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Archive for August, 2007

Sucker Punched In The Mind

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of your brain? You know probably know the sensation but just didn’t have a name for it. It’s what happens when someone says something so stupid, generic with total deadpan conviction, that your brain just chokes trying to process what they just said. It’s like taking a shot in the solar plexus, except in your head. I’ve always thought that one of the reasons that stupid people think that they are smart is because this phenomenon allows them to think that they have just won a rational debate.

“You can’t say anything because you know I’m right.” Meanwhile your brain is bubbling over like a robot in a 50’s sci-fi program confronted with a logic puzzle.

One day while I was still I the Army, I was sent out on Rigger Detail. Basically my job was to carry stuff for the parachute riggers, and clean up after them. It was standard detail fair; long, boring, and for the most part not particularly noteworthy.

The interesting part was the discussion we had during my first week. Several of the riggers were discussing how America got its name.

“Amerigo Vespucci”, I piped up.

“What are you talking about?”, asked the rigger SGT.

“The continent was named after Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer.”

“Noooooo, the Italian Explorer was Columbus”, in that “I’ll speak slowly because you’re stupid” tone of voice.

“SGT there was more than one Italian Explorer. It was named after Amerigo.”

“You’re just making things up because you don’t know. America got its name from the people that were here before the Europeans.”

At this point I am trying to figure out why he thinks that, and am racking my brain trying to come up with any tribe that sounds even close to the word America.

“What tribe are you talking about Sergeant?”

“I’m talking about the Native Americans.”
Pow! Right in the brainpan.
“You can’t say anything because you know I’m right.”

And of course, the other riggers believed that his version made more sense than mine.

Warning Signs

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

There are many dangerous things in the world.  And occasionally you might find yourself in a position to alert someone else to a danger that they might not be aware of.   This usually happens because you have more specific experience or knowledge than the warnee, medicine but sometimes it’s just because they are drunk, commissioned, or in some other way possessing an impaired mental ability.

But one thing I have noticed, fairly consistently, is that attempts to warn people frequently backfire.

For instance, back when I was in the Army, a well intentioned NCO advised us to be careful with MRE heating pads.  It turns out that the gas they give off when used is flammable, and under the right circumstances can actually be explosive.

He didn’t add the phrase “and so using it to try to blow stuff up would be completely awesome!” but we felt it was implied, and someone lost their eyebrows.

Once we were shown a list of businesses that all soldiers were forbidden to visit.  The Army might as well have titled the document “All the good stuff is here.  Have fun boys!”

Like many people who grew up in a colder area, I was warned not to lick lamp posts, because my tongue would get stuck.

Now I understand that all children are generally pretty stupid, and prone to doing all manner of ridiculous things.  And I also get that I was probably not an exception to this statement.

But I’m pretty sure that it never once occurred to me to try licking a lamp post, cold weather or otherwise.  Until the day my parents warned me about it.  That day I started to wonder.

Why do they think I want to lick the lamp post?  Do people like licking the lamp post?  Why do people like licking the lamp post?  Is the lamp post yummy?  Is this one of those things that I’m really supposed to worry about, like strangers or getting lost at the mall?  Or is this one of those things your parents are just screwing with you about, like the Tooth Fairy or You Were Adopted.

Fortunately for me another little boy at school had been wondering the same thing.  So I got to learn two important lessons that day.  The first was “Sometimes crazy things are actually true” and the second was “Always get the dumb guy to go first”.

Both Sides

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Like most, Americans you may have noticed that there is a war going on at the moment.

And like many Americans, myself included, you probably have an opinion about it.

The net is already full of blogs which are full of posts detailing the war and every single perceived good and bad thing about it. I am not going to going to talk about my opinion of the war. I am going to address the opinions themselves, and how we react to them.

Almost every person I have ever spoken to on this issue seems to fall into one of two categories.

Type A thinks the war was the greatest idea since pants, it’s going very well, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot.

Type B thinks the war was worst thing since boy-bands, it’s going horribly, and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot.

Most people try to adopt a black and white, good/bad view of it. I think things are never that simple. And it’s worthwhile to take the effort to try to understand, and perhaps even respect, the opposing view.

For example, I recently heard someone bring up the old chestnut “No Blood for Oil”. And I can understand that sentiment. Human life is precious, and as a society we have a responsibility to protect the lives of our citizens. And material wealth for already rich people probably shouldn’t take priority over that. I can respect that opinion.

And on the flipside, someone I work with responded to the first statement with, “Well wait, how much oil are we talking about?” Our country’s economic function does depend on a regular supply of oil. Safeguarding enough oil for our country to avoid economic collapse is the sort of thing our military can be used for. I can respect that opinion too.

I respect the opinion that some people think we have a valid interest in the region. I respect the opinion of those that think our government misrepresented the case for military intervention. I took the time to listen to the arguments on both sides. And it is possible to be a reasonable intelligent human being and hold those opinions.

I’m not saying I agree with one over the other, only saying that I understand and respect both sides of the debate. And I think a lot of us would be a lot better off if more people tried to do this.

