World Domination Update
vol. VI, iss. vii
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness”
of the Moment: “Sorry; I was just trying to picture what you’d
look like with duct tape over your mouth...” — saint
In this issue: First
of all,,, Bah,
humbug! Personally, I hate
Christmas (check out past rants to see why.)
FireSkunk has always been the big Christmas aficionado here at the
CyberCompound; I observe this blatantly off-date observance merely to keep her
happy. Luckily, I got off light this year: she said that if I bought her a
Christmas tree, I wouldn’t have to get her anything else. Alas, I refuse to
be that lazy, so at least I got her a cd that we both like, plus a few stuffed
animals. One of which was a reindeer, and FireSkunk, being the type who anthropomorphizes
her metaphoric pets, seemingly checked for dangling reindeer genitalia to
determine that Comet the Reindeer was a male... Yeah, I’m scared too... Then again, most people had the
same reaction towards my attempt to make a mistletoe belt buckle. Anyway,,,
As 2002 draws to a close,
a survey of the past year—and especially GWB’s role in it—quickly brings to
mind some dialogue from Apocalypse Now: Kurtz:
Are my methods unsound?
I don’t see any method...
Obviously it would be easy
enough for me to sit on the side and gripe about what a weenie he is, but I think I will up the ante, and
instead of merely being a backseat bitcher will actually offer my humble opinion
on how I would have done things differently. And oddly enough, I have a rabid
Reagan/Bush fanatic to thank for pushing me out of said complacency. I can only lament that I’d
already closed out the 2002 Obtuse Awards,
because ol’ boy is ideal fodder if ever I found one...
Back around Thanksgiving, I was at the Horse and Hound with arch-villain DK of
the Ranch Peninsular
heresy, having a few goodwill Budweisers and an open
discussion on random religious matters. The topic had drifted to
and I mentioned that, while I did not have up-to-date data, as of
1991 the Internal Revenue Service had eleven lawsuits filed against L. Ron Hubbard’s
attempt at a religion. Suddenly, a voice booms at us from
half way down the bar: “Hey, are you talking shit about the IRS?” The bellow belonged to Rob, a
previously unknown patron who had already cornered DK on the smoking patio with
a lengthy diatribe on why the New York Jets were the best football franchise in
the history of the Universe. Rob was already three sheets to the wind,
with his mizzenmast rapidly being unfurled in a vodka-shot gale. Anyway, before you can say
“Chad Pennington,” ol’ boy was over and in my face. “You talkin’ shit about the
IRS? I’m with the IRS and I’ll fuckin’ audit ya. You want to
get audited? Huh? Huh?” I simply did not want to deal
with this; surprisingly, DK came to my defense. “Naw, we’re just
talking.” “Talking about the Jets?” Rob says, sounding hopeful. “No,” we chorus. Crest-fallen that the
subject was nothing he would know about, he returns his attention back to
poor little me. “Hey, I’ll buy you a beer if you say ‘Jets RULE!’ ” I had a better idea.
“How ’bout this: you save
your money and just go sit back over there.” Alas, he is determined to stay
and make his presence felt. DK wisely gets up, ostensibly to take a piss
(though we know the real truth: he was mainlining some ranch dressing and
ordering a pie from Gumby’s.)
Unfortunately, this left me
alone with Rob. Rob quickly learns I have no interest in football, so
he veers the conversation to any other topic he can. “You seem like an
interesting guy,” he tells me, and my Sarcasmograph starts registering
intense activity. “So tell me what you’re all about.” I tap my glass, which is
two-thirds empty. “Well, I’m out of here after this, so you have until
then.” I promptly drain half the remaining contents. “Okay,” he says,
“what do you think about 9/11?” I have no idea what he means by
that broad topic, and say so. “Well, what aspect are you referring to?”
(gulp gulp; almost done.) “Well, how do you think
we’re handling it?” “Fair.” I spot DK
returning, so I polish off my beer, say bye to the bartender, and get up. “What do you mean?!?”
Rob cries with perplexed indignation. “Bush is awesome! Best
fucking president we ever had... except maybe for Reagan,,, and
Kennedy. No wait; Kennedy was a Democrat. Fucking Democrats...”
he hisses. I’m trying to scoot around him, but
he just won’t let me. “So what would you have done differently?” he
challenges me, curious to hear how one could possibly improve upon Bush’s
perfection. I didn’t want to get into it,
politely told him so, and made it to the door before he could further challenge me.
he technically does have
a valid point: it’s one thing to bitch and moan about how bad Bush is, but in
doing so, you should at least back that up with a better plan.
here it is:
Secret Word of the Day: Dangling Reindeer Genitalia
Site of the Week: Smite [your chance to play God!]
Barbecue Sauce of the Month: El Paso Barbecue’s Branding Iron Sauce
· Mighty Mouse
· Rand Bashing
· Coup d’état in Australia
· What the hell is Grimace?
