Archive

Weirdness

After a short hiatus spent freaking out, spending time with friends and family, and watching Star Trek, I am back. A lot of weird and awful things happened in my absence, and just before I put 2013 (FAR) behind me, I would like to discuss the weirdest of these. It seems that over the break a handful of countries have racked up some bizarre headlines. While this is good for some laughs, in the end, we are all losers in this contest.

image: YouTube

Egypt

After the year they’ve had, Egyptians could probably use all the laughs they can get, so it’s unfortunate that one of the country’s foremost comedic characters, Abla Fahita, is currently under investigation for terrorism due to comments she made in a phone-company commercial. Even more unfortunate is the fact that Abla Fahita is a puppet. Next Big Bird will be busted for money laundering, along with Elmo for….wait, that already happened.

Political analyst Ziad Akl sums it up nicely: “As stupid as it is, it’s very telling.” All I can say is this puppet is cute as shit and probably not the biggest threat to Egypt’s stability. But you never know I guess…

image: NKNews.org

North Korea

Just everything.

A few weeks ago North Korea sent perennial arch-nemesis South Korea a fax notifying them of the “merciless retaliation without warning” they would receive in return for allowing anti-NK demonstrations. So NK sent SK a fax to warn of a retaliation without warning? How silly. Even more so because no one has sent a fax in like ten years. I bet an intern or admin assistant received the fax, because no one important would ever be in charge of monitoring the fax machine for war threats.

How did SK respond to this grave security threat? In the words of the Washington Post’s Max Fisher, “South Korea, on Friday, turned around and sent the North Koreans a threatening fax right back.” Well played.

In other North Korea news, it recently emerged that dictator Kim Jong-un did not feed the uncle whom he had killed to a pack of dogs. I love negative headlines like this: you can make up something crazy then write about how it didn’t happen. Of course, this particular headline is entirely plausible, so reporters felt justified in discussing its veracity.

And finally, Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un’s stomach-turning bromance is still firmly intact. I was raging today at headlines that documented Rodman’s “love” for the despot until I read this in the Telegraph:

Rodman told reporters at Beijing airport that he hoped the match could “open the doors” to “talk about certain things”.

“But I am not going to sit there and go ‘Hey guy, you are doing the wrong thing. That is not the right way to do it. He is my friend first… and I love him,” Rodman said, sprinkling his comments with expletives.

That sounds surprisingly promising, though Rodman has likely signed his own death certificate with that comment.

America

A lot of things have happened in the US over the holidays. But the only one I care about involves Clay Aiken and the House of Representatives. That’s right–the man who stunned us with his moving rendition of “Solitaire” is now setting his sights on politics.

He wouldn’t have to spend too much time on a policy platform, as all his wisest words have already been included in his songs. On NSA spying: “If I were invisible, then I could just watch you in your room.” On partisanship in Washington: “Solitaire’s the only game in town, every road that takes him, takes him down.” So real.

Let’s just hope Ruben Studdard isn’t planning to run as a Republican candidate…

Saudi Arabia

I don’t talk about these guys enough, mostly because it’s too depressing, but this story is bizarre enough that I have to share it. Yesterday human body parts fell out of the sky and into a Saudi intersection located in a residential area. It is speculated that they are the remains of a Beiruti migrant who hitched a ride on a plane’s landing gear in a desperate attempt to leave. Horrific.

So that one didn’t actually originate in Saudi Arabia, unlike my favorite story ever from there, in which the Hayaa (religious police) shut down an educational dinosaur exhibit in a mall on charges of immorality. This sparked a hilarious Twitter frenzy, with one user theorizing that the Hayaa was afraid that people would begin worshipping the dinosaurs instead of God. By far the most awesome story of 2013.

Mexico

The news coming out of Mexico is usually quite dismal, so the Washington Post‘s article about Mexico’s hangover prison El Torito really brightened my holiday. Mexicans who exceed the limit of 0.08 BAC must take “a strange little journey to a squat brick building next to a playground on the west side of town where they can sit — and sit, and sit — and think about what they’ve done.”

