Saturday, April 30, 2011

EU: Equal States

From Deutsche Welle:
"Germany prepares for Polish influx as labor market opens"

^ It seems that starting tomorrow the European Union will finally give all its member states an equal fitting since people from: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland and Slovenia will be able to live and work in the rest of the EU without any restrictions. It seems like a long-time coming especially since it has been 7 years since these countries joined the EU. ^,,15033957,00.html

Royal Wedding

From Yahoo News:
"World joins in British royal wedding celebrations"

LONDON (Reuters) – They wore Kate and William face masks in Hong Kong, donned plastic tiaras and wedding dresses in Sydney and knocked back jugs of Pimm's and roast beef served on red, white and blue plates in Paris. As thousands packed the streets of London to celebrate the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday, millions more around the world joined in the fun. Royal-themed parties were held from Beijing to New York, while up to 2 billion people worldwide were expected to watch the wedding on television, the British government estimated. In Australia, a Queen Elizabeth look-a-like greeted crowds glued to a large outdoor screen in Sydney and a Melbourne hotel offered "wedding guests" traditional British food and drink, such as Yorkshire pudding, gin and tonic and Pimm's, a fruity alcoholic drink. Sydney's gays and lesbians held a same-sex royal wedding party, with guests enjoying slices of a giant wedding cake baked by Gaycakes and a gift bag containing a booklet on same-sex marriages. In the former British colony of Hong Kong, which switched from British to Chinese rule in 1997, pubs and bars were decked out in Union Jack flags as live footage of the celebrations were beamed to champagne-sipping party-goers.
"It's bigger than the World Cup final," said Edward Stockreisser, a British expatriate watching the wedding with his fiancee. "We're in an Irish pub in Hong Kong and everyone's watching the TV...people really care about them." In a shopping mall on Kowloon, on the other side of the harbor, crowds of locals wore red, white and blue hats and waved flags. Some wore William and Kate masks. One of the most northerly -- and coldest -- celebrations was held by British, Canadian and American scientists working on a research project at an ice base on the frozen Arctic Ocean. Wearing thick gloves and fur hats, members of the Catlin Arctic Survey toasted the happy couple at an outdoor breakfast. Royal wedding fans braved an early morning in New York to mark the big day with street celebrations and to watch three couples tie the knot in Times Square. Cable TV station TLC sought to boost ratings by organizing the weddings on a stage erected above the busy intersection in Manhattan. "It's amazing it's the same day, it feels a little bit for them," said groom Hector Abreu, 27. "No, it's for us," butted in his future bride Candice Chapman. About 200 people gathered in Manhattan's Greenwich Village to watch the wedding on TV and to munch on a British breakfast in a restaurant bedecked in Union Jack flags. In Beijing, many expatriate Britons gathered at private houses to watch the ceremony on TV, while a lucky few were invited to a garden party at the British ambassador's house. In cosmopolitan and wealthy Shanghai, the Langham Xintiandi hotel was hosting a gala charity dinner with British dishes. "The dessert will be a chocolate biscuit cake similar to what Prince William himself has requested for his wedding cake," the hotel's communications officer, Taylor Chen, told Reuters. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was among 1,000 people at a party organized by the UK embassy in Tel Aviv. Guests enjoyed ale and strawberries as a band played Beatles classics. In the garden of the British embassy in Dubai, around 1,200 people sat under sunshades and trees decorated with Union Jacks, watching the wedding on two large screens. They wore straw hats to protect themselves from the scorching sun and tucked into baked potatoes. There was music, dancing and a children's tea party in the sunny southern Spanish town of Rojales where British expatriates and locals watched the wedding on giant screens. "It's a huge celebration, there are about 1,200 people here, 50-50 British and Spanish," said event organizer Linda Sage. Around 400 guests celebrated at the British Ambassador's residence in Paris, sipping champagne and nibbling on beef and horseradish sauce kebabs and egg sandwiches. Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott, deputy private secretary to William's father Prince Charles in the 1990s, told Reuters: "If Britain, by having some fun, can spread a bit of happiness around the world then great, and that's what we've done." Tourists gathered at the Pont de l'Alma bridge in the French capital, an unofficial monument to William's mother Princess Diana since her death in car crash there in 1997. A large heart-shaped frame of white carnations and roses was left with a note, saying: "Thinking of you on this special day."

^ I have to say that I watched the wedding from 5 am until they were back at Buckingham Palace. It was good. I hadn't planned on watching it, but there was really else on. Now that I am a Commonwealth citizen they will be my King and Queen someday. ^

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The King's Speech (2010)

I saw this movie by Netflix and really liked it. I thought Colin Firth did a really good job as Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI.) I had known a little about his speech impairment, but not everything that went along with it. I heard that Queen Elizabeth 2 has seen and also liked the movie (about her dad.) This film not only teaches people about a part of history, but does so in a way that doesn't feel like you are in school. It is a pretty quick movie with no long, boring parts.


