Here's part of "Tricky Living," copyright by Russ Walter, second edition. For newer info, read the 33rd edition of the "Secret Guide to Computers & Tricky Living" at


Most wars are caused by xenophobia: fear of strangers. The best way to end wars is to share Pepsi and pizza.

Peace first

Before starting a war, try to resolve the conflict peacefully. If you absolutely must start a war, make sure you’re well prepared.

Will Rogers said:

Diplomacy is the act of saying “nice doggie” until you can find a rock.

Revolutionary wars

The American government says the September 11th terrorists did a despicable “cowardly” deed. I thought the word “cowardly” was a strange choice. It’s probably what the British said about us hiding behind trees during the Revolutionary War.

In the Revolutionary War for the liberation of America, we hid behind trees and fired at the British, and the British complained it was “unfair” that we weren't standing in an easy-to-shoot line: we weren’t following the rules of war; we were unfairly terrorizing the British troops. The families of those troops were quite upset.

In the Palestinian War for the liberation of Palestine, the pro-liberationists hid in planes and kamikazeed civilians in the World Trade Towers. We said it was “unfair” that they killed civilians instead of paid soldiers.

I guess what’s “fair” depends on which side you’re on.

Whose shoes?

I feel sorry for Palestinians who live in Israel and want to make an honest living. Their thinking goes like this:

Yeah, go call me “Ali Baba.”

Do you want to buy a shoe?

Please don’t call me now an “Arab,”

And I won’t call you a “Jew.”

Say I’m just from Meso’tamia

Where our Western culture grew.

Say that Israel is for “us,” and

Not just “me” and not just “you.”

What about the intefada?

Is it just for infants there?

Can us old folks have some peace, or

Must we tear out all our hair?

I am just a kind commuter,

Not a looter, not a shooter.

My computer? Want to boot her

But no ’lectric power there.

Want to calm her, but the bombers

Coming out of both sides’ lairs

Make me wish I were a kishka

Or a hummus dumpling there.

Sure, go call me “Ali Baba.”

Do you want to buy a shoe?

Please don’t call me now an “Arab,”

And I won’t call you a “Jew.”

Call me “Frank.” I’ll call you “Moe.”

Then mo’e frank we both will go;

And our children, they will thank us,

And our parents will not spank us,

As together we will grow,

Searching for our heaven’s glow.

—     by Rasaalah Al-Walta

     (Russell Walter’s Arabic cousin)

America’s first popcorn war

Back in the early 1960’s, John Kemeny (who invented the Basic programming language) said wars should be replaced by video games, where the opponents would fight each other on screen, winner take all.

Here’s what actually happened… the time is March 2003, and you are there…

Saddam is attacked by Baby Bush, but the media treats the whole “War against Saddam” as just a football game, similar to the Super Bowl. We wait for the referee to fire the opening shot. It’s the first scheduled war: “War will begin at 8PM EST.” We get stats on all the players, with pre-game comments from the coaches and quarterbacks. We get to see whether Bush attacks up the middle or does an end-run around the defensive tackles; whether he lobs some passes up into the air or throws straight ahead, Tomahawk style; and whether the sides, in their strategy huddles, lift their fingers with fake signals to fool the enemy. The TV shows photos of the quarterbacks, Bush & Saddam, displayed side-by-side.

20 years from now, if both of those men were still alive, they’d look back and reminisce about the “good old days” when they had sporting fun baiting each other at the Big Game and how they both managed to change the history of the world, especially the world’s international relations, laws, rules, and assumptions.

While watching the battle, I was sorry to be out of popcorn. I was eating a veggie burrito instead, which fortunately is non-political, since we haven’t attacked Mexico yet.

Hey, that’s an idea: instead of “food for oil,” let’s fight for “food for burritos.” Burritos are better than a steak bomb.

I waited for the Food Channel to show a snobby chef recommending the best food for war watching. “May we suggest the fillet? Perhaps after an aperitif?”

This war was great fun: for the first time, Bush was seen by most of the world as more evil than so-damn-insane Saddam Hussein. I wonder when Bush will feel tired of fighting, “bushed.”