· Ask Evil Matt
· More Hedgehog Humor
They told me you had gone completely insane and
your methods were unsound.
In this issue:
First of all,,,
Personally, I hate Christmas (check out past rants to see why.) FireSkunk has always been the big Christmas aficionado here at the CyberCompound; I observe this blatantly off-date observance merely to keep her happy.
Luckily, I got off light this year: she said that if I bought her a Christmas tree, I wouldn’t have to get her anything else. Alas, I refuse to be that lazy, so at least I got her a cd that we both like, plus a few stuffed animals. One of which was a reindeer, and FireSkunk, being the type who anthropomorphizes her metaphoric pets, seemingly checked for dangling reindeer genitalia to determine that Comet the Reindeer was a male...
Yeah, I’m scared too...
Then again, most people had the same reaction towards my attempt to make a mistletoe belt buckle.
Anyway,,, As 2002 draws to a close, a survey of the past year—and especially GWB’s role in it—quickly brings to mind some dialogue from Apocalypse Now:
Kurtz: Are my methods unsound?
Willard: I don’t see any method...
Obviously it would be easy enough for me to sit on the side and gripe about what a weenie he is, but I think I will up the ante, and instead of merely being a backseat bitcher will actually offer my humble opinion on how I would have done things differently.
And oddly enough, I have a rabid Reagan/Bush fanatic to thank for pushing me out of said complacency.
I can only lament that I’d already closed out the 2002 Obtuse Awards, because ol’ boy is ideal fodder if ever I found one...
Context check: here’s the deal. Back around Thanksgiving, I was at the Horse and Hound with arch-villain DK of the Ranch Peninsular heresy, having a few goodwill Budweisers and an open discussion on random religious matters. The topic had drifted to , and I mentioned that, while I did not have up-to-date data, as of 1991 the Internal Revenue Service had eleven lawsuits filed against L. Ron Hubbard’s attempt at a religion.
Suddenly, a voice booms at us from half way down the bar:
“Hey, are you talking shit about the IRS?”
The bellow belonged to Rob, a previously unknown patron who had already cornered DK on the smoking patio with a lengthy diatribe on why the New York Jets were the best football franchise in the history of the Universe.
Rob was already three sheets to the wind, with his mizzenmast rapidly being unfurled in a vodka-shot gale.
Anyway, before you can say “Chad Pennington,” ol’ boy was over and in my face.
“You talkin’ shit about the IRS? I’m with the IRS and I’ll fuckin’ audit ya. You want to get audited? Huh? Huh?”
I simply did not want to deal with this; surprisingly, DK came to my defense. “Naw, we’re just talking.”
“Talking about the Jets?” Rob says, sounding hopeful.
“No,” we chorus.
Crest-fallen that the subject was nothing he would know about, he returns his attention back to poor little me. “Hey, I’ll buy you a beer if you say ‘Jets RULE!’ ”
I had a better idea. “How ’bout this: you save your money and just go sit back over there.”
Alas, he is determined to stay and make his presence felt. DK wisely gets up, ostensibly to take a piss (though we know the real truth: he was mainlining some ranch dressing and ordering a pie from Gumby’s.) Unfortunately, this left me alone with Rob.
Rob quickly learns I have no interest in football, so he veers the conversation to any other topic he can.
“You seem like an interesting guy,” he tells me, and my Sarcasmograph starts registering intense activity. “So tell me what you’re all about.”
I tap my glass, which is two-thirds empty. “Well, I’m out of here after this, so you have until then.” I promptly drain half the remaining contents.
“Okay,” he says, “what do you think about 9/11?”
I have no idea what he means by that broad topic, and say so. “Well, what aspect are you referring to?” (gulp gulp; almost done.)
“Well, how do you think we’re handling it?”
“Fair.” I spot DK returning, so I polish off my beer, say bye to the bartender, and get up.
“What do you mean?!?” Rob cries with perplexed indignation. “Bush is awesome! Best fucking president we ever had... except maybe for Reagan,,, and Kennedy. No wait; Kennedy was a Democrat. Fucking Democrats...” he hisses.
I’m trying to scoot around him, but he just won’t let me. “So what would you have done differently?” he challenges me, curious to hear how one could possibly improve upon Bush’s perfection.
I didn’t want to get into it, politely told him so, and made it to the door before he could further challenge me.
However, he technically does have a valid point: it’s one thing to bitch and moan about how bad Bush is, but in doing so, you should at least back that up with a better plan.
So, here it is:
shade’s take on what we should have done
I will skip the issue on whether we should have used American troops in Afghanistan (rather than Northern Alliance cannonfodder) and, unlike Bush, actually address the root of the issue.
As English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton once wisely observed, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”
One of the most important weapons in any war is information, with propaganda being a related and close second. Hell: look at World War II: Goebbels’ p.r. machine prolonged the war at least two years by giving the German populace hope and a reason to stay in it.
