On Being A Small Blue Dot In A Dark Red, Theocratic State

Just for fun, since I am doing some long-overdue digital housekeeping, here’s an article from 2007. This is, you’ll note, before Barack Obama was elected President. You may want to keep that part in mind when you read (that, and this is dated; I don’t get newspapers dumped on my lawn anymore–if you stop paying them, they do eventually cut it out–and those unwanted Pennysaver rags can’t be stopped by anything short of a very, VERY high wall).

HERE’S THE OLD STUFF:

I’ve also been catching up on the massive pile of newspapers–the newspapers I didn’t want and which rarely arrive (or which get swiped before I go fetch them from the puddles in the driveway, where they always end up)–and which are 90% adverts. Somehow a WTOC “news” paper ended up in the reading spot instead of being pitched, unread, into a bin. Each time I have attempted to read it, it makes me develop frown wrinkles.

WTOC 11 is one of a handful of local “news” channels, and, I’m 99% sure, they are responsible for the advert I groused about previously, which involved a rich white guy standing behind a White Baby Jesus nativity scene and reading ponderously from The Bible, which started airing in October, thus earning two frownie marks at once. October is for Hallowe’en (and my birthday), but not for pushing Christmas down my throat before I’m out of overpriced, undersized Tootsie Pops. Also, not everyone down here is Christian, though it sometimes sure seems like it. Maybe I’m grumpy, but it seems foolish for a supposedly unbiased news channel to air religious propaganda. Since they are FOX NEWS-lite, though, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

To my surprise and delight, though I couldn’t find the original article online (their website is terrible), I did find a comment from someone at Fort Stewart (military, of course) who grumped about another article Bill Cathcart (the article writer, and The Highest Muckity Muck at the station) penned wherein Cathcart misinterpreted Dennis Kucinich’s recent nay vote (unrelated to the article I’m grumping about, but intended to spark discussion about the “real” reasons behind the Iraq war and 9/11 and so on, from what I gathered) and wound up talking about Christianity for the last 2/3 or the article, which had fuck all to do with anything. The military guy patiently posted the more accurate details about the Kucinich vote and then complained that the pro-GOP and pro-Jesus stuff was really unnecessary. Word. And all the more “word” because, lo and behold, it proves that at least one of the many military d00dz in Jesusland is capable of having a lick of sense, and thinking for himself. (Imagine how popular he must be among his peers. Poor guy.)

Enjoy the article, which I have transcribed for your pleasure, and which would otherwise be lost to the mists of time (even the Wayback Machine failed me):

“Like the continual drip of a rusted faucet, ridiculous actions never cease. Two more servings of compost scooped from the heap. Several high school students in ever-progressive Boulder, Colorado, walked out of their classrooms to protest the daily recitation of the Pledge Of Allegiance, which includes, of course, our much-cherished tribute to God’s guidance. These left-ward youngsters chose to recite, instead, their own secular version, claiming that ours violates the Constitution’s “separation” clause, which, as you well know, does not exist.”

ZOMG! Two teenagers not wanting to pray at school! The horror! How “ridiculous”! What “compost”!

Shall we take bets on where Cathcart stands on the Creationism v. Evolution battlelines? No?

And when did “progressive” become a BAD thing? Honestly?

“Look, you want to write your own wedding vows, have at it. But you do not edit the American citizen’s pledge of loyalty to suit your own Mother Earth needs. Chalk up another one to social studies replacing history classes, and our trendy micro-focus on self. Forget our country; it’s me that counts. And, oh, by the way, God, thanks for the earth and stuff, but we’ve got it handled, so we’re cutting you loose.” 

First, let us applaud Cathcart’s generous offer to allow people to write their own vows without his disapproval. What a great guy!

Whereas I do agree that “micro-focus on self” is a problem a lot of kids seem to be afflicted with these days, and it is something I might fuss about in the future, I disagree that it runs hand in hand with Gaea worship (or that this might be wrong, as religion is a personal thing, thanks). I also resent the constant reminder, by fundies, that they take the whole Genesis thing really, really literally.

“Colorado requires its schools to read the Pledge daily over the PA. Students may either recite or stand quietly. So, with their Constitutional objection bogus, kids opting out, or even refusing to simply listen to our Pledge, must either be confused about where they are, or prefer to commit their allegiance to some other nation or galaxy. Ah, the sweet arrogance of youth.”

You can bet that if the school recited a “Gaea pledge” every morning that Cathcart would be railing against this just as strenuously as he is railing against the students who are trying to find a middle ground where they can still pledge allegiance to America without bringing someone else’s religious beliefs into it. Because they don’t want to pledge allegiance to someone else’s God, they are automatically bad kids. I don’t agree.

Some “other nation or galaxy”? What the eff?

“And speaking of professing allegiance to a nation other than America, according to a just-released Opinion Dynamics voter poll, 5% of Republicans, 7% of Independents and 19% of Democrats feel that the world would be better off if the United States lost the war in Iraq! Incredible and despicable. Talk about being self-possessed, or more likely, just plain possessed. While they have a right to that opinion, they should be absolutely ashamed to have it, given that this foolishness is just all about punishing President Bush. Our country and its future be damned.”

Note the TINY percentage of people who disagree with Cathcart’s point of view, here, and it is STILL pissing him off, though he graciously allows that they have the right to disagree. Even so, he just knows that they feel this way because they are out to punish Bush. There could be no other reason for their opinion. Furthermore, since they are so wrong-headed, they should be ashamed! SHAME on them for holding a different opinion, because clearly that also means they don’t give a crap about Amurika and where it is going.

Or, conversely, maybe they care A LOT, and didn’t like seeing tens of thousands of people dying for a trumped-up war that has produced no WMDs and where the trigger point was ostensibly 9-11, something NO Iraqis have been tied to, ever. (But the Saudis are our political buddies, you know.)

He can NOT stand it that even a small handful of people, of all political persuasions, disagree with him (and Bush). How can they not see the WISDOM and RIGHTNESS of the war? How can they say it would be okay to LOSE? How HORRIBLE and un-American!

GAH! People like this drive me crazy.

“By the way, those ex-patriots might want to remember that wish when the center of their city is in ruins, since a loss in Iraq clearly beckons further attacks here.”

Oh, CLEARLY. Because Iraqis flew planes into buildings, you know. And killing as many of them you can get your hands on will stop the random handful of nutburgers who embarrass their less-crazed neighbors by kamikazi-ing into stuff for the promise of seventy virgins and a mess of figs and honey in the afterlife.

Maybe losing the war would be unpleasant, but since we foolishly got into that mess on false pretenses in the first place, I don’t know that sticking it out is going to magically make things all better.

“Beyond un-American and pro-terrorist, defeat-at-any-price is imbecilic. Our loss there would be catastrophic, for Iraq, for the Middle East, for Europe, for the United States. To actually embrace defeat, people have to be out of their minds. Oh, wait, that’s it. They are! And they don’t belong in this country.”

ARGH ARGH ARGH!

Translation: “You disagree with me? You are crazy, and you need to leave the country.” Sir, if you will pay for my relocation, I will gladly take you up on your kind non-offer.

Now, let’s discuss.

Separation of church and state is a political and legal idea usually identified with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

The phrase building a wall of separation between church and state was written by Thomas Jeffersonin a January 1, 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. (Wikipedia)

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” (Thomas Jefferson)

… no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. (James Madison)

What Cathcart is saying (which is actually true) is that the exact phrase “separation of church and state” itself does not appear in the Constitution, but, on the other hand, he’s a bit wrong-headed as well, as it has been quoted in several opinions handed down by the United States Supreme Court.

