Archive for June, 2008

Arshavin hits the top of the Euro 2008 Player Ratings

June 24, 2008

Arshavin’s stock continues to rise, as the spark of Russia’s very pleasant surprise of a team, tops the ratings of Euro 2008 players.

Apparently, there are English Premier League and Spanish teams in the hunt for the diminuitive (he’s 5′ 7″) playmaker and finisher.

Read all about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/euro2008/2008/06/arshavin_on_the_up_villa_slide.html

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May I have a raise now?

June 24, 2008

Now that I’m clearly an expert in the Ukrainian language 🙂

Nash Holos Diploma

This certifies that

Blair

of

Kyiv

has completed the

Nash Holos Ukrainian Language School

Final Exam for 2008

with a score of 92%

on

June 23, 2008

George Carlin, R.I.P.

June 23, 2008

I’m very sad to hear about the death of one of my all-time favourite comedians, George Carlin.  He gave me hours of listening and laughing pleasure.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/06/23/carlin.obit/

Russia-Netherlands 3-1

June 23, 2008

 Unbelievable.

Russia, the team which – despite its recent form – had to be considered the underdog in this, its biggest match in years, pulled off a stunning victory over tournament favourites the Netherlands, to move into the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

The Dutch looked somewhat unsettled even at the beginning of the match, especially after Zhirkov whistled a free kick that took a real effort from van der Sar to tip away.  Kolodin looked intent on proving that he’s got a cannon in place of a leg, blasting two wicked shots from 30 and 40 yards, respectively (again, van der Sar had to be very sharp to tip the first one over the  bar.)  The Dutch weren’t completely inactive either, with van Nistelrooy very nearly opening the scoring, but inexplicably failing to get his foot on a pass into the goal area.  Sneijder also had a couple of chances, as did van Persie. 

Russia opened the scoring when captain Semak fired a quick pass into the area, onto which Pavlyuchenko stabbed his boot, sending a low ball past van der Sar, the latter left with no chance to save.  For a long time, it looked as though the game might just end that way, although the Dutch definitely stepped up their attack, forcing the Russians into some scrambled clearances.  With almost no time left in the match, Sneijder sent a free kick diagonally into the Russian goal area and, this time, van Nistelrooy broke away from his marker to send a low header into the net.  1-1 and extra time!

 But there was to be no comeback victory for the Dutch.  Arshavin (the hero again,) set up a fairly simple goal for Torbinsky to make it 2-1, before finishing off the night with his own left-footed goal from close in.  A HUGE win for the “better, brighter, brilliant Russians.”

There are lots of theories as to why Russia is showing itself to be a football power to be reckoned with at Euro 2008.  My own is that Russia has sent a young team with plenty of talent, and that Guus Hiddink, the self-proclaimed “happiest traitor” has instilled in them self-belief and an attacking, total football, fear-nothing approach.  Whatever he’s done, it’s working.  His efforts notwithstanding, the kudos must really go to the players themselves:  they’ve been terrific.

And now they’re going to have the chance to wipe out the shame of their opening 1-4 loss to Spain.  Spain beat Italy on penalties last night, in what I found to be a match of unsurpassed boredom, with both teams seemingly terrified of throwing caution to the wind and attacking like they meant it.

As much as I like the Dutch and their team, at least now I can devote my complete and undivided attention to cheering for Russia.

ВПЕРЁД РОССИЯ!!

P.S.  Are the Russians and the Turks the story of Euro 2008?  The brave Croats found, to their dismay, that the Turks can never be counted out, as the latter scored with seconds left in extra time to send the match to a penalty shootout.  The Croats looked totally crestfallen and it showed, as they only managed to pot one of their chances, leaving the Turks in partying mood.

And what about Turkish reserve goalkeeper Rustu?  Is that man the coolest cucumber you’ve ever seen, or what?

Excellent win for Russia last night over Sweden (2-0)

June 19, 2008

Two completely different teams – that’s the way I saw it. And I’m not talking about Sweden as one of them. The Russia that took the field last night was utterly and vastly different from the one that had lost 4-1 to Spain, in a rather hideous exhibition of how not to play defense.

