Archive for the category ‘English’

Russia’s useful idiots

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I have read recently an article about Russia’s Western supporters. The article mentions some of the Western intellectuals that had a soft spot for Russia. You can find it here.

I was literally puzzled that there were so many people in the West who have respected, admired and were faithful followers of Russia. In general, I have also a soft spot for this country. A fact that may be explained by me being a Soviet-born person and being raised in a country where I was forced by circumstances to get acquainted with the Russian language and culture.

However, it is unimaginable that someone who grew up in the West can have such strong affection towards Russia, especially for Russia’s external politics regardless of which century we refer to. In my humble opinion, nobody today should agree with what Russia is doing in Eastern Europe. Surely, I don’t want to see Western politicians consenting to Putin’s proposals to create a pseudo-Soviet Union from the ashes of the old one.

At the same time, I have an acquaintance on Facebook. She was born in Ukraine and was raised in one of the Baltic countries. She is close to my age, had studied at some point in Denmark and lives now in Italy. One can say that she is definitely a person that has interacted with a world where the information flows freely and where people can speak their mind. Additionally, she benefited from everything the EU stands for: free movement, democracy, security, and liberty of choosing how to think. The young generation in Ukraine had to fight for hoping to have this world at home. A world that she took for granted.

However, looking at her facebook wall, I can’t wonder what went wrong? She shares a lot of articles about Russia and its game in Ukraine. What’s improper with this, one might ask? Well, the majority are from the Voice of Russia newspaper which is heavily used by the Kremlin to brainwash its readers. The information presented by this paper is so inaccurate that I feel treated as a stupid and uninformed person every time I read anything written by its “journalists”. One might suggest that maybe she wants to present both interpretations of the issue. Well, her comments clearly show her enthusiasm about Russia’s actions towards not just Ukraine, but all the countries in the Eastern Partnership.

At the end of the day, my questions are: how did this happen? What made her look towards Russia’s post-Soviet agenda with such great admiration? How did she become one of Russia’s useful Western idiots?

P.S. Please don’t interpret this text as me being a huge supporter of the Western countries and their foreign policy strategy. However, if I were to choose between one evil and another, I will always pick the lesser one.

Charade (1963)

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There are a lot of good movies. Hell, there is a whole industry with quite an interesting history. There are types of movies, types of characters, types of actors, types of awards, types of…

I like watching movies. I don’t have a certain kind that I like. I don’t choose to watch a movie because it has a certain actor, actress or director. In order to watch a certain type of movie I also need a particular mood. Therefore, I might end up watching movies from silly romantic comedies to hard core dramas.

Today I’ve woken up with the taste for some old music. Hence, I went back in the 60’s. Since I was there why not pick up a movie from those years to watch on a very sunny and lovely Friday? But which one is the right one? Well, from one youtube video to another I ended up watching an interview with Audrey Hepburn whom I believe to be one of the greatest actresses of all times. So, that made my decision easier. I had to find a movie from the 60’s with Audrey Hepburn in it. I’ve decided to watch Charade. After 113 minutes I didn’t regret my choice. In case you’ve not watched it and you are not sure if you want to do it, then maybe some information that I’ve took from the IMDB website will convince you :-).

1) Due to the suspense, the stars, and the frequent plot twists, many people believe that this is an Alfred Hitchcock film. He was not involved in the making of the film at all. This confusion has prompted fans of the film to call it „the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made”.

