I thought this would be fun to watch.. Cinderella as a Russian!
Friday, October 31, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Let's say your balcony is looking a little bit on the worn-down side. Do you call in someone in fix it up? Hell no. You climb out onto your balcony and fix it yourself.
I think we can all learn a thing or two about resourcefulness and reckless disregard for one's own life from the Russians.
Since the Russian Federation’s emergence in 1991, its laws governing free speech and the right to association have been studied and scrutinized by the outside world, most notably by the United States. The state of civil society in Russia during the political upheavals of the early 1990s, as well as throughout the last decade of relative transitional stability, has been a source of optimism, concern, and speculation: Would the “New Russia” promote a free exchange of ideas and tolerate dissent? The answer, after the new non-governmental organization (NGO) legislation passed this year, unfortunately appears to be a resounding no.
On January 10, 2006, the Russian Federation passed a law addressing the situation of NGOs in Russia. This law, officially entitled “On Introducing Amendments into Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation,”2 came into effect on April 15, 2006. In common parlance, its vague title has been replaced by “Russian NGO Law” to reflect the actual target of the legislation, namely nongovernmental organizations. The full consequences of this law are not yet known, because no prosecution has been brought to date; it remains to be seen, therefore, how this law will be applied and how courts will interpret its provisions.
The language of the law, however, significantly expands government control over NGOs and considerably restricts the right to association and the right to privacy of NGOs and NGO members. The Council of Europe reviewed a draft of the law and declared many of the provisions problematic.3 The Russian Government then revised its law, incorporating several recommendations made by the Council.4 Many restrictive provisions remained, however. The Russian Government also added new amendments in the final version limiting the rights of foreign NGOs and NGO members that were not in the original draft evaluated by the Council of Europe.5 These amendments potentially violate international and national law. This analysis will review the NGO Law6 and then address the possible breaches of the legislation, law by law, article by article.
Provisions of the Russian NGO Law
The Russian NGO Law has introduced new documentation requirements for NGOs. In order to register under the new law, organizations must fill out roughly 100 pages of documents, listing detailed personal information about each founder and each member.7 If any of the founders are deceased, the organization must provide death certificates. These new requirements create an excessive burden on NGOs, and any mistake in the paperwork can be grounds for denial of registration, essentially providing the government with another excuse to dissolve – or refuse to recognize legally – organizations.
A letter condemning the new legislation from Amnesty International commented: “The experience to date has been that the law is unduly burdensome, diverting resources from substantive programs, while using a regulatory framework that can be arbitrarily applied, has key provisions which lack a precise legal definition, and sanctions that are disproportionate.”8 As of June 29, 2006, forty foreign NGOs had applied for official registration under the new law – and not a single one was successful.9 All received notification that they did not comply with the documentation requirements and must resubmit their applications. The fact that all forty were denied registration indicates how complicated the new requirements are and confirms NGOs’ fears that this law can be used to harass NGOs, creating unnecessary work for them and excuses for the government to deny organizations registration.
Additionally, NGOs must complete annual reports, listing all foreign donations received and the ways in which those funds were used. This documentation requirement essentially outlaws anonymous donations. It also complicates large-scale public fundraising; NGOs do not have the necessary personal information about each small donor, who, for example, puts ten dollars in a collection bucket at a rally. These requirements are especially problematic for NGOs involved with human rights, because these organizations receive most of their financial support from foreign sources.17
The Russian NGO Law limits who may found, participate, or join an NGO to individuals domiciled in Russia, thus denying foreign nationals or stateless persons full freedom of association. Additionally, the NGO Law forbids certain others from becoming NGO members, including “undesirable” foreigners, individuals on a money-laundering and anti-terrorist financing watch list, individuals found by the court to have participated in extremist activity, individuals currently imprisoned, and members of organizations that have been suspended under the Law Countering Extremist Activity. The NGO Law does not define “undesirable” or “extremist,” and the money-laundering and anti-terrorist financing watch list is a non-published private government document. In other words, without knowing the definition of the government’s terms or who is on the government’s watch list, NGOs cannot protect themselves from accidentally accepting “illegal” members and thus facing dissolution.
The NGO Law expands the government’s powers to supervise and thereby control NGO activity. It gives the government the authority to review an NGO’s private documents, including those related to financial and policy decisions, as well the ability to send a government representative to any NGO meeting, including private strategic and financial meetings. These provisions, if exercised broadly, would drastically limit the ability of NGOs to function as independent organizations. If an organization is in constant fear that its documents will be requested or its meetings observed, it can neither operate efficiently nor remain uninfluenced by the political leanings of the government.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Russia will take a double hit from the global financial crisis because it is not isolated from the world and lacks domestic economic stability, a senior U.S. diplomat said.
