The Abyss Looks Back: Europe’s Phenomenal Arrogance

Uncle Volodya says,

Uncle Volodya says, “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

Today marks a special treat for the readers here, because it is the occasion of Lyttenburgh’s writing debut. Lyttenburgh first appeared here just about this time in 2010, as Carpenter117. I don’t know anything about him, I’m afraid, other than that he is Russian-born and lives in Russia somewhere. Whatever else he chooses to reveal is up to him. As I’ve mentioned in discussion, his English has improved tremendously, although it was always good; I first noticed him elsewhere, on Julia Ioffe’s old blog at True/Slant, which was later absorbed by Forbes. Mark Adomanis was a regular at True/Slant, as well. There’s just something about Ioffe’s patronizing condescension that winds Russians up, I’m afraid.

Today’s post deals with a somewhat higher authority, which is also prone to smug condescension far out of proportion to its own claim to authority – the European Council on Foreign Relations. They appeared in the pillory here not very long ago, as I recall, and I strongly agree that their demonstrated performance suggests decades, if not generations, of dedicated and enthusiastic inbreeding.

What do Russians really think about the way the western allies view them? About their patronizing pseudosympathy? Their one-upmanship snubs, like who doesn’t get to sit at the popular kids’ table at the high-school cafeteria? The outright fabrications as it needles Russia through its popular press while its regulatory councils take their own press’s nattering for gospel?

Pull up a chair, and let’s hear. Lyttenburgh? The floor is yours.

On Europe’s Phenomenal Arrogance

A lot of august bodies have decided to share their thoughts on the current vis-à-vis between Russia and what is colloquially known as “the West”. Most of such “musings” inevitably touches the subject of the current situation in Ukraine, due to it’s being a “hotspot” in the bilateral relations. Most often we are graced by some strongly worded opinions from the veritable Legion of the Free and Independent Western press (), or it might be even a Deep and Thorough Analysis by this or that think-tank, NGO or research facility, sharing with the hoi-poloi of the world their convoluted (and, therefore, unquestionably true) findings on the nature of things they probably didn’t even have any previous personal contact with.

And then we have something… anomalous. And huge. I’m talking here about a report (well, “commentary”, to be precise) of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a rather self- explanatory name for an organization.

The Limits and Necessity of Europe’s Russia Sanctions

The picture below the title of the article shows Moscow’s Kremlin and the snow-covered streets of Moscow. Because –apparently! – it is always gloomy and snowy in Russia. How you gonna argue with such a paragon of Western objectivity on Russia’s portrayal as the Independence Day movie, where there is snow in Russia in July?!

You might say that I’m too nitpicky. Honestly, I’ll cease and desist the very moment the West stops this kind of petty manipulation of public perception of my country.

The article from the very beginning says what it’s about:

To get a clearer understanding of the situation it might be useful to start from the other end – not to ask if the sanctions work, but to first look at the nature of Europe’s problem with Russia and ask what it would take to fix it, or even whether it can be fixed by the West at all. That will allow us to see what role the sanctions can play in remedying the problem – and what the things that sanctions cannot accomplish are.

In short – this article is about judging Russia by the esteemed people of the EUrocracy, and determining – is it worthy of their “mercy”. The author asks her audience,

Do we want Russia to leave Donbas? Give back Crimea? Do we expect a regime change in Moscow? Or do we want Russia to start behaving “as a normal European country,” i.e. one that tries to base its influence on attraction rather than coercion?

with the straightest face possible. Suddenly, Russia became an object of EU decisions, as if Russia now is a member of the EU (it isn’t) or that the EU is some super strong, unified world power capable of really compelling Russia to do it’s bidding (again – nope).

Unfortunately, what follows is the author’s opinion on “the nature of our Russian problem”. The author had a mighty lot of predecessors willing to find a “final solution” for the “Russian problem”. This particular individual, elevated well above her station by the simple fact that she writes for the ECFR, does the most “professional” thing possible – goes full ad hominem not only against Russian president Vladimir Putin (KGB reference included), but to the Russian people as well. You see, for the author of this “commentary”, Russians are just “rent-seeking clients” mobilized against “enemy figures – real or imaginary”. The Russian system of education (in the Soviet era, second to none – now “thankfully” reformed by the West worshiping “democrats”) plus “the state-centric way history and international relations are taught at Russian schools and universities” has contributed to the fact that the EU is “having problems” with Russia.

