A quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute, edited by Brian C. Anderson.
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The US surveillance over mobile phone communication, e-mail etc. is the optimal means one can imagine (who else ??) to prevent crime, terrorism, human right violations etc. However, it is not inexpensive. In my opinion, the countries producing fossil fuels should financially support this noble initiative.
Overpopulation, ecological damage and the climate change
Overpopulation leads to poverty, overcrowding, pollution of air and water . Together with increasing unemployment and food shortages, these factors will decrease the quality of life for bilions of people . Moreover, it is becoming evident that the climate changes are influenced by human industrial activities, which are proportional to the population size. The ongoing industrial development of the previously underdeveloped countries is precarious because environment protection measures are observed less rigorously there and, most importantly, because of the unplanned nature and large scale of this process, proportional to the population size. Countries with a high population growth are not likely to spontaneously fall below the replacement fertility level in the foreseeable future .
Ecological damage and depletion of non-renewable resources are proportional to the population size [4,5]. Food production cannot increase infinitely without soil depletion, desertification, deforestation and other forms of environmental damage . Humankind can choose between reduction of the population growth by diminishing the birth rate and of raising the death rate  by means of famine, epidemics or homicide, which were usual during the whole history. Humanity is in a demographic dead-end street , whereas no realistic solutions of the overpopulation problem have been proposed so far. Such solutions would require a revision of some ethical principles and propagation of new ones, in particular, that no population group, on a national or on an international scale, may obtain any advantages because of its numerical size and further growth. On the contrary, those who have had many children should logically live in more modest conditions. Without procreative competition, different peoples will be likely to live in peace and help each other. Importantly, there would be no need for any kind of discrimination because the equality principle would automatically impact the populations with higher birth rates. The most reliable method of birth control is sterilization . The last (or single) birth should be preferably accomplished by caesarean section. Although more costly, this procedure is associated with a lesser risk for the newborn and facilitates sterilization by resection of the fallopian tubes. Mass vasectomy in men would be also efficient, especially in the populations, where overt or hidden polygamy is practiced.
Sterilization can provide a solution to the controversies related to the economic migrations, which cause a growing opposition in more developed countries. If an economy needs foreign manpower, sterilization could be a desirable or obligatory condition for a work and residence permit. A high-quality sterilization service could be provided by the countries receiving immigrants. Such measures would be more humane than economical sanctions against families with many children, which, to be efficient, must include e.g. denial of free education and medical care to the second or third child. The victims of such measures would be children themselves, who are not responsible for their parents’ unwillingness to use contraception.
It can be argued that sterilization does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS; however, these conditions may be regarded as self-inflicted as a result of negligent or immoral behavior, thus being in a sense a private matter. However, when children appear, it ceases to be a private matter or an inherent human right, as the number of children in a family is of public concern. Furthermore it can be heard as objection that birth control and sterilization are ‘unnatural’. It should be noted that death from infectious, parasitic diseases and many forms of homicide is natural, while survival in the case of a perforated appendicitis is quite unnatural. In fact, it is the human civilization that is unnatural, and it is the civilization that can solve the problems of overpopulation and international conflicts.
High fertility was propagandized during the global conflicts and the Cold War to replenish military and manpower resources. Urgent necessity of birth control has been obfuscated by conflicting national and global interests: population growth has been regarded as a tool helping to sovereignty and economic advance. Even today, there are appeals to increase the birth rate, accompanied by misinformation about allegedly severe complications of contraception and abortions . Global birth control by means of widespread sterilization requires investments and managerial efforts; all simpler and less expensive solutions would be however less humane. As a source of financing, oil and gas revenues, sometimes spent in a wasteful and unproductive manner, could be used.
The population of Uganda is expected to triple by 2050 to above 100 million citizens, which would be accompanied by deforestation and soil erosion . The tenfold population increase in Ethiopia during the last century, despite the land rehabilitation and water conservation measures, resulted in problems threatening agricultural development and food supply . Soil erosion cannot be overseen: ravines are visible from the road in the fertile highlands in the north of the country. A consequence of excessive birth rates is unemployment, especially among young people .
Labor productivity is growing; few people can provide means of subsistence for many, while unemployment is increasing. In the past, similar conditions were terminated by wars and pestilence. This has not happened long since, and we are waiting to see what happens, while the population is growing. However, there are many things to do. Great projects could be accomplished by a globalised mankind: construction of irrigation facilities for drought-stricken lands; nuclear, solar, tidal and other power plants to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, etc. Scientific research must be revitalized and purged of scientific misconduct . These measures would create work for many people. Moreover, should the birth rate decline in the future, it means that the workforce is at its maximum today, which provides an opportunity to accomplish great projects. Therefore, propaganda should popularize the image of hardworking people, which must become a pattern of identification for the youth.
Furthermore, in some southern and eastern Asian countries, the sex ratio has become skewed towards men, partly in consequence of gender-selective abortions [14,15]. In the People’s Republic of China, male-to-female ratio among the newborns was reported to be about 119:100 . A similar phenomenon was observed in India  and among immigrants from Asia to Europe . Due to traditional, economic and social reasons, many families prefer to have sons, which is the cause entails the increasing male-to-female ratio in the newborns, infanticide, abandonment of newborn girls, and neglect of daughters . The predominance of males is more conspicuous in the lower socio-economic classes; and there is a concern that their marginalization may lead to antisocial behavior threatening societal stability . As the excess of men causes insecurity, families are further motivated to have more sons for protection. Moreover, societies with increasing amounts of young unoccupied men might become militaristic, which has probably contributed to some recent local conflicts. Son preference was reported also from Africa , where gender shifts are not yet prominent because of lesser availability of the prenatal gender testing. Moreover, should fertility in future decline, the motivation to perform gender-selective abortions would become stronger; and many families would try to have at least one boy to secure the patriarchal lineage . It should be also mentioned here that the population size and gender imbalance in some countries are probably underestimated because the migrants, who are predominantly males, can be overlooked by a census. The gender imbalance will probably increase in future, because of the advancing gender-testing technologies becoming available to the broad population [14,17].
Due to the international migrations, a regional excess of men inevitably causes global repercussions. A local outflow of men probably further stimulates the gender-selective practices in their native countries. The increasing gender imbalance may require a revision of traditional patterns of sexual behavior. Considering the above, effective measures against the gender-selective abortions are urgently needed. However, measures taken by individual countries would hardly ever be sufficient. Unfortunately, for young males in some regions, the damage has already been done, and measures against gender imbalance in future newborns would not help them to find a female partner during their future life.
In conclusion, a globalised mankind needs to eliminate the motives for high fertility and gender shifts, to protect and support childless elderly people, unwed mothers and families raising girls. Only by concentrating authority in a powerful international executive can globalised humankind break the vicious circus of overpopulation, international competition and conflicts.
1. Greep RO. Whither the global population problem. Biochem Pharmacol 1998; 55(4): 383-386.
2. Robey B. Asia’s demographic future: the next 20 years. Asia Pac Pop Policy 1990; (14): 1-4.
3. Lutz W, Qiang R. Determinants of human population growth. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2002; 357: 1197-1210.
4. Van Niekerk J. P. de V. Humans - a threat to humanity. S Afr Med J 2008; 98(3): 163.
5. Desvaux M. The sustainability of human populations: How many people can live on earth?
Significance 2007; September: 102-107.
