Mar 23

Here We Have Tone Deafness

When I was a wee wiseacre in the 2T I learned about the Idaho state emblems. Every state has them. You know, state bird, state flower, state tree, state cottager ….

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OK, just kidding about the last one. Maybe.

Like every other state we also have a state song. Some state songs are well-known outside their borders, such as “Georgia on My Mind,” “Home on the Range,” “Oklahoma!” and … “Born to Run.” Seriously, you don’t mess with the Boss in New Jersey.

Our state song is “Here We Have Idaho.” Chances are decent you haven’t heard it, even if you’re from Idaho. There’s a reason for that. It’s bloody awful on every conceivable level.

Oh, the humanity.

Now please don’t think I’m picking on the performers here. There’s simply no way to sing this piece without sounding like you’re clobbering a rabid hyena with a Louisville Slugger. I chose this particular clip because apparently no one else wanted to be caught dead singing the song in its entirety on YouTube.

Just look at how this turd was constructed. The music was composed by a Sallie Hume Douglas in 1915 under the original title of (no kidding) “Garden of Paradise.” A couple years later, the original lyrics were written by a couple of people at the University of Idaho who were unaware of the tune’s provenance. By 1930, two other sets of lyrics were written because, why not?

Finally in 1931 the Idaho Legislature, noted patrons of the arts they are, declared the Douglas tune the state song along with lyrics written by the then-director of music for the Boise Public Schools. In other words, “Here We Have Idaho” was essentially written by a proto-Oprah fan and your elementary school music teacher. I’m somewhat comforted by the fact I’m not the only one to recognize its banality.

Oh but it gets better. The lyric, “Here we have Idaho, winning its way to fame” is bad enough. However, the original lyric was, “Here we have Idaho, scourged on its way to fame.” Wow, you can’t get much more metal than that.

Flagellants

Pictured: scourging your way to fame.

This state needs a lot of work in many ways. However, I think we can agree we need a new state song, one that’s not completely embarrassing. Granted, there’s not a lot out there to go on. I tried looking tonight on YouTube, but I didn’t find much. I did come across a band called Idaho in my search. They’re actually pretty good. Check them out. Unfortunately they wouldn’t work for this purpose, as they’re from California and their most recent album is titled You Were a Dick.

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There’s no way that’s getting through this government.

Still, write your legislator. Give Butch a call. Do something. If I give the world one less thing to laugh at us about, I’ve done my job.

Mar 19

That Giant Sucking Sound

Back in 1992, part-time presidential candidate and full-time lunatic Ross Perot coined the term “giant sucking sound.” He originally used it to criticize the then-proposed NAFTA treaty. Later politicians also used it to play up the “jobs lost” bogeyman. Admittedly, in that context it really doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot for me around here.

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“Our jobs are secure. Now piss off.”

Nevertheless, it’s still a good phrase. It’s also one of the few notable things conceived during Perot’s presidential runs which didn’t involve pie graphs and/or batshit conspiracy theories. For me, the “giant sucking sound” is what I often hear in the back of my mind when I’m writing. It’s a thought along the lines of, “Hoo boy. I’m really posting a turd to the Internet today!” I’m having that thought right now, actually.

Yet one person’s manure is often another person’s manna. Regardless of what kind of artist you are – be it a painter, actor, musician, or a writer like myself – you fancy some of your works are much more awesome than others. However, what you think is good and what others think is good are often two different things. The same holds for one’s perception of crap.

Here’s a case in point. The late Alec Guinness thought of himself as an old-school English stage actor of the highest caliber, on par with his contemporary Laurence Olivier and with Patrick Stewart later on. Indeed, like Olivier and Stewart his Shakespearean chops were indisputably world-class. However, most of you out there know him for this role:

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“It’ll be just like Connery in Zardoz. No one will remember this.”
Image credit: williampcoleman

At best, Guinness viewed the Obi-Wan Kenobi role as a late-career afterthought and a retirement hedge. Indeed, thanks to some shrewd negotiating he made a ton of money off of it. But once it became apparent many would remember him from his Star Wars appearances more than anything else he ignored the subject as much as he possibly could, even going so far as to throw away Star Wars fan mail unopened.

