General Board, mark II

The old General Board can be found here.

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34 comments

  1. Помогите найти комикс!

    Горелово
    Автор: Виталий Терлецкий
    Год издания: 2014
    ISBN: 9785913393418

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  2. J.T., saw a re-tweet on your account about Shaninka. I guess this means you are siding with those who are supporting it against RosObrNadzor’s decision. Let me offer some comments on the issue.

    Moscow’s Higher School of the Social and Economic Sciences (founded in 1995 by Theodore Shanin, 300 students, 5 faculties) lost its accreditation on 20th of June this year. Now, to shadowquote from RIA Novosti:

    “The decision was made on the basis of the results of the accreditation examination. It is noted that the experts found violations of federal state educational standards in the institution.

    So, some professors of “Shaninka” did not meet the qualification standards (e.g. professors with certain specialization were teaching subjects for which they had no official accreditation). Among them were the heads of the following departments: “Management of socio-cultural projects”, “Political and legal doctrines” and “Sociology.” Also, there were found problems with the content and quality of the programs.

    Having a certificate of state accreditation confirms the conformity of its activity with state educational standards. In case of suspension of accreditation, the institution can continue to work and issue documents of its own type. At the same time, it can not issue diplomas of the format established by the Ministry of Education and Science, and guarantee students a postponement from military service.”

    Tl;dr – fro, now on the diplomas of this pint sized ВУЗ founded in the heady days of the Rough 90s are good only as the very fancy (and very awkward to use) toilet paper. No one though closes them down. Also, Shaninka is Russo-British place of the Higher Education, that totally subsumes its needs and education style to the ones of its Western (senior) partner. Shaninka, naturally, is not state, but private venue of education.

    The fact that no less august figure than the uber liberal loyalist former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin began defending the “victims of the Regime” (he also defended Soros funded European University in St. Pete) made me realize, that there might be some real reasons why our government chose to do something right for a change. When suddenly professors all over the world (especially from the countries that would like nothing better than to see Russia annihilated) began writing the letters asking, nay – demanding RosObrNadzor to give back the accreditation, this suspicion grew into near conviction. So I began digging.

    Shaninka was founded in 1995 and received its informal name thanks to its “founding father” and president, Theodor Shanin, a man with veeeeery interesting biography. A Polish Jew, who for his anti-state activity ended up exiled in Siberia, at the age of 18 he was allowed to repatriate to Israel to where he fought for that country’s independence. Then there was his training at the University of Jerusalem, the beginning of teaching activities in Israel and the UK. In the late 80’s – early 90’s Shanin was a professor of sociology at Manchester University. And finally, in 1995 he decided to create in Moscow (why here in such “despicable” country as ours?) his university, originally oriented towards the European education system.

    It is known that among the first sponsors of the “Shaninka” was the “Open Society Foundation” of George Soros and his Central European University in Budapest, founded prior to that in 1991 thanks to the financial support of all the same “big friend of Russia” George Soros. In 2015, the Open Society Foundation, which prior to that actively infiltrated Russian education system (it financed universities, produced textbooks, etc/) was included by the Ministry of Justice of Russia into the list of organizations whose activities are undesirable in our country.The example of Soros’s educational experiments in Ukraine are VERY revealing – as well as his open calls for inflicting all kinds of woes upon Russia.

    It was from the Soros Foundation that the European University in St. Petersburg received money for its work. In addition, the aforementioned ВУЗ also received grants from the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation (both foundations in 2015 were included in the list of undesirable organizations according to the Ministry of Justice of Russia).

    According to open information on the website of the Federal Tax Service of Russia, among the founders of “Shaninka” are the “E.T. Gaidar’s Institute for Economic Policy”, “Economic Policy Foundation”, “New Economic Education Foundation”, “Center for Independent Research in Education and Science”, “Charity Foundation for Cultural Initiatives” (aka Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation).

    It is by pure coincidence then, that the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Gaidar’s Institute is the newly-minted head of the Russian Audit Chamber – one Alexei Kudrin. Together with him the council of the university includes such liberal economic figures as Herman Gref and Anatoly Chubais. Kudrin is also a member of the board of trustees of the European University in St. Petersburg.

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      • You shouldn’t. J.T. You should not apologize or conform to otsider’s views, if the things you post are what you truly believe.in. If you want – defent you position. Better still – ignore all nayseres. If you like it – unleash the ban-hammer and suppress the deviant opion 🙂

        I’ve been saying for a long time – THIS IS YOUR BLOG. I (or any other commenter) does not matter before you. Do what you want.

        No – do you want to re-tweet this thing about liberal Uni with some dodgy ties, buth which is OBVIOUSLY defeneded by the foreign Russia Watching Unis?

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      • J.T., I felt really bad when I saw you deleting this retweet. Honestly.

        Yes, I have a “side” in this situation with the Shainka, as I make abundantly clear. The thing is – I make it abundantly clear. I explain why I’m of this opinion and what are my reasons for taking this “side”.

        You… I dunno. You re-tweeted it and then suddenly deleted the re-tweet. Why? What were your reasons to re-tweet in the first place? What do *you* (not the fine people who you were re-tweeting) think about situation. I genuinely want to know the reasons, and I can live with whatever answer you might provide, opting to “agree to disagree” if must. C’mon, just look at the amount of tro banter I throw routinely at the Professor’s place 😉

        You, OTOH, just slashed and burned the whole thing, that it made me think that my comment offended you. If this is so – my sincere apologies. I promise never to comment on things in your twitter ever again. All I wanted to know is “why?”

        Maybe it is cultural, as me being Russian means I’m less enamoured with the idea of “civility”at the expense of honesty.

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        • I’ve made the Lyttenburgh feel bad? This is serious.

