15 December 2014

Year in Books


A Handbook of Greek Mythology, by H.J. Rose.  A scholarly and wide ranging overview, concisely and skillfully written. Do professors like Rose still exist?

Kill or Get Killed, by Col. Rex Applegate.  The classic guide to "riot control techniques, manhandling, and close combat". Full of information I look forward to applying in 2015.

Lord Byron’s Foot, by George Green. His poems are funny, he’s the contemporary master of ekphrasis, his references range from Pindar to David Lee Roth.

The Counterfeiters, by Hugh Kenner. Themes include "[T]he Enlightenment; Buster Keaton (stoic comedian); bad poetry; Albrecht Durer; Joyce; Swift, Pope; closed systems, mathematical and mechanical; Charles Babbage and his Calculating Engines; the late history of Latin abstract nouns; Andy Warhol; Gödel’s Proof; horses; computer games; a clockwork duck that suffered from indigestion; and a man who wore a gas mask to ride his bicycle."

The History of Atlantis, by Lewis Spence. Originally published in 1923, it’s still the most intelligent and evenhanded history of the lost continent I've ever read.

Eric Ravilious - Imagined Realities. Catalogue to the 2003 Imperial War Museum exhibition of the artist’s work.

The Opposing Shore, by Julien Gracq . An aristocrat from the mythical country of Orsenna must choose between waiting for catastrophe or hastening its onset (unless it’s not really a choice, and the catastrophe already happened and is merely unrecognized).

22 November 2014

Morebola


Last week bandits in Guinea stole vials of Ebola infected blood. Were I not preoccupied with a multitude of existing charity efforts I would create and distribute an infographic illustrating items Guinean bandits should steal (cash, jewels, gold bars, etc.), and items Guinean bandits should not steal (old couches, gum wrappers, rocks, vials of Ebola infected blood, etc.).

19 November 2014

Clanging Chimes of Doom


To atone for telling Ebola jokes I've pledged to mail a copy of the "We Are The World, We Are Ebola" song to anyone who (1) writes me a letter requesting it; and (2) is currently infected with Ebola.

Update: The deal is off, it turns out "We Are The World, We Are Ebola" is unavailable on vinyl, and vinyl is my preferred format for charity singles I mail to diseased strangers.

11 November 2014

No Word Back Yet

The Ferguson verdict to be announced soon, and I have offered to go there and run over rioters with one of those armored vehicles police need now because society is collapsing. I mention this because I’m often accused of not being civic-minded.

Ebola Solutions II

Send Ebola patients to the aspiring Gulag of Winchester, Massachusetts:
Popping by the store for a pack of smokes may soon be a thing of the past in a central Massachusetts town, which is mulling an outright ban on the sale of all tobacco products within city limits. If approved, it would be the first such ban in the US.
Board of Health officials in Winchester, Massachusetts, a small town of 7,700, are set to hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed tobacco ban with townspeople on Wednesday, AP reports.
Town health agent Elizabeth Swedberg, a proponent of the ban, believes it is a reasonable response to a frustrating and persistent problem. 
It’s not as if they could refuse: unlike smoking, Ebola is one’s own private business. Why does a town of 7,700 people have its own "health agent"? If any Winchesterites are reading this, I urge you to throw eggs and small dead animals at Elizabeth Swedberg's house until she resigns in shame

15 October 2014

Ebola Solutions


Isolate Ebola cases on a tiki-themed party barge floating five to ten miles offshore; staff the party barge with RI-MANs, deliver supplies by drone. This will contain the spread of infection and provide a festive environment in which to die a horrible death. (If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned restricting travel from Africa it’s because I’m focused on realistic solutions.)

12 August 2014

Always Leave Them Laughing


When I heard Robin Williams committed suicide "by asphyxiation" I immediately wondered if he hanged himself with those rainbow suspenders. If not, what a missed opportunity.

29 July 2014

In the Blue Room


I’ve been trying to be concerned about this whole Ebola thing, unfortunately “Ebola” sounds like the name of an R&B band who plays Thursday nights at the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland (“Dance the night away to the smooth, soulful sounds of Ebola! Free parking, no cover.”), which incapacitates my admittedly underdeveloped concern faculties.

