Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Money Bombs Away

Salon Radio with Glenn Greenwald: Discussion with Tim Shorrock
More than 70 percent of America's intelligence and surveillance activities are now outsourced to private industry. What are the implications of such extreme privatization of these sensitive government functions?
Those privacy-hating Chinese communist tyrants
GOP senators protest China's surveillance of foreigners' e-mail and telephone communications. And they do it with a straight face.
Things I learned today about democracy
Challenging incumbents in elections is deeply anti-democratic. Only an ideologically dogmatic purist -- a Stalinist, basically -- would do something like that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tom Waits in Concert
Tom plays Lucinda and Ain't Goin Down to the Well - i think the entire show from Atlanta will be available soon in podcast.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Egil's Saga (Penguin Classics) Egil's Saga by Anonymous

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
The story is essentially a good old 10th-century land dispute between neighbors. While wandering around pissed-off over a court decision, the Viking poet Egil worships Odin, guzzles ale, vomits on friends, gouges out eyeballs (of the host who supplied him with the ale), bursts Hulk-like out of his clothes, and dispatches men like bedbugs, one, a certain Atli the Short, with a well placed bite to the neck. Fun for the whole family. Nuf said.

View all my reviews.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power by Victor Davis Hanson

My review

Brave indeed is the academic prepared to take on the cultural relativists in todays academy, but Hanson, like the Westerner he is, suits up here for a massive ground assault straight up the gut. He will surely piss off the fashionably PC crowd who have been reared to despise just about anything Western simply with his first chapter heading, 'Why the West Won.' Based upon his observation that for over 2500 years, the chief military worry of Western armies has been other Western armies, Hanson goes on to explore exactly why that has been the case, arguing that cultural determinants, rather than say biological or topographical ones, have shaped the West into the most successful and, yes let's say it, superior fighting civilization.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Norm at Nite Time Change

Norm at Nite, originally scheduled for 11:00 PM today, will air live at 6:30pm because of a scheduling fluke. Norm apologizes for any difficulties this causes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bert is Back in Business

Ok, so I finally have some real news. First of all SPS has wrapped up tonight, so summer has begun, thankfully. But more importantly, Bertrand, our Corsican guide in Quebec, e-mailed me this week with the news that he has opened his own place [below] in Shipshaw, Quebec. He can take a maximum of 6 people - so no room for ACDCs this year. Per usual, I'll foot the cost of SUV and hotel in Quebec City, if anyone is interested between 26Dec and 2Jan. I'll probably offer to STA seniors this year, but will give experienced mushers priority. With Bert, this year will be about bushcraft as well as the dogs. For those with Facebook, Bert has a site at 'Bertrand Bellencourt' where, he informs me, you will find more photos.

Monday, July 14, 2008

In Addition

One funny thing I heard here the other day (before i get to the meat and potatoes), despite its current inaccuracy, it holds some value for looking into the russian soul: smiling is frowned upon in Moscow.

Anyhow, I wanted to add to my last post by writing about a conversation my class mates had with my lit teacher last thursday. We asked her how much professors made in russia, and she said that teachers at MGU (the harvard, but public, of Russia). She said top of the line professors there make 500 USD per month. Everyone else is in the 200-400 range. Ok, so that adds up to 6000$ a year. Maybe, one might think, thats ok, its russia, that money is average. well, MGU begins with the word Moscow, and that means that money can barely buy food for the month, nevermind public transportation, or any type of extravagancy. Their equivalents in america make upwards of 20 times that number often, in a less expensive place (i guarantee this for you). This set of stats also roughly applies to DOCTORS and most public employees: libraries, anyone in the army, etc.

