In memoriam – Satire, 40,000 B.C.-2008 A.D.

Satire, the once-popular cultural icon held by many to have shaped the fortunes of princes, presidents and empires, died last week after a long battle with political correctness and reality television. Satire was 42,008 years old.

Born in a humble cave in the mountains of northern Italy, young Satire first made his mark around the campfires of his home region, winning acclaim as a keen observer of Cro Magnon life. One of his most popular early routines involved the character Hunter, a club-wielding alpha male who killed the most deer and coupled with the most women, but really just wanted to invent agriculture.

Fred Dryer played ‘Hunter’ in the cave paintings

Satire later made Hunter a regular character on Ice Age Live!, a long running late night sketch comedy revue. The most popular sketches were made into cave paintings, including ‘Hunter and his sidekick Gatherer call in sick and go wooly mammoth hunting instead’, ‘Hunter gets into a sticky situation when he loses Gatherer in the peat bog’, and ‘I now pronounce you Hunter and Gatherer.’

The discovery of fire led to the rise of slapstick comedy, and Satire went through a number of lean years. Then in 20 B.C. he engineered the first of many reinventions of himself. He changed his name to Reynard Obliquian Satyricon, and became the toast of Rome — Augustus called him “the sly fox” of political comedy. During this time, Satire’s greatest bit involved Roman leaders naming the months of the year after themselves. When the time came to decide who would be the shortest month, Februarius objected that “I just went swimming, I’m normally much longer than 28 days.”

Satire became a symbol of high culture for the next two millennia. Satire was everywhere, often in the company of a ‘rat pack’ of cultural indicators, including fermentation, batter-dipped fried food and Sammy Davis, Jr. Satire returned briefly to Rome, giving a benefit concert for the Galileo Defense Fund, joking that “the real problem is that the Pope thinks the universe revolves around him.”

Later, Satire formed a comedy troupe with Thomas Malthus, Jonathan Swift and Adam Smith, to great acclaim.

In recent years Satire showed no signs of slowing. Dave Barry, The Onion, The Simpsons and the Capitol Steps seemed to show Satire at the height of his game.

However, what was not widely known was that Satire had been ill for some time, suffering from Reaganoma since 1980. A few years later, MTV’s The Real World debuted, and appreciation for Satire rapidly went downhill. Earlier this year, an ABC-Ipsos poll found that few Americans had heard of Satire.

Then last Monday Satire was badly injured when the cover illustration of The New Yorker fell flat. Passersby and the media failed to notice Satire’s condition for nearly a day, before he was found and rushed to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital. He lingered for four days, passing away on Friday.

His fourth wife, Tracey Ullmann, was with him at the end. According to her, his last words were: “either that wallpaper goes, or tell them I said something.”

Foreign matter – the view from outside

Obama, an international leaderOk, before the mouth frothing begins I’m claiming special indemnity, as a foreigner. We don’t get any say in who the Prez will be, we aren’t even considered in the equation, yet we suffer the consequences of a bad choice.

So fair go – Bush has destabilized much of the world, either economically or through his gung ho military adventures. While the US seems to doubt Obama’s experience and ability to showcase the US around the world we are all heaving a sigh of relief that a reasonable leader is on the horizon.

I don’t know the figures here in Australia but the constant refrain is, “we like that black bloke with the big ears,” and they mean it. 84% of Germans and 82% of the French are saying they have more confidence in Obama than in McCain.

In Iraq civil and military leaders prefer Obama, even despite his pledge to pull out. In fact many think they can modify that position later as they believe Iraq is not ready to stand alone. Well perhaps there is room for the US to develop a less militaristic role in the country.

The truth is, we foreigners can see the potential for a vastly happier world under Obama. Sure we’ll need to retrain him at times, as you Americans will need to do as well. There is no way to pick one out of 300 million and end up with anything like perfection, but this guy is looking like a good start to us; and that matters more than ever to us on the outside.

Wow, this could be grisly

In honor of the Pope’s visit, Australians are planning to re-enact the last days of the life of Jesus Christ. 100 actors have been hired to perform, “the stations of the cross”. The ceremony will culminate with the removal of JC’s body from the cross at Sydney’s Baranagroo wharf. I know this sounds like a joke, at least I thought it did, but these folks are in earnest. They expect to create a “carnival atmosphere” (by nailing a guy to a cross?!), and generate $150 million in pilgrim dollars flowing into the local economy. Crikey!

Iraqi Contractors Ignored Electrical Hazards

Considering the track record of U.S. contractors in Iraq, it comes as no surprise that Iraq is simply not wired right. Power remains erratic in much of Iraq, resulting in spiderwebs of wires running from homes to generators all over the country.