As a person educated in Russia by the Russian system of education (including Higher Education) I can say that this kind of claim is inaccurate. In the Moscow State University (aka “Lomonosov’s”) our professors took a lot of effort to drive us to the “multi-vector approach” of the history and historiography, taught us of many existing schools of thoughts and research. No one indoctrinated gentle young souls into some Putin-worshiping cult. I can safely claim, from personal experience, that I was educated from a plethora of historical textbooks – including extremely “handshakable” ones, both in school (state run) and at the Uni. Still, I am who I am despite (and thanks) to everything that I’ve learned earlier. So, basically implying that the Russian state is “brainwashing” youngsters in the state-run higher education institutions is a big fat lie. One only need to look at MSU’s (of Lomonosov) Journalism department to see teeming masses of “handshakables” and “not-living-by-the-lie-ers” in the making.

But the article is actually right in one regard – it admits the vast abyss that exists now between the Western perception of the current situation and the Russian one. The author is even sufficiently capable to articulate it correctly:

What makes the current standoff so tense and dangerous is not the reach of Russia’s territorial ambitions, as many suggest, but vice versa – the limited nature of them, and its psychological implications. Moscow sees itself as having given up everything: it has left Central Europe, it has left the Baltic States, not to mention Cuba, Africa and the Middle East, but now the West seems intent on ‘taking’ the last little bit that was left – ‘brotherly’ Ukraine. Of course Moscow takes it emotionally and tries to fight back.

But then, as tradition dictates, the author allows her own ideological bias to distort the rest of the narrative in what might have become an honest attempt to look at the current problem from both sides’ perspective:

The countries in Russia’s neighbourhood – in what one can call the Eastern Partnership area – received their independence semi-accidentally in 1991, when it was promptly hijacked by corrupt elites. Now, their societies are starting to mature and demand better governance, rule of law and more say over their countries’ futures. This manifests in a bumpy, but inevitable evolutionary process that the EU did not launch and does not control, but cannot do anything other than support. Moscow, on the other hand, is fixated on the elites it can control – and therefore bound to resist it. The clash is systemic, and likely to manifest repeatedly as long as the fundamentals remain unchanged.

Calling the multitude of processes that in the end resulted in the dissolution of the USSR “a semi-accident” is an admission of one’s ignorance about the history of every single country of the so-called “Eastern Partnership area”. The author also fails to mention that “societies” (the author obviously likes this term as much as she despises the term “the people”) in some of these countries indeed have found an answer how to reach a “better governance, rule of law and more say over their countries’ futures”. One only has to look at Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan. And let’s not forget that Russia itself was “promptly hijacked by corrupt elites”. And what the EU “did not launch… but cannot do anything other than support” were the forces inimical to these governments, which managed, indeed, to bring better governance, rule of law (which was non-existent before) and more say over their countries’ futures (that’s it – they will have more say about it, not some “advisers” from Brussels or Washington).

And then the article lists all the reasons why the West won’t reach any agreement with Russia. The EU will continue to do what it pleases, not giving a damn about Russian concerns over “spheres of influence” because of “the OSCE charter, the principles of the Council of Europe, the founding documents of the EU and NATO and so forth”- even despite the fact that some members of Russia’s elite are indeed ready to strike a deal with them. This sort of sincerity is kinda refreshing, I must say. When a person speaking on behalf of the West freely admits that they don’t care about Russia’s opinion at all, that any real equal dialog is pointless, this sounds both arrogantly prideful and refreshingly new.

But the article also discusses some methods to “fix the Russian problem”! Once again, I’m reminded of some other high-ranking citizens of the “United Europe” of old, who had similar plans. But the new generation is much, much more merciful to the undeserving “lessers”:

Ideally, Europe would want to live next to a Russia that shares if not our values, then at least some of our interests, and uses attractiveness, rather than coercion to win allies and make itself influential. Some experts suggest that to achieve that, we need a regime change in Russia. This would be true if our Russia-problem was rooted solely in the personality of Putin and the nature of his regime – but this is probably not the case. Russia’s dominance-fixated mindset has survived multiple regime changes…

What is needed, therefore, is something much more complicated: Russia’s sincere and extensive rethink of the means and ends of its international behaviour. This is closer to an identity change, than to a regime change. And a lot trickier. While such things have happened in history, the circumstances that bring them about are generally unpredictable and tend to vary greatly – which means that this is not something that outsiders can easily bring about, and achieve a desired outcome.

One of the biggest reasons why Russians resisted so fiercely (and why the common people’s memory preserved it through generations) the many-faced West is because of its desire to “re-make” and “re-model” Russia into forms more suitable to the West. Numerous nomads from the East were up to the usual stuff – pillage, burning, slave taking. But they’ve never dictated to the Russians how they should rule themselves or how they must worship. Only the West did it and by doing it have forever earned the special degree of distrust – confirmed once again by this “commentary” of the EU institution, not intended to be read by Russian “savages” at all. While the author generously admits that “perhaps” Russia doesn’t warrant a “regime change” (which, you must understand, is sort of a norm for the Free and Democratic West – i.e. changing legally elected “regimes” for fun and profit) in Russia, she still argues for an “ideal” Russia without an independent foreign policy; she is arguing for Russia surrendering its security and economical concerns in the name of “appealing to Europe”. Oh, and she also dreams of a Russia which abandons any thoughts of allying itself with China because the EU are the good guys, and China is a “meanie”.

