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Odds & Ends: Manta Ray of Political Analysis Edition

by poemless Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 06:46:34 PM EST

Contents: Summer camp for sycophants; Hot, married presidential love; Emo kids learn real meaning of irony; Hits of the 80's: Dolph Lundgren & U.S. foreign policy edition!; Russian bears torment, eat scientists ... and much much more!

I'm feeling terribly unmotivated to write this.  I'm a bit bored with all of the negative vibe merchantry and name calling lately.  Maybe it is the dog days of summer, but I feel overcome with remarkable self-pity.  I slave away at the computer writing these diaries, not for money (heh-I wish), not for fame (lie), not for glory (another lie), but for you, dear readers.  In the hopes that I can put a smile on your dour, humourless European faces, in hopes that you'll absorb the information I provide in this forum like some kind of Euro-sponge, and that armed with said information, you will no longer be crushed under the weight of your own ignorance, nor I mine.  In short, I am trying to save you, save us, from ourselves.  

And how am I repaid for this, frankly, Nobel-prize worthy behavoir?  Name calling.  

Re: President Sarkozy puts his foot in it (none / 0)
nah - we need to have some bottom feeders on ET as well to provide some colour and controversy.  We can't have everything discussed in grey bureaucratic or academic modulation.  Just look at Poemless trying to stir things up above!
"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot dotty communists) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:03:56 PM EST
[ Parent | Reply to This |  none0-Mega Troll1-Troll2-Warning!3-Good4-Excellent ]  
Re: President Sarkozy puts his foot in it (4.00 / 2)
Are you calling me a "bottom feeder"?!  
"This is nothing compared to how Putin rigged Eurovision."
by poemless on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:07:30 PM EST
[ Parent | Reply to This ]
Re: President Sarkozy puts his foot in it (4.00 / 2)
You are the Manta ray of modern political analysis...
"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot dotty communists) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:12:22 PM EST
[ Parent | Reply to This |  none0-Mega Troll1-Troll2-Warning!3-Good4-Excellent ]
Re: President Sarkozy puts his foot in it (4.00 / 2)
The Manta ray of modern political analysis.
Mantas are filter feeders: they feed on plankton, fish larvae and the like, passively filtered from the water passing through their gills as they swim. The small prey organisms are caught on flat horizontal plates of russet-coloured spongy tissue, that span the spaces between the manta's gill bars.
Mantas frequent reef-side cleaning stations where small fish such as wrasses and angelfish swim inside the manta's gills and all over its skin to feed, in the process cleaning it of parasites and removing bits of dead skin.
The predators of the Manta ray include mainly large sharks, however in some circumstances orcas have also been observed preying on them.
Mantas are extremely curious around humans, and are fond of swimming with scuba divers. Although they may approach humans, if touched, their mucus membrane is removed, causing lesions and infections on their skin. They will often surface to investigate boats (without engines running). They have the largest brain-to-body ratio of the sharks and rays.[2]
Mantas are known to breach the water into the air.
Sounds about right, though technically not a "bottom feeder."  
Well, if I'm the Manta ray of modern political analysis, ET's my reef-side cleaning station, and you are my angelfish!  Lol.
"This is nothing compared to how Putin rigged Eurovision."
by poemless on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:42:26 PM EST
[ Parent | Reply to This ]
Re: President Sarkozy puts his foot in it (none / 1)
Manta ray - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Manta rays are believed by some to have evolved from bottom-feeding ancestry, but have adapted to become filter feeders in the open ocean.
In other words, you have evolved into a higher form of life and can be quite graceful, at times.
Thanks for the offer, but I'd prefer not to be your cleaner fish

Too late, my little fishies.  Thanks for the exfoliation, Frank.  I'm absolutely glowing!

And it doesn't end there.  Chris at Sean's Russia Blog has decided that I am a "hippie" and has made it his mission in life to torment me, since, like MillMan, he hates hippies.  To be honest, I don't really like hippies either, now that I've given it some thought.  Or rather, I don't like their scene.  But my mother was a hippie, and I think insulting someone's mother is totally over the line.  Especially when she's dead.  Heartless bullies.  

So, like the little child who excels at school and enjoys the prospect of learning new things, but who wishes to skip anyway because of the punks who hide in the bushes and beat him up on his way home, I don't want to bother writing this even though I suspect the payoff might be worth it in the long run.  And let's face it.  Not writing isn't really going to advance my career as the next Eduard Limonov, is it?  So here goes.  But know that I write this out of spite and with an ache in my heart, my angelfish.  

BTW, if you're wondering why I'm doing at SRB, why I'm seeing another blog behind ET's back, I'll tell you.  I lied about not wanting fame and fortune.  And here's what happened.  The eXile linked to Sean's Russia Blog in their "Banned in Russia!" cover story.  The story The eXile links to contains a link to me in the first line.  Years of lazy hustling on ET has never brought me so close to stardom.  You only have yourselves to blame.

Anyway.  Do you want me to tell you what those wacky Russians are up to this week?  C'mon, you need a break from crying into your glasses of Warsteiner, made warm and flat by Obama cooties.  

Come with me, my leeettle angelfishies...

 


Russia, In The News!

Teens Busy Giving Adults the Creeps:

School's out for the summer, and maybe you are wondering what those crazy Nashi kids are up to with all their free time?  ...  What's that?  Well, I'm going to tell you anyway.  They're going to camp like all hormonal pranksters!  It's like a hijinks & bad jokes-filled Disney film - only directed by a Soviet propagandist.  Items on the summer camp agenda include a daily jog, learning business skills and ... sex.  

Moscow Times: Nashi Summer Camp Tries a New Message

To teach the cadres about business, they were given play money called "talanty" and told to spend it wisely at the many stalls hawking cheap wares like custom-made T-shirts. How this was meant to train them for careers as future barons of industry was unclear.

In fact, few of the campers seemed to have drawn much more than a few stock slogans from the message of economic innovation.

"If we just keep trying to build our country on oil and gas, we won't have a future," said Ilya Solovyov, 18, from Rzhev.

Bright-eyed and articulate, Solovyov stumbled when pressed about what innovation was. The country should develop nanotechnology and high-tech industry, he said. The country needs to innovate. So, in which field does Solovyov want to work after university?

"I don't know," he said. "Energy?"

Let the losers who want to be poor and disenfranchised do the innovating.  I have a job at Gazprom waiting for me.

Whatever the youth group's future might be, this year's camp was not without the amusingly offensive hijinks, which they call "actions," that have marked previous events.

In a small wooded nook alongside a winding dirt path, Oleg Sokolov, a 23-year-old commissar, keeps watch over his prize pig. The pig, he said, was named after Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Next week they will release the pig at the Estonian border, sending him home to where he belongs, Sokolov said.

