As we know, the first time Russia got to host the Olympic Games was in 1980. Turns out, at home we’ve got quite a collection of the Olympic memorabilia, which I’ve now collated into a PDF document. What awaits you inside are postcards, tourist materials (phrasebooks etc.), advertising materials of the Soviet Railways, perpetual calendars until the year 2000, mascots and badges. Regarding mascots, apart from the famous Mishka there was also a Seal that represented Tallinn, Estonia where the sailing competitions were held. There is also a sleeve for a Russian adaptation of Pablo Neruda’s Xoaquin Murieta’s at the Lencom Theatre. My parents went to see it in early 1980, and bought a vynil disk that had already been adorned with the Olympic symbol. Browse the PDF, ask questions, and I’ll find you the answers.
I was born in the year when Russia (then the USSR) hosted its first ever Olympic Games. And I know about the scandal that surrounded the Games. I successfully celebrated the opening in front of the telly, dancing in my mum’s tummy to the tune of Kalinka. The Olympics are not the reason why I came to like the winter sports, but I’ll have another post for that.
Tomorrow, February 7th, the Games open again, this time in Sochi. Lots of scandals are brewing this time. The instances of corruption at the construction stage, incorrect translations, “uncovered” loos with two water closets behind one door, not to mention the infamous “anti-gay law”. And a revolutionary Maidan in the Ukraine. Although Russia has announced the Olympic truce, the example of the Beijing Olympics when an armed conflict between Russia and Georgia had burst out proves that, when some forces are hell bent on having their way, the age-long tradition is no excuse to postpone the plan. I hope this is not the case this time.
I have changed jobs in autumn last year, and I can honestly say that one of the reasons for looking to move was a continuous disdain of the Olympic effort in the company and the support given to the voices who wanted to sabotage the Olympic Games. I certainly have my own criticism of the regime, and the Russian Orthodox Church, and God knows what else in Russia, but you won’t see me trying to bring down an amazing international event organised and presented by my country.
The reason is simple: what sportsmen do throughout their career is so much more important and inspiring than the work of many a contemporary politician. We tend to discuss and decry the payments of sportsmen, but in the world where a politician easily appears in a nude photoshoot and becomes a member of the Parliament for rather obscure reasons it’s great to see someone working on themselves, competing, winning, losing, and still keeping their determination to win. It’s an amazing victory over one’s weaknesses, an ability to make your strengths serve you right, while adhering to and displaying the best human qualities and values. The Olympics have changed considerably over the decades, today it’s an advertising opportunity for the country, so the money ethos is omnipresent to a bigger or lesser extent wherever the Games are held. It’s strange that you do need to be paid zillions to showcase your best qualities and to inspire others, but considering that those values are priceless, perhaps it makes sense to pay a little extra to see them applied in real life.
However, these people have dedicated their lives to sport, training, and competition. It is unreasonably selfish to want to deny them the chance to add more medals and tropheys to their collection, to strengthen their reputation, and to continue their work in the chosen field. So, for the next three weeks all I care about is the performance of the athletes, and not about money. And, of course, I sincerely hope Yevgeny Pluschenko wins his Olympic Gold.
Anyway, I’m happy and proud Russia is the host of the Olympic Games in 2014, and I strongly believe we will be able to deliver a great performance as a national team and to ensure that other sportsmen also perform to their best level. The rest can eat snow 😉
The book I’m sharing may be of more interest to my Russian-speaking readers who will be able to understand the text. I hope, though, everyone of you likes illustrations by S. Ostrov to the story by Ye. Ozeretskaya about an Ancient Greek boy who once visited the Olympic Games.
As I taught History this year and had to occasionally revise different topics, I rediscovered SlideShare as a place to find some spectacular presentations on History topics. Admittedly, some are lame, but if you search well enough you may be granted with a few that are just very, very informative.
Russia is going to mark the beginning of the WW1 for the first time in all these years. Lenin concluding a separate peace with Germany at Brest-Litovsk and thesubsequent victory of the Bolsheviks meant that for the next 70-odd years the Great War was called “imperialist” (not that it was not true, in fact) and never “celebrated”. I doubt Russian part in it was studied well because it was the Tsarist Russia’s war effort.
