Thursday, February 26, 2009


While I was teaching, a 6-year old Indian boy declared, "I have an arch-enemy. Do you know who it is?" I could guess.
"Who?" I asked.
"It's you!" What a surprise.
"Do you know who my arch-enemy is?" I rebutted.
"No. Former Jewish parody rapper 50 Shekel."
All the little kids in the room break out in laughter.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama's First State of the Union Address

At various times, I was curious to see if the Democrats or Republicans were standing and clapping after a particular comment, but the camera had zoomed too far for me to recognize anyone in the audience. So I developed a way to distinguish between the two. If everyone on camera is white, then it's the Republicans. If almost everyone on camera is white, then it's the Democrats.

Barack Obama's speech was impressive. Honestly, I think he could sell gay to Pat Robertson. But, I'm afraid, compared to the last eight years, almost any speech would sound refreshingly grounded yet ambitiously hopeful. It's like the person who eats Banquet frozen dinners every night and then there's a sale on Stouffer's frozen dinners. That person wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the Stouffer's frozen steak tips and filet mignon. That's just a hypothetical; my life hasn't become that sad. Um, let's just move on.

It looked like Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asleep. I believe this is because she was very upset that she was missing her Murder She Wrote reruns, so she decided to fall asleep and pretend she was watching it in her dreams.

State of the Union addresses can create some weird reactions. The Democrats cheered the line, "We inherited a huge deficit." That is pretty great, isn't it? Everyone cheered the fact that America does not torture. Next time I see my mother, I'm going to give her hug for not beating me with a stick while I slept as a child.

Joe Biden wasn't exactly sure when to clap. Thank goodness for Nancy Pelosi.

Occasionally, the right person comes along at the right time. If Obama is that person, it is too early to tell. But he sure seems like it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Let the Banning Begin

Here are the latest decrees for my nation.

Today's decrees
Only 10 movies will be allowed a year. So they all better be really good.

A successful society respects nature. Thus, umbrellas are now banned.

A beautiful society is a happy one. Thus, everyone 165lbs overweight or more can only go out at night. Or when it's very cloudy.

I've never liked odd numbers, so they are now banned.

The economy of my great nation has slowed a bit. So, to stimulate the economy, free happy endings for every citizen with any purchase over $49.99.

I've always hated Jeff Goldblum; he's banned.

When I was young, I used to have a recurring dream that after I heard the doorbell ring, I would peek out of the window only to find an evil penguin moving in horror-film-like slow motion all set to the tune of Michael McDonald's I Keep Forgetting. So all of that is banned.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Evil Leaders League, Week 5

Sometimes, when I'm sad, I wish I was an evil leader so I could have my minions rub meat on the balls of my opponents and then unleash Michael Vick's former dogs on them, just to wash away my pain. The official Evil Leaders League site is here, where you can vote in the latest poll.

Khamenei vs Bongo
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is, believe or not, the Ayatollah of Iran. He will essentially decide the next president of Iran, incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or former incumbent Mohammad Khatami. That means that Khamenei has the power of 7 American men and 2 American women (in black robes). Ahmadinejad declared that Iran is now officially a super power. Yeah, and I have a 14-inch penis. Omar Bongo, the president of Gabon since 1968, has kept relative stability in his land by either paying off or jailing political opponents. Hey Bongo, for the right price, we can make sweet music together and I'll take you out of this league. What's the price? A bj from your dying wife.

To view the winners of each contest, go to the official ELL site.

al-Bashir vs Kim
Omar al-Bashir is still the president of Sudan. He's garnered the support of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. It's all part of al-Bashir's attempt to create an exclusive club of evil, aptly called: the Exclusive Club of Evil. To join, you have to be the evil leader of a country and have rancid foot odor. Kim Jong-Il runs North Korea. Even in death, he will terrify the U.S. as concerns about his successor rage on. Haunting people from beyond the grave is very evil, as Gene Siskel has taught me. In the meantime, Kim is still preparing to launch a missile in an attempt to scare the world into providing him with aid and legitimacy a little longer. Wouldn't it be great if real life was like that? You threaten to kill people and you get stuff, like Slurpees and Snickers bars.

Shwe vs Chavez
Than Shwe, who runs military juntas in Myanmar and Burma, is like a women taking you for a ride. Right when you think he's finally going to be awesomely evil, he does something that leaves you scratching your head, like releasing political prisoners. One of the released prisoners was a monk named U Thumana, who was asked by a reporter, "What was it like in a Burmese prison?" U answered, "You can't imagine." The reporter rebutted, "Wait, me or you?" U answered, "You." Which went on until I realized that joke doesn't work in print. Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, made a surprise visit to Cuba to visit the Castro brothers. He wanted to see what he'd look like in 40 years. Chavez has also begun to dabble in killing critics and growing a beard, but apparently only has enough manhood for one of them.

