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Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?

In a wide-ranging discussion about democracy, capitalism, and the American body politic; Chris Hedges interviews political theorist Sheldon Wolin in eight parts. (via) (previously) [more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Nov 11, 2014 - 38 comments

Vasili Arkhipov: the man who saved the world in 1962

For 13 days in October 1962, the world held its breath while "the leaders of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba gambled with millions of lives to garner advantages for one country over another." One day before President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev reached apparent agreement today on a formula to end the crisis over Cuba, the nuclear doomsday clock was seconds away from midnight. Vasili Arkhipov, the Brigade Chief of Staff on submarine B-59, was one of three people who needed to approve the launching of a nuclear missile. When the USS Beale began to drop depth charges on the B-59 to force it to surface, not realizing B-59 was armed with nuclear-tipped torpedoes. The B-59's Captain Valentin Savitsky and political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov thought this was signalling an all-out attack. Arkhipov disagreed, and in doing so prevented the sub from launching a nuclear missile that could have triggered mutually assured destruction. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Nov 5, 2014 - 16 comments

Atom Town Krasnoyarsk-26

This town in Russia is called Zheleznogorsk, read the initial post. Their flag and coat of arms is a bear splitting the atom. That is all.

But that certainly wasn't all: Um, so. My grandfather actually built this town, and helped run it for many years.. [more inside]
posted by daisyk on Oct 9, 2014 - 21 comments

"What do we say to the dead?"

On the fiftieth anniversary of its theatrical release, Slate is taking a look back at the Cold War thriller Fail Safe (trailer), which stars Henry Fonda as a U.S. President who has to deal with a computational accident that risks nuclear war. The film was preceded at the box office by Dr. Strangelove, a film very similar in plot but drastically different in tone. Fail Safe bombed as a result of the comparison with Kubrick's masterpiece, but the story itself would have a second chance at reaching audiences come the year 2000. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Oct 7, 2014 - 54 comments

C-H-A

This is not the stirring tale of macho crew cuts and heroic deeds from The Right Stuff that is now a fat chapter in every U.S. high school history book. This is a tale replete with fumbling, bumbling, bickering and at least one insane-sounding notion. To nuke the moon.
posted by Ghostride The Whip on Sep 17, 2014 - 20 comments

Stop Train 349

On the evening of Wednesday, November 22, 1961, a US Army "Duty Train" left Berlin for West Germany, traveling through Soviet-occupied East Germany, when a young East German, in a bid to escape, jumped aboard the train when it slowed for a curve, and was let aboard. The incident was eventually dramatized as a film called Stop Train 349, or Incident at Marienborn.
posted by pjern on Sep 9, 2014 - 10 comments

Stirlitz had a thought. He liked it, so he had another one.

A Soviet take on Rambo (brief clip; Rutube) is "unique in its violence and anti-Americanism." A Russian point of view on James Bond remarks that "so widespread was the interest in Bond that an official Soviet spy serial ... was released." But the spy novel / miniseries Seventeen Moments of Spring (somewhat digestible in 17 highlights with commentary: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17) is for interesting reasons not a Soviet counterpart to James Bond or Rambo. See also Seventeen Moments fanfic, two pages of jokes about its hero, and how he figures in the present. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Aug 16, 2014 - 9 comments

Mostly a watery anti-war movie. (mostly)

"Twenty-five years after its release, The Abyss remains an oddity in director James Cameron's filmography. But the fact that it's an oddity seems like an oddity. The underwater sci-fi epic, about a team of commercial drillers who stumble upon a deep-sea alien civilization, wasn't a flop by any means. It made more money than The Terminator and came very close to matching Aliens at the box office. It holds a higher critical rating than Avatar and Titanic (according to the almighty Rotten Tomatoes, at least). And yet it has utterly failed to reach the same levels of cultural saturation as Cameron’s other works."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 11, 2014 - 119 comments

"He alone was real."