Our dryer (which came with the house and was over 30 years old) died and so we went to get a new one. We went to Lowe's first and were told that it had to be special-ordered and would take 14 days to get to the store and then could be delivered (for a price.) So next we went to Home Depot where we had to first walk all around the store to find someone to help us and then we got a very stupid woman who said that they didn't make dryers in the size we wanted. I know for a fact they do as Lowe's could get one and we had one before. I let the lady know she was wrong and worthless and left.
Then we remembered hearing some ads on the radio to a local chain called Baron's. I looked on my phone and called them. They said they had what we wanted in-stock and so we drove over there. The guy (the same one I spoke to on the phone) was very helpful and friendly - not at all pushy like Lowe's and Home Depot tend to be. We picked the one we wanted and were told it would be delivered for free (with a $15 fee to haul-away the old dryer.)
So far I am very impressed with the service and products that Baron's has. Now I can only hope everything will go smoothly this Tuesday when it is delivered. If all goes well then I will believe in the saying "Buy Local." I have heard this saying all the time, but most local places tend to be bad and then you have to see the same people all the time. I really hope this time will be different.

Obama's Certificate

From USA Today:
"Obama releases long-form birth certificate"

WASHINGTON — President Obama, trying to squelch an escalating and distracting controversy, released on Wednesday a long-form birth certificate from 1961 that showed just what he has always insisted: He was born at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. Even Obama doesn't think the signed-and-sealed document will convince some "birthers" who suspect he was born abroad and therefore might be ineligible to be president. "I know that there's going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest," the president said in an extraordinary morning appearance in the White House briefing room. "But I'm speaking to the vast majority of the American people as well as to the press: We do not have time for this kind of silliness. … We've got big problems to solve. And I'm confident we can solve them, but we're going to have to focus on them — not on this."
In New Hampshire, real estate mogul Donald Trump, who has used the birther issue to fuel a possible presidential campaign, bragged that he had "accomplished something that nobody else was able to accomplish" in forcing the document's release. The notion that Obama lied about his birthplace has become one of those persistent conspiracy theories in American political life, from who-shot-JFK to the forces behind the 9/11 attacks. "There is fertile ground for these kind of charges" about Obama, says Robert Goldberg, a historian at the University of Utah and author of Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America. "Knowing how Americans love conspiracy theories, this plays into American fears and anxieties, whether about black people or about the world around them." Such controversies are stoked by skepticism about information from the government and other institutions, the vitriol and polarization in American politics, the echo chamber of cable news and the Internet, and even the profusion of movies and TV shows that depict governmental and global conspiracies, Goldberg says. The release of official documents or reports by commissions rarely settle such issues for everyone.
"Assuming it is completely legitimate and the real deal, I think it raises more questions than it answers," he says of the birth certificate, saying the fact that Obama's father wasn't a U.S. citizen also could raise questions about his eligibility for the presidency. And Farah says he wants to see "the original document." It remains in a bound volume at the state Department of Health in Hawaii in files that aren't open to public view. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll released Monday indicated the issue has been gaining traction. Only 38% of Americans said they thought the president was "definitely" born in the United States; 18% said he "probably" was. Nearly one in four, 24%, said he was probably or definitely born in another country. Nineteen percent said they didn't know enough to say. Those who think the president was born outside the United States tend to be among his fiercest critics."This is a non-issue that, for whatever reason, takes up space that would otherwise be dedicated to the good things that the president is doing. So it makes every piece of sense in the world to try to take the issue off the table," says Singer, a spokesman for Hillary Rodham Clinton when she ran against Obama in the 2008 Getting the long-form certificate required Obama to write a letter to Hawaian officials seeking a waiver for its release. His personal attorney, Judy Corley, flew to Honolulu to pick up two copies of the certificate, returning to Washington on Tuesday. "We're going to have to make a series of very difficult decisions" on federal spending and deficits, Obama said. "But we're not going to be able to do it if … we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers." Actually, a weekly analysis of leading news outlets by Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that the economy commanded 39% of coverage the week the deficit plans were released, compared with 4% on the Obama administration and the birther issue.

