Sunday, December 30, 2007

Iguazu

"Poor Niagara"
-Eleanor Roosevelt

I have spent the last week with my family, touring around BA. It has been a glutinous week of tourism, and a nice way for me to say goodbye to BA by seeing the sights one last time. We came yesterday to the Iguazu Falls. They are stunning, and make Niagara looks like a bathtub. Yesterday, we arrived and visited La Garganta del Diablo (The Devil´s Throat). We took a little tourist train to get there. The Devil´s throat is a semi-circle of waterfalls that is practically indescribable. I decided that if I am ever going to commit suicide, I am tossing myself into the falls. You can get up real close via walkways, and you get soaked in the mist and spray.

Today, we woke up early. Not as early as we thought, since Argentina changed time. It added an hour, which is strange to do it now. Before it didn´t accept daylight savings time, so was an hour off Brazil and Uruguay. Strange time to do it. We went over to the park, and walked to different waterfalls. It was amazing. We hiked through little paths and above different waterfalls. We also saw coaties, racoon-like creatures. I will have to post my pics soon, because my words simply can´t describe the awe-inspiring falls. Such power and beauty captured in the falls is a rather humbling reminder of how small and powerless we really are.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Remembering Benazir Bhutto

I have been glued to the tv and internet following the news of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. She was a brave woman, who earned my respect for her courage and vision of what Pakistan could be. Having visited Pakistan, and with many friends there, I worry for about all that's going on. I don't have much more to offer than my sorrow and concern, so I will simply post an article by David Ignatius of the Washington Post.

I am also posting something that I originally posted when I visited the site where Indira Gandhi was assassinated. It was something that Indira Gandhi wrote, and I know that despite the tensions between their respective countries, Benazir Bhutto respected her.

"If I die a violent death as some fear and a few are plotting, I know the violence will be in the thought and the actions of the assassins, not in my dying- for no hate is deep enough to overshadow my love for my people and my country. No force is strong enough to divert me from my purpose and my endeavors to take the country forward."

New pics up

New pictures from Mendoza, Cordoba, Cristina's inauguration and my kiddies. Click the link above.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Feliz Navidad

So I was wondering what Jesus would think if he came back for Christmas? Would he wonder about all the cold weather decorations? The fellow was from Israel, there ain't a lot of snow this time of year, and there sure aren't reindeer. It's summer here and they still have winter decorations up. And what would he say about Santa? I'm pretty sure he would give a funny eye to the Christmas ham, as he was a good Jewish boy. If Jesus did have a yule tide log, it would probably be a palm tree. Anywho, Merry XMAS to all and to all a good night.

I have no one's christmas to ruin this year like I did last year on an island in Laos. Some girls were having an xmas party, and I invited everyone to the wrong bar. Jaja, leave it to the Jew to ruin xmas. I skipped their party too, for drinks with a Canadian chica and an irie reggae bar.

It is interesting, Christmas here feels a little subdued. Far less in your face than in the US. Or even in China, Vietnam and Laos. Funny how Communist, Buddhist countries made a bigger production than a Catholic one. And there are no BS newscasts about the "War against Christmas." I remember a few years ago, my Dad's office had a "Happy Holidays" sign on the front door, and someone scratched that out and wrote, "Just say Merry Christmas." Ummm, no. My Dad and his office partners are all Jewish, so deal with the Happy Holiday greeting and go kwanzaa yourself. As for me, I'm off to Chinatown with the fam to have the traditional Jewish christmas dinner.

My family has been here for a few days now, sans my sis. She couldn't get off work to come. We have been touring the city, and it has been a nice way to see all the sites one last time. It is also a very different way of seeing the city, as in cabs and tabs picked up. Like the Jeffersons, I moved today into their apartment. My brother and I had holed up in my place for a few days of fun. Bye-bye putas and trannies, I shall miss y'all so. I'm in a far different world these days, and I am enjoying it. Meanwhile, it is fun going to bars with the little bro. He is 18, so is legal here. It is great to send him to get drinks. I will have to wait a few more years to do that again.

