Rating the Russia Watchers

Uncle Volodya says, "When it's not too busy at the Kremlin, I like to kick back with a Kefir Latte and A Good Treaty"

A little while ago, Anatoly Karlin of Sublime Oblivion did an impromptu update of current Russia blogs for the month of October, rating them in order based on perceived appeal and relevance. The Kremlin Stooge came third, and I mentioned at the time that it was a tremendous honour. So it is; however, I failed to notice at the time that Anatoly had ranked us (with typical modesty) above himself. In fact, Sublime Oblivion is a superior blog to this one in every respect except humour (I like to think we’re a little funnier – by “we” I mean Kovane and I, since he’s a fairly regular post contributor, and you, the readers), and Anatoly himself has academic chops I’ll never have. He appears to write his own research, while I just read and cite the research of others.

Anyway, Anatoly has his own ranking system, and I don’t know any of the details, but it appears to be simply opinion. I mean, he can’t know anything about each blog’s daily traffic or that sort of parameter. So he seems to make his selections based on what he likes and finds either diverting or informative.

I thought it might be fun to get in on the ratings game myself – but I’m going to be a little more scientific, so put on your thick industrial-frame glasses and get out your clipboard. WordPress (here’s a free plug for you, WordPress), as well as being extremely easy to use, has a feature (Summary Tables) whereby you can view which blogs visitors went to from yours by the day, week, year or all-time, using it as a sort of springboard from your blogroll. Referring to that and using “all time” (since I started in July this year), I can see who got the most visits from readers here.

For several reasons, it’s a limited study; there are probably lots of great Russia blogs that didn’t get a position because they’re not on my blogroll. That’s a big reason for this post – to see what I’m missing, solicit recommendations for additions to the blogroll and to see who else I should be reading. Also, the hate blog La Russophobe will appear disproportionately high in the ratings, because it is often the reference for posts on this blog, which directs readers to it by link. It’s therefore not a very good reflection of how popular it is. Most of the other clicks, though, seem to be driven purely by reader interest. I can’t rank this blog, because as the host, it doesn’t appear on the list. Let’s see how they shook out.

1. A Good Treaty – This mirrors Anatoly’s top ranking, and came in at 149 clicks; the clear leader. AGT is a smart, witty and provocative blog whose author has a graduate degree in Soviet History and has lived in Moscow. He works in the research community in Washington, DC. Topics are driven mostly by the news cycle, with occasional composite pieces and features from other than Russia – such as what a terminally stunned buffoon Mitt Romney is, or international reaction to the latest START treaty. Punchy, aggressive writing that should strike terror into the hearts of fools and pretenders everywhere, regardless their nationality.

2. The Ivanov Report – Coming in at 113 clicks, Eugene Ivanov’s “The Ivanov Report” is a classy site with an experienced, objective author. Unless you went to the “About” section, you probably could never divine from reading the content that Eugene has a PhD in Genetics, and is a Republican. I mention that last because the Republicans are such twisted wrecks this year, with barking-mad loonies like Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle making the party look like a class reunion at an insane asylum. By way of contrast, Eugene is thoughtful, introspective and a natural writer. An Estonian by birth, he has lived and worked in Russia, France and the USA. Eugene is a politics junkie, and his analysis of various topics reflects his sharp, restless mind as well as his old-world courtesy.

Addendum: Eugene has requested the following clarification. “I’m an ethnic Russian (to be more precise, a half-Ukrainian) born to Russian/Ukrainian parents in Tallinn, Estonia (back then, still part of the Soviet Union). I left Tallinn to study in St. Pete, but Tallinn is still one of my favorite cities in the world.”



Russia is Barbaric and Stupid

3. La Russophobe – A russophobic hate site presided over by a dazed, narrow-minded lunatic who never has anything good to say about Russia, often picking on the most childish and irrelevant topics. LR despises Russians, except for the liberal opposition figures who trip over each other to see who can act more American – which is the Gold Standard for LR. Irredeemably poncy beefcake coverboy Boris Nemtsov (whom I must admit does look good for his age) is a perennial favourite, and his most confused meanderings are always good for a gushing, preorgasmic post. Other candidates for the LR wall of fame are Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Garry Kasparov, Boris Berezovsky and Oleg Kozlovsky. However, there’s always room for anyone who has something nasty to say about Russia, whether or not they know anything about it. Obviously a keen follower of the news, judging from the quick notification of current happenings, the site nonetheless is so hopelessly slanted in its views that it is not a reliable source of what is happening in Russia despite its boastful claims. As I mentioned, the site ranks fairly high at 108 clicks because of direct links to it as a reference.

4. Sublime Oblivion – In any objective rating, this blog’s coming in behind La Russophobe (at 72 clicks) would be a bit like a Ferrari Testarossa coming in behind an AMC Pacer. A personal favourite, this is a hip, full-tilt-boogie site whose author’s mind seems to charge ahead almost faster than he can commit the material to type.  Among the Russia blogs, this one is the most unafraid to live in the future, and make bold predictions based on patterns that few others discern. Anatoly is interested in everything that goes on in the world (except maybe for stupid fluff like Hollywood and entertainers), including politics, but frequently moves far beyond the political. Military strategies, scientific advances, trends and demographics, economics, the environment – there’s plenty here to keep you busy and intrigued. Anatoly is a Russian who has lived in Russia, England and the USA, and has been described (by himself) as “a rootless cosmopolitan”. Clever, edgy and always over the line, this is a great blog.

5. The Moscow Diaries – Julia Ioffe’s blog, which – as Sublime Oblivion pointed out – appears to be secondary to her other journalistic efforts. Julia is a professional journalist who usually writes like one; her wide-ranging and excellent vocabulary allows her to get her point across in a manner she tailors to the subject – witty, dispassionate, serious or playful as the subject dictates. Russian-born, she is bilingual beyond mere fluency. Julia was way out in front of the pack on the issue of Yury Luzkhov’s recent firing as Mayor of Moscow, agitating for just that and predicting it when the general analysis by everyone else was, “Yeah….that’ll happen. Not.” I find her writing, while excellent in quality, a little gratuitously contemptuous of Russia’s leadership; there doesn’t seem to be anyone she likes, and it sometimes skates right up to the edge of russophobia. Very attractive, judging from her picture. That probably shouldn’t matter, and it doesn’t where her writing is concerned. I just like attractive women. She got 70 clicks.

6. Austere Insomniac – Author Leos Tomicek, as far as I can make out, is a multilingual Czech with wide-ranging interests in religion, politics and feminism. The site has a vaguely brooding, moody atmosphere; while I wouldn’t want to suggest Leos is not the humorous type, there’s not much of the prankster in his writing, which sometimes smokes with hopeless fury. His research is often superior to any other I’ve seen, and I can’t begin to imagine the digging it must have taken for him to come up with some of his sources. I love this site, but frequently feel up against such a powerful intellect that I’m a little out of my depth. Leos often brushes the conventional aside with undisguised contempt, and his views on feminism likely raise some hackles. That said, his explanations are rational and thought-provoking. Coming in at 57 clicks, this is another excellent blog with an underground feel, and perhaps the most comprehensive blogroll in the genre.

7. The Power Vertical – A joint effort by Brian Whitmore and Robert Coalson, this blog is a semi-journalistic news site under the umbrella of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. I don’t really have a lot to go on, not being a long-term follower of this blog, but of the posts I’ve read so far I find the authors distinctly different. Both appear well-educated, well-read and articulate writers. However, Brian Whitmore’s material appears the more pragmatic and realistic, while Robert Coalson often comes across as gratuitously sarcastic. You’d think sarcastic bastards such as I would appreciate it in others, but I don’t. Coalson’s material is frequently russophobic, granting none of the slack to President Medvedev’s and Prime Minister Putin’s efforts toward improvement that western politicians get and instead keeping up a monotone of failure and despair, with a soupcon of mockery. He might have upbeat, optimistic articles, but I haven’t seen any. Nonetheless a really good barometer of current events in Russia, it got 42 clicks, which is good considering it’s a fairly-recent addition to my blogroll.

8. Poemless – This blog, in a tie at 41 clicks, is authored by a Chicago librarian. I wasn’t able to find where she learned Russian, which she appears to speak and read fluently. I’d like to see it updated more often, but to be fair, her posts are generally longer and more involved than mine, and are probably more work. Poemless appears very intellectual, but cuts through bullshit like a Husqvarna chainsaw. She’s an admirer of Putin, but that doesn’t prevent her from being critical of Russian policies when they are counterproductive or ineffective. A sometimes ethereal read, it appears to pursue whatever subject spontaneously interests its author. However, she seems acutely aware of current events in Russia, whether writing about them or not. Also another wicked blogroll. Highly recommended.

8. Sean’s Russia Blog – This blog is authored by Sean Guillory, a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Northern Illinois University. It staggered a bit for awhile, probably due to Sean’s being too busy with his move, and that was about the time I came on the scene, so it appeared to me to be a dead blog. Happily, that’s not the case. Sean is a blogger of long standing, and has instant street cred from having written for The eXile. This blog is critical of Russian policy when it merits it, but equally irreverent in dismissing uneducated twit russophobia. It’s still regaining momentum, but the prospects look excellent.

9. American Chronicle – This isn’t actually a blog at all, but a placeholder for independent foreign policy analyst and media critic Michael Averko. In another tie at 40 clicks, the site lists Mike’s articles for the American Chronicle, as well as referencing other pieces for such diverse publications as Counterpunch, The New York Times, Eurasia Review, Siberian Light and InoSMI. This ranking can probably be attributed to Mike’s frequent commenting on this site, including interesting and provocative hyperlinks. Mike appears to have gotten a few backs up with his confrontational style, but he is obviously very experienced and knowledgeable about the entire region. I find him an informed defender of Russia’s policies without being a pie-in-the-sky stooge (if you’ll forgive the term) for everything the Kremlin chooses to dish out. A realist above all, Mike’s cached articles on the subject site are recommended reading, and I use a good deal of his referenced material.

9. Russia: Other Points of View – A compendium of news stories from the blogosphere and the other half of the tie, this site features articles by various authors, including favourites Eugene Ivanov and Anatoly Karlin. The “Contributors” page also features many impressively-credentialed professionals ranging from a retired U.S. Army Colonel to Professors of Political Science. Dedicated to unspinning the mainstream news, this site is a great first stop when blog crawling, to sample the subjects of the day.

10. Birdbrain – Tenth at 34 clicks, Natalie’s (I did know her last name, but I forget right now, and since I don’t see it obviously published on her site, perhaps she’d rather it remain unknown) blog is an eclectic mix of Russian poets and poetry, politics, news and regional issues. The chosen title, rather than an insult, actually refers to how efficient birds’ brains are for their size. I added Natalie to my blogroll after seeing her come in for a truckload of hate as a commenter at La Russophobe, and I’ve never been sorry. Currently a foreign student at Oxford University, England, Natalie provides interesting and often unconventional commentary. Although our politics are greatly different, I’m a fan.

