Russia and Equality – Lots of Thoughts

Each day I read more and more about the situation over in Russia for our LGBT brothers and sisters and their supporters.  Things are bad there and they show no sign of getting better.  This has resulted in outcries in the West as people are treated so poorly.  It has led to a campaign to get the IOC to change the Olympic games from Sochi, Russia to Vancouver, Canada.  President Obama has spoken out and said the best course of action is to show up in defiance of Russia’s laws instead and shows the example of Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics showing up in defiance of Adolph Hitler.

I disagree mister President.  In 1936 we showed up to the games and while we may have embarrassed Adolph Hitler in the eyes of the allies, it only spurred Hitler to further action!  We added to an increased German economy by showing up to those games which then turned their power on the rest of the world shortly thereafter.  If we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.  What we should have learned from those games is that the world should not have shown up to the Olympics in 1936.  We should have had games for the free world elsewhere and made Germany look weak instead of strong.  Jesse Owens may have embarrassed Hitler in our minds, but he did not in the eyes of the German people, in fact, it made them angrier!

When LGBT athletes win in Sochi next year it will not prove the Russians wrong.  It will make them furious.  The attacks that are becoming prevalent there in Russia will only increase!  These people don’t think LGBT people are inferior athletes, they think they are not worthy of living.  Your thought process is completely wrong.

Countries who support equality should not be showing up to the Olympics next year. It’s time to start our own games that can show we don’t need the IOC and their cowardly stance to give our athletes a great competition.  We should not be contributing to the economy of a people so filled with hatred but should instead be spending out money elsewhere.

Elsewhere in response to the Russian stance on LGBT rights is the call to dump Soli vodka.  Dan Savage has been leading the campaign against Russian Vodka.  I completely support dumping Russian products, like I said previously we should not be supporting the economy of a country filled with so much hatred.  However, that said, Stoli is NOT Russian.  Stoli actually comes from Latvia here in the USA.  Ten years ago, Putin tried to get Stoli to be produced by the Russian government.  He claimed the SPI group stole the rights from Russia and forced the group to flee the country.  Stoli is not a Russian company and is in fact not even sold in Russia as the government controls that brand in Russia.  Russia recently sued to have the rights to Stoli here in the USA but they lost the case and Stoli remains produced by SPI in Latvia for us.

However, there are other companies closer to home we should be looking at.  We need to start petitioning NBC to not show the 2014 Olympics on TV.  I realize that this is a big thing to ask from them.  The Olympics bring a great deal of money to them and they are a struggling network already.  I also realize that if the US does still participate in the games people will want to watch our players.  So I give this alternative as a compromise if the games need to be shown.  Send less crew to Russia than you would normally for the Olympics.  Make it as scarce a crew as possible as to not support the economy there.  Do not under any circumstances show the opening or closing ceremonies which serve as advertisements for the host country.  Do not show any pre-game preparations this year.  You should not be arriving in Russia till the start of the games and should be leaving immediately after.  Russia is not a place that those who support equality should be visiting.  Instead of airing the opening and closing ceremonies air pieces highlighting the injustice that is occurring in Russia.  Make sure to keep the injustice happening there a focal point of discussions about Russia.  Don’t talk about their amazing facilities or the money spent creating them as in past years.  It should be focused only on the games and the injustice.

Ask Coca Cola and McDonald’s to drop their sponsorship of the Olympics.  Both companies are standing by the IOC and the decision to keep the games in Sochi.  Both have been LGBT allies in the past but as with any company money is more important than Human Rights.  However, we need to show that we have money too.  If they decide to continue to support the Olympics we will not support them.  No more Jack and Coke people.  If we show them that their decision to stay with the Olympics will hurt them worse in the long run then we have a chance of changing things.

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Ikea

I was bored tonight so did a bit of creative writing.  I was inspired by Jonathan Coulton’s song Ikea.  I hope you enjoy this quick little story.  By the way, I didn’t do research into the founding of Ikea until after I wrote the first portion.  So the use of the name Ingvar was completely coincidental and creepy when I looked it up.

 

THE BLACK SEA – 1042 A.D.

Ingvar the Far-Traveled clutched the scrolls in his hands as if they were the most important thing on Earth.  It was all he could do while the ship tossed and turned in the boiling, storm addled sea.  High above his head the gods battled with the ferocity of beasts paying little mind to the men below.  The Rus Vikings who traveled with him were not afraid of much, but tonight it was clear that there was a deep fear in them all.

Ingvar covered his head as splinters of wood embedded themselves in his body.  Mjolnir had broken right through the masthead of the ship causing it to explode all around him.  One of his men fell dead as a large fragment staked his heart.  Ingvar watched in horror as ship after ship was consumed by the fight.  Lightning was striking all over the sea.  Ingvar questioned whether Thor remembered that he and his men were below the fight.  He had to, he reasoned, before they had set sail the God of Thunder had appeared and handed him the scrolls he now clutched.  He had assumed that meant that their quest was ordained by Odin himself.

Ingvar’s skin burned as a beam of pure sunlight pierced through the storm clouds the Thunderer had brought and incinerated the ship next to them.  The boiling ocean caused by Baldr’s sun beams and tossed about by Thor’s storms were proving too much for Ingvar’s command.

The gods got nearer to the men.

“Why do you fight me brother,” asked Thor.

“I have been told of your plans,” said Baldr.  “You know I cannot let them suceed.”

