September 01, 2013

Reset, Shmeeset


Reset, Shmeeset

It would be an understatement to say US-Russian relations have hit a low point. Not a Cuban Missile Crisis or even a 1980 Olympic Boycott sort of low point. More like a US bombing of Belgrade or Russian sleeper spies discovered in America sort of low point.

I could list off the many current, contentious issues. Yet as anyone who has fulfilled the venerable task of caring for small children knows, you don't stop bickering by listing their crimes and offenses. Mediation, time-outs and reset buttons are also paltry solutions.

No, the best way to stop children (or nations) from bickering is to refocus their attention on a larger, shared threat or problem.

An alien or zombie invasion would do the trick, but, thankfully, both are rather unlikely. Yet there are many larger problems we could ask our children - sorry, leaders – to focus on, so as to distract them from pesky issues like spies, leakers, homosexuals and human rights.

Therefore, be it resolved that a Bilateral Anti-Bickering Commission be established to pursue the following:

1. Mission to Mars. NASA and the Russian Space Agency have an excellent collaborative relationship and that should be broadened. Let's put our scientific A-teams together and design a multi-year project to send a Russian-American team to our sister planet by 2020.

2. Clean Nukes. While we are at it, let's assemble another team of top scientists and engineers. This one will design, develop and deploy an open-source, fourth generation nuclear plant that creates no nuclear waste and is absolutely safe. And let's do it under the aegis of a global non-profit corporation that donates all its proceeds from sales and installation of the power plants to useful, planet-sustaining endeavors like purifying water and planting forests.

3. Pick One. Let's pick one difficult global issue that truly impacts millions of average people's lives (land mines, animal poaching, human trafficking, malaria, AIDS) and set up a team to devote political, economic, public relations, and of course financial resources to really making a difference in the course of one year. Better yet, let's pick one issue per year for five years and work together to mobilize international resources and mindspace.

4. Fresh Water, Abundant Seas. Over the next 50 years fresh water is likely to become a commodity over which wars will be fought, while our oceans are in danger of becoming fish-free. Our planet's water issues are solvable, but only if they get attention now, not later. We should put a team in charge of ensuring (through the UN, international organizations, coercion of intransigent politicians, etc.) that, by 2050, world sea harvests are managed sustainably and every human on Earth has reliable access to potable drinking water.

Yes, these are some huge challenges. But why should we shrink from them, just because they are big?

To quote the great philosopher Yoda: "Do or no do, there is no try."

Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
Steppe / Степь (bilingual)

Steppe / Степь (bilingual)

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
Okudzhava Bilingual

Okudzhava Bilingual

Poems, songs and autobiographical sketches by Bulat Okudzhava, the king of the Russian bards. 
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
At the Circus (bilingual)

At the Circus (bilingual)

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.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955