Monday, February 23, 2009


Since I couldn't think of anything better to do for my blog entry, I decided to post a short little something about the old Russian newspaper and new Russian website called Pravda.

Pravda was a Soviet Newspaper that started back in 1912 and ended in 1991. I think wikipedia sums up its purpose quite nicely: it was basically a tool used by the Soviet Communist Party to announce official policy and policy changes along with other "news".

Anyway, since Pravda was shut down by Boris Yeltsin back in 1991, some of the former newspaper employees got together and opened a website called Pravda Online . It has all the usual parts of a news site: your day-to-day happenings, opinion section, Russian concerns and -most importantly- photos and articles about western movie stars. It also has some of the strangest photo galleries I have ever seen, like "The Birth of a Chicken" (I'm not joking. It's really there.)

Here's the link for the english site, in case anyone cares:

And if you care to witness the development of a baby chicken one freakishly-gross photo at a time, here's that link too:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Russian Presence in Deep Space

Since 2005, the Red Alliance, a powerful Russian-speaking conglomerate of various Russian Corporations, has established itself as a major player in the mineral-driven economy of New Eden. I'll briefly describe some of the events that have taken place in the Red Alliance's storied history.

The Red Alliance formed after a prior group disbanded. This group was known as the Curse Alliance and it's destruction led to the formation of various new powers, not the least of which was the new Red Alliance. Another alliance that formed from the ashes of the Curse Alliance, was The Five, which would go on to betray the Red Alliance. But with the aid of their friends in Rage and Terror, the Red Alliance was able to triumph over it's former allies.

Eventually Lokta Voltera would begin expansion into the Red Alliance's territory, and with the help of other alliances, would go on to defeat the Red Alliance in Immensea and also in Wicked Creek.

After the defeat in Wicked Creek on the 8th of March when R.A. lost 9 dreadnaughts, a dark period began in RA’s story. Torn by internal intra-corporation conflicts and surrounded on all sides by the encroaching forces of the coalition, RA began rapidly losing conquered territories. First to fall were Immensea and Detorid, next in line came Wicked Creek, the last to fall were Insmother and Scalding Pass. Corporations were fleeing the alliance, each one presented different reasons and excuses – “we didn’t receive help in our time of need.” In the end the alliance was abandoned by all non-Russian speaking corporations. The order was given to re-group forces in Curse, Cache, and Konora.

In the beginning of March 2006, RA began populating its territories with citizens. A majority of the new corporations were ordinary carebears, miners, and ratters who didn’t need anything except high-end ores and fat NPC’s. But in the Scalding Pass region an unusual corporation formed. The region bordered the Great Wildlands and was constantly under attack by -V- alliance. Consequently the new industrial corporations were forced to constantly defend themselves and learned how to PVP. When the coalition began attacking Scalding Pass, those who did not run to Empire, remained with RA forces in 28y till the end to defend the station and remove the POSs. After the fall of 28y they moved with RA into H-ADOC. Because most of the corporations lost many of their members, who did not like all the fighting and who wanted to peacefully carebear, many corporations were down to only a few members.

Fast forward to today, and the Red Alliance has re-established itself as one of the major powers of New Eden, among the likes of the KenZoku and the Tau Ceti Federation.

This is not real. This post is about a Russian-Speaking alliance in the EVE Online video game. Yeah.

