25 December 2009

You've been randomly selected...

No, I did not become the lucky recipient of a million dollars through Nigerian email spam. However, a young Nigerian's failed attempt at terrorism on a Northwest flight to Detroit seems rather timely today.

A reasonably frequent flyer, I've gone through many expected inconveniences of modern-day air travel, including baggage lost for days and baggage lost for weeks, eight-hour delays, full baggage searches, and canceled flights. This year, I've even gotten used to having my temperature taken by genderless swine flu-chasers in white biohazard suits.

When going through security, I seal my "liquids and gels" in advance, remove my jacket and shoes, and take out my laptop -- all to be placed in separate bins, naturally. Yesterday, I did not trigger any alarms, and neither did my carry-on. Yet, I got selected for a random security check without cause.

The latter is somewhere between a mild pat-down one gets when actually setting off a metal detector and a full-blown strip search. It's a polite spit in the face. A bit of public embarrassment, a mild abuse of authority, but with a cherry of political correctness on top. After all, airport security seems to "respect my feelings as a woman and a human", as a certain musician once said.

So, my personal Bestower of Safety (female, of course) even inquired if I "had any body part that hurt", before proceeding to thoroughly determine that I, in fact, did not hide any weapons of mass destruction in my bra. And, I'm not quite sure what pulling my jeans' waist so far away from my body so as to reveal the pattern on my underwear had to do with terrorism prevention. But, maybe I simply lack the intellectual capacity necessary to grasp the mysteries of airport security rituals, so I politely complied.

In the end, all I wanted to know was the selection criteria. "Every fourth female", said this shining example of professionalism and asked, "So, are we cool, yo"? I haven't seen my family in six months and had a flight to catch, "Yes, but rather inappropriate".

Not a contradiction.

Best of all, I paid $54.33 for this masochistic present to self: $45.00 (!) of my airfare went to Canada Airport Improvement Fee, and $9.33 -- to Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC). The latter certainly seems like money well spent on stopping islamofascists in North America.

Merry Christmas!

16 December 2009

"...Soviet bastards have destroyed Russia"

Despite being absolutely fed up with graduate school, I somehow still enjoy the subject of early Soviet print culture. One of the reasons for my resilience (!) is the fact that I occasionally come across gems like the following:

“In your journal you mock the Tsarist ministers and the Tsar in such a way that you show your stupidity. You have done nothing in the past ten years to show your intelligence. What good, and for whom, has the Soviet power brought? Industry has dropped to nothing. Unemployment has increased by 100%. We workers were never without fish in Astrakhan’, and now we don’t see it anymore. Where did the fish go, dear comrades? Where is the gold of Russia? All the workers know that Soviet bastards have destroyed Russia. You show in your journal that the Tsar’s ministers drank a lot, but at least they were doing their job. Now everyone drinks and steals and does nothing. Everywhere they sit in other peoples’ places...Dear comrades, you should learn from the bourgeoisie, not mock them...I ask you to print this letter in your magazine. It is of greater interest than all your caricatures. Our Moscow workers will read it with pleasure.” (Astrakhan’ workers, a letter to Gudok newspaper, Apr-1927)

(Jennifer Clibbon, The Soviet Press and Grass-roots Organization: The Rabkor Movement, NEP to the First Five-Year Plan (PhD thesis, University of Toronto manuscripts, 1993). Emphasis -- mine.)

This letter shouldn't come as a surprise to other "junior scholars" (pardon the pretentiousness) in modern Russian history. However, I think it is important to demonstrate things like this to my fellow alternative right-wingers, as it shows dissent amongst the lower social echelons within the first years of the Bolshevik regime.

10 December 2009

Russia for Russians?

The slogan "Russia for Russians" is normally associated with political groups, which the media describes as extreme right-wing and xenophobic. After all, by the virtue of being an empire, Russia is multiethnic, and my being Russo-Georgian is a case in point. Yet, unlike most contemporary European inverted societies with an imperial heritage, Russia is officially guided by the majority-based Slavic traditions and a broader European culture, by and large.

In other words, it's still okay to say "Merry Christmas!" in public.

The results of the most recent 20-23-Nov-2009 study conducted by the independent Levada center and published in Gazeta.ru, are somewhat telling about Russian citizens' stance on this subject. 32% of Russians, indeed, associate the slogan with fascism. 36%, however, believe that the government should "reasonably" adhere to this idea. 18% support it in its entirety -- this number is up 3% since last October.

Sociologists argue that, in the very least, fewer and fewer people ignore this issue: 9% of respondents were not interested in the question, in comparison to 12% last year, while 5% were undecided, in contrast to 6% in the same period. Specific questions provide a better picture, yet: 61% of Russian citizens believes that the government must "limit the migrant flow" -- up 9% from the previous year. The number of those who negatively view migrants from the former USSR also rose by 4% this year.

At the same time, it is important to note that in October 2008, only 25% considered "Russia for Russians" fascistic, as compared to this year's 32%. The latter is up a whopping 14% since 2003. Likewise, the number of reasonable supporters -- 36% -- is down from 42%.

Overall, human rights activists describe these latest statistics as generally healthy social polarization, because the question had become the focus of an open public discussion.

Even so, the data may be read in another way too. The total number of citizens, who support the dominant culture in the Russian Federation, is 54%. This unquestionable majority substantially exceeds those opposed to "Russia for Russians" or, at least, its negative connotation. Without a doubt, this majority has been affected by a number of factors, including the widely promoted Putin-Medvedev demographic program, news reports about the losing battle to hold onto the Russian Far East or the Islamification of Western Europe, and simply witnessing the rising number of Central Asian guest workers on city streets.

And, in contrast to the majorities of the West, this 54% likely won't stay silent.

05 December 2009

Slaughtering a (ManBear)Pig

I don't watch much television.

Most of the time, it constitutes background noise as I cook or perform other tasks that don't require excessive cranial prowess. With anywhere between one and three jobs and my doctorate-in-progress, I've perfected the art of multitasking and should consider doing infomercials on the subject (speaking of television). Work out while listening to Japanese language mp3s? You've got it. No wonder I wake up severely sleep-deprived with a high-pitched voice in my head repeating, "Hidoi kao shiteru!" -- "I look awful!".

Russian television I do miss, however. Having lived in Moscow for nearly three months this autumn, I've experienced real journalism and political talk shows to die for. These simply don't exist in North America.

Amusing, isn't it? Every few months yet another independent (as opposed to independent-thinking) international organization releases a study, in which it basically describes the Russian media as terrible government lackeys. Lackeys or not, Russian state channels are nearly virginal when it comes to the North American style of political correctness. As a result, these channels broadcast The Great Global Warming Swindle, openly and frequently discuss the Islamification of Europe, inverted Western societies, dropping European birth rates, and the death of the West in general.

In fact, the release of yet another statistical accusation targeting the Russian media a few days ago made me smirk in light of the painfully missing coverage of Climategate in North America. Evidently, the waste of millions taxpayer dollars is not important enough a story for, uhhh, independent "liberal" media to cover, but a bicycle-powered "green" (get it?!?!?) Christmas tree for the upcoming Copenhagen ManBearPig summit -- is!