- Numbers don't lie April 1
Here's another theory to explain Russian President Vladimir Putin's bold gobbling up of Crimea and menacing troop buildup on Ukraine's borders: He's not trying to restore Russia's former czarist (or even Soviet) glory, but rather distracting Russians from their nasty, brutish, and short lives. This theory comes from Maureen Orth, who profiled Putin for Vanity Fair in 2000 and revisited Putin's Russia at the magazine on Monday.
Specifically, Orth talked to demographers to get a sense of the numbers in Russia. "They do not make a pretty picture," she concludes. Read Orth's full post for a damning glimpse at the state of Russia, but here are a few numbers that show why Russians might appreciate a nationalistic conquest to take their minds off of things at home:
64 — life expectancy for Russian men (137th in the world)
76 — life expectancy for Russian women (100th)
30 — percentage of Russian babies who are born healthy
77 — percentage of Russians age 15 to 17 who drink vodka regularly
50 — percentage of Russian water that is safe to drink
It's not at all clear that demographic changes will soon turn Texas blue (or even purple), as Democrats fervently hope, but it seems pretty clear that an aging, sickly, hard-drinking, early-dying Russia will have a hard time regaining its stature as a global economic powerhouse, much less a military superpower. Putin had better make the small victories count.- -
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 10 things you need to know today: October 24, 2014
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- Why is the Pentagon stuffing caves in Norway full of tanks?
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Let us now praise Billy Joel
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- 10 self-sabotaging interview mistakes to avoid
Subscribe to the Week