Saturday, September 30, 2006

Transylvania II

a view from Hotel Sighişoara

a view from Hotel Sighişoara

the house where Vlad Ţepeş was born, Sighişoara

main entrance to the citadel and the clock tower

view over Sighişoara from the clock tower

Transylvania I

the Braşov sign on Mt Tâmpa

Strada Republicii, Braşov

Piaţa Mică, Sibiu

Cascada, the falls along the Transfăgărăşan road, Romania’s highest asphalted road

Lake Bâlea, the glacial lake at the top of the Transfăgărăşan road

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Orthodox wedding in Bucharest

the church

inside the church

Romanian line dancing

Sightseeing in Bucharest

the old Securitate building incorporated into a newer structure

the Athenaeum

the view down a random street

Ceauşescu’s House of the People, the 2nd largest building in the world

some peasants in the Village Museum

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In the footsteps of The Amerika

Here we go…

Yesterday I read in the Czech news that Prague had been on a heightened state of alert since early Saturday morning due to an unspecified terrorist threat. Whatever - I hadn’t noticed anything at the airport on Sunday.

Today I read in the Czech news: Terorista chtěl napadnout Londýn letadlem uneseným z Prahy – Terrorist wanted to attack London with a plane hijacked from Prague.

Apparently, back in 2002, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (of 9/11 fame) planned an attack on London’s Heathrow airport using a Czech Airlines plane. This information comes from the autobiography of Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan.

Or actually, as the article says further down, KSM wanted to use any passenger plane from any of the airports in Czech, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Romania or Malta. The reason? Laxer security. No shit.

Thus far, those of us east of London, and especially when on a flight heading yet farther east, still enjoy the feel of metal cutlery when we are served a delicious airline meal. I don’t know anyone who has been forced to insert his contact lenses at the airport in Prague so that he can dump out the three drops of solution in the lens case, or anyone who has been forced to drink her own breast milk.

At the airport in Bucharest on Sunday, the walk-through metal detector was set at a high enough sensitivity to catch the under-wire in my bra. The female security checker did not have one of those wand thingies to wave through my aura, so I instead got a good old-fashioned frisking, which I quite enjoyed. But I digress.

One night last week in the hotel bar in Sighişoara, Tan and I ended up talking to some other tourists. There was a couple from North Carolina who were pretty adventurous travellers and had been a lot of places. But Ellen was explaining that she would never travel to a Muslim country, not even to someplace like Montenegro or Albania. She was practically pleading with me, as the only other American in the bar, to understand why she was afraid. I told her that I did understand, but that I also recognised that she was a victim of the fear-mongering that goes on in The Amerika. Her husband absolutely agreed with me, in the manner of vigorously nodding his head at me (although safely out of his wife’s field of vision).

Is that where the Czechs are headed? Towards everyone being brainwashed into fear? I don’t think so. The news says that we currently have tougher security measures in place - cameras and police checks, etc, but Czechs don’t scare easily. After having been under both Nazi and Soviet occupations, it’s going to take a lot more than ‘an unspecified threat’ to ruffle Czech feathers.

And then there are the comments of Jiří Langer, the Czech counter-intelligence chief, which pretty much sum up the Czech attitude to terrorism:

“When there is a bomb attack at a seaside resort, other foreigners do not visit the location for some time. On the contrary, Czechs go to this particular site because the prices of the stays fall.”

Take that, evil terrorists!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What Max did on 9/11

rtm called me yesterday at 16.37 to inform me that there was going to be a one-night only showing of the film Loose Change at Cinema Oko to mark the anniversary of 9/11. I immediately agreed to meet him there.

I had never seen Loose Change. I downloaded it from the internet months ago, but I didn’t know how to work out the codecs. I never worried too much about not seeing the film, being that I have read and watched so many other things about how the events of September 11, 2001 happened or did not happen. But I was not going to pass up an opportunity to see the film on a big screen.

Vanity Fair magazine published a feature about Loose Change and the young men who had made it in the July 2006 issue. I had been excited about that story and extremely impressed with the filmmakers – “three kids from a hick town in upstate New York”. Dylan Avery had set out to make a fictional film about himself and his friends “discovering that 9/11 was an inside job, and doing something about it...and basically that happened in real life.”

I told one of my Czech colleagues I was going to see the film and what it was about. “You believe those conspiracy theories?” he asked me incredulously. Damn – once again I had forgotten that normal mainstream people, no matter what nationality they are, still drink the kool-aid.

Loose Change was fantastic. A lot of people in the cinema, mostly 20-something Czechs, had seen the film before. Although the events of the film are horrifying no matter who carried them out, parts of the film elicited laughter from the audience – not because the bits were funny, but because they were so absurd in terms of what the government has been selling to the people as truth.

As an example, the recordings of phone calls that supposedly came from flight 93. The flight attendant who was reporting that her colleagues had been stabbed, first class was full of smoke and no one was answering the phone in the cockpit, was doing so in a calm and steady voice, and there was no screaming or any other sound of panic in the background. And one of the passengers who called his mom identified himself by his full name: “Mom? This is Mark Bingham…. There are hijackers…You believe me, don’t you?” Weird.

Some of the information was old hat to all of us wacky conspiracy theorists, e.g. controlled demolition of the three World Trade Center buildings, the impossibility of a plane having crashed into the Pentagon, some of the alleged hijackers being spotted alive and well long after the events, the motives behind destroying WTC 7… But some of the information I had not heard before, especially that relating to the huge amount of gold missing from beneath the WTC.

