Welcome!

Dear Readers:

Welcome to Awful Avalanche, here is my blog concept and what I do [updated 6 January 2019]:

My blogposts are written in English.  I review content mostly from the Russian-language online press, in search of stories which interest me.  From time to time I venture out and review other things, for example, opera or movies!

My target audience:  Russophiles, or anybody else who is interested.

As my blog concept evolved, it contains content divided into the following categories:

  • Animal Rights
  • Art Criticism
  • Ballet
  • Breaking News
  • Cat Fighting
  • Celebrity Gossip
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Friendship of Peoples
  • Human Dignity
  • Humor
  • Linguistics
  • Medicine and Health
  • Military and War
  • Navalniana
  • Opera
  • Popular Culture
  • Religion
  • Russian History
  • Sex and Spy Scandals
  • Space, Science and Technology
  • Sports
  • The Great Game
  • True Crime

I hope you read and enjoy my posts!

Sincerely yours,

yalensis

Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments

Zelensky As Noah: A Prophecy For Crimea

Dear Readers:

In my previous post I stated that Ukrainian President Zelensky was not funny even when he was a professional clown.  But I admit I have to retract that statement, it was unfair because I had not seen any of his comic oeuvres, and especially after seeing this sketch (below) that Zelensky produced in 2014 — actually, more like a short film (18 minutes long), in conjunction with a Ukrainian comedy collective called Kvartal-95.  The sketch is, a the same time, a parody of the Hollywood blockbuster “Noah“, as well as a satirical treatment of the Ukrainian Nationalist penchant to rewrite all of ancient history in their favor.

The sketch is called “Not Noah” (which also means “Stop whining” in Russian).  Zelensky, showing good acting as well as comedic skills, hilariously portrays the Biblical patriarch Noah (Russian Ной – pronounced Noy).  In this ensemble, Zelensky is backed by a female comic who acts as the straight man; a male comic in drag portraying the mother-in-law; and an off-scene voice (of God) who delivers both straight lines and punchlines.

I had to admit that Zelensky is a funny guy.

The sketch is quite funny, and even rather brilliant in certain ways.  It certainly ticked off a lot of Ukrainians at the time, especially the svidomites and the oh-so-pious ones who take their Bibles literally.  The premise is that the Ukrainian nation is very old, dating back to Biblical times; and that Noah was the “first Ukrainian on the planet”.

A lot of Jewish literature and humor involves the notion of challenging the Biblical God.  Which Zelensky does here, to perfection.  In his conversations with God, Noah speaks a heavily accented surzhik (khokhol) dialect; whereas God replies in perfect Russian!  I wish I comprehended surzhik better so that I could get all the rapid-fire jokes tossed out at us.  Humor-wise, this is what I would call broad, Jewish-type shtick (English people used to call this type of humor “end of the pier”), with rampant mother-in-law jokes, drug jokes, ethnic jokes, quite a lot of misogyny, but also clever ripostes at religion and mocking the silliness of the Bible stories.  None of this would be permissible in “Western” culture any more.

The comedy collective of Kvartal 95.

But here is the main thing, from a Russian point of view:  There is an ironic geopolitical moment towards the end, as you shall see.  I’ll save that for my punchline.  The sketch, and the irony, were brought to my attention when I came across this piece by reporter Olga Nikitina.  President Zelensky is called a prophet and urged to listen to his former self from 2014.  You’ll see why!

For the benefit of my non-Russian-speaking readers, I hereby recap the sketch, I recommend they set up two sessions on the computer, flip back and forth and watch the video, alongside my summary.  I stipulate that I don’t really know surzhik to the ear, but I try to translate the best I can.

In The Beginning….

As the sketch starts, subtitles inform us that, as Ternopol scholars have explained, all of mankind has descended from proto-Ukrainians.  The first Ukrainian was Noah.  (Or “not Noah”.)

Noah, in his primitive hut (or cave), is sleeping and snoring in a drunken stupor, alongside his wife.  God wakes him up by repeatedly out his name in a booming and authoritative voice:  “Noah!  Noah!”

“Who’s that?!”  “This is God!” God informs him, speaking in Russian.  Noah:  “Can you keep it down a bit?  Can’t you see that my wife is sleeping?”  God:  “Noah!  A flood is about to engulf the world.  People need to be punished.  Everyone will perish.  Only you, Noah, will be spared.”  Noah:  “Why me?”  God:  “Because you are righteous.  I chose you among all people because you have led a virtuous life.”

[Noah stealthily tosses away his rum bottle.]

“That’s for starters,” God continues.  Secondly, you are a very good person.”  Noah:  “Oh wait a sec, can you give me a moment to wake up my wife, I want her to hear this…”  Wife just groans and rolls over.

God continues:  “Your virtuous deeds have brought you holy fame.  And your name will be immortalized in the Book.”

Noah:  “I don’t have time to read books…”  God:  “Shut up and listen!”  Noah:  “Okay, okay…”  Eventually God gets to his point:  “You must construct a wooden ark 200 meters in length  and 50 in height…”  God goes on to specify the dimensions and construction materials in great detail…

Noah is not thrilled.  He is basically a lazy man, and realizes that this will be quite a lot of work for him.  “I have a better idea, can’t you just snap your fingers and boil everyone alive instead.  Sparing me, of course.”

God:  “A flood is more effective.” 

Noah: “Here’s another idea, can’t you just snap your fingers and build the ark yourself?  You don’t need me…”

God yells at him.  NO!  HE HAS TO BUILD THE ARK!

Noah decides on a different approach.  With  that cunning-peasant look in his eye, he demands some kind of proof that God is really who He says He is.  What kind of proof?  “Well, for example, you could make my mother-in-law stand up and walk.”  “She can walk already.”  “I know, but I could specify where exactly she goes.”  [nice setup for a mother-in-law joke!] God yells at him again and keeps hammering on about the ark.

Next God tells him that he has to load up the boat with two of each type of creature.  Noah:  “Fantastic!  That means I don’t have to take my mother-in-law, because there is only one of that type of creature.”  God:  “Noah, I could snap my fingers and make it so there are two of her!” Noah:  “Thanks, never mind, that’s okay.

“Just to make sure I am understanding the plan….” Noah recaps.  As he lists off the bullet points [unpleasant bit of slapstick here] Noah breaks 4 fingers on his sleeping wife’s hand, ticking them off:  “One:  I have to build a boat.  Two:  Fill it up with animals, just like the Kiev Zoo.  Three:  Ah!  What am I supposed to feed them?”  God:  “You don’t need to feed them.”  Noah:  “Aha, just like the Kiev Zoo.  Four:  Never mind, there is no four.”

Noah has one final request:  “God, can I take my beloved with me on the boat?”  God:  “Of course!”  “And my wife?” “Noah!” God roars at him.  “Fine, fine... I’ll bring the bear… [referring to his wife] I get it…”

The Ark [4:20 minutes in]

The first part of this section, between the three comics, is in surzhik dialect, so I don’t necessarily get all the jokes.  Noah is building a model ark that is clearly out of proportions.  His wife and mother-in-law [clearly a man in drag, and if I didn’t know better I would swear that was Benny Hill come back from the grave!] come to find out what he’s doing.  His mother-in-law, Alla Australopithekovna, berates him mercilessly.  Wife: “Noah, do you want to tell us what you’re doing here?”  He explains to the two women that God came to him in a beam of light and spoke to him; told him about a great flood that is to come and wipe out humanity.  Only he, Noah, will be spared, because he is such a wonderful and righteous man.  [Mother-in-law rolls her eyes.]  Afterwards, he will be the ruler of the world, and his descendants will inherit the Earth.  Mother-in-law shoves him rudely and makes a sarcastic remark.

