Russia facts of the day

Vodka, circuses, and public libraries are in decline.

Russians love Lada (why?), microwaves, and IKEA.  And contrary to what many people believe, the population is now growing.

On top of all that, Vladimir Kramnik is playing brilliantly in the Candidates’ Tournament in Berlin.  I don’t know the time series on poisoning spies and double agents with WMD.

For the pointer I thank Ray Lopez.


Like for the top Tennis players, , Chess quality is not declining with age.
4 of the players are 32+ . And am sure Anand is in a similar level , if he contested.

Yes, amazing what steroids can do: for athletes it's a drug, for chess players it's the PC! The Aronian vs Kramnik game of yesterday was the game of the century so far, and it was not home analysis either since Aronian played sub-optimal moves so it's unlikely Kramnik prepared for these moves at home. Kramnik once again won with black using the Berlin defense of my namesake, the Ruy Lopez, and against the anti-Berlin variation no less!

Not that Kramnik can't do well by himself , but this can't hurt.

@Ray. Kramnik almost certainly didn't play 7..Rg8 by finding it over the board.This was prepared by him and Giri (his second). The move was not not in the database of games for classical chess. It had only been played before in correspondence chess (4 times). The engines say it's a decent move (not a fantastic move.) The surprise element was important here ! And yes Aronian responded sub-optimally. I greatly enjoyed this game. The old guy Vlad is still a force to reckon with. Hey he might just win the candidates !

See IM Igar Shah great analysis in Chessbase news:

For those who don't follow chess instead of March Madness, here's a link to Kramnik's amazing game yesterday:

The backstory is that white was one of the favorites to win this important tournament, meaning the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen for the World Champion Title. This player as white almost never plays the pawn in front of his king up two (1. e4) on the first move, but did so here probably trying to catch Kramnik by surprise. But Kramnik was the one with the biggest surprise when he played 7.... Rg8. At first glance, castling looks way more normal and the rook move looks like some trick you'd try in blitz or bullet chess. But it worked. White was thrown off and made three (at least to my amateur eyes) highly questionable decisions with the pawn moves h3 and c3 when he should have been developing pieces and then moving his queen over to the other side of the board where it couldn't help defend. Kramnik absolutely crushed him in a manner you'd typically see a grand master do to an amateur, not at all the type of game you typically see between two of the top 10 players in the world.

Luckily for white, it's a long tournament where everyone plays everyone twice so he has chances to come back. But for right now at least, Kramnik (the Russian) is sitting with a pretty lead in first place.

@Mark - yes, to my amateur eyes 18... f5! looked crazy since black had not yet castled, but it was the best move
@sine causa - thanks but I was referring to 18...f5, not Rg8. But even Rg8, which Kramnik admitted was home prep, is rare in actual play. As Svidler said at Chess24, when White castles short, it's unusual to play 7. h3, which is a wasted move unless Black also has castled short.

Shades of Frank Marshall's gambit attack in the Ruy Lopez vs Capablanca about 100 years ago, which Marshall waited for years to play, and Capa refuted it over the board (but the Marshall Attack is still sound today, and notice So varied slightly in a book line of the Marshall against Liren but still drew).

I grew up in an area that had many Russian immigrants. They LOVED the public library - some students from my high school were in the habit of studying at the local public library, and it was full of elderly Russian immigrants who congregated there, socialized there, and disrupted the quiet nature of the library by loudly arguing about the Russian-language crossword puzzles they were doing for fun. I have long associated public libraries with Russians and now it looks like I will have to revise this.

Why would a household have more than one microwave? Do Russians not cook? And Russians love IKEA. Microwaves, IKEA, an authoritarian president. Russians have become . . . . Americans! Or have Americans become Russians?

"Russians have become . . . . Americans! "

Yeah ray, America won the Cold War ... in 1992.


Yes, the cold war is over. It was fought to oppose communism, not because your great granddad got kicked out of Russia.

"Won" implies that the other guys know it, and stop fighting you.

That the other guys aren't doing nerve gas attacks.

"Stop fighting you."

Me? Mohamed Ali said that "ain't no Vietcong ever called me n****r," i feel the same way about Putin.

Oh my god you and Thomas are such freakin' snowflakes. Jeebus.

Non-interventionalists as snowflakes, that's a new one.

Msgkings is like the guy who annoys everyone at the party and then calls them "snowflakes" when they kick him out. Yes, msgkings, White men shouldn't fight for a society that doesn't respect them.

