Holocaust deserve a homeland, a place to be free and safe.” 
    “Absolutely.” I was totally in accord. 
    “We can’t afford disunity. Israel is in a precarious situation.” Here I began to feel uneasy, because we can afford disunity. 
    “Do you want the soldiers going door-to-door and breaking hands?” I asked, cutting to the kernel of my complaint. 
    “Of course not.” 
    “I’d still rather you hadn’t written that piece.” Now I’d be fidgeting in my chair, waiting for a cogent rebuttal to the breaking-of-hands issue. “Besides,” my opponent argued, “the Times prints only one side.” 
    “But even the Israeli press—” 
    “You shouldn’t have spoken out,” he interrupted. 
    “Many Israelis agree,” I said, “and moral issues apart, why hand the Arabs a needless propaganda victory?” 
    “Yes, yes, but still you shouldn’t have said anything. I was disappointed in you.” Much talk followed by both of us about the origins of Israel, the culpability of Arab terrorists, the fact there’s no one in charge of the enemy to negotiate with, but in the end it always came down to them saying, “You shouldn’t have spoken up,” and me saying, “But do you think they should randomly break hands?” and them adding, “Certainly not—but I’d still feel better if you had just not written that piece.” 
    My mother was the final straw. She cut me out of her will and then tried to kill herself just to hasten my realization that I was getting no inheritance.
At fifteen I received as a gift a pair of cuff links with a William Steig cartoon on them. A man with a spear through his body was pictured and the accompanying caption read, “People are no damn good.” A generalization, an oversimplification, and yet it was the only way I ever could get my mind around the Holocaust. Even at fifteen I used to read Anne Frank’s line about people being basically good and place it on a par with Will Rogers’s pandering nonsense, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” 
    The questions for me were not: How could a civilized people, and especially the people of Goethe and Mozart, do what they did to another people? And how could the world remain silent? Remain silent and indeed close their doors to millions who could have, with relative simplicity, been plucked from the jaws of agonizing death? At fifteen I felt I knew the answers. If you went with the Anne Frank idea or the Will Rogers line, I reasoned as an adolescent, of course the Nazi horrors became unfathomable. But if you paid more attention to the line on the cuff links, no matter how unpleasant that caption was to swallow, things were not so mysterious. After all, I had read about all those supposedly wonderful neighbors throughout Europe who lived beside Jews lovingly and amiably. They shared laughter and fun and the same experiences I shared with my community and friends. And I read, also, how they turned their backs on the Jews instantly when it became the fashion and even looted their homes when they were left empty by sudden departure to the camps. This mystery that had confounded all my relatives since World War II was not such a puzzle if I understood that inside every heart lived the worm of self-preservation, of fear, greed, and an animal will to power. And the way I saw it, it was nondiscriminating. It abided in gentile or Jew, black, white, Arab, European, or American. It was part of who we all were, and that the Holocaust could occur was not all so strange. History had been filled with unending examples of equal bestiality, differing only cosmetically. 
    The real mystery that got me through my teen years was that every once in a while one found an act of astonishing decency and sacrifice. One heard of people who risked their lives and their family’s lives to save lives of people they didn’t even know. But these were the rare exceptions, and in the end there were not enough humane acts to keep six million from being murdered. 
    I still own those cuff links. They’re in a shoe box along with a lot of memorabilia from my teens. Recently I took them out and looked at them and all these thoughts returned to me. Perhaps I’m not quite as sure of all I was sure of at fifteen, but the waffling may come from just being middle-aged and not as virile. Certainly little has occurred since then to show me much different.

—Woody Allen, “Random Reflections of a Second-Rate Mind”, Tikkun, Jan/Feb 1990, pp. 13-15, 71-72

