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Archive for January 2013

Syria, Iran, Denounce Israeli Aggression against Unarmed Missiles

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Look at the poor, innocent missiles.

Look at the poor, innocent missiles.

Damascus, Syria (AP) – Following an Israeli air attack on a Syrian military convoy headed toward Lebanon, the Assad government and Iranian President Ahmadinejad condemned Israel’s “aggression” against the surface-to-air missiles the convoy was transporting.

“The Zionist regime has once again demonstrated its utter disregard for basic decency,” read a statement issued by Syrian President Basher Assad’s office, referring to Israel. “The innocent missiles were not armed with missiles. This is yet another gross Zionist violation of international law. The international community must take real steps to address this travesty.”

Iran, a staunch supporter of the beleaguered Assad government, also spoke out against Israel. In an address at a political function, President Ahmadinejad likened the preemptive strike to a snake uncoiling in pursuit of a victim, only to be crushed by a passing tank. “The cruelty of the Zionists against harmless missiles knows no bounds. Only a country with no moral compass would direct its forces against armaments that were not carrying even light ammunition, nor a single hand grenade. This vicious assault exposes the Zionists for what they are.”

US and Israeli experts believe the convoy was ferrying sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 missiles, which could pose significant risk for Israeli air operations over Lebanon. The likely recipient, they say, is Hezbollah, the militant Shiite movement that controls much of Lebanon and fought a war with Israel 2006. The movement also condemned the assault, calling it, “a betrayal of human values by the Zionist beast that would deprive Lebanon of its sovereign right to shoot down aircraft trying to prevent us from killing Zionists.” Hezbollah has been replenishing its arsenal of missiles, thousands of which were launched at Israeli towns and cities during the war.

This is not the first time Israeli aircraft have attacked unarmed targets inside Syria. In 2007 the Israel Air Force attacked and destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria. At the time, the reactor had yet to receive its first shipment of uranium, which, at the time, experts said called into question whether Israel was playing fair. Israel has never commented on the attack and Syria never officially acknowledged it, even leveling the site before international inspectors could examine it, seeking to emphasize just how innocent and peaceful the site was.

In a similar case, Israel has never acknowledged an air attack that destroyed a suspected weapons factory in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, last year. The factory was undefended, prompting international outrage at Israel’s unprovoked aggression. Hamas, the Islamist militant faction that runs the Gaza Strip, is widely believed to be the intended user of the weapons supplied originally by Iran for use against Israel. At the time, a spokesman for the government of Sudan decried the Israeli action, calling it, “an unprovoked, evil attack on rockets and armaments that were just sitting there, not harming anyone.”

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Written by Thag

January 31, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Ben Franklin’s Guide to Parental Psychosis

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January 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I Before E, Except After Weird

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Neighborhood

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January 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Bureau of Bureaucracies Issues New Inefficiency Standards

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bureaucracyWashington, DC (AP) – The Federal Bureau of Bureaucracies released a new set of inefficiency guidelines today, the first comprehensive overhaul of the sprawling set of overlapping jurisdictions and redundancies in at least two years. The new rules will take effect on or about June 31, pending approval of the necessary forms by the Commission to Reform Idiotic Paperwork-Emitting Standards (CRIPES), which has yet to receive them.

The new standards were the result of a nationwide study in 2009 indicating that more than 35% of public-sector bureaucracies were still providing service to the citizen or customer in a timely and minimally aggravating manner. Under the previous system, enacted in 2000 but not implemented until 2010 because of miscommunication among various bodies with incompatible systems, the maximum proportion of non-dissatisfied bureaucracy users was eight percent.

Taika Number, who conducted that study, explained that enforcement of the aggravation minimum was a serious challenge,  as the body charged with enforcement, the Department of Eternal Languishing And Yearning (DELAY), had to adhere to its own strict inefficiency standards. “We actually had to disconnect some agents’ phones because they were returning calls within two business days,” she recalled. “Fortunately, we hired some overpriced consultants to crash multiple computer systems across the country, and things got back to normal.”

Under the new rules, two identical agencies will be established, both called the Department of Redundancies Department, which will have several responsibilities.

Chief among them will be conducting audits of bureaucracies, which will be required to keep every document in triplicate on file. As part of this requirement, every office will be required to maintain photocopying machines in multiples of three, and digital scans of the documents will not be acceptable. The latter provision remains in force from the previous system, and adheres to the Outdated Bureaucracy System of Office Letter Execution Torpedoing Ensurance (OBSOLETE). OBSOLETE mandates that no aspect of bureaucratic technology may be fewer than twenty-five years behind current standards.

A second function of the Department of Redundancies Departments will be to conduct overlapping Take Your Time training programs for clerks and back-office personnel, and drill them in the misplacement and erroneous filing of documents.

The bodies will also create and maintain conflicting systems for handling visitors, and issue confusing rules. One department will cover Motor Vehicle Bureaus, welfare agencies and unemployment and IRS offices. The other will cover welfare agencies, IRS offices, Motor Vehicle Bureaus (which it will call the Department of Motor Vehicles, and recognize no other name as valid) and customer service at major utilities and insurance providers.

underwearAnn Arkey is slated to head one of the Department of Redundancy Departments, but until CRIPES approves the new standards, which one she will direct is still unclear. She has ambitious plans for the bureaucracies under her supervision, such as a Frustration Index that determines which visitors are the ripest for being shunted from window to window and which ones are most likely to escalate mild altercations over a forfeited place in line into full-fledged fistfights.

