Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Ich kann dieses Buch nur empfehlen fuer alle historisch interessierte Menschen. Viele Aspekte der abartigen deutschen Vergangenheit werden einem erst durch eine solche Beschreibung klar. Dies sind zwar keine wirklich neuen Dinge, die man erfaehrt, aber sie werden von einer anderen Seite (eher qualitativ und episodenhaft als quantitativ und allgemein) dargestellt. So wird die Zusammensetzung des Vernichtungslagers aufgezeigt, wo Jude natuerlich nicht Jude ist, sondern Deutscher, Hollaender oder Pole. Diese Gruppen konkurrieren auch untereinander (ein aufgedeckter Fluchtplan der polnischen Haeftlinge wird den Hollaendern in die Schuhe geschoben, welche darauf hin alle vergast werden) und die im Vernichtungslager arbeitenden Haeftlinge unterstuetzen die Arbeit der deutschen Moerder, in dem sie neu ankommenden Opfern gegenueber den Eindruck erwecken sich in einem akzeptablen Arbeitslager zu befinden (dies natuerlich unter konstater Todesdrohung sich selbst gegenueber). Die Geldgier der polnischen Landbevoelkerung, welche die fluechtenden Juden bis auf das Hemd ausnehmen und dann trotzdem noch umbringen, ist schockierend. Die mangelnde Solidaritaet der Insassen untereinander ist erschreckend (wenn auch erklaerlich), nach der erfolgreichen Flucht setzen sich die ehemaligen russischen Soldaten mit den erbeuteten Waffen von den anderen Fluechtlingen ab, opfern diese im Prinzip um die eigenen Chancen zu erhoehen.
Ich koennte weitere dieser Episoden beschreiben, aber insgesamt bleibt wohl nur zu sagen, dass dieses Buch schockierend und grausam ist, wenn es auch nie die Ebene des rein faktischen Beschreibens verlaesst und seine 8,95 mehr als wert war. Kaufts Euch...
Friday, December 22, 2006
Ich fand diese Geschichte, wie jeder dieses Basisaufstaende ohne grossen Organisierungsgrad von oben (siehe Deutschland 1918/1919) schon immer faszinierend und hatte mir deswegen dieses Buch gekauft, muss nun aber leider sagen, dass mich dieses entaeuschte. Es ist als Sachbuch geschrieben, was als solches ja nicht negativ sein muss, und beschreibt anekdotenhaft die Ereignisse an der damaligen Westfront von Belgien bis zur Schweiz. Hierin liegt auch gleich das Problem, da es zu wenig Informationen ueber die damaligen Ereignisse gibt (die Zeugen sind tot, Briefe nicht mehr vorhanden, Berichterstattung wurde unterdrueckt), bleibt dem Autor nichts anderes uebrig als das wenige, was an Detailwissen vorhanden ist hintereinander aufzulisten. Dadurch verliert das Buch jede Kohaerenz.
Das zweite nervende, war die missionarische Art und Weise in der Juergs die Geschichte erzaehlt. Ich bin zwar vollkommen seiner Meinung, dass dieser Friede eine gewisse historische Relevanz in bezug auf Klassenpositionen besitzt und ein klarer Fall von internationaler Solidaritaet war (schade eigentlich, dass das eine solch abgedroschene Phrase ist heutzutage), aber die Tatsache, dass er es fuer noetig haelt mir diesen revolutionaeren Aspekt andauernd vor die Nase zu halten und in manigfaltigen Versionen klarzumachen wie wichtig dieser ist, fuehrte letzten Endes dazu, dass ich nur noch genervt war. Ein Sachbuch in meinen Augen, sollte versuchen es dem leser zu erlauben selber seine Meinung zu formen. Das der Autor die seine darzeigt ist als solches kein Problem, aber bitte nicht andauernd und vor allem nicht so missionarisch.
Wuerde ich dieses Buch empfehlen? Nein. Es gibt wohl noch einige englische Buecher ueber das gleiche Thema (auf welche Juergs auch desoefteren verweist) und ich denke diese waeren wahrscheinlich eine bessere Idee fuer jemanden unter Euch, der sich fuer das Thema interessiert.
(Tut mir leid wegen der vielen Fehler heute, ich bin in Florida, es ist viel zu warm um drinnen zu sitzen, der Rechner hat eine komische Tastatur und ausserdem rennen hier im Hintergrund zu viel Leute rum, als dass ich mich richtig konzentrieren koennte.)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
American politics is so corny sometimes, it is unbelievable, check out Barak Obama (one of the two biggest candidates for the Democratic nomination as of right now - the other one being Hillary Clinton - for those of you who don't keep up with American politics as obsessively as I do) doing a skit right before Monday Night Football. Can anyone imagine Merkel, Chirac or Blair doing something like that? I am not even claiming this is inherently negative, just bizarre for a European like me who is used to public leaders trying to be stately and nothing else (meaning no humour - and I exclude Blair here, don't know enough about British behaviour to really judge this).
Monday, December 11, 2006
I read Coral Bell's Twilight of the Unipolar World in preparation for my interview in Berlin for a scholarship in the USA. In what amounts to the biggest disappointment of my professional/academic career, I did not get a place in that program (don't even ask how I disappointed I am, but 'tant pis' as the French would say, have to move on). Point is, I read that article a couple of times. At the time it was published (in the winter of 2005) it had caused quite an uproar partly related to the fact that it was published in the American Interest a journal published by men mostly quite close to the neoconservative sphere. For them to publish an article as gloomy (for the USA) as Bell's seemed revolutionary.
Basically the Australian author argues that the US has 20 years remaining to form the basis for any kind of future they want to have in world affairs. After that, power will be diluted too much. I think there is no doubt that the general premise is solid (even if 20 years might be 10 years too few) and cannot be argued. The problem is that, after having detailed this outlook, Bell goes on to describe population increases in China and India, but also in Indonesia, Pakistan and other East-Asian countries, only to then - all of a sudden - focus on the EU as the future biggest adversary to the USA. He claims that a change in government in the UK (based on a highly unlikely - in my eyes - collaboration between the Liberals and Labour) would result in an ever looser union and the accesion of Russia. This new EU would then be one of the biggest and most important world powers and competitor to American influence.
While - being the fervent European that I am - I could not be further from argueing that the EU will develop into a major player in the international field, the idea developed in Twilight of the Unipolar World of how this is supposed to go about seems ridicolous to me. I see no way that Russia will join the EU anytime soon (and definitely not in the next 20-30 years necessary for this prophecy to have anykind of relevance considering Bell's own time schedule), plus the premise that the UK will give up its traditional close ties to the US lacks any kind of evidence and is based solely on a shaky hypothesis (that of a coalition between Labour and Liberals). Plus, Bell completey ignores the rise of these East-Asian powers that he himself details in the beginning of his essay.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Sweet Home Chicago
I very much doubt this got a lot of coverage outside of France but I find it rather interesting, Ségolène Royal (one of the two possible next French Presidents) has declared that according to her Iran should not have even the right to a civilian atomic program. If she is elected (still a big if, but right now I'd say she is the most likely candidate) that would really worsen any chance of an agreement with Iran ever being possible.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Es scheint als habe endlich eine deutsche Zeitung sich der Polizistenausbildung in Afghanistan angenommen, leider ein Springerblatt, aber wenigstens der eine Qualitätstitel des Hauses. Wenn diese Andeutungen wirklich zutreffen sollten, wäre dies ein Riesenskandal, weil es die komplette Anti-Militär-Komponente der Deutschen Argumentation zusammenbrechen lassen würde. Ich kann weiterhin nicht nachvollziehen, warum hier nicht mehr darüber berichtet wird. Wahrscheinlich ist es nicht sexy genug als Thema.
Also, two subjects related to the misnomer of the millennium (it is young, I know) the War on Terror. Apparently the US had been kidnapping innocent (and not so innocent, but that is not really the point here) citizens from all over the world before 9/11 ever took place. Friendly governments (like the German one) were informed of this distasteful practise and aided actively or passively (by ignoring the misdeeds committed on their territory). How is anyone ever supposed to believe that the West is not a bunch of hypocritical cronies where the it is the law and the people that rule if these things keep on happening?
