Monthly Archives: October 2007

Ask Montezuma Jeremy Rosen

Ask Montezuma: Tiberium 2007

It’s the Answer Man from Tenochtitlan

Montezuma

Montezuma was once an international superstar on the fishing lure design and manufacturing scene, but has been overshadowed in recent years by Sterling Peoples from the USA. He now decorates industrial bolts on Sundays.

Dear Montezuma,
How is it that fish can breathe underwater? I mean, there’s no air underwater, just water. Why aren’t they all dead?
Mike D
Brooklyn, NY

Dearest Miked,
Before I commence a response to your question, I do believe it behooves you to examine whales, which are the largest of all extant fish. Recent shoddy research may hint at an even larger fish, the megaloecanth, which likely became extinct sometime around one hundred million years ago. Needless to say, you won’t be finding megaloecanth batter dipped and deep fried down at the Red Lobster. After all, each of its kidneys was the size of a helicopter.

Dear Montezuma,
Currently, I am interested in two different women. One is, I think, much better suited to my personality and we get along really well. But the other one is way, way hotter. Worst still is that they’re sisters. What should I do?
Rob Godfrey
Pensacola, FL

Robert,
I disagree with your statement that one sister is “way, way” hotter than the other. Unless these were only half-siblings, they should have a near identical genotype and closely related phenotypes, therefore one might be hotter than the other, but could certainly not be “way,” much less “way, way,” hotter than the other. Genetics thus ruled aside, we can say the relative hotness of these women is caused by nurture, not by nature. The other one must actually just be dressing or presenting in a more sexually proactive way, a style laymen refer to a smutty. the answer is simple, just convince the one with a good personality to start dressing like a call girl.

Dear Montezuma,
My airplane is about to crash. Which control opens the flaps?
Martina Damage,
Vestibule, OH

Martina,
So good to hear from you again. On planes manufactured domestically from 1934-2003, the flap control controls the flaps state. On later models or foreign designs, consult your aircraft manufacturer. Give my love to Mitch and the girls.

Dear Montezuma,
So, as most of my friends (including Bobby, Stu and Tommy, also Geoffery, Abigail, Belinda, Mike and Def, and the downtown gang; Marissa, Mandy, Mike and Fred and Blue Face Pete) know I like geography. If it’s called “The United States,” doesn’t visiting one mean that you have visited them all?
Fleming Roatblok
East Prussia, NV

Flemmie, contrary to what today’s mathematically-educated advertisement executives throw into a multitude of commercials, not everything occasions a transitive property. For instance, there is no transitive property of whales. Captain Ahab never shouted to his crew that he needed to get any old whale. Oh no, only the white one would do. Geography is like whales.

Hey Monty,
I was listening to Bach’s “Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor” the other day and I wanted to know if you thought Bach was a showoff for putting the Fugue part in. Also, do you prefer the Ormandy or the Stokowski orchestration?
Brian Brinehold
Neolapatopolis, NJ

B.B. If anyone is attempting to be a showoff in this situation, it is you. You might even have succeeded were you to have made mention of the organ recording made of this work by Michael Murray on the Methuen Organ.

Dear Montezuma,
Why can’t you build a time machine and then go back and make it so that JFK was never assassinated? or you know, kill Hitler before he turned evil or something?
Lucy Hardcore
Burian, TN

Oh, Lucy, there you go again. The reason you cannot build a time machine is that you dropped out of high school in tenth grade, have no knowledge of physics and are as mechanically adept as a robot which has been specifically designed and programmed to not build time machines. The reason scientists cannot invent a time machine is that the amount of energy required to super-cool the magnets is greater than the energy produced by the functional wave generator.

Dear Montezuma,
I was recently in Paris and had a chance to peruse the permanent collection of the Musee de Louvre, which includes, of course, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. As I gazed at the rather modest creation behind all that bulletproof glass, a thought occurred to me: big schmeil. Sure it’s a decent painting, but I’ve seen better, arguably even by Leo himself. My question is who, when and why, decided that this was to be the most renowned work of art in the Western world?
Cosgrove Watt
Brooklyn, NY

Costco,
In 1808, the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte conviened the first international Council d’Arts Internationale, which was attented by such notable artists and intellectuals as Rosber, Nitãn, Le Guardan, Miphon and Thomas Jefferson. Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich got so drunk at the opening ball that he stripped off all his clothes and was later found naked in a fountain. It is rumored that later that night, he and several others attempted to play croquet using flamingoes as mallets, in a scene which may have inspired Lewis Carrol to write Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. While many critics may scoff at Alice for being a childish yarn or a drug-induced tale, later critics have recognized it for its rich mathematical imagery. Thus, is it considered the most renowned work of literature in the Western world.

