Afghanistan 101

The world these days can be divided into two parts: those who constantly try to split the world into two parts and those who don’t.

That said, you have to admit (under the threat of having your upcoming strip search filmed so kinky FBI agents can watch it on the office home theater system) that you’ve learned a lot about the world since 9-11. Maybe you’re not particularly cognizant of the education factor, but it’s there.

For starters, you have to admit that, in August, the extent of your knowledge about the country of Afghanistan lay somewhere between zilch and zero. Then, beginning on That Day, every brain in this country was suddenly subjected to a torrent of information about this rugged, struggling country on the other side of the world. Now, lo and behold, you actually have a decent shot at finding the place on a globe.

And whereas before, you couldn’t have named one city or town in Afghanistan, now you’re very much up on at least four cities, maybe five. You know the two big “K’s”, Kabul (also knowing that this name rhymes with wobble, not “a fool") and Kandahar (which would have been a great name for a Chrysler SUV about three years ago). It’s been fairly easy to go deeper in the Afghanistan city category. By paying just a bit beyond minimal attention, one can rack up the very sexy Jallalabad (sexy only if pronounced “bod,” not “bad") and the intriguing, exotic and fun to say Mazar-E-Sharif.

By comparison and just for laughs, try naming five cities in Canada. Or Mexico (no fair using more than one Baja town).

You now also know much more about the country itself. Its people are tough, resilient and colorful. They look different than what you may have expected. They know how to make goat ligament stew. No Internet radio stations broadcast from Afghanistan, and their cable TV isn’t much. The Taliban leaders are stubborn old codgers from the 13th century who make The Pope look like a rave DJ. They disdain, even eschew pornography, and they have a lot of caves, some of which are very cool in their self-sufficiency (which makes one think of the potential of our own mines being converted to very cool and habitable caves so as to be prepared for that unfortunate 8.7 repository-rocker that will hit the Beatty area around 3639).

You know that they gave the Russians a very frustrating run a few years ago, and that finally, the Russians said “nuts to this” and went home. You know that they’ve done the same to a lot of different conquerors, warlords, emperors, kings, huns, vandals, bullies and various bad-asses in the last 3000 years. You know that a huge percentage of the world’s opium comes from the extensive poppy fields of Afghanistan. This factoid makes it difficult for many, if not all, American junkies to put flag stickers on their windshields.

And my, how your anthrax chops have expanded!