          1. You have nothing to apologize for, as your comment did not offend me. Startled, maybe, but not offended.

          2. You are free to comment on anything in my Twitter, in whatever style you prefer. Again, I won’t be offended – and I’ll likely learn something. For example, I had no idea the Open Society Foundation (with which I certainly do not agree) was behind Shaninka.

          3. I will never ignore those who disagree, nor will I wield the banhammer against them.

          Truth is – I am not informed enough to pick a “side” on the Shaninka issue. I read ASEEES’s statement, thought “rrgh, another univer’s had its accreditation revoked”, and retweeted. I apologized – and took down the RT – because it was a huge oversight on my part. It’s the kind of irresponsible behavior a previous J.T. would chew out other commentators for. You should never hop on a bandwagon without looking into things further, even if it’s your country’s foremost RAS association leading the way 😦

          So no, retweeting the ASEEES Shaninka statement isn’t worth it. Not worth the misunderstandings and upsetting one of the best commenters on your site 🙂

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          • “I’ve made the Lyttenburgh feel bad? This is serious.”

            ME?! Oh, I’m just shy and conscientious intelligent, who likes spending evenings talking about poetry, literature, cinema and cultural-civilisational milestones. Nothing to be scary about 🙂

            [I rarely speak about history though. I usually argue if not shout about it. Occupational hazard, c’est la vie!]

            “It’s the kind of irresponsible behavior a previous J.T. would chew out other commentators for.”

            No mass beheadings in sight? Oh, well! 😉


            ^Yes, that’s the page from my first “adult” comic book “Peter The Great”.

            “Not worth the misunderstandings and upsetting one of the best commenters on your site”

            Who might have scared away all other prospective (and much more coherent and better) commenters with his rants? 🙂

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            • No mass beheadings in sight? Oh, well!

              Naah, I’ve mellowed out. Now my preferred method is writing people into short stories and killing them off horribly.

              Who might have scared away all other prospective (and much more coherent and better) commenters with his rants?

              You’ve got a point. Things have been awfully quiet around here.

              I’ve no problem with ranty comments because (in most cases) I can see through them. However, your comments have certified(TM) made people uncomfortable with joining in (see some posts from 2016). Which leaves me as the blog proprietor in a difficult situation where I must balance between making everyone feel welcome and encouraging lively, provocative discussion…

              Eh, you’ve been demoted from “one of the best commenters” to “one of the most outspoken and engaged commenters”.

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              • “However, your comments have certified(TM) made people uncomfortable with joining in (see some posts from 2016). Which leaves me as the blog proprietor in a difficult situation where I must balance between making everyone feel welcome and encouraging lively, provocative discussion…”

                8()

                I was half joking when I said that I’m scaring people off. The facts on the ground are the following – while you keep commenting in other fellow bloggers comment sections they (as a rule) return courtesy rarely if ever (even in the form of “+1” and “Cool post!” small talk token phrases).

                Am I to blame here? I don’t know. If you, J.T., know for sure that its “thanks” to me, i.e. that said bloggers told you so via personal messages – well, then this is how it is. And I’m asking these “scared off” commenters to speak up if I offended someone of them, or if they have issues with me and my comments. I’m open for dialog and ready for constructive engagement. I’m not above saying “I’m sorry – please, forgive me” and meaning it.

                Now, the question is – what would it change should I stop commenting at all? Would these new voices find the courage to speak up their opinion, unhindered by my outspoken views? Am *I* what is keeping the people from commenting here and engaging in exchange of opinions?

                How about making next poll about why/if the people post comments here?

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                • Did I replace a misunderstanding with…another misunderstanding? I didn’t know you were joking!

                  I don’t think you’re guilty of anything except being extremely passionate. [meant in a half-playful way.] But one Olga T., a fellow book blogger who commented on some early posts here, felt uncomfortable after the exchange on My first troll. And judging by admin reactions to your comments on The Elicitor, RusHistBlog, NYU Jordan Center, and The Untranslated, I can see how the modern (overly?) sensitive Russian affairs commenter might not want to jump in after reading something you’ve written. Even if your comments aren’t intended to be trolling (as we both know), it won’t stop fellow commenters from seeing them that way.

                  Again, I don’t think you’re “to blame”, because no one can control other people’s reactions to what they say/do. People probably don’t comment here because the content isn’t particularly provocative.

                  Polling sounds like a good idea. If only turnout for these things weren’t so low 😦

                  And speaking of comments – three of mine – one original and two appeals to check the filter – were prevented from appearing on Irrussianality. No excessive hyperlinks or swears. I might be blacklisted.

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                • No, not blacklisted from Irrussianality. WordPress has taken a dislike to you for some inexplicable reason and keeps shoving all your comments into spam.

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                • “But one Olga T., a fellow book blogger who commented on some early posts here, felt uncomfortable after the exchange on My first troll.”

                  I read Olga’s BookGeek. As one can understand, I disagree with her completely when it comes to politics, social and life attitudes. I’m kinda banned on her blog too, seeing how she deleted one of my questions. Still, she’s a young mother now, a well-read, cultured intilligent person. Key word here – she’s a *person*. Not a nobody with no interests, no opinions of their own, she’s not a living and breathing re-tweeting machine. One has to grant other people their due when they deserve it. But it also does not mean that I’m willing to mellow my opinions in Olga’s presence for her to be more comfortable – she already has a husband 😉

                  “And judging by admin reactions to your comments on The Elicitor, RusHistBlog, NYU Jordan Center, and The Untranslated, I can see how the modern (overly?) sensitive Russian affairs commenter might not want to jump in after reading something you’ve written.”