Montezuma’s Helpful Hints for the Automotive Enthusiast

There are many things one should not do with one’s automobile, whether it be of the car, truck, motored-cycle, or irregular variety. An entire class of things, in fact, revolves around sand. For instance, one should not coat one’s transmission in sand. Another bad thing to do is to fill up the seating area of your automobile with sand (because then you couldn’t get in). You may, of course, make colorful sand paintings on the hood of your car, but don’t expect any awards. You’re probably no good at it.

Faith DaBrooke Scott Birdseye

TheSTART Ciao, Baby

music review

TheSTART
Ciao, Baby
2007 Metropolis Records

Los Angeles based indie band TheSTART has just released their third album Ciao, Baby. While the previous albums Shakedown! and Initiation skillfully combined pop, punk, dance, industrial and new wave, Aimee Echo and Jamie Miller have changed their tune and their tunes slightly with their 2007 effort. The self-produced album features a stripped down, straight forward new wave sound that still occasionally bounces back to TheSTART’s signature industrial layers and crowd-pleasing pop roots.

Positive Elements

“Runaway” states that hard work is the key to success and that nothing is free. Aimee Echo admits that there are no excuses for her sins and negative behaviors and that her sins have left her spiritually bruised.

Spiritual Content
A romantic partner is described as sucking a woman’s soul. The singer asks her lover to “purify my endless sin” and seeks redemption and salvation from this obviously flawed person. On “Millionaire” singer Aimee Echo talks about selling her soul in exchange for romantic love and states that God has forsaken her. Echo states on one song that nothing can bring her down from the heights she’s reached and that Hell’s flames cannot touch her. A lover is described as a “demon in disguise.” Sex is described as a miracle.

Sexual Content

While there is no graphic sexual content on Ciao, Baby, almost every song on the album revolves around romantic relationships, specifically failed romantic relationships.

Violent Content

“Blood on My Hands” and “Runaway” mention shooting loaded firearms, breaking bones and blood as metaphors for a failed romantic relationship. One song mentions a revolution and contains the repeated refrain that Paris is burning. War and battles are used as metaphors for intimate relationships.

start

Drug or Alcohol Content
Two songs mention empty bottles or the singer’s laments on the negative results from drinking and alcoholism.

Crude or Profane Language

Ciao, Baby features almost no swearing whatsoever. The word “tool” is used as an insult.

Other Negative Elements
Many songs reference lying or dishonesty within relationships, often as putting on a mask, a disguise or a front as a way to escape from negative emotions. “Just a Fantasy” is a song filled with loathsome insults and disparaging comments toward an ex-lover.

Conclusion

Lyricist Aimee Echo unfortunately seems to revel in misery and sadness, almost to the point of pride. She wears her broken past and romantic failures on her sleeve and crafts virtually ever song around the themes of dejection, misery, rejection and pain. It seems that Echo has at least discovered half the truth; that a life of sexual hedonism leads only to pain. But she has yet to learn the converse of that lesson; that Christ’s love can liberate us from the cycle of pain and that, ironically, serious commitment to a monogamous partner is truly emotionally liberating. While Christians will experience the emotional wreckage of failed relationships, they need not dwell on that pain as we can always find joy and real redemption in God’s love. For teens, the pain of a breakup or rejection is magnified by the stress of major life changes, and during that tumultuous time teens need to take comfort in God’s love instead of putting TheSTART on the stereo and dwelling in their pain. Full of darkness and misery, this is one album that your family should say ciao, auf vedersain, goodbye to.

For More on TheSTART visit their website: www.thisisthestart.com.

Jeremy Rosen

I Can Read Ayn Rand

Elizabethia-based publisher John Galt Junior Books has been in the children’s book business for over 30 years, releasing stories rooted firmly in the philosophy of Ayn Rand. JGJ Books lives by the credo that even the least-productive, least-deserving members of society should be given a chance to fall in love with selfishness. While their entertainment and educational value for children is dubious, an adult could spend hours of fun with these books.

