Sunday, April 19, 2009

Legend of the China Specialist

Some people are not qualified to do certain things. For example, I am most certainly not qualified to pitch for the New York Yankees (although judging from the game on Saturday, April 18, 2009, I'm going to start to limber up my arm just in case they need someone...but that's another blog post). And a lot of people are not qualified to comment on national affairs.

In that category is Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan is qualified to do a lot of things. He can "act," (dispelling the notion that English skills are necessary for any Asian to succeed in the United States), sing, and now he's apparently a qualified analyst on what sort of government the Chinese people need.

Recently, since apparently carrying the Olympic torch bestows powers I never knew about, Jackie Chan felt qualified to commentate about democracy in the "People's" "Republic" of China. And apparently, the Chinese people aren't ready to handle democracy and "need to be controlled."

Yes, the Chinese, the folks who brought you such great things as paper, gunpowder, chopsticks, printing, and the majority of your local university's computer science department, can't handle democracy because they're too busy...I don't freaking know.

Seriously, dude. Your reasoning is because Taiwan and Hong Kong are "chaotic." Right...yeah...and what the hell is Pakistan? Or Somalia, for that matter? Or this guy's 21st birthday party?

Let's take a look at the facts: Hong Kong is fairly freaking tame, despite what John Woo's movies say about it. It's a bit rough around the edges sometimes, but what city isn't? And it's not like it's being toppled by a coup d'etat every week or so. Nor is Taiwan. The "troubles" they've been having are fairly negligible compared to the actual chaos occuring in other nations.

Furthermore, let's take a look at how you've benefitted from a free world. Much of the money you've made, Mr. Chan, has been made in countries where freedom and democracy are thriving. Just letting you know. Heck, had you not been from Hong Kong, it might've been very very different for you.

And what would you suggest? Mao didn't exactly work out for China in the long run. And what do you base your judgement on? Hong Kong and Taiwan are about as chaotic as a dim sum brunch.

Maybe it's time to go back to making Shanghai Mornings or whatever it is you do.

Friday, April 3, 2009

No More Mr. Nice Guy?

I'm a big fan of two things: history and not doing a damn thing. Thankfully, there's the internet for people like me. One of the my favorite sites to peruse when I'm busy accomplishing both is Cracked, a site like Mental Floss with some videos and also more snarky attitude that hints of 4Chan (if you can call what you find on 4Chan "snarky attitude). Perhaps the best way to put it is that it's less hipster.

They, like Mental Floss, have lists of stuff that tell you about some really neat stuff. One of the lists that I came across during my hourly perusal of the site is entitled "6 Historical Villains Who Were OK Guys." Go ahead and read it, and I'll let you know what I think.

6) Genghis Khan

He was a pretty nasty dude, but considering where he came from (a combination of Baltimore and the Great Plains but with funny Asian dudes on horses), you really can't expect him to be some cuddly Barney-like object. But many people don't give him credit for things that are really freaking important. One example is diplomatic immunity. Beforehand, it was a occupation that could literally cause headaches, and by headaches I mean losing your head. Genghis Khan had a enough of these shenanigans and decided that the next punk-asses to give his diplomats any lip/a blade on the neck would be taken to the hole. Eventually this evolved to the charming folks at the UN sitting with headphones, totally not thinking about how the cops will totally kick their asses.

5) Benedict Arnold

They hit this one on the nail. I do have a bone to pick with their portrayal of the invasion of Canada. It was a stupid idea that didn't work (and didn't work the second time either) and probably shouldn't have been executed in the first place.

The mention of the alliance with France also is sort of misleading. Many, if not all, of the major figures in the revolution had some combat experience with the French.

4) Antonio Salieri

Whatever pauper's grave Mozart was buried in, all the copies of Amadeus and any mention of the film should be put in there with it. Granted, Mozart probably was some sort of flamboyant show off (a cross between that chick from Poison and Rick James). But that doesn't mean you have to do some movies that takes history and warps it into something else.

3) King John

They're giving him a lot of leeway here. King John wasn't the sharpest pencil in the box, which they state. But that doesn't excuse the fun times he stirred up. I mean, when was the last time you managed to get an entire nation on the blacklist because you were an idiot?

The Magna Carta was fairly momentous, but it wasn't some amazing document that gave everyone equal rights and a white picket fence to put in front of their hovel. Not so. Cracked did a good job in pointing out that while it was a momentous occasion in the field of governments creating written documents to limit themselves, it wasn't that much of a victory over oppression.

They also bring up a good point about Richard I. For all intensive purposes, Richard I was a pretty bad king. He barely spent any of his time in England, instead devoting it to running around the Holy Land. And don't whip out some half-assed management theory about "managing through absence."

2) Captain William Bligh

Life in the British Navy sucked, and there's no other reason to believe differently in the case of the Bounty. Sailors get real pissy a lot of the time too. Plus, there's not much I know about the story, so I'll just gloss over it.

1) Edward I

Edward I was an amazing king. Compare what England was like under his rule with what it was like under his father, Henry III, and you'll see why. Thanks to Braveheart, this conception has been messed up.

Edward II, his son, was a total moron. He was about as much of a bumbling idiot as John was, and he made it look bad. His father tried setting it up as well as he could (including hooking him up with the hottest woman in Christendom at the time), but it all went to hell. Guess this competency thing skips a generation every once in a while.