The phrase “separation of church and state” became a definitive part of Establishment Clause jurisprudence in Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947), a case which dealt with a state law that allowed the use of government funds for transportation to religious schools.

While the ruling upheld that the state law (allowing federal funding of religious schools) as constitutional, Everson was also the first case to hold the Establishment Clause applicable to the state legislatures as well as Congress, based upon the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In 1962, the Supreme Court extended this analysis to the issue of prayer and religious readings in public schools. In Engel v. Vitale 370 U.S. 421 (1962), the Court determined it unconstitutional by a vote of 6-1 for state officials to compose an official school prayer and require its recitation in public schools, even when it is non-denominational and students may excuse themselves from participation.

As such, any teacher, faculty, or student can pray in school, in accordance with their own religion. However, they may not lead such prayers in class, or in other “official” school settings such as assemblies or programs, including even “non-sectarian” teacher-led prayers. […]

The court noted that it “is a matter of history that this very practice of establishing governmentally composed prayers for religious services was one of the reasons which caused many of our early colonists to leave England and seek religious freedom in America.”

In short, Cathcart is both right, in that the exact phrase does not appear in the particular document he cites, and wrong, in that he seems to be wilfully ignoring what our Founding Fathers intended and what more enlightened laws have underscored since.

What always boggles me is how Righty Whitey Christian Americans, generally speaking, are not in favour of other theocracies world-wide, but are all in favour of having one here. When Kennedy was running for office, a vicious tide of anti-Papist / anti-Catholic rhetoric spewed forth like sewage from a leaky pipe. Guess what? Since the majority of rich white people in charge of things at the time were not Catholic, suddenly they became more amenable to the idea of separation of Church and State, because they genuinely feared that Kennedy’s religious beliefs would interfere with his Presidential duties. They were more amenable, because their idea of religion was not shared by, arguably, the then most powerful man in the country.

Now that the arguably currently most powerful man in this country is a Born Again ex-cokehead Righty Whitey idjit who feels the need to inflict his religion on the country as a whole, the rich white dudes in power think separation of Church and State is now a BAD idea. Wonder why.

My prediction: we are going to be hearing how separation of Church and State “doesn’t really exist” or it is a bad idea UNTIL, by a miracle, some non-Protestant person is elected as President. And with the level of political corruption in this country, do you really think that will happen any time soon? Honestly? Right now, generally speaking, it supposedly “looks pretty good” for Democrats. This, I am telling you, will bring out some of the most vicious, underhanded, pro-Jesus flagwaving xenophobic mutts you ever saw during the next Presidential campaign.

What I’d love is a President who gets into office (without help from governor brothers, denying African Americans their vote, or friendship with the guy who OWNS Diebold) as a WASP-acceptable candidate and then converts to Judaism, which is a religion most of my sane friends practice, or something else that would make the rich white Jesus freaks go bananas. We might even get some “no backsies” laws that might actually stick that make it crystal clear that the State has no damn business dabbling about with religion of any stripe or type.

Last time the issue went before the Supreme Court, they punted, all the better to avoid truly clarifying the damn policy once and for all.

Sadly, I can not predict with certainty that we’ll have a Dem in office next go ’round, because the frontrunners, last I checked, are either female or black, and there are enough folks out there who are uncomfortable with both or either to potentially jigger the election for whoever the Repubz decide to nominate.

Do I personally think Jesus is “bad”? No, actually. I also know plenty of people who are devout and not hypocritical about it, and they don’t see the need to convert everyone else to their point of view, because they have the sense to understand that religious belief is deeply personal and private.

Some websites you may find interesting:


Americans, generally speaking, do not like or want to try to understand other theocracies, often nattering on about how wrong-headed and foolish those beliefs are, and comparing their own flavour of (usually) Christianity favorably to those other beliefs. As has been done for centuries, a particular type of Christian is really not into “live and let live” when it comes to competing religious beliefs. Not satisfied with their own personal salvation and religious beliefs, they feel the need to force everyone else to think and feel the same exact way, and to accept the same view of God as they have. I never understood that.

I especially don’t understand it when it involves two earnest, buzzcut-sporting, zitty teens in neckties (riding bikes) who insist on waking me up on the weekend.

I don’t understand the kind of mind that condemns the entire Muslim religion based on the actions of a handful of fanatical Muslim assrods, while conveniently neglecting to recall offenses a handful of fanatical Christian assrods have perpetrated throughout the ages.

I don’t understand the kind of mind that is so xenophobic and jingoistic as to say things like “America! Love it or leave it!” while forgetting that America is about preserving personal freedoms and rights, as long as those do not infringe upon other people’s freedoms and rights. Technically. Officially. Well, that’s what they keep telling us.

And meanwhile they are also forgetting that a lot of other countries sincerely hate our American guts, and don’t want any of the average American personality types to soil their country. Given that I don’t like the average American and average American interests (including political ignorance, dislike of reading, spelling and grammar, choices in mostly crap entertainment, their mostly crap musical preferences, their mostly crap etiquette, especially their crap dating behavior, overly indulgent or completely hands-off parenting, pro-tanorexic fashion, anti-intellectualism, false piety combind with judgmental behavior when faced with anyone who falls into the “other” category, materialism, use of animals / babies as accessories, and so on and so on) much myself, I can’t really blame them.


I guess I am incredibly angry that, say, Paris Hilton merits even one line of press, whereas actual NEWS news is considered too “unsexy” to bother with at all. (Example: I’m irritated that I even know “New York” is a person as well as a place, though what she does or contributes to the world, well, THAT I do not know.) And we’re infecting the rest of the world with the same crap values (though, to be fair, the UK has us beat where it comes to the “build ’em up then tear ’em down” trivial non-news “reporting” and publishing).

I guess if you say “we’re the best country on Earth” often enough, some folks really start to believe it. I’d say the truth somewhere in the middle: that we do a lot of things right and our intentions are generally good, but we mess up in a lot of areas, too, and you can’t acknowledge one side, the side where we do something really right, without also admitting to the other side, the one where…hoo boy!…have we ever got some work to do.

I think I need some caffeine and a lie down.

END OF OLD STUFF.

Okay.

Did you catch that bit about how it would be hilarious if we got a President in office who announced he wasn’t Christian? Well, instead we got a Christian that the conservative nutbags among us keep swearing is really a Secret Muslim.

It is probably best that we didn’t enrage the crazy people by having him announce he was giving up bacon permanently and converting to Judaism, after all.

 

 

 

If You Can’t Draw, Maybe The ‘Draw Something’ Game Is Not For You

Question: Why do people who can’t or won’t draw something want to play Draw Something?! I’m getting annoyed with people just writing the clues out. They must be the same maroons who shoot video at concerts with a potato and upload stuff to YouTube, where the resulting video clip makes you think you have been slipped some bad acid.

Screen shot 2011-04-04 at 11.45.09 PM

Didyourecordthiswithapotato

Admittedly, the game has some stupid clues sometimes, some of which are irritating pop culture phrases or names, like ”blueivy,” ”ladygaga,” ”bieber,” but, FFS, if we play several rounds and you always just write the damn word out, you are playing the wrong game.

I’m just saying.

Once in a blue moon, I understand someone needs a stupid clue word to earn a badge and has no idea how to draw ”seacrest,” but writing the words each and every time? You people suck, get the F out of my drawing game.

