May 02, 2019

The Robots are Having a Whale of a Time


The Robots are Having a Whale of a Time
The biggest vobla in Russia. КаспНИРХ

Throwback Thursday

Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great / Wikimedia Commons

Happy birthday, Catherine the Great! Russian Life reviewed a translation of her letters in January 2019. Read some of those letters with a Russian Life digital subscription.

Holy Mackerel, Roach, and Whales!

1. Meet the fish that’s too big to fry. Last week, Astrakhan fishers caught the biggest vobla in Russia. Vobla, or Caspian roach, is a type of fish that Russians like to salt-dry and eat with beer. Usually they range from 17 to 26 centimeters long (that’s 6 to 8 inches for us Americans), but this one was 35 centimeters long (over 1 foot) and weighed 1.055 kg (over 2 pounds). That’s one big fish dinner, you may think, but vobly this big are not to be eaten, but admired and appreciated. According to tradition, the fishers kissed the fish before letting it go, sending along a request for it to bring back even more big fish.

2. Return of the robots. President Putin and his entourage toured a military academy, where the cadets brought out robots and had them do push-ups and headstands. Three cheers for technology!… Right? Well, it turns out that the robots were not actually built by the cadets, but rather assembled from a kit sold by a South Korean company. This obviously doesn’t look good for the cadets. But at least athletes can take heart: they’re not about to be out-trained by robots anytime soon.

Putin watching robots
Robot gymnastics. / Сегодня

3. White whale? More like Navy whale. Norwegian fishermen noticed a beluga whale with an unusual harness snooping around their boats. They called in the authorities, who discovered that on the harness was written “Equipment of St. Petersburg.” Could the whale be a Russian spy? A Russian war museum director claims the whole story is a Western provocation, but Norwegian marine experts are pretty sure something fishy was going on. As for us, we’d like to make a pitch to the 007 franchise managers: Make the next Bond villain a whale.

All things considered, though, it’s a cute whale. / Dagbladet

Blog Spotlight

A sleeping kitty, a walking nose, and loudspeakers: Check out Russia’s 13 most unusual monuments.

In Odder News

  • The RuNet is living proof that, if you try hard enough, literally anything — including a picture of a tick — can be a meme.
And the RuNet said, Let there be memes: and there were memes. / @valera_whatever

Quote of the Week

“Pay your, pay your debts. Don’t wait! When the legal authorities, GIBDD [General Administration for Traffic Safety], ZhKKh [Housing and Communal Services] officials, creditors, and tax collectors come: pay!”

— A parody of Ukrainian pop song “Плакала”, created by Irkutsk officials to educate citizens with a sense of humor about debts

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.

Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
Russia Rules

Russia Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

802-223-4955