Nazarbayev vs al-Assad
Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is perpetually constipated, is the president of Kazakhstan. There was a recent political protest in his country, which is as rare as a Nazarbayev shit. Nazarbayev should eat a jumbo chicken dog with free 7-11 chili poured over it. But he doesn't allow free speech, so he'll never receive that advice. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is expected to meet with U.S. lawmakers and has been urged to enter negotiations with Israel. That all sounds like Syria is coming in from the cold, but just remember al-Assad's personal motto, "Keep your friends close and the Zionist American pigs closer. And continue to fund anti-American and anti-Israeli organizations." That's better than his other personal motto, "Who wants syphilis!"

standings: Check the ELL site

Sunday, February 22, 2009


We honor the police and the military in our society, even though they are responsible for countless murders. I have never understood how the murder of a person in one context is wrong while it is deemed acceptable in another context. My understanding of murder is that it is bad. I assumed that was everyone's interpretation of murder. I could be wrong.

The sad fact is that the police and the military have such a potential for good. The police should be dedicated to helping the citizens it serves. The military is a well-trained, extremely discipline group of men and women that could be used to deliver food to the hungry. It could build damns for those in need of water. It could transform the world for the better. But instead, both organs are used to murder. Whether it is an African immigrant pulling out his wallet or an Iraqi man unwilling to follow an imposed curfew, the police and the military have squandered their potential and human life.

So, to answer a question I asked yesterday: No.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Screw

I was staring at a screw on the metro north in New York a few weeks ago and I had a revelation. Someone screwed in every screw of this train. Someone put together every part of it (lets just assume it wasn't a machine).

The safety of countless people depended on this person doing their job well. And they had because we made it safely, just as so many others had before. That is a noble job. Then I started thinking, someone is responsible for all of the little things that we overlook, but allow our lives to continue seamlessly. There are numerous unacknowledged people who devote their lives to playing some small part in making this world a better place to live. It began to restore my faith in humanity.

I wish I had a punchline to go with this. Is that it? Am I suddenly someone who is too busy appreciating the little things to comment on the problems with our world?

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Hate Talking to You

I hate small talk. I hate talking to people I don't know. But what I hate most is making small talk with people I don't know. Here are my thoughts during a particular encounter with a large friendly middle-aged barber.

"As nice as it is today, I heard it might snow tomorrow."
(FUCK! I paid for a haircut, not a damn chit chat party.)

"Did you watch the Super Bowl?"
(The Super Bowl? That was like three weeks ago! "Hey'd you see the moon landing?")

"What line of work are you in?"
(I wonder if he think it'd be funny if I asked him the same thing.)

"Did you have off for President's Day?"
(This guy doesn't take a hint, does he? How many one-word answers does he need?)

"Mmm, look at that!"
"She's cute."

"Is that short enough or should I take more off the front?"
(Dammit! Enough with the questions already.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Men Should Be Equal Too

You always hear about women's rights and the fight for women's equality. Every nation at least pays lip service to the idea of improving the lives of women. Well, what about men's equality? My nation will make sure men are treated equally and have the same rights as women.

Today's decrees
I hereby decree that men will not be forced, under law, to carry the burden and guilt of making more money for doing the same job as women. Women have burdened and guilt us enough.

Women will no longer be allowed to hog the housework and child-rearing, you rearing hogs.

Men have always been forced to stay in a man's sphere. There is a stigma if they leave this sphere and that is unfair. A man should be allowed to enter a women's sphere if he so desires without obtaining a stigma. Men are hereby allowed, no, required to bake cookies. Especially if they have sprinkles.

The health of both men and women is very important. Women are required to check men to make sure they don't have testicular cancer, prostate issues, or what I like to call lonely member disease. Men are required to perform a mammogram on women, with their hands, mouths, etc. A healthy nation is a happy nation.

It has always been that women can take off from work without consequence for "women's issues" if they are not so fresh in a certain area. Men should be able to take off work without consequence for "men's issues" such as getting one's finger stuck in one's penis hole.

In society, men are forced to initiate an interaction with women. That sets a man up for painful rejection. From now on, women are required to look a man up and down and then say, "Hey baby, come over to my house for lunch. And don't forget to bring your meat," while mockingly grabbing their own genitalia, at least once a week. Just to even things out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Helpful List for the Gentiles

I know that many gentiles don't know much about Jews. There are a lot of misunderstandings. So, I've provided a helpful list of things not to do or say to Jews because it would be culturally insensitive.

-Don't spray paint swastikas on their houses.

-Don't spray paint swastikas and the word "kike" on their cars.

-If you see a Jew wearing a yarmulke as he drives his car, don't take a picture of him like he's an animal in a fucking zoo.

-If you're a teacher/professor and a Jewish student says, "I won't be here for the test because it's Yom Kippur. When can I take the makeup?" Don't threaten to fail your student if they don't show up.

-Don't throw pennies at your Jewish friends.

-Don't blow out a Yahrzeit candle symbolizing the spirit of a Jew's dead grandmother.

-Don't tell them that the Jews control the media.

