Watching The Eclipse
- "Ambassador Michael McFaul
was there when the promise of democracy came to Russia—and when it began to fade."
In the three months between McFaul’s appointment and his arrival in Moscow, a great deal changed. Putin, feeling betrayed by both the urban middle classes and the West, made it plain that he would go on the offensive against any sign of foreign interference, real or imagined. A raw and resentful anti-Americanism, unknown since the seventies, suffused Kremlin policy and the state-run airwaves.
As a new Ambassador, McFaul was hardly ignorant of the chill, but he launched into his work with a characteristic earnestness. “Started with a bang,” he wrote in his official blog. During the next two years, McFaul would be America’s primary witness to the rise of an even harsher form of Putinism—and, often enough, he would be its unwitting target. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Aug 11, 2014 -
The Sci-Fi Writers' War
. "A pro-Western, NATO-backed Ukrainian government faces a stubborn insurgency in the pro-Russian East. Fighting rages around Donetsk, with civilians dying in artillery fire and airstrikes, while Russian troops mass on the Ukrainian border. The latest headlines? No, a two-novel series by Russian-Ukrainian science-fiction writer Fedor Berezin: War 2010: The Ukrainian Front
and War 2011: Against NATO
. In a startling plot twist, Berezin, a 54-year-old former Soviet Army officer and Donetsk native, is now living inside a real-life version of his own story: He is deputy defense minister of the embattled 'Donetsk People’s Republic.'"
posted by Sticherbeast
on Aug 1, 2014 -
How Russia’s Troll Army Hit America. The documents show instructions provided to the commenters that detail the workload expected of them. On an average working day, the Russians are to post on news articles 50 times. Each blogger is to maintain six Facebook accounts publishing at least three posts a day and discussing the news in groups at least twice a day. By the end of the first month, they are expected to have won 500 subscribers and get at least five posts on each item a day. On Twitter, the bloggers are expected to manage 10 accounts with up to 2,000 followers and tweet 50 times a day.
posted by shivohum
on Jun 2, 2014 -
In November of 2013, I found myself the lone bidder of a Russian high altitude space suit on an auction website called RRauction. Since then, I’d been scheming how to best use the suit. I have been revisiting my childhood love for space and my obsession was growing stronger and stronger. It was only natural to use this suit to project the inner child in me, still dreaming about space. With that, I present to you: "A day in the life of Everyday Astronaut".
posted by Lexica
on Jun 2, 2014 -
Use a trampoline.
“The cancellation of the space shuttle may be the biggest blunder ever made by the United States,” Kraft said. “It’s fairly obvious that no one in the government thought through what they were about to bring about when they made that decision.”
posted by bitmage
on May 19, 2014 -
There is a place in Russia called the Kola Penninsula that is just a jump away from both Norway and Finland. At this remote locale, people can visit a crumbling cinder block building in the middle of nowhere that is surround by debris. Amongst this debris is a nondescript metal cap secured with a dozen rusting bolts. Beneath this cap is the deepest hole in the world
. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI
on May 8, 2014 -
In Russia today, it's illegal to engage in "homosexual propaganda", and "anti-Russian propaganda" can attract ugly attention. So on May 1, there was a "Monstration" in St Petersburg
. Absurd signs and costumes had no prosecutable meaning, but the message was unmistakable. In Novosibirsk, a little further from the Kremlin, the message was more direct
. [more inside]
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard
on May 2, 2014 -
The Ket from the Lake Munduiskoye
(2008, 30 min.) The Ket people
are an indigenous group in central Siberia whose population has numbered less than two thousand during the past century. Although mostly assimilated into the dominant Russian culture at this point, a couple hundred of them are still able to speak the Ket language
, the last remaining member of the Yeniseian language group. Recent scholarship
has proposed a link between Ket and some Native American language groups.
posted by XMLicious
on Apr 16, 2014 -
We can't create Jurassic Park era (yet) but there is a place on Earth lost to time
, a modern proxy
of the Pleistocene (35,000 to 12,000 years ago). Other than the mammoth and a few other species, the flora and fauna remain largely unchanged, even the climate is similar to the last ice age (cold and dry). There are wild horses, reindeer, saiga antelopes, argali sheep, wolverines and snow leopards. The Altai and Sayan mountains of western Mongolia and southern Russia (map
)... [more inside]
posted by stbalbach
on Mar 8, 2014 -
While you can still follow live events in the Ukraine, with either the compulsively complete live Reddit feed
or the constantly updated BBC feed
being good choices, there has been increasingly useful analyses of the history and politics of the situation. Yale Professor Timothy Snyder, an expert on the region, wrote a piece in the New York Review of Books
describing the roots of the recent uprising, with a great overview of how "people associated with Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian, Armenian, Polish, and Jewish culture have died in a revolution that was started by a Muslim." Other history is provided by a detailed explainer
by the Guardian, in maps
by National Geographic, and the dueling arguments about the roots of the conflict from the the semi-official Russia Today
and the US State Department
posted by blahblahblah
on Mar 6, 2014 -
What Does Pussy Riot Mean Now?
"With all eyes on Russia, two members of the country’s most notorious band of shit-stirrers are free after nearly two years of political imprisonment and enjoying the rock-star treatment during their first trip to the U.S. But the group’s unlikely journey from art-school project to international icons shows just how rotten Russia has become and how much the mission has changed."
posted by homunculus
on Feb 7, 2014 -
was known as the liberator of serfs
, because under his rule, in 1861, serfs were granted the freedom to marry without having to gain consent, to own property, and to own businesses. In 1862, Alexander II signed off on the ethnic cleansing of Circassians
that began as a simple resettlement, and led to (by official Tsarist documents, more by other accounts) over 400,000 deaths. Circassians in fact protest the 2014 Olympics
being that it was the supposed site of their final expulsion. [more inside]
posted by oceanjesse
on Jan 29, 2014 -
On a wooded hillside outside Vladivostok, Russia, fourteen Canadians found their final resting place in 1919. Five others died at sea. They were ordinary folk who had enlisted in the closing days of the Great War for service in an unlikely theatre — Siberia. Consisting of 4,209 men and one woman, Canada's Siberian Expedition mobilized alongside a dozen Allied armies in a bid to defeat Lenin’s Bolsheviks. The mission failed — in the face of a robust partisan insurgency, divided Allied strategies, and heated domestic opposition. This is their story
, including over 2,000 photographs and images
. Also available in French
posted by Rumple
on Dec 23, 2013 -
World War I in Color
is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Oct 31, 2013 -