Friday, July 30, 2010

Better Get That Bucket Out, The Boat Is a Sinkin' and Feeble Politics is not Going to Save It.

Let's venture into the absurd, shall we. Do you have your thinking caps on? Good. Here we go...

What in the world is wrong with John McCain? (Besides, the obvious philosophical deficiencies) The road into insanity has been a long one for the --self-described-- maverick. Of course, there were the pictures of him hugging on Bush, picking Palin, watering down legislation on torture... All understandable, I mean I get it. He just wanted to be President, soooooo bad.

So, what is his deal now? Check out one of his fantastic billboards for his reelection to the US Senate:



Much like Campaign Finance Reform, anti-torture legislation and his political ambitions, McCain is what one would consider a lame duck. Then again, his political inadequacies aside, he remains a highly delusional legislator.

Seriously, regardless of one's position on the immigration debate (If you could call it that, it just sounds like good ol' racism to me)... What exactly has McCain done to secure the border? Has he been patrolling the border himself with an M1 Garand in hand? What we are witnessing is McCain engaging his favorite brand of politics, no not Maverick but rather sycophantic politics. (In this case, those with racial issues) Which if you followed his career --in the most cursory way-- is the only politics he knows. It is sort of sad considering he can't defeat a disgraced and corrupt former Congressman easily.


I suppose if he spent more time a politicking and less time on looking stylish then he would not have these problems.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It Aint Nothing But A Heartbreaker... Friend Only To The Undertaker...


I think Sebastian Junger's book, aptly titled War is the fourth book that I have read --this year-- concerning the American military (or private contractors) campaign's in either Iraq or Afghanistan. (The Others being: Generation Kill, Imperial Life in the Emerald City and of course, Blackwater) War --the concept not the book-- has always been a fascinating subject, mostly because it throws moral constraint out the window and man regresses to his most primal nature. War as a work of non-fiction examines this notion of war as a reduction to who can kill more effectively or rather who fights better. Junger does an admirable job of expanding upon this simplification of the concept, by examining the psychological aspects of war and the inability to function in a work devoid of combat.

It is the examination of the psychological aspects of war that is the most compelling piece of Junger's research. He cites numerous studies undertaken to understand why a soldier is "heroic" (Such as jumping on a live grenade) or how morale affects infantrymen in the Army's pursuit to create the perfect soldier.

For me, the war in Afghanistan presented in this book is a futile one (in terms of objectives and purpose)... What exactly is the United States Army hoping to accomplish in Afghanistan? Arguably, the world's greatest army fighting over various valleys while the nation's citizenry is left wallow in the turmoil.

This is an over-simplification of the conflict but --honestly-- the soldiers in the book do not accomplish anything. Roads are not built nor are buildings restored and an active insurgency definitely is the reason for this. I suppose this is the point of War... The book and the concept.

War is the futile act of violence... Man versus Man. It cannot create but only destroy, this point is lost through political discourse and the imposition of ideology in this nation. Is it any wonder that Afghanistan was considered the forgotten war?

Regardless of one's position on war ideologically, it was a good read.

Addendum: There have been some developments in the Afghan theater of the "War on Terror" (aka the War on Abstract Concepts), we finally have "compendium of 91,000" about what exactly is happening in Central Asia by our government. I highly encourage you all (my dwindling audience) to peruse the Afghan War Diary 2004-2010 at Wikileaks.org.

Is Thirty Second Advertising Contributing to America's Collective Ignorance? At the Very least, it is Teaching Us to Party. Whoo!

Hark, I proclaim the many virtues of the DVR! Not only can a man record PBS for a later viewing (let's face it, I lead a pretty hectic life) but you can fast forward through the most wretched aspect of mass communications... The thirty second commercial spot.

Sadly, I still find myself going back to commercials that catch my eye while fast forwarding. Case in point, the Fourth of July advertisement for Bud Light. I admit that I have elicited a chuckle or two at a Bud Light ad. This one however was particularly appalling.

Why don't you take a gander:



Is it any wonder why the male demographic 18-30 is ignorant of history and have such a low view of women. Honestly, the writer of really painted an accurate portrayal of the American Revolution... It was one big party, full of sexists (misogynists) --although Franklin was known for his weakness for the ladies-- and free flowing --cheap-- booze. Lord knows they did not have anything better to be doing... After all there was a war going on.

To think this farce is the way to pay tribute to our forefathers and preeminent thinkers. I suppose this is one way to sell a product around July 4th... Outside of besmirching national "icons," the ad was devoid of humor and was down right crass. Then again, it was not a commercial for Bordeaux but rather a cheap beer for those with discriminating tastes... You know, sophisticates.

Addendum: On repeated viewings this commercial would not be so bad if it was not for the poor acting --of the 80's movie actor rejects-- and piss poor writing. (I was going to allude to those crappy comedies from the 80's again but that is being slightly redundant) I mean, freeing oppressed people from tyranny takes its toll, sometimes you need a break. I hear that is what the Algerians did during the Algerian Revolution... Dropped what they were doing --including being tortured-- and partied it up.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Has Thou Forgotten Thine Bumbershoot? There Be Falling Information About!

It was my intention to make this announcement last week (Family members are rejoicing at not being forced to read this blog anymore) but was side-tracked by the multitude of urine soaked diapers (Not mine, I assure you), milk stained towels and the perpetual exhaustion associated with parenthood. Then I started graduate school... But, I digress. This is not an announcement of my intention of quitting this newborn blog but rather my decision to increase its scope.

