Thursday, March 31, 2005

Blogospheronaut Excursion!

Boy, I’ll say!
"It is remarkably daft to make bra-like bikinis for one-year-olds."

The great wisdom was uttered by the Norwegian Minister of Children and Family Affairs, in response to a Swedish clothing company’s plans to do just that.

From POPBITCH, a Brit gossip mailer.
A recent missive, among other things, urged its readers to consider “the irony of religious wingnuts trying to forcefeed a woman whose coma was caused by her bulimia.”

Hulk have diary!

Today’s NY Times:
“Practically every new iteration of cellphone promises more: digital music, streaming video, 3-D video games, location-based navigation and full Internet browsing, not to mention a camera. With more features often come more buttons, complications and costs, and thicker operating manuals.

Some people call it feature creep.”

Coming next: the ability to call somebody from your cellphone. Really! Just dial a number, and somebody’s phone will ring – perhaps even a phone thousands of miles away! It’s an amazing new world.

Legal decision of the week: Not Guilty!
“The statement that the plaintiff is a `Dumb Ass,' even first among `Dumb Asses,' communicates no factual proposition susceptible of proof or refutation.”

The defendant in a libel suit had accused the two plaintiffs on his web site of being, on a “Top Ten Dumb Asses'' list, “the number 1 and number 2 dumb asses, respectively.”

One of the plaintiffs was also accused of being “drunk and chewin' tobaccy.”

Judges ruled the plaintiff “used only the present tense in denying that he chewed tobacco; for all the record shows, he might have chewed it in the very recent past, and might intend to chew it again in the future.''

Why didn’t I think of this?
From the New Yorker:

“Popstrology is a system for achieving self-awareness through the study of the pop-music charts—specifically, by determining which pop song was No. 1 on the day of your birth. If, for example, you happen to have been hatched during that brief, blissful period in October, 1976, when the airwaves were ruled by ‘Disco Duck,’ you may have inherited from its creators, the opportunistic d.j. Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots, an ability ‘to parlay simple needs and even modest gifts into the precise degree of greatness to which you aspire.’ (As it happens, 1976 was the Year of Rod Stewart.) Popstrology is no parlor game; its methodology is elaborate and broad—the book is almost four hundred pages long. (Author) Van Tuyl identifies forty-five constellations (Lite & White, Mustache Rock, Shaking Booty), and, for each No. 1 artist (or ‘birthstar’), he provides a chart, which maps the birthstar’s signature qualities on a matrix of sexiness, soulfulness, and durability, among other variables. (Van Tuyl has no truck with coolness; popstrologically, there are no bad pop songs.) In the introduction, he writes, ‘Popstrology is a powerful and flexible science, and where its adherents take it in the years ahead is anyone’s guess.’”

The “What the…?” Dept.
Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert (the fake jounalist/possible former male hooker) has been invited to a National Press Club panel discussion on blogging. Yes, he does have a blog: As you will see, he’s a Voice of the New Media, not a position to which I aspire.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I pity the blog.

Pity them.
Janice Dickinson.
Sandi "Pepa" Denton.
Bronson Pinchot.
Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.
Carey Hart.

Album fetish?
Andrew Leonard in Salon:

“It's easy to get nostalgic about lost eras. Record albums are cooler than CDs and even the pallid CD jewel-box is an improvement on the physical nonentity that is a digital file. It's easy to imagine that our lives are somehow poorer without these signposts. When, 30 years from now, my son and daughter look for mementos to evoke their childhood, what will they latch on to? A playlist? Is that enough?

I think, actually, that it is. Because the whole fetishization of object as memory aid, much as I like to wallow in it, is still a red herring. It's the music itself that carries the most evocative force, not the delivery mechanism, no matter how cool the holographic art on ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ or how massive Bob Marley's spleef is on ‘Catch a Fire.’”

I miss albums. I like them a lot better than CDs and MP3s. I miss the heft of the album, the fact that they were hard to store. I miss the pops and hisses and clicks. I miss the chewed corners of the jacket sleeve. I miss the album covers, blurred by the years.

But, oh well. Things change. I miss insurance and job security and Federico Fellini, and Kurosawa, and Luis Bunuel too. Buster Keaton. I miss him. You whippersnappers. Get out of my cabbage patch!

From Knight-Ridder.
Complaints about tight restrictions at Bush's events have become common. His presidential campaign used tight crowd-control screens last fall, and similar tactics now seem to be employed at official presidential stops, which unlike campaign events are paid for by taxpayers' dollars.

Democrats strike back!
A new commercial asks Doc Hastings, head of that mythical organization, the House Ethics Committee, to "do your job and clean up Congress without delay." Kind of a pun. A play on words.

Justice News.
C-Murder, a rapper seeking to get a murder conviction overturned, hopes that the Louisiana Supreme Court will help him out.

He told the Associated Press, "I'm just trying to bring darkness to light the best way I know how. I'm hoping everything turns out all right."

I’m no legal expert, but maybe a change of name might help a little bit. How about C-Puppy, or C-Kindness?

Speaking of the law….
From Reuters:
“A Shanghai online game player stabbed to death a competitor who sold his cyber-sword, the China Daily said Wednesday, creating a dilemma in China where no law exists for the ownership of virtual weapons.

Qiu Chengwei, 41, stabbed competitor Zhu Caoyuan repeatedly in the chest after he was told Zhu had sold his ‘dragon saber,’ used in the popular online game, ‘Legend of Mir 3,’ the newspaper said a Shanghai court was told Tuesday.”

Qiu Chengwei “owned” the cyber-sword, and it was “stolen” by Zhu Caoyuan. How can you steal a fictitious object? This question will be decided by higher courts sooner rather than later, mark my words.

