Uncommon New Year’s Eve Movies

A collection of pictures with the spirit of the New Year and Christmas that you might have missed

Reading time 6 minutes

We have always watched the same New Year’s films every year. However, sometimes it is necessary to put DVCs of “Irony of Fate” and “Home Alone” on the shelf and find something new. Here is a list of films in the New Year’s Eve and Christmas mood, which you might not notice when scrolling through the thematic collections.

1. “Trapped in Paradise”, 1994. Director: George Gallo
A scene from the film "Trapped in Paradise"
A scene from the film “Trapped in Paradise”

Bill Firpo arrives in the provincial town of Paradise on Christmas Eve. He’s an honest restaurant manager, but the brothers whom Bill picks up from prison on Christmas Eve morning aren’t. Convicts Dave and Alvin Firpo tricks Bill into robbing a bank. In the absence of an alarm and the ever-sleeping guard doing their job the crime can be committed successfully. But a problem immediately arises: how to leave a small town with a huge amount of money, if a snowstorm is raging on the street, and the police are already seeking after robbers?

2. “Klaus”, 2019. Director: Sergio Pablos
A scene from the film "Klaus"
A scene from the film “Klaus”

To educate a lazy and spoiled son, the owner of the postal empire sends him to Smirensburg, located in the far north. Jesper is instructed to set up a postal service in the city and process at least 6,000 letters a year to prove his independence to his father and return home. However, the city does not accept the new postman very cordially, and it seems that no one has heard of sending letters there. But everything changes when Jesper meets a mysterious lone lumberjack named Klaus. Who, as it turns out, keeps a lot of old toys at home and is willing to handing them out to the bored children of Smeerensburg.

3. “The Apartment”, 1960. Director: Billy Wilder
A scene from the film "The Apartment"
A scene from the film “The Apartment”

Baxter is a humble employee of an insurance company. To speed up his career progression, he lends the keys of his apartment to colleagues and even his boss to retire with their mistresses. Baxter’s plan works until he meets Fran, his boss’s secret lover. A new feeling is born between the characters, and Christmas night puts everything in its place.

4. A Very Murray Christmas, 2015. Director: Sofia Coppola
A scene from the film "A Very Murray Christmas"
A scene from the film “A Very Murray Christmas”

Bill Murray is planning a brilliant TV show for Christmas, with celebrity guests and a packed program. But the plans are thwarted by an unexpected snowstorm which led to the absence of the eminent guests. However, in the snow-covered New York hotel where the show is scheduled and where Bill is so unsuccessfully stuck, there are a lot of random people. And Bill still manages to throw a party, just for a different audience and with new entertainment.

5. “8 Women”, 2001. Director: Francois Ozon

A scene from the film "8 Women"
A scene from the film “8 Women”

The family gathers at an estate in the French outback to celebrate Christmas. But upon arrival, the guests find the owner of the house murdered in his bedroom. 8 women, each of whom is somehow connected with a dead man, begin their investigation. At the same time, they are all under suspicion, because each had the motive to commit a brutal murder. The darkest family secrets begin to unfold in the house, and the identity of the killer becomes the main Christmas entertainment.




From a black-and-white series to the Netflix’s hit

How has the image of Wednesday Addams changed over time?

Reading time 9 minutes

Wednesday premiered on Netflix on October 23, 2022. In the first week, he broke the English-language viewing hours record. Took away the championship from Stranger Things (season 4), Wednesday became the absolute leader of the platform. Many viewers and critics noted that Jenna Ortega (main role) played a key role in such a bright start. Her Wednesday Addams turned out to be a deep and atmospheric character, the personification of a mixture between canonical and modern image.

But what is this “canonical image”? And how much has it changed since the first appearance of the Gothic Addams family? Let’s figure it out.

First appearance


Fragment of the original comic by Charles Addams
Fragment of the original comic by Charles Addams

The Addams are a fictional family conceived and drawn in 1938 by American artist Charles Addams for The New Yorker magazine, which is still popular to this day. Addams’s idea was to portray a “perfect” American family through the lens of satire and black humor, which resonated with the magazine’s readers. Wednesday, who is the daughter of Morticia and Gomez Addams, is obsessed with causing pain to others and surprisingly serious for her age.

In the original version of Charles Addams, Wednesday has not acquire her pigtails for a modern audience, and her famous school dress is completely pink. However, such an atypically “bright” image for a member of the Addams family began to crumble very quickly. The catalyst was the emergence of a television series.

First film adaptation: “The Addams Family”
Wednesday in the series "The Addams Family" 60s
Wednesday in the series “The Addams Family” 60s

The comic about Addams family was first adapted for television in 1964, then began airing regularly on ABC. Here Wednesday already acquired characteristic and recognizable features – two pigtails in the middle, a strict black school dress, and a heavy look from underneath. We heard the name “Wednesday” for the first time – Charles Addams picked up the name of his little heroine only when he received an offer to make a family TV show. As it turned out, the name was derived from an old English nursery rhyme “Monday’s Child”:

Monday’s child is fair of face

Tuesday’s child is full of grace

Wednesday’s child is full of woe

Thursday’s child has far to go

Friday’s child is loving and giving

Saturday’s child works hard for his living

And the child that is born on the Sabbath day

Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Since grief and misfortune are exactly what pleases the artsy American family, it was decided to name the girl Wednesday.

