Friday, July 12, 2002

Moon Landing Faked!

I'm not normally one for conspiracy theories, but this web site has absolute proof.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Mrs. M. Sese-seko: The Happy Fun Pundit Interview

Mrs. M. Sese-seko, the widow of deposed Zaire strongman Robert Mobutu (later Mobutu Sese-Seko) recently contacted Happy Fun Pundit hoping that we would assist her with investing eighteen million dollars. We were washing our hair that week, but nonetheless, Mrs. M. Sese-seko was kind enough to consent to an interview. We sat down in the HFP studios with a loaf of 2000 year old bread.

HFP: Mrs. M. Sese-seko, welcome to the blog.

SS: Hi, Steve. Thanks for inviting me.

HFP: Mrs. M --- may I call you Mrs. M?

SS: Please.

HFP: Thanks. Mrs. M, you were trying to find a trustworthy soul to help you anonymously invest eighteen million dollars. How'd that situation come about?

SS: Well, Steve, as you know, I was married to Mobutu Sese-seko, who was a big cheese in Zaire from 1960 until 1997.

HFP: When he was deposed.

SS: We prefer to say that he had a career repurposement.

HFP: Of course. So, when that went down, how did people react?

SS: What do you mean?

HFP: Did your friends send you "Sorry to hear you're deposed" cards?

SS: Well, a lot of our Belgian friends wrote to express concern about their investments.

HFP: What's better, Belgian chocolate or German?

SS: Semi-sweet Belgian is as close as we get to heaven on Earth.

HFP: You're a lady of strong opinions, obviously. So you fled Zaire, looting the national treasury as you went?

SS: No, no. The looting was done gradually over a period of years.

HFP: So you had some notion that a career repurposement was in the offing.

SS: It's standard operating procedure for African dictators.

HFP: That's some sound-ass economic policy. Now, you said dictator when describing your late husband. Isn't "strongman" the preferred nomenclature?

SS: That's a very subtle thing, Steve. Let me give you some examples: "Zaire Strongman Sese-seko", "DRC Dictator Mobutu", "Congo's absolute ruler Robert Mobutu".

HFP: Wow. It's very context-dependent.

SS: Very.

HFP: Mrs. M, you wrote some delightful broken English in your spam email. Do you think you could demonstrate that for us?

SS: Oh, no, I couldn't possibly...

HFP: C'mon. Pleeease?

SS: Picturing to be yourself on a boat in river, having in tangerine trees and marmalade sky!

HFP: (laughing uncontrollably)

SS: Kindly furnish the girl with kaleidescope eyes with your fax number!

HFP: (still laughing) Stop stop stop! You're killin' me!

SS: Jar Jar Binks and Yoda got nuthin' on this widow.

HFP: Sheee-ooot, you should get on Def Comedy Jam with that routine.

SS: I am the ****** ****** Mrs. M, beeeeatch!

HFP: Well, somebody's been working on their material! That's some funny stuff.

SS: Thanks. When you're hiding from vengeful former subjects, you end up spending a lot of time entertaining yourself. Imelda Marcos got big into bluegrass guitar, I developed a standup routine.

HFP: Mrs. M, blog interviews seem to veer off into sexual topics without warning, so we're gonna do that right now. Are you sexy?

SS: Funny is sexy.

HFP: Errr, no, that's not going to work. I need some body parts to work with here.

SS: You want me to talk about my boobage?

HFP: It doesn't have to be boobage. As long as it's, y'know, risque.

SS: Got your ris-kay right heah, whitebread!

HFP: (laughing again)

SS: I seen that movie, "Lethal Weapon", and everybody in the audience be getting all "ooooh" when they show Mel Gibson's skinny white ass. Lemme tell you something, children --- he may have some shape there, but when there's eighteen large to be moved, girlfriend, you go for some ca pa sit eeee!

HFP: Mel Gibson's ass wasn't quite what I had in mind, but it'll do.

SS: I could talk about that scene from Space Cowboys...


SS: Heh heh heh.

