Ukrainian laughter is the best medicine

I laugh a lot in Kyiv. I always tell people that the sense of humour of Ukrainians is the best I have ever experienced. And I have lived in different parts of the world.

The global stereotype is quite the opposite though. People often say things like “Ukraine is full of serious people who look miserable”. And yet, they have never even been to Ukraine, so where does this come from. Yes, when you arrive at the airport in Kyiv and some older, heavy-set looking man, in a leather coat, and an old style looking Soviet hat, comes up to you abruptly and goes “You vont texi ?!” then your first impression will match the stereotype. But start talking to a taxi driver when you leave the airport and the chances are you will be laughing soon.

There is no political correctness in Ukraine and people are straight forward and pretty direct. This often leads to very funny situations. And they laugh with their souls. Ukrainians are smart, and enjoy a good joke. Also, other things which add to the humour are cultural and language differences. I am a funny guy (even if I say so myself) so when you take a quirky, nerdy foreigner and you have him interact with smart, funny people, there is a lot of scope of comedy.

Look at the ongoing nightmare of a war. The most depressing and terrifying thing any of us has ever experienced, and yet, with all this insanity and horror, there are a flow of jokes coming out of Ukraine. The government on Twitter is making official jokes. These guys are funny. I am telling you. Come to Kyiv when the war is over – you will laugh a lot.

The jokes about the tractors and this new postage stamp that celebrates the “Go f__k yourself” story, just keep on coming. Ukraine is a funny country. Quite the opposite of what the stereotype would have you believe.

“Many early Jewish comedians in the US emigrated from Odessa to New York 100 to 140 years ago.

You can make a compelling argument, and many academics and comedians have, that the style of modern Jewish-American humor — from Jerry Seinfeld to Mel Brooks to Larry David — stems from Odessa, with its neurotic and pessimistic flavor. (Is there any better kind?)”

He is no genius

I have heard many people talk about the “genius of Putin” over the years. Yes, a hard, twisted, narcissist of a man, but a very smart dictator … I am not sure about this. Not that I ever thought he was ever that clever.

A few days ago I was texting with my old friend Branko and I said to him, “What if Putin is actually an idiot?” and he responded with, “That is my big worry.”

If Putin really did fear NATO expansion will then this insane war of his has backfired. NATO is re-energized and now Sweden and Finland are discussing joining. And as soon as that happened we read headlines like, “Russia threatens Sweden, Finland with ‘negative consequences’ of joining NATO”.

If Putin really wanted to disarm Ukraine then this has also backfired. Ukraine is united like never before, and armed to the hilt, with more and more hardware rolling in all the time. Yes, the opposite is happening. Ukraine is becoming the most armed country in Europe and their military experience is by now through the roof.

Putin is no genius. I am starting to believe he is an idiot. And what kind of a superpower is Russia? Their army is incompetent and unprofessional. Barbaric is the word, and out of touch. With no purpose or clue.

I was listening to Fiona Hill on an Ezra Klein podast and she says, “Putin wants to make this war about the United States, NATO and Russia”. This guy may actually be off his head. If Putin is in fact a mad idiot then God knows how this is going to play out. But it does give me hope that his days are numbered. It can’t be that everyone around him is the same. Surely at some point they are going to want to get rid of this idiot.

Noam Chomsky and Jeremy Scahill on the Russia-Ukraine War, the Media, Propaganda, and Accountability

“I think is important for people to understand, is that Vladimir Putin, for whatever reasons he made the decision to do this in Ukraine, ultimately has created conditions that the U.S. has long wished were there for the United States to assert total dominance over European decision-making on issues of militarism. It also is an enormous boondoggle for the war industry.”

Numbers

America and the West are helping for sure, but Ukraine keeps begging for more and more support. How many people have to die before the West moves into a higher gear. And what is with Germany? Like SA, not looking to be on the right side of history. But seriously – what is the number? How many deaths will tip the scales? And what of all the displaced people – most of them have nothing and nowhere to go. They will mostly all suffer and a lot will die spiritually. We are talking millions of innocent people here. Millions!

Everything is about numbers. If Putin’s numbers were better in his own economy then I am sure this war would not even have began. If Russia was doing better they would care less about their cool neighbour. And yes, Ukraine is cool, Russia is not. Russia was going backwards, their economy was in the toilet, and their population largely lives poorly and struggles. Ukraine was growing at a very healthy pace, and more and more people were being lifted out of poverty (of course the pandemic did mess the world up a bit, Ukraine included). This must have pissed Putin off. The ex-girlfriend was doing good. The jealous ex-boyfriend was angry.

This is a war about good and evil. And if evil wins here, God forbid, it will spread. I don’t think anyone has a clue what will the end result be, and this is a scary thought. Of course, if the West stepped up their game, the Ukrainians predict they will be able to repel the Russians. But if this happens won’t it make the violent ex-boyfriend even angrier. Or, will the world finally put Putin in his place. He is not pressing the nuclear button. He is a total narcissist and he does not want to die. It is reported that this evil maniac is the world’s richest man. Once again the numbers tell a story. He is not going to risk dying by entering into a nuclear war. I just don’t buy it.

Ukraine needs more support. Again, the numbers spell it all out. If I was walking past your house and it was on fire I would help put out the fire. I would try find a hose pipe and start spraying water. And I would of course call the fire brigade. What I wouldn’t do is leave a glass of water on the patio (ala Germany). And If I saw you in the window screaming for help, I would try and save you. But the West is so slow in Helping Ukraine, all because the are not in the club. If I was walking past your house and you were in trouble, I would help you. I would not start discussing the fact that you are not in the club. Ukraine tried to join the club, for years, and they never were allowed in. And yet, their neighbours are in the club: Poland, Romania, etc.