The Lizard Pit

Monday, March 07, 2005

Revenge of the CHiMPs

Lately you can't turn around on the internet (so to speak) without seeing something about that horrific tag-team chimpanzee mauling that happened recently. I'll leave Dave at Garfield Ridge to educate you on the Monkey Peril, but it is lucky that humankind is sheltered in the strong arms of Science, or at least has a shitload of guns, knives and sharp sticks.

Anyhow, I think that one thing that everyone should keep in mind is that most animals are potentially dangerous. Wild animals (read "non-domesticated") are especially so, and chimpanzees are so intelligent I wager that they will never be domesticated, unless we are talking a David Brin "Uplift" series situation. Another thing to keep in mind is that chimpanzees are crazy-strong. And bitey. And get to be about 150 or more pounds. They kill and eat monkeys whenever they can. In short, chimpanzees are outright bastards. In that regard, they do share a common characteristic with their human cousins.

If we could draw any lessons from this unfortunate incident, it would be to pay attention to what's going on and to carry a bat with nails in it or something for use when hanging around a bunch of wild animals. If worse comes to worse, you may have to go all Charleton Heston on the furry mo-fos.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Phew

That was quite a long wait, wasn't it?

What can I say, I've been busy. Busy, busy, busy.

However, a couple things happened lately that I feel like sharing with you (and by 'you', I mean 'me' 'cause nobody reads this thing.)

Remember how I wrote that big long post about getting a pistol? Well, I didn't go that direction. Instead I got a rifle.

I know what you are thinking, "But Chilpy, that is the complete opposite of a handgun! It is, in fact, a two-hand-and-a-shouldergun." And you are absolutely right. However, the chance to own a gen-u-ine US Rifle .30 M1 manufactured by the Springfield Armory during the closing days of Dubya-Dubya-Two at an eminently reasonable price comes along but once in a man's life, and I jumped on that chance like a duck on a beetle.

And my brothers and sisters, I do not regret it. I took it out to my uncle's farm and started blasting like Yosemite Sam. Oh, it was a glorious thing, even if the clip does occasionally slip down the sleeve of my coat when it pops out with that classic "p-ting!" sound. I dig that sound like I dig that funky guitar in Stevie Wonder's Superstition.

It'll be a while before I can get that pistol I have picked out, but so long as the ninjas/zombies don't come around in the meantime, I should be all right. Besides, a gun that killed Nazis, Fascists, Emperor-worshippers, and Communists ought to be able to handle a zombie, right?

Right?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Hey, I just bought a bunch of Enron stock...

So maybe I am a little behind the times. There really is no other explanation for why I had not played Halo until a day or two ago. It's been out since '01 and I know people who have played it. It also has the one completely vital prerequisite I need to consider buying a game: an excellent, top notch story. Neat-o graphics and nifty sound is all well and good, but I dig on the storyline. I'll buy a game with a damn fine story and unimpressive visuals before I will a game with those qualities reversed.

Every so often a game emerges from anonymity that has it all. One that strikes me was Homeworld, another sci-fi game with an engrossing story, excellent graphics and gameplay. I haven't played either sequel to Homeworld because I am not as enthused with the way the story has evolved. Too much of a mystical, "chosen people" feel to it to really hit my psycho-obsession switch. Halo, on the other hand, just might have what it takes to do so. What I read of the background is compelling, and quite a few of the concepts sound like some stuff I used to ruminate over with a friend of mine while working the 11 PM - 7 AM shift.

The gameplay is excellent. I am not all that great (suck) at Quake/Counterstrike/etc. type games, but Halo may be a compelling enough reason for me to learn the art of silicon slaughter. Frankly, the grunts' dialogue when they know the Master Chief is coming for them is damn near 98% of why I want the game. "Wake up! He's coming!" "He's everywhere!" gibbering and sniffling in fear, it is a reversal of the Predator movies. Fear the Wrath of the Humans, baby. I'm enough of a species chauvinist that I revel in any chance to give those alien/elf/demon/machine/orc scum a little taste of that flavor of the month.

Course, I have to get an X-Box, since my computer is a bit...restricted...when it comes to pretty pictures and whatnot. And the game. Ah well, I can always just wait for an armored car to wreck outside my window. Any. Minute. Now.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Careful! He's packing!

Well, not yet. Actually, I've been thinking about buying a handgun for a while. I have a rifle, and it is pretty sweet (military surplus weapon that I managed to find a bayonet for) I wouldn't mind having a pistol as well. There are a bunch of reasons why I want to get one, ranging from the practical to the personal to the principled, but I don't feel like going into them at this point.

When I sat down a while ago and decided to research and find the Gun I Would Feel Most Comfortable Wielding In A Quentin Tarantino Movie ("Say 'what' again! I dare you! I double dare you, #$%^$#^&$%#@! Say 'what' one more *&%#$@& time!") I had a strict list of specifications.

1) That it be a semi-automatic. Nothing against revolvers, I just prefer the extra capacity and quick reloads offered by the semi-auto. Having spent a lot of time at a relations farm shooting, I realize I need all the chances I can get to hit a target.