The article is a true hodge-podge of some brilliant epiphanies (for a typical westerner) – when, say, the author argues that the West’s blind support or Yeltsin in 1996 in face of the possible “communist revival” has been unwarranted and even harmful. But then, unfortunately, the author decides to touch upon the subject of Western sanctions, and here we might glimpse the true attitude of “what it’s all about” concerning them:

This implies a wider strategy that consists of boosting the security of the vulnerable EU and NATO members, defending the independence and sovereignty of the EaP countries, and keeping sanctions until the conditions for lifting them – implementations of the Minsk agreements or settlement of the Crimea issue – are fulfilled…

… It is good that the sanctions are linked to concrete demands – return of Crimea and fulfilment of the Minsk agreements. This provides a relatively clear conditionality that Europe needs to stick to. While the Crimea-related sanctions will probably remain in place for the foreseeable future, as a settlement of the issue is not on the horizon, the Minsk agreements are supposed to be implemented by the end of the year.

This is very notable, because in just a few paragraphs a person close to the EU analytical stuff (at least) admits that:

  1. Russia MUST “return” Crimea to Ukraine
  1. b) Russia will be held personally accountable for any failures in implementation of Minsk agreement.

And despite the fact that the author tries to distract us with all her flowery words about “one does not need to make sanctions a ‘barometer’ of Russian behaviour in Ukraine” (because, As Everybody Knows It  () – “Russia is waging a war on the territory in the territory of Ukraine, and about Zero percent of locals actual contribute to it”), while demanding that the EU’s policy “ must consist of a refusal to roll back sanctions before Ukraine has gained full control of its eastern border”. In short – the current Kiev government can do nothing regarding their responsibilities according to the Minsk-2 accord (with the blessing of the EU, it’s implied), but Russia must be held responsible for EVERYTHING. And be sanctioned appropriately, should it falter in its duties. After all, “sanctions should be a slow squeeze that gradually reduces Russia’s freedom of manoeuvre and thereby reminds it of its misdeeds and Europe’s displeasure.

The conclusion of the article, despite the absence of any bellicose terms, reads (at least for me) as a declaration of War against Russia:

Europe needs to be aware that our problem with Russia is long-term and multi-layered. It is clear that the sanctions are not a miracle cure to fix it all, but they need to be a small part of a bigger strategy. They are instrumental in restoring our credibility and possibly fixing a few near- or medium term goals. Getting that right, however, is important, as credibility is something Europe badly needs if it wants to influence processes in the future. Hence the necessity of sanctions – despite all their limits.

Actually, the majority of politically aware Russians won’t find anything “revelatory” in this article. It’s been a “Punchinello’s Secret” that the EU will always skew more on the side of regime in Kiev while reviewing the “fulfillment” of the Minsk-2 resolution. The Official EU (as opposed to its individual members) will always see Russia as an aggressor and the guilty party by default. While the talks about “possible cancellation of sanctions” remain a sort of tasty carrot for some people (especially for some too eager to sell Crimea for a batch of the “true” Italian Mozzarella cheese), the fact remains – the EU will renew its sanctions against Russian at the end of 2015, no matter what.

The sheer gall of claiming that “…Europe would want to live next to a Russia that shares if not our values, then at least some of our interests, and uses attractiveness, rather than coercion to win allies and make itself influential” is astonishing. Since when did the so-called “United Europe” abandon the use of “coercion to win allies and make itself influential”? What has happened to the collective memory of the Enlightened Western Public () (Totally Entitled to Its Own Opinion Even Without Knowing A Thing) about the events that preceded the bloody coup d’etat in Kiev on February 22, 2014?

But, despite all its flaws, I actually like these kinds of “anomalous articles” that sometimes grace the pages of the Free and Independent Western Press (). First of all – some admissions here signify that the so-called analysts in the West are not brain-dead and that they can still understand and articulate some basic things about Russia’s perspective, in the language probably accessible to the vast majority of their target audience. Second – the article is refreshingly honest about the West’s goals and objectives in the conflict with Russia.

Yes, there is some flowery prose here, but the core imperatives are hard to miss. And, yes, I’m using the term “the West” in rather broad definition here. Despite their best attempts to conceal this, it’s rather obvious for anyone with a functioning brain that the EU sanctions against Russia applied (as they claim) due to “the unlawful annexation of Crimea”, “support of militants in the Ukrainian East” or “Russia’s as yet unconfirmed (but we are counting on it anyway!) complicity in the downing of MH17” have nothing to do with any point of the Minsk-2 agreement. In fact, right after the signing of this treaty, the EU decided to prove to the Whole Civilized World that it didn’t bow down to Russia’s demands, and issued yet another batch of sanctions.

