Auschwitz Sign Stolen- “Arbeit Macht Frei”

A disturbing piece of news.  This morning, between the hours of 3 to 5 AM the infamous sign over the Auschwitz gate that said “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work shall set you free) was stolen.  Who would do such a sick thing?  If its a prank then its one very sick prank.  If its political, then we know what kind of idiots would do such a thing.  The lack of respect for the suffering of millions of people is staggering.  Shocking even.  For the life of me I can not imagine how one could come up with such a sick and idiotic idea.  Not that racists, fascists, Nazis, or anti-Semites could ever be accused of intelligence, but still.  Even for them it was over the top.  A sick joke or some kind of hateful statement, it does not matter.  Lets all hope they are apprehended quickly, and punished with a hate crime.  For now a replica sign, made when the original was being restored years ago, was hung in its place.  Sick bastard are alive and well.

News Update:  Polish Police have recovered the sign (cut into three pieces) and have apprehended 5 men.  Apparently the theft was financially motivated, though at this time its unclear if it was ordered by someone else, or if they were just going to try to sell it.  Sick bastards.  But Well done to the Polish cops for finding it so quickly.

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Published in: on December 18, 2009 at 9:34 am  Comments (3)  
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Why do People Pray?

The Power of Prayer

During war the power of prayer has about 50% effectiveness.  In sports, its exactly 50%.  The Super Bowl MVP usually thanks his god.  The striker who just scored a game winning goal points to the sky thanking his creator for guiding him.  If winning a battle is god’s doing, do the losers then blame god?  Does the losing quarterback blame god for not being able to go to Disneyland?  Does the goalkeeper blame god?  Or did he not pray hard enough?

Parents of sick children pray for their kids.  Unfortunately most of the time god is too busy.  People pray for all kinds of things.  For god to help them pass an exam, win the lottery, cure them, help them in a relationship.  From the most serious to the dumbest shit they can think of.  Now I have not seen the statistics, but I am betting that prayers are not answered all that often based on my observations of this world.  Is saying “it was god’s will” the equivalent to “its god’s fault?”  People believe in the infinite power of god, god can do anything, he just chooses not to.  So why do we pray?  Praying to god for things hardly works.  And what does the result mean?  If I pray for money and I win or find money tomorrow, does that mean god loves me more than the poor bastard who prayed but got nothing?  If I pray and get nothing then what?  God ignored me, is mad at me, I did not pray hard enough, he’s spiteful?  300 people pray for safe arrival to their destination, their plane lands safely.  Another 300 hundred do the same, yet the plane crashes, and they all die.  Did god do this?  Is it really god’s will?

That’s the one thing I could never stomach.  Why would god do such things to us?  And why do we put so much pressure on god?  Why do we see god as out meal ticket, saviour, education tutor, military commander, doctor, love councillor, therapist, when his track record is so poor?  Yes, why the hell do we pray for things?  When we don’t get them we subconsciously make god either ineffective or mean (to use the nicest word possible).  Fact is prayer is not powerful.  At least not when we pray like a bunch of spoiled needy selfish little kids.  Me me me me me me, help me, give me, save me!!!  Some of the nicer of us pray for their family and friends, some even pray for strangers, that’s a nice sentiment, but its the same thing.  Prayer by proxy.  More needy people wanting things from their god.  Does god have to do things for us?  When he does not do we just say “oh well, never mind.”  Or do we blame him?  That’s a lot of pressure to put on a deity.  Praying for thing is much more common than praying in celebration of our life or just for the fuck of it.  Even when we pray thanking god for things its not cool.  It does not make us good people, just polite enough to thank someone for doing us a favour.  The sentiment is as selfish as when praying for things.

I just don’t get it, the need for it, the selfishness of it.  Praying for stuff does not bring us closer to god.  Thanking god for things working out does not do it.  People have confused prayer with asking for favours.  I even get emails from supposedly religious, god fearing folks telling me that the prayer they sent will help me in one way or another, if I send it to at least 10 people.  If I don’t some bad things are going to happen to me.  Really?!  I am to be scared into praying?  Or promised a reward?  Is this what prayer is about?  Am I to calculate the risk reward factor when deciding if I should pray.  These days it appears that only kids pray properly.  Because they have been brainwashed to and don’t know any better.  But as soon as they grow up they wont pray for free.

There is a great scene in a Polish film The Teutonic Knights, right before the great battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg 1410), both the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order and the Polish King say “everything is in god’s hands now, he will help his faithful servants.”  Poles won.  What did it mean?  Absolutely nothing.  It was a waste of time really.  At least for the Germans, god did not help them.  I also doubt that the Poles won because of prayer (I have a suspicion it might have been greater number and better tactics).  Plus there is that whole “we’re going to kill a shitload of people with god’s name on our lips” thing.  It just does not feel right.  Hell, it not right at all.  So again, why do we pray for stuff?  Its ineffective, its selfish, it does not bring us closer to god.  Basically its a waste of time and effort.  The Power of Prayer is just a slogan.  God is not here to do chores for us.  Yes, not even to help us live longer or to help keep our kids safe.  There is that whole free will thing that people forget about.

There is also lack of self responsibility.  We are responsible for our actions, not god.  We do shit to ourselves.  And sometimes things just happen for no reason.  God did not destroy New Orleans, a hurricane did.  There was not reason for it, just weather patterns.  Snow and rain cause floods, not god, why would god want to flood our homes and destroy our crops?  It wasn’t god’s will that New York got attacked.  Some mean fuckers who thought their god wanted them to did it.  They try to excuse their murders with god’s will.  There was no god’s plan that we don’t understand.  That’s just bullshit that those who claim to know god try to feed to people who are scared and are trying to understand why all this crap happens.  What kind of god would god want a 7 years old to get cancer?  That’s not a plan, that’s sadism.  God is not a sadistic freak.  Why are people trying to convince us otherwise.  Just because we have a problem getting a handle on this whole “why are we here” thingy, it does not mean we have to buy the stupidest answer people give us.  It makes no sense.  Is illogical, and it makes god into a bloodthirsty sadist.  There is no plan.  What logic is there?  The life on Earth is the only life we know.  Its short, and full of pain, but we are told we will suffer for eternity (yes eternity as in billions and billions of years + infinity) if we fuck something up at 21 and do not get a chance to repent.  What?  God is not to be feared, god should be loved and revered.  This universe place is cool.  Life can be great.

But no, we are brainwashed into being frightened all our lives and the only thing is we have to say to god is “please sir, can I have some more?”  Its not prayer, its begging.  We also apologise every five minutes.  Why?  God supposedly made a whole universe just for us.  He supposedly loves us above all species.  And some even believe he sent his son to to die for us.  Is this the same god that scares the shit out of us.  Is he there to just to feared or be our servant?  That is what our relationship with god became.  We don’t understand so we are afraid.  We are helpless so we pray.  But for what really, and what good will it do?

(disclaimer: the word “god” is deliberately typed with a small “g” (except when starting a new sentence as that would be just wrong), because I was not writing about any specific God, but about any god.  It was a generic thing, and not meant to belittle God or people’s faith in God, or the existence of God, so please, take no notice of that.  The rest of course, you are welcome to disagree with and debate.)

Published in: on December 12, 2009 at 3:17 am  Comments (2)  
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World Cup Draw Set- US to play England

Well here they are.  8 groups of 4 teams finally set for next June’s World Cup in South Africa.  There is the proverbial group of death, there are some easy groups, but its there World Cup.  Every match is a match of a lifetime.  Only 3 matches are played to get out of the group.  The idiots at ESPN are giddy with the US drawing England, Algeria and Slovenia.

While playing England is great, we have not faced them in the World Cup since 1950, where the shock of the WC happened and the little US team beat the mighty England 1-0.  60 years later England is still mighty, but the US is not just a team of amateurs.  We have players playing in very good European Leagues.  No amateurs this time.  England is still the favourite but they will not be taking the Americans for granted.

What gets me though is that our so called experts, Alexi Lalas, that idiot McNanaman, and others think this is an easy group.  Its not.  I have seen Slovenia several times in the qualifying stages.  They are a very talented and organized side.  Algeria will be no pushover either.  They work hard, are fairly talented and are dirty bastards.  There will be no quarter given.  US will need to play three great games to get out of the group.  And probably some luck.  Yes the draw could have been worse, but it could have been much better.

