9 July 2009


In the Ukrainian language, holod=hunger, mor=plague

Holdomor refers to another Stalinist crime: the famine of 1932–1933 in the Ukraine during which millions of people were starved to death. I knew little about it, until the "a Nadder!'' blogger informed me that, like Katyn, Holodomor is yet another Soviet massacre.

What is more surpsising is that, unlike Katyn which is now almost universally acknowledged as a Soviet mass murder (excepting the deniers who live in their own world), Holodomor is, still, thought to be just another Stalinist operation, not a particular crime per se. One of the problem seems to be that, during the 30's, Walter Duranty, a pro-Stalin journalist living in the USSR, published in the New York Times denying the famine, contradicting other voices, like that of Gareth Jones, and thus establishing a lie, even in the west. I also read that western intellectuals, sympathetic to the Leninist/Stalinist "progressive'' regime, talked down the famine.

What is interesting to consider is this: How can it be that such huge crimes, murders of incredible magnitude, can be trivialized or denied? The blame is not (only) with the regime that caused the murders: they do their job. It is the others, the good boys, the deniers, who propagate the lies.

I will give a parallel in my domain: I constantly see the decline of the education system, the way that, nowadays, the university spoon-feeds students, collects their tuition and grants them a piece of paper. I wonder how it is possible to have system in which, say, maths/science students cannot do elementary high-school algebra; and I shout about it. Well, the politicians (who cause the situation) will definitely not speak about it. But what about academics? Among them, there are several deniers who will contradict me and it is they who are the most dangerous ones. The politicians are doing their job: they ensure that more students will go through the university pipeline, they will establish a good name for themselves and they will be re-elected; this is their goal. However, this goal would not have been possible had the deniers been absent.

Certainly, I do not claim that deniers of the university ridicule are at the same level as deniers of mass massacres, but, logically (and I'd dare say psychologically), there are parallels. So it seems to me.


  1. Your questions gave rise to some ideas about genocide denial, enough to warrant a separate post which will probably be up next week. Thanks for the food for thought.

  2. The post is up -- although I sorta went off on another tangent that doesn't directly deal with the Holodomor




What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant