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

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Freedom Highway (The North Mississippi Allstars)

The North Mississippi Allstars: Freedom Highway

Who the hell is this Moussaoui guy? He had offered the prosecutors a deal, basically offering to ensure his death sentence in exchange for a better cell before his execution. The NY Times agrees with me by the way, that he really seems to be concerned about his status in history.

Je Zappe Et Je Matte (Passi)

Passi: Je Zappe Et Je Matte

In Antwort auf Kais Kommentar:

Ich habe wirklich keine Stellung nehmen wollen in Bezug auf die Demonstrationskultur in Frankreich. Das Wort 'amazing' war in diesem Zusammenhang vielleicht etwas unglücklich, 'extraordinary' wäre wahrscheinlich besser gewesen. Es ging mir nämlich nur darum, darauf hinzuweisen, wie anders die politische Kultur in Frankreich im Vergleich zu vielen anderen westlichen Staaten ist. Nochmals auf den Generalstreik Bezug nehmend, in Deutschland würde dies als Vorstufe zu einem Bürgerkrieg verstanden (historisch bedingt, siehe Kapp Putsch auch durchaus verständlich), in Frankreich ist das relativ normal. Also wie gesagt keine Wertung, sondern Ausdruck meiner Verwunderung. Inhaltsdiskussions würde ich vorschlagen auf das Bier heute (wenn möglich) abend zu verschieben.

Noch einen Nachtrag in Bezug auf die Sprache hier, I usually write in English for two reasons mainly. One, about half of my readers cannot read German. Two, I do write most of my papers for class in English (voluntarily for the most part) because I figre that for personal (girlfriend) and interest reasons I will end up working in English mainly not in German. Now, since English is not my mother tongue and I am not Nabakov (you guys should see my essays after Sarah sends them back to me corrected) I need further practise in order to be able to compete with native speakers (or maybe writers).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had (Muddy Waters)

Muddy Waters: You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had

The french protestors (attac, student groups, unions and everybody else plus hoodlums from the banlieues) want to do a general strike today. While I am not all that sure as in to how far I agree or disagree with them (simply because of a lacking amount of information regarding the subject matter (CPE)) I am of the belief that it is quite amazing how revolutionary the french genes are. I hope I remember the numbers correctly, but I think I read that 1 million people in over 150 cities demonstrated this passing weekend. For this to happen in Germany (or in the US) what would have to happen? The last general strike in Germany I know about was directed against the Kapp putsch in 1923, doubt there ever was one in the US.

This guy who stands on trial in the US for charges related to 9/11 right now (Zacarias Moussaoui). I guess I should not try to apply logic to mass-murdering terrorists (and the people who want to be one, since he apparently didn't do shit when it comes down to it), but I do not understand why he is trying to inflict a death sentence on himself now, that he obviously does not deserve (I am opposed to the death sentence in principle and out of principle, but this argument should be seen in the context of the American court system). Yes, I know he would have committed suicide anyway, but in his logic that would have paid off (because completely innocent would have gotten killed, this is so sick), now? Maybe he just wants to go down in history as more important than he actually was.

WP & NY Times

The American government has put a massive amount of intelligence documents regarding Iraq and Al Qaida online. I am not going to comment on the sad debate among conservatives desperately trying to prove that there was a link between Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, simply because these feable attempts are so pathetic, but I would like to quote from an NY Times op-ed about this because it seemed so astonishing to me:

Al Qaeda was a highly bureaucratic organization that required potential recruits to fill out application forms.

Sounds like a German organization to me. No, seriously, do you think the ETA does/did that as well? The RAF, the IRA? Does the mafia have application forms online? Do they reject candidates because their CV is not impressive enough? Really weird.

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground (Blind Willie Johnson)

Blind Willie Johnson: Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground

"I recognize no American culture which is not the partial creation of black people. I recognize no American style in literature, in dance, in music, even in assemblyline processes, which does not bear the mark of the American Negro."

