Winnie the Pooh banned in Russia

A major WTF moment just out from The Moscow Times. Winnie the Pooh has made it on to a list of banned extremist material in Russia. As far as I can tell, here’s how it happened.

Regional courts from all over Russia submit lists of symbols, objects and materials that have been associated with arrested extremists. These lists are compiled into a master list that is distributed to all Russian police who can then consult the list when investigating other crimes. If any of these items on the list are found when a crime is being investigated, then additional charges of extremism can be levied:

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Thank you Mad Men…

Advertising executives often believe their images and snappy slogans are the defining drivers behind cultural change. This belief is solidified at events such as the Clio Awards which aim to “celebrate and reward creative excellence, honoring a powerful form of communication and its impact on modern culture“. After a gallon of sponsor’s champagne and a snout full of Colombian marching powder, the moist-eyed “creatives” pick up their statuettes, humbled in the knowledge that their “creative excellence” has changed the world.

Are they right?

Let’s turn back the glossy pages of history and find out….

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Dying Detroit — an update

Just a quick follow up to an earlier post on the slow abandonment and (potential) death of Detroit. This graph from Carpe Diem makes for interesting reading:


Just under $12K for a house compares to the Michigan statewide average of $94K. A thirty year mortgage on that amount works out at about $13 per week — for the price of a couple of six packs you can own your own home.

These plummeting numbers are far beyond what might be ascribed to the current recession. If prices have fallen that fast since 2003 and reached that low, it can only mean one thing: people are out of there.

Deadly Alien Alert!

The appearance of a heavily armed protester at an Obama event in Phoenix, Arizona has caused only the merest ripple in the mainstream media. They failed to follow up sources and dig deep enough to reveal the reptilian claw behind the protests.

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Binge drinking: Katherine Hepburn-style

New pandemic alert: binge drinking sweeps the Western world! The latest outbreak of binge drinking has erupted in Italy where:

Traditional restraints are breaking down, to the horror of parents, health authorities and the government, which has described the problem of alcohol abuse as a national emergency.

Where once becoming drunk was a social taboo and a cause for shame, it is now regarded by many young Italians as acceptable, even desirable.

The origin of the outbreak has been traced to . . .  the United Kingdom:

Having been introduced to the cheap shots, happy hours, and down-in-one drinking games of Anglo-American drinking culture, many Italians are now hooked.

Oh, the irony; only last month the Brits were looking to Italy for some help with this problem.

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Cocktail Time – The Manhattan

To the British, the cocktail has always been thought of as having American roots. A 1908 catalogue from Harrods, for example, featured two silver plated cocktail shakers advertised as being “for mixing American drinks”

The well-heeled English aristocracy would often holiday in New York and, presumably under the influence of these innovative concoctions, sometimes marry the inhabitants. Not that Lord Randolph Churchill required beer goggles to fall under the spell of Jennie Jerome. New money spoke volumes and Jennie was the daughter of Leonard Jerome –“The King of Wall Street” — and therefore qualified, in financial terms, as American aristocracy herself.

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The World’s Got Talent™

Like some nightmare cross between Victorian freak shows and old fashioned vaudeville theatre, the Got Talent television franchise continues its steady march across the airwaves of the world. Argentina, Finland, Croatia, South Africa. . .  the number of countries that have leapt aboard this entertainment juggernaut is now over 20 with new franchises, or straight copies of the format, being developed in a dozen more.

So what is it about this type of show that so appeals to modern audiences?

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Robot hookers in our future

This from tourism futurologist Ian Yeoman, from Victoria University in New Zealand, speaking at a conference on tourism:

“Robotics will become important, because you’re going to have labour shortages in the future,” he said. “You’ll have some sort of interaction in terms of robots doing certain types of mundane activities.”

Even robot “prostitutes” that would not pass on diseases such as HIV could make an appearance, he said.

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Eurovision Song Contest and Patriotism

An Orwellian ‘Big Brother’ moment out of Azerbaijan:

Forty-three people in Azerbaijan who voted for a song by neighbouring Armenia in the Eurovision Song Contest have been questioned by the police.

One man told the BBC he was accused of being unpatriotic and a “potential security threat”, after he sent a text backing Armenia’s song, Jan Jan.

Although amusing, these sorts of stories always make me wonder about the mindset of people who achieve nationally significant positions of power. Is their grip on power so tenuous that they need to monitor who their citizenry vote for in a song contest? Are the government really using resources to read everyone’s phone texts? How distorted has their sense of patriotism become?

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Won’t somebody please think of the children?

I still remember the first proper book I ever bought for myself. It was set in an enchanting, fantasy land.

It was Comet in Moominland by Finnish writer, Tove Jansson and when that first copy eventually disintegrated under the strain of multiple readings, I bought a new one; I still read it once every couple of years, and I often recommend it to parents with kids keen to read. As a child I was drawn to the eccentric characters, the whimsical nature of the world they lived in and the sense that this world was designed and drawn by a person who truly understood me.

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Sex Sells

It’s the oldest cliche in the ad business right? Whether it is true or not is neither here nor there.

How did these sensual neural impulses evolve that arouse consumers, then inspire them to drive to a store and buy crap they don’t need instead of lathering themselves with baby oil and leaping into a hot tub filled with like-minded individuals? Perhaps it’s simply a case of “If I can’t have sex with someone I may as well do the next best thing… go to the mall.”

It seems ridiculous, right? But, as is the way with many cliches, if everyone believes it is true, then believe something different at your peril.

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Abandoned cities: the slow death of Detroit

Abandoned and lost cities–from Petra in Jordan to Machu Picchu in Peru–have long captured the imagination of adventurers, writers, historians and scientists. The idea that once thriving places are just left to be reclaimed by nature is both romantic and mysterious. What adds to the mystery is that even within cultures that have recorded histories, the reasons for such abandonments are often lost.

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From Jedi to Dude-ism

Jedi grew into a (tongue-in-cheek) religion following the vast popularity of the Star Wars movies. Now Volkswagen are trying to do the same with the cult classic Coen Brothers movie The Big Lebowski. Based on the zen-like attitude of the film’s main character, ‘The Dude’, the car company promotes the new religion of Dude-ism.

I guess it goes to show the power of movies as modern day mythmakers!

When Fundamentalists Go Wild

G. W. Bush and the Invasion of Iraq

Extraordinary story from the Charleston Gazette  about the evangelical mood influencing foreign policy under the Bush administration, particularly leading up to the invasion of Iraq:  

Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse. Continue reading

Kitty Porn

This story just in is a modern variation on the old ‘dog ate my homework’  excuse.

 Man Blames Cat for Porn Download

 JENSEN BEACH (Aug 10, 2009) — A Florida man says his cat was responsible for 1000 child porn images found on his computer.

Florida investigators say a man accused of downloading child pornography is blaming his cat. Continue reading