poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

September 4, 2009

Odds & Ends from across the pond.

Or across the Lake!, or across the street! Some of you might even be in this very room. looks around nervously…

Contents: The Putins play doctor, Dr. Phil that is; Donkey bloggin’ in Azerbaijan; After the rapture, we get all your pets; Socialism, the slippery slope to Cannibalism; and the abolition of Switzerland.

It’s hard to post an edition of Odds & Ends as an antidote to the serious news when the serious news is about a creepy guy with baggy t-shirts and unwashed hair and scary yet melancholy look in his big eyes who is a maritime expert for a State-owned news station (and who would pretend to be getting calls from hostages of pirates on his cell phone) who suggested something about nukes or drugs being on the Arctic Sea instead of wood and something about or Russians or Israelis being on the Arctic Sea instead of pirates so who after a month of padding an already spectacularly weird story with his own weird theories left for Turkey on a routine business trip and then phoned his paper to say he was retiring after he got there and who then called the BBC and RIA Novosti and anyone else who would listen and told them that some scary men, maybe the FSB, had called him in the middle of the night and told him to stop talking about nukes and such so he fled the country fearing for his life.

But that won’t stop me from trying!

I. THIS WEEK IN THE MEDIA.

I don’t use the word “creeptastic” often, but…

~ Independent: Putin’s reclusive wife releases film series on happy families.

Lyudmila Putina, who has been married to Russia’s macho leader for more than a quarter of a century, launched a collection of films entitled Long and happy. Everything about Men, Women and Family”. At a presentation on Thursday at a Moscow bookshop, Ms Putina unveiled the discs, a six-part series that features conversations between a well-known Russian television host and a family psychologist. The disks contain segments with titles such as Husband and wife, Happiness is not in money, You can’t leave your family and Brain gymnastics.

“People have problems, have had problems and will have problems,” Ms Putina said at the launch. “But with the help of these discs, and with the help of any psychotherapists, a person can learn how to solve these problems easily.”

Ms Putina did not reveal whether the Putin couple had used the services of psychologists to resolve such differences. The family life of the Putins is shrouded in a veil of almost absolute secrecy. State-controlled Russian media is happy to show Mr Putin peeling his shirt off for macho holiday snaps, shooting tigers, and performing a variety of other stunts, but follow an unwritten rule that the Prime Minister’s private life is absolutely off limits.

But this has not stopped gossip from spreading in Moscow circles, and it is considered an open secret that Mr Putin and his wife are estranged, which means that Ms Putina’s advice to other couples in solving marital problems may seem somewhat bizarre. Svetlana Medvedeva, the wife of Mr Putin’s successor as President, Dmitry Medvedev, has established a relatively high-profile presence, but Ms Putina is rarely shown at her husband’s side.

Last year, a Moscow newspaper published a story claiming that Mr Putin was having a romance with the former Olympic gymnast and present Russian MP Alina Kabayeva, voted by one magazine to be the sexiest woman in Russia, and was even planning a marriage to her.

Mr Putin furiously denied the allegations, and accused journalists of dipping their “snotty noses” into his life and concocting “erotic fantasies”. The newspaper that published the allegations, which was owned by Alexander Lebedev, owner of the London Evening Standard, was closed soon after.

Further conjecture that all might not be well in the House of Putin came when the management of the Abba tribute band Bjorn Again claimed that the group was flown into Russia in January for a secret concert organised by the Kremlin, where Mr Putin was seen entertaining a young woman wearing a long cream dress. Mr Putin’s spokesman denied that the concert had even happened.

Egads – where to begin?! Let’s begin by asking why no one uses the word egads anymore. Then let’s ask what the hell is going on here? I got a lot of grief for having perhaps a bit too much fun with the Alina Kabayeva scandal. I did have some great fun with that. So perhaps I should stay classy and take the high road. It’s none of my business really. Whatsoever. What that bizarroland marriage is about is not for me to know. Move along, kids, nothing to see here.