Something like this happened to me, albeit on a much smaller scale. For a few years in the mid-90s I was on the staff of the Bengal, the student newspaper at Idaho State University. I started out as an op-ed writer and remained in that capacity throughout my tenure there. That’s how I saw my role there. Oh yeah, I also wrote some straight news stories, mainly for shits and giggles.

One day in 1995 I was informed I won first place in a regional college newspaper newswriting competition. This came as a complete surprise because (1) I wasn’t aware I entered a competition in the first place and, (2) the article I won for I found banal and pedestrian at best. I don’t recall exactly what it was about, but it had something to do with proposed fee increases, something dry and boring like that. To this day I’m somewhat bemused by the experience.

Mind you, I don’t try to write garbage on purpose. Well, not usually. However, I sometimes wonder what would happen if I gave up all attempts at humor, intellect and integrity, and wrote entirely for the lowest common denominator. I could totally pump out dreck for the Oprah-addled masses if I wanted. I imagine the result would be akin a mashup of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and the Twilight series.

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Illustrated by the undead Thomas Kinkade, of course.
Image credit: ojimbo

Ultimately I’ve learned over the years to discount the giant sucking sound, at least to an extent. It’s often completely wrong anyway.

Mar 15

Friday Crap Roundup V

Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen! It’s time once again for the Friday Crap Roundup! Now 30 percent dafter for your reading enjoyment!

Breaking Precedent, Rome Style

Earlier this week I opined on papal names and how they rarely deviate from accepted standards. Only six names had been used by popes since 1800. Well, make it seven thanks to Pope Francis. Now while he didn’t take my advice and go with something screwy, he broke a very longstanding precedent anyway. I like that sort of thing in religious leaders. As a matter of fact one has to go all the way back to 913 CE to find the last pope who chose a name never used by any of his predecessors.

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That’s right. Pope Lando.

And so with the conclave over I don’t expect to mention the papacy again for the foreseeable future. All the best to you guys out there in the Vatican.

Ignoring Precedent, Tulsa Style

Speaking of precedent, someone should explain the concept of judicial review to this guy, who actually said:

Just because the Supreme Court rules on something doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s constitutional …. I hear this all the time from Republicans – they say that the court is the arbitrator and after the arbitration is done, that’s the rules we have to live under and we can go forth and make legislation given those rules. That’s not the case.

Yeah, apparently he hasn’t heard of cases like Marbury v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, and so forth. Judicial review, that is the prerogative of the court system to strike down unconstitutional laws, has been a central tenet of the American judicial system since, oh, 1803 or so. But you don’t need me to tell you that; anyone who paid attention in high school government class can tell you that.

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“And tell ’em the Big Marsh Man sent you!”

Well, apparently Jim Bridenstine wasn’t paying attention. Unfortunately, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives last year from the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area. C’mon, you guys. Politics is stupid enough without willfully electing this sort of cement-headedness.

Setting Precedent, Boise Style

Recently I wrote of my adventures (if you really want to call them that) with a mysterious person who may or may not be a woman known as “gr8tits2play.” Well, less than a week later, when one does a Google search for that name guess who comes up, like, a lot?

gr8tits2play search

Oh, lovely.

I suppose it’s in the common interest for me to inform you I’m not “gr8tits2play,” I don’t have a dead uncle in Mali with a fortune I need to smuggle into the United States, I’m not a representative of the lottery in the UK or anywhere else, and I have no problems whatsoever with penis size.

TMI? Fine, let’s move on.

Track of the Week

It’s been one of those weeks, but I hope to finish strong. I need to. Beachy will be here tonight.

In the meantime, play this over and over.