One reason Al Qaida can do what they can (and, equally important, perpetuate themselves) is by exploiting the ignorance of the masses that they feed on for members. Demonstrably, their recruitment jumped dramatically after it was seen that they had gotten away with striking a blow at the Great Satan.
So on September 12th, I would have taken out full page ads in major Arabic newspapers and especially spots on Al-Jazeera tv. Have a picture of the planes hitting the World Trade Center, then the caption:
THIS IS NOT ISLAM.
THIS IS MURDER.
Some appropriate quotes out of the Quar’an would be nice, too. Such as
Do not kill yourselves, for Allah is compassionate towards you. Whoever does so, in transgression and wrongfully, We shall roast in a fire, and that is an easy matter for Allah.
I’m sure there are other Quar’anic quotes, and more appropriate to the subject than a blanket statement against suicide. Not being an Islamic scholar myself, I would leave the choice of Surahs up to others more skilled. Such as liberal use of this site or this one detailing how the Quar’an condemns suicide.
However, hopefully y’all see my point. Nixon actually had the right idea with trying to win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people, and I think an Islamic-oriented information campaign in that vein is something long overdue from us.
Although shade has an interesting idea here, choosing verses from the Quar’an to undermine the basic premise of an Anti-American Jihad would be more difficult to produce than he acknowledges. For starters, I found an alternate translation of the above-quoted Women that reads “Do not kill each other...” (as in Muslim killing another Muslim; something the warring Sunni and Shi’ites conveniently overlook.) Not being fluent in Arabic, I am still researching this; Evil Matt is on the job and so far tentatively agrees with you.
Whatever the case, the Quar’an has a number of very infamous passage to the effect of promoting Islamic Holy War against anyone outside their faith, adopted by almost all militant Muslims as justification for their jihad. One of the most oft quoted:
Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and who forbid not what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden.
That’s a tough one to get around, and that is exactly the mentality that the non-Islamic West is up against.
Of course, for an excellent, and of course disturbing slap in the face of American complacency, check out the (alleged) letter to America from Osama bin Laden if you truly want to get into the mind of the enemy.
For a very revealing (if necessarily lengthy) caustic commentary on the Islamic justification for jihad against the West, check out a well-researched piece on the matter here. Highly recommended reading.
Last Update’s exposé on the Nation of Islam contained (gasp!) a factual error. Specifically, it referred to NOI founder Wali Fard/Wallace Ford as having a prison record that identified him as “Mulatto.”
Wallace Ford’s prison file (from San Quentin for heroin dealing) actually lists his race as “Caucasian.”
Since it is standard practice for inmates to verify the information on their induction sheet, this cannot be an accident. My personal guess is that Ford claimed to be caucasian in a bid to get better treatment than other blacks while behind bars.
Surprisingly, higher-level NOI doctrine confirms the mixed blood element. Fard’s successor, Elijah Mohammad, claimed Fard privately confided to him that his father was black but his mother was white, and that this was actually part of the Divine Plan to allow him to travel incognito among the evil white masses. Of course, since Fard also claimed he was Allah on Earth, this can be seen as his choosing his own parents pre-natally. Sounds sort of like John 1:1-3, where Jesus pre-existed the Creation before being born to the flesh.
Interestingly, Ford’s common law wife prior to prison, Hazel Barton, gave a different version of the Founder’s genealogy when the FBI interviewed her in 1958. She claimed Ford had told her his father was a Caucasian from England, and that his mother was a New Zealand Maori. Since this information came before Ford’s self-discovery that he was Allah Incarnate, perhaps it is the most accurate.
Still, never let it be said that I don’t ’fess up when I’m wrong. Hey, I don’t know everything; that’s Evil Matt’s department.
Anyway, hopefully this sets the record straight and alleviates any potential misunderstanding I may have inadvertently caused.
Buddha is only worth three ponds of flax? Sounds skimpy to me; can you give a cost/comparison of other Deities to put this in perspective?
Technically, the Mumonkan says “Bhudda is three pounds of flax”, not “is worth.”
First, you must take into consideration the Great Flax Crunch of the Fourteenth Century, when an Afghanistan Flax/Hash hybrid hit the Eurasian market and people’s profits literally went up in smoke. Flax value went as high as the people “spending” it, and thus gives a disproportionate value by today’s inflated standards.
Still, you bring up a good point by asking for a value comparison , so I did some checking.
In the dreaded, heretical tome The Flaxinomicon (by that “mad” Arab, Flaxdul Alhrazad) we do find an inventory of the Celestial Pantheon, giving the going rate in flax of various gods that is surprisingly far-sighted:
J.R. “Bob” Dobbs
L. Ron Hubbard
|259 pounds of Flax
259 pounds of Flax
259 pounds of Flax
25 pounds of Flax
666 pounds of Flax
6 pounds of Flax
19½ pounds of Flax
1 bushel of Flax
14 pounds of Flax
23 pounds of Flax
1 grain of Flax
Hope that is of some help.
