Book Review – The Whisperers – private life in Stalin’s Russia by Orlando Figes

Whisperes- family life in Stalin's Russia by FigesThis book by Orlando Figes is exciting, terribly depressing, and cautionary. Based on hundreds of in-depth interviews and thousands of letters, diaries, and government documents, Whisperers1 puts real people in place of the faceless numbers that constitute our usual image of the human costs of Stalinist Russia – the 10 million lost during collectivization, the same or larger number disappeared during the various Terrors and the 20 million or more dead during the Great Patriotic War (aka WWII). For those who do not have much background in Russian and Soviet history Figes provides concise sketches of key political and economic developments covering the entire span of Soviet Russia. You will not feel at a loss during the NEP period nor the ensuing collectivization and the round ups of “kulaks”. This allows you to understand the private lives with a reasonable understanding of the context.

But the real contribution of this book is its discussion of the truly radical efforts by the Communist Party to crush the family as a basic unit of society and replace it with other institutions. The goal is to shape the new Soviet man. The coercive intrusion by the state into every aspect of daily life is comprehensive – it adds new depth to understanding the machinery of a totalitarian state.

  1. more here on Figes’ website []

Troubles with Verizon DSL Internet Service in Hudson

Are you a user of Verizon “High Speed Internet” DSL Service?

Verizon

borrowed w/o permission

We have been experiencing very annoying problems with our Verizon DSL internet service on lower Warren St. since early March 2013.1

Do you have troubles:

  • connecting to a TIVO box?
  • using Netflix on a Roku box?
  • uploading files using FTP whether embedded in a software package like Dreamweaver or an FTP utility like Fetch?
  • other strange service problems?

If you do or have other troubles with your Verizon DSL service I would like to hear from you. Contact me at: “mark at markorton.com”. Or use the form on the Contact page

 

  1. We have no complaints about speed or ping. We very reliably get 6.5 MB/S download and 0.6 MB/S upload with a ping of less than 100 milliseconds – we never said that about Mid-Hudson Cable []

Two Factor Authentication

Since last summer when a well-known, sophisticated web meister Mat Honan was hacked and his whole web identity trashed I have been taking steps to improve my own online security.

What Is Two Factor Authentication?

2 factor authenitcationWhen you walk up to an ATM machine you conduct a two factor authentication before you make a transaction. You must physically have the card (factor one) and insert it in the machine and then you have to know the pass code (factor two). This combination makes it very unlikely that the person performing the transaction is not you. Continue reading

US Vacuum Cleaning Our Privacy – the bigger story

imagesThere has rightfully been considerable outrage over this week’s revelations that the Federal government has been sucking up information on virtually every aspect of our lives, email, telephones calls, pictures, credit card and banking transactions, and so on. Unfortunately almost all of this discussion is taking place without a useful sense of the scope, scale, and trajectory of the government’s war on terror. Continue reading

John le Carré on Bush’s Iraq War – The United States of America Has Gone Mad

John le Carre - wikipedia imageJohn le Carré, author of many beloved spy novels, e.g., Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy, wrote this piece critiquing the then upcoming War on Iraq in January 2003. Besides pointing out the very strong connections between big oil and the Bushes, many other elements of the critique continue to be applicable to current American foreign policy.

Here it is reproduced in its entirety: Continue reading

Hudson and Its People: immigration in 19th & 20th centuries by Sally Naramore

Warren St Hudson NY at dusk looking up townThe Greenport Historical Society hosted a lecture by Sally Naramore on Wednesday evening 4/18/2013 at the Greenport Town Hall. Her presentation which included visuals not included here, focused on immigration to Hudson in the 19th and 20th centuries.

If you know Hudson, especially the churches, you should be able to follow her descriptions of where people settled within Hudson. Ms. Naramore is the Department Chair and Teach of Social Studies at Hudson High School. She was Executive Director of the Columbia County Historical Society from 1983-1990 (biographical information from the historical society’s flyer). Continue reading

Our Longest War – The War on Drugs – more data on its futility

I have noted here several times earlier about America’s longest war – the War on Drugs. Here is a graphic that displays the complete failure of our policies:1

drug-spending-v-addiction from Atlantic Monthly

 

  1. source: http://m.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/10/chart-says-war-drugs-isnt-working/57913/ – this graphic came to my attemtion via the Colbert Report http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/425397/april-11-2013/america-s-pot-astrophe  []

Men Landed on the Moon – I’m Depressed – another leg falls away from my world

Shot from 2001 a space odyssey - used w/o permissionThis morning I was scanning through Zite and found this article claiming that some guy had definitively crushed the “hoax” that men landing on the moon in 1969 was shot on the back lots of Hollywood. Continue reading