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Odds & Ends: End of Rant? Edition

by poemless Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 02:02:21 PM EST

Contents:  Adventures in Capitalism ; The Gordon Brown/Misha Khodorkovsky Beauty School Face-off ; Category: Things you might find at an NRA brunch ; How do you say, "Scooby Snacks" in Russian? ; Cured Meat ... and much much more.  Plus, Viggo Mortensen.

"That Loud Sound You Hear is Capitalism, Democracy, the BBC Sucking ..."

As of about 5 hours ago I have completely exhausted every comment, insight, rant, brilliant revelation or cynical witticism I could ever possibly make in relation to these topics.  From now on Odds & Ends will be agit-prop free.  

Listen closely, can you hear its breath getting weaker, more delayed?  Such a tragedy to pass so young...  "Hold on, Odds & Ends.  You can't go just yet!  That charming Putin fellow still has a few months left in office, and Viggo Mortensen is hopefully going to be on the Oscars this weekend.  Don't die on us now..."


1. "Uniquely American, isn't it?"

The other day I asserted that Capitalism is the economic incarnation of evil.  You might think I feel that way because of its impact on people in 3rd world countries or out of some romantic ideological feelings about Marx or something.  Wrong.  Capitalism is evil because I don't have enough money.  I need more money.  I'm not one of those Communists who thinks they should be paid just to be alive.  (Well, kinda I do.)  I have a disturbingly strong work ethic as a result of American political indoctrination.  Combined with my stunning brilliance, I should be a poster-girl for Capitalist success.  Obviously, as I am reduced to begging, I am not.  Ergo -> Capitalism is a big bloody lie, people!  

My point is, I need some part time work.  If there's something you need done, and I can do it, and you will pay me, and it is legal, do drop me a line.  

OMG!!!  Was that just a rant on Capitalism?  It's alive!  It's a miracle of modern blogging!  Odds & Ends will live to see another day!!  And more Viggo Mortensen movies!

2. Philosophical Question of the Week

The first and possibly last in a new series.

Q: Why will Gordon Brown not comb/brush his hair?

Or does he?  Is he just using the wrong product?  Is it some social statement or some ploy to win the hearts and minds of the British unwashed?  I have noticed that the British are ... less uptight about how their hair looks than most cultures.  Most other cultures that don't put much time or effort into their hair are so because they just have good genes, like the Swedes.  Can't really mess up straight blond hair.  But Gordon Brown's hair is belligerently out of control.  Not in a rebellious, intentional way, but in the way of the guy who rolls out of bed in the morning, pulls on yesterday's jeans, and goes into work.  You know, the guy everyone starts watching for the fleck of gunk in his hair day after day. (Psst. Did you see?  It's still there! Hahaha.)  Has anyone told Gordon Brown that he is a Prime Minister?  That people can see him, what he looks like, his hair?  

Does Gordon Brown not realize he's blessed with a lot of hair, and many men are not so lucky?  Like Jerome a Paris or VVP, for example.  It's as if he resents his hair.  Don't you get that feeling?  Maybe he should shave it all off and give it to a cancer charity if he hates it so much.  Or... maybe it hates him.  Maybe it's just trying to get away from him.  I bet that's it.  That's what it looks like.  Like his hair is actually struggling to pull itself out of his scalp!

Anyway, most unfortunate business name ever: Gordon Brown Hair Studio.  I wonder, do they offer haircuts or 12 week intensive obedience classes?  

Maybe Gordon Brown should go to the Misha Khodorkovsky School of Beauty.  Known in Russia as "prison."

Before:  Scary anyone would actually trust this guy with their money.  Would you?

After:  Is this even the same person?  Mr. Putin, let him free!  You've got the wrong man!

Wow.  Extreme Makeover: Prisoner Edition.  Just one more in a long list of "Putin's Russia" success stories.  How'd they do that, anyway?  Are they putting tanning beds in prison cells over there now?  They're just that flush with cash?  

