That’s right. Buses. Buses for sale. All kinds of buses. On the internet. You can buy a bus on the internet.

Now I don’t know about you. But I find it next to impossible to see a billboard reading “Busesforsale.com” and not go to it. So I did. To spare you, a screenshot:

You can buy school buses. You can buy transit buses. You can even buy Van Hool buses. I don’t know what a Van Hool bus is – but why wouldn’t I buy one? Maybe I’ve always wanted a Van Hool bus. Maybe that’s what been missing from my life and I’ve never known it. Busesforsale.com sure thinks so.

Actually they have Van Hool buses available started at $89,900. Which is quite reasonable. For a Van Hool.

Of course there is a little gainsayer inside me. “Why would you need a Van Hool bus?” it asks. “Wouldn’t you want to see the bus first? Wouldn’t you want to buy it from someone with a face and a name?”

The answer, naturally, is no. I find dealing with people firsthand detestable. Not to mention that I cannot imagine a bus salesman having a particularly commendable deportment.

But of course now I wonder. What else can I buy online? Snakes?

Too easy. Reptilesncritters.com lets me buy snakes, lizards, frogs, salamanders, and spiders online. And I’m talking some obscure shit. Albino banana Cal king snake? Check. Giant desert hairy scorpions? Check. Bumblebee poison arrow frog? Oh yeah. And they have a a very helpful FAQ section explaining what happens if a shipment arrives “DOA” and why it’s “very difficult, if not impossible, to sex baby reptiles or amphibians.”

That got me thinking. I do so much of my banking online: could I do my sperm banking too?

Why yes. Yes we can.

The California Cryobank is one of several American institutions that allows you to order sperm online from the comfort of your very own home. They walk you through the entire process from account creation through the “insemination countdown,” which sounds enjoyable. You can profile and select donors recruited from graduates of some of the country’s top universities. You can even comparison shop!

Too institutionalized for you? There are of course freelancers aplenty on the World Wide Web. They even include actor, musician and raconteur Vincent Gallo, otherwise famous for being fellated on camera by Chloe Sevigny in a movie everybody but the French hated. For $1,000,000 US, Gallo will “will supply sperm for as many attempts as it takes to complete a successful fertilization and successful delivery,” though he seems keen on a few, shall we say, racial restrictions. Of course one cannot be totally sure this is a good faith offer (and it certainly would require some offline preparations), but nothing else about the man’s web presence appears to be funny and the Internet, as we all know, is a deadly serious enterprise.

There are restrictions, of course. In the UK rules were introduced in 2006 to forbid “fresh sperm” sales and require six months of freezing prior to sale, largely in response to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State being bored at work. In the Netherlands sperm donation is no longer anonymous. But this is no real obstacle to my impulse buying as America has not yet fallen to European commufascism.

Every four year-old who watches GI Joe, of course, knows that freedom is not just the ability to create life. It’s the ability to destroy it. The internet will show me the way here, too.

This is the website of the Iranian Defense Industries Organization. On this website you can register and place orders. What kind of orders? Oh. Well. How about a Taftan Mine Cleaner? But you’ll need to protect it. We have T-72S main battle tanks for that. You’re going to want to clear the area first, so a RAAD-2 155mm self-propelled artillery piece is in order, as are some nuclear-biological-chemical protective gear and a patrol boat for water transport. Missiles optional.

In case you’re wondering, they do accept Visa.

But what will I do with all of this? I’ll tell you. I have to because that’s how movies work.

Not necessarily representative

I am going to splice the sperm of our nation’s best and brightest with the poison arrow frogs. I will create a super-race of poisonous, super-intelligent frog people capable of jumping twenty feet in the air, living off flies, doing long division and loving me just the way I am. Of course the government will try to stop me, but with the help of my super-soldiers/new best friends and the finest munitions Islamic theocracy has to offer, I will fight them off – and eventually, take over the world.

And then?

Then I’m going to buy a specially-modified Van Hool bus. My frogpeople and I will start a family band. We’ll do covers of Journey and Raffi’s greatest hits. Everyone will have to watch us. It’ll be awesome.

And I will live happily ever after. On the Internet.

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so far away.

Thanks to the deaths of, in descending order of importance, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays and Farrah Fawcett, Iran (and a number of other incidents) were dropped from the news.  It’s not on the front page of The Guardian, besides their casualty identifier (though that’s quite neat… in its way) or BBC World and has only small mentions on CNN or Fox News.  Generally I too surrender to the machinations of the 24 hour news cycle, but an article written by friend/professor/real-live-Iranian Farhang Erfani caught my eye.  I recommend reading in full.  It’s unusual to find a philosopher who can write things people can read.

Being a suburban white kid with an overpriced IR degree doesn’t qualify me to say much, but subsequent news gives both reason for hope and pause.  The Assembly of Experts – which in Iran functions as a sort of Senate – has become deeply split between ultra-hardliners and others, even conservatives, who are souring not merely on Ahmadinejad but on Ayatollah Khameini for supporting him.  There is, apparently, plotting afoot to substitute the “Supreme Leader,” which is provided by the Iranian Constitution, for a three-man panel of jurists.  It’s not clear that they could be stopped from doing this, as the Experts appoint the Supreme Leader (though thus far only upon the death of the former).  If so the dynamic of power could change dramatically.

The problem is the Guardian Council.  The Ayatollah, in my opinion, is not actually the most undemocratic figure in their government – as the Guardian article notes he too can be removed.  But the Guardian Council, which is perhaps the world’s most powerful election management body, has the authority not merely to conduct elections but to vet candidates for Parliament, the presidency and the Assembly of Experts.  This is why the opposition to Ahmadinejad was so weak (and why rigging the election may have been unnecessary): all the really threatening candidates were removed from the outset.  The Guardian Council, which is half-appointed by the Leader and half-appointed from candidates chosen by the Leader, is responsible for this function, striking down parliamentary laws, or removing “un-Islamic” officials.  While the powers possessed by the Supreme Leader are reserve, and often treated as such, the Guardian Council is an activist organ that is not shy about intervening in day-to-day politics.  It wrecked the last reformist presidency; it would surely have wrecked Mousavi.

If the Assembly of Experts organizes, however, and manages to shift power from the Ayatollah (or indeed sets itself against the Ayatollah generally), Mousavi’s failure could be far more important than his success would ever have been.  This is in fact the thread Professor Erfani takes up in his article: that Mousavi may be more useful out than in.