Like these:
Poor electrical work by contractors in Iraq is also plaguing our troops. New York Times writer James Risen reports, “Shoddy electrical work by private contractors on United States military bases in Iraq is widespread and dangerous, causing more deaths and injuries from fires and shocks than the Pentagon has acknowledged, according to internal Army documents.” When challenged by it’s few qualified electricians that were concerned about shoddy work, contractors often told them “it’s a war zone.”

Even though village idiot Brian Kilmeade doesn’t want to hear it, according to Army Times, 11 service members and two U.S. civilians have been killed because Halliburton and KBR “improperly installed electrical wiring or failed to fix known electrical hazards”.

Raw Story has more.

There is a bright side to the electrical nightmare in Iraq. In certain areas they’re converting to solar with some measure of success.

iNews Friday, I heart B.A.R.T. edition – 7/18/2008

(or, “Weekend at Burnie’s” a lot of these headlines came out last weekend when I was in northern California

From the iNews 9000 Turbo wi-fi headline translator–

Headline: Bush to G8 – ‘Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter’
Translation: Fondly calls G8 his “favorite Battleship move”
Translation (Turbo mode): Parting advice from Bush – adopt the motto “I coulda had a G8”

Headline: McCain married to first wife when he applied for licence to marry second, report says
Translation: McCain for polygamy before he was against it
Translation (Turbo mode): Warren Jeffs calls McCain “gutless,” withdraws endorsement

Headline: Depositors descend on IndyMac
Translation: Run on building & loan – Inexperienced director claims Uncle Billy misplaced envelope containing day’s deposit

Headline: Government shuts down mortgage lender IndyMac
Translation: IndyMac to relocate to N. California college town, renamed “IndyMac-Davis”

Headline: Wildfires Take Over California
Translation: Oakland changes name to Smokeland

Headline: Tony Snow dies
Translation: Pundit, mouthpiece has dodged his last question

Headline: San Leandro preparing for talks with proposed marina developer Cal-Coast
Translation: Arid suburb positions for global ocean rise

Headline: Oakland man arrested in connection with Castro Valley grass fire
Translation: Dept. of Interior official “just following orders”

Headline: Mercy unveils new pharmacy technology at Pleasanton
Translation: New “Pleasanton Method” will produce drug called Oxymoron, dulls pain of working in suburban high-tech campus
Translation (Turbo mode): Mercy hopes to find cure for Oracle

Headline: Summit Focuses On Economic Future Of Calaveras County
Translation: Breakout session – ‘Can wine be made from frogs?’

Headline: Bush to lift executive ban on offshore drilling
Translation: Executives may now drill anyone they want, as long as it’s on a yacht

Headline: Big Sur highway reopens, people return to Paradise
Translation: Adam & Eve return from Adam & Steve wedding – voice disbelief over gas prices

Headline: Fed to Bail Out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac in Wake of IndyMac Collapse
Translation: McCain says Keating 5 experience makes him most qualified to handle banking crises

Headline: Bush pays tribute to former press secretary
Translation: “I take comfort in knowing he can’t rat me out to the Judiciary Committee,” Bush says

Headline: Pontiff’s plea to youth – Go Green
Translation: Vatican switches to soy-based candles
Translation (Turbo mode): Pope pledges to reduce incense emissions 50% by 2050

Headline: Pope Finds Path To Green – Preserving Forests
Translation: God appears to Smokey Bear in vision – agrees not to manifest as burning bush when fire danger is high

I heart BART 17 miles in 24 minutes

Castro Valley BART station BART likes bikes!

Follow the Money

Friends…have you ever said to yourself, “How can I make my savings work for me? Where can I find the best rates for my ready cash?” Are you looking for a secure place to stash your emergency money? Perhaps a high-yield account for your ‘go-to-hell’ fund? Then look no further than your nearest insolvent bank.

Banks on the edge offer great rates—often many points higher than their competitors because…well…they need to attract new deposits. They have no choice. And in case you’re worried a takeover by the Office of Thrift Supervision…don’t be. The Feds stepping in doesn’t mean you loose those great interest rates. Quite the contrary, the FDIC guarantees those inflated rates even after the bank goes tits up. Hell, at that point, Uncle Sam *IS* your banker, and he’s not bankrupt…I mean, not really bankrupt.

So assuming your not stupid enough to squirrel away more than $100,000, and you don’t need access to your money right now, scour the news for those little gems of financial distress. They could be your ticket to riches!

What would Jesus pack?

