Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Hamsters in the Walls

It was another normal night at the Newman household, when a seemingly benign proposal was made.

After much pleading and convincing, the Newman children eventually received an advance on their inheritance.

The kids were thrilled to have a new pet to play with, until they were suddenly faced with the harsh truth of reality.

Concessions were made, and the siblings enjoyed their adequate replacements, but couldn't help but immediately fall into barbed rivalry.

No sooner were their acquisitions acquired did the children lose their property again, and then deflected all blame onto the absent party. 
 Search parties looking for the missing pets were met with unfavorable results.
Empty mass graves were erected to placate the emotions of the grieving party, and to commemorate those who had died for so little.
With so much unwelcome failures, the head of the Newman household authoritatively decided to put a stop to the unproductive results of supply and demand.
With no more troublesome pets running around, the heads of the Newman household figured their troubles were over, but their days of terror had just begun.
The restless hamsters in the walls were implacable, and would not cease to rest until the dawn of the new morn.
Outside parties loathed the long-standing household for bringing back painful memories regarding flesh-searing pain.
Hours and minutes, days and nights began to blur together with no variation or indication of how much time had progressed between periods of awareness.
Restless nights without relief inevitably brought increasing methods of desperation, driving the home owner to previously unknown levels of insanity.
Knowing that there were hamsters in the walls was unbearable, but not knowing how long they would remain there was worse.
Attempts and traps were made to lure the animals out of hiding, only to have the elusive rodents relocate to another floor.
The horror was only multiplied when it was slowly revealed that the hamsters in the walls were reproducing as well, and the household owners were held responsible.
Unending days of burrowing sounds were temporarily relieved when the ceaseless noises abruptly... stopped.
With much reluctance, it was decided the internal conflict could be avoided no longer, and an abrupt hasty excavation was deemed necessary to relieve the unbearable tension.
After much exploration within the unusually vast caverns, eventually, an opening was found which reluctantly revealed the source of the maddening scratching.
The lasting impressions and traumatic experiences of the sole survivor hunched over countless bodies relayed a story that would be considered unbelievable.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Eastmost Victoria has a Secret


February's Milk ads...
Powdered milk
Perfect Union Agency
Wouldn't it be better to wait inside?
It's freezing out here!
Stay if you want, I can't stand it!  I'm leaving!
Ugh!  I've been waiting an hour for you!
I just can't get into abstract art... how 'bout you?
Lastly, a slightly NSFW image behind the cut:

Friday, January 29, 2016

Mangled Franglish

When it comes to translating one language to another, there are potential pitfalls that come from not fully understanding the social ramifications of the individual words you're using that are close approximations to what you're used to in your home language.  Not to mention all the conflicting uses of punctuation that spell the crucial difference between Going to Hospital, and Going to The Hospital.  One of the trickiest things to convey is correctly showing someone unintentionally misusing language.  At best, you have amusing Engrish that permeate the pop culture landscape, and at worst, becomes almost intelligible.

The Batman Odyssey, a marvelously insane comic, had a joint summary between two comic fans, David Wolkin and Laura Hudson who gave a hilarious recap that was far more comprehensible and entertaining than the actual comic.  They also cleared up some of the more baffling narrative choices that would've been completely incomprehensible for lesser minds.  To put it in their own words, "Every time I think The Batman Odyssey can't get any crazier, it suddenly does."  Each subsequent issue gradually ramped up the madness factor to the extent that by the time the last few issues came out, they'd given up attempting to tackle it out of sheer desperation and exhaustion.  David threw the comic away after reading a few pages, and after another issue, he was so traumatized he had to get a kitten to recuperate.  (There was some moving involved too, which may have been a factor)  It's been suggested that there be a Brave & Bold episode adaption as examined by Bat-Mite, with Mr. Mxyzptlk and Ambush Bug in a kind of Mystery Science Theater 3000 tribute.

At the very last recap, a commenter, Ben Freeman made the following observation:
The most fascinating thing about Batman Odyssey is how close it can come to making sense. Take "Acquit yourself, you kung fu movie guru", for example - it's not so very hard to see how that line is SUPPOSED to work. It would look fine (if still a little odd for Killer Croc) as "Is that all you've got, you Splinter wannabe?" or "Fight back, Mister Miyagi" or what have you. But somehow, the actual words on the page have been chosen from synonyms which form a sentence that nobody would ever actually say. And the ENTIRE COMIC is like that. It's like the script was somehow run through Google Translate into and out of Korean or something.
Sadly, this results in even some of the comic's pretty cool moments (like Batman instantly knowing that Deadman has possessed someone because they switch from left to right handed) being rendered into surreal nonsense ("right-handed. other stuff.") And Adams' tendency to have every character speak entirely in sentence fragments separated by ellipses only muddies the waters further.

