May 23, 2019

A Place for Everything

A Place for Everything
An amphitheater built around the spontaneous discovery of part of a 16th century wall in Moscow. KB Strelka Media Center.

Urban transformations, underwear conversations, devil invocations

1. Word on the street is that Moscow has done some good urban planning. The project “Moya Ulitsa,” meaning “my street,” was the only European project shortlisted for the Urban Land Institute Global Awards for Excellence. The massive project – the largest in modern Moscow history – began in 2015 with survey input from Moscow residents, and has transformed 92 kilometers of streets and planted 7,000 trees, among other things. The changes seem to be up everyone’s alley, because the project has concrete (greenspace?) results: 23% more pedestrians and 30% faster traffic.

2. A Russian journalist accidentally wore underwear as headwear half the day, and the internet decided it was a fashion statement. She tweeted about how she used the panties to to tie up her hair in the shower, and then, half a work day and two formal meetings later, realized she had forgotten to take them off. In a second tweet she complained that “not one b**** told me,” dismantling the myth that Russian babushki will always correct your clothing choices. (Then again, maybe the babushki approved, since any form of headwear does keep the head warmer.) In comments, however, Russians encouraged her to embrace it, saying that everyone was respecting underwear on the head as a “message to the world,” and “a great person creates fashion trends.”

3. A literature teacher at a village school in the Ural region spoke of the devil (of sorts) in class, and several parents thought his goal was that Satan actually “doth appear.The teacher was in fact trying to get his students off their phones, to pay attention. He was reading aloud a nonsense language section from “The Call of Cthulhu,” a classic horror short story by H. P. Lovecraft, about the secret cult of a sea monster-god. The getting-off-phones part didn’t work out so well, because one of the students filmed the scene, causing parental complaints and the school administrator’s decision to give him hell. The teacher was fired, but said he plans to dispute the decision while finishing his thesis. 

Russian teacher calling on devil
The devil is in the details, like the allegedly satanic drawing on the blackboard.

In Odder News

  • You (or your prison sentence) have been chopped! Moscow inmates competed in a Chopped-style cooking competition; winners may be able to use their certificates to get earlier parole. 
  • Mark your calendars: August 18 in the Russian Federation will from now on be the Day of Geographers. A new law designed to put the profession on the map includes improved geography classes in schools and universities and creating the title Honored Geographer of the Russian Federation. (This year, the mappers will have some competition, however, as Day of the Russian Air Fleet lands on the third Sunday in August, which this year happens to be the 18th.) 
  • Putin doesn’t have time for Game of Thrones. Now that more than 10% of the Russian population’s watch has ended, it’s good to clear up that Putin’s watch of the show never started.  

Quote of the Week

“[In Africa] there are a lot of young, unmarried men. And in China there are even more. It’s not a problem [...] Take one and leave! The world is round.”

– The head of the Russian Orthodox Church commission for family issues, recommending that Russian women who have not found suitable husbands at home can look for their soulmate on other continents. 

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