A Swift Friday Linkage

Started a new job that has required me to adjust my sleeping patterns, hence we roll out a Lilliputian Friday linkage:

Because Jerr-o just oozes credibility.

A relegated story about the fall of Saigon reaches a new generation, thanks NPR.

Stephen Hawking believes in something far more incredible than spontaneous generation. Takes some serious “wisdom” to make that leap… On a related note, the last sentence of this piece is as sad as it is erroneous.

Your Texas Longhorns kick off the season tomorrow, to quote Dietrich, “I’m as happy as a little girl”.

Et tu, Brute?

A very sensible take on Glenn Beck’s farcical gathering.  Albert Pujols, what were you thinking?

Man encourages 8-year-old to cuss and thus is charged for “impairing the morals of a child”. Not shocked that this happened but I am shocked that the authorities of the Connecticut town have such a charge available to them.

That’s right, he said it. lt had to be said. Somebody got to say it. The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson took a swipe at Taylor Swift’s talent or lack thereof. Here’s a picture of her from the archives, Kanye is fark’d in, Toth’s son is not,

Japanese Politicians Take Over Friday Linkage

Ichiro Ozawa, possible Prime Minister of Japan, thinks Americans are “simple-minded”. His words reminded me of a description of Americans given by a fictitious Japanese Prime Minister,

They have the most violent culture in the world, yet they worship justice. They venerate making money, but their roots are found in ideals.

While we’re talking about Japanese politicos (real or imagined), Kazutaka Sangen, mayor of Taiji, has spoken out against certain people whose sole desire is to see Japanese whale hunts (like Taiji’s dolphin hunts) end.  His words seem to eliminate any room for discussion,

We will pass down the history of our ancestors to the next generation, preserve it. We have a strong sense of pride about this. So we are not going to change our plans for the town based on the criticism of foreigners.

Game. Set. Match. Way to stick up for multiculturalism Mayor Kazutaka.  Though “foreigners” doesn’t quite do justice to the word which you probably said:  gaijin.

On to the linkage…

About as a heart-warming story as you’re going to read…I understood why Bengals wideout Chad Johnson legally changed his name to Chad Ochocinco (Chad Eight Five), 85 is his number after all. You’d think with how tech-savvy Chad is, he could have plugged in “eighty-five” into Google Translate and found out that the correct Spanish translation is ochenta y cinco, not ochocinco. Oh well, at least he has his own cereal, mistranslated name and all… Mohler demolishes so-called theistic evolution…Jennifer Aniston’s latest offering flops at the box office, big surprise since she seems to want to resurrect the chest-clutching Rachel Green character in every one of her movies… Jim Furyk gets DQ’d from a PGA tournament because his cell phone alarm doesn’t go off, oops…Ever watch that Tea Party Scene in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland? The masterminds who orchestrated it were the March Hare and the Mad Hatter (below). Perhaps that’s what we can call these 2 billionaires who are the masterminds behind the populist Tea Party movement…

[Photo credit:  Disney]

Friday Linkage

A man who rose to fame covering Bob Marley songs and riding the coattails of Lauryn Hill’s amazing voice will probably be the next President of Haiti. Why? Because Presidential elections there probably have the same student-council election vibe that they do here in the ‘States.

Hey, if the good ol’ U.S. of A can elect a man with zero executive experience to the land’s highest office on the strength of his ability to give a speech and celebrity status, who are we to tell Haiti they can’t do the same? Sean Penn, of all people, questioned Wyclef’s motives. The musician tried to allay Penn’s concerns by saying,

I just want Sean Penn to fully understand I am a Haitian, born in Haiti and I’ve been coming to my country ever since (I was) a child. He might just want to pick up the phone and meet, so he fully understands the man.

Oh, OK that should make Spicoli feel a lot better.

America’s sweetheart has converted to Hinduism. So America’s most beloved hooker is now a Hindu while her white trick in shining armor is a Buddhist. In the words of the often imitated but never duplicated Darth Vader, “The circle is now complete”.


I hope none of my ancestors came back as the oysters that produced those pearls

Next time you think about using your car horn when you’re in H-town, consider this.