                  Ah, good old days! 🙂

                  J.T., I already fulfilled my yearly quota of getting banned in 3 different non Ru-Net places with the options to comment. That’s not because I’m a net-Stakhanovite – that’s the way things roll. The only thing I honestly regret concerning these sites (and many, many others) was the fact that there were no conversation between me and them, no frank exchange of opinion and argumentative dispute. How can the people decry the lack of the “meaningful dialog” between the West and Russia. when all attempts of conversation are shut (and shouted) down? Here you (general “sensitive Russian affairs commenter”) have a living (in Russia) Russian. What – not a pretty sight and conversation? You expected a handshakable liberal instead? The West chose said “Living Not By A Lie” ™ people as their faithful (and loyal) interlocutors for the last 30+ years and as the result is none the wiser. What’s the point of engaging in Russia Watching if you are watching only for confirmation bias?

                  I’m not really preaching or reaching out for them in order to later convert them. AFAIK, I converted literally no one to my hodgepodge of the views and have no desire to proselytize whatsoever. That would require for me to make a great deal of compromises with my own consciousness or even lying. I’m more of the questioning other people instead of whacking them with the Holy Truth, aka I rely on the Socratic method of sorts. Besides, I’m genuinely interested in what makes other people “tick” views-wise, and, inevitable, have to prod and ask them about it. In return, I’m willing to explain what makes some Russians “tick” in this particular way. The answers might not be to that sensitive Russian affairs commenter” (SRAC) liking.

                  I regret nothing when it comes to these sites. Sorry, but this is true. They have to face the reality. Yeah, there is a good chance that this will make them uncomfortable. And in the great smörgåsbord of the Internet it’s all too easy to pick and choose your own. They chose not to choose something “icky” for their tastes. Therefore, I’m a problem. For them.
                  “And speaking of comments – three of mine – one original and two appeals to check the filter – were prevented from appearing on Irrussianality. No excessive hyperlinks or swears. I might be blacklisted.”

                  That’s totally unlike Professor. After all, he commented here not too long ago below your “My trip to Piter” post. Probably, his spam filter “chewed” your comments. Still, all non-indifferent Russia Reviewed Regulars must draw this fact to his attention, given that he can’t see J.T.’s comments for some reason.

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                • J.T., I already fulfilled my yearly quota of getting banned in 3 different *non Ru-Net* places with the options to comment.

                  And what were they, если не секрет?

                  And *non-runet*, eh? Would you happen to know who translated parts of my Red Sparrow review for club443.ru?

                  How can the people decry the lack of the “meaningful dialog” between the West and Russia. when all attempts of conversation are shut (and shouted) down?

                  Because the dialogue does not occur within their preferred ideological bounds.

                  Reminds me a little of something I uncovered while researching for a post on RAS. Mark Bauerlein argues professors in the humanities have abandoned epistemology in favor of indoctrination. Long story short, this leads to professors/students sticking to a limited set of viewpoints and showing little interest in/understanding of opposing POVs, which in turn leads to lapses in research/learning, etc. I suspect a similar form of intellectual satisfaction is at work among the professional Russia-watching community.

                  Probably, his spam filter “chewed” your comments.

                  That’s what I thought, but I’ve had comments chewed by Irrussianality before, and my appeal comments usually still appear. Eh, it’s not that important anyway – the comment in question today just mentioned the crussialism in J.T.’s fave Putin bio Putin: His Downfall and Russia’s Coming Crash.

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                • “And what were they, если не секрет?”

                  1) Sic Semper Tyrannis. I won’t badmouth Colonel Lang and his regular authors despite, naturally, not seeing eye-to-eye with them on certain topics of history (e.g. the Cold War). By pure coincidence (which I’m not to haughty to ascribe solely to my own efforts) SST for some period disabled comment section. Then it switched to Disquis, which greatly reduced the number of its kommentariat.

                  2) The Untranslated. I can take a hint when someone removes my comment from the “Your Comment Is Awaiting Moderation” limbo to a dust bin, and then when you try to re-post it you experience the same thing when you are banned from the comment section. I get it. No desire to overcome it and re-post.

                  3) A personal site of one American sci-fi writer, who’s chief “bread winning” series gets into the territory of time-travel/alt-hist. Early novels are not that bad (just re-read the first one). *Now* it’s bad. It’s really, really bad. But when it comes to Russia (be it of 17 or early 20 cc.) – it becomes abominable. The proverbial “I thought we finally reached the bottom, but then someone knocked from below” type of (ghost) writing. Good thing they have someone who knows *a bit* about Russia and its history – and willing to share this knowledge absolutely freely!

                  Also, had very enLYTTENing conversations with the local contingent (which also answers the question, who’s the target readership of things like “Overkill” might consist of). I was tempted to post excerpts from Umberto Eco’s article “The Ur Fascism” and draw certain parallels between their attitudes and the contents, but, well – that won’t happen.

                  All who banned me had absolute moral and physical right to do so. I was annoying (to them), violating the tranquility of their apparent jolly mishpokhe. It was (mostly) very enLYTTENing having conversation with them while it lasted. I learned many knew things. Hope they learned something knew from me 😉

                  Never heard about club443. The discussion in the Red Sparrow thread that I scanned was… typical. Mutual adoration and respect there literally infused the very code of the forum. 🙂

                  “Mark Bauerlein argues professors in the humanities have abandoned epistemology in favor of indoctrination.”

                  That’s only part of the horror. The other half lies in the fact, that truth (and lie) is proclaimed to be something utterly subjective. Which means that now e can only have “debates”, these exercises in futility and… opinion… measurements, instead of “disputes”, which while pit two ideas against each other also strive to find out the truth AND participants agree to respect the rulings of such intellectual “joust” on what is the truth then. Instead we are offered to club our opponents into intellectual submission. Even in the Middle Ages there were nothing of such kind of anti-intellectuality.

                  I also once again implore fellow Russia Reviewed Readers to go to the irrusionality.com (prof. Robinson’s very own blog) and ask him to clarify the situation regarding his rebellious spam filter.

