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    Re: Protractor.
    From: Alexandre Eremenko
    Date: 2004 Sep 23, 14:33 -0500

    Dear Jared,
    You message rises VERY many interesting issues,
    the things I thought a lot about,
    but I am sure that most of them are out of scope
    of this mailing list:-)
    
    So I will give a short reply to the mailing list,
    and then will be glad to expand on some points,
    mainly on the Soviet history, in a personal message.
    
    On Thu, 23 Sep 2004, Jared Sherman wrote:
    
    > Alexandre-
    >  We in the west tend not to understand the Soviet/Russian point of view.
    
    > 
    > The Russians couldn't rely on navigation controlled by their enemy.
    
    Yes, I had this thought too. Probably you this sis a good
    explanation.
    
    >  Lacking hard currency good outside Russia,
    > lord only knows what it would cost there 20 years ago.
    
    I can tell you precisely. The first model of Soviet electronic
    wristwatch appeared somewhere in the end of 1970-s (and I got it as
    a gift then.)
    It was very precise but non-reliable. So I used a mechanical watch
    instead.
    When I first came to visit the US (in 1989) I bought this Casio
    for $25 and it was so superior to all watches I have seen before,
    that when I was moving to the US (1990) I neglected to take with me
    of my fine mechanical watches. (Which I regrett very much now.)
    
    > Under the Czars, Russian cartographers were known to be
    > possibly the finest in the world.
    
    I did not know that, but recently I read in Chauvenet the exiting account
    of how they measured the longitude of the Pulkovo Observatory
    (the Russian equivalent of Grinwitch, near St Peterburg).
    Chauvenet considers this as the finest example of its kind.
    (I strongly recommend this place in Chauvenet to those
    interested in the
    longitude story).
    
    >Don't ever, ever, try to navigate with a Soviet map or chart.
    
    I probably can write a book about Soviet carthgraphy:-)
    Here are just some highlights.
    
    When I was a student (1970-s) in Western Ukraine we needed maps for our
    mountain
    hiking in Karpaty mntns. We had to use Polish maps of 1930-s (that is
    made before this area was annexed by the Soviet Union) Soviet maps either
    did not exist or were top secret.
    
    It is a well known fact that in 1941, when the Germans invaded,
    Soviet field commanders (of low and medium level)
    did not have topographic maps of Soviet territory at all.
    There is a lot
    of discussion of this fact in the historical literature, and I think
    further
    research is needed to see why exactly this happened.
    Later in the was they used German maps taken from the Germans.
    I mean the German maps of Soviet territory.
    
    One reason for this is that the Soviet authorities were crazy about
    secrecy. Any precise map, even a city plan, was considered a top
    state secret. And you could not board an airplane with a photocamera or
    binoculars.
    
    Alex.
    P.S. Some former Soviets still cannot grasp how could it happen
    that the US GPS system is open for the use of everybody:-)
    
    
    

       
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