Still, the script's tendency towards total screaming madness did give us the line "and octopus of a thing - and I have but an inkling!", which has since become a catchphrase of mine, so it's not all bad news.
On the other end of the spectrum are comics that've been translated into one language, then re-translated into another.  As with photocopying from various sources, something is bound to get lost in the process.  Especially if the re-translation is too faithful.  One of my linguistic challenges when reading a badly translated piece is to try to rework the text around to a more condensed readable form.
In this instance from Shin Tekken Chinmi, the above page seems perfectly normal at first glance.  But after browsing several pages in quick succession, you gradually begin to notice that the speech pattern doesn't flow as smoothly as it should.  For instance, the following dialogue could be modified like so:

Sailor: Taste the water.
Chinmi: It's salty!
Chinmi: The river is spilling into the sea!
Shuufan: Our boat trip is almost over.
Chinmi: Tantan!  Wake up, Tantan! (Unchanged)
Tantan: Ugh, don't bother me... I'm seasick...
Chinmi: We're at the bay.  We're gonna see the sea soon.

See how much easier and faster it is to follow?  For typical elementary Shonen-type Mangas like these, large clunky words slow down the narrative.  Estuary is the technically correct term, but it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.  If English teachers wanted to motivate their students, they could have them correct online work, then make the necessary modifications where necessary, since pointing out other's faults is more fun than concentrating on your own.

In my instance, I almost wound up doing some self-correction of my own.  District 14, a wonderfully inventive series is set in an alternative 1920s civilization where humans and anthropomorphic animals are caught in a conflict involving themes of journalism, protection rackets, psychic mediums, illegal aliens and an immigrant elephant's backstory has allusions and callbacks to War & Peace.  The story takes so many inventive twists and turns that I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next, and I looked forward to seeing the next page.  About halfway through the first season, there was an incident involving some French cats, and at first, I thought the translator made an amateur mistake.  But then I quickly realized it was intentional.

In this instance, in the second panel, when he says "keep the brain busy", he really means "keep your mind occupied".  The purpose of such an act is to make the reader think about a character's manner of speech, and as such, resist temptation in making their script free of errors, so that some linguistic mistakes still make their way through.

One of the best examples of intentional mangled English comes from the PBS classical adaption of Agatha Christie's Poirot, as portrayed by the definitive and inimitable David Suchet.  I was able to enjoy watching the episodes again after the latest re-release on DVD finally acknowledged my complaints and had subtitles added to them.  In one of the episodes, Captain Hastings talked about abstract art, and how you need to view it in a different way to fully understand what you're seeing - that a transparent outline could show both the front and back of a person.  For years, I was continuously perplexed as to what the opening image was supposed to be.  It looked like a sword in midair, next to a moon, that suddenly became deformed, then windowpanes of the Belgian Detective would taper down the middle.

It wasn't until I paused the screen before the crucial eye-catching distracting detail that I finally noticed the significance of the warped sword - it was actually a profile of Poirot himself, with the edges of the sword acting as a representation of his mustache.

One of the most amusing things is how often Poirot (not a Frenchman, but a Belgian!) continuously gets certain English phrases just slightly wrong:

That may be to your profit (advantage)
Is there nothing Poirot cannot turn his finger? (hand?)
Yes, we pull ever gently the leg.  (pulling your leg)
And on the debit side? (bad side)
I am in something of a difficulty.  (quandary)
What's the word?  Bloater?  Kipper?  (Red herring)
She is close to the breakthrough.
We'll be out.  Hold the castle.  (fort)
Better the safeness than the sorrow.
We must not try to walk before we can jump.  (look before we leap)
Wonders will never stop.  (cease)
I need a... lampe de poche.  What is that, a lamp of the pocket?  Torch!
Twins?  Yes, two pins in a pot.  (peas in a pod)

Still very far from being the species extinct.
Not suitable for the humour.
Do not be stinting with your praise.  (damning with faint praise)
Running up the wrong tree.
I'm still a force to be calculated. (reckoned with)
The case is dried and cut.
The quickness of the hand deceives the eye.
He's mad - taking leave of his rocker.
There should not be the sleepy dogs.  (let sleeping dogs lie)
He's been sold a pup.  (a dog)
Barking up the wrong bush.
Kindly do not band together against Poirot.  (gang up against Poirot)
The appearance of being above the board.