Wife:  “Mama!  But what if it’s all true?”  Mother-in-Law:  “Why do you even listen to this alcoholic?”  Wife:  “Mama!  But we will be saved, right?”  Noah:  “Of course.  But just you and me.  We’ll leave your mother behind.”  Wife objects to this, at her teary pleading Noah agrees to bring mother-in-law along with them, but she will have to live in a separate cabin which he will build for her.  Noah:  “Fine, we’ll bring your mom.  In a way, I have to thank her, because I needed a container in which to carry two moths, two lice, and two tapeworms.”

In the Jewish tradition, man is allowed to challenge God, but rarely wins the debate.

Noah sits down to have a bit of rest and smoke his pipe; interrupted by God’s booming voice again:  “Noah!  Noah!”  God wants to know what he is smoking.  “It’s Frankincense.” “Don’t lie to me, is that grass?!”  Noah:  “You can’t blame me that they haven’t invented tobacco yet…”  [Footnote:   Zelensky was accused, during his presidential campaign, of being a drug user.  Being in show business at the time, that goes without saying…]

God:  “Noah, I see that you have been selling tickets for the Ark.”  “Me?  No!  I mean, yes, but not expensive ones…  I mean, just enough to cover my expenses…”  “Noah!  I explicitly told you that you alone will be saved from the flood.”  Noah:  “I know that, but they don’t know that [chuckles].”  God:  “Noah!  Are you actually a Ukrainian?”  Noah [dithering]:  “Well, on my papa’s side, of course…”  [Hava Nagila plays in the background.]  God bursts out laughing.  [Inside joke here is that Zelensky is half Jewish, on his mother’s side which, according to Jewish law, makes him fully Jewish.]  Noah gets suspicious and challenges God again:  “Are you actually God?  Maybe just some trick, speaking through a microphone…”  “No!  I am God!”

Noah:  “Then prove it!”  “Well, I could make it start raining…”  “That’s too easy, you could be up there on the balcony and dribbling some water down…  Seriously!  What are you capable of?”  “I could make it rain toads, I could release clouds of locusts…”  Noah:  “Fine, but release them over that way, on the territory of my neighbor.”  God:  “Noah, you are too cruel.”  Noah:  “ME cruel?  Look who’s talking!  Somebody who wants to rain toads, release clouds of locusts and plague on everyone.”  [yalensis:  to my view, this was the funniest bit in the whole sketch.  I love the look on Zel’s face when he goes:  ME Cruel?  I literally laughed my ass off.]

God:  “Stop bugging me, and start loading those animals into your ark [pun using the same verb gruzit with two different meanings].  Also, it wouldn’t hurt you to toss a couple of joints on that fiery altar and share some of that fragrant smoke…”  God gets high and starts chuckling uncontrollably.

On-Boarding [8:50 minutes in]

Once again Noah in a drunken stupor, this time with a woman who is not his wife.  God comes to him in a beam of light and rouses him again:  “Noah!  Noah!  Are you drunk again?”  “A little bit.  I had to attend a function.”  “What kind of function?”  “The christening of a child of a friend.”  God:  “What is a christening?”  Noah:  “You mean you didn’t get the memo?” [bit of Jewish-Christian humor there…]

“Are we there yet?”

God wants to know what’s with the girl.  Noah:  “Lord, you forbade me to sell tickets to the Ark, but I gave some away for free, and people just want to thank me, in their own way…”  “I don’t understand, you want to take her with you?”  “No, no, not at all.  I don’t need her any more after last night… One little request…  Could we put this flood off for 400-500 years?”  God:  “NO!  Get your things together and get into the Ark!”

The storm begins with lightning and rain.  With clipboard in hand, Noah officiously proceeds to board the animals.  “Proceed in an orderly fashion, two by two.  Elephants!  Giraffes! Lions!  Monkeys!  Mammoths!  Cats!  Goats!  Camels!”  [There is some slapstick involving giraffes hitting their heads on the low ceilings, and camels spitting all over Noah.]

Some bit in surzhik involving Noah and his wife, and what he did with her mom.  “When I locked her in her cabin she scratched her name on the wall… with two mistakes in spelling.”

Life On Board [12:30 minutes in]

Noah and wife enjoying the cruising life, petting the goats and spitting out sunflower seeds.  Suddenly they are alarmed by a loud noise; Mother-in-law emerges from the hold, all wet and ripping mad.  Even when saved from certain death, she expects to be treated like a human being.  Noah stuffs a rag in her mouth to shut her up.

Noah looks out the porthole:  “Land!”  Some slapstick comedy ensues as the boat comes crashing onto the shores of Mount Ararat.  Inhabitants of the Ark start rejoining.  A setup for some mild ethnic humor:  A guy yelling at them from outside, speaking Russian in a thick Armenian accent:  “Beep beep, turn around and go away, this is my land!”

Russian ethnic stereotype of Armenian gangster, who is usually named “Ashot” or “Ashotik”

Noah [roars]:  “I’m Noah!”

“You think so?  I’m Noah’s son-in-law. Get out of here, or I’ll call Ashotik.”

Noah appeals to a higher authority:  “God!”

God (in annoyed tone):  “What?”  Noah:  “What do you mean, what? — you told me there was going to be a flood, and that everybody was going to die except for me, alone.  And now there’s this Noah’s son-in-law, and he’s going to sic Ashot on me.”

God:  “Well, what do you want me to do?  He has a lot of connections in high places.  But never mind, I have prepared for you an earthly paradise to the North and West of here…”

Cry Me A Punchline [15:05 minutes in]

Noah and his family end up in a beautiful paradise, a green meadow with wavy grasses and flowers.  Noah:  “God?”  God (benevolently):  “Yes, yes.”  God appears to them in a beam of sunshine.  Noah:  “God, thank you for this beautiful land.  What do you want me to do for you in return?”  “Be fruitful and multiply…. Noah, you will be the founder of a new race of humans.”

According to God, Noah only gets the blue part, from the Carpathian Mountains to the Dnipr River.

Noah:  “I am at your service.  Do me a favor and tell me, what is my nationality?

God:  “You are a khokhol.”

Noah:  “Well, thank goodness I am not a Moskal.”

God:  “Noah.  These are the borders of your land.  Do you see that mountain over there?  That’s your mountain.  It’s called Hoverla.  And do you see that river over there?  That is your river.  It’s called the Dnipr.  These are the boundaries of your territory.”  Noah:  “Great.  [pointing]  Lord, what about that peninsula over there?”

[Drumroll… Get ready for the punchline]

God:  “Never mind about that, it’s not important.”

[Rimshot]

Noah:  “One final thing.  Are there useful minerals or natural resources on this land?”  God:  “What did you have in mind?  Noah:  “Well, for example, porridge, like my mother-in-law makes…. Okay, I know that’s not a mineral, nor is it useful….  What about oil?  “No oil, that will go the Avars.”  “What about gas?” “That’s for the Russians.”  Noah: “What about gemstones?”  God:  “Gemstones are for the Africans.”

Noah:  What kind of country doesn’t have anything in it?”

God:  “This great country is called the Ukraine!”

Noah:  “Wife, collect the animals, we’re getting out of here, we have been deceived…”

God:  “Stop, stop!  Okay, I’ll give you gemstones.  I’ll give you oil…  Okay, I’ll give you gas.”

Noah:  “Never mind.  You don’t need to give us anything.  Even though you are God, you don’t understand us [soaring emotions].  We have our souls, our big hearts…. You don’t need to give us anything, instead we will give things to you.”

God (skeptically):  “And what could you give me?”

