Opinions, Etc 4.21.04

In Memoriam: Jim Cantalupo, proof positive that McDonalds is bad for your health.

What do these people need? Junk food, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, violent entertainment, pollution-spewing factories…what am I forgetting? Oh, yeah, gangsta rap! – Darph Bobo

And 411 covers it all, folks.

I finally got to see Home On The Range over the weekend. Christ, when you have trouble finding a downloadable copy of a new movie these days, you know it’s a dud. And, boy, is this a dud, just as I predicted a few months ago when I was talking about Disney’s board troubles. This one’s been advertised as Disney’s final foray into traditional 2-D animation. It’s been in the works for nine f*cking years (it was scheduled to be the follow-up to Pocahontas). The five lead characters are voiced by two Academy Award winners, two Academy Award nominees, and an Emmy Award winner. It cost US$110M to make. And it doesn’t even approach the level of entertainment of Brother Bear?* And you wonder why the tie-in people have stayed away from this one at all costs. The only pimp I can recall for this is special Air-Heads packages. The big production number features day-glo colors and Randy Quaid yodeling Beethoven’s Ninth in between fat jokes by the chorus. Please, please, let Shrek 2 come out soon so I can get the bad taste of this one out of my mouth…

…actually, I didn’t need Shrek 2, because I was able to catch Kill Bill Vol. 2, which did the job nicely. You know, I stayed away from Vol. 1 until a couple of months ago, mostly because of the f*cking Tarantino Army and their hyping of every little bleep, blurt, and fart QT puts out. It’s a damn shame they exist, really, because I absolutely loved Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown and am totally convinced Pulp Fiction is one of the five best films of the Nineties. But I am not the type to overhype, and I don’t respond well to it. So I didn’t bother with it until the hype died down, and then was pleasantly surprised that it actually lived up to most of it. I thought that, in order to enjoy it, you had to buy into the objectification of Uma Thurman that’s obviously present in both films, something that I wasn’t about to do, but was shocked to find out that you could just enjoy the ride and get off on seeing someone recognize the genius that is Sonny Chiba (and Gordon Liu in Vol. 2). And now that the cycle is complete, somewhere, Sir Run Run Shaw and Sergio Leone (and John Ford and a multitude of others) are smiling. QT might just deserve godhood just for the fact that I watched two films with Daryl Hannah and didn’t want to vomit. Of course, that catfight in the trailer helped. And he kept it open for the Vol. 3 he’s been talking about for fifteen years from now, what with Vernita’s daughter being alive and the possibility of her training under…no, that’d go waaaaay into spoiler territory if you didn’t see the film**. What QT did was pull off a trick that few others have: he’s now officially created a mythology that extends in some ways to his other films. The only fault I find in it is simple and understandable: he should have never revealed the Bride’s name. That reduces her iconographic factor severely. For someone who’s seen as much Leone as he has, he should have known this. We’d see Clint Eastwood in a whole different light today if we’d found out that the Man With No Name was named Elmer Schwartz or something.

But what he did…it sorta restores my faith in movies, you know.

And let’s get on with the show here.

* – Why am I bitching about Home on the Range and not the even bigger disaster for the Mouse in re The Alamo? Because it’s more emblematic of the Eisner regime’s catalog of failures over the last decade, especially in regard to the end of trad-2D at the studio. And because Roseanne doesn’t play a cow in The Alamo.

** – I’m still hearing it from the Harry Potter freaks for revealing who died in the fifth book before people had a chance to read it. Hey, f*ck them. If I don’t like something, I’ll spoil. If I do like something, I won’t. That’s my prerogative because, as you well know, it’s my column.

THE PIMP SECTION

Memo to Gamble: I’ve done things while playing Axis and Allies that would have made Guderian shit his pants.

Evocator licks the ass of a war criminal.

Misha‘s sarcasm conveniently ignores the fact that Eric S has written for Dreamwatch and therefore actually does know something about Doctor Who. And independent conventions are a lot more fun. Remember, if you sleep, you haven’t actually attended.

