The 00s in Film: Dystopia in the UK

“And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there?”
-V, V for Vendetta

“And now one for all the nostalgics out there. A blast from the past all the way back from 2003, that beautiful time when people refused to accept that the future was just around the corner.”
-Unnamed radio announcer, Children of Men

“He Who Seeks Revenge Should Dig Two Graves.”
-Revengers Tragedy

If I had to pick one recurring theme that defined the cinema of the “aughts,” it would be “dystopia.” And if I had to pick one recurring setting for that theme, it would be the island of Britain.

Not since 1984, or perhaps even 1984, have so many disasters befallen poor Albion. Sure, New York City has been invaded by aliens, flooded and frozen, or otherwise depopulated a number of times this decade. But these films were hardly subtle—the focus was either on the disaster itself or on an individual in his (and usually "his") struggle to survive it. By contrast, British writers and filmmakers have since the end of the Second World War drawn from a trope, termed by some as the "cosy catastrophe." Instead of being world or civilization ending, the cosy catastrophe turns the spotlight toward society, and how it copes during and after the crisis. This, combined with Britain acting as a foil for the United States or the West at large, has opened the door to examination of the aughts.


NYC Subway Geode Sales Pitch

memorize, repeat. make dat money.

excuse me ladies and gentlemen sorry for the inconvenience my name is Luke and I'm selling geodes no I'm not selling geodes for any church group or basketball team but just trying to put a little honest change in my pocket and keep me off the streets geodes are great because I found a bag of them at school I was supposed to be in class first period which is geology because my cousin says don't go to school sell rocks and make your money geodes are rocks they are mad trippy too and you can get lots of colors too the geodes I'm selling are blue or green and are one dollar thank you and god bless would anybody like any geodes would anybody like any geodes



Delevarophobia: (IPA: /ˈdɛləvɛərofəʊbi.ə/) “The hatred of the U.S. State of Delaware.”

I am a Delevarophobe and proud. Why dislike one of the smallest (and—as they will incessantly remind you—the first!) U.S. states? The reasons are legion.

Delaware is named after Thomas West, the Baron de la Warr, known for his time as a governor of Virginia Colony, during which he adapted tactics previously utilized to crush Irish resistance to British rule toward crushing the Powhattan Indians. Though located in the Mid-Atlantic region, having little agricultural utility for slavery, and even freeing slaves gradually through manumission until in 1860 over 90% of the black population were freemen, Delaware strongly resisted the legal abolition of slavery to the point where it rejected the 13th Amendment in 1865 (it was subsequently passed by the state, in 1901!). Segregation in public schools was literally written into the state constitution until overturned by Brown v. Board of Education, of which one portion of the case originated in Delaware.

For such a small state to be competitive, a strategy of low taxation and lax laws were devised to attract businesses. Much like the Cayman Islands, Delaware does not tax profits of corporations made outside the state nor does it require a physical presence of corporations registered in the state. As such, today more than half of American corporations and more than 60% of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in the state. Furthermore, taking advantage of permissive financial laws, numerous banks have made Delaware their home, with “$2.6 trillion in deposits from non-resident corporations and individuals in 2007” in the state according to the Tax Justice Network. Additionally, Tax Justice has declared Delaware “the most secretive financial jurisdiction,” beating out the traditional favorite, Switzerland. Unlike its European counterparts Switzerland and Luxembourg, Delaware has escaped condemnation as a tax haven by the G20 through its status as a subnational entity of the most powerful country in the world. To further promote itself to potential customers—I mean, "residents"—the state levies low income taxes on residents and no sales tax, advertising itself as “The Home of Tax Free Shopping.”

In 1802, a refugee from revolutionary France who ended up in Delaware, Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours, founded his namesake corporation, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. Better known as DuPont, the company in the nineteenth century established a monopoly over the production of gunpowder and explosives until parts of the company were split off under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Since then, the firm has remained an enormously powerful chemical corporation and is to this day the top private employer in Delaware. That the state is still effectively a plantation of the DuPont chemical company would not itself be such a large problem if DuPont were not the biggest polluter in the nation, nor if it were not the original synthesizer of CFCs, which severely damaged the ozone layer. Additionally, the du Pont family—in charge of the firm for over two centuries—is also filled with disreputable characters: T. Coleman du Pont was a corrupt Republican politician implicated in the Teapot Dome scandal and Irénée du Pont was accused of funding the Business Plot, a planned coup d’état to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Delaware’s low taxes may be nice for its citizens, but the state is thus forced to find alternative means of funding in order to pass the costs of governing onto others. Take for example the 11.2 mile Delaware section of Interstate 95, run by the state as the Delaware Turnpike. Motorists attempting to get from Maryland to New Jersey or vice-versa must pay $4.00 for the privilege of passing through the state of Delaware, at a rate of 35.7¢ per mile. Though (thankfully) this is avoidable, it remains ridiculous that such a fee exists at all; arguably the most expensive toll road in the United States per mile, it seems that the Delaware Turnpike's only purpose is to force out-of-staters to pay as much in tribute to Delaware as possible.

