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Thread: In Soviet Russia where I nearly grew up maybe

  1. #1 In Soviet Russia where I nearly grew up maybe 
    Forum Professor pyoko's Avatar
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    This is not a joke thread. I just want to post things that I experienced while living on and off in Soviet Russia all that time ago. I want to do it in point format:

    In Soviet Russia, children in grade 1 were taught to use the abacus. True story.

    In Soviet Russia, most shops used the abacus to calculate your shopping cost. True story. Also most cashiers in shops had an abacus and it was expertly and quickly used to calculate the total of your groceries.

    In Soviet Russia, the price of a box of 100 matches was 1 Kopeyka (cent).

    In Soviet Russia, all prices were fixed by the government and any change to pricing was illegal.

    In Soviet Russia it was illegal to own a private business until the government introduced "cooperative businesses", meaning a group of people could own a private business. This opened the way towards capitalism in the future.

    In Soviet Russia, bread was almost always available in stores. It was not so with other items. For example you might go 1 month without sugar, but have too much salt for sale. And another month there will be no salt at all for sale but sugar would be.

    In Soviet Russia, it was not uncommon to stand in line for 6 - 8 hours to buy tomatoes.

    In Soviet Russia, they had "toilet roll ham", which was a sort of large sausage for sandwiches. The reason it was called "toilet roll ham" was because it contained toilet paper as filling. This came about illegally from the government giving a certain amount of meat to a factory and instructing them to make a certain amount of produce. The factory would then use toilet paper to mix with the meat and save a certain portion of the meat to be sold on the black market (which was thriving), therefore making a hefty profit on the side.

    In Soviet Russia under the Dry Law people used two main things to get "drunk"; one was a cheap cologne, and the other was glue sniffing. A special type of glue was bought and a drill bit dipped into it and spun. A glob of toxic glue was then wrapped around the drill bit and removed. The remaining whatever it was was sniffed of drunk.

    After the Dry Law was cancelled, people that could not afford to buy expensive alcohol to get drunk bought beer instead. They used a very toxic insecticide called "Prima" to spray two small dozes into the beer, making them more intoxicated than possible with only beer. This drink was called "two pushes" among alcoholics.

    More to come!

    P.S. I screwed up my formatting, but meh.


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    Having just watched a documentary series on US prohibition, those last few items about contaminants and poisons getting into food and drink products when governments try too hard sounds very familiar.


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    Forum Professor pyoko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Having just watched a documentary series on US prohibition, those last few items about contaminants and poisons getting into food and drink products when governments try too hard sounds very familiar.
    There were also sausages - something like franks, pre-cooked. My mother was an expert in identifying which ones were safe to eat. To me they looked the same. Also when you got rice, you had to go through it with a fine comb because the black ones sometimes contained ergot.
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    Forum Professor pyoko's Avatar
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    In Soviet Russia, there was a standard bill for electricity, heating, water, hot and cold, and gas. You could use as much as you wanted.

    In Soviet Russia, medical care was universal and free for all.

    In Soviet Russia, University education was not only free, you got a stipend. And the better your marks, the more you got paid.

    In Soviet Russia, communication between various militia - police - was so bad it took a serial killer named Andrei Chikatilo to get people to totally re-vamp the Russian policing system. Also, I had the misfortune to meet Andrei in a forest one day.

    In Soviet Russia, the TV showed presidents being led around "model shops" where they pointed at things we never saw like pineapples and asking "This is on sale?" and getting the reply "Yes, Mr President, of course". The shops were mostly empty.

    In Soviet Russia, it was illegal to own or use any radio communication device whatsoever without proper government license, meaning you would have to be working for the government in the first place. I had a cheap toy walkie talkie and the police picked it up and triangulated it and came looking en mass for me and my brother. They also said stuff on that frequency asking us to identify us. We never did.

    In Soviet Russian schools, you were first an October Boy, wearing a star badge with a baby Lenin on it, then followed by Pioneer, wearing a red scarf, followed finally by Comsomol, wearing a Comsomol badge. If you did not earn this last badge you actually had little chance of getting into University. The teachers often threatened kids by stripping them of the scarf or the badge. I got stripped of the scarf several times. Of course that changed, luckily.

    In Soviet Russia, a citizen was not allowed to leave the country unless on official government business. If you did leave, then you would be checked on by KGB officers at your overseas residence to make sure you didn't stray. It was common practice to keep one child hostage in the USSR so that the parents do not migrate.

    If you did work overseas, part of your pay had to go back to the Soviet government.

    More to come! And I take questions!
    Last edited by pyoko; November 14th, 2012 at 07:19 PM.
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    In Soviet Russia, there was a standard bill for electricity, heating, water, hot and cold, and gas. You could use as much as you wanted.
    In Soviet Russia, medical care was universal and free for all.
    Hah! That reminds me of long ago. A whole lot of Poles moved to Australia during all the Solidarity fuss - they wanted "freedom".

