Wednesday, March 29, 2006

No thanks, please sell crazy elsewhere

The One Man Invasion doesn't get too many visitors to Invasion HQ and the few that show up at the door are often beggars. So when there was a knock at the door yesterday, you can imagine our surprise when two smiling ladies stood beaming on our doorstep. The ladies started by asking to speak to my parents or the head of the household. Ya see, most Romanians my age don't live alone, especially in my town. I explained to these nice ladies that I lived alone but I didn't own the place, hoping that this would be sufficient info to set them on there way. Ya see, most beggars that knock aren't exactly polite and a soccer game was on so I needed these women to scram. The ladies didn't take the hint and started to chat. I understood that they were from Prahova, a small town pretty far away, and they wanted to know if I was free to talk. I was surprised that someone from Prahova was here, but whatever. They offered me some magazine and started to talk about something, but since I find it hard to read and listen to Romanian at the same time, I didn't understand them. I looked at the magazine's headline and then it hit me...they weren't people from Prahova, they were people of Jehovah! I was talking to Jehovah's Witnesses!! I quickly told the ladies that I didn't understand them and that I was an American that didn't really understand or speak Romanian. One of the ladies started trying broken English with me, but thank God Jehovah that she didn't speak all that well. I told the ladies that I wasn't religious and she countered by asking where did I think the hills and trees come from. I answered that I didn't know and that it was a question for the scientists. She replied that she thought that God made them and I said that was interesting and to have a nice day.

Between religious loonies and beggars, I'm never answering my door again. Stamp it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hai Rapid! Hai Steaua!

Rapid Bucharest and Steaua Bucharest soccer teams have qualified for the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup, the second most important European club soccer competition (like the NIT kinda). With Romania not qualifying for the World Cup and no success in the Winter Olympics, the best thing that Romania has going for it is a 2nd place finish in the World Championships of Women's Handball. Not anymore.
Rapid (Ra-peed) and Steaua (Stau-oowah) have knocked off several more fashionable sides from Western Europe (Germany, France, Spain, Holland) to reach the quarterfinals. This has been Romanian club soccer's best showing in at least a decade from two of the country's most popular teams. With two teams in the quarters, Romania is guaranteed to have at least one team in the semis. How's that? Because last Friday Rapid and Steaua were drawn against one another for a semifinal derby that's bound to bring Bucharest to its knees.
All of Romania, One Man Invasion included, was hoping for an all-Romania final and the last thing we all wanted was the teams to have to play each other in the quarters. Disappointment aside, the matches should be (don British accent) absolute crackers. The Romanian league is very tight at the top with Bucharest's other top team, Dinamo, leading the way. Both Steaua and Rapid are close behind, smelling blood as Dinamo has played poorly since the season resumed after the winter break.
With city pride on the line as well as a place in the semifinals, the Steaua-Rapid tie will bring Romania to a standstill, so all of you with business in Romania on March 30th or June 4th don't bother.

Top Ten Movies with Pacino as a Football Coach

Having been subjected to various and sundry, not to mention nonsensical, top 10 lists for years by certain friends, the discussions can now be forever closed because our opinion has now been given to us. ListsofBests.com has compiled lists of all types from best books to most powerful farts ever registered. Actually the farts aren't on there, but we bet you already clicked on the link. If you have a list to add or a bone to pick with one of the posted lists, post it in our comments.

ps - You can spend days on this site reading the lists and enter at your own risk.

Friday, March 17, 2006

YOU-ESS-AY!, YOU-ESS-AY!

Although the United States now is useless at baseball, don't despair. The Invasion's Ministry of Xenophobia and Jingoism is proud to report that while the Hispanics, Asians and Latin Americans (Canadians too! - ed.) best us at our own national pasttime (and make better cars, steal our jobs, etc - ed.), Americans can take heart in their other national teams. The national basketball team continues to dominate global competition, Bode Miller and the national hockey teams brought home the gold, and...what's that you say?...Oh. With the Home of the Brave taking it on the chin (and in other more sensitive places) across the world, it's time to rally around something.
Wednesday, the US Men's National Soccer Team moved up to #5 in the FIFA world rankings. Moving up from #6, the MNT (Men's National Team) reached their highest ever ranking just months before the World Cup. First round opponents Italy, Ghana and the Czech Republic are all in the top 50 with the Czechs occupying the #2 slot. With a warm up match in less than a week against World Cup host Germany, the MNT gets a real chance to see where they stand prior to the tourney.