Philby's boss was Sir Stewart Menzies, who, we are told, "rode to hounds, mixed with royalty, never missed a day at Ascot, drank a great deal, and kept his secrets buttoned up behind a small, fierce mustache. He preferred women to men and horses to both." Menzies was an amateur at a time when his adversaries were professionals. Philby's fellow Soviet spy Donald Maclean was a mess. But since he was a mess with the right accent and background he easily found a home in the British spy service. At one point, Macintyre says, Maclean "got drunk, smashed up the Cairo flat of two secretaries at the U.S. embassy, ripped up their underwear, and hurled a large mirror off the wall, breaking a large bath in two. He was sent home, placed under the care of a Harley Street psychiatrist, and then, amazingly, after a short period of treatment, promoted to head the American desk at the Foreign Office."
Kim Philby, the Soviet spy who infiltrated MI6, is the subject of a Malcolm Gladwell article in The New Yorker. Gladwell argues that Philby's story is not about spying but "the hazards of mistrust." He is interviewed on a New Yorker podcast about his article. Gladwell's article is also a review of Ben Macintyre's book on Philby, A Spy Among Friends. Gladwell reviewed Macintyre's previous book, Operation Mincemeat and argued that spy agencies might be more trouble than they're worth.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 28, 2014 - 25 comments

what if a 40-something secretary was secretly James Bond all along?

Ed Brubaker on Velvet (his new comic book series with Steve Epting): “I loved the idea of flipping the typical male-oriented spy story, and doing one about a woman who was also a mature, middle-aged woman.” [more inside]
posted by flex on Jul 15, 2014 - 32 comments

Mr. XXX

George F. Kennan, bigot. David Greenberg reviews The Kennan Diaries in The New Republic and discovers that the father of containment hated everyone, but didn't hate everyone equally. [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Jun 13, 2014 - 29 comments

Project Mogul

You may have heard how sounds travel farther during a temperature inversion, when air near the ground is cooler than the air above. But do you know how this phenomenon is related to the 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico? [more inside]
posted by mbrubeck on Jun 8, 2014 - 14 comments

Make the Economy SCREAM!

What Really Happened in Chile '“A coup attempt will be initiated on 11 September,” the cable read. “All three branches of the armed forces and the carabineros [Chile’s national police] are involved in this action. A declaration will be read on Radio Agricultura at 7 a.m. on 11 September. . . . The carabineros have the responsibility for seizing President Salvador Allende.”' "That is how the U.S. government learned of the coup in Chile. This might be hard for many Americans, Chileans, and people elsewhere to believe, since it has become conventional wisdom, especially on the left, that Washington played a crucial role in the military-led overthrow of the democratically elected Allende, which resulted in the nearly 17-year authoritarian rule of General Augusto Pinochet." [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Jun 3, 2014 - 41 comments

Trudy Campbell Is A KGB Spy

Trudy Campbell Is A KGB Spy Mefi's own The Whelk offers a modest proposal [via mefi projects].
posted by box on Jun 1, 2014 - 27 comments

Baa Baa Black Sheep, have you any, uh… wool?

The Age of Uncertainty, A Personal View by John Kenneth Galbraith was a 12 (or 15) part documentary mini-series about the fickle art of economics, co-produced by the BBC, CBC, KCET & OECA, and broadcast on television in 1977. Galbraith’s dry Scottish Canadian wit, and the 70’s-style art-direction, are worth viewing for those who like this sort of thing. The parody corporate videos for the Conglomerate UGE anticipated some of the ideas explored later in the 2003 documentary The Corporation. Some parts will seem dated, considering that this series was produced in the thick of The Cold War, before the rise of Reaganomics, Thatcherism, The Fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the EU, yuan, electronic transfers, etc. The basic insights about the instability of financial markets are still real, as always. [more inside]
posted by ovvl on May 19, 2014 - 5 comments