Perhaps it indicates the sad state of affairs in Mexico when a story about how a nation deals with its rampant alcoholism serves as a distraction from other graver problems such as drug-trafficking, poverty, and kidnapping.

Still, in a country with TV characters such as “Jaime el Duende,” a deeply alcoholic elf whose catchphrase is “I just pissed myself,” this is quite unsurprising. Perhaps Jaime should spend some time in Hangover Prison, or at least show poor Abla Fahita a good time.

Inspired by a post in The Economist‘s Johnson blog entitled “Portuguese for the perplexed,” which was in turn inspired by a 2011 post in the same blog to help foreigners understand British English, I have decided to put together a short guide to Canadian English. Because underneath our polite demeanor, we’re actually sort of mean.

What Canadians say: Hi! How are you?
What foreigners hear: I want to know how you are doing.
What Canadians mean: Hi! Please do not tell me anything about your life unless you want this conversation to end swiftly–that was only meant as a polite and insincere greeting.

What Canadians say: Sorry! (After you’ve bumped into them.)
What foreigners hear: I apologize for getting in your way.
What Canadians mean: I’m sorry that you’re too stupid to look where you’re going.

What Canadians say: Absolutely!
What foreigners hear: Yes! Most definitely!
What Canadians mean: No, not a chance, never in a million years!

What Canadians say: What makes you say that?
What foreigners hear: What is your motivation for making that statement? Please explain yourself so I can see it from your point of view.
What Canadians mean: You are completely wrong and nothing you say next will change my mind.

What Canadians say: You’re hilarious!
What foreigners hear: You are very humorous.
What Canadians mean: I fear for my safety when you are near.

What Canadians say: It’s not a big deal/don’t worry about it.
What foreigners hear: It’s not that important, it won’t be a problem.
What Canadians mean: It is a big deal and I’m pissed.

What Canadians say: That’s really interesting.
What foreigners hear: I am fascinated by what you’ve told me.
What Canadians mean: That’s weird/stupid/annoying/messed up/boring/insert any adjective with a negative connotation here.

What Canadians say: He had one too many.
What foreigners hear: He drank a little bit too much.
What Canadians mean: He had to go to the hospital to get his stomach pumped.

What Canadians say: That’s understandable; not everyone follows hockey.
What foreigners hear: To each his own; we can totally be friends even if you do not like hockey.
What Canadians mean: Get away from me immediately, you piece of human garbage.

What Canadians say: Yup.
What foreigners hear: You have made a statement with which I agree.
What Canadians mean: No shit, dummy. (You have made a painfully obvious statement or you have said something I wish weren’t true.)

What Canadians say: I’ll call you.
What foreigners hear: I will make an effort to speak with you on the phone soon.
What Canadians mean: I probably won’t talk to you ever again. In Canada phones have not been used for speaking with others since 2005.

What Canadians say: I feel like there’s something you’re not telling me.
What foreigners hear: I am gently asking you if perhaps there is something you’ve left out to spare my feelings.
What Canadians mean: You are a liar. (You’ve really made him/her angry–it doesn’t get more confrontational than this for most Canadians!)

What Canadians say: I’m disappointed that…, It’s disappointing that…
What foreigners hear: I have been let down in some way.
What Canadians mean: I’m mad as hell that…(You better hope the disappointment was not caused by you. If it was, the Canadian will assure you it’s not a big deal then promise to call you. You’ve just lost the politest friend you could ever hope to have.)

What Canadians say: No worries, no problem (usually after they have done some favor for you).
What foreigners hear: I was happy to do it.
What Canadians mean: It was a huge inconvenience and I won’t be doing you a favor again after the scant gratitude you’ve shown.

