Arch Stanton Guest Post: Kim Jong Il’s Titles, Ranked

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Everyone knows North Korea’s leaders (Kim Il-song, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un) have an array of special titles, but they have more than you’d think. Like, WAY more. Many are simple modifiers on a title, whether normal or imagined. North Korean media is required to use one of these when addressing their leader in a publication, and is encouraged (read: also required) to bold their name or use a larger font. I wanted to rank them because I love ranking things, and because it’s important to know what to call our benevolent overlord after the impending war caused by our saber-rattling septuagenarian. Just kidding! We’ll all be swallowed whole in a nuclear hellfire before that! Let’s get to it already.

Amazing Politician: At first blush, you’d think this was an honor, but stop and think about it for a minute – an amazing politician is someone who is dishonest and manages to shoehorn their way into every topic regardless of their stance and is all-around terrible. This is basically saying, “you have a lot in common with Ted Cruz”. Fuck no.

Superior Person: What? It seems very half-assed. North Korea, I expect better from you… said no one ever.

Savior: I like my cult leader titles to be a little less on the nose.

Leader

Unique Leader

Great Leader

Peerless Leader

Respected Leader

Dear Leader

Wise Leader

Brilliant Leader

Supreme Leader of the Nation

Beloved and Respected Leader: Why are there so many modifiers for ‘leader’? it’s a very modest title, but if we’re going to use it, I will take two compliments rather than just one.

Fate of the Nation: Sounds like a lot of pressure. No thanks.

Commander-in-Chief: America let a fat idiot who is scared of stairs (http://thehill.com/homenews/media/325280-cnn-reporter-is-trump-afraid-of-stairs) use this term. No thanks.

Sun of the Communist Future: Here is the part of the list consisting of heavy-handed endorsements of communism which, hard pass.

Leader of the Party, the Country and the Army

Great Leader of our Party and of our Nation

Sun of Socialism

Leader of the Party and the People

Eternal General Secretary of the Party

Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradeship: If we’re going to embrace the communist monikers, let’s REALLY commit to it at least.

Great Man, Who is a Man of Deeds: I mean – what? He does deeds? Are they dirty deeds? Are they done dirt cheap? If any outlet uses this title, someone’s getting sent to a prison camp because this is a total cop-out. “Kim Jong-un, he does things” – get the fuck outta here.

Shining Star of Paektu Mountain: I don’t know what Paektu Mountain is, but I have a hunch it’s fake.

Bright Sun of Juche: Also fake.

Bright Sun of Pudank: Definitely fake.

Dear Father: Sounds like a weird Nicholas Sparks fan-fiction.

Beloved Father

Father of the Nation

Father of the People

Guarantee of the Fatherland’s Unification: I hate the use of “guarantee” as a noun. I base this opinion on absolutely nothing of substance or verifiable reason.

Symbol of the Fatherland’s Unification

General: Needs more gusto.

Great General: Better.

Beloved and Respected General: THERE it is.

Great Marshall: Bland.

Great Defender: Leaves a lot to the imagination. Thanks for defending us from… freedom of speech? Democracy? Food that isn’t dirt?

Leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces: “Revolution” is such a gaudy term. It suggests being a part of the proletariat at one point in the past. Not us, we are sophisticated people of good breeding and can have no such stink on us.

Mastermind of the Revolution: You can call Kim Jong-un the mastermind of a revolution that happened twenty-four or twenty-five years before he was born, because that makes total sense. Also I just learned that no one knows his actually birthday – he is either 34 or 35, and there is a lot of debate on this. You learned something today!

His Excellency: Solid, but infringes heavily on the Pope, who’s got his own shit going on right now. I’m about cultivating positive PR, and we don’t need to get the stink of the Catholic Church all over us.

Sun of the Nation: Eh.

Great Sun of the Nation: Oh fuck yeah, much better.

Great Man, Who Descended from Heaven: Feels kind of blasphemous doesn’t it? I can dig it.

Glorious General, Who Descended from Heaven: ACTUALLY blasphemous.

The Great Sun of Life: In a sea of vastly over dramatic claims, “Sun of Life” is TOO much.

Leader of the 21st Century: Feels ho-hum, does it not?

Bright Sun of the 21st Century: You’re just describing the sun – no shit it’s bright, that’s literally what a sun is.

Great Sun of the 21st Century: ‘Great Sun’ I can definitely work with though.

World Leader of the 21st Century: There we go. I am all about being the apex of a new world order.

Guiding Star of the 21st Century: NOOOOOPE quasi-deified leader is much better.

Guiding Sun Ray: Got a real cult vibe to it, which fits in my life goal of having my own cult. Don’t worry, you’ll all get an invitation.

Invincible and Triumphant General: ‘Invincible’ is such an incredibly ballsy modifier. Do you think people roll their eyes (figuratively, lest they have them literally plucked from their skull) when they hear that? Like… we all know he definitely isn’t invincible, but we all have to pretend anyway. Everyone called his dad invincible, and then he just… left? Went to a farm upstate? He died! He definitely wasn’t invincible! Plus, triumphant is fantastic too – this five foot five inch chubby internet troll has only been triumphant against his generals when he makes them play Warcraft with him.

Ever-Victorious, Iron-Willed Commander: ‘Ever-victorious’, like North Korea has ever won a war. ‘Iron-Willed’ is great though. Credit where it’s due.

Party Centre: This is what I like to think people say about me when I show up at the bar.

Dear Leader, Who is a Perfect Incarnation of the Appearance that a Deader Should Have: I will not attempt to mask my tremendous vanity. Please refer to me as “Dear Leader, who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have Arch Stanton” going forward. I will not respond to anything else.