^ There is still something odd about all this. You do not spend nearly 2 million dollars of your own money fighting not to have to show this and then years later all of the sudden show it. Plus no US State in 1961 would have used the term "African." They would have used the term "Negro." It seems that most people are starting to see Obama for who he really is. He is all talk, but little action and always has some excuse as to why he can't do anything (nothing is ever his fault - even when the Democrats had both houses in Congress.) ^

Survivor : RI

Last night there wasn't much of a surprise. There was one Tribal Council but they voted two people off and the last two members of the old tribe (Steve and Ralph) were sent to Redemption Island. Now the one tribe is left and they will have to start picking off their own. I really hope that Rob gets sent off. I just don't care for him this season.
The three that had been on Redemption Island (Matt, Julie and Mike) competed in a challenge and Julie was sent to the jury.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Trip To NY

Last Saturday we left NH in our Jeep to go to my Grandparents' house in NY to make them Easter dinner. When we dropped the dogs off at the kennel early in the morning it was snowing lightly. It wasn't until we were in Vermont and more than half-way to NY that it started to sleet. The Jeep slid and we went into the median. We hit a large rock boulder and went into the other lane of traffic - luckily there weren't any cars there at that time - and that's when I moved the steering wheel so we went back into the median.
It was a pretty scary experience and could have been a lot worse. I tried using my cell phone to call the police, but had no bars. Most cars just drove past and didn't bother to even stop and check to see if everything was fine. One guy who did stop called the police for us. While we waited we saw that on the same road we had been on there were several different accidents - one car was completely totaled.
A volunteer fireman came over and asked if we needed help and when I told him what happened he started laughing. This was an old man who is supposed to help people. He was a prick and I let him know that and he left. Then an ambulance came to check on us and left to check on the other accidents. Finally the police came and the guy asked if we could make it out of the median. I tried but the car was making a very loud noise and so I had him call us a tow-truck. The tow-truck came and he took us to his house/garage. It was a little weird waiting with his wife while he looked at the car. In the end he said he couldn't do much as it wasn't his specialty. He suggested we drive back home (2 hours away) but we decided to go to NY (1 hour away.) We knew there was more of a chance to get the car repaired there than at home.
I called the insurance company and they told us what car place and rental car place to use in the city we were going to - since it was late on Saturday and the next day was Easter Sunday nothing would be open until Monday (today.)
We made it to NY - it was a little nerve-wracking to drive down the mountain road with a broken car. We dropped the food at my Grandparents' house (everything had been flown around the car in the accident, but it was still usable.) Then we checked in the hotel and ate at a German Restaurant we like (we used my Great-Aunt's car for the longer driving.)We went back to my Grandparents' house where my Aunt, Uncle, Great-Aunt and cousins were and hung out for a while. We watched one of the DVDs I made of some slides with pictures of my dad and uncle from the 1950s-1990s.
Easter Sunday we ate breakfast at the hotel and then headed to my Grandparents' house. We cooked a traditional Polish Easter Dinner (ham, pierogies, asparagus, Pashka bread) and also had horseradish soup and carrot cake - it was all so good. Everyone had a great time.
Today (Monday)I took the car to the garage where they looked at it and said we needed a rental car. We got an ugly white Mazda. After waiting all day to see if the Jeep could be fixed (the frame is bent, etc) we were told it was fixable. It won't be done until May 6th and so we are taking the rental car and going home tomorrow.
Today we took my Great-Aunt to Red Robin for lunch and then for dinner we went to a Chinese Restaurant and then Friendly's for ice cream. Despite the accident the rest of the trip was good (although once the car is fixed and we come get it it will be a long time before I come back here.) So tomorrow we will go home - hopefully it won't be snowing - and get the dogs.


Last night's show they were in Austria and went to Liechtenstein. They had to take a scooter along the whole length of the country (22 km.) Only the Cowboys had to do it again. Then they went to Switzerland and had to either eat a thing of fondue or bring 20 suitcases to 5 different hotels. Only Zev and Justin finished the fondue. There was a U-Turn and the Harlem Globetrotters used theirs on the Cowboys. The Cowboys came in last and were sent home.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Federal Airline Rules

From Yahoo News:
"New government rule tackles fees, bumping, delays"

