Selections from Shurik’s Memoirs

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107. Estonian Elections, 1932

At the beginning of 1932, members of the League of Veterans of the Estonian War of Independence, aka Vaps, were busy drawing up changes to their constitution. [This organization was founded in 1929 as an association of veterans of the 1918-1920 war and has been described as a populist movement that sought national unity and a strong central government. They were anti-socialism, anti-parliament, and anti-racism. They criticized Nazi’s treatment of Jews, wore black berets, and used the Roman salute.*] It was decided during their congress in March to transform the league into a political party and non-veterans were allowed to join as supportive members. Now their propaganda mushroomed day by day and became increasingly aggressive and hostile toward other parties.

The 5th Parliament elections were held in May. My party [Union of Settlers and Smallholders Party] received the most votes, winning 42 seats [39.8% of the votes]. National Centre Party came second, winning 23 seats, and Estonian Socialist Workers’ Party came third, winning 22 seats, both of them losing 3 seats while we gained 4. Registered voter turnout was 67.4%.*

A parliamentary commission had been working on proposals to change the Constitution. The Parliament accepted these changes in March, which were to be voted on in a general election in August. No special propaganda was disseminated to promote these proposals since [most of] the parties supported them. The consensus was that they would easily pass. When the referendum was held in August, it drew 90.5% of registered voters. The election was a close one with 50.8% rejecting the new Constitution. A surprising loss. The Vaps movement continued to gain momentum, and the league proposed its own draft for the Constitution to be voted on during the following year.

*Source: Wikipedia


Q: What are the criteria for Shuriks Picks?

A: The book should be an enjoyable read and/or deal with an important or neglected topic - a book we have read to the end and can recommend. With occasional exceptions, the book should be available in bookstores in English. We also review select e-books and ARCs (advanced reader editions) but not unpublished works. We moved in 2011 and again in 2012. If you do not have our new address and want to submit a review copy, send us first an email. Acceptance of a book will not guarantee that it will be reviewed or mentioned. Our interests include classics, true crime, mysteries, history, and the environment. No erotica, porn, or ultra-violence.

Q: Do books qualify that are controversial or present ideas with which you disagree?

A: We welcome controversial books if they are well-written and informative. They are good for the publishing industry.

Q: Will your opinion of an author or publisher influence which books are chosen?

A: Somewhat as to which books we will choose to read but not our evaluation. There are some authors we like as persons but not their books and others we don’t like but have picked their books. In the case of two publishers, we have looked at scores of their mysteries but have found every one boring and thus tend to skip their novels.

Q: Can the same author be picked more than once? More than two months in a row?

A: Yes. Picks represents books we liked the best during the previous month.

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A: Not for Shuriks Picks or other reviews. However, we do mention books in the Commentary section based on reviews or announcements.

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A: We have a list of books we would like to read that is compiled from book reviews, recommendations, review copies, gifts, and books we purchase.

Q: Will you publish negative reviews?

A: Unlikely. Our goal is to promote books and reading. We might make occasional negative comments. 

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A: No. Problems can develop with the most respected publishing houses. Before we would sign with any publisher we would have a reputable literary lawyer or agent review the book contract.

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Q: What happened to November 2012 blog?

A: We have no clue, and Apple no longer provides tech support for iWeb. The November 2012 blog was up for at least eight months. Then it disappeared from our computer and from the Internet. Even listing it in the archives disappeared. We had a printout and added a shortened version to the October 2012 blog.


Pick of the Month, September 2017



Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented by Thomas Hardy, available in multiple editions and formats: ebooks, paperbacks, hardcover, audiobooks, annotated, unabridged, and abridged

Thomas Hardy’s historical romance novel was first published in a serialized version in 1891 in a British newspaper and in 1892 as a book. He presents memorable characters and paints a vivid picture of the mores and the life of the rich and the poor during the Victorian era. The themes include greed, manipulation, betrayal, bad choices, and the role of women in late 19th century England.

I first read this well-known classic in my college freshman English class, our discussion focused on symbolism, notably nature imagery in the novel. In rereading it, I found the story still powerful and riveting. Several movie, TV, theater, and opera adaptions have been produced, among them Roman Polanski’s Tess in 1979 and BBC’s four-hour TV series Tess of the d’Urbervilles in 2008. A 21st century version was made in 2013.


The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote by Sharyl Attkisson, Harper, $28.00

The smear industry employs tens of thousands of people and has expanded to an economy of billions of dollars. The smear artists are well-paid frontmen for rich and powerful interests who follow the playbooks of Goebbels and Alinsky. Their goal is often to destroy select ideas by ruining the people who are most effective in disseminating them. While there are right-wing smear groups, they pale in comparison to left-wing groups as to viciousness, financial resources, and media support. The smear industry’s most active figure is David Brock, founder of Media Matters (a chart of his “empire” is provided). The Soros family and Taco Bell heir Rob McKay are among his major donors. The reader is left wondering how Media Matters can qualify as a non-profit organization.