"They [Estonians] think they are a European country, but they're not," he said, standing in a pile of slop next to the porcine Toomas Ilves. "They're absolutely uncivilized."

Classy.  I can't possibly imagine why the President wants nothing to do with you.

In the end, the most striking political message may have been the complete absence of posters of Medvedev. Among dozens of campers interviewed, not a single one mentioned Medvedev when asked about Russia's leadership.

"They don't know who Medvedev is," said Markov, "and Medvedev doesn't want to know who they are."

I guess this means we won't be seeing any "Dima" bikinis in the near future.  I'm still waiting for my Vovka pair.  To all those kind souls who sent me a pair per my request, you should let the post know I've not received them yet...  

AFP: Kremlin youth group seeks new role in Medvedev's Russia

Reflecting Kremlin thinking, events at the camp included a wedding of 20 couples who were then told to go and procreate to solve Russia's demographic crisis, and the founding of an Orthodox group against Kosovo's independence.

What?!  I never attended summer camp myself, but I don't remember my friends who did mentioning a "shag zone" for procreation.  I don't know what to say, really.  Except that ... Nashi exemplifies the spirit of Odds & Ends!

More, from The Guardian...

Up a grass track from the central stage is a boutique belonging to Antonia Shapovalova -- a 20-year-old patriotic fashion designer. A student from provincial Kostroma, Shapovalova caused a sensation last year by unveiling a pair of "Putin pants" -- skimpy bikini briefs decorated round the front with the slogan "Vova -- I'm with you." (Vova is the diminutive form of Vladimir.) This act of intimate homage to President Putin went down well: Shapovalova now has an outlet in Gum, Moscow's chichi shopping centre.

"They are funny and patriotic," Shapovalova says of her pants. This year she is selling her T-shirts. One carries the slogan "I want three (children)." Another shows two rabbits with the words: "Procreation is fun and useful." The camp takes Russia's demographic problem so seriously it has its own special "shag zone" -- reserved for 20 young couples, who tie the knot in a Big Brother-style ceremony on the main stage. Each couple sleeps in a heart-shaped tent decorated with balloons; a baby conceived at last year's mass wedding, Vasya, is proudly shown off.

The tents are only a metre or so away from each other. Isn't this a bit off-putting? "I'm not embarrassed," says Artur Djakhbarov, a 23-year-old groom from Dagestan . "In fact, I would say it adds to the excitement." Djakhbarov's bride Anastasia is 22; they plan to have five children, he says.

The camp mixes Kremlin propaganda with the chance to have a free holiday -- and, of course, to flirt with the opposite sex. There is a climbing wall, dance classes, a gym and even a Segway; the forest air buzzes with the scent of pine resin and youthful summer hormones; on the sand, young women sunbathe, apparently reading Russia's constitution. The Nashi camp is booze-free. Participants are forced to do a morning jog; they don't appear to enjoy it much.

"I'm here for the swimming and the women," says Chris Oganda, a 22-year-old Kenyan who came to the camp with Russian university friends. He made the 16-hour bus trip to Seliger from the town of Cheboksary. His two-week stay costs him nothing: the Kremlin pays all bills.

Surkov also stopped by to say hi.  He's maybe second in charge to the President, unless you count the Prime Minister, to whom the President may or may not be second in charge.  Which would still make Surkov second in charge to Medvedev, though I understand he's more like the liaison between Putin and Medvedev.  Actually, no one knows who is in charge, exactly.  Not even them.  It doesn't matter for our purposes.  All you need to know is that he's a crazy hot Chechen who is like the Dr. Frankenstein of Nashi, and when he's not doing whatever on earth his job is (advising Presidents?  running teen cults?  inventing silly new ideologies?) he writes lyrics for a Goth band.  That's right.  They're evil, but cooler than any government you'll ever have, suckers.  So I am curious to know his thoughts on the legislation before the Duma seeking to ban ... uhm, ... emo.  I can't make this stuff up!

Guardian: Russia wages war on emo kids.

Oh god.  Like the emo kids need another reason to want to kill themselves...

Last month the State Duma held a hearing on "Government Strategy in the Sphere of Spiritual and Ethical Education", a piece of legislation aimed at curbing "dangerous teen trends". There, without a clue in the world, social conservatives lumped "emos" together with skinheads, pushing for heavy regulation of emo websites and the banning of emo and goth fashion from schools and government buildings.
"The point of the bill is so that by 2020, Moscow will have someone to rule its government," explained Alexander Grishunin, an adviser to bill sponsor Yevgeny Yuryev, apparently without irony. "This is the first step in the public discourse."

Yuryev and his allies hope to pass the legislation before the end of the year

(...)

The new bill describes "emos" as 12-16 year-olds with black and pink clothing, studded belts, painted fingernails, ear and eyebrow piercings, and black hair with fringes that "cover half the face". Emo culture's "negative ideology" may encourage depression, social withdrawal and even suicide, the bill alleges - with young girls being particularly vulnerable.

"Of course, there are emo teens who just listen to their music. But our actions are not directed at them but rather at those who also hurt themselves, commit suicide and promote those acts," bill co-author Igor Ponkin explained to the Moscow Times. Though we are not certain how Ponkin intends to target people who have committed suicide, he certainly seems determined.

By 2020, I expect the fad will have died out (ooh, bad word choice) on its own.  With or without a crackdown on sad young girls and victims of suicide.  

When You Don't Want to Keep the Government out of Your Bedroom:

I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt ...

WaPo: Portrait of a Predicament: Putin's Face, or Medvedev's?

People think this is about there being some confusion over who is in charge.  I think it is about people wanting to hang pictures of Putin around the house/office and using his Presidency as an excuse.  So now that he's no longer President, they have to make up a reason to not take that charming mug down from the wall...

Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said in an interview that the new prime minister has not put up a picture of his protege, but he noted that Putin's "permanent office is under construction in the White House, and right now he's working in a temporary office."
(...)

Ordinary Russians are also snapping up pictures, according to Maria Valiyeva, who works in a photo shop in central Moscow. "People are buying them for their offices, for presents and for themselves," she said. "We had a couple who bought a portrait of Medvedev and Putin together and the wife said, 'It's for our bedroom.' "

The phenomenon prompted a reporter and photographer at the newspaper Kommersant to put on an exhibition of joint portraits of Putin and Medvedev. The show, which closed this month, was called "Duplication of Identity" and featured 106 shots of the power couple.

Kommersant reporter Andrei Kolesnikov offered some advice to the country's mandarins via an interview on the television channel NTV. "Whose portrait should they hang? Putin's or Medvedev's? Medvedev's or Putin's?" asked Kolesnikov, a consistently wry observer of the new prime minister. "So as not to make a mistake, such a portrait should be . . . one picture and two people."

