A Farewell to Arms? Fat Chance

A Canadian is sort of like an American, but without the gun

Pierre Trudeau

There is a huge, can’t-miss sign that looms over the leafy, luxuriant lawns that surround the headquarters of the National Rifle Association in Virginia in the United States of America. 

The sign, next to a statue of a grinning, bare-chested  Charlton Heston brandishing an assault weapon, is a warning: “Trespassers will be shot.”

There is a postscript in smaller lettering: “Survivors will be shot again.” 

The NRA is a vastly influential institution in the US that exists to make sure that the American powers-that-be do not infringe the constitutional rights of ordinary Americans, specifically the right of all red-blooded Americans to have as many guns as they might want.

One shoe-bomb which failed to detonate was all it took to compel all airline passengers nowadays to take off their shoes for a check. But an average of 310 people getting shot every day in the US does not seem to have sufficiently moved anyone to consider changing US gun laws. 

If guns were outlawed, the thinking went, then only the outlaws would have them and that was unthinkable. And the body saw no irony in the fact that it was precisely the case in most other countries where school shootings were unimaginable. 

The President of the NRA was a cigar-puffing patriot who loved the smell of napalm in the morning and believed deeply in Mom, apple pie and the flag provided it did not inhibit the right of people to own as many guns as they could shoot. 

His secretary liked to tell visiting journalists that his favourite film was Snow White. Indeed, his room had a poster that paraphrased the very film: “Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s hand grenades we throw.”

His philosophy was simple and he liked to boast that it could be traced all the way back to Thomas Jefferson: those who beat swords out of ploughshares were likely to get shot by those who didn’t.

It might have been the late John Lennon who best encapsulated the absurdity of the American passion for firearms. 

While recording the White Albumin 1968, Lennon noticed a magazine in the studio whose headline screamed: “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” 

A warm gun is a gun that has recently been fired and the writer was trying to equate that warmth with happiness. “I thought it was such an insane, fantastic thing to say,” Lennon would tell reporters years later in explaining how he came up with the superb track in the first place. 

Incidentally, the magazine was called American Rifleman which is an NRA publication. So you could even say the body influenced some of the best music of the 1960s. 

It does not, however,  render Mr Lennon’s death – by gunshot wound – any less insane. 

And talking of guns,  a car dealership in Alabama is giving away Bibles, flags and guns for a Fourth of July special in the name of patriotism. 

From now until July 31, Chatom Ford will offer customers a Bible, an American flag and a gift certificate for a 12-gauge shotgun when they purchase any new or used vehicle. 

In a promotional video titled “God, Guns and Freedom,” manager Koby Palmer cocks a shotgun in front of a red truck with an American flag draped across the back.

And what do you think the reaction has been like? 

Hostile? Critical? Any suggestion that Mr Ford might be insane?  

Nope. The cars are being sold out amid universal acclaim. 

Getting A Rush Out Of Records

The only difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits

Albert Einstein

David Rush of Washington State in the United States of  America was the sort of fellow who’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize so it wasn’t a surprise to see him going for his own place in history.

Mr Rush intended to get himself into the Guinness Book of World Records by way of yet another insanely senseless feat that would not, could not and never would do anything for the price of fish. 

He wanted to be the planet’s record holder for stuffing the most blueberries in a human mouth at any one time.

“Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition restored and success achieved,“ said Helen Keller. Or, as they say back in Seremban; “Even the smallest dog can lift its leg on the Kuala Lumpur City Centre.”

The intrepid Mr Rush had done his due diligence. The Guinness Book had listed one Dinesh Shivnath Upadhyaya as the current record holder. Through fasting, prayer and abstinence, he’d managed to fit 86 blueberries in his mouth.

But Mr Upadhyaya had had good reason to be listed as a Guinness record holder. A freshly minted American citizen, the good Mr Upadhyaya was tired of the American penchant for continually misspelling his name.

So he came up with an idea.

The would be blueberry stuffer felt that winning a Guinness award would emblazon his name in US history and thereby forever etch the old family surname in the national consciousness.

Alas, poor Mr Upadhyaya. What happened was that his blueberry-stuffing-stab at immortality got him re-christened “Maximouth.”

As Johnny Carson once quipped: “If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.”

Mr Rush had no such compunctions. He had already won a number of mentions in the Guinness Book including but not limited to holding 100 lighted candles in a human mouth for a minute. It was an act that spoke volumes about the human condition and had about as much use to mankind as a wooden frying pan or the “p” in pterodactyl.

The former danger-defying-swashbuckler explained that he achieved his latest title by stuffing 148 blueberries into his mouth at the same time. Just to be sure, however, he’d brought along an equivalent number of other berries.