What Canadians say: It’s so cold out today!
What foreigners hear: The weather is very cold.
What Canadians mean: I am attempting to engage in a cultural bonding ritual with you. If you do not agree wholeheartedly and enthusiastically with my statement about the weather, I will feel betrayed and disengage myself from this social situation. (At this juncture it is usually a good idea to mention something about how the wind or humidity makes the cold even worse. Don’t screw this up–a bungled weather conversation is a hard thing from which to recover. The Canadian will love you forever if you casually mention that you’ve been to Siberia and it was like Hawaii compared to Canada.)

Canadians are simple creatures–we bond over weather, and hide our rage behind a thin veneer of politeness. It may not be healthy, but it’s very civil and quiet. In fact, the loudest thing in Canada is probably Don Cherry’s suit.

John Gielgud

He wouldn’t look so tortured if Wikileaks had existed

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a classic tale of deception vs. truth. The title character spends the entire play attempting to ascertain if his uncle did indeed kill his father, who appeared to Hamlet in the form of a ghost to relay this information. Hamlet does a lot of badass stuff in his quest for the truth, including feigning madness and committing the first recorded act of identity theft, then relating all he was doing to his trusted pal Horatio.

Admittedly, the story of Hamlet is fantastic, but conceivable in its time. But what would it look like if it happened today? Let’s assume that ghosts are real: so Hamlet’s dad appears to him and says, “yo Ham! Your uncle put poison in my ear. He’s an asshole!” Hamlet might exhume the body to look for residual poison (as was recently done with the remains of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat). He also might go through his uncle’s iPhone and email (Hamlet seems like a hacker type) instead of staging some stupid play to determine his uncle’s guilt. But actually Hamlet probably wouldn’t even have to do any of this because, as a head of state, his uncle Claudius already has an army of Julian Assanges and Edward Snowdens waiting patiently in the wings for the slightest miscalculation. The murder would have been in The Guardian before Hamlet’s dad even had the chance to appear. So a ghost deficit is one unfortunate byproduct of our modern society.

Sorry Casper.

But even if the play were allowed to progress as it originally did, and no matter how trusty Hamlet’s confidante Horatio is, another party would still have complete knowledge of Hamlet’s antics: Facebook. This will come as a surprise to no one, but Facebook got a little too real for me this week when it apparently seemed to know things about my innermost dialogues that I most certainly did not put in my newsfeed. It took things out of private messages I wrote and made freakily accurate assumptions about my deepest, darkest secrets. Which are shockingly stupid, but still.

If Hamlet’s meandering soliloquies were instead immortalized on Facebook–which is itself a modern-day monologue of sorts–it would be a lot harder for him to keep a lid on his “clever” plans; even if he put them all in private messages or on his ultra-verbose WordPress blog, there they would be for the enterprising hacker to find. And sell to the Toronto Star. (I couldn’t resist!)

And if Facebook knows about Hamlet’s plans, then it goes without saying that the NSA knows too. And hackers in China. And on and on.

Even the super-secretive Stephen Harper is having trouble keeping a lid on things lately. Part of his proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership was published today by Wikileaks along with a warning that the agreement would threaten civil liberties in the 12 signatory countries. The document was classified, and agreements were being held behind an inky cloak of secrecy.

Another obvious example of failures in secret-keeping are the ongoing revelations by Edward Snowden that most countries in the world are spying on most other countries in the world. They are also spying on their own citizens. Also pretty much every high-ranking government official has access to Angela Merkel’s mobile phone records. Because she sends some effing hilarious cat GIFs. LOLZ.

Lose no more

On a personal level too, secret-keeping is getting harder. Take the characters on Gossip Girl, an asinine American series that has been off the air for a year now. A typical storyline consisted of the characters engaging in some downright Shakespearean schemes, usually in order to take down another character for deep-seated and deeply stupid reasons. The scheme would inevitably backfire when someone’s phone was stolen, or a sexy/incriminating video/picture was uncovered and either revealed or used to blackmail the schemer in question. If this failed to happen, Gossip Girl was always there to reveal everyone’s secrets in her poorly written blog.