The Russian population is actually shrinking. It was growing for a couple years (Tyler's source is using old data), but it is now shrinking again.

In 2017, Russia's birth rate dropped by 10.7%. (And there were more deaths than births.) That is the third consecutive year of declining birth rates according to the gov statistical agency. Data here:

FP article with more detail:

I did notice some of the data seemed to "cycle" in a sinusoidal fashion, but the most shocking graph to me was the vodka graph, showing consumption is down about half. That's a structural not a cyclical change.

Yeah, it's undoubtedly good that the insane drinking has come down, though I'd have liked to see a total alcohol sales graph (with adjusted units), because the article is right that the growth in income is leading to some substitution of beer and probably non-vodka spirits.

When I went to Russia in 1994, people had fake jobs at failed Soviet enterprises, vodka was sold at bus stops and beer and wine were almost completely unavailable. In the 2000s people had real jobs, mortgages and a wide range of beverages was available everywhere.

By 1999, when I moved to Russia for a few years, beer was super easy to buy - you could buy it at any little kiosk and any grocery store. There was no age limit, an it was often the cheapest think you could buy - cheaper than water or soda. Also popular were lots of gross "alchopops" - vile semi-cocktails in a can. Wine was pretty widely available, but only Moldovan and Georgian (and a few Russian) were affordable.

Vodka consumption down is great news. And the increase in Champagne consumption may be good too. It means they have something to celebrate.

It's still growing if you count immigration.(And note that many of the immigrants are ethnic Russians or Ukrainians from Ukraine or Central Asia.)

Not if you don't count temporary residents.

This is incorrect.

Natural population growth has gone marginally red (from being marginally black), but with ~200,000 annual net immigrants, it still has far to go before it will experience outright population decline again.

Where are you getting the NET migration statistics for 2017? I don't see that on the GKS website and I suspect that number also decreased last year.

Anyway, given that there were 203,000 more deaths than births in 2017, and you say there are only ~200,000 net immigrants each year (let's assume that is correct), how is that "far to go before it will experience outright population decline"? That is a net decline in 2017, or perhaps right on the cusp of decline.

Sorry, I misread the data. That natural decline is only 134,000 rather than 203,000. Question about net migration remains, as I don't see a good source for that.

You can imagine how it might make the government look bad to admit even a year of population loss after the few yars of gains, what with the sanctions and all. I wonder if Putin's decree to pay women to have more kids will make a difference, assuming it is happening.

Some interesting stuff on Russian and American strong-man leaders here:

Uh it’s been a while since Slate has offered anything other than contrived hysteria.

The charts are interesting, and I don't think you are really suggesting that they were just made up.

It is interesting for instance that Obama to Trump switch-voters are the ones most comfortable with "strong leaders."

Ah, do you suppose "other to Trump" voters were the ex-libertarians?

"Uh it’s been a while since Slate has offered anything other than contrived hysteria."

Slate was readable for a couple of years in the mid 1990's.

Now do Foreign Policy. They have similar data.

Survey: One-Third of Republicans Favor Leaders Unchecked by Courts or Congress

but then you guys aren't really about the data

You really are incredibly obsessed.

"But there are partisan divides, both in the United States and in Europe. The survey asked respondents to express whether or not they believed the statement: “A system in which a strong leader can make decisions without interference from parliament or the courts would be a good way to govern our country.

Just 17 percent of Democrats agreed with that statement, but one-third of Republicans did.”

The president can already "make decisions without interference from parliament or the courts." It's an vague, open ended question. And note the "strong leader" part. The Sissy party is naturally going to be repelled by that.

You joined the thread to shout down sources you don't like. You came here to proclaim your "I stopped reading at" silo.

Data is bright sunlight in comparison.

That 7:15pm reply was to Watts, on Slate being unreadable.

Anonymous at 7:13pm, "without interference from parliament or the courts" is a good general question for a global audience.

I mean are you going to say you don't believe leaders should answer to courts?

If Hillary Clinton were president right now, and if she were in this much trouble, you guys would be shouting it to the moon. You would be spiking the football.

I don't actually go to that extreme, I don't mind reminding you of exactly where we stand.

Anonymous is exactly correct about that. Imagine what kinds of comments So Much or Dick the B or Art Deco would be posting is the exact same stuff was happening in a Clinton White House?