Cultural Phenomenon: The 1991 Addams Family Movie
Wednesday performed by Christina Ricci
Wednesday performed by Christina Ricci

The film “The Addams Family”, which released in 1991, gave the world the most famous image of Wednesday Addams performed by Christina Ricci. It’s an image about the girl look from a strange family, making two black pigtails and a black school dress with a high white collar one of the most popular Halloween costumes of the 90s. In the New Yorker comic and the 1960s sitcom, although Tuesday dressed in dark colors and had strange and characteristic Addams hobbies, she was essentially an adorable child, the standard image of a little girl in a family television series. Whereas 1991’s Wednesday is a heroine with a high intellect followed by a serious and sometimes stern demeanor, and all lines are delivered in a monotonous voice with a deadpan expression on her face. In the film, the character of Wednesday was revealed the most, she ceased to be “one of the two children” of the Addams couple and became an independent and bright character – with a memorable gloominess and cruelty.

Christina Ricci’s performance did not change much but finalized the canonical image of Wednesday Addams. Subsequently, the authors of all subsequent adaptations began to rely on it. This is because Wednesday of 1991 has become not just a minor character, but the main character in the eyes of the audience. Her feminist statements and honesty added depth to the heroine, and the external image became more in line with modern cinema than the version of the girl from the 60s.

Conquest of the world of animation
The image of Wednesday from the cartoon
The image of Wednesday from the cartoon

In 2019, the feature-length cartoon The Addams Family was released on the big screens. The animation exaggerated the image of Wednesday, adding to her pale, the ability to move silently (thus frightening unprepared characters), and the lack of a smile throughout the cartoon. Wednesday was voiced by American actress Chloe Grace Moretz, who did not look like her heroine in appearance, but talentedly conveyed the girl’s lack of emotions and gloominess verbally.

Wednesday from the animated film is naturally based on the image that the audience loves, embodied by Christina Ricci, so there were no significant changes in it.

The hit of autumn-winter 2022: A series on Netflix
Wednesday performed by Jenna Ortega
Wednesday performed by Jenna Ortega

The final stage of character development to date is Wednesday Addams, played by Jenna Ortega, in the Netflix series. What immediately catches your eye is the appearance of bangs on the heroine. In an interview, Jenna admitted that she and the director of the project, Tim Burton, wanted to add something new to the famous image that could distinguish it from previous versions. The outfits for Wednesday have also changed. The classic school uniform was replaced by a black zip-hoodie, striped long sleeves, and rough black platform boots. But most of all, the attention of the audience was attracted by the dress that Wednesday wears to the school prom – yes, everything is just as frilly but elegant and not typical of previous generations of Wednesday.

Dress Wednesday in one of the episodes of the series
Dress Wednesday in one of the episodes of the series

In addition, the series also changes the age of the heroine. In the Netflix hit, she becomes a teenager, which, although done rather develop the plot, nevertheless gives a look at the heroine from a new, previously unknown side.

One thing is for sure – a heavy look and love for black remain the eternal companions of the heroine. For more than 80 years, Wednesday has changed significantly on the outside, but inside she always remains a gloomy and mysterious girl, as Charles Addams intended.




(Not) to act against orders

Milgram's experiment on obedience to authority

Reading time 11 minutes

Why does a person, who causes suffering to others, only listens to orders from above? Perhaps it is due to the existence of an authority that cannot be resisted. Or is the whole point that a person is a sadist and he enjoys physical violence toward people? These questions were answered by Stanley Milgram, an American social psychologist who conducted a series of experiments on submission to authority.

Stanley Milgram was born in 1933 in the Bronx to a Jewish immigrant family. After World War II, his parents adopted relatives who had survived German concentration camps. Perhaps this fact explains why Milgram decided to conduct an obedience experiment in Germany. The scientist wanted to understand: “Why did German citizens participate in the extermination of people in concentration camps? Don’t they realize how cruel and heartless that is?” Milgram suggests that, for ideological or political reasons, Germans tend to be more submissive. However, before coming to Germany in 1963, Milgram decided to experiment in the United States. The results of the study show that there is no need to go far: submission to the authorities is not a characteristic of Germans, but of human consciousness in general.

Stanley Milgram. Personal archive of a scientist
Stanley Milgram. Personal archive of a scientist
Preparation and description of the experiment

Initially, the experiment took place in New Haven on the territory of Yale University. Milgram and his team sent the ads to city dwellers aged 20 to 50 working in a variety of occupations, from factory workers to hairdressers. To participate in the test, respondents were promised to pay $4 and 50 cents for the move. However, the subjects were not told the whole truth about the experiment: they thought they would help investigate how pain affects memory. The experiment involved the experimenter, the subject, and an actor acting as the second subject. One of the experiment participants (“student”) had to memorize word pairs from a long list until he memorized all the pairs, and the other (“teacher”) checked from scratch first and punish him for each mistake with a stronger electric shock. The two subjects drew a “vote”, and everything was arranged in such a way that only the actor was the student, and the actual subject was the teacher.

The scarecrow’s head was been fastened to the chair, and the teacher sitting by the generator has 30 switches, each switch was responsible for discharge from 15 to 450 volts and was signed: “Fighting blow”, “Very strong blow”, “Danger: hard to beat”, etc.

Then the experiment began: the teacher read the words aloud and the students had to give the correct answer, if it was wrong, the teacher increased the voltage each time. It’s important to note that the actor was just pretending to be hit. At the same time, when the subject hesitated and did not want to discharge strongly, the experimenter asked to continue using 4 phrases:

  • “Please continue/Please go on”;
  • “Experiment requires that you continue”;
  • “You must continue”;
  • “You have no other choice, you must go on”.
Electric shock generator used in the experiment
Electric shock generator used in the experiment

The experiment ended if the subject refused to obey and left, or if he reached 450 volts and gave the student this current shock three times. After the experiment, the subjects were interviewed.

In the classical variation of the experiment, the student was in a room isolated from the teacher. The subject could not hear the victim, only when the current discharge was equal to 300 volts, the actor began defiantly knocking on the wall, and then showed no signs of life: he did not complete the tasks, and did not respond.