The same question might apply to a “song.” If it’s on the Web, it’s no longer unique. It’s just another piece of data. But the album, my friends, is mine. Hands off! (Um, anybody got a turntable?)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Another day, another blog

Warning: Poll
From Reuters: “Many Americans are so sleepy that they are having problems in their marriages, making mistakes at work and even going without sex, according to a report released on Tuesday.”

From AP: “Getting a good night's sleep is hard for many adults and that often means poorer health, lower productivity on the job, more danger on the roads and a less vibrant sex life.”

The information comes from a poll given by the National Sleep Foundation.

What are we to extrapolate from the data? What can be done?

Well, personally, I often get sleepy after sex. Yes, sex can be a fun cure for insomnia. If nothing else, sex helps kill the waking hours (or minutes), and it’s more fun than counting sheep. Who counts sheep anyway? That’s pre-9/11 insomnia! Sheep won’t cut it any more.

Also, you can sleep on the job, unless you’re an airline pilot, bus driver, or sniper. I recommend it!

Sell your car. Automobiles are a constant source of anxiety, not to mention road rage. Get rid of it. You’ll sleep better.

Slow News Day in the Fashion World.
From Fashion Forward, Nina Lalli’s column in the Village Voice:

“In this day and age, there are three known varieties of cleavage. The obvious one is boob cleavage, which needs no explanation. Butt cleavage is by far the most risqué, and still a fringe movement, although Hilary Swank pulled off a tastefully suggestive version at the Oscars. And finally, there's toe cleavage, a glimpse at the lines between toes, just where they sprout from the foot. This is seemingly the most modest of cleavages, but it can be quite suggestive. In style back in the '80s (Atomic Passion has tons of vintage low-cut shoes), showing off a few toe buds is again gaining popularity.”

I saw all three types of cleavage once, on a city worker pulling weeds while wearing ill-fitting huaraches. The only thing “suggestive” about the experience was a small (but loud) inner voice telling me to avert my eyes immediately.

I’m not religious, but this is just silly dept.
The Colorado Supreme Court overthrew a death penalty sentence, because jurors in the trial had consulted the Bible. Apparently, that ancient book suggests an “eye for an eye” as an appropriate punishment.

Said the majority (3-to-2 decision): "The judicial system works very hard to emphasize the rarified, solemn and sequestered nature of jury deliberations. Jurors must deliberate in that atmosphere without the aid or distraction of extraneous texts."

Rarefied, solemn, and sequestered? Maybe before or after the camera crews arrive. What could be more solemn than the damn Bible? Not many laughs in that extraneous text. And wouldn’t the jurors, unless they’re from Mars, be familiar with the “eye for an eye” injunction without having to consult the tome?

Are jurors supposed to leave their personal beliefs behind when they make a judgment about whether to kill somebody or not? If so, why don’t we just replace human jurors with computer programs?

I’m against the death penalty, by the way. But still—

Why I’m against the death penalty.
Death cannot be undone, and--
(1) Juries sometimes make mistakes.
(2) Witnesses sometimes lie.
(3) The state should not have a bureaucracy of executioners. That’s creepy. Now if we selected executioners from a pool, the way we do juries….

Monday, March 28, 2005

Arms too short to blog with God

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Randall Terry!
"If Gov. Bush wants to be the man that his brother is, he needs to step up to the plate like President Bush did when the United Nations told him not to go into Iraq. Be a man. Put politics aside."

Now meet the band!
"It seems like he (i.e. Jeb Bush) could have intervened more. At this point, it's getting too late to help this woman. She's being tortured. She's being murdered."
"Barbara Bush: Are you proud of your sons now?"
"Stop the American Holocaust!"
"Send in the National Guard!"
"It's going to get more emotional," he said. "You're going to have more feelings. But we don't want the focus to be on us. We want the focus to be on Terri."
"She's still conscious. She's still responding, and she's still fighting for her life. She is hanging on. That is her message to Gov. Bush and the world. She wants to live."

John Edward weighs in. Send in the National Guard!
On Fox & Friends, psychic (make that “psychic”) John Edward told host Steve Doocy that Terri Schiavo is "definitely clear on what's happening now around her"

Block Fox!
I don’t get it myself, Fox News being unavailable to me, but I am amused to learn that a fellow named Sam Kimery has created a “Fox Blocker,” which allows viewers to filter Fox News from their sets.

He told Associated Press that he received death threats as a result: “Apparently the making of terroristic threats against those who don't share your views is a high art form among a certain core audience."

Cowboy: What Happened?
"There is no logical reason why a normal person with a normal outlook would have to travel I-70 with that many weapons and a knife over his visor simply for self-protection on the open road."

The Associated Press informed me that a driver was pulled over in Missouri, “a driver dressed like an old-time pioneer, saying he was headed for South Dakota with Bibles and ‘supplies’ for American Indian children.”

Deputies did find a duffel bag full of Bibles, but also found a .45-caliber Derringer, a.44-caliber black powder pistol, as well as several unloaded handguns — a .357-caliber pistol among them — and two other long rifles, including a large-caliber one with a scope.

“The shirtless man was wearing military-style boots, cargo pants and an American Indian vest.”
Allegedly, he reeked of marijuana as well, emitting what the pulps used to call “the sickly-sweet odor of marijuana.”

A spokesman for the county sheriffs told AP, "I've heard him described as looking like a frontiersman or pioneer; that's what he was dressed as. He said he was headed to South Dakota to take Bibles and other supplies to Indian children. The deputies said, 'Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay.'"

From ZDNet: “…the iconic Pez dispenser, is about to go digital. Under a recently granted licensing agreement with Pez Candy, a gadget design company Lincoln West Studios will soon begin selling MP3 players modeled after the big-headed plastic treat sleeves.”