Mar 13

History Wednesday: Time to Ring the Bells

As we learned a few weeks ago, immediately after founding a major empire it’s generally not a good idea to kill the heir apparent, because his younger brother is likely to be a total dumbass. You’d think after a few centuries people would figure this out. You’d be incorrect.

So today History Wednesday visits the happiest place on earth, 16th Century Russia. In 1533 a three-year-old became Grand Prince of Moscow as Ivan IV. As Ivan approached adulthood he had himself crowned with a new title: Tsar of all the Russias. Eventually he became known as Ivan the Terrible.

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Pictured: Autocrat of all the Metalheads.

Over the next 27 years Ivan’s rule produced mixed results. He added some mad acreage to the Russian Empire, conquering Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberia, the latter providing him and his successors a convenient place to exile undesirables. However, prolonged war, oppressive domestic policy, periodic famine and proto-Yakov Smirnoff jokes dogged the tsar throughout his reign.

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“In Rurik Muscovy, Cossack horse rides you!”
Image credit: Buchoamerica/en.wikipedia

In spite of it all, Russia transformed itself from a minor feudal state to an emerging regional power in eastern Europe. Still, whoever succeeded Ivan the Terrible faced many daunting military and political realities.

Ivan had two major problems with providing an heir to the throne. The first was of his eight kids, only two survived childhood. The other was his unpredictable temper, resulting in the accidental death of his chosen heir Ivan Ivanovich in 1581. By 1583 his only surviving children were an infant named Dmitry and Ivan Ivanovich’s younger brother Feodor. The Russian Orthodox Church did not recognize Ivan’s marriage to Dmitry’s mother, officially rendering the boy illegitimate and ineligible for succession. Ivan had no choice but to name Feodor as his heir apparent.

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I think you see where this is going.

This may have been all fine and good, but Feodor was in poor health, possibly mentally disabled and completely uninterested in politics, exactly what Russia didn’t need in a ruler. Recognizing this, Ivan appointed a group of advisers led by Feodor’s brother-in-law, a boyar named Boris Godunov, to assist Feodor once he became tsar.

Sure enough, after Ivan’s death in 1584, as tsar Feodor proved to be about as qualified as drunk, one-armed neurosurgeon. Instead of addressing the increasingly unstable situation in Russia and abroad, Feodor busied himself doing such things as visiting various churches in his realm to ring the bells. Meanwhile, Russia was fighting tooth and nail with several of its neighbors, notably the Poles and the Swedes.

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Those aren’t IKEA representatives, y’all.

So while the extremely religious Feodor spent his days ringing bells and praying, the task of actual governing fell to Godunov, who unsurprisingly took full advantage of the situation.

In 1591 Feodor’s ten-year-old half-brother Dmitry died under questionable circumstances, possibly on Godunov’s orders. Meanwhile in one of the great dick moves of the early modern period, Godunov issued the decree which effectively solidified Russia’s brutal policy of serfdom for the next 250 years.

With Dmitry gone and Feodor unable to produce an heir to the throne, the 700-year-old Rurik Dynasty came to an end upon Feodor’s death in 1598. This allowed Godunov, who by that time had already run the country for around 15 years anyway, to take the throne for his own damn self. Although Godunov managed to keep a lid on simmering tensions until he died in 1605, a quick succession of weak tsars who followed him – including some random dude who actually managed to rule the country for nearly a year posing as the dead Dmitry – threw the country into a state of chaos known as the Time of Troubles. The situation would not stabilize until 1613, when the Romanov Dynasty under Michael I came to power. Thanks to the Romanovs, Russia would never have a problem with its leadership ever again.

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“EVER!”
Image credit: Kremlin.ru

Mar 12

Habemus Deliramentum!

I’m not entirely sure why, but every time there’s a papal conclave I watch events intently. I’m not Catholic. I’m not even religious. So what’s the attraction?

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White suits? Nah ….

