Top 7 Most Insouciant World Army Recruiting TV Ads

They’re not actually insouciant. They’re kind of the opposite of that. Inspired by the rockin’ Russian paratroopers (is it just me, or does that look like the world’s least cool obstacle course those guys are running through? ‘cuz that’s the most laughable thing in there…), I’ve now found a whole new category of crap to browse for on YouTube. Most countries’ ads look like slightly localized versions of what you see in the States. Others are more special.

Vaguely Related Posts: What I Learned About the Navy from Watching Carrier, US War Deaths per Day by Conflict and How Iraq Compares

7. The nice thing about the Irish armed forces is that everything moves at such a relaxed pace — not even the helicopter rotors are in a hurry. It’s concerning that the medics are so deliberate, but — well, it’s not like the Irish are getting shot at all that often anyway.

6. India is a very straightforward culture. How many other countries can recruit soldiers by showing them getting shot and killed? (This was the only country *I* found.)

5. Crucially, this Lebanese ad points out that there are some good looking women in Lebanon. Assuming they’re not actresses from Syria (although Syrian actresses *in* Lebanon would still count). And I’m guessing the soldier in the ad would prefer they give him a *different* kind of salute. (Wouldn’t we all…?)

4. Taekwondo in the rain? Inspecting delivery trucks while wearing haz-mat suits? I’m in! I like that the Czechs don’t promise too much. I don’t get the impression they’re expecting to take over the world, they’re just trying to — I dunno — pick a side and see how it goes I guess.

3. And if the Finns took on the Irish, that’d be the slowest war in history.

2. Join the Russian army and you’ll get hot chicks and go dancing. Things are hard in Russia — in the US you get the same reward just for drinking the right brand of beer. And if this is how Russian soldiers are treated by the hot-looking locals, why are they all turning up in Liberty City? (Because Liberty City is Ukranians. I know.)

Every time I watch that one, I’m hoping she’ll push him over the railing and into the water. But she never does.

1. Say what you will for the Israeli army, they know how to speak the international language: awkward shame.

That’s it. Tune in next time when I point out the flaws in how Webster defines “insouciant”.


Part of a Scene That’s Getting Cut from My Novel

Should I still bother posting about writing now that I cut the ties to LiveJournal? Here’s hoping C06 is still in the house. I’m still (technically) working on my war novel, as I will be from now until I either finish it or die. Or just stop working on it. Came back across this scene and it still seems like a shame it’s getting cut. This is what I get for not knowing what my story is about before starting it.

Tja. Enjoy it maybe. I’ll miss it.

Dave shined his penlight on the mountain of olive drab sea bags piled against the storage bay bulkhead. He didn’t see his name, but his bag must be buried in there somewhere. He switched off the penlight and felt for a bag, grabbed onto it, then threw it against the far wall. It landed with a heavy sigh and he reached for another bag, picked it up, and threw it.

Dave’s clothes stuck to him. He took off his undershirt and listened for footsteps outside the hold: there was nothing but the thrum of the ship’s engines. He rolled up the shirt and wedged it into his pants at the small of his back, then grabbed another seabag off the pile and threw it toward the opposite wall. He picked up another and threw it, then another, which rattled when it hit the ground. Then Dave pulled his penlight back out of his pocket and waved it across the pile. Still didn’t see his name.

The room smelled like mildew and Dave’s own sweat, a drop of which dripped onto his upper lip. He blew upward at it until it flew off his face, then set his penlight onto the deck. He picked up the next bag and tossed it aside, then the next, then the next, then the next, then — there it was. In the circle of light he saw his name stenciled white in the mass of green: PFC. DAVID A. WOOLFORD.

Dave wrestled his bag out of the pile, then heard voices outside the hatch. He dropped the bag, fell to the deck, picked up the penlight, switched it off. He scooted into the pile of seabags, pulled his on top of himself, and waited.

First Voice: “…been gambling dirty since they been on board.”

Second Voice: “I’ll be glader’n hell to get their green asses off our boat.”

Their footsteps stopped outside the hatch.

“Don’t gotta say that twice.” The first voice paused and Dave smelled cigarette smoke. “But hell, much as I hate ‘em, them boys could all be dead tomorrow, y’know?”

