Forte Retired

October 31, 2009

Over the next few years we find that we will be forced to retire certain words entirely from the English language or, at a minimum, require that persons using them be specially licensed. The first to be retired entirely, at least from spoken English, is forte, when used to mean “strength.”


"No Doubt About It Vince, the End Around Is Ferguson's Forte "

We have searched spoken media carefully and can find no instance whatsoever wherein the word ever has been pronounced correctly. As apparently only lexicographers know, when used to describe strength it is pronounced fort, exactly like the strong, fortified place so often occupied by John Wayne and Randolph Scott in the westerns of yesteryear. When describing strength forte is never pronounced for-tay.

It is entirely proper, when describing a person’s strength to say, “His forte (pronounced fort) is hitting the long ball,” or “During a difficult trial, her forte (pronounced fort) is a convincing closing argument.” But, alas, the poor word is overwhelmed by mispronunciation. Say it correctly at a party and even your educated friends will slowly edge their way towards the cheese board.


"I Said Forte! I Want The Tympani to Rattle Their Teeth!!"

As a spoken word we will continue to allow the use of forte by musicians. Here, the word indeed is correctly pronounced for-tay, (or, by a few, for-tay. It means loud.

Yes, indeed, you’ll get some strange looks even from your more educated friends but it is perfectly acceptable to say his forte as a musician seems to come in the forte passages.

But the smart thing is to never, ever use the word in polite company.


Fear of Taxiing

October 31, 2009

NWA (Delta) A-320

Of course, this week’s big story in the aviation business is the one about two Northwest pilots who managed to overfly their destination by 150 miles. The pilots said they lost track of time because they were in a “concentrated period of discussion” about the company’s pilot scheduling system. The plane they were flying, an Airbus A-320, can cover 150 miles in 20 minutes so, while the distance seems great, the amount of time during which the crew were less than diligent regarding their cockpit duties was relatively small.

We won’t defend these pilots. Their inattention is inexcusable and at least a temporary suspension of their licenses is appropriate. But no one on board the plane was in any real danger. The worst that likely happened is that passengers may have missed a few appointments or flight connections. Northwest 188 was in no danger of falling out of the sky.

A few days earlier in Los Angeles, a much more serious incident occurred, one which drew only fleeting media attention. Two aircraft, one departing on a runway, the other taxing toward the same runway, came within 82 feet of each other. Alarms sounded and an alert air traffic controller called a halt to what could have turned into a disaster.


Fire Engulfs 2 Boeing 747's at Tenerife, Canary Islands

The worst disaster in the history of commercial aviation occurred not in the air but on the ground. Two Boeing 747 passenger airplanes, one operated by KLM, the other by Pan Am collided on a runway in the Canary Islands on March 27, 1977, More than 580 people died; about 60 survived.

In terms of body count, the next big air disaster will involve aircraft on, or very near the ground. The Federal Aviation Administration is deeply concerned about this and has placed “runway incursions” (read “ground and low-altitude collision avoidance”) at the top of its air safety priorities.

It’s time to update your phobia to the 21st Century. Instead of Fear of Flying, make it Fear of Taxiing.

There’s a Difference Between “Intellectual” and “Intelligence”

October 30, 2009

Is That a Gun in Your Pocket or Are Ya Glad to See Me?

Gore Vidal is a true “celebrity,” that is, ‘someone who is well known for being well known.’ If he shows at a 5th Avenue soiree, he counts double among the guest-list luminaries because, in addition to being a celebrity, he also is an intellectual.

Merriam-Webster defines an intellectual as one who is “devoted to matters of the mind, especially arts and letters.”

Note however, that being an intellectual does not necessarily qualify one as being intelligent. The same dictionary (no doubt consulted on occasion by Mr. Vidal, since he has written a few forgettable books) defines intelligence as “…having the power of reflection or reason;…not stupid or foolish.”

Juxtaposing these definitions, it is clear that Mr. Vidal is an intellectual but that he is not at all intelligent. Why? Because when asked by an interviewer from The Atlantic about the Roman Polanski festouche Mr. Vidal said, “I really don’t give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s been taken advantage of?”