The U.S. government is adding new protections for travelers when airlines lose their bags, bump them off flights or hold them on the runway for hours. The airlines will also have to more clearly disclose the fees they charge. Consumer advocates say the wide-ranging regulations announced Wednesday would improve the flying experience. Still, they wanted regulators to get even tougher on bag fees and make it easier to sue airlines over shoddy service. Beginning in late August, passengers who pay $15 or more to check luggage will get a refund if their bag is lost. They'll also be entitled to more money — up to $1,330 — if they're bumped from a flight. Airlines will have to include government taxes and fees in advertised prices. Delayed international flights won't be allowed to sit on the tarmac for more than four hours, an extension of a year-old rule for domestic flights that greatly reduced 3-hour delays. Passengers bumped off oversold flights will be entitled to greater compensation — up to $650 or $1,330, depending on how long a passenger waits for a makeup flight. The limits are currently $400 or $800. Hobica said that's not enough compensation for delaying passengers' vacations or causing them to miss cruises and weddings. He said airlines should also be required to provide alternate transportation if they cancel a flight other than for reasons beyond their control, such as bad weather. Mark Pestronk, a Washington lawyer who advises travel agents, called the rule "a big disappointment" because regulators dropped a proposal to require that airlines include their customer-service promises in legal contracts with passengers. He said that means consumers can't sue an airline that fails to live up to its promises; they can only file a complaint with the government. Airlines said they're already doing many of the things the Transportation Department wants, including disclosing fees and telling passengers about developing delays. They pointed to government statistics, which show fewer bags are being mishandled and fewer passengers being bumped from oversold flights. Some consultants said the 4-hour limit on tarmac delays for international flights would increase cancelations, and could leave stranded passengers waiting days for a seat on another flight. Regulators were persuaded to adopt the 4-hour rule, however, after a late-December debacle in which several planes loaded with international travelers were stuck, some for more than 10 hours, on snowy runways at New York's JFK Airport. In the future, those airlines could face fines of up to $27,500 per passenger — more than $10 million for a heavily loaded superjumbo jet like an Airbus A380 — although the government has never imposed anything close to the maximum.
^ I think that people should get their baggage fee back if their bag(s) are delayed and not only if they are lost. I like that the compensation for bumping passengers went up since most airlines continue to overbook their flights, then bump people off. The best thing in this new set of rules is that international flights can not stay on the runway longer than 4 hours. There is no reason a plane can not either taxi back to the gate and let the passengers off or bring buses to the plane and get the passengers off. I thought it was a good idea for domestic flights and now international ones will be included. I really hope that the Government follows-though with the penalties if the airlines don't do any of these rules. The Government should also focus on the numerous problems with air traffic controllers. ^

Survivor: RI

I didn't have Internet last night and so couldn't write after the show. This week Phil went beyond his usual crazy self. His group realized their rice (which they decided to keep separate from the other group) had maggots in it and so after they cleaned it up they wanted to put their rice in the same container as the other group. The other group said they couldn't (and I don't blame them.) That is when Phil went off. He even had the nerve to play the race card and say it was because he was black. I think it is disgusting that when people have no other hand to play in an argument they play the race card.
I believe that everyone (Black, White, Asian and Hispanic) all around the world could be considered racist at some point in their life because of the broad definition of the word. Of course it is much worse when a Black person calls a White person a Racist because of the historical meaning behind it. That was the case here with Phil. Even though the other group did nothing to fit the definition of racism Phil went off and even used the "n" word many times to try and prove his point. It seems that no one on either group took Phil seriously. Even at Tribal Jeff questioned Phil's response. This only shows that Phil is not only a completely crazy man, but also a man of no integrity as he will do anything to try and win an argument. I believe that is why his title says "former federal agent" and not "federal agent." The Feds must have finally realized how unstable he was and got rid of him.
On Redemption Island: Matt, Mike and Dave had a challenge and Dave became the first member of the jury. Matt continued to whine about everything that is happening to him (I really wish he would become the next member of the jury.)
In the end Julie was sent to Redemption Island because she did what most people do: they tell all their secrets right before voting begins at Tribal. She admitted to hiding Phil's shorts and so was voted out - at least Phil will never find out where his shorts are now. The two groups should have voted out Phil. If there is one thing I really can not stand is people calling other people racist just because they did not get their way. There are real times when people are racist and that should not be diminished because of those who decide to "cry wolf" all the time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Kennedys (2011)

I watched this 8 part mini-series last week. I have always liked JFK and have learned a lot about the Kennedy family on my own. I was curious to see if I would learn anything new while watching this mini-series. I have to say that I did not. That doesn't mean I didn't like the mini-series because I did.
I thought John White was a really good choice to play young JFK and that Greg Kinnear was an exact replica of the older JFK. Katie Holmes also looked and acted like Jackie. I didn't think that Barry Pepper looked like the real RFK though, but he did act like him. The guy who played Lyndon Johnson did a good job and portrayed him as the arrogant, unintelligent person he was. The same can be said with the guy who played Joseph Kennedy Sr.
The mini-series was split into 8 parts. The first part dealt with JFK's World War 2 experience as well as his elections to Congress and the Presidency. The second part dealt with JFK becoming President. Part three was about John Jr's birth and the Bay of Pigs invasion. The fourth part dealt with JFK's pain from his war injuries and the Soviet/East German building the Berlin Wall. The fifth part was about desegregation in the South. Part six dealt with the Cuban Missile Crisis. The seventh part dealt with Marilyn Monroe and JFK's assassination. Part eight was about JFK's funeral as well as the assassination of RFK.
The mini-series focused on most of the important events in both JFK and RFK's lives. I am glad that it did not focus at all on Ted Kennedy since he was not on the same high level as his brothers. Even with JFK's adultery I still believe he was a really great President (he never lied about it to the American people like a certain other President did.) I think it would have been very interesting to see what would have happened had JFK not been killed in 1963 or if RFK had not been killed in 1968 and had become President. I think many things would have changed for the better.
This mini-series was a good, basic summary of the Kennedy family's political ambition and how the American public viewed them.