And if you can’t spell and constantly give up because you can’t spell simple words, like trying to spell “stapler” as “stapole,” whatever the hell a stapole is, or if you are seven years old and don’t know what half the words even mean, then you can F off too. You are spoiling my fun! Grr! Argh!

I’m supposed to be relaxing, here. WTF, people. Dammit, do not play drawing games if you can’t even draw a cat, a tree, or a flippin’ stick person. You’re pissing me off. I don’t judge people who aren’t great at art if they at least TRY to draw something. Which is, may I remind you, the name of the damn game in the first place.

Just to prove that I don’t slack off myself, here are a few sketches I did. I can’t show the animations (I like to illustrate verbs by having a character do whatever the word clue says they need to do, and the game shows the steps you take when drawing stuff so you can erase and redraw and such), but I can show the end results. Once I figured out you could save the stupid things, I was on the verge of rage-quitting due to non-drawing slack-asses, so there aren’t many of them:

196318_10100243364113557_193575304_n 73310_10100243364143497_1795270291_n 321487_10100243364168447_245640258_n 19197_10100243364188407_1926690147_n 558191_10100243364233317_686581687_n 397467_10100243364258267_1246300434_n 394825_10100243364273237_58784948_n

Note that 99% of these entries are DRAWINGS.

Incidentally, though most of my opponents guessed well and drew well, SOME of my opponents missed THREE of those clues I shared above, and the game gives you, like, 12 letters to use, lets you know how long the puzzle’s word is, and even gives you a “bomb” tool that removes all the wrong letters. The game also repeats the same clues a lot, especially those for badges. You should eventually figure out some of the weirder ones from context clues.

So I’m extra-annoyed.

How do you fuck up guessing “Kermit”? Does it not look like Kermit? Jesus Christ. I need a drink.

None of you people are allowed to play Pictionary with me, either.

Leave Public Schools Alone!

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If you’re unhappy with our public schools, here’s a radical thought: fund them adequately, provide appropriate textbooks and resources, pay good teachers well, and stop whining that although you can pray there all you want, that you can’t force teachers to lead prayers or enforce daily Bible readings.

Typical GOP stunt: cripple a resource, deny it funds, meddle with curricula, don’t consult educators, have non-educators make policy / laws, bust teachers’ unions, complain teachers get paid too much, promote crappy textbooks, try to insert religion into public schools, fight over ”intelligent design”, then, after leaving the public school system in tatters, complain schools are ”broken” and don’t give ”good value for the dollar,” and, hey, how about some vouchers!?

santorum vest

 

Or, if Rick Santorum, demonstrate your disdain for smart, educated people and the very idea of an advanced degree by calling learned people and scholars ”snobs.” (Ironically, Santorum has multiple degrees himself!)

santorum

 

People with no relevant real-world experience in the field of education, especially people who did poorly in school or who do not have any higher degrees, need to step off and leave our schools alone.

Girl Fights Versus Boy Fights

So this one blog talked about how the Internet doesn’t make you an asshole, but that human nature + the illusion of anonymity + minimal personal risk = assholish behavior. Same blogger is an anonymous crankypants, but whereas the tone isn’t what I’d choose, and the topics are those that I’d avoid lest they pissed off people I care about (who can’t separate a difference of opinion from a personal attack, even if the opinion stated was shared WITHOUT THEM IN MIND), I am finding her ranty-rants well-written and entertaining. (Also? I want to kick her abusive, selfish, neglectful, competitive, substance-impaired, crazy, kidnapping, bitchy bio-mom in the teeth. HARD. But she can handle herself just fine without me getting my hackles raised on her behalf.) Said blogger told a story or two about school-era conflicts that she handled with, well, direct violence to the perpetrators.

The interesting thing here is that this was effective, because, as a girl, she was expected to play by girl fight rules. Well, Girl Fight Rules SUCK.

I’m not adverse to an intellectual debate. I DO, however, despise whiny girly fight tactics. (Not all participants utilizing these tactics are girls, mind.)

Girly fights require that you do subtle, nasty things, preferably with a horde of cronies nearby to back you up and you get bonus points if you gesture towards your victim a lot. Say, they’ll pointedly gossip about the victim–who is RIGHT THERE–and then, if confronted, claim that the victim is being egotistical and paranoid. It’s gaslighting and cattiness. It’s not fighting an honest battle. Girly fights require emotional and psychic assassinations, not being able to trust your “friends” and the primary bully is always gathering forces around herself through the collective fear of her posse that the next victim may be one of the current “in” crowd.

Girly fights are lame. It’s all about being fakey-nice while in reality being a conniving shrew beating up on others with innuendo and rumor and shunning and stomping off in a huff and dropping drama bombs and crying and using emotional blackmail instead of, say, fists. Not that fisticuffs are better. But girl fighting is all about fighting indirectly and with a pack of harpies at your side, rather than sorting things out directly one on one.

Note that homophobic boys ganging up on less-than-jock-like peers and torturing them for real or imagined “gayness” is, in truth, a girly kind of fight.

Boy fights are more direct. First of all, the insult that triggers the fight must be rather grave. Mothers or girlfriends must be insulted. Property damage might have occurred. The offense is never “you looked cuter than I did today, so I hate you” or “I am secretly horribly insecure about my own popularity status, and how better to maintain it than by making everyone around me quake in their shoes?” or “you defended an unpopular person I was picking on and revealed me to be the ass I truly am, and now you must pay”.

Boy fights may involve a quick tussle or fist fight. Afterwards, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that two guys who were eagerly bashing each other into concrete walls and trying to kick each others’ gonads concave (low blow that it is) a few hours ago might wind up sharing a couple of beers later on. Boys are generally direct, if slightly more violent.

There will always be ladies asking their girls to hold their earrings, pinning up their wigs, ponytails or weaves, and putting Vaseline on their faces, sure, but that’s still boy-style fighting: actual blood might get spilled. It’s direct and not prolonged. There’s something to it.

Internet fights tend to be girl fights. Take a typical forum fight. There is a lot of frenzied IRC chatting and PM-ing and whinging on other fora. There’s the archivist, digging up past hurts and fights from whatever cobweb-strewn corner of a dead thread they were buried in. The pissheads who claim to be all in favor of peace, love and understanding, and then (often within minutes or hours) start “calling people out” and “naming names.” There are the backstabbers revealing personal information designed to embarrass former friends and then swearing anew that they really, really, really want a shiny, happy forum. There are idiots who just won’t leave even if they hate the way the forum is run by the owner and have other places to hang out, and lamers who create sock puppet accounts and bitch and whine and complain that others are shit-stirring, and…well, if you aren’t somewhat exhausted after just reading that shit, then you are better than I am.

Girly fights are doomed to fail where I am concerned. You pull that shit, you immediately lose as far as I am concerned. I label you as a jerk, and have no more interest in your arguments.

This is not to say that boy fighting ranks any higher, but, on the Internet, there are no real fists. Also, I may be a cat, sitting here typing. You don’t know. That’s the beauty of the Internet. P.S. Please send tuna, KTHXBAI.

There’s always the adult fight technique, where you stick to the disputed issue at hand, back your opinion up with facts, and don’t take a difference of opinion so darn personally. You don’t poll your buddies before you form your opinion. If your buddies disagree, so what?

