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Exploring Lake Baikal | JSTOR Daily
The nature of the lake itself lends it to great diversity. For one thing the lake is at least 25 million years old. It is also extremely deep, and unlike many deep lakes, all depths contain plenty of dissolved oxygen. Under such conditions, organisms have the entire lake in which to speciate. Species can differentiate at opposite ends of the lake, or in the same location but at different depths. Several river systems drain into Baikal, so additional organisms have the opportunity to colonize the lake. Some of these species remain as they are, adding to the diversity, while others evolve in the lake into even more unique creatures.
lake  baikal  russia  mongolia  nature  climate  animal  ecosystem 
12 weeks ago by aries1988
The devil’s lottery: the perils of diving for ‘Baltic gold’

The rush for Baltic gold, which sometimes sells for more than the real thing, has been driven by consumers in China, where it is mainly used as jewellery for both men and women. From soyabean fields on the fringes of the Amazon to copper mines in the south of Congo, Kaliningrad is one of the many regions being reshaped by China’s voracious demand for commodities.

The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is the epicentre for the world’s amber trade, with the region holding about 90 per cent of the global reserves of the fossilised tree resin. It also boasts some of the oldest amber in the world — the product of a coniferous pine forest that fell into the Baltic Sea between 40m and 50m years ago.

At the time when Mr Krupnyakov and his gang were offering their services to illegal miners, the market was booming. Amber dealers say prices increased as much as 10 times between 2012 and 2016 on the back of strong demand from China. Although used for little other than jewellery and ornaments these days, amber has been a prized commodity in China ever since the days of the Ming dynasty and is seen as carrying healing powers and good fortune.

In May last year, Hong Kong Customs seized about 50kg of suspected smuggled amber, which it said had an estimated market value of about $1.5m, making the amber worth about $30 a gramme. The white amber, dealers say, can be sold to China for as much as $40 a gramme, and if the piece is really special, up to $50 or even $100 a gramme. That is more than the current market price of gold: about $41 a gramme.

Amber jewellery for adults has gone out of fashion in the west over the past decade, but necklaces for babies have become popular, having been lauded for their ability to relieve teething pain. But after a one-year-old was strangled, the US Food and Drug Administration put out a warning in December about the safety risks of such necklaces.

The authenticity of amber can be tested by burning, drilling into or even rubbing it. If genuine, it should give off a pinelike smell. It can also be tested to see if it floats in salt water (it should), while a UV lamp shone at it should show up as blue or green. Amber divers who go out to sea at night take UV torches with them.
russia  history  today  china  consumer  death  sea  diving 
march 2019 by aries1988
克里米亚战争:地缘与信仰的千年之战
19世纪时,欧洲的基督教国家与信奉伊斯兰教的奥斯曼帝国已经打了几百年的仗,是不共戴天的仇敌。然而在这场战争中,天主教国家法国和奥地利,联合新教国家英国,与信奉伊斯兰教的奥斯曼帝国携手,共同对抗东正教国家俄罗斯,这在过去是难以想象的。俄罗斯一直以东正教领袖自居,认为自己拥有上天赋予的神圣宗教使命,要把巴尔干地区同样信奉东正教的斯拉夫人从奥斯曼帝国手中“解放”出来。而在欧洲列强看来,虽然同属基督教家庭,一个野蛮、不开化、具有扩张性的俄罗斯所带来的威胁,甚至超过了已是奄奄一息的奥斯曼帝国。
origin  war  russia  uk  france  ukraine  medical 
january 2019 by aries1988
日本与沙俄之战:一战的东亚版本
为了鼓舞日本国民,从1968年开始,作家司马辽太郎在《产经新闻》发表连载小说《坂上之云》,以明治陆军“骑兵之父”秋山好古、被评为“智谋如涌”的海军参谋秋山真之、创作俳句《法隆寺》的诗人正冈子规为主人公,描绘了从明治维新到日俄战争的30余年历史,希望以一本“乐观主义者的故事”来唤醒日本国民对于重建战后日本的热情。“坂上之云”便比喻 当年的日本人一边追逐着“山坡上的云”一边前进,来自明治时代的昂扬感激励起战后日本人重新建设经济强国。

历史上被称为“第〇次世界大战”的战争有很多,如丘吉尔认为普鲁士同盟与法奥俄同盟之间的七年战争(1756-1763)是最早的世界大战,拿破仑战争(1803-1815)、普鲁士统一战争 (1864-1871)都有过类似称呼。相比之下,日俄战争(1904-1905)得获此名的逻辑更为直接:正如二战爆发由一战结束后的“分赃不均”及过度制裁德国而埋下种子,一战爆发的始源也来自于日俄战争后国际关系的变动。

随着日俄战争走向尾声,沙俄的实力进一步遭到削弱,不得不从中国东北与朝鲜半岛退出,英俄矛盾骤然减小;另一方面德奥同盟的力量愈发强大,法国在北非殖民地面临巨大挑战,只能寻求英国的支持,这也促使英国与法国的盟友——沙俄之间越走越近。

日俄战争本质上是英国与日本、沙俄与法国两大利益集团在远东的一次博弈,战争虽然以日本取胜、沙俄落败,但两大集团却成功形成相互认同,进而以互相认可势力范围、签订协约为基础,成立“协约国”集团。从这个角度讲,第一次世界大战并不是“三国协约”,而是包括日本在内的“四国协约”。

倒退回“三足鼎立”时代,如果没有沙俄与日本之间矛盾升级,欧洲的利益关系很可能出现另一种形态:事实上英德两国在1900年已经达成《扬子江协定》,规定双方在华利益范围;1901年德国甚至提出与英国、日本结为“三国同盟”。如果同盟成立,那么一战的对立形态就不再是“英法俄”对阵“德奥土”,而有可能变成“英德”对阵“俄法”,那无论一战的结果如何,20世纪乃至于现代历史的发展都会完全不同。
1900s  war  japan  russia  diplomacy  explained  ww1  europe  china 
september 2018 by aries1988
惑星之歌 | Pussy Riot:那群冲进球场的俄罗斯年轻人 – 中国数字时代

