Monday, May 30, 2005

DUDE! I am actually on a surfboard surfing an actual blog wave! Usually I'm the last to pick up on these things, if at all, as I have a relatively limited number of frequently-consulted blogs (and those are a bit outside the mainstream, it seams). Anywho, TAPPED is talking about the Metaphorocaust too!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

By a comfortable margin, and with a big turnout, the voters of France have rejected the draft constitution for the EU. This means that the whole constitution drafting process must begin again. Big deal, that.

This one is easy to make a stupid comment about (I may have thoughtful ones another time):

France surrenders . . . TO NON!

In other (surely unrelated) news, the German army has begun a series of "training manouvers" near the Belgian border.

But for real: any time the major trade unions and hard left groups are on the same side of an argument as The Economist (all of those three and more said this was a bad constitution), then you gotta reckon it must be bad.

And any time a constitution is 200 pages long . . .

Saturday, May 28, 2005




Friday, May 27, 2005

A couple of whiles ago, WV Senator Robert C. Byrd Memorial Robert C. Byrd used a historian's account of Hitler's rise to power to illustrate his concerns about what might be happening in the US.

Pennsylvania Senator Rick "Man-on-Dog" Santorum recently compared some opponent holding onto something to Hitler holding onto Paris.

Secretary of Offense Donald Rumsfeld this week compared Al Zarkawi (the new Bin Laden) to being a die-hard bring-the-roof-down-with-me in the mould of Hitler in the bunker.

Anti-abortion sorts frequently compare the destruction of potential humans to the Holocaust.

There have, no doubt, been all sorts of other examples of using Hitler / Third Reich / WW2 / the Holocaust as metaphors for completely not-like-that-at-all things. This seems to be the trend among Amuhrkins.

I am a kind of Amuhrkin. I think that from now on I will pepper my blog posts with absurd metaphors of this sort, but with the added twist that I may use other historical characters, issues, and events.

So, for example, I will say that the Liverpool/Milan game was just like the Battle of the Casserine Pass.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

As Carlton notes, in the comments below, he has made no attempt to disguise his not-where-it-used-to-be hairline. And quite right.

I pointed to his hairline so as to draw attention to our advanced age. Make no mistake: my own hairline is holding the high ground, but just barely. I sortof look like 2nd season Dr Mark Green (maybe 3rd). But no glasses.


Last night I watched the Uefa Cup final betweeen Liverpool and AC Milan (on TV in a bar, rather than in the stadium in Istanbul).

Oh. My. God.

It was one of those things you watch where you think, "this is going to be talked about for years". That may be the most exciting professional football match I have ever seen. I am SO glad I watched it. I feel great now! It's like when you get a buzz off a cigarette and think "that's why I smoke: the little moments like this". Well that last night is why I watch sports.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Carlton has posted photos related to his and Molly's recent wedding vacation in New Orleans. Do look.

In one photo, I am pretty sure I detect a hairline recession of some significance.

In other news (related through the miracle of photography): some time ago (way back when Saddam Hussein was reportedly captured) I suggested that it might not be him. Or rather, I asked if it was unreasonable to doubt that it is him. Aside from my general reticence to believe the US government, I based my skepticism on the following:

- We were told, repeatedly, for years, that SH had lots of body doubles.
- I have, as yet, seen no mention of the fate of said body doubles (I do recall being assured that they got the right dude, by the same people who assured me that the dude they were getting had a nearly-completed Death Star).

If the doubles existed, then it seems perfectly reasonable that the man we saw in the famous underpants is just some dude.

I guess it all comes down to faith.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Dude. The SPD (and the Greens) got the shit beat out of them. See, if you will, this link. If you can't read the German, click around the maps. Otherwise, trust me.

Two big surprises from my perspective: 1) that they would do so poorly [a loss wasn't hard to imagine, but this?], 2) that the disgruntled voters didn't choose one of the smaller parties on the left or (Dog forbid) right.

One bit of good news, I suppose, is precisely this last point: the Nazis faired quite poorly.

So. Schröder's response is fascinating. He is calling a snap federal election for the fall, arguing that he wants to know what the folks really think, and if they don't want him then they need to say so.

Risky. But it just. Might. Work. I am predicting, here and now, that he will pull it off.

And now a bit of philosophizin'. I reckon the SPD has a problem not unlike that facing New Labour and the New Democrats. Namely: in their lust for power they shed most of their convictions, and folks noticed. The average voter isn't inclined to support folks who come off as cynical, I reckon, and I think that's what's happening here. For example, a couple of weeks ago the general secretary of the SPD gave a speech in which he took a poke at hedge funds who tear companies to pieces and sell them off for short term profit. He likened them to locusts. Folks around the country said "Hell yeah! We've been saying that around our bar table for years!" But they also said "Dude! YOU can't say that! You and your party have been making sweet sweet love with those locusts since 1998!" They called bullshit, in other words.

