Monday, April 27, 1998

Dick Armey asked why to give a reason for opposing the tobacco bill: "No, I can't." Why not? "Because I don't want to." The #2 leader of the House of Representatives, ladies and gentleman!

Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-KKK), the rejected appeals court judge and now on the Judiciary Committee, has been know to ask nominees "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the ACLU?"

Best phrase for Starr et al: "The scandal-industrial complex."

Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee accuses environmentalists of worshipping the earth and not god.

China is trying to clone pandas, which as we all know don't breed well in captivity, and China has pretty much destroyed their natural habitat, and they only go into heat once a year anyway. Still, even I know that when the gene pool is as shallow as it is for this species, cloning is just gonna make it shallower.

I trust everyone followed the state elections in Saxony-Anhalt this weekend. The rabidly racist German People's Union (DVU), which didn't even exist a couple of years ago, won 13%, entirely at the expense of the Christian Democrats. The good news is that with Kohl's support evidently having collapsed in the ex-East Germany, he should be voted out of office nationally in a few months time, and the nation's bed-testers will have an easier job of it. The bad news is that democracy has entirely failed to take root in East Germany, which only ever voted for the ChristDems to get loot and jobs, which never materialized. A full one-fourth of first-time voters went for the DVU. That's a lot of skin heads.

According to Molly Ivins, Canada's national motto is "Let's not get excited." For once, Ivins is quite wide of the mark. Canada's motto is actually "Let's not get excited, eh?"

Saturday, April 25, 1998

The British Labour party has started giving potential candidates for local councils literacy and math tests. Not everyone is passing.

Stupid website of the week: See if you are inspired to give money to this poor beleaguered woman.

Imelda Marcos has signed to do commercials for Harvey Nichols's new shoe departments.

British zoos and wildlife parks are selling off ostriches, bison, wild boar etc to be sold (or bred) as exotic food.

In Britain, a 92-year old is divorcing his wife of 70 years. No, the children are not dead.

I said the Asian economic situation would produce racism, but it gets worse. Malaysia has started poisoning the water of the refugee camps it interns Indonesians in. The sweep is subtly named Operation Go Away.

Friday, April 24, 1998

The IRA has displayed its commitment to peace and nonviolence by shooting a 79-year old in both kneecaps and both ankles.

The famed Washington Correspondents Dinner will air Saturday afternoon on C-SPAN. Everyone will be watching because Paula Jones and Billy Bob Bubba will both be there.

Favorite headline in today's London Times: "Oriental Elvis Impersonators Attacked Diners".
The IRA has displayed its commitment to peace and nonviolence by shooting a 79-year old in both kneecaps and both ankles.

Thursday, April 23, 1998

The pope says that the end of the world is not nigh, so far as he knows. I know I'll sleep better tonight.

Texas screws up a lethal injection. So the guy gets two sets of last words. Neither of them interesting.

A new book says that pirates were actually democratic, not especially violent (only one documented instance of someone being made to walk the plank), multi-racial, egalitarian, and all that other good '90s stuff.

In a few hours, the big show-down in the Russian Duma. To recap, the boy wonder Yeltsin appointed as Prime Minister only needed to be named because Yeltsin never bothered to read the constitution under which he allegedly operates, and thought he could fill the position himself. If the Duma rejects him a 3rd time, which seems to depend on whether or not they can vote secretly, Yeltsin gets to dissolve the Duma, at which point he has threatened to have all its members evicted from their Moscow flats, which means eviction from Moscow, since the mayor, who doesn't believe in the constitution either, retains Soviet-era residency permits. Yeltsin also plans to unconstitutionally rewrite the election laws in the absence of the Duma, and the puppet he named to head the electoral commission has threatened to keep all existing parties out of the elections. The Communists don't want early elections, but they don't want to try to face the electorate in a year having given in to Yeltsin now. Childish, vindictive, petty, calculating, arrogant: I think they've finally mastered the principles of democracy.

That couple in marriage counselling in Fresno: you have to question how seriously they were trying to make it work when they both came packing heat.

Of the major candidates running for governor of California, Harman, Checchi and Lungren have never had any children in the public school system (Davis has no children). Do they at least buy lottery tickets?

Tuesday, April 21, 1998

Gingrich says Joe Camel isn't so bad, but Leonardo DiCaprio is to blame, for smoking in Titanic. I agree, let's castrate Leo.

Rep Dan Burton calls Clinton a "scumbag", and will release Webster Hubbell's prison phone conversations, which would be illegal for anyone else to do.

