The social-political climate in the Soviet industry was a mix of enthusiasm and fear. The political police, local Communist party structures and union leadership were very influential, and their suspicion towards engineers, as a part of intellectual class, “intelligentsia”, was evident. Moreover, strong professional jealousy had risen between Russian and American engineers. The Russians were proud of their theoretical knowledge, while Americans stressed the importance of practical experience.At that time Russian intellectuals, including engineers, were heavily influenced by Kraut culture. They emphasized theory over practice. At that time American intellectuals but NOT American engineers were also Teutonic. American engineers followed the British practical tradition and became even more practical from frontier experience. Now it's backwards. Americans are all theory, and Russian engineers since ~1960 are practical and creative. What made the difference? I'm always ready to blame genes, but can't blame genes for a variable! Best guess: Soviet education made the difference. After 1920 American education became purely rote and theoretical, and got even worse after Sputnik. Russian education was moving in the opposite direction, and by the time of Sputnik was strongly EXPERIMENTAL AND EXPERIENTIAL. Post-switchover Russians are the product of GOOD education. Post-switchover Yanks are the product of ATROCIOUS education.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.