Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Elementary Russian: Лингафонный кабинет... Распорядок дня! Что будем делать сегодня...Урок 3 Неделя 1 Unit 3 Week 1 Какие языки вы знаете?

Привет! Сегодня в лингафонном кабинете... ОК... Вас нет! Всё в порядке! Это называется УДАЛЁННАЯ РАБОТА... Remote working... working from home, работа на дому... Hope you're enjoying Fall Break! 

А теперь... распорядок дня! Что будем делать? And now, our plans... What are we going to do? 
  1. Распечатайте этот хендаут... Print out this document. Four pages! 
  2. За компьютером... Listen to two разговоры (conversations) and answer questions that you find on the first page of the handout... Listen to each разговор three times! No more, no fewer! Jot down the answers on the хендаут that you printed in #1. Разговор 2Разговор 3 (15 minutes)
  3. Прослушайте и прочитайте про себя Диалог 4. (Listen to & read to yourself Dialog 4.) The dialogue is on the handout, too! Now, draw lines from the English phrases below the dialogue (#4, 5, 7, 8, 9) to the corresponding Russian in the dialogue. Where in the dialogue, for instance, do you learn how to praise someone's language ability? 
  4. Work through the хендаут on verbs that's in the document from #1 above. It's on verbs. Try to conjugate the verb изучать, then write out the answers to Oral Drills 1, 2, and 3. 
So, right? Понятно? You have to listen to a couple разговоры and answer the questions. Then listen to a dialogue and identify the Russian phrases. And, finally, do the verb exercises. Turn this in at the start of class on Tuesday Oct. 13. 

Here's a beautiful, lighthearted song and video by the Russian group ДДТ....

Что такое осень - это небо,
Плачущее небо под ногами.

What's fall? It's a sky,
A weeping sky beneath your feet...


Far above the quagmire of the war on the ground in North Korea, the world’s first jet dogfights took place between American F-86 Sabres and their impressive opponents, Soviet MiG-15s.

Left: F-86 Sabre, Right: MiG-15
Simply called “MiGs”, the aircraft produced by the Mikoyan-Gurevich company were the firm adversaries of Western air forces through the Cold War. The company was founded by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich, and its name shortened to МиГ (M for Mikoyan, и as the Russian word for “and”, and Г for Gurevich). The first airplanes produced by the company had major flaws, but was producing fearsome fighter aircraft by the time of the Korean War. 

The MiG-15 terrorized American B-29s, whose fighter escorts were simply too slow and clumsy to provide defense. Its main feature was its swept wings, which reduced drag and allowed for faster speeds compared to the conventional straight wings of Western fighter planes. On top of this, they were piloted by the Soviet Union’s top pilots from WWII, which had taken place only a few years before. It was not until the F-86 appeared on the scene that the MiG-15 had any real competition. In the end, their battles in the air had very little impact on the war, but they did open the age of the jet fighter.

Russia's Military Industrial Complex Themepark

Image result for Russia's Military industrial complex theme park

In June of 2015 Russian President Vladimir Putin opened up Patriot Park, a theme park described by critics as "Russia's Disneyland" focusing on praising the Russian military and the might/glory of Russia. Within this theme park there is a building literally called the "Military Industrial Complex" and this entire theme park attendees can climb on top of Russian tanks, go through submarines, play with .50 caliber mounted heavy weapons, and even Russian tanks! All of this theme park is military themed and aimed towards improving patriotism and pride within Russia, and this may be seen as a response to criticism from the US in terms of Russia's expansion/operations within the Ukraine and the US's own militaristic patriotism. No matter what, this park doesn't have to worry about being broken into, they are well prepared for thieves, and this park really is fun for the whole family!

Russia’s Stance on the LGBT Community

In two years leading up to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, many antigay laws were put into effect in Russia.

As of March of 2012, there is a “gay propaganda” ban that is placed only on the city of Saint Petersburg.  This makes public demonstrations promoting LGBT illegal because Russia does not want its minors to be influenced by this type of “propaganda”.

In June of 2013, a nationwide ban went into effect on “Propaganda of Nontraditional Sexual Relations,” which banned everyone from giving information to minors regarding LGBT people and banned anyone from being able to say that those in the LGBT community are socially or morally equivalent to heterosexuals.  Later in June of the same year, the “gay propaganda” law of Saint Petersburg became nationwide. 

In July of 2013 a law went into effect that banned foreign, same sex couples from adopting Russian orphans. This law also forbade citizens of nations with marriage equality (whether they are gay or straight), from adopting Russian orphans.

In August of 2013, people were encouraged to report their gay neighbors to the government.  Causing gay people’s homes to be raided and searched for “propaganda.” 

In September of 2013, a new law was drafted giving rights to the government to be able to remove children from their parents only on the basis that the parents are homosexual.

The attitudes towards homosexuals in modern day Russia is reminiscent of the way citizens of the Soviet Union were treated when being suspected of being anti-communist. Especially disturbing is that the government is encouraging its own citizens to turn against each other.


      Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, one of Russia's most renowned and prolific composers, is a name worth remembering. Does the Nutcracker ring a bell? Perhaps Swan Lake brings to mind Tchaikovsky's music and influence? Tchaikovsky's compositions are played around the world to this day, and he remains a favorite among listeners and performers. Let's hear some more information on his background. Tchaikovsky was born in Votinsk in the former Russian Empire in 1840. He was born into a family with a long military background and had six siblings. He and his siblings were all trained in the arts from an early age. He personally began piano lessons at the young age of five. This comes as no surprise because of his incredible legacy he left behind in classical music.
    Most importantly is the music. Tchaikovsky composed in the late romantic era. His music was founded upon rich melodic lines, complex rhythms that included changes in rhythm and meter, as well as playing with harmonics in terms of ,modulation. Tchaikovsky, alike to other Russian greats, has this unique style about him. It first and foremost is Tchaikovsky; a category of his own. But also importantly, his music speaks Russian. It speak of Russian romanticism. It speaks highly of the emotions. This is really what makes Tchaikovsky's music so great; the emotional aspect. Listening to it induces deep yearning within you. It is highly reflective and is an emotional journey. It is so rich in hue, the imagery is vivid. This is certainly what you get when you listen to Romance in F minor. This is a beautiful representation of Tchaikovsky at his best. This piano piece is comprised of two varying sections. Interestingly enough you will hear a familiar section: the A section. This section then goes into a quicker more lively, energetic, passionate B section, only to return to a section like A. But here is the beauty, the return to the A section isn't quite a full return as Tchaikovsky writes this beautiful interplay and works off slight changes in the harmonic and rhythmic structure. It is a fascinating song that ends by another B section, what offers a breath of fresh air, almost a distraction only to be brought back to the same introspective, profoundly deep and immense inward looking passion-inducing Romance in F Minor. May you find solace and comfort while you listen to this beautiful piece. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Soviet-Afghan War

On December 24 1979, Soviet forces entered Afghanistan to help support the pro-Soviet government that took power the year before against insurgent forces (Mujahideen) who received support by Western and Gulf countries. The war lasted about 9 years and was largely considered a failure and in other words, the Soviet Union's Vietnam war. Soviet forces and allies usually controlled the main cities in Afghanistan while the Mujahideen controlled the country side and waged guerrilla warfare during the war. Between 850000 and 1.5 million people perished during the war with 14,453 soviet forces, 18,000 Afghan forces, and around 75,000 to 90,000 mujahideen killed.

The Soviet-Afghan war played a large part on people in the soviet union and many songs were created during and after the war. Here's some songs about the war.

A good movie to watch about вдв(paratroopers) in the Soviet-Afghan war is 'The 9th Company'. I personally watched it about a year ago and really enjoyed the movie. The movie should be on Netflix

Soviet Armored Column in Afghanistan mid 1980s

Glorious comrades pose in front of an Mi-24 'Hind'

An Mi-2 that was downed by local insurgent forces during the Soviet-Afghan War. 

Russian Folk Dances

When Slavic tribes moved into Russia around the 10th century, Russian folk dance became very popular. These dances were and still are a main event at any holiday, celebration or gathering. The dancers wear elaborate costumes, always with the color red incorporated as the Russians associate this color with beauty. Women wear headdresses and elaborately embroidered tops or dresses depending on the region. Men wear similar outfits with high boots. These dances were developed overtime due to the huge populations of non-ethnic Russians contributing to the country's culture.

I have attached a video of a traditional Russian folk dance.


Grigori Rasputin was the famed 'holy man' who gave counsel to the last Czar of Russia. He was also incredibly hard to kill. In an elaborate assassination plot Prince Felix Yusupov and Dmitri Pavlovich laced wine with cyanide. Once Rasputin was drunk with the poisioned wine they shot him at close range, hitting his chest and liver. Rasputin; however, awoke and tried to escape. His escape attempt was discovered and he was shot again and beaten, including getting kicked in the eye. Rasputin, some how still alive was then thrown into the freezing cold, Malaya Nevka river. His body was discovered a few days later. The Soviets came to power soon after his death.

Dr. Amar's talks

I went to both of Dr. Tarik Amar’s talks but particularly enjoyed the one about spy culture resulting from the Cold War, since I’m a big fan of spy movies. It was cool to see how different countries had their own take on the spy genre. For example, Russia’s Seventeen Moments of Spring didn’t have much fighting or physical conflict, instead showing the spy secretly outsmart the enemy in clever ways. It starred an undercover agent in Nazi Germany who’s trying to avoid being discovered. The show was very slow-paced and dramatic. The spy shows in Poland however were more similar to those popular in America. For example the Polish show More Than Life at Stake showed more secret missions with fighting and showed Polish victories. It starred a Soviet secret agent acting as a double agent in occupied Poland. It was very fast-paced and light-hearted with frequent joking.



     Seventeen Moments of Spring                                                                                                           More Than Life at Stake

The Queen of Spades

Alexander Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades" is my one of my favorite Russian works of literature. Its about a Russian/German man that resisted the urge of gambling for his entire life, due to not wanting to lose too much. However, he soon learns of a secret, but sure way to win at gambling and does anything he has to do in order to get that secret. With a few surprises here and there, this short story kept me entertained all the way through, and had an amazing ending. It's also nice that it takes only forty-five minutes or so to read.