Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Can we just elect Rambo and be done with it?

A theoretical 3AM exchange between President (shudder) John McCain and Secretery of Defense (double-shudder) Joe Lieberman.

The phone rings at 3:00AM in the White House...

John McCain: Uhh... huh? I didn't order a pizza.

Secretery of Defense Joe Lieberman: No Pizza, sir. It's me, Joe. We have a situation.

JM: Anchovies? I hate goddamn anchovies.

JL: Sir, it's me! We have a situation.

JM: Situation?!? Hot damn! Hold on Joe, let me find my Bombing Cap.

JL: Your what?

JM: Bombing Cap! You know how some people have a thinking cap? Cindy! Where's my bombing cap?

Cindy McCain: On the nightstand, by my Xanax. Same place as always.

JL: Sir, I haven't even told you what this is about yet.

JM: Got my bombing cap on now, Joe. Who we gonna bomb today?

JL: Sir, we don't need to bomb anybody. There's been an uprising in the capital of Myanmar, and...

JM: Myanwhat now?

JL: Myanmar. It used to be Burma.

JM: Like the shaving gel?

JL: No, sir. The Myanmarese are claiming that rebels...

JM: Myanmarese? Sure that's what they're called? Not Myanmartians, or Myanaise?

JL: Sir, can we please stick to the topic? This is an important...

JM: Gooks? Can we call them gooks?

JL: ...situation and we need to have an apropriate response.


JL: Come again, sir?

JM: It's called getting yourself PSYCHED FOR BATTLE, Lieberman! Try it with me! RRRRRRARRRRRRRR...

JL: Um... Rarrrrrrrr...


JL: Arrrrrrrgh.


JM: Sir, could we get back to the Myanmar situation?

JM: Those Myanmartians! I've never forgiven them for the death of my son! RRARRRRRRRRGH! AAAARRRRH!

JL: Sir, I think you're getting them confused with the Klingons in Star Trek III.


JL: The Klingons? Sir we can't bomb...

JM: Joe, I didn't make you my SecDef so you could go around NOT BOMBING PEOPLE.

JL: We can't bomb fictional characters!

JM: Well then can we bomb William Shatner's house?

JL: Certainly sir.

JM: Make it so, number one.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Oh, HELL-nault!

When I was a kid, my parents made several extremely ill-advised decisions which resulted in ownership of Renault "cars." These were cars in the sense that they bore a vague physical resemblance to what you or I might identify as an automobile - They were box-shaped, and they had wheels. At least they did in the showroom. If by some miracle you got the thing home in one piece, it would begin to shed engine components, body panels, and bits of interior trim within days of purchase. My parents owned several of these disasters. First there was the awful Renault Le Car, which was made of paper and cheese. Despite its iron-free construction, it rusted through in three days. (It was also trampled by goats, but that's a story for another day.) Then there was the five-alternators-per-year Renault/AMC Alliance, inherited from my uncle Gary. I learned how to swear at an early age by observing my father attempt to fix even the simplest problem on this bucket of bolts. Nothing worked. The electrical system was inextricably linked to the seat cushions in some bizarre manner, and the clutch caused the turn signals to activate. Now I know uncle Gary was only trying to help, but I've never forgiven him for what I later realized was an extremely clever practical joke. Long after the accursed car had died, whenever my father saw an Alliance on the road he would point and shout, "Look! An Alliance! And it still runs!" And then he would swerve to avoid the rusty bumper that had fallen off the back.

After the financial and psychological disaster of my parents' foray into Renault ownership, things were quiet for well on twenty years. Renault surrendered and withdrew from the United States in shame. Time passed, and the remaining few Alliances exploded, crumbled to dust, or were hacked to pieces by their owners. So now comes this.

Why can't someone name something nice after me? Right now I've got the worst airport in the United States, a dystopian vision of the future, and this monstrosity. How about an elementary school, or maybe an insane assylum?
It is not comforting to know that all over the third world people will cry out, "Damn you, Logan!" or, "My Logan is terrible, and its headlamps have been eaten by alpacas." Or yes, perhaps even, "Look! A Logan! And it still runs!"

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Anarchist Take-away Menu

I was doing a bit of random googling today when I came across a discussion forum for anarchists:


I'm sorry, but the idea of a hierarchically-threaded anarchist forum is really just too much.

Friday, December 15, 2006

This is what happens when Belgians get bored.

