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]

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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?

A Mexican’s World Cup Primer

No, it has nothing to do with Tequila shots or other such truck but rather a historical retrospective.

Mexicans get soccer fed to us in our baby bottles

I made this statement to an American friend a couple of years ago. Many will say that it is a generalization and perhaps be insulted by it. A Mexican-American chap who heard it certainly was and let it be known just how offended he was. The fact that he neither was born and spent most of his childhood living in México made his overreaction a little bit less credible.

My native land hosted the 1986 World Cup and I remember it vividly. Anyone remember the borderline offensive mascot, Pique?

[found the pic at:  http://degenerasian.blogspot.com/]

The memories are bittersweet because while Manuel Negrete’s strike made an indelible impression on my mind, the loss against ze Germans in the quarterfinals broke my young Tri-loving heart.

Over the years, we moved to America and my interest in soccer waned as it had to compete with American football, baseball and basketball. Yet every four years I was drawn to the world’s biggest sporting event, The World Cup. I have soaked in every WC since ’86, and followed especially close those in which my beloved Tri took part of. (All of them since ’86 except for Italy ’90).

I pined in ’94 to go watch them live but alas it was not to be. We are but 2 weeks away from the start of South Africa 2010 and like many of my compatriots living in all corners of the world, I am giddy with excitement.

Yet this anticipation is tempered by the ghost of México in World Cups past. Like many Mexicans I take a hopeful pessimism approach into each World Cup. Yes, the squad is a solid one with great potential but let us not set our sights too high.  Otherwise we will be disappointed if El Tri comes crashing down like cadet Juan Escutia at the Battle of Chapultepec.

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On Cinco de Mayo

Here we are again, May 5th and people throughout these United States will hold “Cinco de Mayo” celebrations. Some will ignorantly believe it is México’s 4th of July or even believe that this date means a great deal to us Mexicans, it doesn’t.

In all fairness, México doesn’t really have a “4th of July”. Yes, its “Independence Day” (September 16) marked the end of Spanish rule but only to be followed by subsequent American seizure of large tracts of land such as Arizona (isn’t it ironic?), California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Texas, as well as a brief French occupation.

On May 5th, 1862 near the city of Puebla, an inferior Mexican force beat a superior French force. It was significant due to the “David-Goliath” aspect of it and because my people were victorious in a battle. The only problem is that the defeat only delayed the inevitable French occupation of my native land and subsequent appointment of a hapless Hapsburg (Maximilian I, pictured below) to the throne of the newly minted Mexican Empire. In other words, México won the Battle of Puebla but lost the war.

(Museum of History, Chapultepec)

For this reason, most of México doesn’t make a big deal of this day. After all, who celebrates a victorious battle in a war which was ultimately lost? Not even my peoples, who look for small victories to revel in especially over hegemonic entities, have the non-sense to do this. It’d be akin to making a national holiday over the Battle of the Alamo. Yes, México won that “battle” but lost the war and Texas.

Emperor Maximilian I eventually was overthrown and to make a statement that foreign governance wouldn’t be tolerated, was sentenced to death by firing squad.

Perhaps as some sort of twisted joke, 139 years later, another Maximiliano, Maxi Rodriguez, would fire a shot (see vid below) that would avenge his namesake’s death at the hands of Mexican authorities, break the heart of the Mexican people and make the name “Maximiliano” reviled once more throughout the land.

U.S. Navy Projects Power, Mexican Navy hunts sharks

Akula (“shark”) is the NATO code name for a class of Russian submarines (Ivan, of course, calls them something else).

It was the task (among many others) of the U.S. Navy during the Cold War to track these and other Soviet vessels.

The end of the Cold War, I’m sure, did not end such patrols. So while the U.S. Navy projects power around the world and keeps track of the vessels of other nations, the naval forces of my native México are doing what?

Not hunting/tracking Akula-class subs but hunting the real deal: sharks.

That’s right, actual sharks, as in cartilaginous, carnivorous creatures not nuclear-powered Russians subs. Here’s the story,
Mexico Navy hunts for sharks after attacks

One chomps at the bit to know just what La Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (The Mexican Defense Department) has in store for fugitive circus lions or el chupacabras.

Oh, what my country is reduced to because we don’t live in an Absolut World

[If you haven’t checked out the riveting PBS series, Carrier, click here]