“I also want to develop a program to keep our information desks at peak unhelpfulness,” she said, “and there’s really only one thing standing in the way right now. CRIPES.”

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Written by Thag

January 27, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Why Yes, I’d Love to Waste an Evening at My Kid’s School

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School performances

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January 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

This Is Not a Comment on Your Weight, Honey, I Promise

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Bed

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January 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Security Council Rejects Petition on Syria War Crimes: ‘No Mention of Israeli Atrocities’

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UNNew York, NY (AP) – The United Nations Security Council reacted coolly to a petition calling for the body to investigate alleged war crimes by the Syrian government, saying that the request failed to provide for adequate condemnation of Israeli aggression against Palestinians.

The petition, signed by 58 countries, asked the Council to look into accounts of massacres and the targeting of civilians by Syrian forces and affiliated militias. It comes against the backdrop of continued violence all over the country, including a newly intensified campaign in the north and the Syrian Air Force bombing of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus.

Russia, long opposed to international intervention in the two-year-long civil war gripping Syria, warned that it would veto any resolution targeting the Assad regime. Russia seeks to forestall foreign involvement in its internal struggles with separatist elements, and sees in its longtime ally Syria a precedent for such involvement. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow, “Russia sees no benefit to singling out one side in this bloody conflict for condemnation,” unless it’s Israel, which was oppressing countless innocent, peace-loving Palestinians long before Assad began killing them indiscriminately.

China, also wary of legitimizing international “meddling” in other countries’ internal conflicts, does not wish to invite scrutiny of its policies in Tibet, and has shied away from “one-sided declarations that will accomplish nothing,” as the Foreign Ministry in Beijing phrased it, unless those declarations are leveled at Israel. “The wholesale slaughter of women and children in the Yarmouk refugee camp must not be used by cynical partisan parties to imply that anyone but Israel mistreats Palestinians,” its statement read. “The allegations of carnage serve no one but the merchants of death who wish to encourage further involvement,” and since Israel cannot be blamed directly for the massacres, it is best to remain silent on the issue.

The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, Navi Pillay, lamented the lack of UN action on the issue of Syrian refugees, expected to number one million by the end of the winter. “But I can’t really blame the Security Council for this one,” she explained. “Since it’s not Israel driving these people from their homes, who can be expected to care? It’s not as if actual concern for human lives has ever been the driving force behind Security Council resolutions.”

At press time, the Shiite Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, allied with Assad, had announced that it was prepared to start another war with Israel so the international community might do something. “Plus, we’d get to launch all these cool rockets into Israel,” said Hassan Nasrallah, the movement’s leader.

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Written by Thag

January 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm

4 Out of 5 Stalkers Prefer Pine-Scented Mace

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Oddly, the respondents did not choose anything in the broccoli-cabbage family.

Oddly, the respondents did not choose anything in the broccoli-cabbage family.

New York, NY (AP) – A nationwide poll has found that stalkers like a faceful of mace with the aroma of pine twice as much as they do lemon- or cinnamon-scented spray, according to Criminal Research Associated Partners, a firm that studies the consumer protection market.

The CRAP study asked 2500 stalkers to list their favorite mace scents in order of preference, and pine came out the clear winner, though some areas of the country clearly favored citrus, such as Florida. Overall, about eighty percent of the respondents chose pine as their favorite, with lemon, orange, cinnamon and vanilla rounding out the rankings. The poll had a margin of error that effectively conceals the guy hiding in the bushes.

CRAP CEO Mick Turitian says he was surprised by the results, given that stalkers tend to be a single-minded group, and that he was pleased to discover that they were, on average, sophisticated enough to also consider the aesthetic questions involved in being sprayed by the caustic material. “Last year we conducted a survey about what color dye attempted rapists want to be sprayed with, and there was no clear favorite,” he said. “It’s encouraging to see the American stalker maturing, and realizing there’s more than just incapacitation and uncontrollable tearing to be had from being sprayed with CN Tear Gas.” Turitian referred to the purple dye that is included in some varieties of Chemical Mace, the product’s trade name.

George Tannenbaum, director of Clandestine Romeos Ever Eyeing People (CREEP), a fraternal organization for stalkers, said that tastes in mace have been changing for some time, but the data pool has not been as rich as it is now. “Ten years ago, most of our members ranked a direct spray in the face as about as unpleasant as being kicked repeatedly in the groin, but now mace has outpaced other defenses by a large margin,” he explained. “With the greater variety of scents available today, that’s not much of a surprise – at least, not as surprising as having the object of your devotion mistake your affections for ill intent and giving you a sudden, totally unjustified shot of harmful chemicals in the face.”

Grace Underfire, a carrier of Chemical Mace since 1996, when she was a college student, has used her supply exactly twice, and on both occasions had to opt for an unscented variety. She remains unconvinced of the retail potential of pleasant-smelling mace. “Um…what the hell are you talking about?” she said.

