• Russia,  Weirdness

    Russian Weirdness

    From the AJC (again)

    Woman’s 12th Baby Weighs Over 17-Pounds
    A small Russian city just got a really big addition: a 17-pound, 1 ounce baby whose mother had already delivered 11 other children.

    Tatiana Khalina, 42, delivered the girl by Caesarean section at a maternity clinic in Aleisk, a town of 30,000 people in the Altai region in southern Siberia, a nurse at the clinic said Thursday.

    The Guinness Book of World Records says the heaviest baby ever was born in the United States in 1879. It weighed 23 pounds, 12 ounces and died 11 hours after birth. Guinness says they heaviest surviving baby was born in 1955 in Italy, weighing in at 22 pounds, 8 ounces.

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  • Russia

    That crazy Putin

    From a slighly hysterical article on

    Equality, to Putin, means no more patronizing lectures from the West on Russia’s history—or its dismal human-rights record. Russia, he believes, has nothing to be ashamed of. As he told a group of visiting teachers last month, foreigners “must not be allowed to impose a feeling of guilt on us—after all, we did not use nuclear weapons against a civilian population [like the United States in Nagasaki].”

    The two data points he seems to be using for this comparison are America 1776 to 1945, and Russia from February to late April. Curiously unmentioned is the 50% of Chechens that were killed in the 1990s. Oh well. Russia is always going to be Russia I guess.

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  • Adages,  America,  Middle East,  Military,  Politics,  Public Choice,  Quotes,  Russia

    Wars in the Middle East are officially a vested interest

    I read this article on

    White House taps general for ‘war czar’ post
    President Bush has chosen Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the Pentagon’s director of operations, to oversee the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as a “war czar” after a long search for new leadership, administration officials said Tuesday.

    In the newly created position, Lute would serve as an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser, and would also maintain his military status and rank as a three-star general, according to a Pentagon official.

    and was reminded of this Albert Jay Nock quote:

    Experience has made it clear beyond doubt or peradventure that prohibition in the United States is not a moral issue; it is not essentially, even, a political issue; it is a vested interest.

    and this H.L. Mencken quote:

    The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flop-houses and disturbing the peace.

    We have this horrible tendency in our culture to see the means (a big new bureaucracy) as an end in itself, nay, an achievement. What endeavor has failed because there are too few managers? The right managers, sure, lots of failures due to a lack of them. But too few?

    Plus an additional bureaucracy just creates it’s own principal-agent and knowledge problems.

    Functionally Lute will probably serve as a dedicated adviser, but why the title Czar? All of the Russian Czars were an odd combination of stagnant, incompetent and murderous. Why is that some role model.


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  • Russia,  Terrorism

    Notably absent

    I haven’t heard of any acts of terrorism in Russia lately. Lots of state repression, yes, but no terrorism. In 2004 there were several plane hijacking and the Beslan mass murder. And then nothing.

    Granted, Russia has moved a long way to dictatorship (making terrorism less effective) in that period, and secret policing is something they do well. It’s still odd though. It’s not as if the Chechens would become more peaceful in last three years.

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  • History,  Russia,  Soviet

    The Great Siberian Ice March

    Somehow I wound up on this page on WikiPedia and found it fascinating. During the Russian Civil War in the late teen and early 20s, the Red Army was chasing the White Army across Siberia, specifically Lake Baikal had to escape across the frozen lake in sub-zero temperatures.

    the Arctic winds that blow unobstructed across the lake froze many in the army and their families to death. The bodies remained frozen on the lake in a kind of tableau throughout the winter of 1919 until the arrival of summer, when the frozen figures and all their possessions disappeared in 8,000 feet of water.

    Does anyone know of a good history of the Russian Civil War? I don’t know of any notable works on the topic.

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  • BigThink,  History,  Iraq,  Russia

    Interesting from the Belmont Club

    Whilst perusing Wretchard’s thoughts on the current state of Iraq

    Philip Bobbitt argued in his book, the Shield of Achilles, that Napoleon’s strategic revolution consisted in fielding armies so large that any sovereign who opposed him would, in matching the size of his force, be compelled to wager the entire State, and not simply a wedge of territory in confronting him. Napoleon’s campaigns were designed to kill enemy armies — and thereby enemy states. What Napoleon failed to realize in his 1812 campaign against Russia was that the Tsarist state was so primitive that the destruction of its army simply did not mean the corresponding demise of its state. Like the proverbial dinosaur of pulp fiction, Russia had no central nervous system to destroy and lumbered on, like the bullet-riddled monster of horror stories, impervious to the Grand Armee. What Russia had on its side was chaos as epitomized by its savage winters.

    Saddamite Iraq, like most terrorist-supporting states threatening the world today, are like the landscape of 1812 in that they were cauldrons of anarchy given a semblance of shape by fragile, yet brutal shroud-like states.

    Most of what I’ve read actually suggests that Napoleon’s brilliance was in organization of his armies, not his actual command or tactics. In Russia, he was captured by not seeing a qualitative difference between Russia and the rest of Europe. Unlike the Nazi Germany, (who did see Russia accurately, but bungled the strategy) the problem was that he did not conceive of Russia properly.

    Needed – software that helps in conception via clever use of 3D motion graphics.

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  • Adages,  Funny,  Quotes,  Russia

    Joke of the moment

    From a Reason article on the future of Russia.

    Answering a question about the future of democracy in Russia, Shevtsova said: “To add some optimism to my conclusions, I’ve got my favorite joke that, it seems to me, reflects the ambiguity of our democratic movement.

    A sick man is picked up by an ambulance. He asks the doctor, ‘Doctor, where are you taking me?’ The doctor replies, ‘To the morgue.’ The man says, ‘But I’m not dead yet!’ The doctor says, ‘But we’re not there yet.’”

    If this is Russian-style optimism, I’d hate to see what the pessimism looks like.

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  • Russia


    I have no idea what to make of this. Russia does seem to be on quite a slide though, even with high oil prices. The rest of the former Soviet block seem to be doing better, at least anecdotally.