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Today we begin a new weekly theme.

stakhanovite - a Soviet worker honored and rewarded for exceptional diligence in increasing production (AHD) from from Alexei G. Stakhanov

I suggest that ithe word in use is not limited to Soviets, and means "an exceptionally hard worker" -- with pejorative overtones of overzealousness. Comment?

The word in use:
quote:
Two business columnists, William Davis and Chris Huhne, are on the way out for no better proffered reason than that they think kindly of joining the euro. The rest is silence - or rather the sound of the Stakhanovite [Daily] Mail transferee Ian MacGregor, barking orders and making waves.
-- Peter Preston, Is the Standard Destined to Flag? in The Observer (Guardian), Sunday March 24, 2002
 
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samizdat –an underground press (AHD). from Russian "self publish"

In computer jargon, the term means "any less-than-official promulgation of textual material, especially rare, obsolete, or never-formally-published computer documentation" (The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing)

quote:
In general, the military has maintained a virtual silence about problems with the new influx of female soldiers, and, in the ranks, negative comments about integration are considered "career killers." Those who don't "get it" talk about it in the barracks and on the Internet, which has become a haven for military samizdat about sex and other dicey matters.
--Stephanie Gutmann, Sex and the Soldier, in The New Republic, February 24, 1997
 
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apparatchik – an unquestioningly loyal subordinate, especially of a political leader or organization (AHD)
1941, originally in writings of Arthur Koestler, from Rus., from apparat "political organization," (ety on line)

The word in use:
quote:
...power in China still rests in the hands of a few octogenarians. So it made sense for them to choose as party General Secretary a man known as "the weather vane." Jiang is the consummate apparatchik, whose rise to nominal power rests almost wholly on his ability to read China's swirling political winds correctly. The 63-year-old former mayor of Shanghai perfectly mirrors the party line of the moment.
-- William R. Doerner, China Rise of a Perfect Apparatchik, in Time Magazine, July 10, 1989
 
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Potemkin village - something that appears elaborate and impressive but in actual fact lacks substance: "the Potemkin village of this country's borrowed prosperity" (Lewis H. Lapham)
After Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin, who had elaborate fake villages constructed for Catherine the Great's tours of the Ukraine and the Crimea. (AHD)
or: an impressive facade or show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition (1937) (M-W)

The term in use:
quote:
The ...collapse of the Russian banking system, when millions lost their savings, ... precipitated a crisis that continues today. Most important, perhaps, the crisis revealed that the vaunted transition from a command economy to a market economy was a mere Potemkin village-an overused but sadly appropriate metaphor for Russia's reforms.
-- Russia's Fragile Union by Matthew Evangelista, in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June, 1999
 
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glasnost - an official policy of the former Soviet government emphasizing candor with regard to discussion of social problems and shortcomings. (AHD) a Soviet policy permitting open discussion of political and social issues and freer dissemination of news and information (M-W) from Rus. "publicity," used in a socio-political sense by Lenin, but popularized in Eng. 1985 by M. Gorbachev (ety on-line)

Although each dictionary cites this word only as a particular Gorbachev policy, I suggest that the word in fact is not limited; it can be used for a like policy elswhere. The word in use:
quote:
PM Goh ushers in e-mail glasnost: Cabinet ministers and senior officials have begun posting their personal e-mail addresses and direct phone numbers on the Internet in a bid to boost transparency and garner public feedback ... The Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong yesterday proved exceptionally efficient, personally replying to an e-mail within two hours of its being sent. ... Senior Minister Lee received two copies of the devastating ILOVEYOU computer virus among his inaugural batch of Internet messages.
- Barry Porter (in Singapore), South China Morning Post, May 13, 2000
 
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gulag – a forced labor camp or prison, especially for political dissidents; or a place or situation of great suffering and hardship, likened to same
GULAG-the Russian acronym for the Main Directorate for Places of Detention
quote:
What distinguished [tennis player John] McEnroe was less what he did than what he seemed capable of doing when he lost his temper. The anger was so black, so intense and so hard to fathom. Where did it come from? Though his parents, particularly his father, certainly leaned on their son to succeed, they were not monsters. They did not exile young John to some tennis gulag or make him hit 5,000 balls a day.
-- Hugo Lindgren, New York Times Book Review
 
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Our weekly theme ends with a familiar word whose hidden story demonstrates the power of the aptly chosen word. AHD gives part of that history, and Asimov gives the final twist (each paraphrased).

bolshevik - An extreme radical: a literary bolshevik

AHD: Bolshevik, an emotionally charged term in English, is from an ordinary Russian word for "bigger, more." The name was given to the majority faction at 1903 congress of Russian communist leaders. The smaller faction was known as Men'sheviki, from "less, smaller." The Bol'sheviki, who sided with Lenin in the split that followed the Congress, subsequently became the Russian Communist Party.

Question: Who gave this group that name?

Asimov: Lenin had a sure touch for propaganda. He in fact rarely won a majority on votes, but when managed to get one at that meeting in Brussels, he immediately labeled his group the Bolsheviks, "the majority." Though his group won few subsequent votes, and was actually a minority, the name "Bolsheviks" stuck, adding to the prestige of Lenin’s followers.
 
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