The manufacturer, Mace Security International, declined to say whether the company intends to expand its modest selection of chemical defense sprays to better match the evolving preferences of stalkers. “We have no comment at this time,” said a spokesman under condition of anonymity who kept looking over his or her shoulder, then hurried back into his or her office in an undisclosed location.

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Written by Thag

January 17, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Breaking News: Panhandler Successfully Avoided

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alcohol researchNew York NY (AP) – Bruce Feiler, 28, scored a coup this morning when, on his way out of Grand Central Station on 42nd Street, he managed to maintain a buffer of other pedestrians between him and a panhandler. Feiler thus averted eye contact with the pathetic soul, and thus prevented the profound awkwardness of encountering a fellow human in such dire straits and not offering substantial assistance.

The incident marks the second time this week that the accountant has evaded the massive guilt he would otherwise feel had he walked directly past the panhandler and given the man nothing. Instead, minuscule pangs picked at Feiler’s conscience for approximately 2.8 seconds, the time elapsed between the non-encounter with the beggar and arrival at the nearest crosswalk, where Feiler’s focus shifted to the red-light-green-light dynamic that governs the remainder of his walk to work.

Feiler selected the route within the first few days of his employment at his current firm, as he had observed that crossing 42nd Street any farther east would bring him into potential contact with at least two other panhandlers. He works on the north side of 42nd at Third Avenue, which requires him to cross back over the east-west artery. On several occasions he rationalized the specifics of the route by electing to use the ATM at the Bank of New York branch at 42nd and Park, which would necessitate crossing the street almost immediately upon exiting the terminal.

Other times, he bought coffee from a streetcart vendor on the south side, and felt compelled to praise the superiority of that purveyor’s wares over those of a competing seller on the north side of the street, despite the utter lack of distinction in quality or flavor between the two. Twice, Feiler also manufactured an intention to visit a housewares store on the south side of the street in order to justify his roundabout itinerary.

In an average workweek, Feiler succeeds about half the time in avoiding the awkwardness of direct proximity with the panhandler at the Grand Central exit, which is an excellent achievement, says Hope Liss, an analyst with GOP Poverty Solutions, a for-profit research firm. “Most working pedestrians have to plan their beggar-avoidance path at least twenty feet in advance of the panhandler, but emerging from the station on a crowded weekday morning during rush hour doesn’t afford you that wiggle room,” she explained. “So managing with such consistency to create a convincing image of not noticing the beggar takes considerable skill.”

The beggar in question, Felix Henderson, 50, has a history of drug addiction and unemployment, though he is currently clean, and is considered by veteran Grand Central commuters to be relatively adept at forcing eye contact and engendering sufficient empathy to warrant a donation of at least a dime, sometimes a whole dollar. He pleasantly thanks each contributor, and praises Feiler’s skill at pretending the panhandler does not exist.

“That guy with the gray suit and always-polished shoes? Yeah, I seen him. He one of the guys who happen to remember to be on the phone as they approaches,” said the homeless man.

He shook his head. “Never seen a more pathetic sight.”

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January 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm

GOP Gearing Up To Deny Obama A Third Term

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Obama Big BirdWashington, DC (AP) – November 2016 may be nearly four years away, but the Republican Party has already set its sights on dethroning Barack Obama.

“We made some strategic errors in ’08 and 2012, and we didn’t communicate our messages effectively,” said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, one of several prominent GOP politicians whose names have been mentioned as possible candidates. “But third time’s the charm – I guarantee you won’t see Barack Obama being sworn in as President ever again.”

History does not favor the incumbent in this case: the last President to win a third term was Franklin Roosevelt in 1940, and he was the only one. But the Republicans are leaving nothing to chance, and have arrived at a two-pronged strategy to ensure that Obama retires from the Presidency for good in four years.

The first prong involves learning from the mistakes of the previous two campaigns, in which the more extreme right-wing elements of the party played an outsize influence and alienated women and Latino voters with their strident rhetoric in favor of restricted access to abortion and tighter immigration control. The Republican National Committee will try to focus on more moderate, pragmatic figures within the party to appeal to those demographics.

The second prong requires the GOP-controlled House of Representatives to obstruct, denounce, foil, bury, dilute or otherwise defeat any Democratic initiative in an effort to prevent Obama and his allies from implementing any policies to which the President can point in an election campaign. House Speaker John Boehner noted, with some gratification, that this element of the strategy does not require any significant changes in Republican methods or tactics.

“We’ve had this part of the plan in action for four years already,” he explained, “and within two years we might even win control of the Senate, too, so things are progressing well, if gradually, on that front.”

Obama, for his part, has said little of his plans for 2016. This early in the term he would naturally not talk about four years from now, preferring instead to focus on the executive challenges of the present. Addressing the next election this far in advance would only cause the electorate to question the President’s focus on the here and now, which could damage his approval ratings.

“We won’t know until a couple of years from now what Obama intends to do in ’16,” said veteran Democratic campaign adviser James Carville. “And even if he’s already made a firm decision, now is not the time to discuss it, except maybe among his closest confidantes. Even then, it might to too risky to let on what he has in mind. Washington has far too many leaks.”

