JN122: The US needs more Tiger Mothers!

February 11, 2011

There is a huge debate raging right now over Amy Chua and her “Tiger Mother” parenting methods, a strict form of discipline that the US government has adopted to train Navy SEALS. It includes, among other things, forcing your child to get nothing less than straight A’s in school, perfect classic pieces on the piano and violin, not participate in school plays or sports, and never ever engage in the orgy of sin and depravity that is the “sleepover.”

Well, you know what, I wholeheartedly agree with Amy Chua. The US has become a festering pit of feel-good nonsense that imbues kids with high self-esteem and little competence at anything but eating hot Cheetos. All these wussified people who support the “balanced” approach of combining Chua’s methods with creativity and social interactions should stop straddling the fence. Either you’re a Tiger parent, or you’re a wuss who will ruin your kids’ lives and have them end up joining gangs, doing menial labor, or worse, becoming social workers or community organizers.

“So how do I become a Tiger parent,” you may be wondering. After reading Chua’s article and the synopsis of her book on Amazon, I can say that I’ve become somewhat of an expert on this topic. I want to share with you some tips I’ve learned that will help you become better parents.

First and foremost, the Tiger parent does not mince words. Insults and name-calling are effective means to motivate children to change. Make sure it’s personal, though. For example, if your kid is slightly overweight, calling them Tubby, Fatty, Lard-breath, Chunk-Bottom, or preferably a combination of the above is a good way to drive home the message. If they’re a little slow in the thinking department, speed them up with encouraging monikers like Moron, Idiot, Stupid, or John Mayer.  

Second, demand perfection from your kids. “Hey, Craterface,” you might want to say, “get off your lazy butt and do these extra math problems. Do you really think you’ll get this A- into an A+ by sitting in the corner rocking and staring into space like that?” It’s good to combine that with other helpful remarks:  “And while you’re at it, Shamu, jog in place so you can shed a few. I’ve never seen a six-year-old with so much cellulite.”

Third, make sure they master the piano, violin, and chess. To master anything, according to Malcolm Gladwell, you need 10,000 hours of practice. The only thing Westernized kids master is watching TV and posting stuff on Facebook. Your child will be regarded as vastly superior and more sophisticated if they can master the piano, violin, and chess. At 4 hours of practice for each of those things per day, it would only take about 7 years for your kid to become an expert. If you start them at the age of 3, they’ll be ready for the symphony or world chess tournament by the time they’re 10.

Of course, it might not be easy to get kids to practice anything for hours each day. So fourth, learn effective means to coerce your children. Every kid has a weakness. If they like certain toys, threaten to give them away or destroy them. Dangling a lit lighter underneath their favorite stuffed animals is a good way to move any four-to-nine-year olds: “You’ve only practiced violin for five hours today, and you still sound like dying lemmings. You continue practicing right now or Funshine Bear gets it!”

Finally, shield your kids from negative influences that might distract her. Sleepovers are complete no-no’s, as are school plays, sports, and other extracurricular activities. Limit sunshine and fresh air, as those things only increase the release of endorphins, which might create a false or exaggerated sense of accomplishment that actually impedes real mastery.

Sure, following Chua’s advice might not make you the most popular person with your kids or other parents, but China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Our kids won’t be able to compete if we continue the Western way of parenting. We certainly don’t want American kids to end up as quitters, like that Mubarak guy.

JN121: Women, let’s stop the mind-games for Valentine’s Day!

February 8, 2011

My friends,

Valentine’s Day is coming up. Every year, around this time, we guys get jittery. It’s not that we don’t like Valentine’s Day. It’s just that we hate it. Most of us would rather throw live piranhas down our pants than deal with this day. That’s because most of us are inept gift buyers, and our women are always expecting something amazing, as if a cordless power drill is not good enough for them.

Around this time, I start stressing out. “I’d like you to get me something,” says my wife, Jameelah, “and make it special and thoughtful.” She learned to be direct after one Valentine’s Day, when she said, “Don’t worry about getting me a gift, sweets,” and I got her nothing. (Was I wrong? Vote now).