That said there is one set of opinions I have trouble respecting.

I have heard some people express the opinion that the war in Iraq is directly linked to the survival of our country. I’ve seen message boards and blogs full of people claiming that if we don’t win over there, then the terrorists will be in America destroying all that we hold dear. That our soldiers must remain in the Middle East until democracy takes root, or it will go very badly for us.

To those people I say the following:

Enlist, you god damned coward.

Soldiers are spending longer and longer on tours overseas. The military is having trouble keeping up recruitment. These are not opinions. These are verifiable facts.

You can’t say, “This is worth other people giving up their lives for me” and remain worthy of respect. Certain opinions, once held, demand action. Failure to do so renders you a pitiful thing, beneath contempt.

Soldiers, (and of course this includes Sailors, Marines, Airmen, everyone) are of course exempt. By going overseas they have put their body where there mouth is, and can pretty much hold any opinion they want.

But if you think that this war is essential to our survival, and all you can do is talk, and maybe buy a “Support our troops” magnet? Well then all you’re doing is telling the world what color stripe runs down your back.

Edit for response:

I am not saying that you cannot support the war, or the soldiers that fight it. I am merely saying that if you take the very specific, “This war is essential to the survival of our country” stance, well that stance is incompatible with inaction. It doesn’t make your opinion invalid. It just makes you a contemptible human being.

You don’t need to be a police officer to have an opinion on crime. But if you publicly state that you think people should do more to safeguard their own communities, then you witness a crime happen, in my humble opinion, you’d better do something more substantial than wonder “Hmmmm….what’s for dinner tonight?”. Call the cops, get help, intervene, whatever. Just do something.

Yes thousands do more than just make hollow patriotic gestures. But most people don’t. Guess which ones I’m talking about? And I find it hilarious that someone tried to turn my “chicken hawk” argument into a “Guess you don’t believe in supporting the troops argument”.

For Stashiu3:

“Trying to deny them support from the vast majority of people who are not on active-duty is just as bad as trying to silence people who believe we shouldn’t be there.”

This is the line that I interpreted as “You are not supporting the soldiers”.  Which is why I thought your comment was funny.  If that is not what you meant by it, I truly am sorry for treating it that way.

And I think you are slightly misinterpreting my stance.  I have no problem with pro-war.  I have a problem with a very specific pro-war argument, coupled with a lack of action.

Did I oversimplify it?  You betcha.  Are things that easily black and white?  Of course not.  Are there ways to serve besides enlisting? Sure.

You keep overlooking the fact that I am not talking about the thousands of people who find a way to contribute.  I am talking about the thousand upon thousands more who do not, and will not do a thing, while simultaneously claiming that this is the single most important venture that our nation is involved in.

I would never mistake wit for wisdom, please don’t mistake age for it either.

And I do not have the emotional maturity of an adolescent.

I don’t! I don’t! I don’t!

I’m Not Actually Sorry

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

So, anesthetist a few days ago I was on the radio. If anyone was wondering how being interviewed on the radio goes I will now break it down for you. First, online a producer gets a hold of you and sets up an appointment. In this case, no rx it involves me getting up really early. No problem, I’ll get up early for something like this.

First, I spent the night before, freaking out. I am not used to being on the air or in front of people, and I am not entirely comfortable with it. I more or less spent the previous evening going, “Omigod I’m gonna be on a nationally syndicated radio program! What was I thinking? What if I say something he disagrees with and we get into an argument? I have to get up in four hours to do this, why can’t I fall asleep? AAAAAUUUUUUGGHHH!”

I was told the interview would take 10 to 15 minutes. I had assumed that this meant that I would be speaking to Mancow for fifteen minutes. Not so, evidently. Real, actual celebrities get 10-15 minutes on the air.

I am not a real, actual celebrity. I am a C-List internet celebrity. It’s kind of like being famous, but without the recognition, respect, money or groupies.

So the 10-15 minutes actually turned out to be mostly being on hold. Eventually I was introduced and Mancow suggested that I needed a more hardcore sounding Army nickname. Like “Thug Nuts”.

“Well as soon as I become a 14-year-old Insane Clown Posse fanboy, and coincidentally start accepting nickname advice from a dude called “Mancow”, I’ll get right on that”, is what I thought but did not say. (Since leaving the Army, I have acquired the “Don’t say every thought that comes into your head” skill.)

Seriously….Mancow? It sounds like a pudgy “jail –girlfriend” in a prison movie. The kind that gets traded for half a menthol instead of a whole carton of smokes.

Not that Mancow has any pressing reason to take nickname advice from a dude called “Skippy”. I’m just saying…

What I actually said was, “(Fake laugh) I’ll try but I don’t think people will start calling me that.”

And then we went to commercial.

After the commercial break he asked me about my list. I told him what it was, and told him number 84. (Don’t use military vehicles to squish things.) I explained the story quickly. He mentioned that his favorite was number 29 (The Irish MP’s one). And I got to tell a very quick version of that story. (I did not get to do it justice).

