poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

October 12, 2009

Speaking of Congratulations

Congrats to Liliya Shobukhova, the woman who won the Chicago marathon yesterday, and Lidiya Grigoryeva, who came in 3rd. Both women are from Russia and both complain that Chicago is TOO COLD. LOL!

Grigoryeva, the defending champion, agreed that Russia deserves its reputation as a cold place “most of the time” but added: “It was still too cold here for the marathon. When I left Russia, I thought it would be summertime (in Chicago), very warm weather.”

The only native Russian who didn’t find it too cold to race Sunday was women’s wheelchair winner Tatyana McFadden, born in St. Petersburg and adopted at 6 by a Maryland family.

“I put on tons of layers and didn’t think about the cold,” she said.

It was colder in Chicago, with temperatures in the 30s during the elite runners’ time on the course, than it was Sunday in Shobukhova’s hometown, Beloretsk, near the Ural Mountains, or in Grigoryeva’s hometown, Cheboksary, 400 miles east of Moscow, according to data on a weather Web site.

“My time was very disappointing,” Shobukhova said. “I was expecting to break the Russian record, but it was too cold.”

No matter what the weather had been, it would have been even more remarkable for Shobukhova, 31, to break that record than it was to win in only her second marathon in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 56 seconds.

The Russian record, 2:20.47, was set by another runner from Beloretsk, Galina Bogomolova, at the 2006 Chicago Marathon.

“Not today. Too cold,” Shobukhova said.

Even the Russians think Chicago is too cold. What the hell are we doing living here, people?

Better question, what were 45,000 people, many of whom were wearing little more than support bras and spandex shorts, thinking running 26 miles in below freezing temps? I’ve always been suspicious of runners, who think this activity is some kind of sport when there are real people out there who actually have real things to run from. Like bears, stray dogs, little brothers or even the law. Now I think we have confirmation that runners are completely nuts. Yesterday morning, sane people were in their warm homes, in warm pj’s, drinking warm beverages and watching the marathon on TV! 🙂

Strangely, the winning male runner, Samuel Wanjiru, who is from freaking Kenya, did not make a big deal about the below freezing temps.

And since I’m on a spree here…

Congratulations to Sean, who has … (drum roll) … finished his dissertation! I don’t know about you, but I think “We Shall Refashion Life on Earth! The Political Culture of the Communist Youth League, 1918-1928” will become required reading for everyone, and in particular myself, who wants to know anything about anything, and in particular about the Communist Youth League!

And no. I will not congratulate President Obama on his Nobel Peace Prize. Though I will congratulate the comics who came up with responses like, “The audacity of Norwegian hope,” and, “There’s no white guilt like Scandinavian white guilt.” Other people I won’t congratulate: German football players, because I’m mean. Joaquim Crima, because he appears to have been defeated. Although I guess I can congratulate him on running a fascinating campaign. And United Russia, because although I congratulate them on their fine (and I do mean fine) choice of leadership, they seem to be missing the point, which is that you are supposed to win without looking like you cheated! Even Dima had problems trying to vote, guys!

Ok, that’s all for now. Feel free to add/withhold your own congratulations.


  1. Well, after being stunned myself by the choice of Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize, I have been persuaded by Rachel Maddow that it was actually well deserved. And Michael Moore’s second thoughts were also illuminating.

    For all the work that needs to be done still, he has come a long way from the Bush belligerence. Wouldn’t you have given it to him just for scrapping that stupid missile defense project in Poland (wasn’t that the plan? Am I confused?)?

    So though you won’t, I will say congratulations to Obama on his Nobel Peace Prize. Now live up to its promise, dammit.

    Comment by Melissa — October 12, 2009 @ 4:14 PM | Reply

    • If deciding to postpone a plan to build missile defense system that doesn’t work in a country where it isn’t needed during a serious recession gets you a Nobel Peace Prize, they are setting the bar a little low. But I don’t think that’s why he got it.

      I don’t agree with those who say he’s done nothing, and I understand the “motivation” argument. But as I told Holly, until we’re out of Afghanistan & Iraq, until we’ve stopped arming unstable countries, until we’ve made quantifiable progress in combating economic disparity at home and abroad, I don’t think ANY American President deserves this. I’m reminded of the Chris Rock routine about people getting kudos for staying out of jail. “What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having motherfucker!” Ok, so that’s harsh, and now someone will call me a racist because Obama is also black. Whatever. I think even Obama can appreciate my sentiment here. We congratulate leaders of all backgrounds when they don’t blow up other countries? You are not SUPPOSED to blow up other countries! Obama might feel forced to live up to the award, other people might feel encouraged to take the first few steps he has, or everyone might just think, “Well, heh, no one is banking on real nuclear disarmament or the end of the wars any time soon. Whew. Weight off our back. LOL.”

      I just think it sends the wrong message. Don’t get me wrong. I think Obama is a peaceful dude and has the potential to effect real change. Has the world become more peaceful in the last 10 months? I don’t know. I know people are less scared. But then you get into the “he got it because he is NOT a war criminal.”

      Mind you, I am not ready to gang up on Obama or dismiss his achievements either. I just think there is a large gulf between appreciating the effort and awarding a freaking Nobel Peace Prize. Since when did NOT getting a Nobel make anyone less a person?