Unfortunately, she is not direct enough. That’s the problem. Women always want you to be “thoughtful.” This is our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, and I was hoping that by now, she would just spell out everything. If you ask us guys what we want, we’d tell you. “This year,” I said, “I want Dragon Quest VI on the DS. And I want you to make peanut butter cookies.” I went ahead and pre-ordered Dragon Quest VI using her credit card. That’s how thoughtful I am.

I wish she would just say something like, “Get me the peridot ring circled on page 48 of this catalog, and make reservation for us at the Tamarind Tree. When we get home, open a bottle of wine and wait for further instructions.” See? Would that be too hard? But no, it is never that easy. That’s because for women, Valentine’s Day is not about romance. It is not about love. If it were about love, we would not stress each other out on this day. Why would you stress out someone you love by making them run around to get the perfect gift?

No, Valentine’s Day is a test to see how well men listen and observe, a test that may have resulted from evolution, where men who are most observant are most likely to survive and pass on their genes. However, it is a test that men fail miserably each year, and women always get upset. This only decreases the chance that we, both men and women, pass on our genes in fun ways.

So this year, let’s knock it off with all the gift-buying mind-reading games. Let us communicate and not waste time. Women, please tell your men exactly what it is you want this year. Trust me, we’ll be so happy that we might even do something extra. Like buy you a power saw.

JN104: How to shove the elderly, and other tips for Black Friday shopping

November 11, 2010

Every year, around this time, we give thanks for the things that we often take for granted. Things like family and friendship and commu—OMG, a 16-gig flash drive for $4.99! Where was I? Oh yes, community. Once a year, we reflect on how fortunate we are to have food and shel—WTF, first 10 quad core laptops only $250?!!!!

All right, fine, even as I prepare my annual list of things for which I am thankful, I am plotting out the most effective strategy for Black Friday shopping. As many of you know, this is the day after Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping day of the year, when stores pull all-out sales. Across the country, thousands of people camp out all night at the mall entrance or wake up at 3am in order to get the best bargains. In case you didn’t know, Black Friday comes from ancient Gaelic words bhleg, which means “50% off” and “frīgedæg,” which means “before 6am.”

As a veteran of many a bhleg frīgedæg, I have learned a thing or two, and I want to share these tips with you today if you plan to shop on this day:

  1. Start by doing some research, mainly by scanning your apartment or house to determine what you already have, so that we you see better versions of those things at 60% off, you can feel like crap.
  2. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and by that, I mean sports bra and/or cup, shin guards, and soccer cleats. Hundreds of people are injured annually by being shoved into metal shelving or lacerated by shopping carts. Hundreds more are injured by soccer cleats.
  3. Before you rush out, sit down and make two lists. Call one list “Items That Will Probably Be on Sale Again Later but I Don’t Want to Wait” and the other “Items that Might Make Good Gifts for Someone for Christmas but I Don’t Know Who and So I’ll Probably Keep in My Closet Until I Move and then I’ll Donate to Goodwill.”
  4. Stay up before Black Friday. If you fall asleep, you might not be able to wake up at 3am. Then, you’ll hate yourself the rest of the year, especially after your friends tell you how they got a 60-inch flat-panel TV for only $400.
  5. Carry the right tools. This includes snacks, a first-aid kit, a cattle prod, and an empty Snapple bottle. After four hours of waiting in line in front Best Buy for it to open, you will know what the empty Snapple bottle is for.
  6. Do not accept anyone’s offer for free “lemon tea” Snapple.
  7. Shopping with your romantic partner is slightly less painful than eating your own arms. You will inevitably hear stuff like “Are we done yet? It’s been an hour and I’m tired and I want to go home,” or “Why didn’t you take that parking spot? Great, now it’s gone and we’ll have to walk a mile, just great,” or “I can’t believe you dragged me out of bed for this. I hope you’re happy. While we’re waiting here at this God-forsaken hour, I have something I want to discuss with you. Do you think we’re communicating effectively? Lately, I feel like you’re not listening to me. I read this book, and it says…” Remember, these lines move about one foot per hour, and your arm will start looking more and more delicious as your partner continues to talk.
  8. Buy two of everything. That way, later on you can host a Black Friday party and trade stuff with your friends.
  9. Try to avoid rebate deals, because you’re going to forget to turn in the billion forms in time, and even if you do remember, every year, hundreds of people fatally injured by rebate-related papercuts.