Monday, February 9, 2009


The National emblems of the Russian Empire were the state emblem and the state seal in three variants: great, middle and lesser. Quite often the Russian state emblems are incorrectly called "coats of arms".
Emblem State
The State Emblem of the Russian Empire (Герб Российской Империи) consisted of a golden escutcheon with a black two-headed eagle crowned with two imperial crowns, over which the same third crown, enlarged, with two flying ends of the ribbon of the Order of Saint Andrew. The State Eagle held a golden scepter and golden globus cruciger. On the chest of the Eagle there was an escutcheon with the arms of Moscow, depicting Saint George, mounted and defeating the Serpent.
Great State Emblem
The depicted Great State Emblem (Большой государственный герб Российской Империи) was adopted in 1882, replacing the previous version of 1857. Tsar Alexander III first approved the relevant design on July 24, which, with minor modifications, was officially adopted on November 3.
Its central element is the State Emblem, crowned with the helmet of Alexander Nevsky, with black and golden mantling, and flanked by the archangels Michael and Gabriel. The collar of the Order of Saint Andrew is suspended from the State Emblem. The whole lies within a golden ermine mantle, crowned by the Imperial Crown of Russia and decorated with black double-headed eagles. The inscription on the canopy reads: Съ Нами Богъ ("God is with us"). Above the canopy stands the state khorugv, of gold cloth, on which is depicted the Medium State Seal. The banner is topped by the State Eagle.
Around the central composition are placed fifteen coats of arms of the various territories of the Russian Empire. Nine of these are crowned and placed on a laurel and oak wreath. From left to right, these represent, as they are included in the full imperial title: the Khanate of Kazan, the Kingdom of Poland, Tauric Chersonesos, the unified coat of arms of the Grand Principalities of Kiev, Vladimir and Novgorod, the dynastic arms of the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov, the Grand Duchy of Finland, the Georgian principalities, and the Khanates of Siberia and Astrakhan.
The six upper escutcheons are joint depictions of various smaller principalities and oblasts. From left to right, these are: the combined arms of the northeastern regions (Perm, Volga Bulgaria, Vyatka, Kondinsky, Obdorsk), of Belorussia and Lithuania (Lithuania, Białystok, Samogitia, Polatsk, Vitebsk, Mstislavl), the provinces of Great Russia proper (Pskov, Smolensk, Tver, Nizhniy-Novgorod, Ryazan, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Belozersk, Udorsky), the arms of the southwestern regions (Volhyn, Podolsk, Chernigov), the Baltic provinces (Estland, Courland and Semigalia, Karelia, Livland) and Turkestan.
Middle State Emblem
The Middle State Emblem (Средний государственный герб Российской Империи) is similar to the Great State Emblem, excluding the khorugv and the six upper escutcheons. The Abbreviated Imperial Title is inscribed over the perimeter of the Seal.
Lesser State Emblem
The Lesser State Emblem (Малый государственный герб Российской Империи) depicts the imperial double-headed eagle, as used in the State Emblem, with the addition of the collar of the Order of Saint Andrew around the escutcheon of St. George, and the Arms of Astrakhan, Siberia, Georgia, Finland, Kiev-Vladimir-Novgorod, Taurica, Poland and Kazan on the wings (seen clockwise).
History and evolution of the arms
The use of the double-headed eagle as a Russian emblem goes back to the 15th century. With the fall of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the Grand Dukes of Muscovy came to see themselves as the successors of the Byzantine heritage, a notion reinforced by the marriage of Ivan III to Sophia Paleologue (hence the expression "Third Rome" for Moscow and, by extension, for the whole of Imperial Russia). Ivan adopted the golden Byzantine double-headed eagle in his seal, first documented in 1472, marking his direct claim to the Roman imperial heritage and posing as a sovereign equal and rival to the Holy Roman Empire.
The other main Russian national emblem, the image of St George slaying the dragon, is contemporaneous. In its first form, as a rider armed with a spear, it is found in the seal of Vasili I of Moscow. At the time of Ivan III, the dragon was added, but the final association with Saint George was not made until 1730, when it was described as such in an Imperial decree. Eventually, St George became the patron saint of Moscow (and, by extension, of Russia).
After the assumption of the title of Tsar by Ivan IV, the two emblems are found combined, with the eagle bearing an escutcheon depicting St George on the breast. With the establishment of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1589, a patriarchal cross was added for a time between the heads of the eagle.
In the beginning of the 17th century, with the ascension of the Romanov dynasty and its contacts with Western Europe, the image of the eagle changed. In 1625 for the first time the double-headed eagle appeared with three crowns. Traditionally, the latter have alternatively been interpreted as representing the conquered kingdoms of Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberia, as stated in the first edict concerning the state seal, on 14 December 1667, or as standing for the unity of Great Russia (Russia), Little Russia (the Ukraine) and White Russia (Belarus). Probably under influence from its German equivalent, the eagle, from 1654 onwards, was designed with spread wings and holding a scepter and orb in its claws.
During the reign of Peter the Great, further changes were made. The collar of the newly established Order of Saint Andrew was added around the central escutcheon, and the crowns were changed to the imperial pattern after his assumption of the imperial title in 1721. At about this time, the eagle's color was changed from golden to black, which would be retained until the fall of the Russian monarchy in 1917. A final form for the eagle was adopted by imperial decree in 1729, and remained virtually unchanged until 1853.
During the early 19th century, the eagle designs diversified, and two different variants were adopted by Emperor Nicholas I. The first type represented the eagle with spread wings, one crown, with an image of St.George on the breast and with a wreath and a thunderbolt in its claws. The second type followed the 1730 pattern, with the addition of the arms of Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberia on its left wing and those of Poland, the Taurica and Finland on the left one.
In 1855-57, in the course of a general heraldic reform, the eagle's appearance was changed, mirroring German patterns, while St George was made to look to the left, in accordance with the rules of Western heraldry. At the same time, the full set of emblems of Great, Medium and Minor Arms, was laid down and approved. The final revisions and changes were made in 1882-83, and are those described above.

