Jan 24

Friday Crap Roundup XXXIII: Crap I Like

When I started SB nearly a year ago the intent was to supplement what I wrote at Cracked. Unfortunately, as of today said contributions at Cracked comprise entirely of a single Photoplasty entry. I haven’t even sent them a proposal in months. It’s very much a lack of desire on my part, and also because I think they’ve slipped a bit recently. Don’t get me wrong, they still produce great stuff from time to time. I’m just not “feeling” them as much anymore.

halflife3

Too many movie and video game articles I frankly don’t give a rat’s ass about.
Image credit: Valve Corporation

That said, there’s plenty of other good stuff out there. That’s a good thing, given what kind of a slacker I am.

Continue reading

Sep 27

Friday Crap Roundup XXX

It’s been nearly a month since the last FCR. One would think I’d have plenty to write about today, but eh, not so much. Dredging the Internet for the awesome and the absurd hasn’t been a real high priority lately.

Varuna

Although this article on Proto-Indo-European clearly falls into the former category.

Still, there’s enough going on to warrant a 30th installment.

Continue reading

Jun 27

In Search of a Larger Stream

I spent today doing something resembling real work. Shocking, isn’t it?

Over the past 24 hours SB and my other sites have earned a grand total of … 13 cents. Since I don’t live in Bangladesh, I need to improve upon that number.

Idahoterrpen

Contrary to popular belief, Idaho isn’t that cheap.
Image credit: Jimmy Emerson

Unfortunately, I’ve run into some problems ….

Continue reading

May 11

Those Damn Ads

I’ve been on the Internet in some form for nearly 20 years. Back then the World Wide Web looked like this:

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“Graphics? Are you mad? You’ll crash the entire campus with those!”
Image credit: Russell Boltz

I often miss those days. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) was in ASCII text. Social networking? That’s what a Telnet-based BBS was for. I still have an account at one. You should go visit them. They’re lonely.

Before 1996 or so there was a definite Wild West feel to being online, especially if you didn’t tie yourself down to some heinous monstrosity like AOL. If you knew what you were doing there were plenty of ways to interact with interesting people worldwide on a completely noncommercial basis.

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And you were never, ever short on coasters.
Image credit: techfun

Sadly, those days are long gone. While I’m all for making a buck online, I find it amazing that corporate America is still so bloody clueless about it all these years later. Banner ads? No one looks at those anymore. Pop-ups? Just about any decent web browser can block those. Video spots? Better keep those under 15 seconds, or we’re outta there.

Take YouTube as an example. Given that approximately 99.97 percent of the population clicks that “Skip Ad” button as soon as they see it, I wonder why people bother paying to put up ads upwards of two minutes long, knowing damn well virtually no one will watch more than the first five seconds.

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“What were they selling? Who knows? Who cares? Play ‘Gangnam Style’ dammit!”

Some advertisers have grown wise to this and (I assume) plunk down more cash so YouTube will run their entire 15-second ad without a skip option. To YouTube’s credit I haven’t seen them force anything longer, at least not yet. Fifteen seconds is at the upper end of my tolerance, I’ll say that.

If you want something really irritating, check out those sites linked at Cracked and elsewhere which feature articles such as “15 Celebrities Who Are Living with Serious Medical Conditions.” You know, those sites so chock full of ads they take forever to load only to provide you with an absolute bare minimum of content? I had to sit through an entire Wendy’s commercial today, just to find out Kim Kardashian has psoriasis.

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Sneferu has more fulfilling moments when he’s licking my hair out of the bathtub.
Image credit: David Shankbone

I keep hoping technology will eventually allow us live in more enlightened times and that we’re just in a state of transition now. But damn, it’s a painful transition.

Apr 24

History Wednesday: Kingdoms for Fun and Profit

Back when I wrote about the Deseret alphabet I mentioned in passing a place called Molossia. As it turns out, y’all are somewhat interested in the micronation near Carson City, Nevada. I can tell because the link repeatedly turns up in the “clicks” section of my blog dashboard.

Molossia_-_Customs_post

I can see why. It’s a happening place.
Image credit: Kevin Baugh

That said, today’s History Wednesday isn’t about Molossia or micronations. That story has been covered elsewhere. Although inspired by Molossia, today we’ll take a look at the Kingdom of Sedang, one of the more bizarre chapters in the never-boring history of Southeast Asia.

This story has its roots in the mid-1880s when colonialism was all the rage throughout Europe. After a relatively successful war against China, France established control over the majority of Southeast Asia east of present-day Thailand. They called it “French Indochina.”

