Monday, October 31, 2005

A Fatwa on Football

From the Guardian Unlimited. A fatwa on football (soccer). I thought it was amusing.

The legal opinions proclaimed by Islamic scholars, known as fatwas, have proliferated in the Muslim world since the 1980s. The growth in fatwas - some of them contradictory - has led to debate over who can legitimately issue them. As part of a government drive to eliminate frivolous fatwas, the Saudi newspaper Al Watan recently published one such edict setting out new rules for football. We publish an edited translation below.

In the name of God the merciful and benevolent:

1. International terminology that heretics use, such as "foul," "penalty", "corner," "goal", "out" and others, should be abandoned and not said. Whoever says them should be punished and ejected from the game.

2. Do not call "foul" and stop the game if someone falls and sprains a hand or foot or the ball touches his hand, and do not give a yellow or red card to whoever was responsible for the injury or tackle. Instead, it should be adjudicated according to Sharia rulings concerning broken bones and injuries.

3. Do not follow the heretics, the Jews, the Christians and especially evil America regarding the number of players. Do not play with 11 people. Add to this number or decrease it.

4. Play in your regular clothes or your pyjamas or something like that, but not coloured shorts and numbered T-shirts, because shorts and T-shirts are not Muslim clothing. Rather, they are heretical and western clothing, so beware of imitating their fashion.

5. If you have fulfilled these conditions and intend to play soccer, play to strengthen the body in order better to struggle in the way of God on high and to prepare the body for when it is called to jihad. Soccer is not for passing time or the thrill of so-called victory.

6. Do not play in two halves. Rather, play in one half or three halves in order to completely differentiate yourselves from the heretics, the corrupted and the disobedient.

7. If neither of you beats the other, or "wins", as it is called, and neither puts the leather between the posts, do not add extra time or penalties. Instead leave the field, because winning with extra time and penalty kicks is the pinnacle of imitating heretics and international rules.

8. Young crowds should not gather to watch when you play because if you are there for the sake of sports and strengthening your bodies as you claimed, why would people watch you? You should make them join your physical fitness and jihad preparation, or you should say: "Go proselytise and seek out morally reprehensible acts in the markets and the press and leave us to our physical fitness."

9. You should spit in the face of whoever puts the ball between the posts or uprights and then runs in order to get his friends to follow him and hug him like players in America or France do, and you should punish him, for what is the relationship between celebrating, hugging and kissing and the sports that you are practising?

10. You should use two posts instead of three pieces of wood or steel that you erect in order to put the ball between them, meaning that you should remove the crossbar in order not to imitate the heretics and in order to be entirely distinct from the soccer system's despotic international rules.

11. Do not do what is called "substitution," that is, taking the place of someone who has fallen, because this is a practice of the heretics in America and elsewhere.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Run-In I Shall Never Forget

Well, since most people seem to enjoy this blog the most when I write about my travels, I thought that today I might give you just what you asked for. Here's a little story from my trip to Europe that I forgot to write about while I was there (hard to believe I missed it, as it's pretty good). Anyway, hope you enjoy it.

If you remember from reading NegativeMode in August, I traveled to Europe. I went to over ten countries, lots of cities, etc. The last country I was in before returning home was Germany (if you don't count the stopover in Iceland). While in Munich, PositiveMode and I rented motorcycles and rode south, through the Alps, and into Austria. If you don't remember, or didn't know in the first place, you can read about that trip here.

So, during our ride, just as we passed back into Germany from Austria, PositiveMode and I pulled off of the side of the road to rest, drink some water, and enjoy the German Alps. We were in an idyllic town just at the foothills of the Alps, on the edge of a stream. There were even some cows wandering near-by with bells on their necks. Very Sound of Music. While we were relaxing, PositiveMode went into a nearby shop to purchase a few pretzels, a gold chain, and some chewing gum. Meanwhile, I wandered down the stream and a bit further into the woods. I was looking for a nice place to refill my water bottle, when wafting out through the trees, I heard what I thought were elfin voices singing, along with the sound of an accordion. I followed the noise as it grew louder. After about 50 meters, the singing stopped, but the accordion was melodically playing on. I continued towards the sound, when I reached a small clearing in the heavily wooded area. What I saw amazed me. There, staring forlornly into the distance was a lone Bavarian Highlander, outfitted in full lederhosen, playing a wistful dirge on his accordion. It turns out, he was staring up at something in the trees. Luckily, I was able to snap this picture:

I asked the wistful Highlander what he was staring at, and he slowly pointed to the trees. There, to my astonishment, were 9 dwarfs, drinking beer and playing Scatergories. Unfortunately, as soon as they saw me, they vanished, as if into thin air. Although startled, I asked the Highlander what just happened, was my mind playing tricks on me? The Highlander just smiled:

He then began stomping his feet rhythmically, smiling maniacally, and laughing like a mad man. For three seconds, silence. Then, as if he knew I was a native Pennsylvanian, he played the Pennsylvania Polka for me:

It was absolutely magical, but the whole time, I was upset that PositiveMode was missing such an authentic, magical, German experience. When I told the mysterious Highlander, he responded not with a word, but with a deep chortle which rose from the very bowls of his substantial belly. I looked at him quizzically, but he just smiled his mysterious Highlander smile, put down his accordion, and chugged a beer:

The next thing I knew, he was gone. Disappeared into the ether from whence he came. I quickly retraced my steps back down the stream to our motorcycles and told PositiveMode about what I had seen, but he didn't seem interested. Rather, he was more concerned with eating his pretzels and chewing his gum.

I just shrugged it off and we headed back to Munich. I can't believe I forgot about this story until now. I'm just glad I was lucky enough to get pictures to prove it.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

White Sox Win World Series


This is the last time I will post a personal-triumphance sports update (I have to promise this to NegativeMode to get away with this one) but this story could not go ignored. For the first time since 1917, the Chicago White Sox are the World Series Champions.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Demography and Stuff

So, there's this website out there called frappr that I think is pretty cool. It allows you to use GoogleMaps to create a map of where all the members of your group are located. It can be any type of group you want. For instance, I've created a map of where all of you (my readers) are located. Simply click on this link, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Of course, this will only work if you're willing to participate, so do so damnit. I'm curious to see where all three of you are located. . . .

In other news, Canadians have discovered that the more educated a woman is, the lower her sex drive is likely to be. Any of you law school grads care to comment on that? Also, and this should come as no surprise (no pun intended, really), married women were more than twice as likely to report low sex drives. Read the article here. Great, I'm really looking forward to being married to an MBA grad.

Also, there's enough pot in Kentucky that if each Kentuckian were to smoke a joint an hour, they still wouldn't finish it all (although the article doesn't say how long the joint-an-hour smokage would have to last, but still....). Is this true BrownBear?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sing it Yao!

Don't ever tell me that China lacks the pop cultural cachet of which we Americans are so proud. We may have AJ, Brian, Howie, Kevin, and Nick, but they have these guys, who clearly have us topped in every conceivable category. Check it out, you won't be disappointed. You rock China. You most definitely rock.

Thanks for the link Trout, and a public congratulations on your marriage.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Golden Age of the Giant Wheel

I really find the phrase "Golden Age" distasteful and vainglorious. How can we possibly know that something has reached its golden age when technology/society/art is progressing at such a rapid rate? We've already had the golden ages of television, movies, aviation, and illustration. Is that to say that we've seen the best those areas have to offer? I doubt it. It's pretty hard to argue that the so-called golden ages were the best ages of their respective milieus. The Golden Age of Television didn't have one reality show, not to mention Saved By the Bell or Seinfeld. They didn't even have jet engines in the golden age of aviation (for the most part).

Have there been any recent golden ages? No one would dare call the 80s the golden age of something (maybe the Golden Age of 80's music), but did we have the golden age of anything in the 90s? Are we in the golden age of anything now? The Internet perhaps, or maybe porn, but again, how could you possibly say that? It just grinds my gears, that's all.

Is only one golden age so far that I feel confident in endorsing -- the Golden Age of Old Timey Bicycles (a.k.a. penny-farthings). I mean, look at this bicycle. It doesn't get much better than that.