The second voice had a soft drawl to it. “Well better them than us.”

“Ah, that’s low.” Dave imagined the sailor pulling a draw from his cig. “Some of them got mommas too, y’know.”

“The hell?” the second said. “Marines got mommas?”

The smoke smelled like Camels. Dave hadn’t smelled Camel smoke since New River and the scent left him yearning for the swamp.

“Well,” the first said. “Thems as got mommas, I’ll feel bad for. ‘Cept thems as’s been cheatin’ at cards.”

“I’ll drink to that,” the second said.

“Yeah? Whatcha gonna drink?”

“I got a stash o’ beers in engineering.”

“No shit?”

“No shit. You comin’?”

“Don’t gotta ask me twice.”

Their footsteps clanked across the steel deck away from the storage bay.

Likewise clanking,


What I Learned About the Navy from Watching Carrier on PBS

If you haven’t watched it, it’s a pretty engaging ten-hour series that follows the six-month deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to the Persian Gulf in 2005 (you can watch the entire series over the net by following the above link). Obviously the people who made the series chose to follow the lives of individuals whom they thought would make good stories — meaning that the main characters aren’t necessarily representative of rank-and-file Navy folk. Oh well. Here’s what it taught me:

  • Not that many enlisted personnel enjoy being in the navy.
  • Officers seem pretty okay with it. (So did the NCOs for that matter — but were they happy because they were NCOs or did they become NCOs because they were happy?)
  • Navy fighter pilots are frat-boy braggarts — the flight wing’s CO and XO made Top Gun seem true-to-life, at least in terms of the over-the-top egotism of its main chars.
  • It seemed like most of the officers were in favor of the war, while enlisted personnel were more split.
  • Most of the naval personnel who talked about the war in Iraq and the “War on Terror” had opinions no more erudite or well-considered than anyone else’s.
  • Most naval personnel seemed to regard the navy as a job.
  • Based on what was shown in the series, marines on the other hand view the Marine Corps as a way-of-life (and their opinions on the war seemed more deferential: “I’m a marine, it’s my job to obey orders, not to have opinions”).
  • There are some sucky jobs in the navy. Looks like if you find yourself enlisting you should get language put into your contract that prevents them from ever making you a cook, a janitor, or a grease monkey.
  • Getting catapulted off the carrier deck looked pretty fun. Rendezvousing with a tanker to refuel looked pretty irritating.
  • For all the griping in the show, it didn’t by a long shot kill the romantic notion of navy-as-adventure.


New Look for the Old Blog

Spent a decent part of this weekend installing and then customizing a new theme for the blog. The one upside to WordPress’s growing dominance in the field of blog platforms is the ubiquity of free, available themes. The one downside is that, for the most part, the themes usually leave a lot to be desired in the realm of customizations. PHP seems to be a write-only language. Fortunately, this new theme is the most explicably written I’ve found thusfar. Not that I changed a whole lot about it other than the color scheme and some images, but still, the fact that I was able to figure out where to go to change the scheme and images says a lot about the straightforward nature of how the theme was put together.

And now that the new theme’s installed, I can go back to my favorite pastime of identifying and discussing What’s Wrong with Everything.


PS: No, the now-visible blog sub-title wasn’t meant to be ironic.

Happy VE Day

So I got another two hours left for this headline to remain valid. May 8th, Victory in Europe Day. Hope yours was a happy one.

In the spirit of the day:

  • Favorite WWII European Theater of Operations Book: Up Front, Bill Mauldin
  • Favorite WWII ETO Movie: The Great Escape or Das Boot
  • Favorite WWII ETO Airplane: P-51
  • Favorite WWII ETO Video Game: Call of Duty 2
  • Favorite WWII ETO Brand Identity: Free France
  • Favorite WWII ETO Animal: Voytek the Polish soldier bear

Also, since we’re on it, my vote for the grimmest WWII ETO location –> Mittelbau Dora. If you’re ever in the area and you’re up for it, it’s worth the visit.


Is Reuters Dumb Enough for *You* Yet?

