Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

May 30, 2011

The 21 foot rule

Filed under: Martial arts — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:30 am

I’ve blogged about knives and their use in the martial arts category. At Wim Demeer’s site I just found Danny Inosanto teaching some cops exactly how dangerous it is to approach anyone with a knife.

It must be stressed, these encounters are for training purposes – but are totally unrehearsed. Knives are easier to conceal about one’s person than guns, and easier to access and deploy.

Some countries in Europe have banned any kind of knife carry. Some authorities in England have even proposed mandating that all kitchen knives be made without a point! Lot’s of luck guys.

May 29, 2011

CNN does it again in Poland

Filed under: Media bias — Stephen W. Browne @ 7:56 am

I’m kicking myself right not for not knowing how to do a screen capture, ’cause I just missed a doozy.

I saved the link http://www.cnn.com/video/flashLive/live.html?stream=stream4&hpt=T2
but unfortunately all I get now is a black screen and a voice commercial.

Somebody at CNN caught it I guess, because a search of the archives gets a correct story to go with the picture.

What was originally there was a short article on CNN’s website saying President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.

Well as it happens, my apartment is about five blocks from the Grob Nieznany Zolnierz in Plac Pilsudskiego. That’s to one side of Saski Park, which bordered the Warsaw ghetto and the great Tlomatski Synagogue before the ghetto uprising. My father-in-law was at one time the commander of the honor guard at the tomb. We used to go there to watch the changing of the guard sometimes.

The picture accompanying the article showed Obama at the ghetto memorial, not the Tomb. Not just a mis-identified picture, a whole ‘nuther event entirely. I don’t know if Obama did anything at the Tomb.

Long-time readers may remember my story of how CNN did this some years back when I was still living in Poland. They had a report on TV about some action taken by the Sejm (parliament) in Warsaw. They reported as a voiceover with video clip.

The clip showed a building with mountains in the background.

There are no mountains anywhere near Warsaw.

The sign on the building said, “Urjad Miasto Zakopanego,” or “City Hall of Zakopane.”

Zakopane is a ski resort town and artists colony in the mountains near the Slovakian border, known as the “winter capitol” of Poland. It is as far away from Warsaw as it’s possible to be and still be within the country.

Nice going CNN. I wonder how much of this goes on that I don’t catch?

May 20, 2011

Ruminations, May 20

Filed under: Ruminations — Stephen W. Browne @ 10:11 am

* OK, IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn has really stepped in it this time.

I know, I know, innocent until proven guilty. But the mere arrest and charge has been enough to unearth a lot of not-too-deeply buried stuff about the same kind of behavior he’s been getting away with for some time now.

And why has he been getting away with it? Well for one, he’s French. For another, he’s socialist royalty.

Everyone else has said just about everything you can say on the subject. The French are really blase about this kind of behavior, socialists are really aristocratic snobs with a populist veneer, etc. All true, to be a socialist in this day and age requires an ability to believe things of breath-taking absurdity with passionate conviction.

It also requires rock-hard solidarity with fellow socialists when it comes to throwing the proletarians under the bus. But we always knew that. In DSK’s case, it appears that one victim’s own mother, a socialist politician, persuaded her not to make le scandale. Not from fear she’d be savaged by the French media, but pour la cause.

That young lady evidently was merely groped and had her clothes torn. I wonder what Maman would have said if she’d been actually raped, but then again maybe I don’t want to know. If her daughter had been forced to give DSK oral sex, as he allegedly forced the African maid, would she have used the Clinton defense “It’s not really sex”?

About the French… it’s difficult to say what les peuple think, as opposed to the aristos who own and run the media. There was that bit of a shocker when Roman Polanski was facing extradition a while back, when some policiticians had to back away a bit when they found that lo and behold, a majority of French actually supported sending him back to face trial among those barbarous Americains.

It does seem very evident that the aristos of La Belle France are shocked, shocked, to find the Americans actually believe that merde about “one law for the rich and poor alike,” however poorly we live up to it. (Chappaquidick ring a bell? Michael Kennedy and the 14-year-old babysitter?)

* The “adult baby,” 30-year-old Stanley Thornton Jr. has been living on disability. He’s 350 pounds and likes to wear diapers and be coddled by his long-term companion, who is evidently also living off public assistance.

This has to be seen to be believed. I was going to post a picture or a link, but I find I can’t bear to look at it again, so I’ll spare you. That’s one of those pictures I wish I could get out of my head.

I remember I heard about something called “baby play” when I was covering a Gay Pride march in Oklahoma City for a journalistm class. Also something called “bear play” which sounds weird, but not repulsive.

Do I have to say again that I don’t care what consenting adults do in private? I do reserve the right to my own opinion though, and speaking as a man who’s changed a lot of diapers in my time… no, I don’t want to go there.

What made this a public issue versus private kinkiness, is the fellow’s defiant, whining, insistence on his right to live on the dole. He threatens suicide if the public teat is removed.

“I have no problem killing myself. Take away the last thing keeping me here, and see what happens. Next time you see me on the news, it will be me in a body bag,” he said.