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  3. (Moved the thread down here, as it was getting v. squashed.)

    “mishpokhe”?

    Never heard about club443.

    Dangit! The mystery continues. I need to find out who’s translating my stuff.

    The other half lies in the fact, that truth (and lie) is proclaimed to be something utterly subjective.

    Yep. This is also a recent discovery of mine. For “us”, absolute knowledge is theoretically impossible – instead we (re)invent the context a “text” is read in, over and over, and *that* is knowledge. “We” value narrative imagination, and feelings. (As you can tell from all the quotation marks, I’m having a bit of an [academic] identity crisis.)

    I was (re)reading the RusHistBlog Anatomy of a Course – Final Student Thoughts (and my subsequent notes on it) today and realized I had some thoughts of my own. Some benefits of using fiction in the history classroom (according to the author) are it deconstructs the linearity of history, encourages students to think about “what ifs” and sheds light on the human cost. And yet I’m hung up on questions of…how does this improve historiography? Do discussions surrounding “what ifs” ever become more productive than acknowledging things could’ve turned out differently? Why are you citing Komiaga from the futuristic dystopia Day of the Oprichnik in your argument about human costs of history?!!

    Is this really what the disciplines I call home really want?
    Sounds like I might need to expound.

    I also once again implore fellow Russia Reviewed Readers to go to the irrusionality.com (prof. Robinson’s very own blog) and ask him to clarify the situation regarding his rebellious spam filter.

    Might have to post something directly to the Irrussianality blog (on ‘Resilient Russia’) as not many people read this General Board.

    P.S. Speaking of historical fiction…

    Discovered this gem at the Barnes & Noble today. A fictional eyewitness account of the Romanovs’ last days with some of the most horrid glorious Russian mistransliterations I have ever seen.

    Oh Katya, vnoochka moya…

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    • See, J.T.? Cultural differences between Russia and US are so great, that we even had different Yiddish words enter our common parlance. “Mishpokhe” (rus. мишпуха ) means “company, family, tight-nit group of people”. Also, here in Russia no one uses such Russisms like “blintzes” or “boychik” either. “Chutzpah” is mainly known to the Net-savvy, who got it from the Western texts. Mostly, we acquired words from Odessa and gangs related criminal argot (about which I wrote previously, e.g. the origins and meaning of the term “фрайер”).

      “For “us”, absolute knowledge is theoretically impossible – instead we (re)invent the context a “text” is read in, over and over, and *that* is knowledge. “We” value narrative imagination, and feelings. (As you can tell from all the quotation marks, I’m having a bit of an [academic] identity crisis.)”

      Yeah – “everything is just a narrative!” mentality. I know that this might sound like beating of the dead horse, but, still – I would like to speak out in defense of two simple ideas that were formerly considered so obvious and even simply ordinary just recently, but now sound very… unfashionable:

      1) The (Objective) Truth exists, and the goal of the Science is its search.
      2) When considering any problem or question, professionals (if they are really a professionals, and not just some “holders of the degree”) in the normal case are more right than any given amateur.

      That’s it. The core of any way to learn about the world around. To learn – not to fantasize.

      These small and till recently accepted axioms are opposed by now much more fashionable ideas:

      1) The Truth does not exist, there are only many opinions (or, in the language of postmodernism, “many texts”).
      2) On any issue no one’s opinion weighs more than the opinion of someone else. The opinion of any given Highly Opinionated Anonymous claiming that the Earth is flat has the “right” to persists in this kind of insanity. Not only that – all others must take such claims seriously and “equal” to the previously established “facts”, which are to be relegated into the “theories” category.

      If you apply these “fashionable ideas” to the sphere of science (yes, even to the Humanities) you won’t have a science anymore. That’s kinda a self-fulfilled prophecy, at least in the West, where, quite often the humanities are denied the title of the sciences based on the “unscientific” approach… and then all Smart Heads go extra mile away from the scientific approach.

      My chief gripe with those series in RusHistBlog was that I was absolutely appalled by the approach taken by the author. Any science requires for starters a “skeleton” of the facts, a firm basis. In history this is such “unglamorous” thing as the political history – dates and events, in short. Judging from what’s been written by the author, I had (still have) some very serious doubts that his students got enough “bones” for their skeleton, or that said bones were not brittle or damaged – or even from the same species. Instead, the author was way too enthusiastic in talking about the “meat”, forgetting about “sinews” that might connect it to the skeleton. On the closer inspection some of the “meat” looked rather very dated and even rotten.

      Most of all I was disappointed with the example of the students writing. That one deserved a solid “B+”… in the school. Vast copy pasta from the text books peppered with the things that her prof said. No personal input. No imagination. I know, for I’ve written something like that years ago – some obligatory, “сделано на от…вяжись” kind of stuff. But if that’s the best that he got then his chief aim of getting the students really interested in Russia and its history failed. Not even that circus and pandering to these teens “interest” helped him.

      Speaking of pandering – I don’t believe for a sec that the author chose those two books because “it deconstructs the linearity of history, encourages students to think about “what ifs” and sheds light on the human cost.” (c). I think he included them because he wanted to. No other explanation. I asked then and I ask now – why include “The Turkish Gambit” (about Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78) if you start with the Revolutions in 1917? If you (the professor who wants to be “kewl”) really like your Akunin and Fandorin so much, why not choose, e.g. “The State Councilor” instead? Here you have everything necessary to convey the pre-Revolutionary zeitgeist – Revolutionary terrorism, state security apparatus, their inevitable clash and intermingling, customs and mores of the Imperial Moscow seen from the highest to the lowest perspectives, and famous landmarks like Sanduni bathhouse (which is still there and functioning). Besides, the book takes place in *Russia*. Ain’t that the goal after all – to show your students a bit of it? A bit of real Russia?

