Obama’s 2014, By The Actual Numbers

Obama Numbers

Not as apocalyptic as some might want you to think, eh?

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Prose Before Hos’ “Best Of The Rest” In 2012

Best Of Rest 2012 Cover Photo

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Animal Picture Of The Year: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

Best Of Rest 2012 Animal Photo

Political Meme Of The Year:

Best Of Rest 2012 Political Meme

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Weekend in Istanbul

Basic introduction. I’m an American expat working and living in London. I’ve actually lived in Europe for three years now and am going to start telling people that I left when Bush was re-elected because of a promise I made on the Conan O’Brien Show a la Alec Baldwin (the actor, not the douchebag who runs this site). Anyway, that’s a lie (about leaving because of Bush’s re-election, not about Alec being a douche) and I’ve actually seen some interesting things in my years abroad. This particular incident is not necessarily that interesting, but what the hell this is a blog. I was in Istanbul with my fiancee last weekend and recounted this anecdote about the Turkish Capital to a half-Turkish half-American friend of ours who gave us some tips on what to do there. The conversation is as follows:
12:42 PM Alhan: looks like i dont have access to that photo  maybe i need to be “friends” with kristine12:43 PM maybe you could email the photos?12:44 PM me: just befriend kristine  but i’ll email said photos  okay  here’s the first story  our first full day we go to the blue mosque and it’s really beautiful of course12:46 PM we start to go through the first entrance and this little middle-aged turkish dude in a like old, grey 90s style suit comes up to us and starts trying to chat us up  and he’s like, “you’re supposed to go this way my friend, I’ll show you exactly where to go”  hold12:48 PM back on  anyway, he’s like “I’ll show you where to go and afterwards I’ll show you my carpet store”12:49 PM and we’re like, “no, no, thank you, thank you, that’s very nice but we just want to do it ourselves.”  and he says, “no, no, you don’t understand, i show you where to go, you do it yourselves, and then we talk on other side!”12:50 PM and he just starts following us as we head through the main entranceway up to the actual mosque  and both my fiancee and i are too big pussies to tell him to go away  so i stupidly start answering his questions, because i don’t want to be rude, and talking to him  and he’s like “so where are you from?”12:51 PM and i tell him “kristine’s swedish, but my mother’s french and my father’s american and i’m from the states”  and he’s like, “oh, i’ve been to the states before it’s very nice, I love seattle and my daughter goes to school in america”12:52 PM and to be polite i’m like, “where does she go to school?”  and he’s like emory university  and that’s where I went to school, so i was kind of surprised, because there are only really like 6,000 undergraduate students there, so the odds are incredibly small, so i tell him i went to emory and try to make that a mutual point of conversation12:53 PM and he does not seem impressed, and starts going off on a typical schpeel about how, “people are people, and we’re all the same, and it doesn’t matter where your from, etc.etc.”12:54 PM and in my head i’m thinking, well we actually have something in common and you’re trying to sell me a carpet by giving me the same idiotic speech you give everybody? how bad of a salesman are you? but I ask him what his daughter is studying, to try to get back on topic12:57 PM and he’s like, “middle eastern studies” and i’m like, “it’s a very nice school and a good department” and he’s like “yeah, yeah,” and goes right back to the speech! and starts advising us on how we have to take our shoes off when we get into the mosque, because we would not have figured that out from the signs in english, the security guards and the fact that everybody else around us was doing the same, and he continues to give us these very pertinent pieces of advice, like “go in through there” and “i’ll meet you on the other side” and i know kristine’s looking at me like, “oh fuck, what have you done.”12:59 PM so we go in, and it’s incredibly beautiful and we’re both very impressed, but i know kristine’s nervous about that guy, cuz we’ve had a bad history of being followed around in foreign (generally muslim) countries by people we don’t know who want to “befriend” us and show us around, etc. and i’m looking at her, like, “what kind of a retard do you think i am if you think i’m going to follow this guy around for god knows how long when we have other things to do.” Anyway, we leave the mosque and the guy is of course there waiting for us1:00 PM and while we put our shoes on i’m trying to steer his rants back to the idea that we actually do have things in common by talking about emory, but he just sort of shrugs me off and says that it’s incredibly expensive (which of course it is)  and we’re ready to go  and he’s like “come with me, this way, we’re going to see my carpet store now”1:01 PM and i’m all sort of quiet and not very agressive, but telling him, no actually, we have a friend of a friend we have to meet at the grand bazaar who owns a carpet store already and we are meant to go there  and he’s like, “no, no, no you don’t understand” like we were confused about something and he was going to make everything clear1:02 PM “you don’t need to buy the carpets, you just need to come to the store and look at them! Now come with me.”  and we’re like sorry dude, thanks anyway and we kind of slink off1:03 PM and he looks at us all indignant and pathetic and what not, and i can’t help but feel sorry for the poor bastard, because i know that yearly tuition at emory with room and board is $35,000 plus and that was five years ago, so it’s probably like $40,000 by now, but for fuck’s sake did he really think we were going to go with him?  fin1:04 PM Alhan: yeah they do that  its true  you couldnt feel too sorry for him  they play on that  so is that the tragic one?1:07 PM me: yah  that’s the “tragic” one  i thought it was kind of funny though Alhan: did he say his name at any point? me: but the second one is actually funny, funny  oh shit  let me call kristine1:09 PM he didn’t introduce himself properly kristine said  and if he did i missed it Alhan: what did he look like me: oh, the other thing is he kept calling us “brothers and sisters”1:10 PM kristine: “short, bald,big eyes, he looked sort of like a small version of those big monsters in lord of the rings number three, the big ogre things with one eye”1:11 PM i’m terrible at describing people   BLUE MOSQUE ENTRYWAY Entering the pretty Blue Mosque INSIDE THE BLUE MOSQUE  

