Rybinsk Museum features dazzling array of art


The Rybinsk State History, Architecture and Art Museum-Preserve, founded in 1910, remains one of Russia’s premier museums, dating back to 1910.

The museum, located in the Upper Volga region of Russia along the Volga River, houses more than 120,000 items, including a good bit of foreign art.

Rybinsk, which was called Andropov for a short time in the 1980s after former Soviet Union General Secretary of the Communist Party Yuri Andropov, dates back nearly 1,000 year and is the second-largest city in Russia’s Yaroslavl Oblast, lying at the confluence of the Volga and Sheksna rivers.

The museum’s collection consists of items from the estates of country noble family, old museums of the Yaroslavl region and gifts from scientists.

Girl-with-bicycle1Among museum highlights are exhibits that includes a gallery of paintings from paintings that range from the 17th to the 20th century, country estate icons from the 16th through the 19th centuries and portrait galleries of famous Rybinsk families.

Numerous foreign artists from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and France are represented in the museum’s collection.

The Rybinsk museum’s exhibits aren’t limited to art, either. There is section dedicated to the nature of Rybinsk region that includes stuffed bear, lynx, fox and wild boar.

There is also a hall of archeology that includes remains of ancient animals and the remains of ancient area Slavic settlements and a section devoted to the history and development of the town in the 16th and 17th centuries.

(HT: Europeana Blog)



Brazilian surfer catches, rides 100-foot wave

Carlos Burle rides 100 foot wave

A Brazilian surfer, taking advantage of conditions created by a violent storm that ravaged Europe, caught and rode a wave estimated to have been a staggering 100 feet high earlier this week.

Carlos Burle, 45, took on the monster swell Monday at Praia do Norte, near the fishing village of Nazare, Portugal.

It is believed to be the biggest wave ever ridden, and easily tops the previous record, a 78-foot wave ridden by Hawaiian Garrett McNamara at the same location in 2011.

The day had plenty of excitement: Earlier Burle was surfing with fellow Brazilian Maya Gabeira when she was knocked unconscious by the strong waves and nearly drowned.

Gabeira was dragged onto shore and given medical attention on the beach before being taken to hospital. She sustained a broken ankle, according to The Telegraph.

“It was luck. We never know when we will be catching the wave. I still hadn’t surfed any wave and everyone had already had their rides. Maya almost died,” Burle told Surfer Today. “For me, it was a big adrenaline moment to get back there after what happened.”

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Weimar’s woes show economics’ human side

money kite

Economics is often perceived as equal parts boring, dreary and as dry as the Texas high plains in late July.

That view is based in no small part on the experience of decades of college underclassmen driven into a confused stupor by such concepts as marginal cost curves and aggregate demand-aggregate supply models.

If professors and economists want to catch the attention of students and others, they would do well to employ more real-life examples in their teaching and studies.

Case in point is a new book by British historian Frederick Taylor, titled “The Downfall of Money: Germany’s Hyperinflation and the Destruction of the Middle Class.”

Taylor’s topic is the financial and social disaster that struck Weimar Germany in the early to mid-1920s, when, after the nation was saddled with a huge war reparations bill following World War I, it began mass printing of bank notes to buy foreign currency, which was in turn used to pay compensation to the Allies.

In November 1921, the date the first reparation payment was due, the rate of exchange was approximately 330 German papiermarks per one US dollar. That was already up sharply from two years earlier, when the ratio was approximately seven to one.

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China receives first US bulk sorghum shipment

sorghum field

The burgeoning US-China agriculture-trade relationship was evident late last week when the first-ever bulk shipment of American grain sorghum reached the Asian nation.

The 2.36 million bushel shipment, the first of several scheduled for China this year, reached the port city of Guangzhou, the south China city historically known as Canton, on Oct. 18.

The cargo is designated for animal feed and demonstrates the continued modernization of China’s feed industry, according to Bryan Lohmar, US Grains Council director in China.

“The Council believes US sorghum has significant potential to become a regular feed ingredient in China,” he said. “Sorghum imports from the United States can help keep food prices low and improve China’s overall food security.”