As I mentioned at the outset, there are lots of great blogs that aren’t featured because I don’t currently have them on my blogroll, they were such recent additions that they didn’t rate high enough, or I don’t even know of them yet. Some that deserve honourable mention are;

The Russia Monitor – An excellent and authoritative source of information and discussion on Russian policy, government and lifestyle, Jesse Heath’s blog provides well-researched opinion and reliable analysis. Even if I did once confuse it with The Moscow Diaries and make a mildly insulting remark that I intended for Julia Ioffe (and to be fair to myself, it was a fairly ditzy post for Jesse), the two sites are nothing alike except for the obvious intellect of the authors.

Natalia Antonova – Even those who despise feminism and feminists would have a hard time arguing with the logic often expressed at Natlia’s blog, and as a writer her gift for imagery is difficult to describe. I loathe feminists who blame every man for the accumulated evils man has done to woman since forever, but this site is much more pragmatic than you-have-a-penis-so-you’re-a-woman-hating-disciple-of-Beelzebub. If you take the time to read about practices like “upskirting”, the fun little pastime of sneaking in close to snap a cellphone pic of a woman’s underwear – usually without her awareness and definitely without her permission – you’d probably want to kick that guy’s ass all the way down the escalator. Did you know that’s why almost all cellphone cameras now make a mandatory shutter sound? I didn’t.

Dissonance – Alexandre Latsa’s great blog probably gets far less attention that it deserves, because it’s mostly in French. Still, it brims with razor-sharp analysis of Russian politics and European issues, and some articles are in either English or Russian. As usual, the French don’t get no respect.

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130 Responses to Rating the Russia Watchers

  1. AJ says:

    I think the fact that “La Russophobe” is so visited and known is a sad testament to how socially acceptable it is to be racist against Russians. Its as if people somehow get an orgasmic rush when they rail against Russia and the Russian people, seriously. I know theyre not blogs, but what is your opinion on Pravda, and RussiaToday?

    • marknesop says:

      Sadly, you’re right. In certain circles, it’s just the price of admission to mock and denigrate Russia at every opportunity. Probably you noticed that in the case of just about any other country you care to name (except for Iran and a few others), the slightest finger-twitch toward reform is greeted with loud hails about glorious modernization, and its government is a beacon of liberty. Not so Russia, despite real advances made by Putin and Medvedev. Medvedev is genially derided for jet-setting around the world trying to make deals in which nobody is interested, when the former position was to snicker at Brezhnev and Kruschev because they rarely went beyond the borders of their own country, and Medvedev is only taking a modern, progressive approach to trade. Wages have risen steadily in Russia as interest rates declined, the middle class is expanding and Russia has the lowest debt in the G20 as well as a robust cash surplus. Anyone else in that position would be lauded as some kind of fiscal savant, considering what the government had to work with; but instead, Russia can’t seem to do anything right, and the strident, chattering liberasts get all the press attention.

      Before I get to bashing the USA, which is the center of the criticism (although some comes from Europe as well), it’s important to give the USA credit for forgiving Russia some of its debt when it went broke and defaulted, and the USA led the effort to float Russia fairly significant loans (through the IMF) – without which it might have collapsed. However, Russia paid every cent of that money back, with interest.

      Don’t overrate La Russophobe’s popularity, though. She has a habit of banning the dissenters who generate comment and inspire fresh thinking. For awhile there (as you can see if you wander through the archives) a Russian who called himself RTR, another named Dmitry and I argued against her foolish twaddle, and the comments ran into the 70’s and 80’s as her supporters piled on. Now only Dima remains, intermittently, and when he does show up the circle-jerk crowd of 3 or 4 diehards greet him with such enthusiasm it’s almost pathetic – in all but those cases, it’s rare for the comments to go over 10.

      I’m afraid I never read Pravda, so I couldn’t comment on it with any authority, although it was a symbol of a state-owned press to us way back when the Soviet Union was a feared but respected enemy. I’m told it has become somewhat of a tabloid since, although I couldn’t say. I like Russia Today, and used to turn to it regularly for information before I became interested in blogs and blogging, and just wanted to read the news. I don’t read it much any more, and I’d say some of the coverage is a bit slanted. However, media sources that simply report the news as it happens, impartially and without bias, and leave it to the viewer to form an opinion, are much more an ideal than a reality. News outlets now tailor their reports to suit their owners or sponsors, and talking heads who don’t toe the line find themselves out of a job – at least temporarily, until they rise from the grave at a rival outlet. More and more I turn to blogs for the news, and rarely trust anything I read unless another independent source corroborates it.

      • Misha says:

        Which is why it makes no sense to feed such tripe – especially when it has punked out of earnest discourse, as previously documented.

        Respectfully stated, the coverage doesn’t get improved by continuing the elitny imperfections.

        The coverage does get improved by giving credit where it’s due – and yes there’s a reasonably objective enough way to measure this.

  2. AJ says:

    You like both Putin and Medvedev? Putin just the other day announced his grandiose plans for “industrializing” Siberia and the Far East. This proves he is a goofball. Nobody wants to live there, its too far from Europe, its been tried before. Its being slowly invaded demographically by Chinese settlers anyway. The ethnic Russians dont stand a chance. Putin’s strange plan of industrializing and establishing a bigger Russian population in the Far East starting 2020 is going to be a huge waste of $, recources, and time. Its going to result in a sprawled, disorganized populace, and the Russian people are going to be isolated. The real question is why? For what? Canada has almost of its population in its South, and simply uses its North for its natural resources, why cant Russia do the same with its East? Why send millions of people to live there? Another case of Soviet-style central planning thats going to be a huge embarrassment and failure.

    • The “yellow peril” / Chinese invasion trope is a myth, and global warming is making the Far North and Russian Far East increasingly habitable.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, I’m an admirer of Vladimir Putin’s leadership style and personal charisma – I think he’s largely responsible for giving Russia back its national pride after having become a beggar when its economy collapsed. I like Medvedev as well; he’s realizing that running a large country is quite a bit more complicated than running a large company, but he seems to be learning the right lessons and he keeps on keeping on in spite of a steady stream of derision from the west. I personally wish him success.

      As far as Siberia and the Far East are concerned, obviously it’s incorrect that nobody wants to live there if it’s being invaded by Chinese settlers. In fact, the population is just over 40 million – tiny given the huge landmass, but by no means insignificant. Of them, the overwhelmingly dominant demographic is native Russian speakers, and the indigenous groups make up less than 10%. These are gradually being assimilated, not by the Chinese, but by the Russians. To my mind it would be ideal as an industrial base, because everybody wants heavy industry out of the cities except the people who work at the industries. The cost logistically of supplying the scratch towns that will grow up around the industry will be more than balanced by shortening up the transport routes for the raw materials (lots of mining potential in Siberia and the Far East, and now the materials will have to go only one way). As an old country saying has it, when you’re tying up sacks of potatoes, don’t ever take the sacks to the string. Perhaps China would be interested in a joint venture – China has an insatiable appetite for raw materials and a huge manufacturing base. Wasn’t Medvedev just in China? China is set to overtake the USA by 2027 as the world’s largest economy – who cares how far away they are from Europe when they have the world’s biggest economy barely a galushka’s toss away? Why so persistently negative, AJ? Come on, get with the spirit – the future’s so bright, they gotta wear shades!

      If you’re convinced Mr. Putin is a goofball, there’s always room for another liberal opposition group in Russia, and somebody with your obvious A-type personality would be just the man to lead it. Haven’t you ever wanted to be a big wheel; kick ass and take names? This could be your chance; it’s one thing to have strong opinions on how things ought to be run, and another to win enough support to make your ideas reality.

  3. Yalensis says:

    For Russia blogs, I used to read more, including several of the ones you mention above. I stopped reading Julia Ioffe after she utilized tragedy of Russian wildfires to bash Putin and Mongol-Tatars in her New Yorker article. I disagree with you that she is a good journalist, I think she is a clever hack who makes up “sources”, steals other peoples research, cherry-picks her facts to fit her bias, and intends to make her living eventually in russophobic think-tank. Hence I disdain her, despite her physical attractiveness. I like Natalie “Birdbrain”, I totally disagree with most of her conservative political opinions, but she is definitely a fresh young voice and obviously clever and honest young lady with a bright future as an intellectual. Nowadays, due to limited time, I mostly just limit myself to your blog and Anatoly’s. If Mark Adomanis were to return to the anglophone blogosphere, I would read him as well. Speaking of Adomanis, he is ruffling a lot of feathers over there on INOSMI (good for him!), and speaking of INOSMI, I am still a junky and read at least one piece daily, in order to masochistically torture myself with foreigners trashing of Russia. Aside from blogs, online news sources I like include ROSBALT, REGNUM, IZVESTIA, and a few others, based on the topic du jour. I haven’t read online PRAVDA in years; last time I checked, there were naked ladies on the front page: Lenin would be rolling over in his mausoleum!

    • marknesop says:

      I guess I should have been more specific regarding Julia Ioffe – I don’t care at all for her tactics, but she’s a good writer, technique-wise. Maybe being ahead of everyone on Luzhkov was just a lucky break, or perhaps it’ll turn out to have been her one shining moment, but she was right on one of the biggest stories of the year when the top of the blogs was wrong, and she didn’t fall into the russophobic groove of saying Luzhkov was a shit last week and then canonizing him as soon as he got the axe (the Power Vertical and La Russophobe spring to mind).

      Natalie and I are poles apart politically – in fact, she and AJ could be political soulmates; she has a “Free Geert Wilders” advert up on her blog – and she and I are on opposite sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She lists “Gates of Vienna” as one of her favourite blogs, while I got into a fairly strong disagreement on there regarding the death of American activist Rachel Corrie with someone who referred to her as “Saint Pancake” (she was run over by an Israeli bulldozer). Nonetheless, I like her freshness and the sense of rediscovering old concepts through her eyes, and you’re right that she comes across as very honest and direct. I also agree she has a bright future as an intellectual.

      Thanks for making time to read and comment here; I’ve grown to look forward to your informed opinions!

  4. AJ says:

    I dont know mujch about this Natalie, but why the hate on Geert Wilders? Do you really think it will be a positive thing for Russia and Europe to turn majority-Muslim? I read Gates of Vienna, and Jihad Watch, its very informative. Geert Wilders is great, I wish there were politicians like him in Russia! Moscow is more European than Berlin, London, and Paris, at 85-90% ethnically Russian, yet the Muslim minority commits a huge amount against Russians, and enslave Russian women. Over 2/3 of the worlds sex slaves/ forced prostitutes come from Russia and Ukraine. That is ridiculous, doesnt white slavery make you sad? Why should Russia allow itself to be terrorized, exploited and raped by Muslims? I hope Putin’s pro-natalist efforts succeed and help ethnic Russians have more kids. Also, Russia should legalize marijuana like Netherlands and (soon) California. Its a waste of a nations time and money to lock people up for a soft drug. China is a racist, yellow supremacist country. Asians are not going to be happy about the far East being demographically European-dominated. Russia has a huge illegal immigration problem, mainly Musim central Asians from former Soviet republiks, and Russia is so weak it cant even control its own borders. Russia should introduce prison sentence for illegals, and the Death Penalty for second offense, because they need to show example, and to stop disrespect of Russia’s territorial integrity. Vladivostok and Siberia are slowly depopulating ethnic Russians, nobody wants to live there, its horrible and next to evil Asian racists.