Russia is seeing "the worst of both worlds," David Merkel, deputy assistant secretary of state for Russia, said in an interview Friday.
Reiterating the harsh rhetoric that the U.S. administration has adopted since Russia invaded Georgia in August, Merkel blamed the Russian government for the domestic stock market's disastrous performance and a jump in capital flight in the early days of the crisis.
Among the government's mistakes, he said, was the "talking down of certain companies." In July, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attacked mining company Mechel, causing its shares to drop.
"There was already a downturn when the global downturn began," Merkel said.
There are two new translations of "War and Peace" on the market.
"War and Peace" has survived all cultural climate changes and continues to find readers—there are at least four different translations currently in print. The irony is that it does this almost in spite of its translators. The best-known was done by Constance Garnett in 1904. Garnett was a woman in a hurry—she translated some 70 Russian books into English—but what she gained in speed, she lost in subtlety. Her version of "War and Peace" isn't bad, but it's not exactly Tolstoy either. It has a sort of one–size-fits-all quality. (Joseph Brodsky, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian poet, said that English-speaking readers couldn't tell the difference between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky because they'd hadn't been reading their prose, they'd been reading Garnett's.) Only two years ago, a new translation appeared by an Englishman, Anthony Briggs. This version is brisk and efficient—two words no one ever applied to Tolstoy—but the characters, particularly the servants and soldiers from the ranks, talk as if they'd just wandered in from a Dickens novel.
Good translation is something like what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about obscenity: he couldn't define it, but he knew it when he saw it. When you read T. E. Lawrence's translation of the Odyssey or even the fragment of the Aeneid that Seamus Heaney has produced, you see, as if for the first time, the potency of these works. But if agreeing on the criteria for a great translation has proved impossible, that has never stopped people from debating what constitutes a good one, or about whether it is an art or a craft, or about the possibility—or impossibility—of ever truly rendering one language's reality into another tongue. In any case, it is hard not to feel sympathy for Tolstoy's translators, even the bad ones. They have their work cut out for them.
Pevear points out that Tolstoy constantly uses words and phrases in odd combinations, such as when he describes the "transparent" sound of horses' hooves on a wooden bridge or when he writes that "drops dripped" from the leaves of trees. The temptation is always, when translating, to make things make sense, to smooth things out. But then it isn't Tolstoy. There were as well all the "hunting terms, terms for the specific colors of horses' coats, for the shapes of dogs' paws, for the gait of a wolf being pursued. Russian has its own rich and inventive vocabulary for these things, for which there are often no equivalents in English," Pevear says. Then there was the question of how to handle the slang of soldiers and peasants. "Replacing them with standard Cockney or redneck jargon, as has been done, is a great mistake," he says, "because those 'languages' bring their own worlds with them."
If Pevear and Volokhonsky have an edge as translators, it is that they don't just respect the original but trust it completely. "I said to Richard," Volokhonsky says, " 'Let's translate "War and Peace." We'll be in good hands'." As a result, all the modernity of the book—and it does seem the most modern of almost any classic novel from the 19th century—comes from Tolstoy's outlook on life, not from the language of this translation, which remains blessedly free of any contemporary lingo. "Our reasons for making a new translation have nothing to do with keeping up with the supposed changes in modern English," Pevear says. "Quite the opposite. We go back into Tolstoy's prose as a specific artistic medium; we try to pay the closest attention to his way of using Russian; we want our English version to be more Tolstoyan, not more contemporary. Tolstoy is modern enough as it is. We want, as far as possible, to do in English what he does in Russian."
air enough, but Tolstoy has been moving English readers for more than a century, and the translations haven't seemed to matter. Pierre is still Pierre, his belly spilling out of his waistcoat. Andrei is still lying wounded on the battlefield at Austerlitz, staring at the sky as if for the first time. Isn't the story what's most important, and not the particulars of its translation? Pevear will have none of that: "You could tell people what is portrayed in Rembrandt's 'Return of the Prodigal Son' and move them deeply. But the telling would have little to do with the experience of looking at the unique disposition of color, light, space, scale, line, texture, brushwork in Rembrandt's painting, which also happens to depict the return of the prodigal son. It is the same with a work in words. Words have color, shade, tone, texture, rhythm, pacing, disposition, structure; they can quote, echo, parody other words; they can be unexpected, infinitely suggestive, mercurial; they can also beat and repeat like a drum. That is the nature of Tolstoy's artistic medium; his 'story' comes clothed in all these elements of style as he alone used them, and which alone create the impression he wanted to make. Of course he used them 'instinctively,' and not for the sake of effect (though he was a far more conscious and even experimental stylist than is sometimes thought). The translator, on the other hand, has to do consciously what the author did instinctively. And yet it must seem instinctive—that's the final test." To anyone who attempts this latest translation, it will be clear quite quickly that Pevear and Volokhonsky aced that exam.
