According to our news media, Russia has been radioactive since at least the Trump inauguration, if not Chernobyl. Today, a scintillating story has broken, telling of released radiation following explosion of an experimental engine using “radioisotopes and liquid propellant.” The engine is speculated to be related to Russia’s development of a hypersonic missile.
The “radioisotopes” got my attention. Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG‘s) have been around for quite some time and used to power niche items like isolated lighthouses and spacecraft. They use heat resulting from the known and predictable decay of various radioactive heavy elements to produce electricity.... [Read More]
This is the second volume in the author’s monumental projected three-volume biography of Joseph Stalin. The first volume, Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928 covers the period from Stalin’s birth through the consolidation of his sole power atop the Soviet state after the death of Lenin. The third volume, which will cover the period from the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 through the death of Stalin in 1953 has yet to be published.
As this volume begins in 1928, Stalin is securely in the supreme position of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and having over the years staffed the senior ranks of the party and the Soviet state (which the party operated like the puppet it was) with loyalists who owed their positions to him, had no serious rivals who might challenge him. (It is often claimed that Stalin was paranoid and feared a coup, but would a despot fearing for his position regularly take summer holidays, months in length, in Sochi, far from the capital?)... [Read More]
This is a stunning full-length documentary (two hours and seventeen minutes) about the Soviet prison camps (Gulag) of the Stalin era. The filmmakers follow the road through Siberia built by slave labour and visit the sites of camps, many abandoned, which produced much of the gold which funded Lend-Lease purchases of weapons in the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany (this is the claim in the film; I have not independently verified it).
The video is in Russian, with English sub-titles. Depending on how you view it, it you may have to twiddle with settings to display the sub-titles and make them legible. Click the “CC” and “Gear” buttons and fiddle around until you have something satisfactory.... [Read More]