I care, Rutherford. I really do. But Madonna’s been involved with Kabbala for a while now. I remember jokes being made about that three years ago.

Haley elaborates on some valid criticisms.

Erhardt goes over some DC history this week. For me, one of the worst moments in DC history was when Gerry Jones took over JLE/I. Good writer, wrong book.

It’s Superman versus the FF over at the Comics Roundtable, and you get to decide the winner.

And, remember, new episodes of Enterprise start tonight, and this may be your last chance to see any new episodes from them. Also, be sure to tune into Food Network on Sunday for Iron Chef America‘s five-hour orgy of greatness. You thought Benoit teaming up with Michaels was tense? Watch the sparks fly as Iron Chef Morimoto has to tag with his sworn enemy Bobby Flay…

DEEP THROAT: THE NEXT GENERATION

I haven’t had a chance to pick up Bob Woodward’s new tome yet, which details some of the numerous crimes against the American people that the Junta engaged in during its build-up to the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. Tuesday’s hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee touched upon some of Woodward’s findings, along with the blather of bullshit from the Junta, this time coming from the military’s bitch-boy Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz revealed the Junta’s party line on why Iraq happened quite nicely, with this statement:

“Saddam Hussein was more than just another bad guy. He institutionalized and sanctioned brutality on a scale that is simply unimaginable to most Americans.”

The problem was, though, he stuck to this line and didn’t veer from it. By doing that, he didn’t mention something rather important, like the reason the Junta told the public as per our little sojourn in the sand. And who called him out on it? Ted Kennedy.

“There wasn’t a word in this presentation about the weapons of mass destruction.”

How f*cking low are you on the food chain if you get punked by Ted Kennedy?

Ah, but on to Bob Woodward’s revelations. The big thing in the book, supposedly, is that seven hundred million bucks of taxpayer money was improperly diverted from anti-terrorism activites to planning an invasion of Iraq. Wolfowitz stated that “some” of that money was used on “the broader war on terrorism”. That seems to be an admission that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terrorism, which is the first time the Junta’s been right on that issue. So, in other words, they did illegally diverted funds. This is starting to get more like Iran-Contra every day. When’s Ollie North going to show up in his jarhead drag?

Wolfowitz also showed that the Junta wasn’t facing reality when he kept saying over and over that we’re pulling out on June 30th come hell or high bloodshed. The Demos on the committee had to keep slapping him and telling him to take a look at what’s going on right now. June 30th? Of 2004? Hell, no. 2009, maybe. Joe Lieberman, God bless his soul, summed it up nicely:

“The debate now is not over whether to withdraw troops. It’s how many troops to add to secure the situation.”

Carl Levin then followed that up with a statement so obvious that even as someone as dim as Dubbaya could understand it:

“If the U.N. doesn’t have the pieces together by June 30, the worst thing we could do is to attempt to restore sovereignty to leaders that appear to be our choices instead of the Iraqis. Even greater chaos and possibly civil war could result.”

Damn skippy, senator. Forget it, folks, we’re stuck there. And if Dubbaya does try to pull out at the end of June, then Iraq goes up in flames, along with a good portion of the Middle East. And he can watch his poll numbers go down as gas prices go through the roof even more than they have lately.

Of course, the portion of the discussion regarding troop deployment wasn’t being talked about in that committee. That was happening in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chambers. It was a topic of such importance that no one from the Junta bothered to show, just the Pentagon geeks. And there were a LOT of pissed-off senators in that room. Dick Lugar, the chairman, was really ticked. He’s having a bitch of a time holding the party line on the whole invasion thing, and the fact that no one from the Junta was there during this discussion was not helping him at all. He was barely containing his anger. However, he decided to be polite and let an actual member of the opposition sum this up. So, take it away, Joe Biden:

“The fact that they’re not prepared to send a witness either means they are totally incompetent and they don’t have anything to tell us — which would constitute incompetence — or they’re refusing to allow us to fulfill our constitutional responsibility.”