1 ea onion, chopped.
2 tb butter.
1 ea garlic clove, crushed (optional).
3/4 c uncooked raw rice.
200 g ground beef or veal.
200 g ground pork.
1 ts salt.
1/4 ts pepper.
1 ea whole head cabbage.
2 c beef broth or stock.
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup.
Stew chopped onion and garlic in butter in a large skillet for 3-5 mins. Add rice, meat, salt, and pepper. Stir just to mix well. Remove from heat. Remove core from cabbage. Place whole head in a large kettle filled with boiling water. Cover and cook for 3 mins. Remove softened outer leaves. Take out all large leaves Cut thick center stem from each leaf.Take one large cabbage leaf at a time,put 1 rounded tablespoonful of meat mixture in center of a leaf. Roll leaves. Put stuffed cabbage leaves with seam down close to each other on a frying pan. Do not make more than 2 layers. Combine beef broth and mushroom soup; Pour over cabbage rolls. Bake in a well heated oven for 1 1/2 hours.
Although the security police was always a government rather than a party institution, the party considered this agency to be its own vital arm and sought to maintain the closest supervision and control over its activities. The KGB was nominally subordinate to the Council of Ministers. But the CPSU, not the government, exercised control and direction. Aside from the Politburo, which probably issued general policy directives, another vehicle for such party control was, according to Western specialists, the State and Legal Department of the Central Committee Secretariat. This department supervised all government agencies concerned with legal affairs, security, and defense, including the Ministry of Defense. It implemented party control by approving personnel appointments and exercising general oversight to ensure that these agencies were following party directives. From 1968 to 1988, the chief of this department, which probably had a staff of fifty to sixty employees, was Nikolai Savinkin. From the available evidence, it appears that the department did not involve itself as deeply in KGB affairs as it did in the activities of other state agencies, such as the MVD. Given the sensitive nature of KGB functions, the party leadership may have been reluctant to allocate to the State and Legal Department the most important decisions about KGB personnel and policy. Rather, the Central Committee secretaries charged with oversight responsibilities for the State and Legal Department probably made the key decisions. Such a portfolio was an important source of political power for a Central Committee secretary and was therefore a highly coveted responsibility. In January 1987, Anatolii Lukianov was brought into the Secretariat to supervise the State and Legal Department. He was, however, only a junior secretary, so Gorbachev or another senior secretary may have had the ultimate responsibility. Lukianov, an apparent ally of Gorbachev, had attended Moscow University's Law Faculty when Gorbachev was there in the early 1950s.
Some linguists divide Russian dialects into two groups: Northern and Southern regional dialects, with Moscow lying in the transition zone between the two. Others divide it into three sections, Northern, Southern and Central regions, with Moscow lying in the Central region. There are also dozens of smaller variants through out the country.
The dialects differ in their pronunciation, intonation, vocabulary and grammar.
Lomonosov was one of the first people to study Russian dialects in the 18th century and Vlamdimir Dal followed int he 19th century and also compiled a dictionary that included dialectal vocabulary, which was the first of its kind.
Examples of dialectal differences:
- In Northern Russian the unstressed /o/ is pronounced very clearly.
- East of Moscow the unstressed /e/ and /a/ following palatalized consonants and preceding a stressed syllable are not reduced to /i/ like the Moscow dialect
- Many southern dialects palatalize word final /t/s
To listen to samples of different dialects spoken by Russians click here
My favorite music is punk so I went on a quest to find Russian punk of any kind. After a Google search I came up with the band Гражданская Оборона. Translated as "Civil Defense" this band was started in 1984, being one of the earliest and most popular Russian punk bands. They separated the rock from the punk, spawning several other Soviet and Russian punk bands with their success. Civil Defense's leader, Egor Letov, was considered a anti-soviet and presented his dislike of soviet imperialism, militarism, and the war in Afghanistan in his thoughtful lyrics. They were heavily censored because of these lyrics, and were forced to record in hiding. Civil Defense's sound is electric or acoustic guitar, little percussion, and Letov's strangely deep voice. It wasn't my favorite but you can check out their music here: http://www.myspace.com/grobmusic.