Experiment results

Before the exam, Milgram interviewed undergraduate and graduate students, as well as 39 professors and psychiatrists, who tried to predict how many subjects would refuse the experiment, and how many would complete the experiment. All respondents agreed that 20% of the “teachers” would stop at 225 volts and only one person in a thousand would turn on all the switches.

However, the results differ from the forecasts. In the classic variation of the experiment, 26 subjects out of 40 (65%) reached the end of the experiment, and five people (12.5%) stopped at 300 volts when the victim began to protest by hitting the wall. Four subjects (10%) stopped at a voltage of 315 volts, two (5%) – at 330, and one people each – at the next three levels (345, 360, and 375 volts).

The subject switches the switches on the generator
The subject switches the switches on the generator
Why did people obey?

Milgram, in his book “Submission to authority. A Scientific View of Power and Morality”, explained this behavior of the subjects.

1. Obedience is human nature

Milgram said, “We are born with the potential to obey.” In the course of evolution, behavior that did not lead to survival disappeared. Behavior, including hierarchy, authority, and a special social structure, does not disappear, but on the contrary, develops. It is for this reason that submission is a natural process, especially for someone born into society. The moment an individual begins to obey authority, he acts as part of the general structure – his conscience recedes into the background.

2. Not my responsibility

People who obey authority are in the so-called agent state and act according to the mind of another person. For this reason, they do not feel responsible for their actions. To feel responsible, you need to understand that your “I” is behind all actions, while the subject thinks: “I have nothing to do with it.” This is especially noticeable in one of the variations of the exam, where the subject himself did not turn on the switches, but only noted the student’s mistakes: more people obeyed the authority since they did not feel that they were hurting the victim with their own hands.

The “teachers” shifted the responsibility to the experimenter, believing that he knew what was right. In situations where the subject had doubts, and the experimenter emphasized that he took full responsibility, the internal tension disappeared and the subject went through the experiment to the end. There were cases when people blamed the victim, called her stupid, and were unable to remember a few words. “He was so stupid and stubborn that rightly so,” said one of the subjects who obeyed. People reassured themselves that they did not feel sorry for such an unworthy person who could not do elementary things.

3. Disobedience causes fear

When the subject agrees to participate in the experiment, he sincerely wants to help scientists. The “teacher” wants to follow all the instructions, show himself on the good side, and be polite. It seems to the subject that by refusing the experiment, he will let the experimenter down, and also destroy his image as an authority – this is arrogant and rude. Insubordination in this context is psychologically worse than submission. After all, refusal will lead to social disapproval, of anomie. For this reason, in most cases, the subjects continued the experiment.

The victim is strapped into the electric chair.
The victim is strapped into the electric chair.

4. Image of Authority

Subordination is possible only if there is the real authority. An ordinary person does not have such power. In one variation of the experiment, the victim and the experimenter switched places. Now they shocked the scientist, and the order was given by an ordinary person. All subjects stopped the experiment when the experimenter began to complain of pain. Thus, an authority must have a certain attribute, knowledge, status, and place in the social structure to be listened to. In the study, the authority was the experimenter – a scientist, an educated person who knows more than the subject. The “teachers” trusted the scientist and completely relied on his opinion.

The Milgram experiment does not seek to denigrate people, to present them as cruel and unmerciful. All subjects were nervous, and doubtful, but did not dare to disobey the authority. They tried with all their might to avoid the victim, not to look at her, denied their responsibility, and talked with the experimenter that it was inhumane to continue the experiment, but did not refuse to participate.

Milgram’s research showed an important thing: when people enter the social structure, their individuality fades into the background and they forget about humanity. This is the weakness of our nature. Nevertheless, it can be overcome, because there were people who refused to obey. Cicero said: “The power of nature is great,” but man is stronger.

The article is based on Stanley Milgram’s book Submission to Authority: A Scientific Perspective on Power and Morality.

233 degrees Celsius: what literature could not be read in the USSR?

Big soviet brother is watching you

Reading time 7 minutes

«It was impossible to find these two volumes on sale, only in libraries and without taking out» – say Kirill Sorvin, HSE sociology professor, about one book which he was looking for when he was a student in USSR. Some literature was banned in USSR due to official ideology. Very few people at the time knew about it. Nevertheless, such books were read and even distributed with Samizdat that was illegal in the country. However, the majority of citizens found out about banned literature only after the collapse of the USSR.

Contradictions of Early and Late Marx

For the first time it became possible to buy «Economic-philosophical manuscripts, 1844» in the USSR only in 1983.
For the first time it became possible to buy «Economic-philosophical manuscripts, 1844» in the USSR only in 1983.

«The work is called Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts 1844, it was the 42nd volume of the Works of K. Marx and F. Engels collection or a separate volume From Early Works. This work was not presented in any other form. Western Marxists discovered in this book another Marx’s philosophy, they called it «Marx-humanist». There was a discussion about the contradiction of «Early and Late Marx», which, of course, was denied in our official philosophy». Accordingly, this work was not among the «canonical» books like «The Capital» which was close to Russian vision of communism.

As a student, Kirill Sorvin tried to exchange a two-volume book of the Strugatsky brothers, which was highly valued among the youth of that time, for «Economic and philosophical manuscripts», but such a book anybody from his classmates did not have.

Second volume of ‘Robinson Crusoe’

The Novel of English writer Daniel Defoe started publishing in Russian Empire in 1762. Only the first part of the series entered the treasury of world literature, which spawned a fashion for pseudo-documentary fiction. Nevertheless, people knew about existing of the sequel and even the book was popular among Europe readers. However, in Russian Empire the second volume was not published and in USSR from 1935 to 1992 it was banned.

In 1971, the publishing house «Pravda» published a retelling of the work with a limited edition.
In 1971, the publishing house «Pravda» published a retelling of the work with a limited edition.

