the best mercenary gig since December 25th, 1776

So pretend for a moment we know a dude in Damascus and let’s just say he’s a day labor construction worker.  Business is pretty good for him.  Much of his country has to rebuilt since his President, along with some Iranians, and some guy named Vlad utterly destroyed most of it.  But let’s face it, working in construction can be dull and repetitive.  So our bored Damascene (we’ll call him Fred) is looking for a little zest in his life.  Then one day he hears he can earn a few grand a month as a merc.  All he has to do is join a few thousand of his Syrian buddies and head off to Ukraine.  For you see, Fred’s heard that some guy named Vlad needs his help.

For you see, Vlad has a problem.  He needs an army to win a war.  But the problem is that when his troops aren’t looting gas stations, shooting rockets and artillery at apartment buildings, or getting main battle tank turrets blown clear into the stratosphere, they’re executing a total clusterfuck of an invasion.  This makes Vlad angry.  And everyone knows you don’t want to make Vlad angry.  But when 1/4 of the army has become casualties courtesy of brave, freedom fighting Ukrainians, then Vlad needs more bodies to feed into the inferno.  Or as ordinary average gentlemen titan badass Volodymyr Zelenskyy has termed it: “…throwing Russian soldiers like logs into a train’s furnace.”

We think Fred might have before him the best mercenary gig since December 25th, 1776.  After all, once Fred and his Syrian buddies are ambushed and most of them killed or captured, Fred will sure have a story he can tell his grandkids.  But in general, here’s why Fred should take this gig, hands down:

– Gets a firsthand view of the supposed second most powerful land army on Earth, only to wonder why they haven’t figured out how tires work

– Has the chance to remember his Damascus days when the civil war was at its height and he was starving, as he now starves again as the supposed second most powerful land army on Earth also apparently hasn’t figured out field rations

– Might get the chance to meet a real swell, beautiful young Ukrainian woman who he might imagine they could get married one day, right before she shoots him in the face

– Might get the chance to meet a real swell, beautiful old Ukrainian woman who might feed him a real meal, but who will likely tell him how her witchcraft will cause his dick to fall off or shine him on by giving him sunflower seeds so that when he dies his corpse can produce something useful

– Everyone loves explosions, even Fred.  And boy oh boy when a 46 ton main battle tank goes, it goes spectacularly.  Fred will have plenty of opportunities to marvel at just how high in the air a tank turret can actually fly

– Has the opportunity to realize just how wonderful the job of a day labor construction worker is

– Will remain puzzled how he never meets a Nazi, because Vlad kept telling him there were Nazis everywhere.  Fred just guesses it might be a cow he sees every now and then, but he’s not so sure

– Learns a valuable life lessons about avoiding con artists once he realizes Vlad has no intention of actually paying him the promised merc salary

– Can kindle a new interest in history as Fred becomes one with the spirit of an old Hessian dude as he’s likewise mopped up in an ambush by freedom fighters

– He gets to conduct the classic, ever memorable Tour of Europe after throwing away all his weapons, deserting, and trying to join a cousin he knows who lives in Bremen

give me more

oh, CNN is now streaming too

Soon there will be 129 streaming services, somewhat close to the number of core cable channels I suppose.  But at $5.99 each month per service, your new streaming bill will be $772.71 per month for them all. Please save ahead of time so your bank account doesn’t go into the red.

So don’t think for a second all the media companies are upset that cable is dying.  Not even a decade or so ago nine out of ten Americans had cable.  Within the year I bet it’ll be less than half.  But media companies are making more money than ever (except for live sports) so it all works out for them.

And so now CNN is in on the game.  In America you can watch all their programs, but not live news. The international version gets live news.  Because the last thing people know CNN for is live news.  You could spend time with such intellectual heavyweights like Wolf Blizter or Anderson Cooper on their talk shows, two arrogant empty suit guys who have contributed less to the goodness of America than your local jury duty foreman during any equivalent time period.

Uh, there’s some food stuff on there.  Because I guess CNN thinks food will sell.  But Bordain’s dead, so they’ve lost that brilliance.  So I guess they’ll pull some other person out of the woodwork, like some celebrity to talk about food.  Umm, I think they have a bunch of documentaries hosted by people they picked off a spreadsheet based on their political beliefs and skin color.