在晚期资本主义气息越来越浓厚的时代,大家不仅在今年的世界杯足球赛上看到了更加令人窒息的防守反击,对于抗议也似乎变得司空见惯,以至于不想再去思考背后的原因以及不再加以关注。但无论如何,她们冲进赛场的这一幕也让这次的决赛除了乌龙,点球,守门员注意力不集中被偷进球,和莫斯科的大于之外,让我们多了一个记住的理由。
worldcup  2018  russia  football  manifestation  dissident  politics  world  tv 
july 2018 by aries1988
Why I Taught My Son to Speak Russian | The New Yorker
As the psycholinguist François Grosjean stresses, language is the product of necessity. If a child discusses, say, hockey only with his Russian-speaking father, he may not learn until later how to say “puck” in English. But he’ll learn when he has to.

I see friends who came over at the same time as I did but didn’t keep up their Russian raising their kids entirely in English. Sometimes I feel sorry for them and all they’re missing; at other times, envious. They have finally liberated themselves from Russia’s yoke, just as their parents wanted them to. They are free to be themselves around their children, to express themselves with ease. They always know the words for scooter and goat and sheep.

Most of us were more comfortable in English than in Russian, and none of us had any wish to repatriate. Why, then, were we doing this? What did we want to pass on to our children, exactly? Certainly nothing about Russia as it is currently constituted. Perhaps it was fitting that we were listening to children’s songs.
english  russia  language  children  learn  story  song  memory  parents  angst 
june 2018 by aries1988
The Interpreter: How to tell if your president is a "strongman"
The country is run by a vast bureaucracy, divided among powerful institutions. Any individual official fits within a system of hierarchies and factions. The whole thing operates on norms that are authoritarian but at least consistent.
Mr. Xi is changing this system. He’s centralizing more authority for himself than a modern Chinese leader is supposed to have. He’s defying norms, like presidential term limits. He’s purging some officials who belong to opposing political factions. He’s borrowing some pages from the strongman playbook.
But! Mr. Xi is doing all of this within the existing political system. The Chinese state is still deeply institutionalized. He’s not changing that. He is of the system.
Personalist leaders tend to smash the system. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela treated much of the government as something to conquer or destroy. So did Mr. Putin.
china  2018  today  politics  comparison  russia  leader 
march 2018 by aries1988
How Digital Maps Have Changed What It Means to Be Lost
I was curious if others felt the same way, so I set about collecting more of these moments—memories of the last times people felt really, truly lost.

“I can sympathize with that romantic notion that wandering in an unfamiliar place is great because you never know what you might stumble on,” Mathis says. “But in practical terms, as a woman who often is out walking alone, I do have my guard up. I have my city face on. And the technology that we have now does make me feel like I can be self-sufficient almost anywhere. And that’s something I value.”

There are many ways to be lost. Some have declined due to technology; others are newly born. But in every situation, to be lost is to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is frightening, often dangerous, but it also breeds connection—with people, and with places. The maps people carry in their pockets can be a barrier to that connection, but they are also safety nets. And it’s easier to take a leap if you know there’s something at the bottom to catch you.
russia  story  travel  GPS  discovery  safety  street  city  night  lost  female  stranger 
february 2018 by aries1988
Meet the pirate queen making academic papers free online
She cared less about the form than the function: she wanted a global brain. To her, paywalls began to seem like the plaques in an Alzheimer’s-riddled mind, clogging up the flow of information.
academia  stans  story  science  piracy  female  leader  russia  today  idea  world  brain  knowledge  share 
february 2018 by aries1988
Stalin’s Lengthening Shadow

The authoritarian streak, excused by nationalism. The accusations of anti-state activities against the opposition. The constant references to conservative cultural values — Roman Catholic in Poland, Orthodox in Russia — and enrollment of religious leaders in the political fight. The difficulty in accepting pluralism. The appetite to control the media and civil society.
poland  urss  russia  europe  crisis  value  politics 
november 2017 by aries1988
Russia’s World Cup: a Putin own goal?
The thousands of visiting journalists (surely the largest foreign press contingent ever to spend a month in Russia) are likely to pump out the negative coverage that Russians call zloradstvo (evil-revelling). 

Doping wins Olympic medals but probably wouldn’t help much in skill-based, tactical football.
russia  image  world  politics  people 
november 2017 by aries1988
The return of Russian nationalism

The journalist Masha Gessen sees the rise of official nationalism as an intensely worrying sign for Russia’s future, raising the question of whether Putin’s regime now ticks the boxes of a “totalitarian” regime. Political violence? Check. Militarisation of the economy and political sphere? Check. Fusion of state and party? Check.

In terms of the scale of the project and the pervasiveness of political control, not to mention the body count, the Russian president seems to belong in the milder “authoritarian” category alongside Marcos, Mubarak, Pinochet and other tin-pot dictators of the postwar world. But Gessen makes a powerful case, arguing that Putin reconstituted the political and terror apparatus of the Soviet state and that ideology was the last block to fall into place.

The far right in Europe, fervently anticommunist during the cold war, came to regard US domination as the greater of two evils and now seek recognition by Russia as a counterweight to political isolation. Putin’s anti-gay policies, anti-multiculturalist rhetoric and conspiracy theories endear him to continental conservatives.

