135 posts tagged with soviet.
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The Typewriters That Came In From The Cold

In 1983, the US got a tip-off that the Soviets had designed a new breed of hard-to-find bug, capable of relaying information from office equipment. The Moscow Embassy had more than ten tons of gear, all of which was immediately suspect. It had to be fixed, and now. Problem one: how do you replace it all? Problem two: how do you get the old stuff back? Problem three: what on earth were they looking for? What they found surprised them! A tale of bureaucracy, secrecy, narrow corridors and IBM Selectrics that weren't quite what they seemed. (SL NSA PDF)
posted by Devonian on Aug 5, 2015 - 35 comments

Men died in the pursuit of better maps.

"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
posted by The Whelk on Jul 18, 2015 - 21 comments

"It's very easy to break people's will"

Fifteen miles from Vilnius, Lithuania, in the forest of Nemenčinė, a crumbling, underground Soviet Bunker contains Europe's most terrifying theme park: a KGB torture prison that's still operating on its visitors. [more inside]
posted by Harvey Kilobit on Jul 4, 2015 - 20 comments

Inside the Soviet space shuttle

Russian urban exploration photographer Ralph Mirebs recently paid a visit to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, where inside a giant abandoned hangar are decaying remnants of prototypes from the Soviet space shuttle program.
posted by AstroGuy on Jun 14, 2015 - 32 comments

African-American migrants to the Soviet Union

"My father felt that the U.S.S.R. treated him better than America. He was happy here."
posted by the hot hot side of randy on May 3, 2015 - 24 comments

Cybernetics Behind the Curtain

"Computers, once vilified and now championed, were constant in one thing: They amplified the virtues and deficits of the system that implemented them." The Tangled History of Soviet Computer Science. [more inside]
posted by Kadin2048 on Apr 9, 2015 - 15 comments

“Hedgehogs, Russian thing, don’t ask": Yozhik v tumane (1975)

Yozhik v tumane - Soyuzmultfilm Yuri Norstein (YT, 1975) (Hedgehog in the Fog, Wikipedia) is ten delightful minutes of one of the most beloved animated movies in the world. That hedgehog, that owl: just look at them. Just a small good thing for your day. Discovered via Thomas Pynchon's "Bleeding Edge," source of the post title.
posted by MonkeyToes on Mar 24, 2015 - 7 comments

Russian empire changes clocks to Putin Time, expands to 11 time zones

BBC: Russia will turn back its clocks for the last time on Sunday to permanently adopt winter hours. It will also increase its time zones from nine to 11, from the Pacific to the borders of the European Union. For the last three years, Russia experimented with keeping permanent summer time, but it proved to be highly unpopular with many Russians. The Soviet Union introduced Daylight Saving Time in 1981. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Oct 26, 2014 - 102 comments

kafkarna

On Gottland
Gottland is not a novel, but that proves difficult to remember. The book, playfully subtitled Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia, is technically a work of reportage, and its author, Mariusz Szczygieł, one of Poland’s best-known journalists. Most of Gottland’s tales, however, seem better suited to Soviet science fiction—or even Russian absurdism—than to actual European history. Szczygieł, aware of his essays’ incredibility, alludes to it not only in Gottland’s subtitle but also in a more blatant disclaimer to his readers: “From here on, most of what we know . . . should be labeled with the first sentence from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, which goes: ‘All this happened, more or less.’”

posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 20, 2014 - 8 comments

"Socialism Is Our Launching Pad!"

Russiatrek.org's blog has a nice collection of Soviet propaganda posters. Soviet space program 1958-1963 Part 1. Part 2. International Workers' Day. Soviet Patriotism. Soviet propaganda - the beginning 1917-1923. Stalin's Soviet Union tourism posters. Socialism vs. Capitalism. WWII Part 1. Part 2. Soviet posters of the 1970's. The blog's art category.
posted by cwest on Oct 7, 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