Again, some of you are too smart to be stupid partisans. You wanted Hillary out, you got it. Now recognize the shitshow.

"Anonymous is exactly correct about that. Imagine what kinds of comments So Much or Dick the B or Art Deco would be posting is the exact same stuff was happening in a Clinton White House?"

Sure, in that hypothetical case they might well be making comments as silly and as obsessively as Anonymous is. If your point is that partisans tend to be biased, then yes I agree.

Bloomberg pointed out that Russia produces hella wheat, too. Every1 knows they warm Europe. R their pipes and LNG best replacement for E.Azn coal?

The chart says 13% of Russians live below subsistence levels. How do you do that?

Drink through it.

See comment below. Applies to Kudlow's time at Bear Stearns before he was fired.

Subsistence level is the MAXIMUM income to qualify for the category.

"The chart says 13% of Russians live below subsistence levels. How do you do that?"

Presumably by consuming the body's fat and muscles, until there is nothing less followed by oblivion.


Sensationalism could have been involved in data gathering or data massaging.

People who don’t make a living wage but are alive. Aka Democrat lies by innumerate, economically illiterate feelings-machines.

Grow your food (except cereals).

Unrelated but if reports are right Larry Kudlow will be the new economics adviser. Great choice.

Because let us be honest, one of the things missing from the non-stop Trump reality show has been a former cokehead in the White House.

Though it was Bush that actually premiered the role.

To be fair, he's also an alcoholic.

They said General Grant was an alcoholic. Ask Bobbie Lee how that worked.

Find out what brand/type of liquor he drinks. Send a case to each of the economists screwing around at Goldman Sachs, the Fed, FNMA, FHMLC, etc.

Trump 2020.

The South will rise again! Trump 2020.

You wrote "non-stop Trump reality show" as of it is a bad thing. haha

An actual "bad thing" was when the smart kids tanked the economy in the and early 2000's.

To be fair, whoever replaces Cohn likely doesn't have quite such a "checkered" past.

You say Kudlow missed calling the crash.

Cohn helped cause it.

Pursuant to Mr. Cohn's mortgage leadership at Goldman Sachs, in 2010, GS was forced to pay $550 million to settle claims that it misled investors in a subprime mortgage product known as Abacus 2007 C-1. He played a major role in the subprime mortgage melt-down. When Cohn took over the mortgage unit in 2000, it was trading $1 billion of securities a week, according to a 2010 story by the Wall Street Journal‘s Susanne Craig. Three years later, it was trading $50 billion, helping to spread the unsatisfactorily and dangerously underwritten loans and mortgage derivatives that crashed the economy. Even more, in 2010 Cohn lied (under oath) to the Financial Crisis Commission regarding GS Fed borrowings. Not to worry. Despite its role in the crisis, GS (along with the other too-big-to-fail banks that tanked the economy) was given $10 billion in taxpayer/TARP money.

Just cause Cohn is a globalist doesn't mean he was very good in the position. He did sane things like oppose indiscriminate tariffs, but so will Ludlow, maybe. Cohn is first an opportunist and second a babysitter. I suspect he'll parlay this into a nice gig to boost his very modest retirement.

'You wrote “non-stop Trump reality show” as of it is a bad thing.'

No I didn't - that an accurate description of something that I find fantastically entertaining. Trump is capable of doing things that exceed the entertainment value of something he has just done a day or week ago. It is amazing to watch, though one would assume that he cannot keep exceeding himself so reliably. Admittedly, I have been thinking that for a while, and he continues to deliver.

For example, the porn star hush money story just keeps getting more entertaining as more documents and information become public - lines of credit, bank queries about where the money was going, a court case revealing the agreement, and of course, the clumsy lying (and occasional unintentional truth telling) that is a true hallmark of the non-stop Trump reality show. The sad thing is, there is only way I can imagine Trump topping himself in this area, which is why reality TV tends to be so much less fun than real life. (Though bringing in a former KGB officer with video is exactly the sort of thing that a lazy reality TV writer might suggest to increase flagging ratings.)

Trump has been a fantastically entertaining figure to me for more than 30 years, and he continues to be so as president. Why anyone would hate or love him escapes me completely - loving or hating someone who is always performing seems a waste of time.

Oh, awesome. The talking head who said repeatedly from December 2007 through early 2008 that we weren't headed for a recession , and then weren't that we'd be rebounding by summer 2008.

At least he believes in trickle down economics, which has been disproven in general, and in some cases harms growth.