PS: Back from the Jewish xmas festivities of Chinese food in Barrio Chino. We went to the one restaurant that was open, and of course happened upon another group of Jews. They were the only other foreigners, and as we were chatting we established our MOT status when I said, "and if I may be some presumptuous as to say chag sameyach." This brought laughs from the group who giggled about the common tradition. Meanwhile, it sounds like Christmas in Baghdad. At the stroke of midnight, fireworks started lighting up the night sky, and they haven't ceased. People just setting them off from the top of buildings, and roaring booms are echoing across the city. Reminds me a little of Lahore and Basant, without people shooting ak-47s in the air.

PPS: A video sent to me about Chinese food on Xmas by a fellow Jew named Mikey who was dining at the same restaurant.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

All news is local

So here in Argentina, the papers are running front page spreads about the corruption/bribe story involving Venezuala and Christina Fernandez. The news is calling it the lowest point of US-Argentine relations, and terming it a major crisis. Yet when I peruse the US papers, I can find only scant mention of the story. The link I posted above took a while to find, far from front page stuff.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jesuitica

After my nap, I spent the morning wandering around the pleasant pedestrian streets and checking out the old churches. Cordoba was a Jesuit stronghold, and they founded the oldest university in the Americas. I had lunch of french bread, tomatoes, avocado and cheese on the roof of my hostel, under the blue and white mosiac dome of the old cathedral. I also visited an old Jesuit crypt that was unearthed a few years back, when the local phone company was doing some digging.

It was unbelievably hot in the afternoon, so I opted for some ice cream and a movie. I saw "The Assasination of Jesse James," by Robert Redford and staring Brad Pitt. It was a good flick, with great cinematography. I didnt do much else in Cordoba, save hanging out on the roof of the hostel with a French Basque girl, eating cherries and plums as we chatted and watched fireworks explode over the Cathedral´s domes and the booms echo off the surrounding buildings.

Figures I would get sick just a few days before my family comes. I have a small case of bronchitis and a cold. I woke up feeling ill, so I decided to head back early to recooperate before the family visit. I took a nice 11 hour bus back. As I was waiting for the bus, I chatted with a Spainard from Cordoba (the original) and we both agreed that the first Cordoba is better. I spent the bus napping, reading and thinking about my plans for January. My return to BA was heralded with fireworks overhead.

I had planned to go to Patagonia, but it is looking increasingly unlikely. It is expensive to travel in Patagonia, and I am afraid that my meager budget can´t support such a trip. I am looking into alternative plans, such as Boliva and Paraguay, both of which are cheaper options. Even with a few free places to stay in Patagonia, it is an expensive venture. I still have a little time to decide, and I am loathe to abandon my plans to trek to the end of the earth, play with penguins and sip scotch at the straits of Magellen; however I also need to be realistic about my financial situation and making my moneda last.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cordoba

A long night bus, spent in the back aisle, sleeping sprawled out on the floor. The joys of cheap travel. I arrived to Cordoba, Argentina´s second city and once-Jesuit stronghold. Off for a nap before touring the city.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lujos

The luxury continues with a breakfast of muesli with fresh bananas and ripe peaches. Medialunas (croissants) and homemade bread with fresh honey, marmelade and dulce de leche. Coffee with cream. Fresh squeezed orange juice. Off to the thermal baths, la vida es un lujo.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mendoza

Un regalo de vino, aceites, fernet, asado, andes. Life is perfect. La vida es llena.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The beginning of the end

I am starting to wind down my Argentine life, and doing so with considerable sadness. I have to come really enjoy my life here. It took a while, but things have gone dulce.

On Wednesday, I had my final day at the Baby Help center. The kiddies had prepared me a lovely going-away gift, it was very touching. I had my last day as Billy Madison, and I will miss my babies. I then met up with Miriam and Stephen, who were indeed able to land. I took them to La Americana- la reina de las empanadas, for the best empanadas in the city. I then took them on a hyper tour of BA. We walked through a protest down to the Casa Rosada, with Stephen joining in solidarity. Then we went up to Recoleta cemetary, and after for some ice cream. A quick tour of San Telmo, then we met Modi, the deputy chief of mission for the Israeli Embassy. Miriam had worked for him, and i met him earlier. We went back to meet his wife and kids (triplets!), and then went to a fantastic tango dinner show in La Boca. It was my first tourist tango show, and it was very nice.