This week they finally left India and went to Austria. They started in Vienna and had to had to either eat schnitzel and cake in 12 minutes on a Ferris Wheel or move Feud's couch from his office to the University of Vienna where he taught. Most teams started with the eating challenge and then when they couldn't finish it they went to the couch one.
They then had to drive to Salzburg and do a challenge as a chimney sweeper. The Pit Stop was at the home of the van Trapp family (from the "Sound of Music.") Mallory and her dad came in last, but were spared being sent home.
Next week they go to Liechtenstein.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Dutch Collaborator Data

From Yahoo News:
"Dutch archive: new info on some WWII Jews' arrests"

AMSTERDAM – AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Netherlands' national archive said Tuesday it has gathered new information about the arrests and deportations of some 9,000 Dutch Jews during World War II. The information, from a sealed archive on wartime collaborators, will reveal to some Dutch Jews the names of those who arrested their relatives and other precious facts about their final days as they were deported to Nazi concentration camps during the German occupation of the Netherlands from 1940 to 1945. The project was carried out by journalist Ad van Liempt and a team of researchers who received special permission in Sept. 2010 to review dossiers of 250 collaborators who are no longer alive. It primarily centers on the work of the "Henneicke Column" — a group of Dutch Nazi collaborators working in the investigative division of the government's Central Bureau for Jewish Emigration, which employed police and bounty hunters to find Jews who had escaped the net of the Nazis and their informers. While researching a book on the bounty hunters in 2002 — "A Price on Their Heads" — Van Liempt found personal information in the archive he thought would be useful to victims, but knew they would be unable to obtain. There are 500,000 dossiers on 310,000 collaborators at the archive's collection on special postwar tribunals, but those records are sealed until those named inside have died — and even then they can only be viewed by family members or victims. In addition, the archive is organized by collaborator name, rather than by victim, making it harder for relatives to know where to look. The new information is just a fraction of what the sealed archive contains. "None of the victims knew who had arrested them, or they weren't able to communicate it" before they died, Van Liempt said in an interview published on the website of state broadcaster NOS. One Jewish survivor contacted by the project is Paul Hellmann, whose father Bernhard died at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Researchers found a dossier in the archive containing previously unknown details of Bernhard's arrest on a Dutch farm where he was hiding, and his subsequent interrogation. Also contained in the same dossier were two letters written by the then 7-year-old Paul, in a schoolboy scrawl, to his father. They had been delivered to the farm by someone in the Dutch resistance and Bernhard was carrying them at the time of his arrest. "I couldn't believe my eyes. I couldn't look at them at first, and then later I did," Paul Hellmann said in an interview with NOS. The letters were about everyday occurrences such as seeing trams in the eastern Dutch city of Arnhem, and eating a tasty pie, "but they are letters from a son to his father" Hellmann said. "It's one of the cruelest things that they did, that he wasn't allowed to keep those letters." Results of the project announced Tuesday will only be available to victims' families. The names of the 9,000 victims will be added to a digital database later this month. An estimated 110,000 Dutch Jews died in the Holocaust, including teenage diarist Anne Frank. Just 30,000 Dutch Jews survived the war. Details of the Frank family's arrest are already known, although it remains uncertain who tipped police to her family's hiding place above a canal-side warehouse in Amsterdam.

^ I do not understand why the Dutch Government is only going to give the survivors and their families the names after the traitors have died. If they know who betrayed the men, women and children to the Nazis that sent many thousands of people to their deaths in ghettos, concentration camps and death camps then it is the Dutch Government's moral responsibility to right the wrongs as best as they can and disclose the information while the survivors and their children are still around. The traitors lost whatever right they had under the law when they worked with the Germans and arrested innocent people and helped murder them. It doesn't matter how long they spent in jail (if at all.) I know that if I suffered the horrors of the Holocaust and survived then I would want to know everything I could pertaining to how I was arrested/betrayed and how the other members of my family also suffered. Hopefully the Dutch Government will change their policy and release the information to the survivors and their children right away if they don't then they (the Dutch Government) are collaborating with the Nazi collaborators and that's just plain disgusting. ^