-Don't replace the word "you" with the word "Jew" when you are talking to a Jewish person.

-Don't tell them that all the Jews who worked in the World Trade Center received secret calls not to go to work on the morning of 9/11/01.

Now that you're armed with this information, you should be able to interact with a Jewish person without being culturally insensitive.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Evil Leaders League, Week 4

I went to get my car serviced and they asked me, "Do you know that your engine light is on?" I said that I did. And that was the end of that, which I took to mean that sometimes the light comes on for no particular reason and it wasn't a big deal. When I got back to Baltimore, the car was struggling a tad and smelled a little funny. Now, I'm terrified that my engine will fail at the worst possible moment (which is any moment really). I certainly did not need this now. What I do need is to get the results for this week in the ELL.

Nazarbayev vs Chavez
Nursultan Nazarbayev runs a country called Kazakhstan. Shares of Kazakhstan's state bank have plummeted, which means that Kazakhstan is a country in the world in 2009. There's nothing evil about participating in the global economic meltdown. Nazarbayev proposes to solve the crisis by doing away with money as a form of currency and instead suggests that people with the longest and most unpronounceable names will become the most powerful. Personally, I love the idea. Hugo Chavez is the President of Venezuela. Get used to that sentence as the country has voted to abolish presidential term limits. Venezuelan citizens saw what a beautifully burgeoning society a dictatorship has created in North Korea, Burma, Belarus, and many other places ruled by leaders who have been in this league, and they want in.

To view the winners of each contest, go to the official ELL site.

al-Assad vs Kim
Bashar al-Assad leads Syria. He and Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Rodriguez Vazquez Papenski held hands in celebration of the new found relationship their two nations share and not because they're gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Saudi Arabia is a U.S. ally so this means that al-Assad is friends with our friends. If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then what is the friend of my friend? Kim Jong-Il, who is the ruler of North Korea, just turned 67 years old and he doesn't look a day over someone who died five years ago. I'm curious to see if North Korea's test of weapons of mass destruction will work. It's a little like my curiosity about whether or not I'll be successful in life; I know the answer and it's not good for either one of us.

al-Bashir vs Khamenei
Omar al-Bashir has a map in his office of the country he runs, Sudan. The western and southern parts are cut off. The ICC has decided to issue a warrant for his arrest on charges of genocide. It's about time! Michael Vick languishes away in prison while this guy... never mind, this isn't the Soapbox Leaders League. Maybe people are right, a dozen dogs are more important than hundreds of thousands of black Africans. Omar al-Bashir certainly thinks so. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the Ayatollah of Iran. If you think about it, "Ayatollah" sounds like a racist stereotype of a Native American chant. All Khamenei thinks about is the late Ayatollah Khomeini... nude.

Shwe vs Bongo
It's like Than Shwe has two wives, one is Burma, a country that he leads, and the other is Myanmar, a country that he leads. Than Shwe called Kim Jong-Il on his birthday and they talked about old times, like the slumber parties they used to have. The parties usually involved putting dissidents into an eternal slumber. They talked about what they're up to now. One is a dictator of an impoverished Asian nation and, well, so is the other. Dude, what a coincidence! And of course, they talked about their favorite subject, boys. Omar Bongo grooved his way to the top of the charts in Gabon in 1968, which is another way to say that he has ruled the country since before Madonna was fucking things. When Bongo rose to power, he believed in equality, justice and progress, but now he just hires people to tickle with a feather because it passes the time until he dies.

standings: Check the ELL site

Monday, February 16, 2009

In the Desert for Forty Years

I was driving to work and I noticed that my hands were very dry and ashy. I wondered how we made it in the desert for forty years without any lotion. Then I wondered if, throughout history, we've always compared things to wandering the desert for forty years. Did someone mention that in Birkenau?

The inmate says, "Hey, let's look on the bright side. At least we're not stranded in the desert for forty years."
"Shut the hell up Moshe; this is pretty bad."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2009 All Star Game Recap

This one wasn't much of a game. The East sprinted out to a quick start. Then the West game back in the first quarter and the game was over. I was surprised by the lack of effort out there. I truly enjoy watching all the magnificent plays in an All Star Game, but it's much more satisfying if it's done in a competitive atmosphere and within the rules. This game lacked the usually competitive edge that at least is displayed in the fourth quarter of most All Star Games.

As you might have guessed, there were a few things that irked me. It's terrible that that plane crashed and those people died. Why was there a moment of silence for them at the All Star Game? There was no relevance. But it sure did put a damper on the sport's night of celebration. I can't stand all of the pre-game pageantry. Just introduce the teams, let the players run out and get it over with. Shaq is a good dancer; maybe he should be on Dancing with the Stars. I don't really know, I don't watch dancing shows, I watch basketball.