The American government has paid $ 2 Million and given an official excuse to a man who was mistakenly arrested in the follow-up to the bombings of Madrid. The CIA did kidnap a German citizen in Macedonia and kept him in prison in Afghanistan for 6 months. He was tortured and mistreated there and when they finally realized he only had a similar sounding name to an Al Qaida suspect, they dumped him in Albania to fend for himself from there. Now, in this case the American government does not even acknowledge - officially - that this took place, let alone give that man some kind of recompensation. Really makes one question whether there is any kind of morality left outside of the rhetoric one in the American administration. So sad, for a country with such a magnificient past of creating and defending liberty and democratic institutions (even if they always have been faulty).
Thursday, November 23, 2006
This obscure 20th century singer might just be one of the most influential - and best - poets of the English Language ever.
Angela Merkel apparently read my blog and thus decided to respond to my criticism of German foreign policy. According to her the German presence in (North-)Afghanistan is actually examplary and supposedly slowly becomes a model for other nations. With this she refers to the mixture of military and civilian methods deployed at the same time. She avoids the question of whether the military should be utilized as well though (right now the German army is really just a show force in Afghanistan not hurting anyone (including opium traders and growers for example)) and more importantly I can still find no reference in German papers or her speech to the scathing criticism of Germany's civilian efforts. Namely - as I've wrote before - the training of police officers supposedly has been lacking in quality. While I agree with her that a reliance on military options only would be folly, I also would be really interested to know whether this German nation building is really of bad quality. Anyone that sees anything about any of this anywhere. Tell me.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I've posted this song before I know, this is a different version though, taken from one of the best albums of the millennium.
Lebanon is heading down a worrisome trail it seems. Hezbollah is completely discrediting itself as a political actor right now and seems intent to force Syrian dominance back into the picture. On a related note James Baker (as co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group supposed to propose a reversal of tactics in Iraq) has proposed talks with Syria and Iran (Blair already sent one of his senior advisor to Damascus), I never really tied these two together and actually endorse Baker's proposal (and still do to some degree), but a really interesting take on the affair in the Opinion Journal sheds a different light on this.
Basically the author is afraid that Realists like Baker (and the rest of the Bush I cronies) will sell out Lebanon in order to achieve some kind of stabilization in Iraq (which they apparently already did in the first (or second depending on the way you count) Gulf War). That of course would not be acceptable. Lebanon is actually a (semi-)democracy and needs to be kept clean of too much influence by Syria and Iran.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Check out Nate Robinson blocking Yao.
I have never been one of those left-wing ideologists who bash Israel and claim that suicide attacks on discos or buses are legitimate means of self-defense. Yet, having said that, I have to admit that Israel is acting disgraceful at times. They are continuously violating the UN-solution on Lebanon by flying into Lebanon air space. They flew in provocatively close to a German battle ship and French tank positions both send there to guard the peace. Now, the NY Times writes that Israeli officials are cheating private Palestinian property owners out of their rights by simply not acknowledging that the land occupied by the Tsahal had been private property before. If peace ever really is to come to that region both sides need to start acting just.
Sorry about the corny ending there, but sometimes it really as simple and sugary.
Monday, November 20, 2006
For some reason West Virginia is the stomping ground of a lot of really bizarre characters (Jesco White would be one example). These guys seceded from Virginia after that state's secession from the Union if that is not showcasing their 'otherness' I don't know what is. Now, here is the craziest of them all, the late, great Hasil Adkins:
If You ain't never seen nobody do the Hunch you ain't seen my woman and I declare son you never will see her, 'cause I ain't got one.
I think it is ridiculous that Germany tries to shun its duty in Afghanistan by not deploying troops in the South, but even more outrageous is that it seems as if the training of the police is lacking in funding, manpower and quality. This does not seem to be focused on as much as it should be in German papers (even the taz does not mention it as far as I know), but if Germany has taken on an important job like the creation of an Afghan police force, then they need to do a better job of it, especially in the most important country in regard to nation building in the world right now. Plus, the argument of Germany as a civilian task force comes crushing down if the work provided in these areas is of low quality, they might as well fight in the South then (and should anyway if you ask me).
Monday, November 13, 2006
while not as exotic as Iraqi rap maybe, I do not know that much Swiss German rap either I have to admit (nor are there that many female rappers sadly enough)
- "We need to begin a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months," Mr. Levin said [...] [he] added, "The point of this is to signal to the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and that they are going to have to solve their own problems."
Mr. Levin will be the new Armed Services Committee chairman, replacing Mr. Warner, I should add. This I believe is just wrong, their problems are after all due to an American invasion. If they withdraw now, that means they will discredit American Foreign Policy over the next decade at least.
I have to agree with Senator McCain on this one who "reiterated his stance that there were not enough American troops there." Even if the only thing these troops will achieve might be a stabilization through a de facto or actual splitting up of the country in three ethnic homogeneous parts.
- "Religious rap songs play just as loudly on the streets of Sadr City, the sprawling Shiite slum in eastern Baghdad that is the heart of his [Moktada al-Sadr] support."
Is there anything quite as impressive or complete as the global domination of rap?
- The audacity of professional sports teams to ask for funding of their arenas just confounds me. Whether in Germany (Bayern Munich's new arena) or in the USA, why should the general taxpayer help finance these teams? There is no sensible reason, none. So props to Seattle for turning the request by the Sonics down.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
He is probably best known for his role in Oliver Stone's Doors movie where he plays the - surprise, surprise - Indian Chief, but he was actually an Indian political activist, poet and singer.
I got frustrated with the progress in my latest French book so I got myself a rail-thin pocket book from the library here and read it through in two days. Only problem, it wasn't all that great. The book is entitled The Last of the Indian Wars and was written by Forbes Parkhill. It describes the tragic story of the American Indian (to quote Johnny Cash), specifically this deals with a group of Utes living in the Four Corner's area. One of them Tse-quit (Man-Who-Never-Cries) is accused of having murdered and robbed a Mexican shepherd. It is never satisfactorily answered whether this accusation is true or not, but the white settlers of the area seize the opportunity to chase all Indians from the desirable lands which they had occupied before. This in itself is of course nothing new, has actually occurred over and over again, even the methods employed (massacring everyone involved including women and children) do not surprise. What is striking about this event is really only the date. It all took place under the Wilson administration shortly before the outbreak (for the USA at least) of the 1st World War.
The way lawlessness still reigned when it came to Native-Americans' rights (Blacks' as well I guess, but that's a different subject) is quite shocking considering that Wilson's 14 points set a resounding - if unsuccessful - democratic example only two years later. In the end the single Indian prevails - Tse-quit is acquitted - but the Ute lose as they have been forced to live their homes already.
While this is a really interesting story the author sadly does not manage to keep his writing on par. Partly it makes the impression as if he only pasted newspaper articles, Indian folk tales and phrases condemning the white man's treatment of the red man together. While I agree with this condemnation it would have been amazing to read this captivating story of injustice, murder, and violence - no sex sorry - as a coherent story and not as simply a collection of badly connected sentences, paragraphs and chapters.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
A bit of Jewish support for the Civil Rights Struggle
I had to write a 6-page paper on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his role in the Civil Rights Movement. A really interesting topic and I really enjoyed my Monday which I spent in the library reading, in a one day sitting (diagonal I have to admit though), Ling's biography of King. Good stuff that. I hadn't really known all that much about the whole movement (just the typical collection of buzz- and keywords) but it is a really fascinating, just and - in the end, more or less - successful cause. Tuesday and Wednesday I spent writing my six pages and this morning I turned the essay in.
What can I say, I think this is one of the weakest papers I have ever written for a class. I am not quite sure why this is the case. Maybe I dislike the class too much (this bizarre French method of teaching without any interaction taking place can destroy pretty much any topic), feel too arrogant in there (some of those French guys in there have an atrocious command of the English language) or the question wasn't any good (Discuss the following statement: MLK was more a facilitator than an organizer), maybe I just didn't care enough because it seems highly unlikely that I will get any credit for any of this. Whatever the reason, crappy paper I believe, if you want to check it out anyway (or therefore), here you go.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I am intellectually a little bit too dead to concentrate on this or feel sufficiently happy (I read a MLK, Jr biography monday and wrote a 6 page paper on him in the last 48 hours). But this really is a stellar result:
- A clear majority in the House for the Democrats (over 30 seats) is certain
- A tie (meaning Cheney gives the Republicans the majority anyway) or even a one-seat majority is still possible in the Senate (depending on too close to call outcomes in Montana and Virginia)
- Nancy Pelosi most likely will become the first female Speaker of the House (slowly but surly preparing us for the female onslaught of Clinton, Royal and Merkel, get ready guys)
- Democrats are in possession of a majority of Governor positions as well now
- While Harold Ford did not become the first black Senator from the South since Reconstruction he did win 48% of the vote in Tennessee
- A ballot to ban abortion in South Dakota and thus prepare a legal challenge to Roe vs Wade has been soundly rejected
- With Keith Ellison a - converted - Muslim has been voted into the House
- Schwarzenegger was reelected, oh wait, they did? Damn Californians!
I only wish all of this would have come two years earlier, let's hope that the Democrats will now be able to proceed on a path more multilateral, more humanitarian, more social and more keen on environmental interests.
Monday, November 06, 2006
from a great sampler entitled In Prison - Afro-American Prison Music From Blues to HipHop
A Zeit article fleetingly mentioned the fact that the American base in Rammstein (or was it somewhere else? definitely somewhere in Germany anyway) has become the most important communication and commanding centre for the American military in regard to operations carried out in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. In a possible worst case scenario (Republicans defending their majorities in both the Senate and the House and another - Republican or not - President elected in 2008 who decides to act aggressively and unilaterally) I wonder what kind of implications this has on Germany's sovereignty.
I realize that this will not be an issue anytime in the near or foreseeable future, but let's face it, the presence of this command structure on German soil when the German public and its politicians do not support any of the policies carried out through this base is questioning Germany's grip on its own territory. Let's ignore for a minute the impossibility of offending the most powerful German ally and reflect on this only as a theoretical aspect of political thought. The completely sovereign nation Germany became again with reunification in 1990 does have total power over its territory. When one considers this I seriously wonder about Germany's sovereignty in regard to the fact that another nation is able to act counter to any political or popular will in Germany. I have not thought this through all that well, my day has been a little too challenging intellectually but I believe this is an interesting if disturbing train of thought.
This does not mean I would endorse an attempt to close these bases and forfeiting the contracts with the USA regarding these aspects (nor do I really know how these are phrased). I actually am of the opinion that the ramifications of any kind of act like this would be far more negative than any perceived positive impact could be. But that is Realpolitik and this post I consider to be more a political philosophy nature.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
The lyrics somehow seemed to fit my morning quite well.
I am usually not all that interested in this whole the emergence of China as an economic and political world power subject. But there was an article in yesterday's LeMonde that really caught my attention. I had not seen any mention of this in either the German, nor the American papers I consume, maybe I just hadn't seen it, maybe this is due to the French post-colonial aspirations in Africa. Whatever the reason, it was quite astonishing to read that the Chinese government is currently holding a conference with 48 (I repeat 48!, according to Wikipedia there are 61 in total) African dirigeants (prime ministers, presidents or brotherly leaders and guides of the revolution) in Beijing. Hu Jintao dubbed this an événement historique and definitelyly agree. In fact this is just crazy, China is really exerting itself in Africa and this I find is quite scary.
Why is this scary? Quite simple, to just give one example, look at Sudan. Everybody knows there is a genocide supported by the government taking place. So why does no one act on this? Yes, forces are stretched thin, the Americans can barely sustain their troop strength in Iraq, the rest of the West is busy in Lebanon, the Congo, Afghanistan and so on, but could one not at least impose sanctions against the Sudan? If one just tightens the economic screws a little the fallout in Khartoum would be massive and would definitely increase pressure on Al-Bashir to act against the crimes committed in Darfur. This is where China comes into the picture. Urgently in need of esourceses to further fuel their astonishing growth (and thus protect the Communist Party's grip on power, but that is another story that I will not get into right now) the Sudan is one of their biggest importers of oil. Now, China as a veto-power in the Security Council has and will block any attempt to force the Sudan into any kind of less murderous policy.
Notre principe dans nos relations avec les autres pays est de ne jamais chercher à imposer notre système social, notre mode de développement nos valeurs, ni notre idéologie. Basically what the Chinese in Africa are saying is that, we don't give a fuck how cruel or with what methods you govern your country, nor do we care how you came into power in the first place as long as you trade with us (translation of diplomatic French into plain English provided by yours truly). Disgusting that.
Two side notes to close this.
French companies have invested 25 billion Euro in Iran over the last fifteen years, wonder how that will influence the French stance on sanctions against Iran.
According to LeMonde Deval Patrick has decent chances of being elected governor of Massachusetts, that would make him the second (yes, second!) black governor ever (yes, ever!) elected in the United States. Also, something which I hadn't known either is that Barack Obama is the only black Senator currently holding office. What a sad state of affairs.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
A Couple More Years (with Willie Nelson)
That Kind of Fool (with Keith Richards)
The Killer has published a new album and even though he has resorted to that typical old-legend method of recording songs with co-stars in order to attract more and younger customers one just has to admit the he still lives up to his moniker. Cannot quickly recall another album by an aging star like him in the last couple of years except maybe Bobby Charles' Last Train To Memphis that would be able to compete with this one.
There was a really long article in LeMonde today about an American soldier who refused service in the army out of conscientious reasons. This article quoted a study out of the Air Force Times (of which I had admittedly never heard of before) that claims that 40,000 American soldiers have deserted since 2000. 40,000. If true, this would be a staggering number considering the US army only consists of around 500,000 men (and women). With consideration for my sucky math this means that 1 out of every 10 soldiers has deserted in the last few years. Crazy.
And while we are onto mind-numbing numbers I wanted to share a scientific study published in The Lancet with my worthy American readers because I am not quite sure how much coverage this has gotten in the USA. According to this study, performed by American scholars from John Hopkins in cooperation with Iraqi associates, over 600,000 Iraqis have died because of the American invasion. If anything of what I have read is true, this study is to be trusted more than any other regarding the number of deaths in Iraq (I cannot find the Zeit article which I base this on anymore sadly).
Consider the fact now, that according to the Bush administration deaths due to the invasion (directly and indirectly of course) number only around 30,000. Seems like someone conveniently ignores some kind of truth somewhere there.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Akhenaton - Bad Boys De Marseille - Part II
I've been quite busy on my application for an exchange to the USA next fall. Finally finished everything today and hopefully have some more time for other stuff again now. Here is my university wishlist (I excluded any New York and California university as I assumed competition would be too stiff for my grades, this also applied to Princeton & Cornell):
01. University of Chicago
02. University of Pennsylvania
03. Emory University
04. Vanderbilt University
05. Indiana University
06. John Hopkins University
07. University of Minnesota
08. Duke University
09. Tulane University
10. University of Texas
And in my study proposal you can read what I actually want to study in the States.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
It recounts the life and death of Nat Turner who led the single biggest slave rebellion that ever occurred in the USA, a topic which I embarrassingly enough did not really know all that much about. It is is supposedly based on the real life's Nat Turner confessions written down by some kind of lawyer shortly before his trial and subsequent death. Nat Turner was basically a super intelligent human being (who taught himself how to read and write for example) who through a profound religiousness decided to rot out sin in his vicinity which for him meant slaughtering white people. Now, this of course is a harrowing concept, yet based on the situation of the slave back in the early 19th century one wonders whether some of his approach was not quite sound actually. Anyway (I am totally buzzing and beginning to get tired as well, it is 5 o'clock here), really fascinating and recommendable book. As usual some criticism will follow though:
What bothered me at times was the way black people were portrayed throughout the novel (I did not bother checking whether the author is/was black or white), this sometimes tended to lend credence to the idea of a black inferiority. While I am aware that the average slave would have been atrociously uneducated that does not mean that the majority would have been stupid, which is the impression one gains through Styon's descriptions sometimes.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
We hold these truth to be self-evident that all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights. Among those: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Would really like to know how anyone could argue that wanting to marry the person one loves is not a man's pursuit of happiness. Can anyone please try to give me even one intelligent argument for why these marriages should be outlawed? Just so pointless and such a waste of time to even try to attain laws like this.