But what can we properly informed Delevarophobes do? For starters, skip the toll on the Delaware Turnpike, so that out-of-staters are not subsidizing Delaware's irresponsibly low taxes. Secondly, avoid the siren song of tax free shopping—it’s as meaningless as “duty free” shopping in airports as far as I’m concerned. Thirdly, don’t do business with a bank that shields its usurious behavior and arbitrarily increasing interest rates behind Delaware state law—join a credit union or local bank. It is high time time we divested capital from “The Corporate Capital.” Delevarophobes of America, unite!


Fictionary Addendum №1

Parisite: IPA: /ˈpærəˌsaɪt/
1. (derogatory) A denizen of Paris, France.
“Pfft, I had to leave that café, man—it was crawling with baguette-munching Parisites.”

Triton-lame: IPA: /traɪtən-leɪm/
1. Failing to be cool, funny, or interesting in a particular manner associated with Eckerd College.
“Anyone who declares repeated excitement over an upcoming foam party is definitively Triton-lame.”

trollin’ for strange: IPA: /trɒlɪn fɔɹ streɪndʒ/
1. (slang) On the prowl for an encounter, either romantic or erotic.
“We were just hitting up the bars and clubs, you know, trollin’ for some strange.”

Vladimir linen: IPA: /vlɐˈdʲimʲɪr ˈlɪnɪn/
Alt form: Nikolai linen: IPA: /nʲɪkɐˈlaj ˈlɪnɪn/
1. What occurs when a single red article of clothing is introduced to a wash of white fabrics; clothing/linen that have been stained or dyed red.
“Whose red socks went in with my whites? Pulling a Vladimir linen is not cool, man!”

Special thanks to LK Shov for "Parisite" and "Vladimir/Nikolai linen" and Samwise for "trollin' for strange"!


Profanity Superpower

The United States is not only an economic and military superpower, but also a superpower of profanity. That’s right, a profanity superpower, by which I mean American English swear words have spread to all corners of the world via our movies, music, and television, and have been adopted by many other languages. Take the Germans, who have a good base of swear vocabulary, yet you’ll often hear young Germans using English vulgarities. In pop culture, be it gangsta rapper B-Tight bellowing out the lyric “Halt die Fresse du Bitch” (“Shut your mouth you bitch!” though, honestly I think “pie-hole” would also be an apt translation of Fresse) or hearing something like “alles ist abgefuckt” (“it’s all fucked[-up]”), German has adopted these terms quite readily. The Russians, whom I will discuss on their own in a moment, have also embraced English curse words, especially “fuck.” Whether it is advertising an umbrella by the phrase “Фак дождю” (fak dozhdyu; “fuck the rain”) or making a statement like “На работе случился большой факап” (Na rabotye sluchilsya bol’shoi fakap; “At work a big fuck-up occurred”), the Russians have expressed an affinity for English profanity.

However, despite impressive American achievements in the field of profanity, Russia may just be the all-time achiever. There is an entire dialect of Russian called мат (mat), which has a vocabulary that is comprised almost entirely of vulgar words and their derivatives. The four primary words of mat: хуй (khui), пизда (pizda), ебать (yebat’), блядь (blyad’) mean “penis,” “cunt,” “to fuck,” and “whore” respectively. From this basis, entirely profane conversations can be spun. However, be cafeful with whom you use it—it can have dangerous consequences. One night in 2008 in Riga I was out drinking with friends when it began to rain heavily. We decided to take a cab, so we walked over to the entrance of the Reval Hotel Latvija, where several taxi-drivers were having a smoke while being accosted by a homeless guy. The hobo, scruffy and middle-aged, was insulting them all with an intense string of mat—I recall a fragment that went, “ёб твою мать…иди на хуй… хуёк!” (yob tvoyu mat’…idi na khui…khuyok!; “fuck your mother…go fuck yourself…little prick!”). After a pause in his rant I asked one of the cabbies for a ride (in Russian); in response, the cabbie nods and without saying a word starts walking with us to his taxi, but not before putting out his cigarette on the hobo’s neck[!!!!]. Needless to say, that taxi ride was spent in uncomfortable silence…

