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26 May 2011

Gaspee Days: Burn it to the Water!

As promised here is a quick little history lesson for my freedom loving friends.

With Memorial Day right around the corner, summer rapidly approaches. With summer comes the 4th of July, the celebration of the violent birth of our nation, the anniversary of when we told England to go screw.  Actually the date is off by two days but who is counting…?

When the words American Independence and Revolutionary War are thrown around some distinct people, images and events come to people’s minds.  Things such as the Stamp Act,  Tea Act, the Sons of Liberty (With Patriot and Brewer Sam Adams)having a little Tea Party in Boston’s Harbor, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Patrick Henry winning over the Virginia House of Burgess and capping his speech with the famous “Give me liberty or give me death!” Man it kind of gets the blood flowing just thinking about it. But out of all of those events I want to take a moment to talk about the Boston Tea Party and its sexy, yet overlooked, historical sister.

The Tea Party was a significant event in the course of American history. Some uppity New Englanders decided to flip the English the bird by throwing taxed tea into Boston’s harbor. This was a pretty nice act of defiance but it was not the first, nor in my opinion the best, it is just the most glamorized. Those Boston Sons of Liberty took the historical spot light and will always be remembered for helping to kick off the revolution. But before those cagey Bostonians decided to do their thing in December of 1773 the always defiant Lil’Rhody had already flipped the English the bird and started marching to the tune of a different fife and drummer.

The British had a ship named the HMS Gaspee. It was a customs schooner, read a coast guard ship that was trying to shut down bootleggers, pirates and blackmarketeers (I don’t care if it isnt a real word or not it sounds fucking cool). Lil’Rhody has long been a hub of bootlegging and black market operations. So the British had sent in some customs ships to try and enforce the Tax acts and curtail contraband goods (non taxed goods) from coming into the colonies. Well in 1764 some Rhode Islanders attacked the HMS St. John and then in 1769 they burned a Customs Ship, HMS Liberty, in Newport Harbor. These were some nice acts of defiance from the smallest of colonies but they were saving their best trick for last.

Here are a few things to keep in mind. During colonial times the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (that is the full name of the state for those of you not in the know) was a mighty shipping center. For being such a small state it has 500 miles of coastline and lots of harbors. Shipping was the backbone of the colony, some of it legitimate and some of it not … So any attempt by the British to clamp down on shipping was not received well.

So in 1772 the HMS Gaspee was sent to Narragansett Bay to conduct a little bit of customs enforcement. On June 9th the Gaspee decided to try and search a Packet Ship named Hannah. Well the crew of the Hannah didn’t want the fucking British poking around on their ship so they decided to try and out run her. The Gaspee decided to try and run her down and the dumb fucks managed to run aground. At dawn on June 10th some of the Providence Sons of Liberty decided to row out to the Gaspee and have a little party. After a brief struggle the Sons of Liberty took the ship and burnt it to the fucking water. Lets just say that the limeys were a little bit miffed after that. They wanted to charge the Providence Sons of Liberty with treason but could never find enough evidence to arrest anyone. I guess the locals were not supportive of the following investigation. The rest as they say, is history.

Now, every year during Memorial Day weekend the city of Warwick has a festival called Gaspee Days. It is 3 days of arts, crafts, food and music and celebration. The following weekend, during the actual anniversery, there are fireworks, colonial reenactments, a parade and a recreation of the burning of the of the Gaspee.

Part of the colonial parade.

The fake Gaspee being burned.

An artist rendition of the Gaspee being burned.


So while most of the rest of the country is forgetting to remember on Memorial Day, as they grill their hamburgers and drink their beer, Rhode Island will be remembering the often overlooked event that preceded the Boston Tea party and what is considered to be the first overt action leading to the Revolutionary War, the burning of the Gaspee.

History lesson over.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe day of Memorial and please keep some good thoughts for our brothers and sisters in the Midwest that are going through some pretty rough times. If you can, please try and help. Many organizations are in need of money and material goods to provide assistance for those that have lost everything. So if you are able to do so, please consider making a donation to the likes of the United Way SEMO or Heartland chapters as part of your Memorial Day observance.  

"You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count n having both at once."
— Robert A. Heinlein

24 May 2011

North Korea and the PLO


I have a brutal midterm this week so I only have time to fire off a short little missive. Here are just some of my thoughts on solving some of the world’s problems.

The United States has sent special envoy Robert King to North Korea to assess their “pleas for food”. Awesome. You know, because North Korea is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. They don’t have enough food to feed their people so they are begging assistance from the very same people that their  leader routinely threatens and wishes death upon. I have one word to sum up my stance on this. Fuck ‘em.

I do not wish ill for the people of North Korea, nor do I hate them, but the country is fucked. Their political system is corrupt from the floor up. Their leader is more concerned with developing nuclear weapons than putting rice on the plates of his people. Lil’Kim is more concerned about spitting in the face of the “American Imperialist Scum” every chance he gets than he is concerned for the wellbeing of his people. I feel sorry for them. I really do. But I am not sure how giving them food will change the situation.  Most of it will disappear into the corrupt political system and whatever is left will only provide a momentary relief. Not worth it. Our efforts would be better spent trying to overthrow this insane cult of personality rather than feeding it. I mean if all it is going to take is a few bags of rice to get the starving masses riled up and ready to over throw the bastard then send it. But if all it is going to do is perpetuate the situation by rewarding Lil’Kim for his fuck ups then let them starve. I know it sounds cruel but it is what it is.