The historical aspect certainly has a lot to do with it. This is only the fourth papal conclave of my lifetime. For those of you who didn’t pay attention, there were two in 1978 and one in 2005. The fact Benedict XVI resigned just makes it more intriguing this time around. As you may have noticed, I’m into history. Besides, with Elizabeth II staying put for the foreseeable future there’s not a lot of excitement in this arena.

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“Tell me about it ….”
Image credit: Dan Marsh

Another facet that captivates me is the regnal name the new pope will take. While this has the potential to be exciting, in reality it isn’t. Since 1800 popes have only used one or a combination of six names: Benedict, John, Paul, Pius, Leo and Gregory. In addition, we haven’t seen a Leo or Gregory since before 1900. I’m writing this before the much-anticipated white smoke appears, but I suspect the new pope’s name won’t deviate from this format much, if at all.

That’s too bad. There are a lot of awesome papal names throughout history. Some of my favorites include Sylvester, Hormisdas, Anastasius, Gelasius, Hilarius, Cletus and Lando.

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Yes, seriously.

I think it would be nice to see the new pope take one of these names, or something equally bizarre like Jehoshaphat, just to force the world media to use it for the next few years. Given the very unfunny scandals the Roman Catholic Church faces and will continue to face, a little bit of levity may be in order.

Or he could go off the deep end and take the regnal name “Blue Ribbon.” Why? Well, the German word for pope is “Papst,” so …

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With my brain constantly coming up with stuff like this, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since 1985.

The Catholics are concerned about growing secularization. This is one way to bring the hipsters on board.

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.

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“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 06

History Wednesday: The Central American Footy Fracas

If you live in the United States, you know football is a big, big deal to a lot of people. For some it’s a matter of civic pride. For others, a favorite player. Or perhaps just because it’s a tradition. However no matter how partial fans may be towards their teams, you’ll never see an NFL game devolve into a regional shooting war. American football fans are more civilized than that.

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Although I sometimes wonder about Steelers fans.
Image credit: Steelcityhobbies

The rest of the world is another matter. Their football rivalries – what we silly Americans know as “soccer” – are on another level entirely. If you don’t believe me, wear an Argentine kit in a rough São Paulo neighborhood. If you’re actually foolhardy enough to do this, have your next of kin let me know how it turned out.

With that in mind, today History Wednesday travels back to July 1969. During that month the moon landing was staged at a location near Worland, Wyoming. Also, El Salvador and Honduras fought a brief war against each other, ostensibly over a soccer match. One of these ridiculous statements is actually true.

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And that’s the last time I listen to Alex Jones.

In 1969 neither Honduras nor El Salvador were particularly pleasant places to live for the average person. Both countries were run by right-wing military governments. El Salvador was horribly overcrowded, prompting many to emigrate to neighboring Honduras. However, much of Honduras was owned by a relatively small number of landowners and corporations, notably the United Fruit Company. The Honduran leader, Gen. Oswaldo Lopez Arellano, was both very cozy with United Fruit and decidedly anti-Salvadorian. Together they did their best to push the Salvadorian refugees out of Honduras.

None of this was new. These issues had plagued both countries for most of the 20th Century. Needless to say they weren’t on the best of terms to begin with. In many ways corporate interests supplying America with sweet, sweet tropical fruit were making a bad situation worse.

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Hence the term “banana republic.” Remember that next time you wear those capris.
Image credit: Ed Yourdon

And so with this backdrop Honduras and El Salvador met in the best-of-three semifinal round of the tournament to represent CONCACAF in the 1970 World Cup. The home team won the first two matches in Tegucigalpa and San Salvador respectively. Both games were followed by significant fan-on-fan violence which only served to bring the two nations closer to war. On 26 June 1969, the rubber match was played on neutral turf in Mexico City. El Salvador won in extra time and moved on to the final, which it would later win.

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Haiti clobbered the United States in the other semifinal. Seriously.

The same day El Salvador eliminated Honduras from World Cup contention, citing Tegucigalpa’s treatment of Salvadoran refugees it severed diplomatic relations with its neighbor.

