Saturday, January 26, 2002

Walker, Kabul Ranger

More from the Washington Post:
"He often told me that the Taliban's Islam was complete and they don't fear anyone except God," said Mufti Mohammed Iltimas, the headmaster of the Madrassa-e-Arabia, or Arabic School, where Lindh studied until May 15.

1) I believe the Taliban have now added a few fears to their list.

2) So the twenty year old kid, who has been studying the faith for three or four years at the most, and who's relatively new to the language, walks up to his thirty-two year old headmaster and tells him what's what with Islam.

The arrogance of this kid is staggering. What a shame that he didn't take up karate, where his lack of humility would likely receive immediate and memorable feedback.

Satan Watch Update!

From a Washington Post story about John Walker Lindh:

Pharmacist Kareem Khan used to provide [American Talib] Lindh with medicine for stomach aches and allergies. "I pointed to a cinema and told Sulayman 'look, it's a movie house,'" Khan said. "His reply was: 'No, this is a house of Satan."

There's something mildly unlikely about this conversation... could it be that the Islamic homeys were having some fun messing with the self-serious white kid from out of town?

ISLAMIC GUY #1: Say, isn't that a music store?
LINDH: No, that's a playground of Satan.

ISLAMIC GUYS stifle laughter and pretend to nod thoughtfully.

ISLAMIC GUY #2: Look over there! It's the ice cream truck!
LINDH: No, that's Satan's delivery wagon.

ISLAMIC GUYS barely suppress giggles. One clutches his stomach as his friends elbow him.

ISLAMIC GUY #1: (trying to look stern) Oh, yeah, it's the tasty frozen confection of Satan, no doubt.

At this, ISLAMIC GUY #2 loses it and falls over laughing.

ISLAMIC GUY #1: (barely suppressing his laughter) Oh wow, Allah must be punishing Achmed!
LINDH: Oh, yeah, totally.

Another ISLAMIC GUY, seeing that #1 is about crack up, attempts to run interference.

ISLAMIC GUY #3: Hey, let's go get a cup of coffee!
LINDH: Coffee is the milk that flows from teat of Satan!
ISLAMIC GUY #3: (pretending to be shocked) The foreign devil says forbidden words!

All the ISLAMIC GUYS collapse laughing, leaving only LINDH standing, looking worried and confused.

LINDH: Dudes, I'm sorry! I didn't know!

More on the little ass later.

Friday, January 25, 2002

An Exclusive Happy Fun Analysis

From Yahoo News:
Enron's Lay cancels meeting with Jesse Jackson

HOUSTON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Former Enron Corp. chief executive Ken Lay on Thursday canceled a meeting with civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, who went to the company's headquarters anyway and called for laid off Enron workers to be reimbursed from money pocketed by company executives.
JACKSON: Hello gentlemen! All your profit are belong to us!
JACKSON: For great justice!

The two men were supposed to meet in a session that was expected to include prayer, but Lay begged off, citing a family emergency, Jackson told reporters.

SECRETARY: Mr. Lay, Jesse Jackson is on the front steps yelling at people.
LAY: Dear God. If it be thy will, let this Jackson pass me by.

``It's not personal. To be sure, right now he's in great pain, great agony,'' he said of Lay, who a day earlier resigned in disgrace from the company he built, then led into bankruptcy. He remains on the board of directors.

I know that it times of great personal crisis, I go to my pastoral media whore for solace and advice.

Jackson was asked if he had come to minister to Lay, the son of a Baptist preacher.

``The last time we met we did have prayer together. There is this case of Job in the Bible. He had a great fall,'' Jackson replied.

Jackson later added, "All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Job together again!"

I imagine the prayer went something like this:

LAY: Dear Heavenly Father. Please get this idiot out of my office. Amen.

It was possible they would meet on Friday, he added.

If someone manages to get leg irons on Lay, it's almost a sure thing, unless Sharpton eats him first.

A Jackson spokesman said Jackson had wanted to assure Lay that he came to Houston not to attack him, but to drum up support for thousands of Enron workers who lost their savings in Enron's financial collapse.

JACKSON: I came to bury Enron, not to praise it. Er, fellas? Camera guys? Over here!