“Since Putin’s second term, Moscow increasingly positioned itself as a power whose legitimacy derived from alternative, illiberal political ideas, some of which clearly originate from the far right,” he writes.
russia 
october 2017 by aries1988
Red Famine by Anne Applebaum — enemies of the people
The famine was an instrument of targeted mass murder. As peasants were dying in the countryside, Stalin launched a brutal attack on the Ukrainian national idea itself. Since the 19th century, Moscow had been hostile towards national groups that challenged the unity of the Russian empire. In Ukraine, the Romanovs embarked upon a programme of accelerated Russification, suppressing local languages, gutting civil society, and depositing outsiders from remote parts of the empire into Ukraine’s towns and cities. Stalin’s “War on Ukraine” was the violent continuum of this quest for hegemony in Europe’s bloodlands. Along with the peasantry, it was directed at intellectuals, politicians, writers, priests and public officials — agents of the nation’s moral and political order.
book  russia  europe  history  1930s  disaster  politics  communism  death  debate 
october 2017 by aries1988
What Ever Happened to the Russian Revolution?

Now I’ve traveled enough in Russia that my affections are more complicated. I know that almost no conclusion I ever draw about it is likely to be right. The way to think about Russia is without thinking about it. I just try to love it and yield to it and go with it, while also paying vigilant attention—if that makes sense.

My way to travel is to go to a specific place and try to absorb what it is now and look closer, for what it was.

The Decembrists were young officers in the czar’s army who fought in the Napoleonic wars and found out about the Enlightenment and came home wanting to reform Russia.

Lenin informed his listeners that they had pioneered the international Socialist revolution, and would go forth into the world and proselytize the masses. It was an amazing vision, Marxist and deeply Russian simultaneously, and it helped sustain the despotic Bolsheviks, just as building St. Petersburg, no matter how brutal the cost, drove Peter the Great 200 years before. After Lenin, Russia would involve itself aggressively in the affairs of countries all over the world. That sense of global mission, soon corrupted to strategic meddling and plain troublemaking, is why America still worries about Russia today.

Rumor and street culture—jokes, postcards, sayings, bawdy plays performed in saloons—changed the image of the czar and the czarina, desacralized them, before and during the war. Empress Alexandra’s dependence on Rasputin, the so-called crazed monk, had catastrophic consequences. Tales of the czarina’s debauchery with Rasputin (completely untrue), and rumors of the czar’s impotence, and her supposed sabotage of the war effort because she was born in Germany, all undermined the Romanovs, until finally nobody could be too sad when the monarchy went away. People sent each other erotic postcards of the czarina with Rasputin, audiences howled laughing at plays about his supposed sexual power. It resembled modern defamation by social media, and it did great damage. I call it the ‘tragic erotics’ of Nicholas’ reign. If you loved Russia you were obliged to love your czar. People were saying, ‘I know I must love my czar, but I cannot.’

Tourists came through in a constant stream. Nearly all were holding up their phones and taking videos or photographs. Sometimes a tourist would stop in the middle of the room, hold the phone up with both hands in the air, and slowly turn in a circle so the video could pan the entire room. This slow, unself-conscious video-making rotation in the room’s center with arms upstretched happened over and over, a new century’s new dance.

In 1967, a New York Times editorial titled “Russia’s Next Half-Century” congratulated the Soviet Union for becoming “one of the world’s foremost economic, scientific, and military powers.” The Times said it looked forward to a prosperous future for the country, but added, “Russia’s leaders, surveying the changes of fifty hectic years, surely understand that the vision of a monolithic, uniform world—whether Communist or capitalist—is a fantasy.”

Whoever wrote it must have known that as an adjective to describe the Soviet half-century, “hec­tic” did not suffice. But you can also see the problem the editorial writer faced. What could be said about such horrors? The United States had never known what to make of its cruel, sly, opaque World War II ally turned Cold War enemy. America even tried to like Stalin for a while. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine 12 times.

Russia, the country itself, inhabits a spirit as well. The visible location of this spirit’s existence in the world used to be the czar. The United States is a concept; Russia is an animate being. I think Nicholas II understood this, and it’s why he believed so strongly that his countrymen needed the autocracy. Nicholas not only ruled Russia, he not only signified Russia, he was Russia.

Today, on Victory Day, marchers show up in the hundreds of thousands in every major Russian city bearing portraits of their relatives who served. These portraits, typically black-and-white photographs, keep to a single size and are attached to identical wooden handles like those used for picket signs. As a group the photos are called Bezsmertnii Polk, the Deathless Regiment.

The portraits in their endless numbers evoke powerful emotions as they stream by, especially when you glimpse a young marcher who looks exactly like the young soldier in the faded photograph he or she is carrying.

Individuals change history. There would be no St. Petersburg without Peter the Great and no United States of America without George Washington. There would have been no Soviet Union without Lenin. Today he might feel discouraged to see the failure of his Marxist utopia—a failure so thorough that no country is likely to try it again soon. But his political methods may be his real legacy.

Lenin showed the world how well not compromising can work. A response to that revolutionary innovation of his has yet to be figured out.
russia  travel  interview  city  tourist  history  today  revolution  communism  instapaper_favs 
october 2017 by aries1988
The Chinese are not coming to take over the Russian Far East
Despite signs of growing camaraderie between Beijing and Moscow – including drills in the Baltic and South China seas, and sales of advanced Russian-made…
rumor  chinese  siberia  population  immigration  future  russia 
august 2017 by aries1988
Back on his pedestal: the return of Friedrich Engels

Finally they came to Mala Pereshchepina, where the local authorities were only too glad to get rid of what was by now a legally toxic artefact.

The artist’s timing is impeccable. June’s UK general election saw a surge of support for the Labour party led by the far-left Jeremy Corbyn. Like Bernie Sanders in last year’s US Democratic primaries, this ageing socialist appealed first of all to the young.

Even now, when — for all the excesses of capitalism — the stark exploitation Engels evoked has disappeared in the western world, The Condition of the Working Class is an uncomfortable read. The homelessness of the rising generation; the precariousness of freelance work; the feared mass unemployment once artificial replaces human intelligence; the long, spiky tail of the banking collapse of 2008; the end of the postwar expectation that children will ascend further and richer than their parents — these are plausibly presented by the left as a 21st-century equivalent of the Condition of the Working, and even Middle Class of England, and the rest of the capitalist world.