I have no interest in discussing economics here, in fact that would corrupt the essence of whats going on in this country. That teacher told us that the money is not what is important to russians when it comes to education, and that from a group of people who are convinced that they don't know what tomorrow has in store for them, material collection is very much less valued than an education. Her literal words were (translated): No matter how much money you have, in this country it could be gone tomorrow. An education can't leave you once you have it. Given her bias towards education, she said this view is widly held here. Whats best about this is that people don't stop learning when they have no school to go to. Word of mouth, written publication, etc, is all very much active in this country as a source of teaching, and everyone seems to value it greatly regardless of their age. Russians watch a ton of tv, this is true, but i haven't found anyone who has let that get in the way of knowledge. its astounding at times how much people know here, regardless of how much money they have.

Anyhow, I can't really think of anything valueable to add to that, it frankly speaks for itself. I would just appreciate it if those of you with the ability, to convey this to students in america, as we could all learn a lesson to that extent. Not that it will make a difference to them, but it would mean a lot to me if there were kids in america's finest schools who at least heard that no matter how much money mommy and daddy throw at their education, they would get destroyed in any subject by an 80 year old woman who has never made (in her life) the money their parents spend on one year of school.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tim Russert's Commencement Speech, May22, 2008

Tim Russert made this commencement speech at St. Mary's High School in Annapolis, Maryland on May 22, 2008. It is a testament to his his unfailing generosity towards, and concern for his fellow human beings. Enjoy it.

Tim Russert's Commencement at St. Mary's High School

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


So since my last post, much has transpired over here, much of which i feel is worth sharing.
Firstly, we took a tour through the part of town (including the museum made for this exact purpose)where pretty much every revolutionary action in moscow has occured (1905, 1991, 1993). The museum was incredibly well set up and the guides extremely informative (i also saw a picture of a 1905 participant with the last name Sobinov!). We then walked around the area Krasnopresnenskaya, visited the white house (!) and saw some of the memorial spots. Our guide, one of our resident directors, is a korennaya moskvicha (native muscovite, female edition) and was on a date in the park just next to the white house in 93 when the sniper started firing. pretty wild, but as all russians respond to such craziness, she seemed to be pretty casual with her attitude toward the event.

School has really stepped up the work load, if that was possible, I'm reading pikovaya dama a pushkin story, i just finished the stantsionii smotritel another pushkin. Both are really interesting stories in any language, but having a russian teacher to tell you "yes, this is a huge aspect of the russian character" makes studying these texts so much better. The population here is so well read, in my opinion, it makes me feel pretty dumb. Not only are the well read in russian texts, but my babushka, for example, has read the twain and sellinger anthographies--its nuts.

In another class we're reading articles on differnt politically relevant subjects to russians, the prevalence of advertising, the status of economic freedom, demography, immigration, art, etc. the debates, even in russian, get pretty heated, and our teacher finds that to be really funny. i'll come back to this in a second.

my economic geography course just ended, thankfully, it was painfully boring, but at least i could tell you where all the major industries are located in russia.
The history course just began, and it couldnt be anything but the opposite from geography. Its 20th century russian history, and the teacher is incredibly intelligent. we're reading both a russian textbook and a pamphlet that he made for the class, i'm very excited for that.

The 4th of july was wild, but i'll save that since most of it was very american. We did find a dive bar that reminded me a lot of le pape though, so i got pretty nostalgic!

The only intellectual comment i want to make today is that in these debates that we're having, one of the most prominent pedigogical elements is about america. Since most of our commentary is "well in america this but in russia that" we have to generalize america, and in my class of 5, we have students from all over the states, resulting in a conversation that to a russian makes it sound like we're from 5 different countries. i guess thats the beautiful part of our country, but at the same time, for example, how oblivious i was to the way southerners feel about the north, made me realize just how diverse this country is.

I'll have more this weekend, hope NaN is going well.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Norm is back at 11 tonite......

Norm will be back on the air this evening at 11 PM. The show will explore Barak Obama's move to the right, how who you are makes a difference even at the Congress, the Hacker Ethic and anything the audience wants to explore in Open Nite. Tune in!
Norm at Nite

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Visitors to Moscow

Sobes- Fellow Hibernians Gleb and Paul W. are traveling to Moscow soon. You should contact them if you want a few alums to hang out with for a night or two. Gleb knows Moscow well.