... history is written by the winners. That's the philosophy behind "The Last Ringbearer," a novel set during and after the end of the War of the Ring... and told from the point of view of the losers. ... In Yeskov's retelling, the wizard Gandalf is a war-monger intent on crushing the scientific and technological initiative of Mordor and its southern allies because science "destroys the harmony of the world and dries up the souls of men!"
"In 2006 I was invited to take part in one of the great adventures of modern broadcasting – conquering the booming Russian television market." Peter Pomerantsev remembers his time in the Russian television industry. [more inside]
"In a small, remote village in the Udmurt Republic of Russia, photographer Lucia Ganieva discovered a wonderful anomaly in home decoration — the interiors of practically every home in the village feature room-size photographic murals of 'exotic' scenes, which symbolize the distant places that the home-dwellers will never visit, except in their dreams." Via wood s lot.
A look at how fatwas are issued, and how Iranian authorities were able to change the classification of caviar from haram (forbidden for Muslims to eat) to halal (permissible for Muslims to eat) in order to retake the caviar industry from the Soviets. [PDF]
The funny thing about the National Anthem of the Soviet Union is that through the sixty-so years of its existence the lyrics were written all by one man. [more inside]
Deep in the forests of Russia’s Far East, the last Siberian tigers are under siege by runaway logging and poachers who get paid $30,000 per carcass. One tiger decided to fight back. [more inside]
Beg, Steal, or Borrow: New Beats From Moscow Nice look at some brokenbeat/glitch/electronica/hiphop musicians in Russia, with embedded songs, a couple of mixtapes and links to lots of free listening. [more inside]
In the scale of its intensity, its destructiveness and its horror, Stalingrad has no parallel. It engaged the full strength of the two biggest armies in Europe and could fit into no lesser framework than that of a life-and-death conflict which encompasses the earth. - The New York Times, February 4, 1943 [more inside]
The Russian mafia and criminals have their own type of music. It's called shanson [chanson]. A couple of contemporary examples by Michael Krug- Kolschik and Lesovopal- Sit Boy l Arcadiy Severnyj (1939-1980) was considered the king of street (prison-folk) songs. Shanson MyRadio channel. [more inside]
Russian films worth watching l Russian cuisine l Russiapedia l Historama l War Witness films l from rt.com the first Russian 24/7 English-language news channel which brings the Russian view on global news. The Russia Today YouTube channel. [more inside]
Czar Nicholas II was an early and ardent fan of film, and commanded that some of the significant events of his life be captured on celluloid: including his coronation in 1896 (the first film of a state occasion anywhere, nicely narrated and expanded upon at the HowStuffWorks video site), and the retreat with his family in 1917 (a repost from the excellent but difficult to navigate WPA Film Library). More (still, color) film from Czarist Russia previously on Metafilter.
Color Photos of the Russian Front Even though color photography was no longer entirely a novelty by the time of the Second World War, it is still uncommon and intriguing to see color photos from the war. Even moreso in this case, as the pictures in this EnglishRussia.com post are mainly of the German army fighting in Russia. The images include scenes of actual combat as well as behind the lines, though there was only one I noticed that featured a wounded soldier. There's even a picture of some GIs near the end of the series.
Insane russian biker (youtube) takes a Yamaha R1 down the Warsaw highway in moscow. Biker culture is taking off in a land where it is too cold to ride for half the year.
Concerns for the safety of Russian lgbt activist Nikolai Alexeyev. "After passing passport control at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, Mr Alekseev’s boarding pass was cancelled and his luggage unloaded from the plane upon a request from Russian authorities. He was taken into custody around 19:00 MSD, and has not yet been released." Text messages stating that he was withdrawing his case before the ECHR and seeking asylum in Belarus are believed to be fake or coerced under torture.
"Without the participation of Microsoft, these criminal cases against human rights defenders and journalists would simply not be able to occur"
Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent - Adding to its long-running series on corruption and abuse in post-Communist Russia, the New York Times has reported on Russian authorities using the pretext of software piracy to seize computers from journalists and political dissidents critical of current policies. In a surprising twist, lawyers representing Microsoft have been found working with Russian police, despite reporters and NGOs providing evidence of legitimate software purchases. An official response to the NYT piece suggests impostors claim to represent Microsoft in Russia, and notes the company's offer of free software licenses to these and similar groups.
A fascinating look at some interesting, and at times mind-boggling, arrays of dials and switches.
RussianFilter: Historical Chronicles with Nikolai Svanidze is an ongoing Russian television documentary series which, starting with 1901, picks out one person per year, every year, of the 100 years of the 20th century in Russia. It's entirely in Russian, of course, but for them as speaks it, it's one fascinating perspective on Russian history, with excellent narration, copious detail, and fascinating interconnections of events, people and places. All of the episodes that are available through Google Video and various other sources, and [more inside]
An Amazing 3D Light Show From Russia (watch in 480p)
"During the 1860s, several photographers based in Moscow and St. Petersburg produced series of cartes-de-visite showing Russian 'types.' These remarkable portraits provide a fascinating record of working-class townspeople, artisans, street vendors and peasants, some staged performing an activity, such as drinking tea or gaming, and some photographed in the performance of their occupation."