Only In 1971, the publishing house «Pravda» published a retelling of the work with a limited edition. The main reason for this was that Robinson during his Siberian trip faced a lot of corruption and said that Moskovia is «barbaric, powerless and poorly managed mob of slaves».

«In the second part Robinson, among other things, travels in Russia, gives her not all the appropriate characteristics. Why did publishers have to take the responsibility to comment on «such» past of people?» – Kirill Sorvin explains.

George Orwell and Yevgeny Zamyatin

Yevgeny Zamyatin is considered a pioneer in the genre of anti-utopia. The novel «We» became the cause of serious criticism of the writer, and since 1929 his books have stopped at all publishing in the USSR. Zamyatin describes a society of rigid totalitarian control over the individual. Actually «We» is a critic of the Soviet system, with which the genre of anti-utopia began to flourish. Although, for example, Aldous Huxley, one of the first writers in this direction, categorically denied acquaintance with the work of the Russian writer.

Illustration to the novel E. Zamyatin «We»
Illustration to the novel E. Zamyatin «We»

The satirical story «Animal Farm, 1945» by George Orwell depicts the transition of the animal society from their freedom to the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon. According to playwright Arkady Bartov, «Animal Farm» is an allegory of the 1917 revolution and subsequent events in the USSR. Orwell wanted to portray how easily totalitarian propaganda could control people’s opinions and at the same time to condemn «Stalin’s distortion of socialist ideals». Last but not least fact about this book is that boar Old Major is an allegory of Karl Marx. And how you find out from the first paragraph: Soviet authorities couldn’t stand when somebody represented the idol of their philosophy in «wrong way».

The Russian aphorism «All are equal, but some are more equal» belongs to George Orwell. The complete version in the book «Animal farm» sounds like this: «All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal».
The Russian aphorism «All are equal, but some are more equal» belongs to George Orwell. The complete version in the book «Animal farm» sounds like this: «All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal».

Subsequently, most of the books in this genre, including the Soviet ones, were banned in the USSR. Anti-utopias will appear in Soviet society only with the introduction of a policy of publicity near the end of the 1980s. For example, George Orwell’s most popular novel «1984» was declared anti-Soviet immediately after its release in 1949 and remained banned until 1988. The policy of publicity is a controversial process in the history of the USSR. Some believe that it has undermined the people’s belief in the system, while others thank Gorbachev for it. But the fact is that these books can now be read legally – both online and offline.

Snowden method: how to be invisible on the Internet

Complex instructions in simple words

Reading time 8 minutes

In June 2013, Edward Snowden shared classified information with The Washington Post and The Guardian. It said that the American secret services were doing total surveillance on people all over the world. «It is becoming more and more difficult to be anonymous» – hacker group Cicada 3301 declared this in 2012. But what if a person needs to hide, and he is not a computer geek? Read the step-by-step instructions in this article.

Anonymity and pseudonymity

Before diving into the technical part of the task, it is necessary to understand the purpose of hiding. Anonymity implies a single statement about any information, as in the case of Snowden: someone has told the world something and has «dissolved». To remain anonymous is simple: enough not to make mistakes, which will be listed below. Pseudonymity means creation of alter ego, to which the person plans to return a long period of time. «To keep a virtual» – this was called a pseudonymous activity – much more difficult, because the human factor every day increases the risks that the user will make a mistake somewhere.

Why are we not anonymous on the Internet

The digital footprint might be active and passive. Active one is a message or publication, for example, on a social network. A passive digital trace is created when information about the user is collected without his knowledge, for instance, during a visit to the site. The IP-address is a unique numerical identifier of a device in a computer network. It can be used to get approximate information about your location (country, city, zip code, ISP), restrict access to specific sites or servers, and run a DDoS attack. What should be done to completely anonymize activities on the Internet?

Invisibility Cloak

One of the most reliable ways is Whonix, which was used by Edward Snowden. Technically, a new operating system – Linux – appears on the computer, which exists separately from the main one and runs Whonix. Its system consists of two virtual machines connected via an isolated network. The first, Whonix-Gateway, runs exclusively through Tor and acts as a gateway or an artificial server. The second, Whonix-Workstation, is a workstation that connects to the Internet. Thus, all network connections are possible only through Tor: neither malware nor super-user rights can cause IP address and DNS leaks.


  1. First you need to download VirtualBox and unpack the package. Next, you should install Whonix. It is important not to open the system after downloading, as it has an extension .ova what is the format of the virtual machine file.

    VirtualBox's main window
    VirtualBox’s main window
  2. Starts VirtualBox and imports Whonix via the «Import» button.
    Whonix is installed. It is important to specify that a unique MAC or WIN address for network adapters is generated each time.

    Creating new MAC or WIN addresses is necessary to improve security. This setting forces Whonix to create a new network address for each site.
    Creating new MAC or WIN addresses is necessary to improve security. This setting forces Whonix to create a new network address for each site.
  3. The menu includes two machines: Whonix-Gateway and Whonix-Workstation. You cannot access the Internet through the server: the gateway isolates the workstation, but it works with open Internet traffic. You must run the server part first, and then the working part.

    Whonix system settings window. Here you can change the operating memory, graphics processor, audio input and output devices using by the virtual machine.
    Whonix system settings window. Here you can change the operating memory, graphics processor, audio input and output devices using by the virtual machine.

During the installation process, an error «Kernel driver not installed (rc= -1908)» may occur on MacOS computers. It is solved by admitting the «Oracle America, Inc» software in the system settings of security and safety. If you have any other problems, you should look at the detailed guide about installing Whonix.

To solve many VirtualBox errors on the macOS operating system, it is enough to open the emulator access to the system.
To solve many VirtualBox errors on the macOS, it is enough to open the emulator access to the system.