Incompetence, criminal activity, and arrogance…that’s why the Junta’s going to lose in November. And all of this taking place in the background of King Abdullah cutting his US visit short without visiting Dubbaya. “Postponed until next month”, my ass. Good work, Abby. Shove it into Dubbaya’s face.

(And Memo to Mike The Man: I’d rather have a flip-flopper like Kerry in there than a subhuman amoralist with no intelligence who’s simply a puppet for whatever special interest provides him with the most money (in other words, a Republican) like Dubbaya. At least Kerry can’t be bought and has some integrity as per his belief of the moment.)

AND, MEANWHILE, OUR CLOSEST ALLY DECIDES TO JOIN IN THE STUPIDITY PARADE…

Europe is a very touchy subject in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The issue of integration with other members of the European Union has been a hotbed of trauma for two decades now. It helped bring down Baroness Thatcher. It helped bring down John Major. Seeing that history, what has Tony Blair, whose poll numbers are reeling for being Dubbaya’s lap-dog on Iraq in addition to the suspicions surrounding the Hutton Report, decided to do? Put the issue of an EU Constitution in front of the voting public at an unspecified future date. And the body politic in the UK has never been in favor of closer ties to the Continent.

The issue of an EU Constitution is one that has one of the highest ratios of importance to Humanity’s future to “known about in the US” of any story in the past few decades. It would be the beginning of a true United States of Europe, the end of one era of history and the beginning of the next. Talks about a constitution broke down last year thanks to Spain’s resistance. However, thanks to the recent change in the Spanish government, they’re out and about again, with all 25 EU members (as of May 1st) needing to approve it in order for it to become reality. And Blair is playing this issue so safely for himself that it’s being decried as an obvious political move.

How so? Well, due to various and sundry, any kind of referendum would not take place until late next year at the earliest. Well, Blair’s planning on calling for a general election next June, hoping that the situation in Iraq improves and that Britons will realize that, if they don’t vote Labour, they’re going to have the psychotic Michael Howard as PM. This means that he’s going to be safely in for another (maximum of) five years when this referendum is conducted. That is so breathtakingly cynical that I have to admire him for it.

He’s also managed to put both sides of the issue on the defensive. The people in favor of a closer relationship to Europe have moved from saying “Don’t worry, it’s just a little paperwork clarifying everyone’s relationship” to “This is a great day for humanity, and if you vote no, you f*ck everything up for a half-billion people”. Howard and the Euroskeptics were saying, “This is the end of history!”. Now their tune is “Hey, if we vote no, we can still be part of the EU with no problems. We’re not using the euro and we’re still part of the EU, right?” Thus showing the inexperience of UK politicians with the concept of a constitution.

This is another cynical move by Blair. Knowing he’s at a low point and with very little time to turn things around if he wants to have an election on schedule and not have to wait until one is actually required in 2006, he’s decided to put the Tories on the defensive. He WANTS them to come out and say, “If we reject the constitution, then we have to pull out of the EU.” Most of the British public like the EU. They just like it the way it is, and they don’t see any benefit of staying out. But Blair has now put the ball in Howard’s court. The Tories have to figure out exactly how the UK can stay in the EU if they say no to the constitution, and they have to do it soon in order to remove a campaign issue from Blair’s plate. Also, if they can’t do it and Blair’s poll numbers rise, there may be a back-bench revolt in the party led by Kenneth Clarke, who would be more acceptable to the public as PM than Howard. Of course, Blair has to survive until that point, in which case the torch for the EU would have to be carried by PM-presumptive Gordon Brown, who remains an eeentsy-weentsy bit skeptical about the whole thing (and doesn’t have very many friends in Brussels due to his refusal to bring the pound into the euro).

I like British politics. It’s a lot more fun to look at sometimes.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE, FREEDOM AT LAST

Earlier today, after eighteen years of freedom, Mordechai Vanunu was freed from an Israeli jail. What kind of crime is it that can land you with eighteen years in the clink? Vanunu did something simple: he provided proof to the Sunday Times of something that every single rational person on Earth already knew, that Israel had nuclear capability.