      As for the “Day of Oprichnik” – it was included because in the West people seriously think that it shows the “ugly reality of Putin’s Russia”. People, with the most peripheral knowledge about Russia (and various emigrants that left “This Country” in, say, 1991, and never came back) furiously agree and handshake. For such “historian” and that RusHistBlog author it IS the truth – and a clear attempt to shape the minds of his charges in the appropriate fashion. Mind you – he does this openly using something, which could not be possibly treated as the veritable, truthful account rooted in the reality. Also – mark my words. Not far away is the day, when the “Red Sparrow” will be used as the go to literature/movies, that would be used as a “documentary” to “show the ugly face of Putin’s Russia” (c). Some already do that.

      Naturally, I got myself banned for saying that. Who likes to hear criticism? Who wants to deflate their egos? Who wants to really change? Who’d like to hear from someone (on the Net!) that their course of history resembles an abominable bone-less mutant blob of flesh, that has no mouth, but wants to scream “Put me out of my misery”?

      “Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient), directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters)

      Drawing from decades of work, travel, and research in Russia, Robert Alexander re-creates the tragic, perennially fascinating story of the final days of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov as seen through the eyes of their young kitchen boy, Leonka. Now an ancient Russian immigrant, Leonka claims to be the last living witness to the Romanovs’ brutal murders and sets down the dark secrets of his past with the imperial family. Does he hold the key to the many questions surrounding the family’s murder? Historically vivid and compelling, The Kitchen Boy is also a touching portrait of a loving family that was in many ways similar, yet so different, from any other.”

      What *secretes* and *questions* might he “hold keys to”? That it was a Judeo-Bolshevik Masonic ritual to awaken Cthulhu resurrect Rasputin? And the last phrase that reminds gentle reader, that there are racially superior nobs and royals, and then there is bydlo. Naturally, bydlo does not deserve to be cried over so openly and mainstream.

      Very… symptomatic book.

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      • Judging from what’s been written by the author, I had (still have) some very serious doubts that his students got enough “bones” for their skeleton, or that said bones were not brittle or damaged – or even from the same species. Instead, the author was way too enthusiastic in talking about the “meat”, forgetting about “sinews” that might connect it to the skeleton. On the closer inspection some of the “meat” looked rather very dated and even rotten.

        This is going to sound v. humanities of me, but…nice metaphor! You should write a short story.

        I wouldn’t assign historical fiction in *my* [hypothetical] history classroom for the same reason I wouldn’t assign Red Sparrow or other spy thrillers in my geopolitics classroom. Experience has told me that a lot of so-called historical fiction manipulates/romanticizes details to make the novel more exciting. Because first and foremost, historical fiction is, well, literature.

        And sorry, but I don’t find Masood’s argument convincing in the slightest. Deconstructing linearity, considering alternatives, recognizing human cost – these things somehow can’t be achieved with wider (as in more varied) reading from nonfiction and existing historical record?

        Also…

        Fiction can help dismantle the myth of uniformity—a characteristic that becomes all the more important when we consider how Soviet Russia has been portrayed in the past, and how propagandistic these portrayals have been. We cannot move away from painting Russia as a perpetual enemy until we dismantle the stories of a monolithic totalitarian state bent on destruction. Fiction can add much needed nuance to portrayals of Russia and its people.

        Great idea! We can start by not zeroing in on translating overtly political satires, “dissident stories”, chernukha-on-paper, and the like from the Russian.

        This is nothing new. See nineteenth-century “informational” translation in England. A wave of “russophobia” swept England in the 1820s, and during a thaw in the 1840s it was replaced by renewed interest in translating from Russian – mainly works deemed derivative of English romances (ex. Mikhail Zagoskin and Ivan Lazhechnikov).

        “Russophobia” returned with the Crimean War, and with it came translations of a different caliber. Supported by publishers who cared little about sources or fidelity to originals, translators produced work designed to serve political rather than aesthetic ends, i.e., to provide “information” about Russian life that supported prevailing stereotypes (Russian tyranny and backwardness, what else?). Some selected titles which appeared during this period:

        Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time became “Sketches of Russian Life in the Caucasus” (“by a Russe, many years resident amongst the various tribes”, 1853)

        Turgenev’s Sportsman’s Sketches became “Russian Life in the Interior” (1855)

        And a pirated translation of Gogol’s Dead Souls, retitled “Home Life in Russia’ (“By a Russian Noble”, 1854), in which the translator introduced a condescending narrator who reminds English readers of their superiority to the Russians.

        Okay, in the original, Gogol’s narrator doesn’t much like prevailing mores either, but he expresses his opinion ironically, and never presents it as historical fact. That didn’t stop the 1854 translator from making major changes (boldface my own):

        “Dost thou see it?” said the one to the other, “there is a wheel for you! What do you think of it, would it break or not, supposing it had to roll as far as Moscow?”

        “It might stand the journey,” replied the other, musingly, as he scratched himself sedulously behind the ear.

        “But supposing it was on its way to Kazan, I think it would not stand the wear and tear of such a distance?” said the first speaker again.

        “It will never roll into the ancient Tatar fastness,” responded his friend somewhat affirmatively.

        Thus ended the learned conversation, the scientific depth of which we will not venture to explore. (p. 2-3)

        So what we have here is an exaggeration of peasants’ uncouth ways (scratching behind the ear), dramatization of the story (describing speakers/manner), and adding commentary which wasn’t there before (“somewhat affirmatively”). Russian society was so uncivilized to English minds of the time that the translator could embellish Gogol’s text and no one would care. Or notice.

        Modern translators are much classier: we don’t outright distort Russian originals, even if sometimes our abridged English versions are 246 pages short (*coughBykov’sLivingSoulscough*). Just a little selection bias, that’s all…

        For more, see Rachel May’s bit on “informational” translation in her book The Translator in the Text. I wager it’s hiding on the runet somewhere.

        re: The Kitchen Boy.
        From the 16 pages I was able to read before leaving B&N, I learned that “the truth” about the Romanovs is going to involve a lot of hero-worship.

