A Big One

A Big One

The Timur Aliev Facsimile

Interview By Dimitra St. Oops

grozny market

Grozny Market. Photo by Michal Przedlacki

Q: Timur Aliev, please introduce yourself.

For the past 6 months I have been an advisor to the president of the Republic of Chechnya. Prior to that, I had been the publisher and the editor of the non-state-run newspaper Chechen Society for a little over four years. At that time I also worked for various public service organizations on projects that had to do with journalism and human rights – I taught journalism classes and was engaged in monitoring the freedom of speech. I wrote for various Russian and international publications, both as a reporter and a columnist. In 2007 I unsuccessfully ran for the State Duma from the SPS party.

My degree is in oil engineering, but I never had an opportunity to practice it. After graduation I worked as a programmer, and taught computer science in a university.

Q: Your background suggests an active, thinking person. What motivates you?

I don't think that it's a matter of who I am. I simply happened to live in an "interesting" time in an "interesting" place.

My high school counselor [in the Soviet Union a school counselor also plays the role of a homeroom teacher ] used to say publicly at the parents' meetings that my future is to advance science (I was a straight "A" student), and then afterwards privately joked with my mother that I am going to live my life as an ordinary junior researcher. In the end neither prediction came true. I will say it again – the cause is not who I am, it's the environment.

Q: How did this "interesting" time affect the relationships between people and their culture? Did you notice significant changes to the Chechen mentality over the past fifteen years, or is it more apt to speak of the resilience of traditions?

No doubt, society has undergone certain changes. It's hard to judge their significance while being on the inside.

Yet it figures that, overall, cultural traditions managed to persevere, and in some ways even grow stronger. And there is nothing paradoxical in that.

In the most difficult of "interesting" times traditions sometimes showed chinks in their armor: Life was difficult, some were surviving almost on the principle of "every man for himself." Of course, these were more exceptions than the norm. When the conditions started to improve, relationships between people rediscovered their strength, and in some ways were even further solidified. For example, it seems to me that people are taking better care of each other, now with an understanding of the real value of a human life.

chechen wedding

Chechen Wedding. Photo by Michal Przedlacki

Q: For someone who hasn't experienced it, it is incredibly hard to imagine a war in one's hometown. Could you describe this dreadful experience, from becoming aware of the approaching catastrophe to coming to terms with it?

About 15 years ago, it was extremely difficult to imagine a war in my hometown - for me too. War was something that could only happen to others – somewhere far away and long time ago.

And even in that case it appeared as a series of battles between two armies that sat in the trenches and shot at and bombed each other – i.e. a somewhat normal enactment of the profession. To imagine being a third party at the war – a peaceful resident who is being shot at and bombed in his or her own home – it's completely unreal. It's an experience that one almost never comes across in literature about war.

How could you imagine war coming into your home? That's the first shock. You are used to feeling that your house is your fortress – it's where you came back from school or college, for example, having received a poor grade and looking for refuge from a bad mood; its walls used to hide you from bullies. You came home and you were always greeted by warmth and dinner, by close friends and favorite books, the TV set and the arm chair. You could always count on its protection. When the war comes, this protection ceases to exist – your home no longer feels native. You could be killed at your home – with a bomb, a rocket, a shell, or a stray shell splinter. Still, the notion of a home may be interpreted more broadly – and encompass the entire city.

Shocking is not just that your home is no longer a safe haven - it is that things you are accustomed to since childhood become foreign. Hazel trees you planted as a child that grew to be five stories high turn out to have been felled; the yard that you used to root weeds from with such zeal is now overgrown not with grass but with trees; a field where you played soccer in the summer and hockey in the winter is now occupied with cement blocks, and there is a machine gun in plain view. It's a very weird sensation – diving into your own memory and trying to somehow reconcile it with military reality.

The second shock is that your fate is out of your hands, and there is nothing you can do to change that. If you take up arms, the war will only continue; you keep sitting at home – it will go on without you, but it won't stop; if you come out to the so-called "neutral zone" and call on everybody to lay down their arms, at best the fighting sides will give you the screw-loose sign, and at worst – let go at you with a burst of machine-gun fire.

And the third shock. It's not true that it is somehow possible to foresee the approaching catastrophe. Anyhow, I couldn't do it. Up until the very last moment I didn't believe that there would be a war that people would die. I remember that when the war was just starting, we would still go to work and we used to wonder – will it come to pass before the New Year (it was in the beginning of December), so that we could throw a holiday party in the office, as we were planning. Naively, we didn't suspect that on the New Year's Eve there would be the fiercest assault on Grozny, and our institute which stood not far from the presidential palace would be practically destroyed.

children playing in grozny

Children playing in Grozny. Photo by Michal Przedlacki

Q: How did the war affect the labor market, particularly for the skilled workers?