(Below are the top 10 nations)
1.) Brazil (loads of scoring power, suspect defense)
2.) Czech Republic (top striker out w/busted knee)
3.) Netherlands (OMI's pick to win the WC)
4.) Argentina (lost to England and Croatia recently)
5.) USA
6.) Spain (World Cup choke artists)
7.) Mexico (can't take penalties)
8.) France (rely on aging Zidane = bad idea, lost to Slovakia recently)
9.) England (other big favorites, loads of pressure)
10.) Portugal (overrated at #10)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

One Step Closer

Recently the Polish Sejm (lower house) ratified a law that granted Romania and Bulgaria entrance into the European Union. The Sejm members voted 426 for, 1 against, and 1 abstained (Rep. Czerwin was apparently mowing his lawn). The law now goes to the Polish Senate for approval.
With Romania getting ever closer to cherished status as a member of the EU, the country is starting to come to grips with what's going to happen when they actually get in. Many Romanians are afraid, in many cases rightfully so, that EU accession will bring higher prices and economic hardship for regular peeps. On the other hand, most forward-looking Romanians see accession as a great opportunity to join non-backward democratic nations in free market economies (how free market the EU actually is = another story). This contrast reflects the dichotomous nature of Romania. A majority of Romanians live in rural areas and stand to be hurt the most by the rise in prices and stricter agricultural laws that come with EU membership. The wealthier and better educated Romanians live in the cities and stand to benefit by the increased opportunities that EU membership will provide.
Although there will be individual losers and winners when it comes to the EU membership game, the OMI believes that as a whole, society will benefit. Already pressure from the EU has forced the government to become increasingly proactive in fighting corruption, albeit an increase from no fighting at all. Also the government has shoved more than 2/3 of its judges out the door in an effort to modernize its judicial system. The big countries in the EU are threatening to postpone Romania's accession if they don't start working on certain areas that need improvement (i.e. corruption) which is spurring the necessary changes that politicians have been unwilling to make until now.
Long story short, the Invasion firmly believes that joining the EU will be a good thing as long as idiots, whether in Bucharest or Brussles, don't let their stupid ideas mess it all up. If that's not a life lesson, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Your Daily Fix

With nothing much going on in Romania at the moment, the One Man Invasion has decided to throw out some potentially life changing tips to our ever expanding readership (that's a hint to tell all your friends about us).
First, check out the top left corner of your screen. If the icon consists of a blue 'e', consider yourself way behind the times. No one who's anyone is using Internet Explorer anymore. Make the movie to Mozilla's Firefox browser. It's safer, faster and much better than IE. Also by using it you'll be sticking it to the man (see previous posting).
Get Firefox!
Once you get on the Firefox bandwagon, you can start checking out all the other cool sites internet hipsters read on a daily basis. If you're looking for a geeky, tech filled site with weird and cool things, hit up BoingBoing. BoingBoing has won lots of awards and has pretty interesting stuff. Political junkies should zip over to Wonkette for news with a dash of lime and a double shot of tequila. Finally for the sports fan is Deadspin.com. The Invasion has just started reading this one and we're a fan, but if it starts sucking, don't hate, your blog prolly sucks too. (cue staring into the sky and whistling as we escape stage right w/guilty looks)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

RaggleSnaggle.com's Knowledge

Rachel McAdams, Angelina Jolie, the man...not just our fuzzy dream from last night, but a list of things that the One Man Invasion loves sticking it to. While we can't help you with the first two, we can certainly aid with the third. Thanks to Godless Scientist Brett of RaggleSnaggle.com, the OMI is giving you a step-by-step on how to burn a DVD. Read below and start showing Hollywood who's boss.

All you have to do is buy a DVD burner and install two programs. If you're afraid of opening up your nerdbox, buy an external burner that connects via USB 2.0 or Firewire. After installing the burning software that comes with it(probably Nero), download a program called DVD Shrink.

Step-by-step:
1. Put DVD in.
2. Open DVD Shrink and hit "Open Disc"
3. After analysis, take out unnecessary bullshit (i.e. previews and French Commentary)
4. Insert blank DVDR (about $0.30 a piece)
5. Hit the "Backup" button.

Total processing time is usually about 35 minutes. You need at least 5 GB of empty space on your hard drive.

--Thanks Brett

Friday, March 10, 2006

Start Pouring the Jaegar Shots

Today Red Bull finalized their purchase of the New York Metrostars. Under the purchase, the Major League Soccer franchise will be renamed Red Bull New York and the team itself will be the New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls will have a new logo and uniforms to boot (boot, soccer, geddit?).
MLS Comissioner Don Garber said, "Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz brings international credibility and proven, innovative marketing expertise to Major League Soccer."
Mateschitz may or may not have continued (cue the thumping eurotrash techno), "Ja, das iz guut. Drink Red Bull, eet gives you vings."
New York GM, former US national team star, and long-lost Hohman brother Alexi Lalas contributed this gem, "I would ask our fans to have an open mind, because we're going to blow your mind." Blow our mind, eh? The last time the Invasion heard this sales pitch we lost our shoes, our cellphone and our dignity (or was that someone else?), so in other words, bring it on, Lalas.