I also checked out another Russian punk band called Король и Шут, "King and Jester." They were made in 1988 and are themed with Slavic mythology. Sounding more on the rock side of punk rock, they sounded a little more modern than Civil defense, but I was still looking for something more. You can check out their music here: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=121988146
I then found the Russian ska band Leningrad. They were made in the 90's and were known for their vulgar lyrics. For this reason the Russian radio stations were hesitant to air them. Front man Sergey "Shnur" Shnurov, said of the band, "Our songs are just about the good sides of life, vodka and girls that is." Despite censoring, they were able to gain much popularity and fame in Russia. One of their songs appears in Grand Theft Auto 4 in a mock Russian-themed radio station. I liked this band a lot even with a language barrier. If you like ska you would probably like this band. You can see their music here: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=30978500
Overall I was satisfied with the Russian punk scene and I hope to find some more bands out there.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
As a member of an incredibly rich and prominent family, Mussorgsky was chosen to continue his family's tradition in the military. However, music was always important to him, and his encounters with several geniuses, including Borodin, helped push him towards his unique composing identity. As a member of the famous five Russian composers of his time, dedicated to breaking with the established tradition of mainland Europe, Mussorgsky's works reached a wide audience. He was, however, considered a 'radical' for his favorable view of the weak and poor, and his numerous works clashing with the establishment and militaristic power.
Plenty can be said about Mussorgsky, but so much can be learned through his beautiful works. Originally written as a piano suite, Pictures at an Exhibition as been rearranged and performed countless times and has become one of Mussorgsky's most famous works. It's certainly my favorite, and one of my favorite classical works ever (first part of several) -
Mussorgsky's only finished opera, Boris Gudonov, is often considered his best work. A rejection of the mainstays and conventions of German and Italian opera, Gudonov was not without its critics - many mainstream composers (including Tchaikovsky) derided it, and conservative commentators and friends of the Russian court were very vocal about their distrust of the composer and his aims.
One of the greats, definitely!
So, everyone's posting American things in Russian. Here's a Russian cartoon I found on youtube with English subtitles. Sherlocke Homes and Dr. Watson. It's very.... ummm... weird.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Just listen for yourself: the man singing sound like he's trying to call Satan from the threshold of hell.
However, he doesn't actually start until 25 seconds in, so until then you get to see varying pictures of Russian saints, churches, and other religious things.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Russians like authentic beverages, like vodka or mors (a berry drink). Also, coffee and tea (with sugar and lemon) are popular.
Beverages:Kvas – the bread based sweet beverage. The most popular original beverage in Russia. Medovuha – the honey based sweet alcohol beverageKompot - boiled water with fruits and sugar, served coldProstokvasha – the milk based acid beverage, served coldSamogon – home made vodka, with the strong smellVodka – most popular Russian brandBeer – Russian beer in general a bit acid
Beverage Recipes:Abbreviations: ea - Each, tb - Table spoon, sm - Small, c - Cup, ts - Tea spoon, lg - Large. Recipes coutesy of RusCuisine.Com
Rye Kvas Ingredients : 1 cup boiling water , 1 cup rye flour, 1 tsp sugar ,1/4 cup lukewarm water , 1 pkg dry granular yeast (7g), 4 quarts boiled water,cooled to lukewarm. Method: Pour boiling water over the flour and stir briskly until smooth. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm water, sprinkle the yeast over it, and let stand for 10 minutes. Combine the cooled batter, cover and let it rise until light and double in bulk. Stir in 4 quarts of boiled water, cooled to lukewarm. Cover and let it stand in a warm place for 3-4 days. When liquid is clear and tastes mildly sour, pour it off carefully with disturbing the sediment. Cover and keep in the refrigerator.
Kvas recipe Ingredients : boiled water - 4 l., yeast - 20-25 gr., sugar - 500 gr., rye bread - for 800 gr. crackers , mint - 25 gr., raisin - 50 gr. Method: Prepare 9-10 bottles for Kvas, they must be very clean. If you don't want so much this beverage, reduce the number of ingredients. Cut rye bread into thin pieces and put it in the oven until they get brown. Put 800 gr. crackers into a pan or a small barrel, then pour 4 l hot boiled water. Leave this extract for 4 hours. Then filter it and add yeast, sugar (put sugar on your taste, if it is not enough, you can always add some sugar before drinking) and mint. Cover the pan with napkin and leave for fermentation during 5-6 hours. When Kvas begins to foam, filter it again and then pour it in the bottles (put on the bottom of bottles some raisins) and cork up very very good. After that fasten the corks with a rope. Put the bottles in a cool place and lay them aflat. Kvas will be ready in 2-3 days.
Sbitten recipe Ingredients : 500 g honey , 700 g treacle , 10 g spices (cinnamon, cloves, hops, mint) , 6 l water .Method: Boil water and add all ingredients and boil for 30 minutes. Sbitten is served hot with cakes and biscuits
Ps. In honor of my stereotypical knowledge... ;-)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The two things I remember most from the trip: food and our Russian guides.