Does everything have to be compatible with everything else? Do we really need nostalgia to sell us up-to-date crap we are probably going to buy anyway?

Marketing has gone insane!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Dear Blog, it's me, Margaret.

Polls suck, but hooray anyway.
The polls aren’t going the way the conservatives would like on this Schiavo issue. So they are scapegoating an ABC poll, because one of its question was prefaced with: “As you may know, a woman in Florida named Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage and has been on life support for 15 years.”

Conservative maven Michelle Malkin asserted that: “The loaded phrase evokes images of a comatose patient being artificially sustained by myriad machines and pumps and wires. Terri was on a feeding tube. A feeding tube is not a ventilator. Terri can breathe just fine on her own.”

Well, she’s getting food and water through tubes, isn’t she? “Terri,” I mean, not “Michelle?” Doesn’t that qualify as supporting life? Hello?

Peggy Noonan tries to coin a term.
“I do not understand the emotionalism of the pull-the-tube people.”

Who's emotional? I'm not emotional. I'M NOT EMOTIONAL!!!!

And leave the tubes in if you want to. It's none of my business.

Ralph Nader: "A profound injustice is being inflicted on Terri Schiavo. Worse, this slow death by dehydration is being imposed upon her under the color of law, in proceedings in which every benefit of the doubt-and there are many doubts in this case-has been given to her death, rather than her continued life."

Jeeze, Ralph, aren't there any exploding Pintos that need your attention?

In Other News: Uh-Oh.
From The Business: “BP exploration consultant Francis Harper said he estimated the world's total original usable oil resources - the amount of oil before drilling began - at about 2.4 trillion barrels of oil. This is considerably less than the 3 trillion assumed by bullish commentators such as the US government's Geological Survey. This points to oil production peaking between 2010 and 2020.”

Does anybody find this acronym as irritating as I do? Why the hell are we supposed to be suddenly down on “mainstream media?” (Well, aside from the mainstream media’s persistent mediocrity.)

Speaking of the sanctity of marriage, this is from Etiquette Hell (dot com)
I know a bride-to-be that created a web site to keep friends and family posted on the details of the wedding (which is a very nice idea). But, the site is non-stop awful. She posted photos of herself in the wedding dress, even though the wedding is months away. And, here’s an actual quote from the site...right at the top of the HUGE letters:

"Registered at: Target Gift Registry - [link to online registry] Wal-Mart Gift Registry - [link to online registry] Gift Registry - [link to online registry]

No gift registries at Sears - but it's Bob's favorite store! Feel free to get gift cards from them for us!"

Note: To top it off, the registries included not one, but TWO deep fat fryers. And, nose hair trimmers! Yuck.

In other news.
From Pravda, the world’s most trusted news source: “…the yeti phenomenon may be no evolution at all but a mere degradation of ordinary people into apelike creatures.” Whew!

Earlier, this article claimed, of the yeti: "... it seems to be resembling none of known primate kinds."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Alternate Universe BLog

Terri Schiavo, anyone?
Check out the videos here:
Bear-baiting 2005. You think?

Global warming, or a warning from God?
There was a small tornado (F1) in South San Francisco last Sunday. This is an area not known for unwanted meteorological events.

Here kitty.
According to Reuters, some guy in London who was calling his cat back into the house before he went to bed, was instead attacked by a “cat-like creature” the “size of a Labrador.” The police were summoned. A police spokesman said, "One police officer believes they saw a large black cat-like animal approximately the same size as a Labrador dog.” No further sightings have been reported.

How proud his parents must be.
From Reuters:
Craig Crosbie, 24, took just 48 seconds to type out the 160-character message: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human."

He beat the previous record holder by 19 seconds, Guinness World Records said on Tuesday.

Crosbie, who has been texting since the age of 16, sends about 75 messages a day and says the key to fast texting is practice.

"All my friends say that the speed at which I text is quite unbelievable," Crosbie told Reuters.

Skateboarding is not a crime. Texting is not a verb! Now this.
I found this on dailyKOS. It’s from the Associated Press, I believe. The “He” is Rick Santorum.

“He and his wife, Karen, have seven children - including, as Santorum puts it, ‘the one in Heaven.’ Their fourth baby, Gabriel Michael, died in 1996, two hours after an emergency delivery in Karen Santorum's 20th week of pregnancy. The couple took Gabriel's body home to let their three other young children see and hold the baby before burying him….”

Who ARE these people?

Don’t DeLay. Act today!
This is from Drudge: Last Friday, The Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) requested Terri Schiavo to testify before his congressional committee.

Who ARE these people?

Red Activities in a blue state.
On our recent trip to Sacramento, the wife and I ambled over to Old Sacramento, which is chockablock with museums, hole-in-the-wall antique stores, ice cream parlors, and those machines that squish pennies.

While there, we took in the California Military Museum, a small but very satisfying museum, stuffed to the brim with weaponry, tank and airplane models, and uniforms.

Attendance was sparse, but attendees enthusiastic. Besides the two stray families that wandered in, and quickly out again, the attendees consisted of several men my age, with impressive bellies, talking to each other in rumbling voices about unresolved conflicts of the last century.

There was a docent, an elderly spry gentleman named Jack, who approached the two men by the musket/rifle/semi-automatic weapon display, and asked them if the building were to catch fire, which weapon would they save?

“I’d go for the BAR,” said the taller of the two, without hesitation. (That's short for Browning Automatic Rifle, by the way.)

“That’s a toughie,” said the other.

Jack then drew their attention to the M-1 rifle, serial number 137, and told them that would be his choice, because it was one of the first M-1s ever made.

Later, he talked enthusiastically to the wife and me about the mechanics of machine guns, pointing out the bullet holes in the Russian Maxim captured during the Korean War.