Israeli Beatings Are No Laughing Matter

I’m not a political activist. If anything, I’m an uninformed coward, totally convinced that a stand on any issue from subway fares to the length of women’s skirts will lead me before a firing squad.
    I prefer instead to sit around in coffee houses and grouse to loved ones privately about social conditions, invariably muttering imprecations on the heads of politicians, most of whom I put in a class with blackjack dealers.
    Take a look, for instance, at the Reagan Administration. Or just at the president himself. Or the men hoping to become president. Or the last cluster of presidents. These characters would hardly inspire confidence in the average bail bondsman.
    Another reason I’m apathetic to political cross-currents is that I’ve never felt man’s problems could be solved through political solutions. The sporadic reshuffling of pompous-sounding world leaders with their fibs and nostrums has proved meaningless. Not that one is always just as bad as the next—but almost.
    The truth is that whenever the subject turns to ameliorating mankind’s condition, my mind turns to more profound matters: man’s lack of a spiritual center, for example—or his existential terror. The empty universe is another item that scares me, along with eternal annihilation, aging, terminal illness and the absence of God in a hostile, raging void. I feel that as long as man is finite, he will never be truly relaxed.
    Having said all the above, I should also point out that there have been a few times that I have taken a public stance. Some people may remember that recently I came out vehemently against the colorization of movies without the director’s consent. This is hardly a life-and-death political issue, but it is an ethical one, and I was quite amazed at the lack of support my position received.
    Not that everyone was unsympathetic, but the moral indignation and protective legislation I thought would follow was not quite equal to the ire aroused when a person gets in front of you at the bakery. In the end, it was not the artist’s rights that prevailed but rather the “realities of the marketplace.”
    Another example was my anti-apartheid stance. So infuriated was I with treatment of blacks in South Africa that I proclaimed I will not allow my films to play there until a total policy change is agreed to. This unfortunately failed to topple the existing regime, and apartheid continues, though I have received grateful letters from Afrikaners who say that while they avoided my films before, now they are prevented from even wandering into one of them accidentally, and for this they thank me with all their hearts.
    Still, there was the gesture and the hope that it would stir others. And to a small degree, it has. And now after months of quiet in my own life, an other situation has arisen—a situation that is quite painful and confusing—and a stand must be taken.
    As a supporter of Israel, and as one who has always been outraged at the horrors inflicted on this little nation by hostile neighbors, vile terrorists and much of the world at large, I am appalled beyond measure by the treatment of the rioting Palestinians by the Jews.
    I mean, fellas, are you kidding? Beatings of people by soldiers to make examples of them? Breaking the hands of men and women so they can’t throw stones? Dragging civilians out of their houses at random to smash them with sticks in an effort to terrorize a population into quiet?
    Please understand that I have no sympathy for the way the Arabs have treated the Israelis. Indeed, sometimes you get the feeling you want to belt them—but only certain ones and for very specific acts.
    But am I reading the newspapers correctly? Were food and medical supplies withheld to make a rebellious community “uncomfortable”? Were real bullets fired to control crowds, and rubber ones only when the United States objected? Are we talking about state-sanctioned brutality and even torture?
    My goodness! Are these the people whose money I used to steal from those little blue-and-white cans after collecting funds for a Jewish homeland? I can’t believe it, and I don’t know exactly what is to be done, but I’m sure pulling out my movies is again not the answer.
    Perhaps for all of us who are rooting for Israel to continue to exist and prosper, the obligation is to speak out and use every method of pressure—moral, financial and political—to bring this wrongheaded approach to a halt.

—Woody Allen, The New York Times, 1 February 1988

more flexible self-hatred

     “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

—Martin Luther King, Harvard University, 1968

     “I was amazed at how many intellectuals took issue with me over a piece I wrote a while back for the New York Times saying I was against the practice of Israeli soldiers going door-to-door and randomly breaking the hands of Palestinians as a method of combating the intifada. I said also I was against the too-quick use of real bullets before other riot control methods were tried. I was for a more flexible attitude on negotiating land for peace. All things I felt to be not only more in keeping with Israel’s high moral stature but also in its own best interest. I never doubted the correctness of my feelings and I expected all who read it to agree. Visions of a Nobel danced in my head and, in truth, I had even formulated the first part of my acceptance speech. Now, I have frequently been accused of being a self-hating Jew, and while it’s true I am Jewish and I don’t like myself very much, it’s not because of my persuasion. The reasons lie in totally other areas—like the way I look when I get up in the morning, or that I can never read a road map. In retrospect, the fact that I did not win a peace prize but became an object of some derision was what I should have expected.”

—Woody Allen, “Random Reflections of a Second-Rate Mind”, Tikkun, Jan/Feb 1990

“Thanks to Weininger, I realised how wrong I was—I was not detached from the reality about which I wrote, and I never shall be. I am not looking at the Jews, or at Jewish identity, I am not looking at Israelis. I am actually looking in the mirror. With contempt, I am actually elaborating on the Jew in me.
    The Jew in me is not an island. He is joined by hostile enemies and counter-personalities who have also settled in my psyche. There are, inside me, many characters that oppose each other. It isn’t as horrifying as it might sound. In fact, it is rather productive, amusing and certainly revealing. […]
    The present should be understood as a creative dynamic mode where past premeditates its future. But far more crucially, it is also where the imaginary future can re-write its past. I will try to elucidate this idea through a simple and hypothetical yet horrifying war scenario. We, for instance, can envisage an horrific situation in which an Israeli so-called ‘pre-emptive’ nuclear attack on Iran escalates into a disastrous nuclear war, in which tens of millions of people perish. I guess that amongst the survivors of such a nightmare scenario some may be bold enough to argue that ‘Hitler might have been right after all.’”