    Whoops. Freedom didn't seem so marvellously 'free' when they discovered they had to pay for childcare, schoolbooks, school buses, power, gas, water and the like out of their not very wonderful wages.
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    Forum Professor pyoko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    In Soviet Russia, there was a standard bill for electricity, heating, water, hot and cold, and gas. You could use as much as you wanted.
    In Soviet Russia, medical care was universal and free for all.
    Hah! That reminds me of long ago. A whole lot of Poles moved to Australia during all the Solidarity fuss - they wanted "freedom".

    Whoops. Freedom didn't seem so marvellously 'free' when they discovered they had to pay for childcare, schoolbooks, school buses, power, gas, water and the like out of their not very wonderful wages.
    I know a lot of immigrants here and a lot of them keep on whining about "the good old Soviet days". I give them this face:
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    In Soviet Russia, if you wanted to buy a car you usually had to order it from the factory, not shop around for one.

    In Soviet Russia, they had the best optics in the world, available to anyone. Not anymore.

    In Soviet Russia, there was rusty, abandoned, expensive industrial technology everywhere. These were results of money-skimming tactics of the privileged. Seems in Communism, all people are equal. Only some people are more equal than others.

    In Soviet Russia, "wandering" was/ is a crime. One cannot not have a place of residence and live off the land.

    In Soviet Russia, "Vodka" means "Little Water". Hence they drink it like water.
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    I find your point format description of the way things were in Russia to be very interesting, pyoko. People living in the western world today have no concept of the scarcity of goods save when a natural calamity has struck and there is a run on the shops. For empty shelves to be the norm is not fathomable to most. Those who survived the depression era of the 1930's would have some concept because they lived through a time of food rationing. My mother tells me stories that her brothers got in trouble for raiding the pantry because food was scarce and had to be rationed. They were fortunate to have a vegetable garden and fruit trees and they shared with their neighbors.

    What are your thoughts on the direction and leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev's policies?

    Mikhail Gorbachev Interview - Esquire
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    Forum Professor pyoko's Avatar
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    scheherazade - Gorbachev was an inevitability in a line of transitional leaders. He led the socialist party towards where it needed to go and when Yeltsin asked him directly to step down, he did as asked. He is, I believe, a leader of some green environmentalist group now. The leader before Gorbachev was a zombie. He was an alcoholic, had several artificial organs, and not half a brain. He did things like read the same speech twice in a row and blamed the people that gave him the papers to read. He paid psychics to channel "life energy" into himself to extend his life. He allowed the military to run the country in the paranoid way they did. That started to change with Gorbachev.
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    I did a quick search on Gorbachev and his activities after his time as the leader of Russia and I ask your forebearance for this post, as it is not my intent to derail your thread or to detract from your most interesting observations.

    Politics was below my radar at the time that Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, yet he managed to catch my attention to some degree and I remember that the term 'glasnost' became a household word and there was considerable excitement around the changes transpiring in Russia and on the international stage. I did not realize that he was one of three sponsors of the 'Earth Charter' whose principles are summarized below:
    Preamble
    We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.[4]




    Principles The four pillars and sixteen principles of the Earth Charter are:[4]
    I. Respect and Care for the Community of Life
    1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.
    2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love.
    3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable and peaceful.
    4. Secure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and future generations.
    II. Ecological Integrity
    5. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.
    6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.
    7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption and reproduction that safeguard Earth's regenerative capacities, human rights and community well-being.
    8. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired.
    III. Social and Economic Justice
    9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social and environmental imperative.
    10. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner.
    11. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care and economic opportunity.
    12. Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.
    IV. Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace

    13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision-making, and access to justice.
    14. Integrate into formal education and lifelong learning the knowledge, values and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.
    15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.
    16. Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence and peace.
    I had no idea that this man's roots ran this deep.

    Thank you for the use of your thread and for bringing awareness of the stark contrast between life in Russia and that of many other nations. Truly, none of us may comprehend the challenges of another unless we have walked a mile in their shoes.
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  12. #11  
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    Dear Pyoko, I'm new to this forum and just happened into it looking for information on Soviet Russia, particularly during the late 60s early 70s. My interest is both for my own knowledge and also for a book I am writing. It is a fiction book set in Soviet Russia in 1968-1969. The limitations of what I have been able to find isn't much but extends to some areas that are particularly important to my story. Any help with answering my questions would be appreciated. Some of the more specific questions are: Could a used car be purchased and/or transferred? How expensive was gasoline? Were gas stations readily accessible near major cities as well as on highways out towards the Urals? How often was personal identification asked for? In terms of daily activities such as work, transportation, etc. Thank you again for your time and I'm sure I will probably have more questions as the thoughts come up.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Sounds pretty bad. Im guessing it wasnt a walk in the park in Tsarist Russia either.

    How do you see the role of
    money (corruption, conflicts of interets, crime),
    hierarchy (abuse of position, nepotism/favoritism, bureaucracy)
    and control of information (censorship, propaganda, state secrets, ass-protecting, etc)
    in that society?
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