Thursday, August 28, 2008

Musings on Monopoly win

Alina Pastukhova is an awesome writer. She writes in the Kyiv Post:

In what may be one of Ukraine’s few international successes recently, Kyiv has landed a spot on the game board of the international Monopoly edition. It even beat out Moscow to do so.

If only joining NATO, the European Union and avoiding a showdown with Russia over Crimea were so easy, many of Ukraine’s problems would be solved. ...

My first throught was "Indeed!" My next was what a classic example of "razom nas bahato" this little win was. As I read on, I found Alina one step ahead of me:

The image chosen to represent Kyiv is the tall statue of the woman on Kyiv’s main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti. She is the symbol of independence.

Monopoly fans got the ability to vote online and choose what cities should be included. There were some limits on voting, but not many, giving the advantage to organized campaigns.

Kyiv finished in 16th place in the voting. The top 20 cities among 68 in contention landed on the board, plus two “wild card” cities chosen by vote also. ...

Kyiv succeeded largely due to a campaign organized by people in Ukraine and Ukrainian Diaspora living abroad, including in the United States and Canada. ...

Full article here.

I know the patina of the Orange Revolution and its musical anthem have dulled considerably, thanks to the cynicism of both elected and electorate, not to mention the deep disappointment emanating from so many dashed expectations.

That's a shame. Its basically like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

The OR politicians may have turned out to be flawed, but the principle of razom nas bahato is anything but.

I thought that Alina showed tremendous skill in subliminally underscoring the power of that principle for KP readers.

A good journalist, IMO, leaves a reader thinking and drawing one's own conclusions. So after reading Alina's article, I respectfully beg to differ with her on her opening conclusion.

I think it could be "that easy" to join NATO, the European Union and avoid a showdown with Russia ... if only that razom nas bahato sentiment could be recalled, and the principle behind it put into practice.

OTOH, being of Ukrainian extraction, I know that is much easier said than done...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Passionate Eye (opener) on Putin

On Sunday August 17 my DH and I watched The Putin System a documentary on CBC. (A surprising about-face for a network often referred to as the "Communist Broadcasting Corporation.")

I was suspicious of Vladimir Putin's political motives from day 1, and of course his 8 years as Russia's president only confirmed those suspicions. I rarely watch TV, but I guess I decided to watch that program to get a bit of smug comfort in seeing the MSM confirm them for me.

Little did I expect to be shocked and frightened by what I saw. But I was. Totally. This is one ruthless, menacing and evil dude.

What really drove it home for me was Putin's answer to a western journalist asking about the war in Chechnya and the murder of civilians by Russian troops.

Narrator: Putin is so sure of his hold over European countries that when, during a summit, a French journalist criticizes the war in Chechnya, he hits back, below the belt.

Putin: If you want to become an Islamic fundamentalist and be circumcised, come to Moscow. We are multiconfessional, we have very good specialists.I can recommend one for the operation. He'll make sure nothing grows back."

There was dead silence in the room as Putin (smugly) sat back and put his earplug back in.

I would have liked to see the Ukrainian viewpoint represented a bit better, seeing as Ukraine is the second-largest ex-soviet republic and as such, vital to rebuilding the old empire.

It doesn't look like this documentary is available for purchase (couldn't find anything on the CBC website) but for those who missed it, some good soul put up a few segments on YouTube. (Sophisticated downloaders can get it from bittorrent but you're on your own if you want to try it.) Perhaps the CBC can be convinced to air it again in the near future, and/or make it available for sale.

Some pretty interesting comments from Putin fans on those YouTube sites, a few are even civil.

The Putin System - Part 1



The Putin System - Part 2



The Putin System - Part 3



The Putin System - Part 4



The Putin System - Part 5



The Putin System - Part 6



The Putin System - Part 7



The Putin System - Part 8

Saturday, August 23, 2008

American MSM journalist the butt of ... her own

One of the main reasons I love the internet is that it offers an opportunity to expose latter-day Walter Duranty wannabes and limit their influence on the unsuspecting reading public.

But I don't imagine everyone is keen on it. Especially American mainstream journalists nostalgic for the good old days of McCarthyism ... and the heyday of yellow journalism.

The title of this article says it all: LATimes Brooks Thinks Russia/Georgia War is Funny

... One wonders how the old Georgian lady seen in news photos standing wounded among the ruins of her apartment building, or the Georgian Mother running down the street, infant in her arms, trying to escape Russian tanks might feel about the humor with which Brooks brings to bear upon their plight?