6. Reddy PH. India in the demographic trap. Janasamkhya 1989; 2: 93-102.
7. Russell C, Russell WM. Population crises and population cycles. Med Confl Surviv 2000; 16(4): 383-410.
8. Vishnevsky AG. Selected Works in Demography. Moscow: Nauka, 2005 (in Russian).
9. Zaaijman J du T. Humans - a threat to humanity. S Afr Med J 2008; 98(5): 330.
10. Jargin SV. Overpopulation and modern ethics. S Afr Med J. 2009;99(8):572-3.
11. Coombes R. Climate Change. Population: the forgotten priority. BMJ. 2009 Sep 16;339:b3750.
12. Nyssen J, Haile M, Naudts J, Munro N, Poesen J, Moeyersons J, Frankl A, Deckers J, Pankhurst R. Desertification? Northern Ethiopia re-photographed after 140 years. Sci Total Environ. 2009;407(8):2749-55.
13. Jargin SV. Scientific misconduct and international cooperation. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2002;122(9):953.
14. Hesketh T, Lu L, Xing ZW. The consequences of son preference and sex-selective abortion in China and other Asian countries. CMAJ. 2011;183(12):1374-7.
15. Torjesen I. Chinese would resist having larger families if one child policy was relaxed. BMJ 2010;340:c1212.
16. Singh N, Pripp AH, Brekke T, Stray-Pedersen B. Different sex ratios of children born to Indian and Pakistani immigrants in Norway. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2010;10:40.
17. Hesketh T, Xing ZW. Abnormal sex ratios in human populations: causes and consequences. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2006;103(36):13271-13275.
18. Beyeza-Kashesy J, Neema S, Ekstrom AM, Kaharuza F, Mirembe F, Kulane A. “Not a boy, not a child”: A qualitative study on young people’s views on childbearing in Uganda. Afr J Reprod Health 2010;14:71-81.
Uncle and Nephew
This essay, partly a potpourri of other writers’ works, was largely based on true facts, which were discussed in the paper (1). Its purpose has been protection of weaker members of society and overcoming of hostile stereotypes from the past.
The uncle was more muscular than the nephew. The nephew had started drinking alcohol at an age of about 12 years, and has obviously damaged his health, conscience and the intellect. They almost never argued. Only once the uncle defenestrated his nephew. They lived in the first floor; the nephew landed in bush and was not damaged. He came back to the apartment, and the uncle threw him again out of the window. Then the nephew borrowed three roubles and came back home with a bottle of vodka; thereafter the uncle has never defenestrated him again. This incident was described by the writer Andrei Kuchaev, who emigrated from Russia to Germany in 1995 and died there in 2009.
They worked both at one garage: the uncle was a mechanic and the nephew a driver; he transported foodstuffs from a factory to shops. Like many other drivers, he drove about a kilometre away from the factory and made the “weeding”. Milk and other products were transported in plastic cassettes containing three rows with six packages in each row. The “weeding” means taking one package from the bottom row. Besides he stole small amounts of products at the factory and sold all that to acquainted saleswomen. It did not bring much money but was enough to buy a bottle of vodka after each working day. After work he went together with other drivers with the bottle to a beer house or home to the uncle.
Another incident described by Andrei Kuchaev: a day before, the uncle and nephew drank too much and got up too late to go to work. So they went to a polyclinic to get a sick leave. Without waiting in the queue they entered the doctor’s office; the uncle talked to the doctor, while the nephew noticed on a shelf a bottle with about 200 ml of alcohol. He quietly took it, drank with one big swallow and ate some ointment with it. The nurse noticed it:
- Why are you eating the ointment? It is for patients.
- I am a patient too. Besides, I cannot drink pure alcohol without eating something with it; only the uncle can do it.
The doctor could not bear it and wrote one sick leave for the both. They went to the garage to show the sick leave and then went home to continue binge drinking.
The uncle was a war veteran. He had been at the Volkhov front not far from Novgorod where a large German offensive took place in the autumn 1941 (the author is unsure about historical facts, he only reproduces what he heard from witnesses). The uncle sometimes narrated about the war: “The airplanes come, we hide in the bush; the planes go, we go out of the bush”. Then the rumour reached them that they are encircled. They threw their weapons out, put on the coats inside out (otherwise there can be shooting) and went to the captivity. The way lasted almost a whole day.
First time the uncle was in a prisoners-of-war camp. There follows an incident described by the Nobel Prize winner Mikhail Sholokhov. The uncle worked at the prisoner-of-war camp as an electrician. Once after work he was called to the German guards who purred him out a glass of schnapps (about 150 ml). He drank it with one big swallow and did not take any food from the table. Another glass was purred out, he drank it again without eating anything, and so four times. The guards were impressed; they gave him a bottle of schnapps, some bread and sausage. In the story by Mikhail Sholokhov he came back to the barrack, gave the food to his comrades and lost consciousness. In fact it occurred during the daytime; there were only 5-6 people in the barrack, others were somewhere working. They emptied the bottle and left for their comrades only a part of the food.
Later the uncle served as Hiwi (Hilfswilliger – “voluntary helper”) and wore the German uniform. He worked with horses as an assistant of the military veterinarian. He had learned German at school, had read several books, and soon started speaking well. The uncle often remembered his German comrades. They played football with local residents, gave food to hungry children, and spoke sometimes unfavourably about their own Party members. All that the uncle told to the nephew and to his boon companions.
The uncle witnessed about another story that had been reproduced by the Soviet classical literature – in a novel by Alexander Fadeyev “The Young Guard”. The uncle witnessed that the group of young people presented in the novel as partisans robbed civil vehicles. They were arrested after an attempted robbery of a truck transporting soldier’s gifts. Thereafter they stayed in prison till the German retreat from Ukraine, when the prisoners were freed. Some of them wanted to Germany, as many young people did; but the retreat went swiftly, and it was hardly possible. The Hiwis were given certificates in Russian language where it was written approximately the following: “The so-and-so was in the prisoners-of-war camp and refused working”. With such a certificate the uncle was arrested by the Soviet military, remained for a short time in detainment, then was taken to the military service again and served until 1948 in the newly acquired Soviet territories: Lithuania and West Ukraine. He came home with some booty: objets d'art, books with naked women, etc. After the demobilization the uncle studied in Moscow and became engineer. He spoke sometimes German with the nephew who inherited his germanophilia, typical for a part of Russian middle class: Germany has been associated with order, law and culture, which have sometimes been scarce in Russia. Besides, many people knew from where a large part of medicine, science and technology came to Russia. We, small people, do not understand many things well. Why the uncle, a good engineer, drank so much? Was it genocide of a part of Russian nation, to let them drink toxic surrogates, legally sold in shops? (2,3) Once the uncle went to work and came back after an hour with a head injury, which he was unable to clearly explain. After that, his progressive dementia became conspicuous. We wonder whether it is not the time to discontinue the fratricide, which still goes on in many heads. Especially some women like to discuss battles and mass victims. Are we not in one boot, all of us? There must be finally piece in the human minds after that war, like it was after the South African War (1899-1902) or the Boer Wars, regarded by many as infamous (4).
Probably under the influence of one of his friends, a drinking student, the nephew’s brain, damaged by alcohol, started generating an idea that the uncle is an obstacle on the way to his own apartment and private happiness: women do not want to live with him supposedly because of the uncle. Then the nephew and the student started talking the mentally deficient uncle into believing that his life has no sense anymore, that dementia will only worsen, and that suicide would be the best solution.