To be sure, it wasn’t a completely fruitless day.

Lest anyone miss this massive accomplishment, Mr Rush thoughtfully posted a video online showing how anyone who felt so inclined might fit 148 blueberries in his mouth and hold them there for a full five seconds.

The critics all agreed that it was riveting: it combined all of the excitement of double entry bookkeeping with the terror of a dental examination.

Mr Rush was a man of rectitude who did not condone fraud so he was careful to spit the blueberries back out so they could be examined. They were and, lo, only an astonishing two of his original total were disqualified for breaking, leaving him with 146 for the record.

To celebrate the feat as being uniquely American, he posted an online picture captioned “Mom, the flag and apple pie.”

It featured Mr Rush’s mother against a backdrop of a US flag surrounded by 3.14 apples.

Where Jinns Fear To Tread

It is said that women can occasionally make fools out of men but we seem to have a Malaysian professor who’s more of a do-it-yourself type. 

One Professor Dr Mohd Zohdi Mohd Amin from Fakulti Pengajian Quran Dan Sunnah at the Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia has stated that dinosaurs weren’t animals but were jinns or what the Western world calls genies.

The comment drew hilarious responses on social media. Example: “If a university professor thinks that dinosaurs are genies, how can you blame an artiste for mistaking a sun bear for a dog?”

This was in reference to a singer arrested for harbouring a sun bear in her condominium. She was quoted as saying that she’d thought it had been a small dog.

But I digress. The dinosaur-researching prof says he based his conclusions on the hadith which says the Jinn species is made of 3 groups, namely dogs and snakes, the groups that fly in the air, and those that settle, move and are destructive.

The hadith refers to the words, actions or anything that received the silent approval of Prophet Muhammad. 

Why come up with such a statement in the first place? It’s neither here nor there for it can never be proved.  It’s like the saying “I think sex is better than logic but I can’t prove it.”

Not only is the statement unnecessary, the good Professor may be trying to rediscover the wheel. As far back as 1812, the science of palaeontology had discovered the first fossils of dinosaurs and it is now estimated that there were at least 500 distinct genera of the reptile.

There is reasonably objective proof of the existence of these reptiles. Mankind knows that dinosaurs existed well before homo sapiens made his entrance because we have their perfectly preserved bones, even remains of their faeces. Whole skeletons of the creatures exist in numerous museums around the world.

Indeed, the notion that all the dinosaurs perished after the earth collided with an asteroid millions of years ago may itself be only partially true. Birds, apparently, evolved from dinosaurs which means the breed still have some present-day relatives.

University faculty should realise that nothing is taught if nothing is learned. It’s a waste of taxpayer funds to put it bluntly.

Who knows? He could be the same guy who thought that a water bed could be made more bouncy if one used spring water.

Clearly, the academic was a sceptic. You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him think. Similarly, you could take the Prof to the National Dinosaur Museum in Canberra and ask him what he thinks of the exhibits. “Remains to be seen,” he would inevitably reply. 

Or you might tell him that you think you might have discovered a dinosaur skeleton and he would inevitably say it’s a fossil arm.  

Next, he’d be saying that you can’t hear a pterodactyl in the bathroom. Actually, he’s right: the “p” is silent.

Finally, here is a fun factoid about dinosaurs: 

The thesaurus not only has the most extensive vocabulary of the breed, it was also the first to perish, become extinct, be superseded, die out, vanish, become exterminated, become defunct…..

What Hath The U.S Wrought?

It was the poet T S Elliot who remarked on man’s propensity for self-deception: “Humankind cannot bear too much reality.”  

Could he have had Donald Trump in mind as its poster boy?

There was a giant statue of the Donald tweeting on a toilet accompanied by loud excerpts of his less than stellar comments. Among others: “I am a stable genius.” 

There was a sign flashing on the Tower of London that whispered volumes about his predecessor. It reminded everyone that while Mr. Obama had a 71% approval rating among Brits, President Trump’s approval rating stood at a forlorn 21%. 

There was an enormous, 20-foot blimp of Baby Trump in diapers looking indignant. 

And lest anyone miss the point, 75,000 people marched in the streets of London to protest President Donald Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom early this week. 

But Mr. Trump was living in an alternative reality. 

 “What protest?” the President parried the reporter who asked how he felt about his welcome to London. 

“I saw a small one,” Mr. Trump deadpanned cheerfully. “But it’s fake news, I’m sorry to say.”

It paid to be foolish. That was young Donald’s homespun philosophy as very early on, he realised that fools rush in…. and got the best seats. 

Almost three centuries ago, his countryman Benjamin Franklin recognised the species. “Any fool can criticise, condemn or complain,” noted old Ben sardonically. “And most fools do.” 

