December 28, 2003

Out Of Date Update

Just to let everyone know, I've gone through my previous post ('A Visit From St Blog') and fixed many of the lines that were a little awkward in the last version. It should now scan all the way through-- and I certainly hope it does because I've spent far too many hours on this already.

December 24, 2003

A Visit From St Blog

Those of you who have been following my writing for quite some time (ie. three years) will remember the rather witty and wonderful piece of pseudo-poetry I wrote for my school humour magazine in 2000. Well, in the true spirit of the season, I have decided to repeat the Herculean feat; so here, in dazzling verse, is a rather topical version of Clement C Moore's holiday classic . . .

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The lights were all off, deathly still was the air;
The windows had all been taped over with care .

The children were trembling, all scared in their beds,
While Donald H Rumsfeld loomed large in their heads.
They thought of the words he had uttered of late:
"The threat of attack has become rather great."

At first they had scoffed at the orange alertin',
But gradually grew to be more and more certain
That Donald's grim words of terror and strife
Were quite true indeed: "Yes, you bet your life."

The kids cried and complained to their parents at length;
They lamented their huge lack of home-defense strength.
"Daddy!" They screamed, "We'll meet ghastly demise!
Thanks to those horrible terrorist guys!"

After much trite harassment, their father agreed.
He would draw up some plans, and what's more would proceed
To ready their house against pending attack;
Their roof would not buckle, their walls would not crack.

They worked day and night preparing their home,
Instead of fake snow, non-flammable foam;
Rather than tinsel they went with barbed wire;
Steel-plated wreaths to stop enemy fire.

The whole of the family were given gas masks--
And Cipro to combat the risk of anthrax.
If dirty bombs headed their way they'd pull through;
They'd made a bomb shelter downstairs in the loo.

So come Christmas Eve they were quite well-protected.
Despite this, they failed to stay calm and collected.
Tucked up in their beds, the kids were not mellow.
Oh! How they wished for the scale to turn yellow.

And as they lay fretting they heard a loud boom!
It came from the roof and pervaded their room.
They jumped out of bed and yelled for their dad,
Who quickly leapt up and sensed something bad.

He gathered the family, and downstairs they flocked,
To their basement hideout; their air-tight safe-box.
They huddled around and shuddered, all scared,
As sinister feet clomped loudly upstairs.

They cowered and prayed, and wished for protection:
They'd all change their ways; they'd bring on correction.
Caught up in their fervor, they drifted asleep
And slept through the night without nightmare or peep.

They woke the next day, and cautiously crept
Out of their safe-box and up the dark steps.
They listened for noises, and peered through the door,
And saw their intruder was present no more.

They stepped from the hallway and into the den,
And my!, what a sight they were greeted with then!
Presents were everywhere, heaped up on high,
The kids were so thrilled they let out a cry!

Thus Christmas had come, in all of its glory;
A moral, I think, can rise from this story:
'Tis that time of year when we're meant to be merry,
So let's all ignore the Defense Secretary.

The End. Happy holidays!

December 15, 2003

Homeland Security and the Big, Bad Teenager

Recently, a 17-year-old from Boston and his family were removed from a plane bound for Hawaii. Why? Baggage security screeners at Logan airport were searching his checked luggage and found the following note:

F*ck you. Stay the f*ck out of my bag, c*cksucker. Have you found a f*cking bomb yet? No, just clothes. Am I right? Yeah, so f*ck you.

The boy has been charged with making a bomb threat. Explained an official: "In today's security environment, there's no room for joking . . . Hey, hey, do you like these trousers? I call them my homeland security breeches! Hey-oooh! Am I right, folks? Am I right?"

Incidentally, I'm no lawyer, but isn't the boy's right to free speech being violated, here? Where's John Hancock when you need him?

Colin Problems

Wow, the US medical system sure is efficient!

When I opened up my homepage for the first time this morning, one of the headlines was: "Colin Powell has prostate cancer".

Five minutes later, when I refreshed the page, the headline had changed to: "Colin Powell has cancer surgery".

You know what else I just realized? Because of the stupid way he pronounces his first name, it kind of sounds like 'Colon Bowel'.


December 14, 2003

Department of Symbolic Victories

Breaking news this Sunday morning is that Saddam Hussein has been captured, alive and (apparently) 'talking politely'.

Oh, boy... Am I going to have fun with this one.

Saddam was found living in a six-by-eight-foot hole, camouflaged with hi-tech materials like bricks and dirt. Commented Paul Bremer, the US civil administrator in Iraq, "See? No wonder we took so long to find him! He was camouflaged with dirt, people! Dirt!"

Upon Hussein's capture, US soldiers found in his possession $750,000 US, two guns, and an orange taxi. Military analysts speculate he was planning to escape and get a job in New York City.

Hussein was found extremely disheveled, with a long, white beard. US personnel quickly shaved the ex-dictator, but not before the following disturbing picture was taken:

(I know, I know... It's been done before...)

World leaders have been quick to offer messages of support and congratulation to President Bush, even those bullish European leaders who have opposed the war in Iraq. President Jacques Chirac issued a statement (well, more of a caption, really) which read (quote): "The President is delighted with Saddam Hussein's arrest." A second statement issued seconds later continued, "The President will continue to act all superior and French, including but not limited to talking about himself in the third person."