    • Muslims aren’t going to become anything close to a European majority for the foreseeable future. Read less Mark Steyn.

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t hate Geert Wilders; I just think he’s wrong. AJ, you’ve really got to talk to someone about this “majority Muslim” thing. Russia is in absolutely no danger of becoming majority Muslim. I just told you that yesterday, and supplied a substantiating link. I agree a great many of the world’s enslaved prostitutes come from Russia and Ukraine, many responding to unscrupulous ads that lead them to believe they’ll be working in the tourist business or on a cruise ship. But I’ve seen no evidence that suggests even half are the victims of Muslims, and I’d bet you haven’t, either.

      It’s true Vladivostok has declined in population by about 55,000 people since 1989, but the ethnic composition is simply returning to what it was before it became a closed city in 1958. Most of the Chinese population was forced out at that time, and only began to return in substantial numbers following the lifting of restrictions in 1991.

      The west coast of Canada probably has more Chinese than any other place in Canada, and I’ve never seen one yet who was yellow; many are whiter than I am. The Chinese generally are not so much racist as they are convinced of their own genetic superiority, owing to the ancient nature of their culture. This makes them a little smug, and sometimes makes the old folks argue against marrying outside their race, but overall I’d say they were less intolerant of others than many races. Who has more to fear from being roughed up by youth gangs – a Russian visiting China, or a Chinese visiting Russia? Most Chinese who study here at UBC now return home after completing their education where once they would have tried to stay, owing to ever-increasing economic opportunity in China.

      I hope Putin’s policies encourage getting the birth rate up and keeping it moving in the right direction, too. However, the divorce rate is still too high, so either some work has to be done on that, or more support must be provided to single mothers to help them raise their children.

    • carpenter117 says:

      Hey, you, emigre, “Soviet-born-Canadian”, “I-hate-blacks-asians-arabs-and-racists”, White Power Fan and Duetchland/Ethnically Pure EU Uber Alles supporter! Yes, you AJ. “Soviet-born-Actuall-Russian” is here. Stop theese stupid rants already, okay? It looks like you have no actuall up to date knowledge of what is going on here, in Russia. The last thing we need, actually, is an advise from some foreinger whose head is as empty as eunuch’s underpants.
      Sheesh, I’m astonished, really! And thought that my english was horrible…

      • marknesop says:

        Empty as a eunuch’s underpants. Damn, that’s funny. Hey, Carpenter – are you ready to make your writing debut? If you have a subject you’d like to write about, I’ll help you with the English, or Kovane could give you a hand.

        • Yalensis says:

          Yeah, that WAS a good one-liner, carp! Уважуха.
          After reading AJ’s rant about muslims and white slavery, I would now like to retract my kind words about Natalie “Birdbrain”, if she is indeed in the intellectual camp of this primitive mode of thought. Also didn’t know about the Rachel Corrie thing, thanks for clarying that, Mark I didn’t realize… I’m pro-Palestinian myself. Not a fan of Islam, but I already explained my reasons for that (religion vs science, yada yada), and it has nothing to do with AJ’s type of ideology.

          • marknesop says:

            I don’t know that Natalie honestly supports any of those causes; just that she has a promo for Geert Wilders on her site, and that some of her favorites are strongly pro-Greater-Israel, such as Gates of Vienna and Daniel Pipes. That is most certainly her privilege, and it would be wrong to condemn anyone for the type of information they choose to read, wouldn’t it? I suppose what happened on Gates of Vienna could have been a coincidence, but at a certain point in the disagreement, I started to get errors that prevented me from posting any further comments which – whether coincidence or not – looked a lot like a block. The moderator allowed that I was probably sincere, but that I was just not getting the right information – although the links I posted were from eyewitnesses who saw what happened. Of course, since they were Palestinian sympathizers and activists (two Brits, one American), they were lying. All witnesses agreed the driver of the bulldozer could not have avoided seeing her. Gates of Vienna featured a former construction worker who was supposedly an expert in that model of tractor, who said she must have been behind it and “got a bump” and later fell down dead, that such injuries were common, or somehow fell and got dragged under it as it was backing up and the driver couldn’t see her. Photos from immediately after the accident show her on the ground in front of the bulldozer, which is also in the photo, and the path the machine took both going forward and back. But there was no reasoning with them. Never happened that way, they said. The moderator did admonish the poster who referred to Ms. Corrie as “Saint Pancake”, and deleted his comment – deleting mine as well, since the epithet was mentioned in my rebuttal.

            The driver of the bulldozer, by coincidence, was a Russian immigrant. Anyway, there’s no use rehashing that whole matter now; there’s plenty of evidence on the internet. Nobody in the Middle East conflict is guiltless, and the Palestinians have killed a fair number of innocent Israelis as well. But Israel has all the power and money on its side, and continues to seize more Palestinian land every day for Jewish settlements. They could compromise, but see no reason to as the rest of the world won’t hold them to account.

            I don’t hold any of that against Natalie. Only dull people are not idealists, and people have their own reasons for believing what they believe. She’s extremely bright, and therefore interesting. Besides, I can remember being a fervent defender and admirer of Israel myself at one time, before I really knew anything about what I was saying. i don’t pretend to know everything now. Things change.

          • Re-Israel. To quote a netbuddy who preserved my own Facebook quote for posterity:

            On the Middle East debate. I see that Israel has genuine security dilemmas, a traumatic historical experience, but generally tries to be a constructive actor since solving this issue is ultimately very much in its own interests. (It is also far better to live in than any of its Arab neighbors). On the other hand, the Palestinians too are caught between a rock and a hard place and their frustrations and use of terrorism are understandable though not of course to be condoned.

            So I find the polarized nature of the debate uninteresting and quite repelling, (though quite natural given the vast chasm between Israeli and Palestinian worldviews), especially since I myself have no stake in it and […] “participating” in it is basically asking to be strafed from both sides.

            • Yalensis says:

              Good point, Anatoly. Probably best to stay out of that ghastly conflict, unless one has a dog in the fight. Most of the ideologues who support Israel are people I dislike. On the other hand, Fidel Castro himself recently came out as pro-Israeli. And Castro is somebody whose opinion I would respect. So, go figure… Why does reality have to be so damned complicated? Good segue to the title of Mark’s post…

              • Misha says:

                If I’m not mistaken, Castro stated objection to comments which can (within reason) be considered as anti-Jewish.

                One can have this stance, while being critical of Israeli government policies.

                Offhand, to my knowledge, the Cold War era pro-Soviet Castro’s position on Israel didn’t differ from the Soviet position – which always took the opinion that Israel should exist – unlike some others.

                • Yalensis says:

                  Well put, Misha. Soviet Union saved Jews from Nazi extermination and supported creation of Jewish state in 1948. Israel responded somewhat ungratefully (in my opinion) by fanning anti-Soviet hysteria in 1970’s and 1980’s and supporting American imperialism against Soviet Union.

                • Misha says:

                  The Soviet Union was hoping for a pro-Soviet Israeli state, founded by a good number of politically left of center Jews from Eastern and Central Europe – particularly the former Russian Empire/USSR.

                  A good number of those politically left of center Jews were from left movements that weren’t always so pro-Soviet.

                  There were also right wing Jews from the Jabotinsky wing of the Zionist movement (like begin and Shamir).

                • Misha says:

                  Note that Israel also became influenced by Jews from the West – US in particular.

      • marknesop says:

        Craig James Willy has a good piece on European Islamophobia on his “Letters From Europe” blog, here.

  5. Thanks, Mark – much appreciated.

    (1) Quite a lot of the Russia watchers are Friends on Facebook. Some have even started doing most of their “blogging” there, so you’ll get access to lots of useful links. In any case feel free to Friend me there.

    (2) I’ve come to the conclusion (and I’m not alone in this) that La Russophobe inflated her visit numbers by an order of magnitude or so. Evidence? First, after she published an interview with a Russia watcher, he told me he didn’t see any uptick in his visitor numbers for the day. Second, she’s behind my own (modest) blog on both Alexa (820,000th vs 470,000th) and Technorati (438 vs 465).

    I know that my own daily visits, if projected over a year, come to about 150,000 per year. So I find her claim of having received 2.5mn (genuine) visits, even over the past four years, to be rather improbable.

    • If so that would of course be rather ironic given that she has about two dozen posts devoted to “proving” that she has the most powerful Russia blog on the blogosphere.

    • marknesop says:

      Anatoly, positive reviews of your blog are entirely earned. I’m not on Facebook; I’m fairly technology-resistant, and was probably the last person in North America to get a cellphone (Christmas last year, from my daughter), which is turned off except when I want to call someone.

      There was a post on someone’s blog – might have been Sean’s, I remember he came in for a great deal of hate from La Russophobe (“The Horrible, Abysmal Failure That is Russia Blog”), that speculated there was something odd going on with La Russophobe’s visit counts, and attached a screen capture to substantiate it. Of course she came unglued about the accusation; if the shift occurred anywhere, it would likely have been when she switched over from Blogger to WordPress.

      I’m afraid I didn’t have much grasp of what was average traffic, but I feel better about it now. At the moment I’m at 18,240 views, and started the blog in July (when I got a total of 854 hits). So we’re doing all right. Thanks much for your kind encouragement!

  6. cartman says:

    I know the Power Vertical is only part of the site, but I think it is ironic that Radio FREE Europe/Radio LIBERTY is the most censored site in the list. Try responding to some of the clownish vitriol in the forums and the moderators will never post it. I think you know who those posters are, but the mods try to make it look like the won by silencing the debate.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s a La Russophobe tactic, too, and it’s what drove me to start this blog. If I have something negative to say about the Power Vertical, I usually say it here where they can’t mess with it. On the occasions I’ve commented there, it’s been on Brian Whitmore’s articles, with whom I don’t disagree nearly as much as Robert Coalson.

    • Misha says:

      On this particular, RFE/RL appears relatively good, at least from what I’ve seen. Based on what you say, I gather that a given venue (or more) at RFE/RL mutes a bit.

      Concerning such matter, here’s a clASSic example of hack work:

      http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/22/in-jail-or-on-the-run-karadzic-and-mladic-could-still-win-bosnias-war/

      Some if not all of the deleted comments marked as abusive were perfectly acceptable – especially when compared to at least one of the comments that was allowed to stay.

      At play there is ignorance, coupled with a clear indication of not wanting to address valid views to the contrary of what’s being favored.