He asked me if I had been in the military. When I said no, he looked disappointed for a moment. Then he brightened and said that he’d loved basic training. He said it was “like Boy Scouts only with cigarettes and beer.”

He also asked us if we watched DEADWOOD on HBO. We told him we didn’t have cable. He said it was a “dreadful show,” but half-heartedly. We both suspect he actually loved it, because it was a western.

“Sacramento used to be just like that,” he told us. That is, lawless, profane, and full of hookers.

If there are any lawless profane backwater towns out there that need cleaning up, I recommend giving Jack a call. He’s in his eighties, sure, but I’ll bet he’d be willing to strap on a six gun and ride. Me, I'll wait back here with the horses.

Monday, March 21, 2005

oh my lovely blog

We have ways of making you blog.
Tina Brown has written: "Bloggers are the new Stasi."

Terri Schiavo
So then. Congress, at its whim, can now tell the courts that they need to change their verdicts if said verdicts disturb Congress’ finely tuned moral sense. It’s all part of the “culture of life,” I guess. (I love scare quotes!)

Devil on the half-shell.
The A-Dora-ble Pet Shop burned down last October under mysterious circumstances. The fire killed all the animals there except on slider turtle called Lucky. Since the fire, shop owner Bryan Dora claims, an image of Satan has appeared on Lucky’s shell. He told the Associated Press, "The marking on the shell was like the devil wanted us to know he was down there. To me, it's too coincidental that the only thing to come out unscathed would have this image on it." Lucky is otherwise unchanged, acting like a normal turtle in every way. Really. Until your back is turned. Then the mark on Lucky's back becomes the Virgin Mary.

Count on Drudge!
From today’s Drudge Report:
PLAYGIRL editor-in-chief Michele Zipp has been stripped of her duties after she revealed how she voted Republican in the 2004 election.

Zipp, in an e-mail, claims she was fired after an onslaught of liberal backlash.

"Hello Drudge,

"After your coverage of my article about coming out and voting Republican, I did receive many letters of support from fellow Republican voters, but it was not without repercussions. Criticism from the liberal left ensued. A few days after the onslaught of liberal backlash, I was released from my duties at Playgirl magazine.

"After underlings expressed their disinterest of working for an outed Republican editor, I have a strong suspicion that my position was no longer valued by Playgirl executives. I also received a phone call from a leading official from Playgirl magazine, in which he stated with a laugh, "I wouldn't have hired you if I knew you were a Republican.

"I just wanted to let you know of the fear the liberal left has about a woman with power possessing Republican views."

Softcore Republicans!
I agree with Ms. Zipp. The liberal left does not want strong Republican women selecting their photographs of rockers with ripped abs.

On the other hand, being editor of PLAYGIRL, I assume that Ms Zipp was responsible for printing this blub on PLAYGIRL’s website: “She ended up bare-assed in some Kung Pao, her legs wrapped around the man she just dumped. When you think you're over your ex, why does sex get in the way? Kimber Pflaum's in-it-up-to-her-implants look at ex sex.”

Hey, if that doesn’t reflect Republican values, what does?

James Wolcott’s blog weighs in.
Here’s what he said about our Republicans’ concern for Ms. Schiavo: “They're treating this poor woman as if she were their personal pet rock.”

Can we stop using these words now?


Dear Blog

The Child Bride and I spent the weekend celebrating our 3rd anniversary by taking the train to Sacramento. Why? Well, we could barely afford anything else. Truth be told, we could scarcely afford THAT trip. Still, one must escape one’s circumstances from time to time, or one will go mad, won’t one? Pretense, on occasion, is a great healer. And the idea of traveling to a mid-sized boring city, with no delusions about being anything else, had its appeal to me. San Francisco, in case you didn’t know - though I love it dearly - is rather full of itself.

We had planned to leave on Friday, when the wife was done with work. Public transportation did not cooperate with us. There was some kind of “incident” in the downtown tunnels, causing me to leave my semi-beloved N-Judah, and try to meet my wife at her place of employment (SF Symphony) via streetcar. The streetcar not being forthcoming, I called the wife on the cell phone and told her to meet me at Van Ness and Market. It was pouring rain and I was carrying (I’m exaggerating) 75 pounds of luggage.

Long story short? We barely made the bus that would take us to the train in Emeryville. The wife was irritated with me, from my habit of not dealing with frantic very well. I do not blame her. Many have been annoyed thus. I myself have been annoyed by my personal behavior. Frequently.

Arriving in Emeryville (or “E-ville,” as I’ve decided it needs to be dubbed- remind me to tell you about Emeryville some day), we discovered that our particular train had been delayed for four hours because of a “freight train trespasser incident,” according to the LED display above the tracks. (I discovered, upon our return, that the incident was - I believe - the death of a fifteen year-old boy from Fremont, hit by a 60 car freight train in circumstances unknown, causing system-wide delays, and attendant grief). Fortunately for us, previous trains had also been delayed, and we boarded one of those a mere two hours after its intended departure. This put us in Sacramento at 10:30 p.m., and in our TraveLodge by 11:00, where we blissfully watched cable television, and indulged in sexual activity until well past our normal bedtime.

Our motel lay in the shadow of the EPA building, an edifice you can probably visualize without much coaching from me. It was mainly dark. But on the tenth floor, or so, fluorescent lights revealed long receding rows of what were either file cabinets, or servers. Is there a difference, really? In the long run?

Overheard on bus
Student to friend, on cell phone: “I didden take no English.”

On the way back from Sacramento (more on this later- esp. our museum experiences), we stopped to visit my folks. My father is 86, my mother 80. Recounting a recent trip to the track, my father uncharacteristically began trashing other people: jockeys, of all people.