Inside the blue mosque

ME (BEARDO) AND CARPET DEALER (BATTLE TROLL OF MORDOR)

ME (BEARDO) AND CARPET DEALER

1:12 PM Alhan: haha  thats good enough  poor guy  so next story… me: hold1:13 PM okay  next story, and i’m sure i’m going to have to talk to kristine to fill in the gaps1:14 PM and his is more of a shuttle driver story than a carpet store story but it’s related to a carpet guy  so our last day we book this shuttle service to go to the airport, because it’s the far airport way outside the city that easyjet passengers take and it’s kind of a long way, so this is the cheapest way to do it1:15 PM so we get in and kristine already starts to complain, because on the way into the city we had an entire shuttle to ourselves because we arrived late at night, and now on the way back to the airport all three rows had people in them1:16 PM and i’m like, it’s not that bad, we have a row to ourselves, please calm down, etc.  doesn’t stop her, but whatever  we start driving, and there’s a driver and then his friend in the passenger seat who seems to be there for no reason at all other than to speak with the driver in turkish and keep him company1:17 PM anyways, we head off and are taking a very long convoluted path and i realize we’re not actually leaving just yet  we have to pick up more people along the way  and i’m just praying they don’t fill this stupid van,for kristine’s sake, and the sake of my ears1:18 PM anyway, they do start to fill the van  drive five minutes  stop  pick someone up  drive ten minutes  stop  pick two people up  drive ten more minutes  etc., etc.  till’ the van is basically full1:19 PM then we go and stop right outside a side street next to this carpet store1:20 PM and during this entire trip the driver has occassionally been shouting back at people making chatty comments in very borat-style english ‘how you are back there ‘ma'” (he knew one of the passengers previously and called her ma and chatted with her the most – this old english lady who was on holiday with her husband) “is okay, we almost done” etc. etc.  so we stop outside this carpet store  and his friend leaves the car  and we wait and wait  like ten minutes1:21 PM and the driver leans back to comment  “this is my uncle’s carpet store”  “he is crook”  “he only likes to use people for their money”  “don’t go here”  like complete non-sequitor  and kristine and i are just cracking up in the back seat1:22 PM like uncontrollably  but finally, we get going, but without his friend  and we’re like “what was the point of that stop, to tell us how crooked his uncle is?”  but we keep going1:23 PM and the van is basically full at this point  the front row is stuffed with baggage  the second-fourth rows have pretty much every seat filled save for maybe a couple  so we figure finally, we’re on our way  wrong  wrong1:24 PM we stop again after 10 more minutes of driving through istanbul traffic (we’re really lucky we left the city four hours in advance of our flight) at a train station to pick up more people, and fill every last seat1:25 PM but the people aren’t there  so we wait for 15 more minutes  and while we wait, ma’s husband needs to use the toilet, so he goes into the train station1:26 PM and then the people arrive, take ma’s husband’s seat, fill the van entirely and were waiting for mr. ma at the end  and he shows up, as does the driver’s friend  before this the driver had said to ma ‘is okay, we leave your husband now’1:27 PM soooo borat  then when the husband comes back and has to sit somewhere else ,he says ‘okay, your husband has to go away, it’s okay?’  or something to that effect, and ma’s like, yeah i think i’ll survive1:28 PM so we finally head off for the airport, an hour-plus after we had left the hostel and maybe a mile or so away from our hotel1:29 PM and i forgot to mention the most important part, the driver and the friend always burst into random turkish chatter after every bizarre-half english comment the guy makes  like borat does with his kazakh friend in the borat movie (i can’t emphasize this borat analogy enough)1:30 PM so during one of these parking stops, he interrupts his heated turkish conversation with his friend  leans back to everyone in the car  and says in english1:32 PM (pointing to his friend) “he has bad smell!”  and turns back to his friend and starts jabbering away in turkish again and laughing1:33 PM and everyone in the car is obviously laughing, and kristine and i are practically rolling on the floor, because we realize we have come as close as we ever will to meeting borat  fin

INSIDE BORAT’S VAN FROM HEL

BORAT’S VAN FROM HELL  

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Arts, Briefly

In a new play at the [tag]National Theater in London[/tag], 27 actors perform for 90 minutes without uttering a word. The attraction is “[tag]The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other[t/ag],” by the Austrian playwright [tag]Peter Handke[/tag]. The script has 60 pages of stage directions and no dialogue, although there are bangs, crashes, screams and laughter, The Independent of London reported. Mr. Handke said that the idea came to him in the 1980s when he found dramatic meaning in the comings and goings in a town square near Trieste, Italy. “Is there much to discover in it?” he said of his play. “I don’t know.”

From the New York Times

See Also: Review – The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, National Theatre
Silence Is Olden

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Fourteen Characteristics of Fascism

Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, wrote an article about fascism which appeared in Free Inquiry magazine, a journal of humanist thought. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile) and found that the regimes had 14 things in common.

The 14 characteristics are:

1.. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2.. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to ‘look the other way’ of even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3.. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe; racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists; terrorists, etc.

4.. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5.. Rampant Sexism – The government if fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6.. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common.

7.. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivation tool by the government over the masses.

8.. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9.. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders in power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10.. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed.

11.. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12.. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses, and even forego civil liberties, in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13.. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions, and who use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability.

14.. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against (or even the assassination of) the opposition candidates, the use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and the manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

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