Take one of the imprint’s first releases “Little Atlas & Me.” The book features the publisher’s eponymous hero, John Galt Junior, as the “Little Atlas” of the metaphor, and his hapless companion Joey Looter. John first introduces Joey to the principles of objectivism when he takes Joe’s crayons. While Joey merely eats the implements, John is the class’ best artist (he explains) and so deserves to have the crayons more than the talentless Joey. John also takes a swipe at collectivism by castigating his teacher for providing the crayons for the class rather than forcing them to come up with creative tools on their own recognizance. Just not in so many words.

The most disturbing part is, of course, when the entire class gets together towards the end to help out a classmate’s family in need. The three page Galt soliloquy which follows centres around self-reliance, creativity, and the squelching of compassion. Before long, John takes class-clown Benny Rearden with him on strike under the jungle gym.

A short list of some of JGJ Books’ titles offers further insight:

“Sharing is Evil”
“Do Unto Others (As Much as You Can)”
“Goodnight Communism”
“The Bridge to Personal Freedom of Choice”
“A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Kids About Sex the Rand Way”

In “The Selfish Elf” one of Santa’s elves must save society by forcing the world’s children to work for their Christmas Gifts, in a strange twist on the traditional saving Christmas tale. The Selfish Elf creates his own factory in which to create talent-appropriate toys, thus putting Santa Claus’ factory out of business, saving civilization, and saving Christmas for the productive denizens of the world.

rand

The firm takes us on another wild romp with “The Water Fountain.” Young Howie Roark wants a drinking fountain at the local Mall, but the owners of the property (Randians themselves) refuse to put on there for him. Our courageous Howie works all summer cleaning boats at the marina with his new boat-cleaning invention and eventually raises enough money to purchase his own fountain and lease mall space in which to install it. He plans to refuse to let anyone use the water fountain, but when he arrives after its weekend installation to discover that it has been painted a different colour than he specified, he runs it over with a security golf cart instead.

Of course John Galt Junior Books doesn’t leave out your youngest ones who are just learning how to read. For them the venerable publisher provides stunning titles like “One Rand, Two Rand, Red Rand, Blue Rand,” which was somehow able to evade the estate of Theodor Geisel and accusations of hypocrisy and plagiarism to become one of their best-selling titles ever. The book teaches counting using the remarkably frightening visage of Ms. Rand, words such as “productive achievement” and “mind-independent reality,” and teaches all about social value through the ridicule of the machinists, carpenters, and anyone else who works for others (especially with the hands).

Most startling is the young adult book “Randalaughandahalf” which is ostensibly a joke book for teens. Our favourite rip-tickler from this tome is a standard chicken crossing the road joke whose punchline is “ to acquire further materials with which to construct society’s next great invention.” Another is a standard “Yo Momma” joke which we think might just be a compliment in the Randian universe.

“Yo Momma’s so ugly she’s forced to stay at home and make bolt-application in car productions lines more efficient.” The knock-knock jokes aren’t much better and we won’t repeat them here. We’re sure you can just imagine.

It’s not exactly clear how this publishing house has survived for three decades, or who is buying the books it does sell, but one thing’s for sure: these books suck for children. Everything about Randian Objectivism is faulty if not downright incorrect, and to indoctrinate children (or attempt to do so) with colourful pictures and familiar stories is inexcusable, unless of course you happen to be pure, correct and powerful, in which case the regular rules of children’s publishing don’t apply to you.

Jeremy Rosen Scott Birdseye

Bad Idea?

Bad Idea

Humanity has thought up a lot of bad ideas. Some lost a few investors a little bit of money and some wrought disasters far-reaching enough to destroy a major civilization. Some bad ideas are only obviously bad in hindsight; others cause the observer to wonder what, or if, the people were thinking. Sometimes you’re lucky and you recognize a bad idea for what it is beforehand, and sometimes you’re unlucky and realize it only just after that point of no return where you’re forced to watch helplessly as the calamity unfolds. No matter what though, people love bad ideas; we’re drawn to them, we can’t shake them and we sometimes cling to them desperately long after we know just how bad they are.
So here, in no particular order, are ten of the worst bad ideas yet unleashed upon humanity.