He worked for nearly a decade inside of the Dimona nuclear facility, a location that Israel still refuses to place under international inspection. When he was canned, he decided, in the name of sanity, to blow the whistle to the world media, starting with the Sunday Times and spreading from there. He had the proof necessary to show that Israel was planning on becoming a nuclear power. And knowing Israel’s occasional overdoing of its own defense, there was a good chance that they’d use those weapons against any enemy. Keeping the fact that they had the makings of the Bomb a secret was a priority for the Israelis, who didn’t want to tip their hand. So when Vanunu exposed this fact, the Mossad went after him with no compunction. They entrapped him in Rome, shipped him back into Israel, and stuck him in jail.

This guy is a hero. For those of you who’ve forgotten those days, nuclear proliferation was on everyone’s mind in the 80s thanks to the psycho in the White House who made jokes about bombing Russia before radio addresses. By bringing Israel’s dirtiest secret into the light, he stopped the spread of nuclear weapons into the Middle East, the one place on Earth where you know that if someone has them, they’re going to use them. Even better, he exposed the Israelis as hypocrites. When they bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak in 1981, the Israeli government said that they had no comparative facilities and that they weren’t going for nuclear capability, so it was for their own safety that they kept nukes out of Saddam’s reach because they couldn’t retaliate in kind. All the while, the work was continuing at Dimona. Vanunu’s revelations were a major embarassment to them. So they slapped a “treason” tag on the whole thing and chucked him in jail. They would have gone farther, except that if Mossad had bumped him off, then everyone would have known why and who. Mossad are ruthless bastards; even if someone knocked him off and they weren’t the ones, everyone would have thought they did it.

He wasn’t revealing a secret, really. The world press had revealed the existence of Dimona by the time Vanunu came out with his film. Of course, no one could confirm what was going on there, but the assumption was pretty damn easy to make. So, for confirming everyone’s speculations, information that would have come out sooner or later, Vanunu got eighteen years.

Eighteen years in jail because he believed, as all right-minded people do, that nukes in the Middle East is NOT A GOOD IDEA, and that he was in the position to do something about it. And before you creepy little assholes think that I’m anti-Semitic, please note that this isn’t about Jews With Nukes. This is about any Middle East country with nukes, especially those who’ve never signed any sort of non-proliferation treaty like Israel. You don’t f*ck with the Power of the Atom in a place that’s a tinderbox to begin with.

As for Vanunu’s future, instead of coalescing my thoughts any further, I’m going to let the professionals do it. Here’s a copy of Amnesty International’s press release on the subject from Monday:

Amnesty International urges the Israeli authorities not to impose any restrictions or conditions on former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu upon his release on Wednesday after 18 years in jail.

“Mordechai Vanunu should be allowed to exercise his rights to freedom of movement, association and expression in Israel and should be allowed to leave the country if he wishes,” said Amnesty International. “His release is long overdue and Israel must not continue to violate his fundamental human rights once he is released from prison.”

Vanunu, who worked as a technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility from 1976 to 1985, was sent to jail 18 years ago for exposing secrets relating to Israel’s nuclear capabilities. In an interview with the UK-based Sunday Times in 1986, Vanunu revealed evidence that Israel possessed and produced nuclear weapons. Israel, which to date has refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, has never confirmed or denied the information.

Vanunu maintained that he acted out of conscience to expose Israel’s policy of building nuclear weapons with no debate or authorization from its own citizens.

On 30 September 1986, Vanunu was kidnapped in Rome by agents of Mossad, Israel’s secret services. He was drugged and secretly shipped to Israel. After a secret trial, he was sentenced to 18 years on charges of treason and espionage. His repeated requests for early parole were consistently rejected by the Israeli authorities. On 21 April he will have served his 18-year prison sentence in full.

