Dead Dictators, Diets and Doritos

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dead Dictators, Diets and Doritos

Reading the New York Times over the past several days has filled me with lots of useful information about the reign of the late Saddam Hussein, as well as some less critical, but nonetheless interesting, notes about the dead dictator.

Courtesy of the Times' Neil Farquhar:
* His right wrist was tattooed with a line of three dark blue dots — not exactly the most interesting design, but what the hell.

* In 1989, Saddam's regime erected a military arch in Baghdad that "was modeled on his forearms and then enlarged 40 times to hold two giant crossed swords."

* Just a few months before the 2003 U.S. invasion, Saddam's regime dedicated a recreational lake in Baghdad as poets recited bizarre lines such as: “We will stimulate ourselves by saying your name, Saddam Hussein, when we say Saddam Hussein, we stimulate ourselves.”

* While he was in power, Saddam was committed to raising adult literacy rates — so much so that any rural Iraqi citizen who failed to enroll in adult literacy classes faced a penalty of three years in jail.

* At one point during the 1980s, Saddam decided that his ministers were too fat and he insisted they begin a diet. The Baathist dictator had his ministers' actual body weights and their target weights published in the news media. According to Farquhar, "Mr. Hussein’s own weight could fluctuate from chubby to relatively trim, although well tailored suits hid his paunch."

* He gave relationship advice to the U.S. soldiers who guarded his prison cell, telling one male soldier to find a wife who is “neither too smart nor too dumb, not too old nor too young.”
And, last, my favorite snippet:
* Saddam's favorite snack was Doritos corn chips.

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