10.  Above all, Black Friday is not a time to be nice. It is a battle field, with you against everyone else. I’ve seen a guy shove an old lady for the last digital photo frame at Office Max. Shoving is frowned upon, along with scratching and tickling, but people will look away on Black Friday. If you must shove the elderly, however, do it gently and make sure there are some mattresses on sale or an obese person behind them, just in case they fall.

I hope those tips are helpful. Now, I have to go write an apology letter to Edna, whom I met at Office Max last year.

JN101: Politicians, stop ruining my commercial breaks!

October 17, 2010

Every day I come home exhausted after a grueling three or four hours of work, and there is one thing I look forward to. Flo, the Progressive Insurance commercial lady. She’s hilarious. “Unicorn and Glitter?” That gets me every time. Recently, however, our commercials have been hijacked by political ads, especially by Patty Murray and Dino Rossi, both running for the Senate representing Washington. These ads are aggravating. What sort of a world do we live in when politicians have fee reign to sling mud at each other during Law and Order Los Angeles, during the two-minute breaks when most of us would like to grab a snack and be entertained by the E*Trade babies?

I am getting very tired of the yuckiness of our political campaign tactics. Day after day these past weeks, it has been “Patty Murray: She says she’s working for Washington. Question is, which one?” and “Suzan DelBene: She wants more government, higher taxes and think the healthcare takeover didn’t go far enough” and “Dino Rossi: Really? Come on! I mean, seriously, Dino Rossi? No, for real? You’re kidding, right?” (OK, I came up with that last one, and apparently Patty Murray’s campaign team didn’t want to use it; that’s the last time I give a politician pro-bono advice.)

These politicians must think we’re idiots. Their ads appeal to the lowest common denominator, eliciting visceral reactions and superficial anger. They pick the most unflattering pictures of their opponents, usually with the person having her jaw slacked and eyes glazed over and some spinach stuck between the teeth. Well, I’m offended. If they respected our intelligence, they would talk about their strengths and how they would serve us Washingtonians and what they would do about the outrageous soy latte prices and the toxic infestation of hipsters and other issues that we actually care about.

What has our world come to when those we elect have so much time to be engaged in political battles? Don’t they have a job to do, such as vote for stuff and say stuff and sign stuff and tell their aides to schedule meetings? When the economy is this bad, when people are losing their jobs, when Lonestar got canceled after only two episodes on Fox, how can they afford the time to make attack ads and coordinate rallies?

And then to air those ads during TV shows is inexcusable. Sure, once a while, fine, but constantly? If they are trying to help the economy, they should move their ads aside so that we can watch regular commercials that will encourage us to go out and spend money. The economy will only get better if people buy more makeup and Axe deodorant products.

I am not sure if this adversarial debate format of political campaigning has actually led to very good leaders. With all of the corruption and debauchery discovered among the pool of elected officials every year, can we really say that the current system works? Maybe we need a new system. Here, I’ve thought of a few methods that might work better in these days and age. Rock Paper Scissors. Two out of three wins. It’s fast; it’s universally understandable so candidates of all backgrounds can compete.  Or, “Hell’s Lobby,” a reality TV show where mean celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay cusses out candidates as they try to get a bill passed. At the end of every episode, Ramsay dismisses the most inept candidate until one candidate finally remains. Along that line of thought, we can have a show called “The Man,” kind of like “Big Brother,” where all the candidates are forced to live with each other in one giant house. We’ll be able to quickly assess everyone’s personality and leadership style that way, because, let’s face it, who wants to vote someone for Senator who leaves their dishes in the sink for a week or who never takes out the trash?

The point is, until politicians become more entertaining, they need to stay out of my TV.

JN99: Am I unsophisticated? (Vote now!)

September 9, 2010

Dear everyone,

Recently the wife took me to a ballet performance, where I promptly fell asleep. It was some sort of story about a doll that came to life and fell in love with a guy. Or something. The production values were quite high, and the dancing very good, with the dancers spinning and pointing their toes and stuff. But as with parsley, NCIS, and daily hygiene, I just never understood the appeal. Jameelah woke me up at intercession, and we left.

