Archive - Sep 12, 2011


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Memo to all and sundry: I WAS RIGHT.

I've thought for a while now that I should do this - that if You Are Dumb Dot Net actually lasted through 9/11/11, that I would use this space to republish something I wrote fairly early in my web-writing career, when I had a general-purpose personal site in hand-coded HTML that included some things that would eventually evolve into You Are Dumb Dot Net.

Most of it was disposable topical comedy, but the one thing I'm most proud of from that time was a piece I wrote on September 21, 2001, just one day after George W. Bush addressed the nation. We were smack-dab in the middle of our national unity-fest, when we were all supposed to come together, and unite behind "our president", and I wasn't having any of it, frankly. So in my even-then-classic call-and-response style, I took apart chunks of what Dubya said, and told people what I thought it meant. Short version - nothing good.

And as you'll see, I was dead on. Oh, I was a lot less jaded back then. I still thought people could do something if they just woke the fuck up. It was adorable. But I was still a cynic, and when it comes to politics and national policy, cynics make the best oracles. So enjoy this ten-year-old ranting, and let's all hope I'm not this spot-on about Rick Perry's chances of becoming President.

September 21, 2001
Since You Weren't Listening...

In the growing national rush to masturbate over President Bush's speech last night, I would like to take this moment to point out some choice quotes from the address last night. Remember, speeches like this are like ads. Nothing is put into them by accident. Every word, every phrase, every nuance is calculated to achieve the desired effect. And boy, did it work. Everyone's jumping on board except for a few of us America-hating leftist cynics. Well, this column won't be illegal under the Homeland Security provisions for at least a few more weeks yet, so let's dig deep, with a cynical eye, at what Our Leader said last night. The comedy will follow.

All of this was brought upon us in a single day, and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.

Rhetoric. Buildings were under attack, not freedom. But this lays the groundwork for the inevitable "we good them bad" dichotomy that is to come.

But its goal is not making money. Its goal is remaking the world and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.

See, the American goal is both of these things, not just the second one. That's why we're better.

And tonight the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban. Deliver to United States authorities all of the leaders of al-Qaida who hide in your land. Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. And hand over every terrorist and every person and their support structure to appropriate authorities. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating. These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.

The key words here are "all", "immediately", and "permanently". With this statement, Bush asks for the impossible to be completed, gives no timetable for when it is to be completed, and provides himself with the excuse he needs for whatever action he decides on. It's like your boss calling you into his office, ordering you to "bring him all the files", and telling you you'll be fired if you don't.

It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

In other words, it will not end. Can someone, somewhere, please explain to me how an entire nation of people, at least half of which viewed Bush as an incompetent, bumbling, privileged, drunken fool who only got into power on a fluke and Daddy's name, now suddenly think he'll be able to lead a successful campaign to eliminate terrorism from the planet? Anyone? Bueller?

It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.

Even if it looks like we're failing, we're secretly succeeding... um, in ways we can't tell you about. You wouldn't know her. She lives in Canada. We did it at summer camp. Yeah, that's the ticket.

I ask for your patience with the delays and inconveniences that may accompany tighter security and for your patience in what will be a long struggle.

Pay no attention to the federal agents shoving plungers up the asses of the swarthy just on general principle.

We will come together to give law enforcement the additional tools it needs to track down terror here at home.

We will spy on all of you, because we want to, and that pesky probable cause kept getting in our way.

The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war. And we know that God is not neutral between them.

You like freedom, don't you? And justice? That's me, baby. Even God's on my side, really. Better not say anything bad about me, because after all, you don't oppose freedom, justice, and God, do you? Because then you'd be in favor of cruelty, fear, and Satan.

There's the iron fist in the velvet glove, people. Ignore my commentary, even. Just focus on the quotes. They're all verbatim from the transcript. Cut and pasted. Your president said these things. Think about them. Ask yourself what they mean. Ask yourself what they -might- mean. Then ask yourself if you really want to throw unconditional support behind this.

So, ten years later, everything was right except that last, heartfelt paragraph. I actually asked people to focus, to think, to ask questions, and to decide, based on the evidence beforehand, whether or not to support Dubya's march to inevitable, endless war on the Middle East and civil liberties - all wars Obama, by the way, has been largely unwilling to stop.

A little over three years later, I just started calling everyone fucking morons. It's more accurate AND more satisfying.

And since you're such nice readers, and it sucks to end on a downer like that, the part where I referred to "comedy later"? Well, here's some post-9/11 comedy I thought was really funny ten years ago. And still think is pretty funny now. This was based on actual, real-life controversy over the Twin Towers and Microsoft Flight Simulator, because, well, we were very, very dumb after 9/11.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Changed

Out of sensitivity for the victims of the World Trade Center tragedy, Microsoft announced today it would be modifying its popular Flight Simulator program to remove all references to planes and buildings.

News reports following the terrorist attacks last week demonstrated that you could, if you chose, use Flight Simulator to simulate flying a plane, and even simulate flying that plane near, and in some cases into, buildings.

The new version of Flight Simulator, simply called "Advanced Simulator", removes all those unnecessary, insensitive references to planes and buildings, and instead puts a happy little fishie on the screen. Hello, fishie! You don't support international terrorism at all, you cute little fishie. The fishie is your friend.

As with earlier versions of Flight Simulator, the fishie will be compatible with advanced joystick/rudder/pedal setups, however, all the sticks, buttons, levers, and pedals will do is simulate a tap on the simulated screen.

After receiving complaints from people claiming that a finger crashing into the rectangular tank was too eerily similar to the plane crashing into the World Trade Center, the above feature has been removed by Microsoft between the previous paragraph and this one.

In addition, since that last paragraph was written, Microsoft has received complaints that the happy little fishie, moving freely in three-dimensional space, was much too plane-like in this time of grief and sensitivity. The happy little fishie has been killed, and replaced by a lumpy rock.

Ten years later, and I finally realize there's a fucking mistake in it, too. "simulated screen" needs to read "simulated fish tank". But there it is, warts and slightly-excessive-Monty-Python influence and all.