For some small peoples with more limited vocabularies, the import of foreign profanity is critical. The Latvian language has very few vulgar words and phrases that are native (“In Latvian, it's effectively abusive to tell someone to go take a crap” –Language Most Foul, p. 171) . Those words with Baltic roots are not particularly numerous: mauka (“whore”), pimpis (“penis,” though personally I enjoy how it resembles the word “pimp”), kuce (“bitch”), sūds (“shit”). Latvian profane phrases are not that impressive either: “Ej dirst!” (literally, “Go [and] shit”), “Velns un elle!” (“Devil and Hell!”), “Suņa bērns!” (literally, “Son of a dog!”), and “Nolādēts!” (“Damn it!”). The bulk of Latvian profanity—and certainly the most offensive thereof—is borrowed from outside sources, primarily German and Russian. Along with mauka and kuce, scanning the subtitles while watching trashy American shows (such as “Laguna Beach”) on MTV Latvija revealed slampa as another frequently used insult, which means “bitch” or “slut” (e.g. “She is such a stupid slut!”→“Viņa ir muļķīga slampa!”); slampa originates either from German (Schlampe) or Swedish (slampa). “Piss taisni” (“Piss off”) seems almost certainly to have been borrowed from the German verb sich verpissen. Pidars is borrowed from the Russian пидор (pidor) which in turn is a shortened version of the general European term “pederast.” Latvians, who often resort to mat for truly insulting language may become a little too used to it in everyday conversation; however, Latvians who have picked up the coarse Russian habit of ending every statement with “blyad’” (or its Latvian orthographical equivalents bļaģ or bļad) can soften it to bļāviens, which means “a yell” or “a scream.”

Before contemporary mass media allowed for the spread of English language profanity, Russian vulgarities had infiltrated well beyond the Russian frontier. By mid-twentieth century, the word suka had been adopted in Polish (suka), Hungarian (szuka), Kazakh (сука; suka), in addition to Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Yiddish. The word itself is still frequently used by speakers of Azeri, Uzbek, Tajik, Hebrew, as well as probably many others of which I am unaware. I have personally overheard use of this word across the Baltic States and the U.S. East Coast and even in small towns in Baden-Württemberg and the Irish Midlands. Unlike English slang, which relies on the enormous power of the American film and music industries to extend its reach, Russian slang has spread person-to-person, wherever Russians have ended up. The slang need not be profane: one of the most common international adoptions from Russian is “bistro,” derived—as the legend goes—from Russian soldiers in post-Napoleonic France demanding rapid provision of wine or food in street cafes by yelling “быстро!” (bystro!; “quickly!”) at their waiters. But even a number of speculative fiction sources imagine a further future adoption of Russian slang, most famously A Clockwork Orange’s “nadsat” dialect. Thus, though Russia is no longer an economic or military superpower, it may remain a profanity superpower for years to come…


The Next Civil War is Going to Be So Much More Awesome than the First!

I am fascinated by how deranged and unhinged the dialogue in this country has become over the course of the past year. The Interwebs, always a dangerous place for the rational and reasonable, have become virtually overrun by insanity. One need only take a single journey through various YouTube comments to become a complete misanthrope. Of course, there have always been crazy people who just want to be heard, but there is an ominous streak that lurks behind today's rhetoric.

My thoughts on this came together after a short ride on the Washington D.C. Metro, where I was given a copy of The Washington Post. In its ever-curmudgeonly opinion page, there was a column by George Will in which he seemed initially to push the usual barrogant and specious right-wing rhetoric. But a rather interesting pattern emerges rather quickly in the piece. Take, for example, this nugget of wisdom:

“But does not federal law trump state laws? Not necessarily.”
More than just answering his own rhetorical questions (which, by the way, he has done incorrectly in the past), Will posits that if a state amended its constitution in a certain way, it could block health care reform at the federal level. In this way, the state could effectively nullify a law it believes to be unconstitutional. Later that night I was reminded of why that argument stuck with me—a PBS program on President Andrew Jackson described the Nullification Crisis of 1832, in which South Carolina attempted to nullify a tariff passed by Congress that it considered unconstitutional. In response, Jackson declared the following:

"I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which It was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed."
His appeal, backed with the threat of military force and the possibility of compromise on the issue led to South Carolina backing down. The Nullification Crisis is widely seen today as a prelude to the Civil War, not least of which because the arguments it made (e.g. “the union is voluntary and dissolvable” and “states, not the federal government, are sovereign”) provided ideological justification for secession. The revival of this argument by the so-called “Tenthers”—referring to the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution—has thus been a curious and dangerous recent phenomenon.

But vague references to state sovereignty are not the only new proclamations coming from the right. Last April, Governor (and notorious hair fondler) Rick Perry of Texas not only announced himself as a born-again Tenther, but also that secession would be one of “a lot of different [potential] scenarios” for the Lone Star State. Numerous Tenther-inspired resolutions have been proposed in state legislatures this year, but in May Georgia was the first to pass one signed by its governor. Not only does the bill declare that Georgia has the right to nullify any federal law it considers unconstitutional, but adds that such an act “shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America” and that “all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually.” Thus, Georgia not only has declared its intent to nullify certain actions taken by the federal government but that these actions actually make the United States of America null and void as an entity.