2) Amazing Quotes:
——————————-
Reggie Lampert: Silvie, I am going to get a divorce.
Sylvie: From Charles?
Reggie Lampert: He’s the only one husband I have.
——————————-
Reggie Lampert: I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn’t possibly meet anyone else.
Peter Joshua: Well, if anyone goes on the critical list, let me know.
——————————-
Reggie Lampert: You’re blocking my view.
Peter Joshua: Ohh… which view would you prefer?
Reggie Lampert: The one you’re blocking.
——————————–
Sylvie Gaudel: He must’ve known Charles pretty well.
Reggie Lampert: How can you tell?
Sylvie Gaudel: He’s allergic to him.
——————————–
Reggie Lampert: Here it comes, the fatherly talk. You forget I’m already a widow.
Peter Joshua: Well, so was Juliet, at fifteen.
Reggie Lampert: I’m not fifteen.
Peter Joshua: Well, that’s your trouble. You’re too old for me.
——————————–
Alexander Dyle: What do I have to do to satisfy you? Become the next victim?
Reggie Lampert: That’s a start anyway.
——————————–
Reggie Lampert: Hello, Mr. Dyle.
Alexander Dyle: Reggie?
Reggie Lampert: Well, that’s the only name I’ve got.
——————————–
Peter Joshua: Why do you think Tex did it?
Reggie Lampert: Because I really suspect Gideon and it’s always the person you don’t suspect.
Peter Joshua: Do women find it feminine to be so illogical, or can’t they help it?
——————————–
Alexander Dyle: All right, get set for the story of my life.
Reggie Lampert: Fiction or non-fiction?
——————————–
Tex Panthollow: She batted them pretty little eyes at you, and you fell for it like an egg from a tall chicken!
——————————–
Adam Canfield: We didn’t steal it, there’s no law against stealing stolen money.
Reggie Lampert: Of course there is!
Adam Canfield: There is?
Reggie Lampert: Yes!
Adam Canfield: When did they pass such a silly law?
——————————–
Reggie Lampert: Oh, I love you, Adam, Alex, Peter, Brian, whatever your name is, I love you! I hope we have a lot of boys and we can name them all after you!
——————————–

Anyway, I would recommend this movie to everyone that wants to watch something funny, with suspence and with bright and brittle lines. This movie is the proof that one doesn’t have to create scenes with some type of disgusting content in order to name it a comedy. A fantastic movie, Charades!

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Some notes about…

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…the last 4-5 years.

The last couple of days I enjoyed myself reading about the global financial crisis. Well I read a short timeline of the crisis of about 96 pages. Even if I already had a culture of what is/was happening around the glob from a financial perspective I thought these pages were really helpful to understand that those in power have no idea how to handle the situation we are all in. Thus, we should keep our hopes low and wish that the crisis will decide on its own to take a break from us.

It was hard for me to understand how people that have access to all sort of research can stand in front of the whole world and declare that the troubles in the economy will not affect anybody. I’m just amazed by the flippancy of those whose job is keeping an eye on the country’s real economic situation.

I will start with the most important statement:

May, 2007: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says growing number of mortgage defaults will not seriously harm the US economy.

Well obviously, the following years showed that Ben Bernanke had no clue about the US economy and how it will affect the whole world.

In just one year, Chancellor Alistair Darling warns that the economy is facing its worst crisis for 60 years in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, saying the current downturn would be more „profound and long-lasting” than most had feared (August, 2008).

…and the „real fun” begins:

September, 2007: Depositors withdraw 1bn pounds from Northern Rock in what is the biggest run on a British bank for more than a century. They continue to take out their money until the government steps in to guarantee their savings.

It took one year for the crisis to cross the ocean:

September, 2008: European Commission warns that the UK, Germany and Spain will go into recession by the end of the year.

Here is something really interesting which is very much related with the subject that dominated the front page of the economic magazines during the last days, namely the guaranteed deposits. Yes, I’m talking about feeling safe enough to keep your money in a bank deposit, a feeling which is seriously shaken now.

September, 2008: The British government increases its guarantee for British banks deposits to 50000 pounds.

September, 2008: The Irish government says it will guarantee all deposits in the country’s main banks for two years.

Slowly, but surely the European debt crisis becomes the bomb that continues to affect the world economy.

January, 2009: Europe debt crisis evident in Greek mire.

After almost two years Ben Bernanke states the obvious, namely that the world deals with a very serious financial crisis.

March, 2009: US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke says the world is suffering from the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.

This is how I interpret the next two facts. So far it is known that the car makers and the financial sector encounter losses. The number of unemployed people increased. As a result people have a lot of free time which they use to play Nintendo games and drink some beers :-).

May, 2009: Video games firm Nintendo has posted an 8.5% rise in its net annual profits.

August, 2009: Brewing giant ABInBev has reported a strong growth in profits as the impact of the merger late last year of Anheuser-Busch and InBev is felt.

For some reason the European Commission decided in the fall of 2009 that the future looks bright.

September, 2009: The eurozone is emerging from recession, according to the latest forecast from the European Commission.

I appreciate that OECD figured it out that unemployment will be the next big crisis.

September, 2009: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has called for innovative policies to tackle high global unemployment.

A good news coming from the IMF that the global economy is recovering. Well, that didn’t happen!

October, 2009: The global economy is expanding again and financial conditions have improved significantly, the International Monetary Fund has said.

Guess what?! The ECB was sure in 2009 that the worst is behind us. Again, wrong assumption!

