Monday, 6 March 2017

Toomas Karmo: Open Letter to My FSB/SVR Case Officer, with a Query on Practical Russian

One of my four Debian GNU/Linux desktops. Anticlockwise, from top right: operations clocks (green for  Toronto civil time, red for Universal Coordinated Time); promo, from,  for this weeks' Alliance Française screening of  the Georgian-Esto, or Esto-Georgian, film "Tangerines" - it is "powerful", it is "deeply affecting", it "thrums with tension and tragedy", it promises to be what one calls in a fake, i.e., in a  Hollywod, Baltic accent "korrekt Estonian filmink", so I might go and see it; my "Main Photo Today"; and finally a Debian GNU/Linux "glass teletype", or /usr/bin/xterm window, judiciously configured to display some private casenotes on Stanislav Petrov.  (On 1983-09-26, the then -  to use an American designation of rank - Lt.-Col. S.Petrov was in the commander's chair, in a facility designated Serpukhov-15. From Serpukhov-15, Lt-Col. Petrov prevented Word War 3, by correctly judging a report of incoming American ICBMs to be the result of a computer malfunction.) - In the Main Photo Today, anticlockwise from middle right: a 1975 Soviet-Estonian translation of the 1974 Russian-language university textbook on scientific atheism; a popularizing anthology on scientific atheism, for the general Soviet Estonian tradebook market (Mõtisklusi Usust - ed. F.Lõpp (Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1962; the very ordinary Estonian word "lõpp" actually means "end", as in "It's over, guys", and "Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus" is "Estonian State Publishing"); a singularly sad thing, a World War 2 Soviet compass, as surely used at the front near Leningrad (this came into my family's possession decades ago, and its emotional associations are too horrible to preclude much reflection); a University of Toronto library copy of the N.F.Potapova Russian course, Volume One (opened not, as I had at first today intended, to the spread where kolhozniki are described as singing at the tractor, but rather to line drawings of the Moscow River (I think my compass needle is pointing to the Foreign Ministry tower) and of Leningrad; the poor-quality Hallicrafters S-120 (with possibly-pre-war high-impedance headphones, recently acquired for a small sum at a Pickering (Ontario) Hamfest)  on which I listened  clandestinely in Nova Scotia in the 1960s to you-know-what; and finally a special treasure, a contemporary bottle of Russian eau-de-cologne (одеколон) "ландыш" ("Lily-of-the-Valley"). My Source for the eau-de-cologne, who received it recently in a chain of transmission anchored you-know-where, has stressed to me the importance of smells, in understanding foreign cultures. To picture accurately a Soviet apartment stairwell or Soviet railway station, stresses my Source, one must conjure up not only the (bleak) sights, but also an ever-present smell of urine, as people relieve themselves in this dark corner and that dark corner. Likewise, says my Source, one must pursue cultural undertsanding by sniffing this одеколон, as a much-used consumer product, emblematic of Russia both under the Party and under Mr V.V.Putin. - I suggested to my Source that in the improbable event that Mr  V.V.Putin were ever to come round to my place for tea, I should offer him a swig from the bottle. The Source said that in that unlikely event, I would be confronted with a massive security operation - special operatives, I think the Source said, all the way from Major Mackenzie to Bloor (a distance of roughly 10 kilometres). - I suppose  I shall have to forego, as an unrealistic aspiration,  the day when the Richmond Hill sky is black with RCMP and CSIS helicopters, and "Vovan Vovanich" and I are taking our little swig, perhaps from shot glasses, in my snug little subterranean library. It would make sense for me to imitate current Russian practice and swig a few millilitres solo, but I am on the whole reluctant to attempt the experiment. Mere sniffing, as glue is said to be sniffed by troubled North American adolescents, will in my case have to suffice.   

Quality assessment:

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3'5 is "mediocre pass", 4.5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 4/5. Justification: Kmo had time to do a reasonably complete and (within the framework of the version 3.0.1, 3.0.2, 3.0.3,  .. process) reasonably polished job.

Revision history:

  • 20160307T1657Z/version 2.1.0: Kmo added a photo, with caption. He reserved the right to make minor, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented version 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3, ... . 
  • 20170307T0448Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo finished converting his outline into coherent sentences. He reserved the right to make minor, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.0.1, 2.0.2, 2.0.3, ... . 
  • 20170207T0001Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded a fairly polished point-form outline. He hoped over the coming 4 hours to convert this into coherent sentences, making a series of incremental uploads. 

