Stuff and Nonsense

30 12 2006

Ok, ok. Saddam has gone to the Big Rape-Room In The Sky.

Color me unenthused.

Don’t get me wrong, One less dictator in the world is a good thing. Some people really deserve death, and Saddam was one of them. But there are a lot of people around the globe who deserve death just as much as Saddam. Are we (the USA) going to be forever responsible for running around the planet and deposing dictators? Or is it just the ones whose countries have natural resources we want that get this treatment?

Color me unconvinced. Either way.
I have never been convinced of the need to invade Iraq. It’s a done deal now, and cannot be undone, so we (as a nation) need to buckle down and finish the job. The problem is, no one has ever explained exactly what the job is. So the nation is divided against itself.

But it is not too late to change that. Halfway through the Civil War in the United States, Lincoln changed the focus of the war from “preserving the Union” to “ending slavery”. The current President needs to do the same thing with Iraq. We- as a nation- are willing to spend the lives of our young men and women and mortgage our childrens’ futures for a just cause. But it must be a just cause, and the objectives of the just cause must be clearly defined. Americans are beginning to ask, “when can we stick a fork in it and say that it’s done?”

So, this is an open plea for the Government to clearly and openly define America’s objectives in this war. Openly publish a list of American objectives. Tell the whole world what those objectives are. Hand the list to the Generals and diplomats and tell them, “Make this happen.” Keep the American people and the world informed about the objectives and the status of the war.

Then we- the American people- will buckle down and win the bloody thing.

Americans do not want an empire. The average American weighs too much and doesn’t exercise enough and thinks far too little and generally likes keeping his or her head firmly between the butt-cheeks most of the time. Building and maintaining an empire interests them not at all. But Americans are quick to react when someone pokes them out of their colon-peering ignorance by violating their sense of safety, security, and fair play. Our enemies have done all of these things.

There are people all over the world who want to kill Americans just because they are Americans. These people hate America and everything America stands for. They hate America for the very things which have made America great- individual liberty, tolerance, and equality. They are willing to die if they can kill a few Americans while they do so. The only way to defeat this way of thinking is to make the price too high for the enemy. Americans will not tolerate what must be done to make that price too high if there is no clear objective to reach.

So please give us one.

Current status: Locked, loaded, and liquored up

Current music: Fanfare for the Common Man, by Copeland

Lost Among the Jethros

18 12 2006


I often get the feeling that my IQ drops by a significant fraction whenever I have to deal with the people here. It’s as though their collective unintelligence creates an intellect-draining mist which fills the air, taints the water, and poisons the earth. With a few exceptions- all of them transplants from other, more intelligent climes- everyone here is a Jethro.

For those of you too young to remember the Beverly Hillbillies, Jethro was the name of one of the characters in that show. He was dim as five feet up a pig’s ass. If you get cable, you can probably still find the show on one of the specialty channels.

Jethro can be male or female, black or white or whathaveyou, and is not necessarily located in the South. The defining characteristics of a Jethro are:

1) A willingness to commit any crime- up to and including genocide- to defend the honor of the Jethro’s favorite sports team/NASCAR driver/”Professional” wrestler/hometown against anyone who might look as though they disagree with the Jethro on the superiority of same.

2) An unshakable belief- against mountains of indisputable evidence- that “things was better afore all them furriners came here.”

3) A profound conviction that anyone not born and raised in the Jethro’s hometown- including grandparents and great-grandparents unto the tenth generation, amen- is a “furriner”.


4) A deep and abiding indifference to the rules of language, hygiene, or logic.

When I lived in Texas (pronounced Takes-Ass), I would encounter the occasional Jethro. This sort of encounter was rare and could usually be avoided by the application of wit and a talent for creative rudeness.Now that I live in the Shallow South (pronounced Vah-Jin-Yah) , however, I find these odious creatures everywhere. It is as though I have stumbled into the secret breeding ground of the Jethros. It is literally impossible to avoid these wandering menaces to rational thought and polite discourse. Out of sheer desperation, I am forced to seek out other transplants to Darwin’s Waiting Room and band together with them for survival.

Incidentally, the mind-destroying miasma emanating from these uncouth creatures is probably the reason why the denizens of the Capitol are so FUBAR. The sheer gravitational force of such a huge concentration of Jethros in close proximity to Washington (pronounced Worsh-Ink-Tun) inevitably drains the intellects out of Senators, Representatives, Presidents, and other vermin of the genus Politicus Ass-hattus. No matter how bright and honest your elected politico may seem, exposure to Jethro-vapors for a few weeks will reduce him or her to a corrupt, imbecilic hack with no thought save to do whatever it takes to continue enriching themselves from the Public coffers.

Having ranted at the expense of my neighbors, Jethros do seem to have one or two redeeming features. Jethros are almost always helpful to people in need. Getting “helped” by a Jethro is not necessarily a good thing, but Jethros do seem to genuinely want to help- they’re just really bad at it (Jethros are second only to the Irish in being the worst at giving useful directions- “The Hospital? Sure, young feller. Just run down this road a piece. Turn right where the Old Mill used to be, bear left by the Widow Carver’s farm ...”). Jethros are also (mostly) law abiding- often to a fault. This sometimes translates into groups of outraged Jethros descending upon anyone who violates their unwritten rules of conduct with pitchforks and torches, but their typical adherence to the law is generally a good thing. These are not nearly enough to offset their manifold faults, of course.