Let's move on to the more interesting subject of European hypocrisy. We all know about the deplorable conditions in Guantanamo and the scathing criticism employed by European politicians in regard to this extra-legal entity. So, as verdant European citizens we would expect our political representatives to fight for the freedom of the innocently imprisoned and a fair trial for those suspected of wrong doing. Yet, of course this is not the case, as soon as the cameras are off, the microphones are switched off Paulus becomes Saulus again (to use an antonomasia) and any request by the US-administration to take on prisoners is turned down. Even if the country (Germany) in the past had vocally opposed the USA in its quest against islamic terrorism consistently and the prisoner (Murat Kurnaz) has lived in that country (again Germany, Bremen to be specific) for far more than half of his life.
This European high-handedness seriously pisses me off sometimes.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Pakistan & Kazakhstan
Haffner gibt einen historischen Aufriß der Demokratie in Deutschland, geht kurz auf ihr Scheitern vor 1933 ein, um dann die bisherige Geschichte der BRD zusammenzufassen. All dies stark verkürzt auf Parteien bezogen. So spannend er dieses Thema auch darstellt, viele seiner Schlußfolgerungen kann ich nicht mittragen, bzw wirken heute aus der verklärenden Perspektive der Zukunft naiv.
So erklärt er den Zweiparteienstaat für das Nonplusultra der Demokratie. Ich würde wagen dies zu bezweifeln. Haffner offensichtlicherweise kommt aus einer Denkschule, die durch die Zersplitterung des Parteiensystems zwischen den beiden Weltkriegen geprägt war. Aus diesem Grund tendiert diese Generation dazu zwei stabile Monolithen, welche jeweils die alleinige Regierung stellen, gegenüber sich ständig verändernden Mehrheiten mehrerer Koalitonäre vorzuziehen. Persönlich kann ich dem nur aus zwei Gründen widersprechen.
Erstens, die Angst, daß instabile politische Mehrheiten die Demokratie in Deutschland zerstören würden, erscheint aus heutiger Sicht unverhältnismäßig. Ich würde behaupten, daß die Demokratie in der BRD - wenn man von einigen sehr suspekten Gebieten der ehemaligen DDR absieht - gefestigt genug ist, als daß sie einige Turbulenzen aushalten würde. Dem wichtigsten Grund für ein Zweiparteiensystem zu plädieren wird hiermit also die Grundlage entzogen.
Zweitens sehe ich die Gefahr einer Nivellierung der Parteien in einem Zweiparteiensystem. Ein Blick in die USA zeigt wie gering die Unterschiede zwischen den beiden dortigen konkurrierenden Parteien wirklich sind. Parteien sind dort nicht viel mehr als Vehikel um Kandidaten Ämter zu verschaffen und diese - Individuen - prägen das Bild ihrer Partei und die Partei derselben mehr als alles andere. Die Gefahr hierbei erscheint offensichtlich, es gibt keine wirklichen konkurrierenden Modelle mehr, sondern nur eine Annäherung an den Mittelwähler. Da alle rechts (oder links) der eigenen Position sowieso für die - relativ - näher positionierte Partei stimmen, findet der eigentlich Wettkampf in der Mitte statt, alle Programme, alle Ideen werden auf diesen Wähler zugeschnitten und die Unterschiede zwischen den Parteien verschwinden. Was aber steht dem Wähler dann letztendlich noch zur Wahl? Frau oder Mann? Arizona oder New York? Und, um bei diesem Modell zu bleiben, zwei der potentiellen Kandidaten für das Amt des Präsidenten der USA, Senator McCain and Senator Clinton, nähern sich von entgegengesetzten Seiten dem selben Punkt an, um eben dort die Wahl zu gewinnen. McCain befindet sich in Daueropposition zu seinem Präsidenten und Parteifreund Bush, während Clinton vor einiger Zeit in Kooperation mit Newt Gingrich agierte (das ist in etwa so, als ob Joschka Fischer mit Franz Josef Strauß eine Initiative gestartet hätte um seine Chancen auf das Kanzleramt zu erhöhen).
Was mich an Haffners Buch zusätzlich stört ist die absolute Verdammung der Grünen, welche dieser vornimmt. Sicherlich war die Entwicklung dieser - damals - neuen Partei so nicht vorherzusehen, aber Haffner prinzipiell verdammt die Etablierung neuer Parteien im allgemeinen, bevor er im besonderen die Grünen auseinander nimmt - vor allem aufgrund ihrer Fixierung auf nur einen Programmpunkt und ihrem nur auf die Oppositionsarbeit ausgerichteten Streben - seine Kritikpunkt besitzen nicht nur aus heutiger Sicht keine Validität mehr, ich würde auch seinem Widerstand gegen die Schaffung neuer Parteien im allgemeinen widersprechen.
Einmal davon ausgehend, daß ein Zweiparteiensystem nicht das optimale ist, denke ich, daß neue Partikularinteressen (Umwelt (80er), erhöhte soziale Schieflage und Arbeitslosigkeit (heute)), welche in den großen Volksparteien ungenügend vertreten sind, nicht nur das Recht sondern sogar die Pflicht besitzen sich in Parteien zu organisieren und im Akkord mit den anderen Interessenvertretungen (also der FDP zB) bzw den beiden Volksparteien zu regieren.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Iraq is in the Arab heartland and, far more than Afghanistan, is a magnet for mujahideen. You can see this in the large number of people crossing the border to fight us. It wasn't a lot at the start, but there's been a steady growth as the war continues. The war has validated everything bin Laden said: that the United States will destroy any strong government in the Arab world, that it will seek to destroy Israel's enemies, that it will occupy Muslim holy places, that it will seize Arab oil, and that it will replace God's law with man's law. We see Iraq as a honey pot that attracts jihadists whom we can kill there instead of fighting them here. We are ignoring that Iraq is not just a place to kill Americans; Al Qaeda has always said that it requires safe havens. It has said it couldn't get involved with large numbers in the Balkans war because it had no safe haven in the region. Now they have a safe haven in Iraq, which is so big and is going to be so unsettled for so long. For the first time, it gives Al Qaeda contiguous access to the Arabian Peninsula, to Turkey, and to the Levant. We may have written the death warrant for Jordan. If we pull out of Iraq, we have a problem in that we may have to leave a large contingent of troops in Jordan. All of this is a tremendous advantage for Al Qaeda. We've moved the center of jihad a thousand miles west from Afghanistan to the Middle East.
There seriously is no one who could be taken seriously and would present any kind of opposition to the current US-administration. A very sad state of affair this is.
Friday, September 29, 2006
NY Times & WP
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Plus, a really interesting article on a grand design the US supposedly follows in Asia. Am not sure I believe it whole-heartedly, interesting theory though.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Je dois admettre que j'ai aimé le livre de noveau. La langue est pas trop difficile pour moi et les blagues sont génials quand même. Je ne vais pas vraiment décrire l'histoire ici, je suis sur que presque tous entre vous le connaissent. Le petit Nicolas est un garcon qui raconte ses aventures à l'école et chez lui, avec ses amis et tout seul. En résumé, moi j'ai l'aimé, achetez-vous ca!