Russian food may be the richest food I've ever tasted. There are four accepted tastes; sour, sweet, bitter, and salty. However, there is another that Japanese scientists are attempting to add umani. The closest English equivalent is savory, and imagine that the researchers must have been eating borsch or pirogies when they thought of this sense. I could bowls and bowls of borsch. Great competitive eating idea: borsch slurping. It may be the greatest concoction ever. I would go to Russia for no other reason than the borsch.
Our tour guides were ... complex individuals. Their moods could range from placid to enrage with a chance encounter. As we traversed down Nevskii prospyect, our tour guide was genially explaining the architecture of the main shopping mall in St. Petersburg. Soon, he spotted a somewhat disheveled looking guy, sprinted across the street, and left as bewildered and in my case, very much amused as he berated and pushed the bum. Many of the other students were worried and implored our Russian teacher to make him stop. I grabbed some donuts and threw in my own commentary, hoping to spark some more hostilities.
I have a cousin who lives in Paris and is a professor of geology at the University of Paris. Whenever we see him, he tells his infamous story about how he won his best geology specimen of a drunk Russian. Apparently, Russians not only use rubles for currency, but also minerals because as I was sitting outside of the church of blood and tears, a mineral peddling ... peddler tried to pawn some geodes and quartz off on me. I made sure not to say I was American, (at the market, we found at that saying you were American would jack up the price of anything) and we proceeded in a little parade around the street. As he followed my every cut, dart, and evasion tactic, I finally decided to confront him. Mistake number one. He told me about how awesome his minerals were. As I stood there in a mixture of disdain and infuriation, I told him how I hated rocks and essentially went on a tirade about why rocks suck. Mistake number two. Apparently this man loved his rocks, or his sloshed brain was convinced that he loved rocks. Nonetheless, I ended up buying a whole slew of rocks. I keep them as a reminder to never ever mess with a Russian and his rocks.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
I was perusing the Russia Today website and I found this article about how a top arms manufacturer in Russia, Bazalt, planned to combat pirating on the high seas by attaching "multi-barrel grenade launching systems" to ships. This move naturally would involve passing strict regulations and laws; still, it sounds like a pretty intense solution. Apparently pirating is a major problem, especially off the African coastline. I wonder if the cannons are for sale to all ships, or only Russian merchants.
On a completely unrelated note, I also found a few articles profiling homelessness in Russia. There are over 4.5 million people living without a home in Russia, with 70,000 alone living on the streets of Moscow.
Moscow offers eight shelters for the homeless; residents can stay for up to a year receiving needed psychological support and basic amenities. However, since these shelters house only up to 170 people each, the need far exceeds the service. Charities such as Aid To the Homeless, an organization that distributes bandages and supplies, and Way Home, which offers more rehabilitative programs like work programs and football leagues, strive to fill that gap. They serve a very diverse population, too. Chronically homeless people in Moscow cover a wide range of ages and experiences--unemployment, free choice, family strife, etc--and battle addiction, psychological problems, and depression.
It was interesting to me to realize that a large city on the other side of the world was dealing with the same issues as we are in Deland. People are basically the same everywhere, and have the same basic needs, regardless of culture. It was heartening to read how they are working for equality. And with a little more finesse than grenade launchers :-)
While looking for books for my first honors paper last week, I found this book “Psychiatric Terror – How Soviet Psychiatry Is Used to Suppress Dissent”. Exciting! As you may have guessed, this tome is about how the Soviet government has misused psychiatrists and mental hospitals to suppress political dissent. In my opinion, with which the book agrees, psychiatry is in many ways the most dangerous field of medicine. One pill can change the chemical make up of your brain and thus your entire personality; the potential to misuse this power is profound.
The book begins by defining the parameters of psychiatry – or rather – pointing out that the parameters of psychiatry are rather ill defined. Furthermore, the very definition of mental illness has changed over time and there is still no general consensus on it. For example, homosexuality was in the handbook of mental illnesses until the 1970’s. And there are some professionals who declare it was only stricken because of political pressure. See how impossible it is to come to any sort of consensus? Anyway, how does this apply to Russia?
While the book explains that there has been widespread misuse of mental diagnostics, no where else has it been a systematic government policy to use psychiatry to suppress political dissent. Basically, whatever other regimes can do, Russia can do better. “With the development of various modes of dissent by Soviet citizens in the 1960s, reports began to emerge that substantial numbers of human-rights activists, nationalists, religious believers, and would-be emigrants, almost all mentally healthy in the eyes of their families and friends, were being declared insane by the psychiatrists and thereupon confined compulsorily for indeterminate periods to psychiatric hospitals.”
