January 18, 2018

Aliens, help Russia!


Aliens, help Russia!
Hey, who turned out the lights all month?

1. If you’re not a fan of sweat or sunburns, Moscow in December is the place for you. Russia’s capital got a whopping six minutes of sunlight through the entire month of December. Sure, the yearly average of 18 hours isn’t much better, but the December of 2017 was not just particularly dismal; it was the darkest month in the city’s history, according to data from Russia’s meteorological center. When Russians complain about being kept in the dark, it’s not just about secrets they’re not finding out.

2. Farming for salvation? A field in Moscow’s Mitino district is home to a giant, carved message that can be seen in space. The letters carved into the field say “Lord, help Russia.” A previous message spelled “Putin, help Skhodnya,” referring to a valley slated for a construction project. The message to the lord was apparently carved in 2016, but was recently discovered and propelled to popularity by social media. God and aliens may not be listening, but social networks always are.

3. How about an independent poll with your election? No can do. The Levada Center, Russia’s top independent pollster, was labeled a foreign agent in 2016, but is only facing the music now: foreign agents are banned from playing a part in elections, so Levada cannot publish survey results at least until the election. Meanwhile, the state-controlled polling agency VTsIOM is picking up the sociological slack: for starters, it claims that 73.8% of Russians polled will vote for Putin.

In Odder News
  • Lions and tigers and folk art, oh my! Russian airlines decorate their planes with a flair. Check out the animals, flowers, and unusual color palettes that keep Russia’s airways exciting.

  • Bring out the dogs! Specifically, the huskies. Winter is a great time for husky racing and other activities with the cold-tolerant canines.

Quote of the Week

“Last December was the darkest month in the history of weather observations.”
—A report from the weather portal Meteonovosti putting December’s six minutes of sunlight in context.

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Some of Our Books

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Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
Steppe / Степь

Steppe / Степь

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

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The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

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93 Untranslatable Russian Words

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This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
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Murder at the Dacha

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