The whole “enemy or pal” thing online is lame as well, because the likelihood that you will ever talk face-to-face is slim. 90% of what is said online is probably bullcrap, and that includes how people present themselves and the points of view they claim they hold. Some people just don’t have enough excitement in their daily life and need MOAR, and the Intarweebz is the perfect safe venue to troll, bitch, flame and be an ass. Again, human nature.
Even if you fight like a girl with someone who typically fights like a boy, they can’t sock you in the nose to shock you into behaving yourself if you get insulting and illogical and personally offensive and thereby bypass all the bullcrap and drama.

Girl fights failed with me in high school because I was blithely unaware of them, more often than not. Someone not liking me (or liking me) was not my problem. I didn’t share any secrets I didn’t want to risk having leaked far and wide, so there was nothing to embarrass me with (and it was already becoming more and more impossible to embarrass me, even then). If someone was being shunned by a pack of she-wolves, I either didn’t know or care. People from all groups were welcome to sit with me at any time, and they did. Lunch hour was pretty rockin’, what with the diverse group of folks at my table every day.

I still seem to be the recipient of everyone’s deepest, darkest secrets (because I don’t tell them) as an adult. I still stay out of fights that involve shunnings. When it was supposed to be my turn to be shunned by a group of much younger folks in Atlanta–and I still don’t know why, or really give a shit–I felt slightly hurt (“what did I do?”) and a bit put-upon (“I wouldn’t treat other people like I am being treated”), but that didn’t last long at all. I didn’t depend on only one small group of friends when I wanted to socialize, after all. My self-worth was never really diminished. If anything, I felt a little indignant because I hadn’t done anything wrong, nor had I behaved any differently from before. Once I identified to myself that I was displeased, and what behavior was annoying me and why, that was that. I decided the situation sucked, and moved on, and thought little about it thereafter. When the same group apparently decided the shunning was over and done with, it took me months to figure that out…because I wasn’t paying much attention to any of them any more, even when we attended the same events, other than to be polite as always, but preoccupied with other people or things. I didn’t trust them not to pull the same stunt again, and made no plans that depended on any of them to follow through.

I learn fast.

Often I spend far more time trying to figure out what, precisely, I am feeling about a situation, because I am very much a Think-y type and any kind of new or unexpected emotion that is less than pleasant sometimes takes me a minute or two to define and analyze. If the behavior I’m irked about is illogical, I sometimes just have to give up figuring it out. Odd, but true.

Then I rant for a while, if still annoyed, which often made my former roommates laugh more than anything else, and then I’m done.

Like now.

Socially-Influenced Versus Self-Imposed Dichotomies

Interesting article on the “us and them” false dichotomies we face each day.

People Who Drive Silver or Blue Cars Should NOT Read This

by Brian W. Vaszily, for www.SixWise.com

People who drive silver or blue cars or trucks should definitely not read this column because they won’t get it anyway. That’s just how they are.

But if you drive any other color car or truck — especially a red one like I do — you’ll get what I am about to tell you, and you’ll quickly see how this secret knowledge can help you avoid getting duped in many areas of your life.

So for all the non-silver and non-blue car and truck drivers out there, you should know that one of the most powerful ways marketers get you to try things, think things, do things, and buy things you never really intended to is through what is called “granfalloon tactics.”

A “granfalloon” — a term coined by author Kurt Vonnegut in his novel Cat’s Cradle — is a group of two or more people who feel a bond because they share some circumstance that, beneath it all, has little to no real significance. Vonnegut’s shorter definition is “a proud and meaningless association of human beings.”

So, for example, they may feel kinship simply because their first and last names start with the same letters, or they were born in the same state, or they use the same brand of cell phone service… or they drive the same color cars and trucks.

Like the rest of us, you have probably been in many granfalloons — whether long-term or momentarily, you have felt a bond with others just because they shared something with you that, upon even a bit of reflection, you’d realize is actually quite insignificant and doesn’t make for a real connection.

Perhaps one of the most immediately recognizable examples (unless you believe strongly in astrology) is the excited bond you feel with someone when you learn they share your birthday. Wow, cool! But … so what.

Point is, because humans are social beings, it is natural to bond, even if the points that connect you are arbitrary or flat-out worthless and the bond is only fleeting.

As with all the most effective marketing tricks, granfalloon tactics prey on this fundamental human need. They manipulate you into feeling part of a group — centered of course around their product, service, political party, or idea — in order to obtain your allegiance and your money.Are You a “Wheel Watcher”? A “Dittohead”? A “Chevy” or a “Ford Man”?

The most infamous example of a successful use of granfalloon tactics is probably Nazi Germany, where Adolph Hitler and his Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Gobbels created a rabidly cohesive “us” among Germany’s “Aryan” citizens by repeatedly blaming all of Germany’s problems on a “them” — the Jews.

W’s Rule!

The social psychologist Henri Tajfel once conducted a simple experiment that demonstrates the power of granfalloon tactics: He brought a group of subjects into his lab and randomly, based only on a coin toss, assigned each subject to be labeled an X or a W. Each member of both groups was then asked to make a variety of assumptions about each of the other subjects. Though they were all total strangers, each person made much more positive assumptions about those within their group than about those in the other group.

Slavery too was (and in some parts of the world still is) heavily bolstered by granfalloon tactics, as is racism in general — “we are different and superior because of the color of our skin or our ethnic background, whereas they are inferior because of the color of their skin or their ethnic background.”

Entire populations and generations, in other words, have been duped by the power of granfalloon tactics — resulting in extreme devastation — which makes your awareness of their increasing use in our commercial society even more critical.

Today, though much of the mass media rhetoric is about “unity” and “globalism” and breaking dividing lines, the evil marketing geniuses of the world are feverishly using granfalloon tactics to take things the other way… to push you and your children into bonding with and therefore defining yourself by the brands you choose (brands of products and services, but also brands of politics, religion, music, and more)… to push you into multiple little compartments.

Are you Mac or PC?

Are you Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Cingular or Nextel?

Drink Pepsi or Coke… or do you choose to “Be a Pepper” by drinking Dr. Pepper?

Pro or anti Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie?

Al Franken or a “Dittohead” — a label Rush Limbaugh applied to all his radio show listeners?

Are you hip-hop, country, alt rock, adult contemporary, or polka?

Do you watch Wheel of Fortune routinely, making you a “Wheel Watcher” according to their successful TV ads?

Drive a silver or blue car or truck, or a red, black, white or green one?

The reason dictators and other marketers push people into granfalloons, as you have probably gathered (no matter what color car or truck you drive), is that it is far easier to control people when they are compartmentalized, and far more profitable, too.

If I, as a marketer, can get you to feel a sense of belonging and pride at listening to my radio show versus another, or eating my brand of peanut butter versus another (“Choosy mothers choose Jif!”), or driving my company’s brand of truck versus another, I can easily create a sense of us versus them in you.

I can then easily make you look down your nose at them, and even despise them, simply because (no matter how insignificant a circumstance your group is based on) they are not a part of your group.

This, in turn, makes it even easier to keep you coming back to the group I control for more, more, more… including to spend more. (Which makes it still easier for me to make you look down on them even more, and so on and so forth.)

Perhaps the most classic example of granfalloon tactics in the commercial world is the macho designation of being either a “Chevy Man” or a “Ford Man” that the two automotive companies were happy to foster. For decades — and in many parts of the U.S. still — a key aspect of many men’s self-definition was the brand of truck they drove: Ford or Chevy.