They should not sign the national anthem(s) before sporting events. It makes no sense. It's a sport, what does it have to do with country? Co-MVPs is stupid and unbecoming of the game of basketball. Kobe was the MVP, end of story. The one thing I did like was Shaq's pass through the legs of Dwight Howard to Chris Paul and then Shaq cut to complete the give-and-go. So, it wasn't all terrible.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

2009 All Star Saturday Recap

Derrick Rose won the Skills Challenge. Daeqaun Cook won the Three Point Contest.

Nate Robinson pulled out the Slam Dunk Contest. Draped in green, Robinson showed that Superman is not the only person who can run faster than a speeding bullet and then leap over tall buildings. Nate took off flying through the air, spread his leads to avoid the head of the nearly 7-foot tall Dwight Howard, who was adorning a Superman cape, and continued to fly until he jammed home the green ball. It was a performance that will enter the Dunk Contest's annual highlight reel.

Dwight Howard had a particularly impressive dunk in the finals. The giant threw the ball off of the side of the backboard, caught it with one hand outside of the paint, and threw it through the hole with the force of a Category 2 hurricane.

Howard's other three dunks were overrated. His first dunk, throwing it from behind the basket and completing a nice twisting two-handed windmill slam, was at the same level as the other three competitors' first dunks. Yet, Howard inexplicably received a 50. Rudy Fernandez's second dunk, though it took far too long to complete, was quite remarkable. Pau Gasol threw the ball off of the back of the backboard and Fernandez caught it behind the basket and stuffed it one-handed on the other side of the rim. J.R. Smith's most exciting dunk was a variation of the "Spud Webb" except he dunked it off of two bounces.

Howard dunked on a 12-foot hoop, which was a nice accomplishment. But think, if he and Nate Robinson stick their hands up, there is roughly a 2-foot difference between the two. Howard's 12-foot dunk begins to look a tad pedestrian, but only in comparison to Nate the Great's exploits. From a similar distance away from the rim, Nate showed his array of two-handed reverse windmill dunks. Howard finished the competition with another good dunk, taking off from just inside the free throw line, but one that summed up his outing. It was an above average dunk, but not legendary. And not at the caliber of Robinson's showing. For the second year, all is right with the world. Nate Robinson has won the Slam Dunk Contest.

Friday, February 13, 2009

2009 All Star Saturday Predictions

Predicted winners in bold

Skills Challenge
Devin Harris, Tony Parker, Derrick Rose, Mo Williams.

Three Point Contest
Mike Bibby, Daequan Cook, Danny Granger, Jason Kapono, Rashard Lewis, Roger Mason.

Slam Dunk Contest
Dwight Howard, Rudy Fernandez, Nate Robinson, J. R. Smith.

I just think Harris is quicker, but I don't really have a read on that one. Big guys usually win the Three Point Contest and Kapono is the best shooting forward on the list. You know my man Nate is gonna do it again. Forget Howard and his fake ass throw it in the basket junk. The guy is so tall he can place the ball in, he shouldn't even be in the contest.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two For Tanzania

Tanzania is a federation of mainland Tanzania, known as Tanganyika during colonialism, and the islands of Zanzibar. In order to coax Zanzibar into the federation and to keep the islands as part of Tanzania, the country possesses two governments. One is a Zanzibari government and the other is a Union government. It might seem as if this system favors Zanzibar, but the population on the islands is a scant fraction of that on the mainland, so Zanzibaris have little say in the Union government. Originally, during the last throes of the independence movement, there was hope for a federation that also would have also included Kenya and Uganda- the reasons for its failure will not be discussed here.

The predominant political party on the mainland aimed at liberation was TANU, led by Julius Nyerere. Nyerere eventually became the president of a federated Tanzania and TANU oversaw a one-party state until the 1990s. In 1967, Nyerere issued the Arusha Declaration, which declared that Tanzania was a socialist nation. Nyerere stepped down as president and peacefully transferred power to Ali Hassan Mwinyi in 1985.

Zanzibar's history is interestingly distinct from that of the mainland. Unlike the religious pluralism of the mainland, Zanzibar is almost completely Muslim. The islands had a powerful Arab minority represented by a coalition of the ZNP (Zanzibar Nationalist Party) and the ZPPP (Zanzibar and Pemba People's Party). Before British colonialism, Zanzibar was part of the Omani Sultanate. Black Africans divided themselves into two groups, mainlanders, which represented a minority of the black population in Zanzibar and another groups known as Shirazis. Shirazis adopted a Persian ethno-history to create a distinction between themselves and Africans who arrived on the islands more recently. Together, they formed the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP), which ruled Zanzibar following the Zanzibari Revolution in 1964. When Zanzibar gained independence, the British turned over the territory to Arabs, to the resentment of the Africans.

In 1977, TANU and ASP merged to create Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which has ruled both governments ever since. The brief history of Tanzanian multi-party politics consists of CCM domination. It's most significant competition for its position in the Union government occurred in the election 0f 1995, when NCCR-Mageuzi mustered a respectable showing, despite the proliferation of numerous opposition parties. But the party lost nearly all of its support due to personality clashes. Now, the main opposition party is the CUF (Civic United Front). Since the onset of multi-party democracy, CUF has given CCM a significant challenge in Zanzibari elections.