A window appeared on the computer with the system desktop. At this stage, Internet traffic is fully protected and isolated. Now you should pay attention to the factors that can compromise your security.

The Whonix desktop opens in a separate window as an application. The top right-hand tab has everything you need: an electronic cryptocurrency wallet and a Tor browser.
The Whonix desktop opens in a separate window as an application. The top right-hand tab has everything you need: an electronic cryptocurrency wallet and a Tor browser.

Basic mistakes

  • The phone collects personal information even in «brick» mode when the device is off. The device needs to be disposed of, and it is better to send a phone by courier to another city: it will help to confuse the tracks. Don’t turn on your new phone in places you’ve been before, especially at home.
  • You need to buy a corporate SIM card. Each smartphone has a unique IMEI-code, which is permanently registered in the database of the mobile operator after inserting the SIM card, so you need to use it only on a new device.
  • Do not set the password fingerprint or Face ID. In 2019, so unlocked the phone of the owner of the telegram channel «Prometheus». Biometric identification is much less effective than the password.
  • You can only use cash. Purchases made with bank cards give geolocation or just report online activity. If a person presents his documents anywhere, it will also compromise his location.

Russian Empire writers who was subjected to the cancel culture

Not new phenomenon in Russian literature space

Reading time 8 minutes

In modern space cancel culture is known as a «boycott» of a person, group or brand that has done or said something outrageous or offensive. It is believed that the socio-political term emerged recently in the United States and Europe among African Americans who ignored products that actively expressed racist views. In Russian culture and media, the use of «cancel culture» is perceived as inappropriate copying, but what if the cancelling as a phenomenon lies at the heart of Russian literature? Let’s consider writers who have been ahead of the trend by several decades.


F. Dostoevsky's magazine «Time» , in which he told about Uspensky's works: there is no feeling of «real life's thought».
F. Dostoevsky’s magazine «Time» , in which he told about Uspensky’s works: there is no feeling of «real life’s thought».

Nikolay Uspensky began his writing activity in 1857 after publishing in the magazine «Son of the Fatherland» two debut stories: «Pig» and «Old Woman». The creativity of the young author was immediately warmly welcomed, since the realistic character of the works, which left the exclusively aesthetic narrative, and provided support for Uspensky from such prominent contemporaries as L. Tolstoy, F. Dostoevsky, I. Turgenev and especially N. Chernyshevsky. The latter, in turn, wrote a critical article about the work of Nikolai Vasilyevich «Не начало ли перемен». This was to be a turning point in the writer’s career, who was made to understand that his rightly revolutionary-democratic narrative should not be directed to ridicule the vices of the people, but to support the nascent break in the everyday life and culture of peasants.

However, Uspensky did not begin «rapprochement with the liberation movement». His «truth without a veil» turned into an outspoken «negative fiction», as later F. Dostoevsky reported in his article about the creativity of Nikolay Vasilyevich in the magazine «Time». There was criticism everywhere. Writers and literary scholars did not skimp on harsh words: – «Talentless fictionist with a tiny chicken world-view and a tiny chicken observation». The chanting of the folk became fashionable, and Uspensky’s vision of it was ugly: «… a man certainly or a thief, or a drunkard, or such a fool as the world has not ever produced; every woman is such an idiot that cannot be imagined», – as A. Skabychevsky wrote.

Critics and editors of literary magazines at that time had such informational influence that they were really able to «cancel» Uspensky and later Leskov. For the rest of his life Nikolay Uspensky wandered with his daughter and for a small fee told biographies of authors of Russian classics. For Pushkin took the smallest fee, and for those who were exiled to Siberia or were in prison – most of all.

Uspensky committed suicide by stabbing himself. The «cancellation» had such an impact on his status that many editions have not even printed the obituary.
Uspensky committed suicide by stabbing himself. The «cancellation» had such an impact on his status that many editions have not even printed the obituary.


Most modern people know Nikolay Leskov as modest and harmless author of fairy tale «Lefty». This work appeared in 1881, when the writer had already tried on himself «cancelling» of the literary community. Leskov was active in politics until 1870. Nikolay Leskov, contrary to public opinion, was an outrageous author of provocative articles, held right-wing views. In 1862, the «Northern Bee» published the so-called «Article on Fires», where the writer mentioned and thus spread a rumor about arsons carried by revolutionary students and Poles. The left-wing critic took this as a denunciation, but also the emperor resented because of Leskov’s bold remark about administrative authority: «…to send firefighters to the fires for real help, not for standing up». That’s how Nikolai Leskov’s cancelling began.

Rubahin V. F. «Fire in Apraksin Yard», 1862. Leskov critically reflected this event in his article, which was the reason for «cancelling».
Rubahin V. F. «Fire in Apraksin Yard», 1862. Leskov critically reflected this event in his article, which was the reason for «cancelling».

The editor of «Northern Bee» had to send Leskov on a «long business trip», some kind of reference, after which he wrote the novel «Nowhere». The work is the radical debut of the author, where in a satirical manner he depicted the left-wing lobby of writers, whose criticism will accompany all Russian literature for a long time. However, Nikolay Leskov did not change his views and creative direction, on the contrary, he joined the editor of the right-wing magazine «Russian bulletin » – M. Katkov – and continued to write on the topic of the day. Subsequently, the writer so «crossed the line» that in the 1870 novel «On the Knives» depicted all revolutionaries as criminals. Leskov’s degree of «cancellation» reached its peak, and even his associates, Katkov and Dostoevsky, disowned him.

