Highlight from The Long Version of a Suicide Post-It Note: A love story by Doug Stanhope

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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p 272-274:

“We weren’t totally broke but I was preparing for it. We did what we called “Free Shopping,” where I would call all the 800 numbers on the groceries in the cupboard to complain. I’d done this a lot over the years by writing fantastical complaint letters to companies just to see if they’d respond. They were outlandish and were mostly just for entertainment purposes, to post on my web site. Now it was to actually get free food of sundry bullshit. Bingo was in and out of the depths of crazy and was highly amused by extreme silliness so I would make all the calls like prank calls. I can’t do characters so I did them all like the only goofy voice I could: Sol Rosenberg from the Jerky Boys. If you don’t know who that is, Google it and come back when you know this voice.

‘Yes. Hello? Thank you, then. Oh yes, I’m calling about your Rembrandt toothpaste. Yes? Thank you. I’ve been using it ever since back when I was asked to leave parochial school. I love it. I simply love it. But I just bought a tube from the local mercantile and it tasted all funny. I don’t know what’s wrong with it.”

‘What do you mean by ‘It tasted funny?”

‘You know. It was stingy. It tasted almost tangential like it might have been left in the sun. I have to understand that I’m on a limited budget!”

The complaints were absurd but it made Bingo laugh and customer service would only try to pretend to understand for so long before relenting and sending you coupons for free product. They don’t give a shit. They work in a call center and are happy enough that you’re not yelling at them. After two hours of doing this for the first time, we ended up collecting about $250 worth of free shit…

We soon developed a system that made it easier and more profitable. Once I knew what different codes and dates on the packaging that customer service would ask for, we no longer needed to even have the product on our shelf. I could simply go to the grocery store, write it all down from the largest size of that product on the shelf along with the toll free number, and we’d get even bigger shit for free without ever having to buy it in the first place…

I know a bunch of you will [do this] after reading this. Email me when you’ve paid for this book and more from that fun little pastime. Or just send me free coupons after you’ve stolen this book off the Internet. Either way, honor amongst thieves.”

posted in: Humurous Book Passages

Our Mighty Military

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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How much should the government spend on the military? Donald Trump says increase it. Hillary says that the budget says should be up for debate. Yet I hear very little on just how much is spent. Discretionary Spending in 2015 totaled 1.11 Trillion dollars with the Military accounting for 54% of it at near 600 Billion.

If including Medicare and Social Security the total amount shrinks to 16.2%.

By comparison the US federal military to other nation states.

The question I ask is to what benefit does military expenditure secure given current military tactics.

The evolution of warfare has an outline via Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization:

1. Mass warfare. The objective: to defeat the enemy by massing more firepower on the field of conflict. Its roots: The Napoleonic War; the U.S. Civil War.
2. Industrial warfare (World War I). The objective: to wear down the opposing state through greater mobilization and firepower. Its roots: the U.S. Civil War.
3. Blitzkrieg (World War II). The objective: to take down an enemy army and state through maneuver, deep penetration, and disruption. Its roots: late World War I infiltration tactics.
4a. the “lost generation of interstate conflict nuclear warfare. The technology of maneuver, scale, and firepower reached its ultimate form as a nuclear missile. This weapon provided states with the capacity to overwhelm their enemies in minutes. The proliferation of nuclear weapons and the fear of ultimate destruction have nearly eliminated open wars between developed states. Mutual assured destruction has a wonderful way of making people more risk averse.
4b. The death of conventional warfare and the rise of the unconventional

As a result of nuclear weapons, conventional warfare has dissipated and become replaced with guerrilla warfare. These guerrilla fighters typically are not fighting for the state as previously, but for some moral reason. Often times a loose coalition comes about when groups find a common cause to fight for. At the same time when a “strong” nation state tries to fight the “terrorist” and guerrilla fighters it often leads towards the nation using its strength against itself. The major goal for the guerrilla/terrorist side is to bleed the target state dry morally and economically. The result is an eternal war that typically ends with the target state’s inevitable defeat.

Military historian and strategist Martin van Creveld concludes that whenever a state takes on a guerrilla movement, it will lose. The reason is that when the strong are seen beating the weak (knocking down doors, roughing up people of interest, and shooting ragtag guerrillas), they are considered to be barbarians. This view, amplified by the media, will eventually eat away at the state’s ability to maintain moral cohesion and drastically damage its global image.

As the state’s soldiers continue to fight weak foes, they will eventually become as ill disciplined and vicious as the people they are fighting, due to frustration and mirror imaging. For the state, it will likely not only lose the war but also in the process destroy the effectiveness of its army. Citizens lose their feeling of solidarity with the goals of their government when they perceive it to be acting immorally.

The predicament of the current military is that it is not prepared to fight these ragtag groups. The military is designed to fight the Russias of the world, not whatever terrorist group comes into the forefront.

The military budget should be cut drastically. No matter how many new shipments of bombing gadgetry, that technology has become irrelevant.

posted in: Essays