Category Archives: Uncategorized

Poll Finds Muscovites Fed Up With Giant Spiders

MOSCOW- A new poll from the Levada Center shows that 76 percent of Muscovites say they are “fed up” with the recent outbreak of giant spiders in the capital.

Another 15 percent said they view the giant spiders as “overall negative,” 8 percent said they hadn’t noticed any giant spiders, and one percent of respondents said they were “optimistic” in regards to the giant spiders.

Levada’s results closely resemble those of the state pollster VTsIOM, which found that two thirds of Muscovites viewed the giant spider epidemic as “mostly negative.” A second poll showed that among the various improvements Muscovites would like to see in the capital in 2017, “giant spiders” came in dead last.

Concern about the abnormally large arachnids, some of which are nearly one meter tall, has been growing ever since they were first sighted in Pushkin Square on Jan. 3. However, the Kremlin denies that the spiders pose a serious threat to residents of the capital.

“This hysteria about giant spiders is just another example of a politically-motivated information attack from our so-called Western partners,” Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters as he nervously kicked a large spider away from his podium.

Russian state-run media has so far avoided any coverage of the giant spider outbreak as well. On the Sunday news program News of the Week with Dmitry Kiselyov, there was no mention of giant spiders. Instead, there was a 17-minute story about unusually large insects in Ukraine. Astute viewers quickly took to social media to point out that the footage supposedly shot in Ukraine had actually come from the Amazon jungle.

In spite of official denials, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a decree to take “preventative measures against arachnids or insects of unusual size.”

“Pursuant to the decree, retailers will be ordered to halt the sale of spider-themed products for no less than thirty days,” Medvedev told members of the cabinet in an emergency meeting.

Already retailers have voiced concerns that the decree’s terms are too general. Several bookstore chains have sent letters to consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, asking if the ban includes media such as Spider-Man movies and comic books.

In the meantime, Moscow’s Ministry for Emergency Situations has advised citizens to avoid the giant spiders at all costs, and if this is not possible, carry a rolled up magazine with which to ward off the arachnids should they turn aggressive.

An Awesome New Year

I have a special New Year’s present for you, the readers. In the run up to the year’s end I had two serious pieces I was going to write, but given the way things are going I figured they’d bring everybody down. That’s why I figured today’s post should be something uplifting. Something absurd. It’s time for another load of insane Russian sci-fi covers!

For those of you who haven’t caught my earlier pieces on this topic, you can follow this link to the original, and this one for the second installment. But before we begin I have a couple things to get out of the way.

First, while these book covers can be found on Russian online book retailers, I am very grateful to the people behind the Vkontakte group “Batshit Covers of Russian Science-Fiction” for gathering the best of the worst, so to speak.

Also, during this time I’ve spent collecting these book covers and writing about them, I was reminded of an episode from my early childhood that might explain my affinity for over-the-top cover art. Sure, I could just chalk it up to the 1980’s, but this one episode stands out. Dear readers, take a gander at this book cover (it’s the best image I could find online).

beforethedawn

Contrary to what you might think, this is supposedly not a novel. It was supposed to be a memoir (I’ve since found info that says its veracity is questionable). Back when I was 4, maybe 5, my mother saw this guy speak at her church and she brought the book home. Obviously it was a bit above my reading level back then but that didn’t matter because LOOK AT THAT COVER! 

That boat’s getting shot to pieces. There’s brass and shattered glass all over the deck. The .50 cal gunner’s dead and bleeding all over the deck. Bloody footprints- serious attention to detail! And all the while you’ve got what I assume was supposed to be the author, decked out in tiger-stripe camo and blasting away at Mr. Charlie with “the pig.” I was too young to watch Rambo back then, but who cares? I had this book cover and my childhood imagination. And did I not already mention that this was being sold in a church? Since then churches are the place where they can take the story of a guy getting crucified and stuck in the side with a spear and make it lame and “family-friendly.” That’s why young people are running off to go join ISIS (which is illegal in the Russian Federation!). But I digress.

isismech.jpg

Someone forgot the disclaimer about ISIS being illegal in the Russian Federation.

 

I’m just sharing that anecdote because it shows how resonant awesome cover art can be. In the 21st century heroes are practically invincible until the script says they need to get injured or hurt to hit a story beat. Back in the 1980’s, we liked our action heroes beaten to hell and back, struggling against the excruciating pain and overwhelming odds to prevail in the end, John McClane style.

Alright, enough of me yelling at a cloud. Let’s look at some insane book covers!

akknights

I don’t care if it’s the 5th century – TRIGGER DISCIPLINE!

Okay let’s see. Judging by the helmets I’d say we’re in late Roman Britain, but I’m going to take a stab in the dark and suggest that the authors may not have been too overly concerned with historical authenticity. Going with my original hypothesis, I’m guessing some Picts or invading Germanic tribes are going to have a nasty surprise when they attempt to conquer Britannia. In any case, Briton king Vortigern will have no need for the Saxons Hengist and Horsa to do his fighting for him so long as the ammunition doesn’t run out. He’s more likely to have them shot straight in their Saxon faces.

Look to our own defenses? Got it sorted, mate.

beriacover

All you need there is a flock of doves flying out from behind them and you’ve got a John Woo film made for the Russian market. Okay let’s unpack this. It appears to be Soviet NKVD chief Lavrenti Beria teaming up with what looks like White Guard leader Admiral Kolchak. Do I even need to point out what’s wrong with that? No? Good.

Also here’s a little tip about dual wielding handguns. First of all- you won’t hit anything and it just looks cool. But if you must look cool, be sure to dual wield handguns that can be easily reloaded. Revolvers can’t for obvious reasons, and neither can that Mauser broom handle, which loaded from a stripper clip fed from above. But then again, given the style of the image I’m sure when they run out of bullets they resort to Matrix-like martial arts skills.

Whatever the case, I’m sure this book is worth reading if only for the long political debates it must surely contain.

bookcover4

As if it weren’t enough that this guy clearly has some kind of automatic weapon with him, he was apparently lucky enough to fall into a fantasy world with a Ka-52 attack chopper to back him up. Anyway the Mongol-looking guy looks quite pleased with his new friendship.

The wizard is another matter. It looks like he’s conjuring that little ball of light because he’s intimidated by all these new magical devices he’s witnessing. It’s as if he’s saying “Sure, his mechanical flying dragon just blasted half your army into little pieces, but can it light your path in the deep dark caverns of the Globlin King Ulug-Thalak? I don’t think so!”

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So this is called Schrodinger’s Raccoon and it’s listed as “anti-science fiction.” They’ve certainly got that part down. Now you might be asking why it’s a raccoon and not a cat. Well guess what…

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There you go. Schrodinger’s cat. Schrodinger’s Soviet, heavily armed space cat. This is both insane and not insane at the same time until we open the book and observe its content.

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This fellow looks like he bounced through several different time periods on his way into this fantasy world. The clothes are modern, but the weapon is the WWII-vintage PPS-43. The woman’s wearing something that looks like it’s out of ancient Egypt, but she’s armed with a flintlock musket, meaning they can’t share ammunition. On the plus side, there’s a Zeppelin in this fantasy world, and if you follow me on Twitter you know I’m a big advocate of bringing Zeppelins back as a mode of air travel.

Perhaps this fantasy dimension is a place where random shit from other time periods gets dumped. That would explain all the anachronisms. Either that or the authors were trying to make their own Final Fantasy VI ripoff.

bookcover9

It’s called Knight in The Grey Greatcoat, and that’s exactly what we see. What tactical advantage an old Russian police greatcoat would afford a knight in battle is beyond me though. Perhaps he plans to waylay other knights along the road, tell them that the violated some trivial law of the realm, and suggest that they may be forgiven if they would only pay a small fine here and now. It’s either that, or, as one would expect from these popadantsy novels, he uses his gun to cheat in the royal tournament.