2) That it be in .45, .40, or as a last resort, 9mm. I was instructed in the Way of the Gun by a Colt 1911 partisan, and the belief that a bigger bullet is, by definition, better is deeply ingrained. I am pretty sure my uncle believes that you can kill anything, up to and including dinosaurs and space aliens, with a .45 or a .44 magnum for certain. Since I am only buying one pistol, I want one that can be used to adequately defend myself. That means plinkers are lupara non grata.

3) That it work all the time. I want the pistol equivalent of the AK-47 in terms of reliability. Monkeys can field strip, reassemble, and fire an AK during a sandstorm while sitting in a pool of mud without a misfire. I do not necessarily want the AK's defects, but if it came down to a choice between reliability or accuracy, I'll take reliability. I may not be winning any sharpshooting tournaments, but if (or when) I wake up one night with flesh eating zombies staggering into the room, I want my gun to go Bang! the first time.

4) I'd like it to look like a death dealing machine. To quote the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "Make it ugly. Make it clear that there is a right side and a wrong side of this gun, and if you are on the wrong side then things are going badly for you." I mean, who wants a sissy gun? Not Clint Eastwood, and certainly not Chilperic (Esq).

In the end, after exhaustive searching, I'd narrowed it down to a couple entries. One is a more modestly priced firearm that seems reliable and is cheap enough I would not mind throwing it into the river after eliminating my enemies in a personal Night of the Long Knives. Hypothetically speaking.

However, my first choice, the one I lay awake at nights, staring blankly at the slowly rotating blades of the ceiling fan thinking about, is the Heckler & Koch USP pistol. It seems like it satisfies my criteria, though I'll have to find one to shoot first to be sure. It comes in .45 ACP, it is semi-auto, it is from H&K, so it is has a reputable pedigree, and it has very good reviews. It also has a more than passing resemblence to the pulse pistols on Farscape. Which is really, really cool. Now all I need is a Mauser broomhandle pistol to rig up with a big flash hider to mimic Han Solo's "Mos Eisley Special"...


Sunday, November 14, 2004

Why Islamic Terrorists Are Idiots

A couple days ago, I am reading the news and, lo and behold, I see an article about my pen pal, Osama. Seems like O-Dog had recieved some sort of clerical exegesis stating that Al Qaeda would be permitted to use nuclear weapons against the Great Satan. Well, cripes, I bet Osama was sitting on a 100 kiloton "Brezhnev Special" waiting and waiting for some wacked out preacher to tell him Allah gave the go ahead before he lit up the Crusaders with it.

Which brings me back to the title of this post. I know these guys sit around gossiping about the good old days back in the seventh century, but they are aware of what's been going on the last fifty or so years, right? Last I checked, the United States and the Rompin' Stompin' Russians spent the better part of half a century ready for a thermonuclear rumble. These guys don't have any excuse not to be aware of this. It was on the news. There were plenty of movies and books and TV shows and magazine articles about it. Hell, Tom Clancy built his whole career around it.

Let's say OBL sets off a nuke in the United States. He kills tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans. He is out of nukes. Uncle Sam, on the other hand, has over ten thousand of 'em gathering dust. The United States still has plenty of "Commie Killer" Minuteman III ICBMs sitting in silos out west. The warhead fairy didn't collect them up after the Cold War ended. You think the United States is going to make a calm, rational, measured response like it did in Afghanistan after something like that?

The United States hasn't fought a full out, war for survival since at least the Second World War, maybe even the Civil War. What is happening in Iraq is, frankly, bush league stuff. During the Cold War there was some sort of parity between the two sides. No other nation, or group of nations can approach the United States militarily or in raw destructive power anymore. This is not a boast, or testosterone-fueled chest pounding. This is a Fact. If anyone thinks the United States is going to accept a nuclear attack without flexing that dormant muscle, they are deluding themselves.

When I saw the video and photographs of the massacre at Beslan, the first thought that wen t through my mind is, "Chechnya is finished." Vladimir Putin could have done pretty much whatever he wanted to the place and nobody would have said a word. One thing I hear every so often is some sort of nonsense about how killing terrorists only breeds more terrorists. Which is nonsense. If you kill enough people, eventually, people stop fighting you. Otherwise the Romans and the Carthagenians would be suiting up for the Four Hundred and Eighty-Second Punic War. However, deliberately disregarding every pretense of civilized, moral behavior and engaging in absolute depravity is a good way to make implacable enemies. Congrats, Chechnya!

That's why these guys are idiots. There they all are in some sort of masturbatory conference about giving the infidels a taste of jihadi radiation and nobody says, "You know, I'm for slaughtering the unbelievers and all, but what if they decide to bust out the neutron bombs and give Mecca the Hiroshima treatment? How many of our smuggled nukes going off in American cities will it take for them to atomize the bejesus out of a quarter of the globe? If our long term goal is for the gamma radiation to turn our mujahideen into super powered mutants, then by all means we ought to go for it, but if not.... well, maybe we ought to keep going with this low level war that the Western Infidel Left ignores?"

Like I said, idiots.

