Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I am a Devil Bitch, Apparently

I've gotten a few nasty comments on this blog since I started it nearly six years ago but I just got hands down the best -- I mean, worst -- comment in the blog's history. Four years ago, I wrote a post about the racist Black Israelites who rant terrible words against whites, gays and Arabs on H Street NE. That post is still getting comments. And then yesterday, I had the cake-taker:
"Anonymous said...
Lonnie Bruner you are a devil bitch. And you are going to be put to death. And when the most high returns and we get to fucking you devils up. I"m going to come all the way to d.c. and rip your fucking head off you devil bitch. Now say something about that you cocksucker"
Holy crap, that is hi-larious. I'm a devil bitch! Scroll to the bottom of the comment thread to see my response. I think it's appropriate.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Perfectly Put

Man, Paul Krugman has such a talent for summing up perfectly the way things are:
"In our current political culture, the background noise is overwhelmingly one of conservative platitudes. People who have strong feelings about politics but are intellectually incurious tend to pick up those platitudes, and repeat them in the belief that this makes them sound smart. (Ezra Klein once described Dick Armey thus: “He’s like a stupid person’s idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like.”)"

Friday, February 26, 2010

"A rain of ruin from the air the likes of which has never been seen on this earth."

Yesterday, my wife and son went to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum where I saw for the first time, the Enola Gay -- the plane that dropped the nuclear bomb over Hiroshima.

This got me to reading up on the history of the war with Japan and the dropping of the only nuclear weapons in history. The Hiroshima bomb immediately killed 70,000 people -- just 70,000, poof!, gone in a minute. What is even more chilling is the statement released by Harry Truman the day after:
"If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the likes of which has never been seen on this earth."
Fucking hell, man. I had forgotten that basically, the United States had planned to drop nuclear bombs on Japanese cities continuously until they surrendered. If that meant killing every human in Japan, so be it. From wikipedia:
"The U.S. expected to have another atomic bomb ready for use in the third week of August, with three more in September and a further three in October."
Five days after the Nagasaki bombing, Emperor Hirohito announced:
"The enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization."
Then the war ended.

Damn, Democrats sure were hawks back then, eh? I support the nuclear bombing of Japan. I've read estimates that a ground war would have cost up to a million US casualties with MULTIPLE millions of Japanese lives lost. Incredible, that a US president made such a major decision. Words fail me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Fucking Hate Winter

The one thing that gets me through this part of the year is the knowledge that my annual sailing trip with old friends is coming up at the end of May. We've done it every year since 2003. And about this time of year, I begin trolling through old photo albums of past trips.

Here are some of my favorites.

Check out this series of photos from the 2006 trip -- one of the most nuts. We had chartered a fancy 35-foot yacht called The Segel out of Solomons Island and spent four days having an on-the-water bender. We nearly got in a fight over those arm-wrestling bouts.

Or how about this quick video of Jason and Colin at the helm on the Segel while Flight of the Valkyries blasts on the stereo:

And photos like this one make me really long for spring. It's a picture of me lighting up the oil lantern while a cool Spring rainstorm pounds the window outside. I love a (relatively) dry cabin with spirits and oil lanterns keeping it warm inside while waiting out a storm.

But for real nostalgia, I always head back to my old sailing trip blog for pictures and some short videos of our second trip back in 2004. You can see them here. These were the pictures taken on my first boat -- the Lonnie Bruner One, the boat I got for free and sailed until it nearly broke. I loved that boat. I had no idea what I was doing on the water and that made sailing the Bay seem like a real adventure. I'm always hoping to capture that wet-behind-the-ears feeling of possible danger while seeking calm ports, but I suppose the more sailing skill I gain, the more old-hat it seems and the feelings just evolve ... for the better, for the better, I admit.

But I still need the memories to get me through the bullshit winters. The only thing good I can say about winter is that at least it makes me appreciate the Chesapeake warm seasons.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Third World Equalizer and Old Naked Men

I just got back from working at a trade show exhibit booth in Bangalore India. I had one day to walk around the city by myself and see the spectacles which, in India, occur about every three seconds.

I was walking to the museum when I noticed an entourage of 30 men coming toward me. As they approached, I noticed that six of the oldest men -- 70 years plus, with white cropped hair -- were completely naked, just strolling through the mid-day traffic, uncircumcised penises a-bouncin', with the honking auto-rickshaws, crazy traffic, dust and heat swirling around them -- the pedestrians hardly gave them a second glance.

I found out later that the men were Jain monks, who, when taking the oath to be a Jain monk, give up all their material possessions, including clothes, which they don't wear for the rest of their lives.

