Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Staraya Samara

Samara, Russia
September 2009

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Samara, Russia
September 2009

Сентябрь 2009

Monday, March 22, 2010


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Christmas 2003, fragment

December 2003

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Kem', Russia
August 2009

Август 2009

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ZIL-131, Solovki

ZIL-131 with a radar set (?) on Bolshoy Solovetsky Island
August 2009

ЗИЛ-131 с локатором на Соловецком острове
Август 2009

Monday, March 15, 2010

Buildings in Samara

Samara, Russia.
September 2009.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Links in Comments and Parasitism

Today, a gentleman named John left a comment on the Solovki post.  The comment said:
Absolutely beautiful picture. I'd love to go and see other countries and their cultures.
This seemingly-innocuous sentence is actually a little trap — when you click on the word "picture", it takes you to John's gardening blog.  Why does John want you to go to his blog?  To create a possibility of you clicking on an ad, so John can make some passive income.  He also gets a little boost from the search engines by having a one-way link from a hugely popular resource (proof: google "terry gross x ira glass").

I wouldn't have minded if John simply left a URL.  It's the trickery that basically makes me feel like I'm letting a total scumbag crash on my couch, possibly forever.

I don't want to moderate comments, it just seems to kind of defeat the purpose of the internet.

So I decided to disable links in comments.  Well, you can't — Blogger doesn't have such an option. It's really not that hard though, it's not like comments are graffiti — it's just HTML. So I added some special magic codes to replace an anchor tag with its text.

I figure if a commenter's intentions are pure, he'll probably leave an actual URL, in which case the reader will have to select the link and paste it into a new tab's navigation bar.  Commenters with impure intentions — ones that try to trick my readers into clicking ads on their gardening blogs — will leave us with possible non sequiturs.  In John's case, the special magic codes simply turn him into an extra super-nice internet guy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

LuAZ in Moscow

LuAZ in Moscow, September 2009. Near Petrovsko-Razumovskaya Metro station.

ЛуАЗ-969М «Волынь».

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010


Saturday, March 6, 2010


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


The big building on the left is 715 Peralta St. in West Oakland.

The little house next to it used to be owned by a family who creatively purchased it for 561 thousand dollars in 2005. Some time in 2007 they moved away and the house — bank-owned at this point — was vacant for a long time, over a year. Zillow says it sold for $358,000 in June of 2008.

To the right of the little house there is a church parking lot, followed by the church.

Every Sunday for three years we heard thunderous sermons and singing, saw people congregate afterward around the table with food, and watched large American cars empty the parking lot and slowly depart in various directions. The church was pink.

In late 2009 the church was sold to people whose ancestors came from somewhere in Asia (real Asia, not this one). They painted the church yellowish green, fixed the windows, kicked out the guy with dreadlocks who lived in a VW Bus in the parking lot, and while it is possible that they started singing, we've never heard a sound coming from the church again. I've seen one American car in the parking lot — a Chevy van which carried the workers who came to install a hood over the back door.

The two people standing against the fence did something that attracted a measurable part of the Oakland police force to come check it out. My wife says they hauled someone away.

The white Buick behind the police car will not be here long. It was used as a getaway vehicle in a shooting that happened a few weeks ago — they left before the cops showed up. Just a few days ago one could witness a very probable drug deal conducted through the driver's side window of the Buick.

I can't tell you how many such Buicks have been parked on our block over the last several years. They come, do their thing, and then they vanish. Usually via a city-sponsored tow truck.

I'm sure that most residents of 715 Peralta aren't criminals. It is safe to say that every single one of them has been somewhat unlucky in life, to end up living at a place like that, but very likely most of them, and probably even the overwhelming majority, aren't surviving by committing crimes.

So, maybe there are three, four active criminals in that building. They have guns, sell drugs, rape women, don't pay child support. They conduct street business, naturally, on the street where they live. With people who live elsewhere, but come here, to 715 Peralta.

I want to know who owns this building. They pay property taxes. They put up ads on Craigslist. They fix up the apartments after the fires. This building is somebody's business, a business that turns an otherwise low key part of the hood into a cradle of crime.

There is a parking lot to the left of the building. Every night a beige GMC truck parks in its entrance and several men sleep in it. You can tell by the fogged up windshield.