One of the subtle ironies of Soviet life was that its founding moment was habitually celebrated in the wrong month. The “great October” marking the events of 1917 used to be commemorated every year on 7 November, thanks to a quirk of chronology dating back centuries.
This was not lost on the locals, with their well developed sense of irony: even the calendar was against them.
Of course, 1917 was not the only November revolution that upended the region. Another uprising 30 years ago this weekend upstaged the Bolshevik festivities and steered a swathe of eastern Europe on to a new course.
But for better or worse? Much has been made of the disillusionment gripping the region, but as our central and eastern European correspondent, Shaun Walker, found out, in countries such as Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, people have never had it so good. The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 was perhaps the most Upsidey revolution in history. If you’re not convinced, perhaps these before and after images from Berlin will change your mind.
Otherwise, our work was eclectic this week, demonstrating either great breadth of vision or some rather scattergun editing. You decide which.
Money and maps: how to save the Amazon? (four-minute read)
The book lenders of Kabul (two-minute read)
A bubble barrier to clear waterways of plastic (one-minute read)
An art project to photograph all 76,000 year 3 pupils in London (three-minute read)
Italy to make the climate crisis a compulsory subject in schools (due minuti per leggere)
Microsoft Japan discovers the benefits of the four-day week (very short)
Europeans are more satisfied with their lot than they were in 2013, despite the political and social turbulence of the past five years.
The number of sick days taken by British workers has fallen dramatically since the mid-1990s.
The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions intensity (a measure of emissions relative to economic output) has fallen by 66% since 1990.
What we liked
The molecule that could transform solar energy, courtesy of Adam Popescu at Bloomberg. Chemistry has never been so interesting…
Also, we loved this piece in the New York Times by an old friend of the Upside, Jonathan Rowson, on whether we really need to pursue happiness at all.
What we heard
Tony Guilmette responded to the Amazon rainforest story:
Worth investigating, though not perhaps as part of the Upside, Tony.
Francisco Sánchez Molina wrote in from Helsinki:
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Where was the Upside?
In a Prague restaurant staffed by homeless people …
Also in South Africa …