Archive | April, 2004
April 26, 2004

Chernobyl’s 18th Anniversary


On April 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine experienced a catastrophic failure and resulted in the worst nuclear power disaster in history. The disaster was due to a flawed reactor design and poorly trained plant personnel. The amount of radiation released was at least 100 times that of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs combined, and an area nearly half the size of Colorado was contaminated by the accident.


Over 600,000 emergency workers (referred to as “liquidators”) were drafted to clean up the disaster site and build a sarcophagus over the failed reactor. Robots that were brought in to remove the chunks of highly radioactive reactor fuel broke down, and Soviet military conscripts eventually did the job themselves by collecting the radioactive fuel by hand.

Although Western scientists detected high levels or radiation spreading across Northern and Western Europe, the Soviets continued to deny that an accident had occured at Chernobyl. It wasn’t until April 28 – two days after the disaster – that the Soviet government ackowledged an accident had taken place.

Evacuations of the affected areas were slow to occur, and the Soviet government continued to treat the disaster as if it were a relatively minor accident. The Soviet press focused mainly on the upcoming May Day celebrations, and when they actually reported on the Chernobyl accident, they were more concerned with the “lies” and “propaganda” that the West was using to describe the accident.

In the end, over 300,000 residents were evacuated from their homes in the contaminated zone and moved to safer ground. An estimated 25,000 people have died since the incident, and tens of thousands of Ukrainians and Belorussians suffer from radiation related sicknesses.

In December 2000, Chernobyl’s last remaining reactor was finally switched off.
This website has some amazing pictures of what the area surrounding Chernobyl looks like today. Seriously, check it out…very interesting…the photos of the abandoned houses and school in Pripyat are particularly haunting. (Update: I took a trip to Chernobyl in July 2007)

Oddly enough, the most popular keyword that brings people to my site is “chernobyl.” I was kind of perplexed because I had never posted anything about Chernobyl before, but then it occured to me that visitors were doing a Google image search for “chernobyl” and were coming across a picture of the cafeteria food at SPbSPU, which we fondly referred to as “Chernobyl Chicken.”

April 23, 2004

What not to do at your terrorism trial

When a jury finds you guilty of attempting to commit an act of terrorism, it would probably be a good idea if you refrain from saying “When I return, I will blow you all up” after the verdict is read…you wouldn’t want that to come up at your parole hearings, now would you?

Russia’s first unsuccessful Chechen female suicide bomber was convicted of terrorism on April 5th. Zarema Muzhakhoyeva was arrested after she backed out of a suicide bombing at a restaurant on Moscow’s main street, Ulitsa Tverskaya, last July. After a jury found her guilty, she declared “When I return, I will blow you all up”. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Mrs Muzhakhoyeva, whose husband died in the Chechnya conflict, said that she attempted to attract attention by sticking out her tongue at security guards at a restaurant, after deciding not to go through with the attack. Someone eventually called the police, who arrested Mrs Muzhakhoyeva. A sapper working with the federal security services was killed when he unsuccessfully tried to defuse the bomb she was carrying.The Economist

April 22, 2004

I hereby grant you freedom of speech

So I’ve been playing around with Movable Type, and I decided to enable the comment feature. I thought by enabling it that it would automatically add the comments feature to all my past entries, but I guess it doesn’t do that…maybe there’s a way to do it, but I’m too lazy to look it up. Anyways, I’ll enable them on a few recent entries and see how this works out…so say hello or something, eh?

I don’t have to go to work tomorrow…woohoo!

April 20, 2004

Band of Brothers

I finally caved in and picked up the Band of Brothers DVD set. If you haven’t seen Band of Brothers, you need to. It is an HBO mini-series based on Stephen Ambrose’s non-fiction bestseller about Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division and the role they played in World War II.

The cast is excellent, even though at first glance you are probably thinking “What the..?”

A few notable cast members:
Donnie Wahlberg (yes, the guy from New Kids on the Block)
David Schwimmer (aka Ross from Friends)
Ron Livingston (Peter Gibbons from Office Space)
Jimmy Fallon (from Saturday Night Live…has a very small role in BoB)
Schwimmer does seem a bit out of place as the company commander, especially when he is being a huge jackass (which is pretty much the entire time he is on-screen) but you get used to it.

Anyways, watch Band of Brothers if you haven’t seen it…it’s only 10 hours long!

April 19, 2004

Tricky Spammers

On any given day, my inbox is usually flooded with about 80 junk e-mails, which, as you can imagine, is really annoying. A majority of them are easy to spot (“The easy way to get an auto loan!”, “2 color cell phones at No cost!”, “Earn your MBA online!”, etc. etc.) but lately I’ve received some spam that has tricked me into opening it. The first e-mail had the subject “cominform”, so I thought that perhaps someone was randomly e-mailing me to discuss the organization for national Communist parties, but alas, they were actually trying to sell me pirated software.

The next spam I received was titled “dostoevsky”, but instead of discussing the well-known Russian author, the sender wanted to sell me “the best pain killers around.”

Those clever spammers…put something in the title that is related to Russia, and I will most likely open it.