Noah:  “Take my mother-in-law…”

[ends in chaos]



The Prophecy

The main Russia punchline, of course, and worthy of a rimshot, is that bit where God tells Noah to forget about that “peninsula”, Crimea of course!  Like Homer Simpson says, it’s funny because it’s true.

Aksynov: Doesn’t know much about art, but knows what he doesn’t like.

Now that he is President of the Ukraine, Zelensky has to pretend that “Crimea is ours” and that the khokhols will get it back from Russia, eventually.  In response, the actual leader of the Crimea Republic, Sergei Aksyonov, reminded Zelensky on his social media page, of this 6-year-old sketch, and how God himself advised Zelensky to “forget about Crimea”.  All the more so, after Crimeans voted overwhelmingly (90%) for the new Russian Constitution.  Among whose provisions, will NEVER allow Crimea to be given away again.

Aksyonov adds that Zelensky fully understands that Crimea belongs to Russia, but has to pretend otherwise.  Zelensky has to speak lines written by foreign producers, and act parts in scenarios crafted by “Western directors”, meaning the United States, of course.  “What can you do?” Aksyonov concludes.  “Such is the life of an artist.”

Actually, a true artist would have almost total freedom of expression.  All the more so, a jester, who, by universal custom, is endowed with the right to speak truth to power.  And Zelensky used to be a jester; and quite a good one too.  But now, alas, the joke is on him!

[THE END… of the world in fire, flood, plague and giant moths…]

Posted in Celebrity Gossip, Humor | Tagged | Leave a comment

Zelensky Not Perturbed By Nazi Billboards In Kherson

Dear Readers:

Today I have this piece from RIA, the reporter is Vladimir Kornilov.  This happened yesterday, June 30, which is celebrated by Ukrainian Nationalists as their Independence Day.  Specifically, it is the anniversary of the “Act of Restoration of Ukrainian Statehood” on June 30, 1941, by the Nazis.  That was when the Nazi quisling, Stepan Bandera, published his proclamation declaring himself the leader of the Nazi puppet government. Until recently this glorious holiday was kept somewhat muted and celebrated mainly in Galicia.  With the hanging of the Banderite red-black banners and all type of pompous celebrations, including patriotic activities for schoolchildren.

But this year, the holiday spread from Galicia and into southern Ukraine, specifically the region of Kherson.  Billboards were set up, congratulating the citizenry with the glorious anniversary of this Banderite proclamation.  The Mayor of Kherson, Vladimir Mikolaenko, personally congratulated the citizenry and wished them a wonderful holiday.

The billboards are notable for their complete brazenness and lack of subtlety regarding the Nazi origins of this holiday.  There is not the usual mealy-mouthed waffling about how “Bandera fought against Communists and Nazis alike…”  Which lies are still peddled in Ukrainian textbooks for children.  No, things have gone too far for that in the public space.

This image of the “Independent Ukraine” newspaper published by the Banderites is too blurry to read, but if you switch to the image in the RIA link itself, they have circled in red the key words here:

Point #3:  The new Ukrainian state will collaborate closely with the Great National Socialist Germany, under their leader Adolph Hitler… Will fight together with our ally the German army against the Muscovite occupation….

That’s just history, right?  But here’s the thing:  The billboards hung up in Kherson last week displayed images of this proclamation, and didn’t even bother to black out Hitler’s name!  That’s just how honest things have gotten in the contemporary Ukraine.  (In a way, it’s like a breath of fresh air!)

June 30, 1941

The Nazis had just occupied Lvov, bringing with them in tow Ukrainian collaborationists, such as Roman Shukhevych and Andrei Melnik, whom they intended to install as Gauleiters over the Ukrainians.  The Shukhevych “Nightingale” regiment immediately set about, along with the Banderite activists of the OUN, exterminating the local Jews, as many as they could get their hands on.  There was some office politics going on, behind the scenes, between Shukhevych and Bandera, with the latter eager to proclaim himself as the Nazi puppet.  This explains the haste with which Bandera published the “proclamation” naming himself as the leader, even though he wasn’t necessarily the first choice of the Nazis themselves.

Here is a more complete translation of the Act of Restoration announcement:

The restored Ukrainian state will cooperate closely with National-Socialist Greater Germany, which, under the direction of its leader Adolph HITLER, is creating a new world order in Europe and the world at large, and which is helping the Ukrainian people to free itself out from under Muscovite occupation.  The Ukrainian National Revolutionary Army, which is being created on Ukrainian soil, will fight alongside the ALLIED GERMAN ARMY against Muscovite occupation, and for a sovereign collective state and a new world order.

Bandera aspired to be the Nazi capo in the Ukraine.

The reporter notes that the words HITLER and ALLIED GERMAN ARMY were denoted by a special font even in the original… that way there could be left no doubt in anyone’s mind exactly who and what these Banderites were.

Up until now, the above phrases about Hitler and the German army were usually blacked out or elided over when quoting this proclamation.  Making it sound like the Ukraine had simply declared its independence from the USSR.  For the sake of ignorant rubes in other countries, the Banderites continued, over the decades, to peddle the myth that their hero fought “against Communists and Nazis” with equal ardor.  Ukrainian Nationalists were the  anti-totalitarians, the pure-hearted Knights who couldn’t get along with anybody else.  Russians and Ukrainians always knew that was a lie, of course; but the lie was for the benefit of the Ignorami and foreign Idiocracy.

But now it seems the Ukrainian Nationalists aren’t even bothering any more with the old deception.  Well, there was a tiny effort, to be sure.  On the Kherson billboards some cunning decorator placed a blue-yellow ribbon in such a way that it partially hid the word “Hitler”, other than that microscopic maneuver, it’s all out there in the open.

But What Does Zelensky Think?

Here is the most piquant part of the story:  These Kherson billboards praising Hitler and the German army, were hung up just one day prior to President Zelensky’s visit to those parts.  It is no secret that Zelensky is Jewish; but the sight of the billboards apparently did not bother him in the slightest.  Nor did he display any cognitive dissonance when he visited the local synagogue, boasting, “In the Ukraine, the level of anti-Semitism is very low.”  Apparently Zelensky is unaware that on that day, in 1941, when the Banderites declared their loyalty to Hitler, they also declared:  “We shall create a militia which will get rid of the Jews and defend the population.”

And so it came to pass.  The militia was created and arrived in Lvov; and what ensued was perhaps the most vicious anti-Jewish pogrom in all of history.  All of it captured on film and in photos which must come with warnings and should never be viewed by children, although Ukrainian children also participated gleefully in the pogroms.

Zelensky: The Jewish Cardinal of a Nazi state

To this day, Ukrainian Banderites peddle the myth that they had nothing to do with this unpleasantness; that the Lvov Jews were butchered by the Nazis.  But this is a lie.  The fact is, the German Nazis were horrified by the sheer bestiality of the Ukrainians.  The Germans were cruel people themselves, but what they saw in Lvov simply went beyond any limit.

The reporter asks the rhetorical question:  Does Zelensky actually know anything about this history?  About these atrocities?  As this man strolls about the city of Kherson and smiles at the billboards which praise those horrific events of June 30, 1941?  This is what Zelensky once had to say about Bandera:  “For some Ukrainians he is a hero — and that’s fine.”  How very tolerant of him!  Some people also think it’s okay to rape and mutilate women in the streets of Lvov, as happened on June 30, 1941.

Ukrainian Nationalist are not the only apologists for unseemly violence. Russian “Liberals” (kreakles; dissidents), who idolize the Ukrainian Nationalists, were initially skeptical of Zelensky when he was elected; they mostly supported his opponent Poroshenko and distrusted Zelensky, believing him to be secretly pro-Russian.  However, Zelensky has since won them over by declaring (in relation to renaming a street after Bandera):  “It doesn’t matter what a street is called, so long as it is well lit and properly asphalted.”

