In Russia, Television Watches You!

Perhaps you thought that you could escape from reality television, bad sitcoms and crime procedurals, or even news that seems to strongly echo the views of a particular political party. Well, maybe you can, but Russia is certainly not the place you’ll escape to:

Television over the last 10 years has mirrored the country’s economic recovery. State-controlled news deliberately spread Mr. Putin’s message of stability and prosperity at any cost. Entertainment subliminally echoed it.

The bumblers, charlatans, strivers and jesters who populate the television landscape have been reassuring evidence, to a nation still fighting the ghosts of Communism and humiliation, that Russians live in a modern, and normal, country.

Apparently, bad television is a signifier of modernity, normalcy, and national solidarity.

President Putin is no small part of this odd evolution; state-controlled media spreads his good word throughout the land, and his television appearances reassure the public that they’re dealing with a straight-shooting, no bullshit kind of president. I don’t know about you, but that sounds completely foreign to me: a president appearing on television to convince us that he’s just the kind of guy we’d want to have a beer with? Yeah, right!

But dissent is in the air, as some emboldened shows are openly criticizing some of Mr. Putin’s policies. Naturally, his response is to send messages to the small towns of Russia that his opposition is the cultural elite, who live in cities and eat foie gras and read poetry for fun. As if painting your opposition as an out of touch elitist would work!

Regardless, Russian TV, which did not have the simmering period that American television had, seems to have sprung from the pot without the coherence of ingredients that a long period of trial and error seems to bring to television; thus, odd game shows, bad reality shows, and lame comedies are the result.

Wait, that sounds exactly like American television. Nevermind.

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Russian Expedition Reaches Vast Underground Lake; Unleashes Unspeakable Horrors from Beyond the Stars

Drilling some 12,000 feet beneath the Earth’s surface, a Russian expedition has reached a vast freshwater lake roughly the size of Lake Ontario. Confirmation that the drill had reached the lake came on Sunday, and the Russian team’s predictions that pressurized lakewater would rush forward and freeze, plugging the bore hole and preserving the pristine lake, were accurate. Valery Lukin, director of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, compared this achievement to other great moments in science history:

“For me, the discovery of this lake is comparable with the first flight into space,” he told the Interfax News Agency. “By technological complexity, by importance, by uniqueness.”

Lake Vostok (as it has been dubbed) is one of many subglacial lakes that have been sealed off for millions of years; pressure and warmth from the Earth below keep the lakes liquid. What was not know was the size of this particular lake, and what intrigued scientists was the possibility the lake might contain microbes, or perhaps ancient beings from the beyond the stars who fled their homeworlds to escape the threat of an unstoppable horror. Russian scientists declined to predict whether this heralded the coming of a prophesied Elder God. Instead, they concentrated on completing the project before the Antarctic summer ended; temperatures during the winter make it near impossible to conduct scientific work.

Fortunately, the lakewater filled the bore hole as expected, thus preserving the pristine sample for further study. Scientists noted that preservation of the sample is extremely important, as the conditions of this subglacial lake are similar to conditions found on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

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