October, 2009: The eurozone economy has seen the worst of the recession and is „out of freefall”, the president of the European Central Bank has said.

We see again some worries about the unemployment situation.

October, 2009: The OECD has said unemployment in its member countries has edged higher.

Finally, a statement that was in line with the reality.

October, 2009: It is „still premature” to talk about the beginning of a recovery despite growing optimism, according to the influential Ernst&Young Item Club.

Again we see that the OECD was very positive about the future economic state of the world.

November, 2009: Major economies across the world are showing strong signs of recovery, the OECD has said.

November, 2009: The OECD says growth and recovery are expected in 2010 in just about all world regions.

Somebody learned they should be careful with their statements.

December, 2009: Although the US economy is improving, it is too early to say that the recovery will last, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has said.

In the beginning of the spring of 2010 Greece finally shows the real numbers of the country’s budget deficit. Thus, Greece starts to talk about a financial rescue plan with the other eurozone countries and the IMF.

By the end of 2010 two other countries need to be rescued, Ireland and Portugal.

The last one is the best! Europe’s situation is the one scaring the world. That coming from the president of the country where everything started.

September, 2011: The US president, Barack Obama, says the debt crisis in Europe is „scaring the world” and that leaders in the eurozone are not dealing with the issue quickly enough.

2012 didn’t bring anything better. The same bad statements and decisions from those that are elected to improve the global economy.

Let’s summarize. As a result of poor decision making we moved from a world financial crisis to an European debt crisis and I’m pretty sure to a very bad unemployment crisis.

One day

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I just finished reading „One day” by David Nicholls. This is the book on which the movie with the same name is based. A very interesting and easy to read book. This author succeeded to make me want to read it without any long breaks. I loved one paragraph in the text so much that I wanted to share it with you. So, you can find it below :-).

„She began walking again, south towards The Mound. ‘Live each day as if it’s your last’, that was the conventional advice, but really who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at…something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.”

Iar cazarea…

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Bat-o vina!

Acest articol este extrem de important pentru toţi cei care îşi caută un locuşor de închiriat pe piaţa privată în Copenhaga. Este experienţa mea şi a Dragobeatului meu. La început am vrut să public eu dar am hotărât că e mai bine să apară în ziarul universităţii pentru ca să fie cât mai mulţi atenţionaţi de astfel de incidente. Mai jos dau copy-paste la tot articolul din ziar (textul este în engleză):

„Sorin and his girlfriend have been having a hard time in Copenhagen finding a roof over their heads

When they finally found an apartment in Copenhagen, it was a scam

Finding a place to stay in Copenhagen is a hard job, especially if you have no idea of the local housing market. But the story of Romanian students Sorin Pirau and his girlfriend makes your normal housing stress seem like a relaxing beer in the hot tub.


When they were admitted in May 2010, the University told them that they would not help them to find a place to stay.
So they followed the standard procedure: They set up an account on the main renting websites (Boligportal, dba and Lejebolig) and signed up for the dorm waiting lists on dorm organisers CIU and KollegiernesKontor.dk.


More than 150 rejection e-mails

»We arrived in Copenhagen in August and we hadn’t received any offer in the meantime. We had an offer from a dorm later in December, but we could’t accept it because at the time we had a place to stay, and we could’t leave it without losing the deposit,« Sorin says.


So this spring he and his girlfriend started to search a new place.


»I got more than 150 rejection e-mails on Boligportal,« says Sorin. »The only positive reply I had was from a Danish woman, who showed us her apartment and told us that she was interested in renting it to us.«


Six months rent. Pay the day after


When they met to sign the contract she told them that the apartment was owned by her and her father and that she wanted to rent the place because she was starting an internship in Germany.


»A condition of the contract was that we had to pay three months deposit plus three months rent in advance. In total, it was DKK 25,000,« Sorin says.


»It is a lot of money. But we had to pay the same when we moved to the apartment where we are living now, and so we thought it was fine. She asked us to pay her on the very some day. I told her that it was not possible, because of problems transferring the money and so,« he adds.


Had no right to sub-let apartment


The contract was accurate and it seemed fine. But when one of his Danish friends checked the address on krak.dk, the name of the owner was different from the name of the woman they talked with.


Sorin and his friends tried to understand what was going on:


»It was a housing co-operative, and we called them. They told us that she in fact had no right to rent the place. Moreover, the actual owner of the apartment had tried to kick out the woman we talked with, because she violated the contract by smoking, ruining the furniture and having pets«.