Max’s message for 9/11: If you have not seen Loose Change, SEE IT. Is it fact? No. Loose Change offers a lot of theories, and evidence to back up the theories, but the only fact is that we don’t know what really happened on 9/11. What is inspired about Loose Change is that no one could possibly watch it and still believe what the government wants us to believe. And questioning, thinking for yourself, and just saying ‘no’ to the kool-aid is what it’s all about.

Thank you, Dylan Avery, Korey Rowe and Jason Bermas. You guys are awesome.

To purchase Loose Change, or to watch it for free, go to

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Stupid Rhetoric

I saw this story last night just around 11 pm, but resisted the urge to stay up to write about it. I figured it would still make me angry in the morning.

Bush compares Bin Laden to Hitler

My first thought: Oh dear, Bush actually believes the crap that comes pouring out of Rumsfeld’s mouth. And once again, the irony weighed heavily upon me.

“Underestimating the words of evil and ambitious men is a terrible mistake,” he said.

I direct you straight to the words of evil and ambitious men, otherwise known as Project for the New American Century.

But, he added, the US and its allies could be confident of victory in “the great ideological struggle of the 21st Century” because “we have seen free nations defeat terror before.”

Oh, really? Have we? Which free nations have defeated terror? It seems to me that terror goes on and on until it just sort of peters out by itself, if ever. And it also seems to me that the neo-cons are more full of manure than all of the newly fertilised corn fields in Iowa.

“The best way to protect America is to stay on the offence.”

Allow me to interpret that for you. The best way to protect The Amerika is to continue taking away our citizens’ liberties in every way we can and to invade more countries.

Other goals in the US strategy include denying terrorists control of any nation or area they could use as a refuge.

Meaning we are going to invade Iran.

He defended the controversial Patriot Act and terrorist surveillance programme...“If al-Qaeda is calling somebody in America, we need to know why in order to stop attacks.”

And if Max is calling her little sister in The Amerika, we obviously need to hear what they’re talking about too. That Max is really dangerous – I hear she wants to learn how to shoot a gun.

And the audience applauded. Idiots.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Invasion of Privacy

I was alerted to this one on From there I was directed to this article, “The New Census: An All-Out Assault on Your Privacy” by Jarret Wollstein. From there I linked to the survey questionnaire.

According to the article, “The American Community Survey” is designed to replace the census. For now, it is being sent to 1 million households in The Amerika each year. I have read the survey. The intrusive nature of the questions is so unbelievably ballsy that my mouth fell open as I was reading.

From the “Assault on Privacy” article:

“This new ‘census’ form is 24-pages long, and demands that you lay bare every detail of your life, including how much you earn, what your home is worth, details of your health, when you leave for work, previous addresses, pregnancies, monies received from government, and on and on.

“I say demand because you can be fined up to $1,000 for each of the 72 questions you don’t answer or which you answer ‘incorrectly’. However, so far no one has been fined for not answering, nor are they likely to be if public resistance is strong.

“The ways the government could use this information to harm you are mind-boggling. For instance, any financial discrepancy with IRS or Social Security records could result in your criminal prosecution. Knowing when you leave for work could enable police, acting under the Patriot Act, to secretly enter your home.

“The American Community Survey also demands that you report on the activities of relatives, employers and roommates. Joseph Stalin could hardly ask for more surveillance powers.”

As the article points out, Article I of the Constitution grants the government the power to conduct a census once every 10 years.

From Article I Section 2 of the Constitution:

“The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”

It is entirely clear when you look at Article I Section 2 that the only purpose of the “Enumeration” is to apportion representation in Congress based on the relative populations of the states.

The Oxford Dictionary of English defines the verb “enumerate” as “establish the number of”.

What that all means is that the government is allowed to count the people, and nothing more.

The American Community Survey is simply a clear and obvious penetrating invasion of privacy. It is illegal, immoral and dangerous. If you receive one in the post, my advice is to burn it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

It's a Movie

Death of a President will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and will be shown on UK digital tv channel More4 shortly thereafter. The film is about the assassination of George W. Bush in Chicago in 2007.

Certain people have been offended by the film. I have collected some of their comments from the BBC website so that I could tell them how stupid they are right here on my website.

John Beyer of MediaWatch called the film “irresponsible.” He claimed that it might inspire someone to really assassinate Bush. As he told the Daily Mirror: “There’s a lot of feeling against President Bush and this may well put ideas into people’s heads.”

Max says: Yes, there is a lot of feeling against “President” Bush, but if anyone wants to try to kill him, they are going to do it regardless of a fictional film. They already have the ideas in their heads. Don’t make a movie into more than what it is – a movie.

The White House said, “We are not going to comment because it does not dignify a response.”

Max says: Ha ha, you lose, you just commented. Assholes.

The Texas Republicans don’t like the film either. Spokesman Gretchen Essell: “I cannot support a video that would dramatise the assassination of our president, real or imagined.”

Max says: Thank you for acknowledging that our “president” is only imagined. As for the video - it’s a film, a movie, Hollywood-style entertainment. It neither deserves nor needs your support.

Ms Essell also said, “I find this shocking, I find it disturbing. I don't know if there are many people in America who would want to watch something like that.”

Max says: I want to watch it! I’ll buy the DVD as soon as it comes out so I can watch it over and over and over – if I ever get round to buying a DVD player.

And, by the way, Gretch, you are full of shit. In the world of today, which is filled with terror and illegal wars and other types of indiscriminate violence and human suffering, how the hell could anyone find a mere political assassination shocking? Your view is naïve and pathetic, and you should probably just shut your mouth.