Shortly after compiling this list, I came up with a Poirotism of my own:

My senses have left.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

What is the Form of a Question?

This Monday, viewers were treated to a rare feat on Jeopardy!  By sheer chance, every single contestant decided to wager everything they'd won onto the Final Jeopardy! question... only for all three to lose their savings in one fell swoop.  This kind of occurrence has only happened six times during Jeopardy!'s 50+ year run.  At least it didn't happen during a Tournament of Champions.

An actual 3-way Tournament of Champions tie would be an incredible upset, resulting in audience outrage.  Not long ago last year, we were treated to the exploits of a rather remarkable achievements of a young paralegal who came out of nowhere to dominate the Jeopardy! board.  Online reaction was mixed, being amazed and appalled at Matt Jackson's autistic-like ability to perfectly time his answers as soon as Alex Trebek confirmed they were right.  Those haters weren't looking forward to having another contestant who'd keep staying on the game for what looked like months on end.

They reminded me (naturally!) of an early MAD satire of a gameshow starring a contestant who was rather unpopular, despite his impressive ability of accurately making rapid-fire predictions down to the decimal point.  In between rounds, we found out some interesting trivia about Matt Jackson, including the fact that he had a Jewish mother and a Christian father, as well as a twin brother.

During Matt Jackson's run, Alex Trebek mentioned that previous champions were hoping that he'd keep up his winning streak, since they were terrified of having to face up against him for the Tournament of Champions.

In one particular Daily Double (Oct. 7), Matt Jackson bet the sum of "Five" in a Music category. (WHY he kept persisting in a category he was having trouble with is a mystery)  After making the wager, Alex said "$5000?  Alright then, here's the clue..." to which Matt Jackson got wrong, but a measly $5 was deducted from his score, which was a major factor, because it was still a close game; and Matt Jackson lived to play for another day.

As it turned out, the latest contender for breaking Ken Jennings' 74-day record ended after a mere 13 days, losing to Michael Baker after being overconfident in betting in Final Jeopardy!, but then it was a very close game, having just a $200 advantage over his closest competitor.  Michael Baker seemed like a worthy replacement... only to wind up losing the very next day.

When shown in the Tournament of Champions, Matt Jackson's introduction, whose trademark of opening with raised fingers of his running streak, and a creepy unwavering timed smile was inverted by opening up with a smile that tapered down to a disappointed smile.  That reversal could've been considered prophetic, considering how disappointing Matt Jackson's results were.

In the semi-finals, he continued his usual pattern of racking up maddening numbers of moolah, easily outpacing the other opponents.  But then he fell apart after reaching the 2-day final rounds.  His strategy of quickly pressing the buzzer and choosing the mid-number categories to get the Daily Doubles faster only works if he's the only one implementing that strategy.  His contender, Alex Jacob, who copied that tactic to great effect left Matt Jackson constantly playing catch-up.  Losing valuable money on wrong Daily Double answers didn't help Matt either, and by the end of the first Final Jeopardy!, he'd lost most of the money he'd made, despite impressively keeping pace once he finally got his rhythm going.

Also, in deference to Matt Jackson's line of rapid-fire answering, Alex Jacob used the counter-intuitive method on every Daily Double by taking his sweet time giving an answer, looking constantly worried, then popping a question... which would turn out to be right every time.  The man certainly knew how to play his audience.

As it turns out, answering Jeopardy! questions isn't as easy as it looks.  In addition to being prepared, there's the overhead studio lights and mounting pressure to keep up the pace, even when you win multiple games in a row.  Eventually, that strain begins to build over your head until you crack.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Absence of Valise

You notice all kinds of weird things while browsing old online newspaper archives.  For starters, due to rushing the scanning process and lack of double-checking the source material, some pages are accidentally posted twice.  And other gap in the dates are filled in previous dates that run together that were never divided.  For instance, you can look up an article in say, November 28, 1985, and find a paper wasn't available that day, because they were celebrating Thanksgiving, thus yesterday's date would double-up on their features which would compensate for the lack of a paper the following day.