Oh really?  If it doesn’t matter what a street is called, then why rename it in the first place?  Might as well name it “Adolph Hitler Street” and that would be the most honest thing to do.

Once a clown…

Zelensky is not really kidding anyone.  Underneath these bland “neutral” proclamations he is abetting and nurturing the Nationalists and the Hitlerites.  And the latter can point to him and say, “See, we have a Jewish President, so we’re not anti-Semites.”  He is a perfect cover for them.

A still unknown question:  Is Zelensky absolutely and totally aware of what he is doing; is he knowingly playing a political game? or is he just stupid?  Perhaps he is the counter-example to that old stereotype about Jews being smart?  After all, the guy is literally a clown.  And unlike Russia’s President Putin, who has literally written well-researched books, I don’t see anywhere that Zelensky ever wrote a book or even a monograph; or anything other than dumb comedy sketches which aren’t even that funny.

Posted in Russian History | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Breaking News: Fighting Breaks Out On Russia-China Border

Dear Readers:

Haha – gotcha!  Okay, my title is blatant click-bait, and also highly misleading — but it’s not fake news!  Please allow me to explain.  Today I have this short but exciting piece by reporter Alina Nazarova, which describes bear-on-bear violence at the Russia-China border.  I don’t have a blog category set up for “Bear Fighting”, so I put it under “Cat Fighting”.  Close enough, especially since the backstory involves Siberian Amur Tigers.

First let us set the scene:  Way out East, in distant Siberia, there is this thing called the “Jewish Autonomous Oblast”, where the Soviet Union once set aside a Yiddish-speaking enclave for Jews who wanted their own homeland, but preferred Siberia to Israel.  (Not too many customers, but that’s okay.)  The Jewish AO still exists, is located just South of the Amur Oblast and helps to form the border between Russia and China.

So, nu, in Birobidzhan there is an animal-watching organization whose job is to observe the activities of Amur Tigers.  Unbeknownst to the tigers, these cat-lovers installed a secret video camera right along Tiger Path, and very close to the barbed wire fence that separates Russia from China.  The striped talent normally stroll along this path very calmly and without causing any trouble, producing good video content.

Imagine the surprise of the humans when they monitored some video feed and saw — instead of tigers — two massive bears!  Approaching each other from either side of the border, a Russian bear and a Chinese bear decided to stage a fight.  And then just went at each other, as recorded in the vid (you’ll have to watch the watch from the posted link, as it is not on youtube).

an Amur Tiger

As you can see, one of the bears just tears through the wire fence and can’t wait to get his paws on the other bear.  Nobody knows why these two bears were so mad at each other.

The Blow By Blow

Let’s call the bear on the left (as we observe them) Bear #1 and the one on the right Bear #2.  You have to watch very closely to see who does what.  This might sound racist, but I can’t tell the difference between the bears:  They both look exactly alike to me.  Which is why it’s difficult to figure out who’s on top. The bears spot each other and come up to the border.  They glare at each other with gleaming demonic eyes.  They grapple.

A typical Russian bear

Bear #1 roars and breaks through the fence.  Bear #2 responds with an uppercut.  Bear #1 gets #2 in a half-nelson, but then #2 throws him to the ground and gets on top, for the takedown.  Bear #2 looks directly at the camera and roars.  He thinks he won.  But wait!  Next comes the reversal.  They grapple some more.  Next they switch sides on the mat and move to opposite sides of the border.  The Russian bear ends up in China; and vice versa.  They continue to parry and play peek-a-boo, and then … the feed cuts out.  According to the Tiger people, these bears, in the course of the fight, destroyed all the expensive cameras and equipment.  Sadly, we do not know who actually won the fight, so we’ll have to call it a draw.

The Tiger-Watching people point out that animals such as tigers and bears, do not carry passports, and are not subject to migration protocols; hence they are allowed to cross the Russia-Chinese border, in either direction, any time they please.  And there are plenty of open crossing points, it was just not expected, nor condoned, that they should destroy the fence and the equipment.  One technician remarked sadly:  “We don’t know who won the fight, but those bears sure did a job on our fence!”

Posted in Animal Rights, Breaking News, Cat Fighting, Humor | Tagged | 8 Comments

Russian Colonists And The Tearing Down Of Statues – Part II

Dear Readers:

Continuing with this rather interesting piece by Russian reporters Valery Voronov and Natalia Makarova.  The lede, of course, is that certain American “activists” want to remove the statue of a man named Alexander Baranov, from its perch in Sitka, Alaska.  To my knowledge, nobody has vandalized the statue, they are just asking politely to have it taken away.

On the Pacific coastline, Sitka is marked with a red star.

Sitka, Alaska, a coastal town with a population of around 8,000 souls, used to be the capital of the Russian territories in the Pacific Northwest.  Before the Russian government sold these territories to the United States (in 1867), the town was called Novo-Arkhangelsk.  Last Friday (that would be June 26), the Municipal Administrator of Sitka, a man named John Leach, reported that a group of local residents have demanded that the statue of Alexander Baranov be removed.  Baranov was the Chief Manager of the Russian-American Company during the years 1790-1818 and acted as the de-factor Governor of Alaska.  Baranov’s enterprise was a typical Trading/Colonial Company of that era, and somewhat unusual for Russia, albeit not unique, as the Russian Tsarist government occasionally allied with private businesses to open up new trade routes, for example in Siberia as well.

Who Was Alexander Baranov?

Sitka Municipal Administrator, John Leach

Alexander Baranov was a native of Arkhangelsk, Russia.  A talented businessman and explorer, in 1799 he founded Fort Novo-Arkhangelsk on what is now Sitka; and also several other fort-posts in other areas.  His mission statement was to make a ton of money trading furs.  The Russian government encouraged and helped him; what was in it for them?  Big tax revenues!  In 1812 Baranov penetrated even farther to the South and founded Fort Ross, in California.  To this day, the island on which the town of Sitka is located, is still called Baranov Island.

The statue of Baranov has been sitting calmly in downtown Sitka since 1989, when it was donated to the city by local residents.  However recently, caught up in the furor of the Cultural Revolution and Statue Demolitions, as Administrator Leach has reported, certain dissatisfied residents have labelled the statue as “an offense to the feelings of the indigenous peoples”.  Sitka Mayor Gary Paxton has proposed a compromise measure:  to leave the statue of Baranov in place, but also, in the interests of fair and balanced, to erect a statue to a notable representative of the Tlingit Nation.  The Tlingit being the native Americans against whom Baranov crossed swords a few times, according to scholar Boris Mezhuev, who studies American history:

Sitka Mayor Gary Paxton: Proposed a compromise.

“There were many attacks against Fort Novo-Arkhangelsk,” according to Mezhuev.  “[The Russian colonists] were there to hunt for furs.  (This was before gold was discovered in Alaska.)  There were conflicts [with the indigenous peoples], as frequently happens when new lands are colonized.  In 1802 the Tlingit captured and destroyed the fort, but after a series of battles, which came to be known as the Russia-Tlingit War, the fort was rebuilt.  In the wonderful novel by Konstantin Badigin, Shipwreck at the Island of Hope, which I read in my childhood, there is a very detailed account of the conflicts between Baranov and the local population.  And these conflicts did break out rather frequently.  In this regard, Russians are not an exception [to other European nations], although it should be pointed out, that [Russians] were better people in many ways.  In Alaska, there was no full-out genocide of the local Indians, as happened in the Midwest [American states].”  Indeed of the current approximately 740K residents of Alaska, 88K consist of indigenous Indians:  Tlingit, Inuit, and Aleuts.  And that’s because the Russians didn’t kill them, except during battles.

