31 August 2011

Looking Ahead



Scientists say the asteroid Apophis could crash into the Earth in 2036. The impact wouldn’t end life as we know it (Apophis only weighs 46 million tons), but damage would be significant, particularly for those foolish enough to get between the asteroid and its chosen landing place.

Luckily for Earth, the Chinamen are sending a solar sail powered spacecraft to intercept the celestial boulder. Shengping Gong of Tsinghua University in Beijing explains: “When the asteroid gets within range, the spacecraft will spray it with melamine tainted milk, then bombard it with an assortment of lead contaminated gewgaws . If that fails to deter, the craft will crash into the asteroid, deflecting it.”*

And if that doesn’t work?

“If that doesn’t work, we will put pee-pee in your Coke.”

So there you have it.

*Mr. Gong’s lack of a stereotypical accent surprises me, too.

23 August 2011

Upper Volta



The Reconnecting With The People bus tour continues...


“Driver, why have we stopped?”


“I’m having trouble locating Upper Volta on the map.”


“Find Lower Volta, then head north.”


“It’s not called Upper Volta anymore. They renamed it Burkina Faso.”


“They did? Burkina Faso sounds like some sort of seaweed-tofu pie you might get at one of those horrible vegetarian restaurants. I narrowly escaped eating at a vegetarian restaurant once. It had a deceptive façade, so I walked right in. Waiting to be seated, though, I managed to sense something was wrong. Then it hit me - I’m in one of those horrible vegetarian restaurants, and I got out. I’ve had a lot of narrow escapes. Remind me to tell you about them some time.”


“I will.”


“Maybe we should forget about Upper Volta.”


“Burkina Faso.”


“Both of them.”


“As you wish.

Western Illinois

The Reconnecting With The People bus tour continues...


Crossing the border into Western Illinois you see smoke and fires in the distance. Further on you pass a tree festooned with the bodies of skinned animals. A group of ragged children, some wearing Halloween masks, stand in a field. Motionless, watching. They carry sticks and machetes.

Press on, driver. We shan’t be stopping in Western Illinois.

22 August 2011

Tour



To Decorah, Iowa,  the first stop on my Reconnecting With The People bus tour of northeastern Iowa, western Illinois, and Upper Volta. A crowd of townsfolk gathers in front of a picturesque barn to greet me; after brief introductory remarks I open the floor for questions.

C. VAN CARTER: The lady in back.

Q Hello, my name is Gladys Cook. You say you are reconnecting with the people…

CVC: Yes.

Q But I thought you hated The People?

CVC: Yes, I do, of course. I also hate traveling by bus. Let’s not get sidetracked with technicalities.

The man down front, with the parrot. Not him, the other one. Not the green parrot, the red parrot. Go ahead.

Q Hello. I’m Leonard Faldet. Like many who live in small towns in the American heartland, I enjoy orange telephones. Could you do more of that?

CVC: My staff and I have been working on plan, an orange telephone plan. We’ll be rolling it out as soon as we can.

Over here, the man over here with the vaguely homosexualist moustache. Yes, you.

Q Hi. My name is Barry Timp. Whatever happened to Florentino Floro Jr.?

CVC: No more questions.

14 August 2011

While I Was Out

Widespread riots in the UK, none in Whitby, though a hedge burned, after a garden fire got “out of hand”.

The police and government non-response to the mayhem reminded me of the case of Simon Ledger, who was arrested for singing 70’s novelty hit “Kung-Fu Fighting” at bar on the Isle of Wight because the lyrics offended a Chinaman and his mother (the technical term for this state of affairs is anarcho-tyranny).

In Jertih, Malaysia, two bomoh captured nine djinns, at the home of a young woman  who  “vanished on several occasions, only to be found in odd places like inside a cement mixer and a cemetery”:
Hundreds of residents flocked to the home…when they heard that the "culprits" had been captured and imprisoned in special containers. Curious onlookers jostled to take photos and video footage of the containers and the djinns said to be inside.The two bomoh, who refused to be identified, offered their services for free on Friday after reading about Siti Balqis' plight in newspapers. At 7.30pm, one of them started praying inside the family home while the other recited verses outside the front door. About 15 minutes later, the bomoh outside the house saw a figure dashing away. He gave chase and captured it. Subsequently, eight more djinns were captured one by one as they tried to flee. The bomoh said the sealed containers would be thrown into the sea so that the djinns would not bother anyone again.
 Also in Malaysia,  a new “Reuniting Families-Child Safety” program was launched.

Social workers attempt to reunite a lazy child with his neglectful mother.

Deranged New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof announced “My hard drive overflows with photos of children bleeding from shrapnel.” I’ve long been suspicious of Kristof. I find his reports on Third-World prostitution overly enthusiastic.

Professional blogger Matty Yglesias announced he was writing a book about "housing policy":
The basic idea is to make the case that pathological elements of our housing policy that increase the cost of living in desirable neighborhoods of key metropolitan areas are an underrated of America’s economic and social problems. Longtime readers will be familiar with the general shape of my thinking on this issue, but the ideas are going to be laid out in a more systematic way with a much more comprehensive look at how it all fits together and what levers might exist 
It goes on like that. Mr. Yglesias is a graduate of the Dalton School and Harvard University.

Uruguay strengthened ties with Iran. I thought part of the appeal of being Uruguay was that you didn’t have do things like form alliances with countries like Iran.

In Bihar, a forest dwelling Maoist was arrested with “arms and explosives”. I thought part of the appeal dwelling in the forest was that you could escape ideological entanglements.