They came in the evening, drank some vodka, and another bottle was left for the next morning. They consumed it with black coffee; the uncle told that he had learned it from Germans. Anyway strong coffee washes vodka well down. When the bottle was finished, a sling was put on his neck, and the uncle was accompanied to a hook in the wall of the corridor where a footstool stood ready. Later, the nephew gave to the student a key to his apartment now and then.
The case was treated by authorities as a suicide. Retrospectively, it should be probably reclassified as an assisted suicide. The perpetrators discussed mercy as one of the motives, in view of the supposedly unfavourable prognosis of alcohol-related dementia. It is known however that alcohol-related dementia can be reversible, at least in part, after a period of abstinence (5). The impetus for writing this essay were the nephew's remarks about his present-day father-in-law, a handicapped man living alone in his countryside house: ‘I always pour him vodka during our visits. His life has no sense anyway’.
A concluding point is that the state should care more about weaker members of the society, including those suffering of alcohol-related dementia, because they are vulnerable and can be abused by their families or expropriated by criminals. It should be also recommended that Russian authorities investigate the cases, when alcoholics, handicapped and other people were deprived of their apartments or houses as a result of illegal acts, having thus become homeless, and to help these people to obtain decent accommodation.
After the first publication of this story the author was asked about relationships between the uncle and nephew. Why did they share the apartment? As mentioned above, the case was discussed scientifically in (1). Is this case typical of the familial relationships in Russia? The latter question should be answered cautiously positive (6). Older men, not inclined to sit with grandchildren, are sometimes more or less consciously manipulated towards self-destructive behavior, which might induce them to neglect their health, drink more alcohol, to smoke etc. The partly fictional essay above is an imaginary continuation of the stories by Andrei Kuchaev about the uncle and nephew; but in the genuine case (1) there were the father, the son… and the mother. The latter, divorcing her alcoholic husband, exchanged a large apartment into two smaller ones: for the mother and grandmother and for the father and son. The son had personality traits classified by the author as schizoid and sadistic: inclination to reasoning including the idea of murder; in his childhood and adolescence he mistreated his grandmother, which apparently had an ethnic motive. The grandmother had married a person of non-Russian ethnicity, which supposedly had a negative impact on the grandson’s life. Moreover, the ethnic factor probably contributed to his alcohol consumption: consciously and subconsciously he tried to appear as Russian as possible. We do not know to what extent the mother was informed about her son’s plans i.e. whether she was a formal accomplice or not. The grandmother died in the 1990s after a femur neck fracture and more than a year’s staying in bed, although it was possible to arrange a reconstructive operation. There was also another tentative aspect by this story. The nephew (we continue naming him so) maintained that his grandfather had served with the intelligence and hinted that he, the nephew, continued it in some way. The grandfather’s war booty was anyway much larger that the uncle’s one and included furniture. It should be mentioned here that the intelligence service has noble and heroic duties, but they should not to take over the functions of court in this way. It is however unclear whether this topic is of any relevance to the case under discussion.
In conclusion, there finally must be an amnesty with regard to such people as the uncle. It can be heard from the ex-Soviet establishment (expressed in some films) that there may be an amnesty but not a reward: they should stay somewhere at the margin of society, away from the eyes. In the author’s opinion however the amnesty and forgiveness must be mutual and complete.
1. Jargin SV. Social vulnerability of alcoholics and patients with alcohol-related dementia: a view from Russia. Alcohol and Alcoholism 2010;45(3):293-4. http://alcalc.oxfordjournals.org/content/45/3/293.long
2. Jargin SV. Letter from Russia: minimal price for vodka established in Russia from 1 January 2010. Alcohol and Alcoholism 2010;45(6):586-8. http://alcalc.oxfordjournals.org/content/45/6/586.long
3. Jargin SV. Health care and life expectancy: a letter from Russia. Public Health 2013;127(2):189-90
4. Pakenham Th. The Boer War. Jonathan Ball Publishers, Johannesburg; Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1979.
5. Gupta S, Warner J. Alcohol-related dementia: a 21st-century silent epidemic? British Journal of Psychiatry. 2008;193(5):351-3.
6. Puchkov PV. Sociological interpretation of elder abuse. Saratow University, 2005. (Russian)
On the future of the nuclear energy
Nuclear energy is the cleanest, safest and practically inexhaustible means to meet the global energy needs , which are steadily growing together with the global population and industrialization of the previously underdeveloped countries. Increasing dependence of the most developed nations from producers of the fossil fuels is currently overturning the global gradients of wealth and power. The nations who have developed science and technology for the rest of the world are becoming relatively poor in comparison to those living on the territories rich in fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources. However, the high level of science and technology will follow the wealth: whole institutes with a lot of foreign expertise will be probably transferred to Russia from abroad in the near future, as it is currently happening in other oil-producing countries. Vladimir Lenin has written approximately the following phrase: the capitalists will sell a rope to hang them up. Some experts and professionals, emigrated from the former SU since the 1970s, will have economical and other motives for repatriation. They should have no illusions: what awaits them is mobbing, threats, provoke-and-punish treatment etc., if they do not collaborate in everything including violations of scientific ethics: participation in unreliable publications, resending private e-mail correspondence e.g. with foreign colleagues to third persons, etc. It happened recently to a professional with experience abroad, employed at the Ivanovsky Institute of Virology in Moscow, dismissed as a result of his refusal to comply with unethical demands.
It should be stressed that Chernobyl nuclear accident has been exploited for the worldwide strangulation of nuclear energy production , which has contributed to the price elevation for the non-renewable fossil fuels. It is obvious for an internal observer that behind the avalanche of predominantly Russian-language publications (many of them were referenced in the volume ) was a directive, which is not surprising considering the authoritative management style, now as before prevailing in science, medicine and other areas. The research topics have been often assigned to the scientists, whereas expected results were discussed at the conferences with participation of functionaries (so-called uchenyi soviet – scientific council). The normal practice was “recommendation” in advance of certain results and conclusions to the researchers. According to the author’s observations, an unofficial directive to exaggerate consequences of the Chernobyl accident in scientific articles was issued in the former SU as early as in the 1980s. Some unserious publications, evidently serving the above-named purposes, were discussed previously [3,4]. Such attitude can be observed not only in the former SU; and has apparently a tendency of spreading. Here follows an example.
The following paradox was noticed : “Mutation in the microsatellite genome after Chernobyl but not after Hiroshima and Nagasaki”, although populations and research methods were analogous in a study from Japan  and in those about Chernobyl [7-9]. No evidence for minisatellite mutation induction has been found also after radiotherapy [10-12]. In the authors’ reply to our criticism  and in a previous publication by the same researchers , this phenomenon was explained by a supposed action of the short-lived radioactive isotopes after the Chernobyl accident. It should be commented, that after the Chernobyl accident, the principal contributors to the doses to organs other than the thyroid were the long-lived isotopes Cs-137 and Cs-134 . The share of the short-lived radioactive isotopes in the population exposure must have been much lower than that after the atomic explosions in Japan, where no increase in minisatellite mutations was found. After a nuclear power-plant accident, predominantly those radionuclides are released into the environment that had been accumulated in the reactor, i.e. the relatively long-lived ones; whereas during an atomic explosion both short- and long-lived radionuclides are generated and can immediately exert their biological action. However, considering the extension of certain spheres of influence, one would probably find one day those microsatellite mutations also in Japan; relevant reports are already appearing . In the West, among the motives of the overestimation of Chernobyl consequences have been the anti-nuclear resentments propagated by some adherents of the Green movement well in agreement with the interests of the oil producers.