For the past several days, I started thinking, Am I unsophisticated? My idea of the perfect evening is watching a movie rental with some friends and playing board games, or going to a comedy show. Then I took a break from thinking because the commercial was over and Two and a Half Men was back. But at the next commercial, I resumed thinking. What exactly is sophistication? The things that we deem to epitomize sophistication—going to the symphony, ballet, dressing up, sipping fine champagne and delighting in witty conversation while daintily snacking on tiny foods, etc.—are they even relevant anymore?

It might surprise you to know that the history of sophistication is long and complex, which is to say that I know nothing about it. A quick Googling reveals that it started hundreds and/or thousands of years ago. Back during the Cro-Magnon period, sophistication took a backseat to survival. Still, cavemen who could not build fire were shunned as unrefined, and those who were devoured by wild animals were seen as lower class and were often not invited to social gatherings. As society advanced and people had more time to waste, complicated unwritten rules and were formed to bring order through hierarchy. Different cultures started shaping this system. The French, for example, successfully brainwashed people into thinking that tiny foods called “h’ordeuvres” are a sign of refinement, while the Russians, at first as a practical joke, convinced people that overpriced salty fish eggs represented high class. These rules have become so widespread and so ingrained in our collective unconscious, forcing millions of people even today to on occasion use three forks and three spoons for one dinner while uncomfortably dressed, which if you think about it, is pretty ridiculous.

So the whole point of that was, am I really unsophisticated for falling asleep at the ballet, or is the concept of sophistication obsolete in these days and age? With the advancement in modern culture, why has the notion of sophistication still so static? We need to redefine what it means to be sophisticated. There are signs that this is happening in Seattle. For example, walking or biking has become a mark of the upper class, especially if it is to a farmer’s market. People who bring along their reusable cloth shopping bags are seen as worldly and elegant, while those who forget their bags might as well be lepers or M. Night Shyamalan, scorned by all.

So, let me ask you, does the concept of sophistication need to change? More importantly, am I unsophisticated? Send in your thoughts, or select one or more of the following below:

  1. No, the definition of sophistication does not need to change. The high arts are timeless. You are a buffoon.
  2. Yes, ballets and symphonies and all that stuff is out. Bring in composting and charity walkathons!
  3. Maw, that high-falutin’ vegan’s admitted he done fell ‘sleep at the city ballet show. He’s one a us now. Break out that moonshine!

All right, while you’re pondering that, I’m going to get me a jar of pickles and a mug of Merlot.

JN93: How do I impress these influential people?! Vote now!

July 7, 2010

Dear everyone,

It’s been a while since the last post, in which I had the Two-Fifth Life Crisis. Unfortunately, that has not been resolved and has rather intensified, kind of like a balsamic reduction sauce that sits on the stove and gets thicker and thicker while you watch The Mentalist and then it gets too thick and then you’re like, “What the hell, why did I even think I could pull off a balsamic reduction sauce?” You know what I mean?

Several things have happened since the last post. Jameelah and I bought our tickets to Cancun and will be going for three weeks in mid-July. It’ll be a much needed relaxing vacation, unless a hurricane comes through and we get splattered with oil from the Gulf Coast. It’ll be different than my usual vacation in Vietnam, mainly in that we don’t have to bring back 80 pounds of lotions, chocolates, and vitamins for the relatives, and we won’t be able to eat anything. We’re going to backpack around the Mayan ruins and scavenge for tamales not made with lard.

Work has been busy. Last week, I decided to drag the staff to a food bank to volunteer for a couple of hours, a change from what we normally do on a Wednesday morning, which is to stay in our respective four-by-four cubicles, cradling our knees and rocking back and forth. We met lots of great people, including a Bosnian or Ukrainian woman who was so grateful when I found her a rare can of black olives.

The people at the food bank usually wait in line for several hours before it opens. They are mainly old and don’t speak much English. It was really hard to enforce the “one item only” rule, so on occasion I had to break it. “Psst,” I whispered to a sweet old lady when the volunteer coordinator wasn’t looking, “quick, take it!” It was a tiny dented can of tomato paste, which she couldn’t have because she had already claimed a can of kidney beans. But I knew she really wanted it. She quickly put the tomato paste in her bag, grabbed my hand, pulled me closer, and patted me on the shoulder.