Also, who is he drumming up support FROM? Presumably the laid-off Enron workers aren't at Enron because, well, they've been laid off. If it's government support Jesse's after,wouldn't it make more sense to drum up support in, oh, WASHINGTON? Of course, there's a lot more competition for on-camera time there...

Enron was the nation's top energy trading company until Dec. 2 when a ruinous financial scandal forced it into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Many Enron employees had their money invested in Enron stock, which is now almost worthless.

``They trusted a corporation and they were betrayed,'' Jackson said. ``They were not protected by their government because of the unholy alliance between the government and the corporation.''

But he's not attacking... he said so two paragraphs ago.

Uhm. Uh, yeah. The unholy alliance. Lord Sidious and Darth Maul, practically. The kind of unholy alliance where the one ally gives a lot of money to the other ally, who then proceeds to do everything in its power to nurture and protect the company, thereby not killing the goose that laid the golden campaign eggs, and ... wait, wait, it's a different kind of unholy alliance. One of the tricky kind, where... well, it's very subtle. You wouldn't understand. But the little guy gets shafted.

``We know who got the money. (Helping the workers) means freezing assets, it means government subsidy,'' he said. ``We should get the money from where the money went.''

JACKSON: But I'm not attacking anyone.

Jackson's visit comes a day after fellow activist Al Sharpton appeared on the steps of Enron headquarters to urge federal help for Enron employees and investors.

24 hours earlier:
SECRETARY: Mr. Lay, Al Sharpton is on the front steps yelling at people.
LAY: Oh gawd. How could this week get any worse?

Thursday, January 24, 2002

A Tale of Horror

Let me tell you what I have been through. It's hard to read, but someone needs to know the conditions I have been forced to endure.

First, they forced me to remove my shoes. Then I was blindfolded. They jostled me around to disorient me so I wouldn't know where I was. I believe I was even turned completely around. Then the chilling command came: "Walk."

I began lurching forward, not knowing what I might run into or where I was going. I stretched my arms out in front of me, and stumbled forward into the unknown. Where was I? How far did I need to go? It was impossible to say.

I kept walking slowly, until suddenly my hand touched a flat surface. I thrust my arm out, not knowing what it was that I had hit. In desperation, I tore the blindfold off my face so that I could see what was happening.

Damn. I pinned the tail to the donkey's head.

And you thought the Red Cross was over-exaggerating the Guantanamo situation. Sure, the detainees may not have it as bad as children's party guests, but still, THE HORROR.

A Military Fashion Faux Pas

Canada's Armed Forces have finally shown up in Afghanistan. Oh, you'll know them when you see them - our soldiers are dressed in spiffy JUNGLE camouflage. Said one member of the forces: "We are totally prepared in case a jungle should spring up near Kandahar."

The military's fashion choices are dictated by the phenomenal commitment displayed by Jean Chretien's government, which responded to a plea for better equipment by generously giving the forces a box of Swiss Army knives and an old squirrel gun Chretien had in his basement.

In a related story, our soldiers are now waiting for deployment, because the Americans say they don't have room to let our guys hitch a ride with them.

That, of course, is the same story we used to give to the nerds on the bus when they showed up in short pants and blazers.

And in a frightening new development, the procurement officer for the Canadian Armed Forces was spotted bidding on a collection of used costumes from a Rocky Horror Picture Show revival. Apparently, the outfits will make our men impossible to spot should they be forced to fight at a Madonna concert. And hey, they were cheap. That's what really counts, right?

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Mastermind of His Domain

An AP story on Yahoo includes the following troubling sentence:

Four Hamas activists were killed, including West Bank militant leader Yousef Soragji, 42, mastermind of several suicide bombings.

Call me narrow minded, but conventionally speaking, one is only able to mastermind ONE suicide bombing, which, if successful, seriously limits if not eliminates future masterminding activities. I would argue that it's just not proper to speak of an unsuccessful suicide bombing has having been masterminded. Bungled, yes..."Yousef Soragji, bungler of several suicide bombings", that I could work with.

I suppose the writer meant to imply that Yousef masterminded the suicide bombings of OTHERS, but still, that's hardly masterminding:

"Right then. Go to the bus stop, and pull the ring under your armpit."