But, there it is for all to see in Brooks'
"The Cold War, reheated" wherein Brooks puts the funny back in war. It's been too serious for too long for Brooks, apparently. We need the sunny side of ethnic cleansing, brutal invasion, and crushing occupation, don't we? ...

[W]hy in Brooks' eyes is it such a bad thing that we offered NATO membership to the nascent democratic countries in the formerly Soviet satellite areas? Does she not realize we floated the same offer to Russia? Should not democracies attempt to stick together, assist each other, support each other?


Full story with comments here. It's a great example of how a clear thinker and skilled writer can totally debunk the propaganda peddled by totalitarianism's "useful idiots" on a regular basis.

It's also funny to see an exposé on how inept the MSM has become at true satire. Might be that effective satire requires somewhat more skill and sophistication than mere proselytization of a bankrupt ideology.

H/T to NewsBusters.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vancouver audio archives updated to August 17

For all you Chetverta Khvilya fans, the audio archives at the NH website are now up-to-date. There's 6 weeks worth of the most recent shows for you to enjoy.

Apologies for the late posting, but Pavlo has been run off his feet lately, moving and renovating while working two jobs! I think things are settling down a bit now, tho. So I hope you'll forgive us both ... and go enjoy an orgy of 4Wave shows!

Also, the Nash Holos pages and audio archives are also current.

It's been a crazy summer (a good crazy, tho) and I've not been around much ... basically only enough to produce the program and upload it. It's going to stay crazy for a couple more months, as some transitioning and revamping goes on here at Nash Holos.

As they say in show biz "The show must go on" and of course it will. But there might be a few bumps along the way with the online archiving ... so thank you in advance for your patience.

Google Ads - Update 2

I've been checking on and off and have been noticing fewer sleazy ads and more desirable ones, so have moved Google AdSense back to a more prominent spot.

Mostly it's Yevshan I see, although a few other ones have popped up, including one for help blogging. I'm still waiting to see ads by companies like Cheemo perogies, language programs like BYKI and Pimsleur ... we'll see what comes next I guess.

But the next time I see a sleazy ad, back down it goes!

Massacre of Cossacks at Lienz

I just found out about the Massacre of Cossacks at Lienz, from my awesome writing mentor, Marsha Skrypuch.

On the one hand, I am thankful she shared it. On the other, I almost wish she didn't. What a heart-breaking and stomach-turning account of a shameful moment in history.

... the Cossack Corps of General Domanov, consisting of about 28,000 persons, including women and children, on leaving Italian territory in early May 1945, crossed over the mountain pass into Austria and set up camp in the valley of the river Drau.

The Staff of the Cossacks and a part of the administrative units were billeted within the city limits of the town of Lienz. The Cossack regiments (disarmed) camped on adjoining territory in tents, while the noncombatants, the aged, the women and children, found quarters in the camp Peggetz, about two miles outside the city.

The attitude of the British authorities towards the Cossacks was quite beyond reproach and even benevolent up to May 26th, and there was nothing to indicate the impending catastrophe. ...

The next day, May 27th, at about 10:00 A.M., the British ordered all officers to turn in their pistols which, so far, they had been permitted to keep. ...

On the morning of May 28th all officers, military officials, and medics were ordered to report at 1:00 P.M. to the square before the Staff billets, to be moved in trucks according to directives from the British General. ...

Twenty-four hours later, all these unfortunate prisoners were transported into the Soviet Zone and were handed over to the Soviets. Only five persons were able to escape by a miracle. Numerous camp inmates had committed suicide, numerous others were killed by the guards while attempting an escape, while some had been executed on the way to the Soviet Zone, and it is unknown to this day exactly how many reached the Soviet Union.

You can read the details (if you think you can stomach them) here.

What a proud [not!] moment in history for the WWII allies.

And then the Cold War came as a surprise to the west? And now, everyone is shocked at Russians drunk on oil and power, waging war on its neighbours, and sabre-rattling with impunity?

Makes you marvel at the depth of human stupidity.

Extraordinary modern Ukrainian music

While I was toodling around Stepan's website I ended up on YouTube and came across this video:



I was attracted to it because of the name, Horpyna, which if I recall correctly is the name of a Ukrainian (?) witch in the movie With Fire and Sword, which I saw at the Adult Ukrainian Immersion Camp in Saskatchewan a couple of summers ago. (And which btw I highly recommend if you're looking for a great time and incredible Ukrainian food.)