It’s the only building left where Engels definitely was. He worked with Marx at a table, still there, with the books they both used. When I take Chinese visitors to see it, some of them cry.
uk  politics  communist  leader  thinking  russia  today  sculpture  economy  crisis  history  art  manchest  artist 
july 2017 by aries1988
Travels in Siberia—II
INSECTS Eleven days from St. Petersburg, Sergei Lunev, Volodya Chumak, and I were well into the swampy flatlands of western Siberia. It was the summer of 2001,…
instapaper_favs  russia  siberia  travel  life  nature 
june 2017 by aries1988
Development in Russia – Sasha Trubetskoy
Russia as a whole has made massive progress in the last 10 years, across education, health care and infrastructure. Large differences still persist between the poorest and most prosperous parts, and the recent slump in oil prices has slowed down development.

Moscow and St. Petersburg lead the pack—their indicators put them alongside countries like Italy and Greece. Were it not for a low life expectancy, the two cities would be on par with the US, Canada and Scandinavia.

Northern Siberia, especially Tyumen Oblast (darkest green), also gets a high score. While health and education indices in this region are about average for Russia, incomes here are very high thanks to investment by large energy and mining companies. Despite the awfully harsh climate, cities like Tyumen and Surgut are attracting thousands of people due to high-paying jobs.

The Caucasus region lags in development, particularly the Republic of Chechnya, which is still recovering from multiple wars. Development here is similar to countries like Ecuador or nearby Ukraine—low by Russian and European standards, but still considered “High” by the United Nations.

Areas of far western Russia like Pskov, Tver and Smolensk oblasts also lag behind. This may seem surprising, due to their proximity to the powerhouses of Moscow and St. Petersburg, but this is a curse rather than a blessing. Seeking opportunity, talented young people flocked to the capitals, leaving their home regions to decay.

The Far East, meanwhile, is a mixed bag. The island of Sakhalin, as well as Yakutia—Russia’s largest subject—are profiting from mineral wealth. But border regions near China and Mongolia and languishing, with little industry or opportunity to dissuade residents from moving west.
russia  numbers  region  today 
june 2017 by aries1988
Travels in Siberia—I
The Ural Mountains, which cross Russia north to south from the Arctic Ocean to Kazakhstan, are the western edge of Siberia. The Urals also separate Europe from Asia. As a mountain range with the big job of dividing two continents, the Urals aren’t much. It is possible to drive over them, as I have done, and not know. In central Russia, the summits of the Urals average between one thousand and two thousand feet. But after you cross the Urals the land opens out, the villages are farther apart, the concrete bus shelters along the highway become fewer, and suddenly you realize you’re in Siberia.

In much of Siberia, the land doesn’t do much of anything besides gradually sag northward to the Arctic. The rivers of western Siberia flow so slowly that they hardly seem to move at all. There the rivers run muddy; in eastern Siberia, with its real mountains and sharper drop to the Pacific, many of the rivers run clear.

Now and then, a passenger train goes by, and, if the time is summer and the weather, as usual, hot, many shirtless passengers are hanging from the open windows with the curtains flapping beside them. Not even the most luxurious car on the Trans-Siberian Railway offers air-conditioning.

To astronomers, Siberia provides the advantage of skies largely untroubled by light pollution and, in some places, cloud-free for more than two hundred days a year. Looking up at the clarity of the night in Siberia, you feel that you are in the sky yourself. Never in my life had I seen so many satellites and shooting stars.

Exile under the tsars could be a rather mild proposition, especially compared with what the Soviets later devised; during his exile Lenin received a government stipend of twelve rubles a month, which covered room and board along with extras like books. He was able to get a lot of reading done. All in all, Siberia seems to have agreed with Lenin splendidly, and seasoned him as a political thinker.

The first Russian ruler to style himself officially as tsar, Ivan IV (Ivan Grozny, Ivan the Fear-Inspiring, the Terrible), was also the first to add “Lord of All the Siberian Land” to his titles. He was able to do this because he had conquered the Tatar city of Kazan, a Muslim stronghold on the Volga River which had long blocked Russian moves eastward. With Kazan out of the way, Russian adventurers could go beyond the frontiers to previously unexplored lands across the Urals.

(Later, in my more uncertain moods, I wondered if my guides might be Ivan Susanin, and the Polish army might be me.)

Any stop sign in such a rural place in America (let alone a stop sign written in a foreign language) would likely have a few bullet holes.
humor  russia  siberia  travel  story  russian  history  geography  comparison  american 
june 2017 by aries1988
Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich on her fears for Russia’s ‘collective Putin’
Not only did many of the intellectuals of her generation lose their jobs, their savings and their ideals: they also experienced no catharsis, since no one from the former regime was ever brought to justice. I ask her if Russia might have turned out differently if there had been a trial of the Communist party. “I was convinced there should have been,” she says. But others, including her father, an ardent communist, disagreed. “He said it would have led to civil war,” she says. As a result there was no reckoning with the Soviet past, no Russian Nuremberg. “We missed our chance,” she says.
interview  russia  communism  intelligentsia  today  history  literature  zeitgeist  nation 
june 2017 by aries1988
Could Russia have avoided revolution in 1917?
The very different circumstances of 1917-18 were of decisive importance. In these years, Germany did everything it could to foster the cause of revolution — most famously by engineering Lenin’s return to Russia in the “sealed train”. For a year, while the Great War raged on, the Bolsheviks were able to consolidate their hold on the Russian heartland untroubled by foreign intervention. It was control over the resources and communications of this heartland that was the decisive factor in Bolshevik victory in the civil war.

the visions of a transformed and better world evident in cultural expression as well as in everyday lives. But the problem is that we know what comes next, as Stalinist terror not merely inflicted vast additional suffering on the Soviet peoples but also snuffed out most of the Revolution’s gains as regards cultural expression and female emancipation.
russia  history  revolution  ww1  germany  book  tsar 
february 2017 by aries1988
NATO on Twitter
“[VIDEO] Female tank commander from #Norway https://t.co/h1sBY6ZX1A”
nato  russia  tank  interview  norge 
february 2017 by aries1988
What Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ can teach us

The uncanny physical immediacy of War and Peace is the result of Tolstoy bringing together personal memory, family history and dense archival research into the making of his narrative.

