No Easy Answers

 

Red-Do Not Travel
I'm thinking this map needs to be updated.

    I originally wanted to write something light, something to (hopefully) make you laugh.  However, since the world continues to be a dangerous place, I felt compelled to write something a little darker.

    To be sure, the following consists of my understanding of facts and opinions of same.  You're more than welcome to take issue with these interpretations.  That said, I can't possibly be the only one in the world who thinks this way.   With that in mind, I'll press on. 

    If you really have a problem with my point of view, there's always the next history of the world or some other bits of nonsense which are sure to grace (?) this corner of the blogosphere soon.  That's really where I feel most comfortable, anyhow. 

"Well, I'm here now. 
May as well hang around and see what the little troll has to say."

    If you'd like to hang around, though,  by all means...hang around.

"What did I just say?"

    On the bright side, if I am wildly wrong, it's not like this is going to wind up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal or on Fox News.  

"Or CNN.  You racist."

    It's just going to be between you, me, and the people who foolishly blunder onto this site while searching for Anime porn.

    As if there's anything wrong with that.

    Unless  you've been living under a rock or in Hollywood, you'd know there's something very bad brewing near the Black Sea.

"Sea of Color."
    Mind you, there's something bad brewing in the East China Sea, too, but one dumpster fire at a time.

    I'm not confident a lot of Americans actually understand what is going on in Ukraine (or would that be "The" Ukraine?), much less find it on a map.

"So, it's like trying to decide if it's 'The' Batman or just plain 'Batman'?"
 

   To a lot of Americans, it's just something going on way over there.  After all, we've got enough to worry about on this side of the Atlantic.  Like whether we should allow dudes to swim against women in college swimming.

    Growing up, the only interaction I had with anything Ukrainian was with the neighbors a few houses  down.  Plus, Ukrainians make kick-ass pierogies.

Wait.
Wouldn't that be the Slovaks?
Or the Poles?
See what I mean

    Still, as a child I at least knew where the country was.

    It was part of the Soviet Union.  Way over there.

    In the last decade of the 20th century as the USSR disintegrated (frankly, given what's going on in our country nowadays, I'm much less inclined to yuk it up than I used to be-another story for another day, though),  Ukraine (I'm just going to dispense with "The"-it's clumsy, wordy, and puts me over the word limit imposed by Blogger*) was one of those countries that decided they were better off not being under Moscow's thumb.

    Needless to say (perhaps), the loss of Ukraine was quite a blow to Mother Russia.  One of the largest regions of Europe, it included a couple significant seaports, Odessa and Sevastopol, home of the Soviet Black Fleet.

And the sexiest women on the planet.

    In addition to these crucial  "warm water ports" (pay attention...you'll hear that phrase again), Ukraine also possessed the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world.  Of course, this made the Russians a little uneasy, as well as the nations of the West.  Certainly, nobody wanted yet another player in the "Nuclear Club." 

    After Pakistan, there wasn't any more room, you understand.

    With that in mind, the United States, United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation (oh, the irony) signed the Budapest Memorandum in 1994 which basically guaranteed the sovereignty of Ukraine as grateful appreciation for its acceptance of non-proliferation.

    So, the Ukrainians, silly rabbits, trusted them and went ahead and listed their nukes on eBay.  Where they were promptly snatched up by North Korea.

    Just kidding.

But, would you be surprised, though?

    Anyway, the wheels began to fly off the bus only twenty years later when Russia annexed the Crimea, citing pro-Russian sentiments on the peninsula.  Yeah, Sudetenland, anyone?

    I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that Sevastopol was in Crimea.

    What did NATO do, you might wonder?  Well, Crimea remains in Russian hands.  Not that I advocate dropping the 82nd Airborne there to throw them out, you understand.

    Fast forward only eight years later and Vladimir Putin has upwards of 100,000 troops surrounding the former Soviet Republic.  The West holds its breath as it anticipates an incipient Russian invasion.  Personally, I think they'll wait until after the Olympics, but I could be wrong.