[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger server-side software has in some past weeks shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears. - The blogger software has also shown a propensity to generate HTML that is formatted in different ways on different client-side browsers, perhaps with some browsers not correctly reading in the entirety of the "Cascading Style Sheets" which on many Web servers control the browser placement of margins, sidebars, and the like. If you suspect "Cascading Style Sheets" problems in your particular browser, be patient: it is probable that while some content has been shoved into some odd place (for instance, down to the bottom of your browser, where it ought to appear in the right-hand margin), all the server content has been pushed down into your browser in some place or other. - Anyone inclined to help with trouble-shooting, or to offer other kinds of technical advice, is welcome to write me via]

I have for a few months been struck by the vigorous interest my blog is attracting in Russia, to a point at which the Russian downloads of my content can even overshadow the USA downloads. One interpretation of this interest is that lots of Russians care about the very things I care about - about Catholic theology, about Ontario heritage conservation, about radio telegraphy, about trees, about Zimbabwe theologian-poet John Bradburne, and so on (and on). 

To my mind, however, this interpretation recalls the pathetically naive interpretation I used to put onto the Soviet-era fact that in the carriages of the Moscow Metro, numerous young people were seen immersed in their copies of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. Ah, I thought (fool that I was, and still in some ways am): those deep young Russians - whereas here in Canada people open their tabloid daily to the picture of the lady with the low neckline, or at best to the sports pages, Moscow Metro riders were in those earnest Cold War days pondering the meaning of Duty, Life, and God. The truth is as I have it now, from a person connected with the erstwhile Soviet schools. The classics were pretty generally despised by Soviet high-school students, but - alas - they came up in exams. Those young, engrossed, Metro riders in the Cold War, who strongly impressed their Western observers, were in reality cramming. 

So no, I cannot believe that lots of Russians are deeply stirred by Ontario heritage conservation, poet-theologian John Bradburne, and the like. 

The most plausible explanation has always been that I am being judged relevant by FSB, SVR, or some cognate agency. For consider my position: I am an overseas Estonian, somewhat (earnestly, ineffectually) active in Soviet human-rights files in the 1980s, and hoping to move home to Estonia in 2018 - or, failing that, at any rate hoping to move in whatever year the would-be  David Dunlap Observatory developer finally stops promoting the sale of homes on the envisaged malign 32-hectare "Observatory Hill" subdivision. 

Recent analysis of traffic suggests the possibility that monitoring of me has lately been stepped up. As at UTC=20170306T201150Z, I had an alltime total of 928 Russian downloads, as opposed to 2337 USA downloads. This, with its oddly high Russian count, is already of some mild interest. More than mildly interesting, however, is a different statistic, from a more compressed timeframe: as at UTC=20170306T201150Z, I had a monthly total of 333 Russian downloads, compared with a mere 194 from the USA.

When I first started studying the Russian downloading, perhaps two or three or so months ago, I found it being done at graveyard-shift times, when it was past midnight in Moscow. The most plausible interpretation of this timing was that I was one someone's list of low-priority, mere-initial-assessment, subjects, and that I was being tossed off at the lowest point in my putative officer's day - as when one has come back from pub or party, with one's laptop now sitting on one's knees, atop one's duvet.

But then the traffic pattern changed. I found myself being viewed in the Moscow evening, not too long after Moscow sunset, in a choice of time perhaps a little more in tune with the actual Подмосковные вечера. (Подмосковные вечера, "Moscow Nights" - how many us of listened, clandestinely, well outside our vigilant parents' supervision, to that signature tune, in the 49-, 31-, or 25-metre bands, back in the scary 1960s!)

And then, a week or two ago, the pattern changed again. It seems to me now that Moscow is anxious to make in one work session not tens of downloads, as was in recent weeks the case, but just one or two - perhaps my most recent - and to make its selective download(s) soon after I have posted, when the Moscow business and government day is starting. My interpretation (I could be wrong, of course) is that my particular Muscovite three-letter agency, having analyzed my past blogging in detail, with more than one person reading the whole past set, has now decided to bump me up, putting me onto a higher-priority list. On this interpretation, my bloggings are, as a consequence of some in-depth multi-reader assessment, henceforth to be monitored weekly, as a matter of more-or-less scheduled routine, and are to be monitored in the hours immediately following my upload.