Today there are no alternatives to nuclear power; especially for Europe, where large hydroelectric power stations cannot be built. The fossil fuels will become increasingly expensive, contributing to excessive population growth in fuel-producing countries and poverty elsewhere. Natural sources of power generation like wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric power and electricity from combustible renewables and waste will make a contribution, but their share in the global energy balance is too small  to substitute for nuclear power. In future, nuclear fission will be probably replaced by fusion, which is intrinsically safer . However, the worldwide introduction of nuclear energy should be managed and supervised by a powerful international executive based in the most developed parts of the world. It would prevent from spreading of nuclear technologies to unstable regions and also permit construction of nuclear power plants in optimal locations, notwithstanding national borders, considering all socio-political, geological and other prerequisites. In this way, nuclear catastrophes like in Fukushima (2011), caused by a formidable earthquake, would be avoided. Besides, it would create jobs for the nuclear experts; otherwise the whole know-how in the nuclear domain will be gradually transferred to the East.
Restriction of the nuclear energy production in Europe would cause increasing dependence of European countries from Russia. Appeals to dismantle the currently operating in Germany nuclear power stations  are in agreement with the interests of the oil producers. Displacement of power and wealth to the East will come along with losses of certain values such as the independence of justice and science the governing bureaucracy [19,20], not to name more general concepts. Some corruption will come instead. There is an opinion in Russia that the maximum of authority and the living standards should so far remain in the West, because otherwise it would move further and further to the East. Europe has been the main source not only of modern science and medicine, but also of the humanitarian ideas that are accepted more or less globally today. On the author’s opinion, displacement of the power and authority to the East would have unfavorable consequences for science, evidence-based medicine and also to the humanitarian sphere . In conclusion, nuclear energy production should be developed in Europe and also globally under the guidance of an executive based in the most developed countries.
1. Jaworowski, Z. Observations on the Chernobyl Disaster and LNT. Dose Response 2010;8:148-71.
2. Yablokov AV et al. Chernobyl. Consequences of the catastrophe for people and the environment. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009; vol. 1181.
3. Jargin SV. Overestimation of Chernobyl consequences: poorly substantiated information published. Radiat Environ Biophys 2010;49:743-5.
4. Jargin SV. Thyroid cancer after Chernobyl: obfuscated truth. Dose-Response 2011;9:471-6.
5. Walter M. Strahlenschutz - Argumente gegen die von der ICRP (Internationale Kommission für Strahlenschutz) vorgesehenen Lockerungen der Regeln. Schweizerische Ärztezeitung 2006;86:1584-8.
6. Kodaira M et al. Lack of effects of atomic bomb radiation on genetic instability of tandem-repetitive elements in human germ cells, Am. J. Hum. Genet. 1995;57:1275-83.
7. Dubrova YE et al. Further evidence for elevated human minisatellite mutation rate in Belarus eight years after the Chernobyl accident. Mutat. Res. 1997;381:267-78.
8. Dubrova YE et al. Elevated minisatellite mutation rate in the post-Chernobyl families from Ukraine, Am. J. Hum. Genet. 2002;71:801-9.
9. Dubrova YE et al. Monitoring of radiation-induced germline mutation in humans. Swiss Med. Wkly. 2003;133:474-8.
10. May K. et al. Minisatellite mutation frequency in human sperm following radiotherapy. Mutat. Res. 2000;453:67-5.
11. Rees MZ et al. A pilot study examining germline minisatellite mutations in the offspring of Danish childhood and adolescent cancer survivors treated with radiotherapy. Int. J. Radiat. Biol. 2006;82:153-60.
12. Tawn GS et al. Germline minisatellite mutations in survivors of childhood and young adult cancer treated with radiation. Int. J. Radiat. Biol. 2011;87:330-40.
13. Jargin SV. Some aspects of mutation research after a low-dose radiation exposure. Mutation Research 2012;749:101-2; author reply 103-4.
14. UNSCEAR 2008 Report. Sources and effects of ionizing radiation. Annex D: Health effects due to radiation from the Chernobyl accident. New York: United Nations.
15. Hamatani K et al. RET/PTC rearrangements preferentially occurred in papillary thyroid cancer among atomic bomb survivors exposed to high radiation dose. Cancer Res 2008;68:7176-82.
16. IEA. Energy Balance for World. OECD/IEA 2011.
17. Llewellyn Smith C. and Ward D. The path to fusion power. Philosophical Transactions. Series A, Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences 2007;365:945-956.
18. Richter-Kuhlmann EA. Tschernobyl: Nach 25 Jahren noch ein Thema. Deutsches Ärzteblatt 2011;108:A-871/B-715/C-715.
19. Jargin SV. (2013c). Barriers to the importation of medical products to Russia: in search of solutions. Healthcare in Low-resource Settings 1:e13 http://www.pagepressjournals.org/index.php/hls/article/view/728
20. Jargin SV. (2013d). Some Aspects of Medical Education in Russia. American Journal of Medicine Studies 1(2):4-7. http://pubs.sciepub.com/ajms/1/2/1/
21. Jargin SV. Health care in Iraq: 2013 vs. 2003. CMAJ, published online September 17, 2013 http://www.cmaj.ca/content/181/9/576.full/reply#cmaj_el_716427
Putin’s Russia: militarism and sexism hand in hand
In the year 2008, the difference in life expectancy between men in some West-European countries and Russia was 20 years. Estimates from 2008 on the probability of death before 65 years of age for men are approximately 16% in Western Europe, compared with 31% in Eastern Europe and 54% in Russia . According to a widespread opinion in today’s Russia, visibly prevalent in the ruling spheres, the life of a non-privileged male pensioner is of little value because he does not sit with grandchildren. In a family apartment, a grandmother sitting with children, cooking and making other housework, is generally accepted; but the grandfather, not inclined to do it, is often not. The idea of his redundancy is in the air in some families; is can be spoken out more or less overtly, inducing suicidal thoughts in the old man  and also provoking him to neglect his own health, to smoke and to drink alcohol. Shortage of socially acceptable pastimes for this category of people is also a factor, contributing to alcohol consumption. It should be mentioned in this connection that the topic of elder abuse has been rarely mentioned in Russian literature. The currently prevailing ideology “justifies” an old man from non-privileged classes to live long only if he is a war veteran. This concept is in agreement with the militarist ideology going hand in hand with female sexism, which becomes conspicuous in Russia. Some women were noticed to enjoy discussing wars, mass victims, etc.
Phenomena described in the first paragraph can be encountered in any country; and there are civilized and humane solutions. One of them is as follows: to let old men, having otherwise not much to do, to sit in warm public houses, to drink beer, wine or whatever they want, to talk whatever they want, to play domino etc., and then to sleep at home or in a separate room in a retirement house. Poor conditions and habitually rude attitude of personnel of such homes to the inmates is a separate topic, tackled in . Furthermore, high mortality partly caused by insufficient quality and availability of health care especially for the middle-aged and elderly men has been sweepingly ascribed to alcohol misuse . Certain anti-alcohol measures taken in the former Soviet Union in fact contributed to higher alcohol consumption  and alcohol-related morbidity. The failure of the anti-alcohol campaign launched by Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-88) and a recoil-effect at a required moment were predictable. Drinking workers are easier to manipulate. Therefore, high level of alcohol consumption during the 1990s facilitated economical reforms with privatization of state-owned enterprises, which occurred not always in accordance with the law. Besides, habitual alcohol consumers have been frequent victims of maltreatment and crime aimed at appropriation of their apartments, houses and other property.
