March 2003

03.28.03 Maybe we can take the 2000 Moroccan monkeys and instead of having them blow up mines, wire each of them up with one of the "FREE X10 NINJA ROBOTIC CAMERA MOUNTs" advertised in pop-up ads on every fucking site on the planet, along with an M-16 and some kind of remote-controlled, infrared helmet-mounted smart-gun thingey. Then put them all in little monkey-sized Mark VII Anti-Grizzly Bear Suits. Dude! Baghdad will be ours quicker than you can say Ayna al hammam?

03.27.03 This gets complicated so hang on tight - the Morrocan weekly al-Usbu' al-Siyassi, apparently arabic for "The Weekly World News", has accused the Moroccan government of offering assistance to the Coalition forces. Here's where it gets good. This assistance is to be in the form of 2000 monkeys for detonating Iraqi landmines. Here's where it gets really good because we're not talking about a bunch of your garden variety Joe-monkeys who are handed a banana and pointed in the general direction of a minefield - No sir, these are monkeys specially trained in detonating land mines. Trained mine detonating monkeys? I'm guessing someone had a deadline, picked up on the story of our mine detecting dolphins, loaded up the bong with some fine Moroccan kif, and "monkeys" was the first (or last) thing to pop into his head. After all, who doesn't think of monkeys when they get the munchies? Mmmmonkeys...

03.25.03 I know I complained about this yesterday, but I'm going to bitch about Bush's public speaking skills again today. Did they let him write the address he gave this morning all by himself? Well he must have dragged out the big box of crayons for this one, what with referring to "Iraqi soldiers in civilian uniform", "a regime that will kill to stay in power" - and calling the Pentagon, in relation to the Sept. 11th attacks "this very important building". I had to look away so blood would only be gushing out of my ears instead of my eyes also. Jesus...
Boingboing reported a site claiming to be a temporary english language version of Al Jazeera. Although Al Jazeera has promised an english version of their site sometime this month, I had a hard time believing this was real at first just because of the obvious bias against the Coalition. Admittedly CNN and other western media organizations exhibit some bias in favor of the coalition - but there's "bias" and then there's "BIAS". I went to the arabic version of Al Jazeera to try and confirm in some way that english.aljazeera.net and www.aljazeera.net are by the same people. I was pretty sure of it before, and it was only a reasonable assumption, but the images in their photo gallery convinced me that standards of journalistic good taste and restraint are far different in the Arab world. Given that, I'm perfectly willing to believe that standards of bias are different too, despite the claim of "objective and balanced global news coverage and analysis" at english.aljazeera.net. You might object that we do have FOX News, which does make a mockery of their "we report, you decide" slogan, but at least FOX doesn't stoop to the level of Rotten.com. So for now I'll believe that this is a legitimite Al Jazeera website. Regardless of whether or not this is it, I will be interested in seeing news presented from the viewpoint of Al Jazeera when their english language site is fully online.

03.24.03 Man! Why didn't he just stay at Camp David? I had known about the soldiers taken prisoner by the Iraqis for at least two hours and that dipshit gets off Marine One and doesn't know about. WTF?!! Did they have to replace some communication equipment on the helicopter to make room for his Nintendo? Couldn't the Pentagon have had someone there when he landed to tackle him before he reached the cameras and revealed that he doesn't know what the hell is going on? WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE SHOUTING AND WAVING MY ARMS AROUND LIKE AN IDIOT?!!
Sort of on the same wavelength I have to say how impressed I've been with Aaron Brown on CNN. I like seeing someone who is as careful as he is to be polite to all sides and make sure that no one misunderstands anything that he says. I think in general that journalists should leave the families of POWs the fuck alone, but he absolutely radiated empathy while talking with the mother of the first POW identified, Spc. Joseph Hudson. Paula Zahn on the other hand - talking to the siblings of another POW, Pfc. Patrick Miller - had all the empathy of a baby-eating dingo. Man, I hate her. Anybody I have seen on CNN, down to the weather-forecasters would be more personable on camera than she is. Why the hell did they hire her, much less give her a show?