The president of Tanzania is Jakaya Kikwete of the CCM, who was elected to his first term in 2005. He recently finished a term as the head of the African Union. (International Affairs Edition)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Day

Today I learned that three of my top fantasy basketball players are out for the season. Jameer Nelson, Elton Brand, and Al Jefferson have all played their last game this season most likely. They are my top two picks in the draft and my top guard. I was on the cusp of the playoffs, but now...

I left for work early because I had to go to the bank first. The Baltimore beltway was jam packed, so I was late. I get paid per hour, so that's bad. Particularly because I lost one source of income this week for the time being. Every time I changed to lane that was zooming by, the lane would stop short and the lane I used to be in would take off. It happened to a comical degree.

My time at work was filled with smart ass kids making fun of me. I have feelings too! I am a man. I feel. I bleed. I pass gas at inopportune times. I'm human.

Either I did something really bad and I'm paying for it or I'm in store for something really good. I think we all know which it is.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Evil Leaders League, Week 3

Sometimes, when I'm alone in my car, I get a strange feeling. It's the ghost of Idi Amin nibbling on my thigh. Let's get the results for Week 3. The official Evil Leaders League site is here.

Kim vs Shwe
Kim Jong-Il has run North Korea since Uncle Jessie was tucking Michelle in at night, Screetch was being stuffed in lockers, and Roseanne had her old face. Kim is preparing to test some more weapons as tensions with South Korea continue to rise. South Korean conservative president Lee Myung-Bak has refused to grant aid to the North, which has made Kim very angry, causing him to break out in hives and test nuclear weapons- it's a rare disease. Than Shwe, the head honcho of Burma and the chief in charge of Myanmar, is ignoring the United Nations. That's not evil, that's George W. Bush-like. Than Shwe and George W. Bush are pretty similar if you think about it. Both did coke in college.

To view the winners of each contest, go to the official ELL site.

Khamenei vs Nazarbayev
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the Supreme Leader of Iran. I just read a summary about Iran's government structure and strange phrases appeared such as: checks and balances, presidential elections, and consensus-building. No where did I read about al Qaeda, nuclear weapons, or the Ayatollah's difficulties with flatulence. Needless to say, I was very confused. Could my entire impression of Iran have been wrong all along? Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton told me that Iran was a dangerous theocracy hell-bent on killing us all. I didn't see the word hell-bent anywhere in the summary! I hate when reality shakes my world view.

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev (SPOILER ALERT) is probably not long for this competition largely because he has too many letters in his name and it's a real pain in the ass to type it repeatedly week in and week out. Sorry Kazakhs, but get rid of this bum and install a new dictator with a shorter name and we'll talk. For now, Nazarbayev signed a law that will require at least two parties in parliament at all times. Did he make the change because I said he thinks the D in AIDS stands for democracy? Almost certainly. While it sounds like good news for the Kazakh people, keep in mind that the next election isn't until 2012. Also, Iran already has more than one party in its parliament, so...

Bongo vs al-Assad
Omar Bongo of Gabon has been playing the blues of late. He's gone to Morocco to be with his sick wife. That's not particularly evil. Bongo is even more of a mensch than you realize. He took his wife on a memorable trip to Paris courtesy of the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner. Kouchner arranged a backstage tour of the Eiffel Tower and he even set up a romantic dinner for the lovely couple in a Parisian jail where they were allowed to whip inmates by candle light. Kouchner just wanted to the Bongos to feel at home.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spent yesterday morning looking at himself in the mirror as he combed his pubescent mustache, pondering which Lebanese political leader to kill next and how to criticize Israel so he doesn't seem like a sell-out while not pissing them off so his country isn't blown apart like a Lebanese political leader. When al-Assad finished combing his mustache three hours later, he started the laborious chore of parting his hair and deciding which tone to take with Egypt and the U.S.

Chavez vs al-Bashir
Protests rang out all over Venezuela against President Hugo Chavez's proposal of unlimited terms. People think it's just a way for Chavez to stay in power for life. Chavez has asked his citizens not to look ahead, noting that "the present is a gift. That's why it's called the present." Protestors told Chavez to keep his present and go fuck a picture of Pinochet. Omar al-Bashir, despite the best efforts of the ELL, still leads Sudan. Darfuri rebels still distrust the Sudanese government heading into peace talks between the two sides. See what a little genocide can do to a friendship? Honestly, the rebels should get over it. There are going to be tough times in this life and sometimes those tough times will include mass murder, torture, rape, and systematic starvation. When life gives you lemons...

standings: Check the ELL site

Monday, February 09, 2009

Me and Mary J

"Oh my god! Ms. Blige, it's so wonderful to meet you! Oh my, oh my! I'm such a casual fan."
"Huh? Oh, thanks."
"Ms. Blige, can I ask you something?"
"Uh, yeah, sure."
I get down on one knee. "Will you marry me?"