Um, they do some history stuff every now and then.  Like they had that series that covered each decade.  But that was shallow, pandering, and sucked.  So, um, [furrows brow] what preciously is there for CNN to stream, without live news?  If I were them, they should just throw a puppy on screen with a ball of yarn.  Though they can’t do that because Animal Planet already has a $4.99 a month service exclusively covering puppies playing with objects.

Would it be too earnest of us to ask the aliens to just get on with it?  I mean I know the invasion target date is 2037, but what’s the point in waiting?

rules are for little peasants

I don’t know why I feel compelled to comment on the Oscars (again) when I’ve pretty much said at many points during this pointless blog’s existence that it’s all a sick joke for the benefit of spoiled rich losers.

But I guess I’ll just point out that they really can’t help themselves. This is who they are. In the world of celebrities, a man can assault another man, and ten seconds later be honored and applauded like nothing happened.

In any other part of our society & culture this behavior rightly results in arrest. Not in Hollywood. Rules are for little peasants. If they’re in show business, it’s perfectly okay to be a hypocrite, because everyone else in the room is just like them.

It’s why I just don’t understand the cult of celebrity or people who watch TMZ or whatever, and follow the lives of these people like a religion. For the most part, these are not good people, they’re not moral human beings. Moral human beings, good dudes and women, don’t applaud someone who just assaulted another human being.

witchcraft against tanks

While I have a lot to say about Ukraine, I have refrained because frankly what I think doesn’t actually matter.  Maybe I’ll write about it later after I’ve had more time to think.  But this caught my eye this morning from The Economist and I felt compelled to share:

“Spirited resistance across Ukraine—from Berdyansk on the Azov Sea to Sumy in the north-east—has been backed up by a widespread unwillingness to acquiesce in the parts of the country where Ukraine has lost control. There is no evidence of Vladimir Putin’s soldiers being welcomed anywhere. The mood is generally one of contempt. In Konotop, a town in Sumy oblast, a local woman was filmed asking a Russian tank-driver if he knew about the town’s literary association with the occult. “Every second woman is a witch here,” she told him. “Tomorrow you won’t be able to get your dick to stand up.”

The Ukrainians might lose this war.  Or they might have to fight a smoldering conflict for years where the violence constantly ramps up and down, like in Donbas since 2014 only throughout the whole country.  But in general, as human history shows, you at least have a decent shot at a future provided a people, a culture are willing to tell evil people to fuck off.  Here’s to witchcraft.

we do epic battle with the dentist’s office

Let’s face it, it’s not likely I’ll have to prevent the local Denny’s from being overrun by zombies or some kind of unhinged coked out dragon.  Either of these options would be great, but generally I don’t walk around town carrying firearms or a mythic sword.  Instead, I’m just a loser who has to make do with surviving an otherwise routine visit to the dentist’s office.

A visit where you, the customer, are a cog in an increasingly profit driven machine where you’re herded through the dentist experience like human cattle with brutal efficiency.  The era of the single family dentist practice is dead, replaced by (like many things in our society) a system that values / tracks profit per minute, and return to investors over anything approaching actual medicine.  And you better believe more is better, because more means they get to bill the insurance company more, and more is better, because more is more money.

– X-rays: Didn’t we just do those six months ago?  I don’t think bone changes that fast unless I get punched in the face in the interim.  Which didn’t happen.  X-rays again.  Umm, okay.

– 3D scan of teeth: It feels like they’re jamming a caulk gun down your throat.  Hey you know what an awesome 3D scan of my teeth really is?  It’s called a mirror.  I see a 3D scan of my teeth every day.

– Divine offering: They felt the need to stop the visit for 15 minutes to make an offering (via a slaughtered bird) to Vlarbungard, the Norse God of Teeth, Pine Needles, and Hand Craftsmanship Using Driftwood.  I found this to be a rather odd experience.

– Water pick thing: This damn thing sets off my gums like a fire alarm.  Maybe I have sensitive sissy gums.  But I’m so desperate to get the fuck out the place as fast as possible I don’t complain.  I just endure the pain in hopes it’ll all end soon.  There’s probably a metaphor for life or cooking or whatever in this experience somewhere.

– Dry pick: But, the suffering was entirely in vain (metaphor).  Because they still broke out the dry pick anyways and used that damn thing for quite a while.  Were the majority of the Gestapo’s master torturers dentist school wash outs?  Without any research I have determined the answer is yes.

– Floss: After all that they have to floss me, what the fuck is this?  I think they just do it to encourage people to floss more on their own.  We won’t, we just won’t, stop asking us to do it.