Maybe the Brits are pissing off Russia in the hopes Putin get mad enough to do something to fix Gordon's hair.

3. Hey. Is Misha losing it?  Kommersant: Russia Is the Occupied State for Khodorkovsky

According to Khodorkovsky, quite a few different thinkers arrived at one and the same conclusion - mentality of the Russians, the relations of people and elite, the place of special services in public life are characteristic not for the country at war but rather for the occupied country.

Since the time of Tatar and Mongolian invasion, Khodorkovsky went on, the nation has humbled that authorities owe nothing, they don't make any agreements with people, collecting taxes not for the common targets but as a tribute, for what they aren't accountable. It is the tradition of many centuries, former Yukos CEO pointed out.

"The freedom-loving people attempted to act differently - joining the elite, moving to the East, to the North, but hardly anything has changed in mentality of majority because of it," Khodorkovsky explained.

Huh?  He looks fabulous, yes, but I worry about mental deterioration.  Bob, get this boy some crosswords and sudokus.  Stat!  And tell him to spend less time in the tanning beds and more time writing that thousand page novel about his oppression.

Speaking of oligarchs, I did a "What to get an Oligarch for Christmas" story (with some help from James at Robertamsterdam.com.)  Christmas, New Years and Valentines Day have all come and gone.  But why wait for a special occasion to get the gangster in your life a special something to show how much you care?  The latest firm catering to this target (gulp) market brings us ... gun-themed breakfast! (Hat tip: Ananova.com)

Even bad guys need a good shot of protein in the morning.  </ducks, runs...>

Hong Kong-based Urban Trend has designed a range of gun-shaped egg fryers which it says will be shooting into stores later this year.
Customers will be able to serve up their eggs in a variety of weapon shapes, including a Magnum .45 and a Uzi.

"Whatever the reason, gun-shaped objects seem to be all the rage these days," a company spokesman said.

Just this morning over a cup of coffee I read that Stalin said 3 things were needed to overthrow the Tsar:  1) Guns.  2) More Guns.  3) Guns, Guns Guns...  Said nothing about eggs, though.

4. Moscow Rules:  Another Reason to Remain Cheerful About Russia.

Yesterday a colleague emailed me:

"[the client's] CEO was shot (but not killed) last week, so the [deal] is a bit postponed :( "

(I think adding the emoticon is a nice finishing touch, don't you?)

This one line email gave me a bit of a boost as:

  • The guy lived, right?
  • It has been ages since a client of mine has been shot; years in fact, which illustrates that the so-called Wild, Wild East is becoming a normal business environment just like everywhere else (oh yes! Brittle smile... )

In fact, this email came from our Kyiv office, which is an even more important reason to be cheerful for Russians therefore. No nasty shootings with our Russian clients, oh no! But in touchy-feely, oh-so-democratic Ukraine? Um... business-by-bullet is still occasionally an issue there.

Probably there is no more eloquent testimony to President Putin's success in bringing order and safety to Russia than the fall in the numbers of (intentional) corporate killings.

Barack:  "Yes We Can!"  
Dima:  "(Intentional) Corporate Killings are Waaay Down!  Rock On!"

From the same post:

Favourite word of the day? ДЕМШИЗА - Demshiza; a nice mélange of democrat and schizophrenic. It's what United Russia-types call the pro-Kasparov loons. Seemingly, with cause.

Kasparov is suing Nashi on behalf of his honor and dignity and something else I forget what.  News of which spawned a funny little thread on Sean's Russia Blog.  "And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids!" LOL.  

5. Polish Salt Caves

Know anything about them?  They are supposed to be all the rage in alternative medicine now.  The salt is from the Black Sea.  I guess they are "Polish" because that's who runs them...  Sitting in the salt cave is supposed to cure you of colds and such.

I'm really curious!  They look so cool.  Just exactly like what you think a salt mine in Poland looks like.  If you are on acid.

