It wasn’t easy to buy a car in the Soviet Union. Usually, the first thing to do was to sign up on a decade-long waiting list to register your interest in owning a vehicle. Secondly, you needed to save what was then a huge sum of money; a new Zaphorozhets cost the equivalent of about 30 times the average monthly salary. A few people found a different way, however – assembling cars with their own hands. [more inside]
James Mickens (previously) gives a talk at Monitorama 2014 about distributed computing and security.
Heavy Breeding. "In 1920, the brothers Lutz and Heinz Heck, directors of the Berlin and Munich zoos, respectively, began a two-decade breeding experiment. Working with domestic cattle sought out for their 'primitive' characteristics, they attempted to recreate 'in appearance and behavior' the living likeness of the animals’ extinct wild ancestor: the aurochs. 'Once found everywhere in Germany,' according to Lutz Heck, by the end of the Middle Ages the aurochs had largely succumbed to climate change, overhunting, and competition from domestic breeds." [more inside]
"Mr. Lukashenko has steadily turned Belarus into something akin to a prison colony. The possibility of ending up in prison is a constant risk for millions, and a check on even their most mundane daily routines." - Europe’s Last Dictatorship (SLNYTIMES)
A walk through Białowieża Forest. Białowieża Forest is a primeval (old-growth) forest on the border of Poland and Belarus, first set aside as a preserve for wisent (European bison) in 1638. [more inside]
"Because we don't know how to make a wheel that is still generally useful for legitimate wheel applications but useless to bad guys."
Cory Doctorow's 28C3 talk The Coming War on General Purpose Computation (abstract, transcript) warns that "the coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race." [more inside]
"Far From Moscow is a resource designed to promote, catalog, and consider new music from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, together with the Baltic nations (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia)." Posts are frequent and extensive and stuffed full of fantastic songs. They also offer a dozen free sampler albums; I'm listening to and loving Apples and the more ambient Forest. [more inside]
Watched every episode of the "Big Bang Theory" and still want more? There's always Belarus's unauthorized copy of the show, titled "The Theorists".
Fascinating and inspiring interview with playwright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard by Riz Khan on the subject of Belarus, a country ruled by the dictator Alexander Lukashenko, and whether artists can have an impact on the world of politics. Recently, the troupe Belarus Free Theatre has been touring the West with Being Harold Pinter, to rave reviews. Stoppard himself was a child refugee, escaping with his family from Czechoslovakia in 1939.
Город наш! The city is ours! Belarussians are using weblogs, online communities, and text messaging to organize, share news and numerous photos, and oppose their corrupt government's fraudulent election. Patriotism, flags, and dark blue is in fashion, whether the government likes it or not.