While it’s true that the strategic concealment and subsequent revelation of information has always been a central component of dramatic tension (and life), the delay time between these two events is shrinking dramatically. Hamlet can run as long as five hours, while a typical episode of Gossip Girl will irrevocably rob you of about 45 minutes of your life. I am guessing that its present-day equivalent would be a lot shorter.

Take our beleaguered Mayor Rob Ford’s case for instance. It took me about two minutes to learn that he had confessed to smoking crack, and the better part of the saga leading up to his revelation happened through technology: the camera on a drug dealer’s phone, the Gawker online news outlet that broke the story, and endless comments from the Twitterati. Crazy news travels fast, and now even  nations like Saudi Arabia are having trouble keeping deeply ingrained repression a secret in a world teeming with uncontainable methods of information transmission.

It all comes down to gossip. People love to do it, and if there’s a way to do it quicker, then they will find it. And as our access to information becomes more and more communal and uniform, we come that much closer to sharing one single Cloud-mind in which there are no secrets–like a real-life Borg species. In a way, we are all Gossip Girl now. From a literary standpoint we are lucky that Hamlet did not have Facebook or Wikileaks and instead had to rely on evocative rhetoric and ingenuity in his quest for the truth–both seem to be in short supply these days.

Is resistance futile?

Full disclosure: I have seen every episode of Gossip Girl. Twice.

It is common practice in most classrooms for the instructor to assure students there are no stupid questions, but that’s just not true. My favorite stupid questions as of late invariably relate to the revelations that Canada and the US have been spying on a bunch of our allies, most notably Brazil and Germany. Both of these nations have demanded “answers” and “explanations” from us. What the hell do they expect us to say? The answer is that we are incredibly shitty, but I guess that’s not quite what they’re looking for here.

However, I remain slightly confused as to what they expect us to say, as no explanation or answer is really going to help anything at this point. Most of these demands likely have to do with not wanting to be perceived as weak by their own citizens and by a world in which spooks are waiting in the wings for a moment of vulnerability, at which point they will swoop in and impose communism. Or Nazism?

Where is Agent Devlin when we need him?

But maybe Brazil and Germany’s leaders honestly think that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation that will exonerate Canada and the US and let relations get back to normal. It is in this hope that I present this list of possible (probable) explanations for the reports of espionage by Canada and the United States. Because “we are incredibly shitty” just won’t cut it.

More than friends? He wishes.

President Obama has a huge crush on Angela Merkel and wanted to see if she had a boyfriend

Obama went as far as to tap her cellphone when he found flirty texts from French President Hollande in Merkel’s inbox. Chill out, Obama–you guys are both married! I know you both share an awkward love of beer and being leaders of countries, but will that help you choke down the rouladen and liverwurst? Fall back, Obama. If she wasn’t interested before, she sure isn’t into you after this little stunt!

The Canadian Press

Harper was trying to protect Brazil from Nazis

As much as it looks like a case of industrial espionage, the real, top-secret reason for Canada’s surveillance of Brazil’s mining and energy ministry was to protect Brazil from an imminent Nazi invasion. Maybe it seems like I took this from the plot of the Cary Grant movie Notorious, but sometimes reality imitates art. This explanation is likely true, as Canada’s confirmed BFF Israel has been monitoring the situation for some time and was able to warn us in time. So Brazil owes us a big thank-you hug! …but maybe send us chocolates instead–we wouldn’t want Harper to end up with an awkward secret crush on a fellow head of state like some people.

https://i1.wp.com/blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/files/2013/09/bidenmexico5.jpg

Reuters/Edgard Garrido

The US spied on Mexico because Joe Biden wanted insider info on potential bro Pena Nieto

Yes–this is far-fetched. However, when you’re 70 years old and have a tendency to run your mouth, it can get lonely, especially when your boss is busy macking on a stern German lady. It was discovered last month that the NSA hacked into Pena Nieto’s email while he was still campaigning for the Mexican Presidency. Obama has professed to have no knowledge of this spying (does this imply that he knew about the other stuff?), so that leaves Biden. This guy left the US in the middle of the debate over whether the US should strike Syria’s government to visit Pena Nieto, though he cancelled a scheduled trip to Panama soon after. And look at how happy he looks there! Is that because he learned from sifting through Pena Nieto’s private emails that the Mexican President prefers chilaquiles and a michelada after a night of heavy drinking? I’d say he’s in as long as he can speak Spanish better than George W. Bush….but a drunken pigeon can speak Spanish better than Dubya, so Biden’s good.

