Archive for February 23rd, 2009

23
Feb
09

From “Big Tent” To “Ginormous Tools”


Is the GOP trying to be the party of douchebags, nutjobs, and the deranged? Cause, Jesus God, man, are they ever championing the worst of the worst lately. Now, normally I wouldn’t mention this, since…well, I don’t really care if they implode, and I kind of don’t want to alert them to the fact that they are. Still, in light of a one-party democratic government not working for anybody anytime anywhere, I’m going to let those on the other side of the fence know my thoughts on their presidential hopefuls.

I’ll admit it. I’d LOVE to watch Palin run for POTUS in 2012. Seriously, how much fun would it be to see that? Palin answering serious questions about why she skipped the conference on energy hosted by the nation’s governors, even though her state is, shall we say, interested in what happens there? Brilliant. Bringing back up Troopergate? Her husband’s meddling in state affairs? Her hypocrisy and stupidity and willful ignorance of the basic facts of nature (her assertion that we piss away money on fruit fly research while sounding her call to join her in doing that same research was especially priceless) is just darling!

Kathryn-Jean Lopez wants that champion of the working man, Rick Santelli, as her running mate? Better yet. Rocketing to stardom by calling about-to-be-homeless grandmothers “losers” while being cheered on by your stockbroking friends (who, it has to be noted and noted and noted, are on the goddamned gubment cheese themselves) will play awesome in the square states. Go for it!

But I have to say, and it’s probably because I was there for Katrina and its aftermath, I think Jindal’s the one to beat. The notion that Republicans should be so playing to the Christian right as to run a man who’s performed exorcisms is just so good it had to be fattening. I know, I know, they think he’d recreate the whole “Big Tent” mythology, since he’s young and brown and all, but his grandstanding refusal to take stimulus money takes said fattening cake.

Granted, his refusal of government funds is, on its face, infuriating. However, knowing that there’s no way the state legislature is going to let him turn down money when the state is in such need (a fact of which I’m sure he’s more than well aware) has tempered my rage and brought me to the conclusion that he HAS to run! Watching him explain how his claim that Kathleen Blanco’s refusal of federal help, which he says is what led to the poor governmental response (and won him his current spot), is somehow different or worse than this…oh, sweet fancy Jesus, pleasepleaseplease let him run!

Oh, to be a fly on the town hall wall while Jindal explains to the bitters why he would have rather reallocate non-existent funds to help very-existent people…but then, to make that happen, maybe we’d need more of that silly science research.

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23
Feb
09

Poppies Vs. “Pom”-ies


So I know I just waxed philosophic (idiotic?) about my distaste for consumerism and how I think the rampant coveting-of-thy-neighbor’s-proverbial-iPod is ruining our culture and blah blah blah, and another anti-consumerist-type rant seems too much, right? Tough noogies. My blog.

This story may have flown well under the radar this weekend, but I think it may be the most interesting one of the bunch.* Turns out Afghan farmers can make more money ($2000 an acre more, to be exact) growing pomegranates than poppies. In other words, Pom and its ilk have outpaced heroin as the most marked-up overblown new-thing-ya-gotta-have on the street. By a lot. Really a lot.

From an expert on such matters:

At 26 cents per fluid ounce, POM is 3 to 4 times more expensive than national orange juice brands…POM’s tagline, DRINK TO YOUR HEART’S CONTENT, works on two levels: It reinforces the health benefits of the juice and plays off of an emotional idiom.

In short, it’s good for you, AND more lucrative than heroin. What a cash cow!

*I must admit that I’m also interested in this because of my locale. Pomegranates are in no small supply here in Spain (they named an enormous area after them–“granada” = “pomegranate” in Spanish). I just constantly marvel at how oppositely-motivated the Spaniards are to the Americans. As much as they talk about needing to market and branding and what not, there is just more emphasis here on being happy in your life than being happy in your work. Like it or not, that’s why trends like these always pass them by. My husband teaches a lot of these branding specialists at a big company, and I can’t wait till he tells them about this. Oh, the forehead slapping that will ensue! And then they’ll go laugh about it over a 3-hour lunch.