Specifically, he was annoyed by jockeys’ “strutting.” The wife pointed out that jockeys had to wear very tight clothing, which might induce involuntary strutting. My father was having none of that.

He was further irritated that jockeys had to be lifted onto the racehorses. When he was a boy, it seems, on a farm in North Dakota, if you couldn’t get on a horse by yourself, you weren’t allowed to ride it.

Life Lessons
Introspection reared its ugly head this weekend. And exospection as well.

I returned home to find, via e-mail, that another paying venue was now locked to me. “Going in a different direction” is the locution commonly used when notifying the lockout. This was the case here.

I won’t deny my own role in my own life, but still I must ask – for myself, and others in similar circumstances- when do you stop doing what you’re doing? If, in the past, you have had success with a certain kind of attitude or skill, and you are no longer enjoying that success, when do you discard those attitude or skills, or adapt them? When the horse changes beneath your legs? Or, if the horse remains the same, when the rules of the race become unreadable? Or when you look around for help getting on the horse, and the grounds and stands are abandoned? When the hungry crowd has moved on, to some as yet unfathomable entertainment?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The "scare quotes" blog

“News” you can use.
Government agencies, both national and state, increasingly make self-serving video press releases that are clones of newscast segments, with hired actors and agency employees pretending to be “reporters.” Television stations, short on cash, reporters, ideas for stories, and integrity, have aired these “reports” all over the country, without even bothering to inform viewers.

“Scare quotes”
They’re “fun,” aren’t they?

Marmite in the news!
The “scary” and strangely beloved British foodstuff, Marmite, was the subject of a recent advertisement in England, in which a giant brown blob was shown rolling on a street, terrifying some, and delighting others. The ad, according to Reuters, ended with Marmite’s slogan, “You either love it or hate it.”

The ad has been pulled after complaints from parents that their toddlers had been “terrified by the adverts, with four refusing to watch television after seeing them and two suffering nightmares.”

The Reuters article goes on to describe Marmite as a “dark brown savoury spread.”

Neo-con poster boy Paul Wolfowitz is President Bush’s choice to run the World Bank. He was one of the guys urging us to invade Iraq while the Twin Towers were still smoking.

He told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2002, "It is entirely possible that in Iraq, you have the most pro-American population that can be found anywhere in the Arab world."

As further defense of the Iraq War, he was quoted in VANITY FAIR in 2003: "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.”

The World Bank’s mission, by the way, “is to fight poverty and improve the living standards of people in the developing world. It is a development Bank which provides loans, policy advice, technical assistance and knowledge sharing services to low and middle income countries to reduce poverty.”

Hey Third World! Become a democracy! Get a loan! Or we’ll bomb your rubble to rubble.

Free Beatallica!
Beatallica, for reasons unknown, combines Beatles pop with Metallica heavy metal. It has been ordered by Sony, which owns the Beatles songs, to cease and desist. Beatallica’s songs include "Leper Madonna" and "Got to Get You Trapped Under Ice."

Despite Beatallica’s potential for file sharing abuse, one of the band’s supporters is Lars Ulrich of Metallica.

"All Americans need to watch what they say, watch what they do."
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer has a brand new booklike object out there: TAKING HEAT: THE PRESIDENT, THE PRESS, AND MY YEARS IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Look for it six months from now at a Goodwill store near you.

Reed and Sandra, friends of ours, got married semi-secretly last November, and had a wider reception last night. Reed is an improv actor and very funny writer, so the two of them encouraged performance at the event, which was held at the York Hotel's Plush Room, a venue generally reserved for high end cabaret performers. My partner Joshua, the wife, and I chose to perform "Mal Hombre," a song by 30's Tex-Mex songstress Lydia Mendoza (actually, it was totally my wife's idea). It is a song about a very bad former boyfriend. It was screamingly inappropriate, and went over quite well. Saw people I hadn't seen in years, people who had moved away, people who had gotten out of show business (excuse me, "show business"), and people who just don't leave the house much any more. Erm. Kind of like us.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Tell it to the Marines!

Take your Beemer and shove it, leatherneck.
The Detroit News reports the United Auto Workers International “will no longer allow members of the 1st Battalion 24th Marines to park at Solidarity House if they are driving foreign cars or displaying pro-President Bush bumper stickers.” Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge said that the debate over parking privileges was “silly.” Then the marines secured the area and called in an air strike.

The president of Malawi has moved out of his 300-room mansion, claiming that it’s haunted.

According to the Kansas City Star, Missouri Representative Russ Carnahan has “already received more than a thousand letters about President Bush's plan to add personal investment accounts to Social Security.”

Carnahan, a Democrat, told the Star, “I think you could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of letters that are for privatization," said Carnahan.”

I find it amusing that President Bush, having created deficits that put Social Security at risk, now wants to get rid of it altogether. Talk about blame the victim!

Old commies!
Charlie Jarvis, head of USANext, AARP’s nemesis, told the New York Times Sunday Magazine about his future plans to demonize the oldsters: “In a few weeks, there will be ads that very specifically and aggressively brand AARP for what they are, the planet's largest liberal lobbying organization. When they are honest about that, we will take a large number of their members away.”

Asked if he had anything good to say about AARP, he responded: “I have nothing positive to say about their goals. They are stodgy, out-of-date and they don't really know the facts about an issue like Social Security. We do.”

He’s right. Old people are ignorant and a drag on the economy. They should spend their waning days on this planet anxiously watching stock market returns.

End Time evidence, x in a series.
The New York Times informed me that the Style Network has introduced "’Craft Corner Deathmatch,’" an unconventional game show in which two amateur crafters go head to head in timed trials, trying to make the best pillow out of old couch fabric or a brooch using only candy.”

