25 February 2012

Election Posturing

Putin touts nukes, urges US to be more positive

Given the upcoming election and Russia's host of internal problems, this maneuver focusing Russian's attention on an imagined foreign threat is understandable.

However, if the goal is to unlock Russia's potential to become world's third largest economy (discounting EU), investing in nuclear submarines is an extravagant waste.

From a foreign policy perspective, monitoring the ground in the mineral rich Mongolia and Kazakhstan and the influence of these countries' immediate neighbors should be of far more interest to Russia. And, as Al Qaeda has proven, Islamic fundamentalism is stateless, making it an international threat.

The Cold War is over. Investing in weaponry for this type of war scenario is investing in the past and losing sight of the future.

04 February 2012

Biological Assumptions Challenged

Big cities, like New York, Houston, and LA, have their "healthy" share of bad drivers.  Sadly, Moscow is in the same league.  The trouble with Moscow is that its roads, because of their design and poor signage, inadvertently encourage bad driving.

I normally stay off of roads and strongly prefer riding Moscow excellent metro system, but my hand was forced this week due to special circumstances that necessitated my shuttling my daughter between two schools.  On Thursday, a massive snowstorm brought things to a head.  Traffic came to a crawl and erstwhile bad drivers became crazily bad drivers.

The mass behavior was absurd.  Individual drivers, in attempt to get to their destination slightly faster, inadvertently colluded in a clownish fashion and slow everyone down.  Some of the clownish acts included blocking the intersections, dangerously cutting off fellow drivers, and swerving recklessly through the traffic on the very slippery roads.  And, as it happens, the more expensive the car, the more offensive the driver tended to be.
Car Sucks; Driver is Good

The poor guy in his Lada drives better than the jerk in his expensive Mercedes.  My guess is that the poor guy in his Lada is literally poor; he cannot afford a car wreck.  The boor in the Mercedes is not poor and a dent on his or anyone else's car means little to him.  To put it simply, there is a higher probability that the Benz driver is - ahem - an asshole.

New Car Smell?  No, It's the A**hole Inside.

Therein lays the biological challenge.  Simple human anatomy would dictate that there is a one-to-one relationship between number of people and sphincters for any given road mile, no matter how congested that mile may be.  In other words, the s-to-h ratio should always be 1.  As it turns out, the more congested the road gets, the bigger the s-to-h ratio gets.  Get stuck in Moscow's downtown traffic during a snowstorm and it becomes abundantly clear that there are a plump many more assholes than people running around on that mile.

02 February 2012

Frozen Shampoo Does Not Flow

In December and for the most part of January, I was fretting about Moscow's unusually warm winter.  Based on folklore, the erstwhile November weather was getting extended well into January.

Luckily, Ded Moroz (Дед Мороз) has arrived and he has brought the winter weather with him with full fury.  Days have been getting colder steadily.  Tomorrow's high is projected to be -18 C - or 0 Fahrenheit for English units fans.  The low is projected to reach -28 C (-18 F).

This may sound cold to most people but, in reality, everything below -10C feels pretty much the same.  This is because it gets so cold that you stop feeling.  A nice numbness sets in, pain goes away, and the merits of life in a freezer box become ice-crystal clear.

Ice not Nice in Shampoo

In any case, there was a new one in the department of new experiences today.  As usual, after dropping my children off at school, I went for a workout in the local gym,  and then took a shower. Unusually, however, I realized that I could not use my shampoo.  It had frozen.  Frozen shampoo does not flow.