Stylistically, it was also unlike anything anyone else had written before: raw, richly inelegant, sometimes directionless, bursting through the confines of good literary form yet stained on every page with the juice of life.

Tolstoy has us hear the overture to calamity through Rostov’s drowsy senses, as an obscure, distant hum and roar, the shapeless aaaa and rrrr of life into which we are inexorably pulled and through which we struggle, as best we can, to find a place of safety.
book  literature  reading  russia  story  personal  movie  love 
december 2016 by aries1988
What Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ can teach us

The uncanny physical immediacy of War and Peace is the result of Tolstoy bringing together personal memory, family history and dense archival research into the making of his narrative.

Stylistically, it was also unlike anything anyone else had written before: raw, richly inelegant, sometimes directionless, bursting through the confines of good literary form yet stained on every page with the juice of life.

Tolstoy has us hear the overture to calamity through Rostov’s drowsy senses, as an obscure, distant hum and roar, the shapeless aaaa and rrrr of life into which we are inexorably pulled and through which we struggle, as best we can, to find a place of safety.
russia  literature  reading  book 
december 2016 by aries1988
So Much Land, Too Few Russians - The New York Times
Russia urgently needs Chinese investments. In return, in the Far East’s southeast corner, China has made Russian land along the Amur River border a virtual colony, having secured the right for Chinese people to work there. In the last decade, huge tracts have been leased to China at rock- bottom prices. Nearly two million acres with gigantic pig farms and fields of soybean and corn are being worked by Chinese agribusinesses. Most recently, Moscow leased out about 300,000 acres in the Trans-Baikal region for 49 years. The price: $2 an acre and $368 million in promised investments.

Once a booming frontier town, it now resembles a typical 1970s-era Soviet city — drab, dilapidated, economically depressed. Its population is 216,000. Just across the river is the bustling Chinese city of Heihe, with gleaming new high-rises and a population nearly eight times that of Blagoveshchensk.
russia  comparison  china  siberia  manchuria  immigration  work  agriculture  2016 
september 2016 by aries1988
Utopian for Beginners

In his preface, Quijada wrote that his greater goal was to attempt the creation of what human beings, left to their own devices, would never create naturally, but rather only by conscious intellectual effort: an idealized language whose aim is the highest possible degree of logic, efficiency, detail, and accuracy in cognitive expression via spoken human language, while minimizing the ambiguity, vagueness, illogic, redundancy, polysemy (multiple meanings) and overall arbitrariness that is seemingly ubiquitous in natural human language.

What if, they wondered, you could create a universal written language that could be understood by anyone, a set of real characters, just as the creation of Arabic numerals had done for counting? This writing will be a kind of general algebra and calculus of reason, so that, instead of disputing, we can say that ‘we calculate,’ Leibniz wrote, in 1679.

seventeenth-century bishop and polymath, John Wilkins, who tried to actualize their lofty ideals. In his Essay Towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language, from 1668, Wilkins laid out a sprawling taxonomic tree that was intended to represent a rational classification of every concept, thing, and action in the universe. Each branch along the tree corresponded to a letter or a syllable, so that assembling a word was simply a matter of tracing a set of forking limbs until you’d arrived on a distant tendril representing the concept you wanted to express.

Wilkins’s taxonomic-classification scheme, which organized words by meaning rather than alphabetically, was not entirely without use: it was a predecessor of the first modern thesaurus.

the equally ambitious desire to unite the world through a single, easy-to-learn, politically neutral, auxiliary language

Among the Wakashan Indians of the Pacific Northwest, a grammatically correct sentence can’t be formed without providing what linguists refer to as evidentiality, inflecting the verb to indicate whether you are speaking from direct experience, inference, conjecture, or hearsay.

For Quijada, this was a revelation. He imagined that Ithkuil might be able to do what Lakoff and Johnson said natural languages could not: force its speakers to precisely identify what they mean to say. No hemming, no hawing, no hiding true meaning behind jargon and metaphor. By requiring speakers to carefully consider the meaning of their words, he hoped that his analytical language would force many of the subterranean quirks of human cognition to the surface, and free people from the bugs that infect their thinking.
language  story  linguist  russia  thinking  instapaper_favs 
august 2016 by aries1988
What makes train travel such an antidote to life’s stresses? | Aeon Essays
trains blurred the line between public and private. ‘Train travel requires people to do private things in public,’

And what’s fascinating about it is the possibility of being able to observe strangers. For women in particular who don’t have a lot of geographic mobility in urban spaces, riding on a train is as close as they can get to that flâneur experience of urban life – where you can sit and you can watch people and you can eavesdrop on conversations.’

When, several years ago, I returned to Russia after a long absence, I booked a 24-hour train journey for myself and my eight-year-old daughter from St Petersburg to Odessa in Ukraine. I wanted her to experience what I remembered: a whole day together, an uninterrupted passage of hours filled with books and conversations, an opportunity to spend time entirely on ourselves, by ourselves, and with ourselves.