Illustration of the artist Nikolai Kuzmin to the story of Leskov «Lefty»
Illustration of the artist Nikolai Kuzmin to the story of Leskov «Lefty»

«Cancelled» Nikolay Leskov fell silent. The bold writer returned with much less provocative texts about the mighty folk and religion. Unlike Uspensky, Leskov managed to rehabilitate and earn fame thanks to the famous fairy tale «Lefty».


The history of Vladimir Nabokov is an example of the influence of left-wing critics on Russian literature even after his death. The writer did not become a victim of the cancel culture, but his novel «Gift, 1938» lost a whole chapter. Instead of the text, readers could see this:

The Modern Notes 67, p. 69 (Paris, 1938). The first publication of the novel «Gift» by V. Syrin (Nabokov) with explanation: «Chapter 4, consisting entirely of «Life of Chernyshevsky», written by the hero of the novel, skipped with the consent of the author. – Ed.

One of the variants of the fourth chapter of the novel «Gift»
One of the variants of the fourth chapter of the novel «Gift»

It is believed that the fourth chapter was a felleton on comrade Chernyshevsky, part-time one of Lenin’s favorite writers. Nabokov ridiculed primarily for his lack of aesthetic focus in his literary view of criticism, which, in his view, leads to Bolshevik ideology and repressions.

The cancel culture is present in Russian culture today. As before, it exists in two dimensions: aesthetic and political. However, the modern field for creative statements is rather visual content – movies and clips. Literature has ceased to be a forum for political debate. Individual authors, like Pelevin, still speak on sharp topics, but in the general masses – these are only exceptions.

The History of The “Lofi Girl”

How a continuous cult stream appeared on YouTube with an “eternal” student

Reading time 8 minutes

On March 18, 2015 a Paris student Dmitry created a YouTube channel called “Chilled Cow”. About two years later, on February 25, 2017 the channel launched its first live broadcast with music in the Lo-fi genre, the background being an excerpt from the anime “Whisper of the Heart” , in which the main character is studying. The channel was starting to gain popularity and with it came increasing copyright claims due to the use of an animated clip by Studio Ghibli. In 2018 the channel was blocked and with that, the stream stopped.

Fragment from the anime "Whisper of the Heart" used in the broadcast
Fragment from the anime “Whisper of the Heart” used in the broadcast

It seems to be a short history of an unremarkable channel. The live broadcast option appeared on YouTube in 2011 and by 2017 there were several dozen channels broadcasting music of different genres. The Chilled Cow is likely to be just one example of a media failure.

However, the key word here is indeed “seems”. Now the channel has more than 11 million subscribers and 1.3 billion views: its name is heard by almost all pupils and students. Let’s remember together how “Chilled Cow” turned into a cultural phenomenon called “Lofi Girl” and where the girl with endless homework came from.

In 2018, the channel was blocked for copyright infringement. Not wanting to give up the idea of ​​a musical line, channel creator Dmitry decided to create his own heroine in a similar classic anime style and began to look for an artist. In September 2018, Dmitry’s announcement to the Emil Kohl School of Animation was responded to by Colombian artist Juan Pablo Machado. He was in his senior year when he received an offer to draw a new character for a musical genre.

Among Machado’s many sketches, one is particularly notable. This is how Jade came about (yes, lo-fi student with a name). She sat at her desk, flipping through the pages of her notebook and occasionally glancing out the window as soft lo-fi music played in the background. Notably, the Jade room window overlooks the historic center of Lyon, the city in France where Juan Machado spent five years studying the art of animation. A small nod to Alma Mater, thanks in large part to the famous student appearing online. And every few hours, the broadcast changes the time of day, which creates a sense of immersion for channel viewers. Especially those who live in the European time zone.

Machado himself has more than once admitted that he did not expect the 80-second animated film to be so successful. In early 2020, he was even contacted by a representative of a museum in Seoul who wanted to make the illustration part of a permanent exhibition.

Not only the Korean museum recognizes the cultural significance of “Lofi Girl”. From a background character for music programs, Jade has become a virtual icon of the digital space. Several dozen channels with a similar musical orientation began to feature their own characters, and fans of the original heroine kept coming up with drawings with a rethink of Jade’s image. Thereby, for instance, in 2020 artists from all over the world decided to paint the eternal student in the reality of their country.

"Lofi Girl" from Brazil / credits: @LeticiaEfing
“Lofi Girl” from Brazil / credits: @LeticiaEfing
"Lofi Girl" from Greece / credits: @arjunks
“Lofi Girl” from Greece / credits: @arjunks



References to “Lofi Girl” can even be found in popular culture. In the Steven Universe animated series: Future, one of the heroines – Connie – is depicted sitting in the identical “Lofi Girl” pose. And the game’s official YouTube channel World of Warcraft published a Jade-themed parody as part of a campaign promoting the Shadowlands add-on.

The heroine of the cartoon "Steven Universe" - above, Jade - below
The heroine of the cartoon “Steven Universe” – above, Jade – below

Jade has become a loyal companion and role model for those who are drawn to the flow while working or studying. She is concentrated, undistracted and constantly immersed in her studies. The stream goes on around the clock and is uninterrupted, so that anyone can connect to the “study session” with a student who never looks up from her notes. Many users admitted that the virtual girl helped them a lot to survive lonely evenings spent studying textbooks and even motivated them to spend more time on homework.

On February 22, 2020, an unexpected and shocking event happened to Lofi Girl fans: YouTube moderators blocked the channel with the broadcast for “violating the rules of the service.” And although after a couple of hours the platform apologized and restored the channel, the broadcast had to be restarted. The abrupt end of the stream was recorded, creating the longest video in YouTube history at 13,165 hours, or 548 days of non-stop streaming. Users calculated that during all this time of continuous study, Jade would have already managed to get several higher educations and learn seven of the most difficult languages ​​​​of the world (on average, it takes 1750 hours to reach the level of fluent communication).