Not only is it awesomely cool, but the penny-farthing was notoriously prone to accidents. "To slow and stop a high wheel, as with a fixed gear bicycle, the rider applies a backwards pedalling motion, augmented by use of a spoon-shaped brake pressing on the tyre. The center of mass being both high and not far behind the contact point of the front wheel meant that any attempt to stop suddenly, or any collision with a large pothole or other obstruction, would be likely to send them flying over the handle bars (known as "taking a header" or "coming a cropper"). On long downhill stretches it was recommended that riders take their feet off the pedals and hook them over the handlebars, so that in case of a crash they would land (hopefully) on their feet. This made for quick descents but left almost no chance of stopping should the need arise."

Just try and convince me that the penny-farthing isn't bad-ass.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Scouting for Camel Toads

Is there any need for me to even make a comment (click on the picture to enlarge it if you can't read it as is)? I'm just sad that with winter fast approaching, most, if not all, camel toads will go into hibernation. At least you can always travel north to Canada in search of the elusive Moose Knuckle.

Special thanks to Mr. E.L.McNett for sending me the picture.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Charlie Sheen's Necklace

ContactMusic, which is like an online version of Spin, Rolling Stone, etc. had this article about Charlie Sheen and porn-star Ginger Lynn online a while ago. I found it very amusing. The most pertinant parts are as follows:

Porn legend Ginger Lynn has astounded fans of veteran actor Charlie Sheen - by selling the pearl necklace he gave her when they were an item.

The Platoon star dated the blue movie actress during an era of self-confessed drug use, and gave her a pearl necklace . . . which she is now selling on internet auction house EBAY.

Lynn tells PAGESIX.COM, "I'm parting with a few of my things that no longer hold the value in my heart they used to.

"The pearl necklace . . . [was] the very first gifts that Charlie Sheen ever gave to me. Now you too can say you got a pearl necklace from Charlie."

If you don't know why that article is extremely funny, good for you, I suppose, but you can find out here, at UrbanDictionary (which by the way is awesome). I'm sorry that the article is old news, I just thought that it was a very well-written, informative article that most of my readers (if there are any left other than PositiveMode) would enjoy.

More importantly, I'm not sure exactly how you sell such an item on ebay. Usually, a pearl necklace is quite elusive, and at the very least, markedly ephemeral. How does shipping on that work, or is it for sale locally only? So many questions, so few answers.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fowl Ball

I started wondering about the relationship between the military and chicken after passing by a KFC the other day. Colonel Sanders and his special recipe has tantalized our tastebuds for over a half of century. What about Chinese food? The delicacy of hot, sweet and spicy pieces of dark meat is known as General Tso's chicken. The perfect match of military precision and tender fowl - simply a coincidence or is there something deeper? I decided to probe a little further and this is what I found: here's a link to an excellent article by Michael Browning of the Washington Post that explains the roots of General Tso chicken. Did you know that Napoleon ate Chicken Marengo after defeating the Austrians at Marengo?

Amazing stuff I tell you.

Now, here are some of my own examples of chicken from around the world:
- Argentina - Lieutenant Garcia chicken - sauteed lightly in butter and lemon
- Ukraine - Admiral Boris chicken - boiled with potatoes and carrots and served on a chess board
- Qatar - Corporal Habib chicken - Roasted with garlic and served with nutty couscous
- Ireland - Private Ryan chicken (a.k.a. Saving Private Ryan chicken) - fried in canola oil and served with cabbage and corn nibblets

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Elevator Stand-Off

I really hate elevator stand-offs. By an elevator stand-off, I mean one of those instances where you're in an elevator, the elevator reaches its destination, you put your arm out and make the "after you" gesture, and at the same time, the other occupant also makes the "after you" jesture (I think this is almost exclusively a male thing, but I've never been in an elevator with another woman whereby I was also a woman so I don't know for sure). Sometimes, the arm jesture is accompanied by an "after you," "no, after you exchange."

It's just silly, two men standing there arguing about who should get of the elevator first. Does it make you effeminate to lose the stand-off? Is it boorish behavior to not offer to let another man off the elevator before you in the first place? Today, I was on the elevator with three other men. When we stopped, the other three all attempted to let the others off first. It was madness. Of course, I just got off. I refuse to participate in the elevator stand-off. I guess I'm just an effeminate boor.