The "Light-Blue" Puppy

The Light-Blue Puppy is a visually extraordinary India Ink-animated Soviet musical children's cartoon made in 1976, only recently translated into English. It tells the tale of a small, sad puppy who has been rejected by his peers for his unusual color, but nevertheless manages to find his way in the world (with some help from a few other colorful characters, of course). On its surface it appears to be a cute, cleverly-animated story with a simple message of tolerance. [more inside]
posted by Ndwright on Jul 7, 2014 - 6 comments

Not Safe for Workers of the USSR

Inside the Soviet Union's Secret Erotica Collection (The Moscow Times). "Across from the Kremlin, the country's main library held a pornographic treasure trove." Photogallery. "Legend has it that Soviet henchmen used to come to the archive".
posted by stbalbach on Jun 24, 2014 - 25 comments

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

That Time The CIA And Howard Hughes Tried To Steal A Soviet Submarine | You may recall this (previously) epic post about this subject, but it is time to update the story with recently declassified documents (PDF: Search it for the term "Azorian" and you'll find some 200 pages of info.) Or just read the first link for the Cliff's Notes.
posted by spock on Apr 16, 2014 - 43 comments

In Kyrgyzstan, there was one that was made like a traditional Kyrgyz hat

Photographer Chris Herwig (previously) has successfully kickstarted a photo book on the oddball bus-stops of the former Soviet republics, compiled over 12 years and spanning 12 countries. You can browse many of the photos at Herwig's website. Reporter Alina Simone reported on the project and the bus stops for PRI's The World. The PRI site also has a video slide show of the stops narrated by Herwig.
posted by Going To Maine on Apr 9, 2014 - 3 comments

Lovely retro future.

How Soviet artists imagined Communist life in space.
posted by Mistress on Apr 5, 2014 - 28 comments

The Soviet POWs at Fort Dix

In 1945, the 153 Soviet POWs of Fort Dix disappeared into a void. Their ultimate fate is unknown. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Jan 13, 2014 - 63 comments

Secret Soviet Space Ships

Today marks 25 years since Buran, the enigmatic Soviet Space Shuttle clone, made her single unpiloted 2-orbit flight before an inglorious retirement like her known siblings.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Nov 15, 2013 - 21 comments

one of the fastest decimations of an animal population in world history

The Most Senseless Environmental Crime of the 20th Century [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 13, 2013 - 41 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

What if it decides to fire?

Полигон (Polygon), also called Firing Range, is a Soviet short film from 1977. It concerns a tank that is able to read the brain impulses of enemy soldiers, and the man who designed it. The generals have great plans for this tank, but the designer, and the tank, have other plans. [more inside]
posted by jiawen on Oct 17, 2013 - 13 comments

United States of America

Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 29, 2013 - 49 comments

"It does no harm to listen to Bach from time to time."

Richter: The Enigma 1, 2. In Tours. At the Moscow Conservatory. At the Barbican 1, 2. Well-Tempered Clavier. Italian Concerto. Beethoven Sonatas. TL;DW: Richter plays Chopin
posted by seemoreglass on Jun 28, 2013 - 8 comments

The Taiga Life

Featured previously, Vice does a 35 minute video chronicling a rare visit to the sole surviving member of the Lykov family, Agafia. [more inside]
posted by 2N2222 on May 2, 2013 - 7 comments

Mars Eats Probes

Russian amateurs may have found the lost Mars 3 Lander.
posted by Artw on Apr 12, 2013 - 13 comments

Lightink ze vay.

They had to be fully autonomous, because they were situated hundreds and hundreds miles aways from any populated areas. After reviewing different ideas on how to make them work for a years without service and any external power supply, Soviet engineers decided to implement atomic energy to power up those structures. So, special lightweight small atomic reactors were produced in limited series to be delivered to the Polar Circle lands and to be installed on the lighthouses.
posted by cthuljew on Mar 26, 2013 - 14 comments

Lost Vanguard: The remains of Soviet Modernist architecture

Photographer Richard Pare spent from 1992 to 2007 documenting the modernist architecture that flourished in the newly-formed Soviet Union. Many of the building are now underused, decayed, or demolished. Here is an interview. Here are some reviews of a 2007 show at MOMA and the current exhibit at Chicago's Graham Foundation, which ends on the 22nd. Previously.
posted by hydrophonic on Feb 12, 2013 - 3 comments

