May 29

History Wednesday: A Lesson in Water Safety

I was going to write about Paraguay again, but it occurred to me earlier today I should bring as much geographic balance to History Wednesday as possible. Since I began SB at least one History Wednesday has been set on every continent. Except one, and I have regular visitors from it.

800px-Kaiserpinguine_mit_Jungen

Well, two if you count penguins, but they don’t have broadband.

So it’s high time to take a look at Australia and an event which has a cautionary tale about water safety. Perfect now that summer is upon us. Or winter, as the case may be. Anyway, the Paraguay story is good, but it can wait.

Continue reading

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.”

800px-Pho_in_Saigon

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.

Mar 09

Messing With Spammers

As mentioned yesterday, I discovered a potential for pure comic gold upon receiving an unsolicited come-on at a dating site I’m still (unfortunately) signed up with. Time to have some fun. My response was simple enough. I thanked “her” for the message and asked “her” what her favorite places in Boise were.

Here was the reply:

Hey there, you sent me an email a lil bit ago and I have to say… mmmmmmmm, sounds very tempting!

I’m currently single and ready for some fun. I’m not really looking for any commitment, if we hit it off great, but really I just need someone to satify (sic) me, it’s been too long. So, you ready to hook up? I’m open to most anything safe and sane!

When my girlfriends found out I was posting online, they showed me this other website that is way better, and there is not nearly as many fake people on it. I still use my old profile, but I like for guys to come check me out here: (web site redacted) I’m gr8tits2play on there. This site is great, you can search for me so there is no messing around. Plus I have a couple friends on here to (sic), and we like to have fun together every once in a while 🙂

Anyway, signup there, and contact me through that profile so I know you are serious. I know it’s asking a little, but it helps sift out all the fakies and wierdos (sic) and makes me feel better. The type of men that will go the extra mile are the men I want anyway, and I like to think I’m worth it!!

Hit me up!… Soon!

beavis

“gr8tits2play” heh heh heh m heh heh heh m (ad infinitum)
Image credit: Evan P. Cordes

Now this is an old trick often seen on Craigslist: promise prurient adventures and get some poor sap to visit your web site. Doing so is the electronic equivalent of swan diving into a cesspool of anthrax and syphilis. Viruses, trojans, malware, the lot. So, um, yeah. That’s not happening.

The next step is to determine exactly where the e-mail came from. WHOIS and IP lookups after this first e-mail proved inconclusive, so I responded the new e-mail with my POP address to get a better read on the IP, only to get this:

“mailbox is full: retry timeout exceeded”

Doh. Well, let’s try the first e-mail again. I replied with this:

Anyway, before I start clickety-clicking on strange links let me tell you a bit about myself. I enjoy Aquaman comics in the original Linear A, 16th Century Danish Dadaist cinema, Tabasco-spiked bologna, and Zoroastrian polka. In my free time I mentor recovering Christian coprophiliacs and provide vocational training for chicken sexers.

I’m particularly interested to know if you have current information on the whereabouts of Subhas Chandra Bose, Engelbert Humperdinck (either one), or Erik Estrada’s teeth.

This elicited … the exact same response. Word for word. Nothing left to do but report their silly asses to their ISP now. I was hoping for so much more too. Like the time I totally caught these idiots e-mailing me from Vietnam:

vietnamsnark

“Tạm biệt đồng chí” roughly translates to “goodbye comrade.”

If you know what you’re doing, it’s so easy to call bullshit on these people. How desperate must one be to actually fall for this?

By the way, I love the opportunity to use (sic).

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.

411px-Chavez141610

“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?