From: Bruce Sterling [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Viridian Note 00340: Ossetia Glacier Horror
Entries in the Biofuture Robot Dog Contest
"Here's my entry into the BioFuture Robot Dog Contest. No fancy graphics, just an idea and some text, but what the heck, it was fun to think about, and we'll see what other people think. Thanks for the Viridian list – always thought-provoking and interesting!"
"My entry is 'Von Neumann's Best Friend.'
This contest ends in six days: September 30, 2002.
"Hope fades for 80 missing in Russia mudslide
"RUSSIA: September 24, 2002
"VLADIKAVKAZ – Rescue workers in southern Russia scrambled over a vast black tongue of muddy ice and rubble, as hopes faded for 80 people missing since a glacier roared down a remote mountainside, engulfing villages.
"President Vladimir Putin said on television that a third of the Maili glacier had broken free from the Caucasus mountains late on Friday, causing a disaster unlike any he could recall. (((Yeah: a glacier melts so badly that a third of it, 20 million tons of ice, suddenly breaks off and crushes everything in its path including a film star. The galloping glacier was 500 feet high in spots and moving at 60 miles an hour. That's pretty memorable.)))
"Chunks of ice up to 100 metres (300 feet) thick entombed the area around the village of Karmadon in North Ossetia, a region on the northern edge of Russia's border with Georgia.
"'The speed of the stream (of ice, mud and boulders) was huge. There's no chance that any one in the area at the time survived,' said Mikhail Razanov, deputy head of the local Emergencies Ministry crisis unit told Interfax news agency. (((Come to think of it, it must be pretty demoralizing even to survive a "vast black tongue of muddy ice and rubble" from a pursuing glacier. Imagine the post-traumatic stress, and the difficulties of a successful explanation. In other news, one 60-year-old local man was found hiding safely in a cave.)))
(...) "Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu (((a great name and title))) warned that meltwaters posed a new threat, noting the last kilometre (0.6 miles) of the ice had an estimated volume of 10-11 million cubic metres (350-388 million cu ft). (((So it's still merrily melting away, then.)))
"'If there is a sharp thaw, then we have to take steps to evacuate people from the region who could be in the disaster zone,' Russian news agencies quoted him as saying. (((Well, at least they're not likely to re-settle by other glaciers, because the planet is running out of them.)))
"Film Star Missing After Avalanche MOSCOW, Sept. 24, 2002
"(AP) Sergei Bodrov Jr. first seized the attention of the world's film fans in 'Prisoner of the Caucasus,' and those mountains may have brought him doom as well as fame. The actor, seen by many as a prime hope for post-Soviet Russia's struggling movie industry, is missing after an avalanche roared through the site where he was working on his latest movie. (((With any justice, this dead film celebrity would become the long-sought "Rock Hudson of the Greenhouse Effect," but well, you know, he's Russian.)))
"Officials on Tuesday held out little hope that more survivors would be found from the devastation wreaked when some 20 million tons of ice broke off a glacier and roared down a mountainside. Newspaper reports of the disaster featured large photos of the 30-year-old actor-director, whose roles combining eros, honor and bewilderment seemed to synopsize Russia's ambitions and troubles. (((Now he personifies yet another Russian trouble: weather violence.)))
"The avalanche in North Ossetia, a region of towering peaks high in the Caucasus Mountains, left as many as 150 people dead. Sergei Shoigu, Russia's minister of emergency situations, arrived in the town, about 940 miles southeast of Moscow, for a firsthand look. Local officials have declared Thursday a day of mourning.
"In addition to recovering bodies, workers were working to restore the road from the town of Gizel to the village of Kaban, which has been left totally isolated as a result of Friday's avalanche. About 3,000 people there are relying on helicopter drops of food and there is no drinking water.
"Some 300 rescue workers were in the area, but there was no news early Tuesday of more survivors being found.
"Officials said 49 people from the film crew or local support staff were missing, while nine were safe – seven who were not with the others and two who got out of the disaster area. (((It's going to be tough for those two.))) Sergei Bodrov's father, a famous film director, and his wife also arrived in North Ossetia on Tuesday with Shoigu.
"Bodrov made his first movie in 1992, but it was four years later that he riveted Russian and foreign viewers in 'Prisoner of the Caucasus,' which was directed by his renowned father who now lives in the United States.
"The movie, based on Leo Tolstoy's novella of the same title about two Russian soldiers taken hostage in Chechnya, updated the tale to take place amid the war then raging between Chechen separatists and the Russian army.
"Released in the United States as 'Prisoner of the Mountains' – the title perhaps changed to avoid confusion with a 1960s comedy that was one of the Soviet film industry's most popular releases – was nominated for an Academy Award and raised Russian cinephiles' hopes that the industry was regaining its vigor after years of money problems. (((Too bad the headline isn't "Oscar Winner Slain by Greenhouse Effect." Close, but no such luck.)))
"The next year saw those hopes fulfilled – and the Caucasus connection continued – with the release of 'The Brother.' Bodrov played a disillusioned Chechnya war veteran who becomes a lone vigilante in the crime- festering cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. (((Sounds like prime video material for a viewing at the Viridian Vatican. Incidentally, we're having a party here on Saturday the 28th.))) Audiences identified with the antiheroic role of a killer with morals and ideals and critics hailed it as the first true movie of 'the New Russia.'
"Bodrov's boyish looks, his full lips often set in a tentative smile, seemed to emphasize the conflicting currents of confusion and violence in the character.
"Bodrov 'is, in a certain sense, an image of our time, a hero of our time,' Nikita Mikhalkov, director of the international hit 'Burnt by the Sun,' said Tuesday on Russia's ORT television. (((This may be the most famous guy killed by the Greenhouse Effect.)))
"In 1999, he appeared in the French-made 'East-West' with Catherine Deneuve, (((Oh what a near miss for Catherine: "Deneuve Crushed On Set By Glacier"))) another Academy Award foreign film nominee and followed that with 'The Brother 2,' which also got attention internationally. His most recent foreign release was in 'Bear's Kiss,' again directed by his father, which appeared at the prestigious Venice Film Festival this summer.
"He further boosted his popularity at home by hosting the television show 'The Last Hero,' a reality-based show similar to the U.S. 'Survivor.' (((Imagine if Sergei had been one of the two out of 50 or so in his film crew who survived. What a publicity boom. Wow.)))
"Bodrov wrote and directed 2001's 'Sisters' and was at work on his second production as director/actor/writer when the avalanche hit.
"The newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda said the movie's working title was 'Svyaznoi' (Liaison), about three men from different social strata who are in love with the same woman. Bodrov chose the grim role of a garbage collector with artificial legs who dies at the film's end. (((Only in Russia, folks.)))
"In a headline combining references to the film and his TV fame, the newspaper on Tuesday wrote 'Mysterious premonition of the famous actor: Hero Bodrov would have died in new film.'
"Bodrov and his wife Svetlana have two children, a 4- year-old daughter and a son born in late August. (((Sorry Svetlana, sorry kids. Really, truly. Maybe, someday soon, the people will catch on.)))