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Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011
I have enjoyed this little foray into the blogoverse. I am not the type of person who feels that his thoughts need to be heard on every subject, and the weekly requirements have allowed me to practice this task. I don’t usually stay very up to date with the current events of this world, and this experience has also made me a little more aware of the politicos and their grasp on the human consciousness. However, I don’t feel that politics and current events should be something that are consistently revolved around. They may be tasks to act on, but speaking politics always makes enemies. I would’ve preferred to speak of matters closer to home, such as matters of the mind, discussing morality, or even the smaller trivialities in which we typically engage ourselves. In short, possibly a diary to discuss our thoughts, ideas, or many of the other minutia that collectively construct our lives.
I have created my own blog, coffeeandcancersticks, in which to closer report on the various introspections that truly matter to me. However, since I post all of my entries as private, I would not call it a blog so much as an internet diary, the lock and key version. I am not, by nature, a person who shares himself. Introverted as I may be, I feel that it is practice for the writing I plan to do in the future and a way to collect my thoughts and ruminations in a way that can be easily indexed or searched. However, I am not the stickler for due dates as much as these assignments have been. Rather, I prefer to melodically stroke upon hither keyboard when the ennui fades and the muses call my name. Writing is a passion for me and I would prefer to retain the complexities that come naturally to an inspired mind. Instead, when writing is assigned, it becomes much more bland. The honesty to the subject fades and what ensues will be more accurately described as literary vomit. They will be words thrown onto figurative paper, which hold no significance to the author. There is no pride from the writer in its creation. It is merely the means to an end; words for a grade. It is a saddening process. Words can be powerful when used in honesty, when you truly mean them. Blogging has the potential to be equally as powerful when done under a lack of confines.
Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2011
Germans take their drink very seriously, as they have one of the highest per capita alcohol consumption rates in the world. Germany regulates the production of their beer under a law called Reinheitsgebot, meaning “purity order,” but more easily translated as German Beer Purity Law. Under this law, only four ingredients are allowed in the production of an authentic German beer: water, barley, hops and yeast. Any beer containing additional ingredients, such as preservatives or sugar, is encouraged to market the product under a different name. However, there are no legal ramifications for violating this law, as it is more of a tradition (or a matter of German pride) than anything else. Listed are a few types of German beer and their variations:
Weizenbier/Weißbier – A typical wheat or “white” beer. Shown below are two such examples. The beer on the left is a Kristallweiss (crystal white) and the beer on the right is a Hefeweiss (yeast white). The difference in opaqueness between the two is due to the filtering process in the crystal beer, where the yeast is filtered completely out after the brewing. The beer on the right presents a thicker flavor, while the beer on the left is considered crisper.
Helles – The light beers. This is the largest and most widely encompassing group of beer. This includes the pale lagers, pilsners, and most bocks. They are characterized by an amber complexion and a sweet taste. We have a texas counterpart, or doppelganger, in the Shiner Bock brand. Incidentally, Shiner (Spoetzl Brewery) carries many of the varieties of the beer that I’ve listed here. They may be listed under different names (in example, Shiner Old-Time is an Altbier), but many are modeled after traditional German recipes and are very comparable in quality. For y’all 21 folk, Shiner offers tours two to four times daily. Taking a tour would both give you a chance to see the oldest brewery in Texas and provide you with an opportunity to learn more of the German influence in Texas culture. Oh, and beer.
Posted in Uncategorized on April 10, 2011
Recently, I have been transfixed with the topic of creation versus destruction and have managed to apply it towards many features in every day life. With creation comes destruction, and with destruction comes creation. Thus, the two are opposite sides of the same piece. Next, I will attempt to apply this same idea to the possible closure of the federal government. Even though the deadline for the budget to pass was Friday at midnight, I haven’t exactly been staying up to date with current affairs and don’t know if it went through or not. However, I have not noticed a difference in day to day life. It seems to me that if we were not to receive a federal budget, then matters of infrastructure would be left solely to the state, a form of government known as a Confederacy. With the destruction of one government would come the creation of another.
If the Federal government were to shut down necessary programs like the VA, I believe that the community would take over. In times of hardship it is for the common people to take notice, take control, and do something. It would be time to take one for the team. We’re all experiencing hardships, but some of us more than others. Those that could still spare a few dollars would be obliged to help funding, and those that can’t could still spend some of their spare time volunteering to cover the positions left vacant by the furloughed Federal employees. With the destruction of an overseeing government comes the creation of a greater sense of community and responsibility. This world lives in balances. Similarly, the old adage “when one door closes, another door opens.” I believe these ideas would both ring true in the instance of a Federal government shutdown.