HOMECOMING

This caused some problems later on, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, shortly after the Sino-French War in 1888 Chulalongkorn the Great, king of the independent Siam, began claiming lands on his border with French Indochina. Unsurprisingly, this prompted the French to take steps to bolster their claims to the areas in question. Enter a certain Marie-Charles David de Mayrena, a rather sketchy character who owned a plantation in the area. Prior to his involvement in French Indochina, Mayrena worked as an arms dealer. He was suspected of embezzlement back in Metropolitan France. He had also been kicked out of the Dutch East Indies, which we know today as Indonesia.

Charles-Marie David de Mayréna1SMALL

In other words, a 19th Century Destro.

Ever the opportunist, Mayrena convinced the Governor-General of French Indochina that he was the perfect guy to negotiate treaties with people in the area who weren’t definitively subjects of the French-controlled Emperor of Annam. Upon arrival he magnanimously negotiated fair treaties to everyone’s benefit.

Heh, no. He totally took advantage of the ambiguous political situation in the immediate area. In June 1888 he was somehow elected by several local tribal leaders as their king. He took the title “Marie the First, King of Sedang.”

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Because nothing says “Vietnam” more than a guy calling himself “King Marie.”
Image credit: Andrew Dinh

Mayrena rather incongruously declared Roman Catholicism Sedang’s state religion despite the fact most of his subjects in present-day central Vietnam were Muslims. Eventually recognizing his demographic error, Mayrena converted to Islam himself and promptly took advantage of the religion’s liberty regarding plural marriages. He also set about to create a flag, print postage stamps and establish a national award, named after himself of course.

Now Mayrena wasn’t the first random foreign dude to take over a distant land on charm and bullshit alone. He was, however, somewhat more pragmatic than some of the others. Much like the leaders of the short-lived Republic of Texas and the even more short-lived California Republic, Mayrena’s Sedang almost immediately resolved to negotiate a union with a stronger power. However unlike Texas and California, Sedang was, shall we say, less than successful.

He first tried his native France, offering the country to them in exchange for “monopoly rights” over the area. He also told the French government that if they weren’t interested, the Prussians might be. Predictably, Paris – infuriated this guy created a kingdom in “their” territory in the first place – passed on his offer.

439px-Franz_von_Lenbach_-_Portrait_of_Otto_Eduard_Leopold_von_Bismarck_-_Walters_371007_-_View_B

As for Prussia’s Bismarck, he reportedly asked if the day’s Wienerschnitzel was properly tenderized.

Next Mayrena tried the British up in Hong Kong. They were similarly disinterested. Finally Mayrena went to Belgium, where he convinced another shady character named Somsy to provide him with money and arms in exchange for mineral rights. Finally fed up with his shit, the French refused Mayrena’s entry into Vietnam upon his return and seized his arms shipment in Singapore. The erstwhile king spent his last days in exile in present-day Malaysia, where he died in November 1890 under mysterious circumstances.

And so that was the end of Sedang, even though today a Canadian group wants to inexplicably revive it. As for Molossia, there may be a story there if I went to visit. Indeed, it’s on my shortlist after my planned junket to Thermopolis.

Apr 19

Friday Crap Roundup X

Woo hoo! We’ve made it to the 10th Friday Crap Roundup! What’s the anniversary gift for that? Ah yes … iPads.

southwest-3

Just be glad it’s not spyware behind Door #3 … this time.

Quite Simple, Really

SB is not a soapbox for me or anyone else, so I try to keep the political comments to a minimum. However, this graphic I came across on Facebook earlier this week is too good not to share.

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No caption necessary.

Hey, What About …

Longtime readers have no doubt noticed I haven’t said much about Cracked or the gym recently. The reason is quite simple. I haven’t done anything with either. Doing something about that is on my agenda for the next few days. No, really. Trust me.

A Word on Phnom Penh Nightlife

Since I started this blog around 10 weeks ago I’ve deleted nearly 550 spam comments … and kept four which were legitimate. It’s obvious these people don’t read the posts. Case in point: one guy told me, “I like Your Post about Khmer Karaoke Celebrities.” Um, WTF?

SB has covered some 1,250 topics since its inception, but I’m pretty sure “Khmer karaoke celebrities” isn’t among them.

800px-Royal_Ballet_Camboda_Apsara_Mera

Yup … pretty sure.
Image credit: dalbera

I would have kept the comment, but I don’t want to encourage the bastards. Let them hawk their fake Nikes and Dutch porn sites elsewhere.