Our intellectual continues, trying to explain why poor Roman is in all this trouble in the first place. “The media can’t get anything straight. Plus, there’s usually an anti-Semitic and anti-fag thing going on with the press – lots of crazy things. The idea that this girl was in her communion dress, a little angel all in white, being raped by this awful Jew, Polacko – that’s what people were calling him – well, the story is totally different now from what it was then.”

Christ, Gore, you’re giving intellectuals everywhere a bad name. Polanski is not in trouble because he is a Jew, he’s not in trouble because he’s a fag, and he’s not in trouble because the girl was some Sunset Boulevard tramp who just happened to be on her way to communion.

POLANSKI IS IN JAIL BECAUSE THE GIRL WAS 13!!. Can you spell “Jail Bait?”

To an intellectual, sex with a 13-year-old is perfectly OK. To someone who is intelligent (i.e., “…not stupid or foolish…”) it is rape.

I don’t care if this girl had been turning tricks for Hollywood pederasts since she was six, Polanski should have known better than to go anywhere near her, no matter how uncontrollable his libido. She was 13!


She Told Me She Was 15!

Then, the cops find out and next you know, the oh-so-talented Mr. Polanski is looking at doing hard time in a California prison for rape. So what does he do? He leaves the United States before he can be sentenced and hides behind the skirts of the French and other complicit “intellectuals” for 32 years.

I really hope he rots in prison. Switzerland is OK but Lompoc with a roommate named “Big J” would be even better.

“If You Wanna Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life, Make an Ugly Woman Your Wife”

October 30, 2009

“The burqa should be worn under two circumstances. A very beautiful woman should wear it to prevent men from fighting over her, and an ugly woman should wear it to hide her face.”

An Unidentified Arab Woman

burqa women New

"Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Fairest of Them All?"

You know, for a culture that doesn’t place much value on the education of women, a lot of Arab women are pretty sharp.

“I Have Taken Heat for That Decision”

October 30, 2009

I have taken heat for that decision, but if I choose to lock myself in my home, I am sure I would be criticized for hiding and not practicing what I preach.”

James Arthur Ray

James Arthur Ray is the con man who charged a bunch of insecure idiots $10,000 apiece for a one-week “Spiritual Warrior” experience in Sedona, Arizona. He managed to kill three of his customers in a sweat lodge and send another score to the hospital.

Ray’s flack, Howard Bragman, said many people at the “Spiritual Warrior” event had “amazing experiences.”

Yeah, I’d say dying is a pretty amazing experience.

Buying Jello? May I See Your “Extra Values” Card, Please?

October 30, 2009

A nationwide resurgence in illegal methamphetamine labs is prompting state and municipal lawmakers to consider copying an Oregon law requiring a prescription for many cold medicines, a restriction opposed by manufacturers.

Oregon in 2005 became the first state to require a doctor’s prescription for medications containing pseudoephedrine, which is used in about 40 cold and allergy medicines. Pseudoephedrine also is the primary ingredient for methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant.

The Wall Street Journal

Great idea guys. And while we’re at it let’s make everyone get prescriptions for sugar and yeast. After all, that’s all you need to make alcohol.

pillsAlcohol accounted for approximately 85,000 deaths in the US last year. Meth? Maybe 15,000, but that’s if you count all stimulants.

How about this? Let’s make everyone carry one of those stupid “frequent shopper” cards the grocery stores are always pushing. Then just pass a law that says you can’t buy shit from anywhere without presenting your card.

Eight U.S. Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

October 28, 2009
dead soldiers caskets on plane

Rest in Peace

The title for this article happens to be taken from Monday morning’s news (Tuesday’s American dead numbered 14) but, other than the dates, the headlines could have been written a week ago, a month ago or (take a deep breath) eight years ago. Yes, we’ve been in Afghanistan for eight years and for what?