Sorghum, a grain, is among the most efficient crops in conversion of solar energy and use of water. It is known as a high-energy, drought tolerant crop, according to the National Sorghum Producers.

Sorghum was planted on approximately 6.2 million US acres in 2012, with Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and South Dakota the top five-Sorghum producing states.

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Dumas’s ‘Black Tulip’ a brilliant gem

black tulip

French author Alexandre Dumas is best known for “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers,” but he turned out dozens of works of fiction, non-fiction and drama during a lengthy career.

Dumas’s father, Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, was a French nobleman and his mother a black slave. Thomas-Alexandre joined the French army, served with distinction in the French Revolutionary Wars and was promoted to general by age 31.

However, he, like many, he fell out of favor and by 1800 sought a return to France. During his voyage back, Thomas-Alexandre’s ship put in at Taranto, in the Kingdom of Naples, and he and others were held as prisoners of war under trying circumstances, a situation that would continue for two years.

By the time Alexandre was born, his father’s health was broken and he was impoverished. Thomas-Alexandre died in 1806 when his son was just 4 years old.

His widowed mother could not provide her son with much of an education, but the young Dumas read everything he could and taught himself Spanish.

In addition, stories of his father’s bravery during the campaigns of the Revolutionary Wars inspired the boy’s imagination. Although poor, the family had their father’s distinguished reputation and aristocratic rank.

In 1822, after the restoration of the French monarchy, the 20-year old Alexandre moved to Paris and was able to obtain a position at the Palais Royal in the office of Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans.

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Flemish altarpiece undergoes major restoration

Adoration of the mystic lamb ghent

An elaborate Renaissance altarpiece that has transfixed churchgoers and art lovers alike for centuries is undergoing its most ambitious restoration in its nearly 600-year history.

Flemish masterpiece “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb,” also known as the Ghent Altarpiece, is the work of masters Hubert and Jan Van Eyck. A $1.6 million, five-year project to restore it is unusual in that it taking place in full public view at the Ghent Fine Arts Museum.

The work, designed for Ghent’s Saint Bavo Cathedral, was completed in 1432. It is believed that Hubert Van Eyck designed it before his death in 1426 and Jan Van Eyck executed much of it.

Made of 12 oak panels painted on both sides, the 11-foot-by-15-foot work has attracted attention since its unveiling, though not all of it good.

During the Reformation, Protestants attacked Ghent in the 16th century and the altarpiece was hauled up to safety in the cathedral tower.

Following the French Revolution, the altarpiece was among a number of art works plundered in today’s Belgium and was later exhibited at the Louvre. Those panels seized by the French were returned to the church by the Duke of Wellington after his victory at Waterloo against Napoleon in 1815, according to Agence France-Presse.

Several of the painting’s wings were sold in 1816 to an English collector living in Berlin, Edward Solly. Among panels not sold was one with Adam and another with Eve, which were the first known nudes in Flemish art.

Solly’s panels were bought in 1821 by the King of Prussia, Frederick William III, and were displayed in a Berlin art museum.

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Anger accompanies shooting of white moose

white moose

A trio of hunters in Nova Scotia managed to enrage a good portion of the region’s indigenous population recently by shooting a rare white bull moose.

The killing of the white moose, considered to be a “spirit animal” by the Mi’kmaq communities that inhabit Atlantic Canada, was met with disbelief, but the hunters claim they were unaware of its significance.

The animal was shot last week in Belle Cote, Nova Scotia, part of Cape Breton Island, and brought to Hnatiuk’s Hunting & Fishing Ltd. in the town of Lantz, which snapped a photo of the carcass and posted it on its Facebook page, according to the Cape Breton Post.

The page received 10,000 hits within three days as news of the animal’s death went viral, with online postings berating the hunters as “idiots” and “ignorant” with “no respect or common sense.”

Clifford Paul, moose management coordinator with the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources, said the white moose is not something they would not harvest.

“We would just observe and let it go on its merry way,” he said.

The Mi’kmaq put a great deal of stock in the white moose as a spirit animal.