Perhaps as far back as a couple of months ago, I started hearing a very subtle noise late at night in my little room here at the BadAss compound. Something like a short, soft scuttle or a scrape; came from over in the corner, where I have a spare desk stored atop my dresser. I looked around repeatedly, but could never find anything, yet I continued to hear these noises (usually when my back was turned.)
This started to bother me: what the hell was this? Hidden camera? Rat? Something else?
Finally one morning, while catching up on email, I heard it again, and did yet another fruitless search. I even pulled out a flashlight, and did an extensive search of the shadows. This time, I happened to catch sight of a tiny head poking out from the bottom of the desk, back where one of the drawers would have pushed in.
It was a mouse. Grey, full grown (about 2" not counting the tail!) and cute as hell.
So I pulled the drawer out, and sure enough, saw the little guy scampering around. I got a large box, and tried to shoo him into it with a ruler. To my surprise, he promptly did this Olympic-quality vault over the box and landed about four feet away in my closet. Of course, once he hit the nuclear wasteland clutter of that, there was no chance of finding him.
Still, I continued to hear the little guy every now and then, so he obviously had not moved on to happier hunting grounds. Concerned that he might invite some friends over, and not wanting to start running a rodent bed and breakfast, I vowed to capture him. After all, he could be a Brain Police agent: anyone who has read my book Blade surely remembers my concept of remote controlled rats used for subtle surveillance on unsuspecting subjects.
FireSkunk and I call him Scabbers, after the pet rat in Harry Potter.
So I went out and bought a humane mouse trap. I didn’t want to kill him; I’m not that kind of guy. Best just to capture him, and then FireSkunk and I could have a little Mouse Releasing Ceremony a few miles away from BadAss. I ended up getting this bizarre little contraption that has a small tunnel for them to scuttle through, in the middle of which is a sensitive pressure plate: touching that pops them into a small holding chamber. I baited it with part of a cracker and awaited my mouse.
Over the next week, Scabbers managed to pick the bait out (without triggering the trap) three times. Clearly this is no ordinary mouse!
Then, while recovering from the flu, I was puttering around at about 4 in the morning, semi-starved and wondering what there was to eat. I didn’t have anything, so I decided to raid Pop & Fresh’s secret stash in the kitchen. Above the fridge were a couple of cupboards where he usually had some snacks.
Inside, I found Scabbers feasting on the contents of a Rice-A-Roni box.
By the way, this should be further proof of Scabbers’ supernatural powers: there was no direct way up to the cupboard and no mouse-holes inside, so how the hell did he manage to jump up about eight inches and get inside a closed door?!?
Anyway, I put the mouse trap inside, and started watching Duckman on Comedy Central, curious if the varmint would fall for the trap.
This time he did.
So I roused FireSkunk, and we drove to central Phoenix to let the little guy go. We found a nice park next to the Veterans’ Hospital on Indian School Road, and released him by the fountain. We have since rechristened the place Scabbers Park.
Of course, I was still concerned that the little guy might’ve invited some friends over, and rather than have a little rodent rave party in my bedroom, I left the trap out.
Two days later, I caught a little brown one. FireSkunk dubbed this one Nibblet, deemed it a female (though I am unclear on the gendering; did she check for dangling rodent genitalia?!?) and again we had a little mouse-freeing party.
Alas, that still wasn’t the end of rodent invasion: I continued to leave the trap out, and some mystery varmint picked the bait out of it for a week. I also found that he had wended his way up onto my desk and nibbled on a cigarette and the end of a q-tip. Oddly, the q-tip was out because, with some isopropyl alcohol, I was cleaning a peripheral computer part that moves the cursor around.
That’s right: I had been cleaning my mouse ball.
The last straw came when I came home and caught the guy red-pawed, brazenly sitting on my desk and eating a pistachio nut. So I changed the bait on the trap to a pistachio, and the next day added Marvin the Mouse to the growing population of Scabbers Park.
FireSkunk suggested I get one of those sonic mouse repellants to drive him (and any drinking buddies) away. Of course, I pointed out that if we’re going to use sound to de-mouse the compound, I should just put on some Ramones: anyone who's seen Rock ’n’ Roll High School knows the explosive effect I’m suggesting. But since that film also shows that mice have mastered earplugs, that may not work after all.
Anyway, I took FireSkunk’s advice and got a sonic buzzer, which seems to have worked. So the BadAss Compound is now ostensibly mouse-free, though we strongly suspect that Scabbers Park will shortly be overrun by super-smart, pistachio-loving rodents, slowly culling an army to conquer Phoenix...
The Rand Rant
Many of you may have noticed a recurring theme during the Branch Floridian ministry-in-print: a profound dislike of author/philosopher Ayn Rand.
In the past, I’ve been content to let well enough alone and just hope that everyone was on the same page as I was on this: unwritten acknowledgement that Ayn Rand sucks like a starving tick on a skinny puppy.
However, recent events (a lengthy digression I’ll spare y’all) made me rethink this. Not in the fact that she sucks—face it, folks: a Hoover vacuum can’t compete here—but more along the lines that everyone knew where I was coming from, and why.
So allow me to elucidate.
Ayn Rand is the Ranch Dressing of modern philosophy.
An oft-quoted comment of mine on the subject is “I would rather stab myself in the testicles with a shrimp fork than read any more of her books, because it would be less painful and damaging in the long run.”
My hatred of Rand is two-fold: I absolutely oppose her philosophy, and simply can’t stand the awkward, immature prose she uses to communicate it.
Let’s dissect each in turn.
Rand’s philosophy is known as “objectivism.” It is a rigid, intransient mentality that sees things in fixed, flat black and white, with no gray or excluded middle allowable. Things are set in absolute values, hence “objective” truths, with a specific rejection of subjective interpretation.
This is, of course, diametrically at odds with the Fourth Rule of Branch Floridianism: “All things are subjective.”
With an emphasis on objective “reality,” the individual interpretation of the human experience is effectively nullified. This is hypocritically ironic, as she is a big believer in individualism: each and every person is a power unto his or her self. Still, she sees things as only having an absolute, inflexible value/meaning/truth, so if someone happens to have an alternative perspective on something contrary to its accepted value, that person is, by (her) definition, wrong.
The problem with that logic should be obvious, but if not, check out my previous defense of subjectivity.
At a book-signing conference for her alleged “masterpiece” Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand was challenged to present the core of her philosophy while standing on one foot. She did so, thus:
1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality
2. Epistemology: Reason
3. Ethics: Self-interest
4. Politics: Capitalism
She subsequently elaborated on this (with my commentary provided in purple after each):
1. Reality exists as an objective absolute — facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
Bullshit. All “facts” are subject to subjective interpretation. If you don’t believe me, check out any Rush Limbaugh diatribe and his use of “documented facts” to prove his point. I myself have seen historians site “facts” about Napoleon, “proving” he was an enlightened dictator with progressive reforms and France’s best interests at heart. Likewise, I have also seen historians site these very same “facts” as “proof” that Napoleon was a tyrannical despot whose self-serving interests set France back several hundred years. Who’s right? I’d say that “it depends on your point of view” but of course Rand’s rigid interpretation does not allow for that, so ultimately the only way to be “right” is to agree with her. Undoubtedly she would be horrified by quantum physics, which pretty much proves my point that something can be more than one state at the same time. Reality is NOT an absolute. Historically, reality is what the majority of people agree it is. Of course, Branch Floridians know better: to quote Robert Anton Wilson, “Reality is what you can get away with.”
2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
Our only means of survival?!? I guess she’s never heard of instinct. By her logic, only entities which can reason can survive. I personally doubt slugs or plants can reason, at least in the sense Rand suggests, so I guess they are not surviving.
3. Man — every man — is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
What a selfish, self-serving world-view! With her mentality on this, it should come as no surprise that she was an atheist, because she could not possibly tolerate the idea that there might be Something superior to herself (or to any other person, but let’s face it: mostly herself.)
4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
Excuse me while I get a bucket to yerf into. Granted, I like capitalism, as it encourages progress: find a way to do something better than your competitors. That is good, as I think you all will agree. However, here she expresses a naiveté here that is bordering on the absurd. "The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use...." Oh, puh-leeeze: that is more bullshit that McVeigh used to blow up the Murrah Building. Governments use force to protect their own interests, not those of the populace they allegedly represent. Anybody who thinks otherwise should leave this website immediately: it’s probably past your bedtime, anyway. Considering she grew up in Stalinist Russia, I am stunned that she would even think this. Admittedly she’s discussing an ideal, but Moore’s Utopia has a better chance of materializing than this bilge. But back to the point, the last line of that drivel above is especially telling: the separation of state from economics under the Reagan administration was what allowed Enron and WorldCom to do what they did.
Rand’s fascination with economics is a sub-theme in much of her writings, and it should come as no surprise that she was good friends with Alan Greenspan.
Anyway, having deconstructed her ideology for the toxic vomit that it is, let’s turn our attention to the primary means she uses to convey it: fiction.
Granted, Ayn Rand did write a number of “non-fiction” books, but most of her exposure to the masses comes from a couple of novels she shat out that actually have have characters and plots, all as vehicles to drive her philosophy over the poor, suffering roadkill that are the readers.
Her two most famous books are The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Admittedly, I have not read Atlas Shrugged, but did suffer through The Fountainhead, as well as what is essentially a short story of hers called Anthem.
The Fountainhead is a meandering piece of manure that rambles on for almost 700 pages. Although it is largely about the conflicts of the individual versus the demands of society, an underlying motif is a championing of ‘art for art’s sake.’ The book has five main characters, each of which is a specific archetype of the human experience. The protagonist, Howard Roark, is presented as the ‘ideal’ person for all to emulate, which is surprising, as he struck me as an otherwise soulless, emotionless golem who grunts through dialogue and is completely ill-equipped to interface with people and society at large. The closest he comes to having emotion is in his work: architecture. It is unclear, and at best debatable, if Roark is a good architect. He is certainly different, but if he is actually “good” is something that Rand’s rejection of subjectivism disqualifies as a possibility.
