February 2, 2009: Happy 15th Anniversary to the Ralstons

Wow, fifteen years.  I can’t believe that the Ralston’s wedding was fifteen years ago!  That is just crazy.

Here is some serious xenophobia in northern Italy  – some cities are beginning to ban “foreign” foods claiming that only regional cuisine be allowed.  This is a slipperly slope since it is primarily a form of racism and secondly it is completely undefinable.  Already, in an act of extreme racism against a large percentage of national Italians, it has been put form that French cuisine is “Italian” but that Sicilians are foreigners and their cuisine is not legal.  Even though Arabs are a primary influence in modern Italy there is so much racism in Italy today, apparently, that any food widely perceived as being derived from Arab cuisine may be outlawed no matter how fundamental it is to the Italian diet or how discriminatory it is to the population at large.

Actions like these make us wonder if a new Mussolini might rise again in Italy.  Remember than when Italy expressed solidarity with Nazi Germany before and during World War II that Italy was allowed to change sides mid-war and was “forgiven” for its transgressions while Germany both lost the war and was forced to endure half a century of direct oppression.  Italy learned no such lesson and, in fact, that they might be able to get away with things like, oh I don’t know, institutionalized racism.

Perhaps it is time for some of the more recent European nations to rethink their structures.  We saw the forced conglomerate of Yugoslavia break apart over the last decade and we have seen the two Germanies reunite after a very long time apart.  A few countries have had the opportunity to rethink decades of externally instituted national boundaries.

Italy, like many European nations like Germany and Yugoslavia, is actually a relatively recent invention.  The war of Italian unification happened around the same time that the American Civil War took place – which was not all that long ago.  Not so long for the country to have time to adjust to being a single culture which they, like the US, is clearly not.  Unlike the US which is a highly mobile population that was already highly integrated between the north and the south and split widely based on ethics and not culture, the nation of Italy is split based on geography, history, culture, climate, cuisine and race.  The demarcation is rather significant unlike in America.  In the US, as well, the war took place after a hundred years of unification as the United States and after a long tradition of being cooperative colonies under British rule before that.  Italy has no such tradition since Roman times.

There really is very little reason for the nation of Italy, as we know it today, to remain a single country.  The unification was done by force of arms (and shortly after the unification the large Sicilian emmigration began supplying the United States with one of our largest population groups over the course of just a decade or two joining the Engish, Dutch and Germans) and Siciliy (both Sicilies including the island as well as the “boot” up to Naples which used to be the capital of the Two Kingdoms of Sicily before unification) was kept as a part of the empire by force and not by will.  Keep in mind that Americans often think of the US invasion of Sicily in 1943 as us arriving to liberate Sicily from the facists and Nazis of northern Italy and Germany.  Perhaps this was not the case but the mindset happened for a reason.  Hard-core, insane nationalism was primarily a central-Eurpean phenominon originating from the Holy Roman homeland and not a result of Mediterranean culture.

Germany has had the long-term benefit of having lost the war so decisively.  Yes, several generations, who had nothing to do with the war, had to suffer horribly, especially at the hands of the Soviets, but now Germany has been allowed to re-unify under their own terms, has come to grasp with its own culturale and social shortcomings and views itself with a suspicious eye, always weary that the worst could happen again – and just be worry so it seems that it likely never will.  Germany has arisen from its own ashes and has redefined itself as a war-adverse, economically driven, friendly neighbour nation that takes its global responsibilities seriously.

I woke up rather early this morning, on my own, and was able to start work on the early side today. Dominica got a chance, with Liesl sleeping, to do two more lessons in her first UNIX Administration class from UofI OST and then got some time to continue playing Paper Mario.

Work slowed down a bit this afternoon which was nice.  In the mail today my brand new copies of Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy IX, both for the original Sony Playstation, arrived.  I bought them via eBay getting quite a good deal.  Getting numbers eight and nine in the series officially completes my FF collection.  I now own at least one copy of every title in the main series (1-10, 10 Part 2 and 12.)  I am really looking forward to getting to play these later two PSX titles.  I have no idea why I never got them back when I owned a Playstation.  They must have released after I was no longer playing it or at least not very often.

I only even played the original Playstation while living in Greece, New York with Josh and later Josh and Andy.  I got the Playstation while living in Greece.  Mark and I had bought it together but then he never paid for his half and I got saddled with it even though he was the one that had really wanted to get it and had talked me into going halves on it (but putting it on my credit card, of course.)  So it was my unplanned game system of the period when I already owned a Nintendo 64 which I didn’t have enough time to play.

So I probably got the Playstation in 1998 or maybe even early 1999.  I know that I never hooked it up again after moving out of Greece which I did on February 20th, 2000 to move to Ithaca (then Pittsburgh and then Washington) so I could not possibly have used it for very long.

After work we ate dinner, vegetarian pot pie, and watched a little of Major Dad.  Since having moved to Peekskill we almost never eat fish anymore.  I used to have fish in almost every meal but now almost nothing.  Our dairy consumption is down significantly as well.  We have switched from real cheese to soy-based vege-cheese which is much healthier and we almost never eat out getting things like pizza.  We are much healthier now than we were six months ago.

Tonight Dominica decided that she really wanted me to hook up the Playstation 2 in the living room so that she can play our stacks and stacks of Playstation 2 games that we have not been able to touch for months.  So I set about on an hour long search looking for the adapters to plug in the PS2.  I eventually found them but it was so late then that she was not all that interested.

She also sent me out tearing the house apart attempting to find the missing wireless dongle and memory card for the GameCube.  That required me to empty out all of the under-the-stairs storage in the basement, dump bins of cabling out onto the floor and sort through everything very carefully.  We took the last of the unpacked boxes upstairs and Dominica sorted through them unpacking everything that we had left to unpack.  Then, just because she didn’t trust my searching them, I carried all of our plastic drawers from under my office desk upstairs and she went through all of them in the living room.

We never did find the GameCube stuff that we needed but tonight did give us a chance to clean out a ton of things that have accumulated, mostly during last minute packing, into strange nooks and crannies.  A lot of mail was just thrown into drawers the last few weeks in Newark since all of the correct places to put the mail had already left.

I got to play Fable for a while tonight which was really nice.  I was really upset, though, when after playing through a very long, hard and important part of the game without any way to save that the XBOX 360 crashed and I had to physically power it down.  So quite a bit of work on the game was lost, again.  Game designers need to be accutely aware that when they spread out save points they are putting the game at the mercy of every little glitch, power outage, hardware problem, surprise phone call, etc.  And not to mention making a game potentially uncompletable my a lot of children whose parents will not allow them to play more than, say, two hours per night.  Having a quest that must be done in a single shot that takes three hours, then, is no different to them then having the game have a bug that cannot be addressed.  Making saving difficult is a cheap way out of making gameplay good.  With a little thought there are better ways to make a video game interesting.

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