Seen, heard, read …
(I know. The titles are getting shorter and shorter. Soon I will be writing nothing and calling it art.)
Blog: A Good Treaty.
No, not the Son of Start. A new blog on the blok. About:
I work in Washington, DC, in a think tank as a research assistant for U.S.-Russian relations experts. I created this blog as an outlet for my own personal thoughts and opinions on Russian politics, Russia’s relationship with the United States and the West, and to generally rant on subjects that have been nagging at me.
I studied Soviet History in graduate school and have lived in Moscow three times, most recently for about 8 months in 2008.
I would describe my politics as ‘realist,’ which is to say I don’t subscribe to what is called neoconservative (or neoliberal) philosophy. Namely, I believe that geopolitics should be the overriding concern for American (and Russian) decision-makers — not ‘liberal’ or ‘democratic’ values. While a fan of free societies (i.e., rich societies with a diffuse spread of wealth and power), I generally don’t think calculations about a nation’s ‘freeness’ should enter into the business of foreign policy.
Interestingly, mystery think tank blogger uses “realism” to arrive at many of the same conclusions I arrive at via “idealism.” This means we must be right, any way you look at it, no? Even more interestingly, mystery think tank blogger claims to be a fan and reader of poemless, and no one reads my blog, no one but you. Yes you.
It took me a very long time to get around to reading this book. I have positively no idea why. I think it was on my list a while back, along with a Peter Baker book and a Lilia Shevtsova book. I think I read those and ran screaming from the world of very recent Russian history books. It remained on my mental syllabus, but I just didn’t get to it. Well, Sean told me I should read it, and I’ll do just about anything Sean says. And it is a good thing, that.
I’m only about 1/2 through it, but Damn! It reads like butter, a real page turner. And while I generally know the stories, (it follows those of Luzhkov, Chubais, Berezovsky, Gusinsky, Smolensky and Misha K) I’m still learning something new on almost every page. It’s dense in that way, but superbly organized and very entertaining. I have to admit that I was hooked on one of the first pages, at the mention of the brown bar soap. The brown soap! WTF? And how did I ever forget that? I mean, what the hell was that all about? Anyway, I caught myself wondering why any of this business about famous greedy capitalists should hold me so captive. Of the infinite choice of genres to read, “how so and so made his fortune,” is at the bottom of my list. After golf jokes. Maybe it’s this endless quest to find out what really happened, how the Soviet Union really “collapsed,” and why. Or this endless desire to have my personal experiences of post-communist Russia validated. For someone to say, “Oh, yes, it was that insane!” Maybe I could just lie around reading descriptions of cute Menatep boys all day… Who knows…
Magazine: Johnny Weir.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, the flamboyant ice-skater channels … me:
Q: Do you think the criticism you received for wearing a C.C.C.P. jacket was fair?
A: I am a firm believer that being a good American and being a good ambassador means being a citizen of the world and appreciating all cultures. I happen to love Russia and I happen to love America. I see no issue in that.
Q: What do you say to your critics?
A: Suck it.
TV: The 2010 Olympics.
No one can be expected to meet the standard set by the Chinese. And we are in the middle of a global recession. But the only thing that opening ceremony left me thinking about Canadia pride is that, well, there might be a legitimate cause for their inferiority complex. Oh, and that I’m a little relieved Chicago did not get the games. I’d be incurably embarrassed if I were in their position. Somewhere between the Twin Peaks hoe-down paired with interpretive dance and the torch fail, I was ready to crawl under the couch. Oh, Canada! indeed.
Even though I have no idea what that song had to do with the Olympics, K.D. Lang can still belt it out! Jesus. I defy you to find a better voice.
Luge. Tragic. (And disgusting that the media keep showing that poor man’s accident, over and over.) But. How is it a sport? Exactly?
The U.S. moguls skiing uniforms. Look like pajamas. Why are they skiing in ugly pajamas? Why??
Johnny Weir is criticising the idiot American judge who decided to make public an e-mail about Plushenko in order to raise doubts about his skills. Because the idiot American judge is making the Americans look bad. Ok, the obsession with all things Russian was nice, but I’m pretty sure this – an American athlete complaining about an American judge’s attempt to discredit the Russian athlete – makes him an official “Russophile” in the not-so-quaint sense.
Video: Apes eating blinis.
RT has a clip from the Krasnoyarsk zoo’s celebration of Maslenitsa. Because what is the Internet for, if not videos of monkeys eating pancakes?
Thanks for reading and Happy Maslenitsa, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Pączki Day, Shrovetide, Fastnacht or whatever excuse you are using to consume those sugary, buttery carbs!