A federal judge’s decision to strike down California’s Proposition 8 should encourage polygamists nationwide to push for the legalization of their chosen way of life.

The Guardian interviews Tariq Aziz.

Could this be a viable alternative? I smell cow manure, oh wait…

There are throwbacks whose idea of a good time is the beheading of infidels and there are throwbacks whose idea of a swell time differs just a tad.

Texas is #4 in the preseason Coaches’ poll? Methinks that’s a bit high considering it’s a “rebuilding” year…

Photo credit: Touchstone Pictures

AIDS Activists “Pine” For Dubya?

Remember this sign that appeared in Minnesota a few months ago?


(Photo Credit: Bob Collins/Minnesota Public Radio)

The “culprits” behind it were a group of small business owners who “feel Washington is against them”.

But is it possible that some AIDS activists share the sentiment espoused in the billboard?

Speaking of 43, his fellow Republicans are worried about the potential negative impact of his soon-to-be-published memoirs.

One prominent conservative compared the Bushies’ public-relations savvy to LeBron James.

Ouch…

Spain Wins The World Cup In Spite Of Debilitating Nike Ad

Truth be told, before yesterday the first part of the title was as absurd as “The Red Sox win the World Series” would have been 10 years ago or even “Longhorns top the Sooners” during the early naughts.

Spain’s National Team, La Furia Roja, had a knack for falling flat on their collective face World Cup after World Cup. This all changed yesterday to be sure, after La Furia Roja defeated the Netherlands, who have now lost 3 World Cup Finals (’74, ’78, 10), 1-0.

I believe however that the breakthrough which culminated yesterday began in Euro 2008, which the Spanish won by besting Germany by the same score they beat the Dutch yesterday. That tournament set them on a course of excellence, winning 35 matches in a row until they shockingly lost to the U.S. at the 2009 Confederations Cup held in South Africa.

They then proceeded to breeze through World Cup qualifiers, becoming a favorite to take home the hardware in South Africa entering as the #2 squad in the world according to FIFA. In their first World Cup match, La Furia Roja fell to the Swiss, prompting echoes of “Different World Cup, same old Spain”.

Spaniards readied themselves for another World Cup collapse by their beloved team, blame was sent down bizarre avenues.

Yet, here we are July 12, 2010 and the FIFA World Cup trophy will call Spain home for at least the next 4 years.

A more remarkable feat may be that Spain won despite three of their players’ involvement in Nike Soccer’s “Write the Future” ad (watch it here).

An ad made before the start of the World Cup featuring England’s Wayne Rooney, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Italya’s Fabio Cannavaro, Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, France’s Franck Ribéry, Brazil’s Robinho and Ronaldinho. To say that the campaign was a poor prognosticator of World Cup success is a vast understatement, a rundown:

Read more of this post

A Hapsburg, LeBron and Martha Stewart Walk Into A Bar…

Carles Puyol (right) who looks like he just stepped out of a Hapsburg family portrait, heads Spain into the World Cup Final. As a descendant of the Hapsburg’s, Puyol will be looking for some payback by cracking some skulls against the Netherlands on Sunday

My guess is that since LeBron James missed not having a signing day presser coming out of high school, he’s making up for lost time with “The Decision”. Great column on the LeBron “saga” that  mercifully ends tonight.

When the folks at NASA aren’t trying to reach out to the Muslim world, they’re conducting valuable research.

Forget Wife Swap, how ’bout an old-fashioned spy swap? Makes me want to re-read The Cardinal of the Kremlin.

So now these “elites” will become embittered and “cling to martini glasses or environmentalism or antipathy towards people who don’t think like them or anti-American sentiment or anti-capitalism sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Right POTUS?

Unbelievable pictures of Monterrey in the aftermath of Hurricane Alex.

Holy poncho Batman! Martha Stewart had lengua, easily the most underrated “cut” of beef.

Caught this on PBS last night, I might or might not have almost shed a tear because of Jackie’s courage in the face of such bitter hatred.

