The hilariously prophetic Onion

By Frederic Friedel

Twenty-eight years ago a milestone publication was launched: The Onion, a brilliant satirical magazine that has never been surpassed. This is what an article looks like — one that was published fifteen years ago and belongs to my favourites:

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The article (click the screen grab to read the whole piece) goes on to say that Bush swore he would do everything in his power to undo the damage wrought by Clinton’s two terms in office, including going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts to drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street. “During the 40-minute speech,” Onion claimed, “Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.”

How prophetic can you get? The article continues with the claim that Bush planed a 250 percent boost in military spending and quotes him saying: “Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?” On the economic side Bush vowed to “bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.” It is difficult to believe that this was written before the Iraq invasion, before the tax cuts for the wealthy and before the resulting world-wide recession.

Let’s see what they have published today, just after Donald Trump has announced his pick as running mate on his presidential ticket.

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Click the above screen grab for the whole story. This is class humour, trademark Onion. One of my all-time favourites is the following piece. Before quoting it I should mention that I have a dear friend from Armenia named Lilit Mkrtchian (or spelt Mkrttschjan in Germany, where she lives). I need to tell her about the following Onion story, which appeared twenty years ago.

Clinton Deploys Vowels to Bosnia;
Cities of Sjlbvdnzv, Grzny to Be First Recipients

December 1995 — Before an emergency joint session of Congress yesterday, President Clinton announced US plans to deploy over 75,000 vowels to the war-torn region of Bosnia. The deployment, the largest of its kind in American history, will provide the region with the critically needed letters A, E, I, O and U, and is hoped to render countless Bosnian names more pronounceable.

“For six years, we have stood by while names like Ygrjvslhv and Tzlynhr and Glrm have been horribly butchered by millions around the world,” Clinton said. “Today, the United States must finally stand up and say ‘Enough.’ It is time the people of Bosnia finally had some vowels in their incomprehensible words. The US is proud to lead the crusade in this noble endeavour.”

The deployment, dubbed Operation Vowel Storm by the State Department, is set for early next week, with the Adriatic port cities of Sjlbvdnzv and Grzny slated to be the first recipients. Two C-130 transport planes, each carrying over 500 24-count boxes of “E’s,” will fly from Andrews Air Force Base across the Atlantic and airdrop the letters over the cities.

Citizens of Grzny and Sjlbvdnzv eagerly await the arrival of the vowels. “My God, I do not think we can last another day,” Trszg Grzdnjkln, 44, said. “I have six children and none of them has a name that is understandable to me or to anyone else. Mr. Clinton, please send my poor, wretched family just one ‘E.’ Please.”

Said Sjlbvdnzv resident Grg Hmphrs, 67: “With just a few key letters, I could be George Humphries. This is my dream.”

The airdrop represents the largest deployment of any letter to a foreign country since 1984. During the summer of that year, the US shipped 92,000 consonants to Ethiopia, providing cities like Ouaouoaua, Eaoiiuae, and Aao with vital, life-giving supplies of L’s, S’s and T’s.

You must admit: the above is seriously funny. Make an occasional trip to this wonderful satirical page to lighten up your day.

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Written by

Frederic Alois Friedel, born in 1945, science journalist, co-founder of ChessBase, studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford.

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