"Scholars, however, have long known a very different story"

The Real Cuban Missile Crisis: Everything you think you know about those 13 days is wrong.
posted by andoatnp on Feb 8, 2013 - 49 comments

Old Believers in the wilderness

In 1978, geological explorers in a remote region of southern Siberia made an unexpected discovery: a family living alone, more than 150 miles from the nearest settlement. They had lived in isolation since 1936 and were unaware that World War II had happened.
posted by the duck by the oboe on Jan 28, 2013 - 65 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

Mountain of Dinosaurs

"Mountain of Dinosaurs" (1967) A Russian cartoon, directed by Rasa Strautmane. WARNING: things don't end well for the Dinosaurs. [via]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 16, 2012 - 4 comments

Socialism Expo

Beautiful images from the USSR. Someone has scanned over 10,000 photos from the Soviet Union. Sources seem to be mainly the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, Soviet Life magazine and catalogs and magazines. [more inside]
posted by k8t on Sep 18, 2012 - 13 comments

Time, Forward!

It's the turn of the 90s and you're back in the USSR, sitting on the Persian carpet that covers every inch of your Soviet living room and facing the old Rubin-714 set. As the clock strikes nine, you hear those familiar strains… [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on Sep 13, 2012 - 23 comments

Following Vavilov's footsteps in the ice of the Pamir mountains-- and other Saudi Aramco-iana.

Seed collectors themselves are a bit like foraging animals, wandering far and wide in search of the same plants, and [Sergey] Shuvalov, the expedition's chief logistics planner, translator and route finder, often has to whistle them back to the vehicles. He is aware of the honor of following Vavilov's footsteps, but doubts that he will have time this trip to collect anything near the 200 species and varieties that his compatriot did here 100 years ago. [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Aug 31, 2012 - 5 comments

Anna Akhmatova

Akhmatova's work ranges from short lyric poems to intricately structured cycles, such as Requiem (1935–40), her tragic masterpiece about the Stalinist terror. Her style, characterised by its economy and emotional restraint, was strikingly original and distinctive to her contemporaries. The strong and clear leading female voice struck a new chord in Russian poetry. Her writing can be said to fall into two periods – the early work (1912–25) and her later work (from around 1936 until her death), divided by a decade of reduced literary output. Her work was condemned and censored by Stalinist authorities and she is notable for choosing not to emigrate, and remaining in Russia, acting as witness to the atrocities around her. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Aug 20, 2012 - 11 comments

Tuesday. Africa. Lion o'clock.

Every child comes equipped with
(Whether it's a boy or girl)
A big serving of explosives
Might be up to half a pound
They must be in constant motion
Push, and kick, and flail, and shout
If they can't, they just explode
Bang! Kaboom! Your luck's run out. [includes Soviet animation and baby monkeys] [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on May 26, 2012 - 9 comments

There is more than one of everything

Finland has always looked both west and east, notably the Loviisa nuclear power plant used Westinghouse instrumentation married to a Soviet design, earning the nickname 'Eastinghouse'. They hedged their bets on rather less safety-critical issues as well. Having little success in the Eurovision Song Contest (until they changed tack relatively recently), they also entered (and won) its Soviet counterpart: Intervision. [more inside]
posted by Talkie Toaster on May 14, 2012 - 9 comments

Peasant culture and Russian folklore in Soviet animation.

Peasant culture and Russian folklore in Soviet animation (~400 minutes whereof): Soviet animation abounds in fantasies about the natural, wholesome lives of honorable, strong-willed Russian peasants and folk heroes and their struggles against villainy and adversity. Decorated with splendid folk art motifs that verge on horror vacui, these cel-animated cartoons are excellent aids for learning about (popular conceptions of) Russian folk material culture: decoration, architecture, dress, weaponry, textiles, domestic culture, manners, and so on. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on May 4, 2012 - 13 comments

And With Every Step Pain

A visually inventive, super-stylized, 27 minute Soviet cartoon telling of The Little Mermaid / Rusalochka from 1968.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 8, 2012 - 15 comments

"Pure Cinema"