Not wanting to jump on the bandwagon on the year of the centenniary but obviously wanting to participate in some way, the country has joined the “we remember the Great War” movement in 2013. I posted photos from the memorial World War One park in Moscow in June, and most recently MSN Russia posted a collection of colour photos produced at the frontlines of the First World War by the French cameramen of Albert Kahn’s studio.
So, just in case you were forgetting why the conflict had started in the first place, who were the participants, etc., here is a very detailed presentation by Dan Ewert I found on SlideShare. There are over 180 slides packed to the brim with facts, figures, and photos. Overall, it is a great resource, especially if you are high school student or teacher reading this.
A beautiful synopsis from Scribd:
“This newly discovered short story by one of the greatest writers of twentieth-century American literature, F. Scott Fitzgerald, will surprise and delight. Thank You for the Light is a masterfully crafted story—spare, strange, and wonderful, albeit a departure from Fitzgerald’s usual style. A widowed, corset saleswoman, Mrs. Hanson, whose chief pleasure in life is cigarettes, discovers that social disapproval of smoking is widespread in her new sales territory. Deprived of this simple comfort, she receives solace, and a light, from an unexpected source. Fitzgerald originally submitted the story to The New Yorker in 1936, four years before his death, but it was rejected. The editors said that it was “altogether out of the question” and added, “It seems to us so curious and so unlike the kind of thing we associate with him and really too fantastic.” Almost eighty years later, Fitzgerald’s grandchildren found the story among his papers and the Fitzgerald scholar James West encouraged them to send the story to the magazine once again. This time around the magazine decided to publish it, and now it is available in this special eBook edition”.
I hope you are having a wonderfully scary Halloween. In Russia, only 9% celebrate this holiday. Halloween — 11 Antique Postcardshttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/354863/content?start_page=1&view_mode=book&access_key=cace9vkzirlu0
A few months ago I came across an article in the Russian media about the favourite fairy tale characters among Russians. Turns out, ladies still prefer a Cinderella story, waiting for a Knight-in-Shining-Armour to sweep them over and away to his beautiful castle. And gentlemen relish another fairy-tale – that of Yemelya guy who sat on the Russian oven and by chance caught a pike that subsequently provided him with many a marvel and a good wife as a bonus.
As you can see, the two tales are poles apart, and there is little wonder that often people cannot make either dream come true. A man is happy to sit and wait for his pike, while a woman waits for the Prince Charming.
You may ponder as to how true this rings to your own country, but here is the Russian fairy tale in English.
As you gathered from previous post, I can now blog from my mobile phone. Don’t be surprised: in all 6 years I blogged from PCs, notebooks, and netbooks, sometimes even at the Internet cafes, but never from a mobile phone. One thing I should sadly mention is that the mobile version of Blogger doesn’t have an option to add a hyperlink. It also suggests I type in the names of Labels, which is not at all convenient. I suppose I can do formatting myself, but it’s not ideal for blogging on the go. At least, now the Blogger team has feedback 😉
It was hard to keep up with the blogging tempo I had last year, but there’re plenty of great things I can share. Last year I translated a book from English into Russian on the subject of children’s puberty. This year it was finally published and is already sold in Moscow bookstores. Not only am I a published author now, I’ve got a translated book under my belt, too.
Next, wherever you are in the world, interested in Russia but not wanting to be spoon-fed any kind of propaganda about this country, welcome to Russia-InfoCentre. Since 2001 this English-language e-zine, produced entirely by Russian citizens, has been serving the global audience who wanted to learn more about Russian culture, business, arts, travel opportunities, etc. There are also two sections on the site that provide encyclopaedic articles about Russian famous people and cities and regions of the country. When I decided to stay in Moscow for a period of time, I began to look for opportunities to tell people about Russia as it really is, behind the headlines, official sources, misconceptions, and the Cold War era propaganda. Russia-IC and I found each other, and I’ve been a part of their team since May 2011. It gives me a great pleasure to invite you to subscribe to their news and article RSS feeds and to follow them on Facebook or Google Plus.