Anyway, this group Horpyna is unbelievable. They're Ukrainians in Poland, and you can find out a bit more about them here.

More please!! This is indicative of the kind of distinctive Ukrainian music genre I've been hoping would materialize and get marketed to the world. They've dubbed their music as "folk&roll.' As I've said before, it's a shame groups like this aren't being properly promoted and their music marketed widely. Maybe it will happen someday. One can only hope!

But in the meantime ... I'd love a copy of their CD (if they have one) for the Nash Holos library. And I sure hope they plan to tour Canada sometime soon, with a stop in Vancouver. Awesome!

Halychanochka

Stepan Pasicznyk, a.k.a. "Ludwig" just sent this YouTube video to our email group of broadcasters and friends.

Many thanks, Stepan. What a lovely tribute to your friend!




This song is also on Stepan's first solo CD "Ludwig's Eclectic Collection" ... it's the second track. Great song! And there's more at his website, so do stop by and check it out.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Google Ads - Update

Well, since my original post about my Google Ad frustrations, looks like there's been a wee bit of progress made.

1. I think the ad blocking is working. Altho I am not able to monitor the blog 24/7 it seems those sleazy URLs that I put in my Competitive Ad Filter aren't showing up anymore.

2. Today I actually saw a legitimate, relevant Ukrainian company ad! Yay! It was Yevshan advertising gifts, videos, books, etc. It only took 2 days for a respectable, relevant ad to show up. Wow, what a system.

3. I earned one cent in my first two days with AdSense. I'm not sure what to think about that.

On the one hand, while it may seem a piddly amount, given my learning curve and frustrations (not to mention sticking the ads at the very bottom of the blog) ... and the fact that AdSense is not exactly a big moneymaker for most bloggers (except for the really big-name ones, which I am not, obviously), it is actually quite amazing that I made any money at all.

OTOH, given my complaint and suspicion that the ads (with the happy exception of Yevshan) are mostly likely for flesh peddlers, could that money have been generated by pervs clicking on those ads?

If so, ick. (Although I highly doubt that pervs would be interested in this blog!)

And anyway, it seems I spoke/wrote too soon. I see that the Yevshan ad has now been replaced with "Asian women look for men."

Great placement targetting there, eh?

Sigh.

Kyiv on Monopoly board!

The Ukrainian community is all abuzz over the latest delightful news that Kyiv is on the board of the new world edition of the popular boardgame, Monopoly. (Official announcement here.)

Congratulations and thanks to all those who helped make it happen by responding to the many calls (including mine) to vote for their favourite city. It was a fun experience, and a great exercise in online democracy!

I only had to Google one city – Gdynia. Geography has never been my forté, and apparently I'm not alone. Hopefully the new world edition will serve to educate other geographically-challenged folk as well.

Altho to be fair, a lot of cities have been changing their names and/or the spelling of them in recent years, so keeping up on all the changes can be quite the challenge.

I've been pretty hard on people who are slow to use the proper English spelling of Ukraine's capital (it's Kyiv, dammit!) and other Ukrainian cities in these post-soviet times. But here I was myself oblivious to the fact that Gydnia is in Poland and is in fact the new name of the former Gdansk.

So, I guess, as an anonymous commenter suggested on my latest harangue, I could maybe cut folks a bit of slack now and again :-)

Anyway, getting back to the new world Monopoly gameboard... All three Canadian cities also made the cut – Montreal, my home town of Vancouver, and Toronto (oh well, nothing in life is perfect).

These are the cities (in alphabetical order) on the board of the World Edition of Monopoly:

Athens
Barcelona
Beijing
Belgrade
Capetown
Gdynia
Hong Kong
Istanbul
Jerusalem
Kyiv
London
Montreal
New York
Paris
Riga
Rome
Shanghai
Sydney
Taipei
Tokyo
Toronto
Vancouver

H/T to Roman at Ukemonde .... and also to Vasyl who circulated the Ukrainian-language announcement by email when it was just hot off the press!

Should the words in Ukraine's national anthem be updated?

I was glad to read in a recent article that many modern Ukrainians think so, and that the front man of one of Ukraine's most popular rock bands is leading the charge.