Supporting The Military

From Yahoo News:
"White House joins forces to support military families"

^ This program seems good on paper, but it will be harder to start and keeping people interested. I am curious to know why this wasn't done a long time ago since the wars have been going on for almost 10 years (in Afghanistan) and 8 years (in Iraq.)
People tend to forget the military and their families, but you would hope the government that creates the wars and puts people in harm's way wouldn't. A lot more needs to be done by both the Federal, State, Local Governments and ordinary people in support of soldiers and their families. ^

Survivor: RI

This week Boston Rob continued his dictatorship and his minions obeyed his every word. The other members even called them a cult and I have to say that I expected cups of Kool-Aid to come out at any minute. The other group caught some fish and Boston Rob didn't want his people to have any. Grant (who tried to say he is his own person) went over to have some fish and Boston Rob told him to call back.
The game is getting pretty boring because Boston Rob has gone from a cool guy to an arrogant cult leader. I really hope that he gets voted off soon, but that would require his minions to wake up out of their brain-washing.
Phil continues to be his weird and annoying self. He always has something dumb to say. It seems that even the people on his side don't care for him, but are just using him for their numbers. I'm sure that he will be the first one voted out once the other group is gone.
Mike was the first one sent to Redemption Island and David was the second. It will be interesting to see which of them (including Matt) will survive and get back into the game.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Civil War: 150 Years On

Today is the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. I have heard that many States (most of them in the South) are doing little to mark the anniversary. They claim it is because of money problems, but I believe it is because they only want to celebrate the Confederacy and the Old South and not how they lost. I lived in Virginia and have seen first-hand how much in love with all things Confederate people in the South still are. No only do they name schools, buildings, roads, etc after Confederates, but they also have state holidays honoring them.
I firmly believe that Confederate symbols and monuments should be illegal in the United States. They serve the same purpose as Nazi symbols (to discriminate against a group of people.) The fact that groups like the KKK use Confederate symbols and ideals to discrimate against blacks, Jews, Catholics, homosexuals and others shows how important the racist policies of the Confederacy continues to help ignite violence and why they should be outlawed.
I also think we should have big celebrations at the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War since it kept the US united, freed the slaves in the South and started the long journey to make everyone equal.

France's New Law

A law making it legal to have your face covered in public went into force yesterday and police have already given their first fine. I think this law (which does not single-out Muslim veils) is one of the best new laws to be made anywhere in a long time. I know there are several other European countries that are working on the same type of law and hope those pass as well.
There are several Muslim countries (ie Turkey) that outlaw Muslim veils in public and yet no one seems against those. France does not outlaw only Muslim veils but all things that cover the face while Turkey only outlaws Muslim veils. So those people that try to claim France is targeting only Muslims need to get their facts straight.
I really wish the US would follow-suit with France and create the same type of law.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


This week they stayed in India - which didn't make any of them happy. They had to take a plane to a religious town and then had to find several religious men for their clues. The town looks like most of India (crowded, smelly and dirty.) The teams then had to either heat milk for children over dried cow manure or feed hay to cows. One good thing this week was that the Asian father/daughter team were eliminated. That guy was very annoying. He was constanly complaining about random things, always had to stop to eat and was nasty to his daughter. I'm just glad they are no longer in the Race.
Next week the teams go to Austria (I bet they are really glad to get out of India.)

Hop (2011)

I saw this movie yesterday. It was the first film I saw at the theater in almost a year. After seeing the previews I didn't expect much from the movie. It is one of those non-thinking films (which sometimes you need.)
I have to say I enjoyed the movie. James Marsden was good in his role. You can't tell that he is almost 40 in real life and yet played a 20 something here. The scenes with David Hasselhof were a little odd (although I'm sure every German will watch the movie once they realize he is in it.)The bunny was "real" looking in that he didn't look animated. You could tell the scene at the Playboy mansion tried to appeal to adults (since most kids wouldn't understand) and it was funny.
Even though you knew how things would end it was still a good Easter movie.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Survivor: RI

This week there were lots of stupid mistakes. Matt won his Redemption Island challenge against Sarita and rejoined the game while the two teams merged.
Natalie won the immunity challenge even though it looked like Mike was guaranteed to win. This caused a scramble for Mike's former tribe to try and get Matt and Andrea on to their side. It seemed like Andrea was more open to it especially since Matt told everything to Rob.
I thought Matt had learned his lesson from when he was on his tribe and he did nothing but idolize Rob and then Rob and the rest of the tribe voted him out. I guess I was wrong. Matt should have gone over to the people that were on the other tribe. They didn't show us who each player voted for like they usually did, but I think Matt stayed with his former tribe. Ralph wasted the idol for Mike.
In the end Matt was voted out and sent back to Redemption Island. I had wanted Matt to come back into the game and shake things up, but he didn't. He wasted his second chance. I don't know if Matt will survive Redemption Island and come back (again) to the game. I kind of hope not since he didn't do anything with the second chance he had.