He seemed to think that the Army doesn’t like my site and wanted it shut down. I told him that 99% of the email and comments I get are positive. He pretty much lost interest in me at this point, total time on air: maybe two minutes.

I have no idea if that’s considered a good amount of time, or practically nothing, as far as radio interviews go.

On an interesting note a few days before the interview when it was being set up, his producer mentioned that the military was trying to use my name for recruitment.

She went on to say that if someone mistyped the name of my site, they’d get a recruitment site. Well I tried it out. Turns out it’s just a domain squatter.

This actually excited me more than the radio show did. Someone out there thinks my site is significant enough to try to siphon money off of it.

In the C-List Internet Celebrity world, domain squatters are the equivalent of paparazzi. Which would makes me the internet comedy equivalent of Paris Hilton. This is where this analogy goes horribly wrong and must be stopped. Preferably before you get a mental picture of me stepping out of a limo without underwear.

Too late, and I’m very sorry for that.


Friday, August 10th, 2007

I’ve gotten a lot of requests for them and they are coming soon. Its been really busy around here but give me a bit and I should have something available in a week or two. Including a squid pie shirt with art by Michael Derr, who posted the squid pie art in the comment section.

Skippy on the Radio

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Tomorrow, case 8/9/07 (Thursday) at 6:30 a.m. CST I will be on Mancow.

I hate those f-verbing yellow magnets

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

A few years ago, doctor while I going to college I had an interesting experience at a gas station. While I’m standing there filling up my tank, viagra 100mg a middle aged lady and her friend used the pump opposite mine.

One of them glanced at my car, medicine and then circled it. She tsked, and commented to her friend “It looks like someone doesn’t support our troops.” She had that annoying tone that is only used when you are pretending to talk to one person, but you’re really saying to some other person who’s within earshot.

“Well I guess somebody doesn’t love their country, if they don’t support the troops.”

“Ma’am, are you talking about me?” I’m from the south. We are polite to middle-aged ladies no matter how much they inspire us not to.

“Of course we’re talking about you!”

I leaned over and taped a sticker on my windshield. I had purchased this car while I was still enlisted, and it still had a somewhat faded Ft Bragg parking sticker on it.

“Ma’am until a few years ago I was one of the troops.”

Se sneered at me. “Well you don’t have one of the yellow magnets. They only cost a dollar.”

“So you have one?”

“I have three” she said smugly.

“But what have you done to support our troops?” I asked.

“What do you mean? I got three of the magnets.”

“This year I sent magazines, books, and DVD’s to the troops. What have you done?”

She looked confused and slightly embarrassed “Done? I have three magnets. I support the troops…”

“You’re only supporting magnet salesmen ma’am. Have a nice day.” And then I got back into my car and left her to her empty fake patriotism.

To sum up. If you want to support our troops, do something. There are places that will tell you how to send a care package or a letter to any soldier. If that’s too much effort, check out the USO, they take donations and put the package together for you. No matter how you feel about the war, just remember the people fighting in it volunteered to die protecting you. Get off your butt and do something nice for them.

While you at it, get write your Senators, and Representatives, and ask them how many care packages they’ve sent.

Because if you don’t then the terrorists and magnet moguls have already won.

SGT Generic Part Two

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Before I get into the second part there is a pertinent fact that bears mentioning. SGT Generic is a black woman.

Because I’m white, ed I am now obligated to spend a paragraph or so defending myself.

I don’t hate black people; I don’t think all black people are stupid. I have black friends, and coworkers. I understand that as someone who has light colored skin it is frowned upon for me to ever mention someone who is darker than me and any form of negative description. I am deeply and personally sorry for every single bad thing to ever happen to any person who happened to have more melanin than me.

Have I spent enough time on this to avoid racist accusations in the comments section? Probably not, but let’s move on anyways.

About a week after Part One happened we saw another story on CNN, this time about gay marriage.

She felt that it was sad and wrong that gay people want to get married. This in and of itself wouldn’t be noteworthy. Many people these days have the same opinion as she does. The noteworthy part is coming.

Being the way that I am, instead of just ignoring her comments, I asked if she really felt okay with the government telling people who they can or can’t marry. I pointed out that in our parent’s generation interracial marriage was illegal, and people gave pretty much the same reasons to justify that piece of discrimination as they give nowadays to prevent gay marriage.

She conceded that taking away people rights seemed wrong, but that she still thought gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

“Marriage is too special” she said. “They should make some other kind of thing that works like marriage for gay people.”

“So they should be treated equally, just kept apart?”


“So would you say ‘Separate But Equal’ is the policy our country should adopt?”

“Yeah ‘Separate But Equal’ is exactly how our country should opera—“

“NO!” Bellowed a very large, ticked off black Staff Sergeant who had been listening to our conversation.

YOU!” He said pointing at me, “You should be very ashamed of yourself. SGT Generic, please step outside.” And off they went, presumably for a crash course in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.