Friday humour - May 02, 2003

     From Tony at Bluehaze:

          G'day,
    Back in Feb we posted a link to that amazing US Space Elevator project.
    It was passed on by a friend and colleague (David Magnay) whom I used
    to work with over at Elevators.  (I know some of you have seen the tall
    grey test-tower over in Sandringham where we used to spend a lot of our
    late night hours testing new high speed lifts!  It's probably now full
    of cobwebs, much is the pity.)

    Anyway, I promised a few that we'd re-post the link for the Sky Wire -
    it even involves a bit of nano-technology.  The web sites (and the project)
    have been moving around a bit in the past cupla months.  There's still
    the original link - Click here - or you can go straight to NIAC and look

    about 20 lines down for Edwards, Bradley Carl - Click here  Maybe this is

    another bit of Sci Fi finally turning into reality?

    The first humour contribution this week was recited to me over the 'phone
    a few weeks ago by David Tiley, so here goes ...
                             ------------------------

                              SADDAM IS BACK IN TOWN

Saddam's five look-alikes were tossing down a few wines in a local watering
hole in Iraq when a well-disguised colonel from the Republican Guard burst
into the pub.

"I haff good news, and I haff bad news", he cried.

"Well, give us der good news - quickly!" shouted the five look-alikes.

"Saddam is back in town.  And he is organising a massive revolt!"

Now this was wonderful news, they all thought, looking at each other.  They
would almost certainly be able get their old jobs back!

"So what's the bad news?" they all asked.

"He only has one arm."
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                Here's one from John over at Fosters ...
                         --------------------

                             CORVETTE FOR SALE

A man was reading the newspaper when an ad caught his eye:

*************************
*  $500 Corvette!  New!  *
*************************

The man thought that it was very unusual to sell a new Corvette for $500,
and he thought it might be a joke, but thought it was worth a shot.  So he
went to the lady's house and sure enough, she had an almost brand new Corvette.

"Wow!" the man said. "Can I take it for a test drive?"

Unlike what he expected, the man found that the car ran perfectly, so he took
it back to the lady's house.

"So why on earth are you selling this great Corvette for only $500?"

She answered, "My husband just ran off with his secretary, and he told me
I could have the house and the furniture as long as I sold his Corvette and
sent him the money."
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       And from Maria the Harding, some more lovable doggy humour:

                           WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

If you want someone who will bring you the paper without first tearing it
apart to remove the sports section ... buy a dog.

If you want someone willing to make a fool of himself simply over the joy of
seeing you, ... buy a dog.

If you want someone who will eat whatever you put in front of him and never
says it's not quite as good as his mother made it ... buy a dog.

If you want someone always willing to go out, at any hour, for as long and
wherever you want ... buy a dog.

If you want someone to scare away burglars, without a lethal weapon which
terrifies you and endangers the lives of your family and all the neighbours
... buy a dog.

If you want someone who will never touch the remote, doesn't give a damn about
football, and can sit next to you and watch a romantic movie ... buy a dog.

 If you want someone who is content to get up on your bed just to warm your
feet and whom you can push off if he snores ... buy a dog.

If you want someone who never criticises what you do, doesn't care if you
are pretty or ugly, fat or thin, young or old, who acts as if every word
you say is especially worthy of listening to, and loves you unconditionally,
perpetually ... buy a dog.

                        But on the other hand ...

If you want someone who will never come when you call, ignores you totally
when you come home, leaves hair all over the place, walks all over you, runs
around all night, only comes home to eat and sleep, and acts as if your entire
existance is solely to ensure his happiness, then ... buy a cat.
(Any resemblance to a man is purely coincidental).
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                         And from Susan ...
                         --------------------

   This is the opening market for the country that is next in line for
   liberation by the US:

Syria 6/4

Having a good season with exemplary recent form.  Barrier draw next to Iraq
helps.  Identified by Colin Powell and Donny Rumsfeld as the tip of the week.
Hard to go past.

North Korea 3/1

Has performed at the "Axis of Evil" level.  Being the only remaining
communist country helps its chance.  Early season form good but appears to
be tapering.  Don't dismiss lightly.