Right-wing activists who pushed for these pronouncements have also been emboldened by their adoption and promotion by Republican politicians. In July, the far right website FreeRepublic declared that the government shall immediately be dissolved. This was followed in September by an article published on Newsmax.com—one of Sarah Palin’s “top” news sources—which advocated a military coup to resolve “the Obama problem.” As secession becomes a popular discussion topic on the Republican Party’s official website gop.com, it becomes apparent that more and more of the Republican base are treating secession or a coup d’état as a serious option. This would all be comical were it not for the fact that these people are heavily armed and that such rhetoric has inspired domestic terrorism and the militia movement.

That said, much has changed from the era of set-piece battles fought with muskets and cannon. Whereas state militias—distinct from the contemporary wingnuts in the woods version, though they imitate their style—could have hoped in the 18th and 19th centuries to resist federal military power, the tides of war have since changed. Personally, I would love to see Georgia state government and its peach-munching militia—once the federal government does any of the multitude of things to "annul" itself—try to seize Ft. Benning from the 3rd Infantry Division and Rangers stationed there. Ft. Sumter wishes that they had what Ft. Benning has. Or think of how quickly the Sieges of Atlanta and Richmond could have been resolved with B-2 stealth bombers and cruise missiles? So, I say we give words of encouragement to all the Tenthers and secessionists, so that they may destroy themselves in trade embargo and warfare rather than slowly destroy our entire nation with their incessant stupidity and stubbornness to accept reality. Hopefully, just like the last one, this next Civil War will settle those arguments for another century-and-a-half. Fingers crossed!


Fictionary Supplement: Unpopular Historical Figures Part 1

Most people study history at some point in their lives. At some point, however, the Average Jane or Joe loses interest. I've learned all I can from watching popular Nicholas Cage-related historical docs like 'National Treasure 2: The Search for Hitler's Gold,' you might complain. Stop complaining, no one like a whiner. As a public service, possibly required by law, I have spearheaded an effort to spread more hist'ry to the peoples, covering ground your average New York Librul State Technical Colleges wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole! We will be covering wide categories, including definitive musical groups, folk legends, authoritarian figures, and more.

I present Unpopular Historical Figures, part 1:

Duke Newcomb:
Edward Thomas Bellevue, 4th Duke of Newcomb, 134th in line to the British crown, was born in 1763. A rakish fellow, he enjoyed the gentlemanly arts of hunting, drink, and womanizing. He was to achieve notoriety from one event in the winter of 1797. Having traveled to to one of his country estates in Pembrokeshire, Wales, Newcomb hoped to track and shoot the elusive proton pheasant. Instead, he encountered his manor abandoned by his many servants and overrun by ragged French revolutionaries. Grabbing his Brown Bess musket and his fowling piece, Newcomb regrouped in the forest. As he had anticipated a four-course meal from his chef upon arrival and had not even received so much as afternoon tea, the Duke consumed some delicious-looking forest mushrooms to sate his hunger. Proceeding onward to battle, Newcomb became convinced that the French soldiers were actually creatures from beyond the stars. As he slayed multitudes of these outer space beasts, the Duke eventually encountered their leader, attempting to flee to his ship, at the port of Fishguard. With a quick quip--"Blow it out your arse!"--Newcomb lit the fuse to a bomb and tossed it at the fiendish commander, thus ending the French/alien invasion of Britain. His heroic deeds were passed down for generations at bedtime by patriotic British parents to their children, when eventually, they formed the basis for the "Duke Nukem" series of video games. His family remains proud of their ancestor to this day, their only regret that his video game name is horribly misspelled, as all Americans are wont to do.

Harry Grundell Jr.:

Like his father before him, Grundell (pronounced like "trundle") Jr. was uniquely predisposed towards the lucrative business of investment banking. His physiology was something of a boon, a series of genetic permutations assembled in just such a way: his eyes- too close together for proper depth perception, this made Harry, nonetheless, a whiz in the 2-D world! His phalanges, extra long and coordinated, allowing Harry to tickle keyboards from across the room! His biographer wrote that Grundell's voice carried an old-world-y raspiness, a mastadonal bass offset with shrieks of excitement. The combination proved to be efficient, and Grundell grew to understand, in minimizing wasteful meaningful humanoid interaction, and getting a lot more typing done.

Rick Spickler and the Puberteens:

Nearly everyone familiar with the gristle and intrigue of the short-lived TV hour "The Laff Brigade" remembers the eponymous and tragic rise and fall of this dynamic 90's power trio. Spickler, an erudite yet impossibly tardy young ranch-hand from the Hinterland wilds made a go of his pop dreams in York, and then more successfully New York, America with his occasionally androgynous cousins, Creo and Lawntee. Obsessed with recurring visions of fame and fortune, the trio accidentally wandered into Lady Luck on the downtown number 6 train in Manhattan. It turned out to be a disaster. Lady Luck, of course, being a wayward oil tanker, crashed headlong into the underground trestle, upsetting a family of four and waylaying the boys' plans to meet with a record executive for pie. The rest of Spickler's rise and the formation of the hated Crybabies, then the critically acclaimed Puberteens, became his most famous musical contributions to date, and were solely responsible for the rise of the MiniDisc, and the inspiration for the Nu-Redundancy Movement.

