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Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Chapel Hill, Boston, Istanbul, Calgary, Washington DC, Austin, Tunis, Warszawa and counting

Monday, February 27, 2006

Hypcocrites (Junior Delgado)

Junior Delgado: Hypocrites (I am not at home right now, so no song, I'll add it later)

First of all the news of the day if not week or even month (this being a lil' German-centric I admit it). Turns out German intelligence units seem to have helped the US-government quite a bit. The question now is, did the government know about this? The NYTimes says that the two agents working in Baghdad 'sent it [the report regarding the Saddam Hussein's defense instructions] up their chain of command' and that then some superior officer in Qatar passed in on to the Americans. Would he not give this information to his superiors in Germany? Would they not inform the administration? The chancellor, the secretary of state? How about the parlamentary controll unit (sucky translation, sorry)? Excepting the last one I just cannot see how these people would not know about this, maybe Fischer (secretary of state) wasn't informed but the - then - Kanzleramtsminister Steinmeiner (and nowadays secretary of state) was responsible for the BND (the German CIA), how could he not know about this? And if he doesn't what does this say about the information policy of German intelligence? I kind of take it for granted that the parlamentarian intelligence controll council (dammit, I really don't know how to say this properly in English, but I am too lazy to check what the NYTimes called that thing) and that is bad enough as it is. So, yeah, fucked up all around I'd say. Here is the article in the NYTimes, I am sure German papers will follow tomorrow.

While we are on the topic of German political failures, check out this one. Quite easily, it is the foremost task of a state to protect its citizens, dating back to Hobbes' Leviathan (and potentially before him) the 'contract' between government and citizen says that the citizen gives up certain rights (like the use of force) in exchange for receiving protection by the state. The German government not doing anything regarding this case is an embarrassment.

I really liked this Bill Simmons' column, I thought he had kind of lost his touch, but this one was really good. Lastly, the 2008 Olympic team (the US one that is) has been announced. Trust me and check it out, even if you are not that much into basketball, completely cracked me up.

Is there any way to describe the mess called Iraq as anything else than an utter failure. Did the US-administration actually prepare anything for after the war or did they really think it would all just fall into place? Is that naivety, arrogance or stupidity and how happy should we Germans be that it was a different administration that planned the German reconstruction?

Monday, February 20, 2006

I Like This Kind Of Music (Jim Ringo)

Jim Ringo: I Like This Kind Of Music

Need to add something to yesterday's post, I forgot about the whole phenomena of anti-american demonstrations in the 60s and 70s, so I guess it is not really the external image of the US that is or better was that amazing, but rather the internal one, to which I am probably highly susceptible simply because I read a lot of American books/magazines/newspaper articles. Generally a confusing topic, I think the quality of my thoughts/sentences about this shows that too.

The british government has decided to ban smoking. How astonishing is it that all these liberal anglo-saxon countries (USA, Great Britain & Ireland(is Ireland anglo-saxon initially?)) regulate in this area, that traditionally smoke crazy countries (Great Britain & Ireland again, Italy) outlaw smoking in public places, whereas Germany, infamous for its amount of bureaucratic regulations, does nothing whatsoever? Is this just a sad statement about the impact of tobacco company lobbying in Germany or does the government need the money flowing in through tobaccao sales that badly? Weird and ultimately sad, ain't it?

Interesting (and probably last, at least from here) article regarding the Danish carricatures.

Two opiniated statements on Kobe going for 81, one by Oscar Robertson, one by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who much to my surprise I just found out, is a bestseller author nowadays (even though the fact that he seems to write books with other people only makes me squirm).

Last but not least, I'll feed y'all a rumour circulating the halls of the Bundestag (German parliament) and Auswärtiges Amt (Department of State), supposedly Iceland wants to join the EU and is having early entry talks with high level officials in Brussels. If this is true, remember that you read it here first. Small quirks of working in the Bundestag I guess. I'll actually post some stuff I researched for work sometime in the next couple of days btw.

Just read last wednesday paper, The FR writes that the new (female) Greek secretary of state's most powerful weapon is her 'charming smile'. Seriously, how can anyone claim that equality does exist, when so many of these statements representing a certain mindset are still floating around? Bush's most powerful weapon is his moronic grin? Chirac's, his evil hand kiss? Fuckin' BS this. Guess I should keep quiet on this as I am part of the group of silent benefiters, but I mean hey, this is the fuckin 21st century.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hank Williams Syndrome (Waylon Jennings)

Waylon Jennings: Hank Williams Syndrome
Is there anyone more deserving of a tribute song than Hank Williams? Definitly one of the most amazing artists of the 20th century, only a select few can compete.