In recent months Israeli officials have publicly supported and called for Vanunu to be detained beyond expiry of his sentence, or for his freedom to be restricted upon his release. Available information indicates that the Israeli authorities intend to impose heavy restrictions on Vanunu’s freedom upon his release, including banning him from leaving the country, confining him to assigned residence, and denying him the right to be in contact with journalists and foreigners.

“Israel is bound by international law not to impose arbitrary restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu, including on his right to travel within the country or abroad, his right to peaceful association with others and his right to express his opinions,” said Amnesty International.

Vanunu has expressed the desire to travel to the United States upon his release to be with his adoptive parents and to recover from the physical and psychological strain of 18 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement.

Israeli officials contend that restricting Vanunu’s freedom upon his release is necessary to prevent him from divulging further secrets about Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

“Israel’s determination to curtail Vanunu’s freedom and contact with the outside world seem to be intended to prevent him from revealing details of his abduction by Israeli secret service agents 18 years ago in Rome in what was clearly an unlawful act,” said Amnesty International.

Vanunu has repeatedly stated that he revealed all the information he had in 1986 and that he has no further information.

“Vanunu must not be subject to arbitrary restrictions and violations of his fundamental rights on the basis of pretexts or suspicions about what he may do the future,” said Amnesty International.

Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Israel has ratified and is obliged to uphold, stipulates that: “everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence” and that “everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own”.

The rights to freedom of expression and association are guaranteed by Articles 19 and 21 of the same Covenant.

So, f*ck you, Israel. Just keep taking out Hamas people and trying to pretend you’re the underdog of the f*cking world.

TURN IT OVER TO THE PROS FOR ONCE

The Pride Of Dartmouth His Own Self wants a little room to discuss the latest coaching change at Georgetown, so I’ll give it to him (especially since I’ve pissed him off with the sentence before this section):

You may or may not be inclined to discuss Georgetown’s hiring of Princeton coach John Thompson III as the new head basketball coach in your Wednesday column. As this is something of an area of expertise of mine, allow me to provide my analysis:

First of all, let me state right up front that JT3 is a TREMENDOUSLY classy individual who will not bring any shame whatsoever to Georgetown. I’m not saying that his players will be anything like Princeton students – this is the Big East after all, but in terms of conduct, Thompson’s Hoyas will meet the exact same standards as his Tigers. This is a guy who wouldn’t let his team celebrate on Dartmouth’s floor after clinching the Ivy title out of respect for ex-Dartmouth coach Dave Faucher, who had just coached his last game. No net-cutting, no nothing – right through the handshake line and back to the locker room. As an ambassador for the university and for the game of basketball, Georgetown has made an excellent choice.

As a coach, I’ve had moments where I’ve wondered about him. He’s had problems with kids leaving his program, and I am not a believer in the Princeton offense. A superior opponent may struggle at first, but will generally adapt and win the game (i.e. Texas over Princeton and UNC over Air Force in this year’s NCAA tournament). Then again, Princeton won three Ivy League title’s in Thompson’s four years as head coach, so he must be doing something right. I think he’s an excellent recruiter, and he’s also shown the ability to adapt the Princeton offense for use with better athletes (the Tigers’ offense this year was a modified version of the classic Princeton scheme, and that was absolutely the right way to go about it).

So, can he follow in his father’s footsteps at Georgetown? I don’t know. The biggest question mark is that Princeton offense, but I don’t even know that he’ll use it with the Hoyas, and if he does, he’ll adapt it for use with Big East-caliber athletes. Overall, I like the move, and I’m happy for Thompson. He’s a hell of a guy.

When JT-Cubed’s name came up a couple of weeks ago as a possible replacement, I was skeptical, I have to admit. It seemed to be like another DC-area coaching hire of recent vintage, a blatant attempt to recreate some kind of era of glory that would probably end up falling flat on its face. However, El, you know him better than I do. I’ll trust in your assessment of him as a class act, something that college b-ball needs more of. The problem is that class acts can only get you so far. What G-Town needs more than JT-Cubed is Patrick Ewing and AI. They’ve become sad-sacks recently, and it takes a lot of work to get an elite program back up to speed than a coaching change. Just ask North Carolina, who thought all their problems were solved when Roy Williams finally accepted his destiny. Good season, but not what Tar Heel fans expected.