And there went another potential life of happiness.

I don't know why Mary J doesn't see what I see. I'm all she needs and if we were together, there would be no more drama. So, what's the 411? Do you see what I did there? I took the titles of some of her work and incorporated it into describing our possible relationship. Very original, you have to admit.

Mary J sings beautifully and looks even better. She has lots of money. I have none of these things. I just don't see why it won't work. We compliment each other so well! Life is very unfair.

Oh well. I guess it's time to drown myself in sorrow and Slurpees once more.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Whether For or Against

Since independence over 100 years ago, Cuba's existence has been destructively linked to the United States. During the drive to independence, the revolutionary writer José Martí warned his country against simply exchanging Spanish colonialism for American imperialism. Martí's words have proved prophetic.

From independence until the Revolution, Cuba was ruled by corrupt dictators who had the full support of the United States. Fulgencio Batista had two reigns as the de facto ruler of the island nation and stripped the country of what amounted to millions of its dollars. Bastista formed a coalition with American mobsters to turn Cuba into a sordid tourist paradise. Bastista's actions ultimately hurt his country for numerous reasons, not least because the highest position a citizen could hope to achieve included either working in Bastista's crooked regime or for American gangsters. The system of rewards was skewed to a devastating degree for Cuba.

After Fidel Castro overthrew Batista in 1959, Cuba held the opposite position with regards to the United States. Cuba stormed out from under the grip of the United States and took a firm stance against its neighbor to the north. But every policy put forth by Castro was meant as an anti-imperialist gesture against the United States. This frame of mind also had a destructive impact on the island. Castro's revolution had the misfortune of occurring during the polarizing times of the Cold War, which provided the political circumstances to oppose the U.S. to such a strong degree. It is not accurate to say that the era forced Castro to choose sides- an ever-strengthening coalition of non-aligned developing nations persisted throughout the period- it simply enabled him to take a hard stance against the United States. Policies such as the campaign to produce 10 million tons of sugar in 1969-70, which ultimately destroyed the Cuban economy, were attempts to embarrass the United States, even if they rarely had Cuba's best interests at heart.

Cuba and the United States need to find a balance between a relationship based on subjugation and one of extreme antagonism. Cuba's unique culture and potential cannot thrive given the pervasiveness of the United States in Cuba's decision making, regardless of the nature of their relationship over the last century. (International Affairs Edition)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

My Nation

I have dabbled with the concept of becoming the unchallenged ruler of a country before on this blog (and in my head). Pretend, if you will, that I am the leader of a country in which you are a citizen. From time to time, like a good egotistical autocrat should, I will announce decrees based on my particular mood. Stay tuned and enjoy.

Today's decrees
If you're anything like me, no pretty girls like you. And if you're not like me, then no pretty girls like you either because that is now banned. For the sake of fairness and equality, pretty girls are not allowed to like anybody. (I guess that's not really fair to pretty girls, but hey, this is a patriarchal society, don't blame me.)

(If you know me, you could have predicted this one.) College basketball players may (hereby) only declare for the NBA draft early if they obtain permission from me. This will be known as the Scotty Thurman Law.

Marx said that religion is the opium of the masses (and since this is the Marxist phase of my rule) to hammer home that point, all places of worship are required to provide their followers with free heroin and poppy seed bagels. However (because I'm still not sold on this whole Marxist thing), all places of worship are allowed to charge their followers for a shmeer of cream cheese and lox.

Friday, February 06, 2009

2008-2009 All H-duk Team

This is the thirteenth annual NFL All-H-duk Team. The numbers beside the names indicates how many times that player has made the team. If there is no number, this is their first selection. A * indicates that the player was on my fantasy team.

Head Coach: Atl- Mike Smith

Quarterbacks: Ind- Peyton Manning 8th; NO- Drew Brees 2nd; Phi- Donovan McNabb 3rd.

Running Backs: Atl- Michael Turner*; Min- Adrian Peterson 2nd; Was- Clinton Portis.

Fullbacks: NYG- Madison Hedgecock 2nd; Bal- LaRon McLain.

Wide Receivers: Ari- Larry Fitzgerald; Hou- Andre Johnson; Bal- Derrick Mason; Ind- Reggie Wayne 2nd.

Tight Ends: Dal- Jason Witten 2nd; Tony Gonzalez 6th.

Offensive Line: KC- Damion McIntosh; NYG- Chris Snee; Ten- Kevin Mawae 4th; Buf- Jason Peters; Min- Steve Hutchinson 3rd.

Defensive Line: Ten- Albert Haynesworth; Min- Jared Allen 2nd; NYJ- Kris Jenkins 2nd; Car- Julius Peppers 4th.

Linebackers: Pit- James Harrison 2nd; Dal- Demarcus Ware 2nd; Bal- Terrell Suggs; Ari- Karlos Dansby.

