Back in January I—and probably every Twitter user ever—received a very odd email from our favorite microblogging service. (Is Twitter considered microblogging? I’m going to assume it is, but I’m not actually sure which services qualify as microblogging services…) Here’s the email in its entirety.
Dear Natalie K.,
As part of our recent work to understand Russian-linked activities on Twitter during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we identified and suspended a number of accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency.
Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing you because we have reason to believe that you either followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked content from these accounts during the election period. This is purely for your own information purposes, and is not related to a security concern for your account.
We are sharing this information so that you can learn more about these accounts and the nature of the Russian propaganda effort. You can see examples of content from these suspended accounts on our blog if you’re interested. Continue reading “About That Weird Twitter Email”→
Today, while researching something (I can’t remember what I was looking up on my phone during the lunch break), I found reference to the fact that there’s an entirely new government in power in Ukraine. Apparently, President Poroshenko fired Arseniy Yatsyenyuk, the previous Prime Minister, and appointed someone else. Along with a new PM, there are other new ministers, too. Natalie Jaresko isn’t the finance minister anymore. (I don’t know much about her, but I’ve always been rather partial to her because of her name.) The most amazing thing about this is it happened back in April and I had no idea about it until today. Even more amazing, it doesn’t bother me that I had no idea.
Even a year ago, this whole idea would have been shocking to me, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with not being a Russia watcher anymore. Years ago, I never imagined I could be this content while not being a Russia watcher, but… I am. It’s surprising, but a good kind of surprising.
I want to thank everyone who commented on this post about that Ukraine book I want to write. Your support really means a lot to me. This past week was kind of bad and annoying, so seeing those encouraging comments made me happy. 🙂
As for the book itself… I’m working on getting an outline together so that I can define the scope. I want to have a good idea of what I’m going to write about before I start doing serious research for it. Otherwise, the research just gets too confusing very quickly.
While we’re on the topic of this book, I’d love to know your opinions about footnotes/endnotes. The only lengthy nonfiction writing I’ve done has been in academic history, where people just love content-rich footnotes/endnotes. What this means is the notes don’t just contain citations of sources, but actual information as well. For example, I used footnotes in my final thesis project to put a random discussion of hot air balloons carrying massive portraits of Stalin in the countryside of the Soviet Union in the 1930s. It was an interesting fact, but didn’t fully fit in the paper itself.
Honestly, I think reading these notes is kind of a pain. You have to flip back and forth within the book and that gets tiresome after a while. Do you think it’s a good idea to try to avoid doing this sort of thing for the Ukraine book? I’m inclined to avoid it if possible because I want people to actually read what I’ve written.
About a year ago, I started outlining a nonfiction book about Ukraine. Then some stuff happened and I trashed my research and stopped working on the book. I even stopped using the software I had to research the book (a nice little application called Evernote, in case you’re wondering).
I recently began using Evernote again to organize some other files I had on my computer. (Who would have thought it was great for organizing crochet and knitting patterns, too?) I stumbled across the outline for the Ukraine book and realized something: I think I want to write it. There were many reasons I abandoned writing it. I was busy with some other things, I was worried that my perspective would be unpopular, etc. Well, I still may be busy with other things, like work stuff and my fiction writing, and my perspective certainly isn’t well-represented in many articles I’ve read, but I’m really feeling compelled to write this book.
Maybe announcing projects very far in advance is a bad idea… but I’m doing so anyway because I’m excited. I know that I have way too many writing projects planned (I have a document dedicated to nothing but ideas for novels that I want to write someday). But hey, what’s yet another project to add to the pile? Besides, on the bright side, I find writing nonfiction vastly easier to writing fiction. I have no idea why, but it’s true.
I conducted a poll last week but then I didn’t feel like blogging very much, as you probably noticed. (I even missed Wednesday Music!) Last week was the anniversary of the MH17 crash in Ukraine, which made (and still makes) me too sad to blog about Russia and/or Ukraine. So even though the poll was overwhelmingly in favor of me returning to writing about Russia, I didn’t feel like it last week.
Did you know that animals were among the victims of the plane crash? There were animals in the cargo hold, including adorable dogs and adorable birds. I never heard about that last year when the crash happened. My advice to you is not to seek out photos of these animals. I stumbled across a couple and they were very sad. 😭
I’m feeling very sad tonight about the plane. Hopefully I’ll feel better tomorrow. Now I’m off to read some Russian poetry, including this poem, which I completely forgot existed until earlier this evening.
I finished another book in Russian. I haven’t read all that many books in Russian, so this is an accomplishment. The book is called Катынское дело: проверка на русофобию [The Katyn Affair: A Check For Russophobia] by Viktor Ilyukhin, a former prosecutor and Communist Party deputy until his death in 2011. The book was interesting because it’s the first nonfiction, history-related book I’ve read in Russian. If you look at my Russian Log, you’ll see that I’ve mainly read novels so far.
And it’s on to more novel reading now. Remember when I wrote about those science fiction novels about a conflict between Russia and Ukraine? Well, I’m finally reading one of those. I’m starting with Fyodor Berezin’s Война 2010: Украинский фронт [War 2010: The Ukrainian Front]. I started reading it on my Kindle last night and so far, I really like it. It’s already giving me some ideas for my own fiction (as if I need any more ideas!).
This story, in Russian, says that Kiev has canceled the military parade for Victory Day on May 9. May 8, however, will be celebrated as a day of remembrance and reconciliation. Will this remembrance include the Polish victims of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (also known by its Ukrainian/Russian acronym, UPA) in World War II? We shall see.
So remember when I blogged last week that the US military is training some units from the Ukrainian military to fight the Russian invaders/rebels of Donbass/brave freedom fighters/evil Putin robot clones bent on Communist world domination/whatever term you want to insert here? Well, that training commenced yesterday and I have hilariously amazing photos culled straight from the Runet (Russian-speaking internet) for you! I found them here, but I’m going to showcase all of them here, with amazing commentary, so you don’t need to even click on that link (unless you really want to, of course).
Anyway, this training is supposed to go on for several months, if I remember correctly. If you think about it, the US is sort of fighting Russia right now, by using Ukraine as a proxy. I hope Russia does not return the favor.
So I haven’t researched this extensively, but the Russian-language media is reporting that the United States is sending 290 military instructors to Lvov, Ukraine to train troops there, including members of the Azov, Yaguar, and Omega battalions, among others.
The article is here, if you read Russian. Needless to say, the Russians aren’t too pleased about this. I’m not either, considering that the Azov Battalion is known for being especially nasty. They’re pro-Nazi (they use Nazi imagery; I’ll update this post with photos later) and are a rather odious group in general. If my country is actually helping them—well, that’s just appalling.