The loser will be secured by US Marines, and turned over to the custody of Charlie Jarvis.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ikea Ukea we all kea for Ikea

Talk it like you walk it?
The big CeBIT technology show in Germany unveiled new cell phones that send film clips, store hi-rez photos, and download and stream music. Oh, and you can make and take phone calls, if you’re into that.

One new phone unveiled Animated Instant Voice Messages. It converts text into speech that can synchronize with animated lips, superimposed on your own photograph. Doesn’t that sound useless and creepy?

It’s a kale world after all.
Organic grocery store giant, Whole Foods, is going into the theme park biz, kind of. According to USA Today, last week Whole Foods opened a giant “concept store,” next to their corporate headquarters in Austin, Texas.

The 80,000 square foot space is broken up into small-ish “food-centric” areas, like the “lands” at Disneyland. These include:

--Candy Island, where you can dip fresh strawberries in a chocolate fountain..

--Lamar Street Greens, “where you can sit among the organic produce and have a salad handmade for you to enjoy with a glass of Chardonnay.”

--Fifth Street Seafood, offering “fresh seafood items cooked, sliced, smoked or fried for instant eating.”

--Whole Body, “where a massage therapist will work the kinks out with a 25-minute deep-tissue massage for $50.”

Just give me my processed cheese, and get me of here.

No no, says founder John Mackey: “Whole Foods thinks shopping should be fun. With this store, we're pioneering a new lifestyle that synthesizes health and pleasure.”

Good luck with that. I’ll stick with the crack cocaine and sex, thank you.

King Tut not murdered!
Thank goodness they cleared that one up. I was losing sleep.

Did you know?
The wife, reading an E.F. Benson novel, asked if there was some connection between strawberry leaves and British royalty. It turns out there is. The strawberry leaf is the motif of coronets worn by dukes and duchesses (not the baronies, mind you!). If you are not a duke or duchess, and sport a coronet with this motif, remove it immediately. You are in violation of sumptuary laws!

There’ll always be a Norway. And Sweden.
The Prime Minister of Norway has blasted IKEA for not showing enough women in its advertisements. IKEA carries around 2,000 pieces of furniture, which the customer assembles, and not one of the instructional sheets shows a woman doing the assembly. The IKEA response was that the company did not want to offend Muslim buyers, to which a Muslim responded, "Muslim women can also put furniture together.”

The Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten, was told by IKEA's Swedish information chief Fredrik Wahrolén that assembly instructions with women did too exist.

“Wahrolén said a woman could be seen putting kitchen shelf ‘Värde’ together, as well as helping build the cabinet ‘Husar.’”

Breaking News!
My big fluffy cat is sitting on a piece of paper! Looking very pleased with herself!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Bereft Blog

Planning a vacation?
From Reuters:
A 14-ton "cursed" artwork that some in a northern English city wanted destroyed because they said it had brought misery and misfortune has been saved.

The city council has rejected a motion tabled by one of its members, Councilor Jim Tootle, that the "cursing stone" should be destroyed, blaming it for Carlisle's recent bad luck.

Since the boulder, which is inscribed with a 1,069-word curse, was installed in one of the city's museums in 2001, Carlisle has been plagued by floods, foot-and-mouth disease, sporting humiliation and job losses.

Written by the Archbishop of Glasgow in the 16th century, the curse was directed at "reivers" who terrorized the area with blackmail, rape, pillage and robbery.

Debate about the stone has attracted worldwide interest in Carlisle's woes. Spoon-bending Israeli psychic Uri Geller even offered to "save" Carlisle by exorcising the curse of evil forces in his healing garden.

"The right decision was made because there was no logical reason why the stone could be blamed for events," city council leader Mike Mitchelson said.

"We live in a modern era. People in Carlisle are sound, rational people and don't continue to live in medieval times."

Many other areas of Britain suffered from both foot and mouth disease and flooding, he added.

What the media don’t tell you.
The Carlisle cursing stone is in no way ancient. It was sculpted in 2001 for the local Tullie House Museum. The curse itself, however, was actually issued against the reivers by the Archbishop of Carlisle, Gavin Dunbar, in the 16th Century. The curse is apparently the longest recorded curse in the English language. Only part of it appears on the stone.

And the Reivers…?
For 350 years -until they were cursed, apparently - northern England and Scotland were plagued by what are now called the Border Reivers – an unaffiliated bunch of arsonists, kidnapers, rustlers, murderers, extortionists, and thieves who preyed on each other and anybody who passed by. They included tribal leaders, garden-variety outlaws, and peasants.

They turned to a life of crime, some say, because the constant wars between Scotland and England, and the constant battles fought on their lands, had made an ordinary life impossible. Their allegiances were not to Scotland or England but their clans.

“Reive” is a Scottish word for “raid,” also spelled “reave,” from whence we obtained “bereft” and "bereave."

Allegedly, the Reivers also introduced the word “blackmail” to the English language.

Oh, and William Faulkner wrote a novel called THE REIVERS, about car thieves in Mississippi. It was his last. It was made into a movie starring Steve McQueen in 1969.

The curse in its entirety, courtesy of the BBC (skip, if you have no enemies, otherwise cut and paste, deleting the anti-Semitic bits).
"I curse their head and all the hairs of their head; I curse their face, their brain (innermost thoughts), their mouth, their nose, their tongue, their teeth, their forehead, their shoulders, their breast, their heart, their stomach, their back, their womb, their arms, their leggs, their hands, their feet, and every part of their body, from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, before and behind, within and without."

