104 posts tagged with sovietunion.
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When you've got to mail a letter from Leningrad to Stalingrad

Want to send a letter, but also want to express your admiration for the glorious heroes of the revolution? Stamp Russia has got you covered. [more inside]
posted by Krom Tatman on May 12, 2016 - 1 comment

.su

An excerpt from Ben Peter's How Not To Network A Nation [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 3, 2016 - 11 comments

Klingons, Yogurt and Uncle Tom's Cabin

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union. AV Club is commemorating the occasion by having a "Cold War Week", which launches today with a Cold War Pop Culture Timeline.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Mar 28, 2016 - 41 comments

Hearings, Magistrates, Chauffeurs

With trepidation, Weßel ordered a scan, which showed a typed carbon copy, with corrections in Koestler’s handwriting. The date on the title page, March 1940, was the date on which Koestler is known to have finished the novel. There was no doubt. Weßel had stumbled across a copy of the German manuscript of Koestler’s masterpiece. The implications of Weßel’s discovery are considerable, for Darkness at Noon is that rare specimen, a book known to the world only in translation. [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Mar 15, 2016 - 16 comments

The Truth About the MiG-29

Let’s face it: Soviet jets are ugly, and MiGs are some of the worst offenders. The Vietnam-era MiG-17 and MiG-19 represented a utilitarian tube-with-wings-on-it trend; they were followed by the deadly MiG‑21, a rational sculpture of angles and cone. This one is different. The fluidly beautiful MiG-29 looks like its larger twin-tail contemporary, the slab-sided F-15 Eagle, to the degree that a Bolshoi ballerina resembles a roller derby star. [more inside]
posted by veedubya on Feb 24, 2016 - 77 comments

Candid Camera in the Soviet Union

Everyday Soviet citizens, he figured, were more than likely filled not with militant hatred, but with "amusing and identifiable foibles that Americans could relate to." They, too, would surely react with chagrin to someone reading a newspaper over their shoulder, or gallantly try to help a woman carry a suitcase full of concrete. So why not film those reactions and broadcast them to Americans, to show them that Soviet had a vulnerable and hilarious human side?
posted by veedubya on Dec 9, 2015 - 19 comments

There’s no private aviation in the Soviet Union

In a daring attempt to ease cold war tensions, the 19-year-old amateur pilot had flown a single-engine Cessna nearly 550 miles from Helsinki to the center of Moscow—probably the most heavily defended city on the planet—and parked it at the base of St. Basil’s Cathedral, within spitting distance of Lenin’s tomb. Newspapers dubbed the pilot “the new Red Baron” and the “Don Quixote of the skies.” The stunt became one of the most talked-about aviation feats in history. But it was politics, not fame, that motivated Rust.
posted by veedubya on Nov 12, 2015 - 21 comments

"an abyss of hedonistic pleasure"

"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
posted by The Whelk on Oct 12, 2015 - 13 comments

Stanislav Petrov Day

On this date in 1983, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov saved the life of every man, woman & child on the face of the Earth. [more inside]
posted by MrJM on Sep 26, 2015 - 83 comments

“The Germans were not there; the Lithuanians did it themselves.”

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.
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Jul 30, 2015 - 52 comments

Filming everyday life near the end of the Soviet Union

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]
posted by Rumple on May 29, 2015 - 18 comments

"And we still lost the Cold War. Go figure."

A discussion of physical education in the former Soviet Union. Courtesy of Startingstrength.com.
posted by the hot hot side of randy on May 16, 2015 - 26 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

The Unknown War

The Unknown War: WWII And The Epic Battles Of The Russian Front, the 20-episode documentary of the Nazi-Germany/Soviet Union conflict, first aired in the United States in 1978 but was subsequently pulled after the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. "The footage was edited from over 3.5 million feet of film taken by Soviet camera crews from the first day of the war, 22 June 1941, to the Soviet entry into Berlin in May 1945. Most of these films have never been seen outside this documentary series." It is available in full (1040 minutes). [more inside]
posted by cwest on Mar 5, 2015 - 24 comments

A hundred eighty-six thousand miles!

It wasn’t easy to buy a car in the Soviet Union. Usually, the first thing to do was to sign up on a decade-long waiting list to register your interest in owning a vehicle. Secondly, you needed to save what was then a huge sum of money; a new Zaphorozhets cost the equivalent of about 30 times the average monthly salary. A few people found a different way, however – assembling cars with their own hands. [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Feb 11, 2015 - 17 comments

Partisans

The Partisan Review, a critical magazine founded by William Phillips and Philip Rahv (and Kenneth Fearing) and originally created as an arm of the American Communist Party was 'more a literary event than a literary magazine,' that lost its purpose after perestroika: The Death of a Literary Magazine. But even in death, the archives are not 'down the memory hole', but rather digitized and available online. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 30, 2014 - 3 comments

Playing the bones, Soviet style

In the days before tape recorders and magnitizdat (previously), vinyl was a state-controlled resource in the Soviet Union. So how were dissidents and bootleggers to meet the demand for forbidden music? Write it "on the bone". [more inside]
posted by EvaDestruction on Dec 28, 2014 - 16 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

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

Drill, Comrade, Drill.