This whole war was actually based on sex. Bush and Blair were young, their penises still strong and frustrated, and they wanted to attack Saddam’s opening, to come to an orgasmic conclusion to the crisis. The heads of France and Germany were older, tired, and just wanted the young headstrong men to quiet down and stop disturbing Europe’s nap time.

After the battle and recriminations, Bush and Saddam should have shaken hands and exchanged after-dinner mints.


When France objected to the U.S. war on Saddam Hussein, the U.S. laughed at the French. Here’s a collection of
anti-French humor:

“Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion.” — Jed Babbin

“The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee.” — Regis Philbin

“I don’t know why people are surprised that France won’t help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn’t help us get the Germans out of France!” — Jay Leno

“What do you expect from a culture that exerted more of its national will fighting against Disney World and Big Macs than Nazis?” — Dennis Miller

“You know why the French don’t want to bomb Saddam Hussein? Because he hates Americans and wears a beret. He’s French.” — Conan O’Brien

“I’d rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.” — General George S. Patton

“France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. France has usually been governed by prostitutes. Apart from those drawbacks, it’s a fine country.” — Mark Twain

On the other hand, Jacques Chirac, who was France’s President, said:

As far as I’m concerned, war always means failure.

For more of those French thoughts and counter-thoughts, read Croaker’s postings on the Internet at:

Info about Jed Babbin’s quote is at:

Military advice

Here’s advice from Infantry Journal about how to fight:

If the enemy is in range, so are you.

Try to look unimportant: they may be low on ammo.

If your attack’s going too well, you’re walking into an ambush.

5-second fuses last just 3 seconds.

Here’s more fighting advice, from members of the military:

When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.

Don’t draw fire: it irritates the people around you.

Any ship can be a minesweeper… once.

Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.

Never tell the platoon sergeant you have nothing to do.

Never be the first, never be the last, and never volunteer.

Here’s advice about flying, from the Air Force:

It’s generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.

Try to stay in the middle of the air. Don’t go near its edges, which can be recognized by the appearance of mountains, ground, buildings, sea, trees, or interstellar space. It’s much more difficult to fly there!

Airspeed, altitude, and brains: two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.

When faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible.

Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you.

Weather forecasts are horoscopes with numbers.

Flashlights are metal tubes kept in a flight bag to store dead batteries.

The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.

If you see a bomb technician running, follow him.

When one engine fails on a twin-engine plane, you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash.

If you crash because of bad weather, your funeral will be on a sunny day.

Without ammo, the Air Force would be just another expensive flying club.

You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.

What’s the similarity between air-traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; if the ATC screws up, the pilot dies.

The 3 most famous last phrases in aviation are “Why is it doing that,” “Where are we,” and “Oh shit!”


How does a “mechanical” engineer differ from a “civil” engineer? The Internet gives this answer:

Mechanical engineers build weapons. Civil engineers build targets.

Cute dictators

Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense under presidents Ford and Bush Junior. He bragged that Saddam Hussein met the same end as other bad dictators, such as Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and that Romanian guy whose name is hard to spell.

But was Lenin really so bad? Compared to Stalin, Lenin was cute.

So was Saddam’s son, Odai. Sure, Odai had a reputation for being ridiculously cruel, even crueler than his dad. But when I look at photos of his face, before and after his death, I just melt, because his face is so cute. I finally realized it’s because he looks like the Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni: he has the same cute smile and puppy-dog eyes. Too bad Odai’s dead: he could’ve had a wonderful movie career. His dad raised him wrong.

Even Osama Bin Laden — who dictates to terrorists — looks cute. He looks just like the Jewish longhairs I went to school with. Too bad he dislikes my group and started a cafeteria food fight, throwing airplanes. I don’t understand his goal: the Palestinian cause already got worldwide attention and sympathy; what does he expect to gain by making Moslems become disliked? He seems immature. He’s just a kid throwing temper tantrums, forcing the rest of the world to childproof everything, for protection from him.

Mysterious Arabs

Question: What do you call a bunch of Arabs in turbans who bash into private property by unexpected transportation and unload a surprise, because they were on a religious mission from Arabia and targeted our Christian roots?

Hint: they’re accused of having “Bin Laden” with gifts.

Answer: the 3 wise men. You’ll see them again each Christmas.

African missionaries

Bishop Desmond Tutu, from South Africa, said:

When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them,
we had the Bible and they had the land.