Rammstein

Rammstein

The indisputable kings of German Punk, maybe even Punk music in general is a great group called Rammstein.

But they’re more then just a bunch of guys shouting as loud as they can and playing their instruments way too loud like most every body down at the Paris on Friday Nights. But musically they’re technically perfect on par with a major Symphony. They music has emotion to it. Most people are familiar with Feuer Frei from the Triple X Sound Track. But Du Hast effects one far more to the point of anger in many cases.

On the other end of the scale they have Sonne, Engel, and their newest single, Amerika all of which are (relatively) gentle ballads. Listening to the beat and the words you feel more sad then angry. Of course unless you understand German you have no clue what these guys are singing about. Which I feel is part of their charm. Many people spend hours trying to figure out what exactly is said.

Rammstein are also the kings of imagery. Sonne starts out innocently enough. The entire band is dressed up as mountain climbers. They stop at a stream, drink water and immediatly you’re thinking “what is going on?” as each member gives an almost pitying look to the lead singer. The video proceeds to them actually climbing the mountian before the lead singer falls and gets obviously hurt. The rest of the band pulls him to the top, but that night they all exchange looks and know he’s going to die. They bury him at the top of the mountain. But rewind to the first part of the video and you begin to think everyone KNOWS he went there to die.

The translated lyrics lose something of course. But the above song (lyrics at http://www.lyrics007.com/Rammstein%20Lyrics/Sonne%20(English)%20Lyrics.html ) lyrics don’t seem to have anything about death or destiny. On the surface. But like They Might Be Giants the more you listen to their music, the more meanings you start to get out of the lyrics.

All in all – this is one group I’m going to see in concert as soon as I can. Their live shows are supposed to be just awesome.

Battlestar Galatica

Battlestar Galatica

I’m finally watching this new Sci-Fi channel series. And all I can say is “WOW”

The acting is amazingly good for a crap load of unknown actors. The special effects are quite nice for a TV show. I like how they really changed the technology. The Galatica looks pretty dang cool. The new Vipers are pretty nice, although I like how they brought back the old ones as museum pieces and then had to use ’em.

I’m not sure how much I like having Starbuck and Boomer be female. They were two important characters in the orginial series. But at least they won’t have the episode where all the male Viper Pilots come down sick and they have to train shuttle pilots how to fly them.

The new Cylons look pretty cool – very deadly. Although I’m still trying to figure out if I like that female one or not. Even if she did pretty much single handedly destroy humanity. Oh – and the museum was pretty cool – played homage to the old series with the old Cylon, the old Vipers, and even at one point the old theme song playing in the background.

Throw the Christians to the Lions

Throw the Christians to the Lions

I use to be a hard core Christian. Like almost to the point that I’d to say “God Bless,” and even the much worse statement, “Have you heard about Jesus?” (Or some variation on that statement.)

I attended Youth Groups as much as possible, the big one I attended was put on by my Science Teacher, her husband, and their friends. I remeber it got pretty big – 50 teenagers or so. I worked hard on inviting people to it – but not being very popular in school I didn’t get that many people to come.

I think that by my senior year in high school I was starting to doubt my faith. I had gotten a job on the weekends and couldn’t go to church on Sundays any longer. My job started at 7am, so there wasn’t any services at an earlier time in my small town.

But there was one thing that really shook my faith – amazingly – in Church of all places. The head pastor got up to talk to the congregation. He was talking about how the church did all these missions aroudn the world. All the things it did for the rest of the world. Talked about how they had 60 some people on missions. But noticeably – nothing local. I didn’t think too much of that, until he brought out the overhead projector and started showing graphs of the church’s budget.

He showed how the church had operating expenses of something like $30,000 a month… which astounded me. I could see that building being expensive, but how many people did the church have hired full time? Then he started showing how donations had been falling off the last couple of months – drastically enough that they were $15,000 in the red for the next month!

Here I was – dressed in jeans, a fairly nice shirt. Rode my bike to church every weekend because my parents wouldn’t take me. No job, all the money I had was from babysitting and berry picking during the summer. I had figured out that I could give $5 a week and have enough money for a while – because up until that exact point I believed whole heartedly. The pastor then started asking everyone to dig deep this week and help support the church and it’s works.

He talked about how Missions to Africa, South America and China were in jeopardy if they didn’t get help. It really got to me at that point – here we are spending thousands of dollars to covert people in other countries, but not in our own. I want to say that I walked out of the Church at this point, but I’m pretty sure I was a coward and stayed until the end. Either way I practically ran out of the church and rode home as fast as I could.

In previous times of trouble I had turned to the Bible. So I thought that perhaps it might help again. I randomly opened the book and started reading. I do not remeber the exact passage but I ended up in the Book of Leviticus As you can see – those are the rules of God. As good as written down in stone. But how many people follow even a tenth of those? Read this Letter to Dr. Laura and this this follow up for a good idea how ludicrous these all sound in modern times.