The brothers continue to shout but Ingvar could no longer hear them above the roar of the sea and the sound of thunder.  He knew that whatever was in these scrolls caused the gods to fight though.  Ingvar had little idea what to do now but cower with his men and hope the gods’ fight did not take their lives.

“What do you fear Ingvar,” asked and unfamiliar voice.

Behind Ingvar stood a spectacle he never imagined he’d see.  Dressed in all his pageantry was Loki.

“By Odin,” exclaimed Ingvar.

“I’m afraid Odin has no time for you today.”  Loki snatched the scrolls from Ingvar’s hands. “So this is what Thor gave you.  I hope it is worth all this trouble.”

“You,” exclaimed Ingvar.  “You’re behind this!”

“Of course,” replied Loki.  “Thor was watching his precious Midgard so closely.  I had to distract him so I could get this.  It didn’t take much to manipulate Baldr into thinking these were the plans for Ragnarok.  Odin’s sons are so easily manipulated, if I let you live remind me to tell you my plans with mistletoe!  Now let me see.”

Ingvar watched in horror as Loki opened the scrolls he’d been entrusted with by Thor.

“What on Midgard,” exclaimed Loki.  “Thor has clearly gone mad!”

Ingvar glanced at the scrolls.  They made no sense to him.  Some sort of drawing.

“No matter.  I can still play Thor the fool.  Say farewell Ingvar.”

A jolt of pain unlike anything he’d previously experienced touched every fiber of his being.  Ingvar closed his eyes and faded into Oblivion.

Almhult, Sweden – 1942 A.D.

Ingvar awoke.  His head was pounding.  The boy got out of his bed and looked into the mirror.  Was that a dream?  It seemed so real to him.  He tried to make sense of everything swimming through his head.  He thought back to last week when he and his men had first met Thor. No wait, what?  No. Last week he had been in Stockholm buying matches.  His head was a mess.  The more he tried to think the more he found two sets of memories.  Those of Ingvar Kamprad and those of Ingvar the Far-Traveled.

One Year Later

A year later and Ingvar was much better at understanding the two sets of memories he now possessed.  Which set was the real Ingvar was a question that could not be decided though.  Whatever the trickster Loki had done to Ingvar the Far-Traveled now plagued Ingvar Kampred.

Ingvar looked over at his Uncle Ernst.  They were sitting at the kitchen table.

“Before I forget,” said his Uncle.  “I have something odd for you.  Let me go get them.”

Uncle Ernst walked down the hallway and the curiosity of young Ingvar was piqued.  Ingvar the Far-Traveled was more weary about something odd though.  His Uncle returned and Ingvar was suddenly filled with fear as the scrolls of Thor were placed on the table.

“These came in the mail for you today.  Quid odd.”

“Quite odd indeed,” came a new voice.  It was a familiar voice to Ingvar.  The man chugged his Uncle’s beer and slammed the glass on the table.  “Another,” he shouted.

“Uncle Ernst,” said Ingvar.  “Meet Thor the Thunderer.”

“When they called you Ingvar the Far-Traveled they weren’t joking,” exclaimed Thor.  “Nine-hundred years!  Another hundred and you’d be a gargoyle.”

“What,” asked Ingvar.

“Oh.  Give it another fifty years and you’ll understand the joke.”

Uncle Ernst stared at Ingvar and Thor as the two discussed their shared past and the future plans.  Ingvar may have not understood the scrolls nine hundred years earlier but today he did.

IKEA – Brooklyn, NY – 2002

Jonathan was on his way past the cafe when he heard a man with a booming voice shout, “Another!”

He was in a rush to get home and measure his tiny apartment to see if he could get the collapsible furniture he wanted but the man made him stop.  He was always on the lookout for the strange and bizarre and this man stood out as such.  He sat at the table shooting orders as he ate his meatballs.  Sitting on the table was a giant hammer and the man looked like he hadn’t showered in a year.  Suddenly the man noticed Jonathan watching.

“Come friend, sit,” commanded the man.

Jonathan found himself compelled to obey.

“Greetings friend!  I am the mighty Thor!  And who may you be?”

Suddenly everything made sense.  This poor man was clearly homeless and crazy.  He was probably going to leave here with a box, call it Asgard, and live there.

“I’m Jonathan.  Here, let me buy those meatballs for you.”

“Nonsense,” said Thor.  “Meatballs are free for me and now for you!”  He raised his hammer and shouted, “free meatballs for Jonathan.”

He was amazed as a serving of meatballs were run right over to him.

“They really listen to you,” he said.

“Of course,” said Thor.  “My Norsemen love me.”

Jonathan lost track of time as he listened to the crazy mans stories.  The man told stories about his viking friends Billy, Ingo, and Karl who served under Ingvar the Far-Traveled who was really Ingvar Kamprad.  He explained that of course Thor was involved with furniture as it was a little known fact that he was also the God of Oak.

After Thor was finally done telling his stories and excused himself, Jonathan decided to take a walk around the building.  He watched as college kids and divorced men looked at furniture that could fit in an apartment maybe even smaller than his if such things existed.

Man, he though. I should write a song about this place.  I’m sorry I said Ikea sucks.

The Future

“What in the nine realms could be funny now,” asked Thor.

Ragnarok had befallen the nine realms.  It was the end of everything.

“It’s just,” said Loki.  “When I had Baldr fight you all those years ago over the Black Sea, I told him Ingvar had the plans for Ragnarok.  Ikea used all the trees on Midgard and it destroyed that realm leading to all of this.  Those really were the plans for Ragnarok.”

Midgard was done.  It was really all Thor’s fault.  He had caused Ragnarok.