Soooo glad I'm not the only one with a portrait of Putin in my bedroom!  Whew.  I feel like less of a freak now.  Haha.  Just kidding!  Maybe.

Apparently I'll be getting my very own sex symbol world leader sometime soon.  I think he'd do more for my libido if he actually cut it out with the sweet nothings and charm offensive and went and, I don't know, challenged Bush to a duel to defend my honor.  I never trust those consumate gentleman types.  Or as a friend refers to them, "slimy red wine men."  Like Obama, they just beg the question, What are you doing when you're not trying to get someone into bed with you?

The Nation: Obama as Sex Symbol

In politics as in pop, legions of little girls jumping out of their panties can't be wrong. That's the vital lesson so far of Election '08. I watched a throng of them in November 2006, teenagers in their short skirts and breathlessness, jumping and jittering, hands to cheeks, screaming for Barack Obama. White and black, they crowded to the front of a rally for Jim Webb in the onetime capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia. Jim who? One of the white girls awkwardly told me that she didn't really know anything about the beet-faced warrior for the white working class running for the Senate, and she wasn't really there to find out. Obama hadn't come there to say much about the candidate or Virginia or even that year's election, either. He glided across the stage like a crooner, one slender hand gracing the microphone, the other extending long fingers to trace the imagined horizon of his hopes and dreams. He must have talked for thirty minutes. It didn't matter what he said; he smiled a thousand watts, put a little Southern sugar in his voice and mentioned his mama. Webb steamed in the wings as the girls keened, and from somewhere in the crowd grown-ups started calling out, "Obama for President." He wasn't yet a candidate. He was Frank Sinatra, so cool he's hot, a centrifugal force commanding attention so ruthlessly that it appeared effortless, reducing everyone around him to a sidekick, and the girls in the front rows to jelly.

(...)

America, they say, you can be cool and sexy again, "back!" and swinging, but secure this time. Those "excesses" of the '60s that Barack mentioned, those family fractures across the demographic board, they can all be resolved through hot married love.

Ew.  Now the adults are creeping me out.

However, if you're of the opinion that Obama's bringing sexy back, you can spice up your life with the Obama pop.  Yes, he's turning the country - and your tongue - blue.

This Week in The New Cold War:

This New Cold War has really taken off.  I mean, we have a new Cuban Missile Crisis and everything.  It's but a matter of time until another dashing Russian ballerina fleeing Soviet oppression comes to America and starts charming the pants off the Studio 54 set.  Or wait.  Would that be until an American ballerina fleeing BushCo. oppression comes to Russia and starts charming the pants off the intelligentsia? Well, someone's going to defect at some point. Until then, here are some minor developments on the front line of the NCW:

Economist: Who's captive now?

They say even a stopped clock is right two times a day.  The Economist must be stopped at, "Czechoslovakia's not even a real country anymore, idiots."

Each year since 1959, in the third full week of July, America has marked Captive Nations Week. The original Congressional resolution is worth reading. It highlights both what the drafter, the late Lev Dobriansky, saw as the success of the United States in "e pluribus unum" (making one nation out of many), and the failure of Communist empires to do the same. The continued celebration of the week is something of a totem for old cold warriors who believe that the victories of 1989-91 are still sadly unconsummated.
Yet the resolution's wording rings oddly. The list of "captive nations" reads: "Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Latvia, Estonia, White Ruthenia, Rumania, East Germany, Bulgaria, mainland China, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, North Korea, Albania, Idel-Ural, Tibet, Cossackia, Turkestan, North Viet-Nam, and others [sic, throughout]".

It is hard to find rhyme or reason in that, even in its original context. Cossacks are Russian patriots; their beastly treatment under Soviet rule does not equate to a desire for national independence. Others whose history gives them every cause for complaint, such as the Circassians, don't appear at all. Is the aim of the resolution ethnic self-determination, or the destruction of communist rule? As it stands, the two are conflated.

Moreover, the phrase "Communist Russia" is wince-making. Many Russians find it unfair or outright racist to link Soviet rule, under which more Russians perished than any other nationality, with Russia itself.

"Cossackia?"  Where the hell is "Cossackia!?"  And don't give me that cock and bull about "Cossackia cannot be understood with the mind, nor its land measured by the acre. It is a special case. You can only believe in Cossackia."

Robert Kagan: Autocratic, by design.

I'm not actually going to make you read all of Kagan's article.  Even angelfish have their boundaries.  But I could not pass up this little gem:

Vladimir Putin and his spokesmen speak of "democracy," but they define the term much as the Chinese do. For Putin, democracy is not so much about competitive elections as about the implementation of the popular will.  The regime is democratic because the government consults with and listens to the Russian people, discerns what they need and want and then attempts to give it to them. As Ivan Krastev notes, "The Kremlin thinks not in terms of citizens' rights but in terms of the population's needs."

Oh.  I see the problem.  Yes.  Population's need.  Popular will.  Unconscionable.  If Russia had ever bothered to learn anything from America, they would know quite well that proper Democracy is intended to IGNORE of the will of the people and their needs.  Sheesh.  It's Democracy 101, people!

So.  Let's take inventory.  We've got a Cuban Missile Crisis, a Czechoslovakia & an East Germany to pray for, a spot or two of deranged propaganda, yet it feels like we're missing a crucial ingredient.  Anyone think so?  Hm.  What could it be?  What would make this New Cold War pack the same punch as the first one?  ... Oh!  I've got it!

Dolph Lundgren!!  Aw yeah!

Eternal Remont: Make Rakia a Part of Your Balanced Breakfast....It's GRRREAT!

The star from Universal Soldier and Rocky IV is in Bulgaria for the shooting of his new movie Command Performance.

In Command Performance Lundgren will star as the drummer for a Russian band who is the opening act for a major American rock group. Their concert in Moscow with the Russian Prime Minister in the audience gets interrupted as a group of terrorists take over. The band's drummer, however, happens to be an ex-Marine, and salvages the situation.

I can't believe Lundgren stole my movie idea.

This must be set 8 years in the future when Medvedev is PM and Putin returns to his post as President.  Otherwise, it sounds totally believable.  Hold on a sec while I go add this to my Netflix queue before I forget...

Ok, I'm back.  And so are your refugees.

Stop!  You've misunderstood!  It's Only the Mexican Immigrants We Want to Go Back to Where They Came From.

N.B.  I do NOT want Mexican immigrants to "go home" unless by home you mean "where they live now, not causing anyone any harm, so leave them alone!"

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a safe trip home...

You might judge Eastern Europeans who've come to America to live the American dream, who, upon finding out it's more like a nightmare, decide to pack their bags and jump this sinking ship as opportunists or traitors or spies.  But if you think about it, what is America but a group of people who up and leave for a new country when their current one just isn't working out for them?  A nation of immigrants is also a nation of emigrants.  