Aside from Christie, the Republicans likely to try to unseat Obama include stalwarts such as Sarah Palin, Bill Richardson, Michelle Bachmann, Fred Thompson and Ron Paul, as well as relative newcomer Paul Ryan. Boehner himself might throw his hat in the ring when the time comes, but he says his focus is on the legislative front right now.

Mitt Romney was unavailable for comment, as he was still busy trying to win the 2012 election.

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Written by Thag

January 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm

NRA, Health Dept. Advocate New Public Health Policy: Hunt Fat People

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fat target

Some of the preliminary work has already been done.

Washington, DC (AP) – The incoming Obama administration has already put forward an ambitious new plan, developed with the National Rifle Association, to combat worrisome obesity trends, and it also signals a breakthrough on gun control legislation.

Long a public health issue, obesity in America has never been more prevalent; a CDC study released in August found that not a single US state had less than a 20% obesity rate, with Southern states averaging more than 35%. Many of those states support lax gun control measures, a fact that signaled opportunity to outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius.

“It became clear to me, especially after the Newtown massacre, that we need to find a way to work with the gun lobby,” she said at a press conference. “Guns are a public health issue, no question – and we need to engage the gun industry in our efforts to keep America living well.” They key, said Sibelius, was getting the NRA’s agreement on strict gun control measures in exchange for open season on obese people, of which there are now more than 78 million across the country, according to CDC statistics.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “Everyone understands the value of free access to firearms – it’s one of our basic rights as Americans. But we at the NRA also understand that our future as a free nation is just as threatened by the lumbering, flabby dweebs who put such a strain on public resources,” he remarked.

“We believe law-abiding American gun owners and users will welcome this minor inconvenience,” he continued. The new policy “puts paid the notion that the firearms industry and its allies are incapable of compromise.”

Under the program, a pilot will first be conducted in several suburban areas with a high concentration of fast food establishments. State and local health authorities will be tasked with tagging the obese with identifying markers. Tranquilizer guns will be made available for this phase, but Sebelius expects them not be necessary in most cases. “What are they going to do, run away?” she asked with a chuckle, noting the tens of millions of dollars that would be saved in diabetes-related treatments alone.

LaPierre found particular virtue in a provision of the legislation allowing the use of armor-piercing bullets on the obese. “It’s very important that we secured that right,” he stated, and said that the NRA found any restrictions on the bullets problematic, but was willing to go along with limitations on their use in other contexts. “There will be plenty of opportunity to exercise our Second Amendment rights with whatever ammunition we desire, as long as we target only the legitimately obese – and let’s face it, they make sweet targets.”

The proposal is not without administrative and legislative hurdles. The food and beverage industry may be loath to see its prime customer base drastically reduced, but lobbyists have said they might be willing to accept some population reduction, given that obesity is a growth industry. The extent of the industry’s flexibility on the issue has yet to be tested.

Of similar concern is the number of obese Americans in possession of guns, a statistic that might complicate implementation of the policy. LaPierre has suggested giving hunters an advantage via a return to the NRA’s original core endeavor, training Americans in marksmanship and the proper use of firearms, with emphasis on tactics that require mobility and a capacity to hide behind objects smaller than a standard golf cart.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did not return several phone calls requesting comment.

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January 13, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Palestinians Camped In E1: ‘Wait, Why Do We Want This Desolate Place?’

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E1. Appropriately, the area is shaped like a turd falling from a helicopter.

E1. Appropriately, the area is shaped like a turd falling from a helicopter.

Bab al-Shams, West Bank (AP) – A grassroots Palestinian effort to protest and forestall Israel’s declared intention of building housing  in this disputed area has given way to reconsideration. “On Second Thought, To Hell With This Dung Heap,” read one placard held aloft at a lightly attended rally Saturday.

Nabil Bakr, a leader of the encampment that went up on Friday, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that he and the other protesters had come to the realization that the area in question, wedged between Jerusalem and the large Israeli settlement of Maaleh Adummim to the east, was much more than a symbolic piece of land: it is also a barren stretch of desert with nothing to offer, and a horrible place to spend the bitter winter.

“I said to my colleagues, ‘Next time, let’s pick a place that’s worth fighting over,’ and they all basically agreed. We’ve already drawn up plans to make our next move at a heated shopping mall somewhere in the Greater Tel Aviv area, or maybe down in Eilat,” he said, referring to Israel’s southernmost city and a popular resort destination. Neither Tel Aviv nor Eilat is beyond the pre-1967 Green Line boundary, but pragmatism trumps ideology every time, stressed Bakr. Both cities are near the beach.

Muhammad Khatib, a veteran of grassroots protests against Israeli policy, explained that the struggle at the newly christened Bab al-Shams differs dramatically from the campaign against Israel’s separation barrier, which ran through his hometown of Bil’in. “Bil’in was a formative experience, and living there gave a sense of urgency and importance to the struggle,” he said. “But here? Who the hell would want to live here? Let the Israelis take it. I’m freezing my bedati off out here,” he added, using the Syrian dialect term for testicles.