Tran Pham:

A veritable enigma of the inner-web, Pham is best known for advertising his services in the wrong sections of Craigslist, so that you think it is a job, but instead it's some d-bag who can't read directions, apparently. Ad usually reads as such:

Meet Tran Pham:
Compliance Technician
Hobbies include vintage vehicles, breadwinning, and yelling at buildings.

To this day, experts and the unemployed are baffled as to its meaning, or really, what this guy may be trying to prove.


Vanity Plates, Vanity Hate

I tend to believe that vanity is one of the most prominent qualities of the modern American consumer. Supporting my theory is the fact that over 9.3 million Americans possess vanity license plates for their motor vehicles. Ironically, as a vanity plate owner myself (behind which—in my defense—lies volidity, not vanity), I also possess a car registered in the state with the most vanity plates per capita, Virginia. In 2007, 16.2% of Virginia drivers had vanity plates, which is a statistic I can't easily explain. Perhaps it is just a means of self-expression particular to the Old Dominion, a place with a penchant for bold public declarations since revolutionary times? Or maybe that the workers in "Communist Country" (i.e. Northern Virginia) are eager to spread socialist propaganda on the road, as Leon Trotsky once did in his armored train during the Russian Civil War?

It could just be that the Virginia DMV maintains a lovely little website where potential ideas for text can be tested against various choices of background. With the knowledge that profanity would not be allowed and that many ideas were taken I began browsing through the available license plate designs to get some inspiration. Just take a gander at my two most dark and volid ideas, that I couldn't resist trying out after encountering these plate designs:

Well, "SECeSSioN" is what he ended up (and is remembered for) supporting...

Sure this is offensive, but so to many is the very idea of a Confederate Battle Flag on one's official license plate, so you might as well go for the gold.

And, in case anyone was wondering, each plate idea was met with a "Congratulations. The message you requested is available" from the VA DMV. With that in mind, maybe we could all be a little less vain and accept whatever number-letter combinations we're assigned next time, on plain designs indicating our home state and nothing more...


Beer Colonialism

Though it seems frequently debated which country possessed the worst colonial policy—it appears that Portugal is currently the frontrunner—less common are inquiries into which had the best colonial policy. As such, I nominate the German Empire. A late starter to the colonial game, recently united Germany was hungering for international prestige and respect, which at the time was most easily acquired via the possession of overseas colonies. Private colonization efforts from the middle of the nineteenth century were eclipsed by state-supported efforts under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the 1880s. In this “scramble” for territory, Germany acquired colonies in Africa (all or part of modern-day Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Togo, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Namibia) and in the Pacific (all or part of modern-day Papua New Guinea, Palau, Nauru, the Marshall, Solomon, Caroline, Mariana Islands, and Western Samoa) and even a region in China, Kiaochow. Under German rule, cities mimicking those in Central Europe were built, infrastructure—especially rail—was rapidly constructed throughout each colony, and modern German-style school systems were established to educate the natives. Even some colonies, such as Samoa and Togoland, quickly became self-sustaining and prosperous.* One might say, “Sure, but didn’t the British do this as well?” Indeed, but the United Kingdom was missing one colonial policy priority of the German Empire: the establishment of breweries to supply the colonies with good German-style beer.

Qingdao, called Tsingtau by the Germans, was the administrative capital of a concession the Germans managed to wrest from the Chinese on the Shandong Peninsula. Acquired by them only in 1898, German authorities set out to build a modern European-style city from which they would manage trade with the Orient. Churches, offices, and an impressive governor’s mansion copied from a German palace were all built and remain to this day on Jiangsu Lu. Most lasting however, was to be a brewery established in 1903. Originally named Germania-Brauerei (Germania Brewery), it was the second brewery set up in China (after Harbin Brewery, in Manchuria), and supplied all of Kiaochow with German lager made according to the Reinheitsgebot (Purity Law) of 1516. German-control—of its colony and its brewery—was not to last, however, as World War I brought an opportunistic Japanese invasion and occupation of Kiaochow. Another war, World War II, would lead to Chinese ownership of the brewery. Renamed Tsingtao, the brewery was nationalized under the Chinese Communists and remained a state-owned enterprise until 1990, when it was privatized. Most startlingly, the beer there was always brewed under the Reinheitsgebot while a state-run enterprise; it was private control and not the Cultural Revolution, that would lead to its abandonment. Today, Tsingtao Brewery controls a large share of both domestic and international beer consumption, including being the most popular Chinese beer in the U.S. An amazing saga, and one that would not be possible without the brief German colonial control of Qingdao.