Americanist Boris Mezhuev

When asked if there is Russophobia involved in this Baranov statue thing, Mezhuev thinks not.  “I don’t see a direct attack against Russians here, because even [Christopher] Columbus has been subjected to these crowd strikes.”

Popular Russian TV talk show host, Vladimir Soloviev, believes that the American people have simply gone stark-raving mad in recent weeks:  “I don’t know if there is a limit to this [demolishing of statues], if there will come a point when Americans themselves will say, Enough!”  Soloviev blames the anarchy on Americans lack of a good education.  “I wouldn’t even call this leftist radicalism, it’s more of a problem for Freud to solve.  This is an attempt to war against one’s own past, once one discovers that the past was so horrible.”

In conclusion…. My humble thoughts

Ibsen’s Wild Duck: Teenagers need to learn how to handle unpleasant truths about their family’s and nation’s past.

I can’t believe I am saying this, but I think that the pompous Soloviev is onto something here.  A lot of Americans, especially younger Americans, once they got into college and started learning the real history of America, then they find out that everything they had been taught in Middle School was a lie.  And they simply can’t handle the truth, so it drives them into a frenzy.  I personally know a young college-age American woman, striving for a degree in European Literature, who said to me:  “Now I can’t read classical literature any more, because I found out it’s all racist and sexist.  I can’t read or watch anything, or listen to classical music, there is nothing left… I’m so miserable…”  I tried to tell her that she could still read and enjoy all that great stuff, just install a second processor-brain to put it all in context – presto!  But she was too distraught to listen to my great advice, so there is probably no hope for her at this point…  This kid might just have to run outside and beat her little fists against the hooves of somebody’s equestrian statue…

[THE END … of all culture as we know it?]

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Russian Colonists And The Tearing Down Of Statues – Part I

No refuge could save
The hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
(Much Forgotten 3rd verse of the Star-Spangled Banner, by Francis Scott Key)

Francis Scott Key: American patriot, racist activist, and talented song-writer.

Dear Readers:

Today I have this rather interesting piece by Russian reporters Valery Voronov and Natalia Makarova.  The title is:  “Alaska Has Begun The War Against Its Russian Past”, and concerns an attempt to take down a statue (in the Alaskan town of Sitka) of Russian explorer/colonist Alexander Baranov.  In the course of reviewing this piece, we shall learn some interesting facts about Russian and Alaskan history of that era.

This story obviously relates to the current, ongoing “Cultural Revolution” in the U.S., in which activists are attacking various statues.  In some cases, right on target (i.e., the Confederate generals and heroes); in other cases, wildly off base and possibly revealing a shocking ignorance of history and culture.  For example, what did Spanish humanist writer Miguel de Cervantes ever do to them?  Other than maybe compel some of these C-students to write a term paper for Spanish class they didn’t want to write?  The vandals are attacking so many innocent statues now, that one is forced to give them a word of advice:  Why not adopt the method that was used in ancient Rome?  When somebody important fell out of favor (for example, Caligula), they didn’t destroy the whole statue, they just removed the head and replaced it with a different head.  For example, George Floyd’s bronzed head.  But save the old head, just in case.  That way you don’t completely burn your bridges, so to speak.

Miguel Cervantes, author of the humanist classic “Don Quixote”

Meanwhile, some other barbaric idiot tore down a statue of President Ulysses S. Grant, who did more than any human being, excepting President Abraham Lincoln himself (and not to mention Harriet Beecher Stowe, the “little lady who started the Great War”), to free Southern blacks from their chains.  Oh wait!  Turns out Grant once owned a slave (that was given to him, and he promptly freed), and maybe used the n-word a couple of times.  Shocking!  Those factors obviously negate his willingness to stand in front of cannons and shed his own blood to free the ancestors of today’s  African American families.  Plus, the “little lady” Stowe was also known to use the n-word (many times) in her book, so I reckon her statue is next on the chopping block.  Despite the fact that she sheltered runaway slaves and wrote a book that has inspired millions of people all around the world, translated into virtually every language.  But who cares about actual accomplishments, nowadays?

Once again, with these Snowflake Activists (and the worst offenders are as white as an actual snowflake, just sayin’), it’s all about “personal feelings” and “inner virtue” rather than actual deeds.  Ignoring the admonition of Jesus himself, “By their fruits ye shall know them,” these modern Puritans would punish people (and statues) for their “impure thoughts” rather than celebrate heroes for their courageous deeds.  If they had ever picked up a book in their life (Karl Marx, for example), then they might know that racism as a system is quite a different animal than being holier-than-thou.

Cousin Ophelia vows to make a decent and productive woman out of juvenile delinquent Topsy.

Next, take Francis Scott Key.  Please!  Okay, in this case the activists got the right guy, but for the wrong reasons.  The problem with Key is not that he owned a couple of slaves.  That should not be a factor necessarily.  Hey, in the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Augustine St. Clare’s Northern Abolitionist Cousin Ophelia ends up “owning” the little girl slave, Topsy, but Ophelia is still a good person, mostly.  Actually, I take that back, Ophelia is a very flawed human being.  Overly stern, grim, judgmental, a typical “Northern racist” of the type who wants to abolish slavery, but can’t stand to be around black people.  Eventually, as in any buddy movie, her troubled relationship with Topsy changes her for the better.  Hey, we’re all flawed human beings, right?  Nobody is perfect.  Except for saintly Little Eva, of course.

But back to Key.  Let us not roast him for owning slaves.  Let us roast him for a different reason…  See, the problem with Key is that his hatred for black people was not just a personal preference, and not just an actual ideology, but also guided his actions in the course of the war.  By his fruits ye shall know him!  See, when Key penned his famous song, it was done to threaten former slaves who had decided (reasonably enough, from their own point of view) to take their chances with the English army:

The Marines were a battalion of runaway slaves who joined with the British Royal Army in exchange for their freedom. The Marines were not only a terrifying example of what slaves would do if given the chance, but also a repudiation of the white superiority that men like Key were so invested in.

All of these ideas and concepts came together around Aug. 24, 1814, at the Battle of Bladensburg, where Key, who was serving as a lieutenant at the time, ran into a battalion of Colonial Marines. His troops were taken to the woodshed by the very black folks he disdained, and he fled back to his home in Georgetown to lick his wounds. The British troops, emboldened by their victory in Bladensburg, then marched into Washington, D.C., burning the Library of Congress, the Capitol Building and the White House. You can imagine that Key was very much in his feelings seeing black soldiers trampling on the city he so desperately loved.

Belt it out, Sister! And try to nail those high notes!

A few weeks later, in September of 1815, far from being a captive, Key was on a British boat begging for the release of one of his friends, a doctor named William Beanes. Key was on the boat waiting to see if the British would release his friend when he observed the bloody battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Sept. 13, 1814. America lost the battle but managed to inflict heavy casualties on the British in the process. This inspired Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” right then and there, but no one remembers that he wrote a full third stanza decrying the former slaves who were now working for the British army…

In other words, America’s national anthem, which, admittedly, is a musical masterpiece, quite a cut above the usual drone-like nationalist hymns, was written explicitly to troll those African slaves who dared to fight for their freedom against American “patriot” founding fathers!  Which makes it doubly hilarious when you see African-American musical celebrities belting it out at baseball games, hands over beating hearts, and bringing the Idiot-American mob to tears of patriotic ecstasy.