Just like my mother more than 30 years earlier, I packed boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, bread, cheese and apples. We ate all three meals together without television, telephone or the internet. When the conductor brought tea – much like I remembered from the Sochi express times, with two cubes of sugar, in a classic railway cup – we drank it with sweets we bought at an intermediate stop, looked out of the window, and talked.
essay  train  travel  transport  story  russia  family  nostalgia  history  people  female 
july 2016 by aries1988
关于教育,中国人很少会质疑的信念_维舟_腾讯大家
反过来,在19世纪的俄国,社会的发展使许多贵族阶层的年轻人开始受到良好的文化教育,他们看到了俄国现状的不足与落后,也不是不想推动社会的发展,然而却发现根本没有适合他们发挥才能的职位,他们所受的教育虽好,却是与社会脱节而不被需要的,因而成了一群苦闷的所谓多余人,除了文化事业的进步外,似乎也并未推动国家的富强,俄国一如既往地大大落后于西欧。

教育发展仅是社会发展的一个必要但不充分的条件。像菲律宾和前苏联-俄罗斯这样,虽然培养出了高素质的人才,但本国社会的发展却使他们找不到用武之地,甚至博士研究员为了谋生被迫去开出租车,那在这些结构性的制度问题得到解决之前,仅仅提升人口的受教育水平是无法产生明显的经济效应的。
education  state  development  history  comparison  russia  fail  future  youth 
july 2016 by aries1988
European wargames
As Nato leaders prepare to meet in Warsaw, thousands of troops are engaged in large-scale military exercises on both sides of Russia’s border with Europe. Sam Jones reports
europe  war  russia  baltic 
july 2016 by aries1988
Putin bombs and the west blinks - FT.com
The contest at the Munich security conference pitted the ruthless cynicism of Vladimir Putin’s Russia against the indignant impotence of a divided Atlantic community. The outcome was never in doubt. Syria was always going to be the loser. Dmitry
usa  europe  russia 
february 2016 by aries1988
Russia: What You Didn't Know You Don't Know - Wait But Why
In general, I spent the whole time torn between whether he was fully a placebo-effect-inducing snake oil salesman or an actual magical man and I’ve been wrong about the world this whole time.

One sentiment that seemed pretty universal was an intense national pride and a yearning for Russia to not just be another European country, but a great world power. And there seemed to be a general frustration with the idea that the world parodies Russia as mean and vodka-drinking.
russia  story  travel 
december 2015 by aries1988
The Russia I Miss - NYTimes.com
That was because Russian culture had an unmatched intensity. It was often said that Russian thinkers addressed universal questions in their most extreme and illuminating forms.
culture  russia  opinion  essay 
september 2015 by aries1988
Latvian Region Has Distinct Identity, and Allure for Russia - NYTimes.com
Only about 100,000 people actually speak Latgalian. The authorities in Riga, Latvia’s capital, consider it a dialect of Latvian, not a separate language, and nobody is punished for speaking it.

He said there were no signs of separatist fervor in Latgale itself and described the Latgalian People’s Republic as an “artificial creation by outsiders.”

Eastern Ukraine also displayed no separatist fervor until Russian-backed gunmen in March 2014 seized government buildings in Donetsk, silenced local supporters of Ukraine’s central government and, aided by Russian state television, mobilized a previously passive population to the separatist cause.

He noted that regular rotations of NATO troops and aircraft through Latvia had sent a firm message to Moscow that “the risks would be tremendous” if it tried to copy its Ukrainian playbook in the Baltics.

The exercise was held in the center of town, a few yards from a bronze statue called United for Latvia, a monument to national unity that, over the decades, has been more an emblem of the tenuousness of power in these parts. Erected in 1939 during a short-lived Latvian republic, it was taken down when the Soviet Union annexed the Baltics in 1940, put back up in 1943 during the Nazi occupation, removed again in 1950 after Moscow regained control, then put back up again in 1992 after Latvia regained its independence.

Though there are no reliable opinion polls to gauge Latgale’s discontent, the region has many reasons to feel separate, set apart by its religion — Catholicism instead of the Lutheranism favored elsewhere in Latvia — its dying language and its distinct, often nightmarish history.

“We are the smallest community but have the biggest graveyard,” said Lev Sukhobokov, a local Jewish leader, showing a reporter the spot where Germans and their Latvian helpers staged a mass killing of Rezekne’s Jews in 1941.
russia  2015  baltic  geopolitics 
may 2015 by aries1988
How Russians Lost the War
What does Victory Day mean in a country that has enslaved its people?
opinion  russia  history  communism 
may 2015 by aries1988
What Russians really think - FT.com
May 9 highlights the chasm that has opened between Russia’s view of itself and perceptions elsewhere. While many European countries mark the day with Holocaust commemorations and appeals for peace and international understanding, the Russian emphasis is on military glory and the Red Army’s role in liberating Europe.

Rationally I think the Lithuanians have the right to establish their own identity and have their own views on this, but I wanted to say: ‘No, no, don’t talk so bad about the Soviet Union!

The Baltics had very little industry before the Soviet Union — we gave them everything. But now they are throwing it away.

any kind of reappraisal of wartime history is politically difficult because the conventional version has become so central to Russian national identity. Of course, they want to preserve the victory narrative and the perspective that the Soviet Union acted to the benefit of its neighbours, but you have to have a dialogue about these things

Stalin was our wartime leader, and for every Russian the second world war is an issue so close to the heart because every family lost someone in that war.
reportage  russia  people  interview  history  narrative  mentality  europe  2015 
april 2015 by aries1988
‘Out of My Mouth Comes Unimpeachable Manly Truth’
The evening news on Rossiya 1 starts off with Ukraine. The anchors of the three networks are a clan of attractive, dead-eyed men and women. They speak in the same unshakable “out of my mouth comes unimpeachable manly truth” tone that Putin uses in his public addresses, sometimes mixing in a dollop of chilly sarcasm. Their patter has a hypnotic staccato quality, like a machine gun going off at regular intervals, often making it hard to remember that they are moving their mouths or inhaling and exhaling oxygen.

Few Russian families escaped unscathed from Hitler’s onslaught, and Nazi imagery, which remains stingingly potent, is invoked frequently and opportunistically, as a way of keeping historical wounds fresh.
russia  people  leader  tv  opinion  media 
february 2015 by aries1988
Le schiste, roi du pétrole
En lançant la révolution du gaz et du pétrole de schiste, les Américains ont fait d’une pierre deux coups : relancer leur économie et enrichir leur panoplie stratégique d’une arme supplémentaire.

