Evil Machines

By Terry Jones

A darkly funny set of linked tales about vengeful phones and hoovers

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Evil Machines

Pondering the new book I've been reminded of some other Evil Machines or rather Evil Machine makers I wrote about in the Guardian a couple of years ago. Here's the piece:


Dear arms industry,

Congratulations! At this time of economic crisis, when everyone is tightening their belts and reducing expenditure because of the monetary meltdown, you're the one industry that's still expanding. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, worldwide military expenditure has increased by 45% over the past decade. In 2008 the Russians gave you a cool $59bn, the British $65bn, the French $66bn, China $85bn and the good ole United States a whacking $607bn.

I mean who would have thought that making, selling and servicing machines that kill people would be the best paid job on the planet? How on earth do you do it? I'd really like to know, because I've just invented this machine for creating a force-field around a house, capable of withstanding attacks by 16ft-high crabs, using only strawberry yoghurt and camomile soap. It doesn't work, of course, but then nor does military expenditure. There is no correlation between a country's military spending and how safe its citizens feel. Five years after 9/11 and the resulting rise in military expenditure from $300bn to $500bn, CBS News reported that four out of every five Americans said the war in Iraq had increased the threat of a terrorist attack. While the US has increased its military spending by hundreds of billions of dollars, other countries, such as Germany and Japan, have actually kept their expenditure flat or even reduced it. Does anyone feel less safe in Japan or Germany as a result? So my question is: how do you get people to buy something that nobody wants and that clearly doesn't do what it says on the tin? What's the marketing strategy? Is it creating a climate of fear? I suppose if you're going to sell machines that kill other people, you have to earmark somebody that it's OK to kill. And if you can make out, at the same time, that the people that it's OK to kill are actually trying to kill you, then bingo! You've got a deal.

So perhaps I should be going round my neighbourhood putting up pictures of 16ft high crabs attacking people's houses, with slogans like: "They're real! They're here! They're anxious to move into your house!". Or should I simply be offering jobs in Giant Crab Protection Industries Inc to influential senators? I can't help noticing that in the good old days of the cold war, you guys in the arms industry successfully used communism to persuade people that spending on the military was a necessity.

Well personally I think 16ft high crabs are a jolly lot more scary than Nikolai Bulganin or Mikhail Gorbachev. And now that you've somehow managed to persuade the public that Islam is an even bigger threat to democracy and western values than communism ever was, I'm more convinced than ever that I've got a good chance with the giant crabs. What people don't realise is that giant crabs really envy our American way of life. They yearn for rampant unemployment, drive-by shootings and a healthcare system that is a blot on the civilised world.

Of course I realise that what I really need to get my business going is "some catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor" (as the Project For The New American Century put it so succinctly a year before 9/11). So I'm just hoping and praying that some 16ft-high crabs will come out of the sea and rampage across America before the end of the year.

You never know your luck.

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Simon Downs
 Simon Downs says:

You're on to a loser with giant crabs I'm afraid mate, as every gamer knows you attack giant crabs in their flashing weak spots for massive damage. If you want to sell your strawberry yoghurt based house force fields I'd recommend spreading rumours about massive 16ft goats, they're lethal, they here and they want to eat your house.

posted 24th June 2011

Nichola Winney
 Nichola Winney says:

Simon, I think you're onto something! My sister had a goat (only a 3 footer, mind) and it ate her entire garden in less than a week. She quickly removed the offending creature (I think she got rid of it on the black market), but it's scary to think where this might have led if she'd kept the darn thing.
It's obvious to me that some demonic organization has progressed to interbreeding with the crabs = 16ft goabs! good god, where will it end?

posted 24th June 2011

Jennifer Bonham-Carter
 Jennifer Bonham-Carter says:

I was once attcked by a Killer Kettle!

posted 26th June 2011

Heather Culpin
 Heather Culpin says:

Excellent piece. Fear does seem to be a good marketing tool, for instance our fear of looking old makes us buy expensive face creams (strawberry yoghourt and camomile anyone?). It's probably as hard to convince us women that we don't need the creams as it is to convince governments they don't need the weapons, unfortunately.

posted 27th June 2011

Kevin Kieran
 Kevin Kieran says:

The Military Industrial Complex is a vast and powerful business in the USA. The arms industry is spread throughout each and every state and has a powerful lobby in Congress. It employs large numbers of people in a country where unemployment is high and when faced with any Congressman or Senator who dares to question the vast amount of taxpayer money spent on armaments is very quick to argue that should this expenditure be reduced, factories in that persons State will be closed and the politicians will be blamed for causing unemployment. No one will therefore vote for a reduction.
The MIC is the most "evil machine" on the planet and we must invent an "even more evil machine!!!" to destroy it, all in the name of Peace!!
We need moles in the MIC to insert strawberry yoghurt in all armaments or maybe crab sticks!

posted 28th June 2011

Michelle Harper
 Michelle Harper says:


I am a Californian (which, as you may have heard, is the financial shame of the US at the moment…not just concerning arms, either) and am one of the many wondering what the true motivator is for the massive amounts of money we’re putting into military/arms/etc. I suppose we’re hoping everyone is impressed; back in the early twentieth century T. Roosevelt did the same…the idea being that no one would dare attack us. (This was back when NEUTRALITY was our word. Can you imagine?)

But since we’ve shifted from neutrality into slightly more involved foreign policy…it makes you wonder; what are our motives when country is crumbling domestically and all we’re doing is over-arming the armed forces?

Well, let me see:

16ft Crabs = Terrorists

Strawberry Yoghurt & Chamomile Soap Force field = Ineffective (proven by T. Jones)

American Mentality = “Nuke ‘em.” (Or similar.)

There you have it.

We are spend-thrifty lunatics, good GOD. Oh, well, off to get hair done....

posted 8th July 2011

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