“If the Israelis want to make this desert bloom, I say go right ahead,” concurred activist Hanan Ashrawi. “We have better things to do with out time than sacrifice ourselves for this arid slice of nowhere.” She dismissed the strategic importance of the area, noting that even if Israeli control of E1 threatens territorial contiguity of a hoped-for Palestinian state in the West Bank, Palestinians would prefer to pass through miles-long underground bypass tunnels than have to spend time above ground in the vicinity. “The place is just awful.”

This is not the first time opposing sides in a conflict have escalated their rhetoric and actions over an area that had little to recommend it. Several major battles of the First World War resulted from each side assuming the other’s persistence indicated the location had strategic or tactical significance, when in fact they were merely in a cycle of reactive escalation.

Similarly, at the start of the Second World War in Europe, Poland surrendered to Germany after three weeks of fighting in September 1939, after they realized the country they were defending was Poland, of all places. France underwent a similar process on the way to surrendering the following year, though it took them less than three weeks to conclude that France was even less worth defending than Poland. Historians have debated how many lives could have been saved had the Allies of the First World War come to that realization in 1914.

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January 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm

After Absent Chávez Sworn In, Deceased Qaddafi Appointed Minister

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Qaddafi was unavailable for comment.

Qaddafi was unavailable for comment.

Caràcas, Venezuela (AP) – With President Hugo Chávez convalescing from another round of cancer treatment and unable to attend his inauguration, the government of Venezuela went ahead nevertheless and conducted the swearing-in ceremony in his absence. At the same time, a spokesman for Chávez announced that the President, seeing that the technical presence of a government official was unnecessary for him to fulfill his duties, had appointed slain Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi as a minister in his cabinet.

Qaddafi was killed by insurgents as the Libyan opposition overran his last strongholds in October 2011, but he and Chávez saw eye-to-eye on numerous important issues, notably their stiff opposition to perceived American imperialist intentions and a willingness to lend support to anti-Western forces and governments across the globe.

For that reason, said the spokesman, the President felt comfortable tapping Colonel Qaddafi, as he was known, for the post. Chávez had also considered appointing other deceased figures to positions in his government, but since this is the first time such a move has been implemented, the President preferred to see how Qaddafi fares in the role before expanding the policy.

If Chávez in fact takes this measure to its logical conclusion, Venezuela could benefit from the experience and vision of many dead leaders and thinkers, assuming they would consent to filling the positions the government could offer them. It is unlikely, for example, that Napoleon, even with his gifts as a military commander and strategist, would serve under a Venezuelan.

However, experts agree that high on Chávez’s list is none other than Simón Bolívar, the revolutionary who secured independence for large swaths of South American from Spanish rule. If Bolívar could be persuaded to devote more years to Venezuelan advancement, Chávez would cement himself as a trailblazer in government, a reputation he would surely relish.

Qaddafi’s appointment is not the first instance of a dead person assuming a position in government, but by far the most senior, both in terms of the position involved and the prominence of the personality in question. A handful of American, British and Irish representatives have been elected posthumously, usually as a result of their deaths occurring too close to elections to remove them from the ballot. Qaddafi’s case, however, is unique, in that Chávez has specifically chosen him despite – or perhaps because of – the late Libyan’s moribund state.

Chávez’s allies are already praising the move as visionary, and suggest that the President is paving the way to his continued leadership of the republic even if he dies during office. Chávez’s recurring, malignant cancer would then cease to pose such a problem, and Venezuela could continue to stride forward with Chávez at the helm for as long as necessary.

“It’s more revolutionary than most people even realize,” said an excited Miguel Carras, 28, a Chàvez supporter from Caracas. “We call our Lord Jesus Christ our king, but even He had to come back to life a few days after being crucified. Our beloved President has such vision he won’t even need to undergo resurrection to continue demonstrating his leadership.”

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January 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Painting to Hang; Says It Was Framed

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Saint PeterRome, Italy (AP) – In a case of art imitating life without parole, a Caravaggio painting that fell off a museum wall and killed a visitor has been sentenced to hang, more or less in the same place it had been hanging all along. The painting insists it has been framed.

An attorney for the chiaroscuro masterpiece The Crucifixion of Saint Peter, which was created in 1601, brushed aside accusations that his client had deliberately inflicted damage on the victim’s skull, calling the charges “off the wall.” He said the case casts a dark shadow on the judicial system, and has promised to canvass his peers and agitate for reforms.

Prosecutors say to color them unimpressed. “All the protestation of innocence are (re)touching, but this is basically a black-and-white issue,” said a spokesman for the Italian State Attorney’s office. “The defendant strikes the pose of the innocent victim, but anyone without a foreshortened perspective can see easel-y that under that thin Vermeer of a model citizen lies a far darker portrait,” he remarked, adding that the victim’s mannerisms may have provoked the act.

The painting’s attorney posited that some evidence against his client had been forged, and conceded that doing so convincingly would require a stroke of genius. He called the prospect of convincing a gallery of jurors of that point un-palette-able. “It conjures up shades of the unsavory,” he said. “And the system is not Baroque, but we nevertheless must fix it.”