Our next story involves people dressed as donkeys and …

“Bjorn Again?” “Brain gymnastics?” “Bizarre?” Ya think? Must. Not. Judge. Must ignore inner Gloria Steinem and inner fan of half-naked Russian Premier, both of whom want to say very unkind things right now. Be kind. Be kind and secretly, quietly in your mind give her the lecture you secretly quietly in your mind gave to Elizabeth Edwards. And then bang your head on your desk in frustration.

So, I guess it would be as tactless a time as any to post this:

Damn. Ok, what was I talking about? Oh, yes, asses.

~ BBC: Jail threat for donkey bloggers.

Two bloggers from Azerbaijan are facing up to five years in jail after posting a video of a donkey giving a news conference on YouTube.

Shortly after the video was released, Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli were held on hooliganism charges following a scuffle in a restaurant.

Their lawyer says the arrests were politically motivated.

But authorities insist they are investigating a simple criminal case.

In the video, the donkey extols the benefits of living in Azerbaijan and praises the government for its positive attitude towards donkeys.

The video was seen by many as a send-up of government news conferences, which critics say are often little more than propaganda events.

“This incident is definitely politically motivated,” said Adnan Hajizade’s lawyer Isakhan Ashurov.

“My client did not beat anybody, quite the opposite.”

The Azerbaijani government denies that the bloggers’ arrest was politically motivated.

“People are not arrested in Azerbaijan because of political activity,” said Ali Hasanov, a senior adviser to President Ilham Aliyev, in a statement.”

That’s true. They are interested in in Azerbaijan because of bloggers who are arrested for dressing like donkeys giving news conferences.

In other on-line developments:

Prez. Medvedev is on YouTube now.

Joachim Crima is on Twitter now.

II. THIS WEEK IN RELIGION.

For some reason beyond my comprehension, this blog is hot with a certain Christian blogger. Eh, better than Swiss fans, I guess. Well this will either make them go away or give them a good laugh.

~ Eternal Earthbound Pets.

Atheists have started a pet rescue service for Christians worried about being suddenly taken up to heaven without their pets.

From their website:

You’ve committed your life to Jesus. You know you’re saved. But when the Rapture comes what’s to become of your loving pets who are left behind? Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you’ve received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus. [...]

Our service is plain and simple; our fee structure is reasonable.

For $110.00 we will guarantee that should the Rapture occur within ten (10) years of receipt of payment, one pet per residence will be saved. Each additional pet at your residence will be saved for an additional $15.00 fee. A small price to pay for your peace of mind and the health and safety of your four legged friends.

Unfortunately at this time we are not equipped to accommodate all species and must limit our services to dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and small caged mammals.

Watch the video here.

Ah, wherever there are people of faith, there are evil non-believers trying to take financial advantage of them. While not a person of faith, I am convinced animals have souls too. And for this reason, I am going to start a business rescuing pets from the rapture-ready crowd before their masters get shot up into celestial bliss. Because if you don’t think your pet has a soul, you might not be qualified to own one. Just sayin’.

In other responsible practical theology meets free enterprise news:

~ RT: Die green: eco-friendly funerals gain popularity in Sweden.

In Sweden, biologists are working on making funerals a more eco-friendly affair. Their ideas on environmentally-safe memorial services are met with contempt by some Christians, however.
For Swedish biologist Susanne Wiigh-Masak, life after death is not a matter of faith, it is an ecological problem.

She has worked out a method for recycling human corpses into fertilizer for the soil. To her, a perfect graveyard would be a park full of flowers.

“Today with the traditional burial methods that we have, we tend to affect either the ground water or the air, and no one is coming back to the soil that fed us at the beginning,” she said. “That is, perhaps, the most important thing to see if we can find the way back.”

Susanne suggests freeze-drying is a safe way for bodies to return to their roots.

In her technology, a frozen human body is shattered into pieces that turn into powder after the water evaporates. According to the scientist, the remains are fully absorbed into the soil within a year. [...]

“For our church, death is like a mystery – our body will someday join our soul,” said Orthodox Priest Father Mikhail. “The ecology is not so important that we should destroy mystery in church.”

However, Susanne Wiigh-Misak has her own views on resurrection.