    Ditto China and Taiwan.  But, remember what I said.  One crisis at a time.

    What is motivating Russia, you may ask?  Well, for one, the former Soviet Union is loathe to have a potential member of NATO on their doorstep (sidebar, your honor?  To be fair, how would we react if Canada were to suddenly become part of the Warsaw Pact?  Or Russian missiles be parked in Cuba?).

Oh.  Hang on.
We've seen that movie before.

    Beyond a desire to reconstitute the former glory of the Motherland, Putin is seeking what the Soviets, and the Czars before him, have sought:  a warm water port.  Russia, to be sure, is one honking huge country.  However, as big as it is, with a massive coastline, it is essentially landlocked.  Most of its ports are either inaccessible to the ocean, or frozen over for much of the year.  To gain the open ocean has been at the forefront of Russian foreign policy from Peter the Great until today.

Peter the Great
Not to be confused with his cousin, Sergei the Meh

    With that in mind, having access to the Black Sea will give you access to the Mediterranean Sea which will give you access to the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.

    I may not like it (but, seriously, who am I?), but those are the facts.   

    Of course, the NATO countries have worked themselves into a tizzy over Ukraine's predicament.  Well, except Germany.  No, wait.  Germany sent helmets.  And strudel MREs.

Berlin wisely decided that nudies of Angela Merkel
would be considered an act of war, though.

    They cite the old "give them an inch, they'll take a mile" adage (which, for Europeans, may be "give them a meter, they'll take a kilometer").  They fear a repeat of Nazi Germany's incursions into Austria and Czechoslovakia and earnestly want to nip Putin's maneuverings in the bud.   

    For our part, the Eggplant-in-Chief is especially incensed.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with his abject failures with the economy, COVID, and inner-city crime.  One does have to wonder why he's so laser-focused on the Ukrainian border while our own southern border is about as strong as cotton candy, though.

    NOTE:  One Brandon apologist condescended to remind me that Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California aren't faced with a hundred thousand man army at their back door.  I maintain that, no, it's worse.  But, I digress.

    Wag the dog comes to mind.

    Still, Ukraine is virtually surrounded, so I will try to keep my cynicism in check.  That said, Joe Biden is no John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan.  Hell, he's not even as competent as Jimmy Carter.

"Thanks, I appreciate that."

    I just sincerely hope things won't spin out of control.

    So, what should we do?  While it may seem I'm excusing the Russians for what's going on, I certainly am not.  Ukraine is a sovereign nation whose territorial integrity must be protected.  While we do not have a mutual defense treaty with them (the Budapest Memorandum isn't a treaty), common human decency demands that we help them .

    To an extent.  There is no scenario that I see which includes American troops (the cliché "boots on the ground") fighting in Ukraine.

    Sanctions if Russia invades?  Sure.  Sending the Ukrainians military equipment (I mean, the German helmets are a nice touch, but I'm thinking anti-tank missiles might be a tad better)?  Yes.  Calling out Russia's adventurism  for the thuggish land grab it is?  Absolutely.

     Yes, I understand the need to draw a line.  I certainly can see parallels between Europe of the 1930s and the Europe of today.  I understand history.  I get it.  There are no easy answers, but I can't see sacrificing thousands of our youngsters in another war to defend another country.

   
It's sad to say, but it's a realistic thing to say.  Russia is no Iraq.  Putin can give us a much bigger bloody nose than Saddam Hussein ever could.

    And not just because Saddam is dead.

    If you disagree and think we should send our children to die in Europe for the third time in little over a hundred years, I will respect your opinion.  

    But, I will also think you're wrong. 

 

*yeah, Blogger doesn't do this.

 

   

History of the World-All in the Family

 NOTE:  I'll continue to post this disclaimer.  I'd like to caution against using anything you see below to study for the History Advanced Placement Examination.  If you do, the only college you'll get into is Klown Kollege and you'll probably be confused for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Or Joe Biden.  Especially if you sniff their hair.