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January 9, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Obama Gleefully Awaits Senate Rejection of Schadenfreude Secretary Appointment

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schadenfreudeWashington DC (AP) – President Obama named Republican Mitt Romney to head the Department of Schadenfreude today, and fully expects the Senate to reject the move. The appointment marks the latest in a series of embarrassments for the defeated presidential candidate, episodes in which the reelected chief executive apparently takes pleasure.

Outgoing Schadenfreude Secretary Paris Hilton will stay on until an appropriate replacement can be found. The Democrat-controlled Senate, which must approve all Presidential appointments, is extremely unlikely to allow Romney to gain validation of any sort, which , according to analysts, is exactly the point.

“The President has been reveling in kicking Romney in the teeth since right after the first debate,” said David Axelrod, an Obama adviser and confidante. “And he instinctively senses that the American people in general feel the same way – that no amount of shame heaped upon that entitled, out-of-touch, sexist, mercurial, pandering plutocrat is too much shame.”

The Department of Schadenfreude administers the joy Americans feel at the misfortune of others. Its main efforts are focused on ensuring that news items about public figures or celebrities caught in unsavory or illegal acts garner the media attention they deserve, guaranteeing an adequate supply of schadenfreude for American consumers. Its most successful initiative by far has been the creation of reality TV, which both creates and feeds demand for clips of celebrities engaging in activities or making statements that would humiliate Americans with an actual brain or conscience.

Bush vomitAxelrod noted that the department could continue to function without a formally appointed secretary, as it did for years under Reagan and Bush, but at the time the sitting President provided enough schadenfreude on his own. Reagan, memorably, testified before a Congressional committee that he did not know what his own foreign policy was, and Bush vomited all over the Japanese Prime Minister and expressed astonishment at everyday supermarket technology encountered by normal people who know what it means to do an honest day’s work and maintain a household without teams of paid servants. Obama, however, exhibits notable self-control and had an unprivileged upbringing, factors that severely limit the intensity of schadenfreude that he can personally generate, except among certain Tea Party voters. Those voters account for an increasingly less significant portion of the American schadenfreude audience, according to census data.

Secretary Hilton’s stint as Secretary of Schadenfreude has been called a letdown by some critics, most of whom cite Hilton’s rise to schadenfreude prominence as an auspicious beginning to what could have been a storied career of public relations train wrecks for the heiress, but turned out to be a one-hit wonder – though that hit still draws occasional attention among a select audience. Columnist Liz Smith observed as much after Hilton’s appointment four years ago, saying that the American public had already reached the point beyond which empathy and mere prurient interest far outpaced the thrill people feel when the hotel chain heiress’s recorded escapades are mentioned.

Other names that have been floated among Obama advisers for the position also include Mel Gibson, Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Prince Andrew Windsor.

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Written by Thag

January 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Some Celebrity or Other Star Arrested, Charged

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hello tagLos Angeles, CA/New York NY (News Agency) – A past-his-or-her-prime director/actor/actress/musician was arrested yesterday in the Los Angeles/New York area for driving over the speed limit/domestic violence/DWI/drug possession. His/her publicist/agent/attorney maintained his/her innocence and lambasted the media for the excessive, salacious coverage.

The former big-time star of stage and/or screen, known for his/her work on a hit song/production/film/show, has had brushes with the law before, notably when he/she was arrested on charges of shoplifting/soliciting a prostitute/prostitution in a previous year. The celebrity underwent rehabilitation/did community service and made a brief comeback.

Once a staple of celebrity magazine coverage, the fading star now finds himself/herself more often mentioned in publications such as The National Enquirer and as an element of twentysomethings’ informal trivia sessions among friends. The celebrity is best known for his/her Grammy/Emmy/Daytime Emmy/Oscar/Golden Globe/Tony Award winning performance/song/film/Broadway show, but also won a measure of fame for other work in music/Hollywood/television/theater productions.

The celebrity was discovered by famed/legendary producer/director/talent scout/casting director X, who saw/heard him/her in an amateur production of show/video/song/play and quickly signed him/her for a role in a movie/in a music video/in a stage production/as a backup singer, which gave the celebrity exposure and led to larger, more prominent roles/singing engagements.

Al BundyHe/she dated a notable athlete/actor/actress/musician/model until the latter admitted an affair with a different celebrity. This was followed by a relationship with a notable athlete/actor/actress/musician/model, which resulted in marriage that lasted several months. The two had met on the set of [production name].

The star’s biggest hit earned him/her millions and cemented his/her place among the red carpet names that year. He/she followed up with a strong performance/appearance in a subsequent movie/video/song/show, but eventually faded and succumbed to substance abuse and/or violence and dysfunctional relationships. He/she attempted suicide last year after overdosing on heroin/crack/meth/alcohol.

His/her press agent/publicist/attorney blamed media attention for his/her client’s sad situation.

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Written by Thag

January 7, 2013 at 8:19 am

Guy Doctors Tout ‘Walk It Off’ Injury Treatment

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walk it offAtlanta, GA (AP) – The Centers for Disease Control have released a new study buy guy physicians promoting a minimalist approach to the treatment of wounds, called “Walk It Off.”

The research, which began as an examination of sports-related injuries in May 2010, soon expanded to cover a guy-inspired approach to myriad health care issues. It looked at approximately ten thousand cases of guys in pain, and for each one, determined that urging the patient to walk it off, grin and bear it, suck it up, or similar non-invasive measures, proved most effective.

