Wednesday, 27 April 2022

pronkssรตdur

After talks of relocation triggered controversy and violent rioting referred to as Bronze Night (Pronksiรถรถ), municipal authorities in Tallinn dismantled and moved a Soviet-era war memorial called the Bronze Soldier built at the site of war graves on this day in 2007. Originally dedicated to the “Liberators of Estonia” it was renamed as the “Monument to the Fallen,” and while seen as a symbol of Soviet occupation and suppression after World War II by many, Russian populations, intensely protesting the decision and crippling the country with cyber-attacks, viewed the statue, prominently in the city centre, as not only representative of victory over the Nazis in the Great Patriotic War but also legimitising their claim to Estonia—set to re-establish their independence after Germany’s retreat. The statue and remains of the dead were placed, re-interred in the national military cemetery outside of Tallinn. One direct outcome of the riots and targeting of Estonian essential infrastructure was the creation of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, located in the capital.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

arch-fiends

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko announced that the Soviet-era monument, a large titanium arch in the city centre over an ensemble of statues including two bronze workers erected in 1982 on the sixtieth anniversary of the USSR and fifteen-hundredth anniversary of the founding of Kiev representing the Order of Friendship of Peoples will undergo alterations.  Known locally as ะฏั€ะผะพ́, the comrades holding aloft a medal symbolising this accord that saw the reunification of Ukraine with Russia have been dismantled (see also), and whilst the arch—which since the 2014 annexation of Crimea has born a crack painted by activists to indicate the strained relationship—will remain but be highlighted in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.  Reportedly, the figure representing Russia was accidentally decapitated during removal, and further streets (see previously) named for Russian personages will be renamed—emphasising of course that Russian culture is not under attack but rather the ideology of monument and memorial is liable to be bankrupt given current affairs.

Friday, 8 April 2022

imperial ambitions

On this day in 1783, Czarina Catherine the Great announced the annexation, following a favourable outcome in the Russo-Turkic Wars against the Ottoman Empire, of Crimea, the right-bank of the Kuban region and the Taman peninsula that separates the Azov from the Black Sea. Other territorial expansion during long reign included parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Novorossiya (roughly corresponding to the Bessarabia region of Moldova and coastal areas of Ukraine) as well as Russian America. Also on this day in 1812, Czar Alexander I (grandson of the former) issued a decree to make Helsinki the capital of the semi-autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland—having seceded from Sweden and part of the Russian Empire from 1809 until 1917

Thursday, 7 April 2022

putinversteher

In circulation since the 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea (even nominated as Unwort of the year then but losing out to the below)  and now rising again to common-parlance and international recognition, the German term for a sympathiser or apologist of the president of the Russian Federation with the noun that generally means “understander” joins a cadre of words that have entered English in recent years (see previously), drawing sometimes apt but imperfect parallels to the US invasions of Iraq, Grenada, or Vietnam—careful not to condone or endorse violence but at the same time invoking deflection and whataboutism (a tu quoque fallacy). The article from Deutsche Welle goes on to report that the use of the letter ‘Z’ to signal support of the Russian aggression has been outlawed in this country, the letter with no unambiguous interpretation and a Cyrillic corresponding letter which seems strange considering the country’s nationalism. Theories on the distinguishing markers on otherwise identical tactical vehicles range from ะทะฐะฟะฐะด (Romanised as zapad—or a war against the West), ะทะฐ ะฟะพะฑะตะดัƒ (for victory) or grimly and commiserate with the atrocities seen ะทะฐั‡ะธัั‚ะบะฐ, an unofficial military term for a cleansing operation, room-to-room searches

Saturday, 2 April 2022

unalaska

Discounting the fact that the territory was home to untold thousands of aboriginal peoples long before the imperial aspirations of either faded superpower or exhausted petrostate, we missed the apparent threats made by Russia that it would reclaim in recompense for illegal sanctions not only its former holdings just across the Bering Straits (only a day—due to the International Date Line—and three and a half kilometers apart) but also the whole of Antartica plus small outposts in Hawaiสปi and California (again, already people living there) including Fort Ross (ะšั€ัฃะฟะพัั‚ัŒ ะ ะพัััŠ) in present-day Sonoma County which was sold to John Sutter, renaming the settlement Sutter’s Mill and going on to start the Gold Rush in short order. As for the latter, the parliamentarian and Putin-loyalist claimed the sale was invalid and that Sutter never paid but as with the former case and present casus belli it’s all specious ackamarackus.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

catchascatchkhan

The unrecognised, break-away region of South Ossetia, in northern Georgia on the border with Russia willhold a referendum shortly for the fifty thousand residents of the militarily occupied territory to decide whether or not to begin the accession process to and be absorbed by its neighbour. The other break-away region, Abkhazia, maintains it has no such plans at the present. Declaring independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian forces have held de facto control since the 2008 Georgian-Russo conflict. The last time the Russia Federation annexed the land of another sovereign country was when it took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, incorporating the independent Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol after a much shorter period of transition lasting only weeks.

