Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yeltsin

I am starting to understand why so many cartoonists feature politics as their go-to source for comedy...
Prominent figures (especially political leaders) find it hard to avoid the public eye, and so the flaws that might have gone unnoticed in the common man quickly become headlines of national scrutiny. Such was the case of Russia’s first freely elected President, Boris Yeltsin.
Former President Bill Clinton (himself no stranger to the spotlight) details an event in which Yeltsin became so intoxicated during a visit to the White House that he stripped down to his underwear, stood by the road and attempted to hail a taxi, all because he wanted a pizza...
Supposedly, just a night later Yeltsin once again slipped past his Russian bodyguards and made his way to the White House basement, where he was mistaken for an intruder.
But Yeltsin is known for more international incidents than those in America. In 1992 the Russian leader, while on a mission to mend the social relations with the post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, drunkenly decided to play musical spoons on Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev’s bald head.
Needless to say, no treaties were negotiated.
Yeltsin kicked off a Swedish conference in 1997 by comparing famous tennis player Bjorn Borg’s face to Swedish meatballs, and subsequently created headlines by announcing his intention to ban the production of all nuclear weapons.
Then, while overseeing the departure of Russian troops from Germany in 1994, Yeltsin apparently found it appropriate to join the performers onstage to dance, sing (questionably), and wave a baton at the band like he knew what he was doing...
We can say what we’d like about our state of presidential affairs, but at least when our President gets onstage to sing, he doesn’t sound like a Wookie.
And we wonder why we don’t hold our leaders to a higher standard…





Propaganda: The Клашников of the 21st Century?


The efficacy of Russian propaganda is clearly evident through creasing of the spine of pretty much any history book which graces the reader with knowledge of the Soviet machine, гулаг, the history of government edited public literature like Правда and the strict censorship of independent news like Новый Мир
Now we fast forward several decades, and the Russian propaganda machine again has once again reared its head, this time its six foot stomach growling with hunger pains at the crisis in Украина. As Russian television continues to blare a loud noise into the hearts and minds of its domestic listeners that there is an unstable situation in Ukraine which needs to be resolved "without the irrational violence of the protesters or involvement of the Western powers," pro-Russian forces continue to exacerbate the problem by instigating violence, leading riots, and oppressing ethnic Ukrainians under the guise of fear of oppression against ethnic Russians. 


“Although there were some attacks against the ethnic Russian community, these were neither systematic nor widespread,” said the report, which was based on two United Nations missions to Ukraine between March 15 and April 2.

“It’s all lies,” said Lilia Shevtsova, an expert on Russian politics at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “The Russia leadership doesn’t care about how it’s being perceived in the outside world, in the world of communication, in the world where we have plurality of information and where information can be confirmed and checked. This is a radical change in attitude toward the West.”

Ms. Shevtsova added: “We can’t trust anything. Even with the Soviet propaganda, when they were talking with the Soviet people, there were some rules. Now, there are no rules at all. You can invent anything.”

Russian news continues to allude to (and occasionally outright allege) the nefarious activities occurring in Ukraine - everything from the presence of Ukrainian gunships mowing down ethnic Russians to full scale military mobilizations in the north. Almost every report manufactured by Russian outlets has been challenged by UN intelligence.  The most recent report refuted by the UN in an official report was a phone call made by President Путин on Tuesday with the German chancellor - Putin stated that Ukraine was on the brink of civil war; a statement later confirmed in a press conference by Дмитрий Медведев. “The only way to preserve Ukraine and calm the situation,” Mr. Medvedev said, requires “recognizing that Russian citizens are the same as Ukrainians and, therefore, can use their own language in everyday life.”

The ultimate goal of the full court press by the Russian media outlets was a paralyses of the Western powers for long enough to solidify their hold on Crimea. 

“It was on one level transparent, embarrassingly transparent,” Mr. Galeotti said. “But I know from my conversations with various people in government, it did create that sort of paralysis, or uncertainty."

He added, “In my estimation, all they needed was a six-hour window and, by that point, they were unassailable.”