... Oleh Skrypka, a popular Ukrainian folk and rock musician, has written up new lyrics for an old song that sounds, to some, too much like a dirge.

Skrypka will sing his version of the anthem on Aug. 23 on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), the day before Ukraine celebrates its 17th anniversary as an independent nation.

Skrypka, who has in recent years turned into a leading proponent for reviving lost Ukrainian traditions and folklore, is not pushing his version per se.

But he does want to start a discussion – and offer what he says is a more upbeat alternative...

Full article here.

Being a traditionalist and history buff, I agree that the current lyrics are revolutionary and have historical significance and all. But the reality is that they are outdated.

In the 21st century, the populace in developed and developing countries are better educated, more optimistic, and generally empowered as a result. With that comes a positive, "can-do" level of confidence that is unprecedented (at least in modern history).

I can see the defiance of the opening lyrics "Ukraine has not yet perished" as being positive for 19th century and perhaps even 20th century Ukrainians. Those were grim times in which they were hanging on to their national existence by a thread. The sentiment understandably trickled down to the individual level, too, given the devastation of foreign occupation in modern history.

But in the 21st century, Ukraine is in a better position ... corrupt oligarch leaders notwithstanding. The people are demanding better leadership and accountability from their politicians, and are forming international alliances on both the official and grassroots levels.

So perhaps it's time for the national anthem to reflect that changing mindset? Ukraine won't be the first (young) country to update its anthem and fine-tune the lyrics. Canada went through that process as well, and I suspect that as long as a country is growing and thriving, that process will be ongoing!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Google Ads

You may have noticed that I've added Google ads to this blog site... when I moved to the "new and improved" Blogger and updated the design I thought I'd get with the program and add Google ads like most blogs have these days.

However, I'd like to apologize for the ones advertising Ukrainian women and girls as though they were commodities like pork bellies or barrels of crude oil. (Which seems to make up the bulk of the ads so far.)

Sorry, but I am very suspicious of companies advertising "women for serious relation"and the like. Don't try to tell me an outfit like that is an innocent dating service for marriage-minded lovelorn singles. Especially if it's based in Eastern Europe. And especially since students recently held a protest against "sex tourists" contaminating Ukraine with their presence. (Story here.)

Unfortunately, us bloggers have no control over who advertises with Google. But apparently there is a way to filter ads that appear on our sites. So I'm just trying to figure out how that works.

In the meantime, just an observation. Surely to goodness there are legitimate and decent businesses advertising products and services more appropriate to the topics I blog about. I have yet to make a post about dating, sex, marriage, romance or relationships. So why on earth are those the kind of ads that show up on my blog?

Where are the ads by music labels, book publishers, travel agencies, food vendors, restaurants, artisans and crafters, service providers, entertainers, Ukrainian language programs, etc. etc.?? Surely businesses like that advertise on Google. (But if not, I suppose that begs a question...)

Anyway, I'll update this post when I figure out about the ad filtering, and find out if these sleazy advertisers can actually be blocked. Google doesn't guarantee it, and they require a reason for blocking an advertiser.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: I've decided to move the Google Ads to the very bottom of the page until such time as their "contextually based" ads contain respectable and relevant businesses that would be of interest to readers of this blog. No point cluttering up the site before then.

Lovely Ukraine video

This is a great promotional video of Ukraine:



I noticed some hostile comments on the YouTube site by disgruntled viewers longing for the imperialist "good old days." It's too bad they're so unhappy at being unable to do the impossible ... i.e., turn back the clock. Even if they could, I suspect they would probably still not be happy. (You know that saying – Be careful what you wish for.)

The borders of eastern Europe have been shifting for centuries. Wouldn't it be better if each of us learned as much from history as possible... and shared that knowledge generously and respectfully? I think for inhabitants of Ukraine's neighbouring countries, that would be the best way to honour the glory of their own nations. Not to mention finally put an end to the horrific bloodshed that has accompanied those border shifts over the centuries.

H/T to Academic Dean.

Good site for Ukrainian news

I've been following the blog Ukrainian Canadian - A site for kozak canucks for a while now.

It has a pretty good lineup of Ukrainian news articles. Unfortunately, you have to log in to leave a comment, tho. Yet another step and online commitment. However, die-hard news hounds may not mind too much. :-)

I have no idea who the blog author is ... other than his name is Andrew and he visits this blog from time to time and kindly leaves a comment, along with a link to his blog. (Thanks for the links back from your blog, Andrew!)