Iran 5/1

Veteran "Axis of Evil" performer who is also well drawn next to Iraq and
Afghanistan.  Recent form not its best, but has class on its side.  Could
surprise.

Afghanistan 12/1

Winner two runs back of the "2002 Axis of Evil".  Another bout of liberation
is possible, particularly if star trainer O.  Bin Laden returns.  Pay to watch
market moves.

Pakistan 20/1

Currently in the "US Friendly" Mushareef stable, which does not help its
current chances.  Pay to watch heats in Kashmir.  A change of stable could
enhance its chances.  Keep a watching brief for later events.

France 30/1

Punters sentimental favourite, but hard to see it getting up.  Prefer others.

Yemen 60/1

Has not performed since USS Cole.  Prefer others.

Palestine 100/1

Lack of oil a problem.  Unlikely to feature in this grade.
  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------


               Another one now from Maria the Harding ...
                         --------------------

A woman recently lost her husband.  She had him cremated and brought his
ashes home.

Picking up the urn that he was in, she poured him out on the patio table.
Then, while tracing her fingers in the ashes, she started talking to him.

"Irving, you know that fur coat you promised me?  I bought it with the
insurance money!"

"Irving, remember that new car you promised me?  Well, I also bought it with
the insurance money!"

"Irving, that emerald necklace you promised me?  Bought it too, with the
insurance money!"

Still tracing her finger in the ashes, she said, "Irving, remember that blow
job I promised you ..."
  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------


         And from Maria's other half Steve the Harding (Digitronics):
                         --------------------

                      PADDY & MICK (this is soooo bad ...)

Paddy and Mick worked together but were both sacked, so they went to the
unemployment office together.

When asked his occupation, Mick answered, 'Panty Stitcher, I sew the elastic
into ladies panties.'

The clerk looked up "panty stitcher".  Finding it classified as unskilled
labour, she gave him $200 a week unemployment pay.

Paddy was asked his occupation. 'Diesel Fitter' he replied.

Since this was a skilled job the clerk gave Paddy $500 a week.

When Mick found out he was furious.  He stormed back into the unemployment
office and demanded to know why his friend and co-worker was collecting more
than double his allowance.

The clerk explained that 'panty stitchers' are unskilled and 'diesel fitters'
are skilled labour.

'What skill?' yelled Mick. 'I sew the elastic onto the panties and Paddy puts
them on his head and says "Yep, diesel fitter!"'.
  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------


      Now to the pics, and first up - from Chris Butterfield:

Irish virus: Click here
                         --------------------

      Then, from QCAT (somewhere up North of here, we have ...

Six inches of snow: Click here
Dear Doctor Ruth ... Click here
                         --------------------

      Bruce Williamson passed this one on ...

Monkey joke (M$ proprietary WMV movie clip): Click here
                         --------------------

      And this collection came from Steve Kero ...

                          NEW IKEA CHAIR IDEA

The new chair: Click here
Application #1: Click here
Application #2: Click here
Application #3: Click here
Application #4: Click here
Application #5: Click here
Application #6: Click here
Application #7: Click here
Application #8: Click here

    ... and ...

Out of gas: Click here
My grandpa: Click here
The Master's: Click here
Female computer experts: Click here
                         --------------------

     And another collection - this time from Bob Flann:

My name is ... Click here
Latest perfume: Click here
Our kids: Click here
Passwords: Click here
How do I ...? Click here
Say gah ... Click here
E-stork: Click here
No probs ... Click here
Need an upgrade: Click here
                         --------------------

   And finally, a couple from Mike Horne.  Firstly, for doggie lovers (and
   sorry, Mike - I've changed the music :-)

Inner strength: Click here

   This 2nd one from Mike's not a picture, but rather a database of email
   "tags" for those who enjoy adding 'em after their sig's.  Possibly
   worth bookmarking ... such as:

          Bailiffs always come to order
          Bakers knead it daily
          Ballet dancers do it with toes
          BAM! POW! CR-RUNCH! ZOT! - More of Batman & Robin's greatest hits.
          Banality: Any joke about a banana ...

