Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

The JAAG Test
David Simmonds

Barack Obama is inching toward the Democratic nomination and has promised to eliminate torture as a state interrogative device. And the CIA is not sitting still.

According to sources, it is developing a list of alternative techniques that do not involve tearing people limb from limb but that have been shown to be at least 90% as effective (referred to in the spy trade as the JAAG or 'just about as good' test). Indeed, insiders say they were shocked to discover a large proportion of the North American public appears to have adopted these techniques voluntarily.

CAUTION: some readers may be offended by the explicit descriptions of techniques set out below.

Those techniques receiving the highest JAAG ratings included:

The Bridle. Suspects are forced to accompany a young woman to a bridal show, and then to endless sessions choosing wedding dresses, flowers, cakes, reception locations, food, entertainment and guests. They are then required to make her work to a budget at 40% of the cost of the choices she has made.

Holiday dinner. Suspects are forced to sit at a dinner table for two hours at a stretch with families who can't stand the sight of each other but get together once a year because they are relatives.

TV choices. Suspects are left in a room with no source of stimulation other than a television with two channels. One offers 24hr golf; the other offers 24hr music videos.

Audio choices. Suspects are tantalized by the sound of the music of J.S. Bach for 15 minutes each day and are then required to listen to contemporary Grammy Award winning music the rest of the time.

Dignity denied. Suspects are locked in hotel room and permitted to choose freely from any of the videos on demand, with parental controls unblocked.

The stuffer. Suspects are taken to a chain restaurant and required always to order "hearty eaters" specials.

Unremittingly glum. The only reading material the suspect is allowed comprises New Yorker cartoons published over the last five years.

The hopeless case. Suspects must write an essay of at least 100 words entitled "Dick Cheney was so right".

The noble tongue. Suspects are piped in post game interviews from major sporting events.

The cattle call. Suspects are made to take a package holiday on a 2,000 berth cruise ship, which has been expected at each port of call for weeks.

CIA officials were quick to deny that any of these techniques would actually be implemented. "What we're talking about here is the need for intelligence" said one official.

Agreed.

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Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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