The seal of Ivan III

Russian arms, 1589

Russian arms, 1650s

Russian arms, 1730

Russian arms under Emperor Paul, 1800

Russian arms, I. variant, 1825

Russian arms, II. variant, 1830

Great State Emblem, 1857 pattern

Russian Mail Order Brides

Russian Mail Order Brides

While chatting online with my comrade Christine, a fortuitous ad popped up on my internet. Russian mail order brides! Our conversation went something exactly like this:

Natalie Sante: Привет! Как дела, меня подруга?

Christine Jacobson: привет! очен чорошо, спасиба моя дорогая!

Natalie Sante: There are so many things I wish I could say, like, learn as I go along, but online translators are crap.

Natalie Sante: However, my internet pop ups tell me there are loads of Russian women waiting for me! So I really just need to keep plugging away.

     Special thanks to Christine for preserving that little piece of history in her tumblr. Needless to say, after that I was dead set on obtaining one of these brides. I visited several sites to conduct my research. Navigating your web browser towards one of these bride depots is kind of like going to Wal-Mart when you are used to shopping at Publix. It makes you wonder if sleazy is a prebuilt web package that anyone choose from or if the creators of these sites let their own personal aesthetic guide the layout. I'm still unsure about which alternative is scarier. 

Much like any dating site, these bride order sites shared many similarities. There were drop down menus for languages spoken and to what degree of aptitude. There was also a similar list to describe the many varied interests of my possible future brides to be. Popular choices were cooking, cleaning, and working with children. Slowly I began to form a picture in my mind of the ideal Russian Mail Order Bride. She would speak Russian fluently so that she could help me with mine, and she would speak german as well, because that's hot, but she would only have minimal command of English. (You may think that's a horrible wish, but consider this, a friend of mine knew a deaf girl in high school who was very plain looking but always had a boyfriend. You can draw whatever conclusions you like from that.) Furthermore, my bride would find her life's fulfillment in cooking gourmet meals, cleaning tile floors, and holding intellectual conversations late into the night. 