23
Feb
09

Condit Exonerated: A Bad Week for the GOP


Boy, do you ever have one of those weeks where just nothing seems to be going your way? Like maybe your kid decides she’s going to read only Sylvia Plath for the rest of her life, your boss decides your talent really lies in retail, and you find out your wife’s boning her way through the phone book? Well, then, you can relate to the week our country’s Republicans have just had.  Yup, the GOP’s just gotten through one doozy of a shitter, and are probably all curled up with a hot cup of cocoa, a good book (I’m betting it’s a Reagan memoir), and are just hoping Calgon can take them away from all this:

1. Obama’s stimulus got passed without their support.

2. Total idiot, Chris Buttars, may be coming to the end of his reign of terror.

3. Obama’s popularity tops Jesus in some wacky poll (and we all know how well that worked out for the Beatles).

4. Your own people are trying to vie for the stimulus money they voted against. Worse yet, the hippie media knows about it.

5. Your super-duper BFFs over at the Post finally went too far, and even Big Papa Murdoch’s pissed enough to make them apologize.

6. That apology is so horrible and half-to-no-assed, it incites the world to take notice of their asshattery (and, maybe worse, Spike Lee to call on athletes and celebrities to stop talking to them).

7. And now it’s looking like Chandra Levy really was just the victim of some maniac, and not the Democratic representative of anywhere.

Let’s all just bow our heads for a moment for our fallen brothers-in-nationality-only.

There. Back to evisceration.

23
Feb
09

al-Qaeda’s Co-Founder H8tes on Bin Laden


File this under “Wow, did I ever NOT see this one coming.”

Al-Qaeda founder launches fierce attack on Osama bin Laden

From the article:

Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, who goes by the nom de guerre Dr Fadl, helped bin Laden create al-Qaeda and then led an Islamist insurgency in Egypt in the 1990s.

But in a book written from inside an Egyptian prison, he has launched a frontal attack on al-Qaeda’s ideology and the personal failings of bin Laden and particularly his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Twenty years ago, Dr Fadl became al-Qaeda’s intellectual figurehead with a crucial book setting out the rationale for global jihad against the West.

Today, however, he believes the murder of innocent people is both contrary to Islam and a strategic error. “Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers,” writes Dr Fadl.

The terrorist attacks on September 11 were both immoral and counterproductive, he writes. “Ramming America has become the shortest road to fame and leadership among the Arabs and Muslims. But what good is it if you destroy one of your enemy’s buildings, and he destroys one of your countries? What good is it if you kill one of his people, and he kills a thousand of yours?” asks Dr Fadl. “That, in short, is my evaluation of 9/11.”

He is equally unsparing about Muslims who move to the West and then take up terrorism. “If they gave you permission to enter their homes and live with them, and if they gave you security for yourself and your money, and if they gave you the opportunity to work or study, or they granted you political asylum,” writes Dr Fadl, then it is “not honourable” to “betray them, through killing and destruction”.

So al-Qaeda’s co-founder hates Bin Laden? And Bush and Cheney hate Bin Laden? Holy Crap, they’ve been “palling around with terrorists” this whole time, those two! Break out Sarah Palin, and string ’em up good!

23
Feb
09

Little Pink Houses Are For Suckers


(I promise to return to more general–read interesting–news soon, but, first, here’s a slice of life from this side of the pond):

I awoke yesterday morning to the sight of our fridge door open, having been so all night. It turns out, if we put a 2-liter of soda AND a package of chicken in the same tiny icebox, the spatial lode becomes too much to bear, and the poor thing just bursts its seams. It tends to do this often, and almost exclusively leading up to Sunday mornings, when there will be no markets open. After happily settling on the idea of us heading down memory/beans-and-rice lane (ah, grad school), I thought the worst was behind us.