Okay, I know I am being mean to everyone here.  Both patriots and anti-patriots.  But I have a constructive suggestion.  The current debate over the American National Anthem proposes to replace it with a different song.  Internet People have come up with many ideas, but, to my knowledge, nobody has proposed the obvious replacement:  “John Brown’s Body“, aka “The Battle Hymn Of the Republic“.  Musically, it is equal and even superior to, Key’s composition, and is politically correct to boot.  Elegant solution to a tricky problem.  You’re welcome.

But enough of this Culture Revolution nonsense, at least where the Mainland is concerned, now it is time to move on to the Russian theme, as we ply our oars and sail North to Alaska…

[to be continued]

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More Wire-tapped Poroshenko Biden Conversations – Part II

Dear Readers:

The Poroshenko-Biden wiretap story took an amusing turn as laid out in this piece, by reporter Nikolai Storozhenko.  Russians and Ukrainians, plus those who follow this whole language issue, will get why this story is so funny.  Or maybe, not so much funny, as ironic.

Recall that Ukrainian politician and Rada Deputy Andrei Derkach dug up some incriminating evidence against ex-President Poroshenko, in the form of wiretapped telephone conversations (in 2016) with then Vice President Joe Biden.  The evidence was turned over to the Ukrainian Investigative Committee (IC), led by Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova.  The charge of the IC is to figure out (1) where the tape came from, (2) if it is authentic, and (3) if so, then how many crimes did Poroshenko commit in the space of these conversations?  The IC kept calling Poroshenko into questioning, and he kept evading them, for weeks and months, until they just ran out of patience with him.

Venediktova: “That man will not return my calls!”

And then finally he showed up, and the hilarity began…  But first a quick paragraph of exposition for those not familiar with the political backstory.  So, in a nutshell…  The former Ukrainian regime of Poroshenko was in very tight with the Obama Administration, and also interfered rather blatantly in the 2016 election, throwing their support to Hillary Clinton.  When Trump won (to everyone’s astonishment), the Ukrainians found themselves on the wrong side of history.  New Ukrainian Prez Zelensky has sought to mend fences and curry favor with the Trump regime.  Nobody in their right mind doubts, that Trump is applying pressure on the Ukrainian government to dig up more and more dirt on Biden.  Hence the recent maneuvers, and the leaking of the taped conversation.

So, now back to the fun part:  What happened when ex-Prez Poroshenko finally showed up, after procrastinating for almost a whole YEAR and wasting everybody’s time?  For months he refused to show up to defend himself, and even just spat on the entire process.  Eventually the IC lost patience and presented their first real charge against the ex-President.  Apparently they have no less than TWENTY active cases against him!  This first case is not even their best shot.  It’s a relatively minor case involving Poroshenko’s appointment of a man named Sergei Semochko, to head the Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence Service (СВР).  Apparently Semochko is suspected of corruption, but who cares?  This story isn’t about him.

Sergei Semochko

But maybe something about the Semochko case finally got Poroshenko’s attention.  It rattled him so much that he decided to bring reinforcements.  So, earlier this month, on June 10, late in the evening, Poroshenko appeared in the offices of the General Prosecutor, accompanied by a group of  supporters.  These masked men [little joke there], just bust into Venediktova’s office and threatened her.  (Or, as she put it, “attempted to apply pressure”.)  According to some eye-witnesses, people at the meeting were astonished to see that Poroshenko had lost a lot of weight in the past year.  Which he needed to do, because this behemoth used to have a huge body  and massive fleshy hands like pigs trotters.

According to other eye-witnesses, the now-svelte Poroshenko initially laid into Venediktova with a stream of Surzhik, the national dialect of the Ukraine (which Ukrainian patriots consider to be the Holy of Holies).  But then, the more agitated he got, he suddenly switched into pure standard Russian as can be seen in this Smartphone recording of the event.

Why Language Is Important

The rest of the article explains why this incident is more than just a curiosity, since Poroshenko had quite a lot to do with the criminalizing of the Russian language in the Ukraine.  (The reporter lists a series of anti-Russian language laws that were passed during his regime.)

The reporter then traces Poroshenko’s roots:  They are indeed an old Russian family, with roots (that can be traced back to 1835) in the geographical areas of Bessarabia and Novorossiya.  Poroshenko’s ancestors were classified as “Little Russian petty-bourgeois” (малороссийские мещане), and some explanation is required here:

There is still confusion among some under-educated people, about the terms “Great Russia” (referring to Russia proper) and “Little Russia” (referring to Ukraine and Belorussia).  These terms, historically, do not denote superiority or inferiority.  In fact, quite the opposite.  These terms are calques from the Greek magna- and micro- as in “Greater Greece” (Magna Graecia), namely the islands and colonies; vs “Micro Greece”, as in the core, the heart of the homeland.  You will see those terms employed in relation to other geographical entities, for example Micronesia.  Or, in English as “Greater”, as in “the Greater Boston area”, etc.  The equivalent Russian words are “great” (veliky) and “small” (malo).  Historically, “Little Russia” (“MaloRossiya”) refers to the core of the historical Rus, which was around the area of Kiev.  Hence, MaloRossiya is and was the heartland of the Russian people, and Russia proper came to be known as “The Greater Russia”, or Velikaya Rus by Ivan Grozny times.

And also immortalized in the Soviet anthem, that stanza about “an indestructible union of free republics was put together by Great Russia“, is not really flattering Russia by calling it “Great”, just stating a geographical and historical fact.  Should probably be translated as “Greater Russia“, in fact.

Poroshenko family auditions for a new series of “The Godfather”

So, back to the Poroshenko family.  They were of the petty-bourgeois class native to Little Russia; whose people have ALWAYS regarded themselves as Russians.  Until the time came when they were told they were Ukrainians.  And that Russians are evil.

Poroshenko himself has always gotten a lot of flak from the Ukrainian nationalists, due to his Russian-speaking children and their apparent obliviousness to the notion that all Russians are vile and inferior creatures.  Elder son Alexei, who was once spotted wearing a “Russia” football shirt, married a Russian girl from St. Petersburg.  Despite clothing his offspring in embroidered blouses, Poroshenko Père has never been able to completely hide the fact that this is a Russian family, which speaks Russian at home, as their domestic means of communication.  Here is a Poroshenko stump speech from April of last year, addressed to the Russian speaking people of Eastern Ukraine, when he was on the campaign trail and losing badly to the clown Zelensky:

“Nobody is going to take away your right to speak Russian.  I am a Russian speaker myself, I have said this many times, that for me it is absolutely natural to speak in Russian.  In fact, I don’t want anyone to have any illusions:  Prior to 1997 I couldn’t speak a word of Ukrainian.”

This confession did not help Poroshenko win the election.  But explains why he naturally falls back on his mother tongue, when under duress.  The reporter only laments that Vendiktova did not have the presence of mind to scold him like a schoolteacher: «Українською, будь ласка!»

[THE END]

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More Wire-tapped Poroshenko Biden Conversations – Part I

Dear Readers:

I am 4 days late with this story from June 22, but that’s not too bad, I reckon, given the mass of important things going on in the world.  This current story is a continuation of an earlier “leak” of a wiretapped telephone conversation between Ukrainian ex-President Poroshenko and American ex-Vice President Joseph Biden.  The conversations took place in 2016, when Vice-President Biden served as President Obama’s Proconsul over the Ukrainian fiefdom.

Loyal Readers may remember that I “covered” this story, in this earlier post, when Rada Deputy Andrei Derkach published Part I of the wiretap transcript.  So, this current story is Part II, as Derkach has published more goodies from the tape.  For reasons of fairness, Russian media stipulate that Poroshenko claims the entire tape is a fake and a forgery.  (But everybody knows he’s lying!)  For starters:  NEVER talk on the phone to a Ukrainian politician.  Every phone call in the Ukraine is wiretapped, people are always listening in on everybody else’s business, especially the politicians, and more than one has been burned this way; that’s just the way it is over there.  Nonetheless, the RIA reporter tosses the word якобы (“allegedly”) before the subject and predicate of every sentence; that way he can’t get sued for libel!