Russian iTunes Top 20

            I was browsing my iTunes earlier today and a thought struck me, ‘I wonder what the top hits for Russia are?’ I decided to dig a bit to find out about the popular music in Russia today. I found that on iTunes the most popular song in Russia is ‘West Coat’ by Lana Del Rey, who is an American Artist. This was expected since most of American media is spread all around the world, but what I found strange is how in the top 10 songs on iTunes, only 3 were in English. The other 7 songs were in Russian, which I did listen to and they were pretty good. The number two song is Ангел by Нюша. I decided to compare the iTunes top 10 to the Top 10 tracks in Russian, which shows more English songs than Russian, 6 English and 4 Russian.

Сегодня в лингафонном кабинете...

Oh, that's right... I'm supposed to call it the Language Commons... Пожалуй... языковая община? But the word община has political overtones that Commons doesn't... Anyway. Да, ладно!


Давайте послушаем! Прослушайте этот разговор  и ответьте на вопросы на лаб-хэндауте. Listen & answer these questions on the back of your lab handout... The cardinal points of the compass will be really useful... север (north) юг (south) восток (east) запад (west).





А теперь... Прослушайте второй разговор и ответьте еще раз на вопросы на лаб-хэндауте. Listen to the second conversation & answer these questions on the back of your lab handout...








Наконец... Watch this classic episode of the classic of Чебурашка, the much beloved Soviet cartoon... Чебурашка идет в школу. Cheburashka goes to school! I found one with English subtitles...



ОК! Теперь, присаживайтесь с нами за столы! Come sit with us at the tables and do a little more work... только немножко, обещаю! Just a wafer-thin bit, I promise!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Отпусти и забудь

Most of us have seen the famous song from the movie Frozen called "Let it go". Well, Disney decided they were going to make this movie in 25+ different languages. One of those happened to be Russian!! Anna Burturlina, a modern Jazz singer who resides in Moscow, was recruited to sing the song in Russian. 

Also, Russia beat Disney in the making of Frozen! Russia's famous film "The Snow Queen" was made in 2012, well over a year before Frozen was put into theaters, and by watching this trailer, you can see the many similarities. 

The Narod

The radical Populists, the Narodniki, in the late nineteenth century made an attempt at culturally and nationally redefining the nation.  They called this, “The Going to the People Movement” because they themselves as rebels would go out and seek those living in The Narod (the peasantry) and attempt to bridge that gap that society had created between the educated and the peasants. They set out to penetrate village culture and engage the peasants in order to teach them and maybe educate them. The Populists had good intentions because in their mind they were going to The Narod to help the people. However, the people in the narod did not want their help. All of a sudden their villages are filled with privileged people from the cities and they are trying to change their lifestyles and tell them how to live. Trying to tell them that what they have been doing for centuries is wrong and yet saying that they are only attempting to help. No one wants to be treated like they are beneath someone else and especially not in their own comfort zone. The villages they had once seen as escapes from the gap between them and the people of the cities were now torn down and they feared the bridge just as much as the Tsar. The Tsar did not like the idea of the Populists traveling to the narod because he knew their true intentions were to incite the people of The Narod into a rebellion. The people in the cities did not have enough numbers and they needed more soldiers. A rebellion would not succeed without both the peasant and the working class. It is safe to say the Tsar always gets his way and in the end he ended up arresting all the Populists he could find and it was rather easy as the villagers did not want them in their homes any more than the Tsar did. The Narod was a gap that the workers could not bridge yet and there revolution that they were eager for would have to wait.


Periodic Table Creation

Have you ever wondered who created the Periodic Table of Elements? As it happens to be, that man is a Russian by the name of Dmitri Mendeleev.   Although he is often regarded as the father of the Periodic Table, Mendeleev himself called his table, the Periodic System. He put elements into their correct places in the table. In some cases the relative atomic mass had been wrongly calculated by others. By correcting the relative atomic mass he put the element in the correct place.  At the time, relative atomic masses (then called atomic weights) were laboriously determined using the formula


