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    • As a (rather sad) illustration of the current situation in the kleptocracy-ruled Russian Federation (and as an enlightening episode for those who tend to think "come on, it can't be THAT bad"), here's a link to HackerNews discussion about the current proceedings against the makers of nginx, the web server software that powers many if not most of the popular websites on the Internet.

      I'll volunteer my personal, entirely subjective and on the surface contingency-tinged timeline of the events:

      - nginx gets developed

      - ~15 years pass, during which due to a lot of hard work and excellency it becomes mega popular

      - the principal corporate entity formed to house the IP gets sold to F5 for ~$700 million, give or take (I think it was 670, but whatever)

      - a bit more time passes (less than a year)

      - somewhere somebody realises that a Russian resident sold his IP for a nice chunk of money and hasn't followed the 9.5 rules of doing business in Russia (see the HN link for those)

      - some phone calls and some crooked lawyers later, a completely bogus copyright case with zero legal grounds is being extra quickly and efficiently prosecuted with alleged damages of ~$800k, offices raided, and it is quite possible that the principal nginx author, Igor Sysoev< has already been detained, because no one seems to be able to contact him and another company official (if we are lucky, they are just a bit smarter and have managed to leave the country and go to ground until dust settles a bit)

    • Wow, that's absolutely crazy. I have a couple of handfuls of relatively close Russian friends and it was fascinating talking to them about the Chernobyl series that HBO released last year. It seemed to be massively popular inside Russia. They linked me to all kinds of supplemental interesting reading with stories I didn't know.

      The impression I got was they don't trust their government to tell the story at all and HBO was a breath of fresh air to them. On the other hand, I got the impression that Americans were somewhat skeptical of HBO's storytelling because there was a fictionalized scientist in the film to represent a lot of scientists, for the sake of simplified storytelling.

      Since then I've tried to keep some Russian media in my newsfeed to expand my understanding. This morning I read this brain blowing headline from RT. What should I be reading to get a decent perspective of what the Russian public thinks?

    • I don't think RT is particularly trustworthy, being the 'information' arm of the Russian Oligarchy. The headline seems legit to me, but whose societal crisis is it again? Has the east produced an activist of any age willing to take this on?

      Here are some docs for you to check out that tell part of the story of RT - well, from a western perspective anyway:

      Anyway, my thanks to @mbravo for sharing his perspective. I find Russia quite fascinating - in many ways it's a very similar country to Canada, but politically so very different. It has a smaller GDP than Canada, but more political clout (I think) and I suspect this is because power and money are concentrated into a fairly small group of like-minded people, and they are willing to do things that Canada would never do, internationally.

    • Definitely don't read or watch RT. Unless for counterpoint. For RT as a source, assume hidden agenda at best, manufactured "facts" and narratives and barefaced lies at their normal worst.
      It is not trivial to suggest a useful list of English-language sources that are more truthful or factual, I'll try tomorrow daytime.

    • > what the Russian public thinks

      Also, there's no such thing as Russian public, similarly as there's no abstract American public. Society is highly divided, and many groups just do not have a public voice at all, and/or a very distorted or misrepresented one via questionable media.

    • I was going through a box of family documents a few weeks ago and came across several issues of LOOK left by my grandmother (she died in 1988). This one, "Russia Today" dated October 3, 1967, is an entire issue devoted to Russia, 50 years after the Revolution of 1917. Imagine living under czarist rule, or even under Lenin’s Bolshevik government that followed!

      We are now at the 53-year mark since the editors at LOOK spent considerable resources to tout Russia's new freedoms for their 7.6 million readers. Ironic that many Americans view Russia as the biggest threat to our republic today. My, how the political tides turn!

      The articles have great titles:
      "We Don't Know Much About Each Other"
      "Russian Furs: Fashioned in the U.S.A., Photographed in Leningrad"
      "Russian Caviar: Fish Eggs at Ermine Prices"
      "Three Weeks in a Russian Town"
      "Friendship is Climbing a Soviet Mountain"
      "KGB: Its tentacles still reach around the world, creating mischief, probing for intelligence, recruiting spies"

      I have never been to Russia but have a longtime close friend who grew up there. She is one of the most brilliant people I know and I admire her. I think I would like the country in many ways and also be sensitive to those who have suffered greatly.

