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Please Let our Young Musicians Practice!

Freya, March 2020, before the lockdown.

Our daughter is 16 and left home to do her last two years of high school at Douglas Academy. She made this sacrifice so that she could follow her dreams of being a professional musician. Douglas Academy has one of the best music departments in the country and it was a real challenge getting in.

Now that she’s there, she finds herself in the position of not being able to practice. This is because of rules laid down the local authority that dictate that brass, wind and choral musicians are not permitted to practice. I don’t know the actual laws and regulations so I can’t quote them. What I do know is that pupils in residence in other council areas in Scotland don’t have this pointless restriction, eg. Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

One of the parents has started a change.org petition to the Scottish Government to have this restriction reversed.

The school and residence have both set up practice and performance areas that are completely compliant with social distancing restrictions. Naturally both these institutions are duty-bound to follow local restrictions, even when they make no sense.

Here’s what the young people say in the petition:

We have given up a lot in order to pursue our dreams of becoming professional musicians, spending every week away from our own homes and families. Please help us persuade Education Scotland, the Scottish Government and the councils which run our school and residence to recognise our unique situation and let us do our music practice in the same way that other pupils are allowed to. If not, all the years of hard work and commitment we have put into music will be wasted.

Lots of kids don’t want to do their music practice. But we really do. Please help us!

Douglas Academy Pupils

Petition

Freya’s Class – Where are the wind instruments?

Here is a direct link to the petition, followed by an embedded Facebook post of mine that you can use to sign directly from there. It won’t cost you anything but a minute or two of your time and it might just made a difference!

Petition page on change.org

Call to #Hive Community

Hive is an awesome decentralised blogging platform and I just know that if I ask the #Hivearmy to come together and help out with a Hive Five and a signature, they will! So, how about it Hiveans?

Petition Link

15 Years Sober – Recovery from Alcoholism

It’s a cold morning, and raining. I woke up after 8 again. That’s two mornings in a row. Nice.

I’ve got a lot to do today, so I should plan. My number 1 goal is to be nice to my wife, to be helpful and available all day and not get snippy. That means I’ll have to get my computer work done and then get off the computer and be available. My Aspergers makes it really challenging to stop what I’m doing to deal with interruptions. It’s really tricky. My son is even worse, although I would say that he’s further along the spectrum than I and actually has a diagnosis. I, on the other hand, got a free diagnosis from the pediatric consultant when our son was in for his. Not that I need it. I know.

I did get Malagueña done yesterday, and I’m sure that that is partly because I wrote my goals down in a public post. I’m quite surprised at that, although I suppose I shouldn’t be. It’s a really nice piece actually and I’m really starting to enjoy going through the Solo Guitar Playing book.

Double Anniversary

Today is an auspicious day on my calendar. Firstly, it’s 18 years since our wedding day. And secondly, it’s 15 years since my last drink. So yes, my wife put up with three years of being married to a practising alcoholic, and for the four years before that too. I don’t know that I would have stayed with me during those years.

A kitchen table with a dictionary and some notebooks and pens and a bottle of vodka`
I spent my Christmas eve feeling blue and doing Russian revision with vodka.

Normally I would attend an AA meeting to share my birthday share, but none of that is happening right now for obvious reasons.

Recovery from alcoholism is an ongoing thing and never really stops.

Yesterday’s Productivity

Instead of reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset book yesterday, I binged Utopia on Amazon Prime. I saw the original series back in 2013 and loved it, but never followed up with Season 2. I saw that Amazon had remade it so jumped into that. I’m not actually that into Americans’ copying other countries’ content in theory, but in practice, well, I like good shows! So The Office, Utopia, Les Revenants, Old Boy — those are just a few that spring to mind.

The new Utopia was good, but I immediately followed up by watching the original series again and it was very good. This time I jumped into the first episode of season 2 and boy oh boy, was it good! So I’ve got a few more of those to watch.

I don’t really subscribe to the idea that watching TV or movies is a bad idea, you know, the old GaryVee hustle porn shit that says you shouldn’t be wasting time binging TV shows. It’s not a waste of time unless I’m using it as a means of procrastination or hiding from the world, which is a thing that I do, but this wasn’t that. I’m not trying to justify my binging, I’m just saying that I had given myself permission to have a night off, and d’you know what? It was great!