Track of the Week

Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week, an egregious slight finally rectified. Let the lobbying for Mojo Nixon commence.

About damn time.

Mar 11

Uninspired Updates

Imma gonna write only a short entry today. I’m absolutely dead tired. My creativity is also completely tapped out. I’m about as amusing as a wet dishrag.

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Or maybe even a tuna salad sandwich. I freakin’ hate tuna salad.
Image credit: jeffkole

So what I’m doing today is updating my faithful reading public on some of the threads mentioned here at Superfluous Bloviations over the past month. Some of you might even care.

Not much movement over at Cracked. I still have an iron in the fire there but it’s been slow going the last few days. I imagine some of the rejected stuff will eventually make its way here, so look out for that.

I received another e-mail from our spammer friend. This will likely continue for the immediate future. Otherwise, there’s nothing really exciting to report on that front.

Not only is the food continuously expired around these parts, last night I found an expired box of wet wipes. Yes, there are times when a torch and a shovel seem like reasonable cleaning apparatuses.

The fine folks at Ticketmaster mailed me my tickets to the Rush concert out in the Vancouver, Washington, area in July. I put them in a safe place, namely an old H. G. Wells book. Eh, why not?

H.G._Wells_,_c1890

Neil had a mustache like that once. Close enough.

No, I still haven’t made it to the gym. Soon. I promise. Maybe. In the meantime I have been walking up the hills around the Command Center. I’m at least getting out some.

I haven’t made fun of any old commercials in some time. I should get on that.

Finally happy birthday to Grammy Lynn, who turns 91 today. She’s still going strong.

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And undoubtedly feeling a hell of a lot better than I am today. Salud.

Mar 08

Friday Crap Roundup IV

I’m feeling a bit stale this week. The fact a couple of my Cracked submissions went down the drain isn’t helping. So with that in mind here we are with another silly, rant-filled FCR. Hope you enjoy, or something ….

Droning on About Drones

If you follow politics at all, you know about Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster against the potential use of unmanned drones against American citizens on American soil. An impressive physical feat to be sure. Even more impressive considering Paul didn’t use the facilities during his marathon speech. Of course, Strom Thurmond spoke for over 24 hours for the much less noble cause of opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1957, preparing for that by taking steam baths every day to dehydrate himself.

220px-Strom_Thurmond

“Amateurs.”

Now while I have strong libertarian leanings, I’ve never been a supporter of former Rep. Ron Paul or his son Rand. This week’s news doesn’t change much. However, I do think Sen. Paul has a point here. Both Pauls occasionally put forth good ideas, but I wouldn’t want either as president. As a Democrat I’ve always been lukewarm at best about Obama. Hopefully in 2016 we’ll nominate a stronger libertarian in the mold of a Bill Richardson or Brian Schweitzer.

Chavez Under Glass

Another politician I have mixed feelings about, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, died a few days ago. Apparently he’ll be embalmed and put on permanent exhibit, joining such fun people as Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh and both Kims of North Korea.

One wonders how long this will last. Unlike China, Vietnam, North Korea or even Russia, Venezuela has a viable political opposition. An attempt to recall Chavez in 2004 received over 40 percent of the vote. With the iconoclastic Chavez out of the picture, it’s conceivable the opposition will return to government there in the relatively near future. In the meantime, even in death Chavez continues to confound opposition both at home and abroad.

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“Amateurs.”

Fun With Dating Sites

Although I’ve been inactive on the dating site front for several weeks now, earlier today I received this unsolicited little gem:

Hi hun. Just browsing the site and came across your profile. I would love to chat and see how far we can take this. I could really use a good time out. Honestly, I’m ready to get together for some drinks soon! I don’t come on here often and I hate talking on these sites, so many restrictions. Let’s make this easier and just get a hold of me directly (e-mail redacted) I check that from my phone so I can get back to you right away. Just for fun, tell me what would you do to me if we got together? Would love to hear what you have in mind . I hope youre (sic) as serious as I am, Ill be waiting eagerly for your response.

Ostensibly she’s local, although for all I know she could be in Turkmenistan or something. While I suspect this is about as sincere as Strom Thurmond’s moderation of his segregationist views late in his career, which is to say not very, it should at the very least provide some new material for SB. Provided it’s sufficiently substantial and/or hilarious, more on this later.