But for every Russian who will read this article (and believe me – there will be a fair amount of them), after they get the essence of it, they will realize that this is not some op-ed by the typically “handshakable” Western outlet, that this “commentary” had been published by the Powers That Be of the EU – and that everything written herein bodes nothing good for Russia in the foreseeable future, no matter what. Russians, being the citizens of Russia, tend to react very negatively to some Western countries’ decision to “deal” with them. And the reaction will follow. As it turned out, the Westerners of old (who also had some “long- term problems with Russia”) were truly… mortified by such manner of counter-reaction.

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1,341 Responses to The Abyss Looks Back: Europe’s Phenomenal Arrogance

  1. Warren says:

    China intends to oust dollar from oil trade

    China is planning to launch its own oil benchmark in October, similar to Brent and WTI, striving for a more important role in establishing crude prices. Unlike the Western benchmarks, the Chinese contracts will be nominated in the yuan, not the US dollar.

  2. Northern Star says:

    Listen to Robin ‘interview’ Olga..
    ..lick…suck…slurpp …..apparently Robin finds fascist propaganda..well…totally mouth waterring yummy!!!!!!!

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    Left: This is a genuine Ukrainian – a real Slav.

    Right: And this is a Moskal – a mixture of Tatar-Mongols and Finno-Ugrics.

    As regards the Tatar Yoke which resulted in the supposed creation of the monstrous “mixed-race” Moskaly, Svidomites seem to disregard the fact that Kiev fell to the Tatars a good while before those cities now situated in present day Russia did, which cities originated because of a shift in political power and population move to the forested north from the southern steppes because of the constant depredations in the south caused by various aggressors from the East: cavalry is not much good in forests.

    Kiev Rus’ was already disintigrating and fragmenting when the horde first attacked and were victorious at the Battle of the Kalka River in 1223. Kiev fell and the Mogols retired whence they had come, only to return 15 years later – with a vengeance.

    Some northern Russian cities – notably Novgorod never fell to the Tatars, who also went much further west than ancient Rus’.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      Batu Khan settled one hundred Kereyid Tatar families in Galicia.

      One should never miss an opportunity to remind them that if they give their family tree a shake, something with slant eyes and a taste for horse milk is likely to fall out.

      • Oddlots says:

        Is there anywhere farther away from the Ukraine than NZ?

        Just thinking ahead.

        You got an exit strategy?

        ; )

        • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

          Permanently relocating to the Antarctica bunker is my all-purpose contingency plan.

          The Ukrops and indeed, the rest of the human race will all feel pretty silly when the melting of the glaciers and the onset of the next greenhouse period leaves me as sole possessor of fourteen million square kilometres of virgin tropical paradise. On that day, like sinners before Noah’s ark, every miserable, bedraggled remnant of the human race will beg for their own little corner of Antarctica, or, as it shall then and forever be known, Tierra del Svoloch.

          • Cortes says:

            Shades of Lex Luthor from “Superman I” buying up beachfront property to the east of the San Andreas Fault….or someone taking the sea level rises warnings seriously. Ted Nield’s “Underlands”‘ a geologist’s view on the likelihood of a repeat of the greenhouse effect of 55 million years ago, is very scary. Any room in TdS for a vassal with some knowledge of law and Spanish colonialism?

            • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

              That would certainly come in handy when the time comes to subjugate the rest of the feckless, short-sighted human race – what better role models than those daring desperados Pizarro and Cortes?

              Yes, I believe there’s an opening – though you will need to supply your own Morion.

            • marknesop says:

              Ooo!! I can play the guitar!! And make steak and kidney pie with a scratch crust!

  4. Moscow Exile says:

    Hybrid Warrior Yatsenyuk Fought against Russians in Chechnya!

    True! The Russian blogs have been awash with pictures of Killer Wabbit Yats these past few days.

  5. Lyttenburgh says:

    Hey, remember how couple of months ago a living ICON of, ehm, Russian liberalism Masha Gessen wept and wailed and cursed the tyrannical regime for the lack of decent cheese (and 300 types of sausages…)?

    Well, Ladies and Gentelmen – we have Zrada of epic proporptions. One of the cornerstones of Intependent and Balanced Journalism – the Guardian – fell to kremlenite’s propaganda.

    Russia’s war on western food is leading to a national cheese revival
    A year after Russia banned the import of dairy, meat and fish products from European and other western nations in response to sanctions against it over its actions in Ukraine, a wide array of cheeses is back on store shelves. Shoppers can expect to find the usual variety, but may be surprised to see mozzarella from Tver, feta from Vologda and camembert from Krasnodar.

