Anybody who believes Ukrainian news is a moron.  Anybody who believes Russian news is a moron.  Anybody who believes European or American news is a double moron.  All of them lie through their teeth and none of it makes any freaking sense.  That’s where I stand.

RIP, Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1949

Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1949

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the world famous AK-47 assault rifle, has passed away today, at the age of 94.  He was a true genius and a patriot of his country.  Coming from a very simple family, with very little education, after serving as a tank mechanic and later as a tank commander, after being wounded, he designed more than 150 models of small weapons – rifles, assault rifles, machine guns, etc.

Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer … I always wanted to construct agriculture machinery.

Such were the times, I guess – growing up in the post Civil War, Revolution and First World War country, serving during the Second World War and seeing all horrors and dangers first hand, his peaceful mind was turned the other way.

I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists … I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawn mower.

Looking into his engineering genius, I see the good old principle of keeping things simple:

When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, ‘All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed’ … So this has been my lifetime motto – I have been creating weapons to defend the borders of my fatherland, to be simple and reliable.

Truly inspiring.  RIP.

On Google’s Transparency Report

While catching up with my RSS feeds, I saw the latest Google Transparency Report from the end of last month.  The summary of the report basically says that the number of governmental requests to remove content from Google is raising quite rapidly.

transparency report 2013

There are also some clarifications of why that might be:

  • There was a sharp increase in requests from Brazil, where we received 697 requests to remove content from our platforms (of which 640 were court orders—meaning we received an average of 3.5 court orders per day during this time period), up from 191 during the first half of the year. The big reason for the spike was the municipal elections, which took place last fall. Nearly half of the total requests—316 to be exact—called for the removal of 756 pieces of content related to alleged violations of the Brazilian Electoral Code, which forbids defamation and commentary that offends candidates. We’re appealing many of these cases, on the basis that the content is protected by freedom of expression under the Brazilian Constitution.
  • Another place where we saw an increase was from Russia, where a new law took effect last fall. In the first half of 2012, we received six requests, the most we had ever received in any given six-month period from Russia. But in the second half of the year, we received 114 requests to remove content—107 of them citing this new law.
  • During this period, we received inquiries from 20 countries regarding YouTube videos containing clips of the movie “Innocence of Muslims.” While the videos were within our Community Guidelines, we restricted videos from view in several countries in accordance with local law after receiving formal legal complaints. We also temporarily restricted videos from view in Egypt and Libya due to the particularly difficult circumstances there.

One thing that I am missing is a correlation to the actual size of the Google index.  I mean, I of course understand that it is incomparably larger than all these requests combined, but I keep thinking that the more content you’ll index, the more removal requests you’ll get.  So, I think, it would be interesting to see the correlation in growth of removal requests to the growth of the Google’s global index.

Russia Adding $50 Billion To Space Effort

Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled today a new $50 billion effort to maintain and extend the country’s space capabilities. Part of this initiative is a new spaceport located in Russia, which will lead to the first manned launches from Russian soil in 2018. Manned launches currently originate from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

On one hand, it’s nice to see that they are at least pretending to pick the good causes.  On the other hand, it sad that history shows that very little of these money, if any at all, will make it to the space programs.  Most of it will disappear in the same way as before…

The USSR is a country that poses a serious threat to the Western world. I am not referring to the military threat is not actually there. Our countries are sufficiently well armed, including nuclear weapons.

I’m talking about the economic threat. With the planned economy and the particular combination of moral and material incentives,

The Soviet Union managed to achieve high economic indicators.

The percentage of growth in GNP is almost twice that in our country’s . If add to this the enormous natural resources available to the Union, with the sound management of the economy are real rather than the possibilities of expel the global market.

[...]

So we have always taken steps to weaken the Soviet Union’s economy and create economic difficulties there, where the main role is played by the arms race.

An important place in our politics was the consideration of the weaknesses of the constitution of the USSR. Formally, it provided for the immediate withdrawal of the USSR by any republic which so wished, by decision of the Supreme Soviet and by simple majority.

True that the realization of this right was practically impossible due to the cementing role of the Communist Party and security organs. And yet, in this constitutional peculiarity, had potential opportunities for our policy.

Unfortunately and despite all our efforts for a long time the political situation in the USSR remained stable over a long period of time. We had a complicated situation, but soon we got a briefing on the early demise of the Soviet Soviet leader and the possibility of coming to power, with our help, of a person through which we could make our intentions in this area.

That was the assessment of my experts. Always conducive to the formation of a qualified group of experts on the Soviet Union and when the situation required it encouraged the emigration of Soviet specialists needed.

That person was Mikhail Gorbachev, whom our experts qualify as a reckless person, suggestible and very ambitious. He had good relations with most of the Soviet political elite, so he came to power, with our help, it was possible.

The activity of the Popular Front did not require large investments: duplicators comes to expenses and provide funding at officials Yet what was required significant funding support for prolonged strikes by miners. Great debates between you export raised the question on the appointment of Boris Yeltsin as leader of the Popular Front with the prospect of his subsequent election to the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation, in counterbalance to the leadership of Gorbachev.

Most experts were pronounced against Yeltsin’s candidacy because of the peculiarities of his character and his past.

However, there were corresponding contacts, agreements and the decision to force Yeltsin’s candidacy, was definitely adopted. Although with great difficulty, Yeltsin was elected President of the Supreme Soviet of Russia and immediately adopted the declaration of sovereignty of Russia.

Margaret Thatcher