Dubuque Telegraph Herald: Illinois: Russia's renewed strength stokes immigrant pride.

Now this is the kinda grassroots movement I'm talking about!  Russophilia in the Heartland!

CHICAGO (AP) -- Allan Prikhodko has never set foot in Russia, speaks Russian with a slight American accent and struggles to read the language.
Still, the 18-year-old dreams of becoming the mayor of Moscow.

"I feel like as a patriot I should do my bit in contributing to the improvement of Russia," the U.S.-born son of Soviet immigrants said from his suburban Chicago home.

(...)

"In the U.S., there has been an explosion of internal Russian patriotism -- they have remained Americans but they increasingly associate themselves with Russian culture," said Ilya Merenzon, CEO of the Press Release Group, a New York-based communications research agency specializing in Russian-American communications.

In cities like Chicago and New York with large and organized Russian communities, the renewed patriotism has come in the form of more interest in Russian culture.

Excellent...  Everything is going perfectly according to plan.  

NY Daily News: Bostjan Nachbar says 'Nyet' to Nets, signs with Russian team

At least one of the Nets' revolving doors leads to Russia.
Free agent forward Bostjan Nachbar decided Monday to sign with Russia's Dynamo Moscow team for a reported $14.3 million over three years - far more than he would have gotten from the Nets or any other NBA team. Nachbar made $2.5 million with the Nets last season, when he averaged 9.8 points off the bench.

Nachbar's new deal is said to include buyout options following each season so that he can return to the NBA if the opportunity arises.

I've said it once and I will say it again.  Russia's not going to take over the world using tanks, but their checkbooks.   And they have discriminating taste.  Which is impressive for people raised on shchi and kotlety.

Russia's Holy Fools Making Comeback 90 Years after Revolution:

The Other Russia: Russian Authorities Put Pressure on Jehovah's Witnesses

Russian law enforcement officials have reportedly interfered with Jehovah's Witnesses congregations.  Jehovah's Witnesses have repeatedly interfered with my sitting at home enjoying life and being quite happy NOT talking about Jesus, thank you.  They've put pressure on me to accept the Lord as My Savior.  It's all roses when they get up in our business, but oh, the humanity if anyone tries to cramp their style.  Anyone in the mood for the world's tiniest violin sonata?

Russian authorities have turned up the pressure against the Jehovah's Witness religious group in a series of Russian regions. Law enforcement officials have reportedly interfered with the group's congregations in the cities of Yekaterinburg, Asbest, Taganrog and Murmansk.
On July 16th, the Federal Security Service (FSB) led a search of a building used by the Jehovah's Witnesses in Yekaterinburg, the ANN Information Agency reports (Rus). Officers initiated the search in connection with a criminal case against the Witnesses launched in Asbest, a city some 70 kilometers away. The local prosecutor's office believes that books, flyers and magazines distributed by the group are "extremist". FSB agents seized literature, to investigate the prosecution's assertion that it is "overtly, clearly and directly aimed at inciting hatred, propaganda of the exclusivity of the Jehovah faith, and the humiliation of human dignity on account of a person's attitude towards religion."

Meanwhile, proceedings against another branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses were being seen by a regional court in the southern Rostov oblast. As the the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis reported, "Jehovists" from the city of Taganrog were being similarly tried for "extremism" under article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code ("Incitement of National, Racial, or Religious Enmity").

Hm.  This is actually worthy of a diary of the non-bottom-feeder variety.  Because my immediate reaction was ... well, my immediate reaction was, "Good!"  Then I thought, well, all the major religions incite religious enmity.  It's almost unavoidable.  Sure they all preach peace and love thy brother and all that jazz.  But most religion is about being angry at the world around you and finding someone to blame.  Sorry.  But that is how it works in practice.  But you can't outlaw all religion.  So people hide behind "religious freedom" to protect their hobby of inciting enmity.  What's the answer?  Jehovah's Witnesses, however, probably don't even require anti-extremism legislation.  Surely they are already breaking laws against harassment....

Also, some nut in Siberia thinks he's Jesus.  People don't seem to like him much.

ABC: Ex-Traffic Cop Says He's Jesus

Deep in the heart of Siberia's birch forests lies one of the largest and most remote religious communes of the planet. More than 5,000 people have left their families and their homes to move here and join the Church of the Last Testament, which has more than 10,000 followers worldwide. The church centers on one man. He is known simply as Vissarion, meaning "he who gives new life," or simply as the teacher, and he claims that he is Jesus Christ.
I had heard about a self-proclaimed messiah in Siberia and I decided to try to find him myself. Getting to Vissarion's commune is not easy. From Moscow, the Russian capital, it is more than 2,000 miles and four time zones away. One begins by flying to Abakan, a bleak city near the Mongolian border, dotted with crumbling tsarist buildings and Soviet-style blocks. Driving through, I decided to ask residents whether they had heard of Vissarion and what they thought of him. Most people knew who he was, but they didn't seem to like him much.

Everyone knows you can trust Russian traffic cops!  

Dregs O' The Odds & Ends:

Rawr!

First their Arctic station had to be evacuated when the ice it was built atop melted.  Now they're being eaten by hungry bears who'd rather have salmon, to be honest (and who wouldn't?)  Perhaps they will have to admit there may be something to this whole Climate Crisis business.  If there is a smart person in the Kremlin, they're buying at least as many windfarms and solar cells as they are basketball players and Italian restaurants.  (Roman's girlfriend liked a certain restaurant in Italy - so he bought it for her.)

Reuters: Russian bears trap geology survey crew.

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, July 22 (Reuters) - At least 30 hungry bears have trapped a group of geologists at their remote survey site in Russia's far east after killing two of their co-workers last week, emergency officials said on Tuesday.

The team of geologists on Russia's seismically active Kamchatka peninsula refused to leave their camp after the bears showed up, a press spokesman for the Kamchatka emergency services ministry said.

"In the interests of safety they didn't come out to work -- the people are scared by the invasion of bears," the spokesman said.

A bear killed two geologists at the worksite on July 18, officials said.

In a weird twist to the story, the scientists being held hostage by the bears could not defend themselves as it is illegal to shoot bears.  Poor bears...  

And lastly, it would be irresponsible of me not to mention the Name of Russia contest which has journalists up in arms, as popular vote has Stalin leading the pack.  Anyone can vote, so I'm not sure how much faith we should put in an Internet poll for deep insights into the psyche of the average Russian citizen.  On the other hand, you can vote!  I voted for Dostoevsky.  Aw yeah, represent!

Transparent Language: Имя России ['Name of Russia']:  Who's Your Pick?

