Thursday, June 26, 2008

The last soldier goes home

From about one month ago, this brief obituary:
BERLIN (Agence France-Presse) — Franz Künstler, the last surviving World War I veteran from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, died Tuesday in Niederstetten, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, where he had lived since 1946. He was 107.

His death was announced by town officials.

Mr. Künstler was born in a German-speaking area of what is now Romania in July 1900, joined the army in 1918 and served in the artillery in Italy until the end of the war.

Mr. Künstler also fought in World War II and in later life became known as “the emperor’s last soldier,” receiving requests for autographs from England, Germany and the United States.

“I could do with a secretary,” he told the German magazine Cicero in April.
This story fascinated me for one of two reasons.

One, even in this day and age, living to 107 is amazing. Two, the man survived two of the most terrible conflicts in human existance. After surviving the "war to end all wars," Mr. Künstler lived through the starts of over 250 wars, armed conflicts and bloody revolutions or coups. Justified or unjustified, it's fairly clear that the machinery of war continues unabated. And hey, why not?





Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Obama child rape case

Candidate for URL of the year: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080626/ap_on_el_pr/obama_child_rape_case

The actual link leads to an article about Obama saying why he supports the death penalty in only "very narrow circumstances," and then lists his approximantely 250 circumstances (give or take) where the state should be allowed to kill its own citizens, even though numerous people have been wrongly convicted, not to mention executed despite being innocent.

None of this matters to Obama, of course, because while the right wing media will paint him as the most evil liberal ever, Obama will continue the long tradition of Democratic presidential candidates wallowing squarely in the realm of appeasement and moderate politics. Obama's positions on gay marriage, abortion, and the dealth penalty, not to mention his inadequate ideas for health care and his willingness to cave to Republican opposition on topics like the so-called Reverant Wright scandal, among other issues, shed light on the fact that Obama's appeal as a candidate is that he's not as bad as John McCain, but for true progressives in this country, he's another disappointment from the spineless Democratic Party.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sportics

Via Wikipedia, we learn the dangers of mixing sports and politics:
The [Dennis and Callahan] program also features a daily news headline feature, in which Callahan, a neo-conservative, often spars with Dennis, a conservative.

This is what politics is like on the American media, even media as useless as WEEI sports talk radio in Boston. A conservative versus a neo-conservative? What a great debate that must be. I wonder what they differ on, whether black people are racist against whites or just exploiting affirmative acton? Whether Mexicans should be persecuted or deported? Whether tax breaks should be given to the top 1% or the top 5%? Whether global warming is a sham or an actual conspiracy by the Jewish Hollywood Elite?

Sports are volatile enough without bringing politics into it, although in this instance it's hardly a big deal. The real concern is if you take two perfectly happy sports fans and inform them that the other guy is of a different political pursuasion. What then? Are friendships ruined? Does brother kill brother?

Being a full devotee to your favorite sports franchises is like being involved in organized relgion. These are teams you have supported since birth, bestowed upon you by your family. You didn't choose these teams, they chose you. To slander your favorite club is to slander you, and to risk a confrontation. To the opinionated person, politics are just as involved.

I know you. I know you are trying to think of counter-examples to refute my hypothesis. You son of a bitch. You just don't understand.

The other day at the ol' company picnic, I was talking to my company's executive director, and he was wearing a Mets cap. He informed me that his daughter makes fun of him, because she is a Phillies fan. One of them is full of shit.

For example, ponder the question of what happens when a Red Sox fan marries a Yankees fan. What does the child become? Obviously the answer is that the child will follow the parent who is more pure, by which I mean more enthusiastic as a fan. I say this because God knows a hardcore Red Sox fan would never marry a hardcore Yankees fan, or vice versa. Only a fairweather or mediocre fan could cross-marry.