If you are a news hound, I recommend that you visit his site regularly, and/or subscribe to his RSS feed if you haven't yet.

And make sure to leave a comment now and again on one of his posts. If you're still shy about doing that, keep in mind that the more active Ukrainian community members are in the blogosphere, the stronger our community will become. Not least of all due to a tighter and more focussed network.

Razom nas bahato...

Monday, August 11, 2008

How long will it take?

Sigh.

It seems to me it didn't take nearly as long for the world to make the switch from Constantinople to Istanbul, Peking to Beijing, and Bombai to Mumbai?

So why the mental block with Ukrainian cities???

Does someone need to record another hit song and post the lyrics and a YouTube video online before some people will finally get it?

So just to try and be helpful, here's a little refresher spelling lesson for the (nameless) blogger who posted an otherwise lovely writeup of Sandy's Ukrainian Kitchen in the Vancouver Island city of Nanaimo.

1. It's Kyiv ... not Kiev. Has been so since 1996. Officially, even.
2. It's Lviv ... not Lvov. See #1.
3. It's Ukraine ... no "the" please. (You wouldn't say "The Canada" or "The France" ... hopefully?)

Anyone using these (and other) old spellings for Ukrainian place names is 17 years behind the times! Not cool.

The latter spellings are Soviet-era, so using them is not just incorrect. It's outdated and very passé.

Yes, I know ... change is hard and who wants to do it, especially with the little things. Problem is, if you don't do it, you run the risk of getting old and stodgy a lot sooner. And it all starts with, um, the "little" things.

So do yourself a favour, and get with the times!

Church politics in Ukraine

I was dismayed, altho not particularly surprised, at this article about the ongoing skirmish between Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox clerics.

Ukraine stops broadcasting Russian Orthodox TV channel Soyuz

Moscow, August 11, Interfax - About 25 operators of cable television in Kiev, Sevastopol and Odessa [have] terminated their cooperation with Soyuz."Broadcasting of the Soyuz Orthodox TV channel is stopped in Ukraine," press-service of the Ukrainian Union of Orthodox Citizens told Interfax-Religion.

The interviewee of the agency said it became a compulsory measure taken by operators "to execute decisions of the Ukrainian National Security Council on "cleanup" of informational space in the country."


There are not-so-thinly-veiled political undertones to this complaint:...

They reminded [sic] it was "not the first "Orange" act against Orthodox television: Orthodox channel Kievskaya Rus was barred from broadcasting after "the Orange Revolution." ...

Somebody tell these guys that the Orange Revolution is history .. but that the Ukrainian quest for sovereignty and freedom from oppression lives on. They don't seem to get that.

"It's clear Orthodox majority in Ukraine doesn't want to listen to anti-canonical anti-church absurd about "local Ukrainian Church" and "Orthodox Pope" in the person of the Constantinople Patriarch, but those who seek separation of the Ukrainian Church from the Russian spare no effort to impose this absurd [sic] on Ukraine," representatives of Orthodox community stated.

Um, right. Now who's being absurd?

This may come across as kind of a crazy, wacky idea... but might Russian Orthodox hierarchs and clerics do better to be promoting their Christian cultural heritage (by example) rather than their Russian political heritage (by bullying)? I dunno. Just a thought.

Here's another. If Ukrainians want their own Orthodox church, why not just let them have it and get on with spreading the Good News... together, albeit in your separate cultural milieus. Didn't the spiritual leader the Orthodox ostensibly follow (i.e., Jesus Christ) say something about His kingdom not being of this world?

Ostensibly is an operative word, obviously. Otherwise, there'd be much better, happier news to blog about on the eastern Christian religious scene.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Is Georgia the new Sudetenland?

This war Russia has started in Georgia is very scary. Mostly because it is being allowed to happen.

I really hate it when history is allowed to repeat itself... especially the really ugly parts of history, like wars and the misery they inevitably inflict on people. And the apathy (if not cooperation) of the masses that inevitably allows it to happen.

Does anyone remember that the two world wars of the 20th century began in Eastern Europe ... you know, that part of the planet that the "west" considers (to its obvious detriment) insignificant?