  7. Eugene Ivanov says:

    Mark,

    It’s already for the second time in a short row that you’ve made my day. Thanks very much for your kind words. (And I take it that the “old-world courtesy” stands for “old-fashioned” in Canadian English, correct?:)

    I’m not a great fan of ratings: I feel that by way of being so different in backgrounds, styles, and themes, we bloggers are all “equal.” But I’m a human, too, and finding myself in such a great company does feel good.

    I only want to correct what now appears to me a misleading line in my own About: I’m an ethnic Russian (to be more precise, a half-Ukrainian) born to Russian/Ukrainian parents in Tallinn, Estonia (back then, still part of the Soviet Union). I left Tallinn to study in St. Pete, but Tallinn is still one of my favorite cities in the world.

    As for being a Republican…What can I say on the subject? First, I’m not a witch. Second, I’m a principled opponent of one-party systems, and in the state of MA where I live that means being a Republican, does it not? Who knows who I’d be if living, say, in Wyoming?

    Thanks again and all the best,
    Eugene

    • marknesop says:

      Hi, Eugene; in a manner of speaking, “old-world” does mean old-fashioned, but without the stigma of being ancient and outdated. It means of a bygone age when courtesy had more value than it does today, and a loose interpretation might be “courtly”.

      I’m a big fan of your blog, and part of what makes it great is that feel of being in an environment where insults and shouting are out of place, the arena of principled and reasonable debate.

      • Misha says:

        That why I like Eugene’s blog Mark, to go along with yours and some of the others.

        I second Eugene’s point on (what I take as a generalized) rating as it applies to (among some other things) blogs.

        Subjectivity aside, there’s still a technical way of providing a detailed point by point overview of which venues are best at the issues out there.

  8. AJ says:

    Mark, Im curious as to why you seem to get an orgasmic rush out of calling Europeans “Islamo-phobic”, why dont you ever call out Arab countries for being Christianphobic and antisemitic? or Asian countries for being white-o-phobic? Oh yeah thats right, I forgot, only white people can be racist.

    • marknesop says:

      No, you’re quite right – anyone who expresses a hatred of someone else strictly because of their race is a racist. However, I think it’s a natural tendency to lend more credence to the claim of someone when they suggest they’re being discriminated against if they are poor and ignorant and have few job skills, rather than someone who takes home $170,000.00 a year and drives a BMW. Especially when those people want to restrict the payola and the garden parties and the smoked-salmon canapes to Whites Only. That doesn’t mean nobody who is white and wealthy has any right to be, because some made it through hard work, talent or their wits, and some of those are generous in helping people who haven’t much through no fault of their own. You tell me – aside from the Saudi Royal Family and a few oil billionaires, are there more wealthy Christians, or Muslims, would you say?

      That probably sounds socialist, and I guess it is. I wouldn’t consider myself a socialist, because I have no intention of giving up my own comforts to wear a flour sack and live in a ditch. But given a choice in which the only options were socialism and fuck you, Jack; I got mine, I’d take socialism.

      I’m not arguing that it is white peoples’ responsibility to lift up the poor and dirty masses, because it isn’t – not exclusively, anyway. And there’s no real sense in throwing money at people who haven’t a clue how to earn a living or do anything except scratch for subsistence, and will only resent you for your wealth. Employ them where you can, offer trades and language training and let them keep their self-respect – is that too much to ask?

      And it takes quite a bit more than saying “Islamophobia” to make me have an orgasm. It’d be nice if it were that easy, but I don’t see how I’d get any work done.

  9. AJ says:

    Christians. Whos wealthier, Christians, or Jews? We both know the answer to that question, yet its more acceptable for Jews to criticize Christians than vice versa. Aslo, Japan and South Korea are very wealthy, but I never see anybody yearning to bring in millions of Third Worlders to “diversify” their countries. It seems multculturalism is only pushed in majority white countries. South Korea doesnt even allow bi-racial men in their military! Wow, thats pretty ethnocentric, some would say racist. Im sure if a European country had that policy they would be called racist, but noooo, its OK, because Koreans are not white, they dont need diversity. I like some socialist programs, like Russian education, Scandinavian welfare and healthcare, and stuff like that. Its definetly better than Wild West fuck-everyone-else libertarian capitalism. Have you heard about Egypt? Its majority Muslim, 10% Coptic (its Orthodox) Christian. The Christians are victims of violent hate crims, and daily discrimination, yet noone ever chides Egypt for its blatant anti-Christian hatred. Oh, but an obscure pastor threatens to burn a book in Florida, and the whole Muslim world (with the help of the Politically-Correct Brigade) collectively shits their pants. Really? Thats more important than actual deaths in Egypt motivated by predudice? Also, over 250,000 Russians were ethnically cleansed in Chechnya, some were literally enslaved, nobbody raises a peep. Can you imagine the outcry if Russian cleansed that many Caucasians or Muslims from, lets say Moscow? Double standards and coddling of Muslims have gone to far.

    • grafomanka says:

      AJ what alternative do you support then?
      You know that it is unlikely that Russian population will grow significantly in the future (at least ethnic Russians if you prefer) – it had barely reached the replacement level. If you stop immigration while emigration out of Russia continues population as a whole will shrink. All Russia’s biggest ‘rivals’ on world stage have far greater populations, and growing fast. You keep talking about Japan, but Japan is a little island and it hasn’t got vast territory full of natural resources to protect.

  10. AJ says:

    because of its diversity, America will break up in the future. Already the Southwest is becoming de facto Mexico, and there are seccesion movements in several states, notably Texas, Alaska, and Vermont. China is overhyped. Why shoul Russia take immigrants? Thats just race replacement. It should just peacefully annex Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazahkstan. There, problem solved, no need for immigration. Its Slavic population increase in numbers and percentage-wise, and it would be well over 200 million people. Im OK with a Turkic minority, as long as they stayba minority. Plus about a third of Kazahkstan is ethnically Russian anyway. Furthermore Russian law enfocrement should travel to Arizona and train with Sherrif Joe Arpaio’s police force, to really learn how to control illegal immigration. If Russia starts accepting “diverse” immigrants, it will have race riots like in France and a far-right party will rise up, like in several European countries that feel culturally threatened. Do you really foresee no problems with importing Arabs, Asians, and Africans for the sake of population replacement? C’mon now, we both now assimilation would not happen. Heres my brilliant plan once again: 1) Peacefully annex Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazahkstan. This will dramatically boost the population with culturally and politically compatible people. 2) Train law enforcement and border patrol with Sherrif Joe Arpiao, or at least learn form his methods, and have an absolutly no-tolerance policy on illegal immigration. This will protect Russia’s territorial inegrity. 3) A complete ban on all non Western* immigration, except in special cases. *Western meaning all of Europe (and no Turkey is not Europe) , Australia and New Zealand, and Canada and the US. Maybe let in Cubans, Venuzelans, because theyre allies, however. This will prevent future ethnic tension, and will prevent the growth of a culturally deficient underclass a la France, the US, and now the UK. 4) Patrol the border in Asia. This will prevent illegals from sneaking in. 5) Introduce a gender quota for the small immigration that Russia will have. At least 70% female. This will maintain the gender imbalance in Russia, prevent male foreigners from coming in to take Russian women, and let Russian men swim in a pool of pussy. 6) Ban Russian women from marrying foreigners. 7) Maintain the maternal benefits and pro-natalist policies of Putin. This is my plan for Russia, hopefully one of Putin’s aides will read this and email him. Im brilliant, and I bet nobody can point out any flaws in this. Your welcome, Russia.

    • carpenter117 says:

      Dude, where did you get that strong weed? May I get some?
      Okay, I have another theory – AJ is an agent provocateur of La Russophobe, send to troll and destroy normal russia-themed blogs.

    • marknesop says:

      Gee….that sounds a lot like….the former Soviet Union. In fact, annexing colocated territories and subjugating them to Russian will and domination is precisely what the russophobes constantly shriek is iminent, and that Russia must be wiped out under the massed guns of the world before it happens. Have a look at some of the crazy scenarios forecast for Georgia, together with proposals for turning it into an armed camp to resist the menacing bear. Sherriff Arpaio’s policies direct police to challenge people on the street to prove their citizenship. Besides sounding a great deal like the “papers, Comrade?” regime of the still-not-too-distant past, the police already had that power. This ups it to a direction. Who might be challenged? What might lead a police officer to suspect an individual is not a citizen? Looking Hispanic, maybe? Otherwise, they have to check everybody.

      Just as a little change of direction, who’s the fastest-growing pool of young people in the USA? Latinos; legal, born-in-the-USA Latinos. Can you think of an organization that is interested in attracting large numbers of that demographic? I can. The U.S. military is looking to add 92,000 troops to its forces. Can you guess what percentage of U.S. Army recruits from Arizona is Hispanic? Arizona is the sixth-highest contributor of Hispanic recruits, at 21%. Hispanics make up 12% of the Marine Corps. Now, can you imagine what it might feel like, as a Hispanic, to return to your home state of Arizona following a year-long tour in Iraq, and be challenged on a Tucson street corner – by a white cop – to prove your citizenship, and be forced to show identification? That’ll be good for recruiting; my, yes.

      I’m more convinced than ever that you need to be fronting a liberal opposition party in Russia. Your plans for it sound a lot like something they would come up with. And that way, Putin would be sure to read about it. I doubt he reads this blog, or that anyone in the Kremlin reads it, for that matter.

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Now, can you imagine what it might feel like, as a Hispanic, to return to your home state of Arizona following a year-long tour in Iraq, and be challenged on a Tucson street corner – by a white cop – to prove your citizenship, and be forced to show identification?
        An Hispanic Rambo?

      • He’d just go Machete on the copper’s ass!🙂

    • Yalensis says:

      Hey, AJ, I just happen to be one of Putin’s top aides. I haven’t mentioned that yet on this blog, just out of modesty. I am really interested in your plan to save Russia. I particularly like the bit about Russian males guaranteed a “pool of pussy”. I would like to hire you to implement this plan ASAP. Can you please post your real name and address, plus other contact information. Thanks!

  11. AJ says:

    PS the Russian popluation has just recently had natural growth for the first time since 1990, the birth rate likely continue to rise, albeit steadily.

  12. AJ says:

    Instead of babbling on about weed, just admit that my ideas are awesome and great for Russia. Can you point out any serious flaws? I didnt think so. Oh, and cap all immigration at 50,000 per year.

    • kovane says:

      Nice trolling, friend.

      “1) Peacefully annex Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazahkstan. This will dramatically boost the population with culturally and politically compatible people.”

      I know, this is totally stupid question, but how? Maybe if you explain it in detail, Putin will learn a thing or two. And while we’re at it, is it better to annex Canada? They’re pretty compatible and far richer than Kazakhstan. It will make Mark our compatriot, by the way.

      And for God’s sake, can you learn to use the “reply” button, instead of answering with a first-level comment?