We learned in Part I of the published tape, how Biden bribed Poroshenko into firing Ukrainian General Prosecutor Viktor Shokin. That was the big news a couple of months back, and caused a sensation, even though it was something knowledgeable people already knew about.  “We received Part 2 of the tape,” Derkach notes, “and have relayed it to the Investigative Committee.”  Channel 112 of Ukrainian TV played the tapes for the public.  Derkach himself had to appear before the investigators to explain how he got his hands on the tapes.  He told them he got them from journalists.  [Obviously, he can’t reveal his sources.]

Content of the new tape:  Biden [or a man with exactly Biden’s voice] discusses the possible firing of a man named Andrei Kobolev, who is (was?) the head of Ukraine’s state-owned oil and gas firm, Naftogaz.  Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladimir Hroisman has insisted that Kobolev has to go.  Biden is opposed to this firing:  “In Europe, Kobolev’s firing might be perceived as a problem,” Biden remarks.  “I hope that you can convince [Hroisman] to put the brakes on this possible firing.” Poroshenko [or a man with exactly Poroshenko’s voice] agrees that Kobolev gets to keep his job.

Andrei Kobolev: To fire or not to fire.

Next topic:  The IMF’s demand to raise tariffs and taxes among the Ukrainian population.  Poroshenko promises Biden that he will apply pressure to the government, to make sure they comply with all the demands of the International Monetary Fund [to crush the life out of the Ukrainian people].

Next topic:  The two men discuss the candidacy of Yury Lutsenko to be the next General Prosecutor (replacing Shokin).

Next topic:  The two men discuss the possible nationalization of PrivatBank.  This move is opposed by the bank’s former owner, Igor Kolomoisky.

Next topic:  The two men discuss the case of a man named Alexander Onishchenko, an ex-Deputy of the Rada.  Ukrainian and American secret services, including the CIA, are collaborating together on this case.  Poroshenko thanks Biden for the refusal of the American government to collaborate with Onishchenko.  Biden reassures Poroshenko that the FBI has no intention of collaborating with that bad person Onishchenko.

Alexander Romanovich Onishchenko

Sidebar on who the heck is Onishchenko?

Alexander Romanovich Onishchenko
was a Rada Deputy from the Party of Regions and then, a year later, from the People’s Will Party.  He fled from the Ukraine in 2016 when presented with criminal charges and was on the point of being arrested.  Was accused of corruption and embezzlement to the tune of 100 million Euros.  Is currently on the lam, but claims he is being persecuted for political reasons.   Onishchenko is a prominent businessman and also competes in horse dressage competitions.  People in the know say that he is pretty good with the equines.

Next topic:  The two men discuss Yatseniuk, the ex-Prime Minister of the Ukraine.  Poroshenko begs Biden to make it clear to Yats that the [American?] government supports the Minsk Process [of attempting to regulate the conflict in the Donbass] and supports the policies of the President [Poroshenko?].  After Yats had resigned his post, Poroshenko allegedly reassured Biden that “we got nothing on him, and we will defend him.”

Ukraine’s Prosecutie General, Irina Venediktova

That’s pretty much it, for the content of the tape.  The article concludes with the information that the Ukrainian General Prosecutor Irina Venediktova is investigating both the contents of the tape; and how it came to be, both of which are highly illegal.  Poroshenko was called in for questioning, several times, and kept procrastinating and cavalierly refusing to show up when summoned.  I think I read in some other piece that he did finally come in, though, for questioning.  And seemed more humble, and perhaps even nervous…

Oh wait, I just found that piece!  Here is the link, this is actually pretty funny story in itself.  Because when under duress, after he was finally forced to appear before the investigators, Poroshenko, in his panic, suddenly lost his ability to speak in Surzhyk (the national dialect of patriotic Ukrainians) and started gibbering away in the purest Russian on the face of the planet.

I’ll translate that piece tomorrow, if I have time.

[to be continued]

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Russia Rushes To Produce Covid Vaccine

Dear Readers:

Today I have this piece by reporter Anton Antonov.  Russian doctors and medical researchers are working around the clock to come up with a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus.  And, the great thing about it is that they are being completely open and transparent about their approach and methodology.  Unlike Westie researchers, who are being secretive and sly.  (For obvious reasons:  somebody stands to make BILLIONS!)

Nikolai Gamaleya

This according to a man named Alexander Ginzburg, who is the Director of the National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, named after N.F. Gamaleya.  This Institute is located in Moscow, on Gamaleya Street.  This Gamaleya, by the way, refers to a man named Nikolai Fyodorovich Gamaleya (1859-1949), an honored Russian/Soviet epidemiologist and bacteriologist who pioneered many vaccines.  Both the street and the Institute are named after this outstanding scientist.

Anyhow, Ginzburg complains that the specialists abroad are not being as open and transparent as their Russian colleagues.  I mean, everybody is trying to achieve the same thing:  a functional vaccine against the coronavirus, right?  “Our colleagues from other countries are not fully sharing the technological decisions that they are making.  In fact, the scientific community does not even fully understand their approach.”

WE INTERRUPT THIS STORY FOR BREAKING NEWS!

Before proceeding with Ginzburg’s remarks on the Russian methodology, I have this breaking news piece about the first human test subjects for the Russian vaccine.  This first (Russian) human trial took place at Sechenovsky University on 18 June, involving 18 volunteers.  A second group of 20 volunteers has just started the second set of trials (yesterday, June 23).

Sechenovsky University

The story does not clarify if all 18 test subjects were given the experimental Coronavirus vaccine, or some given a placebo.  (I am guessing the former.)  They received their injections on June 18.  After a few hours, some of the subjects reported a mild mild fever and a headache.  But after a day or so, they started feeling better, according Elena Smolyarchuk, who heads the Clinical Research Section.  The volunteers are all living in isolation at the clinic, one or two to a room, constantly monitored by doctors and researchers, and also provided with psychological support, if needed.  At the same time, the volunteers are being worked by Physical Therapists, and are expected to work out in the gym, so as not to get hypertrophic or put on weight during their isolation.

Returning to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Back to the Ginzburg story:  Now that we know the experimental vaccine did not kill the volunteers, we can delve more into its structure.  Ginzburg:  “The approach that we are using is based on the creation of adeno-virus containers as the delivery system of the needed gene.  In this case, it’s the gene which codes the protein for the well-known corona that gives the coronavirus its name.”  Ginzburg estimates that the vaccine will provide immunity that lasts for at least two years, or possibly even longer.  The vaccine will require two separate shots [a first one, and a booster].

Russian public health officials intend to vaccinate the entire Russian population.  They will need a minimum of 70 million doses.  “This is an unprecedented task.”  The Russian government is already taking measures to get the process in motion that will support mass production of the vaccine.  Vaccinations might start as early as the fall.

Ginzburg adds that the test systems worked out by the Gamaleya Institute, will permit accurate monitoring of the vaccine’s effectiveness on each person.  They will be taking plasma from each patient and studying it.  The time is getting close, when the vaccine is ready to be registered, and the mass inoculations about to begin.   Who wants to go first?

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Russian Inuit: Don’t worry, you can still eat an Eskimo Pie!

Dear Readers:

Today I have this piece by reporter Alexei Degtyarev.  The backstory, for those who have not heard it, is that the Dreyer Corporation has made a decision to retire the brand name “Eskimo Pie“, in reference to their delicious ice cream bar on a stick.