Secondary: Pit- Troy Polamalu 3rd; Bal- Ed Reed 3rd; Ten- Cortland Finnegan; Phi- Asante Samuel 2nd.

Kicker: Ten- Rod Bironas

Punter: Phi- Sav Rocca

Kick and Punt Returner: SD- Darren Sproles

Special Teams Cover Men: Chi- Alex Brown 2nd; Atl- Jason Snelling.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Letter From the President

The president of Goucher College sent a letter about the recent controversy involving the hiring and subsequent suspension of a professor suspected of contributing to the Rwandan genocide.

The funniest thing about the president's letter is that he says they brought the professor in "under the auspices of the Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF), a program that provides fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries." I guess the president never thought that maybe the reason WHY the professor was threatened in his home country was because HE COMMITTED GENOCIDE THERE!

Goucher really dropped the ball on this one. I mean, how many genocidal war criminals are there in the world? Maybe 100 or so? It seems like the odds of avoiding the hiring of a genocidal war criminal as your new French professor would be pretty good. In fact, the odds of actually dying in a genocide are much higher.

I heard Goucher is looking to hire a new chemistry professor, Dr. Joseph Mengele. He fits right in with their new political science professor, Slobodan Milosevic and the new director of Culinary Arts, Idi Amin. At least those three are dead.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Suspended for Genocide

Goucher College recently suspended a French professor, Leopold Munyakazi, for allegedly partaking in the Rwandan genocide. Ideally, that is not what this grandson of Holocaust survivors had in mind for my alma mater. I guess it's not as offensive as if I had been from Rwanda and if my grandparents didn't survive the genocide or if Dr. Munyakazi was a 100 year old German Nazi-sympathizer who speaks impeccable French. I guess those things would be slightly more offensive.

Clearly, there is a problem with Goucher's interviewing process. The end of the interview should have gone as such: "Well Dr. Munyakazi, your credentials are in order, everything looks great. You speak French beautifully. One last thing, have you have been charged with genocide?" Or perhaps, the question should have been more subtle: "Dr. Munyakazi, do you have any skeletons in your closet you'd like to reveal? I mean, literally do you have any skeletons of Tutsis or moderate Hutus in your closet right now?" Then you would have avoided this embarrassment. But the school never listens to its students.

I always suspected some of the professors at Goucher of murder and possibly rape, but not genocide. I’m shocked.

A few years ago the president of Harvard said that women were biologically stupider than men in math and science. He is now Obama's Director of the National Economic Council. According to that logic, the president of Goucher is headed for a big promotion. Secretary General of the UN might be in the cards! At the very least, he's done what he set out to do; he's put Goucher on the map. People know us now.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Petraeus at the Super Bowl

Something felt wrong in my soul when General David Petraeus scampered onto the field during the Super Bowl's coin toss proceedings. Only later did it occur to me. No, I wasn't upset that he was being celebrated for killing invisible people of color in far off lands for the fictitious justification of freedom. Ok, I was; but that wasn't the whole story.

The contradiction between the increase in specialization in football and Petraeus' job is what struck me most. Petraeus is the head of U.S. Central Command, which puts him in charge of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some NFL teams have a punter, a kicker for field goals, and a kicker for kickoffs. You have third down backs, pass-rushing linebackers, nickel and dime defense backs, and people who all they do is snap the ball on field goal attempts and punts. But when it comes to two wars, we got one guy.

The conditions, cultures, peoples, histories, and circumstances are profoundly different in Iraq and Afghanistan. The battle to be fought is different. The way the United States needs to relate to the people in the two countries is different. Afghanistan hasn't been occupied by a foreign force for a few thousand years. The country has fallen victim to an invasion, a civil war, and now another invasion in the last thirty years. The country's infrastructure is practically nil. The U.S. overthrew a religiously Sunni fundamentalist regime. After overcoming British colonialism, Iraq eventually saw a secular strongman take over the well-developed nation. Iraq featured a burgeoning middle class and a predominately Shiite population. Afghanistan has many different ethnic groups, but the largest are the Pashtuns. Iraqis are mostly Arab.

If there was ever a time for specialization it should be in dealing with the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And let's let one guy do all a team's kicking in the NFL. (International Affairs Edition)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Recap

Larry Fitzgerald catches the ball in the middle of the field and darts through the befuddled Steelers secondary. Fitzgerald has just caught an improbable touchdown pass from the arm of his 37-year old quarterback, Kurt Warner. With fewer than two minutes left in the season, Fitzgerald's majestic score has put the Cardinals ahead for the first time, by the score of 23-20.

Ben Roethlisberger walks onto the field knowing that he has the chance to cement his legacy in the annals of NFL lore with a touchdown drive or be forced to deal with the unending pain of coming so close to the sport's ultimate prize only to fall short. After moving the ball slowly but effectively, Roethlisberger scampers for a first down using his feet. With 1:01 left, Head Coach Mike Tomlin wisely calls a timeout. One play later, Roethlisberger throws the ball to Santonio Holmes which puts the Steelers in field goal range with 48 seconds left.
A play later I run to the stairs and scream up to my mother, "You might wanna watch this. The Super Bowl is coming down to the last play." Before she could come down, Roethlisberger drops back and fires a perfect pass into the poetically placed hands of Holmes; his toes painted on the blades of the end zone. It was a play for the ages and the winning touchdown. Warner tried in vain to mount one last drive, but a borderline fumble that went against the Cards ended their chances.