Encore, si vous voulez, tous les rectification ont la bienvenue.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Und ein weiteres Buch,
Stammheim - Die Geschichte des Vollzugsbeamten Horst Bubeck von Kurt Oesterle. Das Buch ist irgendwann letztes Jahr rausgekommen und hatte in der Zeit eine ziemlich gute Besprechung bekommen, außerdem fand ich Stefan Austs Standardwerk über die RAF (Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex oder so ähnlich) sehr faszinierend, deswegen war die Geschichte des örtlich Verantwortlichen im siebten Stock Stammheims interessant für mich.
Ich fand das Ganze letzten Endes auch amüsant und zeitweise auch lehrreich, muß aber aus zwei Gründen vor dem Kauf abraten. Erstens ist die Diskussion zu einem ganz großen Teil eine der Vergangenheit, welche keinen Bezug zur Gegenwart mehr besitzt. Während Austs Werk mehr eine allgemeine Geschichte der RAF war, deren Ausläufer bis in die 90er aktiv waren, und gerade in Bezug auf den modernen Terrorismus interessante Parallelen aufzubieten hatte - sowohl auf Seiten der Terroristen wie auf Seiten des Staates, behandelt Oesterle doch nur einen sehr konkreten Aspekt in Bezug auf die RAF. Das Buch dreht sich im Prinzip nur um die Haftbedingungen in Stammheim, über welche damals von rechts und links aus sehr unterschiedlichen Gründen und mit sehr verschiedenen Resultaten spekuliert wurde. Mir, als Mensch der damals noch keine Zeitung las, hauptsächlich, weil ich noch nicht geboren war, ist diese Diskussion natürlich nicht sonderlich nahe gegangen und somit fehlt mir ein - für diese Buch glaube ich notwendiger - emotionaler Zugang. Zweitens schreibt Kurt Oesterle zwar kein schlechtes Deutsch, aber man merkt ihm an, daß er halt ein Journalist und kein Autor ist. Ich war nicht so begeistert von der Art wie das Buch geschrieben war.
Deswegen, ich fand es nett, habe es relativ schnell durchgelesen, würde es aber weder in meinen Sachbuch- noch in meinen Literaturkanon aufnehmen - nicht, daß es den bisher geben würde, aber was nicht ist, kann ja noch kommen.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I also re-read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, a book I can endorse whole-heartedly. I do have to admit that I liked it better the last time I had read it though - when I was 16 maybe - why I am not quite sure. What I know I disliked this time around - which might have completely escaped my notice last time - was the presentation of free-spirited sex as something degenerative. This complete moral condemnation of a non-monogamous society contained a little too much of certain conservative strains for me.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt a écrit Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran, il y a un film sur le roman, qui j'ai pas encore vu. L'édition laquelle j'ai lu a les mots difficile en bas, mais j'ai pas trouvé le livre vraiment difficile. Il s'agit de l'amitié entre un homme d'origine turc et un garcon juif, qui grandit de fait sans parents. Franchement, j'ai aimé bien le livre, mais je pense que dans un autre langue j'aurais une opinion differente. En francais j'était heureux que j'ai réussi à finir et comprendre le livre. Dans une langue que je parle mieux, je suis presque sûr que je le trouverais trop doux et un peu superficiel avec un sujet lequel on pourrait discuter vraiment profond. En même temps, je dois admettre que peut-être j'ai pas compri les éléments profond parfois, parce que mon francais est pas suffisant fort.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
One of these was Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, I hadn't read this before, just knew that it was considered a classic and part of the (in?)famous literal canon. I really like Hemingway, he is not on the same level as people like Faulkner or Twain but he always provides a good read and did not disappoint this time around either. The story in itself is quite surprising as neither women nor booze play any kind of relevant role. An old fisher-man has not caught anything for more than 80 days, yet does not give up trying and is ultimately - in a way - rewarded or punished, however might one view the end. I am not going into anything else here as I don't want to destroy it for anyone wanting to read the novel. Let it suffice to say that it is a really recommendable book. I really enjoyed it. A word of warning though, due to its length - barely more than 100 pages in my version - and Hemingway's contracted writing stlye it took my not even half a day to finish it.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Frei nach dem Motto 'Pack schlägt sich, Pack verträgt sich' (wenns ums
Ich muß mal wieder ein paar Bücher nachholen, werde aber auch bald mal kurz was über Paris schreiben, wo ich inzwischen schon fast seit einer Woche bin. Habe mein erstes Buch von Thomas Mann gelesen. Der Tod in Venedig. Mann war immer eine meiner Bildungslücken - die in Bezug auf deutsche Literatur aber irgendwie trotzdem immer noch sehr groß sind - deswegen hatte ich mir vor einiger Zeit diese Novellensammlung gekauft. Ich aber ganz ehrlich sagen, daß ich nicht vollends begeistert was. Die Geschichten sind natürlich handwerklich genial geschrieben, seine Sätze sind zeitweise einfach nur bewundernswert - und zwingen dem Leser desöfteren auch eine Wiederholung auf - trotzdem habe ich keinen rechten Zugang zu ihnen gefunden. Die Themen sind oft sehr klassisch - Eros wir unter anderem einmal aufgearbeitet, Tristan und Isolde, Moses - und ich muß zugeben, daß meine Vorkenntnisse wahrscheinlich zeitweise einfach nicht ausreichend sind, um diese Variationen vollkommen nachzuvollziehen. Nichtsdestotrotz gefielen mir drei der sechs Erzählungen gut - ein indisches Märchen, die Geschichte des Auszuges aus Ägypten, sowie der scheiternde, unbelehrbare, religiöse Fanatiker. Was mich glaube ich am meisten störte ist die Tatsache, daß Mann die Schreibkunst als solche offensichtlich als wichtiger erachtet als seine Geschichte - womit er ja im 20. Jahrhundert bei weitem nicht alleine ist - was aber leider dem Spannungsbogen abträglich ist.
Empfehle ich das Buch also weiter? Jein. Kaufen sollte man es sich vielleicht nicht unbedingt, aber wenn Ihr die folgenden Geschichten irgendwo sehen solltet holt sie Euch, bzw lest sie:
Die Vertauschten Köpfe, Das Gesetz, Gladius Dei.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Faithful to his pitbull the President has entered the fray now and given us his input and I am going to be quite honest about this, he is a liar:
"withdrawing now from Iraq would leave Americans at risk of terrorist attacks 'in the streets of our own cities'"
Yeah, right, how is that not distorting the truth? And I did not have sex with that woman deserved impeachment?
He also "cautioned Americans against concluding that five years after the Sept. 11 attacks the threat had receded" and thus he at least admits that his politics have been a complete failure.
So sad that people still fall for this folly.
Lastly, my name is Sensemania or sometimes LKwesiJ or even JDub and I endorse this message:
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I cannot believe he still has the audacity to even imply that Saddam was in any way connected to 9/11, unbe-fuckin-lievable.
Concerning this topic it is good news that the American public seems to have developed a more sensible approach finally.
"Americans increasingly see the war in Iraq as distinct from the fight against terrorism, and nearly half believe President Bush has focused too much on Iraq to the exclusion of other threats, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Der Autor gibt drei Probleme, welchen sich Deutschland inzwischen angepasst hat:
1 - Durch die Einführung des Euros verlor Deutschland Investitionsgelder die als Spekulation auf einen Kursanstieg der DM ins Land flossen, diese hatten deutschem Kapital jahrzehntelang - im internationalen Vergleich - niedrige Rendite ermöglicht, da der deutsche Finanzmarkt hierdurch vom internationalen abgekoppelt agierte.
2 - Mit der DM als Leitzins Europas war es der Bundesbank möglich die günstigsten Finanzierungsbedingungen zu schaffen, auch dies viel mit der Einführung des Euro weg.
3 - Da Kapital meist durch Anleihe bei Banken angesammelt wurde, bestand weniger Druck für hohe Rendite (da Banken keine kurzfristige Ausschüttung, sondern eine langfristige Rückzahlung ihrer Kredit erwünschen).