Email tags collection: Click here
  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------


         Back to ASCII now with this one from Andrea Coffey over at the Big
         Pond.  It's big.  And philosophical ... and thought provoking ...
                         --------------------

                            WATCH THE PARALLELS

Here's an interesting little bit of history.  Something about those not
heeding the lessons of history being destined to relive them?  Why are the
History departments effectively all shut down?

    When Democracy Failed: The Warnings of History
     by Thom Hartmann

    Published on Sunday, 16 March 2003 by CommonDreams.org

The 70th anniversary wasn't noticed in the United States, and was barely
reported in the corporate media.  But the Germans remembered well that fateful
day seventy years ago - 27 February 1933.  They commemorated the anniversary
by joining in demonstrations for peace that mobilised citizens all across
the world.

It started when the government, in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis,
received reports of an imminent terrorist attack.  A foreign ideologue had
launched feeble attacks on a few famous buildings, but the media largely
ignored his relatively small efforts.  The intelligence services knew, however,
that the odds were he would eventually succeed.  (Historians are still arguing
whether or not rogue elements in the intelligence service helped the terrorist;
the most recent research implies they did not.)

But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part
because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's
leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the majority of citizens
claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted.  He was a simpleton,
some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white
terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a
nation in a complex and internationalist world.  His coarse use of language -
reflecting his political roots in a southernmost state - and his simplistic
and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats,
foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media.

And, as a young man, he'd joined a secret society with an occult-sounding
name and bizarre initiation rituals that involved skulls and human bones.

Nonetheless, he knew the terrorist was going to strike (although he didn't
know where or when), and he had already considered his response.  When an
aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious building was ablaze,
he verified it was the terrorist who had struck and then rushed to the scene
and called a press conference.

"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he
proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by
national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is
the beginning."  He used the occasion - "a sign from God," he called it - to
declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people,
he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation
for their evil deeds in their religion.

Two weeks later, the first detention centre for terrorists was built in
Oranianberg to hold the first suspected allies of the infamous terrorist.
In a national outburst of patriotism, the leader's flag was everywhere,
even printed large in newspapers suitable for window display.

Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular leader had
pushed through legislation - in the name of combating terrorism and fighting
the philosophy he said spawned it - that suspended constitutional guarantees
of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus.  Police could now intercept mail
and wire-tap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without specific
charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people's
homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism.

To get his patriotic "Decree on the Protection of People and State" passed over
the objections of concerned legislators and civil libertarians, he agreed to
put a 4-year sunset provision on it: if the national emergency provoked by the
terrorist attack was over by then, the freedoms and rights would be returned to
the people, and the police agencies would be re-restrained.  Legislators would
later say they hadn't had time to read the bill before voting on it.

Immediately after passage of the anti-terrorism act, his federal police agencies
stepped up their program of arresting suspicious persons and holding them
without access to lawyers or courts.  In the first year only a few hundred
were interred, and those who objected were largely ignored by the mainstream
press, which was afraid to offend and thus lose access to a leader with such
high popularity ratings.  Citizens who protested the leader in public - and
there were many - quickly found themselves confronting the newly empowered
police's batons, gas, and jail cells, or fenced off in protest zones safely out
of earshot of the leader's public speeches. (In the meantime, he was taking
almost daily lessons in public speaking, learning to control his tonality,
gestures, and facial expressions.  He became a very competent orator.)

Within the first months after that terrorist attack, at the suggestion of
a political adviser, he brought a formerly obscure word into common usage.
He wanted to stir a "racial pride" among his countrymen, so, instead of
referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as "The Homeland,"
a phrase publicly promoted in the introduction to a 1934 speech recorded in
Leni Riefenstahl's famous propaganda movie "Triumph Of The Will."

As hoped, people's hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an
us-versus-them mentality was sewn.  Our land was "the" homeland, citizens
thought: all others were simply foreign lands.  We are the "true people,"
he suggested, the only ones worthy of our nation's concern; if bombs fall on
others, or human rights are violated in other nations and it makes our lives
better, it's of little concern to us.

Playing on this new nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French
over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that
didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither
relevant nor useful.  He thus withdrew his country from the League Of Nations
in October, 1933, and then negotiated a separate naval armaments agreement with
Anthony Eden of The United Kingdom to create a worldwide military ruling elite.