I’m glad for the volunteer experience. It really helped with the Two-Fifth Life Crisis. Like flossing, everyone should volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen. At least for a short time, it puts things into perspective. “Good morning, sir,” I said to an elderly man carrying an old suitcase, “how are you today?” His jacket was full of holes. “Blessed,” he said, “How are you, son?” I was speechless, letting the image of him reaching for a can of green beans settle on me. Outside, a hundred more people, many with young children, waited for their rations. It reminded me of the times, over two decades ago, my parents stood in those lines, and I joined them a couple of times. At the least, from this experience, I will never take canned goods for granted again. Except creamed corn.

Things have picked up lately, and I find my evenings and weekends filled with meetings. The budget committee I joined kicked into session. We’ll be responsible for proposing what to do with 15 million dollars of taxpayer money. It is filled with important people, including several well-known politicians and a university president. I feel intimidated, like a bunny in a room full of unicorns. During breaks, I don’t know what to do. The others start gravitating toward each other and say sophisticated stuff like, “What do you think of Initiative 1098? Do you think it’ll pass?” and “Did you read the latest research on early learning?” They are very smart and well connected people who dress very dapper and who have great hair, and they all compost their vegetable scraps. I think I might be the youngest and least experienced person on this 24-member committee. I feel awkward. Any advice? Here are some things I thought I could do to blend in with and get accepted by this group of influential people. Vote now, or send in your own thoughts!

  1. Stop wearing jeans and polo shirts that are stained with split-pea soup
  2. Invite the other committee members to coffee one-on-one, and ask them endless questions about themselves and laugh at every joke.
  3. Suggest innovative ideas that will blow the group over, including a “Unicycles for Guns” program, 3D television sets in every classroom, and a museum dedicated to pop-up books.
  4. Bring home-made spring rolls and blueberries for everyone
  5. Drink wine before every meeting to enhance natural charisma.
  6. Oh, Huy, you’re just awesome the way you are. Don’t try to impress anyone. You rock. And great hair. Have you been working out?
  7. Invent time machine, go back in time, convince self to not join committee, make bets on Spain and Germany in the World Cup, return to present.

OK, it’s 1:20 am, I better get ready for bed. I hope you have a good rest of the day. Don’t forget to floss.

JN90: Roth IRA and dumpster diving: the social worker’s retirement plan

May 19, 2010

Dear everyone,

Maybe it’s the weather—sunlight and warmth and pristine Spring air—or maybe it’s the 4 ounces of $13 habanero pepper-infused chocolate I had today, but for some reason, I feel extremely appreciative of crap. It’s a very strange feeling, since I’m so used to bitterness and sarcasm, but it made me realize just how lucky all of us are, to be alive, to have shelter, cable TV, access to flushing toilets, and tiny jars of jam at hotel continental breakfasts. When all the craziness went down with the house buying, I wrote a letter to one of my favorite restaurants, Columbia City Tutta Bella, whose staff are exceedingly nice. “Dear Sir/Madam,” I wrote, “I wanted to write to commend your staff for being some of the quickest, friendliest, and most reliable servers I’ve ever met. Your olives are incredible, and your servers are uniformly great. I’m coming back frequently, and I’m telling all my friends.”

A week later, the owner sent me a handwritten thank-you note thanking me for thanking him! “Dear Huy,” he wrote in delightful restaurant owner handwriting, “thank you for your note. The staff and I are thrilled to hear from you.”

I don’t know why that made me so happy, but it did. People are quick to complain about things (“The lines are too long,” “It’s too crowded at this restaurant,” “We haven’t been paid for 3 months, what sort of executive director are you?!” etc.) Many of us have forgotten how to be appreciative. But the gift of appreciation is one of the best gifts of all, and it usually costs no more than some paper and five minutes. It’s sad to see how spoiled kids are these days. The act of writing a thank-you note is as foreign to them as NOT spending 8 hours a day on Facebook. Still, appreciation is irrelevant of technology. When I have kids, I’ll be sure to force them to send a telepathic thank-you message through their built-in brain computers for every gift they get.

