Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Longing for Vegas

With only 3 working days left before we fly to Vegas, everybody is feeling the urge to leave. Its gonna be a well-deserved break for most of us and nice change from every day life. Oh yeah, it is a guys-only trip (he, we're going to Vegas...come on...)

Can't wait!!!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ohio State game on DVD

For those interested I have the Ohio State game available on DVD. It's recorded from the ESPN Classic re-broadcast in 4:3 format (non-HD). Let me know if you like a copy. Please note that this is for personal use only!!

French Riots

With the riots in France over the last couple of weeks it was made painfully obvious that the current ways the West handles its integration of immigrants isn't working. We are saying we welcome them and that we give them all the same opportunities as the rest of the nation, but the reality is that we much rather ignore them and have them live together in run-down parts of towns and nicely separated from the rest. I think it was about 15 years ago that a Dutch comedian had a bit about a white South African visiting the West and saying that the apparent separation resembled the apartheid strategy back in the days. She took a lot of heat for that bit, but after a number of years it appears she was right. We let them in and then leave them to themselves. Without any help a vast majority of immigrants will remain in the lowest regions of society and in the highest regions of crime and violence.

Whenever there is a violent outbreak sparked by an apparent small act, the reality is that the real reason is due to the lack of opportunities for those groups. The extreme right always tries to capatalize on those periods of unrest by showing off the result as proof that immigrants are violent. The real cause remains suspisiously under-rated.

We now have a number of examples in the last couple years. In the US we had the Rodney King riots, in Paris and the rest of France it was a nation-wide spree of unrest, in Holland it was after the assasination of Pim Fortyn and quite frankly with the 4 million Turks in Germany I'm predicting a similar outcry somewhere in the next few years, maybe even preceded by the former Eastern Germans.

We need to get those people more involved in our society, raise there wealth-level, lower crime and offer them better oppertunities to integrate in our Western societies. If we don't do that and only react on the symptoms we will never solve the real issue.

Are you ready for some Football?!?!

The last couple weekends were big football weekends here in the US. Last weekend it was the time for the biggest rivalry in US sports, the Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines. It truely is one of (if not the) biggest sporting events here in the Mid-west. It has been going on for over a 100 years. This year the game was in Ann Arbor, MI with an attendance of over 110.000 people. People from Europe will have to read that number twice since there isn't even a stadium big enough to house that many people... The good thing was that the Buckeyes won it this year. That made Ohio State bowl-eligable as an at-large team since Penn State won the Big Ten conference this year.

After the Ohio State win, the Cleveland Browns won vs. the Dolphins, the Cavs won, so it was a good Thanksgiving weekend sports-wise. The other noticeble game was the Indianapolis Colts vs. the Cinncinati Bengals. A score of 35-20 at halftime is unbelieveble. The Colts hung un to win it 45-37. It triggered a quote from one of the ESPN announcers: '..the first one to 50 wins..'. It sure looked like it. Fun to watch, but it must have been a horrible night for the defensive coordinators.

This weekend was the Canadian version of the Super Bowl, the 'Grey Cup' as the championship game of the CFL. This year it was in Vancouver featuring the Edmonton Eskimos and the Montreal Alouttes. Edmonton won it after a thrilling game that had to be decided in over-time. To be honest to all friends north of the border, it would be more accurate to call the Super Bowl the US version of the Grey Cup since it was being held for the 93th time... This years Super Bowl will only be number 40.

Just before the Grey Cup I was able to watch the Seatlle Seahawks battle the NY Giants. It was memorable since NY had 11 false starts (5 in one drive...) and the 3 missed field goals by NY. Seattle capitalized on those errors and was able to win it in OT by a well-aimed field goal.

At the moment of writing this I'm watching the final game of these two weekends, The Colts vs. the Steelers. At the start of the 4th quarter it looks like the Colts will win number 11 as well and stay undefeated this year.

My prediction for Super Bowl 40: Colts vs. the ... (you fill in your favorite) with a win for the Colts. Easy choice maybe, but I think it is the right one...

Show to see: MI-5 (in the UK: Spooks)

If you have a decent cable provider that carries A&E you can see an excellent BBC show called MI-5. In the UK it is named Spooks. Its about an anti-terrorist team inside the English agency MI-5. The action is high-paced, the quality is - as ususal for a BBC show - excellent and due to the single-epsiode cases with a couple of season-long story-lines it is easy to follow, but in my opinion better than FOX's '24' which features a similar counter-terrorist unit as the main characters.

If you don't have A&E there is an ever better way of watching the show; on DVD. The main advantage is (short of the absence of commercials) that it features the entire 60 minutes per episode and not the abreviated 43mins episodes aired in the US in order to fit it in the usual 1-hour time-slot. The first two seasons are available for rent on Netflix or for purchase on the regular websites (Amazon, B&N, etc..) If you have the luxery of owning a Region-code free DVD player you can already buy the third season of MI-5 / Spooks on DVD from Amazon UK for about $20 less than the pre-order price (released in the US on Jan 30, 2006).

Gotta love the world-wide part of the web...

Rob Thomas concert

Last friday I went to a Rob Thomas concert at the Palace Theather here in Cleveland. Short version: best concert I've seen as far as I can remember. Thight show, stunning performance from Rob Thomas and a good support act (Anna Nalick).

Anna kicked off the show and lived up to my expectations as a good live act. I first heared of her on a radio interview during my drive to work and read a good review of her album in Rolling Stone before I picked it up back in April. She was relaxed (maybe a bit too much) but showed off her quality as a singer-songwriter. Yep, she wrote all lyrics and music on her album (Wreck of the Day) herself.

After Anna it was time for Rob Thomas. When the curtains rose, so did the crowd noise. The show was on ... and it never let up. Good mix of his own songs, some of the Matchbox 20 songs and a few covers thrown in to top it all off. During the unplugged part of the show he showed off his quality as a musician and kept the audience very well entertained. One thing I was suprised about was the bass coming out of speakers. Not deafening, but so low it litteraly rolled through the theater down to my guts. Amazing!!

After a show of about 2 hours (Springsteen-territory) the shows finale was the big hit 'This is how a heart breaks' and it was a perfect ending to a perfect concert. If Rob Thomas is coming to your town I highly recommend you go see it. He may not have the worlds greatest singing voice, but - due to his great songwriting, professionalism and sheer quality - that goes completey unnoticed.

All kinds of things to come

Man, did I ever suffer from writers block, lazyness or anything else that kept me from updating my blog. It kinda defeats having one almost. Ah well, it is what it is. Stay tuned since a few updates are coming...