Crappy Georgian history professors fight to the death: Gingrich may face a challenge for his seat by Christina Jeffrey, who he once appointed House Historian, until her remarks in favor of equal rights for the views of Nazis in educational programs about the Holocaust came to light.

In Miami, police hauled a 10-year old boy to jail because he kicked his mother in a restaurant, charged with domestic battery. The cops say that the domestic violence law required the arrest.

China bans door to door salesmen, fearing that Mary Kay and Amway are ideological cults run by charismatic leaders.
Delaware driver's licenses are to indicate sex offenders. You know, to show that drivers have to wear corrective lenses, not have a child in the trunk, that sort of thing.

California leg. fails to repeal the old law letting state and local governments fire members of the Communist Party. The impressive thing is that there are still Republicans willing to support it.

Netanyahu agrees to meet with Arafat. At the same time, he invites into government the Moledet party, which supports the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

For those following the love life of the rhino named Frikkie who lives just outside Kruger Park in South Africa, you will be delighted to learn that he has finally successfully mated with a member of his own species, after squashing several zebras.

With all the panic about pervs in schools, California now requires fingerprints, as do many other states, no doubt soon to be all of them. The problem with this is that not everyone has fingerprints. Recently fired: a social studies teacher with atopic dermatitis. But anyone who has worked with harsh cleaning supplies and such like chemicals might have the same problem. Simple solution, I'd have thought: ear prints.

Monday, April 20, 1998

Good things fall from the sky

Bernard Lewinsky in LA Times interview about daughter Monica: "She's a very smart, intelligent, beautiful girl who's going to go places, and
unfortunately she's taking her licks...."

And giving them.

Mississississississippi state rep. Bobby Moak (R-Taliban) proposes a law for people caught with marijuana to face "the removal of a body part in lieu of other sentences imposed by the court for violations of the Controlled Substances Law", the specific body part to be chosen by negotiation.

Sunday, April 19, 1998

Russian irony

Sarov is one of those old Soviet closed cities that doesn't appear on maps. There are still closed cities, which in practice means that no visitors are allowed, all phone calls are monitored, and the place is surrounded by a fence and heavily guarded. Sarov is where the a- and h-bombs were developed and now has a population of 80,000. Liberals in the Duma proposed opening it up, but the residents decided that given the way the rest of Russia is going, they would just as soon keep the barbed wire fence, thank you very much. The lesson is that good fences, interior ministry troops, gun emplacements, internal passports, and restricted rail access, make good neighbors.

Saturday, April 18, 1998

A miracle of technology that I first heard of a year or two ago: the self-chilling soda can. You activate it and two minutes later the contents are cold. Is that great or what? Unfortunately, any widespread use would have turned the Earth's atmosphere into something resembling that of Venus very quickly, but they have changed the coolant. It can also be used on ice cream. Did you know 1 trillion soda cans are sold every year?

In the race for the bottom, a Texas state legislator proposes a bill to execute 11-year olds.

Speaking of dead children, guess what Renault uses to test car safety?

The answer is dead children, it wasn't a trick question.

The archbishop of Turin says that any priest who visits the Shroud of Turin can absolve women for abortion, which normally requires excommunication. I'll never understand the Catholic church. A get out of hell free card as a promotional item for a tourist attraction.

Thursday, April 16, 1998

Pol Pot is dead, and we really mean it this time. Fortunately, if the war crimes tribunal is looking for a suitable subject, Henry Kissinger, who just this week talked about "the so-called bombing of Cambodia", is still alive.

Virginia executed a Paraguayan in violation of the Vienna Convention. The State Department says it has in fact provided the proper remedy to Paraguay: it has apologized and promised that it may not happen again, unless it does.

One of the escapees from the Bay of Pigs admits having eaten another, while lost at sea. Insert your own joke here relating "Bay of Pigs" to "the other white meat".

The Christian Right is lining up behind Senator John Ashcroft as its candidate for president in 2000. Keep an eye out.

The NY Times has a story about Idaho on today's front page, which shows how big a news day this was. The capitol of Republicanism and child abuse of the US. There's not much crime, but they're still sending a lot of people to jail--just mostly people who didn't do anything much.

NY Times headline reports that, after bits of Yankee Stadium fell down, "Yankees Are on First at Shea/ And the World Doesn't End"

Saturday, April 11, 1998

Concrete submarines and other scientific marvels

You think I'm kidding about the concrete submarine, don't you? No no no. Today's London Sunday Times, besides going over every piddling detail of the failed Irish peace accord (just thought I'd be the first to use that phrase), has been dominated by the Wonders of Science and the Horrors of Medicine.