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All I can say about this is that apparently some graphic designers in Russia accept payment in LSD.

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For the non war-nerds out there, the ZSU-23-4 Shilka is a radar-guided anti-aircraft gun system with four 23mm cannons. They have also been used in a ground attack role, often in combat. They do not, however, fly. At least they don’t in boring reality.

Honestly though I think whoever designed the cover of Aviashilka was clearly just trolling. I sure hope so.

bookcover36

Remember earlier when I said sometimes the people who design covers are paid in LSD? Well sometimes that applies to the authors as well. Here we have an example of vatnik fap fiction, only this time instead of defeating the Third Reich, Russia has defeated NATO. How they would do this with no allies and a much weaker country than the USSR is hopefully explained in the book.

bookcover15

There’s not much going on here but I’m including it because I want to get on my political soapbox for a bit. Our hero is so mesmerized by his flaming katana that he’s not even paying attention to that awesome futuristic Zeppelin that’s looming not too far away. Isn’t that a metaphor for our world these days? We’re so preoccupied with war and conflict that we forget about the vast benefits that could be had if we only brought back airship travel. Think about it.

bookcover37.jpg

Let’s see- Germans defeated at Brest Fortress. Anyone here ever play that old game Close Combat III: The Russian Front? I remember getting good enough at it to the point where I could stop the Germans on the border and basically ruin Operation: Barbarossa. And you know what? I didn’t need a tricked out AK-12 to do it.

bookcover38

Yes. Throw a knife in a world where you get attacked by people wearing plate armor. No need to use…like…a fully automatic assault rifle or anything! In any case our naval infantry hero probably won’t have time to regret his mistake since that armored guy is clearly sneaking up behind him.

bookcover39

Okay let’s see here- our heroes are a modern-day Russian spetsnaz guy who’s teamed up with a Wehrmacht soldier of the Third Reich. They’ve destroyed an American Sherman tank in London.

But remember, kids, all Ukrainians are Banderite Nazis!

popadanyetsamerica

Another exemplar of the sub-sub-sub genre known as “Britain sucks.” Here we’ve got yet another British soldier totally outclassed arms-wise and getting shot in the face as a result. You know I can’t think of many nations that still hold a grudge about the Seven Years War.

caribbeanpopadantsy

This one’s called Popadantsy of the Caribbean. You might ask whether or not they are pirates. Well you see, modern Russian pirates are a little different than what you may be used to. Here’s a video that explains that difference (possibly NSFW, depends on where you work I guess). May that video be seared into your brain and recalled every time you hear a Russian politician talking about Russia’s deep traditional values.

cossackegypt

Apparently there’s fap fiction for Ukrainian nationalists as well, at least judging from the cover. Given their long history of piracy and raids against the Ottoman Empire, it’s interesting to imagine what would happen if they attacked the Ottomans in an unexpected place. Egypt’s kind of pushing it.

That being said, did they really need modern weapons like an 82mm mortar? The problem with all these “alternate history” novels that involve modern artillery is that I suspect they leave out key details such as how the forward observers are communicating with the gunners to adjust their fire. I’m sorry but that just totally takes me out of the story and I can no longer suspend my disbelief.

dumbbookcover

The image of a pro-Putin youth from the 21st century battling vikings might be confusing, but I think it’s a metaphor. See, he’s gone back in time and found himself in Kyivian Rus. As such, he has determined that these warriors are clearly minions of the Nazi Banderite junta in Kyiv. “Take that! Azov scum!” he shouts as he hews down another Rus warrior, not realizing that his slavish devotion to Vladimir Putin is literally destroying the Russian nation at its root. Just like in real life! 

elfcover

I predict adventure- sexy adventure! Seriously though, it’s worth noting that the title here, And the Gods There are Quiet, is a play on words based on the title of a famous Soviet film (based on a novel) that has been remade many times.

elftank

“A last alliance of Men and Elves marched against the armies of Germany. Just when it seemed all was lost, Quel’tha’aa’aas picked up the enchanted scoped G-43 rifle from a fallen Waffen SS “Charlemagne” Division soldier and picked off the Hitlerjugend boys who had been hiding in shell holes, brandishing Panzerfausts. With them out of the way, the magic T-34-85s were finally able to advance down the block and pour overwhelming firepower from their 85mm main guns into the facade of the Reich Chancellery, where the Dark Lord Hitler was hiding.”  

Lord Lothar Dragonscale, Chronicle of the Realm Vol. XIII

jihadgirl

First I should probably point out that what this “jihadi” girl is doing is definitely banned in the territory of the Russian Federation. You should not do that. I’m guessing the man with the American flag cuff link is supposed to be Obama, because Russia. And if that is Obama, it means the girl is probably Ukrainian. UKRAINA AKBAR!!! 

kidwgun

That’s 7.62×39 and you don’t even have the stock on your shoulder? That thing’s going to wind up straight in your face, son! Sure, have a laugh, but it’s possible that these books are designed to prepare the Russian population for the conscription of child soldiers in the near future. The Russian army hasn’t been hitting its contract goals lately.

kozaks.jpg

Once again we have a novel that looks like it was meant to appeal to Ukrainian nationalists. Interesting to note that our kozak hero doesn’t seem to have any modern weapons, but that’s based only on what we can see. For all we know the rest of the Polish hussars were wiped out by the new Ukrainian Dozor-B armored car.

Also here’s a little tip. If you want to upset a Polish nationalist or Polonophile in nine simple words, just say the following- Polish hussars probably didn’t wear their wings in combat.

novorossiyahelicopters

What book cover bonanza would be complete without Novorossiya fap fiction? Here vatniks can imagine that they’ll conquer Kyiv once they somehow get a modern air force. Sure, there’s always that pesky fact that virtually every conceivable location for an airfield within the separatist territory is within range of Ukrainian artillery or rockets, but that’s why it’s fantasy, right?

And of course, the modern Russian uniforms they’re wearing, plus the Russian Mi-28 helicopters in the background, were purchased at Ukrainian military surplus stores. Ukraine has the best military surplus stores in the world.

Seriously though, they should really stop printing these Novorossiya novels. The more Russians think about Novorossiya, the more they’ll be reminded that their dictatorial government whipped them into a fervor in support of this pseudo-state and then basically all but abandoned it because sanctions hurt their ability to fork over more stolen money into Western banks and luxury real estate.

novorossiyanovel

 

This looks like the poster for the worst buddy-cop comedy movie ever.

Pro-Russian separatist: When I’m driving, we listen to my music! Not that Banderite Nazi crap!  *switches radio to Soviet retro station*

Ukrainian nationalist: It’s my car! So I choose the music! *switches radio again*

Pro-Russian separatist: Damn you Banderite! *switches dial to a third station*

Pro-Russian separatist: …

Ukrainian nationalist: …

Both together: This hit, that ice cold Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold. This one for them hood girls Them good girls straight masterpieces. Stylin’, whilen, livin’ it up in the city. Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent! Got kiss myself, I’m so pretty!

pigcover

Pig chariot. No further comment needed.

popacover

More “anti-fascism,” as you can see from this cover. I guess Space Soviets team up with Space Nazis to destroy Space Liberals or something.

popacover2

This is another sub-genre of popadanyets novels, known as pimpadanyets. When he’s not making that sweet green he’s gunning down Nazis. Extra points for removing the DT machine gun from the tank.

sovietconfederate.jpg

Yes, Western leftists. The country where popular literature involves the Red Army traveling back in time to help the slave-owning Confederacy win the Civil War is definitely the global headquarters of anti-fascism. Keep up the anti-imperialist struggle!

Well there you have it folks. Have a happy New Year and get ready to start talking about how 2017 is “like, the worst year ever!”

bearwave

P.S. Donating money to good causes is guaranteed to make your New Year’s wishes come true!*

 

*Not a guarantee.

Book Cover Bonanza Part I

A while back I presented readers with a collection of awesome cover art for Russian alternate history/sci-fi novels. Today, that trend continues. Lucky you.