But this wasn't just regulated to national holidays - it happened sporadically.  There are wide swatches of missing patches scattered here and there, which makes finding archived quality comics a nightmare for anyone who didn't bother to keep a subscription to every published newspaper ever.

And then, there are the scanning errors.

This probably isn't how it originally appeared in the pages, but I like how Jeff's (the father) face is distorted in the second panel, because it looks like he's in one of those non-twinning in-between frames from multiple hand-drawn animated cartoons.  (Something that 3D animation has yet to perfect)

Another feature is that some newspaper comics used to have advertising of available book collections of the most popular strips in the margins.  Nowadays, you're more likely to see that kind of self-promotion in the cover header of the latest scanlated issue.  (which explains the wide empty spaces at the beginning and end of every chapter)

With the majority of newspaper comic content being readily available online, there isn't much impetus to seek out other comics for their low-impact humour since audiences are more likely to stick with the material they're most familiar with.  Having a singular page showing one strip at a time isn't close enough to the newspaper comic model.  The closest equivalent would be one large page that'd show every single comic that'd appear on that day.  Such a model would be an assault on their bandwidth, but it'd give audiences a wider range of samples to draw from.
This Dilbert strip is actually made worse by the lack of the middle panel
One feature that's been largely eliminated is the prospect of missing or absent comics.  For the most part, these were hand-waved away by dint of being unsuitable or controversial enough for the family content of a newspaper.  (Whose rationale for attracting reader numbers is the motto "If it Bleeds, it Leads")
If the middle panel had a suitcase, the title post would make more sense.
These strips would usually be replaced by other comics or older material.  (Pogo was notorious for having Bunny strips for its impenetrable political comics)  Considering their disposable nature, and that today's cartoonists are required to take mandatory vacations, it's surprising that other cartoonists didn't get the chance to jump in and try to substitute as a guest strip for a trial period.  Then again, some comics are so popular with certain newspaper subscribers that they're usually the only reason they bother to stay on, so removing them (even temporarily) is a risky prospect.  Calvin & Hobbes spent almost 2 years on sabbatical, but remained endearing, so there's 7 1/2 years of material within its 10-year run.

Nowadays, if there's a comic that's been banned from the pages for one reason or another (recall Opus' Burqa issue), it's just a matter of a quick search result to find the offending material, and wonder what the fuss was all about.  (Unless you're on a limited-information dictatorship plan)  But back then, there was another kind of self-censorship that had nothing to do with imposing values.  I'm referring to the most dreaded quote of debt collectors and editorial feedback: "Your submission got lost in the mail."
Back then, cartoons were shipped forward and back via a shipping process that for one reason or another, wasn't entirely reliable.  Such a method using snail mail would be considered unthinkable today.  Even more unusual would be if multiple comics happened to be "lost" along the way.
Normally under unusual circumstances, missing or mangled comics would get a correction with a proper image on the second page the next day.  But I can assure you that no such compensation was given for these comics.  Not that much would've been missed with these particular strips, but still, having 1/5th of your intended reading material cut off without any backup is kind of an insult.  Fortunately, as far as I can tell, this kind of thing didn't happen often.  Of course, that's only judging from the available online stuff.  The online archives for other papers which require a paying subscription to access their contents is still out of my reach.  I have no intention of giving away good money without sampling the wares.  (i.e., what comics those newspapers have)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

We Stand on Guard: For Who?


Brian K. Vaughan's latest comic proposal, We Stand on Guard, of the US invading Canada sounded interesting on proposal, but loses me in it's execution, even with the addition of a bilingual guard robot. Part of the problem is that it's written by an American, and not co-written by actual Canadians who'd give some authenticity to the franchise. The ragtag team at the end of the preview (their tiny Canadian flag tags notwithstanding) posing with guns (to appear cool) didn't exactly fill me with confidence.  And by the 6th and last issue, any enthusiasm was universally panned.

For the most part, Canadians are regularly ignored, and perk up whenever Americans stand up and notice any of our contributions we've done that normally fall under their scandal-watching radar.  Part of the problem is that Americans know very little about Canada, which is especially troubling since according to a multiple-choice survey, 1/3 of American 8th Graders thought Canadians were a Dictatorship, along with Australia and France.  This wasn't borne from a deep internal reflection of our last political party, but from massive guesswork of limited choices.  They thought that given their current standard of living, any other place would be considerably worse off, since who Wouldn't want to be an American???  The unwelcome answer is: not everyone.  People take a kind of jingoist pride in their own countries the same way Americans do in theirs - they just express it differently.

