Red Plenty: What were they thinking?

by Maria on June 7, 2012

In August 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. Television screens in the early days of the 24-hour news cycle told and re-told the confused but familiar tale of tanks in Red Square and a damaged leader confined to his dacha. I watched from Hofstra University, where I was working that summer, visiting America for the first time. I watched Oprah, went to the mall and rescued textbooks from campus bins, astonished at just how much of everything there was in America. In October, I flew back to Ireland at the last possible moment, excitedly telling first-day classmates at University College Dublin that I’d only arrived in that morning. And then the iron fist of reality came down with a thump.

There hadn’t been time to replace the compulsory second year course, Soviet Politics. In January 1992, we knuckled down to learn the defunct super-power’s committee structures, nominal reporting lines and some elementary Kremlinology. The lecturer delivered it in a state of mumbling hopelessness, his life’s work having evaporated in the middle of his career. The following summer, almost a year after the Soviet Union’s collapse, I regurgitated into three scrawled exam essays the precise textbook details of how the USSR had been governed. I may even have used the present tense. It was easily the most pointless and brain-numbing thing I’ve ever done. [click to continue…]

Euro 2012 open thread

by Chris Bertram on June 7, 2012

I have no idea how this one will go. Germany will probably do well, but that’s the extent of my predictions. Traditionally, it has been a competition where no-hoper teams (Denmark 92, Greece 04) can spring a surprise. Predictions? Golden boot? Fire away.