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Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 20 of Today I Learned – Michael Malloy

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I attended grad school about an hour away from my undergraduate college at the same time my brother was finishing his undergrad degree there. One Alumni Weekend, a friend flew in and encouraged me to make the drive to see each as we no longer lived across the street from each other. I drove in Friday after class, looking for a casual night as I was to play third base in an all-day softball tournament the next day, only to learn my friend’s arrival had been delayed, and she was going to be in town much later than originally intended. As two idiots in their early twenties are wont to do, my brother and I hit the bars. Our drink of choice was a “trashcan” – essentially a Long Island Iced Tea with a can of Red Bull shoved in the top. As two idiots in their early twenties, we were incomprehensibly shitfaced almost immediately, which did nothing to deter us from selecting something less volatile. After spending roughly a hundred bucks on these drinks in a bar where a $40 bar tab was a wild aberration, you could say I was inebriated.

Given the alcohol and the Red Bull, the rest of the night is spotty, a night deserving of the concept of ‘browning out’ – never quite blacking out, but retaining no clear memories. After stiff arming my late-arriving friend on the way out of the bar, the rest of the night consisted of an Impressionist-painting of fleeting recollections, with the only clear memory I have being of me laying on a couch at 6 sharply aware of how fucked I was for my 8 am alarm.

My alarm rings. In that instance between “asleep” and “conscious”, my mind panics and expects a catastrophic hangover. But no! I open my eyes, and feel positively delightful! I grab a bagel, hop in my car and drive straight to another bar (gotta pregame for the softball tournament, obviously!). I walk in, and one of my teammates immediately remarks “you are so drunk right now”. Well, that explains the lack of a hangover. Our tournament goes off without a hitch, assuming drinking a bar out of Bud Lights throughout five games is “without a hitch”. I play third base during the third or fourth game with my glove on my left hand, and a beer in my right; despite my inebriation, there was no one else on our team who could throw a ball from third base to first base – grad school does not attract the finest athletes. I drink all day, and all night, and go to a bar Sunday afternoon to keep drinking – it is football season after all. After twelve hours drinking on Sunday, we go to a strip club to round out what was certainly the drunkest I have ever been in my life.

I don’t tell this story to brag (it should be more of a warning if anything). I tell this story because I look back astonished I could drink that much, and then realize this bender was only a fraction of what Michael Malloy experienced, the drunkest human to ever live.

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Michael Malloy was a coffin-polisher (I’m sure you could rustle up an internship on Indeed if this career path sounds promising) during the Prohibition. Malloy was a great worker, not because he was talented, but because he was paid solely in booze. Not only did he consume his liquid paycheck, he had also had a running tab at his dear friend Tony Marino’s speakeasy. Tony Marino, what a great pal for letting Malloy run a tab while everyone else had to pay for their drinks as they went along! Good ol’ Tony!

Turns out, Tony was deeply in debt and had devised a clever ruse to get himself out of it: he took out a life insurance policy on his drunk friend Malloy, and would let him die of alcohol poisoning in order to collect the pay out. Did I say Tony was a friend? I meant Tony was a total motherfucker.

Tony started pouring shots for Malloy – as soon as Malloy finished one, Tony topped him off. This happened for THREE DAYS STRAIGHT. Three straight days of Prohibition-era moonshine, and Malloy walked in on day four and allegedly proclaimed, “ain’t I got a thirst!” Today, we would call this a drinking problem, to which Malloy would respond how his only problem was his drink wasn’t topped off. Tony, being the enterprising entrepreneur he was, decided a change was needed – he gave Malloy a few shots of whiskey, and then switched in wood alcohol. The “alcohol” following “wood” is misleading – it’s poison. It’s literally methanol, and causes blindness and death because it is ACTUAL POISON.

A spot of poison never slowed our protagonist down though! By “spot”, I mean “another three days of drinking poison”. Day six of this bender and Malloy gets faint and collapses to the floor, his breathing slowing dramatically. Tony must have given an audible cheer that his plan finally worked, only for Malloy to start snoring on the floor of his bar. Malloy is pretty good at holding his alcohol-poison apparently.

Pissed, Tony and some friends wake Malloy up and start feeding him oysters covered in denatured alcohol (also literal poison) and give him more wood alcohol. Nothing. They graduated from oysters to rotted sardines stuffed with shrapnel between bread. Malloy ate that and asked for a second. Tony and his friends had begun shoving antifreeze, turpentine, horse liniment and rat poison into Malloy in attempts to accelerate the process. Not only was Malloy not dying, he was having a delightful time, hanging out with his dear friend Tony, who was kind enough to feed him in between drinks!

Malloy passes out again. Tony and his friends pick this grizzly-bear-masquerading-as-a-human-man and drag him to a park bench in the middle of a snow storm and soak him in water. Malloy’s liver may be able to process poison (at least until the cirrhosis sets in), but he is still merely a man, and “soaking wet in a snow storm” is a death sentence. PSYCHE! Malloy ambled his way in the bar the next day complaining of a “wee chill”. At this point, Malloy has already established himself as a Wolverine-like superhero incapable of death.

THERE IS STILL MORE. Malloy has been impossibly drunk, poisoned, fed shrapnel, poisoned again, and left to freeze, and just pushed on through that the perseverance is inspiring. Tony, outright pissed at this point and moves from “passively letting a man die” to “let’s kill this son of a bitch”. Tony and a friend drag Malloy out into the street and hold him up so a third friend can hit him going 45 mph in a car. Just to be safe – history has shown there is no such thing as “overkill” in regards to Malloy – they back over him before leaving him in the street. Dead in the street, Malloy’s asshole friends left to collect their hard-earned insurance.

Just kidding! Five days later, Malloy high steps his way into the bar where he proclaimed “I sure dying for a drink!” There’s a thought experiment about how we are all technically immortal until proven otherwise – God had attempted to show otherwise, and Malloy had issued a rebuttal to God and shown he was immortal. After another undefined window where Malloy drank everything in sight, he passed out. Tony dragged Malloy to a hotel with gas lamps, which he proceeded to hook a nozzle into the gas and put it directly into Malloy’s mouth.