UPDATE: Many of these covers were originally collected on the VK page Ебанутые обложки русской фантастики (Fucked-up covers of Russian Fantasy), so now you know where to go for more. And yes, new covers are added frequently.

bookcover27

Comrade Stalin’s Star Wars. Kind of self explanatory really. Much like Vader, Stalin also takes a hands on approach to fighting battles in space.

bookcover25

This is the perfect alt-hist/popadanets cover. Whereas normal alternate history asks something like, “What if Hitler had nukes, thus complicating the war for the Allies,” these authors seem to prefer totally stacking the deck in Russia’s favor. In this case, it looks like the Battle of Poltava is about to be won in six minutes but a guy with a mini-gun.

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If you think there’s not going to be any shapeshifter sex in this novel, you are wrong. Period.

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Again, it’s not enough to simply win a war (in this case the war against Sweden). No, you must go back in time with modern-day spetsnaz and make the war a complete blowout. Interesting choice of a lever-action carbine, by the way. Still horrendously unfair.

bookcover10

Ladies and gentlemen- the worst bodyguard in history. I gather from the cover that poor Nikolai I was poisoned, but you still think his bodyguard there could try doing something other than posing as Daniel Craig at the end of Casino Royale.

bookcover8

Do you have a friend that complains about the lack of popular literature depicting Hitler as an action hero? Well now you know what to get them this holiday season!

bookcover7

Your guess is as good as mine.

bookcover3

Every year a certain amount of vatnik fap-fantasy novels must be published. In this one the heroes manage to capture Washington DC in spite of the fact that it is apparently defended by flying astronauts armed with Carl Gustav anti-tank weapons. I’ve been saying for years we should have shut that program down a long time ago, but you know what its defenders say every time- “It creates jobs!” Go to hell.

bookcover2

The English title for this novel is Fuck History! 

bookcover

For starters, I’m not sure you can stand where he is. And secondly, the Statue of Liberty isn’t a particularly strategic location.

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Bolshevik Graham Phillips and Tsarist John Cena reconcile their political differences in this playful romp.

bookcover20

Your move, Tolkien!

bookcover22

Because of course your have to have some anti-Ukrainian fantasy to fap to. This tall tale is called Banderite Genocide. It certainly doesn’t help when the only Banderite we see is about to be shot at point blank range.

bookcover21

I love the Kalashnikov but I thought the whole point of fantasy is to feature weapons and artifacts that we can’t have in real life. I’m not sure how well 7.62×39 penetrates dragon scales.

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Armed only with a cat and a pack of papirosy cigarettes, Oleg must save Stalin from an evil turncoat NKVD agent! Just kidding. Oleg took DMT. He’ll be fine in a few minutes.

bookcover30

This novel answers the question: “What if douchebag PR spokespeople existed in medieval Russia?”

bookcover28

Jason Statham is…Nicky II!

britsoldier

Yup, totally fair. Britain had it coming for using rifled muskets during the Crimean War.

bookcover33

I don’t know what’s supposed to happen in this novel, but I’m guessing it’s illegal in Russia.

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Machine gunning the Teutonic Knights isn’t devastating enough. Better bomb them from the air just to be sure. That’s what they get for trying to mess with time-traveling Slavs.

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Because one thing the HALO series really needed was battles against Ottoman Janissaries.

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A Russian paratrooper must go back in time to stop a George Soros-funded plot to turn Stalin and the entire Soviet Union gay. Pretty much writes itself, really.

isismech

The year is 2025. Two years ago ISIS operatives managed to capture an experimental military walker from a top secret Japanese lab. They would have captured the Russian prototype for the PAK DA strategic bomber, but lucky even by that time the project still hadn’t advanced beyond the concept drawing phase. Anyway, with their new technology, ISIS goes on a rampage across the world, leaving the rest of humanity no choice but to organize an underground resistance movement. As you scour the land for any form of sustenance while desperately hiding from ISIS hunter-killer droids, you curse those who failed to support Donald Trump. He alone could have prevented this. He even said so in a tweet!

A contrarian’s view on anti-German hysteria

DISCLAIMER: This article is SATIRICAL, though some of the arguments you find within have actually been made both in the past and by apologists of the Third Reich to this day. 

By Dr. William Percival Thomas IV

June 1939

It seems not a day goes by that we don’t see alarmist headlines telling us that Germany plans to invade Poland, or that Germany is supposedly acting “aggressive” toward its neighbor, Czechoslovakia. Typically these pieces are written by talentless hacks who have no background knowledge of Germany and its history, and as such it is easy for them to demonize Germany and its leader, Adolf Hitler. Unlike such journalists, I have actually spent significant time in Germany, and have studied German history for the better part of my adult life. It is for this reason that I cannot go along with the bandwagon that is currently crying “wolf” over so-called “German aggression.”

First let us be realistic for a moment. Germany has indeed annexed some territory in recent years, but we might do well to remember that so far, the only territory Germany has been “annexing” is territory it used to control. First let us look at the Rhineland, where Germany allegedly flouted the Treaty of Versailles and acted “aggressively” by re-militarizing the territory in 1936. Sure, if we are to stick to the very letter of the Versailles treaty,  the Germans were certainly in violation. But this was, for all intents and purposes, Germany territory, and how logical is it to demand that a nation not station troops on a part of its own, sovereign territory? How can we condemn Hitler’s demands toward his neighbors while simultaneously making demands on Germany?

Then of course there is the matter of the Anschluss, another example of Germany being tarred as aggressive for “invading” what is arguably ethnic German territory. Once again, a little historical context is in order. The mostly German Austrian republic made an attempt to join Germany in 1918, yet was forbidden to do so by the treaties of St. Germain and that pesky Versailles treaty. Another fact that journalists tend to ignore due to their utter lack of German historical knowledge is that there was something of a German union that included Austria in the past- the German Confederation which was dissolved after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. And even if we ignore that, let us not forget that Germany held a plebiscite to determine the will of the German and Austrian people, who supported the unification by 99.7% of the voters. A more democratic expression of a people’s self-determination is hard to come by these days, but the mainstream press apparently thinks that self-determination is something for Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks, but not Germans.

Then of course there is the matter of the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia, the latter recently having been “annexed” by Germany. The matter of the Sudetenland has long been settled- this was German land, populated by a majority of Germans. As for the rest of Czechoslovakia, Germany has been far more generous than it needed to be. With Austria having been unified in a Greater Germany, Berlin has a rightful claim to all former Hapsburg territory. Yet in the case of Czechoslovakia, one of the many artificial creations conjured into existence by the hated Treaty of Versailles, Germany absorbed only Bohemia and Moravia as a protectorate, granting the right of self-determination and independence to Slovakia. Funny how the mainstream press ignores this inconvenient fact while implicitly demanding that Ukrainians, Croats, Slovenes, and other nationalities remain within the borders of superstates where they lack ample representation in governments controlled by other nationalities.

Once again our Western press is beating the war drums, this time over Poland. Once again we might do well to bear in mind that the overwhelming majority of the Free City of Danzig is German, and they resent being separated from their German brethren by the absurd “Polish corridor.” We might also ask why the press does not speak of “Polish aggression” when that country annexed parts of the supposedly inviolable Czechoslovakia, or why they do not speak of “Polish fascism” when it is well known that the Polish government is not only quite reactionary, but oppresses its own national minorities such as the Ukrainians and Jews.

Ultimately what we have here is a lack of understanding toward the German people. Few Englishmen or Americans ever travel to Germany and thus they are not only ignorant of German history, but they also lack any knowledge of the average German’s point of view. If we look from a historical perspective, we see that Germany has suffered a myriad of wars and invasions going back to Roman times. Indeed, the Romans themselves conquered much of Germany. But we need not go back so far into history to see why Germany is so driven toward militarism, as its critics claim. Geography suffices to explain German behavior.