Or how Russian communist and German Nazi leaders promoted popular Marxist tenets to win over enough of the populace to seize power ... and then once they did, proceeded to massacre millions who saw them for what they were? (And, btw, the western world has still not held them all accountable and still flatly refuses to. But, that's another story for another post.)

Sadly, with this Russian invasion of Georgia, it looks like déja vue all over again.

For anyone who believes that the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Iron Curtain way back in 1989, I suggest heading over to Wikipedia and checking out the entry on Sudetenland. You'll find some astonishingly clear parallels between what Nazi Germany did to a new country called Czechoslovakia and what Russia is currently doing to a new country called Georgia.

Which leads me to my concern about the future of my ancestral homeland.

Will US president Bush become the 21st century's Neville Chamberlain? And will Ukraine be Russia's next target, with the Black Sea fleet skirmish as an excuse to follow the historical precendent set in Poland in 1939 and take over the eastern, supposedly "pro-Russian" half of Ukraine... for starters?

And, the $64k question: Will the rest of the western world knuckle under to this new group of thugs that has set up base in Russia, the way the Nazis took over Germany?

At least I'm not the only one asking the question. Beth Shaw over at Right Pundits has a pretty insightful analysis of the Russia Georgia war, as has Alan Philips in his article "Russia knew the west wouldn't dare help Georgia."

So I guess a few of us do remember how past world wars started. Too bad the appeasers can't recognize themselves ... but what do they care about the future consequences for others of their spinelessness? They're not the ones who will die on the battlefield, get raped and/or tortured, or lose loved ones in the ugliness of the war they allowed to happen.

And all for the sake of oil. As Beth asks, why aren't the "blood for oil" screamers on a plane heading for a protest at the Kremlin, hmm?? Especially since the Georgian president is waving a white flag, to which the Kremlin has responded with more bombing. Nice.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ukrainian dance (mis)labelled as Russian on TV program

Some members of the Ukrainian Canadian community recently objected to this episode of the "reality" show "So You Think You Can Dance?" ...





The objection was that not only a Ukrainian dance but Ukrainian dance costumes were being passed off on this TV program as "18th century Russian street dancing." To add insult to injury, they call it the "trepak" which is the Ukrainian-to-Russian-to-English transliteration (sigh) for the Ukrainian dance "tropak." And the tropak is, definitely, a Ukrainian folk dance. And it was not exactly a common sight on 18th century Russian streets.

Those who object to the objectors tend to overlook these inconvenient facts. They justify their obtuseness by pointing out that this dance is from The Nutcracker, a ballet by the Russian composer Tchaikovsky, and that since it was performed to the musical score from the ballet (rather than a Ukrainian folk tune, presumably) it can legitimately be labelled a Russian dance.

Well, actually, it can't. Especially not in the context of "Russian street dancing." According to Wikipedia:

The Tropak ...is a traditional Ukrainian folk dance from the Slobozhan region of Ukraine (around the city of Kharkiv) settled primarilly[sic] by descendants of the Zaporozhian Cossacks ... The tropak differs from the better known Hopak in chordal use and also in that the tempo gradually speeds up throughout the dance.

The Tropak was one of the traditional instrumental dances played by blind itinerant musicians [and] was also one of the dances often included in the repertoire of village violinists in Eastern Ukraine.

The tropak went out of fashion in the 1930's during the major transformations in Ukrainian village society and culture that happened in Soviet Ukraine at that time.


Oddly enough, Wikipedia goes on to say:

As one of several consecutive ethnic dances in Tchaikovsky's ballet, The Nutcracker, the Trepak often also goes under the name "Russian Dance"...

No reason stated why it also goes under that name. (Of course, the reason rarely is.)

So there was a hue and cry in the Ukrainian community, asking for a rush of letters to the network. There was even a petition being circulated in an attempt to urge them to correct their error on the air.

Right. As if they would. And as if they believe (or care) that they have insulted millions of Ukrainians. This is where I part company with the community activists all up in arms over this.

Fox TV is not a government or university bureaucracy. They are a business, big business. And their business is entertainment. Here's a little look behind-the-scenes....




Now I do agree that it's quite reprehensible of the producer to have misrepresented this dance so blatantly. I'd be very surprised if he didn't know what a slap in the face it would be to Ukrainians. (If he didn't, then he's extremely stupid and deserves to be fired.)