But I’m stuck here for a few years. I’ll probably be one of them by the time I can leave.


Current status: Concerned

Current Music: Dante’s Prayer, by Loreena McKennitt


6 12 2006

I have a problem. To resolve this problem, I will pretend that there are more than four or five people reading this post and ask for help.

My office is participating in a gift exchange. We all drew names from a hat (literally). I drew a tough one.

The person whose name I drew is someone I refuse to speak to unless absolutely necessary. She is one of the most ignorant, bigoted, and annoying people I have ever met. Worse, she is a religious zealot who has very little knowledge (of any sort) regarding her religion beyond parroting whatever talking points she picked up at her last prayer meeting.

I have to find a gift under $20 for this extremely disagreeable person.

I toyed briefly with the idea of getting her a copy of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. This won’t work, because she isn’t smart enough to understand the story and she has absolutely no sense of humor regarding her religion. So, that’s out. I’ll get a copy for myself instead.

I’m not a member of her religion, so getting something religious would probably just offend her. Since she isn’t rational when she discusses her faith, I can’t even ask her for suggestions. Among other things, she believes that any crime should be forgiven if the criminal is a member of her faith, and that pursuing criminal charges against her supposed co-religionists is merely persecution. She also believes that anyone who doesn’t believe as she does is evil and therefore untrustworthy. A member of her faith could state that water is not in fact wet, and she would assume that any non-believer was lying when they tried to provide factual evidence to the contrary.

I’ve been putting off going into one of those religious bookstores or gift shops, mostly because I can’t stand the people and atmosphere in such places, but also out of complete ignorance over what might offend religious whackjobs. My giftee handles procuring all of our office supplies, so offending her is contraindicated.

So I need help. I need some suggestions on what to get a female religious fruitcake for a Christmas gift. It has to cost less than twenty bucks, cannot give the impression that I have any feelings toward her beyond that of co-worker, and (most important) cannot make me want to puke after handling it.

Current status: Perplexed

Music: Twilight Zone, by Rush


1 12 2006

Way back in the depths of time, I met a motley group of malcontents in High School. Through some alchemical process I still do not understand, we all ended up as friends, and one of our common bonds was a strange new phenomenon called Dungeons and Dragons. We also adopted and tried out various other role-playing games, but D&D was the main focus.


We played the games regularly. At least once a week we would all gather at one house or another, surrounded by books, papers, little lead figurines, dice, discarded pizza boxes, and approximately five thousand empty soda cans. We would play far into the night, but there was at least as much of the usual teen-age nonsense as gameplay. A few people gradually drifted in or out of the group, but six or seven people were the core of the group.


After graduation, we gradually drifted to the far corners of the Earth- literally, because several of us ended up in the military. I moved around a lot during this time- I was one of those who joined the military. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it also plays hell with relationships. We gradually lost touch with each other over the years as we all got on with our separate lives.


I managed to maintain my interest in gaming- and D&D in particular- during this time. To the consternation of my wife, I continued gaming well into my 30’s, steadfastly refusing to grow up and put away childish things. I found people all over the world who joined me in playing these games over the years. I enjoyed their company, the gameplay, and the camaraderie, but it wasn’t quite as good as the games I remembered from High School. After a few aborted attempts to locate some of my old gaming buddies from back when, I gave up trying.


Then the Internet came to the rescue. The web didn’t even exist when we were in High School together, but the rapidly-expanding use of the net into all aspects of American life gradually made it possible for several of us to find each other online. After a while, we decided to hold a reunion of sorts, and organized a get-together.


You know that old saying, “You can’t go home again”? Supposedly, things will never be as good as you remember when you try to revisit the friends and places of old. Balderdash! That gathering of old friends was the best time I’d had in almost two decades. We talked, drank, smoked, clowned around, and even did a lot of gaming. We caught each other up on our separate lives since we had last parted ways, and talked about some of those who couldn’t make it to the gathering. It was an ENORMOUS success, even if it was a bit of a strain on Dale and his family- since we were basically invading their house for almost a week.


The best part of all is, we stayed in touch. Every week or so, I’ll get a call from one or the other of “The Guys”, or we’ll chat online through a variety of channels. A couple of us get together in this way and “game” out individual tales (the game has morphed into an extended story with multiple authors). Last year, we all got together again- in Las Vegas. We talked, argued, drank, smoke, and generally had a wonderful time. Despite it all, we are still on speaking terms with each other. We still get together online or talk on the phone, and generally keep tabs on how we’re all doing. In a couple of years, we’ll probably have another gathering somewhere. “You can’t go home again” is a load of dingo’s kidneys.


In contrast, all of us heard about our 25-year High School reunion with a mild air of surprise- 3 days after the fact. Few of us, even those who still live in our old stomping grounds, have paid a great deal of attention to the Oafishal Reunions. The irregular Gatherings with the few friends who have kept in touch over the last quarter century mean a lot more to me than a formal High School Reunion.