Fearing Leakers, Russia Reverts to Typewriters
USA Today reports:
“After the scandal with the spread of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the revelations of Edward Snowden, reports of listening to Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to the G20 summit in London, the practice of creating paper documents will increase,” an unidentified FSO source tells Izvestia.
One key reason for using typewriters is that each creates its own unique “signature” that can be traced, the newspaper says.
Full Story: USA Today: Spooked by NSA, Russia reverts to paper documents
Tunguska Event Meteorite Fragments Finally Unearthed
MIT Technology Review reports:
The Tunguska impact event is one of the great mysteries of modern history. The basic facts are well known. On 30 June 1908, a vast and powerful explosion engulfed an isolated region of Siberia near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River. [...]
That changes today with the extraordinary announcement by Andrei Zlobin from the Russian Academy of Sciences that he has found three rocks from the Tunguska region with the telltale characteristics of meteorites. If he is right, these rocks could finally help solve once and for all what kind of object struck Earth all those years ago.
Full Story: MIT Technology Review: First Tunguska Meteorite Fragments Discovered
The catch: Zlobin collected the samples in 1988, and waited 20 years to analyze them, casting some uncertainty on his research.
The Fifth Problem: Math & Anti-Semitism In The Soviet Union
For all intents and purposes, “the fifth line” was a code for asking whether one was Jewish or not. (People of other nationalities, like Tatars and Armenians, against whom there were prejudices and persecution—though not nearly on the same scale as against the Jews—were also picked up this way.) My “fifth line” said that I was Russian, but my last name—which was my father’s last name, and clearly sounded Jewish—gave me away.
Even if I hadn’t been using my father’s last name, my Jewish origin would have been picked up by the admissions committee anyway, because the application form specifically asked for the full names of both parents. Those full names included patronymic names, that is, the first names of the grandparents of the applicant. My father’s patronymic name was Joseph, clearly Jewish, so this was another way to find out (if his last name weren’t so obviously Jewish). The system was set up in such a way that it would pick up those who were at least one-quarter Jewish and everyone of those was classified as a Jew, much like it was in Nazi Germany.
Having established that by this definition I was a Jew, the woman said:
“Do you know that Jews are not accepted to Moscow University?”
“What do you mean?”
“What I mean is that you shouldn’t even bother to apply. Don’t waste your time. They won’t let you in.”
I didn’t know what to say.
“Is that why you sent me this letter?”
“Yes. I’m just trying to help you.”
Full Story: The New Criterion: The Fifth Problem: Math & Anti-Semitism In The Soviet Union
1 Member Of Pussy Riot Freed After Appeal, Others Still In Jail
The Guardian reports:
A Moscow appeals court has released one of the jailed members of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot, but ordered two others to serve the remainder of their two-year jail term in a Russian prison colony.
Yekaterina Samutsevich, the oldest of the three women at 30, walked free into the arms of her father, after serving six months in a pre-trial detention centre after being found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred in August.
A panel of three judges accepted the argument of Samutsevich’s new lawyer that she had not participated fully in the group’s February performance of an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral. Samutsevich had been kicked out of the cathedral shortly after entering, meaning she did not engage in the “aggressive movements” that had offended Russia’s Orthodox believers, she argued.
Full Story: The Guardian: Pussy Riot member freed after Moscow court appeal
(via Meredith Yayanos)
Wikipedia Blacks Out Russian Version in Protest
The AP reports:
Wikipedia on Tuesday shut down its Russian-language site for 24 hours to protest a bill that would give the Russian government sweeping powers to blacklist certain sites, the latest in a flurry of legislation that appears aimed at neutering a growing opposition movement that has protested President Vladimir Putin‘s rule. [...]
The Kremlin has made no public comment on the bill, but lawmakers from Putin’s party were among those who wrote the legislation, and it is likely to pass. It follows other recent laws that have targeted groups Putin views as rivals or bad influences: A law imposing heavy fines for protesters was quickly pushed through parliament in June, and a bill that would label NGOs receiving foreign aid as “foreign agents” was approved just last week.
Time: Russian Wikipedia Shuts Down Site to Protest Bill
The Soviet Synthesizer that Bridged Occultism and Electronic Music
I have a guest post up today at Boing Boing on a subject I think will interest Technoccult readers:
You don’t play the ANS synthesizer with a keyboard. Instead you etch images onto glass sheets covered in black putty and feed them into a machine that shines light through the etchings, trigging a wide range of tones. Etchings made low on the sheets make low tones. High etchings make high tones. The sound is generated in real-time and the tempo depends on how fast you insert the sheets.