Naturally, the online British papers I read this morning paid the most attention to the author of Russia’s second goal, Arshavin.  He was terrific, giving the Swedish defense fits with his speed, passing and dribbling.  However, he was far from alone on the night.  Pavlyuchenko had a number of excellent chances, converting one to give Russia the lead at the 25th minute.  Zhirkov was a revelation, causing Sweden no end of problems with his blazing runs down the left wing.  Akinfeev looked a little too nonchalant on some of his saves, but he did the job well.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference from the Spanish debacle, apart from the overall zip the offense showed last night, was the defense and – to use a hockey term – “forechecking.”  The Russians attacked the ball in defense and put a lot of pressure on the Swedes in the latter’s half, causing them to make innacurate passes while rushing to clear.  Tackles were largely effective and there always seemed to be a defender in motion near any Swede in the attacking zone; a huge change from the “pylon” defense offered to the Spaniards.

Overall, a great night for Russian football and one that will have opened quite a few eyes.

Still, for me this victory sets up a quarter-final match that can only be bittersweet, since it will now be my two favourite teams (other than, naturally, Scotland) now playing for life and death on Saturday.  One will be going home and leaving me disappointed.

Will the Netherlands, originators of “total football” defeat last night’s heroes of the genre?  Form on paper would say “yes.”  But the match won’t be played on paper.  Both teams have speed, tricky forwards and a history of falling at inportant hurdles.

It’s going to be an exquisite agony to watch!

UPDATE:  As one would expect, the blogger known as Kim Zigfeld (pseudonym, certainly,) a.k.a.”La Russophobe” had a hissy-fit over the fact that Russia-critical Robert Amsterdam Blog dared to celebrate Russia’s victory.

I, for one, would have been rather surprised to see the “Nazi team” playing in 1958.

Award for idiotic phrase

June 12, 2008

Cleetus

Whether you agree with the sentiment or not, this sentence (from The Economist, but not it seems by Edward Lucas) surely has to be an award-winner for stupidity:

http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11332356

“Medved means bear in Russian—and the worst way to respond to a bear is to display overt weakness or to scarper in different directions.”

Brilliant! Does that hold true for the name Bush, as well, suggesting potential handling by licking, fucking,  or burning?

Edward Lucas, Alex Stubb and NATO

June 12, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, The Economist featured, as part of its “Certain Ideas of Europe” blog and podcast, an interview by Edward Lucas (of New Cold War fame,) with Finnish Foreign Minister Alex Stubb. I urge you to listen to the podcast and tell me if it seems only to me that Lucas is doing his best to pull Mr. Stubb into his own, “Russia as inexorable menace” camp. I suspect that he was somewhat disappointed by Stubb’s reply on Dmitri Medvedev, to the effect that he is cautiously optimistic regarding the new Russian president.

The most fascinating exchange when Lucas asked Stubb whether the latter thought Finland should join NATO now, “because by the time you need to, it’ll be too late.”

Stubb replies:

“I don’t see NATO membership in the near future, but what we want is to have a
fresh NATO debate, and then draw our conclusions from that debate. But
what we also need is the support of the population, and if we are in a situation
whereby just … out of my…off the top of my head…25% of the population is for
membership and the rest is more or less against, it’s kind of a difficult
project to push through.”

He goes on to note that Finland is very much engaged on a non-membership basis with NATO and with the European Rapid Reaction Force, but ends saying:

“NATO has just always been a bit of an Achilles heel in the Finnish debate, and
that’s why it looks like we’re not going to join in the near future.”

Seems straightforward enough, doesn’t it? “…that’s why it looks like we’re not going to join in the near future.”

However, while signing off, Lucas says:

“That was Alex Stubb, Finnish Foreign Minister…giving a cautiously robust
perspective of Finland’s chances of joining NATO; not now, but maybe sooner than
we think.”

How does “not going to join in the near future” becomes “joining…maybe sooner than we think,” without putting a rather unfair semantic burden on the phrases?

You can find the entire audio file here, at “Certain Ideas of Europe”: http://audiovideo.economist.com/

Stetskiv says it’s all Russia’s fault

June 10, 2008

Taras Stetskiv of NUNS says the recent troubles with 2 deputies (one from BYuT and one from NUNS) declaring their exit from the coalition are all down to the usual suspect: Russia.

He claims that But “is Moscow’s agent,” adding that this is not an accusation, but “an obvious fact,” but failing to offer the proof upon which “obvious facts” are normally based.