Before I got my hopes too high, I started asking around about the feasibility of this whole enterprise. Do these seedy bride deals actually  produce mega-hot Olgas and Natalyas that love to knit and bake and give back rubs? Do they produce brides at all? Is there a return policy? Warranty? What's the deal? First, I enquired with my mother, who I go to for all my relationship advice. She gives good advice, I never take it Anyway, she assured me that Russian Mail Order Brides were indeed the real deal. But why would anyone do that? I couldn't get over it. The whole concept seemed so incredible to me. They want to escape their circumstances, she said. I guess I could understand that. I guess.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging the ladies, I'm just saying I find it hard to empathize with their position. I don't know what I would do. That anyone would essentially get married to a stranger for a chance at a better life, I have trouble wrapping my mind around the concept. I suppose it's not that foreign, but still, I've never had to consider it. It's not quite an arranged marriage, yet not a match of love. To be perfectly honest, I think an arranged marriage would be wonderful. Dating is so hard and painful and utterly life draining. Besides, even the most rational among us fall prey to our own chemical reactions. 

On the twenty something hour car ride up to Cadillac, Michigan, I read a book of non-fiction short stories by Chuck Palahnuik. One story was about a man who building a rocket. While that was interesting enough by itself, this man also happened to be in a relationship with a women he met on a site like the ones I visited. They exchanged emails for a long time, and eventually they met and became married. He was hopeful and she was beautiful, life was good. Until he left her at home with internet access which she promptly used to visit bestiality sites and put up a personal ad for a new man. She eventually moved in with a Russian man she met online who lived in America. Needless to say, Rocketman had been duped. It's easy to write the whole thing off as one man's silly mistake, but I 've seen the same sort of revelations occur in homegrown American couples. So, I'm not quite sure where this mail order bride adventure took me as far as personal understanding goes. However, it was certainly an interesting inquiry. And perhaps not knowing is not a bad place to be at. 

Теремок Кафе

Теремок Кафе
Over winter break I got to dine at a traditional russian cafe. It was in Waterloo, Ontario. The restaurant was run by a woman named Svetlana who did everything. She took your order, made your food and brought it to you. My favorite meal was perogies and borsh soup.

Jessica Simpson Making it big in Russia..

So apparently Jessica Simpson is quite the movie star abroad, a new movie "Major Movie Star" starring Simpson released on November 8th but there is no scheduled date for release in the U.S. No wonder people think the United States is crazy! 

Jessica Simpson, Russia’s Sweetheart:

What ever happened to Jessica Simpson’s comedy, “Major Movie Star”?

The “Private Benjamin” – like film has never opened here in the United States. But on October 9th, “Major Movie Star” debuted to top box office in… Russia.

Next up for a movie described by one of its participants as “maybe one of the worsr films ever made”: a November premiere in Bulgaria.

So far there’s no U.S. release date set. Nor is there one for any other country in which English is the primary language.

No fewer than 15 producers are listed on the credits of “Major Movie Star” including Jessica’s enterprising dad, Joe. The director was Steve Miner, whose credits are mostly from television.

While Jessica’s singing career transition into country star has gone pretty well so far, her movie credits seem to be getting worse rather than better. She’d be substantially better off, frankly, having a sitcom in which she can play herself.

To see the trailer click here (it's in English) 

It will explain itself.. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Crater on Mercury named after Lermontov

I was surprised to discover that one of my favorite authors is now a crater on Mercury.


Lermontov is an impact crater on the planet Mercury, 152 kilometers in diameter. It is located at 15.2°N, 48.1°W, southwest of the crater Proust and northeast of the crater Giotto. It has a circular rim and a flat, featureless crater floor. Lermontov is likely a mature crater, but it remains a bright feature because of low opaque material on its floor. The crater is named after Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov, a 19th century Russian poet. The name was approved by the International Astronomical Union in 1976.

Aleksandr Karelin Unit 6

Greco-Roman Wrestling is one of the two types of wrestling in the olympic games. This certain style does not allow any attacks below the waist. Wrestlers only use their arms and upper bodies to attack their opponents. The Greco-Roman style of wrestling is dominated by Russian athletes. One very famous Greco-Roman wrestler was Russia's Aleksandr Karelin. Karelin competed in the heavyweight division in the 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000 olympic games. Karelin took home gold medals for the 1988, 1992, and 1996 games and. He was undefeated until the Sydney 2000 games when was matched against Rulon Gardner from the United States.