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 - 50 comments

Strangers Among Us

Xenophobic Chill Descends Upon Moscow [NYTimes] “...For now, we have not encountered real aliens. However, the ‘fifth column’ of national traitors in Russia has unfortunately become an incontestable reality.”
posted by the young rope-rider on Apr 13, 2014 - 80 comments

Richard Nixon and Donald Kendall: Pepsi in Russia and South America

It has been said in half-jest that Pepsi was the official soda of the Cold War. Vice President Richard Nixon shared a Pepsi with Soviet Russia's Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, at the opening of the "American National Exhibition" in Moscow on July 24, 1959, after the famous "Kitchen Debate" (CBS newscast on Archive.org; transcript with two photos from the day). But how was it that Pepsi was the only Western soda-pop available there that day? Look to Donald Kendall, a long-time pal of Richard Nixon, who starting out in 1947 selling fountain syrup in New York, and rose through the ranks to be President of Pepsi Cola International by 1957. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 11, 2014 - 13 comments

Technology concentrates power.

Our Comrade the Electron. Maciej Cegłowski (previously) delivered a talk at Webstock in Wellington, New Zealand on theremin inventor Lev Termen (previously), futurism, the Dutch Golden Age, and the modern surveillance state.
posted by Cash4Lead on Feb 26, 2014 - 14 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

"Felled by your gun, felled by your gun ...."

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Soviet Sniper
"Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Soviet sniper credited with 309 kills—and an advocate for women's rights. On a U.S. tour in 1942, she found a friend in the first lady." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 12, 2014 - 31 comments

Canada's Siberian Expedition to Counter Bolshevism, 1919

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 and Russian.
posted by Rumple on Dec 23, 2013 - 32 comments

Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States

"Untold History of the United States challenges the basic narrative of the U.S. history that most Americans have been taught.... [Such history] is consoling; it is comforting. But it only tells a small part of the story." Instead of clips of modern people pondering the past, Oliver Stone's ten-part series relies heavily on archival footage and clips from old Hollywood films, with narration by Stone. Towards the end, he gets into the assassination of JFK, "but that should not detract from a series that sets out to be a counterweight to the patriotic cheerleading and myth-making." [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 23, 2013 - 66 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

Over the Abyss in Rye

If you truly would like to hear this story, first of all you will probably want to find out where I was born, how I spent my stupid childhood, what my parents did before my birth—in a word, all that David Copperfield rot. But truthfully speaking, I don’t have any urge to delve into that. "If Holden Caulfield Spoke Russian" (SLNYer)
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Sep 16, 2013 - 15 comments

On Saturday Mornings in 1967

In 1967, Fran Allison, along with her friends Kukla and Ollie, began hosting The CBS Children’s Film Festival. It offered many American children their first look at foreign films, and their contemporaries from other cultures. [more inside]
posted by timsteil on Aug 26, 2013 - 15 comments

Soviet Futurism

Tekhnika Molodezhi was the Popular Mechanics of the Soviet Union. The magazine, whose name means Technology for the Youth, had illustrations of everything from space stations, computerized farming, transport of the future, friendly robots, to more abstract images. If you don't want to hunt through the archive, Mythbuster's Tested website has a gallery of 201 great images from the magazine.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 15, 2013 - 24 comments

James Lloydovich Patterson

Black Soviet Icon's Lonely American Sojourn: For decades Jim Patterson was arguably the most famous black man in the Soviet Union, a debonair homegrown poet whose childhood role in an iconic film cemented his celebrity and who later roamed the vast country reading his work to adoring audiences. These days Patterson, whose African-American father emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1932, is convalescing in a threadbare subsidized apartment in downtown Washington, where he has led a reclusive life plagued by illness and depression since his Russian mother died more than a decade ago.
posted by Cash4Lead on Jul 1, 2013 - 16 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

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

Down and Out in Paris and Berlin

Russians without Russia is an elegantly designed digital archive of the magazines and newspapers produced by the Russian exile communities of 1920s and 30s.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 30, 2013 - 12 comments

Chuckchi Jokes

Anyone familiar with the contemporary Russian humorous folklore (jokelore, or in Russian anekdoty) knows that one of the most popular series of such jokes revolves around the Chukchis, the native people of Chukotka, the most remote northeast corner of Russia. These jokes, especially popular in 1990s and 2000s, fit the international genre of ethnic stupidity jokes . . .
posted by jason's_planet on Nov 10, 2012 - 17 comments