10 July 2014

Slow News Day


A reader named Garland forwards an incredible story from Uganda:
In a bizarre incident in Nebbi district, a policeman says he was attacked by an aggressive tortoise at his home. 
Charles Onegiu, who is attached to Ndew Police Post in Ndew sub-county, says he was in his grass-thatched hut sipping away on a cup of tea when the incident happened. The tortoise crept in and when Onegiu tried to scare it off, the hard-shelled creature appeared unfazed, and instead turned aggressive. The policeman, who had just returned home after a long field day training crime preventers, tried to wave off his unwanted visitor. 
“I tried to scare it but the tortoise became very aggressive. I took a stick to chase it but it instead became more violent making me to make alarm. “I immediately picked a plastic chair to hit it. It then got out of the hut and moved towards the latrine as people rushed to my rescue,” he told New Vision. 
The shaken Onegiu then instinctively reached for his firearm and shot the fleeing reptile dead. “When it came out, I reached for my gun and shot it dead. It was a very big white tortoise. As I talk now, I am still scared because it is the first time I have seen such an incident happen in my life or heard of one,” he said. “It was a wonderful morning for me after training the crime preventers for the sub-county on the basics of their jobs. Little did I know that a different chapter awaited me later at home,”. . .
He had called his boss, Onesmus Mwesigwa, who is the Nebbi district police commander (DPC), and told him about the incident. He then requested him to allow him leave his work station. “But he consoled me and advised me to keep on duty,” said Onegiu, adding, “My father also came to talk and consoled me about the incident, but I’m still scared.” 
Drawing reference from his experience, the policeman advised people to always be on the look-out for any kind of danger. 
After Onegiu had killed the tortoise, a group of people belonging to the Charismatic faith prayed for him, before burning the dead reptile to ashes. 
The only good thing about being threatened by a violent tortoise is if you don’t happen to have a firearm handy like Officer Onegiu did, you still have time to go out and buy one.

08 June 2014

Notice


I've added Pepper, Softbank’s new “humanoid” robot, to my list of enemies; partly because he’s a charlatan who pretends to understand human emotions, but mostly because of his hideous foot. In the event Pepper approaches me or intrudes on my personal space I will, in all likelihood, roundhouse kick him, and this notice releases me from any ensuing legal liability.

10 May 2014

#BringBackOurGrills

Two shotguns, a double stove, a dishwasher, a microwave, a refrigerator, a washer, dryer, a sofa, a chair, a coffee table, a space heater, hand tools, a popcorn maker,  three barbecue grills and a table were stolen between Feb. 1 and Friday from a residence on Alabama Avenue. . . 
The New Madrid County Sheriff's Department is on the look out for a stolen BBQ grill from Marston. The United Steelworkers Union Hall in Marston reported the stolen grill on Monday. The grill is mounted on a trailer which was chained and locked to one of the building's columns. Both locks were cut and the grill was pulled away. The grill was last seen around 8 p.m. on Friday, May 2. . . 
A Rogersville man returned home to find burglars had stolen a gas grill, stove, kerosene heater and refrigerator. .  
A stainless-steel Kenmore four-burner gas grill with two propane tanks valued at $560 was stolen between 10:30 p.m. April 25 and 7:15 a.m. April 26 from the back yard of a home in the 1100 block of South Kenilworth Avenue. . . 
Three sets of headlights were stolen and a grill from Land-Rovers parked at Hillendale on Lomeshaye Industrial Estate. Police believe there were three offenders, who climbed over a fence to get in. . .

04 May 2014

Capacity

     After dinner Barry would read his poems. Usually, he said, 'I'm not going to be an egotist tonight. I'm not going to read my poems.' And usually Désirée would cry, 'Oh do, Barry, do.' Always, eventually, he did. 'Marvellous,' Désirée would comment, 'wonderful.' By the third night of her visits, the farcical aspect of it all would lose its fascination for Sibyl, and boredom would fill her near to bursting point, like gas in a balloon.  To relive the strain, she would sigh deeply from time to time. Barry was too engrossed in his own voice to notice this, but Désirée was watching. At first Sibyl worded her comments tactfully. 'I think you should devote more of your time to your verses,' she said. And, since he looked puzzled, added 'You owe it to poetry if you write it.'
     'Nonsense,' said Désirée, 'he often writes a marvelous sonnet before shaving in the morning.'
     'Sibyl may be right,' said Barry. 'I owe poetry all the time I can give.'
     'Are you tired, Sibyl?' said Désirée. 'Why are you sighing like that; are you all right?'
     Later, Sybil gave up the struggle and wearily said, 'Very good' or 'Nice rhythm' after each poem. And even the guilt of condoning Désirée's 'marvelous . . . Wonderful' was less than the guilt of her isolated mind. She did not know then that the price of allowing false opinions was the gradual loss of one's capacity for forming true ones. 
- Muriel Spark, “Bang-Bang You’re Dead”.

29 April 2014

Don’t Want to Find Out


The Khaleej Times reports the drummer of the Scorpions is being held captive in Dubai. If this were the 80’s I would scour the dive bars, pool halls, and fast food restaurant parking lots to assemble a crack team of metalheads and hard rockers, and we would go give the Mussulmen what for. But this is the 21st Century. I don’t even know where those guys are these days. Some got fat, some are dead, some drink white wine and listen to Mumford & Sons. What the rest are doing, I don’t want to find out.

