Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Battle of the Bands: Jesus, Satan, The Atheists live in Florida!

If you've ever been in a local band, you know that competition to get people to come to your shows can be intense.  So it is that a school district in Florida reluctantly brought about a Battle of the Bands, or something like that.  Turns out a local Christian group, Satan, and some cats calling themselves The Atheists (who also play under the name Freedom From Religion Foundation) created quite a stir in the Orange County Public Schools when they started passing out flyers.  Ironically, it was The Atheists (not the Satanists) who generated the most shock among parents.
Freedom From Religion Foundation Atheist Promotional Flyer
Marilyn Manson would have been proud.  Fans of Satan were shocked as the NWOBHM pioneers from 1979 produced some very un-heavy images, causing quite a stir in metal chatrooms until it was revealed that it was not the same Satan; rather it was more of a baby metal band.
So far Orange County Schools haven't had too much problem with stickers being plastered all over lockers and bathroom stalls, but the controversy seems to have proven quite enough for administrators.  The Atheists responded to the controversy by claiming that the local Christian group was "hateful, sexist, and cruel."  Personally, I think they just need to work on their image because they look really stupid.
 You know it's just plain wrong when a Christian musician stuffs a sock in his spandex to get attention, so maybe the critics have a point.  However, I just can't understand why people these days don't just chill the fuck out!  The Bible thumpers have always been around, because Christianity is the dominant western religion and makes up 32% of the world's population.  That we've reached a point where atheism/existentialism/secular humanism/etceteraism is so passionately proselytized that its believers have come to admonish any challenge to that belief system would seem to contradict its very purpose.  Existentialist super-philosopher Sartre wrote,  "And in thus willing freedom, we discover that it depends entirely upon the freedom of others and that the freedom of others depends upon our own."  It seems like a progressive movement that once felt like an intellectual vanguard has become an ideological abstersion.  And as for Satanism, Spinal Tap summed it up best at the 2:20 mark of this interview.  Back in the 80's Satanists had class and didn't need to go stirring up trouble in high schools.  Classy like this...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Eleven Eleven Eleven

Though I never knew him, the story goes like this...  My Great Uncle Nils, the day after the United States entered the Great War, went to Sausalito and took the ferry to San Francisco (the Golden Gate Bridge did not exist at that time) where he enthusiastically enlisted in the Amry.  After basic training, he was shipped to France and was immediately sent marching to the front to counter the Ludendorff Offensive which had made huge advances toward Paris.  With little rest and probably still a bit seasick from the long ocean voyage, he went over-the-top and into the Argonne Forest.  Whether he was one of the famous "Last Battalion" I honestly don't know, but what I do know is that he was cut down by machine gun fire not long after the assault began.  He took a ride across the river Styx, departing in Northern California and reaching the other side in a wasteland called a forest.  He rests someplace here now...
Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery (France)
Has there ever been a war so terrible to have been a soldier in?  Only a few battles from other wars are comparable in their scale of brutality and certainty of death (e.g. Stalingrad, Gettysburg), unless you start to take into account civilian casualties and events such as the firestorms of Tokyo, Hamburg, Dresden, the Battle of Berlin, Hiroshima, etc.  Whether you are talking about WW1's Eastern Front, Western Front, Gallipoli, or Isonzo, the casualty and death toll were horrifying.  There's no doubt in my mind that if it possible for any of the soldiers stuck in the thick of those battlefields to transfer through time to Okinawa, Tunisia, Khe Sanh, etc, and trade one version of Hell for a seemingly lesser, they would have done so.
I've sometimes felt that I've been reincarnated from a prior life that ended in those cryptic trenches.  I remember taking a train from Frankfurt to Paris and for whatever reason, the train had to stop somewhere on route.  Passengers were allowed to disembark temporarily and as I did I immediately recognized the tortured landscape around us.  I remarked to the people I was with, "Do you realize where we are?"  None did, though we stood in a giant killing field.  The trench lines were still recognizable.
Why do we take time to remember the mistakes of the past if we continue to repeat them?  God damn the people who have the power to prevent war, but let it happen anyway.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ivy League Sex Education: Anal Sex, Jungle Fever, Online Hookups

Here in America, the old English system of perpetuating the division between "the classes and the masses" (Quigley, 1966) that the Brits have with Oxford and Cambridge can be found in the Ivy League--a group of prestigious and expensive universities that produce many presidents, senators, blue chip CEOs, and the like.  Harvard is arguably the most recognizable of these institutions which have a profound impact on the direction of higher education at large through influential publications (e.g. Harvard Business Review) and alumni, though intraconference pomp and rivalry are intense.  So it was that after Yale University introduced "Sex Week" in 2002, Harvard was quick to join the race and has taken Ivy League sex ed to a new level.
You can go to Harvard's class schedule to see the courses on offer.  I'm a straight guy, so I'm interested in taking Jungle Fever, Sex Ed 101 (because I honestly don't know what a "dental dam" is), and Online Hookup Culture so I can improve my "technique."  As an aging single, I can use all the help I can get with sexting and mobile dating apps.  Unfortunately, I don't live in the Boston area and Harvard has yet to put these courses online with edX.  If they did I might even go for a certificate program, but I'm afraid one of the required courses will be What What In The Butt.  I'm not a homosexual, but the course instructor says that's just due "repressive patriarchical conceptions of sex."
I'm sure I could successfully challenge the Losing Your Virginity course given all my undergraduate credits.   ...And I've yet to look into the award winning sex program at Yale, but since it is home to the elite secret society known as Skull & Bones where ex-members like George Bush (father and son) and John Kerry would lay naked in a coffin and reveal their darkest secrets, I suspect it's pretty good.  I'm not sure if "Boffin In A Coffin" is being offered, but past courses have included Fantasy Rape and Sex Geek Chic.  It's unclear what the career prospects are for students who go through these workshops, but like many college majors these days, it's really not so much about pulling six figure salaries as it is about personal development and becoming a better person.  An Ivy League education in "sexology" can help you accomplish that.
It remains to be seen if America's Ivy League can even begin to compete with the centuries old tradition of sex education that has been perfected by the British, but its a start.  I'm probably behind the curve, given that I only went to flagship public universities where we didn't have anything like Sex Week (nothing official anyway), but one of my alma maters now has "gender neutral" restrooms.  Last summer I visited the old campus and must say I found it quite liberating to expose myself to pee in a room with young ladies without fear of being arrested, though I'm not sure that's exactly what administration had in mind.  Overall, I think what Harvard is doing is a good thing, and it's important to remember that classes like What What In The Butt have something to offer heterosexuals too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Casting Day at the American Political Theater

