• Old Photos: Soviet Medicine II

    Voltage and Violets for the Insane.

    Soviet ideologists once had a hard time accepting the fact that mental illness, which Communist theory blamed on capitalistic class exploitation, didn’t disappear in the new classless society. Even today, Russian psychiatry is anchored to a search for physical rather than psychic cures to mental disturbances. Practically speaking, Freud and his disciples, with their emphasis on long-range individual therapy, can have no real place in a health system devoted to fast, mass treatment. Instead, Ivan Pavlov, the Russian physiologist who pioneered the theory of the conditioned reflex, remains the accepted master, and psychiatric care depends heavily on a variety of machines and physio-therapeutic devices. Electricity is a popular treatment for everything from schizophrenia to insomnia.
    Unsurprisingly, the primary therapy is work. All but the most severely ill are given some simple task to do at their bedsides. Those less afflicted are put to work at repetitive jobs such as making shoes or artificial flowers. A patient close to recovery might get employment in a special section of an ordinary factory outside, from which he would be expected to work his way back into society.

    Life Magazine, January 23, 1970

    Read about the punitive psychiatry in the USSR.

    An old man submits to encephalography in a study of the aging process. © Time Inc. Bill Ray
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  • How old am I in American years?

    In calendar years I am 38 but just like the dog years go by much faster then the human years, I think I am much older then an average American born in 1969. To prove that, I will list a few items that I and my parents used in our everyday life that were not antique, just normal things you could find in an average household, and then we will see what age group will admit to knowing what these are:
    1. Calculating aids.

    The Slide Rule. In the movie Apollo 13 when the spacecraft was in trouble bunch of geeky-looking engineers whipped out these little secret weapons. Some people can still beat a computer with this thing, if not in speed then in physical strength. I actually learned slide rule use in school and used it for a period of time. We didn’t have calculators, I think I got my first one in the 8th grade.

    My Mom was an accountant and she used abacus at work. Some people could do miracles with this things. Try to multiply two numbers using the abacus and you will know what I mean.
    Lastly, to finish this high-tech roundup I’d like to mention trigonometric tables. In the absence of calculators to find values of trigonometric functions, squares, square roots, logarithms and other math calculations we had to page through these tables. It wasn’t hard to do but sure makes you appreciate your little scientific calculator.
    2.Reel-to-reel tape player. This is the exact model that we owned. My Dad purchased it when I
    started talking to record my first words. This player worked fine for the next 22 years and probably long after we left it to somebody. It was very heavy but I remember dragging it around town to record music from friends’ tapes and records. This is how music was downloaded in my time. Get some tape, bring your recorder to a friend’s house, wait for a couple of hours while it’s recording, lug your player back home.

    3. Color TV. In 1976 or 77 my Dad bought our first color TV. It was still a rarity. This TV was extremely heavy and had vacuum tubes inside. There was no cable, just 3 over-the-air channels and no one even knew what the remote control looked like. You could always tell that TV was on by glowing tubes inside.

    4.Drafting Board. Before the AutoCad drafters stood in front of these and actually drafted. I had a drafting class in the technical school and my uncle let me use his board for some time. For those who don’t know, drafting is hard and tedious and I always sucked at it. That was the main reason why I chose to study electrical engineering – electrical drawings can be done with template. Until you drew a gear in 3-d with a quarter cut out you don’t know what pain is.

    5. Kerosene Burner. My Grandma actually used this to cook. She lived in the rural area and when propane wasn’t delivered she fired up one of those. It was smelly but it did what it was supposed to.

    6. Transistor radio. This is the exact model we had. The writing on it said “50 years if the Great October Revolution” so it was made in 1967. I mentioned before how we (and the rest of the country) listened to Western Short Wave Stations to get real news and happenings in the world. There were even shows with banned rock-music. The strange ting was that they kept making these radios and then had to scramble radio transmissions.

    7. Our first washer.This was just a plastic tub with an electric agitator. The process was simple:heat the water in the bucket on the stove, dump it into the washer, put the clothes in, turn on. When the timer went off you had to manually empty it with the attached hose, repeat the process to rinse, then wring out the laundry and hang it outside to dry. Still, it was a miracle machine.

    So how old am I?

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  • That’s How It’s Protected, The Soviet Sacred Border, And No Evil Bastard Will Ever Get Inside!

    As the news of an American spy being arrested in Russia with an entire Maxwell Smart spy kit in his possession filled the Russian and American airwaves, I realized that sadly the CIA doesn’t read this blog. Just a few weeks ago I provided a set of instructions for the spy to survive in Russia undetected. Things like putting your feet up, sipping and enjoying cocktails, being too smart and hard-working, wigs, money and compasses will definitely get you found out. Or even a lost button from your pant pocket. Here is a song based on a true story, written in 1939 and performed by some kids.

    *very free translation mine.

    A little brown button was lying on the road,
    And no one had noticed it in tons of brown dust.
    A bunch of bare feet was stomping on that road,
    A bunch of tanned and bare feet by little button passed.