“The lord is almighty and we are promised a new body at the resurrection. So that’s not a problem,” she said.

Church and State may be separate but they sure do share the same M.O. of making promises they can’t keep. … Wait? They freeze-dry the corpses and then vibrate them until they shatter to pieces? Someone was high when they thought of that. And high when they tried it too, I bet. Who put the 20 yr. old chem majors in charge of the morgue?

III. THIS WEEK IN HEALTH.

Like eggs in the 80’s, every week it seems like there is a new report in the media about the health affects of alcohol contradicting the report released last week. First we are told that too much wine will kill your liver. Then we are told wine prevents heart attacks. Then they remind us alcohol can cause alcoholism. It’s hard to make sense of it all. Is it bad for you or not? Unfortunately, the latest news is bound to confuse us more:

~ Chicago Tribune: Study: Drinkers more likely to exercise.

Regular drinkers are likely to do more than tone their biceps with 12-ounce curls, according to a new study. Those who imbibe—regardless of how much–get more exercise than teetotalers, researchers reported in the current issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Surprisingly, the effect was strongest with heavier drinkers, who “were more likely to exercise than light drinkers and exercised for more minutes,” said lead researcher Michael French, a professor of health economics at the University of Miami.

Though it seems counterintuitive, there are several plausible explanations, said French, who studies the consequences of addictive behavior. Some drinkers may use exercise to negate the calories from the alcohol. Others might have a thrill-seeking nature; those gunning for a runner’s high may use alcohol for a similar sensation. (The Chicago Hash House Harriers–like all Hash groups–tout themselves as “a drinking club with a running problem.”) And soccer, softball and other team sports participants might hit a bar after a game.

Still, while the researchers found a strong statistical relationship between alcohol and exercise, you can’t–and shouldn’t–jump start an exercise program by pounding down more beers, said French, adding that the effects of heavy drinking don’t outweigh the benefits of exercise.

But should you decide to combine the two activities—boozercizing, anyone?—French’s team hasn’t yet looked into whether drinking improves one’s performance.

Michael French? I’m suspicious of any study done by a country with a vested interest in the outcome. But every single exercise expert in the universe has been telling us, “Whatever gets you off the couch and into the gym.” I myself find I get more exercise after I’ve been drinking, but it ain’t at the gym, kids. Anyway, while hitting the bottle might up your motivation for a softball game, its benefits apparently do not extend to the sport of chess:

~ RIA Novosti: Drunk chess grandmaster loses match after nodding off.

NEW DELHI, September 4 (RIA Novosti) – French grandmaster Vladislav Tkachiev lost his chess match against India’s Praveen Kumar after he fell asleep in a drunken stupor at an international tournament in Kolkata, an official said.

According to the official, Tkachiev did not appear to be drunk at the start of the match, however, after about 15 minutes the Frenchman fell asleep and could not be woken.

One of the tournament officials, Soumen Majumder, was cited by the Indian Express as saying, “What happened is unfortunate. It’s in bad taste. Once the event is over, we will hold a meeting and decide how to proceed against this player.”

Tkachiev was in such a state he had to be carried off and Kumar was declared the winner.

Russian-born French chess player Tkachiev, aged 35, is an accomplished chess player, ranked 58th in the world, a former European champion who recently won the French championships.

Almost as exciting as the Russian chess player who was accused of taking too many bathroom breaks.

IV. THIS WEEK IN THE SOCIALIST THREAT.

It was bad enough when Sarah Palin posted the death panels rumour on facebook, and Obama had to promise people there would not be death panels, and then news about NHS death panels was released. Thanks Britain. Now it turns out thats ocialized medicine not only includes death panels, but encourages cannibalism!

~ Daily Mail: Brain-eating killer claimed two more victims because of ‘systematic’ NHS failures.

A ‘systematic failure’ in the treatment of a schizophrenic allowed him to murder a friend and eat parts of his brain before he went on to kill a fellow patient in Broadmoor,two separate reports have revealed.

Convicted killer Peter Bryan was given permission to live in a hostel in north London where he could come and go as he pleased.