All right, the spicy chocolate has worn off, so now it’s back to bitterness and sarcasm. Apparently, I was chosen among the dozens of applicants for this committee that is tasked with allocating several million dollars next year. It’ll be fun. I’m sure I’ll be hated by many.

In other news, Jameelah and I went and talked to a financial advisor, a fast-talking shirt-and-tie type named Tim, to help us unravel the mysteries of retirement plans. Why? Because we have nothing in retirement. When I decided to go into social work, I resigned myself to a life of a scavenger, dumpster-diving behind a Whole Foods store and buying clothing by the pound at Goodwill. Retirement would be eked out of selling my collection of kitchen gadgets on eBay. (You laugh now, but one day, this olive pitting machine will sell for thousands as an antique). It really hasn’t been as bad as the parents painted it. However, investing isn’t all that easier, either. Retirement is a nebulous, confusing system, and talking to Tim didn’t exactly help. This is what he sounded like: “Now, a 403b is different than a 401K. Based on the valence bond theory, if your orbitals hybridize in your Roth IRA, then you should be able to use your savings when you turn 59 and a-half, provided the Schrödinger equation works out in your favor.”

59 and a half?! Tim didn’t know why it’s “and a half.” Such a weird number. Can anyone tell me why it’s a half?

Anyway, we’re meeting with him again this week to further discuss our options. I guess we should be appreciative of the fact that we currently have no stocks, bonds, real estate, or any investments of any kind to worry about.

JN88: Ask Jagged Noodles, romantic advice for Asians and those who love us

April 20, 2010

Dear everyone,

This weekend Jameelah and I went to the tulip festival. Surrounded by peaceful fields of colors, we were able to resist the urge to strangle stupid kids and couples who plucked tulips left and right. For some wacky reasons, there were a lot of Indians and Vietnamese people there. Apparently they really love tulips. Here are some pictures I took with my little digital camera, some using a special feature that lets me isolate one color and make everything else black and white, which allows me to make some pictures look kinda cool, while not having to do much work. Here, check out the pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/jaggednoodles/TulipFestival2010#

On a different topic, I’ve decided to try my hand at writing an advice column for the published column of Jagged Noodles this week. We don’t have advice columns for Asian people! It’s probably either because we Asians are too shy to seek help in such a public way, or that we’re too busy making potstickers and eating them with soy sauce and hot chili oil while doing calculus. But we all know that Asians have problems just like anyone else (those potstickers can be really sticky, for instance). Today, JN will answer some questions about love that readers have emailed in:

Dear Jagged Noodles: I am an Asian American woman who has never dated an attractive API man. How do I get hot API men to ask me out? I don’t have this problem with men of other races.—Frustrated in Chinatown.

Dear Frustrated: You are looking for the rare Triple A combination: An Attractive, Assertive API. When they do exist, they usually become humor columnists and are taken very quickly. If you don’t want to wait, I suggest you prioritize two of those three A’s. I’d leave out attractive, unless you work on a Korean soap opera set and like men who are prettier than women.

Dear Jagged Noodles: We are an Asian couple, and my girlfriend won’t roll my spring rolls for me. Whenever I go to her parents’ house, her mom always serves her dad. She refuses to do it and tells me to fix my own plate.—Rock’n’NoRolls

Dear Rock’n’No’Rolls: This is the twilight of Asian men’s culturally-sanctioned machochistic behaviors. It is time we contribute equally to the household chores: wash the dishes, take care of the kids, and roll our own spring rolls. I suggest you happily do it, or else be prepared for solitary manipulations of other similarly-shaped objects.

Dear Jagged Noodles: My boyfriend hates PDA. Whenever I try to hold his hand or kiss him in public, he scoffs and says it’s inappropriate. Am I selfish to expect him to show some affection in public once a while and let other people know we’re together?—Lonely at the Mall

Dear Lonely: You are completely wrong, and your advocacy of such vileness and depravity is abominable. I keep small rocks in my pocket to throw at people like you. When you are in public, you sign an unwritten social contract that governs how people are supposed to act toward each other. Being outside your home now involves other people. What if they have strong religious objections? What if they don’t want their children to see you showing affection? Their right to be comfortable in public trumps your desire to have fun. Videotape yourselves making out and post it on the internet instead. Send me the link.