Germany’s location in the center of Europe, surrounded on all sides by enemies, naturally makes defense a priority in the German mentality. Again we need not delve into the depths of ancient history for an example; we need only look to the recent memory of the Great War and Germany’s Schlieffen Plan to see how the need to fight on two fronts has become embedded in the German mindset; it is simply something the German cannot reasonably ignore. And when we consider how Germany lost that war and the humiliation it has suffered at the hands of the victors and their Versailles treaty, the average German’s resentment toward Western Europe is totally understandable.

Western hypocrites as of late love to criticize Germany’s so-called “rampant anti-Semitism,” but once again if they had bothered to actually go to Germany and speak with the men on the street, they might benefit from getting the German point of view. For one thing, the Germans see the Jews as the cause of their misfortunes following the Great War. To us, the anti-Jewish rhetoric may sound like demagogic scapegoating, but ask any German in a beer hall what the Jews have done to him and he will tell you the same thing- that the Communists are controlled by Jews, that “Red Jewish treachery” stabbed the German army in the back, leading to Germany’s defeat in the war and the humiliating Versailles treaty which followed. We might dispute such claims with numbers of Jewish citizens who loyally fought in the ranks of the German and Austro-Hungarian armies or by pointing out that the majority of Communist and Social Democrat party members are in fact non-Jewish, but we might take pause to ask what right we have to tell another nation its history. Germans, with the humiliation of the defeat so fresh in living memory, have a valid point of view as well.

bolshevism

The average German sees only a choice between his Nazi leaders and Soviet Bolshevism. Who are we to tell them otherwise, when we in the West have never seriously faced the threat of revolution?

Others criticize Germany’s supposedly racist, chauvinist policies, as well as German leader Adolf Hitler’s well known intentions to create an ethnically pure Lebensraum or “living space.” To those who call such a policy imperialist I would first ask whether they are prepared to demand that Great Britain, France, Belgium, Portugal, or Japan give up their colonial empires. Germany was stripped of its empire at the end of the last war. Do we have a right to demand any people space in which to live and grow? Meanwhile, those who balk at the idea of a contiguous, ethnically pure German empire in Europe ought to keep in mind that it was not Germany’s National Socialists who pioneered the practice of eugenics or race laws. Indeed, Germany has taken its inspiration from that self-proclaimed bastion of freedom and democracy, the United States. Clearly any American critic of Germany must remove the mote from their eye before pointing out the speck in Germany’s.

Having taken into consideration the German point of view in politics and foreign policy, we can now return to the present crisis between Poland and Germany, where we initially began. For one thing, we rarely if ever see our mainstream media accurately represent Germany’s claims on supposedly Polish territory. We are constantly told about German sabre-rattling, yet we never hear anything in our press about the repeated outrages committed by Poles against ethnic Germans, left defenseless in what became to them a foreign country overnight. We are told that Germany is an aggressive country, while the fact that Germany is surrounded by expansionist enemies is completely ignored. To the West, Germany faces a hostile France and Britain. France, I remind the reader, has formal military treaties with Poland and the Soviet Union, but of course we never hear about aggressive French, Polish, or Soviet expansion.

map

A map shows the enormity of forces arrayed against Germany. Who exactly is being militaristic and aggressive?

If the reader is still in doubt as to the severity of the situation facing Germany, I would remind them that Germany was recently forced to counter a Bolshevik threat in Spain. Indeed, where were the condemnations for the Soviet Union when it sent thousands of men, tanks, planes, and tons of ammunition to prop up what some claimed to be the legitimately elected government? Certainly the Franco regime did not see things that way. And since Great Britain, France, and the United States were all more than willing to impose a non-intervention regime effectively embargoing the Republican, Communist-dominated government, with the United State going so far as to grant Franco’s forces oil on credit during the war, we clearly see that there are key questions of foreign policy in which the Western powers can find common ground with Germany and its allies. If we could come to an agreement then, and indeed if we could achieve an even greater understanding in Munich last year, who’s to say that we cannot do the same by seeking a compromise with Hitler and granting his rather reasonable, modest demands toward the obstinate Polish government. Is it not better to have Germany, standing there as a bastion against Asiatic Bolshevism, rather than a weak divided Poland which could not hope to withstand a Russian onslaught for more than a few weeks at best? I’d argue that Prime Minister Chamberlain certainly thinks so.

Indeed it was Chamberlain himself who brought us, as he called it, “peace in our time” at Munich. Now the warmongerers wish to tear up that document and plunge us into another bloody conflict, one which will almost inevitably involve as many nations as the last if not more. A kind of Second World War, if you will. If such a prospect does not sound too dire to those currently calling for a tougher stance against Hitler (who might be embarrassed to find Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on their side), I have been to countless German military parades and I can testify that Germany’s military might has truly exceeded that which it wielded in 1914. In 1916-1918 the German Reich scrambled to find an antidote to the British tank; now the German armies field entire divisions consisting of tanks of every sort. The German Luftwaffe possesses squadrons of modern aeroplanes which proved their effectiveness against Bolshevik flyers in the recent civil war in Spain. The German soldier is motivated, trained to a high degree, and prepared to defend his home soil to the last man. Is this a nation we truly want to provoke, and all for the sake of Poland, no less?

It is clear to any reasonable and educated man that we must come to an understanding with Mr. Hitler if we wish to avoid a Second World War. Germany has legitimate, security-related grievances which many Westerners are unable to perceive due to the lack of experience with foreign invasions and bloody attempted revolutions. It is time for our leaders to stop being stubborn, stop listening to hysterical war mongers, and instead show their willingness to compromise with Germany by granting them their modest demands in regards to Poland. They should seek counsel not from the Germanophobes but rather from those who truly understand Germany and its leaders, or Hitlerversteher as they are known in Germany.  Such people are aware that even if we concede the point that Germany has been behaving aggressively as of late, we cannot deny that since 1919 we have pushed them in that direction. A compromise that involves giving Germany lands it once controlled for centuries will show Mr. Hitler that we are indeed reasonable people and reliable partners.

Dr. William Percival Thomas IV is a professor of Germanic History at Cambridge University who has spent considerable time in Germany both before and after the Great War. 

How to write a Russia “realist” article

Hello there! I’m a British or possibly Irish author and I’m here to tell you why the mainstream media, also known as any media outlet that fails to report the Kremlin’s talking points without question, can’t be trusted when it comes to the topic of Russia. Marvel at what an independent thinker and contrarian I am!

Typically I start by claiming to have absolutely no prior knowledge about Russia. I might demonize the media again by claiming they were my only source of knowledge about the country, and thus my head was full of “Russophobic” stereotypes. But guess what? I actually went to Russia! Sure, it might have been for only a couple months, or maybe on and off for a few years. I may never have been conversational nor literate in Russian and thus unable to communicate with ordinary people who couldn’t speak English, but I’ve been to Russia and you haven’t! This is my first step towards establishing my authority to talk down to you, the obviously ignorant Westerner whose only source of information on Russia is no doubt Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

In this part of the article, I’m going to start dropping in all kinds of Russian cultural and historical references. None of this really indicates any acumen in Russian history or politics, but I’m betting on the likelihood that it’s more than my audience knows, and thus I build my credentials as a Russia commentator. Usually I’ll start by making references to Russian literary figures such as Pushkin and Tolstoy, but I’ll also probably throw in Lermontov, Turgenev, or Bulgakov just to show you that I’m a bit more sophisticated than you when it comes to Russian literature.

At this point I’ll need to make some references about things you actually see in Russia, just to remind you that yes, I have been there, and it’s practically my old stomping ground. I’ll refer to certain buildings or landmarks. I’ll often imply there is something magical about them. Here are a few more random Russian references just in case I haven’t fully established my street cred with the readers: Samovars. Banya. Kvas. Vodka. Red Square.