Oh.  God.  "Cure."  "Salt."  ???  They're curing humans ... with salt?!  Like ... pork?!!  OMG.  Someone stop these cannibalistic maniacs now, before the Poles are ordering their gun-shaped eggs over easy with a side of young gullible Chicagoan!

6. The Nation Archives.  Rocking my world.

From the July 31, 1920 issue:

Soon after my arrival in Moscow I had an hour's conversation with Lenin in English, which he speaks fairly well. An interpreter was present, but his services were scarcely required. Lenin's room is very bare: it contains a big desk, some maps on the walls, two book-cases, and one comfortable chair for visitors in addition to two or three hard chairs. It is obvious that he has no love of luxury or even comfort. He is very friendly and apparently simple, entirely without a trace of hauteur. If one met him without knowing who he was, one would not guess that he is possessed of great power or even that he is in any way eminent. I have never met a personage so destitute of self-importance. He looks at his visitors very closely, and screws up one eye, which seems to increase alarmingly the penetrating power of the other. He laughs a great deal; at first his laugh seems merely friendly and jolly, but gradually I came to feel it rather grim. He is dictatorial, calm, incapable of fear, extraordinarily devoid of selfseeking, an embodied theory. The materialistic conception of history, one feels, is his life-blood. He resembles a professor in his desire to have the theory understood and in his fury with those who misunderstand or disagree, as also in his love of expounding. I got the impression that he despises a great many people and is an intellectual aristocrat.

~~~~~~

Ok, that's all for today.  Have a lovely weekend.  I'll be home watching the Oscars for the fashion, and to root for Viggo.  Who will not win.  Because no one I like ever wins anything.  Unless they start a war in Chechnya or something.  Sucks...

Viggo as (hot) Russian bad guy (with big heart) in Eastern Promises:

Go rent it.  Did I mention the banya scene?  

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That first picture is the very same picture my son just used for a history project he's done for school on the Soviet liberation of Berlin.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 02:12:10 PM EST
We're both obviously very adept at googling images...  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 02:25:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for that Bertrand Russell piece. Fascinating...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 02:45:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't it?  Here's some more (for those who don't click links...)

An extraordinary contrast to both these men was Gorky, with whom I had a brief interview in Petrograd. He was in bed, apparently dying and obviously heartbroken. He begged me, in anything I might say about Russia, always to emphasize what Russia has suffered. He supports the government--as I should do, if I were a Russian--not because he thinks it faultless but because the possible alternatives are worse. One felt in him a love of the Russian people which makes their present martyrdom almost unbearable, and prevents the fanatical faith by which the pure Marxians are upheld. I felt him the most lovable, and to me the most sympathetic, of all the Russians I saw. I wished for more knowledge of his outlook, but he spoke with difficulty and was constantly interrupted by terrible fits of coughing, so I could not stay.

I find it very trying to sit down and read a history book.  Most of the history I know has been told to me or I've picked up studying film or literature.  But with source material I am kid in an a candy store.  Closest thing to being there, perhaps.  Reminds me of something a friend said the other night when we were watching the eclipse: we intellectually know about the planets and their orbits and the sun, etc. but to actually witness some evidence of it still takes your breath away.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 03:12:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Went to look for the picture, and my eyes managed to filter out the black and white one.  which caused some confusion when I arrived at the first colour one...

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 03:07:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even better than your normal high standard. Compulsive viewing for the cybergypsies...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 02:14:29 PM EST
And yet no recommend?  Tease.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 02:26:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh alright, then...God knows you don't need that much encouragement, in spite of your protestations. An audience of one is qute enough.

Writing is a skill that needs constant practice. ET is a jog round the park. Let's see when the marathon comes around...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 02:54:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, don't underestimate the amount of encouragement I require.

You're expecting a marathon?  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 03:13:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When poetry hits the fan, and more people realise that charts and facts and analyses don't cut it. When soundbites are haiku and slogans are e.e. cummings. Of course the people are not with us - never will be. Such is life as a cybernaut...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 03:31:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By way of further encouragement here's an extra-special clap-clap award from me: a copy of my favorite pic of Lenin's cat -