Although the One Man Invasion is fully aware of the health risks Red Bull poses (irratibility, heart explosions, etc), we can only cheer this move. Red Bull owns a team in Salzburg, Austria and at the moment they're near the top of the league. The MLS certainly needs a more diverse ownership and the frequently bottom-feeding New York franchise needs a spark. The Red Bull peeps will provide both, especially the spark.

In other MLS news, the Houston franchise has been named the Dynamo. Their original plan was to be named Houston 1836, the year the city was founded (a common practice in Europe, especially Germany). Unfortunately los Mexicanos of Houston weren't too happy seeing as the people who founded the city in 1836 were the ones who started a war and kicked out the Mexicans. There probably is something funny and poignant to write here about immigration, but the Invasion will leave it up to you.
NY Red Bulls' GM Alexi Hohman Lalas

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Modern Heroes

Next Friday, Boy George, king of the 1980s and super gay dude, will be in Bucharest spinning his dj magic. Shockingly, the former Culture Club front man, real name George O'Dowl, will be performing at the Kristal Glam Club. If you're in town, head to #2 Sebastian Bach Street and get ready to get down.

that's metal

Human Rights in Romania and Similarities


The US State Department recently released its 2005 Country Report on Human Rights Practices. Yesterday Condi Rice presented the report to President Traian Basescu (above) in a massive ceremony in Bucharest. Actually that didn't happen, but I saw the picture and it looks good. Anyhoo, the individual country reports are forever long, so the One Man Invasion is gifting you, loyal reader, with the abridged version accompanied by informed commentary. All you foreign affiars wonks can check out the full report by clicking here.

The government made increasing attempts to address human rights issues during the year; however, human rights abuses continued to occur. The following human rights problems were reported:

* police abuse and harassment of detainees and Roma (Gypsies)
* poor conditions in prisons and detention centers (our chief complaint)
* political influence over the judiciary (actually being addressed, no joke)
* restrictions on freedom of religion
* failure to restitute property to Greek Catholic Church and others (score one for the Communists)
* incidents of intimidation and harassment of journalists (true)
* widespread corruption (didn't see that one coming)
* violence/discrimination against women
* significant lapses in protecting children's rights
* trafficking in persons (protistutes)
* neglect of and inadequate assistance for persons with disabilities (inadequate as in none)
* violence/discrimination against the Roma and homosexuals (another stunner)
* discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS
* lack of enforcement of labor laws

Reading this might have you thinking it's all doom and gloom in Romania, but don't fret, check this out:

"Traian Basescu was elected president in December 2004 in elections characterized by irregularities, but which were judged generally free and fair."
"Media and human rights organizations reported that the abuse of prisoners by authorities and other prisoners continued to be a problem."
"Reports of corruption and the government response to corruption remained a focus of public discussion, political debate, and media scrutiny."
See? Romania isn't all that different from the US.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Act A Fool

Unfortunately this posting is unrelated to Romania, but thankfully it isn't related to Ludacris either.
Even though taking on a country singlehandedly isn't lucrative work ($300/month), the Invasion is quickly becoming a guru when it comes to international and personal finance. Subscriptions to Newsweek International and The Economist as well as light reading such as The World is Flat (reviewed by the Awkward Toad) have helped lead the OMI from the economic wilderness.

Although the aforementioned reading is nice, if you're looking to become un-clueless just zip right over to The Motley Fool. These guys use layman's terms to explain things, various and sundry, concerning investing. Sign up for the free site ) and head for Fool School to read the "13 Steps for Investing Foolishly". From the S&P 500 to learning how to retire at 40, the 13 Steps are highly recommended. After reading it, you'll wish you had money to invest, and you won't feel like a moron when talking to your friend's dad about China and Globalization.

The 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly

Friday, March 03, 2006

Martisor

Last Wednesday was Martisor (marts-i-shore). Celebrated on March 1st, Martisor signals and celebrates the coming of spring. Throughout Romania people give one another little trinkets with red and white string tied to them, pinning the trinkets on the person's clothes. Up here in Bucovina (NEastern Romania) the ladies give the gents the trinkets with the fellas returning the favor a week later on Women's Day. Needless to say we felt like a pincushion as students and colleagues gifted the One Man Invasion with a host of trinkets. Although the trinket is the flash, the string is the real heart of Martisor. Red symbolizes life and white represents purity. It's a nice little holiday and the trinkets are a nice touch, but in true Romanian fashion, there was a catch. On the day when we were to look for signs of spring, it snowed half a foot. It's been freezing here since the beginning of spring and forecasts say more snow is on the way.

Gladwell

I know it's not related to Romania, but Malcolm Gladwell has started his own blog. Although it pales in comparison to the One Man Invasion, we felt it necessary to help out other less talented scriitori ('writers' in romanian) get some recognition. Highly recommended reading. Also recommended is Bill Simmons, basically the best sports writer in America. If you're not reading these guys already, you're probably stupid. Sorry.

Gladwell.com

Sports' Guy Bill Simmons Page