He had been admitted to a secure hospital after beating shop assistant Nisha Sheth to death with a hammer in 1993.

But eight years later, mental health experts decided he could live in the community under supervision.

In 2002 he moved to the hostel and at the beginning of 2004 social workers applied for his transfer to ‘low support accommodation’ but four weeks later Bryan murdered his friend Brian Cherry, 43, and cooked and ate his flesh.

In a damning report into the case, authors found that while living in the community Bryan was looked after by an inexperienced social worker and a psychiatrist who had never worked with a convicted killer.

The report found ‘there was, however, a systemic failure to ensure that the key professionals allocated to care for Peter Bryan in the community had the necessary experience to deal with someone with his forensic history and complex presentation.

‘The two professionals, who were a supervising psychiatrist and social supervisor, for this unusual and complicated patient were a general adult psychiatrist who never before had had responsibility for a patient who had killed someone, and a very inexperienced social worker who had no training in mental health.’

Obama better address this in his televised speech to Congress or I am pulling my kid out of school. Actually, I don’t have a kid. I’ll pull someone else’s out! That’ll teach him to spread propaganda about government-run healthcare not leading to cannibalism. What? You think I am crazy? A conspiracy theorist? A nut? This is not an isolated incident, people! There is a pattern, and it has already begun in America! Why, just a few days ago an Obama supporter bit off an old man’s finger at a healthcare rally! <–Note that he was old. If death panels don’t kill senior citizens, cannibals will. Backup plan.

~ Daily News: Hope he has insurance! Protester’s pinky finger bitten off at health care reform rally.

He raised his fist in protest, and lost a finger. A 65-year-old man’s pinky finger was bitten off Wednesday night during a California health care rally that turned into a bloody brawl, Ventura County law enforcement officials said.

The trouble began soon after two opposing groups met for demonstrations on opposite sides of the same street, according to a report from the local TV station KTLA.

About 100 protesters for a MoveOn.org rally met to support the Obama administration’s proposed health care reforms while an anti-reform group assembled nearby to bash it.

Things turned ugly when a man passing through the anti-reform group to join the MoveOn.org rally got into an altercation with the 65-year-old man – who opposed the reforms.

The 65-year-old took a swing and hit the man, who fought back by biting off his assailant’s finger, according to a witness at the scene.

The man retrieved the severed digit and fled to a local hospital, where doctors were able to reattach it to his hand.

Well, thank god we don’t have socialized medicine yet, or Medicare would be paying for that. What? We already have Medicare? Screw the Zombie threat, it’s brain-eating maniacs that will destroy the country now! Looks like they’ve already gotten to parts of the South and Midwest. yikes.

V. THIS WEEK IN SWISS HATING.

So I took that facebook test “What country hates you?,” not to find out the answer, but to test the accuracy of the quiz, and I was not disappointed! Switzerland. Everyone knows that. It’s a national past-time over there. People think you can win an election in Switzerland by running on a right-wing populist platform, but the anti-poemless vote is where it is at. I don’t know why they hate me. I was reading about the concept of “passionarity” which is not even a word, I don’t think, and my opinion of it is that it’s utter b.s. Except that it’s the only explanation I have for this bizarre innate inability for the Swiss and I to get along. Is it mutual?, you may wonder. A friend sent me the following video a few days ago, and I’ve watched it a dozen times since, and am buckled over in tears of hysteria each time I watch it. Maybe I do hate the Swiss.

~ Kids in the Hall: Sick of the Swiss!

Or maybe Kids in the Hall are just comic geniuses! To bad the Swiss have no sense of humour… Anywayz, looks like I am not alone:

~ FP Passport: Qaddafi proposes abolishing Switzerland.

Is there a petition somewhere to sign or something?

A UN spokesman tells the Swiss News Agency that Libya submitted a proposal to the General Assembly calling for the dissolution of Switzerland last month. The proposal was never accepted or circulated because the U.N. Charter prohibits countries from threatening the existance of other member states.
In case you hadn’t gotten the message, Qaddafi really hates Switzerland:

Gaddafi first mentioned the idea of dismemberment during the G8 summit in Italy in July. Switzerland “is a world mafia and not a state”, he said, adding that it was “formed of an Italian community that should return to Italy, another German community that should return to Germany, and a third French community that should return to France”.