  13. AJ says:

    No, not “looks hispanic” which isnt a race, but a cultural heritage, but language skills, mainly, and suspicious behavior. Hispanics are the number 1 illegal population, wether you admit it or not. Where are all the illegal immigrants cloming from? Sure as hell aint Canada. You made these wild assumptions about “Russian domination”. Theres a silent majority that would like this to happen in the 4 mentioned nations, btw. It should be voted on, and be consensual, not against their will. I imagine not a new Soviet Union, but rather, a free and liberal democracy stlyed like the UK(though with less immigration). Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all make up the UK, one nation, though with cultural differences. Thats what I imagine for the Eurasian Federation of Old Rus and Kazahkstan. Hispanics in the US set themselves up for failure, by hopping the border illegally, they make the legal Mexicans look bad. If there wasnt so much illegal immigration, people wouldnt mind Mexicans so much, its just that most Mexicans are illegal, they dont respect the law. I live in a majority Mexican town, most of them dont speak English even. Its ridiculous. A Mexican-stlye illegal immigration problem in Russia would literally destroy Russia. I really dont care about the US, I live here but Im not a citizen. My heart is in my homeland. See you live in peaceful Canda, I doubt youve ever been to Illinois or the Southwest. Illegal immigration is rampant, thats why Joe Arpaio keeps getting re-elected. Was immigration good for the American Indian? Also, I really dont think any of my policy suggestions merit an opposition party, they are all very compatible with United Russia.

    • marknesop says:

      “Hispanic” is not a race only insomuch as the United States separates “race” and “ethnicity”. Thus Hispanic and Latino, while essentialy the same thing, are separated legally for such things as the census. I don’t think you’d find too many Latinos who are not Hispanic. But I’ll play along – if Hispanic is a cultural heritage, can I be Hispanic? My roots are English, but I guess if I just sprinkle chili pepper on everything I eat and call all my friends “amigo” (except for my female friends, who will be “amiga”), I can be Hispanic, right? How about Giuseppe? There’s a good Hispanic name! Will you listen to yourself? Language skills? Cops are going to follow you around until they hear you speak? How many white people do you think they’re going to question because they have a Spanish accent? People are going to be stopped and questioned because they look Hispanic. Or Latino, if you prefer – brown skin and black hair. If you want to split hairs over whether it’s on the basis of race, I’ll stipulate to it being on the basis of ethnicity, if you find that more comfortable. Besides, the USA doesn’t have a policy that says you must speak only English outside your home.

      Illegal immigration is not rampant. The illegal immigrant population in the USA dropped by more than a million last year, the second year of steady decline and the largest reversal in more than 30 years. A strong factor is assessed to be the severe economic downturn, with its associated lack of jobs.

      There’s a silent majority in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine who would like to see your vision come to pass? Can you cite any substantiation? No, I don’t suppose so – because it’s silent. That must be why use of Ukrainian in Ukraine is on the rise and use of Russian is declining, even though it’s still an important second language – because Ukrainians silently want to be Russians. I imagine Russia would be interested, but I doubt the western media would allow those countries to be “peacefully annexed” without raising a scream of alarm that Russia was returning to its land-grabbing Soviet ways. It’d be sold as coercion whether or not that was accurate.

  14. AJ says:

    Im on the mobile site on my smartphone, I see no reply button. Canada is not really that close with Russia LOL. theyre a major friend of the US. Even though Im a Canadian Citizen, a Russia-Canada union is well, highly unlikey to say the least. a North American Union is much more likely. Although if Quebec ever finally seceds and declares independence, I tthink it would be highly stragetic for Russia to have them as an ally. Why do you call me a troll? The people of these 4 nations will simply vote on wether they want to become one nation or not. Then the governments kinda combine, like the UK.

  15. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    The fact that “Gates of Vienna” and “Jihad Watch” are so visited and known is a sad testament to how socially acceptable it is to be racist against Muslims. Its as if people somehow get an orgasmic rush when they rail against Islam and the Muslim people, seriously.
    Putting weed aside, in these days Italian medias are dominated by another sex scandal involving Berlusconi, a scandal that is now reported by English media like the Telegraph.
    The news is uninteresting in itself, at least to me, but it has a couple of interesting implications.
    1) The girl involved in the scandal is the daughter of a Moroccan couple, i.e. of Muslim immigrants. Here is the Islamization “danger” and the Eurabia babbling: a beautiful, tall, scantly dressed girl. If all dangers were like this, I would live much more dangerously.
    2) While nuts scream at Muslims or immigrants, the changes to our traditions come from another direction. This is another attempt to attack Berlusconi with a sex scandal, instead of doing or saying something serious against him. Years ago, no one tried this in Italy, politics wasn’t gossip. For example, it was well known that Craxi (one of the most hated politicians in the ’80) betrayed his wife with a beautiful and talentless actress, but no one ever attacked him for this. I was a Craxi hater, but I wouldn’t ever approved a sex scandal to take him down. Neither I approve the current attemps against Berlusconi, I’ll vote him for the first time at the next election to prove that this methods don’t work (and for some other reasons too).
    Who brought us this barbaric and ridiculous attitude? Surely it wasn’t Muslim immigration, or Gypsies. It’s the US “cultural” influence. If I look around me, I see that changes don’t come from poor immigrants, which aren’t able to change anything, but mainly from “Americanized” intellectuals.
    This doesn’t mean that everything coming from the US (or Russia, or some Islamic country) is bad and must be rejected, or is always good and must be uncritically accepted, or that nothing shall change. After all, the oldest surviving tradition is that traditions change with time.

    • My impression is that Berlusconi doesn’t lose any popularity whatsoever over his sex scandals. After all tribally people want their leaders to be virile, have game, have harems, etc.

      • marknesop says:

        Jeez. At what point do you become a creepy old man who can’t get with the young chicks any more? I mean, he’s..what, 74? I once owned a house that was built the year Berlusconi was born – it was marketed as a “character home”. Berlusconi is a character, all right. At what point does the notion of you crawling all over a smooth, tight young woman with your saggy skin and wattles, kind of like being screwed by a partially-deflated kiddie pool, just gross people out so much that they shout, “Mrs. Berlusconi!! Please keep your senior citizen and his intrusive member under closer supervision!! How in hell does a 74-year-old keep giving you the slip?”

        • Yalensis says:

          In politically correct world, the only 2 categories of people is still okay to verbally abuse: fat people and old people. Both for same reason: they are not beautiful. Be gentle, Mark: someday you will be old too, and you will be happy if people say, “Oh, he is a very distinguished looking elderly man!” And delicately not mention your wattles. Old age: a despised minority we will all belong to some day. Unfortunately. I say: Berlusconi, if you can still get it up, then go for it, dude!

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        I have the same impression about the consequences of these gossips on Berlusconi’s popularity, but I disagree that it’s because people want virile leaders. We’re not going to elect Rocco Siffredi as PM, although his virility has been proved beyond any reasonable and unreasonable doubt. Frankly, not so many believe that a 74 year old man can do much with so many young girls. And assuming he does, well, good for him, but this doesn’t change my wage, taxes, quality of public serices, etc.
        @Mark
        Berlusconi’s wife (2nd wife) divorced him one year ago. Luckily, she hadn’t to appear crying on TV to say “I forgive him, sniff, sniff…”. I remember that something like this happened in the USA TV, to the betrayed wife of a US candidate for the Senate or the Presidency during the ’90.

  16. AJ says:

    uh, I’m pretty sure Islam isnt a race, buddy.

    • grafomnka says:

      You yourself keep talking about Islam as a race – white Europeans vs brown Muslims. By the way you propose annexing Kazakhstan? I thought you just told me Muslim Asians are inferior people with low IQ.

  17. AJ says:

    Sublime Oblivion, please tell me your joking. The days of Russians ruling Alaska are long gone.

  18. AJ says:

    mark, “illegal immigration is not rampant” please come down and tell Americans that. If you speak fluent Spanish and the Hispanic community accepts you as such, I see no reason why a Anglo person cant become Hispanic, if a hispanic can become American. The law will target hispanics? Boo hoo. Theyre the ones coming here illegally. The Great Wall of China targeted Mongolians, too, I guess thats racist as well. I maintain that its in the best interest for Russia and its neighbors to form a stronger political alliance. The Western media wont like it? So what? I started reading this blog because I was interested in your thoughts on Russia, I had no idea you ( a Canadian) would be such a bleeding heart liberal and crusader for Hispanics. I bet it makes you feel so warm and fuzzy inside to type about that, while your in your huge house in Suburban Canada. (which doesnt let people enter the country illegally, btw)

    • marknesop says:

      I’m not a crusader for Hispanics. Show me an example of a Latino illegal immigrant taking a good job away from an American citizen, just one: my daughter’s employer in San Diego was Hispanic, and he had an illegal-immigrant Mexican who cut his lawn and tended the grounds of his house – illegals do the jobs nobody else wants to do. That’s why illegal immigration has declined for two straight years – is the Department of Homeland Security not a solid enough source for you? – yet the job numbers are not trending up. When the illegals leave, those jobs just don’t get done, because nobody wants them. It just astounds me that you can continue to insist you’re an “anti-racist” while you systematically bash everyone who isn’t white. And please don’t jump all over the place once you introduce a subject, like bringing up the Great Wall of China. Nobody’s suggesting the whole world wasn’t racially discriminatory in the 7th century, but it’d be nice to think we’ve progressed a little since then.

      There’d be no sense in “coming down and telling Americans” that immigration is not rampant – Americans are the worst listeners on the planet, and facts are meaningless to them – how many still think the president was born in Kenya? From 2004 to 2007, the number of Americans surveyed who believed Saddam Hussein was directly involved in planning and carrying out the attacks of September 11th, 2001 atually trended upward.

  19. AJ says:

    I agree with you that Americans dont really care about facts LOL. Please point out when I bashed “everyone who isnt white” I actually praised Asians several times for not succumbong to multiculturalism. Also, illegals take plenty of jobs from American citizens, painters, factory workers, service positions, basically stuff like that. Also, they dont assimilate and commit crimes at a higher rate than whites. Mass immigration is bad for workers, and is anti-left wing, and anti-working class. Rich capitalists LOVE immigration because it provides them with an endless supply of labor, and then they can abuse their workers and bust unions because, why pay 10-15 dollars per hour, when an impovershed Mexican would gladly do the same job for 5? Im simply pointing out the facts. I cant wait till 2050, because then white people will finally become a minority in America. Diversity+proximity=war. As America becomes more diverse, it will devolve into squabbling nationalities and psuedo-ethnicities. The evil empire will finally collapse under the weight of uneducated, hard working, Third Worlders. East LA is already de facto Mexico, soon the whole Southwest will fall to Mexico via La Reconquesta. As the partition of India/Pakistan clearly shows, multiculturalism, unless very well managed, results in national collapse and a loss of national identity. Death to America! Long Live Russia! Slava!

    • marknesop says:

      You keep presenting tropes and passing them off as “just the facts”. It’s not a fact that illegals commit crimes at a higher rate than whites – if that were true, the rapidly-rising rate of illegal immigration you insist is occurring (which I’ve already demonstrated is actually dropping) would be matched by an explosion of crime…which is also actually dropping.