Now that I’ve shown you what a Russia expert I am, it’s time for the main thrust of the article. First I’m going to slander all Western journalists by denigrating their knowledge about Russia. They are no Russia-knowers, rest assured of that! Oh sure, they may have spent more time in Russia than me, and they may speak the language, but I’m not going to bring up either of those points. Instead I’m going to question their Russia street cred and then I’m going to demonstrate my true expertise by spitting out random factoids about Russian history that one could easily get from Wikipedia.

For example, did you know that Russia has been invaded many times in its history? Sure, probably millions, if not tens of millions of English-speakers are well aware of this basic fact, but I’m going to act as though you, the readers, do not know. I’m also going to imply that other Western journalists are unaware of this fact as well. See I know, which means I know Russia better than them.

After writing about Russia’s historical invasions, I’m then going to engage in a massive leap of logic and claim that this justifies Russia’s actions in Ukraine, for example. And speaking of Ukraine, I spent a good amount of time on Wikipedia in order to find more factoids I can put here to convince you that Ukraine and Russia are really the same country. Just to be sure, I didn’t just get my info from Wikipedia. I also talked to some Russian friends who work for the Russian state media and they explained to me how Ukraine is really an eternal part of Russia and not a real country. Are you, an ignorant Westerner who has never been to Russia, going to seriously suggest that Russians don’t know their own history?

Now here’s the part where I condemn the West for provoking Russia into invading a sovereign nation. I’ll talk about NATO expansion while ignoring pesky facts such as the near-total lack of permanent garrisons in new member states or the fact that the US was closing down bases and pulling its forces out of Europe prior to 2015. Naturally I won’t explain how any of the actual NATO expansion actually harmed Russia in any measurable way. Then I’ll imply that the West tried to pull Ukraine into NATO even though this was clearly not the case. At this point I might concede that Russia has been behaving at least somewhat badly, but I’ll make it clear that this is totally the West’s fault.

This is the best part. I’ll pretend I’m just a patriotic dissident in my homeland and lament the breakdown in relations between the West and Russia. I’m totally oblivious to the fact that the Kremlin and its supporters actually don’t want peace between our nations but in fact they’d rather see our country collapse like theirs did in 1991, so don’t expect me to let this pesky reality get in the way. What I will do is demand that something must be done to repair relations between Russia and the West, and lucky you- I just happen to have a plan.

Here I outline my plan for how Russia and the West can reach a compromise and coexist in peace. It’s very simple- the West gives Russia everything it wants and in return Russia promises absolutely nothing. Obviously I won’t phrase it that way though. Instead I’ll enumerate the points on which the West should make concessions to the Russians, hoping you don’t notice that those concessions are all one-way in favor of Russia.

I might take this time to point out how people who oppose this idea and continue to criticize the actions of the Kremlin are “Russophobes” or “hawks.” I’ll claim that their talk of Russian aggression and a Russian “threat” are simply laughable, but if we fail to compromise with Moscow by unilaterally conceding to their every demand, it could lead to World War III and a nuclear holocaust, all of which will still be the West’s fault for not compromising.

And in case my word count is low: Pelmeni, borshch, matryoshka, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Gagarin, kitchen debates, babushki!

Your Guide to Georgia

After another brief stint abroad I am truly back. Prior to that, I was on vacation in Georgia, and I have been waiting a long time to share my experiences there.First let’s start with a few basic facts about the country.

Georgia is known to its own people as Sakartvelo, which is a Georgian word meaning “pedestrians don’t have right of way.” If you’re wondering where we get the name “Georgia” from, it apparently comes by way of the Persian “Gurgan,” which they in turn got from the Arabic “Jurjan.” Though St. George is highly revered in Georgian culture, his name has nothing to do with that of the country. It is located in the southern Caucasus, and as a result it has a long history of being invaded and conquered by numerous empires. One of Georgia’s worst tormentors was the infamous Timur-i-Leng, better known as Tamerlane, although as brutal as he was he would usually leave after seriously wrecking someone’s shit.

Obviously the first thing many American readers are no doubt wondering is how Georgia the country stacks up against Georgia “The Peach State.” Luckily I have experience in both, having spent a little over three months in Georgia (the US state). Nearly all my experience in the latter was confined mostly to the town of Augusta, which is famous for The Masters golf tournament. While there were certainly positive aspects, what I probably took away most from that experience was the May humidity and being harassed by a large number of bees. On the plus side, I did see Enemy at the Gates when it first came out while I was in Georgia, so there’s that, I guess. However, I think the following fact will show beyond a shadow of a doubt that Georgia the country is superior to Georgia the state. Georgia the country is famous for its wine, as it is believed to be the origin of wine making itself. Georgia the state, at least when I was there, has a law against Sunday sales of alcohol. Georgia the country probably has better peaches as well. I think that pretty much settles it.

Georgia was the second nation to officially adopt Christianity, no doubt in order to “get in on the ground floor of this new religion thing.” I’m sure the Armenians never let the Georgians forget about their second place title as well. Given that the country has one of the world’s oldest established Christian churches, you can bet that your trip to Georgia will include looking at a lot of churches, both from the outside and inside! Though seriously speaking, I can say that as someone who has seen a lot of old churches, Georgia has some truly impressive cathedrals and more importantly, unique features in terms of architecture, decoration, frescoes, etc. Of course actually getting to some of the churches and monasteries can be a bit of a hike.

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Gergeti Trinity Church (can be seen to the left of the snow-covered Mt. Kazbegi), seen from below.

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View from the top, next to the church.

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This cow made it to the top. What’s your excuse?

Georgia’s emergence as a tourist destination is largely the work of former president Mikheil Saakashvili. Pretty much everyone you talk to credits him with eliminating corruption in the country and transforming it into a modern state, including those who disagree with his policies toward Russia. The capital Tbilisi is a testament to Saakashvili’s achievements in the sphere of reforms and modernization.

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Liberty Square, Tbilisi

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The capital from above

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The city at night. On the right you can see cable cars ascending and descending to the top of the mountain.

In short, Georgia is a surprisingly tourist friendly, modern country. Do not let the frequent instances of cows impeding traffic deceive you.

Getting back to the topic of Saakashvili and Russia, I noticed nearly all Georgians I met were basically Russia-friendly. I think this fact might upset some people but I don’t find it surprising. There is a rather naive belief among some people that any country that has some official beef with Russia must be a natural ally, as though there’s some kind of global anti-Russia coalition (the Russians certainly think there is). In reality, the situation is a bit more complicated. For one thing, Georgia gets a lot of tourism from Russia. Everywhere we went there were Russian tourists, far more than Western ones. There are also vital trade links between the countries. I didn’t pry too much into the topic, but part of me suspects that it’s a lot easier for Georgians to simply write off the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, I suspect because both these national minorities are in fact ethnically different from Georgians. Besides, one can support the international community’s opinion on Georgian territorial integrity without demanding that Georgians express hatred towards Russians (most of whom had nothing to do with the wars in Abkhazia or Ossetia), as that would accomplish absolutely dick. If the reader disagrees, please feel free to liberally advertise Georgia as a tourist destination to the world so as to offset the loss of Russian tourism.

Possibly another positive side effect of the war on corruption is the helpfulness and honesty of the people. You’re not mobbed by people trying to rip you off left and right. Taxi drivers will haggle, but when they agree to a price they will stick to it and they will help you find hotels, wait for you while you visit some sites, and stay with you the whole day if need be. On one occasion a cashier at a museum seemingly decided on a whim to let us (a group of four) and another group of six tourists enter for free. They even provided a tour guide for no additional charge.

Of course no discussion about Georgia can be complete without covering the topic of food and wine. Georgian cuisine is arguably the best in the entire former Soviet Union. Georgian dishes are simply far more flavorful than Slavic Russian or Ukrainian cuisine thanks to the liberal use of various herbs, spices, and sauces. Khachapuri is a particularly well-known dish comparable to pizza. Probably the most popular incarnation of khachapuri is the “Adjaruli” style, which is eye-shaped and includes one or two eggs on top of Georgian sulguni cheese. While Georgian restaurants are easy to find in Ukraine and Russia, I’ve noticed that the khachapuri served in many Georgian restaurants is far thicker than what you find in those restaurants outside of Georgia.