America is a country founded from the “poor, huddled masses” which has worked its way up to be the richest country on Earth. We are a hard working people and, no matter what, I am proud to be one of the many striving for the continuance of social justices. A temporary haltage in government would only be a speed bump. It will slow us down, but we will speed up right back and get back on track. We will continue to improve and take situations into command. We are the leader of the free world and it’s our duty to provide an example of how a country should be run. Get back on the horse and let’s go. Let’s not get hung up on a personal opinion. Concentrate on what’s right and what it means to be American and you should know how to fix this problem.
Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2011
Germany is famous for many foods and cuisines. Many dishes have become anglicized and are familiar to the average American, but most still are completely unknown. I would like to present a few of these dishes to you, but in the effort of fairness I will only show you the ones I’ve experienced myself – most of which are bizarrely delicious. Keep in mind I’m no professional food critic. My knowledge of German is greater than my knowledge of food. Side note: you’ll notice many names of the foods are accompanied by a location. In Germany, as well as in other parts of Europe, specialty foods are strongly connected to locations and possess great pride in their creations. Also, nouns are capitalized in German.
Let’s start off with a breakfast item. For breakfast it’s common and traditional to eat large helpings of meats and cheeses, but in the more modern, rushed world Müsli has become a favorite. It’s a cereal made from oats, fruits, and nuts. It’s similar to trail mix in milk and is very chewy. Alternately, you can trade the milk out for yogurt. It’s filled with complex carbohydrates and provides a long lasting source of energy with a not-bad taste.
Schnitzel is a cutlet of meat fried in batter. To get a mental image, chicken fried steak is the bastardized version of schnitzel brought to Texas by German immigrants. However, instead of low quality beef steak, Wiener Schnitzel (Schnitzel from Vienna) is made from delicious veal.
Kirsch Schokolade = two things Germans love: chocolate and alcohol. Also known as Weinbrand Bohnen (brandy beans), it is a bite-sized piece of milk or dark chocolate filled with a couple of milliliters of brandy or Schnapps. That’s right, a shot of hard liquor with your candy. You can get trashed from a decent sized box of them and still get the sugar/caffeine high from the chocolate. It’s like an old German version of Four Loko.
Düsseldorfer Löwensenf. The name translates to lion’s mustard from Dusseldorf. Supposedly, the name refers to the intensity of the mustard’s bite. Though not necessarily a food as much as a condiment, I feel that it’s worth including merely because it’s one of the only spicy items you’ll find in Germany. However, it’s very, very spicy. I ate a bratwurst pita sandwich with this mustard on it at Wurstfest a few years back. I was probably a bit more liberal with it than I should’ve been and it ruined my world for about thirty minutes.
Though I’ve only included a few samples here, you should have a decent idea of some of the stuff Germans like to eat. It’s all very good and I’m always trying more when I get the opportunity. If you are interested in trying some of this stuff out, there’s huge selections every year at Wurstfest in New Braunfels. It’s my Mecca. You can come with and I’ll show you the ropes.
The question of the hour is whether or not it is ethical to consider American safety repercussions of using nuclear energy in the aftermath of Japan’s recent disaster. My answer: yes. It may seem a little untimely, but you have to remember that the average American has a short attention span and will only take notice of such a topic once such a dramatic story as Japan’s is still fresh on their mind. If a reform over nuclear energy were to take place, then it will have to take place quickly. According to the CIA World Factbook, Japan has a Gross Domestic Product of just over 5 trillion USD, ranking them third richest (within only a few billion from overtaking China) on the planet. Japan is a very rich country and can handle itself in the rebuild. Their largest loss is that of human lives, with a death toll expected to reach 20,000. Unfortunately, there are no ways to reclaim these lives and focus must shift on preventing another nuclear disaster from occurring. It only follows logically that we must protect our own and research safer ways of harnessing this energy.
There are 104 nuclear energy facilities in the United States and two in Texas. The Texas facilities, each with two reactors, are located in Bay City and Comanche Peak. However, the Comanche Peak plant has plans to add two more reactors onsite. In addition, both A&M and UT possess research reactors for scientific research that pose low threat. However, I have no stiff opinion over nuclear energy. It is a process that I only vaguely understand, but recognize as cleaner than burning coal and dirtier than wind energy. Thus, I am decidedly ambivalent. My main concern is for our health and the health of our young ‘uns. Safety first and all that jazz.
I do not doubt that the media puts fear into the minds of some of the more easily deceived. They made Americans fear that they would be poisoned by Japan and that they need to go out and buy Iodine tablets. In this video, Glenn Beck says that Jesus sent the earthquake to Japan because they made the Prius. Although he is a major news correspondent, it’s an objective opinion that this guy is just batshit insane. However, people listen to him and believe what he says. Him and people like him use fear to pull in viewers and this is the unethical portion of the coverage over Japan.