But what might be dismissed as laughable, even endearing, as a quality in a lesser mortal can take on sinister overtones when vested in a President of the United States. This is, after all, the Leader of the Free World, the guy with the finger on the nuclear trigger. 

This gets doubly chilling when we reflect on the words of Bertrand Russell. “Only the fool or the fanatic is absolutely certain of himself; the wise man is generally full of doubt.” 

In addition to possessing the certainty of a zealot, Potus had the adaptability of an amoeba. That is to say if at first he did not succeed, he apportioned blame. 

That was why the President generally wore a smile when things began to go wrong: he’d already found someone to blame for it. 

So when Prince Charles lectured him on the US’ rollback on climate change initiatives, he blamed “China, India and Russia” for worsening the problem. The US, meanwhile, had one of the “cleanest climates” around.

When the stock market rallied late last year, he took credit: when it dropped he blamed the Federal Reserve and its Governor. 

And when his Republican party fared poorly in the mid-term elections, he blamed the candidates themselves. If they had done well, he would have been the first to blow his trumpet because that was exactly what he did in the Senate race. 

It’s called selective accountability. 

And it isn’t clear if he listens to what he actually says. 

Consider this diatribe against the American Meghan Markle, now the princess of Sussex.

He said he would be a “much better princess” than Meghan Markle whom he dislikes as she’d called him a misogynist during the presidential campaign.

Calling her “a nasty woman,” Trump said, “If I were a princess, I would not be nasty. People would say, ‘Donald Trump is the nicest princess.’ Potus added that, “all a princess has to do is sit on a throne, and I would be very good at that also.”

“I sit between ten and twelve hours a day, minimum,” he said.

Finally, Trump said that, as Princess, he would do “a way better job at waving at people than Nasty Meghan does.”

“Meghan Markle’s waving is a disgrace,” he said. “I have the best waves.” You bet he has. If you don’t believe me, just ask him.

North Korea – Where Eagles Don’t Dare

When Albert Einstein quipped that “only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity and I’m not even sure about the former,” he must surely have been thinking of Kim Jong-Un.

When not plotting the murder of his half-brother in Malaysia, Dear Respected, as he was fondly called by the North Korean media, was preoccupied by lofty matters of state like thinking up new and ingenious ways to get rid of his mostly imagined enemies.

Standout example: Pyongyang recently executed Kim Hyok Chol, its special envoy to the United States, and foreign ministry officials who carried out working-level negotiations for the second US-North Korea summit that collapsed in Hanoi, a South Korean newspaper reported on Friday. 

Even Mr Kim’s interpreter during his talks with President Trump was executed. Mr Kim thought there might have been many a slip between the cup and the lip and knew that you couldn’t be too careful in foreign policy. 

You can see why a citizen might be chary about working for the North Korean government?

Dear Respected had taken his grandfather’s management lessons to heart. While Kim Il-Sun had believed in management by assault, – he hit his officials over the head – his grandson had taken it a step further: He espoused leadership through assault with a deadly weapon.

Theodore Roosevelt summarised his foreign policy as “speak softly but carry a big stick”. Similarly, Dear Respected felt North Korea should speak softly but carry as many nukes as possible. 

He also thought that if at first he didn’t succeed, he should blame his officials, which generally explained the periodic purges, executions and public floggings. 

When he was younger, Respected used to see a therapist until the idiot told him that he might have a vengeance complex. “We’ll see about that,” snarled Dear and the fool was promptly executed. 

Even so, Dear Respected liked to think of himself as a well-liked leader and it might even have been true. A 2014 survey of the North Korean people by CNN found that most people, when confronted by the question, “how’s life in Pyongyang?” invariably answered, “can’t complain.” 

Dear Respected felt proud that North Korea possessed enough sophisticated scientific knowledge to churn out nuclear weapons and guided missile systems and felt that the people should be equally proud about those accomplishments and not carp about a small thing like a famine in the provinces.  

He thought that Marie Antoinette was ahead of her time and unjustly treated. When told that the French people were starving and had no bread, she replied: “Let them eat cake.” 

She lost her head because of that injudicious quip.

Secretly, the North Korean people longed for reunification with South Korea and an end to shortages, which they heard were unheard of in their southern neighbour.  

But the shortages persisted because of Dear Respected’s prodigious ineptitude. It was so great that he continually dug the North Korean economy into the ground. And if he deemed that the hole wasn’t deep enough, he would simply grab a shovel and keep digging. 

To soothe the people, he regaled them with motherhood statements. “True wealth isn’t measured by comparing yourself to others but enjoying what you have,” he would say. 

He specially liked the statement because he knew he had more than everyone else, combined.