Money Mania, By Country

The Economist lies about Russia, it has beef with France, and in general it is far more useful as a barometer of Anglo-Saxon elite opinion than as a good source of objective information on the real world. Nonetheless, it does have the occasional gold nugget, and even one gold vein – its Daily Charts blog. After all, one can rarely […]

Is The Ukrainian Children Learning?

According to a recent Vzglyad article by Olga Gritsenko titled Universal Stupefaction, no they are not. Here are the cold raw facts: Libraries stock 4% of books published in Ukraine, compared to 18% in Russia and 40% in the US and Canada. The average Ukrainian spends $2.5 on books in one year, compared to $22 in Russia. In 2010/11, […]

Hipsters And Democratic Journalists Might Not Support Putin, But The Middle Class Does

Yet another oft-repeated Western trope about Russian politics is that Putin has “lost the middle classes” (Brian Whitmore, paging Kudrin), that it is liberals who speak for the middle class (Fred Weir), or even that it is not just the middle class who are against Putin but the masses too (Masha Gessen). Let’s look at some […]

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 […]

“Cycle of Poverty” Is Just Another Way of Saying “Idiot’s Limbo”

Case in point: This article (“Caught in the cycle of poverty”, Anna Gorman) from the LAT, which is a microcosm of everything that is wrong in US demographic and social policy. It is a story about the “challenges” facing a poverty-stricken African American woman clearly intended to evoke sympathy for her. That didn’t go over well in the readers’ […]

The Evil That Obesity Apologists Wreak

Apart from a few (typically loser) countries with national fat fetishes, men do not want to fuck fat girls. Or even see them. Most certainly, they do not want to feed the bizarre princess complexes typical of Anglo femdom. Is it fair that obesity lowers a young woman’s social status far, far more than a man’s? […]

Sex, Scandal, And The Russian Opposition

One of the most interesting new bloggers on the Russia watching scene is Augis Barkov and his Red Hot Russia. Much like chinaSMACK for China, he searches out trending stories on Runet and translates them – with comments from netizens – for a wider English-speaking audience. Some of his topics I found interesting included Chechen fashion, “Naked […]

How NOT To Be A Whistleblower In Russia: The Case Of Yevgeny Starshov

In 2009, the UK was rocked by lurid revelations about MP’s expenses: home renovations, expensive meals and holidays, and even apartments fraudulently claimed by Parliamentary deputies. Apologies, recriminations, resignations, and even prosecutions followed in the wake of the documented evidence published by The Daily Telegraph. In the past two weeks, an intern at the State Duma incited […]

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: 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 […]

Cable Intermezzo: A Caucasus Wedding

One of the most endearing and surprising cables came from William Burns, US Ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008: a beautifully written account of a Daghestani wedding scene that might as well have come from a latter-day Prisoner of the Caucasus. The US diplomatic corps has hardly distinguished itself with the acuity of its […]

Russia Burning: Not Apocalypse, but Its Prelude

This post is a meta-commentary on media coverage of Russia’s drought and wildfires. Now make no mistake, I admire the yeoman work of some journalists in covering Russia burning: no doubt a few will even make their way into the classical cannon such as The Saga of the Burned Foot (Miriam Elder) or The Tale of How […]

A Rant on Orientalism & Western “Experts”

I’ve recently had a debate with… let’s call him Marcus Stein, about whether you have to be proficient in a relevant language to hold really deep and insightful views about a region, culture or civilization, or whether, to put it in Averkoese, “translation, acquired knowledge (of the subject matters), good contacts (to interact with) and […]

Why Russians like Putin’s Russia

On May 5th, Levada carried out an opinion poll asking Russians what percentage of their family’s income is spent on food. No “Putin licking”, useful idiocy, or ifs and buts about it. It is a very straightforward question, put to the Russian people, the long-suffering Russian people for whom Russia’s liberals and the Western commentariat […]

Voice of the People Part 3, Cont.

This is a summary of opinion polls conducted by the Levada-Center, Russia’s Gallup, since February 2009, and continues on from the first post. Along with the original post Lovely Levada, this series constitutes a unique English-language reference for social trends under late Putinism as expressed by the Russian people themselves, rather than the limousine liberals, pro-Western […]

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 […]

Voice of the People (since July 2008)

Since the last time I covered Levada‘s opinion polls was a whopping half a year back, I reckon its time to make an update on what Russians are thinking since then. A comprehensive kind of post, like what I did in Lovely Levada (check it out, if you haven’t already!) and hopefully a good resource […]