Archive | October, 2008
October 20, 2008

Life in Zvyozdny Gorodok (Star City)


This is a great article on the lives of American astronauts training at Star City, the Russian equivalent of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Significant cultural differences remain between the Russians and Americans here. For example, working side by side with the Russians, the Americans say, has helped them understand the nations’ approaches to safety.

Dr. Barratt said that when he first walked the grounds of Star City, he was surprised by how uneven the sidewalks were. At NASA, he said, “there’d be big red placards” warning people to watch their step. And if someone did fall, a lawsuit would soon follow. In Russia, he said, people simply watch their step.

The underlying point, said Mark Thiessen, the deputy to Mr. McBrine, is that “Russians accept risk.” Americans try “to eliminate risk instead of minimize it.” The American approach is laudable, he said, but not always possible, and Americans end up more cautious than Russians. “No one is willing to say, ‘I accept this risk,’ ” he said.


October 20, 2008

These two Russian dudes love Sarah Palin

I love it. Vlad and Boris, please make more music videos!

October 18, 2008

“My dog is not a piglet, she doesn’t lie in puddles”


I’m so glad Putin decided to stay on as Prime Minister. Otherwise, we wouldn’t get all these “news” pieces, like this one from RIA Novosti:

Putin’s dog get long-promised satellite tracking collar, wags tail

Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin’s black Labrador, Connie, has been given a tracking collar linked to the Russian navigation satellite system Glonass, the government website said on Friday.

Glonass (Global Navigation Satellite System), Russia’s equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), is designed for both military and civilian use and allows users to identify their positions in real time.

“I have to say that I am a touch late, as I promised [in March] to give Connie the collar this summer. In the interests of fairness, however, I should point out that it was ready – I just didn’t have the chance to meet with you and Connie. The collar is ready, and we are ready to demonstrate it, fit it, and test it,” Deputy First Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told Putin at a meeting to discuss the development of Glonass.

Ivanov said the collar was the “only one of its type in the world.”

Putin then put the collar, weighing 170 grams, on Connie, who was also present at the meeting.

“Come here Connie, they’ve brought you a present,” said Putin, noting that, “She’s wagging her tail, that means she likes it.”

Ivanov also said that when Connie was stationary, for example, “in the forest, lying in a puddle” then the collar’s battery would switch itself off, thereby conserving energy.

“My dog is not a piglet, she doesn’t lie in puddles,” retorted Putin.


Putin’s dog is sooo cute. Having owned a Labrador myself, I might be a bit biased, but they really are amazing dogs. (My dog did not require a GPS tracking device on her collar, however, since she basically slept on the couch all day).

October 16, 2008

Opening up the Siberian oil frontier…to the sound of disco

I love it:

Russian oil major TNK-BP has just brought on stream a pioneering big new oilfield in eastern Siberia, part of a wave of development overcoming huge technical challenges to open up some of this vast country’s most inaccessible crude reserves.

As the first commercial oil flowed on Wednesday from the 1-billion-barrel Verkhnechonskoye field to the sound of disco music echoing across the empty taiga, TNK-BP TNBPI.RTS Chief Operating Officer Tim Summers told an audience of men in hard hats, dungarees and overcoats:
“Oilmen say every oilfield in the world is unique. That is true, but there are several things which make Verkhnechonskoye extremely special.”

First discovered by a Soviet geologist in 1978, Verkhnechonskoye lies in a desolate area of thin, spindly forest inhabited by the odd elk, wolf pack or bear. More than 4,000 km (2,500 miles) and six time zones east of Moscow, temperatures mostly remain below zero and can plunge to minus 50 degrees Celsius in winter.

October 14, 2008

Gazprom visits Alaska

Oh no, Palin is on the campaign trail in the lower 48, and now Putin’s boys are rearing their heads over Alaska, trying to steal our hydrocarbons! How did she not see this one coming???

A high-level delegation from the Russian energy company Gazprom met in Anchorage with state officials on Monday to talk about investing in Alaskan energy projects. The meeting came nearly three weeks after Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska talked in a television interview about her expertise in energy matters and took a hard line with Russia.


The Russian delegation at the meeting on Monday in Anchorage unexpectedly included several close associates of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin. The executives presented a slide show about the company’s business that lasted about an hour.

Eight senior Gazprom officials attended the session, including the company’s chief executive, Aleksei B. Miller, a longtime Putin ally, and Aleksandr V. Golubyev, a deputy director who, like Mr. Putin, is a veteran of the K.G.B. and who has worked with Mr. Putin for at least 17 years, according to a biography posted on the Gazprom Web site.

“We had thought initially that only one or two people would be coming,” Marty Rutherford, a deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, said in a telephone interview. “But it turned out to be about a dozen.”

October 13, 2008

How to rally the stock markets


Forget all this bailout nonsense, all you need is the Rally Monkey. He was useless in the ALDS series against Boston, so he has a lot of free time on his hands these days. Might as well put him to work.


October 12, 2008

Putin gets a Siberian tiger cub for his birthday



I swear, the dude is becoming more like a Bond villain with each passing day. And how hilarious is it that the gift-givers presented the tiger cub in a tiger print dog basket? WTF?

The Russian prime minister, who turned 56 on Tuesday, was given the tiger as a present. Yesterday he posed with the animal at his dacha outside Moscow, stroking her affectionately. “It’s the most original present of my life,” he told Russian TV. Putin refused to say who had given him the female tiger, which is to be called either Mashenko or Milashka.

“She eats meat – two kilos in the morning and two kilos in the evening,” Putin explained, adding that he intended to transfer it from its temporary home in a dog basket to a Russian zoo.

October 9, 2008

If I was a NYSE trader…


As stocks were plummeting, I would make the most bizarre face imaginable, with the goal of landing on the front page of and the “Sad Guys on Trading Floors” blog. And then I’d take a screenshot and post it to my own blog.


October 7, 2008

“Let’s Learn Judo With Vladimir Putin”


Well, now I know what I want for Christmas:


Just weeks after Russia’s state-run media reported that Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin had saved a news crew from a wild tiger, he is flexing his muscles again, this time in an instructional martial arts video.


The judo video includes instructional tips from Mr. Putin, a black belt, and from Yasuhiro Yamashita, a former world champion, among others, according to press reports. It will first be sold in martial arts schools throughout the country, and only later at some unspecified date will it be available to the public, First Channel, a state broadcaster, reported.

In one video fragment shown on Russian television, an Asian-style flute whistles in the background, as a black-clad Mr. Putin describes the principles of judo.

“The name itself carries the foundational philosophy: to receive the greatest result with little, but effective, effort,” he says. “In a bout, compromises and concessions are allowed, but only in one case: if it is for victory.”

This is soooo much better than Bush’s “Hey Ya’ll, Let’s Clear Brush on My Fake Ranch” video.

October 5, 2008

Candy corn is the best vegetable ever!


I’m on a total candy corn kick right now. This happens every September/October when the grocery stores start stocking all of their Halloween candy. I have to buy a bunch of it during October, because the Thanksgiving “Indian corn” and the Christmas “Reindeer corn” totally suck.
Here are a few facts about candy corn, my favorite vegetable:
– October 30th is National Candy Corn Day (We should get this day off)
– One serving of candy corn contains only about 140 calories (See, healthy!)
– Candy corn has 3.57 calories per kernel
– More than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces, enough to circle the moon nearly four times if laid end-to-end. (I consume about half of that)
– A cup of candy corn has fewer calories than a cup of raisins. (Again, healthy, and better tasting!)