Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 23:49:36
23 September 2018


  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Dog Days of Summer and the Crazy Things They Bring

by Irina Bukharin
Samara’s Scarlet Letter

1. It’s a different kind of pyramid scheme! The utility company in Samara recently started planting three-ton concrete pyramids in front of debtors’ houses. The pyramids, which bear slogans such as “Here lives a debtor!,” have been quite successful in compelling the outed debtors into paying off their debts in order to remove the pyramid and at least some of the shame. Well, one such debtor recently decided to pay a freight truck to cart away the pyramid, rather than pay off the debts. As with all pyramid schemes, this could only last so long: he is now charged with felony theft and could even receive time in jail.

debtors' pyramid

Photo: RKS-Samara

2. There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the work of scientists in Tomsk, or at least there should be. These scientists are building robotic bees, which are expected to take flight in 2019. These bees will do what bees do best, pollinate the fields around them. They don’t come cheap, as the first 100 mechanical bees are expected to cost 100 million rubles ($1,488,000). The cost may well be worth it, though, given the widespread decline of bees. For that reason, let’s hope the scientists don’t bumble around too much and can help give Tomsk something to bee proud of.

3. A new type of animal has been seen in Moscow’s Zaryadye Park: Shakespeare’s famed “beast with two backs.” To put it plainly, people are having sex in the park, and the city government (for the most part) is none too happy about it. The park’s security cameras have captured an apparent uptick in couples doing the deed, potentially thanks to warm summer nights. While the city’s chief architect lauds the fact that people feel free in the city, other officials have been less enthusiastic, comparing the offenders to “feral animals” and suggesting various punishments. All this has sparked, of course, a plethora of jokery online, with many expressing a renewed interest in spending more time outside.

In Odder News:

wooly mammoth hat

Photo: The Siberian Times

  • Talk about an old hat: one man made the world’s only wooly mammoth hair hat out of hair that is tens of thousands of years old

  • A dangerous book indeed: a boy made an accidental illegal crossing from Abkhazia to Russia while trying to find a nice place to read his book, Catcher in the Rye

  • I’ll drink to that! Russians celebrate a birthday on the peak of Mont Blanc with champagne, which is much more dangerous than it sounds

Quote of the Week:

“The city gives people the opportunity to feel free, safe, and comfortable”

Sergei Kuznetsov, Moscow’s chief architect, on what people having sex in the park indicates about the city

Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week

Toxic Waste, Putin Farms, & Crazy Seals
Toxic Waste, Putin Farms, & Crazy Seals

Tractors for Putin, toxic waste for Kaliningrad, and Reagan and Gorbachev for their modern-day counterparts. Also sweet wine, state secrets, and salt.

Risqué Ballet and Putin's Grannies
Risqué Ballet and Putin's Grannies

The scandal around the Bolshoi's latest ballet, remembering an Internet icon, and pro-Putin pensioners, with a dash of PhotoShop of daredevilry. 

 

 

Royal(ish) Weddings and Toys for the Opposition
Royal(ish) Weddings and Toys for the Opposition

Getting flak for getting hitched, how fidget spinners foster political dissidence, and a new set of wheels around Russia. Plus dandy pigeons and the best totalitarian tourism. 

Parties with Putin and the Ruins of Literature
Parties with Putin and the Ruins of Literature

President Putin visits human rights activists and curious kids, and a famous author falls to pieces. Plus Ivan the Terrible, a terrible auction purchase, and 10 fantastic bridges. 

Paratroopers, Pig Manure, & Plant Killers
Paratroopers, Pig Manure, & Plant Killers

Pranksters solve energy security with pig manure, paratroopers get rowdy, and presidential grants yield surprise winners. Plus, Russia's deadliest plants and getting stuck in an elevator. 

Eating, Drinking, and Putin's New Look
Eating, Drinking, and Putin's New Look

Beachgoers bathe in potable sludge, Russians weigh in on replacements for sanctioned food, and the Kremlin revamps funerals. Plus, Putin goes fishing. 

Zombies, a Swampy Lake, and a New Shirtless Challenge
Zombies, a Swampy Lake, and a New Shirtless Challenge

A not-quite lake makes a splash, zombies on public transit, and problems memorializing history's tragedies. But on the bright side, shirtless men and hippos.

Rap battles, Moscow's move, and mixing dating and politics
Rap battles, Moscow's move, and mixing dating and politics

Elections are the new dinner and a movie. Plus, Moscow's heading east, rap battles get a bad rap, and pickles and melons galore.