Managed to play some ball today for the first time in, well, ages it seemed, my offense sucked too (seemingly all of my shots, including layups came up short), but my D was pretty decent, even though I was completely dead in the last game. If you're interested in BBall, check out the slam that AI II did on saturday btw, just plain sick that thing.

Nothing too intelligent today (I'm still playing the catch-up game, am nearly done with tuesday's paper now), will try to read through all the NYTimes articles I've saved at work tomorrow though, sure there will be some stuff in there.

Here is a pretty funny German advertisement (and no, you don't really need to speak German or know Germany to get it) and one article (you need to know German for this one) which completely cracked me up.

On a more somber note, no need to make this blog too light-hearted after all, the world is a sucky place, we just got lucky and should know it (not that I really do or even think about this usually, but seriously would anyone argue with me on this one?), today in 1942 (ok, by now yesterday at least in German time, the US passed Executive Order 9066. How fucked up was that?
Think it is really interesting how the US has been capable of painting itself as the 'good' guy in international politics (ok, this has changed, now everbody (in Europe at least) depicts the US as the 'really bad' guy (which has about as much truth to it as the earlier designation did), but this was true (and still is for certain political circles) for a really long time in the 19th (I think) and 20th (I know) century). Hope I didn't lose anyone with that sentence (especially myself), so how did a nation that really acted as screwed up as every other nation did during the course of its history, achieve such a status? I really don't get this, I mean, yes, oldest democracy and so on and forth, the Constitution was great (the emphasis being on was, not is) same for the Declaration of Independence, I see all that and I am actually a big fan of the US, but still, the fact of the matter remains, that the US did as much wrong as every other nation and has done so at least since 1846 if not long before. If someone can enlighten me on this matter, be my guest...

OK, I'll try to end on a happy note, here is a quote from the Global Report on Anti-Semitism issued by the State Department regarding Jews in Germany which I can only accept really, since I believe the assesment to be sad but true:
'While anti-Semitism based on religious doctrines and traditional anti-Jewish prejudices continued to exist, Jewish leaders, academics, and others believe that a newer, nontraditional form of anti-Semitism is emerging in the country. This form tends to promote anti-Semitism as part of its other stands against globalization, capitalism, Zionism, and foreigners.'
Guess it didn't work out with the happy note, maybe next time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I'm A Loser (The Beatles)

The Beatles: I'm A Loser

I have to admit defeat today. I had started reading Ulysseus by James Joyce again which is considered the master piece of - at least - 20th century English literature. I got about half way, yet today I decided to mail it in. Simply, because what this had resulted in was me not reading at all anymore because I dreaded the fact that I had to continue with Ulysseus. Still feel bad about this though, first time ever I have given up on a book (ok, admittedly I did start the same book when I was in maybe 10th grade, but then I was young, stupid and my English not all that great), but I just did not read anything else anymore, resulting of all those cool books that I had bought/borrowed/stolen (usually from my Dad) at some point collecting dust on the shelf. Anyway, what it comes down to is a sucky taste in the mouth, defeat.

No great content today, sorry, I'm so busy right now, I haven't played ball in two weeks (which is pretty much unheard of from me). Just thought I'd showcase my most recent university output, it's a case study regarding the so-called McCain Amendment outlawing torture (not a precise description that actually, but if you are interested in the details, read the paper). Very technical, but also very recent and interestingly showcasing Congress its' constitutional rights again (finally I might add).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

John Walker's Blues (Steve Earle)

Steve Earle: John Walker's Blues

I had to work saturday (and no, I don't get any money for this internship, why would anyone pay me for actually working full and over time and doing decent content work too?) and it was really kind of interesting actually. The liberal party here in Germany had its international politics meeting (and I kept protocoll for the most part) and they decided for setting as one of their goals to have a European-wide electorate on the European Constitution in 2009. Can't really think of any decision I would agree with anymore than that one, I'll make sure to make a post on my EU-fanship at some point.

Today just an add on to the raging carricature business (I haven't gotten around to read the paper for like 4 days, so I might have missed something major, I'll catch up in the next couple of days (hopefully)). I want to point out two things (and thanks again for Ida's and Heidi's takes on this).

1. Just to put this whole thing in context, yes all these Arabian countries suffer from a lack in what we would call basic human rights (like freedom of speech, male-female equality and a lot of others...), but let's keep in mind that we (meaning the Western world as a whole) not too long ago was not much better in these regards. I read about a Bundesverfassungsgerichtsentscheidung the other day (a decision by the German Supreme Court) saying that women in 1966 were not only required by law to have sex with their husbands but that it also was illegal for them to show 'Gleichgültigkeit und Widerwille' (indifference and averseness) during intercourse. So, when we claim that these people live in the Middle Ages, we should keep in mind that those 'Middle Ages' are not too far removed from us. (This of course serves as an example only, whether it be racial discrimination and killings, the Holocaust, the colonial wars, we are talking about a long list of things that occurred only a short while ago, I only chose the aforementioned example, because it is more or less recent and illustrates the ridicolousness of the whole thing quite well).