It has struck me how similar Russia’s methods are to Spain’s during the Inquisition. In Russia political dissidents were declared insane, and in Spain they were declared heretics. It seems that even as we learn history to avoid repeating it, history finds new and interesting ways to repeat itself. So, how did all this get started?
It would seem apparent that our collective idea of mental illness is influenced by the cultural norms of our society. In Russia, these cultural norms were dictated by two primary sources – the Church and the government. In fact, monasteries were the original haven for the insane in Russia. Later, a ruling by Peter the Great transferred this responsibility to psychiatric institutions. At least, that was the theory. He didn’t actually develop any mental hospitals during his reign, but I guess he got the ball rolling.
Eventually Russia took its health services up a few notches, and everything was going dandy. Then things got really interesting when some administrative reform created local government councils. These councils were responsible for overseeing health services. Put the government in charge of who they call crazy? Can you even imagine if we gave that power to the democrats and the republicans? I think Sarah Palin is a real sweetheart, but if Obama wins, her ass will be locked up for sure.
Anyway, I don’t want to make this blog tediously long. So basically, you’ve got a short history of Russian psychiatry. It was religious, then medicinal, and then came under the jurisdiction of government. Then the government began to misuse it in the same way the Church, or any strong armed, power hungry, pseudo-idealistic machine has used its power anywhere; to impose its version of societal norms on everyone else. Anyway, isn’t it crazy how they run things over in the Middle East? We should do something about that.
Although nesting doll (matryoshka) is famous all over the world it is hard to find books about this phenomena. Have a look at sites dedicated to Russian souvenirs and you will see that all stories about nesting dolls are quite contradictory. The reason is that authors of sites did not have good materials on this subject. I suppose that this page will add some understanding of nesting doll roots and history.
The very beginning of Russian matryoshka
The first Russian nesting doll (matryoshka) was born in 1890 in the workshop "Children's Education" situated in Abramtsevo estate new Moscow. The owner of Abramtsevo was Sava Mamontov - industrialist and a patron of the arts.
The first Russian nesting doll!
The end of the 19 century in Russia was a time of great economic and cultural development. Mamontov was one of the first who patronized artist who were possessed by the idea of the creation of a new Russian style. Many famous Russian artists worked along with folk craftsmen in workshops Mamontov.
7-piece matryoshka "Fukuruma", Japan. Late 1890s(to see the larger image click on the picture)
Once at a tradition Saturday meeting somebody brought a funny Japanese figurine of a good-nature bold head old man Fukuruma. The doll consisted of some other figurines nestled one another. It had 7 figurines. There was a legend that the first doll of such type on Island Honshu where Fukuruma was brought from was made by unknown Russian monk.
Really, this type of nesting toys was well known before - Russian crafters turned wooden Easter eggs, apples.
Why it is called "Matryoshka"
Russian wooden dolls within smaller dolls were called matryoshka. In old Russian among peasants the name Matryona or Matriosha was a very popular female name. Scholars says this name has a Latin root "mater" and means "Mother". This name was associated with the image of of a mother of a big peasant family who was very healthy and had a portly figure.
Subsequently, it became a symbolic name and was used specially to image brightly painted wooden figurines made in a such way that they could taken apart to reveal smaller dolls fitting inside one another.
Russia it seems has banned South Park. Anyone who watches Comedy Central has probably scene the commercials citing the ban, and, my curiosity piqued, I decided to do a bit of research.
from Moscow News
11/09/2008 | Moscow News №36 2008
Russian experts rule South Park as extremist
> print version
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - The Moscow Prosecutor General's Office believes the popular animated TV show South Park could incite religious hatred, its press service said on Monday.
"It offends the honor and dignity of Christians and Muslims alike, and affronts believers, regardless of their faith," the statement said, adding that the cartoon "could provoke ethnic conflict and spark inter-religious hatred."
The Russian Union of Evangelical Christians said last Thursday that it had requested that Russian prosecutors open a criminal investigation into a TV channel that broadcasts the popular South Park cartoons containing "covert and overt propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia as norms of sexual life."
The Prosecutor's Office has referred the case to court and has also issued a warning to the 2x2 TV Channel company that airs the show and to Rossvyazkomnadzor, Russia's media watchdog.
Prosecutors said by showing such cartoons like The Simpsons, Stewie Griffin, Metalocalypse, Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl the channel is promoting "violence, brutality and pornography," as well as suicide and antisocial behavior.
"The content of these cartoons fails to comply with laws protecting the moral and psychological development of children and their health," the statement said adding that the cartoon breached international law and the rights of children.