Ralph Ellison

Monday, March 27, 2006

Infiltrate (Sean Paul)

Back in my dancehall/ragga days I used to like Sean Paul quite a bit. Of course, since I am so cool, that was way before he broke onto the international scene. Songs like his' Inflitrate were just plain good. Anyway, thought it was very amusing to read how the New York Times completely picked him apart.

To claim that the demonstrations (maybe the plural would be more accurate) are still going strong would be lying, but then it is astonishing, that they were and are taking place in the first place. I've thought about an adequate comparison after claiming in my last entry that Georgia, the Ukraine and such do not hold up their end of the bargain in a comparison. What always does pop up in my mind when I read these articles, is the Civil Rights Movement in the US-American South. A small group of people willing to sacrifice their own health and wealth in order to ensure freedom for a larger (passive) part. Think about the Freedom Rides, where you had maybe five guys on a bus being bullied and beat up by large groups. The difference between the two obviously lies in the fact, that the American oppressors were not the state or the government (although it undoubtedly might have and did aid in parts) but rather their fellow citizens.

Read more here:

Friday, March 24, 2006

Coon Picnic (Nas)

Nas: Coon Picnic (These are Our Heroes)

While Nas talks about heroes who do not properly fulfill their obligations as a role-model I would like to draw your attention to a group of people whom I would seriously label heroes. They stood up in a battle which they could not win. Unlike their counterparts in Georgia or the Ukraine they had no favourable national media on their side, no money or other support by national companies or magnates and no assistance by Western-based organizations. Yet, they put themselves out on display and into harms way.

The thing that impresses me most about these people are their numbers. If you look at peaceful uprisings in the past (Prague, Beijing, Leipzig, Belgrad, Kiev) we are talking massive amounts of people. Yes, it is brave to counter armed forces and a repressive government, but if you are one of 100,000 it is one thing and if you are one of 200 it is another. These people are heroes and deserve our utmost respect and I sincerely hope for them (and maybe for us too) that - while they have not managed to oust Lukashenko for now - that they have laid the seeds for his removal in the near future.

Most of you will have heard of the current fad within Germany's community of blimpish (I had to look that up, couldn't come up with a translation for reaktionär) secretaries of the interior (I should maybe add that the specific elements regarding immigration in Germany are delegated to the state level explaining the plural and the differing methods) to demand that foreigners before they become naturalised have to pass a questionnaire in order to ensure that they accept German values and have immersed themselves in the culture here. In itself the prinicple idea is fine I guess but a problem lies within the implementation of this whole thing. The way this is going it is just simply worrisome.

Baden-Württemberg started and now wants islamic foreigners only to answer 30 questions regarding their opinion on things like polygamy, homosexuality, terror and violence in general. Now, apart from my astonishment at these bureaucrats who seem to believe that fanatic muslims are generally stupid and do not realize how they are supposed to answer these questions in order to pass the exam, this of course is completely disciminatory.

Not be outdone Hesse has come up with their own questionnaire with 100 questions, some percentage of which the applicant is supposed to be able to answer. The trouble with this version is that, while it is not geared towards islamic immigrants solely, the questions are just ludicrous sometimes. Deutsche Welle has put a simplified version online (I scored 9/10, but this really is an easy version). The thing that makes some of the questions so laughable is the fact that they are simply way too hard. I would claim that choosing 10 of the hardest questions a majority of German citizens would fail this test.

All of this points to a fundamental problem in German society I believe. The German population is dwindling, our (European in general) society grows older, we need immigrants. What then do we need to do? Make sure people want to come and want to integrate. I am not saying there should be no pressure on immigrants - regarding their learning of the language for example - but a grand coalition of moronic politicians pretends that this is a one-way street on which Germany need not travel. Check the Turkish national team (football), Bastürk, Dawala, Hamit Altintop, Halil Altintop, Sahin, and these are only the players I can come up with at the top of my head, are all born in Germany. If you listen to interviews they give, their German accents can compete with the best of them and are definitly more pronounced than mine is. The point being? These guys all decided to play for Turkey not for Germany, they obviously do not feel enough at home here to do differently.