        And yet I’ve already placed a hold for it at P.— Library. You know what’s coming after Russia in Comics 😉

        Like

        • “That didn’t stop the 1854 translator from making major changes (boldface my own):”

          I… I just…

          Upon seeing that excerpt I could only stare blankly into… anything. Monitor, window, wall, mirror, fridge. I sat there, drinking one cup of coffee after another, asking myself “WHY?!”. I mean… it was all so crushingly, soul-sucking overpowering… I double checked if there is a gas leak in the house, am I drunk, or did some fresh toxic paint fumes somehow made their way to here. Nope, everything is okay. So there is no excuse for what I just read.

          The original. Volume I, Chapter I of the “Dead Souls”, first paragraph:

          “…только два русские мужика, стоявшие у дверей кабака против гостиницы, сделали кое-какие замечания, относившиеся, впрочем, более к экипажу, чем к сидевшему в нем. «Вишь ты, — сказал один другому, — вон какое колесо! что ты думаешь, доедет то колесо, если б случилось, в Москву или не доедет?» — «Доедет», — отвечал другой. «А в Казань-то, я думаю, не доедет?» — «В Казань не доедет», — отвечал другой. Этим разговор и кончился.”

          See – Надмозг.

          It’s a “common truth” ™ among shy and conscientious intelligentsia in This Country, that “Russia does not make anything”, and that the West, justifiably, is not interested in our culture as it is thoroughly secondary and below their rrrracially superior notice.

          Well… what have we here! I, honestly, pretty much shared some of the claims of these much touted “truth”. Turns out that the Western Valinor was not above the piracy of the intellectual property. Not only that – it deliberately mangled translations of our, Russian, works of the literature, in order to deliver a MESSAGE. One can excuse a poor “надмозг” (though I’m still hysterical when I recall how in so many books from the Blessed 90s “military intelligence” was translated as “военная интеллигенция”). Here, we MUST ascribe to the malignancy, what clearly, could not be ascribe to the incompetence.

          J.T. – that’s a “bomb” what you have here. The facts about “pirate translations” of our classic literature by the Western contemporaries are not widely known. I didn’t know that. I thought, that the interest in Russia literature came much, much later. Well, here you have it – propaganda needs beat all the sneering. After all, you have an added bonus that this is “genuine Russian” writing about Nasty Stuff.

          “re: The Kitchen Boy.
          From the 16 pages I was able to read before leaving B&N, I learned that “the truth” about the Romanovs is going to involve a lot of hero-worship.”

          🙂 Relevant!

          Like

        • Meanwhile:

          “Fiction can help dismantle the myth of uniformity — a characteristic that becomes all the more important when we consider how Soviet Russia has been portrayed in the past, and how propagandistic these portrayals have been. We cannot move away from painting Russia as a perpetual enemy until we dismantle the stories of a monolithic totalitarian state bent on destruction. Fiction can add much needed nuance to portrayals of Russia and its people.”

          Rant warning. Delete if you want, it’s still rather “raw” anyway.

          I think you are on to something BIG here, J.T., something potentially revealing and all explaining. At the moment I’m only at the “brainstorming” phase, so I still in the process of analyzing it and can’t really formulate the conclusion in the coherent way. Buuuuuuuut, so far I can enumerate several axioms of the Russia-West relations narrative.

          1) “Russia is big, has lots of resources and demonstrated time and again that it can convert this potential into power.”.

          No political elite of any other country with the great power aspirations will ever tolerate that. The fact that Russia has everything it needs to not only pursue independent policy, but also to serve as an alternative geopolitical pole is horrifying to them. Therefore, their own fears must be send downwards to their population via means of the internal propaganda (in the “liberal democracies” it is usually in the form of the “negative narrative”). And lo and behold – suddenly all shy and conscientious freedom loving taxpayers are now on board with the “power projection” and “defense of OUR national interests” across the globe.

          2) “Any Russian government during any given period of its history lacked the legitimacy”.

          First of all – these modes of government were not liberal democracies. Second – they were not sanctioned from the Western Center of Power ™ of the time period (be it Rome, London or Washington/Brussels). Third – they pursued policy contrary to the interests of the West. Ultimately, only the West is the judge of what “Regimes” are legitimate and what are not. By denying the “Regime” any legitimacy, you also cast a shadow on all its past achievements and conquests – which might be useful as the “legal” pretext of depriving Russia of any strategic potential thanks to which it might contend with the West. Cue Brzezinsky’s calls to dismember Russia even further and half(?)serious slogans of “Siberia – under international supervision!”.

          3) “Anything and anyone that harms Russian Regime is Good”.

          Hypocrisy galore. Ultimately, the West must admit that Hitler did the most damaging to his periods version of Russia, and, thus, must be not that bad (and, in fact, rather good). In our own time “freedom fighters” of a certain religious bent had, so far, most damaging to the Regime – therefore, these moderate headchoppers must also be good. The same goes to the anti-Russian cohorts in the so-called “New Europe” (aka “The Butthurt Belt of Europe”). The West is perfectly willing (yearly) to ignore this:

          but when something like that happens on their own “turf”, they go haywire


          ^ Oh, look! They even use the same brand of tiki-torches!

          Second facet of this is the encouragement of treason (yes, treason) within Russia. Because it is not really a “betrayal” when you commit a treason against a Regime. Any kind of betrayal will be forgiven.

          4) “There is no Russian people”

          There are only abstract “Russians”, which, at the moment, might mean literally anyone. “Russians” were synonymous to the Soviets in 1917-91 period, despite multi ethnic nature of the state. When the time is right to plain the “oppressiveness” of Russia (and the “Russians”), there you might play the ethnic card of the Russian nationals currently being “oppressed” – be they Jews of the Chechens. But the moment something bad happens – Boston bombers becomes uniformly “Russian”.