The next morning Michael Malloy was dead. Seriously. He was not coming back this time. Tony and friends collected their insurance, and had a story they would be sure to laugh about down the road. Local police heard rumors of this unkillable man, and eventually looked into it, exhuming Malloy’s body and discovering he had died from pneumonia and not the previously proclaimed gas leaked. Consider – this man had been poisoned for roughly ten days, abandoned in the freezing cold, hit by a car, poisoned some more, and had gas pumped directly into his lungs, and a cold killed him. Long story short, Tony and his friends were eventually sent the electric chair for killing this earthbound deity.

Everyone knows the story of the impossibly-difficult-to-kill Rasputin, but Rasputin doesn’t have shit on Michael Malloy, a man many would confuse as an exaggerated drinking tale masquerading as folklore. But no, Michael Malloy really existed, and he was the drunkest human being who ever lived, putting your best drinking story to shame a dozen times over.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: A Ranking of Global Titles and Honorifics

An ordered ranking of titles or honorifics I would liked preceding my name. To be clear, I will accept any of them, and the ranking is more or less arbitrary. Some warrant long discussion or clarification, some don’t. Don’t bitch about how I only included the masculine derivations – it’s not my fault history features almost entirely male rulers. I’ll do my best to summarize some of the more abstract ones. Starting from the bottom:

  1. Sir: The lamest of titles – seriously, they gave one to fucking Bono. I would almost be insulted if offered it. This is what the drive-thru attendant at McDonalds call you after he dipped his balls in your drink. This is what you say to the cop that just wrote you a ticket before you call him a fuckface under your breath. This is what your overweight gym teacher demanded you call him. I get its granted by the Queen, but c’mon, it’s shit. I bet the Queen is hoping she dies before she needs to knight a DJ. (Related – Clint Eastwood is knighted! Clint: 1. John: 0.) (Brief DD Interjection: FUCK YOU, ARCH! “I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a-hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” – John Wayne)
  1. Elder: This is the guy who passes around the collection plate at church on Sunday mornings, basically to get out of wrangling his kids during the boring services. Hard pass.
  1. Laird: As a concept (the owner of a large and long-established Scottish estate) – awesome. As a title – unimpressive. Too similar to lard, and I don’t need to draw the comparisons.
  1. Boyar: An aristocratic member of Russia, next in rank to a prince. I knew a guy with the last name Boyar in undergrad, and he was a weirdo. He got married and had a kid within a year of graduating. No thanks. (DD Interjection: Boyar was far beyond “socially uncomfortable” – what a weird guy)
  1. Honorable: I hear it and think local or small-court judge, but televised!
  1. Earl: Has been repossessed in the name of American culture as the name of schlubby guys with far more attractive wives on sitcoms.
  1. Nawab: A Muslim ruler in South Asia. Doesn’t roll off the tongue.
  1. Prime Minister: It just seems so… petty. So European. Ugh.
  1. Pasha: A high-ranking Turkish officer.
  1. Lord: Not bad, but kind of played out with the rise of “Game of Thrones”. Lacks imagination.
  1. Imtiaz: Kind of a vague title for someone distinct or unique from Arabia.
  1. Szlachta: Legally privileged noble class of Poland – who wants that? And the title, it’s just so… Polish. No.
  1. Emir: A Muslim ruler or local military commander. Short, simple, kinda boring but not inoffensive.
  1. Lama: Buddhist teacher. He can really haul off and whack one – big hitters, the lamas – long into a ten thousand foot crevasse. You know what he says to me? Gunga galunga. So we finish eighteen and he’s going to stiff me, and I say, “hey lama, how about something for, ya know, the effort?” and he says, “oh there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that going for me, which is nice.
  1. Samraja: An Indian king or prince, above a regular raj. The ‘sam’ complicates it.
  1. Count: Middle of the road British nobility. A middle of the road name for a middle of the road title.
  1. Sayyid: A Muslim descendant from Muhammad. Seems a bit blasphemous to me, but what do I know.
  1. Datu: Senior members of Phillipino royalty. Eh.
  1. Shah: Monarch of Iran. Sure, I’ll take it I GUESS.
  1. Cardinal: Senior member of Roman Catholic Church. Ho-hum.
  1. Kazoku: Japanese title for an individual in the line of succession.
  1. Marquess: British nobility. Before we get to the rest of the titles below, the order of importance, starting with the most significant title to the least: Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, Baron. It just lacks that “UMPH” you want in a title ya know?
  1. Sharif: Someone of noble or highborn Arab class.
  1. Sheik/Shayks: Another Arab leader, but not quite a hereditary or noble birth, but still — “Sheik Stanton” works for me.  (DD: I love this)
  1. Maharaja: Sanskrit for “great or high ruler”. I could work with it.
  1. Junker: A young German noble or lord. Has really been bastardized into crappy or a drug addict, but kinda bangs as a sophisticated title. The associations drag it down a notch. I feel like you would be confused for a poor person in the Star Wars universe.
  1. Brahmin: Highest Indian class of priests, teachers and educators.
  1. Dauphin: Heir apparent to the French throne. A bit feminine for my taste, but feels regal regardless.
  1. Caliph: The primary Muslim civil and religious leader acting as a successor from Muhammad. Another one that is pretty great, but seeing as how whenever anyone hears it, all they think is “ISIS claimed they were the new caliph right?”, probably not something to be associated with if you ever want to fly on a public airplane again.
  1. President: Has lost it’s luster recently. They’ll let ANYONE be a president now.
  1. Suzerain: An individual placed in charge of another autonomous state in order to exude control – think a British appointment sent to India to run the country. A pretty rad imperialist concept if I may say so myself.
  1. King/Emperor: Overdone. Not against it, but very played out in modern culture. Taking one would get you confused with a competitive Dungeon Master or adult kickball league MVP.
  1. Duke: Sure.
  1. Senator: Not like our modern, American senators, who are feckless cowards in the face of the oncoming Trump Train, but in the Roman sense. If the former, much lower, but if the latter, I would be pretty comfortable with.
  1. Bishop: Technically below Cardinals (and Archbishops but we’ll do just the one), but do cardinals have the coolest chess piece named after them? They do not. Bishop is a rad title.
  1. Raj: Indian ruler. I like it.
  1. Viscount: The ‘vis’ makes it hella cool. I feel like a virtuous dignitary on an intergalactic space station. Getting to the good stuff now.
  1. Burgrave: A German ruler or governor of a town or castle. A little under the radar as far as titles go, but even if you didn’t know what it was, you’d think, “oh shit that’s a bad ass” when someone introduces themselves as Burgrave.
  1. Margrave: A Holy Roman Empire commander sent to maintain a border province of said empire. Castles are cool, but a whole province? C’mon, that shit is cool.
  1. Shogun: Japanese commander-in-chief. The Japanese have always had emperors who were considered the rulers, but shoguns controlled all the military might at a time in history when that was basically all you had if you claimed to be in power, so shoguns were the real heads of state in feudal Japan. Projects a sense that you are not to be fucked with.
  1. Jagir: A feudal lord in South Asia. It sounds like jaguar!
  1. Baron: The lowest of British nobility, but by far the coolest. You’d be impressed if you met a Duke or a Marquess, but you’d think “aww yeah this dude fucks” if you met a baron.
  1. Sultan: Muslim sovereign ruler. It just has the right panache, ya know?
  1. Chief: Not going to lie, this might be the best title if you think about it. What is a chief? He is all forms of government for an area, as well as the military leader and cultural epoch. Chiefs are cool, and, if assigned as it was originally intended, a truly bad ass title. It loses points because it has been so diminished by dudes in pop collars at bars trying to act like they want to fight and put someone down by sarcastically calling them “chief”. Way to go dildos, you ruined the coolest title.
  1. Hidalgo: Not the horse, but nobility on the Iberian peninsula who were exempted from taxes but owned little property. I am fascinated as to how that all worked. If I introduce myself as “Hidalgo Stanton”, you’re first thought would be ‘he doesn’t look Hispanic.’
  1. Czar: Russian emperors. Exudes superiority and power, and that’s really what this all about. Loses points for being eradicated as a concept in a basement somewhere during the Russian Revolution.
  1. Governor: Not in the American state sense, but like the head of state for a foreign territory or Caribbean island. THAT is the type of persona I wish to flaunt. “Here’s Governor Stanton, and welcome to our tropical paradise, would you like a rum-based drink out of a coconut with a little umbrella in it? Hell yes you do.”
  1. Sheriff: Probably the lowest ranking title here, but definitely one of the coolest. Seeing as how this is partially a Western movies themed blog, its high rank is doubly warranted.
  1. High Priest: Not just a regular priest, but like, higher. Typically Irish or Celtic in origin, but more widely accepted as “any non-Christian religious figure”. Christianity would call it blasphemous, but I would call it awesome.
  1. Kaiser: German for “emperor”. When you hear about kaisers, you are hearing about people who are not to be trifled with. Kaisers are here to fuck shit up, and I am on board.
  1. Sovereign: A bit vague and expansive for any particular definition, but typically used by imperial explorers or autocrats in reference to the rulers of another territory, used in order to convey their high rank without knowing the specific or preferred term for a ruler. You may get confused for a sovereign citizen slash someone who is definitely on multiple government watch lists, but it definitely has that je ne sais quoi I’m looking for. Radiates power and nobility, with a hint of intrigue.
  1. Viceroy: Similar to a suzerain, a ruler placed in charge to exercise authority over a colony on behalf of another state. I’ll be damned if the West didn’t come up with a lot of interesting ways to exert imperialist control over the rest of the world, all of which use bad ass titles. Similar to viscount, calling yourself Viceroy so-and-so makes me think you are a intergalactic strongman on a remote smugglers’ planet.
  1. Pharaoh: FUCK. YES. You know EXACTLY what is in store when you hear about Pharaohs, and that is definitely the title for me. You can squabble about the rankings, but you are incorrect if you pick anything other than Pharaoh as number one.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Animals With Fraudulent Diplomas