He throws something of a stone into the garden of Lutsenko and Zhvania, saying that they drew up the party list, with the allegedly odious Mr. But in it, adding that neither BYuT nor NUNS vetted their candidates closely enough.

Stetskiv is very quick on the verbal draw, but one has to wonder whether his engages his brain first. After all, he recently accused Yulia Tymoshenko and BYuT of preparing to follow a plan “drawn up outside the bounds of Ukraine“, i.e. Russia, again:

«Наскільки я чув, «бютівці» разом з «регіонами» хочуть проголосувати за
створення тимчасової комісії з питань внесення змін до Конституції. А це
означатиме, що у парламенті буде політична змова двох ніби непримиренних
супротивників. І, якщо БЮТ вже вирішив грати за таким сценарієм, то я
заявляю, що це є деструктивний сценарій, який є антиукраїнським за своєю
суттю. Тим паче, що цей сценарій написаний не у БЮТі, а за межами України. Тому
язакликаю БЮТ зупинитися. Реалізуючи цей сценарій, БЮТ вирішив втекти від
відповідальності за соціально-економічну ситуацію в Україні, і піти на
дострокові вибори, розділивши владу у країні разом з Партією регіонів», –
зауважив Т.Стецьків

I also have to wonder whether Stetskiv sees the abysmal results of NUNS in the most recent parliamentary and Kyiv City Council elections are yet another facet of the nefarious Russian plan.

Entertaining, as Ukrainian politics always are, but I think I’ll be waiting for proof. And probably for quite some time.

A new low in Ukrainian politics?

June 9, 2008

http://www.pravda.com.ua/ru/news/2008/6/6/77033.htm

When reading this piece, you have to ask yourself, “Can Ukrainian politicians get any lower?” I have faith that the twit that is Zvarych can indeed!

So, Mr. Zvarych (he of the invented MA from Columbia) now demands that the SBU not only look into whether But received Ukrainian citizenship legally, but whether he is actually employed by the FSB!

The natural question that follow is, “If deputies [had] reason to suspect that But received citizenship illegally, why did they keep their mouths shut about it until now?” It seems altogether too much to believe that, on the day that But quit NUNS, the members of the latter had some kind of epiphany – “We’re shocked…SHOCKED!” It doesn’t wash and, despite the practice that Zvarych has had at lying, he can’t pull it off.

And Zvarych himself doesn’t even believe the garbage he’s spouting, since he moves on to immediately talk about how unpleasant life will be for But in parliament. In other words, “We now there’s nothing wrong with his citizenship, and we’re going to have to see him in the Rada, so we’re going to gang up and bully him.” You don’t have to like But to see this as the nadir of NUNS.

Angry or hurt by faring so badly in elections to the Rada and the Kyiv City Council, led by such idiots as Zvarych (who bald-faced lied about his academic qualifications), and thoroughly adrift in terms of policy and effectiveness, NUNS looks to lash out and sees “traitors” everywhere.

The ever-creepy Tiahnybok

June 2, 2008

From an online chat on Tsenzor.net:

http://www.tiahnybok.info/inshi_zmi/dokument004134.html

Алекс: Наскільки вдалим виявився ваш слоган “Стольному граду – українську владу”? Може, є сенс змінити його на такий:

“Краще кумедний Тягнибок, ніж остогидлий тягни-толкай!”

Олег Тягнибок: Шановний Апекс! Коли ми прийдемо до влади, думаю, так жартувати ти не будеш. Чи може ти думаєш, що в нас нема твоєї Айпі-адреси?

…and elsewhere…

Інтернет-конференція Олега Тягнибока на “Політичному дурдомі” (повна версія)

Алекс:Вопрос клону клоуна Тягнибока: как вам удалось так быстро перебежать с интернет-конференции на “Цензор.Нет” на “Дурдом”. Или вы на велосипеде?

Олег Тягнибок:Алекс! Ти не жартуй! Я тебе вже раз попередив…

and one more…

PetroBlin : Олег, Вы действительно такой мудак или это Ваш сценический образ?

Олег Тягнибок:PetroBlin, Алекс вже знає, що буде з такими жартівниками, коли ми прийдемо до влади. Твою IP-адресу ми теж вже знаємо…

A novel way of winning votes that…