Generally speaking, Canadians have a different attitude and mentality that isn't easily fit for mass consumption.  Our left-leaning politics is more of a passive-aggressive stance.  We're more likely to win our battles through political manipulation than with outright overkill.  Stephen Harper tried to win his Prime Minister term with scaremongering, reminiscent of typical American election rulebooks, but his strong-arm tactics and single stranglehold over the party (along with unpopular decisions* and scandals that were coming to light) were enough to deem him undesirable, and welcome back the Liberal party, despite their Sponsorship scandal.  Boring, but practical, that's us.

Q. What's the worst insult you can give a Canadian?  A. Calling them Americans.

Indeed, a general complaint about Canadians is that we're notoriously difficult to pin down because of our lack of identity.  While that could be considered a fault, it also works as a plus, since it frees us from being strictly adhered to any one overall ideal.  But that also has a dark undercurrent for the Ugly Canadian - we're the only country that defines ourselves by what we're not.  Our singular identifying bragging feature is that we're not Americans.
"Okay, we might have a looming deficit, but at least we're not as bad as the Americans!"
"Okay, we've got rampant police brutality, but at least we're not as bad as the Americans!"
"Okay, we've got a long history of unfair treatment towards the Aboriginal First Nations, but at least we're not as bad as the Americans!"
If Brian K. Vaughan wanted to give a better portrayal of Canadians, he should've at least considered the plausible ways that Canada could protect itself from an invasion force that for all likes and purposes, overwhelm them by sheer firepower alone. The best Canadian strategy would be to hit them before the Americans could deploy the nuclear option - they wouldn't even HAVE to deploy a strike anywhere on our land - just melt the polar caps enough to flood our land beyond submission. The surest way to protect yourself against a force you're overly familiar with is to determine the most extreme solution, and then guard against that. (A gun's useless if you can't pull the trigger)

"The main aim of this policy would not be to actually fight a war, but to make it clear that the war will be so costly and so bloody that you don't want to fight it."

Of course, a better authentic portrayal would be if he'd gotten some consultation advice from an ACTUAL Canadian.  Preferably, someone who'd served in the armed services.  (The artist doesn't count - he's Spanish)  After hearing this proposal, I started thinking about all the kinds of ways that would prompt an attack.  What would be the impetus for the US to invade Canada in the first place? My first guess was that they'd want full access to our water supply, after inadvertently poisoning their reserves beyond saving. Sure, crude oil is necessary for moving large swaths of transportation around for a circulatory system of goods and people, but NOBODY can survive without water. People deprived of resources they need to live would be willing to do ANYTHING, no matter the cost, even at the expense of all else. This could be one realm where Government Bureaucracy (where Canadian excel) wouldn't be of much use.  Hostage negotiations and prisoner exchanges could be used to convince the other side to give up in exchange for some quality life-giving water.

But we didn't get any of that.  We were treated to scenes of soldiers traversing frozen wastelands, with none of the environmental hazards present.  Nor were we presented with scenarios such as preparing for warmer climates and shifting weather patterns or any background details of changing wet socks from accidentally stepping into ankle-deep waters.  If there's one topic that unites Canadians, it's the weather.  Americans have a generally stable weather system, with only occasional earthquakes and hurricanes to deal with.  But deal a little snow on the highways, and the whole city goes under, because they can't handle a little slippage, inadvertently causing car-pile-ups and traffic jams.  This isn't an egotistical slant - Canadians are just as guilty of this, because the instant a few flakes start falling, we're more concerned on getting to Point B than wasting time putting on time/life-saving snow tires.

Furthermore, for a war on water, there's surprisingly little account of coping with a water shortage, or using water-based substitutes, which would be vastly interesting.  Instant powdered foods would have to be rethought without any water additives in them.  Army showers are generally timed to make the most of their limited two-minute use - dampen the skin down, then apply soap, then rinse.  Hand sanitizers while clean, aren't as effective as good old soap & water.