I ended up re-reading the Bible from one end to the other, but only had more questions. (BTW – Jewish/Hebrew Scholars have done a pretty good job answering a lot of questions and inconsitencies in the Bible, but a lot of feels forced at times.)

During the next several years – I feverently wanted to believe in God, and the Bible. I read everything I could get my hands on, granted in a small college town that wasn’t much. But I read several versions of the Bible, the Koran, Hebrew versions (which I liked the best,) and then started branching out into other religions to find the answer. I started with Buddahism, Wiccan, Hindu, etc, etc. All I read just reinforced my problems with the Bible and forced one conclusion upon me.

The Bible was written by the powerful to keep the common people in line. It’s been changed, massaged, and corrupted by people reinforcing that, and people trying to correct the problems in it. If it ever was truely the word of God, God hasn’t done a very good job of keeping it pure.

Clear and Present Danger

Clear and Present Danger

I’m currently reading Tom Clancy’s Executive Orders.

Jack Ryan has risen through the ranks to become President of the US. Of course he survived the plane crashing into the Congress Building and killing most of Congress, the President, and a good portion of his senior Cabinent members at Jack’s inauguration as Vice President.

I’ve read reports saying that Al Qaeda had been planning the destruction of the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon for quite some time, 5 years. Reading the front – this one was published in 1996. I know others have probally remarked upon this, but did they get the idea from Tom Clancy? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows.

Tom Clancy use to be a pretty imaginative writer. I use to enjoy his books. I don’t remember which one was the last one I read, but I loved Red Storm Rising and Hunt for Red October. Patriot Games wasn’t bad, but was a better movie. But after that his writing just went downhill I feel.

Oh – Red Storm Rising was a cool Submarine Combat game I played on my Commodore 64. Lots of hours spent playing that. Interesting enough, there is little Submarine Combat in the novel, but they couldn’t really base a game off of Red October very well. I got pretty good at the game, to the point that I could take the worst American Submarine (I don’t remember the class – other then it wasn’t nuclear powered, I was to say Seawolf, but I think that was the best,) and could get about 50/50 kills on Russian Alfas.

I loved getting in to the middle of a Russian Carrier group, launching all tubes at various targets then running full speed away from the convoy at they dodged torpedoes. I’d then circle back and do it again. Theoretically I shouldn’t have gotten as high as a kill ratio (30% or so) as I did with that paticular submarine. I then remember taking the best choice, and using the same tactics and getting something like 80% kill ratio on the carrier groups. The only escapes were ships that I got confusing sonar echoes off of because they were sitting side by side or were running silent/passive.

Anyways – reading Executive Orders, it amazes me that terrorists haven’t hit the US again already. There is no way the Al Qaeda used up all it’s man power on September 11th. Heck, what about the hundreds of so called “Baby Al Qaeda” groups the US now knows about? Including the new one’s NPR claims are springing up daily. For a group that supposedly has a budget and assets of a small country, they sure are quiet.

Ebola virus in subways? Mortar fired from the back of a moving flat bed truck? These random small attacks would be more devastating to America in the long run then single large attacks. All 9/11 did was unite the country behind one goal. Granted that support has fallen off quite a bit since then, but it didn’t fracture our country like they thought it would. I’m personally sure that the 4th plane was probally headed for the White House or Congress, if it had hit one of those we might have had bigger problems.

But Tom Clancy’s idea of the mortars from the back of a flat bed truck? Talk about devastating! One man to drive the truck, one to load and fire the mortar, one to hand over ammo for it and two to fire Sub-machine or automatic weapons, perhaps hand grenades or Molotov Cocktails. Tie a low wall of sandbags backed by steel plating to block bullets and shrapnel. The psychological damage would be incalcuable. Run through a busy downtown buisness district, or perhaps an affluential suburb.

According to FAS Military Analysis Network,” there is no such thing as Napalm Mortar rounds, (I’m assuming they’re probally against the Geneva Convention or some such thing,) but running through a neighborhood randomly dropping one a napalm or High Explosive round every other block to start fires (which would probally spread to neighboring houses,) could easily burn down a neighborhood pretty quickly, failing that it would cause enough damage that the local fire department would be overwhelmed quickly.

I’ve seen locally, 4 fire houses empty of fire engines just to take care of one building, usually a warehouse or other large structure. Imagine having multiple 4 or 5 alarm fires in the same city.