With this blog post, I’ve decided to take a break from the usual longwinded, war-based patterned blogs that I have been tending towards. Instead I will tell you a little about Ludwig der Zweite, the person responsible for all of the majestic castles found throughout Bavaria (the southernmost German state). Ludwig II became king of Bavaria at the age of 18 after the death of his oppressive father Maximilian II. Named after his grandfather, Ludwig der Erste, Ludwig der Zweite was destined to take after the eccentric side of the royal family. Between the intense regimens of politics and financing classes his father would make him take in his youth, Ludwig II would sneak out of Nymphenburg Palace, the house of his family, to explore the Black Forest with his grandfather – who would tell him traditional fairy tale stories that captured his imagination. Thus, beginning Ludwig II’s reputation as der Märchenkönig (the fairy-tale king).
As soon as he became king, good ol’ Louis Two began reallocating taxpayer’s money to finance more liberal aspirations, such as the majority of Richard Wagner’s operatic works, and the castles that gave Walt Disney wet dreams.
If it were not for Ludwig II, much of Wagner’s works would not have been accomplished, due to Wagner’s personal reputation as a philanderer and was in constant debt and in danger of being jailed for running from debt collectors. I am a bit of a classical music nerd, so I feel that just by enabling Wagner to write entitles him to at least a trophy or something. I mean, damn. Back in his day, Wagner was akin to a heavy metal god. The elderly found his music offensive, and the young went out and got in fights after the show just to burn off some of the remaining adrenaline.
After 22 years of spending taxpayers’ money on such ridiculously awesome things as a grotto in the middle of a castle, Ludwig II mysteriously died on the shore of the Starnberger Lake. His body was found next to the body of his walking partner, and the official ruling was suicide by drowning. However, an autopsy revealed no water in his lungs and much later an eye-witness stated that he saw the king shot twice in the back by a small group of taxpayers seeking revolution. To this day it is not clear why the specifics of his death were covered up, but it cannot be denied that the beauty he left on this world was real.
Posted in Uncategorized on March 13, 2011
I firmly believe that it is not in anybody’s best interest for the United States, or even any other Western power, to become involved in the situation in Libya. Africa and the Middle East collectively have almost what seems to be a tradition of corruption in government. Correlatively, the West has a tradition of ignoring the plights of these countries. The most surprising feature of the Libyan state of affairs is the amount of Western attention it has received. How is Libya any different than the rebellions in Niger, Guinea, Mauritania, or Guinea-Bissau? All of which occurred within this last half-decade.
Ever since the Berlin Conference of 1884, Africa has seen more than its fair share of war and self indulgences. Due to the rich supply of resources, including slave trade, the European powers essentially outlined the rules for divvying up Africa. Big names in the field were Spain, Portugal, Britain, Italy, Belgium, England, and Germany. Each of these countries made stakes. Indeed, it’s not a short list. With no regard for ethnic or social boundaries, the European countries split up Africa to their own ends. This has caused much turmoil to this day. With no uniting factors many African countries have no reason to stick together, besides their artificial boundaries – which they had no part in staking. This has left many corrupt dictators and monarchists to do as they choose since the majority of Europe has pulled themselves from Africa. Libya is not to be unincluded from this mess.
In order to fix Libya, a much larger overhaul would be necessary. Polls would have to be taken and the entire continent would have to be geographically surveyed and gerrymandered. Obviously, this is a much larger undertaking than any country or groups of countries would be willing to take on. And still not everybody would be happy. War would conclude until every person in Africa has a vendetta on another. While my heart goes out to Libya, and the rest of Africa, I really don’t believe there is a way to prevent war. It is simply inevitable in this continent. I know it is very sad, and it does sadden me as well, but from my comprehension there is just no way to protect this continent from war. It must play out and hopefully it will heal its own wounds.
Posted in Uncategorized on March 3, 2011
In 1923, Hitler began attracting support for the new cause of a National Socialist Party. In what would become known as the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler sought to meet with Gustav von Kahr, the de facto leader of Bavaria, and politely inform him under gunpoint that he is performing a coup and demanded support. The next day, Hitler was arrested for treason and his supporters dispersed by the police. By the time of his trial, Hitler had attracted more attention than a hipster in heat. His trial had become a national spectacle. Many came to the trial because they agreed with his politics, and many more just wanted to catch a glimpse of his chic ‘stache. Despite their opinions, he was sentenced to five years in Landsberg prison, just West of Munich. During his stay, Hitler received much fan mail, presumably filled with glitter and sealed with kisses. It was under this encouragement that he wrote Mein Kampf, an autobiography which had sold 10 million copies by the end of the war. The book described in detail Hitler’s struggles as a WWI soldier underneath a government full of “lies, stupidity, and cowardice.” Upon his release he had risen into national prominence. Immediately he began centralizing a more organized party, with himself as leader.