His propaganda minister orchestrated a campaign to ensure the people that he was
a deeply religious man and that his motivations were rooted in Christianity.
He even proclaimed the need for a revival of the Christian faith across
his nation, what he called a "New Christianity."  Every man in his rapidly
growing army wore a belt buckle that declared "Gott Mit Uns" - God Is With Us -
and most of them fervently believed it was true.

Within a year of the terrorist attack, the nation's leader determined that
the various local police and federal agencies around the nation were lacking
the clear communication and overall coordinated administration necessary
to deal with the terrorist threat facing the nation, particularly those
citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus probably terrorist
and communist sympathisers, and various troublesome "intellectuals" and
"liberals."  He proposed a single new national agency to protect the security
of the homeland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent
police, border, and investigative agencies under a single leader.

He appointed one of his most trusted associates to be leader of this new
agency, the Central Security Office for the homeland, and gave it a role in
the government equal to the other major departments.

His assistant who dealt with the press noted that, since the terrorist attack,
"Radio and press are at out disposal."  Those voices questioning the legitimacy
of their nation's leader, or raising questions about his checkered past,
had by now faded from the public's recollection as his central security
office began advertising a program encouraging people to phone in tips about
suspicious neighbours.  This program was so successful that the names of
some of the people "denounced" were soon being broadcast on radio stations.
Those denounced often included opposition politicians and celebrities who dared
speak out - a favourite target of his regime and the media he now controlled
through intimidation and ownership by corporate allies.

To consolidate his power, he concluded that government alone wasn't enough.
He reached out to industry and forged an alliance, bringing former executives
of the nation's largest corporations into high government positions.  A flood
of government money poured into corporate coffers to fight the war against
the Middle Eastern ancestry terrorists lurking within the homeland, and to
prepare for wars overseas.  He encouraged large corporations friendly to him
to acquire media outlets and other industrial concerns across the nation,
particularly those previously owned by suspicious people of Middle Eastern
ancestry.  He built powerful alliances with industry; one corporate ally got
the lucrative contract worth millions to build the first large-scale detention
centre for enemies of the state.  Soon more would follow.  Industry flourished.

But after an interval of peace following the terrorist attack, voices of dissent
again arose within and without the government.  Students had started an active
program opposing him (later known as the White Rose Society), and leaders of
nearby nations were speaking out against his bellicose rhetoric.  He needed a
diversion, something to direct people away from the corporate cronyism being
exposed in his own government, questions of his possibly illegitimate rise
to power, and the oft-voiced concerns of civil libertarians about the people
being held in detention without due process or access to attorneys or family.

With his number two man - a master at manipulating the media - he began a
campaign to convince the people of the nation that a small, limited war was
necessary.  Another nation was harbouring many of the suspicious Middle Eastern
people, and even though its connection with the terrorist who had set afire
the nation's most important building was tenuous at best, it held resources
their nation badly needed if they were to have room to live and maintain
their prosperity.  He called a press conference and publicly delivered an
ultimatum to the leader of the other nation, provoking an international uproar.
He claimed the right to strike pre-emptively in self-defence, and nations
across Europe - at first - denounced him for it, pointing out that it was
a doctrine only claimed in the past by nations seeking worldwide empire,
like Caesar's Rome or Alexander's Greece.

It took a few months, and intense international debate and lobbying with
European nations, but, after he personally met with the leader of the United
Kingdom, finally a deal was struck.  After the military action began, Prime
Minister Neville Chamberlain told the nervous British people that giving in
to this leader's new first-strike doctrine would bring "peace for our time."
Thus Hitler annexed Austria in a lightning move, riding a wave of popular
support as leaders so often do in times of war.  The Austrian government was
unseated and replaced by a new leadership friendly to Germany, and German
corporations began to take over Austrian resources.

In a speech responding to critics of the invasion, Hitler said, "Certain
foreign newspapers have said that we fell on Austria with brutal methods.
I can only say; even in death they cannot stop lying.  I have in the course
of my political struggle won much love from my people, but when I crossed
the former frontier [into Austria] there met me such a stream of love as I
have never experienced.  Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators."