In addition I’m sure that a small group of terrorists like this would bea able to do this long enough to do quite a bit of damage. The police wouldn’t be able to respond for a couple of minutes. The first to arrive would be single units, armed with shotguns and pistols. Maybe a M-16 or similiar weapon if they’re lucky. Against grenades or moltov cocktails, and automatic weapons – they’d be outclassed. Say 5 minutes for the SWAT team to be called in, they might be able to take them out – although I’d probally resort to using a sniper or two out of a helicopter to keep up with the truck. Then another ten to fifteen minutes for a real military response. Either way, a semi armoured truck, running full speed down a road, ramming cars out of the way, and firing a new shell every 30-45 seconds randomly… that would be scarey. Even if they found a stable posistion to concentrate on one big target such as a building, a bridge, or a rush hour freeway, they’d still be able to do pleanty of damage.

Automatic weapons are easy – there are pleanty of readily available weapons on the mass-market that can easily be converted to full automatic. Failing that, there are enough sub-machine gun knock offs just as easily available, although I’d personally stick with a modified gun for the extra penetration.

Now granted Motar’s are military grade hardware, but I hardly think they’d be hard to get a hold of and smuggle in to the US, or even buy locally here. Failing that – they’re simply compressed gas systems, something similiar could easily be rigged up. Perhaps a modified potato gun? Either way, the key isn’t physical damage, it’s the moral and psychological damage that would affect people the worse.

To me these kinds of attacks are scarier then putting Antrax or Ebola into the water supply, or airborne dispersment – those kinds of attacks can be contained, are unseen (except for the illness itself,) and ultimatly would be contained one way or another.

Link of Note: Deparment of Justice Web Site: Al Qaeda Training Manual Thanks DOJ for posting this! I wish it was more public, to paraphase Sun Tzu, Knowing the tactics of the Enemy makes one stronger.

What a world we live in eh?

Good Deeds, and bad deeds

Good Deeds, and bad deeds

What exactly constitutes a good deed? What makes a bad deed?

When I was in Boy Scouts we use to talk about helping old ladies across the street. The Boy’s Life Magazine always has an article about some kid saving someone’s life and getting an award for it. It’s a feature that has been in the magazine for as long as I can remeber, at least 20 years or so.

My apartment complex has a humungous trash compactor, it’s about 10 times the size of a regular trash can you’d think of normally. But despite that there is almost always a pile of trash sitting in front of it. Sometimes people put something big in it, such as cardboard that dosen’t quite get crunched enough. Or apparently, kids without house keys putting trash in front of it. (The compactor door is locked and is accessed with the apartment key.)

So today I threw all the trash bags there into the compactor. Not a big deal really, I feel bad when the machine runs and I only put one small bag in there. I also pulled out several pop cans to recycle. As I got done I said out loud “There’s your good deed for the day.”

But was it really? Did I help anybody? Or was I self serving? I made a quarter on cans and bottles that I pulled out. I helped the apartment management sure… but they have someone come by everyday to clean it up anyways. So I essentially did that guy’s job for him today.

Now what’s a bad deed? I cant think of anything I’d do that would hurt someone. I’d say not giving pan handlers money is a bad deed – but I’ve heard/read of too many cases where they actually make a crap load of money off of the niceness of random people. The most increadible being one of a guy who works New York during the Summer, then retires to his house on the coast during the rest of the year.

Or is it a bad deed that I don’t talk to my parents any more? I mean, my father asks me when I’m going to cut my hair and get a real job. Keep in mind I make as much or more money then he does working two jobs. My mother… is a meddler, who still dosen’t seem to realize that I’m almost 30 years old, and has my own life. (She’s indirectly a major cause of my breaking up with my ex-fiance.) My brother – the only thing we have in common is genetics. And my sister… I still think of her as a little girl who needs her hand held across the street – granted a lot of that is because I stopped talking to my family when she was just becoming a teenager, so I missed her growing up.

Is it a bad deed that I’ve missed (on purpose) every single funeral in my family over the last 15 years? Funerals for the living to say goodbye, not for the dead who really don’t care much. But my family guilt trips me about it saying “so and so would be sad if you weren’t there.” Right… my great grand father who lived to the ripe old age of 103, was dressed in diapers, hand fed mushed bananas and didn’t have enough memory left to reconize a single one of us is going to be sad.

At that point – I’d be friggin’ happy to be dead personally.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do try to do good deeds when it occurs to me. It’s not that I’m an unthoughtful person. I just have a one-track mind, I do a lot of things on automatic while I’m sorting out a problem in the rest of my brain. Some people just can’t understand how I can get focused on something to the point that everything around me ceases to exist. Let me tell you – it comes from being extremely smart, and being teased at school for every single little thing.

But I do do good deeds, at work I constantly hold doors open for people. Although it’s practically bred into the Nike Culture for some weird reason. Everyone holds doors open for everyone else. People will wait a good thirty seconds for someone to walk close enough to the door. About half the time I’m pushing a cart through, I hit the handicap button which opens one side and leaves enough room for the cart to get through it, yet they’ll still hold open the other side too.

Anyways, to digress – what is exactly a good deed? Is it something that makes someone’s life easier? Is it some little thing that they’ll forget about in thirty seconds? What?