Featured Articles

Book Review: Arthur H. Smith – Chinese Characteristics

Chinese Characteristics by Arthur Henderson Smith, published in 1894. It is available free here. Rating: 5/5. In rich and evocative prose reminiscent of De Tocqueville’s writings on America, Arthur H. Smith lays out what he sees as the core features of the Chinese character and his values. The tone is bold and fearless, making sweeping generalizations and brusque judgments that […]

A Values Chasm That Can’t Be Bridged… At Least For Now

My latest for VoR and US-Russia.org on Russia’s recent Foreign Policy Concept: The new foreign-policy concept is a long-overdue adjustment to international realities. There can be no meaningful “strategic partnership” between Russia and the US or indeed Russia and the West in general, when their respective core values have diverged from each other so much. Ironically, […]

What I Learned From Freedom House…

My latest for the US-Russia Experts Panel and VoR. In this latest Panel, Vlad Sobell asks us supposed Russia “experts” whether Freedom House’s “alarmist stance” towards Russia is justified. Well, what do YOU think? I don’t think you need to be an expert to answer this; it’s an elementary issue of common sense and face […]

Much Ado About Rape: Quantifying A Big Taboo

The past two days I had the pleasure of observing the blowout over a post by blogger Matt Forney about rape – or more precisely, about “how to rape women and get away with it.” It’s completely satirical, quite funny, and one can’t help but by impressed by the size of the balls (no homo) […]

Russia’s Corruption In Comparative International Perspective

Continuing from my previous post (which focused mostly on trends), this one focuses exclusively on international comparisons as per the results of Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer survey of 2010-11. The graphs represent affirmative answers to the question of whether the respondent had paid a bribe in the past 12 months to each of 9 […]

Antisocial Punishment: Why China Will Defeat Corruption, But Russia And The Arabs Won’t

One of the books I’ve been reading lately is Steven Pinker’s massive door-stopper The Better Angels of Our Nature. Incidentally, I found it a very interesting read with tons of cool factoids, although it could have done with a third of its text and a tiny fraction of its liberal sanctimonious. But that’s for the […]

If Sunlight Is The Best Disinfectant, Why Is The Russian Mafia State Opening The Blinds?

My latest for the US-Russia.org Expert Discussion Panel. Also as usual it appears at Voice of Russia. The version printed here is a slightly longer one: There are already a lot of opinions on the topic of Russian corruption, and I see no pressing need to add more to that morass. I do however think it […]

The Rapid And Mostly Unnoticed Decline Of Abortion In Russia

One of the keystones of the “Dying Bear” meme is the factoid that abortions outnumber births in Russia. As Mark Steyn put it, “When it comes to the future, most Russian women are voting with their fetus.” The only problem is that there is no causal relation between abortions and demographic health whatsoever – and […]

My Article For Komsomolskaya Pravda On Press Freedoms In Russia And The West

Here it is in Russian: Вверх-вниз по рейтингу свободы. This translation here is of a longer version at my Russian language blog. A version of it also appears on Voice of Russia: Press freedom – on both sides of the Information Curtain. Thanks to Alexei Pankin (who is a regular at Komsomolskaya) for making it happen – and […]

The Guardian Censors You Even If You Don’t Overtly Disagree With Them

Here is the article, by Nick Cohen. And below are the two comments (one by myself) that were censored. I have corrected a few grammatical points in this post. They were eventually restored, wonder of wonders, but only after two days – and therefore all interest – had passed, and after I had sent an […]

Da Russophile’s Predictions For 2013

I just remembered I’d made some in 2012. It’s time to see how they went, plus make predictions for the coming year. Of course I failed to predict the biggest thing of them all: The hacking that made me throw in the towel on Sublime Oblivion (remember that?), but with the silver lining that I […]

Major Misconceptions About The Dima Yakovlev Law

1. For Russian orphans life is much more dangerous in Russia than in America. Let’s agree to disregard the hidden subtext which implies that any country ought to give over its orphans to foreign nationals should it be ranked safer for children. Let’s first examine if the claim that Russia is 39 times more dangerous […]

Putin’s Birthday, Birth Of A Legacy

The latest US-Russia.org Expert Discussion Panel focused on an assessment of Putin’s historical legacy, on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Here I try to answer whether history will see Putin as the “founder of a modern and successful Russia”, or as a tragic figure who threw away his chance of greatness to the “delusion of indispensability”: […]

Konstantin von Eggert: A Case Study In Democratic Journalism (part 1)

There is a term on Runet, popularized by the satirical “dissident” Lev Sharansky, called “democratic journalist.” Of course, this term is every bit as satirical as its main propagator.  In the Russian context, it denotes a journalist who is obsessed with free speech, human rights, democracy, the whole turkey. But they are “obsessed” with them in […]

Triumphs Of Kremlinology

In 2008, Commissar of Transitionology Michael McFaul and his lab assistant Kathryn Stoner-Weiss wrote: “The myth of Putinism is that Russians are safer, more secure, and generally living better than in the 1990s—and that Putin himself deserves the credit… In terms of public safety, health, corruption, and the security of property rights, Russians are actually worse […]

Natalia Zubarevich – The Four Russias

Natalia Zubarevich’s concept of “The Four Russias” is one of the most reasoned and perceptive political analysis from the liberals, and as such I think it important enough to translate it (mostly I disagree with its core assumptions and conclusions though I do think it is a useful way of envisioning Russian politics). As such […]

ARCS Of Progress – The Arctic World In 2050

Editorial note: This article was first published at Arctic Progress in February 2011. In the next few weeks I will be reposting the best material from there. The Arctic to become a pole of global economic growth? Image credit – Scenic Reflections. Behold! Far north along the shores of the Arctic a quiver of upspringing settlements fringes […]

Russia Overtaking USSR, Converging With West, On Food, Housing Consumption

Just to hammer down the myth of Russian impoverishment one more time (with the help of graphs from Sergey Zhuravlev’s blog)… In the past few years, in terms of basic necessities (food, clothing, housing) Russia has basically (re)converged to where the Soviet Union left off. Here is a graph of food consumption via Zhuravlev. At the bottom, the […]

Analysis Of Russia’s PISA 2009 Results

A few months ago I posted a table and map of Russian IQ’s as derived from regional PISA performance. Those figures are based on Jarkko Hautamäki’s slideshow comparing regional PISA performance in Finland and Russia. That material is a bit inadequate because, as had been my custom up that point, I was only making IQ estimates based […]

The Puzzle Of Indian IQ: A Country Of Gypsies And Jews

The question of Indian IQ is a big puzzle. Far trickier than China’s IQ which I think I’ve basically figured out (101-102 today; 106-108 genetic ceiling). The PISA-adjusted IQ of India – as extrapolated from the states of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, which are relatively rich and are reputed to have good school systems by Indian […]