Attkisson mentions several of the countless smear victims. They include security guard Richard Jewell whose heroic actions save many lives in 1996 and yet he was falsely accused of being the bomber. Although the film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi enjoyed a respectable box office, opened at #2, and received rave audience reviews, coordinated internet smears reported the opposite. When British journalist Neil Clark published in 2005 a critical review of a pro-Iraq war book by a neo-conservative author, he was subjected to a diabolical smear campaign that damaged his career and extended to attacks on his wife’s work. Even Scott Adams, the creator of comic strip Dilbert, became target of organized attacks because he made positive comments about Donald Trump.

The smear industry went into overdrive in their efforts to destroy Donald Trump, labeling him a racist, KKK supporter, anti-Semitic, etc. He was bombarded by the left and the right; the elites and celebrities, several of whom threatened to leave the country if he won; and some in his own GOP party, with Mitt Romney one of the main attackers even though Trump had supported him. The media evolved into what Attkisson describes as an opposition party. Fake stories were published, his words twisted, and his wife Melania falsely accused of being an illegal alien. He wasn’t expected to survive such large-scale, coordinated attacks. Attkisson wonders if they might have actually helped him.

In this important and informative bestseller, Attkisson reveals that polls can be wrong, op-eds written to mislead readers, topics said to be trending are not trending but rather fabricated to manipulate the news, and sites such as Snopes fail to provide unbiased fact-checking. She tells of astroturfing; behind the scenes collusion between the press and politician, naming names; staged hate crimes; the punishment of whistleblowers; and much more. Highly recommended.

Sharyl Attkisson is a five-time Emmy award winner, recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting, and host of Sinclair’s syndicated TV show, Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson. She has reported for CBS News, PBR, and CNN.


Mercy Watson Boxed Set: Adventures of a Porcine Wonder by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, Candlewick, $29.99, ages 5 to 8

The boxed set contains the first six Mercy Watson books and made The New York Times bestseller list. The pig Mercy continues to delight children since the first in the series, Mercy Watson to the Rescue, was published in 2005. Kate DiCamillo is an award winning children’s author whose publications include Because of Winn-Dixie, a runaway bestseller and Newberry Honor Book.


Specialty/Small Press

The Innovation Press, established in 2015, focuses on the pre-K to 5th grade market. They publish board books, picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and graphic novels. Their titles include How to Survive as a Firefly by Kristen Foote, illustrated by Erica Salcedo (a Junior Library Guild Selection) and The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca, illustrated by Daniel Rieley.


Author submissions: They are especially interested in rhyming books and hybrid texts that blend elements of fiction and nonfiction, preferring manuscripts that teach in some way and/or promote creativity, diversity, laughter, or learning. Submission guidelines are provided at

Site content © 2017


Major Events, August 2017

Terror attacks by a Moroccan Muslim cell on August 17 in Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain killed 15 persons from nine nations and injured over 136 others. The terrorists drove a van into a crowd, a frequent tactic by jihadists. On August 18 in Turku, Finland, an 18-year-old Moroccan asylum seeker killed two women and wounded eight others in a knife attack.


Comedian Jerry Lewis, 91, died on August 20 in Las Vegas from cardiac disease and peripheral vascular disease. He gained accolades as host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons that raised around $1.5 billion.


The solar eclipse on August 21 crossed 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina. People flew in from other states and countries to witness this rare event.


Destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a tanker on August 21, killing ten sailors. It was the third time this year that a collision occurred between a U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet ship and a civilian vessel. Some blame the collisions on the incompetence of crew members.


Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25 in Rockport, Texas and a second time on August 30 near Cameron, Louisiana. It is the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade and produced the worst flooding in U.S. history. At this writing, the death toll is at least 47 and thousands are left homeless. The severity of flooding in Houston is partially due to man-made factors. NBC News blamed overpopulation and overdevelopment - land topped by concrete and asphalt prevents rainwater from draining properly. Also Houston’s mayor was blamed for his failure to call for evacuations sooner, initially telling the residents to stay put, and his dismissal of warnings by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Cajun Navy, Samaritan’s Purse, and the Red Cross are among groups providing desperately needed assistance. 


