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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Fearful Majesty

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This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
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The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

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