Yesterday, I had my final English class with my students Alex and Hernan. I prepared a special class of slang and vulgarities. Repeat after me: badunkadunk; repeat after me: the shocker; repeat after me: fo´shizzle, my nizzle. We had a great last class over pizza and beers. They were great fun to teach, and i will miss them too. However, I left them in good hands, as I convinced a cute blond girl to take over the class. I´m not sure how much they will learn while starstruck.

After my last class, I met Jeremy and Vanessa at their apartment in Retiro. They mentioned it was a little small, jajaja. I gave them the lowdown on BA, and then went off to meet my friend Sofia from the Consulate.

I met Sofia at a ridiculous hotel that she is staying in- a long way from Consular accomodations. We went out for steak and malbec, and she was my sugar mama for the meal. Actually, thanks to her company for the lovely steak, this broke bohemian appreciates it. After, we went out for beers at a little kiosk bar and ended up hanging out with a bunch of Argentines. We were met by Jeremy and Vanessa, and babbled away, eating pan dulce (think fruitcake). After we left working girl Sofia, we headed on to the speak-easy Puerto Rojo for some fernandos (fernet y cola). The night ended with Jeremy and Vanessa snacking on some burgers, and then hopping a cab home. On the otherhand, I hopped a ride on the back of a garbage truck. The garbage workers thought it was hysterical, and it sure beat walking. Now, off to Mendoza to squish grapes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hola to the readers

Hits this week from: France, U.K., Indonesia, Venezuela, Argentina, Laos, Cape Verde, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Vietnam, Iceland, Turkey, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Thailand, as well as the good ol US of A (20 States) and Canada. A big hola to everyone.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bienvinidos

A big Argentine welcome to Jeremy and Vanessa, who arrived today for some castillano lessons, and to my fellow Ex-Cons Miriam (and her husband Stephen) and Sofia. Miriam was the cultural affairs officer when I worked at the consulate, and Sofia was Latino affairs. Sofia and I had offices adjacent and used to munch chocolate-covered espresso beans and kibbitz in the afternoons. Sofia is here on work, she now slaves away at a computer company called BMC. Miriam and Stephen are here on vacation, although as it turns out they might not be able to make it. They are on a cruise, and were supposed to stop in Punte del Este, except the weather was too rough. So the ship went to Montevideo, except there was a boat wreck between a cruise liner and a shipping boat, which closed down the harbor. The ship lanes to BA are full right now, taking in the diverted ships and it is not clear if they will be able to dock tomorrow. Welcome to all.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Presidenta Cristina and the hijo de puta

I had the distinct pleasure tonight of calling Hugo Chavez a "hijo de puta." I will explain in due time. Today was the inauguration of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. I had my last class with one of my students Cristian, and after, I headed down to the inauguration festivities with a fellow English teacher named Sarah and her friend Nelly. Nelly happens to live in Friendship Heights, went to Maret and did Seeds of Peace- small world. We hung out in Plaza de Mayo and walked down Avenida de Mayo with all the political street theater taking place. People were marching with banners, banging drums and shooting fireworks. It was a little crazy. I stuck around to watch Presidenta Cristina´s speech at Congresso, but gave up and left before her victory march toward the Casa Rosada. I figured I wouldn´t get to see any scenes out of Evita, and I had laundry to do. Anyway, it was fun to watch.

Later tonight, I was hanging out with my friend Martina. She lives on Avenida Corrientes, which is like a BA Broadway. There were people demonstrating outside a theater next to her apartment. Turns out Hugo Chavez was here for the inauguration, and was at the theater, which is known for its leftist political theater. As I was leaving her apartment, ol´ Hurricane Hugo was outside, thronged by tv cameras and wellwishers. Realizing I would probably never get such an opportunity again, I climbed on a barricade, waited for a quiet moment and screamed at the top of my lungs "HIIIIJJJOOOO DE PUUUUTTTAAA!!!!" Very satisfying. I´m pretty sure the tv cameras picked it up. Puts a big smile on my face to have called Chavez such a lovely name on international tv.

New Pics up

The Boca game, Tigre and BA at night.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The “Shi’i Crescent”: Myth and Reality

The following paper is by Professor Moshe Ma´oz. I helped do research for it over the summer. It is published by the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. The “Shi’i Crescent”: Myth and Reality

I received a nice little acknowledgement on page 4.

And on another tack, related to my previous Axis of Oil post, an interesting Post op-ed about Putin and another NYTimes one about Chavez. The first article is about why Russia supports him. The second is a grudging respect to Chavez for respecting the losing referendum. A final one by Vali Nasr about the top of the Iranian apex, Khameni.
A fascinating week of developments from the Axis of Oil.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Precisely, my dear Watson

I was running errands this morning, and was down in Retiro on my way to Palermo. As I was waiting for the bus, a girl was asking for directions. She was a foreigner, so I offered to help her. Her name was Zaida, she was from Pakistan, living in the US and was looking for the King Saud mosque in Palermo. We got to chatting, mostly about how awesome Pakistan is. Turns out she is here on the Watson Fellowship.

The Watson Fellowship was founded by Thomas Watson, who created some minor organization called IBM. The Fellowship is amazing. Basically it is a blank check to study whatever you want, and the only stipulation is that you can't spend it in the US. It is sick. She was studying Muslim communities in the Spanish-speaking world. She had been in Spain and Morocco, and the area that borders Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, where there is a hug Shi'ite community. I am not often jealous of people, but I am of her.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Flying colors

I took the second part of my Spanish exam today, the oral component. The written was yesterday. I passed with flying colors. Although I only did fair on the written section, which was expected because most of my studies and practice are based on speaking. I got only 6 out of 10 on the written, basically because I tried to use a certain past tense (pluscomperfecto)that we learned during the course, but actually didn´t need to use on the exam. However on the oral, I got a perfect 10. What can I say, I am a gabber. I mentioned the anecdote of how I had been practicing the subjunctive tense with my kiddies at the day care center (David, I ask that you stop; Ivana, I recommend that you eat; Children, I beg (supplicate) that you shut up).

Overall, I received an 8 or the equivalent of a "B." Sadly, that ends my perfect streak: from senior year through my econ classes at HCC, I had received straight "A´s". All streaks must come to an end, even DiMaggio ended his after 56 games. However he went on to hit in another 17 consecutive after his previous streak ended; so too I can start a new streak in Grad school.

Unfortunately, my roomie Emiko wasn´t as lucky. She failed the written portion, and was unable to take the oral exam. This was the second time she failed the exam and the course. It is unfortunate, because she speaks more Spanish than I do. To be sure, she has a harder transition in writing, coming from Japanese to Spanish. However, her class attendance was spotty and she didn´t do her homework. There is a lesson to be learned...

Is it Januká or Janucá

I came to find out that Hanukkah is a problematic spelling even in Spanish. I went last night for Hanukkah festivities in Palermo, in the Plaza de Uruguay for a huge Hanukkah party hosted by Chabad. There were close to 3000 people there, and a yiddish klezmer band. They lit the largest menorah in South America. I also got to eat chorizo, something i have been eying for a while but previously blocked from. Mmmm...kosher chorizo. I also ran into some Chabad fellows who I had previously met in the Plaza de Mayo. Nice fellows, I chatted with them about all the Chabad stops I had made around the world. Meanwhile, little kids ran up to us asking for Hanukkah gelt and shaking pesos. Of course, I replied that they should give me gelt ala India. Das rupies, only.

I also bought a menorah and lit the candles at my apartment, with my roomies watching on in curiosity. I explained the holiday (a group tried to kill us, we survived, let´s eat) and taught them how to play dreidal. I also did Hanukkah with my family back home. I likened the Maccabee miracle of the oil lasting for eight days when it should have been one to my own financial situation and the miracle I would need to make my kesef/plata/dinero last till March. In the spirit of the holiday, I respectfully requested a few barrels of oil for the Januká season.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Newsroundup

Three great op-eds today. Enjoy.