Until the bastards want to play nice then cut the purse strings. Go old school siege style on them. If Lil’Kim wants to be a reclusive psychopath then starve them out. Besides a little depopulation can’t be bad for the earth, we have what like 7 billion people on this planet?

The other thing that has gotten me riled up is this 1967 border thing with Israel. I got two words for the PLO.  Go Screw. If I was king for a day I would find the largest bulldozers that I could, and line them up in a row outside of Gaza and the West Bank. And then wait. Then when the next rocket is fired from Palestinian territory into Israel that is the signal to “gentlemen start your engines!”. From there you bulldoze the Gaza Strip into the Mediterranean Sea and the West Bank into the Dead Sea. If you want to act like terrorist scum then you should get treated like terrorist scum.  Use Hamas’s own point of view against them, we have negotiated with you for over 25 years and enough is enough.

But I guess these are the reasons that I will not be made king for a day. I would not adhere to the established norms of international relations and would get smacked with sanctions by the UN for war crimes or not caring enough about the plight of my enemies or some shit. Well, I got three words for the UN, Go To Hell.  

I am off to chip away at this midterm. Hopefully I will get it done by the weekend so I can go to the Gaspee Days with the girlfriend. For those of you who love freedom but you don’t know about the Gaspee, then shame on you. But if I am caught up then maybe I will post a little something something about it.
No beer today, just writing for a midterm.

"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."
— Robert A. Heinlein

20 May 2011

Tampa Bay Lightening vs. Boston Bruins

I am feeling a little irreverent this week. Need a break from politics.

Spring is in the air, summer is almost here. You know what summer makes me think of? Ice hockey! That’s right, hockey. Let me explain.

I am a Tampa Bay sports fan. I like the Buccaneers, the Rays and the Lightening. I also heard that there is an arena football team in Tampa that I am going to have to look in to as well. I am not from Tampa and I do not live in Tampa but I still support their sports teams. It is a long story that I am not going to go into here. Right now the Lightening are in a playoff series with the local team the Bruins, it is making for some interesting trash talk at work. As one of my co-workers and I were discussing hockey we started talking about the NHL’s attempts to market the sport more marketable and I think we came up with some really good ideas that they need to incorporate.

First the NHL needs to go back to the old school rules. Let’s get rid of the goalie box behind the net and eliminate the two line pass rule. I know the rules were intended to make the game more exciting to watch by increasing the number of goals scored. Well let me tell you something excitement and goals scored were never really a problem. The game is pretty damn exciting or it was before the NHL tried to “clean up its act” and become more “professional” ie crack down on fighting….

So if the NHL is worried about marketing and revenue they really need to consider the potential market base. In my mind the market base will probably be in the beer drinking, contact sports loving part of America not the wine and cheese faction and the first person that mentions Quebec will be called a Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey of the Canadian variety! I have nothing against wine drinkers and cheese eaters and if they want to watch the game then fine but if you want a real market segment then you go after the beer drinkers, real Americans. And so far the NHL has gone about this the total wrong way.

Like I said, it started with the rule changes. Bring back the fighting. No one watches hockey for the goals they watch it to see two dudes on ice skates kick the shit out of each other,  really. It could be a 0 – 0 game but if at the end of it there is blood on the ice I bet most people would consider it to have been a good game. So stop breaking up the fights. If anything start feeding these guys steroids and gunpowder. I want to see some roid rage out there.

The second thing that is wrong with hockey is the season is too damn long. It is like all year long. Preseason starts in September, the real season starts in October and the post season starts in April and ends in like June. This is too much. It is like baseball. Cut the season in half. Really, cut the damn thing in half. Hockey and summer don’t mix. When it is 90 degrees out I am not thinking about ice skating. Not that I ever really think about ice skating but that is a different subject. There is also something flawed with a sport whose post season is like 3 months long. It is too drawn out. Americans don’t have the attention span for that shit. We want to see blood and we want to see it now, gallons of it right this second not drops of it here and there spread out over 10 months.

The third thing I see wrong with the sport are the names. I know it was borne in cold weather regions like Canadia and Russia and the Czech Republic but damn people have you looked at the names of the players of the game? If you want to market this sport you have got to do something about the names. If you can’t say the players name sober, let alone after drinking an 18 rack (actually that may help) then you are going to have a hard time convincing people to watch it. For example how do you pronounce Valtteri Filppula or Hannu Toivonen or Zbynek Michalek or Ondrej Pavelec. It looks like these peoples parents took a whole bunch of consonants and threw them at a whole bunch of vowels and whatever came out of it was their child’s name. It needs to be simplified. I don’t want to sound like I have a mouth full of marbles when cheering for my team. So names like Rostislave Olesz need to get changed to something like Rasta, Eveni Dadonov need to get changed to Eddie and even though Derek is straight forward the last name Boogaard needs to get changed to Booger. People can get behind a guy named Booger, trust me it will sell. Just because you are from Canadia does not mean you have to sound like it. And if you want to sell it in America it would help if we could pronounce it.

So three simple changes can save hockey. More fights, shorter season and names like Smith and Brown not Fedotenko and Hartikainen. The rest of the elements are there. You have already armor plated men with metal blades on their feet carrying around sticks for weapons and put them on a sheet of ice. It sounds like a wonderful mix violence waiting to happen, just sit back and let it. We will buy it.

Until later GO LIGHTENING!