Doppelgängers ?

Geraldo Rivera of Fox News(left) and Argentina’s World Cup 2010 Soccer coach Diego Armando
Maradona (right) , separated at birth?
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McChrystal the McStupid, McFired, McSurprise!

Gen. Petraeus, left:Gen.  McChrystal, right

Maybe General McChrystal wanted his two seconds of fame; he was certainly not making much headway in Afghanistan. In an interview with the Rolling Stone magazine (to be sold this Friday June 25, 2010), he made inflammatory statements about President Obama and some of his key administration officials.  It is inconceivable that an experienced, 55 year-old  General no less, is unaware of the consequences of such an interview. Or did lack of insubordination in his own military ’empire’ lead to delusions of grandeur?

He is out.  General Petraeus replaces him.

Read the entire interview to be featured in Rolling Stone magazine here.

Electronic Odysseus

“PHOTOS on an underwater camera that washed up on a beach in Florida have revealed it’s epic ocean journey and also led investigators to its owner.

The waterproof plastic case of the Nikon camera was covered with six months’ worth of crusty sea growth, but the camera itself was almost pristine when it was found in May.” (Washed up camera almost pristine June 17th, 2010)

The camera had traveled more than a thousand miles from Aruba,  with a sea turtle for company for a while. Note the term “pristine”.  All we need now is for Nikon to make cellphones.  Four of my cellphones have been victims of “death by drowning”. They’ve been laundry accidents and that couldn’t have been worse than an ocean voyage!

Part of the camera’s voyage was captured by this sea turtle, which turned it on with its flapping fin.  Smart turtle! Wanted to bore its relatives with home videos, no doubt.  A captive audience while they are laying eggs on a beach somewhere.

Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E43sg-Ytt58 to see what the camera captured.

Right Wing Manifesto?

I read something on “The Daily Beast” (June 14, 2010), which I simply must share verbatim ac litteratim. Among the comments to an article on  Al Gore’s silence on the BP oil spill issue was  this  right wing “manifesto” as seen by the reader.  Desertpenguin writes:

Right-wing power points defined:
1) The right-wing defines itself by its enemies.
2) It’s more important to have enemies than friends.
3) Make enemies wherever and whenever possible so you can have someone or something to fight against.
4) Don’t bother with solutions, just attack.
5) If asked for a solution, change the subject.
6) If asked for a solution, give a simple reply to complex problem.
7) If asked for a solution, reply emotionally, not rationally.
8) Only offer solutions that benefit yourself.
9) Lie.
10) If you don’t like someone, attack them.
11) If someone makes a mistake, attack them.
12) If someone makes a mistake and apologizes, attack them.
13) If someone disagrees with you, attack them.
14) If someone who disagrees with you is factually correct, attack them.
15) The only reason to unite people is to attack others.
16) If you’re not correct, don’t admit it.
17) If you’re not correct, minimize, belittle, and criticize others.
18) The most important goal in any situation is winning.
19) Use every opportunity to win.
20) Rationalize everything in order to win.
21) It’s not enough to win; everyone else has to lose.
22) Never be honest, trustworthy, or respectful, unless it benefits yourself.
23) Use distortion, disinformation, and name-calling to attack others. Repeat endlessly.
24) Don’t ask others for their opinion.
25) Don’t consult with other on matters you’re not familiar with.
26) Argue, don’t converse.
27) Regard all situations as us versus them.
28) Regard all situations as black or white.
29) Attack anyone who doesn’t see all situations as black or white.
30) Be fearful, angry, bitter, resentful, cynical, paranoid, untrusting, and unloving. Insist this behavior is the correct way to act.
31) Use religion as a means of attack.
32) Hurt others when given the opportunity.
33) Accuse others when you feel guilty about your behavior.
34) Voluntarily associate only with people like yourself.
35) Intentionally avoid anyone who looks, thinks, or acts different from yourself.
36) If you can’t avoid anyone who looks, thinks, or acts different from yourself, attack, belittle, or marginalize them.
37) Always generalize about the appearance and behavior of others you’re not familiar with.
38) Think of groups of people as enemies, not as individuals.
39) Never admit that your enemies are actually people with the same wants and needs as you.
40) Always demonize your enemies.
41) Always blame others.
42) Never trust others unless it benefits yourself.
43) Never agree with others unless it benefits yourself.
44) If others confront you with the truth, deny it.
45) Refuse to be patient and never admit to understanding your enemies point of view.
46) Never admit to any inappropriate behavior.
47) Never admit to having any character defects.
48) Always claim to have appropriate vaules even when talking, acting, or posting inappropriately.
49) Always use forums to express yourself in a negative manner.
50) Only take responsibility if it benefits yourself.
51) Take responsibility for results you had no part in.
52) Never waste an opportunity to act superior.