There is no clear-cut answer here. The war made certain amendments to the life of the society, of course. Yet it so happened that it practically (give or take a couple of years) coincided with the time of other tremors in the republic and the country – the breakup of the Soviet Union, economic unrest, separation of Chechnya from Russia, revolution in Chechnya, huge migration of the population. Naturally, a huge mass of skilled workers turned out to be unclaimed, and they were forced to either emigrate or do something that is below their skill level.

In fact, people across the entire post-Soviet territory were confronted with this problem. Some tried to outlast the hard times – in the meantime sitting at home or working temporary jobs; others looked for new occupations that would allow them to fulfill themselves with maximum satisfaction.

I came into journalism from a seemingly far-off line of work. Educated as an oil engineer, I was working mostly as a programmer at the time. As a matter of fact, my story is atypical as I changed my line of work not because my skills were unneeded (software developers were needed then and are still needed now), but due to the times. I wanted to change something in the world, and this goal is more closely within the reach of journalists rather than programmers.

Q: In the July issue of Facsimile, we suggested that pop songs of the bilingual singer Makka Sagaipova contribute to the mutual understanding between Chechnya and Russia. Could you introduce a few other folks making significant contributions to this process?

I think that all forms of creative pursuit that are either based on publicity or carry it as a side-effect, one way or the other, have an effect on society. If we consider the context of Russian-Chechen relations, there are many individuals that make a difference. It's the rock singer and the front man of Dead Dolphins Artur Atzalamov who now lives in Moscow; and the pop singer Liza Umarova, whose songs are explicitly anti-war. It's the writers: German Sadulaev, who was nominated for the Russian Booker Prize this year; and Kanta Ibragimov, the laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation in 2004 for his novel The Wars Past. It's the journalists like Aset Vatzueva, who had been an anchor on one of the federal Russian networks, NTV, for several years. Just the fact that these well-known people are Chechens, yet they speak, write, or sing in Russian while living outside of Chechnya, makes a small contribution to the mutual understanding between Russian and Chechnya. And if we take into account the fact that one way or another their work directly comments on the topic of interethnic relations, war and peace, then their impact on closing the gap between the views of the Russians and the Chechens increases exponentially.

Q: When societal processes are disturbed, a nation often discovers an opportunity and the necessity to learn from past experiences while not being constrained by them; this often leads to significant leaps in development (one can consider France or Japan after the end of the WWII.) Yet such growth is difficult without the freedom of self-determination. Do you think Chechnya may have short-term intense growth potential – as a whole or perhaps within some layers of society (economics, culture, etc.)?

I think you are absolutely right. Such post-conflict growth has been common in independent states. In the case of the Russia-Chechnya nexus things are somewhat different. Development in a given region is unlikely to be possible without something similar happening across the country. Yet, clearly, some potential is evident. There exist certain revanchist sentiments of a nonmilitary kind in the society – people earning some kind of social, political, and economic remuneration for the years spent in conditions of conflict or near-conflict. In addition, the newest dominant idea in the society (the one that replaced the separatism) is contained in the word "Vosstanovlenie" [restoration, reinstatement – DK.] This word encompasses many notions – rehabilitation of the economy and war-ravaged cities and villages, and development of certain intrasocietal relations.

War Wrong Terror

do it! scenarios of the revolution by jerry rubin

DO IT! Scenarios of the Revolution by Jerry Rubin

His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. [...] We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it -- and rather successfully.

- Edward Murrow from A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy

In the fifties, the most effective sanction was terror. Almost any publicity from HUAC meant the 'blacklist.' Without a chance to clear his name, a witness would suddenly find himself without friends and without a job. But it is not easy to see how in 1969 a HUAC blacklist could terrorize an SDS activist. Witnesses like Jerry Rubin have openly boasted of their contempt for American institutions. A subpoena from HUAC would be unlikely to scandalize Abbie Hoffman or his friends.

- The Harvard Crimson

A Football Exchange

With Eric Zamzow & Andrew Choate

blood bowl

Blood Bowl by BOOM! Studios

Eric Zamzow: i hate to be a triple downer but i think the chicago bears are gonna lose to the N.O. saints tomorrow which gives the minnesota vikings the central division title! (98% accurate)

Andrew Choate: i'm not sure why the bears losing would be so bad, at least for me personally. i'm from south carolina and we were all raised as panthers fans, practically from birth. they've already won 10 games this year - have the vikings ever?

