The Best Essay Ever Written About Ukraine

Being that I have a rather high opinion of some of the stuff I’ve written about Ukraine, it’s pretty impressive that I found a piece on Ukraine this amazing. Former president of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus and colleague Jiří Weigl wrote it and you can read it here, on Klaus’ website. However, it’s so fantastic that I’m going to post the entire thing, in full, in this blog entry. Note: I have preserved all errors that appeared in the original (mainly because I’m too tired to correct them). The essay was translated from Czech, so it is not flawless, but it’s still readable and understandable.

Here we go:
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Saturday Night Music: Puccini

Everyone, I am so into the “Nessun dorma” aria from Puccini’s Turandot. It’s been stuck in my head all week, so I thought I’d share my new favorite rendition.

This video—but only the first three minutes or so of it—is an excellent performance. The soloist is Rusisan tenor Vladislav Golikov.

Click here to see on YouTube.

I actually discovered this excellent singer from a performance he had with the Red Army Choir (and like a true Russophile and music lover, I adore the Red Army Choir). You can view that video here—it’s the same piece, but the sound quality is slightly worse.

I hope all of you are having a nice evening (or morning, if you’re over in Europe). And any classical music fans out there, be sure to let me know what you favorite pieces are. I’m always looking to discover new music.

Russia’s (Ignored) Militarization

This graphic, found on this diplomat’s Twitter account, is interesting yet infuriating. Let’s see how well you all know me: what do I find most infuriating about it?

Click to see larger

Click to see larger

No, it’s not that Russian military expenditures rose and the United States’ dropped (though that is annoying—I want my country to spend properly on defense, too). It’s the headline of the graphic: “The world missed Russia’s militarization!” I’ve been calling Russia a strong, rising power for, oh, just about six years now. (Cut me some slack: back in 2003 I was in middle school and didn’t know anything about current events. No one knew back then that I was a future Russia specialist, least of all me!)

For years, people scoffed and didn’t listen to me when I told them that Russia is a once and future world power and should be respected as such. “It’s demographically in the toilet!” they told me. “Why are you bothering to learn Russian? Study Arabic or Chinese instead!” Then suddenly all this stuff in Ukraine erupts and the whole world wakes up to a rising Russia.

The curse of being ahead of one’s time is watching one’s predictions come true while getting none of the credit for predicting it.

What Bankers Talk About

I think I’ve officially gone over to the dark side and become a true banker, everyone. Today I talked about my credit card limit with my account manager at the bank. Apparently, this is what I talk about during lunchtime phone calls now…

Scared

I just posted my first multilingual blog post ever and it is so, so bad. My written Russian is worse than I thought! And now I’m actually afraid of the feedback I’ll get because I probably chose the wrong words for everything.

Speaking a foreign language is so much easier than writing it.

First Week

Well, I survived my first week at work. It was a bit strange, because I feel like I got paid to do nothing. We are in the training phase of our program, so the only actual thing we did was a presentation. That was fun, but was internal so we could show off our knowledge of the company.

A few other observations:

  • My company is massive! It’s a subsidiary of a multinational conglomerate and we have a ton of employees all around the world.
  • The management really want us to like the company. Almost every day, we had people come in to talk to us and extol the virtues of the company. I think we’re all very proud to be there after hearing so much about how great it is…
  • I don’t want to reveal too many details about this company, so I’ve dubbed it The Bank for the time being. Unless I come up with a different nickname, I’m going with this. My manager is all about people expressing themselves on social media, but I still don’t feel comfortable doing that under my own name or naming the company itself on this blog.

One nice thing about an actual job (as opposed to school) is not being expected to work after hours. In other words: no homework! This weekend, I don’t have to think about anything work-related if I don’t want to. And, of course, there’s the whole getting paid thing. I haven’t been paid yet, but I’m looking forward to my first paycheck in a couple of weeks.

Note: this is my first multilingual blog post ever. I think the Russian version is very, very bad. I have almost no experience writing longish pieces in Russian and my vocabulary and expression are unfortunately lacking. Please, correct my many mistakes. And if you’re learning Russian, don’t use my post as an example of actual good writing, because it isn’t.

Ну, я выжила первую неделю на работе. Это чуть-чуть странно—мне кажется, что мне заплатили за то, что ничего не делала! В программе мы тренируем, и мы только сделали презентацию. Она мне понравилась, но она была внутренной, чтобы мы показали знание о компании.

Несколько другие соображения:

  • Компания очень крупная! Она—дочернее общество транснационального конгломерата и у нас есть работники во всем мире.
  • Менеджменту очень хочется, чтобы мы любим компанию. Почти каждого дня, к нам приходят людей, чтобы говорить с нами и похвалить компанию. Я думаю, что мы все очень гордимся работать туда после того, как мы слушали о величии компании…
  • Я не хочу рассказать много деталях об этой компании, так как я давала ей прозвище «Банк». Если не я даю другое прозвище, у компании есть такое прозвище. Мой менеджер очень любит социальные сети, но мне не удобно писать в каких сети под ФИО или назвать компанию в этом блоге.

Хороший факт о настоящей работе (в отличие от университета)—мне не надо работать после того, как рабочий день закончился. Другим словами: нет домашнего задания! На этой неделе, мне не нужно думать о работе, если не хочу. И конечно, есть зарплата. Я все еще не получила зарплату, но я жду ее с нетерпением через пару недели.

How The Soviet Union Could Have Won The Cold War

Wow, it’s been eleven days since I last wrote! That’s what happens when you pack up your stuff, move, and start a brand-new job. I’ve been getting used to getting up and going to work and I’m still trying to fit blogging into my new schedule. Anyway, I am back, attempting to get a regular posting schedule again.

Historian Tom Nichols has a great article on five ways the Soviet Union could have won the Cold War. In this case, he defines “won” as meaning:

Or at the least, could the Soviet Union have survived until today, and remained a viable competitor to the United States while celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 2017, or the centennial of the founding of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 2022?

Considering that there are still a very large number of people in the world who wholeheartedly embrace the murderous ideology that is Communism, I’m not wholly convinced that the Soviet Union did lose the Cold War. Yes, the country splintered, but the ideology survives around the world. That’s a post for another day, though.

Of course, Tom’s article leaves us with this thought:

I think the Soviet Union fell because the Soviet idea was as insanely unworkable as the Nazi, Imperial Japanese, Napoleonic and other dreams of imperial conquest. (U.S. policy played a role, too, especially in determining whether the USSR collapsed inward or exploded outward.) The Soviet Union, as former Soviet officer and later Russian historian Dmitri Volkogonov once put it, was hatched by a bunch of vicious but ineffectual intellectuals who had no idea how to govern a country. Soon, they turned on each other and eventually, the revolution ate its own children.

It’s a great article, so go read it.