Egypt I
Mummies and Mayhem
They may have been compensating for something

    As we continue our story, we'll next concentrate on the goings-on in Egypt.  Of course, there was a lot happening in other parts of the world, most notably with the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Akkadians, Hittites, Phoenicians, Minoans, Proto-Republicans, Hebrews, and the Schwartz family from what would become northern Poland.

"Quite frankly, that Middle East was the most fantastic Middle East in history, if you want to know the truth.  Beachfront property as far as the eye can see, a dry climate most unlike Mar-a-Lago...to be honest, the Florida humidity has done unbelievable things to my hair, but it's still better than the disgrace which is New York City, one of the greatest cities in the world when my friend Rudy ran it.  The Egyptians especially were big hygiene nuts, wrapping themselves in gauze when they died and took all their possessions with them so the government wouldn't be able to confiscate it.    Plus, there's nobody running around cutting peoples' heads off yet.  In fact, I plan on using the time machine that I built with my own quite stupendously yuge hands.  It's the most fantastic time machine in the world, to travel back and jump-start the 'Make the Nile Great Again' campaign."              

"No cutting heads off infidels?"
"Infidels haven't been invented yet."
"Oh.  Well, DEATH TO AMERICA, just to be sure."
"Granted.  All in good time, though."


    There were also the growing civilizations of the Indians,
Wrong Indians
Eskimos, Loyal Order of Water Buffalo, Mesoamericans and the Pacific (for all I know), not to mention those freezing their baguettes off in Scandinavia.  When they weren't arranging boulders in circles just to confuse the hell out of future archeologists.

   However, the nuns never delved much into those civilizations because they weren't proper Catholics (neither were the Assyrians I would have reminded them, were I not concerned for my knuckles).  That being the case, we'll stick with the Near East.  Mostly because that's what I remember.  Plus, I don't feel like doing much research into the others.

Meanwhile, in China...

    Rest assured, we'll get back to the Sumerians, et.al.  For now, though, let's direct our attention to the region centered on the Nile.  Okay, there were the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, but, yummy fertile crescent rolls notwithstanding, it was the Nile which really kicked ass.  And not just because it flowed from south to north-how freaky is that?
"Hey, Yankee, the St. Johns River in Florida flows north, too."
"North?  I thought it flowed up."
"How yew figger?"
"Well, it goes up on the map."
"Always knew you wuz more'n a purty face."

    Shortly after being kicked out of Mesopotamia for playing their music too loud ("We don't want to be close to the Iranians, anyway.  Yeah, call them Persians all you want, but they're still nuts.  Have you seen "300?"), the folks who'd become the Egyptians headed down the desert a ways until they fell into a flowing body of water teeming with hippos, crocodiles, and birds with bad attitudes.
  
"No, seriously, come on in.  The water's fine."

    The peoples who would build one of the greatest empires of the ancient world noticed how frikkin' green it was around that whacky river.  Not only was it green, its flowing waters deposited vast amounts of fertile silt all along its banks.  They'd be able to plant all sorts of crops, once they evicted the crocs.   Plus, a vast amount of silt was deposited at the Delta Burke Nile Delta, just as it entered the Mediterranean Sea.  They didn't call it that, of course.  I think they called it the "Mediterranean Ocean." 

    Stupid early Egyptians.

"Okay, this sucks."  
"On the bright side, we'll have a bumper crop
 of asparagus."
 "But, our pee will smell."  
"Well, there is that."
    Anyway, they figured that it would be a great place to settle down, plant crops, and kill anyone who tried to muscle in on that sweet silt action, worship their gods, or criticize their taste in music.  Unfortunately, they learned that the largesse provided by the river came at a cost, since the Nile flooded on a regular basis.  
    
    Good news?  The receding waters left a land rich for agriculture.  Bad news?  Half the Egyptians built their houses too close to the river banks.  And drowned.

