Leningrad -> 16 years -> StPetersburg

I’m trying to get started on my Logic of Liberty column for the next print SerfCity , due tomorrow , but have gotten somewhat diverted by Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the Travel channel . He’s visiting St. Petersburg , Russia .

Attending one of the very the first international computer language conferences during the fall of the USSR in 1992 held at a nuclear technology training center near the Pioneerskya metro station on the north side of the Neva viscerally affected my view of the criminality of socialism . Andrei Kondrashev , the conference contact in the KGB ( who wrote the first APL for a Russian desktop computer ) commented that it would not have been possible to pull off except for the internet having reached Moscow that year .

The point is , I have never seen anywhere so devastatingly poor . Soviet Marxism had brought the the fabulous capital of Peter the Great to decrepit desolation . Someday I may detail the chapter . It showed there is virtually no level of suffering at which arrogant statist do-gooders , like most dangerously our probable next Secretary of the Interior , Al Gore , will admit error .

What a transformation freedom has wrought in 16 years ! Now there are food markets which make Chelsea Market look boring . There are elegant cafeterias and restaurants with plentiful and interesting food . There are ADVERTISING SIGNS so you can find a restaurant or store or whatever you are looking for . It is clearly a destination commensurable with any other western city .

The transformation , tho perhaps lower key than China’s , is awesome in just 1.6 decades .