Excerpt from a BBS

Forwarded from a friend, an Air Force transport pilot responds to a kid who wants to know how to become a fighter pilot.

I really enjoy this kind of grumpy, cynical military humor. Not sure why.

Obviously, through no fault of your own, your young, impressionable brain has been poisoned by the superfluous, hyped-up, “Top Gun” media portrayal of fighter pilots.

Unfortunately, this portrayal could not be further from the truth. In my experience, I’ve found most fighter pilots pompous, back-stabbing, momma’s boys with inferiority complexes, as well as being extremely over-rated aeronautically. However, rather than dash your budding dreams of becoming a USAF pilot, I offer the following alternative:

What you REALLY want to aspire to is the exciting, challenging, and rewarding world of TACTICAL AIRLIFT. And this, young DJ, means one thing….the venerable, workhorse, THE C-130!

I can guarantee no fighter pilot can brag that he has led a 12-ship formation down a valley at 300 ft above the ground, while trying to interpret a 9-line to a new DZ, avoiding pop-up threats, and coordinating with AWACS, all while eating a box lunch, with the engineer in the back taking a piss and the navigator puking in his trash can! I tell you, DJ, TAC Airlift is where it’s at!

Where else is it legal to throw tanks, HMVees, and other crap out the back of an airplane, and not even worry about it when the chute doesn’t open and it torpedoes the General’s staff car! No where else can you land on a 3000′ dirt strip, kick a bunch of ammo and stuff off the ramp without even stopping, then take off again before range control can call to tell you you’ve landed on the wrong LZ!

The rest cut because unfunny and lame.

From Spy Magazine, 1992

I grabbed this from an online archive of the magazine. Spy was the Onion and the Daily Show of the 1980s and early 1990s. This was one of my favorite bits and I’m glad to see it again.

Women in Love: Spy’s Pocket Guide to the Best-sellers

Ivana Trump, Woman of Letters – In her novel, For Love Alone, Ivana Trump tells the story of Katrinka Graham, a plucky Czech skiert who emigrates to America and marries the rich and powerful Adam Graham. A roman à clef? No way – Katrinka is beautiful without benefit of plastic surgery, and Adam is not a bullying blowhard. Here’s how Ivana captures Katrinka’s thoughts at certain dramatic moments:

  • On skiing over the Czech border to freedom: “Ayiiiiii!”
  • When consoling a friend on her troublesome love life: “Ay yi yi.”
  • On meeting the long-lost son she gave up at birth: “Ay yi yi yi.”
  • When finally divorced from Adam: “Ay yi yi yi.”
  • On hearing her friend is deserting her husband: “Ay yi yi yi.”
  • When she is offered a rich chocolate dessert: “Ay yi yi yi.”

I repost this a couple of times a year.

Partly because it’s amusing, and partly because it sums up my feelings about impending doom of all kinds, from personal death to universal apocalypse. The topic of “we’re all screwed, and what’s to do?” has come up a lot lately. So here’s R.L. Stevenson, as quoted in Blyth’s Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics, once again.

THE SINKING SHIP

By Robert Louis Stevenson, from Fables II

“SIR,” said the first lieutenant, bursting into the Captain’s cabin, “the ship is going down.”

“Very well, Mr. Spoker,” said the Captain; “but that is no reason for going about half-shaved. Exercise your mind a moment, Mr. Spoker, and you will see that to the philosophic eye there is nothing new in our position: the ship (if she is to go down at all) may be said to have been going down since she was launched.”

“She is settling fast,” said the first lieutenant, as he returned from shaving.

“Fast, Mr. Spoker?” asked the Captain. “The expression is a strange one, for time (if you will think of it) is only relative.”

“Sir,” said the lieutenant, “I think it is scarcely worth while to embark in such a discussion when we shall all be in Davy Jones’s Locker in ten minutes.”

“By parity of reasoning,” returned the Captain gently, “it would never be worth while to begin any inquiry of importance; the odds are always overwhelming that we must die before we shall have brought it to an end. You have not considered, Mr. Spoker, the situation of man,” said the Captain, smiling, and shaking his head.

“I am much more engaged in considering the position of the ship,” said Mr. Spoker.

“Spoken like a good officer,” replied the Captain, laying his hand on the lieutenant’s shoulder.

On deck they found the men had broken into the spirit-room, and were fast getting drunk.

“My men,” said the Captain, “there is no sense in this. The ship is going down, you will tell me, in ten minutes: well, and what then? To the philosophic eye, there is nothing new in our position. All our lives long, we may have been about to break a blood-vessel or to be struck by lightning, not merely in ten minutes, but in ten seconds; and that has not prevented us from eating dinner, no, nor from putting money in the Savings Bank. I assure you, with my hand on my heart, I fail to comprehend your attitude.”

The men were already too far gone to pay much heed.

“This is a very painful sight, Mr. Spoker,” said the Captain.

“And yet to the philosophic eye, or whatever it is,” replied the first lieutenant, “they may be said to have been getting drunk since they came aboard.”

“I do not know if you always follow my thought, Mr. Spoker,” returned the Captain gently. “But let us proceed.”

In the powder magazine they found an old salt smoking his pipe.

“Good God,” cried the Captain, “what are you about?”

“Well, sir,” said the old salt, apologetically, “they told me as she were going down.”

“And suppose she were?” said the Captain. “To the philosophic eye, there would be nothing new in our position. Life, my old shipmate, life, at any moment and in any view, is as dangerous as a sinking ship; and yet it is man’s handsome fashion to carry umbrellas, to wear indiarubber over-shoes, to begin vast works, and to conduct himself in every way as if he might hope to be eternal. And for my own poor part I should despise the man who, even on board a sinking ship, should omit to take a pill or to wind up his watch. That, my friend, would not be the human attitude.”

“I beg pardon, sir,” said Mr. Spoker. “But what is precisely the difference between shaving in a sinking ship and smoking in a powder magazine?”

“Or doing anything at all in any conceivable circumstances?” cried the Captain. “Perfectly conclusive; give me a cigar!”

Two minutes afterwards the ship blew up with a glorious detonation.

THE FUTURE OF THE FUTURE!

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20050626-5041.html

The elderly Japanese people of the future will be so desperately lonely for companionship that they’ll purchase slightly creepy android replicas of the drug-addled but brilliant sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick. Why the Japanese, and why Phillip K. Dick? It’s a long story, and I’m not sure I fully understood it all when the android’s makers explained it to me. I think I probably read the wrong books growing up as a kid, or maybe I now watch the wrong TV shows.

Via Blog of a Bookslut.