atomic weight = equivalent weight x valency
The combining weights were generally accurate but sometimes an element was given the wrong valency. Thus beryllium, combining weight 4.6, was given the valency 3 because it was chemically similar to aluminum. This gave an atomic weight of 13.8, placing it between carbon and nitrogen where there was no space. Mendeleev said the valency was 2; the problem was solved - it fitted into the space between lithium and boron.
Mendeleev sometimes decided that atomic weights must be wrong because the elements simply appeared in the wrong place. For example he placed tellurium before iodine although its atomic weight is greater simply because iodine’s properties are so similar to those of fluorine, chlorine and bromine and tellurium’s to those of oxygen, sulfur and selenium rather than the other way round. We now know that it is atomic number, not relative atomic mass that governs an element’s position in the Periodic Table but in most cases the two result in the same order.The greatness of Mendeleev was that not only did he leave spaces for elements that were not yet discovered but he predicted properties of five of these elements and their compounds.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Tread Lightly in the Russian Wilderness



There are twelve animals found in Russia that are considered deadly if campers or hikers are caught unaware.  The brown bear (Mishka) is considered the hero of many children’s books and shows.  It was the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.  Although the brown bear is extremely large, it is also amazingly fast, as it can run up to speeds of 50 km an hour.  The brown bear inhabits almost the entire forest zone.  The Amur Tiger, also known as the Northern tiger, lives in the southeast of Russia on the banks of the Amur and Ussuri rivers.  Its night vision is five times better than man’s. The Grey Wolf  is probably the most common predator in Russia. They live all over the country except in the taiga thickets and on some islands.  The White Polar Bear inhabits the drifting and coastal sea ice where it finds its main prey: ringed seal, bearded seal, walrus and other marine animals. The Wild Boar has excellent eyesight and sticks to watery and marshy terrain in the Amur Region.  The boar’s most formidable weapon is not its impressive weight, although it can easily crush a person to death, but its tusks.  The Common Northern Viper is the snake that killed the legendary Prince Oleg, one of the founders of the Old Rus state.  However, with modern medicine people today can survive its bite. The Karakurt spider is among the 10 most dangerous spiders on Earth and is encountered in Russia’s Astrakhan Region.   During hot summers, it can migrate to more northern areas, such as the Moscow Region. Their favorite habitat is ravine slopes.  The wolverine is a cunning and strong animal, a mix between a bear cub and a dog.  Indigenous people of the Siberian north believe that the wolverine, not the bear, is the master of the taiga.  The ordinary catfish can reach a length of 5 meters (16 feet) and a weight of 360 kilograms (793 lbs).   Large catfish are very smart and have learned to hunt animals of any size that get into the water, even dogs. Several attacks by giant catfish on humans have been recorded.  The other two animals that are nuisances and can spread disease are the tick and the mosquito.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Crimea labeled as Russia in Google Maps Russia.

Though still debated and in the international spotlight, Google Maps has mad the leap to go ahead and label Crimea as apart of the Russian Federation. However, this will only work if you are using Google Maps in Russia. For the rest of the world, including Ukraine's Google maps, it still remains labeled as the Ukraine. “The Google Maps team is doing its best to objectively mark disputed regions and landmarks. In relevant cases the borders of disputed areas are marked in a special way. In countries where we have a localized version of our service, we follow local laws on representing borders and use of landmark names,” Svetlana Anurova of Google Russia stated. This is apparently how Google handles all disputed landmarks, including South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These two states are still apart of Georgia according to most Western countries, while Moscow and other nations view them as independent. 

Sources:
http://rt.com/news/google-maps-crimea-russian-924/



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Сегодня в лингафонном кабинете...

Доброе утро! Сегодня 9-ое апреля. Среда. Значит, мы в лингафонном кабинете!

We did this exercise last week... But I think it was very difficult for many of you, and that it deserves a little more time... Redo this exercise and prepare it for inclusion in your Portfolio next week. If you need help, ask me or one of the tutors! Answer as best you can the questions based on these Давайте послушаем recordings:

Реклама 1
Реклама 2
Реклама 3.

Be sure to read the questions first. Then, listen to the recordings no fewer than two times. Remember: The point isn't to get them all right (that would be nice....), but to listen carefully and analytically for what you can understand. 


And, take another few minutes and watch the Power Point on verbal aspect. Download it here and watch it before you come to the tables.