Cuz they’re dumb enough for *me*! Now. Headline today:

Anger, despair in main Myanmar city as prices soar

“Main Myanmar city”, eh? “Main Myanmar city”? So is Angkor Wat “that famous, weird stone temple-looking thing you might have seen a picture of and that’s in that one Asian country”? How about Reuters gives us a dateline of “that place where Kim Jong Il lives most of the time”? Back when I was working in “main United States city on the east coast, but not the capital”, could I have referred to our office address as “920 That One Street Where All the Musicals and Theaters Are and Times Square Is, but in a Totally Different Neighborhood from That Stuff”? I used to like picking up the R train at “station named after a street famous for being the location of a well-known stock exchange” as it was arriving from “that part of the really big American city where people talk funnier than in some of the other parts of that same city”.

Anger, despair — screw food prices, they’re angry and despairing because western journos think so highly of their country they can’t name the freakin’ capital. Or just don’t want to because it might confuse someone. Or just don’t want to because it might fail to entice people into read the story. Heck, there’s only 6,000,000 people who live in that main city. Then there was that whole “fast moving wind situation that moves around like a gigantic whirling funnel” that kind of wrecked the place. Maybe that made them angry too.

And in the news today, I hear that “black man who wants to be president and gives nice speeches” did well in “state where tobacco comes from” today, but it doesn’t look like “white woman who wants to be president and whose husband used to be” has conceded the nomination yet after her “non-losing effort” in “state where they have that one main car race”.

After work tonight, representatives from “the main company that has a really popular website that a lot of people use in order to find other stuff on the internet and that’s really well known” took us out slick-track racing. That was cool. The place was located in “kind-of main city in the small, prosperous local county where there are some office buildings (and a slick-track place)” just off of “street with the funny sort-of Dutch-sounding name”. And afterward, after hanging out a while at the track, I took “big road with eight lanes with a 65-mph speed limit that runs sort-of along the coast from foothills north of main American city on the southerly part of the west coast all the way to the southern-middle part of the small, local, prosperous county” home. I actually merged with another freeway along the way, but I don’t want to get into that.

“Yangon” or, in the old rendering, “Rangoon”. Six million people.

I wish someone could tell me whether (a) the world’s getting dumber or (b) I’m just becoming more aware of how dumb it’s always been.

Pray for Mojo.


Energymania II: Monster vs. Red Bull vs. Rockstar vs. Full Throttle

So here’s my current Top 3:

  1. Monster Khaos – The spelling hurts and it doesn’t taste as good as Full Throttle Fury. On the other hand, it has 40% less sugar, which I’m guessing is why it out-buzzes FTF for me. And the taste is far from awful — there’s very little of the sulfuric aftertaste in this one, instead it’s more like a chewable vitamin that’s been melted down and slightly carbonated.
  2. Full Throttle Fury – This is the only energy drink whose taste is actually bona fide *good*. To me. It’s like a high-sucrose orange soda with an adult-style kick to it. ‘Course, as mentioned, it’s exceptional in the sugar category, which I *think* dampens its energy-given qualities, but still, it really does taste good.
  3. Rockstar Juiced Guava – I don’t think it has the buzz effect of regular Rockstar, but on the other hand it doesn’t taste like cream soda and rotten eggs.

After those three there’s a big gap. Regular Monster, Red Bull, and Rockstar are tough for me to choke down. Eh — that’s probably too harsh, but they don’t taste that great and the energy kick doesn’t seem to be any better as a result of the weird taste. I was once a big fan (a month and a half ago) of regular Rockstar Juiced, but something in it started giving me indigestion, which has taken the shine off the experience (despite tasting okay and having a good energy contribution). I don’t get how Red Bull managed to fuel this energy drink boom — the taste seems too odd for mass appeal to me, although it’s essentially the same flavor as regular Rockstar and Monster.

Other Full Throttle variants — Regular and Blue Demon — aren’t bad tasting (similar to drinking an acidic Mountain Dew and a highly carbonated green apple Jolly Rancher, respectively), but they’re too acidic for my mouth to deal with. I end up with a sore tongue, similar to when I eat/drink citrus. Which is odd given that I’m not sure an actual fruit juice has ever come within a mile of either of those variants. Unless agave’s a fruit now. Neither delivers more energy than Fury, though, so there’s no sense in my spending much time worrying about Regular or Blue Demon when there are better options available.