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Khachapuri Adjaruli

As mentioned before, Georgia is believed to be the cradle of wine manufacturing, with evidence of such activity dating back roughly 6,000-8,000 years. The Kakheti region of eastern Georgia is wine country, and wineries provide tours and wine tasting for guests. I am partial to red dry Georgian wines such as Saperavi and Mukuzani. Also, how many times have you ever said to yourself: “I wish I could drink an alcoholic beverage out of Josef Stalin’s head?” Well guess what- Georgia’s got you covered:

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This is probably why Stalin is usually seen wearing a hat in photographs.

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Sadly, they had no Amontillado.

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High view of wine country

The final stop in Georgia was the seaside city of Batumi. I have to say that Batumi was considerably less impressive, but this might be due to the particularly bad part of town we stayed in. The center and the boardwalk area are both very nice, and we were fortunate to catch an amazing concert featuring traditional Georgian dancing.

I was not a fan of the beaches in Batumi, as they have no sand but rather pebbles that turn into cobblestone just below the waterline. I am told, however, that there are good beaches just outside the city. Batumi also boasts and incredible botanical garden.

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The beautiful beach that destroys your ankles.

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Batumi botanical garden

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Batumi center, no doubt designed by Tim Burton.

Apart from a couple disappointments in Batumi, this was an incredible trip. I highly recommend seeing Georgia if you happen to be in this part of the world, and be sure to give yourself enough time to see everything. You’ve got modern cities with vibrant night life, the Black Sea coast, and incredible mountain vistas. Why are you still reading this? Go to Georgia! GO NOW! 

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They could have filmed Lord of the Rings here and saved a lot of money.

How I became The Guardian

Life has been full of surprises lately. Yesterday I found out I was published in The Guardian. Today I learned that I am The Guardian. In fact, I am the “Western mass media.” Yeah I know, weird huh? It’s true though, at least according to the prestigious Russian news site Ridus.ru (yes, that Ridus.ru), who just today ran a story featuring yours truly bearing the headline “British Guardian accuses the Western mass media of idiocy.”

Yes, we have yet another case of one source being labeled as the “X mass media,” in this case British, but this time I happen to be the source. Well I guess it wouldn’t be the first time Russian media over-hyped some lone blogger.

In the article there are no direct quotes from the article in question. Nor are there any links to the article. Instead it says:

“Джим Ковпак в статье «Сталин, водка и ядерное оружие: как не надо писать о России» перечислил мифы, используя которые иностранные журналисты оказываются в положении полных идиотов.”

“Jim Kovpak in the article “Stalin, vodka, and nuclear weapons: How not to write about Russia,” lists myths whose use makes foreign journalists look like total idiots.”

It  then goes on to say that I wrote that Western media coverage gives the impression that Russia is full of prostitutes.

Before I tackle this I should point out that The Guardian piece is heavily edited to be more concise. The original article appeared on Russia!.

Once one sees both articles it ought to be clear that it isn’t necessarily aimed at journalists. It certainly isn’t aimed at Western Russia correspondents, many of whom I know personally and who in many cases have far more background knowledge and/or experience in Russia than the expat Putin fanboys out there. Many of those types flat out tell you they “knew nothing about Russia” prior to chasing down some girl they met on the internet or whatever.

Of course these cliches certainly can apply to people who are by definition journalists, but these types are most likely those who for whatever reason find themselves writing about Russia without actually being in the country or even visiting it. They may work for some news aggregator site, they could be some kind of travel journalist, or someone just reporting on pop culture phenomena throughout the world. I did specifically refer to expat writers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean journalists. They could be bloggers or even novelists. Also in the long version I occasionally point out that some of these cliches apply to Ukraine as well. And lastly, nowhere in either article did I “accuse the Western media of idiocy.”

It wouldn’t seem like a big deal if I didn’t just get a call earlier in the evening from the state-run NTV about an interview regarding this article. Even if I had the time and were so inclined, I’m afraid they’d be disappointed if the reason for their interest was the wholly inaccurate Ridus article.

But there’s a good lesson to be found in the unusual level of interest that the Russian media paid to this. First of all, the Guardian piece had been up for roughly a day, maybe a day and a half before I was told about the Ridus story. I got the NTV notification about two hours later. Is it not curious how the Russian media constantly paints the “mainstream Western media” as nothing more than a propaganda machine bent on waging information war on Russia, and yet the second they find something in that “mainstream media” they think they can use, the jump all over it? Also, The Guardian is pretty “mainstream,” and it is particularly hated by the Kremlin media and Putin fanboys the world over. To be fair, that no doubt is largely due to the publication’s association with intrepid super spy Luke Harding. Still, The Guardian is definitely “Western” media, so it’s a little odd that Western media would accuse Western media of idiocy, isn’t it?

The other funny aspect of this, perhaps the funniest of all, is that this long-time Kremlin media tactic of referring to “Western/American/foreign mass media” in order to back up some claim, whether it is a matter of gross distortion as with my article or misrepresenting an author’s expertise or credentials in other cases, is essentially a tacit admission that the Russian media isn’t trustworthy. See every time they do this the message is always the same, “Look! A Western says this! If they say that, it must be true!” It’s as if they know they must somehow attach themselves to Western sources because otherwise they have no credibility, or at least Western sources seem more credible to their audience, even if they too generally believe the ideas behind the story and buy into the “information war” conspiracy.

Western media doesn’t appear to operate by these rules. They don’t need to constantly throw up some Russian source and say, “Look! Even the Russians themselves support us and say what we’re writing is true!” Okay, sometimes it seems like Paul Goble is doing that, but he’s hardly “MSM.” Otherwise there is some concept of journalistic ethics and its expected that a reporter will go out and speak to sources and make every effort to confirm their stories while also striving for objectivity. If they interview opposition sources, for example, it’s because there’s a political or human interest story here and you’re supposed to let the sources speak for themselves. The idea isn’t to say “Look, even the Russians themselves admit that Putin sucks! Obama is right!”

Does the system of journalism always work that way? Of course not. For one thing journalism is, for most major Western outlets, a business. Thanks to the internet it has become a rather cutthroat one at that. But as I’ve said plenty of times in the past- just because one system has flaws doesn’t mean we should adopt another one that is worse. And if the Kremlin owned media wants to protest the implication that it is worse and not, as they sometimes claim, equal in terms of credibility, maybe they should stop and ask why they have to constantly invoke the “Western media” as backup for their claims.

UPDATE: They apparently really love that piece because a more accurate translation of the article was published on RT’s Russian site. So yeah, now I’v finally been published on RT. Unfortunately it would seem that RT failed to recognize my Guardianship. Have no doubt in your minds, I am The Guardian, and I shall rule this world that is rightly mine! 

Kremlin: Vladimir Putin comes out in support of whatever cause you happen to believe in

MOSCOW- Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov finally confired rumors that Russian president Vladimir Putin made bold public statements on GMO’s and vaccines in recent years. At a Friday morning press conference Peskov explained that his boss not only had strong opinions about vaccines and GMO’s, but that he actually supports whatever cause any given social media user might passionately support.

“There is no issue that escapes Putin’s concern,” Peskov told reporters. “If you see a viral news story in your news feed and it claims that Putin said something that supports a cause or idea you personally support, you can rest assured that the quote is 100% genuine and Vladimir Putin cares very deeply about whatever issue it is.”

The Kremlin’s confirmation dispelled controversy which erupted after the dissemination of a number of viral news stories such as one headlined “PUTIN EXPOSES VACCINES,” wherein the Russian president had allegedly claimed that vaccines were a plot used by “Western governments” to enslave humanity.

