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Thursday, February 21, 2008

No Shame, But Plenty of Blame

Were you surprised that Serb mobs stormed the US embassy in Belgrade? I wasn't. Dismayed, sure, but surprised? Nah...

I'm not surprised that Serbs feel so strongly about Kosovo. I understand that, and understand why. I'm also not surprised that the Serbs are blaming the West (specifically the United States) for Kosovo's actions. In the Serbian mythos, they invented Western Civilization and anything bad that happens in it is someone else's fault. You know, classic scapegoating.

The US didn't cause the problems in Kosovo and it wouldn't even be fair to say we exacerbated them. If anything, we've kept things from getting worse. If we hadn't brought Milosevic to his knees, that war may still be going on now. As far as recognizing an independent Kosovo, we had to. It was a no-win situation. Support the Serbs, who we were at war with 10 years ago, or support the Kosovars, whose asses we saved from certain doom.

This is where the Serbs need to look inward. It's their own government's actions that led to this Kosovo business.

The flames of the Yugoslav wars were first stoked in Kosovo by Milosevic himself in 1987 when he sided with a Serb mob against the police of Kosovo Polje. In their book Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation, Laura Silber and Allan Little describe the scene like this:
Apparently shaken by the screaming outside, Milosevic said he wanted to see what was happening. He watched the crowd from the balcony before going downstairs to give what was to become one of the most important speeches of his career. "No one should dare to beat you," he bellowed, unwittingly coining a modern Serb rallying call. The mood suddenly changed, the crowd outside started chanting: "Slobo, Slobo."
No one should dare to beat you. By you, he meant the Kosovo Serbs, and by singling them out above all others, he broke one of Yugoslavia's biggest taboos: picking sides.

From the end of World War II until his death, Josip Broz Tito brutally crushed all ethnic tensions before they could erupt, officially adopting a policy of "Brotherhood and Unity" in which there were no minorities and all ethnicities worked and lived together in harmony. This was maintained throughout his multi-decade rule by not picking sides. Serb, Croat, Muslim, it didn't matter. Ethnic nationalism had no place in Yugoslavia.

Until Milosevic's speech. Then ethnic nationalism took over and well...we know what happened then.

War.

In less than a decade, Slobodan Milosevic led Serbia into four wars and the Serbs loved it. Until it started to ruin their economy, their reputation, and their country.

So if they're mad about Kosovo's independence, instead of burning the American embassy, maybe they should storm their own capital instead.

Debate Impressions

Just finished half-assedly watching the debate and didn't see anything that changed my mind.

A couple impressions:

A) I'm glad Hillary's lame-ass "plagiarism" attack fell flat on its face. The "Change you can Xerox" line was as canned and prepared as Spaghettios. I have no evidence of this, but I'm pretty sure that she didn't come up with that line all on her own. Maybe someone on her campaign wrote it...

In which case, what's she mad about? Obama's people are writing better stuff and her own people can only come up with stuff that gets her candidate booed?

B) When Hillary was talking about wounded veterans, she started choking up. I thought for sure that we were going to see tears, like when she said she just cares...so...much...

But she kept it together. Probably a smart move on her part. She doesn't want the chauvinists to claim she's too weepy to be president. I won't say that, because I'm a pretty weepy dude myself --I cried during The Golden Compass, remember?-- but I will say that I kind of wished those tears did fall.

It would have been curtains for her candidacy at that point. Not because she's a nancy girl, but because she can't stop herself from trying to manipulate the public with naked appeals to emotion.

I think we should discourage those shenanigans from our leaders as much as possible.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Murder in Whiteyville

When I heard about three people getting shot and killed down in Whiteyville, I couldn't believe it. In fricking Whiteyville? What, simultaneous gun-cleaning accident?

Picnics happen down in Parker. Not triple-homicides.

But alas, it was a murder-suicide.

And you know there's nothing whiter than a murder-suicide...

Ha!

Overheard At Work

"Here's a bag of dicks. Go suck on 'em."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On A Roll

Obama takes Wisconsin...Yay. Here's hoping he gets Washington and Hawaii, too.

Now for Ohio and Texas....

I did notice an interesting contrast between candidates Clinton and Obama.

Here's an excerpt from a speech Obama made tonight:
"The change we seek is still months and miles away," Obama said Tuesday night in Houston, Texas.

"It is going to take more than big rallies. It is going to require more than rousing speeches ... it is going to require something more because the problem that we face in America today is not the lack of good ideas. It's that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die," he said.
Whether you agree with what he's saying or not, surely you must agree that he's saying something and that it at least makes sense.