How are heatwaves in Russia and flooding in Pakistan related? Both result from a
kinkin the jet stream that has frozen in place. (Previous coverage of the disasters in Russia and Pakistan on the blue.)
'Priceless collection' in Russia was never registered so is therefore worthless and does not officially exist, say developers
In 1926, Nikolai Vavilov founded the world's first modern seedbank, and amassed a collection which today contains over 90% unique varieties of plant, contained in no other collection in existence. For his opposition to Lysenkoism he died in prison, and several of his colleagues famously starved to death instead of eating their specimens during the Siege of Leningrad. Now the Pavlovsk seedbank facility has been seized by the Federal Agency for Public Estate Management, and pending a court ruling will be demolished - contents and all - to build a housing development. The collection cannot be moved in time because it is a working seedbank of living plants.
Russian Satirical Journals of 1905. MeFi's own peacay presents a selection of the amazing images produced after the lifting of censorship in Russia following the 1905 Revolution: "For a few brief months the journals spoke with a great and unprecedented rage that neither arrest nor exile could silence. At first their approach was oblique, their allusions veiled, and they often fell victim to the censor’s pencil. But people had suffered censorship for too long." Much more available at Beinecke, USC, and Wisconsin.
"Tubes of space borscht are on sale in the museum gift shop. “There are white and black tubes. On the white is written: ‘BLONDE.’ On black one: ‘BRUNETTE.’ " Astronauts relate challenges of life in space.
A short drive through hell. NSFW swearing (in Russian).
Kich-Gorodok. Olya Ivanova went to a locality in the Vologda Region of Russia in order to "photograph the inhabitants of dying Russian villages." The results are striking and occasionally reminiscent of Depression-era photographs of America. [more inside]
The ISS Progress 38 cargo carrier was launched to bring supplies to the International Space Station. The unmanned Russian vessel has experienced problems attempting to dock with the station and has now disappeared from view, spinning uncontrollably.
The US Department of Justice has announced arrests in four states of ten alleged members of a “deep-cover” Russian spy ring whose ultimate goal was apparently to infiltrate U.S. policy-making circles. So much for burger diplomacy? [more inside]
Meet Messer Chups, whose main influences seem to be B-movies, sci fi, theremin, surf rock and Vincent Price. [more inside]
Russian President Medvedev is tweeting his trip to the US (English, Russian). So far, no comment on Putin belittling him to the French press. [more inside]
Submarine causalities are tragedies of war that are not always directly associated with combat. Systems failures at sea are often mysterious, with evidence and remains disappearing to all but the deepest diving vehicles. This was no different in the Cold War, with non-combat losses from the US and the Soviet Fleets. In that era of nuclear secrets, both those of nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear weapons, learning about the enemy's technology was paramount. Such an opportunity came to the US with the sinking of K-129, a Golf Class II Soviet submarine that went down with 98 men on board. The recovery took over six year, involved the possible payback of Howard Hughes, a videotaped formal sea burial that was eventually copied and given to then-President Boris Yeltsin, and decades of CIA secrecy. [more inside]
English Russia presents Lord of the Rings character illustrations from the USSR. [more inside]
The professor, his wife, and the secret, savage book reviews on Amazon 'An extraordinary literary "whodunnit" over the identity of a mystery reviewer who savaged works by some of Britain's leading academics on the Amazon website has culminated in a top historian admitting that the culprit was, in fact, his wife.'
The saying "We have been put on Earth to make Kafka come true" has been well known since Soviet times.
At least 35 dead in attacks on the Moscow subway. "Yuri Syomin, the head of the Moscow prosecutor's office, said the attacks had almost certainly been carried out by suicide bombers who boarded the metro at the height of the rush hour." Speculation is rampant as to the source of the attacks, with Ingushetia, Chechnya or Agastarn.
Russia's Wooden Churches - A century after celebrated Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin called for preservation of Russia's decaying wooden churches, architectural photographer Richard Davies revisits the churches to document and raise awareness of these gorgeous historic architectural treasures. [more inside]
"The great Trans Siberian Railway, the pride of Russia, goes across two continents, 12 regions and 87 cities. The joint project of Google and the Russian Railways lets you take a trip along the famous route and see Baikal, Khekhtsirsky range, Barguzin mountains, Yenisei river and many other picturesque places of Russia without leaving your house." [more inside]
Tango With Cows is an exhibition by the Getty Museum of the book art of the Russian avant-garde from 1910 to 1917, which included a performance of sound poetry, all captured on video, both of Futurist poems, other historical sound poems, and contemporary works. Among performers are Christian Bök and Steve McCaffery. The exhibition takes its name from the book of ferro-concrete poems, one of 21 books can be downloaded as PDFs, most are by Alexei Kruchenykh but there are also works by Roman Jakobson, Vladimir Mayakovsky, David Burliuk, Andrei Kravtsov, Vasily Kamensky and Velimir Khlebnikov. These were all Futurists. [more inside]
SS-N-22 Sunburn is the NATO designation for a Russian-made anti-ship missile that the US Navy (it seems) currently has no defense against. [more inside]
Selections from a handmade military discharge scrap book and comic made by a USSR army recruit, 1984-1986.