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Mary and Tim Wheeler, with son Christopher.  Courtesy Mary Wheeler. Prepare yourself(s) for an amazing interview with a largely u...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

C'mon Get Happy

Back in December I put up a few links to stories about and pages made by The Partridge Family Temple.  I didn't comment because to be honest, the group befuddles me entirely.  But I think I love them.

Dangerous Minds has now put up an article and asks a very sensible question:

But it’s really just a bunch of quasi-evil 90s vintage hipsters fucking with you. Clearly, it’s satire, but what’s the joke? That religion and TV are the same thing? It’s a lot easier to just say that. You don’t need to invest 20 years into a fake cult for that.
First of all, I'm not entirely sure it's satire or "fake."  I don't know what it is though, hence my initial reluctance to comment.

One day, Martha, I'll share the story about how a "fake" fraternity I co-founded circa 1990 ended up on the FBI's radar in connection with the so-called "Gainesville Murders".  Relax, they caught the guy and executed him in 2006.

But it just goes to show that a befuddling joke with a hard edge can make people think and say all sorts of things.  Sometimes when people are puzzled, they get hostile, especially when people think you're laughing at them.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Diese Stiefel wurden zum Gehen gemacht

A Southern California footwear company has recalled a pair of its boots after a Redditor posted a picture on Imgur of the footprint they leave: a mandorla in glory, with a lucky seven swastikas inside.  A surprise to be sure.

The Redditor writes "There was an angle I didn't get to see when ordering my new work boots...."

Conal International Trading Co., the manufacturer, issued an apology and stated the swastikas are completely unintentional, blaming their Chinese manufacturer for the mistake.

One Redditor countered "The soles don't look that much like swastikas, but the prints are unmistakable and whoever made the soles would have understood that."

That actually might be true.  In many Asian cultures, the swastika still signifies good fortune, which was how it was used in the West for decades until the Third Reich tainted it until now and probably for a long time to come.  Until WW2, it was used on everything from Scout badges to Coca-Cola mementos.  It has been used for centuries as a religious symbol, even on synagogues.

Neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer called them a "Perfect footwear for Nazis....wanting to leave a good impression."  Hyuk hyuk.  Stern, a German magazine, notes that the boot's name Polar Fox -- Polarfuchs -- was an operation in WW2 in which German and Finnish soldiers captured a town in Finland from the Soviet Union.

If the Chinese maker of these boots did this on purpose or by accident, it wouldn't be the first time something like this has slipped through the cracks.  

Back in 2014 a German discount shop sold Chinese-made coffee mugs that featured flowers and....a portrait of Hitler.  Not to be outdone, Migros, a brand of Swiss coffee creamer, sold little doses of cream with a foil lid featuring the man, based on a cigar band.  The creamer company was mortified and issued an apology, but the third-party designer, Karo Shipping, didn't really understand the fuss.  Miglos severed their relationship.

In India, the use of Hitler is intentional.  Perhaps after a day of shopping for clothes at "Hitler" and Having a meal at "Hitler's Cross", you can have a "Hitler" Ice Cream, then go home for an episode of Hitler Didi or go to the movies and see Hitler Hero in Love.  Expat pedophiles need not worry either, because in Bangkok you can go to "Hitler" for a bucket of chicken.

Sometimes, like with Michael Graves' tea kettle said to look like Hitler, the resemblance is a bit of a stretch, as if people are out there looking to get offended, or just be silly.  But the kettle does, oddly enough, when seen from a certain angle, resemble Hitler. 

Then there those cases somewhere in-between.  When Trump was still but a long-shot waggling his tiny orange hands about, were the SS soldiers on one of his (hashtag) Make America Great Again tweets a gaffe, or was he trying to tell us something?  (and yes, I actually do think it was an error).  I guess we'll see; only 5 short days until the piss hits the fan.  Some people say not to worry, Trump's just playing to the crowd.  But watch out where them Polar Foxes go, and don't you eat that yellow snow....

Hitler and Nazi-related imagery seem to have popped up unexpectedly on products quite a bit recently.  It's as if the universe is telling us to examine what we buy closely.  You buy a coffee mug and you end up staring at Hitler every morning.

P.S.  Just to clarify what we're on about, here's the stock photo of some re-enactors in WW2 German uniforms that some witless (or very cheeky) graphic designer used in the offending Tweet.  And no, I don't think Trump did it on purpose.  I implied he's crazy like a fox, not stupid.  He could have vetted his propaganda better though  We originally posted on this here.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Gott mit uns: Taiwan on for Christmas

Note:  I really screwed up when I originally posted this yesterday.  Despite reading the articles and watching the video, I somehow had it in my head that this occurred in Thailand, not Taiwan!  I repeatedly referred to Thailand and Thai culture in the post, even asking rhetorical questions about Thailand's royal family to prove a point: that I'm an idiot, apparently.  An idiot in desperate need of a proof-reader.
I did a post a while back about "Hitler branding" in Thailand and India, mentioning "Hitler chic" as a pop cultural phenomenon throughout Asia.  Apparently, a furor has recently erupted in Taiwan over a school parade in which the kids marched carrying swastika placards and wearing black uniforms and swastika armbands.  Although the students chose the theme, the school's principal (or ex-principal; he's resigned) is quick to point out the kids aren't a problem, but that the (lack of) education on the subject is at fault.  A local Jewish leader agrees, and doesn't see the parade as an act of Antisemitism.  Just wildly inappropriate.

As the article states, there are only a thousand or so Jews living in Taiwan, and textbooks there naturally focus more on the Asian war rather than the European theater.  An interesting read; something so sensitive and well-known in the West seems to be something a lot of countries of the world know as much about as, well, most Americans for example, know about Taiwanese history and culture.

From the New York Times.

CNN's photos are pretty eye-popping; those kids' uniforms weren't just cobbled together by mom from old clothes laying about; some time and care went into making those things.  They're quite detailed and very, erm uniform. 

TIME's video shows the high quality of the props such as banners and eagle flag pole tops.  What strikes me is that while researching this stuff -- the banners and regalia are pretty detailed and authentic -- didn't they come across anything about what it all represented, and led to?

That this idea even made it to the voting stage demonstrates the vast cultural gulf between East and West.  We would have once called this a SNAFU, but now it might be what they call a "teaching moment".  One would think that somewhere along the line some adult involved would have said, "Wait a minute here...."  This regalia clearly wasn't clapped together overnight, although the video does mention the theme was chosen in part because it was relatively easy to convert their school uniform into spiffy SS duds!  It also mentions that "some" were unaware of Hitler's atrocities.  So that leaves "some" others with questionable judgment.  But as I've asked in other posts, how many of us know what subject could have the potential to offend the Taiwanese people, a nation of 23.5 million?  How many can even name the current President?  [This is where I originally went full-metal moron by asking how many among us could name Thailand's current king, or if you readers even knew Thailand is a kingdom.  It is.  And Quito is the capital of Ecuador.]

They take their parades seriously, I suppose.  That's a lot of work for a one-off event!  It happened at a Catholic school....maybe they saw some of those "Gott mit uns" belt buckles worn by the Wehrmacht and thought they must have been OK guys.  How can you be wrong with God on your side?

The Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now, too
Have God on their side

Kind of reminds of a book I read long ago called The Wave, a novelization from a film by the same name, loosely based on an actual experiment.  In the book, a school lesson/role play on how people came to embrace Nazism goes dangerously awry as the students actually begin to transform themselves into a movement of facho bully-boys.  From what I remember of my high school experience, this isn't much of a leap....