“We are committed to being a part of the solution on racial equality, and recognize the term is derogatory,” Elizabell Marquez, head of marketing at Dreyer’s Grand, said in a statement.

It was decided that the word “Eskimo” is a derogatory reference to a people whose real name is Inuit.  The traditional packaging features a smiling Inuit boy wearing a fur coat and other traditional Inuit garb.  This move to ban the word “Eskimo” is obviously related to the current movement, in the wake of the George Floyd killing, to get rid of anything that might be deemed as racist or offensive; not just to African Americans, but also to indigenous peoples of the Americas.

According to wiki, the term “Eskimo” derives etymologically from from an Innu-Aiman word ayas̆kimew meaning “a person who laces his snowshoes”.  It’s not derogatory per se, but it was not the name the Inuit called themselves; rather, there was some confusion, as often happens when explorers get to know other people and often misunderstand what they call themselves.  And the Inuit themselves have made it clear they don’t want to be called “Eskimos”, so their wishes should be respected, regardless whether the word is mean or not.

Inuit people speak a continuum of related dialects grouped together as the Eskimo-Aleut language.  Comparative Linguists have not been able definitively to build genealogies relating this language to any other language groups, in terms of common inheritance.  In other words, the language is just a mystery, its roots obviously going deep into the past, but all the clues of its ancestry long gone.  Morphologically, this language is classified as Polysynthetic.  This results in very long words, with a single word being a whole sentence, for example the Yupik word tuntussuqatarniksaitengqiggtuq (“He had not yet said again that he was going to hunt reindeer.”)  The Inuit tribes span the borders of several nations, primarily Canada, the U.S. (=Alaska), and Russia.  And also Greenland.  Their body of government is called the “Inuit Circumpolar Council”, as it operates in a circle around the North Pole.

On the Siberian side, the Russian Inuits and Yupiks live in Chukotka, which is a subject of the Russian Federation.

Next we meet a Russian/Inuit lady named Natalia Radunovich, a scholar who has compiled a comprehensive Russian- Eskimo Dictionary.  According to Natalia, Russian Inuits don’t really care, and don’t have an opinion on the matter of the ice cream bar.  However, Natalia gives a different etymology (from the wiki one) of the word Eskimo:

For the Inuit of Canada and Alaska, possibly the word Eskimo sounds derogatory.  The word comes from a phrase meaning “Those who eat raw meat.”  They [=the Inuit] lived side by side with [American] Indians; and the latter gave them that name, due to the fact that they eat freshly frozen meat.  And then that term spread also to the Asiatic Eskimos.  Which is why our fellow countrymen [=Russian Inuit] push for the term of Inuit instead.

Beautiful Russian Inuit ladies.

On the other hand, she says, the word “Eskimo” is not, in and of itself, derogatory to the people of Chukotka.  “But since we belong to an international organization, then we, along with the Inuit of Alaska, Canada and Greenland, want people to start calling us Inuit instead of Eskimos.  The word itself Eskimo, has been in use for a long time and no longer has any association with the concept of people who eat raw meat.  In fact, it is now associated with a sweet and tasty ice cream.  Therefore I don’t see any problem with using it in that context.

“We are Inuit.  The ice cream is Eskimo.  And so it shall be.  And the fact that [the package] shows a picture of a person in a hooded fur coat, that is not demeaning at all.  At least we, the Eskimos [sic!] of Russia and Chukotka, do not feel demeaned by this,” Natalia concluded.

In conclusion:  What’s in a name?  After Dreyer changes the name of their confection, a fudge-covered vanilla bar would still taste as sweet.  (And goes well with a nice cappuccino, just my personal opinion.)

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Mark Dougan’s Thoughts On American Protests – Part III

Dear Readers:

Today concluding my translation of this interview with Mark Dougan.  A former American cop who now lives in Russia.  Please be aware that this interview is now a couple of weeks old, so the events are somewhat out of date.  I’m just doing this so that people can get a clear picture of Dougan’s thinking.  Which coincides, by the way, with majority Russian public opinion on this American matter.  And also, as I suspect, with white American “silent majority” public opinion, although I could be wrong about that.

Lenta:  Let us return to the patrol cop, Derek Chauvin.  He has already been fired from his job.  How does it seem to you?  Will this appease the rioters?

Dougan:  No.  The fact is, that Floyd’s death was just the catalyst, and not the cause, of the disorders.  Those people who currently participate [in the protests] will try any excuse to continue burning buildings and killing people.  They are just using the death of this guy as a cover, in order to morally justify themselves for their participation in the rioting and the looting of stores.

The main participants of these events — are the residents of the poorer neighborhoods of the large cities, primarily African-Americans.  They have learned how to fight for their rights, but they have forgotten how to work [yalensis:  Ouch!], which has formulated a specific worldview in their minds.  They have become accustomed to simply waiting for the government to give them everything that they want.  And when that doesn’t happen, then they start doing what we see now.

Lenta:  Currently the police are bringing in special units as reinforcements, even the National Guard has been mobilized.  What do you think — are these measures justified, or do they just provoke the street movement even more?

Dougan:  It’s not even about Floyd’s death any more, it’s a rebellion against the government.  It is necessary to restore law and order to the cities which are literally burning down.  In the States it is necessary to gather the forces to struggle against marauding and looting, and to use force more decisively [when necessary].  The various governments (of the U.S.) really don’t have a choice in this matter, since there is practically a civil war going on.  Real battles are taking place in the streets.

Lenta:  In other words, President Trump’s decision to bring in the military to reestablish order, was justified?

Dougan:  I think that is the only way to restore law and order, otherwise in America there soon won’t be any cities left standing.

Lenta:  It’s obvious that America will be able, in one way or another, to curb the disorders and rebellions.  But what, in your opinion, should be done to make sure they don’t happen again?

Some protesters fell out of love with America.

Dougan:  I’m not sure what we can do.  But we must try to make that enormous portion of the population that is currently marginalized, once again want to become a part of American society.  People in America today are very divided, we need to find a way to make them a united whole once again.  [yalensis: haha!]  What we have today is a gruesome spectacle.

Let’s just come out and say it:  A significant portion of the African-American population despises whites.  You can call me a racist if you like, but that problem is just not going away.  The riots and disorders which are currently taking place in the U.S., have led to the fact that whites who didn’t use to hate blacks, are now starting to.

I mean, you can’t expect to go around burning other peoples homes, looting their cafes and stores, and not expect a backlash.  Which means we have the objective seeds for a further degeneration of the situation.  I just don’t see a handy solution to this problem.

Lenta:  Maybe it would help if somebody could create additional jobs for these people?

Dougan:  That by itself will not help.  [yalensis:  WHAT?!]  We also need to change the psychology of a large number of aggressive people, so that they could start to think more constructively.  [yalensis:  Lotsa luck with that…]  Otherwise they will not go to work in these new jobs, even if they were to be created.  [yalensis:  Well, let’s try it and see…]

White and Black cops frequently become good buddies.

Lenta:  And yet we see many Latino-Americans among the American police force, as well as people of Asiatic origins, African-Americans, the children of migrants from Eastern Europe.  Do inter-ethnic divisions have any influence within the police collectives?

Dougan:  As a rule there is absolutely no racial prejudice going on within the collective.  But there are certain problems associated with certain assumptions that African-American cops have towards whites.  On the other hand, African-American cops are certainly not marginalized.  Their lives have meaning, which is why they cherish their situation; in a word, they are socialized.

To be sure, African-Americans wearing the uniform frequently encounter difficulties when dealing with civilian African-Americans:  the latter stop regarding the former as one of their own.  I don’t recall ever seeing this issue with cops in other countries; factually, this is just an American phenomenon.  But what to do about it:  Nobody knows.

[THE END]

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