Jun 26

History Wednesday: Skipping Technlology

When I’m not blogging or herding cats, one of my favored pastimes is borrowing CDs at the library down the street. The scheme is simple. First, I log on to my account, find CDs and put them on hold. When they make their way to my library branch, I check them out. Then I take them home, rip them, and bring them back in short order. Rinse and repeat. It works out well.

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Thus far I haven’t had many problems with scratched CDs.
Image credit: wikiHow

It works until CDs become completely obsolete, anyway. While we wait for that, let’s take a look back at where CDs came from, shall we?

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Apr 22

A Gift to Google

SB has been around for nearly three months. In that time I’ve managed to cover nearly 1,300 topics in over 70 posts and probably in the neighborhood of 10,000 words, the size of a short book. Naturally, that’s caused some disparate search engine traffic. Today I want to share the highlights of those searches with you. For one, it’s funny. For another, it’s yet another lazy-ass way to put a post together.

These findings are based on Google searches, as Bing and the others didn’t have a lot of material to work with. I know many of you were looking for something other than a silly-ass blog from Idaho, so I’m trying to help out with some facts about the topics you really want to read about. I’ve already covered SB’s top search query, “gr8tits2play,” several times. I’m not going to discuss that further today.

Main Street Guitar Company

Despite being mentioned a grand total of once here before today, SB appears as the third link in a Google search for this term. That tells me there’s not a whole hell of a lot of information on this company.

It appears Main Street Guitar Company is (or more likely, was) based in Cedar City, Utah, of all places. The company has no web site, and every indication is the Cedar City location is no longer in business. As for my Main Street bass, it was made in China. I can tell because the sticker on the back of the headstock clearly says so.

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My phone battery is charging. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this one.

As for the quality, I can tell you I paid well under $100 for my instrument used. Glean from that what you will.

Feodor I

History Wednesday’s top contribution to Google appears to be its account of the hapless 16th Century Russian czar. SB makes a first-page appearance for the term, ahead of entries from such august scholastic organizations such as, um, Answers.com.

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Feodor would be 455 years old if he were alive today. How about that?

As for Feodor’s much better-known father, Ivan the Terrible … yeah. I have my SEO work cut out for me on that one.

Honey Boo Boo

Uh oh. Google’s webmaster tools tell me SB has an average search rank of 11th for this train wreck. Thankfully, an actual search proves this isn’t the case. Google doesn’t even have me in the first 10 pages …

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… yet. Oh, this could get ugly.
Image credit: ~AngryDogDesigns

My Favorite Search Terms

Of course, not all the search terms that stick around here have any staying power. Many are simply hilarious, such as:

“desirable outcome carnival cruise triumph”
“when did a trading post at moose factory get stupid”
“has anybody really thought about the logistics to the movie air bud”
“strom thurmond takes a dump”
“do cats try crap on astro turf”
“ghaddafi leisure suit”
“what in the hell is going on at idaho state university”

“The last time I saw people covered in that much feces they were touring the White House with Al Roker!”

Beautiful. Keep it up, y’all.

Oh yeah, for fans of SEO, “gr8tits2play.” Ha, ha!

Feb 20

History Wednesday: Bokassa’s Royal Mess

Today’s journey takes us to the 1970s. It was a magical time of polyester, cocaine, four-on-the-floor beats and, um, Ted Nugent. Like many eras, its downfall was marked by a riot in Chicago’s Comiskey Park.

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Not pictured: taste and decorum.
Image credit: Daniel Hartwig

But powder blue leisure suits weren’t the decade’s only atrocity. Located in (oddly enough) central Africa, the Central African Republic became independent from France in 1960. Since then its history has been pretty much FUBAR, even by African standards. On New Year’s Eve 1965, a military coup d’etat led by Col. Jean-Bedel Bokassa overthrew the original government. Bokassa then proceeded to go through the normal post-coup routines: suspend the constitution, dissolve the legislature, promise elections at some undetermined point in the future, enact a “Mitch Miller only” policy on government radio, blah, blah, blah. He also criminalized unemployment for people between 18 and 55 and banned tom-tom playing except on nights and weekends, apparently because excessive percussion creates unrest.

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Miller’s alleged involvement remains controversial.

But Bokassa was just getting warmed up. In March 1972 he declared himself president for life. By 1975 former colonial power France had become Bokassa’s main supporter, a foreign policy decision they would come to bitterly regret. French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing infamously referred to Bokassa as a “friend and family member.” During this period Bokassa was also openly chummy with hall of fame nutty dictator Muammar Gaddafi, even going so far as to rename himself “Salah Eddine Ahmed Bokassa” and convert to Islam to impress his Libyan buddy. Bokassa’s Islamic conversion lasted only a couple months though, as he converted back to Catholicism when it became apparent Gaddafi wasn’t going to help bankroll his country and – more importantly – his bling.

Of course, this was all par for the course in 1970s Africa. Bokassa needed a new angle. So in December 1976 he took his despotism to the next level. Apparently dissatisfied with a candy-ass title like “president for life,” Bokassa declared the CAR a monarchy with himself as emperor. Inspired by Napoleon, in December 1977 Bokassa had himself crowned sovereign of the renamed Central African Empire in a garish ceremony which cost the country more than its entire annual budget, with much of the tab picked up by Bokassa’s BFFs in Paris. Leaders from all over the globe were invited to the coronation. A grand total of zero attended.

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Not pictured: taste and decorum.

Now considered utterly batshit insane by pretty much the rest of the world, perhaps even more so than the fabulously daffy dictator Idi Amin in nearby Uganda, Emperor Bokassa became steadily more unpredictable. Rumors of cannibalism were rampant. Bokassa had long been suspected to personally participate in the beatings and torture of political prisoners and others, but his alleged personal participation in fatally beating elementary school students protesting against paying for government school uniforms (conveniently manufactured by a company owned by one of his wives) was the final straw. In September 1979 French special forces invaded the country’s main airport in the capital city of Bangui and quickly overthrew the erstwhile emperor while he was visiting Gaddafi in Libya. Central Africans celebrated with a good, old-fashioned statue toppling.

That’s right, things got so bad that the FRENCH took it upon themselves to get rid of the guy.

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But in fairness the French can be pretty badass when it suits them.

Several years later, because he had served in the French Army for over 20 years prior to joining the CAR Army, Bokassa was granted asylum and allowed to settle in the Paris suburbs, much to the embarrassment of the French government. Bokassa’s close relationship with Giscard d’Estaing became a campaign issue during the 1981 French presidential election, contributing to Giscard d’Estaing’s loss to Francois Mitterrand.

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“If Mobutu calls, I’m DEFINITELY not here.”

Bokassa returned to the CAR in 1986 and was immediately arrested. Found guilty of most of the charges against him, he was sentenced to death. However, several commutations allowed him to be released after only five years in prison. While he lost his power, his crazy never went away. Towards the end of his life Bokassa claimed to have secret meetings with Pope John Paul II and declared himself the 13th Apostle.

So what does the Central African Republic think of Bokassa now? While many remember him as a crazed dictator, incredibly in December 2010 CAR President Francois Bozize rehabilitated the former emperor, posthumously overturning all of his convictions. Calling Bokassa “a son of the nation recognized by all as a great builder,” Bozize then presented Bokassa’s widow Catherine with a medal. Indeed, given that the CAR has been in almost constant turmoil since Bokassa was deposed, perhaps some really do remember the “good old days” of the empire.