So here’s my question. What’s wrong with saying, “OK, everyone has the right to elect the time and manner of his own destruction. See you in the body bag”?

I mean that literally, what’s wrong with saying that?

* And on a related note, Leroy Fick, 59, won $2 million in the Michigan state lottery and still collects food stamps.

“If you’re going to try to make me feel bad, you’re not going to do it,” he said.

Of course we aren’t going to make him feel bad by pointing at him with scorn. He likes the attention. This is the same kind of in-your-eye to society I used to see in Warsaw where homeless people would defacate in the elevators installed in the underground walkways under busy intersections for the convenience of the handicapped and mother’s with baby carriages.

My question in this case is, would somebody like to make him feel bad with their fists please?

May 18, 2011

Will Santa Claus be a Danish citizen?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 6:55 pm

Note: Cross-posted on my newspaper blog at the Marshall Independent. I don’t have a column there as I did at my former paper, I have a blog. You might be interested in how I adapt my writing style to different audiences.

In a report leaked to the press and reportedly confirmed by Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen, the Kingdom of Denmark is going to ask the United Nations to be recognized as the owner of the North Pole.

The Copenhagen Press reports, “The kingdom is expected to make a demand for the continental shelf in five areas around the Faroe Islands and Greenland, including the North Pole itself.”

There are five countries with coasts along the Arctic Ocean: Denmark, Russia, Canada, Norway, and the United States. But none of the others are pressing claims, or seem to have any plans to object to Denmark’s claim, even though the U.S. could press a claim based on prior right of discovery. Either Matthew Peary or Frederick Cook got to the Pole first, or maybe neither of them hit the Big Nail exactly, but in any case Americans have been going up there by dogsled and nuclear submarine for a while now.

Denmark qualifies through it’s ownership of Greenland, which they owned as a colony from 1814 until 1953, when Greenland officially became an equal part of the Danish kingdom. In 1979 Greenland gained home rule as part of a federal union in which Greenland exercises autonomy in a number of areas, while Denmark handles defense, laws, courts, international relations. Not to mention a subsidy of $633 million, or about $11,300 per inhabitant per year.

Greenland has an area of about 836,000 square miles, most of it covered by ice, and a population of about 56,000, 88 percent of whom are native Inuit, the now-preferred term for the people we used to call Eskimos. Danes make up most of the other 12 percent, and pretty much run things by all accounts.

In case you wondered, that’s a population about one-hundredth that of Denmark, living on an island fifty times the size of that country. That’s three times the size of Texas, or the size of Sweden, Germany, France, Spain and Great Britain put together. The capitol city Nuuk, is a little bigger than Marshall, Minnesota and is not known as a happening place.

One wonders why the Danes bother with Greenland, seeing as how it’s a money-losing proposition for them. The U.S. offered to buy Greenland in 1946, but the Danes said no. Perhaps they’re still kicking themselves for selling the Virgin Islands to the U.S. back in 1917. It does seem bad judgment to let a tropical paradise go and keep the big icebox.

The Danes may be hoping to tap oil and mineral resources below the continental shelves.

Well good for them I say. Because it’s not likely anybody else could get away with it.

Consider, the U.S. government makes oil companies jump through expensive hoops to drill offshore and/or in the arctic to the point it’s just not worth it for most companies. But the U.S. would fight any Russian claim tooth and nail, Norway has offshore oil closer to home, and Canada just doesn’t seem interested.

Plus, there is that imperialism thing. Greenland’s overwhelmingly native population is to all intents and purposes ruled by a European governing class. What other European country could get away with that these days? We certainly couldn’t.

The Danes are just too gosh-darned nice to picture as imperial oppressors, and their near-monopoly of government in Greenland seems to stem more from the Inuit people’s indifference to government than any evil designs on the part of the Danes.

But the important question is, would Danish ownership of the North Pole make Santa Claus a Danish citizen?

There has long been a strong claim Santa is Sami. That’s the now-preferred term for the indigenous peoples of the European arctic previously called Lapps. They’re the pale, blond, blue-eyed people who get such funny looks whenever they show up at international conferences of indigenous peoples.

But maybe Santa is Danish. After all, he traditionally wears the Danish national colors.

May 12, 2011

Pfaugh on the critics, Thor is great!

Filed under: Movies — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:51 pm

I’m rattling around in a big house alone while my wife and kids finish out the school year in North Dakota before joining me. So on lonely weekends I’m sure glad there’s a six screen movie theater in town.

Last weekend I saw Thor in spite of some bad reviews. For one, I was a Marvel comics fan in my youth. For another – I find it hard to believe that Kenneth Branagh could make a bad movie. It’s one of my minor life ambitions to own every one of his Shakespeare movies. (I’ve seen “Henry V” in three different countries – and it’s interesting to watch how an audience in Eastern Europe reacts to the line, “I love France so much I will not part with a village of it.”)

So I went, not expecting any more than a rolicking good time, like the “Iron Man” movies.

It was great! They found the perfect actor to play the God of Thunder in the Marvel mode. (In Norse myth, Thor was called “the Redbeard,” not “The Hunk with flowing gold locks.”)