bad idea

“Black Slavery”
What do you do when you find a whole new continent that needs to be farmed, but shipping peasants over from Europe would be prohibitively expensive and no one really wants to come over anyway? You enslave the new land’s population is what you do. Except, in this case, the population has already been wiped out by virulent diseases you brought over. What you do then is you find another continent, vastly expand its slave trade and ship slaves over to the new continent to be the backbone of your new agrarian economy. Turns out someone did this back in the 16th Century. It worked well and at the time seemed like a good idea; except that after a couple of centuries all the areas without slavery and rich, cash crop agrarian economies compensated by industrializing. And, hey, y’know what? It turns out that industrial regions can wallop agrarian ones economically and militarily. Plus, after slavery is over, all the former slaves end up sticking around as an angry underclass gifted the delights of racism and it takes another couple centuries before anyone’s anywhere near equal. Sure, you colonists got someone to cut your sugarcane for you on the cheap and you’re dead now, but was it really worth that crap economy, social unrest, and mass slaughter of your descendants? Probably not.

bad idea

“Operation Barbarossa”
It’s 1941. You’re Hitler and you’ve just conquered Europe. The end of the war is in sight, in fact, and all you have to do is turn your full military might against the one enemy you have left and finish them off for good. Luckily for you, that one enemy is the United Kingdom; broke, ill-prepared, militarily weak and ripe for the plucking. But instead of a quick and easy victory, perhaps the greatest victory in the whole history of warfare, you (Hitler) decide you (Hitler) have an idea. A bad idea. Invade Russia and fight a two front war. In fact, it was such a bad idea that you (Hitler) yourself had warned against it in Mein Kampf. In the end the bad idea costs thirty million people their lives, loses the Germans the war and cedes Eastern Europe to the Soviet Empire leading to the Cold War and the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction. That’s a bad idea.

bad idea

“Failing to Adopt the Steam Engine”
Remember in 200 AD when the Roman ironclads sailed up the Yangtze and the Roman Legions conquered the Han Dynasty and set up a new province with the capital in Pekinginium? No, you wouldn’t remember that at all because it didn’t happen. The Romans never adopted the steam engine even though toymaker Hero of Alexandria demonstrated a working model of it in 62 AD. Granted, even with Hero’s steam wheel it probably would’ve taken a few generations before you could take a first class rail coach along the Appian Way, but we’ll never know, will we? Of course, this is one of those bad ideas that was only obviously a bad idea after seventeen centuries of hindsight, but still you think someone would’ve noticed, after seeing steam power being used to move things, that steam power could be used to move things. You know what they adopted instead of the steam engine? Hero’s vending machine. Even that they didn’t use for long.

bad idea

“Abandoning Vinland”
When your homeland consists of tundra, unaerable forests and a few fjords that are warm for some of the summer months, you’d think you’d jump on the sort of real estate deal the Norse found around 1000 AD. Instead of eking out a desperate existence in foggier, glacier strewn northern wastelands, they could have had New Foundland and New England; both cold, but still almost infinitely better than Greenland. Instead of settling and bringing more people over though, the Vikings decided to stop off for a bit to make use of local timber for ship repairs. Failing to do what 500 years later would get Columbus a national holiday and two state capitals named for him, the Vikings stayed a couple of months and then left, never to return again despite the abundance of grapes. Perhaps they didn’t realize that they had discovered a vast new continent or perhaps they were just scared of Skraelings. Ooh…Skraelings.

bad idea

“Hunting the New World Megafauna into Extinction”
It’s understandable that after trekking across Asia, the Bering Land Bridge and the Yukon, you’d be kind of hungry. Who wouldn’t be? And apparently saber-toothed tigers, mammoths, horses, gazelles, elephants, giant land sloths and armadillos are like potato chips. You can’t eat just one. So the new Americans, who weren’t quite yet native, killed all the big animals from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Thus the Incas were forced to eat guinea pigs for lunch. Plus they never had horses for cavalry or work teams and making the same out of llamas was just a pain in the ass. What’s worse is that later, all the Americans died from a infestations of crowd diseases likely because they never had close contact with big animals like the Europeans did and getting near llamas was to risk your neck. It’s likely that Urgo and Mathop, as they killed the last of the giant ground sloths, never thought their actions would lead directly to the fall of the Aztec Empire millennia later. The good idea would have been to keep at least a couple of those big sloths around in case of emergency.

bad idea

“Cancelling Firefly”
After Joss Whedon created one of the big hits of television history, the Fox network picked up his new show: a cowboy western, space opera type thing called Firefly. The network executives, realizing that they gave this guy a slot because he had already produced one of TV’s most memorable shows, decided that he must have known nothing about television. So, they showed a few of the episodes they had paid for, aired them out of order and then canceled it after a few weeks. Of course, since Joss Whedon must have known nothing about writing a television show, he had legions of die-hard fans who made Firefly the most popular canceled TV series since Star Trek. Whedon eventually made a financially successful movie based on the canceled show, and instead of what could have been one of the most profitable TV shows in history, Fox got Oliver Bean, The War at Home, John Doe, Titus, Andy Richter Controls The Universe, Keen Eddie, Undeclared, and Cedric the Entertainer Presents. And Firefly fans, each year, hold conventions and Serenity viewings year after year at which they, incidentally, spend loads of cash.