HFP: So how'd things work out with the eighteen million? Did you find someone to handle the cashola for you?

SS: Yes indeed, a nice man named Mr. Green from Colorado is now our financial adviser.

HFP: Wow... you must feel privileged indeed to have a character from "Reservoir Dogs" handling your money. It also explains why some people seem to have so much time for blogging.

SS: Which is this blogging you are to speak of!

HFP: (laughing) Oh, stop it, you goofball!

SS: Sorry, couldn't resist.

HFP: Seriously, though --- glad to hear everything worked out for you. What do you think you might do once you have some cash freed up?

SS: I'd like a lot of very small video cameras that alternate between views of my house and views of hot sexy chicks.

HFP: Now that's my kind of sexy tangent. Anything else?

SS: I'd like some herbal viagra, one to three extra inches of manhood, and to be debt free. And maybe some hot OTC stocks.

HFP: Wouldn't we all. Mrs. M, your sons' names are Basher and Kennedy. Those are some stupid-ass names, I must say. I mean, c'mon, who names a kid "Basher"? He sounds like a freakin' Flintstones character or a pokemon or something.

SS: What can I say? It seemed like a good idea at the time. I think I was really into Deep Space Nine then... you know, Dr. Basher.

HFP: What-ever. Mrs. M, that's all the time we have for today, but thanks ever so much for joining us, and I'm sure our readers wish you the best of luck.

SS: It was great to be here, Steve, and I'd like to remind all the Happy Fun Pundit Readers that I'll be appearing at the Kinshasa Days Inn through the 31st.

HFP: Mrs. M. Sese-seko, you go, girl.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Now THIS is Homeland Security

Two wire reports caught my eye today, because they symbolize the fundamental change in the population since 9/11 - a change that has gone unacknowledged by Washington, which still treats citizens as fragile, fearful flowers that must not be upset by the truth or by asking them to actually look after themselves.

In the first report,
A panicked passenger tried to get into the cockpit of a South African Airways flight - before he was wrestled to the ground and 'subdued' (i.e. beaten) by other passengers and handcuffed.

In the second, neighbors of a 'crack house' in Victoria, BCdecided to take care of matters themselves after police proved to be non-responsive to an endless serious of complaints. In a scene right out of a Bruce Willis movie, four neighbors kicked in the door of the resident and announced, "Today is your moving day". Then then proceeded to destroy the place and force the tenant out.

Now, I don't condone vigilantism of the second kind, while I heartily support the defensive measures of the passengers on the jet. But both of these stories have something in common - they show a citizenry that is ready to defend itself. The old ethic of looking the other way or waiting for someone else to 'do something' is fading.

Remember the horror stories of people being mugged or raped while bystanders did nothing? Ask yourself it that's the likely outcome of a public mugging today.

Time for Washington to get the message, and stop coddling everyone. We don't need soldiers with unloaded weapons to make us feel all warm and cuddly inside. We don't need feel-good measures like confiscation of nail clippers and penknives. The people are tougher than that. And that doesn't just apply to the United States - both of the stories linked above occurred outside of the U.S.

A 'homeland security' office that doesn't involve the citizenry or factor in the fundamental psychological changes in the populace since 9/11 is going to be ineffective or at best, inefficient.
She's Not Exactly Patton...

But by god, she's patriotic. And man, can she dance. Ladies and Gentlemen, General George S. "Janet" Reno, All-American:

"No one ever won an election by looking stupid. They win elections by making the other poor, dumb bastards look stupid."

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

We Answer Mail We Sent

Okay, about this boy-band thing. They are what I like to think of as a 'target-rich environment'. Like Frank Stallone, Michael Jackson, and William Shatner singing Beatles songs, they are the music industry's gift to the comedic world. I would be a fool to turn away from such a deep glistening pool of pure, concentrated crap. Because basically, I'm lazy.

It has absolutely nothing to do with a twisted fascination for those silky harmonies and taught, firm... NO. I will not go there. Not even for a joke. This keyboard is too expensive for me to vomit on.

