March 29, 2005

Next Week: Elvis Sighted At Moscow McDonalds!

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, Pravda (literally, 'Truth') was the daily newspaper of the Communist Party. Well, times change, and what once was translated as 'Truth' can now be translated as 'Weekly World News.' Here are some of the stories currently on their Science/Health front page:

Mortals and saints can remain physically immortal after death:

Medical experts state that imperishable remains of senior lama of East Siberian Buddhists, Dasha-Dorjo Itigelov who died in 1927 are similar to tissues of a living man

Russian scientists have confirmed the lama remains are imperishable. However, skeptical people hardly believe this.

Khambo lama Dasha-Dorjo Itigelov (1852-1927) died not far from the Russian city of Ulan-Ude, the place where the well-known Ivolginsk datsan (spiritual center for Russian Buddhists) was built in 1947. When dying, the lama bequeathed that his sarcophagus must be opened some time later to see in what condition the remains would be. The lama died meditating sitting in the lotus pose, the way typical of a yoga leader.

. . .

Buddhists say that only the most advanced yoga can fall into some particular condition before death and purify themselves so that his dead body could not decay. They also say that besides Itigelov's body, there are just three intact remains of Buddhist saints who are kept in China, India and Vietnam.
Pray forgive me for the sacrilige of wondering how someone has the ability to purify their body against decay, but not have the ability to prevent their death altogether.

Next, Bat-Boy's second cousin - Mysterious amphibious human-like creature spotted in the Caspian Sea:

For the last two years residents of coastal areas around the southern and southwestern Caspian Sea have been reporting of some amphibious creature resembling a human being. In March this year an eyewitness account from the crew of the Baku, an Azeri trawler, was published by Iranian newspaper Zindagi: "That creature was swimming parallel course near the boat for a long time," said Gafar Gasanof, a captain of the ship.

"At the beginning we thought it was a big fish, but then we spotted hair on the head of the monster and his fins looked pretty strange... the front part of his body was equipped with arms!" said the captain. Back in Azerbaijan, nobody took his story seriously. It sounded ridiculous to those who thought that the guy must have been drinking while on board.

On the contrary, shortly after the publication of his interview, the offices of the Iranian paper got flooded with numerous letters of the readers who claimed that the story was yet another piece of evidence proving the existence of the so-called "man of the sea." The readers pointed out that many fishermen had repeatedly seen the strange creature at sea and on shore after the seabed volcanoes in the area of Babolsera had come to life in February and offshore oil production operations had intensified in the Caspian.
And from the looks of things, he's quite the ladies' man - er, merman:
All the eyewitness accounts provide a similar description of the marine humanoid. His height is 165-168 cm, he has a strong build, a protruding ctenoid stomach, his feet are pinniped and he has four webbed fingers on either of his hands. His skin is of moonlight color. The hair on his head looks black and green. His arms and legs are shorter and heavier than those of a medium-built person. Apart from his fingernails, he has nails growing on the tip of his aquiline nose that look like a dolphin's beak. No information as to his ears. His eyes are large and orbicular. The mouth of the creature is fairly large, his upper jaw is prognathic and his lower lip flows smoothly into the neck, his chin is missing.

And I won't even get into Laser-Boy sees people's illnesses in mirror, 'Pharaoh's curse' punished two families that owned a once stolen amulet, or Russian man becomes healer after his own death!

Posted by Chris at March 29, 2005 12:34 PM

Category: Media Stupidity

It seems you have already realized this from the story you wrote about, but Pravda is no longer considered to be even the bad imitation of "actual news" that it was in Soviet days. It is as you implied now, an unabashed tabloid. In case you are interested, "real" news (such as it is these days in Russia), can be found at or (My in-laws are Ukrainian immigrants, so I keep up on these things.)

Posted by: Erik at April 2, 2005 10:57 AM