Funny Motivational Posters about Video Games, Politics and Exercise

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Bizarre Motivational Posters about Ending the Universe, Motivational Posters and Politics

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The Boys Return a Goat to Afghanistan and Discover that “Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants,” in South Park Episode 509

This is a great episode for a lot of reasons, both relating to American diplomacy and the perceptions of the U.S. abroad as well as what it is to be an American at such times. Despite being seven years old, the episode resonates with remarkable familiarity even today. The only difference is that we haven’t caught Osama bin Laden yet.

When Ms. Choksondick tells the students to send Afghan children $1 at the behest of President Bush, they do so. A few Afghan children then send the boys a goat in return because gift-giving is an important part of their culture. Unable to keep the goat, the boys try to send it back and end up on a military plane to Afghanistan with a goat that everybody thinks is Stevie Nicks set to play at the USO show.

The boys arrive with the goat, but the local Afghan children tell them to piss off and that they hate them for being Americans. Needless to say, these eight-year old boys just don’t understand. With yet another racial epithet, Cartman explains that Jawas (sand people) have no hearts. Later, unwilling to be mistaken for Canadian, Cartman gets the boys captured and taken to Osama Bin Laden’s lair where they are held for ransom.

The Afghan boys discover this injustice and go to rescue Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman. After all, they know the difference between right and wrong and have good hearts: they know that the boys are not to blame for any aspect of this terrible war and that they must help them.Interesting how this echoes of a conversation that I recently had over on a Quran Read-A-Long day post about only oppressing those who have oppressed you and not having the right to oppress anyone else. It seems that these boys’ Muslim upbringing has instilled this excellent since of justice in them.

Cartman decides to remain behind in order to deal with Osama Bin Laden, insisting that Osama’s not crazy, he’s just an idiot. The Bugs Bunny-Elmer Fudd spoof that ensues is priceless, and at the end of the episode, after the army goes in to save Miss Nicks, the boys are rescued and Osama shot in the head.

The mockery of Osama is great. The analysis of the world’s hatred of the U.S. is profound, and my favorite line is incredible. The U.S. General shouts to the troops, after learning of Stevie Nicks’ capture: “Grab your guns and your Bibles. We’re going to get Miss Nicks back.” Suffice it to say that the joining of those two weapons – the Bible and guns – makes for a poignant moment.

What did you think? What was your favorite part?

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Book Review: Sex and War, by Potts and Hayden, is a Fascinating Look at the Biological Bases of War

I have to thank the BenBella Book Publishers for cluing me into this gem of a book. Generally, when we think of gems we think small. Think big. This is a big book. But if I was going to lay out the case for why men are inherently violent at a basic biological level, how empowering women is the solution to world peace, and how we can overcome our genetic predisposition towards outgroup violence, then I would probably need a fair amount of pages too.

Malcolm Potts, an obstetrician and research biologist, and the journalist Thomas Hayden, take up the remarkable challenge of setting out to show the average person, who is not particularly well-versed in the biological bases of behavior, the genetic code, chimpanzee behavior or a million fascinating and germane examples throughout history, how and why men are violent and how we can overcome our natural predispositions. The solution: become aware of them and empower women.

Rather than do this book an injustice by attempting to summarize its intelligent and very well-argued points, I will liken it to Guns, Germs and Steel, the wonderful work by Jared Diamond that set out to demonstrate how the world’s power structure is based on where people started and therefore what technology and weapons they had access to and what diseases they were immune to. In the same way, this book describes the state of our world based on fascinating and uncontrollable factors and has an epic task at hand.

I must admit that the author’s disapproval of President Bush and his actions did shine through as a prominent motif, and though I generally don’t appreciate political opinions intervening in works such as these, if I were writing a book during the presidency of a man who had created so many apt examples then I could hardly deny myself the luxury of using them. If you removed these examples it would actually do the book and the argument an injustice and I believe that their inclusion truly was not politically motivated. That, however, doesn’t necessitate the footnotes of stupid Bush quotes (which were at least funny).

In short, an excellent book and a must read for anyone who loves to see the complex interplay of so many fascinating factors in this world and their results.

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Around the World Pic: Texas Honkey Tonk Cantina in Tallin, Estonia

honky-tonk-cantina_2

Oh, the memories of the Honkey Tonk Texas Cantina in Tallin, Estonia. Tallin, by the way, is a magnificent little capital on the Baltic. We ended up spending three days there, which was most unexpected considering the speed with which we had been moving.

One day, as we were walking around Tallin, we stumbled upon this little gem. Tallin, Estonia – Honkey Tonk Texas Cantina. What!?! we cried, before shoving our way inside and demanding a table.

We enjoyed wings, quesadillas, and a variety of other hilarious tex-mex food that was entirely out of place in Estonia. We decided, too, that we would speak like hicks the entire time we were there, figuring that these random people on the Baltic wouldn’t understand our English, much less our ridiculous accents.