But if there were ever a reason to hate her prose, it is the wretchedly written Anthem. This was my first exposure to Rand, back in 1989 at the recommendation of my bass-playing roommate, who told me the band Rush had based their rock opera 2112 on it. The book is sort of Brave New World meets Fahrenheit 451. In it, society is essentially a big collective commune where individuality is effectively non-existent. However, the protagonist (Equality 7-2521) escapes and finds some old books. In them he keeps seeing a word he does not understand, and a climax of sort comes when he finally deciphers it: “I”. This epiphany causes much crying and wailing as he rediscovers his lost individuality. Blah blah blah. Although sappy enough as it is, the book is written (until the discovery at the end) in a variant of first person where Equality refers to himself as “we”. This literary device gets old real fast, and by the second paragraph of the first chapter you’re sick of it. By the third, you’re ready to kill someone, probably the author.
Anyway, see my point? Both books abound with in-your-face symbolism that anyone beyond kindergarten can grasp. Rand’s wretched, pretentious prose makes an already intolerable (and intolerant) philosophy unpalatable to anyone with an IQ over 50 that has had exposure to good literature. My experience is that Rand’s core audience are high school and college undergrads who have just enough brain cells to erroneously think they’re smarter than everyone else. Rand is what you read when you want to seem intellectual, but aren’t brainy enough to handle something really challenging. Such as two excellent deconstructions that effectively refute (or at least offer valid counter-arguments to) her objective mentality; both written a hundred years before she wrote: Stendahl’s Red and Black, and Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. These are challenging examples. Stendahl’s concept, called ‘beyalism’, advocates a hypocritical conformity because he views that society demands conformity and crushes individuality. That idea horrifies me, but I see his point. On the other hand, Dostoevsky’s unnamed narrator from Underground posits that in life you can either be free or happy: one but not the other. He presents a worst case scenario of this: someone who is completely free but miserable (both in person and as a subject to read about.)
Both these ideas are slaps in the face of conventional wisdom, which is why they are so challenging.
Much more so than any wretched Rand concept.
THIS JUST IN: check out the update on the Cult of Ayn Rand.
Lost in the Pine Gap
Although it’s taken for granted that the CIA has expanded its charter from mere intelligence gathering to actively tinkering with regimes deemed “unfriendly,” what is less known is that the Agency occasionally turns its hostile purview towards “friendly” nations as well.
The textbook example is the U.S.-sponsored overthrow of the Chilean government and the assassination of its democratically-elected leader back in 1973. Even though Chile had a good rapport with the United States, Nixon decided President Salvador Allende was soft on Marxism and a more hard-line (and malleable) tyrant was needed in the area.
“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.”
—Henry Kissinger, June 27, 1970
Yeah, those damned indigenous populations. How dare they think for themselves...
Disturbing as the Allende chapter of CIA history is, other, stranger examples than that do exist, which are not as well known.
Specifically, the CIA helped overthrow the government of Australia back in 1975.
What has become known (to the few that even know of it) as “the Australian Constitutional Crisis” is a murky area that even most of those down-under don’t fully understand to this day. However, the Agency’s role behind the scenes is perhaps the ultimate penumbra of obscurity in this bizarre saga of toppling a government because you don’t agree with its agenda.
To set the stage in this strange tale, let’s begin with an introduction of the CIA’s main station (out of three) in Australia, Pine Gap. Located about twenty kilometers southeast of the otherwise unknown town of Alice Springs in the geographic center of Australia, the Pine Gap station is, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere—and thus ideal for clandestine work.
Click for a pic.
One of the most noticeable features about Pine Gap are the numerous geodesic domes (called radomes) that conceal giant satellite dishes. The theory behind this is by concealing them, outside spies cannot tell where they are pointed, which could allow a hostile government with its own space program to locate the appropriate satellites Pine Gap uses and tap into, sabotage, or even pull a “Live and Let Die” and steal them.
Of course, most people agree that, radomes aside, all of that is just window dressing, and the real spook shop is underground. Accounts I found vary, usually listing between seven and nine levels, designed to withstand a Richter 8 earthquake or even a direct hit with a hydrogen bomb. Almost all agree it houses one of the world’s largest computer centers.
Although it’s a given that at least part of Pine Gap’s purpose is intelligence gathering, a prominent minority of theorists expand upon its known role in Reagan’s Star Wars space defense project by making the place into the hub of extraterrestrial contact activity. Among such people, who probably think the X-Files had the right idea but didn’t go far enough, Pine Gap has become the Australian Area 51. Admittedly there do seem to be a fair share of “strange lights” flying through the night sky in its vicinity every now and then.