bad idea

“Excommunicating Galileo”
For some damn reason, the Catholic Church was opposed to the idea of the Earth going around the Sun. Perhaps it contradicted Biblical literalism, or perhaps they didn’t like some upstart astronomer horning in on their monopoly on Truth turf. Either way, they were obviously happy to murder a fellow because he happened to write down what he observed of the natural universe. Galileo was a smart guy. Not only was he smart enough to deduce that the Earth moved around the Sun and that Jupiter had moons, he was also smart enough to recant it all when angry soldiers showed up at his house and told him they’d torture and kill him horribly and painfully if he didn’t deny it all. And what did Mother Church get out of all this? Not much. They shut up Galileo for a few years, but they couldn’t shut up everyone and in the end, five hundred years later, after a long, slow retreat of their power and influence, they had to admit they were wrong. Unfortunately, they also spawned this whole ridiculous pseudo-science concept where some Christians believe they have to deny science if it disagrees with their view of Biblical literalism. Many of the greatest discoveries of science were made by religious people seeking to understand God’s handiwork, but thanks to the Catholics, now many Christians see science as the enemy of faith and happily wander down the path of idiotic superstition.

bad idea

“Communism”
Back in the 19th Century it seemed, to Marx and Engels, a good idea that the workers should directly control the means of production. It seemed like a good idea to them and to a few others as well. The only problem is that it’s not a good idea. In fact it’s a rather bad idea because the means of production don’t spring from nowhere. Someone has to buy them. Someone has to invest capital in building a factory before the workers can punch in. In fact, the capitalist has to pay for that punch clock before anyone can actually punch in. That works in a capitalist society where you can kill the capitalist after he’s paid for the factory and then take it over and introduce communism. But, it never worked that way. Communism, in fact, only took hold in countries like Russia, China or Cuba, where no one had ever bothered to spend the money to build a lot of factories. That meant that someone had to build the factories and pay for the machines and time clocks, and that meant that the leading communists had to steal from the people to build the factories. Unfortunately, the leading communists made a habit of stealing from the people and the worker’s utopia never quite worked out. Marx may have said a class revolution was inevitable, but it wasn’t. Instead it was just another bad idea. Capitalist workers, on the other hand, can buy a share of that factory they work in. No, really, it’s called a stock. Look into it sometime, Karl.

bad idea

“Pre-1920s Medicine”
For perhaps millions of years people have been getting sick, injured and dead. For at least ten thousand years other people have been trying to help out the sick, injured and even the dead. But, until about 1920 they were not doing a good job at all. In fact, what they were doing was basically guessing. Just guessing, not even educated guesses, not even guestimates. Just random, shot in the dark, guess work. Needless to say, it didn’t work very well. The main bad idea, beyond just the usual tinctures and potions (which often involved dung), was to remove blood from the sick person’s body. Apparently they had never seen anyone bleed to death. No one from Socrates onward thought that it might be a good idea to emphasize the keeping of blood inside the body. Yeah, everything from stabbing people with needles, to dunking them in water, to sawing off limbs, to running electrodes through them was a bad idea that shouldn’t have required the benefit of hindsight. Someone probably should have perhaps examined a sick person or looked a few feet over to the pile of dead ex-patients before sticking another needle in someone’s brain in another ill fated attempt to cure the common cold. These are just bad ideas and it shouldn’t have taken twenty centuries or more to figure them out.

bad idea

“That Girl”
You know her. She’s got no job, steals your money, is insane, jealous and vindictive. Chances are she’ll screw you over and then screw your friends and then screw them over. Not only that, but she isn’t that smart, she isn’t that interesting, she’s manipulative, and she cries in public just to get attention. And yet, you can’t help yourself, can you? You just dive right in, time and time again. Even though you know she’s a bad idea from day one, it doesn’t matter because she’s hot and she’s easy. And she’s a train wreck and a terrible idea. No, she’s never brought down an empire, but as far as bad ideas go, That Girl still ranks up there. But, she is hot.

Ads Scott Birdseye

Ugly Knuckles Got You Down?

quigaw