Thursday, February 21, 2008

Yxoxy Ot Bac Ha Pblbanky

In search of a different perspective on the resignation of Fidel Castro I turn to my copy of Pravda, but then realise I can neither speak nor read Russian. It would be, I suppose, a perfect test case for machine translation but I can't be bothered manually feeding the text into on-line dialogue boxes so I decide to look at the pictures instead and use my imagination. There is a large cartoon at the top right of the page - Fidel with fishing rod saying something suitably cutting. But what? I like to think it is something like "They all think I'm retiring to go fishing, but I'm working on a plan to invade Miami",

Then there is a bar chart which features 25% very prominently. Could it be "Chances of being fried to death during the height of the cold war". And a picture of a thoughtful-looking JFK. Is he pondering the 1963 missile crisis or whether to support Clinton or Obama at the Democratic Convention?

And then I have a "good idea". Surely in this day and age Pravda has a website with a set of English pages. And there it is in all its' glory - boasting that it has been on-line since 1999. It is very flashy and very colourful. You can click on a direct link from the page to order a new Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe. Click another link and you can read a story about a nude woman buying petrol at a filling station. And there are, of course, several links to the latest stock exchange trends.

On mature reflection perhaps Castro - in the Pravda cartoon - is not stepping off the leadership stage in order to prepare his invasion of Cuba. Perhaps he is just setting some time aside to practice turning in his grave.

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