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I haven’t been writing much lately, because life here in Sweden is pretty uneventful. I’m studying again – doing a master’s program in linguistics and a few other courses – and earning money here and there – teaching, editing and translating, babysitting. Things are good and there’s not much to say about it.

On the other hand, there’s a lot to say about US politics, so much that I get overwhelmed by all the things I want to write about, and discouraged that the people who I would want to hear what I have to say will never read this blog anyway, except for maybe a few members of my extended family who will just say to themselves “Oh, that Megan” and just go on thinking in their ignorant, backward, racist ways. But anyway, I’ll try to unload some of the stuff that’s been going around in my head…

I’ve finally reached an understanding of what “elitism” and “common sense” mean when uttered by a Republican. Elitism does not mean those who have a lot of money, or who come from situations of privilege, otherwise George W. Bush would be an elitist. To the average Republican, an elitist is a person who is intelligent, and who demonstrates that intelligence by having nuanced and well-thought out positions on policy that are based in facts rather than feelings. The average Republican cannot understand what such elitists are saying, and they much prefer the little zingers that people like Sarah Palin are so good at. (The woman can’t name a newspaper that she reads or a Supreme Court decision that she disagrees with other than Roe v. Wade – which she also clearly doesn’t understand – but she can deliver a great line implying that people who have the curiosity and ambition to travel abroad are all spoiled trust fund babies. But wait a second! George W. Bush is a spoiled trust fund baby and he also never bothered to visit Europe until he became president!)

Of course, a Republican would not describe an “elitist” in these terms, because that would imply that the non-elitists aren’t intelligent. The “elitists” are out of touch because they went to elite places like Harvard and Yale (like George W. Bush, only, see, he’s not an elitist because he talks like a moron). I’ve actually seen “Harvard” used as an epithet on some comment threads criticizing Obama. And here you thought that a biracial kid raised by a single mother managing to make it all the way to Harvard Law School had to be pretty smart and motivated to overcome the odds stacked against him. But, you see, “elitists” are actually stupid because they lack “common sense”. Basically, as far as I can tell, “common sense” means all those prejudices that you grew up with that you never bothered to unpack and examine. Like homophobia. And racism. And the notion that taxes are communist when they provide things like education and health care, but all-American when they provide things like corporate welfare and war.

All right, that’s enough ranting for now, but I’ll pass along a few must-read links.

Here’s an analysis of some interesting studies on psychology and political affiliation.

Tim Wise’s article on white privilege is a real eye-opener, if you’re willing to let your eyes be opened without getting defensive. This article speaks not only to the racism thriving in this election, but also to the general hypocrisy of the right wing.

And here is a really powerful blog post about prejudice and violence against Muslims from one of my favorite blogs. It’s being done by and in my country on a small scale, like the terrorists in Dayton, Ohio, who sprayed pepper spray into a nursery in a mosque, and on a large scale by an administration that invaded Iraq on false pretenses and its supporters who, as M. LeBlanc points out in the blog post, don’t seem to understand that Muslims are people.

Edit: One last link – some tips for Joe Biden tonight.

The Young Left is having a protest against the U.S. war in Iraq today in a square in downtown Falun. This will be about as effective as protesting in front of the post office in Ann Arbor (something I did on a regular basis about a decade ago) which is to say, not at all. Still, I’d like to show my support for these well-intentioned youths and take some pictures for y’all, but I’ve already biked downtown and back once today, so I think I’m just too lazy. Sigh.

1. Well, of course the first thing I’m going to do is have a nap, and then get drunk. Then we’ve got a fun weekend planned: hosting a housewarming/thesis-turning-in party on Saturday, and the Vyborg film festival on Sunday. 

2. Have a proper summer. Early August is pretty much the end of summer in St. Petersburg. But I’ll be in the U.S. in early September, so I can extend summer a few more weeks.

3. Blog more regularly and more interestingly, both here and on my Russian blog.

4. Start a project based on my thesis: a website for expats in St. Petersburg who are disturbed about the ecological situation, with links to local environmental organizations, information about recyling points in the city, etc.

5. Make time for jogging and yoga again.

6. Translate another of Kostia’s stories into English, which will give him enough material so he can publish the bilingual edition of his book that we first thought of doing two years ago.

And probably some more things too. But first, I’d better go finish the damn thing.

Unrelated: I saw this postcard on PostSecret and it struck a chord…


I sent a pre-written letter to that moron in the White House through Amnesty International, urging him to close down Guantanamo Bay. I don’t think these things do any good, but I don’t think they hurt either. If you want to do it, you can go here. Oh, and while you’re at it you can send this one too from Harry Reid.

Anyway, I got a lovely auto-generated response to my auto-generated letter. Orwell would be proud:

On behalf of President Bush, thank you for your correspondence.We appreciate hearing your views and welcome your suggestions.The President is committed to continuing our economic progress,defending our freedom, and upholding our Nation’s deepest values.

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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