    The negative impact of the sanctions is clear. Images of contraband western food being incinerated in Russia have led to condemnation in a country where nearly 16% of the population live below the poverty line. And the European dairy sector, which last year exported around €2.3bn (£1.7bn) worth of dairy products to the country, is starting to feel the hit. But as the government pushes for a more self-sufficient agricultural sector, and Russian cheeses come into their own, could there be positive consequences for sustainability in the cheese sector?

    The rise of Russian cheese

    “When sanctions were first introduced, the feeling was, ‘Thank goodness, a breather’,” says Andrei Danilenko, chairman of Russia’s National Association of Milk Producers. “The Russian consumer has always been fussy in that basic cheeses can be produced in Russia, but real cheese has to be produced in Italy or France.”

    Many cheese producers were “on the edge of survival”, he says, as the market was heavily weighed towards imports. The rouble’s devaluation in the last year has made dollar-based imports twice as expensive.

    A goal of Vladimir Putin’s newly appointed agriculture minister Alexander Tkachyov, is for Russian products to replace all food imports within a decade. In the last year, cheese made in Russia has increased by almost a quarter, while imports dropped more than ninefold, from 385,000 tonnes in 2014 to 41,000 tonnes in 2015, according to analysis by the National Association of Milk Producers.

    Russian supermarket chains, lacking alternatives, have come after national cheese makers saying, “Give us cheese”, says Danilenko. Large cheese makers, such as St Petersburg-based Neva Cheese, have reaped the benefits of the import ban. Neva Cheese’s Sirtaki feta is now the country’s best-selling feta brand.

    Local production, with shorter supply chains over which producers have more control, can help a sector become more sustainable. But the picture is complex in Russia. The country produces only 60% of the raw milk needed for dairy products, according to Danilenko. Some Russian cheese makers have resorted to “imported dry milk, dairy proteins and unfortunately there are those who use palm oil which is not supposed to be used”, he adds.

    Palm oil can be used as a cheaper alternative to dairy, and aside from its environmental impact, it is not considered an ingredient for “real” cheese.

    The local organic movement

    Bigger Russian businesses may be able to learn important lessons from small, local cheese producers who are seeking to promote organic produce with local ingredients from sustainable supply chains.

    Giulio Zompi, an Italian restauranteur from Verona who has lived in Moscow for 12 years, makes mozzarella, ricotta and burrata for his Moscow deli. “We made a small logo, ‘Made in Russia by Italians’, as a kind of customer guarantee,” he says. And LavkaLavka, a farmers’ co-operative co-founded by Boris Akimov in 2009, aims to connect consumers with local producers and introduce the idea of organic to Russian consumers.

    Akimov believes the sustainability of the Russian dairy sector depends on making smallholder goods marketable.

    “Before the revolution, our food culture included a lot of dairy,” he says. “People in modern Russia know what mozzarella is but have forgotten what ryazhenka [soured, baked milk] is. There is a cheese fear among Russian farmers – we need to recover traditions.”

    Six years ago, Akimov started to explore farmers’ markets, searching for “tasty, natural Russian food”. It started as a hobby, which then turned into a business that today includes a farmers’ cooperative with 200 organic farmers, five stores, a restaurant, a cafe and a vegetable box delivery business.

    Russia is a haven for would-be organic farmers as land is relatively cheap and abundant, negating the need for many intensive agriculture inputs, yet to date there is no national organic certification. LavkaLavka is the first company in the country to create its own organic certification.

    “We verify our farmers every year,” says Akimov. “I can’t say the system works perfectly. Some farmers ask ‘Why don’t you believe me?’ when we come to recertify them. Also, consumers don’t always understand, they think it’s just advertising. We need time to make this work.”

    LavkaLavka sells camembert and chevre as well as Russian favourites such as cottage cheeses, curd and ryazhenka, traceable back to individual farmers who are profiled on the company’s website.

    While LavkaLavka’s organic products are out of reach for most Russians, prices will be 30-40% lower in the farmers’ market it is opening in December in the Mega Khimki mall, one of eastern Europe’s biggest retail centres and home to many big-box retailers. “Our spirit is egalitarian, we don’t want to sell only to rich people,” Akimov says.

    As a result of a drastically altered market, according to Danilenko, Russian consumers are now more willing to consider Russian-made cheeses. Local producers like LavkaLavka hope to use this new landscape to put organic, sustainable cheese on the menu.

    Thankfully, comment section of the (or should it be a Gauda Herald now?) once again does everything to not disappoint any stalwart enemy of the Evil Regime.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I’ve been eating Russian cheeses for over 20 years now and have no yearning at all to eat cheese from the civilized world.

      I must admit, though, that when I was on a lightning visit to Manchester last June, I was sorely tempted to take back to the the Empire of Evil some Blue Stilton, but when I saw the price on a minuscule portion of Stilton that I picked up in the Salford TESCO, I changed my mind.