Whatever the case, Pine Gap became operational in 1970, and continues work to this day. By all accounts it played a major role in the Gulf War for information processing, and currently is a major player in Operation Enduring Freedom.
But let’s back up a second. The land Pine Gap is built upon was purchased in 1966 from landowner Des Bullen for fifty-two cents an acre. Mr. Bullen did not wish to sell at all, but was essentially compelled to do so from pressure from the Australian government. Construction began on the base almost immediately, but apparently Australia had specific laws that prevented outside (non-Australian) labor doing such work, so quickly rumors flew that the CIA had infiltrated Australian labor unions to help facilitate work on the installation at sub-union wages and working conditions.
Rumors of strange doings at the Gap also began to surface, and surprisingly most members of Australia’s own government didn’t know exactly what was going on there.
Enter Gough Whitlam.
Edward Whitlam was the first Labor Party leader in 20 years, and was elected Prime Minister in December 1972. He was surprisingly likeable and popular; among his achievements were an end to military conscription (the draft), a withdrawal of Australian troops from the Vietnam War, and diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China. He won reelection in 1974.
In November 1975, Whitlam demanded to know more about what was going on out at Pine Gap. His requests fell on deaf ears from the CIA, who essentially told the Prime Minister that he was not authorized to know what was going on in his own country. Whitlam began hinting that unless he started getting some satisfactory answers, he would not authorize the renewal on Pine Gap’s lease.
This understandably upset the Big Boys in Langley, Virginia, who realized that Whitlam would quite likely carry through with his threat, and therefore something needed to be done to change the situation more to their own liking.
At about the same time, certain members of Whitlam’s government had been attempting to solicit $4 billion in financial aid from outside parties, notably Tirath Khemlani, an Pakistani broker with extensive Mid-East oil ties. While this was not strictly illegal, it is highly improper, and understandably the opposition party had a field day with the “Khemlani Loans Affair.” Ostensibly, Whitlam was not involved in the affair, and upon its becoming public knowledge and the public reacting unfavorably to it, he sacked the primary offenders, Rex Connor, Minister for Minerals and Energy, as well as Treasurer Jim Cairns, who misled (read: lied) to Parliament about crucial aspects of the scandal.
However, Governor-General Jim Kerr, a member of the minority party, took the unprecedented step of cutting of the Upper House’s budget (known as “blocking supply”) in an effort to force the entire Whitlam regime out.
At the same time, Whitlam began making inquiries into Pine Gap, and first made his threat to not renew its lease unless he got some satisfactory answers.
Governor-General Sir Jim Kerr is known to have had extensive ties to the American Intelligence community, starting as far back as 1944 when he was the Australian liaison to the OSS (Organization of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA.) These ties continued three decades later, with Kerr being actively involved in the ASIO (sort of the Aussie CIA equivalent.) On November 8th, 1975, the CIA sent a cable to the ASIO saying “They (the CIA) feel that if this problem cannot be solved they do not see how our mutually beneficial relationships (with Australian intelligence agencies) are going to continue.”
The very same day, Kerr was briefed by the CIA, and it is now known a good deal of this meeting had to do with their concerns over losing Pine Gap. It can be safely assumed that they requested something be done about the situation.
Three days later, Kerr consulted with Sir Garfield Barwick, Chief Justice of the Australian High Court, who was politically sympathetic with Kerr’s Opposition Party. The brainstorming session over what their options were would ultimately stun the Australian continent: Kerr used an an all-but-unknown (and at best ambiguous) clause of the Australian Constitution as means to withdraw Whitlan’s commission as Prime Minister, effectively firing him from the position he was elected to. Basically the pretext was, Parliament cannot pay its bills (which, you will remember, was because Kerr himself had cut off their budget) and was therefore unable to function properly. Sacking Whitlam forced a general election two weeks later.
Although this all may seem as coincidence that worked in favor of the CIA’s objectives, something close to a smoking gun actually exists that implicates the Agency in the overthrowing of the Whitlam Government.
In the late ’70s, a young communications specialist named Chris Boyce began selling secrets to the Soviet Union. Boyce worked as a cipher clerk for TRW, an aerospace corporation widely assumed to be a CIA shell. TRW handled communications relays between Pine Gap and Langley. One of the documents he sold was the so-called Pyramide File, which extensively documented Pine Gap, starting with CIA infiltration of labor unions to get it built, but also dealt with the CIA’s distrust of Whitlam and machinations to remove him in a self-preservation effort.
New York Times journalist Robert Lindsay wrote a book about this, called The Falcon and the Snowman, which was turned into a mediocre movie of the same name in 1985 starring Timothy Hutton as Boyce and Sean Penn as his drug-dealing sidekick.
How much one wishes to read into this is ultimately up to the individual, but one has to admit: the CIA taking on a friendly nation is an unsettling thought.
Please remember, by the way, that the head of the CIA at that time was none other than George Herbert Walker Bush.
