Tag Archives: Moscow

Czechs, American daughter, ВИИЯ, etc.

When I started my military linguist training in Moscow in 1968, USSR invaded Czechoslovakia. On orders from the USSR Communist Party leadership, my school commanders hastily formed a couple of Czech language groups from my course’s existing cadets. The guys were trained using an ad-hoc program and unprecedented methods. After a year of hard work some were expelled from the school but the remaining 20 or so knew the language pretty well and were thrown into the midst of what we now know was a fucking Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia!

Many of them eventually reached prominent positions in the Army, GRU and KGB since then, but most died from alcoholism including my best friend Slava Chainikov.

How ironic, that many years later Mariya, my daughter, chose to move to Prague and live and study there… Thanks to her Czech friends in Florida, I realized how despised and hated my Russian friends were and still are in that country…

Masha, you can tell your Czech friends that I owe them an apology for what my former home country’s leaders did in 1968. I also hope that my schoolmates from Czech groups in Voennyj Institut Inostrannykh Yazykov (ВИИЯ) who graduated in 1969 didn’t do anything bad to the people of that country while serving there.

Почему-то меня задел один из кадров хроники тех лет с не очень грамотной, но понятной надписью на моем русском языке – в данной ситуации – языке оккупантов.  По-моему, русские продолжают наступать на те же самые грабли и сейчас – в 2016 году.

Где не хватает аргументов, наступает винтовка. Это нам уже показал Гитлер. Почему тоже вы? Думайте.

А еще я думаю, что было бы в СССР, если бы там была свобода информации… Если б мы, живущие, в той стране, увидели, как настоящие чехи воспринимают нашу “братскую помощь”.


Constitutions – Us and Them


And Them:

New York to decide whether to revise state constitution

Dec. 13, 2015 10:45 AM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Many New Yorkers have lost faith in a state government that’s been embroiled in one corruption scandal after another. But instead of merely complaining, they’ll soon have a chance to tear it all down and start over.

Voters will be asked in 2017 whether the state should hold a constitutional convention to consider fundamental changes to its 121-year-old state Constitution.

It’s a question that’s automatically on the ballot every 20 years as a way for the public to circumvent lawmakers, and backers say it’s notable that the latest opportunity comes amid a crisis of confidence in state government.

“When the stars align, it can be a very powerful moment,” Gerald Benjamin, a political scientist at SUNY-New Paltz, said recently at a Bar Association forum to begin a public dialogue on the question.

New York is one of some 14 states that automatically put the question of convening a convention on the ballot every 10 or 20 years, though that hardly guarantees a convention will happen. Another, Rhode Island, saw voters opt against calling one last year.

Ten states have created new constitutions since 1964, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Georgia adopted a new document in 1983. Illinois, North Carolina and Virginia did so in the seventies. Though it has been amended more than 100 times, the Massachusetts constitution, by contrast dates back to 1780.

In New York, voters fed up with political graft could be positioned to make big changes. The recent convictions of longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Leader Dean Skelos on corruption charges put them among an infamous line of 30 lawmakers who left office facing criminal charges or ethical misconduct allegations since 2000.

Among the suggestions to fix the problem on a fundamental level: Make the Legislature a full-time body. Prohibit its members from accepting outside income. Close a loophole allowing large, largely anonymous donations from wealthy interests. Create a system of publicly funded elections to drain the money out of politics. Impose term limits on lawmakers. Replace the Senate and the Assembly with a single unicameral chamber.

Supporters of a convention say it would be a chance to make other changes to the way government operates and handles such priorities as education, health care and social services. Abortion, gun control and charter schools are among the issues that could be on the table.

“It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the state as a whole to reinvent state government,” said Hank Greenberg an attorney and the chairman of the state Bar Association’s state constitution committee. “It has been so long since we had one — nearly 50 years.”

Polls of New York voters show significant public dissatisfaction with state government and wide support for a convention: 69 percent of voters surveyed by Siena College in July supported the idea. But the poll also found many voters are unclear about the process, and 75 percent of respondents said they had heard “nothing” about the possibility of a convention.

If approved, a convention wouldn’t be held until 2019 to give time for voters to pick delegates and organize the gathering. Voters would also have final say over any recommended changes.

States differ in the ways they alter their constitutions. Delaware allows lawmakers to make changes without referendum. Alabama’s constitution is 376,000 words long — longer than Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” — and has nearly 900 amendments. California and some 16 other states allow citizens to alter their constitutions through direct initiative.

No one has come out against a convention in New York — yet. Calls for a convention were rejected in 1977 and 1997 when various special interests objected. Labor unions worried about changes that would undermine their power. Environmentalists wanted to preserve existing protections for the Adirondacks. Conservatives worried about liberal revisions on gun control and abortion. Abortion rights supporters feared the opposite.

The current constitution — which at 50,000 words is seven times longer than the federal constitution — was drafted in 1894 and heavily revised in 1938. The last convention was held in 1967, though voters recommended the proposed changes.

This time around, supporters are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has supported a convention, to convene a preparatory commission to begin reviewing possible topics for a review by delegates.