I did read some 4-Day Work Week though. Well, I say ‘read’. I have the audiobook as well, so I fired that on while folding laundry and I’m really enjoying it. One quote really stood out:

I endure a lot through clever rationalisation for sure. I think that’s why my mum’s dying in 2016 was such a cleansing experience. It showed me that there are bigger things that matter and that I should make some changes in my life. I didn’t make any changes, but it was nice to feel that I could for awhile.

So, time to get on with my day. This keyboard though. It makes me want to continue writing because it’s just so darned nice to type on. D’you ever get that?

Rhymes with Peachy

Oh, I just remembered my dream! I was cycling through Ayr and it had been all changed. I was at the traffic lights at the bottom of the high street and they weren’t changing, so we got off our bikes and went into fort to graffiti the walls. In there I met a guy who was a YouTuber but I can’t remember what his name was. He had a new Mac Pro and was setting it up with an external drive and I told him that I had the LG 49 inch monitor. ‘The Sara Dietschy one?’ ‘Yes, that one’. And then Sara was in my dream and I asked her if I could get a tour of her studio.

And I’ve not even been watching any Sara Deitschy videos recently. Weird.

Do I Need 5k Followers?

Just saw this Tweet from Tiago Forte.

So what’s a Bear to do? Ideally build a list. Mmmm, okay. How does one do that? Should I shift this blog to Ghost? But I’m really enjoying WordPress right now! Build a list with my ActiveCampaign CRM? I could to that. Okay, let’s add a field below and then it really is time for me to get on with my day. If you want to help a Bear out, drop your deets in the box below and I’ll figure this thing out!

I Bought MarsEdit 4

Okay, I did the thing. RedSweater replied to my Tweet really quickly and I got the upgrade price of $24.95, so I’m in!

I’ve got my Applet ready in IFTTT but so far it has been failing. It triggers when a new post is made to the RSS feed that it’s monitoring so this is my testing that again, rather than a notable post. Although it might turn out that way. I don’t really know what I’m going to say yet!

Ah, yes, micro.blog. Have you heard of that? I got an email from Manton Reece—remember him, the buy behind App.net?—with some info about micro.blog. It sounded neat, so I checked it out and went to sign up, only to find that I had already signed up. Presumably that’s how I was on his email list. D’oh!

I put my $5 down and installed the iOS app yesterday and have been quite enjoying it. I wondered whether it would give me a place with a similar vibe to what Vox.com used to be back in my early blogging days. I’ve heard comments that it feels like the early days of Twitter, which is exactly how App.net felt too. So it might have some legs and become a thing that I do, along with this blog here. It’s currently at camscampbell.micro.bog, but if it sticks I’ll get a domain for it.

Should I try MarsEdit again?

Back in the day I used RedSweater’s MarsEdit to post to this blog so that I could write in Markdown. Ironically I’m looking at it again now, but to go the other way.

Eh?

Well, I like writing in the native WordPress posting window. It’s got so much better over the last year with the Gutenberg blocks and all that, but I can’t get posts OUT of WordPress to sit nicely in my DayOne journal, so I was wondering if I could use MarEdit as a way of converting WordPress code into Markdown, maybe with BBEdit or Atom? But so far I haven’t been able to figure it out.

Brett Terpstra’s Slogger used to be good for getting blog posts in DayOne, but I got way into the weeds with Slogger too many times. I’m not a developer and spent way too much time typing sudo this and sudo that and eventually I gave up and started using IFTTT.

So, I’m now wondering if there is a way of using IFTTT to get my blog posts published into DayOne with RSS? Hmmm. I’m going to give that a try.

Still, MarsEdit is kinda cool for browsing through and editing blog posts once they’ve been published, editing tags and all that sort of stuff. I didn’t install it through the App Store though, so I can’t get an upgrade price. V3 doesn’t install from the downloads on Redsweater’s site.

IFTTT

Oh no, IFTTT has gone subscription only. Aaargh. Ah, but I can do it with the Standard account if it’s an applet that someone else has created and put in the Explore section. Thank you, Funky Penguin, whoever you are!

Right, I’m going to test it with this post, but the real gravy will be if it works properly with posts entered directly in the WordPress CMS.

Except I’m NOT going to test it with this post from MarsEdit, because I don’t have a licence. I’ll have to copy and paste this into the CMS. Wish me luck!

Writing is a Skill that Requires Practice.

Slept until 08:46. Result! Still feeling tired though. I made Illy coffee again because Len was still sleeping. She got up just as the last drips dropped into the mug. Ugh.