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A while back I wrote an article about a bleakly American Wikipedia page (“List of federal political sex scandals in the United States”), which started as delightfully anodyne – he may have been gay! He loved a black woman! – and ended up with a lot of sexual assaults and a suicide. Sorry about that. It took a turn I did not expect, and I wasn’t about to toss the whole thing (I am not a very diligent editor). As you can tell by the title here, it is unlikely we run into such a macabre conclusion this time. ANIMALS WITH FRAUDULENT DIPLOMAS!

Before we dive in, let’s consider the pretext for this article more closely – are we to understand there are animals out there with LEGITIMATE diplomas? Where is THAT list? I imagine it’s the hypothetical monkey who eventually tapped out Shakespeare on a typewriter after an infinite time frame and that painting elephant with an honorary art degree. Alas, there is a trend you will soon see.

Colby Nolan: Colby Nolan was a six-year old house cat who was awarded an MBA in 2004 by the illustrious Trinity Southern University. Are you unfamiliar with Trinity Southern? It’s probably because it was a Dallas-based diploma mill that would send you a diploma for $299.00. Colby’s owner, a Pennsylvania deputy attorney general, sent a resume stating Colby – who is a cat by the way, let’s not forget that critical detail – had taken classes at a local community college, worked at McDonalds, babysat and maintained a newspaper route. This cat is out there trying to provide for his family. Trinity responded due to the lack of experience, they would need another $100.00 to process his degree. Lo and behold! Colby got an MBA. Trinity was subsequently sued into oblivion. THIS CAT EARNED HIS DEGREE DAMNIT.

George: George is a cat owned by BBC host Chris Jackson who wanted to prove the illegitimacy of hypnotherapy. Jackson got his cat registered with the British Board of Neuro Linguistic Programming, the United Fellowship of Hypnotherapists and the Professional Hypnotherapy Practitioner Association, thus securing George’s licensed accreditation as a hypnotherapist. I would still let George tell me my future.