Ah, it's Election Day in the U S of A.  This is the day that Americans head to the polls to choose the actors for many roles in the political theater to follow for the next two years.  For WARRiors who click through from foreign lands, and for those Americans who still don't get it, the way this works in most states is you go to a polling station and enter your vote on an electronic voting device that is produced by private corporation with proprietary software that the public isn't allowed to inspect, don't have to produce auditable paper receipts, and are notoriously vulnerable to hacking, which has led many cases of vote tally irregularities since Bush pushed for the Help America Vote Act.
Electronic voting is definitely easier than the kind of skullduggery that the CIA used to get Buddhist-monk-killer Ngo Dihm Diem elected Prez of Vietnam in 1955 or the FNLA in Angola in 1964.  ...Not to mention all the trouble Jeb must have gone through to get his lil' bro' in office in 2000 by purging blacks from the voter rolls, or the strange case of ballot paper switch that led to the hanging chad fiasco.  Unfortunately, it most probably means that American democracy has been hijacked in the last few elections, according to professors from University of Pennsylvania and UC Berkeley among others.  No wonder so many people in the U.S. are completely fed up with Congress going into this election.  They don't respond to what the voters want, because the voters aren't the ones who put them in office.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dudley Do-Right Likes Beer! Happy Halloween, Eh!

I love my neighbors to the north.  That would be Canada, eh.  They really know how to incentivize good civic behavior.  Such is the story of this man, a modern day Dudley Do-Right who put himself in harms way to protect Canadian Parliament from an armed gunman.
 "Canadian mounted, baby, a police force that works..."  Alain Gervais, a government security guard, was rewarded for his heroism with...  A LIFETIME SUPPLY OF BEER!  And just in time for the holiday season, too!
The Obama Administration should take note of this, since a guy recently jumped the White House fence, sprinted past the guards, and made it all the way into the White House with a knife.  How he managed to do that when an old guy like me was getting assholed around by Secret Service just for standing on the sidewalk by the Eisenhower building this summer is beyond me.  More amazing is that it happened a second time weeks later.  Both men were returning U.S. Army veterans.  But that's beside the point.  Maybe instead of making our returning vets wait for months to receive critical services due to the backlog scandal at the Veterans Administration we should do as the Canadians do and give them all free beer for life.
That would certainly take the edge off of Gulf War Syndrome.  Then again I would much prefer that the U.S. government stops treating the American military as a mercenary force for some New World Order so international banking interests can profit while the American taxpayer foots the bill.  And don't fucking tell me I don't support the troops!  Most of them that I've talked don't understand what they Hell they are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan anyway.  Bring The Boys Back Home!  And give them free beer!  The way to fight fundamental Islamic terrorists is to send American hard core bands to the Middle East.

Friday, October 17, 2014

World War 1: Putin and Russia's New Perspective

I've been personally disappointed by the lack of recognition and public ceremony in the U.S. over the 100th anniversary of WWI, or "The Great War," as the Brits like to call it.  WWI is one of my favorite and most studied periods of world history and is still probably the seminal event of the last two centuries.  Obama and other European leaders gathered at the Menin Gate in Ypres earlier this year, but the even was largely ignored in America.  Russia had its own ceremony and the speech is really quite revealing of how Vladimir Putin and modern Russia and look back on its past.  Instead of venerating the Bolsheviks and murderers like Trotsky and Lenin, he calls them out for what they really were--not altruistic communists, but thieves who "sought only power for themselves."  Putin's view of the Russian Civil War of 1918, one can presume, is decidedly more White than Red.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ebola: Did Dallas Nurse Have One of These?

The CDC is taking heat for blaming America's first case of ebola transmission on the Dallas nurse who caught it, saying it was a "protocol breach" of protective gear.  CDC Director Tom Friedman, might want to look in the mirror when it comes to protocol breaches.  Ebola is a  Bio-Safety Level 4 pathogen.  In addition to Dallas, hospitals in Seattle, Omaha, Washington, and Boston either have or are preparing to take ebola patients.  I don't think any of them look like this:  Popular Mechanics magazine took us inside a BSL4 facility in 2007 (notice PM in '07 mentions that ebola could even spread with a sneeze).
BSL4 protocol checklist....   Vacuum sealed suits?  Nope.  Building in a building?  Nope.  Compression chamber?  Nada.  Separate HEPA filter HVAC system that removes everything down to .0003 microns?  Nyet.  Separate water decon system?  Absent.  Okay...  So who's breaching protocol, Mr. Friedman?  According the CDC's own BSL standards checklist, it doesn't even appear that BSL2 was reached at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.