President Bush asked this same question shortly before he left office and commissioned a “top-to-bottom strategic review” of Afghanistan. The results of this “strategic review” were never made public. Mr. Bush handed them over to Mr. Obama who also has chosen not to make them public.

It’s a safe bet the “strategic review” offered no cause for optimism; otherwise Messrs Bush and Obama would have held press conferences in which Obama might even have entertained a question or two from Fox News.

As a public service, we present below a synopsis of the “strategic review.” While we have no inside sources, we’ll bet the questions and conclusions make at least as much sense as the “strategic review” seen by two presidents.


What the Fuck Are We Doing Here?

Mr. President, as you can see from the title of this review, we attempted to capture its essence in a few succinct words. So that you will not look totally stupid in front of the press, we offer some talking points backed up with relevant data:


World Trade Center

Revenge – After the 9/11 attacks, we all agreed that we had to get even with somebody. Never mind that all of the people directly responsible were dead; and, never mind that most of them held Saudi Arabian passports—we needed to go after someone who didn’t have a lot of friends, too much oil, or any California real estate. What we needed was a high body count and Afghanistan seemed to fit the bill. We lost about 3000 people on 9/11. We’ve lost nearly another 1000 soldiers (along with a few reporters and aid workers) in Afghanistan since then. So we’re out, say, 4000 total. We’ve managed to kill some al Qaeda and Taliban types and we’ve greased a shitload of civilians. Looks like we’ve knocked off maybe 30,000 towelheads, burqa babes, and kids This is a kill ratio of about 7 to 1. Not as good as Viet Nam, mind you, where 10 to 1 was the gold standard, but not bad all the same.


Osama bin Laden

bin Laden – You’d think 6’6” guy with a beard would stick out just about anywhere but an NBA game but we haven’t been able to find him. Hell, we found the ONLY cow in the US with Mad Cow Disease and we can’t find this guy? And what if we do? With the new torture rules, we can’t even make him listen to Neil Diamond. Look, leave him alone. Yeah, he’s an asshole and deserves to have his neck stretched but most of the world’s scoundrels have avoided any real justice. Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, and Idi Amin all managed to die relatively peaceful deaths. Killing bin Laden just elevates him to martyrdom. If the rumors are true, he may be dead already of kidney disease. If he’s alive, there’s a $25 million price tag on his head. Do you suppose he sleeps comfortably in his mountain hideaway knowing that all it’s going to take is one guy who decides that $25 million guaranteed today is a better deal than the nebulous promise of 72 virgins at some time in the future. Given today’s markets, you can buy 72 virgins for a hell of a lot less than $25 million and still have plenty left over for the caviar, Cristal, and KY jelly.


al Qaeda Area of Operations

al Qaeda Base of Operations This is one of my favorites: ‘We’ve GOT to subjugate Afghanistan; after all, it’s al Qaeda’s base of operations.’ Forty years ago we spent years scouring South Viet Nam for a mythical hideaway called COSVN, the Central Office for South Viet Nam. This was supposed to be the Viet Cong’s equivalent of the Pentagon, the central nervous system of a vast military organism that stretched across southeast Asia. We were too stupid to imagine that any worthy enemy could stand up against us without centralized command and control, sophisticated intelligence gathering and analysis, and a staff of general officers duly graduated from some reputable military academy. We were wrong about COSVN and we’re wrong about al Qaeda. Sure, al Qaeda exists but, if it gets too hot for them in Afghanistan, they’ll just move somewhere else like, say, Pakistan! Hey, they’ve done that already! And Pakistan is falling apart just like Laos and Cambodia did.

What does a Base of Operations take these days? Not much. A good internet connection, a couple thousand acres of terrain for practice and training and a few well-concealed buildings. Don’t forget, most of the 9/11 terrorists did the bulk of their training in the United States while staying at the La Quinta.

Expansion to Pakistan – This morning, while Hillary geared up for a speech in Peshawar, a car bomb killed about 90 civilians and injured over 200. I’d say al Qaeda and the Taliban have already arrived. Contrary to the catty rumors going around in the States, Hillary is not putting on weight; that’s body armour under those pants suits.