      English Blue Stilton

      I’ll stick to this:

      In fact, I’ve just bought some: it cost 330 rubles a kilo.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        I have a confession to make. Personally, I prefer a foreign brand of cheese:

        And by buying it I also willingly support the Last Dictatorship of Europe!

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I have never seen that cheese before. I shall have to give it a try. I am very fond of cheese, I am.

          I’m like Old Ben Gunn in “Treasure island”, marooned by his former shipmates in this monstrous land where not a morsel of decent cheese can be found.

          Then he hesitated, drew back, came forward again, and at last, to my wonder and confusion, threw himself on his knees and held out his clasped hands in supplication.

          At that I once more stopped.

          “Who are you?” I asked.

          “Ben Gunn”, he answered, and his voice sounded hoarse and awkward, like a rusty lock. “I’m poor Ben Gunn, I am; and I haven’t spoke with a Christian these three years.”

          I could now see that he was a white man like myself and that his features were even pleasing. His skin, wherever it was exposed, was burnt by the sun; even his lips were black, and his fair eyes looked quite startling in so dark a face. Of all the beggar-men that I had seen or fancied, he was the chief for raggedness. He was clothed with tatters of old ship’s canvas and old sea-cloth, and this extraordinary patchwork was all held together by a system of the most various and incongruous fastenings, brass buttons, bits of stick, and loops of tarry gaskin. About his waist he wore an old brass-buckled leather belt, which was the one thing solid in his whole accoutrement.

          “Three years!” I cried. “Were you shipwrecked?”

          “Nay, mate”, said he; “marooned”.

          I had heard the word, and I knew it stood for a horrible kind of punishment common enough among the buccaneers, in which the offender is put ashore with a little powder and shot and left behind on some desolate and distant island.

          “Marooned three years agone”, he continued, “and lived on goats since then, and berries, and oysters. Wherever a man is, says I, a man can do for himself. But, mate, my heart is sore for Christian diet. You mightn’t happen to have a piece of cheese about you, now? No? Well, many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese–toasted, mostly–and woke up again, and here I were.”

          “If ever I can get aboard again,” said I, “you shall have cheese by the stone.”

      • marknesop says:

        I do like Stilton – I once thought it had sherry in it, but apparently it does not, although there is an elusive sherry-like taste in its flavour. It’s normally too expensive to be used in cooking here, but my favourite burger features bacon and crumbled Blue Cheese; delightful. I’ve made the occasional visit to Poet’s Cove – in the legitimate duty capacity of putting hours on the engines of the Barracuda – and the bistro/pub serves a somewhat-pricey burger that is so delicious it must be real Stilton.

    • bree (not like the cheese) says:

      Wow, this is from the Guardian??? The author probably has been dragged off to a re-education camp (run by Ms. Gessen and Mr. Lucas, probably). Didn’t even mention how this is actually horrible news for Russia, since now The Evil One shall feast upon delicious organic cheese whilst sitting upon his throne of freshly-killed journalist and dissident skulls. That’s a major Guardian failure!

    • marknesop says:

      Nice to see British Russophobic perfidy is still breathing, as even in such an apparent outburst of cheerful honesty, a monstrous lie is floated – to wit, that some 16% of the population lives below the poverty line. Show me some statistics, Grauniad.

      The Dmitriev/Misikhina report in 2012 “Good-Bye, Poverty: Russia’s Quiet Social Revolution” apparently proved so embarrassing to the rest of the world that it has been largely removed from the record in English: I found it in an aggregate collection of expert reports. It’s on page 19.

      During last decade poverty headcount measured by Russia’s national criteria of late 1990s declined 2.5 times and continued to decrease even during the last economic crisis. More importantly, Russia’s poor almost entirely exited from absolute poverty. By international criteria, Russia’s poor are no longer considered poor but overwhelmingly belong to the low middle class. In 2001 0.9% of Russians were living on 1.25 $US on PPP a day. Since 2008 this group is no longer observable in household surveys. 6% of Russians in 2006 were living on less than 2 $US on PPP a day. By 2009 there share declined more than 100 times – to just 0.05%. Practically all Russian poor now belong to the low middle class by the World Bank definition (daily incomes between 2 and 13 $US a day). Even if measured by the US poverty threshold (15.5 $US a day in 2010) Russian poverty headcount declined from 64.4% in 1999 t to just 30.6% in 2010 (and to about 25% if equivalence scale is taken into account).

      I don’t believe the current engineered economic crisis has dropped incomes that much, and unemployment in Russia remains lower than just about any western country you care to name. I suspect The Grauniad just made up the number, or invented a new scale of measure to make Russia fit into the category.