Dear Jagged Noodles: My fiancé keeps texting and hanging out with his ex without me. He says I can’t dictate who his friends are. What should I do?—Too Close for Comfort

Dear TCFC: Babe? Is that you? Look, I told you, she’s just going through a rough time and needs someone to talk to, OK? I’m trying to help her out. Jeeze. I have to write my column. Can we talk about this later? Love you. Can you make me a fajita?

Dear Jagged Noodles: My Vietnamese boyfriend has been called a Communist by my father. How can I tell if he’s really a Communist?—Concerned

Dear Concerned: To find out whether someone is a Commie or not, it’s best to insert references into casual conversation. For example, “Hey, what do you want to do tonight? We can see a movie, eat in, or would you rather incite proletarian revolution?”

That’s all the time we have. Send your questions to jaggednoodles@gmail.com. Until next time, roll your own spring rolls.

JN87: We should build a giant Plexiglas bubble to keep out illegal immigrants

April 15, 2010

Dear readers, every once in a while, even a silly humor columnist must delve into serious issues of national importance. Now that the Democrats have passed major healthcare reform, they should use the momentum to pass other important measures. Comprehensive immigration reform, for example, may be the next policy that the Obama Administration tackles. However, I have a more effective idea. What we should do is build a giant Plexiglas dome around the US, a solid, clear dome made of light-weight plastic covering the contiguous states. It would be the biggest project in the history of the world, dwarfing the Pyramids and the Great Wall, and when finished, it will be something we can all be proud of, a work of both art and pragmatism.

If you think about it, the old idea of building an 800-mile wall along the border of Mexico and the US to solve the problem of illegal immigration is just ridiculous. A good number of people with enough determination will still be able to get around such a wall. A giant bubble covering the mainland states, on the other hand, should put a complete stop to all illegal immigration, as anyone from Mexico who tries to scale this dome to get into the US would only slide harmlessly into Canada, and vice-versa.  

Besides keeping out illegal immigrants, the giant dome will protect us from other foreign aggressors. Let’s face it, even with our new president, the US is still not all that well-regarded. With so many countries holding grudges, it is best we beef up our national defense. Currently, all fifty states are vulnerable to missile attacks. Once the dome is built, enemy missiles will just explode harmlessly against the Plexiglas (which is seven times stronger than glass!). We’ll save a ton of money that would otherwise be used in more wishy-washy means of national defense, like diplomacy.

With all this talk of illegal aliens and foreign aggressors, we lose sight of another potential threat: aggressive extraterrestrial aliens. Every year the number of earthlike planets discovered increases, along with UFO sightings and reported abductions. A giant Plexiglas dome will ease our minds as it protects us from potential alien death rays. 

Of course, implementing such a project will not be quick and simple. Engineers will have to take care of such logistical issues as making sure the dome does not magnify sunlight and cause buildings and people to burst into flames, and occasionally we’ll have to hire low-wage laborers to scale the dome to remove bird droppings. It will be expensive, but we must think of the bubble as an investment not just in the future of our country, but also of the world. I just read a short story by Theodore Sturgeon called “Microcosmic God.” In this story, a scientist living on an island creates a race of tiny but very intelligent beings who evolve at light speed and make profound scientific and cultural advancements. Word gets off the island, and mean, lying people steal these advancements and use them to evil ends, forcing the scientist and his creations to throw an impenetrable force field around the entire island. They live happily, isolated in their dome, while the rest of the world carries on destroying itself.

The point of that story is this: The world is starting to go downhill. Illegal immigrants keep trying to break in, and hostile countries or extraterrestrial aliens might be attacking at anytime. It is therefore in our best interest to build a giant indestructible Plexiglas dome around the US. Then, if the world should ever collapse about us, with angry Martians and/or North Koreans firing death rays, we will be safe and calm within our bubble, watching “American Idol” and eating fries, comfortable in our bastion of freedom and democracy. Years later, when things settle down, we would emerge to rebuild the planet.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be at my desk, writing a letter to Nancy Pelosi.


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