Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The phrase "withdrawal with honor" sends chills down my spine.

Anyone get freaked out hearing McSame talk about getting out of Iraq "with honor?" Let me remind you what resulted from those words to people in southeast Asia in the 1970s: mass death from above.

"Peace with Honor" was how Nixon explained he wanted to withdraw from southeast Asia. What did that mean?

"The total amount of ordnance dropped on Cambodia reached 539,129 tons" (Link) as a result of people like John McSame flying bombing missions over the peasants of Cambodia. Remember, in all of World War II the USA dropped 180,000 tons of bombs on Japan. So to achieve "peace with honor" that meant dropping almost THREE TIMES the tonnage of bombs on a small peasant nation.

The estimates for the deaths this "peace with honor" caused is probably impossible to calculate. 600,000? Over a million? We may never know. And it's also logical to assume that the reason the Khmer Rouge was able to gain mass support from peasants to take power was partly because of the 539,129 tons of bombs dropped by America. The Khmer Rouge genocide was one of the most brutal in history, obviously. I really don't think Americans understand that dropping bombs on people causes severe political instability --- sometimes resulting in death and misery for decades after the bombing stops.

And they're still cleaning up the unexploded ordnance (UXO) which kills Cambodian farmers almost daily still in 2008. I know this because I've been to Cambodia to visit my close friend who's been living there and working to clean up the landmines and UXO. He estimates that the landmine problem (99% of the mines are not American) will be done in a decade, but the UXO may be around from 50 to 100 years from now. He told me that some farmers keep a pile of unexploded American cluster bombs in the corner of their field. The shit explodes all the time, maiming and killing as it goes.

"Honorable," eh? Coming from the lips of war-hungry politicians, that word should sound very spooky to you.

I solemnly promise that this is the best thing you will see this week.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Farm House Sex Joint

I'm trying to get my product going in South Africa, but I recently got some bad news from the distributor by email. He writes:
"Economically wise, it would be difficult to start now and then you do NOT want to hear about the new land-reform plans our bright government has in mind. Maybe we are on the same path as Zimbabwe. White farmers are selling their farms and almost, well, 90% of the farms that’ve been granted to previous workers and farmed as 'up-liftment' farms, are bankrupt. All they do is use the farm house as a 'sex joint', sit on their behinds and smoke 'M' --- pot, I think you call it."
Oh man, I have to check out one of these farm house sex joints when I get to South Africa. Sounds fun!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Another moral to my list: don't haul sharks aboard."

I'm reading the true-life high seas adventure story, Desperate Voyage, written by John Caldwell in 1946. Caldwell was stranded in Panama after the war and couldn't find a ship to take him to his wife in Australia. He tried stowing away on a freighter but was caught and arrested. He escaped from jail and bought a 29-foot sloop called Pagan and set out for Sydney with two kittens named Flotsam and Jetsam. The book is awesome.

Below is an excerpt from the book where Caldwell brings a massive shark onboard so he can cut out its jaws to show his wife. Below is the most intense fishing story I've ever heard, and I've heard a lot of them. This story is so good I re-typed the entire section from the book:

The shark which filliped Pagan's hull that morning of the twenty-third was a whopper. I couldn't help but marvel at him. He was all shark. He had the swagger of a brute bully; he was half the length of Pagan, and had teeth the size of fingers.

When I saw those staggered twisted teeth I wanted them ... to show what I had seen. I wanted Mary to see that crushing jawbone, to hold it in her hand.

I brought my heavy sport reel and pole on deck, and attached my largest shark hook. I baited it with a fat yellowjack partly gnawed at by Flotsam and Jetsam. When the shark came near I dangled it before him and dragged it away before he could look it over, a simple bit of classroom psychology which, as it whetted him, angered him. Next time he nuzzled it, and arrogantly swept it into his jagged mouth.

I heaved back with all the strength I had. The hook lodged unmistakably in his bold jaw, and with the burn of cold steel he tensed, then, slashing about with a startled suddenness roiling the water, sent a wave against the planking and made off to beamward.

Threshing in agitation with his slow main strength, he battled away from the boat, making the reel hum. When he ended his run of sixty yards he turned on the hook and flailed the surface, gleaming silvery as he twisted in foam.

I braced myself against the lashed tiller for a ringside view of the most fascinating struggle I had ever seen.

The massive thing tore at the surface of the water, bending violently, from U shape to S shape, champing viciously. Sometimes he appeared astern, then on the bow, always with a smear on the quiet sea. He turned on his back and threshed fitfully, or spun in great full circles abeam and close aboard, followed by his pilot fish.