Sunday, August 20, 2006
The second article is an Op-Ed from the NY Times arguing that American ties to Pakistan should be strengthened as they helped prevent attacks from occurring a few days ago. The authors go on to list various positive aspects of General Musharraf's regime. I simply cannot believe that in a war supposedly fought for the defense of the enlightenment, for the spreading of democracy (sorry, I like to get corny with stuff like this sometimes) what these two guys are advocating is to support a dictator who tight-fisted rules with the help of the military. History does repeat itself it seems, as long as the dictator's enemies are our enemies, the worst ones will be supported (Saddam in the 80s, Pinochet in the 70s, Mobutu, the Iranian Shah, the list goes on and on).
Seriously wonder how this struggle can ever be won by the West if this is how we fight it.
Friday, August 18, 2006
The story is one of a young girl and her brother growing up with their father alone in a small Southern town. While sampling many aspects in the novel, the authors most important strain is the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman (THE perpetual fear of Southerners most likely brought about by the fact that white men had been raping black women for centuries by then, no, I guess I'm just kidding). The father is his attorney and tries to defend this hard-working upright citizen against the charges brought against him by a family residing on the lowest rung of the social ladder. The narrator is an 8-year old girl (the American obsession with young narrators is really quite intriguing btw, Catcher In The Rye, Huckleberry Finn...) telling the story out of her naive point of view.
Again, a really good book, I ate it up, finishing it in a day and a half (or something like that). I recommend it to anyone. One point of criticism does apply though. This is of a very similar nature to the attacks launched on Uncle Tom's Cabin and others later (like, again, Huckleberry Finn). While it is obvious that the author sympathizes with the plight of the American black men (including women in this, maybe people would be more appropriate) the portrayal of the few black characters that appear in this novel are quite unflattering. The woman taking care of Atticus' (the father) household is the stock character of the unselfish, nice black mother figure that takes care of the children as if they are their own. Yet, she is the only black character developing any kind of depth, even if hers is very shallow indeed. Every black character (including the, surely educated to some degree, reverend) address Jem (the 13-year old brother of the narrator) as Sir. He is thirteen for God's sake. Lee seems to fall for the typical white Southern, she does so well-intentioned, but yet her description of the race problem in the South explores the topic from one side exclusively, making it lack in profoundness to a certain degree.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
The father - a German Jew - and the mother - a black woman from a well-respected and educated Philadelphia family - meet and decide to marry in the late 30s. As they are both musically inclined - the mother having been an aspiring classical singer - they teach sing with their children from an early age on, leading to the two sons developing an astounding classical musical talent. Yet, racial problems lead to an estrangement of the mother from her family and - later - of the daughter from her father. Ultimately it seems as if race trumps family and even love. The three children in various degrees seem to fail in their attempt to deal with their mixed heritage.
The book was an engulfing read even though - and I believe some people might consider this a reason for the quality of the book - the too prominent and frequent descriptions of the families or the two sons singing or performing music. Powers tries to portray music as an all-compassing, all-explaining medium, which might even be true but in a literal description and with this kind of repetitiveness it creates boredom. Less annoying, but also overdone where the detailing of physics in which the father indulges himself in - he is a professor at Columbia. These discussions also lead to a very bizarre and lame meta-physical ending which not only seems unnecessary but also contrary to the logic deployed in the rest of the book.
What made the book intriguing was the children's attempt to deal with their position in the world which does not approve of them. Their heritages seemingly cannot be combined. Powers does a very good job of describing the narrator - the younger brother - and his sentiments, his attempts at dealing with being a black classical pianist who is of German and Jewish heritage and thus not being able to fit in either world.
Yet, some more criticism is valid and obligatory.
1 - The father never appropriately learns English but always falls back on using some German in his everyday speech. This of course is totally unrealistic for someone who has no family but his only English-speaking wife and kids and works and teaches in an American university. Powers also commits the occasional blunder in regard to his attempts to introduce these German phrases. Once for example the father proclaims that someone might be 'burning a path for himself'. The word should be 'blazing' of course but since there is no equivalent saying like this in German there is no reason whatsoever for the character to blunder like this. Either he knows the saying or he does not, there is no wrong translation of a saying that does not exist in the other language.
2 - According to Powers the father can 'never be more to her [the wife] than almost recognizable, a stranger to her blood, the father of her children' making it sound as if a black man would be able to become more but him because of his skin colour cannot. I do not know what skin colour Powers has - and I do not intend to find out - but this whole BS of skin colour in any way inherently influencing who you are is ludicrous.
3 - The older brother is compared with various classical figures in the headlines to some chapters such as Aeneas and Job. I am relatively familiar with both of these and truth to be told I found no resemblance between that brother and either of those figures. Bizarre usage of classical references.
So, do I recommend the book? After all this criticism probably should be a clear-cut no. Yet, it is not, I liked reading it. Admittedly, it probably helps that I read quite fast making it easy for me to race through the musical parts, but the portrayed mindset and decisions made by characters from a biracial background during the 60s were interesting even if I did not agree with most of them.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Apart from that I had a nice and relaxing vacation in Italy and finally got around to read a couple of books again - if not as many as I would have liked to. I will post on these books over the next few days.
The first one I read was The Hamlet by William Faulkner. This actually might be the hardest one to write anything about. Just saying it is by Faulkner seems to be enough. He is hands-down one of the greatest writers - if not the single greatest - I have ever read. The Hamlet he wrote in 1940 and it describes Flem Snopes beginning rise to power in Yoknapatawpha County. It is the first part of a trilogy about the Snopes family in general. In a way I guess it could be described as vintage Faulkner containing pre-marital sex, violence and even bestiality. Yet, these outbursts of the ugly side of life is not what Faulkner focuses on, rather it is the ruthless rise of Flem Snopes who slowly takes over Frenchman's Bend.
Flem in a lot of ways resembles the carpet-bagger who comes in from the North and through his bold and ruthless measures overpowers the naive locals, only that he himself alos comes from a poor, white sharecropping family. The only individual capable of putting up any kind of resistance to Flem is Ratliff. He also is a successful and scheming dealer and wheeler, but he always stays in the limits of Southern courteousy, thus limiting himself in his actions against Flem. If Ratliff can be taken as a symbol for the Old South then and Flem as one for Modernity arriving in the backwaters of Mississippi, it should be quite clear who will win in the end.
This in itself is nothing new for a Faulner novel. They all seem to deal with the vanishing of the Old South. Yet, they do so in manners and stories that differ a lot from each other and Faulkner's eloquence and powerful imagery ensur that the reader (read: me) is always grasped by the unfolding events. While it is clear that in a Faulkner Pantheon The Hamlet need not be included and that for the uninitiated reader I would propose to start out with Absalom, Absalom or Intruder in the Dust, this, like all of Faulkner's novels really, is a very intruiging and interesting book that I would recommend anyone to pick up if the see it anywhere. I know that I will get myself the latter two books of the trilogy when I see them somewhere and my reading schedule and budget allow for it to happen.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
The sexuality of this music is really quite amazing considering how old it is and considering how much of conservative backlash certain things still produce, but 'I want you to ride me' might refer to her new Mustang only as well I guess.
So, after the last two horrible weeks of no fun and games, but virtually only studying economics tout le jour, I am finally on vacation. Will be going to Italy tomorrow and stay there for 10 days. Shortly after that it will be off to Paris to begin my studies there. I am really looking forward to this vacation now, finally one which I can actually claim I deserve, and after that studying in Paris and improving my french should be fun. I'll definitly be more of a frequent writer on here, once I am back from the communication-hole that Italy represents for me.
On add-on, tomorrow morning I am going to take a TOEFL exam (Test Of English As A Foreign Language), I need that in order to apply to exchange programs with the US (which I intend to do quite soon, apply that is, see whether they actually take me). The maximum in points achievable is 120, a certain arrogance in regard to my knowledge of the English language makes me claim that anything below 110 will be an utter disappointment for me. I am kind of curious to see whether I'll be able to fulfill my own expectations.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
From the new - and very decent - Ghostface Killah album.