Great work everyone.

You talk as if there are talking heads with proven track records of predicting recessions.

FYI, this is not from the original Bob from Ohio.

Demographers project that China's population will continue to grow in the first half of this century and then decline by 400 million in the second half (that's the mid-range estimate). That's more than the population of the U.S. Will that coincide with an economic decline in China?

'Russian love Lada (why?)'

One of Martin Cruz Smith's books (Red Square possibly) had an answer to that - Ladas are built to handle Russian roads. Seemed reasonable, assuming one has any experience of the normal roads found throughout in the old Warsaw Pact.

The first car I had was a Fiat 124, fond memories of the unbelievable understeer and nice stick shift. I saw a Lada Riva and it is identical down to the door handles.

Great little car, lots of room, cheap to run.

TC: please fix typo: "Russian love..." "Russians love..."
.delete this post.

They got rid of Tillerson.

Before that the vetoed Romney

Sure that's weird, but is it really weirder than anything else in this sh*tshow?

"I’m leery of any story that originates with Steele. His past work, including the infamous Trump/Russia dossier, has been less than, shall we say, convincing. So, I’d recommend taking this Romney allegation with a grain of salt. The New Yorker article itself refers to this November 2016 memo as “fantastical.”"

But then, you probably didn't read that far. It goes on:

"Then again, as Mayer notes, this story would finally explain the absolutely bizarre Romney/Trump meeting two years ago. It’d explain why the Massachusetts governor didn’t get the gig, even after he publicly embraced and supported Trump. It’d explain why, practically out of nowhere, Trump announced on Dec. 13, 2016, that Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson had landed the job. Then again, it wouldn't explain the president approving the sale of 210 missiles and 37 launchers to Ukraine."

The Occam's Razor explanation here is that Trump was trolling Romney, who didn't "support" Trump until after his election. But that wouldn't have generated clicks...

My sentence above was in response to that skepticism.

"Sure that’s weird, but is it really weirder than anything else in this sh*tshow?"

We do know that the trolls worked in that direction as well. Again weird, but in this environment not that weird.

Maybe I assume you are keeping up.

Mixed thoughts on this. He decimated the professional foreign service and scared good professionals away. It really couldn't get much worse in terms of how he managed the department. He was never in the same page with Trump, which was bad for efficiency and perception.

But Tillerson also at least tried not to alienate our allies and even admitted basic truths about Russia (this may have gotten him fired). This was not expected on his confirmation but was welcomed by most--obviously not Trump.

Tillerson was a terrible Secretary of State, but he was fired ultimately because Trump does not want (or doesn't know how to create) an authentic Administration.

This is executive branch rule by one man's whim.

I mean jeez, does anyone else remember the three-party press conference that is normal in this situation? Old guy, new guy, the president. They each say bland and comfortable things, (usually in the rose garden) and then it's over. But of course to do that you have to think a week ahead, have the meetings, and set it up.

Trump would rather go into negotiations with a nuclear NK with a yes man running State and no ambassador to South Korea. It's called #winning and just what the out of work tool and die maker in Southeast Ohio demands.

My dad did some tool and die work, before he became a shop teacher, which was in many respects better employment.

But I don't think the "Trump followers" are really that dedicated to negotiations or any other policy. They *follow* Trump, and declare #winning at whatever comes next. He has a dedicated, but thankfully small, cult of personality.

We all know Trump is the only one that matters.

It is hilarious that Trump fans of a few months ago now think their best offense is "no one should care about politics!"

I think #12 will be the next Secretary of State.

Kramnik v. Aronian was wonderful.

The circus is in decline in the US as well.

Not if you include Politics.

Absolutely not.

Russian military expenditures increased from 3.4% of GDP in 2017 to 5.7% in 2016. While GDP increased substantially in the same period. That helps to explain why they are showing off their new "V weapons" right now.

After discussing it with my mechanic, it seems Ladas are relatively inexpensive, reliable, and more comfortable than in the past. I bought a used American car from an acquaintance, but would consider buying a Lada in the future.

Scroll down and look at the different models, all advertised at under 10,000 dollars:


Like the comparisons to French wine (versus Stag's Leap) and German beer (versus Anchor or Sierra Nevada), given a similar comparison to Russian vodka, we now have a vastly superior California sourced alternative (Hanger One).
Everybody loves,, or should love, a lovely beverage, and California is all about this kind of loveliness.

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