I read a nice quote from Scott Adams’ blog yesterday that kind of sums up what I’m trying to do here:

Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis. I didn’t know what I was practicing for, exactly, and that’s what makes it a system and not a goal. I was moving from a place with low odds (being an out-of-practice writer) to a place of good odds (a well-practiced writer with higher visibility).

Scott Adams

It was that that inspired me to make this a thing that I do and not just a thing that I think about. And besides, I LOVE this Ducky One 2 keyboard with cherry red switches!

Yesterday’s Goals

What were yesterday’s goals? Let me check…

  1. I didn’t decide on the Notion course yet. I’m letting it percolate. I did reread August Bradley’s sales page and it *almost* converted and still very well might.
  2. Profits reinvested into Finiko and Finalmente as well. I had four plans cash out in Finalmente yesterday!
  3. Adding more Last.fm posts seems like a thing to do maybe one at a time as it’s not moving the needle on anything.
  4. I did get all the guitar exercises done, and done well too, including recording one and playing the teacher part to the recording AND tabbing one out in Guitar Pro.

Small Wins

Installing Guitar Pro and tabbing out a tune. That was a bit of a hurdle that I’d been putting off for a long time. There’s a real learning curve to that software, but I managed to figure out enough to notate a whole exercise!

Content Consumed

I did the dog walk loop in the middle of the day and listened to an enjoyable episode of Roderick on the Line. John Roderick talked at length about a relationship and went into the emotion behind it. It really get a lot from John’s candour, but this one in particular was quite moving and inspirational.

I started reading Mindset, by Carol Dweck. This came up on Jim Kwik’s talk for Teachable’s Share What You Know Summit, but the reviews put me off buying it at that time. It came up again on August Bradley’s course page as a prerequisite for the course, so I thought I’d give it a go. So far I haven’t learned anything from it that I didn’t already know. One reviewer suggested not bothering with it but reading Scott Adams’ book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, instead. That seems more in my wheelhouse.

Can I do the thing that Ali Abdaal recommended in a YouTube video and stop reading a book? Can I really do that?

But wait, let me give Carol Dweck’s book a proper chance. I’ll read more today.

Today’s Goals

  1. Post the Blue Compass mic clamp back for a refund
  2. Post a book away from someone who asked for it on Bookmooch
  3. Learn Malagueña from the Solo Guitar Playing book.
  4. Read Carol Dweck’s book.
  5. Walk the dogs around the circuit.
  6. Write to Teachable with my questions. They didn’t respond to my Tweets.

Doesn’t sound like a really full day, does it? I could do more guitar but I want to NOT over extend with my goals and end up not fulfilling them. And I can spend as much time as is left reading and making notes.

Thoughts like Flies – Systems Thinking

Morning Pages - Thoughts Like Flies

Tired. It’s 07:46 and I’ve been awake for an hour. This happened yesterday, except that I woke up at 05:45 and did manage to get back to sleep. This morning though? Nope. As soon as I awake, the thoughts that are buzzing round my head like flies see that sliver of consciousness and pounce.

Let me just say that Illy coffee though? Yuck. When I wake up early, I use my tin of Illy instead of grinding beans because the family is still asleep, so it’s really an emergency supply. It reminds me of my Luxembourg days, when Maria Cristina and Leo would argue out over Illy vs Lavazza like it was the Mac vs PC wars all over again. It’s a happy memory though. I loved working with them.

Once you start getting freshly roasted beans though, the prepackaged preground stuff becomes emergency only. Even Costa is nicer than that!

August Bradley’s New Course

So, what’s on my mind? It’s actually August Bradley’s new course. You’ll remember yesterday that I talked about Nat Eliason and Roam Research? You obviously do, oh avid reader of mine.

Well, I asked on Twitter if there was a similar Notion course, and I got a helpful reply pointing me to August Bradley’s Notion Playlist on his YouTube channel.

I watched the first few videos and honestly felt like what I was watching was potentially life-changing. And this wasn’t marketing copy, although obviously this is part of August’s master plan of giving away incredibly valuable content as a way of marketing for his paid course—I get that now and can also learn from how he did that.

August talked at length about systems before he even opened up Notion to show us his workflow. And that is where I’m failing. I’ve tried various different tactics over the last year and longer to come up with habits and productivity and none of them have worked. I understand that there is more of a psychological reason here that should be explored, but I feel like August’s holistic approach will help me to understand where my points of failure are and plan for that in my system. In fact it’s not just a feeling—he actually said as much in his early Notion videos.

Sounds like I’m talking myself into buying, doesn’t it?