"I curse them going and I curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them sitting; I curse them eating and I curse them drinking; I curse them rising, and I curse them lying; I curse them at home, I curse them away from home; I curse them within the house, I curse them outside of the house; I curse their wives, their children, and their servants who participate in their deeds. I (bring ill wishes upon) their crops, their cattle, their wool, their sheep, their horses, their swine, their geese, their hens, and all their livestock. I (bring ill wishes upon) their halls, their chambers, their kitchens, their stanchions, their barns, their cowsheds, their barnyards, their cabbage patches, their plows, their harrows, and the goods and houses that are necessary for their sustenance and welfare."

"May all the malevolent wishes and curses ever known, since the beginning of the world, to this hour, light on them. May the malediction of God, that fell upon Lucifer and all his fellows, that cast them from the high Heaven to the deep hell, light upon them."

"May the fire and the sword that stopped Adam from the gates of Paradise, stop them from the glory of Heaven, until they forebear, and make amends."

"May the evil that fell upon cursed Cain, when he slew his brother Abel, needlessly, fall on them for the needless slaughter that they commit daily."

"May the malediction that fell upon all the world, man and beast, and all that ever took life, when all were drowned by the flood of Noah, except Noah and his ark, fall upon them and drown them, man and beast, and make this realm free of them, for their wicked sins."

"May the thunder and lightning which rained down upon Sodom and Gomorra and all the lands surrounding them, and burned them for their vile sins, rain down upon them and burn them for their open sins. May the evil and confusion that fell on the Gigantis for their opression and pride in building the Tower of Babylon, confound them and all their works, for their open callous disregard and opression."

"May all the plagues that fell upon Pharoah and his people of Egypt, their lands, crops and cattle, fall upon them, their equipment, their places, their lands, their crops and livestock."

"May the waters of the Tweed and other waters which they use, drown them, as the Red Sea drowned King Pharoah and the people of Egypt, preserving God's people of Israel."

"May the earth open, split and cleave, and swallow them straight to hell, as it swallowed cursed Dathan and Abiron, who disobeyed Moses and the command of God."

"May the wild fire that reduced Thore and his followers to two-hundred-fifty in number, and others from 14,000 to 7,000 at anys, usurping against Moses and Aaron, servants of God, suddenly burn and consume them daily, for opposing the commands of God and Holy Church."

"May the malediction that suddenly fell upon fair Absolom, riding through the wood against his father, King David, when the branches of a tree knocked him from his horse and hanged him by the hair, fall upon these untrue Scotsmen and hang them the same way, that all the world may see."

"May the malediction that fell upon Nebuchadnezzar's lieutenant, Olifernus, making war and savagery upon true christian men; the malediction that fell upon Judas, Pilate, Herod, and the Jews that crucified Our Lord; and all the plagues and troubles that fell on the city of Jerusalem therefore, and upon Simon Magus for his treachery, bloody Nero, Ditius Magcensius, Olibrius, Julianus Apostita and the rest of the cruel tyrants who slew and murdered Christ's holy servants, fall upon them for their cruel tyranny and murder of Christian people."

"And may all the vengeance that ever was taken since the world began, for open sins, and all the plagues and pestilence that ever fell on man or beast, fall on them for their openly evil ways, senseless slaughter and shedding of innocent blood."

"I sever and part them from the church of God, and deliver them immediately to the devil of hell, as the Apostle Paul delivered Corinth. I bar the entrance of all places they come to, for divine service and ministration of the sacraments of holy church, except the sacrament of infant baptism, only; and I forbid all churchmen to hear their confession or to absolve them of their sins, until they are first humbled / subjugated by this curse."

"I forbid all christian men or women to have any company with them, eating, drinking, speaking, praying, lying, going, standing, or in any other deed-doing, under the pain of deadly sin."

"I discharge all bonds, acts, contracts, oaths, made to them by any persons, out of loyalty, kindness, or personal duty, so long as they sustain this cursing, by which no man will be bound to them, and this will be binding on all men."

"I take from them, and cast down all the good deeds that ever they did, or shall do, until they rise from this cursing."

"I declare them excluded from all matins, masses, evening prayers, funerals or other prayers, on book or bead (rosary); of all pigrimages and alms deeds done, or to be done in holy church or be christian people, while this curse is in effect."

"And, finally, I condemn them perpetually to the deep pit of hell, there to remain with Lucifer and all his fellows, and their bodies to the gallows of Burrow moor, first to be hanged, then ripped and torn by dogs, swine, and other wild beasts, abominable to all the world. And their candle (light of their life) goes from your sight, as may their souls go from the face of God, and their good reputation from the world, until they forebear their open sins, aforesaid, and rise from this terrible cursing and make satisfaction and penance."

I want a cursing stone!
I too have suffered from sporting humiliation, and unsuccessful attempts by Uri Geller to exorcise my spoons. And reivers? Forget about it.

In other news!
From UPI, I learned that former Marine Sergeant Nadim Abou Rabeh has claimed that he was part of a “20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit.” He says that they “found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced,” on Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, not the next day, as announced by the US Army. Saddam was captured “after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed." Saddam himself fired at them from the second floor, before he was persuaded to surrender.

"Later on,” he said, “a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well."

With a cursing stone in it.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Blog Day Afternoon

Planning a vacation?
March 11-13 are “Frozen Dead Guy Days” in Nederland, Colorado, named for “Grandpa'' Bredo Morstoel, who died in 1989, was frozen by his grandson, and has been stored in a shed ever since. “Frozen Dead Guy Days” were first celebrated in 2002, as part of the town’s efforts to increase tourism.

Justice thwarted?
Martha Stewart is out of the stony lonesome, and back to her old profession of providing goods and services to obsessive/compulsive pathologically neat consumers, the kind of people who color-code their socks, hide their television sets in a closet, and only display books with pictures in them, preferably pictures of Tuscany. The nation, increasingly full of such people, seems grateful.