OTOH, if he did then you have to wonder at the motivation. What disservice to the program's viewers to present them with a slipshod product, given that with just a wee bit of research online, anyone could clear up the confusion. So if it isn't arbitrary mean-spiritedness towards Ukrainians, it was sloppiness and a callous disregard for the integrity of their product, and the intelligent of their audiences. (In which case they really should check out internet gurus Chris Andersen or Seth Godin.)

But, I digress.

Yes, I think Ukrainians are justified in feeling insulted. And yes, I think that the program producer is either a flaming idiot or just too full of himself to see around his stuffed shirt.

However, those are my personal feelings about it. On a professional level, I think it was pointless and maybe even counterproductive to send a flurry of letters (much leass a petition!) to egomaniacs who run TV networks. And face it, they all are egomanics. It just comes with the territory. They can't help it.

Author Marsha Skrypuch, who edited a groundbreaking anthology of Ukrainian stories called Kobzar’s Children, says that if Ukrainians don't get better at telling our stories, someone else will (because they're interesting and entertaining!). But if they do, chances are they won't tell them right.

I quite agree. I think our community needs to step up to the plate better. This whole thing is, really, more about show business, and storytelling, than it is about history. The reality is that, by the time the story gets to the stage, the history is pretty much cast in metaphor and it’s just too tedious and expensive to change a good (enough) story just for the sake of historical accuracy. The finer details of which, quite frankly, the majority of viewers probably don't really much care about.

I think it would have been far more productive if community activists attempted to connect and network with the choreographer who, after all, runs a Ukrainian dance school for kids in LA. Or, at least to contact him and find out why he represented the tropak to the network as a Russian dance.

The thing is, it could be that this choreographer is the only one who bothered to pitch Ukrainian dance to the mainstream entertainment industry. And/or it could be that this (just getting the dance and the costumes in front of the cameras) is as far as he could get, at least for now. Or, maybe I’m being naïve and it was all very deliberate. Who knows, really? But whatever the case, I think that maybe it’s time for community to consider a different, more pro-active approach if we want to see a better representation of Ukrainian history on stage and screen.

There's no business like show business, but the important thing to remember is that it is all business. And there's no place in it for amateurs, especially those who wear their hearts on their sleeves.

But, this has been a long, earnest and far too serious post. If you have stuck it out this far, you deserve a treat. (Heck, you deserve a medal!) So enough of the serious stuff. Time now for some fun… Ukrainian style.

Here are a couple of treats for you. Enjoy!

Folk! Ukrainian Dance Documentary


Here’s the hopak expertly done by Virsky … can you believe those little kids???




And my DH’s all-time favourite … and one of mine too! Volyn.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Stefan Petelycky honoured by Ukraine

A man who I feel privileged to call a friend was recently honoured by the Government of Ukraine.

On July 30, the Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, Ihor Ostash, awarded Stefan Petelycky a medal for his works and heroic exploits.

The event was held in Richmond, in the community hall of the Ukrainian Community Society of Ivan Franko.

I missed the presentation, but there was some very good local coverage of the event. An article in the community weekly Richmond Review (here) and in the daily tabloid The Province (here).

There was also a CBC interview (here) which was quite good... apart from the interviewer's gaffe of "the Ukraine" (sigh) and a lack of acknowledgement of the passing of his friend, a former Auschwitz cellmate, in Siberia 4 years ago. (I know it's all too easy to tune out things that aren't on your list of interview questions, but it's the decent thing to do.) For the interview, scroll to July 30.

Stefan is the author of an autobiography called Into Auschwitz, For Ukraine. It's sold out but hopefully there will be another printing soon. There were a couple of reviews in the Ukrainian Weekly that give a good overview of the book, one by Myron Kuropas (here) and one by Orysia Tracz (here).

An excerpt of that book, called The Many Circles of Hell, was included in the anthology Kobzar's Children: A Century of Untold Ukrainian Stories. That book is still available in softcover (the hardcover run sold out quickly) from major booksellers or direct from the publisher.

Stefan turned 85 this spring, and he runs circles around people half his age. He is truly a national treasure, and more deserving of this honour than words can express.

Mnohaya Lita!

Disastrous flooding in Ukraine

Recent floods in western Ukraine have killed 22 people, destroyed homes, farmland and roads and prompted the evacuation of 20,000 residents. More than 40,000 homes were flooded. Ivano-Frankivsk, Vynnytsia, Transcarpathia, Lviv,Ternopil and Chernivtsi oblasts have been affected. Senior government officials havedescribed the flooding as the worst in a century.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress in cooperation with Ukrainian Canadian Social Services and Embassy of Ukraine calls on all Canadians to participate in efforts to alleviate the effects of this disaster.