"Burst into the bat mitzvah, shoot people, then die."

Me, I masterminded driving home last night, where I masterminded reheating the pot roast, and finally masterminded going to bed after a couple of hours of masterminding a DVD and masterminding setting the alarm clock.
Definition of a Misquote

In David McCullough's book "John Adams", he quotes Thomas Jefferson as having said that Adams was "a colossus of independence." McCullough now admits that he 'misquoted' Jefferson. A more accurate translation of what Jefferson said would be, "What's for dinner?".

In his defense, McCullough told the Associated Press this week that, "It's hard work; you're trying to get the truth about distant times." Trying and failing, apparently. But come on, it's not like he's an historia----oh, never mind.

In a related story, an Enron official has excused his company's misdeeds by saying, "It's hard work, keeping track of all that money and stuff."
History: Who Needs It?

CNN today has an article on the recent rash of scandals* involving major historical writers.

Notably absent from the article is any mention of Michael Bellesiles, whose trangressions are far more serious than plagiarism. For those of you who have been living in a cave for the last few months, Bellesiles wrote a screed called "Arming America", in which he claimed that gun ownership in early America was rare, and therefore the framers of the Constitution couldn't actually have been talking about 'the people' when they relegated the right to bear arms to 'the people'.

To support this novel conclusion, he had to do a bit of creative re-interpreting of the historical record. For example, after considering the context of the times, he determined that an inventory that listed something called a 'gun' was actually listing a 'rhododendron'. And in another act of creative interpretation, he determined that the San Francisco "fire" never actually "happened", because many of the documents he claimed to have studied were "burned" in 1906.

Now, the McCulloughs and Goodwins of the academic world may lift little passages from others here and there, or the Joseph Ellises may occasionally lie to the students about their military service, but no one is claiming that the fundamental accuracy of their work is in question.

Bellesiles, on the other hand, appears to have committed academic fraud on a grand scale in an attempt actually re-write history to match his own political bias.

I'm no expert, but to my way of thinking the quality you want most from your historians is that they write about history. And by 'history' I mean 'things that really happened in the past'. I know that's a radical concept, but there you have it. If I want someone to lie to me and make up stories about the past in order to promote a political viewpoint, I'll tune into C-SPAN.

*not to be confused with the recent scandal of rashes. That was the other administration.
Police Investigate Theft From Bathroom

"Where could it be?" asks victim.
Arafat Comments On American Taliban

"That kid totally stole my look!", says Palestinian leader.
Justice for the American Taliban?

Two words: Running Man

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

He Ain't Heavy... He's a VICTIM!

In an eerie echo of this Sunday's episode of "The Simpsons", ABC news speculates about suing food producers for "social costs" related to obesity. Like smokers, the overweight can now claim that they are not responsible for what they put in their mouths. Monica Lewinsky, take note.

I can hardly wait for the food version of "The Insider". I see Domino's Pizza "Noid" character as the whistle-blower:

LAWYER: Isn't it true, Mr. Noid, that your employment was terminated after a violent outburst in which you ruined, let me see, three hundred and five pizzas?
NOID: That was the cover story. What happened was that the big cheese came to my office, and told me that I could play ball, or Andy would play ball.

The soundbite:

RONALD MCDONALD: Gentlemen, we are in the fat delivery business.

And the money shot:

RONALD, DAVE THOMAS, COLONEL SANDERS, ANDY, TACO BELL DOG: I do hereby swear that I do not believe that fat causes fat.

Having dispensed with the weightier issues, Happy Fun Pundit would also like to nominate the paragraph header "The Case For Fat Suits" from the same article as our "Ill-Chosen Words of the Week". I got yer case for fat suits right here.
Tattoo You

Lois Caps, a Democratic congresswoman from California, has successfully lobbied the Justice Department for $50,000 for a new program that provides government money for laser surgery to remove tattoos. According to congresswoman Caps, the social stigma of tattoos is really what prevents troubled kids from getting ahead in the world.