Henrietta: Another house cat owned by a journalist with a vendetta, Henrietta obtained a diploma from the American Association of Nutritional Consultants. Upon being accepted, her owner responded it was an honor that would have to be award posthumously as the cat had passed away. I SWEAR THIS IS AS SAD AS THIS GETS.

Kitty O’Malley: Obviously another cat (she is also identified as Spanky, which is a WAY better name), this one obtained a high school diploma from Washington High Academy in Florida. Kitty/Spanky then applied to multiple local colleges, none of which accept her. I am as shocked as you she did not get into Florida State, where she could have majored in prescription forgery, insurance fraud, or aluminum-siding resale.

Oliver Greenhalgh: A cat accepted into the English Association of Estate Agents and Valuers after sending eleven guineas, a piece of British currency that had been out of commission for over a century. The English Association of Estate Agents and Valuers aren’t even good at being paid for their scam.

Oreo C Collins: A cat who “graduated” from an online high school, despite later admitting she had to lie about her age in order to qualify. Oreo was heading an investigation by the Better Business Bureau.

Zoe D Katze: Cat owners really ride hard for puns while naming their pets. This German cat also obtained multiple hypnotherapy certifications after her snitch of an owner followed a vendetta against palm readers and tarot card readers. Get a hobby nerd.

Lulu: In 2010, a class action was underway against Virgin Islands’ Concordia College for defrauding “students” with bogus degrees. Mark Howard, one of the attorneys for the claimants, used his dog Lulu as evidence of the illegitimacy of the college. In court, Lulu had “graduated” with a better GPA than one of the key defendant witnesses. This is the academic equivalent of the kid who was benched on his high school basketball team in order to open up playing time for Air Bud.

Molly: In 2012, a Houston news team got a degree from a local diploma mill for a photographer’s basset hound after sending a $300.00 check and completing a “laughably easy take-home test”. This news team could have just completed the take-home test on their own to show how easy it was, but a wise producer managed to shoe horn a dog into the story, and here we are, talking about it six years later. That is a producer who is good at their job.

Pete: The American University of London offered a four-year lurcher (basically an off-brand wolfhound) an MBA for $4,500.00 despite making up all his work experience and an undergrad degree from a fictitious undergraduate program. Pete managed to get his MBA just four days after applying. Good boy, Pete.

Sassafras Herbert: FINALLY someone who knows how to name a dog! Sassafras got a diploma for $50.00 from the American Association of Nutrition and Dietary Consultants. Let the free market settle which degrees are fake and which are real, I always say.

Sonny: Sonny got a medical degree, excuse me – A FUCKING MEDICAL DEGREE – from Ashwood University after listing work experience of “significant proctology experience sniffing other dogs’ bums.” That’s just A+ comedy writing guys. That’s better than you’ll get on this internet backwater of a site.

Wally:  Wally received an associate degree in childhood development from Almeda University in 2004 after claiming to “play with kids every day… teaching them to interact better with each other… teaching them responsibilities like feeding the dog.” Almeda University returned fire, claiming Wally’s owner had committed perjury by creating a false identity using a fabricated name and date of birth, thus illustrating Almeda University’s lack of understand about the concept of perjury. Wally was born to be a star, because he went on to be featured in a Wisconsin mayoral campaign with a dialogue bubble “I graduated with [mayoral opponent] Bill Chesen”, referencing the candidates phony Almeda University bachelor’s degree. Wally is better at political satire than any other writer, dead or alive.

Ollie: Mike Daube, a public health expert in Western Australia, used his dog to promote a list of made-up credentials like “past associate of the Senton Park Institute for Canine Refuge Studies”, which was the pound where Daube had rescued Ollie. Multiple predatory journals accepted her application as a member, with the Global Journal of Addiction and Rehabilitation Medicine naming her an associate editor. Jesus guys, get it together, you aren’t even TRYING anymore.

Maxwell Sniffingwell: HELL YES this is the good stuff. Pompous British name by someone who clearly has never been out of the tri-state area? Big ol’ checkmark. An Arkansas veterinarian submitted an application to Belford University on behalf of his English bulldog based on his work as a reproductive specialist (NICE), noting his natural ability in theriogeneology (basically animal husbandry, or “pet-fucking” for the less initiated). The application was accepted with a payment of $549.00.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m about to pet my dog and pad my resume. Au revoir!

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 19 in Today I Learned – Timothy Dexter

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I am sure you know someone in your life who is an idiot – not just a standard, run-of-the-mill idiot, but a truly world-class idiot who things just magically work out for regardless of their ineptitude. Oh, did you go to class and take notes and study and take practice exams, while this person showed up hungover (when they even bothered to show up) and didn’t study at all and still swung a better grade than you? Fuck that guy. This incredibly fortunate dipshit who had everything break their way would look at Timothy Dexter and be outright insulted by his good fortunate resulting from absolutely nothing of his own doing.

Timmy Dexter was born in 1747 in Massachusetts to parents who had emigrated from Ireland; in other words, Dexter was dirt poor and poorly educated, dropping out of eight grade. Before doing anything in his own life, he had a number of strikes against him – a poor Irish-American prior to the Revolutionary War of low birth. Shockingly, this was not as inhibitory as you may have expected. Dexter worked as a leather-working apprentice in South Carolina before schmoozing his way into a wealthy Massachusetts widow’s pants who was nine years his senior with four kids. Dexter knew enough to buy when demand was low – this will be a recurring thread.

While not playing much a role during the Revolutionary War (COWARD!), he spent thousands of dollars on heretofore worthless Continental currency. Fortunately for him, Congress moved shortly after to confirm this currency as the American dollar. Suddenly, Dexter had moved from upper-middle class to exorbitantly wealthy with a blind stroke of luck. A bit of backstory here – as an uneducated Irishman, the existing upper class did not approve of this idiot crashing their parties and acting as an equal. One source cited Bostonian elites wanting to bankrupt him by turning him on to the Continental currency which they were certain had no future. Obviously, this backfired because this is the luckiest idiot in the history of the planet.