Autrement dit, le calcul américain consistait à parier sur la baisse des prix du brut pour faire plier le Kremlin, déjà étranglé par les sanctions. Et ce pari n'était pas hasardeux, puisque les Etats-Unis eux-mêmes, ayant augmenté leur production de pétrole de 80 % en six ans, sont en grande partie à l'origine de la chute des prix. En lançant la révolution du gaz et du pétrole de schiste, qui a réussi au-delà de leurs espérances, les Américains ont fait d'une pierre deux coups : elle leur a permis de relancer leur économie et a enrichi leur panoplie stratégique d'une arme supplémentaire. S'agissant de M. Poutine, le pari n'est pas gagné puisque bien qu'à la tête d'un pays affaibli, il n'a pas, pour l'instant, cédé à la pression. Mais la vulnérabilité de l'économie russe est incontestable.

Dans les années 1980, les pays du Golfe avaient réagi à la concurrence du pétrole de la mer du Nord en baissant leur production. Echec sur toute la ligne, prix et parts de marché. Les cheikhs ont juré qu'on ne les y reprendrait plus. Ils abordent 2015 arc-boutés sur leurs parts de marché face au schiste, " quel que soit le prix ", a promis le ministre Al-Naimi.

Les cheikhs, assis sur leurs très confortables réserves, attendraient donc tout simplement que les prix baissent jusqu'au point où les producteurs américains y laisseront leur chemise, car l'extraction du pétrole de schiste revient plus cher que celle du brut conventionnel.
today  geopolitics  usa  middle-east  russia  oil&gas 
january 2015 by aries1988
Making Merkel Wait, Finding Time for Truffles
President Vladimir V. Putin kept Chancellor Angela Merkel waiting for hours, met after 2 a.m. with Silvio Berlusconi, and joked at a news conference, but budged little on the Ukraine crisis.