Taking his nation’s win over its hated rival a bit too far, on 14 July 1969 Salvadorian President Gen. Fidel Sanchez Hernandez decided bitches needed to go down. Despite being hilariously ramshackle, comprised mainly of World War II-era Corsairs, P-51 Mustangs and passenger aircraft hastily converted into bombers, that afternoon the Salvadoran Air Force caught the Hondurans by surprise, bombing the Tegucigalpa airport. However El Salvador failed to neutralize the similarly equipped but much larger Honduran Air Force, so Honduras responded by bombing several targets in El Salvador, including the San Salvador airport.

Salvadorian ground troops fared much better. Within hours they captured several western Honduran towns, including the departmental capital of Nueva Ocotepeque. Salvadorian newspapers soon boasted they were within striking distance of Tegucigalpa itself.

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And they looked damn smooth doing it.

Fearing an invasion of Tegucigalpa, the Honduran government petitioned the Organization of American States to intervene in the matter. With both running low on ammunition, the two sides quickly agreed to a cease-fire, but Salvadorian troops remained in Honduras until early August.

The war’s outcome was inconclusive at best. While El Salvador was the clear winner on the ground, Honduras won the air battle. However, the fallout of the war contributed to continued political instability in Honduras and a brutal civil war which engulfed El Salvador in the 1980s. The border dispute inflamed by the war wasn’t entirely settled until 1992. Today both countries have normalized relations with each other and are relatively stable, although Honduras was the victim of a military coup d’etat as recently as 2009.

Remember this next time your team loses an overtime heartbreaker. It could be worse, a lot worse.

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.

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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 27

History Wednesday: When Divine Right Goes Wrong

This week History Wednesday takes a slightly a different tack. Unlike Qin Er Shi and Jean-Bedel Bokassa, today’s subject wasn’t a victim of his own greed or stupidity. Through no fault of his own, the problem with Charles II of Spain was that he shouldn’t have been on the world stage to begin with.

In the 17th Century the Hapsburg family ruled large portions of Continental Europe. Like other royal families, they were fond of marrying and having kids with each other to “preserve royal blood” or some shit like that. Now, according to my limited understanding of genetics this isn’t a good idea, as inbreeding is likely to cause, shall we say, problems down the road.

Unfortunately for the Hapsburgs, they didn’t have such sage advice at their disposal. Accordingly over time their dynasty gradually became less like the royal Übermenschen they wanted to be and more like the family in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. And so in 1661 Spain Charles, the Hapsburg’s analogue to Leatherface, was born.

Charles’ genotype was a mess even by royal standards of the day. His father, Philip IV, was married to his niece, which meant Charles’ mother was also his cousin. One relative was both his aunt and grandmother. Another was both his grandmother and great-grandmother. All eight of Charles’ great-grandparents were descendants of the same couple: Philip I of Castile and the aptly-named Joanna the Mad.

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Who was pretty hot. But still, Joanna the Mad ….

By the time Charles was born the Spanish Hapsburgs had an astonishing record of 16 GENERATIONS of inbreeding and a higher stillbirth rate than the peasants they ruled over. When it came to bad genes Charles hit a Yahtzee.

Just looking at the poor guy’s portraits indicates something was seriously wrong with him. From birth Charles was profoundly physically and mentally disabled, unable to chew his own food, unable to walk until age 8, and barely able to speak due to an enlarged tongue. It just got worse from there. By the time he was 35 he was effectively incapacitated.

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Even the artists didn’t give a shit at that point.

Charles became King of Spain basically by surviving infancy. He ascended to the throne in 1665 at the age of three. His mother/cousin, the only slightly more competent Mariana of Austria, served as his regent and de facto ruler for most of his reign. Almost immediately the brinkmanship and jockeying for position to succeed Charles began in every other royal house in Europe as he was not expected to live very long. Nevertheless Charles managed to live into his late 30s, to the surprise of pretty much everyone. Meanwhile Spain’s economy and standing on the world stage, which weren’t all that hot to begin with during Philip’s reign, steadily eroded.