I was amazed at his perspicacity.

And the Fan Band Played On….

I was watching the 2010 World Cup soccer  match between Germany and Australia on television and was terribly distracted by this buzzing noise, like some 10, 000 bees.  I had to mute the set, turn on closed captioning and suffer a time delay in the commentary.  I had begun to think the noise was in my head.  I couldn’t see any organized kazoo blowing among the spectators, but turns out I was not looking for vuvuzelas. The vuvuzela , which is made to replicate the call of an elephant, comes across as a drone on television. In real life, though, the noise reaches 144 decibels, equivalent to the sound made by a passenger jet.

Because the vuvuzelas create a wall of sound,  there has been little of the usual chanting, singing and roaring that are a staple of soccer games everywhere else in the world.  TV viewers are getting increasingly annoyed and want them banned.  However,  FIFA President Sepp Blatter refuses to play ball, so to speak.  “I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound,” Blatter said in a Twitter post. “I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country.”  So that’s that.

Fans in South Africa seem to be having a great time! Everybody here has the vuvu.

Today, the street — tomorrow, the world.

Learned to bicycle three weeks ago, in my 49th year.  Of all my accomplishments (am not telling), that’s the one I am proudest of.  I felt cheated somehow, that no one bothered to teach me before.  Before Malini, that is.  She came armed with knee guards, elbow guards and wrist guards.  And I borrowed Mukunda’s helmet.  Malini held the bike, ran alongside me, and what did I do?  I ran over her foot a couple of times.  I decided then to learn quickly, to avoid further accidents.  The hardest thing about cycling is not to zig-zag.  I need the entire width of the street to myself.  I still cannot stop wobbling or make turns. I had one major fall a week ago when I took my right hand off the handlebar to scratch my nose.  The bicycle careened to the left and I fell quite comprehensively in an undignified heap in the middle of the street.  This morning I had to share the street with a man walking a dog towards me.  I came to a stop 10 yards away and waited for him to pass by which took about 15 minutes because the dog was curious and stopped to look at my ankles.  The man gave me a strange look, so I had to explain to him that I was a new cyclist.  He understood the entire situation instantly, gave me some advice about the brakes and moved on leaving the street free and clear once more.

Kowloon Walled City

The Kowloon Walled City park  is a beautiful, green, serene park with waterfalls and fountains right at the edge of Hong Kong city, China.  It is difficult to imagine that  the park was once this.
This is an aerial view of the Kowloon Walled City before its demolition in 1993.  A pulsating, vibrant community, in a no-man’s land  governed neither by the Chinese nor the British, it grew cancerous and had to be destroyed.  It boasted a chequered history.  Originally, it was a fortress built by the Chinese as a military outpost.  For many years soldiers and their families lived within the walled city and civilians set up businesses to serve them.  The soldiers  abandoned  the fortress when the British occupied Hong Kong, but the civilians continued their life there .  The Japanese conquered the territory in World War II, and they broke down the walls of the fortress to extend their airstrips.  When they left in 1945 at the end of the war, squatters occupied the area and the city grew even more rapidly.
Refugees from the Communist China settled here, so did Hong Kong’s organized crime syndicate, the  Triads. ”Driven from mainland China, the Triads set up shop and start living like kings, while Hong Kong’s upper crust comes in for the sex, drugs and gambling.” says Coilhouse Magazine + Blog  Over time, 500 buildings of uniform height, each 12 to 14 stories high, were built on an area approximately 200m X 150m so close together that no light could penetrate the city. Its nickname was Hak Nam–the City of Darkness and it was home to over 35,000 inhabitants making it one of the most densely populated places in the world.
 “The health authorities kept away. So the City just developed its own legion of ad-hoc clinics and dental surgeons. In the absence of telephone and utilities companies, the City’s inhabitants just by-wired their own electricity and connections. The same nick-it-yourself approach applied to plumbing and water. As a result, a tangled network of pipes and wiring dripped and hissed above the city’s dark, dank walkways. Cheap amenities for the residents, and, considering the extremely limited access, either in or out of the compound — a potentially catastrophic fire-hazard. ” (Darran Anderson, FLOTSAM & JETSAM, 5/19/2009)
Before the walled city was demolished, photographers and journalists were allowed to wander in it freely and these pictures taken by Greg Girard and Ian Lambot are the reason for this post. For more  pictures of the daily life in this city visit the website http://www.architonic.com/ntsht/-harmonious-anarchy-revisiting-hak-nam-hong-kong-s-slum-city/7000463