      This data, from a state with one of the highest immigrant populations in the USA – if not the highest, I haven’t looked – dismisses the notion that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born citizens: in fact, it’s significantly less.

      You say illegal immigrants take lots of jobs away from Americans – show me. Let’s see some studies, not just rebroadcasting Rush Limbaugh and other such blowhards.

  20. AJ says:

    grafomnka- Please stop slandering me. I never said any of that, you liar. Can you quote me? Put up or shut up. Furthermore, in the Eurasian landmass, words like white and brown, while may be useful sociologically, really dont describe various people too well. Whos white? Whos brown? Are Turks white or brown? They look kinda white. Many Iranians are pretty white. Where do you draw the line? What about Japanese people? Theyre pretty white if you think about it. Skin tone isnt that big of a deal, I think race is more than just skin color. However, culture is just as important, if not more important, in shaping an ethnic identity. Chechens would be considered white in the US, but theyve proven themselves incapable of managing themselves as an independant state. Theyre pretty different culturally from Europeans as well, because of Islam and other factors.

    • grafomnka says:

      You said; EU – an union of white people/countries, you talked a lot about how non-whites are less intelligent, commit more crime etc. I used brown for the lack of other adjective (in Brasil anyone multicultural/non-white is called brown).

  21. Natalie says:

    Mark, I just saw this–thanks for your kind words. There’s certainly an interesting debate going on in this thread. I think you’re wrong on some things: from what I’ve seen, the vast majority of Ukrainians speak Russian. And I am so happy with what you and Yalensis said about my bright future as an intellectual–thanks very much.

    • marknesop says:

      Hi, Nat! You’re most welcome, and your optimistic forecast is well-earned. The graphic in this post (excuse me for pimping myself), which will go up several sizes if you select it, shows the use of Russian (although not necessarily the knowledge of Russian) declining against the use of Ukrainian, probably because of official pressure to make Ukrainian the official language.

  22. AJ says:

    Yes, Natalie, its true that many Ukrainians speak Russian and have a warm, cultural relationship with Russians. I am half-Ukrainian and both I and my (West) Ukrainian parent speak Russian.

    • Misha says:

      There’s a noticeable degree of Surzhyk (a Russian-Ukrainian blend) spoken in Ukraine.

      Interesting how some linguistic concerns are pursued over some others.

      I recall the Soros funded International Crisis Group stressing the need for Albanian language rights in (FYRO) Macedonia. I don’t recall that org. stating similarly about Russian language rights. BTW, in “nationalist” (as depicted by some) Serbia, the Latin alphabet is very evident in relation to the Serb (AKA Serbo-Croat) language.

      An example of seeming hypocrisy involves matters like making comments in favor of curtailing Russian language use, while seeking to make the Latin alphabet for the Moldovan/Romanian language official in Pridnestrovie (Transnistria and several close spellings).

      This article relates to that point:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/28/world/europe/28iht-letter.html

      Following up on some comments made in the this piece:

      – Pridnestrovie has three official languages – Russian, Ukrainian and Moldovan/Romanian with the Cyrillic alphabet.

      – It’s my understanding that the Romanian/Moldovan language was initially written in Cyrillic. For good reason, it’s considered a romance language along with French, Spanish and Italian. The Romanian/Moldovan language has a good number of linguistically categorized Slavic words. Among present day Romanians, the Latin alphabet is used when communicating in their native language. Like Serbo-Croat, the spoken language of the Romanians and Moldovans has two alphabets.

      – Moldova has one official language – Romanian with the Latin alphabet – with the Russian, Ukrainian and Gagauz languages having a status below the official category.

      – The Moldovan/Romanian language in the Latin alphabet isn’t officially recognized in Pridnestrovie.

      – The Moldovan/Romanian language in the Cyrillic alphabet isn’t officially recognized in Moldova.

      – The teaching of the Romanian language with the Latin alphabet is available in Pridnestrovie, with some complaints that such instruction should be increased.

      The above linked article raises some other points which can be followed up on:

      – At last notice, Pridnestrovie has 10-11 political parties showing diversity in their views. One of them has a main platform of a union with Moldova. That party isn’t being suppressed. Its appeal is limited.

      – The issue of “independent” NGOs is open to legitimate second guessing on how open-minded some of them are. From two politically diverse intellects, here’re two related articles on that point:

      http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn10082010.html

      http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2010/10/25/eastern-europe-versus-the-open-society/

      • Yalensis says:

        Thanks for the info and links, Misha. Good research. As a linguist myself (or at least a person with a degree in linguistics if not a practicing linguist), I personally find it silly that people place so much emphasis and even fight political wars over which alphabet a language is written in (for example, Latin vs. Cyrillic alphabet). Russian would still be Russian, even if people started writing in Latin letters. People do that on blogs sometimes when they don’t have Russian fonts on their computer; and I find it terribly difficult and distracting to read; but I suppose I could adapt if I had to. You are correct that Romanian is, in its origins, a Latin-type (“Romance”) language, but with something like 80% Slavic vocabulary. Bulgarian, on the flip side, is a South Slavic language, with with much borrowings from Turkish grammar and vocabulary. Speaking of “Romania”, there are 2 major theories as to origins of the country name. Primary theory, the obvious one, is that it comes from “Rome”, as an outpost of Roman Empire. But there is another theory, less pleasing to Romanians themselves, that the name derives from “Romany”, or Gypsies, a word that only sounds like “Rome” out of coincidence. In other words, “Romania” = “Gypsyland”, according to this theory, because so many Romany people settled there.

        • Misha says:

          Yalensis, if I’m not mistaekn the land of modern day Romania was a penal colony of the Roman Empire.

          Without being well versed on all of the given particulars, (one can only know so much) I’m also of the impression that Romanian identity is (in historical terms) a new concept. The independent Moldovan principality from centuries ago included parts of modern day Romania – but not Pridnestrovie.

          The bringing up of Latin alphabet recognition in Prid is IMO a hypocritical and somewhat trivial point, designed to besmirch a pro-Russian territory.

          Doesn’t Bulgarian most closely resemble Church Slavonic? I understand that modern day Russian more closely resembles the language of Rus than modern day Ukrainian. If so, keep that in mind when anti-Russian/Ukrainian nationalists give their version of the history of Rus and what happpened thereafter.

          • Misha says:

            To clarify on a point made in my last set of comments: Of all the modern day Slavic languages, isn’t Bulgarian the most identical to Church Slavonic?

            It has been said that Bulgaria would be more historically/culturally linked to Russia and Ukraine were it not for the geographic dividing line of Romania. A Bulgarian friend of mine replied by stressing that Russia and Ukraine would be more historically/culturally linked to Bulgaria under such a circumstance.

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          Hi Yalensis, are you sure about the 80% percentage of Slavic vocabulary in Romanian language? I ask because Romanian is quite similar to Italian, when I hear Romanians speak slowly, I can understand about half of what they say. While when I watch a Russian movie with subtitles, I understand at best 3/4 words.
          @Misha
          Romania was a province of the Roman Empire (known as Dacia) not a penal colony. There weren’t penal colonies in the Roman Empire, because due to the slaver economy of the time, the entire empire was a kind of gigantic penal colony.

          • kovane says:

            So you speak Italian, English and Russian? Very impressive. If that’s not a secret, where does the interest in Russia come from?

            • Giuseppe Flavio says:

              No, just Italian and not very fluent English. To watch undubbed foreign movies I need subtitles, either Italian or English.
              My interest in Russia has two causes:
              1) I’m an avid reader of Russian literature, especially that of the XIX century. The only Russian writer of XIX century I’m unable to appreciate are Tolstoy and Leskov. Also, I can’t say anything about Russian poets, because after reading Dante in English I realized that poetry can’t be translated.
              2) When the mass media insists on something (either negatively or positively) and almost everyone seems to have the same opinion, I start to suspect that the real facts are quite different. Then I check the facts, reads different opinions and often my initial suspects are confirmed.

          • Misha says:

            Thanks for clarifying a point I presented without my (offhand) knowing for sure Giuseppe.

            On your language point, I’ve been of the impression that Romanian is considerably closer to the Romance languages as well.

          • Yalensis says:

            @Giuseppe: My claim of 80% Slavic vocabulary in Romanian was vastly overstated. I was quoting from what I thought was memory from a course I took in graduate school, in which we learned how languages from different families (in this case, Romance and Slavic language families) borrowed vocabulary extensively from each other. But I can’t substantiate that number. Wikipedia gives it more like 10%. I apologize. I should have looked it up before shooting my mouth off.
            @Misha, you are correct that Old Church Slavonic is sometimes referred to as “Old Bulgarian”. Here I think I am on solid ground: Saints Kirill and Methodius, who were Byzantine missionaries as well as expert linguists, invented the Cyrillic alphabet and translated the Bible into the Slavonic language, which at the time (9th century) was a unified language spoken by all Slavic tribes, albeit with many regional dialects (not unlike today’s Spanish). Their translation of Bible was based on the Southern Slavic dialect spoken in what is today Bulgaria/Macedonia, hence Old Church Slavonic is sometimes referred to as “Old Bulgarian”. Contemporary East Slavic dialects (like proto-Russian/Ukrainian) even back then had significant differences with the South Slavic dialects. For example, South dialects used the word “grad” for city, whereas East Slavic dialects used “gorod” (as in Novgorod, etc.) There are many similar word pairs where the South Slavic pair has the vowel “a” and Russian has “oo”. For example, South Slavic “Vladimir” vs. Russian “Volodimir”, and so on . The Russian language has not really changed much since the 9th century (except for vocabulary, of course), but Bulgarian has changed quite a lot (lost its nominal declensions, but gained many verbal tenses), due to influence of Turkish occupation, and many Slavs inter-marrying with Turks over many centuries. American linguist John McWhorter points out in his books that when mixed marriages occur, one member of the couple (for example, the husband), will learn to speak his wife’s language, but with an accent, and perhaps also making many grammatical mistakes; and the children might also start speaking with an accent and a simplified grammar, and hence language change speeds up considerably over the next few generations. Oh God, what am I saying, I shouldn’t talk about mixed marriages! That will just set AJ off on another rant. Cheers!

            • Misha says:

              Interesting stuff.