Eric: no, i wasn't implying that it would be that bad news for the bears, it's just a personal celebration for my beloved minnesota franchise that earned a place in my heart back in 1985 which coincidentally was the year the bears won the superbowl. (i do like the "practically from birth" joke cuz EVERYBODY knows the panthers were not a franchise until the '90's) but out of all 24 of the vikings playoff appearances, 16 of them were division champs which is what we're shooting for this year but out of those 16 division titles only 4 resulted in conference champs and that was in the back in the '70's. :( basically what i'm tryin to say is that i'm prepared for the panthers-vikings superbowl... in 2095.

PS. sorry, i was bored at work.

Andrew: panthers breed easy on ships. just see 1492 and 1767 for good examples. when my dad hired bodyguards rather than midwives to deliver me from the womb, it was so they could more swiftly clothe me in john fox signature headset and steve smith radio/ mouthpiece.

i think the last time the vikes were on a boat, they had to throw all their pro-bowl caliber players overboard, no?

Eric: you must have slipped on your mind when you failed to mention 1812. panthers were still delholmme-less with no sign of water around to quench the thirst of a first superbowl appearance (let alone a victory). meanwhile our purple headed forefathers (Bill Boyer, H. P. Skoglund and Max Winter) were wiping their brows with relief after dodging the curse of becoming the 13th franchise in a fiercely superstitious league. as well as eliminating the useless name "red jackets" from minnesota history gaining way to 4 superbowl appearances (no victories as well) which eventually leads to fulfilling all midwestern childrens dreams by proving how success for any period of time will eventually pay off with failiure. a valuable lesson learned in everyone's useless life.

Andrew: my mindbowl IS juicy, that is for sure. But you have to admit that our challenge to the old world was more legitimate than any soggy crust waterlogged in cheesebell town. not that anything legitimate ever came from philadelphia. speaking of decrapidity, how many banned substances does it take to tuck a game-changing lineman in at night?

Good News

of black america

Of Black America by Lou Dorfsman

If you define 'niggers' as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society are defined by others, then Good News! You don't have to be black to be a 'nigger' in this society. Most of the people in America are 'niggers'.

- Ron Dellums

The Smiling Magibon

Biography From Wikipedia

Magibon is an American Internet personality on the video-sharing website YouTube.

As of October 2008, Magibon has uploaded over 60 videos onto her YouTube channel and leads YouTube Japan's all time top list. Many of these videos simply entail her making cute flirtatious smiles silently into the camera. When asked whether she planned making the videos, she replied "I don't use scripts. There's no grand plan." Almost all of Magibon's videos are under one minute and occasionally she speaks or sings in Japanese. Magibon is also a member of the YouTube Partner Program.

English-speaking YouTube viewers are sometimes puzzled or rude in their comments regarding Magibon's act. However, many Japanese viewers, particularly Japanese males, are supportive of her.

War, The World's Only Hygiene

By F.T. Marinetti, Circa 1915, Suggested By Tim Ivison

lamborghini reventon

Lamborghini Reventon

We Futurists, who for over two years, scorned by the Lame and Paralyzed, have glorified the love of danger and violence, praised patriotism and war, the hygene of the world, are happy to finally experience this great Futurist hour of Italy, while the foul tribe of pacifists huddles dying in the deep cellars of the ridiculous palace at The Hague.

We have recently had the pleasure of fighting in the streets with the most fervent adversaries of the war, and shouting in their faces our firm beliefs:

  1. All liberties should be given to the individual and the collectivity, save that of being cowardly.
  2. Let it be proclaimed that the word Italy should prevail over the word Freedom.
  3. Let the tiresome memory of Roman greatness be cancelled by an Italian greatness a hundred times greater.

For us today, Italy has the shape and power of a fine Dreadnought battleship with its squadron of torpedo-boat islands. Proud to feel that the marital fervor throughout the Nation is equal to ours, we urge the Italian government, Futurist at last, to magnify all the national ambitions, disdaining the stupid accusations of piracy, and proclaim the birth of Panitalianism.

Futurist poets, painters, sculptors, and musicians of Italy! As long as the war lasts let us set aside our verse, our brushes, scapels, and orchestras! The red holidays of genius have begun! There is nothing for us to admire today but the dreadful symphonies of the shrapnels and the mad sculptures that our inspired artillery molds among the masses of the enemy.


