The Lykovs of Taiga

Thanks to Tim Tangherlini for the link to the [Smithsonian story on the Lykov family][] of Russia who survived for forty years in Siberia without contact with civilization — they had fled deep into the forest to escape anti-religious pogroms by the Soviets. A nice addition to the story is the [Russian documentary on the Lykovs][]. In a sense the Lykovs were a kind of time capsule.

[Smithsonian story on the Lykov family]:
[Russian documentary on the Lykovs]:

Somali Pirates’ Business Model

The U.N. Security Council recently dispatched a group of investigators to Somalia to examine who the pirates are and how they operate. [Mark Leon Goldberg]( reviewed their report and turned up this interesting passage in the report:

> A basic piracy operation requires a minimum eight to twelve militia prepared to stay at sea for extended periods of time, in the hopes of hijacking a passing vessel. Each team requires a minimum of two attack skiffs, weapons, equipment, provisions, fuel and preferably a supply boat. The costs of the operation are usually borne by investors, some of whom may also be pirates.
> To be eligible for employment as a pirate, a volunteer should already possess a firearm for use in the operation. For this ‘contribution’, he receives a ‘class A’ share of any profit. Pirates who provide a skiff or a heavier firearm, like an RPG or a general purpose machine gun, may be entitled to an additional A-share. The first pirate to board a vessel may also be entitled to an extra A-share.
> At least 12 other volunteers are recruited as militiamen to provide protection on land of a ship is hijacked, In addition, each member of the pirate team may bring a partner or relative to be part of this land-based force. Militiamen must possess their own weapon, and receive a ‘class B’ share — usually a fixed amount equivalent to approximately US$15,000.
> If a ship is successfully hijacked and brought to anchor, the pirates and the militiamen require food, drink, qaad, fresh clothes, cell phones, air time, etc. The captured crew must also be cared for. In most cases, these services are provided by one or more suppliers, who advance the costs in anticipation of reimbursement, with a significant margin of profit, when ransom is eventually paid.
> When ransom is received, fixed costs are the first to be paid out. These are typically:
> • Reimbursement of supplier(s)
> • Financier(s) and/or investor(s): 30% of the ransom
> • Local elders: 5 to 10 %of the ransom (anchoring rights)
> • Class B shares (approx. $15,000 each): militiamen, interpreters etc.
> The remaining sum — the profit — is divided between class-A shareholders.

The 1909 Color Photography of Prokudin-Gorsky

I’ve seen [these photographs][tp] a half dozen times over the years, but every time I see them, I am impressed not only by the richness of the color but also by the view into late nineteenth-century life in Europe. (Obviously, Russia, but I imagine the images of peasant life reflect larger patterns.)


And here’s the header note:

> In 1909 a remarkable project was initiated by Russian photographer Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky. His mission was to record – in full and vibrant color – the vast and diverse Russian Empire