Saturday, February 26, 2011

international security threat levels

Below is a compendium of security threat levels from various countries. Although RB received a forwarded email attributing this to John Cleese, a careful scholarly inquiry (i.e., searched "clesse terrortist therat" before Google automatically corrected for misspellings, but RB did not use Wikipedia), indicates that John Humberstone seems to be the primary original author, with useful additions provided by various reader comments.

Here are the threat levels with minor editing:

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance."

The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

Canada has also raised its threat level from "No problem, eh?" to "That's not nice and please stop." They may still raise the level further to "Apologize to terrorists we offended by asking them to stop." Of course the top level is painting signs on rooftops with arrows pointing south saying "U.S. THAT WAY."

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

Friday, February 4, 2011

testing communist cars

In this morning's introductory economics class we discussed the practical, inherent problems with centrally planned socialist economies -- like the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the bad old days before the Berlin Wall fell.

A colleague told me about the following video and now I'm having my students watch it. It is from the British TV show Top Gear. I do find it a bit ironic that these two smart-alecks make fun of Communist cars, given that the Brits during the 1960's made some of the free world's worst cars. You probably have never heard of most of the British car models mentioned. They were all bad, very bad, and these guys know it; their viewers know it. However, that is part of the humor. So this clip could be titled "Best of Communism v. the Free World's Worst."

(Vocab lesson: biro is a British term for a ball-point pen.) BTW, my favorite part is the drag race.