I guess its a guy thing
And a good time was had by all. Spent the day today playing hooky, and wearing my tour guide hat, showing Meryl and Bruce various and sundry pieces of grey painted metal around the Hampton Roads area. All the while spewing military trivia with Cliff Clavin-like clarity. Meryl brought along her brand new digital camera (and instruction booklet), and many pictures, some of which may actually get posted, were taken of the days outing. This is somewhat remarkable in that we were not detained by Naval Security in the process. Being the 'getaway driver' can be fun, in a way. While Meryl and Bruce had to head back to Richmond to attend a dinner at Meryl's synagogue, we did have an interesting conversation about my idea for dinner in the area. The place I had in mind was a 'cook your own' steak joint. Lots of fun. A big fire pit, red meat, long tongs, garlic butter...and did I mention the big open fire pit? Well,. at least two out of the three potential customers thought it was a smashing idea. The trick is to jockey the steak, the texas toast pieces, and the potato around so they all come out at about the same time. And since everyone is working on it all at the same time, it can be lots of fun with a group. Did I mention the big, really big, open fire pit? And the tongs? Anyway, stay tuned here or check out Meryl's place for further words on the "search for really big guns". I think we have a winner with the one that uses bullets as tall as the author. As for me, I already made my pick...
Yes, that is an SA-6 Transporter Erector Launcher.  Wicked at close quarters using optical guidance

p.s. No, Murray, this isn't what he bought you, either.
Tom Paine considers Second Amendment Options
With some help from Meryl, our intrepid Kiwi's Adventure Americana took up the question of personal firearms yesterday at the Tredegar Iron Works. After carefully considering his options, he settled on this little beauty of a piece, despite its low rate of fire, and difficulty in rapid retrieval from a shoulder holster.
Bruce ponders the difference between his 'rifle' and his 'gun'

Since he hasn't fully decided yet, today I'll work on marketing possibly some F-15's, F/A-18's, or a Battleship or Aircraft Carrier. UPDATE: No, Murray, this is not the present he bought for you....


I am curious: what would have the US government done, if a Mexican or a Canadian citizen had blown up a bus full of school children, while it was clear that the explosives were paid for by the Mexican or Canadian government? They are now interviewing a school boy on IDF radio, who was on the bus on his way to school. He was just operated on his leg. So far 11 dead, 29 injured in hospitals (more released), 7 seriously to very seriously. Families are still identifying the bodies, 9 so far. In another development: the Barghuti trial. He says Israel has no legal authority to put him on trial, and refuses legal representation for that reason. Fine. Shoot the fucker. And, as long as I am in this totally uncivilized mood: I am also here.
These guys are assholes. My line to a local shopkeeper that happens to be of Palestinian descent, talking about the terrorist fuckwits. His response? "At least they are fighting - and everyone can be in the IDF - compulsory service, you know". Maybe. But they don't recruit 7 year olds. This isn't 'fighting'; this is cold blooded murder. Assholes. Bibi may not be the right choice for PM, but I agree with him on one thing. Throw Yasser out, and come down HARD on these jerkwads. Saeb Erakat can carry his babywipes for him, someplace else.