"When W.’s history is written, he will be seen as the rebellious teenager crashing the family station wagon into his father’s three most cherished spots — diplomacy, intelligence and the Gulf."
-Maureen Dowd

"U.S. politicians seem determined to appeal either to the most nativist extremes in their respective parties — or to tell voters that something Americans call “the tooth fairy” will make their energy, budget, educational and Social Security deficits painlessly disappear."
Tom Friedman

And one last one from my favorite Ha´aretz columnist

Big in Peoria

Gene Weingarten of the Post had a hysterical column about when he was picked up by a Peoria newspaper. Groucho Marx once said if an act can get play in Peoria, it can play mainstream America. So perhaps I should shoot for Kuala Lumpur. I wanted to give a big hi to the readership. Thanks to all the readers who tuned in from: Sweden, Thailand, Australia, Israel, the Emirates, Belgium, England, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Venezuela, France, India, Laos, and Spain. Not to mention Canada and ol EEUU (Estados Unidos).

I´m international :P I once saw a hit from Saudi. Hope he enjoyed it. A happy chakakhan to all my readers from far-flung places.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Festival de las luces

I spent the morning with my kiddies, they are so precious. At the daycare center, we had a visit from some donors including one couple from Houston. I recognized him, but couldn´t remember his name. We chatted for about about my former life in Houston. Seems like it was a lifetime ago.

After playtime, I stopped at a place called El Horno de Medio Oriente (The oven of the Middle East). It is an Arab bakery I spied near my apartment. I went last night, but it was closed. I did find a mosque next to it. I stopped in today for a lunch of shwarma, humus and pita and a turkish coffee. Sooo nice. After months of eating Argentine food, it was a welcome change. It was also the first time I had eaten humus in 3 months, something which my brother will find unbelievable because he laughs at me that I normally eat humus on everything.

In honor of my blast from the Houston past, I am posting an old Hanukkah greeting I wrote at the Consulate. It was never sent out, which caused me a bit of consternation at the time. Here it is a few years later.
Hanukkah 2004: Ma’oz Tsur

Rock of ages, let our song
Praise your saving power
You amid the raging foes
Were our sheltering tower


As we gather round the Hanukkah lights this year, we see a great change in Israel and the Middle East. For the first time in years, we enter this holiday season with a renewed sense of optimism. During the past year, two Israelis won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, while Israeli innovations took two of the top three prizes in the Wall Street Journal’s 2004 Technology Innovation Awards. Israel also shined golden at the Athens Olympics. The Israeli economy is back on track, and tourism is returning to its previously high levels. Our optimism is testament to the enduring Jewish faith.

Furious they assailed us
But your arm availed us
And your word
Broke their sword
When our own strength failed us


Over the year, Israel’s Anti-Terrorist Fence has saved countless lives from the plague of Palestinian suicide terrorism. Israel continues to build this life-saving measure, increasing the security for all its citizens. We continue to battle the terrorism on all fronts so that we may reach that day of genuine security.

Children of the wanderers
Whether free or fettered
Wake the echoes of the songs
Where you may be scattered


All the while, we continue to carry out the Zionist dream of building our homeland. Immigrants from all over the globe continue to flock to Israel; meanwhile those in the Diaspora see the Jewish state as a beacon of hope and a light unto the nations.

Yours the message cheering
That the time is nearing
Which will see all men free
Tyrants disappearing


Gone is Israel’s most intractable foe, Yasser Arafat. The man who directed campaigns of violence and terror against so many innocents has gone the way of so many of the enemies of Israel, becoming nothing more than a footnote in the pages of history.

Ma’oz Tsur, the Rock of Ages. As we light the Hanukkah candles this year, we remain cautiously optimistic for the coming days. We pray that this will be the year where we finally have a true partner for peace. Yet Jewish history has taught us to remain vigilant. Like the Macabbees who waged their long war against the forces of evil more than two millennia ago, we will remain faithful that our cause is just and we shall prevail.

Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, December 03, 2007

All Quiet on the Persian Front

Hmmm...an interesting National Intelligence Report was released arguing that Iran might not be working as fastidiously on their nuclear program as previously thought. A Persian paper tiger? Shades of Iraq´s WMDs? Perhaps the mullahs thought heavy water would get them in real hot water? Maybe Ahmadinejad is more bluster than previously thought.