It didn’t matter if you shared views on nearly everything else, if you were a Chevy Man you were obligated to drive Chevys for the rest of your life, and if you were a Ford Man you were obligated to drive Fords for the rest of your life, and you were both obligated to beat the crap out of the other if you ever encountered him in a bar. (This may be why Toyota is about to become the world’s largest auto company — the Ford and Chevy men eliminated one another.)

If You Drive a Silver or Blue Vehicle I Hope You Did Read This Column Despite Its Title

Upon reading this far, maybe you are thinking, “I get what Brian is saying here, but I personally won’t be conned by these ‘grand balloon’ tactics or whatever they’re called.”

Don’t assume that! Big mistake! PLEASE remember the First Real Rule of Marketing — the key secret of those who seek to control your beliefs and habits in order to take your money, your votes, your time or whatever else it is they desire from you — is that nobody believes they can be manipulated by marketers all that much. But that’s the key reason why marketers can manipulate them so much.

For example, you were likely drawn to read this column in the first place because of the exclusionary nature of its title. If you drive anything besides a silver or blue car or truck — and especially if you drive a red one — you may have initially experienced a feeling of smugness or at least mild satisfaction that you were in the “in” group that would “get” this column. You were among us.

Meanwhile, if you drive a silver or blue car or truck, you may have felt alarmed and even offended that you were being excluded in such a manner. Even if only to a mild degree, you felt “out,” you were among the them. Maybe you even wanted to punch me (I really hope you don’t want to anymore.)

Point is, you were drawn to this column about granfalloon tactics through an (admittedly mediocre) granfalloon tactic. Sorry I did that. But the purpose was to make you aware of how insidious these tactics can be. They are potent, they can be hard to spot, and because of these two factors they have been very successful for commercial marketers and their use is on the rise.

So to help you remain vigilant of them in order to avoid the influence of their granfalloon tactics, here’s my key advice:

Define who you are. Pull out a piece of paper and write down what really makes you who you are. Routinely revisit and update your self-definition. Don’t ever let them (and this is a real them) define you for you.

You are not the brand of car you drive. You are not the label on your shirt. You are not the political party you vote for, the stores you shop at, nor the type of house you live in. You can adore sports and hate Gatorade, you can love God and not be a member of their church, and choosy mothers don’t necessarily choose Jif.

You are the stuff of your deeply held beliefs, the stuff of the accomplishments you worked hard for, the stuff of whatever you and you alone define as truly important.

Knowing what that is, and knowing it well, is your best defense against their greedy attempts to drive you into granfalloons. And if you drive a red car like I do, that’s especially true for you.

Fascinating. FWIW, I have owned red, white, and blue cars. (Yes, I understand that this is not the point of the article.)

Are you Mac or PC?
I’ve used both. I still do, though I now only use PCs at home.

Drink Pepsi or Coke… or do you choose to “Be a Pepper” by drinking Dr. Pepper?
I have all three brands in my fridge right now. Typically I do prefer Coke products if they are “leaded” and Pepsi or Dr Pepper products if they are “unleaded” (regular / diet).

Pro or anti Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie?
I don’t have any opinion, I ignore that stuff. Like, are they still dating? No? Yes? This is important to me…WHY? Honestly, I don’t give a crap.

Al Franken or a “Dittohead” — a label Rush Limbaugh applied to all his radio show listeners? 

I don’t find Franken’s books to be as funny or well-written as I’d like, and prefer Molly Ivins or Jon Stewart for snark.

Are you hip-hop, country, alt rock, adult contemporary, or polka? None of the above.

Do you watch Wheel of Fortune routinely, making you a “Wheel Watcher” according to their successful TV ads?
Is THAT what that meant? I was baffled.

Drive a silver or blue car or truck, or a red, black, white or green one?
No, yes, car, yes, no, yes, no. Shrug. Have also owned two Chevys and a Ford.

None of these things define me, which makes sense. They probably shouldn’t define you, either.

I seem to have some resistance to outer-imposed granfalloons, but am not above creating some of my own (are you my Myers-Briggs type or not? do you like Britpop or not?).

I find the whole thing to be food for thought.


Some Funny ‘Overheard’ Conversations

I love the “overheard in…” communities, even if they make me feel bad about the level of stupidity and oddness going on all the time. No one place is immune. When I was in college, I took a long bus ride home and listened to a fascinating story about a crazy family who lived in a cave in Ohio, were stalked by goats, and threw their kids out of the cave if they mouthed off. The frightening thing is that the storyteller seemed sincere.

The world is a weird, wacky place.

Nobody in New York Knows the Difference between At-Home and Outside Conversations

Yuppie kid: Mommy shaves her hoo-hoo!
Yuppie dad: Okay, honey. Look, do you want your book?
Yuppie kid: I came in the bathroom this morning and asked Mommy what she was doing and she said shaving her hoo-hoo. Mommy shaves her hoo-hoo!
Yuppie dad: Dylan, remember when we discussed at-home conversations and outside conversations?
Yuppie kid: Yes.
Yuppie dad: Well, this is an at-home conversation.
Yuppie kid: Okay, daddy. [Sings to herself quietly] Mommmyyy shaves her hoo-hoooo…
Black lady: See, home conversating, outside conversating — that’s bullshit. My kid says shit like that, I smack him. He won’t say shit like that again.
Yuppie dad: Okay, thank you, but I think our method works just fine.
Yuppie kid: Lady, do you shave your hoo-hoo?
Black lady: Oh, yeah, that shit is workin’ just fine. She’s all kinds of polite.
Yuppie dad: Okay, Dylan, this is our stop.

The subway doors open. A hobo enters, holding a bottle of Windex in one hand and a tube of toothpaste in the other.
Hobo: Which is the better time to read Dostyevsky? Winter?
He sprays the Windex.
Hobo: Or Spring?
He squeezes toothpaste out of the tube.
Japanese girl: Spring!
Hobo: You are correct.

Chick: How come we’re always talking about how the Jews were persecuted? Lots of people have been persecuted. My people have been persecuted, too.
Professor guy: Um…This is “Introduction to Jewish-American Literature.”
Chick: …Yeah, but still.

Girl #1: I’m funny.
Girl #2: No you’re not.
Girl #1: Yes I am. Everyone says I’m hilarious.
Girl #2: Of course they do. That’s because you aren’t pretty.

Guy: I was seeing her for a while, but it just wasn’t working out. I guess I’m not over Jessica.
Girl: What?
Guy: What do you mean, what?
Girl: I thought you were gay.
Guy: Oh, because I’m a hairdresser. How original. Just because I’m a hairdresser you think I’m gay.
Girl: No. I thought you were gay because when I stayed at your house four years ago I woke up and saw you fucking Matt in the ass!
Guy: Oh my God. Matt and I have never talked about that night.

Chick #1: Dude, everyone’s popping out babies these days. JLo, TomKat, Britney. It’s like they’re the new fucking accessory.
Chick #2: Yeah, who wants a fucking baby anyway? You just turn into a fatass with stretch marks and saggy tits with a screaming infant who no one wants to be around.
Very pregnant passenger: I’m due in two weeks.
Chick #1: Aww! Is it a boy or a girl?

Girl #1: Ben’s hot, but I think he’s gay.
Girl #2: No way. Why?
Girl #1: He asked me if my carpet matches my drapes.
Girl #2: … I don’t think he’s gay.
Girl #1: Oh yeah?
Girl #2: Call him up and tell him he can chew on your carpet!
Girl #1: … What?

Middle-aged woman: Tradition brings us all together and makes us feel close.
Twenty-something woman: That’s not the tradition; it’s the Jack Daniels.