Conversely, forcing the patient to submit to the emasculating experience of placing one’s welfare in the hands of a “med-school weenie,” as the report called them, invariably results in a loss of manhood from which few recover.

As a result, the CDC will introduce a set of “Play Through Pain” procedures for the treatment of injuries suffered in the course of athletic activity, in the course of manly jobs such as construction, or in the course of standing around watching such activities. The study did no look at the effects of such a course of treatment on women, but it did note an increase in pain reported by patients when a woman touched the affected area, even when, just moments before, the patient admitted no discomfort in response to being whacked in the injured area repeatedly by teammates, coworkers or opponents.

The US military has already expressed interest in a planned follow-up study, as injured soldiers account for a hefty percentage of military medical training and treatment.

channel surfingRepublicans in Congress have welcomed the study, as it may allow them some ammunition in pushing for reduced government coverage of medical expenses under the health care package signed into law during the last legislative session. In the same vein, the Republican National Committee is set to announce tomorrow that it has commissioned a related study to measure the therapeutic effects of channel surfing, the health care savings implications of which are vast.

Little League coaches have hailed the results of the CDC study, saying that it validates what they have long advocated. “Man up, is what we say,” according to Sid Marcus, a Baltimore-area coach of middle school softball and football teams. “You don’t need anything more than maybe an ice pack if it’s really bad, but stop being such a wuss. You think Cal Ripken didn’t feel hurt every once in a while? Lou Gherig? No pain, no gain!”

The CDC also announced that it will study the beneficial effects of administering locker-room wedgies and snapping the underwear waistbands of puny students.

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Written by Thag

January 7, 2013 at 1:24 am

Jesus At Second Coming: ‘What Are All These Goyim Doing Here?’

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GoyimJerusalem, Israel (AP) – Jesus of Nazareth, proclaimed the King Messiah by his followers and a spiritual guide to nearly two billion people, after returning as promised, expressed dismay this week at the nearly absolute non-Jewishness of those who venerate him.

“You…you’re all goyim,” he said, using the Hebrew word for “the nations,” referring to those who do not follow the Jewish faith. “What does any of this have to do with you? What business of this is yours? Oy gevalt, what have you people been doing the last two thousand years?” he said to a number of apostles, who shrank from Jesus in obvious shame. “Who’s the putzhead who got the brilliant idea to take this thing and turn it into a sheygetz convention?” he yelled, using a derogatory Yiddish word for gentile.

The son of God glared at a fig tree and caused it to wither. “Are you people meshuggeh?” he continued in growing rage. “I need all these shkotzim like I need more holes in my hands and feet!” he fumed. “Such a shanda for the…those other people.”

But matters only got worse when Jesus discovered that he has been worshiped in ways that the Bible specifically calls abominations, such as being depicted in graven images. Beholding the statues, paintings and sculptures that account for much of medieval and renaissance art, he flew into a fury, lashing into his followers with fierce invective.

“What schmuck thought it would be OK to completely disregard explicit prohibitions, I’d like to know,” Christ was heard to whisper menacingly. His gaze caused the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to peel and several Raphael classics to turn to dust. “The tuchus-for-brains who think it’s just fine to ignore ‘A graven image or molten statue you shall not make’ has got another think coming,” he added, his tone rising.

“It takes a special sort of shmendrick not to realize that it all comes down to money and power,” continued Jesus in crescendo. “I devote my earthly life to fighting against the abuses of wealth and power all around me, and my self-proclaimed representatives on Earth devote themselves to amassing assets and endorsing politicians whose idea of public service makes Pontius Pilate look like a veritable zieskind!” shouted Christ, calling the man who ordered his execution a sweetheart by comparison. A 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck Rome.

"...and that twisted loaf seems fishy."

“…and that twisted loaf seems fishy.”

The level of Christ’s anger increased even further when he discovered that the Roman Catholic Church had for decades protected abusive priests instead of caring for their victims, and that the same Church had shown only lukewarm opposition to systematic Nazi deportation and extermination of Jews and others during the Second World War. “I sacrifice myself for you, and you don’t even have the courage to maybe stick your little neck out a little from time to time. No, that’s all right, don’t mind me, I’ll just sit here and die for your sins. You go right ahead and keep tolerating evil.” A sinkhole appeared across Europe, taking with it most of Germany, Austria, Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania.

“This is what happens when you put a bunch of goyim in charge of a Jewish endeavor! I lay my life down for all of you and what do I have to show for it? Bupkis! Gornisht! I could plotz!” said Jesus, as flaming hailstones struck ornate, historic cathedrals in Turkey, France, New York and Britain, reducing them to rubble and incinerating the gold, jewels and priceless masterpieces contained within.

At press time, Pope Benedict XVI was planning a fundraising drive for reconstruction of Church properties damaged in the earthquake.