For your own child to support a division rival is unfathomable. That would be no different than being a Leeds fan and having your son walk in with a Manchester United scarf, or being a Catholic and having your daughter tell you she's a Protestant (slut). Sports, like religion, runs in the blood, and it is not subject to any kind of change or evoluation. Anyone who does otherwise is disingenuous, or evil.

James Carville and Mary Matalin are the popular example of how two idealogical opponents can still co-exist. This is only because they are both entertainers, and they're both full of shit. Any true liberal and true conservative could never marry together, because love is not hugs and kisses. True love is watching your favorite team lose 12-3 to the fucking Pittsburgh Pirates, and then turning in to the next day's game. It's watching your political party allow the opposition to teabag them without even sparing a thought to biting down, and still hoping your party wins the next election. It's primal. It's ancient. It's unconquerable.

Mixing sports and politics will create chaos and wreak havoc on society. Again, look at politics and religion and what that has wrought. It will make someone vote against their own interests because they distrust Muslims. It will make someone stop going to church because of the way their parish treats homosexuality. They can't vote without considering the religious consequences, and they can't go to service without someone pushing political ideas on them.

Keep sports and politics away from each other. Failure to do so will lead to 9,000 word articles about a prime minister's favorite olympic event, or television debates about whether a senator is a fan of his childhood team or his current state's franchise.

Former presidential candidate Rudolph Guiliani, a so-called lifelong Yankees fan, threw his support behind the Red Sox in last year's World Series. He then went on to lose his credibility as a sports fan and a politician.

I can only hope that calamity befalls all those who dare to disturb the natural balance.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Obama offers $300 million for country's best blowjob

Democratic presidential candidate Barack HUSSEIN Obama said Monday that the search for the country's greatest blowjob is so urgent that he's willing to throw money at it.

The mulatto senator proposed a $300 million prize for whoever can give him the best blowjob in American history, and $5,000 tax credits for women who lick his asshole. The latest proposal is in addition to his support for quality handjobs in Amtrak train terminals.

"In the quest for the most fantastic BJ ever, our country has thrown around enough money buying designer purses for cheap floozies and sorority girls. From now on, I will encourage heroic efforts in giving me head, and we will reward the greatest deep throat," Obama said in a speech at Fresno State University.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Iron Maiden Live in Camden June 17th, 2008





One of the best concerts I have ever seen was Iron Maiden performing during their Brave New World tour in 2000. It's easily in my top three, and may even be my favorite. Having neglected to see the band again since that time, I decided to purchase a ticket for their Somewhere Back in Time tour (you might even see me a few rows in front of the camera in the above video), promoting the DVD release of their 1985 concert video Live After Death. This time around, the band would be performing a majority of songs from Powerslave, with the rest filled out from other vintage albums like Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Although I'm a fan of their later albums, there's nothing like the classics.





I thought the band put on a great show. They were very energetic and sharp, and appeared to be on the same page the whole night. Comparing it to the last show eight years ago, I did think they lost a step, but that's what happens when you go from age 40 to 50. They're still in pretty good concert shape, especially Bruce, who may not have the same voice he had in 1985, but can still outsing (and outrun) any other singer in the genre.





I won't spend much time on the opening act, Lauren Harris, bassist Steve Harris' daughter. I'll just note that she reminded me of Hannah Montana with rock guitars (that kept playing the same riffs and solos each song). The highlight of her performance was these lyrics: "Can't you see / you're a part of me / count 1-2-3 / you're inside of me." She was totally inappropriate to open for Maiden.

Speaking of which, let's get back to them. They had a bit of a stage production, with a goat head devil for The Number of the Beast, a toilet paper mummy Eddie for Iron Maiden, "fog" and swaying lights for Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and a walking, giant cybernetic Eddie for The Clairvoyant. Some was cool, some was hokey, but all was in good fun.

If you like rock and you have a chance to see Iron Maiden in concert, I highly recommend it. They are a fantastic live band, one of the most influential acts of the metal genre and a legendary group.