30 January 2018

Lenin and the log: a recent rendition that leaves comedy standing

The oldish post of mine Subbotnik, Lenin and the log is crucial for better understanding of the following. There isn't much verbiage, it is all in the pictures, so go there first.

The article Now I have seen it all... Ballet "Lenin and the log" is faithfully translated here with no additions from yours truly.

It turned out that the video "Lenin with a log", actively discussed in recent days, is not a fake, but a real ballet "Falcons of Revolution" staged by the head of the State Academic Dance Theater of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Bulat Ayukhanov.

The ballet is devoted to the ideas of equality and fraternity on the labor front. The play is divided into three parts. In the first appears the leader of the world proletariat. To the music of Georgy Sviridov "Time, Forward" Ilyich helps his party comrades to carry the log during a proletarian clean-up [Subbotnnik]. The theme of labor enthusiasm continues with a scene in the fields, where ballerinas dance in masks of old women.

In an interview with "Rossiyskaya Gazeta" Bulat Ayukhanov told the details:

"The premiere of the ballet took place in Almaty in 2013 and was a resounding success. Then it was called "Hammer and Sickle". Now we have made some changes and called it "Falcons of the Revolution." The main characters - Abai (Kazakh poet, public figure), Marx, Lenin, Stalin and our Kazakhstani president (Nursultan Nazarbayev) - he appeared on stage at the end of the ballet. "

There is nothing to add, just enjoy.

16 January 2018

False alarm on Hawaii and the people of Sderot

Even several days after the advent of the false alarm, issued on Hawaii by a hapless employee, the noise and the excitement caused by the alarm have not abated. The number of search results on the subject,  returned by Google, is staggering - above 5 million hits:

This CNN article reports on the level of anxiety and panic caused by the event, and it is quite helpful to watch the included clip to learn about the terror in the people's minds.
"You're thinking, 'Oh my gosh, are we going to die? Is it really a missile (headed) our way, or is it just a test?'" the 24-year-old told CNN. "We really didn't know."

The Hawaiian incident started a wave of introspection in other places, interestingly. Such as this, fairly ridiculous BBC piece:

Hawaii false alarm: How would UK handle missile threat?

The conclusion is, as expected - poorly. Why wold anyone today aim a ballistic missile at London isn't the subject of the article. And the insignificant question of where was all that expected readiness years ago, during the Cold War, when such an outcome was more realistic, remains unanswered, of course.

After looking at all this for a while, I couldn't avoid comparing this affair with the almost weekly (and real) terror experienced by the citizens of Sderot* in their provincial and mundane routine. Such as shown in this clip:

Almost weekly, I said... yeah, and during a conflagration it happens many times a day. But panic, heartbreak and PTSD of Israeli kids and adults, happening in reality, are of much lesser interest, of course:
Nope, I don't really envy the popularity of that missile "incident", nor do I try to diminish the possible implications of Kim the Fatso madness, it is just that... what, really?

I don't know. You tell me.

(*) Apologies to the good people of many other towns and villages around the Gaza strip, not mentioned above. Me too, you know...

10 January 2018

Exhumation of Stalin's fetid carcass: step by step

People carry a portrait of Soviet leader Josef Stalin during a march to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in Sevastopol in Russian occupied Crimea on May 9, 2017,
The slow motion Russian zombocalypse - returning to unlife the Bolshevik murderers and tyrants - is nothing new. It started in a relatively hushed manner, with Stalin and his sidekicks favorably mentioned on different state occasions. With Stalin's portraits appearing in private dwellings. With Stalin's statues reappearing in various cities, joined by Lenin, Dzerzhinsky etc.

Today nobody stirs while reading that "Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the "excessive demonization" of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin "is one means of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia.""

This roundabout expression of support for the smelly stiff pales, though, compared to the following clip. The recording comes from Omsk, not from a central Russian media outfit. Boonies by Russian standards, but the level of adoration heaped on the premier mass murderer is staggering. So I decided to translate the speech for those in the West who might be interested.


On December 25th 135 years passed from the birthday of Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin. During the time of his rule [sic!] Stalin succeeded to return to the State all historically Russian lands, lost as a result of wars and political intrigues. Under his direct guidance a really socially-oriented economy was created. It excluded parasitism and exploitation. In addition a powerful industrial-technological breakthrough occurred. The national economy progressed without crises and credits and without foreign manpower. The Soviet state succeeded on its own, without borrowing foreign capital, to perform a grandiose program of socialist endeavor. And this on the background of devastating international economic depression. A two-dimensional (?) system of pricing, the most effective in the history of humanity, was created.

Profit was derived not like it is done now - from a components of the end product - but from the end product itself. Thus the whole system was aimed at reduction of costs and reduction of the consumer prices. This is what allowed reduction of prices and increase of wages.

Iosif Vissarionovich was ahead of the whole world in the development of democracy. USSR already had direct elections system since 1936. Moreover, he insisted that the elections be equal and the ballot - secret. For comparison we'll remind that the least democratic elections system is the American one, where it is not direct and the right to elect was given to Americans only in the sixties [XX century]. It will be prudent to mention that the "exemplary democracy" in Switzerland allowed women to participate in election only in 1972.

From the point of view of a regular worker, unskilled in politics and economics, evaluation of Stalin's achievements could be expressed in simple words:
  • A worker could be paid more than director.
  • Everyone was guaranteed free healthcare.
  • Pensions were higher than a minimal cost of life.
  • Everyone could achieve free high education.
  • A peasant boy, having the ability, could grow to become a minister.
  • The referees in Olympic games were literally afraid to judge our athletes unfair.
  • Not a single shred of Russian land could be sold to a foreign speculator.
The people loved Stalin and our enemies feared him. Our enemies fear Stalin even today, and, as long as the power of his spirit is alive in every one of us, as long as we feel pride in our past and believe in our strength, we are invincible.


So there. I am not commenting on this at all.

One remark only: after reading the list of Stalin's achievements, I realised that I want to live in USSR.


08 January 2018

CNN on NK Fatso or how to produce a tasty nothing burger

Just a bit of the usual grumbling about the media. Probably my stomach problems and all... anyway, here it is.

The headline was way too alluring to skip:

Who is Kim Jong Un? Separating myth from fact

There are two key sentences, one at the beginning of the piece and one a bit down the screen:
The little that is known about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is, for the most part, questionable.
All conclusions over Kim Jong Un's motives are speculative at best, and preposterously hysterical at worst.
Saying this, the author succeeded to produce a very long screed, full of information that could be easily collected by a most unprofessional internet surfer. Freely available to all. And no separation of crap from fact, as promised...

And Jamie Tarabay, the author of the piece, has a formidable record, according to this.

So why?

06 January 2018

Arseny Aleksandrovich Tarkovsky and quandaries of translation

Arseny Aleksandrovich Tarkovsky, one of very few in the Russian poetry of XX century, was a man of tragic times and his life was tragic as well. A poet who, while he escaped the fate of his peers (like Osip Mandelshtam) in the bloody thirties, had his first book published at the age of 55. This alone should tell you most of his life story. Still, he was one of very few to have that elusive deity of poetry guide his pen.

But this post is about translation. One of the most known in the West poems by A.T. is Первые Свидания, a poem dedicated to a woman he loved till his last breath, over several marriages and over life full of pain. And here starts the saga of translation.

In fact, the closest (and most fitting) translation of the title Первые Свидания would have been First Trysts. The multiple attempts of translation ended up with: First Meetings, First Dates, First Times Together, ...

And from this point it all went downhill. The poem itself is a perfect example of a poet at the peak of his power, using the rhythm and the rhyme to the utmost, in their most difficult implementation. With absolute success, at least for a layman like I. So it isn't easy to translate, a towering challenge for anyone. And the last, say, 6 lines, present an even more insurmountable goal:
Сама ложилась мята нам под ноги,
И птицам с нами было по дороге,
И рыбы подымались по реке,
И небо развернулось пред глазами…

Когда судьба по следу шла за нами,
Как сумасшедший с бритвою в руке.
Try your Google Translate and see what kind of challenge these lines provide, even without knowing the original language. Especially the two last lines, justly characterized by Philip Metres here:
The final two lines, a brutal couplet, suddenly brings the lovers into the cold, where fate will have its say—like a madman with a razor. The scales of the poem tip from romance to tragedy.
Yep. He got it. However, the translation he and his Russian colleague provided, didn't get it:
And mint bowed down beneath our feet,
And birds hovered above our heads.
And fish nosed against the river’s flow,
And the sky unfurled above the land…

While behind us, fate followed
Like a madman with a razor in his hand.
In addition to the above translation I have checked another four: First Meetings, First Dates, First Meetings and again First Dates. Only the last one, by Rupert Moreton, somewhat rises to the challenge:
And underfoot was minty sward’s foundation,
And birds along the way flew in formation,
Against the flow the fish were swimming free,
Before our eyes the heavens were unfolding…

Behind us still our fate was grimly holding,
A razor-handed madman, seeking fee.
Playing a bit loose with the text, but doing his best with rhyme and rhythm. Still not there, but more in the spirit of the poem than the others, to my taste.

Oh well, the challenge isn't going away anytime soon.

In the following clip, from the movie The Mirror by Andrei Tarkovsky (the famous son of A.T.), A.T. himself reads the poem.

Even if you don't know the language, the music is there. Enjoy.

03 January 2018

About an alleged article in National Post

Alleged: 1. Declared but not proved; 2. Doubtful or suspect

The above mentioned article in National Post doesn't fit the meaning #1. Being a perennial student of this wonderful language, I can't be totally sure, but I would call the article doubtful. Or suspect. As in "suspect in being skewed to favor one of the parties involved", for instance.

But let's not make an issue of the notorious Tamimi family, it is already overblown as it is. This time it is about reporting, and here is an outstanding example for all lovers of English:

The caption of that picture (which I have chosen to take a snapshot of for posterity) introduced a novel tweak in the use of the word "alleged". Namely: "...after a viral video showing them allegedly assaulting two Israeli soldiers...". Such an artful conjunction of "video showing" and "allegedly" should be studied by all aspiring journalists, I suggest.

That will be all. Oh, and here, allegedly, is the alleged video of the alleged lady allegedly attacking the alleged soldiers.

02 January 2018

The proper progressive response to Iranian people

People are dying on the streets of Iranian cities. Not people with rifles or stones in their hands: just people who are unhappy with the extremist regime of Ayatollahs. Regime that prefers to spend their people's money on fomenting terror over the globe and producing more and more weaponry to become a regional superpower.

Accidentally, that same regime that the last POTUS, Barack Hussein Obama II, decided to befriend from the start of his first presidency. We all know how it ended: with a nuclear agreement hardly worth the paper it was written upon and with "Death to America" demos continuing and even increasing in frequency on the streets of Tehran.

And how do the Western progressive liberals respond to the unrest in Iran? My first jaw-dropping experience with that response was via an article in NYT:

How Can Trump Help Iran’s Protesters? Be Quiet.

The headline is quite sufficient to understand the trend, but here is what is probably the main passage of that (frankly revolting) opus:

One reason to worry that Mr. Trump may try to seize the moment by championing the protesters is that it has become an article of faith among President Barack Obama’s critics than in 2009 he missed a golden opportunity to do just that, when many Iranians took to the streets after a disputed election result. But it was never clear what difference American rhetorical support would have made then, other than allowing the Iranian government to depict the protesters as American lackeys, giving the security services more of a pretext to crack down violently.
Of course, this bit of circular logic (or poisonous wisdom, you name it) is applicable to any tyranny in this here world. And, if you learn a bit about the author of this dreck, one Philip Gordon, who appears to be "a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an assistant secretary of state and White House coordinator for the Middle East during the Obama administration", you shall understand better the roots. You shall also understand better what kind of "assistants" the last POTUS has chosen - to sing hosannas to his international politicking...

But this is not about the POTUS, it is about people dying in the streets, to remind you. Something that should be protested and fought against. And I guess it will be vociferously protested if it were to happen on the streets of, say, San Francisco or London or Buda... no, it is too Eastern for the true progressives, let's say Berlin instead , OK?

Tehran is where all these brown people live, after all. They have their own customs and their own culture, they have that Religion of Peace thing that we are obliged to respect, so it is not our business to stick our noses where our noses definitely don't belong, right?

And speaking about the right: Mr Gordon here is a living proof, among many others, of how the modern progressive left has made the successful voyage to the place where the ultra-conservative paleocons with their non-involvement motto lay in wait for their victory. Now these two, ostensibly mutually exclusive gangs, could lay down together in the same bed.

Of course, Mr Gordon is only a single example. Here are more, from different (oh well...) media giants (headlines only, you can imagine the contents):

Iran: By supporting protests, Donald Trump may inadvertently be helping the government's cause

Trump's backing of Iranian protesters could backfire as Tehran cracks down

The progressive echo chamber at its full glory. And bless the fact that you can't smell the said glory as well...

And here is a slightly different source, one Iranian-British citizen, Aaron Bastani, a Labor activist:
Imploring y'all to desist with your wishes for a change (Remember, the CHANGE?), because the results will be frightful, not to mention the usual suspects fomenting unrest... sweet, ain't it?

Oh well, so what can we all learn from this progressive thing? Only this, I am afraid: