Sunday, July 29, 2007

Baghdad F.C.

Today the footballing world was stunned by what can be achieved by 22 men full of pride and determination. By "the footballing world" I mean the 95% of the globe that is obsessed with soccer, and the 22 men I'm referring to are the players on the Iraqi national team. Today Iraq pulled off on of the biggest upsets in soccer history, and achieved an incredible and historic victory by overcoming Saudi Arabia in the Asian cup final.

First, let me give you some background. The Asian Cup is a gigantic tournament that pits all the nations of Asia, from Lebanon to Japan (and now including Australia) against each other in order to crown the continent's best soccer team. Despite a better parity in quality than that found in Europe, the tournament is always dominated by South Korea, Japan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Iraq has never placed better than fourth, and that was long before the current situation over there began (in the 70s I believe). Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has won the tournament three times, and looked the favourites this year as well. The Iraqi captain, Younis Mahmoud, broke Saudi hearts with his excellently controlled headed goal late in the game to secure victory for Iraq.

It is very difficult for me to fully express the shock, and joy, I feel at seeing the Iraqi team overcome difficulties that would destroy most men. All 22 players have lost loved ones in the ongoing war in their homeland, and the team was forced into exile a few years ago due to security reasons. To see them triumph now is not only a victory for soccer and its ability to bring people together in times of hardship, but also a victory for humanity. These men have proved that even in the midst of pain and fear, it is possible to do great things.

Please keep these men and their families in your thoughts and prayers, along with everyone else who has been affected by war, violence, death, and pain. Ciao, e grazie.

Friday, July 20, 2007

What Did You Say?

Today I've decided to cannibalize one of my favourite webpages for some cheap laughs. The page is, and all it is is quotes from MSN, ICQ IRC etc., that people have sent in and get voted on. The ones I'm going to post here are just my favourites. For more, visit the page, I've got a link to it on the left somewhere.

-Real life should have a search function, or something. I need my socks.

-The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?

-the "bishop" came to our church today. he was an impostor, never once moved diagonally

- I swear to god I've just heard a duck tell a joke. ok there was as group of ducks on a pond near where i live. one of the ducks was quacking away looking straight at a group of like 10 ducks. then he stopped and all the other ducks went mental. it looked just like duck stand-up comedy

- BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA hahahahaha some girl just came onto our floor and was yelling "sexual favors for anyone who does my sociology paper". i just asked her what the paper was about and she said "the accomplishments and growth of feminism"

- i luv guyz where would they be wifout us gals??? -Still in the Garden Of Eden you gullible bitch.

- whats the complement to a 43 degree angle? - My you're looking "acute" today

- i beat the internet, the end guy is hard

- some girl on the street asked if i was saved yet. i told her i saved at the checkpoint a couple minutes back and can reload from there if i die. she was confused

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tutti Insieme?

How is it that crazy things all happen at the same time? This is a quick entry, but one that makes me think. Alot of crazy stuff happened within the same 24 hour period, and it just seems strange to me.

Ok, so my grandmother has had cancer for a few years now, but being a tough old Italian lady, she's been beating the snot out of it. That doesn't mean, however, that it's not taking its toll on her. She's weak, in pain, and my grandfather has to cook...which she hates, since he's not as good as her...though for the record, nobody is as good a cook as her.

This leads me to what happened. The other night my grandmother's brother died. Then her sister had a stroke due to shock. Next, my grandmother had to go to the hospital because her grief over her brother's death is making her feel even sicker.

So, a bunch of crazy stuff, right? Then, my brother breaks his ankle...but when I took him to the hospital, it turned out that he didn't break it at all. Instead, he tore all the ligaments that connect his foot to his leg...sweet. Now he's out for at least 6 weeks, and we have a funeral (and Italian funerals are frightening affairs, full of wailing, gnashing of teeth, beating of chests, and random dives into the coffin), and a hospital to go to...oh, and nobody shows up to work anymore, so I'm in a bit of a bind there too.

Excellent, this week looks great. Don't you just wish you were me? Then death and pain wouldn't be so scary since you'd be well acquainted with them by now.

Ok, that's it, I'm off. Ciao.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Ignorance is not Bliss

Ok, I spoke to a bunch of idiots at work over the past week, and I need to vent. So please, bear with me. I'll try to make it fast.

When I talk to people about our world, and particularly about how our society came into being, I am often struck dumb by two things. First, most people seem to be wholly unable to think clearly or critically about anything. They tend to make blanket statements that lack all meaning, they fail to make distinctions in order to properly examine an issue, and they often come up with spurious conclusions that have no support whatsoever, eg. "The Church could have ended knightly violence if they had tried"(um, they did try...very hard...for hundreds of years), or "A common language can unite people politically and socially just as well as a common religion or ethnicity"(never happened even once...ever).

The second thing I am disgusted by is the total ignorance of our past that most of our society seems to posses. They look at events occurring today, and lack all knowledge of how they came about. I see three major reasons for this ignorance. 1) The school system fails miserably at teaching any semblance of decent history. 2) Modern Western society is full of misconceptions and falsehoods about our past that the uneducated and the lazy tend to believe. 3) The fragmentary and disjointed nature of Western culture (eg. the cultural mishmash that is the internet) renders people incapable of linear, rational, critical thought, and thus incapable of comprehending the causality that has led to our society.

What can we do about this? Well, to start with, someone has to care enough to put both time and effort into changing things. The scholarly community needs to get its act together and change things, because the idiots have clearly taken over, and no good can possibly come of it.

Well, now that I'm calmer, and I'm done yelling at my keyboard, I can go to bed. Buonna Notte.

Er Santo di Roma

I was asking myself the other day why these idiots in North America fawn over celebrities so much. Why are dozens of magazines devoted to revealing the most intimate details of people we will never meet? Why do we even care? Why are these people worshipped like living gods? None of the answers I came up with made any sense to me, so if you have an opinion here, I would love to hear it. Anyways, I thought to myself, "how can I be a part of this crazy North America that turns heiresses into idols, and singers into saints?" Seeing as I am above all this petty celeb-worship, I decided that my peers are idiots, and I am the only sane person around. I mean, I'm probably the only person I know who never spent even a second worrying about Princess Diana's life or death...what in God's name does it have to do with me? I felt so superior, that I almost fell over when I realized that I am NOT exempt from idiotic hero fact, I'm just as bad as everyone else. The only difference is that I don't worship actors and singers, but (and I have this in common with most Italians) soccer players.

There is one man in particular who I hold up above all others: Fracesco Totti. Let me try to explain the reverence and awe that is felt for Totti in his home city of Rome. Totti is one of the best soccer players who ever lived, yet despite multi-million dollar offers, he has never played for any team but Roma (which is a second-rate team at best), and refuses to leave no matter what he is offered. He has the mark of the Roman legions, SPQR (senatus publicus quis Romanus) tattooed on his arm, and refuses to speak any Italian whatsoever, using only Roman dialect. Also, he resembles the paintings and statues of Emperors that abound in the city. Finally, Totti is a man of the people. He was born poor, acts like a peasant, and donates exorbitant amounts of money to the poor of Rome, as well as building schools and children's hospitals in Rome.

So, to Romans, who feel (and are) discriminated against by much of the rest of Italy, Totti is something of a hero. He is more Roman than Rome itself, the ideal that all Romans strive for, yet none can achieve. Needless to say, Francesco Totti is worshipped as a God, and even more extremely than any North American could worship an actor. Roman people refer to him as 'the king', but more recently he has taken on the name, The Patron Saint of Rome. People pray both to him, and for him. They swarm him on the streets hoping to touch him and receive his blessing. They throw their children at his feet in the hopes that his touch will bring them eternal luck. In short, Totti is treated the way saints, prophets, and holy men have been treated throughout history...and he is a soccer player.

Here, I could get into a long discussion about why our time worships people we see on TV in the manner that people in the past treated charismatic preachers. I could also get into a long discussion as to why Europeans treat celebrities with less awe than soccer players, while it is the opposite in North America. But, I'm not going to. What I want to stress here is two points. Firstly, although Totti's following may sound much like that of other celebrities, it is actually quite different. His has taken on a spiritual aura. He is simultaneously a hero, and icon, a cause, a man, and a saint, as well as a visual reminder of the past glories of Rome. This is far deeper than the cheap and fickle way in which North Americans idolize singers. Secondly, I realized that even I am not immune to the hero-worship that I was deriding earlier. Just because I revere soccer players rather than singers does not make me all that different (although I like to think that mine is a less tacky cause than Hollywood).

So, I guess you never know what you can learn about yourself, and the world around you when you least suspect it. For now, I'm going to watch some Totti highlights on youtube. Goodnight, and make sure you say a prayer for Er Pupone...may our Lord Francesco Totti watch over us all. Ciao.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

From The Dead

I have returned with news both good and bad. Well, let's start with the good: My new computer is up and running. It's fast, shiny, and has everything except the one program I actually need...I mean, how can I use a computer for homework without some sort of word-processing program? It makes no sense. Oh well, maybe I'll type my essays on wordpad...

Ok, now the bad news. I went to the hospital to check up on my asthma, and things aren't looking good. I'm down to 75% of normal lung function (the lowest I've ever been), and the doctors can't figure out why I keep getting bronchitis. So, they tripled my medication and ordered chest x-rays to see if something is going on in there. To be honest, I'm almost worried...more that I'll forget to take my meds than anything else. I've had 7 heart attacks, 3 major surgeries, and my heart has stopped twice, not to mention dozens of potentially life-threatening accidents I've had...if something was going to kill me it would have done so by now.

Finally, the worst news of all. I just realized that it's July 4th (or at least it was 2 hours ago). Aside from being some holiday down south, it also would have been my friend Cory's 25th birthday had he not dove off his apartment building a few years ago. Cory Nash was one of the greatest people I've ever known, and he is sorely missed by anyone who had even fleeting contact with him. Maybe he's in a better place, and maybe not. All I know is that anyone reading this had better have a drink in his name, or I'll come after you. Life fucked Cory harder than it had any right to, and the least we can do is drink to someone who would never have wanted us to mourn him...he hated to see ANY sadness in his friends.

So, as I end this, I wonder how it is that I have survived so much, while Cory did not. Am I stronger? Luckier? Sometimes these things just don't make any sense. Ciao for now, and say a prayer if you can. R.I.P Cory Nash.