There's talk of the War of 1812 where Canada fought against the US and won, but no mention of any of the tactics they used.  One particularly memorable anecdote is that before the White House was burned down, soldiers verified that the place was empty, but the President's dinner was ready.  At which point they started devouring the contents of the table and wine shelves.  When everything was eaten and drunk, the Captain said "My compliments to the cook!" before setting fire to the place.

In the event that the US (or another country) tries to invade us again, we've got various fail-safes set in place. Our bridges are designed to be blown apart at a moment's notice, which may explain our crumbling infrastructures, because they were never intended to remain standing for so long. (There's been years of corruption tied to our construction industry for this very reason)  Not that our spaghetti highways are easy to navigate in the first place, but why make it easy for our enemies?

So, how does this story start out by going into the great Canada/US divide?  By going into a blatant historical screed of Superman.  As interesting as the backstory of the founding background of Metropolis is, it feels somewhat out of place for what amounts to a border civil war.  One could say that the major difference between the creators of Batman and Superman was that Bob Kane knew how to manipulate the American Comic business to his whims, and Sigel and Shuster didn't.

The reason We Stand on Guard rings false is that it's more of a political metaphor for the Iraq War than a commentary on the political divisions between two superficially similar countries.  Pretty much any stories about the past or future are cautionary allegories for what's happening in the present, but they should also be an examination of how such rash decisions could potentially be avoided.  It's been suggested Brian K. Vaughan's stories are reflections of his inability to get over 9-11, and that certainly seems to be the case here.

Too much of We Stand on Guard's attention is focused on the jingoist fantasy appeal of a small rebellious group banding together to overthrow a corrupt government.  That setup relies and feeds on the lie that a band of trained outcasts can somehow stand up to overthrow a corrupt government.  A government that has access to unlimited supplies.  And loads of high-tech weaponry.  And elite men willing to follow orders.  Which could be safely executed miles away from their position.  Their resources would vastly overwhelm any potential outlaws.  And that's before the government'd get the media on their side.  The fantasy that one determined man can make a difference by waving their magic gun in the direction of their oppressors will make all their potential problems go away is a seductive one.  (Not that Americans tried to take their country back by force when Bush Jr. was in charge)

It also conveniently overlooks the fact that Canadians invaders could easily pass themselves off as Americans by simply aping their patriotic appeal while firing guns in the air, and using that as a pretext for buying more ammunition.  (Of course, it would have to be white people getting ammo, since other races would be frowned upon, and draw too much attention)  The challenge would be in presenting authentic forged documents to buy said ammo, though that wouldn't be too much of an obstacle, given how free Americans are about their gun rights.  What WOULD be more interesting would've been for said bunch is if they had to rationalize on their dwindling sources, and how to make the most use of every remaining bullet effectively.

The inverse would be less than true, since American spies trying to ape themselves as Canadians without prior knowledge would be easily caught using a variation of the Rick Mercer report.  Rather than try to convince us of their heritage via trivia (naming the Prime Minister, Provinces & Territories), give them the task of creating an igloo or canoe.  If they seem more eager than reluctant to the task, call them out on it.  (If they're heavily versed in wilderness living, see the extent of their knowledge, and whether they differ between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts)

A. Sure!  I'll get right on it.
B. Are you MAD?!  I don't know beans about doing that!  Never learned how!
C. Well, the surrounding material's all wrong for that, but if that's what you want...
D. This is how I've always done it.  What's wrong with it?

Alternately, it could be a case of two sides feeling each other out, and avoiding answering potentially loaded questions.

"What's your favorite Hockey team?  The Raptors or the Expos?" (Basketball and Baseball)
"I don't really follow sports."
"Well, what's your favorite Canadian TV program?"
"I much more prefer the American stuff."
"Me too.  Any show in particular you like so far?"
"Well, there's (insert futuristic show title here)."
"I haven't seen it, but heard good things.  How'd you see it?"
"Same as anybody - illegal downloads."
"Yeah?  Which server do you use?"
"The same as anybody else's."
"You got an address?"
"DomainNameDotCom"
"...Com?"
"I mean Ca."

If we wanted to make this an ideological war, we could intentionally target potentially problematic generals who have a long history of sending their soldiers into suicide missions.  Intentionally removing these obstacles would spread confusion among the American ranks, since our deliberate targeting would operate under the pretext of "Don't make us hurt you."  However, chances are they could interpret this Canadian message as being "weak", and come after us in greater force.  At which point we'd have no choice but to retaliate in kind.