Now an extremely wealthy, as well as an extremely new member of high society, Dexter could not be as easily boxed out. This did not stop other, better-educated and more knowledgeable members of the bourgeois from fucking with him endlessly. He was pressured/tricked into shipping bedpans to the West Indies – the elites thought this was hilarious, as the West Indies were full of detestable savages who shit in the streets. Joke’s on those assholes, because bedpans were in huge demand by local high-class ladies. Dexter made a killing on this joke. In a similar vein, some other jokers told him he should sell gloves to the South Sea/Polynesia islands – the joke being they’re all poor and disgusting and would never use gloves! Hilarious! Turns out, merchants crossing the Pacific Ocean bought them en masse to turn around and sell to the Chinese, who LOVED gloves.

You read the header – you know this is only the start. A common parlance of the era was ‘shipping cats to the Indies’ for irresponsible behavior, because the Indies were overwhelmed with stray cats at the time. Spoiler – Dexter heard this and thought ‘that seems like a great idea’. This rich asshole ran around Boston alleyways collecting stray cats, which he promptly dumped onto a southbound ship and marketed as a solution to widespread rat infestation. He sold BOATLOADS of stray cats to islands already filled with cats because he was clever enough to market them as a solution to rats. I always used to shit on marketing majors, but if they have a fraction of the guile of Timothy Dexter, then the insurmountable student loan debt will be worth it.

Is three instances of dumb luck enough to prove a point? Because there’s one more, and it’s a real doozy. In keeping with the ‘saying of the time used to illustrate a fruitless action’, Dexter latched on to “shipping coal to Newcastle”. This was not just a saying at the time, but one that has persisted across generations of Brits to demonstrate the pointlessness of an action due to Newcastle’s widespread fame as a economic powerhouse solely because of it’s ability to churn out coal to supply its factors as well as factories around the rest of England AND the colonies. Newcastle turned out coal like a minor US Senator turns out female summer interns. People everywhere laughed at what a remarkable idiot he was, and were excited to watch what would certainly be his final downfall. Somewhere between the bottles of champagne being popped, but before the cheers, Newcastle coal miners went on strike. Dexter sold his coal to the coal-producing capital of the world for a premium multiple times over.

Dexter, having made a fortunate at exporting the most useless shit on the planet to corners of the world were no one wanted it until they immediately did, decided to turn his attention elsewhere. He was going to publish a book! Remember when I said he dropped out of eight grade? This book was SHIT. The book, titled “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones”, was 8,847 (mostly misspelled) words, almost entirely without punctuation and entirely random capitalization, and included divergent tirades about how much Dexter hated his local politicians and clergy, as well as his wife. Who would want to read this bullshit? EVERYONE apparently. It got eight reprintings, with one addressing the concerns of a lack of punctuation with an addendum full of nothing but commas and periods with a note that readers could distribute them as they please. It’s like the exact opposite of reading my writing.

In his newfound fame, he developed a habit of bringing mistresses to the home he shared with his wife. When his wife, understandably outraged, would scream and yell at him, he would tell his new mistress to ignore her, as it was only the ghost of his ex-wife haunting his bachelor pad. I have never been more divided over “the greatest thing I have ever heard” or “the worst thing you could do to a spouse short of OJ Simpson”. Before long, Dexter was convinced most of his friends were around only because he was wealthy, and decided to fake his death, as one does when they wish to test the loyalty of their friends. Three thousand people showed up to the fake wake, which was immediately spoiled after he stormed out of the back of the hall to cane his wife for not crying hard enough. Gee, why wouldn’t she be upset that her shit-ass husband was dead. I believe this also settles the “awesome or horrible” debacle addressed earlier.

One critic had his disgust with the entire Timothy Dexter experience quoted as. “For what purpose are riches given to some men unless to display in more glowing colours the disgusting deformities of their Characters?”, but that guy still had no idea what was coming. Did you think we were done? Can you believe someone could be even more ridiculous then everything you had already read above? Because this is Timothy Dexter we’re talking about here. Despite the American revolution successfully seceding from the British and monarchy, he anointed himself a Lord. He bought an enormous palace which he covered in statutes of great men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, Louis XVI, John Hancock, William Pitt, and, uhhh… himself. You’d think this was bold, but really these other guys were fortunate to be merely associated with a man whose placard read “I am the first in the East, the first in the West, and the greatest philosopher in the Western World”. You think you’ve seen luck go to someone’s head, but you will never make the mistake again after learning about Timothy Dexter, the man even myth couldn’t exaggerate.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 18 in Today I Learned – the Madagascar Plan

In June of 1940, Nazi Germany was kicking about Europe, just being a real group of assholes, as they were wont to do. As big a group of assholes they were, they had not yet evolved into their final asshole form – they were still the Charmeleon to the Charizard of terrible they would soon become. They were “reincorporating” surrounding nations, with France on the immediate horizon, but still had this issue with the Jews. They were EVERYWHERE, with prior efforts to force them to emigrate not taking hold as they had wished (many European Jews interpreted the Nazis’ hostile actions through Kristallnacht and programs encouraging them to leave as a sign they should leave, but many other stayed). Enter: the Madagascar Plan, where the Nazis would shove all the Jews onto boats and ship them to Madagascar.

(I apologize if this all seems too flippant for a truly atrocious period in human history, but I am trying to keep this as light as possible while avoiding being contemptuous, because I think this is an interesting wrinkle of history not many people are familiar with.)

