Zooming In

August 22, 2006

Sexing Up The News

Gelf highlights overlooked coverage from local media around the world. In this edition: retro communistic Czech chique; a baby panda blog; and vigilante Johannesburg justice.

David Goldenberg

Zooming In
Paul Antonson
Some of the most insightful writing from outside the U.S. comes from local media. In this occasional feature, Gelf identifies noteworthy stories that haven't gotten much attention outside local borders.


During a newscast about the Israel-Hezbollah ceasefire (about 4 minutes into this YouTube clip), the public broadcasting channel SVT displayed hard-core pornography on the bottom right screen of a bank of televisions behind the presenter. It was, or course, entirely accidental. According to the Associated Press, some employees had been watching a sports show earlier on the channel Canal Plus, which often switches to pornographic shows after dark. The accidentally re-broadcast movie was a Czech film called Sex Tails, which features both oral and anal sex. "I am shocked and upset," Magnus Åkerlund, a boss at SVT, told The Local. "It is crazy."

Czech Republic

An article in the Prague Post highlights the resurgence of old communist-era Czech brands in the marketplace. Kofola, a Czech soft drink, has seen its sales quintuple in the past six years. A combination of patriotism and nostalgia has also driven sales of old-school Czech shoes, watches, and even motorcycles. "Marketing researchers also tend to say that it's an indicator that Czechs are saturated with Western brands and no longer regard them as symbol of prestige," Kristina Alda, who wrote the article, tells Gelf. "As post-communist countries become more westernized, they grow less infatuated with the West."


Why are European powers so reluctant to devote soldiers to the UN peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon? According to one very weird article in the Asia Times, the reason has something to do with Europe's extremely low birthrate. The writer, who goes by the pseudonym Spengel, has a history of offering up unconventional yet well-backed explanations for turmoil in the Middle East. (Over at Gene Expression, one of the guesses as to this masked writer's identity is Nick Land, an expat British philosophy professor living in China.) In this case, he (or she) claims that a dwindling demography makes Europeans hesitant to sustain any unnatural losses. "A people without progeny will not accept a single military casualty," Spengler writes. "If this generation is the last, there will be no children for whom to sacrifice."


OK, so perhaps this is just an excuse for Gelf to talk about a really cute animal (charismatic megafauna mentions are, after all, the easiest way to draw in readers), but the newest panda at the breeding center in southwest China's Sichuan Province is, well really cute. And Gelf knows that because researchers at the center have created a blog to document its first few weeks of life. According to Xinhua, the blog, entitled "Baby Panda Home," is written from the point of view of the young female cub. As all of the Chinese characters on the blog are represented by question marks in Gelf's browser, we're only able to focus on the pictures. Which are really cool (who knew that a baby panda looks like a naked mole rat?) and, yeah, cute.

South Africa

The article in the Mail & Guardian is titled, "Cellphone picture lands alleged hijacker behind bars," but boy, did the editors bury the lead! As it turns out, a guy who got carjacked decided to borrow a minibus and chase down the armed carjackers and get into a shootout with them—all this over a Volkswagen Golf. The guy whose car was stolen somehow managed to catch one of the alleged carjackers and throw him into the minibus. That carjacker subsequently escaped by climbing out of the window, but he lost his camera phone, which I guess included some pictures that allowed police to track him down easier. So, yeah, the camera may have helped, but doesn't the role of ridiculous vigilante justice in this story deserve to be mentioned a little higher up?

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Article by David Goldenberg

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