The Fifth problem: Math & Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union

The Fifth Problem: "If this were a boxing match, with one of the boxers pressed in the corner, bloodied, desperately trying to hold his own against the barrage of punches falling on him (many of them below the belt, I might add), that would be the equivalent of the final, deadly, blow. The problem looked innocent enough at first glance: given a circle and two points on the plane outside the circle, construct another circle passing trough those two points and touching the first circle at one point." Edward Frenkel, now Professor of Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, details the curiously baroque way Moscow State University chose to discriminate against talented Jewish math students: By quizzing them with fiendishly difficult math problems with deceptively simple solutions that are nearly impossible to find. [more inside]
posted by flug on Nov 5, 2012 - 41 comments

"Look 'round thee now on Samarcand, is she not queen of earth?"

In the first years of the Fifteenth Century Henry III of Castile sent Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo as his ambassador to Samarkand. His journey introduced him to giraffes and many other sights unknown to Europeans of the time. Samarkand was then the center of the largest empire in the world, that of Tamerlane the Great (a.k.a Timur), the last of the nomad conquerors. His capital began as a city of the Sogdians, which became an important center of culture and trade, as is recorded in these 7th Century wall paintings. Samarkand was refashioned by Timur and his descendants, the most famous being the astronomer Ulugh Beg, and the Timurid legacy is still visible in Samarkand. After Timur's death, his empire disintegrated, and soon fell into decline, but left enough of a mark to inspire both Christopher Marlowe and Edgar Allan Poe. The Russian Empire conquered Samarkand in 1868, and the city was documented in the early 20th Century in color photograhs by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii (this one's a favorite) and remained an out of the way place in the Soviet era.
posted by Kattullus on Oct 27, 2012 - 15 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

Perry Anderson's essays about modern states in The London Review of Books

Perry Anderson's book length three part series on the history of India from the beginnings of its independence movement, through independence and partition into its recent history as a nation-state is the latest in a series of erudite, opinionated and wordy articles in The London Review of Books by the UCLA professor of history and sociology on the modern history of various countries, so far taking in Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, the EU, Russia, Taiwan and France. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Aug 25, 2012 - 6 comments

"She hadn’t seen an orange in years"

Our Man in Great Neck: 'In June 1982, my grandparents, Murray and Helene Cohen, traveled to the Soviet Union as part of a secret mission headed by the Great Neck chapter of the long island Committee for Soviet Jewry in order to pass information and contraband goods to Jews attempting to leave Russia.'
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 14, 2012 - 1 comment

RIP Эдуард Анатольевич Хиль

Eduard Anatolyevich Khil, aka Mr. Trololo, has died at the age of 77. [more inside]
posted by alexoscar on Jun 4, 2012 - 50 comments

Solving mysteries of the Soviet lunar lander program

What the hell happened to the Luna 23 probe? As part of the Soviet Union's Luna program, it was designed to collect a small sample of lunar regolith and return it to Earth. But despite landing, it failed to leave the moon. Two years later, Luna 24 landed nearby and managed to attain and return a sample, but its geological properties conflicted wildly with what was expected. What the hell happened with Luna 24? [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 25, 2012 - 40 comments

Jazz on Bones

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. While the authorities of the Soviet Union decided they didn't want the people to hear Rock 'n' Roll, the people had other plans. X-Ray Plans.
posted by symbioid on Apr 15, 2012 - 19 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

The Bug Trainer

The best stop motion film ever? Or do you prefer The Night[mare] before Christmas?

Wladyslaw Starewicz' childhood passion for entomology led his career: he began producing short documentaries in Moscow around 1909-1910, beginning with a documentary about insects in Lithuania. In his spare time, he experimented with stop-action films using beetles, which he articulated by wiring the legs to the thorax with sealing wax! This, of course, led to his big breakthrough, released by the Van Kanjonkov Studio of Moscow: "The Battle of the Stag Beetles", the first puppet-animated film. [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Dec 30, 2011 - 16 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

Horowitz in Moscow

In 1986,[Vladimir] Horowitz announced that he would return to the Soviet Union for the first time since 1925 to give recitals in Moscow and Leningrad. In the new atmosphere of communication and understanding between the USSR and the USA, these concerts were seen as events of political, as well as musical, significance. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Nov 25, 2011 - 13 comments

Jewish Problems

This is a special collection of problems that were given to select applicants during oral entrance exams to the math department of Moscow State University. These problems were designed to prevent Jews and other undesirables from getting a passing grade. (via Hacker News)
posted by veedubya on Oct 11, 2011 - 48 comments

Inside the Russian Short Wave Enigma

UVB-76 is a Russian short wave station that has enthralled and mystified enthusiasts for decades.
posted by reenum on Oct 4, 2011 - 59 comments

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