Margaret Thatcher, RIP

A friend on Facebook said it best: watches with amusement as people who think history is the result of transpersonal economic forces that determine individual consciousness get hung up on the supposed moral evil of one woman I am personally entirely neutral and indifferent to her. I have British acquaintances who are her fans, as well as […]

The Juche Response To British Lawlessness

My latest for VoR’s Experts Panel. (Incidentally, good to see that site getting revamped, and entering the Web 2.0 era). London has a reputation as a “safe sanctuary” for shady people of means from the ex-USSR and other less-developed places, and I think it’s loath to lose it – as it would by extraditing the […]

Minorities’ Cognitive Performance In The UK

Here is data from the Cognitive Abilities Test for UK students in 2009/10 via Ambiguous. Some interesting things to take away here: (1) The sample is very large. Verbal IQ has the highest correlation with academic performance in most subjects, followed by Quantitative IQ, and then Non-Verbal Reasoning (recognizing patterns and such, I imagine). (2) Indians […]

Assange Should Have Picked The Russian Embassy

UK police descend on Assange’s embassy refuge. According to the Ecuadorians, their Embassy was threatened with a revocation of its status as Ecuadorian sovereign territory in the case that President Rafael Correa offers Julian Assange political asylum. This would clear the way for PC Plod could go in and fish out Assange. Presumably this is to avoid breaking […]

Modern Britain In Four Extradition Cases

Imagine you’re a British extraditions judge and you are asked to rule on the following cases. (1) An oligarch exile who came from a country where he might well have ordered contract murders and is now loudly and implacably opposed to its new President who dispossessed him of his political influence. Although the British establishment considers said country, […]

Will Ecuador Protect Assange From The Empire?

So Assange has fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, in scenes reminiscent of what happens to dissidents in truly authoritarian countries. (The parallels keep adding up don’t they). Let’s recap. His site kept releasing classified documents, from secretive and typically nasty organizations. Too bad that some of them belonged to the Pentagon and the […]

The Collapse Of Britain In A Few Headlines

Here’s a sampling of recent headlines from the country that loves to lecture others on freedom of speech and rule of law. Racist Tube rant woman Jacqueline Woodhouse jailed: A London Underground passenger has been jailed for 21 weeks after she admitted hurling racist abuse at fellow passengers. – BBC Girl gang who kicked woman in […]

Prokhorov, President Of Londongrad

Once again, a picture that’s worth a thousand words, courtesy of Alex Kireev: A map of how Russians abroad voted in the 2012 elections (see below). Quantitatively, they split into three main groupings, each accounting for about a third of the votes from abroad: (1) Residents of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Pridnestrovie; (2) Other republics […]

Conclusion: Comparison of USA, UK, Russia

As my series comparing life in Russia, Britain, and the US draws to an end, I rank them based on my own preferences – with the caveat that the perceptions of people of different temperaments, character, and socio-economic status may differ radically. Then I finish off with a brief overview of the main trends in […]

National Comparisons: Politics & Media

In the fourth part of my series comparing Russia, Britain, and the US, I turn my attention to aspects of their politics, including: markets and freedom; media independence; the role of “dissident” voices, billionaires, and corruption; and Internet culture. Some people – perhaps Kremlinologists in particular – will no doubt be surprised by my conclusion […]

National Comparisons: Everyday Life

In this third part of my series on national comparisons between Britain, Russia, and the US, I look at the social institutions and infrastructure that play such a big role in our everyday lives. Why is Russia’s life expectancy ten years lower than in the US? What are the most popular university subjects? Where do […]

National Comparisons: The People

The second part of my series comparing Russia, Britain, and the US focuses on the people themselves. What are their strengths and foibles? How do they vary by class, region, race, and religion? How do they view each other and other countries and peoples? What do they eat, drink, and watch? Where do they travel […]

National Comparisons: Freedom And Security

In the first part of my series comparing Russia, Britain and the US, I am going to look at their levels of social freedoms. While political scientists go on about to what extent a country has “democracy” or “rule of law”, this ignores that these arcane concepts have practically zero relevance to the everyday lives […]

Introduction: Comparison of USA, UK, Russia

Over at Mark Chapman’s indispensable blog, Giuseppe Flavio linked to a fascinating “Comparison USA-Germany” by an academic who was deeply immersed in both cultures. This inspired me to do something similar. My credentials? Having lived for 6 years in Russia, 12 years in the UK, and 5 years in the US (in that order, though I […]

Guardian Censorship: Some Comments Are Freer Than Others

In a recent editorial, The Guardian complained about the expulsion of their Moscow correspondent, Luke Harding. All the usual Russia tropes were brought up in explanation, including its “shrinking space for a free press.” But Harding’s “crowning offense”, at least according to the Guardian’s “guess”, was “his association with this paper’s story on what the […]

Luzhkov Flees To Albion On Heels Of Russian Corruption Investigation

Refused residency in Austria and Latvia, we know learn that the disgraced former mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov has been granted an entrance visa to the UK. According to an ITAR-TASS source, it was granted on the basis of “reunifying the family.” His daughters have already been transferred to a London university. His wife Baturina has also […]

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

So news is in that Britain’s next government is going to be a Tory-Lib Dem coalition, bringing an end to thirteen years of New Labour dominance. At a time of profound economic uncertainty and the imminent return of Great Power politics, it is pollyannish to believe that any British government could resolve Britain’s manifold problems without […]

One Nation under CCTV

Now we’ve all known for some time that Britain is degenerating into a neoliberal version of East Germany, with its endemic surveillance and database wet dreams, and few things really surprise me any more, but every so often it manages to plumb an even deeper level of insanity. This time the thieving crooks and totalitarian […]