In that article, Putin was reported to have said: “When your children are barely human, psychologically-altered bots, their nerve cells and synapses failing to connect, and their neurodevelopmental processes dulled to the point of restricting them to sub-human level repetitive grunts and gormless stares, what are you going to do then?”

Critics initially pointed out that the style, vocabulary, and subject matter of the quote in no way resembled anything the president had said before, but the Kremlin’s confirmation this morning has put their objections to rest.

Experts say that this precedent now confirms the Russian president also firmly supports a host of other causes that social media users care about, from gun ownership to economic theory.

Ron Howell, 36, of Lubbock, Texas says he came to admire the Russian president for his stance on gun rights.

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Example of a viral “meme” with a formerly controversial quote

“To be honest I never really thought about the president of Russia- I’d always figured he was just another Commie we’d forgotten to kill in WWII,” Howell explained as he sat in his living room cleaning one of several semi-automatic firearms while wearing full US military-spec tactical gear.

“But then one of my buddies from the range shared this quote from Putin on Facebook and I realized that the Russian president is one of us. I like him a whole lot better than that Kenyan Marxist Nazi usurper Obama. No wonder the liberal media’s always on Putin’s case.”

Nick Grimes, 21, a computer science student at UCLA, says he was impressed by the Russian president’s thoughts on free market economics.

“Look, I’ve taken econ 101, I’m a regular on the Misis Insitute forum, I know how economics works,” said Grimes.

“Unfortunately are glorious leaders don’t know jack. They think they can just keep spending and borrowing forever, providing welfare to lazy people while strangling the industrious, the job creators.”

Grimes found encouragement in his Facebook news feed, however, when a friend shared a image of Putin expressing his opinion on economic policy. putinfreemarket

“Finally, someone gets it, I thought,” Grimes explained. “I’m already thinking of moving to Russia and starting a business there. If I stay here, the government will just tax and regulate me to death.”

Still others see in Putin a crusader against out of control capitalism and corporate domination, such as Jason Ellis, 22, a political science student at Boston University.

“Obviously our own leaders don’t care about wealth inequality just like they don’t care about racism, misogyny, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, gender-binary normativity, cultural appropriation,decolonization, Palestinian rights, speciesism, classism, or post-industrial post-modernist third wave anarcho-feminism, but that’s not the case in Russia,” Ellis said, who was wearing a souvenir ushanka hat complete with a Soviet army badge in spite of the pleasant 75 degree weather.

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“This is why the Western media is always demonizing Putin, especially after he stopped the neocons’ fascist neo-liberal coup in Ukraine from spilling over his borders. He’s a threat to the Global North’s hegemony.”

Ellis added that he too hopes to move to Russia one day, as he heard they have free healthcare there.

Until Friday, most Russia experts and Kremlinologists would have laughed at the idea that Vladimir Putin actually supports so many disparate and often contradictory causes, but now each and every social media user can be certain that if they see a quote from the Russian president that appears to agree with their worldview, they are in fact getting Putin’s genuine opinion on the matter. putinlp

“Let me make this absolutely clear,” presidential spokesmen Peskov said when questioned by skeptical reporters at this morning’s press conference. “Putin totally supports anything you happen to believe in. So be sure to share that picture or link.”

 

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David Cameron alleges CIA behind ‘Panama Papers’

PM says CIA fabricated the ‘Panama Papers’ as a propaganda attack aimed at destabilizing the UK

LONDON- British Prime Minister David Cameron lashed out at the US during a press conference on Friday, accusing them of fabricating the so called ‘Panama Papers’ leak in an attempt to discredit him personally and destabilize the United Kingdom.

“There was no corruption involved,” Cameron told reporters. “It’s obvious that this so-called ‘investigation’ wasn’t the work of trained journalists but agents of the CIA and the State Department.”

Although the Prime Minister was not directly named in the leaked documents containing information on the holders of offshore tax shelters, his father Ian Donald Cameron was found to have a tax haven in Panama valued at 25 million pounds. Other high profile figures either named or linked to individuals named in the leaked documents include Iceland PM Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and even Russian president Vladimir Putin. All told, the Panama Papers allegedly contain information about approximately  140 politicians with connections to hidden offshore tax havens.

Cameron dismissed a correspondent’s comment that the diversity of names in the leak might cast doubt on his assertion that the story was a CIA fabrication aimed specifically at himself. He explained that the US government had “good motives” for conspiring against the UK.

“Surely no one believed that the US, a hegemonic empire, would let us off the hook for burning their White House in the War of 1812,” the PM told reporters. “The United Kingdom was once a great empire. It is still a great power. The Americans are afraid of a multipolar world and they don’t like our independent foreign policy. No, this information attack was aimed directly at us, and me personally.”

When asked by another correspondent as to what evidence the British government had to substantiate his claims, Cameron mentioned Wikileaks and then trailed off.

The PM also that even if the allegations were true, “it wouldn’t matter because people in every country do the same thing,” adding that “Many other countries have far more corruption than Britain- look at Russia, for example.”

Cameron then said that he would no longer answer any more questions about the leak or “that pig thing.”

Public reaction to the revelations in Britain has been modest thus far. State-funded media such as the BBC has mostly avoided any coverage of the story and has instead focused on issues abroad, such as the ongoing war against ISIS (banned in the UK) in Syria and Iraq. US officials have yet to comment on the PM’s allegations.

The Panama Papers refers to a cache of leaked records from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. The story was first published on Sunday after a year-long investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. In the week leading up to the story’s release, British PM David Cameron’s press secretary had publicly stated that the US “American English” media was preparing an “information attack” aimed at discrediting the British leader, and he also accused non-British journalists of having both “Anglophobia” and “Cameronophobia.”

 
UPDATE/CORRECTION- It has come to our attention that none of this happened, and that we have somehow managed to mix up the UK for Russia, and David Cameron for Russian president Vladimir Putin. We apologize to our readers for the mistake. We also recommend that our readers try DMT, but not during work hours.

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The Lost Art of Awesomeness, reborn in Russia

Do you remember a time when movie posters weren’t just blue and orange? Remember when movie posters and video game boxes were awesome? What do I mean by awesome? See below:

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That, dear readers, is the art of awesomeness. Where do I even begin to describe the sheer insanity of this masterpiece? Alright first of all we’ve got a guy who clearly does not give a fuck. Massive explosion behind him. Zero fucks given. The beautiful woman who is mildly concerned about the explosion clinging to his shoulder? Nope. Still reading 0.0 on the Fuck-o-meter. Why is he so nonchalant? There are some mysteries man is not yet ready to know, but I think it has something to do with that gun.

I mean look at that weapon! It is as far beyond our most modern firearms as they are beyond the first matchlock muskets. It spits in the face of all known knowledge of firearms engineering. It literally feeds from three magazines at the same time, and seems to consist of a double-barrel shotgun, an assault rifle, a grenade launcher, and two who-the-fuck-knows-whats on the bottom. I don’t care how many Magpul after-market parts you put on your AR-15; it will never achieve but a fraction of this awesomeness.

Of course in America, the other source of artistic awesomeness was to be found on the cover of home video games, such as those for the NES, Sega Genesis (Mega-Drive for you Europeans out there), and SNES. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

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You picked the wrong day to break out of your glass tube, Mr. Giant Scorpion!

That there is the box art for the first release of a Contra game on the Nintendo Game Boy. Now I can tell you from personal experience that prior to this release, nearly all Game Boy games were puzzle-games, typically variations on Tetris. That ended with Operation  C, and the very box itself seems to proclaim just that.

Just look at that! Drink it in. We’ve got a massive mutant scorpion that’s just clawed its way out of a glass tube in some kind of lab, but just before it can turn and claw our hero to shreds he starts pumping round after round into its thorax with what appears to be some kind of futuristic assault shotgun.