Attacks on American history grew frenzied and focused on destroying statues. The large bust of Abraham Lincoln, erected in 1926 in the West Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, was wrapped in tar paper and set on fire on August 16. In Bucyrus, Ohio, the statue of Col. William Crawford (a Revolutionary War hero who was horribly tortured near the end of the war) was decapitated ISIS style on August 24. Several other statues drew violent protests from radicals. Nancy Pelosi, whose father dedicated Confederate monuments while he was mayor of Baltimore, called for removal of Civil War statues from Washington, D.C. Radical Mayor Bill de Blasio wants all of New York City’s statues and monuments “reviewed” and is considering removing the statue of Christopher Columbus. National Park Service is concerned over the threats made against Mt. Rushmore and is taking steps to protect the iconic sculpture. All this is reminiscent of Mao’s Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution.

Winners and Losers


  1. Wildlife biologist Siew Te Wong, 48, Malaysia. Since 2009, he and his team have rehabilitated and cared for 55 rescued sun bears. Sun bears are the smallest bears, live in rainforests of South Asia, and are essential in keeping the ecosystem in balance. Their numbers have declined by 30% over the past 30 years. For his efforts on behalf of the sun bears, Wong was nominated for 2017 CNN Heroes.

  2. NASA astronaut and biochemist Peggy Whitson, 57. She has broken several spaceflight records. On April 24, 2017 she broke the record for most total days spent in space by any NASA astronaut. “Makers” honored her as a “trailblazing woman.”

  3. Hospital worker Mavis Wanczyk, 53, Massachusetts. She won the $759 million Powerball - the second largest Powerball jackpot ever.

  4. Kristina Kuusk, Julia Beljajeva, Erika Kirpu, and Irina Embrich of the Estonian women’s épée team. The team won the 2017 World Fencing Championship in Leipzig, Germany. China came second and Poland third.

  5. Finland. Global English Editing named Finland the world’s most literate society in 2016. This was based on a scale that incorporated the number of libraries and newspapers, years of schooling, and other factors.


  1. Sammantha Allen, 29, Arizona. This monster, along with several members of her family, subjected 10-year-old Ame Deal to horrific, long-term abuse. When on a hot day Ame took a Popsicle without permission, Allen locked her into a small storage box and left her to die. The jury gave her the death penalty.

  2. College student Andrew J. Spieles, 21, Virginia. He was caught submitting voter registration forms listing names of deceased people along with other false information for the 2016 election. He was sentenced to 100 days incarceration for voter fraud and now has a rap sheet.

  3. Jerry McGee, 19, Austin Salyers, 18, and Casey Taylor, 19, Keokuk, Iowa. The trio beat an opossum and posted a video of it online, which led to their capture. They are charged with animal cruelty.

  4. Honduras. This country has presently the highest murder rate for environmental activists. Relatives of Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in March 2016, continue to be subjected to a “hate campaign” that includes death threats, assaults, robbery, vandalism, and other crimes. The family blames the country’s President Juan Orlando Hernandez. Source:

  5. ESPN. The struggling network removed Korean-American announcer Robert Lee from broadcasting a college football game because, they admitted, of his name. At first we presumed this was fake news or from the Onion. But it is actually true and resulted in widespread ridicule and derision of ESPN on social media. Perhaps the goal was to obtain free publicity to pump up their flagging ratings even if it made them look like idiots. Some have never forgiven ESPN for snubbing Lauren Hill, a true hero, and presenting the Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner.


  link to first blogEntries/2008/11/4_Selections_from_Shuriks_Memoirs.html

Members of League of Veterans of the Estonian War of Independence, aka Vaps, give the Roman salute in 1933

Stonehenge, the setting of the arrest of Thomas Hardy’s Tess, is estimated to be 3,100 years old. Cropped version of photo © garethwiscomb, 2007, at

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama give the Roman salute.  So have George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Below: Hugh Hefner gives the salute in 2011. None of them, except perhaps Arnold, made it as a political statement. However, those who do it in Germany or Austria, no matter how innocent, will face criminal charges as two Chinese tourists discovered in Berlin on August 5, 2017 while taking selfies. They were arrested, released on $600 bail, and could face up to three years in prison.

Sharyl Attkisson is author of the bestsellers The Smear and Stonewalled. Her syndicated TV show, Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson, is broadcast in 79 markets and streams live at 9:30 ET on Sunday mornings. The site provides a list of stations carrying the show.

Sharyn McCrumb’s novel The Unquiet Grave will be released on September 12, 2017. It is based on a true story of one of the weirdest murder trials in American history.

The Estonian women’s épée team - Erika Kirpu, Kristina Kuusk, Julia Beljayeva, and Irina Embrich - won the 2017 World Fencing Championship by beating China. Photo: Vaba Eesti Sõna, July 30, 2017