Tuesday, May 6, 2014

On May 2nd, 46 people were killed in collision and fire in the Trade Union House, Odessa, and more than 200 sought help in medical institutions.  This could all have been avoided if law enforcement officers were to fulfill their direct duties more efficiently and in a timely manner. 

It all started with the fact that on Friday, after a  football match Odessa vs. Kharkov, Maidan activists  decided to walk around the city center with slogans of the unity of Ukraine. The first fire shot was from the activists themselves.  After a few more shots, they have taken refugee around the Trade Union House, where the attackers started throwing "Molotov cocktails" (petrol bombs).  Euromaidan supporters also thrown these bombs inside the building, which made it catch on fire, with more than 200 people inside. law enforcement is carrying out operational investigations in a number of criminal proceedings.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Сегодня в лингафонном кабинете...

Сегодня среда, тридцатое апреля. Значит, мы в лингафонном кабинете! Привет!

Конец учебного года близок! The end is near! First, TAKE THE QUIZ!

Вы закончили? Хорошо. Начнем урок... Today, I want you to watch the video for this unit, but just the first four minutes! In it, you'll hear как Марк Марковович и Дина Александровна рассказывают о своей жизни в России... Mark Markovich and his wife Dina Aleksandrovna talk about what it was like growing up Jewish in Russia. Very appropriate, as you'll hear how to talk about life experiences and biographies, which is what your final oral examination covers!

There's a handout with questions on it. Read through the questions, ask the tutors or me if you don't understand something, and answer as best you can. Make sure to include this worksheet in your portfolio! Then, за столы! To the tables! There's a brief exercise using через и назад that won't take more than five minutes. The tutors are here today to help you with your final oral presentation. 

And, don't forget tomorrow! I'm sure you've always wondered what authentic Uzkber Wedding Plov tastes like! Here's the recipe I use... Very interesting!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Russia and the United States in the Ukraine

Discrepancies about "who's running the show in the Ukraine"

     Recently there has been a lot of media attention and publication drawn to the activities taking place in the Ukraine, specifically involving both the Russian and the United States government. Each country is pointing the figure at the other and denying any claims that paint a bad picture about themselves. The Russians claim that the United States are running the show, while others claim that Russian has gunmen answering to their commands in the Ukraine. Both of these allegations were denied by all parties accused.
     Despite these claims it has been confirmed that pro-Russian militant have taken over public buildings and placed pro-Russian officials. The United States requested that Moscow facilitate the removal of these pro-Russian Militants and officials, and to reduce their aggressive efforts in the Ukraine. Kiev launched an anti-terror operation to do just this, however, Russia is claiming that the United States is interfering with Russia's "Best Interest".

Who's side of the story will you believe?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Сегодня в лингафонном кабинете...

Сегодня среда, двадцать третьего апреля. Значит, мы в лингафонном кабинете! Привет!

Прочитатйе эту интересную статью о веб-сайте Вконтакте.
In the drawn-out game of will-hewon’t-he, Pavel Durov, the founder of VKontakte.com, Russia’s top social network with over 100 million users, is now out for good from the company with an unceremonial dismissal conveyed via a newswire report.
Вконтакте--это русский Фейсбук!... It's the Russian Facebook... Not good news, at all, if you think personal freedoms are important...

Anyway... on your хендаут you'll find this listening exercise on understand years in "time-when" expressions. Write down the birth years of these famous people... Did you recognize them all?

А теперь... Присаживатйтесь с нами за столы! Come sit with us at the tables... I'll grade your portfolios with you, and you can work с репититорами on aspect choice. Just remember: Aspectual choice in the past means, do you wish to emphasize RESULT (perfective verb!) or PROCESS (imperfective verb!). 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


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.