Certainly, all necessary measures should be taken to prevent violations of the public order by drunkards; but middle-aged and elderly alcohol consumers are usually peaceful and not prone to rampages, if not unnecessarily provoked. In our time of high labor productivity a few people can provide livelihood for many; at the same time, unemployment tends to increase. Under these circumstances, habitual alcohol users can be seen as voluntary outsiders, abstaining from different kinds of social competition and offering their places in the society to non-drinking fellow-citizens. Therefore it would be correct not to mob them but to give them an opportunity to live the rest of their lives with some dignity and pleasure. The flourishing petrodollar economy of Russia can certainly afford it.
1. Jargin SV. Health care and life expectancy. Public Health 2013;127(2):189-90
2. Jargin SV. Social vulnerability of alcoholics and patients with alcohol-related dementia. Alcohol and Alcoholism 2010;45(3):293-4.
3. Jargin SV. Radiotherapy in Russia: a redundant method. Lancet Oncology 2009;10(1):8-9.
4. Jargin SV. On the causes of alcoholism in the former Soviet Union. Alcohol and Alcoholism 2010;45(1):104-5. http://alcalc.oxfordjournals.org/content/45/1/104.long
In the same way, was even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? (James 2:25)
Putin divorce: “Our marriage is over because we practically don’t see each other.” Good example for the nation and for everybody.
As a whole, lead is more harmful than natural (non-depleted) uranium, which is reflected in the threshold limit values (TLV): the TLV for uranium and its compounds in the air is 0.2 mg/m3, for inorganic lead (fume and dust) - 0.15 mg/m3; for inorganic lead compounds - 0.05 mg/m3, for tetraethyl lead – 0.1 mg/m3 (1). Therefore, replacement of lead by depleted uranium in the munitions must be environmentally beneficial or rather insignificant because both lead and uranium are present in the environment. Small additions would not change the large-scale balance: natural uranium is ubiquitously present in soil at a typical concentration of 3 mg/kg (2).
1. Plunkett ER. Handbook of industrial toxicology. London: Edward Arnold, 1987.
2. Bleise A, Danesi PR, Burkart W. Properties, use and health effects of depleted uranium (DU): a general overview. J Environ Radioact. 2003;64(2-3):93-112.
Replacement of lead by depleted uranium: no reasons for radiophobia.
The concerns around depleted uranium (DU) are less related to its toxic properties as a heavy metal, and more to the emotional impact because of its assumed link with radioactivity (actually weak) engendered by the term “uranium” (1). Contrary to the popular perception, DU is only weakly radioactive; but lead is more toxic and has a much longer biological half-life than uranium (2,3). Lead intoxication can be observed in the wounded, in workers manufacturing the munitions, after exposures from propellant in pistol ranges, etc. (4) Therefore, replacement of lead by DU in the munitions must be beneficial, which is however insignificant because both lead and uranium are normally present in the environment. Although it is not advisable to put pieces of DU into trousers’ pockets and to forget about it, there are no reasons for radiophobia. The attitude to a slight anthropogenic increase of the radiation background must be realistic. It has never been proven that radiation doses, comparable to those from the natural radiation background, are harmful. Today, there are no alternatives to nuclear power: nonrenewable fossil fuels will become more and more expensive, contributing to affluence in the oil-producing countries and poverty in the rest of the world. Worldwide introduction of nuclear energy will become possible only after a concentration of authority by an efficient international executive. Further details are in (5).
1. Wessely S, Hotopf M. Golf War Syndrome. In: Marrs TC, Maynard RL, Sidell FR. (Editors). Chemical warfare agents. Toxicology and treatment. 2nd edition. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 1996; pp. 355-374.
2. Encyclopedia of Toxicology. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998.
3. Briner WE. The evolution of depleted uranium as an environmental risk factor: lessons from other metals. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2006;3(2):129-35. http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/3/2/129/pdf
4. Moore MR. Sources of lead exposure. In: Landsdown R, Yule W (Editors). The lead debate: The environment, toxicology and child health. London & Sidney: Croom Helm Ltd., 1986; pp. 131-192.
5. Jargin SV. Hormesis and radiation safety norms. Human and Experimental Toxicology 2012;31(7):671-5. http://het.sagepub.com/content/31/7/671.abstract
Relationship of the Chinese with their neighbors has remained unchanged since thousands of years. Its basis has been the sincocentric concept: the neighbors should serve the interests of the Celestial Empire. One of the mechanisms thereof has been suppression of the cultural identity of potential adversaries. For that purpose, as it was noticed by Jawaharlal Nehru in the letters to his Daughter, China sent nomads to the West: the Huns, the Mongols and others; it is happening also today, which can be seen by the naked eye. The nomads swept away entire civilizations. This is what they needed: to bereave the neighbors of their identity, to simplify and destroy their cultures. In this connection, it becomes clear why Russians reconstruct old cities and falsify their own architectural heritage (1). It is aimed at our separation from the European civilization and displacement further to the East. The first step from Europe towards Asia was made as a result of the 1917 revolution; the movement in the same direction has been continued until today. The separation from the European civilization transforms Russia into a Chinese satellite, and Russians – into the new Huns. Inefficient social security system with almost inexistent unemployment benefits, in spite of the flourishing petrodollar economy, serves the same purpose: splitting and weakening of the nation. Stigmatization of intelligentsia, using different stigmata (2), is nothing else but sabotage, undermining Russian science, which ceased repelling falsification and plagiarism (2). Medicine does not repel quackery anymore (3). With regard to demography, it should be stressed that human genitals have long since become strategic weapons, while the high birth rate of certain nations and ethnicities is a geopolitical strategy, which, along with the quarrels between Europeans, will bring about the final Untergang des Abendlandes in the near future, if we don’t help ourselves.
1. Jargin SV. Reconstruction should be truthful not kitsch. Architect’s Journal, 11 January, 2007 http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/home/reconstruction-should-be-truthful-not-kitsch/125332.article
2. Jargin SV. Some aspects of medical education in Russia. American Journal of Medicine Studies 2013;1(2):4-7 http://pubs.sciepub.com/ajms/1/2/1/#.UYR-40ebYng
3. Jargin SV. Testing of serum atherogenicity in cell cultures: questionable data published. Ger Med Sci. 2012;10:Doc02. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3278975/
When I was in Kosovo in 1999, everybody waited that Russians will give those S-300 rockets to the Serbs who are our brethren. It was a lot of talk, Igor Ivanov the foreign minister on TV everyday, but no rockets. Today they are going to give it to the Syriac. Pourquoi pas ?
Cats in cages, is it good?
In the late 1990s I travelled to the south of China and saw many times cats in narrow cages in front of restaurants. Hopefully it is prohibited today. Besides, Russian circus clown and animal trainer Yuri Kuklachev ( http://www.kuklachev.ru/eng/yuri/ ) trains cats since 1990. I don't know his training methods but cats do sit in cages for long time, also during transportation. Cats don't like it because they are cleanly; besides, they can get infected by excrements of other cats: http://malaysia.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130314094748AAjzh3Y
82nd anniversary of Mikhail Gorbachev.
