Monday, January 07, 2008

Back on station

As everyone knows who checked in this weekend, I'm back. With a little catch-up sleep over the weekend, I am more than ready to get back to the nation's business - and this little hobby.

Without making this a travel log, or showing too much leg - I just thought I would share a bit. Strictly for pleasure this time and with the family in tow, the family Salamander hit the Old World in style for New Years.

A week on the Continent without work related issues clouding me was outstanding. Just a few observations; for a population of over 300 million and some of the best Alpine skiing in the world, Americans are just pitiful on the slopes. Edelweiss is as nice as you hear, but don't spend all your time there. Travel by train in Europe (they're fast) is simply outstanding - especially with a few Euros more in 1st class. Our lack of good trains is a national shame.

Speaking of shame; the fact that the Hampton Roads/Tidewater/Norfolk/whateveryouwanttocallit area does not have a Metro system like the U-bahn and S-bahn system that they have is Munich is insane. DC's should be double in size. Now that everyone is paying what they should at the pump - maybe a nod to GOOD (not the FOD filled bus based system we have in most places where you put your life in your hands using it) public transport system can be looked at - and don't throw that ill-managed LA system in my face, that is just incompetence, graft, and bad work. Enough slug lines - give me a Metro system worthy of a great nation.

Anyway, in the course of the vacation we managed to take a quick tour of Munich, one of my favorite cities in the world - if I could get past my plateau of restaurant German, I could live in this very livable city in a heartbeat. Not just livable, but beautiful both day and night. If you have never been there, go. If you have already gone, go again.

I was glad that at last the kids are old enough to travel with me this time so I could show them one of "my" cities. Sure, it eats the wallet some, but I was giddy as can be having the brood in tow over a week on the Continent. In Munich, I did what everyone should do (the Germans do in school) - I took the kids to a Concentration Camp from WWII, in this case for us, Dachau.

The Germans have done a great job with it. A very balanced presentation that gives more depth, via facts, than the cardboard cut-out information you get in American schools.

Done after about 4 hours, we grabbed a snack at the station and headed home. Always trying to look part of the background, I spent my time back to downtown on the S-bahn reading a local paper (in German, I get about half it) and noticed something that I will cover at the end of the post.

We got back in town in time for dusk.
First place we went was to visit the Odeonsplatz, a place just pregnant with history. The photo on the upper right I took while I was there. Look familiar? This guy was there too at one time. Yep, I love this place for all sorts of reasons.

We did the usual trip to the Hofbrauhaus for a liter of good beer (HB
Dünkle) and to laugh at all the Italians, then on to my preferred Augustiner Grossgaststatte to get set. After that spell is when, at least for me, the big fun of the evening took place.

While wading through the local paper on the way back from Dachau, I saw that, irony, the quasi-neo-Fascists were going to hold a protest downtown....and the quasi-neo-Communists were going to counter protest. No, I couldn't help myself.

Much protested by Mrs. Salamander (actually, she was very tolerant) I managed to get a 5-minute block of time to wade in and see the freak show. With Mrs. Salamander and the wee-ones waiting by the U-bahn station next to a batch of nice German Police video taping the whole thing, I waded in and even managed to bring some sight and sound back for you. I apologize for the quality of the pictures and the sound (taken at different times), but the lighting was horrible, the crowd busy, and time was short. The video is at the bottom.

The guys in black were from this group. The guys in red from this group. And young. Both groups were in their 20s. Those fetid secular poisons from Europe, Fascism and Communism, still are boiling around in their home - though thankfully in small numbers. An interesting note though, the Red seemed more in the mood to fight than the Black. My vote? The guys in the green.

It all started when the Black tried to make some hay off the rather real problem they have in Germany WRT crime by foreigners and their un-assimilated children. If you are interested on how immigrant youth crime is playing in larger German politics, try here, here, here, here, and here.

Before I end this ramble, there was one thing this trip that bothered me; the exponential growth of the kaffiyeh fashion statement. You know, this thing.
In the 1960s, the kaffiyeh was renewed as a symbol of resistance as Palestinians escalated armed resistance in response to Israel’s 1967 invasion and occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The resistance captured the world’s attention when Leila Khaled and other members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—a Marxist group —wore kaffiyehs while hijacking five international airliners. These operations drew attention to the Palestinian struggle.

The kaffiyeh was made most popular by the late Yassir Arafat. He wore it draped around his head in the shape of historic Palestine throughout his years of participation in the resistance movement, then as president of the Palestinian National Authority.

The Palestinians have endured decades of brutal colonial occupation and exile. Their heroic struggle for freedom has inspired people around the world. Thousands of women and men, young and old, now wear the kaffiyeh proudly as a symbol of resistance and solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
Most of them are worn as a scarf by young women who would be raped, kidnapped, thrown into a hijab or a combo of the listed within hours of strutting around the beaches of Gaza like they were in Munich. Just stupid.

Speaking of stupid, back to the grindstone for 'ole Phibian. No broken legs or other need of a doctor this time; and down to 3 Aleve a day. I have a lot of stuff in draft, so for the next few days - visit early and visit often.

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