Archive | November, 2013

Secret Details of the Iranian Nuclear Treaty

26 Nov

What the Mullahs and the P5+1 don’t want you to know.

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After decades of deadlock and distrust, the country of Iran has signed an international agreement to limit its nuclear program in exchange for lightened economic sanctions. Fearing it’s just a sinister plot by hardline Islamists to drive up the price of oil, the Maximum Know-How team dug into the shocking political trade-offs hidden in the fine print.

Twelve Surprising Requirements of the Iranian Treaty

  1. Iran will finally get its own version of American Idol.
  2. It turns out that several popular revolutionary slogans and terms like “The Great Satan” are registered trademarks of the U.S. State Department, and Iran must henceforth pay licensing fees for their use in government-approved propaganda, religious tracts, candidate marketing, t-shirts, etc.
  3. For the next 10 years, the global press has to blame someone besides Iran for political instability in the Middle East. Someone like… Belgium.
  4. Hezbollah may continue representing itself as a social services charity, but must clearly indicate—on packaging, collateral, advertising, televised messages, press releases, websites, office premises, funeral placards, etc.—a sort of “Surgeon General’s Warning” along the lines of “Hezbollah seeks the obliteration of Israel, the destruction of the United States, and the spiteful murder of anyone who disagrees with us.”
  5. The Korean cultural attaché must guarantee free Iranian access to the latest releases by PSY, Girls’ Generation, and other global K-Pop acts.
  6. Iranian leaders don’t have to touch female foreign diplomats during state visits.
  7. The Iranian president is still allowed to use the future perfect verb tense when referring to Israel (“When the hated Zionists will have succumbed to us in World Cup qualifying…”).
  8. Iranian political leaders must pass an accredited Religious Tolerance 101 class and all other world leaders must pass a history class about the Western Crusades into the Middle East. Just so everyone has some perspective.
  9. The Iranian government must subsidize its own domestic women’s organizations, such as the Society of Women Against Twerking (SWAT), Excitable Revelers for the Ayatollah (ERA), and the Ladies’ Extremely Trustworthy Middle Eastern Division of Religious Independence and Vehicular Equality (LETMEDRIVE).
  10. International trade regulations must be modified to help Iranian manufacturers enter the global market (for program specifics, contact the Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology or the Persian Camel-Hair Carpet Weavers Local 409).
  11. President Rouhani must ask permission prior to nuking neighboring countries (yeah, you know who we’re talking about). Plus, Iraq and Afghanistan are totally off limits until world opinion no longer holds America responsible for what happens there.
  12. The most impoverished class of citizens in Tehran must register with the healthcare exchange before March 31, 2014, or face severe fines.
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Song of the Week: “The Curse” – Agnes Obel

25 Nov

The lead single off Aventine, the second album by Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel, is a spare, striking piece of work—especially in the live version embedded below. Her first album was released only in Europe, I think, but went platinum in multiple countries. Now both of her albums are available electronically stateside and, last I checked, this single was available for free from the Amazon MP3 store.

Song of the Week: “A Poem for Byzantium” – Delerium

19 Nov

After recording many albums with FLA bandmate Bill Leeb, Rhys Fulber took a break from Delerium following the commercial success of Semantic Spaces and Karma (particularly the 1997 track “Silence” sung by Sarah McLachlan) to work on solo projects, including Conjure One. In his absence, Leeb worked with producer Chris Peterson on the Poem album, which included this marvelous track, with lyrics and vocals by Joanna Stevens (of Solar Twins, Sleepthief). Is it about a lover moving on with her life after a difficult relationship, or about a Byzantine citizen fleeing a Turkish invasion? I won’t say. It’s a great listen, though.

Song of the Week: “Heroes and Villains” – Beach Boys

13 Nov

Originally recorded for the Smile album, and eventually released on Smiley Smile and as a single, “Heroes and Villains” was one of my favorite Beach Boys tunes. The layer upon layer of vocals, sounds, and instrumentation that also feature on “Surf’s Up” and “Good Vibrations” were just magic to my childhood self, and I listened to the vinyl Good Vibrations greatest hits album regularly because of them. Nowadays, reading about what a prolonged, torturous experience it was for Brian Wilson and the band to produce these songs tempers the joy some, but they’re all still excellent. I should note that I prefer the version without the “cantina” and “bicycle rider” segments.

Appalling Theme Park Ideas

12 Nov

Books that should NOT be turned into family fun parks.

Welcome to Where's Waldo World! Toddlers this way...

When I learned about the potential of a Hunger Games theme park (“Bring your whole family to a magical place where you can slaughter children for entertainment!”), my mind naturally jumped to other tasteless literary theme park adaptations the world should definitely avoid.

Heart of Darkness Jungle Trek: Survive tropical diseases, deadly animals, killer natives, and mad cohorts long enough to capture or kill a power-drunk megalomaniac before he dismembers your family and sells your bones as branded tchotchkes at the gift shop.

Fahrenheit 451 Farms: Enjoy some book-burning good times with literary bonfires, random deadly attacks by robot dogs, and speedy overdose resuscitation. You can’t leave the venue until you memorize a novel of your choosing.

Where’s Waldo World: Separated families must locate all their members from among thousands of similarly dressed strangers. (Note: This park is not unlike Disneyland.)

Holyland: A Bible Adventure: Survive a fiery furnace, sell your sibling to nomads, build a raft in the wave pool before the cataclysmic flood is released (every 30 minutes), and demonstrate your bravery and stone-slinging skills against a giant homicidal sociopath in heavy armor.

Arrow to the Sun Adventure Park: Learn about the rich culture of the ancient Pueblo Indians, get shot into the sky on the Arrow Ride, then battle lions, snakes, bees, and electrocution on an artificial sun.

Dune Safari: Go on an exciting spice hunt while under a heavy Harkonnen laser barrage, wear stillsuits during 120-degree desert jogs as you flee giant attacking Worms with razor-sharp teeth, and invite the entire family to try the “humanity test” with a genuine replica black box and gom jabbar.

Tom Clancy Land: Celebrate the magic of the Cold War and America’s military-industrial complex by experiencing a nuclear reactor accident during an undersea submarine battle, enduring the Ebola adventure, and taking a ride in the Rapid Decompression chamber. And don’t forget to suit up for a raid against paramilitary narcotics traffickers in a Colombian jungle!

And of course, there’s always Maze Runner World, but that practically goes without saying. What are some other truly awful ideas?

Song of the Week: “Mr. Taxi” – Girls’ Generation

4 Nov

In a sign of the increasing international influence on pop music, Korean girl group Girls’ Generation just won the inaugural YouTube video award for video of the year, beating out western pop divas like Lady Gaga, Miley, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber. While the hyper-sugary “I Got a Boy” song and video make my teeth ache more than a Halloween Tootsie Roll, I wanted to give a shout out to one of their earlier hits that I think is one of the best dance-pop songs ever.  Let me just say that, if you have trouble turning away from the video or find yourself singing “mr taxi taxi taxi soutou jeukshi jeukshi jeukshi” for the rest of day, it’s OKAY. We understand.