RICHMOND, VIRGINIA FROM:Headquarters, Army of the Potomac. Have dug in on south bank of the James River. Curious lack of Rebel resistance. Pressing on toward Appamatox Courthouse tomorrow. We're going to hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree!
Well, this sucks
Guess we don't rate. Silent Running is NOT banned in the PRC. According to this accessibility checker, SR is "Reported as accessible in China". Lets see what we can do about THAT! Tom and I decided during a recent editorial teleconference that this is absolutely unacceptable! Mao Ze Dong shi yige wan ba dan. Great Helmsman, my butt. Emperor wannabe is more like it. And that swimming the Yangzi on his birthday stunt was a fake! Got your little red book hangin, pal. And as screwed up as Mao was, the toadies that have followed the trail of his skid marked underwear have been absolute panzies. Free Tibet! Free Tibet! And without a mail in rebate! Independant Taiwan, the only way to go! Renegade Province, my eye. The only 'Province' with any sense, if you ask us. Your fighter pilot that fucked up and got himself killed last year was a moron, not a national hero. That was a lot more of a 'hey ya'll, watch this!' stunt than a 'defense of the homeland'. Anyone that flies a fighter capable of downing a target from beyond visual range up close enough to put the tail fin in the propellor arc has tofu for brains (well, not anymore, at any rate - ha ha). What a dipstick. By the way, what IS the market price for a fresh set of freshly harvested prisoner kidneys suitable for transplant these days? And how many Party Officials get a cut of the payout? What are you wusses so afraid of the Falun Gong types for? Freedom of thought! Freedom of Religion! Quit sending the North Koreans home to eat grass soup! If they want to request asylum in an embassy - stay the hell out of the way! So, how many times you guys going to 'test' your reverse engineered POS space capsules? (have you guys invented ANYTHING in the last thousand years? You were on such a roll - pasta, gunpowder, seismographs...then it all went in the toilet!) What's the big deal? If it Roman Candles out, you can always censor the coverage and deny it happened...you guys are so good at that. Hey, you're copying the Russian spacecraft designs, why not copy the Soviet Space coverage model! Grow some cojones and put some scmuck inside for a 'spam in a can' ride! Take that "Great Leap Forward'! Ooops, tried that and fell on your faces, didn't ya. Speaking of reverse engineering, how are those cottage copyright ripoff companies turning out for you guys? Greasing the Party Palms with enough of that dirty capitalist cash to keep the party faithful in the level of decadence they've grown an affinity for? Oh, yeah, and the Chinese censor that's checking content for appropriateness for the masses only got his thankless make-work position becasue he didn't have the brains God gave a Panda (should an animal that flunks basic procreation technique be allowed to survive?), and got hired to do this becasue all the junior assistant helper janitorial positions at the ministry of something-or-other-important sounding, but really not, were filled! His powerlessness to make a decision on the matter will doubtlessly have to be referred to his equally worthless and untalented butt sniffing supervisor, who will in turn have to ask for permission and guidance from his egotistical, self important yet truly impotent boss! Think that about covers it. One more time - Free Tibet! Free Tibet!
Kiwi Tours, Unlimited.
This is an announcement of a once in a great while opportunity for a Kiwi tourist visiting from Australia to visit the lower Tidewater area of Virginia. Possibilities for the tour could include aerial demonstrations of the F-15C Eagle, sightings of multiple Aircraft Carriers, and the venue for the initial 'clash of the ironclads', Hampton Roads. Talk with your housing coordinator for this leg of your journey. She has contact information. Fast food is optional. Cheers, mate!


BIG MACS ARE DOUBLEPLUS GOOD FOR YOU The MacDonalds on 42nd St next to the Easy Internet Cafe was clearly designed by someone who had read "1984". It is tastefully decorated in Early Fascist boilerplate steel, and everyone who sits down to ingest their toadburgers finds themselves facing a viewscreen which canot be turned off. It pumps out MacDonalds corporate propaganda, including touch-screen quizes on such topics as "Which is the only continent that does NOT have a MacDonalds?" (A: Antarctica) "How many burgers does MacDonalds serve in the United States each day?" (A: Way too many, god some of these people are such lardasses) and "Why should we follow the teachings of Ronald MacDonald and kill whomsoever is deemed a heretic against the Sacred Golden Arches?" (A: Because the voices in our head can be trusted implicitly! All Hail Ronald! All Hail Ronald!") They don't seem to have instituted Hate Sessions against Emmanuel (Hamburgler) Goldstein just yet, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.
RACIAL POLITICS I never read "Bonfore of the Vanities", but I did see the film. I remember thinking that the portrayal of New York politics as being entirely based on race sounded a tad overdone. But having been here for a total of three days, it's time for the journalist in me to do the expected "Soul of the Nation" article, and as my main experience of New York has been riding the subway, I really ought to use that as a metaphor. It's that or quote taxi drivers, which is the other standard technique. Of course there was the experience of getting my lip split open by an actor while participating in an improvisational comedy sketch, but perhaps the less said about that the better. Riding the subway in New York is an interesting and educational experience. Despite what people may have told you, it is not neccessarily an automatic death sentence if you ride it after sunset. But you do have a sort of built-in "threat meter" at all times. And race is a key factor in determining the threat level. It has to be said, because it's true, and no amount of obfuscatory platitudes are enough to hide this. A white guy getting on does not trip the threat meter the way a black guy does. Oh sure, there are lots of other considerations - young, well built white guy comes in at about a three, while black women generally don't set it off at all unless they're teenagers and in a pack. One of those rates about a 3.5. White males in a pack might rate a 4, unless they're drunk, in which case it goes up to 6. Elderly of all races get a free pass to a zero threat rating, as do identifiably Jewish passengers. Hispanics tend to rate slightly higher than whites, but it's black males, especially younger, fitter black males that tend to make a white person's internal threat meter start rising past 8. If there's a bunch of them, drunk, and boisterous, and you're the only white person in the compartment, you're into "mayday, mayday, we're going down" territory. This is, I have to stress, merely the way some people feel. It is not an indication of the actual level of threat. I haven't seen a single violent incident on the subway yet, and the statistics are actually very encouraging. The person I'm staying with has never once been mugged, and she's lived here all her life. But a sense of insecurity has nothing to do with reality, and everything to with perception. And white people tend to percieve black people as posing more of a potential threat than any other group. I've seen an interesting phenomenon on the subway, in which some black males rather obviously splay themselves out in such a way as to impinge on a white person's space, often a woman. I have yet to see a white person do the same. And it's done in such a way that it's clearly not accidental or coincidental. It's actually rather aggressive, and everyone in the compartment seems (to my eye at any rate) to be very aware of it. I don't know what the perception of potential threat is from a black person's perspective, and I'd be interested to hear about that. Some of the beggars, almost invariably black, are very aware of the way they are seem as potentially threatening, and go to great lengths to appear perfectly harmless. Last night, on the way back from the improv comedy debacle, there was one guy who tried humour as a way of defusing the tension. He stood up on the seats in the middle of the platform at the 42nd St station and shouted, "Excuse me ladies and Gentlemen! Here is a public service announcement! Give! Me! Money!" And then he went into not a bad standup routine about being a homless beggar on the streets of New York. And blow me down if he actually wasn't too bad. The only line I can remember was "I'm so poor, I can't even pay attention!" When the number 1 Uptown train to the Bronx arrived at the platform, we all got on, and so did he. He gave me a quarter and told me to "play along" and so when he did his schtick in the compartment and put his hat out, I put the quarter in. "See! Jews know how to reward good comedy! Now why don't you all do the same?" Sure, he was a black male who was begging, but he did it in such a disarming way that no-one felt in the slightest bit concerned. Which perhaps supports my contention about the percieved threat. Would he have had to go to such lengths if white people and black people felt completely comfortable with each other? Perhaps not. Tomorrow - why Puerto Rican girls are hot! Hot! HOT!