We cannot continue to alienate foreigners, we have to welcome them. The one-way street has to be turned into a two-way route. This is inevitable but sadly enough not enough people realize this.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What's Going On (Joseph Cotton)

Here is Joseph Cotton's take on what is going on in the Middle East. Quite a good song and some of you might recall that record release party of his to which we went 6 (?) years ago, actually who was there with me anyway? Christoph went someplace else, Jones? Martin? Anyone else?

How deep a hole (German/English) did the US dig itself into with the Iraq war that, during the same time that they try to get Iran punished by the Security Council and demonize the country further in their newest security report, they actually want to hold talks with that regime on helping out in Iraq (or rather not making it worse probably).

Maybe the most discouraging sign of the situation in the after-Saddam Iraq is the fact that even in the supposedly quiet areas democracy seems to be a myth only. But then maybe that is a good thing...

Stephen Biddle in Foreign Affairs argues that democracy actually would be a hindrance on Iraq's path into the future. The premise of his article is that the Iraq-Vietnam comparison - to which admittedly I am prone myself - is not valid. This would be the case because the conflict in Vietnam was a maoist uprising while what is occuring in Iraq is an ethnic civil war. While in a maoist revolution it is helpful to democratize and vietnamize (iraqize if you want) because these actions takes away from the totalitarian and colonial charges made by the revolutionaries (meaning the Vietcong in this case). In an ethnic civil war on the other hand these two elements (both of which the US - more or less successfully - tries to utilize in order to quell the Iraqi uprisings) actually are counterproductive as they lead to an ethnic authoritarian regime (even though possibly democratically elected they do not grant minority rights) and armed forces dominated by the ethnic majority (in both cases Shiites and Kurds). Both of these elements fuel the conflict even further instead of helping to end it.

While this does make sense to me I wonder about the added aspects of Shiite militias (Al Sadr) and terrorist tourists (Sarkawi) which Biddle does not take into account all that much. What a fuck-up by the administration in general then even the New York Times publishes op-eds as hard-hitting as this one now.

Some of you will know that I am trying to boycott certain companies and brands. For the most part this simply applies to any company that I either consider to big and powerful or that I know indulges in exploitary production practises. These companies include (in no particular order and with no apparent logic or thought process involved) McDonald's (and all these other American fast food joints), Coca Cola, Becks (when I can) and so on and forth, you get the drift I hope. This goes back to my belief that probably the biggest political power we (the people as corny as it sounds, sorry) have nowadays is our control of what we buy (more so than voting most likely and as sad as it is).

I will undoubtly write more on this at a later date the point today is quite simple, check this article (you only have to read the beginning). In the fourth paragraph it talks about who donated a massive amount of money to NPR. I just wish things could be more one-sided and simple sometimes. You know what I mean? Good here, bad there. That kind of thing.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

La Chanson Du Mouton Noir (Jolie Môme)

Jolie Môme: La Chanson Du Mouton Noir

I am really excited about tomorrow morning, we have Merkel coming into the Commission on European Affairs and right after that Steinmeier will give a speech on the preparation for the Council meeting on March 22nd & 23rd, followed by the opposition's first speaker meinem Abgeordneten. Should be really cool.

Personal satisfacion aside, here is the first piece of good news I've read regarding the Iran mess in a really long time.

The NY Times in an editorial calls for the (de facto) demolition of the electoral college without actually changing the constitution. This makes perfect sense in my opinion as I believe the electoral college to be one of the key points representing the achille's heel of American politics, but I also believe one should be aware of the fact, that this would be another step on the road away from the union of states the USA used to be. Turning the electoral congress into solely an organ mirroring the popular vote would raise New York's importance while nearly erasing Wyoming's relevance. Really weird in a way how something that was not clearly decided upon at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 has been the cause of debate and war even for more than 200 years now.

