(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Soviet Union

“There is a city beneath the streets”*…

 

Avtovo

Avtovo station, St. Petersburg

 

Anyone who knows a bit about Soviet state socialism knows about the Moscow Metro and its system of underground palaces; these awesome, opulent spaces have been a fixture of travel guides since the 1930s, and now they’re equally prevalent on Instagram accounts. Much less known is that these marble-clad portals in the centre of the capital are just the most visible elements of a gigantic Metro-building project that would gradually expand into more than a dozen different systems across several Republics — Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan. After Moscow came St Petersburg, Kyiv, Tbilisi, Baku, Kharkiv, Tashkent, Yerevan, Minsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Dnipro. “Metro-Trams” with palatial underground halls were built in Krivyi Rih and Volgograd; and a miniature “Cave Metro” was built for the tourist site of New Athos, Abkhazia.

Soviet experts were also responsible for engineering Metro systems outside the USSR — in Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Sofia, Pyongyang, and Calcutta (as it then was), India’s first Metro system in the capital of Communist-governed West Bengal. Soviet Metro building was an enormous project, spanning two continents. An early slogan had it that “the whole country is building the Moscow Metro”, but between the 1960s and 80s this could have been rephrased as “the Moscow Metro is being built in the whole country”. Why, then, was this particular kind of Metro building so important?…

Decorated with chandeliers, mosaics, and Lenin busts, the Soviet Union produced the most decorative (and probably the most photographed) transport system in the world.  Find out why (and see more gorgeous photos) at “The heavens underground: the Soviet Union’s opulent metro stations, from Belarus to Uzbekistan.”

* Robert E. Sullivan Jr.

###

As we go to ground, we might wish a Joyeux Anniversaire to Denis Diderot, contributor to and the chief editor of the Encyclopédie (“All things must be examined, debated, investigated without exception and without regard for anyone’s feelings.”)– and thus towering figure in the Enlightenment; he was born on this date in 1713.  Diderot was also a novelist (e.g., Jacques le fataliste et son maître [Jacques the Fatalist and his Master])…  and no mean epigramist:

From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.

We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.

Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

A thing is not proved just because no one has ever questioned it.

 source

 

 

Written by LW

October 5, 2019 at 1:01 am

Spy vs. Spy…

For most of the latter half of the 20th century, the United States and the Soviet Union were leading adversaries in the nuclear arms race known as the Cold War. Seemingly no potential advantage was to be overlooked, regardless of sector or industry. This was true in technology and espionage as well, and, in the 1960s, the CIA found a marriage of the two which could have been a potential game-changer.

That innovation? A bionic spy cat named the Acoustic Kitty.

According to former CIA agent turned author Victor Marchetti, the CIA had developed a way to, literally, wire a cat so that it could be used in espionage missions. The CIA surgically implanted a power supply into the cat, as well as wires going into its brain and its ears. A microphone was layered into its ears and an antenna through its tail. The implanted device was able to determine when the cat was aroused or hungry and suppress those urges, allowing it to carry out its mission — cuddle up to some Soviets and listen to their conversations. The entire operation, from start until its end, cost the government somewhere in the ballpark of $20 million and took about five years to develop.

In testing, the CIA discovered that the Acoustic Kitty had a fatal flaw. A surveillance van drove up to the test subjects and released the cat, which again according to Marchetti, made its way across the street unnoticed. Unnoticed, that is, by an oncoming taxi cab, which struck the cat, killing it immediately.

The CIA decided to drop the spy cat program soon thereafter.

From kindred spirit (public broadcasting guy who does a daily email/blog) Dan Lewis, whose Now I Know is always a treat.

***

As we beef up our bionics, we might recall that one cat did make it through: on this date in 1979 Elton John became the first Western pop star to play a live concert in what was then the Soviet Union, as he performed in Leningrad, kicking off a hugely-successful Evil-Empire-wide tour.


Elton behind the (Iron) Curtain

Written by LW

May 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

Activists prevail: Symmetry in all things…

Back in 2007, Drew Mokris of Left-Handed Tunes, wrote an open letter to the powers-that-be at Subway, mass market purveyors of submarine sandwiches:

Now, as he reports in his blog, “the war against geometric indecency” (and the resulting uneven distribution of cheesy good taste in a Subway sandwich) is won.  At least in the Antipodes:

click to enlarge

The Consumerist reports,

2 years, 11 months, and 13 days later, Subway has changed its policy. At least for the Australia/New Zealand area.

Heralding the victory, Drew at Left-Handed Toons writes, “Now is the time for the New Procedure. You can almost picture taking every homogenous bite. It’s okay now. Everything will always forever be okay now.”

Is this a regional test or the first stage in a worldwide phase-in? We can only pray.

And so one must.

As we spread our mayonnaise evenly and all the way to the edges of our bread, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that Mongolia held its first direct presidential election.

In 1911, Mongolia declared it’s independence from China under religious leader and king Bogd Khaan.  But on his death in 1924, and with the “help” of the Soviet Union, The Mongolian People’s Republic was established.  Mongolia stayed within the Soviet orbit until 1992, when Mikhail Gorbachev’s introduction of perestroika and glasnost  in the USSR encouraged a peaceful Democratic Revolution in Mongolia and led to the introduction of a multi-party system and market economy.

The flag of Mongolia

%d bloggers like this: