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First verbal sparring on

The excellent spring weather – what actually qualifies as summer in London; the next stop is dreary autumn – has seemingly spread across the Channel, and we are finally wearing short sleeves, having dinners on the deck in the garden, and deceiving ourselves with “British climate is not so bad” sentiment.

I am actually spending the best hours of the day in office, since most of my current job has to do with the States, so I am lightly occupied until about 1:30, and then very heavily through the afternoon, eventually peeling myself away from the issue of the day at around seven. Good thing it does not get dark until after nine. On the bright side, my parents are extremely lucky to be able to rediscover London – walking for hours, no less, – in such pristine conditions.

In the meantime, I have reached new heights in my blogging career. What else would you call acquiring a critic who not only looks for opportunities to post corrections to my musings, but explicitly states that he aims to “sway” people who read my blog away from my ostensibly poisonous conclusions.

The blog entries that gave rise to my critic’s ire are some of my older discourses on my expatriate experiences, our first taste of NHS medical service, my reflection on strikes and the introduction of the British TV license. The latter induced a singularly superfluous correction from this new correspondent, while the former led him to questioning my use of vocabulary.

It was on the subject of strikes that we actually had an argument. Although the point of the post in question was hardly how many strikes England has in comparison with the US, I did make enough of a statement that I consider England to be too strike-happy for my taste. My esteemed adversary sought to prove the error of my views by presenting a broad statistic that seemed to show Britain unintuitively the most peaceful of all major industrial nations in terms of average days on strike. When I dismissed the quoted stats as discordant with my personal experiences, quite enjoyable verbal sparring followed.

The email address that this visitor to my blog used was not an actual email, but rather a handle at an internet forum. He – the handle leads me to believe it’s a he (curiously, it’s a Russian noun of male gender) – did not sign with a name. The least I could do was to go and register at the forum, A forum for Americans and Brits, and introduce myself to the community from the point of view of desiring to broaden the reach of my supposedly delusional views. There is nothing quite like a discovery of a virgin territory to spread my gospel…

Oh, wait! I hardly ever do any rants… What gospel?… Getting carried away a bit here…


  1. Jason

    Well, I guess you can’t really consider yourself a true blogger until you’ve picked up a troll, Ilya. I sympathize. I had quite the spat going a couple years ago with some guy who simply couldn’t process the fact that I prefer the original Battlestar Galactica television series to the currently popular remake version. Even after I got tired of the debate and essentially conceded by saying “whatever floats your boat,” he kept needling me about various topics. He finally lost interest and went away after we had a blow-up over a story then circulating about religious pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control pills. Sounds like you’re more amused by your critic, but I found the incident all very upsetting, myself…

  2. Ilya

    I am a competitive guy, Jason, and I am always upset when I can’t win an argument. These, however, weren’t exactly arguments. And sparring with a faceless opponent is not exactly rewarding, for my taste. I’d rather bring some levity into it…

  3. Jason

    I don’t like to lose the argument either, which I think is what was so frustrating about my opponent… he was the sort that simply would not concede anything, even in something so subjective as one’s opinion of a particular TV show. It eventually reached the point where the only way to win, as they say in the movie WarGames, was not to play…

    Sounds like you’ve had a more positive experience, luckily.

  4. Ilya

    Even though I could not locate this person on the forum that he left as his only trail, I don’t expect that I’ve heard the last of him… We’ll see 🙂

  5. vodyanoi

    >Britain unintuitively the most peaceful of all major industrial nations in terms of average days on strike.

    Objection, Your Honor! Nowhere did the Defense claim that! All we claimed was that at present, according to O.E.C.D. statistics, Britain loses fewer days work per year because of industrial action than do the majority of industrialized nations. I beg that the Prosecution’s comment be struck from the record.

    Joking apart, Ilya’s point seems to be: “Britain has more strikes of the kind that annoy me, Ilya, personally.”

    Nothing wrong with that, of course, except that Ilya in his post seemed not to make this clear, but propounded what appeared to be a self-held generalization (i.e., that Britain has a high number of industrial strikes).

    The Financial Times (London) uses the objective, O.E.C.D. analysis rather than Ilya’s. Choose whichever you think bears the best relation to truth.

    I should say that I enjoy Ilya’s blog very much, and that I find his musings informative, interesting, entertaining and much more. If I did not do so, I wouldn’t comment here.

  6. Ilya

    Ah, good to have you back, whoever you are!

    I think I deserve to interpret your point view in the terms that you are objecting to, given how you are focused on distilling my initial discourse into something unobjectively emotional… But we are at a danger of rounding the bushes over and over again, so I will refrain from commenting on this particular matter from now on (reserving the right to pick it up again in a different post – especially when something will seriously annoy me).

    Thank you for kind words. It means a lot.

  7. vodyanoi

    > but explicitly states that he aims to “sway” people who read my blog away from my ostensibly poisonous conclusions.

    The whole purpose of debate, Ilya, is to persuade – “sway” – the audience, by the strength of your argument. One does it by arguing logically and by giving more persuasive evidence.

    I said nothing to suggest that your conclusions were poisonous. They could be better than mine: let our onlookers decide.

  8. Ilya

    You are taking it way too seriously, my friend. If I may be so bold, I would suggest that you look up the definition of the word “irony” 🙂

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