Человек с киноаппаратом ("Man with a Movie Camera") is a classic experimental documentary film that was released in 1929. Directed by pioneer Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, this classic, silent documentary film has no story and no actors, and is actually three documentaries in one. Ostensibly it documents 24 hours of life in a single city in the Soviet Union. But it is also a documentary of the filming of that documentary and a depiction of an audience watching that documentary and their responses. "We see the cameraman and the editing of the film, but what we don't see is any of the film itself." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 13, 2012 - 26 comments

SoftPanorama, a vast resource with a Russian edge

SoftPanorama / SoftPanorama Switchboard, created by Nikolai Bezroukov, is one of those vast, practical resources with a fun side too. There is the excellent and very useful Classification of Corporate Psychopaths | Coping with the toxic stress in IT environment | Surviving a Bad Performance Review | Information Overload: How Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime | Science, PseudoScience and Society. But then there is the fun side of the site too: Russian Music Oldies on YouTube | economic crisis humor | Songs from Famous Russian Cartoons on Youtube. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Feb 5, 2012 - 5 comments

Sergei Bondarchuk's "War and Peace"

An ever increasing accumulation of film stills from Sergei Bondarchuk's 8-hour long epic film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 1, 2012 - 20 comments

In Soviet Russia, Mars travels to you

The utopian Mars fiction of Soviet Russia
posted by Artw on Jan 11, 2012 - 8 comments

"You can’t regret your fate, although I do regret my mother didn’t marry a carpenter."

Growing up, she was a beloved celebrity in her home country. Thousands of girls were named after her. So was a bestselling perfume. But Josef Stalin's "Little Sparrow," his only daughter, (born Svetlana Stalina) defected to the United States in 1967. Upon arriving in New York, she promptly held a press conference that surprised the world, denouncing her father's regime. Svetlana became a naturalized US citizen, moved to Taliesin West, married an American, changed her name to Lana Peters, then returned to the Soviet Union in 1984, declaring that she had not been free "for one single day" in the U.S., only to once again return to America in 1986. She lived out her remaining days in a small town in Wisconsin. Mrs. Peters passed away from colon cancer on November 22nd, at the age of 85. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 28, 2011 - 39 comments

17 Hours of Russian Animation

MISSING: One elephant. Striped. Big. Polite and good-natured. Loves cod liver oil. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on Nov 2, 2011 - 30 comments

The literature of the Siege of Leningrad

I am not going to try now to open the eyes of the world to the Leningrad Blockade. What I will write about here is less ambitious and somewhat more promising: the literature of the siege. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Oct 12, 2011 - 7 comments

Well, the Ukraine girls really knock me out, and Moscow girls make me sing and shout.

You've probably heard Madonna's Holiday. You might be aware of the Dutch rap version by MC Miker G & Deejay Sven. What may be new to you is the Soviet parody. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on Aug 12, 2011 - 43 comments

From the Comrades that Brought You Tetris... But Only If You Have 15 Kopek

Soviet era arcade remains full functionally in Armenia. While Funspot is impressive, check out this working arcade in Gyumri, Armenia. [more inside]
posted by k8t on Aug 4, 2011 - 21 comments

Soviet Literature Summarized

Sovlit.com is a very large and comprehensive site dedicated to the literature of the Soviet Union (both official and dissident), with summaries (fans of the genres might find the examples of Soviet science fiction and spy novels to be particularly interesting), biographies, and even some full translations of short stories from authors such as Isaac Babel, Vasily Grossman, Yevgeny Zamyatin, and others.
posted by a louis wain cat on Jul 20, 2011 - 10 comments

Deep space. The silence of the void. Shhh.

NOON, 22ND CENTURY. The research vessel Pegasus is getting ready for liftoff from a spaceport near Moscow. Its small crew of three comprises interplanetary zoologist Dr. Seleznev, his adventurous nine-year-old daughter Alisa, and the terminally pessimistic Captain Zeleny. As they search for rare animal specimens to expand the Moscow zoo's collection, they will discover which of the ferocious tigerat's two tails is longer, save a planet of robots from a paralyzing epidemic, and deliver a modestly sized birthday cake. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on Jul 8, 2011 - 24 comments

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