    Once they divided up the belongings of their ex-neighbors, after
"Uh....got any Diet Coke, instead?"
filing a claim with Mutual of Sinai for damages, pain, and suffering, they then thought it would be a good idea to form a central government to oversee the burgeoning society.  First, they established a capital at Memphis, a little south of what is now Cairo.  Then, they designated a ruler, which they called a "pharaoh" (Greek-or Latin-for "ruler."  Or "Yul Brynner."  Historical sources are unclear).

    Early Egyptian culture consisted of sister marriage (because, let's face it, those chicks mucking around the papyrus farms were beasts), cat worship (because dogs were too busy sniffing butts), molesting camels (talk about "Hump Day"), pulling vital organs through the nose (of hopefully dead people), and carving Tik Tok hieroglyphics on the inside walls of pyramids. 

"Sniffing butts?  Tell me more."



 
Wrong hippo.
  The regions of Lower (aka "South") and Upper (aka "North") Egypt were brought together after the lower region's ruler, Sherman I, abdicated in favor of seeking his dream of swimming with hippos farther south (geographical south.  Confusing?  Yeah, me too.  Told you-stupid Egyptians).   

    The first pharaoh of the United States of Egypt, Elvis I (the capital was in Memphis, remember.  Please try and keep up with the comedy), tragically died when he choked on a Crocodile and Banana Sandwich whilst on the Royal Throne (aka "crapper") in his palace, Ibn-el Gracelandkhenaten.

NOTE:  The following tale of Egyptian History may have been inspired slightly by Hollywood.  Hey, it's all I got.  Sue me.
  
    The reign of the next Pharaoh, Seti I, started off well.  He
I mean, come on, who could blame Imhotep?  
I'd risk cockroaches.
supervised many public works projects, built an impressive military, and forbade the serving of Crocodile and Banana sandwiches in the imperial cafeteria.  However, he was betrayed by his wife, the pharaohness, Anck-su-Namun (who was probably his sister), who began doing the wild thing with the high priest, Imhotep (who was not her brother.  That whore).

"Apparently, the royal scepter was all it was cracked up to be."

  She killed Seti when he walked in them, then killed herself, hoping that her lover would bring her back to life.  


    Imhotep, wanting nothing to do with any of that business, ran off to hide in the desert town of Hamunaptra, to possibly find refuge with Sherman and his band of swimming hippos.  

"I suppose a sincere apology and maybe 
some community service is out of the question...?"
    However, he's captured and mummified, along with his drinking buddies, who really should have stayed home instead of lying to their wives that they had to work late.  But, to show how hacked off the former pharaoh's bodyguards were, they cut off his tongue and poured in a bunch of scarabs (big Egyptian cockroaches) before they wrapped him in rolls of gauze from the Giza Branch of Johnson & Johnson.

    Eventually, Brendan Fraser would wake him after falling into a hole while being chased by Ottoman soldiers.

    But, that's another story. 

And a lot better than this steaming pile of crap.

    After Seti's death, the nascent Egyptian civilization continued on for thousands of years, starting with the Old Kingdom (when the great pyramids were built with extraterrestrial help...until Pharaoh Trumpenefru threw all the aliens off the planet), then the Middle Kingdom, then the New Kingdom, ending with the Cleopatra Kingdom starring Elizabeth Taylor around 40 BC (give or take a few years...go ahead...count) when the Romans got fed up with those sister-marrying screwballs and just took over the whole shebang.

"My eyes are up here, Julius."

    In all that time, though, the other civilizations of the Near East were beginning to flourish.  Even though quite a bit happened around the lands of the Nile before the Egyptian sun finally set (and we'll get to it eventually), we'll now direct our attention to these other cultures.

    And, by "now," I mean "whenever."



Next:  The Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians.  Oh, my.


A Coffee By Any Other Name

 

"And don't expect 'Merry Christmas,' either. 
 Because FU, that's why."