This isn’t a new Dorkbot or Maker Faire oddity. It’s a nearly forgotten Russian synthesizer designed by Evgeny Murzin in 1938. The synth was named after and dedicated to the Russian experimental composer and occultist Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (1872–1915). The name might not mean much to you, but it illuminates a long running connection between electronic music and the occult.
You can find traces of the occult throughout the history of electronic music. The occult obsessed Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo built his own mechanical instruments around 1917. The famous Moog synthesizer made an early appearance in Mick Jagger’s soundtrack to Kenneth Anger’s occult film Invocation of My Demon Brother in 1969. And in the late 1970s Throbbing Gristle built their own electronic instruments for their occult sound experiments, setting the stage for many of the occult themed industrial bands who followed. The witch house genre keeps this tradition alive today.
It’s little the surprise otherworldly sounds and limitless possibilities of synthesizers and samplers would evoke the luminous. But there’s more to the connection. The aim of the alchemist is not just the literal synthesis of chemicals, but also synthesis in the Hegelian sense: the combination of ideas. Solve et Coagula. From the Hermetic magi of antiquity, to Aleister Crowley’s OTO to modern chaos magicians, western occultists have sought to combine traditions and customs into a single universal system of thought and practice.
Electronic music grew from similar intellectual ground, and it all started with Scriabin.
Full Story: Boing Boing: The Soviet Synthesizer that Bridged Occultism and Electronic Music
Russia Wants Its Own DARPA
RIA Novosti reports on Putin’s plan for the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects in the Defense Industry, a Russian equivalent to DARPA.
President Vladimir Putin has submitted to parliament a bill on the foundation’s establishment, which is expected to become Russia’s answer to the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The foundation will be tasked with informing the country’s leadership on projects that can ensure Russian superiority in defense technology.
It will also analyze the risks of any Russian technological backwardness and technological dependence on other powers.
Full Story: RIA Novosti: Russia to Take on ‘High Risk’ Defense Research Projects
(via Wired Danger Room)
Cyberculture History: Electronic Music Pioneer/Soviet Spy Leon Theremin
Theremin saw little of the $100,000 he was paid, Glinsky says, which most likely went straight into Soviet coffers. But he stayed in the US for a while working on other projects, and engaging in industrial espionage.
“His very reason for being sent over was his espionage mission,” says Glinsky. Demonstrating the theremin instrument was just a distraction, a Trojan Horse, as it were.
“He had special access to firms like RCA, GE, Westinghouse, aviation companies and so on, and shared his latest technical know how with representatives from these companies to get them to open up to him about their latest discoveries. [...]
Later that year he returned suddenly to the Soviet Union, leaving his wife behind. Some people suggested he’d been kidnapped by Soviet officials, but Glinsky says a combination of debt and homesickness led to Theremin returning voluntarily.
He returned to a Soviet Union in the grip of Stalin’s purges. He was arrested and falsely accused of being a counter-revolutionary, for which he received an eight year sentence in 1939.
BBC: Leon Theremin: The man and the music machine
Thousands Attend Anti-Putin Rally in Moscow
Thousands of Russians have joined hands to form a ring around Moscow city centre in protest against Vladimir Putin’s expected return as president in an election next week.
Protesters stood in a long line on Sunday, around the 16-km Moscow Garden Ring Road, wearing white ribbons that symbolise the biggest opposition protests since Putin rose to power 12 years ago.
Putin is all but certain to win the presidential election on March 4, but the growing protests have highlighted demands for greater democracy and openness from mainly urban voters fed up with widespread corruption and one-man rule.
Al Jazeera: Thousands attend anti-Putin rally in Moscow
See also: Russian prime minister counting on rural, less-educated voters as popularity slips ahead of March vote
Surpressed GQ article on Putin now available online and in Russian
Klintron Guest Post at Innovation Patterns
I don’t believe I’ve linked to Innovation Patterns here yet. It’s a new link blog from former Technoccult guest editor Justin Boland of Brainsturbator and Skilluminati. Every day there’s a nice big plate of brain food all prepared for you and ready to consume and digest.
Anywhoo, I guest curated the latest post. Some of these links will look familiar to regular readers here, but there’s some new stuff in there as well.
Klintron’s guest post at Innovation Patterns