At one time he was more than a hundred feet down straight under me --- so deep in fact I could see nothing in the limpid water. His most spectacular effort came about a half hour after he had been hooked. He had fought the line to its end, dead astern. With dorsal fin cleaving the surface he sped in fury full around the boat, threshing mightily as he went. Spray shot above him and a long wake rolled away behind him. He ended his circular run, paused a second, then sped fifty feet toward the quarter, swirled about, and raced away as though he would wrench his head off with the impending shock at the line's end. Barely before he reached the the line's end he thrust himself from the water, and twisting on his back he sent a shiver from head to tail that, had the line grown taut --- even if it were a boltrope --- would have snapped like spaghetti. After that his defiance fell completely away. He struggled only pettily as I towed him to the rail.

The teeth I saw were unbelievable. They lay in two uneven rows, each two inches long and thicker than a pencil. They jutted at rakish angles, looked unmercifully sharp, and were wielded by a jaw mammoth enough to crush bone. My envy of his power, coupled with the animal instincts of the victor, induced me to lean over the rail and punch him in the nose. I found it about as hard as Pagan's decks.

The great jaw, the jagged teeth --- they were fascinating. But how to get them? My wicked intuition that all was well prodded me. Pull him aboard; cut his head off; boil the flesh away --- it's simple.

Flotsam and Jetsam, with paws on the rail, could smell the fishy stench of the beast's breath and were fidgeting and mewing eagerly for a feast. I decided to pull him aboard.

First, I naively tried to lift him by direct pull, but only budged him scantily. He weighed hundreds of pounds. I fastened the main halyard to the gaff hook fitted in his gill and with desperate heaves dragged him an inch at a time over the transom, into the cockpit. What a monster. His head lay in the cockpit and his tail hung over the stern. He stirred faintly. I took the hatchet and buried it in his spine to end his tremors. A spurt of blood sprayed over me.

At the same moment the big body quivered violently. Flotsam and Jetsam went racing to the bow. I watched them. I heard a resounding scuffle and saw my tiller, splintered loose at the rudderpost, go flying into the sea.

All hell broke loose around me. The great shark came completely to life, threw himself in wild assault. With great sweeps of his tail and butts of his head he swept my legs from under me, almost knocking me overboard.

The great tail was pounding up and down like a sledgehammer, splintering, slamming, erasing. The gas-tank hatch disintegrated in a flash and the brazed copper tank went flat, spilling its load into the bilge. I clung to the rail, horror-stricken. The cockpit coaming rumbled, shattered, and flew at me, and if I hadn't ducked it would have gone down my throat.

In the meantime the hatchway sliding door had been popped through to the cabin floor and the rear porthole cracked. The bottom of the cockpit was giving way. Pagan was bouncing as though pounded by great fist blows.

I darted as close as I dared, grabbed up my hatchet, and chopped away at the heaving spine. Again he set to beating with sinuous motions. The partition between the engine compartment and the cockpit screamed and split away. The cockpit deck itself broke through, the gasoline drums rumbled into the engine compartment, and the shark lay head down on the motor. I jumped in and struck again, burying the blade, and burying it again.

The destruction went on.

Pagan was being blasted apart before my eyes. I hacked with the hatchet like a wild woodcutter. I opened gashes in the head, and in the back. I had chopped his dorsal fin half away. Still he mauled my boat. I was afraid he would work his way into the cabin and rip it down or endanger the mast. I struck the harder. I went after him like a madman --- blood bespattered and desperate.

He mangled the engine with side movements of his head, bending the sparkplugs down and tearing the wiring away. He fell beside the motor, threw himself around athwartships, and lying on the propeller shaft throbbed till it bent out of line. I was terrified lest he should work his way against the ribbing and smash the hull open. I lay on my side atop the engine, eased close, and notched a great hole in his stomach and lower jaw.

He jumped spasmodically. I moved after him, lost in the bloody, death-dealing strokes. I cut his eye completely out and opened a hole from his gill to his shorn dorsal fin; still he lashed like a whip.

I sidled closer, drawing my legs up so that I could fit into the confined space, and turned more on my side to apply all my strength. Aiming for his nose --- a supposed Achilles' heel --- I laid it open bone and all, as far back as his front teeth. Still he throbbed dangerously. Moving closer --- inches from him --- I hacked into his vital stomach organs.