TONIGHT'S DOOR PRIZE IS - A SMACK IN THE MOUTH! Terrific. I'm in town for less than 48 hours and I already have a split lip! No, I wasn't chased through the subways by rampaging crack-heads, there wasn't a shootout, and the police weren't called. Judith Weiss and I went to an experimental comedy performance by a Chicago-based troup, OCYC, tonight. Davka - we sit in the front row. Heh heh, audience participation time, guess who gets chosen to be a caracter in the final sketch? I really should have seen it coming. Tgey gace me my lines on paper, I was playing a gay gigolo (the kippa was a dead giveaway) on a dating show. At the end of the sketch (which I did perfectly adquately in as a mater of fact) one of the characters pulls out a gun and shoots everyone else dead. Thinking that as this was improv, I really out to improvise, I started heading for the exit. As I move forard, the actor still standing tried to put his hand out to stop me, as he needed to get out a final speech before shooting himself, but he forgot that he was holding a bottle of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup (don't even ask) which cracked my lip against my teeth. There was a pretty impressive display of blood, but we managed to complete the act. The poor guy was VERY apologetic afterwards, and the troupe bought Judith and I each a drink, and promised to send me one of their t-shirts. They kept asking if I was okay, and very tremendously solicituous. Later that night, riding on the number 1 train back uptown, I realised a possible reason for their extreme niceness. According to several ads displayed in the compartment, I could be entitled to a Large Cash Setlement! Good for them I come from a non-litigious society. Besides, these guys look like they might be worth something like $25 plus change collectively. I figure what with the free drink and something to blog about, a swollen lip is pretty small potatoes. As they say - dying is easy, comedy is hard.
HOWLS OF DERISIVE LAUGHTER BRUCE! Standing on 42nd St, looking up at the pretty coloured lights of Times Square, rain bucketing down out of the darkling sky, anonymous crowds pressing past, umbrellas held handily at eye-level, hearing in my head something like "...a new life for you and you family, on the off-world colonies", and half expecting a police flyer to touch down and a young Harrison Ford to climb out in search of replicants, my eye was caught by the news ticker. There was bad news (Abba Eban dead at 87), good (El Al hijacking averted by armed guards) and the truly weird. Earlier today, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a Little Green Footballs get-together at Katz's deli in the East Villager, and I repreated an earlier line from this blog, viz: The enemy wants us to do one of two things. Convert to Islam - or die. And what came whizzing past on the giant news ticker over Times Square just now? "Al_Jazeera has an Al Qaeda letter promising more attacks on New York and Washington unless Americans convert to Islam". See? Even the enemy backs me up! Just then I saw a guy walking along the street wearing a t-short with the legend "Hey Osama! Don't hunt what you can't kill!" Judith Weiss from Kesher Talk and I both looked at the news ticker and snorted in derision. Now we're at the Easy Everything between 8th St and Broadway, where we're toasty warm and dry, snacking high on the food chain and blogging on the magic white-man writing box while Osama hides in a cave awaiting his inevitable fiery demise at the hands of a remote-controlled Imperial Probe Droid. Don't hunt what you can't kill. Amen, exunt omnes...