Pakistan is a both a joke and a nightmare—a corrupt government, surrounded by Islamic fundamentalists, and at least 100 high-quality nuclear weapons. It’s just a matter of time until one of these human time bombs (an Islamic fundamentalist) gets his hands on one of these nuclear bombs (a plutonium implosion number laced with tritium) and sets it off. Are you ready to invade Pakistan (along with Iran and Israel) to prevent the detonation of a nuclear weapon in the Middle East? If not, then you’d better get the hell out because it’s just a matter of time.

And don’t forget, on September 16 Obama gave these assholes another $7.5 billion to stem the influence of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan. They took the $7.5 billion and then immediately complained that the money was an attempt to micro-manage Pakistan’s civilian and military affairs.

Sanctuary – Another great joke. ‘Afghanistan provides sanctuary to terrorists bent on doing us harm,’ is something we hear almost every week from some Sunday morning talking head. Christ, these al Qaeda and Taliban guys are hiding in Detroit and St. Louis; they don’t need Afghanistan as a sanctuary. We understand that a couple of these terrorists are pretty pissed. Someone back in Kandahar told them NFL season tickets were like “money in the bank.” Apparently, they invested heavily in Rams and Lions sky boxes.

Bizarre BazaarWinning ‘Hearts and Minds’ – We tried this one in Viet Nam and it didn’t work. It won’t work in Afghanistan or Pakistan, either. Why? It’s not that they don’t like us; hell we’ve got money, cigarettes, good-quality porn, and we’re basically nice guys until you start shooting at us. What’s not to like about us Foreign Devils? For civilians in these countries, the question is not who’s won their ‘hearts and minds.’ The question is who’s in town this week with the guns? Who owns the night; who speaks your language; who knows where you work; who knows where your kids go to school (if they go); who knows the rest of your family; who knows where your sheep or your poppies are? If you piss them off, who’s going to chase you to the end of the earth, just for the pleasure of cutting off your dick? Some American? Hell, no. He’s headed home in 164 days (and counting) and he’s already decided that next time he comes back to this god-forsaken shithole it will be after the women and children.

burqa-clad-muslim-women_246Burqas – OK, OK. This was one of the really great things to come out of this whole Middle East festouche. Burqas. Remember back in the months following 9/11? Everyone was circulating Internet pictures of burqa-clad women. They were great. No one could believe that there were still places in the world where people (men) took this shit seriously. But there are. And the sooner we get out, the sooner the burqas will be back. They’re even doing burqa fashion shows now.

Opium – In 2007, 93% of all the world’s opiates came from Afghanistan. If we leave, there might be a heroin shortage for a while as the Taliban, who would retake Afghanistan, considers opium “un-Islamic.” But not to worry. If the Taliban really stops opium production in Afghanistan (they won’t, when they find out how much money there is in it), someone else will pick up the slack. According to the US Army War College, “[w]ith a farm gate price of approximately $125 per kilogram for dry opium, an Afghan farmer can make 17 times more profit growing opium poppy ($4,622 per hectare), than by growing wheat ($266 per hectare). Opium poppy is also drought resistant, easy to transport and store, and, unlike many crops, requires no refrigeration and does not spoil.” And, processing opium is very labor intensive, giving all those burqa-clad housewives and little kids something to do.

Birth Rates – Afghanistan has the 4th highest birth rate of any country in the world. I won’t bore you with the math except to make this point: If the Taliban manages to recruit 1% of the the male population each year, we’ll have to kill 10,000 Afghanis just to stay even. Got the stomach for this? And remember, at present kill ratios, that’s another 1500 American lives flushed down the cosmic toilet annually.

Oil – At last we get to the real reason we’re in the Afghanistanoil. Everyone knows that Halliburton and all the rest of George Bush’s buddies wanted to get in to Afghanistan so they could get their hands on all that oil. That, of course, is the whole reason we’re in the Middle East, right? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but there’s not a drop of oil in Afghanistan. Not one. If anyone tries to sell you stock in AfghaniPetro, take a pass.