Meanwhile, Arab television station Al-Jazeera has reportedly received a new video from Osama bin Laden, in which the al Qaeda leader says: "Ha! In your face, Hussein! You owe me a pint!"

Back in the US, reactions have been mixed. Republicans have lauded the move, which was carried out with uncharacteristic efficiency and no casualities. On the other hand, Democratic hopeful Howard Dean struggled to find criticism with the operation. "Well, uh, where was this efficiency nine months ago? Because, uh, you know, I, uh.... Oh, why bother? Just call off the election now."

The world media has been anything but reticent in covering the dictator's capture, springing excitedly into action within minutes of the news breaking. One employee of the BBC was so exhilirated, the following slip made it onto the website:

The American press took a more blindingly obvious approach in covering the story, running with the headline Saddam Capture Good for Bush in Many Ways.

*moan* So many jokes... I think I just had an orgasm.

December 12, 2003

Dept. of Confused and Irate Blog Readers

For those of you who like Madonna but are apparently not astute enough to know what a scroll bar is, link number (2) from yesterday's blog does talk about Madonna (specifically, her "I'm still shocking, really! Come on, be shocked!" kiss with Britney), but towards the bottom of the page.

You know who you are.

December 11, 2003

Things I Like on the Web, No. 398

Sigh. The jokers here at McGill expect me to write three final papers and sit four final exams this term, so naturally, I have been wasting my time searching for diverting websites. I present here my top three for the week:

1) Are All Americans Stupid?

Choose your nationality (either 'American' or 'Other'; following the Bush administration, I suppose) and take this quiz. The results are collated automatically and you can see, in a pretty little graph, how well Americans do as opposed to non-Americans. At the moment, almost 100,000 people have taken the quiz, and Americans are, on average, about .65 points out of 20 behind (although, as a proto-sociologist, I have to question the validity of the results).

The purported aim of the site is to determine whether the well-known stereotype about Americans being stupid is true. I suspect it's just a thinly-veiled attempt at pissing off Americans, which seems to be working quite well, judging from the comments page:

"Ok... Maybe we're slightly less educated than Europeans, but at least we're not a bunch of linguini-spined socialist snobs! Go appease a ruthless dictator to protect your financial interests. That's all Europeans are good for."

"The things i've learned haven't come from books. Maybe some people just care about deeper things than other countries shit"

"Lick BALLS!"

And so forth...

2) The Best Description of Madonna Ever!:

"Some over-yogaed, under-botoxed milf with her roots showing."

'Nuff said.

3) The Paris Hilton Sex Tape FREE!

Nah, just kidding. You clicked on it though, didn't you?

And now, to study!

December 03, 2003

Why I Want To Be A Sociologist

Some people might think that sociology is a boring subject, but I think they may be forced to change their minds after reading about the following real-life, honest-to-God sociological experiment:

From "Meanings of Violence" by Dov Cohen and Joe Vandello:

'In a series of experiments, we brought southern and northern subjects into the lab to see how they would respond when they were insulted by a confederate who was actually working with us. In these experiments, as the subject was walking down a narrow hallway, he attempted to pass our confederate, who was working at a file cabinet. As the subject approached, our confederate slammed the file drawer shut, bumped into the subject, and then rudely called him an "asshole" after the collision. (In a control condition, the subject was obviously neither bumped nor called an "asshole.")' (573)

'In another lab study . . . We brought subjects into the lab and presented the study under the guise that subjects were participating in a simulated "art therapy" session in which they were to draw pictures of childhood memories using crayons . . . Another subject (actually a confederate of ours) began to annoy him when the two were left alone. The confederate repeatedly crumpled up his own drawings and threw them at the garbage, missing but hitting the subject instead. He kept calling the subject "slick." He stole the subject's crayons. He hit the subject with more paper wads. He commented negatively on the subject's drawings, and so on.' (575)

In Journal of Legal Studies 27 (2): 567-584 (1998).

I ask you: is there any other field of research where you can bring unwitting test subjects into a lab with the express purpose of pissing them off (perhaps or perhaps not by stealing their crayons)?

And that is why sociology is the best discipline ever.

December 02, 2003

...You know?

From BBC NEWS | Magazine | 10 things that make no sense:

The BBC reports, in an uncharacteristically partisan manner, that Donald Rumsfeld has just been given a 'Golden Bull Award' for the following statement...

'Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know.'

...Rumsfeld narrowly beat out runner-up Arnold Schwarzenegger for the seminal:

'I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.'

To which I would add my personal favourite, Jean Chretien speaking (sort of) last summer:

'You know, cozy optics, you know. What is optics? What is wrong when you pay? That is the question, and he paid. So, you know, me too, I am travelling sometimes with people who — I’m careful, but I do, I go play golf sometime and I meet guy and they offer me a beer. You might say that’s cozy optics.'

Good thing these fellows aren't in powerful political offices, eh?

December 01, 2003

Cite of Disagreement

Look, I'm all for high standards of scientific research in the social sciences, but sometimes I feel like they take it too far. I can't write anything without being asked to provide a citation proving that it's 'true'. Consider this, the opening line from a paper I just wrote:

"International relations have often been characterized by debate and conflict— to put it mildly." (Ladd 2003b:1)

My TA (who, bless her, has actually been very helpful, despite this blog entry) had circled that line and written 'who says this?' next to it.

Um, try anybody who's ever picked up a fucking newspaper? Hello?! Does World War Two ring any bells? Jesus...