All in all, it’s a good hire.

MAILBAG!

Semi-Regular Chris Arrington gets the God Slot because he decided to talk porn:

This porn HIV situation that has happened in the past few days is downright depressing. Mainly because this might lead to condom required films with no money shots. And if this happens, well you can do that pretty much yourself so why would I pay to watch other people do it.. I am an occasional watcher of porn and I can feel total empathy for anyone hurt in this situation. But they chose the job that they do. They could have found a regular job or worked exclusively in strip clubs. They might get manipulated, but they knew or should have known what they have gotten themselves into. I can understand why California would want to regulate, but when only 9 people get this disease since they been doing regular testing starting in 1992, (and the seven before this incident was the fault of Marc Wallace, a skinny HHH look-a-like who faked his health records) considering the job they do that is a good job. I hope this dies down, but considering how stupid this country is becoming I doubt it.

I don’t think that there’s going to be any government interference in the porn industry. This is something that Republicans tend to be a little squeamish about, not only because they don’t like to admit that people are basically sexual beings (hence believing that pushing adolescent abstinence is a solution to STDs and abortion) and that they still have to live down the apocalyptic tones of the Meese Report, but also because they don’t like regulating industries in the first place. OSHA sticks their fingers in where they don’t belong, but this is one orifice they’ll stay out of.

Besides, the porn industry has shown a great collective effort in their reaction to the positive tests. They’ve done a better job at contact tracing than most public health departments (I did some STD contact tracing while I was in the Army as part of my job; it’s difficult to get people to admit to sexual behavior, but people trained in this area are incredibly good at obtaining the names of partners of infected individuals and finding them). They were very public about what was going on and took drastic action without any prompting. Also, there were a number of companies that were already utilizing condoms in all their films. Sharon Mitchell’s production company, for instance, has been all-condom for a number of years, without any effect on the storyline or action. Mitchell’s a really smart cookie (she has a Ph.D.), but it’s surprising that she’d take the lead on this considering what a complete hosebag she was when she did films. That woman did everything.

If you’re worried about condoms cramping anyone’s style, just remember that there are a number of ways around that while still obtaining the all-important money shot:

1) Lots of blowjobs. 2) Titty-f*cking scenes. 3) Ask the gay porn people how they do it. They’ve been all-condom for a long time.

On a sort of related question, If you could be one of the following for the day, Ric Flair on a Monday or Ron Jeremy before a shoot, before the scare happened? On one hand you would be one the greatest wrestlers of all time but you would be on the total downside of your career and “The Nature Boy” outside the ring is supposedly a devoted husband and father. On the other hand you would look like Ron Jeremy and would have to interact with people a lot more, but you would have his equipment, be getting paid for having sex with a very beautiful lady, plus there would be a similar type of awe from people that you would get as Flair. My personal preference would be Jeremy for the simple reason that as Flair I would have David Flair as my son and I couldn’t handle that shame.

I’d be Ron Jeremy, of course, because he’s not out pimping for Dubbaya. Plus, he’s pulled off what Ginger Lynn and Traci Lords tried to do and failed: he became a mainstream celebrity, not to mention someone who attained and retained stardom in an industry where people are designed to be disposable. He’s a role model.

(And memo to KROMADAS13: I think that Flair’s as serious on the subject on running for governor of North Carolina as Charles Barkley is about running for governor of Alabama. The public loves him; why would he blow that? Ventura got really, really lucky, and Flair knows it.)