Sadly, they turned to the (marginally) greater evil.

We will see, I suppose, how this all turns out. I am living in an exciting time.

Wuppertal, my current home town, has around 3 or 400,000 residents. It is smack in the middle of the state Nord Rhein Wesphalen (North Rhine Westfalia). This has between 18 and 20 million residents. Other important cities in NRW include

Köln (Cologne), famous for a really big gothic cathedral as well as perfume;
Aachen, famous for being Charlemagne’s capital city;
Düsseldorf, a rather important place for business, and home of 30-odd thousand Japanese folks, for some reason;
Dortmund, not so famous, perhaps, but it is where I work;
Essen, famous for Thyssen and Krupp steel;
Bonn, former capital of West Germany (and, briefly, all Germany).

NRW is where the 30 Years War came to an end (the Peace of Westfalia, negotiated and signed in Münster).
NRW is where Beethoven (Bonn) and Friedrich Engels (Barmen, now part of Wuppertal) were born and raised.
NRW was (and, sort of, still is) the industrial heartland of one of the world’s premier industrial economies.
NRW is Germany’s biggest state in terms of population.
NRW is the heartland of German socialism, communism, and social democracy.
Solingen, a major knife-producing town, is in NRW.
A Germanic army defeated a Roman army in the Teutoburger Forrest, which is in NRW.
Get a map. Start in Bonn and follow the river up to Mönchengladbach and Duisburg, then go east to Dortmund. That little area is where the vast majority of the folks in NRW live, and it is one of the most densly populated regions on Earth (although you wouldn’t know it to look at it).
Since heavy industry (mining, manufacturing, etc) has had its day in most rich countries, you needn’t stretch your imagination to understand that NRW has some unemployment concerns (imagine Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Cleveland, Gary, Akron, and all of West Virginia in one tight package, then add people and take away jobs).

NRW has been governed by the Social Democratic Party (SPD) for the past 39 years (usually alone, sometimes in coalition).

Today, NRW will elect a new state government.

The SPD coalition government (with the Greens as partner) need to win. To lose here would be a disaster for morale, obviously (and a boost to the winners). To lose here would also tip the balance in the upper house of the federal parliament (the Bundesrat) further against the national SPD/Green coalition, making governing rather difficult. To lose here would all but guarantee that the next national government of Germany (to be elected next year) would be conservative. The NRW election is, far and away, the most important thing happening in Europe today.

[The most important thing yesterday was the Eurovision song contest, which was won by a Greek performer. The German performer came last. Right on!]

So, if you can read German, you can find out lots about the election HERE.

If you can’t, I will tell you about the parties in competition.

The SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschland) is the mainstream center-left party. They used to be into socialism and such, but underwent a transformation not unlike Labour’s in Britain (moving them towards “the center”, to a sort of polite liberalism). They have dominated the state (and before the war, the region) and would go into a tailspin if they lost here. They are the leader of the national governing coalition (led by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder), and will probably lose the national election next year if they lose this one now. They look to get around 30% of the vote, I think.

The Greens (Bündnis 90 / Die Grüne) are the coalition partner in NRW and at the national level (Joschka Fischer, the foreign minister, is their de facto leader). They started out as a hard-core ecological and pacifist party, but in a civil war between the fundamentalist wing (the Fundis) and the pragmatists (the Realos), they Realos won. This has made them “more electable” but at the price of a bit of soul. They will probably get around 10% of the vote in this election (which is quite good for them).

The CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union) is the main center-right party. Their members would ejactulate in their underpants if they pulled off a win here. There is reason to hope that they will fuck it up, though. They had hoped for voters to choose “change” but have mixed their message (basically “let us try!”) with an appeal to xenophobia, and that doesn’t go down so well with the mainstream in what is, ultimately, one of the most heterogenous parts of Europe. They are also hovering around 30%.

The FDP (Freie Demokratische Partei) is one of the most loathesome parties in the world. They are, ostensibly, classical liberals, but are so desperate to be in power that they will say, quite literally, anything. This time they are promising (I swear) jobs, better schools, jobs, lower taxes, jobs, smarter children, jobs, restrictions on immigration, jobs, more immigration, jobs, improved infrastructure, jobs, reduced government spending, jobs, increased government spending, and jobs. Birgit’s mom said she likes them. I said “Of course you do! What’s not to like?” They even have an openly gay national leader (Guido Westerwelle). They even ran a few years ago with the goal of getting 18% (18 being code for Nazis: A = 1 and H = 8). Fuckers. They might get 10% of the vote. They would be the CDU coalition partner if things go their way.