Did he plan mortality increase?
It is known that alcohol consumption in the former Soviet Union rapidly increased after the anti-alcohol campaign (1985-88). It means that the economic reforms with privatization of many factories during the 1990s were in a sense accomplished under the “anesthesia” of the people not supposed to participate in it. The fact that the state, at various times, encouraged alcohol sales, is known to the international community. Retrospectively, it becomes clear that the anti-alcohol campaign (1985-88) was just another tool used for the same purpose, with a predictable failure and a recoil effect at the required moment. Drunkenness, truancy, and petty larceny at workplaces were often tolerated by the management at that and earlier time. In a sense, it facilitated the economic reforms. Many workers did not actively oppose privatizations, performed by the former party leaders not always in accordance with the law, because they had not been innocent themselves.
By 1993, the average expectation of life at birth for Russian men was estimated to be 59 years. In 2008, the difference in life expectancy between men in some West European countries and Russia was reported to be 20 years. The Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign and other policies contributed to the mortality increase predominantly among workers. Some people name it genoside; certainly, it is a matter of definition, how to name the policies predictably causing enhanced mortality. Apart from alcohol, limited availability of modern health care is an obvious cause of the low life expectancy in Russia. Early death of pensioners, especially of men, who usually don't sit with grandchildren, is strategically good for the state. Accordingly, middle-aged men are sometimes visibly unwelcome in the state polyclinics.
Jargin S. Some aspects of medical education in the former Soviet Union. Sao Paulo Med J. 2012;130(1):65-6.
There is much resonance around the case Maksim Kuzmin. Being acquainted with the topic, I just would like to comment that most of the research on child abuse has been performed in the USA. The mechanisms of detection, reporting, prevention and handling of child abuse are, to the best of my knowledge, much better developed in the USA than in the former SU. In Russia, many people (neighbors, teachers, family friends etc.) see child abuse but do not report. Some of them think that child abuse is a norm, others mistrust authorities.
Please view this open access article:
Jargin SV. Letter from Russia: child abuse and alcohol misuse in a victim. Alcohol and Alcoholism 2011 Nov-Dec;46(6):734-6.
GĂ©rard Depardieu will be Russian citizen, in spite of the high mortality among habitual alcohol users in Russia:
Mr. Putin would like to be pensioned
Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years of imprisonment on 17 August 2012.
In the case of assault and battery described in , committed in conspiracy by a recidivist together with 2 accomplices, the sentence was 10000 rubles fine (about 300 U.S. dollars) only. Another example of assault and battery in conspiracy, with no sentence at all, is discussed in .
1. Jargin S. A roof: not only an architectural term. Domus News Report of 11 Apr 2010: http://www.domusweb.it/en/news/a-roof-not-only-an-architectural-term/
2. Jargin SV. Scientific misconduct: Examples from the former Soviet Union. Dermatopathology: Practical & Conceptual April - June 2009: http://derm101.com/content.aspx?aid=32782&dpcid=Dpc1502a17s003
Cooperation of corrupt civil servants with the leaders of migrants is disguised by Russian patriotic and racist rhetorics (see the preceding comment), manliness propaganda  etc. Nothing new in the East.
1. Jargin SV. Manliness propaganda and contact lens complications: a view from Russia. BMJ Rapid Response, published on 13 March 2010: http://www.bmj.com/search/jargin%2520manliness
Migrations and violence against house and apartment owners in Russia.
The relatively high level of violent crime in Russia is a known fact, which is partly caused by immigration from Central Asia, Caucasus and other regions. Migrations have been predictably caused by crass inequalities in birth rate between different ethnic groups, which has resulted in unemployment in overpopulated areas. Apart from irresponsibility, geopolitical goals have obviously played their role as a motive for elevated birth rates, in spite of the bleak economical future for the children. Demographic shifts result in misplacement of former inhabitants, having low birth rates, which is sometimes accompanied by economic pressure, threats and violence . Crime is known to occur also against the elderly and socially unprotected people, alcoholics and dementia sufferers, for the purpose of appropriation of their apartments and houses, which is sometimes facilitated by corrupt interactions of civil servants with leaders of migrants. Conditions are similar in some other countries, for example, in South Africa ; where, like in Russia, percentage of cases resulted in conviction among all reported cases is relatively low . In conclusion, more order and lawfulness are needed to protect some house and apartment owners. More details about overpopulation and demographic shifts are in .
1. Jargin S. A roof: not only an architectural term. Domus. Published online 11 Apr 2010: http://www.domusweb.it/en/news/a-roof-not-only-an-architectural-term/
2. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for Southern Africa. South Africa: country profile on drugs and crime. Pretoria, 2002. www.unodc.org/pdf/southafrica/country_profile_southafrica.pdf (accessed 12 June 2012).
3. Jargin SV. Overpopulation and modern ethics. S Afr Med J. 2009;99(8):572 continued in 2010;100(11):694 and 2011;101(8):494. http://www.samj.org.za/index.php/samj/search
The protests in Moscow in December 2011 were obviously fabricated to show an image of democracy; they were inspired among others by the novelist Boris Akunin (Chkhartishvili), who shows in his works mockery and disrespect towards Russian history and well-known persons, disfiguring their names. If the components of the name of his protagonist Erast Petrovich are exchanged, it results in Pet.Erastovich. The author must have noticed it. Therefore, the today's protests bear a germ of their own discrediting. Nothing new in the East. S. Jargin (Moscow)
THe medieval city of Den Bosch in the south of Holland has a river the "Dieze" running right through the city, and Den Bosch is "veined" with little canals, sometimes meandering for more than 100 yards under old medieval houses, those waterways were used for transport, often for the little breweries dotting the city.
Then, in the sixties it was decided that everything would be concreted for roads and parking lots.
But the ordinary people revolted and founded a political party called "Knillis", a medieval hero.
THe eds of it was that all those ancient canals are lovingly restored to their old magnificance, and tens of thousands tourists visit the old city of Den Bosch to view those old canals, and those old houses flanking those waterways have become rather priceless.
So yes, determined people can make a difference.
I believe that le Corbusier, and Gropius are architects who belong to the fascist- communist complex of the 20th century.
I attired in b be committed to Verizon's Palm Pre Added to and can't appear to see any flash videos on the browser. I've tried to download adobe jiffy actor but it won't seem to subside me. Anyone comprehend what to do?