I think the idea here is the following: "тоомас кармо" is to be monitored in "near real time", even though his materials are in general boring; and in the conceivable event that "near real time" monitoring turns up something useful, an alert is to be communicated, under some defined protocol, to the higher administrative levels.

If I am right about this, then the change in monitoring constitutes a compliment - no less sincere for its being, in my respectful estimation, undeserved.


It might be thought that I would these days (mindful of the 1940s Siberian deportations from both the paternal and the maternal branches of my family, and of other things similarly at the Dachau level of terror) regard FSB, SVR, and their cognates as enemies. But this is inaccurate. My policy is not to have enemies - not even (to take a lurid, soap-opera, case) from among those favouring the projected 32-hectare "Observatory Hill" subdivision. That is the envisaged subdivision now inappropriately being carved out from the pre-2008, 76.5-hectare David Dunlap Observatory and Park here in Ontario. (The surfer seeking documentation on parties favouring the subdivision could consult, on the political side, my two critique-of-candidate sites and - I reiterate that Councillor Cilevitz is not to be categorized as an enemy - and on the commercial side the vendors' main promotional site,

As far as FSB, SVR, and their cognate agencies go, the relevant points are, rather, the following:

  • I concur with the current Moscow perception of the West as morally and politically bankrupt, and would indeed suggest that historians in the remote future will date that multigenerational disaster, or slow-motion trainwreck, which is "the collapse of the West" from the summer of 1914. 
  • I dissent from the conceivable Moscow suggestion that some grouping of countries led, at least in part, by Moscow now has something better to offer. I on the contrary hold that now, just as in the scary decades running from the Lenin putsch to the 1991 Soviet collapse, what is on offer from Red Square is no better than, and in key respects is worse than, what is on offer from the Pentagon and Wall Street. 
  • I insist firmly on the right of Georgians, Chechens, Armenians, Ukrainians, Poles, Magyars, Rumanians, Roma (in vulgar English, "Gypsies"), Lithuanians, Latvians, Livonians, Ingrians, Estonians, Finns, and other such historically stressed peoples to make their own parliamentary and diplomatic arrangements, free of great-powers pressure, including pressure from Moscow. In this context, I urge (as do many or most, or perhaps virtually all, other Estonians) the right of Estonia to continue integrating itself, as it has done since 1991, into the westward-looking Scandinavian cultural structures. 
  • I concur with a possible current Muscovite perception in theology - namely, that the USSR's official "scientific atheism" was intellectually and spiritually empty, being in blunt fact a mere laboratory creation, akin to the 1930s Alfred Ernst Rosenberg racial ideology, or to Mary Shelley's fictional Frankenstein. (I even have a 1975 university textbook urging this official theology, or un-theology, translated into Estonian from the 1974 Russian ""научный атеизм". But, alas, I have not yet, three decades after procuring my book, with all its promising thrills and chills, found time to read it.) I concur with the possible current Muscovite view that a correct way forward for Russia is, rather, marked by those ancient faith communities which have since 1589 or so been under the Patriarchate of Moscow. I admittedly do add here, writing as a Catholic under the ordinary Western rite of Rome, that in my view the Schism of 1054  - this split the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate from Rome, with the Moscow Patriarchate arising five or so centuries later - is best addressed by an eventual Reunification. I further suggest that the pastoral-theology charism of Ekaterina Fyodorovna Kolyschkine de Hueck Doherty (1896-1985) - perpetuated in, among many other places, Toronto and Krasnoyarsk - may some day help guide those working for a Reunification, as a multifacted reconciliation is some day effected between on the one side Rome, and on the other side today's multifaceted prism of not-always-mutually-agreeing eastern Patriarchs. 
  • I suggest, perhaps with some degree of contemporary Muscovite concurrence, that upon the departure (as I myself gloomily imagine it, some long, weary decades from now) of that modern Brezhnev which is Mr V.V.Putin, there will be a universally acknowledged need for a patriotic and uncorrupt head of state, under some form of constitutional monarchy. I would suggest that a candidate might at that remote future juncture be found from with the (today still lively) ranks of the royal Romanovs, and that such a development would constitute healing. The creation of a constitutional Romanov monarchy, duly continuing the constitutional work interrupted in 1917, would in my respectfully offered view begin to heal the still terrible wounds of the "October Revolution" (the Lenin autumn putsch), even as the envisaged "Reunification" would begin to heal the Constantinopolitan-Roman wound of 1054. 
So my attitude to FSB, SVR, and their pals is less one of knee-jerk hostility than of quizzical exasperation. It is not, in the end, all that different from the attitude so many of us already take to the current citadels of power in the (now tottering, and ultimately doomed?) USA. 