Russia is an enormous country. It is inhabited by millions of different people. Its history is colorful [to say the least], the culture exceptional and vivid, it is a country that has given many great artists, writers, thinkers, scientists [the list could go on and on] to the world, but never mind all that now, дорогие мои [my dear ones], because the time has come to narrow everything, all of that, down to one. One person to become «Имя России» [Name of Russia]. Or at least that's the plan according to Russia's Number One State TV-channel, appropriately named «(Телеканал) Россия», something they proclaim with a flashy banner on the main site going: «Исторический выбор 2008» [Historic Election 2008], and no, I suppose they're not talking about picking Medvedev for president back in March. That was only about politics, but this election is more than politics - this is about picking one single person from all of Russian history to represent it, to give it a face, and yes, a name. Apparently, those red `cheburashkas' («Чебурашка») that are going to be the symbol of Russia in Beijing during the Olympics next month are not enough. Obviously, this country feels the need for a mascot that's a little less cuddly, and this might have been the reason for the vote that started out with 500 nominees, but was narrowed down to the 50 most voted for after June 12th. And yes, you can vote too, all you need to do is click here and pick your own favorite. And if you click on «рейтинги» you'll find the top twelve, which, unless they fall out of favor that is, will go to the third round on September 1st. And who's number one, if not Stalin? Well, I'm all for a less hug-able and snuggle-worthy Name of Russia (despite having a little soft `cheburashka' dangling from my bag), but a... dictator?