I was so far gone I was hardly nicking him. But it suddenly didn't matter; he gaped at the mouth and lay still. I lay for a long time beside him, watching him, hoping he wouldn't move, because if he had, I would have been in his way and too tired to shift. Everything about me was either smashed or coated red. I was caked with blood.

The cockpit was a gaping hole. In the midst of it, the kittens were growling hungrily over the shark; chewing tastily with the corners of their mouths. I cut them a sizable meal and placed them with it on the fore scuttle.

After such a contest to subdue the shark, I considered his jawbone more a prize than ever. I cut his head off and later cleaned and scraped the bones and yellow teeth --- a gruesome sight.

To heave the carcass over the side I had to cut it into two pieces and tussle with it by main strength. As to the wreckage --- most of my space time for the next two weeks was spent in rebuilding the stern.

Because of the shark I added another moral to my list: don't haul sharks aboard!

This is why Hemingway usually carried a tommy gun onboard to blast them before he hauled them onto the boat.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why John McSame has a good chance of winning & What I will NOT do if Obama loses.

Why John McSame has a good chance of winning:

1. The economy is not that bad. I've belabored this point recently, but I'm sorry liberals, if unemployment only sits at 5.7% and the economy continues to grow at 1.8%, we're not in such a dire situation. Also, gas prices aren't that high and most people, deep down, don't give a flip about all the global warming doomsaying. I don't think they really believe the science. Remember, this is the country where nearly half the people believe that Jesus Christ will swoop down from Heaven flanked by an army of white horses, bringing on the apocalypse, some time in this lifetime. I think the malaise and negative view of the direction of this country is due to having a leader for eight years who can barely string a sentence together. The bad mood is more due to that than actual economic pain.

2. Americans, deep down, truly love war against other countries. They really do. Right wingers who capitalize on the security issue do quite well. Remember, Americans are highly narcissistic and think that all the rest of world actually plots against them daily. Despite the fact that this is a huge fantasy, dropping bombs across a wide swath of humanity gives a boost to our national pride. Right wingers long for the days after 9/11 or the benefits from WWII when we saved the world from ruin. This will never stop the desire for most people to want to kill people in foreign countries. Shit, it's not like Americans actually travel to other countries, so why not bomb them?

3. Despite a 29% approval rating, nearly 50% of Americans voted for Bush ... TWICE. Never forget this.

4. Anti-rich people ads don't work well. McSame's gaffe about not knowing how many houses he owns seems bad at first glance, but most people want to get rich themselves. Bashing rich people may work in the Third World, but not here. Also, the proposed Obama tax on people who make over $250,000 turns people off because they hope to one day make that much money!

What I will NOT do if Obama loses:

1. Declare I'm moving to another country, like Canada. God, don't you HATE when people say that shit? What a bunch of babies. Do you know how many countries have political systems 100 times worse that the USA's? This kind of statement reveals how little courage and endurance many liberals have. I hear this crap all the time.

2. Claim there were some nefarious machinations to put McSame in power. Also an annoying line that liberals make when they lose. Can't we just accept when we lose? I will. I mean, that is, if we actually lose.

3. Whine and complain like it's the end of the freaking world. People in this country feel so self-important that the slightest disappointment is like a human rights violation. If Obama loses, it's not the end of the world. We'll still have 2012, and I can deal with four years of some decrepit, doddery rich guy in the White House. Remember, people, I live in Washington, DC. For eight years, I have been able to ride my bike to George W. Bush's personal residence in about 20 minutes. I can deal with it. At least McSame isn't a teetotaler, right?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Yum's in DC: Bloody Meat from a 'Homeless-looking Dude' for 'Ten Dolla'

"Yum's" is a shithole Chinese takeout near U Street in DC whose food makes Adams Morgan pizza seem like fancy foie gras served at The Palm. I've only eaten at Yum's once, blotto drunk, trying to fit oversized wings into my mouth. That's the only time anyone would ever eat there.

The drunk craving hit my wife recently after leaving a local bar. Her experience was straight out of the Third World. She writes:
After leaving Bar Pilar, I made the terrible decision to go to Yum’s (14th and T) last Friday night. I hadn’t eaten dinner and in a moment of weakness (insanity) decided to inflict some Kung Pao chicken on myself. I went into Yum’s and got in line behind a couple hipsters and a homeless-looking dude. The homeless-looking dude had placed three large, bloody styrofoam Safeway containers of some kind of raw meat on the counter. The old Chinese lady behind the counter was saying “Ten dolla! I give you ten dolla!” and the homeless dude said that was fine. The hipsters and I exchanged wide-eyed glances as it dawned on us that this dude was *selling* meat to the restaurant, meat that he had somehow obtained from Safeway… probably in an unsavory manner… anyway needless to say, I left Yum’s, never to return.
The above story was posted as a comment (#55) responding to people's thoughts on Chinese takeouts in DC on the blog, Prince of Petworth.