I found this article last week and was completely flabbergasted. Seems an Oklahoma Church youth pastor had the brilliant idea of giving away a semi-automatic rifle at a youth conference to up attendance. Um, aren’t these the same people whose 6th commandment reads, and I quote, “Thou shall not kill”?! If the only way to get the youth of North American (yeah, Canadians were coming down for the free guns), then I think you some huge problems. You give away a Wii people, not an assault weapon! What’s next? Bumper stickers reading, “What would Jesus pack?”

Spit In Congress’ Face

As accurate a quote about the impotence of our Congress as I have read:

Future presidents can learn a lot from all this — do exactly what the Bush Administration did! If the law holds you back, don’t first go to Congress and try to work something out. Secretly violate that law, and then when you get caught, staunchly demand that Congress change the law to your liking and then immunize any company that might have illegally cooperated with you. That’s the lesson. You spit in Congress’s face, and they’ll give you what you want.

Daniel Solove

I know how to win wars says McCain

“I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq…”

Now that is the kind of leadership we have all been waiting for – let’s just spread the half arsed effort even thinner, then piss off the many countries who have been carrying the Afghanistan action.

What does the Senator suggest?

• establish a “unity of command” that will oversee U.S. as well as NATO forces
• appoint a “Afghanistan czar” to report directly to the president on the progress of the war
• boost in non-military assistance (contract mercenaries?)

Yes McCain, you just do it again, repeat the proven disaster that is Iraq, the failed attempt to secure those oil fields. With luck the projected pipeline to the Indian Ocean will become another massively expensive disaster.

Remember this is the same McCain who can’t tell a Shia from a Sunni. He obviously has little regard for the realities of international relations or the dedicated efforts many other countries have been making in Afghanistan, carefully isolated from US forces.

The fact is, the US – people like McCain – are the only ones who call the Afghan action a war. For everyone else the effort is aimed at stabilizing the region to the degree that there is simply no place or local support for extremist groups.

It is not a pissing competition, not a childish game of winning and losing. Genghis Khan was the last to actually subdue the region, with every effort since ending in abject failure and greater empowerment of war lords.

I can’t see evidence of the “I can win wars” claim, just an obvious desire to make war. McCain and his ilk need a major mind shift, a rhetoric realignment if they expect to win anything outside their partisan supporters.

As an indication of why the rest of the world looks forward to an Obama administration:

“For eight years, we have paid the price for a foreign policy that lectures without listening, that divides us from one another — and from the world — instead of calling us to a common purpose — a politics that focuses on our tactics in fighting a war without end in Iraq instead of forging a new strategy to face down the true threats that we face”

Bush warns of Axis of Whining – Shores up McCain, Gramm

President Bush today named the members of an anti-prosperity group he says threatens the U.S. economy, dubbing them “the axis of whining.”

The axis of whining: Bush’s key points

Kay Marta. From all appearances an average homemaker from Woodinville, Washington. “Actually a retail disrupterer who has started giving her younger kids the hand me downs of her older childrens, instead of charging all-new wardrobes every year.”

Fred Chopin, abu Shoppin’ Fred. This guerrilla leader in the hills outside Upland, California, formerly spent over $3,000 per year on CDs and iTunes downloads. “He has betrayed the Recording Industry Association of America by reducing his spending and borrowing CDs from his friends.”

B.O. Bama. “A shadowy figure on the fringes of American life, with only 55-60% support among the American people. His manifesto would undercut the oil and defense foundations of our economy.”

Bush’s statement was clearly intended to support recent policy proposals by the campaign of his intended successor, apparent Republican nominee Sen. John Sidney McCain III. Last week McCain’s chief economic adviser, ex-senator and current Swiss banker Phil Gramm (R-UBS) stated that America is in an imaginary “mental recession” caused by “whiners.”

In this morning’s statement at the White House, Bush said he agreed with Gramm.

“I agree with Phil Gramm. In fact, the National Sales Agency [NSA] has identified those responsible,” Bush told journalists.

“Economic insurgents are cutting back on spending, and launching attacks of non-spending on big box stores, gas stations and the services sector. This threat to our consumer confidence is nothing less than an axis of whining,” the president said.

“Even worse, they are saving the economic stimulus checks I so generously sent them, instead of spending patriotically.”

In other news, the Washington, DC area was hit by rolling blackouts yesterday, the result of Vice President Dick Cheney’s annual check-up at the cardiologist. “We attached the jumper cables and hit the Go button on the EKG, and all of a sudden everything for a 20 block radius went dark,” explained Jennifer Frandle, 24, a medical technologist at George Washington University Hospital.