              I recently experienced an informal exchange which included this excerpt:

              Nonsense, if anything it is the other way around. St. Vladimir was canonized before the East-West schism, so Poles, etc., who are baptized in honor of St. Vladimir (and there is one saint by that name) change its pronounciaiton – so all other pronunciations of this name (other than its pagan original) are local changes of the original Volodimir/Vladimir to suit their languages/dialects. This also applies to Russian, with the dropping of the first O and changing the second to A – already used in Oldrussian. This issue revolves around modern Ukrainian Russophobic “nationalists” trying to promote the idea that the curent Ukrainian “VOLODYMYR” was how the name was pronounced originally, therefore, making it “ancient Ukrainian” – a contradiction in terms. Just like they write, in all seriousness, in such publications as the “Ukrainian Quarterly” ( http://ucca.org/en/ukrainian-quarterly sent to all US universities – example, an article in 1988 commemorating 1000 years of Christianity in Rus) that Svyatoslav, St. Vladimir’s father, signed treaties with Byzantium on behalf of “Ukraine” (!?) and other such nonsense… to try to show that only Ukraine (not Russia or Belarus) is descended from Rus…

              ****

              I understand that the Chronicles documenting the Rus period and correspondences from that era confirm a predominating language in Rus that had slight differences, which were nowhere near as great as the ones between modern day Russian and Ukrainian.

              • Yalensis says:

                Misha: I remember from what I learned in my Old Russian class (we spent most of the the semester reading “Slovo o polku Igoreve”, not so much the “Chronicles”) that the original name in Proto-Slavic was probably pronounced something like “Vuldimir”. In East Slavic, this mutated into “Volodimir”, in South Slavic dialects it mutated into “Vladimir”. The reason Putin’s mom named him “Vladimir” and not “Volodimir” is because the south-Slavic spelling of the name has more “cache” for Russians, being associated with Old Church Slavonic, culture and/or holiness. For the life of me, I can’t understand why nationalists of any stripe try to use regional pronunciations of words to prove anything! When I was trying to learn Spanish, my teacher told me that the word beer “cerveza” is pronounced “thervetha” in Castilian Spanish, but Puerto Ricans says “servesa”. My response: “I’ll pronounce it any way you wish, just please give me one now!”

                • marknesop says:

                  That’s “cachet”, when you’re speaking of something that conveys a touch of class. And I can recall a few establishments where your fellow drinkers would turn on you if you asked for a “thervetha” out loud. Your post reminded me that I had bet a case of beer (Stella Artois for me, if I win) against a commenter on La Russophobe named Felix Rabinovich (back when we were still being civil with one another; not Felix, I mean, who seemed a pretty decent sort) that the 2014 Olympics in Sochi would be a success. I’d have to look it up in the archives to see exactly what the terms were, but Russophobes believe (hope) it will be a cataclysmic failure because Sochi is too warm for winter sports.

                  So is downtown Vancouver, although a lot of arena-based sports took place there. The main alpine events took place at Whistler-Blackcomb, outside the city. The same or very similar is planned for Sochi. Easiest case of beer I ever made, I’ll bet. Seems to me Felix swore the only events to take place would be those in arenas, and that there would be no more than 20 medal events, something like that.

            • grafomnka says:

              on mixed marriages – just heard that Putin’s daughter is marrying a Korean 😉

              • Misha says:

                When compared to many others, I suspect that Russians rank high among groups having “mixed marriages.”

                Russians at large were “internationalist” before the USSR.

                I get a bit of a kick when Russian extremist groups are highlighted by others often having a Russia unfriendly bent. The extremism exists for sure. However, pound for pound (in comparison terms) I don’t think it’s so great as frequently depicted.

                IMO, some bigoted anti-Russian commentary gets academically rationalized by some circles, in a way that wouldn’t be tolerated against some other groups.

              • Yalensis says:

                Good for her! I wish them happiness.

        • marknesop says:

          There was a fascinating exercise in English that I saw once, in which only the first and last letters of each word were in their proper places – all the remaining letters were jumbled. The point of the exercise was that you could read English (if it was your first language, presumably) even if the letters weren’t correctly placed, your brain would decode it for you. And indeed, I could read it nearly as fast as if it were not scrambled. I don’t know if it would work for any other language. I read once, also, that English is the only known language that compensates for an accent – even if your pronunciation is far off the generic, or the accent is on the wrong syllable. I don’t know that that is true; I never had any difficulty following bad French. But maybe that was because of my learning environment; mt classmates were all Anglos learning French as a second language. One even said that the only reason for such courses was so the English could speak French to each other.

  23. AJ says:

    grafonmka- I just stated the facts. Blacks and Mexicans dont commit crime at a higher rate than Whites and Asians? Europeans arent white? Too bad if reality offends you, get your head out of your ass. I dont care about Brazil, btw. It seems like a crappy country.

    • marknesop says:

      You can disagree, but you can’t be disrespectful. Sorry. I don’t care how impolite you are to me, but you can’t just be ignorant to everyone. Don’t let me see it again, please.

    • grafomnka says:

      Oh maaaan everyone knows about the crime rate the point is you claim its genetic. You know genetic, environmental, cultural are different things? I found it funny how you decided Kazakhs = ok, but Uzbeks, Armenians etc = not okay. To be honest, I’m not really interested tho.

  24. AJ says:

    @Mark, that study is flawed, because it doesnt differentiate between racial groups. black people boost the American crime rate. If you compare the Mexican crime rate to the White one, you will see which one is higher. My source is The Color of Crime, which the PC Left tries to censor. Also, its intersting to note that the Asian crime rate is even lower than the White level. Something positive to be said about Asian family focus, I suppose. Fatherless sons are more likely to commit crime, most Asian males raise their kids, unlike *ahem* other minorities.

    • marknesop says:

      I think you would be happier over at StormFront (“White Pride, World Wide”) or DavidDuke.com. Those are sites where you’d find a warm welcome, and people who enthusiastically accept your ideas. It’s certainly not that you’re unwelcome here, but nobody agrees with you (here in PC Fantasyland), and I just don’t visualize you changing many minds.

  25. AJ says:

    oh, and Mark, many immigrants to California are educated Asians. I never argued that all immigrants commit more crime than the natives, hell Im an immigrant myself. So you keep argueing against a strawman. I simply reference The Color of Crime which clearly shows that crime in the US follows the pattern of: Asian<White<Mexican<Black
    pretty simple, and true. Have you ever been to jail, Mark? I have, in a majority white county, whites would be a minority in the jail. I saw a mass of brown and black faces, very few other Whites, and only 1 Asian. Just accept the facts, stop living in PC Fantasy Land.

  26. AJ says:

    LOL@Stormfront. Theyre redneck neo nazis who claim jews arent white. I know that facts hurt the feelings of Islamophiles like you. OK then, for the record then: Mark, what would you think is the best immigration policy for Russia?

    • marknesop says:

      Oh, yes – sorry, I forgot they hate Jews. That’s just one of the downsides of hating everyone who isn’t North-American-born white, I guess. You’re sort of in a class by yourself, allowing some Asians (but not the yellow ones) into the club. You’re not hurting my feelings, AJ – I just don’t see why I should contribute to your having a ball jumping all over the place and dragging me in different directions simply for your own amusement. There’d be no point in discussing my ideas for Russian immigration, because you’d just chortle over them, since they wouldn’t fit your profile and you and I will never agree. You carry on defending whites and Christianity, when a full third of even its most avid practitioners can’t name any positive contributions it’s made.

      I think we’re done here.

  27. AJ says:

    Grafomnka, Im done with you, stop lying on me. I never said anything negative about Uzbeks or Armenians, you can disagree with me, but you cant put words in my mouth. Amrenia is a great ally of Russia. Mark- when did I defend Christianity? Im an atheist, although I must say that I would prefer to live in a Christian society rather than a majority Muslim one, simply looking at things like freedom. Have you heard that story about the European couple who got married in the Maldives? They did the marriage ceremony in that language, and mocked the couple for not being Muslim. They called them swine and made rude sexual remarks about the bride. Firstly, nobody even cares about this couple, can you imagine the outrage if it happened that other way around? Many Muslims are bigoted and intolerant racists. Also, why dont you want to discuss your preferred immigration policy, since mine is so dumb? Since your such an open-minded crusader for social justice, Im sure yours would be so much better than mine. Im legitamely curious.

  28. Pingback: Weekly Russia Blog Roundup 30 October 2010 | Siberian Light

  29. In the spirit of camaraderie, here are my top recorded “clicks” since moving AGT to the self-hosted web address:

    URL Clicks
    marknesop.wordpress.com/ 216
    themoscowdiaries.wordpress.com/ 158
    theivanovosti.typepad.com/the_ivanov_… 74
    russiandefpolicy.wordpress.com/ 67
    russiandefenseblog.org/ 64
    austereinsomniac.info/ 60
    sublimeoblivion.com/ 53
    therussiamonitor.com/ 49
    russiamil.wordpress.com/ 44
    poemless.wordpress.com/ 40
    blog-a-stan.blogspot.com/ 37
    seansrussiablog.org/ 36

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, AGT!! Congrats on being Number One by consensus! Tremble, losers everywhere!!!

    • Misha says:

      At present, I consider your blog to be the best English language one dealing with Russian domestic issues.

      As I think I noted earlier at this thread, there’re a number of other key issues out there.

      • Misha says:

        Referring to AGT on Russian domestic issues, with Mark’s blog being among the most down to earth and intuitive – in a way ways that’s not as influenced by the kind of cronyism out there.

        As noted earlier at this thread, I caution about rankings, relative to what are truly the better options.

        There’re numerous subjects covered under “Russia watching.”

        For the record, let me say that the American Chronicle comes across as an arguably better reflection of the blogging spirit than the now downed True Slant.

        My “combative” style is civil in terms of keeping the discussion real. Some venues don’t have obnoxious manner, or have exhibited limits on such behavior. In these instances, I follow that spirit. On the other hand, I’m not one to take crap from people who go out of their way to dis.

        I’m not so keen on people who can dish it out, while not being able to take it back so well.

  30. Pingback: Official Russia | Weekly Russia Blog Roundup 30 October 2010

  31. Stanislav Mishin says:

    Would you like to trade links? Mat Rodina on yours, yours on mine?

  32. AJ says:

    Mark, what is your opinion on Dmitri Medvedev trying to recreate a “Russian Silicon Valley” by 2014, in a suburb of Moscow?

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t see any reason why it cannot succeed; it’s not as if conditions predisposed success at the original Silicon Valley, and few would argue it’s the sole producer of high-quality technology today. I don’t know that Medvedev himself has ever drawn that direct comparison – it is instead a creation of the press, and invites unfavourable comparison so westerners can laugh at Russia’s efforts. I believe Medvedev referred to it as a technology city, something like that. Russia has already had some success in early nanotechnology, although I’d be surprised if they limited themselves to that.

      Western media sources would laugh at it anyway, even if it were a roaring success. Somewhere the west lost its facility for encouraging startups and treating everyone with courtesy. Maybe that’s true everywhere now. For my part, I wish them success.

      • There’s a lot of right-wing drivel about how since Silicon Valley was built up by private entrepreneurs Skolkovo won’t succeed because of state involvement. Whereas the reality is the exact opposite – without state involvement / special zones, something like Silicon Valley would never spring up in Russia.