Vote!

~~~~~~~~~~~

Ok, That's all I have for this week, my angelfishes.  Oh, wait.  Robert Amsterdam had this fabulous pic of Vovka up today.  They hate when I insinuate that they like these pictures too, but for some reason they just keep putting them up.  I'd be perfectly happy with more pictures of Misha.  But Misha's lawyer seems to have some Putin fetish.  Who am I to judge?...

V-Dawg.  Looking particularly Original Gangsta today...

Ok, thanks for reading.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Ciao!

Display:
Even working and/or drunk as a skunk, I can't miss Odds & Ends.  Great stuff, poemless.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 07:03:05 PM EST
Drunk as a skunk is surely the best way to read it!  Thanks!

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 07:05:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, my dear poemless, it's always a good time to read O&E.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 07:27:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Odds & Ends: Manta Ray of Political Analysis Edition
In cities like Chicago and New York with large and organized Russian communities, the renewed patriotism has come in the form of more interest in Russian culture.

A Russian ex-girlfriend of mine, who has been living in Madrid for the past six years (because she "could no longer stand living in Russia"), recently updated her Facebook status  to "... is in Moscow and thinks Russians are interesting again."

European Tribune - Comments - Odds & Ends: Manta Ray of Political Analysis Edition

"I'm here for the swimming and the women," says Chris Oganda, a 22-year-old Kenyan who came to the camp with Russian university friends. He made the 16-hour bus trip to Seliger from the town of Cheboksary. His two-week stay costs him nothing: the Kremlin pays all bills.

This was important for me to read.  I had assumed that the Nashi were xenophobic and racist.  Clearly, I was very much mistaken:  

BBC NEWS | Europe | Murder of African alarms Russia

Murder of African alarms Russia
This year has seen a sharp rise on attacks on foreigners in Russia
A Russian youth movement allied to President Vladimir Putin is to demand action against racist violence after the murder of an African student.

A spokesman for Nashi (Our People) said it wanted public condemnation of rising racial intolerance in St Petersburg, Mr Putin's native city.

Searchlight Magazine: RUSSIA The ultimate risk of being an anti-racist

The next calculated murder of an anti-racist was on 7 April this year when Lamsar Samba Sell, a Senegalese student, was shot in the neck by a nazi skinhead. Samba was actively involved in an NGO called African Unity and had helped organise intercultural festivals with Nashi. On his way home after attending an intercultural friendship evening at a discotheque, he and other African students were ambushed by a nazi gunman who had hidden in a doorway. When the nazi ran out into the street and screamed slogans, the students panicked and ran. A shot rang out and a man seen firing it escaped after throwing away a gun engraved with a swastika.

This reminds me of the way every Thai household and restaurant seems to have a photogragh of the Thai royal couple:

European Tribune - Comments - Odds & Ends: Manta Ray of Political Analysis Edition

"People are buying them for their offices, for presents and for themselves," she said. "We had a couple who bought a portrait of Medvedev and Putin together and the wife said, 'It's for our bedroom.' "

And since you had no picture of him in this edition of O&E...

WBUR & NPR's On Point : Russia, Riches, and the Law
Aired: Thursday, July 24, 2008 10-11AM ET

By host Tom Ashbrook

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia. Multi-billionaire. Oil-rich oligarch. No saint, but no worse a sinner, maybe, than many other Russian oligarchs.

Then he crossed Vladimir Putin. Ended up in a cage, on trial, and then in a prison in Siberia. Gilded life -- gone.

Now, an American attorney is fighting to free Khodorkovsky. He says it's Russia on trial here -- and whether or not a now oil-rich Kremlin believes in the rule of law.

His story is a legal thriller where losers end up in Siberia, or dead. And the answers ripple well beyond Russia.

This hour, On Point: Russia, riches, and the law.

Awesome writing. eXile needs to get a clue and start reading ET.

Cynicism is intellectual treason.

by marco on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 02:06:26 AM EST
This was important for me to read.  I had assumed that the Nashi were xenophobic and racist.  Clearly, I was very much mistaken:

Racism hardly arrived in Russia with Nashi.  Though I am sure that there are racists in Nashi.  From what I can gather, it seems that Nashi's been conflated with and a magnet for other, smaller, more extreme youth movements, including skinheads, etc.  And frankly, given their name, I mean, I just can't possibly imagine why anyone would ever accuse Nashi of being exclusionist...  

("Nashi"="Ours")

Awesome writing. eXile needs to get a clue and start reading ET.

Haha.  Please feel free to drop them a line!!  ;)


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 11:24:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, thanks for the pic of Misha.  :)

Also, speaking of facebook... I had a nightmare featuring facebook!  I dreamt that it just got completely out of control, and everyone's friends automatically were linked to everyone else's friends, ad infinitum, and the government or some mysterious everything-controlling organization had the ability to compile and automatically distribute information about everyone to everyone else, and where ever you went there was information posted on everyone in the room, etc.  Like, you'd go to work and there would be a huge screen on the wall listing everyone's birthdays, upcoming events, facebook status.  You'd get on a train - same thing.  I'd watched the movie, 1984 a few weeks ago, and I think some anxiety from that coupled with my anxiety about facebook created this scary scenario in my dream, which, upon awakening, seems entirely plausible, if not already a reality!  I want to go back to having bad dreams about goblins and other things that go away when you wake up.  Sheesh!


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 12:39:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"Cossackia?"  Where the hell is "Cossackia!?"  And don't give me that cock and bull about "Cossackia cannot be understood with the mind, nor its land measured by the acre. It is a special case. You can only believe in Cossackia."

Americans and Nazis thought that if there was an Cossack SS unit on the Nazi side, there must be an opressed Cossackia. Simular for Idel-Ural, it's coming from Nazi designs.


"I feel like as a patriot I should do my bit in contributing to the improvement of Russia," the U.S.-born son of Soviet immigrants said from his suburban Chicago home.

Might be that American exceptionalism is getting tired. Or most likely is that Moscow is more interesting place than Chicago suburbia.

Slightly related, I saw an article (in Russian) yesterday that 82% of Russian  jews in Israel think that Israelis do not see them as Israelis but as Russians; 25% think they were discriminated for being Russian, 51% of their kids in school were discriminated against and 31% of kids were physically assaulted by non-Russian kids.

On emigration topic, remember this from Medvedev G8 interview:


MICHAEL LUDWIG: Mr President, a few days ago we read in a survey that among the young middle class elite that you want to develop up to 60 percent, that is the majority of this elite is contemplating emigrating from Russia. They are the future, the professionals, people who have been fortunate in life, and yet most of them are nonetheless considering emigration. What can you do so as to not to lose this generation?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: To be honest, I do not know what survey you are talking about.

Before G8 the theme of 60% of Russian elite wanting to emigrate appeared in inosmi.ru translations of Polish and UK press.

Levada Center published an explanation that they were conducting a poll among upper middle class (Levada Center estimates 2-3% of population) 6% are thinking about "leaving a country at least for some time" and 15% think "often" about leaving. The way question was worded, it could be understood as a tourist/business trip.

WCIOM had a similar poll among general public, and 35% wanted to travel abroad, 9% to work, 4% - to study. 8% wanted to emigrate. 50% did not want to leave Russia at all.


V-Dawg.  Looking particularly Original Gangsta today...

Did you hear his latest doctor joke that cost Mechel 7.5 bln $ in market capitalization (50% on the Russian stock exchange)?


 

by blackhawk on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 02:34:50 AM EST
His efficiency is over-rated - 2/3 of losses were corrected the next day.
by Sargon on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 07:13:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Before G8 the theme of 60% of Russian elite wanting to emigrate appeared in inosmi.ru translations of Polish and UK press.

Operative words being "Polish and UK press", probably.  

Did you hear his latest doctor joke that cost Mechel 7.5 bln $ in market capitalization...

Hahaha.  Oh yes, he gave them quite a little bit of a lashing.  People are already comparing Mechel to Yukos...  I'm not really interested in these business affairs, but genuinely enjoy Putin's thuggish sense of humour.  


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 11:40:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hippies are more fun than TLutherans. It's Fridayn night, I'm drunk, beat, and having working 6 0 hours this week. Contrary to popular belieft, most of use mericans dont work that many hours

I hope this comment doesn;t ruin my reputation on this site as as eserious intellectual.

Three more beers and I;ll be speaking the fbrench.

Also, if yo ucan get your nhands on beer from north coast brwery, do so. damn fine stuff.

I'd do a shot of vodka to memorialize of our nBA benchwarmers heading to mother Russia, buit I don't have any.



you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 04:06:28 AM EST
...I'll be your Remora.

To be completed by someone cleverer and more twisted than I, then sung to tune of some jazz-age standard such as "Come away with me, Lucile, in my merry Oldmobile."

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 02:04:57 PM EST
If your Remora if could be,
we'd glide together, swimmingly,
all in some palméd tropic bay,
if you but were my Manta Ray.

(runs)

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 09:06:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was chased to shore by a sting ray when I was a little girl, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.  Also, my greatest fear is drowning.  I'd rather be eaten alive by wolves than drown.  I can't really think of anything more terrifying.  Also, I am a Virgo, an earth sign.  (Bring it on, J!)  So, as much as the idea having a school of cleanerfish following me around and keeping me beautiful is intriguing, I am afraid I cannot be anyone's Manta Ray.

Also.  I am NOT a bottom feeder!  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 11:44:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The struggle to resist the sureness of death would be the same for drowning as for wolves. The actual process of death though, is much faster in drowning - so I understand. The first lungful underwater causes no coughing or choking, but a gentle descent into suspended animation and, soon, blackness.