Hell, back in my day, even silly-looking games had incredible box art. Just look at this clusterfuck:

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What’s going on in that picture? Well let me rephrase that so we won’t be here all night: What’s not going on in that picture? You’ve got everything. First we’ve got the contrast: despite very Mario-style cartoony graphics, our happy ginger hero is blazing away with what is clearly meant to be an M16A2 (yeah I know it’s ejecting from the wrong side, gun nerds). Virtually everyone around him is terrified by this. That weird lizard thing by his left leg, that skull, and even the metal Wehrmacht bird behind him. The dinosaur just looks kind of pissed, but then again there’s a fuckin’ dinosaur in this picture! Then you’ve got the evil crab. The evil grab isn’t impressed. He’s about to sink one of his claws into our hero’s leg to see what happens, but something tells me he’s only going to end up getting his shell perforated by about a half dozen 5.56x45mm rounds.

This box art has everything. There’s an undead sentient skull, a weird blue lizard, a goddamned dinosaur, a UFO, an evil crab, a blazing firearm, a dude on steroids, the official seal of Nintendo… Oh and if you think this game’s a joke, go ahead and run it in an emulator. I’m betting you’ll get a game over half way through the first level.

Of course just like movie posters, game art has declined over the years. This is what the covers of our hit games look like now:

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Oh wow! Look at that angsty, brooding hero. This could just as easily have been an album cover for Staind. No surprise that the games are easier too. There’s no “Press F to win the game” in Operation C or Amagon.

Luckily, however, the art of awesomeness has not been lost. It has survived in a new medium, specifically the cover art of Russian sci-fi and alternative history fiction. In the past I’ve shared a few examples of such art, but today I’ve got a much larger haul. Let us experience and evaluate some of the finest specimens of Russian fiction book covers.

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The first example is from the book The American: Path to the North by Roman Zlotnikov and Igor Grinchevskiy. This piece resonated with me because it’s called “The American” and in fact this image captures exactly what it’s like to be an American in Russia. I mean that might as well be me on the cover there. Alright I don’t have hair like that, but the lab coat, the pocket watch, the scientific laboratory with firearms and ammunition- it’s basically as if you compressed my nearly-ten years in Russia into one image. I’m sure other American expats and former expats would feel the same way about this image.

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There’s plenty of modern Russian art depicting WWII scenes, but how many of them have a Red Army soldier wielding dual TT33’s John Woo style, shooting an Estonian Waffen SS man? The answer is I have no idea, but this book cover sure does. Had to take points off for the cuffs on SS-man’s tunic, however.

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Look, I’m the first person to say that the whole zombie genre isn’t just getting old- it’s been old for at least five years by now. But if Hollywood is going to give us Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, we might as well have a zombie apocalypse set in the early Soviet Union. And if we have Stalin armed with a hammer and decapitating zombie Trotsky with a sickle well, so much the better.

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Tsar Nicholas II and his father Alexander III blazing away with machine guns designed in the state which overthrew their regime (and killed the former). What else can I say about this? I can’t help but notice this book has three authors. The only thing that could make this novel more awesome is if neither of them ever spoke to one another until after the work was published.

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Okay this book, entitled A Conversation With the Leader, posits one of the most simplistic alternative-history premises I’ve ever seen. What if, at the battle of Brest fortress in 1941, one of the defenders had a cell phone and could call Stalin with it? How would this change the course of history? One hopes that in addition to giving our hero a cell phone, the author also remembered to give the USSR a functioning cellular network as well. Otherwise this phone would be reduced to a mere distraction device to confound the German besiegers.

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Young Andrei Ivanov was always getting trouble at school. The bigger kids picked on him. His teachers said he’d never achieve anything. His parents yelled at him. He thought he was a loser…until one day. Now Andrei has been transported back to the battle of Prokhorovka in 1943! But does he have what it takes to go from zero to hero and liberate his Motherland from the fascist invaders? There’s only way to find out! Master the Russian language so you can read this novel.

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Trotsky becomes a Ukrainian nationalist and attacks Stalin, who defends himself with a portrait of Lenin. I really don’t know what to say here. My thought process has ground to a halt.

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Alright let’s start with the obvious- that’s a Nazi SS man wielding the M41A pulse rifle from Aliens. No, it doesn’t just look like it, it is the pulse rifle, full stop. Beyond that this cover turns it up to 88 with Hitler, flying saucers, and what I can only assume are snow panzers. The only question is- can allied agents manage to survive long enough to organize a resistance movement among the Antarctic penguins and end the Nazi occupation once and for all? I think we all know the answer is: You’re goddamned right they can!

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Okay so we’ve got a WWII era Red Army soldier equipped with late 30’s era German sub-machine gun killing a 1920’s Civil War era Bolshevik commissar of some sort, ostensibly to save the Russian emperor. How is this not going to cause a time paradox?  Imagine that- renegade Red Army soldiers team up with the Nazis to travel back in time and save the Russian empire from the Bolsheviks. Then, as soon as they rescue the Tsar’s family and kill their captors, each member of the time-traveling assassination squad suddenly realizes that he is illiterate, and dressed in traditional Russian peasant clothes. Oh yeah- their kids all died before they reached the age of five.

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If only there had been Putin’s Russia instead of the Soviet Union during the Second World War! Driven on by love for their glorious leader, the ethnically homogeneous Muscovite Russian army would have easily defeated the entire Wehrmacht with knives instead of wasting precious bullets. Who needs that Red Army anyway? It was so full of Ukrainians it might as well have been the UPA!

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All I have to say about this cover is that my wife is very lucky this young woman doesn’t actually exist.

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So this cheerful novel is called Death to Britannia, and the cover is a depiction of what Anne Applebaum believes will immediately happen to the UK should it exit the European Union. Of course the comparison isn’t 100% accurate, because like many of those other books, this novel is alternative history. In this case we’ve got contemporary Russian paratroopers descending on what appears to be late Victorian Britain (the rifle appears to be inspired by the Martini-Henry). Of course just to make it “fair,” our Russian heroes are using PPS machine pistols from the WWII-era. There’s no sport in it if there’s no challenge, right?

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Saving the best for last, we have a Russian police officer magically transported to a fantasy world. Noting that the brave mounted knight may in fact Central Asian in appearance, our hero detains him with his sword.

“I bid thee halt, good citizen,” officer Kuznetsov said, saluting with his new found blade.

“Wherefore did thou stoppest me, officer?” asked the rider in a clearly foreign accent.

“I must see thy documents if thou wishest to pass!”

Hanging his head in exasperation, the rider reached into a saddle bag and produced the desired item- a scroll of vellum wrapped in hemp twine. He handed it to Kuznetsov with a sigh.

Kuznetsov looked over the strange writing and frowned.

“Thou hast not the proper seal on thy document, good rider, I fear that this carries a penalty of four hundred gold coins!”

The rider rolled his eyes.

“Perhaps, dear officer of the law, there is some way I could pay this penalty…here and now?”

Kuznetsov nodded. The rider reached into his saddle-bag again and tossed a small but heavy sack into Kuznetsov’s waiting hand.

“Methinks thou will find all the proper seals on those documents, sirrah!”

Kuznetsov felt the weight of the bag in his hands and peered into the opening at the top. Gold sovereigns, fifteen or twenty at least.

“Indeed, good rider, these documents have the proper seal. I dare say everything is in order. Thou art allowed to pass.”

And thus the rider saluted and went on his way. Kuznetsov pocketed the gold and began walking along the road toward a small town. Hopefully it would have an inn that could offer him both victuals and lodging for the night, for the next day he would set off on his true quest- the Dark Fortress Morthian at the foot off Dragonskull Mountain. There he would either wrest the Amulet of Wisdom from the corrupted elf-mage Q’alla’dain or he would perish like so many others who came before, their bones piled high about that cursed land!

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Thus concludes our brief survey of the art of awesomeness in Russia. I look forward to feedback from the reader, as well as other examples of awesome art from around the world.