Big Daddy can’t always get the God Slot, but he can come damn close:

Was the bigger Calgary-related drama last evening A) the scripted sports-ent event going on in Calgary proper or B) the “so f-ing great it looks like it should have been scripted” sports event happening in Vancouver where Game 7 in the Canucks/Flames series went to OT on a game-tying goal with 6 seconds remaining? I know you’re loathe to appreciate hockey, but even watching the SportsCenter highlights you could see this was one fine game.

It’s not that I’m loathe to appreciate hockey, it’s just that I never had the opportunity to become a fan at the proper age due to the idiocy of the Wirtzes. They actively turned me off of wanting to enjoy hockey. That being said, Calgary pulling out an OT victory in a game seven on the road in that fashion was definitely the bigger drama. The people in Calgary have been starved of hockey goodness for a long time, and it was nice to see something like this happen for their sake.

Colin Pigeau decides to stick with sports, since we’re already talking about it, and he sidelights a remark I made yesterday about a certain Murdoch-controlled agglomerate of channels:

I had been curious for quite some time about your thoughts on soccer. When you went over your reasons way-back-when for the whys and wherefores as to why the Beautiful Game would never be accepted in the States, I couldn’t tell if you were just being broad, or if you felt the same way. Is this to say that you can enjoy soccer, or just the occasional match?

Occasional match. If there’s nothing on that floats my boat and Arsenal’s in the PL game on Fox, I’ll tune in. But, believe me, I do appreciate the game and the effects it has on its fans. I came to appreciate its power in the greatest way possible. It was during Italia ’90 and I was over in Germany when they won. This was between the Wall falling and Reunification, and there was a lot of reticence among Germans on the subject of displaying national pride. There was a lot of uncertainty among Germans over what the world would think if they displayed simple patriotism. And yet, when the clock ticked down to zero, I saw button-down, straitlaced, stick-up-their-collective-asses Frankfurt erupt into an incredible celebration with guys hanging out of cars naked waving flags, beeping their horns…it was kinda like a World Series victory. Of course, as a Chicagoan, I wouldn’t know what that’s like…

…no, JJ, I am NOT that damn old.

He continues:

Being stationed in Deutschland for a time, and knowing your thoughts on beer, how can FIFA even think of having a contract with Anheuser-Busch for exclusive vendor rights on beer for World Cup ’06? Wouldn’t Interbrew or another company be able to throw more money at FIFA? Cripes, Molson would be better. I would think that the Krauts (and the multitudes of visitors, not many of whom are probably going to be American) would sooner go dry than lower themselves to American “beer”. Your thoughts?

That’s just Sepp “Overactive” Blatter and his gang attempting to try to get Americans involved in the game again, this time where it counts, namely money. Give A-B the concession and they’ll be more likely to channel ad money into MLS broadcasts or cable broadcasts like on Fox Sports. They’re probably impressed with the approach that A-B takes toward their Super Bowl ads and hope that they can channel some of that into Germany ’06. There’s a golden opportunity to make inroads into the US if USA Soccer is smart enough to throw Freddy Adu on the team, and FIFA hopes that the attention put on Adu and the imprimatur of A-B as an official advertiser will be enough to open up the purse strings of other mainstream advertisers.

As for the beer itself, I’m hoping that Germans take one sip of Bud and start to take pity on us. I myself could use a six of any of Binding’s brands right now. I’d ask if any readers out there who might work for Binding could slip me a care package, except that the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 makes it a real bitch to bring any kind of beer in on a small scale.

Regular Sean Fri thanked me for that abstruse discussion about free trade last week (I don’t claim to be an expert on it; macroeconomics isn’t one of my particularly strong fields) and asks this:

I am interested to know what you think about the actual issues that are going to be brought up in the coming campaign. And if you think there are any other issues. Personally, I think “getting out of Iraq/response to terror/fix the economy” is the heavy rotation for this one, but if you think anything else pops up, I’d be interested to read it.

According to the latest polls, those three issues constitute a supermajority of what people believe to be the “most important issue”. Terror has been on a slight upswing recently due to the September 11th hearings, but I expect it to go down again in perceived importance (here’s the truth as to its real importance: none), which will drag Dubbaya’s numbers down. It’s going to be the economy and Iraq, and since Dubbaya is screwing the pooch on both, he’s going to be screwed.