But read this from Clinton's speech:
"I want to talk to you about the choice you have in this election and why that choice matters. It is about picking a president who relies not just on words but on work -- on hard work to get America back to work," Clinton said in Youngstown, Ohio. Video Watch Clinton talk about solutions »

"We can't just have speeches. We've got to have solutions and we need those solutions for America. We've got to get America back in the solutions business."
You will be forgiven if your first impression of that is "What the fuck?"

Lots of talk about "work" and "solutions," but those words are all buzz with no meaning. In short, a bunch of nonsense.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Truth in Advertising

One last post before I shut it down for the night...

When I awoke this morning to discover that Lindsey had finally -- finally -- showed some skin, I was quite happy. Not because I've been waiting with bated breath for Lindsey to disrobe, but because it wasn't a paparazzi nipple-slip or missing-panties shot. These pics could be in Playboy, professional photo-shopped art prints almost.

I have to say that my respect level for Lindsey skyrocketed immediately. We're talking a moonshot going from zero to mach 3 in the flash of a boob.

Why? Because it shows me that Lindsey isn't like all the others. She doesn't just want to play a sex symbol on TV. She wants to actually be one.

I mean, what is Britney Spears but a stripper that doesn't strip? And she wants, what exactly? Fame and fortune? Maybe for the "singing" stuff and her attempts at acting, but do we usually give out fame and fortune to strippers that don't strip? Um, no.

Stripping is a tease in and of itself. You can look, but you can't touch. I'll take off my clothes for you, but I won't have sex with you. That's the tease. You add another layer of tease to it and it just becomes annoying.

Yes, I see you Britney in that little school girl skirt, your little red jumpsuit, that skin-tight skin-colored outfit with your ripped little body and that snake, straight out of a burlesque act (only no pasties here fellas...this is music...or something). And all those recent pictures of you strung out and half-mad, no bra and nipples rearing out, missing your underwear or wearing nothing but.

See, Brit, you wanted to ride sex all the way to the top, but you never wanted to truly put out. Neither did Paris, but at least she was a porn star in private. Can't do it in public...oh no. At least not all the way. At least not for real. She'll wear the skimpy dresses and the tiny bathing suits and the lingerie...but Paris go all the way?

Only on her cameraphone.

So kudos Lindsey. You got balls, and I like that.

Going Negative

Oh....My....God.

Apparently I'm supposed to vote for Hillary because Obama uses cliches in his speeches is a plagiarist.

Please.....

This kind of crap is exactly why I haven't been paying attention to the campaign lately. Is Hillary working with Karl Rove now or what?
Hillary: Karl, I need your help.
Karl: Okay, what do you need?
Hillary: Obama is all over my ass, eating into my support.
Karl: So hit him where he's strong.
Hillary: What do you mean?
Karl: He gives great spine-tingling speeches, right? So claim he's stealing them from someone. I mean, it doesn't really matter if he is or not...you know there's some idiot out there who is not only going to believe it, but who wants to believe it. So give the people what they want...
Sorry, Clinton Campaign...I'm not falling for it.

Maybe instead of trying to convince us that Obama should NOT be president, Hillary could try and convince us why she should be. So far, I'm not finding the "I'm married to the last president" and "I have a vagina" arguments too convincing...

As for being the candidate of change, well, that person doesn't use Karl Rove tactics. Right, Barack?

Jack Sparrow Ain't Got Nothing On Me

I saw this graph from the Wege about a trip he made to Borders to spend a $50 gift certificate:

"Good stuff but three [3] music CDs — all single disks — cost me everything I had on the gift cards and three dollars. I suppose I should feel good about having paid for some music for a change, but that's bullshit. Had I "stolen" all three albums off the internet and then sent $2 apiece to those artists, both they and I would be way ahead."Which is probably true.

But what struck me was the "I suppose I should feel good" line. Why should you feel good? Because you subsidized a dysfunctional business? Because you "did the right thing" and bought the CDs instead of downloading them?

I've been struggling with a bit of downloader's guilt myself lately. Ever since I discovered Bittorrent, I've been on a downloading spree. On my hard drive as we speak are the first 4 seasons of The Wire, the first season of House, the complete Freaks and Geeks series and the first season of Dexter. I "stole" them all.

Or did I?

After all, I was an HBO subscriber when The Wire first broadcast. I didn't actually watch the show at that time, but I did pay my cable bill. So does that mean that my obligation as a paying customer has already been met? (After all, you pay HBO for a month of 24-7 programming, not just for the HBO programming you watch...)

As for House, the show was already broadcast over free TV, and if I had my TV on then, I would have been able to watch the show without having to pay a dime or suffer any kind of "stealer's guilt." If I had recorded it on my DVR, I could even watch it twice. (Interesting thing, that: copying the 1s and 0s from a satellite transmission to a DVR is all fine and dandy. No one's going to get sued for that. But don't even think about copying those same 1s and 0s to a hard drive over an IP connection...cuz that would be piracy.)