Monday, 28 March 2022

for my military knowledge, though i’m plucky and adventury has only been brought down to the beginning of the century

Caveats against drawing parallels respected, we quite enjoyed this lyrical military assessment of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at a month on, which not only highlights how the aggressor is doing a reverse of what they did to Napoleon—as expounded by history and Tolstoy, but as one commentator finds, the rank inexperience and hubris of the Gilbert and Sullivan character (see previously). Here’s a couple of stanzas for an excerpt:

I am the very model of a Russian Major General

My standing in the battlefield is growing quite untenable

My forces, though equipped and given orders unequivocal

Did not expect the fight to be remotely this reciprocal

I used to have a tank brigade but now I have lost several

My fresh assaults are faltering with battle plans extemporal

I can’t recover vehicles but farmers in a tractor can

It’s all becoming rather reminiscent of Afghanistan

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

8x8

many years later, as he faced the firing squad, colonel aureliano buendia was to remember that weird folgers commercial where it implied the brother and sister were hooking up: first drafts of the greatest first lines in literature 

stories and studies of strange things: the life and legacy of Lafcadio Hearn (ฮ ฮฑฯ„ฯฮฏฮบฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฮ›ฮตฯ…ฮบฮฌฮดฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฮงฮตฯฮฝ / ๅฐๆณ‰ ๅ…ซ้›ฒ) itinerant author and journalist who introduced the Western world to Japan 

censored: people in Russia are frantically downloading Wikipedia in the wake of the threat of Roskomnadzor to ban it 

haunted art: an exhibition of the lingering possession in US museum collections 

the rites of spring: an arboreal celebration  

frozen chosen: unusual Antarctic ergot 

uncanny valley: AI rendered stories read by humans  

no set back: great authors on rejection

Saturday, 19 March 2022

6x6

letters of marque and reprisal: US congress—which has displayed some rare moments of unity lately with abolishing Day Light Saving time and agreeing on a budget—looks also poised to commission piracy and the seizure of oligarchs’ assets  

unit patches: an assortment of mission badges from the US Space Force—see also here and here  

redacted: Sunshine Week and the least forthcoming US government agencies  

ambassador, the thane of cawdor / dialect so def, it’ll rip up the floor: notes on rap and language  

album amicorum: revisiting the seventh century friend book, das GroรŸe Stammbuch, of diplomat and influencer Philipp Hainhofer  

uncle vanya’s: after mass exodus of Western companies, Russia seems poised to appropriate and nationalise franchises

Friday, 18 March 2022

you have the true heart of russia

Arnold Schwarzenegger (previously) delivered a heart-felt and emotional appeal to the people of Russia to stop the violence and press for peace. Extremely popular in Russia and universally admired, during the Obama administration foreign policy advisor Fiona Hill lobbied for the actor and politician to be installed as US ambassador to Russia.

prank calls

Both the UK defence minister and and home secretary took video calls earlier this week from imposters claiming to be the Ukrainian prime minister and were posed leading questions in an attempt to solicit inappropriate and provocative responses but quickly saw through the hoax. Though unclear what party was behind it, officials are blaming Russian disinformation campaigns and the fact that fraudsters could gain access to top ministers is worrying regardless of motive—the report ending with a linguistic coda touching on the topic of shibboleths and that future callers should be credentialed or outed by how they pronounce palianytsia, a traditional kind of roll, that Russian speakers pronounce with a soft <ฤญ> instead of <ะธ>.

Monday, 14 March 2022

prvรก slovenskรก republika

Under considerable pressure from Nazi Germany, the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia declared independence and became a client state of the Third Reich on this day in 1939. The next day Germany invaded and occupied Bohemia and Moravia, establishing a protectorate administered from Prague castle, having annexed the bordering Sudetenland in September 1938 following the Munich Agreement. Slovak troops were conscripted into fighting resistance forces in Poland and against Russia, and liberated (having attempted their own revolt and uprising in August 1944) by the advancing Red Army in 1945, the territory was reincorporated into Czechoslovakia. Again securing independence on New Year’s Day 1993 in what’s called the amicable Velvet Divorce, the Republic of Slovakia does not consider itself the successor state to the war time puppet regime but rather the Czechoslovakian government-in-exile of Edvard Beneลก. History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

Thursday, 10 March 2022

7x7

stacy’s dad has got me down bad: a Fountains of Wayne cover from a different perspective  

imperial trans-antarctic expedition: the shipwreck of Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 exploratory mission discovered  

beachcomber: eighteenth-century seaweed pressings speak to fecklessness and romance 

ithaca: an new AI model is helping scholars decipher and date ancient inscriptions  

x-wing: Star Wars space craft size comparison  

snowmen: David Lynch’s haunting images—evocative of Eraserhead from Boise, Idaho in the early ‘90s  

there’s a doll, inside of doll, inside a doll, inside a dolly: Robbie Williams’ 2016 Party Like a Russian was inspired by an encounter with the inner-circle of oligarchs when asked to perform at a New Year’s Eve party