Being ripped to shreds by wolves over a period of several minutes after the acceptance of the sureness of death, holds far less attraction. ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 12:19:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd easily prefer acute prolonged pain over lungs filling with water.  It's a phobia.  It's not meant to be rational.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 12:43:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and not a choice either, when the time comes ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 03:22:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<Thought Police notes proposal for suspect #38020083455's final re-education programme in Room 101>

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 04:39:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Manta Rays are gentle filter feeders, who strain yummy plankton from the salty briny deep. They are not slimy gross indiscriminant bottom feeders, like your flounders,  and lobsters. They also tolerate free riders, like Remora, who apparently they do ow harm particularly to their hosts, but I would not have one for dinner (well, not as a guest).
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 09:21:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"In the interests of safety they didn't come out to work -- the people are scared by the invasion of bears," the spokesman said.

A bear killed two geologists at the worksite on July 18, officials said.

The one and only Soviet horror-adventure-action film I saw (and it was a good one) was about a hunt for a man-eating bear in Siberia. (Featuring: endless forests, endless tundra, endless swamps.) Where the final twist was that the man-eating bear was so hard to track because it was two man-eating bears.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 03:35:34 PM EST
They're only eating humans because they don't have enough fish, probably because of global warming.  I would probably be eaten alive by a bear if I were to encounter one.  Because I don't think they are scary at all.  I think they're cute, precious.  Even the big ones.  I think I could befriend a bear.  

I really hate it when they put them on a leash and make them dance for money.  Have they outlawed that yet?  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 11:49:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's usually called journalism.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 12:47:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Being eaten alive by a bear would be no fun. They look cute and cuddly, but they are very scary, even the black bears. I'd rather be eaten by a grizzly, because you'd be dead much quicker. I am a little afraid of bears, and so are most people who work in the bush. Think of them as curious, short sighted tigers who startle easily, are always hungry, and are not really afraid of anything. Non-stripy,  humpy tigers, who not very graceful, but can  run much faster than you.
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 03:38:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm surprised bears don't kill more people than they do: when we were in the Rockies for a week a few years ago (actually, lots of years ago, yikes!) I saw at least three instances of people doing things so stupid that I'm surprised they survived - like approaching the bear cub by the side of the road so they could take pictures of their kid with it  (where's Mommy Bear???) or chasing a black bear around with a video camera at short range. At least I had a 500mm and was pretty far away.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 03:45:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Met a geologist who was part of an anual research project mapping the rocks of some parts of Canada. One of their crew had woken one morning to find a Bear chewing on his Legs through his sleeping bag

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 03:58:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
people raised on shchi and kotlety.

As part of my college (mis?)education I learned a little ditty: shchi da kasha, pischa nasha  "Kotlety" seems like a big step up.  Do you know the context of the little ditty I learned?

Wonderful diary, BTW.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 03:48:49 PM EST
Standard meatless fare of peasants all over the word, nothing more, nothing less.
by Sargon on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 04:37:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was wondering if it was something specific to the civil war period or what.  Our text books were published by the Soviet Union, but I think the ditty might have come from the instructor, but I can't remember.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 07:19:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's much earlier than the Civil War
by Sargon on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 04:51:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Kotlety" seems like a big step up.

I don't know.  At least you know what's in the shchi and kasha.  FWIW, I love cabbage soup, so I don't judge anyone for their "peasant" food.  And I think I'd have to have a bowl of borscht if I could choose my last meal.  In fact, I could live off the stuff.  I was recently talking to a friend of mine who is in cooking school, who was lamenting the popular attitude towards beets in in this country...   But mystery meat cutlets freak me out!  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 12:00:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...odds & ends that might interest you. So yesterday I was at the get-together at my sisters' where they showed pictures of their Moscow visit and told stories.

That about the concrete buildings proved a mis-communication, of course. But my sister, her boyfriend and their little child, as well as their host, and a couple of visiting relatives all fit into one 60 m² apartment of one concrete apartment block. At that get-together, there was allegedly a toast every two minutes, ending in scenes reminding of 4...

On politics, they say everyone said that the government is hard at work to build the New Russia image, and that as part of it, there is an effort to remove old Soviet and communist symbols where they aren't historically protected. The closure of Lenin's mausoleum is allegedly a decided matter (on which they confirm what I heard elsewhere, that most locals think the display of Lenin's mummy is something silly). They also listened to rants to the tune that Lenin & the communists have ruined Russia (uhm, was what was there before really that good? Not to mention the ruin by the Nazis?)

Moscow is said to be very expensive, but while they confirmed that for real estate (that 60m² concrete block apartment was worth more than a 200m² house in a posh district here), they say everything else was much cheaper than in Budapest, except for a trendy café with bad service. Speaking of public places, they say there was music from megaphones from the shopping streets to through the apartment blocks to the village in which a relative had a dacha. (I knew this madness from Czechoslovakia, where it is going out of fashion since.)

They photographed all kinds of public transport for me, praising the inside of the new Elektrichka; but just to the airport, they thought a taxi is more convenient with a child than the airport train links.

And this will surely make you happy: back to the airport, the taxi driver asked them: "Why do you go back to the EU? The EU is finished. But here we have a boom, there are lots of unexploited opportunities!"

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 06:40:22 AM EST
But my sister, her boyfriend and their little child, as well as their host, and a couple of visiting relatives all fit into one 60 m² apartment of one concrete apartment block. At that get-together, there was allegedly a toast every two minutes, ending in scenes reminding of 4...

I'd taken this to be a pretty widespread phenomenon, as I've experienced is countless times both in Russia and here in Chicago, among Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Moldovans...  You mean this completely mad tradition doesn't extend to Hungary?   I'm surprised.  They say it's a result of Communism, where people holed up in their small communal apt kitchens to let loose, discuss life, etc.  But there are similar scenes in 19th Cent. literature, so I don't know what is the origin of this type of soiree.  Endless toasts, fire-code violations, and something almost but not exactly like a hostage situation (getting up and leaving in the middle of it is simply unheard of!) seem to be the defining characteristics of these events.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 12:17:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean this completely mad tradition doesn't extend to Hungary?

What comes closest to it starts with "...but don't leave before you tried our homebrewn pálinka...", where you have to know that home-made pálinka is said to be about the fastest way to ruin by alcoholism (worse than vodka). Toasts are involved, but may not be necessary. But this tradition survives most strongly not in Hungary but among the Szeklers (a subgroup of ethnic Hungarians in Transsylvania). Being an abstainer myself, on the rare occasions I meet upon the tradition, I do manage to escape these downward spirals, though :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 04:34:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I experienced that once. In 2002, I was invited as a speaker in a conference organised by the Privolzhsky Federal District in Nizhny Novgorod. It started at the end of the conference by a toast-session around a huge table with a few things to eat and a lot to drink. Each one of the 40 conference participants had to make a toast (and it was impossible to fake drinking...). I waited until the twentieth to make my speech (so I was sure everybody was still able to listen, but dizzy enough not to remember what I would say) and I made a very sentimental speech about our common culture (quoting Dostoevsky and Bulgakov) and about our common destiny... It was a great success!

It ended very late in a tiny office inside the beautiful Nizhny Novgorod's Kremlin after many more toasts with a group of totally drunk collaborators of Serguei Kirienko (Putin's representative in the Volga Federal District)...

That's my only experience of Russia so far, and it's a very surrealistic and good memory...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Aug 7th, 2008 at 04:37:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great story!  Very common "real" Russian experience.  Bonus points for getting drunk with Sergei Kirienko's men.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Aug 7th, 2008 at 04:50:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]

On politics, they say everyone said that the government is hard at work to build the New Russia image, and that as part of it, there is an effort to remove old Soviet and communist symbols where they aren't historically protected. The closure of Lenin's mausoleum is allegedly a decided matter (on which they confirm what I heard elsewhere, that most locals think the display of Lenin's mummy is something silly). They also listened to rants to the tune that Lenin & the communists have ruined Russia (uhm, was what was there before really that good? Not to mention the ruin by the Nazis?)