But China is not the only nation to benefit from the building of breweries by German imperialists. German Southwest Africa, today known as Namibia, was also to become a major producer of German-style lager. In 1904, four small breweries had been established—Kronen Brauerei, Omaruru Brauerei, Kleine Windhoek Brauerei, and Felsenkeller Brauerei—in the administrative center of Windhoek and the port of Swakopmund. Though conquest in World War I by South African forces ended German control of South-West Africa, thousands of German settlers remained, and two of them, Carl List and Hermann Ohlthaver, purchased and consolidated the breweries into South West Breweries. This firm in turn merged with Hansa Brauerei in 1967 to make South West Breweries the sole local beer producer. Full Namibian independence in 1990 brought a corresponding name change to Namibia Breweries Limited. Today the firm produces three beer brands that follow the Reinheitsgebot—Windhoek, Hansa, and Tafel—and even brews an Urbock beer, something that was not easy to get in the U.S. until fairly recently. Windhoek—the best African beer I personally have ever tasted—is distributed worldwide today, and looks to have a bright future in further expansion. All of this was, of course, enabled by the original German colonization.

So, remember, next time you drink a Tsingtao or a Windhoek—be it in a bar or just at home making some funny sketches—be sure to raise a toast to Kaiser Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarck, the pioneers of beer colonialism!

*And yes, rebellions in the colonies were crushed with extraordinary brutality; though this should be recognized and condemned, this fact has little use to the volid thesis of this article.


Reverse King Midas, Commissar of Evil

To his conservative critics, Barack Obama is "reverse King Midas" - everything he touches turns to corruption, socialism, or unamerican excess. This principle applies especially to any place where he has lived. Having been *ALLEGEDLY* born in Hawaii, Obama has transformed the fiftieth state (a state for 50 years, an American possession for 100) into "some sort of foreign exotic place." But conservative resentment toward the hegemony of this foreign polynesian pineapple kingdom over our government pales in comparison to the elevation of Chicago as a dystopian gangster hovel paralleling Obama's own rise to prominence.

In fall 2008 it was difficult to watch the tee-vee or slide down the Inter-Tubes without encountering phrases like "TERRORIST Bill Ayers" and "CHICAGO SLUM LORD Tony Rezko" - hell, it was even difficult to just be alive and avoid them, considering the daily robocalls and flyers coming in. Chicago became a caricature of all bad things Republicans could imagine: a socialist big city with an education system run by former leftist terrorists, a nineteenth-century style center of corrupt machine politics, and an urban area which liberal policy had failed and is filled with scary brown people. While it's not surprising that such tactics would be used by the Republicans in the lead-up to the presidential election, it is a bit shocking how deeply this distaste for Chicago has become ingrained. Recently, Chicago was in the running to host the 2016 Olympic Games. But hosting the Olympics, normally a source of national pride, became instead an issue of revulsion and mockery by those (i.e. conservatives) for whom patriotism is ostensibly most important.

Now, I've never been to Chicago, excepting a walk through its massive and frustrating airport, but I presume its problems are not uncommon to any large city in this country. Furthermore, I know of no other developed country where politicians and pundits would so freely and willfully bandy about hatred of its third largest city (imagine German politicians spending their time railing against Munich or French politicians decrying "corrupt Lyon" as un-French).

Fortunately, I was reminded of a fun set of pictures than can round out this discussion of the foci of delusional wingnut hatred. Combined with the meme that Obama is a communist Manchurian candidate is a reminder that perhaps the distaste for Chicago goes back farther than I had previously thought among right-wingers. A certain gem of a comic book titled "This Godless Communism" - distributed by Catholic organizations to the young and impressionable - is notable not only for its pseudo-history of communism and the USSR or its hilarious anti-communist fear-mongering, but its references to Chicago. Take a gander:

The origin of community organizing?

What will happen after "Obamacare" is passed?

All I know is, with commentary like this passing as informed opinion among the mainstream right, volidity can be the only response. I suppose the only thing left is to send these pictures to Wonkette so that they can use it to mock these wingnuts who "love" America so much that they need to exclude various states, cities, and groups of people from the national community. I think it would be a nice image to complement "Is This Tomorrow? - Life under Communism" that sadly but hilariously gets so much use on that blog.


Portrait Gallery

There will always be lazy afternoons. Especially at this juncture of youth, where going out until the wee hours is a matter of course on Friday and Saturday nights, Saturday and Sunday afternoons can end up largely wasted. But, if you have a few friends gathered, who are bored, and especially for those who are already drinking again, I recommend one simple activity. All one requires is paper, pens, and a volunteer to pose. Then, the others can draw this individual, with hilarious consequences.