Even if the voters are reluctant to make big changes, the state’s most important document could do with at least a modest trim, said Peter Galie, co-author of three books on the New York state Constitution and a political science professor at Canisius College. He said about 15,000 words could be cut by removing outdated or redundant language.


Bad habits

Одна из моих главных дурных привычек: поиск магазина (именно магазина, а не ресторана) Hard Rock Cafe во время путешествий. Рестораны у них отстойные, о чем они и сами знают, а вот тягу к их фирменным маечкам я никак не могу в себе преодолеть… Хотя, строго говоря, 25 у.е. (по всему миру) – не такая уж маленькая цена…


Успокаиваю себя тем, что почти все остальные вредные привычки я в себе искоренил. Не курю, кроме бокала сухого вина практически не пью – хотя в тех же хард-рок магазинах меня регулярно склоняют к алкоголизму, втюхивая мне то стопарики, то пивные бокалы со своей броской символикой. Сам шрифт, разработанный для названия кафе, на мой взгляд, не менее узнаваем, чем другие знаменитые шрифты, типа названия кока-кола, надписи The Beatles, логотипа RUSLOC (Russian Localizers)

Из фотографий, собранных за последние годы получилась внушительная галлерея. Когда я ее создавал при помощи плагина Gmedia Gallery, в который уже раз подумал: “Какой я счастливый чувак!” В галлерее несколько альбомов по названиям городов (Нью-Йорк, Лондон, Сиэтл), а один альбом пришлось назвать “Разное” из-за малого кол-ва фотографий. Если вдуматься, Новый Орлеан, Москва, Лиссабон, Рим, Багамы, Мексика, Пуэрто-Рико, etc. – НИ ФИГА СЕБЕ “РАЗНОЕ”!
По такому особому случаю я купил лицензию на этот супер-пупер “модуль для профессиональных” галлерей. Но оказалось, что разобраться в нем не так-то и просто, я сам не сходу дошел до всего. Чтобы увидеть разные альбомы галереи, их нужно выбирать из меню в левом верхнем углу, которое появляется, если нажать на плюс.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 14.33.49

Это относится к десктопам. На планшете эта галерея работает прекрасно и навигация по альбомам – тоже проста и понятна.


StarWars Mushrooms

Ages ago, there was a country called USSR. The best part of it was called Moscow. Some big shots who lived in Moscow made enemies with half the world, and were quite concerned for their safety. No wonder the city had a pretty serious protection from enemy ballistic missiles. To detect their approach as far away as three thousand miles, huge antennas were deployed in remote areas 50 miles from the Kremlin. Untitled My brother, a Soviet officer, was part of that StarWars scenario. He has long since retired but still lives in his former garrison. Things changed since the end of Cold War but the mushrooms in those woods are still plentiful. It’s just a 15 minutes walk from his kitchen. Untitled There were several different types of mushrooms we got today. Some taste their best when pickled, like these: Untitled Others are best when fried (with lots of sour cream). The name of the game today was Chanterelle – yummy!! Untitled Or these little babies: Untitled Our final catch was good! While writing this post, I am catching divine whiffs coming from the kitchen – time to go. 😉
To sum-up my several days in the woods, here’s a short video.
It starts with us traveling on a delivery truck from an appliance store (I bought my brother a decent fridge to replace a 40-year old shit he was having problems with).

Then I went to Moscow on business and took some videos there. A public transportation bus to the railway station was a very comfortable Mercedes coach, and it cost me less than three dollars for an hour-long ride. In Moscow I stayed with a friend overnight, and in the morning heard some foreign languages from guys working outside my window. On the way back to the woods, I noticed how clever is a Russian way of transporting new cars on the rail. They are very well protected from thieves and burglars.


Defective card

My brand new debit card issued by The Saint Petersburg Bank went south. It refused to work in ATMs and in supermarkets, which were the only reasons I got it. After a short phone talk with the bank, I had to go to the only branch office my SPb bank has in Moscow. Even though I am staying at my brother’s nearly two hours away from downtown Moscow, I didn’t mind – what a great chance to check out the other capital of the Russian world.
In today’s Moscow churches are everywhere.
I had an interesting encounter with a dentist. She didn’t charge me anything for putting a temporary filling in one of my problem teeth. A brand-new insert fell out, and my Saint Pete dentist suggested that I cover the hole with a temp. She even gave me the name of the material, but her Moscow colleague critisized her choice and used a better option. Some imported material. When I asked why she didn’t want to be paid for her work, she said. “Your case falls into the emergency category, and we are supposed to help patients for free in such cases.”
Here are a couple of photos to show that Dental Clinic #53.
A stairway leading to the dental office.


Moscow as is

My first day in Moscow was very pleasant. I accompanied my old friend Irina to an exhibition in downtown and it was fun. Near the Kremlin, I bumped into Illiya Varlamov, a famous photographer whose work I admired for several years. Now I know his hair is real.

Iliya has his own blog at: http://zyalt.livejournal.com/
Iliya has his own blog at: http://zyalt.livejournal.com/

Like myself, he rides a bycicle on his photo assignments:
Pushkin is still in place:
Full photo and video reports are at: