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French Winemakers Use Satellites And Infrared To 'Spy' On Their Own Crop

A month before harvest begins in Bordeaux, a new technology is being used that takes incredibly detailed images from 800 kilometers above to allow wine growers to gather their grapes at the right moment for maximizing quality.

Almost harvest time.
Almost harvest time.
Claude Courtois

BORDEAUX -- With just one month to go before the first harvest begins in Bordeaux, winegrowers carefully scan the sky and the ground. Some of them have been paying close attention to their mail boxes as well.

Between July 15 and Aug. 15, depending on the season's weather, some growers receive a CD of infrared satellite imagery of their houses. The images are taken from 800 kilometers up, and are shot between 15 and 20 days before the "véraison," the stage when grapes change color. "The technique is amazing," says Patrick Bongard, the director of 14 Gironde region chateaus belonging to the Castel Group, one of the first French wine-producing groups based in the southwest region.

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Ideas

A Slavic Take On The Russian Complex Of Superiority

Putin’s brutal attack on Ukraine has turned the world on its head. As shocking as it is, for those closer to Russia sense something familiar in the past three months. This personal dispatch is about the Russians and the Slavs. (I am the latter.)

A crowd watches the hourly changing of the honor guard at Lenin's mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow, 1986

Andrej Mrevlje

-Essay-

LJUBLJANA — I don’t have a great relationship with Russia. Growing up in Slovenia, I did not need to learn Russian to grasp the beauty of classic pre-Soviet literature. The translations of Russian masterpieces into my native language have been admirable.

But besides my proxy relation to Russian culture, I had very few run-ins with actual Russians since, to my knowledge, none of them lived in Slovenia. Well, except one: An athletically-built young man with long curly hair. I recall him mingling with the poets and other groups in a bohemian bar in Ljubljana. I forgot his name, but he disappeared from the scene after a few years. There was talk that he might have been a Russian intelligence officer or a drug pusher. But I had no idea. The matter never interested me enough to investigate further.

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During World War II, my parents took part in the resistance war against Nazi occupiers and spoke fluent German. As a consequence, German was the first foreign language I learned. But it was also the language I used the least. In high school, I learned English and French. I felt no attraction and no affinity to Russian, a language that I felt would be easy to grasp, something that, in a way, was too close and familiar.

But at the same time, there was always a great diffidence toward anything Russian. After the dispute between Joseph Stalin and Tito, and Yugoslavia’s exit from the Soviet bloc in 1948, both sides never recovered the comradeship from the revolutionary times of the Third International.

But to my mind, there was more to it.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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