From Ship-Technology.com


Photo by Sealift Command

FLIP (Floating Instrument Platform) is the US Navy's oldest, and most unusual, research vessel.

Commonly referred to as the FLIP ship, it is actually a 355ft long, spoon-shaped buoy which can be flipped from horizontal to a vertical position by pumping 700t of seawater into the 'handle' end whilst flooding air into the 'cradle', causing it to rise up out of the sea.

Once the 28 minute transformation from horizontal to vertical has taken place, 300m of the buoy are submerged underwater, keeping the 700 long-ton mass steady and making it perfect for researching wave height, acoustic signals, water temperature and density, and for the collection of meteorological data.

FLIP was created in 1962 by scientists Dr Fred Fisher and Dr Fred Spiess, who wanted a more stable space than a conventional research ship to study wave forms. The build was funded by the US Office of Naval Research (who still own the buoy) and the Marine Physical Laboratory of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (who still operate it) and launched by The Gunderson Brothers Engineering Company of Portland, Oregon.

FLIP was given a $2m makeover in 1995 and currently resides in La Jolla, California, although it operates all over the world. The buoy has so far completed over 300 operations.

The FLIP Transformation

The transformation from horizontal to vertical is one of the most impressive sights on the ocean. Because of the potential interference with the acoustic instruments, FLIP has no engines or other means of propulsion, so it has to be towed out to sea. In tow, FLIP can reach speeds of 7–10 knots.

When it has reached its desired location, it either drifts freely or is held in place using one or all of its three anchors. The long, thin end of the buoy has special ballast tanks, which are then flooded with seawater, causing it to sink, whilst air tanks cause the other end of the buoy to rise. The protruding end is equivalent in height to a five-storey building.

FLIP can operate equally well in shallow water or depths of over 2,000 fathoms. Once the 300ft of buoy is submerged the vessel is so stable it is almost unaffected by vertical wave motion.

A 30ft wave only causes FLIP to move three feet vertically in the water column. Although this is the size of wave the buoy was built to withstand, FLIP can cope swells of up to 80ft.

For FLIP to flip back to a horizontal position, air compressed into eight tanks is used to push the seawater out of the ballast tanks. The submerged end of FLIP rises until the buoy is once again level with the water.

FLIP Ship Design

FLIP's unique design makes it the only vessel in the world capable of operating both horizontally and vertically. Scientific instruments are built sideways into the wall so that as the buoy flips, the instruments flip into a usable position as well.

Most rooms on FLIP have two doors; one to use when horizontal, the other when FLIP is vertical. Bunk beds, toilets and stoves are built on swivels and gimbals, so they will turn along with the buoy, but things that would not rotate so well, like sinks, are built both horizontally and vertically in each room.

The main power source comes from two 150kW generators with one 40kW generator for backup. Navigation equipment includes a gyro, GPS and RADAR. Communication equipment includes HF, VHF, INMARSAT and cellular.

Life On Board

Life for the five crew members and 11 researchers who can live on-board FLIP at any one time is not for the faint-hearted. Stays in the cramped conditions last for 30–45 days and, during the flip, everyone has to stand on deck whilst the deck below them gradually becomes a bulkhead, before stepping onto a deck that was a bulkhead just minutes before.

"The last 15° of movement prior to arriving in the vertical happens quickly and is reasonably exciting as the exterior decks where everyone is positioned appear to be heading into the sea," says Captain William A Gaines, assistant director of Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

"The crew and riders remain on the external decks during the flipping evolution. The lowest exterior is about 15ft above the waterline when FLIP is in the vertical. There is lots of noise as the remaining air from the ballast tanks escapes from the vent lines located on the lowest external deck."

Once the transformation has occurred, staff have to cope with working five storeys above the ocean; contending with steep stairs, narrow booms and the confined spaces necessary to make FLIP operational.

"The habitability conditions on FLIP at sea can best be described as austere," says Captain Gaines.

"Because of the combined spaces, there is limited privacy. There are two heads (bathrooms) onboard, two showers, but only one that can be used in the vertical and one that can be used in the horizontal. With 16 persons and one shower, Sunday showers are not permitted."

"It does take a special person to serve on FLIP. However, many scientists and science party members prefer conducting science from FLIP over being embarked in a conventional research ship because of the stability that FLIP offers. The small crew on FLIP creates a feeling of family and cohesiveness. The Officer in Charge of FLIP, Tom Golfinos, has been onboard for 17 years."