The Nazis were manhandling the French, as everyone in history tends to (excluding all those years Napoleon fought the entire world and won), but the Nazi domestic leaders didn’t know what to with all these Jewish people they had been accumulating as they romped around the continent. Obviously, they couldn’t just STAY, because they were the root of all evil in the world, but they also were not embracing the opportunity to leave as they had hoped (estimates suggest roughly 250,000 of Germany’s 437,000 Jews had voluntarily left by 1939), when one of the heads of the German Foreign Office, Franz Rademacher, figured, ‘hey, the French have this huge tropical island we could drop all of them off at!’ This would get rid of the Jews, plus give them a beautiful tropical island all to themselves. I like to imagine Rademacher figured all these people who had lived in Europe for generations as cobblers or grocers being plotted in the middle of a jungle would lead to a whole bunch of wacky sitcom-esque hi-jinks with monkeys – think Gilligan’s Island but everyone is the Professor.

This would not be the case. Madagascar is a relatively inhospitable territory still today, so you can imagine what it was like in 1940. Yes, France had colonized it, but really only because Africa was treated like one of those game show cash boxes where a fan whips loose bills around – you just grabbed what you could regardless of the practicality or actual use. So Madagascar – useless, remote and inhospitable, with barren lands where the Nazis figured the Jewish population would succumb eventually to the brutal conditions anyway, all of this governed as a police state under the SS. So… the Nazis didn’t originally want to outright kill Jews, but was totally cool if they just, ya know, happened to die.

As of August 15, 1940, this plan was a go, with Adolf Eichmann calling for one million Jews per year for the next four years be relocated to Madagascar. Giving the eventual alternative, this could be confused as a humane alternative, but if we look closer, German experts estimated that – at best – 7,000 families could be reasonably accommodated on the vastly underdeveloped island, with many others stating 500 families was the best the Nazis could reasonable expect to live there. So this was not quite as benevolent as it originally seemed once you realize they were no longer okay if Jewish prisoners died, but were actively banking on the fact most would perish in order to make room for others.

How did this plan get so close to fruition and then fall apart? Reports suggest that this plan was considered so certain, construction of Polish ghettos were ceased nationwide. Germany had very few ships to spare for a long trip to the African coast, which was implausible due to the British blockade placing them essentially on lock-down. The Nazis figured, once they repossessed Madagascar from France, they would be on to hammering Britain into submission, relieving them of the blockade as well as supplying them with suitable merchant ships. Once they began to struggle against Britain, the Nazis turned for help to Soviet Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, who had originally endorsed the idea and agreed to ship Russian Jews as well to the island, but ignored the plea to help by lending ships.

The Nazis had kept the Jews imprisoned in ghettos around Poland, but figured they could be shipped to Siberia after they flipped the script on the Soviets and conquered them. If you’re rusty on your World War II history, England did not succumb to the Nazis, and Russia turned out to be a bit more of a dilemma than anticipated. Within a year, the Madagascar Plan was discarded and the Holocaust had began shortly after.

Lest we end on the most distressing of terms, let’s consider had this worked out. Not the Nazi resettlement plan, which was essentially a death sentence, but one of the earlier plans to do so (German and Polish Jews had independently investigated the legitimacy of relocating and establishing a Jewish state in 1885 and 1937, respectively). Had a fair number of Jewish families been permitted to settle without the existential threat of a police state that would just as prefer them dead, imagine if Madagascar had been used instead of modern-day Israel as a designated Jewish state.

Geographically, Madagascar is 226.6k square miles whereas Israel is 8.5k square miles if we include the disputed West Bank, and provides far more available natural resources like chromite, coal, salt and bauxite in addition to an expansive fishing and ocean shipping industry rather than a relatively small reserve of crude oil in Israel (sorry if this feels like a seventh grade social studies class). The Jewish population would likely have resisted this alien terrain seeing as how their religious beliefs lay just as significant a claim to Jerusalem and the region as do modern day Palestinians. Without really diving into that whole thing, we would probably STILL talk about a one- or two-state solution in Israel, albeit without nearly the intensity we currently do. The Jewish stereotype of well-educated white collar families would be likely be replaced with Jewish sea captains and miners, which is probably the furthest apart two stereotypes could be. A Jewish nation in the Indian Ocean would not face the persistent existential threat posed by Iran, Egypt and Syria, but would probably would find some new neighbors outraged by their presence (sorry native Malagasians!) (and let’s be honest, the Iranians – I have a hunch they’re going to piss-y with a Jewish nation-state no matter where it is). Madagascar would likely not be the forgotten outpost it essentially is today, and would not have immediately fallen in disrepair because the rest of the world forgot about it too. This is my new favorite historical what-if.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 17 in Today I Learned – Operation Paul Bunyan

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As we sit delicately on the precipice of World War III with North Korea while our Cheeto-dusted Commander in Chief pouts and yells at the North Korean Rocket Boy, let’s revisit an oft-forgotten incident that had the White House convinced World War III was about to break out in 1976 between American and South Korean forces and North Korea over a precariously located poplar tree.

Let’s set the scene here, which is essential to understanding why this particular poplar was of powerful political passions. On the western side of the demilitarized zone was a spot called Panmunjom. At Panmunjom, the North and South Koreans squabbled over a sliver of land. There was a South Korean/American outpost at the end of their designated property with a particular observation checkpoint directly on the edge of the North Korean property; soldiers called this little shed the “Point of No Return” – you were literally yards away from North Korean soldiers who would deliberately antagonize American soldiers and wave guns at them in an attempt to provoke a response which, if given would lead to escalation or possible kidnapping into North Korea. If you got kidnapped into North Korean – SPOILER – you would not be returning. Soldiers HAAAAAAATED this task, as you could imagine. Not only were you standing guard alone, you would be spit at (or on, in some instances), guns pointed at you, with black soldiers reporting slurs and monkey gestures thrown at them. Go ahead and scratch North Korea off your list of potential spring break ’19 destinations.