Wooden Architecture of Russian North
Wooden architecture of Russian North is one of the most remarkable forms of traditional Russian architecture. Very impressive are large, two-storied village houses. Most remarkable are the churches, which were built in villages and small towns mainly from wood. Some of them, the so-called churches of tent- or spire-type, resemble stavkirker of Scandinavia. Another type: octagon on a quadrangle, crowned by one, three or five domes, the latter being typical also for stone churches of 15-17th centuries. Another distinctive form, which can be found only in northern Russia, are the cube-type churches: massive quadrangular base with a figured superstructure that can have a gable formed as an upturned heart or alike, also usually crowned by five small-sized domes. It is well known that many churches were destroyed during the Soviet time, also those several centuries old. Besides, a dubious practice of transfer of wooden architecture to open air museums was applied. Authenticity is partly lost in this way, while a new exhibit is constructed from a mixture of old and new wood. Dismantling and transportation of old wooden buildings is inevitably accompanied by destruction of many elements, which are then made anew. The churches were torn out of their natural environment, taken away from local inhabitants. Many wooden churches, supposedly because of esthetic reasons, were stripped of weatherboarding, which accelerated decay. In many cases, iron roofs from the 19th - early 20th century were replaced by wooden shingles. It can make sense only if the roof is cared for, but if it becomes leaky, the interior can be damaged. Destruction of wooden architectural monuments has been continued until today: ancient churches are collapsing and burning down. According to the information from the Onega historical museum (Archangelsk district), majority of wooden churches in Onega valley have been destroyed or burnt down during last decades. Besides, local inhabitants and museum co-workers witness that icons and fragments of the church interior were stolen: there have been no guards, locks were broken open. As almost no icons have remained in the churches, the so-called heaven (painted ceiling) was broken off from many wooden churches. Note that the heaven, apart from aesthetic value, bears a mechanical function of strengthening the tented roof. Besides, if the roof becomes leaky, the heaven protects interior from rain. Questions about causes of conflagrations are answered with the standard "children played with fire" or, for example, "peasants wanted to get free the southern slope of the hill for a potato field" (in the village Ust Kozha, where two wooden churches and a bell tower burnt down in the 1990s). It is not verisimilar though: the cases are known when local inhabitants rescued burning churches from fire. There was a lot of illegal trade with icons and other relics. The thieves could have set fire to the churches to cover up the traces. In Ust Kozha, for example, the edifices stood quite distant from each other, so that spontaneous conflagration of all three appears improbable. Besides, information is being spread among local inhabitants, obviously directed against professional restorers and intelligentsia in general: "Restorers have stolen the icons" or "Students were sent to restore the church but they destroyed more than repaired" etc. The public opinion is prepared in this way to the rebuilding of wooden churches by construction firms without participation of professional restorers, without much care given to authenticity or identity to the original, in order to create â€śbeautifulâ€ť attractions for tourists. Another mechanism leading to appearance of pseudo-traditional buildings: construction of new churches by the Moscow Patriarchy. There are many examples of newly built pseudo-traditional churches, constructed from new or old wood, for example, in the town Kem, from where tourist ships start to the Solovki Island in the White Sea with a monastery previously used as prison. Pseudo-traditional edifices are sometimes hard to distinguish from authentic monuments, for non-specialists in particular. With regard to the open air museum on the Kizhi Island in the lake Onega, where some wooden churches, removed from their original locations, were built anew: the tickets for foreigners are more expensive than for Russian citizens; so that some tourists, having made the whole trip to Petrozavodsk, leave without having seen the museum. All said, there are grounds for optimism. The growing Russian economy enables improving roads and developing infrastructure. We hope that scientifically correct preservation and restoration of the built environment will win through in the near future. Copies can be built in the open-air museums. Note that in England original wooden edifices are preserved from 14th century and even earlier times. More details: http://www.freewebs.com/overpopulation1/
It often seems to me that even the ugliest Victorian pile or the least harmonious Georgian building is less stressful to my brain (and spirit) than almost any very modern building. To be imprisoned in a harsh raw concrete building would be, to me, a more miserable punishment than the same term served in a robustly welcoming Victorian public building - one would crush me while the other would give me something to think about besides my own misery. I would prefer to be left with only the Bible and Shakespeare than 500 of the newest avant-garde novels.
Reconstruction of Moscow: loss of architectural heritage and health hazards
Upturn of economy in Russia has been accompanied by a irresponsible reconstruction of historic centres in Moscow and other cities: many old houses have been demolished or reconstructed beyond recognition; images can be seen at http://www.freewebs.com/overpopulation1/illustrations.htm and in the article: Jargina Z.N., Jargin S.V. Aesthetic assessment of Moscow reconstruction (in Russian with English summary). Architecture and Construction of Moscow 2010, Nr. 6, pp. 22-29; images: http://mos-arch.ru/esteticheskaya-ocenka-rekonstrukcii-moskvy Apart from distortion of our architectural heritage, it was noticed to be associated with allergic reactions in residents: rhinitis, attacks of bronchial asthma, etc. Allergic reactions to some building materials were reported by construction workers in Moscow. Hygienic certification of building materials is a primary control measure against potential health hazards. However, some building materials used in Russia, including those containing asbestos, sometimes do not correspond to their hygienic certificates. A great part of such products are manufactured in Russia or in China, which can be seen by searching in the Internet in Russian language. Asbestos-containing building materials are broadly used: cement asbestos sheets and pipes, corrugated board for roofing named â€śshifferâ€ť, asbestos cloth, millboard, asbestos-containing plaster and coatings. It is often stated that asbestos produced in Russia is of chrysotile type, in a pure form possibly presenting a minor health risk if any; but materials imported from abroad can contain contaminations by hazardous fibre types. Moreover, demolitions of houses and interiors can release both allergens and asbestos fibres from old building materials. Considering the above, the following is recommended. Demolitions, reconstructions and major repairs of buildings in historic centres of Russian cities must be prohibited and only conservation measures taken. Certification of imported asbestos-containing products should include detection of contaminations by potentially hazardous fibres. Measures should be taken against illicit use of uncertified building materials. A concluding point is that pollution abatement is essential for transformation of Moscow in a civilized city. More details: http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/sergei-jargin/5002751.publicprofile S. Jargin (Moscow)
Phenomena described in the article The Vandals in Retreat by Theodore Dalrymple can be seen today in Moscow and other Russian cities, with the difference that our architectural heritage is, relatively, much smaller, and that demolitions and major reconstructions take place in the very historic centres. One example: M.I. Babaninâ€™s apartment house (Klimentovski pereulok 6, Moscow) was constructed in 1912 by the architect Ernst-Richard Niernsee, it is a masterpiece of Moscow Eclecticism combining Classical elements with the aura of the Art Nouveau. The house has been an integral part of the architectural landscape of the historic Zamoskvorechie area. The destiny of this building is characteristic of those lucky remnants of old Moscow that escaped demolition or reconstruction. More and more shops and offices are placed in basements and ground floor apartments, while entrances are sometimes broken through the main brick wall. According to the Law, all non-residential rooms and premises in a house, including basements, are in condominium of all apartment owners. Placement of shops and offices occurs without their knowledge and consent (which is a direct violation of the Paragraph 4 Article 36 of the Housing Code of Russian Federation), and no recompense is paid to them. Big investors purchase one apartment after another and perform â€śEuroremontâ€ť (Russian neologism for major repair supposedly according to European standards, entailing a redesign of the layout). As a result, neighbour apartments, sewerage and other communications are often damaged. Inhabitants are pressed of the house by different means: requirement of extra payments for repair works (although, according to existing rules and regulations, all repair works must be performed free, being included into the monthly maintenance fees), intimidation and assault and battery with participation of paid â€śhooligansâ€ť, obviously employed by security firms. Other mechanisms of barbaric Moscow reconstruction were discussed previously: Jargin S. Moscow reconstruction: some mechanisms. Domus Magazine 2010; 934:125-6. S. Jargin (Moscow)
Typo in sub-title: discovers
Perhaps Mr. Dalrymple and my fellow readers will find some comfort in this delightful bit of trivia:
Apparently Ian Fleming named oo7 lead villain,"Auric Goldfinger" after architect "Ernő Goldfinger".
Apparently Fleming took umbrage at Goldfinger's substantial role in as you say, "mass desecration of Britainâ€™s architectural heritage...".