FSB and SVR will of course be wondering if my blog can be used, somehow, to advance Russian interests, in at least some tiny way. I examined the question in detail in my posting from 2016-01-16 or 2016-01-17, headed "(Part B): Peacework and Propaganda". I need not repeat what I had to say there about family gloom and personal dirt, including personal ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay. I also need not repeat here what I had to say there about that potentially jucier topic, Nomenklatura ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay, in the context of the (presumably inactive) putative FSB-or-SVR file on our own York Region Natasha. (The Natasha is now, as I remarked on 2016-01-16 or 2016-01-17, safely retired as an investor, to the seclusion of the general Black Sea or Caspian Sea regions.)

But in view of my presumed recent reclassification by the organs, as a person-of-enhanced-interest, I do note how glad I am that I posted last week on tactics for learning Estonian. My case officer, if she or he exists, is no doubt tracking a gaggle of overseas Estonians, as a rostered watch officer on some (modest?) FSB or SVR "Baltic Desk", or "Fennic Desk", or even "Estonian Desk". A strengthened grasp of Estonian can only be beneficial in such (admittedly modest, and dull) work. It is bound to help with my officer's eventual moves up the internal-promotion ladder.

And also, since I now seem to be monitored in rostered, and therefore in near-real, time, I do have to become a little more careful in what I write about the DDO conservation file.

On 2017-01-02 or 2017-01-03, under the heading "Troll Farms (55 Savushkina Ulitsa?) and Mainstream Media", I wrote just the following:

/.../  this Canadian public dirt is too minor, and too specialized, to be of interest to the organs. In place of such small municipal things, the organs need something NATO-connected, like that el-cheapo Dollarama walk-in, Jeffrey Paul Delisle of HMCS Trinity. Or else they need something which will help - as (I think) eventual "Observatory Hill" subdivision house-flipping will not help - with that perennial Operational Requirement, the opaque transfer of funds from Europe to Canada.

This is reasonable enough, so far as it goes, but could now benefit from supplementation.

I have talked with or corresponded with an individual, somewhere in my feeble little many-city network, who perhaps in her or his modest way counts as a bit of a topic specialist. On the strength of my discussion, I remark that maybe - just maybe - the DDO file could be played by FSB and SVR. To be frank, I would recommend against the play. Its risks are in my estimation too high, its potential public-relations payoff in my estimation too low. Still, let me float my idea tonight, in the faint hope that tonight's idea, or else some variant thereon, might eventually receive consideration in Moscow:

  • The troubled subdivision development - as of last week, yet again postponed, with rollout now anticipated in the 2017 autumn, rather than the 2017 spring - does go ahead (perhaps with still further delays). 
  • All looks normal. The fancy houses go up at last, in an effort to create for Richmond Hill a residential enclave with the cachet of Toronto's Bridle Path. There is a "Sales Centre" of some plausibility. (The developer's story - indeed a true story - will be (here as with most or all Ontario developers) that not all the houses are already spoken for; yes, folks, you can in respect of some houses walk into our showroom out of nowhere and make a purchase. I duly do the normal thing for an activist in Canada, mounting a thoroughly polite, thoroughly legal, picket of the "Sales Centre" for as long as it operates (delaying, if necessary, my envisaged 2018 move back home to Estonia).) 
  • But then there comes a surprise, indeed a public relations coup. Russian interests, proclaiming a philanthropic intent, suddenly buy up either (a) all the completed homes - all 520 or 530 or so of them - or,  failing that, (b) at any rate those egregious, fully detached, McMansions or McChâteaux off Hillsview Drive whose yard lights most imperil the DDO telescopes. 
  • Those same philanthropic interests demolish the purchased homes and reforest their lots, with much fanfare, and with approbation even from the conservationists, myself included. Their "General Line" is that they have done for Canada what Canada, in its dark hour of need, was unable to do for itself. (Moscow: if I might make a timid botanical suggestion, might I perhaps here recommend not pine, and not spruce or fir, and not even authentic Carolinean-forest deciduous reconstruction with prominent oaks, but - by way of a graceful tribute to the source of the philanthropy - birch?) 
  • It is part of the deal that someone, somehow, gets "naming rights" - so that Ontario and the Canadian nation suddenly acquire, as it might be, right in the heart of their hitherto-problematic, hitherto rather depressing, municipal remnant park, a scientifically competent "Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin Ontario Centre for Observational Astrophysics".
It has been suggested to me that a feelgood film, such as is churned out in an assembly-line process in Russia nowadays, might be part of the package. One might recommend English-language trailer promo with a bit of Edvard Grieg: the saved greenspace could be filmed in the cold morning twilight, thirty minutes before sunrise, with the "Morning Mood" from the Peer Gynt suite. In such a trailer, we see the birches; we see the now-safe deer; and we see and hear the noisy closing of shutters on the main telescope dome, as an American voice intones earnestly, "From an observatory you never heard of, a story you'll never forget." 