Unit 6 Russian 102

Russia's Economic Crisis Leads To Mounting Protests

The Kremlin's rule is beginning to look much shakier than at any time since Vladimir Putin came to power, after a series of protests in cities across its vast landmass this weekend by Russians disgruntled about the economy. And as the country starts to feel the effects of the global credit crunch, there are also signs of a growing rift between Prime Minister Putin, and his hand-picked successor as President, Dmitry Medvedev.
In Vladivostok, 2,000 protesters took to the streets, with some carrying banners reading "Kremlin, we are against you", and other people chanting directly for the removal of Mr Putin. The Pacific port city, seven time zones away from Moscow, has become a focal point for dissent after riot police broke up a march last year over car imports and detained 100 people. Saturday's demonstration, under the watchful eye of the police, passed off peacefully.
Nearly every major city had a street rally, and though most were low key, the unusual scale of dissatisfaction is likely to worry the authorities. The Russian economy has been hit hard by falling oil prices, many oligarchs have seen billions of pounds wiped off the value of their shares, and ordinary Russians are feeling the pinch as factories struggle to stay afloat and companies lay off employees.
In Moscow, a motley band of communists, anarchists and liberals gathered at several points across the city to protest against Kremlin rule. At one spot, a dozen protesters taped over their mouths with white tape, held up white placards with no slogans, and handed blank white flyers to passers-by. Bemused by such a conceptual approach to protest, the police rounded them up and arrested them anyway, and the organiser got five days in prison.
Mr Putin has made several speeches blaming the economic chaos on America, and says he expects things to improve by the end of the year. State-controlled television is playing down the crisis, and most newspapers are also toeing the Kremlin line, but the internet is a worrying medium for those in charge, and offers a forum for dissenters to exchange ideas. Tiger, an acronym for The Society for Proactive Russian Citizens, is an online community of anti-government activists based across Russia's 11 time zones. Participants use the online forum to discuss how best to oppose the government. Those involved estimate that about 10,000 people have signed up since last autumn.
"We're waiting for warmer weather because it's simply difficult to stay outside for long when it's minus 20," said Maria Baranova, a 27-year-old resident of Vladivostok active in the Tiger movement. "But in the spring we plan to mount protests every weekend. Before I got involved I never realised how many people are unhappy. I can't believe that there are so many people living near me who are politically aware and saying smart things."
While there are signs that the ripple of anger could turn into a tidal wave, few analysts expect street protests to have any chance of bringing down the government. "There will be more unrest, but it will be localised," says Dmitry Oreshkin, a political analyst in Moscow. "There is not the organisational structure in place for anything more."
But, says Mr Oreshkin, the business and political elite, who largely accepted the trade-off of political freedoms for the economic prosperity of the past few years, is becoming disillusioned. "Two or three years ago, we could talk about the 'Putin Consensus' among the elites. Now that consensus has broken down. The elites are better informed than the rest of the population, have more to lose, and understand just how bad things are."
Mr Medvedev, who was swept into the Kremlin last year with the backing of Mr Putin, has begun to emerge as a more independent player. He has criticised the government for failing to implement anti-crisis measures effectively, stating that only 30 per cent of measures had been put through and the government was working "more slowly than the current situation demands". Though he did not mention Mr Putin by name, the economy is traditionally the responsibility of the Prime Minister, and many commentators noted the water he was putting between the presidency and the premiership.
"Everyone serious knows that in six months, things will be catastrophically bad here," says Mr Oreshkin. "Medvedev is subtly trying to make it clear that the economy is Putin's responsibility. However well-disposed he is towards Putin, it's very clear that the beginnings of a divide are there."
The prospects: Grim, and getting grimmer
*Oil prices: Urals crude has slumped to $43 per barrel from a high of more than $150 last summer. Russia's 2009 budget is based on an oil price of $95 and will be in deficit if oil averages less than $70 this year.
*Currency reserves: During the boom in oil prices, Russia built up the third- largest currency reserves in the world. But since August, more than $200bn has been spent defending the rouble, with reserves now standing at around $380bn and decreasing by the day.
*Rouble rate: Last summer, President Medvedev suggested the rouble would become a major world currency. Now, the ailing rouble has lost 30 per cent of its value against the dollar and euro.
*Inflation: Officially, inflation for 2009 is forecast to be 13 per cent, but many expect the actual figure to be much higher.
*Unemployment: Unemployment grew grew by a quarter to nearly six million in 2008, and, with the grim economic climate, could rocket higher this year.

