Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wikipedia Voyage of Discovery

Wikipedia is great. It's an encyclopedia with hyperlinks - that's right kids, it's a veritable educational adventure at your fingertips! I'd like to take you on a voyage of discovery that I recently underwent thanks to my good friends at Wikipedia. I began at the page of the Dalai Lama and had only read a little bit when my eyes strayed to a hyperlink to Steven Seagal. You may remember Steven Seagal from such films as Under Siege, Half Past Dead, Today You Die and Urban Justice. Apparently, he and the Dalai Lama are great mates. So I followed the link and found out that His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, a Tibetan lama, has officially stated that Steven Seagal (pictured below discussing the attainment of Nirvana) is a tulku, a reincarnation of an ancient Buddhist master. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? This would be like the Vatican canonising Jean-Claude Van Damme as a saint! (Alternative joke: 'This would be like the population of California voting in Arnold Schwarzenegger as their Governor!) The previews for Seagals' up-coming movies write themselves: 'He's a rogue police officer who never wears a bullet-proof vest. He doesn't need to; he's got Dalai Armour,' Anyways, after I had a chuckle at the infinitely wise ways of Eastern religion I scanned over the various sections on Mr. Seagal's page. Steven Seagal has released several albums, was a bigamist and has experienced what is ambiguously described as a 'mystical dog incident'. He has also been accused of occasionally kicking his stunt doubles in the nuts. Did you know that there is a Wikipedia page for getting kicked in the nuts? Neither did I, so I followed the link and found myself at a page entitled 'Groin attack'. It's a brief read, presumably because the authors assumed that it was a topic that people would either be A) sufficiently familiar with or B) disinclined to read about at length. Although relatively concise, the groin attack page had a supporting Bible reference. It makes sense when you think about it. God designed those genitals, he knows whats going to happen when they get violently disturbed. And when it comes to groin attacks, the word of god is mercifully clear: Deuteronomy 25: 11-12 'When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one approaches to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, you shall sever her hand; you shall have no compassion.' So, next time you get into a fight at the pub, make sure you've got the good book with you just in case you cop a 'Groin attack' from your opponent's girlfriend. And that was the end of my Wikipedia voyage of discovery, from the Dalai Lama to Steven Seagal to passages in the Bible about punishing women who have inappropriately grabbed at a guy's nuts! I wonder where my next voyage of discovery will lead...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Transforming foreign policy

One of my earliest memories is of Christmas 1985. This was the year that I got my very first Transformer. It was a triple Transformer that could transform into a tank, a plane and, of course, an evil robot. Like a lot of children, I generally preferred the bad guys within most toy-based good/evil dichotomies. They looked cooler, they came in better colours and they had the most devastating weapons - my first transformer had the capability to shoot plastic projectiles. Memories of the Decepticons of my youth were no less diminshed when I saw the Transformers movie last night. The computer graphics are incredible, the storyline and dialogue are not as appalling as you would expect for the genre and the actors are likeable. One of the most striking things about the movie is what a nice bit of P.R. it is for the U.S. military. The first appearance of a Transformer in the film is when a Decepticon trashes a U.S. army base in Qatar looking for U.S. intelligence. The only survivors of this attack are a plucky bunch of soldiers whose first hand knowledge of these robo-terrorists makes them invaluable in the fight against the Decepticons. Thank god for the military! I couldn't help but think that the director was trying to imagine a world where everyone actually approved of the U.S.'s military actions in the Middle East. Who's going to argue with the Bush administration if they declare a 'War on Evil Robots'? A CNN poll taken on 24/6/07 showed that 67% of those polled were opposed to the U.S. war in Iraq. If Bush wants to remain politically viable, he needs to move away from Iraq and address real threats to our way of life, ie. evil transforming robots from outer-space. Here are excerpts from an actual speech made by President Bush (as altered by me to make it look like he's fighting a War on Evil Robots):

"Earlier this year, I laid out a new strategy for defeating the Decepticons. I wasn't pleased with what was taking place on the ground or in the depths of outer space. I didn't approve of what I was seeing. And so I called together our military and said, can we design a different strategy to succeed? And this new strategy is different, transformed if you will, from the one we were pursuing before. It is being led by a new commander, Optimus Prime -- and a new ambassador, Bumblebee. It recognizes that our top priority must be to help the Autobot government and its security forces protect their population from attack -- especially in Autobot City, the capital of their homeland, Cybertron. It's a new mission. And Optimus Prime is in outer space carrying it out. Its goal is to help the Decepticons and the Autobots make progress toward reconciliation -- to build a free planet that respects the rights of its robots, upholds the rule of law, and is an ally against the evil Decepticon dictator, Megatron. And it's in our interests, it's in our interplanetary interests to help them succeed. Earth has sent reinforcements to help the Autobots secure their population. I asked the military what they thought the chances of us defeating giant alien robots were. That's what you expect from Earth's Commander-in-Chief, to consult closely with the Earth military in times of inter-galactic cyber-war. They made recommendations, and I sent the reinforcements in to help the Autobots secure their population, to go after robo-terrorists, enormous flying robots and CD players that transform into weird, mischeivous cyber-men that incite sectarian violence so that we can help get the homeland of the Transformers under control. I think it's going to be very important for our country to have faith in the capacity of liberty to be transformative*. After all, there's more to this war than meets the eye."

* That sentence actually appeared in Bush's speech unaltered. I almost wet myself when I found it.