Friday, May 12, 2006

And they don't even hand out pins...

When I was ten or eleven, BC High, the high school my dad has taught at for forty years (!!) and my alma mater, was part of a summer high school exchange with students from still-Soviet Russia, For a couple of nights, we hosted two of the adults from the exchange, which consisted of about 20 or so kids and four or five adults. I don't remember much about the trip- I was only around for the first evening's reception, having basketball camp or something equally vital the next day. I rember there were girls- I had just discovered girls, so any girls, especially foreign ones, were of immediate interest.

Two things do stand out in my head. One was all of the little pins they gave us as gifts- little plastic pins of Lenin's head, the hammer and sickle, etc. Even during Glastnost, this seemed a little subversive, and maybe they were more fun for that reason. Second, one of the women we hosted was a math teacher or something, and the other, whose English was substantially better than any of the others, was never really clear about why she had come along, and none of the Russians explanied. The American adults just figured she was KGB. Big Brother personified.

I remembered this story yesterday after seeing the reports about the NSA's secret database. I'm too jaded to be surprised, but am certainly still outraged. Its not very far from here to there, and not nearly as far as we think. If this, combined with the news that Congress just extended tax cuts for the richest today, doesn't mobilize us coddled minions to action, I don't know what will.

EDIT: cogent discussion of if Wubba represents facism- good starting point is here.

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