The source of the Libya-Switzerland beef is an incident last year involving Qaddafi’s ne’er-do-well son Hannibal. (See more about him in our list of the World’s Worst Sons.)The young Qaddafi was arrested at a hotel in Geneva for aggravated assault on two of his servants. His father responded by lodging a formal diplomatic complaint, expelling Swiss diplomats, and shutting down Swiss-owned businesses in Libya.

“World’s Worst Son?” Do your get a coffee mug with that? Is FP going to pay for the years of therapy he’ll need now? The guy already has freaking Gaddafi for a dad. Isn’t that enough harm? Anyway, wow, they just went to the UN and submitted a proposal calling for the dissolution of Switzerland. And Obama thinks he’s audacious. Obama’s terrified to tell the government why they have to care about poor people. Audacity my ass, Barack.

Don’t make me put on a donkey suit and give a healthcare reform news conference, Mr. President.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ok, that’s all for now! Thank you for reading and have a lovely weekend, mes amis!

6 Comments »

  1. Great Odds & Ends, poemless! And thanks for the link to your earlier ET diary about Putin & his paramour, which was before I became a regular at ET. Like the current post it is alternately hilarious and insightful.

    Comment by ARGeezer — September 4, 2009 @ 8:42 PM | Reply

    • Thanks so much!

      Comment by poemless — September 5, 2009 @ 12:14 PM | Reply

  2. Up to five years in prison for posting a youtube of a donkey giving a press conference? I do love the First Amendment. Is the youtube available?

    Comment by maryb — September 5, 2009 @ 9:07 AM | Reply

    • There is some video on the BBC website. I haven’t had a chance to look for it on youtube.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8233598.stm

      Freedom of speech is a curious thing. Years at ET have given me the impression that the unequivocal belief in it is a curiously American thing. And yes, we’re protected by laws, but we also have had things like the Sedition Act, the Patriot Act, libel laws and laws regarding hate crimes. (I know you are a lawyers and I don’t need to explain this…) I mean, I’ve yet to find a country with broader freedom of speech liberties than ours, but it’s still not blanket. I can’t speak for Azerbaijan, which I expect is totally fubar, but there are many countries which do have some type of law protecting freedom of speech but similar exceptions. It seems to me the difference is that freedom of speech is felt by most Americans to be at the essence of what it means to be an American, so when that freedom is threatened, it’s not just about politics or the rights of an individual, but something far more sacred. Even other countries with impressive freedom of speech laws take more practical view of it. France is the only place I can think of that comes close to America in their nationalistic approach to freedom of speech, but their positively idiotic laws about religious expression tell a different story.

      Comment by poemless — September 5, 2009 @ 12:13 PM | Reply

  3. Oh, boy — yet ANOTHER reason to hate Switzerland: it’s the model for the craptacular Max Baucus health “reform” plan:

    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/09/context-for-the-baucus-plan.php

    All that’s left is to find out Roger Federer’s on steroids and the Hatred of All Things Swiss (TM) can be completed.

    Comment by EdgewaterJoe — September 8, 2009 @ 11:30 PM | Reply

    • Yglesias: “if it were up to me Switzerland is about the last country I would choose to emulate.” Words of Wisdom….

      I don’t like Federer ; I am a huge fan of Rafa, so that would be completely out of the question. BTW, I’m conflicted between hoping Nadal recovers from his abdominal injury and wanting to see him need to take off his shirt in every match… That rocked!

      Oh look. Here’s a made for Odds & Ends scoop:

      Man arrested after running on court to kiss Rafael Nadal at U.S. Open

      “For me, it wasn’t a problem. The guy was really nice,” Nadal said. “He said, ‘I love you,’ and he kissed me.”

      Aw…

      Comment by poemless — September 9, 2009 @ 11:01 AM | Reply


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