Upcoming Russian Referendum on Changes to the Constitution: Да или Нет

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This is an old Soviet joke, recycled and updated, that is making the rounds in Russia now.

Вопрос на всенародное голосование –

Вы не против изменения Конституции РФ, чтобы Владимир Владимирович Путин остался правителем России на всегда?

Варианты ответов:

1. Нет, не против
2. Да, не против


Question for the popular referendum –

Are you not opposed to changing the Constitution of the Russian Federation so that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin remains the ruler of Russia forever?

Answer Options:

1. No, I am not opposed
2. Yes, I am not opposed


  1. Victor Mair said,

    January 28, 2020 @ 8:26 pm

    From Peter Golden:

    It reminds me of the old joke: an American and a Soviet, in Russia, are arguing over who enjoys the most freedom of expression. The American says: “Watch me. I can stand in front of the US embassy and shout “down with America!” The Soviet replies: “I have exactly the same right.” He then stands in front of the US embassy and shouts “down with America!”

    There were numerous “Radio Armenia” jokes, a sample : Вопрос. "Можно строить коммунизм в Армении?” Долго не отвечают. И потом, “да…можно, но лучше в Грузии.”

    GT via VHM: Question. “Can communism be built in Armenia?” They don’t answer for a long time. And then, “yes … it is possible, but better in Georgia.”

  2. Victor Mair said,

    January 28, 2020 @ 8:53 pm

    More from Peter Golden:

    The numbers of these jokes (анекдоты in Russian) are beyond counting. A great many are politically incorrect, as they make fun of one or another ethnic group of the old USSR. Needless to say, Russians love to tell them.

    One from 1968, just after the suppression of Dubček and the Prague Spring:

    A Czech is fishing and catches a golden fish, which immediately grants him three wishes. With his wife standing by, dreaming of the riches to come, her husband says: “my first wish is for China to invade us.” His wife screams: “are you crazy? Have you lost your mind? Wish for something sensible.” The husband says to the golden fish : “for my second wish…I want China to invade us.” The wife is now beside herself, cursing her husband for being an idiot. She says, “Ok, this is your last wish, don’t waste it!’ He says to the fish, “ For my third wish I want China to invade us again.” The wife is furious. “How can you do this? You have ruined our only chance for a decent life.” The husband responds: “Yes, but for China to get to us, it will have march through Russia, three times.”

    This one I heard in Budapest (the Hungarians are quite clever), but it is about Russia: The chief rabbi of Moscow has died and Brezhnev is looking for a suitable successor. He is presented with three candidates: one is a Party man, but knows nothing about Judaism. The second is knowledgeable about Judaism, but is not a Party man. The third is both a Party man and knowledgeable about Judaism. Brezhnev says, “that’s perfect! I will select him.” But his associates say “no, that’s a bad idea” Brezhenv asks “why?” They answer: “because he’s Jewish”

    There is also a whole series of частушки, a kind of rhyming 4 line songs. The funniest are extremely obscene. Needless to say, they are the ones sung/recited most often.

    I won’t get started on the Chukchi jokes…

  3. Arthur Baker said,

    January 28, 2020 @ 10:08 pm

    I heard this one from a Russian comedian visiting the USA.

    I just can't believe this country. I was in a shop yesterday and they had 38 different flavours of yogurt. Thirty-eight! Why do Americans need so many? In the entire 72-year history of the Soviet Union, we only ever had two flavours of yogurt: yesterday's, and the day before yesterday's.

  4. Phillip Helbig said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 2:50 am

    Apparently a U.S. politician said "I am not opposed to the repeal of the prohibition".

    Then there was Nixon's claim that, during his presidency, the rate of increase of inflation had gone down, marking the only time a President had made use of a third derivative.

  5. Phillip Helbig said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 2:53 am

    Then there is the old joke about a US-American, A Russian, a Chinese, and an Israeli. I had always understood it as being negative towards Israelis, but the link above puts a positive spin on it.

  6. rosie said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 3:50 am

    "the rate of increase of inflation had gone down, marking the only time a President had made use of a third derivative." But there is no mention there of the rate at which it had gone down, which would in any case be only the second derivative of inflation. Calling it a third derivative is, I guess, calling inflation a derivative — but of what? of the log of the price index, perhaps, but this is rather clutching at a straw, seeing as inflation is often quoted and understood on its own without reference to any function of any price index.

  7. Phillip Helbig said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 4:44 am

    0th derivative: price(s)
    1st derivative: inflation
    2nd derivative: rate of increase of inflation
    3rd derivative: change in rate of increase of inflation

    The whole point is that inflation had become thought of as a Ding an sich. Sort of like "second second assistant director". :-|

    Other examples: In primary school, a pupil was convinced that his time of 15.0 seconds was better another's 12.3 seconds because his was 15 seconds flat. He had heard "10 seconds flat" so many times that he thought that "flat" was more important than the actual time.

    Another example: imposter syndrome. So many people had emphasized that it involved that one thinks one is not as good as one's peers that I read where someone counseled "don't get imposter syndrome" after an insuccessful job application. Of course, the whole point of imposter syndrome is that one feels inferior in one's job, but so much discussion about feeling inferior had turned "imposter syndrome" into essentially the opposite of what it means.

    Then I heard someone who had replaced his SUV with a somewhat smaller but still hugely uneconomical car but which used x% less fuel saying that he was conforming to the Kyoto protocol while someone else who had driven a real economy car for years was criticized as not caring for the environment.

    Then there are people who claim that the candidate with the most votes lost the election if he received fewer votes than last time, while someone who received fewer votes but more than last time won.

    Don't mistake the derivative or a difference for the absolute goal. Which reminds me of a joke. A couple retire and a genie appears and says "You've been good people. You each have a wish." The wife says "I've always wanted to go on a round-the-world cruise." Alacazam, they are immediately transported to a luxury suite on a cruise ship. The man says "Sorry, love, but this is the only time I'll ever get a wish granted. I'd like a wife 35 years younger than I am." Presto: the bloke is now 100 years old.

  8. Mark Meckes said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 8:47 am

    To be really precise, inflation is not the first derivative of price, but the logarithmic derivative of price. So the change in rate of increase of inflation would be the second derivative of the logarithmic derivative, hence a complicated expression involving all of the first three derivatives of the price.

  9. Andrew Usher said,

    January 29, 2020 @ 6:39 pm

    That still counts as using the third derivative, I would think. And no one would actually calculate it that way.

    k_over_hbarc at yahoo.com

  10. Easterly said,

    January 31, 2020 @ 4:46 am

    Q: What's the difference between capitalism and communism?

    A: Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Communism is, of course, exactly the opposite.

  11. Ross Bender said,

    January 31, 2020 @ 9:24 pm

    Perhaps Peter Golden can share some Chukchi jokes. There is a novel, Kolymsky Heights, by Lionel Davidson, which features Johnny Porter, a First Nations guy from British Columbia. Long story short, he makes his way via Japan to the Arctic en route to Kolyma where there's a top-secret Russian laboratory. Along the way he discovers he can speak Chukchi, Yakut, Inuit, and everything in between.

    It's a linguistic thriller, and highly recommended.

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