      Comment by poemless — October 12, 2009 @ 4:58 PM | Reply

  2. Thanks for the congratulations! It was very sweet of you.

    Comment by Sean — October 13, 2009 @ 10:33 AM | Reply

    • It’s very impressive of you, Dr. Guillory.

      Comment by poemless — October 14, 2009 @ 1:13 PM | Reply

  3. Congratulations to Novaya Gazeta for winning their defense against the spurious libel charges brought by the grandson of Stalin. I know the Russian government must be very disapointed that their campaign to rehabilitate Stalin has met a small setback. But, for those of us who support human rights it is an important victory.

    Comment by J. Otto Pohl — October 14, 2009 @ 5:16 AM | Reply

    • And congratulations to the court for making a responsible decision to recognize the libel charge as frivolous and throwing out the case. Also, it is important to remember that Stalin’s grandson brought the case, I assume for the money, but perhaps for the pride as well, and not the government. I have a difficult time imagining that the likes of the president or pm are sitting up at night lamenting this development. Still, the inscription in the metro station and the textbook account of Stalin as an effective leader still stand, correct? So I see this more as a win for freedom of the press and sanity of the judicial system, than a loss for the administration. I simply won’t accept the kind of binary approach that sees every win for Novaya Gazetta as a loss for the Kremlin, and the reverse. That seems a bit petty and egotistical to me. Of course, I also think a phrase like “bloodthirsty cannibal” is a little too artistic for anyone claiming to be a serious journalist. I wonder if their goal leans more toward muckraking or toward informing the public and holding officials accountable. It is a fine line & I don’t know which side they fall on.

      But a win for freedom of speech and freedom of the press is indeed a win for human rights. Congratulations are in order.

      Comment by poemless — October 14, 2009 @ 1:33 PM | Reply

      • Speaking of bloodthirsty cannibal this book sounds interesting: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n15/disk01_.html

        Comment by Sean — October 16, 2009 @ 1:42 PM | Reply

        • I have a strange obsession with cannibalism. I’m not in favor of it, mind you… I am just fascinated with stories like the Donner Party or those football players who crashed in the Andes. It’s horrific. The psychology of it is intriguing and terrifying. I read The Taste of a Man by Slavenka Drakulić. It wasn’t very good, actually…

          Comment by poemless — October 17, 2009 @ 11:58 AM | Reply

  4. “I know the Russian government must be very disapointed that their campaign to rehabilitate Stalin has met a small setback. But, for those of us who support human rights it is an important victory.”


    Like the Russian government making it mandatory for state schools to teach the Gulag Archipelago?

    Sorry, but I find the above excerpted to be an unscholarly and misinformative outburst, befitting of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

    Comment by Wrangel — October 17, 2009 @ 2:52 AM | Reply

    • I’m inclined to agree. But many people have these ideas like Mr. Pohl, so I think it might be more constructive to try to understand why rather than dismissing them outright.

      Comment by poemless — October 17, 2009 @ 12:00 PM | Reply

  5. What campaign to rehabilitate Stalin?

    Comment by DOOM!!!! — October 17, 2009 @ 4:46 AM | Reply

    • I think “rehabilitate” is being used here to mean “recognize any remotely significant role he played in Russian history in a way that does not completely demonize him.”

      Comment by poemless — October 17, 2009 @ 12:11 PM | Reply

  6. A fairly major online Russian language media source –


    That subject has been discussed elsewhere in Russian media.

    Comment by Wrangel — October 17, 2009 @ 8:50 AM | Reply

    • “Следует избегать “черно-белого” истолкования исторических событий.”

      Of course. But I’m not sure defending a Nazi collaborator (as I gather Vlasov was, from this article – unless I’ve misunderstood) is any better than defending Stalin…

      Comment by poemless — October 17, 2009 @ 12:08 PM | Reply

  7. More than meets the eye.

    Regardless, it shows that Russia isn’t so so fostering of Stalinist advocacy.

    Comment by Wrangel — October 17, 2009 @ 2:17 PM | Reply

  8. One can counter that Satlin was at one time “a Nazi collaborator,” who was responsible for more Russian deaths than Vlasov.

    Academically, there’s much more than meets the eye on that observation.

    This is similarly true when evaluating Vlasov.

    Comment by Wrangel — October 17, 2009 @ 2:20 PM | Reply

  9. First of all it is Dr. Pohl not Mr. Pohl. Second of all what do you think the Russian government’s attempt to imprison Professor Mikhail Suprun for four years is all about? His crime is researching the names and circumstances of death of Russian-Germans who died in Gulag camps and special settlements in Arkhangelsk Oblast. The only possible reason to supress this information is to whitewash the Stalin regime. Putting historians and archivists in prison for four years for doing their job is in itself Stalinist behaivor.

    Comment by J. Otto Pohl — October 19, 2009 @ 1:27 AM | Reply

  10. Dr. Pohl

    There are a number of trends showing that the Russian government is not seeking to “rehabilitate Stalin” as you stated.

    Stalinist behavior can refer to people who are not necessarily fond of Stalin.

    Stalinist behvior can include an unwritten understanding of what is and is not preferred at a good number of academic and media establishments. That particular issue is not exclusively relegated to Russia.

    In a certain sense, the greater censorship is the one not getting discussed.

    Merantime, I think it is inaccurate to say that “the Russian government must be very disappointed that their campaign to rehabilitate Stalin has met a small setback.”

    Comment by Wrangel — October 19, 2009 @ 8:54 AM | Reply

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