Many users have grown and learned with the anime girl, the audience has changed with each other, and Jade has always remained the same, opening up more and more new notes. Maybe one day she’ll be able to relax, like all those chilled out on her cozy lo-fi playlist.


Crypto winter: why did it happen and how to fill the hole?

Причины, последствия и преодоление встречных ветров криптозимы 2022 года

Reading time 6 minutes

According to CNBC statistics, 2022 rocked the cryptocurrency market, which has lost two trillion dollars since its peak in 2021. This period of market cooling is known as “crypto winter”. But there is something about this latest crash that sets it apart from previous crypto downturns: this year’s crypto winter was marked by a series of industry-wide events that exposed holes in the operating system of the “future money” market.

Stablecoin no longer stable
Coinbase and Bitcoin signage during an Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, USA on April 14, 2021. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg
Coinbase and Bitcoin signage during an Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, USA on April 14, 2021. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

The most important reason for the crypto winter is the explosion of TerraUSD or UST, a currency known as stablecoins designed to reduce volatility in the cryptocurrency market by maintaining a fixed value. The stability of TerraUSD depends on a complex mechanism driven by an algorithm tied to its sister cryptocurrency LUNA rather than a stable reserve asset like gold or dollars. As Nansen reports, in early July, LUNA’s valuation plummeted from $80 to a fraction of a cent, and TerraUSD also collapsed.

Once praised for providing cutting-edge blockchain investments to users around the world, “the collapse of the Terra blockchain and the UST stablecoin was unthinkable,” Clara Medali, director of research at crypto data firm Kaiko, told CNBC.

The sudden collapse of TerraUSD and UST caused panic in the market. The price of bitcoin has fallen to $26,000, 60% from its peak in November 2021, while ether, the next largest cryptocurrency, has lost 30% in value. Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, posted a loss of $430 million. In addition, a tornado swept through crypto networks and hedge funds that had direct contact with UST, in particular the hedge fund Three Arrows Capital or 3AC.

The burden of individual traders
TerraUSD cryptocurrency crash. Source: Coinbase
TerraUSD cryptocurrency crash. Source: Coinbase

The collapse of TerraUSD and LUNA caused a domino effect throughout the electronics industry, including individual investors. Celsius, a company that offered users over 18% returns on staking its cryptocurrencies, filed for bankruptcy in July 2022. In the US, this procedure allows you to restore the corporate debt structure to support the company’s business. Individual investors who have invested their assets in Celsius risk losing them completely.

The risk stems from the fact that the protections and property rights that are used in normal banking legislation for deposits do not apply to cryptocurrency exchanges and exchange contracts. Cryptocurrency translators may disclaim liability for the total deposit amount in accordance with the Celsius terms of use.

Celsius operates like a bank. He will take the deposited cryptocurrency and lend it to other players with high returns. Other players will use it to trade. And the Celsius profit generated from the yield will be used to return back to depositors.

“Players looking for high returns exchanged fiat for cryptocurrency, used lending platforms as custodians, and then those platforms used the funds they raised for high-risk investments – how else could they pay such high interest rates?” said Carol Alexander, professor of finance at the University of Sussex.

Government reaction

As the global financial outlook becomes increasingly cloudy due to rising interest rates, the Special Military Operation in Ukraine, and fuel and grain shortages, consumers are looking for safe investments such as less risky crypto products like ETH. Therefore, it is necessary to issue some rules related to the security of cryptocurrencies in order to minimize the risks and instability of this market.

The Central Bank of Singapore has proposed new measures to regulate the trading of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins, including banning lending companies from taking cryptocurrencies from some retail customers and then lending to others with it – such a scheme does not provide sufficient security for depositors’ assets.

On October 26, the Australian government stated in its budget announcement that investors would be required to pay capital gains tax on profits from the sale of crypto assets through exchanges.

On October 27, the UK Finance Minister added to a bill submitted to Parliament the UK’s right to regulate all cryptocurrencies.

In all the chaos of the crypto winter, imposing rules on all participants, potentially destabilizing the market, will provide the necessary protection to consumers and maintain long-term market stability.





How does Netflix make money and why is it at a loss?

The financial strategy of the global leader in the streaming-on-demand entertainment business

Reading time 8 minutes

During the three-month period, the streaming giant laid off around 450 employees due to a loss of a raft of subscribers. According to the statistics provided by Macrotrends, from 2014 to 2019, the loss of Netflix has only increased, although the situation was rectified in 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic, which brought in a profit of almost two billion USD, 2021 again ended with negative indicators for the platform. Many experts attribute this situation in the market to the economic model in which the platform operates.


In 1999, Netflix started as a DVD rental service, offering customers an unlimited monthly cassette subscription, as well as a personalized movie recommendation system. To create a large movie library, the company purchased the rights and licenses to a wide variety of content, part of an online cinema portfolio that still includes these acquisitions.

A decade later, Netflix pioneered the Internet streaming market, while other media giants offer cable TV subscriptions for $100, Netflix only requires its subscribers from 8 up to 15 dollars. In addition to the pricing policy, viewers are bribed by other factors: multiple people can use the same account from different devices, favorite shows can be viewed at any time, and the library constantly being replenished with hit shows that Netflix buys the rights to and content of its own production.

All this caused consumers to abandon cable subscriptions in favor of streaming, and movie and TV series creators not to release their products on TV, simply because Netflix and its similar companies offered more money than cable channels that were losing money. According to Bloomberg’s statistics in 2018, 6 people give up cable TV every minute, of which in return, many people subscribe to online services.