I’ve moved my personal information to http://avidadollars.org/, where people can also contact me and which I am updating with my news.
Back to mobile blogging, I will now be able to share Moscow photos straight to LCJ, although I’ll probably have to add FourSquare and Qype recommendations manually on PC.
By the way, many thanks to Qype Team who commended my review of the Old Trafford Stadium last month. In August I contributed several more Moscow landmarks, their reviews and photos, and even became a champion of a few hotspots! As a matter of fact, some reviews and photos have gone places, like this review of the Beacon of Hope in Manchester’s Sackville Gardens. I’m very pleased to have been Qype’s contributor since 2010.
After a quick visit to Manchester in February this year I’ve not travelled anywhere – and then went first to Kaluga Region in early August, then to Pskov Region in late August, and spent the most wonderful evening enjoying the famous Gorky Park. I’ve painstakingly documented all these trips in my hand-written diary, in addition to taking photos. And I’m already planning the next trip, which, if I make it happen, should become a long-relished cherry on the cake.
What else should I say? I wrote this on Facebook and I can only repeat again: this August I deeply felt how happy and lucky I was with all close friends, family members who back me and support me, with great friends I’ve made through social networks or with whom I maintain contact via the same networks. I’m grateful to them for bearing with me 🙂 and for being what they are.
After all is really said and done… welcome to September!
|Walking in the rain in Moscow (Credit: Julia Shuvalova 2012)|
Article first published as Joseph Stalin Meets Social Media: Russia Remembers the Great Terror on Blogcritics.
The year 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of Stalin’s Great Terror. On July 2, 1937, Joseph Stalin signed the resolution that ordered an immediate arrest, trial, and sentencing of any active “kulaks” and criminals. The sentence often was a death penalty performed by firing a gun into one’s nape. If not killed, people were sent to the labour camps, including the infamous Gulag. Their homes were ravaged and parents and children were separated, the latter carrying the stigma of their parents’ “treachery” for years, until the rehabilitation.
These were not the only outcomes of the years of repression. By sending multitudes of statesmen, men-at-arms and scientists to jail or the deathblock, Stalin practically decapitated Russian armed forces ahead of Hitler’s invasion. The attempt to secure the power cost the improbable losses at the start of the Great Patriotic War.
Stalin died in 1953. The year 1954 saw the famous defamation of Joseph the Terrible, and for a while he remained just one of the Russian leaders of the Soviet time. Then perestroika began, with all its notorious revisions of the Soviet past, and Stalin came back to life, figuratively speaking, as a symbol of strength of the Russian state, the symbol of power and fear.
This ambiguity in attitude toward Stalin continues to this day and is unlikely to ever subside. Both supporters and haters choose to see but one side of the coin: Stalin is either a strong leader who secured Russia’s place in the international arena, or a ruthless dictator and murderer who orchestrated the purges, repressions, the war, and who knows what else.
Such are the opinions of the older generations of Russians. Yet there are younger people who are extremely susceptible to brainwashing, as are many youngsters. History teaching at schools has deteriorated in the last ten years, while the number of popular books that cite sometimes fictional, or at best unreliable, sources has grown. Younger generations are practically caught between the lack of knowledge and historical chimeras, and this needed tackling.
The Organisation for the Victims of Illegal Political Repressions thought they had a cracking idea. Since Russian youngsters spend their time browsing YouTube, Facebooking and Twittering, there was no better way to alert them to the problem of political repression than through the use of those familiar symbols. So seven posters appeared, each comparing Stalin to one of the social media services.
As witty as it was, the project backfired. The Facebook group comments indicated that people did not consider the use of social media appropriate. One user stated that “this could be used against anyone”, and in many ways he is right. Those who denounce Stalin for purges found the posters “too funny” for the occasion. Some still pointed out that the campaign managed to create a rather positive image of Stalin.