Hamish has taken up the topic of sports guys donating money to politicians a little bit more scientifically than I did. Can only repeat (even though I don't think I ever said it) that I am happy that ballers seem to lean more to the Democratic side.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Some Humans Ain't Human (John Prine)

I think it is really bizarre in a way that Europeans (and Germans in particular) like to colour themselves as if they were living in a society so much more fair than any other, where everyone gets not only an education but a good one in addition to that. Europe as Abel to the US as Cain so to speak (hope I didn't fuck up those two, somebody please tell me if I did). Don't get me wrong I think certain things about Europe are great and sometimes the US should definitly try to take a page out of our book, but at the same time I think we have to be aware of the fact that a lot of boasting about European standards (and again German ones in particular) are really only that unfounded boasting.

So, after alienating my European readership (all 7 of you) let's move on and try to alienate the American one (completing my dozen readers) as well.

The US is trying to promote democracy in Iran now (more so than before one should maybe say) at the same time that Bush is conceding that there are problems (some people would call these problems civil war but hey, since the whole mission was accomplished sometime in 2003 I guess this actually is a sign of reality dawning).

What I simply do not understand is the complete failure that the White House has been ever since 9/11, I mean there are so many intelligent people (exceptions do prove the rule: "If there's one thing that George Bush has done that we should never forget, it's that for us and for our children, he has shattered the myth of white supremacy once and for all," congressman Charles Rangel said.) working for them, does no one there realize what is going on?

To sum this up:
- The Operation Iraqi Freedom has turned a despotic regime into one of anarchy and misrule (with a Shiite majority dominating a Sunni minority (and let's remember that an authoritarian regime is one regardless of whether it is led by a person, a group or a majority of the people)).

- The Operation Enduring Freedom has established Hamid Karzai as the mayor of Kabul while it has failed in defeating the Taliban (who are actually regaining ground as of right now) or capturing Osama Bin Laden (who needs to be put in front of a court btw, not killed and made a martyr).

- Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Khalid El Masri, the secret prisons in Eastern Europe and that CIA case in Italy (with Italian courts asking for the extortion of 20-something CIA agents from the US) have shattered the positive image the US used to have in regard to human rights issues.

Bush claims that
"terrorists are losing on the field of battle, so they are fighting this war through the pictures we see on television and in the newspapers every da

I am not going to dwell on the ludicrous assessment regarding the field of battle, but think about the second half of that sentence for a second. In the long run, what would you consider more important to the 'War on Terror' (if ever there was a misnomer, here it is) a couple of terrorists dead in Iraq or thousands of islamic youths enraged by what they see on television or the internet?
It is a well-known fact that Vietnam was lost not on the ground but in the eye of public opinion (whether it be in Vietnam bolstering the strength of the VC, the US or the rest of the world) does no one put two and two together here? Let's put it this way, the biggest facilitator that Bin Laden, Sarkawi and others have right now is none other than the Bush administration. By alienating the islamic youths of the world in their words (this whole christian refeerence crap) and deeds (see point 3 above) the US are driving them into the arms of religious fanatics all over the world and thus create their own future enemies.

Anyway, sorry for the length this gets me worked up. John Prine might be exaggerating, I like the song anyway.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Turn Off The Radio (Dead Prez)

This is from the Intern, thought it was really interesting how most basketball players tend to donate to the Democrats (with Claude Drexler being a notable exception). Wonder whether that has anything to do with most of them (if not all, cannot recall a white ball-player on that list right now) being black. I think (but I am not really up to par on my stats here) that the Afro-American population still votes predominantly democratic.

I found this on Kolja's blog and it is really stupid, just plain stupid, but at the same time I haven't laughed harder in a really long time. To watch these NBA-players look at Ali G is just too much, check the look of despair on Steve Nash's face when he turns to the camera at the end of his second stint and also the incredulous Dwayne Wade. To Kolja's description I would like to add a further perspective. I think this cultural aspect does not explain it fully (Steve Nash for example is the definite counter-example of any global-crossing trend-culture), what is needed as well is a capitalistic/commercial point of view. Steve Nash, but also Richard Jefferson and to some degree Dwanye Wade to me give of the impression of simply being dumbfounded by the stupidity they have to endure in order to sell a product (the NBA (or to be more precise the TV-show featuring Barkley)). Maybe I am reading (because I am hoping most likely) too much into this, but I would like to think that they realize the complete sell-out they are obliged to commit for advertisement reasons only.