It apparently hasn't occured to the congresswoman that subsidizing tattoo removal might just cause more people to get them in the first place. Also, being from California she is also clearly pandering to the powerful Tom Arnold/Roseanne Barr lobby.

Anyway, this just proves the old saying: A fool and his money are soon parted, but a fool and your money is probably running for re-election.
Another Plagiarism Alert

Until now, I didn't care much about all these latest academic misadventures. Oh sure, Stephen Ambrose might lift a passage here and there. And Doris Kearns Goodwin? Okay, she's copped a paragraph or two. Meanwhile, Michael Bellesiles claims to have studied firearms ownership of the Flame Rats of Rigel VII, only he can't prove it because the dog ate his homework. Ho hum.

But now there is a REAL scandal. One that will make your hair stand on end. One that will make you forever question all that is good and decent in the world.

I'm talking, of course, about Mayor McCheese. Turns out, he's not a real mayor. He's not even a tasty hamburger. In fact, he's really H.R. Pufnstuff, that wacky dragon from Sid and Marty Krofft.

Alert readers are undoubtedly thinking, "How do you claim that a talking hamburger with legs is a ripoff of a cartoon dragon?" Allow me to quote from the jury, as they brought in the verdict against McDonalds: "We do not believe that the ordinary reasonable person, let alone a child, viewing these works will even notice that Pufnstuf is wearing a cummerbund while Mayor McCheese is wearing a diplomat's sash."

No, but you'd think they might notice that one of them is a HAMBURGER while the other is a DRAGON. The sash don't enter into it, mate. But that's the kind of twisted thinking that keeps me off of juries. Well, that and my extensive felony record.

Anyway, a whole bunch of McDonaldland characters turn out to be ripoffs of Sid and Marty Krofft characters. Mayor McCheese? A fraud. The Hamburgler? Fraud. Those walking french fries? Okay, those are original. But who cares? They suck.

And what is it with those characters, anyway? What's the ad concept here? To make kids think their food is a bunch of lovable wacky characters, thereby making them more likely to tear them apart and ingest them? "Look, mommy! I just ate Mayor McCheese's small intestine! Let's see him digest his food now! I'm going to eat Hamburgler's face next!".

This is the kind of marketing wizardry that leads to Flintstone's suppositories or the Mickey Rourke toothbrush.

Anyway, you can read all the sordid details from one of my favorite columnists, the brilliant, all-knowing Cecil Adams.

Monday, January 21, 2002

The Press - A Bunch of Screamers

This is how Ari Fleischer ended his press briefing on Friday:
FLEISCHER: Thank you very much, all you screamers. Have a good weekend.

LESTER KINSOLVING: What about Senator Schumer's contribution?

MR. FLEISCHER: Les, you're the lead screamer.

Way to go, Ari.

Happy Fun Pundit Interactive!

According to the Washington Post , Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is talkin' the martyr talk. "Please God, give me the honor of becoming a martyr in the fight for Jerusalem," Arafat told a group of visiting Palestinians at his government compound in Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem.

Now you choose the ending to the posting!

a) Ariel Sharon, after ordering Israeli forces to obliterate Arafat and his headquarters, quipped, "Hey man... it was God's will."

b) At a press conference later that same day, God indicated that he didn't see a problem with Arafat's request. "That's a big can-do," said the diety, who has yet to be implicated in the Enron scandal.

c) In response to Arafat's remarks, peace advocates worldwide condemned Israel, because that's what they always do.

d) Sources close to the Palestinian leader claim that Arafat has had his fingers surgically crossed, and therefore the plea for martyrdom "didn't count".

e) American president George W. Bush responded to Arafat's rhetoric by FedExing him a bag of pretzels.

f) Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien responded to Arafat's rhetoric by playing golf and dispensing federal money to his cronies.

g) The British press responded to Arafat's rhetoric by criticizing American treatment of Al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners.

h) Naked newscaster Devon Calwell responded to Arafat's rhetoric by taking off her blouse.

i) In a related story, historian Stephen Ambrose posted a sample chapter of his new work, a biography of Colonel Sanders. In one controversial section, the beloved founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain says, "Please God, give me the honor of becoming a martyr in the fight for plumper, juicier chicken."