[Photo Credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Europe]

America: The World’s “Dictator”

At the Nigerian stop of his gringo-bashing tour, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the following before a packed house at the Iranian embassy in Ajuba,

They [America] are the self-proclaimed leaders and everybody should know that self-proclaimed leadership is dictatorship

In other words, America, I’m assuming he’s talking about the government not the people, is the world’s dictator due to the influence she has over vast swathes of the planet. Whether this influence/power translates into a dictatorship I can’t say, but I know that in Latin America most people would agree with the world’s most controversial engineer (below).


Curse the West and their decadent haircuts


Fact: Historically speaking, the U.S. has ill treated her neighbors to the south.

This has led to many of my fellow Spanish-speakers to view the U.S.A as a bully (justifiably so) who doesn’t let ethics/common decency get in the way of getting what she wants. That my countrymen and distant cousins further south elect individuals such as this election cycle after election cycle is another story.

It is important to note that nation-states don’t act based on altruism but rather on what’s best for them or the people in power of the nation-state. In a nation such as America, it is supposed to be “We the People” who, through the voting booth, hold the power.

As we all know, that is an illusion for elected officials here in this great nation are as corrupt and egotistical as anywhere else in the world. Most of the time, they don’t really give a rip about “We the People” but when they do it is for the express purpose of getting re-elected to posts that remind one of the lords of the manors of old. American elected officials are just better at mollifying the narod and through the press hoodwinking them into thinking that they enact laws that are in the best interest of the common good.

All that said, if there is going to be a World Wide Leader not named ESPN, and there has to be given human nature, John Lennon’s idealistic drivel notwithstanding, who would you rather have in that position than the United States of America?

The Soviets certainly weren’t up to the task, the Chinese might just bump America from the throne, but do we really want that, given China’s atrocious record in dealing with dissent?

For all of her past and present flaws, America has been a force for stability in this fallen world. Yes, she has acted in self-interest, but more often than not her self-preserving actions have been for the betterment of the world, her rescue of Western Europe during World War II might have been her finest moment. For all of Western Europe’s anti-Americanism, I wonder if they stop to think that a Nazi regime would be more favorable?

Ironically enough, many confuse the current American system to that of the Nazis. Such historical shortsightedness merits little or no commentary.

America has a form of government (totalitarian democracy), which is far from perfect, seems to be the best practical form of government under our fallen circumstances.

The inadequacies of the system just go to show how fallen this world really is.

Totalitarian Democracy

I became fascinated by the small island nation of Iceland in large part to Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising. A tome which probably doesn’t resonate with people who didn’t live during the Cold War, but which is a captivating and thrilling read.

I hope to visit the country at some point in my life, at least to see how they do Mexican food there…


Tabasco’s, a Mexican restaurant in Reykjavik (Photo Credit: Funofthefair)

One of Clancy’s subplots focuses on Iceland, it’s takeover by a Soviet Air Guards division and inevitable (Clancy is American after all) liberation by NATO forces led by U.S. Marines aided by a scrawny Air Force weatherman and his merry band.

So naturally, when I ran across the following article, Is Iceland a Totalitarian State?, I decided to check it out,

  1. Because it’s about Iceland
  2. Totalitarian __________ and Iceland seem incongruous

Needless to say, the article was eye-opening for it’s description of how a seemingly free, liberal even and democratic society can be anything but. And also for its relevancy to the way America is governed.

An excerpt,

Totalitarianism is a political system in which the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life. J.L. Talmon used the term “totalitarian democracy” to refer to a system of government in which lawfully elected representatives maintain the integrity of a nation state whose citizens, while granted the right to vote, have little or no participation in the decision-making process of the government.

It has a certain ring of familiarity to it, no?

Move Over Lloyd Christmas

In that great cinematic work, Dumb and Dumber, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) asked Mike Starr’s character, “Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?” And he proceeded to serenade him with what, at the time, was the most annoying sound in the world. Here’s the clip:

Well, suffice it to say, that sound plays second fiddle to the drone emanating from those ubiquitous South African “stadium horns”, vuvuzelas. That infernal noise was first heard by a worldwide audience during last year’s Confederations’ Cup. They were annoying then, and they are annoying now at the World Cup.