"Fiscal Conservative" vs. "Tax & Spend Liberal"

This is the main difference between Democrats and Republicans:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cowboy Hats, the Home Bar, Sailing in '08, Fatties in Houston, Dead Orchids, Secret Speakeasies

A few thoughts in no particular order:

1 - My grandfather hated when people wore hats indoors, but I never cared too much about it until I spent this past week in Houston, Texas where wannabe cowdoucheboys regularly wear their ten gallon hats while eating inside restaurants. Oddly, this pissed me off. As Melville said in Moby Dick, it required a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately and methodically knocking their hats off. Am I becoming a cranky old man?

2 - Having a home bar is so nice. Some friends visited last night and we went down to the bar to bend a few elbows on a Sunday night. Something about a bar and drinks makes the conversation flow like no living room ever could.

3 - I will have sailed more in 2008 than any other year. I'll do the calculations from my logbook in early December, but at this point it seems I've sailed once every 1.5 weeks since March 15, 2008. This makes me very happy.

4 - Houston, Texas is a fat city --- lots of fat people. However, that's a good thing when you want to use the hotel gym. It's completely empty!

5 - My beautiful orchid died. I went away for two weeks and all the flowers fell off and now the last green leaf has wilted and broken loose. Damn waste of $42. I give up.

6 - I'm helping out at a new secret speakeasy-style bar in DC called Hummingbird to Mars. I love the hard work and the cash at the end of the night. We only serve culinary and classic cocktails. Right now we're keeping the location secret. If you can find it, I'll see you there.

UPDATE: Metrocurean has the info on Hummingbird to Mars with a contact email to obtain reservations. Click here to find out more.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Just Some Economic Statistics

The proof that the USA's economy is doing pretty well is overwhelming and I never tire of repeating that here. The last page of The Economist always publishes a list of stats for various countries which is interesting. Here are some facts from this month's issue:

Countries whose latest unemployment rate is WORSE (higher) than ours:

China, Canada, Euro area, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Egypt, Israel, South Africa

Countries whose latest GDP growth is WORSE (lower) than ours:

Japan, Britain, Canada, Italy, Denmark, Hungary, Norway, Sweden

Countries whose latest inflation data is WORSE (higher) than ours:

China, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa

Full stats below:

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Enough with the anti-China nonsense.

People fret over China, don't they. I'm not talking about the Olympics specifically --- Tibet is a whole other issue --- but like getting upset because so many common products are made in China. Who cares. Let the po' folks make that stuff like we did 100 years ago. Trust me, sewing and making toys on assembly lines is not fun. Rich countries don't need to make that stuff anymore.

We're cutting edge in a whole massive list of things that China and the rest of the poor world will never have. Take, for example, the fact that we have not one, but THREE car companies. That's the envy of most countries in the world!

And take science. The USA is KICKING ASS according to a recent report by RAND. The report says we're still the world's number one science and technology engine. The US accounts for 40% of total world spending on R&D, and produces 63% of all scientific publications. We have 30 of the world's leading 40 universities, and we employ 70% of the world's living Nobel laureates. America produces 38% of patented new technologies in the OECD. No worries on the science front.

No need to go into detail about cutting edge technology products. Silicon Valley anyone? The iPhone? Wii? 10,000 other hot technology products? Mostly from the USA.

And come on, let the Chinese have cars. Been riding crappy bikes for 60 years! Leave that to the residents of Portand, Oregon and let the Chinamen drive Toyotas and Buicks, for God's sake. Why do people get upset when poor countries FINALLY start getting rich, jeez! Do you know what they went through?? Man, Cultural Revolution? Great Leap Forward? Those people have been eeking out a living farming rice under the yoke of crazy-ass brutal governments forever. How 'bout we let 'em get rich? That's what THEY want, no doubt.

And don't give me crap about toxins in toys and seafood. Sure, that's a problem that affected an extreme minority of our imports and it's been jumped all over and is largely fixed. It's a minor issue.

The root of this anti-China whining has got to be due to the fact that the USA is used to getting 110% and now it's got 109%. Just like a spoiled middle class child (like me ;-).

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This is what I think of (pre-bottled) Bacardi Mojitos

Although, a full six pack of them make a nice fizzing sound while in the sink ...

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