    As I sat down to write tonight, I had initially thought to give you something of a more serious nature.  After all, there are plenty topics from which to choose:  face diapers, vaccine efficacy, Orange Man antics, White House dementia, Alec "Big Shot" Baldwin, crime in the streets, a screen door southern border, sky-high inflation, and the very real possibility that a great many people will begin dying in Ukraine and Taiwan shortly after the Olympics.

 

    But, no, all that is depressing.  While I refuse to rule out addressing any of the hard-hitting issues of the day in later posts, I decided to rant on about something which has as much intellectual gravitas as "The Masked Singer."

Or Whoopi Goldberg wearing a mop.
    

    What I'm talking about is that Nexus of Pretension: Starbucks.

    To be honest, Starbucks ranks a good third when it comes to me getting coffee (behind Wawa and Dunkin).  In fact, I usually only go there in my capacity as a "Multi-Venue Consumption Transportation Representative" for Uber Eats (yeah, talk about being pretentious).

Not as cool as this, though


    NOTE:  We also have Sheetz in my area.  However, since I have never had coffee there, I haven't included them on my list.

What we refer to as the Redneck Wawa

    However, this morning, I found myself in need of some caffeine.  And, since it was too early to get a soda (or pop, to you weird people), I thought to seek out a good cup of coffee.  Considering that my only choices were 7-Eleven (remember, I said a good cup of coffee) and Starbucks, though, I decided to risk pompous ostentation for what really is a third-rate cuppa Joe.

"In addition to coffee which can strip paint,
 may we also suggest a mummified hot dog
or fart wrapped in cellophane disguised as a hoagie?"

    Even though I was a little leery of the Patchouli and Biscotti Metropolis, I resolved to get over myself.  I figured what harm could it be to just get some coffee? 

    As I walked through the door and waded through a few hipsters sipping on their brews or eating a scone, biscuit, whatever, I was greeted by a very cheery barista.  It went downhill from there.


    "Good morning, sir!  Welcome to Starbucks!"

    “I’ll have a Large coffee.”

    “You mean a Venti?”

    “What’s a Venti?”

    “It’s a Large coffee.”

    “Why can’t I just say ‘Large’?”

    “Because we’re Starbucks.”

    “What? Well, that’s frikkin’ stupid!”

    “Well, sir, Starbucks doesn’t have Large coffees. We have Ventis.”

    “Okay, I'll play your game.  Why?”

    “Because for every Venti sold, we send a penny to the rainforest.”

    “What???”

    “Yes, sir.  Right to the rainforest.”

    “Which rainforest?”

    “Any rainforest will do, sir. Although January is Amazon Month here at Starbucks.”

    “You’re putting me on.”

    “No, sir.  We just wrap a penny up and send it straight to Brazil via Amazon.  Wait.  That's kind of funny.  I never thought of that.  Anyway, not really sure what they do with it, but you can be sure it’s for a good cause.”

    “Sigh...okay, give me a Venti coffee.”

    “What flavor?”

    “What flavor!? Don’t you just have regular coffee?”

    “I thought you said you wanted a Venti, sir."

    "Huh?"

    "Our regular coffees are called Tall and our mediums are called Grande.  So, if you w...”

    “Whoa, whoa, whoa, doesn’t Grande mean Large?”

    “That’s only in Spanish-speaking countries, sir.  We’re based in Seattle.”

    “Well, that isn’t what I meant, and you know it. I meant all I wanted was your basic coffee. You have choices?"     

    “Oh, yes, sir.  We have Dark Roast, Extra Rich, Brazilian, Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Vanilla Ice, Jamaican Monkey Blend, Espresso, Australian Beaver Cheese, Mango Twist, Chinese Green Tea Coffee, Mocha Orgasm, Kona, Peruvian, Colombian, Mango Twist, Folgers...”

    “Wait...what??? You made that up!”

    “Which part, sir?”

    “That part about Australian Beaver Cheese.”