Natalie Portman made up for playing in the no-class vulgar piece of crap “Your Highness.” Jane Foster is much better as a strong-willed scientist than a wimpy nurse. The former secret identity “Dr. Donald Blake” was thankfully done away with.

The CGI Asgaard and Bifrost Bridge are great, and the euhemerization of the myths is well done. The character development proceeds a little to rapidly to be realistic, but hey it’s a movie.

So why the bad reviews?

Well, for one mainstream reviewers just don’t understand genre pics. For another, this is the Age of the Wimp, which makes artsy-fartsy reviewers of movies about strong, lusty, heroic archtypical characters uneasy.

And why did Kenneth Branagh, the world’s greatest interpreter of Shakespeare make a movie based on a comic book?

Well, maybe that’s where you find the spirit of Shakespeare in this day and age.

May 11, 2011

Are we too civilized?

Filed under: Terrorism,War — Stephen W. Browne @ 7:16 am

I’ve been busy, so I haven’t commented on the death of Osama bin Ladin, and it’s not like there was a dearth of comment anyway.

And frankly, it’s been much more interesting to wait and see what the reaction has been. Osama himself really wasn’t a very interesting person.

Think about it, if he hadn’t done what he’d done, do you think he’d have attracted any attention as a fiery Islamist preacher? Other than as a figure of fun for late-night comics that is.

There’s been the usual soft-headed logic of those who think Osama should have been given “due process.”

Yes of course, just like when the Greatest Generation hit the beaches of Normandy armed with writs, summons, and legal injunctions telling the Nazis to suspend all concentration camp operations and executions of hostages pending further investigation.

Boy that showed them!

Then there was Heinz Uthmann, the judge in at the Labor Court in Hamburg, who filed criminal charges against German Chancellor Angela Merkel for “rewarding and approving an intentional homicide,” after she expressed pleasure at the death of bin Ladin.

You know, I believe some day it’s going to be impossible for even the most cowardly and muddle-headed to deny that our civilization is at war. Against that day, shouldn’t somebody be keeping a list? I suggest the categories on that list might include: useful idiots, appeasers, and collaborators.

Then there are those who approve of bin Ladin’s killing on principle, but think the boisterous American rejoicing was somehow vulgar and unseemly.

Lately I have meditated a lot on one of those one-line gems of wisdom Thomas Sowell tosses off with such apparent ease.

“If the battle for civilization comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win.”

Mark Steyn pointed out when General Gorden’s death at Khartoum was avenged by Lord Kitchener at Omdurman, he had the corpse of the Mahdi dug up and took his skull for a paperweight.

At first, I thought the disposal of bin Ladin’s body was seemly and civilized. After hearing the outpouring of wimpishness from American and Europe – I say he should have been treated more like Danny Pearl’s body was.

Cut it in pieces, take his skull for the Smithsonian, and for good measure bury the rest of him in a pig yard.

Oh, and I see Omar bin Ladin is actually making noises about suing over his father’s death.

Let him show up in court. Then shoot him.

No wait, that’s an honorable death. Lynch him.

May 8, 2011

Hoo boy did I luck out!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:17 am

My family is still back in North Dakota until the end of the school year. In the meantime I’m ettling into new job and new house – and thereby hangs a tale.

I was looking for a house with two, maybe three bedrooms if it wasn’t too dear. First I stumbled across a smallish two-bedroom that looked OK, because it had a lot of storage space in the detached garage.

Too bad it had water in the basement. That’s a deal-breaker, we had to move out of one place after the basement got damp, because my son seems to be highly allergic to mold.

Then I found a beautiful place with a fenced yard on a cul-de-sac. Oops, missed it by less than a week.

So one evening I checked out a movie, and afterwards wandered into a bar.

No, no, no! A respectable bar filled with middle-aged people.

At any rate, some were talking about real estate, how tough the rental housing market was, and how those with houses to rent kind of didn’t like the fact the primary customer base is college students.

Do I have to explain to anyone students are kind of hard on houses?

At any rate, I was shooting the bull with a gentleman who turned out to be a real estate guy, who said, “I think I can get you a house.”

Boy did he ever!

An elderly gentleman retired and moved into a smaller place. He had a house on the market for a year – not moving. The agent talked him into renting it out for a year to see if the market might recover in that time.

It’s got four bedrooms upstairs, a wood-paneled study to die for, a huge living room, attached garage that’s going to be my martial arts school, (my bud Terry Gibson started out that way,) and a basement I can move into during the winter.There’s a nice yard, but not so big it’ll be a hassle to take care of.

Price?

Less than we’re paying for the cramped duplex in Valley City.

I told my wife, “You’ll love it, but don’t get used to it. This fell out of heaven into our laps.”

There is one teensy little caveat, it’s heated with fuel oil. You have to buy that in big lots evidently, like a three-month heating bill that falls on you all at once. However I’ve found a company that has a plan you can estimate a year’s average consumption and spread the payment out on a month-to-month basis.

So next steps:

1) Get family moved.
2) Get martial arts lessons advertising.
3) Get moving on plans to self-syndicate columns.

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