“It could be one of our ancestors,” Mi’kmaq elder and traditional hunter Danny Paul told the Post. We are to follow them and they will lead us to the herd, or lead us to medicines, or other teachings that we as people need.”

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When counterfeit dimes were worth the effort

1861 counterfeit dime

The practice of counterfeiting money is as old as money itself.

Archaeologists have discovered counterfeit examples of coins produced in Lydia, a Roman province said to be the locale of the first metallic coinage, dating back to the 7th century BC.

Today, we tend to think of counterfeiters as individuals who mass produce paper money, usually in large denominations – $20 or higher.

But until relatively recently, nearly all counterfeit money came in coin form. This was because until relatively recently nearly all money came in coin form, and was known as “hard money” because it contained a commodity such as gold or silver which gave it intrinsic value.

A short 1884 article in the New York Times highlighted just how valuable even small coins – albeit those made of silver – were 130 years ago.

MARLBOROUGH, N.Y. – Counterfeit silver dollars, quarters and ten-cent pieces are being circulated in a number of the Hudson River counties. The quarter dollars and dimes are said to be very good imitations of genuine money. It is said that ticket agents on the line of the Hudson River Railroad have been told to scrutinize carefully all silver offered in payment for tickets. It is believed that the counterfeits were first put in circulation about three weeks ago.

Today it seems difficult to imagine someone going to the difficulty of attempting to counterfeit a dime, never mind working hard enough at it to do it well.

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The bear who served in World War II

Wojtek the bear

History is replete with examples of animals serving as military mascots.

The fictional bear Winnie the Pooh is based on “Winnipeg,” or “Winnie,” a black bear that was the mascot for a Canadian cavalry regiment during the early part of World War I; “Tirpitz,” was a pig captured from the German Navy following the Battle of the Falkland Islands in 1914 and ended up as the mascot of the cruiser HMS Glasgow; and “Old Douglas” was a camel that served as part of the 43rd Mississippi Infantry Regiment during the War Between the States until he was killed by a Union sharpshooter at Vicksburg.

However all of the above take a back seat to Wojtek, a bear who was not only the mascot of a Polish artillery supply unit, but actually was given a rank and perform duties while in service during World War II.

Wojtek was happened upon by a group of Polish soldiers in the spring of 1942 after they had landed in Persia and began moving toward Egypt in an effort to re-group under the direction of the British Army, according to the website Today I Found Out.

The Poles had originally been taken prisoners by the Soviets following the invasion of Poland by German and Soviet forces in 1939.

When Germany turned on the Soviet Union in 1941, the Soviets, in dire need of troops, decided to release their Polish prisoners of war, who started re-forming into a fighting force.

As the Polish troops made their way through the mountains of Persia, the story goes that a group of soldiers happened upon an Iranian shepherd boy who had found an orphaned Syrian brown bear cub. With food scarce, the boy agreed to trade the cub to the soldiers for some canned meat.

The soldiers named the cub Wojtek, pronounced “Voytek,” meaning “he who enjoys war” or “smiling warrior,” according to Today I Found Out.

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Japan’s fixation with perfect, expensive fruit

square watermelons

Among the benefits of living in an agriculture-rich area is the ability during much of the year to drive along most any stretch of back road for no more than a few miles without coming upon someone selling produce from the bed of a pickup.

Not only are the fruit and vegetables invariably fresh, but the price is almost always less than what comparable items sell for in a supermarket.

Nice ripe watermelons, for example, tend to go for $3 or $4 each, while a basket of peaches can be had for between $5 and $7.

One imagines there aren’t a lot of roadside vendors in Japan. The country, in fact, appears to have a fixation with perfectly formed fruit, to the point musk melons can sell for as much $18,000 and cantaloupes for $16,000.

And this past July, a single bunch of “Ruby Roman” grapes reportedly sold for $4,000, meaning each individual grape was worth $110.

While the above are unusual cases, top-grade fruit is a valuable commodity in the Japanese world of business and as a seasonal gift. It is used to indicate how much importance the giver attaches to a relationship, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

The boutique fruit industry has remained strong in the face of Japan’s sluggish economy, according to the wire service.

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