Must be just that people they were talking to were anti-communists. There may be too many streets and monuments dedicated to revolutionaries, but attempting to rewrite history 90 years after the fact or to re-fight a virtual civil war is a bit stupid.

Orthodox church made a few noises recently about communism (I understand that this must be coming from the Foreign Russian Orthodox church which formally reunited with Russian Orthodox) and general tone of the blog/media comments was that church is risking followers if it is to push for anti-communist campaign: for one, the church is overstepping boundaries by talking politics, and secondly, communists left the church and religion alone, and church should do the same for the communists.  

by blackhawk on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 12:51:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Talking about "official":

Russian MFA Information and Press Department Commentary in Connection with the Signing by the US President of the Proclamation on Captive Nations Week, 2008


Last week US President George Bush signed a regular proclamation on the theme of "captive nations," with which he annually comes up on the basis of a law adopted way back in the Cold War era. Well, it's business as usual, but this time around one "novelty" has appeared: quite unambiguously the equal sign is put between Nazi fascism and Soviet communism, which are now coupled as a "single evil" of the 20th century.

By the way, one cannot but see that such assessments simply feed the efforts of those, who for political and selfish ends are striving to falsify the facts and rewrite history. All this takes place against the backdrop of the surprising tolerance being shown in the United States toward those who in a number of European countries are trying to whitewash "their own" Nazi accomplices.

by blackhawk on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 12:55:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At what point did Nazism and the Soviet Union/Communism become interchangeable evils?  

I remember being taught that both were baaaad growing up, but there seems to be a recent concerted effort to link the two indelibly.  Which seems a bit rich to me.  And kinda weird since, you know, the Soviet Union is now defunct and it seems the time has passed for propaganda and demonization.  Seems like this would be the time to begin to look back and try to understand what happened, why it happened, what can be learned from it.  Also, it seems pointedly aimed at Russia, solely Russia (not countries in which some people collaborated with Russia, not places like Ukraine, not Communist countries that, uhm, still exist, etc.) and at all of Russia, as if it were some monolithic entity collectively responsible for everything that happened.  Also, and this is probably what gets me the most, Nazism required human rights violations, atrocities.  The extermination of ethnic peoples was part and parcel of the ideology.  Atrocities were committed in the name of Communism (as we've also seen them committed in the name of Democracy and Christianity and so on) but were not exactly the cornerstone of the ideology.  I have to struggle to find anything redeeming whatsoever about Nazism (can't) but it's -to me- possible to understand and even appreciate the noble and humane sentiments inherent in Communism.  And even now, I repeatedly hear those who lived under Soviet regime lament the loss of some of aspects of life which seemed more humane than what has replaced it, without nec. calling for a return to those days.  This is so completely lost on Americans.  They hear "Communism" and think "pogroms, gulags, censorship."  Which are in fact things we should condemn.  But that's not exactly the whole story...  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 12:41:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The anti-Lenin ranters they mentioned were certainly anti-communists (whether religious or nationalist, I can't tell from what I heard second-hand; only that they weren't anti-Putin liberal intelligentsia), but they mentioned the programmatic removal of symbols as something coming up as observation in several discussions with strangers (in a café or on a boat or at a marketplace). (They might have been disapproving communists as well!)

communists left the church and religion alone

Do you mean after 1991, or after Stalin, or throughout?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 02:51:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but they mentioned the programmatic removal of symbols as something coming up as observation in several discussions with strangers

Attitude to the communists did not change much, and when did, became slightly more positive. Consensus is that Russians in XX century suffered more from the Nazis and Anglo-Saxon free marketeers than from the communists.

Say, in Levada poll the question "What October Revolution brought to the people of Russia", "new era in their history" was the opinion of 23% in 1990 and 30% in 2006, "gave impulse of social and economic development" gets 26%/28%, "slowed down their development" is at 18%/16% and "was a catastrophe" for 12%/10%.

communists left the church and religion alone

Do you mean after 1991, or after Stalin, or throughout?

State stopped attempts to eradicate church in 30ies, more or less official truce started in 41 and after the war church was left alone in "don't ask don't tell" style.

by blackhawk on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 03:22:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
About the poll results, thanks, interesting! However, here the question is not what the people think, but what the authorities think who (at least allegedly) pursue that policy.

About the latter, OK that way. I add that Khrushchev also conducted an anti-Church campaign, where the irony is that he is buried at Novodevichy Monastery (which my sister also visited).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 05:05:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have not heard of any such policy at the federal level, locally there may be under the radar street renamings and removals of monuments to Lenin.

Authorities do not want to deal with demonstrations of the  elderly and leftist youth and pick up a fight with communists, the largest opposition party, so I would not expect anything that could be considered as symbolic or be too visible: this kind of political capital can be spent on something more tangible. In particular, this means that Lenin is going to stay in mausoleum.

by blackhawk on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 05:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... authorities think who (at least allegedly) pursue that policy.

I've not heard this before.  What I have heard is much moaning about Putin's attempt to integrate symbolism, etc, from the "bad old days" into contemporary Russian national identity (lots of brouhaha regarding the national anthem and textbooks, which are "official...")   So I wonder, if these anecdotes are correct, if we're seeing the beginnings of Medvedev's great Westernization of Liberalization of Russia, as so many have prayed for.  Lol.  Sometimes I can't tell if he's meant to be Putin's puppet or the next Peter the Great!  I'm deeply suspect of either claim...

About the latter, OK that way. I add that Khrushchev also conducted an anti-Church campaign, where the irony is that he is buried at Novodevichy Monastery (which my sister also visited).

So I had to do a bit of research to know what you were talking about.  It seems he did in fact do this toward the end of his regime.  But wasn't he primarily known for his "thaw", which relaxed some of the official repression, censorship, etc?  I believe (though I cannot remember the title) there was even an openly Christian Soviet film made during the time.  It was banned, but shown originally.  I might be wrong.  Also, I've been reading these "memoirs" of Limonov, and he talks about some friends of his who were religious when he was a kid (under Krushchev.)  They didn't seem to be in any official danger for being so, just considered backwards and weird by a lot of people.  

BTW, did your sister like Novodevichy?  I think it is one of the most serene and beautiful spots in Moscow.  A good place to go to clear your mind.  If cemeteries don't freak you out.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 12:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nash pride ia nazi pride or Nash and Panfilov (great researchers) pride or Nashi the bear pride.....

Other than that the shag area has always been a wonderful idea....

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 10:16:25 AM EST
Oh dear.  It´s a bit embarrassing when some ill-considered comments get the headline treatment.  Well at least the name calling provoked a little humour and thought!  Sorry I can´t contribute more here, but I´m in Spain enjoying some rays!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 02:27:33 PM EST
Nothing's off limits here...  :)  
Thanks for the material & enjoy your holiday!

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 02:35:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks everyone for your comments (high-quality, too!) and recommends (even Ben Disraeli arose from the dead to recommend, amazing!)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 05:49:45 PM EST
Nashi summer camp looks like fun. Check out those pictures:


by blackhawk on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 07:05:24 PM EST
What's up with that Nazi officer with the blacked-out swastika on the placard? What's written above his head?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 02:57:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The sentence reads "The soul of the Estonian president Toomas Hendrick Ilves is stolen by the evil spirit of Uru-ru". My guess is that "Nashi" are not happy that they were blacklisted from the entry to the EU by Estonia.
by blackhawk on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 03:30:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lol!  Well, they look like they're hving fun, anyway.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Jul 29th, 2008 at 12:11:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Weird.  How did this get back on the rec list?  It's like the zombie diary, arisen from the dead.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Aug 7th, 2008 at 02:27:00 PM EST
Well, I'm happy about that, because I had missed it.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Thu Aug 7th, 2008 at 04:40:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How is that even possible?!  Everyone should have my page bookmarked!

We'll let it pass this time.  I may not be so forgiving in the future.  ;)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Aug 7th, 2008 at 04:53:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have an excuse: I was in Ireland with no internet connection!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Thu Aug 7th, 2008 at 05:07:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They don't have Internet connections in Ireland?  Well, that explains the Lisbon vote...

</snark>

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Aug 7th, 2008 at 05:11:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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