Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Why Russia is about to invade Ukraine

     Have you ever seen anything made in Russia? I don't mean an automobile or a toaster? I mean slacks. Or a steak knife.
     I bet you haven't. Russia doesn't even have a significant share of the vodka market. The United States exports more vodka than Russia. So does Sweden. And France.
     Ever wonder why that is? This is the nation that once known for its craftsmanship. Whose jewelers constructed those amazing Faberge eggs, the treasure of kings. The answer: because Russia is a failed state. Nearly a century of soul-crushing, initiative-dampening communism morphing into an organized crime kleptocracy. A totalitarian state reflecting the grain-of-sand soul of Vladimir Putin, a former KGB goon. Without natural gas they'd be even more impoverished than they already are.
     Its people are crushed down, cynical bitter. The result of living in an atmosphere of official lies. Something for Americans to look forward to, perhaps.
     Hence the pending Ukrainian invasion. Because everyone wants to be significant, or at least pretend to be, even nations screwed by themselves and history. They need to shine on the world stage, and aggression is the go-to move of the weak. Every 5th grade dimwit, every isolated octogenarian sputtering contempt at the others in the day room; constant criticism and knee jerk hostility is the language of the weak, oppression their philosophy, their religion.
 It's all they have left to feel important, powerful, alive. That's why the Republican Party, as it shifts into a totalitarian cult, has to conjure up imaginary weeping liberals and lap up their tears, an elixir to maintain their strength. Because otherwise they got nothing. And why they must be opposed. The only argument they understand is defeat, their natural condition.


  1. I remember articles about when the Soviet Union exported TVs to Poland.
    They all caught fire.

  2. Is there a more effective way to conclusively demonstrate that one is a loser than by refusing to ever acknowledge, when it is abundantly clear to everyone, that one has lost?

  3. Russia exports sidecar motorcycles that are copies of pre-WW2 BMWs. Their poor quality and unreliability is legendary, but they've improved over the years (and now use many Western components) so they've probably achieved the quality level of a 1960s Japanese motorcycle.

  4. I worked for the INS and HIAS helping Russian Jewish emigres in 1979 in Rome as they awaited acceptance to the US and other nations. Italy accepted them as it brought in revenue. The INS paid for their room and board. In addition to processing the emigres, my job was to help them learn about employment in America. Some worked as interpreters for me.
    They were fascinating people but fooled into believing their products were of superior quality. Many brought with them various items to sell in Rome to make more money. Things such as cameras, art, etc.
    They knew I was an amateur photographer and brought me a Zenit to see if I was interested in buying. It was junk. I regret not buying it.

  5. My great-uncle was born in Russia in 1907. He used to visit us when I was a kid. When I was about 13-14 (early 60s), he took a long trip to Europe, and gave me all his loose change when he got back to the States...coins from almost every European country, even from what was then known as the Soviet Union. It wasn't that easy to get into Russia back in the day, but somehow, they let him in.

    He knew that I was a smoker (I started in eighth grade), so he gave me a pack of Russian cigarettes. They were called Laikas, and they looked a lot like Lucky Strikes. The brand was named after the dog Laika, the first animal launched into space by the USSR in 1957, a month after Sputnik I.

    The pack was blue and white, featuring the dog on the front and the word "Laika" in Russian, as well as the Sputnik II, the hammer and sickle, the moon, and a few stars. The back had some Russian words, a seal of approval, a date stamp, and "Made in U.S.S.R."--written in English.

    I wish I still had that Laika cigarette pack. It was the best thing about them. The cigarettes were terrible, the worst tobacco product I have ever smoked. The tobacco often fell out of the paper, and it was very coarse and greenish-yellow in color. Smoking a Laika was like smoking the sole of your shoe, and smelled about the same. I think I smoked two or three of them before I finally threw the cigarettes away.

    Once upon a time, and especially in old movies, American cigarettes were a highly-prized commodity, and greatly desired by smokers all over the world. English and Canadian smokes were pretty good, too. Nobody ever asked anybody for a Russian cigarette.

    1. How badly do you wish you still had that pack? Because you can pick one up for about $25 on eBay?


      In high school, I had an affection for Sobranie Black Russian cigarettes, which were made in the Ukraine. Of course, I'd have no idea whether they were actually any good. But I felt sophisticated smoking them, which was the entire point.

    2. My Dutch uncle (literally, he came from Holland and was married to my father's sister) told us that in the concentration camp he was in during the War everybody complained about having to used newspaper to roll their cigarettes...except the Russians -- no problem, that's the way they had to do it at home, they said.


    3. Is that with or without the cigarettes, Mr. S? If the cigarettes are still in the package, they should be paying me $25 to take them off their hands. I suppose anybody who wants anything badly enough can have their wishes fullfilled on eBay.

      In 1942, American Tobacco changed Lucky Strike's dark-green pack to white, and they began their famous advertising campaign: “Lucky Strike Green has gone to war”--the company claimed that the copper used in the green color was needed for the war effort.

      Back in the Eighties, I found a dark-green pre-war Lucky Strike pack at a Navy Pier flea market. It still had the cigarettes inside. For maybe two seconds, I thought about trying to light one up. I've done some pretty stupid things in my lifetime, but that wasn't one of them.

  6. My Nokian snow tires were made in Russia. I have a set of guitar pickups made in Russia too. That's it. Snow tires made in Russia by a Finnish company and pickups made by a guy with a pickup winding machine who sells them on eBay.

  7. Russia doesn't want a hostile military alliance on it's border. YES, Putin is a bad guy blah blah blah but I understand them not wanting tanks 500 miles from their capitol.

    We don't need another war. The last 5 didn't end well. Russians are not Iraqis, we will take massive casualties and risk a nuclear exchange. Let's all calm down and choose peace fornonce.

  8. I stopped buying Russian vodka years ago after Pooty took over.

    It's telling that Russians won't buy Russian-made cars or that Aeroflot and the assorted shitty airlines that fell out of the USSR's wreckage won't fly Russian airliners.

    I can't think of a single Russian product other than vodka that's available in the US.


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