I finally found a place to stay in Paris. Can't even begin to describe how happy I am about this, I had been looking on and off for like two months. Things either were too expensive or the people didn't make a sympathetic impression or they were foreigners whose french wouldn't help mine. So, now I finally found a place in the 18th district (just a 'lil north of Sacre-Coeur for those of you who know Paris a bit), the apartment is shared with a french guy. Ja, all perfect :).
Also I wrote the first of my three exams today, have two more coming up now, one (Economics I) tomorrow and the other one (Economics III) on tuesday. The one today was about Foreign US Trade Policy. Quite interesting actually. The whole thing was split into two essays for each of which we had three subjects to choose from. I wrote about trade theories (this whole Ricardo, comparative advantages and so on, really interesting that) and the possibilty of Congress not extending the President's Trade Promotion Authority next year. Kind of weird that I am actually fascinated with some of this macroeconomics stuff now. I mean most of this micro-BS I can't stand, so boring, don't even know how the guys who study this (hallo alle BWLer) survive, but macroeconomic policy is really cool.
Anyway, back to my schedule of little sleep and less entertainement (like reading the paper for exemple or continueing my novel, fuck, I'm dying for my vacation).
Monday, July 24, 2006
He is neither as good as his dad nor as his son, but he did have his moments and this one definitely was one of them.
Bill Maher's 'New Rules'
definitely a book for the TV-generation, it consists of a massive amount of short paragraphs describing rules that Maher would like to lay down.
For those of you not familiar with Bill Maher (like me for example, everything about him I write is here is based on hearsay), he apparently is a TV-moderator that used to host a show called 'Politically Incorrect'. He got fired there because of some joke about the US-army he made and now he has another show in the same vein on a different network.
So, basically he attacks and criticizes American culture and politics out of a left-wing point of view with some conservative values thrown in for good measures. All in all the whole thing has a couple things going for it and some going against it.
1 - The paragraphs are way too short, basically it is one joke after another with no kind of build-up in between. Usually at the end of each chapter (which are lettered A-Z) a longer piece finds its place. These for the most part were far most thoughtful and interesting than the other stuff.
2 - Too many of the jokes centered on pop culture aspects which I personally just don't know anything about (nor really care about it truth to be told).
1 - Some of the jokes really cracked me up, refreshing to read someone who as few inhibitions in his humor (especially considering his political views correspond with mine).
2 - Good, quick read. I don't think it took much more than 2-3 hours net reading time to get through it. Perfect for an evening reading when you did university work all day and just want something to relax with.
So, am I recommending this or am I not? I am. Don't expect wonders, but some laughs and an enjoyable - if fast - read.
What would interest me is whether he actually wrote the book himself, considering in these TV-shows they usually employ a million of joke writers.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Der Vergleich am Ende erscheint ein wenig übertrieben aber ansonsten fühle ich mich selber auch getroffen irgendwie. Man hat (oder ich habe) halt eine Schwäche für solch schönspielende Spieler, ob sie nun Zizou, Maradonna, Gazza oder JDub heißen.
Zwei Autoren stellen rückblickend klar, daß in der Diskussion um Materazzi und Zidane der Täter heroisiert werde. Dirk Schümer (FAS) ärgert sich über die „Ammenmärchen, die den wilden Stier Zidane zum Opfer verklären. Der Kopframmer des Franzosen, ein paar Zentimeter tiefer gesetzt, hätte innere Verletzungen zur Folge haben können, ein paar Zentimeter höher Knochenbrüche. Doch statt über diese Gewalt auf dem Fußballplatz redet die Welt – von französischen Zeitungen bis zum algerischen Präsidenten – über die Unsportlichkeit 'der Italiener'; sogar für die Regelverletzungen der Regierung Berlusconi muß Materazzi geradestehen. Daß Materazzi seinen Gegner beleidigt hat, gab der hölzern wirkende Abwehrrecke gleich nach dem Spiel selber zu und entschuldigte sich – anders als Zidane, der keine Reue über seine Tat empfindet. Während der eigentliche Übeltäter sich medial zum Schützer von Witwen, Schwestern, Müttern aufschwingen konnte, mußte Materazzi bei der Fifa vorsprechen; zwei Spiele Sperre drohen ihm mindestens – für Verbalakte eine ganz neue Dimension im Fußball. Es ist ein bißchen wie bei den Mohammed-Karikaturen: Die eher harmlose diskursive Tat wirkt am Ende skandalöser als die reale Gewalt.“
Thursday, July 20, 2006
from his new album 'Delta Hardware'
Way too much work here, have three economics exams in the next two weeks, plus I am looking for a place to stay in Paris and for someone to sublet my room while I am gone. No fun and games, that's for sure.
Just wanted to shell out one quick theory of mine here (and no, I haven't really developed it yet, destroy it if you feel like it). I believe that the Western world (Europe, the US and Israel) have brought this escalation in the Middle East about by refusing to talk to Hamas. It is a well-established fact that governance weakens radical elements in any group, but instead of supporting the moderate elements in Hamas by helping them govern Palestina better than the PLO did before, the West pushed them all in one corner. Hamas signed a document accepting Israel (kind of) only shortly before this whole thing erupted. I think they should/could have totally coerced into becoming a workable partner.
Friday, July 14, 2006
One of the best Hip Hop songs ever, period.
It's quite funny how most Republicans/conservative types claim that activist judges tend to change America's society unduely (is that an acceptable word? somehow seems weird), when one considers decisions such as the one from New York last week.
Apparently, homosexuals cannot marry because "unstable relationships between people of the opposite sex present a greater danger that children will be born into or grow up in unstable homes than is the case with same-sex couples".
I'm not even going to begin detailing how ridicolous this argumentation is, read the article, laugh some, or cry. Homosexual mariage really is inevitably coming (und das ist auch gut so!) if this is the line of defense that the conservatives are drawing.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Neil Young - Lookin For A Leader
I am really busy right now as my exams are approaching and I am continuously looking for a place to stay in Paris, so posts are quite infrequent right now. Sorry about that.
The most recent book I have managed to finish was Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels. It is a detailed account of Gettysburg to many the turning point in the War of the Secession. Shaara writes out of the point of view of varying commanders including Lee, Longstreet, Buford and Chamberlain. While the book is plainly fictional, Shaara claims - and fulfills that promise - to give an accurate portray of that momentous battle and its commanders. Supposedly his characterization relies to a large extent on letters written by these historical figures. He does make a good job of keeping himself out of the picture and keeping his description fact-based. All in all the book definitely is recommendable, especially - or maybe under the condition that - you are interested in the Civil War and its protagonists.
Interesting is especially the glorification of Robert E. Lee which persists until this day and completely ignores tactical blunders committed by him during this battle between the Army of the Potomac and the Northern Virginian Army. What also is extremely fascinating is the role these people played before or after the war though. One cavalry general, J.E.B. Stuart, becoming one of the creators of the myth of the 'Lost Southern Cause', others like Longstreet, the second in command behind Lee, switching sides and working under Ulysseus Grant. I definitely am a little too interested in history (especially American history actually) sometimes, still, definitely a worthy book.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Finde es ganz interessant, daß die Deutschen es super finden, daß 'wir' 'endlich' wieder Nationalstolz haben (ob diese ganze Deutschlandparty irgendwas mit Nationalität zu tun hat wäre natürlich erst noch zu beantworten, es gibt wohl eine ziemlich starke Gruppe unter den Rechten denen dies alles eher suspekt ist, weil es nicht erhaben genug sei), dabei aber vollkommen ignorieren was eigentlich der Rest der Welt darüber denkt. So gut wie jede Zeitung schwappt über vor Selbstbeweihräucherung wie gut alles läuft hier (nur in Bezug auf die WM leider, aber dann wen interessiert schon eine Gesundheits- oder Föderalismusreform, ist ja nun nicht so als ob die irgendwelche Auswirkungen auf uns hätten). Die Zeit geht wenigstens kurz auf andere Länder ein, in ihrem Leitartikel schreibt sie, daß "das Ausland durchweg wohlwollend [...] [Beifall klatscht]: Endlich habt ihr euren Frieden mit euch gemacht".
