Dwarf monkeys, photo: Mistvan, CC BY 3.0 Unported

Former prime minister Jiří Paroubek’s wife writes an online “Ode to a Husband”; a young Czech designer creates a rocking chair that produces electricity; how many knedlíky do you reckon the King of the Dumplings managed to eat in 20 minutes?; Prague’s Náměstí Míru gets a flea market; and a Czech zoo is hit by monkey thieves.

Former prime minister Jiří Paroubek has seen his opinion poll ratings decline since his party the Social Democrats succeeded in bringing down the government half-way through the Czech presidency of the EU. Now, in an evident attempt to improve Mr Paroubek’s image, his wife Petra has been bigging him up on the internet. In a piece entitled Ode to a Husband, she wrote recently that he had many beautiful and kind characteristics and was incredibly attentive and gallant. Paní Paroubková’s article, which is to be found in the blogs section of the news website, has had over 100,000 visits. The majority of the comments posted below by readers are sarcastic and critical, though that seems to be the case with most comments on Czech websites.

A young Czech designer has won plaudits with a novel invention – a rocking chair that generates power. The chair, created by Petr Novák of the Prague studio NOVAGUE, was voted eighth in the top 50 products at a Greener Gadgets conference in New York, Lidové noviny reported. Rocking on Move Your Energy, as the futuristic looking chair is called, creates enough electricity to power a lamp or recharge a laptop or mobile phone.

Photo: CTK
A staple of Czech cuisine, knedlíky or dumplings come in various forms, including perfect-with-goulash bread dumplings, less common potato dumplings and sweet fruit dumplings, which are eaten as a dessert. The latter – specifically apricot dumplings – were the subject of an eating competition in the Moravian town of Miroslav last weekend. After stuffing his face with 105 of them in just 20 minutes, Zlín man Jaromír Rafaj was named King of the Dumplings. However, while he may be the 2009 king, Rafaj is not what the Czechs call a “rekordman” – that title belongs to Karel Hamerský, who somehow managed to get 125 fruit dumplings down his gullet last year in the eating contest, which is the highlight of Miroslav’s apricot harvest celebrations. A special guest this time out was former finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka, one of the country’s most popular politicians. His 20-minute dumpling tally? Thirty-three.

Flea market near Kolbenova metro
Prague’s best known flea market runs on weekends on an old industrial site by Kolbenova metro station in the city’s Vysočany district. Now, though, it has some competition far nearer the centre of the capital, with a new flea market just opened on Náměstí Míru square. The man behind it told the Prague Daily Monitor that unlike at Kolbenova, where many new items are on sale, stalls at Náměstí Míru feature only second-hand goods, such as antiques, “retro” clothing and books. That said, it will only be held every fourth Saturday, so many bargain and/or junk hunters will no doubt keep going to Kolbenova as well.

Engineer Pavel Pavel, described in his Wikipedia entry as an “experimental archaeologist”, is interested in how ancient civilisations transported heavy objects prior to the advent of modern machinery. His best known experiment to date has been recreating how the Moai people of Easter Island erected its famous statues. Last weekend Pavel Pavel was in action here in the Czech Republic, when he led a team that moved a 40-tonne rock by a west Bohemian village with the curious name of Babylon, Právo reported. The rock, the size of a small van, had been left “rocking” after work on a railway line a century ago. Using wooden sledges, Pavel managed to lay it on a suitable surface, making it steady and safe again. A civic association in Babylon is now planning to make the rock an attraction on a cycling path between Plzeň and Regensburg in Germany.

The Czech showbiz legend Karel Gott is due to appear in a biopic about the German rapper Bushido, Czech newspapers reported this week. The multi-million selling crooner will be seen on stage with Bushido in the movie, performing a popular single they recorded together, Fuer immer jung – which is based on the ‘80s hit Forever Young. The rapper’s choice of Karel Gott as collaborator reflects the latter’s huge popularity in Germany.

Dwarf Monkeys,  photo: Mistvan,  CC BY 3.0 Unported
Keepers at a zoo in Plzeň got a nasty surprise on Wednesday morning when they discovered that somebody had stolen four of their monkeys during the night: two Golden Lion Tamarins (also known as Golden Marmosets) and two Pygmy Marmosets (or Dwarf Monkeys). A representative of the zoo said it appeared a private individual had had the animals stolen to order. They have chips implanted under their skin and cannot be sold legitimately in the European Union. The Golden Lion Tamarins in particular are worth a lot, with an estimated value of up to CZK 250,000 each. Incidentally, the monkeys are not the first animals to disappear from Plzeň zoo: a year and a half ago it was robbed of some young kangaroos, the Czech News Agency reported.

Brno zoo had rather better news to report this week: its polar bears, a male and and a female, have just been rewarded for producing twins with a new ice machine that should help them cool down a bit in the heat wave we’ve experienced this week. The zoo’s director told the news website that its management had been inspired by a zoo in Moscow which had a machine regularly discharging pieces of ice discreetly built into the wall of the polar bears run.