Flywheel model for Netflix
Flywheel model for Netflix

Despite the removal of these competitors, Netflix is still operating at a loss. This is largely due to their economic policy, known as the “flywheel method”. It works like this: the service takes money from a user’s subscription and spends it on content creation, content distribution and creating a pleasant user experience, which forces the user to renew the subscription theirs and everything went back to the way it was. The problem is that Netflix spends more than $500 per user while it only brings the company about $10. This difference is covered by the new viewer’s subscription, i.e. your payment for one subscription offsets the cost spent by the user who purchased it before you and the amount the next subscriber will reimburse you.

The problems of this plan will become apparent once Netflix hits the subscription threshold – there will simply be no potential buyers left in the US and the world able to cover these losses with their own money. Analysts estimate that the maximum number of Netflix subscribers in the US is 60-90 million and around 200 million in the rest of the world, while in the first quarter of 2022 there were around 80 million people in North America and about 150 million people in the rest of the world.

Simultaneously, due to the peculiarities of the market, a subscriber outside the United States brings the company much less money than an American: for example, the cost of a subscription in India at the start was only $3 – three times less than in the company’s homeland.

By way of explanation, in order for the flywheel to continue working, Netflix is forced to look for new subscribers outside the United States, in the face of the fact that local markets cannot offer a profit comparable to the United States, as well as to raise prices in richer and more developed countries, which already leads to an outflow of subscribers.


For Netflix, the situation is compounded by increased competition: almost every major corporation has already launched or is preparing to launch its streaming service. Coincidently, knowing the need for their competitor to raise prices, other streaming services deliberately underestimate the cost of a subscription: Disney+ asked for only $ 7 at the beginning, while providing exclusive and discussed content like the new parts of Star Wars and the Mandalorian series, as well as absorbing another online movie theater Hulu. In other words, purchasing Disney+ for a price half the price of a subscription to Netflix, the user received two streaming services at once.

Netflix official account tweet saying "Love is password sharing"
Netflix official account tweet saying “Love is password sharing”

Simultaneously, Netflix itself is also forced to take not very pleasant measures for users, along with the mentioned price increase, the company also wants to ban users from sharing passwords with loved ones, and about 1/4 numbers all subscribers do this, although the company previously considered this function as one of the important being.

This policy affects the number of people who unsubscribe. Users are also canceling subscriptions due to the lifting of quarantine restrictions in many countries: people work, study, travel, and less sit at home in front of computers and TVs. As a result, in the second quarter of 2022, one million people canceled their Netflix subscription, and a similar number of unsubscribes is expected before the end of the year.

Netflix's largest shareholder Bill Ackman
Netflix’s largest shareholder Bill Ackman

This situation in the market also affects the investment attractiveness of the company: in the past year, the value of shares has decreased by more than 60%, in such a crash, one of the company’s largest shareholders lost more than a billion dollars, and then sold his entire three million shares.

Despite the unfavorable economic situation and loss, Netflix is unlikely to stop, in a letter to shareholders the company assured that canceling family subscriptions will only lead to new users. Streaming and the loss of subscribers are also tied to macroeconomic factors: the consequences of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory. In addition, the company will not reduce its content costs: in 2021, online cinemas have spent 17 billion dollars on it.

Don’t throw away. Swap it

How swap parties have proven to be an effective way to swap out boring items

Reading time 5 minutes

Swap parties (from the English word «swap» – to swap) have been around for a while now, and have proven to be an excellent, and most importantly eco-friendly, way to update your wardrobe. However, they are only beginning to gain popularity in Russia. Usually, «swaps» are arranged in cafes, in open spaces, at someone’s home or online. It depends on the number of participants. There is a «thing-for-thing» rule, where everyone brings clean and intact but unwanted items and takes something they like in return. But the most important requirement is that the things participants bring are in good condition. Party organisers advise bringing something they would not be ashamed to wear themselves

Singapore Swap Shop (Source: bangkokpost.com)
Singapore Swap Shop (Source: bangkokpost.com)

Swap parties have several key advantages:

  • It’s a direct route to conscious consumption. By participating in swap parties, people are speaking out against the thoughtless disposal of clothes.
  • It’s not second-hand: all items will be available for free.
  • It’s an opportunity not just to get rid of unwanted items at home, but also to make sure that they still last a long time for other people.
  • It’s a way of getting to know people and their personal styles.
Swap party at a cafe (Source: sustainyourstyle.org)
Swap party at a cafe (Source: sustainyourstyle.org)

In today’s age, the issue of sensible consumption is as important as ever. Mikhail Antonov, head of the Moseco movement notes: «The phenomenon of ‘fast fashion’ is now prevalent, where up to 50 cycles of clothing can change in one year. Half of all clothes sold in the capital become rubbish within a year or after a couple of wearings! Meanwhile, clothes are difficult to recycle, tossed in the rubbish dump, they clog up sorting equipment.» For people, swap parties become an opportunity to swap their old and good stuff for other people’s already new and good stuff. If something has lost its value to its owner, it does not mean that its fate must necessarily end up in a landfill. Sometimes the option of selling clothes can be difficult, given how quickly trends appear and disappear, in which case the «swap» option proves to be more effective.

The fast-fashion alternative (Source: biome.com)
The fast-fashion alternative (Source: biome.com)

«Swaps» can of course not only be conducted with clothes and jewelry, but also with a variety of items, from books to crockery. Also, unwanted items will not go unclaimed anyway. If there is anything left after the event, it will be sent to charity organizations or recycled.

In Russia it is possible to take part in such a swap party not only in the capital but also in Krasnodar, in Kazan and many other cities. And in Moscow, apart from the one-off actions, a real shop has also appeared, but the rules of the “swap” apply to it too – no sale, only exchange.

Sharing clothes (Source: theecologist.org)
Sharing clothes (Source: theecologist.org)

You can organize such a swap party yourself, together with a few friends and acquaintances. You can have a fun and enjoyable time watching a film, listening to music and sharing food and drinks.