Girl #1: As Shakespeare once said: “Thou shall not kill.”
Girl #2: No, that would be God.

Girl on cell: Wait, was this the eating disorder cousin or the crack dealer cousin?…Oh, she’s having a baby? Wow, I hope it doesn’t die.

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!
Kid #2: “Bam” doesn’t blow up, “bam” makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can’t defeat that!

Guy #1: I’d totally hit that.
Guy #2: Dude, I’d hit that so hard whoever could pull me out would become the King of England.

Mother: Don’t you ever do that again! [slaps child hard]
Child, calmly: Well, are you happy with yourself?

Woman on cell: No, I mean, whatever. I cried for that baby when it died and all. Shit! I even went to its funeral and the damn thing wasn’t even born! Who the fuck has a funeral for a baby that wasn’t even born?…Whatever, that’s not the point. The point is, I’m sure as hell not going to a birthday party for a baby whose funeral I went to a year ago. That is fucking morbid…and they had better not be expecting presents.

Drunk guy #1: What’s the closest star to Earth?
Drunk girl: The Sun!
Drunk guy #2: No… It’s Alpha Centauri.
Drunk girl: I just don’t think I can agree with you on that. Anyway, Alpha Centauri is a galaxy!
Drunk guy #2: Let’s bet on it.
Drunk girl: Okay. But only money. No sexual favors.

Small child, trying a Sprite: I don’t like it.
Dad: If you don’t like the taste, just spit it out.
Mom: I’ve heard that one before.

Older woman: Excuse me, miss?
Younger woman: Yeah?
Older woman: Your veil, your burqa is very beautiful. I didn’t know your people were allowed to wear it in bright colors.
Younger woman: It’s not a burqa, it’s a poncho. I’m Jewish. It’s for the rain. I got it at TJ Maxx.

God Squad lady: Praise Jesus! You won’t be saved without Jesus! You have to start believing in Jesus to be saved! Jesus will always be there for you!
Suit #1: Would it be so awful if we pushed her out when the doors open?
Suit #2: No. Jesus will save her.

Girl #1: So when was your first kiss?
Girl #2: My 17th birthday.
Girl #1: How about your first time making out?
Girl #2: Also my 17th birthday.
Girl #1: …first blowjob?
Girl #2: This is awkward. 17th birthday, again.
Girl #1: How about when you lost your virginity?
Girl #2: 17th.
Girl #1: How about the first time you —
Girl #2: I know what you’re about to ask, and the answer is “my 17th birthday” again.
Girl #1: God damn! What the hell did you do for your 18th birthday?

Chick #1: Omigod, like, if I like your earrings, why should I tell someone else I like your earrings? I should just tell you.
Chick #2: Omigod, I’m just like that too. But really it’s because I love getting compliments.
Chick #1: Omigod! Me, too! It’s the only reason why I say nice things to other people.

Crazy: So I had to get fillings in all of my teeth.
Passenger: Uh huh.
Crazy: But I figured, why let them do that to me after they drilled holes in my brain, ya know?
Passenger: Sure.
Crazy: But I figured, might as well! Although if they were going to fill my teeth, I’d want them to use jelly.
Passenger: Yep.
Crazy: But the guy at the counter said they were out of jelly. So I got a blueberry muffin.

Conductor: This train is very crowded. If you cannot fit, please step back and wait for the next train. If you manage to get onto this very crowded train, look at the person next to you and tell them, “Howdy!”

Conductor, angrily: Yo, stand clear o’ the closing doors o’ my choo-choo!

Slutty girl: My high school history teacher ate my pussy. Then the science teacher. He ate my pussy. Then in college my freshman philosophy professor and my junior year economics professor, they ate my pussy.
Practical girl: You need to put out a Zagat guide to your twat.

Man: It was nice to meet you. Now will you shake my hand?
Little boy: No.
Man: Why not?
Little boy: Because she gave you her number, but she already has a boyfriend! I don’t like that.
Woman: Shut up. That’s not true.
Little boy: If it isn’t, then why did it say “Jason and Trish, together forever” on your phone, when I turned it on right now?
Woman: Together forever, my ass; now shut up!

Second grader: Earth is the greatest planet in the whole world!

No One Knows How To Keep Their Voices Down in the Office, Either

Chick: Nice flowers!
Dude: Yeah, I had a bad day yesterday and treated myself. You ever have one of those?
Chick: Yeah, but I just drink.

Sales guy: I went to a funeral once, and everyone there got a packet of the cremated remains.
Sales girl: That’s a nice parting gift!
Sales guy: Well, we were all supposed to disperse them somewhere. Mine sat on my mantle for about a month. Then I finally threw it away.
Sales girl: You sent the person to the dump?! So wrong! So wrong!

Paralegal to friendly lawyer: I’m sorry, I can’t shake your hand.
Lawyer: What’s your problem? We just saved the firm hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Paralegal: It has nothing to do with that… I’d help to bankrupt an orphanage if it came to it.
Lawyer: Then why won’t you shake my hand?
Paralegal: Sir, I was in the bathroom when you took a shit after the meeting, and you didn’t wash your hands. That’s just disgusting.

Boss: So see if you can find these people’s email addresses.
Intern: …You want me to find Desmond Tutu’s email address?
Boss: Try Google if you get stumped.

Boss: So, is there any other duty that you do on a daily basis that we should include on this list?
Worker: You mean other than miscellaneous bullshit?
Boss: Well, how much time do you spend on miscellaneous bullshit everyday?
Worker: Depending on the day, between 10 minutes and 8 hours.

Worker #1: Stupid fucking Back Office Support people are retarded.
Worker #2: Fuck the fucking fuckers.
Worker #1: Amen…without the sex part.
Worker #2: Heh, their pillow talk would go something like this: “You are the one that is hot, that is what I am telling you now.”

Co-worker #1: What’s a carpet muncher? Is that a new slang for vacuum cleaner?
Co-worker #2: Um, no. He, he, he. I’ll give you a thousand bucks if you ask the boss for a carpet muncher.
Co-worker #1: Why? I don’t have carpeting.

Teller: I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to see The Da Vinci Code. I want to see it, but if I do I’ll feel like I’m. . . supporting. You know?
Bank AVP: . . . Supporting?
Teller: The Devil!
Long pause
Bank AVP: Tom Hanks is the devil?

Suit #1: So, you feeling better today?
Suit #2: Man, I’m never eating Indian again.
Suit #1: Can’t have been that bad.
Suit #2: It’s just not manly to pee out your bum.

You’re Not Safe From Them At The Beach

Boy: Dad, who’s more intelligent? The father or the son?
Dad: The father, of course.
Boy: Who invented the telescope?
Dad: Galileo Galilei.
Boy: Why didn’t his father?

Teen boy to friend: Don’t trust women — they have vaginas. It’s where they keep all their secrets and lies!

Guy on cell: When the freeway ends, turn left…Yes, the freeway ends….Because the continent ends, dipshit.

Mother to father: Oh my! Jerry, say something to that old man. His testicles are hanging out of his swimsuit.
Little girl: I have testicles. They’re in my mouth. [Opens mouth]
Mother: Not tonsils. Testicles!
Father: Seven, and already MTV has ruined her.

Lifeguard on megaphone: Attention, beach-goers, due to the sunset, you must get out in 5 minutes or else we will turn the waves off.
Girl: Oh my God! Is he serious?!

