Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan signed an agreement today for the construction of the Prikaspiisky natural gas pipeline along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, further strengthening Russia’s grip on the region’s oil & gas exports:
The parties plan to construct the pipeline along the Caspian coast — 360 km on Turkmenistan’s territory and about 150 km through Kazakhstan, in order to link it with the existing Central Asia-Centre pipeline on the Russia-Kazakhstan border. The new gas pipeline will increase the existing capacity to export Turkmenistan’s gas to Russia by 20 billion cubic metres. Creating a Trans-Caspian pipeline system and reconstructing the Central Asia-Centre pipeline system will enable the parties to increase annual deliveries of Turkmenistan’s gas to 80 billion cubic metres. The presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan signed the Joint Declaration on Constructing a Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline on 12 May 2007 at a meeting in Turkmenbashi.
Not only has Russia scored another win in the so-called “New Great Game”, but the English translators for the Kremlin website have hijacked the name of the United States backed pipeline fantasy project (Trans-Caspian Pipeline) and made it their own. Well played, Russia.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, TIME’s Man of the Year for 2007:
It would have been cooler if he was sitting on a barrel of oil
TIME’s Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement. It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world—for better or for worse. It is ultimately about leadership—bold, earth-changing leadership. Putin is not a boy scout. He is not a democrat in any way that the West would define it. He is not a paragon of free speech. He stands, above all, for stability—stability before freedom, stability before choice, stability in a country that has hardly seen it for a hundred years. Whether he becomes more like the man for whom his grandfather prepared blinis—who himself was twice TIME’s Person of the Year—or like Peter the Great, the historical figure he most admires; whether he proves to be a reformer or an autocrat who takes Russia back to an era of repression—this we will know only over the next decade. At significant cost to the principles and ideas that free nations prize, he has performed an extraordinary feat of leadership in imposing stability on a nation that has rarely known it and brought Russia back to the table of world power. For that reason, Vladimir Putin is TIME’s 2007 Person of the Year.
In exactly one week, I’ll be here:
I fly back to California this Saturday, and on Tuesday my family and I will board a flight to Hawaii, where we will spend a few days on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast.
This will be my third trip to Hawaii, but my first to the Big Island. I first visited Hawaii back in November 1997 (gah, was that really 10 years ago?!) on a family trip. My brother and I were under the impression that we were going to Sparta, Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with our relatives, but when we arrived at LAX my parents said “Surprise, we’re going to Hawaii!” (yeah, they are pretty awesome). My little brother, ever the family man, was devastated, and replied “But…I want to go to Illinois.” I very clearly remember yelling “JOHN ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” and pummeling him while we stood in line to check-in. We spent a few days on the North Shore of Oahu and then flew to Maui, where we stayed for the remainder of the week. For Thanksgiving dinner we went to a ridiculously cheesy luau (my idea) that was interrupted by heavy rain showers. In that year’s Thanksgiving family photo we are soaking wet and decked out in multi-colored disposable ponchos. It’s a classic.
My second trip to Hawaii was in June 2000, when my friends and I flew to Oahu a few days after our high school graduation. If I remember correctly, there were eight of us on that particular trip. I’ll make a long story short and just say that while the trip definitely had its fun moments, as a whole it was pretty FUBAR and I think we were all relieved when our return flight landed at LAX so that we could go our separate ways. Some of the personalities on that trip just didn’t…mesh very well. The resulting video footage of a fight over a surfboard and towels (and Ryan can attest to this) is hilarious, however.
Nevertheless, I have a feeling that this upcoming trip will be considerably better.
One thing that bothers me is when journalists quote random bloggers, or blog entries, or whatever. To me, it’s the equivalent of using Wikipedia articles as sources for your dissertation. So, I was thoroughly amused when I found out that a blog entry I wrote was quoted in a MinnPost article regarding Putin’s choice of Dmitry Medvedev as his successor to the Russian presidency:
Medvedev, in fact, believes Gazprom has a bigger role in the United State’s energy future — perhaps a prelude to projecting power overseas? Just last week, Medvedev spoke at Georgetown University, and according to blogger Lindsay Fincher, told his audience that “natural gas fired power plants are the only near-term solution to meet [U.S.] electricity demand due to various state regulations and bans on coal fired power plants (i.e., California).” Therefore, Medvedev said, Gazprom was refocusing on shipping liquid natural gas to the United States. He also noted that China could cut greenhouse gas emissions by switching some coal plants to Russian natural gas. (Although both coal and natural gas are fossil fuels, burning gas emits less CO².)
My own journalistic qualms aside, the problem with this particular article is that my entry was referring to ALEXANDER Medvedev, not DMITRY Medvedev. Yes, both have the same last name and hold very important positions at Gazprom, but one will remain the captain of Gazprom’s hockey team while the other will take up residence in the Kremlin. Pretty big difference, and something one should certainly take notice of when writing an article on Russia’s future president and his supposed foreign policy machinations.
Also, I hate being labeled as a “blogger”. Dear journalists, when you quote me in the future, please use the term “Californian who holds a useless master’s degree in this Russian stuff.” Ya know, I’d even settle for Kremlinologist. Sounds much more important. Thanks.
I’ll be honest, as much as I love reading my Facebook newsfeed to see what group my friends joined, or the political candidate they now support, Scrabulous is really the main reason I login to Facebook every day. I found today’s article on the Scrabulous server upgrade rather amusing. Must have been a slow news day at the Times.
Like most fanatical Scrabble players, devotees of Scrabulous, a Scrabble-like application on Facebook, hate to be interrupted. So players are breathing easier since an upgrade last week intended to ensure that matches load more quickly.
The improvement came in response to the booming popularity of the application, which lets Facebook members to play one another online. According to the site, Scrabulous has upwards of half a million daily users.
Jayant’s enthusiasm for the online game has not dulled his love of the face-to-face experience of the original. He recently came in first in his age group in a local Scrabble competition.
“Scrabble has a charm of its own because you’re playing with close friends or family members,” he said. “But the thing is, as in everything in the world, people don’t find time to be with their family, to find two hours to play. Most people have Scrabble in their attic gathering dust, so the application helps people play and stay connected.”
Through Scrabulous, “we have managed to reach a lot of people who have never played the game,” said Rajat, who is 26. “Some even ask us questions about how to play Scrabulous because they’re not familiar with it. Once we’ve explained it to them, they come back and say, ‘It’s a great thing and we have to buy the original version to play with our family offline.’”
Prior to playing Scrabulous on Facebook, I think I played Scrabble maybe once or twice in my life. Pathetic, I know, but when it came time to play a board game, I usually opted for Monopoly or Risk (I don’t care what you think, Rian…alliances are totally acceptable).
Yeah, these photos are over two years old (September ’05) and I just got around to uploading them. I’ve only got 100+ more to go.
These were all taken during my last week in London, when I decided to make one more quick visit to some of the sights in the city.
Buckingham Palace, view from the backyard
As to be expected, the Queen has a ridiculously large backyard
Hanging out in the palace backyard after tea with Lizzie.
A royal swan in Round Pond, Kensington Gardens.
I didn’t want to get to close to the swans as they might recognize me from previous “incidents” and maul me, or something.
Tributes to Princess Diana on the gates of Kensington Palace, her former residence
Last night in the old ‘hood