About Taking Aim

Taking Aim was, a long time ago, the weblog of Andy Young. This site is no longer updated, but you are welcome to browse the archives.

Andy now writes for two main sites – Country Digest (a guide to the world) and History of Russia (a guide to Russian history).

Andy used to write the Siberian Light website, which is now archived.

You can also find some great websites in the blogroll, many of which still exist.

Review Me (a paid review)

Review Me logoNew startup, Review Me promise to pay bloggers cold hard cash in return for writing reviews of… well… whatever people will pay them to write reviews of. 

In an attempt to prove their faith in the model, they’ve invested $25,000 in paying bloggers to write reviews of Review Me.  Never one to turn down the opportunity to earn easy money, I’ve signed up for the site, and taken the Review Me shilling.  So, here’s my experience so far.

Heard about the site yesterday and signed up immediately.  The signup process is very simple – just provide a few details about yourself and your blog.  The hardest part was signing up for my first ever paypal account!

Once signed up, they take a quick (presumably automated) look at your site, to check that it’s been around for a while, and that a few other people like it enough to link to.  Then – and here’s the bit I was really waiting for – you get to find out how much they’ll pay you for each review.  The scale runs from $20 for the smallest blogs to $250 for the biggest blogs (although Review Me charge advertisers double that and pocket the substantial amount of change).  Anyway, I think you can guess which end of the price scale this blog comes in at. 

Then, click on the big flashing sign that says $25,000, write a 200 word review of Review Me, sit back and wait for the cash. 

Took me about 15 minutes to write this review of 305 words (on Taking Aim you get 50% extra free!), the largest part of which was taken up with battling with the broken keys on my keyboard.   So, $80 per hour, pro-rata.  Not too shabby.

The only question is – will anyone other than Review Me actually pay for reviews?  Time will tell.

It’s Blog Day on Thursday

From Global Voices Online comes the news that the Blogosphere has its very own day – International Blog Day. 

Clearly I’ve not been paying attention properly, because it’s not only International Blog Day, it’s the second annual International Blog Day.  Anyway, here’s what you have to do if you want to take part:

1. Find 5 new Blogs that you find interesting
2. Notify the 5 bloggers that you are recommending on them on BlogDay 2005
3. Write a short description of the Blogs and place a a link to the recommended Blogs
4. Post the BlogDay Post (on August 31st) and
5. Add the BlogDay tag using this link: http://technorati.com/tag/BlogDay2006 and a link to BlogDay web site at http://www.blogday.org

I’m looking for my five new blogs already.

A system of shifting nuclear alliances

Stanley Kurtz, writing in the National Interest, describes a frightening international system that may emerge in a nuclear Middle East:

With multiple nuclear powers, there will probably be a lot of shifting coalitions. True, the initial alliances are already evident. In a nuclear Middle East, we will be allied with Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia against Iran. But who knows whether Iran may try to strike a deal with one of the other Muslim states at some point, perhaps cozying up to Saudi Arabia if America puts too much pressure on the House of Saud. Just as America (very imperfectly) peeled Pakistan away from the informal rogue-state coalition after 9/11, shifting alliances between multiple nuclear camps will become a real possibility. American power will no longer command a fully nuclearized world. Instead, we’ll be the first among nuclear equals, jockeying for position against coalitions of powers who collectively may be able to stand us down.

I’m not sure I entirely agree with his prescription on how to prevent or react to such a future – he sees a hawkish future for the United States – but it’s certainly a problem that we need to be aware.  If we fail to prevent one country after another from going nuclear, we won’t necessarily be able to rely on the ‘luxury’ of knowing who fired the first shot. 


There are few finer things in life than sitting back of an evening, blogging to a smooth glass of whisky.

(Well, actually, there are many finer things in life.  But they’re not available to me at this precise point in time.  So I’m going to sit back and enjoy the moment).


Today, I sat under a tree in the park to eat my lunch. 

I was busy reading my newspaper when an old man with a white beard walked up to me.  Slightly hunched, he was pushing a granny’s shopping trolley and wearing a purple raincoat. 

“Excuse me,” he said gently.  “You seem to have a bit of tree on your head.”

Upon which, he reached out and plucked a leaf from my hair.


Apologies for the lack of posting of late – a combination of work and house-hunting and just general life stuff have been taking up my time.

And now, even better – just as the weather in Southern England is turning to snow, I’m off to Crete for a week in the sun.

After which I will blog about interesting things, I promise…

Belarus protests broken by riot police

Riot police have stormed the tent village in October Square, Minsk, forcibly removing the protestors.


All over for the Belarus protests? Right now we can only wait and see what happens.  If people turn out in numbers tomorrow, they could still destroy Lukashenko.  But if nobody turns up, then the opposition movement will have to regroup, and learn its lessons for next time.

Defeated opposition Presidential candidate Alexander Milinkevich had called for a major protest in the squre tomorrow (Saturday), which it was hoped would draw in many people who were unwilling to show up to the smaller scale protests on weekday evenings.  Whether people show up in large numbers for this protest, is the key.
Some people suggest that people will be outraged, and show up in large numbers.  I’d like to hope so.  But I’m not confident that they will. We have to assume that most of the leaders, and most dedicated members of the protest movement are now in jail.  And the threat of violence now hangs heavy over the head of anybody undecided as to whether to risk their future livelihood.