2. Even though this is not totally true anymore, as (and this should be seen as just one example) there was a demonstration here in Berlin in front of the Danish embassy with 3000 people taking part in it, but still one should be aware that most of these massive demonstrations are taking place in countries with absolute authocratic if not totalitarian regimes. In Syria for example it is completely inconceivable for 100,000 people to gather for a demonstration if the government did not endorse and support the effort at least partly. Basically what some of this looks like to me, is that these regimes are trying to get rid of some of the pressure that they are facing because of their poor political records (whether it be economical, regarding corruption or democratic reforms) by blaming the Western devil outside of their countries. Usually this would be the US, this time it is Denmark (whose government's, well unfortunate handling of the whole situation certainly didn't help things either). People demonstrating against Denmark and the rest of the devilish West will not prepare a revolution at home.

At last but not least, I would like to make all of you aware of the fact that in the spring of 2003 Iran (with the help of Swiss diplomats) offered the US-government a detailed plan of normalising relations between the two, including the offer to cut support for the Hamas and Hisbollah. The administration rejected that offer, need I say anything else here? How stupid can you be? Axis of stupidity it should be called maybe...

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I feel bad writing about bball after the last post actually did receive two comments and I'll definitly write something else about this whole thing again soon, the new Zeit came out today too, so we'll see what they have to say about this (the NY Times kind of disappoints me in this matter honestly, cannot really put my finger on it how and where, but still...), but I had all this basketball stuff in the pipeline for some time so I just want to post it now (while I am bored at work).

A quote from a Bill Simmons blog entry that I thought interesting:
"On his blog, Scottie Pippen wrote about Kobe's 81-point game and how something like that is much more prone to happen these days -- he makes some interesting points about how the defensive rule changes have allowed pretty much any scorer in the league to spring for 40-50 points if they're making jumpers. I'm with Scottie -- scoring 50-plus against a good team in the early-90's was the equivalent of scoring 65-70 points now. MJ would have sprung for 80-plus against a bad team with these current rules. Anyway, it's worth a read. I would love to know if Scottie wrote this himself or had some help."

Two more links to articles, here is Paul Shirley's (who seems to have more time on his hands wince he quit his team, wonder whether he will actually sign with an NBA team at some point this year) newest entries (1 & 2)and Bill Simmons' latest column (which I haven't read yet, but since he is, well, amazing, I recommend it anyway).

I am sure most of you guys are aware of the Birdman's demise, so as a reminder to tragically cut short legacy, check this out (and honestly, I couldn't look at the screen the whole time, 'cause I felt so bad for the guy, seriously, especially 'cause the article about him that I posted about him the other day made me like him).

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Night time is the right time (to be in your bed) (adapted by Ray Charles)

Night time is the right time (Ray Charles)

Been a while since I posted anything, a week to be precise, I'll try to get this done at least twice a week from now on. Last week was just plainly horrible, I am working full time in the German parliament and at the same time had to write an essay and study for my final exams coming up in two weeks (OK, the study part was wishful thinking, but at least I got the essay done). Seriously need to improve my time management, the amount of sleep I have gotten lately is ridicolous (giving a shout out to Gabe at this point, no clue what kind of sleeping habits you have nowadays, I definitly beat you high school ones right now though). Right now I am simply dying to go to bed already again, but I at least want to finish this post (and maybe yesterday's paper after that).
First of all I would like to give another shout out to a friend of mine who claims he has been inspired by me to take up writing a blog as well, while I appreciate that claim, I (maybe sadly, since I guess I would benefit from the belief) am not arrogant enough to completely believe him (maybe calling me the tipping point would be more precise. Well, anyway, here is a link to Trav's blog.
I am not going to comment in any kind of depth on the whole Denmark issue, just would like to refer all of you to the following link where you can at least look at the caricatures to know what this whole mess is all about. All in all, I seem to believe in the right-wing/conservative point of view on this (not quite sure whether I am proud of this, because I am capable of differentiating from my usual leftist position, or whether this is sad because my indoctrination into the right half of society has started prompted by my new job and/or advancing age), meaning that I believe in order to declare support to the general and undisputable freedom of the press the images should be spread as widely as possible, which I am attempting to support with my link. But at the same time I believe it perfectly legitimate by the islamic world to start boycotting Danish products now, since consumer pressure is the only way they have to exert any kind of influence. What is not ok is the role of the governments in the Arabic countries in all of this, but then these governments general, well, suckiness I guess has been well documented.
What would interest me in this regard would be Ida's opinion. So, if you do read this (adding even further to my numerous readers) comment, I'd seriously be very interested.