Vasily Kalinnikov

The Stetson band is doing a Kalinnikov piece now (his Finale from Symphony in G minor). Might as well find out who he is....

Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov was born in 1866 at Voina, in the Oryol District, where Turgenev, Henry James's "beautiful genius", had been born in 1818.

The son of a police official, he was allowed, through the ecclesiastical connections of the family, to study at the seminary in Oryol, where he took charge of the choir at the age of fourteen.

In 1884 he went to Moscow as a scholarship student at the Philharmonic Society School, taking lessons on the bassoon and in composition with Alexander Il'yinsky and the self-taught Pavel Blaramberg, a statistician by profession.

The poverty of his family which had made it impossible for him to study at the Conservatory forced him to earn a living playing the bassoon, timpani or violin in theatre orchestras and further weakened his health, already affected by childhood privations.

He was able to profit, however, from the friendship and teaching of S. N. Kruglikov.

In 1892 Kalinnikov's fortunes seemed about to take a turn for the better, with his appointment, on the recommendation of Tchaikovsky, as conductor at the Malïy Theatre in Moscow and the following year by a similar appointment at the Moscow Italian Theatre, but a few months later his deteriorating health compelled him to resign in order to seek in the relative warmth of the South Crimea a cure for the tuberculosis from which he suffered.

He was to remain in Yalta for the rest of his short life, completing there his two symphonies, and, among other instrumental works, incidental music for the play Tsar Boris by Alexey Tolstoy, staged at the Malïy Theatre in 1899.

Towards the end of his life Kalinnikov received some financial relief through the good offices of Sergey Rachmaninov, who had visited him in Yalta and been appalled at the conditions in which he found him living.

He died early in January 1901, before his 35th birthday.

It's amazing that Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov helped him along. It's interesting to think of three of the most talented Russian composers alive at the same time, helping each other...

Here's a video of the first half of the Finale from Kalinnikov's Symphony, played by some high school band, sorry about that:

Greatest Disco Song Ever

In 7th grade in Mr. Carson's social studies class we did a month long unit on the Bolshevik revolution. It quickly became my favorite revolution, even more so than the French or American revolution (although I do love Alexander Hamiltion), and probably my favorite period in history to study, as well. I mean come on. You have curses caused by not properly observing mourning, stampeding peasants, sketch priests that may or may not have run around Siberia naked and were apparently immune to poison, gunshot wounds, and frostbite, troops beign sent into battle armed with nothing but pitchforks, those crazy Bolsheviks... what's not to love?
I was very disappointed when we all but skimmed over this in high school World History and was annoyed that I seemed to know more about it then my teacher.

In honor of "Peace, Land, Bread" (who cares about liberty when you're starving to death?) I'd like to share what is in my humble opinion the GREATEST DISCO SONG EVER!!! I happened to stumble upon it during the same time that I was studying the the man for whom the song was named.

"Rasputin", originally perfomed in 1978 by Boney M

This video uses the original recording accompanied by the lyrics and pictures of the man himself

Here's the music video for the 2007 cover version by Finnish "symphonic folk metal" band Turisas. While the dude's fedora is pretty sweet, I want to know, where's the scraggly beard with bit of food stuck in it? Come on, there's nothing hotter than that.

Vladimir Kunin and Chronicles of a Dive Bomber.