To deal with those who dissented from his policies, at the advice of his
politically savvy advisers, he and his handmaidens in the press began a campaign
to equate him and his policies with patriotism and the nation itself.  National
unity was essential, they said, to ensure that the terrorists or their sponsors
didn't think they'd succeeded in splitting the nation or weakening its will.
In times of war, they said, there could be only "one people, one nation,
and one commander-in-chief" ("Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer"), and so his
advocates in the media began a nationwide campaign charging that critics of his
policies were attacking the nation itself.  Those questioning him were labelled
"anti-German" or "not good Germans," and it was suggested they were aiding
the enemies of the state by failing in the patriotic necessity of supporting
the nation's valiant men in uniform.  It was one of his most effective ways to
stifle dissent and pit wage-earning people (from whom most of the army came)
against the "intellectuals and liberals" who were critical of his policies.

Nonetheless, once the "small war" annexation of Austria was successfully and
quickly completed, and peace returned, voices of opposition were again raised
in the Homeland.  The almost-daily release of news bulletins about the dangers
of terrorist communist cells wasn't enough to rouse the populace and totally
suppress dissent.  A full-out war was necessary to divert public attention
from the growing rumbles within the country about disappearing dissidents;
violence against liberals, Jews, and union leaders; and the epidemic of crony
capitalism that was producing empires of wealth in the corporate sector but
threatening the middle class's way of life.

A year later, to the week, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia; the nation was
now fully at war, and all internal dissent was suppressed in the name of
national security.  It was the end of Germany's first experiment with democracy.

As we conclude this review of history, there are a few milestones worth
remembering.

27 February 2003, was the 70th anniversary of Dutch terrorist Marinus van
der Lubbe's successful firebombing of the German Parliament (Reichstag)
building, the terrorist act that catapulted Hitler to legitimacy and reshaped
the German constitution.  By the time of his successful and brief action to
seize Austria, in which almost no German blood was shed, Hitler was the most
beloved and popular leader in the history of his nation.  Hailed around the
world, he was later Time magazine's "Man Of The Year."

Most Americans remember his office for the security of the homeland, known
as the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and its SchutzStaffel, simply by its most
famous agency's initials: the SS.

We also remember that the Germans developed a new form of highly violent
warfare they named "lightning war" or blitzkrieg, which, while generating
devastating civilian losses, also produced a highly desirable "shock and
awe" among the nation's leadership according to the authors of the 1996 book
"Shock And Awe" published by the National Defence University Press.

Reflecting on that time, The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1983) left us this definition of the form of government the German
democracy had become through Hitler's close alliance with the largest German
corporations and his policy of using war as a tool to keep power: "fas-cism
(fbsh'iz'em) n.  A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the
extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership,
together with belligerent nationalism."

Today, as we face financial and political crises, it's useful to remember that
the ravages of the Great Depression hit Germany and the United States alike.
Through the 1930s, however, Hitler and Roosevelt chose very different courses
to bring their nations back to power and prosperity.

Germany's response was to use government to empower corporations and reward the
society's richest individuals, privatise much of the commons, stifle dissent,
strip people of constitutional rights, and create an illusion of prosperity
through continual and ever-expanding war.  America passed minimum wage laws
to raise the middle class, enforced anti-trust laws to diminish the power of
corporations, increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals,
created Social Security, and became the employer of last resort through programs
to build national infrastructure, promote the arts, and replant forests.

To the extent that our Constitution is still intact, the choice is again ours.
                                  -------------

   Thom Hartmann lived and worked in Germany during the 1980s, and is the
   author of over a dozen books, including "Unequal Protection" and "The Last
   Hours of Ancient Sunlight."  This article is copyright by Thom Hartmann,
   but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media
   so long as this credit is attached.
  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------


     And for those who read down this far, a final quickie from Kero ...
                         --------------------

A little old lady in a nursing home stands and raises her fist in the Rec
Centre one day and says, "Whoever can guess what's in my hand can have sex
with me tonight."

A little old man in the back of the room yells, "An elephant."

She says "Close enough."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[ End Friday humour ]



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