03.21.03 Instead of busting the nuts of the French today, I'm going to talk about some things I like about France.

The story of Joan of Arc is pretty damn cool. By all rights the French kingdom never should have recovered from the earlier defeats in the 100 Years War. I'm not going to give credit for the whole thing to Joan, but some illiterate - most likely schizophrenic - peasant girl coming out of nowhere and doing what she did is miraculous, whether you believe in God or not. Joan is the first great French military leader who people will point out was not really French. While it's technically true - she was from Lorraine - and makes for good jokes, she was fighting for France. Most Americans wouldn't have a problem with claiming Thomas Paine, even though he was English and died in France. This leads me to the second thing I like about France.

The French Revolution was overall a good thing. You can debate the issue, what with the Reign of Terror and all that, and the Revolution's ultimate failure by falling to the dictatorship of Napoleon - but it was a very "revolutionary" revolution on a level that the American Revolution wasn't. It established a pattern, for both good and bad, for many of the revolutions that followed it. The world would be a vastly different place if not for the French Revolution.

Napoleon Bonaparte, despite being a power-mad dictator was a pretty impressive military leader and thinker. Many English readers would point out that he wasn't quite as impressive as the Duke of Wellington, but Wellington had the benefit of reading Napoleon's book. Napoleon changed the nature of warfare on a level not seen since the days of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden (pdf link). He also was responsible for the establishment of the Code Napoleon, which is the basis for the legal systems of many countries even today. Sure, he was Corsican, but what I said about Joan of Arc holds here too.

Sure I've run up against the stereotypical Frenchman a couple of times, but I've also met some French people who were alright - although I think they were all from the south of France, so maybe it's just the northerners who are assholes. That is a familiar pattern to me. Anyway, even if you want to reduce a people to a crude stereotype I have to say that along with the things I hate about the "French attitude", there is a certain something cool about it. I'm sure the French have a word for it... that's a joke, son. If you don't get it I ain't explaining to you. France also does have the highest percentage of atheists and agnostics in its population of any western country. That's not going to score points with many people, but screw those people - this ain't their stupid Jeebushead webpage.

Oh yeah, there is one last thing I'd like to thank France for. Let's never fight again.

03.19.03 To continue with my recent theme of xenophobia I present to you the results of a survey recently conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which found that numbers of those around the world having a favorable opinion of the US have plummeted since mid-2002. Well that's no big surprise - just turn on the news and you can see that. The interesting thing was the response to the question "If Iraq is disarmed and Saddam Hussein is removed from power by the U.S. and its allies, do you think the people of Iraq will be better off or worse off in the long run than they are now?" Every country except for Russia and Turkey thought Iraq would be better off, AND in response to the next question believe that the Middle East will be more stable in the long run. You realize of course that this means large numbers of people around the world are willing to let the people of Iraq stay under a dictator because they hate George Bush, and/or the US*.
So congratulations world - go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back for being a bunch of selfish, shallow cunts. You may now get back to force-feeding geese and stuffing yourselves with sausages, or whatever other forms of heathen entertainment you foreign devils engage in. I don't care for Monkey Boy myself, but I'm sure as fuck not willing to let another generation of Iraqis suffer because of it.

03.18.03 "The arrow has already been placed on the bow" said China's new Premier, Wen Jiabao in response to the monday night Bush ultimatum. Where the hell did they get this guy - a fortune cookie factory? Were he and new President, Hu Jintao sitting around at lunch and decided it'd be funny to bust out all Confucius-like on our asses? He might as well be referring to Iraqi missles if reports are true that Chinese technicians are in Iraq working to beef up that country's air-defense radar system. All the Pentagon sources saying this are doing so off the record, although official Pentagon spokesmen will neither deny nor confirm the story. Of course this could be interests within the Pentagon blowing smoke to make the Chinese look bad, but the official sources could as well be purposefully not confirming due to China's delicate position as a trading partner. If such allegations were true and became widely known, the public outrage in the US - especially with the inevitability of US casualties within the next week - would force the administration to take some kind of action against China, which they obviously do not want to do. Maybe they're right for not wanting to open up that can of worms - international opinion being that the US is trying to start a pastry war with Iraq - where are we going to find support for some kind of international action against China for breaking UN sanctions? France? Russia? Germany? Not likely.

03.15.03 Sure when the US army wants to kill someone they can just use this, but we shouldn't forget that in some countries they have to resort to shit like AK-47s and machettes to get their killing done. With that in mind I present to you the following quiz - one of the three vehicles pictured below is an actual Third World army armored fighting vehicle, the other two are what are called Armored Paintball Vehicles (APVs). See if you can guess which is the one made for killing people of an ethnic group other than your own, and which were made for splattering geeks with paint.

