Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Am I paranoid? -- Or does Russia hate ShrinkRap?

ShrinkRap does not have a large readership, and I've done nothing to try to increase it.  Because, although I am happy if people find it worth reading, I really write it mostly for myself -- to help clarify my understanding or to have an outlet when the news prompts an outrage and I want to say:   "Did you read THIS?"

I use a blog service website, which makes ShrinkRap available to search engines;  it also counts the number of page-views each day, lists them by country and other data -- which I occasionally check out of curiosity.   Over the past year or two, it has surprised me that the country with the second highest number of my readers, behind only the US, has been Russia.

Now here's the surprising thing:   I've noticed that, in the past few weeks, since I began writing about Donald Trump's links to Putin and the Russian oligarchs, the number of page-viewers from Russia has suddenly become ZERO.    Now just diminished, but zero.   From one time I checked to the next, it went from Russians comprising maybe 30% of my readers to absolutely none.  And that has persisted now for a couple of weeks.

Do you suppose the Kremlin monitors everything written about Putin and blocks any critical writers from their country's internet?

It reminds me of my previous experience of provoking political revenge -- or maybe it was just a fantasy that I enjoyed.   Way back in the 1970's, you could deduct political contributions from your income tax, just like a charitable donation.   I don't remember when they ended that, but it was still allowed when George McGovern was the Democratic nominee for president.   I made a small contribution to his campaign, which I then, legally, listed as a deduction in that year's income tax calculation.

McGovern lost;  Richard Nixon won.  And that year is the only time I have ever had my income tax audited (they found nothing amiss).  I've always liked to believe that my McGovern contribution landed me on Nixon's infamous "hate list" -- and that he had the IRS audit me in retaliation.     So now, maybe I'm on Putin's hate list. . . .   Or maybe not.


PS:   After I wrote this last night, I read an article in Bloomberg BusinessNews reporting that the Russian duma (parliament) passed a law in July allowing the government "to police Russia's cyberspace and cordon it off from the global net. . . .   [It] allows the state to block sites without seeking a court approval.   Hundreds have been blocked already."

This is ostensibly a security measure to prevent terrorism.   But who thinks it's not also, or primarily, Putin's bid to control dissent?   It now seems plausible that they could have blocked mine.

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