Namely, I am going to revamp the layout... First through the interface provided by Google and maybe later I will code something new entirely. (Doubtful since this is not 2001 and my patience for such things is lacking)

Also, I would like to include some reviews of the things that I am reading book wise and provide the links to interesting articles. Will that signal the demise of my generated content..? No fear, I will still post my diatribes and absurd mini-blogs.

These are but a few of the changes that I am going to implement to PORTEmaus... Sadly, only three people read this page now and truth be told... I doubt they do any longer. Well, here's to you anonymous Internet person... You are a King among men... Unless you are a woman... Then I guess that would make you a Queen... Wow... Yet, another digression.

Cheers,
-Manny

Sunday, July 4, 2010

America, I Know You And I Do Not See "Eye to Eye" A Vast Majority of the Time But Here's To You On Your "Birthday"

I feel I would be doing a disservice to America if I did not wish her a "Happy Birthday" on this the day of her birth. Of course, I was wondering the tone that should I adopt for this post... Should it be genuine or "sarcastic?" Should I focus upon the contributions this nation has made to world at large (um, Twilight) or "how she is beginning to show her age." (Her adventurous foreign policies among other travesties)

Well, I will save being provocative for "provocative's sake" for another day. After all, nobody likes to hear bad things about themselves on their "day." So, here are some things that make America alright. The United States of America this is your life.



1. The American Revolution

The American Revolution had it all, a great plot --with a whole slew of interesting characters-- involving guerrillas rebelling against tyrannical despot. Sadly, the Revolution spawned the best American thinkers to date (With the exception of Lincoln and a select others) and such an occurrence will never happen again. Lightning does not strike twice after all.



2. Thomas Jefferson

The man, the myth, the legend. I cannot say more about this preeminent wordsmith/ revolutionary. Sure, there were other great men... Henry, Franklin, Adams (Sam and John) surrounding him but frankly none of them resonated with me more than the man who wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. One would assume that having laid the framework for a document of that magnitude would make one narcissistic... Not Jefferson, he was not keen on writing it... go figure.



3. The Bill Of Rights

They do not mean as much as they did before but the Bill of Rights was revolutionary in the way they made "privileges" in other countries, the inherent rights of all citizens in this one.




4. The Proverbial "Melting Pot"

Immigration is what made this country great. It has given us a truly unique cultural dynamic... Sadly, not all of us share this sentiment.



5. National Parks

America certainly has some wondrous sites out there. Hell, some so great that we have gone to great lengths to protect them. Here's to you our proverbial "Purple Mountains Majesty."



6. Libraries

It pains me to hear people call institutions such as this, "Ly-Berries." Seriously, my four-year old knows better. Bless the institution that seeks to eradicate idiocy in populace. Its a tough and altogether fight old bean... Hang in there.



7. The Blues

One of the truly unique American musical art forms, one whose reach was global and had influenced countless other forms of music. The Blues of the South is the stuff of legend. They say the man above this caption sold his soul to the devil... Regardless, he could play a mean guitar.



8. The Public Broadcasting System

Who does not enjoy a little PBS after a hard day in the salt mines? As it stands, it has to be the best television that money can buy. It has something for everybody and I would still give my left --you know what-- to VOLUNTEER at WGBH Boston. Don't tell my wife that...



9. Non-Profit / Volunteer Organizations

Some call it social welfare or handouts but when was helping people a bad thing? Thankfully, there has been no shortage of people who long to help their fellow man. I am glad that not everyone is that cynical... This is coming from a cynic no less.



10. The Golden Age of Hollywood

The Golden Age of Hollywood is something that will never happen again. Long gone are the days of Capra, Stewart, Hitchcock and countless other, they have been replaced by the age of the lowest common denominator. Genuine humor has been cast aside for the timeless dick and fart joke. This is just the film graduate in me waxing poetic about days past. I swear if they ever remake Singing in the Rain or It's A Wonderful Life... I am expatriating.

*Please note: this list is not empirical but one man's opinion. (Sorry, that's why you don't see Toby Keith or Seth MacFarlane on this list... Face it, they kind of suck)

Addendum: While watching fireworks with the Funkowitz clan, --In between babies crying, pointless murmuring, three people singing "God Bless America" and the lady yakking on her cell phone-- some jackass yelled out "Let's hear it for our troops in Iraq!" to unanimous applause. I still don't know where to start with that. On second thought, I take back the nice things I said. To be fair, this lone action is indictment of the populace not America... Evidently, number six is facing a tougher battle than I had previously thought.

What?!? Orwell Wrote Something Other Than A Novel With Talking Animals That I Read In High School? Who Knew?

The second entry into the PORTEmaus Book Club was an easy choice. At the very least, it is not as "controversial" as Blackwater was. In fact, I would be hard pressed to find someone who has actually read this book (besides myself... what can I say, I read for fun). Without further ado, the book that has been selected to join the "club" --a personal favorite of mine-- is George Orwell's Keep The Aspidistra Flying.



I have been looking for an excuse to revisit this book for sometime... Thankfully, I finally found one. I know that many people will wonder why I selected this book out of Orwell's body of work. Personally, 1984 has become the "go to" book for the Left since the Bush administration and I feel that Orwell was at his best when he examined the ramifications of Capitalism on the mass man not --Soviet-- Totalitarianism. To each his own... I suppose. So, broaden your Orwell horizons and read damn you! Hopefully, I won't finish the book so quickly and will be able to post periodic updates through the month. Curse my fifth grade reading level!