Consumerist: The U.S. has a giant cheese surplus and unfortunately, this is a bad thing. Bloomberg graph: Welcome to Cheese Mountain. (n.b. not a real, visitable, place) nymag: "Our great nation apparently had an inventory of 1.2 billion pounds at the end of March, the highest in 30 years." FoodDive: "Startups may see an opportunity to create marketable products out of inexpensive ingredients, and more cheese-based product startups could pop up and generate interest from investors and major manufacturers." Mashable: "Do your part. Eat more cheese."
Every winter in Russia's east, the rivers that vein the enormous open spaces of siberia freeze solid. Photographer Amos Chappel joins one group of men who make a living on these frozen highways.
Dance of the Little Swans - auditions and the first years at the Vaganova Ballet Academy. [more inside]
Turn off the "Upload videos" link, Google, because the best video of the year has already been uploaded! Its summary reads like a penmanship exercise: Russian farmer monkey in a snowsuit & mittens visits his pet goats and hens. [SLYT] [more inside]
In Search of Johns' Kingdom A short documentary commissioned by The Calvert Journal, about a shadowy Russian music collective. For fans of Grimes, Aphex Twin, Dirty Beaches, Prince Rama. [more inside]
And it’s even easier with a bit of international cooperation: Time lapse video of USCGC Bristol Bay and CCGS Samuel Risley working together to break ice from Sarnia to Windsor, Ontario, in one day. Further inland, Amphibex icebreaking machines are used to break ice on the Red River in Manitoba to prevent flooding from ice jamming ahead of spring. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to icebreaking... [more inside]
"It was an affair that summed up all that was most wrong with the [Russian] army." Largely forgotten by the west, the Battle of Lake Naroch (March-April 1916; Wikipedia) broke the Russian army's will to fight Germans. Eager to help their western allies being slaughtered at Verdun, the tsar's forces attacked a weak spot in the German lines in Belarus. Although the Russian army began with massively greater troop superiority, the offense was a spectacular failure, due to gross strategic and tactical incompetence. The results: awful casualties and no terrain gained. [more inside]
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, describing Russia's objectives as "generally accomplished". [more inside]
Four months after Lesin's death, a US coroner reports that former Russian media oligarch Mikhail Lesin died of blunt trauma to the head, neck, torso, arms, and legs--not a heart attack. At the time of his death in a Washington, D.C. hotel, it was reported that there was "no evidence of foul play". [more inside]
Russian Purge Part 1: Putin Doesn't Need to Censor Books. Publishers Do It For Him. by Masha Gessen [The Intercept_] [more inside]
Do you listen to a lot of hip-hop in in the Yakut language? Me either. But that changed when I happened upon the story of Ayal Adamov, Monty Python fan and student at Northeast Federal University, Yakutsk, Sakha Republic, Russia. One day, he heard a song that celebrated bling and money and conspicuous consumption. He felt a profound sense of disgust and, in response, composed a song that celebrated his own, humbler, rural roots. The accompanying video has to be seen to be believed; it is embedded in this article in the Siberian Times.
According to the Guardian,
"Agafia Lykova is the last remaining member of a deeply religious family that fled civilisation in 1936 and did not know about the second world war until geologists stumbled upon them in 1978. After she contacted the “mainland” with an emergency satellite telephone to ask for medical help, the governor, Aman Tuleyev, ordered her evacuation from her homestead near the Abakan river to a hospital in Tashtagol, according to the Kemerovo region website."[more inside]
The occupiers from Mordor and their sad little horse - I mean Russians from the Russian Federation and their Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov - such is Google translate. Probably not an intentional Google bomb, but just how the Ukrainians have actually been describing their occupiers in online documents which feed Google's translation algorithm.
Four-day marathon public reading of War and Peace begins in Russia. [The Guardian]
A marathon four-day Russian public reading of Leo Tolstoy’s vast classic novel War and Peace kicked off on Tuesday morning, with more than 1,300 people in more than 30 cities preparing to make their contributions to the record-breaking project. Coordinated by Tolstoy’s great-great-granddaughter Fekla Tolstaya, and featuring a number of cultural luminaries including the Polish film director Andrzej Wajda, the readings are being streamed by Russian state television channel Kultura. One volume of Tolstoy’s fictionalised history of Russia during the Napoleonic campaign will be read each day.
The Blue Pearl Of Siberia, Peter Matthiessen, 1991
Past eight in the evening on the last day of August, after a ten-hour climb, we haul ourselves to the high rim of the Baikal Canyon. From where we stand, high plateaus, in hard, clear light, seem to stretch forever westward to the Urals. Facing east, my companion, the huge Siberian woodsman Semyon Ustinov, spreads his long arms. Far below, his beloved Baikal, the most ancient lake on earth, is shrouded in mist that drifts up the steep talus slope as if in search of us. The canyon rim on which we stand is a mile or more above the surface of the lake, whose greatest depth is 6,300 feet, or 1.2 miles, with an additional four miles of sediment above the bedrock. The great Baikal rift is seven times as deep as the Grand Canyon, by far the deepest land depression on the planet.[more inside]
I told myself:-- you mustn't write! But stubborn hands will not comply Vladimir Vysotsky was a Russian Actor, Poet, and Musician. He wrote over 600 songs before his death in 1980.