I scrolled through his page to get to the price, expecting it to be $1197 at least, and yes, it will be that ($1250 actually), but today it’s mine for the low low price of $750!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be facetious there; I’m sure that it’s actually really good value at that price point, but the fact is that I’m earning fuck all right now and have been earning that much since lockdown started, more or less. Affordability is the kicker.

But if I don’t solve this systems problem that I have, I’ll never make a successful living as a content creator, because I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and that is not working.

Gratitude

I should keep a gratitude list though, right? Of course I should.

  1. Lying in bed this morning before getting up. Instead of feeling frustrated at not being able to get back to sleep, I chose to be mindful of the feeling of warmth as I listened to the wind outside and felt a really nice peaceful feeling of having everything that I need.
  2. I felt gratitude that my wife was lying beside me, not only because she’s amazing in so many ways, but because she was actually in bed. She’s dealing with incredible workloads right now and doesn’t always make it to bed.
  3. A sense of achievement at having started this writing project on this website and at having tidied up some old posts, particularly my book reviews—adding Amazon affiliate links to the beginning of the posts—and my weekly Last.fm chart posts.
  4. Not having to get up to run the post office. That’s something I should be mindful of every day. That was a period of my life that I suppose I had to go through, but fuck me was it brutal! The leg injury period was easier. Twelve years I did that.

What did I Read Yesterday

  1. I finished The Elves of Cintra, by Terry Brooks.
  2. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, by Svetlana Alexievich. It’s really good.
  3. Four exercises from Solo Guitar Playing, by Frederick Noad, the book I’m planning to launch a course on.

Disclaimer: Some links are Amazon affiliate links.

Today’s Goals

  1. Decide on the Notion course purchase and own the decision.
  2. Buy the next Finiko product with profits earned over the last two weeks.
  3. Decide whether to add more Last.fm posts from my Hive blog.
  4. Complete Lesson 8 of Solo Guitar Playing by the end of the week, so six exercises and three compositions. Let’s make today’s goal the six exercises. Anything else is a bonus.

Weekly Last.fm Charts, featuring The The

Week 25 September – 2 October 2020

Weekly Last.fm Charts

I just spent some time going through my old Last.fm chart posts and updating them to blocks for WordPress 5. It got me listening to lots again and has inspired me to start doing it again. It’s really fun to look back through these charts and get a feel for what was going on in my life through the music I was listening to.

I did it for a while on my Steemit blog but it never really took. I like this way better, using Steempress to put it on my Hive blog but keeping it on my own blog as the primary source.

The The

Since I wrote my review of Long Shadows, High Hopes: the Life and Times of Matt Johnson and The The, I’ve been listening to The The a lot. It’s good because the band is probably not accurately reflected in my all-time weightings on Last.fm as I listened to them all the time before I started scrobbling.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t listen to NakedSelf when it was released, nor since really, right up until a couple of weeks ago. I had a morning in bed with the book on my Kindle and I listened to it on my AirPods as I read about each track in the book. It was an amazing experience and I’ve been listening to NakedSelf a lot since then.

Strangeways, Here We Come

This Smiths album came up on my radar because of Tim’s Listening Party on Twitter. I’d never taken part in the listening parties, although I knew that he’d done The The at least a couple of times. I started following the Twitter account and this came up straight away.

This is the only Smiths album I ever bought. I got it after hearing it at the army apprentices’ college in Harrogate when John Hall played it one time. John’s nickname was Manc, so you can guess where he’s from, right? And yes, I was called Jock, obviously.

I’ve always loved the album, but listening to it with a live Twitter party going on added a whole new level of appreciation. Totally fun.

I’ve come to wish you an unhappy birthday, because you’re evil and you liked, and if you should die I may feel slightly sad, but I won’t cry.

Unhappy Birthday

Fuck!

The Others

To be honest, I’m not sure what the others are, with the exception of Bajofondo. I found them while browsing Tim’s Listening Party archives and fired it on simply because the album cover drew me right in.

I mean come on, right?

I think the rest of the bands will have been Spotify algorithms carrying on with that style as I do know Gotan Project (I saw them in Luxembourg one time as it happens!).

RankAvatarArtist nameOptionsScrobbles
1Avatar for The TheThe The36 scrobbles
2Avatar for The SmithsThe Smiths20
3Avatar for BajofondoBajofondo18
4Avatar for Astor PiazzollaAstor Piazzolla2
5Avatar for AterciopeladosAterciopeladosMore1
6Avatar for Gotan ProjectGotan Project1
7Avatar for Jorge DrexlerJorge Drexler1
8Avatar for Kevin JohansenKevin Johansen1
9Avatar for Serú GiránSerú Girán1

That tremolo guitar. Love it!