(the first round ended up being rather cartoonish)

(myself as Teen Wolf [?], I guess)

(associate editor LK Shov as an African-American Studies professor with a special focus on New York City)

(my friend "Trebor," the victim of grand theft nug)

But, by the next round, we moved toward realism, by way of abstract art and produced a much nicer set of portraits, including my own blogger profile photo. Hooray for art, down time, and afternoon beer! (and credit goes to Trebor for drawing the first two portraits here and LK Shov the final one)



Despite the incompetence of the Democrats to get things done, the Republican Party and wider conservative movement remain in disarray. As such, a plethora of analysts and commentators have pronounced that conservatism in America is effectively dead in its present form. However, the form it may assume next is unknown even to the punditry. Will it emphasize fiscal conservatism, religious conservatism, compassionate conservatism, paleoconservatism or neoconservatism? Indeed, the answer may have already arrived:

Chick-fil-A conservatism! 

Now, some might ask, "what does a fast food chain have to do with conservatism?" Well, for starters, the chain has been prominently mentioned by some conservative Republican leading lights of late:
"Chick-fil-a does not say to its franchisees, 'However you want to cook the sandwiches is cool with me.' They are precise in what they expect, and it's my hope going forward more conservatives in all corners of America will be equally precise and exacting in making sure their views are reflected by the party that supposedly represents them."
-Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), November 11, 2008

"Chick-fil-A can get fabulously wealthy with a 20% market share. In our business, you need 50% plus one."
-Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), ca. May 7, 2009

But Chick-fil-A is more than just a useful metaphor for politicians when speaking to the regular folks! The company was founded by S. Truett Cathy, a devout Southern Baptist. In defiance of food service industry norms, Cathy mandated that all Chick-fil-A restaurants be closed on Sunday, as it is the Sabbath for True Believers like himself. As the restaurant steadily expanded from its base in the Deep South, crossing the Mississippi and the Mason-Dixon Line without looking back sometime in the 1990s, it has developed at present into a truly nationwide institution. Now a prominent national brand, Chick-fil-A has become a major sponsor of events, most notably the Chick-fil-A Bowl (formerly the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, né Peach Bowl).

Though being the namesake of a college football tournament is a good start for all-Amurican cred, the chain has also taken on a number of conservative causes. Chick-fil-A’s owners, the Cathy family, became major defenders of "opposite marriage" by funding the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign in California. In the 2008 presidential race, not only did John McCain make a major campaign stop at Chick-fil-A headquarters outside Atlanta, but former Republican Senator Fred Thompson actually announced his candidacy for president at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in South Carolina. S. Truett Cathy once said, "You don't have to make the headlines to make a difference," but if prominent Republican politicians keep name-dropping Chick-fil-A in their speeches and op-eds, this chicken chain could make quite a difference indeed. Perhaps it is this quintessentially American formula of conservatism—combining evangelical Christianity, corporate capitalism, and fried food—that could turn things around for their beleaguered party...

Remember, freedom ain't free, but it comes with Chick-fil-A tea!


The Fictionary

The Fictionary*
Comprehensive 1st Edition
“New slang for every boy and girl!”

barrogant: IPA: /bærəgənt/
1. An abbreviation for “barely arrogant.”
“The first sign of egotism is barrogance.”

breeze: IPA: /briːz/
1. (informal) An abbreviation for "beer freeze" (a frozen dish made from beer with the consistency of Italian ice).
“Get your spoons out kids—I accidentally left another beer in the freezer so there’s enough breeze for everyone!”

effigeous: IPA: /ɛfəgiəs/
1. Having assumed a false persona, often involving an air of self-importance or other ostentatious qualities.
2. More generally pretentious, especially in an eccentric manner.
“Every time Herrence drinks he becomes rather effigeous, leading others to believe he is a British aristocrat or some other sort of European eccentric.”

exquibulary: IPA: /ɛkskwɪbjʊlæri/
1. Exceptionally good; of the highest quality.
“You did an exquibulary job on that last Tetris game—over 500,000 points!”

fartitude: IPA: /‘fɑːtɪtjuːd/
1. A willingness to allow audible flatulence, even in the company of others.
“Yeah, Tibor’s got fartitude alright—he just lets them rip!”

filler kid: IPA: /fɪlər kɪd/
1. A thoroughly unexceptional and conventional person.
2. (slang) Someone uninteresting, a type often met at parties.
“Drinking poor quality beer, talking only on the shallowest of subjects, and wearing non-descript polos or t-shirts with clichéd slogans—it looks like filler kids to me...”

Florida cold: IPA: /’flɔɹɪdə koʊld/
1. Temperatures that are perceived as cold by any longtime resident of Florida, however mild they might be to inhabitants of temperate climes.
“After living in Tampa Bay for a while, when it gets to be under 70°F, the time comes to bundle up against the Florida cold.”

grand theft nug: IPA: /ɡɹænd θɛft ‘nʌɡ/
1. The act of stealing a significant quantity of marijuana.
“Dude, it was grand theft nug—he took my whole stash!”

hangry: IPA: /hæŋ.gri/
1. Simultaneously angry and hungry; oftentimes anger resulting from hunger.
“Man, after no free lunch at a daylong conference I’m getting pretty hangry!”