For the sake of expressing the totality of my experience, I’ve also experimented with Amp Energy Overdrive, which to me was extremely similar to drinking a Code Red. Nothing wrong with that, but it didn’t seem to have any of the extra impact of a “true” energy drink. Also tried something called “Daredevil” once, but it tasted as bad as anything and had the smoothness, character, and packaging timidity of a down-market me-too product.

I’ll keep updating as events warrant.


The Problem with Direct Democracy Is That It Sucks

We live in a fantastic society. It’s one in which it’s not possible to leave a Target store without someone trying to get you to sign a petition for something or other. See? Fantastic.

Direct democracy and referendums are bad. Aside from the Target hassles, here’s why:

We already have a government. Several of them in fact — federal, state, county, city, school district. Plenty of levels of government. Direct democracy (those neat “ballot measures” that seem particularly exciting to us self-important Californians) constitutes yet another level of government. Only this one cannot be easily trumped, doesn’t have to make decisions unless it feels like it wants to, never gets held accountable for what it’s done, doesn’t even have to *pretend* to understand the decisions it’s making, and can’t be voted out of office no matter what kind of crap it does.

Further, direct democracy panders to idiots. “Everyone” hates taxes. “Everyone” wants someone else to give them stuff (like a free education for their kids). Therefore, everyone wants to have laws that lower taxes and increase entitlements (read: government spending). Therefore, wily states like California end up with referendum-mandated laws that both restrict the state government’s capacity to tax while at the same time requiring minimum levels of spending.

I hate taxes. But even more damaging is a government that writes checks it has no capacity to cover. Everyone loses — yes, including the suckers that voted in favor of these referendums. Uniformly brilliant.

Vote NO on everything.


You Know the World’s Becoming a Better Place When…

The people who deliver the yellow pages books stop leaving them at your doorstep and instead drop them off within six feet of your recycling bin.

yellow pages recycling bin

Out of gratitude for their astonishing courtesy I was tempted to, like, keep this one. But how often do you get the opportunity to throw away yellow pages as quickly and conveniently as *this*?!


My First Red Egg and Ginger Party

I finally got to go to a *real* Chinese party. Finally, finally, finally! Here’s my one photo:

red eggs and ginger at a party

In case you’re wondering, the Red Egg and Ginger Party celebrates a baby’s first month of being alive. The event, as shown above in a photo taken from my cell, begins with the serving of red eggs and ginger. There was a lot of food. The waiters never smiled or in any way implied that they were okay with being there, which I understand is also traditional. There was no dancing and no costumes and, contrary to what might suggest, no magician. Just food. Here’s what I recall (in order of appearance except where I screwed up in remembering):

  1. Red eggs and ginger.
  2. (Cold) fried pork and jelly fish.
  3. Fried and deep-fried shrimp with vegetables.
  4. Hockey puck-sized scallops.
  5. Duck and rolls (arguably my favorite part — this or Shrimp I, but maybe this) (also my favorite activity during air raids).
  6. Hot and sour crab soup.
  7. Lobster.
  8. Partially breaded fish with skin and head.
  9. Mushroom and sea cucumber — or something. I couldn’t tell if they were joking or not.
  10. Shrimp fried rice.
  11. Sugar and red bean soup (I’m sure there’s a real name for it, but I think this is descriptive enough).
  12. Mango mousse cake.

Big thanks to Fancy J for indulging me with the invite (and congrats on the baby, he looks like a winner — no joke). The party was at a well-regarded (Chinese) restaurant in Monterey Park, the home of well-regarded Chinese restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area. Again, no joke. One of our discussions over dinner was my preference for Americanized Chinese food over Sinoficated Chinese food. I suck that way, but at least I can admit it. I wouldn’t mind a $4.95 beef-and-broccoli lunch special at a Korean-owned, strip-mall-located restaurant *right now*, come to think of it.

So now that I’ve finally gotten into one of these exclusive Chinese dinner parties, I can stop cozying up to random East Asians just to try and get invites. That’s a weight off, I’ll tell you what.