  33. AJ says:

    Anotoly Karlin, your right, but it seems like it will just be another Soviet blunder-headed collective failure. IQ tests show that Slavs have a lower IQ than Western Europeans. Think about it, Western Europe has always been ahead of Russia in everything. “Modernization” has been the mantra of the Russian elite for centuries. Yet the living standard is still far below real modern countries, like Japan and the EU countries. Why should the Russian people let ourselves be duped again? Maybe its time to accept Russian backwardness as natural and ingrained in Russian culture.

    • kovane says:

      I will make 100-get!

      Mark, congratulations on the first post to collect 100 comments. But we have to admit that we owe it to amazing troll AJ.

      AJ, what terrible thing have we done to earn your appearance?

      • marknesop says:

        AJ pretends to be reasonable only long enough to loose off another salvo of ignorance informed by nothing but personal opinion. That’s a dead end, it’s just a waste of time, and as I’ve mentioned to him already, there’s not a lot to be gained from a huge comment string that is the same two or three people arguing back and forth. How many times have you seen that on Pajamas Media? Quite a few great blog posts, like those on Mark Galeotti’s “In Moscow’s Shadows”, have few or no comments at all. I’d rather that than several pages of useless twaddle with AJ just bouncing from subject to subject trying to get the whole pack to go baying after him. It’s a pretty transparent technique. Just cordially agree with him or ignore him would be my advice; there’s absolutely no chance of finding common ground.

    • grafomnka says:

      “IQ tests show that Slavs have a lower IQ….”
      ah well дураки и дороги

    • Jennifer says:

      AJ, are you one of those evolutionary psychologist types like Kevin McDonald, a known white supremacist, and Satoshi Kanazawa who published a 2006 paper saying that people in poor countries have poor health because they have less intelligence? (As opposed to having less intelligence because chronic worm infestation and recurrent childhood malaria might cause brain damage.) You sound very much like these guys. Why not chooff off to Stormfront.org where they enjoy dissecting pictures of celebrities like Bjork and classifying her into a hundred different sub-sub-sub-racial types?

      Western Europe has not always been ahead of Russia in everything. If anything, Russians have shown remarkable intelligence and dynamism in “Western”-ising their culture over the last 400 years after Mongol-Tartar domination and in maintaining an industrial society after Josef Stalin’s death. The Russian space program seems to have more viability than what passes for a space program in the US these days.

      • marknesop says:

        I’m afraid you missed the delightful AJ, who was the only individual on this blog ever to have his comments deleted. He seemed to have made a hobby of cruising blogs and, when he found one that interested him, making himself progressively more obnoxious until he got kicked off. Anyway, he’s long gone.

  34. AJ says:

    You just cant argue against any of my points, so you call me names, how immature.

  35. Yalensis says:

    @Mark: Ran out of “reply” space above, so have to put here. Yes, of course, the correct spelling is “cachet”, thanks! Re. Sochi Olympics: I am desperately hoping Olympics will be a success and no terrorist attacks or anything like that. Pessimistically, I don’t expect the Russian team to win a lot of medals; but optimistically, I hope Russia can still wow the world with hospitality and good sportmanship. Re. Vancouver Olympics: I watched avidly, and was extremely impressed with your country, Canada. They had wonderful atheletes and put on a great show for the world. Lack of snow in the mountains is troublesome, and Anatoly would say is surely a sign of global warming. I am hoping for more snow in Sochi! Long live winter sports! Woo hoo!

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      I find the discussion about old Slavonic interesting. It is my understanding that contemporary Russians can read the texts written centuries ago like the “Slovo o polku Igoreve” poem. Also, I thought that Orthodox Christian used a version of the Bible in ancient Greek, like Catholics used the Latin Bible until the ’60.
      Thanks for enlightening me on this subject.
      Recently I watched “Ivan Vasilievich Changes Occupation”, a 1974 Sci-Fi comedy movie where an inventor builds a time machine an bring Ivan IV to modern Moscow. When Ivan IV is asked his name by a policeman, he answers “Ivan Vasilievich” but the pronunciation of the name Ivan is different from that used by other characters. It sounds more like “Johvan”. Is this pronunciation an old Slavonic one or a fake one invented for the movie? Or I just misheard it?

      • Yalensis says:

        Hello, Giuseppe! Re “Slovo o polku Igoreve”, I have a much-treasured copy, with a publication date of 1969, published by “Ordena Trudovovo Krasnovo Znameni izdatelstvo Detskaya Literatura”. There is a lengthy introduction explaining the historical context, etc. The poem itself is laid out with the Old Russian verses on the left page, and a contemporary Russian translation on the right. When you read it this way, going back and forth, you almost get the illusion that you can actually understand the Old Russian verses!
        I love the way the poem starts; the first line is:
        “Ne liapo li ny biashet, bratie, nachati starymi slovesy trudnyx poviastiy o pulku Igorevia, Igoria Sviatuslavlvlicha?” Translation: “Would it not be appropriate for us, brothers, to start with the ancient words of the troubled story about the regiment of Igor, Igor son of Sviatoslav?” Great stuff! This poem is the pride of Russia, just as the Nibelungenlied is the pride of Germany.
        Re. “Ivan Vasilievich changes profession”: It’s a great film, I saw it at a film festival several years ago. You did not mishear: back in those days, Ivan’s name was probably pronounced something like “Jovan”. Same as German Johannes. Obviously, it’s a biblical name, John, like John the Baptist. Then, over the centuries, “Jovan” became “Ivan”. Many popular Russian names came from the Bible or from Greek names, like Fyodor (Theodoros), etc. Names ending in -mir (Vladimir, Slavomir, etc.) are true Slav names, as are names ending in –slav (Sviatoslav).
        Re. Orthodox Russians using a version of ancient Greek Bible? I am not a religious expert, but I do not think that is correct. To my knowledge, after converting to Christianity, all Slavs used the Old Church Slavonic/Old Bulgarian Bible that was translated for them by Saints Cyril and Methodius. It was written in a language that now sounds very “high-fallutin”, but at the time was a colloquial language understood by all Slavs everywhere, regardless of regional dialect. I don’t think the common folks used the Greek bible, once they had their own translation. Maybe the priests did, I’m not sure.

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          Hi Yalensis,
          I think I didn’t explain myself correctly enough in my previous comment. When I wrote “contemporary Russians can read the texts” I meant that you can read and understand them, but from what you say I realize this is not the case. It seems that Russian language has changed a lot, much more than Italian.
          About the use of Bible in ancient Greek, I supposed it was used by Orthodox priest and that prayers were recited in ancient Greek, like Catholics used the Latin Bible and prayed in Latin. I realize I got it wrong.
          I enjoyed “Ivan Vasilievich changes profession”, but I suspect I’ve missed some of the movie’s comic content, for example the contrast between the old style talk of Ivan IV and the modern one.
          Re. Russian names, what about family names? I’ve noticed that most Russian family names end in -sky, -in or a vowel followed by v, e.g. -ev, -ov. Is there some meaning in these endings? I know that Dimitrij Donskoj means “Dimitrij from the Don” and Alexander Nevskij means “Alexander from the Neva”, so it seems that -sky points to a place of origin or a place of great accomplishment.

          • Yalensis says:

            Hi, Giuseppe. Yes, I suppose Russian has changed a lot over the centuries. Is Italian still pretty close to Latin? Probably closer to Latin than Russian is to Old Russian. Do you know which Indo-European language hasn’t changed one bit over the centuries? Lithuanian!
            Yes, the Slavic suffix -ski is basically an adjectival suffix that turns a noun into an adjective, so you’re right, “Nevski” means something like “pertaining to the Neva River”. So, yes, Alexander Nevski was probably given that sobriquet as an honorific signifying that he accomplished something important near the Neva River. The suffix -ov is similar but slighly different, it is a genitive suffix that gives the meaning of “of”, or “deriving from”. So, for example, the name “Orlov” is derived from the noun “orel”, meaning “eagle”, and means something like “He who is derived from an eagle…” The suffix “in”, is similar, but used with feminine nouns. So, for example, the feminine noun “pushka” (“cannon”) is adjectivized as “Pushkin”. So, Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was literally a “son of a gun”!

            • Giuseppe Flavio says:

              Thanks for your answer. Italian is very different from Latin and can’t be understood by an Italian speaker. I meant that modern Italian is close to ancient Italian. Italian texts written in XIII-XIV, like Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” are more or less understandable today.

              • Yalensis says:

                That’s wonderful that you can still read Italian of Dante’s time. I wanted very badly to read Dante, but I don’t read Italian, and you made a very good point (in an earlier post) that poetry can’t really be translated. So, no point in trying to read Dante until I learn Italian!

            • Misha says:

              With the Chronicles and other written material from the Rus era as evidence, my understanding is that contemporary Russian is closer to the language of Rus than modern day Ukrainian.

              A politically incorrect point, relative to those belittling the Russia to rus realtionship.

    • marknesop says:

      I second everything you said. I stumbled across this toward the end of the Olympics, and wrote up a scorching, venomous anti-American rant that I very wisely dumped in the trash without publishing, because it was needlessly offensive and the overwhelming majority of Americans are the finest of sportsmen. But it made me see red for a moment.

      I’m sure, viewed in that light, that the Sochi Olympics will be a resounding success in terms of hospitality and sportsmanship. I’m also confident Russia will improve on last year’s performance, which really wasn’t great. But too high a medal count will result in allegations of cheating. Wait a minute; what am I saying? Any medal count will result in allegations of cheating.

      I’m not a follower of hockey (or any pro sports, for that matter), but when it’s hockey and it’s Canada/Russia, it’s keenly watched at my house. But no matter who wins, there are cheers. Go Russia!!

      • Misha says:

        One of the great rivalries in sports Mark.

        Some related links:

        http://www.khl.ru

        http://www.iihf.com

        • marknesop says:

          No doubt about it, hockey is a great sport. Maybe it always had tactics the way it does now, where every team has a few players who are just goons with no real skills except taking out the most technically accopmplished players on the other team, but I don’t remember it that way. It’s a strategy, but I don’t think it results in a clean win if you win that way.

          Much was made of the recent Hurricanes game against St Petersburg, in which St Petersburg cleaned their clock. The Hurricanes pulled some of their best players because they were afraid they’d get hurt. There has to be a happy medium, considering it’s a rough and very physical game.

          • Misha says:

            The goon aspect was greater in the 1970s.

            Ice hockey played within relatively small dimensions, with players running into each other at high speeds. This situation contributes to the periodic scraps.

            The game you mention was of particular importance to the KHL and SKA St. Petersburg. They’re going up against the more established league.

            Back in the 1970s, the Philadelphia Flyers used considerable goon tactics against CSKA Moscow, in a game played in Philadelphia. Prior to that contest, CSKA Moscow beat the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins, while tying the Montreal Canadiens – during an exhibition tour against some NHL teams.

            The Flyers of that era had a reputation as a goon team. In addition, there was the burden of not allowing the top Soviet team to leave North America undefeated.

  36. Pingback: konyvklub.com » Weekly Russia Blog Roundup 30 October 2010

  37. Pingback: Global Voices in English » Russia: Bloggers and Watchers

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