For my last birthday my friend knew that I was in Russian so he decided to go to some Russian shop and get me a bunch of stuff. Among them were Russian soda flavored with Tarragon (it kind of tastes like licorice), Russian pretzels, Russian graham crackers, and also a book in Russian. With some effort I found out it was Chronicles of a Dive Bomber by Vladimir Kunin. I was a little interested so I asked Dr. Denner and he hadn't even heard of Kunin. So here's a little bit of info on him and the book.

He was born in 1927 in Leningrad and immigrated to Germany at some point in his life. He was a member of several Russian film and writer's associations. He was quite prolific and wrote around 35 short stories, 4 novels, and 18 movies based on his writings. Chronicles of a Dive Bomber was made 1967 set in the working days of aviation during World War II. It's about this aviation crew that tries to photograph enemy air fields and the dangers they encounter. The pictures above are from the movie.

Dior Photoshoot in Moscow

I stumbled across this Dior Photoshoot that took place in Moscow in the 60s. I became immediately infuriated. Christian Dior was obviously aiming to make his fashionable line stand out amongst the frumpy, bland dress of the little Russian бабушки. However, the cruel nature of these photographs is undeniable.

Women in the Soviet Union were deprived of luxury designer dresses and could only buy their clothes from the Communist Designer Company. Not much fashion got past the iron curtain and if any did, the people of the Soviet Union would resign themselves to never attaining such icons as Levi Jeans.

Click here for more pictures of Dior making poor fools out of Russian Ladies themselves.

Russian Architectural Aspects

A major characteristic of Russian architecture is the famous domed cathedrals, created in the Byzantine style. These domes are held up by a geometric structure called a pendative. A Pendative is a hollow hemi-spherical dome with four slices cut from the sides and a hole in the center so that the weight of the dome on top of it can be equally distributed down into the four pillars of a
square room. This structure better distributes the weight of the dome and solves the problem of fitting a round dome to its square base.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Who is Dmitry Medvedev again?

Hey All,
This is just a link i thought everyone should look at. It gives a profile on the most recent President of Russia-Dmitry Medvedev. What i found interesting is he is the 3rd Russian president. All the others weren't considered "Russian Presidents." Not until the Soviet Union fell, did they get that title. Any who here is the link of Medvedev (which means bear for all who don't know that)

Russians are bartering?

Apparently the barter system has returned to Russia. A certain automobile factory is trading Hyundai Santa Fe SUV's in exchange for circuit boards or metal sheets or sneakers. This article is really interesting, including some information about the current economic times in Russia and past instances of bartering in Russia. Take a peek!

Have Car, Need Briefs? In Russia, Barter Is Back

Here is a sign of the financial times in Russia: Barter is back on the table.

Advertisements are beginning to appear in newspapers and online, like one that offered “2,500,000 rubles’ worth of premium underwear for any automobile,” and another promising “lumber in Krasnoyarsk for food or medicine.” A crane manufacturer in Yekaterinburg is paying its debtors with excavators.

And one of Russia’s original commodities traders, German L. Sterligov, has rolled out a splashy “anti-crisis” initiative that he says will link long chains of enterprises in a worldwide barter system.

All this evokes a bit of déjà vu. In the mid-1990s, barter transactions in Russia accounted for an astonishing 50 percent of sales for midsize enterprises and 75 percent for large ones.

The practice kept businesses afloat for years but also allowed them to defer some fundamental changes needed to make them more competitive, like layoffs and price reductions. It also hurt tax revenues.

The comeback is on a small scale so far. The most recent statistics available, from November, showed that barter deals made up about 3 to 4 percent of total sales, according to the Russian Economic Barometer, an independent bulletin. Nevertheless, economists are taking note.

“Russians are so arrogant that they never cut prices,” said Vladimir Popov, a professor at Moscow’s New Economic School. By turning to barter systems during an economic downturn, he said, “you are hiding your head in the sand.”

It would be hard, however, to dissuade business owners who see barter as a point of light on a bleak financial horizon.

Among the most upbeat of them is Mr. Sterligov, who, just as the credit crunch brought most business deals to a halt, shoveled $13 million into the Anti-Crisis Settlement and Commodity Center.