– Dognapping: The tech came by and showed me a photograph (what’s that?) of my dog with today’s local newspaper.  My dog was holding (somehow) a sign that said: “I have 12 minutes to live.  Don’t you love me?”  At which point I was invited to spend more money on a fluoride treatment like $50 out of pocket because insurance won’t cover it (probably because it’s a scam).  I stared at the wall and said nothing.  I know my dog, by now the kidnappers have had their necks broken.

– Polish: I remember the polishing stuff used to have fruity flavors, or mint flavor.  Now it tastes like doctor’s office scum.  I’m not really into gum, or fruity flavors, I just point this out because I’m sure the polish with mint costs the dentist office 6 cents more per procedure.  So it had to go.

– Daydreams while teeth are under assault: I’m rewatching TNG, god the new Star Trek shows suck so badly.  Picard is an android now?  I guess?  WTF?  The makers of Picard and Discovery should be imprisoned.  TNG was made in like 1991, 30 years ago.  It’s superior to 98% of television made today.

– Doctor: The techs and hygienists do all the work.  The dentist comes in for like 37 seconds and then leaves.  Dude has to do this 137 times a day.  He has no real job.  I’d be ashamed if I was him, that is until the paycheck cleared.  The dentist needs a third boat.

– History: I’m reading John Adams.  You know what really sucks?  Living in an era without actual dentists.  The Founding Fathers all had garbage teeth, and they were at the pinnacle of society.  Can’t imagine what the average farmer put up with.  I think for almost all of human existence not the last 150 years people’s teeth were a constant source of pain and suffering.

TAP’s militant Super Bowl predictions

– Aaron Donald and Von Miller will run wild as supermen as they utterly demolish a Bengals offensive line that’s thinner than the transparent candy plastic foolishly passed around this Monday

– Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth provide what sadly could be their last broadcast together as one of the only tag teams that doesn’t include a network tool hack or an insane manic tape bot man

– The NFL will put in so much pro military jingoistic glam that it’ll make a North Korea parade look like a C grade kindergarten graduation production

– The NFL (and the Rams) will try very, very, very desparately to once again convince Los Angeles (and everyone else) that Los Angeles actually cares about the NFL (which the city does not)

– Per the above, expect there to be more hardcore Bengals fans than Rams in the stadium forcing Keg Stand Stafford to go silent count, which should be fine as he’s done it for weeks now

– Roger Goodell and Stan Kroenke on camera lick their cigars with $10,000 bills, punch an orphan urchin in the face, and stare directly at the camera while mouthing four letter words, and gets away with it; then they start to make out with each other

– Sean McVay runs a lot around the sidelines in his best impersonation of an LA meth addict

– Zac Taylor continues his impersonation of a 12 year old Ivy league school candidate good lil boy

– OBJ continues his mature turn around whereas somehow this man actually now appears quite sane all the time

– Kupp and Chase achieve godhood, become co-emperors of all humanity after game regardless of outcome

– Joe Burrow will lose (see prediction #1), but it will not impede his future ability to win between like 2-4 Super Bowls in the future

– Since the Rams don’t have another draft pick until 2029, this will be their last Super Bowl for a long, long, long time, LA will not notice (see prediction #4)

– Hopefully a good time will be had by all

things you should never say in public

I’m mostly catatonic during my morning commute. I’m just not a morning person. I sit on the subway like a zombie. Sometimes I read a little, sometimes I doze off, but mostly I just exist. But things can peak my brain. Like the time last week this guy walked right up six inches from my face and nearly screamed in a menancing way: “Annnddd how are you doing this morning?” I said absolutely nothing and stared at him like he was a sedentary empty soup can and eventually he walked away. Not sure what was up with that.

This morning I’m walking out of the station and I overhear a guy say this little gem to his buddy:

“And then I shot him in the face with a silenced pistol!”

Oh yeah, hmm, yeah that’ll yield a double take even in my fogged morning brain. I’m sure he was just talking about Fortnite, but you still need to not say things like that in public. Or at least don’t talk loudly.

While I’m on the topic, all these Fortnite or equivalent massive multiplayer shooters are all pure garbage. They’re pay for play ponzi schemes for losers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love shooters, they’re a genre I play all the time. I have a higher video game kill count than Alexander’s partially genocidal Companion Cavalry. But if you’re going to play a shooter, skip the weak ass crap and play a real game. Play a singleplayer death machine like Doom or Wolfenstein.