—Gilad Atzmon, The Wandering Who?: A Study of Jewish Identity Politics, O Books, 2011, pp. 94, 179

“Gilad Atzmon has written a fascinating and provocative book on Jewish identity in the modern world. He shows how assimilation and liberalism are making it incredibly difficult for Jews in the Diaspora to maintain a powerful sense of their ‘Jewishness.’ Panicked Jewish leaders, he argues, have turned to Zionism (blind loyalty to Israel) and scaremongering (the threat of another Holocaust) to keep the tribe united and distinct from the surrounding goyim. As Atzmon’s own case demonstrates, this strategy is not working and is causing many Jews great anguish. The Wandering Who? Should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.”

John J. Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, September 2011

a nation like no other

Римські історики записали, що полководці (адже їм лише б загарбувати) радили першому імператорові Августові війною колонізувати нашу державу Велику Україну, брати зерно та інші товари безкоштовно. Будуть і податки. Він заперечував: не хоче більше втратити, ніж скористати, бо українська нація особлива, не знае рабовласництва, не була ще ніким поневолена. Підкорити її важко. Крім того, війна знищить землеробство, і зерна все одно не буде.
    Почалася 300-літня “легка колонізація” наших морських портів Римом. Були і війни, бо імператори після Августа посилали полководців чи й самі вели легіони колонізувати українську землю і націю, але нація завжди, хоч і з великими матеріальними і людськими втратами, відбивалася від могутнього Риму. Нація не підкорилася наймогутнішому колонізаторові античності. Українська нація не скорена!
    Цей урок з античної історії нам потрібно вивчити, запам’ятати і взяти до уваги.

Roman historians recorded that the generals (who think of nothing but conquests) advised the first emperor Augustus to wage war in order to colonize our country, the Great Ukraine, to confiscate her grain and other goods. There would be taxes, too. He demurred, not wanting to lose more than he would gain; for the Ukrainian nation is like no other: it does not suffer slavery, it never has been dominated by anyone else. It would be hard to conquer. Besides, warfare would destroy agriculture, and grain could not be had anyway.
    Thus began the 300-year long “light colonization” of our seaports by Rome. There were wars, because emperors that followed Augustus sent their generals or themselves went to command legions to colonize the Ukrainian land and nation; but our nation always, albeit at great material and human costs, repulsed the mighty Rome. Our nation defied the most powerful colonizers of antiquity. Ukrainian nation is unconquered!
    We must learn, memorize, and heed this lesson from ancient history.

— Mykola Halychanets, The Ukrainian nation: The Origin and Life of the Ukrainian Nation From the Ancient Times to the Eleventh Century, Mandrivets, 2005

america is hated by everyone, even by the americans

Melor Sturua reviews the movie The Last Argument of Kings [a remake of Seven Days in May] by the studio Ukrtelefilm:
    The movie shows the tycoons of the military-industrial complex, concerned about the readiness of the President of the U.S. to reach arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, organize a conspiracy against him. But the Pentagon “hawks” have no need to dive into the White House. The Reagan administration is pursuing a course that pleases the militarists.
    As a rule, American film and television, in turning to the Soviet themes, create anti-Soviet and anti-Russian, and therefore inhumane films.

Moscow News № 35, dated 31 August 1986

25 years later, anti-American rhetoric is no longer the official discourse in Russia. However, it is still in demand, as the Moscow News has determined after talking to the political scientist Aleksandr Dugin, head of the Department of Sociology of International Relations at Moscow State University.