Mr. Sterligov, 42, is one of the great characters of Russian capitalism. In his mid-20s, on the eve of the Soviet Union’s collapse, he was a freewheeling, chain-smoking commodities trader surrounded by leggy assistants.

But Mr. Sterligov sat out the oil-fueled prosperity of recent years. After a failed run against Vladimir V. Putin in the 2004 presidential election, he retreated to a log house outside Moscow, opting for the beard and boots of a Russian shepherd. In August, intimations of the financial crash lured him out of the woods.

He plans to use a computer database to create chains of six or seven enterprises having difficulty selling their products for cash, in which the last firm on the chain would pay the first in a single cash transaction.

It is the kind of multiparty barter that rose to prominence in the 1990s, when managers of factories across Russia devised complex barter chains to keep the maximum number of enterprises in business when none had cash to pay their bills. A computer, he said, can do the same job faster and more efficiently.

“What was in the past will remain in the past,” Mr. Sterligov said in an interview last month, from the 26th-floor suite he has rented in a Moscow high-rise. “We are making a step into the future.”

So far, economists doubt that barter will grow to the level it reached in the 1990s. Earlier in the transition to a market economy, industrialists still had little monetary stake in their businesses but were dependent on the prestige that went with executive positions, said Andrei Yakovlev of the Higher School of Economics here. They had little incentive to cut costs, and barter deals kept them going for five years, he said.

Now, business owners and managers “are really trying to reduce costs and reduce inefficiency,” Mr. Yakovlev said. Interest in barter, he said, is more likely to come from regional governments, which have the most to lose from high unemployment.

Barter is a side effect of tight monetary policy, said Mr. Popov, who is teaching at Carleton University in Ottawa. Russia is in the grip of a liquidity crisis. As in the mid-1990s, the government has made it a priority to shore up the economy by buying up rubles, hoping to avoid the panicky sell-off that comes with rapid devaluation. The ruble has gradually slid from 23.4 to the dollar in early August, before Russia’s war in Georgia, to 36.2 to the dollar last week.

As a result, the money supply continues to contract, and some enterprises turn to barter to survive. “We are stepping for the second time on the same rake,” Mr. Popov said. “The second time is a greater sin.”

Long-term macroeconomic trends, however, are the last thing manufacturers were thinking about in recent weeks.

The Hyundai factory in Taganrog, the southern seaport where Chekhov was born, rolled out a barter promotion on its Web site, offering to trade vehicles for “raw materials,” “high-tech equipment” or “other liquid goods, including finished products of various branches of industry.” Gleb Korotkov, a spokesman for the factory, said he could not be specific about what goods were meant, saying it was a “commercial secret.”

Barter deals seem to be spreading fastest in construction industries. Dmitri Smorodin, who runs a large St. Petersburg building firm, said he thought for two months before announcing in late January that he was willing to accept barter items — including food products — as payment for construction work.

He said he hoped that adopting the strategy early in the crisis would give him an edge over his competitors.

“Food we would happily accept, because it’s easy to sell,” he said. “Of course, money is always preferable.”

In contrast, Uralchem, a fertilizer producer, refused payment in grain and beef, because the company conforms to international financial reporting standards in its reports to shareholders, said Andrei Kocherov, a spokesman for Uralchem, which was founded in 2007. The modern accounting system would preclude barter, he said.

Sergei Ryazanov, 30, a businessman from the Siberian city of Surgut, took out an advertisement a month ago offering to barter excess metal piping. So far, he has not been impressed by the offers he has received; he said people were not desperate enough to drop prices. He is looking for a truly liquid commodity, something universal, like gasoline. Even underwear, which, he said, “is much more liquid than automobiles.”

He was intrigued by Mr. Sterligov’s idea, though he questioned the wisdom of planning a career in barter. “It will take him a couple years to get it right,” Mr. Ryazanov said. “And then, in two years, liquidity will be back.”