Guy: Hey, beautiful ladies! My name is Sean. I run a company that increases the number of hits your website gets on search engines. I’m sure I could help you in your line of work What do you do?
Woman: I’m a neurosurgeon.
Guy: Hey, it’s good to see that even a brain surgeon has time to head out to the beach. Let me show you how my company can help you get more business.
Woman: I’m sure it can’t.
Guy: Well then, how ’bout I just give you my number?
Woman: How about I just give you a lobotomy?

American: Why did she stare at me like that? Is my accent that horrible? Did I say something wrong?
Japanese-American: Your accent isn’t that bad. But you made the Japanese “fuck you” gesture with your hands.

Beach patrol: Ma’am, I am going to have to ask you to put on your top. This is not a “clothing optional”beach.
Man sitting with topless woman: Leave her alone. She is trying to get a full body tan.
Beach patrol: Sir, I think you are asking quite a bit from the sun.

Chubby twink: The ’80s called, they want their lipstick back.
Chick in black with bright red lipstick: Your boyfriend called, he thinks you’re fat.
Chubby twink runs off crying, chick in black lights a smoke.

Fat lady screaming: Taneesha! Homegirl, get yo’ ass in here and see this! There be more sand up in my vah-jay-jay than the Saharia desert!

Bimbette looking up at cliff face: Hey, do rocks eat other rocks?
Guy: … Huh?
Bimbette: Do rocks eat other rocks? You know, so that they can grow into bigger rocks…
Guy: Are you serious? No, rocks do not eat other rocks.
Bimbette: Then, like… How do they get bigger?
Guy: [Silence.]
Bimbette: Like, what do they eat?

Boy #1: Yeah, it was cool, but that bouncer searched me like crazy. He was patting my thighs and stuff. Security is crazy at that place, huh?
Boy #2: What security?
Boy #3: What bouncer?
Boy #1: You know, that big, fat guy near the entrance.
Boy #2: There was no security dude.
Boy #1: … Then who the hell was that guy?!
Boys #2 and #3 laugh hysterically.

Group of valley girls, giggling: So you’re bisexual, right?
Girl with piercings and multi-colored hair: Ummm… Yeah…?
Group of valley girls: So, what does that mean?!
Girl with piercings and multi-colored hair: Holy shit… Okay, you know what? Go ask your preacher.

Swedish guy: Are you the hippies?
Dreadlock guy: I guess so.
Swedish guy: So, you hippies, do you have the orgies?
Dreadlock girl: Um… We decide that on a hippie by hippie basis.
Swedish guy: Oh, because you say ‘Yes,’ and I sign up now.

Girl #1: Oh, man! So, for Christmas my dad is letting me get my cartilidge pierced! I’m so excited!
Girl #2: Oh, man, that’s so cool! I want to get mine done, too.
Girl #1: Yeah, I’ll only ever get my ears pierced. Everything else is so gross and weird.
Girl #3: Yeah, well, I have my clit pierced — do you think that’s weird?
Girl #2: What’s a clit?

Teen boy: Fucking faggots!
Gay Man: How can he tell I’m gay?
Gay Woman: How can he tell I’m a lesbian? What, do we exude a flamboyantly-homosexual aura or something? Fuck, we’re cuddling with a member of the opposite gender, and people still know we’re gay! Damn, it’s like P.E. class all over again.

The Duh, It Ows, And It Is Everywhere!

Crazy lady: Oh, no! Those teenagers did not just steal my outhouse!

Mom: We can’t have ice cream. You just had candy at the movie.
Little girl: Mom, you are such a gutter-skank.
Mom, flabbergasted: What did you say?! What did you call me?! Where did you hear that term?!
Little girl: Dad.

Blonde to friend: You know that guy I was going out with? He told me he was going out with me because he liked blondes, and I thought, ‘I’m not a blonde,’ but then I remembered I was… But that’s not a good enough reason to go out with me.

Really happy college chick: So many people will die. You know why? The demons are hungry. When you die they eat your soul. They’re hungry and they aren’t happy about it, so people have to die.

Chick: So, what are your irrational fears?
Dude: Well, I’m afraid of that song. You know, the John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt one. I mean, ‘that’s my name, too’? What does that mean?! I mean, think about its larger sociological implications. That just freaks me out.

Beholder: You are not a beholder, buddy.
Non-beholder: Nah, dude. I’m pretty sure I behold.

Drunk guy with pink hat: You guys should totally use chop sticks — it’s so pussy not to.
Hippie, light-heartedly: We’re trying to save some trees.
Drunk guy with pink hat: Do you have any idea how many geese I killed today? 12.

Drunken wedding guest to videographer going from table to table: Zach, I want to wish you and Jenny many years of happiness, and I hope you get as much pleasure out of fucking her as I did.
Other guests at table: Erase that! Erase that!
Videographer: Are you kidding? This is like gold!

Pregnant, tattooed hipster: This is killing me. How can I go without ink for nine months?
Tattooed hipster friend: Oh, I know.

Guy #1: I totally told her I wasn’t with anyone else on my cruise, but I clearly slept with another girl!
Guy #2: Victory!

College dude #1: What are those birds that fucking talk?
College dude #2: Parrots?
College dude #1: No, that’s what my teacher said… Ravens! That’s right!
College dude #2: Ravens talk? That’s like Edgar Allen Poe shit or something.
College dude #1: No, dude, they for real only say like one word, though.
College dude #2: imitating a raven: Aquafina!
College dude #1: Yeah, dude! ‘Aquafina!’ Only I’d make mine say, ‘Radiator.’

Woman #1: How do you spell ‘rarely’?
Woman #2: R-A-I-R-L-E-E… Here, maybe I should fill that out.

Lady with mic: Nothing is more powerful than Jesus! He die; he get up!

Lady hobo: Man, you is the biggest crackhead I ever met.
Giant hobo, muttering incoherently: No, man, I ain’t no crackhead. I ain’t no crackhead.
Lady hobo: N*gga, you smoke drywall!

Young mother to five-year-old daughter: Morgan! Come here! Do you remember that film we watched about perverts? Now hold my hand!

Guy on phone at leather bar: Yeah, I’m at a church social… doing the Lord’s work. I’ll be on my knees later.

Panhandler: Do you have any change? I need money. My old lady kicked me out. I need money for a penis… reduction… It’s too big, and she kicked me out. She said not to come back until–
Man: –No.

Man pushing wheelchair lady, singing: Handicap, handicap, oh handy handy handy…

Bathroom-bound tech woman: Are you following me? Not that many people follow me at my age.
Tech guy: No. I’m more of the ‘call-is-coming-from-inside-the-house’ kind of guy.

Celebrity Stupidity

MBA guy: Did you see that George Clooney’s pig died?
MBA gal: I’ll be his pig if he wants. Oink, oink!

Eminem: Yo, I failed ninth grade three times, but I don’t think it was necessarily ’cause I’m stupid.

California senator Barbara Boxer: Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, ‘Thank god I’m still alive!’ But, of course, those who died — their lives will never be the same again.

Anna Nicole Smith on suicide bombers: Why would they do that? Wouldn’t they think it was kind of painful?

PETA on global warming: The most powerful step that we can take as individuals to avert global warming is to stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Simon Cowell: It’s very fashionable to be in rehab.

 

A ‘Something Awful’ Internet Classic: The Beepocalypse

I’ve been a long-winded such-and-such lately, so here’s the Kitten Break equivalent of a pause in my journal: Something Awful member Flannel Bob’s Epic Bee War. This link has scads of big pictures. If you don’t think the pictures are worth the downloading time, though they probably are, I’ve included text descriptions.

