Germany’s Radioactive Pig Problem

When we were talking about Chernobyl last week, I thought that it was interesting how the disaster still effects many aspects of life in Europe, even more than 25 years later and hundreds of miles away. I was reading an article about an international conference on wild pig management (because they are a global ecological nightmare), and out of the blue there was a line about the thousands of radioactive wild boars that are invading Germany because of residual radiation from the explosion.… Read the rest here

Stilyagi, Color, and the Conception of TIme

Just today I came across an article on the website of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty featuring a few dozen photographs of the people and places in the Soviet Union in 1963. Nothing is known about the person who took the photographs or those who are captured in them, but they are immediately captivating sue to the fact that they are in brilliant color. For some reason I always find it surprising to see photos from this period that are not black and white.… Read the rest here

U-S Russia Relations

In her lecture last night, Angela Stent brought up many points about the necessity of perspective in diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States that I think are really important when thinking about where they will go in the future. The United States has a hard time understanding others’ points of view, and calling this “empathy deficit disorder” is a clever way of getting to the center of the problem, or at least what other countries think is America’s problem when conducting foreign policy.… Read the rest here

The New Economic Raisin Policy

We have talked a lot about Lenin and Stalin’s agricultural policy in class this semester, so when I came across an article about how how the raisin market is controlled in the United States, I was immediately reminded of the NEP. Confoundingly, American raisin production is regulated by a government agency called the Raisin Administrative Committee, established by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, which a group of raisin farmers are currently challenging in the U.S.… Read the rest here

An Anniversary

John Belushi died today in 1982. Joseph Stalin died today in 1953. Both of these people left a great impact on society and the world, and their contributions are significant, but I wouldn’t recommend emulating either of them. However, what often comes with anniversaries is nostalgia, which particularly seems to be the case with Comrade Stalin, and nostalgia for something can be easily separated from its original meaning.

When reading about the ceremony that the Russian Communist Party held today at the Kremlin wall the article said that there were about 300 people, mostly pensioners, that paid their respects.… Read the rest here


On Saturday night I went to see Professor Ben Shute’s faculty recital of four works by Tchaikovsky, including the violin concerto in D major, considered to be one of the most important in this category of violin literature. During intermission, I remembered that the last time I heard Tchaikovsky played by a live orchestra was at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow. A performance in Rubendall, despite its amazing transformation last year, does not quite achieve the same effect as one in the Russian state concert hall.… Read the rest here


Before our class last Thursday, I had never heard of Taylorism as a distinct theory, rather I thought that the utilitarian application of human labor was just something that developed naturally out of the industrial revolution. It may be that this is partly to what Frederick Winslow Taylor was reacting, but it is also possible that manufacturing at that time was adapting to the ideas that Taylor devised. Perhaps it is a chicken/egg scenario, but perhaps I am also thinking about it too much.… Read the rest here

World of Art

Reading the Massie article assigned for today was particularly interesting for me because of the work I have been doing at my job in the college archives. A large number of books related to the World of Art movement were donated to the college by an alumni whose grandfather, Basil Troussoff, studied with Aleksander Benois, and worked as a painter and set designer in New York theater after he immigrated to the United States. The archives also hold a large amount of Basil’s personal papers, which I have been working on cataloging for the past year, culminating in an exhibit that will be on display very soon in the basement of the library.… Read the rest here

Anna Karenina

This past weekend I went with several of my friends to see the most recent film adaptation of Anna Karenina at the Carlisle Theatre. I was very glad that the movie was playing there, because due to the limited release, I had missed the run of it at my local theater when I was home for break.  Despite the fact that other movie theaters may have digital projectors, or other fancy things, I really like that the Carlisle Theatre does not, especially when watching period films.… Read the rest here

Status and the Middle Class in The Cherry Orchard

The characters in the Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov demonstrate the changing relationship among social classes during the late tsarist period in Russia. The power of the aristocracy was shrinking, while at the same time, members of the peasantry were rising to form a new middle class.

Madame Lyubov Andreyevna,her brother Gayev, and neighbor Simeonov-Pishchik are all members of the old aristocracy, unable to transition to a society where status no longer guarantees wealthRead the rest here