Latviangliski: IPA: /lætviənglɪski/
Proper Noun
1. A Latvian-English language pidgin, a portmanteau of “Latvian” and “angliski.”
“You’re speaking Latviangliski again: you don’t need ‘a santechnics man for remont,’ what you actually need is ‘a plumber to repair something.’”

metro ho: IPA: /’mɛtɹəʊ hoʊ/
1. A young woman traveling on a subway system who is typically inebriated, scantily clad—often in a short dress or miniskirt and high-heeled shoes—and often willing to engage in public displays of affection while on board.
“The last train of the night is always remarkable for its abundance of metro hos, who are unable either to keep balance or keep their hands and lips to themselves.”

M.I.R.T.: IPA: /mɝt/
1. (pathology) An abbreviation for “Multiple Independent Rat Tails,” a condition experienced by curly-haired individuals when not showering regularly; specific curls begin to extend and twist in various directions.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to shower today and as such I’m suffering from a rather serious case of M.I.R.T.”

9/11 kid: IPA: /naɪn əlɛvən kɪd/
1. An individual, often an adolescent, who was highly influenced by the September 11th terrorist attacks despite no direct connections and generally a large degree of geographic separation. He (more rarely she) exchanged political indifference for jingoistic opinions through that experience and expresses them publically and frequently.
“Uh-oh, he’s wearing a ‘Freedom isn’t Free’ t-shirt and an FDNY cap—looks like a 9/11 kid to me…”

peach-muncher: IPA: /piːʧ-mʌnʧɚ/
1. (mildly vulgar) Derogatory term for a person from the State of Georgia.
“And there I was on Interstate 75 near Valdosta going 2 mph above the speed limit when some local peach-muncher of a cop stops and tickets me.”

pet-o-phile: IPA: /pɛtofaɪl/
1. A pet lover; pet enthusiast.
“Yeah, he owns two dogs and a cat; he sure is a pet-o-phile…”

pizza shoe: IPA: /piːtsə ʃuː/
1. (informal) A bad or disliked thing.
2. (informal, mildly vulgar) A despicable person.
“Now listen here you goddamn pizza shoe!”

shalimar: IPA: /ʃælɪɑɻ/
1. An attractive but overly haughty or stuck-up woman.
“I just tried to give her a simple compliment, but she was such a shalimar that she didn’t even acknowledge me at all.”

shittyshaman: IPA: /ʃɪti‘ʃɑː.mən/
1. Of poor quality.
2. Demonstrating distinct lack of skill.
See also: Anaconda (film)
“‘The totem is shittyshaman.’
‘The haiku is also the shittyshaman.’”

spermanent: IPA: /spɜː(r)mənɛnt/
1. Referring to an accidental conception that is carried through by the mother.
“Well, initially there was much debate over what to do next, but that broken condom has led to our now spermanent little boy.”

tall: IPA: /tɔːl/
1. (slang) To drink a large amount of fluid (especially of alcohol) in a single action.
“Are you just going to sit there and stare at your beer, or are you going to tall ‘dat?”

truemor: IPA: /tɹuː.mɚ/
1. A salacious but true rumor.
“Politicians are often surrounded by gossip on their personal lives, but you’d be surprised how many truemors are contained within that idle talk.”

volid: IPA: /vəʊlɪd/
1. Sarcastic or ironic taken ad absurdum; most commonly refers to snarky conversation or banter.
“That’s enough talk about the ‘dangerous’ and ‘related’ ideologies of liberalism and ‘Islamo-fascism’—this conversation has become too volid for me.”

What's going cool?: IPA: /wɑts goʊɪŋ kuːl/
Interrogative Phrase
1. (informal) Casual phrasing for “What is happening [with you]?” or “How is it going?”
“Yo, so what’s been going cool with you, mэn?”

wife-snake: IPA: /waɪf-sneɪk/
1. (archaic) A female of the sub-order Serpentes that is also one's spouse.
2. (slang) A licentious but domineering female partner.
See also: Anaconda (film)
“You killed my wife-snake!”

*Of course, these terms are of varying utility, especially considering that a full two (2) terms originated from misheard dialogue from the movie Anaconda, but I find at least half of these to be valuable additions to our ever-changing language...

Virtual Arrival

So, once again I blog. Having thoughts that I would like to share in the public domain, I thought this would be the proper medium. This blog will be a platform for my ideas, critiques, satire, and the new slang that I term "the Fictionary," of which "volid" is the flagship term. And it is to you, esteemed reader, that I extend an invitation to write and comment on this very blog, if you are so inclined.

With Sincere Volidity,
Herrence Meritocracy
Founder and Senior Editor
The Volidity Report