Sounds like classic The The. I hope Matt Johnson brings out another album soon. I’d love to hear what these mad COVID times inspire him to write.

The Elves of Cintra, by Terry Brooks

I listened to The Elves of Cintra audiobook, brilliantly narrated by Phil Gigante.

I have fond memories of the Shannara books. I *think* it was recommended to me by a school friend back in the late 80s and I had a copy of The Sword of Shannara from the library at the Army Apprentices’ College in Harrogate when I had my accident in 1989. In those days I read fantasy pretty much exclusively and the derivative nature of Sword didn’t bother me at all.

I also have a memory of lying in my bunk at the apprentices’ college reading the Scions of Shannara when midnight struck into my 19th birthday and then I continued through that quadrilogy during the next phase of surgeries on my leg.

I’m not sure why I didn’t follow up when Terry Brooks wrote more and more Shannara books at the time, but I’m making up for it now and going right back to the beginning of the Word and the Void series.

The Word and the Void

The Genesis of Shannara trilogy follows on from the Word and the Void trilogy, so we’re now still in the real world, but after the apocalypse.

What apocolypse?

Exactly!

There are demons and mutated humans out to kill everyone, humans and elves both — but where the fuck did the elves come from if we’re supposed to be in the real world? I don’t feel like that is ever really explained. Maybe they were always there. Maybe they still are!

And why do the demons want to kill everyone? Just because that’s what demons do? What would they do if there was no one left to kill? Just chill I suppose.

And how the the demons that are in the Forbidding get put there? And when? In between the two trilogies? It’s never mentioned in the Word and the Void, so I’m guessing so?

I’d like to have more of the tale of what happened between the two trilogies. Maybe that comes in the Gypsy Morph? The old King of the Silver River pulls that old Allanon trick of not revealing everything to the young hero because it would be too much or some pish like that, and I found that kind of annoying. Very Terry Brooksy as tropes go. Just give the hero all the info and he might just win the battle a little easier? Hmmm.

What happened to Nest Freemark?

What happened to the fucking world?

And those feeders, what are they all about? They’re always there but they don’t serve the story at all.

And the elves? Where did they come from? Oh, wait, I already asked that, didn’t I?

How does Candle have foresight? What’s the deal with the lady from the Welsh valleys that hands out Knight of the Word staffs?

The characters are pretty wooden and tropey, but they serve the story well enough and the lack of detail into their motivations keeps the story moving along pretty fast I suppose.

I tell you what though, if all these loose ends aren’t wrapped up in the Gypsy Morph, I’ll… I’ll …

… probably keep reading the next books anyway. Who am I kidding?

Morning Pages?

Could I use this blog as a place to write my morning pages? Publish my unedited thoughts to the world?

Yes, I could.

My head is buzzing with creative ideas right now. The problem comes when that feeling goes away, which of course it does. Then I’m left with a feeling of hopelessness, of helplessness.

Share What You Know Summit

I’ve been going through Teachable’s Share What You Know summit. It cost me $40 and came at a time when I wasn’t able to tune in live on days 1 and 2 (of 3). The result of that was that I got behind and started to feel overwhelmed. I did get through some of it, and found it to be quite useful. I took notes in Roam Research, practising the skills I’d learned from Nat Eliason’s Effortless Output in Roam course. I probably watched less than a third of all the content, but I’d already decided that that was enough. Don’t get me wrong—it wasn’t bad, but it was really just a huge advert for the Teachable platform and to the personal brands of the speakers. And that also isn’t a bad thing. One of the talks came up with an analogy of watching someone bleed but not offering your sticking plaster because you don’t want to seem markety. In other words, marketing is just a way of getting your thing in front of people that could really use it.

Could I really use the personal brands of the speakers? Yes, undoubtedly. But what I seem to be lacking is focus.

How to Get Clients to Come to You

The speaker that has stayed with me is Rebecca Tracey. She did one of the night class sessions and talked about her Uncaged Life philosophy. She’s a life coach and made a lot of sense. The core of her philosophy is to come up with a strong message and figure out just what it is that you do.

THAT’S my problem. What do I do? What am I offering potential clients? What do I want to do?