First, a couple of items that don't fit into my theme: a Japanese POW who has been in Siberia since 1945 went back home this week. Evidently, no one ever bothered trying to find them after the last (in theory) batch was released in 1956.

China has been developing a practice of investigative journalism, at least in Guangdong province. The up-side: sometimes their stories get people executed, like an official who hit-and-ran, thinking he could get away with it. Woodward and Bernstein, eat your hearts out.

In the twenty or so years after WW II, Sweden, previously known for sterilizing the retarded, also had an official but illegal program of lobotomizing mental patients, including children, without getting relatives' permission. Maybe 4,500.

South Africa has its first white witch doctor.

The first transplant of a genetically manipulated pig heart into a human will occur in Israel. Yes, yes, I know, but evidently it is kosher.

A British company is selling a motorcycle capable of going 225 mph. They won't say why.

A popular science book is reviewed in the Times, called "Why Is Sex Fun?"

Russian nuclear power plants. The Y2K bug. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Bored Saudi princesses, stuck in palaces but whose bills are paid by the taxpayers (and there are 5,000 princes and princesses!), have found an escape: internet chat rooms. Of course Saudi Arabia has no internet provider, so they dial up London or the US, so it's a bit pricey.

I promised concrete submarines, here they are:

The Sunday Times
Sunday April 12 1998 NEWS: BRITAIN

Russia makes waves with concrete sub
by Hugh McManners

IT floats like a brick but stings like a bee. The Russian navy is developing a concrete submarine that is designed to master the waves by sitting on the ocean floor.

The heavier-than-water submarines will lie at hitherto impossible depths and attack surface vessels with vertically fired torpedoes. Their concrete hulls and silent propulsion systems will make them invisible to sonar, while their angle of fire from the sea bed will allow them to cover swathes of ocean above.

Defence sources say they believe the Russians are close to perfecting the c-subs, as they are known in industry circles, and may already have launched test vessels. The craft, which are based on 30-year-old designs for underwater aircraft, could revolutionise marine warfare.

The most robust of conventional submarines can only submerge to 1,800 feet because of the high water pressure exerted on their steel hulls. They are also buoyant and submerge themselves only by filling their internal tanks with water.

C-subs, however, will descend to the deepest ocean beds under their own weight where they will operate as silent predators. External "listening pods" will detect the movement of surface craft and target them with torpedoes.

The c-subs move like jet aircraft, with wings that create "lift" when the vessels move forward. The jets can be rotated to provide lift from the sea floor using swivelling nozzles similar to those on Harrier jump jets.

The battery-powered engines are modelled on gas turbines, sucking in water at the front before forcing it out at the back under high pressure, creating thrust. The batteries will be stored in the concrete hull: unlike conventional submarines there is no weight limit, so large numbers of cells can be carried.

The c-subs will use a minimal crew, who will operate in cabins the size of a minibus. The craft would be expected to hunt in "wolf packs", rather like the German U-boats during the second world war, using the most advanced weapons technology available.

Sources at Dera, Britain's military research establishment, say the Russians have also made and tested a torpedo which can travel three times faster than the Royal Navy's weapons.

Codenamed Shkval, the torpedo uses drag reduction technology to travel at 200 knots (230mph), making it virtually undetectable and giving ships under attack no time to take evasive action. The drag reduction is achieved by using engine power to aerate the water in front of the torpedo so that it flies through air bubbles rather than water. This greatly reduces the drag of the water, enabling extremely high speeds.

This technology could be applied to the concrete submarines themselves, allowing them to break the 60-knot speed barrier of conventional undersea vessels.

The idea for concrete submarines that fly like aircraft was developed and patented by Heinz Lipschutz, a German marine engineer, between 1957 and the late 1980s. He said he repeatedly tried to interest the Royal Navy in the concept, but instead was disappointed to see his ideas developed by German and Russian naval architects.

Julian Nettlefold, editor of Battlespace, the international defence electronics newsletter, said Britain was in danger of becoming outgunned underwater. "Other countries such as Germany, Russia and America are pushing ahead with research into this exciting concept. With these craft being potentially so cheap to make, there is the danger of countries such as Iran and Libya using them to threaten American carrier groups, or to barricade certain ocean routes," he said.

"It's a shame that Britain has failed to take this idea seriously."

Friday, April 10, 1998

The World Court has intervened in a US criminal case for the first time. Virginia is about to execute a Paraguayan citizen contrary to a US-Paraguay treaty. Virginia, of course, does not care.