To protect soldiers standing guard from disappearing overnight from this outpost, a larger more secure watchtower was constructed and manned by the UN on an outcropping to look down from above. Great! Problem solved! Except in the spring, this one tree, this ONE FUCKING POPLAR TREE, would blossom and completely eclipse the outpost, defeating the entire point of the watchtower. The American outpost commander did exactly what any grumpy dad would do when an unkempt bush questionably located between a neighbor’s property and his own infringed on his own: he cut that bitch down.

The South Korean/American delegation sent ten men, including three Americans to cut this shit down. They trotted out to this disputed sliver of land, and began to chop away with axes at this tree. The North Korean commander came out, furious (again – this is the most tense neighborly-shrub dispute in the history of the world) and declared KIM IL SUNG HIMSELF had planted and nourished this tree, and they needed to stop immediately. Captain Arthur Bonifas, being the badass he was, turned his back to this tiny pouting Korean man and went back to chopping at the tree. The Northerner left and returned shortly after with approximately thirty men and again demanded the Southern delegation leave. Captain Bonifas, as he had done before, turned his back on the North Koreans, who did not take this insult twice, and proceeded to beat him. Chaos exploded, everyone panicked and split, and within twenty to thirty seconds, the scrum ended with two Americans in critical condition after being bludgeoned with the axes they had been using. Captain Bonifas and another soldier died from their wounds before the day was over.

“Outraged” seems to be a woefully insufficient way to describe the American response to this provocation. To further this feeling, the North Koreans quickly released a statement saying they requested a halt to the tree chopping, at which point they were attacked, and the causalities were the result of the Americans’ actions attacking them. The Americans “officially” considered three responses, but really only two and half-ish: 1. Full-on assault: This would essentially begin World War III, which is what everyone desperately hoped to avoid, especially the US who was already floundering in a bogged-down war in Vietnam at the same. 2. Nothing: This is the half-ish idea. Have you ever known America to stand down and avoid a confrontation? There was never a chance the Americans were going to let the murder of two soldiers slide while the North Koreans cockily egged them on from across the bridge. 3. “Cut down the tree with the aid of overwhelming force.” Fucking. Booyah.

On August 21, 1976, the Americans responded with extreme prejudice with Operation Paul Bunyan. After being elevated to DEFCON-3 (only the third time the military-readiness system had been that high, along with immediately after 9/11 and the Yom Kippur War between Egypt and Syria against Israel in 1973), the shit was about to hit the fan. At 8 am, two eight-man teams went to the tree covered in Kevlar and armed with axes and side arms. You will see how quaint those side arms are shortly. Men on the teams had to volunteer for the mission because leadership was legitimately concerned that the North Koreans would open fire and attempt to escalate the situation, so to be standing on a ladder with an ax mere yards away from a North Korean firing squad was what many would call “a big ask”. Now, these teams were not alone. With them into the questionable zone went two 30-man security platoons (considering the agreement that only thirty men from either side be allowed in the zone at once, this was provocative enough in itself). So here we are, with 76 men in the secured zone already while two men simultaneously worked a chainsaw on opposite sides of the tree.

A team from another company had activated denotation charges underneath the bridge and established a machine gun nest near the American outpost. The South Koreans organized a 64-man task force consisting of special forces specially trained in tae kwon do for close quarters combat, who showed up at the last minute with rifles, grenade launchers and claymore explosives strapped to their chests. So much for not escalating the situation. When South Korea commits, they fucking COMMIT.

The engineer teams are going to town on this tree. when the North Koreans noticed and responded with some 200 men with assault rifles and machine guns. Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Vierra identified their response, and radioed in for the REAL shit. Twenty American utility helicopters outfitted with machine guns rose from behind the South Korean outpost, along with seven fully stocked Cobra helicopters hovering a few dozen yards away from the most fraught-over tree in world history, all with artillery targeted at the suddenly vastly outgunned North Koreans. One of the guys on the ground reported how it seemed the choppers covered the entire horizon behind them.

That is a hilarious amount of overkill to chop a tree down, but America doesn’t do hilarious overkill – they do downright PREPOSTEROUS. A fleet of B-52s stormed overhead from a Japanese airbase, each flanked by F-4s with South Korean F-5s and F-86s patrolling the airzone at higher altitude – although still low enough to be in sight of all parties on the ground. An American artillery unit settled a fleet of Hawk guided missiles on the ridge overlooking the questioned area, while the USS Midway stationed near Guam had earlier sent every plane on-board toward the area (along with three nuclear-capable bombers), which just so happened to be popping up on North Korean radar on a direct trajectory to Pyongyang at roughly 8:30 am. A separate air base in Japan had a dozen C-130s fueled and lined up on the edge of the runway nose-to-tail for further instructions. Henry Kissinger and President Ford both sat patiently in the Oval Office awaiting updates, prepared to hand down further commands should all the above somehow, staggeringly, not be enough.

So, for about forty-five minutes, four engineers took turns standing on the roof of a jeep pruning limbs off a tree, while North Koreans assembled and pointed a machine gun at them with fighter jets and bombers circled overhead with a dozen helicopters hovering behind them, with a platoon of South Korean lunatics strapping claymore explosives to their chest, all while the President sat and listened in.

The next day, North Korea had issued a statement accepting blame for the death of the American soldiers, the first time they had accepted any blame whatsoever for any skirmishes at any checkpoint, despite even the UN agreeing the were almost always responsible. The United States responded their apology was not accepted, but noted it was a step in the right direction as they wished to avoid escalating the situation any further. This is the story of the time North Korea thought they wanted some shit, to which America responded by taking its collective dick out and slapping it on their foreheads, for which the North Koreans then apologized for impeding the dick’s trajectory.

(Note – I primarily used an article from the Atavist (https://magazine.atavist.com/axes-of-evil-north-korea-dmz-tree-murders) for this. If this story interests you, and you want to read the specifics like how the on-ground commander jeopardized the lines of communication so the White House couldn’t interfere, or how they went about selecting the most physically imposing individuals for the “Point of No Return” outpost or, ya know, ACTUALLY journalism, I strongly recommend checking it out. It is indeed this outlandish and worth your time.)