Q&A With Charles Eames

On the occasion of the exhibition "Qu Est Ce Que Le Design?" at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre.


Q: What is your definition of Design, Monsieur Eames?

One could describe design as a plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose.

Q: Is design an expression of art?

I would rather say it is an expression of purpose. It may, if it is good enough, later be judged as art.

Q: Is design a craft for industrial purposes?

No, but design may be a solution for some industrial problems.

Q: What are the boundaries of design?

What are the boundaries of problems?

Q: Is design a discipline that concerns itself with only one part of the environment?


Q: Is it a method of general expression?

No, it is a method of action.

Q: Is design a creation of an individual?

No, because to be realistic, one must always recognize the influence of those that have gone before.

Q: Is design a creation of a group?

Very often.

Q: Is there a design ethic?

There are always design constraints; these often imply an ethic.

Q: Does design imply the idea of products that are necessarily useful?

Yes, even though the use might be very subtle.

Q: Is it able to cooperate in the creation of works reserved solely for pleasure?

Who would say that pleasure is not useful?

Q: Ought form to derive from the analysis of function?

The great risk here is that the analysis may be incomplete.

Q: Can the computer substitute for the designer?

Probably, in some special cases, but usually the computer is an aid to the designer.

Q: Does design imply industrial manufacture?

Not necessarily.

Q: Is design used to modify an old object through new techniques?

This is one kind of design problem.

Q: Is design used to fit up an existing model so that it is more attractive?

One doesn't usually think of design in this way.

Q: Is design an element in industrial policy?

If design constraints imply an ethic, and if industrial policy includes ethical principles, then yes, design is an element in an industrial policy.

Q: Does the creation of design admit constraint?

Design depends largely on constraints.

Q: What constraints?

The sum of all constraints. Here is one of the few effective keys to the design problem: the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible; his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints: constraints of price, of size, of strength, of balance, of surface, of time, and so forth. Each problem has its own peculiar list.

Q: Does design obey laws?

Aren't constraints enough?

Q: Are there tendencies and schools in design?

Yes, but these are more a measure of human limitations than ideas.

Q: Is design ephemeral?

Some needs are ephemeral; most designs are ephemeral.

Q: Ought design to tend towards the ephemeral or towards permanence?

Those needs and designs that have a more universal quality tend toward relative permanence.

Q: How would you define yourself with respect to a decorator? An interior architect? A stylist?

I wouldn't.

Q: To whom does design address itself: to the greatest number? To the specialist or the enlightened amateur? To a privileged social class?

Design addresses itself to the need.

Q: After having answered all these questions, do you feel you have been able to practice the profession of design under satisfactory conditions? Or even optimum conditions?


Q: Have you been forces to accept compromises?

I don't remember ever being forces to accept compromises, but I have willingly accepted constraints.

Q: What do you feel is the primary condition for the practice of design and for its propagation?

A recognition of need.

Q: What is the future of design?



Bohemian Rhapsody Mario Paint

Budget Cuts


By Frisbee Jackson

ulam spiral

Ulam Spiral

All of her focus on the teacher had been lost. As much as she tried to regain attention, her brain could no longer hold on to the world of radians and secants.

Out of pure boredom, she scrawled a message on the desk. The graphite smeared slightly on the edge of her palm as she wrote, "hi, how are you?" in the corner of the fake wooden desk.

The bell rang, and out of habit she gathered her belongings into her school bad, and scampered off to the next class.

The next day, the same thing happened. Except when she looked down at her desk, "I'm doing quite fine. How are you?" was printed neatly under her scrawl. Slightly surprised, she eagerly got out her mechanical pencil, clicked it so just enough lead was out, and wrote beneath it "Okay... wish this class wasn't so boring." Observing her work, she realized how messy her handwriting looked beneath the neat little capital letters. She smudged her writing and rewrote. "I'm okay, but I wish this class was over. It's so boring." Again the bell rang, and like Pavlov's dog-- all the students were off to finish the rest of their days. She was among them and didn't think again about the mysterious message on the desk again.

Then the next day she noticed "I love math. I find it highly interesting, and for me there is nothing more satisfying than finding a solution to a difficult problem. What do you like to do?"

She had never thought about math in that way-- that one could actually gain satisfaction from finding an "X", but she could understand. She felt the same way whenever she read or wrote something that she found was interesting. She pondered the words written on the desk, and thought she'd give it a try. Her mind drifted back to the lesson, and there it stayed for the rest of the class period.

delia derbyshire at the bbc radiophonic workshop