          Nuance of making distinctions is icky for the liberal public, so, better, deny the existence of the Russian people – they deny the existence of their own people after all. Only people sharing their views count as “people” – i.e. as humans.

          5) “Deliberate confusion and interchangeability of the terms “Russia/Regime/Government of Russia/Russians/Agents of the Regime”

          Tl;dr – I’m a priori guilty of “Posting On-Line while Russian”. I’m routinely accused (well – less now, given the amount of bans I’ve amassed over years…) of being a “Kremlin shill”, “Olgino troll”, “FSB paid agent”. C’mon, raise your hands everyone who got “How much Putin/Kremlin pays you to write this?” kind of retorts on/off line?

          [Raises hand].

          There you have it. Because (see p. 4) there could not possibly be a distinct Russian people with its own culture, interests and worldviews, any given Russian individual must OPPOSE the Regime (see p.3) because it’s pure Evil and oppress its own people, while (see p. 2) lacks any legitimacy. If, OTOH, you are not against the Regime – then you are its supporter. No – you are part of that Regime! This line of thought, lead to its logical end (and, yes, there are people who did just that among Russia’s dem shizoids), you must actively HATE Russia and harm it. Even paying taxes is a crime against the humanity, because these money fund the “aggression”. See Arkady “The Undead” Babchenko as the finest example of living in accordance with these axioms.

          Foreign/Western Russia watchers must also go down this path eventually. “Doves” claim that Russians are merely “oppressed” and that The Truth is hidden from us. Only more money for propaganda projects will de-zombify huddled Russian masses and Set them Free! But even they have to admit, bitterly, that Russians dare to be “nationalistic” (as opposed to them, who, being citizens of the Exceptional Nation, are just “patriotic”). Russians support Putin. Russians support “collective Putin” throughout history. They don’t want to destroy their country so as to deprive it from its strategic potential (see p.1) – they are more than eager to harness that potential.

          Which leaves only War as an option. If you can’t accept Russia and Russians as we are (and most of Russia watchers can’t do that – especially on the class and ethnic level), if they can’t mold and break Russia to their needs – they must choose hatred of Russia as the country and not just the “Regime”, and hatred and demonization of the Russians as the people. No dialog here – no sympathy for the Devil.

          Here I must pass the ball to your part of field. J.T., because that’s not for me to answer. What should happen to at least some parts of the Western/American people, even the so-called “society” (which is, somehow, is distinct from the “people”), so that the genuine dialog could become a possibility? What should happen for the West to start taking Russian interests into consideration, let alone admit their existence? I’m not talking about the political elites, I’m talking about common people. Is it really so important for the Americans, to dictate other nations across the globe their will? Does it really matter what laws are in existence in another hemisphere? I’m asking the “thinking part of the society”, that considers itself more “educated” and “informed”, that is oh so sure, that THEY won’t fall for propaganda and disinformation. “Free-thinking” people with the “independent opinion”, yup.

          This rant had been brought to you by the “innocuous” comment by that RusHistBlog author, that he wants to deconstruct decades of his own country’s propaganda about Russia (= totalitarian Hell). No, there is, in fact, no connection between the claim that “Russia is a monolithic totalitarian state” and “Russia is an Enemy”. Still, how could the author deliver on his promise? In the typical maximalist fashion more appropriate for the teenagers, any demand of such refutation will inevitable cause another extreme: “Oh, so it was super-duper free and liberal?!”. It was neither, but who needs nuance and context? If the simple telling of the truth, that nothing was as bad as had been claimed (“propagated”) for years would be immediately seen as the “surrender” and “apologism”. There was a need to demonize the “Regime” and for all those cartoonish portrayals of the ordinary Soviet people (who, from the Western perspective, were not really the people). Right now these reasons are still relevant in the West. “Eternal Russia” is bad simply because it is not like the West and dares to threaten its hegemony. This is Russophobia. This is Xenophobia. Dear author has it in his own head, deep rooted over the years. What he wants to accomplish, really?

          P.S. Once again, J.T. – what are “Russian Studies”? 😉

          Like

  4. Re: This.
    […]
    There is this one Russian proverb: “Начали за здравие, a кончили за упокой” (literally: “Began the sermon with the prayer for one’s health, but finished it praying for the soul of the dear departed”). This expression is widely in use in Russia even by non-religious people. E.g. – more often than not, it perfectly describes the playing style of our football team.
    Or such articles. I blame myself for getting too hopeful while reading it and forgetting the chief tenets of the great philosopher Eyore de Donkey. I got excited that someone else actually knows about the time period and its intricacies. But then:
    “Then in March 2014, the very month in which I published The Winged Horse (Legends of the Five Directions 2: East), the Russian Federation formally annexed Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin justified his land grab by insisting that “Crimea has always been part of Russia.” Yet here was my novel, set on the steppe, in which a Crimea that was very much not part of Russia played a significant role in the events—fictional and otherwise—affecting my characters’ life choices.”
    Putin’s speech on the reunion of Crimea and Russia:
    “Everything in Crimea speaks of our shared history and pride. This is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptised. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilisation and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The graves of Russian soldiers whose bravery brought Crimea into the Russian empire are also in Crimea. This is also Sevastopol – a legendary city with an outstanding history, a fortress that serves as the birthplace of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Crimea is Balaklava and Kerch, Malakhov Kurgan and Sapun Ridge. Each one of these places is dear to our hearts, symbolising Russian military glory and outstanding valour.
    Crimea is a unique blend of different peoples’ cultures and traditions. This makes it similar to Russia as a whole, where not a single ethnic group has been lost over the centuries. Russians and Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars and people of other ethnic groups have lived side by side in Crimea, retaining their own identity, traditions, languages and faith.
    Incidentally, the total population of the Crimean Peninsula today is 2.2 million people, of whom almost 1.5 million are Russians, 350,000 are Ukrainians who predominantly consider Russian their native language, and about 290,000–300,000 are Crimean Tatars, who, as the referendum has shown, also lean towards Russia.
    True, there was a time when Crimean Tatars were treated unfairly, just as a number of other peoples in the USSR. There is only one thing I can say here: millions of people of various ethnicities suffered during those repressions, and primarily Russians.
    Crimean Tatars returned to their homeland. I believe we should make all the necessary political and legislative decisions to finalise the rehabilitation of Crimean Tatars, restore them in their rights and clear their good name.
    We have great respect for people of all the ethnic groups living in Crimea. This is their common home, their motherland, and it would be right – I know the local population supports this – for Crimea to have three equal national languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar.
    Colleagues,
    In people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia. This firm conviction is based on truth and justice and was passed from generation to generation, over time, under any circumstances, despite all the dramatic changes our country went through during the entire 20th century.”