It was an exciting game, even if it wasn't well played. The mass of penalties highlights that claim. The Cardinals had Kurt Warner rolling and moving in the first half which turned out predictably to be ineffective. The Steelers should have gone for the touchdown on 4th down from the 1 inch line on their first drive and it almost cost them the championship. If you can't score from 1 inch out, you don't deserve the championship. Conversely, if you don't make it and your defense can't prevent a 100 yard touchdown drive, you don't deserve the title either.
The play that helped to render that poor decision moot occured at the end of the first half. Arizona had recently scored to cut the Steeler lead to 10-7. The Cards drove to the red zone to at least tie the game if not take the lead heading into halftime. Warner dropped back looking for Anquan Boldin but never saw the usually-blitzing James Harrison, who had dropped back into coverage. Harrison picked the pass and what happened next will go down in Super Bowl history. He rumbled down the field, hurling over opponents, his heart dragging him to the promised land where he stumbled passed the goal line for a 17-7 advantage at the break.
Tying up some loose ends: Santonio Holmes was the MVP- Roethlisberger and Harrison were also contenders. After Fitzgerald's first TD, I said (to no one), "He Tyreed it." Then five minutes later, John Madden made the David Tyree catching the football on his helmet reference on national television and my witty comment became irrelevant. James Harrison was called for a personal foul that Al Michaels deemed to be a big penalty, even though it only cost Pittsburgh 1 yard. That possession, Nick Hartwig was called for a stupid hold in the end zone, resulting in a safety, but it was 6 yards behind the goal line. The personal foul call against Karlos Dansby was wrong. This Super Bowl was reminiscent of Super Bowls XIV and XXIII. I did not watch the halftime show.

My favorite commercial, besides all of those misogynist or unnecessarily violent ones, was the one where the guy asks for a girl's number, calls her, goes on a date, and brings his parents to meet her within 30 seconds. That was humorous.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Preview

Pittsburgh Steelers 14-4 vs Arizona Cardinals 12-7

This is one of those games that could very well be an extremely intriguing matchup... or a snooze fest. It is a matchup of the league's best defense, Pittsburgh, against the NFL's most exciting offense, the Cardinals. The Steelers defense doesn't have a significant weakness. Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison anchors an incredible linebacking core. The defensive line is massively underrated. The secondary is the weak spot of the defense like a jump shot is LeBron James' weakness. That is to say, it would be the strongest part of the team for most. Troy Polamalu is a safety who will take risks that often lead to meaningful rewards.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will have his work cut out for him stopping the Cardinals offense. Arizona has a rather poor running game. They are one of the worst short yardage running teams. Their passing game does not feature a ton of options. However, the Cardinals have three pretty important players. Wideout Anquan Boldin is a guy who consistently puts up numbers. But he has been over-shadowed by the other two. Kurt Warner is extremely accurate with the deep ball and that compliments his veteran experience nicely. He is not likely to instigate unforced turnovers. The Steelers will have to earn their takeaways. Warner holds the record for the most and second most passing yards in a Super Bowl. He has a pretty nice target to throw to, opposite Boldin. Larry Fitzgerald has made a believer out of me. This guy is awe-inspiring. The Carolina Panthers put the whole team on him, not just all 11 defenders, but all 53 active players, and he still scored 14 touchdowns! Ok, that's a bit of hyperbole, but not by much.
The big question is whether or not Pittsburgh's intricate blitzing scheme will get to Warner in time. If they decide not to blitz, I believe they will be dead ducks. Warner is so accurate and Fitzgerald is so tall and athletic, that the Steelers would be in trouble. Philadelphia is a blitzing team, who had mixed success in the NFC championship game. The Cards put up points early, but the Eagles eventually settled down. The Steelers cannot afford to give up too many early points because they do not have the passing game that the Eagles had.
Arizona's defense was a non-entity during the regular season. They have mostly played well during their three playoff contests. Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers quarterback playing in his second Super Bowl, should be rested, healthy, and in store for a pretty nice game. He has more options than Warner to throw to. He also has a better running game, including a rested Willie Parker, who holds the record for the longest run in a Super Bowl. If the Steelers can control the ball with Parker and Mwelde Moore, which will keep Warner and Fitzgerald off the field, they should come away with their sixth Super Bowl championship.
I believe the Steelers will win 24-16. James Harrison will be the MVP. The Cards will lose their first ever Super Bowl and the Steelers will improve on their 5-1 franchise record. Bruce Springsteen is cool and everything, but I will still not watch the halftime show.