The PDS (Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus) is the heir to the East German communist party and are a genuine leftist party. They have shed their Stalinism and tickle me in the red zone. Their national public face is the (hot and sexy, like Rosa Luxemburg) Sarha Wagenknecht. Rot Front, my friend. I would like to see them get somewhere around 10%, but it is probably not going to happen. The thing is, they would likely pull votes from the SPD or Greens.

Another Left spoiler is the WASG (Wahlalternative Arbeit & soziale Gerechtigkeit) which is composed of disillusioned SPD supporters who can’t think of a good name for their party. They could pull a few votes, but aren’t much of a party.

There are also two neo-Nazi parties, but I doubt they will have much success. They will scrap it out at the bottom of the rightwing barrel with a Biblethumper party (no kidding: PBC - Partei Bibeltreuer Christen), a quasi-fascist ecology and family party, and an old peoples’ party (the Gray Panthers). The left brings a Marxist/Leninist party (i.e., unreformed Soviet-style communists), a social solidarity party, and an animal rights party. There is also a party called Die Partei which looks totally serious except for the part about making eastern Germany a “special economic zone” which will be separated from the rest of the country (they are, surely, joking about reversing unification).

Anywho. I will tell you the results as soon as I have them.

My own polling indicates that Birgit will vote Green, her mom will vote FDP, her dad will vote CDU, our friend Kirsten will vote SPD, and her boyfriend doesn’t know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Is British MP George Galloway nearly as cool as he seems to be?

I ask this because he seems to be pretty fucking cool. Like, ice. Like, Fonzi.

I wonder if he's ever sucked a dick or if he would consider it. Cuz mebbie if he did, and it were filmed, he could become famous in the US and people would listen to the (seemingly quite sensible) things he is saying.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

For some time now I have had a mighty and thoughtful blog entry in mind. I wanted to punch out something meaningful and considered. This was to be a serious and significant commentary on things and stuff, as well as my contribution to the furtherance of the worldwide discourse on events and people and whatnot.

But I haven't gotten around to it just yet.

And here I am, with nothing meaningful, mighty, thoughtful, considered, serious, significant, or discursive to say. So why am I posting anyway? Well. I'm glad you asked.

There is a television show in Germany called "Wetten Das?". It consists of stupid human tricks, basically, but with the twist that "celebrity" guests have to bet on whether the stupid human can actually do what they say they can do. Being a German show, most of the celebrities are German. But since celebrity knows no borders, neither does the show. Tonight's episode, for example, is coming live from Turkey, in front of a massive audience in an old Roman amphitheater (the show only comes on a few times a year, so as to embiggen the deal). Birgit and I are/were watching it because Birgit's sister's boyfriend is in the audience and we hoped to catch a glimpse of him (we haven't).

That we haven't caught a glimpse of Murat means that this has been nothing more than a waste of time. But one of the "celebrities" on the show makes it more than simply that. It makes it a pain in my ass. It makes it a craw-sticker.

I am not a big fan of the whole "celebrity" thing, but I reserve a special loathing for those famous people who have done nothing (such as act or sing or dance or play sports or what have you) to earn their fame in some way. I really hate, in other words, people who are famous for being famous. If I ask someone "who is that person?", I want to hear that the person is a performer or thing-doer of some sort.

A couple of years ago, I started to see mentions of tonight's offender on the internets. I was puzzled enough to ask either Sara or Scott about the person. I was disappointed to learn that the person is the very model of fame resulting from fame. This person is Why They Hate Us. This person is why I hate us. I hate people who like this person, hate people who find this person interesting, hate people who find this person remotely distracting. I hate myself for getting so angry about this person. I hate the fact that I have been out of the US (and therefore out of this person's famefeeder) for all but a month or so of this person's 15 minutes and STILL I find myself confronted with this person.

This person is PARIS HILTON. Paris Hilton was just on German television. Why? Well, because she is famous. What did she do to get famous? As near as I can tell she sucked some dude's dick. There must be something more to her fame than that, of course, since otherwise I can think of several people I can personally endorse as equally deserving of fame (some more than others, if you want to get right down to it, and one more deserving of infamy than fame).

Has she ever done ANYTHING else which might have drawn the disembodied, flaming eye that is German popular culture? No. Just the dick sucking. And yet there she was. Just now. On my TV.

I hate. So much.

In happier news, look Carlton-ward.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I didn't think Britain, whatever Tony's flaws, would ever stoop so low as to resort to torture of this sort: Guardian Unlimited: "Woman held over baby remains".