    Huh. Not quite what everyone believes Putin actually said, isn’t it? But this just shows what the people (even with degrees and academicians) believe, earnestly, fervently, without doubt or desire to check the facts. Oh, and, surely, they will be greatly offended, if you point out at their, ah, “strawman”, let alone claim that they are lying.
    “Foreign states perceived as enemies beat at the gates: Poland-Lithuania, Crimea, Kazan. And beyond Poland lies “the West”— not yet identified as such — with its Italian architects and artillery founders, its German doctors, its Greco-Latin learning and supposedly heretic religion, ready to invade and to judge.
    Perhaps not so much has changed since 1538 after all.”

    Awww!.. How cute! “Perceived” enemies! Indeed, it’s not like at that time there was Starodubets War with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (not yet Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth), which resulted in the near complete wipe out of the titular city’s (Starodubets) population that even contemporaries considered an unprecedented massacre. All contemporarily sources agree, that hetman Tarnovsky ordered to kill Russian nobles (not only low ranking gentry like dvoryane and deti boyarskiye, but even aristocratic boyars), who were defending the city, right in front of his field tent. According to the letter of Jan Dantyshek (dated December 23, 1535) to the HRE ambassador and imperial adviser Cornelius de Schepper, who was at that time in Prussian Löbau (now Lubawa), Tarnovski executed “1400 boyars”, and then ordered to kill the remainder of the garrison (city militia and proto-strieltsi musketeers), PLUS all civilians living in posad (i.e. the outer town beyond the fortress walls) – i.e. about 2000-3000 in total. But, hey – them victims were Russians, so this does not count, right? It is *Russia* that is eternally brutal – not Europe.
    Verily, verily I say unto thee – “not so much has changed since 1538 after all” (c). “Eternal Russia” ™. NY Jordan Center will never lie to you! [nod, nod]

    Like

  5. ‘Content of a shelf’ part deux:

    Like

    • The hardest part is to find an adequate translation of the “folk” name of this or that ‘shroom into English. So – sorry in advance for resorting to the heartless official Latin 😉

      From top to bottom pics:

      1) Never saw them so well preserved, i.e. not bitten/eaten by some forest critters! Definitely a “Leccinum” genus, most likely – “Leccinum vulpinum”. But I’m not sure – their bright red caps and somehow yellowish “legs” are quite confusing.

      2) Warning – a poisonous/hallucinogenic ‘shroom! If they have specific smell – then these were “Inocybe acuta”. If you found it near swamp – it could be very poisonous Galerina hypnorum) said to be widespread in Europe and N. America. But, IMHO, most it’s likely Inocybe rimosa due to it’s tell-tale white “leg”, pronounced central “dome” on the cap and stripes. Also – because it’s deadly poisonous. 😉 Or just about any inedible/potentially poisonous kind of “Mycena”.

      3) Hmm. Some kind of “опёнок” (“Hypholoma”) genus?

      4) Hard to identify given the top-only view. Could be “Leccinum scabrum” (rus. подберёзовик, eng). Was there a birch tree nearby? Or it could be a “forest champignon” (“Agaricus silvaticus) found among the pines and firs. Sadly, it could even be a poisonous Cortinarius argentatus, if it has any violet hues on its cap.

      5) They look like semi edible Phylloporus rhodoxanthus.

      6) Some kind of “Russula” genus. Were there oaks nearby? If yes, then it could be “Russula laurocerasi”

      7) Definitely a white truffle (Choiromyces meandriformis).

      Hope it was at least a bit “helpful” 🙂

      P.S. Rule of thumb – while mushrooms found in/near swamps are a mixed bunch, the ones found in the “dry” part of any given forest are all suspicious. The one’s that are outright “carrion eaters”, growing on dead/dying trees are definitely up to no good.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Please excuse the late reply – I was out of town the past few days and didn’t have many opportunities to use the computer.

        *after reading the descriptions and following hyperlinks*

        I suppose it would’ve been helpful to include size estimates and provide region information (southeastern US) in my post.

        1) This mushroom, I believe, was premature. It now looks like #5 (which you id’ed as Phylloporus rhodoxanthus).

        2) Yikes! Sounds like I need to keep the dogs away.

        3) Might also be a Veiled poisonpie (Hebeloma mesophaeum).

        4) No birch trees in my region, so probably not Leccinum scabrum. Agaricus silvaticus seems more likely, but they don’t appear until September, and my specimen was a lot more slender than any picture of Agaricus silvaticus I’ve seen. It might be another shroom in the Hebeloma family?

        5) IDK

        6) Cap seems too flat to be Russula laurocerasi.

        7) The day after I took this photo, the fungus turned brown. Might be a Brain puffball.

        Like

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