Monday, 7 March 2022

forwarding order

Though not quite undertaken as an official act of righteous odonymy just yet (see previously here and here), we discover that a group of peaceful protesters have re-addressed the Russian embassy in Washington, DC so that correspondence and directions point to Zelenskyy Way. We’ll see if this temporary re-designation might become something permanent.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

black tulip

Premiered in 2019 during the Venice Film Festival and the country’s Oscar entry for 2021, the Ukrainian dystopian, post-apocalyptic Atlantis by Valentyn Vasyanovych is set in 2025 and profiles the trials of a recovery organisation in a desolate wildness rendered arid and nearly uninhabitable after a protracted war with Russia and securing an arguably pyrrhic victory with asymmetrical fighting—with the message ultimately hopeful and optimistic rather than the cynical echoes of the reputed words of Caledonian chieftain Calgacus who fought the Romans in Scotland: they make a desert and call it peace. Categorised at least formerly as science fiction, the movie is available for streaming and to invoke another loose quotation, this time by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.”

Thursday, 3 March 2022

8x8

wild chapluns and pea beasts: the vibrant art of Maria Prymachenko, via Kottke

ill-gotten assets: those who are tracking the jets, yachts and other property of sanctioned Russian oligarchs, via Maps Mania (with more resources)

subway hands: a collection by Hannah La Follette Ryan—via Everlasting Blรถrt
blades & brass: a 1967 short to commemorate the first indoor hockey match, held on this day in 1875  

nostromo: a sixty-second Alien remake using household items (see also)

try to keep up: five news take-aways for today

megamix: Hood Internet (previously) celebrates entering the Naughts with a 90s retrospective, via Boing Boing 

world central kitchen: chef and humanitarian Josรฉ Andrรฉs helps out in Ukraine, via Super Punch

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

pridnestrain

Coinciding with the intensified fighting of the Transnistrian conflict that marked the beginning of the Moldo-Russian war between Russian supported separatists and pro-union Moldovan military and police forces, that country along with San Marino and fellow former Soviet republics Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan join the United Nations on this day in 1992 during the forty-sixth session of the General Assembly.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

freden i stolbova

Concluding the Ingrian War that began nearly seven years earlier on this day in 1617, the Treaty of Stolbovo was negotiated and agreed upon between Czar Michael I of the Russian Empire and the Swedish military leader Jakob De La Gardie. Establishing the Empire of Sweden’s influence in the Baltic, the leaders met on the shores of Lake Ladoga outside Saint Petersburg, King Gustavus Adolphus—still chuffed with their victory in Novgorod and in the push for unity under the Peace of Kalmar—eventually relented during the two months of talks for their demands to make all Russian trade with Western Europe pass through Swedish-controlled territory, demands reaching far north as the port of Arkhangelsk in part due to the intervention of a team of Dutch and English mediators who didn’t want to see a Swedish monopoly on commerce and to install as Swedish duke as czar, but final terms did include Russian terroritorial concessions in Ingria and Karelia plus indemnities, and in exchange for renouncing claims to Estonia and Livonia, effective locked out of the Baltic Sea, Sweden returned Novgorod to Russia. Michael of the House Romanov was recognised by all parties as the rightful ruler and tariffs were normalised so as not to further cripple the Empire’s economy.

8x8

glass menagerie: more microbiological models from Luke Jerram—see previously 

instant city: a 1971, tented utopian experiment on the northern coast of Ibiza  

dearc sgiathanach: superlative winged pterosaur found on the Island of Skye 

kye marn: incredible papier mรขchรฉ Carnival masks from Jacmel, Haiti 

the wags, jubilee plus christmas gambols: nautical song composer Charles Dibdin, forgotten eighteenth century superstar—via Strange Company 

a strange game—the only winning move is not to play: the rise of gamification in all systems and how to avoid getting caught up in it unawares  

ัะฝะต, ะฑะตะฝะต, ั€ะตั: a Russian counting rhyme, like yan, tan, tethera  

angiogenic properties: materials scientists development bioactive glass (also used to repair broken bones) that repels virtually all germs

Saturday, 26 February 2022

uncontrolled deorbit

Unhinged and counter to the continued spirit of competition and cooperation that sustained a polarised world—at least until billionaires started sucking all the air of the room with their ambitions, the chief of the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) suggests that a not asymmetrical response to mounting sanctions levied against Russia for invading Ukraine would be to crash the International Space Station with North America, Europe, India or China all being within the path of impact. While Russia modules do help keep the five-hundred tonne structure aloft and help to dodge space debris, the process would note be immediate and orbit would degrade over several years, with time for it to be restored.