I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

June 15, 2005

I really want to do something to cause problems and sadness for the online job sites. I don't expect to be able to do it any time soon, but I need to develop a strategy for this, because it sets a bad precedent to allow anything to fuck with the good faith of fine people who just need a job. The only plans I have come up with so far are heavily dependent upon me having unlimited money. For example, in one scenario, everyone who works for Monster.com gets signed to lifetime contracts, making them excited, and then the focus of the company is shifted to making sculptures out of raw sewage. The company intranet is filled with ads for cushy jobs in other divisions, and employees can set up search agents that email them ads that match their criteria, allowing the employees to send their resumes with just a click of a button to a fictional email address that will never, ever reply to them.

I don't have unlimited money, though. You'd think I would, given that I've had this weblog for like eight years now, but somehow I've managed to miss it. No worries. All things considered, it's worked out pretty well for me.

The results of the Terri Schiavo autopsy are in, and although it offers categorical evidence that she was brain-dead and beyond all hope of recovery, her parents have not changed their minds and neither has President Bush. Because I have recently decided that I am a goddam mercenary as long as I don't have to work very hard and get paid holidays, let me offer the following ideas for them to bolster their case against what might otherwise appear to be overwhelming reality:

1. Doctors say that the vision centers of her brain were dead, and she could not see anything. Was that because of the lack of oxygen to her brain...or did her husband viciously put sunglasses on her while she was in a dark room, and then have the scans taken?
2. Doctors say that her brain was about half the size of a normal brain for a woman of her age. Was that because of the brain damage...or was it because the liberal media stole half of her brain while nobody was looking and implanted it in the reanimated corpse of Pol Pot?
3. Doctors say that, contrary to the allegations of right-wing media pundits, there was no evidence whatsoever that her husband, Michael Schiavo, had abused her. Was that because he did not, in fact, abuse her...or was it because he was taught ninja stealth torture techniques by agents of Pol Pot in exchange for half of her brain?

It would suck to have to apologize for having been completely wrong, so I expect that everyone is going to kick in for my consulting fee and hit the airwaves as soon as possible. You read it here today; you'll hear it from Bill Frist tomorrow.

I'd be remiss if I didn't link to the Martian sunset photo, if for no reason other than so I can find it again later. I'm rendered speechless and sincere by that sort of thing. It's a real photograph! Enough with the computer-corrected ultra-bright images, that's what a sunset really looks like on Mars and there's how I want my tax dollars spent. The Mars Rovers are great. When Opportunity finally got its wheel un-stuck, I went ape-shit. Why do we even care about sending people to planets? It's just empty symbolism. We'll get around to that eventually, but how much better would it be to have rovers on six moons of Saturn than two guys kicking around where rovers have already gone? We need to learn what secret, arcane practices are taking place on Venus, and rovers can tell us. (I am convinced there are some. I can lead a team to program the rover with ten thousand ways to convince aliens it's down.) There are volcanoes on Io, for fuck's sake. That is serious business. And Kurt Vonnegut has been right about everything else so far, so we need to send a rover to Titan as soon as possible.

(I will amend this entire line of argument to its incontrovertible opposite if I can be one of the two guys who gets to go to Mars. I've never completely recovered from the betrayal I felt when I learned there was no real way to get involved in astronomy without extensive use of math.)

June 6, 2005

I hope everyone has read the monkey economics story in The New York Times by now. There's really no way to do it justice by quoting any particular excerpt from it. In fact, I'm not sure that any sequence of words and numbers in the English language has achieved such powerful effect since, say, the Gettysburg Address. That's pretty much what that article is. Adam Smith gets irrefutably smacked in the introduction, which is always a good fun, and now that they have discovered prostitution, the Capuchin Whore of Babylon should be along shortly and there will be no stopping the tortured artists among them. (Bonobos, on the other hand, are still waiting for one of them to emerge as something other than a Whore of Babylon and discover apostasy in order to complete the other half of the famed whore-nun divide.) The only problem with the article is the very last sentence, which implies that the monkeys engage in economics much like humans do. In fact, the monkeys are much better at it, because they walk out of there with grapes and Jell-O, whereas guys at the stock exchange yell a lot and have to wear ties all day.

(news) The Pope, who was elected in April, also condemned divorce, artificial birth control, trial marriages and free-style unions, saying all of these practices were dangerous for the family.

Does anyone else get the impression that someone in the Vatican is just making up secular practices and seeing how many he can report to Ratzinger with a straight face? What, exactly, is a free-style union? Is that where my arm is married to your leg but my shoulder is playing the field, or is the Pope trying to pick a fight with the Jungle Brothers? Can you renew a trial marriage after thirty days at the special low introductory rate, or does that only apply to the trial period, after which the marriage is full price? What about marriage a la carte? Marriage on demand? Ratzinger, you boob, you're just giving us ideas out here in the secular world.