The Russian adult-oriented cartoon network TV channel faced similar accusations in March 2008, when Russian Protestant leaders submitted a request to the Prosecutor General's Office asking for the channel's license to be revoked, saying it "promotes immorality and violence."
In February 2008, Rossvyazokhrankultura, a regulatory body for television in Russia, issued warnings to the channel about the ‘Happy Tree Friends' and ‘The Adventures of Big Jeff' cartoon series, recommending that they remove them from the air to avoid legal issues.
Russia has always been at the forefront of the engineering and technological landscape. Their space program was top-notch, their science program was unmatched for decades, and their appliances, vehicles, and other electronics are noted for their longevity and durability. In the guitar world, Russian-made Sovtek tubes are hailed as some of the best that money can buy. The depth of sound is unmatched, the response to a player's nuances and style is very accurate, and the overall feel and tone becomes more fluid.
There was a strong movement during the late 1990's and early 2000's to turn guitar amplifiers from the old tube power to newer, more efficient solid-state circuit boards and even computer chips. Interestingly, these systems are built not to have their own distinctive sound, but often to try and emulate the tone of a tube amplifier. However, in recent years, there has been a strong resurgence of tube amplifiers on the market, and the technology is even better than before.
Here is a video of one of my favorite blues guitarists, who uses an amp that makes use of Sovtek tubes.
Set in a murky underworld of
A mystical, almost intense, reference surrounds the adorning of these tattoos for the Vory V Zakone; a series of fierce, colourless symbols, placed in symbolic parts of the body by rank and accomplishment; much like an army officer with a chest full of medals. This is vintage Cronenberg territory; transgression and body transmogrification in full swing. We witness an almost erotic scene in which Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), in the midst of being tattooed, half naked, lying back, casually smoking a cigarette, is perfectly at one with the needle, the ink almost caressing his body.
By the turn of the century there became records of leagues both in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and the Football Union of Russia sent a team to the 1912 Olympic.
Most caps: Viktor Onopko (113)
Top scorer: Oleg Blokhin (42)
First International: Finland 2 - 1 Russia
Largest win: USSR 11 - 1 India
Finland 0 - 10 USSR
Worst defeat: Germany 16 - 0 Russia
National Team Colours
Indiana Jones and the Communists’ Doom
Written by Catherine Mullins
Friday, 13 June 2008 10:31
By the time George Lucas and Steven Spielberg decided to make a fourth installment of the widely popular Indiana Jones series, twenty years had gone by, and so they decided, with an aging Harrison Ford for the star, they should allow twenty years to elapse in the series as well. That meant the 1930s pre-World War II era had ended and the 1950s Cold War crisis had begun. Instead of evil Nazis for the villains, they could substitute the equally cold, callous, Russian Communists, in their most disturbing form as the KGB, as the enemies in the movie. This shouldn't have been the cause of any controversy since, after all, communism is dead in Russia and the KGB is a thing of the past, right? After some of the comments made about the movie, however, it looks like someone forgot to tell that to the Russians.
"What galls is how together with America we defeated Hitler and how we sympathized when Bin Laden hits them, but they go ahead and scare kids with communists. These people have no shame," said Victor Pirov, a communist party leader in St. Petersburg after the film debuted there and in 808 theaters across Russia.
"No shame," are pretty strong words coming from a member of a party that massacred over sixty-two million of its own people in one of the worlds’ largest genocides. Causing the death of untold numbers in brutal labor camps as well as creating a society in which citizens were denied the most basic freedoms, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago that the communists weren’t just to be feared, but regarded with terror.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull portrays just that. Throughout the movie a group of KGB officers plot to steal an American military secret that would supposedly help them gain world power. "[We want to] place our minds into the minds of the masses … have our teachers teach the true version of history" says the top KGB agent in the movie, Irina Spalko, played by Cate Blanchette. In their efforts to do so this KGB task force not only impersonates American soldiers in order to murder a troop of real American soldiers in cold blood, but also mercilessly slaughters a community of South American Indians armed only with primitive weapons. Meanwhile, the blatant disregard Irina Spalko shows for the life of her own men as she unflinchingly watches them meet gruesome deaths portrays the inhuman cruelty the KGB was noted for. Indeed, she is the caricature of the perfect Russian communist KGB agent, who cares only for power and sees human life as expendable, and nothing but a means to that end.
We have been told again and again by the news media and politicians alike that communism is dead in Russia. But if such were the case why did the Russian communist party try to have the movie banned, and when unable to incur such a ban, ask Russians to boycott it?
