I find politics absolutely absurd in this day and age. Part of it is the mouth-frothing vehemence that people exhibit when holding to their views (or, rather, the views their party tells them they should have). Another part of it is due to what we choose to get up in arms about. The fact that a discussion about gay rights, free speech, and the rights of corporations did not take place at a town hall meeting or on “Meet the Press” but rather revolved around a chicken sandwich tells me all I need to know about the modern state of American political discourse.
But I understand. With predator drones now allowed to spy on American citizens and the constant renewal of the Patriot Act, it’s much easier to purchase or not purchase fast food than to, I don’t know, write your Congressman.
If I thought our government was evil and intelligent (rather than just clueless and incompetent), I’d cry conspiracy theory and say this is all done on purpose, that it’s one elaborate misdirection while the Criss Angel of Washington pulls yet another trick on us. Of course, I’m too busy watching “Breaking Bad” to actually make that statement, but still…
But I’m not here to be an asshole (well, at least not completely). Nor am I here to offer a better way. Instead, I’m going to point out some truly massive stupid shit involving our government that you may have never heard of. After all, we have a long history of oddities.
In the pantheon of stupid US trivia, it’s probably fitting to start with the father of our country.
9. GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS A POT HEAD
That’s right. The first President of the United States was a marijuana farmer.
While high teenagers trot out this fact with the usual regurgitated BS (“Like, bro, how do I know that your color blue is the same as my color blue”), it is completely true. He not only grew pot, but heavily advocated its use, not only as a soil stabilizer but also as a way to just get high. Washington often said that marijuana, not tobacco, should have been America’s primary cash crop.
8. THE CREATION OF SPY CAT
The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States has worked hard and tirelessly to waste our money on really stupid shit. There was Project Stargate, which tested the feasibility of using psychics to spy on the Soviets. Then there was MK-ULTRA, where they dosed people with high levels of LSD in mind-control experiments. But one of my favorite wastes is, hands down, Spy Cat.
The CIA spent over $20 million in the 1960’s on Project Acoustic Kitty. The idea was that cats are everywhere – in alleys, in homes, in the street outside of the Kremlin – and were largely ignored by intelligence officers that were not cartoon characters.
Given these facts, why not wire them to be used as recording devices?
You might think all of that LSD experimentation had gone awry but, regardless, Operation Acoustic Kitty (which, by the way, was its real name) went forward with great enthusiasm. The agents behind this assininery slit their test cat open, inserted batteries and wires into him (including one threaded along his tail to be used as an antenna) and sewed him up. The first problem they ecnountered with their new cyborg was that, when the cat got hungry, it would walk off the job and go kill things.
Once they got around that problem, they decided to delpoy Spy Cat on its first mission. They released him across the street from the Soviet Embassy in DC, where he promptly got run over by a taxi while crossing the street.
The entire Operation was immediately disbanded.
Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen.
7. DEATH FROM ABOVE
You can blame this one on renowned psychologist B.F. Skinner. In WWII, Skinner came up with a brilliant (re: stupid) idea. Why didn’t we take all those pigeons crapping on statues of our Founding Fathers and get them to pilot bombs?
Skinner, using a series of rewards and punishments in their training, shoved pigeons inside of missles and had them pilot the things by pecking at an image of their intended target on-screen.
As stupid as this idea was, it kind of worked. While it was never used in combat, Project Pigeon recorded several successful tests before being scrapped in favor of electronic guidance systems.
In the late nineties, this digusting monstrosity took the nation by storm:
The Furby was a battery operated toy that in no way infringed upon the copyright for Gizmo from “Gremlins.”
The Furby was supposed to be able to learn language by listening to you. What a cute idea for a toy, you might say.
The NSA didn’t think so.
The National Security Agency of the United States became very afraid that the Furbies might be taken home and given to the children of its agents. It then might overhear top secret data being discussed and, because the toys were notorious chatterboxes, might then repeat that information, maybe even to a Russian agent. So they officially banned the Furby. Owning one was grounds for immediate dismissal and possible jail time.
Of course, the Furby didn’t actually learn language. It was already programmed with a number of phrases that it would slowly begin to say in an effort to appear as though they learned so your idiot kid would continue to interact with it in lieu of real friends. And the NSA, being such a bright and well organized intelligence gathering agency, never picked up on this fact.
They are, of course, running most of our anti-terrorism intelligence activities these days.
5. THE PIG WAR
In the 1850’s, a third war with Britain almost erupted. It’s cause?
When a pig wandered across what is today the US / Canadian border and rooted around repeatedly in a farmer’s potato crop, the farmer promptly shot the pig. He offered the pig’s owner some money to compensate for the pig’s loss but the owner, who was pretty ticked off, refused the money and did what any sane man would do.
He escalated it to the military.
The US and British armies mobilized quickly and stared each other down from across the battle lines. This tense situation lasted for days while Generals commanded them to fight. The commanding officers under them, however, realized how stupid it would be to fight a war over a pig. Both nations were tense, neither ready or willing to fight another war with one another, and, eventually, the situation died down without a single casualty.
After a treaty was reached, both sides celebrated with BLT’s.
4. THE MILK RAID
Whatever your thoughts or feelings about organic foods or raw milk, the fact that the LA Swat team had to rush into a raw food store in Venice, CA in full riot gear to stop these hardened criminals from selling cheese and yogurt is pretty absurd. What’s even more absurd is that this raid was the culmination of a year long sting operation. I guess this mean that the LAPD has cleaned up all of the drugs, gang warfare, and human trafficking problems in the area.
No, of course they haven’t. Instead (and let me get on a spaobox for a moment) they are afraid of confronting real crime. You heard me, LAPD. You’re a bunch of cowards who would rather destroy a hippy’s food co-op than do anything to make our city a better place. You’re a disgrace to real police everywhere.
Well, no use crying over spilled milk.
3. BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER MICROSOFT
You remember that oh-so-controversial Federal stimulus package? Well, what would you say if I told you that $11 million was spent by the US Government to build a bridge between two of Microsoft’s campuses?
Yep, that’s right. That large sum of your taxpayer dollars went to build an unecessary bridge between two campuses of one of the most profitable companies in the world.
Think of that next time the debate over tax reform surfaces.
2. KILLING CASTRO
Our friends at the CIA have made the list again. Maybe the acronym stands for “Center for Idiotic Absurdities.”
This plan comes from the same people that brought you “The Bay of Pigs Invasion.”
We had a massive hard-on for wasting Castro in the sixties. You’d think this guy had banged Marilyn before JFK had a chance to. We spent millions upon millions of dollars developing hundreds of plans and gadgets to either off or discredit Castro. Lets look at some of the finest:
-Poison air conditioning
-Growing poison fungus in his underwear
-Putting thallium salt in his shoes in hopes that his beard would fall out
-Placing an exploding mollusk in the water in hopes that he would pick it up
-Filling Castro’s diving suit with flesh-eating bacteria
They should have just built an exploding cat and sent it after him.
1. THE NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE
In respone to a deluge of letters after the airing of a fake-Animal Planet show about mermaids, the National Ocean Service actually had to take the time out of its day to their website stating that mermaids do not exist.
While this is absurd, I don’t know if this says more about the government or about us.
Regardless, the website is obviously part of a consipracy. Just like UFO’s, the government’s denial proves that mermaids are real.
Well, we can dream, anyway.
Brad C. Hodson is a writer living in Los Angeles. His new novel, DARLING, is available from Bad Moon Books. Check out the Bibliography page to see where you can read his short fiction or watch some films he’s written.