This is such a typical India thing to witness -- a completely weird sensory overload and WTF moment. This brings me to a point I've been making about India lately: if you took all of the common things distinctive of poorer countries and represented each single one with an equalizer level, most Third World countries would have all the levels set generally in the middle range, like below. For example, take these EQ levels:

Now, represent each one of the levels with an item in this list of common things/occurrences common in the developing world:

- Amazing artwork
- Arranged marriages
- Astonishing, ancient architecture
- Backwards treatment of women
- Beautiful beaches
- Beer served with ice
- Burning trash
- Cars/trucks without mufflers
- Chaotic, sprawling, traffic-snarling construction projects
- Child beggars
- Coconuts
- Construction workers not wearing helmets
- Corrugated metal shacks
- Currency notes with too many zeros
- Diarrhea
- Dirty European/American/Australian backpackers, wearing some sort of local garb, who look down their noses at "tourists" (meaning non-full-time-tourists)
- Dust
- Engrish
- Exotic incredible plants
- Extreme division between rich and poor
- Fanta Orange Soda
- Flooding
- Gasoline sold in old Johnnie Walker bottles
- Guards toting automatic assault rifles
- Haggling
- Heavy rain that lasts 30 minutes
- Hellish, dangerous traffic
- Hilarious local TV shows
- Hotels that don't provide soap/towels/toilet paper
- Hotels with bed bugs
- Hotels with insufficient water pressure or temperature
- Hotels with roaches
- Hundreds of handicrafts shops, all selling generally the same stuff
- Incredible food with incredible sauces/spices
- Intense heat/sunshine/humidity
- Karaoke
- Lack of backseat (or sometimes frontseat) seatbelts
- Mangled-up mangy stray dogs
- Meat served with head on
- Motorbikes
- Motorcycle riders without helmets
- No local men who wear short pants
- Not being able to get change from small bills (ie, trying to pay for something with the equivalent of ten dollars (500-rupee bill), but the vendor cannot give you change for it)
- Open sewers
- Other weird, unexplainable random phenomenon, like the old naked Jain monks, or head-slapping haircut
- Overabundance of honking horns
- Overloaded freight trucks
- Packs of children playing in the street, unsupervised
- People loading large commercial goods onto passenger trains
- People pissing outdoors, openly, day or night
- People shitting outdoors, openly, day or night
- Person with fucked-up deformity or injury, begging
- Plastic bag trash, lying everywhere
- Prostitution
- Rickshaws
- Sales of single cigarettes
- Slums
- Smoking indoors
- Somewhat successful communist party
- Spectacular religious monuments
- Sprawling awesome open markets
- Squat toilets
- Stray chickens, or other livestock, in city and country
- Street food
- Strikingly beautiful women who're really poor
- Strong smell of urine
- Too many people riding on a two-wheeled vehicle
- Touts (hustler middlemen who take a cut of some service, like taxi or hotel fare)
- Two-wheeled vehicles transporting way too much cargo
- Unfinished buildings with rebar sticking out the top of the roof, but people are still living/working in the building
- Un-iced raw meat sitting in the mid-day sun, for sale
- Weird rot-gut local liquor
- Weird/unidentified smells on the street
- Wild religions with weird rules

For every poor country other than India, the levels on the Third World Equalizer would be somewhere in the middle range; for India, with only a few exceptions to the above list, just push all the equalizer levels to the very top.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

People Braver Than Me

For over a year, I've been working to register and sell my product in Iran. I got the license from the US Treasury Department and was working with the Iranian distributor, Ali, to get the sales going. We had even finalized the proforma invoice, etc, when I got this message from Ali's associate on January 3rd, 2010:

"Dear (Lonnie),
This is Muhamad, Ali's colleague and I am writing on his behalf as he asked me to do. Unfortunately Ali got shot in last week's clashes in Tehran and has severely injured from his eyes and chest. He asked me to write to you and tell you what has happened and ask you to wait for a few more days (I don't know how long it takes) until he gets better and leaves the hospital hopefully to his normal life. I appreciate your patience toward this matter.
Yours sincerely,
Then today I received this email from Ali who is now out of the hospital:
"Dear (Lonnie)
I would like to thank you for your concern for me and my family and I apologize if I made you worried for my health. You called me a brave person but I should say that I am not that brave you think, I just tried to do what any free and responsible person would do. I have been admitted to hospital since 27 Dec 2009 in order for doctors to
work on serious injuries on my body and help curing them as far as it is possible (like blindness on my both eyes). Unfortunately doctors have diagnosed my right eye with blindness and they hope I will have my eye sight back partially in my left eye step by step. I hope so. I said this not to worry you but for you to be familiar with my medical situation at this time and to know why I don’t follow up with our business. I am trying my best to gather my mind and soul in such a way that I can continue my personal life and career in the quickest time and our cooperation is my primary goal.
I hope I will send my first order to you the soonest time. I hope you understand the whole situation that I am involved with.
Best regards.

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