To stand a better chance against the Americans, we should pair up with Australians (another widely underestimated / caricatured country), since history has shown that when teamed up, they wind up vastly intimidating the enemy.  "Woe betide any who fight against us."  If that's not our motto, it SHOULD be.
"The U.S.A. is the antagonist of this story, but Steve [Skroce] and I never wanted to portray them as two-dimensional, mustache-twirling villains." - Brian K. Vaughan
Despite assurances that he wanted to portray sympathetic flawed representations of both sides, the US wound up being political strawmen after all.  It's probably difficult to accurately portray a Socialist society when you've been raised up in a Capitalist society, convinced that all Americans have the right to Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness, and you're up against a country whose less-than-catchy motto is Peace, Order and Good Government.  The thing is, Socialism isn't a bad thing when done properly.

It doesn't help that he's harping on old traits he's already familiar with.  The sensitive issues that're raised up are already outdated by the time they hit print (using holographic fireboarding in place of waterboarding) despite the fact that it's been proven that torture tactics don't work for gaining accurate information from resistant soldiers unwilling to give up their sources.


A better analogy would be how purer water sources are reserved for the very rich, and polluted dirty water is outletted to poorer regions.  Then blame could be outsourced to Northern outsiders having access to wider expanses of cleaner water as a way of diverting attention away from the actual perpetrators of the crime.  Some corporations have even gone so far as to hold their water reserves hostage until their customers pony up enough money to sample their wares.  Privatizing water they claim, is a monopoly, not a human right.  Even collecting wellwater or rainwater is frowned upon and against the law in certain states, because that water is "someone else's property", so it needs to be dumped for vague reasons.  Especially upsetting is how Nestle drained water not just from poor countries, but also various US states and one Canada Province as well.  The previous Harper government gave Nestle unlimited permission to pump as much water from Hillsburgh, Ontario, upon which they "pay $3.71 for every million litres of water it pumps... which it then... sells back to the public for as much as $2 million.", making a 53,908,255% profit.

There were so many potentially interesting avenues that could've been taken, and they were all squandered away for a typical feel-bad story.  Brian K. Vaughan suffers from the same problems and weaknesses as Naoki Urasawa.  Both authors are both great at spinning yarns that have attention-grabbing cliffhangers, but have remarkably weak endings to all that buildup.  They're not as bad as Stephen King, whose overwritten horror prose is fraught with too much build-up, and not enough payoff, but it's just as annoying.  If anything, it's another exercise for wasted potential.

While Canadians have managed to succeed with underwhelming weapons against overwhelming odds, chances are still high that we would still fail the instant Americans start getting serious about overtaking us.

"Please.  The odds are clearly stacked up against us.  It's just a matter of time before we're fed some misinformation, or we're rushed by soldiers who happened to catch a pattern or reading we failed to notice."
"If you're so dubious about our chances of success, why are you standing up for a belief you don't even believe in?"
"HMM!  Good question.  That's a very good question!"
(Long pause)
(Even longer protracted silence)
"Sir?"
"If you're expecting an answer, you're going to be disappointed."

It's not that we're vehemently opposed to their ideology (though America-bashing is practically a national pastime over here, finely tuned to an art form), we just disagree with how they handle most of their internal policies.  A country operating over the impetus that anyone can be what they strive to be, doesn't mean much if a certain entitled demographic vastly outpaces 99% of the other living citizens.  We look at how they've handled things, and feel (and know) that we could do better.  It's Socialism Vs. Capitalism, but through the lens that "Socialism isn't bad when done right."  Capitalism's been ruling the US policy for decades, and how well has it worked out for people not in the top 1%?  It doesn't help that our identity is continuously squashed by our boisterous louder neighbors constantly vying for attention.

The irony is, the US and Canada are similar enough to the extent where usage of "We're not that different, you and me", would be put to perfect use.  The closest we came to a successful Canada Vs. the US parody was Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon.  Sadly, the scaremongering newscast was the best part of the movie.  Once you've seen that, don't bother with the rest.

Maybe someday we'll have a worthy satirical takedown of our tenuous relationship with our Southern neighbors filled with pathos, but not today.

*The Conservative Party's last straw was probably the intended dismantling of postal service to the protest of many (including a mayor who took a jackhammer to one), in favor of community mailboxes... that to add insult to injury, were custom made in the US, and were unacclimated to the cold, resulting in frozen boxes.