Today, there are many more reasons to hate America, than 25 years ago. In the era of the Cold War there were two relatively comparable ideological models, the two poles—the socialist and the capitalist, two adversaries in an ideological war. Then we exchanged “pleasantries” based on our world-views, and anti-American sentiments coincided with the defense of the socialist system and the interests of the Eastern bloc.
    Since then, the Eastern Bloc fell, and the world has become unipolar. Today there exists the center, and the fringe comprises all that is not America or its direct vassals. The fringe feels the pressure of a new American empire, feels the U.S. sucking out all its resources, suppressing it, conducting a thoroughly imperialist colonial policy. And those who now oppose the U.S., comprise all of mankind, all countries facing a threat of becoming the next target of colonization and imperialist aggression by the U.S. Political scientist Samuel Hungtington proposed a formula: “The West Against the Rest”. But “the Rest” also have something to say in this situation, so that you can turn it around: “The Rest Against the West”, all the rest, except for America, against America.
    In his time, prince Trubetzkoy, founder of the Eurasian movement, wrote an important book, Europe and Mankind (meaning that Europe is opposed to mankind and mankind is opposed to Europe). And according to Trubetskoy, what unites the mankind is its aversion for European expansion. Today the center of the West has shifted across the ocean, and the one trait common to the planet of men, is the hatred of its U.S. hegemon.
    After the intervention in Libya, it is clear that Western interests and Western values ​​differ drastically. The words proclaim human rights, humanism, tolerance, democracy, and freedom;the deeds seek oil, power, occupation, and invasion. That is why the hatred of America is now not merely a common ground of “the Rest”, all the remainder of the world. This hatred is by and large becoming the force that unites the people of Europe as a part of the pro-American “West”, and even a large segment of Americans. America is hated by everyone, even by the Americans. Anti-Americanism is perhaps the main force that unites mankind. Anti-Americanism becomes a synonym for self-determination of man, the man of the fringes seeking a multipolar free world. Therefore, “Death to America” ​​should be written as a slogan on the shield of all those who want a humane world order. As long as America has not been ruined, annihilated, and crushed in its imperialist effort to impose its hegemony upon everyone, we will subsist under a constant threat of recurrence of Libyan, Iraqi, Afghani, and Serbian events. The fight against America must proceed not only with words but also with hearts and minds, and most importantly, with actions. America must be terminated. People who do not hate America today, are not people at all. They are victims of Western propaganda, biorobots who relinquish their right to freedom, independence, and dignity.

fill your hand!

Symmetrical wraparound Nill grips on the recently produced Korth revolvers are ambidextrous and nicely hand-filling. I am getting the last two made by Nill for post-1986 Korth revolvers, and have their likes installed on my five favorite Manurhin MR73 revolvers. Original Korth stocks have an open backstrap and a shallow thumb rest just big enough to block a speedloader. They offer a nice rolling fit for the right hand; not so good for the left. Korth revolvers have two kinds of gripframes: the square butt frame on the Sport and Match revolvers, and the rounded butt gripframe on the Combat models. Since every revolver is benchmade individually, factory stocks are hand-fitted to each gun, and cannot be expected to interchange between them, much like the original Magna stocks on S&W Registered Magnums.

The Manurhin MR73 has a uniformly dimensioned, compact grip frame in a true round butt configuration. There are two kinds of factory stocks for the MR73. Most of the early revolvers regardless of the model, and most of the Police and Defense models regardless of vintage, are fitted with abbreviated walnut stocks that follow the contours of the grip frame, except for filling the gap behind the trigger guard in the manner of the pre-WWII S&W grip adapter. They are very comfortable to hold, but require a very firm grip for controlling the roll under recoil, and provide little feedback for a consistent handhold. The factory walnut, symmetrical finger grip Sport stocks fitted to later production Sport and Gendarmerie models wrap around the front strap and extend past the butt in a squared configuration, exposing the typically grooved backstrap. They are more hand-filling and offer better indexing, albeit not to the degree afforded by Nill grips. Full wraparound Trausch rubber grips, which can be had with or without a shelf at the bottom, offer all advantages and drawbacks of their kind.

No revolver designed and manufactured in the U.S. after 1911, was intended or suited for combat, as that destination was interpreted by the makers of Webleys and Nagants. Owing to America’s late entry into WWI, none of them were widely and successfully used in trench warfare, in the manner of the LP08 Artillery Luger. Like the S&W M19, its delicate precursor, the MR73 was designed and built for fighting by the constabulary personnel, not for combat by the military. Its typical application took place on the day after Christmas of 1994, when Captain Thierry P. of GIGN entered the hijacked Air France Flight 8969 plane, grounded at the Marseille airport. He served as the point shooter, armed with a 5¼" .357 Magnum Manurhin MR73 and backed by his partner Eric carrying a 9mm HK05 submachine gun. Thierry killed two Islamist terrorists and wounded a third with his revolver, before taking seven bullets from an AK47 fired by the fourth hijacker. In spite of then absorbing a full complement of grenade shrapnel in his lower body, Thierry P. survived the assault, as also did 171 hostages. Not so the four terrorists, who had been planning to deploy the plane as an incendiary missile against the Eiffel Tower. Thierry could have armed himself with any firearm. He chose an MR73. His fellow GIGN intervention troopers still choose to carry their vintage Manurhin MR73 revolvers alongside a modern automatic pistol such as a Glock G17 or G19, or a SIG P228 or P2022. Such anecdotes add up to all the data at my disposal, attesting to the relevant user preferences. N.B.: The plural of “anecdote” is “data”.