Communist Food Comeback

From Deutsche Welle:
"Berlin restaurant dishes out authentic communist cuisine"

An eatery in downtown Berlin serves recipes from the bygone communist era. East German cuisine doesn't usually get much attention, but the simple food is a reminder that quite a lot can be made from very little. "I've never been to any place like it," said Sam, a Berlin tour guide, as he finished his Eisbein (pork knuckle) at Domklause. The Berlin restaurant opened last autumn. For the past two months, Sam has brought tours to Domklause three times a week, and has literally tried everything on the menu. Originally from the UK, Sam says he finds the meals at Domklause nice and average, adding, "there's nowhere I can find just East German food." Domklause, the gastronomical sidekick to Berlin's GDR Museum, sports chic backlighting and sleek black tables with white chairs. So where is all the gaudy furniture reminiscent of East German cafes and living rooms? "It's completely bourgeoisie," said Sam of the restaurant. "It's nothing like the GDR. But I don't think it would be so inviting if it had the former style." The restaurant doesn't look anything like a GDR living roomAccording to spokesperson Melanie Alperstädt, the ambience of Domklause was specifically designed to not be nostalgic for the East, simply "because Germans tend to think that nostalgia is a critique of the past," said Alperstädt. The result is authentic communist-era dishes in a modern setting; sentimentality comes only with the taste. "In the museum you can experience the GDR, you can touch the exhibits, you can see original furniture, but here the focus is on the dishes," added Alperstädt.From 1979 to 1992, an exclusive restaurant with the same name was located in nearly the exact same spot - across from the Palace of the Republic, which was the seat of the government in the German Democratic Republic. Welcoming state guests and visitors from the West, it dished out hearty GDR cuisine, like the Jägerschnitzel of the East - breaded sausage nestled in a bed of pasta and tomato sauce - a far cry from the savory escalope found in the West. Domklause's former sous-chef, Hans-Jürgen Leucht, now presides over the newly refurbished establishment as head chef. "We've got a contemporary witness who is also a chef, so it's perfect," said Alperstädt. Stretching the entire length of Domklause's southern wall is the mural "In Praise of Communism," painted by Ronald Paris in 1970, which was salvaged by the GDR Museum from the soon to be destroyed Office for Statistics building in East Berlin. Traditional kitschy slogans from the GDR food industry wrap around the restaurant's interior pillars, making claims like "Fish fingers and canned food - rich in variety and ready to serve." Leucht has been chef at Domklause during two different erasThe menu at Domklause is packed with pages of the culinary classics of communism, including the infamous Ketwurst and Grillettas. Essentially hotdogs and hamburgers, these foods were required to change names in the East, under the ruling of the GDR's gastronomical research institute, so as not to be associated with their counterparts in the West.
Other communist comebacks include Spreewald Gherkins, Strapping Max (fried egg on rye), the Rabbit Imposter (meatloaf), Krusta (pizza), and soups called Power Broth and Soljanka, a traditional Russian workingman's stew. Even the drink list has alcoholic artifacts under the heading "Socialist Schnapps" and wines that include Bulgarian Donkey's Milk (white) and Hungarian Bull's Blood (red). They've also humorously added a page titled, "Alcoholic Beverages from NSW (the Non-Socialist World)," which includes whiskey and cognac. And at least today's version of socialist supper offers plenty of fresh salads and even an entire vegetarian section that includes sugar-coated pasta. Apart from the glaring gimmick, one could wonder why anyone these days would desire GDR grub when there's always another option. Domklause doesn't claim to offer high-class cuisine, but rather pay respect to GDR recipes that embraced the simple pleasures of uncomplicated dishes. The scarcity of products and lack of variety in the bygone era gave cooking a creative challenge, and ultimately a unique place among the culinary arts. "They didn't have everything to cook with in the GDR, but with just a few things, they could make some very nice-tasting food," said Alperstädt. The early Domklause was located across from a GDR landmarkDomklause's clientele is largely made of up tourists, but manager Kim Stender said that at least 20 percent are East Germans, who remember how quickly their favorite staples vanished from the shelves as soon as the Berlin Wall fell.
Susanne Beer, a graphic designer who grew up in the Pankow district of East Berlin, recollects the confusion over milk that seemed to change overnight from 2 percent fat content to 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent. After the collapse of the GDR, Beer "didn't expect that certain products would disappear from one day to the next."
Although she missed Ketwurst in the beginning, along with the not-so-sweet ketchup of the East, Beer was amazed by the variety of foods so abundantly available, like "all the creative flavors of yoghurt, and Kellogg's and spinach and chewing gum!" she exclaimed. "Shops were so empty and then suddenly they were full of food."
Domklause takes visitors back to the empty shelves - but not without creativity. For tour guide Sam, the menu represents a historical and seldom discussed part of the GDR. "It's not extraordinary, though the people always seem to like it," he said.