Sunday, January 20, 2002

The Logic of the Press
From this week's Reliable Sources, discussing Ari Fleischer's gang-beating of a press conference:
HOWARD KURTZ: Karen Tumulty, there was one briefing where Fleischer was asked 58 questions about Enron. And I wonder -- I mean is the press asking him and those in the administration to prove a negative? To say that no one at Enron called anyone, anywhere, at any time on any subject?

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Yes and I think they are asking him to do that, and I think it's a totally fair question.

Stay tuned for next week's episode, when Helen Thomas of UPI demands that Ari Fleischer defend the Bush administration by solving Fermat's Last Theorem.

Heavy Man On Minibike Annoys Neighbourhood

Not to use this forum to heap scorn and abuse on those who do things that bother me, but --- wait a tick, that's what this forum is for, isn't it?

So today this idjit spent the whole freakin' afternoon driving up and down my street on this minibike, which was in serious danger of vanishing into his butt crack. He would do a circuit up and down the street, stop in his driveway for a few minutes, then drive up and down again. I can only imagine what happened during those driveway stays:

MINIBIKE MAN: I dunno, Marge... sure seems like it was a lot faster a few years ago. Maybe if I tweak the carb float a bit...
MARGE: Yes, my minibike riding husband, the problem is definitely in the minibike. There is no other factor that may be inhibiting its performance.
MINIBIKE MAN: Uh huh. Pass me some of the fried chicken, doll.
MARGE: Why, I'm sure that if Elvis Presley had ridden that minibike in 1956, then again in 1976, it would travel at exactly the same velocity on both occasions.
MINIBIKE MAN: I'm probably the sort of awful person of who misquotes Elvis Presley lyrics.
MARGE: Or likewise, if "The Wild One" era Marlon Brando and "The Score" era Marlon Brando rode that minibike, the two Brandos wouldn't notice any different in how the minibike performed.
MINIBIKE MAN: You've never caught a rabbit and you aren't a friend of mine.
MARGE: By the way, baby, did you notice the guy down the street with his digital camera?
MINIBIKE MAN: Yes, but I'm sure he had no nefarious purpose in snapping my picture as I rode my minibike up and down the street.
MARGE:Yes, he doesn't seem like the sort who would hold you up to public ridicule.

On the other hand, at least it wasn't one of those motorized scooters with the two-stroke engines that sound like a bunch of insects that make a really annoying noise.

Happy Fun Pundit: Standing athwart history, yelling "You darned kids stop making all that racket!"
Celebrity Hypocrisy Alert

Once in a while, I like to expose a little bit of hypocrisy from celebrities and other public figures who see fit to lecture us on the way we live our lives.

Today's topic: First class flying. The next time you hear a celebrity complain about SUV's, keep in mind this little tidbit of information: Flying across the country first class uses about about 66 extra gallons of jet fuel, as compared to flying economy. It would take you about 6000 miles of driving in your SUV to waste as much gasoline.

For those who want the pointy-headed analysis, here's how I calculated this:

An average first-class airline seat takes up the space of roughly 3 economy seats, when aisle room and support for first class is factored in (this number was calculated by comparing the floorplan of a 767 configured with nothing but economy seating, and one which has a first-class area in the front third of the plane, and counting how many seats were lost to the first-class section).

Now, a 767 normally gets about 60 miles per gallon per economy passenger seat, according to Boeing. It therefore only gets about 20 miles per gallon per first-class seat. So if a person in first class flies 2000 miles, he'll be responsible for consuming 66 more gallons of gas as compared to someone flying economy.

Based on the difference between CAFE standards of cars and light trucks (21 mpg vs 27), you would have to drive about 6000 miles before the difference in gas consumption would equal the added fuel costs that say, 'environmentalist' Bill Maher incurs by flying first class on his way to the Playboy Mansion. And we haven't even talked about the energy required to keep the bunnies warm.

I'm firmly in favor of both flying first class and driving an SUV, if that's what you want to do. Hell, if you could fit an SUV into first class I'd be in favor of that too. I even like the bunnies. The point isn't that these things are bad, but that you shouldn't criticise someone for driving an SUV while you jet around the country in first class doing your celebrity thing.