  6. Moscow Exile says:

    Western values:

    Lawyer accused of sexism after complimenting barrister on ‘stunning’ LinkedIn picture

    I am on linked-in for business purposes not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men.

    “The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women. It silences women’s professional attributes as their physical appearance becomes the subject
    “Unacceptable and misogynistic behaviour. Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message.

    Twice her age?

    What about ageism?

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      He should have mocked her Moe Howard haircut until she collapsed into a puddle of tears.

      • Cortes says:

        She should change her sexist surname…

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I worked with a rabid feminist once (don’t get me wrong: I like women – in general; my mother and grandmothers were women and I got on fine with them; my sister is a woman too, and she’s not a bad sort really, and my wife is a woman as well) who was very proud of the fact that for her “Gender Studies” degree she wrote a dissertation entitled “Womanstruation”.

          Get it?

          Not “menstruation but “womanstruation!

          She thought she was so smart doing this and barely a day went by during the short time that I worked with her when she didn’t mention this fact.

          In the end, I broke the sad news to her that the word “man”, plural “men”, in Old English (wrongly labelled Anglo-Saxon by Victorian philologists) did not mean “man/men” as in Modern English: in OE “man” meant “person” before that word was adopted from Latin after England had become Christian, hence the existence of such words in ME as “mankind”.

          The OE for “man” in the sense “an adult male human” was “wer”, hence ME “werewolf”.

          And there was the rub for that silly feminist: the word “woman” derives from the OE “wifman” – “a person’s wife”.

          On learning that the vile term (for her, at least) “wife” was one of the lexical roots of “woman” really upset her.

          I am not kidding: she had a face like a slapped arse after I had told her this. But she never again started rambling on about her wonderful feminist dissertation.

          • Jen says:

            The word “menstruation” ultimately derives from the Latin word “mensis” meaning “month”.

            Before Christianity arrived in Latvia about a thousand years ago, people there worshipped a moon god called Meness. The name is cognate with the Latin “mensis”. Meness was also a god of war, perhaps because (I read this somewhere but can’t remember the source, because it was quite a long time ago when I read it) in those days when friend and foe alike were equally matched in arms and fighting skills. ambush was the only way to get an advantage over your enemy and it was best done in conditions that were dark enough so your enemy could be caught unawares yet light enough for you to carry it out. Nights of the full moon were the best time to stage ambushes so this meant bloodletting was a monthly event for men as well as women.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Not to be confused with mensa, Latin for “table”, feminine noun, 1st declension, that declines thus:

              Nominative: mensa/mensae
              Genitive: mensae/mensarum
              Dative: mensae/mensis
              Accusative: mensam/mensas
              Ablative: mensa/mensis
              Vocative: mensa/mensae

              Which led Churchill to wonder in his biography about his childhood why Romans should have had occasion to use the vocative when addressing a table.

              The Latin noun mensis, however, means “month” and is of masculine gender, third declension, declining thus:

              Nominative: mensis/menses
              Genitive: mensis/mensum
              Dative: mensi/mensibus
              Accusative: mensem/menses
              Ablative: mense/mensibus
              Vocative: mensis/menses

              In English schools, the first Latin noun that one usually learnt to decline was mensa and I can still remember those damnded declensions now, some 50 years after having learnt them by heart, rote fashion, which is all so terribly wrong and tabu teaching practice now. And like Churchill, I too wondered why the hell one should say “O mensa!”

              Of course, Roman women probably said “O mensis, you are a bitch!” every month.

              Russian nouns decline just as Latin ones do, but there’s no vocative for “table” (стол, masculine, hard ending). In fact, the Russian vocative case is almost moribund, though it sill exists for бог (god) as in: Боже! [Oh god!] and господь (lord) as in: Господи! [Oh Lord!]

              Russian, like Latin, is a bugger to learn.

              Russians think it’s easy, though.


            • Jen says:

              I’ve heard that for most Latin nouns of feminine and neuter genders (that is, feminine and neuter in the purely grammatical sense, not a biological sense, for those who have never studied Latin), the vocative case is the same as the nominative case. Only masculine-gendered nouns had vocative cases that were different from the nominative cases.

              The reasoning is that in Roman society men had (or were expected to have) active public lives, part of which had to be spent in military or civic service, and civic service involved debating and arguing (and rarely stabbing people in the back, at least not literally), so they had need to address one another constantly. In such contexts, the vocative case is necessary, especially as the Roman political elite was traditionally dominated by a few families who handed down personal, family and clan names through generations so a large number of politicians and generals would have had the same names. The famous Gaius Julius Caesar had two sisters both named Julia Caesaris and their father was also Gaius Julius Caesar according to strict rules of nomenclature which had the effect of limiting social advancement into the elite from classes below.