In this spirit the title song for today btw:
Dead Prez: Turn Off The Radio (RBG)

Finally I downloaded something that I would like to make available for all of you (meaning Travis and Christoph mainly), this is the documentary about Sebastian Telfair's last year in high school, haven't watched it yet, but supposedly it is very enjoyable. I read the book (The Jump by Ian O'Connor) about that year and while it wasn't as good as Darcy Frey's The Last Shot it was a very enjoyable read.

They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore (Kinky Friedman)

Kinky Friedman: They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore

"Votes were being counted in a presidential election in *Benin*. The constitution rules that those aged over 70 cannot run, so neither the incumbent, President Mathieu Kérékou, nor his main rival did so."

The quote above comes from last weeks economist newsletter, just wondering how sad it is that news like that coming out of Africa actually makes one notice it, because as normal as it should as unusual it actually is.

The NY Times published a really interesting and detailed account of why the US faced barely any resistance coming into Iraq.

Also, I really liked the following op-ed by some Slovenian dude. He argues something that reflects my thinking to a large part, that maybe religion in fact is not misused by fanatics as much as it actually causes these fanatics to act the way they do (and I believe that christian values and principles which we for the most part (and, yes I know exactly who of my readers is cringing at this statement, but don't worry, no cat-calling) consider to be of a positive nature have been the cause of more deaths relatively speaking than any other belief in the history of mankind), making religion the perpetrator really not the abused victim.

I had to think of all this while staring at a picture of Jesus someone had pasted onto the window of the U-Bahn. To the regular features associated with Jesus on that magazine cover that same person had added some testicles and a rather funny looking Hip Hop beard. Not spectaculary funny or anything, but the point of all this, is that no one cares, the magazine which had been used has been out two weeks now, making it highly likely that it had been hanging there for about the same period of time. Now I am not saying I endors the ridiculing of other people's belief, I don't and actually would never paint a picture like that myself, but I consider it a blessing (that might actually be a bit blasphemous in this context, but hey... :d) to live in a society where people care as little about this as they do.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The President Plays (AC Reed)

AC Reed: The President Plays

Considering Bush's approval rates are plummeting, I thought it appropriate to put up a song about his predecessor. I hope all of you noticed the Republican's rebellion against the president (torture, the port issue and eavesdropping, making it (at least) three and counting), I love it, the seperation of powers is finally getting its due again. This whole rally-around-the-flagg effect (which is bullshit anyway I believe, plus sorry about the usage of this worn-out term here) seems to finally have gone where it should, down the drains.

Ali Farka Toure passed away which is why I thought I should have two songs for the day. Here is Bonde of the album he did with Ry Cooder.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Dick In Dixie (Hank Williams III)

Supposedly my writing is confusing, because







I'll try to work on that. (Since by now the official tally of complaints stands at two, making it quite an impressive percentage of my readership)

I've found this site that seemed to suit me rather well for this blog and I will continue posting music with it. The downloads will only be available for seven days after I posted the link (or until 1000 people (I think that is the correct number) downloaded the file, whichever comes first, I'll leave it up to your imagination what is more likely).

Older songs/titles I hadn't posted:

Fats Domino: The Fat Man

Junior Delgado: Hypocrites

and the one for today:

Hank Williams III: Dick In Dixie

I know that title isn't really, well, sophisticated, but I love the song. Plus Hank (who is - surprise, surprise - the grand-son of Hank Williams and son of Hank Williams Jr, making him country royalty) just released his third album, so I figured I'd make y'all aware of that fact and him.