    “No, sir. Beavers are well known coffee drinkers.”

    “Says who?”

    “People.”

    “Which people?”

    “Beaver people.”

    “And the part about the cheese...?”

    “Same people, sir.”

    “Well, yewww, I don’t want that. Give me Dark Roast.”

    “Decaf, half caffe, third of a calf, full body, skinny, latte swirl, 10W 40, straight up...?”

    SLAM!!!!!

    “Sir? Sir??"

    

    I decided to look for the nearest Sheetz.  How bad could they be?

 Epilogue:  All kidding aside, I recently found out why they're called Ventis.  Apparently, "Venti" is Italian or Spanish or French or Somalian...

"I don't know languages."

for "twenty."  As in, you're ordering "twenty" ounces of liquid.  Likewise, some stores offer "Trientas" which means, you guessed it, "thirty" or "thirty ounces" of coffee.  Still doesn't explain why their frikkin' GRANDE isn't the large, though.  Pretentious douchebaggery affoot, methinks.

"Hear that, chum?  TO THE GRIEVANCEMOBILE!"
"That's only for racism, you idiot."
"Oh.  My bad.  How 'bout some coffee, instead?  Your treat."


Next time:  I think I'll continue with my History of the World series, for which I'm sure you've all been waiting with baited breath.  So, start studying now.  You'll need to know when I'm selling you a line of crap.

Hint:  That's often.

 

 

Insanity

 

    Got you, didn't I?
    No, this post has nothing to do with my struggles with mental health.

"Although...there is that."

    Actually, it's a review of the latest opus from Robyn Engel, she of the Life By Chocolate: Robyn Alana Engel's Blog on, duh, Blogger (hopefully you already knew that it's on Blogger.  If not, WTH are you doing here?  Looking for porn?).

"Search for porn."

     Hang on.



   Oh, who am I kidding?  More like five minutes. 

    Anyway, back to Robyn.  Okay, first off, the title of her newest book is NOT Insanity.  Rather, it's InSanity.  The reason I used the spelling that I did was that I wanted to draw the two of you in to see what crazy ass shit I was putting out this time.  You see, I employed a classic "bait and switch" technique to suck you in.

"Suck us in?  So there is porn?"
"Raht.  Porn.  Let's go, Brandon!"

     Robyn is one of those authors who I like to call...talented.  She is much more talented, and better looking, than I, you understand.  She weaves a serious tale (on mental illness.  Please keep up.  Especially you two on the porch) which is bracketed by lighthearted observations of the, ahem, insanity, which is the hallmark of our existence on this crazy place we call Earth.

"Shit.  I would've called it 'Water.'  But...whatever. 
Have to change all the maps, though."

    Her writing style (and I'm quoting myself) reminds me of lot of the writing style of Steven King.  Only without dead things, telekinesis, killer cars, or buck teeth.

"Not a little hurtful."
NOTE:  Now you know why Steven King keeps his mouth closed a lot.
  

    When you're done with this excellent work you will have arrived at a much better understanding of the demons of mental illness, specifically suicide.  Robyn pointedly...uh, points out...(please excuse the clumsy wording.  I couldn't think of anything better.  I told you she was a better writer than I) that people don't commit suicide.  Neither are they selfish.

    She also talks about something called Viagra Ice Cream.  So, there's that.

"Mmmmmmmm......viagra ice cream......"


"With nuts."




    The best part of this book?  I learned some things and was entertained at the same time.  And, that my friends, is the mark of an outstanding writer.

    Do yourself a favor and get this book (or any the others which she has written over the years).  You'll be glad you did.

    InSanity is available on Amazon.  When you get there, type in Robyn Engel" and, like magic, you'll go right to where you want to be.

    For every ten books sold, a complimentary shipment of dental floss will be sent to Steven King.

"You shut your whore mouth."


Happy Independence Day!

     Or "Fourth of July" to the rest of the world.     Yes, yes, sigh, I know.  Many other countries, other than the United State...