              Roman women were usually expected to confine themselves to the home and not to participate in public activities, so there is no need for Latin feminine nouns to have a separate vocative case.

              This stuff would have gone over the heads of schoolchildren learning Latin in junior high school so teachers usually would have glossed over it.

    • Patient Observer says:

      If a woman is dressing or undressing to attract attention (same goes for a man) then they should not complain if they get attention.

      However, the picture in question did not deserve such attention.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        She’s certainly been oppressed and abused by men though, hasn’t she? That’s why she’s studying female genital mutilation in order to be awarded a doctorate at Cambridge, whilst earning a pittance as a barrister.

        Who can really blame her for having a feminist chip on her shoulder?

        • Patient Observer says:

          They award a doctorate for female genital mutilation? And I thought it was ridiculous to receive a BA for event planning (you know, parties, corporate gatherings, etc.)

          • Moscow Exile says:

            “They award a doctorate for female genital mutilation?”

            Ms Proudman, who is studying for a PhD at the University of Cambridge researching female genital mutilation, told Mr Carter-Silk his message was “offensive”.

            Funny thing is, when I saw her name, I had to laugh because in my dialect, a man who is “standing proud” means a man with an erection, especially when he wakes up in the morning.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        However, the picture in question did not deserve such attention.

        Perhaps her aged admirer knows what she looks like from the neck down?

        Sexist, sexist!!!!

      • marknesop says:

        Well, I would go so far as to say that if they are paid a compliment, they should gracefully accept it in the spirit in which it was meant. I have stipulated that his emphasis on her looks was a little overdone, but she could have handled it better. The practice of law is still male-dominated, and now a cone will go out in front of her everywhere she goes – professionally speaking – that is similar to that described as preceding a hungry shark, so that all sea life which can sense its approach moves away. There is guaranteed to come a time when she will want and need the help of a male colleague – professionally, most likely – and it will be withheld because he fears being pilloried in some crazy sexist plot. And, once again, taking on senior management in a profession in which you yourself are not that well-established is bridge-burning for imbeciles.

        For all their acknowledged piggery, men cruising for a new conquest are easily warned off without the necessity of making a fuss like your hair is on fire. A simple “Thanks. Well, back to business” would probably suffice, and allow him to keep his pride intact.

    • bree says:

      Ehhhh… while I agree that being way too sensitive and constantly offended by something has (sadly) become an integral part of “Western Culture”, I also see that woman’s point. LinkedIn is not a dating site. It’s silly to use it to compliment people’s looks/hit on them.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        As far as I am aware, the man was not attempting to start a relationship with her: he was just complimenting her.

        Although taking the opportunity to compliment a woman on her appearance on a LinkedIn page is not the prime function of that Internet service, is complimenting a woman on her looks really “unacceptable and misogynistic behaviour”?

        • Special_sauce says:

          A lady interviewer once gushed at Paul Newman, You’re so good looking!
          It’s not much of an accomplishment, he replied.

        • marknesop says:

          I personally think the second sentence was too much. He was obviously making his whole conversation about her appearance – she was right about that – and it made his closing sentence sound ominous. She could not possibly be dumb or vain enough to believe she really is the most gorgeous woman he’s ever seen, unless he’s allergic to TV and has permanently-joined thumbs so he can’t use a keyboard. But a confident and assertive career woman, as she fancies herself, would never have gone on a big rant about misogynistic this and dirty old man that and then publicized it as a triumph. Not unless the guy was the cleaner or the photocopier maintainer or something like that. It’ll cost her – mark my words.

    • marknesop says:

      What goes around comes around. You’ll see. That might have won hoarse cheers from the Birkenstock lobby, but if anything warns law firms off of prospective hires, it’s militant feminism. Nobody wants to hire a lawyer that no man can work with owing to her prickly perception of constant patronization and sexism. I see quite a lot of similarities with the Liz Wahl affair. Everybody cheered her bravery for quitting on-air from RT – but she was still jobless months later.

      Of course I have a hard time seeing it from a feminist perspective, and I have to say there were elements of a skeevy come-on in his message if you take the whole thing into consideration; he could have mentioned it once, and let it go. Attractive women usually know and accept that their attractiveness will arouse comment, not all of it tactful. But to take on senior management in a quixotic charge and then brag about it and bask in adulation is….what’s the word I’m looking for? Two, I guess – short-sighted.

    • marknesop says:

      Mmmm…. That was predictable, wasn’t it? Poor America! It just cannot get a break in its drive to supply Europe with energy through one of its proxies! And now the dirty Gyppos have found a pot of gas at the end of the rainbow, after America infuriated them by imposing the Muslim Brotherhood on them. Sometimes if it were not for bad luck, there’d be no luck at all.

  7. astabada says:

    Does anyone know what happened to yalensis?

  8. chios-tears says:

    Thanks for FLYING with

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