Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Monday Night Open Thread

Kseniya Simonova, a sand artist, won Ukraine’s Got Talent and has become the star of the newest “must see” Youtube clip. Using an illuminated sand table, she presented a visual tale of the effects of WWII on the civilian population.


Twenty-four year old Kseniya won 1,000,000 Ukraninan Hryvnia (about $125,000) for her performance in the Ukraine’s Got Talent Finale.

The scenes quickly morph from one to the next with a sweep of her hand, a pull of her fingers. She begins with an idyllic scene of a couple on a park bench, then moves through a story of war and the chaos it brings. At one point she transforms the image of a grieving widow into a War Monument, bringing some in the audience to tears. The final scene has mother and child gazing through a window at a man waving farewell.

Some of you may have noticed her use of Apocalyptica’s versions of Master Of Puppets (I think) and Nothing Else Matters. Interesting group. Give them a listen if you’ve not happened across them before.

I like the sand painting stuff. I’ve seen clips of it in the past. I particularly enjoy the fact that such a unique artist won the competition instead of the usual singer(s) or dancer(s). I would have voted “Da!” for her.  😉

While it was indeed a stirring performance, I sorta wondered about the tears until I read this:

The Great Patriotic War, as it is called in Ukraine, resulted in one in four of the population being killed with eight to 11 million deaths out of a population of 42 million.

With numbers like that, I reckon near everyone in the audience likely lost a family member or loved one. I think a lot of us either forget, or never knew, how many were lost in WWII. I count myself in the latter group: I knew it was “a whole lot” but had no concept of the actual number.

This chart from Wikipedia is rather sobering.







62-78 MILLION dead as a result of WWII.

The mind… it boggles.

We lost over 400,000 in WWII. That is about 2/3 the number lost during our Civil War (or, as we Southerners like to call it, The War Between The States or The War Of Northern Aggression), when those lost from BOTH sides were Americans. I cannot begin to imagine…

Just where my head is at the moment. Where is yours?

—btw, John, EVERYONE knows that a leprechaun’s eyes are GREEN


  1. It looks like you got your list from the same one I looked at. I think it was when we were talking about Canadian casualties in Afghanistan. Or maybe it was when we were discussing Fox News insults to Canada’s military. But that doesn’t matter.

    What matters is the mindboggling horror those numbers represent. My uncle was one of those 400,000+ Americans who lost their life in the war. That single loss in our family pales in comparison to the death toll in places like the USSR.

    What surprised me the most about those numbers was the high losses in Greece. I knew about the partisan activities, but I had no idea the death toll was so high there.

  2. Between the two World Wars, and their own Revolution, it is easy to understand the view of Russians with regards to invasion and possible take over.  It wasn’t just way ward xenophobia, but experience that taught them.  

    Sadly, the McCarthy and Reagan years taught us about the Evil Empire, but not much about her people.  Or why they turned so heavily to Communism.  Without understanding that, it’s hard to understand Khruschev, it’s hard to understand what risks that Ghorbachov took. The forces that shaped Yeltsin.  Or Putin for that matter–the son of a NKVD saboteur in WWII who grew to be KGB. These are sort of important factors to put into foreign policy equations…

  3. fogiv

    This makes me both angry, and sad:

    Buried in Iraq’s clay and dirt is the history of Western civilization. Great empires once thrived here, cultures that produced the world’s first wheel, first cities, first agriculture, first code of law, first base-sixty number system, and very possibly the first writing. A brutal plundering of this rich cultural heritage has been taking place in broad daylight ever since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These days Ancient Mesopotamia looks more like a scene from the movie Holes.

    “I still find it hard to believe this is happening,” Clemens Reichel told the Huffington Post. “Since the 2003 Iraq War, my work as a field archaeologist has changed forever. Sometimes it feels more like an undertaker’s work.” Reichel, a Mesopotamian archaeologist at the University of Toronto, is former editor of the Iraq Museum Database Project at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute.

    The scope of the catastrophe taking place cannot be overstated, said Reichel.

  4. Shaun Appleby

    I have spent hours compiling the total casualties of the 20th Century from state-oriented violence and graphed it as a percentage against total world population for a book I am working on.  It makes a for an interesting and salutory view of the sacrifices and attitudes of the past century.  Anyone interested in the raw data, which is voluminous, is welcome to get in touch with me.

    It’s interesting to note we have lived in a relatively peaceful world in our current lifetimes and the armed conflicts of these recent decades, though receiving the kind of ideological and emotional energy our cultures have become accustomed to, pale in comparison to the experiences of our elderly parents and grandparents globally.

    Sometimes I think a lot of 20th century ideology and post-WWII politics is more easily understood in the context of a realistic appreciation of the impact of the events of the time on the lives of most of the world’s inhabitants.

    On this scale the 3,000,000 casualties of Viet-Nam is a the only significant blip since the post-Revolutionary famine in China and the Korean War, and the genocides of the Congo and Rwanda are almost lost in background noise.  We have been an amazingly violent species and this century, by historical standards, has been extraordinarily peaceful and tolerant so far.  Things get far, far worse when they go seriously wrong as these statistics illustrate.

  5. alyssa chaos

    uncontrollable laughter. Laughter in itself is amazing. To think our brain stems make us generate laughter…

    My lab partner threw me into a laughing fit today and I swear I couldn’t stop. I tried so hard to think of anything that would get me to stop because I was getting to the point where I couldn’t breath. I literally laughed for 5 minutes straight before I could regain composure and when I thought I had stopped it would hit me again.

    So apparently all it takes to crack me up  is seeing someone dance to bad 80s rock. [It was hard to get any work done after that.]

    ++Its weird to see people compiled into numbers, especially when it comes to death. numbers have away of making you realize the scope of a situation and understand it better  while simultaneously detaching you from the situation.

    I feel that some people become so detached working with science and numbers that they forget that the whole point  of doing science is humanity.  

  6. Some paranoia being expressed:

    While no one particularly objected to a cyber-czar, there were howls of protest about the details in the bill. As originally drafted, the Cybersecurity Act gave the president an Internet “kill switch” for reasons of national security or in an emergency and the authority to designate private networks as critical infrastructure subject to cyber-security mandates, including standardized security software and testing and licensing and certification of cyber-security professionals.

    Diary to come.

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