      As always, searching the past to understand the present, we find a new awareness. Yes, what is the state of things in Russia?

      About the cover: The photo was taken by Phillip A. Harrington, who has a very interesting background! Note the architectural "new and old" contrast, something I'm sure his assignment called for. I didn't do too much restoring of my scan but the magazine is even a bit more ragged-looking. I love the catchy "Bikinis, ballerinas, blinis" teaser.

      (You can see my grandmother's name and address on the mailing label. Little River, about 2 miles south of Mendocino where I grew up, is such a small town, there is no need to add a street name. That, plus her daughter was the postmaster then, lol.)

    • That Atlantic article was fascinating. I feel like I straddle two different Americas. One is in Southern Utah where my extended family lives in a very white conservative enclave. I love them and we’re very close. They are the kind of people who would do anything for you.

      But they watch Fox News together and seeth. They seeth about Mexicans and blacks and gays, about the decline in America’s moral values.

      And I live in Silicon Valley where we may have more immigrants from Asia and India than we have caucasians, I don’t know. I think I speak for almost everyone when I say we may appreciate the immigrants more than people who’ve been here several generations because they appreciate being here so much.

      We took one of our closest family friends, a couple from Nigeria, to meet our family in Utah. Once they came to know our friends they came to adore them. It broke their brains a little.

      Anyway, I heard a Brit on NPR say this morning about Boris Johnson’s landslide: “What’s hard to understand? We don’t want immigrants and we don’t like giving our money to poor nations.”

      That made me think of my family in Utah and how they wish for what America used to be.

    • Here's another tiny piece very illustrative of the massive undercurrent of systemic lies that is the contemporary Russian government and politics (it is in Russian, but short enough that Google Translate will help you out) -

      Pictured is a box containing, ostensibly, a network switch. Marked as made in Russia by a (state-owned, heavily associated with military) Russian corporation, with all the certifications (for which, if you are foolish enough to try manufacturing such things on your own, you have to, essentially, both pay kickbacks to state security services, masqueraded as licensing/certification fees and quite likely be pressured to install backdoors and means of government access/control), etc. But if you peel the label....

      For better context, you need to understand that the current creeping legislative clamp (with the Duma rubber-stamping the most degenerate no-clue bills) has already been wound so tight that people are going to jail from the post office where they have been receiving their $20 wifi camera they bought on Aliexpress, because it has been deemed "spy equipment". I might be slightly exaggerating (maybe it's not $20 but $40), but there are multiple cases (and sentences) exactly like described. And the whole thing about "import replacement" propaganda and bulldozering tons of foreign-made food because "we're not buying your food you imperialist bastards how dare you place sanctions on us".

      Especially ironic in the context of the whole (mostly justified, IMHO) Huawei brouhaha in the West.

    • I think I would like the country in many ways and also be sensitive to those who have suffered greatly.

      Russia is an incredibly interesting and warm and beautiful and diverse country. And so are most of the people. Foreign adventure travellers criscrossing it have invariably been confirming that in many ways, and almost always come back with amazing stories of open spaces, nature and human hospitality (sans an inevitable bad apple every now and then).

      And exactly because of that, even without all the contrast with the hopeful if hardscrabble 1990s, what the thieves and criminals at the helm are currently doing to the country and to the people, poisoning and dismantling the society, fills me with so much sadness.

    • Thank you for confirming that, @mbravo. When I was working at Lonely Planet, I was fascinated with the images from Russia, Czech Republic and Slovakia and we were constantly trying to find more images of those regions for the library. There are so many areas to explore!

      The Soviet Union was and probably still is to some extent, governing the arts, and while it's wonderful to support writers, painters, composers, and performers, when the obligation in return is undeviating support of the state there is little room left for true expression. I am not sure I fully embrace the concept of artists as civil servants!

    • this is not related to the original cause for this post, but rather an illustration to the ongoing conversation. This is a picture a friend shared, it's a memo for social workers in Estonia who are likely to work with ex-USSR persons (either ageing emigrants or those who stayed in Estonia as it gained independence)

    • My Russian friends don’t smile for photos, including Vien. S just not a cultural thing, I guess.

      On the other hand, t helped launch a new Uber service.

    • I feel a stab of bitter irony that Iran has confessed to shooting down the passenger plane in error, even though the timing could not be worse for them, and Russia has not and probably will never take responsibility for MH117 :/