NATO-Russia Tensions Rise After Turkey Downs Jet [The New York Times]
Two big powers supporting different factions in the Syrian civil war clashed with each other on Tuesday when Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane that Turkey said had strayed into its airspace. The tensions immediately took on Cold War overtones when Russia rejected Turkey’s claim and Ankara responded by asking for an emergency NATO meeting, eliciting more Russian anger and ridicule. After the meeting, the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, called for “calm and de-escalation” and said the allies “stand in solidarity with Turkey.”[more inside]
The World Anti-Doping Agency, which monitors the fight against performance-enhancing drugs in sports, has released its 323-page report detailing the endemic use of PEDs in Russia, enabled and encouraged by the Russian government via the Ministry of Sport and the Federal Security Service. [more inside]
An all-female Russian crew is currently undergoing a simulation of an eight-day trip to lunar orbit and subsequent return to Earth. The highly-qualified volunteers were chosen through a series of rigorous selection processes based on the real cosmonaut selection regime. In the press conference that was held prior to the start of the mission, the team had to face questions of how they would cope without men or makeup for eight days. [more inside]
Suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter has suggested there was an agreement in place for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup - before the vote took place. The 79-year-old told Russian news agency Tass of a "discussion" in 2010 about future World Cups.
By analysing the language of popular magazines, TV shows and self-help books and by conducting interviews with men and women in different countries, scholars including Eva Illouz, Laura Kipnis and Frank Furedi have demonstrated clearly that our ideas about love are dominated by powerful political, economic and social forces. Together, these forces lead to the establishment of what we can call romantic regimes: systems of emotional conduct that affect how we speak about how we feel, determine 'normal' behaviours, and establish who is eligible for love – and who is not.
Ivan Aivazovsky (1817–1900) - "In 1840, Aivazovsky traveled to Rome, where he became friendly with Nikolai Gogol. He also received high praise from the Roman critics, newspapers, and even Pope Gregory XVI. The pope purchased Aivazovsky's 'Chaos' and hung it in the Vatican... [more inside]
Published in 1931, Игрушки Картошки is a Russian book of toys you can make out of potatoes (and matches, and the occasional stick). [more inside]
"The room was upholstered in crimson and oatmeal and decorated with Socialist Realist frescoes of industrious maidens. A hefty multipointed star descended from the ceiling like a satellite returning from space. Above the tables a pair of identical life-size plaster statues of Soviet schoolgirls faced each other in the manner of temple guardians. They drummed on drums with a look of patriotic ecstasy; crimson blindfolds bound their eyes. Taking a swig of kvas, a fermented bread beverage that's slightly reminiscent of root beer, I wondered whether the statues were intended to be a political statement, nostalgic kitsch, or just a really ambitious exercise in color coordination." - The Surreal Thrill Of Moscow Dining by Alex Halberstadt
The Fort of Young Saplings: Vanessa Veselka writes about family, the ownership of stories, and the meaning of military victory (or its absence) in the context of her father's adoption by the Kiks.ádi. (Veselka previously and previously, caution on the latter for sexual violence.)
to buy sports car. they had come from their kindergarten to buy a Jaguar but did not have any money. [more inside]
Russian police have smashed an international smuggling ring moving product with an estimated street value of 3 billion rubles into the country. The product? Cheese. Officers recovered some 1,000 pounds of cheese and cheese paraphernalia (rennet and printing equipment for making counterfeit labels). The ring was supplying a growing underground black market for cheese in Russia. [more inside]
"Welcome to the nerve-wracking reality of being Finland. To a casual visitor, it seems like yet another Western European country, a placid paradise with its abundance of bicycles, its obsession with its own mid-twentieth-century design, and stores that close punctually at six in the evening. The Finns feel otherwise. When they go to neighboring Sweden, they say they are “going to Europe.” As it happens, neither country is a member of NATO, but only Finland has a long land border with Russia—and a living memory of having been invaded by the Soviet Union." [more inside]
- 100 Years of Fashion in 2 Minutes
- 100 Years of Men's Fashion in 3 Minutes
- 100 Years of Men's Swimwear in 3 Minutes (women's)
- 100 Years of Fitness in 100 Seconds
- 100 Years of Female Dance
- 100 Years of Music
- AFI's 100 Years ... (youtube playlist from American Film Institute)
- 100 Years of Black Beauty
- 100 Years of History in 2 Minutes
How Moldova's wine industry became a new battlefront in the new cold war between Russia and the EU.
Shot between 1962 and 1986, Tarkovsky’s seven feature films often grapple with metaphysical and spiritual themes, using a distinctive cinematic style. Long takes, slow pacing and metaphorical imagery – they all figure into the archetypical Tarkovsky film (Note: free versions of these films have been here before, links have sadly died in the old posts). [more inside]
Double Genocide: Lithuania wants to erase its ugly history of Nazi collaboration - by accusing Jewish partisans who fought the Germans of war crimes.
"After Lithuanians got independence,” he told me, “we hoped that Lithuania would give us help.” But it was not to be. In one of its very first independent actions, before even fully breaking free of Moscow, Lithuania’s parliament formally exonerated several Lithuanian nationalists who had collaborated in the Holocaust and had been convicted by Soviet military courts after the war. The right-wing paramilitaries who had carried out the mass murder of Lithuania’s Jews were now hailed as national heroes on account of their anti-Soviet bona fides.
"Inside the crates were maps, thousands of them. In the top right corner of each one, printed in red, was the Russian word секрет. Secret" -- Inside the Secret World of Russia’s Cold War Mapmakers by Greg Miller, WIRED
Life in USSR showcases in photos the daily life of the Soviet people.
How World War III became possible: A nuclear conflict with Russia is likelier than you think (SLVox).
The radio signal that occupies 4625 kHz has reportedly been broadcasting since the late 1970s. The earliest known recording of it is dated 1982. Ever since curious owners of shortwave radios first discovered the signal, it has broadcast a repeating buzzing noise. Every few years, the buzzer stops, and a Russian voice reads a mixture of numbers and Russian names.
A conversation with Ilya Ponomarev, an exiled dissident Russian State Duma Deputy living in San Jose - "When the Russian government voted to annex Crimea last year, only one member of parliament stood in opposition—Ilya Ponomarev. The final tally was 445 to 1, with Ponomarev wanting the world to know that the annexation did not have unanimous support. He is now barred from returning home to Russia. First elected to Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, in 2007, Ponomarev became a leader of political protests that shook Moscow before Putin's return to the presidency in 2012. Now, the Russian parliament has voted overwhelming to strip Ponomarev of the immunity from prosecution granted to lawmakers by the Russian Constitution. How long can this government maintain control by silencing these voices of opposition? With elections scheduled for next year, what is the future of Putin's government and Russia's relationship with the United States?" [more inside]
The Agency is every online community member's worst fears come to life: a real honest-to-goodness troll/noise factory where dozens of employees using hundreds of accounts post thousands of highly targeted and coordinated attacks as awful comments on Twitter, Facebook, and forums in order to sway public opinion about geopolitics. From a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, an army of well-paid “trolls” has tried to wreak havoc all around the Internet — and in real-life American communities...
Former TV cameraman Rick Suddeth has posted numerous videos of everyday life in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s and early 1990s. These are mostly raw footage or lightly edited, some are silent. Moscow traffic ca. 1986. Moscow grocery store ca. 1990. Universam Department Store, Moscow, 1990. Queuing for wine at a state liquor store. In the Cosmos Night Club. [more inside]
"She was outclassed in everything except bravery" In April 1915 the Russian empire was on the verge of entering Hungary, having taken the great fortress of Przemyśl. But in May a German-led surprise offensive cracked Russian lines, shattering entire armies and causing a 300-mile retreat in what was probably "the greatest victory of World War I by the Central Powers". Nearly one million prisoners were taken. Moscow lost the ruins of Przemyśl and all of Poland. For the next two years Russia will struggle but ultimately lose, tsardom falling to revolutions and the rise of the Soviet state. [more inside]
The Singing Sailor Underwater Defense System - the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society sends out a message of peace, love, understanding and respect to Russian submariners cruising through the Stockholm archepelago
Russia is the funniest country in the world. Some countries, like America and England, are funny mostly on purpose, while others, like Germany and France, can be funny only unintentionally. (But that counts! Being funny is tricky, so any way you do it counts.) Russia, however, is funny both intentionally (Gogol, Zoshchenko, Bulgakov) and unintentionally (Vladimir Putin singing, as he did at a televised event a few years ago, “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill”). Given the disaster Russian history has been more or less continuously for the last five centuries, its humor is of the darkest, most extreme kind. Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.[more inside]
As John Denver's US prominence waned into the 1980s, opposite the rise of new wave and harder rock, he kept touring internationally for some notable firsts. In 1979, Denver was one of the performers to welcome Chinese Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping to the US, and six years later, Denver was the first western artist to tour in the USSR, where he performed alongside Kermit the Frog. In 1992, he had another first for a western peformer, when Denver toured mainland China, to find that many of his audiences already knew his songs. Two years later, he was the first US act in Vietnam since the Vietnam War. [more inside]
What Russians really think - "Many in the west see Russia as aggressive and brainwashed. But its citizens have a different view." Meanwhile,[1,2] in Moscow and Lviv...