The Priz(!) asks me about the Time 100 Most Influential People List, which just came out. Yeah, I do have this feeling that if they’d done this list twenty years ago, Walter Mondale would have been on it, just like John Kerry is today. The Clintons do deserve to be on it; she’s a senator from a large, important state, and the bully pulpit and attention-drawing power of a former president should not be underestimated. The Pope happens to be the leader of the world’s single largest religious denomination (f*ck you, Mitch Michaels); his influence is enormous since Catholics still look to the Pope for guidance. Besides, he’s a Polack, and we stick together. You’re bitching about Yao Ming being on the list but not Simon Cowell or Ken Kutagari (who’s possibly now the most detestable person in electronic gaming since Johnny R’s out at EA…oops, sorry, forgot about Bruno Bonnell there for a second)? You have to remember that Yao is the vanguard of the 21st Century Athletic Superstar, not to mention a bridge between the American Century and the Chinese Century. The face of the 21st Century will be Asian, and Yao is making that acceptable to Americans. And nothing will make me sicker than going to Slashdot and watching the mass-turbation of all the Linux crunchies over Linus Torvalds being included. All in all, though, a decent list.

A slight clarification to something I brought up yesterday regarding the incoming WWE wrestler Hirohito. This is what I said on the subject:

YI: It is traditional for a Japanese emperor to be renamed after his death in order to provide a one-word summary (well, one word in Japanese) for his reign. In the case of Hirohito, that name was “Showa” (which I didn’t even have to look up). So why dishonor Showa in this way? Or why not use “Showa” in the first place? Seeing as how “showa” means “enlightened peace”, wouldn’t you think it’d be perfect for a wrestler?

Sorta, kinda, in a way, as Kevin Hutchison tries to state:

I don’t think this is quite correct. Japanese emporers names are set when they are enthroned, not when they die. Hirohito was named Showa in 1926, not 1989. The Heisei Era begin in 1989, and is how Akihito’s reign is named.

Now here’s what Wikipedia says on the subject:

Traditional East Asians generally think it discourteous to call a person of noble rank by given name. This convention is almost dead, but still observed for the imperial family. In fact the Emperor is never to be referred to by name (imina) unless he is dead. Instead, past emperors are called by posthumous names such as Jimmu, Kammu and Meiji. Since the Meiji era, era names are also used as posthumous names…Summarised on the above, the current Emperor is not called by the current era name: the era would become his posthumous name. But today this custom tends to be loose, as the below. In English, the recent emperors are called by their personal names according to Western convention.

So, therefore, to us gaijin, there is a renaming of a sense going on when an Emperor dies. The person we knew as Emperor Hirohito is now the person that the Japanese refer to as Emperor Showa. Their era name is given upon accession, but it doesn’t become their name until they die. So I’m right and you’re right. It still doesn’t change the fact that “Showa” is a much cooler name for a wrestler, though. Well, I think so, but David Schilling sees a problem:

While I doubt this was WWE’s reasoning, would you really want a wrestler named “Showa”, considering the fact that the Hebrew name for the Holocaust is “Shoah” (pronounced “Show-a”)? Imagine all the Jewish mothers writing in when they overhear that while their kid watches wrestling. It would be reactionary and stupid, but I guarantee you it would happen.

Well, considering that it’d be a Japanese guy coming out there (unless they do some stupid Shinobi/Yoshi Kwan bullshit) and his chyron would read “Showa”, I don’t think that even the densest Jewish mother would find any kind of comparison. Just have Ross throw in some “His name means ‘enlightened peace'” remarks, and there should be no confusion. Claiming that WWE would be flippant toward the Holocaust because they have a wrestler named “Showa” would be about a 1.3 Sheila Brozlofski.

I’ll end this sucker off for this week, I guess. Hope that you enjoyed it, and hope to see you back again soon.