What is the group of death?  Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal and North Korea.  The Koreans are the dark horses in this.  They might lose each game 3 or 4 to nothing.  But they might surprise people.  No one knows, no one has seen them play much.  One of Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo, or Kaka, will not make it out of the group.

Time to look like an idiot now and make some predictions.  Group A:  France and Mexico will get out.  Uruguay barely qualified, and despite being hosts I just don’t see SA doing anything.   B: Argentina and South Korea will go through.  To me Greece is the weakest of the lot, Nigeria might just lose out to the hard working Koreans.  C: England, and I hate to say it, but Slovenia.  We luck out with playing England first, but they will be up for it under Capello and after missing the Euros.  Then we will face a must win game and might come up short.  D: Germany and Ghana will go out of a fairly even group, a real group of death, not much glamour there, not many shirt selling superstars, but a lot of good footballers.  Australia are not pushovers and were unlucky to lose to a dive of the Italian Grosso.  Serbia have Vidic, the Manchester United monster, and shined in qualifying winning their group that consisted of France and Romania.  E: Holland should win this group, the other three teams are fairly evenly matched, but I will go with the Dames edging Japan and Cameroon.  F:  Italy, with Paraguay edging Slovakia, New Zealand to provide points for their opponents and great highlights for their goalscorers.  G: Brazil will go through, and I am guessing Ivory Coast unless Portugal get their shit together or Cristiano Ronaldo carries them.  H: Spain will go, easily, with Chile.  Honduras are just happy to be there and the Swiss are not good enough.

My pick for the World Cup winner:  Brazil or England.

Team Previews can be found here and here

Published in: on December 4, 2009 at 2:23 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Wall- Roger Waters to Tour in 2010?

There is news that Roger Waters is seriously considering doing a live tour of The Wall next year.  The tour will possibly last through 2011, suggesting it may be a worldwide event.  A couple of weeks ago, the former drummer of Pink Floyd, Nick Mason was on the BBC’s Danny Baker show (just caught the podcast this week, hence the news is a little dated).  Nick pretty much confirmed that it is happening.  Roger’s manager confirmed he is seriously “considering it.”

It would be great.  It would bring The Wall to a whole new generation of music lovers, and of course, the elders would go for nostalgia.  The last time The Wall was performed live was almost two decades ago in Berlin near the location of the infamous Soviet built Berlin Wall.  It was a star studded line up of musicians, the show was magnificent.  Unfortunately I only saw it on TV, and then on tape and DVD.  I saw Roger’s shows in the 90’s a couple of times, brilliant.  As was David Gilmour’s Pink Floyd, the Division Bell Tour in 1994, the greatest musical experience of my life.

Pink Floyd will never be any more.  Rick Wright past away.  The rest of the guys said they wouldn’t be getting back together.  But Roger Waters doing The Wall would be the closest thing.  After all, he wrote the album pretty much by himself.  The Wall would be bigger than his recent solo tours.  It just has to be.  Pick Floyd never did things halfway.  I really hope that Roger decides to do this.  Stay tuned folks…

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm  Comments (5)  
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Seedings for the World Cup Draw Announced- South Africa 2010

See the first match between South Africa and Mexico review here

Squad Previews for the Upcoming WC can be found here and here

FIFA has announced World Cup draw seeds for the 2010 WC in South Africa.

Pot 1 (seeds): South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Holland, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England

Pot 2 (Asia, Oceania and North/Central America): Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Mexico, Honduras

Pot 3 (Africa and South America): Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay

Pot 4 (Europe): France, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark, Slovakia

The draw will take place on Friday Dec. 4, 2009.  Teams will be divided into 8 groups of 4 teams each.  Each country to play opposing team in the group once.  Top 2 advance to the straight knockout rounds.

Not many surprises in the seedings.  Only one might be seeing the the finalists of 2004 not in pot one.  Instead we have Holland there.  But no one will cry for France, seeing as they got there by cheating and they did not win their group, whereas Holland was the first to qualify out of Europe.  So potentially a very tough draw for the French.  South Africa is there because they are hosts.

Friday should provide for some interesting debates and fortune telling.  Can’t wait.

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 5:55 am  Comments (8)  
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