Opinion varies as to whether these horns are “annoying irritants” or “joyful expressions of African culture”, but at the risk of sounding dismissive of other cultures, they simply are annoying and irritating expressions of joyful African culture.

Whether it’s a South African, German or Mexican (below) providing the wind power, the noise produced is equally irritating. So much so that earplugs have become a hot item in South Africa. One might conclude that the vuvuzela was a clever scheme concocted by ear plug vendors, but I digress…

I took this pic after a México win at Reliant Stadium a couple of years ago, a match which proved to be my first exposure to the glorified funnels. As horrible as the noise is, it can’t take away from the beautiful game, especially at an event like the World Cup.

However, it would be a good if somehow Univision or ESPN found a way to filter out the vuvuzela noise, as the BBC is thinking of doing.

Here are a couple of observations from yesterday and today’s action:

  • The Germans have looked the best out of all the teams that have played so far. So effortless do the Krauts look, so crisp and pinpoint their passes are, are they not? They seem to have mastered the troublesome Jabulani (the official match ball), could it be because most of their squad plays in the Bundesliga, which used the Jabulani as its match ball last season?  Things that make you go hmmm…
  • Speaking of ze Germans…  How ’bout that rousing advertisement for globalization that their squad is?  The German National Team, dubbed Die Mannschaft (insert joke here), boasts a naturalized Brazilian, a son of Turkish immigrants, a guy named Gomez (born in Germany, has a Spanish father), 2 naturalized Poles (seems to be a running gag), another guy whose father is Tunisian.  Ol’ Adolf must be turning over in his grave…
  • What is it with Italy allowing headers from Latin American teams at the World Cup?  In ’02 it was México’s Jared Borghetti and today it was Paraguay’s Antolín Alcaraz who did the honors. Like in ’02 against El Tri Italy tied with Paraguay 1-1.
  • ESPN, I know that you learned from the last World Cup and hired good announcers to man your booth but you are still lagging behind Univision’s varsity, Pablo Ramirez and Jésus “El Profe” Bracamontes.  After Italy equalized today, Ramirez sung in Italian.  That is how you do it ESPN.  When a goal is scored don’t call it like it’s a throw-in, call it “with feelin’” as Jon Bon Jovi crooned.

Finally, on a totally unrelated not, you are very welcome Baylor.

Christianity… A Hard Sell

I just recently finished up listening to Kevin DeYoung’s sermon series on the book of Leviticus. KDY is the senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and therefore an unashamed Spartan fan.

He preached through Leviticus from February to July of last year, but because the church makes all his sermons available online (for free!), one can listen to them at one’s leisure. Go here for the whole Leviticus series.

Leviticus? What’s in there but the moldy trappings of a now defunct bloody sacrificial system? Not to mention, a bunch of regulations that frankly seem irrelevant to us who don’t live in an agrarian society and outdated sexual mores that are beneath our “enlightened” 21st Century selves?

While I can devote an entire series of posts of all the things KDY uncovered in the 18-part series, I will try to sift through the largesse.

In Sermon 4 (“Sin Offerings”), he expands on sin, no, not the TV station formerly known as the Spanish International Network (currently known as Univision).

Rather to the our constantly missing the mark of God’s law. Something which all human beings (save for One) are born into, act out and puts us at enmity with God.

Sin, as KDY points out, is an “objective category”. That is, it’s not relative to our whims and fancy, as he put it, “God’s values ARE whether we value them or not”. Because we are born at enmity with God we don’t like to hear about sin, especially our sin though we all feel more comfortable pointing out the sins (real or perceived) of others.

KDY rightfully asserts that he abhor hearing about sin and because of that he says,

Christianity will always be a hard sell. Real Christianity. Because it confronts head-on our love of autonomy. ‘I want to be the reference point… I want my feelings, my desires to be affirmed… It want to be the center of the universe… I want you to exist to make me happy… God exists to make me happy… I am the moral reference point, everything else is decided right or wrong based on what it does to me and how I like it… If there is a God surely He exists to meet my needs and affirm my beliefs.’

Sin is not simply being untrue to yourself no matter how many times the Disney movies tell you that it is

Indeed…

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