Well, I suppose it's better than pillaging the Congo...

There's No Revolution in Belgium, Really.

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Suddenly and shockingly, Belgium came to an end. State television broke into regular programming late Wednesday with an urgent bulletin: The Dutch-speaking half of the country had declared independence and the king and queen had fled. Grainy pictures from the military airport showed dark silhouettes of a royal entourage boarding a plane.
Only after a half hour did the station flash the message: "This is fiction."

It was too late. Many Belgians had already fallen for the hoax.

Frantic viewers flooded the call center of the RTBF broadcaster that aired the stunt. Embassies called Belgian authorities to find out what was going on, while foreign journalists scrambled to get confirmation.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Know What I Want for Christmas!

From the BBC:

Police have fitted a device which emits a high-pitched tone only audible to people under 20 to tackle anti-social behaviour at a health centre.

The "mosquito" unit has been installed at the Selston Health Centre near Kirkby in Ashfield, Notts, to combat vandalism and cases of attempted arson.

The noise the unit produces can only be picked up in the hearing range of young people, typically aged under 20.

Supporters said it should help combat some of the serious criminal offences.


This is the itinerary for my flight from Heathrow back to Pittsburgh.


DEPT TIME : 1640
ARRV TIME : 1818

Hold up a second, Tex. From Heathrow to JFK... then from Newark to Pittsburgh? Who in the name of a crippled, half mad Jesus connects via an entirely different airport? Especially when the first airport is JFK and the other one is Newark. They aren't even in the same state for Christ's sake.

I admit it - I bought the stupid thing without even checking. To be honest, I didn't even think to check whether or not the connection was through an entirely different airport. Because that's stupid. But it did have the benefit of reminding me, for whatever reason, of this passage about ants from Mark Twain's A Tramp Abroad:

Now and then, while we rested, we watched the laborious ant at his work. I found nothing new in him—certainly nothing to change my opinion of him. It seems to me that in the matter of intellect the ant must be a strangely overrated bird. During many summers, now, I have watched him, when I ought to have been in better business, and I have not yet come across a living ant that seemed to have any more sense than a dead one. I refer to the ordinary ant, of course; I have had no experience of those wonderful Swiss and African ones which vote, keep drilled armies, hold slaves, and dispute about religion. Those particular ants may be all that the naturalist paints them, but I am persuaded that the average ant is a sham. I admit his industry, of course; he is the hardest-working creature in the world—when anybody is looking—but his leather-headedness is the point I make against him. He goes out foraging, he makes his capture, as I have said; it is generally something which can be of no sort of use to himself or anybody else; it is usually seven times bigger than it ought to be; he hunts out the awkwardest place to take hold of it; he lifts it bodily up in the air by main force, and starts; not toward home, but in the opposite direction; not calmly and wisely, but with a frantic haste which is wasteful of his strength; he fetches up against a pebble, and instead of going around it, he climbs over it backward dragging his booty after him, tumbles down on the other side, jumps up in a passion, kicks the dust off his clothes, moistens his hands, grabs his property viciously, yanks it this way, then that, shoves it ahead of him a moment, turns tail and lugs it after him another moment, gets madder and madder, then presently hoists it into the air and goes tearing away in an entirely new direction; comes to a weed; it never occurs to him to go around it; no, he must climb it; and he does climb it, dragging his worthless property to the top—which is as bright a thing to do as it would be for me to carry a sack of flour from Heidelberg to Paris by way of Strasburg steeple; when he gets up there he finds that that is not the place; takes a cursory glance at the scenery and either climbs down again or tumbles down, and starts off once more—as usual, in a new direction. At the end of half an hour, he fetches up within six inches of the place he started from and lays his burden down; meantime he has been over all the ground for two yards around, and climbed all the weeds and pebbles he came across. Now he wipes the sweat from his brow, strokes his limbs, and then marches aimlessly off, in as violently a hurry as ever. He does not remember to have ever seen it before; he looks around to see which is not the way home, grabs his bundle and starts; he goes through the same adventures he had before; finally stops to rest, and a friend comes along. Evidently the friend remarks that a last year's grasshopper leg is a very noble acquisition, and inquires where he got it.

