Friday, August 16, 2002

U.S. forces may find Al Qaida welcoming committee in Iraq, courtesy of Iran

(today's headline on Geostrategy-Direct)

Oh no! Boy, we better reconsider this whole Iraq thing if Al Qaida's involved! What if they bring their brutal Afghan winter with them, the one that practically paralyzed operations in Afghanistan? Good golly, they could turn the whole affair into a Vietnam-style quagmire! Certainly memories of their astonishingly effective performance against US forces in Afghanistan should give the Bush administration pause; their remarkable defensive action at Tora Bora casts a long shadow indeed. Who could forget those images of allied troops struggling with the treacherous footing in the caves, trying not to slip on the greasy remains of cunning Al Qaida fighters?

Imagine a US airborne group landing at night in the Iraqi desert, only to be surprised by a large force of fierce Al Qaida warriors. Well, not exactly surprised, unless the Al Qaida guys have learned how to eliminate their infrared signatures; certainly, the Tora Bora defenders learned how to dampen their IR signatures, mostly by being cold and dead. But let's say they're in a cave or something. Their best tactic is to force the lightly-armed airborne troops to use up their valuable ammunition; past encounters with Al Qaida has shown that if there's one thing they're good at, it's being shot.

Or what if they have armoured vehicles? Saddam's certainly not going to worry about a bunch of fanatically religious foreigners running around in his country with tanks and such. Even a distinctly secular guy like Saddam would welcome help from any source; he's already got lot of troops with experience at being thrashed by US forces, so the Al Qaida guys would be a good "fit".

And let's not forget the environmental impact of a large concentration of Al Qaida troops. First, they shoot their guns into the air a lot, so lots of bullets will fall on the ground, and then if US guys drank water that had touched the ground, or if they used the sand to make coffee or something, they could get lead poisoning! Then, after the US drops a daisycutter or two on such troop concentrations, the Al Qaida puree that's left would present a significant health hazard, and would probably be really damn stinky besides. And none of this considers what will happen if the Al Qaida guys shave all their body hair off before an attack, as the 9/11 hijackers did. Even if you're wearing army boots, isn't the thought of walking through a bunch of shaved-off hair just plain gross? And imagine the "killing field" of Bic "Good News" disposable razors... what if you walked into their Al Qaida camp in bare feet?

Yeah, now that Al Qaida (shudder!) might be in the picture, let's go back and reconsider all the diplomatic options we've got...

Thursday, August 15, 2002

James Traficant Night At the Ball Game

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a minor league baseball team, hosted a James Traficant Night on Wednesday. Fans were encouraged to wear bad toupees in honor of the occasion, which we here at Happy Fun Pundit think should be remembered with other great moments in sports, such as the time that skiier racked himself as immortalized in the opening to "ABC's Wide World of Sports".

The teams got into the spirit of things on James Traficant night, shouting "Beam Me Up!" from third base and screaming that there was a vast conspiracy to prevent them from stealing home.

Controversy erupted when one of the umpires tried to shake down a player for fifty bucks in exchange for a 'safe' call. The umpire, who was wearing a frighteningly realistic replica of James Traficant's hairpiece (or perhaps a dead cat), defending himself in the ensuing investigation by rambling incoherently and alluding to a vague plot by the waterboy to have him framed.

We'll miss James Traficant. He was pure comedy gold. But as long as their are baseball fans with a penchant for wearing bad hairpieces, his memory will live on.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Music Slump 'Not Caused By Piracy' - BBC

According to this article in today's BBC online, music sharing has not been responsible for the downturn in music sales. This won't come as a surprise to readers of Happy Fun Pundit, because we've been saying this for months.

From the article:

Forrester Research, which surveyed 1,000 American online consumers, said it saw no evidence of decreased CD buying among frequent consumers of digital music.

The company's principal analyst, Josh Bernoff, said: "There is no denying that times are tough for the music business, but not because of downloading."

So why is the music business slowing down? Well, Forrester says that it's due to competition from other media and the general downturn in the economy. There's definitely truth in that - DVD sales have been growing at an insane rate, eating into the limited entertainment budgets of the young people who make up the largest CD-purchasing demographic. Digital television and radio offer commercial-free music, and the squealing brakes in my car sound better than Celine Dion. So there is definitely competition.

Which brings us to that all-important suckage factor. Let's face it - most of the music coming out of the record industry today is lifeless, overproduced dreck. The recording industry is starting to realize this, after the Mariah Carey meltdown and the continued fading of Britney Spears' popularity. They recognize the need for more edgy, authentic music.

So of course, they'll try to manufacture it. God forbid they should actually take a chance on someone who IS edgy and authentic. Better to find some 14-year old girl from the suburbs, change her Britney hairstyle to an Alannis grease-bob, and have the professional songwriters on staff whip out some gen-u-ine teen angst lyrics for her to shriek about.

Oh, and best of all, they can sign her to a nice long-term contract and maintain control of their 'asset' until she's a burned out, haggard old lady of say, 19. Then she'll wig out because her hotel room wasn't stocked with red Angolan turtle caviar, and the record company can drop her contract and concentrate on the next robo-talent. In between, they'll continue lobbying Congress for remedies, like making it illegal to walk past a music store without purchasing a CD.

Of course, real talent is still out there, and still selling as well as it ever did. So here's my prescription for the music industry blues: Get yourself a copy of Springsteen's new album "The Rising", put it in your CD player, and turn the volume up to '11'.

You'll be glad you did.