The next big Mexican show: El Jefe y El Tarugo

George W. Bush actually initiated the spying on Mexican officials to improve his piss-poor Spanish

“But wait!” the discerning reader will exclaim. “It is reported that the NSA initiated its surveillance on top Mexican officials years before the bro-bug bit Biden!” Yes, discerning, alliteration-loving reader. It was actually Dubya who dreamed up this spying scheme in a bid to learn to speak “fancy-style Spanish.” The hapless former President found he could make himself understood when asking for a hotel with two single beds, but ran into trouble when he tried to discuss foreign policy or other smart-person stuff. And when he tried to speak of these things in Spanish, he was even less successful. He tried to enlist the help of Rosetta Stone, but concluded that it would make more sense to spy on officials to learn authentic “Mexico talk.” His reasoning was that Mexicans seem to have different ways of saying things. For example, he heard Spaniards refer to him as “el Presidente de los Estados Unidos,” whereas in Mexico they frequently called him “ese pinche pendejo.” Further confusion abounded when former Mexican President Calderon referred to Bush simply as “el tarugo ese.” Dubya may have to take this riddle to the grave….

The US put France under surveillance due to reports of animal abuse

After learning that the French for real eat frog legs, top US officials commented: “WTF?? That’s an actual thing? We thought it was just a racist stereotype!” They then began monitoring France’s communications because of the enormous threat this gastronomical practice posed to frogs everywhere. One of the US government’s top foreign and domestic policy initiatives has in recent years been the protection of the rights of animals everywhere….ok I’m fooling no one with this crap.

Canada and the US spy on their allies because we are shitty.

There is no plausible explanation that justifies it. There is no Hitchcockian plot twist executed by Cary Grant to save our dignity. But who needs dignity when you can make a boatload of cash by conducting industrial espionage on your allies? Haha sucker-fool allies–now who’s the tarugo?

After being an unenthusiastic Albertan my whole life, over a year ago I made a big move to Toronto. Moving allowed me to gain a whole new perspective about my home province, and, for the most part, Alberta comes out on top. The people there are better (or at least they are in my little Edmonton hipster-bubble), the economy is superior (but I don’t want to hear about it anymore), and the mall is bigger (yep–I ran out of stuff). But apart from these admittedly important things, lots of weird shit goes on in Alberta, and I find myself at a loss to explain why. I’ve settled on a combination of extremely cold air,  hazardous oil fumes, and an ill-healed emotional scar left by Pierre Trudeau. (Just write Alberta off now, Justin!) Whatever the reason, these are some of the things that make Alberta special in a bad way.

image: Ron Paul.com

Alberta has unruly libertarians!

Congrats, Alberta, we made The Economist for something other that oil! This week’s The Economist has an article about Alberta’s own “Freemen,” a group of winners who have declared themselves free of any governmental obligations, and this lack of obligation seems to extend to fellow citizens as well. One freeman, Andreas Pirelli, seized a Calgary woman’s home and declared it his embassy, while more were found squatting in cabins near Grande Prairie.

So to sum it up, when Americans have these attitudes, they become tea party Republicans. When Canadians start hating government, they go to Alberta (though plenty are rurally born and bred) and do idiotic things like sue the Justice Minister for $1,000 quadrillion. Many of them call themselves Freemen-on-the-land, but I’d prefer to call them Douchebags-on-the-loose.

Alberta has Mennonites with Mexican drug cartel connections!

Here are some Albertans who know how to successfully build a pipeline. In September it was discovered that a community of Mennonites in Grassy Lake, Alberta, had established a cocaine smuggling pipeline. The US Drug Enforcement Administration confiscated thirty kilos of cocaine on its way to small town Alberta, and intercepted another 11,000 pounds of it farther south. Apparently they were smuggling it in tractors. How very agrarian of them.