I mean, just look at this cartoon nonsense:

Oh look the guy has a sword, and it seems they’re surrounded by zombies. Oh and she’s got a Warcraft style hammer. How cute. It’s like a Lego version of a shooter.

Here’s something actually worth your time from Wolfestein:

Ahhh, now that’s early morning commute stress relief.

Civil War – 31 January 1863 – not a routine day on the water

If you’ve ever been at sea for a significant time or been a sailor you know the art of the routine is of considerable importance.  Routine allows you to get done what you need to get done so you can do actual work, or have fun, or just stare out at the awesomeness of being at sea.

When the routine is busted is when things go bad.  During peacetime this can be bad weather, equipment breaks, some dummy does dummy things, etc.  War is of course when the routine is shattered by expected or unexpected action.

The Union blockade of the Confederate States was one of the most successful (and least appreciated) acts of the war.  By the time the war was halfway over goods might be 20 or 30 times more expensive in parts of the South.  By the end, the Confederacy was starving.

Making this blockade happen was the genius of many hands, but much credit is due to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles.  But for the average Union sailor it was a boring slog of a routine, day after day, sitting off the southern coast watching mostly empty water, in an era where air conditioning didn’t exist.

So on January 31st, 1863 at least it’s not Summer, so the temperature is good.  But there’s a blockade runner’s dream in an early morning fog.  But it’s not a blockade runner the Union Navy has to worry about, the Confederates are coming out to fight:

Two Confederate rams, the CSS Chicora (Commander John R Tucker) and Palmetto State (Lieutenant John Rutledge) under overall command of Flag Officer Duncan N Ingraham, left Charleston Harbor in an early morning fog and attacked the blockading fleet.  The rams successfully destroyed the USS Mercedita (Captain Stellwagen) and the Keystone State (Commander William E LeRoy).  General PGT Beauregard commander of the Charleston district, claimed that the blockade had been lifted.  More Federal ship arrived.

Chicora and Palmetto State were modern ironclad rams, arguably two of the most dangerous warships then afloat.  Whereas Mercedita and Keystone State were wooden steam ships.  In order to blockade such a long coastline, the Union Navy had to rely on hundreds of old model wooden vessels which were fine for chasing down blockade runners but simply couldn’t compete with modern armored warships.

– The reality is the Confederacy didn’t have the industrial base to generate enough modern warships, and those they had were slowly and methodically run down and destroyed as the Union captured Confederate port after port.  Chicora and Palmetto State are exceptions in that since Charleston held almost until the end of the war, they lasted all the way until 1865 and were scuttled when Union forces finally took Charleston.

– So this was of course a very one sided battle, at least at the tactical level.  Mercedita was hit by gunfire and then rammed to the point that she surrendered.  Keystone State was disabled by gunfire afterwards.  Contrary to the above text, both ships would survive, be towed away, and continue service for the Union after repairs.  Chicora and Palmetto State would exchange gunfire with the rest of the blockade fleet before retiring.

– A one sided affair and a complete tactical victory for the Confederacy, it did nothing to change the overall scope of the war.  The Union blockade of Charleston remained intact.  Which is, of course, the purpose of an effectively executed blockade.

– All throughout the war are the scattered names of dozens of Union and Confederate generals who are just kind of there.  And even when they execute brilliant acts here and there, they’re still just kind of there.  They’re just guys.  And you ask yourself, why?  Beauregard was the co-winner of First Bull Run.  Why is he just kind of there for the rest of the war?  Well, it’s because of statements like this: ”claimed that the blockade had been lifted”.

– So if you’re some Charleston citizen, and Beauregard says the blockade is over, and two days later you look out over the water and the blockade is still there, you’d be certain that man was an idiot.  Here is a perfect example of Southern spirit over common sense.  Elan is not enough to win a war, and yet many of the South’s leaders (even those in the most key of positions) figured it would be enough to triumph.  It wasn’t.  The text above blandly notes: “More Federal ship arrived.”  Beauregard’s outlandish view of the war cannot compete with a Union war machine that can replace ships at will, no matter how many are destroyed.  And crewed by Union sailors who had one of the hardest, most thankless tasks of the war, but who completed their mission in the end.

Chicora and Palmetto State in Charleston harbor

dogs and cats make boring political statements

So the White House now has a cat. Because there’s nothing else going on in the world right now that should otherwise attract the attention of our nation’s leaders. But I guess it doesn’t matter. I bet the White House staff is so bloated there must be at least three people tasked with just taking care of the pet. After all, can’t have kitty’s litter box smell getting into the state dining room.