Spy satellite images reveal Middle Eastern archaelogical sites

The Corona Atlas of the Middle East uses spy satellite imagery to reveal as many as 10,000 previously unknown archaeological sites.
posted by MoonOrb on May 3, 2014 - 8 comments

I, I wish you could swim / Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day
posted by Going To Maine on Apr 2, 2014 - 51 comments

“Without Mercy” –U.S. Strategic Intelligence and Finland in the Cold War

Finland and American Intelligence: A Secret History
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 31, 2014 - 4 comments

Rocky Flats - From plutonium trigger factory to wildlife preserve

Kristen Iversen wants to better inform Colorado residents about the history of the Rocky Flats Plutonium processing facility and recommends this brief YouTube documentary as an introductory primer. [more inside]
posted by lordaych on Feb 17, 2014 - 26 comments

Nuke 'em till they glow, shoot 'em in the dark

The Littlest Boy - Twenty years after Hiroshima, elite American troops trained to stop a Soviet invasion -- with nuclear weapons strapped to their backs. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 3, 2014 - 39 comments

“Dangerous … an evil thing about an evil thing."

The Truths Behind 'Dr. Strangelove' Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control (previously), celebrates the 50th anniversary of the release of Dr. Strangelove by looking into the plausibility of the movie's premise.
posted by COBRA! on Jan 23, 2014 - 53 comments

A robot leads the way at the Department of Automatics

Friendly Robots of the Soviet Union: Even robots like to drink in Soviet Russia: a babushka hands this futuristic-looking robot from Kaliningrad what looks to be a pint of beer in 1969.
posted by not_the_water on Jan 21, 2014 - 7 comments

The Big Picture

This is The Big Picture, an official television report of the United States Army, produced for the armed forces and the American people. Now to show you part of The Big Picture here is Master Sargent Stuart Queen
The series consists of ~822 documentaries produced by the United States Army Signal Corps Army Pictorial Service from 1951 to 1971 to educate both soldiers in uniform and the American public about military concerns as well as things like historical battles, world geography, famous soldiers, the latest weapons, space exploration, strategic objectives, peaceful initiatives, and the life of a soldier. Being a product of the Federal Government it belongs to the the American people, and is thus freely available to all to copy and distribute. Most can now be viewed on archive.org
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 10, 2013 - 6 comments

The 1952 Mongol "invasion" of New Jersey

"By figuratively sticking her foot in America’s front door and keeping it wedged there long enough for an anonymous band of war-tossed Mongols to navigate around daunting racial barriers, Countess Tolstoy not only became the architect of the Mongol “invasion” of New Jersey and the country’s first ethnic Mongolian community, she also served as the midwife for the birth of Tibetan Buddhism in America." -- tells the amazing story of how a small band of Kalmyk Mongols (all WWII Wehrmacht veterans) established Tibetan Buddhism in America, as told by David Urubshurow, who was one of them. Featuring Leo Tolstoy's youngest daughter, Cold War CIA and Ivy League intrigues, how the Dalai Lama came to America and why this was only possible under president Carter and more.
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 8, 2013 - 15 comments

PLUTONIUM MOUNTAIN

From 1949 onwards, the closed city of Semipalatinsk (now Semey, Kazakhstan) was the test site for 456 nuclear devices. The test site was known as "The Polygon." Testing was stopped in 1989, but the long term effects remained. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 6, 2013 - 11 comments

"It's... dumb luck that we haven't had an accidental nuclear detonation"

Command and Control is a new book by Eric Schlosser about nuclear weapons mishaps, with a focus on the Damascus Accident. You can read an excerpt at Mother Jones, an op-ed adapted from the text at Politico, or a different op-ed at The Guardian. The book has been positively reviewed by The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. Schlosser has been interviewed by Steve Roberts on The Diane Rehm Show, Amy Goodman, Michael Mechanic at Mother Jones, and Ryan Devereaux at Rolling Stone.
posted by Going To Maine on Sep 19, 2013 - 66 comments

The declassified fashions of East German spies

Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives A collection of images from the book, including more disguises, images of house searches, hand-to-hand combat techniques, hidden cameras, and even fake beards, is available free of charge at Simon Menner’s website. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Sep 18, 2013 - 27 comments

By VLADIMIR V. PUTIN Published: September 11, 2013

A Plea for Caution From Russia (SLNYT) My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
posted by philip-random on Sep 11, 2013 - 316 comments

great little fixer-upper

The 1970s Cold War Era Home built 26 Feet Underground
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse on Sep 5, 2013 - 54 comments

A Clean House Is A Safe House.

" The House In The Middle" A 1954 Civil Defense film shows how you can protect your home against atomic firestorms via good housekeeping (13 min, YouTube)
posted by The Whelk on Jun 29, 2013 - 44 comments

"Now, There Are Two Americas"

In 1964, Goldwater campaign strategist Clif White made a 28-minute long film called "Choice." Once Senator Goldwater saw it, it was never shown publicly. Now it's on YouTube! [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 1, 2013 - 44 comments

Found: unused space shuttle

No big deal, just found an abandoned space shuttle.
posted by latkes on Apr 18, 2013 - 43 comments

Fwoosh! Zoom!

"If you spend any time looking for records at flea markets and garage sales, you come to recognize a variety of common vintage records: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Barbra Streisand, box collections of "best of" classical music, the band America. And then there are the rare finds, the albums that you would never expect to exist. My latest find at the Alameda Point Antiques Fair falls into that category ... it became my possession for $2. And now yours, via SoundCloud, for nothing." Sounds of X-15s, Atlas missiles, Nieuport biplanes, and more.
posted by Chutzler on Apr 9, 2013 - 38 comments

The game that puts you on a first-name basis with third-world dictators

"Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle [...]"
- John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address

TWILIGHT STRUGGLE is a card-driven board game simulation of the Cold War. It has been called a game of crisis management; dealing with them yourself, creating them for your opponent, and their proper timing. There is a extensive blog about the game, Twilight Strategy. This is that site's article on starting out play. This page could help you decide if it's for you. ("Do you enjoy games that are extremely tense and nerve-wracking?") Here's a YouTube video on how to play it. And, although I suggest learning to play with a physical set, the online multiplayer wargaming client Warroom has a Java Twilight Struggle client/server program available. There is also a VASSAL module, but it currently doesn't work with VASSAL 3.2 or later. There's a lot more on the game after the break.... [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Mar 24, 2013 - 48 comments

I understand that you have to take some sponge baths; however...

The year is 1959. A local radio station, in conjunction with Bomb Shelters, Inc. is seeking a newlywed couple to partake of a sheltered honeymoon. [more inside]
posted by obscurator on Mar 11, 2013 - 14 comments

When Nikita met Marilyn

Khrushchev Tours America - His shoe banging incident at the UN and the the Kitchen Debates with Nixon are well known but less attention has been given to the time Nikita Khrushchev went to Hollywood. He met Marilyn Monroe and other film luminaries but he was denied a trip to Disneyland (previously). [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Feb 19, 2013 - 16 comments

Operation Delirium

Operation Delirium. "The military’s secret Cold War experiment to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals. Decades after a risky Cold War experiment, a scientist lives with secrets." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Dec 10, 2012 - 44 comments

The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 3, 2012 - 46 comments

Coronet Instructional Films

From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 1, 2012 - 41 comments

The Barmaid's Arms

The operation was called Operation Barmaid, and it was so called because the Conqueror was fitted with two pincer-like cutting devices like arms out of the front of the submarine, and the idea was that it would sneak up behind a submarine or trawler that was using the towed-array sonar, and cut through the cable and bring the thing back. (SLDaily Telegraph) [more inside]
posted by Kiwi on Oct 16, 2012 - 31 comments

Henderson has scored for Canada!

"All of their lives they had been taught and told--hypnotized, really--that no one played better hockey than Canadians. And in a span of the first few weeks, when they lost two games and tied another on Canadian soil, they had to confront the fact that this was just plain wrong. And then they had to immediately adapt and overcome and figure out a way to win anyway."
Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic makes the case that 40 years ago today, the final game of the "Summit Series", between Canada and the Soviet Union, was the greatest day in Canadian history. [more inside]
posted by dry white toast on Sep 28, 2012 - 53 comments

Declassified Photos Reveal CIA’s Deep Sea Rescue of a Spy Satellite

"Only July 10, 1971, America's newest photo reconnaissance satellite, the KH-9 Hexagon, dropped a capsule loaded with film towards the Earth. The reentry vehicle was supposed to open its parachute; an American aircraft would snatch it out of the sky in mid-descent. But the chute was never unfurled. The reentry vehicle hit the Pacific Ocean with a force of approximately 2600 Gs. And then it sunk down into the deep, before settling at 16,000 feet."
posted by brundlefly on Aug 9, 2012 - 40 comments

A Tall Tail

"A Tall Tail," by MeFi's own Charles Stross.
posted by brundlefly on Jul 21, 2012 - 21 comments

Right wing folk music

While there were a few attempts at right-wing folk music during the 1960's, most notably The Goldwaters, Janet "anti-Baez" Greene was the darling of the conservative anti-communist right. Her songs include Fascist Threat, Commie Lies, and her most (in)famous, Poor Left Winger
"I'm just a poor left-winger, befuddled, bewildered, forlorn, duped by a bearded singer, peddling his communist corn. In the cafe, espresso, sounds of guitars could be heard, twanging a plaintive folksong, spreading the communist word..."
[more inside]
posted by stbalbach on May 26, 2012 - 48 comments

PHOTON PUSH-PULL RADIATION DETECTOR FOR USE IN CHROMATICALLY SELECTIVE CAT FLAP CONTROL AND 1000 MEGATON EARTH-ORBITAL PEACE-KEEPING BOMB

PHOTON PUSH-PULL RADIATION DETECTOR FOR USE IN CHROMATICALLY SELECTIVE CAT FLAP CONTROL AND 1000 MEGATON EARTH-ORBITAL PEACE-KEEPING BOMB by prolific inventor Arthur Paul Pedrick [more inside]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on May 4, 2012 - 38 comments

VŶCHOD

Prague Through the Lens of the Secret Police. Brought to you by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague.
posted by timshel on Apr 25, 2012 - 15 comments

At the Tunnels of Madness

Back in the 50s, the US planned to create a network of tunnels underneath the Greenland ice sheet to fire nuclear missiles from. (via Slashdot)
posted by Zarkonnen on Apr 9, 2012 - 65 comments

The Only Winning Move is to Watch This

Most of us reading on the blue lived through at least a portion of it. Forty-plus years of tension between the world's two superpowers and their allies. That's right: The Cold War. Then, they made a documentary. Aired on CNN in 1998, and never released on DVD, the 24 episode, 20 hour series features tons of archival footage, along with many interviews with individuals directly involved at some of the highest levels. You might not be able to see it on DVD, but you can watch the full series on Youtube, starting with Part 1: Comrades (1917-1945).
posted by symbioid on Mar 27, 2012 - 78 comments

Gorbachev on the New World Order

"In short, the world without the Soviet Union has not become safer, more just or more stable. Instead of a new world order—that is, enough global governance to prevent international affairs from becoming dangerously unpredictable—we have had global turmoil, a world drifting in uncharted waters." -- Mikhail Gorbachev writes about the world after the Cold War in The Nation.
posted by empath on Dec 29, 2011 - 26 comments

A few things we learned on the way to the Moon

39 years ago today, Apollo 17 splashed down in the South Pacific, marking the end to manned exploration of the Moon. What we learned from those 10 years of discovery was amazing. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 19, 2011 - 42 comments

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