Incidentally, in Russia and elsewhere social media continue to be vilified. Be it the time they consume, the sharing opportunities they offer, or the data they request at registration, all attract criticism from those who think they are a dangerous loss of time. “Stalin is like Facebook: he urged to share information” sounds more like a pun on Facebook than on Stalin.
One is puzzled at the fact that Google is nowhere to be seen in this campaign. You may put it down to Russia’s love for Yandex. The Yandex poster parodies its slogan: instead of “Find everything” it is “Find everyone”. Meanwhile, both Yandex and Google, especially the latter, provide a wealth of information on people in search engine results pages (SERPs), whereby “find everyone” is not even funny anymore.
One cannot predict whether or not the campaigners have succeed at educating younger audiences about the atrocities of Stalinism. What is true is that in the long run this has been a most intelligent and witty PR campaign. Perhaps its cleverness and plays on words will be the reasons why it is not a massive hit: masses rarely enjoy subtle jokes. But those who are capable of appreciating the subtlety will see the point of Orwell’s 1984: be it Stalin or social media, Big Brother is watching you.
|Stalin is like Apple: he cost a lot|
|Stalin is like Facebook: he urged to share information|
|Stalin is like Foursquare: he showed each their place|
|Stalin is like Twitter: he was brief|
|Stalin is like vKontakte: he captured millions|
|Stalin is like Yandex: he sent queries|
|Stalin is like YouTube: he allowed to load and send|
Newton can rest on his laurels all he likes, but it looks like the most popular – as in pop-culture terms – discovery belongs to Dmitry Mendeleev. The story has it that the great Russian chemist eventually dreamt his entire periodic table of chemical elements, which is not surprising, considering how long he’d been working on its arrangement.
Little would he know that this scheme would inspire:
1. SEO community (SearchEngineLand)
You can download the Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors in PDF.
|Image: Search Engine Land.|
2. Students of foul language (via Modern Toss)
Back in 2007 I told you a tearful story of my trying to compile a list of negative keywords for an AdWords campaign. I have been reading Henry Miller since 2000, and throughout my 7 years in the UK and now 1.5 years in Russia I’ve been open to all sorts of words and expressions. Since I use public transport and attend social functions, I don’t really have a choice. Now I put my hands down, my friends: the majority of phrases in the Periodic Table of Swearing has to this day been unknown to me. It looks like my foul vocabulary didn’t grow beyond individual words and maybe two or three best known expressions. I no longer know what to think, although I suspect it’s best to have something to discover in life…
|Image: Forever Geek|
3. Internet Fans (via Wellington Grey)
Not unlike SearchEngineLand, but much earlier, Wellington Grey painstakingly assembled the Internet resources, as they were in 2007. I’d imagine the table needs a revision and a new edition, but as a piece of history it’s lovely and brings back good memories (and it doesn’t know Yandex as a search engine!)
Here’s another thing I need to discover, but if you know your memes, you’ll surely appreciate what you see.
Do you know your Lucinda from Arial Sans Serif? Somehow using the Periodic Table of Typefaces suddenly made me see the difference between most typefaces. Behance.net has also got Spanish and Portuguese versions of the PTT.
Can you think of other Periodic Tables that need doing?
Klout.com has generously offered me a chance to participate in making a quilt to fight AIDS. There is a conspiracy theory about AIDS. The proponents argue that AIDS has been designed by one of the American departments as THE biological weapon. The death of Freddie Mercury was actually an orchestrated murder to spread the horror and to behead the rock’n’roll.
It may or may not be true, but it does not change the fact that a lot of people contract AIDS and die from it daily. Along the way they also contract other people, sometimes – as in Africa – they use children in an attempt to save themselves. However AIDS came about, it is the plague that, like cancer, has already consumed zillions of lives and is hungry for more.
I’m glad to have taken part in this Fight Aids initiative, alongside many celebrities, including Annie Lennox, Ellen DeGeneris, and Oprah Winfrey. Below is my quilt and my statement: “Fighting AIDS means alleviating poverty, providing better healthcare, and free advice and education. If this should be the stick and the magic wand that help turn and change the planet, then Let It Be“.