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Written by Thag

January 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Minnesota Fields Team of Actual Vikings; 12 Packers Dead

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Minnesota VikingsMinneapolis, MN (AP) – Expecting to encounter a tough opponent at the Metrodome, the Green Bay Packers were nevertheless shocked at their defeat by a vastly more overpowering squad Sunday, when, instead of facing the Minnesota Vikings football team, actual Norwegian Vikings took the field. The vaunted Packers offensive all but disappeared against their opponents’ two-handed axes, which are specifically designed to split enemies’ helmets. 12 Green Bay players were killed and a further 10 injured.

The final score of 6-0 for the Vikings did not reflect the lopsided dominance that the Vikings displayed in every aspect of the on-field activity Sunday. Green Bay lost its entire offensive line to injuries and death, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers survived only as a result of his speed and agility. Several dozen fans were also injured, and the cheerleading squads of both cities’ teams were carried off to locations unknown by the marauding Vikings. The low score resulted from the fact that the Vikings preferred to taunt the Packers with the ball instead of moving it downfield. The one Vikings touchdown, in the third quarter, appeared to occur by accident.

“They absolutely slaughtered us,” said Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. “There’s no other way to describe it.”

“We simply couldn’t execute today,” agreed Rodgers. “They were brutal on both offense and defense. We didn’t stand a chance.” He and McCarthy conceded they had not adequately prepared for the ferociousness of the Vikings, and that several large questions loomed over the rest of the season.

Chief among them is the offensive line, for which the team must find replacements. McCarthy sounded a rueful note at the loss of his vaunted players, but insisted he would go about his duties with the professionalism for which he was hired. “Things like this happen, and we can’t just shrink from facing them. Sports in general, and the game of football in particular, is all about facing adversity and giving it your all to overcome it.”

Another is the confidence of the remaining players, McCarthy’s sober optimism notwithstanding. “I don’t know if we as a team can handle that level of play,” said nose tackle B. J. Raji. “Those Vikings clearly brought their all today, but they were so nonchalant about it, like they were toying with us.” Raji suffered a severed left hand in the first quarter when he attempted an interception.

Other players complained of lopsided officiating, with two pass interference calls on the Packers and none on the Vikings, despite the alleged aggressiveness of the latter on defense. Referee Don Mitchum was taken out of action early in the second quarter with a dagger to the right shoulder.

35 Minnesota fans were injured in a stampede that followed a fourth-quarter play in which the Vikings “went berserk,” according to Lars Olssen, 45, of St. Paul. “As they ran out the clock, the Vikings stormed off the field and grabbed all the cheerleaders. I took my kids and ran,” he said.

Packers CEO and President Mark Murphy assured fans that the team would recover from the losses and contend again. But he conceded that the game did not go well for his team.

“It was a massacre,” he agreed.

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Written by Thag

January 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm

World Celebrates Being One Year Closer to Sun Exploding

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sunAs the world hurtled ever closer to the transformation of the sun into a red giant that will extinguish all life on Earth with its intense heat, people celebrated the milestone with fireworks, parties, midnight kisses and song. Light shows and music punctuated the festivities, marking yet another year in the world’s inexorable path toward the agonizing, painful death of humanity and all other creatures.

The sun, a small-to-medium-sized star, is about halfway through its projected ten-billion-year life span. Unlike its much larger counterparts, it consumes its nuclear fuel at a moderate pace, making its demise less dramatic than the supernovae that destroy larger stars and have contributed to the distribution of the materials necessary for life throughout the universe. When the sun exhausts its supply of hydrogen and begins using only helium and carbon to form heavier elements through nuclear fusion, it will swell significantly, consuming the inner planets, including Earth, in the process. Liquid water will cease to exist on the planet, and with it, anything that metabolizes.

The sun itself, instead of seeding other parts of the galaxy with heavier elements necessary for life, as larger stars do in death, will gradually fade into a white dwarf and cease to contribute anything more than a bit of gravity to physical reality. According to astrophysicists, this pattern can already be seen in the futile attempts of earthlings to assign meaning to an arbitrary date; earthlings who do so are likely to lead such empty lives that their demise will be little noted beyond their small, insignificant circles of equally pathetic relatives and Facebook “friends.”

In keeping with the pathetic nature of the phenomenon, says astrophysicist Lou Zerr of Arizona State University, “the sun’s next phase can’t even be considered a proper explosion. It will expand in size but lose density, and over time, the outer layers of the red giant will simply ‘blow away’ into the cosmos.”

“If the sun were a star of major galactic significance, with a heck of a lot more mass and a higher temperature and fusion rate, we might expect a supernova,” he said, “and if there were another star around after the sun becomes a white dwarf, maybe, just maybe, there might be a nova somewhere on the horizon,” he continued, referring to a type of stellar activity unlikely to occur in a star as mediocre as the sun.

pathetic“The universe operates according to consistent rules,” observed Zerr, one of which apparently, is that the stellar mediocrity of the sun also finds expression in the utterly non-noteworthy existence of the sentient creatures celebrating its approaching death, and thus, their own.

It is more likely, however, according to Zerr, that the completely unremarkable humans engaged in such pointless activity will cease to exist long before the sun becomes a red giant, though their own sad adherence to practices associated with climate change and pollution. Those phenomena are likely to lead to the demise of humanity and any number of other Earth-bound life forms eons before the sun snuffs out the rest.

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Written by Thag

January 1, 2013 at 10:22 pm