Things went from bad to worse when Sorin asked the woman for an approval of the renting by the housing co-operative, and she forwarded him a faked e-mail saying that everything was fine.


Need a counsellor for Master students


»We have been lucky to find out there was something wrong with the contract: Many friends told me that they would have paid the money on the spot«, says Sorin.


»This is what you do when you are desperate. And these things are harder for the internationals. For example, I didn’t know anything about the housing co-operative system. In my country you are either landlord or tenant, and there aren’t other possibilities!«


Pirau is surprised that the housing co-operative did not consider what happened to him as a problem. That said, he hasn’t notified the police.


He doesn’t want to have troubles with the Danish legal system, he says, after all their problems with the Danish housing market. When the University Post queried this, he simply replied with indignation:


»I don’t have the time and money to solve this problem«.


The University should have at least one housing counsellor for international Master’s students, Sorin suggests.


»In my case it would have been great to have someone I could ask to have a look at my contract, and to tell me what a housing co-operative is and so forth«.”



Aşa că aveţi grijă şi verificaţi de 3,4,5 ori înainte să plătiţi. Aparent nici măcar faptul că este un cont într-o bancă daneză nu garantează că nu veţi fi înşelaţi.

Grades for autumn courses

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In the fall when I had to choose my courses, I was quite curious about the grades from the courses I had in mind to take. But I didn’t have any luck to find them out and I just signed up for the courses that I found interesting. Maybe if someone have told me that at International Trade and Investment only 35% of the students pass, then probably I would have had some second thoughts before signing up for it.


At the Departament of Economics in KU, the grades are published online, but after a month or so they disappear. They prepare this part of website for the next semester’s grades.


So, in order to help the actual/future students at the Department of Economics to choose a course (of course, if there is someone else who thinks that knowing the last year’s grades is helpful) I will put on my blog the grades from the fall semester 2010. If you don’t know the Danish grading scale then look here in order to get an idea.


Advanced Development Economics – Macro Aspects
Advanced Macroeconometrics
Advance Macroeconomic 1
Advance Macroeconomics 2
Advance Microeconomics
Behavioral Economics and Finance
Contract Theory and the Economics of Organization
Corporate Finance and Incentives
Corporate Finance Theory
The Danish Welfare Model
Demography
The Economics of the EU
Europe in the World Economy
Financial Econometrica A: Univariate Models for Volatility
Game Theory
International Monetary Economics
International Trade and Investment: Theory and Policy
Macroeconomics C
Microeconomics C
Mathematical Analysis
Monetary Economics: The Economics of Banking
Operation Research
Political Economics
Social Norms and Public Policy
Strategic Management (5 ECTS)
Tax Policy
Telecommunications Economics


Here you will also find the grades from the seminars:


Essay course in Advanced Industrial Organization and Competition Policy
Advanced Organization Theory: Leadership in Organizations
Advanced Organization Theory: New trends in organizational and managerial practices
Advanced Monetary Macro
Behavioral and Experimental Economics
Cointegration analysis and economic policy
Cultural Economics
Empirical Trade and Globalization
Finance
Health Economics

Issues in Development Economics

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Since I’m in my period of hard studying and I’m finding out a lot of new things, I thought I should share them with you. Well, actually, there are informations that I already heard about but forgot some. So, in order for you to know from where I’m listing my knowledge I will tell you the name of my course: Advanced Development Economics – The Micro Aspects. It is a really interesting course if you are fond of the main problems that developing countries confront with. Some of the topics discussed during the semester were: Household economics, Health and nutrition, Human capital and education, Land markets and property rights, Savings and credit, Risk and insurance, Social networks and learning, Institutions and corruption.


Today going through my lectures notes from the „Health and nutrition” part, I found some newsworthy info:

  • Keeping an eye on pregnant women is the same of saying that one is keeping an eye on the FUTURE;
  • An extra child, net of birth weight effects, significantly decreases the schooling progress, the expected college enrollment, grades in school and the assessed health of all children in the family. This was the assumption entailed by the Chinese authorities when they imposed the 1 child policy. But after several studies and a lot of statistics it appears that this assumption is wrong. Maybe due to these studies China abolished the law. 🙂

Another thing that I will mention in this article is information about HIV/AIDS. When my teacher mentioned it I was pretty surprised. The situation imply a boy and a girl who have unprotected sex. The result of their act can be:

  • if the girl is infected with HIV and the boy is perfectly healthy then the risk of the boy of getting ill is 0.001%;
  • if it is the other way around, then the risk of the girl to get infected is higher (0.007%).