"Your work in this film is an insult to the Soviet and Russian people, who remember the difficult Fifties when our country was concluding its construction, but did not send merciless terrorists to the USA.... You have no future in Russia anymore. Speaking plainly it would be better for you not to come here. You will be beaten and despised," wrote the communist party ideology committee in an open letter to Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchette, the stars of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
“You will be beaten and despised.” Isn’t that what the Russian communists do in the movie?
One party member said, "Our movie goers are teenagers who are unaware of what happened in 1957. They will go to the theater and be sure that in 1957 we made trouble for the United States and almost started a nuclear war. It’s rubbish." "It is disturbing when talented directors want to provoke a new cold war," said Andrei Andreyev, a Russian Communist lawmaker.
Suddenly these supposedly reformed communists are beginning to sound like the KGB agent in the movie whose portrayal they protest. One wonders why Russian youth don’t already know about what happened in the 1950’s. Didn’t "Uncle Putin" tell them about the arms race the Soviets were involved in at that time, gaining and preparing to aim nuclear missiles at the U.S. in the Cuban missile crisis just a few years later?
As Warren Mass mentioned in his article, “Communism Not Dead in China, Elsewhere” a study showed that, "in 1996 most of the 15 former soviet republics are today dominated by communists or their re-named political heirs." In 2007, BBC news reported that "KGB influence soars under Putin," as he again and again named former KGB officers to positions of political power. "In five years Putin has abolished most direct elections, muzzled the media and filled his staff with KGB cronies," MSNBC reported. And although the KGB itself was abolished in 1991 a new, in some ways harsher intelligence agency, was soon formed to replace it. The FSB (Federal Security Service) "exercises police state powers at whim," able to invade and search just about any premises it wants to.
William F. Jasper, in his article “Putin’s Russia,” points out that we cannot assume that a group such as the communists, notorious for their deception, would have spontaneously given up the cold war and abruptly ended their quest for power. KGB defectors like Anitoly Golitsyn have told us again and again this is part of a plan of the communists to deceive the West into merging into one socialist state with the East. As William Jasper noted, "[We have] like the Trojans, fallen for one of the most obvious deceptions." Lucas and Spielberg, by producing Indiana Jones have just tapped that horse and stirred up the occupants inside.
Enemy at the Gates is a war film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Made in 2001, it tells the story of soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev (Jude Law) and his German sniper rival Major Erwin Konig (Ed Harris). The opening scene shows Zaytsev being forced into battle with only bullets and the order to pick up a fellow soldier's gun when he dies. The Russians, insensate, course into battle and get mowed down by the well-fortified Germans. But when the surviving Russians attempt to retreat the Russian generals kill them. The Russians will accept no cowards amongst their ranks. Following his survival, Zaytsev impresses a lieutenant by killing five Germans with five shots and is subsequently promoted to the sniper division. The rest of the movie follows Konig's hunt for Zaytsev and his eventual defeat.
The movie is based on the battle of Stalingrad during WWII, but takes many liberties. Most of the actors have British or American accents while being Russian or German. Overall, however, the movie has decent action scenes for its time and the plot is interesting. I especially enjoyed Ron Pearlman's part. Immediately after shooting a German soldier in the head he remarks, "It's about soup time, isn't it?"
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Okay, so this is more about the volcanos located ON the peninsula than the actual peninsula, but can you blame me?
"The 1,200 kilometer (km) - long
This 700 km-long volcanic belt is the surface expression of the northwesterly subduction by 8-10 centimeters (cm) a year of the Pacific Ocean plate under the Eurasian plate and shows a complete range of the vulcanism characteristic of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Since 1690 some 200 eruptions have been recorded. The peninsula has some 300 volcanoes of which 33 are currently active, most of explosive character and many of perfect pyramidal form. 34 of these and the 13 most active volcanoes on
The Klyuchevskaya range has three of the highest and most active peaks. Klyuchevskoy itself is
Bystrinskiy Zakaznik in the Sredinniy range has quaternary volcanic formations in various states of conservation. Kronotskiy National Reserve is a rugged landscape with 12 active volcanoes and some 800 lakes, which also extends over 5 km of coastal waters. The Uzon caldera within it is an enormous bowl 10 km across with sides rising to 900 m and constant hydrothermal activity on its floor. The nearby spectacular Valley of the Geysers has 20 large geysers, over 100
But the volcanic area is also one of the most pristine parts of the peninsula. The Klyuchevskaya group is beautiful as well as dangerous. Most of Bystrinskiy Zakaznik in the Sredinniy range is a mosaic of different mountain landscapes. Kronotskiy National Reserve, near the north end of the eastern range, is famous for its scenery.
How amazing would it be to visit this place?