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Comment: Re:Again? (Score 3, Interesting) 557

by Strange Quark Star (#46933439) Attached to: Actual Results of Crimean Secession Vote Leaked

From what I heard from my relatives in Simferopol, even the Crimean Tatars lined up to vote "for Putin" and now that Russian passports are starting to be issued the Tatars are the first in line to get them. It's quite telling that even most of the Tatars choose Russia as the lesser evil.

And from what I can tell by living the first part of my life there and regularly visiting my friends and relatives, the general populace is really fed up with the Ukrainian government and, if old enough, reminisce about and miss the Soviet days, which now translates to longing for reunion with Russia.

It is really bizarre to us (ethnic Russians from/living in Simferopol, Crimea) how thoroughly the western media misses the fact that most Crimeans really want to join Russia or at least part from Ukraine.

Comment: Re:Politcs vs. Science (Score 4, Informative) 291

by Strange Quark Star (#46644787) Attached to: NASA Halts Non-ISS Work With Russia Over Ukraine Crisis

I was born in Simferopol and most of my relatives still live there. Here's a few things I can tell you almost first-hand.

The vast majority of people there are ethnic Russians who don't even speak Ukrainian. Khrushchev's 1954 transfer of Crimea to Ukraine did not mean anything to them until the Soviet Union split up. Since then the Ukrainian government introduced Ukrainian as the official language of the autonomous republic of Crimea, forcing the Russians to learn Ukrainian for anything official. Then they made Ukrainian the mandatory first foreign language in schools and soon the first language spoken; teaching the children's native Russian as a foreign language once a week.

Any foreign investments (like the EU's) went straight into the oligarchs' pockets, leaving health care, infrastructure, etc. in ruins. No running water after 10:00 PM, and even then it's just cold.
Pensioners like my grandmother often continue to work well beyond retirement to supplement their income enough to get by. Most medical equipment in hospitals is still from the Soviet era; clinics are usually out of medical supplies, i.e. if you want treatment you are expected to bring your own antiseptics, bandages, etc. Paying doctors for better treatment is a given.

Putin's invasion was ridiculous, no question. But honestly, that's exactly what many Crimeans were desperately hoping for for a long time. Say what you like about the Russian government, but it's way better than anything Ukraine's ever seen. Remember the fist fights in Kiev's Parliament? A regular show.

Changes coming to Crimea:
Return to the Russian school system in addition to local Ukrainian schools.
25% increase in retirement pay every quarter until it reaches Russian standards (100% increase overall) in addition to widow's pension, which previously has just not been payed at all.
Complete modernization of health infrastructure.
Repair and restoration of public infrastructure and venues including parks and plazas (you should see the current state they're in).
Exploitation of the abundant natural gas reservoirs off shore; there has just not been any funding previously. Crimea is expected to become self-sufficient and maybe even export natural gas at a profit.

A major concern surrounding the annexation was Crimea's dependence on tourism as it's main source of income, as most tourists came from Ukraine. Now they simply halved the price of plane tickets from mainland Russia to Crimea to encourage Tourism.

I don't know if the results of the referendum were falsified, it would not surprise me as it's always been the case with elections over there. But all Crimeans, not only ethnic Russians would greatly benefit from a change in government for the reasons mentioned above and they know it. My relatives told me about huge lines of people waiting at 9 AM, soaking in the rain to vote for joining Russia, including Tatars and Ukrainians. They also told me of the unprecedented joy and general happiness on the streets after the result was made public and even more so when Crimea finally rejoined Russia.

I want to stress the fact that I am by no means a supporter of Russia, its government or Putin. I despise their corruption and violations of human rights. But what is happening in Crimea is very positive change for the people on that peninsula from what I can tell by reading the news and keeping in touch with my friends in relatives there that are directly impacted by the events.

Comment: "Retail Price?" (Score 1) 633

by Strange Quark Star (#41453291) Attached to: Beer Is Cheaper In the US Than Anywhere Else In the World
I don't know where they got their figures for beer prices from. They say .5 l of beer in Germany is $ 1.9. That's a very high price for beer at convenience stores, maybe, but high quality beers go for at most € 0.7 ($ 0.9) around here, in supermarkets. There are brands going for as low as 23 Eurocents, some cans below even that. What do they mean by $ 1.9 retail?

Comment: Reverse white-balance (Score 2) 215

by Strange Quark Star (#41012687) Attached to: Curiosity's Latest High-Res Photo Looks Like Earth
How about doing the reverse, i. e. adjust the white-balance of photos taken on earth to look like they were taken on mars? Can this be done accurately if we take the picture of Curiosity's sundial as a martian reference? I think it would be very interesting to see earthly scenes the way they would look on mars!

Comment: Re:Philosophical issue arises (Score 1) 72

by Strange Quark Star (#33514292) Attached to: Translating Brain Waves Into Words
Russian was my first language, then I moved to Germany (age 5) and starting at age 6 German became my 'main language', in that I started thinking in it and being more fluent in it than in Russian, which I only used at home. At age 16 I set myself a challenge: think only in English! After some time, it became my thinking language, although maths were still done in German (German school, German university).

As the others, when talking in a specific language I think it, too. Recently I started forcing myself to count and do maths in English as well, and now it became effortless. At some point, I found thinking in Japanese to be quite pleasant, but as my vocabulary is rather limited I switched back to English. Really, my reasons for thinking in a particular language are convenience and aesthetics.

What I am dreaming in? Just this night I was dreaming in English; I can distinctly remember English phrases that I said.

When making personal notes, I write them down in English. Also, whenever there is a choice between English and some other language (web sites, books) I prefer the former.
Even though I've only ever been once to England for one week and have no English-speaking friends/relatives, it became my most used language. I just like it way more than my other two alternatives and it's much more practical.

I am 21 years old now and speak fluently in German, Russian, English and to a limited extent in Japanese.
Now I use Russian to talk to relatives and my girlfriend; German to my friends, acquaintances, generally people around here; English for consuming media (movies, books, internet).

Comment: Re:Sesame Street & the Importance of Bilingual (Score 1) 1077

by Strange Quark Star (#27409579) Attached to: Shouldn't Every Developer Understand English?
My case is almost the same, only I switched from manuals to science fiction novels at some point. English lessons at school consisted mostly of handheld console games for me.
In addition to that, I learned German (to the greatest part; of course I had some interaction as well) from TV at age 5, when I moved to Germany. When school started (a year later) I could read, write and speak better German than most of my native classmates.

Back on topic, I agree with the notion that at least developers should all have a functional English at their disposal, it makes life easier. Also, there isn't nearly as much (useful) content for developers to be found on German or Russian websites, as far as I've discovered so far. Well, in my opinion that also applies to most other topics as well, but that's a different story.

+ - 2001 Monolith Day

Submitted by Strange Quark Star
Strange Quark Star (1157447) writes "Tomorrow will be April 1st, 2009. In other notation: 09/04/01. The precise proportions of the black monolith from Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, also the squares of the first three integers!
A fine occasion to remember one of the greatest Science-Fiction authors, deceased last march."

Comment: Re:Miku Miku Ni Shite Ageru (Score 1) 437

by Strange Quark Star (#26768077) Attached to: The Deceptive Perfection of Auto-Tune
I enjoyed Miku's rendition of Kraftwerk's Computer Love:

It combines my favorite Kraftwerk song with Japanese lyrics (and much more of them than in the original piece).

When I first encountered this work on YouTube I wasn't aware of Vocaloid and thought it to be a vocoded/otherwise edited human voice :D

An adequate bootstrap is a contradiction in terms.