Finally, there are few things better in this world than an authentic, Philadelphia cheesesteak.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

You Can Breathe Easy Now

I think the worst thing about not having your own office would be the inablility to freely pick your nose. Even if you have your own cubicle, you can discretely pick your nose. A shared office, however, would make any sort of probosciatory reconnaissance nearly impossible.

I don't really know if that's the case or not, but just something I thought about while sitting here, picking my nose in my private office.

Also, I keep both moisturizing lotion and Arby's horsey sauce (mayo with added horseradish I think) in my desk drawer. My face has been dry recently, and I've been using the lotion fairly often, which leads me to the fear that one day I'm going to rub Arby's horsey sauce all over my face. That would be embarrasing. Maybe I'll put them in separate drawers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

World's Most Expensive City Revisited

During my lunch today I came across the 2005 list of the World's Most Expensive Cities, conducted bi-annually by MercerHR. Topping the list are Tokyo, Osaka, London, Moscow, and Seoul, in that order. The rankings are compiled by Mercer using a "cost of living basket" comprised of 186 items which are purchased at three different stores (supermarkets, convenience stores, department stores) in each city. Add them up, divide, so some math, and there you have it, a list of the most expensive cities. Now, if you have been reading this blog for the past few months, you know that PositiveMode and I recently travelled to Europe, stopping first in Reykjavik, Iceland. Further, you know that PositiveMode and I are in mutual agreement that Reykjavik is the most expensive place on the planet (read my three previous posts about Reykjavik here, here, and here if you'd like).

So, where is Reykjavik on the list of the 144 most expensive cities (entire list here)? It's not there. There is absolutely no explaination for this whatsoever. Trust me. I've been to the cities ranked #1 (Tokyo), #3 (London), #8 (Copenhagen), #12 (Paris), #13 (NYC), #18 (Stockholm), and #20 (Sydney, where I even lived for six months) and not one of those places has anything on Reykjavik in terms of expensiveness. And those are just from the top 20. Is this ranking seriously trying to tell me that Reykjavik is less expensive than Chicago (#52), D.C. (#78), Detroit (#101), Pittsburgh (#111), or Winston Salem, NC (#119)? That's madness! Do you know how much a pizza pie is in Reykjavik? $30-$40. A .75 lb. piece of chicken breast at the super market? $12-$18. No joke. I saw it with my own eyes.

The only thing I can think of is that Mercer forgot about Iceland or Reykjavik for some reason. Perhaps their maps don't include any cities north of Oslo. I know PositiveMode can back me up on this one. If any of you have been to Reykjavik, please, feel free to comment, cause I'm at a loss here.

Unrelated News: This is just disturbing. Don't worry, it's safe for work, but that doesn't make it any less disturbing. It's a link to Steven Seagal's energy drink. I'll repeat that. It's a link to Steven Seagal's energy drink. Yes, Steven Seagal is producing an energy drink. I'm not sure what to even write about that. Just read this gem from the webpage: "Steven Seagal Enterprises was formed in 2004 as a way for Steven Seagal to share his wisdom and experience of energy with the world. The infinite wisdom of Steven Seagal combined with an experienced Sales and Marketing team has made it possible for Lightning Bolt to emerge as one of the most unique energy drinks on the market." WTF?!? "Wisdom and experience of energy"?!? "Infinite wisdom of Steven Seagal"?!? This has to be a joke right? Please tell me this is a joke (sadly, it isn't). Someone, please try this and let me know how your energy experience was. . . .

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thank You Jebus

I would just like to be the first (although at this point I am most likely the 57th or so) to congratulate PositiveMode for passing the Bar Exam on his first attempt. I had no doubt that he would pass with flying colors as they say. Again, congratulations, it was no easy feat (nor feet).

I would also like to be the 8th to congratulate NegativeMode for passing the Bar Exam on his first attempt as well. Not only is he handsome and smart, but now also a lawyer. Good on ya mate.

No doubt all of you knew that both Modes would some day be LawyerModes -- now it is official.

Word 'em up.