McDonalds may not have been the first fast food chain, but it is unquestionably one of the most well known. Equally well known is its metaphorical spokesman, Ronald McDonald.
Personally, I never liked clowns; Stephen King knew what was up when he chose one for the villain in his book It. However, equally unpalatable are the other mascots. None of them make much sense, such as the Hamburglar—gee, an escaped prisoner who steals burgers: now there’s a good, wholesome role model for youth (and don’t even get me started on deciphering what the hell “robble robble” means!)
But by far the most perplexing character in the McDonalds pantheon is Grimace.
Just what the hell is this thing, anyway?
No one to my knowledge has ever satisfactorily determined Grimace’s gender such as checking for dangling Grimace genitalia, but if the voice is any indication, Grimace is a guy.
But a guy what?!?
Theories range from a malformed monster to a Satanic gumdrop. Perhaps this amorphous mass is some sick progenitor to Barney the Dinosaur.
Checking the product he’s whoring offers no help. McDonalds shakes aren’t even purple, fer chris’sake! Then again, they’re not even milkshakes. Milk never enters the equation. I have no idea what’s in that gelatinous crap, but I’ve seen babies implode their skull’s soft spot while trying to suck one of those wretched confections through a straw. I strongly suspect ranch dressing as an active ingredient.
It’s not a widely known fact, but Grimace has a relative: Uncle McGrimacy, who had a brief run in the ’70s every Saint Patrick’s Day to promote their Shamrock Shakes. This should be cause for concern: whatever type of abomination Grimace is, the damned things are capable of breeding.
Whatever the case, this dopey, grinning toady of Ron McM should be cause for concern. All you have to do is look up “grimace” in a dictionary to see why:
grimace n. A facial expression, often ugly or contorted, that indicates disapproval, pain, etc.
—Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary
Anyone with a theory as to what Grimace really is, feel free to share it:
Best concept wins ten tons of Flax.
THIS JUST IN: a fairly detailed analysis of what is Grimace.
Ask Evil Matt
The Evil One fields your queries, as channeled by Sister Ob’dewlla ‘X’.
An easy issue this go-round, with but three posts in the in-box (and those from FireSkunk, shade, and saint, respectively.) Does this mean that all other Branch Floridians finally know what’s going on???
Q: What is "pink" lemonade, and how does it differ from "regular" lemonade. Besides color, obviously.
A: Pink Lemonade is regular lemonade with an extra ingredient (invariably red in color) that alters the flavor, almost always for the sweeter. What that extra ingredient is varies, but it is usually a red fruit juice or syrup. The most common choices are cranberry juice, cherry juice, strawberry juice, or grenadine; take your pick.
Q: what is the origin of the term "welch on a bet"?
A: The term was coined by English horserace bettors in the 18th century when bookies would skip town and hide in Wales rather than pay up on a particularly heavy win.
Q: What is the correcttranslation of Surah 4:29 in the Quar'an: "do not kill yourselves" or "do not kill each other"?
A: Like you, I found a mix of translations on the ’Net for this. I contacted a number of them, attempting to get clarification. Only one wrote back, from www.submission.org. Here is his reply:
As an Arabic speaking person, the Arabic Quran has "Do not kill yourselves".
YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!
KHALIFA: O you who believe, do not consume each others' properties illicitly - only mutually acceptable transactions are permitted. You shall not kill yourselves. GOD is Merciful towards you.
“Yusufali” is apparently Abdullah Yusufali, a scholar who translated the Quar’an on-line, with “Khalifa” being Dr. Rashad Khalifa who likewise has an on-line translation. The differences are negligible, and most likely based on dialectic preference, but both here agree with the “kill yourself” reading.
Of course, if any readers out there are fluent in Arabic, this is the passage in the original; read and decipher for yourself.
Got a question? .
The Hedgehog Corner
By Harriet the Hedgehog
Hedgehog Humor, part II
A hedgehog is running through the jungle. Hedgehog comes across a monkey; the monkey’s rolling a joint. Hedgehog says to the monkey, “Hey, you! Don’t touch that stuff! Come with me! Run through the jungle! It’ll be fun!” The monkey shrugs, gets up, and the two of them set off.
So: hedgehog and a monkey are running through the jungle, and come across an elephant. The elephant’s chopping cocaine on a mirror. The hedgehog says, “Hey, you! Don’t touch that stuff! Come with us! Run through the jungle! It’ll be fun!” Elephant says okay, and the three of them go crashing off.
The hedgehog, monkey, and elephant are running through the jungle, and find a lion. The lion’s getting ready to shoot up some heroin. Hedgehog says to the lion: “Hey, you! Don’t touch that stu...”
All of a sudden, the lion backhands the hedgehog and sends him sailing over the trees.
The lion looks at the other two, and says “y’know, every time that damned hedgehog does ecstacy, all he does is run around like an idiot and ruin everybody else’s fun.”
Trust no one
and Always keep your lighter handy!
back to the archive