20 April 2014

Sad News From All Over

Sad news from Nigeria, the Tide reports reggae artists there are “now in limbo”, thanks to the surging popularity of other musical forms, many of which are even worse than reggae.  Also sad is how the Tide, once a great newspaper with a commitment to truth, has gotten rid of all of its interesting columnists and is now little more than an African version of Vox media, minus Vox’s smug pretensions and tedious liberal bias.

Sad news from Driffield: the Driffield bus depot closes May 31st, annihilating my plans to finally take that bus trip to Driffield. I think there is a carpe diem type  lesson here, either that or try harder to come up with holiday ideas that aren't total shit.

Sad news from Harare, where tobacco farmer Brighton Magutakuona had “his privates burnt” by a goblin. The saddest part is the goblin was his own, one he inherited from his grandparents.

Hurricane Carter Dead

A violent career criminal and overrated boxer, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (no relation) was beloved by sleazy journalists, Hollywood hacks, mush-brained liberal judges and croaky folk singers because he murdered three white people.

18 April 2014

García Márquez Dead

His books, a gooey mix of ghosts, rotten bananas, magic, bean farts and jungle sweat, are beloved by prize committees, middlebrow politicians, left-wing psueds and college girls who wear army boots.

03 March 2014

Potato Futures


I was drinking scotch (Dewar's, rocks) and reading Fruit-Inform (the leading information source on the fruits and vegetable markets of Ukraine, Russia and other Eastern European countries), like I do most afternoons when I wake up, and I noticed the big Potatoes & Vegetables of Ukraine 2014 Conference was scheduled to be held in Kiev this Thursday. I’m no conspiracist, but isn't it curious Ukraine explodes in unrest and the Russians move into Crimea just before this crucial conference?

“I too find it curious,” observed Across Difficult Country's foreign correspondent Ismail Mat Taib. “If I were not so busy patrolling this damned beach on a motorcycle I would go and do some reporting from there. Which reminds me, did I ever tell you about the time a barge that I thought was full of potatoes had —"

Yes, yes you did.

16 February 2014

Tempus Fugit

Exciting developments in Malaysia, where Across Difficult Country foreign correspondent Ismail Mat Taib has once again witnessed a barge wash up on the beach. The Daily Light reports:
A resident of Mempisang Beach, Kampung Jawa, was surprised to see an object lying just off the coast that he initially believed was float logs, but apparently a barge overturned. 
Local resident Ismail Mat Taib, 66, said he believed the barge is upside down due to the relatively strong waves.
"Three days ago I was patrolling the beach on a motorcycle around 4 pm and I saw a large object in the sea.
"At first I thought it was drift logs, but when viewed correctly, apparently it is a barge," he told the Daily Light. 
According to him, to this day no party has come forward to claim ownership of the barge. 
"Some villagers went to look, they look from a distance, to see if there were victims or goods, but they did not find anything," he said. 
Meanwhile, Ismail said, an eerily similar incident occurred five years ago* when he observed two barges materialize in the sea off the coast then wash ashore.
*Actually, it was seven years ago.

13 February 2014

The Spirit of Neologism

Each new accession of an “issue” leads to the demand that we demonstrate our “commitment.” Not coincidentally, the desired commitment invariably involves swelling the bureaucratic class and its power over our lives. 
The spirit of neologism is perhaps best illustrated when it fastens on a word in common use. Note the recent career of the word “diversity.” This term denotes a key conservative theme. As is pointed out by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn in writings including his classic Leftism (1974), a devotion to diversity arguably distinguishes the Right from the Left. The elements of this devotion are many; consider, for example, respect for regional traditions, the insistence that human beings are not interchangeable, the tendency to think in terms of distinct persons rather than large classes of people, support for various institutions that shield individuals from the State, as well as the related belief in decentralization. We are now expected to restrict the term to one explicit, technical meaning, one that refers to a specific demographic distribution. Not surprisingly, the new usage is explained and enforced by a phalanx of experts. Note also that, in a characteristic tour de force, the term is now compatible, not only with intellectual conformism, but also with the pursuit of economic and political integration on a global scale. 
- Rein Staal, "On Being Reactionary." Modern Age, March 1996.

02 February 2014

Sports & Etertainment Notes


In Women's Team Handball, Vardar SCBT overcame a "problematic start" to defeat Thüringer.

Rearranging the letters of PHILLIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN gives you HEROIN PAYS OFF, HIM LUMP.

From China comes word of a Chinaman who built some heavy (400kg) iron shoes he walks all over in (up to 15 meters each day). His competitors at heavy shoes include Zhang Zhenghui, who wears gold-painted shoes weighing 200kg, and a runner named  Liu Mei, who ties sandbags to his feet.

Next Saturday Dom and Russ from Chance will be rocking the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland.

04 January 2014

You Should Have Had Plums Tonight

A Florida man began the new year by attacking his girlfriend with a banana. Just think, in the near future, after bananas have been wiped out by a putrefying fungus, this sort of assault will be carried out with a mango, or an apple, or a pomegranate, or in tragic circumstances, a potato.