So, what have we learned from this?

  • That women should eat healthy and get needed calories during the pregnancy period;
  • That a new born child in a family does not directly influence the health, schooling progress and college enrollment of the other family’s children. But, of course, be aware that if one doesn’t have enough money to raise one child then it should be a good idea to stop making babies after having one already;
  • And, the most important, do NOT have unprotected sex.


Googling

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Yesterday I was searching for some information about my village, Văsieni. And one result was the blog of an American couple who are volunteers at the Peace Corp and they were/(are) living at a host family in my home village.


And one of them wrote about the most important event of the social life of the village, called HRAM. I present the text below:


„In Moldova, each village, town and city has their holiday called ‘hram’. While Chisinau had a hram it was more like a big street festival and less like a the villages festivals that happen all over Moldova this time of year. Therefore, Heath and I decided to go back to Vasieni and stay will our wonderful family to see what hram is really about. Unfortuantely, we had work to do in the morning so we missed the morning festiviteis which included a soccer game and men wrestling for farm animals. Before I leave Moldova I must see this!


Heath and I arrived around 3 or 4 just as the family was beginning the processes of preparing the table for the hram celebration. Preparing for a ‘masa’, which translates into ‘table’ is quite an event. It is unbelievable how many dishes they manage to fit on the table. Many traditional items were served, salad with mayonnaise, slices of salami with homemade cheese, fried chicken cutlets, raw fish (which we are not allowed to eat), sarmale (rice, meat and vegetables wrapped in cabbage) and răcituri (chicken and vegetables cooked and then they remain in the the broth for several days until the broth congeals – it is not my cup of tea). For desert we had crepes and a homemade cake that included peanuts, kiwi, banana and strawberry frosting within the layers. Looked a little interesting, but it was delicious. Kay Rose rolled in a little after dinner (a PC volunteer who lived with our family during training the year before).


Before the meal began each person recieved a loaf of bread in which you kissed and then stuck a burning candle into. At first I thought this was just a hram tradition, but later was informed that it is done to honor those who died within the last year. (A close friend of the family had a heart attack about a month before). I think we had about 25 people at hram that night, all relatives.


After the eating and drinking of house wine and cognac, the dancing begun. We all walked toward the center of town where a concert was going on. The whole town was out dancing to local performers and at one point a high school group preformed a hip-hop dance and a group of about 7 middle school boys played a song with traditional wooden flutes. It was an excellent flute troop. We got back to the house at little after midnight and helped clean and wash all the dishes. It was really cold that night so our host mom gave Heath warm winter pajamas to wear – you must check out this picture.


It was all and all an amazing day with wonderful people.”


When I was reading the post I realised that I totally forgot about this tradition and how people expect it in order to relax. Unfortunatelly, from my point of view, they drink more than really having fun. But hey, this is only me talking.


The idea of this article is to present for those of you who read my blog the perspective of a foreigner about our traditional holiday.


P.S. Pentru o traducere puteţi oricând să folosiţi GoogleTranslate. 🙂

Do I like Mondays?

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There are days that change the world. Days that are just as unique as they are immortal. Days that tell their own story of superhuman deeds and ordinary mortal drama. Of spectacular visions and bitter realities. Of desire and dreams, tragedy and comedy, passion and pain. These unique days are something very special and they are all connected by a sense of quiet magic – wait, no – a concrete fact: they are all Mondays.


I have read this in a museum and I was something like….WHAT??????? How could the one who wrote this think that from all the days of the week, Monday is the special one? I don’t think that I speak only for myself when I say that Monday is the day I like the least in a week. The thought of waking early in the morning after a relaxing weekend is killing me. Well, but Monday has come again so I have to make the best of this day!


Hope you all have a great week!


French style

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Let’s say that I was quite lucky to find this song. I’m not that in the French music or French anything. So, probably the best way to describe this is that I found this song by mistake. I was searching for a totally different american song and I got in loved with this beautiful French voice, Joyce Jonathan.


This girl had the power to remind me about my childhood’s dreams. One of them was to spend some time in France, especially in Paris. Actually, a day at Disneyland was/is my greatest wish for a dream day. I loved everything about the French nation. I was curious about the people, culture and history. Oh, well a girl is allowed to dream….


Enjoy!