"Trust, but verify," as Reagan said, and you don´t often see me quoting a Republican. At the very least, this should tone down the debate and possible march towards a bombing campaign. A good thing, given Iran´s ability to extract collateral damage. I am in a place that has experienced an Iranian blowback, and I have serious worries about what a real spat with Iran would unleash.

In the mouth of madness

It would have been a true tragedy if I had spent all these months in Argentina and not made it to a Boca game. Sunday was the last day of the season, and I had spent much of the last week unsuccesfully trying to find a ticket. I was assured by many people that there was no chance I would get a ticket, but I refused to give up hope. Luckily for me, the season was decided on Saturday as Lanus won the season, and Boca finished third, making Sunday´s Boca vs. Lanus game meaningless. Instead of a crush of people trying to get tickets to the match, it was a little less hectic. I went down early, and found a scalper to buy a ticket from. 50 pesos for a 14 peso ticket, which I gladly paid. Bless the free market.

My ticket was good for entrance in the middle of the Boca cheering section. It was still nuts. A wave of blue and yellow and deafening cheering. The stadium was filled with echoing chants, and the smell of ganja as people were freely smoking spliffs in the stands. The raucaus crowd was cheering and yelling the whole game, and I joined in. Again, aargh a 1-1 tie, which means that in the 2 games I went to, I didn´t see a single victory.

After the game, Lanus partied it up on half field. Apparently, they are a hapless club who finally and improbably won the championship. After the game ended, the Barrabravas (hooligans) squared off with the riot police. The police were on the field, and the barras were behind the fence, but that didn´t stop them from trying to toss crates over the fence and taunting and spitting at the police. It was not pretty. The police had a water canon aimed at the fans, ready to turn the place into Chicago ´68. Some of the more rowdy and obnoxious fans got maced when they got too close to the police. We were detained in the stadium for a good half hour, until the Lanus fans had cleared out, then we were finally allowed to leave. All-and-all, a real spectacle.

PS: Congratulations to Harry, who was accepted to College of Charleston. The soon-to-be freshman wants to study chemistry (see under: the Unibomber). Mazel tov, Harry Van Wilder. He also sent me a poem from "In Cold Blood," which he said reminded him of moi:

"Theres a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that cant stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of gypsy blood, and they don't know how to rest.
If they just went straight home they might go far;
They are the strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new."

Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright

"Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
-William Blake

On Saturday, I went out to Tigre with Martina. Tigre is the city on the Paraña delta. It is named Tigre because...there were once jaguars there, and the people just assumed they were tigers. Tigre is a little like an Argentine Kemah (ala Houston). There were people out boating and walking or sleeping on banks of the delta, and there is an amusement park. It is a tranquil break from BA.

Later, we met up with a friend of hers, Gabi, who has a boat. He drove us to a little island on the delta for a party. We sat out on the beach, having drinks and listening to the DJ. Later, boats and boats of people came for the party. It looked to be a graduation party, although I am not sure if it was for highschool or college.

We stayed till the wee hours of the morn, and I was falling asleep and wanted to go. It was a little unnerving, because Gabi had a fair amount to drink and he was our only way back by boat. If I had been on land, I would not have gotten in a car with him, but would have taken a taxi home; unfortunately, being on an island, this was not an option. I could either swim (dangerous cause I swim like a rock), or find a piece of plywood and paddle myself back. The owner of the island told us not to worry about Gabi´s state, as he is "a son of the river." Thankfully, it ended okay, although I had a fair bit of trepidation. At 4am, there are no other boats out on the water, and it was a short distance on a wide river. Still a tad worrisome.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Latin for "Thus always to tyrants." Chavez lost his referendum, Venezuela won. A good article about all of it by Roger Cohen of the NYTimes.

Meanwhile, Putin rolled in his "referendum." Poor Russia, an authoritarian frost is taking hold. As Solzhenitsyn wrote of Russia once, and remains sadly apt today. "We forget everything. What we remember is not what actually happened, not history, but merely the dotted line they have chosen to drive into our memory by incessant hammering."