California is trying to execute a crazy man. Now if he does get sent to an institution instead, shouldn't any psychiatrists attending him be subject to losing their licenses, like doctors who participate in lethal injections, since any cure would result in execution?

In an orgy of self-delusion, a Northern Ireland "Easter Peace" is signed. How this worked is that a whole array of new bodies will be set up, giving every party to the accord something to undermine, like children happily breaking their new toys on Christmas Day. The assembly will create an executive at which, presumably, Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley are expected to sit at the same table. The people I feel sorry for are the Welsh and Jerseyans who have to be on the Council. Since the Unionists wouldn't have accepted a council with just Irish and North Irish representatives, Blair drafted in members of the Welsh assembly, the Scottish parliament, and the whatever they call thems of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Blair tried to call this the Council of the British Isles, but the Irish objected to the word British, so they'll have to have endless debates about a better name. Meanwhile, to show how well peace is taking effect, the IRA conducted two kneecappings yesterday and a new wall is being built to separate Catholics and Protestants in north Belfast.

Thursday, April 09, 1998

Last week I mentioned that the gangster and convicted felon Andrei "The Pimple" Klimentyev had been elected mayor of Russia's 3rd-largest city Novgorod. I neglected to follow up when he was deposed almost immediately on a fraud charge, which turned out to be for making campaign promises he couldn't possibly fulfill.

Looking at Clinton's continued popularity, Bob Packwood is thinking about going back into politics. The Slate suggests the slogan "Still Packing Wood".

The British, who are slow but steady in these matters, have figured out who the four people were who killed King Harold in 1066. The descendants of one of them are still farming the 4,000 acres they were given as a reward.

In 1984, the California Department of Corrections removed from its list of official goals "rehabilitation".

William Safire's NY Times column for today decries Clinton's being allowed to make far-reaching arguments for executive privilege in secret session, for no obvious legitimate reason. Andrew Sullivan's op-ed piece notes that while Clinton opposes job discrimination against gays, as commander in chief he has now fired more gays than any other employer in the US. Sullivan asks "Is is too much to ask that this President finally live up to his own words? Or with this President, is that now utterly beside the point?" I assume that's a rhetorical question, Andrew.

Tuesday, April 07, 1998

Beaten up, raped, and speaking Albanian

From London Times:
"They're terrified of Bill Clinton, completely terrified," a leading conservative lobbyist said. "They're afraid that if they get in a room with him they'll be beaten up, raped, come out speaking Albanian - they don't know what horrible things will happen to them."

Also from London Times:
* Lord Hattersley, lifelong opponent of the Lords, made his maiden speech in the Upper House yesterday. Eloquent as ever, he offered a plausible case for taking a peerage. But every time a true Socialist rises, ennobled, in the Lords, a little fairy somewhere dies.

Quote from the judge who threw out the Paula Jones lawsuit: "Although it is not clear why plaintiff failed to receive flowers on Secretary's Day in 1992, such an omission does not give rise to a Federal cause of action in the absence of evidence of some more tangible change in duties or working conditions."

The New York Times notes that Pakistan just tested a missile capable of reacing Delhi, but fails to mention that it is named after the Afghan Muslim king who invaded India in the 12th century. India previously deployed a missile that will give Pakistan 3 minutes of reaction time. Good luck, guys.

A Reuters story begins: "The Taliban authorities amputated a hand of a convicted thief in a sports stadium here today and used the occasion to defend their human rights record."

The number of people expelled from the military for homosexuality has increased dramatically since Clinton's change of policy. DOD is blaming the gays, saying that people are claiming homosexuality as a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Thursday, April 02, 1998

Guns don't kill people, bullets do

This may or may not have been a real letter to USA Today: "I would like to commend the National Rifle Association on its program to teach youngsters how to use firearms safely. It works. Neither of the two young shooters in Jonesboro were injured."

Headline: "Clinton Gets Off". Yes he does, yes he does.

AARP poster girl: An 88-year old great-grandmother is arrested in Virginia for killing a guy.

A few years ago a San Francisco cop who likes to carry around a ventriloquist's dummy named Officer Brendan O'Smarty and who had gotten into some trouble with his superiors because they thought he should, oh, I don't know, catch criminals or something, initiated an initiative on the city ballot (cost = several hundred thousand dollars) and got the good people of Starship Frisco to validate his mid-life crisis. It seems he is now in dispute with the IRS, 'cause he's trying to write a certain chunk of wood off his taxes.

Some time ago I posted an article which said that ear-prints are as individual as finger-prints, but the first attempt (in Britain) to use them in a court of law was laughed out by the jury yesterday.