Putin and Chavez

Has anybody noticed how much alike the two guys are / were? (What is the tense you use when one is dead and one is alive?)

1. Both used the same single natural resource their countries have in abundance to buy the voters’ allegiance through a series of populist measures. Of course, these measures are not based on any real economic development but who cares, as long as you can do what the Russians refer to as “milking the pipe”?

2. Both used the same natural resource to buy allegiance from other countries.

3. Both engaged in very flamboyant and weird behavior.

4. One dressed in strange ways, another keeps undressing in strange situations.

5. Both promoted an aggressively nationalistic discourse which made them hugely loved by the less educated among the citizenry.

6. Both used an obnoxiously repetitive anti-US discourse in aid of their jingoistic push.

7. Both believed that an anti-US alliance was possible and necessary and promoted it by – surprise, surprise! – milking the pipe.

8. Both loved Ahmadinejad with a strange passion.

9. Both were really good at creating paranoid narratives of conspiracies and persecutions.

10. Both had a horrible personal taste.

11. Both go out of their way to spread rumors of their enormous virility.

There are some differences, as well, of course.

1. Chavez loved Cuba while Putin makes every effort to pretend it doesn’t exist (for obvious reasons).

2. C. used a fake Socialist rhetoric while P. makes a similar use of a fake capitalist discourse.

3. C. cultivated the image of a typical Western dictator (giving long, hysterical speeches, gesticulating a lot, presenting an image of a guy next door everybody can relate to), while P. relies more on the image of a typical Eastern dictator (communicating his will less through personal appearances than through his aides, speaking rarely, slowly, and quietly, creating an aura of mystery, presenting an image of inhuman strength and achievement.)

4. C. always looked like he was in need of some Ritalin while P. always looks like he is desperate for a hemorrhoids remedy.

If you can think of more differences or similarities, feel free to share.

On the Plane

On the advice of my doctor, I spent the entire flight to Madrid and back walking around the plane (and bugging the hell out of flight attendants). As a result, I couldn’t fail to observe what people were playing and reading.

The most popular game turned out to be solitaire. About 80% of people played it. This is very puzzling to me because I was sure that nobody played this very primitive game any longer. I had gone through a solitaire phase, too, but that was when we had very basic computers and no other games were available. Today, however, people use extremely sophisticated devices to play this simple game.

The most popular reading is the 50 Shades trilogy. This was also a surprising discovery. The only conceivable point of reading pornography is, as I always believed, to achieve a sexual release. Since that is not very possible on a plane (or am I too old and frumpy to know?), then why read the book? Do people actually read it for the plot? This thought is too scary.