Posted by Something Awful forum member “Flannel Blob” on 2 February, 2004: “Oh dear lord! Bees!”
“I am visiting my family in Florida for the holidays. I was chillin’ at my sister’s house when we looked out back and noticed a swarm of honeybees congregating on their swingset. There are a lot of kids around, including my sister’s 3 kids. They were inside at the time, fortunately.”

(image: a cloud of hundreds of bees flying hither and yon, converging upon a swingset)
“Fuckin’ Bees!

(image: a poo poo [the Something Awful word filter substitution for “shit”] load of bees clinging to a swingset crossbar)
“A few minutes later they had calmed down. We were guessing they were disturbed from their hive and decided to come here, or something.”

(image: stucco exterior wall of house with one or two bees emerging from a tiny hole.)
“This is where the bees were coming from. A hole in the house behind my sister’s place. We told the landlady about it and she didn’t seem to care or want to be bothered that she was renting a house to people that had loving [SA-speak for “fucking”] BEES living inside it.”

(image: close-up of ball o’ beez)
“The neighbor called a bee removal company and they said they wouldn’t come out unless we paid a hefty fee, but he did recommend waiting until dark and go buy some stuff from Home Depot and squirt them with it and that should kill them off.”

(image: more bees than you have ever seen in your life)
“Well that plan was OK except for 2 things. 1 was that my sister’s husband is crazy. The 2nd thing is we didn’t want to wait that long nor spend any money. So we did the next best thing. Started loving with the bees.”

(image: ball hitting Million Bee March and scattering it)
“My bro in law chucks a tennis ball at the clump of bees, that was the size of a basketball. He knocked off a fist sized clump of bees, which eventually just flew back up into the main clump.”

(image: bees in a puddle on the ground, looking perplexed, gathering their bee thoughts)
“That was pretty boring, so we decide to try something a little bigger….”

(image: redneck brother-in-law proudly brandishing what looks like a bumper. something we all habve just lying around at our houses)
“Yeah, a 40lb trailer hitch for a Dodge Caravan.”

(image: brother in law chucking hitch in the general vicinity of the bees)
“INCOMING!”

(image: hitch making contact, bees forcibly evicted from bar, falling in one solid mass)
“CLANG! We have bees in freefall! Did I mention he is severely allergic to bees?”

(image: the first of many snapshots that show the brother in law fleeing for his life in the background and angry insects in the foreground)
“RUN FORREST!”

(image: yep, it’s a pile o’ beez, all right.)
“Pile O Bees”

(image: beez regain foothold on innocent playground equipment)
“The bees dust themselves off, and resume taking over the swingset. Every single one pretty much flew back up into a ball of bee death.”

(image: yipes! more beez!)
“At this point it was clear these little assholes weren’t getting the message. Their arrival in my sister’s property was an act of aggression, and we weren’t going to stand for it. So it was time for some redneck engineering:
(image: Rube Goldberg-esque contraption and brother in law proudly holding attached rope leash)
“Bee incinerator contraption:
– 30 feet of rope
– 1 large fire pit
– 1 science project board
– miscellaneous rags and a bedsheet
– gas”

(image: brother in law or pyro accomplice pouring petrol into metal grill-thing)
“Fill ‘er up! Slide the incinerator under the bees and….”

(image: FWOOSH)
“IGNITION!”

(image: fire! firefirefire!)
“OH THE BEEMANITY”

(image: beez. dead beez. their ded is not pastede on yey, they r rilly rilly ded zomg)
“CARNAGE!”

(image: survivor beez plotting bee revenge)
“Amazingly some bees still survived the first wave. What should we do next?”

(image: enter the can man. *Metallica riffs here*)
“The next ingredient is 1.5 quarts of PAINT THINNER”

(image: Fire!! FireFireFire!!)
“OH YES!!!!”

(image: bee corpses littering yard, cancerous gouts of smoke)
“12/23/2003 NEVER FORGET”

(image: beez singing Gloria Gaynor’s greatest hit)
“THERE WERE STILL MORE BEES ON THE SWINGSET. CALL IN REINFORCEMENTS. 2 QUARTS OF 87 OCTANE GASOLINE REPORTING FOR DUTY SIR!”

(image: FIRE!!! FIRE!FIRE!!FIRE!!! huge mushroom cloud of flame and black smoke)
“OH DEAR LORD ITS SO BEAUTIFUL. I AM SO PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN RIGHT NOW.”

(image: close up of what’s left of Rube Goldberg device and charred bee remains)
“Tonight we are having Roast Bee.”

(image: *playing “Taps”* Bee Genocide)
“The Aftermath.”

(image: bee-free backyard, human soldiers with no remaining facial hair, melted lawn and swingset bits)
“Number of allied casualties (er, stings): 0
Number of bees killed: est. 10,000
Number of bee survivors: about 25 or so”

(image: fire…and bees)
“When I close my eyes, I see fire…and bees.”

——————————
Update 1:
jacert posted:
“What camera did you use?”

“It’s a Canon Digital Rebel XT and I was using a 28-135IS lens. In daylight it is easy to use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action like that.

We did call around about how to remove bees and the only advice we got was deal with it yourself unless we wanted to pay a huge premium for having them come out on a holiday weekend. Nobody said anything about getting a beekeeper. In hindsight that would be been a good idea, albeit pretty boring.

This was a chance for him and I to relive some of our childhood shenanigans. We grew up on the same street, and fire was a regular part of our lives back then.

The hole is in the rental property behind the swingset. We don’t know if they did something to cause the hive to evacuate or if it was part of the hive breaking off to start anew.

There were no bees in sight at dusk. Mission Accomplished! Thanks and glad so many can appreciate what we did today. It was fun. despite inhaling all the strange fumes.”
——————————
Update 2:
(image: large clump of beez prior to Bee Holocaust of 2003)
“A little more detail. Thanks for the comments guys.”

Update 3:

(image: close-up of beez so fine that you can see every wing vein and body hair of each bee)
I am just learning how to use this camera and post-process in CS2. Jesus. I had no idea I could get this kind of detail.
“I feel kinda bad for the little fuckers now. Oh well, they made their fatal mistake when they went into my bro-in-law’s back yard. There was no way they could coexist in a neighborhood full of kids. Like I said, the beekeeper would have been an option, but not on a holiday weekend.”

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Something Awful is a pay-for-play site, but you can see this and at least one of the five pages in the thread for free. Some of the commentary is as funny as the original post. Comments preceded by “image” and in parentheses are mine, all the rest is the wit of Flannel Blob.

——————————

NOTE:

I do not condone or support the wholesale destruction of our friends the honeybees. Should you find that you have a bee-related emergency situation at your home, do not break out the Napalm. Call your local beekeeper! Fast (and probably free, as bee colonies are pricey) removal, and the ball o’ beez can be relocated to a hive far, far away from you, where they’ll make a new home and get crackin’ on manufacturing you some delicious honey. Yay for honey!

Plotting the death of Huge Scary Evil Black Wasps Of Doom are another matter. Death to all bastard wasps invading my home. Death, I say. Fire was seriously considered as a lethal and permanent deterrent. In the end, it was the entire contents of a lowly can of Aqua*Net, found rusting away in the back of my grandmother’s bathroom cabinet, that sent the wasp to wasp heaven.

P.S. “OH THE BEEMANITY” cracks me up every single time. Classic.