It has been put to me that even though my own commercial skills merit measurement on the Richter Scale, I could all the same successfully negotiate a package as a "script consultant" (following the excellent example of a sometime mathematician friend, who was used for getting one or more blackboard-displayed equations right in the 1997 Good Will Hunting - and even got to appear on camera, as Mr Robin Williams, Mr Matt Damon, and Mr Ben Affleck also did).

Well, alas, I cannot in conscience take Russian money, at any rate until the restoration of a constitutional monarchy in that troubled jurisdiction. I would have to do the work for free, even while realizing that in my challenging position I would be worth, say, fully 900 EUR, or even conceivably as much as 4,000 EUR or 9,000 EUR. But I would try to impose a Condition, in return for assisting, free of charge, with the production. Although it is fine, I would say, to have (for example) Councillor Karen Cilevitz played by Councillor Karen Cilevitz, as that gripping historical narrative gets filmed, nevertheless the role of "тоомас кармо" must be accorded to no less a screen personage than Tom Cruise.

If done well, with tight budgetary controls, and with due promotion for the big Russian market, and with also some screenings in North America, and with Tom Cruise written into the script only briefly (this might help keep the costs down), I suggest the film might somehow manage to run in the black, netting even tens of thousands of EUR.

(Estonians, with Georgians, filmed "Tangerines" - running yet again, as it happens, this Friday, 2017-03-10, at 19:00, at Alliance Française, on 24 Spadina Road in Toronto; admission is free, with a voluntary good-will donation. This Georgian-Esto, or Esto-Georgian, film did not do too badly. I see from that the Rotten Tomatoes average score is 7.3/10, with Wikipedia reporting the critical consensus thus: "'Tangerines' impassioned message and the strong work of a solid cast more than make up for the movie's flawed narrative and uneven structure." - Indeed, it gets better. "Tangerines" scored some accolades, including an Honourable Mention at the Jerusalem Film Festival and an Academy Awards "Best Foreign Film" nomination. With my old municipal-politics nemesis Karen Cilevitz on board (she will be referred to on the set, in the customary idiom, as "the Talent" - "Hey, Yuri Petrovitch, fetch the Talent a second coffee, would you?") and with a strong screenplay, and with a short Tom Cruise appearance, might we not, say I, aspire to 6/10, or to 7/10, or even to a dizzying 7.3/10, at Rotten Tomatoes? And might the team not then, given skillful promotion in Russia and beyond, recoup its production costs, with a little-something-to-spare for some duly bold investor (in the conceivable language   of the industry, some duly bold коммерсант)?)


It will now be asked: What happens next, in my putative FSB-or-SVR file? What kind of approach are the organs liable to make to me over the coming 6 or 12 or 18 months?

To save everyone trouble, I note boldly and right-up-front that the one obviously attractive thing, namely an invitation to a Moscow television talking-heads show - three-star hotel! three nights in Moscow! economy-class airfare, with hot supper brought in the cabin on a tray from the Aeroflot microwave right to one's seat! - is in my case not worth trying. In America, they say, "Puh-LEEZE, don't get me STARR-did." So I say, regarding, television, "Puh-LEEZE." My many encounters with the medium, on the wrong side of the camera lens, down through the decades, reveal how fake it is. One could hardly imagine anything worse than cinema, and yet television does manage to be worse.