^ It seems that people are trying new things to bring back the old Communist days (whether to those that lived through them or to the young generations.) There is a game in Poland that shows what daily life was like during Communist times and now this restaurant in Germany. One thing that does interest me is how people survive standing all the time in long lines for little if any food and yet they always seemed to make good tasting dishes. When I was in Russia I saw firsthand people prepare outstanding meals with very little (the lack of food was usually because of uninvited guests and not rationing or scarcity.) I guess they learned it from the days when they had no other choice. While I do not think the majority of people (especially those 50 and younger) want the Communist days brought back I do think it is important to show the youth that period of history and doing so in a visual way makes it even more interesting. ^,,6485798,00.html

A Birther

A Birther is a person who wants proof that Obama was born in the United States and has a legal right to being the President. The characteristics of a Birther are said to be Republicans (or Tea Party members.) I think it is very strange that Obama spent thousands of his own money to make sure his birth certificate was not made public. That makes me question what his real motive is.
Usually if someone does not what to show you something and even invests time and money to keep that out of the limelight there is something they are trying to hide. I have studied US Presidents throughout history and can read all about their childhoods yet when it comes to Obama there is little if anything. There is a brief mention that he lived in Indonesia and then moved to Hawaii. He was born in the 20th Century and yet there is more on Presidents born in the 18th Century. That seems very odd to me.
All Obama has to do is make his birth certificate public and then all the rumors and talk would stop - that is of course if he was born in the United States. I would personally like to know more and hope that the truth (whatever it is) comes out.

Update On New Registration Rules

This is an update on the new registration rules for foreigners in Russia. Russian President Medvedev signed them into law March 24th. These rules will make things a little simpler for foreigners. While they do not bring the Russian system in line with Western countries it is a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wet Asphalt (1958)

I just watched this movie (in dubbed English.) It has Horst Buchholz - who was known as the German James Dean. It was made 13 years after World War 2 ended and yet shows how the war still affected the Germans. By the late 1950s there were still thousands upon thousands of German POWs and forced laborers in the Soviet Union. This was a sore spot in West German/USSR relations (although the East Germans didn't seem to care what their Communist friends were doing.)In 1955 alone, 15,000 Germans were released from the USSR and allowed to return to either East or West Germany.
It also has the theme of the older generation knowing what is best over the younger generation. The movie used the example of an old newspaper guy vs a young newspaper guy, but it could fit in any context.
It also shows how the Cold War was evolving and the distrust between the two sides. Throughout the movie the saying "The Poles aren't talking" was used to sum up the lack of evidence. While I know that the countries behind the Iron Curtain often refused to address rumors to the West (and almost never to their own people) it seems odd to me today to have people just willingly accept governments not answering questions.
One scene that really stuck with me is at the German Red Cross when an old woman was asking the official about her son and she was told to wait her turn and the old woman apologized as though she had done something wrong. It shows the German characteristic of accepting any sort of authority without real question. I have personally seen that characteristic (both when I lived in Germany and when I go there as a tourist.)
Overall, the film brought up basic moral questions of doing what is right or doing what one knows is completely wrong. Even though the film was made in West Germany in the 1950s and is in black-and-white I think the questions it raises are still valid today.

The Art Of Language

I consider myself well-versed in English Grammar (although like everyone I sometimes make mistakes.) Most of the time they are simple typos and not grammatical mistakes. I really can not stand when native speakers can not even speak their own language correctly. Every language is a complex system that has taken hundreds of years to evolve and every word has a specific meaning.
Of course I am not talking about people who learn a second or third language and can not speak it correctly or fluently since at least they are trying to better themselves.
While English does not have the gender issues like most other languages we are known for having one of the most vast vocabularies. I am sick and tired of hearing people butcher words and grammar. An example is the word "ask." Many people say "ax" instead. If they did ax someone then they should be sent to jail. There are many other examples.
I think we should start requiring everyone (except those with physical or mental problems) who constantly misuse words and grammar to go to special schools and learn the correct usage. Language is supposed to convey expression and meaning, but nowadays all it is showing is people's ignorance and laziness to learning the correct usage.