Friday, November 12, 2004

"Nothing Doing"

That's what the head of the French War Ministry scrawled across a buisness proposal made to them by a man named Alfred Krupp. A few years later, Krupp artillery stomped the bejesus out of the French imperial army in the Franco-Prussian War. The moral of this story is not to arrogantly rest on the laurels won 70 years before by a Corsican general, but there is another, more relevant one. You always have to think ahead, plan and be ready to improvise, you have to keep your eyes on not just tomorrow, but next week. Perversely, that is why I am fascinated by history. Nowhere will you find that emphasis on repercussions, possibilities, and consequences so clearly mapped out. That's why I enjoy chess and various strategy games, the plans, the calculations of secondary and tertiary effects, then watching the planning come to fruition and unfold. Studying history leaves me with the impression that the world is an enormous pool table, and thousands of billiard balls are careening haphazardly across the green felt, each collision affecting the paths of the other balls.

I also like stories. That is what history is, more or less. Millions of stories that collectively express the experience of humanity. It also provides a bit of perspective to gauge the modern world. Are things as bad as, say, they were for the Romans in the aftermath of the battle of Cannae, when Hannibal butchered an improbable number of Roman legionaries in the worst defeat of Roman history? How about the days of the Hun invasions under Attila? Was your day at work as bad as that of Russian medieval peasants laboring under the Mongol yoke?

What so few people in the First World countries seem to understand is how truly remarkable their everyday lives are. They live in a world that seems to have rules that people obey without thinking about them. It is as if decent, respectful civilization is as fundamental as gravity.

It isn't.

Sometimes I want to rage at the world, to tell them it isn't a constant. Civilization is a thin film overlaid the barbarity and savagery of millenia. There are places in the world today where it does not exist. People have not improved over time, as the thinkers of the Enlightenment believed. At least, the basic model has not improved. Civilization's influence has molded the human being, but if that same person grew to adulthood among the Germanic warrior bands during the fall of the Western Roman Empire, he would be indistinguishable from the other members of the comitatus.

After a certain stretch of peace, I believe violence and anarchy becomes more and more likely. How many times have we heard about some little country where everyone got along just fine, until one day when one half of the country grabbed machetes and began hacking the other half of the country to death while the other half did the same? It is as if the human animal can only accept so much domestication before enthusiastically embracing its bestial nature. After the primal gods have drunk enough blood, civilization sheepishly reasserts itself.

It is a puzzle for me, civilization and barbarism. The more I consider it, the more I am inclined to think there must be a certain balance struck between the two in our lives.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Movies I Dig

Sometimes I'm not sure what to post here. Sure, Farscape is always a winner, but I get the impression that I have to strike a careful balance between praising the show and turning into Comic Book Guy.

Therefore, I decided that I would list some of my favorite movies and give a little description as to why I dig them so very hard.

Godfather: Obviously. This has to be the top movie of every American male worth knowing. Screw A Streetcar Named Desire, THIS was Marlon Brando's finest moment. Honor, Betrayal, Loyalty, How To Cook For Forty or Fifty Guys, Revenge. What else does a movie need? Besides, I love that ending. Everyone thinks the Corleones are on their way out, the sharks are circling, and Michael pulls that Five Families hit. Beautiful. That's how you get it done, folks. Let them think they got you down, let them ignore their defense, then BAM! Pop them while they are getting a shave at the barber's. That's how I made President of the Chess Club, baby.

Any Movie In Which Clint Eastwood Has A Gun. It doesn't matter which one. They are all excellent. The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, For A Few Dollars More, Dirty Harry, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Heartbreak Ridge, High Plains Drifter, Kelly's Heroes, etc. they are all good, my brothers and sisters. Heck, even that movie with the orangutan featured Clint kicking the bejesus out of people left and right. I appreciate that kind of thing in a movie. Take the movie Unforgiven. Clint's character was the good man he had become trying to keep down the bad man he's been for two hours, but the last fifteen minutes when the Bad Man reigns is what you are waiting for. You wait for the Bad Man to emerge and lay waste on the callow and cruel. Remember that scene where Dirty Harry Callahan is stepping on Zodiac's wounded leg? Once again, instrumental in becoming President of the Chess Club.

Aliens. Yeah, I like this movie and all, but here is a question that has been bothering me for a while. Everyone likes those rough, tough Colonial Space Marines, right? They were some bad mo'fo's alright. But they all died. In fact, it was a real space marine buffet, if I recall. So why do people talk about how tough they are? Oh sure, you can point to the fact that they were sent in with no bullets, but they still turned into critter chow. Still, I think Drake was The Man, even if he only had maybe 6 lines and died in a spurt of acid. Later tonight I'll pour out a 40 oz, "Drake, you were my homie. I'll mourn you till I join you".

Lawrence of Arabia. Excellent movie. Great characters, great performances. The scenes in which Lawrence turned into some sort of half-mad warlord was fascinating. However, the most insightful scene for me is at the end. Lawrence leaves the hall where the British and French are meeting with the Arab leader, and it turns out that when the doors close, the Arab leader whom Lawrence saw as a friend was just as cold and ruthless as the Europeans. I don't know why, but that sort of thing figures in my favorite stories. Maybe because I am a perverse bastard.

I have other favorite movies, but I'm tired of writing.