If Wiki is right, they were also uneasy neighbours - yikes !
God bless Mr. Fleming for the pebble he put in Mr. Goldfinger's shoe and for bringing us that wonderful bit of fiction.
Read all about it by looking up Ernő Goldfinger on Wikipedia. WARNING ! Pictures of his *ahem* "work" are included.
Our friend T.D. on the "triumph" of Gropius 's Modernism in post war Britain. Interesting. Hope you're doing OK this morning!
Is it too much to hope that the hints of sanity appeaering on this front will manifest it in,say, fine arts and elsewhere?
I've sent this fantastic article to an appreciative, refined, elegant grandmother now living in a converted 17th century water mill overlooking River Derwent on 3 sides and surrounded by ancient woodlands - 'near the centre of Newcastle'. Lucky grandmom!!!
Sad and exactly true.
It's deeply ironic that British architecture has transformed English city centres into places that very much resemble their German counterparts, given that the latter had to be reconstructed following the destruction wrought by the Royal Air Force.
The intended demolition of Birmingham's Central Library, however, would only continue the denial of heritage which has proven so devastating. It's a prime example of brutalist architecture and should be preserved as such. What's currently being built as its replacement, the Library of Birmingham next to the Rep Theatre, certainly looks bland and commonplace by comparison.
I think the worst development for cities has been the 'urban planner'. Cities such as Sacramento, where I grew up and still live have wonderful neighborhoods where people clamor to live, and have housing prices to match. These are not neighborhoods of modern homes, with their careful urban planning, but neighborhoods from the 1910s and 20s, primarily. The homes are all different; the lots were bought by homeowners or small builders, and California bungalows, Arts and Crafts, and Art Deco homes built. They have steep pitched roofs, classic architecture, and are packed in together on relatively small, city lots.
Sacramento is still under the sway of the central planners. Near one of the classic old neighborhoods of Curtis Park, the old railyards are being developed. A 'corporate design' firm was hired, and a cookie-cutter development with planned attractions is being built.
Why not duplicate the existing neighborhoods, and sell individual lots to prospective homeowners and builders?
I guess it's just foreign to liberals to let individuals decide for themselves what to build.
Thank you for this elegaic but hopeful article. You've reminded me of the horror I felt on a recent visit to the Natural History Museum in London - its beautiful spaces have been chopped up with makeshift walls, rather like an old townhouse subdivided into bedsits. To add insult, there are little windows that let the visitor glimpse some of the architectural details. But eventually all of this shoddy stuff will be removed.
As always, whether writing about politics or culture, Dr. Dalrymple succinctly hits the nail on the head. Gropius, van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, et al ought have been tried for war crimes against the human spirit.
As a child growing up on Long Island, I spent as much time in NYC as possible. Architecture always fascinated and delighted me, and I had a visceral reaction against the Seagram Building, the UN complex, MoMA and other sterile 'masterpieces' of the International Style. At the same time, the early skyscrapers like the Woolworth and Metropolitan-Life buildings made my spirits soar. It wasn't until I read Tom Wolfe's 'From Bauhaus to Our House' in the mid-70's that I fully and intellectually understood why. Ornamentation is and remains the key to beautiful inspiring architecture. Less IS less.
Like political liberalism, modernism in art, music, literature and architecture is an elitist ethos which has undermined Western culture, eroded its soul. It is instructive that the 'unwashed masses' understand this while their intellectual and cultural betters do not.
We can only thank God the Luftwaffe couldn't reach New York or we might now have to deal with the wholesale urban destruction Dr. Dalrymple describes in Britain.
But alas the developing destroyers are still furiously at work. One has but to look at Victoria Street in London between Westminster Abbey and Cathedral.
You should at least tip your hat to Prince Charles, who did a lot to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
to rehabiliate our cityscape there is a strong case for funds not to be spent restoring old buildings, but to demolish the worst of the new.
and yes, for those who sneer at the americans, its worth remembering that the night-time streets of most american cities are paragons of civilised virtue compared to the mongrel rabble of the old country.
I particularly enjoyed this essay. My great grandfather, Charles Emmett Cassell, was a notable Baltimore at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. His work was, alas, eclipsed by the Sullivan school out of Chicago and so is nowhere as well celebrated as it should be.
I was appointed the Archivist-Historian for The Baltimore Chapter of The American Institute of Architects a number of years ago, and while there, I wrote a series of position papers which I think Dr. Dalrymple might find of interest.
Thank you again for the essay.
Prof. Richard Burnett Carter (Ret.)
Another great thinker
Thanks for celebrating even these tentative steps away from ugliness.
Ah, gaslight. It is making a kind of comeback too, as those bright tungsten filament bulbs are banned by our new government in Brussels and replaced by dim green 'energy' bulbs.
I think Theo that it was a bit more complicated than your version of events (as ever only the loud pedal being used). There was a great deal of change going on in Britain after the war, especially as the sense that we seemed to have lost a great deal, in spite of the victory, began to grow. Planners and local authorities were not immune to the zeitgeist and not all victorian architecture was worth saving, bomb damaged or not - but I agree that some bad mistakes were made in the name of progress. However I don't agree, as you seem to imply, that these were deliberately malevolent acts. You seem to have forgotten that this was still a time when people on the whole trusted authority to act in their best interests amd most councils thought that they were. There was then (still is) a class divide on conservation. In the 50s and 60s I don't think that many working class people were that concerned about saving heritage, they wanted houses (the fact that they were built too cheaply and managed badly does not negate this). In any event the Victorians themselves were enthusiastic modernisers and re-imaginers of history. They were also quite content to demolish the historic if it did not accord with their view of progress.
As for the inevitable rant about alcohol, behaviour and cities. I lived and worked in Birmingham for five years recently and was in the city centre (a retail led regeneration that actually works) frequently at all hours. Yes parts of it are crowded, noisy and, as the evening progresses, increasingly inebriated, but most of it isn't. The centre is also full of decent bars and restaurants, cultural centres like the concert hall and (still) fine victoriana architecture like the Council House and the financial district. Take your American friends there too, Theo.
In any event the reason why so many, primarily northern, cities have strong "party" cultures is because of history, economics and the Thatcher Goverments. By the 1980s most English northern cities were in significant decline. Like the Rust Belt in the USA, the economic activity that had sustained them had largely gone. Tory policy accelerated the decline and it wasn't clear what would replaced heavy engineering, shipbuilding and so on. Cities were turning into doughnuts, decaying centres with increasingly detached suburbs being fed by edge of town retail developments. Around this time the concept of the "evening economy" came along and because there was nothing better on offer, local authorities began to encourage clubs and bars to open up in the centre. Public Health doctors at the time questioned the sense of this, but they didn't have alternatives, no one did. I think now that there is regret that this happened, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. At its worst its piss and vomit and violence and profoundly depressing. Last Halloween I stepped out of the theatre in Newcastle, with three hours of the Royal Shakespeare Company ringing in my ears, into what felt like the biggest street fancy dress party in the world. It isn't always (often isn't) as bad as Theo paints it.
Rome wasn't destroyed in a day either! Great article! I think I'll send it to my Brit ex pat friend, in Tasmania, who's an accomplished astronomer; the fogs were probably just one of many reasons he left Leeds, 40 years ago!
Theodore Dalrymple's writing is amazing, enlightening, even entertaining. What a treasure!