Lack of Focus

I spend my days being busy, following first one thing then another.

‘How much is this course? $250 dollars to learn how to take notes? I’m in!’

‘But wait! What’s this course here? Learn how to teach a course? But I don’t have any course ideas … doesn’t matter – it will change your life! It has the answers! I’m in!’

So, at the end of that week, I’ve not finished the note-taking course, nor having I finished the Teachable course. And I’ve done absolutely nothing to earn my place in this crowded world.

Come up with a Plan

I need a plan, a core product, an offering. Then I need to make sure that the things I’m doing contribute to that, to ‘moving the needle’ in the parlance of our times.

Do I have a plan? Well, I do as it happens. As I walked the dogs last night, it came to me — even though I was listening to a fantasy book. I love guitar, right? My idea of live streaming my practice sessions fell flat, which in turn meant that I’m not getting through my Fred Noad Solo Guitar Playing book.

Why don’t I go through my Noad book to the end, make notes on each exercise on challenges, then go back to the beginning and make a course?

Why not indeed. So that’s my idea. I should set myself a deadline to complete the book – how does the end of the year sound? That could work. I’ll go through the book and come up with a weekly quota.

Stalin’s Scribe, Brian J. Boeck

I bought Stalin’s Scribe on a whim whilst on holiday in the town of my Alma Mater, St Andrews university. It was my first time visiting Toppings Books and I happily spent a few hours in there.

I’ve had a fascination with the Stalin era of the Soviet Union since my army days when I studied GCSE Russian Studies and wrote a paper on the show trials and purges.

You might find this a little hard to believe, but I had never heard of Sholokhov, or his famous novel The Quiet Don. Why should it be hard to believe? Because I studied Russian language and literature for four years and spent years living in the former Soviet Union. When I saw the book in Toppings, I thought I was buying a book written about Stalin by his official scribe!

So, even though I thought I was reading something else entirely, I found myself completely drawn in anyway.

On the face of it, it’s about an author whose magnum opus ‘The Quiet Don’ is iffy at best because of plagiarism charges levelled against Sholokhov, and who wrote very little of note after that. But there is so much more to it than that.

It’s about an author who was able to navigate the tricky political landscape and still managed to stay alive, become wealthy and even win the Nobel Prize for Literature. That in itself makes for a good story, and that is exactly what this book turned out to be.

Sholokhov was not afraid of speaking truth to power and was able to use his influence over the years, including instigating the release of 3 political prisoners released from the clutches of the NKVD after he’d learned of the truth behind the great terror.

Not only did Sholokhov manage to keep from being imprisoned, exiled or shot, he also managed to stay in the good books of the leaders of the Soviet Union right up to the present, as it is mentioned in the afterword that Putin visited Sholokhov’s home in Vioshki in 2005 to mark the centenary of Sholokhov’s birth.

The writing style of the book made it easy to read. The research was well done and obviously extensive. It did seem to jump forward in time pretty fast towards the end, but I guess that’s because there wasn’t much else to say? Maybe it was edited down to make it shorter and an easier read? I’m sure it could quite easily have been twice as long.

It was interesting to read that there are still documents in locked archives.

“Though some of his secrets no doubt remain buried deep in closed archives, his contributions to Soviet history can now be recognized.”

P338

Sholokhov seemed to be ahead of his time in the way that he perceived the dangers of Soviet policy. First he spoke of the failings of the agricultural policy as he saw them when Stalin launched collectivisation. He saw what was happening on the front during the war and was able to see through the propaganda with his mind before seeing it with his own eyes.

And later on, the 23rd Party Congress in 1966:

The remaining environmental portions of the speech still packed a few punches. He accused an unnamed factory of criminal indifference to poisoning the Volga River and killing between 11 and 22 million fish.

He claimed that the “glorious sea, sacred Baikal” was in danger from the felling of forests and the construction of cellulose paper industries along its pristine shores. He cited statistics about the dumping of waste water into the Don River and condemned the tenfold decline in the number of fish. In spite of key deletions, he still skewered the Fisheries Minister for bringing the Azov sea basin to “the edge of catastrophe.” Sholokhov was the only keynote speaker at the congress who spoke of nature as something more than a resource for immediate economic exploitation.

Dozens of other speeches emphasized the conquering of nature for industrial growth, but his was the only one to even mention the problem of industrial waste.

P300

I took some personal pleasure at the reference to Santa Barbara in the afterword. I spent a year in Odessa from 1995-96 and my landlady was obsessed with that show!