December 15, 2016

Of mutts and men


Of mutts and men

Dogs, doping, and dirty words

1. Who would say no to a gift of a friendly, fluffy puppy? President Vladimir Putin would, but for political reasons, not hound-hating ones. Is the declined dog a sign of ruff relations between Russia and Japan? Putin has said that there are no territorial disputes between the countries, but the decades-long disagreement over the Kuril Islands shows there’s no puppy love between them. With neither country keen to relinquish the land, one of the leaders will have to throw the other one a bone.

2. There’s a skeleton in the closet, and it’s Russia’s upcoming bobsled competition. The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation announced that it’s moving the championship tournament out of Sochi. The announcement came on the heels of the latest World Anti-Doping Agency report on doping by Russian athletes, and even though the report didn’t directly accuse Russian sledders, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the move a "politicized decision.” He’s right to be worried: push out the bobsled, and it’s a downhill slide from there.

3. A foreign diplomat is generally responsible for fielding debates, making deals, and occasionally, swearing at reporters. At least, that’s what Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did at a Council of Foreign Ministers meeting this past week, barking “What do you want?” at a Reuters cameraman and then whispering “debily,” which loosely (and politely) translates to “morons.” It’s not the first time Lavrov has been caught on tape saying naughty words, either. Someone needs to wash his mouth out with soap.

In Odder News

  • It takes a lot of holiday spirit to do winter photography in Moscow. But it’s worth it for the views.
mymodernmet.com
  • Upping the oyster: the last year has seen mussel and oyster production in Russia double.
  • Times New Roman is out of time in Russia: Russian agencies are being deprived of it and other popular fonts due to sanctions. A font of knowledge can’t always be a font of fonts.

Quote of the Week

"Unfortunately, we heard from our counterparts, and our hope to present a bridegroom was dashed."
—Japanese MP Koichi Hagiuda on the news that Japan’s offer of a new dog for President Putin was rejected.

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Moscow and Muscovites

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Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

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At the Circus

At the Circus

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
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Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
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