The Reich - skilled in the 1930s in cinema, thanks to Frl. Leni Riefenstahl - used television in the war years to chilling advantage, as we see from some of the Reich's surviving wartime ciné-to-broadcast-imager celluloid. I have been mixed up, for slight good and repeated ill, with television since 1958 or so. (I started with a cameo appearance on "Country Calendar", or something, aged about five, on Canada's CBHT or CJCH, when the operator filmed on location in Mum's kitchen garden: I was unharmed by this, but my poor Mum got royally faked, purportedly cultivating her strawberries with a machine method she did not in real life use. In my latest encounter, I got filmed by someone important - I am told it was Mr Ezra Levant - outside the Toronto City Hall, at the time of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. I made to the microphone some good points, notably the need for workers to hold the equity in their places of employment, to the exclusion of outside capital. When deftly asked if I could actually name a predator-capitalist firm, I equally deftly cited the DDO case and Metrus-DG Group-Corsica. But - this was fatal - I let my guard down, and joked at one point, perhaps toward the end of the interview, that I had never met a television camera I did not like. You can guess which clip, running to just a few seconds, went to air. Although I do not possess a receiver, lots of friends were pleased to report seeing the thing on their own equipment. This coverage ran very likely from Hamilton through Toronto to Oshawa, and up to Newmarket or Barrie - in other words, over a conurbation of some millions of people.) I now have scant appetite for adding Moscow to my dismal television portfolio.

And what the alternative could be to an approach proposing talking-heads television, with Aeroflot ticketing and three-star hotel and a bit of Moscow sightseeing (including a chance to view the celebrated Cadaver, in its dry aquarium) I know not.

It is perhaps unrealistic to hope for an early contact from FSB or SVR, by way of a direct response to today's posting. All the same, I do in my reticent way ask for guidance on one thing - on a purely philological point. Soviet Estonian had a useful phrase, defying easy English translation - "kodanlik eputis". On 2017-01-16 or 2017-01-17, I wrote, under the heading "(Part B): Peacework and Propaganda", the following:

The kodanlik eputis, or "bourgeois frivolity", of the occupation was a translation of буржуазная фривольность, from the central Russian-language propaganda machine.

It is of course true that Western consumer luxuries were back then, and are still now, in many instances junk. Few beverages could be sillier than Coca-Cola. Few meals could be sillier than a Big Mac. But the objective biochemical realities of the case aside, kodanlik eputis, with  its central-organs pregenitor phrase буржуазная фривольность, has a fine, emotional, ring /.../. It invites us, or rather it summons us, us to a particularly lofty and particularly muscular disdain of the objectively contemptible Coke and the objectively contemptible quarter-pounder - perhaps even challenging us to our own austere personal, private imitation of Che Guevara (who is to be pictured unshaven, and in jungle fatigues, dining hastily on rice and beans, as the Hispanic heroes of the Revolution must).

I do want to remark here in parentheses - it is fun, although my overall argument hardly requires me to dwell on it - how smoothly the emotionally-so-charged Estonian rendition of буржуазная фривольность, as kodanlik eputis, manages to trip off our local tongue. It may some day be pleasant to have a Tallinn-Stockholm ferry called the Kodanlik Eputis. Imagine the advertising copy, in the Estonian papers:  Tallinnast Stokholmi kolm korda nädalas! Neli baari, kolm luksusrestorani, kaks tantsusaali, viis kohvikut, koguni kasiino! Kuni märsti lõpuni alagavad Kodanliku Eputise teiseklassi kajutid vaid 400 EUR-ist - "From Tallinn to Stockholm three times a week! Four bars, three luxury bistros, two discos, five cafes, even a casino! Until the end of March, second-class cabins on the Burzhuaznaya Frivolnost start at just 400 EUR..."

Now, with FSB or SVR presumed more readily to hand, I make bold to ask: is буржуазная фривольность really the right phrase, from the original administrative Russian? I am recently informed that I should instead be writing буржуазная излншество. Can someone in the organs, familiar with Cold War administrative idioms, now give a bit of guidance, say by e-mail? Identity of sender is of course usefully cloaked by first procuring an address-of-convenience, as discussed at, and by secondly anonymizing one's numerical IP address via Tor:  although I eschew such e-mail tactics, instead setting myself the stern task of signing accurately, the organs might conceivably favour anonymity. 

So which was it, folks, under the pre-1991 central administration - was it буржуазная фривольность, or was it, on the contrary, буржуазная излншество?

[This is the end of the current blog posting.] 

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated. For comment-moderation rules, see initial posting on this blog (2016-04-14).