If you would like to help, you can send a donation to Ukrainian Canadian Social Services, Inc., National Headquarters, 2445 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M6S 1P7 (cheques should be made out to the“Pomich Ukraini Fund”).

Or you can make a donation online at their website.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Malevolent hackers target Ukraine

Articles like this always leave me shaking my head...

... Once again, appeals in Russian Internet forums calling for all Russian hackers to unite and launch a large-scale attack on the computer networks of government institutions in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are on the increase, and now Ukraine is being included as a necessary target.

Don't these people have anything better to do? Can't they get it through their heads that bullying tactics are ineffective in the long run ... and these days increasingly in the short run?

Those making the appeals, which many speculate are coming from the FSB again, state that Russian hackers are dissatisfied with “the way Russian-speakers are treated in Baltic countries,” and with the ban on the use of Soviet symbols.

Well, boo hoo. The Soviet Union is dead, guys. Kaput! I know you desperately want it to come back to life, but hey, you're getting a taste of what Russian-speaking monarchists and Christians experienced a century or so ago. Consider this a time travel opportunity in which you can get first-hand experience of the golden rule (or is it more accurately called karma?) in action.

But some old attitudes die hard, and strong western alliances apparently have quite alarmed erstwhile time-traveling imperialist throwbacks.

Ukraine... is being targeted ... due to its NATO aspirations. ...

“We are fed up with NATO’s encroachment on our motherland, we have had enough of Ukrainian politicians who have forgotten their nation and only think about their own interests, and we are fed up with the Estonian governmental institutions which blatantly re-write history and support fascism,” says the appeal appearing on Internet forums throughout Russia.

Nothing like subtley invoking Godwin's Law (did they think no one would notice?) in their laughable statement about Estonia's government.

As for "Ukrainian politicians who have fogotten their nation and only think about their own interests" these can only be described as sellouts to occupying forces, and have been doing so, sadly, for centuries.

It is thought that the hackers intend replacing the original content on the websites they hack into with red stars and photos of Soviet soldiers...

How juvenile... and dated. As if anyone will be swayed to their position by such bullyboy tactics. All they will do is strengthen the safeguards against these kinds of vicious attacks. They may be clever, but they're not the only ones who are smart.

A case in point in the wonderful site Infoukes. That's a place where hackers come face to face with smart guys who are also decent. The hackers going after the Infoukes guys can't seem to acknowledge their smarts and leave well enough alone, tho.

So maybe they aren't that smart after all.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Canada has new ambassador to Ukraine

Included in a round of new diplomatic appointments by Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs on July 25 is a new Ambassador to Ukraine, G. Daniel Caron.

Here's what the government's press release has to say about him:

G. Daniel Caron (BA [Economics], Université Laval, 1980) has been deputy head of mission and minister-counsellor at the Embassy of Canada in Mexico since August 2005. He has occupied several senior positions within the Government of Canada over the past 27 years. He was director of the Japan Division at the Department of External Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa and counsellor at the Mission of Canada to the European Union in Brussels. Prior to this, Mr. Caron served as deputy director, Northern Europe Division and completed an assignment as regional director with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In the 1990s, Mr. Caron served as a trade commissioner with the Japan Division and, during the 1980s, consul and trade commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada in Boston. He was part of the Canadian team that negotiated with France concerning fishing rights around Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. In 1978, Mr. Caron represented Canada in Ouagadougou at an international youth conference hosted by La Francophonie’s Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique. He and his wife Maria Aparicio have two children, Jean-Xavier and Marie-Lou. G. Daniel Caron succeeds Abina Dann.

Quite frankly, since Derek Fraser was our ambassador to Ukraine, I forgot there even was one. Hopefully this one will be a little more proactive and interactive ... and has a clue that many Canadians are interested in Ukraine and our country's role in the relationship between the two countries. (Ahem.)

Maybe he can even convince the Canadian government to update its list of ambassadors to Ukraine. (The last update was in 2006.)

I couldn't find a whole lot about our new ambassador on Google or the government website. That of course speaks only to my ineptitude in finding the info, not the government's in providing it. (Another story altogether.) So if anyone has a lead on more info, including a photo, please share!