This may seem random, but the Mennonites living in northern Mexico, which just happens to be Mexico’s drug-trafficking hub, lived in Manitoba before emigrating in the 1920s. The Canadian and Mexican Mennonite communities have since maintained close ties, and when Mexican Mennonites fell on hard times in recent years, they seem to have forged close ties with the Juarez Cartel too.

All I could think when I heard this news was Fort McMurray. My second thought was Mennonites are to blame for Deezy tha Don. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write!

image: someone’s phone

Wild Politicians!

While this didn’t technically happen in Alberta, Mike Allen, member of the governing Progressive Conservative caucus, was arrested in July on charges of solicitation of a prostitute in a public place while on business in Minnesota. I know I just made this joke about Arkansas, but, really, what else is there to do in Minnesota? In any event it’s not every day that a politician is arrested for solicitation of a prostitute (more accurately, two prostitutes) while representing his constituency on official business.

Then there’s resident nutbar Rob Anders, who has the distinction of being the only MP to vote against making Nelson Mandela an honorary Canadian citizen. His reason was that Mandela is a communist and terrorist. That’s a pretty good reason, actually.

Wild Pheasants!

The Edmonton Journal reports that this week, 16,000 pheasants will be released into Alberta. Cool! Why? It’s pheasant huntin’ season. So thousands of pheasants are bred by weirdos so they can be shot in the wild by aforementioned weirdos?

Wait–I think my dad was somehow involved in this at some point. I vaguely recall having been forced to eat pheasant for Sunday dinner…that’s not a pleasant memory.

Experts affirm that this is a vital part of Alberta’s culture and tradition. I affirm that this is a great way to reinforce Alberta stereotypes. Because even over-employed, gun-toting populaces need their own unique version of the Hunger Games! Sorry to rag on Alberta’s culture, but how incredibly lame. They should probably release a few extra this year since the Freemen are likely getting hungry out there…

image: Calgary Herald

WILDROSE

Alberta’s 2012 provincial election will surely go down in history as one of the more bizarre events of Alberta politics. Perhaps I say this because I was personally involved in one of the campaigns, but this election had more plot twists than a Mexican soap opera (which typically recycles the same three). How delightful that Albertans almost elected a little party called Wildrose to a majority government. Its libertarian leader, Danielle Smith, is skeptical of the science behind climate change, calling it inconclusive and electing instead to do nothing until more is known of this elusive phenomenon. Wildrose may have prevailed if not for the asinine comments of two of its candidates. One warned that gay people would “suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire,” while another commented that he was a good candidate because he was white and could therefore speak for all people. Because that’s always worked so well, historically.

There is no doubt–strange things happen in Alberta, and strange things are in Alberta. Where else can you find a dinosaur park with real live mechanical dinosaurs? And unlimited broadband? Yep–those racist, pheasant-hunting libertarians sure do lead wacky, cocaine-fuelled lives. It’s enough to make me miss Alberta ever so slightly.

I just finished writing a monster of a comparative piece on Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Brazil’s Lula. My head hurts and I am both confused and outraged. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I uncovered a plethora of rhetorical gems from Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro. Unlike Chavez, whose diatribes were fairly consistent (George W. Bush=Hitler/Satan, capitalism=bad), ol’ Wildcard Maduro seems to reside in a magical fantasyland of talking birds and evil superheroes. It’s awesome for me, though not so much for the Venezuelan people.

image: heavy.com

Ongoing Chav-bird Drama

Maduro claims that the late Hugo Chavez appeared to him in the form of a bird. This appearance coincided with Maduro’s campaign to succeed Chavez, but that’s an irrelevant detail. What did Bird-Chavez tell him?

Maduro explained, “I felt him there, like he was giving us his blessing, saying: ‘Today the battle starts. Go to the victory. You have our blessings.’ That is how I felt it in my soul.”

Hmm…..and then what?

“Then I stared at him and whistled back… The bird looked strange at me, right? He whistled for a little while, flew around and left, and I felt the spirit of [Chavez],” said Maduro.

And you’re sure he wasn’t looking at you strange because you are a grown man whistling at a little bird? Nah…

Chav-bird appeared again in June, but Maduro was pretty vague about the details of their conversation. That’s the thing about Bird language–you gotta use it or you’ll lose it.

Quoting the Bible

“Multiply ourselves, like Christ multiplied the penises.”

I know, it’s a low blow to make fun of someone’s less than perfect English language skills, especially when he’s quoting the Bible…but I never claimed to be a good person. I sure hope he speaks Bird better than this!

On how Spiderman directly contributes to Venezuela’s crime rate

“This kid, at 14 years old, carries a 9mm with a mind filled by thousands of hours of shows where people are killed,” Maduro said, according to the Bolivian newspaper La Opinión. “I start to think how many thousands of hours of violence that kid will have consumed, in the end, stimulated by consumerism and violence when he grabs a 9 mm and goes to kill.”

Gee–no one has ever connected the media with violence before! However, Mr. Maduro will be heartened to learn that many species of birds eat spiders. If Chav-bird does, then Spidey is toast 🙂

Asked to speculate on Spiderman’s motives for causing such strife and suffering in Venezuela, he had this to say:

“Stimulated by such consumerism and violence, no wonder he goes out and kills.”

Let’s go ahead and blow past that one…

Maduro waves to the crowd as he and his fellow riders take a spin around the center of Caracas.

image: Reuters

On crashing into mayor of Caracas on a bike and then falling down

“Let he who falls get up again and he who gets up again, keep on pushing.”

Words worthy of the great liberator Simon Bolivar himself. Except that you are the leader of a whole goddamn country and you don’t have the wherewithal to carry on a conversation and ride a bicycle at the same time. Get your shit together son.

Randomly expelling three US diplomats at an official ceremony

“Out of Venezuela! Yankees go home! Enough of abuse against the dignity of a peace-loving nation,” he said.

Surprise! You guys officially suck. I know that you were in cahoots with Spiderman, btw.

image: Alessando Bianchi/Reuters

On the selection process of Pope Francis

“We know that our commander ascended to the heights and is face-to-face with Christ. Something influenced the choice of a South American pope, someone new arrived at Christ’s side and said to him: ‘Well, it seems to us South America’s time has come.”

Someone new? Who could that be?!

Chavez “may also call a constitutional assembly in Heaven at any moment to change the church on Earth.”

Oh I get it. How does Maduro know all this though? Did Chav-bird tell him?

image: ultimasnoticias.com.ve

Insulting opponent Henrique Capriles by calling him gay

“I do have a wife, you know? I do like women!” Maduro told a rally. He has also called Capriles “a little princess.”

Burn! He’s like totally gay.

NB: This blogger would like to take this opportunity to offer to marry Capriles because he’s a stone cold dreamboat. Just sayin’.

Backpedaling after backlash over immature Capriles comments

“If I were homosexual I would be proud about it and I would love whoever I loved with my heart, without problem,” he said.

OK princess.

But Capriles probably won’t get to enjoy his homosexual lifestyle for long…

“We have detected plans by the far right, linked to the groups of (former Bush administration officials) Roger Noriega and Otto Reich, to make an attempt against the opposition presidential candidate,” Nicolas Maduro said.

Gee it’s nice that they’re so concerned about his safety (:

…or are they?

“The first thing we have to do is shoot [Capriles] legally, make him resign his office, and take him prisoner.”

Whaaa? Oh sorry this was taken out of context. This is right after Maduro accused Capriles of bringing in Colombian mercenaries to destabilize Venezuela. It all makes sense now….?!

All I have to say about this, Maduro, is that when you’ve retired and live in an arboretum with Chav-bird, and when all the Spidermen and Capriles and US diplomats have been defeated, just still never stop talking. Because it brings so many people so much joy.

