Joke Blog?

If there are any readers left, I apologize to them for the
hiatus. Life has intervened and every
day away makes the return a bit harder (and so I learn the hard way lessons
that are to be had for free from anybody who does this with any regularity). But banalities get us nowhere. A subsequent post will address some public
opinion and polling related questions—what this blog is really for—but there
are a few others that I wanted to post in the meantime

 First, two items sent to me by long ago Martin Butora,
now dated by my delinquence, but still displaying Martin’s consistent eloquence:

Second, a clever but
contentious pictoral joke. Its
interpretation depends not only on what readers think of Fico, but what they
think of Benedict XVI.


It is notable, by
the way, that as of the week before the election, there were surprisingly few
Fico jokes to be found online, especially compared to a significant number
about Dzurinda and an overwhelming number about Meciar. Either Fico is not funny or politicians in Slovakia only
become joke-worthy once in power. If the
latter—which I strongly suspect—then the coming months should bring some good
new material (and recycling of old jokes, one of them will inevitably have the
punchline, “God doesn’t think he’s Fico.” (For jokes from a previous era, see:

Third, Fico himself
made a joke reference in a recent news conference, but in an unexpected way, and one that was uncharacteristically (and therefore probably unintentionally) self-deprecating: 

Fica kritizujú za Líbyu, ten sa

, 24.2.2007
BRATISLAVA Fico tvrdí, ze na stretnutí s najvyssími líbyjskými
predstavitelmi bulharské sestricky podporil. Podla neho sa niektorí novinári na
Slovensku správajú ako rádio Jerevan, lebo "ja poviem, ze sa rozdávali
bicykle, a vy poviete, ze sa kradli autá". Vcera po kritike Fico uz o
zdravotníkoch hovoril ako o obvinených a nie o páchateloch.

In the form of the joke that I collected years ago, Radio Jerevan
is asked whether the government is giving away autos in Red Square in Moscow and
Radio Jerevan answers, "In principle, yes, only not Moscow but Leningrad, not
Red Square but the banks of the Neva, not autos but bikes, and they’re not
being given away but being stolen" Many
thanks to Sharon Fisher for finding the following, quite similar Slovak version:   

Otázka na radio Jerevan: "Je
pravda, že každý návštevník Cerveného námestia v
Moskve dostane auto?"
Odpoved: "V princípe áno. Avšak nejedná sa o Cervené námestie v Moskve,
ale o
námestie Gorkého v Kijeve. Tiež sa nejedná o autá, ale o bicykle. A nie sú
rozdávané, ale kradnuté."

This means not only that Fico has made the rather minor
mistake of switching bicycles and cars, but also that he has put himself in the
position of those (i.e. the Soviet state) who claim to be giving things away
and the reporters in the position of those who are actually telling the
unfortunate truth.