03.13.03 It takes a really dedicated dad to make his son a 1/5 scale Sherman Tank out of plywood, but this guy did it. The tank is just one of the projects detailed on his website. He also has a link to the official Rube Goldberg site, which has a really nice gallery of Rube Goldberg contraptions. If you don't know who Rube Goldberg is check it out. Speaking of cool gadgets (and projects I'd like to undertake) - the Spudgun Technology Center has some really nice compressed air potato guns you might find interesting.

03.12.03 Perhaps the reason I'm constantly clarifying my support for military action is because shit like this makes anyone who does support military action look like a freaking moron. Freedom Fries... FREEDOM TOAST!!! What grabass-stic district do these guys represent - Dollywood? First of all, French Fries are from fucking Belgium so people in France could give a shit less. Second of all, even if French Fries were French, people in France could give a shit less anyway. I'm all for busting the nuts of the French and vice versa - it is after all a healthy sign of affection between heterosexual male nations - but this kind of lame crap is the equivalent of "big doody head" kindergarden-level name calling. If you're going to level an insult at someone, at least be clever - if you can't be clever, at least be vulgar. If you can't be either - you should probably stay the hell out of Congress and git yer ass back ta lawyerin'.
In unrelated news the Koran is being translated into Irish Gaelic for the benefit of all twelve of that language's speakers. Maybe they should translate it into Bog Irish if they want to serve a wider audience. Kidding aside I was surprised to see that 70,000 people speak Gaelic on a daily basis, although I hope some of those weren't counting saying "Busarus" (the central bus station in Dublin) or "gardai" (police) as speaking Gaelic on a daily basis - everyone does that - and even a stupid light-weight American tourist like myself knows it.
Irish Gaelic is another language like I was talking about yesterday, although as long as there are a few people speaking a particular language as a first language, can it really be a dead language? I propose the following criteria - if there are less people speaking it than speak Klingon, it is officially a dead language. nuqDaq 'oH puchpa''e' !!! I'm talkin' to you, Esperanto!

03.11.03 Growing up in the South I didn't have much first hand exposure to Jews - but what exposure I did have led me to believe that all Jews were of the more familiar Ashkenazic branch whose ancestors lived in communities in Northern and Eastern Europe. The only other thing I knew about Jews was that they were some kick-ass soldiers and fighter pilots (I was a military geek from a pretty young age and at a certain point probably could have told you in detail the events of the Six Day War, and the difference between the French Mirage V fighter jet and the Israeli produced version of it - the Kfir), although that didn't really mesh with images of guys with long beards and ear locks who spoke Yiddish and wore black coats and hats. Not that there weren't Jews in the South - the first Jew in America to hold a cabinet level position was Judah P. Benjamin, who served as Secretary of War and then Secretary of State for the Confederate government during the Civil War. Benjamin was a Sephardic Jew, descended from those who were forced out of Spain by a succession of Most Catholic Majesties, and sought refuge in the lands of the Mediterranean instead of Northern Europe. Most of them settled in lands eventually claimed by the Ottoman Empire, which is why in some lands where Ashkenazi and Sephardim later settled together the former referred to the latter as "Turks", although the Sephardim spoke a dialect of Spanish as opposed to the German-based Yiddish spoken by the Ashkenazi.
This leads me to the subject I've been meaning to get to, and I'm sure you - the reader will forgive me for taking such a fact-filled detour in getting there. The dialect of Spanish spoken by Sephardim is called Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish - and just like Yiddish is derived from 11th century German, Ladino is derived from 15th century Spanish. Of course with the wide area that Ladino speakers were spread over, a good bit of linguistic drift occurred, but the language survived - until now. See, despite the fact that most of the Jews who flooded into Israel when that nation was founded were Sephardic, Ladino has not thrived, having been displaced by Hebrew among Sephardic Israelis and their children. Even though Yiddish is the language of a minority and is itself in danger of becoming extinct it remains relatively strong compared to Ladino, because it is still spoken as a first language by many in the Ultra-Orthodox community, for whom Hebrew is primarily a liturgical language.
Its always a tragic thing when a language dies, but it's doubly tragic when it's a language that survived for so long under circumstances that should have killed it. Its almost the opposite of the Nietzsche quote most popular with survivalists, Conan the Barbarian fans, and other semi-literate testosterone junkies - "That which does not kill me only makes me stronger". In the case of Ladino and other languages dying under similar circumstances maybe it should be "That which should only strengthen me, kills me."