Downloader's guilt? Who needs it?

Bush a Move

I think Dubya is going to be my favorite ex-president. I don't think much of his politicking, but the guy is funny.
Of course, in some ways, this video is perhaps a microcosm of his presidency. He's pressed into doing something he doesn't really want to do, such as dancing or, say, governing. Not wanting to disappoint, he grudgingly complies, but since his heart isn't really into it, he does it badly.

Khaaan!

This stuff doesn't just happen in the ghetto.

A double homicide in my hometown -Thornton- about four blocks from where my brother and his family lives. "Thornton Police spokesperson Matt Barnes" was one of the cops at my high school.

And now...some entertainment.

For some reason, I've been bumping into a lot of Shatner lately. First I saw this, which is really horrible...
And then I saw this, which was fucking hilarious!

This one made me chuckle, too. Stuff White People Like Mos Def is number 69. I guess everyone likes Mos Def.

You know what white people really like? Indiana Jones.


This guy I work with says he'll assassinate anyone for $40,000 dollars. No, sorry, it's $45,000 now. Cost of living increase. He's a big time gun nut, so I have no doubt he has the means to do it. He's also a decent fellow though, so I doubt he would follow through any serious offers.

Of course, he might have priced himself out of the market.

And that's all I got.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Russia Don't Like It Neither

Maybe the Russians are onto something about this Kosovo thing...
Russia, which has veto power on the council, insists Kosovo is a Security Council issue — not an EU issue — and argues that Kosovo's move sets a dangerous precedent for separatist groups globally.
Emphasis mine.

Of course, if it was an EU issue, then Russia would be cut out of the loop. On the Security Council though, Russia's got juice.

I think Russia's fears for the Serb minority living in Kosovo are vastly unjustified --Massacring Serb villages would just lose the Kosovars the support of the US and the European states-- but this precedent thing has some weight to it.

Kosovo is not a colonial property, like the United States or India once was, nor is it a state in some larger republic, like the former Soviet republics or it's neighboring Balkan ones. That it became its own autonomous region within Serbia was a mistake made by a plate-juggling dictator.

Does that tradition of autonomy, perhaps granted unwillingly elsewhere in the world, by itself become legitimate grounds for independence?

Hmmm....

Kosovo Blues

I can't say I'm surprised that Kosovo declared their independence from Serbia. Countries have been declaring their independence from Serbia for the last 10-15 years, Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia in 91, Bosnia in 92, Montenegro (finally) in 06, and now Kosovo. Considering the hostilities of the late 90s and the difficulties of the UN's post-regnum mission, it seemed inevitable.

But I am still conflicted about it.

Unlike Croatia, Bosnia, and the others, Kosovo was never an official republic of the former Yugoslavia. It was one of two autonomous provinces (the other being Vojvodina) carved out of Serbia to reduce its domination among Yugoslavia's six republics. But, still, Kosovo remained part of Serbia.

To complicate matters, Kosovo is the closest thing the Serbs have to sacred ground (to see why, click here) but at the same time, only 1 in 10 Kosovars are ethnic Serbs. The other 90%? Mostly Albanians and other non-Slavic ethnicities.

So on the one hand, I can understand why Serbia wouldn't want to lose some of her territory (after all, Kosovo has been part of Serbia since medieval times), but on the other hand, I can also understand why the Albanian Kosovars don't want to be subject to Serbian rule, whose idea of how to treat ethnic minorities starts with "ethnic cleansing" and ends with genocide.

But I'm still not sure who is right and who is wrong...or even if these terms apply.

Does a country deserve to lose territory because it can't treat its minority with respect?

And does a minority get to declare their independence, erasing hundreds of years of territorial integrity?

At first glance, it seems easy. The Kosovars were at the sharp end of an attempted genocide, so it's only natural to have sympathy for their situation. But what if a similar situation was playing out in the United States?

Could I support, say, California's declaration of independence? *

I don't know.





* (I acknowledge that California's relationship to the United States is not an apt comparison to the Kosovo/Serbia issue. In fact, it's apples to oranges. Our multi-ethnic democracy bears little resemblance to Serbia's homogeneous socialist nightmare. However, if one is going to grant a minority the right to redraw national borders, one must recognize that it at least theoretically possible that it might happen here.)

Updated: Reading through this again, I realize that I might have been unintentionally confusing. First I say that 90% of Kosovars are ethnic Albanians, then I start referring to them as a "minority." Any idiot knows that 90% isn't a minority, James!

Ah, yes, but remember that Ethnic Albanians are simultaneously the majority in Kosovo and the minority in Serbia as a whole, which until recently included Kosovo. (I wanted to use the term "Greater Serbia" instead of "Serbia as a whole," but that has the same connotations as the German word Lebensraum. The ethnic cleansing of the 90s was just a means to that end.)