Before Bobby Valentine, there was Vladimir Putin

Back in our college days, my friends and I would frequent one of our glorious university’s computer labs. Since we attended college at around the time that chat rooms were beginning to proliferate, our time was spent talking to people we’d never meet.

Naturally, using the anonymity that the ‘Net grants, we’d play all sorts of pranks on each other. Without going into detail, let’s just say that some of them were epic.

This kind of tomfoolery would extend to acquaintances. We knew these 2 guys and on one occurrence we tried to punk them via chat room. They must have caught on because one of them (the spymaster) sent the other on a mission unworthy of Dzerzhinsky.

The fact that our counterespionage efforts uncovered the plot reveals the efficacy of our nemesis’ total lack of subterfuge. After this incident we glossed this guy, “Beano the Spy”.

It is this lack of subterfuge and underhandedness to which I pay tribute to on this day.

Exhibit A is former New York Mets skipper, Bobby Valentine. Bobby was ejected from a game and then came back to the dugout looking like this,

Exhibit B, I’m afraid, is anachronistic. At the time the following picture was taken, we didn’t know that the spy in question would later become Russia’s President and more importantly, because of his unfortunate last name, the butt of many Mexicans’ jokes,


Source: Pete Souza

Here’s the story behind the picture:

“Undercover Putin In KGB Reagan Ruse”


From Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising,

If there was anything Alekseyev didn’t need now it was a zampolit!

Exactly a week ago, I had one of those days here at the lab. Of course, to me “one of those days” is everyday for a lot of people with high pressure jobs, yet because this is not the norm I’m quite unaccustomed to them.

Going in that morning I knew it was going to be a doozy, given the fact that I had a full day’s worth of work in the pipe, and that’s OK, that’s what I get paid for and honestly, I enjoy the investigative nature of my work.

What, of course, cannot be predicted are the situations that come up, or spring up that distract one from achieving one’s objectives.

For example, as I sat there elbow-deep in the work cited above, the bane of every busy research assistant’s existence needed a few moments of my time: the life science sales rep.

Immediately, my mind went to the sentiment of Clancy’s fictional Soviet general regarding the political officer (KGB) who had interrupted his work. The rep had become my zampolit, a good man with good intentions but choosing the wrong time to offer potentially helpful, though irrelevant to the task at hand, information.

What must go without saying is that even at the height of our diligence, the rules of charity cannot be thrown out the window. So I was polite to the rep’s entreaties (hard not to do since after all, he is a nice guy) yet my preoccupation with leaving work at a decent hour must have been evident on my face, thus he shortened his pitch.

As for a fellow research assistant who (on this fine day) needed help on how to use a new (for her) piece of equipment, being charitable was a bit more difficult.  Given the fact that while asking for instruction, she wanted to be the instructor.  Ironically enough this dear woman hails from the former Soviet Union, might she have received training to be a zampolit?  Perhaps she came from a line of zampolits?