Btw, anyone know the cat's name??

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 07:53:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm, all the refferences I can find say it's unnamed.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 08:24:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He was ashamed to admit that his cat's name was Tinkles.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 03:31:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Catski?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 09:03:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was an old lady on our street, when I was a kid, who had a goitre. That is an enlarged thyroid gland, resulting often from a complete lack of the trace element copper (Cu) in the local well water supply. The disease was common in Derbyshire for that reason.

Since I lived in one of the 5 Danelaw towns and didn't understand geology, I thought this was a risk, and resolved to pack my body with trace elements. This ultimately lead to a belief in spices as assurance that all trace elements are present in my system. My shelves are full of lesser-used spices like sumac and turmeric for rice cookng, or dried mint and nutmeg. Last time I counted I had 120 spices (some of course past their SBD).

I don't think I've measured anything in cooking for 10 years. It is intuitive, and as far as spicing goes, depends totally on aroma: I rarely taste anything as it is cooking. There are some basic smell tips based on sweet/sour balance, but most of it is like a colour wheel - there are neighbouring colours and complementary colours.

When I think say, of broccoli, a number of neighbouring spices come to mind like aijwan or nutmeg. But then one starts to think of complementary spices. It is possible to imagine a melange in one's mind.

It is a risky business. Many spices are volatile and change with cooking time. Garlic and chili are a good examples. But I always announce my dishes as 'experimental'. That way noone is disaappointed - and the further away the dishes are from classic reference dishes, the easier it becomes.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 02:49:22 PM EST
I'm completely the opposite. It isn't that I don't like spices, but I don't know what to use and it never occurs to me to even put salt in anything.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 03:30:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
There was an old lady on our street, when I was a kid, who had a goitre. That is an enlarged thyroid gland, resulting often from a complete lack of the trace element copper (Cu) in the local well water supply. The disease was common in Derbyshire for that reason.
You mean Iodine (I).

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 27th, 2008 at 10:42:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just keep thinking back to a story I read growing up by Margery Sharp, Miss Bianca in the Salt Mines. Miss Bianca, Bernard, and the other mice spend a lot of time living in the mine in miniature buildings carved from salt as they try to think up of a plan to rescue poor Teddy-Age-Eight.

That and Bernard's suicide attempt thwarted by being too buoyant in the salt mine's underground lake. Come to think of it... I can see why the publishers let The Rescuers books drift out of print. Still they were a lot of fun to read way back when.

by Magnifico on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 03:06:51 PM EST
I'd far rather see Gordon Brown's bizarky (I made that word up) hair than the highly coiffured, rock solid, unbudgeable, 'perfect' hair of the likes of Tony Blair.

I'm a person who doesn't bother much about what my hair chooses to do when it wakes up, and if I'm going to put trust in people based on their hair, I'll go for Gordon Brown over Tony Blair, anyday. Admittedly, that isn't the best indicator of leadership and competence but given that everything in the media these days is an utter lie, I may as well go by hair does or don'ts.

It was only a few weeks ago that a fairly drunk me was standing in a takeaway after a match surrounded by Sloanie type lads who were clearly students and have far to much money to splash around (which is wrong, just completely unfair).  Their hair was very clearly styled through both the expensive trendy cut and highlights and with copious amounts of hair products visible.  Absolutely perfect if you like that kind of thing.

As they walked out, all cocky and arrogant after having been rude to the staff behind the counter, I noted to my friend that "they spend more on their hair than I do on food." Which everybody heard and tried to stifle laughs over.

As for the Polish salt mines. I want to know if it is warm or cold in there?  You won't catch me sat out on a sunlounger with no warmth about the place.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 03:43:29 AM EST
Seconded..

after all.. he finally did waht eh was supposed to do after so much not doing it with the Rock bank...

I doubt Blair would have done it..

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 09:04:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, so much for being in favor of freedom of expression, I suppose.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 05:02:51 PM EST


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