Dogs and cats are great, for us. Not for political theater. It shows unseriousness. Modern politicians are not normal people. If they were, they wouldn’t be in politics. So the idea that they are all somehow just like us little folk is kind of amusing and insulting.

If you want pets in a position of power, let’s get insane:

– Lion: This classic fear based weapon on a chain next to the Resolute desk is a bit predictable but who cares, it’s a freaking lion

– Komodo dragon: Lost among the people’s fascination with this unique creature is just how vicious they are, they can be placed in the lap of unruly cabinet secretaries

– Sloth: Yes, sloths, are slothy, but they’re also surly assholes, they can hang from the rafters both inside and outside the White House and stare at people like they can see into their souls

– Panda: What better way to shine on America’s global competitor than to have a White House mascot that American commandos stole from the Beijing zoo

– Aquarium: A leader’s office isn’t complete without a big aquarium full of lots of fish, some of which eat the other fish, the tropes and stereotypes that could be uttered to visiting dignitaries are immeasurable

– Alligator & Crocodile: What’s the difference between these two? I’m 40 and I still have no idea, best to get both inside the building just to be safe

– Bald Eagle: Because, of course, it could sit on a perch next to the Resolute desk and Biden could feed it raw meat during his meeting with the Deputy Undersecretary of Machine Tools at Union #438

– Mosquitos: Put them in the broom closet (there’s got to be one even in the White House) and any staff member who accidentally breaks a plate has to stand in there for 15 minutes

– Alien: Actually clone the alien from Alien, and he can greet guests at the door and pose with them for selifes, American commandos will have to be on hand to put down anybody who gets the face hugger

– Grizzly Bear: Teddy Roosevelt would approve, bear can take over the South Lawn, he would forever have a higher approval rating than any White House occupant

Aww, just look at the cute kitty! He even has a ball too! Wow, our political leaders are just like us too! They love pets just like we do! Wow! There isn’t a chance in hell that they’ll ever constantly fail us all and think we’re all shit eating peasants!

this man is an imposter

Slammed in the middle of the NFL’s usual battery of truck commercials and false fluff where companies claim how wonderful they are by lying directly to the audience was a few ads for the new Death on the Nile film.  The is a remake of something that has already been done, and was done better.  It’s a follow up to another Murder on the Orient Express which was done back in 2017.  The Imposter is show business royalty darling Kenneth Branagh who has his tentacles in so many aspects of Hollywood you can’t keep track of it.  But is basically known for making a bunch of forgettable Shakespeare films, shitty (but lucrative) remakes and superhero trash in Thor and Cinderella, and the greatest masterpiece ever made in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

The Imposter has a habit of casting himself in the leading roles while he’s the director.  Which is something that you shouldn’t ever do unless your name is legendary, of which for all his connections, The Imposter is most certainly not.  What’s even more glaring with the two Poirot remakes is The Imposter is shoving himself into an actor / director role where the character has already been played to absolute perfection by David Suchet.  It’s like some hack showing up and deciding he’s going to play Indiana Jones far, far better than Harrison Ford.  It’s patently absurd, but like a bunch (all) of people in show business he’s a narcissist for sure, so it’s okay to fail, as long as he can see his own film and smile about how awesome he thinks he looks.  I think I saw in the Nile trailer that The Imposter has Poirot holding a gun.  Which is like Indy holding a fluffy teddy bear.  Such things should not be done.

There is only one Poirot, that’s it.  And shame on Agatha Christie’s family for taking the check that was slid across the table to let Hollywood trash the 25 years of work David Suchet & Co did with Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

In my mind, this would play out perfectly in 1938.  Miss Lemon would go through the financial records and discover the location of The Imposter based on his bribery paperwork.  Hastings would jump into his roadster to get there as quickly as possible, without knowing even where he was going, and would collide with a bus full of nuns and children on their way to a Great War veteran’s event.  Poirot would solve the case by getting in the face of Hollywood executives (around a crowded circular room with many people listening to him) and the film would be cancelled.  And then Japp would drag The Imposter from his gilded hotel room at 3:34am in shackles to the Scotland Yard basement room known as “The Kiln”.  Where then Japp would grab the phone book and ask questions for seven hours such as “Well then, let’s see how many Fitzhugh’s live in Charing Cross?”  Followed by the screams.