What ho, you say? What’s that sound? Why, it’s the sound of our bathroom door being slammed shut. By a petulant tween, you ask? No no no, it’s only our darling little washer, which, during an especially “gigantic” load of socks, has lurched forward and wedged itself between the tub and said now-shut door. Ah, the hilarity!

While I eyed our wee stove, trying to figure out if I could shimmy out the window adjacent thereto and around into the bathroom in order for us to regain access (What’s more dangerous? Sidling along a tiny ledge 4 stories above a cement patio, or finishing my cup of black coffee with no bathroom access in the foreseeable future?), my cooler-headed (and simply awesome) husband finally found a solution. If we broke the door off the frame on the far side, we could gain entry. Turns out this can be done by punching it strongly a couple of times. The bonus is that it can also be replaced by a couple of sharp raps. Go Go, Gadget DOOR FRAME!!!

We are still giggling about this as we walk out the door to work this morning at 7:30, nearly running over the pleather-clad South American prostitute who is our neighbor.

Why do I mention this? Because I’ve been wondering what it says about me that I lovelovelove this apartment, quirks and all, and don’t really want to leave.

“Christ Almighty, woman, have you lost it?” you ask. I object to this for two reasons. First of all, I reject the notion I ever had said it. Secondly, I feel now as if I’ve regained myself, or at least, have regained the notion of myself I like best.

Allow me to explain (I’ll keep it short, I promise):

I feel I lost myself while living in Louisiana. Specifically, living in what’s considered a “normal” place and doing “normal” things left me in many ways the kind of typical American I’ve never wanted to be. My DVR became a good friend, I wanted more than anything to have the kind of gorgeous lawn my neighbor did, and I completely bought into the idea that a nice car, a big house, and a grudgingly-happy husband was not such a bad thing. And those things aren’t necessarily such bad things, if that’s what you really want. But it’s just not me. And, I suspect, it’s not anyone who chooses this boho/hobo expat life.

It’s taken living in our home-sweet-flophouse to come to the realization that all of the things I have loved the most dearly over the course of my life have had “character.” My favorite car of all time is still my old hoopty (an ’88 Crown Vic with 150k+ miles, no working a.c./heat/defroster/windows/locks, and a stereo that amounted to a tape deck that would either play the tapes or melt-and-eat them), my favorite piece of clothing ever is a worn-and-torn-to-shreds thermal I snagged off a gutter punk when I was 16, and my favorite apartment ever (till now) was the one with the never-ending supply of roaches (emanating, it turned out, from behind our gigantic poster of R. Crumb…he’d be so proud, I think). Who cares? Well, no one. But, I think it speaks to the expat mentality. And, since I’ve been asked about returning to the States and why I’m not angling to, I’ll tell whoever cares why.

I think that, in order to enjoy living on any continent other than the one where you were born, you have to embrace a certain amount of chaos in your life. No matter what, living in a place where you don’t speak the language or nascently understand the culture is going to be tougher than staying by home. And, if you don’t have the stomach for a certain amount of crazy, it’ll drive you to the brink. More specifically, though, if you’re going to leave the U.S. for Europe, I think you have to have a certain amount of love for all things “character-ridden” (read “old”). Europe just isn’t built for people who like a lot of space, new construction, or tons of privacy.

It’s no wonder to me that so many American writers have chosen the life of an expat over here. I mean, sheezus, how much more interesting is it (to yourself, at least, if no one else) to relate, say, my story of a lazy Sunday than simply to say, “We ate pizza and watched football”? Living abroad does the work for you. The story’s already going to be exotic, even if you did just eat pizza and watch football (since neither of those words mean the same thing here in Spain that they do Stateside), and the potential for quirky hilarity is always high.

Then again, maybe I just love all those crappy old things because I’m part Scottish and said things are cheap. Either way. *shrug*