03.10.03 I'm still puzzled as to why Charles Rangel, D - New York is calling for a renewal of the draft. Is it some half-assed way of protesting the war? Other people have thought of that. Regardless of why, it got me thinking - isn't the draft kind of archaic? If you need soldiers can't someone think of a better way to them prepared for war than forcing a bunch of people into the army, training them right quick and sending them out? I know some countries force everyone serve a term in the full-time military, but that still seems kind of heavy-handed. My brother is in the National Guard and they seem to know what they're doing. Why couldn't we just make everyone serve a term in the Guard for four years or so when they graduate from high school? Of course this is all assuming that we really need a shitload of soldiers. That of course depends on what percentage of the Muslim world is buying into this whole "Jews and Crusaders" conspiracy thing.

03.07.03 Just in case my insane war-mongering might be giving the impression that I would trust the Leader of the Free World (LOFW) to bag my groceries, I decided to embark on a little research project. Much to my surprise googling for "chimp+boy" only brought up three hits in the top 20 which referred directly to the afore-mentioned LOFW. The number one hit was the "Hannukkah Chimp - Boy" at the Worldwide Monkey Yahoo shop.
Now who the hell thinks of chimps when they think of Hanukkah - well, besides neo-nazis? To be fair though I do own a really nice Curious George dreidel, but I only use it for New Years drinking games and deciding important questions of foreign policy. But I do digress. What was I saying? Oh yes, monkeys! Worldwide Monkey has monkeys for all occassions. Don't know how to ask that special somene to marry you? Use a monkey. Not ready to commit? There's always the "I'll still respect you in the morning" monkey. Feel like dredging up uncomfortable 19th century stereotypes of the Irish? Go ahead, you need the Leprechaun Monkey. What? No Zulu Monkey? I guess someone didn't want to get his ass boycotted by the NAACP.
Getting back to my original point though, if you look through the entire list you'll find the Dubya Monkey - and guess what? He's out of stock. I'm not sure if the Dubya Monkey is supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing, although I suspect few people wake up in the morning and say to themselves "How can I make a show of respect for the President of my country? I know - I'll buy a stuffed monkey patterned and named after him." Then again I'm incapable of understanding why anyone would get excited about NASCAR racing, so what do my thought processes have to do with the price of weapons-grade uranium in North Korea? Maybe that wasn't the right phrase to use in this situation... or maybe it was.

03.06.03 No matter what stupid pop-culture phenomenon is sweeping America you can always count on someone in Japan to take it and make it even stupider. Ladies and gents I give you - Ganguro Girls.
I hate to point this out, but I think the "Ganguro Girl" closest to the camera in this photo is a Ganguro Guy... **wink**
And for God's sake, whatever you do, DO NOT click on the link to listen to the Ganguro sampler. Only a white-hot ice pick will be able to make your eardrums pure again.

03.05.03 Nun doll of the month - yeah, you read it right. Not only that, but besides the 46 nun dolls they normally produce you can special order a nun doll from any of 411 other communities of nuns. Holy shit - how many different types of nuns are there?

03.04.03 A real life personal conversation, a la Mighty Girl, between me and my much better half -

Me: "Holy shit! SciFi is showing Dagon already. That's one of the movies I rented last weekend."

Wife: "Do you want to watch it? There's nothing else on."

Me: "Nah, I just saw it - and it's probably better with all the cussing and tits."

Wife: "There were a lot of tits in it?"

Me: (long pause) "Uh, no - not that many really."

03.03.03 I'm sure I'm not the first person to think of this - the secret origin of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Reading the story on his capture in my local USA Today-affiliated newspaper, I was surprised to learn that since the beginning of the War on Terror™ we've captured or killed almost half of the people in the top tiers of Al-Qaeda. Responses from the pundits and "terrorism experts" range from "We've knocked Al-Qaeda out!" to "This doesn't mean anything." I'll stick somewhere to the middle ground.

 

*Analyzing the poll data it actually looks like it's due more to hatred of Bush than the US in general. The real surprise here was that twice as many Britons as French attributed America's "negative foreign policy" to "a general problem with America" rather than George Bush. France, I will take back what I said above about you being shallow - you're only a bunch of selfish cunts.


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