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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nuclear Warheads in the Mail


Last week a mystery was cleared up for me. It was revealed that the Defense Department had sent two nuclear bomb detonation devices through the mail to Taiwan even though Taiwan had only purchased battery-related devices for some US made helicopters. When the Taiwanese realized what they'd received, they notified our Defense Department. "Whoa! We just want to spy on and straif our dissidents. We don't want to nuke their whole home town!"

You've got to figure when a department the size of our Defense Department is fulfilling the number of weapons-related orders that it handles every year, mistakes are bound to happen. Even though I've yet to get some book other than the one I've ordered through Amazon, book titles are no doubt a lot easier to keep straight than all the different kinds of missiles, tanks, and helicopter gunships that we sell, let alone all their parts.

That clears up the confusion I felt when I received a box about a month back, from our Defense Department. I'd filed a freedom of information request about titanium tipped warheads and was expecting some thick files. Imagine my surprise when I cut through the packing tape and found a warhead itself! I can just picture that humongous warehouse with shelves just full of every which kind of cluster bomb, landmine, and waterboarding apparatus. It's probably as big as five Walmarts and probably underground somewhere in Idaho, with sub par florescent lighting. I can just see how some overworked federal employee grabbed a little warhead when he meant to grab the operation manual that was probably sitting right next to it.

At the time, my neighbor thought it might have nothing at all to do with my FOIA request, but instead was in lieu of the $600 stimulus package I'm due to get. He surmised that what with the bailout of the banking system a few weeks back when Bear Sterns went belly up, dollars are in short supply. He said it made sense that some of us might receive in-kind goods rather than cash. I told him I'd have been happy with an iPhone. That would be a lot easier to sell on Craigslist than a nuclear weapon.

Boy was I wrong about that. Within a half hour of posting it on Craigslist, I'd received a dozen emails from all over the place. And folks were offering more than my $600 asking price!

Now I recognize that the whole thing was just a bureaucratic mistake. Wish I had thought of that before I sold it to the guy with those mirrored sunglasses.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Omar and "The Wire"


Sally and I got a major addiction to HBO's, "The Wire." "True d'at!" The writers' strike opened up some TV time for watching DVD's of this incredible series that revolves around street crime and politics in Baltimore. There are so many compelling characters and several thematic levels that can be chewed on and digested. Yummy! What an incredible study of institutions and the ethics confronted (and usually discarded) by the players in each of those institutions.......law enforcement, street gangs, the dockworker union, city hall, and the schools. There are a number of heroes, but none that wear ten gallon hats and ride white horses. Some of them are even drunks, thieves, and killers. There's also many more folks who are just milking their respective institution, or trying to increase their power within it, or hold on to what they've got. It's such a dead-on reflection of the characters we see in our 9-5 lives. We've just finished Season 4, watching two hours on many nights and dealing with a little less sleep.

Both of us agree on our most favorite character: Omar. He's rips off drug dealers for his income. But he operates with a strong sense of ethics and he speaks like a poet. Plus he's fearless, even as he's hunted by just about everyone.

Wish there was an Omar t-shirt I could wear. Better yet, we could print up a bunch and sell them from a shopping cart rolling through the streets like another character, Bubbles, does. Only Palo Alto streets don't have many customers walking around outside, and I doubt the joggers would stop.