As it happens, Estonians, because their language is so obscure and useless worldwide, all speak relatively perfect English with little or no accents, and when we spoke like jackasses – a charade that we insisted on maintaining through the duration of our meal – they knew exactly what was going on. Yeah, we were idiots.

Have you ever been to Tallin, Estonia? Are you aware of this hilarious restaurant?

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Democratic and Republican Jews Battle for Jewish Florida Voters with Jackie Mason and the Great Schlep

As some of you may know, there’s an election coming up in early November, when the good (and bad) people of the United States of America will have to decide who they want as their next president: John McCain or Barack Obama.

Because Florida is often such an important swing state in any election (think Bush-Gore 2000), and because Florida is filled with elderly Jewish voters, both campaigns are going after the state and the old Jews who live there quite vigorously. Joe Lieberman has been campaigning for McCain for months and now, some younger Jews from around the country are fighting back.

Over Columbus Day Weekend they are instituting The Great Schlep, which is designed to send thousands of Jewish youth to Florida to speak with their grandparents about why they should vote for Barack Obama. It’s an incredibly large, grassroots campaign that’s not affiliated with the Obama campaign but is a cause that has been taken up by young Jews who want their grandparents to know the facts about the candidates before voting (rather than thinking that Obama cavorts with Muslim terrorists as certain ads have led them to believe).

This Sarah Silverman video is on The Great Schlep homepage, and I’ve embedded it here for your viewing convenience:

Jackie Mason and the Republican Jewish Coalition responded with the following video, which isn’t as funny but it’s definitely got a point:

What do you think about this campaign? Are you participating? Do you know anyone who is? What did you think about the videos?

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In the News: Protestants and Catholics Still Over Centuries-Long War

U.S. President George W. Bush has just gone to the Vatican where he was welcomed warmly by Pope Benedict XVI. That is, an evangelical leader of the free/WASP/non-Catholic world (perhaps that’s giving a lot of credit to Bush, but allow it for the sake of comparison, please) has met with the Pope, the spiritual leader of the world’s billion or so Catholics.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to not the sixteenth century.

Now, of course, pope’s and U.S. presidents have been meeting for years now, and the Catholic Church and the Protestant world (though it isn’t so easily grouped in a unified way as Catholicism) have long since made amends…effectively. I for one, would like to state quite clearly how awesome that is.

We really take for granted in our day how wonderful it is that there is a relative amount of unity, a high degree of peace and a general disregard for the differences between Catholics and Protestants. The Christian world is pretty much A-ok on an inter-denominational basis. Sure, the Christian and Muslim worlds are effectively at war (though I neither believe that it is as ubiquitous as I have made it sound nor as dichotomized as Christian v. Muslim), but it’s great that Catholic-Protestant relations are at the height of their strength. Why am I harping on this issue, you ask?

Well, it really wasn’t like that for a very long time. The Puritan roots of this country can be traced back to a need to escape the Anglican Church because it was too close to and corrupted with popery – or Catholicism – Puritans claimed. People in the colonies hated, persecuted and banned Catholics in various places for a very long time. Life as a Catholic in America wasn’t easy for a while. Now, can I blame Protestants (back-in-the-day Protestants, that is), for being terrified of and hating Catholics? Considering the Church’s history and the way it treated dissenters, no, I really can’t, but let me be frank: relations never had to normalize.

Wars between Catholics and Protestants in Europe were on an unimaginable scale, comparable to parts of the crusades, in certain areas of Europe killing up to a third of the population (sometimes more deadly than the Black Plague), and many people believed that Catholic and Protestant countries would never be at peace with one another. Slowly but surely, however, countries realized that interests other than religion set them at odds with one another and unified them with each other, and today, in our post-industrial, post-Cold War, newly hyper-globalized world, issues like whether you are a Protestant or Catholic country are really not the issues at hand. And that’s spectacular.

But then again, we’re not talking about countries, per se. The Holy See may be a country, but at the end of the day, it’s the Roman Catholic Church through and through, and I still think it’s awesome that an evangelical Protestant leader and the pope can greet each other warmly and genuinely, get along, discuss their common goals and interests (even if, unfortunately, some of those happen to be banning abortion and stem-cell research and continuing to promote abstinence – issues we will get to in due time, I’m sure), and be so friendly. It’s important, and not what one would expect after a few centuries of animosity and wars. If in the seventeenth century you’d asked who a Christian’s biggest enemy was, he’d say, a Catholic – never a Muslim, a Democrat or Oprah Winfrey or anything like that (don’t you love topical humor!).

So, that’s my thouhgt: we shouldn’t take for granted that the Protestant and Catholic worlds are effectively at peace (save a few small pockets of course), and when U.S. Presidents and Popes are hanging out together, we should appreciate that we’ve come a long way since the Thirty-Years War.

Note about tomorrow’s post: I will be posting in the afternoon because tomorrow is Movie/Book review day and I am going to see a matinée of The Happening. I have pretty low expectations but a close friend is a screenwriter of horror movies so we’re going – let’s see if it can break the low bar I’ve set. Check back tomorrow afternoon for the review of The Happening.