I live in a world populated by Boy Bands, Radical Cheerleaders, Workers World Workers Working for the World, and Al Gore, and you expect me to IGNORE it? To just LET THEM BE? You might as well ask Babe Ruth to ignore that sweet fastball coming through the middle of the strike zone. Not that I'm trying to draw a comparison between myself and The Babe: For one thing, I'm still alive.

Oh, hell. Okay, I'll leave 'em alone for a while. But I'm telling you, it might force me to publish more serious stuff. So the next time you're wallowing through the third paragraph of a screed on the nature of transnational floating exchange rates and how they affect the distribution of IMF funds in the third world, remember: This is YOUR FAULT.
We Send Mail

Hey Dan,

How's it going? Sorry for the paucity of posting lately --- I've been travelling again, and the only Internet access I could find in Salmon Arm was agonizingly slow. Anyhow, I'm back in the Land of Bad Driving again, so I'll be back with the program momentarily.

So, uh, yeah.

Oh, uh, there was one other thing... y'know, I wouldn't even mention it, but somebody pointed it out to me, and said how it looked kinda strange, and it's probably just nothing but I thought I'd mention it just in case. Really, it's not a big deal. Anyhow... uh, it's the boy band thing. Don't get me wrong, the "Backstreet Al Gore" thing was priceless, where he says "Girl" all the time --- really funny stuff. It's just that you've sort of developed this pattern of boy band references --- about ten of them in the six months that the blog's been up, but who's counting heh heh --- and not that there's anything wrong with that per se, but we are two guys working on the same blog, and, frankly, people talk. Until we get that FAQ posted, most people won't know that we don't even live in the same country, and that there's nothing weird going on.

Anyhow, sorry for bringing it up, but y'know, just making sure that no unhealthy habits are developing...

-- Steve

PS: The whole business of killing me so you can get Ministry of Canadian Culture funding for the blog? Look, I'll just GIVE you the twenty two bucks if it means that much to you.

Monday, July 08, 2002

Farm Subsidies - Just Say No

In Friday's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof has an excellent piece on the moral failings of farm subsidies. From the article:

Mark Malloch Brown, the head of the United Nations Development Program, estimates that these farm subsidies cost poor countries about $50 billion a year in lost agricultural exports. By coincidence, that's about the same as the total of rich countries' aid to poor countries, so we take back with our left hand every cent we give with our right.

Repeat after me: Farm subsidies are BAD. It's hard to figure out who could possibly be in favor of them (except the people receiving the swag, of course). Free marketers and Libertarians should be opposed to them on general principles. Republicans should be opposed to them because they lead to bigger government and an increase in federal control over farming. Democrats should be opposed to them because they are essentially a form of regressive taxation. Free traders in both parties should be against them because they complicate trade disputes and lead to 'managed' or 'fair' trade which is just another name for protectionism.

As the example in New Zealand showed, Farm subsidies are even bad for farming. Like other market-distorting measures, subsidies lead to inefficiency, gluts, and poor farm management choices. Subsidize feed, and you get fat, low-quality meat. Subsidize fertilizer, and you get water pollution and over-fertilized land. New Zealand's farming industry became more competitive and healthy after the subsidies stopped (out of necessity - New Zealand went broke).

And now Kristof makes a good case for why farm subsidies hurt poor people in other countries.

So if farm subsidies cause so many problems, why are they almost universally endorsed in western nations? Because farmers have clout, and they have money. In the U.S., a small number of farm states are 'swing' states that politicians need to win elections, so they get bought off. Says Kristof:

For example, the U.S. has only 25,000 cotton growers, but they are prosperous (with an average net worth of $800,000) and thus influential. So the U.S. spends $2 billion a year subsidizing them, and American production of cotton has almost doubled over the last 20 years — even though the U.S. is an inefficient, high-cost producer. The result is a glut that costs African countries $250 million each year, according to a World Bank study published in February.

During this time of corporate scrutiny and the almost daily release of news detailing more shenanigans in the private sector, it's important to remember that if you really want to get into the big leagues of corruption and payola, you still need to be a government.