Intensely religious and convinced his disabilities were caused by sorcery, the very few times he acted independently of his handlers usually dealt with issues regarding the church. Charles presided over some of the worst of the Spanish Inquisition, including the 1680 auto da fe during which 21 supposed heretics were burned at the stake.

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Which, in fact, everyone expected.

After Charles’ first wife (and fellow Hapsburg, natch) Marie Louise of Orleans died depressed and childless in 1689, Charles married yet another Hapsburg, Maria Anna of Neuburg, because hey, why not? Perhaps realizing the utter futility of this whole “produce an heir” business, Maria spent most of her time promoting a relative in Austria as Charles’ successor and grabbing whatever wealth she could from the practically bankrupt Spanish monarchy.

As the last surviving Spanish Hapsburg, Charles died what was probably among the most merciful deaths in history in 1700. According to the coroner’s report his body, “contained not a single drop of blood, his heart looked like the size of a grain of pepper, his lungs were corroded, his intestines were putrid and gangrenous, he had a single testicle which was as black as carbon and his head was full of water.”

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Still possible to accomplish, but not recommended.
Image credit: Trekphiler

Charles’ lasting contribution to world history is perhaps the war ignited by the subsequent free-for-all contest for his throne after his death, which eventually involved pretty much the entire Western world.

Feb 22

Friday Crap Roundup II

This week’s FCR was written with a slight headache, a sore shoulder and a spotty memory. I feel a bit better than yesterday though. Thanks for caring.

Seconding That

I caused quite a kerfuffle on my Facebook page when I re-posted this Someecards.com meme:

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Note to Sarah Palin: a bell, not a gun.

Needless to say, given that I live in Idaho and all, this brought the NRA lobby out of the woodwork. I think a few clarifications are in order. As I’ve mentioned earlier in this space, I don’t support banning THINGS. Things include guns. If you want to build a collection of whatever to obsessive and sociopathic heights, go for it.

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Pictured: obsessive, sociopathic and perfectly legal.
Image credit: PINKÉ

However, I also think health is more important than having a gun. It’s basic psychology. Recall your studies of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in high school. You did study that, right? It’s pretty simple, really. Health is at the base of the pyramid as a physiological need, while gun ownership is further up. At best, it’s a safety need. Therefore, health is a more fundamental need than gun ownership. Call me crazy, but I think government policy should reflect that.

As fate would have it this conversation took place mere hours before my accident, so for me it hit home literally. The ER bill is going to suck ….

Damn Cats Update

Much to my surprise my previous post about the adventures of Djoser and Sneferu, such as they are, is one of the more popular on Superfluous Bloviations. Only my missives on being fat and adopted have more hits. Since I’m still fat and adopted, here’s a bit on the cats.

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Caught them hitting the ‘nip again.

Sneferu’s fascination with standing water in general, and dropping foreign objects in said standing water in particular, keeps growing. I woke up a few days ago to two $5 bills in the water dish. Most recently I found a piece of a plastic bag in there. Give it a few hours and there will be something else.

Djoser has been a crushing bore lately. The older of the two, it’s as if he’s settling down and becoming an upstanding member of society. Well, as cats go. He’s not waking me up every couple hours like Sneferu is, and he’s not nearly as claw-happy as he used to be. This could very well be due to the recently-installed ceiling fan. He’s constantly entranced.

In any event I’m hoping Sneferu, who’s about six months old now, follows suit one of these days.

So, uh, that’s what’s up with them. Hope you enjoyed it. Maybe next time I’ll borrow a chihuahua from someone for a better story.

Jim Risch: Conservative and Irrelevant

Well hell, I could have told you that. The real tragedy is we’ll probably re-elect this goofball next year.

450px-Jim_Risch_official_portrait

Sorry about that.

Track of the Week

Dedicated to myself:

RIP MCA