    The boys walked in a crowd all from a distant village,
    Alyosha walked behind all and raised the most dust.
    On purpose or by accident, he couldn’t tell for sure,
    He stepped on little button, and stopped in place aghast.

    “This button don’t look ours!” – cried out all the children.
    “And weird foreign letters are written very large!”
    To border patrol station they raced like wild horses
    To show little button to someone who’s in charge.

    “Please show me exactly,” – told them commander strictly
    And opened map of border he right in front of troop.
    He asked the name of village and brown dusty road
    Where little boy Alyosha felt button with his foot.

    Four days they wasted looking for man on every road,
    Four days they looked for him, forgetting any sleep
    On fifth day the had found the evil-looking stranger
    And gave him very thorough search like very very deep.

    They found button missing on enemy’s back pocket!
    A button wasn’t present on foreign baggy pants.
    And deep inside the pocket – a cartridge from revolver,
    A map of Soviet border and other secret plans.

    Patrolmen praised the children for bravery and courage
    And then the border captain shook all of their hands
    They gave the children rifle checkpoint had in storage
    And little boy Alyoshka was given drum for bands.

    That’s how it’s protected, the Soviet sacred border.
    And no evil bastard will ever get inside!
    Alyoshka kept the button, because he is a hoarder.
    A little brown button with praise and lots of pride!

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  • Letting Loos-a In Oskaloosa

    Cue the soundtrack:

    So I was driving around yesterday, getting some bugs embedded in my windshield on the rural highways of Kansas. Now is a time to do it: it’s not too hot to roll the windows down and let the smell of prairie spring fill the stuffy cabin of your car, turn the radio full-blast and hit full speed hoping that the local Barney Fife is relaxing after the church on Sunday. The sheer size of Kansas is hard to comprehend, several hours of driving is still a local trip and although it’s mostly endless farmland, there are many points of interest along the way.

    But first things first – a Lawrence strip-club now features an Ed Hardy room. Gentlemen, start your engines!

    Little further down the road there is an establishment called “Tee Pee”:

    One of the “tee pees” is marked with flood marks from various years on the nearby Kansas River.

    Turning North on Hwy 59 it’s a short drive to Oskaloosa, KS – home of the Old Jefferson Town – a collection of old buildings and structures moved to one place from all over Jefferson County.

    There is a school and a church, a lonely bandstand replica…

    …a rusty bridge…

    …and a jail where a local Otis Campbell could’ve spent a night or two.

    I had to take a second look at this work of art:


    Turns out this sculpture commemorates a Wind Wagon builder from Oskaloosa – Sam Peppard.


    This is how Sam Peppard sailed the prairie:

    The ship hove in sight about 8 o’clock in the morning with a fresh breeze from east, northeast. It was running down in a westerly direction for the fort, under full sail, across the green prairie. The guard, astonished at such a sight, reported the matter to the officer on duty, and we all turned out to view the phenomenon. Gallantly she sailed, and at a distance …not unlike a ship at sea In front is & large coach lamp to travel by night when the wind is favorable … A crank and band wheels allow it to be propelled by hand when wind and tide are against them.

    Today Sam Peppard would’ve been able to sail right to the next fence. Kansas ain’t what it used to be…
    Oskaloosa City Square is not very different from other small Kansas towns like Burlingame or Ottawa.


    People in the 19th century believed in stability so much that they didn’t hesitate to chisel the word “Bank” on the building. Bank wasn’t moving anywhere.

    They would be surprised to see a “Chunkie Dunker’s” diving pig occupying one of the windows.

    Although “lending with a heart” is still residing in the building.

    An old water tower dominates every view.

    Masons built this building in 1886.

    HWY 92 is being guarded by the local post of the American Legion (brought to you by Coors).

    Overlooking the shores of the Perry Lake , the city of Ozawkie,KS is mostly famous for its sign.

    Nearby you can grab a monster burger…

    … and get a New Kids on The Block -styled haircut from the stylist/owner Gail Dillenbeck.

    HWY 4 takes you all the way up to Valley Falls.

    Is it me or is it really the State of Texas hanging over the cowboy on the right?
    Valley Falls turned out to be a neat little town, with its own downtown…

    …where “Buy American!” turned into local “Shop Valley Falls 1st”.

    No New Kids on The Block here, Punk cuts hair in this town.

    Valley Falls has its share of historic buildings…

    …but many are no longer in use…

    …and wrenches are not clanging anymore behind the friendly window signs.

    Here is a piece of unsolicited advice to the KC Star: you want people to buy your paper? Name it “The Vindicator”. You can’t not subscribe to “The Vindicator”.

    Cows are peacefully grazing where the Battle of Hickory Point once raged.

    Nowadays there is no time for battle, Kansas Farmers are busy feeding “128 people + you”, or did “Kansas Agri Women” figure this out when we were all still skinny?

    And why fight if this is what you see out of your window every morning.

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  • Biker’s Soft Spot

    A biker shows his soft side (even if it’s his backside) with a little plush toy.

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