Wednesday, March 21, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Feast, po Russki

Picture time again.

After getting a (very) little work done, I made a complete mess of my kitchen last Saturday afternoon.
 In order to make this, my mother's recipe for Irish stew. What, you ask, is so Irish about it? Well, let's just say that there is an entire bottle of the finist product of the St. James Gate brewery in Dublin in there, along with beef and veggies and other good things.
And some more in this cake, which I did not make, but I enjoyed immensely. Thanks, Kristy!

And now that I've put this up here, I realize that I failed to take a picture of the great friends who joined in the eating and provided refreshment and great company.

Nonetheless, thanks for coming to share in the fun!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Madness

Some pictures of Moscow, for your enjoyment.

First, how I know that, if spring is not yet upon us, at least winter is coming to a close:
The GUM / Red Square outdoor skating rink coming down.

Who can find the one-hit wonder?

Salsa to go with a little March Madness? Don't mind if I do!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 10 "For Fair Elections," Part II

I've got no brilliant commentary to add, but I do have a few pictures. Mostly we stood way in the back, near a screen that was replicating what was happening on the stage, which was about a half-mile further down Novyi Arbat. This time was a little odd because they confined the crowd to one side, an open plaza - pedestrian area. What this did mean, however, is that once we decided to get clear of the crowd, we walked down the other side of the street and got a look at the larger crowd at the front, near the stage.

"Robocop cleans our Detroit of theives and liars."

Robocop is against 'slave-cops.' [Anyone have a better way to translate that one?]

Hey, an actual picture of me on my blog. That doesn't happen often.

This is Udaltsov, the "Left Front" leader. He called for a million people to march on May Day.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 10 "For Fair Elections"

I don't have time to write full impressions right now, and frankly, others saw and know more than me. However, there is one aspect of today's "meeting" on Novyi Arbat that I do find interesting and even encouraging.

While the speeches and slogans from the stage are all well and good, their reception is at best difficult to gauge and, more often, lukewarm. However, I am encouraged by the range of political goals and views represented in the crowd. This includes not only the widely publicized homemade signs, but also the retail politics happening at the level of person-to-person interactions.

This is one of the few places I have ever seen people openly advocating their political views, seeking signatures for petitions, and distributing literature. This includes not only election related issues, but also various non-election-related reform initiatives, social problems, and political platforms from the left to the nationalist. It is, truly, retail politics in public, in person-to-person interaction.

I think that this is a process of taking opposition politics from Internet-savvy few, among whom political debate has been developing in recent years, into the street. More than the slogans and the rallies themselves, this development might offer a way forward to building a movement that the opposition's leaders seems to be unable to build themselves at present.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The 8th of March

Since I am not at the archives today, I have the time to explain why I am not at the archives today.

Today is the 8th of March, or International Women's Day. In fact, this is the 100th International Women's Day, as it was first celebrated by the socialist movement in Russia in 1912 and 1913. International Women's Day in 1917--March 8th by the Gregorian calendar, but still February by the Julian calendar in use in Russia--was the spark of the first, February Revolution in Petrograd.

It was an official holiday in the Soviet Union throughout its existence, although the practice of making it a non-working day dates, apparently and not a little oddly, only from 1965. It has spread to other countries, mostly but not exclusively those with a history of communist rule. In Russia it is colloquially termed "March 8th" and the most common gesture is to give the women in your life flowers. In fact, you can't walk anywhere today without people selling flowers, carrying flowers, delivering flowers.

In fact, it's a nice tradition in my opinion because it expressly celebrates all women, including friends, coworkers, and others, not only women only as mothers or partners as is the case with the respective American holidays.

On the other hand, much like Mothers' Day and Valentines Day, the danger is that by devoting one day to them, we forget to express our appreciation for others the rest of the year.

So, do something nice for the women in your life today, on March 8th, but also don't about the people who are important to you on June 8 or September 8, too.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


I don't really have anything to say about the elections more than is being said in the media. The independent media and blogs here are reporting widespread violations of rights and election law, but frankly, they were not decisive in the result. I do, however, have two comment-questions:

The first is this: why bother? Why do the powers-that-be condone, if not personally prepare, these election-day schenanigans, if they know full well based on pre-election polling, that Putin was already well over 50% anyway? I'm certain that it says something about the mentality behind metaphorical Kremlin walls. However, it seems to me to be a poor estimate of the cost-benefit result on the image of Russian democracy, and Putin personally, among both the citizens of the RF and global opinion--not that the world is paying close attention.

Second, what now for the small but significant minority who have been activated over the last several months? Slide back into apathy? Perhaps from some, but for many with whom I've spoken recently - and these not necessarily the most active and passionate opponents - that seems unlikely. At the same time, where do they go? Into Navalnyi's anti-corruption battle? Into creating independent parties? Into something entirely different and unexpected?

Only time will tell.

As the Russians say, "как раз," Putin is about to speak to his victory rally on Manezhnoi. Who knew that the Who ca. 1971 would be the best explanation for Russian politics ca. 2012?

"Meet the new boss,
Same as the old boss."