In 1930, the German Great Depression occurred, once again leaving Germany with a collapsed economy. The still young Weimar Republic crashed just as swiftly as it was formed, fading into the obscurity of really hard Trivial Pursuit questions. As a result, the Nazi party gained favor among the repeatedly abused German public and the National Socialists rose to the position of second largest party (coming in second to Holly Madison’s famed “World’s Largest Pool Party”). Hitler was appointed as a delegation administrator by the Minister of Brunswick, which awarded Hitler a position of German citizenship, replacing his rights as a citizen of Austria which he had previously renounced. German citizenship was key to Hitler. Using it, he could now run against Paul von Hindenberg for the then-Democratic German 1932 presidency. He ran his campaign under the slogan “Hitler über Deutschland” (Hitler over Germany), which alluded to his plans for dictatorship and presented just a pure lack of creativity in sloganing. With little wonder, he lost the election. However, President Hindenberg appointed Hitler as Chancellor of the NSDAP (Nazi Party). The Nazis, not being ones to stop while they’re ahead, took it a step further and pushed the approval of the Enabling Act which, with the support of other parties, would boost Hitler’s powers to that of a dictator’s.
Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2011
The recent announcement of Borders Group, inc. filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy is something that has effected me personally. I am an avid reader; I’m the kind of person that is always carrying around my current read – from Dostoyevsky to Vonnegut. I used to live only a couple miles from the South Austin location that’s closing down, a location that I have frequented since its opening. I’ve even put in an application there on a couple of occasions. I went there today to do a little research. There was a twenty percent off sale and the place was packed. There were lines almost to the back wall of the store to check out – far more people than I have ever seen in the store before. I think that’s sad. Twenty percent off isn’t a terribly huge sale, yet it attracted that many “readers.” I feel that if that many people had even bought a single book there, Borders might not even be in this predicament. To nonfair-weather fans of literature, price is not a factor in which they would put much stock. However, even though I would thoroughly disagree, to many people literature is superfluous. When times are tough any extraneous costs are cut. It’s an understandable thought process.
However, from a financial viewpoint, I think that this is a good thing. If a business can’t manage itself well enough to hold its own in the market, then it probably doesn’t deserve to remain an engaged corporation. Though I’m not a Republican, I don’t believe that government bailouts are a good option. They hurt Americans as a whole to maintain poorly managed establishments. The failings of Blockbuster and Borders should put fear into the hearts of other businesses and keep the “too big to fail” ideology to a minimum. This should actually improve the future of American commercing.
However, we can’t allow this commercial failing to effect the actions of the public. Economics works on the fabled system of supply and demand. If the average American becomes too afraid of their fiscal future, the demand portion of the scales deteriorates. If demand lowers, then supply would have to match by downsizing – which would lose many people their jobs. This would lead into a deadly spin-cycle called a depression. What we need to do is keep the spirit of the 90s alive. Everything will be phat (to use term speech). Please view the following video if you have any doubts.
Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2011
Because I am a student of the German language at Texas State University, for my blog topic I have chosen to report on Germany and the German life. I would like to begin with a brief introductory lesson. The land known as Germany (officially The Federal Republic of Germany) is an ancient land that began as a group of Germanic tribes as early as 750 BCE. A historical constant associated with the German peoples has always been that of a loud, overzealous mob. During the reign of the Holy Roman Empire, there was only one culture that the Romans feared. You got it. The term “barbarian” was specifically coined by the Romans to describe these war-hungry, bearded neighbors-to-the-North.
Fast forward to 1914 – The Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated by a Serbian, resulting in several chains of hastily formed alliances. Austria, Germany’s Mexico, sought aid from Germany. In the Battle of Liège, the first battle of the war, Germany invaded Belgium. Armed with 17-inch howitzers, Germany made progress at laying siege to the Belgium forts. However, due to the slow nature of siege tactics, France and Britain had time to organize themselves to prepare for the oncoming war. Britain declared war on Germany and open warfare broke out between the two. Because of the isolated nature of the British aisles, much of the fighting between Britain and Germany took place in the air and the sea, mostly through biplanes and U-boats, respectively. However, due to strides in zeppelin technology, Germany gained the first upper hand. The German Luftwaffe had the technological advantage and laid waste to England – setting much of London aflame with bombs. 1917 marked the changing of the flow of war. The Russian Bolsheviks dropped out of the war, leaving the Central Powers to focus their power on the Western front, but (coerced by the torpedoing of the Lusitania) the Americans brought a swift end to any thoughts of Central European victory.
The end of this supposed “war to end all wars” left Germany in shambles. Although the Great War left most of Germany untouched by war, hyperinflation took place and the Reichsmark was left worthless. The contents of the prodigal wheelbarrows of money were worth less than the wheelbarrows themselves. The German Volk were angered and blamed the war on the German aristocracy. A revolt broke out and the Weimar Republic was formed almost overnight – leaving a clear path for new leadership to arise under der Drittes Reich.