June 2, 2005

The timing of my post about the rhetorical beating our nation is receiving was uncanny. I wrote it yesterday afternoon; last night, the ineffectual, inept administration decided to unleash its most fearsome, snarling beast, Cheney, and send him into attack mode. As political insiders know, Cheney is kept in a cage all day and fed raw steaks with methamphetamines while rude men jab him with poles until he is frothing with rage, except on weekends, when he has to fight wild boars for his dinner. So this is apparently the best guy we have to fire a rhetorical volley at North Korea in retaliation for their brutal use of the word "balderdash". Well, the administration opened the cage, and here's what happened:

"Kim Jong Il is one of the world's more irresponsible leaders..."

"Cheney is hated as the most cruel monster and bloodthirsty beast,
as he has drenched various parts of the world in blood."


They absolutely dismantled the bastard. And then, as poor Japan backed away, North Korea brutalized it with a series of rapid-fire snide expressions, finishing the battle with a devastating "by hook or by crook" manuever.

We're done. I hate to be pessimistic, but our nation simply does not have the capability to fight this rhetorical war, and I have moved on from a "eventually they'll give me a call and I'll single-handedly lead us to rhetorical victory" scenario to "I'll have to lead a ragged band of survivors in a post-self-esteem-apocalyptic world to a series of small-scale guerilla rhetorical victories and we'll go from there", which in some ways may be even more compelling. (From the sound of it - 'balderdash', 'by hook or by crook', etc - Grand Moff Tarkin may be the one who is teaching them English, which would explain a lot, actually.)

I know it's sort of passe to talk about web searches that show up in your server stats, but I have to brag about being the only result for "wookie bamboozlement". That's right up there with my bowling trophies in terms of lifetime achievements.

June 1, 2005

They're almost finished building a new porch outside of my apartment, and although I won't know for sure until I'm out there, it looks like it's going to be more or less identical to the old one. Was I foolish to hope for something new? Triumphal arches, flying buttresses? Give me a fucking gargoyle, at least. I've never been clear on why things are ever built without gargoyles. Pretty much all I have to ward off evil is a plush gorilla on a shelf. It does all right, but still.

(If I was head of the city building commission, I would have a big red stamp that said "Get yourself some gargoyles or go back to your lego set, chump", and many architects would feel its wrath. Everyone says that Frank Lloyd Wright was so great, but how much better would the Prairie-style have been if he'd been forced to come up with gargoyles to fit with it? Far better, actually. I've seen that alternate universe and it rocks the pants off ours.)

(news) An Iraqi soldier died from poisoning and nine others were in critical condition after they ate free watermelon handed out at a checkpoint in northern Iraq, police said Wednesday. "A vendor offered a poisoned watermelon on Monday to Iraqi soldiers manning checkpoints between Shorgat and Kiyara," said police Colonel Fares Mahdi. "One soldier died and nine others who were rushed to the hospital are in critical condition."

I'm not sure I want to live in a world where you can't eat free watermelon given to you by complete strangers. I don't know if I've made my desire to be fired into outer space explicit, so let me go ahead and do that now. Can a weblog serve as a living will? How pissed off do you have to be to poison a watermelon? According to this, Iran sends 70% of its watermelons to Iraq. And that's to say nothing of this guy, the four-time greased watermelon champ of Wisconsin, who was killed in a roadside bombing in February. I keep thinking about the square watermelons in Japan, and I wonder how I'm going to make it through this summer.

But! You know this publication too well to think I would end an entry on a note of despair. Like everyone else, I was surprised when Deep Throat turned out to be some old guy. That really turned my head around about what old people can accomplish, and I'm optimistic that we'll start to see a more "can-do" attitude from our nation's millions of idle oldsters. I mean, look at this guy! He's old as dirt! Have you ever seen anyone that old? It's time for the rest of the elderly to get up and get the remote themselves.

However! I bring news of an alarming nature as well. We hoped this day would never come, that they would never fall into the hands of a rogue nation, but recent reports confirm that North Korea has command of long-range tactical insults, as shown by their explosive use of "balderdash" in an article about something or other. Furthermore, according to the Korean Central News Agency, we are getting absolutely destroyed on the battlefield of rhetoric. Apparently, we haven't managed to put forth a single plan that hasn't been assailed, rebuked, refuted, or come under fire. Worrisome, that. Now this is where I come in. Do you think I could single-handedly win a war of rhetoric with North Korea? Remember, we only won Vietnam when Rambo went in by himself, free of the chain of command and all of that other nonsense. My suggestion is this: hire me at once. Evidently, this is the eternal sun of humankind we're dealing with here. Well, I am a blackbelt in the English language. I will take him apart. The man will barely qualify as a night-light when I'm through with him. Put me in, coach! Just don't make me spend all day in these damn offices any more.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


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Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.