Evidently the proprietor does not remember exactly where he did get it, but thinks he got it "around here somewhere." Evidently the friend contracts to help him freight it home. Then, with a judgment peculiarly antic (pun not intended), then take hold of opposite ends of that grasshopper leg and begin to tug with all their might in opposite directions. Presently they take a rest and confer together. They decide that something is wrong, they can't make out what. Then they go at it again, just as before. Same result. Mutual recriminations follow. Evidently each accuses the other of being an obstructionist. They lock themselves together and chew each other's jaws for a while; then they roll and tumble on the ground till one loses a horn or a leg and has to haul off for repairs. They make up and go to work again in the same old insane way, but the crippled ant is at a disadvantage; tug as he may, the other one drags off the booty and him at the end of it. Instead of giving up, he hangs on, and gets his shins bruised against every obstruction that comes in the way. By and by, when that grasshopper leg has been dragged all over the same old ground once more, it is finally dumped at about the spot where it originally lay, the two perspiring ants inspect it thoughtfully and decide that dried grasshopper legs are a poor sort of property after all, and then each starts off in a different direction to see if he can't find an old nail or something else that is heavy enough to afford entertainment and at the same time valueless enough to make an ant want to own it.

There in the Black Forest, on the mountainside, I saw an ant go through with such a performance as this with a dead spider of fully ten times his own weight. The spider was not quite dead, but too far gone to resist. He had a round body the size of a pea. The little ant—observing that I was noticing—turned him on his back, sunk his fangs into his throat, lifted him into the air and started vigorously off with him, stumbling over little pebbles, stepping on the spider's legs and tripping himself up, dragging him backward, shoving him bodily ahead, dragging him up stones six inches high instead of going around them, climbing weeds twenty times his own height and jumping from their summits—and finally leaving him in the middle of the road to be confiscated by any other fool of an ant that wanted him. I measured the ground which this ass traversed, and arrived at the conclusion that what he had accomplished inside of twenty minutes would constitute some such job as this—relatively speaking—for a man; to wit: to strap two eight-hundred-pound horses together, carry them eighteen hundred feet, mainly over (not around) boulders averaging six feet high, and in the course of the journey climb up and jump from the top of one precipice like Niagara, and three steeples, each a hundred and twenty feet high; and then put the horses down, in an exposed place, without anybody to watch them, and go off to indulge in some other idiotic miracle for vanity's sake.

The Name's Litvinenko. Alexander Litvinenko.

I don't know if this story has been getting much attention in the US and A, but it's the weirdest James Bond / Cold War style cloak & dagger story to come along in quite some time. A Russian ex-spy and harsh critic of Putin dies after being poisoned with a radioactive substance, and on his death bead accuses Putin of being the culprit. Traces of the substance are found all over central London in places he'd been visiting, on planes that flew to or from Moscow, and at possible transit points in Germany. Also, strange connections to the murder of a Russian journalist last month, and another man reportedly in critical condition in Russia after being poisoned with the same substance.

This is real Hollywood stuff, if you don't count the fact that it's a real person who was really murdered and is now really dead.


This iPod accessory thing has finally gone too damn far.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Okay, I understand that a lot of American websites, just like a lot of American people, don't realize that there is a world beyond the borders of the USA. It's fine. I can deal with that. But what the hell is this?

All I wanted to do was look at the web page for their new drama about terrorism. The entire sho.com site appears to be off-limits to me, because it sees that my IP address is outside the US. Why? WHY?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Final Anti-Social Behaviour Order

Well isn't this special? Not content with screwing up the occupation of Iraq, the Labour government has decided to set its sights on a new target: Chavs!

"Super-nannies" are to be brought in to try to improve parenting in 77 areas of England with high levels of anti-social behaviour, Tony Blair has said.

The prime minister is to give more details of the £4m scheme later.

In an article in the Sun, Mr Blair said poor parenting was bad for society and did "incalculable" harm to children.

A survey for the Institute for Public Policy Research has previously suggested that the UK's youths are the worst behaved in Europe.

On every indicator of bad behaviour - drugs, drink, violence, promiscuity - the UK was at or near the top of the league, according to the survey earlier this month.

God only knows what makes Tony Blair think he can fix this. If he can't bring an end to the violence in Iraq, there's absolutely no way he can solve the far more entrenched problem of chavism in Britain, especially with such lukewarm measures. Everybody already knows that the only real solution is forced euthanasia of all persons caught wearing a tracksuit while not actually exercising. Few dare to speak this widely held belief, but as an American I am not troubled by the British fear of being labeled a classist. Parents who are chavs have children who are chavs, and no amount of education will solve the problem.