Mailbag

While all readers are free to make comments, I don’t respond to them in the Comments section. This isn’t YouTube. However, I will respond to them here in FCR on occasion. Earlier this week “Rhodent” opined on the Basque language problem mentioned in “Expired Food

The “x” = /ʃ/ isn’t really all that bad, though, when you consider the fact that all i’s in Basque are pronounced with the /i/ phoneme. Thus, “Bitxi” is pronounced “Beachy”. In fact, you could just anglicize the spelling to that if you wanted.

This isn’t a comment from some random person. I’ve known Rhodent for years. We used to be in a fantasy hockey league together. More importantly, I respect his opinion. I’m also going to take his suggestion. For my daughter’s sobriquet, “Beachy” it is. Thanks to him for saving me the trouble of trying to be clever again.

Track of the Week

I came across this classic at the Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store of all places. Damn, has it really been 20 years?

Mar 01

Friday Crap Roundup III

It’s Friday, so it’s time for SB’s least popular section, the Friday Crap Roundup. Given that no one reads the FCR anyway, I’ll keep it short this week.

New_Coke_can

In the words of Neil Hamburger (and Primus), they can’t all be zingers.

Potpourri

Here’s a very interesting article in The New Republic worth reading. The Republicans may become a regional party, but for the foreseeable future “regional” means Idaho. When it comes to our legislature, all rational people look forward to the annual release of sine die.

Another gem out of Texas from the Hub City Progressive. Fox News is down 29 percent in prime time with the 25-54 demographic. I’ve long been of the opinion that TV news in general sucks, or as an old friend back east would say, “blows dog.” But I only have a college degree in journalism, so what the hell do I know, right?

Speaking of old friends, an old, old friend – I mean one dating from the Jimmy Carter years – suddenly got married this week in Las Vegas. Of course I wish him and his new bride nothing but the best, but my bias of experience is one of trepidation. Her birthday was yesterday. My ex-wife’s birthday was also yesterday. Happy birthday to both.

Still freaky, freaky shit y’all.

CRACKED.com update: As of this writing I have two submissions in the “Pitches We’re Considering” folder, including one which was left for dead only a few days ago. Surely, the powers that be over there have noticed that too.

Track of the Week

Speaking of Primus, Les Claypool is as good a choice as any this week.

Nice Cold War reference there, Les.

Feb 28

The Costco Slog

Yesterday I broke down and did what I should have done a couple weeks ago. I went to Costco. The Pyramid Brothers were low on food and litter. I didn’t feel like a trip to Albertson’s was enough. I needed to think BIG. Costco is the place for that.

Did you know Costco has a funeral section? Neither did I until today. If I go all I ask is a simple, tangible memorial free of any Thomas Kinkade influence. After that do what the fuck you want to with my remains.

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Not Kinkade, but the same sort of kitsch and revisionist hell.

Anyway, where the hell was I? Oh yes, if you’ve ever been to Costco, you know everything is big. You also know you wind up spending a hell of a lot more than you intended. Cat food and litter obtained, but how about something called “channa masala?” The nice lady offering samples introduced me to it. Damn good actually, and it has garbanzo beans! That’s one of the great terms in the English language. I bought two boxes.

Dr. Pepper? Haven’t had that in a long time. Gatorade? Hell yes! Sadly, it was only after I left I discovered I bought the “low calorie” crap. Well, such is life.

But both the best and the worst purchase of the day was a “Chairmat,” which is one of those large plastic surfaces designed to protect carpet from rolling chairs. Given that the Command Center was obviously flipped as cheaply as possible during the worst of the housing crisis, I’ve needed one for some time.

sillysink

Pictured: the result of a half-assed flip.

It’s the best purchase because I’m genuinely concerned I’m going to tear a hole in the carpet. It’s the worst because, well, try fitting something like that in a 2004 Ford Focus. Not pretty. The best part is I had to do it only once.

Ah, but the worst was yet to come. The Command Center is located entirely on the second floor of my building. That means I had to carry all this crap up Astroturf-covered stairs with a still-sore side from my fall. I’m still feeling it. I’m thinking trying a return to the gym next week, but damn. More on that later.

The nice part is I’m well-stocked on needed liquids for the immediate future, as well as cat food and cat litter. I also have enough coffee filters to last me until the heat death of the universe. Like many other things, the best part about going to Costco is when it’s over.

CRACKED.com update: Holy crap! For the first time I made the “Pitches We’re Considering” folder today. That means I’m one step away from snark with at least six figures of hits. I’m not celebrating yet, but I feel good.