Ich lese jetzt leider nicht allzu viele ausländische Zeitungen (die NZZ, NY Times, Economist mehr oder weniger regelmäßig), aber anders als Christof Siemes dies auf Seite 1 der Zeit behauptet, scheint 'das Ausland' nicht wirklich so locker zu reagieren.
Wer die Menge an Beschimpfungen Italiener nach dem Halbfinale gehört hat (bin fast in eine Schlägerei gekommen, weil ich einem Kerl 'Ohne Deutschland fahren wir nach Berlin hinterhergerufen habe weil dessen 'Scheiß Spaghettifresser' Kommentare - gelinde gesagt - angekotzt haben), sollte da auch nochmal drüber nachdenken. Was war der größte Schlachtruf der deutschen Fans nochmal? Siehe oben und ersetze Deutschland mit Holland. Soll das ein positiver Nationalismus sein? Und warum wurde die italienische Nationalhymne nochmal ausgepfiffen? Weil Frings angeblich wegen eines italienischen Fernsehsenders gesperrt wurde? Ist das nicht die Aufgabe der Medien? Die Aufdeckung solcher Aktionen? Wie es das deutsche Fernsehen es übrigens auch mit Peter Crouch nach dessen Tor gegen Trinidad & Tobago gemacht hatte. Wer ist denn Schuld daran, daß Frings dem Argentinier über den nicht vorhandenen Bart streicht? Das Italienische Fernsehen oder Torsten Frings?
Letztendlich, ich weiß nicht wieviele von Euch die 'Glosse' über die Italiener auf Spiegel.de gelesen haben (ich ursprünglich nicht, mußte ihn mir raussuchen, denn inzwischen hat sich der Spiegel entschuldigt und den Artikel aus dem Netz genommen). Lest Euch das aber mal durch. Soll das witzig sein und ist das unser neuer Patriotismus? Die anderen sind alle doof, aber wir sind ganz toll. Das ein Deutscher sich über Schwalben echauffiert sollte in Bezug auf '74 und '90 sowieso echt unterbleiben.
Der italienische Mann, nennen wir in Luigi Forello, ist eine parasitäre Lebensform. Er ist nicht in der Lage, ohne fremde Hilfe zu überleben. Irgendwo saugt er sich immer fest. Und dann lässt er sich fallen. Gern auch auf dem Fußballplatz. Luigi Forello ist fortgesetzt damit beschäftigt, seine Hilflosigkeit zu zeigen. Das fängt schon beim Namen an. Wer nicht Luigi heißt, hört auf "Andrea" oder "Luca".
Luigis vorrangiges Lebensziel ist das Vermeiden von Anstrengung. Liebstes Wirtstier ist "La Mama", seine großbrüstige Erzeugerin, die ihm seine halbseidenen Socken wäscht und jeden Tag Nudeln kocht, mit dick Soße drauf. Wenn er ungefähr 30 Jahre alt ist, wechselt der italienische Mann die Köchin. Er heiratet, um sich fortzupflanzen. Die Folgen sind grausam. Eine ehemals strahlend schöne Italienerin verwandelt sich binnen weniger Monate in eine breithüftige Küchenmaschine - eine neue Mama. Das ist ihm aber egal, denn Luigi ist mit der Teilnahme an einem Autokorso beschäftigt, sofern sein klappriger Fiat es bis dahin schafft. Zum Essen ist er aber wieder da.
Beim Sport ist unser Luigi besonders tückisch, wie man jedes Jahr millionenfach an den Stränden der Adria beobachten kann. Er braucht Stunden, um seinen schmächtigen Körper und das Haupthaar einzuölen, seinen Rücken von Fellresten zu befreien und sein wenig spektakuläres Gemächt in eine viel zu enge Badehose zu stopfen. Dann stolziert er stundenlang umher, um schließlich maximal fünf Minuten beim Strandfußball mitzumachen. Er springt wie ein Wahnsinniger umher, imitiert brüllend Gesten, die er im Fernsehen gesehen hat, trifft den Ball höchst selten, die Knochen der anderen dafür umso härter.
Weil er schnell erschöpft ist, genügt ihm die leiseste Berührung eines Gegners, um melodramatisch zu Boden zu gehen. Noch im Stürzen wirft er einen Blick ringsum, ob im Publikum genügend Menschen sind, insbesondere Frauen, die ihn bemitleiden und wieder aufpäppeln. Schmachtende Blicke deutscher Urlauberinnen sind die Lebensgrundlage des italienischen Mannes.
Insofern geschah gestern nicht Ungewöhnliches. Fabio Grosso fiel im Strafraum und grinste noch im Fallen. Der nicht minder ölige Francesco Totti verwandelte dann den Elfmeter gegen Australien. Danach lutschte er am Daumen. Das ist normal bei italienischen Männern. Es war wie immer. Am Freitag werden die kickenden Holzfäller aus der Ukraine eingeölt und angeschmiert. So schlawinern sich die Italiener mal wieder bis ins Halbfinale. Dann, liebe Luigis, ist allerdings Feierabend. Wir haben da noch ein paar Rechnungen vom letzten Italien-Urlaub offen.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Newest book finished is Paul Auster's Timbuktu. Am I recommending this book to you? No.
I really like Paul Auster, I believe his New York trilogy was pure genius (most girls seem to disagree with this, most guys side with me, interesting sub plot, will not be followed up upon here though), but this book was a disappointment. It is the story of a dog whose master is slowly dying of a life on the road yet wants to achieve one last thing before he leaves for Timbuktu (which is used as a synonym for heaven). While these events unfold the dog recapitulates his life with that master, followed by his thoughts on and during his search for a new life after he is gone. So far, so good. Or better, so far, so boring. Maybe a really talented author could manage to twist this into a captivating story. Even though I did have Auster down for a really talented author, he definitly does not get it done here.
What struck me the weirdest was his constant desire to let the third-person narrator exclaim that Mr Bones (catchy name, huh?) is obviously only a dog, making it impossible for him to certain kind of thought processes. Why would one want to write a story out of that point of view? I mean, don't get me wrong, I can see instances where this child-like, half-wit perspective works really well (The Sound and The Fury , Huckleberry Finn) and furthers the story. But Auster does not take advantage of this at all, he simply lets that dog tell a kind of pointless story out of a very limited point of view. I really don't see no good in that at all.
My dad probably summed it up best: "Maybe he just writes too much"
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
So, the newest book I finished (harking back to my NY Times post) was Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. This actually was a while ago, but somehow I haven't gotten around to writing on that. The book in general is kind of weird, in a way it is a Taratino movie as a book (and published before Tarantino ever did anything), lots of kind of senseless violence and virtually no plot (if that doesn't sound like Kill Bill I don't know what does, even though it has to be admitted that Kill Bill actually has a more coherent stoy line than this book had).
I cannot really claim that I didn't like the book, it wasn't bad in parts. But I guess I just can't really get into these later postmodern novels. Faulkner is full of violence (and every other human tragedy) but there these things are explained to an extent. The black guy who starts running amok in one book (can't think of the title or his name right now) one can feel with, even Quentin Compson committing suicide in the Sound and The Fury makes sense somehow. Maybe one is disappointed with how people decide to act sometimes, but you get it at the same time. In the Blood Meridian this kid is just a senseless killing and fighting machine. No explanation is offered, there is no thinking on his part portrayed that would somehow offer a reason for the things he does. I don't like that as much. I feel like the great advantage of a book over any other medium (mainly films) is that an inner monologue can (and often in good literature is) the main device used to portray what is going on and more importantly why. When this is missing, when it is just a group of riders, pillaging, raping and killing I don't really get the point anymore.
Anyway, I got myself another one of his books so maybe it'll grow on me, seriously need to start reading faster and more again though, too much time at the computer and going out (with the world cup definitly to blame for the latter).
Below, two pictures meant to convey the fun that the world cup here is and for those of you who don't know me, I am neither one of the guys in the sombrero nor the dude with the Ukrainian jersey.