If Mr. Putin is easy to caricature, with his macho photo ops, posing shirtless in the Russian wilderness, for instance, his style underpins a method. Even with Russia’s economy steadily grinding downward, with a recession looming and the ruble hitting new lows almost daily, Mr. Putin is wildly popular at home, using the state press to stir up a nationalistic fervor that has sown unease in the West, but that has created broad public support for his Ukraine policies within Russia.
russia  today  leader  story 
october 2014 by aries1988
'They raped every German female from eight to 80'
One can only scratch at the surface of the psychological contradictions. When gang-raped women in Königsberg begged their attackers afterwards to put them out of their misery, the Red Army men appear to have felt insulted. “Russian soldiers do not shoot women,” they replied. “Only German soldiers do that.” The Red Army had managed to convince itself that because it had assumed the moral mission to liberate Europe from fascism it could behave entirely as it liked, both personally and politically.
history  russia  germany  book 
september 2014 by aries1988
The Dying Russians by Masha Gessen
But the two-and-a-half decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union are the longest period of depopulation, and also the first to occur, on such a scale, in peacetime, anywhere in the world.
russia  today  history  life  death  story 
september 2014 by aries1988
张明扬 : 晚清恐俄症 _ 腾讯 · 大家
在薛福成的版本中,除了俄国是秦国之外,英国是实力足以与秦国一决高低的楚国,法国是享乐主义的齐国,德国是尚武的赵国,美国是偏远的燕国,奥匈帝国和意大利这两个二流列强则是韩国和魏国,最搞笑的是,日本被视作战国时代最为好战的小国——中山国。至于中国,薛福成虽然很有自知之明的没有将祖国列入“战国七雄”之中,却给比附成了东周,“中国尚文德而不竞武力,颇有宗周气象”,暗含的意思是,中国虽然是个弱国,但和东周一样,还是天下正统所在,是天子呆的中央之国。
russia  china  history  opinion 
february 2014 by aries1988
俞天任 : 瞎侃几个中文和日文的外来语 _ 腾讯 · 大家
日语中对汉字没有汉语和韩语中那种汉字必须单音节的规定,而是想怎么读就怎么读,这个字的读音居然是“KON-KU-RI-TO” (コンクリート)。总觉得这个读音有点耳熟,想了想才想起来英语中的混凝土就是concrete。
内地各地使用的外来语的数量和语源随历史而又很大不同,像东北就留下来了不少俄语的外来语,像管警察局叫“笆篱子” ,发动机叫“马神”,面包叫“列巴” ,下水道井叫“马葫芦”什么的。我是上海人,知道因为上海原来有点半殖民地的味道,所以上海话中外来语不少。特别是现在六七十岁以上的上海人开口说话,一开口不当心就会带出来一个外来语单词。
“沙发”、“咖啡”、“凡士林”、“摩托”、“引擎”这些全国都用的不算,比如上海人叫弹子门锁叫“斯别灵”,手杖叫“司蒂克”,日光灯启动器叫“司达特”,脸叫“翻司”,汽油叫“加索林”,水泥叫“水门汀”,暖气叫“热水汀”,小提琴叫“凡哑铃”,水龙头叫“凡尔”,歌舞厅叫“卡巴莱”,等等等等,数不胜数。
日本和中国一样,在开国之后都有一个如何用已有的文字符号系统来表示新涌进来的大量政治,社会和技术的新信息的问题,也就是一个如何表示外来语的问题。
中国外来语的使用程度随地区不同而不一,香港,澳门,台湾最厉害,因为都有过做殖民地的历史原因,留下了大量英语,葡萄牙语和日语的外来语。
几千年来,在中国和周围的儒家文化圈里借鉴使用汉字的国家除了中国日本之外还有朝鲜越南等几个国家,但只有日本这个学生最用功。在人们心目中日语表示外来语很方便,“用片假名就是了”。实际上这也只是二战之后日本人的一种做法,早先的日本人,特别是明治年间的日本人并不是这样的。他们用他们所熟悉的汉字来表示这些信息,他们融会贯通西方文化创造了大量的新汉字词组并通过中国近代的新文化运动对中国进行反哺。
是鸦片战争之后大量去日本学习的中国留学生们把日语中的这些外来语带回来的,托他们的福,我们今天有了“政府”和“共和”,也有了“物理”和“化学”,当然还有“混凝土”这样很好理解的单词,也有“瓦斯”这样不知所云的单词。不管怎样,从这些词组的翻译中不得不赞叹那些日本文化学者深厚的汉学底蕴及对西方文化的理解深度。有人说日本人不管学什么东西到最后都能比老师弄得更好,这种说法似乎没多大错,就连日本人弄起汉字起来也起码也不比中国人差。
英语中的“information”和“intelligence”在日文中都是“情报”,在政治军事领域实在遇到不区分不行的时候就直接了当地用片假名外来语,很有点“既然无法让你搞明白就干脆把你搞糊涂”的意思。但实际上这两个字的意思是不一样的,前者中文译为“信息”,指的是断片的事实和知识和获得这些事实和知识的过程,后者才译为“情报”,是一个从得到的信息中勾画出对象全貌的过程。当时的防卫厅和自卫队都坚决支持通产省,说当年太平洋战争的时候把这两个字混为一谈吃过的苦头实在太多了。
japan  culture  china  russia  shanghai  language 
july 2013 by aries1988
俞天任 : 有一个邻居叫俄罗斯(下) _ 腾讯 · 大家
俄国这次出兵占领满洲的直接后果就是发生了日俄战争。依靠甲午战争后大清的两亿三千万两白银赔款中的几乎一大半增强起来的日本联合舰队把俄国远东,波罗的海和黑海这三个舰队全给灭了两个。别看普京一开口就是“俄罗斯只有两个盟友,那就是陆军和海军”,实际上他们只有陆军。一个国家的主力舰队被消灭以后再重建海军是几乎不可能的。经过日俄战争以后,一直到现在俄国实际上是没有海军的国家。就是在冷战时期,苏维埃红海军也从来就没有让美国海军头疼过。
应该着重指出在沙俄大军进入满洲的同时在黑龙江东岸制造的“江东64屯惨案”,这个惨案的性质特别恶劣。江东64屯大屠杀不是发生在战时,江东64屯所在的地方都不能算“被占领地区”,就算根据不平等的《中俄爱晖条约》,那地方也已经在几十年前划归了俄国,这种大规模屠杀侨民的行动,用现在的语言就是“种族净化”。现在要到俄国远东地区去找土著黄种俄罗斯人,不比找大熊猫或者东北虎更加容易。
russia  history  diplomacy 
july 2013 by aries1988
Russia Wasn't Built in a Day
Truly modern countries -- those that have achieved a highly developed democratic capitalism -- do not magically become modern. They evolve. Skyscrapers and nuclear weapons are not causes of progress, but consequences of it. They emerge organically. There is little about Russia today that is organic, which is to say market-driven, natural, of the people. Almost everything is top-down.
russia 
may 2013 by aries1988
中东路事件 - 维基百科,自由的百科全书
中东路事件后,对中国造成了深远的影响,中国知道以当时的军力,同时对抗入侵蒙古的苏联和意图入侵满洲的日本,是暂时无法办到的。苏联势力的扩张使日本关东军更加急迫的想在满洲采取行动,而东北军的迅速溃败,暴露了东北军外强中干的实际情况,也坚定了关东军在东北采取行动的信心。两年后(1931年),日本便发动九一八事变。
history  China  russia  japan  minguo  wiki 
january 2013 by aries1988
法国名人钟爱俄罗斯的历史渊源 - 纽约时报中文网 国际纵览
与这些言论放在一起,德帕迪约对俄罗斯民主的评论大部分都很傻。但这些说法也有其历史根源。从开明专制到绝对专制,再到苏维埃共产主义,俄罗斯就像一面荧屏,让法国得以把自己关于意识形态或仅仅是特立独行的梦想投射在上面。对于真正经历过这些梦想的人来说,它们简直是噩梦,当然,俄罗斯领导人才不管这些。
googlereader  russia  france 
january 2013 by aries1988
穿越西伯利亚的无产阶级列车 - 纽约时报中文网 国际纵览
在过去的三个小时里,在这片森林里我们没有看到一条路、一个村庄或者一个人。望着窗外,我不能想象世界上还有哪个地方能如此原始,没有人烟,唯一能看到的就是横贯大陆的铁路线。有几处,火车线的地势高于森林,我们就能看到白雪覆顶的大山,在绿色的地平线上方闪耀。米拉说的对;在这条不可思议、不切实际却宏伟而美丽的铁路线上穿越西伯利亚广袤的荒野,有一种不可否认的浪漫。
googlereader  train  russia  travel 
october 2012 by aries1988
【果壳探索】1000万亿的钻石,来自哪里?
千百万年过去,陨石坑早已静静地凝固在了西伯利亚雪原的凛凛的寒风中,虽然我们无法直观想象出当年那震撼天地的大冲撞究竟给地表带来了怎样的末日景象,但我们却依然能从它给今日的人们带来的数字中间,窥见到那撼世宏力的浩渺一斑——在Popigai陨石坑的冲击中心,方圆580平方公里范围内的碳质全部发生相变,形成一颗颗精美的钻石。而被撞击的可能是一个巨大的石墨矿,因而粒粒钻石如星辰般散落在西伯利亚亘古的冰原,从此为地球的历史上烙下了这片漫天闪烁的永恒之晶。
googlereader  science  money  future  russia 
september 2012 by aries1988
Putin is Already Dead
The sweeping protests that have riled Moscow signal the end of Russia's strongman, but the real gains will require millions to adopt the project of democracy and dignity.
http://www.instapaper.com/read/249497461
russia  democracy 
august 2012 by aries1988
1986:切尔诺贝利事故发生之初专家的判断
1986年4月26日苏联乌克兰境内发生的切尔诺贝利核电站事故,当时媒体在事故发生的第一周是怎样报道的,专家又是怎样判断其后果的呢?
history  russia  nuclear  accident 
march 2011 by aries1988

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