Dear President Obama:

I know you’re pretty busy right now and probably don’t have time to listen to a weird, hyperactive college student from Canada, but I assure you that you will be glad that you did, Mr President. Though I often stand impotent in the face of problems in my personal life, I believe I have the solution you have been hoping to find. Now I know it’s been one crisis after another, from uncertainty over whether to act in Syria to the Fiscal Cliff to the Sequester to the Final Shutdown to Obamacare to uncertainty over whether to engage with Iran to Larry Summers to Scientology. Ok that last one is not your problem yet, but I feel it’s making it’s way over to you, you know? Doesn’t all this just make you want to have a nice, smokey cigarette? Oh yeah, your wife sequestered your smoking habit 😥

…or did she shut it down? Or throw it off a fiscal cliff? What would a fiscal cliff even look like in real life? I imagine a mountain of money, and then a cliff just right at the end there. I know I’m off topic now, but I just had to ask. Let’s get back to the business of how I have solved your problem.

You see, Mr President, I fancy myself a modern day Jimmy Swaggart: able to solve the problems of others with the utmost ease while my own life is secretly in the shitter. Excuse my language, Mr President, but I understand that you are friends with Jay Z and therefore may have heard foul language before in your life. How is Jay Z by the way??? Is he enjoying his child and his messy friend Kanye? Do you and Michelle go on double dates with Beyonce and Jay? Sorry–I’m very nosy today!

BFFs ❤

Anyway, let me get to the point. The US is quickly approaching the debt ceiling for the fifteenth time in ten seconds (kidding! LOLZ). There has been talk of minting a trillion dollar coin, but this solution, along with declaring US default unconstitutional, has been nixed for primarily legal reasons but also because Republicans have stupid faces. But you know that, Mr President! In all seriousness, if a solution is not reached soon, the US is at risk of defaulting on its loans, which will roil already unstable markets and leave recipients of social security destitute.

So. There are over 3100 people who define themselves as mathematicians on their tax returns, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more who work as professors and janitors. What you need to do is take some of these people–as many as you can–and let them do some math. Only difference is they’ll be doing it for a useful purpose this time.

Bitcoin! The digital currency favored by drug dealers and libertarians alike. You put about 10,000 mathematicians to work mining Bitcoins, and in no time you will have more crypto-currency than you’ll know what to do with. Bitcoin has just crashed (again) due to the closure of major illegal drug marketplace Silk Road, so you know those Bitcoins will be worth some crazy cheese soon. And I know that there are only 10.5 million Bitcoins left to be mined, as it’s a finite currency, but, as you know, we as a society give our currency value by agreeing that it’s valuable. So, while deflation of Bitcoin is arguably inevitable (and desirable if you’re of the Austrian persuasion), we can mine low and sell high before deflation occurs, thus giving the government sufficient fiat currency to pay its bills. (Where fiat=not psycho-loonytoon currency.) Just don’t spend it too fast, or you’ll prove Rand Paul a wise man. And that would be hard to recover from, both politically and personally.

What a hottie!!

Perhaps you are wondering what the US would do without all those mathematicians working hard to solve…math stuff. Well since the unemployment rate of mathematicians is lower than the national average, you don’t have a sufficient pool to draw from. But guess what? Millions of people are unemployed in the US–just give them the jobs! Like math professor? What’s that? It’s pretty much babysitting a bunch of hungover first-years who are too busy wondering whether they’ve contracted an STI to pay attention. And what does a mathematician do? According to some guy called G. H. Hardy, a mathematician is a “maker of patterns.” So they’re pretty much glorified seamstresses.

Now Mr. President I know you have one more question: What will you do with all the extra time you will have now that you don’t have to bicker with Republicans and keep Biden from talking to the press? Actually still do that second thing… But my advice is for you to take some time. Watch some Hannah Montana with your family, kick back, and enjoy a delicious tar ciggie. Your wife won’t mind–after all, you’ve just saved the world from certain doom.

Respectfully,

Kristen P.