Apparentely Michael Jackson has released a song on Katrina (not that I would know about this since I positively pride myself on my lack of knowledge regarding pop culture and I am sure I will elaborate on that at some point). Anyway, liked Aaron McGruder's take on it

On the political front, check out the complete mess that is the German non-involvement in the Iraq war. Seems like the US-government is deliberately leaking this stuff so as to embarrass the German government (the ex-goverment that is) and - potentially - point out to the new government that they should play by the rules (the diplomatic ones that is, which Schröder screwed over in 2002 in order to win reelection), as most if not all of this stuff originates from NY Times ties to the Bush-administration. Kind of curious where this will lead, especially with the current German secretary of state (Frank-Walter Steinmeier) having been directly responsible for the secret service (BND) in the past administration.

Also interesting are the interview transcripts of Guantanamo inmates, that apparently have been made public. If anyone knows whether I can read some of the actual transcripts online please tell me so, here is what the NY Times writes about them.

On a personal note, I have been accepted for my university's exchange program to Paris in the fall. I am still going to apply to two other schools (Brussels and Straßburg) but it feels good to have this in the bank. Oh yeah and I have been invited to the first wedding of a friend of mine, guess we're getting old. I'm really happy for the two of them though and am looking forward to attending it.

Finally, some bball crap. Look at what Vince could do in High School and supposedly the Knicks have swung quite some trade with the Raptors.

Oh, my bad, I had forgotten about this, I copied this excerpt from a Bill Simmons email exchange with Malcolm Gladwell, whom I didn't know before but who definitly interests me now, he came up with some really decent stuff in there.

"Gladwell: This is actually a question I'm obsessed with: Why don't
people work hard when it's in their best interest to do so? Why does
Eddy Curry come to camp every year overweight?

The (short) answer is that it's really risky to work hard, because then
if you fail you can no longer say that you failed because you didn't
work hard. It's a form of self-protection. I swear that's why Mickelson
has that almost absurdly calm demeanor. If he loses, he can always say:
Well, I could have practiced more, and maybe next year I will and I'll
win then. When Tiger loses, what does he tell himself? He worked as hard
as he possibly could. He prepared like no one else in the game and he
still lost. That has to be devastating, and dealing with that kind of
conclusion takes a very special and rare kind of resilience. Most of the
psychological research on this is focused on why some kids don't study
for tests -- which is a much more serious version of the same problem.
If you get drunk the night before an exam instead of studying and you
fail, then the problem is that you got drunk. If you do study and you
fail, the problem is that you're stupid -- and stupid, for a student, is
a death sentence. The point is that it is far more psychologically
dangerous and difficult to prepare for a task than not to prepare.
People think that Tiger is tougher than Mickelson because he works
harder. Wrong: Tiger is tougher than Mickelson and because of that he
works harder."

Am not gonna really add anything to that, seemed like a pretty good description of something I personally am very familiar with, even though I am not sure I completely share the failure-fear aspect or maybe I just don't want to share it because of the conclusions it would leave me with in regard to my own behaviour. Anyway, hope this kind of makes sense. And, ja, sorry about the extremely long post for today, if you've managed to read until here, thanks for doing so.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Fat Man (Fats Domino)

I've given up on the posting of the actual .mp3s for now because I do most of this from work meaning I cannot access my music (not technically all that true, but I will not go into details on this one here) plus this whole legal thing is bothering me a little in all honesty.

Nothing all that intelligent, but here is a WP article about some definitly new and weird phenomena (sp?). Then and unbelievably the Fat Man has published a new album, I've seen him live once at the Jazz Fest (which btw in my opinion is the best and most amazing music fest and also party in the world, if you ever have the chance to go there, do it, words cannot describe) and yes the title of the album sums it up rather well, Alive and Kickin'.

Finally an absolute gem and one of the funniest videos I have ever seen. Check it out (only really funny if you know the original, but I seem most of you do...).

Plus, (and kind of interesting only to people living in Berlin really) the biggest employers of Berlin and the top ten in game dunks (my personal favorites are the Shaq/Daryl Dawkins version, with Dawkins doing a better job I believe).