As a matter of fact, the nation seems increasingly full of two kinds of people, the first being the kind who refer to themselves as “foodies,” unironically, and think AMERICAN BEAUTY was a good movie. It wasn’t, by the way. The other kind are those who say things like “Missed you at the prayer meeting,” and think movies in general are probably a bad idea. These are the reds and blues, my friends, and I for one will have none of it. Oh, there’s the third type, the kind of people who separate America into reds and blues, and think that this classification actually means something.

Before her conviction, of lying to somebody about something or other, Martha Stewart was rumored to be something of a bee-hotch, as the young people say. But now that she has been released, she hasn’t acquired any prison tattoos, but she has apparently acquired a kinder, gentler personality.

This has a certain type of person worried. Okay, there’s a fourth type. The type of person who doesn’t have enough things to worry about. Nino Marino, a defense lawyer in Beverly Hills, told the New York Times that Martha’s Stewart’s sentence “… achieved everything the government wanted it not to achieve. From the government's perspective, the objective of incarceration is to punish someone, and I think that Martha Stewart has, ingeniously, instead of being punished turned it to her advantage."

She turned jail time to her advantage, the fiend. The arch-fiend.

David Becker, a former general counsel at the Securities and Exchange Commission, told the Times, “The criminal justice system is not about cleansing one's soul."

So if you’re going to cleanse your soul, you felons out there, don’t do it on the criminal justice system’s dime.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A series of unfortunate references

Weather report.
The recent storm on the East Coast was described as a Nor’wester, a word that always makes me happy to see. Just reading it makes me feel salty, and want to start dropping words like “lanyard,” “belowdecks,” and “jib” into everyday conversation.

I know that there are also Sou’easters, but they’re just not the same, are they? As for Nor’easters, and Sou’westers, well, I sneer at them. They are yuppie scum storms.

Around the world.
Steve Fossett landed in Kansas, having completed the world’s first nonstop flight around the world. The media describe him as a “millionaire adventurer.” Are there any other kind of adventurers? Middle class adventurers? Homeless adventurers?

Spring Break Shark Attack.
This heavily-touted television program has me quivering in anticipation. Babes in bikinis! Primitive predators! Who says the culture’s on the skids? Now if they would only throw a serial killer into the mix, I would be one happy consumer. Fingers crossed!

Byrd in hand.
This AP headline caught my eye: “Byrd Denies Comparing Republicans to Nazis.” Apparently, in a speech “criticizing a Republican plan to block Democrats from filibustering President Bush's judicial nominees,” Senator Robert Byrd said, "We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men. But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends." He later claimed that Republicans are prepared to “callously incinerate each Senator’s right of extended debate," thus comparing putting a lid on Senatorial blabbing to the Holocaust. Now that's rhetoric!

Republicans responded!
Rick Santorum said that Byrd’s remarks "lessen the credibility of the senator and the decorum of the Senate." Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee said the remarks were "poisonous rhetoric." both "reprehensible and beyond the pale." Matt Brooks, executive director of the vast Republican Jewish Coalition, said “With his knowledge of history and his own personal background as a KKK member, he should be ashamed for implying that his political opponents are using Nazi tactics."

Are Republicans a thin-skinned bunch of wusses, or are they jumping on an opportunity to make the aged Senator look like an asshole? Me, I suspect the latter.

Another unfortunate reference.
The wife and I dined at Mel’s Diner the other night, and I noticed that one of the items on Mel’s intricate menu was Pork Chop Hill, featuring (I think) a mound of pork chops designed to appeal to those hardy patrons who shout at a looming heart attack, “Bring it on!”

Now, Pork Chop Hill was a famous battle from the Korean War (commemorated in an excellent war movie of the same name, starring Gregory Peck). Naming dishes after brutal military encounters: is this a trend? Fallujah fries, anyone?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

booka blog!

A personal moment
There’s a homeless woman in my neighborhood, Valerie, who’s always singing nonsense songs into empty coffee cups. I was coming out of a shop, and bumped into her. She smiled, showing her upper gums and lower teeth, and said (I think) “The plane is perfect. Love in the truck stop.” Then she turned away, turned back, winked at me, and said, “The plane. The plane. Perfect.” Then she fisted the air with both arms, like a football player who’d just made a touchdown, and shouted, “Booka!”

We’re not in Oz any more.
This from the Lawrence Journal-World, out of Kansas:

“And concluding his backyard speech with a litany of Democratic values, he (Howard Dean) added: ‘This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good.’

“When told of Dean's remarks, Derrick Sontag -- executive director of the Kansas Republican Party -- said he was ‘shocked.’

“‘My immediate reaction to that whole dialogue is, it's full of hatred,’ Sontag said. ‘The Democratic Party has elected a leader that's full of hatred.’”

And what is the executive director of the Kansas Republican Party full of? Anybody?

Ann Coulter wants to be a liberal?
From her column:

“The heretofore-unknown Jeff Gannon of the heretofore-unknown 'Talon News' service was caught red-handed asking friendly questions at a White House press briefing. Now the media is hot on the trail of a gay escort service that Gannon may have run some years ago. Are we supposed to like gay people now, or hate them? Is there a Web site where I can go to and find out how the Democrats want me to feel about gay people on a moment-to-moment basis?”

Anybody want to start a website for her? Sounds like she needs some help.

Gannon news!

He's back!

The crawl at the top of the site says, "So feared by the left, they had to take me down."

He writes, "If I had been a liberal reporter with the salacious past now attributed to me, I would be the Grand Marshall of the next Gay Pride Parade as well as a media darling, able to give softball interviews. But because I am a conservative, they continue to try to smear me with allegations of behavior that they otherwise would vigorously defend."

In his column he also uses the word "operative," and nowhere refers to himself as gay. Ann Coulter? He's single!